THOUGHTS ON THE ELEMENTALS
[Lucifer, Vol. VI, No. 33, May, 1890, pp. 177-188]
[At the time when this essay was published in the pages of Lucifer, Annie Besant prefaced it with the following remarks: “H.P.B. being too ill to write her usual editorial, the following unpublished article, written by her more than two years ago, is selected to take its place.”
A number of years later, namely in June, 1896, Lucifer published an essay under the title of “ ‘Spirits’ of Various Kinds,” which turns out to be identical with the one spoken of above, but with a few additional paragraphs, mainly towards its end.
We publish “Thoughts on the Elementals” as it appeared in May 1890, inserting the added material wherever it is found in the later reprint.—Compiler.]
Years have been devoted by the writer to the study of those invisible Beings—conscious, semi-conscious and entirely senseless—called by a number of names in every country under the sun, and known under the generic name of “Spirits.” The nomenclature applied to these denizens of spheres good or bad in the Roman Catholic Church, alone, is—endless. The great kyriology of their symbolic names—is a study. Open any account of creation in the first Purâna that comes to hand, and see the variety of appellations bestowed upon these divine and semi-divine creatures (the product of the two kinds of creation—the Prakrita and the Vaikrita or Padma, the primary and the secondary), all-evolved from the body of Brahmâ. The Urdhvasrotas only,* of the third creation, embrace a variety of beings with characteristics and idiosyncracies sufficient for a life-study.
The same in the Egyptian, Chaldean, Greek, Phœnician or any other account. The hosts of those creatures are numberless. The old Pagans, however, and especially the Neo-Platonists
* The Urdhvasrota, the Gods, so called because the bare sight of aliment stands to them, in place of eating; “for there is satisfaction from the mere beholding of ambrosia,” says the commentator of the Vishnu-Purana.
of Alexandria knew what they believed, and discriminated between the orders. None regarded them from such a sectarian standpoint as do the Christian Churches. They dealt with them far more wisely, on the contrary, as they made a better and a greater discrimination between the natures of these beings than the Fathers of the Church did. According to the policy of the latter, all those Angels that were not recognized as the attendants upon the Jewish Jehovah—were proclaimed Devils.
The effects of this belief, afterwards erected into a dogma, we find asserting themselves now in the Karma of the many millions of Spiritualists, brought up and bred in the respective beliefs of their Churches. Though a Spiritualist may have divorced himself for years from theological and clerical beliefs; though he be a liberal or an illiberal Christian, a Deist or an Atheist, having rejected very wisely belief in devils, and too reasonable to regard his visitors as pure angels, has accepted what he thinks a reasonable mean ground—still he will acknowledge no other Spirits save those of the dead.
This is his Karma, and also that of the Churches collectively. In the latter such a stubborn fanaticism, such parti pris is only natural; it is their policy. In free Spiritualism, it is unpardonable. There cannot be two opinions upon this subject. It is either belief in, or a full rejection of the existence of any “Spirits.” If a man is a skeptic and an unbeliever, we have nothing to say. Once he believes in Spooks and Spirits at all—the question changes. Where is that man or woman free from prejudice and preconceptions, who can believe that in an infinite universe of life and being—let us say in our solar system alone—that in all this boundless space in which the Spiritualist locates his “Summerland”—there are only two orders of conscious beings—men and their spirits; embodied mortals and disembodied Immortals.
The future has in store for Humanity strange surprises, and Theosophy, or rather its adherents, will be vindicated fully in no very distant day. No use arguing upon a question that has been so fully discussed by Theosophists and brought only opprobrium, persecution, and enmity on the writers.
Therefore we will not go out of our way to say much more. The Elementals and the Elementaries of the Kabalists and Theosophists were sufficiently ridiculed. From Porphyry down to the demonologists of the past centuries, fact after fact was given, and proofs heaped upon proofs, but with as little effect as might be had from a fairy tale told in some nursery room.
A queer book that of the old Comte de Gabalis, immortalized by the Abbé de Villars, and now translated and published in Bath. Those humorously inclined are advised to read it, and to ponder over it. This advice is offered with the object of making a parallel. The writer read it years ago, and has read it now again with as much, and much more attention than formerly. Her humble opinion as regards the work is—if any one cares to hear it—that one may search for months and never find the demarcation in it between the “Spirits” of the séance-rooms and the Sylphs and Undines of the French satire.
