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The Health Aura of Man

by A.E.Powell

Publisher's Preface
The author's aim in compiling the books in this series was to save students much time and
labour by providing a condensed synthesis of the considerable literature on the respective
subjects of each volume, coming mostly from the pens of Annie Besant and
C.W.Leadbeater. The accompanying list shows the large number of books from which he
drew. So far as possible, the method adopted was to explain the form side first, before the
life side: to describe the objective mechanism of phenomena and then the activities of
consciousness that are expressed through the mechanism. There is no attempt to prove or
even justify any of the statements. Marginal references give opportunity to refer to the

The works of H.P.Blavatsky were not used because the author said that the necessary
research in The Secret Doctrine and other writings would have been too vast a task for him
to undertake. He added: "The debt to H.P.Blavatsky is greater than could ever be indicated
by quotations from her monumental volumes. Had she not show the way in the first instance,
later investigators might never have found the trail at all."

by members of the Science Group of the Theosophical Research centre, London, England

The Etheric Double was first published in 1925 as one of a series by the same author dealing
with the inner structure of Man. It is now represented to the public unchanged except for the
omission from the last chapter of a reference to local research, active when the book was

No attempt has been made to augment or otherwise bring up to date this classic in the light
of understanding accumulated during the intervening forty-odd years. As A.E.Powell said
himself in his introduction, this is a compilation from forty main works published between
1897 and 1921 and in view of their wide range and the painstaking thoroughness with which
they were extracted, the collated information may fairly be taken to summarise the general
views upon the subject up to 1925.

In more recent years, a better appreciation has been built up of the way the unconscious
mind functions, and sources of possible error have been discerned in the operation of
mediumistic faculties which necessitate caution concerning information obtained through
their use. Much of the contents of The Etheric Double is derived from the exercise of clair-
sentience (or extrasensory perception, as it is now called) and although the contents may be
accurate, there is as yet no accepted method of confirming them. This is not to cast doubt on
the honesty of those who recorded the observations; they were persons of unimpeachable
integrity who continually emphasised their pioneering status and fallibility. There is no doubt
that the psychic phenomena they described were experienced by them and, indeed, others
have since confirmed some of their accounts. The sources of possible error referred to lie
one state deeper than that - in the psychic mechanisms for experiencing what they did. This
is the still unresolved and fascinating province of parapsychology.

Further assistance can be expected towards corroborating or refuting the observations and
the theory of the etheric double from data emerging in the natural sciences, but at present
there are few points of contact. Space craft have taken recording instruments to Mars and
Venus, and electron microscopes in common laboratory service provide enormous
magnifications of what is normally invisible, but there is hardly any information relating to
etheric states of matter that has been acquired in a similar direct and orthodox way. Work
with recording devices has so far failed to detect etheric matter in its normal working state
and thereby confirm it as physical or near-physical substance. Probably the closest approach
has been in studies of ectoplasm, which seems to be the temporary and abnormal condition
of a plastic and extrudable component of the human body that becomes amenable to test
only when it has been made external and densified into tangible form by the special and
unconsciously exercised psychic abilities of certain rare people. When the densification
ceases and the material is withdrawn again into the donor's body, it could well be returning to
its function as part of a less easily identified etheric constitution. However, much more work
is needed before this can be concluded with any confidence.

Since rigorously established evidence can still neither confirm nor deny, it is reasonable to
hold the theory and information presented here as a hypothesis for further investigation. This
is the procedure in all scientific work and, in fact, little progress can be made without some
tentative working concept as context and guide. But it is essential to remember that an
adopted hypothesis may have to be modified or even rejected as the work proceeds, and this
is most likely during the early stages of an exploration. It happens frequently in the natural
sciences of the physical world for which our ordinary language and mathematical symbology
are expressly designed. How much more likely must this be in a domain more psychic than

Modern investigators continue the quest for a deeper understanding of Man's nature and
constitution and they have noted the more recent developments in psychology and
parapsychology that underlie the caution sounded here. However, their gratitude is due to
Powell for his orderly presentation of statements and ideas current in the 1925; time and
effort need not now be spent on the reference material that he so ably examined for them.
Here is ample justification for reprinting his work just as he wrote it.

The Science Group, Theosophical Research Centre, London, England.

H.Tudor Edmunds, Chairman - 1968

This book has been compiled with the object of presenting to the student of Occultism a
coherent synthesis of all, or nearly all, the information regarding the Etheric Double, and
other closely allied phenomena, which has been given to the world through the medium of
modern Theosophical and psychical research literature.

This information is scattered over a very large number of books and articles, some forty of
which the compiler has consulted, a list of these being given at the end of this document.
The writer wishes it understood that his work is a compilation - nothing more. All he has done
is to collect and arrange the material which others have provided.
There are many advantages in this method of study. In these busy days few have the leisure,
even if they possess the inclination, to search through some scores of books for scattered
item of knowledge, and then to weld them into a coherent whole. It is better, therefore, for
one to do this work, that others may benefit and save their own time and labour. The work of
the compiler brings to light many new relationships between fragments culled from divers
sources, and under his hand the mosaic gradually forms itself into a pattern. His work,
necessarily intensive, recalls to notice many isolated and often forgotten facts, which may be
of little value or interest considered individually, but which collectively constituted a
substantial and useful array. Finally, the picture which the compiler presents not only
displays in orderly fashion what is know today, but, by its very orderliness, reveals where our
knowledge is incomplete. Recognising such gaps in our knowledge, other investigators may
perhaps turn their attention in those directions and so make the picture more nearly

The compiler has throughout used his best endeavour to present the material he has
gathered with scrupulous exactitude. In very many cases he has employed the actual words,
adapted or abridged where necessary to the context, of the authors he has consulted; but,
not to make the text burdensome and unsightly with large numbers of inverted commas,
these have been consistently omitted. In order, however, that students may, if they wish,
refer to the original sources of information, the references have been provided, in
abbreviated or long form,

The compiler would be grateful to any students who would call his attention (1) to any
inaccuracies in his work; (2) to any omissions of material which he may have overlooked.

The diagrams and charts contained in the text are original; they are intended to be purely
diagrammatic, and in no sense pictures of the actual phenomena they attempt to illustrate.



Every student of Occultism is familiar with the fact that man possesses several bodies or
vehicles through which he is enabled to express himself on the various planes of nature –
physical, astral, mental, and so forth.
The occultist finds that physical matter exists in seven grades or orders of density, viz. :


Particles of all these grades enter into the composition of the physical vehicle. The latter,
however, has two well-marked divisions, viz., the dense body, composed of solids, liquids
and gases, and the Etheric Body, or Double, as it is frequently called, consisting of the four
finer grades of physical matter.
It will be our purpose in these chapters to study this Etheric Double; its nature, appearance,
functions, its relationships to the other vehicles, its connection with Prâna, or Vitality, its birth,
growth and decay, its connection with certain methods of healing, with mesmerism, with
mediumship and materialisations, the powers it can be made to exercise, and a host of
miscellaneous etheric phenomena with which it is connected.

Briefly, we shall find that the Etheric Double, while necessary to the life of the physical body,
is not, properly speaking, a separate vehicle of consciousness: that it receives and
distributes the vital force which emanates from the sun and is thus intimately connected with
physical health: that it possesses certain Chakrams or Force-Centres of its own, each with its
distinct function: that upon the action of etheric matter mainly depends the memory of the
dream life: that it plays an important part in determining the kind of physical vehicle which an
incarnating ego will receive: that, like the physical body, it dies and decays in due course,
releasing the “soul” for the next stage in its cyclic journey: that it is especially associated with
what is known as Vital or Magnetic Healing, and also with Mesmerism, whether for purposes
of healing, anæsthesia, or trance: that it is the principal factor concerned in séance-room
phenomena, such as the movement of objects, production of “raps” and other sounds, and
materialisations of all kinds: that the development of etheric faculties confers new powers
and reveals many etheric phenomena, which are beyond the experience of most men: that
by the use of the matter of the etheric body objects may be “magnetised”, much as living
beings may be mesmerised: and, finally, that the etheric body provides the material out of
which the substance known as ectoplasm is formed.

The Etheric Double has been given a variety of names. In early Theosophical literature it was
often called the astral body, the astral man, or the Linga Sharîra. In all later writings,
however, none of these terms are ever applied to the Etheric Double, as they belong
properly to the body composed of astral matter, the body of Kâma of the Hindus. In reading
the Secret Doctrine, therefore, and other books of the older literature, the student must be on
his guard not to confuse the two quite distinct bodies, known today as the Etheric Double
and the Astral Body.

The correct Hindu name for the Etheric Double is Prânamâyakosha, or vehicle of Prâna: in
German it is known as the “Doppelgänger” : after death, when separated from the dense
physical body, it is known as the “wraith”, and has also been called the “phantom”,
“apparition”, or “churchyard ghost”. In Râja Yoga the Etheric Double and the dense body
together are known as the Sthũlopâdhi, or lowest Upâdhi of Âtmâ.

Every solid, liquid and gaseous particle of the physical body is surrounded with an etheric
envelope: hence the Etheric Double, as its name implies, is a perfect duplicate of the dense
form. In size it projects about one quarter of an inch beyond the skin. The etheric aura,
however, or health Aura as it is frequently called, projects normally several inches beyond
the skin: this will be further described later.

It is important to notice that the dense body and the Etheric Double vary together as to their
quality: hence one who sets himself deliberately to purify his dense body, at the same time
automatically refines its etheric counterpart.

Into the composition of the Etheric Double must enter something of all the different grades of
etheric matter, but the proportions may vary greatly, and are determined by several factors,
such as the race, sub-race, and the type of man, as well as by his individual karma.

As yet, the only information which the compiler has been able to gather regarding the
particular properties and functions of each of the four grades of etheric matter is the following
1 Etheric The medium of ordinary current electricity, and of sound.
2 Super-Etheric The medium of light.
3 Subatomic The medium of the “finer forms of electricity”.
The medium for the transmission of thought from brain to
4 Atomic
The following is stated, in Theosophy for May, 1922, by F.T. Pierce, to be probably correct:-
Occult Chemistry Physics Example

E-1- Atomic Electronic Electron

E-2- Subatomic Positive Nucleus Alpha Particle
E-3- Super-Etheric Neutralised Nucleus Neutron
E-4- Etheric Atomic Nascent N.
Atomic H.
Gaseous Molecular Gas, etc. H2 , N2 or gaseous compounds
In appearance the Etheric Double is a pale violet-grey or blue-grey, faintly luminous, and
coarse or fine in texture according as the dense physical body is coarse or fine.
The Etheric Double has two main functions. Firstly, it absorbs Prâna, or Vitality, and
distributes this to the whole body, as we shall see in detail presently.
Secondly, it acts as an intermediary or bridge between the dense physical body and the
astral body, transmitting the consciousness of physical sense-contacts through the etheric
brain to the astral body, and also transmitting consciousness from the astral and higher
levels down into the physical brain and nervous system.
In addition, the Etheric Double develops within itself certain Centres by means of which the
man is able to cognise the etheric world and its hosts of etheric phenomena. These powers
or faculties will also be described in due course.
It is important to recognise that the Etheric Double, being merely a part of the physical body,
is not normally capable of acting as a separate vehicle of consciousness, in which a man can
live or function. It has only a diffused consciousness belonging to its parts, and has no
mentality, nor does it readily serve as a medium of mentality, when disjoined from the dense
counterpart. As it is a vehicle, not of mental consciousness, but of Prâna or Vitality, its
dislocation from the dense particles to which it conveys the life-currents is disturbing and
unhealthy. In normal, healthy persons, in fact, the separation of the Etheric Double from the
dense body is a matter of difficulty, and the Double is unable to move away from the body to
which it belongs.
In persons known as physical or materialising mediums the Double is comparatively easily
detachable, and its etheric matter forms the basis of many phenomena of materialisation,
which will be dealt with more fully in a later chapter.
The Double may be separated from the dense physical body by accident, death,
anæsthetics, such as ether or gas, or mesmerism. The Double being the connecting link
between the brain and the higher consciousness, the forcible extrusion of it from the dense
physical body by anæsthetics necessarily produces anæsthesia.
Further than this, the etheric matter thus forced out usually wraps itself round the astral body,
and dulls the consciousness of that vehicle also; hence after the effects of anæsthetics have
worn off there is usually no memory in the brain consciousness of the time spent in the astral
The method and consequences of withdrawal of etheric matter by mesmerism will be dealt
with more fully in the chapter specially devoted to the purpose.
In conditions of weak health or nervous excitement the Etheric Double may also in great part
be extruded from its dense counterpart: the latter then becomes very dully conscious, or
entranced, according to the lesser or greater amount of the etheric matter extruded.
Separation of the Double from the dense body is generally accompanied by a considerable
decrease of vitality in the latter, the double becoming more vitalised as the energy in the
dense body diminishes. In Posthumous Humanity Colonel Olcott says :-
“When the double is projected by a trained expert, even the body seems torpid, and the mind
in a „brown study‟ or dazed state; the eyes are lifeless in expression, the heart and lung
actions feeble and often temperature much lowered. It is very dangerous to make any
sudden noise or burst into a room under such circumstances; for, the double being by
instantaneous reaction drawn back into the body, the heart convulsively palpitates, and
death may be caused.”
So intimate, in fact, is the connection between the etheric and the dense bodies that an injury
inflicted on the Etheric Double will appear as a lesion on the dense body, this being an
instance of the curious phenomenon known as repercussion. It is well known that
repercussion can also occur in the case of the astral body, an injury to the latter, under
certain circumstances, reproducing itself in the physical body.
It seems probable, however, that repercussion can occur only in the case of a perfect
materialisation, where the form is both visible and tangible, and not when it is :-1.) tangible
though not visible, or 2.) visible though not tangible
It must be born in mind that the above applies only where matter of the Etheric Double is
used for the materialised form. When the materialisation is formed of matter, from the
circumambient ether, an injury to the form could affect the physical body by repercussion no
more than an injury to a marble statue could injure the man himself.
It must also be born in mind that etheric matter, though invisible to ordinary sight, is still
purely physical, and can therefore be affected by cold and heat, and also powerful acids.

Persons who have lost a limb by amputation sometimes complain that they can feel pain at
the extremities of the amputated limb, i.e., at the place where the limb used to be.
This is due to the fact that the etheric portion of the limb is not removed with the dense
physical portion, but can still be seen in its place by clairvoyant sight, and therefore, under
suitable stimulus, sensations can be aroused in this etheric limb and transmitted to the
There are a large number of other phenomenon connected with the Etheric Double, its
extrusion from the dense body, its emanations, and so forth, but these can be dealt with
more conveniently and satisfactorily at a later stage, after we have studied the nature and
methods of working Prâna, or Vitality.
It is known to occultists that there are at least three separate and distinct forces which
emanate from the sun and reach our planet. There may be countless other forces, for all we
know to the contrary, but at any rate we know of these three. They are : -
1. Fohat, or Electricity
2. Prâna, or Vitality
3. Kundalini, or Serpent-Fire
Fohat or Electricity, comprises practically all the physical forces of which we know, all of
which are convertible into one another, such as electricity, magnetism, light, heat, sound,
chemical affinity, motion, and so forth.
Prâna, or Vitality, is a vital force, the existence of which is not yet formally recognised by
orthodox Western scientists, though probably a few of them suspect it.
Kundalini, or Serpent-Fire, is a force known as yet only to very few. It is entirely unknown
and unsuspected by orthodox Western science.
These three forces remain distinct, and none of them can at this level be converted into
either of the others. This is a point of great importance, which the student should clearly
Further, these three forces have no connection with the Three Great Outpourings; the
Outpourings are definite efforts made by the Solar Deity. Fohat, Prâna and Kundalini, on the
other hand, seem rather the results of His Life, His qualities in manifestation without any
visible effort.

[ Since this document was compiled, The Chakras by C.W.Leadbeater, has appeared. In
The Chakras it is stated that the three forces mentioned are connected with the Outpourings,
as follows:

The First Outpouring, from the Third Logos, is the Primary force which manufactured the
chemical elements. This appears to be Fohat. The Second Outpouring, form the Second
Logos, has Prâna as one of its aspects.
Kundalini is a further development, on the ascending arc, of the First Outpouring ]

Prâna is a Sanskrit word, derived from pra, forth, and an, to breathe, move, live. Thus pra-
an, Prâna, means to breathe forth, life-breath or life-energy being the nearest English
equivalents of the Sanskrit term. As, in Hindu thought, there is but one Life, one
Consciousness, Prâna has been used for the Supreme Self, the energy of the One, the Life
of the Logos. Hence, Life on each plane may be spoken of as the Prâna of the plane, Prâna
becoming the life-breath in every creature.
“I am Prâna… Prâna is life,” says Indra, the great Deva who stands as the Head of the
hierarchy of the life in the lower world. Prâna here clearly means the totality of the life-forces.
In the Mundakopanishat it is stated that from Brahman the One comes Prâna – or Life. Prâna
is also described as Âtmâ in its outgoing activity: “From Âtmâ this Prâna is born”
(Prashnopanishat). Shankara says that Prâna is Kriyâshakti – the Shakti of doing, not of
knowing. It is classed as one of the seven Elements, which correspond to the seven regions
of the universe, the seven sheaths of Brahman, and so forth. These are: Prâna, Manas,
Ether, Fire, Air, Water, Earth.
The Hebrews speak of the “breath of life”, which they call Nephesch, breathed into the
nostrils of Adam. Nephesch, however, is not strictly speaking Prâna alone, but Prâna
combined with the next principle, Kâma. These together make the “vital spark” that is the
“Breath of life in man, in beast or insect, of physical, material life. “
Translated into more Western terms, Prâna, on the physical plane, is best described as
Vitality, as the integrating energy that co-ordinates the physical molecules, cells, etc., and
holds them together as a definite organism. It is the life-breath within the organism, the
portion of the universal Life-Breath, appropriated by a given organism during the period of
bodily existence that we speak of as “a life.”Were it not for the presence of Prâna, there
could be no physical body as an integral whole, working as one entity; without Prâna the
body would be nothing more than a collection of independent cells. Prâna links up and
connects these into one complex whole, playing along the branches and meshes of the “life-
web,” that shimmering golden web of inconceivable fineness and delicate beauty, formed out
of a single thread of buddhic matter, a prolongation of the Sûtrâtma, within the meshes of
which the coarser atoms are built together.
Prâna is absorbed by all living organisms, a sufficient supply of it seeming to be a necessity
of their existence. It is not, therefore, in any sense a product of life, but the living animal,
plant, etc., are its products. Too great an exuberance of it in the nervous system may lead to
disease and death, just as too little leads to exhaustion and ultimately death.
H.P. Blavatsky compares Prâna, the active power producing all vital phenomena, to oxygen,
the supporter of combustion, the life-giving gas, the active chemical agent in all organic life.
A comparison is also drawn between the Etheric Double, the inert vehicle of life, and
nitrogen, an inert gas with which oxygen is mixed to adapt the latter for animal respiration,
and which also enters largely into all organic substances.
The fact that the cat is pre-eminently endowed with prâna has given rise to the popular idea
of the cat having “nine lives”, and appears to have been indirectly connected with the
reasons for this animal being regarded in Egypt as sacred.
On the physical plane prâna builds up all minerals, and is the controlling agent in the
chemico-physiological changes in protoplasm, which lead to differentiation and the building
of the various tissues of bodies and plants, animals and men. They show its presence by the
power of responding to stimuli.
The blending of astral with physical prâna creates nerve-matter which is fundamentally the
cell, and which gives the power to feel pleasure and pain. The cells develop into fibres, as
the result of thought, the prâna pulsating along those fibres being composed of physical,
astral and mental prâna.
Within the physical plane atoms themselves, the prâna courses along the spirillæ. In our
Chain, in the First Round, the Monadic Life, flowing through the Spiritual Triad (Atma-Buddhi-
Manas), vivifies the first set of spirillæ, and these are used by the prânic currents which
affect the dense physical body. In the Second Round, the Monad vivifies the second set of
spirillæ, and through them runs the prâna connected with the Etheric Double. In the Third
Round, the third set of spirillæ is awakened by the Monadic life, and through them courses
the kâmic prâna, which makes sensation of pleasure and pain possible. In the Fourth
Round, the Monadic life awakens the fourth set of spirillæ, which becomes the vehicle for the
Kâma-manasic prâna, thus making the atoms fit to be built into a brain for thought.
This is as far as normal humanity has progressed. Certain Yoga practices (in the use of
which great caution is required, lest injury should be inflicted on the brain) bring about the
development of the fifth and sixth set of spirillæ, which serve as channels for higher forms of
The seven spirillæ in the atom must not be confused with the “whorls,” of which there are
ten, three coarser and seven finer. In the three coarser whorls flow currents of different
electricities, whilst the seven finer whorls respond to etheric waves of all kinds – sound, light,
heat, etc.
The Secret Doctrine speaks of Prâna as the “invisible” or “fiery” lives which supply the
microbes with “vital constructive energy,” thus enabling them to build the physical cells, the
size of the smallest bacterium relatively to that of a “fiery life” being as that of an elephant to
the tiniest infusoria. “Every visible thing in the universe was built by such lives, from
conscious and divine primordial man, down to the unconscious agents that construct
matter.” “By the manifestation of Prâna, the spirit which is speechless appears as the
The whole constructive vitality, in the universe and in man, is thus summed up as Prâna.

An atom is also a “life”, but the consciousness is that of the Third Logos. A microbe is a “life,”
the consciousness being that of the Second Logos, appropriated and modified by the
Planetary Logos and the “Spirit of the Earth.”
The Secret Doctrine also speaks of a “fundamental dogma” of occult science, that the Sun is
the storehouse of Vital Force, and that from the sun issue those life-currents which thrill
through space, as through the organisms of every living thing on earth. Paracelsus thus
referred to Prâna : “The whole of the Microcosm is potentially contained in the Liquor Vitæ, a
nerve fluid …in which is contained the nature, quality, character, and essence of all beings.”
Paracelsus also spoke of it as the Archæus. Dr. B. Richardson, F.R.S., wrote of it as
“nervous ether.” The Nasmyth willow leaves are the reservoirs of the solar vital energy, the
real sun being hidden behind the visible sun, and generating the vital fluid, which circulates
throughout our System in a ten-year cycle.
The old Aryan sang that Surya “hiding behind his Yogi, robes his head that no one could

The dress of the Indian ascetics is dyed a red-yellow hue, with pinkish patches on it, and is
intended rudely to represent the prâna in men‟s blood, the symbol of the vital principle in the
sun, or what is now called the chromosphere, the “rose-coloured” region.
The nerve-centres themselves are of course provided by the “food-sheath” or dense body,
but Prâna is the controlling energy which acts through the nerve-centres, making the food-
sheath obedient, and fashioning it for the purpose which the I, seated in the higher
intelligence, demands.
It is important to note that although the nerves are in the physical body, it is not the physical
body, as such, which has the power of feeling. As a sheath, the physical body does not feel:
it is a receiver of impressions only. The outer body receives the impact, but in its own cells
does not lie the power of feeling pleasure or pain, except in a very vague, dull and “massive”
way, giving rise to vague, diffused feelings, such as those of general fatigue, for example.
The physical contacts are transmitted inwards by prâna, and these are acute, sharp, keen,
specific, quite different from the heavy, diffused sensations deriving from the cells
themselves. It is thus in every case prâna which gives the sense-activity to the physical
organs, and which transmits the outer vibration to the sense-centres, which are situated in
Kâma, in the sheath which is next to prâna, the Manomayakosha. It is by means of the
Etheric Double that prâna runs along the nerves of the body and thus enables them to act
not only as the carriers of external impacts but also of motor force, originated from within.
It is the play of the prânic life-currents in the Etheric Doubles of minerals, vegetables, and
animals which awaken out of latency the astral matter involved in the structure of their atomic
and molecular constituents, thus producing a “thrill” which enables the Monad of form to
draw in astral materials, which are built by nature-spirits into a loosely constituted mass, the
future astral body.
In the mineral, astral matter is so little active that there is no perceptible working from the
astral to the physical. In the higher plants the increased astral activity affects their etheric
and, through this, their dense matter. With animals, the much greater astral consciousness
affects their Etheric Doubles and, by these etheric vibrations, the building of the nervous
system, which was dimly foreshadowed only in plants, is stimulated.
It is thus impulses set up by the consciousness – willing to experience – which cause astral
vibrations, these producing vibrations in etheric matter: the impulse thus comes from the
consciousness, but the actual building of the nervous system, which the consciousness at
this stage is unable to undertake, is performed by etheric nature-spirits, directed by the
Shining Ones of the Third elemental Kingdom and the Logos working through the Group
There appears first in the astral body a centre, having the function of receiving and
responding to vibrations from outside. From this centre, vibrations pass to the etheric body,
causing there etheric vortices which draw into themselves dense physical particles: these
eventually form a nerve-cell, and groups of cells, which, receiving vibrations from the outer
physical world, transmit them back to the astral centres, the physical and astral centres thus
acting and reacting on one another, each in consequence becoming more complicated and
more effective. Out of these nerve-cells, the sympathetic system is built first, by impulses, as
we have seen, originating in the astral world: later the cerebro-spinal system is constructed,
by impulses originating in the mental world.

The sympathetic system always remains directly connected with the astral centres: but it is
important to note that these astral centres are not the astral chakrams, of which we shall
speak later, but are merely aggregations in the astral sheath which form the beginnings of
the centres which will build the organs in the physical body. The astral chakrams are not
formed till a much later period in evolution.
From these centres then – which are not the chakrams – ten organs in the physical are
formed: five to receive impressions, Jñânendriyas, “knowledge-senses” or sense-centres in
the brain, which eventually are connected with eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin: and five to
convey vibrations from consciousness to the outer world, Karmendriyas, “action senses,” or
sense-centres which cause action, these being the motor-centres in the brain, to be
connected with the sense-organs in hands, feet, larynx, organs of generation and excretion.
The student must carefully note that the prâna which courses along the nerves is quite
separate and distinct from what is called a man‟s magnetism, or nerve-fluid, which is
generated within his own body. This nerve-fluid or magnetism keeps the etheric matter
circulating along the nerves, or, more accurately, along a coating of ether which surrounds
each nerve, much as the blood circulates through the veins. And just as the blood carries
oxygen to the body, so does the nerve-fluid convey prâna.
Furthermore, just as the particles of the dense physical body are constantly changing and
being replaced by fresh particles derived from food, water, and air, so are the particles of the
etheric body being constantly changed and replaced by fresh etheric particles, these being
taken into the body along with the food eaten, with the air breathed, and with prâna, in the
form known as the Vitality Globule, as will presently be described.
Prâna, or Vitality, exists on all planes – physical, astral, mental, etc.. Prâna, the One Life, is
“the nave to which are attached the seven spokes of the universal wheel” (Hymn to Prâna,
Artharva Veda, XI., 4). We are here, however, concerned only with its appearance and
methods of work in the lowest, the physical plane.
It must also be noted that prâna on the physical plane is sevenfold, i.e., there are seven
varieties of it.

We have seen already that is quite separate and distinct from light, heat, etc., but
nevertheless its –

The Vitality Globule (1) An Ultimate Physical Atom

For details of atom, see Occult Chemistry, Plate II,

and page 5, et seq.

manifestation on the physical plane appears to depend upon sunlight: for when sunlight is
abundant, prâna also appears in abundance, and where sunlight is absent, prâna also is
Prâna emanates from the sun, and enters some of the ultimate physical atoms which float
about in the earth‟s atmosphere in countless myriads. Although we say that this prânic force
“enters” the physical atom, it does not do so from outside: it enters from a higher dimension,
the fourth, and so appears to the clairvoyant as welling up within the atom.
There are thus two forces which enter the atom from within: (1) the Will-force of the Logos,
which holds the atom together in its proper shape; (2) the Prânic force. It is important to note
that Prâna comes from the Second Aspect of the Solar deity, whereas the Will-force
emanates from the Third Aspect

The Vitality Globule (2) Vitality-Force enters Atoms

The effect of Prâna on atoms is entirely different from that of electricity, light, heat or other
expressions of Fohat. Electricity, rushing through the atoms, deflects them and holds them in
a certain way, and also imparts to them a separate and distinct vibration-rate. Any of the
variants of Fohat, such as electricity, light, or heat, cause an oscillation of the atom as a
whole, an oscillation the size of which is enormous as compared with that of the atom itself,
these forces of course acting on the atom from without.
Students of occultism will be familiar with the shape and structure of the ultimate physical
atom, the smallest particle of matter on the physical plane, out of combinations of which are
made the various combinations we know as solid, liquid, gas, etc. In drawings in this
document, therefore these ultimate physical atoms are indicated as outlines only.

