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Title: The Astral Plane - Its Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena
Author: Leadbeater, C. W. (Charles Webster), 1847-1934
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           THE ASTRAL PLANE

                     ITS SCENERY, INHABITANTS AND


                           C. W. LEADBEATER


                   Theosophical Publishing Society

                    7 Duke Street, Adelphi, W.C.


              MADRAS: _The Theosophist_ OFFICE, ADYAR.


       *       *       *       *       *


_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 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._

       *       *       *       *       *



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.

Inhabitants.--I. Human. (1) _Living_:--The Adept or Chela in
Mâyâvirûpa--The Psychically Developed Person--The Ordinary Person in Astral
Body--The Black Magician. (2) _Dead_:--The Nirmânakâya--The Chela 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. II. Non-human:--The Elemental
Essence--The Kâmarûpas of Animals--Various Classes of Nature-Spirits,
commonly called Fairies--Kâmadevas--Rûpadevas--Arûpadevas--The Devarâjahs.
III. Artificial:--Elementals formed Unconsciously--Guardian
Angels--Elementals formed Consciously--Human Artificials--The True Origin
of Spiritualism.

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 Forces--Etheric
Currents--Etheric Pressure--Latent Energy--Sympathetic
Vibration--Mantras--Disintegration--Materialization--Why Darkness is
required at a _Séance_--Spirit Photographs--Reduplication--Precipitation of
Letters and Pictures--Slate-writing--Levitation--Spirit Lights--Handling


       *       *       *       *       *



Reference to the astral plane, or Kâmaloka as it is called in
Sanskrit, has frequently been made by Theosophical writers, and a good
deal of information on the subject of this realm of nature is to be
found scattered here and there in our books; but there is not, so far
as I am aware, any single volume to which one can turn for a complete
summary of the facts at present known to us about this interesting
region. The object of this manual is to collect and make some attempt
to arrange this scattered information, 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 existence.

There appears to be considerable misunderstanding even among
Theosophical students upon this question of the reality of the various
planes of the universe. This may perhaps be partly due to the fact
that the word "plane" has occasionally been very loosely used in our
literature--writers speaking vaguely of the mental plane, the moral
plane, and so on; and this vagueness has led many people to suppose
that the information on the subject which is to be found in
Theosophical books is inexact and speculative--a mere hypothesis
incapable of definite proof. 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. 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 devachanic, the
sushuptic, and the nirvânic. 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. Now 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

The astral region which I am to attempt to describe is 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 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 somewhat mistaken view. Most assuredly that at
which we have to aim is the purely spiritual plane, and it would be
most disastrous for any student to neglect that higher development and
rest satisfied with the attainment of astral consciousness. There are
some whose Karma is such as to enable them to develop the purely
spiritual faculties first of all--to over-leap the astral plane for
the time, as it were; and when afterwards they make its acquaintance
they have, if their spiritual development has been perfect, the
immense advantage of dipping into it from above, with the aid of a
spiritual insight which cannot be deceived and a spiritual strength
which nothing can resist. It is, however, a mistake to suppose, as
some writers have done, that this is the only, or even the ordinary
method adopted by the Masters of Wisdom with their pupils. Where it is
possible it saves much 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, and since this astral plane lies next to our world of denser
matter, it is usually in connection with it that our earliest
superphysical experiences take place. It is therefore by no means
without 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, not only by enabling us to understand
many of the phenomena of the _séance_-room, of haunted houses, etc.,
which would otherwise be inexplicable, but also to guard ourselves and
others from possible dangers.

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, 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 the pupil is proof against any danger or terror that he
is likely to encounter. But, however it may occur, the first actual
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 to some extent a memorable epoch in a man's

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 before those whose eyes are as yet unopened a vivid picture
of this astral scenery is like 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 truth.


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. Now numbering
these 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 we live in and all its
familiar accessories. Life on the sixth division is simply 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 interests.

The scenery of these lower divisions, then, is that of the earth as we know
it: but 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 even the most
familiar objects may at first be totally unrecognizable. 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 astral 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 he 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 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 astral 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; exactly
co-extensive with that physical body he clearly distinguishes the
etheric double, which in Theosophical literature has usually been
called the Linga Sharîra; while the Jîva, as it is absorbed and
specialized into Prâna, 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 quite a different order of
matter--the astral--is the kâmic 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--that of
the rûpa levels of Devachan--lies the devachanic body or aura of the
lower Manas, whose colours, changing only by slow degrees as the man
lives his life, show the disposition and character of the personality;
while still higher and infinitely more beautiful, where at all clearly
developed, is the living light of the Kârana Sharîra, the aura or
vehicle of the higher Manas, which shows the stage of development of
the real Ego in its passage from birth to birth. But to see these the
pupil must have developed something more than mere astral vision.