There is a sinister ring in the merry quips and jests of its writer, who, while pointing the finger of ridicule at that which he believed, had probably a presentiment of his own speedy Karma* in the shape of assassination.
The way he introduces the Comte de Gabalis is worthy of attention.
I was astonished one Remarkable Day, when I saw a man come in of a most exalted mien; who, saluting me gravely, said to me in the French Tongue but, in the accent of a Foreigner, “Adore my son; adore the most great God of the Sages; and let not thy self be puffed up with Pride, that he sends to thee one of the children of Wisdom, to constitute thee a Fellow of their Society, and make thee partaker of the wonders of Omnipotency.”†
There is only one answer to be made to those who, taking
* The work was published in Paris in 1670, and in 1675 the author was cruelly murdered on his way to Lyons from Languedoc, his native country.
† Sub Mundanes; or the Elementaries of the Cabal: being the History of Spirits, reprinted from the Text of the Abbé De Villars, Physio-Astro-Mystic, wherein it is asserted that there are in existence on earth rational creatures besides man. Bath, Robert H. Fryer 1886.
advantage of such works, laugh at Occultism. “Servitissimo” gives it himself in his own chaffing way in his introductory “Letter to my Lord” in the above-named work.
I would have persuaded him [the author of Comte de Cabalis] to have changed the whole form of his work,” he writes, “for this drolling way of carrying it thus on does not to me seem proper to his subject. These mysteries of the Cabal are serious matters, which many of my friends do seriously study . . . . . the which are certainly most dangerous to jest with.
Verbum sat sapienti.
They are “dangerous,” most undeniably. But since history began to record thoughts and facts, one-half of Humanity has ever been sneering at the other half and ridiculing its most cherished beliefs. This, however, cannot change a fact into a fiction, nor can it destroy the Sylphs, Undines, and Gnomes, if any, in Nature; for, in league with Salamanders, the latter are more likely to destroy the unbelievers and damage Insurance companies, notwithstanding that these believe still less in revengeful Salamanders than in fire produced by chance and accident.
Theosophists believe in Spirits no less than Spiritualists do, but, as dissimilar in their variety as are the feathered tribes in the air. There are bloodthirsty hawks and vampire bats among them, as there are doves and nightingales. They believe in “Angels,” for many have seen them
“. . . . . by the sick one’s pillow—
Whose was the soft tone and the soundless tread?
Where smitten hearts were drooping like the willow, They stood between the living and the dead.”
But these were not the three-toed materializations of the modern medium. And if our doctrines were all piece-mealed by the “drolleries” of a de Villars, they would and could not interfere with the claims of the Occultists that their teachings are historical and scientific facts, whatever the garb they are presented in to the profane. Since the first kings began reigning “by the grace of God,” countless generations of buffoons appointed to amuse Majesties and Highnesses have passed away; and most of these graceless individuals had more wisdom at the bottoms of their haunches and at
their fingers’ ends, than all their royal masters put together had in their brainless heads. They alone had the inestimable privilege of speaking truth at the Courts, and those truths have always been laughed at . . .
This is a digression; but such works as the Comte de Gabalis have to be quietly analyzed and their true character shown, lest they should be made to serve as a sledge hammer to pulverize those works which do not assume a humorous tone in speaking of mysterious, if not altogether sacred, things, and say what they have to. And it is most postitively maintained that there are more truths uttered in the witty railleries and gasconades of that “satire,” full of preeminently occult and actual facts, than most people, and Spiritualists especially, would care to learn.
One single fact instanced, and shown to exist now, at the present moment among the Mediums will be sufficient to prove that we are right.
It has been said elsewhere, that white magic differed very little from practices of sorcery except in effects and results—good or bad motive being everything. Many of the preliminary rules and conditions to enter societies of adepts, whether of the Right or the Left Path, are also identical in many things. Thus Gabalis says to the author: “The Sages will never admit you into their society if you do not renounce from this very present a Thing which cannot stand in competition with Wisdom. You must renounce all carnal Commerce with Women” (p. 27).
