The Path – February 1887


And the Relationship between them and Human Beings


There are several designations for "angels" in the Bible, which clearly show that beings like the elementals of the Kabbala and the monads of Leibnitz, must be understood by that term rather than that which is commonly understood. They are called "morning stars," (Job 38, 7); "flaming fires," (Ps. 104, 4); "the mighty ones," (Ps. 103, 20) and St. Paul sees them in his cosmogonic vision (I Col. 1,16) as "principalities and powers." Such names as these preclude the idea of personality, and we find ourselves compelled to think of them as impersonal existences, in the same way as we conceive the angel that troubled the waters of the pool of Bethesda as an influence, a spiritual substance or conscious force.

I stated above that the Kabbala taught that all events in Nature and History were under the immediate superintendence of spirits, elementals and elementary. It was in harmony with such teachings, that the translators of the Septuagint translated Deuteronomy 32, 8-9, thus: "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, he set the bounds of the Heathen according to the number of the spirits, but He Himself took His abode in Israel."

According to this translation, which differs radically (1) from the orthodox, spirits i.e. Elementals and Elementary Spirits, are the rulers, the principalities and powers among the heathen, i.e. all people outside of Israel. Whatever we may think of the exclusiveness of this passage, and the work given the "chosen people" to perform, we can verify this passage historically.

All people of the earth — so far as we know their religious and philosophical ideas — have drawn their spiritual life from sources very different from those whence the leaders of Israel derived their inspiration. I say the leaders of Israel, for the Israelites as a people, never comprehended the mission imposed upon them, they constantly fell back into what has been called the "idolatry" of the nations around. The people, as a people, were true to their natural instincts, which led them to follow the guiding influence of natural ideas, (i.e. Elementals and Elementary Spirits).

I need not tell you that the Ideas now spoken of are not merely Conceptions, such as we, according to common usage, are wont to believe. Ideas to the antique world, were exactly the same thing as Leibnitz called monads, and the Kabbala Elements and Elementary Spirits. Plato, for instance, attributes to ideas an independent, singular existence and hypostative power. He calls them Gods (in the Timeaus), and asserts that movement, life, animation, and reason belong to them, (in the Sophistes).

The nations of the earth, all those not belonging to the chosen few, have indeed been — for good and for evil — guided by the Spirits, now called Elementals, now Ideas and now Gods. Therefore, if any one will study the history of mankind, he must begin with a knowledge of these occult powers. If any one will guide mankind's history, he must follow the laws of these occult forces.

If we recognize the translation of the Septuagint as given above, and find ourselves outside the pale of the chosen people, whose work is in "the plan of salvation," we know where to look for the intermediate powers between ourselves and the Deity, we know that they are the Elementals, the powers of Nature, the silent, but invincible giants of the Elements.

The importance to Theosophists of the modern school of clear conceptions on these points are evident. I need not point out to you why and wherefore.

In the Zohar it is stated that, "when spirits come down, they clothe themselves with air or wrap themselves in Elements." It is also stated that, "some spirits have a natural affinity for the air-(elements), others for fire-(elements), and when they come down to the earth, they envelop themselves either in air-(elements) or fire-(elements), according to their nature."

These statements, which can easily be supplemented with many more like them, are of the greatest importance, when the question is of spirit manifestations, for it becomes a matter of grave consequence by what kind of monads we are surrounded.

But, before speaking of the atmosphere of monads that surround us, I must define the auras or emanations that proceed from all objects in nature.

As an aromatic scent emanates from a flower, so all other bodies emit either colors or rays of "imponderable" matter. Copper and Arsenic send out auras of red matter; Lead and Sulphur emit a blue colored substance; Gold, Silver Antimony green, etc. In short, Science teaches that all matter is luminous, i.e. shines by its own light.

Human beings, be they spiritual-minded or not, are also surrounded by their spheres. We all know this. We have all felt these sphere influences, and some of you have perhaps seen them. It is said that persons of a high and spiritual character have beautiful auras of white and blue, gold and green, in various tints; while low natures emit principally dark red emanations, which in brutal and vulgar persons darken almost to black.

