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EDITORS’ NOTE: This online version of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is a work in progress. The manuscript, originally produced in the 1930s and ’40s, is currently being revised and expanded, and will be updated periodically. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome; please send to email@example.com
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Ea or Hea (Akkadian, Chaldean) [from house + water] One of the three chief gods of the Chaldaeo- or Assyro-Babylonian celestial triad of Anu, Bel, and Ea. In the division of the universe into heaven, earth, and water, Ea is king of the watery deeps (Shar Apsi); also Lord of that which is below (En-Ki).
Ea is figured as a man covered with the body of a fish, thus resembling Oannes and Dagon. Marodach and Marduk are also aspects of this same deity. His consort is Damkina (lady of that which is below) or Damgal-nunna (great lady of the waters). Ea is called the god of wisdom, and one of his titles, the Sublime Fish, points directly to his cosmic aspect as the ever-living spirit of and bearer of consciousness in the spatial deeps. “The waters are a symbol of wisdom and of occult learning. Hermes represented the sacred Science under the symbol of fire; the Northern Initiates, under that of water” (SD 2:495n).
Eabani (Babylonian) Created by Ea; the hero-companion of Izdubar (Gilgamesh) in the epic of Gilgamesh. Here he is created by Ea upon supplication by the people to send them a champion to deliver them from the tyranny of Izdubar. Eabani, however, becomes his bosom-friend and fellow-traveler, acting as guide when Izdubar descends to the regions of the dead. See also MARDUK
Eagle One of the four sacred animals of the Christian Qabbalists, the other three being the bull, the lion, and the man-angel. The eagle is a very ancient symbol, generally regarded as solar. “With the Greeks and Persians it was sacred to the Sun; with the Egyptians, under the name of Ah, to Horus, and the Kopts worshipped the eagle under the name of Ahom. It was regarded as the sacred emblem of Zeus by the Greeks, and as that of the highest god by the Druids. The symbol has passed down to our day, when following the example of the pagan Marius, who, in the second century b.c. used the double-headed eagle as the ensign of Rome, the Christian crowned heads of Europe made the double-headed sovereign of the air sacred to themselves . . .” (TG 108).
Ear. See SENSES; HEARING
Earth Besides being our terrestrial globe, earth is a comprehensive symbol, meaning the matter or vehicular side of manifestation as well as one of the four, five, or seven elements. It is primordial undifferentiated matter which, by the action of spirit, produces the manifested worlds of entities. The Western alchemists called this Adam’s Earth; in Greek mythology it is the lower side of Rhea. The bringing forth of animate beings was due to the marriage of heaven and earth, so that our earth is an offspring of this cosmic union. Connected with this meaning are the numerous allusions to earth as the nether pole of manifestation, and it is often synonymous with the nether regions, as Pluto, Yama, etc. In the zodiac it is occasionally symbolized by Taurus, the bull which in popular astrology is the first and fixed earthy sign. As the lowest of the several elements, earth denotes physicalization, what we call physical matter being a combination of all four elements with the earth-element predominating. The pure element, however, is not physical, its characteristic property or tattva in connection with the human organs is smell, and its name in the Hindu system is prithivi-tattva; it is characterized by square or cubical forms and by fixity; the nature spirits pertaining to it were said by medieval European mystics to be the gnomes.
Our own earth is one of a system of planetary chains belonging to the solar system. The earth planetary chain consists of a coadunation or chain of seven or twelve globes, though the name earth is usually applied to the grossest globe, which alone is in direct rapport with our physical senses. The earth actually is an animate being, as are all the celestial globes.
Earth-chain Our planet, like every visible cosmic body, is one of a composite chain or coadunated group formed of seven or twelve energies and substances, the ones on our plane alone visible to our physical senses. These septenary or duodenary groups are called planetary chains, and the earth-chain is the one whose visible component is what we call the planet earth. The words and diagrams describing the idea are merely representations, not photographic. The components are distinctly separate spheres in each chain, but nevertheless form a coadunated unit, but no two globes are of the same substance.
See also PLANETARY CHAIN
Earthquakes Physical phenomena such as earthquakes are generally the end-products of a chain of causation operating not only on the physical plane but also on other cosmic planes. A study of the geology of the earth’s crust as regards the lie of the rocks, the position of faults, the presence of volcanic activities, etc., may indicate the places most likely to be affected, and the relation between earthquakes and the positions of the heavenly bodies is now receiving some consideration from scientists; but they still do not recognize any connection between the cause of earthquakes and events on the mental plane of the earth. “But when they understand that there is no such thing as accident in the universe, that every event which appears to us as accident, is the effect of a force on the mental plane, then they will be able to understand why the superstitious Hindus look upon earthquakes as the effect of accumulated sins committed by men.” (Damodar)
The more subtle forms of force-matter or astral light form the links between the physical earth and the mental state of the living beings upon it; and rapid and more or less violent physical cataclysms may be regarded as the final effects of a sudden release of tension in those higher realms. That unusual psychic conditions perceptible to animals and even to humans precede earthquakes many hours before a shock, and long before the seismographs show the smallest tremor, is well-authenticated. “It is absolutely false, and but an additional demonstration of the great conceit of our age, to assert (as men of science do) that all the great geological changes and terrible convulsions have been produced by ordinary and known physical forces. For these forces were but the tools and final means for the accomplishment of certain purposes, acting periodically, and apparently mechanically, through an inward impulse mixed up with, but beyond their material nature. There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose acts are all cyclic and periodical. But spiritual Forces having been usually confused with the purely physical, the former are denied by, and therefore have to remain unknown to Science, because left unexamined” (SD 1:640).
Earth-spirit The psychic as opposed to the heavenly nature of man or of any celestial body, and therefore the astral light, the lower and lowest portions of the anima mundi. With the Gnostics and Nazarenes it was feminine; in Jewish mystical thought it is Samael, also in a sense Jehovah — in other senses Satan. It builds the physical body of terrestrial beings. In some systems it stands for the entire matter-side of manifestation; in others it is the last of a series of spirits pertaining to a hierarchy of beings and planes.
In the plural, and in a more restricted sense, applied to the gnomes or earth elementals of medieval European thought.
Eashoor. See ISVARA
East [from Old English est; cf Latin aurora, Greek auos dawn] One of the four quarters of the globe, different quarters being considered sacred in archaic religio-philosophy, sometimes said to be the place whence wisdom comes: there are the wise men from the East, the star in the East; Christian churches are orientated with the altar to the east. It is the place of the rising sun, and that part of the celestial equator which the ecliptic intersects at the spring equinox. Hence, as European symbology goes back to a time when the equinox was in Taurus, its corresponding figure among the four sacred animals is the bull.