This is sine qua non with practical Occultists—Rosicrucians or Yogis, Europeans or Asiatics. But it is also one with the Dugpas and Jadoos of Bhutan and India, one with the Voodoos and Nagals of New Orleans and Mexico,* with an additional clause to it, however, in the statutes of the latter, and this is to have carnal commerce with male and
* We speak here of the well-known ancient statutes in the Sorcery of the Asiatics as in the Demonology of Europe. The Witch had to renounce her husband, the Wizard his marital rights over his legitimate human wife, as the Dugpa renounces to this day commerce with living women; and, as the New Orleans Voodoo does, when in the exercise of his powers. Every Kabalist knows this.
Female Jinns, Elementals or Demons, call them by whatever names you will.*
“I am making known nothing to you but the Principles of the Antient Cabal,” explains de Gabalis to his pupil. And he informs him that the Elementals (whom he calls Elementaries), the inhabitants of the four Elements, namely, the Sylphs, Undines, Salamanders, and Gnomes, live many Ages, but that their souls are not immortal. “In respect of Eternity . . . . they must finally resolve into nothing.” . . . . “Our Fathers, the philosophers,” goes on the soi-disant Rosicrucian, “speaking to God Face to Face, complained to him of the Unhappiness of these People (the Elementals), and God, whose Mercy is without Bounds, revealed to them that it was not impossible to find out a Remedy for this Evil. He inspired them, that by the same means as Man, by the Alliance which he contracted with God, has been made Partaker of the Divinity: the Sylphs, the Gnomes, the Nymphs, and the Salamanders, by the Alliance which they might Contract with Man, might be made Partakers of Immortality. So a she-Nymph or a Sylphide becomes Immortal and capable of the Blessing to which we aspire, when they shall be so happy as to be married to a Sage; a Gnome or a Sylphe ceases to be Mortal from the moment that he Espouses one of our Daughters.”
Having delivered himself of this fine piece of advice on practical sorcery, the “Sage” closes as follows:
“No, no! Our Sages have never erred so as to attribute the Fall of the first Angels to their Love of women, no more than they have put Men under the Power of the Devil . . . . There was nothing criminal in all that. They were Sylphs which endeavored to become Immortal. Their innocent Pursuits, far enough from being able to scandalize the Philosophers, have appeared so Just to us that we are all
* The Jewish Kabalist of Poland and Galicia calls the female Spirit of Nergal, when bent on revenge, to his help and to infuse into him power. The Mussulman Sorcerer a female Jinni; a Russian Koldun a deceased Witch (vyed’ma). The Chinese maleficer has a female Huen in his house at his command. The above intercourse is said to give magic powers and a Supernal Force.
resolved by common consent utterly to Renounce Women; and entirely to give ourselves to Immortalizing of the Nymphs and Sylphs” (p. 33).
And so are certain mediums, especially those of America and France, who boast of Spirit husbands and wives. We know such mediums personally, men and women, and it is not those of Holland who will deny the fact, with a recent event among their colleagues and coreligionists fresh in their memory, concerning some who escaped death and madness only by becoming Theosophists. It is only by following our advice that they got finally rid of their spiritual consorts of both sexes.
Shall we be told in this case also, that it is a calumny and an invention? Then let those outsiders who are inclined to see, with the Spiritualists, nought but a holy, an innocent pastime at any rate, in that nightly and daily intercourse with the so-called “Spirits of the Dead,” watch. Let those who ridicule our warnings and doctrine and make merry over them—explain after analysing it dispassionately, the mystery and the rationale of such facts as the existence in the minds of certain Mediums and Sensitives of their actual marriage with male and female Spirits. Explanations of lunacy and hallucination will never do, when placed face to face with the undeniable facts of SPIRIT-MATERIALIZATIONS. If there are “Spirits” capable of drinking tea and wine, of eating apples and cakes, of kissing and touching the visitors of séance-rooms, all of which facts have been proven as well as the existence of those visitors themselves—why should not those same Spirits perform matrimonial duties as well? And who are these “Spirits” and what is their nature? Shall we be told by the Spiritists that the spooks of Mme. de Sévigné or of Delphine—,—one of which authoresses we abstain from naming out of regard to the surviving relatives —were the actual “Spirits” of those two deceased ladies! That the latter felt a “Spiritual affinity” for an idiotic, old and slovenly Canadian medium and thus became his happy wife, as he boasts publicly, the result of which union is a herd of “spiritual” children bred with this holy Spirit? And who is the astral husband—the nightly consort of a well-
known New York lady medium whom the writer knows personally? Let the reader get every information he can about this last development of Spiritual (?!) intercourse. Let him think seriously over this, and then read the Comte de Gabalis, especially the Appendix to it, with its Latin portions; and then, perchance, he will be better able to appreciate the full gravity of the supposed chaff, in the work in question,* and understand the true value of the raillery in it. He will then see clearly the ghastly connexion there is between the Fauns, Satyrs and Incubi of St. Hieronymus, the Sylphs and Nymphs of the Count de Gabalis, the “Elementaries” of the Kabalists—and all those poetical, spiritual “Lillies” of the “Harris Community,” the astral “Napoleons,” and other departed Don Juans from the “Summerland,” the “spiritual affinities from beyond the grave” of the modern world of mediums.