The Vitality Globule (3) The Atom attracts 6 other
The Vitality Force "endows the atom with an additional
life, and gives it a power of attraction... "
The force of Prâna, then, radiated from the sun, enters some atoms in the atmosphere and
causes them to glow. Such an atom, charged with this additional life, has a sixfold power of
attraction, so that it immediately draws round it six other atoms. These it arranges in a
definite form, making what is termed in Occult Chemistry a hyper-meta-proto-element, a
combination of matter on the sub-atomic sub-plane. This combination, however, differs from
all others so far observed, in that the force which creates it and holds it together comes from
the Second Aspect of the Solar Deity instead of from the Third. This form is known as the
Vitality Globule, and is shown in the appended drawing, which is enlarged from that on p. 45
of Occult Chemistry. This little group is the exceedingly brilliant bead upon the male or
positive snake in the chemical element oxygen, and it is also the heart of the central globe in
Diagram II- The Vitality Globule
(4) Formation of the Globule
N.B.- The Vitality Globule is a hper-meta-meta-proto
element, i.e., On the sub-atomic level, and is unique
in that it is created and held together by force
emanating from the Second Logos. H.S.I. Page 67,
O.C., Page 45
The globules, on account of their brilliance and extreme activity, can be seen by almost any
one who cares to look, darting about in the atmosphere in immense numbers, especially on a
sunny day. The best way to see them is to face directly away from the sun and focus the
eyes a few feet away, with a clear sky as background. Brilliant as is the globule, it is almost
colourless, and may be compared to white light.
It has already been remarked that although the force which vivifies these globules is quite
different from light, it nevertheless appears to depend upon light for the power of
manifestation. In brilliant sunshine this vitality is constantly welling up afresh, and the
globules are generated in incredible numbers; but in cloudy weather there is a great
diminution in the number of globules formed, and during the night the operation appears to
be entirely suspended. During the night, therefore, we may be said to be living upon the
stock manufactured during the previous day, and although it appears practically impossible
that it should ever be entirely exhausted, that stock evidently does run low when there is long
succession of cloudy days.
It is, of course the work of the physical elemental to defend the body and to assimilate vitality
(as will be described in detail in the next chapter) in order to recuperate the physical body.
Whilst the physical body is awake, the nerves and muscles are kept tense, ready for instant
action. When the body is asleep, the elemental lets the nerves and muscles relax and
devotes himself especially to the assimilation of vitality. This accounts for the strong
recuperative power of sleep, even of a momentary nap.
The elemental works most successfully during the early part of the night, when there is a
copious supply of vitality. In the daily cycle the supply of globules is at its lowest ebb in the
small hours of the morning, before sunrise, and this is one reason why so large a proportion
of deaths occurs during those hours. Hence also the saying that an hour‟s sleep before
midnight is worth two after it. Similarly of course, the supply of prâna is at a lower ebb in
winter than in summer.
Further, Prâna is poured forth, not only on the physical, but also on all planes, emotion,
intellect, and spirituality will be at their best under clear skies and with the inestimable aid of
sunlight. It may also be added that even the colours of etheric prâna correspond to some
extent to similar hues at the astral level. Hence right feeling and clear thought react on the
physical and assist the latter to assimilate prâna and thus maintain vigorous health. We thus
find an interesting light thrown on the intimate connection between spiritual, mental, and
emotional health and the health of the physical body, and are reminded of the well-known
saying of the Lord Buddha that the first step on the road to Nirvâna is perfect physical health.
The vitality globule, once charged, remains as a sub-atomic element, and does not appear to
be subject to any change or loss of force unless and until it is absorbed by some living

Before proceeding to study the extremely interesting and important subject of the absorption
of Prâna in the physical body, we must first study the mechanism in the Etheric Double by
means of which this process is effected.
In the Etheric Double, as well, incidentally, as in each of our other vehicles, there are certain
Force-Centres, or Chakrams, as they are called in Sanskrit, this word meaning literally a
wheel or revolving disc.

The Chakrams are situated on the surface of the Double, that is about a quarter of an inch
outside the skin of the body. To clairvoyant sight they appear as vortices or saucer-like
depressions of rapidly rotating matter.
The force flowing through the chakrams being essential to the life of the Etheric Double,
every one possesses such force-centres, though the degree of their development varies
considerably in individuals. Where they are undeveloped they glow dully and the etheric
particles move sluggishly, just forming the vortex necessary for the transmission of the force,
and no more: in developed people, on the other hand, the chakrams glow and pulsate,
blazing with blinding brilliance like miniature suns. They vary in size from about two inches in
diameter to about six inches.
In a new born baby they are tiny little circles like a three-penny piece – little hard discs
scarcely moving at all, and only faintly glowing.

The etheric chakrams have two distinct functions. The first is to absorb and distribute Prâna,
or Vitality, to the etheric and thence to the physical body, thus keeping these alive. The
second function is to bring down into the physical consciousness whatever may be the
quality inherent in the corresponding astral centre. It is the lack of development of the etheric
centres which accounts for the failure to bring into the physical brain memory of astral
experiences. Many people are fully awake and vividly conscious on the astral plane and lead
active lives in their astral bodies.
Structure of Force-Centre
(1) Shape

The appearance is that of a saucer-like depression,

or vortex, in the surface of the Etheric Double, i.e.,
1/4 inch outside the surface of the physical body.

Function: to convey forces from Astral to Etheric.

N.B. Similar centres exists in all vehicles.
When however, they return to their sleeping physical bodies, scarcely any memory of the
astral life filters through into the brain, simply because the necessary etheric bridge is not
built. When the etheric centres are fully developed, there is full and continuous memory of
astral experiences in the brain.
There appears to be no connection between the activity or development of the etheric
chakrams and moral qualities: the two developments are quite distinct.

Although there is in the astral body an astral centre corresponding to each of the etheric
centres, yet as the astral centre is a vortex in four dimensions, it extends in a direction quite
different from the etheric, and consequently the astral centre is by no means always
coterminous with the corresponding etheric centre, though some part of it is always
coincident. Whilst the etheric centres are always on the surface of the etheric body, the astral
centre is frequently in the interior of the astral body.

Structure of Force-Centre
(2) Inrush of Vital Force

One of the seven varieties of he Vital Force greatly

predominate in each centre.
This inrush of Vital Force brings life to the physical body.

We have already seen (Chapter II ) that there are seven varieties of Prâna, all of which are
present in all the chakrams; but in each chakram one of the varieties is always greatly
The Prâna rushes into the centre of each chakram from a direction at right angles to the
plane of the chakram; “welling up” would perhaps be a better term, as the force comes from
the astral plane into the etheric. From the centre of the chakram the force then radiates at
right angles to the direction from which it came, i.e.., in the plane of the surface of the Etheric
Double, in a number of directions, and in straight lines. The number of directions, which are
similar to the spokes of a wheel, is different in each chakram.

Structure of Force-Centre (3) Formation of "Spokes"
The Primary Force "wells-up" at centre, and then rushes
outwards radially along "spokes", the number of these "spokes"
differing in each centre

The spokes divide the chakram into a number of segments, like the petals of a flower; hence,
in Hindu books, the chakrams are often described as resembling flowers.
Now somewhat as a bar-magnet thrust into a coil of wire will set up or “induce” a current of
electricity in the wire at right angles to the axis of the magnet, so does the primary force of
Prâna entering the chakram set up or induce secondary forces in the plane of the chakram.
These secondary forces spin round the chakram, passing over and under the spokes, much
as the material of the bottom of a circular basket passes over and under the ribs which
radiate from the centre.
Each of these secondary forces, sweeping round the chakram, has its own characteristic
wavelength, and in addition moves, not in straight lines, but in relatively large undulations,
each of which is a multiple of the wavelength within it. The wavelengths are very minute, and
probably some thousands of them are very minute, and probably some thousands of them
are included in one undulation, though the exact proportion has not yet been determined.
The general effect is shimmering and iridescent, like mother-of-pearl, or a certain variety of
Venetian glass.
Structure of Force-Centre
(4) Formation of Secondary Force
The chakrams are often spoken of as corresponding to certain physical organs, those
organs, in fact, which are the nearest to them; but, as already mentioned, the chakrams
themselves are not in the interior of the body, but on the surface of the Etheric Double.
The list of the chakrams and their names is as follows:-
No. Nearest Physical Organ Sanskrit Name
1 Base of Spine Mûladhâra
2 Navel Manipûra
3 Spleen Svâdhisthâna
4 Heart Anâhata
5 Throat Visuddha
6 Between Eyebrows Ajnâ
7 Top of Head
9 Lower Organs
Numbers 8, 9, and 10, connected with the lower organs of the body, are not used by
students of the “white” magic, though there are certain schools in existence which make use
of them. The dangers connected with them are so serious that we should consider their
awakening as the greatest of misfortunes.
The flow of vitality into or through any chakram is quite separate and distinct from the
development of the chakram brought about by the awakening of Kundalini, which will be
described in Chapter XIII.
We shall now proceed to study each of the seven chakrams in turn, examining its structure,
appearance, function, and the faculties associated with it. For reasons which will presently
appear, it will be convenient to commence with the third centre, that situated near the spleen.
The spleen centre has six spokes, and therefore the same number of petals or undulations.
In appearance it is specially radiant, glowing and sun-like.

This centre is unique in this, that it has the all-important function of absorbing the Vitality
Globules –

Spleen Centre
(1) Structure

General appearance "Radiant and sun-like"

Function of Astral Centre: vitalises Astral Body. Power to
travel consciously.
Function of Etheric Centre: vitalises Physical Body, Memory
of Astral Journeys.
from the atmosphere, disintegrating them, and distributing the component atoms, charged
with the specialised and transmuted Prâna, to the various parts of the body.

The process will most readily be followed with the aid of diagrams, Nos. IV (2), (3) and (4).
Diagram IV
Spleen Centre
(2) Absorption of Vitality Globules
Vitality Globules are drawn into centre of Force-Centre

Spleen Centre
(3) Decomposition of Vitality Globules

Vitality globules, after being drawn into Centre, are

decomposed, and the component particles are whirled
round by the "Secondary Forces".
The Vitality Globules are first drawn into the spleen centre: then they are broken up into
seven component atoms, each atom charged with one of the seven varieties of Prâna : these
atoms are then caught up by the rotating secondary forces and spun round the chakram.
The seven different kinds of Prâna are coloured thus: -
Violet –Blue – Green – Yellow – Orange – Dark Red – Rose-Red
It will be observed that the divisions are not exactly those to which we are accustomed in the
solar spectrum, but resemble rather the arrangement of colours seen on higher levels in the
causal, mental, and astral bodies. The indigo spectrum is divided between the violet and blue
rays of Prâna, whilst the red of the spectrum is split up into dark red and rose-red Prâna.
Each of the six spokes then seizes on one variety of atom and despatches it to the chakram
or part of the body for which it is needed. This accounts for six kinds of atoms only: the
seventh variety, - that coloured rose-pink, is despatched through the hub or centre of the
spleen chakram itself, whence it is distributed over the whole nervous system. These rose-
coloured atoms are the original atoms which first drew round them the six others to form the
The atoms which bear the rose-coloured Prâna are clearly the life of the nervous system,
and it is this variety of Prâna which one man may give to another, as described in Chapter
XIII. If the nerves are insufficiently supplied with this rose-coloured Prâna, they become
sensitive and intensely irritable: the patient finds himself restless, and the least noise or
touch is agony to him. Instant relief may be afforded him by some healthy person flooding his
nervous system with a supply of rose-coloured Prâna.

Although there are seven distinct kinds of Prâna, there are only five main streams, as
described in some Indian books, because after issuing from the spleen chakram the blue and
violet join into one stream and the orange and dark red join into another stream. The streams
leave the spleen centre horizontally.
Diagram IV
Spleen Centre
(4) Dispersion of Vitality Particles

1- Vitality globules are drawn into Centre.
2- Vitality globules are broken up into particles.
3- Vitality particles are whirled round by "secondary" forces.
4- Vitality particles are seized by appropriate "spoke", and despatched to
destination shown.
N.B.- The rose-pink atoms are the original atoms which first drew round them 6
others to form the globule.
The colours of the streams and their destinations are set out in the following table :-

1 Violet-Blue Throat Centre

Navel Centre and Abdomen
2 Green
3 Yellow Heart Centre
Orange-Dark Red ( and some Dark
4 Base of Spine Centre
5 Rose-Red Nervous System
As the various kinds of Prâna – charged atoms are distributed where required, the charge of
Prâna is withdrawn from them, precisely as a charge of electricity might be withdrawn. The
Prâna gives life to the Etheric Double and, through that, to the dense body, the degree of
health of the parts of the body being largely determined by the volume of Prâna distributed.
The bearing of this significant fact on the maintenance of physical vigour and the cure of
disease is clearly of very great importance and will be more fully considered in the section
devoted to Healing and Mesmerism.

The atoms bearing the rose-coloured Prâna grow gradually paler as they sweep along the
nerves and part with their Prânic content. They are eventually discharged from the body
through the pores of the skin (as well as in other ways), forming what is called the health
aura, a pale bluish-white emanation, of which a plate is given in Man, Visible and Invisible,
page 128.

In a man in vigorous health the spleen does its work so generously that considerably more of
the particles charged with Prâna are present than the man requires for his own use. These
unused particles are discharged from the body in all directions, through the health aura,
along with the particles from which the Prâna has been extracted. Such a man is thus a
source of health and strength to those around him, constantly though unconsciously
shedding vitality on any who may be in his vicinity. This process may be considerably
intensified by those who definitely set themselves to heal others, by mesmeric passes and
otherwise, as we shall see more fully in a later chapter.

In addition to these particles just mentioned, it is also well known that small particles of
dense physical matter are continually being thrown off from a man‟s body, in insensible
perspiration and in other ways. A clairvoyant sees these particles as a faint grey mist. Many
of the particles are crystalline in form and therefore appear as geometrical figures; one of the
commonest is that of salt, or sodium chloride, which takes the form of cubes.

A man on the other hand, who is unable for any reason to specialise for his own use a
sufficient amount of Prâna, frequently and also unconsciously acts as a sponge, his physical
elemental drawing vitality from any sensitive person who happens to be near, to his own
temporary benefit, but often to the serious injury of the victim. This phenomenon largely
accounts for those feelings of weariness and languor which come over one after being near
people who, not being very strong themselves, possess this unfortunate vampire-like faculty
of draining others of vitality. The same thing may happen, often in an aggravated form, at
spiritualistic séances.

The vegetable kingdom also absorbs vitality, but seems in most cases to use only a small
part of it. Many trees, especially the pine and eucalyptus, extract from the globules almost
exactly the same constituents as does the higher part of man‟s etheric body, and reject any
superfluous atoms charged with rose-coloured Prâna which they do not themselves require.
Hence the proximity of such trees is extremely beneficial for people who are nervously

The health aura, consisting of these particles ejected from the body, serves the useful
purpose of protecting the man from the invasion of disease germs. In health the particles are
thrown out through the pores in straight lines, at right angles to the surface of the body,
giving to the health aura a striated effect. As long as the lines remain firm and straight the
body seems to be almost entirely protected from the attack of evil physical influences, such
as disease germs, the germs being actually repelled and carried away by the outrush of
Prânic force. But, when on account of weakness, over-fatigue, a wound, depression of
spirits, or through the excesses of an irregular life, an unusually large amount of Prâna is
required to repair waste or damage within the body, and there is consequently a serious
diminution in the quantity radiated, the lines of the health aura droop, become erratic and
confused, the system of defence is weakened, and it is then comparatively easy for deadly
germs to effect an entrance (vide M., V., & I., p. 132, Plate XXV).

In The Science of breath, translated by Râma Prasâd, it is stated that the natural length from
the body to the periphery of the “halo” of Prâna, is 10 “fingers” during inspiration of the breath
and 12 during expiration. At other times the lengths are stated to be as follows: in eating and
speaking, 18; in walking, 24; in running, 42; in cohabitation 65; in sleeping, 100. A reduction
in length is said to result when a man overcomes desire, gains the 8 Siddhis, etc. It seems
probable, though by no means certain, that the “halo” mentioned is the health aura. The term
"fingers" here means, according to the method of reckoning used in India, not the length of a
finger but with width.

Both etheric matter and Prâna are very readily amenable to the human will. It is possible,
therefore, to protect oneself to a considerable extent from hostile influences mentioned
above, by making an effort of the will to check the radiation of vitality at the outer extremity of
the health aura, building it there into a wall or shell which will be impervious to disease germs
and also prevent the vitality from being sucked away by any one near who has the vampire

With a little further effort a shell may be made impervious also to astral or mental influence.

The question of etheric shells is so important that it will be necessary later on in this book to
enter into it rather more fully than we have done here, where we are dealing purely with the
health aura.

The development of the spleen centre enables the man to remember his astral journeys,
though sometimes only very partially, the faculty associated with the corresponding astral
centre being that of travelling consciously in the astral body. Those vague memories, that
most of us have, of blissful flights through the air are often due to slight accidental stimulation
of the spleen chakram.

It maybe mentioned, in passing, that the astral centre corresponding to the spleen also has
the function of vitalising the whole astral body.



The first centre, or chakram, at the base of the spine, has a primary force which radiates in
four spokes, making the centre appear to be divided into quadrants, with hollows between
them, like a cross, a symbol which is often used to represent the centre.
Base of Spine Centre
(a) Normal person

Function of Astral Centre: Seat of Kundalini

Function of Etheric Centre: Seat of Kundalini
Appearance: "Fiery orange-red". number of "spokes"
N.B. Kundalini has seven layers or degrees of force.
When aroused into full activity, this centre is fiery orange-red in colour corresponding closely
with the stream of dark red and orange vitality which comes to it from the spleen centre. It
may be mentioned that in every case there is a similar correspondence between the colour
of the stream of vitality flowing into a centre and the colour of the centre itself.
Base of Spine Centre
(b) Developed person

In addition to the orange and darker reds, there is also some dark purple vitality flowing into
this centre, rather as though the spectrum bent round in a circle and the colours began again
at a lower octave.

From this centre the orange-red ray flows to the generative organs, energising the sexual
nature: it also seems to enter the blood and keep up the heat of the body.

A very remarkable and important effect can be produced by a person who persistently
refuses to yield to the lower nature. By long and determined effort the orange-red ray can be
deflected upwards to the brain, where all three constituents undergo a profound modification.
The orange is raised into pure yellow and intensifies the intellectual powers. The dark red
becomes crimson and increases the power of unselfish affection; the dark purple is
transmuted into a beautiful pale violet, quickening the spiritual part of the nature.
The seat of Kundalini, the Serpent-Fire, is in the base of the spine centre. This will be dealt
with in a later chapter: for THE present we may just note that a man who has achieved the
transmutation just mentioned will find that sensual desires no longer trouble him, and when it
becomes necessary for him to arouse the serpent-fire he will be free from the most serious of
dangers of that process. When a man has finally completed the change, the orange-red ray
passes straight into the centre at the base of the spine, and thence runs upwards through the
hollow of the vertebral column and so to the brain.

A flaming cross is a symbol sometimes used to represent the serpent-fire residing in the
base of the spine cenre.



The second centre, at the navel or solar plexus, receives a primary force which radiates in
ten directions, there being ten undulations or petals.

Its predominant colour is a curious blending of various shades of red, though there is also a
great deal of green in it. It receives the green ray from the spleen centre, that ray also
flooding the abdomen, vivifying the liver, kidneys, intestines, and the digestive apparatus
generally, centering especially in the solar plexus.

Navel Centre

Function of Astral Centre: Feeling: general sensitiveness.

Function of Etheric Centre: Feeling astral influences.
Appearance: "various shades of red, with much green".
Number of "spokes" ten

The centre is closely associated with feelings and emotions of various kinds. The
corresponding astral centre, when awakened, gives the power of feeling, a sensitiveness to
all sorts of influences, though without as yet anything like the definite comprehension that
comes from the faculties corresponding to seeing or hearing. When, , therefore, the etheric
centre becomes active, the man begins in the physical body to be conscious of astral
influences, vaguely feeling friendliness or hostility, or that some places are pleasant and
others unpleasant, but without the least knowing why.

The Sanskrit name for this centre is Manipûra.



Having already dealt with the third centre, that near the spleen, we pass next to the fourth
centre, that of the heart.

Heart Centre

N.B. The Yellow Ray permeates the blood, and is carried all over the body
with it.
Function of Astral centre: Comprehension of Astral vibrations.
Function of Etheric Centre: Consciousness of feelings of others.
Appearance: " glowing golden". Number of "spokes", 12.

This chakram has twelve spokes or radiations, and is a glowing golden colour. It receives the
yellow ray from the spleen centre; when the current is full and strong it produces strength
and regularity in the heart section. Flowing round the heart chakram, the yellow ray also
interpenetrates the blood and thus is carried all over the body. It also passes on to the brain
and permeates it, though directing itself principally to the twelve-petalled flower in the middle
of the seventh or highest centre. In the brain, it confers the power of high philosophical and
metaphysical thought.
The corresponding astral centre, when awakened, endows a man with the power to
comprehend and sympathise with, and so instinctively understand, the feelings of other
astral entities.

The etheric centre, therefore, makes a man aware, in his physical consciousness, of the joys
and sorrows of others, and sometimes even causes him to reproduce in himself by sympathy
their physical aches and pains.

The Sanskrit for this chakram is Anâhata.



This chakram, the fifth, has sixteen spokes, and, therefore, sixteen petals or divisions. In
colour it shows a good deal of blue, but its general effect is silvery and gleaming, not unlike
moonlight on rippling water.

It receives the violet-blue ray from the spleen chakram. This ray then appears to divide, the
light blue remaining to course through and vivify the throat centre, while the dark blue and
violet pass on to the brain.

The light blue gives health to the region of the throat, the strength and elasticity of the vocal
cords of a great singer or speaker, for example, being accompanied by special brilliance and
activity of this ray.
Throat Centre
Function of Astral Centre: Hearing
Function of Etheric Centre: Etheric and Astral hearing.
Appearance: "Silvery and gleaming with a good deal of blue".
Number of "spokes" 16.
The dark blue expends itself in the lower central parts of the brain, while the violet floods the
upper part and appears to give special vigour to the chakram at the top of the head, diffusing
itself chiefly through the nine hundred and sixty petals of the outer part of the centre.

Ordinary thought is stimulated by the blue ray, mingled with part of the yellow (from the heart
centre, vide Chapter VII.).

In some forms of idiocy the yellow and blue-violet flow to the brain is almost inhibited.

Thought and emotion of a high spiritual type seem to depend largely upon the violet ray.

The awakening of the corresponding astral centre gives the power of hearing on the astral
plane, that is to say, the faculty which produces in the astral world the effect similar to that
which in the physical world we call hearing.

When the etheric centre is aroused, the man in his physical consciousness hears voices,
which sometimes make all kinds of suggestions to him. He may hear music, or other less
pleasant sounds. When fully working, it makes a man clairaudient so far as the etheric and
astral planes are concerned.

The Sanskrit name for this centre is Visuddha.

The sixth centre, that between the eyebrows, has ninety-six spokes. In Indian books,
however, it is mentioned as having only two petals, this being probably due to the fact that it
presents the appearance of being divided into halves. Of these, the one is predominantly
rose-coloured, though with a great deal of yellow in it, and the other predominantly a kind of
Between the Eyebrows Center
Function of Astral Centre: sight.
Function of Etheric Centre: Clairvoyance: Magnification.
Appearance: half' predominantly rose, with much yellow:;
half "predominantly a kind of purplish blue".
Number of "spokes" 96.

The writer has been unable to find any specific description of the source of the Prânic stream
which flows into this centre, though it is mentioned in The Inner Life, p. 449, that the purplish-
blue appearance of one half of the centre agrees closely with the colours of the special types
of vitality that vivify it. This would seem to indicate the dark blue (and violet?) ray which
passes the throat centre and proceeds to the brain.

The development of the corresponding astral centre confers the power to perceive definitely
the nature and shape of astral objects, instead of vaguely sensing their presence.

The awakening of the etheric centre cause a man to see objects, and to have various sorts
of waking visions of places or people. When just beginning to awaken, landscapes and
clouds of colour are half-perceived. When fully developed it brings about clairvoyance.

The remarkable faculty of magnification of vision, or its converse, is associated with this
centre, and will be described in the chapter on Etheric Sight.

In Sanskrit this centre is known as Ajnā.



This centre, the seventh, situated at the top of the head, is somewhat different in
construction from the other six. It is described in Indian books as the thousand-petalled lotus,
though the actual number of radiations of the primary force is 960. In addition to this, it
possesses a sort of subsidiary whirlpool or minor activity in its central portion, which has
twelve undulations of its own.
When fully alive, this chakram is perhaps the most resplendent of all, full of indescribable
chromatic effects and vibrating with almost inconceivable rapidity. The central portion is
gleaming white, flushed with gold in its heart.

The centre receives in its outer portion the violet ray which passes through the throat centre,
while in its central portion it receives the yellow ray from the heart centre.

The arousing of the corresponding astral centre rounds off and completes the astral life,
endowing a man with the perfection of his faculties.

With one type of individual, the astral chakrams corresponding to the sixth and seventh
etheric chakrams both converge upon the pituitary body, the latter organ being practically the
only direct link between the physical and higher planes.

With another type of person however, while the sixth chakram is still attached to the pituitary
body, the seventh is bent or slanted until it coincides with the atrophied organ known as the
pineal gland, which with people of this type becomes a line of direct communication with the
lower mental, without apparently passing through the intermediate astral plane in the
ordinary way. This explains the emphasis sometimes laid on the development of the pineal
Top of Head Centre

Central portion: "gleaming white, flushed with gold".
Outer portion:
"most resplendent of all, full of indescribable chromatic effects".
Number of "spokes": Central portion 12, outer portion 960.
Function of Astral Centre: perfects and completes faculties.
Function of Etheric Centre: gives continuity of consciousness.

The awakening of the etheric centre enables a man through it to leave the physical body in
full consciousness, and also to re-enter it without the usual break, so that his consciousness
will be continuous through night and day.

The real reason for tonsure, as practised by the Roman Church, was to leave uncovered the
brahmarandra chakram, so that there might be not even the slightest hindrance in the way of
psychic force which in their meditations the candidates were intended to try to arouse.


Just as the dense physical body uses up its materials, and discharges its waste products
through the five excretory organs – the skin, lungs, liver, intestines and kidneys – so does
the etheric body use up the material with which it is supplied, through physical food and the
absorption of the Vitality Globule, and discharge its waste particles in various ways.

A Chart of these discharges is appended, the results it shows being described as follows.

Through the breath and the pores of the skin are expelled both the bluish-white particles
from which the Prâna has been extracted, such particles still charged with rose-coloured
Prâna as are superfluous to the requirements of the body, and also the atoms from the blue
rays used by the throat centre.

Through the excretory organs pass the emptied atoms of the green ray, from the digestive
system, and also, in the case of the ordinary man, those of the red-orange ray.

Through the top of the head pass the atoms from the dark blue and violet rays.

In a developed person, however, who has achieved the deflection upwards of the red-orange
ray, the particles from this ray are discharged through the top of the head. These form a fiery
cascade, frequently shown as a flame in ancient statues of Buddha and other saints.

Atoms which have been emptied of Prâna become once more precisely like any other atoms.
Some of them are absorbed by the body and enter into the various combinations which are
constantly being made, while others which are not required are thrown off through any
convenient channel.

N.B. Some of the particles, when depleted of vitality, are used up for
building or nourishing the Etheric Body.
In addition to the above, the matter of the Etheric Double itself is also constantly being
thrown out of the body through the pores of the skin, just as is gaseous matter. Consequently
persons who are near one another are liable to absorb each other‟s etheric emanations.

The radiation of etheric matter is strongest from the ends of the fingers and toes: hence great
importance of scrupulous cleanliness in these parts of the body: a person with dirt under the
finger nails, for example, is continually pouring forth a stream of unhealthy influence into the
etheric world.

The physical emanations of the body, consisting largely of finely-divided salts, appear to
clairvoyant sight as multitudes of tiny forms, such as dice, stars, and double pyramids. The
character of these tiny particles may be affected by loss of health, by a wave of emotion, or
even a definite train of thought. In this connection Professor Gates is reported as saying (a)
that the material emanations of the living body differ according to the states of the mind as
well as the conditions of physical health; (b) that these emanations can be tested by the
chemical reactions of some salts of selenium; (c) that these reactions are characterised by
various tints or colours according to the nature of the mental impressions; (d) that forty
different emotion-products, as he calls them, have already been obtained.


For the convenience and ready reference of the student, a summary of the processes
described –
Distribution Chart

Function of Function of
Spo Vitality Vitality Region
No. Place Appearance Astral Etheric Centre
kes Received sent out vitalised
1 Base of 4 Fiery Orange Sex Seat of Seat of
Spine orange-red and red, organs. Kundalini. Kundalini.
from Blood, for Kundalini goes Kundalini goes
Spleen heat of to each Centre to each Centre
Centre: " body inturn and in turn and
also vivifies it. vividies it.
2 Navel 10 Various Green Solar Feeling: Feeling astral
shades of from plexus. general influences.
red, with Spleen Liver, sensitiveness.
much green Centre Kidneys,
3 Spleen 6 Radiant and Vitalises Astral Vitalises
sun-like Violet- Body. Power to Physical Body.
" " travel Memory of
blue to
consciously. astral journeys.
to Solar
Rose, to
Red, to
Base of
4 Heart 12 Glowing Yellow, Yellow Heart Comprehension Consciousness
golden from to of Astral of feelings of
Spleen Blood, Vibrations others
Centre. Brain
of Top
of Head
5 Throat 16 Silvery and Violet- Dark Hearing Etheric and
gleaming blue, blue, to Astral hearing.
with much from Lower
blue. Spleen and
Centre Central
part of
Top of
6 Between 96 Half: Rose, Sight Clairvoyance.
eyebrows with much Magnification.
yellow. ' " "
7 Top of 12 Centre: Yellow, Perfects and Continuity of
Head gleaming from completes consciousness.
" "
960 white and Heart faculties
gold Centre.
Outer part: Violet,
full of from
indescribable Throat
chromatic Centre
9 Not used in "white magic".
Orange Orange, through Spinal Column, to
and red, Brain: becomes yellow and stimulaes
In from intellect.
Developed Spleen Dark red, through Spinal Column to
1 Person 4 Centre, Brain: becomes crimson and stimulates
Base of and affection.
Spine some Dark purple,through Spinal Column, to
dark Brain: becomes pale violet and stimulates
purple spirituality.
Diagram XIII
Chapters II to XI, is given in the tabular statement appended.

The same information is also given in the form of a Distribution Chart, which gives a
synthesis of these processes in graphic form, from the emanation of Prâna from the sun to
the discharge from the body of the particles from which the Prâna has been extracted.

In a still further diagram is shown an outline of the human body with the approximate position
of the etheric centres, the streams of vitality and other useful information.

As we have already seen, Kundalini, or the Serpent-Fire, is one of the forces which emanate
from the sun, and is entirely separate and distinct from both Fohat and Prâna, being so far as
is known, incapable of being converted into any form of these other forces.

Kundalini has been variously called the Serpent-Fire, the Fiery Power, and the World‟s
Mother. To clairvoyant vision it appears in very truth like liquid fire as it rushed through the
body, and the course through which it ought to move is a spiral one like the coils of a
serpent. The name of the World‟s Mother is appropriate because through it our various
vehicles may be vivified.