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 arûpa levels
of Devachan, the body which he inhabits is the Kârana Sharîra, but
when he descends into the rûpa 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 kâmic 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 recent article of mine in _The Theosophist_, but enough has
been said here to show that as they all occupy the same space (which
by the way they share also with the physical health-aura), the finer
interpenetrating 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 misunderstood.

Though the kâmic 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 strictly speaking
within the limits of the physical plane, though invisible to ordinary
sight. It has been the custom in Theosophical literature to describe
the Linga Sharîra as the astral counterpart of the human body, the
word "astral" having been usually applied to everything beyond the
cognition of our physical senses. As closer investigation enables us
to be more precise in the use of our terms, however, we find ourselves
compelled to admit much of this invisible matter as purely physical,
and therefore to define the Linga Sharîra no longer as the astral, but
as the etheric double. This seems an appropriate name for it, since it
consists of various grades of that matter which scientists call
"ether," though this proves on examination to be not a separate
substance, as has been generally supposed, but a condition of finer
subdivision than the gaseous, to which any kind of physical matter may
be reduced by the application of the appropriate forces. The name
"etheric double" will therefore for the future be used in Theosophic
writings instead of "Linga Sharîra": and this change will not only
give us the advantage of an English name which is clearly indicative
of the character of the body to which it is applied, but will also
relieve us from the frequent misunderstandings which have arisen from
the fact that an entirely different signification is attached in all
the Oriental books to the name we have hitherto been using. It must
not however be supposed that in making this alteration in
nomenclature we are in any way putting forward a new conception; we
are simply altering, for the sake of greater accuracy, the labels
previously attached to certain facts in nature. 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 automatically--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 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, the LIPIKA are able to give a mould in accordance with which a
body exactly suiting it can be formed.

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 astral vision 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 therefore
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 examination. 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 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

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 characteristics 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 Jîva or
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 _séances_ 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 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 misleading.

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 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 entity 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 seem 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 not purely subjective, as in
Devachan, but on the contrary sufficiently 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 _séances_, and the entities who descend from and
describe it are probably often speaking 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
objects 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 that 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, or might even
construct such surroundings to suit his own fancies.

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
person able to function freely on that plane can communicate with any
of the human entities there present more readily and rapidly than on
earth, by means of mental impressions, the inhabitants themselves do
not usually seem 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, beliefs, and language.

An account of the scenery of the astral plane would be incomplete
without mention of what are commonly called the Records of the Astral
Light, the photographic representation of all that has ever happened.
These records are really and permanently impressed upon that higher
medium called the Âkâsha, and are only reflected in a more or less
spasmodic manner in the astral light, so that one whose power of
vision does not rise above this plane will be likely to obtain only
occasional and disconnected pictures of the past instead of a coherent
narrative. But nevertheless pictures of all kinds of past events are
constantly being reproduced on the astral plane, and form an important
part of the surroundings of the investigator there.


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 entities
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 Kâmaloka 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 entities which manifest on the astral plane during physical life
may be subdivided into four classes:

1. _The Adept or Chela in the Mâyâvirûpa._ This body is the artificial
vehicle used on the four lower or rûpa divisions of the devachanic
plane by those capable of functioning there during earth-life, and is
formed out of the substance of the mind-body. The pupil is at first
unable to construct this for himself, and has therefore to be content
with his ordinary astral body composed of the less refined matter of
the kâmic aura; but at a certain stage of his progress the Master
Himself forms his Mâyâvirûpa for him for the first time, and
afterwards instructs and assists him until he can make it for himself
easily and expeditiously. When this facility is attained this vehicle
is habitually used in place of the grosser astral body, since it
permits of instant passage from the astral to the devachanic plane and
back again at will, and allows of the use at all times of the higher
powers belonging to its own plane. It must be noted, however, that a
person travelling in the Mâyâvirûpa is not perceptible to merely
astral vision unless he chooses to make himself so by gathering around
him particles of astral matter and so creating for himself a temporary
body suitable to that plane, though such a temporary creation would
resemble the ordinary astral body only as a materialization resembles
the physical body; in each case it is a manifestation of a higher
entity on a lower plane in order to make himself visible to those
whose senses cannot yet transcend that plane. But whether he be in the
Mâyâvirûpa or the astral body, the pupil who is introduced to the
astral plane under the guidance of a competent teacher has always the
fullest possible consciousness there, and is in fact himself, exactly
as his friends know him on earth, minus only the four lower principles
in the former case and the three lower in the latter, 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 Theosophical 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, as before stated, upon whether he is able to
carry his consciousness without intermission from the one state to the

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, and 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 the astral body, since by the
hypothesis he does not know how to form the Mâyâvirûpa.