Notwithstanding this ghastly array of facts, we are told week after week in the Spiritual journals that, at best, we know not what we are talking about. “Platon”—(a presumptuous pseudonym to assume, by the by) a dissatisfied ex-theosophist, tells the Spiritualist (see Light, Jan. 1, 1887) that not only is there no reincarnation—because the astral “spirit” of a deceased friend told him so (a valuable and trustworthy evidence indeed), but that all our philosophy is proved worthless by that very fact! Karma, we are notified, is a tomfoolery. “Without Karma reincarnation cannot stand,” and, since his astral informant “has inquired in
* “Sub-Mundanes; or The Elementaries of the Cabala”; with an illustrative Appendix from the work “Demoniality” or “Incubi and Succubi,” by the Rev. Father Sinistrari, of Amando. The answer given (p. 133) by an alleged devil, to St. Anthony respecting the corporeity of the Incubi and Succubi would do as well now, perhaps: “The blessed St. Anthony” having inquired who he was, the little dwarf of the woods answered. “I am a mortal, and one of the inhabitants of the Wilderness, whom gentility, under its varied delusions, worships under the names of Fauns, Satyrs and Incubi” or “Spirits of the Dead” might have added this Elemental, the vehicle of some Elementary. This is a narrative of St. Hieronymus, who fully believed in it, and so do we, with certain amendments.
the realm of his present existence as to the theory of reincarnation, and he says he cannot get one fact or a trace of one as to the truth of it . . .” this “astral” informant has to be believed. He cannot lie. For “a man who has studied chemistry has a right to an opinion, and earned a right to speak upon its various theories and facts . . . . especially if he, during earth-life, was respected and admired for his researches into the mysteries of nature, and for his truthfulness.”*
Let us hope that the “astrals” of such eminent chemists as Messrs. Crookes and Butleroff—when disembodied will abstain from returning too often to talk with mortals. For having studied chemistry so much and so well, their post-mortem communications would acquire a reputation for infallibility more than would be good, perhaps, for the progress of mankind, and the development of its intellectual powers. But the proof is sufficiently convincing, no doubt, for the present generation of Spiritualists, since the name assumed by the “astral control of a friend” was that of a truthful and honorable man. It thus appears that an experience of over forty years with Spirits, who lied more than they told truth, and did far more mischief than good— goes for nought. And thus the “Spirit-husbands and -wives” must be also believed when they say they are this or that. Because, as “Platon” justly argues: “There is no progress without knowledge, and the knowledge of truth founded upon fact is progress of the highest degree, and if astrals progress, as the spirit says they do, the philosophy of Occultism in regard to reincarnation is wrong upon this point; and how do we know that the many other points are correct, as they are without proof?”
