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The Secret Doctrine by H P Blavatsky


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First Edition 1913

Second ” 1919

Third ” 1923

Fourth ” 1948


THIS book has been in contemplation, and even in process of construction, for

the last ten or twelve years, but only now has it been found possible to publish

it. It has lost nothing by the delay, for a student of the occult never ceases

to learn, and I know a good deal more in various ways now than I did twelve

years ago, even though I see still more clearly than ever what an infinity of

further knowledge stretches before us for our acquiring.

Much of what is written here has appeared in the form of articles in The

Theosophist and elsewhere ; but all has been revised, and considerable additions

have been made. I trust that it may help some brothers to realise the importance

of that far larger part of life which is beyond our physical sight -- to

understand that, as the Lord Buddha Himself has taught us:

The unseen things are more.










A Wider Outlook. The Fourth Dimension. The Higher World.

The Purpose of Life 14





Radiations. The Deity of the Solar System. Different Types of Matter.

The Living Centres. Their Influence. Liberty of Action. 29



The Heat of the Sun. The Willow-Leaves. Vitality. The Vitality Globule.

The Absorption of Vitality. Vitality and Health. Vitality not Magnetism 44



The Weather. Rocks. Trees. The Seven Types. Animals. Human Beings. Travel 64



An Evolution Apart. Lines of Evolution. Overlapping. Fairies. National Types.

On a Sacred Mountain in Ireland. Fairy Life and Death. Their Pleasures. The

Romances of Fairyland. Their Attitude towards Man. Glamour. Instances of

Friendship. Water-Spirits. Freshwater Fairies. Sylphs. Their Amusements.

An Abnormal Development. The Advantages of Studying Them 84



Our Great Cathedrals. Temples. Sites and Relics. Ruins. Modern Cities. Public

Buildings. Cemeteries. Universities and Schools. Libraries, Museums and

Galleries. The Stock-yards of Chicago. Special Places. Sacred Mountains. Sacred

Rivers 125



The Hierarchy. The Three Paths. Christian Magic. The Mass. Ordination. The

Anglican Church. The Music. The Thought-Forms. The Effect of Devotion. Holy

Water. Baptism. Union is Strength. Consecration. The Bells. Incense. Services

for the Dead. Other Religions. The Orders of the Clergy 154



Sound, Colour and Form. Religious Music. Singing. Military Music. Sounds

in Nature. In Domestic Life. Noises 195



Race Prejudice. Popular Prejudice. Political Prejudice. Government. Religious

Prejudice. Class Prejudice. Public Standards. Caste Prejudice. The Duty of

Freedom. Business Methods. The Results of Deceit. Prejudice against Persons.

The Influence of Friends. Popular Superstitions. The Fear of Gossip. A Better

Aspect 211



A Funeral. The Disposal of the Dead Body. A Surgical Operation. A

Lecture. A Political Meeting. Crowds. A Séance. A Religious Revival. A

Wave of Patriotism. War Catastrophes 240



Sensitive People. A Remarkable Case. The Vision Investigated. Writing a Book 284




Protective Shells. The Etheric Shell. Shields. A Warning. The Astral Shell.

The Mental Shell. The Best Use of a Shell. A Beautiful Story. The Better Way 333






Food. Intoxicating Liquors. Flesh-Eating. Smoking. Drugs. Cleanliness.

Occult Hygiene. Physical Exercise. Reading and Study. System and

Thoroughness. Novel and Newspaper-Reading. Speech. Meditation 355



Houses. Streets. Pictures. Curiosities. Books. Furnishing. Jewellery. Talismans.


Things We Carry About. Money. Clothing 390



Thought-forms. Moods. Recurrent Thoughts. Falling in Love. Unset Blossom.

Occultism and Marriage. Changes in Consciousness 422



Children's Games. Sport. Fishing. Horse. Racing. Gambling. The Theatre 438





The Interrelation of Men. The Duty of Happiness Peace 453



The Realm of Thought. The Effects of Thought. The Thought-Wave. The

Thought-Form. What We can do by Thought. The Responsibility of Thought 471



Work for the Poor. The Force of the Master. The Manufacture of Talismans.

Varieties of Talismans. Demagnetisation. Do Little Things Well. Writing a

Letter. Work during Sleep 501



Church Hymns and Rituals. Congregations. Monasteries. Effect upon the

Dead. Saving Souls. People who Dislike Ceremonies. Theosophical Meetings 531



The Duty of Parents. The Plasticity of Childhood. The Influence of Parents.

The Aura of a Child. Carelessness of Parents. The Necessity for Love.

Religious Training. Physical Training 552



Domestic Animals. Birds. Plants. Nature-Spirits. Inanimate Surroundings. A

Ship. Machines. Unlucky Ships. Stone used in Building. Sea-Sickness 584





A Summary. The Future 605





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



THE term ` occultism' is one which has been much misunderstood. In the mind of

the ignorant it was, even recently, synonymous with magic, and its students were

supposed to be practitioners of the black art, veiled in flowing robes of

scarlet covered with cabalistic signs, sitting amidst uncanny surroundings with

a black cat as a familiar, compounding unholy decoctions by the aid of satanic


Even now, and among those whom education has raised above such superstition as

this, there still remains a good deal of misapprehension. For them its

derivation from the Latin word occultus ought to explain at once that it is the

science of the hidden; but they often regard it contemptuously as nonsensical

and unpractical, as connected with dreams and fortune-telling, with hysteria and

necromancy, with the search for the elixir of life and the philosopher' s stone.

Students, who should know better, perpetually speak as though the hidden side of

things were intentionally concealed, as though knowledge with regard to it ought

to be in the hands of all men, but was being deliberately withheld by the

caprice or selfishness of a few; whereas the fact is that nothing is or can be

hidden from us except by our own limitations, and that for every man as he

evolves the world grows wider and wider, because he is able to see more and more

of its grandeur and its loveliness.

As an objection against this statement may be cited the well-known fact that, at

each of the great Initiations which mark the advance of the neophyte along the

path of the higher progress, a definite new block of knowledge is given to him.

That is quite true, but the knowledge can be given only because the recipient

has evolved to the point at which he can grasp it. It is no more being withheld

from ordinary humanity than the knowledge of conic sections is being withheld

from the child who is still struggling with the multiplication-table. When that

child reaches the level at which he can comprehend quadratic equations, the

teacher is ready to explain to him the rules which govern them. In exactly the

same way, when a man has qualified himself for the reception of the information

given at a certain Initiation, he is forthwith initiated. But the only way to

attain the capacity to imbibe that higher knowledge is to begin by trying to

understand our present conditions, and to order our lives intelligently in view

of the facts which we find.

Occultism, then, is the study of the hidden side of nature; or rather, it is the

study of the whole of nature, instead of only that small part of it which comes

under the investigation of modern science. At the present stage of our

development, by far the greater part of nature is entirely unknown to the

majority of mankind, because they have as yet unfolded only a minute proportion

of the faculties which they possess. The ordinary man, therefore, is basing his

philosophy (so far as he has any) upon entirely inadequate grounds; his actions

are moulded more or less in accordance with the few laws of nature which he

knows, and consequently both his theory of life and his daily practice are

necessarily inaccurate. The occultist adopts a far more comprehensive view; he

takes into account those forces of the higher worlds whose action is hidden from

the materialist, and so he moulds his life in obedience to the entire code of

Nature' s laws, instead of only by occasional reference to a minute fragment of


It is difficult for the man who knows nothing of the occult to realise how

great, how serious and how all-pervading are his own limitations. The only way

in which we can adequately symbolise them is to suppose some form of

consciousness still more limited than our own, and to think in what directions

it would differ from ours. Suppose it were possible that a consciousness could

exist capable of appreciating only solid matter-- the liquid and gaseous forms

of matter being to it as entirely non-existent as are the etheric and astral and

mental forms to the ordinary man. We can readily see how for such a

consciousness any adequate conception of the world in which we live would be

impossible. Solid matter, which alone could be perceived by it, would constantly

be found to be undergoing serious modifications, about which no rational theory

could be formed.

For example, whenever a shower of rain took place, the solid matter of the earth

would undergo change; it would in many cases become both softer and heavier when

charged with moisture, but the reason of such a change would necessarily be

wholly incomprehensible to the consciousness which we are supposing. The wind

might lift clouds of sand and transfer them from one place to another; but such

motion of solid matter would be entirely inexplicable to one who had no

conception of the existence of the air. Without considering more examples of

what is already so obvious, we see clearly how hopelessly inadequate would be

such an idea of the world as would be attainable by this consciousness limited

to solid matter. What we do not realise so readily, however, is that our present

consciousness falls just as far short of that of the developed man as this

supposed consciousness would fall short of that which we now possess.

Theosophical students are at least theoretically acquainted with the idea that

to everything there is a hidden side; and they also know that in the great

majority of cases this unseen side is of far greater importance than that which

is visible to the physical eye.

To put the same idea from another point of view, the senses, by means of which

we obtain all our information about external objects, are as yet imperfectly

developed; therefore the information obtained is partial. What we see in the

world about us is by no means all that there is to see, and a man who will take

the trouble to cultivate his senses will find that, in proportion as he

succeeds, life will become fuller and richer for him. For the lover of nature,

of art, of music, a vast field of incredibly intensified and exalted pleasure

lies close at hand, if he will fit himself to enter upon it. Above all, for the

lover of his fellow-man there is the possibility of far more intimate

comprehension and therefore far wider usefulness.

We are only halfway up the ladder of evolution at present, and so our senses are

only half-evolved. But it is possible for us to hurry up that ladder-- possible,

by hard work, to make our senses now what all men' s senses will be in the

distant future. The man who has succeeded in doing this is often called a seer

or a clairvoyant.

A fine word that-- clairvoyant. It means ` one who sees clearly' ; but it has

been horribly misused and degraded, so that people associate it with all sorts

of trickery and imposture-- with gypsies who for sixpence will tell a

maid-servant what is the colour of the hair of the duke who is coming to marry

her, or with establishments in Bond Street where for a guinea fee the veil of

the future is supposed to be lifted for more aristocratic clients.

All this is irregular and unscientific; in many cases it is mere charlatanry and

bare-faced robbery. But not always; to foresee the future up to a certain point

is a possibility; it can be done, and it has been done, scores of times; and

some of these irregular practitioners unquestionably do at times possess flashes

of higher vision, though usually they cannot depend upon having them when they

want them.

But behind all this vagueness there is a bed-rock of fact-- something which can

be approached rationally and studied scientifically. It is as the result of many

years of such study and experiment that I state emphatically what I have written

above-- that it is possible for men to develop their senses until they can see

much more of this wonderful and beautiful world in which we live than is ever

suspected by the untrained average man, who lives contentedly in the midst of

Cimmerean darkness and calls it light.

Two thousand and five hundred years ago the greatest of Indian teachers, Gautama

the BUDDHA, said to His disciples: ` Do not complain and cry and pray, but open

your eyes and see. The truth is all about you, if you will only take the bandage

from your eyes and look; and it is so wonderful, so beautiful, so far beyond

anything that men have ever dreamt of or prayed for, and it is for ever and for


He assuredly meant far more than this of which I am writing now, but this is a

step on the way towards that glorious goal of perfect realisation. If it does

not yet tell us quite all the truth, at any rate it gives us a good deal of it.

It removes for us a host of common misconceptions, and clears up for us many

points which are considered as mysteries or problems by those who are as yet

uninstructed in this lore. It shows that all these things were mysteries and

problems to us only because heretofore we saw so small a part of the facts,

because we were looking at the various matters from below, and as isolated and

unconnected fragments, instead of rising above them to a standpoint whence they

are comprehensible as parts of a mighty whole. It settles in a moment many

questions which have been much disputed-- such, for example, as that of the

continued existence of man after death. It explains many of the strange things

which the Churches tell us; it dispels our ignorance and removes our fear of the

unknown by supplying us with a rational and orderly scheme.

Besides all this, it opens up a new world to us in regard to our every-day

life-- a new world which is yet a part of the old. It shows us that, as I began

by saying, there is a hidden side to everything, and that our most ordinary

actions often produce results of which without this study we should never have

known. By it we understand the rationale of what is commonly called telepathy,

for we see that just as there are waves of heat or light or electricity, so

there are waves produced by thought, though they are in a finer type of matter

than the others, and therefore not perceptible to our physical senses. By

studying these vibrations we see how thought acts, and we learn that it is a

tremendous power for good or for ill-- a power which we are all of us

unconsciously wielding to some extent-- which we can use a hundredfold more

effectively when we comprehend its workings. Further investigation reveals to us

the method of formation of what are called ` thought-forms,' and indicates how

these can be usefully employed both for ourselves and for others in a dozen

different ways.

The occultist studies carefully all these unseen effects, and consequently knows

much more fully than other men the result of what he is doing. He has more

information about life than others have, and he exercises his common-sense by

modifying his life in accordance with what he knows. In many ways we live

differently now from our forefathers in mediaeval times, because we know more

than they did. We have discovered certain laws of hygiene; wise men live

according to that knowledge, and therefore the average length of life is

decidedly greater now than it was in the Middle Ages. There are still some who

are foolish or ignorant, who either do not know the laws of health or are

careless about keeping them; they think that because disease-germs are invisible

to them, they are therefore of no importance; they don't believe in new ideas.

Those are the people who suffer first when an epidemic disease arrives, or some

unusual strain is put upon the community. They suffer unnecessarily, because

they are behind the times. But they injure not only themselves by their neglect;

the conditions caused by their ignorance or carelessness often bring infection

into a district which might otherwise be free from it.

The matter of which I am writing is precisely the same thing at a different

level. The microscope revealed disease-germs; the intelligent man profited by

the discovery, and rearranged his life, while the unintelligent man paid no

attention, but went on as before. Clairvoyance reveals thought-force and many

other previously unsuspected powers; once more the intelligent man profits by

this discovery, and rearranges his life accordingly. Once more also the

unintelligent man takes no heed of the new discoveries; once more he thinks that

what he cannot see can have no importance for him; once more he continues to

suffer quite unnecessarily, because he is behind the times.

Not only does he often suffer positive pain, but he also misses so much of the

pleasure of life. To painting, to music, to poetry, to literature, to religious

ceremonies, to the beauties of nature there is always a hidden side-- a fulness,

a completeness beyond the mere physical; and the man who can see or sense this

has at his command a wealth of enjoyment far beyond the comprehension of the man

who passes through it all with unopened perceptions.

The perceptions exist in every human being, though as yet undeveloped in most.

To unfold them means generally a good deal of time and hard work, but it is

exceedingly well worth while. Only let no man undertake the effort unless his

motives are absolutely pure and unselfish, for he who seeks wider faculty for

any but the most exalted purposes will bring upon himself a curse and not a


But the man of affairs, who has no time to spare for a sustained effort to

evolve nascent powers within himself, is not thereby debarred from sharing in

some at least of the benefits derived from occult study, any more than the man

who possesses no microscope is thereby prevented from living hygienically. The

latter has not seen the disease-germs, but from the testimony of the specialist

he knows that they exist, and he knows how to guard himself from them. Just in

the same way a man who has as yet no dawning of clairvoyant vision may study the

writings of those who have gained it, and in this way profit by the results of

their labour. True, he cannot yet see all the glory and the beauty which are

hidden from us by the imperfection of our senses; but he can readily learn how

to avoid the unseen evil, and how to set in motion the unseen forces of good.

So, long before he actually sees them, he can conclusively prove to himself

their existence, just as the man who drives an electric motor proves to himself

the existence of electricity, though he has never seen it and does not in the

least know what it is.

We must try to understand as much as we can of the world in which we live. We

must not fall behind in the march of evolution, we must not let ourselves be

anachronisms, for lack of interest in these new discoveries, which yet are only

the presentation from a new point of view of the most archaic wisdom. “Knowledge

is power” in this case as in every other; in this case, as in every other, to

secure the best results, the glorious trinity of power, wisdom and love must

ever go hand in hand.

There is a difference, however, between theoretical acquaintance and actual

realisation; and I have thought that it might help students somewhat towards the

grasp of the realities to have a description of the unseen side of some of the

simple transactions of every day life as they appear to clairvoyant vision-- to

one, let us say, who has developed within himself the power of perception

through the astral, mental and causal bodies. Their appearance as seen by means

of the intuitional vehicle is infinitely grander and more effective still, but

so entirely inexpressible that it seems useless to say anything about it; for on

that level all experience is within the man instead of without, and the glory

and the beauty of it is no longer something which he watches with interest, but

something which he feels in his inmost heart, because it is part of himself.

The object of this book is to give some hints as to the inner side of the world

as a whole and of our daily life. We shall consider this latter in three

divisions, which will resemble the conjugations of our youthful days in being

passive, middle and active respectively-- how we are influenced, how we

influence ourselves, and how we influence others; and we shall conclude by

observing a few of the results which must inevitably flow from a wider diffusion

of this knowledge as to the realities of existence.

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




WHEN we look upon the world around us, we cannot hide from ourselves the

existence of a vast amount of sorrow and suffering. True, much of it is

obviously the fault of the sufferers, and might easily be avoided by the

exercise of a little self-control and common-sense; but there is also much which

is not immediately self-induced, but undoubtedly comes from without. It often

seems as though evil triumphs, as though justice fails in the midst of the storm

and stress of the roaring confusion of life, and because of this many despair of

the ultimate result, and doubt whether there is in truth any plan of definite

progress behind all this bewildering chaos.

It is all a question of the point of view; the man who is himself in the thick

of the fight cannot judge of the plan of the general or the progress of the

conflict. To understand the battle as a whole, one must withdraw from the tumult

and look down upon the field from above. In exactly the same way, to comprehend

the plan of the battle of life we must withdraw ourselves from it for the time,

and in thought look down upon it from above-- from the point of view not of the

body which perishes but of the soul which lives for ever. We must take into

account not only the small part of life which our physical eyes can see, but the

vast totality of which at present so much is invisible to us.

Until that has been done we are in the position of a man looking from beneath at

the under side of some huge piece of elaborate tapestry which is in process of

being woven. The whole thing is to us but a confused medley of varied colour, of

ragged hanging ends, without order or beauty, and we are unable to conceive what

all this mad clatter of machinery can be doing; but when through our knowledge

of the hidden side of nature we are able to look down from above, the pattern

begins to unfold itself before our eyes, and the apparent chaos shows itself as

orderly progress.

A more forcible analogy may be obtained by contemplating in imagination the view

of life which would present itself to some tiny microbe whirled down by a

resistless flood, such as that which rushes through the gorge of Niagara.

Boiling, foaming, swirling, the force of that stream is so tremendous that its

centre is many feet higher than its sides. The microbe on the surface of such a

torrent must be dashed hither and thither wildly amidst the foam, sometimes

thrown high in air, sometimes whirled backwards in an eddy, unable to see the

banks between which he is passing, having every sense occupied in the mad

struggle to keep himself somehow above water. To him that strife and stress is

all the world of which he knows; how can he tell whither the stream is going?

But the man who stands on the bank, looking down on it all, can see that all

this bewildering tumult is merely superficial, and that the one fact of real

importance is the steady onward sweep of those millions of tons of water

downwards towards the sea. If we can furthermore suppose the microbe to have

some idea of progress, and to identify it with forward motion, he might well be

dismayed when he found himself hurled aside or borne backwards by an eddy; while

the spectator could see that the apparent backward movement was but a delusion,

since even the little eddies were all being swept onwards with the rest. It is

no exaggeration to say that as is the knowledge of the microbe struggling in the

stream to that of the man looking down upon it, so is the comprehension of life

possessed by the man in the world to that of one who knows its hidden side.

Best of all, though not so easy to follow because of the effort of imagination

involved, is the parable offered to us by Mr. Hinton in his Scientific Romances.

For purposes connected with his argument Mr. Hinton supposes the construction of

a large vertical wooden frame, from top to bottom of which are tightly stretched

a multitude of threads at all sorts of angles. If then a sheet of paper be

inserted horizontally in the frame so that these threads pass through it, it is

obvious that each thread will make a minute hole in the paper. If then the frame

as a whole be moved slowly upwards, but the paper kept still, various effects

will be produced. When a thread is perpendicular it will slip through its hole

without difficulty, but when a thread is fixed at an angle it will cut a slit in

the paper as the frame moves.

Suppose instead of a sheet of paper we have a thin sheet of wax, and let the wax

be sufficiently viscous to close up behind the moving thread. Then instead of a

number of slits we shall have a number of moving holes, and to a sight which

cannot see the threads that cause them, the movement of these holes will

necessarily appear irregular and inexplicable. Some will approach one another,

some will recede; various patterns and combinations will be formed and dissolve;

all depending upon the arrangement of the invisible threads. Now, by a still

more daring flight of fancy, think not of the holes but of the minute sections

of thread for the moment filling them, and imagine those sections as conscious

atoms. They think of themselves as separate entities, they find themselves

moving without their own volition in what seems a maze of inextricable

confusion, and this bewildering dance is life as they know it. Yet all this

apparent complexity and aimless motion is in fact a delusion caused by the

limitation of the consciousness of those atoms, for only one extremely simple

movement is really taking place-- the steady upward motion of the frame as a

whole. But the atom can never comprehend that until it realises that it is not a

separated fragment, but part of a thread.

` Which things are an allegory,' and a very beautiful one; for the threads are

ourselves-- our true selves, our souls-- and the atoms represent us in this

earthly life. So long as we confine our consciousness to the atom, and look on

life only from this earthly standpoint, we can never understand what is

happening in the world. But if we will raise our consciousness to the point of

view of the soul, the thread of which the bodily life is only a minute part and

a temporary expression, we shall then see that there is a splendid simplicity at

the back of all the complexity, a unity behind all the diversity. The complexity

and the diversity are illusions produced by our limitations; the simplicity and

the unity are real.

The world in which we live has a hidden side to it, for the conception of it in

the mind of the ordinary man in the street is utterly imperfect along three

quite distinct lines. First, it has an extension at its own level which he is at

present quite incapable of appreciating; secondly, it has a higher side which is

too refined for his undeveloped perceptions; thirdly, it has a meaning and a

purpose of which he usually has not the faintest glimpse. To say that we do not

see the whole of our world is to state the case far too feebly; what we see is

an absolutely insignificant part of it, beautiful though that part may be. And

just as the additional extension is infinite compared to our idea of space, and

cannot be expressed in its terms, so are the scope and the splendour of the

whole infinitely greater than any conception that can possibly be formed of it

here, and they cannot be expressed in any terms of that part of the world which

we know.


The extension spoken of under the first head has often been called the fourth

dimension. Many writers have scoffed at this and denied its existence, yet for

all that it remains a fact that our physical world is in truth a world of many

dimensions, and that every object in it has an extension, however minute, in a

direction which is unthinkable to us at our present stage of mental evolution.

When we develop astral senses we are brought so much more directly into contact

with this extension that our minds are more or less forced into recognition of

it, and the more intelligent gradually grow to understand it; though there are

those of less intellectual growth who, even after death and in the astral world,

cling desperately to their accustomed limitations and adopt most extraordinary

and irrational hypotheses to avoid admitting the existence of the higher life


which they so greatly fear.

Because the easiest way for most people to arrive at a realisation of the fourth

dimension of space is to develop within themselves the power of astral sight,

many persons have come to suppose that the fourth dimension is an exclusive

appanage of the astral world. A little thought will show that this cannot be so.

Fundamentally there is only one kind of matter existing in the universe,

although we call it physical, astral or mental according to the extent of its

subdivision and the rapidity of its vibration. Consequently the dimensions of

space-- if they exist at all-- exist independently of the matter which lies

within them; and whether that space has three dimensions or four or more, all

the matter within it exists subject to those conditions, whether we are able to

appreciate them or not.

It may perhaps help us a little in trying to understand this matter if we

realise that what we call space is a limitation of consciousness, and that there

is a higher level at which a sufficiently developed consciousness is entirely

free from this. We may invest this higher consciousness with the power of

expression in any number of directions, and may then assume that each descent

into a denser world of matter imposes upon it an additional limitation, and

shuts off the perception of one of these directions. We may suppose that by the

time the consciousness has descended as far as the mental world only five of

these directions remain to it; that when it descends or moves outward once more

to the astral level it loses yet one more of its powers, and so is limited to

the conception of four dimensions; then the further descent or outward movement

which brings it into the physical world cuts off from it the possibility of

grasping even that fourth dimension, and so we find ourselves confined to the

three with which we are familiar.

Looking at it from this point of view, it is clear that the conditions of the

universe have remained unaffected, though our power of appreciating them has

changed; so that, although it is true that when our consciousness is functioning

through astral matter we are able to appreciate a fourth dimension which

normally is hidden from us while we work through the physical brain, we must not

therefore make the mistake of thinking that the fourth dimension belongs to the

astral world only and that physical matter exists somehow in a different kind of

space from the astral or mental. Such a suggestion is shown to be unjustified by

the fact that it is possible for a man using his physical brain to attain by

means of practice the power of comprehending some of the four-dimensional forms.


I do not wish here to take up fully the consideration of this fascinating

subject; those who would follow it further should apply themselves to the works

of Mr. C. H. Hinton-- Scientific Romances and The Fourth Dimension -- the former

book for all the interesting possibilities connected with this study, and the

latter for the means whereby the mind can realise the fourth dimension as a

fact. For our present purposes it is necessary only to indicate that here is an

aspect or extension of our world which, though utterly unknown to the vast

majority of men, requires to be studied and to be taken into consideration by

those who wish to understand the whole of life instead of only a tiny fragment

of it.


There is a hidden side to our physical world in a second and higher sense which

is well known to all students of Theosophy, for many lectures have been

delivered and many books have been written in the endeavour to describe the

astral and mental worlds-- the unseen realm which interpenetrates that with

which we are all familiar, and forms by far the most important part of it. A

good deal of information about this higher aspect of our world has been given in

the fifth and the sixth of the Theosophical manuals, and in my own book upon The

Other Side of Death; so here I need do no more than make a short general

statement for the benefit of any reader who has not yet met with those works.

Modern physicists tell us that matter is interpenetrated by aether-- a

hypothetical substance which they endow with many apparently contradictory

qualities. The occultist knows that there are many varieties of this finer

interpenetrative matter, and that some of the qualities attributed to it by the

scientific men belong not to it at all, but to the primordial substance of which

it is the negation. I do not wish here to turn aside from the object of this

book to give a lengthy disquisition upon the qualities of aether; those who wish

to study this subject may be referred to the book upon Occult Chemistry , p. 93

. Here it must suffice to say that the true aether of space exists, just as

scientific men have supposed, and possesses most of the curious contradictory

qualities ascribed to it. It is not, however, of that aether itself, but of

matter built up out of the bubbles in it, that the inner worlds of finer matter

are built, of which we have spoken just now. That with which we are concerned at

the moment is the fact that all the matter visible to us is interpenetrated not

only by aether, but also by various kinds of finer matter, and that of this

finer matter there are many degrees.

To the type which is nearest to the physical world occult students have given

the name astral matter; the kind next above that has been called mental, because

out of its texture is built that mechanism of consciousness which is commonly

called the mind in man; and there are other types finer still, with which for

the moment we are not concerned. Every portion of space with which we have to do

must be thought of as containing all these different kinds of matter. It is

practically a scientific postulate that even in the densest forms of matter no

two particles ever touch one another, but each floats alone in its field of

aether, like a sun in space. Just in the same way each particle of the physical

aether floats in a sea of astral matter, and each astral particle in turn floats

in a mental ocean; so that all these additional worlds need no more space than

does this fragment which we know, for in truth they are all parts of one and the

same world.