An ancient symbol of the spinal column and Kundalini is that of the thyrsus, which is a staff
with a pine cone on its top. In India the same symbol is found, but instead of the staff a stick
of bamboo with seven knots is used, the knots of course representing the seven chakrams or
force centres. In some modifications of the mysteries a hollow iron rod, said to contain fire,
was used instead of the thyrsus. It is said that the modern barber‟s pole, which is certainly a
very ancient symbol, with its spiral bands and a knob at the end, has a similar significance,
the modern barber being descended from the ancient chirurgeons or surgeons, who also
practised alchemy, a science originally spiritual rather than material.

Kundalini exists on all planes of which we know anything, and it also appears to have seven
layers of degrees of force.

The astral body originally was an almost inert mass, with only the vaguest consciousness,
with no definite power of doing anything, and no clear knowledge of the world which
surrounds it. Kundalini was then awakened at the astral level, in the centre corresponding to
the base of the spine centre. It moved to the second centre, near the navel, and vivified it,
thereby awakening in the astral body the power of feeling, of sensitiveness without definite

Kundalini then passed to the third (spleen), fourth (heart), fifth (throat), sixth (eyebrows) and
seventh (top of the head) centre in turn, awakening in each the various powers already
described in previous chapters.

The mechanism by means of which we become aware of astral happenings is interesting

and should be clearly grasped by the student. Although in the physical body we have special
organs, each located in a definite and fixed part of the body, for seeing, hearing, and the
rest, an entirely different arrangement is made in the astral body, specialised organs not
being necessary for the attainment of the result aimed at.

The matter of the astral body is in a condition of constant movement, the particles flowing
and swirling about like those of boiling water, and all of them pass in turn through each of the
force-centres. Each of these centres then has the power of evoking from the particles of the
astral body the ability to respond to a certain set of vibrations, corresponding to what in the
physical world we call vibrations of light, sound, heat, and so forth. When therefore, the astral
centres are vivified and in working order, they confer these various powers on the whole of
the matter of the astral body, so that the latter is enabled to exercise its powers in every part
of itself. Consequently a man functioning in his astral body can see equally well objects in
front of him, behind, above and below. The chakrams or centres, therefore, cannot be
described as organs of sense in the ordinary sense of that term, though they do convey the
powers of sense to the astral body.
But even when these astral senses are fully awake, it by no means follows that the man will
be able to bring into his physical body any consciousness of their action. He may in fact, in
his physical consciousness know nothing whatever of it. The only way in which the
consciousness of these astral experiences can be brought into the physical brain is by
means of the corresponding etheric centres which must first be awakened and made active.

The method of awakening is precisely similar to that adopted in the astral body, i.e.., by
arousing Kundalini, which lies dormant in etheric matter in the centre near the base of the

The arousing is achieved by a determined and long-continued effort of the will, bringing the
centre at the base of the spine into activity being, in fact, precisely the awakening of
Kundalini. When once this is aroused, it is by its tremendous force that the other centres are
vivified in turn. The effect on the centres is to bring into the physical consciousness the
powers which were aroused by the development of the corresponding astral centres.

In order to bring about these results, however, it is necessary that the serpent-fire move to
the chakrams in a certain order, and in a certain way, which varies with different types of
people. Occultists who understand these matters from firsthand knowledge are always
exceedingly careful to give no clue to the order in which the serpent-fire should be passed
through the centres. The reason for this is on account of the very serious dangers, the
gravity of which can scarcely be exaggerated, awaiting those who arouse Kundalini
accidentally or prematurely. The most solemn warnings are uttered against attempting
anything of the kind until the time is fully ripe and unless under the guidance of a Master or
an experienced occultist.

Before Kundalini is aroused it is absolutely essential that a definite stage of moral purity be
reached and also that the will be strong enough to control the force. Some of the dangers
connected with the serpent-fire are purely physical. Its uncontrolled movement often
produces intense physical pain, and it may readily tear tissues and even destroy physical life.
It may also do permanent injury to vehicles higher than the physical.

One very common effect of arousing it prematurely is that it rushes downwards into the lower
centres of the body instead of upwards, resulting in the excitation of the most undesirable
passions, which are apt to be intensified to such a degree that it is quite impossible for the
man to resist them. In the grip of such a force he is as helpless as a swimmer in the jaws of a
shark. Such men become satyrs, monsters of depravity, being at the mercy of a force out of
all proportion to the human power of resistance. It is probable that they will attain certain
supernormal powers, but these will serve only to bring them into contact with subhuman
beings with which humanity is intended to hold no commerce, and to escape from this
thraldom may take more than one incarnation. There is a school of black magic which
purposely uses this power in this way, but the lower force-centres which in this school are
used are always left severely alone by followers of the Good Law or White Magic.

The premature unfoldment of Kundalini intensifies also everything in the nature, reaching in
fact the lower evil qualities more readily than the good. Ambition, for example, in the mental
body is very readily aroused and grows to an inordinate degree. Together with great
intensification of intellectual power there comes abnormal and satanic pride. The force of the
Kundalini is no ordinary force, but something resistless. If an uninstructed man has the
misfortune to arouse it, he should at once consult someone who fully understands such
matters. As the Hathayogapradipika says, “It gives liberation to Yogis and bondage to fools”.

There are some cases where Kundalini wakes spontaneously, so that a dull glow is felt: it
may even, though rarely, begin to move of itself. In this case it would probably cause severe
pain, as, since the passages are not prepared for it, it would have to clear its way by actually
burning up a great deal of etheric dross, a process necessarily painful. In such cases the
force would usually rush up the interior of the spine, instead of following the spiral course into
which the occultist is trained to guide it. An effort of will should be made, if possible, to arrest
such an upward rush, but if that proves to be impossible, as is most likely, it will probably
rush out through the head and escape into the atmosphere probably doing no harm further
than causing a slight weakening. It may also cause a temporary loss of consciousness. The
really serious dangers, however, are connected, not with the upward, but with the downward

As already briefly mentioned, the principal function of Kundalini in occult development is to

pass through the etheric force centres and vivify these so that they bring through into the
physical consciousness astral experiences. Thus The Voice of The Silence teaches that a
vivification in this manner of the eyebrows centre enables one to hear the voice of the
Master, that is, of the Ego or Higher Self. The explanation of this is that the pituitary body
when fully working affords a perfect link between astral and physical consciousness.

The mastery of Kundalini has to be repeated in each incarnation, because in each life the
bodies are new, but after it has once been thoroughly achieved, repetition becomes an easy

The formation of the link between the physical consciousness and that of the Ego has its
correspondences also at higher levels, meaning for the Ego a link with the consciousness of
the Monad , and for the Monad a link with the consciousness of the Logos.

Age does not appear to affect the development of the chakrams by means of Kundalini, but
health is a necessity, as only a strong body could endure the strain.

We have already seen that there is a very close connection between the chakrams in the
astral body and those in the Etheric Double. Between these two sets of centres, and
interpenetrating them in a manner not easy to describe, there is a web or sheath, composed
of a single layer of physical atoms, closely woven, much compressed, and permeated with a
special variety of Prâna. The Prâna which normally comes from the astral into the physical is
such that it can pass with perfect ease through the atomic shield, but the latter is an absolute
barrier to all other forces which cannot use the atomic matter of both planes.
The Atomic Shield
Function of Shield: To prevent astral influences from
prematurely entering physical consciousness.
Ways of injuring the shield: - (1) Emotion shock, e.g.,
fear, anger. (2) Alcohol. (3) Narcotic drugs, e.g.,
tobacco. (4) "Sitting for development".
The shield is thus a protection provided by nature to prevent premature opening up of
communication between the astral and physical planes. Were it not for this wise provision, all
kinds of astral experiences might pour into the physical consciousness where, in the case of
most men, they could be productive of nothing but harm.

At any moment an astral entity might introduce forces which ordinary man would be quite
unprepared to meet, and which would be entirely beyond his strength to cope with. A man
would be liable to obsession by any astral entity who desired to seize his vehicle.

The atomic shield thus serves as an effective safeguard against these undesirable
happenings. It also serves under normal conditions to prevent clear recollection of the sleep
life from reaching the physical brain consciousness; and it accounts for the momentary
unconsciousness which always occurs at death. Occasionally the returning astral body
succeeds in making a momentary impression on the Etheric Double and dense body, so that
when the latter awake there is a touch of vivid memory. This usually quickly vanishes, effort
to recall it rendering success more impossible, as each effort sets up physical brain
vibrations which tend to overpower the subtler astral vibrations.

It is clear, therefore, that any injury to the shield is a serious disaster. Such injury may occur
in several ways. Any emotional shock, or any strong emotion of an evil character, which
produces a kind of explosion in the astral body, may produce such an effect, rending apart
the delicate web and, as we say, driving the man mad. A terrible fright may do this, or an
outburst of anger.

Sitting for development, as spiritualists call the process, may also injure the web and throw
open the doors which nature intended to keep closed.

Certain drugs, notably alcohol and all the narcotics, of which tobacco is one, contain matter
which on breaking up volatilises, some of it passing from the physical to the astral state.
Students of dietetics, especially those who have studied the effect of toxins, will be interested
to learn that even tea and coffee contain the class of material described, though in quantities
so small that only after long-continued abuse of them would the effect manifest itself. When
this takes place, these constituents rush out through the chakrams in the direction opposite
to that for which they are intended, and after doing this repeatedly they injure and finally
destroy the delicate web.

There are only two ways in which this deterioration or destruction may be brought about,
according to the type of person concerned and the proportion of the constituents in his
etheric and astral bodies. In the first type the rush of volatilising matter actually burns away
the web, and thus breaks down nature‟s barrier.

In the second type the volatile constituents harden the atom, checking and crippling its
pulsations, so that it can no longer carry the special form of Prâna which welds it into the
web. The web thus becomes as it were ossified so that instead of too much coming through
from one plane to another, we have very little of any kind coming through.

The two types are readily recognisable. In the former case we have instances of delirium
tremens, obsession, and certain forms of insanity. In the latter case, which is by far the more
common, we notice a general deadening of the higher feelings and qualities, resulting in
materialism, brutality, animalism, and loss of self-control. It is well know that those who
indulge excessively in narcotics, such as tobacco, will persist in their self-indulgence even at
the expense of the pain or discomfort of their neighbours. Their finer susceptibilities have to
that extent become blunted.

As the consciousness of the ordinary man cannot normally use atomic matter, either physical
or astral, there is normally no possibility of conscious communication between the two
planes. As, however, he purifies his vehicles, he becomes able to function in the atomic
matter and then is able to carry his consciousness along a direct road from one atomic level
to another. In this case the atomic web fully retains its position and activity, permitting the
consciousness to pass form one plane to another, while at the same time fulfilling its purpose
of preventing close contact with those lower sub-planes from which many kinds of
undesirable influences are liable to come.

The only safe way, therefore, for genuine students of occultism, is not to force in any way the
development of psychic powers, but to wait for these to unfold, as they will unfold, in the
normal course of evolution. By this way all the benefits will be obtained and the dangers


It will now be useful to study the Etheric Double in its connection with the birth and death of
the physical body.

Those who have studied the mechanism of reincarnation will be familiar with the fact that, in
the case of the etheric body, a factor comes into play which does not operate in the case of
the astral or mental bodies. The Etheric Double is actually built in advance for the incoming
Ego, by an elemental which is the joint thought-form of the four Devarājas, each of whom
presides over one of the four etheric sub-planes of physical matter. The primary business of
this building elemental is to construct the etheric mould into which the physical particles of
the new baby-body are to be built.

The form and colour of this elemental vary in different cases. At first it accurately expresses
in shape and size the infant body it has to build; clairvoyants sometimes see this doll-like
figure hovering about, and afterwards within, the body of the mother, and have occasionally
mistaken it for the soul of the coming baby instead of the mould of its physical body.

As soon as the fœtus has grown to the size of the mould, and is ready for birth, the form of
the next stage at which it has to aim is unfolded – the size, shape and condition of the body
as it is to be, so far as the work of the elemental is concerned, at the time when it proposes
to leave it. After the elemental has retired, all further growth of the body is under the control
of the Ego himself.

In both these cases the elemental uses itself as the mould. Its colours largely represent the
qualities required in the body it has to build, and its form is also usually that destined for it.
As soon as its work is done, there is no power left to hold together its particles and the
elemental disintegrates.

In determining the quality of etheric matter to be used in building the etheric body, we have
two things to consider: first, the type of matter, regarded from the point of view of the seven
Rays or vertical divisions, and secondly, the quality of matter, regarded from the point of view
of its coarseness or fineness, or horizontal divisions. The former, the ray-type, is determined
by the physical permanent atom, which has the type and subtype impressed upon it. The
latter is determined by the past karma of the man, the building elemental being charged with
the production of the type of physical body suited to the man‟s requirements. The elemental,
in fact, consists of that portion of the (prârabda) karma of the individual which is to express
itself in the physical body. On the selection made by the building elemental depends, for
example, whether the body will be naturally clever or stupid, placid or irritable, energetic or
lethargic, sensitive or unresponsive.The potentialities of heredity are latent in the maternal
ovum and the paternal spermatozoon, and from these the elemental makes his selection
according to the requirements of the case.

Although the elemental in charge of the body from the first, the Ego only comes into contact
with his future habitation later, some time before physical birth. If the characteristics the
elemental has to impose are few in number, it is able to withdraw early and leave the Ego in
full control of the body. Where however, much time is required to develop the limitations
needed, the elemental may retain its position until the body is seven years old.

Etheric matter for the infant body is taken from the body of the mother; hence the importance
of the latter supplying her body with only the purest materials. Unless the elemental is
charged with some special development in the way of features, such as unusual beauty or
the reverse, the principal agency at work in this direction will be the thoughts of the mother
and the thought-forms which float around her.

The new astral body comes into connection with the Etheric Double at a very early stage,
and exercises considerable influence over its formation, the mental body also working
through it upon the nervous organisation.


We have previously seen that, under certain conditions, the Etheric Double may be
separated from the dense body, though it is always connected with it by a thread or cord of
etheric matter. At death the double finally withdraws from the dense body and may be seen
as a violet mist, gradually condensing into a figure which is the counterpart of the expiring
person and attached to the dense body by a glistening thread. This thread or magnetic cord
is snapped at the moment of death.
As the buddhic life-web, accompanied by Prâna, disentangles itself from dense physical
matter at death, it draws itself together in the heart round the permanent atom. The atom,
web and Prâna then rise along the secondary Sushumna-nadî into the third ventricle of the
brain, thence to the point of junction of the parietal and occipital sutures, and finally out of the
body. The life-web remains enshrouding the physical permanent atom, in the causal body,
until the time comes for a new physical body to be built.

The withdrawal of the Etheric Double, and with it of course Prâna, destroys the integral unity
of the physical body, thus leaving it merely as a collection of independent cells. The Life of
the separate cells themselves continues, as evidenced by the well known fact that hairs on a
corpse will sometimes continue to grow.

The moment the Etheric Double withdraws, and consequently Prâna ceases to circulate, the
lower lives, i.e., the cells, run rampant and begin to break down the hitherto definitely
organised body. The body is thus never more alive than when it is dead: but it is alive in its
units, and dead in its totality ; alive as a congeries, dead as an organism. As Eliphas Levi
says: “The corpse would not decompose if it were dead; all the molecules which compose it
are living and struggle to separate.” (Isis Unveiled, I, 480).

When the double finally quits the dense body, it does not go far away but usually floats over
it. In this condition it is known as the wraith, and sometimes appears to those with whom it is
closely bound up as a cloudy figure, very dully conscious and speechless. Unless disturbed
by tumultuous distress or violent emotion, the state of consciousness is dreamy and

It is during the withdrawal of the double, as well as afterwards, that the whole of the man‟s
past life passes swiftly in review before the Ego, every forgotten nook and corner of the
memory yielding up its secrets, picture by picture, event by event. In these few seconds the
Ego lives over again his whole life, seeing his successes and failures, loves and hatreds: he
perceives the predominant tendency of the whole, and the ruling thought of the life asserts
itself, marking the region in which the chief part of the post-mortem life will be spent. As the
Kaushitakopanishat describes it, at death Prâna gathers everything together and,
withdrawing from the body, hands everything onwards to the Knower, who is the receptacle
of all.

This stage is usually followed by a brief period of peaceful unconsciousness, due to the
withdrawal of the etheric matter and its entanglement with the astral body, thus preventing
the man from functioning either in the physical or the astral world. Some men shake
themselves free from the etheric envelope in a few moments; others rest within it for hours,
days, or even weeks, though usually the process does not take longer than a few hours.

As the days pass, the higher principles gradually disengage themselves from the double, and
the latter then becomes in its turn an etheric corpse, which remains near the dense one, both
disintegrating together. These etheric wraiths are often seen in churchyards, sometimes as
violet or bluish-white mists or lights, but often presenting an unpleasant appearance as they
pass through various stages of decomposition.

One of the great advantages of cremation is that by destroying the dense body, the etheric
body also loses its nidus and so rapidly disintegrates.

If a man is so misguided as to wish to cling to the physical life, and even to his own corpse,
the preservation of the dead body, either by burial or embalming, offers a distinct temptation
to him to do so, and immensely facilitates his unfortunate purpose. Cremation entirely
prevents any attempt at partial and unnatural temporary reunion of the principles. In addition,
there are certain unpleasant forms of black magic, fortunately rare in Western countries at
least, which make use of the decaying physical body; the etheric body of a dead person may
also be similarly used in a variety of ways.All of these possibilities are avoided by the
wholesome practice of cremation. It is quite impossible for a dead person to feel the effects
of the fire on his discarded body, for, so long as it is death, the astral and etheric matter
have been completely separated from the dense physical.

Although it is quite impossible for a dead person to get back entirely into his dead body, yet,
in the case of one who knows nothing beyond purely physical life and is crazy with fear at
being entirely cut off from it, it is possible for him, in his frantic effort to keep in touch with
physical life, to get hold of the etheric matter of the discarded body and drag it about with
him. This may be the cause of considerable suffering, entirely unnecessary, and easily
avoided by the practice of cremation.

In the case of people who cling desperately to physical existence, the astral body cannot
altogether separate from the etheric, and they awaken still surrounded by etheric matter. The
condition is very unpleasant, as such a person would be shut out from the astral world by the
shell of etheric matter, and at the same time the loss of physical sense organs prevents him
from coming fully in touch with earth life. Consequently he drifts about, lonely and dumb and
terrified, in a thick and gloomy fog, unable to hold intercourse with either plane.

In process of time the etheric shell wears out, in spite of his struggles, though usually not
until after he has suffered intensely. Kindly people among the dead, and others, endeavour
to help the class of person described, but seldom with success.

Sometimes a person in this condition may endeavour to get in touch once again with the
physical plane through a medium, though usually the medium‟s “spirit guides” sternly forbid
them access, knowing that the medium runs the risk of being obsessed or
maddened.Occasionally an unconscious medium – usually a sensitive young girl – may be
seized upon, but the attempt can be successful only if the girl‟s Ego has weakened his hold
on his vehicles by indulging in undesirable thoughts and passions. Occasionally also a
human soul wandering in this grey world may succeed in partially obsessing an animal,
those most commonly seized upon being the less developed – cattle, sheep or swine, though
cats and dogs or monkeys may also be used in this way.This appears to be the modern, i.e..,
Fifth Race, substitute for the awful life of the vampire, found in Fourth Race peoples. Once
entangled with an animal, it is possible to disentangle oneself only gradually and by
considerable effort, extending probably for many days. Freedom usually comes only at the
death of the animal, and even then there remains an astral entanglement to shake off.

We have already seen that a man in vigorous health is continually throwing off from his body
vital emanations which may be absorbed by others. In this way the latter will be
strengthened, and minor illnesses may be cured, or, at least, recovery expedited.

As, however, the currents of Prâna are amenable to the will, it is possible for a man
consciously to direct the streams of vitality which pour out of him, as well as greatly to
augment their natural flow. By directing the currents on to a patient who is depleted of
strength, owing to the fact that his spleen is not doing its work properly, considerable help
towards recovery may be given, the additional vitality poured in by the healer keeping the
patient‟s bodily machinery working until it is sufficiently recovered to manufacture supplies of
Prâna itself.
The healing of the weak by the strong may thus be achieved, in certain cases, merely by
physical proximity, the process being either entirely unconscious and automatic, or it may be
assisted and expedited to almost any extent by conscious effort. Much benefit may often be
given merely by pouring into the patient copious streams of vitality, which will flood the
patient‟s system with vitalising energy; or the operator may direct the flow to the particular
portion of the body which is out of health. Merely to increase the circulation of Prâna is
sufficient to cure many minor diseases. All nervous diseases imply a jangled condition of the
Etheric Double, and that is also the cause of digestive troubles and sleeplessness.
Headaches are usually caused by congestion, either of blood or of the vital fluid, sometimes
called magnetism. A strong current directed by the healer through the head of the sufferer
will wash away the congested matter and the headache will disappear.

These methods are comparatively simple and by no means difficult to apply, though a skilful
healer, especially if clairvoyant, can improve on them enormously. One such improvement,
which demands some knowledge of anatomy and physiology, is to make a mental picture of
the diseased organ, and then image it as it should be in health. The strong thought will mould
etheric matter into the desired form, which will help nature to build us new tissues much
more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.

A still more thorough method is to create the organ in mental matter: then to build into it
astral matter: then to densify it with etheric matter: and finally to build into the mould gases,
liquids and solids, utilising materials available in the body and supplying from outside an

A methodical and effective way to set to work to heal magnetically is as follows: The patient
assumes a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and is instructed to relax as
thoroughly as possible. A very convenient method is for the patient to sit in an easy chair,
with solid flat arms, the operator sitting sideways on the arms and thus slightly above the
patient. The operator then makes passes with his hands over the patient‟s body, or over that
portion of it which he proposes to treat magnetically, making an effort of will to withdraw from
the patient the congested or diseased etheric matter. These passes may be made without
actually touching the patient, though it is often an assistance to lay the whole hand on the
skin gently and lightly.After each pass the operator must take care to throw off from himself
the etheric matter he has withdrawn, otherwise some of it may remain in his own system and
he may presently find himself suffering from a complaint similar to that of which he has cured
his patient. Many cases of this kind are on record; thus, an operator may remove pain from a
patient‟s tooth, or elbow, only to find himself presently suffering from toothache or pain in the
elbow. In some cases, where repeated treatments are given, an operator who neglects to
throw off the diseased matter which he has extracted may make himself seriously ill and
even become a chronic sufferer.

A.P.Sinnett gives a curious case of a lady who was cured of chronic rheumatism and then
went to live in a part of Europe other than that in which the mesmeric operator resided. Four
years afterwards the operator died, and the old rheumatic trouble at once returned to the
lady with its former virulence. In this case, it would seem that the unhealthy magnetism which
the operator had withdrawn from the patient, but had not destroyed, had for years been
hanging around the aura of the operator, and on his death, had at once flown back to where
it originally belonged.

Usually it is sufficient to jerk the hands sharply downwards and away from oneself, or the
magnetism may be thrown into a basin of water, the water afterwards of course being thrown
away. The process may be assisted after this preliminary portion of the treatment is
completed by washing the hands in water before commencing the next and more positive
part of the treatment.
It is also said to be possible to direct the unhealthy magnetism to certain classes of
elementals, where it will find its appropriate sphere. The Bible parable of the herd of swine
may well be an allegorical description of the process. It would certainly seem to be preferable
for something of this kind to be done than for the unhealthy magnetism to be left floating
about near the aura either of the healer or of others who may happen to be near.

A slight variation of the above method, especially useful in the case of local congestion, is to
place the hands, one on either side of the affected area, and to direct a stream of cleansing
magnetism from the right hand to the left hand, this magnetism driving out the patient‟s
congested material.

The way having been prepared, the next stage is to pour into the patient one‟s own
magnetic fluid and Prâna. This is done by making similar passes, though this time with a
strong effort of will to pour out one‟s own force into the patient. This, as before, may be done
by means of long sweeping passes over the whole body, or by shorter passes over a special
area: or again, the two hands may be used, the current being passed from the right hand to
the left, through the area that is being treated.

The student will readily recognise the desirability of the healer being himself perfectly
healthy, because otherwise he is liable to pour into the patient some of his own unhealthy

It should be noted that in magnetic healing clothing is somewhat of a barrier, silk being in this
respect the worst. The minimum possible, therefore, according to circumstances, should be
worn by the patient.

From the fact that certain forms of insanity are due to defects in the etheric brain, its particles
not corresponding perfectly with the denser physical particles and thus being unable to bring
through properly vibrations from the higher vehicles, we may surmise that such cases might
lend themselves to cure by magnetic treatment.

There are, of course, other methods of affecting the etheric body, because the connection
between mental, astral and etheric bodies is so close that any one of the three may affect
any of the others.

Generally speaking, it may be said that anything which promotes physical health also reacts
favourably on the higher vehicles. Unused muscles, for example, not only tend to deteriorate,
but produce a congestion of magnetism: this means a weak place in the Etheric Double,
through which unpleasant germs, such as those of infection, may enter.

Similarly, mental or astral ill-health will almost surely, sooner or later, be reflected as physical
disease. A person who is astrally “fussy”. i.e.., who allows his astral body to fritter away his
strength on petty little emotions, troubles and worries, not only is apt to produce unpleasant
and disturbing effects on the astral bodies of other sensitive persons, but frequently the
perpetual astral disturbance reacts through the etheric upon the dense physical body, and all
sorts of nervous diseases are produced.

Nearly all nerve troubles, for example, are the direct result of unnecessary worry and
emotion, and would soon disappear if the patient could be taught to hold his vehicles still and
peaceful. Magnetic healing blends almost imperceptibly into mesmerism, which we shall
therefore now proceed to examine.

The student should recognise the perfectly clear and definite distinction between hypnotism
and mesmerism. Hypnotism, derived from the Greek hypnos, meaning sleep, stands literally
for the art of putting to sleep. It usually results from a nervous paralysis brought about by a
slight strain either to the nerves of the eye or in some other way. It is not, in itself, an
injurious state to be in, though it may of course be turned to ends either good or bad. It
frequently makes the subject insensible to pain, and it may give the system a rest which may
be highly beneficial. It is primarily a self-induced condition: its main result is that it usually
places the subject to a greater or lesser extent under the control of the operator who, within
certain limits which vary according to the nature and character of the subject and the degree
of the hypnosis as well as the power and skill of the operator, may be compelled to do what
the operator wishes.

Mesmerism depends upon quite a different principle. The word itself is derived from
Frederick Mesmer (1734-1815) a doctor of Vienna, who, towards the end of the eighteenth
century, discovered that he could effect cures by means of influences proceeding from the
hand, to which he gave the name “animal magnetism”. The essence of Mesmerism is that
the operator drives out or forces back the patient‟s own magnetism or vital fluid, and replaces
it with his own fluid. The natural effect of this is that the patient loses all power of feeling in
that portion of his body from which his own fluid has been expelled. We have previously seen
that the power of feeling depends on the transmission of contacts to the astral centres,
through the matter of the Etheric Double. When therefore, the etheric matter is removed, the
connection between the dense physical body and the astral body is broken, and
consequently there can be no sensation experienced.

The withdrawal of the vital fluid does not in any way interfere with the circulation of the blood,
for the portion of the body concerned remains warm.

It is thus possible to drive out a patient‟s own etheric matter from, say an arm or a leg, so
that complete anæsthesia in the limb results. The mesmeric process being in such a case
purely local, the patient will retain full normal consciousness in the brain; all that happens is
that a local anæsthetic has been applied to the limb concerned. Under such mesmeric
anæsthetic surgical operations, both major and minor, have been performed. Perhaps the
best known collection of such operations is recorded in the book Mesmerism in India, first
published in 1842, by Dr. Esdaile. Another surgeon, one Dr. Elliotson, also performed large
numbers of operations under mesmeric anæthesia in London about three-quarters of a
century ago. At this time chloroform was unknown, and every operating room was a torture
chamber.Graphic and interesting accounts of the work of these two pioneers may be found in
The Rationale of Mesmerism, by A. P. Sinnett, a book strongly recommended to the student.

The mesmeric process may be pushed further, to the extent of driving out the subject‟s own
magnetic fluid from the brain and replacing it by that of the operator. In this case, the subject
entirely loses control of his own body, and the control passes to the operator, who can then
make the subject‟s body do what the operator wishes.

An interesting consequence of replacing a subject‟s magnetic fluid by that of the operator is

that a stimulus applied to the operator may appear to be felt by the subject, or, on the other
hand, a stimulus applied to the subject may be felt by the operator.

Thus, for example, suppose that an arm has been mesmerised, the subject‟s own magnetic
fluid being replaced by that of the operator. Then if the operator‟s hand be pricked, the
subject may receive the feeling, owing to the fact that the nerve-ether of the operator has
been connected to the subject‟s brain : the subject therefore, receiving the message from the
operator‟s nerve-ether, supposes it to have come from his own nerve-ether and so responds
accordingly. This phenomenon is usually known as magnetic sympathy, and many cases
may be read of in the literature of the subject.

It is not essential to make passes with the hands in order to mesmerise. The only use of the
hands is to concentrate the fluid, and perhaps to help the imagination of the operator,
anything which assists the imagination making it easier that belief upon which the action of
the will so largely depends. A skilful mesmerist, however, can manage quite well without any
passes whatever, achieving his results merely by looking at his subject and using his will.

It would appear that the etheric mechanism of the body consists of two distinct divisions, the
one unconscious and connected with the sympathetic, the other conscious and voluntary,
and connected with the cerebro-spinal system, and that it is possible to mesmerise the latter,
but not the former. A mesmerist would not, therefore, usually be able to interfere with the
ordinary vital processes of a patient‟s body, such as breathing or the circulation of the blood.

This may, perhaps be the explanation of the statement in Theosophy that Prâna exists in two
main forms in the physical body : energising Prâna in the Etheric Double, and Automatic
Prâna in the dense body.

As in the case of magnetic healing, it is obviously eminently desirable that a mesmerist

should be physically healthy. For a healer or magnetiser pours into the patient not only
Prâna, but also his own emanations, and in this way it is possible for the operator to convey
physical disease to the subject. Further, as astral and mental matter are also thrown into the
subject, moral and mental diseases may likewise be transferred.

