Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road,

Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL


The Astral Plane

Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and



C W Leadbeater


Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24 -1DL



The Astral Plane

Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and



C W Leadbeater




London 1900.




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Blavatsky Writings Index





Few words are needed in sending this little book out into

the world. It is the fifth of a series of Manuals designed to

meet the public demand for a simple exposition of

Theosophical teachings. Some have complained that our

literature is at once too abstruse, too technical, and too

expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the

present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real

want. Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all.

Perhaps among those who in these little books catch their

first glimpse of its teachings, there may be a few who will be

led by them to penetrate more deeply into its philosophy, its

science, and its religion, facing its abstruser problems with

the student's zeal and the neophyte's ardour. But these

Manuals are not written only for the eager student, whom

no initial difficulties can daunt; they are written for the busy

men and women of the work-a-day world, and seek to make

plain some of the great truths that render life easier to bear

and death easier to face. Written by servants of the Masters

who are the Elder Brothers of our race, they can have no

other object than to serve our fellow-men..CONTENTS.



Introduction. 9

Scenery.—The Seven Subdivisions—Degrees of Materiality—

Characteristics of Astral Vision—The Aura—The Etheric

Double—Power of Magnifying Minute Objects—The

"Summerland"—Records of the Astral Light 17

Inhabitants.—I. Human. (1) Living:—The Adept or his

Pupil—The Psychically Developed Person—The Ordinary

Person—The Black Magician 29

(2) Dead:—The Nirmanakaya—The Pupil awaiting

Reincarnation—The Ordinary person after

Death—The Shade—The Shell—The Vitalized Shell—The

Suicide—The Victim of Sudden Death—The Vampire—The

Werewolf—The Black Magician after Death 35

II. Non-human:—The Elemental Essence—The Astral Bodies

of Animals—Various Classes of Nature-Spirits, commonly

called Fairies—KamadevasRupadevasArupadevas—The

Devarajas 62

III. Artificial:—Elementals formed Unconsciously—Guardian

Angels—Elementals formed Consciously—Human

Artificials—The True Origin of Spiritualism 87

Phenomena.—Churchyard Ghosts—Apparitions of the

Dying—Haunted Localities—Family Ghosts—Bell-ringing,

Stone-throwing, etc.—Fairies—Communicating Entities—

Astral Resources—Clairvoyance—Prevision—Second-Sight—

Astral Force—Etheric Currents—Etheric Pressure—Latent

Energy—Sympathetic Vibration—Mantras—Disintegration—

Materialization—Why Darkness is Required at a Seance

Spirit Photographs—Reduplication—Precipitation of Letters

and Pictures—Slate-writing—Levitation—Spirit Lights—

Handling Fire—Transmutation—Repercussion 104

Conclusion. 125.THE ASTRAL PLANE.



THOUGH for the most part entirely unconscious of it, man

passes the whole of his life in the midst of a vast and

populous unseen world. During sleep or in trance, when the

insistent physical senses are for the time in abeyance, this

other world is to some extent open to him, and he will

sometimes bring back from those conditions more or less

vague memories of what he has seen and heard there. When,

at the change which men call death, he lays aside his physical

body altogether, it is into this unseen world that he passes,

and in it he lives through the long centuries that intervene

between his incarnations into this existence that we know. By

far the greater part of these long periods is spent in the

heaven-world, to which the sixth of these manuals is devoted;

but what we have now to consider is the lower part of this

unseen world, the state into which man enters immediately

after death—the Hades or under world of the Greeks, the

purgatory or intermediate state of Christianity which was

called by mediaeval alchemists the astral plane. The object of

this manual is to collect and arrange the information with

regard to this interesting


region which is scattered through Theosophical literature,

and also to supplement it slightly in cases where new facts

have come to our knowledge. It must be understood that any

such additions are only the result of the investigations of a

few explorers, and must not, therefore, be taken as in any

way authoritative, but are given simply for what they are

worth. On the other hand every precaution in our power has

been taken to ensure accuracy, no fact, old or new, being

admitted to this manual unless it has been confirmed by the

testimony of at least two independent trained investigators

among ourselves, and has also been passed as correct by

older students whose knowledge on these points is

necessarily much greater than ours. It is hoped, therefore,

that this account of the astral plane, though it cannot be

considered as quite complete, may yet be found reliable as

far as it goes.

The first point which it is necessary to make clear in

describing this astral plane is its absolute reality. Of course

in using that word I am not speaking from that metaphysical

standpoint from which all but the One Unmanifested is

unreal because impermanent. I am using the word in its plain,

every-day sense, and I mean by it that the objects and

inhabitants of the astral plane are real in exactly the same

way as our own bodies, our furniture, our houses or

monuments are real—as real as Charing Cross, to quote an

expressive remark from one of the earliest Theosophical

works. They will no more endure for ever than will objects

on the physical plane, but they are nevertheless realities from

our point of view while they last—realities which we cannot

afford to ignore merely because the majority of mankind is

as yet unconscious, or but vaguely conscious, of their


No one can get a clear conception of the teachings of the

Wisdom-Religion until he has at any rate an intellectual

grasp of the fact that in our solar system there exist perfectly

definite planes, each with its own matter of different degrees

of density, and that some of these planes can be visited and

observed by persons who have qualified themselves for the

work, exactly as a foreign country might be visited and

observed; and that, by comparison of the observations of

those who are constantly working on these planes, evidence

can be obtained of their existence and nature at least as

satisfactory as that which most of us have for the existence

of Greenland or Spitzbergen. Furthermore, just as any man

who has the means and chooses to take the trouble can go

and see Greenland or Spitzbergen for himself, so any man

who chooses to take the trouble to qualify himself by living

the necessary life, can in time come to see these higher

planes on his own account.

The names usually given to these planes, taking them in

order of materiality, rising from the denser to the finer, are

the physical, the astral, the mental or devachanic, the buddhic,

and the nirvanic. Higher than this last are two others, but they

are so far above our present power of conception that for the

moment they may be left out of consideration. It should be

understood that the matter of each of these planes differs

from that of the one below it in the same way as, though to a

much greater degree than, vapour differs from solid matter;

in fact, the states of matter which we call solid, liquid, and

gaseous are merely the three lowest subdivisions of the

matter belonging to this one physical plane.

The astral region which I am to attempt to describe is.12

the second of these great planes of nature—the next above

(or within) that physical world with which we are all familiar.

It has often been called the realm of illusion—not that it is

itself any more illusory than the physical world, but, because

of the extreme unreliability of the impressions brought back

from it by the untrained seer. This is to be accounted for

mainly by two remarkable characteristics of the astral

world—first, that many of its inhabitants have a marvellous

power of changing their forms with Protean rapidity, and

also of casting practically unlimited glamour over those with

whom they choose to sport; and secondly, that sight on that

plane is a faculty very different from and much more

extended than physical vision. An object is seen, as it were,

from all sides at once, the inside of a solid being as plainly

open to the view as the outside; it is therefore obvious that an

inexperienced visitor to this new world may well find

considerable difficulty in understanding what he really does

see, and still more in translating his vision into the very

inadequate language of ordinary speech.

A good example of the sort of mistake that is likely to

occur is the frequent reversal of any number which the seer

has to read from the astral light, so that he would be liable to

render, say, 139 as 931, and so on. In the case of a student of

occultism trained by a capable Master such a mistake would

be impossible except through great hurry or carelessness,

since such a pupil has to go through a long and varied course

of instruction in this art of seeing correctly, the Master, or

perhaps some more advanced pupil, bringing before him

again and again all possible forms of illusion, and asking

him "What do you see?" Any errors in his answers are then

corrected and their.13

reasons explained, until by degrees the neophyte acquires a

certainty and confidence in dealing with the phenomena of

the astral plane which far exceeds anything possible in

physical life.

But he has to learn not only to see correctly but to

translate the memory of what he has seen accurately from

one plane to the other; and to assist him in this he is trained

to carry his consciousness without break from the physical

plane to the astral or devachanic and back again, for until that

can be done there is always a possibility that his recollections

may be partially lost or distorted during the blank interval

which separates his periods of consciousness on the various

planes. When the power of bringing over the consciousness

is perfectly acquired the pupil will have the advantage of the

use of all the astral faculties, not only while out of his body

during sleep or trance, but also while fully awake in ordinary

physical life.

It has been the custom of some Theosophists to speak

with scorn of the astral plane, and treat it as entirely

unworthy of attention; but that seems to me a mistaken view.

Most assuredly that at which we have to aim is the life of the

spirit, and it would be most disastrous for any student to

neglect that higher development and rest satisfied with the

attainment of astral consciousness. There have been some

whose karma was such as to enable them to develop the

higher mental faculties first of all—to overleap the astral

plane for the time, as it were; but this is not the ordinary

method adopted by the Masters of Wisdom with their pupils.

Where it is possible it no doubt saves trouble, but for most

of us such progress by leaps and bounds has been forbidden

by our own faults or follies in the past: all that we can hope

for is to win our way slowly step by step,.14

and since this astral plane lies next to our world of denser

matter, it is usually in connection with it that our earliest

super-physical experiences take place. It is therefore of deep

interest to those of us who are but beginners in these studies,

and a clear comprehension of its mysteries may often be of

the greatest importance to us, by enabling us not only to

understand many of the phenomena of the seance-room, of

haunted houses, etc., which would otherwise be inexplicable,

but also to guard ourselves and others from possible


The first introduction to this remarkable region comes to

people in various ways. Some only once in their whole lives

under some unusual influence become sensitive enough to

recognize the presence of one of its inhabitants, and perhaps,

because the experience does not repeat itself, they may come

in time to believe that on that occasion they must have been

the victims of hallucination: others find themselves with

increasing frequency seeing and hearing something to which

those around them are blind and deaf; others again—and

perhaps this is the commonest experience of all—begin to

recollect with greater and greater clearness that which they

have seen or heard on that other plane during sleep.

Among those who make a study of these subjects, some

try to develop the astral sight by crystal-gazing, or other

methods, while those who have the inestimable advantage of

the direct guidance of a qualified teacher will probably be

placed upon that plane for the first time under his special

protection, which will be continued until, by the application

of various tests, he has satisfied himself that each pupil is

proof against any danger or terror that he is likely to

encounter. But, however it may occur, the first actual.15

realization that we are all the while in the midst of a great

world full of active life, of which most of us are nevertheless

entirely unconscious, cannot but be a memorable epoch in a

man's existence.

So abundant and so manifold is this life of the astral plane

that at first it is absolutely bewildering to the neophyte; and

even for the more practised investigator it is no easy task to

attempt to classify and to catalogue it. If the explorer of some

unknown tropical forest were asked not only to give a full

account of the country through which he had passed, with

accurate details of its vegetable and mineral productions, but

also to state the genus and species of every one of the myriad

insects, birds, beasts, and reptiles which he had seen, he

might well shrink appalled at the magnitude of the

undertaking: yet even this affords no parallel to the

embarrassments of the psychic investigator, for in his case

matters are further complicated, first by the difficulty of

correctly translating from that plane to this the recollection of

what he has seen, and secondly by the utter inadequacy of

ordinary language to express much of what he has to report.

However, just as the explorer on the physical plane would

probably commence his account of a country by some sort

of general description of its scenery and characteristics, so it

will be well to begin this slight sketch of the astral plane by

endeavouring to give some idea of the scenery which forms

the background of its marvellous and ever-changing

activities. Yet here at the outset an almost insuperable

difficulty confronts us in the extreme complexity of the

matter. All who see fully on that plane agree that to attempt to

call up a vivid picture of this astral before those whose eyes

are as yet unopened is like.16

speaking to a blind man of the exquisite variety of tints in a

sunset sky—however detailed and elaborate the description

may be, there is no certainty that the idea presented before

the hearer's mind will be an adequate representation of the


FIRST of all, then, it must be understood that the astral

plane has seven subdivisions, each of which has its

corresponding degree of materiality and its corresponding

condition of matter. Although the poverty of physical

language forces us to speak of these subplanes as higher and

lower, we must not fall into the mistake of thinking of them

(or indeed of the greater planes of which they are only

subdivisions) as separate localities in space—as lying above

one another like the shelves of a book-case or outside one

another like the coats of an onion. It must be understood that

the matter of each plane or subplane interpenetrates that of

the plane or subplane below it, so that here at the surface of

the earth all exist together in the same space, although it is

true that the higher varieties of matter extend further away

from the physical earth than the lower.

So when we speak of a man as rising from one plane or

subplane to another, we do not think of him as necessarily

moving in space at all, but rather as transferring his

consciousness from one level to another—gradually

becoming unresponsive to the vibrations of one order of

matter, and beginning instead to answer to those of a higher

and more refined order; so that one world with its scenery



inhabitants would seem to fade slowly away from his view,

while another world of a more elevated character would dawn

upon him in its stead.

Numbering these subdivisions from the highest and least

material downwards, we find that they naturally fall into three

classes, divisions 1, 2, and 3 forming one such class, and 4, 5,

and 6 another, while the seventh and lowest of all stands

alone. The difference between the matter of one of these

classes and the next would be commensurable with that

between a solid and a liquid, while the difference between the

matter of the subdivisions of a class would rather resemble

that between two kinds of solid, such as, say, steel and sand.

Putting aside for the moment the seventh, we may say that

divisions 4, 5, and 6 of the astral plane have for their

background the physical world in which we live, and all its

familiar accessories. Life on the sixth division is simply like

our ordinary life on this earth, minus the physical body and

its necessities; while as it ascends through the fifth and

fourth divisions it becomes less and less material, and is

more and more withdrawn from our lower world and its


The scenery of these lower divisions, then, is that of the

earth as we know it; but in reality it is also very much more;

for when looked at from this different standpoint, with the

assistance of the astral senses, even purely physical objects

present a very different appearance. As has already been

mentioned, they are seen by one whose eyes are fully

opened, not as usual from one point of view, but from all

sides at once—an idea in itself sufficiently confusing; and

when we add to this that every particle in the interior of a

solid body is as fully and clearly visible as those on the

outside, it will be comprehended that under such conditions.19

even the most familiar objects may at first be totally


Yet a moment's consideration will show that such vision

approximates much more closely to true perception than

does physical sight. Looked at on the astral plane, for

example, the sides of a glass cube would all appear equal, as

they really are, while on the physical plane we see the further

side in perspective—that is, it appears smaller than the nearer

side, which is of course, a mere illusion. It is this

characteristic of astral vision which has led to its sometimes

being spoken of as sight in the fourth dimension—a very

suggestive and expressive phrase.

But in addition to these possible sources of error matters

are further complicated by the fact that this higher sight

cognizes forms of matter which, while still purely physical,

are nevertheless invisible under ordinary conditions. Such,

for example, are the particles composing the atmosphere, all

the various emanations which are always being given out by

everything that has life, and also four grades of a still finer

order of physical matter which, for want of more distinctive

names, must all be described as etheric. The latter form a

kind of system by themselves, freely interpenetrating all

other physical matter; and the investigation of their vibrations

and the manner in which various higher forces affect them

would in itself constitute a vast field of deeply interesting

study for any man of science who possessed the requisite

sight for its examination.

Even when our imagination has fully grasped all that is

comprehended in what has already been said, we do not yet

understand half the complexity of the problem for besides all

these new forms of physical matter we have to deal with the

still more numerous and perplexing subdivisions.20

of astral matter. We must note first that every material object,

every particle even, has its astral counterpart; and this

counterpart is itself not a simple body, but is usually

extremely complex, being composed of various kinds of

astral matter. In addition to this each living creature is

surrounded with an atmosphere of its own, usually called its

aura, and in the case of human beings this aura forms of

itself a very fascinating branch of study. It is seen as an oval

mass of luminous mist of highly complex structure, and

from its shape has sometimes been called the auric egg.

Theosophical readers will hear with pleasure that even at

the early stage of his development at which the pupil begins

to acquire this fuller sight, he is able to assure himself by

direct observation of the accuracy of the teaching given

through our great founder, Madame Blavatsky, on the subject

of some at least of the "seven principles of man." In

regarding his fellow-man—he no longer sees only his outer

appearance; almost exactly coextensive with that physical

body he clearly distinguishes the etheric double; while the

universal life-fluid as it is absorbed and specialized, as it

circulates in rosy light throughout the body, as it eventually

radiates from the healthy person in its altered form, is also

perfectly obvious.

Most brilliant and most easily seen of all, perhaps, though

belonging to a more refined order of matter—the astral—is

that aura which expresses by its vivid and ever-changing

flashes of colour the different desires which sweep across

the man's mind from moment to moment. This is the true

astral body. Behind that, and consisting of a finer grade of

matter again—that of the form-levels of.21

the devachanic plane—lies the mental body or aura of the

lower mind, whose colours, changing only by slow degrees

as the man lives his life, show the trend of his thoughts and

the disposition and character of his personality while still

higher and infinitely more beautiful, where at all clearly

developed, is the living light of the causal body, the vehicle of

the higher self, which shows the stage of development of the

real ego its passage from birth to birth. But to see these the

pupil must, of course, have developed the vision of the levels

to which they belong.

It will save the student much trouble if he learns at once to

regard these auras not as mere emanations, but as the actual

manifestation of the ego on their respective planes—if he

understands that it is the auric egg which is the real man, not

the physical body which on this plane crystallizes in the

middle of it. So long as the reincarnating ego remains upon

the plane which is his true home in the formless levels, the

vehicle which he inhabits is the causal body, but when he

descends into the form-levels he must, in order to be able to

function upon them, clothe himself in their matter; and the

matter that he thus attracts to himself furnishes his

devachanic or mind-body.

Similarly, descending into the astral plane he forms his

astral or desire-body out of its matter, though of course, still

retaining all the other bodies, and on his still further descent

to this lowest plane of all the physical body is formed in the

midst of the auric egg, which thus contains the entire man.

Fuller accounts of these auras will be found in Transaction

No. 18 of the London Lodge, and in a small pamphlet on

The Aura which I have published, but enough has been said

here to show that as they still occupy the same space, the

finer interpenetrating.22

the grosser, it needs careful study and much practice to

enable the neophyte to distinguish clearly at a glance the one

from the other. Nevertheless the human aura, or more usually

some one part of it only, is not infrequently one of the first

purely astral objects seen by the untrained, though in such a

case its indications are naturally very likely to be


Though the astral aura from the brilliancy of its flashes of

colour may often be more conspicuous, the nerve-ether and

the etheric double are really of a much denser order of

matter, being within the limits of the physical plane, though

invisible to ordinary sight. If we examine with psychic

faculty the body of a newly-born child, we shall find it

permeated not only by astral matter of every degree of

density, but also by the several grades of etheric matter; and

if we take the trouble to trace these inner bodies backwards

to their origin, we find that it is of the latter that the etheric

double—the mould upon which the physical body is built

up—is formed by the agents of the Lords of karma; while

the astral matter has been gathered together by the

descending ego—not of course consciously, but auto-matically

as he passes through the astral plane. (See

Manual No. IV., p. 44.)