Man has within himself matter of these finer grades, and by learning to focus

his consciousness in it, instead of only in his physical brain, he may become

cognisant of these inner and higher parts of the world, and acquire much

knowledge of the deepest interest and value. The nature of this unseen world,

its scenery, its inhabitants, its possibilities, are described in the works

above mentioned. It is the existence of these higher realms of nature that makes

occultism possible; and few indeed are the departments of life in which their

influence has not to be considered. From the cradle to the grave we are in close

relation with them during what we call our waking life; during sleep and after

we are even more intimately connected with them, for our existence is then

almost confined to them.

Perhaps the greatest of the many fundamental changes which are inevitable for

the man who studies the facts of life is that which is produced in his attitude

towards death. This matter has been fully treated elsewhere; here I need state

only that the knowledge of the truth about death robs it of all its terror and

much of its sorrow, and enables us to see it in its true proportion and to

understand its place in the scheme of our evolution. It is perfectly possible to

learn to know about all these things instead of accepting beliefs blindly at

secondhand, as most people do; and knowledge means power, security and



The third aspect of our world which is hidden from the majority is the plan and

purpose of existence. Most men seem to muddle through life without any

discernible object, except possibly the purely physical struggle to make money

or attain power, because they vaguely think that these things will bring them

happiness. They have no definite theory as to why they are here, nor any

certainty as to the future that awaits them. They have not even realised that

they are souls and not bodies, and that as such their development is part of a

mighty scheme of cosmic evolution.

When once this grandest of truths has dawned upon a man' s horizon there comes

over him that change which occidental religion calls conversion-- a fine word

which has been sadly degraded by improper associations, for it has often been

used to signify nothing more than a crisis of emotion hypnotically induced by

the surging waves of excited feeling radiated by a half-maddened crowd. Its true

meaning is exactly what its derivation implies, ` a turning together with' .

Before it, the man, unaware of the stupendous current of evolution, has, under

the delusion of selfishness, been fighting against it; but the moment that the

magnificence of the Divine Plan bursts upon his astonished sight there is no

other possibility for him but to throw all his energies into the effort to

promote its fulfilment, to ` turn and go together with' that splendid stream of

the love and the wisdom of God.

His one object then is to qualify himself to help the world, and all his

thoughts and actions are directed towards that aim. He may forget for the moment

under the stress of temptation, but the oblivion can be only temporary; and this

is the meaning of the ecclesiastical dogma that the elect can never finally fail

. Discrimination has come to him, the opening of the doors of the mind, to adopt

the terms employed for this change in older faiths; he knows now what is real

and what is unreal, what is worth gaining and what is valueless. He lives as an

immortal soul who is a Spark of the Divine Fire, instead of as one of the beasts

that perish-- to use a biblical phrase which, however, is entirely incorrect,

inasmuch as the beasts do not perish, except in the sense of their being

reabsorbed into their group-soul.

Most truly for this man an aspect of life has been displayed which erst was

hidden from his eyes. It would even be truer to say that now for the first time

he has really begun to live, while before he merely dragged out an inefficient




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




THE first fact which it is necessary for us to realise is that everything is

radiating influence on its surroundings, and these surroundings are all the

while returning the compliment by pouring influence upon it in return. Literally

everything-- sun, moon, stars, angels, men, animals, trees, rocks-- everything

is pouring out a ceaseless stream of vibrations, each of its own characteristic

type; not in the physical world only, but in other and subtler worlds as well.

Our physical senses can appreciate only a limited number of such radiations. We

readily feel the heat poured forth by the sun or by a fire, but we are usually

not conscious of the fact that we ourselves are constantly radiating heat; yet

if we hold out a hand towards a radiometer the delicate instrument will respond

to the heat imparted by that hand even at a distance of several feet, and will

begin to revolve. We say that a rose has a scent and that a daisy has none; yet

the daisy is throwing off particles just as much as the rose, only in the one

case they happen to be perceptible to our senses, and in the other they are not.


From early ages men have believed that the sun, the moon, the planets and the

stars exercised a certain influence over human life. In the present day most

people are content to laugh at such a belief, without knowing anything about it;

yet anyone who will take the trouble to make a careful and impartial study of

astrology will discover much that cannot be lightly thrown aside. He will meet

with plenty of errors, no doubt, some of them ridiculous enough; but he will

also find a proportion of accurate results which is far too large to be

reasonably ascribed to coincidence. His investigations will convince him that

there is unquestionably some foundation for the claims of the astrologers, while

at the same time he cannot but observe that their systems are as yet far from


When we remember the enormous space that separates us from even the nearest of

the planets, it is at once obvious that we must reject the idea that they can

exercise upon us any physical action worth considering; and furthermore, if

there were any such action, it would seem that its strength should depend less

upon the position of the planet in the sky than upon its proximity to the

earth-- a factor which is not usually taken into account by astrologers. The

more we contemplate the matter the less does it seem rational or possible to

suppose that the planets can affect the earth or its inhabitants to any

appreciable extent; yet the fact remains that a theory based upon this apparent

impossibility often works out accurately. Perhaps the explanation may be found

along the line that just as the movement of the hands of a clock shows the

passage of time, though it does not cause it, so the motions of the planets

indicate the prevalence of certain influences, but are in no way responsible for

them. Let us see what light occult study throws upon this somewhat perplexing



Occult students regard the entire solar system in all its vast complexity as a

partial manifestation of one great living Being, and all its parts as expressing

aspects of Him. Many names have been given to Him; in our Theosophical

literature He has often been described under the Gnostic title of the Logos--

the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God; but now we usually

speak of Him as the Solar Deity. All the physical constituents of the solar

system-- the sun with its wonderful corona, all the planets with their

satellites, their oceans, their atmospheres and the various aethers surrounding

them-- all these are collectively His physical body, the expression of Him in

the physical realm.

In the same way the collective astral worlds-- not only the astral worlds

belonging to each of the physical planets, but also the purely astral planets of

all the chains of the system (such, for example, as planets B and F of our

chain)-- make up His astral body, and the collective worlds of the mental realm

are His mental body-- the vehicle through which He manifests Himself upon that

particular level. Every atom of every world is a centre through which He is

conscious, so that not only is it true that God is omnipresent, but also that

whatever is is God.

Thus we see that the old pantheistic conception was quite true, yet it is only a

part of the truth, because while all nature in all its worlds is nothing but His

garment, yet He Himself exists outside of and above all this in a stupendous

life of which we can know nothing-- a life among other Rulers of other systems.

Just as all our lives are lived literally within Him and are in truth a part of

His, so His life and that of the Solar Deities of countless other systems are a

part of a still greater life of the Deity of the visible universe; and if there

be in the depths of space yet other universes invisible to us, all of their

Deities in turn must in the same way form part of One Great Consciousness which

includes the whole.


In these ` bodies' of the Solar Deity on their various levels there are certain

different classes or types of matter, which are fairly equally distributed over

the whole system. I am not speaking here of our usual division of the worlds and

their subsections-- a division which is made according to the density of the

matter, so that in the physical world, for example, we have the solid, liquid,

gaseous, etheric, super-etheric, sub-atomic and atomic conditions of matter--

all of them physical, but differing in density. The types which I mean

constitute a totally distinct series of cross-divisions, each of which contains

matter in all its different conditions, so that if we denote the various types

by numbers, we shall find solid, liquid and gaseous matter of the first type,

solid, liquid and gaseous matter of the second type, and so on all the way


These types of matter are as thoroughly intermingled as are the constituents of

our atmosphere. Conceive a room filled with air; any decided vibration

communicated to the air, such as a sound, for example, would be perceptible in

every part of the room. Suppose that it were possible to produce some kind of

undulation which should affect the oxygen alone without disturbing the nitrogen,

that undulation would still be felt in every part of the room. If we allow that,

for a moment, the proportion of oxygen might be greater in one part of the room

than another, then the oscillation, though perceptible everywhere, would be

strongest in that part. Just as the air in a room is composed (principally) of

oxygen and nitrogen, so is the matter of the solar system composed of these

different types; and just as a wave (if there could be such a thing) which

affected only the oxygen or only the nitrogen would nevertheless be felt in all

parts of the room, so a movement or modification which affects only one of these

types produces an effect throughout the entire solar system, though it may be

stronger in one part than in another.

This statement is true of all worlds, but for the sake of clearness let us for

the moment confine our thought to one world only. Perhaps the idea is easiest to

follow with regard to the astral. It has often been explained that in the astral

body of man, matter belonging to each of the astral sub-sections is to be found,


and that the proportion between the denser and the finer kinds shows how far

that body is capable of responding to coarse or refined desires, and so is to

some extent an indication of the degree to which the man has evolved himself.

Similarly in each astral body there is matter of each of these types, and in

this case the proportion between them will show the disposition of the man--

whether he is devotional or philosophic, artistic or scientific, pragmatic or



Now each of these types of matter in the astral body of the Solar Deity is to

some extent a separate vehicle, and may be thought of as also the astral body of

a subsidiary Deity or Minister, who is at the same time an aspect of the Deity

of the system, a kind of ganglion or force-centre in Him. Indeed, if these types

differ among themselves, it is because the matter composing them originally came

forth through these different living Centres, and the matter of each type is

still the special vehicle and expression of the subsidiary Deity through whom it

came, so that the slightest thought, movement or alteration of any kind in Him

is instantly reflected in some way or other in all the matter of the

corresponding type. Naturally each such type of matter has its own special

affinities, and is capable of vibrating under influences which may probably

evoke no response from the other types.

Since every man has within himself matter of all these types, it is obvious that

any modification in or action of any one of these great living Centres must to

some degree affect all beings in the system. The extent to which any particular

person is so affected depends upon the proportion of the type of matter acted

upon which he happens to have in his astral body. Consequently we find different

types of men as of matter, and by reason of their constitution, by the very

composition of their astral bodies, some of them are more susceptible to one

influence, some to another.

The types are seven, and astrologers have often given to them the names of

certain of the planets. Each type is divided into seven sub-types, because each

` planet' may be either practically uninfluenced, or it may be affected

predominantly by any one of the other six. In addition to the forty-nine

definite sub-types thus obtained, there are any number of possible permutations

and combinations of influences, often so complicated that it is no easy matter

to follow them. Nevertheless, this gives us a certain system of classification,

according to which we can arrange not only human beings, but also the animal,

vegetable and mineral kingdoms, and the elemental essence which precedes them in


Everything in the solar system belongs to one or other of these seven great

streams, because it has come out through one or other of these great

Force-Centres, to which therefore it belongs in essence, although it must

inevitably be affected more or less by the others also. This gives each man,

each animal, each plant, each mineral a certain fundamental characteristic which

never changes-- sometimes symbolised as his note, his colour or his ray.

This characteristic is permanent not only through one chain-period, but through

the whole planetary scheme, so that the life which manifests through elemental

essence of type A will in the due course of its evolution ensoul successively

minerals, plants, and animals of type A; and when its group-soul breaks up into

units and receives the Third Outpouring, the human beings which are the result

of its evolution will be men of type A and no other, and under normal conditions

will continue so all through their development until they grow into Adepts of

type A.

In the earlier days of Theosophical study we were under the impression that this

plan was carried out consistently to the very end, and that these Adepts

rejoined the Solar Deity through the same subsidiary Deity or Minister through

whom they originally came forth. Further research shows that this thought

requires modification. We find that bands of egos of many different types join

themselves together for a common object.

For example, in the investigations connected primarily with the lives of Alcyone

it was found that certain bands of egos circled round the various Masters, and

came closer and closer to Them as time went on. One by one, as they became fit

for it, these egos reached the stage at which they were accepted as pupils or

apprentices by one or other of the Masters. To become truly a pupil of a Master

means entering into relations with Him whose intimacy is far beyond any tie of

which we know on earth. It means a degree of union with Him which no words can

fully express, although at the same time a pupil retains absolutely his own

individuality and his own initiative.

In this way each Master becomes a centre of what may be truly described as a

great organism, since his pupils are veritably members of Him. When we realise

that He Himself is in just the same way a Member of some still greater Master we

arrive at a conception of a mighty. organism which is in a very real sense one,

although built up of thousands of perfectly distinct egos.

Such an organism is the Heavenly Man who emerges as the result of the evolution

of each great root-race. In Him, as in an earthly man, are seven great centres,

each of which is a mighty Adept; and the Manu and the Bodhisattva occupy in this

great organism the place of the brain and the heart centres respectively. Round

Them-- and yet not round Them, but in Them and part of Them, although so fully

and gloriously ourselves-- shall we, Their servants, be; and this great figure

in its totality represents the flower of that particular race, and includes all

who have attained Adeptship through it. Each root-race is thus represented at

its close by one of these Heavenly Men; and They, these splendid totalities,

will, as Their next stage in evolution, become Ministers Themselves of some

future Solar Deity. Yet each one of these contains within Himself men of all

possible types, so that each of these future Ministers is in truth a

representative not of one line but of all lines.

When looked at from a sufficiently high level the whole solar system is seen to


consist of these great living Centres or Ministers, and the types of matter

through which each is expressing Himself. Let me repeat here for the sake of

clearness, what I wrote some time ago on this subject in The Inner Life, vol. i,

page 217:

Each of these great living Centres has a sort of orderly periodic change or

motion of his own, corresponding perhaps on some infinitely higher level to the

regular beating of the human heart, or to the inspiration and expiration of the

breath. Some of these periodic changes are more rapid than others, so that a

complicated series of effects is produced; and it has been observed that the

movements of the physical planets in their relation to one another furnish a

clue to the operation of these influences at any given moment. Each of these

Centres has His special location or major focus within the body of the sun, and

a minor exterior focus which is always marked by the position of a planet.

The exact relation can hardly be made clear in our three-dimensional

phraseology; but we may perhaps put it that each Centre has a field of influence

practically co-extensive with a solar system; that if a section of this field

could be taken it would be found to be elliptical; and that one of the foci of

each ellipse would always be the sun, and the other would be the special planet

ruled by that Minister. It is probable that, in the gradual condensation of the

original glowing nebula from which the system was formed, the location of the

planets was determined by the formation of vortices at these minor foci, they

being auxiliary points of distribution of these influences-- ganglia, as it

were, in the solar system.

It must of course be understood that we are referring here not to the curious

astrological theory which considers the sun himself as a planet, but to the real

planets which revolve round him.


The influences belonging to these great types differ widely in quality, and one

way in which this difference shows itself is in their action upon the living

elemental essence both in man and around him. Be it ever remembered that this

dominance is exerted in all worlds, not only in the astral, though we are just

now confining ourselves to that for simplicity' s sake. These mysterious

agencies may have, and indeed must have, other and more important lines of

action not at present known to us; but this at least forces itself upon the

notice of the observer, that each Centre produces its own special effect upon

the manifold varieties of elemental essence.

One, for example, will be found greatly to stimulate the activity and the

vitality of those kinds of essence which specially appertain to the Centre

through which it comes, while apparently checking and controlling others; the

sway of another type will be seen to be strong over a quite different set of

essences which belong to its Centre, while apparently not affecting the previous

set in the least. There are all sorts of combinations and permutations of these

mystic powers, the action of one of them being in some cases greatly intensified

and in others almost neutralised by the presence of another.

Since this elemental essence is vividly active in the astral and mental bodies

of man, it is clear that any unusual excitation of any of these classes of that

essence-- any sudden increase in its activity-- must undoubtedly affect to some

extent either his emotions or his mind, or both; and it is also obvious that

these forces would work differently on different men, because of the varieties

of essence entering into their composition.

These influences neither exist nor are exercised for the sake of the man or with

any reference to him, any more than the wind exists for the sake of the vessel

which is helped or hindered by it; they are part of the play of cosmic forces of

whose object we know nothing, though we may to some extent learn how to

calculate upon them and to use them. Such energies in themselves are no more

good nor evil than any other of the powers of nature: like electricity or any

other great natural force they may be helpful or hurtful to us, according to the

use that we make of them. Just as certain experiments are more likely to be

successful if undertaken when the air is heavily charged with electricity, while

certain others under such conditions will most probably fail, so an effort

involving the use of the powers of our mental and emotional nature will more or

less readily achieve its object according to the influences which predominate

when it is made.


It is of the utmost importance for us to understand that such pressure cannot

dominate man' s will in the slightest degree; all it can do is in some cases to

make it easier or more difficult for that will to act along certain lines. In no

case can a man be swept away by it into any course of action without his own

consent, though he may evidently be helped or hindered by it in any effort that

he chances to be making. The really strong man has little need to trouble

himself as to the agencies which happen to be in the ascendant, but for men of

weaker will it may sometimes be worth while to know at what moment this or that

force can most advantageously be applied. These factors may be put aside as a

negligible quantity by the man of iron determination or by the student of true

occultism; but since most men still allow themselves to be the helpless sport of

the forces of desire, and have not yet developed anything worth calling a will

of their own, their feebleness permits these influences to assume an importance

in human life to which they have intrinsically no claim.

For example, a certain variety of pressure may occasionally bring about a

condition of affairs in which all forms of nervous excitement are considerably

intensified, and there is consequently a general sense of irritability abroad.

That condition cannot cause a quarrel between sensible people; but under such

circumstances disputes arise far more readily than usual, even on the most

trifling pretexts, and the large number of people who seem to be always on the

verge of losing their tempers are likely to relinquish all control of themselves

on even less than ordinary provocation. It may sometimes happen that such

influences, playing on the smouldering discontent of ignorant jealousy, may fan

it into an outburst of popular frenzy from which wide-spread disaster may ensue.


Even in such a case as this we must guard ourselves against the fatal mistake of

supposing the influence to be evil because man' s passions turn it to evil

effect. The force itself is simply a wave of activity sent forth from one of the

Centres of the Deity, and is in itself of the nature of an intensification of

certain vibrations-- necessary perhaps to produce some far-reaching cosmic

effect. The increased activity produced incidentally by its means in the astral

body of a man offers him an opportunity of testing his power to manage his

vehicles; and whether he succeeds or fails in this, it is still one of the

lessons which help in his evolution. Karma may throw a man into certain

surroundings or bring him under certain influences, but it can never force him

to commit a crime, though it may so place him that it requires great

determination on his part to avoid that crime. It is possible, therefore, for an

astrologer to warn a man of the circumstances under which at a given time be

will find himself, but any definite prophecy as to his action under those

circumstances can only be based upon probabilities-- though we may readily

recognise how nearly such prophecies become certainties in the case of the

ordinary will-less man. From the extraordinary mixture of success and failure

which characterise modern astrological predictions, it seems fairly certain that

the practitioners, of this art are not fully acquainted with all the necessary

factors. In a case into which only those factors enter which are already fairly

well understood, success is achieved; but in cases where unrecognised factors

come into play we have naturally more or less complete failure as the result.

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




THOSE who are interested in astronomy will find the occult side of that science

one of the most fascinating studies within our reach. Obviously it would be at

once too recondite and too technical for inclusion in such a book as this, which

is concerned more immediately with such of the unseen phenomena as affect us

practically in our daily life; but the connection of the sun with that life is

so intimate that it is necessary that a few words should be said about him.

The whole solar system is truly the garment of its Deity, but the sun is His

veritable epiphany-- the nearest that we can come in the physical realm to a

manifestation of Him, the lens through which His power shines forth upon us.

Regarded purely from the physical point of view, the sun is a vast mass of

glowing matter at almost inconceivably high temperatures, and in a condition of

electrification so intense as to be altogether beyond our experience.

Astronomers, supposing his heat to be due merely to contraction, used to

calculate how long he must have existed in the past, and how long it would be

possible for him to maintain it in the future; and they found themselves unable

to allow more than a few hundred thousand years either way, while the geologists

on the other hand claim that on this earth alone we have evidence of processes

extending over millions of years. The discovery of radium has upset the older

theories, but even with its aid they have not yet risen to the simplicity of the

real explanation of the difficulty.

One can imagine some intelligent microbe living in or upon a human body and

arguing about its temperature in precisely the same way. He might say that it

must of course be a gradually cooling body, and he might calculate with

exactitude that in so many hours or minutes it must reach a temperature that

would render continued existence impossible for him. If he lived long enough,

however, he would find that the human body did not cool, as according to his

theories it should do, and no doubt this would seem to him very mysterious,

unless and until he discovered that he was dealing not with a dying fire but

with a living being, and that as long as the life remained the temperature would

not sink. In exactly the same way if we realise that the sun is the physical

manifestation of the Solar Deity, we shall see that the mighty life behind it

will assuredly keep up its temperature, as long as may be necessary for the full

evolution of the system.


A similar explanation offers us a solution of some of the other problems of

solar physics. For example, the phenomena called from their shape the `

willow-leaves' or ` rice-grains,' of which the photosphere of the sun is

practically composed, have often puzzled exoteric students by the apparently

irreconcilable characteristics which they present. From their position they can

be nothing else than masses of glowing gas at an exceedingly high temperature,

and therefore of great tenuity; yet though they must be far lighter than any

terrestrial cloud, they never fail to maintain their peculiar shape, however

wildly they may be tossed about in the very midst of storms of power so

tremendous that they would instantly destroy the earth itself.

When we realise that behind each of these strange objects there is a splendid

Life-- that each may be considered as the physical body of a great Angel-- we

comprehend that it is that Life which holds them together and gives them their

wonderful stability. To apply to them the term physical body may perhaps mislead

us, because for us the life in the physical seems of so much importance and

occupies so prominent a position in the present stage of our evolution. Madame

Blavatsky has told us that we cannot truly describe them as solar inhabitants,

since the Solar Beings will hardly place themselves in telescopic focus, but

that they are the reservoirs of solar vital energy, themselves partaking of the

life which they pour forth.

Let us say rather that the willow-leaves are manifestations upon the physical

level maintained by the solar Angels for a special purpose, at the cost of a

certain sacrifice or limitation of their activities on the higher levels which

are their normal habitat. Remembering that it is through these willow-leaves

that the light, heat and vitality of the sun come to us, we may readily see that

the object of this sacrifice is to bring down to the physical level certain

forces which would otherwise remain unmanifested, and that these great Angels

are acting as channels, as reflectors, as specialisers of divine power-- that

they are in fact doing at cosmic levels and for a solar system what, if we are

wise enough to use our privileges, we ourselves may do on a microscopical scale

in our own little circle, as will be seen in a later chapter.


We all know the feeling of cheerfulness and well-being which sunlight brings to

us, but only students of occultism are fully aware of the reasons for that

sensation. Just as the sun floods his system with light and heat, so does he

perpetually pour out into it another force as yet unsuspected by modern

science-- a force to which has been given the name ` vitality' . This is

radiated on all levels, and manifests itself in each realm-- physical,

emotional, mental and the rest-- but we are specially concerned for the moment

with its appearance in the lowest, where it enters some of the physical atoms,

immensely increases their activity, and makes them animated and glowing.

We must not confuse this force with electricity, though it in some ways

resembles it. The Deity sends forth from Himself three great forms of energy;

there may be hundreds more of which we know nothing; but at least there are

three. Each of them has its appropriate manifestation at every level which our

students have yet reached; but for the moment let us think of them as they show

themselves in the physical world. One of them exhibits itself as electricity,

another as vitality, and the third as the serpent-fire, of which I have already

written in The Inner Life.

These three remain distinct, and none of them can at this level be converted

into either of the others. They have no connection with any of the Three Great

Outpourings; all of those are definite efforts made by the Solar Deity, while

these seem rather to be results of His life-- His qualities in manifestation

without any visible effort. Electricity while it is rushing through the atoms,

deflects them and holds them in a certain way-- this effect being in addition to

and quite apart from the special rate of vibration which it also imparts to


But the action of vitality differs in many ways from that of electricity, light

or heat. Any of the variants of this latter force cause oscillation of the atom

as a whole-- an oscillation the size of which is enormous as compared with that

of the atom; but this other force which we call vitality comes to the atom not

from without, but from within.


The atom is itself nothing but the manifestation of a force; the Solar Deity

wills a certain shape which we call an ultimate physical atom, and by that

effort of His will some fourteen thousand million bubbles are held in that

particular form. It is necessary to emphasise the fact that the cohesion of the

bubbles in that form is entirely dependent upon that effort of will, so that if

that were for a single instant withdrawn, the bubbles must fall apart again, and

the whole physical realm would simply cease to exist in far less than the period

of a flash of lightning. So true is it that the whole world is nothing but

illusion, even from this point of view, to say nothing of the fact that the

bubbles of which the atom is built are themselves only holes in koilon, the true

aether of space.

So it is the will-force of the Solar Deity continually exercised which holds the

atom together as such; and when we try to examine the action of that force we

see that it does not come into the atom from outside, but wells up within it--

which means that it enters it from higher dimensions. The same is true with

regard to this other force which we call vitality; it enters the atom from

within, along with the force that holds that atom together, instead of acting

upon it entirely from without, as do those other varieties of force which we

call light, heat or electricity.

When vitality wells up thus within the atom it endows it with an additional

life, and gives it a power of attraction, so that it immediately draws round it

six other atoms, which it arranges in a definite form, this making what has been

called in Occult Chemistry a hyper-meta-proto-element. But this element differs

from all others which have so far been observed, in that the force which creates

it and holds it together comes from the second Aspect of the Solar Deity instead

of from the third This vitality-globule is drawn upon page 45 of Occult

Chemistry, where it stands first at the left hand of the top line in the

diagram. It is the little group which makes the exceedingly brilliant bead upon

the male or positive snake in the chemical element oxygen, and it is also the

heart of the central globe in radium.

These globules are conspicuous above all others which may be seen floating in

the atmosphere, on account of their brilliance and extreme activity-- the

intensely vivid life which they show. These are probably the fiery lives so

often mentioned by Madame Blavatsky, though she appears to employ that term in

two senses. In The Secret Doctrine, vol. ii, 709, it seems to mean the globule

as a whole, in vol. i, 283, it probably means the original

additionally-vitalised atoms, each of which draws round itself six others.

While the force that vivifies the globules is quite different from light, it

nevertheless appears to depend upon light for its power of manifestation. In

brilliant sunshine this vitality is constantly welling up afresh, and the

globules are generated with great rapidity and in incredible numbers; but in

cloudy weather there is a great diminution in the number of globules formed, and

during the night the operation appears to be entirely suspended. During the

night, therefore, we may be said to be living upon the stock manufactured during

the previous day, and though it appears practically impossible that it should

ever be entirely exhausted, that stock evidently does run low when there is a

long succession of cloudy days. The globule, once charged, remains as a

sub-atomic element, and does not appear to be subject to any change or loss of

force unless and until it is absorbed by some living creature.


This vitality is absorbed by all living organisms, and a sufficient supply of it

seems to be a necessity of their existence. In the case of men and the higher

animals it is absorbed through the centre or vortex in the etheric double which

corresponds with the spleen. It will be remembered that that centre has six

petals, made by the undulatory movement of the forces which cause the vortex.

But this undulatory movement is itself caused by the radiation of other forces

from the centre of that vortex. Imaging the central point of the vortex as the

hub of a wheel, we may think of these last-mentioned forces as represented by

spokes radiating from it in straight lines. Then the vortical forces, sweeping

round and round, pass alternately under and over these spokes as though they

were weaving a kind of etheric basket-work, and in this way is obtained the

appearance of six petals separated by depressions.

When the unit of vitality is flashing about in the atmosphere, brilliant as it

is, it is almost colourless, and may be compared to white light. But as soon as

it is drawn into the vortex of the force-centre at the spleen it is decomposed

and breaks up into streams of different colours, though it does not follow

exactly our division of the spectrum. As its component atoms are whirled round

the vortex, each of the six spokes seizes upon one of them, so that all the

atoms charged with yellow rush along one, and all those charged with green along

another, and so on, while the seventh disappears through the centre of the

vortex-- through the hub of the wheel, as it were. Those rays then rush off in

different directions, each to do its special work in the vitalisation of the

body. As I have said, however, the divisions are not exactly those which we

ordinarily use in the solar spectrum, but rather resemble the arrangement of

colours which we see on higher levels in the causal, mental and astral bodies.

