Part IV -- INHABITANTS OF THE ASTRAL PLANE
Mar 31, 2002 10:51 AM
INHABITANTS OF THE ASTRAL PLANE
by H P B (Lucifer, August 1893)
SPIRIT as THE ETERNAL INDIVIDUALITY
This specialization has been in all ages the stumbling-block of
The whole esotericism of the Buddhistic philosophy is based on
this mysterious teaching, understood by so few persons, and so
totally misrepresented by many of the most learned scholars. Even
metaphysicians are too inclined to confound the effect with the
cause. A person may have won his immortal life, and remain the
same inner self he was on earth, throughout eternity; but this
does not imply necessarily that he must either remain the Mr.
Smith or Brown he was on earth, or lose his individuality.
Therefore, the astral soul, i.e., the personality, like the
terrestrial body and the lower portion of the human soul of man,
may, in the dark hereafter, be absorbed into the cosmical ocean
of sublimated elements, and cease to feel its personal
individuality, if it did not deserve to soar higher, and the
divine spirit, or spiritual individuality, still remain an
unchanged entity, though this terrestrial experience of his
emanations may be totally obliterated at the instant of
separation from the unworthy vehicle.
If the "spirit," or the divine portion of the soul, is
preëxistent as a distinct being from all eternity, as Origen,
Synesius, and other Christian fathers and philosophers taught,
and if it is the same, and nothing more than the
metaphysically-objective soul, how can it be otherwise than
eternal? And what matters it in such a case, whether man leads an
animal or a pure life, if, do what he may, he can never lose his
personality? This doctrine is as pernicious in its consequences
as that of vicarious atonement. Had the latter dogma, in company
with the false idea that we are all personally immortal, been
demonstrated to the world in its true light, humanity would have
been bettered by its propagation.
Crime and sin would be avoided, not for fear of earthly
punishment, or of a ridiculous hell, but for the sake of that
which lies the most deeply rooted in our nature--the desire of a
personal and distinct life in the hereafter, the positive
assurance that we cannot win it unless we "take the kingdom of
heaven by violence," and the conviction that neither human
prayers nor the blood of another man will save us from personal
destruction after death, unless we firmly link ourselves during
our terrestrial life with our own immortal spirit--our only
Pythagoras, Plato, Timæus of Locris, and the whole Alexandrian
School derived the soul from the universal World-Soul; and a
portion of the latter was, according to their own
teachings--ether; something of such a fine nature as to be
perceived only by our inner sight. Therefore, it cannot be the
essence of the Monas, or Cause, 29 because the Anima Mundi is
but the effect, the objective emanation of the former.
Both the divine spiritual soul and the human soul are
preëxistent. But, while the former exists as a distinct entity,
an individualization, the soul (the vehicle of the former) exists
only as preëxisting matter, an unscient portion of an intelligent
whole. Both were originally formed from the Eternal Ocean of
Light; but as the Theosophists expressed it, there is a visible
as well as invisible spirit in fire. They made a difference
between the Anima Bruta and the Anima Divina.
Empedocles firmly believed all men and animals to possess two
souls; and in Aristotle we find that he calls one the reasoning
soul, Nous, and the other, the animal soul, Psuche.
According to these philosophers, the reasoning soul comes from
without the Universal Soul (i.e., from a source higher than the
Universal Soul--in its cosmic sense; it is the Universal Spirit,
the seventh principle of the Universe in its totality), and the
other from within.
This divine and superior region, in which they located the
invisible and supreme deity, was considered by them (by Aristotle
himself, who was not an initiate) as a fifth element--whereas it
is the seventh in the Esoteric Philosophy, or
Mûlaprakriti--purely spiritual and divine, whereas the Anima
Mundi proper was considered as composed of a fine, igneous, and
ethereal nature spread throughout the Universe, in short--Ether.
The Stoics, the greatest materialists of ancient days, excepted
the Divine Principle and Divine Soul from any such a corporeal
nature. Their modern commentators and admirers, greedily seizing
the opportunity, built on this ground the supposition that the
Stoics believed in neither God nor soul, the essence of matter.