Into the composition of the etheric double must enter

something of all the different grades of etheric matter; but the

proportions may vary greatly, and are determined by several

factors, such as the race, sub-race, and type of a man, as well

as by his individual karma. When it is remembered that these

four subdivisions of matter are made up of numerous

combinations, which, in their turn, form aggregations that

enter into the composition of the "atom" of the so-called

"element" of the chemist, it will be seen.23

that this second principle of man is highly complex, and the

number of its possible variations practically infinite, so that,

however complicated and unusual a man's karma may be,

those in whose province such work falls are able to give a

mould in accordance with which a body exactly suiting it can

be formed. But for information upon this vast subject of

karma the previous manual should be consulted.

One other point deserves mention in connection with the

appearance of physical matter when looked at from the astral

plane, and that is that the higher vision when fully developed

possesses the power of magnifying at will the minutest

physical particle to any desired size, as though by a

microscope, though its magnifying power is enormously

greater than that of any microscope ever made or ever likely

to be made. The hypothetical molecule and atom postulated

by science are visible realities to the occult student, though

the latter recognizes them as much more complex in their

nature than the scientific man has yet discovered them to be.

Here again is a vast field of study of absorbing interest to

which a whole volume might readily be devoted; and a

scientific investigator who should acquire this astral sight in

perfection, would not only find his experiments with

ordinary and known phenomena immensely facilitated, but

would also see stretching before him entirely new vistas of

knowledge needing more than a lifetime for their thorough


For example, one curious and very beautiful novelty

brought to his notice by the development of this vision would

be the existence of other and entirely different colours

beyond the limits of the ordinarily visible spectrum, the ultra-red

and ultra-violet rays which science has discovered.24

by other means being plainly perceptible to astral sight. We

must not, however, allow ourselves to follow these

fascinating bye-paths, but must resume our endeavour to give

a general idea of the appearance of the astral plane.

It will by this time be obvious that though, as above stated,

the ordinary objects of the physical world form the

background to life on certain levels of the astral plane, yet so

much more is seen of their real appearance and charac-teristics

that the general effect differs widely from that with

which we are familiar. For the sake of illustration take a rock

as an example of the simpler class of objects. When

regarded with trained sight it is no mere inert mass of stone.

First of all, the whole of the physical matter of the rock is

seen instead of a very, small part of it; secondly, the

vibrations of its physical particles are perceptible; thirdly, it is

seen to possess an astral counterpart composed of various

grades of astral matter, whose particles are also in constant

motion; fourthly, the universal life is seen to be circulating

through it and radiating from it; fifthly, an aura will be seen

surrounding it, though this is of course much less extended

and varied than in the case of the higher kingdoms; sixthly,

its appropriate elemental essence is seen permeating it, ever

active but ever fluctuating. In the case of the vegetable,

animal, and human kingdoms, the complications are naturally

much more numerous.

It may be objected by some readers that no such

complexities as these are described by most of the psychics

who occasionally get glimpses of the astral world, nor are

they reported at seances by the entities that manifest there ;

but this is readily accounted for. Few untrained persons on

that plane, whether living or "dead" see things as they really.25

are until after very long experience; even those who do see

fully are often too dazed and confused to understand or

remember; and among the very small minority who both see

and remember there are hardly any who can translate the

recollection into language on our lower plane. Many

untrained psychics never examine their visions scientifically

at all; they simply obtain an impression which may be quite

correct, but may also be half false, or even wholly


All the more probable does the latter hypothesis become

when we take into consideration the frequent tricks played by

sportive denizens of the other world, against which the

untrained person is usually absolutely defenceless. It must

also be remembered that the regular inhabitant of the astral

plane, whether he be human or elemental, is under ordinary

circumstances conscious only of the objects of that plane,

physical matter being to him as entirely invisible as is astral

matter to the majority of mankind. Since, as before remarked,

every physical object has its astral counterpart, which would

be visible to him, it may be thought that the distinction is a

trivial one, yet it is an essential part of the symmetrical

conception of the subject.

If, however, an astral entity constantly works through a

medium, these finer astral senses may gradually be so

coarsened as to become insensible to the higher grades of

matter on their own plane, and to include in their purview the

physical world as we see it instead; but only the trained

visitor from this life, who is fully conscious on both planes,

can depend upon seeing both clearly and simultaneously. Be

it understood, then, that the complexity exists, and that only

when it is fully perceived and.26

scientifically unravelled is there perfect security against

deception or mistake.

For the seventh or lowest subdivision of the astral plane

also this physical world of ours may be said to be the

background, though what is seen is only a distorted and

partial view of it, since all that is light and good and beautiful

seems invisible. It was thus described four thousand years

ago in the Egyptian papyrus of the Scribe Ani: "What

manner of place is this unto which I have come? It hath no

water, it hath no air; it is deep, unfathomable; it is black as the

blackest night, and men wander helplessly about therein; in it

a man may not live in quietness of heart." For the

unfortunate human being on that level it is indeed true that

"all the earth is full of darkness and cruel habitations," but it

is darkness which radiates from within himself and causes

his existence to be passed in a perpetual night of evil and

horror—a very real hell, though, like all other hells, entirely

of man's own creation.

Most students find the investigation of this section an

extremely unpleasant task, for there appears to be a sense of

density and gross materiality about it which is indescribably

loathsome to the liberated astral body, causing it the sense of

pushing its way through some black, viscous fluid, while the

inhabitants and influences encountered there are also usually

exceedingly undesirable.

The first, second and third subdivisions, though

occupying the same space, yet give the impression of being

much further removed from this physical world, and

correspondingly less material. Entities inhabiting these levels

lose sight of the earth and its belongings; they are usually

deeply self-absorbed, and to a large extent create their own

surroundings, though these are sufficiently.27

objective to be perceptible to other entities and also to

clairvoyant vision. This region is beyond doubt the

"summerland" of which we hear so much at spiritualistic

seances, and those who descend from and describe it no

doubt speak the truth as far as their knowledge extends. It is

on these planes that "spirits" call into temporary existence

their houses, schools, and cities, for these object are often

real enough for the time, though to a clearer sight they may

sometimes be pitiably unlike what their delighted creators

suppose them to be. Nevertheless, many of the imaginations

which take form there are of real though temporary beauty,

and a visitor who knew of nothing higher might wander

contentedly enough there among forests and mountains,

lovely lakes and pleasant flower-gardens, which are at any

rate much superior to anything in the physical world; or he

might even construct such surroundings to suit his own

fancies. The details of the differences between these three

higher sub-planes will perhaps be more readily explicable

when we come to deal with their human inhabitants.

An account of the scenery of the astral plane would be

incomplete without some mention of what have often, though

mistakenly, been called the Records of the Astral Light.

These records (which are in truth a sort of materialization of

the Divine memory—a living photographic representation of

all that has ever happened) are really and permanently

impressed upon a very much higher level, and are only

reflected in a more or less spasmodic manner on the astral

plane, so that one whose power of vision does not rise above

this will be likely to obtain only occasional and disconnected

pictures of the past instead of a coherent narrative. But

nevertheless these reflected pictures of all.28

kinds of past events are constantly being reproduced in the

astral world, and form an important part of the surroundings

of the investigator there. I have not space to do more than

just mention them here, but a fuller account of them will be

found in chapter vii of my little book on Clairvoyance..INHABITANTS

HAVING sketched in, however slightly, the background of

our picture, we must now attempt to fill in the figures—to

describe the inhabitants of the astral plane. The immense

variety of these beings makes it exceedingly difficult to

arrange and tabulate them. Perhaps the most convenient

method will be to divide them into three great classes, the

human, the non-human, and the artificial.


The human denizens of the astral plane fall naturally into

two groups, the living and the dead, or, to speak more

accurately, those who have still a physical body, and those

who have not.


The men who manifest themselves on the astral plane

during physical life may be subdivided into four classes:—

1. The Adept and his Pupils. Those belonging to this

class usually employ as a vehicle not the astral body at all,

but the mind-body, which is composed of the matter of the

four lower or rupa levels of the plane next above. The

advantage of this vehicle is that it permits of instant passage

from the mental plane to the astral and back, and


allows of the use at all times of the greater power and keener

sense of its own plane.

The mind-body is not naturally visible to astral sight at all,

and consequently the pupil who works in it learns to gather

round himself a temporary veil of astral matter when in the

course of his work he wishes to become perceptible to the

inhabitants of the lower plane in order to help them more

efficiently. This temporary body is usually formed for the

pupil by his Master on the first occasion, and he is then

instructed and assisted until he can form it for himself easily

and expeditiously. Such a vehicle, though an exact repro-duction

of the man in appearance, contains none of the matter

of his own astral body, but corresponds to it in the same way

as a materialization corresponds to a physical body.

At an earlier stage of his development the pupil may be

found functioning in the astral body like any one else; but

whichever vehicle he is employing, the man who is

introduced to the astral plane under the guidance of a

competent teacher has always the fullest possible

consciousness there, and is able to function perfectly easily

upon all its subdivisions. He is in fact himself, exactly as his

friends know him on earth, minus only the four lower

principles in the one case and the three lower in the other,

and plus the additional powers and faculties of this higher

condition, which enable him to carry on far more easily and

far more efficiently on that plane during sleep the Theo-sophical

work which occupies so much of his thought in his

waking hours. Whether he will remember fully and

accurately on the physical plane what he has done or learnt

on the other depends largely upon whether he is able to carry

his consciousness without intermission from the one state to

the other.

The investigator will occasionally meet on the astral.31

plane students of occultism from all parts of the world

(belonging to lodges quite unconnected with the Masters of

whom Theosophists know most) who are in many cases

most earnest and self-sacrificing seekers after truth. It is

noteworthy, however, that all such lodges are at least aware of

the existence of the great Himalayan Brotherhood, and

acknowledge it as containing among its members the highest

Adepts now known on earth.

2. The Psychically-developed Person who is not under the

guidance of a Master. Such a person may or may not be

spiritually developed, for the two forms of advancement do

not necessarily go together. When a man is born with

psychic powers it is simply the result of efforts made during

a previous incarnation, which may have been of the noblest

and most unselfish character, or on the other hand may have

been ignorant and ill-directed or even entirely unworthy.

Such an one will usually be perfectly conscious when out

of the body, but for want of proper training is liable to be

greatly deceived as to what he sees. He will often be able to

range through the different subdivisions of the astral plane

almost as fully as persons belonging to the last class; but

sometimes he is especially attracted to some one division and

rarely travels beyond its influences. His recollection of what

he has seen may vary according to the degree of his

development through all the stages from perfect clearness to

utter distortion or blank oblivion. He will appear always in

this astral body, since he does not know how to function in

the mental vehicle.

3. The Ordinary Person—that is, the person without any

psychic development—who floats about in his astral body

during sleep in a more or less unconscious condition. In.32

deep slumber the higher principles in their astral vehicle

almost invariably withdraw from the body, and hover in its

immediate neighbourhood, though in quite undeveloped

persons they are practically almost as much asleep as the

body is.

In some cases, however, this astral vehicle is less lethargic,

and floats dreamily about on the various astral currents,

occasionally recognizing other people in a similar condition,

and meeting with experiences of all sorts, pleasant and

unpleasant, the memory of which, hopelessly confused and

often travestied into a grotesque caricature of what really

happened, will cause the man to think next morning what a

remarkable dream he has had.

All cultured people, belonging to the higher races of the

world, have at the present time their astral senses very fairly

developed, so that, if they were sufficiently aroused to

examine the realities which surround them during sleep, they

would be able to observe them and learn much from them.

But, in the vast majority of cases, they are not so aroused,

and they spend most of their nights in a kind of brown study,

pondering deeply over whatever thought may have been

uppermost in their minds when they fell asleep. They have

the astral faculties, but they scarcely use them; they are

certainly awake on the astral plane, and yet they are not in the

least awake to the plane, and are consequently conscious of

their surroundings only very vaguely, if at all.

When such a man becomes a pupil of one of the Masters of

Wisdom, he is usually at once shaken out of this somnolent

condition, fully awakened to the realities around him on that

plane, and set to learn from them and to work among them,

so that his hours of sleep are no longer a blank, but are filled

with active and useful occupation,.33

without in the least interfering with the healthy, repose of the

tired physical body. (See Invisible Helpers. Chap. v.)

These extruded astral bodies are almost shapeless and

very indefinite in outline in the ease of the more backward

races and individuals, but as the man developes in intellect

and spirituality his floating astral becomes better defined, and

more closely resembles his physical encasement. It is often

asked how—since the undeveloped astral is so vague in

outline, and since the great majority of mankind come under

the head of the undeveloped—how it is ever possible to

recognise the ordinary man at all when he is in his astral

body. In trying to answer that question we must endeavour to

realize that, to the clairvoyant eye, the physical body of man

appears surrounded by what we call the aura—a luminous

coloured mist, roughly ovoid in shape, and extending to a

distance of some eighteen inches from the body in all

directions. All students are aware that this aura is

exceedingly complex, and contains matter of all the different

planes on which man is at present provided with vehicles; but

for the moment let us think of it as it would appear to one

who possessed no higher power of vision than the astral.

For such a spectator the aura would of course contain

only astral matter, and would therefore be a simpler object of

study. He would see, however, that this astral matter not only

surrounded the physical body, but interpenetrated it, and that

within the periphery of that body it was much more densely

aggregated than in that part of the aura which lay outside it.

Possibly this may be due to the attraction of the large amount

of dense a astral matter which is gathered together there as

the counterpart of the cells of the physical body, but however

that may he, the fact is undoubted that.34

the matter of the astral body which lies within the limits of

the physical is many times denser than that outside it.

When during sleep the astral body is withdrawn from the

physical this arrangement still persists, and any one looking

at such an astral body with clairvoyant vision would still see,

just as before, a form resembling the physical body

surrounded by an aura. That form would now be composed

only of astral matter, but still the difference in density

between it and its surrounding mist would be quite sufficient

to make it clearly distinguishable, even though it is itself only

a form of denser mist.

Now as to the difference in appearance between the

evolved and the unevolved man. Even in the case of the latter

the features and shape of the inner form would be

recognizable always, though blurred and indistinct, but the

surrounding egg would scarcely deserve the name, for it

would be in fact a mere shapeless wreath of mist, having

neither regularity nor permanence of outline.

In the more developed man the change would be very

marked, both in the aura and the form within it. This latter

would be far more distinct and definite—a closer repro-duction

of the man's physical appearance; while instead of

the floating mist-wreath we should see a sharply defined

ovoid form, preserving its shape unaffected amidst all the

varied currents which are always swirling around it on the

astral plane.

Since the psychical faculties of mankind are in course of

evolution, and individuals are at all stages of their

development, this class naturally melts by imperceptible

gradations into the former one.

4. The Black Magician or his pupil. This class

corresponds somewhat to the first, except that the


has been for evil instead of good, and the powers acquired

are used for purely selfish purposes instead of for the benefit

of humanity. Among its lower ranks come members of the

negro race who practise the ghastly rites of the Obeah or

Voodoo schools, and the medicine-men of many a savage

tribe; while higher in intellect, and therefore the more

blameworthy, stand the Tibetan black magicians, who are

often, though incorrectly, called by Europeans Dugpas—a

title properly belonging, as is quite correctly explained by

Surgeon-Major Waddell in his book on The Buddhism of

Tibet, only to the Bhotanese subdivision of the great Kargyu

sect, which is part of what may be called the semi-reformed

school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Dugpas no doubt deal in Tantrik magic to a

considerable extent, but the real red-hatted entirely

unreformed sect is that of the Nin-ma-pa, though far beyond

them still lower depth be the Bonpa—the votaries of the

aboriginal religion, who have never accepted any form of

Buddhism at all. It must not, however, He supposed that all

Tibetan sects except the Gelugpa are necessarily and

altogether evil; a truer view would be that as the rules of other

sects permit considerably greater laxity of life and practice,

the proportion of self-seekers among them is likely to be

much larger than among the stricter reformers.


To begin with, of course this very word "dead" is all

absurd misnomer, as most of the entities classified under this

heading are as fully alive as we are ourselves—often

distinctly more so; so the term must be understood simply as

meaning those who are for the time unattached to a.36

physical body. They may be subdivided into nine principal

classes, as follows:—

1. The Nirmanakaya. This class is just mentioned in

order to make the catalogue complete, but it is of course very

rarely indeed that so exalted a being manifests himself upon

so low a plane as this. When for any reason connected with

his sublime work he found it desirable to do so, he would

probably create a temporary astral body for the purpose from

the atomic matter of the plane, just as the Adept in the mind-body

would do, simply because his more refined vesture

would be invisible to astral sight. In order to be able to

function without a moment's hesitation on any plane, he

retains always within himself some atoms belonging to each,

round which as a nucleus he can instantly aggregate other

matter, and so provide himself with whatever vehicle he

desires. Further information about the position and work of

the Nirmanakaya may be found in Madame Blavatsky's

Voice of the Silence, and in my own little book on Invisible


2. The Pupil awaiting reincarnation. It has frequently

been stated in Theosophical literature that when the pupil

reaches a certain stage he is able with the assistance of his

Master to escape from the action of what is in ordinary cases

the law of nature which carries a human being into the

heaven-world after death, there to receive the due result of the

full working out of all the spiritual forces which his highest

aspirations, have set in motion while on earth.

As the pupil must by the hypothesis be a man of pure life

and high thought, it is probable that in his case these spiritual

forces will be of abnormal strength, and therefore if he, to

use the technical expression, "takes his devachan,".37

it is likely to be an extremely long one; but if instead of

taking it he chooses the Path of Renunciation (thus even at

his low level and in his humble way beginning to follow in

the footsteps of the Great Master of Renunciation,

GAUTAMA BUDDHA Himself), he is able to expend that

reserve of force in quite another direction—to use it for the

benefit of mankind, and so, infinitesimal though his offering

may be, to take his tiny part in the great work of the

Nirmanakayas. By taking this course he no doubt sacrifices

centuries of intense bliss, but on the other hand he gains the

enormous advantage of being able to continue his life of

work and progress without a break.

When a pupil who has decided to do this dies, he simply

steps out of his body, as he has often done before, and waits

upon the astral plane until a suitable reincarnation can be

arranged for him by his Master. This being a marked

departure from the usual course of procedure, the permission

of a very high authority has to be obtained before the attempt

can be made; yet, even when this is granted, so strong is the

force of natural law, that it is said the pupil must be careful to

confine himself strictly to the astral level while the matter is

being arranged, lest if he once, even for a moment, touched

the devachanic plane, he might be swept as by an irresistible

current into the line of normal evolution again.

In some cases, though these are rare, he is enabled to

avoid the trouble of a new birth by being placed directly in all

adult body whose previous tenant has no further use for it,

but naturally it is not often that a suitable body is available.

Far more frequently he has to wait on the astral plane, as

mentioned before, until the opportunity of a fitting birth

presents itself. In the meantime, however, he is.38

losing no time, for he is just as fully himself as ever he was,

and is able to go on with the work given him by his Master

even more quickly and efficiently than when in the physical

body, since he is no longer hampered by the possibility of

fatigue. His consciousness is of course quite complete, and

he roams at will through all the divisions of the plane with

equal facility.

The pupil awaiting reincarnation is by no means one of

the common objects of the astral plane, but still he may be

met with occasionally, and therefore he forms one of our

classes. No doubt as the evolution of humanity proceeds, and

an ever-increasing proportion enters upon the Path of

Holiness, this class will become more numerous.