For example, what we call indigo is divided between the violet ray and the blue

ray, so that we find only two divisions there instead of three; but on the other

hand what we call red is divided into two-- rose red and dark red. The six

radiants are therefore violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and dark red; while

the seventh or rose red atom (more properly the first, since this is the

original atom in which the force first appeared) passes down through the centre

of the vortex. Vitality is thus clearly sevenfold in its constitution, but it

rushes through the body in five main streams, as has been described in some of

the Indian books,¹ (¹ “To them spoke the principal life: Be not lost in delusion

I even, fivefold dividing myself, uphold this body by my support.” --

Prashnopanishad . ii, 3. “From this proceed these seven flames.” -- Ibid ., iii,

5.) for after issuing from splenic centre the blue and the violet join into one

ray, and so do the orange and the dark red.

(1) The violet-blue ray flashes upwards to the throat, where it seems to divide

itself, the light blue remaining to course through and vivify the throat-centre,

while the dark blue and violet pass on into the brain. The dark blue expends

itself in the lower and central parts of the brain, while the violet floods the

upper part and appears to give special vigour to the force-centre at the top of

the head, diffusing itself chiefly through the nine hundred and sixty petals of

the outer part of that centre.

(2) The yellow ray is directed to the heart, but after doing its work there,

part of it also passes on to the brain and permeates it, directing itself

principally to the twelve-petalled flower in the midst of the highest


(3) The green ray floods the abdomen and, while centring especially in the solar

plexus, evidently vivifies the liver, kidneys and intestines, and the digestive

apparatus generally.

(4) The rose-coloured ray runs all over the body along the nerves, and is

clearly the life of the nervous system. This is what is commonly described as

vitality-- the specialised vitality which one man may readily pour into another

in whom it is deficient. If the nerves are not fully supplied with this rosy

light they become sensitive and intensely irritable, so that the patient finds

it almost impossible to remain in one position, and yet gains but little ease

when he moves to another. The least noise or touch is agony to him, and he is in

a condition of acute misery. The flooding of his nerves with specialised

vitality by some healthy person brings instant relief, and a feeling of healing

and peace descends upon him. A man in robust health usually absorbs and

specialises so much more vitality than is actually needed by his own body that

he is constantly radiating a torrent of rose-coloured atoms, and so

unconsciously pours strength upon his weaker fellows without losing anything

himself; or by an effort of his will he can gather together this superfluous

energy and aim it intentionally at one whom he wishes to help.

The physical body has a certain blind, instinctive consciousness of its own,

corresponding in the physical world to the desire-elemental of the astral body;

and this consciousness seeks always to protect it from danger, or to procure for

it whatever may be necessary. This is entirely apart from the consciousness of

the man himself, and it works equally well during the absence of the ego from

the physical body during sleep. All our instinctive movements are due to it, and

it is through its activity that the working of the sympathetic system is carried

on ceaselessly without any thought or knowledge on our part.

While we are what we call awake, this physical elemental is perpetually occupied

in self-defence; he is in a condition of constant vigilance, and he keeps the

nerves and muscles always tense. During the night or at any time when we sleep

he lets the nerves and muscles relax, and devotes himself specially to the

assimilation of vitality, and the recuperation of the physical body. He works at

this most successfully during the early part of the night, because then there is

plenty of vitality, whereas immediately before the dawn the vitality which has

been left behind by the sunlight is almost completely exhausted. This is the

reason for the feeling of limpness and deadness associated with the small hours

of the morning; this is also the reason why sick men so frequently die at that

particular time. The same idea is embodied in the old proverb that: “An hour' s

sleep before midnight is worth two after it.” The work of this physical

elemental accounts for the strong recuperative influence of sleep, which is

often observable even when it is a mere momentary nap.

This vitality is indeed the food of the etheric double, and is just as necessary

to it as is sustenance to the grosser part of the physical body. Hence when the

body is unable for any reason (as through sickness, fatigue or extreme old age)

to prepare vitality for the nourishment of its cells, this physical elemental

endeavours to draw in for his own use vitality which has already been prepared

in the bodies of others; and thus it happens that we often find ourselves weak

and exhausted after sitting for a while with a person who is depleted of

vitality, because he has drawn away from us by suction the rose-coloured atoms

before we were able to extract their energy.

The vegetable kingdom also absorbs this vitality, but seems in most cases to use

only a small part of it. Many trees draw from it almost exactly the same

constituents as does the higher part of man' s etheric body, the result being

that when they have used what they require, the atoms which they reject are

precisely those charged with the rose-coloured light which is needed for the

cells of man' s physical body. This is specially the case with such trees as the

pine and the eucalyptus; and consequently the very neighbourhood of these trees

gives health and strength to those who are suffering from lack of this part of

the vital principle-- those whom we call nervous people. They are nervous

because the cells of their bodies are hungry, and the nervousness can only be

allayed by feeding them; and often the readiest way to do that is thus to supply

them from without with the special kind of vitality which they need.

(5) The orange-red ray flows to the base of the spine and thence to the

generative organs, with which one part of its functions is closely connected.

This ray appears to include not only the orange and the darker reds, but also a

certain amount of dark purple, as though the spectrum bent round in a circle and

the colours began over again at a lower octave. In the normal man this ray

energises the desires of the flesh, and also seems to enter the blood and keep

up the heat of the body; but if a man persistently refuses to yield to his lower

nature, this ray can by long and determined effort be deflected upwards to the

brain, where all three of its constituents undergo a remarkable modification.

The orange is raised into pure yellow, and produces a decided intensification of

the powers of the intellect; the dark red becomes crimson, and greatly increases

the power of unselfish affection; while the dark purple is transmuted into a

lovely pale violet, and quickens the spiritual part of man' s nature. The man

who achieves this transmutation will find that sensual desires no longer trouble

him, and when it becomes necessary for him to arouse the serpent-fire, he will

be free from the most serious of the dangers of that process. When a man has

finally completed this change, this orange-red ray passes straight into the

centre at the base of the spine, and from that runs upwards along the hollow of

the vertebral column, and so to the brain.


The flow of vitality in these various currents regulates the health of the parts

of the body with which they are concerned. If, for example, a person is

suffering from a weak digestion, it manifests itself at once to any person

possessing etheric sight, because either the flow and action of the green stream

is sluggish or its amount is smaller in proportion than it should be. Where the

yellow current is full and strong, it indicates, or more properly produces,

strength and regularity in the action of the heart. Flowing round that centre,

it also interpenetrates the blood which is driven through it, and is sent along

with it all over the body. Yet there is enough of it left to extend into the

brain also, and the power of high philosophical and metaphysical thought appears

to depend to a great extent upon the volume and activity of this yellow stream,

and the corresponding awakening of the twelve-petalled flower in the middle of

the force-centre at the top of the head.

Thought and emotion of a high spiritual type seem to depend largely upon the

violet ray, whereas the power of ordinary thought is stimulated by the action of

the blue mingled with part of the yellow. It has been observed that in some

forms of idiocy the flow of vitality to the brain, both yellow and blue-violet,

is almost entirely inhibited. Unusual activity or volume in the light blue which

is apportioned to the throat-centre is accompanied by the health and strength of

the physical organs in that part of the body. It gives, for example, strength

and elasticity to the vocal chords, so that special brilliance and activity are

noticeable in the case of a public speaker or a great singer. Weakness or

disease in any part of the body is accompanied by a deficiency in the flow of

vitality to that part.

As the different streams of atoms do their work, the charge of vitality is

withdrawn from them, precisely as an electrical charge might be. The atoms

bearing the rose-coloured ray grow gradually paler as they are swept along the

nerves, and are eventually thrown out from the body through the pores-- making

thus what was called in Man Visible and Invisible the health-aura. By the time

that they leave the body most of them have lost the rose-coloured light, so that

the general appearance of the emanation is bluish-white. That part of the yellow

ray which is absorbed into the blood and carried round with it loses its

distinctive colour in just the same way.

The atoms, when thus emptied of their charge of vitality, either enter into some

of the combinations which are constantly being made in the body, or pass out of

it through the pores, or through the ordinary channels. The emptied atoms of the

green ray, which is connected chiefly with digestive processes, seem to form

part of the ordinary waste material of the body, and to pass out along with it,

and that is also the fate of the atoms of the red-orange ray in the case of the

ordinary man. The atoms belonging to the blue rays, which are used in connection

with the throat-centre, generally leave the body in the exhalations of the

breath; and those which compose the dark blue and violet rays usually pass out

from the centre at the top of the head.

When the student has learnt to deflect the orange-red rays so that they also

move up through the spine, the empty atoms of both these and the violet-blue

rays pour out from the top of the head in a fiery cascade, which is frequently

imaged as a flame in ancient statues of the BUDDHA and other great Saints. When

empty of the vital force the atoms are once more precisely like any other atoms;

the body absorbs such of them as it needs, so that they form part of the various

combinations which are constantly being made, while others which are not

required for such purposes are cast out through any channel that happens to be


The flow of vitality into or through any centre, or even its intensification,

must not be confused with the entirely different development of the centre which

is brought about by the awakening of the serpent-fire at a later stage in man' s

evolution. We all of us draw in vitality and specialise it, but many of us do

not utilise it to the full, because in various ways our lives are not as pure

and healthy and reasonable as they should be. One who coarsens his body by the

use of meat, alcohol or tobacco can never employ his vitality to the full in the

same way as can a man of purer living. A particular individual of impure life

may be, and often is stronger in the physical body than certain other men who

are purer; that is a matter of their respective karma; but other things being

equal, the man of pure life has an immense advantage.


The vitality coursing along the nerves must not be confused with what we usually

call the magnetism of the man-- his own nerve-fluid, generated within himself.

It is this fluid which keeps up the constant circulation of etheric matter along

the nerves, corresponding to the circulation of blood through the veins; and as

oxygen is conveyed by the blood to all parts of the body, so vitality is

conveyed along the nerves by this etheric current. The particles of the etheric

part of man' s body are constantly changing, just as are those of the denser

part; along with the food which we eat and the air which we breathe we take in

etheric matter, and this is assimilated by the etheric part of the body. Etheric

matter is constantly being thrown off from the pores, just as is gaseous matter,

so that when two persons are close together each necessarily absorbs much of the

physical emanations of the other.

When one person mesmerises another, the operator by an effort of will gathers

together a great deal of this magnetism and throws it into the subject, pushing

back his victim' s nerve-fluid, and filling its place with his own. As the brain

is the centre of this nervous circulation, this brings that part of the subject'

s body which is affected under the control of the manipulator' s brain instead

of the victim' s, and so the latter feels what the mesmerist wishes him to feel.

If the recipient' s brain be emptied of his own magnetism and filled with that

of the performer, the former can think and act only as the latter wills that he

should think and act; he is for the time entirely dominated.

Even when the magnetiser is trying to cure, and is pouring strength into the

man, he inevitably gives along with the vitality much of his own emanations. It

is obvious that any disease which the mesmeriser happens to have may readily he

conveyed to the subject in this way; and another even more important

consideration is that, though his health may be perfect from the medical point

of view, there are mental and moral diseases as well as physical, and that, as

astral and mental matter are thrown into the subject by the mesmerist along with

the physical current, these also are frequently transferred.

Vitality, like light and heat, is pouring forth from the sun continually, but

obstacles frequently arise to prevent the full supply from reaching the earth.

In the wintry and melancholy climes miscalled the temperate, it too often

happens that for days together the sky is covered by a funeral pall of heavy

cloud, and this affects vitality just as it does light; it does not altogether

hinder its passage, but sensibly diminishes its amount. Therefore in dull and

dark weather vitality runs low, and over all living creatures there comes an

instinctive yearning for sunlight.

When vitalised atoms are thus more sparsely scattered, the man in rude health

increases his power of absorption, depletes a larger area, and so keeps his

strength at the normal level; but invalids and men of small nerve-force, who

cannot do this, often suffer severely, and find themselves growing weaker and

more irritable without knowing why. For similar reasons vitality is at a lower

ebb in the winter than in the summer, for even if the short winter day be sunny,

which is rare, we have still to face the long and dreary winter night, during

which we must exist upon such vitality as the day has stored in our atmosphere.

On the other hand the long summer day, when bright and cloudless, charges the

atmosphere so thoroughly with vitality that its short night makes but little


From the study of this question of vitality, the occultist cannot fail to

recognise that, quite apart from temperature, sunlight is one of the most

important factors in the attainment and preservation of perfect health-- a

factor for the absence of which nothing else can entirely compensate. Since this

vitality is poured forth not only upon the physical world but upon all others as

well, it is evident that, when in other respects satisfactory conditions are

present, emotion, intellect and spirituality will be at their best under clear

skies and with the inestimable aid of the sunlight.

All the colours of this order of vitality are etheric, yet it will be seen that

their action presents certain correspondences with the signification attached to

similar hues in the astral body. Clearly right thought and right feeling react

upon the physical body, and increase its power to assimilate the vitality which

is necessary for its well-being. It is reported that the Lord BUDDHA once said

that the first step on the road to Nirvana is perfect physical health; and

assuredly the way to attain that is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path which He

has indicated. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all

these things shall be added unto you”-- yes, even physical health as well.

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




THE vagaries of the weather are proverbial, and though observation and study of

its phenomena enable us to venture upon certain limited predictions, the

ultimate cause of most of the changes still escapes us, and will continue to do

so until we realise that there are considerations to be taken into account

besides the action of heat and cold, of radiation and condensation. The earth

itself is living; this ball of matter is being used as a physical body by a vast

entity-- not an Adept or an angel, not a highly developed being at all, but

rather something which may be imagined as a kind of gigantic nature-spirit, for

whom the existence of our earth is one incarnation. His previous incarnation was

naturally in the moon since that was the fourth planet of the last chain, and

equally naturally his next incarnation will be in the fourth planet of the chain

that will succeed ours when the evolution of our terrestrial chain is completed.

Of his nature or the character of his evolution we can know but little, nor does

it in any way concern us, for we are to him but as tiny microbes or parasites

upon his body, and in all probability he is unaware even of our existence, for

nothing that we can do can be on a scale large enough to affect him.

For him the atmosphere surrounding the earth must be as a kind of aura, or

perhaps rather corresponding to the film of etheric matter which projects ever

so slightly beyond the outline of man' s dense physical body; and just as any

alteration or disturbance in the man affects this film of aether, so must any

change of condition in this spirit of the earth affect the atmosphere. Some such

changes must be periodic and regular, like the motions produced in us by

breathing, by the action of the heart or by an even movement, such as walking;

others must be irregular and occasional, as would be the changes produced in a

man by a sudden start, or by an outburst of emotion.

We know that violent emotion, astral in its origin though it be, produces

chemical changes and variations of temperature in the human physical body;

whatever corresponds to such emotion in the spirit of the earth may well cause

chemical changes in his physical body also, and variations of temperature in its

immediate surroundings. Now variations of temperature in the atmosphere mean

wind; sudden and violent variations mean storm; and chemical changes beneath the

surface of the earth not infrequently cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

No student of occultism will fall into the common error of regarding as evil

such outbursts as storms or eruptions, because they sometimes destroy human

life; for he will recognise that, whatever the immediate cause may be, all that

happens is part of the working of the great immutable law of justice, and that

He who doeth all things most certainly doeth all things well. This aspect of

natural phenomena, however, will be considered in a later chapter.


It cannot be questioned that men are much and variously affected by the weather.

There is a general consensus of opinion that gloomy weather is depressing; but

this is mainly due to the fact that in the absence of sunlight there is, as has

already been explained, a lack of vitality. Some people, however, take an actual

delight in rain or snow or high wind. There is in these disturbances something

which produces a distinct pleasurable sensation which quickens their vibrations

and harmonises with the key-note of their nature. It is probable that this is

not entirely or even chiefly due to the physical disturbance; it is rather that

the subtle change in the aura of the spirit of the earth (which produces or

coincides with this phenomenon) is one with which their spirits are in sympathy.

A still more decided instance of this is the effect of a thunder-storm. There

are many people in whom it produces a curious sense of overwhelming fear

entirely out of proportion to any physical danger that it can be supposed to

bring. In others, on the contrary, the electrical storm produces wild

exultation. The influence of electricity on the physical nerves no doubt plays a

part in producing these unusual sensations, but their true cause lies deeper

than that.

The effect produced upon people by these various manifestations depends upon the

preponderance in their temperament of certain types of elemental essence which,

because of this sympathetic vibration, used to be called by mediaeval enquirers

earthy, watery, airy or fiery. Exactly in the same way the effect of the various

sections of our surroundings will be greater or less upon men according as they

have more or less of one or other of these constituents in their composition. To

the man who responds most readily to earth influences, the nature of the soil

upon which his house is built is of primary importance, but it matters

comparatively little to him whether it is or is not in the neighbourhood of

water; whereas the man who responds most readily to the radiations of water

would care little about the soil so long as he had the ocean or a lake within

sight and within easy reach.


Influence is perpetually radiated upon us by all objects of nature, even by the

very earth upon which we tread. Each type of rock or soil has its own special

variety, and the differences between them are great, so that their effect is by

no means to be neglected. In the production of this effect three factors bear

their part-- the life of the rock itself, the kind of elemental essence

appropriate to its astral counterpart, and the kind of nature-spirits which it

attracts. The life of the rock is simply the life of the Second Great Outpouring

which has arrived at the stage of ensouling the mineral kingdom, and the

elemental essence is a later wave of that same divine Life which is one

chain-period behind the other, and has yet in its descent into matter reached

only the astral world. The nature-spirit belong to a different evolution

altogether, to which we shall refer in due course.

The point for us to bear in mind for the moment is that each kind of soil--

granite or sandstone, chalk, clay or lava, has its definite influence upon those

who live on it-- an influence which never ceases. Night and day, summer and

winter, year in and year out, this steady pressure is being exercised, and it

has its part in the moulding of races and districts, types as well as

individuals. All these matters are as yet but little comprehended by ordinary

science, but there can be no doubt that in time to come these effects will be

thoroughly studied, and the doctors of the future will take them into account,

and prescribe a change of soil as well as of air for their patients.

An entirely new and distinct set of agencies is brought into play wherever water

exists, whether it be in the form of lake, river or sea-- powerful in different

ways in all of them truly, but most powerful and observable in the last. Here

also the same three factors have to be considered-- the life of the water

itself, the elemental essence pervading it, and the type of nature-spirits

associated with it.


Strong influences are radiated by the vegetable kingdom also, and the different

kinds of plants and trees vary greatly in their effect. Those who have not

specially studied the subject invariably under-rate the strength, capacity and

intelligence shown in vegetable life. I have already written upon this in The

Christian Creed, p. 51 (2nd edition), so I will not repeat myself here, but will

rather draw attention to the fact that trees-- especially old trees-- have a

strong and definite individuality, well worthy the name of a soul. This soul,

though temporary, in the sense that it is not yet a reincarnating entity, is

nevertheless possessed of considerable power and intelligence along its own


It has decided likes and dislikes, and to clairvoyant sight it shows quite

clearly by a vivid rosy flush an emphatic enjoyment of the sunlight and the

rain, and distinct pleasure also in the presence of those whom it has learnt to

like, or with whom it has sympathetic vibrations. Emerson appears to have

realised this, for he is quoted in Hutton' s Reminiscences as saying of his

trees: “I am sure they miss me; they seem to droop when I go away, and I know

they brighten and bloom when I go back to them and shake hands with their lower


An old forest tree is a high development of vegetable life, and when it is

transferred from that kingdom it does not pass into the lowest form of animal

life. In some cases its individuality is even sufficiently distinct to allow it

to manifest itself temporarily outside its physical form, and when that is so it

often takes the human shape. Matters may be otherwise arranged in other solar

systems for aught we know, but in ours the Deity has chosen the human form to

enshrine the highest intelligence, to be carried on to the utmost perfection as

His scheme develops: and because that is so, there is always a tendency among

lower kinds of life to reach upwards towards that form, and in their primitive

way to imagine themselves as possessing it.

Thus it happens that such creatures as gnomes or elves, whose bodies are of

fluidic nature, of astral or etheric matter which is plastic under the influence

of the will, habitually adopts some approximation to the appearance of humanity.

Thus also when it is possible for the soul of a tree to externalise itself and

become visible, it is almost always in human shape that it is seen. Doubtless

these were the dryads of classical times; and the occasional appearance of such

figures may account for the widely-spread custom of tree-worship. Omne ignotum

pro magnifico; and if primitive man saw a huge, grave human form come forth from

a tree, he was likely enough in his ignorance to set up an altar there and

worship it, not in the least understanding that he himself stood far higher in

evolution than it did, and that its very assumption of his image was an

acknowledgment of that fact.

The occult side of the instinct of a plant is also exceedingly interesting; its

one great object, like that of some human beings, is always to found a family

and reproduce its species; and it has certainly a feeling of active enjoyment in

its success, in the colour and beauty of its flowers and in their efficiency in

attracting bees and other insects. Unquestionably plants feel admiration

lavished upon them and delight in it; they are sensitive to human affection and

they return it in their own way.

When all this is borne in mind, it will readily be understood that trees

exercise much more influence over human beings than is commonly supposed, and

that he who sets himself to cultivate sympathetic and friendly relations with

all his neighbours, vegetable as well as animal and human, may both receive and

give a great deal of which the average man knows nothing, and may thus make his

life fuller, wider, more complete.


The classification of the vegetable kingdom adopted by the occultist follows the

line of the seven great types mentioned in our previous chapter on planetary

influences, and each of these is divided into seven sub-types. If we imagine

ourselves trying to tabulate the vegetable kingdom, these divisions would

naturally be perpendicular, nor horizontal. We should not have trees as one

type, shrubs as another, ferns as a third, grasses or mosses as a fourth; rather

we should find trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, mosses of each of the seven types,

so that along each line all the steps of the ascending scale are represented.

One might phrase it that when the Second Outpouring is ready to descend, seven

great channels, each with its seven subdivisions, lie open for its choice; but

the channel through which it passes gives it a certain colouring-- a set of

temperamental characteristics-- which it never wholly loses, so that although in

order to express itself it needs matter belonging to all the different types, it

has always a preponderance of its own type, and always recognisably belongs to

that type and no other, until after its evolution is over it returns as a

glorified spiritual power to the Deity from whom it originally emerged as a mere

undeveloped potentiality.

The vegetable kingdom is only one stage in this stupendous course, yet these

different types are distinguishable in it, just as they are among animals or

human beings, and each has its own special influence, which may be soothing or

helpful to one man, distressing or irritating to another, and inert in the case

of a third, according to his type and to his condition at the time. Training and

practice are necessary to enable the student to assign the various plants and

trees to their proper classes, but the distinction between the magnetism

radiated by the oak and the pine, the palm tree and the banyan, the olive and

the eucalyptus, the rose and the lily, the violet and the sunflower, cannot fail

to be obvious to any sensitive person. Wide as the poles asunder is the

dissimilarity between the ` feeling' of an English forest and a tropical jungle,

or the bush of Australia or New Zealand.


For thousand of years man has lived so cruelly that all wild creatures fear and

avoid him, so the influence upon him of the animal kingdom is practically

confined to that of the domestic animals. In our relations with these our

influence over them is naturally far more potent than theirs over us, yet this

latter is by no means to be ignored. A man who has really made friends with an

animal is often much helped and strengthened by the affection lavished upon him.

Being more advanced, a man is naturally capable of greater love than an animal

is; but the animal' s affection is usually more concentrated, and he is far more

likely to throw the whole of his energy into it than a man is.

The very fact of the man' s higher development gives him a multiplicity of

interests, among which his attention is divided; the animal often pours the

entire strength of his nature into one channel, and so produces a most powerful

effect. The man has a hundred other matters to think about, and the current of

his love consequently cannot but be variable; when the dog or the cat develops a

really great affection it fills the whole of his life, and he therefore keeps a

steady stream of force always playing upon its object-- a factor whose value is

by no means to be ignored.

Similarly the man who is so wicked as to provoke by cruelty the hatred and fear

of domestic animals becomes by a righteous retribution the centre of converging

forces of antipathy; for such conduct arouses deep indignation among

nature-spirits and other astral and etheric entities, as well as among all

right-minded men, whether living or dead.


Since it is emphatically true that no man can afford to be disliked or feared by

his cat or dog, it is clear that the same consideration applies with still

greater force to the human beings who surround him. It is not easy to

overestimate the importance to a man of winning the kindly regard of those with

whom he is in constant association-- to overrate the value to a schoolmaster of

the attitude towards him of his pupils, to a merchant of the feeling of his

clerks, to an officer of the devotion of his men; and this entirely apart from

the obvious effects produced in the physical world. If a man holding any such

position as one of these is able to arouse the enthusiastic affection of his

subordinates, he becomes the focus upon which many streams of such forces are

constantly converging. Not only does this greatly uplift and strengthen him, but

it also enables him, if he understands something of the working of occult laws,

to be of far greater use to those who feel the affection, and to do much more

with them than would otherwise be possible.

To obtain this result it is not in the least necessary that they should agree

with him in opinion; with the particular effect with which we are at present

concerned their mental attitude has no connection whatever; it is a matter of

strong, kindly feeling. If the feeling should unfortunately be of an opposite

kind-- if the man is feared or despised-- currents of antipathy are perpetually

flowing towards him, which cause weakness and discord in the vibrations of his

higher vehicles, and also cut him off from the possibility of doing satisfactory

and fruitful work with those under his charge.

It is not only the force of the feeling sent out by the person; like attracts

like in the astral world as well as the physical. There are always masses of

vague thought floating about in the atmosphere, some of them good and some evil,

but all alike ready to reinforce any decided thought of their own type. Also

there are nature-spirits of low order, which enjoy the coarse vibrations of

anger and hatred, and are therefore very willing to throw themselves into any

current of such nature. By doing so they intensify the undulations, and add

fresh life to them. All this tends to strengthen the effect produced by the

converging streams of unfavourable thought and feeling.

It has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps. It is also to a

large extent true that he is made by it, for those with whom he constantly

associates are all the while unconsciously influencing him and bringing him by

degrees more and more into harmony with such undulations as they radiate. He who

is much in the presence of a large-minded and unworldly man has a fine

opportunity of himself becoming large-minded and unworldly, for a steady though

imperceptible pressure in that direction is perpetually being exerted upon him,

so that it is easier for him to grow in that way than in any other. For the same

reason a man who spends his time loafing in a public-house with the idle and

various is exceedingly likely to end by becoming idle and vicious himself. The

study of the hidden side of things emphatically endorses the old proverb that

evil communications corrupt good manners.

This fact of the enormous influence of close association with a more advanced

personality is well understood in the East, where it is recognised that the most

important and effective part of the training of a disciple is that he shall live

constantly in the presence of his teacher and bathe in his aura. The various

vehicles of the teacher are all vibrating with a steady and powerful swing at

rates both higher and more regular than any which the pupil can yet maintain,

though he may sometimes reach them for a few moments; but the constant pressure

of the stronger thought-waves of the teacher gradually raises those of the pupil

into the same key. A person who has as yet but little musical ear finds it

difficult to sing correct intervals alone, but if he joins with another stronger

voice which is already perfectly trained, his task becomes easier-- which may

serve as a kind of rough analogy.