Easter [from Eostre or Ostara goddess of spring] In the northern hemisphere, the time of the renewal of life in nature, and therefore the appropriate season for celebrating the mystery of rebirth and regeneration. Easter day was close to the time of one of the four sacred seasons connected with the equinoxes and solstices, which were individually celebrated in the ancient Mysteries as representatives of the four main phases of the drama of initiation. It was the second stage of initiation when the awakened person, in whom the Christ had already been born (as celebrated at a winter solstice), was preparing to become a conqueror of self and then a teacher. Easter today is the result of a confusion and compromise between this ancient spring festival (chiefly in its Northern European form) with ecclesiastical legends and the Jewish Feast of the Passover (pesah). Good Friday, following the Christian version of this ancient theme, commemorates the descent of the Christ into the tomb, and the Sunday following, which is the third day counting inclusively, celebrates the resurrection. Due to a confusion in early Christian thought, there are certain aspects of the Easter celebration which properly pertain to the winter solstice, which the Christians, however, have rightly held as commemorating the birth of Christ. The Jewish ecclesiastical calendar was lunar, and the attempt to reconcile the solar calendar with the date of the Passover as fixed by the lunar calendar resulted in protracted disputes, ending in the present compromise with its fluctuating date. The use of eggs at Easter is symbolic of rebirth and shows the influence of the ancient rites, especially of Northern Europe.
Easter Island A volcanic island in the South Pacific about 2000 miles west of Chile, celebrated for its mysterious megalithic monuments including many huge platforms (ahus) built of large blocks of basalt so hard that it can scarcely be worked with steel tools. Some of the platforms are made of carefully hewn stones, ten feet long and fitted together with almost invisible joints. Some are drilled with curious round holes. Easter Island is best known for about 550 statues of great but varying size found in different places, mostly facing the ocean, some of which formerly stood on the platforms. Most vary in height from 4 to 32 feet, but the largest one, which still remains unfinished in the quarry measures about 70 feet. They are composed of a friable rock much softer than the platforms, which may well be far older. Their significance and origin are unknown, but they bear the distinct imprint of the Lemuro-Atlantean tradition. Easter Island as land is said to belong to the earliest civilizations of the third root-race, but the island, submerged towards the end of the third root-race, reappeared due to a sudden uplifting of that part of the ocean floor during the Champlain epoch of northern polar submersion (SD 2:327).
Wooden tablets with elaborate inscriptions were in the possession of the natives when the island was discovered, and a few still exist, but these unquestionably, when compared with the megalithic monuments, are of very recent fabrication. Somewhat similar but syllabic inscriptions are found at Oleai in the Caroline Islands, but nowhere else in the Pacific. The Easter Island script curiously resembles that on the seals discovered at Mohenjo-Daro on the Indus River, India, cities which flourished more than 5000 years ago; but neither script has yet been deciphered.
Ebionites [probably from Hebrew ’ebyon poor] An early sect of Christians, but predating the term Christian. They were probably disciples of Jeshua ben Panthera, an initiated teacher living in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (104-79 BC), around whom many scholars believe the Gospel story of the avatara Jesus was later built. There seems little support for the conjecture that they had a founder called Ebion. Accounts of their tenets are uncertain, for their name was transferred to various diverging sects, differing in the extent of their adhesion to the Mosaic law and in their way of interpreting Christian dogmas as to the nature and work of Jesus. They were regarded as Judaizers and heretics, and eventually became eliminated from the Church. As Gnostics of a kind, they regarded both Christ and the polar opposite Jehovah as emanations or rays of the Logos, and were concerned with the adaptation of esoteric teachings with the Mosaic law on the one hand and with the materializing spirit of the Church on the other.
Eblis. See IBLIS
Ecclesia non novit sanguinem (Latin) The church knows not blood; formula used by the Inquisition when it handed over its culprits to the secular arm for punishment, ignoring another maxim of ancient legal jurisprudence qui facit per alium, facit per se (who does something through another, does it himself).
Echath. See ’AHATH
Echod. See ’EHAD
Eclectic [from Greek eklektikos selective, picking out] Applied to systems of philosophy or religion which cull the best from a variety of systems, with the view of thus arriving at essentials. It was applied to the School of Ammonius Saccas and other Alexandrian philosophers, implying that they picked out what was best in all faiths in order to make a new system, doing so because they knew that all the major systems of human religion and philosophy fundamentally derive from a common wisdom-religion of remote antiquity, and therefore that each such system contains at least some elements of truth. Hence they were teaching the wisdom-religion through synthesizing, and by illustrating it from various faiths. The word is also applied to other matters, e.g. schools of painting.
Eclipses of the sun and moon take place when a new or full moon occurs near one of the lunar nodes. These events were recognized by the ancients as spiritually and cyclically significant, for the universe was regarded as a corporate whole, and throughout by analogy outer events are keys to inner correspondences. According to many ancient legends, eclipses were caused by the sun’s or moon’s being swallowed by a cosmic dragon — figurative language, as for instance in Sanskrit where the dragon’s head and tail, Rahu and Katu are the moon’s nodes.
In astrology, the moment of an eclipse is regarded as one of those epochs when the planetary configurations of the moment are significant of coming events — the birth moment of a cycle, in fact; and eclipses are mentioned in The Secret Doctrine as being guideposts in fixing the dates of ancient epochs that mark the junction of long cycles.
Ecliptic An imaginary great circle on the celestial sphere, defining the apparent annual path of the sun around the earth. A line drawn through the center of this circle and perpendicular to its plane constitutes its axis, the extremities of which are the poles of the ecliptic. The axis of the ecliptic and the axis of the earth are inclined to each other at an angle of 23 degrees 27 minutes, which is said to be at present decreasing at the rate of 1 minute in 128 years. The relative movement of the two axes causes the precession of the equinoxes.
Ecpyrosis. See CATACLYSMS
Ecstasy, Ecstasis (Greek) [from ekstasis displacement, standing out from the proper place, hence rising above] A transference of consciousness from the physical plane to another inner and superior plane, accompanied by awareness and memory of the experience. It is necessary to distinguish between an astral-psychic experience and a truly psychospiritual one. The former is delusive and fraught with harm; the latter is the state of illumination spoken of by Plotinus, resulting from the true asceticism of the disciple, and in its highest form is the same as the high stage of meditation of the Hindu yogi.
Used in the Gospels to mean astonishment, trance, or ecstatic visions.
Ectenic Force [from Greek ektenes stretched out, extended] Name proposed by Professor Thury of Geneva for a force or agent which is supposed to be the cause or operative agency in the production of psychic phenomena such as levitation, moving objects without contact, thought transference, hypnotism, etc. Pervading all matter — nervous, organic, or inorganic — it is equivalent to Crooke’s psychic force and similar hypothetical agents, and to the lowest portions of the akasa or lower astral light in connection with human nerve-force.
Ectoplasm [from Greek ektos without + plasma a thing formed] Used by observers interested in psychic research and kindred subjects to denote the filmy matter which appears at times to exude from the body of a medium. Inasmuch as purported photographs have been shown representing this matter in close proximity to the body of a medium, and even as clearly issuing from it, it is quite evident that physical or quasi-physical matter must be associated with this ectoplasm. When this ectoplasm is genuine (for it may of course be simulated for a photograph), it occurs because the constitution of the medium is loosely knit together and thus an exudation becomes possible from the medium’s linga-sarira or model-body upon which the physical body is built. In cases of genuine ectoplasmic projection, because of the peculiar, exceptional magnetic and vital condition surrounding a medium’s body, atoms are also drawn to the medium by electromagnetic attraction, such as molecules of air or dust particles of physical and pranic substance with which the air is laden. These tiny particles of often invisible physical substance fuse with the exuding material from the linga-sarira of the medium, giving it substance and even the appearance of physical matter. Thus when the ectoplasm is touched, it feels warm and vital; occasionally even a throbbing sensation may be felt due to the pulse-beat coming from the heart of the medium.