3. The Ordinary Person after death. Needless to say this

class is millions of times larger than those of which we have

spoken, and the character and condition of its members vary

within extremely wide limits. Within similarly wide limits

may vary also the length of their lives upon the astral plane,

for while there are those who pass only a few days or hours

there, others remain upon this level for many years and even


A man who has led a good and pure life, whose strongest

feelings and aspirations have been unselfish and spiritual,

will have no attraction to this plane, and will, if entirely left

alone, find little to keep him upon it, or to awaken him into

activity even during the comparatively short period of his

stay. For it must be understood that after death the true man

is withdrawing into himself, and just as at the first step of that

process he casts off the physical body, and almost directly

afterwards the etheric double, so it is intended that he should

as soon as possible cast off also the astral or desire body,

and pass into the.39

heaven-world, where alone his spiritual aspirations can bear

their perfect fruit.

The noble and pure-minded man will be able to do this,

for he has subdued all earthly passions during life; the force

of his will has been directed into higher channels, and there

is therefore but little energy of lower desire to be worked out

on the astral plane. His stay there will consequently be very

short, and most probably he will have little more than a

dreamy half-consciousness of existence until he sinks into

the sleep during which his higher principles finally free

themselves from the astral envelope and enter upon the

blissful life of the heaven-world.

For the person who has not as yet entered upon the path

of occult development, what has been described is the ideal

state of affairs, but naturally it not attained by all, or even by

the majority. The average man has by no means freed

himself from all lower desires before death, and it takes a

long period of more or less fully conscious life on the

various subdivisions of the astral plant to allow the forces

which he has generated to work themselves out, and thus

release the higher ego.

Every one after death has to pass through all the

subdivisions of the astral plane on his way to the heaven-world,

though it must not be inferred that he will be

conscious upon all of them. Precisely as it is necessary that

the physical body should contain within its constitution

physical matter in all its conditions, solid, liquid, gaseous,

and etheric; so it is indispensable that the astral vehicle

should contain particles belonging to all the corresponding

subdivisions of astral matter, though, of course, the

proportions may vary very greatly in different cases.

Now it must be remembered that along with the matter.40

of his astral body a man picks up the corresponding

elemental essence, and that during his life this essence is

segregated from the ocean of similar matter around, and

practically becomes for that time what may be described as a

kind of artificial elemental. This has temporarily a definite

separate existence of its own, and follows the course of its

own evolution downwards into matter without any reference

to (or indeed any knowledge of) the convenience or interest

of the ego to whom it happens to be attached—thus causing

that perpetual struggle between the will of the flesh and the

will of the spirit to which religious writers so often refer. Yet

though it is "a law of the members warring against the law of

the mind," though if the man obeys it instead of controlling it

his evolution will be seriously hindered, it must not be

thought of as in any way evil in itself, for it is still a Law—

still an outpouring of the Divine power going on its orderly

course, though that course in this instance happens to be

downwards into matter instead of upwards and away from it,

as ours is.

When the man passes away at death from the physical

plane the disintegrating forces of nature begin to operate

upon his astral body, and this elemental thus finds his

existence as a separate entity endangered. He sets to work

therefore to defend himself, and to hold the astral body

together as long as possible; and his method of doing this is

to rearrange the matter of which it is composed in a sort of

stratified series of shells, leaving that of the lowest (and

therefore coarsest and grossest) sub-plane on the outside,

since that will offer the greatest resistance to disintegration.

Now a man has to stay upon this lowest subdivision until

he has disentangled so much as is possible of his true.41

self from the matter of that sub-plane; and when that is done

his consciousness is focussed in the next of these concentric

shells (that formed of the matter of the sixth subdivision), or,

to put the same idea in other words, he passes on to the next

sub-plane. We might say that when the astral body has

exhausted its attractions to one level, the greater part of its

grosser particles fall away, and it finds itself in affinity with a

somewhat higher state of existence. Its specific gravity, as it

were, is constantly decreasing, and so it steadily rises from

the denser to the lighter stratas pausing only when it is

exactly balanced for a time. This is evidently the explanation

of a remark frequently made by the departed who appear at

seances to the effect that they are about to rise to a higher

sphere, from which it will be impossible, or not so easy, to

communicate through a medium; and it is as a matter of fact

true that a person upon the highest subdivision of this plane

would find it almost impossible to deal with any ordinary


Thus we see that the length of a man's detention upon any

level of the astral plane will be precisely in proportion to the

amount of its matter which is found in his astral body, and

that in turn depends upon the life he has lived, the desires he

has indulged, and the class of matter which by so doing he

has attracted towards him and built into himself. It is,

therefore, possible for a man, by pure living and high

thinking, to minimize the quantity of matter belonging to the

lower astral levels which he attaches to himself, and to raise it

in each case to what may be called its critical point, so that

the first touch of disintegrating force should shatter its

cohesion and resolve it into its original condition, leaving him

free at once to pass on to the next sub-plane.

In the ease of a thoroughly spiritually-minded person.42

this condition would have been attained with reference to all

the subdivisions of astral matter, and the result would be a

practically instantaneous passage through that plane, so that

consciousness would be recovered for the first time in the

heaven-world. Of course, as was explained before, the sub-planes

must never be thought of as divided from one another

in space, but rather as interpenetrating one another; so that

when we say that a person passes from one subdivision to

another, we do not mean that he moves in space at all, but

simply that the focus of his consciousness shifts from the

outer shell to the one next within it.

The only persons who would normally awake to

consciousness on the lowest level of the astral plane are

those whose desires are gross and brutal drunkards,

sensualists, and such like. There they would remain for a

period proportioned to the strength of their desires, often

suffering terribly from the fact that while these earthly lusts

are still as strong as ever, they now find it impossible to

gratify them, except occasionally in a vicarious manner when

they are able to seize upon some like-minded person, and

obsess him.

The ordinarily decent man would probably have little to

detain him on that seventh sub-plane; but if his chief desires

and thoughts had centred in mere worldly affairs, he would

be likely to find himself in the sixth subdivision, still

hovering about the places and persons with which he was

most closely connected while on earth. The fifth and the

fourth sub-planes are of similar character, except that as we

rise through them mere earthly associations appear to

become of less and less importance, and the departed tends

more and more to mould his surroundings into agreement

with the more persistent of his thoughts..43

By the time we get to the third sub-division we find that

this characteristic has entirely superseded the vision of the

realities of the plane; for here the people are living in

imaginary cities of their own—not, of course, each evolved

entirely by his own thought, as in the heaven-world, but

inheriting and adding to the structures erected by the

thoughts of their predecessors. Here it is that the churches

and schools and "dwellings in the summerland," so often

described at spiritualistic seances, are to be found; though

they would often seem much less real and much less

magnificent to an unprejudiced living observer than they are

to their delighted creators.

The second sub-plane seems especially the habitat of the

selfish or unspiritual religionist; here he wears his golden

crown and worships his own grossly material representation

of the particular deity of his country and time. The highest

subdivision appears to be specially appropriated to those

who during life have devoted themselves to materialistic but

intellectual pursuits, following them not for the sake of

benefiting their fellow-men thereby, but either from motives

of selfish ambition or for the sake of intellectual exercise.

Such persons will often remain upon this level for many long

years happy enough indeed in working out their intellectual

problems, but doing no good to anyone, and making but little

progress on their way towards the heaven-world.

It must be clearly understood, as before explained, that the

idea of space is not in any wav to be associated with these

sub-planes. A departed entity functioning upon any one of

them might drift with equal ease from here to Australia, or

wherever a passing thought might take him; but he would not

be able to transfer his consciousness from.44

that sub-plane to the one next above it until the process of

detachment described had been completed.

To this rule there is no kind of exception, so far as we are

yet aware, although naturally a man's actions when he finds

himself conscious upon any sub-plane may within certain

limits either shorten or prolong his connection with it.

But the amount of consciousness that a person will have

upon a given sub-plane does not invariably follow precisely

the same law. Let us consider an extreme example of

possible variation in order that we may grasp its method.

Suppose a man who has brought over from his past

incarnation tendencies requiring for their manifestation a

very large amount of the matter of the seventh or lowest sub-plane,

but has in his present life been fortunate enough to

learn in his very earliest years the possibility and necessity of

controlling these tendencies. It is scarcely probable that such

a man's efforts at control should be entirely and uniformly

successful; but if they were, the substitution of finer for

grosser particles in his astral body would progress steadily,

though slowly.

This process is at best a very gradual one, and it might

well happen that the man died before it was half completed.

In that case there would undoubtedly be enough matter of the

lowest sub-plane left in his astral body to ensure him no

inconsiderable residence there but it would be matter through

which in this incarnation his consciousness had never been

in the habit of functioning, and as it could not suddenly

acquire this habit the result would be that the man would rest

upon that sub-plane until his share of its matter was

disintegrated, but would be all the while in a condition of

unconsciousness that is to say, he would.45

practically sleep through the period of his sojourn there, and

so would be entirely unaffected by its many disagreeables.

It may be said in passing that communication is limited on

the astral plane by the knowledge of the entity, just as it is

here. While a pupil able to use the mind-body can

communicate his thoughts to the human entities there present

more readily and rapidly than on earth, by means of mental

impressions, the inhabitants of the plane are not usually able

to exercise this power, but appear to be restricted by

limitations similar to those that prevail on earth, though

perhaps less rigid. The result of this is that they are found

associating there as here, in groups drawn together by

common sympathies, belief, and language.

The poetic idea of death as a universal leveller is a mere

absurdity born of ignorance, for, as a matter of fact, in the

vast majority of cases the loss of the physical body makes no

difference whatever in the character or intellect of the person,

and there are therefore as many different varieties of

intelligence among, those whom we usually call the dead as

among the living.

The popular religious teaching of the West as to man's

post-mortem adventures has long been so wildly inaccurate

that even intelligent people are often terribly puzzled when

they recover consciousness in the astral world after death.

The condition in which the new arrival finds himself differs

so radically from what he has been led to expect that it is no

uncommon case for him to refuse at first to believe that he

has passed through the portals of death at all; indeed, of so

little practical value is our much-vaunted belief in the

immortality of the soul that most people consider the very

fact that they are still conscious an absolute proof that they

have not died..46

The horrible doctrine of eternal punishment, too, is

responsible for a vast amount of most pitiable and entirely

groundless terror among those newly arrived in this higher

life. In many cases they spend long periods of acute mental

suffering before they can free themselves from the fatal

influence of that hideous blasphemy, and realize that the

world is governed not according to the caprice of some

demon who gloats over human anguish, but according to a

benevolent and wonderfully patient law of evolution. Many

members of the class we are considering do not really attain

an intelligent appreciation of this fact of evolution at all, but

drift through their astral interlude in the same aimless

manner in which they have spent the physical portion of their

lives. Thus after death, exactly as before it, there are the few

who comprehend something of their position and know how

to make the best of it, and the many who have not yet

acquired that knowledge; and then, just as now, the ignorant

are rarely ready to profit by the advice or example of the


But of whatever grade the entity's intellect may be, it is

always a fluctuating and on the whole a gradually

diminishing quantity, for the lower mind of the man is being

drawn in opposite directions by the higher spiritual nature

which acts on it from above its level and the strong desire-forces

which operate from below; and therefore it oscillates

between the two attractions, with an ever-increasing tendency

towards the former as the forces of lower desire wear

themselves out.

Here comes in one of the objections to the spiritualistic

seance. An exceedingly ignorant or degraded man may no

doubt learn much by coming into contact after his death with

a circle of earnest sitters under the control of some reliable

person, and so may be really helped and raised..47

But in the ordinary man the consciousness is steadily rising

from the lower part of the nature towards the higher; and

obviously it cannot be helpful to his evolution that this lower

part should be reawakened from the natural and desirable

unconsciousness into which it is passing, and dragged back

into touch with earth in order to communicate through a


The peculiar danger of this will be seen when it is

recollected that since the real man is all the while steadily

withdrawing into himself, he is as time goes on less and less

able to influence or guide this lower portion, which

nevertheless, until the separation is complete, has the power

to generate karma, and under the circumstances is evidently

far more likely to add evil than good to its record.

Apart altogether from any question of development

through a medium, there is another and much more

frequently exercised influence which may seriously retard a

disembodied entity on his way to the heaven-world, and that

is the intense and uncontrolled grief of his surviving friends

or relatives. It is one among many melancholy results of the

terribly inaccurate and even irreligious view that we in the

West have for centuries been taking of death, that we not

only cause ourselves an immense amount of wholly

unnecessary pain over this temporary parting from our loved

ones, but we often also do serious injury to those for whom

we bear so deep an affection by means of this very regret

which we feel so acutely.

When our departed brother is sinking peacefully and

naturally into the unconsciousness which precedes his

awakening amid the glories of the heaven-world, he is too

frequently aroused from his dreamy happiness into vivid

remembrance of the earth-life which he has lately left, solely.48

by the action of the passionate sorrows and desires of his

friends on earth, which awaken corresponding vibrations in

his own desire-body, and so cause him acute discomfort.

It would be well if those whose loved ones have passed

on before them would learn from these undoubted facts the

duty of restraining for the sake of those dear ones a grief

which, however natural, it may be, is yet in its essence selfish.

Not that occult teaching counsels forgetfulness of the dead—

far from it; but it does suggest that a man's affectionate

remembrance of his departed friend is a force which, if

properly directed into the channel of earnest good wishes for

his progress towards the heaven-world and his quiet passage

through the intermediate state, might be of real value to him,

whereas when hen wasted in mourning for him and longing

to have him back again it is not only useless but harmful. It

is with a true instinct that the Hindu religion prescribes its

Shraddha ceremonies and the Catholic Church its prayers for

the dead.

It sometimes happens, however, that the desire for

communication is from the, other side, and that the dead man

has something which he specially desires to say to those

whom he has left behind. Occasionally this message is an

important one, such as, for example, an indication of the

place where a missing will is concealed; but more often it

seems to us quite trivial. Still, whatever it may be, if it is

firmly impressed upon the mind of the dead person, it is

undoubtedly desirable that he should be enabled to deliver it,

as otherwise the anxiety to do so would perpetually draw his

consciousness back into the earth-life, and prevent him from

passing to higher spheres. In such a case a psychic who can

understand him, or a medium through whom he can write or

speak, is of real service to him..49

Why cannot he write or speak without a medium? it may

be asked. The reason is that one state of matter can ordinarily

act only upon the state next below it, and, as he has now no

denser matter in his organism than that of which the astral

body is composed, he finds it impossible to set up vibrations

in the physical substance of the air or to move the physical

pencil without borrowing living matter of the intermediate

order contained in the etheric double, by means of which an

impulse can readily be transferred from the one plane to the

other. He would be unable to borrow this material from an

ordinary person, because such a man's principles would be

too closely linked together to be separated by any means

likely to be at his command, but the very essence of

mediumship is the ready separability of the principles, so

from a medium he can draw without difficulty the matter he

needs for his manifestation, whatever it may be.

When he cannot find a medium or does not understand

how to use one he sometimes makes clumsy and blundering

endeavours to communicate on his own account, and by the

strength of his will he sets elemental forces blindly working,

perhaps producing such apparently aimless manifestations as

stone-throwing, bell-ringing, etc. It consequently frequently

happens that a psychic or medium going to a house where

such manifestations are taking place may be able to discover

what the entity who produces them is attempting to say or do,

and may thus put an end to the disturbance. This would not,

however, invariably be the case, as these elemental forces are

occasionally set in motion by entirely different causes.

4. The Shade. When the separation of the principles is

complete, the astral life of the person is over, and, as.50

before stated, he passes into the devachanic condition. Put

just as when he dies to this plane he leaves his physical body

behind him, so when he dies to the astral plane he leaves a

disintegrating astral body behind him. If he has purged

himself from all earthly desires during life, and directed all

his energies into the channels of unselfish spiritual

aspiration, his higher ego will be able to draw back into itself

the whole of the lower mind which it put forth into

incarnation; in that case the body left behind on the astral

plane will be a mere corpse like the abandoned physical

body, and it will then come not into this class but into the


Even in the case of a man of somewhat less perfect life

almost the same result may be attained if the forces of lower

desire are allowed to work themselves out undisturbed in the

astral plane. But the majority of mankind make but very

trifling and perfunctory efforts while on earth to rid

themselves of the less elevated impulses of their nature, and

consequently doom themselves not only to a greatly

prolonged sojourn in the intermediate world, but also to what

cannot be described otherwise than as a loss of a portion of

the lower mind.

This is, no doubt, a material method of expressing the

reflection of the higher mind in the lower, but a very fairly

accurate idea of what actually takes place will be obtained by

adopting the hypothesis that the manasic principle sends

down a portion of itself into the lower world of physical life

at each incarnation, and expects to be able to withdraw it

again at the end of the life, enriched by all its varied

experiences. The ordinary man, however, usually allows

himself to be so pitiably enslaved by all sorts of base desire,

that a certain portion of this lower mind becomes very.51

closely interwoven with the desire-body, and when the

separation takes place at the close of his astral life the mental

principle has, as it were, to be torn apart, the degraded portion

remaining within the disintegrating astral body.

This body then consists of the particles of astral matter

from which the lower mind has not been able to disengage

itself, and which therefore retain it captive; for when the man

passes into the heaven-world these clinging fragments adhere

to a portion of his mind, and as it were wrench it away. The

proportion of the matter of each level present in the decaying

astral vehicle will therefore depend on the extent to which the

mind has become inextricably entangled with the lower

passions. It will be obvious that as the mind in passing from

level to level is unable to free itself completely from the

matter of each, the astral remnant will show the presence of

each grosser kind which has succeeded in retaining its

connection with it.

Thus comes into existence the class of entity which has

been called "The Shade "—an entity, be it observed, which is

not in any sense the real individual at all, for he has passed

away into the heaven-world; but nevertheless, it not only

bears his exact personal appearance, but possesses his

memory and all his little idiosyncrasies, and may, therefore,

very readily be mistaken for him, as indeed it frequently is at

seances. It is not, of course, conscious of any act of

impersonation, for as far as its intellect goes it must

necessarily suppose itself to be the individual, but one can

imagine the horror and disgust of the friends of the departed,

if they could only realize that they had been deceived into

accepting as their loved one a mere soulless bundle of all his

lowest qualities..The length of life of a shade varies according to the.52

amount of the lower mind which animates it, but as this is all

the while in process of fading out, its intellect is a steadily

diminishing quantity though it may possess a great deal of a

certain sort of animal cunning; and even quite towards the

end of its career it is still able to communicate by borrowing

temporary intelligence from the medium. From its very

nature it is exceedingly liable to be swayed by all kinds of

evil influences, and, having separated from its higher ego, it

has nothing in its constitution capable of responding to good

ones. It therefore lends itself readily to various minor

purposes of some of the baser sort of black magicians. So

much of mental matter as it possesses gradually disintegrates

and returns to its own plane, though not to any individual

mind, and thus the shade fades by almost imperceptible

gradations into a member of our next class.

