Many patients in hospitals have reported seeing beautiful fields and "paradises" while they are either unconscious or "clinically dead" before they are resuscitated. These visions are often accompanied by experiences of beautiful light and a being that approaches them with "love." In contrast, Some reports on this "other world" are sinister, which may indicate a foretaste of hell. Other visions include individuals "floating" above their own bodies while they are unconscious and seeing doctors and loved ones around them. Some even experience talking to "angelic beings" of different sorts and visiting physical proximities familiar to themselves while they were still alive. In spite of all of the speculations about this mysterious realm, Fr. Seraphim affirms that it lies in a sphere of existence between the physical earth and heaven and hell inhabited by the demons / fallen angels. He notes how mystical occult adepts have been able to travel in this realm, as evident in the writings of Emmanuel Swedenbourg (a seventeenth century Swede) and the 19th century Theosophists and spiritists. These visions are caused by demons who attempt to deceive souls that are disembodied before they pass onto the "toll houses." The toll-houses are not encountered in most "after death" experiences recorded in medical and occult literature but are known though Orthodox Christian sources such as the Lives of Saints and various Patristic writings.
The demons accuse the soul of evil deeds but angels sent from God try to outweigh the demons by bringing up the soul's righteous works and faithfulness to Christ. If the person's soul has more demonic weight then it is cast into hell to await the Last Judgment while those passing the demons ascend unto heavens to be with God. Orthodox literature affirms the existence of these toll-houses, from St. Paul's teaching on a "struggle not against flesh but against principalities, etc." The realm of the air is where the demons are condemned to tempt human souls before they are in turn sent to hell at the Last Judgment. Demons are of course invisible to human senses but the fruits of their actions are shown in the human misery, chaos and sin enveloping the world. Even though both demons and angels are beyond general human sense perception, they still belong to the realm of creation and thus "to this world." Furthermore, these sprits have definite forms and are finite in their movements (any quality of infinity belonging to God alone), so therefore they can be said to have "bodies" in a similar manner to the way humans do, if not physical ones. Fr. Seraphim places special emphasis, citing a great many prominent Orthodox Fathers and spiritual writers, on praying for the dead after because prayers help some souls attain to heaven by calling upon God's mercy with fervor.