The impulse or motive power, the cause, if you choose, of these emanations is the soul of man, of course. According to the condition of the soul, these emanations are more or less powerful, more or less extensive, more or less clear. The stuff they are made of, what is it? It is of course physical, though they may not be measured and weighed by any scientific instrument known at this day.

These emanations are soul-rays and they become reflected upon those small monadic bodies already described. I cannot prove this to you experimentally, but I can see these reflections as clearly as a physical experiment can demonstrate to you the light-reflection of the sun's rays upon a raindrop.

Swedenborg claimed to have smelled the inner nature of certain spirits he met with in the spiritual world, and to have determined their moral value by these rays. In his work "Heaven and Hell," he has recorded several such experiences. It is an innate power of the soul, that enables it to throw off these rays and it does it by necessity, for without going beyond itself, to express itself, the soul would never realize itself.

The soul can, however, also be trained to emit these rays or auras, consciously.

If we will believe the famous Norse traveller and explorer of Spirit-land, already referred to, Em. Swedenborg, we may learn from his Arcana Celestia, that "the particular quality of a spirit is perceived immediately on his entrance into the other life, from his sphere" that "sphere is the image of the spirit extended beyond him;" "indeed, it is the image of all that is in him." The cause of the spheres around spirits, the same author states to be from "the activity of things in the interior memory," from "the ruling love."

Swedenborg further states, that "by the sphere which exhales from the spirit of man, even while he lives in the body, every deed, however secret, becomes manifest in clear light," and that good or evil spirits recognize him by his sphere; and that good spirits can not be present with those who are in worldly and corporeal loves, however pious exteriorly, because they instantly perceive their sphere of evil as something filthy; and, on the other hand, that good spirits readily associate with those surrounded by pure and heavenly spheres. But it is not necessary to have recourse to the seers and those spiritually illuminated, most of us have some knowledge of these facts from daily life. Who has not perceived the low and filthy sphere that surrounds the sensual, or the intolerable atmosphere of a proud and haughty spirit, or been depressed in the surroundings of a melancholy and passionate man or woman? Indeed, we all have perceptions as to these things; some stronger, some less developed.

It is, as I said, the very life of the soul to diffuse itself through all its surroundings. Without such an activity it would not be soul. An inactive, an inert soul has no existence.

Next, the soul, while thus actualizing itself, takes its material from the monads, just described, and moulds them into such shapes and forms as are requisite for its own life and the influence it endeavors to exert. The Soul has the power to mould and shape them into any possible condition. (More about this later on.) This faculty is its image-making power or the form-making power of the soul.

In order to understand this image-making power, let it first be remembered, that it is an axiom in all mystical and spiritual philosophy, that the spiritual degree in man (Atman) contains in its unity with the Universal soul, the patterns of all things and that these are reflected through the soul (Buddhi and Manas).

This being so, the soul (Buddhi and Manas) to understand the principle of creation has only to descend to its own deep, the spirit (Atman), there to find it reflected. Having found and realized the idea of creation, the soul may take material from the ethereal world, called by the Orientals Akasa, and out of it build any form — image, I call it — it likes.

Unless the soul gives such form and shape to the ideas and life, that dwells in its own inner deep, these will remain uncreated and the soul uneducated by not approving of its opportunities.

This is what I call the image-making power of the soul. Upon it depends all Kardialogy or the science of the heart, and all Rationality. Upon it depends our attainment of psychic powers.

It is not only an innate and natural tendency of the soul (Manas) to go beyond its body to find material with which to clothe the life that it wants to give expression to. The soul (Manas) can and must be trained to do this consciously.

You can easily see that this power possessed consciously will give its possessor the power to work magic.

And this leads me directly to the subject of the use of aromas, odors, etc., wherewith to create a suitable atmosphere around us; an atmosphere congenial to the nature of spirits.