3. _The Ordinary Person_--that is, the person without any psychic
development--floating about in his astral body in a more or less
unconscious condition. In deep slumber the higher principles in their
astral vehicle almost invariably withdraw from the body, and hover in
its immediate neighbourhood, practically almost as much asleep as the
latter. 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. These extruded astral
bodies are almost shapeless and very indefinite in outline in the case
of the more backward races and individuals, but as the man develops in
intellect and spirituality his floating astral becomes better defined
and more closely resembles his physical encasement. 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 closely
to the first, except that the development 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 blame-worthy, stand the
Tibetan black magicians, who are often, though incorrectly, called by
Europeans Dûgpas--a title properly belonging, as is quite correctly
explained by Surgeon-Major Waddell in his recent work 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 Dûgpas no doubt deal in Tântrik magic to a
considerable extent, but the real red-hatted entirely unreformed sect
is that of the Ñin-mâ-pa, though far beyond them in a still lower
depth lie the Bön-pa--the votaries of the aboriginal religion, who
have never accepted any form of Buddhism at all. It must not, however,
be supposed that all Tibetan sects except the Gelûgpa 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. The investigator will occasionally meet
on the astral 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. DEAD.

To begin with, of course this very word "dead" is an absurd misnomer,
as most of the entities classified under this heading are as fully
alive as we are ourselves; the term must be understood as meaning
those who are for the time unattached to a physical body. They may be
subdivided into nine principal classes as follows:

1. _The Nirmânakâya._

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, just as
the Adept in the Mâyâvirûpa would do, since the more refined vesture
would be invisible to astral sight. Further information about the
position and work of the Nirmânakâyas may be found in Madame
Blavatsky's _Theosophical Glossary_ and _The Voice of the Silence_.

2. _The Chela 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 devachanic condition
after death, there to receive his due reward in 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," 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 Nirmânakâyas. 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 Kâmaloka 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 an
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 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 Kâmaloka with equal facility.
The chela 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
enter 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 centuries. 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 and the Prâna, so it is intended that he should as
soon as possible cast off also the astral or kâmic body, and pass
into the devachanic condition, where alone his spiritual aspirations
can find their full fruition. 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
in Kâmaloka. 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 kâmic envelope and enter
upon the blissful rest of Devachan.

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 is not attained by all, or even by the majority. The
average man has by no means freed himself from the lower desires
before death, and it takes a long period of more or less fully
conscious life on the astral plane to allow the forces he has
generated to work themselves out, and thus release the higher Ego. The
body which he occupies during this period is the Kâmarûpa which may be
described as a rearrangement of the matter of his astral body; but it
is much more defined in outline, and there is also this important
difference between the two that while the astral body, if sufficiently
awakened during life to function at all freely, would probably be able
to visit all, or at any rate most, of the subdivisions of its plane,
the Kâmarûpa has not that liberty, but is strictly confined to that
level to which its affinities have drawn it. It has, however, a
certain kind of progress connected with it, for it generally happens
that the forces a man has set in motion during earth-life need for
their appropriate working out a sojourn on more divisions than one of
the Kâmaloka, and when this is the case a regular sequence is
observed, commencing with the lowest; so that when the Kâmarûpa 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 strata, pausing only when it is exactly balanced for a
time. This is evidently the explanation of a remark frequently made by
the entities which appear at _séances_ 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 medium.

It ought perhaps to be explained here that the definiteness of outline
which distinguishes the Kâmarûpa from the astral body is of an
entirely different character from that definiteness which was
described as a sign of progress in the astral of the man before death.
There can never be any possibility of confusion between the two
entities, for while in the case of the man attached to a physical body
the different orders of astral particles are all inextricably mingled
and ceaselessly changing their position, after death their activity is
much more circumscribed, since they then sort themselves according to
their degree of materiality, and become, as it were, a series of
sheaths or shells surrounding him, the grossest being always outside
and so dissipating before the others. This dissipation is not
necessarily complete, the extent to which it is carried being governed
by the power of Manas to free itself from its connection with any
given level; and on this also, as will be seen later, the nature of
the "shade" depends.

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 Kâmaloka 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. 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 Kâmaloka who in many cases 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 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 in Kâmaloka, exactly as on earth, 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
there, just as here, the ignorant are rarely ready to profit by the
advice or example of the wise.