For similar reasons a mesmerist may thus, even unconsciously, gain great influence over his
subject – a far greater power than is generally known. Any quality of heart or mind
possessed by the mesmerist is very readily transferred to the subject, hence the avenues of
possible danger in this respect are apparent.

Mesmerism purely for curative purposes, by those who understand what they are doing and
can be trusted not to abuse their powers, has much to be said for it; but mesmerism for other
purposes is distinctly not advisable.

An advantage possessed by mesmerism over healing of disease by will is that when will-
forces are poured down into the physical, there is a danger of driving the disease back into
the subtler vehicles from which it came, thus inhibiting the final working out to the physical
plane of evil which has its origin in mind and emotion. Curative mesmerism is free from this

An interesting example of magnetic or mesmeric healing is the Buddhist Paritta or Pirit

ceremony (meaning literally “blessings”), in which the monks sit in a circle or hollow square
and hold in their hands a rope about as thick as a clothes line, from which strings run to a
large pot of water. Relays of monks recite texts from the scriptures for many days
continuously, keeping clearly in their minds the will to bless. The water becomes very highly
charged with magnetism and it is then distributed to the people, or a sick man may hold a
thread connected to the rope.

It may be noted, in passing, that it is possible to mesmerise plants and procure specific and
distinct results in stimulation of their growth. There are probably very few who practise this
consciously, at least in Western countries, though the fact that some persons have a “lucky
hand” with plants and flowers, etc., may perhaps be partially explained on the lines indicated.
A more common cause, however, of such phenomena has to do with the composition of the
etheric and other bodies and the relationship of the person to the elementals, the most
friendly to him being those whose element is preponderant in his vehicles.
Nature-spirits, possessing little sense of responsibility and wills not strongly developed, can
usually readily be dominated mesmerically, and can then be employed in many ways to carry
out the will of the magician : so long as the tasks given to them are within their powers they
will be faithfully and surely executed.
It is also possible to mesmerise persons who have recently died and who are still hovering
close about us in their astral bodies.



There are certain circumstances in which it is both permissible and desirable to form either a
shell or a shield of etheric matter, to protect oneself or other people from unpleasant
influences of various kinds.

Thus for example, in a mixed crowd there is quite likely to be present some physical
magnetism distasteful, if not positively injurious, to a student of occultism. Some persons,
also, being themselves low in vitality, have the faculty, usually unconscious, of depleting
others in their vicinity of their stores of Prâna. Provided these vampire-like people took from
others only those etheric particles which are normally expelled from the body as not needed,
no harm would be done, but often the suction is so intense that the whole circulation of
Prâna in the victim is hastened, the rose-coloured particles also being drawn out of the
system before their Prânic content has been assimilated by their owner. A capable vampire
can thus drain a person of all his strength in a few minutes.

The vampire is not appreciably benefited by the vitality of which he has robbed others,
because his own system tends to dissipate what he acquires without proper assimilation. A
person in this condition needs mesmeric treatment, strictly limited quantities of Prâna being
supplied to him, until the elasticity of his etheric double is restored, so that both the suction
and the leakage cease. The leakage of vitality takes place through every pore of the body
rather than through any one portion of it.

In certain abnormal cases another entity may attempt to seize and obsess the physical
bodies of others. Or, again, it may be necessary to sleep, e.g.., in a railway carriage, in
close proximity with people of the vampire type or whose emanations are coarse and
undesirable ; or the student may have to visit persons or places where disease is rampant.

Some people are so sensitive that they are apt to reproduce in their own bodies the
symptoms of others who are weak and diseased ; others, again, suffer considerably from the
incessant play of the multiplex vibrations of a noisy city.

In all these cases an etheric shell may be utilised with advantage to protect oneself. It is
important to note, however, that an etheric shell which keeps out etheric matter will also keep
it in, and that therefore one‟s own etheric emanations, many of which are poisonous, will be
kept within the shell.

The shell is made by an effort of will and imagination. It may be done in two ways. Either the
periphery of the etheric aura, which follows the shape of and is slightly larger than the
physical body, may be densified, or an ovoid shell of etheric matter may be manufactured out
of the surrounding atmosphere. The latter is preferable, though it demands a far greater
exertion of the will and a more definite knowledge of the way in which physical matter is
moulded by it.

Students who wish to guard their physical bodies during sleep by means of an etheric shell
must be careful to make the latter of etheric, not astral, matter. A case is recorded of a
student who made this mistake, with the consequence that the physical body was left entirely
unprotected, while he himself floated away in an impenetrable astral shell which permitted
nothing to pass either to or from the consciousness imprisoned within.

The formation of an etheric shell before going to sleep may be of assistance in helping the
experiences of the Ego to come through into the waking consciousness by preventing the
thoughts which are always floating in the etheric world, and constantly bombarding the
vehicles, from entering into the sleeping etheric brain and becoming mixed up with the
thoughts of that etheric brain itself.

The etheric part of the brain, being the playground of the creative imagination, takes an
active part in dreams, especially those caused by impressions from outside, or from any
internal pressure from the cerebral vessels. Its dreams are usually dramatic, for it draws on
the accumulated contents of the physical brain, and arranges, dissociates, and recombines
these after its own fancies, thus creating the lower world of dream.

The best method of remaining, whilst awake, practically impervious to the impingement of
thought from without is to keep the brain fully employed instead of leaving it idle, the door
wide open for the streams of inconsequent chaos to pour into it.

In sleep the etheric part of the brain is of course even more at the mercy of outside thought-
currents. By the means suggested above the student should be able to keep himself free
from such troubles. In some cases it is not necessary to make a shell to surround the whole
body, but merely a small local shield to guard oneself against a special contact.

Thus some sensitive people suffer acutely merely shaking hands with others. In such cases
a temporary shield of etheric matter may be formed, by an effort of will and imagination,
which will completely protect the hand and arm from the entry of a single particle charged
with undesirable magnetism.

Similar shields are used for protection against fire, though for this purpose a far greater
knowledge of practical magic is needed. Such shields of etheric matter, the thinnest layer of
which can be so manipulated as to be absolutely impervious to heat, may spread over the
hands, the feet, or over the hot stones or other substances used in fire walking ceremonies
still practised in some parts of the world. This phenomenon is occasionally seen at spiritual
séances, the sitters being enabled to handle red-hot coals with impunity.

It will, of course, be recognised that the shells and shields we have been speaking about are
purely etheric, and therefore have no effect in keeping off astral or mental influences, for
which purpose shells of the material of those planes would have to be employed; with these,
however, we are not here concerned.


A MEDIUM is an abnormally organised person in whom dislocation of the etheric and dense
bodies easily occurs. The Etheric Double, when extruded, largely supplies the physical basis
for “materialisations.”

Such materialised forms are usually strictly confined to the immediate neighbourhood of the
medium, the matter of which they are composed being subject to an attraction which is
constantly drawing it back to the body from which it came, so that if kept away from the
medium too long the figure collapses, the matter which composes it instantly rushing back to
its source.

Such forms are able to exist for a few moments only amidst the intense vibrations of brilliant

The condition of mediumship is, on the whole, dangerous, and fortunately comparatively rare
: it gives rise to such nervous strain and disturbance. When the Etheric Double is extruded,
the double itself is rent in twain; the whole of it could not be separated from the dense body
without causing death, since the life-force, or Prâna, cannot circulate without the presence of
etheric matter. Even the partial withdrawal of the double produces lethargy in the dense body
and almost suspends the vital activities : this dangerous condition is usually followed by
extreme exhaustion (see Chapter I., p. 5)

The terrible drain on the vitality, set up by a withdrawal of the means by which the Prâna is
circulated, is the reason why mediums are so often in a state of collapse after a séance, and
also why so many mediums eventually become drunkards, stimulants being taken in order to
satisfy the terrible craving for support by the sudden loss of strength.

Sir William Crookes, on page 41 of his Researches, writes : “After witnessing the painful
state of nervous and bodily prostration in which some of these experiments have left Mr.
Home – after seeing him lying in almost fainting condition on the floor, pale and speechless –
I could scarcely doubt that the evolution of psychic force is accompanied by a corresponding
drain on vital force.”

The condition closely resembles the shock which follows a surgical operation.

At a spiritual séance a clairvoyant can see the Etheric Double oozing usually out of the left
side of the medium, though sometimes from the whole surface of the body, and it is this
which often appears as the “materialised spirit”, easily moulded into various shapes by the
thoughts of the sitters, and gaining strength and vitality as the medium sinks into a deep
trance. Usually of course, this takes place without any conscious effort on the part of the
sitters : it may, however, be achieved deliberately. Thus, H.P.Blavatsky stated that during the
remarkable phenomena at the Eddy homestead she deliberately moulded the “spirit” form
which appeared into various likenesses, these being seen by the sitters present.

Although etheric matter, moulded into such “spirit” forms, is invisible to ordinary sight, it may
nevertheless be able to affect a photographic plate, the latter being sensitive to certain
wavelengths of light which leave the human eye unaffected. This is the rationale of the many
cases on record where “spirit forms” have appeared on the negative of an ordinary
photographic portrait.

In addition, to the matter of the Etheric Double of the medium, it frequently happens at
séances that etheric matter is withdrawn also from the bodies of the sitters : hence the
lassitude frequently felt by those who attend such séances.

It is only in conditions of perfect passivity that much matter can be withdrawn from the
physical body without danger to life. Although the medium is usually conscious all the time in
the background, yet any attempt to assert the individuality, or to think connectedly,
immediately weakens the materialised form , or brings it back to the “cabinet.” A sudden
shock or disturbance, or any attempt to seize the “spirit form” is apt to be in the highest
degree dangerous and may even result in death.

In addition to the extrusion of etheric matter, in many cases the dense physical matter,
probably chiefly gases and liquids, is also removed at the same time from the body of the
medium. Many cases are on record where, during a materialisation, the body of the medium
shrivelled perceptibly, the shrunken, wizened appearance of the face being said to be
singularly ghastly and unpleasant to see. By actual weighing, the physical body of the
medium has been found to be as much as 40 pounds less than normal, whilst the weight of
the materialised form has been found to be at least as much as the diminution of the
medium‟s weight, and usually more than this, presumably owing to the extraction of some
dense matter from the bodies of the sitters. In one well known case a materialised form
carried the diminished body of the medium – Mr. Eglington.

To an astral entity, who wishes to “manifest” himself or to produce some phenomenon on the
physical plane, a medium serves the purpose of providing the necessary etheric matter,
which acts as an intermediary to convey the astral forces into physical matter.

A somewhat similar process takes place when a dead drunkard, hovering about a gin-shop,
draws round himself a veil of etheric matter, in order that he may absorb the odour of the
alcohol for which he craves. Being unable to smell alcohol in the same way as we do, he
tries to induce others to become drunk, so that he may be able partially to enter their
physical bodies and obsess them, thus once more directly experiencing the taste and other
sensations he so ardently desires.

Sometimes only sufficient etheric is withdrawn from a medium to produce an etheric hand, or
even just sufficient of the fingers to hold a pencil and write, or to enable “raps” to be made,
objects to be overturned or moved, and so forth. Usually, etheric matter, as well as dense
physical matter, is withdrawn from the medium and utilised so as to cover an astral shape
just sufficiently to make the latter visible to the sitters, the form seen thus not being solid but
merely a thin film.

“Spirit” drapery, however, so usual at séances, is frequently made from the clothing of the
medium or of a sitter. The texture may be quite coarse, or exceedingly fine, finer in fact than
any product of Eastern looms. Occasionally such drapery may be removed from the séance
room, sometimes lasting for years, at other times fading away in an hour or so, or even in a
few minutes.

There can be no question that, except possibly in vary rare cases, and where every possible
precaution is taken, the practise of mediumship is harmful, and may be exceedingly
dangerous. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that by its means large numbers of people
have acquired knowledge of, or belief in, the reality of the unseen world and of the
continuance of life after death. On the other hand, it may be urged that such knowledge or
such belief could have been secured in other and less harmful ways.

A trained occultist, for example, connected with any school of “white magic”, would never
interfere with the Etheric Double of any man in order to produce a materialisation; nor would
he disturb his own if he wished to make himself visible at a distance. He would simply
condense and build into and around his astral body a sufficient quantity of the surrounding
ether to materialise it, and hold it in that form by an effort of will as long as he needed it.

Most “spirit guides” are well aware of the dangers to which their mediums are exposed, and
take every precaution in their power to protect the mediums. Even the “spirits” themselves
may occasionally suffer when, for example, a materialised form is struck or wounded, owing
to the intimate connection established between the etheric matter of the materialised form
and the astral matter of the “spirit‟s body.”

It is of course, true that no physical weapon could affect an astral body, but an injury to a
materialised form may be transmitted to the astral body by the phenomenon known as

Owing to the fact that during a materialisation matter may be borrowed from all the sitters
present as well as from the medium, a considerable intermixture of such matter may take
place, and consequently undesirable qualities or vices in any one of the sitters are liable to
react upon the others and most of all upon the medium, who is most drawn upon and is
almost certainly the most sensitive person present. Nicotine and alcohol poisoning appear to
be especially liable to produce unpleasant effects in this manner.

Mediums of low type inevitably attract eminently undesirable astral entities, who may
reinforce their own vitality at the expense of mediums and sitters. Such a “spook” may even
attach itself to any one present, who is of low development, with deplorable results.

Cases are known where some outside entity, either incarnate or excarnate, has seized upon
the body of a sleeping man and used it, perhaps in sleepwalking, for his own ends. This
would be most likely to happen with a person who is mediumistic.



In the book called The Human Atmosphere (1911), Dr. W.J.Kilner describes the
investigations he has made on the human aura by means of coloured screens. Dr. Kilner‟s
main principles and discoveries are summarised in this chapter. For further details,
especially of the manner of using the screens, the reader is referred to the book mentioned.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Kilner expressly disclaims all clairvoyant power and did not
even read accounts of the aura until over sixty of his patients had been examined. He claims
that his methods are purely physical and can be employed with success by any one who
takes the necessary pains.

The screens are thin, flat glass cells, containing dicyanin dyes in alcohol. Various colours are
employed, for different purposes, such as dark and light carmine, blue, green and yellow.

The operator looks through a dark screen at the light for half a minute or longer, and then at
the patient through a pale screen, when he finds he is able to perceive the aura. Use of the
screens appears to affect the eyes, at first temporarily and later permanently, so that after a
time the operator is able to perceive the aura even without the screens. Great care, however,
is advised in using the screens, as the eyes tend to become very painful.

A dull diffused light, from one direction only, preferably from behind the observer, should be
used, generally sufficient to enable the body to be seen distinctly. A dead black background
is usually necessary, though for some observations a white one is required. The person
being observed, should be about 12 inches in front of the background, to avoid shadows and
other optical illusions.

In addition to the coloured screens, Dr. Kilner has employed another ingenious method of
investigating the aura, which he terms that of Complimentary Colours. A band of colour, 2
inches by ¾ in., fairly well illuminated, is looked at steadily for thirty to sixty seconds. This
has the effect of fatiguing the powers of the eye to perceive that particular colour, and in
addition, the eyes are found to become abnormally sensitive to other colours.When then, the
gaze is transferred to the patient, a belt or band of complimentary colour is seen, the same
size and shape as the original strip: this “spectre” persists for some little time. In practice it is
found that colour changes in the auras produce the effect of changing the appearance of the
C.C. band. By this means, in skilful hands, a number of facts about the aura can be
ascertained, which, by means of the screens alone, would remain undetected. The colours
employed by Dr. Kilner are : -

1. Gamboge having a C.C. Prussian Blue

2. Antwerp Blue having a C.C. Gamboge
3. Carmine having a C.C. Transparent Emerald green
4. Emerald Green having a C.C. Carmine

The aura is observed to consist of three distinct parts, called by Dr. Kilner:-

1. The Etheric Double

2. The Inner Aura
3. The Outer Aura

The Etheric Double appears through the screens as a dark band adjacent to and following
exactly the contours of the body. Its width is uniform throughout and is usually from 1/16 th to
3 /16th „s of an inch. It varies in size with different people, and also with the same person
under altered conditions. It appears to be quite transparent and distinctly striated, with very
delicate lines of a beautiful rose colour, these appearing to tint the portions between the
striations. The rose colour certainly contains more blue than there is carmine. It seems
probable that the lines are self-luminous. Up to the present no attributes or changes in the
Etheric Double have been found which are likely to be a help in diagnosis.

The Inner Aura commences from the outer edge of the Etheric Double, though frequently it
appears to touch the body itself. It is usually of a uniform width of 2 to 4 inches throughout,
though sometimes slightly narrower down the limbs, and follows the contours of the body. It
is relatively wider in children than in adults. Its structure is granular, the granules being
exceedingly fine and so arranged as to appear striated. The striæ are parallel to one another,
being at right angles to the body, and in bundles, the longest in the centre and the shortest
on the outside, with a rounded margin. The bundles are massed together, thus creating a
crenated outline of the aura. The striæ have not been observed to possess any colour. In ill-
health they are less apparent.

The Inner Aura is the densest portion of the aura proper. It is usually more distinctly marked
and broader in persons in robust physical health.

The Outer Aura commences from the outer edge of the Inner Aura and, unlike the Inner
Aura, varies in size considerably. Round the head it extends usually about 2 inches beyond
the shoulders: by the sides and back of the trunk it is about 4 or 5 inches wide, in front of the
body it is a little narrower. It follows closely the contours of the body, being sometimes a little
narrower down the lower limbs. Around the arms it corresponds to that encircling the legs,
but is generally broader round the hands and frequently projects a long distance from the
finger tips. The outline is not absolutely sharp, but gradually vanishes into space. The Outer
Aura appears structureless and non-luminous. The inner portion of the Outer Aura has
larger granules than the outer portions, the different sizes graduating imperceptibly into one
The auras of boys and girls up to the age of about twelve or thirteen appear similar except
that the texture of the female aura is usually finer than that of the male. From adolescence
onwards the male and female auras become distinctive : in both, however, considerable
peculiarities occur. The female aura is usually much wider at the sides of the body, the
maximum width being at the waist, and it is also wider at the back than at the front, the
widest part being at the small of the back, where frequently it bulges out.

Dr. Kilner considers that a form approximating to an egg-shaped oval is the most perfect,
deviations from this being due to undevelopment. Fineness and transparency may be
considered indications of a higher type of aura.

Children have auras relatively broader in proportion to their height than adults. Children also,
especially males, have an Inner Aura almost as wide as the Outer, so that it may be difficult
to differentiate the two.

Persons of intelligence usually have larger auras than those of low intellect. This is especially
marked round the head. The more grey there is in the aura, the more dull or mentally
affected is the owner.

Sometimes an exceedingly faint haze can be seen extending outwards a very long distance
beyond the Outer Aura. This has been observed only where the aura is unusually extensive,
and it appears probable that it is a continuation of the Outer Aura. Dr. Kilner calls this the
Ultra Outer Aura.

Bright patches, rays or streams have been observed, emanating from various parts of the
body. Sometimes they appear and disappear rapidly, at other times they persist. Patches
never seem to be coloured : rays are usually colourless, though occasionally tinted with
different hues. Where they occur the aura usually becomes denser.

There are three varieties :-

First : - Rays or Patches, lighter than the surrounding aura, entirely separated from but close
to the body, appearing in and enveloped by the aura itself. In their most common form they
are elongated, their long axes parallel with the body. Their sides are usually distinct, exactly
coincident with the edge of the Inner Aura, but the ends, usually contracted and less bright,
often fade into the adjacent aura.

The Inner Aura within the Ray usually, but not always, loses its striated appearance, and
becomes granular. The longer the Ray persists the coarser become the granules.

Second :- Rays emanating from one part of the body and running to another part, not very
distant. These Rays are usually the most brilliant. They may be perceived running, e.g., from
the body to an arm, or, if the arm be bent, from the armpit to the wrist.

If the observer holds his hand near the patient, the auras of both almost invariably become
brighter locally, and in a short time a complete Ray will be formed between the hand and the
nearest part of the patient. Such Rays are formed more easily between points than between

In one instance a Ray from the hand of one person to that of another was a bright yellow,
changing to a liquid ruby colour.

Third :- Rays projecting at right angles from the body into space, brighter than and as far as,
or even beyond, the Outer Aura. The sides of the Rays are usually, though not always,
parallel, and rarely fan-shaped; the ends become pointed and fade away, especially when
issuing from the tips of the fingers.

Rays have never been observed other than straight. Their normal direction is perpendicular
to the body, but they may take any direction, as, for example, when flowing from the tips of
the fingers of one person to those of another.

In addition to the bluish-grey colour, red and yellow have been observed to tinge Rays. The
facts that their structure resembles that of the Inner Aura, and that they have never been
observed to diminish the adjacent Outer Aura, either in density or brightness, justify the
conclusion that the Rays and the Inner Aura have a common origin – the body, and that
therefore a Ray is merely an extended bundle of striæ of the Inner Aura.

Dr. Kilner has found also that, under similar conditions, though with more difficulty, he was
able to perceive a haze or Aura surrounding magnets, particularly the poles, having a bluish
colour : a yellow Aura round a crystal of uranium nitrate; a bluish Aura around the poles of
galvanic cells, around any conductor joining the poles, and in the space between two wires
connected each to one of the poles and to one another.

From the facts (1) that the Inner Aura has a striated structure, whilst the Outer Aura is
entirely nebulous; (2) that the Inner Aura has a fairly well-marked border, that of the Outer
Aura being ill-defined; (3) that the outer margin of the Inner Aura is crenated, but that of the
Outer Aura does not in any way correspond; (4) that Rays proceed from the Inner Aura but in
no case have been observed to commence in the Outer Aura and pass through to the Inner
Aura – Dr. Kilner concludes (1) that the Outer Aura is most probably derived from the Inner;
and (2) that the two Auras are most probably not the product of one and the same force.

Dr. Kilner thus posits (1) No. 1 Auric Force (for short 1 AF) which originates the Inner Aura,
and (2) No. 2 Auric Force (2 AF), which originates the Outer Aura. 1AF acts apparently very
intensely within a prescribed area. Through local increase of force, rays may be projected
consciously by an effort of will. 2AF is more mobile and has a wider range of action than
1AF. It appears to be entirely independent of the will.

Different states of health, general or local, act on the forces, and through them on the Auras,
though not necessarily in the same manner on both Inner and Outer Auras.

A local affection may cause all the striæ to disappear from the Inner aura, the latter
becoming more opaque and dense, and changing its colour ; it may also appear roughly
rayed, in a manner quite different from the fine striæ of health; or it may form a space devoid
of the Inner Aura.

An affection over a large portion of the body may make the Inner Aura narrower on one side
of the body than on the other; this is accompanied by an alteration of texture in the Inner
Aura and often also the colour.

Variations in the Outer Aura, consequent upon 2AF, are less than is the case with the Inner
Aura. The width may contract, but never quite disappear, and the colour may change. A
change over a large area of the body may completely alter the shape of the Outer Aura. The
Outer Aura may become narrower, the Inner Aura being unaffected; but if the Inner shrinks,
the Outer does also.

Changes in the Auras may be produced by disease. In hysteria, the Outer Aura is wider at
the sides of the trunk : its width contracts suddenly near the pubes; a bulge occurs at the
back in the lumbar region.
In epilepsy, one side of both Inner and Outer Auras for their whole length is usually
contracted : the Inner Aura becomes opaque, the texture coarser, and striation diminishes or
disappears. The colour is usually grey.

A contraction of the Inner Aura invariably implies a grave malady. Occasionally an absolute
break in the Aura is observed.

The Inner Aura does not alter in shape or size to any great extent, but it changes
considerably in texture. The Outer Aura varies more frequently and more extensively in
shape and size, but almost imperceptibly in texture.

In case of disease, the earliest morbid symptom is diminution or complete loss of striation ;
together with this, the granules become coarser, this being apparently due to amalgamation
of smaller granules.

Derangement of the Inner Aura is accompanied by a pari passu alteration of the Outer Aura.

The preparation of the eye by means of the screens renders it difficult to appreciate
accurately variations in the colour of the aura. The colour in the main appears to range from
blue to grey, the colour depending more on temperament and mental powers than on
changes in bodily health. The greater the mental vigour the bluer becomes the Aura ;
deficiency of mental power tends to greyness in the Aura.

Dr. Kilner carried out a few experiments which demonstrated not only that Rays could be
projected by an effort of will from various parts of the body, but also that the colour of a Ray
or a part of the Aura could be varied by an effort of will. Red, yellow and blue colours have
been produced in this way ; blue was found to be the easiest to produce, and yellow the
most difficult.