Edda(s) (Icelandic) [from edda great grandmother] Matrix of the mythic wisdom of the ancient Norse peoples, the Edda consists of two main parts: the poetic or Elder Edda, which was written down by Saemund the Wise in Iceland after the ancient oral traditions of the skalds, about 1000 AD, a version known as the Codex Regius.
Saemund was a learned man who, after studying in Paris, founded a school at Oddi in Iceland. Scholars have speculated on the possibility that the manuscript of Saemund may have been called The Book of Oddi, which became linguistically Edda.
In 1643 Bishop Brynjolf Sveinsson of Skalholt discovered Saemund’s manuscript. He had copies made and sent the original with Thormod Torfaeus to King Frederik III of Denmark as a gift in l662. After three hundred years it was returned to Iceland.
The Younger Edda, in which the verses are rendered in prose form by Snorri Sturlusson, a pupil of Saemund’s grandson in the school at Oddi, contains some material which has been omitted or lost from the poetic version. A large part of Snorri’s Edda is devoted to Skaldskaparmal, a treatise on the rules of alliteration and meter that apply in the creation of poetry, and the uses of kenningar — a type of word play giving suggestive descriptions instead of the words commonly used to designate people, gods, and things. As examples of kennings the Tree of Life is called variously the soil mulcher, the shade giver, and Odin is named allfather, the thinker, the disguised, etc. The other two sections of Snorri’s Edda are named Hattatal (rules or conventions), and Gylfaginning (the mocking of Gylfe). This can also mean the “apotheosis of Gylfe” which, in the context of a Mystery teaching presents interesting possibilities.
One 18th century author, Johan Goransson, believes that the Eddas were copied from old Runobocker (books of runes) and that when Christianity first spread its influence in Sweden about two hundred years after Saemund, these ancient writings were systematically destroyed (Sviogota ok Nordmanna Edda xxxi).
The manuscripts containing the collection of lays and stories known as Edda are: Codex Regius, Codex Wormianus, and Codex Upsaliensis. The last-named and also the Arnamagnaean Vellum No. 748, which contains a portion of the text, are clearly written by Snorri.
The Eddas have given rise to a great many fairy tales, mythic and heroic stories, and humorous anecdotes, but the keys to decipher their esoteric meaning have been largely lost.
E Delphicum The Delphic E, a sacred symbol denoting, among other things, the number 5. It is the fifth letter in the Greek and English alphabets, corresponding to he’, the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which signifies a window and, in the Qabbalah, the human womb.
Eden or the garden of Eden (Hebrew) ‘Ēden, Gan-‘ēden [from ‘ēden delight, pleasure, loveliness] The country in which the garden of Adam and Eve was situated according to the Bible. Not wholly a mythical name, for Eden “is an archaic name of the country watered by the Euphrates and its many branches, from Asia and Armenia to the Erythraean Sea” (SD 2:202). Hebraists hold that the site of Eden would be the cradle of the human race. See also GAN-EDEN; PARADISE
Edom (Hebrew) ’Edom The land and the Kings of Edom are mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 36) in allegorical manner, and treated in the Qabbalah as referring to a period of unbalance before balance or harmony was inaugurated; the Kings, in one meaning of this Qabbalistic allegory, refer to the various attempts (and failures) at the formation of worlds before this one. However, “the ‘Edomite Kings’ could never symbolize the ‘prior worlds,’ but only the ‘attempts at men’ on this globe: the ‘pre-Adamite races,’ of which the Zohar speaks, and which we explain as the First Root-Race. . . . the Kings of Edom are the sons of ‘Esau the father of the Edomites’ (Gen., xxxvi, 43); i.e., Esau represents in the Bible the race which stands between the Fourth and the Fifth, the Atlantean and the Aryan” (SD 2:705). Interestingly Edom is exactly the same word as ’Adam (man), the only difference being one of vocalization, of changing the Massoretic points. The seven Kings of Edom are therefore the seven races of man, whether the reference be made to the seven subraces of any one root-race, or to the seven root-races themselves.
Egg One of the most comprehensive symbols, equally suggestive in a spiritual, physiological, and cosmological sense. Among other things, it stands for primordial chaos, the universal matrix, the great Deep, the Virgin Mother, and also for the kosmos or world egg produced from it. As chaos or space, it is the virgin egg, unproduced; this is fructified by the spiritual ray, and from it then issues the Third Logos. “The Virgin-egg being in one sense abstract Egg-ness, or the power of becoming developed through fecundation, is eternal and for ever the same. And just as the fecundation of an egg takes place before it is dropped; so the non-eternal periodical germ which becomes later in symbolism the mundane egg, contains in itself, when it emerges from the said symbol, ‘the promise and potency’ of all the Universe . . . The simile of an egg also expresses the fact . . . that the primordial form of everything manifested, from atom to globe, from man to angel, is spheroidal, the sphere having been with all nations the emblem of eternity and infinity” (SD 1:64-5).
As the symbol of generation, birth, and rebirth, it is “the most familiar form of that in which is deposited and developed the germ of every living being” (IU 1:157), used not only on account of the mystery of apparent self-generation, but from its spheroidal shape, the sphere and circle both being symbols of encompassing space.
The egg symbol appears in many cultures. In the Laws of Manu, for instance, it is stated that the Self-existent Lord, becoming manifest, created water alone; in that he cast seed which became a golden egg (hiranyagarbha); having dwelt in that egg for a divine year, Brahma splits it, forming heaven and earth. Brahma thus both fructifies the egg and is produced from it. Again, the female evolver or emanator is first a germ, a drop of heavenly dew, a pearl, and then an egg; the egg gives birth to the four elements with the fifth (akasa); it splits, the shell being heaven, the meat earth, and the white the waters of both space and earth. Vishnu, too, emerges from the egg. In Egypt, Osiris is born from an egg, like Brahma; the egg was sacred to Isis and therefore the priests never ate eggs.
The egg is used in Easter celebrations as the symbol of the renewal of life. The Easter egg derives from the pagan custom of exchanging eggs at the birth-time of the year. Originally it had a deep esoteric hint completely lost sight of today where the custom is still held in the Occident, although commonly candies in the shape of eggs are exchanged. Giving a fellow disciple an egg in the old Mystery schools suggested the rebirth of nature, so apparent in the springtime, or again the initiation ceremonies that prevailed at the spring equinox, thereby expressing the hope that he too might at some time be “reborn,” able to free his spiritual nature from the enveloping shell as a chick frees itself from the egg.