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 Manas is being drawn in opposite directions by the higher Triad
which acts on it from above its level and the Kâma which operates from
below; and therefore it oscillates between the two attractions, with
an ever-increasing tendency towards the former as the kâmic forces
wear themselves out. And here comes in the evil of what is called at
_séances_ the "development" of a spirit through a medium--a process
the object of which is to intensify the downward pull of the Kâma, to
awaken the lower portion of the entity (that being all that can be
reached) from the natural and desirable unconsciousness into which it
is passing, and thus to prolong unnaturally its existence in the
Kâmaloka. The peculiar danger of this will be seen when it is
recollected that the real man is all the while steadily withdrawing
into himself, and is therefore 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 obviously far more likely to add evil than good to
its record. Thus the harm done is threefold: first, the retardation of
the separation between Manas and Kâma, and the consequent waste of
time and prolongation of the interval between two incarnations;
secondly, the extreme probability (almost amounting to certainty) that
a large addition will be made to the individual's evil Karma, which
will have to be worked out in future births; thirdly, the terrible
danger that this abnormal intensification of the force of Kâma may
eventually enable the latter to entangle the whole of the lower Manas
inextricably, and so cause the entire loss of an incarnation. Though
such a result as this last-mentioned is happily uncommon, it is a
thing that has happened more than once; and in very many cases where
the evil has fallen short of this ultimate possibility, the individual
has nevertheless lost much more of his lower Manas by this additional
entanglement with Kâma than he would have done if left to withdraw
into himself quietly as nature intended. It is not denied that a
certain amount of good may occasionally be done to very degraded
entities at spiritualistic circles; but the intention of nature
obviously is that such assistance should be given, as it frequently
is, by occult students who are able to visit the astral plane during
earth-life, and have been trained by competent teachers to deal by
whatever methods may be most helpful with the various cases which they
encounter. It will be readily seen that such a scheme of help,
carrying with it as it does the possibility of instant reference to
higher authorities in any doubtful case, is infinitely safer than any
casual assistance obtained through a medium who may be (and indeed
generally is) entirely ignorant of the laws governing spiritual
evolution, and who is as liable to the domination of evil or
mischievous influences as of good ones.

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 Devachan, 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. As one of our ablest writers has recently told us,
when our departed brother is sinking peacefully and naturally into
pre-devachanic unconsciousness "an awakening may be caused by the
passionate sorrow and desires of friends left on earth, and these,
violently vibrating the kâmic elements in the embodied persons, may
set up vibrations in the Kâmarûpa of the disembodied, and so reach and
rouse the lower Manas not yet withdrawn to and reunited with its
parent, the spiritual intelligence. Thus it may be roused from its
dreamy state to vivid remembrance of the earth-life so lately left.
This awakening is often accompanied by acute suffering, and even if
this be avoided the natural process of the Triad freeing itself is
rudely disturbed, and the completion of its freedom is delayed."
(_Death and After_, p. 32.) 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 Devachan and his quiet
passage through Kâmaloka might be of real value to him, whereas when
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 Shrâddha 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 an entity of the class we are
considering has something which it specially desires to say to those
whom it 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. It should be observed that the reason why he cannot
usually write or speak without a medium 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 Kâmarûpa
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. Now 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.

But for one entity who is earth-bound by the desire to communicate
with his surviving friends, there are thousands who, if left alone,
would never think of doing so, although when the idea is suggested to
them through a medium they will respond to it readily enough, for
since during earth-life their interests were probably centred less in
spiritual than in worldly affairs, it is not difficult to re-awaken in
them vibrations sympathetic to matters connected with the existence
they have so lately left; and this undesirable intensification of
earthly thoughts is frequently brought about by the interference of
well-meaning but ignorant friends, who endeavour to get communications
from the departed through a medium, with the result that just in
proportion to their success he is subjected to the various dangers
mentioned above. It should also be remembered that the possible injury
to the entity itself is by no means all the harm that may accrue from
such a practice, for those who habitually attend _séances_ during life
are almost certain to develop a tendency to haunt them after death,
and so themselves in turn run the risks into which they have so often
brought their predecessors. Besides, it is well known that the vital
energy necessary to produce physical manifestations is frequently
drawn from the sitters as well as from the medium, and the eventual
effect on the latter is invariably evil, as is evinced by the large
number of such sensitives who have gone either morally or psychically
to the bad--some becoming epileptic, some taking to drink, others
falling under influences which induced them to stoop to fraud and
trickery of all kinds.