5. The Shell. This is absolutely the mere astral corpse in

the later stages of its disintegration, every particle of the mind

having left it. It is entirely without any kind of consciousness

or intelligence, and is drifted passively about upon the astral

currents just as a cloud might be swept in any direction by a

passing breeze; but even yet it may be galvanized for a few

moments into a ghastly burlesque of life if it happens to

come within reach of a medium's aura. Under such

circumstances it will still exactly resemble its departed

personality in appearance, and may even reproduce to some

extent his familiar expressions or handwriting, but it does so

merely by the automatic action of the cells of which it is

composed, which tend under stimulation to repeat the form

of action to which they are most accustomed, and whatever

amount of intelligence may be behind any such manifestation

has most assuredly no connection.53

with the original man, but is lent by the medium or his

"guides" for the occasion.

It is, however, more frequently temporarily vitalized in

quite another manner, which will be described under the next

head. It has also the quality of being still blindly responsive

to such vibrations—usually of the lowest order as were

frequently set up in it during its last stage of existence as a

shade, and consequently persons in whom evil desires or

passions are predominant will be very likely, if they attend

physical seances, to find these intensified and as it were

thrown back upon them by the unconscious shells.

There is also another variety of corpse which it is

necessary to mention under this head, though belongs to a

much earlier stage of man's post-mortem history. It has been

stated above that after the death of the physical body the

astral vehicle is comparatively quickly rearranged, and the

etheric double cast off—this latter body being destined to

slow disintegration, precisely as is the astral shell at a later

stage of the proceedings.

This etheric shell, however, is not to be met with drifting

aimlessly about, as is the variety with which we have hitherto

been dealing; on the contrary, it remains within a few yards

of the decaying physical body, and since it is readily visible

to any one even slightly sensitive, it is accountable for many

of the commonly current stories of churchyard ghosts. A

psychically developed person passing one of our great

cemeteries will see hundreds of these bluish-white, misty

forms hovering over the graves where are laid the physical

vestures which they have recently left; and as they, like their

lower counterparts, are in stages of disintegration, the sight is

by no means a pleasant one..54

This also, like the other kind, of shell, is entirely devoid of

consciousness and intelligence; and though it may under

certain circumstances be galvanized into a very horrible form

of temporary life, this is possible only by means of some of

the most loathsome rites of one of the worst forms of black

magic, about which the less said the better. It will thus be

seen that in the successive stages of his progress from earth-life

to the heaven-world, man casts off and leaves to slow

disintegration no less than three corpses—the dense physical

body, the etheric double, and the astral vehicle—all of which

are by degrees resolved into their constituent elements and

their matter utilized anew on their respective planes by the

wonderful chemistry of nature.

6. The Vitalized Shell. This entity ought not, strictly

speaking, to be classified under the head "human" at all,

since it is only its outer vesture, the passive, senseless shell,

that was once an appanage of humanity; such life,

intelligence, desire, and will as it may possess are those of

the artificial- elemental animating it, and that, though in

terrible truth a creation of man's evil thought is not itself

human. It will therefore perhaps be better to deal with it more

fully under its appropriate class among the artificial entities,

as its nature and genesis will be more readily comprehensible

by the time that part of our subject is reached.

Let it suffice here to mention that it is always a malevolent

being—a true tempting demon, whose evil influence is

limited only by the extent of its power. Like the shade, it is

frequently used to further the horrible purposes of the

Voodoo and Obeah forms of magic. Some writers have

spoken of it under the name "elementary," but as that title has

at one time or another been used for almost.55

every variety of post-mortem entity, it has become so vague

and meaningless that it is perhaps better to avoid it.

7. The Suicide and the victim of sudden death. It will be

readily understood that a man who is torn from physical life

hurriedly while in full health and strength, whether by

accident or suicide, finds himself upon the astral plane tinder

conditions differing considerably from those which surround

one who dies either from old age or from disease. In the

latter case the hold of earthly desires upon the entity is sure

to be more or less weakened, and probably the very grossest

particles are already got rid of, so that the man will most

likely find himself on the sixth or fifth subdivision of the

astral world, or perhaps even higher; the principles have been

gradually prepared for separation, and the shock is therefore

not so great.

In the case of the accidental death or suicide none of these

preparations have taken place, and the withdrawal of the

principles front their physical encasement has been very

aptly compared to the tearing of the stone out of an unripe

fruit; a great deal of the grossest kind of astral matter still

clings around the personality, which is consequently held in

the seventh or lowest subdivision of the plane. This has

already been described as anything but a pleasant abiding

place, yet it is by no means the same for all those who are

compelled for a time to inhabit it. Those victims of sudden

death whose earth-lives have been pure and noble have no

affinity for this plane, and so the time of their sojourn upon it

is passed, to quote front an early letter on this subject, either

in "happy ignorance and full oblivion, or in a state of quiet

slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams."

On the other hand, if men's earth-lives have been low and.brutal, selfish and sensual, they will, like the suicides,.56

be conscious to the fullest extent in this undesirable region

and they are liable to develope into terribly evil entities.

Inflamed with all kinds of horrible appetites which they call

no longer satisfy directly now they are without a physical

body, they gratify their loathsome passions vicariously

through a medium or any sensitive person whom they can

obsess; and they take a devilish delight in using all the arts of

delusion which the astral plane puts in their power in order to

lead others into the same excesses which have proved so fatal

to themselves.

Quoting again from the same letter:—"These are the

Pisachas, the incubi and succubae of mediaeval writers—

demons of thirst and gluttony, of lust and avarice, of

intensified craft, wickedness, and cruelty, provoking their

victims to horrible crimes, and revelling in their

commission." From this class and the last are drawn the

tempters the devils of ecclesiastical literature; but their power

falls utterly before purity of mind and purpose; they can do

nothing with a man unless he has first encouraged in himself

the vices into which they seek to draw him.

One whose psychic sight has been opened will often see

crowds of these unfortunate creatures hanging round

butchers' shops, public-houses, or other even more

disreputable places—wherever the gross influences in which

they delight are to be found, and where they encounter men

and women still in the flesh who are like-minded with

themselves. For such an entity as one of these to meet with a

medium with whom he is in affinity is indeed a terrible

misfortune not only does it enable him to prolong

enormously his dreadful astral life, but it renews for perhaps

all indefinite period his power to generate evil karma, and so

prepare for himself a future incarnation of the most.57

degraded character, besides running the risk of losing a large

portion of such mind-power as he may happen to possess. If

he is fortunate enough not to meet with a sensitive through

whom his passions can be vicariously gratified, the

unfulfilled desires will gradually burn themselves out, and

the suffering caused in the process will probably go far

towards working off the evil karma of the past life.

The position of the suicide is further complicated by the

fact that his rash act has enormously diminished the power

of the higher ego to withdraw its lower portion into itself, and

therefore has exposed him to manifold and great additional

dangers; but it must be remembered that the guilt of suicide

differs considerably according to its circumstances, from the

morally blameless act of Seneca or Socrates through all

degrees down to the heinous crime of the wretch who takes

his own life in order to escape from the entanglements into

which his villainy has brought him and of course the position

after death varies accordingly.

It should be noted that this class, as well as the shades

and the vitalized shells, are all what may be called minor

vampires; that is to say, whenever they have the opportunity

they prolong their existence by draining away the vitality

from human beings whom they find themselves able to

influence. This is why both medium and sitters are often so

weak and exhausted after a physical seance. A student of

occultism is taught how to guard himself from their attempts,

but without that knowledge it is difficult for one who puts

himself in their way to avoid being more or less laid under

contribution by them.

8. The Vampire and Werewolf. There remain two even

more awful but happily very rare possibilities to be.58

mentioned before this part of our subject is completed, and

though they differ very widely in many ways we may yet

perhaps group them together, since they have in common the

qualities of unearthly horror and of extreme rarity—the latter

arising from the fact that they are really legacies from earlier

races—hideous anachronisms, appalling relics of a time

when man and his surroundings were in many ways not what

they are now.

We of the fifth root race ought to have evolved beyond

the possibility of meeting such a ghastly fate as is indicated

by either of the two headings of this sub-section, and we

have so nearly done it that these creatures are commonly

regarded as mere mediaeval fables; yet there are examples to

be found occasionally even now, though chiefly in countries

where there is a considerable strain of fourth-race blood,

such as Russia or Hungary. The popular legends about them

are probably often considerably exaggerated, but there is

nevertheless a terribly serious substratum of truth beneath

the eerie stories which pass from mouth to mouth among the

peasantry of Central Europe. The general characteristics of

such tales are too well known to need more than a passing

reference; a fairly typical specimen of the vampire story,

though it does not profess to be more than the merest fiction,

is Sheridan le Fanu's Carmilla, while a very remarkable

account of an unusual form of this creature is to be found in

Isis Unveiled vol. i., p. 454.

Readers of Theosophical literature will be aware that it is

just possible for a man to live a life so absolutely degraded

and selfish, so utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole of his

lower mind may become entirely immeshed in his desires,

and finally separated from its spiritual source in the higher

ego. Some students even seem.59

to have supposed that such an occurrence is quite a common

one, and that we may meet scores of such "soulless men," as

they have been called, in the street every day of our lives; but

this, happily, is untrue. To attain the appalling pre-eminence

in evil which thus involves the entire loss of a personality and

the weakening of the developing individuality behind, a man

must stifle every gleam of unselfishness or spirituality, and

must have absolutely no redeeming point whatever; and when

we remember how often, even in the worst of villains, there is

to be found something not wholly bad, we shall realize that

the abandoned personalities must always be a very small

minority. Still, comparatively few though they be, they do

exist, and it is from their ranks that the still rarer vampire is


The lost entity would very soon after death find himself

unable to stay in the astral world, and would be irresistibly

drawn in full consciousness into "his own place," the

mysterious eighth sphere, there slowly to disintegrate after

experiences best left undescribed. If, however, he perishes by

suicide or sudden death, he may under certain circumstances,

especially if he knows something of black magic, hold

himself back from that awful fate by a death in life scarcely

less awful—the ghastly existence of the vampire.

Since the eighth sphere cannot claim him until after the

death of the body, he preserves it in a kind of cataleptic

trance by the horrible expedient of the transfusion into it of

blood drawn from other human beings by his semi-materialized

astral, and thus postpones his final destiny by

the commission of wholesale murder. As popular

"superstition" again quite rightly supposes, the easiest and

most effectual remedy in such a case is to exhume and burn

the body, thus depriving the creature of his.60

point d'appui. When the grave is opened the body usually

appears quite fresh and healthy, and the coffin is not

infrequently filled with blood. In countries where cremation

is the custom, vampirism of this sort is naturally impossible.

The Werewolf, though equally horrible, is the product of

a somewhat different karma, and indeed ought perhaps to

have found a place under the first instead of the second

division of the human inhabitants of this plane, since it is

always during a man's lifetime that he first manifests under

this form. It invariably implies some knowledge of magical

arts sufficient at any rate to be able to project the astral body.

When a perfectly cruel and brutal man does this, there are

certain circumstances under which the body may be seized

upon by other astral entities and materialized, not into the

human form, but into that of some wild animal usually the

wolf; and in that condition it will range the surrounding

country killing other animals, and even human beings, thus

satisfying not only its own craving for blood, but that of the

fiends who drive it on.

In this case, as so often with ordinary materialization, any

wound inflicted upon that animal form will be reproduced

upon the human physical body by the extraordinary

phenomenon of repercussion; though after the death of that

physical body, the astral (which will probably continue to

appear in the same form) will be less vulnerable. It will then,

however, be also less dangerous, as unless it can find a

suitable medium it will be unable to materialize fully. In such

manifestations there is probably a great deal of the matter of

the etheric double, and perhaps also a toll is levied upon the

gaseous and liquid constituents of the physical.61

body as in the case of some materializations. In both cases

this fluidic body appears able to pass to much greater

distances from the physical than is ever otherwise possible,

so far as is yet known for a vehicle which contains at least a

certain amount of etheric matter.

It has been the fashion of this century to scoff at what are

called the foolish superstitions of the ignorant peasantry but,

as in the above cases, so in many others, the occult student

finds on careful examination that obscure or forgotten truths

of nature be behind what at first sight appears mere

nonesense, and he learns to be cautious in rejecting as well as

cautious in accepting. Intending explorers of the astral plane

need have little fear of encountering the very unpleasant

creatures described under this head, for, as before stated, they

are even now extremely rare, and as time aces on their

number will happily steadily diminish. In any case their

manifestations are usually restricted to the immediate

neighbourhood of their physical bodies, as might be

supposed from their extremely material nature.

9. The Black Magician or his pupil. This person

corresponds at the other extremity of the scale to our second

class of departed entities, the pupil awaiting reincarnation, but

in this case, instead of obtaining permission to adopt an

unusual method of progress, the man is defying the natural

process of evolution by maintaining himself in astral life by

magical arts sometimes of the most horrible nature.

It would be easy to make various subdivisions of this

class, according to their objects, their methods, and the

possible duration of their existence on this plane, but as they

are by no means fascinating objects of study, and all that in

occult student wishes to know about them is how to avoid.them, it will probably be more interesting to pass on.62

to the examination of another part of our subject. It may,

however, be just mentioned that every such human entity

which prolongs its life thus on the astral plane beyond its

natural limit invariably does so at the expense of others, and

by the absorption of their life in some form or another.


Though it might have been thought fairly obvious even to

the most casual glance that many of the terrestrial

arrangements of nature which affect us most nearly have not

been designed exclusively with a view to our comfort or even

our ultimate advantage, it was yet probably unavoidable that

the human race, at least in its childhood, should imagine that

this world and everything it contains existed solely for its

own use and benefit; but undoubtedly we ought by this time

to have grown out of that infantile delusion and realized our

proper position and the duties that attach to it.

That most of us have not yet done so is shown in a dozen

ways in our daily life—notably by the atrocious cruelty

habitually displayed towards the animal kingdom under the

name of sport by many who probably consider themselves

highly civilized people. Of course the veriest tyro in the holy

science of occultism knows that all life is sacred, and that

without universal compassion there is no true progress; but it

is only as he advances in his studies that he discovers how

manifold evolution is, and how comparatively small a place

humanity really fills in the economy of nature.

It becomes clear to him that just as earth, air, and.63

water support myriads of forms of life which, though

invisible to the ordinary eve, are revealed to us by the

microscope, so the higher planes connected with our earth

have an equally dense population of whose existence we are

ordinarily completely unconscious. As his knowledge

increases he becomes more and more certain that in one way

or another the utmost use is being made of every possibility

of evolution, and that wherever it seems to us that in nature

force is being wasted or opportunity neglected, it is not the

scheme of the universe that is in fault, but our ignorance of

its method and intention.

For the purposes of our present consideration of the non-human

inhabitants of the astral plane it will be best to leave

altogether out of consideration those very early forms of the

universal life which are evolving in a manner of which we can

have little comprehension, through the successive encasement

of atoms, molecules, and cells; for if we commence at the

lowest of what are usually called the elemental kingdoms, we

shall even then have to group together under this general

heading an enormous number of inhabitants of the astral

plane upon whom it will be possible to touch only very

slightly, as anything like a detailed account of them would

swell this manual to the dimensions of an encyclopaedia.

The most convenient method of arranging the nonhuman

entities will perhaps be in four classes—it being understood

that in this case the class is not, as previously, a

comparatively small subdivision, but usually a great kingdom

of nature at least as large and varied as, say, the animal or

vegetable kingdom. Some of these classes rank considerably

below humanity, some are our equals, and others again rise

far above us in goodness and power. Some belong to our.64

scheme of evolution—that is to say, they either have been or

will be men like ourselves; others are evolving on entirely

distinct lines of their own.

Before proceeding to consider them it is necessary, in

order to avoid the charge of incompleteness, to mention that

in this branch of the subject two reservations have been

made. First, no reference is made to the occasional

appearances of very high Adepts from other planets of the

solar system and of even more august Visitors from a still

greater distance, since such matters cannot fitly be described

in an essay for general reading and besides it is practically

inconceivable, though of course theoretically possible, that

such glorified Beings should ever need to manifest

themselves on a plane so low as the astral. If for any reason

they should wish to do so, the body appropriate to the plane

would be temporarily created out of astral matter belonging

to this planet, just as in the case of the Nirmanakaya.

Secondly, quite outside of and entirely unconnected with

the four classes into which we are dividing this section, there

are two other great evolutions which at present share the use

of this planet with humanity; but about them it is forbidden

to give any particulars at this stage of the proceedings, as it is

not apparently intended tinder ordinary circumstances either

that they should be conscious of man's existence or man of

theirs. If we ever do come into contact with them it will most

probably be on the purely physical plane, for in any case

their connection with our astral plane is of the slightest, since

the only possibility of their appearance there depends upon

an extremely improbable accident in an act of ceremonial

magic, which fortunately only a few of the most advanced

sorcerers know how to perform. Nevertheless, that

improbable accident.65

has happened at least once, and may happen again, so that

but for the prohibition above mentioned it would have been

necessary to include them in our list.

1. The Elemental Essence belonging to our own

evolution. Just as the name "elementary" has been given

indiscriminately by various writers to any or all of man's

possible post-mortem conditions, so this word "elemental"

has been used at different times to mean any or all

nonhuman spirits, from the most godlike of the Devas down

through every variety of nature-spirit to the formless essence

which pervades the kingdoms lying behind the mineral, until

after reading several books the student becomes absolutely

bewildered by the contradictory statements made on the

subject. For the purposes of this treatise let it be understood

that elemental essence is merely a name applied during

certain stages of its evolution to monadic essence, which in

its turn may be defined as the outpouring of spirit or divine

force into matter.

We are all familiar with the idea that before this

outpouring arrives at the stage of individualization at which it

ensouls man, it has passed through and ensouled in turn six

lower phases of evolution—the animal, vegetable, mineral,

and three elemental kingdoms. When energizing through

those respective stages it has sometimes been called the

animal, vegetable, or mineral monad—though this term is

distinctly misleading, since long before it arrives at any of

these kingdoms it has become not one, but many monads.

The name was, however, adopted to convey the idea that,

though differentiation in the monadic essence had already

long ago set in, it had not yet been carried to the extent of

individualization..When this monadic essence is energizing through the.66

three great elemental kingdoms which precede the mineral, it

is called by the name of "elemental essence." Before,

however, its nature and the manner in which it manifests can

be understood, the method in which spirit enfolds itself in its

descent into matter must be realized.

Be it remembered then, that when spirit, resting on any

plane (it matters not which—let us call it plane No. 1 ) wills

to descend to the plane next below (let us call that plane No.

2) it must enfold itself in the matter of that plane—that is to

say, it must draw round itself a veil of the matter of plane No.

2. Similarly when it continues its descent to plane No. 3 it

must draw round itself the matter of that plane, and we shall

then have, say, an atom whose body or outer covering

consists of the matter of plane No. 3. The force energizing in

it—its soul, so to speak—will however not be spirit in the

condition in which it was on plane No. 1, but will be that

divine force plus the veil of the matter of plane No. 2. When

a still further descent is made to plane No. 4, the atom

becomes still more complex, for it will then have a body of

No. 4 matter, ensouled by spirit already twice veiled—in the

matter of planes 2 and 3. It will be seen that, since this

process repeats itself for every subplane of each plane of the

solar system, by the time the original force reaches our

physical level it is so thoroughly veiled that it is small

wonder men often fail to recognize it as spirit at all.