Sometimes the word is used for the circle or zero, for the egg combines the senses of fertility and sphericity in one symbol. The egg with its central germ is the circle with the point. In company with the stroke for the masculine power in nature — sometimes represented as a vertical line — it makes the number 10, or the figure of relatively perfected or complete emanation. The egg was the symbol of life in immortality and eternity, and also the glyph of the generative matrix. The anatomy of a hen’s egg shows a wonderful analogy with the stages in comic evolution and the human principles. See also BRAHMANDA; WORLD EGG
Egg-born The earlier divisions of the third root-race, which produced their offspring from eggs — a method which may still be said to exist in humans today, as well as among the animals. This race and its method of reproduction was the logical outcome of the so-called “sweat-born” of the later second and earliest third root-race. The human race from its beginnings on globe D passed through different modes of reproduction which again depended upon the physiological characteristics of the various phases through which humanity progressed from ethereal through astral into physical types. At first humanity was sexless and then, through various phases of seeding, budding, and egg-bearing, became androgynous, its offspring as time passed appearing with one or the other sex predominating, and finally during the latter third root-race appeared distinct males and females from birth as at present. The higher intellectual dhyanis (manasas, sons of wisdom) would not incarnate in the earliest forms, nor even in the bodies of the early egg-born. The first half of the egg-born race was therefore mortal in its lower or personal aspects, there being as yet no personal ego to survive; the inner monadic fires were there, but with no proper vehicle into which to pour their flames. The second half became intellectually immortal at will and spiritually immortal by reason of the development and incarnation of the fifth or manas principle through the agency of the informing manasas. In the days of Lemuria, the middle and later third root-race, the egg-born are to be referred not only to the physiological processes of reproduction then current, but to the seven dhyani-chohanic classes who incarnated in the “seven Elect” of the third root-race. See also ROOT-RACE, THIRD
Egg of Brahma. See BRAHMANDA; EGG; HIRANYAGARBHA
Eggregores. See EGREGORES
Egkosmioi or Enkosmioi (Greek) In the world or universe; applied by Proclus to his second highest rank of gods or planetary spirits, the first rank being the twelve huperouranioi (supercelestial). They are the inspiring and inspiriting agencies in the universe, the indwelling gods whose spiritual, intellectual, and psychic movements provide the universe in which they exist with the respective ranges of spiritual, intellectual, and psychic intelligence and forces. The very lowest range of these indwelling divinities, however, are but slightly above the elemental beings of the cosmic astral plane.
Ego (Latin) The personal pronoun “I”; in philosophy and theosophy, the ego is the center of ‘I-am-ship’ or egoity in the human being. There are two such centers: the spiritual and impersonal, commonly called the individuality; and the personal, often called the soul or the personality. The former ego is unconditionally immortal, the latter ego is conditionally immortal, but in most cases mortal because of its lack of binding aspirations with its higher Over-self, the individuality.
The ego is that which says “I am I”; it is indirect or reflected consciousness, consciousness recognizing its own mayavi existence as a separate entity. It is not the permanent self or the atma-buddhi-manas considered as an indissoluble triad; for all egos in the human constitution are reflections of the permanent spiritual selfhood. This means that there are innumerable egos of the same kind — “myself” and other similar myselves — also that there are egos of different kinds.
If we consider the hierarchy of the human constitution to grow from the immanent or permanent self, regarding this as the very seed of essential egoity, then a mayavi ego will be formed on each of the planes of matter and therefore on all the planes or layers of the human constitution; the seed of egoity manifesting itself in each successive vehicle and thus producing there an ego, permanent or impermanent according to its distance from the permanent self.
Thus we have: atman, the divine monad, giving birth to the divine ego, which latter evolves forth the monadic envelope or divine soul. Jiva, the spiritual monad, has its child, which is the spiritual ego, and this in turn evolves forth the spiritual soul or individual; and the combination of these two, considered as a unit, generally speaking, is atma-buddhi; bhutatman, the human ego — the higher human soul, including the lower buddhi and higher manas; pranatman, the personal ego — the ordinary human soul or person — including manas, kama, and prana; and finally the beast or animal ego — the vital-astral soul: kama and prana.
Egoity I-am-I-ness, ahamkara; human egoity is dual, but egoity really should mean individuality, not personality. The characteristic or swabhava of individuality is egoity or the essential root of I-am-I-ness, while the characteristic or swabhava of the personality is egoism, the faint shadow of egoity drunken with the sense of its own exclusive importance in the world. Further, both egoity and egoism are sharply distinguished from essential selfhood; paradoxically, the stronger the idea of essential selfhood in the human being, the less is there of egoity, and the least there is of egoism, for even egoity is a reflection, albeit high, of spiritual selfhood, which recognizes its oneness with the All. Thus ego is defined as I-am-I, consciousness recognizing its own mayavi existence as a separate entity, hence often called reflected consciousness. Essential selfhood is the characteristic of atman in the human constitution; egoity arises in the conjunction of atma-buddhi with manas; whereas personality or egoism is the faint reflection of the latter working in and through the lower manas, kama, and prana.
Egregores Coined by Eliphas Levi, who explains it as “the chiefs of the souls who are the spirits of energy and action” (SD 1:259). They are beings “whose bodies and essence is a tissue of the so-called astral light. They are the shadows of the higher Planetary Spirits whose bodies are of the essence of the higher divine light” (TG 111). They are “the ‘giants’ of Genesis who loved the daughters of men: an allusion to the first prehuman (so to say) races of men evoluted, not born — Alpha and the Omega of Humanity in this our ‘Round’ ” (BCW 6:176).
Egyptian Book of the Dead. See BOOK OF THE DEAD, EGYPTIAN
’Ehad (Hebrew) ’Eḥād One, first, alone, single; used by Orthodox Jews in relation to Jehovah as the one and only god. The feminine form is ’Ahath.
Eheieh, Eheyeh, Eheih. See ’EHYEH
’Ehyeh (Hebrew) ’Ehyeh [from hāyāh to be] I am, I will be; He who exists; an equivalent for the highest name of the Deity, although not uttered. “Existence . . . corresponds to Kether and Macroprosopus” (TG 11). “The secret of this word אהיה, Ehyeh, I Am, comprises everything, when the ways are hidden and not separated and together in one place, then it is called Ehyeh, I am, all hidden and not revealed; but after it goes out from its defined line and that river bears in its bosom all things, then He is called Asher Ehyeh, i.e., That I Am” (Zohar iii, 65b).
In The Secret Doctrine (2:468), used in connection with the phrase “I am that I am” (’ehyeh ’asher ’ehyeh), said to have been uttered by Jehovah when Moses inquired as to his name. Likewise a name for the first of the Sephiroth, Kether the Crown. See also ADONAI
Eidolon [from Greek eidolon form, shape; a phantom-double of the human form; Latin simulacrum] The astral double of living beings; the shade or perisprit, the kama-rupa after death before its disintegration. The phantom which can appear under certain conditions to survivors of the deceased.