4. _The Shade._

When the separation of the principles is complete, the Kâmaloka life
of the person is over, and, as before stated, he passes into the
devachanic condition. But 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 his Kâmarûpa 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 Manas which it
put forth into incarnation; in that case the Kâmarûpa 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 next.
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 Kâmaloka 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
on the astral plane, but also to what cannot be described otherwise
than as a loss of a portion of the lower Manas. This is, no doubt, a
very material method of expressing the great mystery of the reflection
of the higher Manas in the lower, but since only those who have passed
the portals of initiation can fully comprehend this, we must content
ourselves with the nearest approximation to exactitude which is
possible to us; and as a matter of fact, a very fairly accurate idea
of what actually takes place will be obtained by adopting the
hypothesis that the mânasic 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 desires that a
certain portion of this lower Manas becomes very closely interwoven
with Kâma, and when the separation takes place, his life in Kâmaloka
being over, the mânasic principle has, as it were, to be torn apart,
the degraded portion remaining within the Kâmarûpa.

This Kâmarûpa then consists of the particles of astral matter from
which the lower Manas has not been able to disengage itself, and which
therefore retain it captive; for when Manas passes into Devachan these
clinging fragments adhere to a portion of it and as it were wrench it
away. The proportion of the matter of each level present in the
Kâmarûpa will therefore depend on the extent to which Manas has become
inextricably entangled with the lower passions. It will be obvious
that as Manas in passing from level to level is unable to free itself
completely from the matter of each, the Kâmarûpa 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 Devachan), but
nevertheless, not only bears his exact personal appearance, but
possesses his memory and all his little idiosyncrasies, and may,
therefore, very readily personate him, as indeed it frequently does at
_séances_. 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 worst qualities. Its length of life varies
according to the amount of the lower Manas 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 the matter of the mânasic nature 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 process of
disintegration, every particle of the lower Manas 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 lie behind any
such manifestation has most assuredly no connection with the original
entity, 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, when they
attend physical _séances_, 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 it 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 Kâmarûpa is comparatively quickly
formed, and the etheric double cast off--this latter body being
destined to slow disintegration, precisely as is the kâmarûpic 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 various
stages of disintegration, the sight is by no means a pleasant one.
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 Devachan, man casts off and leaves to
slow disintegration no less than three corpses--the physical body,
the etheric double and the Kâmarûpa--all of which are by degrees
resolved into their constituent elements and 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 other been used for
almost every variety of _post-mortem_ entity, it has become so vague
and meaningless that it is perhaps better to avoid it.

7. _The Suicide, or 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 under 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 more or less weakened, and probably the
very grossest particles are already got rid of, so that the Kâmarûpa
will most likely form itself on the sixth or fifth subdivision of the
Kâmaloka, 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 from 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
Kâmaloka. 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 the time of their sojourn upon it is passed, to quote from
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
". But on the other hand, if their earth-lives have been low and
brutal, selfish and sensual, they will, like the suicides, be
conscious to the fullest extent in this undesirable region; and they
are liable to develop into terribly evil entities. Inflamed with all
kinds of horrible appetites which they can 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
Pisâchas the _incubi_ and _succubæ_ of mediæval 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 fails 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 life in Kâmaloka but it renews for
perhaps an indefinite period his power to generate evil Karma, and so
prepare for himself a future incarnation of the most degraded
character, besides running the risk of losing a large portion or even
the whole of the lower Manas. On this lowest level of the astral plane
he must stay at least as long as his earthly life would have lasted if
it had not been prematurely cut short; and 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 _séance_. 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 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 relics of earlier races. 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 mediæval 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
sub-stratum 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. All readers of Theosophical literature are familiar with
the idea that it is possible for a man to live a life so absolutely
degraded and selfish, so utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole of
his lower Manas may become entirely immeshed in Kâma, and finally
separated from its spiritual source in the higher Ego. Some students
even seem to think 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 preeminence 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 drawn. The lost
entity would very soon after death find himself unable to stay in
Kâmaloka, 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 Kâmarûpa, 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 _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. Of course in countries where cremation is the custom
vampirism of this sort is 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
Kâmaloka, 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 the
ordinary astral body, any wound inflicted upon the animal
materialization will be reproduced upon the human physical body by the
extraordinary phenomenon of repercussion; though after the death of
that physical body the Kâmarûpa, which will probably continue to
appear in the same form, will be less vulnerable. It will then,
however, he also less dangerous, as unless it can find a suitable
medium it will be unable to materialize fully.