The great point is that the dominant note of the teacher is always sounding, so

that its action is affecting the pupil night and day without need of any special

thought on the part of either of them. Growth and change must of course be

ceaselessly taking place in the vehicles of the pupil, as in those of all other

men; but the powerful undulations emanating from the teacher render it easy for

this growth to take place in the right direction, and exceedingly difficult for

it to go any other way, somewhat as the splints which surround a broken limb

ensure that its growth shall be only in the right line, so as to avoid


No ordinary man, acting automatically and without intention, will be able to

exercise even a hundredth part of the carefully-directed influence of a

spiritual teacher; but numbers may to some extent compensate for lack of

individual power, so that the ceaseless though unnoticed pressure exercised upon

us by the opinions and feelings of our associates leads us frequently to absorb

without knowing it many of their prejudices. It is distinctly undesirable that a

man should remain always among one set of people and hear only one set of views.

It is eminently necessary that he should know something of other sets, for only

in that way can he learn to see good in all; only thoroughly understanding both

sides of any case can he form an opinion that has any right to be called a real

judgment. The prejudiced person is always and necessarily an ignorant person;

and the only way in which his ignorance can be dispelled is by getting outside

his own narrow little circle, and learning to look at things for himself and see

what they really are-- not what those who know nothing about them suppose them

to be.


The extent to which our human surroundings influence us is only realised when we

change them for awhile, and the most effective method of doing this is to travel

in a foreign country. But true travel is not to rush from one gigantic

caravanserai to another, consorting all the time with one' s own countrymen, and

grumbling at every custom which differs from those of our particular Little

Pedlington. It is rather to live for a time quietly in some foreign land, trying

to get really to know its people and to understand them; to study a custom and

see why it has arisen, and what good there is in it, instead of condemning it

off-hand because it is not our own. The man who does this will soon come to

recognise the characteristic traits of the various races -- to comprehend such

fundamental diversities as those between the English and the Irish, the Hindu

and the American, the Breton and the Sicilian, and yet to realise that they are

to be looked upon not as one better than another, but as the different colours

that go to make up the rainbow, the different movements that are all necessary,

as parts of the great oratorio of life.

Each has its part to play in affording opportunity for the evolution of egos who

need just its influence, who are lacking in just its characteristics. Each race

has behind it a mighty angel, the Spirit of the Race, who under the direction of

the Manu preserves its special qualities and guides it along the line destined

for it. A new race is born when in the scheme of evolution a new type a

temperament is needed; a race dies out when all the egos who can be benefited by

it have passed through it. The influence of the Spirit of a Race thoroughly

permeates the country or district over which his supervision extends, and is

naturally a factor of the greatest importance to any visitor who is in the least


The ordinary tourist is too often imprisoned in the triple armour of aggressive

race-prejudice; he is so full of conceit over the supposed excellencies of his

own nation that he is incapable of seeing good in any other. The wiser

traveller, who is willing to open his heart to the action of higher forces, may

receive from this source much that is valuable, both of instruction and

experience. But in order to do that, he must begin by putting himself in the

right attitude; he must be ready to listen rather then to talk, to learn rather

than to boast, to appreciate rather than to criticise, to try to understand

rather than rashly to condemn.

To achieve such a result is the true object of travel, and we have a far better

opportunity for this than was afforded to our forefathers. Methods of

communication are so much improved that it is now possible for almost anyone to

achieve quickly and cheaply journeys that would have been entirely impossible a

century ago, except for the rich and leisured class. Along with these

possibilities of intercommunication has come the wide dissemination of foreign

news by means of the telegraph and the newspaper press, so that even those who

do not actually leave their own country still know much more about others than

was ever possible before. Without all these facilities there never could have

been a Theosophical Society, or at least it could not have had its present

character, nor could it have reached its present level of effectiveness.

The first object of the Theosophical Society is the promotion of universal

brotherhood, and nothing helps so much to induce brotherly feeling between

nations as full and constant intercourse with one another. When people know one

another only by hearsay, all sorts of absurd prejudices grow up, but when they

come to know one another intimately, each finds that the other is after all a

human being much like himself, with the same interests and objects, the same

joys and sorrows.

In the old days each nation lived to a large extent in a condition of selfish

isolation, and if trouble of some sort fell upon one, it had usually no

resources but its own upon which it could depend. Now the whole world is so

closely drawn together that if there is a famine in India help is sent from

America; if an earthquake devastates one of the countries of Europe,

subscriptions for the sufferers pour in at once from all the others. However far

away as yet may be the perfect realisation of universal brotherhood, it is clear

that we are at least drawing nearer to it; we have not yet learnt entirely to

trust one another, but at least we are ready to help one another, and that is

already a long step upon the roads towards becoming really one family.

We know how often travel is recommended as a cure for many physical ills,

especially for those which manifest themselves through the various forms of

nervous derangement. Most of us find it to be fatiguing, yet also undeniably

exhilarating, though we do not always realise that this is not only because of

the change of air and of the ordinary physical impressions, but also because of


the change of the etheric and astral influences which are connected with each

place and district.

Ocean, mountain, forest or waterfall-- each has its own special type of life,

astral and etheric as well as visible; and, therefore, its own special set of

impressions and influences. Many of these unseen entities are pouring out

vitality, and in any case, the vibrations which they radiate awaken unaccustomed

portions of our etheric double, and of our astral and mental bodies, and the

effect is like the exercise of muscles which are not ordinarily called into

activity-- somewhat tiring at the time, yet distinctly healthy and desirable in

the long run.

The town-dweller is accustomed to his surroundings, and usually does not realise

the horror of them until he leaves them for a time. To dwell beside a busy main

street is from the astral point of view like living on the brink of an open

sewer-- a river of fetid mud which is always throwing up splashes and noisome

odours as it rolls along. No man, however unimpressionable, can endure this

indefinitely without deterioration, and an occasional change into the country is

a necessity on the ground of moral as well as physical health. In travelling

from the town into the country, too, we leave behind us to a great extent the

stormy sea of warring human passion and labour, and such human thoughts as still

remain to act upon us are usually of the less selfish and more elevated kind.

In the presence of one of nature' s great wonders, such as the Falls of Niagara,

almost everyone is for the time drawn out of himself, and out of the petty round

of daily care and selfish desire, so that his thought is nobler and broader, and

the thought-forms which he leaves behind him are correspondingly less disturbing

and more helpful. These considerations once more make it evident that in order

to obtain the full benefit of travel a man must pay attention to nature and

allow it to act upon him. If he is wrapped up all the while in selfish and

gloomy thoughts, crushed by financial trouble, or brooding over his own sickness

and weakness, little benefit can be derived from the healing influences.

Another point is that certain places are permeated by certain special types of

thought. The consideration of this matter belongs rather to another chapter, but

we may introduce it so far as to mention that the frame of mind in which people

habitually visit a certain place reacts strongly upon all the other visitors to

it. Popular seaside resorts in England have about them an air of buoyancy and

irresponsibility, a determined feeling of holiday life, of temporary freedom

from business and of the resolution to make the most of it, from the influence

of which it is difficult to escape. Thus the jaded and overworked man who spends

his well-earned holiday in such a place, obtains quite a different result from

that which would follow if he simply stayed quietly at home. To sit at home

would probably be less fatiguing, but also much less stimulating.

To take a country walk is to travel in miniature, and in order to appreciate its

healthful effect we must bear in mind what has been said of all the different

vibrations issuing from various kinds of trees or plants, and even from

different kinds of soil or rock. All these act as kind of massage upon the

etheric, astral and mental bodies, and tend to relieve the strain which the

worries of our common life persistently exert upon certain parts of these


Glimpses of the truth on these points may sometimes be caught from the

traditions of the peasantry. For example, there is a widely-spread belief that

strength may be gained from sleeping under a pine-tree with the head to the

north. For some cases this is suitable, and the rationale of it is that there

are magnetic currents always flowing over the surface of the earth which are

quite unknown to ordinary men. These by steady, gentle pressure gradually comb

out the entanglements and strengthen the particles both of the astral body and

of the etheric part of the physical, and thus bring them more into harmony and

introduce rest and calm. The part played by the pine-tree is, first, that its

radiations make the man sensitive to those magnetic currents, and bring him into

a state in which it is possible for them to act upon him, and secondly, that (as

has already been explained) it is constantly throwing off vitality in that

special condition in which it is easiest for man to absorb it.

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




ANOTHER factor which exercises great influence under certain restrictions is the

nature-spirit. We may regard the nature-spirits of the land as in a sense the

original inhabitants of the country, driven away from some parts of it by the

invasion of man, much as the wild animals have been. Just like wild animals, the

nature-spirits avoid altogether the great cities and all places where men most

do congregate, so that in those their effect is a negligible quantity. But in

all quiet country places, among the woods and fields, upon the mountains or out

at sea, nature-spirits are constantly present, and though they rarely show

themselves, their influence is powerful and all-pervading, just as the scent of

the violets fills the air though they are hidden modestly among the leaves.

The nature-spirits constitute an evolution apart, quite distinct at this stage

from that of humanity. We are familiar with the course taken by the Second

Outpouring through the three elemental kingdoms, down to the mineral and upward

through the vegetable and animal, to the attainment of individuality at the

human level. We know that, after that individuality has been attained, the

unfolding of humanity carries us gradually to the steps of the Path, and then

onward and upward to Adeptship and to the glorious possibilities which lie


This is our line of development, but we must not make the mistake of thinking of

it as the only line. Even in this world of ours the divine life is pressing

upwards through several streams, of which ours is but one, and numerically by no

means the most important. It may help us to realise this if we remember that

while humanity in its physical manifestation occupies only quite a small part of

the surface of the earth, entities at a corresponding level on other lines of

evolution not only crowd the earth far more thickly than man, but at the same

time populate the enormous plains of the sea and the fields of the air.


At this present stage we find these streams running parallel to one another, but

for the time quite distinct. The nature-spirits, for example, neither have been

nor ever will be members of a humanity such as ours, yet the indwelling life of

the nature-spirit comes from the same Solar Deity as our own, and will return to

Him just as ours will. The streams may be roughly considered as flowing side by

side as far as the mineral level, but as soon as they turn to commence the

upward arc of evolution, divergence begins to appear. This stage of

immetalisation is naturally that at which life is most deeply immersed in

physical matter but while some of the streams retain physical forms through

several of the further stages of their development, making them, as they

proceed, more and more an expression of the life within , there are other

streams which at once begin to cast off the grosser, and for the rest of their

unfolding in this world use only bodies composed of etheric matter.

One of these streams, for example, after finishing that stage of its evolvement

in which it is part of the mineral monad, instead of passing into the vegetable

kingdom takes for itself vehicles of etheric matter which inhabit the interior

of the earth, living actually within the solid rock. It is difficult for many

students to understand how it is possible for any kind of creature thus to

inhabit the solid substance of the rock or the crust of the earth. Creatures

possessing bodies of etheric matter find the substance of the rock no impediment

to their motion or their vision. Indeed, for them physical matter in its solid

state is their natural element and habitat-- the only one to which they are

accustomed and in which they feel at home. These vague lower lives in amorphous

etheric vehicles are not readily comprehensible to us; but somehow they

gradually evolve to a stage when, though still inhabiting the solid rock, they

live close to the surface of the earth instead of in its depths, and the more

developed of them are able occasionally to detach themselves from it for a short


These creatures have sometimes been seen, and perhaps more frequently heard, in

caves or mines, and they are often described in mediaeval literature as gnomes.

The etheric matter of their bodies is not, under ordinary conditions, visible to

physical eyes, so that when they are seen one of two things must take place;

either they must materialise themselves by drawing round them a veil of physical

matter, or else the spectator must experience an increase of sensitiveness which

enables him to respond to the wave-lengths of the higher aethers, and to see

what is not normally perceptible to him.

The slight temporary exaltation of faculty necessary for this is not very

uncommon nor difficult to achieve, and on the other hand materialisation is easy

for creatures which are only just beyond the bounds of visibility; so that they

would be seen far more frequently than they are, but for the rooted objection to

the proximity of human beings which they share with all but the lowest types of

nature-spirits. The next stage of their advancement brings them into the

subdivision commonly called fairies-- the type of nature-spirits which usually

live upon the surface of the earth as we do, though still using only an etheric

body; and after that they pass on through the air-spirits into the kingdom of

the angels in a way which will be explained later.

The life-wave which is at the mineral level is manifesting itself not only

through the rocks which form the solid crust of the earth, but also through the

waters of the ocean; and just as the former may pass through low etheric forms

of life (at present unknown to man) in the interior of the earth, so the latter

may pass through corresponding low etheric forms which have their dwelling in

the depths of the sea. In this case also the next stage or kingdom brings us

into more definite though still etheric forms inhabiting the middle depths, and

very rarely showing themselves at the surface. The third stage for them

(corresponding to that of the fairies for the rock-spirits) is to join the

enormous host of water-spirits which cover the vast plains of the ocean with

their joyous life.

Taking as they do bodies of etheric matter only, it will be seen that the

entities following these lines of development miss altogether the vegetable and

animal kingdoms as well the human. There are, however, other types of

nature-spirits which enter into both these kingdoms before they begin to

diverge. In the ocean, for example, there is a stream of life which, after

leaving the mineral level, touches the vegetable kingdom in the form of

seaweeds, and then passes on, through the corals and the sponges and the huge

cephalopods of the middle deeps, up into the great family of the fishes, and

only after that joins the ranks of water-spirits.

It will be seen that these retain the dense physical body as a vehicle up to a

much higher level; and in the same way we notice that the fairies of the land

are recruited not only from the ranks of the gnomes, but also from the less

evolved strata of the animal kingdom, for we find a line of development which

just touches the vegetable kingdom in the shape of minute fungoid growths, and

then passes onward through bacteria and animalculae of various kinds, through

the insects and reptiles up to the beautiful family of the birds, and only after

many incarnations among these joins the still more joyous tribe of the fairies.

Yet another stream diverges into etheric life at an intermediate point, for

while it comes up through the vegetable kingdom in the shape of grasses and

cereals, it turns aside thence into the animal kingdom and is conducted through

the curious communities of the ants and bees, and then through a set of etheric

creatures closely corresponding to the latter-- those tiny humming-bird-like

nature-spirits which are so continually seen hovering about flowers and plants,

and play so large a part in the production of their manifold variations-- their

playfulness being often utilised in specialisation and in the helping of growth.


It is necessary, however, to draw a careful distinction here, to avoid

confusion. The little creatures that look after flowers may be divided into two

great classes, though of course there are many varieties of each kind. The first

class may properly be called elementals, for beautiful though they are, they are

in reality only thought-forms, and therefore they are not really living

creatures at all. Perhaps I should rather say that they are only temporarily

living creatures, for though they are very active and busy during their little

lives, they have no real evolving, reincarnating life in them, and when they

have done their work, they just go to pieces and dissolve into the surrounding

atmosphere, precisely as our own thought-forms do. They are the thought-forms of

the Great Beings or angels who are in charge of the evolution of the vegetable


When one of these Great Ones has a new idea connected with one of the kinds of

plants or flowers which are under his charge, he often creates a thought-form

for the special purpose of carrying out that idea. It usually takes the form

either of an etheric model of the flower itself or of a little creature which

hangs round the plant or the flower all through the time that the buds are

forming, and gradually builds them into the shape and colour of which the angel

has thought. But as soon as the plant has fully grown, or the flower has opened,

its work is over and its power is exhausted, and, as I have said, it just simply

dissolves, because the will to do that piece of work was the only soul that it


But there is quite another kind of little creature which is very frequently seen

playing about with flowers, and this time it is a real nature-spirit. There are

many varieties of these also. One of the commonest forms is, as I have said,

something very much like a tiny humming-bird, and it may often be seen buzzing

round the flowers much in the same way as a humming-bird or a bee does. These

beautiful little creatures will never become human, because they are not in the

same line of evolution as we are. The life which is now animating them has come

up through grasses and cereals, such as wheat and oats, when it was in the

vegetable kingdom, and afterwards through ants and bees when it was in the

animal kingdom. Now it has reached the level of these tiny nature-spirits, and

its next stage will be to ensoul some of the beautiful fairies with etheric

bodies who live upon the surface of the earth. Later on they will become

salamanders or fire-spirits, and later still they will become sylphs, or

air-spirits, having only astral bodies instead of etheric. Later still they will

pass through the different stages of the great kingdom of the angels.


In all cases of the transference of the life-wave from one kingdom to another

great latitude is allowed for variation; there is a good deal of overlapping

between the kingdoms. That is perhaps most clearly to be seen along our own line

of evolution for we find that the life which has attained to the highest levels

in the vegetable kingdom never passes into the lower part of the animal kingdom

at all, but on the contrary joins it at a fairly advanced stage. Let me recall

the example which I have already given; the life which has ensouled one of our

great forest trees could never descend to animate a swarm of mosquitoes, nor

even a family of rats or mice or such small deer; while these latter would be

quite appropriate forms for that part of the life-wave which had left the

vegetable kingdom at the level of the daisy or the dandelion.

The ladder of evolution has to be climbed in all cases, but it seems as though

the higher part of one kingdom lies to a large extent parallel with the lower

part of that above it, so that it is possible for a transfer from one to the

other to take place at different levels in different cases. That stream of life

which enters the human kingdom avoids altogether the lowest stages of the animal

kingdom; that is, the life which is presently to rise into humanity never

manifests itself through the insects or the reptiles; in the past it did

sometimes enter the animal kingdom at the level of the great antediluvian

reptiles, but now it passes directly from the highest forms of the vegetable

life into the mammalia. Similarly, when the most advanced domestic animal

becomes individualised, he does not need to descend into the form of the

absolutely primitive savage for his first human incarnation.

The accompanying diagram shows some of these lines of development in a

convenient tabular form, but it must not be considered as in any way exhaustive,

as there are no doubt other lines which have not yet been observed, and there

are certainly all kinds of variations and possibilities of crossing at different

levels from one line to another; so that all we can do is to give a broad

outline of the scheme.

As will be seen from the diagram, at a later stage all the lines of evolution

converge once more; at least to our dim sight there seems no distinction of


glory among those Lofty Ones, though probably if we knew more we could make our

table more complete. At any rate we know that, much as humanity lies above the

animal kingdom, so beyond and above humanity in its turn lies the great kingdom

of the angels, and that to enter among the angels is one of the seven

possibilities which the Adept finds opening before him. That same kingdom is

also the next stage for the nature-spirit, but we have here another instance of

the overlapping previously mentioned, for the Adept joins that kingdom at a high

level, omitting altogether three of its stages, while the next step of progress

for the highest type of nature-spirit is to become the lowest class of angel,

thus beginning at the bottom of that particular ladder instead of stepping on to

it half-way up.

It is on joining the angel kingdom that the nature-spirit receives the divine

Spark of the Third Outpouring, and thus attains individuality, just as the

animal does when he passes into the human kingdom; and a further point of

similarity is that just as the animal gains individualisation only through

contact with humanity, so the nature-spirit gains it through contact with the

angel-- through becoming attached to him and working in order to please him,

until at last he learns how to do angel' s work himself.

The more advanced nature-spirit is therefore not exactly an etheric or astral

human being, for he is not yet an individual; yet he is much more than an

etheric or astral animal, for his intellectual level is far higher than anything

which we find in the animal kingdom, and is indeed quite equal along many lines

to that of average humanity. On the other hand, some of the earlier varieties

possess but a limited amount of intelligence, and seem to be about on an

equality with the humming-birds or bees or butterflies which they so closely

resemble. As we have seen from our diagram, this one name of nature-spirit

covers a large segment of the arc of evolution, including stages corresponding

to the whole of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and to humanity up to almost

the present level of our own race.

Some of the lower types are not pleasing to the aesthetic sense; but that is

true also of the lower kinds of reptiles and insects. There are undeveloped

tribes whose tastes are coarse, and naturally their appearance corresponds to

the stage of their evolution. The shapeless masses with huge red gaping mouths,

which live upon the loathsome etheric emanations of blood and decaying flesh,

are horrible both to the sight and to the feeling of any pure-minded person; so

also are the rapacious red-brown crustacean creatures which hover over houses of

ill-fame, and the savage octopus-like monsters which gloat over the orgies of

the drunkard and revel in the fumes of alcohol. But even these harpies are not

evil in themselves, though repulsive to man; and man would never come into

contact with them unless he degraded himself to their level by becoming the

slave of his lower passions.

It is only nature-spirits of these and similar primitive and unpleasant kinds

which voluntarily approach the average man. Others of the same sort, but a shade

less material, enjoy the sensation of bathing in any specially coarse astral

radiations, such as those produced by anger, avarice, cruelty, jealousy and

hatred. People yielding themselves to such feelings can depend upon being

constantly surrounded by these carrion crows of the astral world, who quiver in

their ghastly glee as they jostle one another in eager anticipation of an

outburst of passion, and in their blind, blundering way do whatever they can to

provoke or intensify it. It is difficult to believe that such horrors as these

can belong to the same kingdom as the jocund spirits next to be described.


The type best known to man is that of the fairies, the spirits who live normally

upon the surface of the earth, though, since their bodies are of etheric matter,

they can pass into the ground at will. Their forms are many and various, but

most frequently human in shape and somewhat diminutive in size, usually with a

grotesque exaggeration of some particular feature or limb. Etheric matter being

plastic and readily moulded by the power of thought, they are able to assume

almost any appearance at will, but they nevertheless have definite forms of

their own, which they wear when they have no special object to serve by taking

any other, and are therefore not exerting their will to produce a change of

shape. They have also colours of their own, marking the difference between their

tribes or species, just as the birds have differences of plumage.

There are an immense number of subdivisions or races among them, and individuals

of these sub-divisions vary in intelligence and disposition precisely as human

beings do. Again like human beings, these divers races inhabit different

countries, or sometimes different districts of the same country, and the members

of one race have a general tendency to keep together, just as men of one nation

do among ourselves. They are on the whole distributed much as are the other

kingdoms of nature; like the birds, from whom some of them have been evolved,

some varieties are peculiar to one country, others are common in one country and

rare elsewhere, while others again are to be found almost anywhere. Again like

the birds, it is broadly true that the most brilliantly coloured orders are to

be found in tropical countries.



The predominant types of the different parts of the world are usually clearly

distinguishable and in a sense characteristic; or is it perhaps that their

influence in the slow course of ages has moulded the men and animals and plants

who lived near them, so that it is the nature-spirit who has set the fashion and

the other kingdoms which have unconsciously followed it? For example, no

contrast could well be more marked than that between the vivacious, rollicking,

orange-and-purple or scarlet-and-gold mannikins who dance among the vineyards of

Sicily and the almost wistful grey-and-green creatures who move so much more

sedately amidst the oaks and the furze-covered heaths in Brittany, or the

golden-brown “good people” who haunt the hill-sides of Scotland.

In England the emerald-green variety is probably the commonest, and I have seen

it also in the woods of France and Belgium, in far-away Massachusetts and on the

banks of the Niagara River. The vast plains of the Dakotas are inhabited by a

black-and-white kind which I have not seen elsewhere, and California rejoices in

a lovely white-and-gold species which also appears to be unique.

In Australia the most frequent type is a very distinctive creature of a

wonderful luminous skyblue colour; but there is a wide diversity between the

etheric inhabitants of New South Wales or Victoria and those of tropical

Northern Queensland. These latter approximate closely to those of the Dutch

Indies. Java seems specially prolific in these graceful creatures, and the kinds

most common there are two distinct types, both monochromatic-- one indigo blue

with faint metallic gleamings, and the other a study in all known shades of

yellow-- quaint, but wonderfully effective and attractive.

A striking local variety is gaudily ringed with alternate bars of green and

yellow, like a football jersey. This ringed type is possibly a race peculiar to

that part of the world, for I saw red and yellow similarly arranged in the Malay

Peninsula, and green and white on the other side of the Straits in Sumatra. That

huge island also rejoices in the possession of a lovely pale heliotrope tribe

which I have seen before only in the hills of Ceylon. Down in New Zealand their

specialty is a deep blue shot with silver, while in the South Sea Islands one

meets with a silvery-white variety which coruscates with all the colours of the

rainbow, like a figure of mother-of-pearl.

In India we find all sorts, from the delicate rose-and-pale-green, or

paleblue-and-primrose of the hill country to the rich medley of gorgeously

gleaming colours, almost barbaric in their intensity and profusion, which is

characteristic of the plains. In some parts of that marvellous country I have

seen the black-and-gold type which is more usually associated with the African

desert, and also a species which resembles a statuette made out of a gleaming

crimson metal, such as was the orichalcum of the Atlanteans.

Somewhat akin to this last is a curious variety which looks as though cast out

of bronze and burnished; it appears to make its home in the immediate

neighbourhood of volcanic disturbances, since the only places in which it has

been seen so far are the slopes of Vesuvius and Etna, the interior of Java, the

Sandwich Islands, the Yellowstone Park in North America, and a certain part of

the North Island of New Zealand. Several indications seem to point to the

conclusion that this is a survival of a primitive type, and represents a sort of

intermediate stage between the gnome and the fairy.

In some cases, districts close together are found to be inhabited by quite

different classes of nature-spirits; for example, as has already been mentioned,

the emerald-green elves are common in Belgium, yet a hundred miles away in

Holland hardly one of them is to be seen, and their place is taken by a

sober-looking dark-purple species.


A curious fact is that altitude above the sea-level seems to affect their

distribution, those who belong to the mountains scarcely ever intermingling with

those of the plains. I well remember, when climbing Slieve-namon, one of the

traditionally sacred hills of Ireland, noticing the very definite lines of

demarcation between the different types. The lower slopes, like the surrounding

plains, were alive with the intensely active and mischievous little

red-and-black race which swarms all over the south and west of Ireland, being

especially attracted to the magnetic centres established nearly two thousand

years ago by the magic-working priests of the old Milesian race to ensure and

perpetuate their domination over the people by keeping them under the influence

of the great illusion. After half-an-hour' s climbing, however, not one of these

red-and-black gentry was to be seen, but instead the hillside was populous with

the gentler blue-and-brown type which long ago owed special allegiance to the


These also had their zone and their well-defined limits, and no nature-spirit of

either type ever ventured to trespass upon the space round the summit, sacred to

the great green angels who have watched there for more than two thousand years,

guarding one of the centres of living force that link the past to the future of

that mystic land of Erin. Taller far than the height of man, these giant forms,

in colour like the first new leaves of spring, soft, luminous, shimmering,

indescribable, look forth over the world with wondrous eyes that shine like

stars, full of the peace of those who live in the eternal, waiting with the calm

certainty of knowledge until the appointed time shall come. One realises very

fully the power and importance of the hidden side of things when one beholds

such a spectacle as that.

But indeed it is scarcely hidden, for the different influences are so strong and

so distinct that anyone in the least sensitive cannot but be aware of them, and

there is good reason for the local tradition that he who spends a night upon the


summit of the mountain shall awaken in the morning either a poet or a madman. A

poet, if he has proved capable of response to the exaltation of the whole being

produced by the tremendous magnetism which has played upon him while he slept; a

madman, if he was not strong enough to bear the strain.


The life-periods of the different subdivisions of nature-spirits vary greatly,

some being quite short, others much longer than our human lifetime. The

universal principle of reincarnation obtains in their existence also, though the

conditions naturally make its working slightly different. They have no phenomena

corresponding to what we mean by birth and growth; a fairy appears in his world

full-sized, as an insect does. He lives his life, short or long, without any

appearance of fatigue or need of rest, and without any perceptible signs of age

as the years pass.

But at last there comes a time when his energy seems to have exhausted itself,

when he becomes somewhat tired of life; and when that happens his body grows

more and more diaphanous until he is left as an astral entity, to live for a

time in that world among the air-spirits who represent the next stage of

development for him. Through that astral life he fades back into his group-soul,

in which he may have (if sufficiently advanced) a certain amount of conscious

existence before the cyclic law acts upon the group-soul once more by arousing

in it the desire for separation. When this happens, its pressure turns the

stream of its energy outward once more, and that desire, acting upon the plastic

astral and etheric matter, materialises a body of similar type, such as is

suitable to be an expression of the development attained in that last life.

