We have already mentioned several contemporary accounts about the review that some people experience when they leave their bodies. Obviously, this stage has something to do with the informal judgment or as a preparation for it.
In the lives of the saints and in spiritual literature, there exist stories about Guardian Angels taking the soul after death and accompanying it to heaven to worship before God. Frequently, as the soul is ascending to heaven, demons, upon seeing the soul, surround it intent on scaring it and carrying it away. This is because, according to Holy Scripture, after their expulsion from heaven, the fallen angels took over the area, if it can be called that, between heaven and earth. This is why Apostle Paul calls Satan "the prince of the power of the air" and his demons, spirits of wickedness in "heavenly" places, that is to say, in the sky or heavens (Eph. 6:12, 2:2). These wandering spirits of the heavens upon seeing a soul led by an angel approach it from all sides reproaching it for sins committed throughout its life. Being extremely insolent, they attempt to frighten the soul, bring it to despair and thus take hold of it. During this trial the Guardian Angel bolsters the soul and defends it. This is not cause to think that the demons have some power over the soul, because they too are subject to God's Judgment. The are spurred on to brazenness by the fact that the soul in its time on earth was submissive to them in certain things. Their logic is simple, "since you behaved as we do, then your place is with us."
In church literature these meetings with demons are called "trials" (from the Church Fathers, this theme is discussed by: St. Ephraem the Syrian, St Aphanasios the Great, St. Macarius the Great, St. John Chrysostom and others). The most detailed development of this idea is by St. Cyril of Alexandria in his "Word on the exodus of the soul," published in the "The Following Psalters." A pictorial depiction of this path is seen in the life of Saint Basil the New in the 10th century, when the reposed Saint Theodora recounts what she saw and felt after leaving her body. Further accounts can be found in the book "Eternal Mysteries from Beyond the Grave." While reading these accounts, keep in mind that much is described figuratively, because the arrangements of the spiritual world do not resemble ours.
K. Uekskuell, whose story we stated above, describes a similar meeting with the wicked ethereal spirits. This is what happened after the two angels came for his soul: "We began to ascend quickly. And by the degree of our ascension, increasingly greater became the expanse of space that was revealed before my eyes. And finally it took on such terrifyingly vast proportions that I was seized with a fear from the realization of my insignificance in comparison to this desert of infinity. Here also certain peculiarities of my vision became apparent to me. Firstly, it was dark and I saw everything clearly in the dark; consequently my vision received the capacity of seeing in the dark; secondly, I was able to include in the field of my vision such a vast expanse of space, which undoubtedly I would not have been able to do with my ordinary vision.
The conception of time was absent in my mental state at this time, and I do not know how long we were moving upwards, when suddenly there was heard at first an indistinct noise. And following this, having emerged from somewhere, with shrieks and rowdy laughter, a throng of some hideous beings began rapidly to approach us.
"Evil Spirits!" — I suddenly comprehended and appraised with unusual rapidity that resulted from the horror I experienced at that time, a horror of a special kind and until then never before experienced by me. Evil spirits! O, how much irony, how much of the most sincere kind of laughter would this have aroused in me only a few days ago. Even a few hours ago somebody's report, not only that he saw evil spirits with his own eyes, but only that he believed in their existence as in something fundamentally real, would have aroused a similar reaction! As was proper for an "educated" man at the close of the nineteenth century, I understood this to mean foolish inclinations, passions in a human being, and that is why the very word itself had for me not the significance of a name, but a term which defined a certain abstracted conception. And suddenly this "certain abstracted conception" appeared before me as a living personification. Even up to the present time I am not able to say how and why at that time, without the slightest trace of doubt, I recognized evil spirits to be present in that ugly sight. Undoubtedly only because such a designation of it was completely outside of the normal order of things and logic, for if a similar hideous sight appeared before me at another time, undoubtedly I would have said that it was some kind of fiction personified, an abnormal caprice of one's imagination. In short, everything else but in no way, of course, would I have called it a name by which I would have meant something which cannot be seen. But at the time, this designation of its nature took place with such rapidity, that seemingly there was no need to think about it, as if I had seen that which already was well known to me long ago; and since, as I already have explained, at that time my mental capacities functioned with such incomprehensible intensity, I therefore comprehended just as rapidly that the ugly outward appearance of these beings was not their real exterior; that this was some kind of an abominable show which was probably conceived with the purpose of frightening me to a greater degree; and for a moment something similar to pride stirred within me. I then felt ashamed of myself, for man in general, because in order to arouse fear in man, a being who thinks so much of himself, other forms of being have recourse to such methods which we ourselves use with respect to small children.
Having surrounded us on all sides, with shrieks and rowdy sounds the evil spirits demanded that I be given over to them, they tried somehow to seize and tear me away from the Angels, but evidently did not dare to do this. In the midst of their rowdy howling, unimaginable and just as repugnant to one's hearing as their sight was for my eyes, I sometimes caught up words and whole phrases.
"He is ours: he has renounced God," they suddenly cried out almost in unison. And here they lunged at us with such boldness that for a moment fear froze the flow of all thought in my mind.