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 lie behind what
at first sight appears mere nonsense, 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 goes 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 chela 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 Kâmaloka 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
an occult student wishes to know about them is how to avoid them, it
will probably be more interesting to pass on 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. 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
water support myriads of forms of life which, though invisible to the
ordinary eye, 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 or
opportunity is being wasted or neglected, it is not the scheme of the
universe that is in fault, but our ignorance of its method and

For the purposes of our present consideration of the non-human
inhabitants of the astral plane it will be best to leave 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 encyclopædia.

The most convenient method of arranging the non-human 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 rank considerably
below humanity, some are our equals, and others again rise far above
us in goodness and power. Some belong to our 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
Nirmânakâya. 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 under 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 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 non-human 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 it will perhaps simplify matters to restrict its
meaning to the last-mentioned class only, and use it to denote the
three great kingdoms which precede the mineral in the order of our
evolution. It may be remembered that in one of the earlier letters
from an Adept teacher these elemental kingdoms are referred to, and
the statement is made that the first and second cannot readily be
comprehended except by an Initiate. Fortunately this, the most
incomprehensible part of the vast subject, does not come within the
province of this manual, as those first and second elemental kingdoms
exist and function respectively upon the arûpa and rûpa levels of the
devachanic plane. We have consequently to deal for the moment only
with kingdom No. 3--the one next before the mineral; though even that
will be found quite sufficiently complicated, as will be understood
when it is stated that it contains just over two thousand four hundred
perfectly distinct varieties of elemental essence, each of which the
pupil who wishes to attain perfect control of the astral forces must
learn not only to distinguish instantly at sight, but to deal with in
its own special method and no other. Of course phenomena of various
sorts may be, and constantly are, produced by those who are able to
wield only one or two of these forces, but the Adept prefers to take
the additional trouble requisite to understand all of them thoroughly,
and uses in every case precisely the most appropriate force or
combination of forces, so that his object may be attained with
scientific accuracy and with the least possible expenditure of energy.

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
its 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 subdivisions, 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 mediæval
symbolism to modern accuracy of expression, to the solid, liquid,
gaseous and 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 injustice, 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, Âkâsha itself, 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 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 consisted of matter in one or other of these
seven states, and that into the composition of every organic body all
seven entered 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 served as an Upâdhi
or 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 mediæval 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 be 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 perpendicular 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 it is permissible to say 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 subclasses 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; and this fact sometimes
gives it a curiously inverted appearance in our eyes until we
thoroughly grasp its object.

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 even then its motion is
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 some grotesque
distortion, some terrifying or unpleasant aspect about them. 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, so that the intelligence 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 mânasic quality. 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, though there is undoubtedly a sort of bias or tendency
permeating nearly all their subdivisions which operates to render them
rather hostile than friendly towards man, as every neophyte knows, 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 must be referred, and
mediæval writers tell us that man has only himself to thank for its
existence. In the golden age before this Kaliyuga men were on the
whole less selfish and more spiritual, and then the "elementals" were
friendly, though now they are no longer so because of man's
indifference to, and want of sympathy with, other living beings. 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 characteristics. 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 shows us that we have a responsibility towards them
for the manner in which we use 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.

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 be 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 _séance_-room are produced, and it is also
the agent in most cases of stone-throwing or bell-ringing in haunted
houses, such results as these latter being brought about either by
blundering efforts to attract attention made by some earth-bound 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 Jîva or life principle, but that of course is again
totally distinct from either of the essences above mentioned.

2. _The Kâmarûpas 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
kâmic aura of the animal forms itself into a Kâmarûpa, 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 in Kâmaloka 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 Kâmarûpas 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 them 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 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 Kâmarûpa as non-human, 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 manvantaras,
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 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 mediæval literature,
these earth-spirits are often called gnomes, while the water-spirits
are spoken of as ûndinés, 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, etc.--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 any other. Of course 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.

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 be 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 _séances_
for physical phenomena will recollect instances of practical joking
and silly though usually good-natured horseplay, which 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 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 art 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 all.

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
possess a permanent reincarnating individuality. Apparently therefore
one point in which their line of evolution differs from ours is that a
much greater proportion of intelligence is developed before permanent
individualization 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 annoyance; 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 be
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.