This is high philosophy and logic. “The end of wisdom is consultation and deliberation” — with “Spirits,” Demosthenes might have added, had he known where to
* The arguments and evidence brought to bear against the philosophy of the East are curious. Surely this is a good proof that the Occultists are right in saying that most of those “Spirits” are not even “lying” Spirits, but simply empty, senseless shells talking sense only with the help of the brains of the sitters and the brain of the medium as a connecting link.
look for them—but all this still leaves the question, “who are those spirits”—an open one. For, “where doctors disagree,” there must be room for doubt. And besides the ominous fact that Spirits are divided in their views upon reincarnation—just as Spiritualists and Spiritists are, “every man is not a proper champion for the truth, nor fit to take up the gauntlet in the cause of verity,” says Sir T. Browne. This is no disrespectful cut at “Platon,” whoever he may be, but an axiom. An eminent man of science, Prof. W. Crookes, once gave a very wise definition of Truth, by showing how necessary it is to draw a distinction between truth and accuracy. A person may be very truthful—he observed —that is to say, may be filled with the desire both to receive truth and to teach it; but unless that person have great natural powers of observation, or have been trained by scientific study of some kind to observe, note, compare, and report accurately and in detail, he will not be able to give a trustworthy, accurate and therefore true account of his experiences. His intentions may be honest, but if he have a spark of enthusiasm, he will be always apt to proceed to generalizations, which may be both false and dangerous. In short as another eminent man of science, Sir John Herschel, puts it, “The grand and, indeed, the only character of truth, is its capability of enduring the test of universal experience, and coming unchanged out of every possible form of fair discussion.”
Now very few Spiritualists, if any, unite in themselves the precious qualities demanded by Prof. Crookes; in other words their truthfulness is always tempered by enthusiasm; therefore, it has led them into error for the last forty years. In answer to this we may be told and with great justice, it must be confessed, that this scientific definition cuts both ways; i.e., that Theosophists are, to say the least, in the same box with Spiritualists; that they are enthusiastic, and therefore also credulous. But in the present case the situation is changed. The question is not what either Spiritualists or Theosophists think personally of the nature of Spirits and their degree of truthfulness; but what the “universal experience,” demanded by Sir John Herschel, says.
Spiritualism is a philosophy (if one, which so far we deny) of but yesterday. Occultism and the philosophy of the East, whether true absolutely, or relatively, are teachings coming to us from an immense antiquity. And since—whether in the writings and traditions of the East, in the numberless Fragments, and MSS. left to us by the Neo-Platonic Theosophists; in the life observations of such philosophers as Porphyry and Iamblichus; in those of the medieval Theosophists and so on, ad infinitum;—since we find in all these, the same identical testimony as to the extremely various and often dangerous nature of all those Genii, Demons, Gods, Lares, and “Elementaries,” now all confused into one heap under the name of “Spirits,” we cannot fail to recognize in all this something “enduring the test of universal experience,” and “coming unchanged” out of every possible form of observation and experience.
Theosophists give only the product of an experience hoary with age; Spiritualists hold to their own views, born some forty years ago, and based on their unflinching enthusiasm and emotionalism. But let any impartial, fair-minded witness to the doings of the “Spirits” in America, one that is neither a Theosophist, nor a Spiritualist, be asked: “What may be the difference between the vampire-bride from whom Apollonius of Tyana is said to have delivered a young friend of his, whom the nightly succubus was slowly killing, and the Spirit-wives and husbands of the mediums?” Surely none—would be the correct answer. Those who do not shudder at this hideous revival of mediaeval Demonology and Witchcraft, may, at any rate, understand the reason why of all the numerous enemies of Theosophy—which unveils the mysteries of the “Spirit World” and unmasks the Spirits masquerading under eminent names—none are so bitter and so implacable as the Spiritualists of Protestant, and the Spiritists of Roman Catholic countries.
“Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens cui lumen ademptum . . .”* is the fittest epithet to be applied to most
* [Virgil, Aeneid, III, 658: “A monster awful, shapeless, huge, bereft of light,” said of Polyphemus.—Compiler.]
of the “Lillies” and “Joes” of the Spirit World. But we do not mean at all—following in this the example of Spiritualists, who are determined to believe in no other “Spirits” than those of the “dear departed” ones—to maintain that save Nature Spirits or Elementals, Shells, or Elementaries, and “Gods” and genii, there are no other Spirits from the invisible realms; or no really holy and grand Spirits—who communicate with mortals. For it is not so. What the Occultists and Kabalists said all along, and the Theosophists now repeat, is, that holy Spirits will not visit promiscuous séance rooms, nor will they intermarry with living men and women.