Most certainly Epicurus did not believe in God or soul as
understood by either ancient or modern theists. But Epicurus,
whose doctrine (militating directly against the agency of a
Supreme Being and Gods, in the formation or government of the
world) placed him far above the Stoics in atheism and
materialism, nevertheless taught that the soul is of a fine,
tender essence formed from the smoothest, roundest, and finest
atoms--which description still brings us to the same sublimated
ether. He further believed in the Gods.
Arnobius, Tertullian, Irenæus, and Origen, notwithstanding their
Christianity, believed, with the more modern Spinoza and Hobbes,
that the soul was corporeal, though of a very fine nature--an
anthropomorphic and personal something, i.e., corporeal, finite
Can it under such conditions become immortal? Can the mutable
become the immutable?
This doctrine of the possibility of losing one's soul and, hence,
individuality, militates with the ideal theories and progressive
ideas of some spiritualists, though Swedenborg fully adopts it.
They will never accept the kabalistic doctrine which teaches that
it is only through observing the law of harmony that individual
life hereafter can be obtained; and that the farther the inner
and outer man deviate from this fount of harmony, whose source
lies in our divine spirit, the more difficult it is to regain the
But while the spiritualists and other adherents of Christianity
have little, if any, perception of this fact of the possible
death and obliteration of the human personality by the separation
of the immortal part from the perishable, some
Swedenborgians--those, at least, who follow the spirit of a
philosophy, not merely the dead letter of a teaching--fully
One of the most respected ministers of the New Church, the Rev.
Chauncey Giles, D.D., of New York, recently elucidated the
subject in a public discourse as follows. Physical death, or the
death of the body, was a provision of the divine economy for the
benefit of man, a provision by means of which he attained the
higher ends of his being. But there is another death which is the
interruption of the divine order and the destruction of every
human element in man's nature, and every possibility of human
happiness. This is the spiritual death which takes place before
the dissolution of the body.
"There may be a vast development of man's natural mind without
that development being accompanied by a particle of the divine
love, or of unselfish love of man."
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
neighbour, 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. To all that
pertains to the higher and the only enduring phase of existence
he is as much dead as his body becomes dead to all the
activities, delights, and sensations of the world when the spirit
has left it.
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 the 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; but, the eloquent
preacher remarks, "these creatures, with all their graces, rich
attire, and brilliant accomplishments, are dead in the eye of the
Lord and the angels, and when measured by the only true and
immutable standard have no more genuine life than skeletons whose
flesh has turned to dust."
Although we do not believe in "the Lord and the angels"--not, at
any rate, in the sense given to these terms by Swedenborg and his
followers, we nevertheless admire these feelings and fully agree
with the reverend gentleman's opinions.
INTELLECTUALITY and SPIRITUALITY
A high development of the intellectual faculties does not imply
spiritual and true life. The presence in one of a highly
developed human, intellectual soul (the fifth principle, or
Manas), is quite compatible with the absence of Buddhi, or the
spiritual soul. Unless the former evolves from and develops under
the beneficent and vivifying rays of the latter, it will remain
for ever but a direct progeny of the terrestrial, lower
principles, sterile in spiritual perceptions; a magnificent,
luxurious sepulchre, full of the dry bones of decaying matter
within. Many of our greatest scientists are but animate
corpses--they have no spiritual sight because their spirits have
left them, or, rather, cannot reach them. So we might go through
all ages, examine all occupations, weigh all human attainments,
and investigate all forms of society, and we would find these
spiritually dead everywhere.