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, etc. 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 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 Nirmânakâya, 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 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 probably 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 despisal 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 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 parenthèse_ 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 case 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 DHYÂN CHOHANS 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 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 of course 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 Kâmadevas, Rûpadevas, and Arûpadevas respectively. Just as our
ordinary body here--the lowest body possible for us--is the physical,
so the ordinary body of a Kâmadeva 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 Mâyâvirûpa just as we might in an astral body,
while to enter the Kârana Sharîra would be to him (when sufficiently
developed) no greater effort than to form a Mâyâvirûpa is to us. In
the same way the Rûpadeva's ordinary body would be the Mâyâvirûpa,
since his habitat is on the four lower or rûpa levels of that
spiritual state which we usually call Devachan: while the Arûpadeva
belongs to the three higher levels of that plane, and owns no nearer
approach to a body than the Kârana Sharîra. But for Rûpa and
Arûpadevas 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 Kâmadevas--it would be quite a mistake to think
of all of them as immeasurably superior to ourselves, since some have
entered their ranks from a humanity in some respects less advanced
than our own; of course 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 help 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 Arûpadevas there are four other great
divisions, and again, above and beyond the Deva kingdom altogether,
stand the great hosts of the DHYÂN CHOHANS, but the consideration of
such glorified Beings would be out of place in an essay on the astral

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 Devarâjahs. 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 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 Mahârâjahs,
giving their names as Dhritarashtra, Virudhaka, Virupaksha,
and Vaishravana. In the same books their hosts are called
Gandharvas, Kumbhandas, Nâgas, and Yakshas respectively, the points of
the compass appropriated to each being in corresponding order east,
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 LIPIKA the great karmic
deities of the Kosmos, weigh the deeds of each personality when the
final separation of its principles takes place in Kâmaloka 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 Devarâjahs 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 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 Devarâjahs 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 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 they form remain hovering about him, and constantly
tend to provoke a repetition of the idea they represent, since such
repetitions, instead of forming new elementals, would strengthen the
old one, and give it a fresh lease of life. A man, therefore, who
frequently dwells upon one wish often forms for himself an astral
attendant which, constantly fed by fresh thought, may haunt him 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, and 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 an 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. Of course in all cases the
amount of such force 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 good wishes or friendly thoughts
projected in the same direction.

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 he has created to be his companions,
and thus is not only in sadly evil case himself, but is a dangerous
nuisance to his fellow-men, 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 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
existence. 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
lets them run riot in various directions, utterly unconscious of the
swarms of baleful creatures 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 where one of them has had
sufficient strength to materialize and become for the moment visible
to physical sight. A curious fact which deserves mention here is that
even after the passage of the mother into the devachanic condition the
love which she pours out upon the children she thinks of as
surrounding her will react upon the real children 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. 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_, p. 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.

This power of an earnest desire, especially if frequently repeated, to
create an 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 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 recognized 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 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 ears the strange wailing music which was the dirge of a young
and valiant soldier seven hundred years ago in Palestine.

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 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 power. 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 mediæval 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 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 or less similar nature will 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 specialities 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 Kâlî, 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
it perhaps falls most naturally into place among the artificial
beings. 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 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
in direct communication with 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, and 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 they
thus set 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 a magnificent result, though,
in the opinion of many of those whose power and knowledge enable them
to take a wider view of such matters than we can, it has been attained
at too great a cost, since it seems to them that on the whole the harm
done outweighs the good. 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 _séances_,
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 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 to make such
a change, and then a very remarkable expedient was adopted which gave
rise to the curious class of creatures we have called "human
artificials". The higher principles of the original "guide" were
allowed to pass on their long delayed evolution into the devachanic
condition, but the shade 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 Manas, 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 approved of the formation of an artificial entity of this sort,
though they could not interfere with any one who thought it right to
take such a course. A weak point in the arrangement is 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.


Though in the course of this paper various superphysical 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

[Sidenote: 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 all vaguely

[Sidenote: 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.

[Sidenote: 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; and 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 he creates are strong enough to materialize themselves to
ordinary sight--a fact which accounts for the periodicity of some
manifestations of this class. 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, and 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.

[Sidenote: 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.

[Sidenote: Bell-ringing, stone-throwing, etc.]

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 his surviving friends, or intentionally
employed by some childishly mischievous nature-spirit.

[Sidenote: 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 be attributed a large portion of what are
called physical phenomena at spiritualistic _séances_--indeed, many a
_séance_ has been given entirely by these mischievous creatures; and
such a performance might easily include many very striking items, such
as the answering of questions and delivery of pretended messages 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,
and even materializations. In fact, the nature-spirits alone, if any
of them happened to be disposed to take the trouble, could give a
_séance_ 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
_séance_, 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.

[Sidenote: Communicating Entities.]