Birth and death, therefore, are much simpler for the nature-spirit than for us,

and death is for him quite free from all thought of sorrow. Indeed, his whole

life seems simpler-- a joyous, irresponsible kind of existence, much such as a

party of happy children might lead among exceptionally favorable physical

surroundings. There is no sex among nature-spirits, there is no disease, and

there is no struggle for existence, so that they are exempt from the most

fertile causes of human suffering. They have keen affections and are capable of

forming close and lasting friendships, from which they derive profound and

never-failing joy. Jealousy and anger are possible to them, but seem quickly to

fade before the overwhelming delight in all the operations of nature which is

their most prominent characteristic.


They glory in the light and glow of the sunshine, but they dance with equal

pleasure in the moonlight; they share and rejoice in the satisfaction of the

thirsty earth and the flowers and the trees when they feel the level lances of

the rain, but they play just as happily with the falling flakes of snow; they

are content to float idly in the calm of a summer afternoon, yet they revel in

the rushing of the wind. Not only do they admire, with an intensity that few of

us can understand, the beauty of a flower or a tree, the delicacy of its colour

or the grace of its form, but they take ardent interest and deep delight in all

the processes of nature, in the flowing of sap, in the opening of buds, in the

formation and falling of leaves. Naturally this characteristic is utilised by

the Great Ones in charge of evolution, and nature-spirits are employed to assist

in the blending of colours and the arrangement of variations. They pay much

attention, too, to bird and insect life, to the hatching of the egg and to the

opening of the chrysalis, and they watch with jocund eye the play of lambs and

fawns, of leverets and squirrels.

Another inestimable advantage that an etheric evolution possesses over one which

touches the denser physical is that the necessity of eating is avoided. The body

of the fairy absorbs such nourishment as it needs, without trouble and without

stint, from the aether which of necessity always surrounds it; or rather, it is

not, strictly speaking, that nourishment is absorbed, but rather that a change

of particles is constantly taking place, those which have been drained of their

vitality being cast out and others which are full of it being drawn in to

replace them.

Though they do not eat, nature-spirits obtain from the fragrance of flowers a

pleasure analogous to that which men derive from the taste of food. The aroma is

more to them than a mere question of smell or taste, for they bathe themselves

in it so that it interpenetrates their bodies and reaches every particle


What takes for them the place of a nervous system is far more delicate than

ours, and sensitive to many vibrations which pass all unperceived by our grosser

senses, and so they find what corresponds to a scent in many plants and minerals

that have no scent for us.

Their bodies have no more internal structure than a wreath of mist, so that they

cannot be torn asunder or injured, and neither heat nor cold has any painful

effect upon them. Indeed, there is one type whose members seem to enjoy above

all things to bathe themselves in fire; they rush from all sides to any great

conflagration and fly upward with the flames again and again in wild delight,

just as a boy flies again and again down a toboggan-slide. These are the spirits

of the fire, the salamanders of mediaeval literature. Bodily pain can come to

the nature-spirit only from an unpleasant or inharmonious emanation or

vibration, but his power of rapid locomotion enables him easily to avoid these.

So far as can be observed he is entirely free from the curse of fear, which

plays so serious a part in the animal life which, along our line of evolution,

corresponds to the level of the fairies.


The fairy has an enviably fertile imagination, and it is a great part of his

daily play with his fellows to construct for them by its means all kinds of

impossible surroundings and romantic situations. He is like a child telling

stories to his playmates, but with this advantage over the child that, since the

playmates can see both etheric and lower astral matter, the forms built by his

vivid thought are plainly visible to them as his tale proceeds.

No doubt many of his narrations would to us seem childish and oddly limited in

scope, because such intelligence as the elf possesses works in directions so

different from our own, but to him they are intensely real and a source of

never-ending delight. The fairy who develops unusual talent in fiction wins

great affection and honour from the rest, and gathers round him a permanent

audience or following. When some human being chances to catch a glimpse of such

a group, he usually imports into his account of it preconceptions derived from

his own conditions, and takes the leader for a fairy king or queen, according to

the form which that leader may for the moment happen to prefer. In reality the

realm of nature-spirits needs no kind of government except the general

supervision which is exercised over it, probably unconsciously to all but its

higher members, by the Devarajas and their subordinates.


Most nature-spirits dislike and avoid mankind, and we cannot wonder at it. To

them man appears a ravaging demon, destroying and spoiling wherever he goes. He

wantonly kills, often with awful tortures, all the beautiful creatures that they

love to watch; he cuts down the trees, he tramples the grass, he plucks the

flowers and casts them carelessly aside to die; he replaces all the lovely wild

life of nature with his hideous bricks and mortar, and the fragrance of the

flowers with the mephitic vapours of his chemicals and the all-polluting smoke

of his factories. Can we think it strange that the fairies should regard us with

horror, and shrink away from us as we shrink from a poisonous reptile?

Not only do we thus bring devastation to all that they hold most dear, but most

of our habits and emanations are distasteful to them; we poison the sweet air

for them (some of us) with loathsome fumes of alcohol and tobacco; our restless,

ill-regulated desires and passions set up a constant rush of astral currents

which disturbs and annoys them, and gives them the same feeling of disgust which

we should have if a bucket of filthy water were emptied over us. For them to be

near the average man is to live in a perpetual hurricane-- a hurricane that has

blown over a cesspool. They are not great angels, with the perfect knowledge

that brings perfect patience; they are just happy and on the whole well-disposed

children-- hardly even that, many of them, but more like exceptionally

intelligent kittens; again, I say, can we wonder, when we thus habitually

outrage their best and highest feelings, that they should dislike us, distrust

us and avoid us?

There are instances on record where, by some more than ordinarily unwarranted

intrusion or annoyance on the part of man, they have been provoked into direct

retaliation and have shown distinct malice. It speaks well for their kingdom as

a whole that even under such unendurable provocation such cases are rare, and

their more usual method of trying to repel an intruder is by playing tricks upon

him, childish and mischievous often, but not seriously harmful. They take an

impish delight in misleading or deceiving him, in causing him to lose his way

across a moor, in keeping him walking round and round in a circle all night when

he believes he is going straight on, or in making him think that he sees palaces

and castles where no such structures really exist. Many a story illustrative of

this curious characteristic of the fairies may be found among the village gossip

of the peasantry in almost any lonely mountainous district.


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 mesmerised subject sees, hears, feels and believes

whatever the magnetiser wishes. The nature-spirits, however, have not the

mesmerist' 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.

The fairies cannot go beyond deception of the senses, but of that they are

undoubted masters, and cases are not wanting in which they 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 marvellous feats of the

Indian jugglers are performed, such as the celebrated basket trick, or that

other in which a rope is thrown up towards the sky and remains rigid without

support while the juggler climbs up it and disappears. The entire audience is in

fact hallucinated, and the people are made to imagine that they see and hear a

whole series of events which have not really occurred at all.

The power of glamour is simply that of making a clear, strong mental image, and

then projecting that into the mind of another. To most men this would seem

wellnigh impossible, because they have never made any such attempt in their

lives, and have no notion how to set about it. The mind of the fairy has not the

width or the range of the man' s, but it is thoroughly well accustomed to this

work of making images and impressing them on others, since it is one of the

principal occupations of the creature' s daily life.

It is not remarkable that with such constant practice he should become expert at

the business, and it is still further simplified for him when, as in the case of

the Indian tricks, exactly the same image has to be produced over and over again

hundreds of times, until every detail shapes itself without effort as the result

of unconscious habit. In trying to understand exactly how this is done, we must

bear in mind that a mental image is a very real thing-- a definite construction

in mental matter, as has been explained in Thought-Forms (p. 37); and we must

also remember that the line of communication between the mind and the dense

physical brain passes through the astral and etheric counterparts of that brain,

and that the line may be tapped and an impression introduced at any of these


Certain of the nature-spirits not infrequently exercise their talent for mimicry

and mischief by appearing at spiritualistic séances held for physical phenomena.

Anyone who has been in the habit of attending on such occasions will recollect

instances of practical joking and silly though usually good-natured horse-play;

these almost always indicate the presence of some of these impish creatures,

though they are sometimes due to the arrival of dead men who were senseless

enough during earth-life to consider such inanities amusing, and have not learnt

wisdom since their death.


On the other hand there are instances in which some nature-spirits have made

friends with individual human beings and offered them such assistance as lay in

their power, as in the well known stories told of Scotch brownies or of the

fire-lighting fairies of spiritualistic literature; and it is on record that on

rare occasions certain favoured men have been admitted to witness elfin revels

and share for a time the elfin life. It is said that wild animals will approach

with confidence some Indian yogis, recognising them as friends to all living

creatures; similarly elves will gather round one who has entered upon the Path

of Holiness, finding his emanations less stormy and more agreeable than those of

the man whose mind is still fixed upon worldly matters.

Occasionally fairies have been known to attach themselves to little children,

and develop a strong attachment for them, especially for such as are dreamy and

imaginative, since they are able to see and delight in the thought-forms with

which such a child surrounds himself. There have even been cases in which such

creatures took a fancy to some unusually attractive baby, and made an attempt to

carry it away into their own haunts-- their intention being to save it from what

seems to them the horrible fate of growing up into the average human being!

Vague traditions of such attempts account for part of the folk-lore stories

about changelings, though there is also another reason for them to which we

shall refer later.

There have been times-- more often in the past than in the present-- when a

certain class of these entities, roughly corresponding to humanity in size and

appearance, made it a practice frequently to materialise, to make for themselves

temporary but definite physical bodies, and by that means to enter into

undesirable relations with such men and women as chose to put themselves in

their way. From this fact, perhaps, come some of the stories of fauns and satyrs

in the classical period; though those sometimes also refer to quite a different

sub-human evolution.


Abundant as are the fairies of the earth' s surface almost anywhere away from

the haunts of man, they are far outnumbered by the water-spirits-- the fairies

of the surface of the sea. There is just as much variety here as on land. The

nature-spirits of the Pacific differ from those of the Atlantic, and those of

the Mediterranean are quite distinct from either; the types that revel in the

indescribably glorious blue of tropical oceans are far apart from those that

dash through the foam of our cold grey northern seas. Dissimilar again are the

spirits of the lake, the river and the waterfall, for they have many more points

in common with the land fairies than have the nereids of the open sea.

These, like their brothers of the land, are of all shapes, but perhaps most

frequently imitate the human. Broadly speaking, they tend to take larger forms

than the elves of the woods and the hills; the majority of the latter are

diminutive, while the sea-spirit who copies man usually adopts his size as well

as his shape. In order to avoid misunderstanding it is necessary constantly to

insist upon the protean character of all these forms; any of these creatures,

whether of land or sea or air, can make himself temporarily larger or smaller at

will, or can assume whatever shape he chooses.

There is theoretically no restriction upon this power, but in practice it has

its limits, though they are wide. A fairy who is naturally twelve inches in

height can expand himself to the proportions of a man of six feet, but the

effort would be a considerable strain, and could not be maintained for more than

a few minutes. In order to take a form other than his own he must be able to

conceive it clearly, and he can hold the shape only while his mind is fixed upon

it; as soon as his thought wanders he will at once begin to resume his natural


Though etheric matter can readily be moulded by the power of thought, it

naturally does not obey it as instantaneously as does astral matter; we might

say that mental matter changes actually with the thought, and astral matter so

quickly after it that the ordinary observer can scarcely note any difference;

but with etheric matter one' s vision can follow the growth or diminution

without difficulty. A sylph, whose body is of astral matter, flashes from one

shape into another; a fairy, who is etheric, swells or decreases quickly but not


Few of the land-spirits are gigantic in size, while such stature seems quite

common out at sea. The creatures of the land frequently weave from their fancies

scraps of human clothing, and show themselves with quaint caps or baldrics or

jerkins; but I have never seen any such appearance among the inhabitants of the

sea. Nearly all these surface water-spirits seem to possess the power of raising

themselves out of their proper element and floating in or flying through the air

for a short distance; they delight in playing amidst the dashing foam or riding

in upon the breakers. They are less pronounced in their avoidance of man than

their brethren on land-- perhaps because man has so much less opportunity of

interfering with them. They do not descend to any great depth below the

surface-- never, at any rate, beyond the reach of light; so that there is always

a considerable space between their realm and the domain of the far less evolved

creatures of the middle deeps.


Some very beautiful species inhabit inland waters where man has not yet rendered

the conditions impossible for them. Naturally enough, the filth and the

chemicals with which water is polluted near any large town are disgusting to

them; but they have apparently no objection to the water-wheel in a quiet

country nook, for they may sometimes be seen disporting themselves in a

mill-race. They seem specially to delight in falling water, just as their

brothers of the sea revel in the breaking of foam; for the pleasure which it

gives them they will sometimes even dare a nearer approach than usual to the

hated presence of man. At Niagara, for example, there are almost always some

still to be seen in the summer, though they generally keep well out towards the

centre of the Falls and the Rapids. Like birds of passage, in winter they

abandon those northern waters, which are frozen over for many months, and seek a

temporary home in more genial climes. A short frost they do not seem to mind;

the mere cold has apparently little or no effect upon them, but they dislike the

disturbance of their ordinary conditions. Some of those who commonly inhabit

rivers transfer themselves to the sea when their streams freeze; to others salt

water seems distasteful, and they prefer to migrate considerable distances

rather than take refuge in the ocean.

An interesting variety of the fairies of the water are the cloud-spirits--

entities whose life is spent almost entirely among those “waters which be above

the firmament”. They should perhaps be classified as intermediate between the

spirits of the water and those of the air; their bodies are of etheric matter,

as are the former, but they are capable of remaining away from the water for

comparatively long periods. Their forms are often huge and loosely knit; they

seem near of kin to some of the fresh-water types, yet they are quite willing to

dip for a time into the sea when the clouds which are their favourite habitat

disappear. They dwell in the luminous silence of cloudland, and their favourite

pastime is to mould their clouds into strange, fantastic shapes or to arrange

them in the serried ranks which we call a mackerel sky.


We come now to the consideration of the highest type in the kingdom of the

nature-spirits-- the stage at which the lines of development both of the land

and sea creatures converge-- the sylphs, or spirits of the air. These entities

are definitely raised above all the other varieties of which we have been

speaking by the fact that they have shaken themselves free from the encumbrance

of physical matter, the astral body being now their lowest vehicle. Their

intelligence is much higher than that of the etheric species, and quite equal to

that of the average man; but they have not yet attained a permanent

reincarnating individuality. Just because they are so much more evolved, before

breaking away from the group-soul they can understand much more about life than

an animal can, and so it often happens that they know that they lack

individuality and are intensely eager to gain it. That is the truth that lies at

the back of all the widely-spread traditions of the yearning of the

nature-spirit to obtain an immortal soul.

The normal method for them to attain this is by association with and love for

members of the next stage above them-- the astral angels. A domestic animal,

such as the dog or the cat, advances through the development of his intelligence

and his affection which is the result of his close relationship with his master.

Not only does his love for that master cause him to make determined efforts to

understand him, but the vibrations of the master' s mind-body, constantly

playing upon his rudimentary mind, gradually awaken it into greater and greater

activity; and in the same way his affection for him arouses an ever-deepening

feeling in return. The man may or may not definitely set himself to teach the

animal something; in any case, even without any direct effort, the intimate

connection between them helps the evolvement of the lower. Eventually the

development of such an animal rises to the level which will allow him to receive

the Third Outpouring, and thus he becomes an individual, and breaks away from

his group-soul.

Now all this is also exactly what happens between the astral angel and the

air-spirit, except that by them the scheme is usually carried out in a much more

intelligent and effective manner. Not one man in a thousand thinks or knows

anything about the real evolution of his dog or cat; still less does the animal

comprehend the possibility that lies before him. But the angel clearly

understands the plan of nature, and in many cases the nature-spirit also knows

what he needs, and works intelligently towards its attainment. So each of these

astral angels usually has several sylphs attached to him, frequently definitely

learning from him and being trained by him, but at any rate basking in the play

of his intellect and returning his affection. Very many of these angels are

employed as agents by the Devarajas in their duty of the distributing of karma;

and thus it comes that the air-spirits are often sub-agents in that work, and no

doubt acquire much valuable knowledge while executing the tasks assigned to


The Adept knows how to make use of the services of the nature-spirits when he

requires them, and there are many pieces of business which he is able to entrust

to them. In the issue of Broad Views for February, 1907, there appeared an

admirable account of the ingenious manner in which a nature-spirit executed a

commission given to him in this way.

He was instructed to amuse an invalid who was suffering from an attack of

influenza, and for five days he kept up an almost continuous entertainment of

strange and interesting visions, his efforts being crowned with the most

gratifying success, for the sufferer wrote that his ministrations “had the happy

effect of turning what under ordinary circumstances would have been days of

unutterable weariness and discomfort into a most wonderfully interesting


He showed a bewildering variety of pictures, moving masses of rock, seen not

from the outside but from the inside, so that faces of creatures of various

sorts appeared in them. He also exhibited mountains, forests and avenues, and

sometimes great masses of architecture, portions of Corinthian columns, bits of

statuary, and great arched roofs, often also the most wonderful flowers and

palms, waving to and fro as if in a gentle breeze. Sometimes he seems to have

taken the physical objects in the bedroom and woven them into a kind of magic

transformation scene. One might indeed surmise, from the curious nature of the

entertainment offered, the particular type to which belonged the nature-spirit

who was employed in this charitable work.

The Oriental magician occasionally endeavours to obtain the assistance of the

higher nature-spirits in his performances, but the enterprise is not without its

dangers. He must adopt either invocation or evocation-- that is, he must either

attract their attention as a suppliant and make some kind of bargain with them,

or he must try to set in motion influences which will compel their obedience--

an attempt which, if it fails, will arouse a determined hostility that is

exceedingly likely to result in his premature extinction, or at the least will

put him in an extremely ridiculous and unpleasant position.

Of these air-spirits, as of the lower fairies, there are many varieties,

differing in power, in intelligence and in habits as well as in appearance. They

are naturally less restricted to locality than the other kinds which we have


described, though like the others they seem to recognise the limits of certain

zones of elevation, some kinds always floating near the surface of the earth,

while others scarcely ever approach it. As a general rule they share the common

dislike to the neighbourhood of man and his restless desires, but there are

occasions when they are willing to endure this for the sake of amusement or



They extract immense entertainment sometimes out of the sport of ensouling

thought-forms of various kinds. An author in writing a novel, for example,

naturally makes strong thought-forms of all his characters, and moves them about

his miniature stage like marionettes; but sometimes a party of jocund

nature-spirits will seize upon his forms, and play out the drama upon a scheme

improvised on the spur of the moment, so that the dismayed novelist feels that

his puppets have somehow got out of hand and developed a will of their own.

The love of mischief which is so marked a characteristic of some of the fairies

persists to a certain extent among at least the lower types of the air-spirits,

so that their impersonations are occasionally of a less innocent order. People

whose evil karma has brought them under the domination of Calvinistic theology,

but who have not yet the intelligence or the faith to cast aside its blasphemous

doctrines, sometimes in their fear make awful thought-forms of the imaginary

devil to which their superstition gives such a prominent role in the universe;

and I regret to say that certain impish nature-spirits are quite unable to

resist the temptation of masquerading in these terrible forms, and think it a

great joke to flourish horns, to lash a forked tail, and to breathe out flames

as they rush about. To anyone who understands the nature of these pantomime

demons no harm is done; but now and then nervous children happen to be

impressionable enough to catch a glimpse of such things, and if they have not

been wisely taught, great terror is the result.

It is only fair to the nature-spirit to remember that, as he himself is

incapable of fear, he does not in the least understand the gravity of this

result, and probably considers the child' s fright as simulated, and as part of

the game. We can hardly blame the nature-spirit for the fact that we permit our

children to be bound by the chains of a grovelling superstition, and neglect to

impress upon them the grand fundamental fact that God is love and that perfect

love casteth out all fear. If our air-spirit occasionally thus terrifies the

ill-instructed living child, it must on the other hand be set to his credit that

he constantly affords the keenest pleasure to thousands of children who are what

we call ` dead,' for to play with them and to entertain them in a hundred

different ways is one of his happiest occupations.

The air-spirits have discovered the opportunity afforded to them by the

spiritualistic séance, and some of them become habitual attendants, usually

under some such name as Daisy or Sunflower. They are quite capable of giving a

very interesting séance, for they naturally know a good deal about astral life

and its possibilities. They will readily answer questions, truly enough as far

as their knowledge goes, and with, at any rate, an appearance of profundity when

the subject is somewhat beyond them. They can produce raps, tilts and lights

without difficulty, and are quite prepared to deliver whatever messages they may

see to be desired-- not in the least meaning in this way harm or deceit, but

naively rejoicing in their success in playing the part, and in the wealth of

awe-stricken devotion and affection lavished upon them as “dear spirits” and

“angel helpers”. They learn to share the delight of the sitters, and feel

themselves to be doing a good work in thus bringing comfort to the afflicted.

Living astrally as they do, the fourth dimension is a commonplace fact of their

existence, and this makes quite simple for them many little tricks which to us

appear wonderful, such as the removal of articles from a locked box or the

apport of flowers into a closed room. The desires and emotions of the sitters

lie open before them, they quickly acquire facility in reading any but abstract

thoughts, and the management of a materialisation is quite within their power

when adequate material is provided. It will therefore be seen that without any

exterior assistance they are competent to provide a varied and satisfactory

evening' s entertainment, and there is no doubt that they have often done so. I

am not for a moment suggesting that nature-spirits are the only entities which

operate at séances; the manifesting ` spirit' is often exactly what he claims to

be, but it is also true that he is often nothing of the kind, and the average

sitter has absolutely no means of distinguishing between the genuine article and

the imitation.


As has already been said, the normal line of advancement for the nature-spirit

is to attain individuality by association with an angel, but there have been

individuals who have departed from that rule. The intensity of affection felt by

the sylph for the angel is the principal factor in the great change, and the

abnormal cases are those in which that affection has been fixed upon a human

being instead. This involves so complete a reversal of the common attitude of

these beings towards humanity that its occurrence is naturally rare; but when it

happens, and when the love is strong enough to lead to individualisation, it

detaches the nature-spirit from his own line of evolution and brings him over

into ours, so that the newly developed ego will incarnate not as an angel but as

a man.

Some tradition of this possibility lies at the back of all the stories in which

a non-human spirit falls in love with a man, and yearns with a great longing to

obtain an immortal soul in order to be able to spend eternity with him. Upon

attaining his incarnation such a spirit usually makes a man of very curious

type-- affectionate and emotional but wayward, strangely primitive in certain

ways, and utterly without any sense of responsibility.

It has sometimes happened that a sylph who was thus strongly attracted to a man


or a woman, but just fell short of the intensity of affection necessary to

ensure individualisation, has made an effort to obtain a forcible entrance into

human evolution by taking possession of the body of a dying baby just as its

original owner left it. The child would seem to recover, to be snatched back

from the very jaws of death, but would be likely to appear much changed in

disposition, and probably peevish and irritable in consequence of the

unaccustomed constraint of a dense physical body.

If the sylph were able to adapt himself to the body, there would be nothing to

prevent him from retaining it through a life of the ordinary length. If during

that life he succeeded in developing affection sufficiently ardent to sever his

connection with his group-soul he would thereafter reincarnate as a human being

in the usual way; if not, he would fall back at its conclusion into his own line

of evolution. It will be seen that in these facts we have the truth which

underlies the widely disseminated tradition of changelings, which is found in

all the countries of north-western Europe, in China, and also (it is said) among

the natives of the Pacific slope of North America.


The kingdom of the nature-spirits is a most interesting field of study, to which

but little attention has been paid. Though they are often mentioned in occult

literature, I am not aware that any attempt has yet been made to classify them

in scientific fashion. This vast realm of nature still needs its Cuvier or its

Linnaeus; but perhaps when we have plenty of trained investigators we may hope

that one of them will take upon himself this role, and furnish us as his life' s

work with a complete and detailed natural history of these delightful creatures.


It will be no waste of labour, no unworthy study. It is useful for us to

understand these beings, not solely nor even chiefly because of the influence

they exert upon us, but because the comprehension of a line of evolution so

different from our own broadens our minds and helps us to recognise that the

world does not exist for us alone, and that our point of view is neither the

only one nor the most important. Foreign travel has the same effect in a minor

degree, for it demonstrates to every unprejudiced man that races in every

respect as good as his own may yet differ widely from it in a hundred ways. In

the study of the nature-spirits we find the same idea carried much further; here

is a kingdom radically dissimilar-- without sex, free from fear, ignorant of

what is meant by the struggle for existence-- yet the eventual result of its

unfoldment is in every respect equal to that attained by following our own line.

To learn this may help us to see a little more of the many-sidedness of the

Solar Deity, and so may teach us modesty and charity as well as liberality of


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



WE all recognise to some extent that unusual surroundings may produce special

effects; we speak of certain buildings or landscapes as gloomy and depressing;

we understand that there is something saddening and repellent about a prison,

something devotional about a church, and so on. Most people never trouble to

think why this should be so, or if they do for a moment turn their attention to

the matter, they dismiss it as an instance of the association of ideas.

Probably it is that, but it is also much more than that, and if we examine into

its rationale we shall find that it operates in many cases where we have never

suspected its influence, and that a knowledge of it may be of practical use in

everyday life. A study of the finer forces of nature will show us not only that

every living being is radiating a complex set of definite influences upon those

about him, but also that this is true to a lesser degree and in a simpler manner

of inanimate objects.


We know that wood and iron and stone have their own respective characteristic

radiations, but the point to be emphasised just now is that they are all capable

of absorbing human influence, and then pouring it out again. What is the origin

of that feeling of devotion, of reverential awe, which so permeates some of our

great cathedrals that even the most hardened Cook' s tourist cannot entirely

escape it? It is due not only to the historical associations, not only to the

remembrance of the fact that for centuries men have met here for praise and

prayer, but far more to that fact itself, and to the conditions which it has

produced in the substance of the fabric.

To understand this we must first of all remember the circumstances under which

those buildings were erected. A modern brick church, run up by contract in the

shortest possible time, has indeed but little sanctity about it; but in

mediaeval days faith was greater, and the influence of the outer world less

prominent. In very truth men prayed as they built our great cathedrals, and laid

every stone as though it had been an offering upon an altar. When this was the

spirit of the work, every such stone became a veritable talisman charged with

the reverence and devotion of the builder, and capable of radiating those same

waves of sensation upon others, so as to stir in them similar feelings. The

crowds who came afterwards to worship at the shrine not only felt these

radiations, but themselves strengthened them in turn by the reaction of their

own feelings.

Still more is this true of the interior decorations of the church. Every touch

of the brush in the colouring of a triptych, every stroke of the chisel in the

sculpture of a statue, was a direct offering to God. Thus the completed work of

art is surrounded by an atmosphere of reverence and love, and it distinctly

sheds these qualities upon the worshippers. All of them, rich and poor alike,

feel something of this effect, even though many of them may be too ignorant to

receive the added stimulus which its artistic excellence gives to those who are

able to appreciate it and to perceive all that it means.

The sunlight streaming through the splendid stained glass of those mediaeval

windows brings with it a glory that is not all of the physical world, for the

clever workmen who built up that marvellous mosaic did so for the love of God

and the glory of His saints, and so each fragment of glass is a talisman also.