You all remember the splendid scene in Bulwer's Zanoni where Glyndon meets the Dweller of the Threshold. In that scene is described all the mystery of aromatic vapors, their effect upon the human mind, and the assistance they offer to spirit manifestations.

In short, it is of the greatest importance that we produce the right environment by the right kind of emanations or auras, and atmospheres: "As we give, so we shall receive!"

It would require a volume to relate the religious, political, economic, and gallant history of odors and perfumes. I shall mention a few instances only.

From the highest antiquity we find that priests have employed odoriferous substances. The worshippers of light, the Zoroastrians, laid perfumes five times a day upon the sacred flame, that symbolized light and life. The Greeks were very profuse in the use of ambrosia, and believed that the gods always appeared in fragrant clouds. You all know the importance of smoke and perfumes in the rituals used at the Mysteries and around the sacred tripod on which rested the prophetesses at Delphi. The Romans almost carried the use of incense and odoriferous substances too far. From the classic people the custom was borrowed by the Christian Church. There was even a time, when the Romish Church owned large estates in the East, devoted exclusively to the cultivation of balms and essences to be used in the rites of worship.

But it was not only in religious practices that these delicate media were used to facilitate the descent of spiritual beings. All through the Orient, even to this day, they are employed in the private life for the same purpose; not for mere luxury, as some people will have us believe. It was very appropriate indeed, that the Greeks should burn aromatic substances during their banquets, and who can estimate the soothing influence upon the wild and warlike Romans of their beautiful custom of perfuming their baths, their sleeping rooms and beds, and their drinks. It is not at all likely that the Romans should have been ignorant of the high spiritual significance of these practices. Why should they before battle anoint the Roman eagles with the richest perfumes, if they did not think it pleasing to the god of war and his followers, if they did not thereby expect to prepare a suitable atmosphere for their descent.

I pass by the modern use of these things. Among the many abuses with which we are familiar, the strong human instinct asserts itself everywhere. We expect, for instance, that Youth and Beauty shall be surrounded by a sphere, sweet-smelling and elevating; and our instincts are true in this, for there is a close parallel between purity and aromatic odors.

It is a truth well understood that Spirit does not act immediately upon Matter. There always is a medium between them. It seems rational that it should be so. Spirit and Matter being the two poles of one and the same substance need the intermediate middle as a point of conjunction and exchange of energy.

Applying this general law to the particulars before us, it seems most natural to conclude that the Elementals are the media by means of which all our spiritual efforts are exerted upon Nature, and that nothing can be done without their intervention.

But the question also arises: how do we make the Elementals perform this work for us? By what means do we influence them?

Occult Science teaches that "the pure of heart," those that, having travelled over "the Path," have come to "freedom," can, by a mere mental effort or by stretching out the hand, "do these things."

In view of this teaching, I shall state a few facts relative to the power of the Mind and the Hand.

(1) The Word spoken consists of the thought or idea we want to convey to the person spoken to, and (2) this thought clothed in a form, a kind of vessel, by means of which we send the thought flying through space These two elements are the main factors of the Word.

Let us now look a little closer upon each of these two factors.

When an animal in distress calls for another, we, human beings, understand that it throws its desire or animal life into the sounds which proceed from that throat, and the other animal answers instinctively, we say quite correctly, for we do not think that the animals reason about their doings.

This kind of "language," if it can be so called, is not much different from the language of mankind at large. All language as used in ordinary daily life is but slightly higher in character, but not different in degree.

Languagethe Wordis spoken when an Idea or Spiritual Life is communicated. In the true sense, we only speak or pronounce the Word when the Highest finds a channel into the actual world by means of our vocal organs.

That is the Word! Now, about its Form. Whence comes its material? For form is something substantial. It is not enough that an architect has a design to a building in his mind, he needs actual material with which to erect the house if it is to be realized on the actual side of existence. As surely as he procures stones and wood, etc., so do we also need material substances with which to construct our mental edifices. From what world do we draw these substances? From the astral or ethereal molecules! From the Monads!