Eight Although infrequently used in occultism, one of the important numerical stages in nature and, therefore, in all occult systems of reckoning and computaton. An inaccurate use of 8, or a use springing from ignorance, can very easily mislead the student of archaic numerology as to its ancient computational value and numerical signification. After remarking that the ancients always referred to seven planets (the sun being included in the septenary), Blavatsky says: “These ‘seven’ became the eight, the Ogdoad, of the later materialized religions, the seventh, or the highest principle, being no longer the pervading Spirit, the Synthesis, but becoming an anthropomorphic number, or additional unit” (SD 2:358n).
However, the ogdoad of the ancients had a special significance, among other things referring to the addition of the linking unit, whether of a superior or inferior hierarchy, to the septenary hierarchy envisioned at the moment. Furthermore, when the seven sacred planets of the ancients were considered in connection with their relations to earth, this conjoining of the eight units was often called an ogdoad. Hinduism takes cognizance of eight great gods, namely, the eight adityas, and on some of the oldest monuments of India, Persia, and Chaldea one may see the eight-pointed or double cross.
When the figure 8 is placed on its side . . . it symbolizes the eternal and spiral motion of cycles “and is symbolized in its turn by the Caduceus. It shows the regular breathing of the Kosmos presided over by the eight great gods — the seven from the primeval Mother, the One and the Triad” (SD 2:580). In modern mathematics, it is the symbol for infinity, or for the approach to infinity.
Eightfold Path. See ARIYA ATTHANGIKA MAGGA; ARYASHTANGAMARGA
Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death Both a globe and a condition of being, where utterly, irredeemably corrupt human souls are attracted, to be dissipated as earth entities. These “lost souls” have through lifetimes lost their link with their inner god, and so can no longer serve as a channel for those spiritual forces. Too gross to remain in kama-loka or avichi, they sink to this slowly dying planet of our solar system, invisible because too dense, which acts as a vent or receptacle for human waste. “The Eighth Sphere is a very necessary organic part of the destiny of our earth and its chain. . . . in the solar system there are certain bodies which act as vents, cleansing channels, receptacles for human waste and slag. . . . [the lost soul] therefore sinks into the Planet of Death or the globe of Mara to which its own heavy material magnetism drags it, where it is dissipated as an entity from above, which means from our globe, and is slowly ground over in nature’s laboratory. . . . However, precisely because the lost soul is yet an aggregate of astral-vital-psychical life-atoms connected around a monad as yet scarcely evolved, this monad, when freed from its earth veil of life atoms, thereupon begins in the Planet of Death a career of its own in this highly material globe.” (FSO 347-8)
Ein Soph, ’Ein-suph. See ’EYN SOPH
Eisteddfod (Welsh) [from eistedd to sit] A session; a festival of competitions in music and poetry, presided over and organized by the Gorsedd of the Bards.
Eis Zeus Sarapi An invocation to Sarapis (or Serapis) frequently found on Gnostic gems, meaning “the One Zeus, Sarapis,” a recognition of Sarapis as the supreme deity. Similar in meaning to the Gnostic phrase Abrasax Iao (Abrasax is the One Iao) also inscribed on gems.
Eka (Sanskrit) Eka The numeral adjective “one”; in the sense of first, primeval, or adi, it may mean Brahma, the third or creative kosmic Logos. This or any other One, such as the Hebrew ’ahath or ’ehad, never means boundless, frontierless infinity, which is symbolized by the zero. One is always the beginning of numeration as well as of enumeration, so that on however high a plane the One may be, it is always the beginning of the hierarchy flowing forth from it as its root or seed. In boundless infinitude there are, therefore, innumerable such Ones or hierarchs of kosmic hierarchies.
Ekagrata or Ekagratva (Sanskrit) Ekāgratā, Ekāgratva One-pointedness, absolute intentness in the contemplation of an object of meditation, holding the mind in perfect concentration on a single point of thought.
Ekana-rupa, Ekanekarupa. See EKANEKA-SVARUPA
Ekaneka-Svarupa (Sanskrit) Ekānekasvarūpa [from eka one + aneka not one, many + svarūpa one’s own form or shape] Single yet manifold in one’s own form; applied in the Puranas to Brahma: although the aspect is single yet it manifests in multiform expressions. Applicable to the various manifestations of the Logos despite its individuality and transcendency, and indeed on smaller scales applicable to any monadic individuality, such as that of a human being.
Ekasloka-Sastra (Sanskrit) Ekaśloka-śāstra [from eka one + śloka stanza + śāstra scripture] A Buddhist mystical work written by Nagarjuna, called in Chinese the Yih-shu-lu-kia-lun.
El (Hebrew) ’Ēl Sometimes written Al. Strong, mighty; as an abstract noun — strength, might — applied to divinities, heroes, or cosmic spirits. By the later Jewish and Christian monotheists rendered as God.
Used in connection with Jehovah as well as with non-Jewish gods. Its plural form is ’elim, whereas the Hebrew plural ’elohim is, strictly speaking, the plural of a cognate Chaldee and Hebrew word ’eloah. This last word has a feminine termination, whereas the plural has the masculine termination, thus imbodying in curious fashion both masculine and feminine attributes when used in the plural form. In translations from the Bible, ’elohim is usually translated into English as God, whereas Jehovah is usually rendered into English as Lord. See also ALHIM
Elder Brothers. See MAHATMA
Eldorado (Spanish) [from el the + dorado golden, gilded] An imaginary region supposed to abound in gold and other precious elements, often located by early European explorers in the New World somewhere in Central or South America; figuratively, a speculative goal of blissful hopes. Such ideas, like that of the Promised Land, Elysium, or Paradise, are echoes of intuitive and traditional awareness of mankind’s divine origin and destiny — traditions also connected with certain spots on the earth, such as the north pole.
Electra (Greek) Elektra. One of the Pleiades, daughter of Atlas and mother by Zeus of Dardanus, ancestor of the royal house of Troy. Called “dark-faced,” she is sometimes considered the Pleiad not visible to the naked eye, as upon seeing the ruin of Troy, she left her place to become a comet.
Also, a daughter of Ocean, mother by Thaumas of Iris and the Harpies; and a river nymph, daughter of Ocean and Tethys. Again, she is the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, sister of Iphigenia and Orestes. After her mother killed her father, Electra saved her brother and eventually helped him revenge their father’s death. (SD 2:768; BCW 4:224)
Electricity Theosophy regards electricity not as a mere effect but as an entity or cosmic force named fohat, also spoken of distributively as the sons of fohat. In correlating electricity with these cosmic forces, we find the term given either to the one great energy from which the others differentiate, or to a particular one of such differentiations: e.g., kundalini-sakti, which is characterized by spiral or serpentine motion and is thus related to electromagnetic phenomena, although kundalini might better be called vital electricity or magnetism, for electricity and magnetism are alter egos.
Electricity as we know it is the end product of a chain of appearances on various cosmic planes. It is said in old occult works that Father-Mother is the primordial aether or akasa, sometimes called svabhavat, which was homogeneous before the evolution of the Son — fohat or cosmic electricity. Electricity is also mentioned as a form of cosmic vitality, emanating chiefly from the various suns in the universe, but also in a less degree from all other cosmic entities; and behind all such vital activities is the all-permanent cosmic intelligence unfolding itself into the vital web of the minor cosmic intelligences. Electricity on our earth-plane is one of the lowest forms of spirit-light or daiviprakriti.