Remembering always how the power conveyed into the statue or picture by the

fervour of the original artist has been perpetually reinforced through the ages

by the devotion of successive generations of worshippers, we come to understand

the inner meaning of the great influence which undoubtedly does radiate from

such objects as have been regarded as sacred for centuries.

Such a devotional effect as is described in connection with a picture or a

statue may be entirely apart from its value as a work of art. The bambino at the

Ara Coeli at Rome is a supremely inartistic object, yet it has unquestionably

considerable power in evoking devotional feeling among the masses that crowd to

see it. If it were really a work of art, that fact would add but little to its

influence over most of them, though of course it would in that case produce an

additional and totally different effect upon another class of persons to whom

now it does not in the least appeal.

From these considerations it is evident that these various ecclesiastical

properties, such as statues, pictures and other decorations, have a real value

in the effect which they produce upon the worshippers, and the fact that they

thus have a distinct power, which so many people can feel, probably accounts for

the intense hatred felt for them by the savage fanatics who miscalled themselves

puritans. They realised that the power which stood behind the Church worked to a

great extent through these objects as its channels, and though their loathing

for all higher influences was considerably tempered by fear, they yet felt that

if they could break up these centres of magnetism, that would to a certain

extent cut off the connection. And so in their revolt against all that was good

and beautiful they did all the harm that they could-- almost as much perhaps as

those earlier so-called Christians who, through sheer ignorance, ground up the

most lovely Grecian statues to furnish lime to build their wretched hovels.

In all these splendid mediaeval buildings the sentiment of devotion absolutely

and literally exudes from the walls, because for centuries devotional

thought-forms have been created in them by successive generations. In strong

contrast to this is the atmosphere of criticism and disputation which may be

felt by any sensitive person in the meeting-houses of some of the sects. In many

a conventicle in Scotland and in Holland this feeling stands out with startling

prominence, so as to give the impression that the great majority of the

so-called worshippers have had no thought of worship or devotion at all, but

only of the most sanctimonious self-righteousness, and of burning anxiety to

discover some doctrinal flaw in the wearisome sermon of their unfortunate


An absolutely new church does not at first produce any of these effects; for in

these days workmen build a church with the same lack of enthusiasm as a factory.

As soon as the bishop consecrates it, a decided influence is set up as the

effect of that ceremony, but the consideration of that belongs to another

chapter of our work. A few years of use will charge the walls very effectively,

and a much shorter period than that will produce the result in a church where

the sacrament is reserved, or where perpetual adoration is offered. The Roman

Catholic or Ritualistic church soon becomes thoroughly affected, but the


meeting-houses of some of the dissenting sects which do not make a special point

of devotion, often produce for a long time an influence scarcely distinguishable

from that which is to be felt in an ordinary lecture hall. A fine type of

devotional influence is often to be found in the chapel of a convent or

monastery, though again the type differs greatly according to the objects which

the monks or the nuns set before themselves.


I have been taking Christian fanes as an example, because they are those which

are most familiar to me-- which will also be most familiar to the majority of my

readers; also perhaps because Christianity is the religion which has made a

special point of devotion, and has, more than any other, arranged for the

simultaneous expression of it in special buildings erected for that purpose.

Among Hindus the Vaishnavite has a devotion quite as profound as that of any

Christian, though unfortunately it is often tainted by expectation of favours to

be given in return. But the Hindu has no idea of anything like combined worship.

Though on great festivals enormous crowds attend the temples, each person makes

his little prayer or goes through his little ceremony for himself, and so he

misses the enormous additional effect which is produced by simultaneous action.

Regarded solely from the point of view of charging the walls of the temple with

devotional influence, this plan differs from the other in a way that we may

perhaps understand by taking a physical illustration of a number of sailors

pulling at a rope. We know that, when that is being done, a sort of chant is

generally used in order to ensure that the men shall apply their strength at

exactly the same moment; and in that way a much more effective pull is produced

than would be achieved if each man put out exactly the same strength, but

applied it just when he felt that he could, and without any relation to the work

of the others.

Nevertheless as the years roll by there comes to be a strong feeling in a

Vaishnavite temple-- as strong perhaps as that of the Christians, though quite

different in kind. Different again in quite another way is the impression

produced in the great temples dedicated to Shiva. In such a shrine as that at

Madura, for example, an exceedingly powerful influence radiates from the holy of

holies. It is surrounded by a strong feeling of reverential awe, almost of fear,

and this so deeply tinges the devotion of the crowds who come to worship that

the very aura of the place is changed by it.

Completely different again is the impression which surrounds a Buddhist temple.

Of fear we have there absolutely no trace whatever. We have perhaps less of

direct devotion, for to a large extent devotion is replaced by gratitude. The

prominent radiation is always one of joyfulness and love-- an utter absence of

anything dark or stern.

Another complete contrast is represented by the Muhammadan mosque; devotion of a

sort is present there also, but it is distinctly a militant devotion, and the

particular impression that it gives one is that of a fiery determination. One

feels that this population' s comprehension of their creed may be limited, but

there is no question whatever as to their dogged determination to hold by it.

The Jewish synagogue again is like none of the others, but has a feeling which

is quite distinct, and curiously dual-- exceptionally materialistic on one side,

and on the other full of a strong, pathetic longing for the return of vanished



A partial recognition of another facet of the facts which we have been

mentioning accounts for the choice of the site of many religious edifices. A

church or a temple is frequently erected to commemorate the life and death of

some saint, and in the first instance such a fane is built upon a spot which has

some special connection with him. It may be the place where he died, the spot

where he was born, or where some important event of his life occurred.

The Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem and that of the Crucifixion at Jerusalem

are instances of this, as is also the great Stupa at Buddhagaya where the Lord

Gautama attained His Buddhahood, or the temple of the ` Bishanpad' where it is

supposed that Vishnu left His foot-mark. All such shrines are erected not so

much from an historical sense which wishes to indicate for the benefit of

posterity the exact spot where an important event happened, as with the idea

that that spot is especially blessed, especially charged with a magnetism which

will remain through the ages, and will radiate upon and benefit those who bring

themselves within the radius of its influence. Nor is this universal idea

without adequate foundation.

The spot at which the Lord BUDDHA gained the step which gives Him that august

title is charged with a magnetism which causes it to glow forth like a sun for

anyone who has clairvoyant vision. It is calculated to produce the strongest

possible magnetic effect on anyone who is naturally sensitive to such influence,

or who deliberately makes himself temporarily sensitive to such influence by

putting himself in an attitude of heartfelt devotion.

In a recent article on Buddhagaya in The Lotus Journal Alcyone wrote:

When I sat quietly under the tree for awhile with Mrs. Besant, I was able to see

the Lord BUDDHA, as He had looked when He sat there. Indeed, the record of His

meditation is still so strong that it needs only a little clairvoyance to see

Him even now. I had the advantage of having met Him in that life in 588 B.C.,

and become one of His followers, so that it was easier for me to see Him again

in this present life. But I think almost anyone who is a little sensitive would

see Him at Buddhagaya by staying quite quiet for a little time because the air

is full of His influence, and even now there are always great Devas bathing in

the magnetism, and guarding the place.

Other churches, temples or dagobas are sanctified by the possession of relics of

some Great One, and here again the connection of ideas is obvious. It is

customary for those who are ignorant of these matters to ridicule the idea of

paying reverence to the fragment of bone which once belonged to a saint; but

though reverence paid to the bone may be out of place, the influence radiating

from that bone may nevertheless be quite a real thing, and well worthy of

serious attention. That the trade in relics has led, all the world over, to

fraud on the one hand and blind credulity on the other, is not a thing to be

disputed; but that by no means alters the fact that a genuine relic may be a

valuable thing. Whatever has been part of the physical body of a Great One, or

even of the garments which have clothed that physical body, is impregnated with

his personal magnetism. That means that it is charged with the powerful waves of

thought and feeling which used to issue from him, just as an electrical battery

may be charged.

Such force as it possesses is intensified and perpetuated by the thought-waves

poured upon it as the years roll by, by the faith and devotion of the crowds who

visit the shrine. This when the relic is genuine; but most relics are not

genuine. Even then, though they have no initial strength of their own, they

acquire much influence as time goes on, so that even a false relic is by no

means without effect. Therefore anyone putting himself into a receptive

attitude, and coming into the immediate neighbourhood of a relic, will receive

into himself its strong vibrations, and soon will be more or less attuned to

them. Since those vibrations are unquestionably better and stronger than any

which he is likely to generate on his own account, this is a good thing for him.

For the time being it lifts him on to a higher level, it opens a higher world to

him; and though the effect is only temporary, this cannot but be good for him--

an event which will leave him, for the rest of his life, slightly better than if

it had not occurred.

This is the rationale of pilgrimages, and they are quite often really effective.

In addition to whatever may have been the original magnetism contributed by the

holy man or relic, as soon as the place of pilgrimage is established and numbers

of people begin to visit it, another factor comes into play, of which we have

already spoken in the case of churches and temples. The place begins to be

charged with the devotional feeling of all these hosts of visitors, and what

they leave behind reacts upon their successors. Thus the influence of one of

these holy places usually does not decrease as time passes, for if the original

force tends slightly to diminish, on the other hand it is constantly fed by new

accessions of devotion. Indeed, the only case in which the power ever fades is

that of a neglected shrine-- as, for example, when a country is conquered by

people of another religion, to whom the older shrines are as nothing. Even then

the influence, if it has been originally sufficiently strong, persists almost

without diminution for many centuries, and for this reason even ruins have often

a powerful force connected with them.

The Egyptian religion, for example, has been practised little since the

Christian era, yet no sensitive person can stand amidst the ruins of one of its

temples without being powerfully affected by the stream of its thought. In this

particular instance another force comes into play; the Egyptian architecture was

of a definite type, intentionally so erected for the purpose of producing a

definite impression upon its worshippers, and perhaps no architecture has ever

fulfilled its purpose more effectively.

The shattered fragments which remain still produce that effect to no

inconsiderable degree, even upon members of an alien race altogether out of

touch with the type of the old Egyptian civilisation. For the student of

comparative religion who happens to be sensitive, there can be no more

interesting experience than this-- to bathe in the magnetism of the older

religions of the world, to feel their influence as their devotees felt it

thousands of years ago, to compare the sensations of Thebes or Luxor with those

of the Parthenon or of the beautiful Greek temples of Girgenti, or those of

Stonehenge with the vast ruins of Yucatan.


The religious life of the old world can best be sensed in this way through the

agency of its temples; but it is equally possible in the same way to come into

touch with the daily life of those vanished nations, by standing among the ruins

of their palaces and their homes. This needs perhaps a keener clairvoyant sense

than the other. The force which permeates the temple is powerful because it is

to a considerable extent one-pointed-- because all through the centuries people

have come to it with one leading idea of prayer or devotion, and so the

impression made has been comparatively powerful. In their homes, on the other

hand, they have lived out their lives with all kinds of different ideas and

warring interests, so that the impressions often cancel one another.

Nevertheless there emerges, as years roll on, a sort of least common multiple of

all their feelings, which is characteristic of them as a race, and this can be

sensed by one who has the art of entirely suppressing those personal feelings of

his own, which are so far nearer and more vivid to him, and listening earnestly

to catch the faint echo of the life of those times so long ago. Such study often

enables one to take a juster view of history; manners and customs which startle

and horrify us, because they are so remote from our own, can in this way be

contemplated from the point of view of those to whom they were familiar; and in

seeing them thus, one often realises for the first time how entirely we have

misconceived those men of the past.

Some of us may remember how, in our childhood, ignorant though well-meaning

relations endeavoured to excite our sympathy by stories of Christian martyrs who

were thrown to the lions in the Colosseum at Rome, or reprobated with horror the

callous brutality which could assemble thousands to enjoy the combats between

gladiators. I am not prepared to defend the tastes and amusements of the ancient

Roman citizen, yet I think that any sensitive person who will go to the

Colosseum at Rome and (if he can for the moment escape from the tourist) sit

down there quietly, and let his consciousness drift backwards in time until he

can sense the real feeling of those enormous, wildly-excited audiences, will

find that he has done them a gross injustice.

First, he will realise that the throwing of Christians to the lions because of

their religious belief is a pious falsehood of the unprincipled early

Christians. He will find that the government of Rome was in religious matters

distinctly more tolerant than most European governments at the present day; that

no person was ever executed or persecuted on account of any religious opinion

whatever, and that those so-called Christians who were put to death suffered not

in the least because of their alleged religion, but because of conspiracy

against the State, or of crimes which we should all join in reprobating.

He will find that the government allowed and even encouraged gladiatorial

combats, but he will also find that only three classes of people took part in

them. First, condemned criminals-- men whose lives had been forfeited to the law

of the time-- were utilised to provide a spectacle for the people, a degrading

spectacle certainly, but not in any way more so than many which receive popular

approval at the present day. The malefactor was killed in the arena, fighting

either against another malefactor or a wild beast; but he preferred to die

fighting rather than at the hands of the law, and there was always just a

possibility that if he fought well he might thereby contrive to earn the

applause of the fickle population; and so save his life.

The second class consisted of such prisoners of war as it was the fashion of the

time to put to death; but in this case also these were people whose death was

already decided upon, and this particular form of death utilised them for a

certain form of popular entertainment, and also gave them a chance of saving

their lives, at which they eagerly grasped. The third class were the

professional gladiators, men like the prize-fighters of the present day, men who

took up this horrible line of life for the sake of the popularity which it

brought-- accepting it with their eyes fully open to its danger.

I am not for a moment suggesting that the gladiatorial show was a form of

entertainment which could possibly be tolerated by a really enlightened people;

but if we are to apply the same standard now, we shall have to admit that no

enlightened nations have yet come into existence, for it was no worse than the

mediaeval tournaments, than the cock-fighting and bear-baiting of a century ago,

or than the bull-fight or prize-fight of the present day. Nor is there anything

to choose between the brutality of its supporters and that of the people who go

in vast crowds to see how many rats a dog can kill in a minute, or that of the

noble sportsmen who (without the excuse of anything in the nature of a fair

fight) go out to slaughter hundreds of inoffensive partridges.

We are beginning to set a somewhat higher value on human life than they did in

the days of ancient Rome; but even so I would point out that that change does

not mark a difference between the ancient Roman race and its reincarnation in

the English people, for our own race was equally callous about wholesale

slaughter up to a century ago. The difference is not between us and the Romans,

but between us and our very recent ancestors; for the crowds which in the days

of our fathers went and jested at a public execution can hardly be said to have

advanced much since the time when they crowded the benches of the Colosseum.

It is true that the Roman Emperors attended those exhibitions, as the English

Kings used to encourage the tournament, and as the Kings of Spain even now

patronise the bull-fight; but in order to understand the varied motives which

led them to do this we must make a thorough study of the politics of the time--

a matter which is quite outside the scope of this book. Here it must suffice to

say that the Roman citizens were a body of men in a very curious political

position, and that the authorities considered it necessary to provide them with

constant entertainments in order to keep them in a good humour. Therefore they

hit upon this method of utilising what they regarded as the necessary and

customary execution of criminals and rebels, in order to provide for the

proletariat a kind of entertainment which it enjoyed. A very brutal proletariat,

you will say. One must certainly admit that they were not highly advanced, but

at least they were far better than those much later specimens who took active

part in the unspeakable horrors of the French Revolution, for these last felt an

active delight in blood and cruelty, which were only unnoticed concomitants of

the enjoyment in the case of the Roman.

Anyone who, standing in the Colosseum, as I have said, will really allow himself

to feel the true spirit of those crowds of long ago, will understand that what

appealed to them was the excitement of the contest and the skill exhibited in

it. Their brutality consisted not in the fact that they enjoyed bloodshed and

suffering, but that in the excitement of watching the struggle they were able to

ignore it-- which after all is very much what we do when we eagerly follow in

the columns of our newspapers the news from the seat of war in the present day.

Level for level, case for case, we of the fifth sub-race have made a slight

advance from the condition of the fourth sub-race of two thousand years ago; but

that advance is much slighter than our self-satisfaction has persuaded us.

Every country has its ruins, and in all alike the study of the older life is an

interesting study. A good idea of the wonderfully varied activities and

interests of the mediaeval monastic life in England may be obtained by visiting

that queen of ruins, Fountains Abbey, just as by visiting the stones of Carnac

(not in Egypt but in Morbihan) one may watch the midsummer rejoicings round the

tantad or sacred fire of the ancient Bretons.

There is perhaps less necessity to study the ruins of India, since daily life

there has remained so unchanged throughout the ages that no clairvoyant faculty

is required to picture it as it was thousands of years ago. None of the actual

buildings of India go back to any period of appreciable difference, and in most

cases the relics of the golden age of India under the great Atlantean monarchies

are already deeply buried. If we turn to mediaeval times, the effect of

environment and religion on practically the same people is curiously illustrated

by the difference in feeling between any ancient city of the north of India and

the ruins of Anuradhapura in Ceylon.


Just as our ancestors of long ago lived their ordinary lives in what was to them

the ordinary commonplace way, and never dreamed that in doing so they were

impregnating the stones of their city walls with influences which would enable a

psychometer thousands of years afterwards to study the inmost secrets of their

existence, so we ourselves are impregnating our cities and leaving behind us a

record which will shock the sensibilities of the more developed men of the

future. In certain ways which will readily suggest themselves, all great towns

are much alike; but on the other hand there are differences of local atmosphere,

depending to some extent upon the average morality of the city, the type of

religious views most largely held in it, and its principal trades and

manufactures. For all these reasons each city has a certain amount of

individuality-- and individuality which will attract some people and repel

others, according to their disposition. Even those who are not specially

sensitive can hardly fail to note the distinction between the feeling of Paris

and that of London, between Edinburgh and Glasgow, or between Philadelphia and


There are some cities whose key-note is not of the present but of the past--

whose life in earlier days was so much more forcible than it is now, that the

present is dwarfed by its comparison. The cities on the Zuyder Zee in Holland

are an instance of this; S. Albans in England is another. But the finest example

which the world has to offer is the immortal city of Rome. Rome stands alone

among the cities of the world in having three great and entirely separate

interests for the psychic investigator. First, and much the strongest, is the

impression left by the astonishing vitality and vigour of that Rome which was

the centre of the world, the Rome of the Republic and the Caesars; then comes

another strong and unique impression-- that of mediaeval Rome, the

ecclesiastical centre of the world: third and quite different from either, the

modern Rome of to-day, the political centre of the somewhat loosely integrated

Italian kingdom, and at the same time still an ecclesiastical centre of

widespread influence, though shorn of its glory and power.

I first went to Rome, I confess, with the expectation that the Rome of the

mediaeval Popes, with the assistance of all the world-thought that must for so

long have been centred upon it, and with the advantage also of being so much

nearer to us in time, would have to a considerable extent blotted out the life

of the Rome of the Caesars. I was startled to find that the actual facts are

almost exactly the reverse of that. The conditions of Rome in the Middle Ages

were sufficiently remarkable to have stamped an indelible character upon any

other town in the world; but so enormously stronger was the amazingly vivid life

of that earlier civilisation, that it still stands out, in spite of all the

history that has been made there since, as the one ineffaceable and dominating

characteristic of Rome.

To the clairvoyant investigator, Rome is (and ever will be) first of all the

Rome of the Caesars, and only secondarily the Rome of the Popes. The impression

of ecclesiastical history is all there, recoverable to the minutest detail; a

bewildering mass of devotion and intrigue, of insolent tyranny and real

religious feeling; a history of terrible corruption and of world-wide power, but

rarely used as well as it might have been. And yet, mighty as it is, it is

dwarfed into absolute insignificance by the grander power that went before it.

There was a robustness of faith in himself, a conviction of destiny, a resolute

intention to live his life to the utmost, and a certainty of being able to do

it, about the ancient Roman, which few nationalities of to-day can approach.


Not only has a city as a whole its general characteristics, but such of the

buildings in it as are devoted to special purposes have always an aura

characteristic of that purpose. The aura of a hospital, for example, is a

curious mixture; a preponderance of suffering, weariness and pain, but also a

good deal of pity for the suffering, and a feeling of gratitude on the part of

the patients for the kindly care which is taken of them.

The neighbourhood of a prison is decidedly to be avoided when a man is selecting

a residence, for from it radiate the most terrible gloom and despair and settled

depression, mingled with impotent rage, grief and hatred. Few places have on the

whole a more unpleasant aura around them; and even in the general darkness there

are often spots blacker than the rest, cells of unusual horror round which an

evil reputation hangs. For example, there are several cases on record in which

the successive occupants of a certain cell in a prison have all tried to commit

suicide, those who were unsuccessful explaining that the idea of suicide

persistently arose in their minds, and was steadily pressed upon them from

without, until they were gradually brought into a condition in which there

seemed to be no alternative. There have been instances in which such a feeling

was due to the direct persuasion of a dead man; but also and more frequently it

is simply that the first suicide has charged the cell so thoroughly with

thoughts and suggestions of this nature that the later occupants, being probably

persons of no great strength or development of will, have found themselves

practically unable to resist.

More terrible still are the thoughts which still hang round some of the dreadful

dungeons of mediaeval tyrannies, the oubliettes of Venice or the torture-dens of

the Inquisition. Just in the same way the very walls of a gambling-house radiate

grief, envy, despair and hatred, and those of the public-house, or house of

ill-fame, absolutely reek with the coarsest forms of sensual and brutal desire.


In such cases as those mentioned above, it is easy enough for all decent people

to escape the pernicious influences simply by avoiding the place; but there are

other instances in which people are placed in undesirable situations through the

indulgence of natural good feeling. In countries which are not civilised enough

to burn their dead, survivors constantly haunt the graves in which decaying

physical bodies are laid; from a feeling of affectionate remembrance they gather

often to pray and meditate there, and to lay wreaths of flowers upon the tombs.

They do not understand that the radiations of sorrow, depression and

helplessness which so frequently permeate the churchyard or cemetery make it an

eminently undesirable place to visit. I have seen old people walking and sitting

about in some of our more beautiful cemeteries, and nursemaids wheeling along

young children in their perambulators to take their daily airing, neither of

them probably having the least idea that they are subjecting themselves and

their charges to influences which will most likely neutralise all the good of

the exercise and the fresh air; and this quite apart from the possibility of

unhealthy physical exhalations.


The ancient buildings of our great universities are surrounded with magnetism of

a special type, which does much towards setting upon its graduates that peculiar

seal which is so readily distinguishable, even though it is not easy to say in

so many words exactly of what it consists. Men attending the university are of

many and various types-- reading men, hunting men, pious men, careless men; and

sometimes one college of a university attracts only one of these classes. In

that case its walls become permeated with those characteristics, and its

atmosphere operates to keep up its reputation. But on the whole the university

is surrounded with a pleasant feeling of work and comradeship, of association

yet of independence, a feeling of respect for the traditions of the Alma Mater

and the resolve to uphold them, which soon brings the new undergraduate into

line with his fellows and imposes upon him the unmistakable university tone.

Not unlike this is the influence exerted by the buildings of our great public

schools. The impressionable boy who comes to one of these soon feels about him a

sense of order and regularity and esprit de corps, which once gained can

scarcely be forgotten. Something of the same sort, but perhaps even more

pronounced, exists in the case of a battleship, especially if she is under a

popular captain and has been some little time in commission. There also the new

recruit very quickly finds his place, soon acquires the esprit de corps, soon

learns to feel himself one of a family whose honour he is bound to uphold. Much

of this is due to the example of his fellows and to the pressure of the

officers; but the feeling, the atmosphere of the ship herself undoubtedly bears

a share in it also.


The studious associations of a library are readily comprehensible, but those of

museums and picture-galleries are much more varied, as might be expected. In

both these latter cases the influence is principally from pictures or the

objects shown, and consequently our discussion of it is part of a later chapter.

As far as the influence of the actual buildings is concerned, apart from the

objects exhibited in them, the result is a little unexpected, for a prominent

feature is a quite overwhelming sense of fatigue and boredom. It is evident that

the chief constituent in the minds of the majority of the visitors is the

feeling that they know that they ought to admire or to be interested in this or

that, whereas as a matter of fact they are quite unable to achieve the least

real admiration or interest.


The awful emanations from the stock-yards in Chicago, and the effect they

produce on those who are so unfortunate as to live anywhere near them, have

often been mentioned in Theosophical literature. Mrs. Besant herself has

described how on her first visit she felt the terrible pall of depression which

they cause while she was yet in the train many miles from Chicago; and though

other people, less sensitive than she, might not be able to detect it so

readily, there can be no doubt that its influence lies heavily upon them

whenever they draw near to the theatre of that awful iniquity. On that spot

millions of creatures have been slaughtered and every one of them has added to

its radiations its own feelings of rage and pain and fear and the sense of

injustice; and out of it all has been formed one of the blackest clouds of

horror at present existing in the world.

In this case the results of the influence are commonly known, and it is

impossible for anyone to profess incredulity. The low level of morality and the

exceeding brutality of the slaughterman are matters of notoriety. In many of the

murders committed in that dreadful neighbourhood the doctors have been able to

recognise a peculiar twist of the knife which is used only by slaughtermen, and

the very children in the streets play no games but games of killing. When the

world becomes really civilised men will look back with incredulous horror upon

such scenes as these, and will ask how it could have been possible that people

who in other respects seem to have had some gleams of humanity and common sense,

could permit so appalling a blot upon their honour as is the very existence of

this accursed thing in their midst.


Any spot where some ceremony has been frequently repeated, especially if in

connection with it a high ideal has been set up, is always charged with a

decided influence. For example, the hamlet of Oberammergau, where for many years

at set intervals the Passion Play has been reproduced, is full of thought-forms

of the previous performances, which react powerfully upon those who are

preparing themselves to take part in a modern representation. An extraordinary

sense of reality and of the deepest earnestness is felt by all those who assist,

and it reacts even upon the comparatively careless tourist, to whom the whole

thing is simply an exhibition. In the same way the magnificent ideals of Wagner

are prominent in the atmosphere of Bayreuth, and they make a performance there a

totally different thing from one by identically the same players anywhere else.


There are instances in which the influence attached to a special place is

non-human. This is usually the case with the many sacred mountains of the world.

I have described in a previous chapter the great angels who inhabit the summit

of the mountain of Slieve-na-Mon in Ireland. It is their presence which makes

the spot sacred, and they perpetuate the influence of the holier magic of the

leaders of the Tuatha-de-Danaan, which they ordained to remain until the day of

the future greatness of Ireland shall come, and its part in the mighty drama of

empire shall be made clear.

I have several times visited a sacred mountain of a different type-- Adam' s

Peak in Ceylon. The remarkable thing about this peak is that it is held as a

sacred spot by people of all the various religions of the Island. The Buddhists

give to the temple on its summit the name of the shrine of the Sripada or holy

footprint, and their story is that when the Lord BUDDHA visited Ceylon in His

astral body (He was never there in the physical) He paid a visit to the tutelary

genius of that mountain, who is called by the people Saman Deviyo. Just as He

was about to depart, Saman Deviyo asked Him as a favour to leave on that spot

some permanent memory of His visit, and the BUDDHA in response is alleged to

have pressed His foot upon the solid rock, utilising some force which made upon

it a definite imprint or indentation.

The story goes on to say that Saman Deviyo, in order that this holy footprint

should never be defiled by the touch of man, and that the magnetism radiating

from it should be preserved, covered it with a huge cone of rock, which makes

the present summit of the mountain. On the top of this cone a hollow has been

made which roughly resembles a huge foot, and it seems probable that some of the

more ignorant worshippers believe that to be the actual mark made by the Lord

BUDDHA; but all the monks who know emphatically deny that, and point to the fact

that this is not only enormously too large to be a human footprint, but that it

is also quite obviously artificial.