Although Aristotle himself, anticipating the modern
physiologists, regarded the human mind as a material substance,
and ridiculed the hylozoïsts, nevertheless he fully believed in
the existence of a "double" soul, or soul plus spirit, as one can
see in his De Generat. et Corrupt. (Lib. ii.). He laughed at
Strabo for believing that any particles of matter, per se, could
have life and intellect in themselves sufficient to fashion by
degrees such a multiform world as ours. 31
Aristotle is indebted for the sublime morality of his
Nichomachean Ethics to a thorough study of the Pythagorean
Ethical Fragments; for the latter can be easily shown to have
been the source at which he gathered his ideas, though he might
not have sworn "by him who the Tetraktys found." 32
But indeed our men of science know nothing certain about
Aristotle. His philosophy is so abstruse that he constantly
leaves his reader to supply by the imagination the missing links
of his logical deductions. Moreover, we know that before his
works ever reached our scholars, who delight in his seemingly
atheistical arguments in support of his doctrine of fate, they
passed through too many hands to have remained immaculate.
>From Theophrastus, his legator, they passed to Neleus, whose
heirs kept them mouldering in subterranean caves for nearly 150
years; after which, we learn that his manuscripts were copied and
much augmented by Appelicon of Theos, who supplied such
paragraphs as had become illegible, by conjectures of his own,
probably many of these drawn from the depths of his inner
consciousness. Our scholars of the nineteenth as anxious to
imitate him practically as they are to throw his inductive method
and materialistic theories at the heads of the Platonists. We
invite them to collect facts as carefully as he did, instead of
denying those they know nothing about.
EXPERIENCE AND ASTRAL "SPIRITS"
What we have said here and elsewhere of the variety of "spirits"
and other invisible beings evolved in the astral light, and what
we now mean to say of mediums and the tendency of their
mediumship, is not based upon conjecture, but upon actual
experience and observation.
H P B THE GREAT TRAVELER
There is scarcely one phase of mediumship, of either kind, that
we have not seen exemplified during the past thirty-five years,
in various countries. India, Tibet, Borneo, Siam, Egypt, Asia
Minor, America (North and South), and other parts of the world,
have each displayed to us its peculiar phase of mediumistic
phenomena and magical power. Our varied experience has fully
corroborated the teachings of our Masters and of The Secret
Doctrine, and has taught us two important truths, viz., that for
the exercise of "mediumship" personal purity and the exercise of
a trained and indomitable will-power are indispensable; and that
spiritualists can never assure themselves of the genuineness of
mediumistic manifestations unless they occur in the light and
under such reasonable test conditions as would make an attempted
fraud instantly noticed.
DISEMBODIED HUMAN SPIRITS CAN MANIFEST
For fear of being misunderstood, we would remark that while, as a
rule, physical phenomena are produced by the nature-spirits, of
their own motion and under the impulse of the elementaries, still
genuine disembodied human spirits, may, under exceptional
circumstances--such as the aspiration of a pure, loving heart, or
under the influence of some intense thought or unsatisfied
desire, at the moment of death--manifest their presence, either
in dream, or vision, or even bring about their objective
appearance--if very soon after physical death.
Direct writing may be produced in the genuine handwriting of the
"spirit," the medium being influenced by a process unknown as
much to himself as to the modern spiritualists, we fear.
But what we maintain and shall maintain to the last is, that no
genuine human spirit can materialize, i.e., clothe his monad with
an objective form.
Even for the rest it must be a mighty attraction indeed to draw a
pure, disembodied spirit from its radiant, Devachanic state--its
home--into the foul atmosphere from which it escaped upon leaving
its earthly body.
When the possible nature of the manifesting intelligences, which
science believes to be a "psychic force," and spiritualists the
identical "spirits of the dead," is better known, then will
academicians and believers turn to the old philosophers for
information. They may in their indomitable pride, that becomes so
often stubbornness and arrogance, do as Dr. Charcot, of the
Salpêtrière of Paris, has done: deny for years the existence of
Mesmerism and its phenomena, to accept and finally preach it in
public lectures--only under the assumed name, Hypnotism.
We have found in spiritualistic journals many instances where
apparitions of departed pet dogs and other animals have been
seen. Therefore, upon spiritualistic testimony, we must think
that such animal "spirits" do appear although we reserve the
right of concurring with the ancients that the forms are but
tricks of the elementals. Notwithstanding every proof and
probability the spiritualists will, nevertheless, maintain that
it is the "spirits" of the departed human beings that are at work
even in the "materialization" of animals. We will now examine
with their permission the pro and con of the mooted question.