Belief in the existence of invisible but too often present visitants from better and worse worlds than our own, is too deeply rooted in men’s hearts to be easily torn out by the cold hand of Materialism, or even of Science. Charges of superstition, coupled with ridicule, have at best served to breed additional hypocrisy and social cant, among the educated classes. For there are few men, if any, at the bottom of whose souls belief in such superhuman and supersensuous creatures does not lie latent, to awaken into existence at the first good opportunity. Many are those Men of Science who, having abandoned with their nursery pinafores belief in Kings of Elves and Fairy Queens, and who would blush at being accused of believing in witchcraft, have, nevertheless, fallen victims to the wiles of “Joes,” “Daisies,” and other spooks and “controls.” And once they have crossed the Rubicon, they fear ridicule no longer. These Scientists defend as desperately the reality of materialized and other Spirits, as if these were a mathematical law. Those soul-aspirations that seem innate in human nature, and that slumber only to awaken to intensified activity; those yearnings to cross the boundary of matter that make many a hardened skeptic turn into a rabid believer at the first appearance of that which to him is undeniable proof—all these complete psychological phenomena of human temperament—have our modern physiologists found a key to them? Will the verdict remain “non compos mentis” or “victim to fraud and psychology”? etc., etc. When we say with regard
to unbelievers that they are “a handful” the statement is no underevaluation; for it is not those who shout the loudest against degrading superstitions, the “Occult craze” and so on, who are the strongest in their skepticism. At the first opportunity, they will be foremost amongst those who fall and surrender. And when one counts seriously the ever-increasing millions of the Spiritualists, Occultists, and Mystics in Europe and America, one may well refuse to lament with Carrington over the “Departure of the Fairies.” They are gone, says the poet:
. . . . .“They are flown,
Beautiful fictions of our fathers, wove
In Superstition’s web when Time was young,
And fondly loved and cherished—they are flown,
Before the Wand of Science!. . . .”
We maintain that they have done nothing of the kind; and that on the contrary it is these “Fairies”—the beautiful, far more than the hideous—who are seriously threatening under their new masks and names to disarm Science and break its “Wand.”
Belief in “Spirits” is legitimate, because it rests on the authority of experiment and observation; it vindicates, moreover, another belief, also regarded as a superstition: namely, Polytheism. The latter is based upon a fact of nature: Spirits mistaken for Gods, have been seen in every age by men—hence, belief in many and various Gods. Monotheism, on the other hand, rests upon a pure abstraction. Who has seen GOD—that God we mean, the Infinite and the Omnipotent, the one about whom Monotheists talk so much? Polytheism—once man claims the right of divine interference on his behalf—is logical and consistent with the philosophies of the East, all of which, whether Pantheistic or Deistic, proclaim the ONE an infinite abstraction, an absolute Something which utterly transcends the conception of the finite. Surely such a creed is more philosophical than that religion, whose theology, proclaiming in one place God, a mysterious and even Incomprehensible Being, whom “no man shall see and live” (Exodus, xxxiii, 20), shows him at
the same time so human and so petty a God as to concern himself with the breeches* of his chosen people, while neglecting to say anything definite about the immortality of their souls, or their survival after death!
Thus, belief in a Host and Hosts of Spiritual entities, dwelling on various planes and spheres in the Universe, in conscious intra-Kosmic Beings, in fact, is logical and reasonable, while belief in an extra-Kosmic God is an absurdity. And if Jehovah who was so jealous about his Jews and commanded that they should have no other God save himself, was generous enough to bestow upon Pharaoh Moses (“See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron. . . . . thy prophet”—Exodus, vii, 1) as the Egyptian monarch’s deity, whyn should not “Pagans” be allowed the choice of their own Gods? Once we believe in the existence of our Egos, we may well believe in Dhyan Chohans. As Hare has it: “man is a mixed being made up of a spiritual and of a fleshly body; the angels are pure Spirits, herein nearer to God, only that they are created and finite in all respects, whereas God is infinite and uncreated.” And if God is the latter, then God is not a “Being” but an incorporeal Principle, not to be blasphemously anthropomorphized. The angels or Dhyan Chohans are the “Living Ones”; that Principle, the “Self-Existent,” the eternal, and all pervading CAUSE of all causes, is only the abstract noumenon of the “River of Life,” whose ever rolling waves create angels and men alike, the former being simply “men of a superior kind,” as Young intuitionally remarks.