Now suppose that the monadic essence has carried on

this process of veiling itself down to the atomic level of the

mental plane, and that, instead of descending through the

various subdivisions of that plane, it plunges down directly

into the astral plane, ensouling, or aggregating round it a

body of atomic astral matter; such a combination would be.67

the elemental essence of the astral plane, belonging to the

third of the great elemental kingdoms—the one immediately

preceding the mineral. In the course of its two thousand four

hundred differentiations, on the astral plane it draws to itself

many and various combinations of the matter of its several

sub-divisions; but these are only temporary, and it still

remains essentially, one kingdom, whose characteristic is

monadic essence involved down to the atomic level of the

mental plane only, but manifesting through the atomic matter

of the astral plane.

The two higher elemental kingdoms exist and function

respectively upon the higher and the lower levels of the

mental plane; but we are not at the moment concerned with


To speak, as we so often do, of an elemental in connection

with the group we are now considering is somewhat

misleading, for strictly speaking there is no such thing. What

we find is a vast store of elemental essence, wonderfully

sensitive to the most fleeting human thought, responding

with inconceivable delicacy in an infinitesimal fraction of a

second to a vibration set up in it even by an entirely

unconscious exercise of human will or desire.

But the moment that by the influence of such thought or

exercise of will it is moulded into a living force into

something that may correctly be described as an elemental—

it at once ceases to belong to the category we are discussing

and becomes a member of the artificial class. Even then us

separate existence is usually of the most evanescent

character, and as soon as its impulse has worked itself out it

sinks back into the undifferentiated mass of that particular

subdivision of elemental essence from which it came..It would be tedious to attempt to catalogue these.68

divisions, and indeed even if a list of them were made it

would be unintelligible except to the practical student who

can call them up before him and compare them. Some idea of

the leading lines of classification can, however, be grasped

without much trouble, and may prove of interest.

First comes the broad division which has given the

elementals their name—the classification according to the

kind of matter which they inhabit. Here, as usual, the

septenary character of our evolution shows itself, for there

are seven such chief groups, related respectively to the seven

states of physical matter—to "earth, water, air, and fire," or to

translate from mediaeval symbolism to modern accuracy of

expression, to the solid, the liquid, the gaseous, and the four

etheric conditions.

It has long been the custom to pity and despise the

ignorance of the alchemists of the middle ages, because they

gave the title of "elements" to substances which modern

chemistry has discovered to be compounds; but in speaking

of them thus slightingly we have done them great for their

knowledge on this subject was really wider, not narrower,

than ours. They may or may not have catalogued all the sixty

or seventy substances which we now call elements; but they

certainly did not apply that name to them, for their occult

studies had taught them that in that sense of the word there

was but one element, of which these and all other forms of

matter were but modifications—a truth which some of the

greatest chemists of the present day are just beginning to


The fact is that in this particular case our despised

forefathers' analysis, went several steps deeper than our own,

They understood and were able to observe the ether, which.modern science can only postulate as a necessity for its.69

theories; they were aware that it consists of physical matter in

four entirely distinct states above the gaseous—a fact which

has not yet been re-discovered. They knew that all physical

objects consist of matter in one or other of these seven states,

and that into the composition of every organic body all seven

enter in a greater or lesser degree; hence all their talk of fiery

and watery humours, or "elements," which seems so

grotesque to us. It is obvious that they used the latter word

simply as a synonym for "constituent parts," without in the

least degree intending it to connote the idea of substances

which could not be further reduced. They knew also that

each of these orders of matter serves as a basis of

manifestation for a great class of evolving monadic essence,

and so they christened the essence "elemental."

What we have to try to realize, then, is that in every

particle of solid matter, so long as it remains in that

condition, there resides, to use the picturesque phraseology

of mediaeval students, an earth elemental—that is, a certain

amount of the living elemental essence appropriate to it, while

equally in every particle of matter in the liquid, gaseous, or

etheric states, the water, air, and fire "elementals" respectively

inhere. It will be observed that this first broad division of the

third of the elemental kingdoms is, so to speak, a horizontal

one—that is to say, its respective classes stand—in the

relation of steps, each somewhat less material than the one

below it, which ascends into it by almost imperceptible

degrees; and it is easy to understand how each of these

classes may again he divided horizontally into seven, since

there are obviously many degrees of density among solids,

liquids, and gases.

There is, however, what may be described as a


division also, and this is somewhat more difficult to

comprehend, especially as great reserve is always maintained

by occultists as to some of the facts which would be involved

in a fuller explanation of it. Perhaps the clearest way to put

what is known on the subject will be to state that in each of

the horizontal classes and subclasses will be found seven

perfectly distinct types of elemental, the difference between

them being no longer a question of degree of materiality, but

rather of character and affinities.

Each of these types so reacts upon the others that, though

it is impossible for them ever to interchange their essence, in

each of them seven sub-types will be found to exist,

distinguished by the colouring given to their original

peculiarity by the influence which sways them most readily.

It will at once be seen that this perpendicular division and

subdivision differs entirely in its character from the

horizontal, in that it is far more permanent and fundamental;

for while it is the evolution of the elemental kingdom to pass

with almost infinite slowness through its various horizontal

classes and sub-classes in succession, and thus to belong to

them all in turn, this is not so with regard to the types and

sub-types, which remain unchangeable all the way through.

A point which must never be lost sight of in endeavouring

to understand this elemental evolution is that it is taking place

on what is sometimes called the downward curve of the arc;

that is to say, it is progressing towards the complete

entanglement in matter which we witness in the mineral

kingdom, instead of away from it, as is most other evolution

of which we know anything. Thus for it progress means

descent into matter instead of.71

ascent towards higher planes and this fact sometimes gives it

a curiously inverted appearance in our eyes until we

thoroughly grasp its object. Unless the student bears this

constantly and clearly in mind, he will again and again find

himself beset by perplexing anomalies.

In spite of these manifold subdivisions, there are certain

properties which are possessed in common by all varieties of

this strange living essence; but even these are so entirely

different from any with which we are familiar on the physical

plane that it is exceedingly difficult to explain them to those

who cannot themselves see it in action.

Let it be premised, then, that when any portion of this

essence remains for a few moments entirely unaffected by

any outside influence (a condition, by the way, which is

hardly ever realized) it is absolutely without any definite

form of its own, though its motion is still rapid and

ceaseless; but on the slightest disturbance, set up perhaps by

some passing thought-current, it flashes into a bewildering

confusion of restless, ever-changing shapes, which form,

rush about, and disappear with the rapidity of the bubbles on

the surface of boiling water.

These evanescent shapes, though generally those of living

creatures of some sort, human or otherwise, no more express

the existence of separate entities in the essence than do the

equally changeful and multiform waves raised in a few

moments on a previously smooth lake by a sudden squall.

They seem to be mere reflections from the vast storehouse of

the astral light, yet they have usually a certain

appropriateness to the character of the thought-stream which

calls them into existence, though nearly always with

grotesque distortion, some terrifying or unpleasant aspect.about them..72

A question naturally arises in the mind here as to what

intelligence it is that is exerted in the selection of an

appropriate shape or its distortion when selected. We are not

dealing with the more powerful and longer-lived artificial

elemental created by a strong definite thought, but simply

with the result produced by the stream of half-conscious,

involuntary thoughts which the majority of mankind allow to

flow idly through their brains. The intelligence therefore is

obviously not derived from the mind of the thinker; and we

certainly cannot credit the elemental essence itself, which

belongs to a kingdom further from individualization even

than the mineral, with any sort of awakening of the mental


Yet it does possess a marvellous adaptability which often

seems to come very near it, and it is no doubt this property

that caused elementals to be described in one of our early

books as "the semi-intelligent creatures of the astral light."

We shall find further evidence of this power when we come

to consider the case of the artificial class. When we read of a

good or evil elemental, it must always be either an artificial

entity or one of the many varieties of nature-spirits that is

meant, for the elemental kingdoms proper do not admit of

any such conceptions as good and evil.

There is, however, undoubtedly a sort of bias or tendency

permeating nearly all their subdivisions which operates to

render them rather hostile than friendly towards man. Every

neophyte knows this, for in most cases his very first

impression of the astral plane is of the presence all around

him of vast hosts of protean spectres who advance upon him

in threatening guise, but always retire or dissipate harmlessly

if boldly faced. It is to this curious tendency that the

distorted or unpleasant aspect above mentioned.73

must be referred, and mediaeval writers tell us that man has

only himself to thank for its existence. In the golden age

before this sordid present men were on the whole less selfish

and more spiritual, and then the "elementals" were friendly,

though now they are so no longer because of man's

indifference to, and want of sympathy with, other living


From the wonderful delicacy with which the essence

responds to the faintest action of our minds or desires it

seems clear that this elemental kingdom as a whole is very

much what the collective thought of humanity makes it. Any

one who will think for a moment how far from elevating the

action of that collective thought is likely to be at the present

time will see little reason to wonder that we reap as we have

sown, and that this essence, which has no power of

perception, but only blindly receives and reflects what is

projected upon it, should usually exhibit unfriendly


There can be no doubt that in later races or rounds, when

mankind as a whole has evolved to a much higher level, the

elemental kingdoms will be influenced by the changed

thought which continually impinges upon them, and we shall

find them no longer hostile, but docile and helpful, as we are

told that the animal kingdom will also be. Whatever may

have happened in the past, it is evident that we may look

forward to a very passable "golden age" in the future, if we

can arrive at a time when the majority of men will be noble

and unselfish, and the forces of nature will co-operate

willingly with them.

The fact that we are so readily able to influence the

elemental kingdoms at once show, us that we have a.responsibility towards them for the manner in which we use.74

that influence. Indeed, when we consider the conditions

under which they exist, it is obvious that the effect produced

upon them by the thoughts and desires of all intelligent

creatures inhabiting the same world with them must have

been calculated upon in the scheme of our system as a factor

in their evolution.

In spite of the consistent teaching of all the great

religions, the mass of mankind is still utterly regardless of its

responsibility on the thought-plane; if a man can flatter

himself that his words and deeds have been harmless to

others, he believes that he has done all that can be required of

him, quite oblivious of the fact that he may for years have

been exercising a narrowing and debasing influence on the

minds of those about him, and filling surrounding space with

the unlovely creations of a sordid mind. A still more serious

aspect of this question will come before us when we discuss

the artificial elemental but in regard to the essence it will be

sufficient to state that we undoubtedly have the power to

accelerate or delay its evolution according to the use which

consciously or unconsciously we are continually making of


It would be hopeless within the limits of such a treatise as

this to attempt to explain the different uses to which the

forces inherent in the manifold varieties of this elemental

essence can he put by one who has been trained in their

management. The vast majority of magical ceremonies

depend almost entirely upon its manipulation, either directly

by the will of the magician, or by some more definite astral

entity evoked by him for that purpose.

By its means nearly all the physical phenomena of the

seance-room are produced, and it is also the agent in most.cases of stone-throwing or bell-ringing in haunted houses,.75

such results as these latter being brought about either by

blundering efforts to attract attention made by some

earthbound human entity, or by the mere mischievous pranks

of some of the minor nature-spirits belonging to our third

class. But the "elemental" must never be thought of as itself a

prime mover; it is simply a latent force, which needs an

external power to set it in motion.

It may be noted that although all classes of the essence

have the power of reflecting images from the astral light as

described above, there are varieties which receive certain

impressions much more readily than others—which have, as

it were, favourite forms of their own into which upon

disturbance they would naturally flow unless absolutely

forced into some other, and such shapes tend to be a trifle

less evanescent than usual.

Before leaving this branch of the subject it may be well to

warn the student against the confusion of thought into which

some have fallen through failing to distinguish this elemental

essence which we have been considering from the monadic

essence manifesting through the mineral kingdom. It must be

borne in mind that monadic essence at one stage of its

evolution towards humanity manifests through the elemental

kingdom, while at a later stage it manifests through the

mineral kingdom; but the fact that two bodies of monadic

essence at these different stages are in manifestation at the

same moment, and that one of these manifestations (the earth

elemental) occupies the same space as and inhabits the other

(say a rock), in no way interferes with the evolution either of

one or the other, nor does it imply any relation between the

bodies of monadic essence lying within both. The rock will

also be permeated by its appropriate variety of the

omnipresent life principle, but.76

that is again totally distinct from either of the essences above


2. The Astral Bodies of Animals. This is an extremely

large class, yet it does not occupy a particularly important

position on the astral plane, since its members usually stay

there but a very short time. The vast majority of animals have

not as yet acquired permanent individualization, and when

one of them dies the monadic essence which has been

manifesting through it flows back again into the particular

stratum whence it came, bearing with it such advancement or

experience as has been attained during that life. It is not,

however, able to do this quite immediately; the astral body of

the animal rearranges itself just as in man's case, and the

animal has a real existence on the astral plane, the length of

which, though never great, varies according to the intelligence

which it has developed. In most cases it does not seem to be

more than dreamily conscious, but appears perfectly happy.

The comparatively few domestic animals who have

already attained individuality, and will therefore be reborn no

more as animals in this world, have a much longer and much

more vivid life on the astral plane than their less advanced

fellows, and at the end of it sink gradually into a subjective

condition, which is likely to last for a very considerable

period. One interesting subdivision of this class consists of

the astral bodies of those anthropoid apes mentioned in The

Secret Doctrine (vol. i., p. 184) who are already

individualized, and will be ready to take human incarnation in

the next round, or perhaps some of then) even sooner.

3. Nature-Spirits of all Kinds. So many and so varied are

the subdivisions of this class that to do them anything like

justice one would need to devote a separate treatise to.77

this subject alone. Some characteristics, however, they all

have in common, and it will be sufficient here to try to give

some idea of those.

To begin with, we have to realize that we are here dealing

with entities which differ radically from all that we have

hitherto considered. Though we may rightly classify the

elemental essence and the animal astral bodies as nonhuman,

the monadic essence which manifests itself through them

will, nevertheless, in the fulness of time, evolve to the level of

manifesting itself through some future humanity comparable

to our own, and if we were able to look back through

countless ages on our own evolution in previous world-cycles,

we should find that that which is now ourselves has

passed on its upward path through similar stages.

That, however, is not the case with the vast kingdom of

nature-spirits; they neither have been, nor ever will be,

members of a humanity such as ours; their line of evolution

is entirely different, and their only connection with us

consists in our temporary occupancy of the same planet. Of

course since we are neighbours for the time being we owe

neighbourly kindness to one another when we happen to

meet, but our lines of development differ so widely that each

can do but little for the other.

Many writers have included these spirits among the

elementals, and indeed they are the elementals (or perhaps, to

speak more accurately, the animals) of a higher evolution.

Though much more highly developed than our elemental

essence, they have yet certain characteristics in common with

it; for example, they also are divided into seven great classes,

inhabiting respectively the same seven states of matter

already mentioned as permeated by the corresponding.78

varieties of the essence. Thus, to take those which are most

readily comprehensible to us, there are spirits of the earth,

water, air, and fire (or ether)—definite intelligent astral

entities residing and functioning in each of those media.

It may be asked how it is possible for any kind of

creature to inhabit the solid substance of a rock, or of the

crust of the earth. The answer is that since the nature-spirits

are formed of astral matter, the substance of the rock is no

hindrance to their motion or their vision, and furthermore

physical matter in its solid state is their natural element—the

only one to which they are accustomed and in which they

feel at home. The same is of course true of those who live in

water, air, or ether.

In mediaeval literature, these earth-spirits are often called

gnomes, while the water-spirits are spoken of as undines, the

air-spirits as sylphs, and the ether-spirits as salamanders. In

popular language they are known by many names—fairies,

pixies, elves, brownies, peris, djinns, trolls, satyrs, fauns,

kobolds, imps, goblins, good people, &c.—some of these

titles being applied only to one variety, and others

indiscriminately to all.

Their forms are many and various, but most frequently

human in shape and somewhat diminutive in size. Like

almost all inhabitants of the astral plane, they are able to

assume any appearance at will, but they undoubtedly have

definite forms of their own, or perhaps we should rather say

favourite forms, which they wear when they have no special

object in taking an other. Under ordinary conditions they are

not visible to physical sight at all, but they have the power of

making themselves so by materialization when they wish to

be seen..79

There are an immense number of subdivisions or races

among them, and individuals of these subdivisions differ in

intelligence and disposition precisely as human beings do.

The great majority of them apparently prefer to avoid man

altogether; his habits and emanations are distasteful to them,

and the constant rush of astral currents set up by his restless,

ill-regulated desires disturbs and annoys them. On the other

hand instances are not wanting in which nature-spirits have

as it were made friends with human beings and offered them

such assistance as lay in their power, as in the well-known

stories told of the Scotch brownies or of the fire-lighting

fairies mentioned in spiritualistic literature.

This helpful attitude, however, is comparatively rare, and

in most cases when they come in contact with man they

either show indifference or dislike, or else take an impish

delight in deceiving him and playing childish tricks upon

him. Many a story illustrative of this curious characteristic

may he found among the village gossip of the peasantry in

almost any lonely mountainous district and any one who has

been in the habit of attending seances for physical

phenomena will recollect instances of practical joking and

silly though usually, good-natured horseplay, which almost

always indicate the presence of some of the lower orders of

the nature-spirits.

They are greatly assisted in their tricks by the wonderful

power which they possess of casting a glamour over those

who yield themselves to their influence, so that such victims

for the time see and hear only what these fairies impress

upon them, exactly as the mesmerized subject sees, hears,

feels, and believes whatever the magnetizer wishes. The

nature-spirits, however, have not the mesmerizer's power of.80

dominating the human will, except in the case of quite

unusually weak-minded people, or of those who allow

themselves to fall into such a condition of helpless terror that

their will is temporarily in abeyance. They cannot go beyond

deception of the senses, but of that are they are undoubted

masters, and cases are not wanting in which they have cast

their glamour over a considerable number of people at once.

It is by invoking their aid in the exercise of this peculiar

power that some of the most wonderful feats of the Indian

jugglers are performed—the entire audience being in fact

hallucinated and made to imagine that they see and hear a

whole series of events which have not really taken place at


We might almost look upon the nature-spirits as a kind of

astral humanity, but for the fact that none of them—not even

the highest possesses a permanent reincarnating individ-uality.

Apparently therefore one point in which their lint of

evolution differs from ours is that a much greater proportion

of intelligence is developed before permanent individ-ualization

takes place; but of the stages through which they

have passed, and those through which they have yet to pass,

we can know little.

The life-periods of the different subdivisions vary greatly,

some being quite short, others much longer than our human

lifetime. We stand so entirely, outside such a life as theirs

that it is impossible for us to understand much about its

conditions; but it appears on the whole to be a simple,

joyous, irresponsible kind of existence, much such as a party

of happy children might lead among exceptionally favourable

physical surroundings.

Though tricky and mischievous, they are rarely malicious.unless provoked by some unwarrantable intrusion or


but as a body they also partake to some extent of the

universal feeling of distrust for man, and they generally seem

inclined to resent somewhat the first appearance of a

neophyte on the astral plane, so that he usually makes their

acquaintance under some unpleasant or terrifying form. If,

however, he declines to be frightened by any of their freaks,

they soon accept him as a necessary evil and take no further

notice of him, while some among them may even after a time

become friendly and manifest pleasure on meeting him.