They explain that it is made there simply to indicate the exact spot under which

the true footprint lies, and they point to the fact that there is unquestionably

a crack running all round the rock at some distance below the summit. The idea

of a sacred footprint on that summit seems to be common to the various

religions, but while the Buddhists hold it to be that of the Lord BUDDHA, the

Tamil inhabitants of the Island suppose it to be one of the numerous footprints

of Vishnu, and the Christians and the Muhammadans attribute it to Adam-- whence

the name Adam' s Peak.

But it is said that long before any of these religions had penetrated to the

Island, long before the time of the Lord BUDDHA Himself, this peak was already

sacred to Saman Deviyo, to whom the deepest reverence is still paid by the

inhabitants-- as indeed it well may be, since He belongs to one of the great

orders of the angels who rank near to the highest among the Adepts. Although His

work is of a nature entirely different from ours, He also obeys the Head of the

Great Occult Hierarchy; He also is one of the Great White Brotherhood which

exists only for the purpose of forwarding the evolution of the world.

The presence of so great a being naturally sheds a powerful influence over the

mountain and its neighbourhood, and most of all over its summit, so that there

is emphatically a reality behind to account for the joyous enthusiasm so freely

manifested by the pilgrims. Here also, as at other shrines, we have in addition

to this the effect of the feeling of devotion with which successive generations

of pilgrims have impregnated the place, but though that cannot but be powerful,

it is yet in this case completely overshadowed by the original and ever-present

influence of the mighty entity who has done His work and kept His guard there

for so many thousands of years.


There are sacred rivers also-- the Ganges, for example. The idea is that some

great person of old has magnetised the source of the river with such power that

all the water that henceforth flows out from that source is in a true sense holy

water, bearing with it his influence and his blessing. This is not an

impossibility, though it would require either a great reserve of power in the

beginning or some arrangement for a frequent repetition. The process is simple

and comprehensible; the only difficulty is what may be called the size of the

operation. But what would be beyond the power of the ordinary man might possibly

be quite easy to some one at a much higher level.

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



IN considering the influence exerted by our cathedrals and churches we have

hitherto concerned ourselves with that which radiates from their walls. That is,

however, only one small part of the effect that they are intended to produce

upon the community-- only incidental to the great plan of the Founder of the

religion; and even that plan in turn is only part of a still mightier scheme.

Let me try to explain.


Theosophical students are familiar with the fact that the direction of the

evolution of the world is vested in the Hierarchy of Adepts, working under one

great Leader, and that one of the departments of this government is devoted to

the promotion and management of religion. The official in charge of that

department is called in the East the Bodhisattva, and is known to us in the West

as the Christ, though that is really the title of only one of His incarnations.

The plan of the government is that during each world-period there shall be seven

successive Christs-- one for each root-race. Each of these in succession holds

this office of Bodhisattva, and during His term of office He is in charge of all

the religious thought of the world, not only of that of His own special

root-race; and He may incarnate many times.

To illustrate exactly what is meant, let us take the case of the previous holder

of this office, whom we know as the Lord Gautama. He was technically the

Bodhisattva of the Atlantean or fourth root-race, and in that He incarnated many

times under different names through a period spreading over several hundreds of

thousands of years; but though His special work thus lay with the fourth

root-race, He was in charge of the religions of the whole world, and

consequently He did not neglect the fifth root-race. In the earlier part of the

history of each of its sub-races He appeared and founded a special religion. In

the first sub-race He was the original Vyasa; the name which He bore in the

second sub-race has not been preserved in history. In the third sub-race He was

the original Zoroaster, the first of a long line who bore that name. For the

great religion of Egypt He was Thoth-- called by the Greeks Hermes Trismegistus,

Hermes the Thrice-Greatest, and among the early Greeks of the fourth sub-race He

was Orpheus the Bard, the founder of their mysteries.

In each of such births He drew round Him a number of earnest disciples,

naturally in many cases the same egos over again in new bodies, although He was

steadily adding to their number. The fourth root-race has by no means finished

its evolution, for the majority of the earth' s inhabitants still belong to it--

the vast hosts of Chinese, Tartars, Japanese, Malays and all the undeveloped

peoples of the earth; but it has long passed its prime, the time when it was the

dominant race of the world, and when all the most advanced egos were incarnated

in it. When the glory had finally passed from it the Bodhisattva prepared for

the culminating act of His work, which involves for Him the attainment of that

very high level of Initiation which we call the Buddha-hood and also the

resigning of His office into the hands of His successor.

The preparation required was to bring together into one country, and even to a

great extent into part of that country, all the egos who had been His special

followers in the different lives which lay behind Him. Then He Himself

incarnated among them-- or perhaps more probably one of His highest disciples

incarnated among them and yielded up his body to the Bodhisattva when the

appointed time drew near; and as soon as in that body He had taken the great

Initiation and become the BUDDHA, He went forth to preach His Law. We must not

attach to that word Law the ordinary English meaning, for it goes very much

further than a mere set of commands. We must take it rather to signify His

presentation of the Truth about humanity and its evolution, and His

instructions, based upon that truth, as to how a man should act so as to

co-operate in the scheme of that evolution.

Preaching this Law He drew round Him all the hosts of His old disciples, and by

the tremendous power and magnetism which belonged to Him as the BUDDHA He

enabled large numbers of them to take that fourth step on the Path, to which is

given the name of the Arhat. He spent the rest of His life on earth in preaching

and consolidating this new faith, and when He passed away from physical life He

definitely handed over His office of director of religion to His successor, whom

we call the Lord Maitreya-- the Great One who is honoured all through India

under the name of Krishna and throughout the Christian world as Jesus the

Christ. No Theosophical student will be confused by this last expression, for he

knows that the Christ, who is the new Bodhisattva, took the body of the disciple

Jesus, and held it for the last three years of its life in order to found the

Christian religion. After its death He continued for some years to teach His

more immediate disciples from the astral world, and from that time to this He

has employed that disciple Jesus (now Himself a Master) to watch over and guide

as far as may be the destinies of His Church.

Immediately upon taking over the office, the Lord Maitreya availed Himself of

the extraordinarily good conditions left behind Him by the BUDDHA to make

several simultaneous attempts to promote the religious progress of the world. He

not only descended into an almost immediate incarnation Himself, but He at the

same time employed a number of those who had attained the Arhat level under the

Lord BUDDHA, and were now ready to take rebirth at once. From this band of

disciples came those whom we call Laotse and Confucius, who were sent to

incarnate in China. From them also came Plato, and from among their followers

Phidias and many another of the greatest of the Greeks.

Within the same area of time came the great philosopher Pythagoras, who is now

our Master K. H. He was not one of the immediate attendants of the Lord BUDDHA,

as He had already attained the Arhat level and was needed for work elsewhere,

but He travelled over to India to see Him and to receive His blessing. He also

is upon the line of the Bodhisattva; and may be regarded as one of His foremost


Simultaneously with all these efforts the Lord Maitreya Himself incarnated as

Krishna, and led in India a very wonderful life, upon which is founded the

devotional aspect of the religion of that country, which shows us perhaps the

most fervent examples of utter devotion to be seen anywhere in the world. This

great incarnation must not be confounded with that of the Krishna described in

the Mahabharata; the latter was a warrior and a statesman, and lived some two

thousand five hundred years before the time of which we are speaking.

Along with this came another great incarnation-- not this time from the

department of religion, but rather from one the departments of organisation--

the great Shankaracharya, who travelled over India, founding the four chief

monasteries and the Sannyasi order. Some confusion has been created by the fact

that each of the long line of those who have since stood at the head of the

monastic organisations has also taken the title of Shankaracharya, so that to

speak of Shankaracharya is like speaking of the Pope without indicating which

particular holder of the Papal Chair is intended. The great Founder to whom we

have referred must not be confused with the better known holder of the office

who some seven hundred years after Christ wrote a voluminous series of

commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita and some of the Upanishads.


These three great Teachers, who followed one another so quickly in India,

furnished between them a fresh impulse along each of the three paths. The BUDDHA

founded a religion giving minute directions for daily life, such as would be

needed by those who should follow the path of action, while Shankaracharya

provided the metaphysical teaching for those to whom the path is wisdom, and the

Lord Maitreya (manifesting as Krishna) provided a supreme object of devotion for

those to whom that is the most direct road to the truth. But Christianity must

be considered as the first effort of the new Bodhisattva to build a religion

which should go abroad into new countries, for His work as Krishna had been

intended especially for India. For those who penetrate behind the external

manifestation to the inner and mystical meaning, it will be significant that the

ray or type to which belong the Lord BUDDHA, the Bodhisattva and our Master K.

H. is in a special sense a manifestation of the second aspect of the Solar

Deity-- the second person of the Blessed Trinity.

Religion has an objective side to it; it acts not only from within by stirring

up the hearts and minds of its votaries, but also from without by arranging that

uplifting and refining influences shall play constantly upon their various

vehicles. The temple or the church is meant to be not merely a place of worship,

but also a centre of magnetism, through which spiritual forces can be poured out

upon the district surrounding it. People often forget that even the Great Ones

must do their work subject to the laws of nature, and that it is for them an

actual duty to economise their force as much as possible, and therefore to do

whatever they have to do in the easiest possible manner.

In this case, for example, if the object be to let spiritual force shine forth

over a certain district, it would not be economical to pour it down

indiscriminately everywhere, like rain, since that would require that the

miracle of its materialisation to a lower level should be performed in millions

of places simultaneously, once for every drop, as it were, and each representing

a mighty effort. Far simpler would it be to establish at certain points definite

magnetic centres, where the machinery of such materialisation should be

permanently set up, so that by pouring in only a little force from above it

should instantly be spread abroad over a considerable area.

This had been achieved in earlier religions by the establishment of strongly

magnetised centres, such as are offered by the image or by the lingam in a Hindu

temple, by the altar of the sacred fire among the Parsis, or by the statue of

the Lord BUDDHA among the Buddhists. As each worshipper comes before one of

these symbols and pours himself out in devotion or gratitude, he not only draws

down the answering force upon himself, but also causes a certain radiation upon

those for some distance round him.

In founding the religion of Christianity the Bodhisattva tried a new experiment

with the view of securing at least once daily a much more thorough and effective

distribution of spiritual force. The fact that new experiments of this sort may

be tried-- that though the splendid system of the Hierarchy is unalterably

founded upon the Rock of Ages, it yet permits so much of freedom to its

Officials-- is surely of deepest interest. It shows us that that organisation

which is in all the world the most utterly conservative is yet at the same time

amazingly liberal, and that the oldest form of government is also the most

adaptable. It is only in reference to the august Head of the Hierarchy that we

can use to the fullest extent those grand old words of a Collect of the Church

of England: “In His service is perfect freedom.”

Perhaps the most readily comprehensible way of explaining this new scheme will

be to describe the way in which I myself was first enabled to see something of

the details of its working. But first I must say a few words as to the present

condition of the Christian Church.

As we see that Church now, it is but a poor representation of what its Founder

meant it to be. Originally it had its higher mysteries, like all other faiths,

and its three stages of purification, illumination and perfection, through which

its children had to pass. With the expulsion as heretics of the great Gnostic

doctors this aspect of the truth was lost to the Church, and the only idea which

it now places before its members is the first of the three stages, and even that

not understandingly. Origen, one of the greatest men that it has ever produced,

described very clearly the two kinds of Christianity-- the somatic or physical,

and the spiritual-- saying that the former is meant only to attract the ignorant

masses, but that the latter is for those who know. In these days the Church has

forgotten that true spiritual and higher side of her teaching, and has busied

herself with pitiful attempts to explain that there is somehow or other a

spiritual side to the lower teaching which is practically all that she has left.



Nevertheless, and in spite of all this, the old magic which was instituted by

her Founder is still working and effective; so even in these days of her

decadence she is still definitely under guidance and control. There is still a

real and a vital power in the sacraments when truly performed-- the power of the

Solar Deity Himself-- and it comes through Him whom we call the Master Jesus,

this being His special department.

It was not He, but the Christ-- the Lord Maitreya-- who founded the religion,

but nevertheless the special charge of Christianity has been given into the

hands of Him who yielded His body for the work of the Founder. Belief in His

personal interest in the Christian Church has almost died out in many branches

of it; the members think of him as a Teacher who lived two thousand years ago

rather than as an active power in the Church to-day. They have forgotten that He

is still a living force, a real presence-- truly with us always, even to the end

of the world, as He has said. Not God in the idolatrous sense, yet the channel

through which the Divine power has reached many millions-- the official in

charge of the devotional department of the work of the Christ.

The Church has turned aside widely from the course originally marked out for it.

It was meant to meet all types; now it meets only one, and that very

imperfectly. The reconstruction of the links must come, and as intellectual

activity is the sign of our time and of the latest sub-race, the intellectual

revival which shows itself in the higher criticism has for its very purpose that

of enabling religion to meet another type of mind. If only the priests and the

teachers had the advantage of direct knowledge, they would be able to deal with

and to help their people in this crisis-- to guide their intellectual activity

by means of their own knowledge of the truth, and to keep alive in the hearts of

their flock the spirituality without which the intellectual effort can be but


Not only has the Church almost entirely forgotten the original doctrine taught

by her Founder, but most of her priests have now little conception of the real

meaning and power of the ceremonies which they have to perform. It is probable

that the Christ foresaw that this would happen, for He has carefully arranged

that the ceremonies should work even though neither celebrants nor people have

any intelligent comprehension of their methods or their results. It would be

difficult to explain the outline of His plan to the average Christian; to the

Theosophist it ought to be more readily comprehensible, because he is already

familiar with some of the general ideas involved in it.

We who are students have often heard of the great reservoir of force which is

constantly being filled by the Nirmanakayas in order that its contents may be

utilised by members of the Adept Hierarchy and Their pupils for the helping of

the evolution of mankind. The arrangement made by the Christ with regard to His

religion was that a kind of special compartment of that reservoir should be

reserved for its use, and that a certain set of officials should be empowered by

the use of certain special ceremonies, certain words and signs of power, to draw

upon it for the spiritual benefit of their people.

The scheme adopted for passing on the power is what is called ordination, and

thus we see at once the real meaning of the doctrine of the apostolic

succession, about which there has been so much of argument. I myself held

strongly to that doctrine while officiating as a priest of the Church; but when

through the study of Theosophy I came to understand religion better and to take

a far wider view of life, I began to doubt whether in reality the succession

meant so much as we of the ritualistic party had supposed. With still further

study however, I was rejoiced to find that there was a real foundation for the

doctrine, and that it meant even much more than our highest schools had ever



My attention was first called to this by watching the effect produced by the

celebration of the Mass in a Roman Catholic Church in a little village in

Sicily. Those who know that most beautiful of islands will understand that one

does not meet with the Roman Catholic Church there in its most intellectual

form, and neither the priest nor the people could be described as especially

highly developed; yet the quite ordinary celebration of the Mass was a

magnificent display of the application of occult force.

At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness;

it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant, and as the

priest lifted it above the heads of the people I noticed that two distinct

varieties of spiritual force poured forth from it, which might perhaps be taken

as roughly corresponding to the light of the sun and the streamers of his

corona. The first rayed out impartially in all directions upon all the people in

the church; indeed, it penetrated the walls of the church as though they were

not there, and influenced a considerable section of the surrounding country.

This force was of the nature of a strong stimulus and, its action was strongest

of all in the intuitional world, though it was also exceedingly powerful in the

three higher subdivisions of the mental world. Its activity was marked in the

first, second and third subdivisions of the astral also, but this was a

reflection of the mental, or perhaps an effect produced by sympathetic

vibration. Its effect upon the people who came within the range of its influence

was proportionate to their development. In a very few cases (where there was

some slight intuitional development) it acted as a powerful stimulant, doubling

or trebling for a time the amount of activity in those intuitional bodies and

the radiance which they were capable of emitting. But forasmuch as in most

people the intuitional matter was as yet almost entirely dormant, its chief

effect was produced upon the causal bodies of the inhabitants.

Most of them, again, were awake and partially responsive only as far as the

matter of the third subdivision of the mental world was concerned, and therefore

they missed much of the advantage that they might have gained if the higher

parts of their causal bodies had been in full activity. But at any rate every

ego within reach, without exception, received a distinct impetus and a distinct

benefit from that act of consecration, little though he knew or recked of what

was being done.

The astral vibrations also, though much fainter, produced a far-reaching effect,

for at least the astral bodies, of the Sicilians are usually thoroughly

well-developed so that it is not difficult to stir their emotions. Many people

far away from the church, walking along the village street or pursuing their

various avocations upon the lonely hill-sides, felt for a moment a thrill of

affection or devotion, as this great wave of spiritual peace and strength passed

over the country-side, though assuredly they never dreamt of connecting it with

the Mass which was being celebrated in their little cathedral.

It at once becomes evident that we are here in the presence of a grand and

far-reaching scheme. Clearly one of the great objects, perhaps the principal

object, of the daily celebration of the Mass is that every one within reach of

it shall receive at least once each day one of these electric shocks which are

so well calculated to promote any growth of which he is capable. Such an

outpouring of force brings to each person whatever he has made himself capable

of receiving; but even the quite undeveloped and ignorant cannot but be somewhat

the better for the passing touch of a noble emotion, while for the few more

advanced it means a spiritual uplifting the value of which it would be difficult

to exaggerate.

I said that there was a second effect, which I compared to the streamers of the

sun' s corona. The light which I have just described poured forth impartially

upon all, the just and the unjust, the believers and the scoffers. But this

second force was called into activity only in response to a strong feeling of

devotion on the part of an individual. At the elevation of the Host all members

of the congregation duly prostrated themselves-- some apparently as a mere

matter of habit, but some also with a strong upwelling of deep devotional


The effect as seen by clairvoyant sight was most striking and profoundly

impressive, for to each of these latter there darted from the uplifted Host a

ray of fire, which set the higher part of the astral body of the recipient

glowing with the most intense ecstasy. Through the astral body, by reason of its

close relation with it, the intuitional vehicle was also strongly affected; and

although in none of these peasants could it be said to be in any way awakened,

its growth within its shell was unquestionably distinctly stimulated, and its

capability of instinctively influencing the astral was enhanced. For while the

awakened intuition can consciously mould and direct the astral, there is a great

storehouse of force in even the most undeveloped intuitional vehicle, and this

shines out upon and through the astral body, even though it be unconsciously and


I was naturally intensely interested in this phenomenon, and I made a point of

attending various functions at different churches in order to learn whether what

I had seen on this occasion was invariable, or, if it varied, when and under

what conditions. I found that at every celebration the same results were

produced, and the two forces which I have tried to describe were always in

evidence-- the first apparently without any appreciable variation, but the

display of the second depending upon the number of really devotional people who

formed part of the congregation.

The elevation of the Host immediately after its consecration was not the only

occasion upon which this display of force took place. When the benediction was

given with the Blessed Sacrament exactly the same thing happened. On several

occasions I followed the procession of the Host through the streets, and every

time that a halt was made at some half-ruined church and the benediction was

given from its steps, precisely the same double phenomenon was produced. I

observed that the reserved Host upon the altar of the church was all day long

steadily pouring forth the former of the two influences, though not so strongly

as at the moment of elevation or benediction. One might say that the light

glowed upon the altar without ceasing, but shone forth as a sun at those moments

of special effort. The action of the second forces, the second ray of light,

could also be evoked from the reserved Sacrament upon the altar, apparently at

any time, though it seemed to me somewhat less vivid than the outpouring

immediately after the consecration.

Everything connected with the Host-- the tabernacle, the monstrance, the altar

itself, the priest' s vestments, the insulating humeral veil, the chalice and

paten-- all were strongly charged with this tremendous magnetism, and all were

radiating it forth, each in its degree.

A third effect is that which is produced upon the communicant. He who receives

into his body a part of that dazzling centre, from which flow the light and the

fire, becomes himself for the time a similar centre, and radiates power in his

turn. The tremendous waves of force which he has thus drawn into the closest

possible association with himself cannot but seriously influence his higher

bodies. For the time these waves raise his vibrations into harmony with

themselves, thus producing a feeling of intense exaltation. This, however, is a

considerable strain upon his various vehicles, which naturally tend gradually to

fall back again to their normal rates. For a long time the indescribably vivid

higher influence struggles against this tendency to slow down, but the dead

weight of the comparatively enormous mass of the man' s own ordinary undulations

acts as a drag upon even its tremendous energy, and gradually brings it and

themselves down to the common level. But undoubtedly every such experience draws

the man just an infinitesimal fraction higher than he was before. He has been

for a few moments or even for a few hours in direct contact with the forces of a

world far higher than any that he himself can otherwise touch.

Naturally, having watched all this, I then proceeded to make further

investigations as to how far this outflowing of force was affected by the

character, the knowledge or the intention of the priest. I may sum up briefly

the results of the examination of a large number of cases in the form of two or

three axioms, which will no doubt at first sight seem surprising to many of my



First, only those priests who have been lawfully ordained, and have the

apostolic succession, can produce this effect at all. Other men, not being part

of this definite organisation, cannot perform this feat, no matter how devoted

or good or saintly they may be. Secondly, neither the character of the priest,

nor his knowledge, nor ignorance as to what he is really doing, affects the

result in any way whatever.

If one thinks of it, neither of these statements ought to seem to us in any way

astonishing, since it is obviously a question of being able to perform a certain

action, and only those who have passed through a certain ceremony have received

the gift of the ability to perform it. Just in the same way, in order to be able

to speak to a certain set of people one must know their language, and a man who

does not know that language cannot communicate with them, no matter how good and

earnest and devoted he may be. Also, his ability to communicate with them is not

affected by his private character, but only by the one fact that he has, or has

not, the power to speak to them which is conferred by a knowledge of their

language. I do not for a moment say that these other considerations are without

their due effect; I shall speak of that later, but what I do say is that no one

can draw upon this particular reservoir unless he has received the power to do

so which comes from a due appointment given according to the direction left by

the Christ.

I think that we can see a very good reason why precisely this arrangement has

been made. Some plan was needed which should put a splendid outpouring of force

within the reach of every one simultaneously in thousands of churches all over

the world. I do not say that it might not be possible for a man of most

exceptional power and holiness to call down through the strength of his devotion

an amount of higher force commensurate with that obtained through the rites

which I have described. But men of such exceptional power are always excessively

rare, and it could never at any time of the world' s history have been possible

to find enough of them simultaneously to fill even one thousandth part of the

places where they are needed. But here is a plan whose arrangement is to a

certain extent mechanical; it is ordained that a certain act when duly performed

shall be the recognised method of bringing down the force; and this can be done

with comparatively little training by any one upon whom the power is conferred.

A strong man is needed to pump up water, but any child can turn on a tap. It

needs a strong man to make a door and to hang it in its place, but when it is

once on its hinges any child can open it.

Having myself been a priest of the Church of England, and knowing how keen are

the disputes as to whether that Church really has the apostolic succession or

not, I was naturally interested in discovering whether its priests possessed

this power. I was much pleased to find that they did, and I suppose we may take

that as definitely settling the much-disputed Parker question, and with it the

whole controversy as to the authenticity of the Orders of the Church of England.

I soon found by examination that ministers of what are commonly called

dissenting sects did not possess this power, no matter how good and earnest they

might be. Their goodness and earnestness produced plenty of other effects which

I shall presently describe, but their efforts did not draw upon the particular

reservoir to which I have referred.

I was especially interested in the case of one such minister whom I knew

personally to be a good and devout man, and also a well-read Theosophist. Here

was a man who knew much more about the real meaning of the act of consecration

than nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand of the priests who

constantly perform it; and yet I am bound to admit that his best effort did not

produce this particular effect, while the others as unquestionably did. (Once

more, of course he produced other things which they did not-- of which more

anon.) That at first somewhat surprised me, but I soon saw that it could not

have been otherwise. Suppose, for example, that a certain sum of money is left

by a rich Freemason for distribution among his poorer brethren, the law would

never sanction the division of that money among any others than the Freemasons

for whom it was intended; and the fact that other poor people outside the

Masonic body might be more devout or more deserving would not weigh with it in

the slightest degree.

Another point which interested me greatly was the endeavour to discover to what


extent, if at all, the intention of the priest affected the result produced. In

the Roman Church I found many priests who went through the ceremony somewhat

mechanically, and as a matter of daily duty, without any decided thought on the

subject; but whether from ingrained reverence or from long habit, they always

seemed to recover themselves just before the moment of consecration and to

perform that act with a definite intention.


I turned then to what is called the Low Church division of the Anglican

community to see what would happen with them, because I knew that many of them

would reject altogether the name of priest, and though they might follow the

rubric in performing the act of consecration, their intention in doing it would

be exactly the same as that of ministers of various denominations outside the

Church. Yet I found that the Low Churchman could and did produce the effect, and

that the others outside did not. Hence I infer that the ` intention' which is

always said to be required must be no more than the intention to do whatever the

Church means, without reference to the private opinion of the particular priest

as to what that meaning is. I have no doubt that many people will think that all

this ought to be quite differently arranged, but I can only report faithfully

what my investigations have shown me to be the fact.

I must not for a moment be understood as saying that the devotion and

earnestness, the knowledge and the good character of the officiant make no

difference. They make a great difference; but they do not affect the power to

draw from that particular reservoir. When the priest is earnest and devoted his

whole feeling radiates out upon his people and calls forth similar feelings in

such of them as are capable of expressing them. Also his devotion calls down its

inevitable response, as shown in the illustration in Thought-Forms, and the

down-pouring of force thus evoked benefits his congregation as well as himself;

so that a priest who throws his heart and soul into the work which he does may

be said to bring a double blessing upon his people, though the second class of

influence can scarcely be considered as being of the same order of magnitude as

the first. This second outpouring, which is drawn down by devotion itself, is of

course to be found just as often outside the Church as within it.

Another factor to be taken into account is the feeling of the congregation. If

their feeling is devout and reverent it is of immense help to their teacher, and

it enormously increases the amount of spiritual energy poured down as a response

to devotion. The average intellectual level of the congregation is also a matter

to be considered, for a man who is intelligent as well as pious has within him a

devotion of a higher order than his more ignorant brother, and is therefore able

to evoke a fuller response. On the other hand in many places of worship where

much is made of the exercise of the intellectual faculties-- where for example

the sermon and not the service is thought of as the principal feature-- there is

scarcely any real devotion, but instead of it a horrible spirit of criticism and

of spiritual pride which effectually prevents the unfortunate audience from

obtaining any good results at all from what they regard as their spiritual


Devotional feeling or carelessness, belief or scepticism on the part of the

congregation make no difference whatever to the downflow from on high when there

is a priest in charge who has the requisite qualifications to draw from the

appointed reservoir. But naturally these factors make a difference as to the

number of rays sent out from the consecrated Host, and so to the general

atmosphere of the Church.


Another very important factor in the effect produced is the music which is used

in the course of the service. Those who have read Thought-Forms will remember

the striking drawings that are there given of the enormous and splendid mental,

astral and etheric erections which are built up by the influence of sound. The

general action of sound is a question which I shall take up in another chapter,

touching here only upon that side of it which belongs to the services of the


Here is another direction, unsuspected by the majority of those who participate

in them, in which these services are capable of producing a wonderful and

powerful effect. The devotion of the Church has always centred principally round

the offering of the Mass as an act of the highest and purest adoration possible,

and consequently the most exalted efforts of its greatest composers have been in

connection with this service also. Here we may see one more example of the

wisdom with which the arrangements were originally made, and of the crass

ineptitude of those who have so blunderingly endeavoured to improve them.