The masses of mankind are thus well justified in believing in a plurality of Gods; nor is it by calling them now, spirits, angels, and demons, that Christian nations are less polytheistic than their Pagan brethren. The twenty or thirty millions of the now existing Spiritualists and Spiritists, minister to their dead as jealously as the modern Chinamen and the
* “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach” (Exodus xxviii, 42). GOD a linendraper and a tailor!!
Hindus minister to their Houen,* Bhûts, and Pisachas—the Pagan, however, only to keep them quiet from post-mortem mischief.
[The next three paragraphs were added at some later date:]
On the other hand, we have demonstrated fully in the Proem to The Secret Doctrine that the worship of angels and spirits by the Roman Catholics and the Christians of the Oriental Churches, representing several hundred millions of men, women and children, who worship armies of Saints besides—is as idolatrous as any idol-worship in India and China. The only difference one can see is that the Pagans are sincere in calling their religion polytheism, whereas the Churches—in company with the Protestant Spiritualists, whether consciously or otherwise—put a mask on theirs by claiming for it the title of a monotheistic Church.
There is a philosophy in dealing with the question of spirits in Indian “idolatry” that is conspicuously absent from the Western definitions of them. The Devas are, so to say, the embodied powers of states of matter, more refined than those with which we are familiar.† In the Vedas the Gods are mentioned as being eleven in number, where each one of the eleven stands as the representative of the class to which he belongs. Each of these classes again is subdivided into three, thus yielding the thirty-three classes of primary Gods, common alike to the Hindu and Buddhistic systems,‡ as may be seen on reference to Beal’s Catena of Chinese Buddhism. Each one of these thirty-three, subdivided again, admits of further division almost indefinitely like the substantial monads of Leibnitz; a fact which is expressed by the
* The Houen in China is “the second Soul, or human Vitality, the principle, which animates the ghost” as explained by missionaries from China; simply the astral. The Houen, however, is as distinct from the “Ancestor” as the Bhuts are from the Pitris in India.
† See The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, Book I, Part III: “Gods, Monads and Atoms,” pp. 610 et seq.
‡ See Chinese, Burmese, and Siamese Mythologies.
number of the Gods being given by the Hindus as thirty-three crores (33 x 10,000,000). The key to the esoteric significance of these Gods would enable modern physical science, and chemistry especially, to achieve a progress that they may not otherwise reach in a thousand years to come, as every God has a direct connection with, and a representative in, its bodily fabric, so to say, in invisible atoms and visible molecules—physical and chemical particles.*
Although these Gods are said to be “superior to man in some respects,” it must not be concluded that the latent potencies of the human spirit are at all inferior to those of the Devas. Their faculties are more expanded than those of ordinary man; but with the ultimate effect of prescribing a limit to their expansion, to which the human spirit is not subjected. This fact has been well symbolized in the Mahâbhârata by the single-handed victory of Arjuna, under the name of Nara (a man) over the whole host of Devas and Deva-yonis (the lower Elementals). And we find reference to the same power in man in the Bible, for St. Paul distinctly says to his audience “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (I Corinth., vi, 3 ), and speaks of the astral body of man, the soma psychikon, and the spiritual body, soma pneumatikon, which “hath not flesh and bones,” but has still an external form.
[The following couple of sentences were added at some later date:]
An Adept, by putting himself under a special course of training and initiation, may attain the status of a Deva, but by such a course he is debarred from further progress along the true path. (See “The ‘Elixir of Life’ “ in Five Years of Theosophy.)† The story of Nahusa gives a glimpse of the truth as known to the Initiates.
* See again “Gods, Monads, and Atoms.”
† [The remarkable Essay on “The Elixir of Life” appeared originally in The Theosophist,” Vol. III, March and April, 1882, and was written under dictation by Godolphin Mitford who used on other occasions the pseudonym of Moorad Alee Beg or Mirza Murad Ali Beg. It has been reprinted several times in various publications. as well as a separate pamphlet.—Compiler.]