The Secret Doctrine states that electricity is atomic, as signifying infinitesimal particles, which obtains confirmation from modern research and theory. Again, the statement that electricity is intimately involved in the manifestations of all forms of life is being elucidated by investigations relative to the currents which accompany vital actions in living organisms.
The standpoint of occultism is that no cosmic force, or manifestations of any cosmic force, is different from cosmic life itself — except in its svabhava or characteristic attributes; and furthermore, that no smallest particle or point of infinite space is lifeless, so that the grossest matter is to be looked upon as a dense composite of vital action. From these two postulates it follows that electricity is not only vitality, but vitality controlled by intelligence, and our own inability to sense the intelligence in electric action lies solely in our ignorance of how cosmic intelligence acts, for it is all-permeant and virtually infinite in its manifestations, whereas our own ideas of vital action are limited to the very small compass of our acquaintance with particular units which we call living.
El Elion (Hebrew) ’Ēl ‘Elyōn [’ēl divinity + ‘elyōn what is high or above] The God on high; “a name of the Deity borrowed by the Jews from the Phoenician Elon, a name of the Sun” (TG 111). See also ELON
Element [from Latin elementa first principles; also (singular) elementum an element; cf Sanskrit lī to dissolve] Though element may be applied to anything, it more specifically refers to the matterside of nature; and thus the primordial element is found in mulaprakriti, the fundamental root-substance which underlies all manifestation. Schools of philosophy have seen fire, air, or water (not as understood in the usual sense) as the primal element; or have recognized fire, air, water, earth, and sometimes aether as primal elements.
While all things spring from an original unity, element is employed relatively to many things which are themselves compound. The chemical elements, for example, may spring from a more elementary protyle, and this again from the akasa, the common spiritual-ethereal parent of the physical substratum. Thus, what is homogeneous in relation to that which comes from it, may be heterogeneous in relation to that from which it comes.
The theosophical teaching regarding the cosmic elements and principles is treated under the term Tattvas. See also BHUTA; MAHABHUTAS; AETHER; AIR; EARTH; FIRE; WATER
Elemental(s) Used by medieval European mystics, such as the Fire-philosophers, Rosicrucians, and Qabbalists, to signify those classes of ethereal beings evolved in and born of the four elements or kingdoms of nature. Ordinarily they are spoken of as existing in four classes corresponding to the four popular elements air, fire, water, and earth; but theosophy describes these kingdoms of nature as seven or even ten in number: four of the material or quasi-material range, and three (or six) of highly ethereal and even quasi-spiritual substance. They are often described as nature spirits or sprites.
More strictly, the word is confined to those beings who are beginning their evolutionary growth, who have developed in their constitution but one of the four elements — that one from which they were born — and who are therefore in the elemental state of growth. It is a generalizing term for all beings evolutionally below the minerals. Nevertheless, by extension of meaning, the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms are often referred to as families of elemental beings, though in more advanced stages. An elemental, therefore, is a being who has entered our, or any other, universe on its lowest plane or world.
There are three kingdoms of the elementals below the mineral kingdom, each of which has seven (or ten) subdivisions, and every entity high or low has passed through this stage at some time in its career.
There are four commonly recognized great classes of these unevolved beings, called by the medieval European mystics gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders — elementals respectively of earth, water, air, and fire. These elementals are not only the inhabitants of and born from the respective elements, but really are the elements themselves. They are from one viewpoint simply nature forces, tools of the higher intelligences, and actually perform all the physical work of the world.
From another point of view they may be looked upon as life-atoms in different stages of evolutionary growth; and being in various degrees of evolution they are variously spiritual, ethereal, astral, or material, running through vast ranges on all these planes. Thus they exist everywhere: in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and all the tissues of physical nature. Through their agency we perform all our bodily or mental activities.
The three kingdoms of elementals actually build and form every new planet or world, beginning in serial order with the lowest of the three kingdoms, preparing the globe for the advent of the mineral kingdom, to be followed in turn by the vegetable and higher kingdoms in regular succession. The elementals are not only the matters of nature, but when acting together and used by higher intelligences become the forces or energies of nature, such as electricity, magnetism, light, vitality, etc. Unconsciously, human and other beings use them in the carrying on of all their bodily functions. For example, our bodies cohere through the automatic aid of the elementals of earth; and the elementals of fire give us our bodily heat.
The four kingdoms of elementals, existing in the four elements, are also known under the general designation of fairies and fays in the myths, fables, traditions, and poetry of all nations, ancient and modern. Their names are legion: peris, devs, jinn, sylvans, satyrs, fauns, elves, dwarfs, trolls, nixies, kobolds, brownies, banshees, leprechauns, pixies, moss-people, good people, good neighbors, wild women, men of peace, white ladies, and many more. They have been seen, feared, blessed, banned, and invoked in every quarter of the globe in every age.
These elementals are the principal nature forces used by the disimbodied human dead, very real but never visible “shells” mistaken for spirits at seances, and are the producers of all the phenomena except the purely subjective. They may be described as centers of force having instinctive desires but no consciousness as we understand it. Hence their acts may be what we humans call good or bad, indifferently. They have astral forms which partake, to a distinguishing degree, of the element to which they belong and also of the universally encompassing ether. They are a combination of sublimated matter and a purely rudimental mind. Some remain throughout several cycles relatively unchanging, so far as radical change goes, but still have no separate individuality, and usually acting collectively, so to speak. Others, of certain elements and species, change under a fixed law which Qabbalists explain. The most solid of their bodies are ordinarily just immaterial enough to escape perception by our physical eyesight, but not so unsubstantial that they cannot be perfectly recognized by the inner or clairvoyant vision. They not only exist and can all live in ether, but can handle and direct it for the production of physical effects, as readily as we can compress air or water for the same purpose by pneumatic and hydraulic apparatus; in which occupation they are readily helped by the human elementaries or astral shells.
More than this, they can so condense the ether as to make for themselves tangible bodies which, by their Protean powers, they can cause to assume such likeness as the elementals themselves are at the time impressed to assume, this being caused by their taking automatically as their models the portraits they find stamped in the memory of a person or persons present at a seance. It is not necessary that the sitter should be thinking at the moment of the one represented: the image may have faded many years before. The mind receives indelible impressions even from chance acquaintances. As a few seconds’ exposure of the sensitized photographic plate is all that is requisite to preserve indefinitely the image of the sitter, so is it in incomparably greater degree with the mind. Unable to invent anything or to produce anything of itself, the elemental automatically reflects stamped impressions in the memory of human beings to its very depths; hence the nervous exhaustion and mental oppression of certain sensitive natures at spiritualistic circles. The elemental will bring to light long-forgotten remembrances of the past: forms, images, even familiar sentences, long since faded from memory, but vividly preserved on the astral tablets of the imperishable book of life. The elementals are very imitative, having neither developed will nor intelligence of their own which they self-consciously use, and hence tend automatically to copy forms in all the higher kingdoms. They have therefore many shapes or bodies, some of the more advanced taking even a quasi-human form.