APE AND ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE
Let us for a moment imagine an intelligent orang-outang or some
African anthropoid ape disembodied, i.e., deprived of its
physical and in possession of an astral, if not an immortal body.
Once open the door of communication between the terrestrial and
the spiritual world, what prevents the ape from producing
physical phenomena such as he sees human spirits produce? And why
may not these excel in cleverness and ingenuity many of those
which have been witnessed in spiritualistic circles? Let
spiritualists answer. The orang-outang of Borneo is little, if
any, inferior to the savage man in intelligence. Mr. Wallace and
other great naturalists give instances of its wonderful
acuteness, although its brains are inferior in cubic capacity to
the most undeveloped of savages. These apes lack but speech to be
men of low grade. The sentinels placed by monkeys; the sleeping
chambers selected and built by orang-outangs; their prevision of
danger and calculations, which show more than instinct; their
choice of leaders whom they obey; and the exercise of many of
their faculties, certainly entitle them to a place at least on a
level with many a flat-headed Australian. Says Mr. Wallace, "The
mental requirements of savages, and the faculties actually
exercised by them, are very little above those of the animals."
Now, people assume that there can be no apes in the other world,
because apes have no "souls." But apes have as much intelligence,
it appears, as some men; why, then, should these men, in no way
superior to the apes, have immortal spirits, and the apes none?
The materialists will answer that neither the one nor the other
has a spirit, but that annihilation overtakes each at physical
But the spiritual philosophers of all times have agreed that man
occupies a step one degree higher than the animal, and is
possessed of that something which it lacks, be he the most
untutored of savages or the wisest of philosophers.
The ancients, as we have seen, taught that while man is a
septenary trinity of body, astral spirit, and immortal soul, the
animal is but a duality--i.e., having but five instead of seven
principles in him, a being having a physical body with its astral
body and life-principle, and its animal soul and vehicle
animating it. Scientists can distinguish no difference in the
elements composing the bodies of men and brutes; and the
Kabalists agree with them so far as to say that the astral bodies
(or, as the physicists would call it, the "life-principle") of
animals and men are identical in essence.
Physical man is but the highest development of animal life. If,
as the scientists tell us, even thought is matter, and every
sensation of pain or pleasure, every transient desire is
accompanied by a disturbance of ether; and those bold
speculators, the authors of the Unseen Universe believe that
thought is conceived "to affect the matter of another universe
simultaneously with this"; why, then, should not the gross,
brutish thought of an orang-outang, or a dog, impressing itself
on the ethereal waves of the astral light, as well as that of
man, assure the animal a continuity of life after death, or a
The Kabalists held, and now hold, that it is unphilosophical to
admit that the astral body of man can survive corporeal death,
and at the same time assert that the astral body of the ape is
resolved into independent molecules. That which survives as an
individuality after the death of the body is the astral soul,
which Plato, in the Timæus and Gorgias, calls the mortal soul,
for, according to the Hermetic doctrine, it throws off its more
material particles at every progressive change into a higher
Let us advance another step in our argument. If there is such a
thing as existence in the spiritual world after corporeal death,
then it must occur in accordance with the law of evolution. It
takes man from his place at the apex of the pyramid of matter,
and lifts him into a sphere of existence where the same
inexorable law follows him. And if it follows him, why not
everything else in nature? Why not animals and plants, which have
all a life-principle, and whose gross forms decay like his, when
that life-principle leaves them? If his astral body becomes more
ethereal upon attaining the other sphere, why not theirs? *
---- H P B unpublished incomplete MSS ----------
LUCIFER, August, 1893 (Published posthumously)
1 Bulwer-Lytton, Zanoni.
2 Plutarch, De Isid., ch. xxv, p. 360.
3 De Natura Deorum, lib. i. Cap. xviii.
4 Let the student consult The Secret Doctrine on this matter,
and he will there find full explanations.