As to the entities who may "communicate" at a _séance_, 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"
_may_ be exactly what it professes to be, but on the whole the
probabilities are that 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
plane is so great that no reliance can be placed even on what seems
the most convincing proof. 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
_séances_ 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 _séance_ ever to be certain that
he is not being cruelly deceived in one or other of half a dozen
different ways.

There have been a few cases in which members of the lodge of
occultists referred to above as originating the spiritualistic
movement have themselves given, through a medium, a series of valuable
teachings on deeply interesting subjects, but this has invariably been
at strictly private family _séances_, not at public performances for
which money has been paid.

[Sidenote: Astral Resources.]

To understand the methods by which a large class of physical phenomena
are produced, it is necessary to have some comprehension of the
various resources mentioned above, which a 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 divisions of astral matter explained above. 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 small 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.

[Sidenote: Clairvoyance.]

[Sidenote: Prevision and Second-sight.]

It is admitted that some of these pass through solid matter with
perfect ease, so that this enables us to account scientifically for
some of the peculiarities of astral vision, though those minds to
which the theory of the fourth dimension commends itself find in it 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 see that a good many of the phenomena of clairvoyance
are explicable even without rising above this level. Of course 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

Another fact which must not be forgotten is that any intelligent
inhabitant of the astral plane is not only able to 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.

[Sidenote: Astral Forces.]

[Sidenote: Etheric Currents.]

[Sidenote: Etheric Pressure.]

[Sidenote: Latent Energy.]

[Sidenote: Sympathetic Vibration.]

It will be readily understood that superphysical 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 be 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 performed. All who have much experience of spiritualistic
_séances_ 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. 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. Secondly,
there is what can best be described as an etheric pressure, somewhat
corresponding to, though 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
inter-penetrates matter in all states 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 play. 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. 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. 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.

[Sidenote: 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

[Sidenote: 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 form. It is in
this way that objects are sometimes brought almost instantaneously
from great distances at spiritualistic _séances_, 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 sieve, or of a gas through a
liquid in some chemical experiment.

[Sidenote: 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
disintegration, 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 form, 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 _séance_, 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; and this explains 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, returning to the etheric condition, rushes
back instantly to its source.

[Sidenote: Why Darkness is required.]

[Sidenote: Spirit Photographs.]

The reason why the beings directing a _séance_ find it easier to
operate in darkness or in very subdued light will now be manifest,
since their power would usually be insufficient to 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
_habitués_ of _séances_ 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. 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 touched.

When an Adept or pupil finds it necessary for any purpose to
materialize his Mâyâvirûpa or his astral body, he does not draw upon
either his own etheric double or any one else's, since he has been
taught how to extract the matter which he requires directly from the
astral light or even from the Âkâsha.

[Sidenote: Reduplication.]

Another phenomenon closely connected with this part of the subject is
that of reduplication, which is produced by simply forming in the
astral light a perfect mental image of the object to be copied, and
then gathering about that mould the necessary 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 reduce the matter required directly from the astral
light have sometimes borrowed it from the material of the original
article, which in this case would be correspondingly reduced in

[Sidenote: 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 an image of the
writing which he wished to appear upon it, and draw from the astral
light the matter wherewith to objectify that image; 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 them. 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 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 astral light 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 physical matter, could be drawn upon more

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 lie 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 sometimes produced in a few seconds at a _séance_.

When a picture has to be precipitated the method is precisely the
same, except that here it is absolutely necessary that the entire
scene should he visualized at once, and if many colours are required
there is of course 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.

[Sidenote: 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

[Sidenote: Levitation.]

An occurrence which occasionally takes place at _séances_, and more
frequently among eastern Yógîs, 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
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 Stonehenge.

[Sidenote: Spirit Lights.]

With the knowledge of the forces of nature which the resources of the
astral plane place at the command 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 wishes.

[Sidenote: 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.

[Sidenote: Transmutation.]

Most of the occurrences of the _séance_-room have now been referred
to, but there are one or two of the rarer phenomena of the outer world
which must not be left quite without mention in our list. The
transmutation of metals is commonly supposed to be a mere dream of the
mediæval 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 wished.

[Sidenote: 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 astral 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 an 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 astral body or perhaps even his
etheric double, forced by the guiding influences to take some form
other than his own. In fact the astral and physical bodies are so
intimately connected that it is impossible to touch the keynote of one
without immediately setting up exactly corresponding vibrations in the


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 by its development
to all these sciences. 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
Yoga. 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,
      But the LAW of GOOD shall stand.
    Its splendour glows and its influence grows
      As Nature's slow work appears,
    From the zoophyte small to the LORDS of all,
      Through kalpas and crores of years.

       *       *       *       *       *

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