A careful study of Dr. Kilner‟s results reveals that these agree with considerable accuracy
with those obtained by clairvoyance. Dr. Kilner, however, appears to have studied more
minutely, in some respects, the structure of the Aura and the effects on it of disease.That
which Dr. Kilner terms the Etheric Double is evidently identical with that which is described
under the same name as clairvoyants. The striations of Dr. Kilner‟s Inner Aura are clearly the
same as the health Aura (see Chapter IV, p. 32). That which Dr. Kilner describes as the
Outer Aura would appear to the present writer to consist of etheric particles from which the
Prâna has been withdrawn and other etheric matter discharged from the body (see Chapter
XI, Discharges). The student should compare the outlines of Auras given in Dr. Kilner‟s book
with Plate XXIV, of the Health Aura in Man, Visible and Invisible.
It would appear legitimate to surmise that further improvement of Dr. Kilner‟s methods would
lead to the physical perception of (1) the Etheric Chakrams; (2) the flow of Prâna into and
through the body; (3) the nature and structure of the Etheric Double within the body. Dr.
Kilner having referred to the difficulty of perceiving the Aura against a background of flesh,
the present writer has wondered whether a suitable background could not be obtained by
colouring in some way the skin of the person being observed.
Dr. Kilner states that his one objective in making his investigations has been to utilise the
Aura as a means of diagnosis. It is therefore, more than probable that further investigations
would reveal properties of the Aura which, while perhaps having no diagnostic utility, would,
nevertheless, be of scientific interest.
From the observed facts – (1 ) that ill-health deranges the Aura; (2) that the etheric matter of
adjacent Auras flows together, forming Rays; (3) that such Rays can be formed and directed
by an effort of the will; (4) that the will can determine even the colour of such Rays – it would
appear but a very short step to the subject of magnetic or mesmeric healing, and it is to be
hoped that some investigator will make a study of this important and interesting subject in the
same painstaking manner that has characterised Dr. Kilner‟s own researches.
Etheric faculties are extensions of the ordinary physical senses, enabling the possessor to
appreciate “vibrations” pertaining to the etheric portion of the physical plane. Such
impressions will be received through the retina of the eye, affecting of course its etheric
In some abnormal cases other parts of the etheric body may respond as readily as, or even
more readily than, the eye. This would usually be due to partial astral development, the
sensitive areas of the etheric double nearly always corresponding to the astral chakrams.
There are roughly, two main kinds of clairvoyance, the lower and the higher. The lower
variety appears sporadically in undeveloped people, such as savages of Central Africa, and
is a sort of massive sensation vaguely belonging to the whole etheric body, rather than an
exact and definite sense-perception communicated through a specialised organ. It is
practically beyond the man‟s control. The Etheric Double being in exceedingly close
relationship with the nervous system, any action on one of them reacts speedily on the other.
In the lower clairvoyance the corresponding nervous disturbance is almost entirely in the
sympathetic system.
In more developed races the vague sensitiveness usually disappears as the mental faculties
are developed. Later on, when the spiritual man begins to unfold, he regains clairvoyant
power. This time, however, the faculty is precise and exact, under the control of the will, and
exercised through a sense organ. Any nervous action set up is almost exclusively in the
cerebro-spinal system.
The lower forms of psychism are most frequent in animals and very unintelligent human
beings. Hysterical and ill-regulated psychism is due to the small development of the brain
and the dominance of the sympathetic system, the large nucleated ganglionic cells in this
system containing a very large proportion of etheric matter, and thus being easily affected by
the coarser astral vibrations.
Etheric vision may be temporarily stimulated, e.g.., by delirium tremens, so that the sufferer
may see etheric (as well as astral) creatures: the snakes and other horrors seen in such
cases are almost invariably creatures of low type which feast on alcoholic fumes exuding
from the drunkard‟s body.
It should be noted that the Etheric Double is peculiarly susceptible to the volatile constituents
of alcohols.
Clairvoyant faculty may also sometimes be exhibited under the influence of mesmerism; also
by an increased tenseness of the nerves, caused by excitement, hysteria, ill-health, drugs, or
certain ceremonial rites which induce self-hypnotism.
It is not, however, advisable to allow oneself to be thrown into mesmeric sleep in order to
obtain clairvoyant experiences, because domination of the will by that of another person
tends to make the will of the subject weaker and thus more liable to be acted upon by others.
Occasionally a person fortunate enough to have gained the friendship of etheric nature-
spirits may be helped by these creatures to attain flashes of temporary clairvoyance, in order
that the person may see them. In order to cultivate such friendship, it must be remembered
that these nature-spirits are intensely shy and distrustful of men: they object to the physical
emanations of the average man – of meat, tobacco, and alcohol; also to low selfish feelings,
such as lust, anger, or depression. Strong, unselfish feelings of a lofty nature create the kind
of atmosphere in which nature-spirits delight to bathe.
Almost all nature-spirits are fond of music, and some are especially attracted by certain
melodies. C.W. Leadbeater writes that he has seen shepherd-boys in Sicily playing on their
home-made Panpipe, with an appreciative audience of fairies frisking around them, of which
they were probably blissfully unconscious. Sometimes, however, peasants do see nature-
spirits, as the literature of many peoples affirms.
One method of developing etheric sight is by utilising the imagination. An endeavour is made
to “imagine” what the inside of a physical object, such as a closed box, would be like, i.e., to
“guess” with an effort of strained attention, trying to see that which by ordinary sight could not
be seen. After many attempts it is said that the “guessing” becomes more frequently correct
than the theory of probability would demand, and presently the man begins actually to see
etherically that which at first he only imagined. It is said that this practice is followed by the
Zuni tribe of American Red Indians (see Service Magazine, April, 1925, article by Beatrice
Great numbers of people, if they will take the trouble to look, under suitable conditions of
light, can see the mesmeric fluid, i.e., the nerve-ether, as it streams from the hands of the
mesmerist. Baron Reichenbach, in the middle of the nineteenth century, records that he
found over sixty persons able to see these emanations, and some could see also a
somewhat similar emanation proceeding from physical magnets, from crystals, and from a
copper wire, one end of which was exposed to sunlight. The observers were usually shut up
in a dark room for some hours in order to make the retina more sensitive.
It is reported that some French scientists, who could not normally see the N Rays, became
able to do so after sitting in darkness for three or four hours.
We may here note that N Rays are due to vibrations in the Etheric Double, causing waves in
the surrounding ether. The student will recollect that N Rays are given off by animals, flowers
and metals, but that all alike, when under the influence of chloroform, cease to emit them.
They are also never emitted by a corpse. It will also be recollected that anæsthetics – such
as chloroform – expel etheric matter from the physical body (see p. 5), thus of course
preventing the emanation of the Rays.
A full and controlled possession of etheric sight enables a man to see through physical
matter: a brick wall, for example, seems to have the consistency of a light mist: the contents
of a closed box could be accurately described and a sealed letter read: with a little practice it
is also possible to find a passage in a closed book.
When the faculty is perfectly developed it is completely under control, and may be used or
not used at will. It is said to be easy to change from ordinary to etheric vision as to alter the
focus of the eyes – the change being in reality a focusing of consciousness.
The earth is transparent to etheric vision to a certain extent, so that a man can see to a
considerable depth, much as in fairly clear water. A creature burrowing underground could
thus be seen, or a vein of coal or metal could be seen, if not too far below the surface. The
medium through which we are looking is thus not perfectly transparent.
Bodies of men and animals are, in the main, transparent, so that the action of the internal
organs can be seen, and to some extent disease may be diagnosed in this manner.
Etheric sight makes visible many entities, such as the lower orders of nature-spirits, which
have etheric bodies: in this class are nearly all the fairies, gnomes and brownies, of which
many stories are told in the highlands of Scotland, Ireland and other countries.
There is a class of beautiful fairies with etheric bodies who live upon the surface of the earth,
and who have come up the ladder of evolution through grasses and cereals, ants and bees,
and tiny nature-spirits. After their time as etheric fairies they become salamanders or fire-
spirits, then sylphs or air-spirits, and later still they pass into the kingdom of the angels.
The forms of fairies are many and various, but most frequently human in shape and
somewhat diminutive in size, usually with a grotesque exaggeration of some particular
feature or limb. Etheric matter being plastic and readily moulded by the power of thought,
they are able to assume almost any appearance at will, but, nevertheless, they have definite
forms of their own which they wear when they have no special reason for taking any other.
In order to take a form other than his own a fairy must conceive it clearly and keep his mind
fixed upon it : as soon as his thought wanders he will at once resume his natural
Etheric matter does not obey the power of thought as instantaneously as does astral matter.
We might say that mental matter changes with the thought, astral matter so quickly after that
the ordinary observer can scarcely note any difference, but with etheric matter one‟s vision
can follow the growth or diminution without difficulty. An astral sylph flashes from one shape
to another ; an etheric fairy swells or decreases quickly, but not instantaneously.
There are also limits, though wide ones, within which a fairy can alter his size. Thus a fairy
naturally 12 inches high might expand himself to 6 feet high, but only with a considerable
strain which he could not maintain for more than a few minutes.
One of the streams of evolving life, after leaving the mineral kingdom, instead of passing into
the vegetable kingdom, assumes etheric vehicles, which inhabit the interior of the earth,
living actually within solid rock, which offer no impediment to their motion or their vision. At a
later stage, though still inhabiting the solid rock, they live close to the surface of the earth,
and the more developed of them can occasionally detach themselves from it for a short time.
These gnomes, which have sometimes been seen, and perhaps more frequently heard, in
caves or mines, become visible either by materialising themselves by drawing around them a
veil of physical matter, or, of course by the spectator becoming temporarily etherically
clairvoyant. They would be seen more frequently than they are,, were it not for the rooted
objection to the proximity of human beings which they share with all but the lowest types of
Some of the lower types of etheric nature-spirits are not pleasing to the aesthetic sense.
There are shapeless masses with huge red gaping mouths, which live upon the loathsome
etheric emanations of blood and decaying flesh ; rapacious red-brown crustacean creatures
which hover over houses of ill-fame; and savage octopus-like monsters which gloat over the
orgies of the drunkard and revel in the fumes of alcohol.
The entities posing or accepted as tribal deities, for whom blood sacrifices are made, or food,
preferably of flesh, is burnt, are very low-grade creatures, possessing etheric bodies, for it is
only through etheric bodies that they can absorb physical fumes and derive either
nourishment or pleasure from them.
The stories told of ointments and drugs which, when applied to the eyes, enable a man to
see the fairy people have a basis in truth. No anointing of the eyes could open the astral
vision, though, if rubbed over the whole body, some ointments assist the astral body to leave
the physical in full consciousness. But the application to the physical eyes might stimulate
etheric sight.
Etheric sight would of course make the Etheric Doubles of men visible : these doubles would
often be seen hovering over newly made graves : at séances etheric matter could be seen
oozing from the left side of the medium, and one could perceive the various ways in which
the communicating entities make us of it.
Etheric sight makes visible several entirely new colours, quite different from those in the
spectrum, as we know it, and therefore indescribable in words we use at present. In some
cases these other colours are combined with colours that we know, so that two surfaces
which to ordinary eyes appear to match perfectly would appear different to etheric sight.
For the chemist a whole fresh world would come under observation, and he could deal with
ethers as he now deals with liquids or gases.
There are, belonging to the mineral kingdom, many etheric substances, the existence of
which is unknown to Western science. Even the bodies of men, in the First Round, were
constructed of etheric matter only, and resembled vague, drifting and almost shapeless
Etheric sight would inform us of the healthiness or otherwise of our surroundings, and we
should be able to detect disease germs or other impurities.
The beneficial effects of travel are partially due to the change of the etheric and astral
influences connected with each place and district. Ocean, mountain, forest or waterfall –each
has its own special type of life, astral and etheric as well as visible, and, therefore its own
special set of impressions and influences. Many of the unseen entities are pouring out
vitality, and in any case the vibrations which they radiate, awaken unaccustomed portions of
men‟s Etheric Doubles, and of their astral and mental bodies, the effect being like that of
exercising muscles which are not ordinarily called into activity – somewhat tiring at the time,
yet distinctly healthy and desirable in the long run. Such amusements as rowing for example,
or swimming, especially in the sea, are of especial value, for the reasons named.
There is a basis of truth in the tradition that it is strengthening to sleep under a pine tree with
the head to the north, for the magnetic currents flowing over the surface of the earth, by
steady gentle pressure, gradually comb out the entanglements and strengthen the particles
both of the astral body and of the Etheric Double, and thus give rest and calm. The radiations
of the pine tree make the man sensitive to the magnetic currents, and, in addition, the tree is
constantly throwing off vitality in that special condition in which it is easiest for man to absorb
There is a kind of magnetic tide, and outflow and back-flow of magnetic energy between the
sun and earth, the turning points of which are at noon and midnight.
The great etheric currents which are constantly sweeping over the surface of the earth from
pole to pole possess a volume which makes their power as irresistible as that of the rising
tide, and there are methods by which this stupendous force may be safely utilised, though
unskilful attempts to control it would be fraught with danger. It is also possible to use the
tremendous force of etheric pressure.
In addition, by changing matter from a grosser to a subtler kind the vast store of potential
energy which lies dormant may be liberated and utilised, somewhat as latent heat-energy
may be liberated by a change of condition of visible matter.
A reversal of the above process enables one to change matter from the etheric to the solid
condition, and thus to produce a “materialisation” phenomenon.
This faculty is sometimes employed in cases of emergency, where a man in his astral body,
an “invisible helper”, is in need of means of acting on physical matter. The faculty demands
considerable power of sustained concentration, and the mind must not be taken off for one
half-second, or the matter of the materialised form will instantly fly back into its original
The reason why a physical object, after being reduced to the etheric condition, can
afterwards be restored to its former shape, is that the elemental essence is retained in the
same shape, and when the will-force is removed the essence acts as a mould which the
solidifying particles re-aggregate. If however, a solid object be raised to a gaseous condition
by heat, the elemental essence which informed the object would be dissipated – not
because the essence itself can be affected by heat, but because when its temporary body is
destroyed as a solid, it pours back into the great reservoir of such essence, much as a man‟s
higher principles, though entirely unaffected by heat and cold, are yet forced out of a physical
body when the latter is destroyed by fire.
Means must then be employed to reduce a physical object to etheric condition, and then to
move it from one place to another, even through solid matter, such as a brick wall, by an
astral current, with great rapidity. As soon as the disintegrating force is withdrawn, the matter
is forced by the etheric pressure into its original condition.
When a man becomes etherically sensitive, in addition to sight, in most cases a
corresponding change would at the same time take place in the other senses. Thus it is
claimed by astrologers that planetary influences, by expanding or congesting the etheric
atmosphere, make the conditions for meditation respectively more or less favourable.
Incense is said to act on the etheric body somewhat as colours do on the astral body, and so
may be employed to bring a man‟s vehicles rapidly into harmony. It appears that certain
odours may be used to act on various parts of the brain.
The effect of etheric sight is quite different from that of astral sight. In the case of astral sight
an entirely new element is introduced, often described as that of a fourth dimension. With
such vision, for example, a cube would be seen as though it were all flattened out, all its
sides being equally visible as well as every particle within it.
With etheric sight, however, one merely sees through objects, and the thickness of matter
through which one is looking makes a great difference to the clearness of the sight. Such
considerations have no effect whatever on astral vision.
The word “throughth” used by W.T. Stead in referring to four-dimensional sight, is a perfect
description, not of astral, but of etheric vision.
Etheric sight can also be used for purposes of magnification. The method is to transfer
impressions from the etheric matter of the retina direct to the etheric brain: the attention is
focused in one or more etheric particles, and thus is obtained a similarity of size between the
organ employed and some minute object being observed.
A commoner method, though one demanding higher development, is to project a flexible
tube of etheric matter from the centre of the chakram between the eyebrows, having one
atom at its end which serves as a lens. Such an atom must have all its seven spirillae fully
developed. The atom can be expanded or contracted at will. This power belongs to the
causal body, so that when an etheric atom forms the lens a system of reflecting counterparts
must be introduced.
By a further extension of the same power, the operator, by focusing his consciousness in the
lens, can project it to distant points.
The same power, by a different arrangement, can be used for diminishing purposes, this
giving a vision of something too large to be taken in at once by ordinary vision.
This power was symbolised by a small snake projecting from the centre of the forehead in
the head-dress of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Much of the clairvoyance shown by dead people at a spiritualistic séance, enabling them to
read passages out of a closed book, is of the etheric type.
One of the varieties of telepathy is etheric, and may take either of two forms. In the first an
etheric image is made which can be seen by a clairvoyant; in the second the etheric waves,
which the creation of the image generates, radiate out and, striking upon another etheric
brain, tend to reproduce in it the same image.
The organ in the brain for thought transference, both transmitting and receiving, is the pineal
gland. If any one thinks intently on an idea, vibrations are set up in the ether which
permeates the gland, thereby causing a magnetic current, which gives rise to a slight quiver
or creeping feeling. This feeling indicates that the thought is clear and strong enough to be
capable of transmission. With most people the pineal gland is not yet fully developed, as it
will be in the course of evolution.
There is known to occult students a process by which rays of light may be bent, so that after
passing round an object they may resume exactly their former course. This would, of course,
make the object round which the rays were bent invisible to ordinary sight. It may be
surmised that this phenomenon would result from a power to manipulate the particular form
of etheric matter which is the medium for the transmission of light.

A man may employ his magnetism or vital fluid not only for mesmerising or healing other
persons, but he may also use it to impregnate physical objects in a somewhat similar
manner. Any object, in fact, which has been in close contact with an individual will absorb
that individual‟s magnetism, and consequently will tend to reproduce in the person who
wears it something of the same state of feeling or thought with which it is charged.This, of
course, is part of the rationale of talismans, charms and relics, as well as of the feelings of
devotion and reverential awe which sometimes quite literally exude from the walls of
cathedrals and churches, each stone of which is a veritable talisman, charged with the
reverence and devotion of the builder, consecrated by the bishop, and reinforced by the
devotional thought-forms of successive generations for thousands of years.
The process is continually at work, though few are conscious of it. Thus, for example, food
tends to become charged with the magnetism of those who handle or come near it, a fact
which is at the back of the strict rules which Hindus observe regarding eating food in the
presence of, or which has been subjected to the magnetism of, one of the lower cast. To the
occultist, magnetic purity is as important as physical cleanliness. Such food as bread and
pastry are especially liable to be charged with the magnetism of the person who prepares
them, owing to the fact that magnetism flows out most strongly through the hands.
Fortunately the action of fire in baking or cooking removes most kinds of physical
magnetism. Some occult students, in order to prevent any avoidable mixture of magnetism,
insist upon using only their own private eating utensils, and even would not permit their hair
to be cut except by some one whose magnetism they approved, the head of course being
the part of the body where alien magnetism would be most objectionable.
Books, especially those in a public library, tend to become loaded with all kinds of mixed
Precious stones, being the highest development of the mineral kingdom, have very great
power of receiving and retaining impressions. Many jewels are saturated with feelings of
envy and greed and, in the case of some of the great historical jewels, are impregnated with
physical and other emanations associated with crimes that have been committed in order to
possess them. Such jewels retain these impressions unimpaired for thousands of years, so
that psychometers may see around them pictures of indescribable horror. For this reason,
most occultists would discourage the wearing of jewels, as a general rule.
On the other hand, gems may be powerful reservoirs of good and desirable influence. Thus,
for example, the Gnostic gems employed at Initiation ceremonies two thousand years ago
retain even to this day powerful magnetic influence. Some Egyptian scarabœi are still
effective, though much older even than the Gnostic gems.
Money, in the form of coins and notes, is frequently charged with highly unpleasant
magnetism. Not only does it become charged with a great mixture of different kinds of
magnetism, but it is, in addition, surrounded by the thoughts and feelings of those who have
handled it. The disturbing and irritating effect of such emanations on astral and mental
bodies has been compared to that produced by the bombardment of radium emanations on
the physical body. The worst offenders are copper and bronze coins, and old and dirty bank
notes. Nickel is less receptive of evil influences than copper, while silver and gold are better
still in this respect.
Bedding affords another example of physical objects absorbing and emanating magnetic
influence, many people having observed that unpleasant dreams may often be caused by
sleeping on a pillow which has been used by a person of unpleasant character. If wool is
used of bedding or clothing, it is better not to let it touch the skin, owing to it being saturated
with animal influence.
The method of deliberately manufacturing a talisman is, first thoroughly to cleanse the object
of its present etheric matter by passing it through a film of etheric matter which has been
created for the purpose by an effort of will. The old etheric matter or magnetism having been
thus removed, the ordinary ether of the surrounding atmosphere replaces it; for there is an
etheric pressure somewhat corresponding to, though immensely greater than, atmospheric
A similar process is then effected for astral and mental matter, the object thus becoming, as
it were, a clean sheet on which one may write as one wills. The operator then, placing his
right hand on the object, fills himself with the particular qualities which he wishes to convey
to the talisman, and wills that those qualities shall flow into it. An experienced occultist can
perform the whole process almost instantaneously by a strong effort of will, but others will
need to spend more time on it.
The above would constitute one of the class of General talismans. An Adapted talisman is
one specially charged to meet the requirements of a particular individual – almost like an
individual prescription, rather than a general tonic. An Ensouled talisman is one designed to
continue as a source of radiation for centuries. There are two varieties. In one there is placed
in the talisman a fragment of a higher mineral, which throws out a ceaseless stream of
particles. These particles become charged with the force stored in the talisman, the actual
work of distribution being done by the mineral, thereby greatly economising energy.
The second variety is one in which the ingredients are so arranged as to make it a means of
manifestation of one of certain classes of undeveloped nature-spirits, these latter providing
the force necessary for the dissemination of the influence. Such talismans may last for
thousands of years, to the intense delight of the nature-spirit, and the great benefit of all who
approach the magnetised centre.
A Linked talisman is one so magnetised as to bring it in close rapport with its maker, so that
it becomes a kind of outpost of his consciousness. The wearer of the talisman could thus
through his link send a cry for help to its builder, or the builder could direct a stream of
influence through it to the wearer. Such a talisman would facilitate what Christian Scientists
call “absent treatment”.
In rare cases a physical talisman may be connected with the causal body of an Adept, as
was done with those talismans buried in various countries by Apollonius of Tyana, about
1,900 years ago, in order that the force which they radiated might prepare those places to be
the centres of great events in the future. Some of those centres have already been utilised,
others are to be employed in the immediate future in connection with the work of the coming
Great shrines are usually erected on the spot where some holy man lived, where some great
event, such as an Initiation, took place, or where there is a relic of a great person. In any of
these cases, a powerful magnetic centre of influence has been created which will persist for
thousands of years. Even if the “relic” does not happen to be a very powerful one, or is not
even genuine, the centuries of devotional feeling poured out upon it by the hosts of visitors
would make the place an active centre for beneficent radiation. The influence of all such
places on visitors and pilgrims is unquestionably good.
It has already been mentioned that precious stones are naturally suited to be made into
talismans or amulets. The rudraksha berry, used frequently for necklaces in India, is
eminently adapted for magnetisation where spiritual thought or meditation is required and
disturbing influences are to be kept away. The beads made from the tulsi plant are another
example, though the influence they give is of a somewhat different character. An interesting
set of talismans are those objects which produce strong scents. The gums of which incense
is made, for example, can be chosen so as to be favourable to spiritual and devout thought.
It is also possible so to combine ingredients as to produce the opposite effect, as was
sometimes done by mediaeval witches.
A trained occultist makes a regular practice of charging many things which pass from him to
others with beneficent influences : such, for example, as letters, books, or presents. By a
single effort of will he may charge even a typed letter far more effectively than it would be
unconsciously charged when written by hand by some one not familiar with these truths.
Similarly a trained occultist, by a mere wave of the hand, coupled with a strong thought, may
almost instantaneously demagnetise food, clothing, bedding, rooms, etc. Such
demagnetisation, while removing magnetism which has been externally impressed, would
not affect the innate magnetism of objects, such, for example, as the inherently unpleasant
vibrations of dead flesh, which even cooking could not destroy.
The process of demagnetising rooms, etc., may be facilitated by the burning of incense or
pastilles, or by sprinkling water, the incense and water being first passed through the
process recommended for making talismans.
It should also be born in mind that as physical matter in man is in exceedingly close touch
with the astral and mental, coarseness and grossness in the physical vehicle almost
necessarily imply a corresponding condition in the other vehicles : hence the great
importance to the occultist of physical as well as magnetic or etheric cleanliness.
The “holy water” used in certain Christian churches affords a clear example of magnetisation,
water being very readily charged with magnetism. The instructions given in the Roman rite
make it quite evident that the priest is required, first, to “exorcise” the salt and water, i.e.., to
cleanse them from all objectionable influences, and then, making the sign of the cross, he is
directed to “bless” the elements, i.e.., to pour his own magnetism into them, his will being
directed to the purpose of driving away all evil thoughts and feelings.
It is worth nothing that salt contains chlorine, a “fiery” element, and hence the combination of
water, the great solvent, with fire the great consumer, is highly effective as a cleansing
Precisely similar ideas underlie many other ceremonies in the Christian Church : such as
baptism, in which the water is blessed and the sign of the cross made over it ; the
consecration of churches and burial grounds, of the vessels of the altar, the vestments of the
priests, bells, incense ; confirmation, the ordination of priests and consecration of bishops.
In the Eucharist, the wine has a very powerful influence upon the higher astral levels, while
the water sends out even etheric vibrations.
At baptism, in the Liberal Catholic Church, the priest makes the sign of the cross over the
forehead, throat, heart and solar plexus of the child. This has the effect of opening up these
etheric chakrams, so that they grow to, perhaps, the size of a crown piece, and begin to
sparkle and whirl as they do in grown-up people.
In addition, the magnetised water, as it touches the forehead, sets violently in vibration the
etheric matter, stimulates the brain, and through the pituitary body affects the astral body,
and through that the mental body.
Later the priest, by anointing the top of the head with chrism, makes the chakram there serve
as a kind of sieve, which rejects the coarser feelings, influences or particles, and also, by an
effort of will, he closes the four centres which have been opened.
At confirmation, the effect which has been produced on the âtmic principle is reflected into
the Etheric Double.
At the ordination of the priest, it is intended to clear the way between the higher principles
and the physical brain. The blessing floods the etheric brain, and is meant to run up through
the pituitary body, which is the point of closest junction between the dense physical, the
etheric and the astral.
The anointing of the head of the bishop with chrism is intended so to act on the
brahmarandra chakram that, instead of the usual saucer-like depression, it becomes more
like a projecting cone, such as is often seen in statues of the Lord Buddha.
The ordination of the cleric is intended principally to act on the etheric body, that of the
doorkeeper on the astral, that of the reader or lector on the mental, and that of the exorcist
on the causal body. The exorcist is helped at his ordination to strengthen his power of
There seems to have been an old custom – out of which has arisen the present Roman
method of anointing the organs of the senses – of sealing all the chakrams in the body of a
dying man, lest objectionable entities should seize upon that body as the owner left it and
employ it for purposes of evil magic.
It is probable that many nervous affections could be helped by anointing with consecrated oil,
and etheric disease might well be cured by means of “Unction”.
In a Bishop‟s crozier, in the knob of which the consecrated jewels are placed, the etheric
energy which radiates from the jewels is the outermost and the most prominent – so
prominent in fact that it would not be surprising if physical cures could be affected by its
Mediaeval alchemists also employed somewhat similar methods in their use of magnetised
swords, drugs, etc. In the Ancient Mysteries, the thyrsus was a powerfully magnetised
instrument, which was laid against the spinal cord of the candidate, giving him in that way
some of the magnetism with which it was charged.
ECTOPLASM (from the Greek ektos, outside, and plasma, mould, i.e.., that which is moulded
outside the human body) is a name given to the matter, mainly if not wholly etheric, which
exudes from a medium, and is employed for séance-room phenomena.
The late W.J.Crawford, D.Sc., in his books (The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1916),
Experiments in the Psychical Science (1918), Psychic Structures (1921) ), describes the
painstaking and masterly researches he undertook into such phenomena as table-lifting, or
“levitation”, and rapping. For full details students are referred to those books, it being
possible here to give a brief summary of such results as are directly pertinent to our present
During all the experiments the medium was fully conscious.
W.J.Crawford approached the problems of table-lifting, etc., purely as problems of
mechanics ; and, by means of force-registering appliances, both mechanical and electrical,
he succeeded in discovering, by deduction from his observations, the modus operandi of the
“psychic structures” employed. At a much later stage he was able completely to verify his
deductions by direct vision and by photography, as will be explained in due course.
Briefly, it was found that the ectoplasm, exuding from the medium, was prepared and shaped
by the “operators” who control the production of the phenomena, into what he terms “rods”.
These rods or bars are attached at one end to the medium, and at the other, by suction, to
table-legs or other objects, psychic force being then applied through the rods, and tables,
etc., moved in various ways, without any purely physical contact with any person present.
Raps and many other noises are produced by the rods striking on floor, table, a bell, etc.
By far the greater portion of the ectoplasm is usually obtained from the medium, though this
is supplemented by a small portion from all, or most, of the other sitters present.
The ectoplasm can sometimes, even though quite invisible to ordinary sight, be felt. It is
described as clammy, cold, reptilian, almost oily, as though the air were mixed with particles
of dead and disagreeable matter.
The psychic rods issuing from the medium may vary in diameter at their extremities from ½
inch to 7 or 8 inches, and the free end of each rod seems able to assume various shapes
and degrees of hardness. The end may be flat or convex, circular or oval ; it may be soft as
the flesh of a baby, or as hard as iron. The body of the rod feels solid a few inches from the
free end, but then becomes intangible, though it resists, pulls, pushes, shear and torque.
In this intangible portion, nevertheless, a flow of cold, spore-like particles can be felt, the flow
being outwards from the medium. There appears to be reason to believe that in some cases,
though not in levitations, there is a complete circulation of etheric matter out from the
medium and back to her again at a different part of the body. The condition of the end of the
rod as regards size and hardness can be varied on demand. The larger rods are usually
fairly soft at the end, the smaller ones only becoming dense and hard.
W.J. Crawford considers it probable that the rods consist of a bundle of fine threads,
intimately connected and adhering to one another. The psychic force passes along the
threads, stiffening the whole structure into a rigid girder, which can then be moved as desired
by forces applied within the body of the medium.
Certain experiments seem to indicate that the end of a rod consists of a thick and more or
less elastic film or skin, stretched over a thin, somewhat serrated, elastic frame. The
elasticity of the film is limited, and if too highly stressed the film may rupture, leaving the
serrated frame exposed.
The fact that an electroscope can be discharged by being touched by a rod indicates that the
rod acts as a conductor of high tension electricity, discharging to earth through the medium‟s
body to which it is attached. On the other hand, a rod placed across the terminals of a bell
circuit does not cause the bell to ring, thus showing that it offers high resistance to low-
tension current.
White light usually destroys rod formations : even rays reflected from a surface on which
psychic force is exerted interfere with the phenomena. Red light, however, if not too strong,
does not appear to injure the psychic structure, neither does light emanating from luminous
paint which has been exposed for some hours to sunlight.
Usually the structures are quite invisible, though occasionally glimpses of them may be
obtained. The structures have been successfully photographed by flashlight, but great care
must be taken not to injure the medium. The shock to the medium when the flashlight
impinges on the ectoplasm is much greater when the structure is under stress than when it is
not stressed.
The large number of photographs taken confirm in every detail the conclusions arrived at by
deduction from the phenomena themselves.
The rigidity of a rod varies with the amount of light to which it is subjected, the hard end
being, as it were, partially melted when exposed to light.
In the case of objects being moved by psychic force there are two principal methods
employed. In the first, one or more rods are projected from the medium, very frequently from
the feet or ankles, sometimes from the lower part of the trunk, and are attached direct to the
object to be moved, thus forming cantilevers. When tables are moved horizontally, the rods
would usually be attached to the table-legs ; where they are lifted into the air, the rod or rods
are often spread out like a mushroom at the ends and attached to the under surface of the
In the second method, the rod or rods projecting from the medium are attached to the floor,
and from the point of attachment they are continued to the object to be moved, thus forming
no longer a cantilever but something similar to a lever of the “First Order,” the Fulcrum being
between the Weight and the Power.
Rods may be either straight or curved. They may also be held suspended in the air in a rigid
condition, thus showing that they do not require to be pressing on material bodies in order to
remain rigid.
In the case of the cantilever method, the whole of the mechanical stress is transferred to the
medium ; or, more accurately, the greater portion to the medium, and a much smaller portion
to the sitters. This can be ascertained by ordinary mechanical appliances, such as weighing
machines and spring balances. If a table is levitated, for example, by means of a cantilever,
the weight of the medium will be increased by about 95% of the weight of the table, and that
of the other sitters proportionately.
When, on the other hand, the rods are attached to the floor, the weight of a levitated table is
transmitted direct to the floor, and the medium‟s weight, instead of being increased, is
decreased, the decrease being due to the weight of the ectoplasm forming the rod, one end
of which rests on the floor.
When force is transmitted along a rod in order to hold an object, such as a table, firmly to the
floor, the weight of the medium has been observed to be reduced by as much as 35 ½ lbs.
On another occasion, when the ectoplasmic structure was not stressed, the weight of the
medium has been reduced by 54 ½ lbs., nearly half the normal weight of the medium.
Cantilevers are usually employed to move or lift light objects, but for heavy objects or for the
transmission of great force, the rod or rods are attached to the floor. Often a force
approximating to a hundred weight is exerted.
During levitation of objects the stress on the medium is often apparent in the stiffness, and
even iron-like rigidity of the muscles, principally of the arms, but also of the whole muscular
system. Later in his investigations, however, W.J.Crawford found that the muscular rigidity
had apparently entirely disappeared.
The production of these phenomena appears to result in a permanent loss of weight, both of
mediums and sitters, but only to the extent of a few ounces. The sitters may lose more
weight than the medium.
As a rule, the placing of any material object within the space occupied by a rod, immediately
breaks the line of communication, destroying the rod, as a rod. A thin object, however, such
as a pencil, may be passed through the vertical portion of a rod with impunity, but not
through the portion between the medium and the table. Interference with this portion may
cause physical injury to the medium.
In order to make it possible for a rod to touch or adhere to, e.g.., a floor or table, the end of
the rod has to be specially prepared, being made denser than the rest of the rod. The
process appears to be troublesome, or at least to consume time and force ; consequently the
gripping portions of a structure are always kept to the minimum.
The method of gripping by suction, as can easily be demonstrated by soft clay, referred to
below. Sometimes the “suckers” can be heard slipping over the surface of wood, or taking
new grips.
Many instances, as well as photographs, are given by W.J.Crawford, of impressions on putty
or soft clay, produced by impact of rods. These impressions are often covered with marks
similar to the fabric of the medium‟s stockings. The resemblance, however, is superficial, it
being impossible to produce such impressions by actually pressing a stockinged foot on to
the clay. The impression made by the rod is much sharper than can be obtained by ordinary
means, and is such as could be obtained if a fine viscous material were to cover the stocking
fabric, to harden, and then to be pressed on the clay.
Further, the stocking marks may be greatly modified ; the delicate pattern and tracery of the
threads may be distorted, thickened, partly covered over, or broken, though still remaining
recognisable as that of the stocking fabric. The deduction is that the ectoplasm is at first in a
state like that of a semi-liquid : that it oozes through and round the holes in the fabric and
partly sets on the outside of the stocking. It is of a glutinous, fibrous nature, and takes almost
the exact form of the fabric. It is then pulled off the stocking and built round the end of the
rod. For a large impression, the skin is thickened and strengthened by the addition of more
materialising matter, and thus the original imprint may be twisted, distorted, or partially
Similarly, finger impressions may be made by a rod, though these may be different in size
from normal ones, and may be much more clearly and regularly cut than would be possible
with ordinary finger impressions.
Raps, ranging from the slightest taps to blows of sledgehammer strength, as well as many
other sounds, are produced by semi-flexible rods, with suitably prepared ends, being struck
against material objects. The production of raps is accompanied by decrease of the
medium‟s weight, the amount of decrease, which may be as much as 20 lbs. – or more,
being apparently directly proportional to the intensity of the rap. The reason is apparent : the
rods being formed of matter from the medium‟s body, the striking of such matter on the floor,
etc., necessarily transfers some of the medium‟s total weight through the rod to the floor. The
loss of weight is temporary only, being restored when the material of the rods returns to the
The production of raps causes a mechanical reaction on the medium, as though she were
being pushed backwards or struck. This reaction may cause her to make slight motions with
her feet. The stress on the medium, however, is nothing like that caused by the levitation of
Heavy blows, produced by a large rod, are not usually delivered quickly. Light raps,
however, usually produced by two or more thin rods, may be produced with incredible
rapidity, the “operators” appearing to have great command over the rods.
In general, the production of these phenomena throws stress on all the sitters, as is apparent
by spasmodic jerks, sometimes quite severe, which go round the whole circle previous to
levitation. It would appear that the process of loosening and removing etheric matter from the
bodies of the sitters takes place in jerks, and, to some extent, affects them altogether.
W.J.Crawford reports that an entity, purporting to have been whilst alive a medical man, and
so to speak through the medium (on this occasion entranced for the purpose), stated that
there are two kinds of substance used in the production of phenomena. One is taken in
comparatively large quantities from the medium and sitters, all, or nearly all, being returned
to them at the close of a séance . The other can be obtained only from the medium, and as
it consists of the most vital material from the interior of her nerve-cells, it can be taken only in
minute quantities without injury to the medium. Its structure is broken up by the phenomena,
and therefore it cannot be returned to the medium. This statement has not been verified or
confirmed in any way and is given purely on its merits.
W.J. Crawford devised and used with great success the “staining method” of tracing the
movements of ectoplasm. Ectoplasm possessing the property of adhering strongly to such a
substance as powdered carmine, the latter is placed in its path, when a coloured track will be
found. By this means, it was discovered that ectoplasm issues from and returns to the lower
part of the trunk of the medium. It has considerable consistency , for it has a strong tearing
action on the stockings and of other clothing and will sometimes pull out whole threads,
several inches long, from a stocking, carry, and deposit the same in a vessel of clay placed
some distance from the medium‟s feet.
The ectoplasm follows a path down the legs and enters the shoes, passing between stocking
and shoe, wherever there is space. If it has picked up dye on its way it will deposit this at any
place where foot, stocking and shoe are in close contact, i.e.., where there is not sufficient
room for it to pass.
The solidification, as well as the de-materialisation, of the hard end of a rod is effected
immediately the rod issues from the medium‟s body. For this reason, the free end of the rod,
unless it be one of the thinnest, cannot penetrate closely woven cloth, or even wire netting of
1 inch mesh, if placed more than an inch or two in front of the medium. If such screens,
however, are very close to the medium‟s body, an imperfect materialisation of the end of the
rod may take place and limited psychic phenomena may occur.
The evolution of ectoplasm from the body of a medium is accompanied by strong muscular
movements all over the body, and the fleshy parts of the body, especially from the waist
downwards, become reduced in size, as though the flesh had caved in.
W.J. Crawford is convinced that in the production of séance-room phenomena there are at
least two substances employed : (1) a component, forming the basic part of the psychic
structure, which is invisible, impalpable, and generally outside the range of physical things
altogether, and (2) a whitish, transparent, nebulous substance, mixed with (1) in order to
enable (1) to act on physical matter ; (2) he considers, is in all probability identical with the
material used in materialisation phenomena.
Many phenomena of materialisation are described, with that scrupulous and minute attention
to detail so characteristic of German investigators, in a large work entitled Phenomena of
Materialisation, by Baron von Schrenck Notzing (1913), and translated by E.E. Fournier
d‟Albe, D.Sc.(1920).
In addition, to elaborate descriptions of large numbers of séances and phenomena, there are
given some 200 photographs of materialised forms, or apparitions of many kinds, ranging
from threads or masses of ectoplasm to fully-formed faces. The main conclusions may be
epitomised as follows. These are taken largely, for convenience, from a lecture on “Supra-
normal Physiology and the Phenomena of Ideoplastics,” by Dr. Gustave Geley, a Paris
psychologist and physician, which is printed at the end of baron Notzing‟s book.
From the body of the medium there emanates a substance which at first is amorphous or
polymorphous. It may appear as ductile dough, a true protoplasmic mass, a kind of shaking
jelly, simple lumps, thin threads, cords, narrow rigid rays, a broad band, a membrane, fabric,
woven material or net with fringes and rucks.
The thread – or fibre-like nature of the substance has frequently been observed.
It maybe white, black or grey, sometimes all three appearing together : white is perhaps the
most frequent. It appears to be luminous.
Usually it seems to be odourless, though sometimes it may have a peculiar smell, impossible
to describe. There seems no doubt that it is subject to the influence of gravity.
To the touch, it may be moist and cold, viscous and sticky, more rarely dry and hard. When
expanded it is soft and slightly elastic, when formed as cords it is hard, knotty and fibrous. It
may feel like a spider‟s web passing over the hand : the threads are both rigid and elastic. It
is mobile, with a creeping, reptilian motion, though sometimes it moves suddenly and quickly.
A draught may set it in motion. Touching it produces a painful reaction on the medium. It is
extremely sensitive and appears and disappears with lightning rapidity. It is usually sensitive
to light, though sometimes the phenomena will withstand full daylight. Flashlight photographs
of it can be taken, though the flash acts like a sudden blow on the medium.
During the production of the phenomena the cabinet, containing the medium, is usually in
darkness, but the curtains are frequently drawn aside, and outside the cabinet, red light is
used, and sometimes even white light up to 100 candlepower.
The substance has an irresistible tendency towards organisation. It assumes many forms,
sometimes indefinite and non-organised, but most frequently organic. Fingers, including
nails, all perfectly modelled, complete hands, faces, and other shapes may be formed.
The substance emanates from the whole body of the medium, but especially from the natural
orifices and extremities, from the top of the head, the breasts, and the fingertips. The most
usual origin, and most easily observed, is the mouth, the inner surface of the cheeks, the
gums and the roof.
The materialised forms have a certain independence, a hand, for example, being able to
move its fingers and grasp the hand of the observer, though sometimes the human skin
seems to repel the phantoms. The structures are sometimes smaller than in nature, being
really miniatures. The back of the materialisations has been observed to be without organic
form, being merely a mass of amorphous substance, the forms containing a minimum of
substance necessary to make them appear real.The forms may disappear very gradually,
fading away, or almost instantaneously. During the whole time it is clear that the forms are in
physiological and psychical connection with the medium, the sensation reflex of the
structures coalescing with that of the medium. Thus, a pin inserted into the substance would
cause pain to the medium.
It seems that the substance can be influenced both by the general direction and the subject-
matter of the thoughts of the sitters. In addition, the medium usually in the hypnotic state, is
exceedingly open to the influence of suggestion.
Pieces of materialised forms have been seized in a porcelain dish and retained. On one
occasion, when examined afterwards, two pieces of skin were found which, under the
microscope, were recognised as human. On another occasion, 3 or 4 c.c. of a transparent
liquid, without air bubbles, were found. Analysis revealed a colourless, slightly turbid, non-
viscous, odourless liquid, slightly alkaline, with a whitish precipitate. The microscope
disclosed the components of cell detritus and saliva, the substance evidently originating from
the mouth. On yet another occasion, a bundle of hair, not in any way resembling the darker
hair of the medium, was found, the hand of the observer being covered with mucus and
moisture. In addition, fragments of other substances are sometimes found, such as face
powder or shreds of the mediums clothing.
Considerable as is the total of information at present available regarding man‟s etheric body
and etheric phenomena in general, nevertheless, the serious student will at once perceive
that the field for future research is vastly greater than the fragments of it which have so far
been explored.
In view of the intimate bearing which the structure, nourishment and health of the etheric
body have on physical health, and on the functioning, not only of the physical body, but also
of the other bodies in their connection with the physical, it is abundantly evident that research
into every class of etheric phenomena should lead to discoveries of great scientific interest
and beneficent import to man.
A number of methods of conducting such research is open to us. First, we have the method
of direct clairvoyant observation, at different levels, it being probable, in view of the rapid
development of certain sections of the human race at the present time, that large numbers of
persons will find themselves, in the not distant future, in possession of etheric faculties.
In addition to etheric faculties, normally unfolded in the ordinary course of evolution, Dr.
Kilner‟s line of work appears to indicate that these faculties may be stimulated by the use of
screens, such as he employed, and possibly by other physical means yet to be devised. Both
mesmerism and hypnotism might also, with adequate safeguards, be employed to make
available latent etheric faculty. The use of photography may in the future become very
extensive and important, the salts used in the photographic plate being sensitive to
wavelengths and degrees of light beyond the reach of the normal eye. A further method of
research, using ultraviolet light, also offers great promise. A laboratory for this purpose has
recently been opened at Leeds through the initiative and farseeing enterprise of some
members of the Theosophical Society in that town.
The methods employed by W.J. Crawford may well be pursued by other workers, and
additions thus be made to the exceedingly valuable results obtained by the able investigator
As to the desirability of utilising the séance room for obtaining such materialisation
phenomena as those obtained, e.g.., By Baron von Notzing, there is likely to be divergence
of opinion. It is fairly generally admitted that phenomena of this nature may easily be highly
injurious to the medium, both physically and in other ways, and there is also something
distinctly unsavoury about the materialisations produced by these means. On the other hand,
it may be urged that if mediums are willing to sacrifice themselves in the cause of science,
science is justified in accepting such sacrifices; and, further, that science as such has no
concern with the savouriness, or otherwise, of natural phenomena. It seems fairly certain,
however, that the highest spiritual teachers of the present day do not look with favour on the
séance-room. Yet it may be argued that in other ages the use of vestal virgins, soothsayers,
“prophets” and other mediums, received the sanction and approval of high authorities. The
present writer, therefore, refrains from offering any dogmatic conclusion on this point.
The possibility of utilising knowledge of etheric phenomena for purposes of healing would
appear to be almost limitless. For many cases of disease, physical, emotional and mental,
the employment of vital or magnetic healing, and also mesmerism and hypnotism, would
seem to be in line with the general progress of thought in this direction. In particular, the use
of mesmerism to produce anæsthesia for surgical or other purposes, in place of ether, gas,
or chloroform, would appear to possess many recommendations.
It may also be surmised that the science of Osteopathy, in conjunction with the study of the
force-centres and the flow of vitality in the human body, should lead to valuable results.
The remarkable discoveries of Dr. Abrams, which appear to have been accepted, at least
partially, by the medical profession, would seem to be capable of conferring almost
incalculable benefit on the disease ridden human race of today. Although it is not -, the
present writer believes, rigidly proved, yet it would appear to be almost certain that the
methods employed in the Abrams system act, directly or indirectly, on and through the
etheric body.
The recent revival of healing by various Christian churches would also seem to have a great
future, and there can be little doubt that such methods, while far from being wholly physical,
yet do work, to some extent, through etheric matter.
The possibility of utilising our knowledge of etheric phenomena extends, however, even
further afield than is roughly indicated above. Thus it seems more than probable that an
important, and hitherto almost unrecognised, factor in the treatment of disease and the
preservation of health would derive from the etheric, apart from the purely physical properties
of drugs, waters, gases, the air, emanations of soils and minerals, fruit, flowers and trees. It
is possible in the future that we may discover health resorts, either on land, lake or sea,
which depend for their curative powers on their etheric properties.
The attention which has recently been devoted to the wider use of sunlight obviously has a
close bearing on what we know concerning the emanations of Prâna from the sun, and its
diffusion in the atmosphere, and its absorption by living beings.
It may be that further knowledge of etheric and vital phenomena may lead to a profound
change of attitude towards the use in medicine and dietetics of substances which have
passed through, or are derived from, animal organisms.
It is a reasonable conjecture that those elusive substances known as vitamins may owe their
beneficent properties to the presence in them, in one form or another of Prâna, or possibly to
the quality of the etheric matter they contain.
A recognition of the fact that the vitality of the body is derived, not from food, but direct from
the atmosphere, may well lead to a radical change in the dietetic treatment of sick persons,
and also to a much greater use of fasting as a curative energy. Those who are familiar with
the literature of fasting will no doubt be aware that several writers on this interesting subject
have already deduced from actual observation that the connection between assimilation of
food and the acquirement of vital energy is very far from being simple or direct.
It is now generally recognised that the use of electricity for curative purposes has not fulfilled
all that was at first hoped for it. It may be that a deeper knowledge of etheric phenomena will
be of assistance in devising better methods of utilising electricity for curative purposes : the
association of electricity with etheric matter ( of which the Etheric Double is composed) is a
phenomenon which may thus be turned to valuable account.
In fact, it would scarcely be too much to say, that in the future the etheric body, being the
habitat, so to say, of the life-principle in its physical aspect, may receive as much attention
as, or even more than, is now given to the material physical body. The utilisation eventually,
of energy associated with the physical ether, for many purposes, is obvious, and needs no
insistence here. The student of occultism, however, will recollect the warning that men will
not be permitted to release the almost incalculable forces latent in atomic matter until it is
assured that such forces will be used beneficently, and not for the purposes of destruction,
as has unfortunately happened in the case of so many discoveries in the past.
It is further evident that the discovery of the etheric grades of matter will open up new vistas
in chemistry and physics, and may even be turned to useful account in the production of food
substances of all kinds, of electrical conductors or insulators, materials for clothing , and
many other substances used in daily life.
Finally, both on its own intrinsic account and also as a steppingstone to knowledge of even
higher things, a recognition by orthodox scientists of the existence of the etheric body, and a
study of its constitution and behaviour – both of which we venture to think cannot now be
long delayed – may prove a firm foundation on which may be raised a vast superstructure of
knowledge of ultra-physical things. For (to adapt and abridge the closing paragraphs of the
Idyll of the White Lotus ), that which is to come is grander, more majestically mysterious,
than the past. By slow and imperceptible progress, the teachers of men drink their life from
purer sources, and take their message more directly from the soul of existence.Life has in it
more than the imagination of men can conceive. The real blossom of life grows above the
stature of man, and its bulb drinks deep from the river of life. In the heart of that flower man
will read the secrets of the controlling forces of the physical plane, and will see, written within
it, the science of mystic strength. He will learn how to expound spiritual truths, and to enter
into the life of his highest self, and he can learn also how to hold within him the glory of that
higher self, and yet to retain life upon this planet so long as it shall last, if need be ; to retain
life in the vigour of manhood, till his entire work is completed, and he has taught to all who
look for light these three truths :-
1. The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and
splendour has no limit.
2. The principle which gives life is in us and without us, is undying and eternally
beneficent, is not heard or seen or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires
3. Each man is his absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself ; the
decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
These truths, which are as great as life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Let
the food of knowledge be given to all those who are hungry for it.