Some among the many subdivisions of this class are

much less childlike and more dignified than those we have

been describing, and it is from these sections that the entities

who have sometimes been reverenced under the name of

wood-gods, or local village-gods, have been drawn. Such

entities would be quite sensible of the flattery involved in the

reverence shown to them would enjoy it, and would no doubt

be quite ready to do any small service they could in return.

(The village-god is also often an artificial entity, but that

variety will he considered in its appropriate place).

The Adept knows how to make use of the services of the

nature-spirits when he requires them, but the ordinary

magician can obtain their assistance only by processes either

of invocation or evocation—that is, either by attracting their

attention as a suppliant and making some kind of bargain

with them, or by endeavouring to set in motion influences

which would compel their obedience. Both methods are

extremely undesirable, and the latter is also excessively

dangerous, as the operator would arouse a determined

hostility which might prove fatal to him. Needless to say, no

one studying occultism under a qualified Master would ever

be permitted to attempt anything of the kind at all..82

4. The Devas. The highest system of evolution connected

with this earth, so far as we know, is that of the beings whom

Hindus call the devas, and who have elsewhere been spoken

of as angels, sons of God, &c. They may, in fact, be regarded

as a kingdom lying next above humanity, in the same way as

humanity in turn lies next above the animal kingdom, but

with this important difference, that while for an animal there

is no possibility of evolution (so far as we know) through

any kingdom but the human, man, when he attains a certain

high level, finds various paths of advancement opening

before him, of which this great deva evolution is only one.

In comparison with the sublime renunciation of the

Nirmanakaya, the acceptance of this line of evolution is

sometimes spoken of in the books as "yielding to the

temptation to become a god", but it must not be inferred from

this expression that any shadow of blame attaches to the man

who makes this choice. The path which he selects is not the

shortest, but it is nevertheless a very noble one, and if his

developed intuition impels him towards it, it is certainly the

one best suited for his capacities. We must never forget that

in spiritual as in physical climbing it is not every one who

can bear the strain of the steeper path; there may be many for

whom what seems the slower way is the only one possible,

and we should indeed be unworthy followers of the great

Teachers if we allowed our ignorance to betray us into the

slightest thought of disposal towards those whose choice

differs from our own.

However confident that ignorance of the difficulties of the

future may allow us to feel now, it is impossible for us to tell

at this stage what we shall find ourselves able to do when,

after many lives of patient striving, we have earned.83

the right to choose our own future; and indeed, even those

who "yield to the temptation to become gods" have a

sufficiently glorious career before them, as will presently be

seen. To avoid possible misunderstanding it may be

mentioned par parenthese that there is another and entirely

evil sense sometimes attached in the books to this phrase of

"becoming a god," but in that form it certainly could never be

any kind of "temptation" to the developed man, and in any

ease it is altogether foreign to our present subject.

In oriental literature this word "deva" is frequently used

vaguely to mean almost any kind of non-human entity, so

that it would often include great divinities on the one hand,

and nature-spirits and artificial elementals on the other. Here,

however, its use will be restricted to the magnificent evolution

which we are now considering.

Though connected with this earth, the devas are by no

means confined to it, for the whole of our present chain of

seven worlds is as one world to them, their evolution being

through a grand system of seven chains. Their hosts have

hitherto been recruited chiefly from other humanities in the

solar system, some lower and some higher than ours, since

but a very small portion of our own has as yet reached the

level at which for us it is possible to join them; but it seems

certain that some of their very numerous classes have not

passed in their upward progress through any humanity at all

comparable to ours.

It is not possible for us at present to understand very

much about them, but it is clear that what may be described

as the aim of their evolution is considerably higher than ours;

that is to say, while the object of our human evolution.84

is to raise the successful portion of humanity to a certain

degree of occult development by the end of the seventh

round, the object of the deva evolution is to raise their

foremost rank to a very much higher level in the

corresponding period. For them, as for us, a steeper but

shorter path to still more sublime heights lies open to earnest

endeavour; but what those heights may be in their case we

can only conjecture.

It is only the lower fringe of this august body that need be

mentioned in connection with our subject of the astral plane.

Their three lower great divisions beginning from the bottom)

are generally called Kamadevas, Rupadevas, and Arupadevas

respectively. Just as our ordinary body here—the lowest

body possible for us—is the physical, so the ordinary body

of a Kamadeva is the astral; so that he stands in somewhat

the same position as humanity will do when it reaches planet

F, and he, living ordinarily in an astral body, would go out of

it to higher spheres in a mental body just as we might in an

astral body, while to enter the causal body would be to him

(when sufficiently developed) no greater effort than to use a

mind-body is to us.

In the same way the Rupadeva's ordinary body would be

the mental, since his habitat is on the four lower or rupa

levels of that plane; while the Arupadeva belongs to the three

higher levels, and owns no nearer approach to a body than

the causal. But for Rupa- and Arupadevas to manifest on the

astral plane is an occurrence at least as rare as it is for astral

entities to materialize on this physical plane, so we need do

no more than mention them now.

As regards the lowest division—the Kamadevas—it

would be quite a mistake to think of all of them as.immeasurably superior to ourselves, since some have entered.85

their ranks from a humanity in some respects less advanced

than our own. The general average among them is much

higher than among us, for all that is actively or wilfully evil

has long been weeded out from their ranks but they differ

widely in disposition, and a really noble, unselfish,

spiritually-minded man may well stand higher in the scale of

evolution than some of them.

Their attention can be attracted by certain magical

evocations, but the only human will which can dominate

theirs is that of a certain high class of Adepts. As a rule they

seem scarcely conscious of us on our physical plane, but it

does now and then happen that one of them becomes aware

of some human difficulty which excites his pity, and he

perhaps renders some assistance, just as any of us would try

to hell) an animal that we saw in trouble. But it is well

understood among them that any interference in human

affairs at the present stage is likely to do far more harm than

good. Above the Arupadevas there are four other great

divisions, and again, above and beyond the deva kingdom

altogether, stand the great hosts of the Planetary Spirits, but

the consideration of such glorified beings would be out of

place in an essay on the astral plane.

Though we cannot claim them as belonging exactly to any

of our classes, this is perhaps the best place in which to

mention those wonderful and important beings, the four

Devarajas. In this name the word deva must not, however, be

taken in the sense in which we have been using it, for it is not

over the deva kingdom, but over the four, "elements" of earth,

water, air, and fire, with their indwelling nature-spirits and

essences, that these four Kings rule. What the evolution has

been through which they rose to their present height of

power and wisdom we cannot.86

tell, save only that it has certainly not passed through

anything corresponding to our own humanity

They are often spoken of as the Regents of the Earth, or

Angels of the four cardinal points, and the Hindu books call

them the Chatur Maharajas, giving their names as

Dhritarashtra, Virudhaka, Virupaksha, and Vaishravana. In

the same books their elemental hosts are called Gandharvas,

Kumbhandas, Nagas, and Yakshas respectively, the points of

the compass appropriated to each being in corresponding

order cast, south, west, and north, and their symbolical

colours, white, blue, red, and gold. They are mentioned in

The Secret Doctrine as "winged globes and fiery wheels";

and in the Christian bible Ezekiel makes a very remarkable

attempt at a description of them in which very similar words

are used. References to them are to be found in the

symbology of every religion, and they have always been held

in the highest reverence as the protectors of mankind.

It is they who are the agents of man's karma during his

life on earth, and they thus play an extremely important part

in human destiny. The great karmic deities of the Kosmos

(called in The Secret Doctrine the Lipika) weigh the deeds of

each personality when the final separation of its principles

takes place at the end of its astral-life, and give as it were the

mould of an etheric double exactly suitable to its karma for

the man s next birth; but it is the Devarajas who, having

command of the "elements" of which that etheric double

must be composed, arrange their proportion so as to fulfil

accurately the intention of the Lipika.

It is they also who constantly watch all through life to

counterbalance the changes perpetually being introduced.87

into man's condition by his own free will and that of those

around him, so that no injustice may be done, and karma may

be accurately worked out, if not in one way then in another.

A learned dissertation upon these marvellous beings will be

found in The Secret Doctrine, vol. i., pp. 122-126. They are

able to take human material forms at will, and several cases

are recorded when they have done so.

All the higher nature-spirits and hosts of artificial

elementals act as their agents in the stupendous work they

carry out, yet all the threads are in their hands, and the whole

responsibility rests upon them alone. It is not often that they

manifest upon the astral plane, but when they do they are

certainly the most remarkable of its non-human inhabitants.

A student of occultism will not need to be told that as there

are seven great classes both of nature-spirits and elemental

essence there must really be seven and not four Devarajas,

but outside the circle of initiation little is known and less may

be said of the higher three.


This, the largest class of astral entities, is also much the

most important to man. Being entirely his own creation, it is

inter-related with him by the closest karmic bonds, and its

action upon him is direct and incessant. It is an enormous

inchoate mass of semi-intelligent entities, differing among

themselves as human thoughts differ, and practically

incapable of anything like classification or arrangement. The

only division which can be usefully made is that which

distinguishes between the artificial elementals made by the

majority of mankind unconsciously and those made by

magicians with definite intent; while we may relegate to a.88

third class the very small number of artificially arranged

entities which are not elementals at all.

1. Elementals formed unconsciously. It has already been

explained that the elemental essence which surrounds us on

every side is in all its numberless varieties singularly

susceptible to the influence of human thought. The action of

the mere casual wandering thought upon it, causing it to

burst into a cloud of rapidly-moving, evanescent forms, has

already been described; we have now to note how it is

affected when the human mind formulates a definite,

purposeful thought or wish.

The effect produced is of the most striking nature. The

thought seizes upon the plastic essence, and moulds it

instantly into a living being of appropriate form—a being

which when once thus created is in no way under the control

of its creator, but lives out a life of its own, the length of

which is proportionate to the intensity of the thought or wish

which called it into existence. It lasts, in fact, just as long as

the thought-force holds it together. Most people's thoughts

are so fleeting and indecisive that the elementals created by

them last only a few minutes or a few hours, but an often-repeated

thought or an earnest wish will form an elemental

whose existence may extend to many days.

Since the ordinary man's thoughts refer very largely to

himself, the elementals which they form remain hovering

about him, and constantly tend to provoke a repetition of the

idea which they represent, since such repetitions, instead of

forming new elementals, would strengthen the old one, and

give it a fresh lease of life. A mail, therefore, who frequently

dwells upon one wish often forms for himself an astral

attendant which, constantly fed by fresh thought, may haunt.him.89

for years, ever gaining more and more strength and influence

over him; and it will easily be seen that if the desire be an evil

one the effect upon his moral nature may be of the most

disastrous character.

Still more pregnant of result for good or evil are a man's

thoughts about other people, for in that case they hover not

about the thinker, but about the object of the thought. A

kindly thought about any person, or an earnest wish for his

good, will form and project towards him a friendly, artificial

elemental. If the wish be a definite one, as, for example, that

he may recover from some sickness, then the elemental will

be a force ever hovering over him to promote his recovery or

to ward off any influence that might tend to hinder it. In

doing this it will display what appears like a very

considerable amount of intelligence and adaptability, though

really it is simply a force acting along the line of least

resistance—pressing steadily in one direction all the time,

and taking advantage of any channel that it can find, just as

the water in a cistern would in a moment find the one open

pipe among a dozen closed ones, and proceed to empty itself

through that.

If the wish be merely all indefinite one for his general

good, the elemental essence in its wonderful plasticity will

respond exactly to that less distinct idea also, and the creature

formed will expend its force in the direction of whatever

action for the man's advantage comes most readily to hand.

In all cases the amount of such force which it has to expend,

and the length of time that it will live to expend it, depend

entirely upon the strength of the original wish or thought

which gave it birth; though it must be remembered that it can

be, as it were, fed and strengthened, and its life-period

protracted by other.90

good wishes or friendly thoughts projected in the same


Furthermore, it appears to be actuated, like most other

beings, by an instinctive desire to prolong its life, and thus

reacts on its creator as a force constantly tending to provoke

the renewal of the feeling which called it into existence. It

also influences in a similar manner others with whom it

comes into contact, though its rapport with them is naturally

not so perfect.

All that has been said as to the effect of good wishes and

friendly thoughts is also true in the opposite direction of evil

wishes and angry thoughts; and considering the amount of

envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness that exists in the

world, it will be readily understood that among the artificial

elementals many terrible creatures are to be seen. A man

whose thoughts or desires are spiteful, brutal, sensual,

avaricious, moves through the world carrying with him

everywhere a pestiferous atmosphere of his own, peopled

with the loathsome beings which he has created to be his

companions. Thus he is not only in sadly evil case himself,

but is a dangerous nuisance to his fellow-man, subjecting all

who have the misfortune to come into contact with him to the

risk of moral contagion from the influence of the

abominations with which he chooses to surround himself.

A feeling of envious or jealous hatred towards another

person will send an evil elemental to hover over him and seek

for a weak point through which it can operate; and if the

feeling be a persistent one, such a creature may be

continually nourished by it and thereby enabled to protract

its undesirable activity for a very long period. It can, however,

produce no effect upon the person towards whom it is.directed unless he has himself some tendency which.91

it can foster—some fulcrum for its lever, as it were. From the

aura of a man of pure thought and good life all such

influences at once rebound, finding nothing upon which they

can fasten, and in that case, by a very curious law, they react

in all their force upon their original creator. In him by the

hypothesis they find a very congenial sphere of action, and

thus the karma of his evil wish works itself out at once by

means of the very entity which he himself has called into


It occasionally happens, however, that an artificial

elemental of this description is for various reasons unable to

expend its force either upon its object or its creator, and in

such cases it becomes a kind of wandering demon, readily

attracted by any person who indulges feelings similar to that

which gave it birth, and equally prepared either to stimulate

such feelings in him for the sake of the strength it may gain

from them, or to pour out its store of evil influence upon him

through any opening which he may offer it. If it is

sufficiently powerful to seize upon and inhabit some passing

shell it frequently does so, as the possession of such a

temporary home enables it to husband its dreadful resources

more carefully in this form it may manifest through a

medium, and by masquerading as some well-known friend

may sometimes obtain an influence over people upon whom

it would otherwise have little hold.

What has been written above will serve to enforce the

statement already made as to the importance of maintaining a

strict control over our thoughts. Many a well-meaning man,

who is scrupulously careful to do his duty towards his

neighbour in word and deed, is apt to consider that his

thoughts at least are nobody's business but his own, and so.92

lets them run riot in various directions, utterly unconscious

of the swarms of baleful creatures which he is launching

upon the world.

To such a man an accurate comprehension of the effect of

thought and desire in producing artificial elementals would

come as a horrifying revelation; on the other hand, it would

be the greatest consolation to many devoted and grateful

souls who are oppressed with the feeling that they are unable

to do anything in return for the kindness lavished upon them

by their benefactors. For friendly thoughts and earnest good

wishes are as easily and as effectually formulated by the

poorest as by the richest, and it is within the power of almost

any man, if he will take the trouble, to maintain what is

practically a good angel always at the side of the brother or

sister, the friend or the child, whom he loves best, no matter

in what part of the world he may be.

Many a time a mother's loving thoughts and prayers have

formed themselves into an angel guardian for the child, and

except in the almost impossible case that the child had in him

no instinct responsive to a good influence, have undoubtedly

given him assistance and protection. Such guardians may

often be seen by clairvoyant vision, and there have even been

cases in which one of them has had sufficient strength to

materialize and become for the moment visible to physical


A curious fact which deserves mention here is that even

after the passage of the mother into the heaven-world the love

which she pours out upon the children whom she imagines

as surrounding her, will react upon those children though

they are still living in this world, and will often support the

guardian elemental which she created while on earth, until her.dear ones themselves pass away in turn..93

As Madame Blavatsky remarks, "her love will always be

felt by the children in the flesh; it will manifest in their

dreams and often in various events, in providential

protections and escapes for love is a strong shield, and is not

limited by space or time" (Key to Theosophy, 1). 150). All

the stories of the intervention of guardian angels must not,

however, be attributed to the action of artificial elementals, for

in many cases such "angels" have been the souls of either

living or recently departed human beings, and they have also

occasionally, though rarely, been devas. (See Invisible

Helpers, 1). 24).

This power of all earnest desire, especially if frequently

repeated, to create all active elemental which ever presses

forcefully in the direction of its own fulfilment, is the

scientific explanation of what devout but unphilosophical

people describe as answers to prayer. There are occasions,

though at present these are rare, when the karma of the

person so praying is such as to permit of assistance being

directly rendered to him by an Adept or his pupil, and there

is also the still rarer possibility of the intervention of a deva

or some friendly nature-spirit; but in all these cases the

easiest and most obvious form for such assistance to take

would be the strengthening and the intelligent direction of the

elemental already formed by the wish.

A very curious and instructive instance of the extreme

persistence of these artificial elementals under favourable

circumstances came under the notice of one of our

investigators quite recently. All readers of the literature of

such subjects are aware that many of our ancient families are

supposed to have associated with them a traditional death-warning—

a phenomenon of one kind or another which

foretells, usually some days beforehand, the approaching.decease.94

of the head of the house. A picturesque example of this is the

well-known story of the white bird of the Oxenhams, whose

appearance has ever since the time of Queen Elizabeth been

recognised as a sure presage of the death of some member of

the family; while another is the spectral coach which is

reported to drive up to the door of a certain castle in the north

when a similar calamity is impending.

A phenomenon of this order occurs in connection with

the family of one of our members, but it is of a much

commoner and less striking type than either of the above,

consisting only of a solemn and impressive strain of dirge-like

music, which is heard apparently floating in the air three

days before the death takes place. Our member, having

himself twice heard this mystic sound, finding its warning in

both cases quite accurate, and knowing also that according to

family tradition the same thing had been happening for

several centuries, set himself to seek by occult methods for

the cause underlying so strange a phenomenon.

The result was unexpected but interesting. It appeared that

somewhere in the twelfth century the head of the family went

to the crusades, like many another valiant man, and took with

him to win his spurs in the sacred cause his youngest and

favourite son, a promising youth whose success in life was

the dearest wish of his father's heart. Unhappily, however, the

young man was killed in battle, and the father was plunged

into the depths of despair, lamenting not only the loss of his

son, but still more the fact that he was cut off so suddenly in

the full flush of careless and not altogether blameless youth.

So poignant, indeed, were the old man's feelings that he

cast off his knightly armour and joined one of the great

monastic orders, vowing to devote all the remainder of.95

his life to prayer, first for the soul of his son, and secondly

that henceforward no descendant of his might ever again

encounter what seemed to his simple and pious mind the

terrible danger of meeting death unprepared. Day after day

for many a year he poured all the energy of his soul into the

channel of that one intense wish, firmly believing that

somehow or other the result he so earnestly desired would be

brought about.