5 In order to create a blind, or throw a veil upon the mystery
of primordial evolution, the later Brâhmans, with a view also to
serve orthodoxy, explained the two, by an invented fable; the
first Pitris were "sons of God" and offended Brahmâ by refusing
to sacrifice to him, for which crime, the Creator cursed them to
become fools, a curse they could escape only by accepting their
own sons as instructors and addressing them as their
Fathers--Pitris. This is the exoteric version.
6 We find an echo of this in the Codex Nazaræus. Bahak-Zivo, the
"father of Genii" (the seven) is ordered to construct creatures.
But, as he is "ignorant of Orcus" and unacquainted with "the
consuming fire which is wanting in light," he fails to do so and
calls in Fetahil, a still purer spirit, to his aid, who fails
still worse and sits in the mud (Ilus, Chaos, Matter) and wonders
why the living fire is so changed. It is only when the "Spirit"
(Soul) steps on the stage of creation (the feminine Anima Mundi
of the Nazarenes and Gnostics) and awakens Karabtanos--the spirit
of matter and concupiscence--who consents to help his mother,
that the "Spiritus" conceives and bring forth "Seven Figures,"
and again "Seven" and once more "Seven" (the Seven Virtues, Seven
Sins and Seven Worlds). Then Fetahil dips his hand in the Chaos
and creates our planet. (See Isis Unveiled, vol. i. 298-300 et
7 Idra Suta, Zohar, iii. 292b.
8 Of late, some narrow-minded critics--unable to understand the
high philosophy of the above doctrine, the Esoteric meaning of
which reveals when solved the widest horizons in astro-physical
as well as in psychological sciences--chuckled over and
pooh-poohed the idea of the eighth sphere, that could discover to
their minds, befogged with old and mouldy dogmas of an
unscientific faith, nothing better than our "moon in the shape of
a dust-bin to collect the sins of men!"
9 Persons who believe in clairvoyant power, but are disposed to
discredit the existing of any other spirits in nature than
disembodied human spirits, will be interested in an account of
certain clairvoyant observations which appeared in the London
Spiritualist of June 29th, 1877. A thunderstorm approaching, the
seeress saw "a bright spirit emerge from a dark cloud and pass
with lightning speed across the sky, and, a few minutes after, a
diagonal line of dark spirits in the clouds." These are the
Maruts of the Vedas.
The well-known lecturer, author, and clairvoyant, Mrs. Emma
Hardinge Britten, has published accounts of her frequent
experiences with these elemental spirits. If Spiritualists will
accept her "spiritual" experience they can hardly reject her
evidence in favour of the occult theories.
10 Correlation of Vital with Chemical and Physical Forces, by J.
11 Archives des Sciences, xiv. 345, December, 1872.
12 Mr. Cromwell F. Varley, the well-known electrician of the
Atlantic Cable Company, communicates the result of his
observations, in the course of a debate at the Psychological
Society of Great Britain, which is reported in the Spiritualist
(London, April 14th, 1876, pp. l74, 175). He thought that the
effect of free nitric acid in the atmosphere was able to drive
away what he calls "unpleasant spirits." He thought that those
who were troubled by unpleasant spirits at home, would find
relief by pouring one ounce of vitriol upon two ounces of
finely-powdered nitre in a saucer and putting the mixture under
the bed. Here is a scientist, whose reputation extends over two
continents, who gives a recipe to drive away bad spirits! And yet
the general public mocks at as a "superstition" the herbs and
incenses employed by Hindus, Chinese, Africans, and other races
to accomplish the self-same purpose!
13 "Of Sacrifices to Gods and Daimons," chap. ii.
14 Odyssey, vii.
15 Porphyry, "Of Sacrifices to Gods and Daimons," chap. ii.
17 Iamblichus, De Mysteriis Egyptorum.
18 Ibid., "On the Difference between the Daimons, the Souls,"
19 We give the spelling and words of this Kabalist, who lived
and published his works in the seventeenth century. Generally he
is considered as one of the most famous alchemists among the
20 The most positive of materialistic philosophers agree that all
that exists was evolved from ether; hence, air, water, earth, and
fire, the four primordial elements must also proceed from ether
and chaos the first duad; all the imponderables, whether now
known or unknown, proceed from the same source. Now, if there is
a spiritual essence in matter, and that essence forces it to
shape itself into millions of individual forms, why is it
illogical to assert that each of these spiritual kingdoms in
nature is peopled with beings evolved out of its own material?