by Arthur A.Powell
The Theosophical Publishing House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.;
Adyar, Chennai, India

Published in 1927, reprinted in 1954 and 1965


This book is dedicated with gratitude and appreciation to all those whose
painstaking labour
and researches have provided the materials out of which it has been compiled

"To know man is to know God.

To know God is to know man.
To study the universe is to learn both God and man;
for the universe is the expression of the Divine Thought,
and the universe is mirrored in man.
Knowledge is necessary if the SELF would become free
and know Itself as Itself alone."
Annie Besant


Introduction XIII
1 General Description 1
2 Composition and Structure 4
3 Colours 11
4 Functions 23
5 Chakrams 31
6 Kundalini 38
7 Thought Forms 43
8 Physical Life 64
9 Sleep-Life 82
10 Dreams 93
Continuity of
11 104
Death and the Desire-
12 107
13 After-Death Life : Principles 112
14 After-Death Life : Particulars 120
Click on this line for the following chapters
After-Death Life ; Special
15 138
16 The Astral Plane 146
Miscellaneous Astral
17 157
18 The Fourth Dimension 163
19 Astral Entities : Human 168
20 Astral Entities : Non-Human 176
21 Astral Entities : Artificial 190
22 Spiritualism 194
23 Astral Death 206
24 Re-Birth 209
25 The Mastery of Emotion 215
Development of Astral
26 224
Clairvoyance in Space and
27 234
28 Invisible Helpers 238
29 Discipleship 252
30 Conclusion 258
Index 261


THE author's purpose in compiling the books in this series was to save students
much time and labour by providing a condensed synthesis of the considerable
literature on the respective subjects of each volume, coming mostly from the
pens of Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. The accompanying list shows the
large number of books from which he drew. So far as possible, the method
adopted was to explain the form side first, before the life side: to describe the
objective mechanism of phenomena and then the activities of consciousness that
are expressed through the mechanism. There is no attempt to prove or even
justify any of the statements. Marginal references give opportunity to refer to the

The works of H. P. Blavatsky were not used because the author said that the
necessary research in The Secret Doctrine and other writings would have been
too vast a task for him to undertake. He added: "The debt to H. P. Blavatsky is
greater than could ever be indicated by quotations from her monumental
volumes. Had she not shown the way in the first instance, later investigators
might never have found the trail at all."


THE purpose of this book is to present to the student of Theosophy a condensed

synthesis of the information at present available concerning the Astral Body of
man, together with a description and explanation of the astral world and its
phenomena. The book is thus a natural sequel of The Etheric Double and Allied
Phenomena published in 1925.

As in the case of The Etheric Double, the compiler has consolidated the
information obtained from a large number of books, a list of which is given,
arranging the material, which covers a vast field and is exceedingly complex, as
methodically as lay within his power. It is hoped that by this means present and
future students of the subject will be saved much labour and research, being able
not only to find the information they require presented in a comparatively small
compass, but also, with the help of the marginal references, to refer, should they
so desire, to the original sources of information.

In order that the book may fulfil its purpose by being kept within reasonable
dimensions, the general plan followed has been to expound the principles
underlying astral phenomena, omitting particular examples or instances.
Lecturers and others who wish specific illustrations of the principles enunciated,
will find the marginal references useful as a clue to the places where the
examples they seek may be found.

Again, so far as the complexities and ramifications of the subject permit, the
method has been to explain the form side first, before the life side: i.e., to
describe first the objective mechanism of phenomena, and then the activities of
consciousness which are expressed through that mechanism. The careful
student, bearing this in [Page xiv ] mind, will thus recognise many passages,
which at first glance might appear to be repetitive, in which the same
phenomenon is described first from the point of view of the outer material form
and then again later from the point of view of the spirit or consciousness.

It is hoped that the present volume may be followed by similar ones dealing with
man's Mental and Causal bodies, thus completing the consolidation of all
information so far available regarding man's constitution up to the Causal or
Higher Mental level.

There is today a great deal of information on these and similar subjects, but it is
for the most part scattered over large numbers of books. In order, therefore, to
make the whole of it available for the student, whose time for intensive study is
limited, such books as the present is intended to be, are (in the writer's opinion)
urgently needed. " The proper study of mankind is man : " and the subject is so
vast, so absorbing, and so important that everything possible should be done to
make readily accessible to all who thirst for such knowledge the whole of the
information which has so far been accumulated.

Arthur E.Powell



[Page 1] BEFORE proceeding to a detailed study of the astral body, and of

phenomena associated with it, it may be useful to lay before the student a brief
outline of the ground it is proposed to cover, in order to give in proper perspective
a view of the whole subject and of the relative dependence of its several parts.

Briefly, the astral body of man is a vehicle, to clairvoyant sight not unlike the
physical body, surrounded by an aura of flashing colours, composed of matter of
an order of fineness higher than that of physical matter, in which feelings,
passions, desires and emotions are expressed and which acts as a bridge or
medium of transmission between the physical brain and the mind, the latter
operating in the still higher vehicle — the mind-body.

While every man possesses and uses an astral body, comparatively few are
conscious of its existence or can control and function in it in full consciousness.
In the case of large numbers of persons it is scarcely more than an inchoate
mass of astral matter, the movements and activities of which are little under the
control of the man himself—the Ego. With others, however, the astral body is a
well-developed and thoroughly organised vehicle, possessing a life of its own
and conferring on its owner many and useful powers.

During the sleep of the physical body, an undeveloped man leads a dreamy,
vague existence, in his relatively primitive astral body, remembering little or
nothing [Page 2] of his sleep-life when he re-awakens in his physical body.

In the case of a developed man, however, the life in the astral body, whilst the
physical body is wrapped in slumber, is active, interesting and useful, and the
memory of it may, under certain conditions, be brought down into the physical
brain. The life of such a man ceases to be a series of days of consciousness and
nights of oblivion, becoming instead a continuous life of unbroken
consciousness, alternating between the physical and the astral planes or worlds.

One of the first things a man learns to do in his astral body is to travel in it, it
being possible for the astral body to move, with great rapidity, and to great
distances from the sleeping physical body. An understanding of this phenomenon
throws much light on a large number of so-called "occult " phenomena, such as "
apparitions " of many kinds, knowledge of places never visited physically, etc.

The astral body being par excellence the vehicle of feelings and emotions, an
understanding of its composition and of the ways in which it operates is of
considerable value in understanding many aspects of man's psychology, both
individual and collective, and also provides a simple explanation of the
mechanism of many phenomena revealed by modern psycho-analysis.

A clear understanding of the structure and nature of the astral body, of its
possibilities and its limitations, is essential to a comprehension of the life into
which men pass after physical death. The many kinds of " heavens", " hells " and
purgatorial existences believed in by followers of innumerable religions, all fall
naturally into place and become intelligible as soon as we understand the nature
of the astral body and of the astral world.

A study of the astral body will be of assistance also in our understanding of many
of the phenomena of the séance room and of certain psychic or non-physical
methods of healing disease. Those who are interested [Page 3] in what is termed
the fourth dimension will find also a confirmation of many of the theories which
have been formulated by means of geometry and mathematics, in a study of
astral world phenomena, as described by those who have observed them.

A study of the astral body of man thus takes us far afield and expands
enormously a conception of life based solely on the physical world and the purely
physical senses. As we proceed, we shall see that the physical senses,
invaluable as they are, by no means represent the limit of what man's vehicles
may teach him of the worlds in which he lives. The awakening into functioning
activity of astral faculties reveals a new world within the old world and, when a
man becomes able to read aright its significance, he will obtain such an
expanded view of his own life, and all nature, as will reveal to him the almost
limitless possibilities latent in man. From this, sooner or later but inevitably, there
will come the impulse, and later the unshakable determination, to master these
worlds, and himself, to rise superior to his earthly destiny, and to become an
intelligent co-operator with what has been aptly termed the Supreme Will in

We will now proceed to study, in detail, the astral body and many astral
phenomena [Page 4]
ASTRAL matter exists in seven grades or orders of fineness, corresponding to
the seven grades of physical matter, which are solid, liquid, gaseous, etheric,
super-etheric, sub-atomic and atomic. No names for these astral states,
however, having so far been devised, it is usual to describe them, either by the
number of the grade or sub-plane, the finest being Number 1, the coarsest
Number 7, or by the corresponding physical grade. E.g., we speak of astral solid
matter, meaning thereby the seventh or lowest variety: astral etheric matter,
meaning the fourth from the finest: and so on.

Astral matter, being much finer than physical matter, interpenetrates it. Every
physical atom, therefore, floats in a sea of astral matter, which surrounds it and
fills every interstice in physical matter. It is of course, well known that even in the
hardest substance no two atoms ever touch one another, the space between two
adjacent atoms being in fact enormously larger than the atoms themselves.
Orthodox physical science long ago has posited an ether which interpenetrates
all known substances, the densest solid as well as the most rarefied gas; and just
as this ether moves with perfect freedom between the particles of densest
matter, so does astral matter interpenetrate it in turn, and moves with perfect
freedom among its particles. Thus a being living in the astral world might be
occupying the same space as a being living in the physical world ; yet each
would be entirely unconscious of the other, and would in no way impede the free
movement of the other. The student should thoroughly familiarise himself with
this fundamental conception, [Page 5] as, without grasping it clearly, it is not
possible to understand large numbers of astral phenomena.

The principle of interpenetration makes it clear that the different realms of nature
are not separated in space, but exist about us here and now, so that to perceive
and investigate them no movement in space is necessary, but only an opening
within ourselves of the senses by means of which they can be perceived.

The astral world, or plane, is thus a condition of nature, rather than a locality.

It must be noted that a physical atom cannot be directly broken up into astral
atoms. If the force which whirls the (approximately) fourteen thousand million "
bubbles in koilon " into an ultimate physical atom be pressed back by an effort of
will over the threshold of the astral plane, the atom disappears, releasing the "
bubbles." The same force, working then on a higher level, expresses itself, not
through one astral atom, but through a group of forty-nine such atoms.

A similar relationship, represented by the number 49, exists between the atoms
of any two other contiguous planes of nature: thus an astral atom contains 49 5 or
282,475,249 " bubbles," a mental atom, 494 bubbles, and so on.

There is reason to believe that electrons are astral atoms. Physicists state that a
chemical atom of hydrogen contains probably from 700 to 1000 electrons. Occult
research asserts that a chemical atom of hydrogen contains 882 astral atoms.
This may be a coincidence, but that does not seem probable.

It should be noted that ultimate physical atoms c are of two kinds, male and
female : in the male, force pours in from the astral world, passes through the
atom and out into the physical world : in the female, force passes in from the
physical world, through the atom, and out into the astral world, thus vanishing
from the physical world.

Astral matter corresponds with curious accuracy to [Page 6] the physical matter
which it interpenetrates, each variety of physical matter attracting astral matter of
corresponding density. Thus solid physical matter is interpenetrated by what we
call solid astral matter: liquid physical by liquid astral, i.e., by matter of the sixth
sub-plane : and similarly with gaseous and the four grades of etheric matter,
each of which is interpenetrated by the corresponding grade of astral matter.
Precisely as it is necessary that the physical body should contain within its
constitution physical matter in all its conditions, solid, liquid, gaseous and etheric,
so it is indispensable that the astral body should contain particles of all the seven
astral sub-planes, though, of course, the proportions may vary greatly in different

The astral body of man thus being composed of matter of all seven grades, it is
possible for him to experience all varieties of desire to the fullest possible extent,
the highest as well as the lowest.

It is the peculiar type of response possessed by astral matter which enables the
astral matter to serve as the sheath in which the Self can gain experience of

In addition to the ordinary matter of the astral plane, that which is known as the
Third Elemental Kingdom, or simply as the Elemental Essence of the astral
plane, also enters largely into the composition of man's astral body, and forms
what is called the " Desire-Elemental," which we shall deal with more fully in later

Astral elemental essence consists of matter of the six lower levels of the astral
plane, vivified by the Second Outpouring, from the Second Person of the Trinity.
Astral matter of the highest or atomic level, similarly vivified, is known as
Monadic Essence.

In an undeveloped man, the astral body is a cloudy, loosely organised, vaguely

outlined mass of astral matter, with a great predominance of substances from the
lower grades; it is gross, dark in colour, and dense — often so dense that the
outline of the physical [Page 7] body is almost lost in it — and is thus fitted to
respond to stimuli connected with the passions and appetites. In size, it extends
in all directions about ten or twelve inches beyond the physical body.

In an average moral and intellectual man the astral body is considerably larger,
extending about 18 inches on each side of the body, its materials are more
balanced and finer in quality, the presence of the rarer kinds giving a certain
luminous quality to the whole, and its outline is clear and definite.
In the case of a spiritually developed man the astral body is still larger in size and
is composed of the finest particles of each grade of astral matter, the higher
largely predominating.

There is so much to be said regarding the colours of astral bodies that the
subject is reserved for a separate chapter. Here, however, it may be stated that
in undeveloped types the colours are coarse and muddy, gradually becoming
more and more luminous as the man develops emotionally, mentally and
spiritually. The very name " astral," inherited from mediaeval alchemists, signifies
" starry," being intended to allude to the luminous appearance of astral matter.

As already said, the astral body of a man not only permeates the physical body,
but also extends around it in every direction like a cloud.

That portion of the astral body which extends beyond the limits of the physical
body is usually termed the astral "aura."

Intense feeling means a large aura. It may here be mentioned that increased size
of the aura is a prerequisite for Initiation, and the " Qualifications" should be
visible in it. The aura naturally increases with each Initiation. The aura of the
Buddha is said to have been three miles in radius.

The matter of the physical body having a very strong attraction for the matter of
the astral body, it follows that by far the greater portion (about 99 per cent.) of the
astral particles are compressed within the periphery of the physical body, only
the remaining [Page 8] 1 per cent, filling the rest of the ovoid and forming the aura.

The central portion of the astral body thus takes the exact form of the physical
body and is, in fact, very solid and definite, and quite clearly distinguishable from
the surrounding aura. It is usually termed the astral counterpart of the physical
body. The exact correspondence of the astral body with the physical, however, is
merely a matter of external form, and does not at all involve any similarity of
function in the various organs, as we shall see more fully in the chapter on
Not only man's physical body, but everything physical, has its corresponding
order of astral matter in constant association with it, not to be separated from it
except by a very considerable exertion of occult force, and even then only to be
held apart from it as long as force is being definitely exerted to that end. In other
words, every physical object has its astral counterpart. But as the astral particles
are constantly moving among one another as easily as those of a physical liquid,
there is no permanent association between any one physical particle and that
amount of astral matter which happens at any given moment to be acting as its

Usually the astral portion of an object projects somewhat beyond the physical
part of it, so that metals, stones, etc., are seen surrounded by an astral aura.