A student of occultism will have little difficulty in

deciding what would be the effect of such a definite and

long-continued stream of thought; our knightly monk created

an artificial elemental of immense power and resourcefulness

for its own particular object, and accumulated within it a store

of force which would enable it to carry out his wishes for an

indefinite period. An elemental is a perfect storage-battery—

one from which there is practically no leakage; and when we

remember what its original strength must have been, and how

comparatively rarely it would be called upon to put it forth,

we shall scarcely wonder that even now it exhibits

unimpaired vitality, and still warns the direct descendants of

the old crusader of their approaching doom by repeating in

their cars the strange walling music which was the dirge of a

young and valiant soldier seven hundred years ago in


2. Elementals formed consciously. Since such results as

have been described above have been achieved by the

thought-force of men who were entirely in the dark as to

what they were doing, it will readily be imagined that a

magician who understands the subject, and can see exactly

what effect he is producing, may wield immense power along

these lines. As a matter of fact occultists of both the.96

white and dark schools frequently use artificial elementals in

their work, and few tasks are beyond the powers of such

creatures when scientifically prepared and directed with

knowledge and skill for one who knows how to do so can

maintain a connection with his elemental and guide it, no

matter at what distance it may be working, so that it will

practically act as though endowed with the full intelligence of

its master.

Very definite and very efficient guardian angels have

sometimes been supplied in this way, though it is probably

very rarely that karma permits such a decided interference in

a person's life as that would be. In such a case, however, as

that of a pupil of the Adepts, who might have in the course of

his work for them to run the risk of attack from forces with

which his unaided strength would be entirely insufficient to

cope, guardians of this description have been given, and have

fully proved their sleepless vigilance and their tremendous


By some of the more advanced processes of black magic,

also, artificial elementals of great power may be called into

existence, and much evil has been worked in various ways by

such entities. But it is true of them, as of the previous class,

that if they are aimed at a person whom by reason of his

purity of character they are unable to influence they react

with terrible force upon their creator; so that the mediaeval

story of the magician being torn to pieces by the fiends he

himself had raised is no mere fable, but may well have an

awful foundation in fact.

Such creatures occasionally, for various reasons, escape

from the control of those who are trying to make use of

them, and become wandering and aimless demons, as do.some of those mentioned under the previous heading under.97

similar circumstances; but those that we are considering,

having much more intelligence and power, and a much longer

existence, are proportionately more dangerous. They

invariably seek for means of prolonging their life either by

feeding like vampires upon the vitality of human beings, or

by influencing them to make offerings to them and among

simple half-savage tribes they have frequently succeeded by

judicious management in getting themselves recognized as

village or family gods.

Any deity which demands sacrifices involving the

shedding of blood may always be set down as belonging to

the lowest and most loathsome class of this order other less

objectionable types are sometimes content with offerings of

rice and cooked food of various kinds. There are parts of

India where both these varieties may be found flourishing

even at the present day, and in Africa they are probably

comparatively numerous.

By means of whatever nourishment they can obtain from

the offerings, and still more by the vitality they draw from

their devotees, they may continue to prolong their existence

for many years, or even centuries, retaining sufficient

strength to perform occasional phenomena of a mild type in

order to stimulate the faith and zeal of their followers, and

invariably making themselves unpleasant in some way or

other if the accustomed sacrifices are neglected. For example,

it was asserted recently that in one Indian village the

inhabitants had found that whenever for any reason the local

deity did not get his or her regular meals, spontaneous fires

began to break out with alarming frequency among the

cottages, sometimes three or four simultaneously, in cases

where they declared it was impossible to suspect human

agency; and other stories of a more.98

or less similar nature wilt no doubt recur to the memory of

any reader who knows something of the out-of-the-way

corners of that most wonderful of all countries.

The art of manufacturing artificial elementals of extreme

virulence and power seems to have been one of the

specialties of the magicians of Atlantis—"the lords of the

dark face." One example of their capabilities in this line is

given in The Secret Doctrine (vol. ii., p. 427), where we read

of the wonderful speaking animals who had to be quieted by

an offering of blood, lest they should awaken their masters

and warn them of the impending destruction. But apart from

these strange beasts they created other artificial entities of

power and energy so tremendous, that it is darkly hinted that

some of them have kept themselves in existence even to this

day, though it is more than eleven thousand years since the

cataclysm which overwhelmed their original masters. The

terrible Indian goddess whose devotees were impelled to

commit in her name the awful crimes of Thuggee—the

ghastly Kali, worshipped even to this day with rites too

abominable to be described—might well be a relic of a

system which had to be swept away even at the cost of the

submergence of a continent, and the loss of sixty-five million

human lives.

3. Human Artificials. We have now to consider a class of

entities which, though it contains but very few individuals,

has acquired from its intimate connection with one of the

great movements of modern times an importance entirely out

of proportion to its numbers. It seems doubtful whether it

should appear under the first or third of our main divisions;

but, though certainly human, it is so far removed from the

course of ordinary evolution, so entirely the product of a will

outside of its own, that.99

it perhaps falls most naturally into place among the artificial


The easiest way of describing it will be to commence with

its history, and to do that we must once more look back to

the great Atlantean race. In thinking of the Adepts and

schools of occultism of that remarkable people our minds

instinctively revert to the evil practices of which we hear so

much in connection with their latter days; but we must not

forget that before that age of selfishness and degradation the

mighty civilization of Atlantis had brought forth much that

was noble and worthy of admiration, and that among its

leaders were some who now stand upon the loftiest pinnacles

as yet attained by man.

Among the lodges for occult study preliminary to

initiation formed by the Adepts of the good Law was one in a

certain part of America which was then tributary to one of the

great Atlantean monarchs—"the Divine Rulers of the Golden

Gate"; and though it has passed through many and strange

vicissitudes, though it has had to move its headquarters from

country to country as each in turn was invaded by the jarring

elements of a later civilization, that lodge still exists even at

the present day observing still the same old-world ritual even

teaching as a sacred and hidden language the same Atlantean

tongue which was used at its foundation so many thousands

of years ago.

It still remains what it was from the first a lodge of

occultists of pure and philanthropic aims, which can lead

those students whom it finds worthy no inconsiderable

distance on the road to knowledge, and confers such psychic

powers as are in its gift only after the most searching tests as

to the fitness of the candidate. Its teachers do.100

not stand upon the Adept level, yet hundreds have learnt

through it how to set their feet upon the path which has led

them to Adeptship in later lives; and though it is not directly

a part of the Brotherhood of the Himalayas, there are some

among the latter who have themselves been connected with it

in former incarnations, and therefore retain a more than

ordinarily friendly interest in its proceedings.

The chiefs of this lodge, though they have always kept

themselves and their society strictly in the background, have

nevertheless done what they could from time to time to assist

the progress of truth in the world. Some half-century ago, in

despair at the rampant materialism which seemed to be

stifling all spirituality in Europe and America they

determined to make an attempt to combat it by somewhat

novel methods—in point of fact to offer opportunities by

which any reasonable man could acquire absolute proof of

that life apart from the physical body which it was the

tendency of science to deny. The phenomena exhibited were

not in themselves absolutely new, since in some form or

other we may hear of them all through history; but their

definite organization—their production as it were to order—

these were features distinctly new to the modern world.

The movement which they thus on foot gradually grew

into the vast fabric of modern Spiritualism, and though it

would perhaps be unfair to hold the originators of the

scheme directly responsible for many of the results which

have followed, we must admit that they have achieved their

purpose to the extent of converting vast numbers of people

from a belief in nothing in particular to a firm faith in at any

rate some kind of future life. This is undoubtedly.101

a magnificent result, though there are those who think that it

has been attained at too great a cost.

The method adopted was to take some ordinary person

after death, arouse him thoroughly upon the astral plane,

instruct him to a certain extent in the powers and possibilities

belonging to it, and then put him in charge of a Spiritualistic

circle. He in his turn "developed other departed personalities

along the same line, they all acted upon those who sat at their

seances, and "developed" them as mediums; and so

spiritualism grew and flourished. No doubt living members

of the original lodge occasionally manifested themselves in

astral form at some of the circles—perhaps they may do so

even now; but in most cases they simply gave such direction

and guidance as they considered necessary to the persons

they had put in charge. There is little doubt that the

movement increased so much more rapidly than they had

expected that it soon got quite beyond their control, so that,

as has been said, for many of the later developments they can

only be held indirectly responsible.

Of course the intensification of the astral-plane life in

those persons who were thus put in charge of circles

distinctly delayed their natural progress; and though the idea

had been that anything lost in this way would be fully atoned

for by the good karma gained by helping to lead others to the

truth, it was soon found that it was impossible to make use of

a "spirit-guide" for any length of time without doing him

cases such "guides" serious and permanent injury. In some

cases such "guides" were therefore withdrawn, and others

substituted for them in others it was considered for various

reasons undesirable make such a change, and then a very

remarkable expedient was adopted which gave rise to the

curious class of creatures have called "human artificials.".102

The higher principles of the original "guide" were allowed

to pass on their long-delayed evolution into the heaven-world,

but the shade which he left behind him was taken

possession of, sustained, and operated upon so that it might

appear to its admiring circle practically just as before. This

seems at first to have been done by members of the lodge

themselves, but apparently that arrangement was found

irksome or unsuitable, or perhaps was considered a waste of

force, and the same objection applied to the use for this

purpose of an artificial elemental; so it was eventually

decided that the departed person who would have been

appointed to succeed the late "spirit-guide" should still do so,

but should take possession of the latter's shade or shell, and

in fact simply wear his appearance.

It is said that some members of the lodge objected to this

on the ground that though the purpose might be entirely

good a certain amount of deception was involved; but the

general opinion seems to have been that as the shade really

was the same, and contained something at any rate of the

original lower mind, there was nothing that could be called

deception in the matter. This, then, was the genesis of the

human artificial entity, and it is understood that in some

cases more than one such change has been made without

arousing suspicion, though on the other hand some

investigators of spiritualism have remarked on the fact that

after a considerable lapse of time certain differences

suddenly became observable in the manner and disposition

of a "spirit." It is needless to say that none of the Adept

Brotherhood has ever undertaken the formation of an

artificial entity of this sort, though they not interfere with any

one who thought it right to take such a course. A weak point

in the arrangement is.103

that many others besides the original lodge may adopt this

plan, and there is nothing whatever to prevent black

magicians from supplying communicating "spirits"—as,

indeed, they have been known to do.

With this class we conclude our survey of the inhabitants

of the astral plane. With the reservations specially made

some few pages back, the catalogue may be taken as a fairly

complete one; but it must once more be emphasized that this

treatise claims only to sketch the merest outline of a very vast

subject, the detailed elaboration of which would need a

lifetime of study and hard work..PHENOMENA.

THOUGH in the course of this paper various, super-physical

phenomena have been mentioned and to some

extent explained, it will perhaps before concluding be

desirable so far to recapitulate as to give a list of those which

are most frequently met with by the student of these subjects,

and to show by which of the agencies we have attempted to

describe they are usually caused. The resources of the astral

world, however, are so varied that almost any phenomenon

with which we are acquainted can be produced in several

different ways, so that it is only possible to lay down general

rules in the matter.

Apparitions or ghosts furnish a very good instance of the

remark just made, for in the loose manner in which the words

are ordinarily used they may stand for almost any inhabitant

of the astral plane. Of course psychically developed people

are constantly seeing such things, but for an ordinary person

to "see a ghost," as the common expression runs, one of two

things must happen: either that ghost must materialize, or that

person must have a temporary flash of psychic perception.

But for the fact that neither of these events is a common one,

ghosts would be met with in our streets as frequently as

living people.

Churchyard Ghosts. If the ghost is seen hovering about

a grave it is probably the etheric shell of a newly-buried

person, though it may be


the astral body of a living man haunting in sleep the tomb of

a friend; or again, it may be a materialized thought-form—

that is, an artificial elemental created by the energy with

which a man thinks of himself as present at that particular

spot. These varieties would be easily distinguishable one

from the other by any one accustomed to use astral vision,

but an unpractised person would be quite likely to call them

vaguely "ghosts."

Apparitions of the Dying. Apparitions at the time of

death are by no means uncommon, and are very often really

visits paid by the astral form of the dying man just before

what we elect to call the moment of dissolution; though here

again they are quite likely to be thought-forms called into

being by his earnest wish to see some friend once more

before he passes into an unfamiliar condition. There are

some instances in which the visit is paid just after the

moment of death instead of just before, and in such a case

the visitor is really a ghost; but for various causes this form

of apparition is far less frequent than the other.

Haunted Localities. Apparitions at the spot where some

crime was committed are usually thought-forms projected by

the criminal, who, whether living or dead, but most especially

when dead, is perpetually thinking over again and again the

circumstances of his action. Since these thoughts are

naturally specially vivid in his mind on the anniversary of the

original crime, it is often only on that occasion that the

artificial elementals which he creates are strong enough to

materialize themselves to ordinary sight a fact which account,

for the periodicity of some manifestations of this class..106

Another point in reference to such phenomena is, that

wherever any tremendous mental disturbance has taken place,

wherever overwhelming terror, pain, sorrow, hatred, or indeed

any kind of intense passion has been felt, an impression of

so very marked a character has been made upon the astral

light that a person with even the faintest glimmer of psychic

faculty cannot but be deeply impressed by it. It would need

but a slight temporary increase of sensibility to enable him to

visualize the entire scene—to see the event in all its detail

apparently taking place before his eyes—and in such a case

he would of course report that the place was haunted, and

that he had seen a ghost.

Indeed, people who are as yet unable to see psychically

under any circumstances are frequently very unpleasantly

impressed when visiting such places as we have mentioned.

There are many, for example, who feel uncomfortable when

passing the site of Tyburn Tree, or cannot stay in the

Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's though they may

not be in the least aware that their discomfort is due to the

dreadful impressions in the astral light which surround

places and objects redolent of horror and crime, and to the

presence of the loathsome astral entities which always swarm

about such centres.

Family Ghosts. The family ghost, whom we generally

find in the stock stories of the supernatural as an appanage of

the feudal castle, may be either a thought-form or an

unusually vivid impression in the astral light, or again he may

really be an earth-bound ancestor still haunting the scenes in

which his thoughts and hopes centred during life..107

Bell-ringing, Stone-throwing, &c. Another class of

hauntings which take the form of bell-ringing, stone-throwing,

or the breaking of crockery, has already been

referred to, and is almost invariably the work of elemental

forces, either set blindly in motion by the clumsy efforts of

an ignorant person trying to attract the attention of is

surviving friends, or intentionally employed by some

childishly mischievous nature-spirit.

Fairies. The nature-spirits are also responsible for

whatever of truth there may be in all the strange fairy stories

which are so common in certain parts of the country.

Sometimes a temporary accession of clairvoyance, which is

by no means uncommon among the inhabitants of lonely

mountainous regions, enables some belated wayfarer to

watch their joyous gambols; sometimes strange tricks are

played upon some terrified victim, and a glamour is cast over

him, making him, for example, see houses and people where

he knows none really exist. And this is frequently no mere

momentary delusion, for a man will sometimes go through

quite a long series of imaginary but most striking adventures,

and then suddenly find that all his brilliant surroundings

have vanished in a moment, leaving him standing in some

lonely valley or on some wind-swept plain. On the other

hand, it is by no means safe to accept as founded on fact all

the popular legends on the subject, for the grossest

superstition is often mingled with the theories of the

peasantry about these beings, as was shown by a recent

terrible murder case in Ireland.

To the same entities must he attributed a large portion of

what are called physical phenomena at spiritualistic

seances—indeed, many a seance has been given entirely by

these mischievous creatures. Such a performance might.easily include many very striking items, such as the

answering of questions and delivery of pretended messages.108

by raps or tilts, the exhibition of "spirit lights," the apport of

objects from a distance, the reading of thoughts which were

in the mind of any person present, the precipitation of

writings or drawings, an and even materializations.

In fact, the nature-spirits alone, if any of them happened to

he disposed to take the trouble, could give a seance equal to

the most wonderful of which we read; for though there may

be certain phenomena which they would not find it easy to

reproduce, their marvellous power of glamour would enable

them without difficulty to persuade the entire circle that these

phenomena also had duly occurred—unless, indeed, there

were present a trained observer who understood their arts

and knew how to defeat them. As a general rule, whenever

silly tricks or practical jokes are played at a seance we may

infer the presence either of low-class nature-spirits, or of

human beings who were of a sufficiently degraded type to

find pleasure in such idiotic performances during life.

Communicating Entities. As to the entities who may

"communicate" at a seance, or may obsess and speak

through an entranced medium, their name is simply legion;

there is hardly a single class among all the varied inhabitants

of the astral plane from whose ranks they may not be drawn,

though after the explanations given it will be readily

understood that the chances are very much against their

coming from a high one. A manifesting "spirit" is often

exactly what it professes to be, but often also it is nothing of

the kind; and for the ordinary sitter there is absolutely no

means of distinguishing the true from the false, since the

extent to which a being having all the resources of the astral

plane at his command can delude a person on the physical

plant is so great that no reliance.109

can be placed even on what seems the most convincing


If something manifests which announces itself as a man's

long-lost brother, he can have no certainty that its claim is a

just one. If it tells him of some fact known only to that

brother and to himself, he remains unconvinced, for he

knows that it might easily have read the information from his

own mind, or from his surroundings in the astral light. Even

if it goes still further and tells him something connected with

his brother, of which he himself is unaware, but which he

afterwards verifies, he still realizes that even this may have

been read from the astral record, or that what he sees before

him may be only the shade of his brother, and so possess his

memory without in any way being himself. It is not for one

moment denied that important communications have

sometimes been made at seances by entities who in such

cases have been precisely what they said they were; all that is

claimed is that it is quite impossible for the ordinary person

who visits a seance ever to be certain that he is not being

cruelly deceived in one or other of half a dozen different


There have been a few cases in which members of the

lodge of occultists referred to above is originating the

spiritualistic movement have themselves given through a

medium, a series of valuable teachings on deeply inter sting

subjects, but this has invariably been at strictly private family

seances, not at public performances for which money has

been paid.

Astral Resources. To understand the method, by which

a large class of physical phenomena are produced, it is

necessary to have some comprehension of the various.resources mentioned above, Much a.110

person functioning on the astral plane finds at his command;

and this is a branch of the subject which it is by no means

easy to make clear, especially as it is hedged about with

certain obviously necessary restrictions. It may perhaps help

us if we remember that the astral plane may be regarded as in

many ways only an extension of the physical, and the idea

that matter may assume the etheric state (in which, though

intangible to us, it is yet purely physical) may serve to show

us how the one melts into the other. In fact, in the Hindu

conception of Jagrat, or "the waking state," the physical and

astral planes are combined, its seven subdivisions

corresponding to the four conditions of physical matter, and

the three broad division,; of astral matter which have

previously been explained.

With this thought in our minds it is easy to move a step

further, and grasp the idea that astral vision, or rather astral

perception, may from one point of view be defined as the

capability of receiving an enormously increased number of

different sets of vibrations. In our physical bodies one set of

slow vibrations is perceptible to us as sound, another small

set of much more rapid vibrations affects us as light; and

again another set as electric action; but there are immense

numbers of intermediate vibrations which produce no result

which our physical senses can cognize at all.

Now it will readily be seen that if all, or even some only,

of these intermediates, with all the complications producible

by differences of wave-length, are perceptible on the astral

plane, our comprehension of nature might be very greatly

increased on that level, and we might be able to acquire much

information which is now hidden from us.