Some of the elementals are said to be friendly, others unfriendly, to humanity not because of any deliberate intent on their part, but simply because mankind happens to be in such evolutionary position that it is affected one way or the other by them. Also, as different people contain in their constitution a preponderance of one of the elements over the other, they are more sensitive to the elementals of their predominating element.
Elemental Dissolution. See PRAKRITIKA PRALAYA
Elemental Vortices. See VORTEX-ATOM THEORY
Elementaries The earth-bound disimbodied human souls of people who were evil or depraved when imbodied: the conscious or quasi-conscious astral souls of people who on earth refused all spiritual light, remained and died deeply immersed in the mire of matter, and from whose souls or intermediate, personal nature the immortal spirit has gradually separated. These may exist for centuries before completely dissolving. Blavatsky writes of the spiritual death leading to this condition: “When one falls into a love of self and love of the world, with its pleasures, losing the divine love of God and of the neighbor, he falls from life to death. The higher principles which constitute the essential elements of his humanity perish, and he lives only on the natural plane of his faculties. Physically he exists, spiritually he is dead. . . . This spiritual death results from disobedience of the laws of spiritual life, which is followed by the same penalty as the disobedience of the laws of natural life. But the spiritually dead have still their delights; they have their intellectual endowments and power, and intense activities. All the animal delights are theirs, and to multitudes of men and women these constitute the highest ideal of human happiness. The tireless pursuit of riches, of the amusements and entertainments of social life; the cultivation of graces of manner, of taste in dress, of social preferment, of scientific distinction, intoxicate and enrapture these dead-alive . . .” (IU 1:318).
When highly developed, this class of people, during incarnation on earth, is known in the East as the Brothers of the Shadow, a title rightly applied also to their astral shades, which are often quite fully conscious in the lower parts of nature, “cunning, low, vindictive, and seeking to retaliate their sufferings upon humanity, they become, until final annihilation, vampires, ghouls, and prominent actors. These are the leading ‘stars’ on the great spiritual stage of ‘materialization,’ which phenomena they perform with the help of the more intelligent of the genuine-born ‘elemental’ creatures, which hover around and welcome them with delight in their own spheres” (IU 1:3l9).
In popular modern theosophical literature, the word has also been applied to the phantoms or kama-rupic shades of disimbodied persons in general, especially to the case of grossly materialistic humans whose evil impulses and appetites, still inhering in the kama-rupic phantom, draw these phantoms to physical spheres congenial to them. Even these last are a real danger to the psychological health and sanity of imbodied humans, and literally haunt living human beings possessing tendencies akin to their own. Such soulless astral shells are less dangerous than actual elementaries because far less conscious, but are still filled with energies of a depraved and ignoble type. Their destiny is like that of all other pretas or bhutas — ultimate disintegration; for the gross astral atoms composing them slowly dissolve after the manner of a dissolving column of smoke.
Both these classes of astral souls or phantoms are attracted to and thickly cluster about the grossest and most material places and beings of the physical sphere. Any person of spiritual character and aspiring soul, however, repels these astral entities by a type of psychomagnetic antipathy.
Element-Principles. See TATTVA
Elephanta A small island near Bombay, called Gharipur or Gharapuri in India, which received its present name from Portuguese navigators because of its colossal elephants sculpted in stone. The island is also famous for a large cave-temple containing much noteworthy sculptures.
Eleusinia or Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek) [from eleusinia things that are to come] The most famous Mysteries in ancient Greece and, next to those of Samothrace, the most ancient. Even the Christian writer Epiphanius traces them to the days of Inachos (which some writers place so close to our time as 1800 BC, which is far too near), while others make the founder Eumolpos. Both these founders are described as at once kings and of divine parentage.
The Greater Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated at the time of the autumnal equinox, the time of grape gathering, and the Mysteries were in honor of Demeter — in Latin Ceres and in one range of mythologic thought also the Egyptian Isis — the Earth-Mother, presiding over fertility.
The celebration of the complete Eleusinia consisted of Less and Greater Mysteries. In the former the produce of the earth was given a part, while in the latter emphasis was laid on its higher correspondences in connection with Mystery-teaching. As its name implies, at Eleusis were taught the doctrines concerning what will happen to man after death.
Iacchos, the god of wine in more senses than one, plays an important part in these Mysteries. Demeter’s daughter Persephone, goddess of the underworld, was also honored. The usual accounts, vague and fragmentary only, describe the dramatic representations of the adventures of these deities, the esoteric meaning of which was given in the Greater Mysteries.
Eleusis (Greek) [from eleusis a coming, advent from eleusomai will come] Seat near Athens of one of the most renown Mystery centers in ancient Greece. In the New Testament, it is translated as “the advent.” See also ELEUSINIA; MYSTERIES
Elias, Elijah (Hebrew) ’Ēliyyāh Hebrew prophet (9th century BC) who struggled against the worship of the Phoenician Baal (1 Kings 17 - 2 Kings 2:15). Blavatsky states that the Hebrew root of the name is equivalent to buddhi, and is so used in the Gospel of John and the Pistis Sophia (BCW 9:492-3, 13:13). See also CARMEL, MOUNT
Elicius (Latin) [from elicio to draw down, entice out] Meteorological title of Jupiter, referring to his manifestation as lightning, by which means he can be drawn down to earth.
’Eli, ’eli, lamah shabahtani. See CRY FROM THE CROSS
Elion. See EL ELION
Elivagar (Icelandic) [from eli ice + vagar waves] In Norse mythology the “waves of ice” (glaciers) which flow from the fountain Hvergelmir into all the worlds and which provide the life forms for the embodiment of all beings. In the cosmogony of the Eddas, it was from elivagar, the glacier or unmoving waters of nonbeing, that the frost giant Ymir was formed: the void of non-existence in which there was “no soil, no sea, no waves” (cf Voluspa in the elder Edda).
Into the elivagar massed in Ginnungagap (formless or sacred void) fell showers of sparks from Muspellsheim (home of fire), the energic counterpart of Niflheim (home of clouds, nebulae), creating a vapor — Ymir, the frost giant from which the gods created worlds. Ymir is then said to have given rise to the race of rime-thurses — matter giants, for “all their kin is ever evil.”
Elixir [from Arabic al iksir possibly from Greek xeros dry] An alchemical agent, the so-called power of transmutation, also the elixir of life and the universal solvent. The alchemists knew that the gross compound elements must spring from a single element, at once life and matter, not subject to decay — for the homogeneous cannot disintegrate. This was their elixir, able to extract pure gold from alloys, to dissolve all substances, and to revivify and perpetuate the life of mortal being: “he who would allopropise sluggish oxygen into ozone to a measure of alchemical activity, reducing it to its pure essence (for which there are means), would discover thereby a substitute for an ‘elixir of life’ and prepare it for practical use” (SD 1:144n).