If some part of a man's physical body be removed, e.g., by amputation, the

coherence of the living astral matter is stronger than its attraction towards the
severed portion of the physical. Consequently the astral counterpart of the limb
will not be carried away with the severed physical limb. Since the astral matter
has acquired the habit of keeping that particular form, it will continue to retain the
original shape, but will soon withdraw within the limits of the maimed form. The
same phenomenon takes place in the case of a tree from which a branch has
been severed. [Page 9]
In the case of an inanimate body, however, such as a chair or a basin, there is
not the same kind of individual life to maintain cohesion. Consequently, when the
physical object is broken the astral counterpart would also be divided.

Quite apart from the seven grades of matter, arranged in order of fineness, there
is also a totally distinct classification of astral matter, according to its type. In
Theosophical literature the degree of fineness is usually designated the
horizontal division, and the type the vertical division. The types, of which there
are seven, are as thoroughly intermingled as are the constituents of the
atmosphere, and in every astral body there is matter of all seven types, the
proportion between them showing the disposition of the man, whether he be
devotional or philosophic, artistic or scientific, pragmatic or mystic.

The whole of the astral portion of our earth and of the physical planets, together
with the purely astral planets of our System, make up collectively the astral body
of the Solar Logos, thus showing that the old pantheistic conception was a true

Similarly each of the seven types of astral matter is to some extent, regarded as
a whole, a separate vehicle, and may be thought of as also the astral body of a
subsidiary Deity or Minister, who is at the same time an aspect of the Deity, a
kind of ganglion or force-centre in Him. Hence the slightest thought, movement or
alteration of any kind in the subsidiary Deity is instantly reflected in some way or
other in all the matter of the corresponding type. Such psychic changes occur
periodically: perhaps they correspond to in-breathing and out-breathing, or to the
beating of the heart with us on the physical plane. It has been observed that the
movements of the physical planets furnish a clue to the operation of the
influences flowing from these changes: hence the rationale of astrological
science. Hence, further, any such alteration must to some extent affect each
man, in proportion to the amount of that type of matter which he [Page 10]
possesses in his astral body. Thus, one change would affect the emotions, or the
mind, or both, another might intensify nervous excitement and irritability, and so
on. It is this proportion which determines in each man, animal, plant or mineral
certain fundamental characteristics which never change — sometimes called his
note, colour, or ray.
To pursue this interesting line of thought further would take us beyond the scope
of this book, so the student is referred to The Hidden Side of Things, Vol. I, pp.

There are seven sub-types in each type, making forty-nine sub-types in all.

The type or ray is permanent through the whole planetary scheme, so that an
elemental essence (see p. 6) of type A will in due course ensoul minerals, plants
and animals of type A, and from it will emerge also human beings of the same

The astral body slowly but constantly wears away, precisely as does the
physical, but, instead of the process of eating and digesting food, the particles
which fall away are replaced by others from the surrounding atmosphere.
Nevertheless, the feeling of individuality is communicated to the new particles as
they enter, and also the elemental essence included with each man's astral body
undoubtedly feels itself a kind of entity, and acts accordingly for what if considers
its own interests.[Page 11]


To clairvoyant sight one of the principal features of an astral body consists of the
colours which are constantly playing through it, these colours corresponding to,
and being the expression in astral matter of feelings, passions and emotions.

All known colours, and many which are at present unknown to us, exist upon
each of the higher planes of nature, but as we rise from one stage to another
they become more delicate and more luminous, so that they may be described
as higher octaves of colour. As it is not possible to portray these octaves
physically on paper, the above facts should be borne in mind when considering
the coloured illustrations of the astral body which are referred to below.

The following is a list of the principal colours and the emotions of which they are
an expression:—

Black: in thick clouds: hatred and malice.

Red: deep red flashes, usually on a black ground: anger.

A scarlet cloud : irritability.

Brilliant scarlet: on the ordinary background of the aura: " noble indignation".

Lurid and sanguinary red: unmistakable, though not easy to describe: sensuality.
Brown-grey : dull, hard brown-grey: selfishness: one of the commonest colours in
the astral body.

Brown-red: dull, almost rust-colour: avarice, usually arranged in parallel bars

across the astral body.

Greenish-brown: lit up by deep red or scarlet flashes : jealousy. In the case of an

ordinary man there is usually much of this colour present when he is "in love".
[Page 12]

Grey: heavy, leaden : depression. Like the brown-red of avarice, arranged in

parallel lines, conveying the impression of a cage.

Grey, livid: a hideous and frightful hue: fear.

Crimson: dull and heavy: selfish love.

Rose-colour: unselfish love. When exceptionally brilliant, tinged with lilac :

spiritual love for humanity.

Orange: pride or ambition. Often found with irritability.

Yellow: intellect: varies from a deep and dull tint, through brilliant gold, to clear
and luminous lemon or primrose yellow. Dull yellow ochre implies the direction of
faculty to selfish purposes: clear gamboge indicates a distinctly higher type;
primrose yellow denotes intellect devoted to spiritual ends; gold indicates pure
intellect applied to philosophy or mathematics.

Green: in general, varies greatly in its significance, and needs study to be

interpreted correctly: mostly it indicates adaptability. Grey-green, slimy in
appearance: deceit and cunning. Emerald green: versatility, ingenuity and
resourcefulness, applied unselfishly. Pale, luminous blue-green: deep sympathy
and compassion, with the power of perfect adaptability which only they can give.
Bright apple-green seems always to accompany strong vitality.

Blue: dark and clear: religious feeling. It is liable to be tinted by many other
qualities, thus becoming any shade from indigo or a rich deep violet to muddy
grey-blue. Light-blue, such as ultramarine or cobalt: devotion to a noble spiritual
ideal. A tint of violet indicates a mixture of affection and devotion. Luminous lilac-
blue, usually accompanied by sparkling golden stars: the higher spirituality, with
lofty spiritual aspirations.

Ultra-violet: higher and purer developments of psychic faculties.

Ultra-red: lower psychic faculties of one who dabbles in evil and selfish forms of
Joy shows itself in a general brightening and radiancy [Page 13] of both mental
and astral bodies, and in a peculiar rippling of the surface of the body.
Cheerfulness shows itself in a modified bubbling form of this, and also in a
steady serenity.

Surprise is shown by a sharp constriction of the mental body, usually

communicated to both the astral and physical bodies, accompanied by an
increased glow of the band of affection if the surprise is a pleasant one, and by
an increase of brown and grey if the surprise is an unpleasant one. The
constriction often causes unpleasant feelings, affecting sometimes the solar
plexus, resulting in sinking and sickness, and sometimes the heart centre,
causing palpitation and even death.

It will be understood that, as human emotions are hardly ever unmixed, so these
colours are seldom perfectly pure, but more usually mixtures. Thus the purity of
many colours is dimmed by the hard brown-grey of selfishness, or tinged with the
deep orange of pride.

In reading the full meaning of colours, other points have also to be taken into
consideration: viz., the general brilliance of the astral body: the comparative
definiteness or indefiniteness of its outline: the relative brightness of the different
centres of force (see Chapter 5).

The yellow of intellect, the rose of affection, and the blue of devotion are always
found in the upper part of the astral body: the colours of selfishness, avarice,
deceit and hatred are in the lower part: the mass of sensual feeling floats usually
between the two.

From this it follows that in the undeveloped man the lower portion of the ovoid
tends to be larger than the upper, so that the astral body has the appearance of
an egg with the small end uppermost. In the more developed man the reverse is
the case, the small end of the egg pointing downwards. The tendency always is
for the symmetry of the ovoid to re-assert itself by degrees, so that such
appearances are only temporary.

Each quality, expressed as a colour, has its own special type of astral matter,
and the average position [Page 14] of these colours depends upon the specific
gravity of the respective grades of matter. The general principle is that evil or
selfish qualities express themselves in the comparatively slow vibrations of
coarser matter, while good and unselfish qualities play through finer matter.

This being so, fortunately for us, good emotions persist even longer than evil
ones, the effect of a feeling of strong love or devotion remaining in the astral
body long after the occasion that caused it has been forgotten.

It is possible, though unusual, to have two rates of vibrations going on strongly in

the astral body at the same time, e.g., love and anger. The after-results will go on
side by side, but one at a very much higher level than the other and therefore
persisting longer.

High unselfish affection and devotion belong to the highest (atomic) astral sub-
plane, and these reflect themselves in the corresponding matter of the mental
plane. They thus touch the causal (higher mental) body, not the lower mental.
This is an important point of which the student should take especial note. The
Ego, who resides on the higher mental plane, is thus affected only by unselfish
thoughts. Lower thoughts affect, not the Ego, but the permanent atoms (see p.

Consequently, in the causal body there would be gaps, not bad colours,
corresponding to the lower feelings and thoughts. Selfishness, for example,
would show itself as the absence of affection or sympathy: as soon as
selfishness is replaced by its opposite, the gap in the causal body would be filled

An intensification of the coarse colours of the astral body, representing base

emotions, whilst finding no direct expression in the causal body, nevertheless
tends somewhat to dim the luminosity of the colours representing the opposite
virtues in the causal body.

In order to realise the appearance of the astral body, it must be borne in mind
that the particles of which [Page 15] it is composed are always in rapid motion: in
the vast majority of cases the clouds of colour melt into one another and are all
the while rolling over one another, appearing and disappearing as they roll, the
surface of the luminous mist resembling somewhat the surface of violently boiling
water. The various colours, therefore, by no means retain the same positions,
though there is a normal position towards which they tend to return.

The student is referred to the book, Man Visible and Invisible, by C. W.

Leadbeater, for illustrations of the actual appearance of astral bodies : —
Plate VII., p 88, Astral body of savage.
Plate X., p. 94, Astral body of average man.
Plate XXIII., p. 123, Astral body of developed man. (Edition 1902.)

The main characteristics of the three types illustrated — the savage, the average
man and the developed man — may be briefly summarised as follows :—

Savage Type. — A very large proportion of sensuality, deceit, selfishness and

greed are conspicuous: fierce anger is implied by smears and blots of dull
scarlet: very little affection appears, and such intellect and religious feeling as
exist are of the lowest possible kind. The outline is irregular and the colours
blurred, thick and heavy. The whole body is evidently ill-regulated, confused and
Average Man.—Sensuality is much less though still prominent: selfishness is
also prominent and there is some capability of deceit for personal ends, though
the green is beginning to divide into two distinct qualities, showing that cunning is
gradually becoming adaptability. Anger is still marked: affection, intellect and
devotion are more prominent and of a higher quality. The colours as a whole are
more clearly defined and distinctly brighter, though none of them are perfectly
clear. The outline of the body is more defined and regular.

Developed Man.— Undesirable qualities have almost entirely disappeared:

across the top of the body there [Page 16] is a strip of lilac, indicating spiritual
aspiration: above and enveloping the head there is a cloud of the brilliant yellow
of intellect: below that there is a broad belt of the blue of devotion: then across
the trunk there is a still wider belt of the rose of affection, and in the lower part of
the body a large amount of the green of adaptability and sympathy finds its place.
The colours are bright, luminous, in clearly marked bands, the outline is well
defined, and the whole astral body conveys the impression of being orderly and
under perfect control.

Although we are not in this book dealing with the mental body, yet it should be
mentioned that as a man develops, his astral body more and more resembles his
mental body, until it becomes little more than a reflection of it in the grosser
matter of the astral plane. This, of course, indicates that the man has his desires
thoroughly under the control of the mind and is no longer apt to be swept away
by surges of emotion. Such a man will no doubt be subject to occasional
irritability, and to undesirable cravings of various sorts, but he knows enough now
to repress these lower manifestations and not to yield to them.

At a still later stage the mental body itself becomes a reflection of the causal
body, since the man now learns to follow solely the promptings of the higher self,
and to guide his reason exclusively by them.

Thus the mind body and the astral body of an Arhat would have very little
characteristic colour of their own, but would be reproductions of the causal body
in so far as their lower octaves could express it. They have a lovely iridescence,
a sort of opalescent, mother-of-pearl effect, which is far beyond either description
or representation.

A developed man has five rates of vibration in his astral body : an ordinary man
shows at least nine rates, with a mixture of various shades in addition. Many
people have 50 or 100 rates, the whole surface being broken up into a multiplicity
of little whirlpools and cross-currents, all battling one against another [Page 17] in
mad confusion. This is the result of unnecessary emotion and worries, the
ordinary person of the West being a mass of these, through which much of his
strength is frittered away.
An astral body which vibrates fifty ways at once is not only ugly but also a serious
annoyance. It may be compared to a physical body suffering from an aggravated
form of palsy, with all its muscles jerking simultaneously in different directions.
Such astral effects are contagious and affect all sensitive persons who approach,
communicating a painful sense of unrest and worry. It is just because millions of
people are thus unnecessarily agitated by all sorts of foolish desires and feelings
that it is so difficult for a sensitive person to live in a great city or move amongst
crowds. The perpetual astral disturbances may even react through the etheric
double and set up nervous diseases.

The centres of inflammation in the astral body are to it what boils are to the
physical body — not only acutely uncomfortable, but also weak spots through
which vitality leaks away. They also offer practically no resistance to evil
influences, and prevent good influences from being of profit. This condition is
painfully common: the remedy is to eliminate worry, fear and annoyance. The
student of occultism must not have personal feelings that can be affected under
any circumstances whatever.

Only a young child has a white or comparatively colourless aura, the colours
beginning to show only as the qualities develop. The astral body of a child is
often a most beautiful object — pure and bright in its colours, free from the stains
of sensuality, avarice, ill-will and selfishness. In it may also be seen lying latent
the germs and tendencies brought over from his last life (see p. 211), some of
them evil, some good, and thus the possibilities of the child's future life may be

The yellow of intellect, found always near the head, is the origin of the idea of the
nimbus or glory round [Page 18] the head of a saint, since this yellow is much the
most conspicuous of the colours of the astral body, and the one most easily
perceived by a person on the verge of clairvoyance. Sometimes, owing to the
unusual activity of the intellect, the yellow may become visible even in physical
matter, so as to be perceptible to ordinary physical sight.

We have already seen that the astral body has a certain normal arrangement,
into which its various portions tend to group themselves. A sudden rush of
passion or feeling, however, may temporarily force the whole, or almost the
whole, of the matter in an astral body to vibrate at a certain rate, thus producing
quite striking results. All the matter of the astral body is swept about as if by a
violent hurricane, so that for the time being the colours become very much
mixed. Coloured examples of this phenomenon are given in Man Visible and
Invisible :—

Plate XI., p. 96, Sudden rush of Affection.

Plate XII., p. 98, Sudden rush of Devotion.
Plate XIII., p. 100, Intense Anger.
Plate XIV., p. 103, Shock of Fear.
In the case of a sudden wave of pure affection, when, for example, a mother
snatches up her baby and covers it with kisses, the whole astral body in a
moment is thrown into a violent agitation, and the original colours are for the time
almost obscured.

Analysis discovers four separate effects: —

(1) Certain coils or vortices of vivid colour are to be seen, well-defined and solid-
looking, and glowing with an intense light from within. Each of these is in reality a
thought-form of intense affection, generated within the astral body, and about to
be poured forth from it towards the object of the feeling. The whirling clouds of
living light are indescribably lovely, though difficult to depict.

(2) The whole astral body is crossed by horizontal pulsating lines of crimson light,
even more difficult to represent, by reason of the exceeding rapidity of their
motion. [Page 19]

(3) A kind of film of rose-colour covers the surface of the whole astral body, so
that all within is seen through it, as through tinted glass.

(4) A sort of crimson flush fills the entire astral body, tinging to some extent the
other hues, and here and there condensing itself into irregular floating wisps, like
half-formed clouds.

This display would probably last only a few seconds, and then the body would
rapidly resume its normal condition, the various grades of matter sorting
themselves again into their usual zones by their specific gravities. Yet every such
rush of feeling adds a little to the crimson in the higher part of the oval and
makes it a little easier for the astral body to respond to the next wave of affection
which may come.

Similarly, a man who frequently feels high devotion soon comes to have a large
area of blue in his astral body. The effects of such impulses are thus cumulative:
and in addition the radiation of vivid vibrations of love and joy produce good
influences on others.

With the substitution of blue for crimson, a sudden access of devotion, surging
over a nun engaged in contemplation, produces an almost identical effect.

In the case of intense anger, the ordinary background of the astral body is
obscured by coils or vortices of heavy, thunderous masses of sooty blackness, lit
up from within by the lurid glare of active hatred. Wisps of the same dark cloud
are to be seen defiling the whole astral body, while the fiery arrows of
uncontrolled anger shoot among them like flashes of lightning. These terrible
flashes are capable of penetrating other astral bodies like swords and thus
inflicting injury upon other people.

In this instance, as in the others, each outburst of rage would predispose the
matter of the entire astral body to respond somewhat more readily than before to
these very undesirable vibrations.

A sudden shock of terror will in an instant suffuse the whole body with a curious
livid grey mist, while horizontal lines of the same hue appear, but vibrating [Page
20] with such violence as to be hardly recognisable as separate lines. The result
is indescribably ghastly: all light fades out for the time from the body and the
whole grey mass quivers helplessly like a jelly.

A flood of emotion does not greatly affect the mental body, though for a time it
may render it almost impossible for any activity from the mental body to come
through into the physical brain, because the astral body, which acts as a bridge
between the mental body and the brain, is vibrating so entirely at one rate as to
be incapable of conveying any undulation which is not in harmony with it.

The above are examples of the effects of sudden and temporary outbursts of
feeling. There are other somewhat similar effects of a more permanent character
produced by certain dispositions or types of character.

Thus, when an ordinary man falls in love, the astral body is so completely
transformed as to make it scarcely recognisable as belonging to the same
person. Selfishness, deceit and avarice vanish, and the lowest part of the oval is
filled with a large development of animal passions. The green of adaptability has
been replaced by the peculiar brownish-green of jealousy, and the extreme
activity of this feeling is shown by bright scarlet flashes of anger which permeate
it. But the undesirable changes are more than counterbalanced by the splendid
band of crimson which fills so large a part of the oval. This is, for the time, a
dominant characteristic, and the whole astral body glows with its light. Under its
influence the general muddiness of the ordinary astral body has disappeared,
and the hues are all brilliant and clearly marked, good and bad alike. It is an
intensification of the life in various directions. The blue of devotion is also
distinctly improved, and even a touch of pale violet appears at the summit of the
ovoid, indicating a capacity of response to a really high and unselfish ideal. The
yellow of intellect, however, has entirely vanished for the time — a fact which the
cynical might consider as characteristic of the condition ! [Page 21]

The astral body of an irritable man usually shows a broad band of scarlet as a
prominent feature, and, in addition, the whole astral body is covered with little
floating flecks of scarlet, somewhat like notes of interrogation.

In the case of a miser, avarice, selfishness, deceit and adaptability are naturally
intensified, but sensuality is diminished. The most remarkable change, however,
is the curious series of parallel horizontal lines across the oval, giving the
impression of a cage. The bars are a deep brown in colour, almost burnt sienna.

The vice of avarice seems to have the effect of completely arresting development
for the time, and it is very difficult to shake off when once it has gained a firm

Deep depression produces an effect in grey, instead of brown, very similar to that
of the miser. The result is indescribably gloomy and depressing to the observer.
No emotional condition is more infectious than the feeling of depression.

In the case of a non-intellectual man who is definitely religious, the astral body
assumes a characteristic appearance. A touch of violet suggests the possibility of
response to a high ideal. The blue of devotion is unusually well developed, but
the yellow of intellect is scanty. There is a fair proportion of affection and
adaptability, but more than the average of sensuality, and deceit and selfishness
are also prominent. The colours are irregularly distributed, melting into one
another, and the outline is vague, indicating the vagueness of the devotional
man's conceptions.

Extreme sensuality and the devotional temperament are frequently seen in

association: perhaps because these types of men live chiefly in their feelings,
being governed by them instead of trying to control them by reason.

A great contrast is shown by a man of a scientific type. Devotion is entirely

absent, sensuality is much below the average, but the intellect is developed to
[Page 22] an abnormal degree. Affection and adaptability are small in quantity and
poor in quality. A good deal of selfishness and avarice is present and also some
jealousy. A huge cone of bright orange in the midst of the golden yellow of
intellect indicates pride and ambition in connection with the knowledge that has
been acquired. The scientific and orderly habit of mind causes the arrangement
of the colours to fall into regular bands, the lines of demarcation being quite
definite and clearly marked.

The student is urged to study for himself the admirable book from which the
above information is taken, this being one of the most valuable of the many
works produced by that great and gifted writer — C. W. Leadbeater.

As we have been dealing here with colours in the astral body, it may be
mentioned that the means of communication with the elementals, which are
associated so closely with man's astral body, is by sounds and colours. Students
may recollect obscure allusions now and again to a language of colours, and the
fact that in ancient Egypt sacred manuscripts were written in colours, mistakes in
copying being punished with death. To elementals, colours are as intelligible as
words are to men. [Page 23]

THE functions of the astral body may be roughly grouped under three headings:

1. To make sensation possible.

2. To serve as a bridge between mind and physical matter.
3. To act as an independent vehicle of consciousness and action.

We will deal with these three functions in sequence.

When man is analysed into " principles," i.e., into modes of manifesting life, the
four lower principles, sometimes termed the "Lower Quaternary", are :—
Physical Body.
Etheric Body
Prâna, or Vitality.
Kâma, or Desire.
The fourth principle, Kâma, is the life manifesting in the astral body and
conditioned by it: its characteristic is the attribute of feeling, which in rudimentary
form is sensation, and in complex form emotion, with many grades in between
these two. This is sometimes summed up as desire, that which is attracted or
repelled by objects, according as they give pleasure or pain.

Kâma thus includes feelings of every kind, and might be described as the
passional and emotional nature. It comprises all animal appetites, such as
hunger, thirst, sexual desire: all passions, such as the lower forms of love,
hatred, envy, jealousy; it is the desire for sentient existence, for experience of
material joys — "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life".

Kâma is the brute in us, the "ape and tiger" of Tennyson, the force which most
avails to keep us [Page 24] bound to earth and to stifle in us all higher longings by
the illusions of sense. It is the most material in man's nature, and is the one that
binds him fast to earthly life. " It is not molecularly constituted matter, least of all
the human body, Sthûla Sharira, that is the grossest of all our ' principles', but
verily the middle principle, the real animal centre; whereas our body is but its
shell, the irresponsible factor and medium through which the beast in us acts all
its life" (Secret Doctrine,Volume I, pages 280 and 281.

Kâma or Desire is also described as a reflection or lower aspect of Atma or Will,

the distinction being that Will is Self-determined, whereas Desire is moved to
activity by attractions to or repulsions from surrounding objects. Desire is thus
Will discrowned, the captive, the slave of matter.

Another way of regarding Kâma has been well expressed by Mr. Ernest Wood in
his illuminating book The Seven Rays: Kâma " means all desire. And desire is
the outward-turned aspect of love, the love of the things of the three worlds; while
love proper is love of life and love of the divine, and belongs to the higher or
inward-turned self."

For our purposes in this book desire and emotion are frequently used as
practically synonymous: strictly, however, emotion is the product of desire and

The astral body is often known as the Kâma Rûpa: and sometimes, in the older
nomenclature, as the Animal Soul.

Impacts from without, striking on the physical body, are conveyed as vibrations
by the agency of Prâna or Vitality, but they would remain as vibrations only,
merely motion on the physical plane, did not Kâma, the principle of sensation,
translate the vibration into feeling. Thus pleasure and pain do not arise until the
astral centre is reached. Hence Kâma joined to Prâna is spoken of as the "breath
of life", the vital sentient principle spread over every particle of the body. [Page 25]

It appears that certain organs of the physical body are specifically associated
with the workings of Kâma: among these are the liver and the spleen.

It may be noted here that Kâma, or desire, is just beginning to be active in the
mineral kingdom, where it expresses itself as chemical affinity.

In the vegetable kingdom it is, of course, much more developed, indicating a far
greater capacity of utilising lower astral matter. Students of botany are aware that
likes and dislikes, i.e., desire, are much more prominent in the vegetable world
than in the mineral, and that many plants exhibit a great deal of ingenuity and
sagacity in attaining their ends.

Plants are quick to respond to loving care and are distinctly affected by man's
feelings towards them. They delight in and respond to admiration: they are also
capable of individual attachments, as well as of anger and dislike.

Animals are capable to the fullest possible extent of experiencing the lower
desires, though the capacity for the higher desires is more limited. Nevertheless
it exists, and in exceptional cases an animal is capable of manifesting an
exceedingly high quality of affection or devotion.

Passing now to the second function of the astral body — to act as a bridge
between mind and physical matter — we note that an impact on the physical
senses is transmitted inwards by Prâna, becomes a sensation by the action of
the sense-centres, which are situated in Kâma, and is perceived by Manas, or
Mind. Thus, without the general action through the astral body there would be no
connection between the external world and the mind of man, no connection
between physical impacts and the perception of them by the mind.

Conversely, whenever we think, we set in motion the mental matter within us; the
vibrations thus generated are transferred to the matter of our astral body, the
astral matter affects the etheric matter, this, in turn, acting on the dense physical
matter, the grey matter of the brain. [Page 26]

The astral body is thus veritably a bridge between our physical and our mental
life, serving as a transmitter of vibrations both from physical to mental and from
mental to physical, and is, in fact, principally developed by this constant passage
of vibrations to and fro.

In the course of the evolution of man's astral body, there are two distinct stages:
the astral body has first to be developed to a fairly high point as a transmitting
vehicle: then it has to be developed as an independent body, in which the man
can function on the astral plane.

In man, the normal brain-intelligence is produced by the union of Kâma with

Manas, or Mind, this union being often spoken of as Kâma-Manas. Kâma-Manas
is described by H. P. Blavatsky as " the rational, but earthly or physical intellect of
man, encased in, and bound by matter, and therefore subject to the influence of
the latter"; this is the "lower self" which, acting on this plane of illusion, imagines
itself to be the real Self or Ego, and thus falls into what Buddhist philosophy
terms the " heresy of separateness".

Kâma-Manas, that is Manas with desire, has also been picturesquely described
as Manas taking an interest in external things.

It may, in passing, be noted that a clear understanding of the fact that Kâma-
Manas belongs to the human personality, and that it functions in and through the
physical brain, is essential to a just grasp of the process of reincarnation, and is
sufficient of itself to show how there can be no memory of previous lives so long
as the consciousness cannot rise beyond the brain-mechanism, this mechanism,
together with that of Kâma, being made afresh each life, and therefore having no
direct touch with previous lives.

Manas, of itself, could not affect the molecules of the physical brain cells: but,
when united to Kâma, it is able to set the physical molecules in motion, and thus
produce " brain-consciousness", including the brain memory and all the functions
of the human [Page 27] mind, as we ordinarily know it. It is, of course, not the
Higher Manas, but the Lower Manas, (i.e., matter of the four lower levels of the
mental plane), which is associated with Kâma. In Western psychology, this
Kâma-Manas becomes a part of what in that system is termed Mind. Kâma-
Manas, forming the link between the higher and lower nature in man, is the
battleground during life, and also, as we shall see later, plays an important part in
post-mortem existence.
So close is the association of Manas and Kâma that the Hindus speak of man
having five sheaths, one of which is for all manifestations of working intellect and
desire. These five are: -
1 Anandamayakosha the Bliss sheath Buddhi
Higher Manas and
2 Vignânamayakosha the Discriminating sheath
the sheath of Intellect and Lower Manas and
3 Manomayakosha
Desire Kâma
4 Prânamayakosha the Vitality sheath Prâna
Dense physical
5 Annamayakosha the Food sheath

In the division used by Manu, the prânamayakosha and the annamayakosha are
classed together, and known as the Bhûtâtman or elemental self, or body of
The vignânamayakosha and the manomayakosha he terms the body of feeling,
giving it the name Jîva: he defines it as that body in which the Knower, the
Kshetragna, becomes sensible of pleasure and of pains.
In their external relations, the vignânamayakosha and the manomayakosha,
especially the manomayakosha, are related to the Deva world. The Devas are
said to have "entered into" man, the reference being to the presiding deities of
the elements (see page 188). Those presiding deities give rise to sensations in
man, changing the contacts from without into [Page 28] sensations, or the
recognition of the contacts, from within, this being essentially a Deva action.
Hence the link with all these lower Devas, which, when supreme control has
been obtained, makes man the master in every region of the Universe.

Manas, or mind, being unable, as said above, to affect the gross particles of the
brain, projects a part of itself, i.e., lower Manas, which clothes itself with astral
matter, and then with the help of etheric matter permeates the whole nervous
system of the child before birth. The projection from Manas is often spoken of as
its reflection, its shadow, its ray, and is known also by other allegorical names. H.
P. Blavatsky writes (Key to Theosophy, p. 184) : " Once imprisoned, or incarnate,
their (the Manas) essence becomes dual; that is to say, the rays of the eternal
divine Mind, considered as individual entities, assume a two-fold attribute, which
is (a) their essential, inherent, characteristic, heaven-aspiring mind (higher
Manas), and (b) the human quality of thinking, of animal cogitation, rationalised
owing to the superiority of the human brain, the Kâma-tending or lower Manas".

Lower Manas is thus engulfed in the quaternary, and may be regarded as

clasping Kâma with one hand, whilst with the other it retains its hold on its father,
the higher Manas. Whether it will be dragged down by Kâma altogether and be
torn away from the triad (atmâ-buddhi-manas) to which, by its nature it belongs,
or whether it will triumphantly carry back to its source the purified experiences of
its earth life — that is the life-problem set and solved in each successive
incarnation. This point will be considered further in the chapters on After-Death

Kama thus supplies the animal and passional elements; lower Manas rationalises
these and adds the intellectual faculties. In man these two principles are
interwoven during life and rarely act separately.

Manas may be regarded as the flame, Kâma and the physical brain as the wick
and fuel which feed the flame. The egos of all men, developed or undeveloped,
[Page 29] are of the same essence and substance: that which makes of one a
great man, and of another a vulgar, silly person, is the quality and make-up of the
physical body, and the ability of the brain and body to transmit and express the
light of the real inner man.

In brief, Kâma-Manas is the personal self of man: Lower Manas gives the
individualising touch that makes the personality recognise itself as "I", Lower
Manas is a ray from the immortal Thinker, illuminating a personality. It is Lower
Manas which yields the last touch of delight to the senses and to the animal
nature, by conferring the power of anticipation, memory and imagination.