Each of the great services of the Church (and more especially the celebration of

the Eucharist) was originally designed to build up a mighty ordered form,

expressing and surrounding a central idea-- a form which would facilitate and

direct the radiation of the influence upon the entire village which was grouped

round the church. The idea of the service may be said to be a double one: to

receive and distribute the great outpouring of spiritual force, and to gather up

the devotion of the people, and offer it before the throne of God.

In the case of the Mass as celebrated by the Roman or the Greek Church, the

different parts of the service are grouped round the central act of consecration

distinctly with a view to the symmetry of the great form produced, as well as to

their direct effect upon the worshippers. The alterations made in the English

Prayer Book in 1552 were evidently the work of people who were ignorant of this

side of the question, for they altogether disturbed that symmetry-- which is one

reason why it is an eminently desirable thing for the Church of England that it

should as speedily as possible so arrange its affairs as to obtain permission to

use as an alternative the Mass of King Edward VI according to the Prayer Book of


One of the most important effects of the Church Service, both upon the immediate

congregation and upon the surrounding district, has always been the creation of

these beautiful and devotional thought-forms, through which the downpouring of

life and strength from higher worlds can more readily take effect. These are

better made and their efficiency enhanced when a considerable portion of those

who take part in the service do so with intelligent comprehension, yet even when

the devotion is ignorant the result is still beautiful and uplifting.

Most of the sects, which unhappily broke away from the Church, entirely lost

sight of this inner and more important side of public worship. The idea of the

service offered to God almost disappeared, and its place was largely taken by

the fanatical preaching of narrow theological dogmas which were always

unimportant and frequently ridiculous. Readers have sometimes expressed surprise

that those who write from the occult standpoint should seem so decidedly to

favour the practices of the Church, rather than those of the various sects whose

thought is in many ways more liberal. The reason is shown precisely in this

consideration of the inner side of things on which we are now engaged.

The occult student recognises most fully the value of the effort which made

liberty of conscience and of thought possible; yet he cannot but see that those

who cast aside the splendid old forms and services of the Church lost in that

very act almost the whole of the occult side of their religion, and made of it

essentially a selfish and limited thing-- a question chiefly of “personal

salvation” for the individual, instead of the grateful offering of worship to

God, which is in itself the never-failing channel through which the Divine Love

is poured forth upon all.

The attainment of mental freedom was a necessary step in the process of human

evolution; the clumsy and brutal manner in which it was obtained, and the

foolishness of the excesses into which gross ignorance led its champions, are

responsible for many of the deplorable results which we see at the present day.

The same savage, senseless lust for wanton destruction that moved Cromwell' s

brutal soldiers to break priceless statues and irreplaceable stained glass, has

deprived us also of the valuable effect produced in higher worlds by perpetual

prayers for the dead, and by the practically universal devotion of the common

people to the saints and angels. Then the great mass of the people was

religious-- even though ignorantly religious; now it is frankly and even

boastfully irreligious. Perhaps this transitory stage is a necessary one, but it

can hardly be considered in itself either beautiful or satisfactory.


No other service has an effect at all comparable to that of the celebration of

the Mass, but the great musical forms may of course appear at any service where

music is used. In all the other services (except indeed the Catholic Benediction

of the Blessed Sacrament) the thought-forms developed and the general good which

is done depend to a great extent upon the devotion of the people. Now devotion,

whether individual or collective, varies much in quality. The devotion of the

primitive savage, for example, is usually greatly mingled with fear, and the

chief idea in his mind in connection with it is to appease a deity who might

otherwise prove vindictive. But little better than this is much of the devotion

of men who consider themselves civilised, for it is a kind of unholy bargain--

the offering to the Deity of a certain amount of devotion if He on His side will

extend a certain amount of protection or assistance.

Such devotion, being entirely selfish and grasping in its nature, produces

results only in the lower types of astral matter, and exceedingly

unpleasant-looking results they are in many cases. The thought-forms which they

create are often shaped like grappling-hooks, and their forces move always in

closed curves, reacting only upon the man who sends them forth, and bringing

back to him whatever small result they may be able to achieve. The true, pure,

unselfish devotion is an outrush of feeling which never returns to the man who

gave it forth, but constitutes itself in very truth a cosmic force producing

widespread results in higher worlds.

Though the force itself never returns, the man who originates it becomes the

centre of a downpour of divine energy which comes in response, and so in his act

of devotion he has truly blessed himself, even though at the same time he has

also blessed many others as well, and in addition to that has had the unequalled

honour of contributing to the mighty reservoir of the Nirmanakaya. Anyone who

possesses the book Thought-Forms may see in it an attempt to represent the

splendid blue spire made by devotion of this type as it rushes upwards, and he

will readily understand how it opens a way for a definite outpouring of the

divine force of the Solar Deity.

He is pouring forth His wonderful vital energy on every level in every world,

and naturally the outpouring belonging to a higher world is stronger and fuller

and less restricted than that upon the world below. Normally, each wave of this

great force acts in its own world alone, and cannot or does not move

transversely from one world to another; but it is precisely by means of

unselfish thought and feeling, whether it be of devotion or of affection, that a

temporary channel is provided through which the force normally belonging to a

higher world may descend to a lower, and may produce there results which,

without it, could never have come to pass.

Every man who is truly unselfish frequently makes himself such a channel, though

of course on a comparatively small scale; but the mighty act of devotion of a

whole vast congregation, where it is really united, and utterly without thought

of self, produces the same result on an enormously greater scale. Sometimes

though rarely, this occult side of religious services may be seen in full

activity, and no one who has even once had the privilege of seeing such a

splendid manifestation as this can for a moment doubt the hidden side of a

Church service is of an importance infinitely greater than anything purely


Such an one would see the dazzling blue spiral or dome of the highest type of

astral matter rushing upwards into the sky, far above the image of it in stone

which sometimes crowns the physical edifice in which the worshippers are

gathered; he would see the blinding glory which pours down through it and

spreads out like a great flood of living light over all the surrounding region.

Naturally, the diameter and the height of the spire of devotion determine the

opening made for the descent of the higher life, while the force which expresses

itself in the rate at which the devotional energy rushes upwards has its

relation to the rate at which the corresponding down-pouring can take place. The

sight is indeed a wonderful one, and he who sees it can never doubt again that

the unseen influences are more than the seen, nor can he fail to realise that

the world which goes on its way heedless of the devotional man, or perhaps even

scornful of him, owes to him all the time far more than it knows.

The power of the ordained priest is a reality in other ceremonies than the

celebration of the eucharist. The consecration of the water in the rite of

baptism, or of the holy water which is to be distributed to the faithful or kept

at the entrance of the church, pours into it a strong influence, which enables

it in each case to perform the part assigned to it. The same is true of other

consecrations and benedictions which come in the course of the regular work of

the priest, though in many of these it seems that a somewhat larger proportion

of the effect is produced by the direct magnetism of the priest himself, and the

amount of that of course depends upon the energy and earnestness with which he

performs his part of the ceremony.


We shall find it interesting to study the hidden side of some of these minor

services of the Church, and the work done by her priests. Into the making of

holy water, for example, the mesmeric element enters very strongly. The priest

first takes clean water and clean salt, and then proceeds to demagnetise them,

to remove from them any casual exterior influences with which they may have been

permeated. Having done this very thoroughly, he then charges them with spiritual

power, each separately and with many earnest repetitions, and then finally with

further fervent adjurations he casts the salt into the water in the form of a

cross, and the operation is finished.

If this ceremony be properly and carefully performed the water becomes a highly

effective talisman for the special purposes for which it is charged-- that it

shall drive away from the man who uses it all worldly and warring thought, and

shall turn him in the direction of purity and devotion. The student of occultism

will readily comprehend how this must be so, and when he sees with astral sight

the discharge of the higher force which takes place when anyone uses or

sprinkles this holy water, he will have no difficulty in realising that it must

be a powerful factor in driving away undesirable thought and feeling, and

quelling all irregular vibrations of the astral and mental bodies.

In every case where the priest does his work the spiritual force flows through,

but he may add greatly to it by the fervour of his own devotion, and the

vividness with which he realises what he is doing.


The sacrament of baptism, as originally administered, had a real and beautiful

hidden side. In those older days the water was magnetised with a special view to

the effect of its vibrations upon the higher vehicles, so that all the germs of

good qualities in the unformed astral and mental bodies of the child might

thereby receive a strong stimulus, while at the same time the germs of evil

might be isolated and deadened. The central idea no doubt was to take this early

opportunity of fostering the growth of the good germs, in order that their

development might precede that of the evil-- in order that when at a later

period the latter germs begin to bear their fruit, the good might already be so

far evolved that the control of the evil would be a comparatively easy matter.

This is one side of the baptismal ceremony; it has also another aspect, as

typical of the Initiation towards which it is hoped that the young member of the

Church will direct his steps as he grows up. It is a consecration and a setting

apart of the new set of vehicles to the true expression of the soul within, and

to the service of the Great White Brotherhood; yet is also has its occult side

with regard to these new vehicles themselves, and when the ceremony is properly

and intelligently performed there can be no doubt that its effect is a powerful



The economy and efficiency of the whole scheme of the Lord Maitreya depend upon

the fact that much greater powers can easily be arranged for a small body of

men, who are spiritually prepared to receive them, than could possibly be

universally distributed without a waste of energy which could not be

contemplated for a moment. In the Hindu scheme, for example, every man is a

priest for his own household, and therefore we have to deal with millions of

such priests of all possible varieties of temperament, and not in any way

specially prepared. The scheme of the ordination of priests gives a certain


greater power to a limited number, who have by that very ordination been

specially set apart for the work.

Carrying the same principle a little further, a set of still higher powers are

given to a still smaller number-- the bishops. They are made channels for the

force which confers ordination, and for the much smaller manifestation of the

same force which accompanies the rite of confirmation. The hidden side of these

ceremonies is always one of great interest to the student of the realities of

life. There are many cases now, unfortunately, where all these things are mere

matters of form, and though that does not prevent their result, it does minimise

it; but where the old forms are used as they were meant to be used, the unseen

effect is out of all proportion to anything that is visible in the physical



To the bishop also is restricted the power of consecrating a church or a

churchyard, and the occult side of this is a really pretty sight. It is

interesting to watch the growth of the sort of fortification which the officiant

builds as he marches round uttering the prescribed prayers and verses; to note

the expulsion of any ordinary thought-forms which may happen to have been there,

and the substitution for them of the orderly and devotional forms to which

henceforth this building is supposed to be dedicated.


There are many minor consecrations which are of great interest-- the blessing of

bells, for example. The ringing of bells has a distinct part in the scheme of

the Church,, which in these days seems but little understood. The modern theory

appears to be that they are meant to call people together at the time when the

service is about to be performed, and there is no doubt that in the Middle Ages,

when there were no clocks or watches, they were put to precisely this use. From

this restricted view of the intention of the bell has grown the idea that

anything which makes a noise will serve the purpose, and in most towns of

England Sunday morning is made into a purgatory by the simultaneous but

discordant clanging of a number of unmusical lumps of metal.

At intervals we recognise the true use of the bells, as when we employ them on

great festivals or on occasions of public rejoicing; for a peal of musical

bells, sounding harmonious notes, is the only thing which was contemplated by

the original plan, and these were intended to have a double influence. Some

remnant of this still remains, though but half understood, in the science of

campanology, and those who know the delights of the proper performance of a

trip-bob-major or a grandsire-bob-cator will perhaps be prepared to hear how

singularly perfect and magnificent are the forms which are made by them.

This then was one of the effects which the ordered ringing of the bells was

intended to produce. It was to throw out a stream of musical forms repeated over

and over again, in precisely the same way, and for precisely the same purpose,

as the Christian monk repeats hundreds of Ave Marias or the northern Buddhist

spends much of his life in reiterating the mystic syllables Om Mani Padme Hum,

or many a Hindu makes a background to his life by reciting the name Sita Ram.

A particular thought-form and its meaning were in this way impressed over and

over again upon all the astral bodies within hearing. The blessing of the bells

was intended to add an additional quality to these undulations, of whatever kind

they may have been. The ringing of the bells in different order would naturally

produce different forms; but whatever the forms may be, they are produced by the

vibration of the same bells, and if these bells are, to begin with, strongly

charged with a certain type of magnetism, every form made by them will bear with

it something of that influence. It is as though the wind which wafts to us

snatches of music should at the same time bear with it a subtle perfume. So the

bishop who blesses the bells charges them with much the same intent as he would

bless holy water-- with the intention that, wherever this sound shall go, all

evil thought and feeling shall be banished and harmony and devotion shall

prevail-- a real exercise of magic, and quite effective when the magician does

his work properly.

The sacring bell, which is rung inside the church, at the moment of the reciting

of the Tersanctus or the elevation of the Host, has a different intention. In

the huge cathedrals which mediaeval piety erected, it was impossible for all the

worshippers to hear what the priest was saying in the recitation of the Mass,

even before the present system of what is called “recitation in secret” was

adopted. And therefore the server, who is close to the altar and follows the

movements of the priest, has it among his duties to announce in this way to the

congregation when these critical points of the service are reached.

The bell which is often rung in Hindu or Buddhist temples has yet another

intention. The original thought here was a beautiful and altruistic one. When

some one had just uttered an act of devotion or made an offering, there came

down in reply to that a certain outpouring of spiritual force. This charged the

bell among other objects, and the idea of the man who struck it was that by so

doing he would spread abroad, as far as the sound of the bell could reach, the

vibration of this higher influence while it was still fresh and strong. Now it

is to be feared that the true signification has been so far forgotten that there

are actually some who believe it necessary in order to attract the attention of

their deity!


The same idea carried out in a different way shows itself to us in the blessing

of the incense before it is burned. For the incense has always a dual

significance. It ascends before God as a symbol of the prayers of the people;

but also it spreads through the church as a symbol of the sweet savour of the

blessing of God, and so once more the priest pours into it a holy influence with

the idea that wherever its scent may penetrate, wherever the smallest particle

of that which has been blessed may pass, it shall bear with it a feeling of

peace and of purity, and shall chase away all inharmonious thoughts and


Even apart from the blessing, its influence is good, for it is carefully

compounded from gums the undulation-rate of which harmonises perfectly with

spiritual and devotional vibrations, but is distinctly hostile to almost all

others. The magnetisation may merely intensify its natural characteristics, or

may add to it other special oscillations, but in any case its use in connection

with religious ceremonies is always good. The scent of sandalwood has many of

the same characteristics; and the scent of pure attar of roses, though utterly

different in character, has also a good effect.

Another point which is to a large extent new in the scheme prepared by its

Founder for the Christian Church is the utilisation of the enormous force which

exists in united synchronous action. In Hindu or Buddhist temples each man comes

when he chooses, makes his little offering or utters his few words of prayer and

praise, and then retires. Result follows each such effort in proportion to the

energy of real feeling put into it, and in this way a fairly constant stream of

tiny consequences is achieved; but we never get the massive effect produced by

the simultaneous efforts of a congregation of hundreds or thousands of people,

or the heart-stirring vibrations which accompany the singing of some well known

processional hymn.

By thus working together at a service we obtain four separate objects. (1)

Whatever is the aim of the invocatory part of the service, a large number of

people join in asking for it, and so send out a huge thought-form. (2) A

correspondingly large amount of force flows in and stimulates the spiritual

faculties of the people. (3) The simultaneous effort synchronises the

undulations of their bodies, and so makes them more receptive. (4) Their

attention being directed to the same object, they work together and thus

stimulate one another.


What I have said in the earlier part of this chapter will explain a feature

which is often misunderstood by those who ridicule the Church-- the offering of

a Mass with a certain intention, or on behalf of a certain dead person. The idea

is that that person shall benefit by the downpouring of force which comes on

that particular occasion, and undoubtedly he does so benefit, for the strong

thought about him cannot but attract his attention, and when he is in that way

drawn to the church he takes part in the ceremony and enjoys a large share of

its result. Even if he is still in a condition of unconsciousness, as sometime

happens to the newly-dead, the exertion of the priest' s will (or his earnest

prayer, which is the same thing) directs the stream of force towards the person

for whom it is intended. Such an effort is a perfectly legitimate act of

invocatory magic; unfortunately an entirely illegitimate and evil element is

often imported into the transaction by the exaction of a fee for the exercise of

this occult power-- a thing which is always inadmissible.


I have been trying to expound something of the inner meaning of the ceremonies

of the Christian Church-- taking that, in the first place because it is with

that that I am most familiar, and in the second place because it presents some

interesting features which in their present form may be said to be new ideas

imported into the scheme of things by our present Bodhisattva. I do not wish it

to be supposed that I have expounded the Christian ceremonies because I regard

that religion as in any way the best expression of universal truth; the fact

that I, who am one of its priests, have publicly proclaimed myself a Buddhist,

shows clearly that that is not my opinion.

So far as its teaching goes, Christianity is probably more defective than any

other of the great religions, with perhaps the doubtful exception of

Muhammadanism; but that is not because of any neglect on the part of the

original Founder to make His system a perfectly arranged exposition of the

truth, but because most unfortunately the ignorant majority of the early

Christians cast out from among themselves the great Gnostic Doctors, and thereby

left themselves with a sadly mutilated doctrine. The Founder may perhaps have

foreseen this failure, for He supplied His Church with a system of magic which

would continue to work mechanically, even though His people should forget much

of the early meaning of what He had taught them; and it is precisely the force

which has lain behind this mechanical working which explains the remarkable hold

so long maintained by a Church which intellectually has nothing to give to its


Those who profess other religions must not then suppose that I mean any

disrespect to their faiths because I have chosen for exposition that with which

I am most familiar. The general principles of the action of ceremonial magic

which I have laid down are equally true for all religions, and each must apply

them for himself.


Perhaps I ought to explain, for the benefit of our Indian readers, that there

are three orders among the Christian clergy-- bishops, priests and deacons. When

a man is first ordained he is admitted as a deacon, which means, practically, a

kind of apprentice or assistant priest. He has not yet the power to consecrate

the sacrament, to bless the people or to forgive their sins; he can, however,

baptise children, but even a layman is permitted to do that in case of

emergency. After a year in the diaconate he is eligible for ordination as a

priest, and it is this second ordination which confers upon him the power to

draw forth the force from the reservoir of which I have spoken. To him is then

given the power to consecrate the Host and also various other objects, to bless

the people in the name of the Christ, and to pronounce the forgiveness of their

sins. In addition to all these powers, the bishop has that of ordaining other

priests, and so carrying on the apostolic succession. He alone has the right to

administer the rite of confirmation, and to consecrate a church, that is to say,

to set it apart for the service of God. These three are the only orders which

mean definite grades, separated from one another by ordinations which confer

different powers . You may hear many titles applied to the Christian clergy,

such as those of archbishop, archdeacon, dean or canon, but these are only the

titles of offices, and involve differences of duty, but not of grade in the

sense of spiritual power.

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




WE have considered the influences radiating from the walls of our churches, and

the effect of the ceremonies performed within them; it still remains for us to

mention the hidden side of the music of their services.

There are many people who realise that sound always generates colour-- that

every note which is played or sung has overtones which produce the effect of

light when seen by an eye even slightly clairvoyant. Not every one, however,

knows that sounds also build form just as thoughts do. Yet this is nevertheless

the case. It was long ago shown that sound gives rise to form in the physical

world by singing a certain note into a tube across the end of which was

stretched a membrane upon which fine sand or lycopodium powder had been cast.

In this way it was proved that each sound threw the sand into a certain definite

shape, and that the same note always produced the same shape. It is not,

however, with forms caused in this way that we are dealing just now, but with

those built up in etheric, astral and mental matter, which persist and continue

in vigorous action long after the sound itself has died away, so far as physical

ears are concerned.


Let us take, for example, the hidden side of the performance of a piece of

music-- say the playing of a voluntary upon a church organ. This has its effect

in the physical world upon those of the worshippers who have an ear for music--

who have educated themselves to understand and to appreciate it. But many people

who do not understand it and have no technical knowledge of the subject are yet

conscious of a very decided effect which it produces upon them.

The clairvoyant student is in no way surprised at this, for he sees that each

piece of music as it is performed upon the organ builds up gradually an enormous

edifice in etheric, astral and mental matter, extending away above the organ and

far through the roof of the church like a kind of castellated mountain-range,

all composed of glorious flashing colours coruscating and blazing in a most

marvellous manner, like the aurora borealis in the arctic regions. The nature of

this differs very much in the case of different composers. An overture by Wagner

makes always a magnificent whole with splendid splashes of vivid colour, as

though he built with mountains of flame for stones; one of Bach' s fugues builds

up a mighty ordered form, bold yet precise, rugged but symmetrical, with

parallel rivulets of silver or gold or ruby running through it, marking the

successive appearances of motif ; one of Mendelssohn' s Lieder ohne Worte makes

a lovely airy erection-- a sort of castle of filigree work in frosted silver.

In the book called Thought-Forms will be found three illustrations in colour, in

which we have endeavoured to depict the forms built by pieces of music by

Mendelssohn, Gounod and Wagner respectively, and I would refer the reader to

these, for this is one of the cases in which it is quite impossible to imagine

the appearance of the form without actually seeing it or some representation of

it. It may some day be possible to issue a book containing studies of a number

of such forms, for the purpose of careful examination and comparison. It is

evident that the study of such sound forms would be a science in itself, and one

of surpassing interest.

These forms, created by the performers of the music, must not be confounded with

the magnificent thought-form which the composer himself made as the expression

of his own music in the higher worlds. This is a production worthy of the great

mind from which it emanated, and often persists for many years-- some times even

over centuries, if the composer is so far understood and appreciated that his

original conception is strengthened by the thoughts of his admirers. In the same

manner, though with wide difference of type, magnificent erections are

constructed in higher worlds by a great poet' s idea of his epic, or a great

writer' s idea of the subject which he means to put before his readers-- such,

for example, as Wagner' s immortal trilogy of The Ring, Dante' s grand

representation of purgatory and paradise, and Ruskin' s conception of what art

ought to be and of what he desired to make it.

The forms made by the performance of the music persist for a considerable space

of time, varying from one hour to three or four, and all the time they are

sending out radiations which assuredly influence for good every soul within a

radius of half a mile or more. Not that the soul necessarily knows it, nor that

the influence is at all equal in all cases. The sensitive person is greatly

uplifted, while the dull and preoccupied man is but little affected. Still,

however unconsciously, each person must be a little the better for coming under

such an influence. Naturally the undulations extend much farther than the

distance named, but beyond that they grow rapidly weaker, and in a great city

they are soon drowned in the rush of swirling currents which fill the astral

world in such places. In the quiet country amidst the fields and the trees the

edifice lasts proportionately much longer, and its influence has a wider area.

Sometimes in such a case those who can, may see crowds of beautiful

nature-spirits admiring the splendid forms built by the music, and bathing with

delight in the waves of influence which they send forth. It is surely a

beautiful thought that every organist who does his work well, and throws his

whole soul into what he plays, is thus doing far more good than he knows, and

helping many whom perhaps he never saw and never will know in this life.

Another point which is interesting in this connection is the difference between

the edifices built by the same music when rendered upon different instruments--

as, for example, the difference in appearance of the form built by a certain

piece when played upon a church organ and the same piece executed by an

orchestra or by a violin quartet, or played on a piano. In these cases the form

is identical if the music be equally well rendered, but the whole texture is

different; and naturally, in the case of the violin quartet, the size of the

form is far less, because the volume of sound is so much less. The form built by

the piano is often somewhat larger than that of the violins, but is not so

accurate in detail, and its proportions are less perfect. Again, a decided

difference in texture is visible between the effect of a violin solo and the

same solo played upon the flute.

Surrounding and blending with these forms, although perfectly distinct from

them, are the forms of thought and feeling produced by human beings under the

influence of the music. The size and vividness of these depend upon the

appreciativeness of the audience and the extent to which they are affected.

Sometimes the form built by the sublime conception of a master of harmony stands

alone in its beauty, unattended and unnoticed, because such mental faculties as

the congregation may possess are entirely absorbed in millinery or the

calculations of the money-market; while on the other hand the chain of simple

forms built by the force of some well-known hymn may in some cases be almost

hidden by great blue clouds of devotional feeling evoked from the hearts of the


Another factor which determines the appearance of the edifice constructed by a

piece of music is the quality of the performance. The thought-form left hanging

over a church after the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus infallibly and

distinctly shows, for example, if the bass solo has been flat, or if any of the

parts have been noticeably weaker than the others, as in either case there is an

obvious failure in the symmetry and clearness of the form. Naturally there are

types of music whose forms are anything but lovely, though even these have their

interest as objects of study. The curious broken shapes which surround an

academy for young ladies at the pupils' practising hour are at least remarkable

and instructive, if not beautiful; and the chains thrown out in lasso-like loops

and curves by the child who is industriously playing scales or arpeggios are by

no means without their charm, when there are no broken or missing links.


A song with a chorus constructs a form in which a number of beads are strung at

equal distances upon a silver thread of melody, the size of the beads of course

depending upon the strength of the chorus, just as the luminosity and beauty of

the connecting thread depend upon the voice and expression of the solo singer,

while the form into which the thread is plaited depends upon the character of

the melody. Of great interest also are the variations in metallic texture

produced by different qualities of voice-- the contrast between the soprano and

the tenor, the alto and the bass, and again the difference between a boy' s

voice and a woman' s. Very beautiful also is the intertwining of these four

threads (quite unlike in colour and in texture) in the singing of a glee or a

part-song, or their ordered and yet constantly varied march side by side in the

singing of a hymn.

A processional hymn builds a series of rectangular forms drawn with mathematical

precision, following one another in definite order like the links of some mighty

chain-- or still more (unpoetical though it sounds) like the carriages of some

huge train belonging to the astral world. Very striking also is the difference

in ecclesiastical music, between the broken though glittering fragments of the

Anglican chant, and the splendid glowing uniformity of the Gregorian tone. Not

unlike the latter is the effect produced by the monotonous chanting of Sanskrit

verses by pandits in India.

It may be asked here how far the feeling of the musician himself affects the

form which is built by his efforts. His feelings do not, strictly speaking,

affect the musical structure at all. If the delicacy and brilliancy of his

execution remain the same, it makes no difference to that musical form whether

he himself feels happy or miserable, whether his musings are grave or gay. His

emotions naturally produce vibrant forms in astral matter, just as do those of

his audience, but these merely surround the great shape built by the music, and

in no way interfere with it. His comprehension of the music, and the skill of

his rendering of it, show themselves in the edifice which he constructs. A poor

and merely mechanical performance erects a structure which, though it may be

accurate in form, is deficient in colour and luminosity-- a form which, as

compared with the work of a real musician, gives a curios impression of being

constructed of cheap materials. To obtain really grand results the performer

must forget all about himself, must lose himself utterly in the music as only a

genius may dare to do.


The powerful and inspiring effect produced by military music is readily

comprehensible to the clairvoyant who is able to see the long stream of

rhythmically vibrating forms which is left behind by the band as it marches

along at the head of the column. Not only does the regular beat of these

undulations tend to strengthen those of the astral bodies of the soldiers, thus

training them to move more strongly and in unison, but the very forms which are

created themselves radiate strength and courage and material ardour, so that a

body of men which before seemed to be hopelessly disorganised by fatigue, may in

this way be pulled together again and endowed with a considerable accession of


It is instructive to watch the mechanism of this change. A man who is utterly

exhausted has to a great extent lost the power of co-ordination; the central

will can no longer hold together and govern as it should the different parts of

the body; every physical cell is complaining-- raising its own separate cry of

pain and remonstrance; and the effect upon all the vehicles-- etheric, astral

and mental-- is that a vast number of small separate vortices are set up, each

quivering at its own rate, so that all the bodies are losing their cohesion and

their power to do their work, to bear their part in the life of the man. Carried