In theosophical philosophy, the general or essential elixir is attained by the student-adept when he fills his whole being with the spiritual flow of substance and energy from the immortal center within himself. It is precisely this flow of the spirit which is the true elixir of immortality and the basis of all the marvelous powers within the person thus regenerated which enables him to transmute the base into the fine, evil into good, and to obtain self-conscious perpetuity during the manvantara. See also HETEROGENEITY AND HOMOGENEITY; PRIMEVAL MATTER
Elmes-Fire. See HERMES FIRE
Eloaeos (Gnostic) The spiritual genius of the planet Jupiter; one of the seven stellar or planetary spirits of the Egyptian and other Gnostics, who together form the second or inferior hebdomad. See also ASTAPHAI
’Eloah (Hebrew) ’Elōah Goddess — although because of masculine anthropomorphic predisposition, it has been commonly rendered god by European translators; used as a title of eminence both for the Jewish Jehovah and the deities, especially the goddesses, of other nations.
’Elohim is the masculine plural form; in Talmudic literature, however, the plural is frequently given as ’elohoth, oth being the feminine plural ending. The word is pointed ’eloha in the Zohar in its connection as a divinity of feminine potency with the fifth Sephirah, Geburah.
Eloai. See ELOAEOS
Elohim (Hebrew) ’Elohīm [from ’elōah goddess + īm masculine plural ending] The monotheistic proclivities, not only of the Jews but of Christian translators, have led to this word always being translated as God; yet the word itself is a plural form, nor is it in any sense necessarily a plural of majesty, as suggested by some monotheistic scholars. A correct rendering should denote both masculine and feminine characteristics, such as androgyne divinities.
In spite of the ideas imbodied in the word itself, the later development of Judaism caused ’elohim to be almost entirely translated in paraphrase as the “one true God”; but in earlier times ’elohim (or rather benei ’elohim or benei ’elim — sons of gods, members of the classes of divine beings) meant spiritual beings or cosmic spirits of differing hierarchical grades: a collective class of cosmic spirits among whom is found the familiar Jewish Yahweh or Jehovah. Thus, strictly speaking and as viewed in the original Qabbalah, the ’elohim meant the angelic hierarchies of many varying grades of spirituality or ethereality; and in cosmogonic or astrological matters, the ’elohim were often mentally aggregated under the generalized term tseba’oth [fem pl from the verbal root tsaba’ a host, an army] as in the expression “host of heaven.”
In the Jewish Qabbalah the ’elohim, however, are the sixth hierarchical group in derivation from the first or Crown, Kether: cosmogonically they represent the manifested formers or weavers of the cosmos. In this Qabbalistic system, Jehovah was the third angelic potency (counting from the first, Kether). Blavatsky calls all these hierarchicies symbols “emblematic, mutually and correlatively, of Spirit, Soul and Body (man); of the circle transformed into Spirit, the Soul of the World, and its body (or Earth). Stepping out of the Circle of Infinity, that no man comprehendeth, Ain-Soph (the Kabalistic synonym for Parabrahm, for the Zeroana Akerne, of the Mazdeans, or for any other ‘Unknowable’) becomes ‘One’ — the Echos, the Eka, the Ahu — then he (or it) is transformed by evolution into the One in many, the Dhyani-Buddhas or the Elohim, or again the Amshaspends, his third Step being taken into generation of the flesh, or ‘Man.’ And from man, or Jah-Hova, ‘male female,’ the inner divine entity becomes, on the metaphysical planes, once more the Elohim” (SD 1:113).
The opening words of the Bible refer directly to the activities of the ’elohim, for this is the sole divine name mentioned in Genesis 1:1-2. De Purucker translates these verses from the original Hebrew as: “In a host (or multitude), the gods (Elohim) formed themselves into the heavens and the earth. And the earth became ethereal. And darkness upon the face of the ethers. And the ruah (the spirit-soul) of the gods (of Elohim) fluttered or hovered, brooding” (cf Fund 99-100). He goes on to say that “we see that the Elohim evolved man, humanity, out of themselves, and told them to become, then to enter into and inform these other creatures. Indeed, these sons of the Elohim are, in our teachings, the children of light, the sons of light, which are we ourselves, and yet different from ourselves, because higher, yet they are our own very selves inwardly. In fact, the Elohim, became, evolved into, their own offspring, remaining in a sense still always the inspiring light within, or rather above . . . the Elohim projected themselves into the nascent forms of the then ‘humanity,’ which thenceforward were ‘men,’ however imperfect their development still was” (Fund 101-2).
The ’elohim, then, correspond to both classes of the pitris mentioned in theosophical literature: the higher or more spiritual-intellectual of the ’elohim are the agnishvatta-pitris, and the lower groups are the barhishad-pitris. As the agnishvatta-pitris are devoid of the astral-vital-physical productive fire because they are too high and distinctly intellectual, they leave the work of production to the lower ’elohim or barhishads, who “being the lunar spirits more closely connected with Earth, became the creative Elohim of form, or the Adam of dust” (SD 2:78).
Eloi, Eloai. See ELOAEOS
Elon or Elion (Phoenician) A name of the sun, recognized as one of the highest active deities or cosmic energies by the Phoenicians; rendered in Greek as ’Elioun. The Hebrew form of this word is found in the Bible in the phrase ’El ‘elyon, “the God or Divinity on high.”
El Shaddai. See SHADDAI
Elu (Chaldean) A Chaldean god, variant of ’El (deity, divinity), frequently used by the Hebrews as equivalent to God. The original Semitic meaning embraces the idea of surpassing might, immense power, and unlimited strength.
Elysian Fields, Elysium (Greek) Originally in Greek mythology, beautiful meadows or plains, or islands of the blest, located in the far west by the banks of Ocean. There certain heroes of the fourth race who never experienced death were said to dwell in perfect happiness ruled by Rhadamanthus. The titans after being reconciled with Zeus also lived there under the rule of Kronos. Pindar holds that all who have passed blamelessly through life three times live there in bliss. Later, Elysium was located in the underworld as the abode of those whom the judges of the dead found worthy. The river Lethe (forgetfulness) flowed by the Elysian Fields. See also AANROO; DEVACHAN; HADES
BCW - H. P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings
BG - Bhagavad-Gita
BP - Bhagavata Purana
cf - confer
ChU - Chandogya Upanishad
Dial, Dialogues - The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, ed. A. L. Conger
Echoes - Echoes of the Orient, by William Q. Judge (comp. Dara Eklund)
ET - The Esoteric Tradition, by G. de Purucker
FSO - Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker
Fund - Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
IU - Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky
MB - Mahabharata
MIE - Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker
ML - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. Trevor Barker
MU - Mundaka Upanishad
N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row
OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker
Rev - Revelations
RV - Rig Veda
SBE - Sacred Books of the East, ed. Max Müller
SD - The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky
SOPh - Studies in Occult Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
TBL - Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (Secret Doctrine Commentary), by H. P. Blavatsky
TG - Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky
Theos - The Theosophist (magazine)
VP - Vishnu Purana
VS - The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky
WG - Working Glossary, by William Q. Judge
ZA - Zend-Avesta