By a pre-established harmony, the suitable monads glomerate around the heavenly idea that proceeds to reveal itself upon our tongue when we speak the Word. Thus the thought gets its Form.

Thus far I have spoken of the thought or idea descending to utter itself upon our tongue, we being the mere tools of the idea. And such is almost always the case. We neither originate thought nor its form. Thought or Spirit speaks through us as the passive agents. Yet we all know how we boast of our oracles, of our prophets and our seers, even because they act as passive agents.

But there is a language still higher. It is possible for man to originate thought and to control the form to such thought. The adepts know this secret and they have arrived at that power by getting beyond the "ordinary" laws of life. They are not mere channels for the flux and reflux of thought; they originate and control thought.

Heaven's first law is order. As we know some of the laws according to which we formulate speech in a logical way, so that other sphere outside (or inside, if you like), which is full of the germs of life, has its laws. Hence the adepts, too, follow certain rules or laws, when they want to originate or control thought and its form. Vulgarly, the laws or methods are called spells or incantations.

Before we consciously can work spells or control spirits and their energies, we must arrive at the state of the adept, where he is beyond the laws that govern, so to say, the surface of things. But we cannot come there on any highroads nor by any short cuts. We must travel the road of self-denial and that of illusion.

As it is possible to enter into the sanctuary of a temple by sheer brutal force, so it is possible to get into possession of formulas and spells which work wonders, though we be neither pure of mind nor strong of heart.

Would formulas and spells under such conditions he useful to us? They may! They may not! They may also work our destruction. We have been taught that they are more dangerous to us than a naked sword in the hands of a child. The child may accidentally do some useful work with its sharp instrument, but it may also destroy itself.

From this we should learn that the true course to pursue in regard to the performing of wonders by means of Elementals or Elementary Spirits is to first to attain to the state of an adept: to learn to control life and thought.

If we should happen to come in possession of spells or incantations without knowing the proper use of them — better not use them!

But how do we attain to that state just described?

I can not define the way nor teach anybody how to do so, but I think that the way must be very much like that travelled by the Lord Buddha and now followed by "the Adepts."

But, as it is not our immediate duty to prepare for the performance of miracles, we have been warned to abstain from such vain pursuits.

Far better is it for us to follow the directions given for moral life:

"Try to get as near to wisdom and goodness as you can in this life. Trouble not yourself about the gods. Disturb yourself not by curiosities or desires about any future existence. Seek only after the fruit of the noble path of self-culture and of self-control." These are words from Buddhist Scriptures.

It is not only by mind that we may control the Elementals and the Elementary spirits. The hand forms a most important element among the tools used in occult science.

I shall not define the science of chiromancy, but describe the magnetic points of the fingers.

Have you given any thought and attention to the hand? Generally we consider the head of a man and put our estimate upon him according to the size of his brain. But we neglect the hand. And yet the hand is as important a factor in the execution of spiritual acts as is the brain.

The hand is the executive organ of the dynamico-mysterious actions of the Spirit of man. Through the hand its psychico-somatic operations take place, through it its whole spiritual-psychical energy flows out, when laid upon the sick, for instance.

It may be readily enough understood that the spiritual activity of the spirit of man ultimates itself in acts, and that almost all of these are executed by the hand, but it is probably but little known that in healing, for instance, there is a peculiar physical basis in the hand, upon which the healing power is dependent, the Pacinian corpuscles, namely.

It is now many years ago (it was in 1830 and 1840) that Pacini, a physician of Pistola, made his discovery; but with the exception of the literature to which it gave rise, and which is known only to a few learned men and a few librarians of larger libraries, little or nothing is known of his discovery.

Pacini found in all the sensible nerves of the fingers many small elliptical, whitish corpuscles. He compared them to the electrical organs of the torpedo and described them as animal magneto-motors, as organs of animal magnetism. And so did Henle and Kolliker, two German anatomists, who have studied and described these corpuscles very minutely.