Clairvoyance. It is admitted that some of these vibra-.tions pass.111

through solid matter with perfect ease, so that this enables us

to account scientifically for the peculiarities of etheric vision,

though for astral sight the theory of the fourth dimension

gives a neater and more complete explanation. It is clear that

the mere possession of this astral vision by a being would at

once account for his capability to produce many results that

seem very wonderful to us such, for example, as the reading

of a passage from a closed book; and when we remember,

furthermore, that this faculty includes the power of thought-reading

to the fullest extent, and also, when combined with

the knowledge of the projection of currents in the astral light,

that of observing a desired object in almost any part of the

world, we set that a good many of the phenomena of

clairvoyance are explicable even without rising above this

level. I would refer any one who desires to study more

closely this very interesting subject to my little book on

Clairvoyance, in which its varieties are tabulated and

explained, and numerous examples given.

Prevision and Second-Sight. True, trained, and

absolutely reliable clairvoyance calls into operation an

entirely different set of faculties, but as these belong to a

higher plane than the astral, they form no part of our present

subject. The faculty of accurate prevision, again, appertains

altogether to that higher plane, yet flashes or reflections of it

frequently show themselves to purely astral sight, more

especially among simple-minded people who live under

suitable conditions—what is called "second-sight" among

the Highlanders of Scotland being a well-known example.

Another fact which must not be forgotten is that any

intelligent inhabitant of the astral plane is not only able to.112

perceive these etheric vibrations, but can also—if he has

learnt how it is done—adapt them to his own ends, or

himself set them in motion.

Astral Force. It will be readily understood that super-physical

forces and the methods of managing them are not

subjects about which much can be written for publication at

present, though there is reason to suppose that it may not be

very long before at any rate some applications of one or two

of them come to he known to the world at large; but it may

perhaps be possible, without transgressing the limits of the

permissible, to give so much of an idea of them as shall be

sufficient to show in outline how certain phenomena are


All who have much experience of spiritualistic seances at

which physical results are produced must at one time or

another have seen evidence of the employment of practically

resistless force in, for example, the instantaneous movement

of enormous weights, and so on; and if of a scientific turn of

mind, they may perhaps have wondered whence this force

was obtained, and what was the leverage employed. As usual

in connection with astral phenomena, there are several ways

in which such work may have been done, but it will be

enough for the moment to hint at four.

Etheric Currents. First, there are great etheric currents

constantly sweeping over the surface of the earth from pole

to pole in volume which makes their power as irresistible as

that of the rising tide, and there are methods by which this

stupendous force may be safely utilized, though unskilful

attempts to control it would be fraught with frightful danger.

Etheric Pressure. Secondly, there is what can best be.described as an etheric pressure, somewhat corresponding to,


immensely greater than, the atmospheric pressure. In

ordinary life we are as little conscious of one of these

pressures as we are of the other, but nevertheless they both

exist, and if science were able to exhaust the ether from a

given space, as it can exhaust the air, the one could be proved

as readily as the other. The difficulty of doing that lies in the

fact that matter in the etheric condition freely interpenetrates

matter in all slates below it, so that there is as yet no means

within the knowledge of our physicists by which any given

body of ether can be isolated from the rest. Practical

Occultism, however, teaches how this can be done, and thus

the tremendous force of etheric pressure can be brought into


Latent Energy. Thirdly, there is a vast store of potential

energy which has become dormant in matter during the

involution of the subtle into the gross, and by changing the

condition of the matter some of this may be liberated and

utilized, somewhat as latent energy in the form of heat may

be liberated by a change in the condition of visible matter.

Sympathetic Vibration. Fourthly, many striking

results, both great and small, may be produced by an

extension of a principle which may be described as that of

sympathetic vibration. Illustrations taken from the physical

plane seem generally to misrepresent rather than elucidate

astral phenomena, because they can never be more than

partially applicable; but the recollection of two simple facts

of ordinary life may help to make this important branch of

our subject clearer, if we are careful not to push the analogy

further than it will hold good..114

It is well known that if one of the wires of a harp be made

to vibrate vigorously, its movement will call forth sympathetic

vibrations in the corresponding strings of any number of

harps placed round it, if they are tuned to exactly the same

pitch. It is also well known that when a large body of

soldiers crosses a suspension bridge it is necessary for them

to break step, since the perfect regularity of their ordinary

march would set up a vibration in the bridge which would be

intensified by every step they took, until the point of

resistance of the iron was passed, when the whole structure

would fly to pieces.

With these two analogies in our minds (never forgetting

that they are only partial ones) it may seem more

comprehensible that one who knows exactly at what rate to

start his vibrations knows, so to speak, the keynote of the

class of matter he wishes to affect should be able, by

sounding that keynote, to call forth an immense number of

sympathetic vibrations. When this is done on the physical

plane no additional energy is developed; but on the astral

plane there is this difference, that the matter with which we

are dealing is far less inert, and so when called into action by

these sympathetic vibrations it adds its own living force to

the original impulse, which may thus be multiplied many-fold;

and then by further rhythmic repetition of the original

impulse, as in the case of the soldiers marching over the

bridge, the vibrations may be so intensified that the result is

out of all apparent proportion to the cause. Indeed, it may be

said that there is scarcely any limit to the conceivable

achievements of this force in the hands of a great Adept who

fully comprehends its possibilities; for the very building of

the Universe itself was but the result of the vibrations set up

by the Spoken Word..115

Mantras. The class of mantras or spells which produce

their result not by controlling some elemental, but merely by

the repetition of certain sounds, also depend for their efficacy

upon this action of sympathetic vibration.

Disintegration. The phenomenon of disintegration also

may be brought about by the action of extremely rapid

vibrations, which overcome the cohesion of the molecules of

the object operated upon. A still higher rate of vibrations of a

somewhat different type will separate these molecules into

their constituent atoms. A body reduced by these means to

the etheric condition can be moved by an astral current from

one place to another with very great rapidity; and the moment

that the force which has been exerted to put it into that

condition is withdrawn it will be forced by the etheric

pressure to resume its original condition.

Students often at first find it difficult to understand how

in such au experiment the shape of the article dealt with can

be preserved. It has been remarked that if any metallic

object—say, for example, a key—be melted and raised to a

vaporous state by heat, when the heat is withdrawn it will

certainly return to the solid state, but it will no longer be a

key, but merely a lump of metal. The point is well taken,

though as a matter of fact the apparent analogy does not hold

good. The elemental essence which informs the key would

be dissipated by the alteration in its condition—not that the

essence itself can be affected by the action of beat, but that

when its temporary body is destroyed (as a solid) it pours

back into the great reservoir of such essence, much as the

higher principles of a man, though entirely unaffected by

heat or cold,.116

are yet forced out of a physical body when it is destroyed by


Consequently, when what had been the key cooled down

into the solid condition again, the elemental essence (of the

"earth" or solid class) which poured back into it would not

be in any way the same as that which it contained before, and

there would be no reason why the same shape should be

retained. But a man who disintegrated a key for the purpose

of removing it by astral currents from one place to another,

would be very careful to hold the same elemental essence in

exactly the same shape until the transfer was completed, and

then when his will-force was removed it would act as a

mould into which the solidifying particles would flow, or

rather round which they would be re-aggregated. Thus

unless the operator's power of concentration failed, the shape

would be accurately preserved.

It is in this way that objects are sometimes brought almost

instantaneously from great distances at spiritualistic seances,

and it is obvious that when disintegrated they could be

passed with perfect ease through any solid substance, such,

for example, as the wall of a house or the side of a locked

box, so that what is commonly called "the passage of matter

through matter" is seen, when properly understood, to be as

simple as the passage of water through a eve, or of a gas

through a liquid in some chemical experiment.

Materialization. Since it is possible by an alteration of

vibrations to change matter from the solid to the etheric

condition, it will be comprehended that it is also possible to

reverse the process and to bring etheric, matter into the solid

state. As the one process explains the phenomenon of


so does the other that of materialization; and just as in the

former case a continued effort of will is necessary to prevent

the object from resuming its original state, so in exactly the

same way in the latter phenomenon a continued effort is

necessary to prevent the materialized matter from relapsing

into the etheric condition.

In the materializations seen at an ordinary seance, such

matter as may be required is borrowed as far as possible

from the medium's etheric double—an operation which is

prejudicial to his health, and also undesirable in various other

ways. Thus is explained the fact that the materialized form is

usually strictly confined to the immediate neighbourhood of

the medium, and is subject to an attraction which is

constantly drawing it back to the body from which it came,

so that if kept away from the medium too long the figure

collapses, and the matter which composed it, return into the

etheric condition, rushes back instantly to its source.

In some cases there is no doubt that dense and visible

physical matter also is temporarily removed from the body of

the medium, however difficult it may be for us to realize the

possibility of such a transfer. I have myself seen instances in

which this phenomenon undoubtedly took place, and was

evidenced by a very considerable loss of weight in the

medium's physical body. Similar cases are described in

Colonel Olcott's People from the Other Worlds, and in Un

Cas de Dematerialisation, by M. A. Aksakow.

Why Darkness is Required. The reason why the beings

directing a seance find it easier to operate in darkness or in

very subdued light will now be manifest, since their power

would usually be insufficient to.118

hold together a materialized form or even a "spirit hand" for

more than a very few seconds amidst the intense vibrations

set up by brilliant light.

The habitues of seances will no doubt have noticed that

materializations are of three kinds:—First, those which are

tangible but not visible; second, those which are visible but

not tangible; and third, those which are both visible and

tangible. To the first kind, which is much the most common,

belong the invisible spirit hands which so frequently stroke

the faces of the sitters or carry small objects about the room,

and the vocal organs from which the "direct voice" proceeds.

In this case, an order of matter is being used which can

neither reflect nor obstruct light, but which is capable under

certain conditions of setting up vibrations in the atmosphere

which affect us as sound.

Spirit Photographs. A variation of this class is that kind

of partial materialization which, though incapable of

reflecting any light that we can see, is yet able to affect some

of the ultra-violet rays, and can therefore make a more or less

definite impression upon the camera, and so provide us with

what are known as "spirit photographs."

When there is not sufficient power available to produce a

perfect materialization we sometimes get the vaporous-looking

form which constitutes our second class, and in such

a case the "spirits" usually warn their sitters that the forms

which appear must not be touched. In the rarer case of a full

materialization there is sufficient power to hold together, at

least for a few moments, a form which can be both seen and


When an Adept or pupil finds it necessary for any.purpose to materialize his mental or astral vehicle, he does

not draw upon either his own etheric double or any one.119

else since he has been taught how to extract the matter which

he requires directly from the surrounding ether.

Reduplication. Another phenomenon closely connected

with this part of the subject is that of reduplication, which is

produced by simply forming a perfect mental image of the

object to be copied, and then gathering about that mould the

necessary astral and physical matter. Of course for this

purpose it is necessary that every particle, interior as well as

exterior, of the object to be duplicated should be held

accurately in view simultaneously, and consequently the

phenomenon is one which requires considerable power of

concentration to perform. Persons unable to extract the

matter required directly from the surrounding ether have

sometimes borrowed it from the material of the original

article, which in this case would be correspondingly reduced

in weight.

Precipitation. We read a good deal in Theosophical

literature about the precipitation of letters or pictures. This

result, like everything else, may be obtained in several ways.

An Adept wishing to communicate with some one might

place a sheet of paper before him, form a mental image of the

writing—which he wished to appear upon it, and draw from

the ether the matter wherewith to objectify that linage; or if he

preferred to do so it would be equally easy for him to

produce the same result upon a sheet of paper lying before

his correspondent, whatever might be the distance between


A third method which, since it saves time, is much more

frequently adopted, is to impress the whole substance of the

letter on the mind of some pupil, and leave him to do the

mechanical work of precipitation. That pupil would.120

then take his sheet of paper, and, imagining he saw the letter

written thereon in his Master's hand, would proceed to

objectify the writing as before described. If he found it

difficult to perform simultaneously the two operations of

drawing his material from the surrounding ether and

precipitating the writing on the paper, he might have either

ordinary ink or a small quantity of coloured powder on the

table beside him, which, being already dense matter, could be

drawn upon more readily.

It is of course obvious that the possession of this power

would be a very dangerous weapon in the hands of an

unscrupulous person, since it is just as easy to imitate one

man's handwriting as another's, and it would be impossible to

detect by any ordinary means a forgery committed in this

manner. A pupil definitely connected with any Master has

always an infallible test by which he knows whether any

message really emanates from that Master or not, but for

others the proof of its origin must always be solely in the

contents of the letter and the spirit breathing through it, as the

handwriting, however cleverly imitated is of absolutely no

value as evidence.

As to speed, a pupil new to the work of precipitation

would probably be able to image only a few words at a time,

and would, therefore, get on hardly more rapidly than if he

wrote his letter in the ordinary way, but a more experienced

individual who could visualize a whole page or perhaps the

entire letter at once would get through his work with greater

facility. It is in this manner that quite long letters are

produced in a few seconds at a seance.

When a picture has to be precipitated the method is

precisely the same, except that here it is absolutely.121

necessary that the entire scene should be visualized at once,

and if many colours are required there is the additional

complication of manufacturing them, keeping them separate,

and reproducing accurately the exact tints of the scene to be

represented. Evidently there is scope here for the exercise of

the artistic faculty, and it must not be supposed that every

inhabitant of the astral plane could by this method produce

an equally good picture; a man who had been a great artist in

life, and had therefore learnt how to see and what to look for,

would certainly be very much more successful than the

ordinary person if he attempted precipitation when on the

astral plane after death.

Slate-writing. The slate-writing, for the production of

which under test conditions some of the greatest mediums

have been so famous, is sometimes produced by

precipitation, though more frequently the fragment of pencil

enclosed between the slates is guided by a spirit hand, of

which only just the tiny points sufficient to grasp it are


Levitation. An occurrence which occasionally takes

place at seances, and more frequently among Eastern Yogis,

is what is called levitation—that is, the floating of a human

body in the air. No doubt when this takes place in the case of

a medium, he is often simply upborne by "spirit hands," but

there is another and more scientific method of accomplishing

this feat which is always used in the East, and occasionally

here also. Occult science is acquainted with a means of

neutralizing or even entirely reversing the attraction of

gravity, and it is obvious that by the judicious use of this

power all the phenomena of levitation may be easily

produced. It was no doubt by a.122

knowledge of this secret that some of the air-ships of ancient

India and Atlantis were raised from the earth and made light

enough to be readily moved and directed; and not

improbably the same acquaintance with nature's finer forces

greatly facilitated the labours of those who raised the

enormous blocks of stone sometimes used in cyclopean

architecture, or in the building of the Pyramids and


Spirit Lights. With the knowledge of the forces of

nature which the resources of the astral plane place at the

command of its inhabitants the production of what are called

"spirit lights" is a very easy matter, whether they be of the

mildly phosphorescent or the dazzling electrical variety, or

those curious dancing globules of light into which a certain

class of fire elementals so readily transform themselves.

Since all light consists simply of vibrations of the ether, it is

obvious that any one who knows how to set up these

vibrations can readily produce any kind of light that he


Handling Fire. It is by the aid of the etheric elemental

essence also that the remarkable feat of handling fire

unharmed is generally performed, though there are as usual

other ways in which it can be done. The thinnest layer of

etheric substance can be so manipulated as to be absolutely

impervious to heat, and when the hand of a medium or sitter

is covered with this he may pick up burning coal or red-hot

iron with perfect safety.

Transmutation. Most of the occurrences of the seance-room

have now been referred to, but there are one or two of

the rarer phenomena of the outer world which must not he

left quite without mention in our list. The transmutation of

metals is commonly supposed to.123

be a mere dream of the mediaeval alchemists, and no doubt in

most cases the description of the phenomenon was merely a

symbol of the purification of the soul; yet there seems to be

some evidence that it was really accomplished by them on

several occasions, and there are petty magicians in the East

who profess to do it under test conditions even now. Be that

as it may, it is evident that since the ultimate atom is one and

the same in all substances, and it is only the methods of its

combination that differ, any one who possessed the power of

reducing a piece of metal to the atomic condition and of re-arranging

its atoms in some other form would have no

difficulty in effecting transmutation to any extent that he


Repercussion. The principle of sympathetic vibration

mentioned above also provides the explanation of that

strange and little-known phenomenon called repercussion, by

means of which any injury done to, or any mark made upon,

the materialized body in the course of its wanderings will be

reproduced in the physical body. We find traces of this in

some of the evidence given at trials for witchcraft in the

middle ages, in which it is not infrequently stated that some

wound given to the witch when in the form of a dog or a wolf

was found to have appeared in the corresponding part of her

human body. The same strange law has sometimes led to in

entirely unjust accusation of fraud against a medium,

because, for example, some colouring matter rubbed upon

the hand of a materialized "spirit" was afterwards found

upon his hand—the explanation being that in that case, as so

often happens, the "spirit" was simply the medium's etheric

double, forced by the guiding influences to take some form

other than his own. In fact these two parts.124

of the physical body are so intimately connected that it is

impossible to touch the keynote of one without immediately

setting up exactly corresponding vibrations in the other..CONCLUSION.

IT is hoped that any reader who has been sufficiently

interested to follow this treatise thus far, may by this time

have a general idea of the astral plane and its possibilities,

such as will enable him to understand and fit into their

proper places in its scheme any facts in connection with it

which he may pick up in his reading. Though only the

roughest sketch has been given of a very great subject,

enough has perhaps been said to show the extreme

importance of astral perception in the study of biology,

physics, chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and history, and the

great impulse which might be given to all these sciences by

its development.

Yet its attainment should never be regarded as an end in

itself, since any means adopted with that object in view

would. inevitably lead to what is called in the East the laukika

method of development—a system by which certain psychic

powers are indeed acquired, but only for the present

personality; and since their acquisition is surrounded by no

safeguards, the student is extremely likely to misuse them.

To this class belong all systems which involve the use of

drugs, invocation of elementals, or the practices of Hatha


The other method, which is called the lokottara, consists

of Raj Yoga or spiritual progress, and though it may be

somewhat slower than the other, whatever is


acquired along this line is gained for the permanent

individuality, and never lost again, while the guiding care of a

Master ensures perfect safety from misuse of power as long

as his orders are scrupulously obeyed. The opening of astral

vision must be regarded then only as a stage in the

development of something infinitely nobler—merely as a

step, and a very small step, on that great Upward Path which

leads men to the sublime heights of Adeptship, and beyond

even that through glorious vistas of wisdom and power such

as our finite minds cannot now conceive.

Yet let no one think it an unmixed blessing to have the

wider sight of the astral plane, for upon one in whom that

vision is opened the sorrow and misery, the evil and the

greed of the world press as an ever-present burden, until he

often feels inclined to echo the passionate adjuration of

Schiller: "Why hast thou cast me thus into the town of the

ever-blind, to proclaim thine oracle with the opened sense?

Take back this sad clear-sightedness; take from mine eyes

this cruel light! Give me back my blindness—the happy

darkness of my senses; take back thy dreadful gift!" This

feeling is perhaps not an unnatural one in the earlier stages

of the Path, yet higher sight and deeper knowledge soon

bring to the student the perfect certainty that all things are

working together for the eventual good of all—that


Hour after hour, like an opening flower,

Shall truth after truth expand;

For the sun may pale, and the stars may fail,