Chemistry teaches us that in man's body there are air, water,
earth, and heat, or fire--air is present in its components; water
in the secretions; earth in the inorganic constituents; and fire
in the animal heat. The Kabalist knows by experience that an
elemental spirit contains only one of these, and that each one of
the four kingdoms has its own peculiar elemental spirits; man
being higher than they, the law of evolution finds its
illustration in the combination of all four in him.
21 Virgil, Georgica. book ii.
22 Porphyry and other philosophers explain the nature of the
dwellers They are mischievous and deceitful, though some of them
are perfectly gentle and harmless, but so weak as to have the
greatest difficulty in communicating with mortals whose company
they seek incessantly. The former are not wicked through
intelligent malice. The law of spiritual evolution not having yet
developed their instinct into intelligence, whose highest light
belongs but to immortal spirits, their powers of reasoning are in
a latent state, and, therefore, they themselves, irresponsible.
But the Latin Church contradicts the Kabalists. St. Augustine has
even a discussion on that account with Porphyry, the
Neoplatonist. "These spirits," he says, "are deceitful, not by
their nature, as Porphyry, the theurgist, will have it, but
through malice. They pass themselves off for gods and for the
souls of the defunct" (Civit. Det, x. 2). So far Porphyry agrees
with him; "but they do not claim to be demons [read devils], for
they are such in reality!"--adds the Bishop of Hippo. So far, so
good, and he is right there, But then, under what class should we
place the men without heads, whom Augustine wishes us to believe
he saw himself; or the satyrs of St. Jerome, which he asserts
were exhibited for a considerable length of time at Alexandria?
They were, he tells us, "men with the legs and tails of goats";
and, if we may believe him, one of these satyrs was actually
pickled and sent in a cask to the Emperor Constantine!!!
23 Görres, Mystique, iii; 63.
24 The ancients called the spirits of bad people "souls"; the
soul was the "larva" and "lemure." Good human spirits became
25 Porphyry, De Sacrificiis. Chapter on the true Cultus.
26 Chap. lxxx. vv. 19, 20. "And when the Egyptians hid
themselves on account of the swarm [one of the plagues alleged to
have been brought on by Moses] . . . they locked their doors
after them, and God ordered the Sulanuth . . . [a sea-monster,
naively explains the translator, in a foot-note] which was then
in the sea, to come up and go into Egypt . . . and she had long
arms, ten cubits in length . . . and she went upon the roofs and
uncovered the rafting and cut them . . . and stretched forth her
arm into the house and removed the lock and the bolt and opened
the houses of Egypt . . . and the swarm of animals destroyed the
Egyptians, and it grieved them exceedingly."
27 Strom., vi. 17, § 159.
28 Ibid., vi. 3, §30.
29 As says Krishna--who is at the same time Purusha and Prakriti
in its totality, and the seventh principle, the divine spirit in
man--in the Bhagavad Gita: "I am the Cause. I am the production
and dissolution of the whole of Nature. On me is all the Universe
suspended as pearls upon a string." (Ch. vii.) "Even though
myself unborn, of changeless essence, and the Lord of all
existence, yet in presiding over Nature (Prakriti) which is mine,
I am born but through my own Mâyâ [the mystic power of
Self-ideation, the Eternal Thought in the Eternal Mind]." (Ch.
30 Ether is the Âkâsha of the Hindus. Âkâsha is Prakriti, or the
totality of the manifested Universe, while Purusha is the
Universal Spirit, higher than the Universal Soul.
31 De Part., i. 1.
32 A Pythagorean oath. The Pythagoreans swore by their Master.
*The article here comes to an abrupt termination--whether it was
ever finished or whether some of the MS. was lost, it is
impossible to say.--EDS. [Lucifer].
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