In the human body they are found in great numbers in connection with the nerves of the hand, also in those of the foot. Why should they not be in the feet? Let us remember the rhythmical structure of the human body, particularly the feet, and it becomes clear why they are there; the ecstatic dances of the enthusiasts and the not-sinking of somnambulists in water or their ability to use the soles of their feet as organs of perception and the ancient art of healing by the soles of the feet — all these facts explain the mystery.

They are found sparingly on the spinal nerves, and on the plexuses of the sympathetic, but never on the nerves of motion.

They are most numerous on the small twigs of nerves and generally placed parallel to them, though often at an acute angle. They are more or less oval, sometimes elongated and bent. They are nearly transparent, with a whitish line traversing their axis. The corpuscles of the human subject are from one-twentieth to one-tenth of an inch in length.

They consist of a series of membranous capsules, from thirty to sixty or more in number, enclosed one within the other. Inside of these capsules there is a single nervous fibre of a tubular kind enclosed in the stalk, and advancing to the central capsule, which it traverses from, end to end. Sometimes the capsules are connected by transverse bands.

Anatomists are interested in these Pacinian corpuscles because of the novel aspect in which they present the constituent parts of the nerve-tube, placed in the heart of a system of concentric membranous capsules with intervening fluid, and divested of that layer which they (the anatomists) regard as an isolator and protector of the more potential central axis within.

This apparatus — almost formed like a voltaic pile, is the instrument for that peculiar vital energy, known more or less to all students as Animal Magnetism.

Since the cat is somewhat famous in all witchcraft, let me state that in the mesentary of the cat, they can be seen in large numbers with the naked eye, as small oval shaped grains a little smaller than hempseeds. A few have been found in the ox (the symbol of the priestly office); but they are wanting in all birds, amphibia and fishes.

Though his discovery was disputed it has since been verified and the theory strongly supported. These organs are the beneficent media through which the Spirit operates.

From time immemorial the human hand has been regarded as the life-point of a mysterious magical power, but not until Pacini's discovery do we know its seat. These corpuscles are its seat. Are they perhaps agglomerations of such monads as I have described and thus the media by means of whom the highest spiritual powers perform their work?

We find the Elementals under all forms of existence, as mere natural forces, totally, to our perceptions, destitute of any self-conscious life; we find them also attaining a form very near the human. There is no valid reason against supposing them to be the stuff out of which we form thoughts, much less against considering them to be the life-giving elements in the Pacinian corpuscles.

Let us maintain the theory that there is no such thing as a dead or inanimate force in the universe. Every atom, itself a form of power, is alive with force. Every atom in space reflects the Universal Self, who is:

     The Soul of Things.

I shall now come to the end of my paper by a few words which contain the practical purpose of my lecture.

(1) The monads, just described, whether they reflect the auras, that surround us consciously or unconsciously, whether they are used as mind-stuff or be located in the Pacinian corpuscles of the hand, are physical media of intercourse between the Elementaries and the adepts.

Why not! If Eastern adepts and Western mediums are in possession of power to atomize "the body," to make it become the smallest of the smallest, to enter into a diamond, for instance, if they have power to magnify "the body" to any dimensions; to change the polarity of the body, to make it become the lightest of the lightest as in the well known phenomena of levitation, why should the Elementaries, existing, as they do, under much more favorable circumstances, not be able to enter into matter, to enter into atoms which "contain a Sun" and there, for the time being direct its vital principle and its universal orbs, to such purposes as they choose, to make it serve the adept's or magician's will, who seeks aid or enlightenment?

(2) I contend that they do! And I argue for the necessity of producing such surroundings of auras of monads as will facilitate and raise the standard of what is commonly called "Mediumship."

(3) I argue for a cultivation of the image-making power of the soul, that we may be able to direct and utilize consciously the intercourse with the Elementaries.

(4) I wish to have a knowledge spread abroad about the Pacinian corpuscles, that we may lay our hands upon mankind and cure its ills.

I feel personally convinced that there is both "Light and Life "to be found upon these lines of study and conduct.


1. The orthodox translation is "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." (return to text)

Theosophical University Press Online Edition