"That is a lie! That is untrue!" Coming to myself I wanted to shout, but an obliging memory bound my tongue. In some way unknown to me, I suddenly recalled such a slight, insignificant occurrence, which in addition was related to so remote a period of my youth that, it seems, I in no way could have been able to recall it to mind.
I recalled how during my years of study, once having gathered at my friend's, after having spoken about school studies, we passed over to discussing various abstract and elevated topics — conversations which often were carried on by us.
"Generally speaking, I don't like abstractions," says one of my comrades, "but here you already have absolute impossibility. I am able to believe in some kind of power of nature which, let us say, has not been investigated. That is to say, I can allow for its existence, even when not seeing its clear cut, definite manifestations, because it may be very insignificant or combined in its effects with other powers, and for this reason difficult to grasp; but to believe in God, as a Being, individual and omnipotent, to believe — when I do not anywhere see clear manifestations of this Individuality — this already becomes absurd. I am told: believe. But why must I believe, when I am equally able to believe that there is no God. Why, is it not true? Is it also not possible that He does not exist?" Now my comrade turned to me for support.
"Maybe not," I let escape from my lips.
This phrase was in the full sense of the word an "idle statement": the unreasonable talk of my friend could not have aroused within me a doubt in the existence of God. I did not particularly listen to his talking; and now it turned out that this idle statement of mine did not disappear without leaving a trace in the air, I had to justify myself, to defend myself from the accusation that was directed against me, and in such a manner the New Testament statement was verified in practice: We really shall have to give an account for all our idle words, if not by the Will of God, Who sees the secrets of man's heart, then by the anger of the enemy of salvation.
This accusation evidently was the strongest argument that the evil spirits had for my perdition. They seemed to derive new strength in this for the daring of their attacks on me, and now with furious bellowing they spun about us, preventing us from going any further.
I recalled a prayer and began praying, appealing for help to those Holy Ones whose names I knew and whose names came to mind. But this did not frighten my enemies. A sad ignorant Christian only in name, I now, it seems, almost for the first time in my life remembered Her, Who is called the Intercessor for Christians.
And evidently my appeal to Her was intense. Evidently my soul was filled with terror, that hardly had I remembered and pronounced Her name, when about us there suddenly appeared a kind of white mist which soon began to enfold within itself the ugly throng of evil spirits. It concealed them from my eyes before they could withdraw from us. Their bellowing and cackling was still heard for a long while, but according to how it gradually weakened in intensity and became more dull, I was able to judge that the terrible pursuit was gradually being left behind.
The feeling of fear that I experienced took hold of me so completely that I was not even conscious of whether we had been continuing our flight during this terrible meeting or whether it stopped us for awhile. I realized that we were moving, that we were continuing to move upward only when the infinite expanse of space again spread itself before me.
Having passed through some of its distance, I saw a bright light above me, it resembled, as it seemed to me, our sunlight, but was much more intense. There, evidently, is some kind of kingdom of light.
"Yes, namely a kingdom, full of the power of light," guessing by means of a special kind of feeling yet not understood by me, I thought. Because there was no shade with this light. "But how can there be light without shade?" Immediately my perplexed conceptions made their appearance.
And suddenly we were quickly carried into the field of this light, and it literally blinded me. I shut my eyes, brought my hands up to my face, but this did not help since my hands did not give shade. And what did the like protection mean here anyway?
But something different happened. Majestically, without wrath, but authoritatively and firmly, the words resounded from above: "Not ready!"
And after that thereafter an immediate stop came to our rapid flight upward — we quickly began to descend.
But before we left this realm, I was endowed with the capacity to learn of one most wonderful phenomenon.
Hardly had the said words resounded from above when everything in that world it seems, each particle of dust, each slightest atom, responded to these words with their accord, as though a multimillion echo repeated them in a tongue unable to be perceived by hearing, but perceived and understood by the heart and mind, expressing its unison with the decision so decreed. And in this unity of will there was such wonderful harmony, and in this harmony so much inexpressive, exalted happiness, before which all our earthly charms and raptures appeared like a gloomy day without sunlight. This multimillion echo resounded in the form of an inimitable musical chord, and one's whole soul extended out towards it, wholly responding to it in a state devoid of any cares and in an ardent transport of zeal to be at one with this omnipresent, most wonderful harmony.
I did not understand the real sense of the words that were directed to me, that is to say, I did not understand that I had to return to earth and again live as previously. I thought that I was being carried to some other different parts, and a feeling of timid protest stirred within when before me. At first as hazily as in a morning mist, the outlines of a city were denoted before me, and following this, streets well known to me also became clearly visible.
Here I saw the building of the hospital, which was known, to me.
Approaching my lifeless body the Guardian Angel said "Have you heard the decision of God?" and pointing to my body commanded me : "Enter into it and prepare!" Following this both Angels became invisible to me."
K. Uekskuell continues to describe his return to the flesh, which had been lying in the morgue for thirty-six hours and how the medical personnel where astonished by the miracle of his return to the living. Soon after, K. Uekskuell went to a monastery to live out his live as a monk.