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Sunday, 15 December 2013

I thought I should like to visit Jupiter

I thought I should like to visit a world that was inhabited; also, one that was in advance of earth, and Jupiter was the one which I selected.

Now, said Aristotle, I have visited Jupiter many times; Voncelora has been there once or twice, and it will take us many days, as time is counted on earth, to go to Jupiter and return; for it is, even to an angel, a long distance, and the planet is very large, many times larger than earth, and we shall be obliged to rest on our way thither.

And so when we were fully refreshed, we three started; but we had not gone very far on our way, when we were joined by many other angels, for many new angels were eager to go, as was myself; and many archangels were delighted to take them, for they joyed in teaching wisdom. By the time we arrived on the planet Jupiter, we were a large company, and I have not yet discovered that angels visit a planet alone. We found Jupiter far in advance of earth in all things, more perfect in every way. We settled directly down upon the planet, and were met by a great concourse of the people there; for they are so far on in the scale of progress, they can perceive spirits and angels with their natural sight. Their material bodies are very light, ethereal, and intensely refined; they are very nearly in a spiritual condition. When I describe the planet Jupiter, and its inhabitants, it will show what Earth and its inhabitants are to be some day.

The surface of the planet was gently undulating; there were no volcanoes; there was no fire upon the planet of any kind; fires had long since ceased to exist, and consequently the need of fire. Water had become so light and airy, it did not have the power of drowning anything, although it lay in beautiful lakes and small seas all over the planet, but it was not very deep anywhere, for the reason that the planet has lost its inequalities; all its surface has become smoothly undulating. It is never cold, it is never hot; it is so far removed from the sun, and its atmosphere is so rare, and so many miles in thickness, that the rays of the sun are greatly scattered and modified. It is never cold there, because the air is so many miles in thickness, and because it does not rush rapidly and create great vacuums. Consequently there are no storms of any kind, except occasionally, soft gentle rain. There is no snow, there is no ice, for it is never cold enough to freeze. There are gentle breezes, but no high winds; there is occasionally a little thunder and lightning.

From Jupiter's surface his moons look very nearly as bright as the sun, and give him almost as much light; he has no extremely dark nights, his darkest hours are not much darker than earth's twilight; therefore, he needs no artificial lights, and if he did he could not have any, for fire has ceased to be with him. Go where one will, upon his surface, there are always three large planets visible in his heavens, giving him light, besides the stars, and the stars appear much larger to him than they do to the earth, because of his rare and extensive atmosphere, and for the same reason the sun and Jupiter's four moons appear much larger and their light is more diffusive. When the sun is visible there are also two moons shining, and his moons are much larger than earth's moon. When the sun sets there are three moons visible; one near the zenith, one in the north, and one in the south, and the sun has left a pathway of golden light behind it that does not disappear until it is about time for it to rise again in the east, and long before it rises it is heralded in the same way by a broad pathway of beautifully coloured light. The people eat no flesh; that has long since been a thing of the past, and their record calls it the barbarous age, or the age of death. No animal is ever killed there, and if such a thing were to occur it would be considered murder in the first degree. Many animals that are known to earth have long since disappeared from off the face of Jupiter.

Cereals, fruit and vegetables are all the food they have, and all they want or require; but their cereals and vegetables are not like those of earth, for cooking is not known on the planet Jupiter. Their vegetables are more in the form of large sweet ground nuts that do not require cooking. Their fruits are more like large apples, bananas, oranges, coconuts and sweet bread fruit. Their cereals are all very different from those of earth. They have corn, but it is very large, sweet, soft and milky, and they merely eat it one kernel at a time. They have oats, but they grow very large and sweet; none but the animals eat them. There is wheat and various other small grains, but only the birds and animals eat these; they are not needed by man on the planet Jupiter. The most brilliant and beautiful flowers grow in all available places. There are no very steep or high mountains, there are no pine trees, there are no serpents. None of the lower animals exist there now; they have long since had their day.

The age of man on the planet Jupiter is a thousand of earth's years; and he does not die as man on earth does; he at length becomes so ethereal that he ascends into the heavens in plain sight of the inhabitants, merely shaking off as it were, a little of the material body that is too heavy to ascend. The people on the planet Jupiter are very large; they are born in pairs, male and female, and there is no death either by disease or accident; that has long ceased to be with them. The male and female are one from their birth, man and wife, and remain so until their ascension.

The planet Jupiter has long since ceased to multiply in numbers, they merely hold their own, and the man and wife never have but two children which are born at the same time and are the future man and wife to be. The inhabitants of Jupiter are very far on their road to perfection; they are extremely wise and God-like. Although they are very large, yet they are extremely light and very beautiful. When the children are born they know very nearly as much as the wisest man does on earth, and in three days from their birth they walk and talk and appear somewhat as your boys and girls do at twelve years of age. Very little clothing is needed on the planet Jupiter, and very little is worn. One soft flowing garment is all they wear; it is always made in the same style, but they have many of various colours. They perform but very little labour, and very little is needed. They have no very large crowded cities or towns, and the population is quite evenly dispersed over the face of the globe. They do not buy, or sell, or barter in any way. Land is neither bought nor sold; and all their congregations meet in the open air. They have no winters, and the land produces all the year round. Their houses are all made out of a light material, something like bamboo, which grows extremely light and large, Their houses are built in two apartments; that is all, and all that is needed, a parlour and sleeping apartment. They do not need barns or outhouses, for they can gather their food as they wish to eat it, at all times, and do not need to store it.