The order of Beings called the Devas—whose variety is so great that no description of it can be attempted here—is given in some Occult treatises. There are high Devas and lower ones, higher Elementals and those far below man and even animals. But all these have been or will be men, and the former will again be reborn on higher planets and in other manvantaras. One thing may however, be mentioned. The Pitris, or our “lunar ancestors,” and the communication of mortals with them, have been several times mentioned by Spiritualists as an argument that Hindoos do believe in, and even worship “Spirits.” This is a great mistake. It is not the Pitris individually that were ever consulted, but their stored wisdom collectively; that wisdom being shown mystically and allegorically on the bright side of the moon.
What the Brahmans invoke are not “the spirits” of the departed ancestors—the full significance of which name will be found in Vol. II of The Secret Doctrine, where the genesis of man is given. The most highly developed human spirit will always declare, while leaving its tenement of clay “nacha punarâvarti”—“I shall not come back”—and is thus placed beyond the reach of any living man. But to comprehend fully the nature of the “lunar” ancestors and their connection with the “moon” would necessitate the revelation of occult secrets which are not intended for public hearing. Therefore no more will be given than the few hints that follow.
One of the names of the moon in Sanskrit is Soma, which is also the name, as is well known, of the mystic drink of the Brahmans and shows the connection between the two. A “soma-drinker” attains the power of placing himself in direct rapport with the bright side of the moon, thus deriving inspiration from the concentrated intellectual energy of the blessed ancestors. This “concentration,” and the moon being a storehouse of that Energy, is the secret, the meaning of which must not be revealed, beyond the mere fact of mentioning the continuous pouring out upon the earth from the bright side of the orb of a certain influence.
This which seems one stream (to the ignorant) is of a dual nature—one giving life and wisdom, the other being
lethal. He who can separate the former from the latter, as Kalahamsa separated the milk from the water, which was mixed with it, thus showing great wisdom—will have his reward. The word Pitri does mean, no doubt, the ancestor; but that which is invoked is the lunar wisdom esoterically and not the “Lunar ancestor.” It is this Wisdom that was invoked by Qu-ta-my, the Chaldean, in the Nabathean Agriculture, who wrote down “the revelations of the Moon.” But there is the other side to this. If most of the Brahmanical religious ceremonials are connected with the full moon so do the dark ceremonials of the sorcerers take place at the new moon and its last quarter. For similarly when the lost human being, or sorcerer, attains the consummation of his depraved career, all the evil Karma, and the evil inspiration, comes down upon him as a dark incubus of iniquity from “the dark side of the moon,” which is a terra incognita to Science, but a well explored land to the Adept. The Sorcerer, the Dugpa, who always performs his hellish rites on the day of the new moon, when the benignant influence of the Pitris is at its lowest ebb, crystallizes some of the Satanic energy of his predecessors in evil, and turns it to his own vile ends; while the Brahman, on the other hand, pursues a corresponding benevolent course with the energy bequeathed him by his Pitris . . . . Therefore, this is the true Spiritualism of which the heart and soul have been entirely missed by the modern Spiritualists. When the day of the full revelation comes, it will be seen that the so-called “superstitions” of Brahmanism and the ancient Pagans in general were merely natural and psychical sciences, veiled from the profane eyes of the ignorant multitudes, for fear of desecration and abuse, by allegorical and symbolical disguises that modern science has failed to discover.
We maintain then that no Theosophist has ever believed in, or helped to spread “degrading superstitions,” any more than has any other philosophical or scientific Society.
[The following paragraph was added at some later date:]
If some Theosophists—most of them indeed—openly confess their belief in Dhyân Chohans (disembodied men from
other preceding Manvantaras), in Pitris (our real, genuine ancestors), and the hosts of other spirits—mundane, sub-mundane, and supra-mundane—they do no worse than the whole Christian world did, does, and will do. In this way they are far more honourable than those who hide that belief and keep it sub rosa.
The only difference between the “Spirits” of other Societies, Sects and Bodies, and ours lies in their names, and in dogmatic assertions with regard to their natures. In those whom the millions of Spiritualists call the “Spirits of the Dead,” and in whom the Roman Church sees the devils of the Host of Satan—we see neither. We call them, Dhyan-Chohans, Devas, Pitris, Elementals high and low—and know them as the “Gods” of the Gentiles, imperfect at times, never wholly. Each order has its name, it place, its functions assigned to it in nature; and each host is the complement and crown of its own particular sphere, as man is the complement and crown of his globe; hence, a natural and logical necessity in Kosmos.
H. P. B.