They eat but once in their long day, and then at the noon-tide. Their table is spread beneath the branches of a great tree which bears, all the year round, a delicious bread-fruit; it is their principal food and would sustain them if they ate nothing else. They plant one of these trees whenever their children are born, and the life and bearing of the tree is about the length or the life of the man. They do not travel much and they have no cars, but there are very large animals there, something after the style of a camel, and when they travel they ride upon his back. This animal's gait is very swift and easy; great love exists between these animals and their owners. These animals are capable of talking in monosyllables, as for instance, yes and no; and many other monosyllabic words. They also have the power of smiling; they need no shelter and usually remain near the residences of their masters; they are not bought or sold, and very rarely produce more than two or three of their kind, but they are born singly.

The people do not have ships or vessels of any kind, for it is not needful, but there are very large birds, in form, something like a duck, that both fly and swim, and the inhabitants ride on the backs of these birds, and as no animal has any fear of man, but only love, they all delight to serve him, and one of the inhabitants of Jupiter looks as natural on the back of one of these birds as man on earth does on a horse, and the bird flies, or swims at its pleasure and to please the rider. The riders use motions and words in order to guide the birds, this is all that is necessary. There is no large ocean on the planet Jupiter, and there are no tides. The waters are never lashed into fury by storms or hurricanes. There are no cyclones or water-spouts. The planet has an abundance of water, but it is more evenly distributed than it is on the earth, owing to the planet's comparatively smooth and even surface; it has small seas and lakes with now and then a very broad and gently flowing river.

There are no kings, queens, or presidents upon the planet, for none are needed. The people have become so perfect that each one is a law unto himself; and there are no laws, or by-laws. Their music is beyond anything that I ever heard on the earth, and they often form into large bands, and their music is most heavenly. Their musical instruments I cannot describe, for they are not like those of earth, they have been improved, until they bear no resemblance to earthly ones They call the angels that visit them from the spheres of earth, fairies,or a word that means the same thing, little men. Their language is not like that of earth. The language which they speak has been simplified until there are but comparatively few words in it, and the same language is used all over the planet. There are no schools on the planet Jupiter, none are needed; the parents teach their two children all they themselves know; and they can know but very little more than they do, until they become entirely spiritualised. Angels from other planets are constantly visiting them and teaching them all they know. There is a great deal of uniformity on the planet, but it is of so high an order that one does not tire of it.

The belts of Jupiter are not visible to its inhabitants, they are hundreds of miles distant from its surface and beyond its atmosphere; they are composed of the worthless, or worn out atoms that constantly arise from the planet and are pushed up by its atmosphere, and as the ages roll on, they will be again revivified by a large comet, and at length become another moon.

Why is it, I asked, that they have no ships or vessels of any kind, on the planet Jupiter? And why do they not have carriages, cars and locomotives, the same as they do on earth?

My son, answered Aristotle, no planets or peoples have anything which they do not need. Jupiter was once in the same stage of progress that the earth is now, and then he had cars, carriages, locomotives and vessels of all kinds, but he has no need of those things at the present time; his commerce has long since ceased; the hurly burly and hurry of traffic is forever over with him; his inhabitants have all become even, one with another, their wants are so few and so easily supplied that he needs nothing which you did not find upon his surface. No kind of tree grows there heavier than the bamboo of earth; there is not a rock throughout the whole vast globe, and his weight is only about that of cork of the same size. The men on the planet Jupiter are large and light in accordance with the planet, as are also the animals and birds. As crowds and traffic are no longer a feature of the planet, of course cars, carriages, locomotives and ships would be superfluous. The people never travel very far at any time, and as the globe and the people are very uniform, there are no sights to see different from those which they see at home. The need of long journeys is over, therefore, their animals and birds are all they want. Cooking is a thing of the past, and all that labour with its appurtenances is over, and there is now no labour upon the planet, except to build a small bamboo house in which to retreat when they have those gentle rains and in which they sleep. Their only method of cutting the bamboo is by a long and sharp knife, which they make from the breast-bone of a bird; they do not kill the birds in order to make the knives, but only take the bones after the birds die a natural death. Each family have about half a dozen knives of various sizes, one with which they cut their fruit, and one, or two, with which to build their houses. They could not have anything made of iron, for that ore has long since disappeared from the planet. Their musical instruments are made chiefly from the intestines of their dead animals and bamboo. They make a kind of reed instrument, upon which they perform most wonderful music. Their garments are made from the skins of animals and birds; and their method of preparing the skins is this – When an animal dies, they carefully remove the skin, stretch and pin it to the earth, and then scrape it very thin and clean; they then allow it to remain in the sun until it is perfectly dry; they then rub it between their hands until it is very pliable and soft; it is then stretched again and colouring applied to it; and they have as many beautiful dyes as the rainbow, which they make by stirring together juices of various plants. They have no pottery, or crockery of any kind; they could not make it if they would, for the planet has long since ceased to furnish material; but gourds grow plentifully, and their few utensils are made out of gourds, and some of them are extremely beautiful, for they are painted and decorated in the most elegant manner. And now my son, said the great philosopher, we will turn our attention to other wonderful things in nature.

The Discovered Country

Detail of Jupiter's atmosphere, as imaged by Voyager 1 – NASA, Caltech / JPL