Whilst it would be out of place in this book to encroach too far into the domain of
Manas and the mental body, yet it may help the student at this stage to add that
freewill resides in Manas, Manas being the representative of Mahat, the
Universal Mind. In physical man, the Lower Manas is the agent of freewill. From
Manas comes the feeling of liberty, the knowledge that we can rule ourselves,
that the higher nature can master the lower. To identify the consciousness with
the Manas, instead of with Kâma, is thus an important step on the road to self-

The very struggle of Manas to assert itself is the best testimony that it is by
nature free. It is the presence and power of the ego which enables a man to
choose between desires and to overcome them. As the lower Manas rules Kâma,
the lower quaternary takes its rightful position of subservience to the higher triad
— atmâ-buddhi-manas.

We may classify the principles of man in the following manner:—

-1- Buddhi Immortal
Higher Manas
-2- Kâma-Manas Conditionally Immortal
-3- Etheric Double Mortal
Dense Body
[Page 30] We come now to consider the third function of the astral body — as an
independent vehicle of consciousness and action. The full treatment of this
portion of our subject — the use, development, possibilities and limitations of the
astral body on its own plane — will be dealt with step by step in most of the
succeeding chapters. For the present it will suffice to enumerate very briefly the
principal ways in which an astral body can be used as an independent vehicle of
consciousness. These are as follows : —

1. During ordinary waking consciousness, i.e., while the physical brain and
senses are wide-awake, the powers of the astral senses may be brought into
action. Some of these powers correspond to the senses and powers of action
possessed by the physical body. They will be dealt with in the next chapter, on

2. During sleep or trance it is possible for the astral body to separate itself from
the physical body and to move about and function freely on its own plane. This
will be dealt with in the chapter on Sleep-Life.

3. It is possible so to develop the powers of the astral body that a man may
consciously and deliberately, at any time that he chooses, leave the physical
body and pass with unbroken consciousness into the astral body. This will be
dealt with in the chapter on Continuity of Consciousness.

4. After physical death the consciousness withdraws itself into the astral body,
and a life, varying greatly in intensity and duration, dependent upon a number of
factors, may be led on the astral plane. This will be dealt with in the chapters on
After-Death Life.

These divisions of our subject, with numerous ramifications, will constitute the
major portion of the remainder of this treatise. [Page 31]

THE word Chakram is Sanskrit, and means literally a wheel, or revolving disc. It
is used to denote what are often called Force-Centres in man. There are such
Chakrams in all man's vehicles, and they are points of connection at which force
flows from one vehicle to another. They are also intimately associated with the
powers or senses of the various vehicles.

The Chakrams of the etheric body are fully described in The Etheric Double, and
the student is referred to that work, as a study of the etheric Chakrams will
materially assist him to understand the astral Chakrams.
The etheric Chakrams are situated in the surface of the etheric double and are
usually denoted by the name of the physical organ to which they correspond.

They are: —

1. Base of Spine Chakram.

2. Navel Chakram.
3. Spleen Chakram.
4. Heart Chakram.
5. Throat Chakram.
6. Between the Eyebrows Chakram.
7. Top of the Head Chakram.

There are also three lower Chakrams, but as these are used only in certain
schools of " black magic," we are not concerned with them here.

The astral Chakrams, which are frequently in the interior of the etheric double,
are vortices in four dimensions (see Chapter 18), thus having an extension in a
direction quite different from the etheric: consequently, though they correspond to
the etheric Chakrams, they are by no means always coterminous with them,
though some part is always coincident. [Page 32]

The astral Chakrams are given the same names as those in the etheric double,
and their functions are as follows:—

1. Base of Spine Chakram.—This is the seat of the Serpent Fire, Kundalini, a

force which exists on all planes and by means of which the rest of the Chakrams
are aroused.

Originally, the astral body was an almost inert mass, possessing but the vaguest
consciousness, with no definite power of doing anything, and with no clear
knowledge of the world surrounding it. The first thing that happened was the
awakening of Kundalini at the astral level.

2. Navel Chakram.— Kundalini having been awakened in the first Chakram, it

moved to the navel Chakram, which it vivified, thus awakening in the astral body
the power of feeling — a sensitiveness to all sorts of influences, though without
as yet anything like the definite comprehension that conies from seeing and

3. Spleen Chakram.—Kundalini then moved to the spleen Chakram, and through

it vitalised the whole astral body, this Chakram having as one of its functions the
absorption of Prâna, the Vitality Force, which also exists on all planes. The
vivification of the spleen Chakram enables the man to travel in his astral body
consciously, though with only a vague conception as yet of what he encounters
on his journeys.
4. Heart Chakram.—This Chakram enables the man to comprehend and
sympathise with the vibrations of other astral entities, so that he can instinctively
understand their feelings.

5. Throat Chakram.—This Chakram confers the power in the astral world which
corresponds to hearing in the physical world.

6. Between the Eyebrows Chakram.—This Chakram confers the power to

perceive definitely the shape and nature of astral objects, instead of merely
vaguely sensing their presence.

Associated with this Chakram appears also the power [Page 33] of magnifying at
will the minutest physical or astral particle to any desired size, as though by a
microscope. This power enables an occult investigator to perceive and study
molecules, atoms, etc. The full control of this faculty, however, belongs rather to
the causal body.

The power of magnification is one of the siddhis described in Oriental books as

"the power of making oneself large or small at will." The description is apposite,
because the method employed is that of using a temporary visual mechanism of
inconceivable minuteness. Conversely, minification of vision may be obtained by
the construction of a temporary and enormously larger visual mechanism.

The power of magnification is quite distinct from the faculty of functioning on a

higher plane, just as the power of an astronomer to observe planets and stars is
quite a different thing from the ability to move or function amongst them.

In the Hindu sutras it is stated that meditation in a certain part of the tongue will
confer astral sight. The statement is a " blind," the reference being to the pituitary
body, situated just over this part of the tongue.

7. Top of the Head Chakram.—This Chakram rounds off and completes the
astral life, endowing the man with the perfection of his faculties.

There appear to be two methods in which this Chakram works.

In one type of man, the sixth and seventh Chakrams both converge upon the
pituitary body, this body being for this type practically the only direct link between
the physical and the higher planes.

In another type of man, however, while the sixth Chakram is still attached to the
pituitary body, the seventh Chakram is bent or slanted until its vortex coincides
with the pineal gland. In people of this type the pineal gland is thus vivified and
made into a line of communication directly with the lower mental, without
apparently passing through the intermediate astral plane in the ordinary way.
[Page 34]
In the physical body, as we know, there are specialised organs for each sense,
the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, and so on. In the astral body, however,
this is not the case.
The particles of the astral body are constantly flowing and swirling about like
those of boiling water: consequently, there are no special particles which remain
continuously in any of the Chakrams. On the contrary, all the particles of the
astral body pass through each of the Chakrams.
Each Chakram has the function of awakening a certain power of response in the
particles, which flow through it, one Chakram the power of sight, another that of
hearing, and so on.
Consequently, any one astral sense is not, strictly speaking, localised or confined
to any particular part of the astral body. It is rather the whole of the particles of
the astral body which possess the power of response. A man, therefore, who has
developed astral sight uses any part of the matter of his astral body in order to
see, and so can see equally well objects in front, behind, above, below, or to
either side. Similarly with all the other senses. In other words, the astral senses
are equally active in all parts of the body.
It is not easy to describe the substitute for language by means of which ideas are
communicated astrally. Sound in the ordinary sense of the word is not possible in
the astral world - in fact it is not possible even in the higher part of the physical
world. It would also not be correct to say that the language of the astral world is
thought-transference: the most that could be said is that it is the transference of
thoughts formulated in a particular way.
In the mental world a though is instantaneously transmitted to the mind of
another without any form of words : therefore in the mental world language does
not in the least matter. But astral communications lies, as it were, half-way
between the thought-transference of the mental world and the concrete speech
of the physical, and it is still necessary to [Page 35] to formulate the thought in
words. For this exchange it is therefore necessary that the two parties should
have a language in common.
The astral and etheric Chakrams are in very close correspondence; but between
them, and interpenetrating them in a manner which is not readily describable,
there is a sheath or web of closely woven texture, composed of a single layer of
physical atoms much compressed and permeated by a special form of Prâna.
The divine life which normally descends from the astral body to the physical is so
attuned as to pass through this shield with perfect ease, but it is an absolute
barrier to all the forces which cannot use the atomic matter of both planes. The
web is natural protection to prevent a premature opening up of communication
between the planes, a development which could lead to nothing but injury.
It is this which normally prevents clear recollection of the sleep-life, and which
also causes the momentary unconsciousness which always occurs at death. But
for this provision the ordinary man could at any moment be brought by any astral
entity under the influence of forces with which he could not possibly cope. He
would be liable to constant obsession by astral entities desirous of seizing his

The web may be injured in several ways : -

1- A great shock of the astral body, e.g., a sudden fright, may rend apart this
delicate organism and, as it is commonly expressed, drive the man mad.
A tremendous outburst of anger may also produce the same effect, as may any
other very strong emotion of an evil character which produces a kind of explosion
in the astral body.
2- The use of alcohol or narcotic drugs, including tobacco. These substances
contain matter which on braking up volatilises, some of it passing from the
physical to the astral plane. Even tea and coffee contain this matter, but only in
infinitesimal quantities, so that only long-continued abuse of them would produce
the effect. [Page 36]

These constituents rush through the Chakras in the opposite direction to that for
which they are intended, and in doing this repeatedly they seriously injure and
finally destroy the delicate web.
This deterioration or destruction may take place in two ways, according to the
type of person concerned and to the proportion of the constituents in his etheric
and astral bodies.
In one type of person the rush of volatilising matter actually burns away the web,
and therefore leaves the door open to all sorts of irregular forces and evil
influences. Those affected in this way fall into delirium tremens, obsession of
In the other type of person, the volatile constituents, in flowing through, somehow
harden the atom so that its pulsation is to a large extent checked and crippled,
and it is no longer capable of being vitalised by the particular type of Prâna which
welds it into a web. This results in a kind of ossification of the web, so that
instead of too much coming through from one plane to another, we have very
little of any kind coming through. Such subjects tend to a general deadening
down of their qualities, resulting in gross materialism, brutality and animalism, in
the loss of all finer feelings and of the power to control themselves. This type is
said to be very common amongst slaves of the tobacco habit.
All impressions which pass from one plane to the other are intended to come
only through the atomic sub-planes, but when the deadening process takes place
it infects not only other atomic matter, but even matter of the second and third
sub-planes, so that the only communication between the astral and the etheric is
from the lower sub-planes, upon which only unpleasant and evil influences are to
be found.
The consciousness of the ordinary man cannot yet use pure atomic matter, either
of the physical or astral and therefore there is normally for him no possibility of
conscious communication at will between the two planes. The proper way to
obtain it is to purify the vehicles [Page 37] until the atomic matter in both is fully
vivified, so that all communications between the two may pass by that road. In
that case the web retains to the fullest degree its position and activity, and yet is
no longer a barrier to the perfect communication, while it still continues to prevent
close contact with the lower and undesirable sub-planes.
3 - The third way in which the web may be injured is that known in spiritualistic
parlance as "sitting for development".
It is quite possible, in fact very common, for a man to have his astral Chakras
well developed, so that he is able to function freely on the astral plane, and yet
he may recollect nothing of his astral plane when he returns to waking
consciousness. With this phenomenon and its explanation we shall deal more
appropriately in the Chapter on Dreams. [Page 38]

The student is referred to The Etheric Double for a description of Kundalini with
special reference to the etheric body and its Chakras. Here we are concerned
with it in connection with the astral body.
The three known forces which emanate from the Logos are: -
1. Fohat : which shows itself as electricity, heat, light motion, etc.

2. Prâna ; which shows itself as vitality.

3. Kundalini : also known as the Serpent Fire.
Each of these three forces exists on all planes of which we know anything. So far
as is known, no one of the three is convertible into any of the others: they each
remain separate and distinct.
Kundalini is called in The Voice of the Silence "the Fiery Power", and "the
World's Mother". The first, because it appears like liquid fire as it rushes through
the body; and the course it should follow is a spiral one, like the coils of a
serpent. It is called the World's Mother because through it our various vehicles
may be vivified, so that the higher worlds may open before us in succession.
Its home in man's body is the Chakram at the base of the spine, and for the
ordinary man it lies there unawakened and unsuspected during the whole of his
life. It is far better for it to remain dormant until the man has made definite moral
development, until his will is strong enough to control it and his thoughts pure
enough to enable him to face its awakening without injury. No one should
experiment with it without definite instruction from a teacher who thoroughly
understands the subject, for the dangers [Page 39] connected with it are very real
and terribly serious. Some of them are purely physical. Its uncontrolled
movement often produces intense physical pain, and it may readily tear tissues,
and even destroy physical life. It may also do permanent injury to vehicles higher
than the physical.
One very common effect of rousing it prematurely is that it rushes downwards in
the body instead of upwards, and thus excites the most undersirable passions -
excites them and intensifies their effects to such a degree that it becomes quite
impossible for the man to resist them, because a force has been brought into
play in whose presence he is quite helpless. Such men becomes satyrs,
monsters of depravity, the force being beyond the normal human power of
resistance. They may probably gain certain supernormal powers, but these will
be such as will bring them into touch with a lower order of evolution, with which
humanity is intended to hold no commerce, and to escape from its thralldom may
take more than one incarnation.
There is a school of black magic which purposely uses this power in this way, in
order that through it may be vivified those lower Chakrams which are never used
by followers of the Good Law.
The premature unfoldment of Kundalini has other unpleasant possibilities. It
intensifies everything in the man's nature, and it reaches the lower and evil
qualities more readily than the good. In the mental body, ambition is very readily
aroused, and soon swells to an incredibly inordinate degree. It would probably
bring with it a great intensification of intellect, accompagnied by abnormal and
satanic pride, such as is quite inconceivable to the ordinary men.
An uninstructed man who finds that Kundalini has been aroused by accident
should at once consult some one who fully understands these matters.
The arousing of Kundalini - the method of doing which is not publicly known - and
the attempt to pass it through the Chakrams - the order of which is [Page 40] also
deliberately concealed from the public - should never be attempted except at the
express suggestion of a Master, who will watch over His pupil during the various
stages of the experiment.
The most solemn warnings are given by experienced occultists against in any
way attempting to arouse Kundalini, except under qualified tuition, because of the
real and great dangers involved. As is said in the Hathayogapradipika ; "It gives
liberation to Yogis and bondage to fools". (III, 107).
In some cases Kundalini wakes spontaneously, so that a dull glow is felt: it may
even begin to move of itself, though this rare. In this latter case it would be likely
to cause great pain, as, since the passages are not prepared for it, it would have
to clear its way by actually burning up a great deal of etheric dross, which is
necessarily a painful process. When it thus awakes of itself or is accidentally
aroused, it usually tries to rush up the interior of the spine, instead of following
the spiral course into which the occultist is trained to guide it. If it be possible, the
will should be set in motion to arrest its onward rush, but if that proves to be
impossible, as is most likely, no alarm need be felt. It will probably rush out
through the head and escape into the surrounding atmosphere, and it is likely
that no harm will result beyond a slight weakening. Nothing worse than a
temporary loss of consciousness need be apprehended. The worst dangers are
connected, not with its upward rush, but with its turning downwards and inwards.
Its principal function in connection with occult development is that by being sent
through the Chakrams in the etheric body, it vivifies these Chakras between the
physical and astral bodies. It is said in The Voice of the Silence that when
Kundalini reaches the centre between the eyebrows and fully vivifies it, it confers
the power of hearing the voice of the Master - which means, in this case, the
voice of the ego or higher self. The reason is that when [Page 41] the pituitary
body is brought into working order it forms a perfect link with the astral vehicle,
so that through it all communications from within can be received.
In addition, all the higher Chakrams have to be awakened, in due course, and
each must be made responsive to all kinds of astral influences from the various
astral sub-planes. Most people cannot gain this during the present incarnation, if
it is the first in which they have begun to take these matters seriously in hand.
Some Indians might succeed in doing so, as their bodies are by heredity more
adaptable than most others : but it is for the majority of men the work of a later
Round altogether.
The conquest of Kundalini has to be repeated in each incarnation, since the
vehicles are new each time, but after it has been once achieved these repetitions
will be an easy matter. Its action will vary with different types of people. Some
would see the higher self rather than hear its voice. Also this connection with the
higher has many stages; for the personality it means the influence of the ego :
but for the ego himself it means the power of the monad : and for the monad in
turn it means to become a conscious expression of the Logos.
There does not appear to be any age limit with regard to the arousing of
Kundalini: but physical health is a necessity owing to the strain involved.
An ancient symbol was the thyrsus - that is, a staff with a pie-cone on its top. In
India the same symbol is found, but instead of the staff, a stick of bamboo with
seven knots is used. In some modifications of the mysteries a hollow iron rod,
said to contain fire, was used instead of the hyrsus. The staff, or stick, with seven
knots represents the spinal cord, with its seven Chakrams. The hidden fire is, of
course, Kundalini. The thyrsus was not only a symbol, but also an object of
practical use. It was a very strong magnetic instrument, used by initiates to free
the astral body from the physical when they passed in [Page 42] full
consciousness to this higher life. The priest who had magnetised it laid it against
the spinal cord of the candidate and gave him in that way some of his own
magnetism, to help him in that difficult life and in the efforts which lay before him.
[Page 43]

The mental and astral bodies are those chiefly concerned with the production of
what are called thought-forms. The term thought-form is not wholly accurate,
because the forms produced may be composed of mental matter, or, in the vast
majority of cases, of both astral and mental matter.
Although in this book we are dealing primarily with the astral, and not with the
mental body, yet thought-forms, as just said, are, in a vast majority of cases, both
astral and mental. In order, therefore, to make the subject intelligible, it is
necessary to deal very largely with the mental as well as with the astral aspect of
the subject.
A purely intellectual and impersonal thought - such as one concerned with
algebra or geometry - would be confined to mental matter. It on the other hand
the thought has in it something of selfish or personal desire,it will draw round
itself astral matter in addition to the mental. If, furthermore,the thought be of a
spiritual nature,if it be tinged with love and aspiration or deep and unselfish
feeling, then there may also enter in some of the splendour and glory of the
buddhic plane.
Every definite thought produces two effects: first, a radiating vibration: second, a
floating form.
The vibration set up in and radiating from the mental body is accompanied with a
play of colour which has been described as like that in the spray of a waterfall as
the sunlight strikes it, raised to the nth degree of colour and vivid delicacy.
This radiating vibration tends to reproduce its own rate of motion in any mental
body on which it may [Page 44] impinge: I.e., to produce thoughts of the same
type as those from which the vibration originated. It should be noted that the
radiating vibration carries, not the subject of the thought, but its character. Thus,
the waves of thought-emotion radiating from a Hindu sitting rapt in devotion to
Shri Krishna would tend to stimulate devotional feeling in any who came under its
influence, not necessarily towards Sri Krishna, but, in the case of a Christian, to
the Christ, in the case of a Buddhist, to the Lord Buddha: and so on.
The power of the vibration to produce such effects depends principally upon the
clearness and definiteness of the thought-emotion, as well, of course, as upon
the amount of force put into it.
These radiating vibrations become less effective in proportion to the distance
from their source, though it is probable that the variation is proportional to the
cube of the distance instead of (as with gravitation and other physical forces) to
the square, because of the additional (fourth) dimension involved.
The distance to which a thought-wave can radiate effectively also depends upon
the opposition with which it meets. Waves in the lower types of astral matter are
usually soon deflected or overwhelmed by a multitude of other vibrations at the
same level, just as a soft sound is drowned in the roar of a city.
The second effect, that of a floating form, is caused by the mental body throwing
off a vibrating portion of itself shaped by the nature of the thought, which gathers
round itself matter of the corresponding order of fineness from the surrounding
elemental essence (see page 6) of the mental plane, This is a thought-form pure
and simple, being composed of mental matter only.
If made of the finer kinds of matter, it will be of great power and energy, and may
be used as a most potent agent when directed by a strong and steady will.
When the man directs his energy towards external objects of desire, or is
occupied with passional or [Page 45] emotional activities, a similar process takes
place in his astral body : a portion of it is thrown off and gathers round itself
elemental essence of the astral plane. Such thought-desire forms are caused by
Kâma-Manas, the mind under the dominion of the animal nature, Manas
dominated by Kâma
Such a thought-desire form has for its body the elemental essence, and for its
animating soul, as it were, the desire or passion which threw it forth. Both these
thought-desire forms, and also purely mental thought-forms, are called artificial
elementals. The vast majority of ordinary thought-forms are of the former type, as
few thoughts of ordinary men and women are untinged with desire, passion or
Both mental and astral elemental essence, which possess a half-intelligence life
of their own, respond very readily to the influence of human thought and desire:
consequently every impulse sent out, either from a man's mental body or from his
astral body, is immediately clothed in a temporary vehicle of elemental essence.
These artificial elementals thus become for the time a kind of living creature,
entities of intense activity animated by the one idea that generated them. They
are, in fact,often mistaken by untrained psychics or clairvoyants for real living
Thus, when a man thinks of a concrete object - a book,house, landscape, etc. -
he builds a tiny image of the object in the matter of his mental body. This image
floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man, and at
about the level of the eyes. It remains there as long as the man is contemplating
the object, and usually for a little time afterwards, the length of life depending
upon the intensity and the clearness of the thought. The form is quite objective
and can be seen by another person possessed of mental sight. If a man thinks of
another person he creates a tiny portrait in just the same way.
Thought-forms have been usefully compared to a Leyden jar (a vessel charged
with static electricity), [Page 46] the jar itself corresponding to the elemental
essence and the electric charge to the thought-emotion. And just as a Leyden jar
when it touches another object discharges its stored electricity into that object, so
does an artificial elemental, when it strikes a mental or astral body, discharge its
stored mental and emotional energy into that body.
The principles which underlie the production of all thought-emotion forms are : -
1. Colour is determined by the quality of the thought or emotion.
2. Form is determined by the nature of the thought or emotion.
3. Clearness of Outline is determined by the definiteness of the thought or
The life-period of a thought-form depends upon [1] its initial intensity; [2] the
nutriment afterwards supplied to it by a repetition of the thought, either by the
generator or by others. Its life may be continually reinforced by this repetition, a
thought which is brooded over acquiring great stability of form. So again thought-
forms of similar character are attracted to and mutually strengthen each other,
making a form of great energy and intensity.
Furthermore, such a thought-form appears to possess instinctive desire to
prolong its life,and will react on its creator, tending to evoke from him renewal of
the feeling which created it. It will react in a similar, though not so perfect,
manner on any others with whom it may come into contact.
The colours in which thought-forms express themselves are identical with the
colours found in the aura, vide page 11-12.
The brilliance and dept of the colours are usually a measure of the strength and
the activity of the feeling.
For our present purpose we may classify thought-forms into three kinds : (1)
those connected solely with their originator : (2) those connected with another
person : (3) those not definitely personal [Page 47]
If a man's thought is about himself, or based on a personal feeling, as the vast
majority of thoughts are, the form will hover in the immediate neighbourhood of
its generator. Any time, then, when he is in a passive condition, his thoughts and
feelings not being specifically occupied, his own thought-form will return to him
and discharge itself upon him. In addition, each man also serves as a magnet to
draw towards himself the thought-forms of others similar to his own, thus
attracting towards himself reinforcements of energy from outside. People who are
becoming sensitive have sometimes imagined, in such cases, that they have
been tempted by the "devil", whereas it is their own thoughts-desire forms which
are the cause of the "temptation". Long brooding over the same subject may
create a thought-form of tremendous power. Such a form may last for many
years and have for a time all the appearance and powers of real living entity.
Most men move through life enclosed literally within a cage of their own building,
surrounded by masses of forms created by their habitual thoughts. One important
effect of this is that each man looks out upon the world through his own thought-
forms, and thus sees everything tinged by them.
Thus a man's own thought-forms re-act upon him, tending to reproduce
themselves and thus setting up definite habits of thought and feeling, which may
be helpful if of a lofty character, but are often cramping and a hindrance to
growth,obscuring the mental vision and facilitating the formation of prejudice and
fixed moods or attitudes which may develop into definite vices.
As a Master has written: "Man is continually peopling his current in space with a
world of his own, crowed with the offspring of his fancies, desires, impulses and
passions. "These thought-forms remain in his aura, increasing in number and
intensity, until certain kinds of them so dominate his mental and emotional life
that the man rather answers to their [Page 48] impulse than decides anew: thus
are habits, the outer expression of his stored-up force, created, and thus is
character built.
Moreover, as each man leaves behind him a trail of thought-forms, it follows that
as we go along a street we are walking amidst a sea of other men's thoughts. If a
man leaves his mind blank for a time, these thoughts of others drift through it : if
one happens to attract his attention, his mind seizes upon it, makes it its own,
strengthening it by the addition of its force, and then casts it out again to affect
somebody else. A man, therefore, is not responsible for a thought which floats
into his mind, but he is responsible if he takes it up, dwells upon it, and then
sends it out again strengthened.
An example of thought-forms is that of the shapeless clouds of heavy blue which
may often be seen rolling along like wreaths of dense smoke over the heads of
the congregation of a church. In churches when the level of spirituality is a low
one, the minds of the men may create rows of figures, representing their
calculations of business deals or speculations, while the minds of the women
may create pictures of millinery, jewellery, etc..
Hypnotism provides another example of thought-forms. The operator may make
a thought-form and project it on to blank paper,where it may become visible to
his hypnotised subject: or he may make the form so objective that the subject will
see and feel it as thought it were an actual physical object. The literature of
hypnotism is full of such examples.
If the thought-form is directed towards another person, it will go to that person.
Either of two effects may then result. (1) If in the aura of the person concerned
there is material capable of responding sympathetically to the vibration of the
thought-form, then the thought-form will remain near the person, or even in his
aura, and, as opportunity serves, automatically discharge itself, thus tending to
strengthen in the person that particular rate of vibration. If the person [Page 49] at
whom a thought form is aimed happens to be busy, or already engaged in some
definite train of thought, the thought form, being unable to discharge itself into the
man's mental body, which is already vibrating at a certain determinate rate,
hangs in the vicinity until the man's mental body is sufficiently at rest to permit its
entrance, when it immediate discharges itself.
In doing this it will display what appears like a very considerable amount of
intelligence and adaptability, though really it is a force acting a long the line of
least resistance - pressing steadily in one direction all the time, and taking
advantage of any channel that it can find. Such elementals can, of course, be
strengthened and their life-period extended by repetition of the same thought.
(2) If, on the other hand, there is in the person's aura no matter capable of
response, then the thought-form cannot affect it at all. It will therefore rebound
from it, with a force proportional to the energy with which impinged upon it, and
return to and strike its creator.
Thus, for example,the thought of the desire for drink could not enter the body of a
purely temperate man. It would strike upon his astral body, but it could not
penetrate and it would then return to the sender.
The old saying that "Curses (to which might be added blessings) come home to
roost" conveys this truth and explains cases where, as many have known, evil
thoughts directed to a good and highly advanced man affect such a man not at
all, but re-act, sometimes with terrible and devastating effect, on their creator.
Hence also the obvious corollary that a pure heart and mind are the best
protection against inimical assaults of feeling and thought.
On the other hand, a thought-form of love and of desire to protect, strongly
directed to some beloved objects, acts as a shielding and protecting agent : it will
seek all opportunities to serve and defend, will [Page 50] strengthen friendly forces
and weaken unfriendly ones, that impinge on the aura. It may protect its objects
from impurity, irritability, fear, etc.
Friendly thoughts and earnest good wishes thus create and maintain what is
practically a "guardian angel" always at the side of the person thought of, no
matter where he may be. Many a mother's thoughts and prayers, for example,
have given assistance and protection to her child. They may often be seen by
clairvoyants, and in rare cases they may even materialise and become physically
It is thus apparent that a thought of love sent from one person to another involves
the actual transference of a certain amount both of force and of matter from the
sender to the recipient.
If the thought is sufficiently strong, distance makes absolutely no difference to it:
but a weak and diffused thought is not effective outside a limited area.
A variant of our first group consists of those cases where a man thinks strongly of
himself in a distant place. The form thus created contains a large proportion of
mental matter, takes the image of the thinker, and is at first small and
compressed. It draws around itself a considerable amount of astral matter and
usually expands to life size before it appears at its destination. Such forms are
often seen by clairvoyants, and not infrequently are mistaken for the man's astral
body or even for the man himself.
When this takes place, the thought or desire must be sufficiently strong to do one
of three things: (1) To call up by mesmeric influence the image of the thinker in
the mind of the person to whom he wishes to appear: (2) by the same power to
stimulate for the moment that person's psychic faculties so that he is able to see
the astral visitor; (3) to produce a temporary materialisation which will be
physically visible.
Apparitions at the time of death, which are by no means uncommon, are very
often really the astral form of the dying man: but they may also be thought-forms
called into being by his earnest wish to see some friend [Page 51] before he
passes on. In some instances the visitor is perceived just after the moment of
death, instead of just before : but for various reasons this form of apparition is far
less frequent than the other.
A family ghost may be (1) a thought-form, (2) an unusually vivid impression in the
astral light, or (3) a genuine earth-bound ancestor still haunting some particular
In this connection, it may be added that wherever any intense passion has been
felt, such as terror, pain, sorrow, hatred, etc., so powerful an impression is made
on the astral light that persons with but a faint glimmer of psychic faculty may be
impressed by it. A slight temporary increase of sensibility would enable a man to
visualise the entire scene: hence many stories of haunted places, and of the
unpleasant influences of such spots as Tyburn Tree, the Chamber of Horrors at
Madame Tussaud's, etc..
Apparitions at the spot where a crime was committed are usually thought-forms
projected by the criminal who, whether living or dead, but most especially when
dead, is perpetually thinking over again and again the circumstances of his
actions. Since these thoughts are naturally specially vivid in his mind on the
anniversary of his crime, it may happen that the thought-form is strong enough to
materialise itself so as to be visible to physical sight, thus accounting for many
cases where the manifestation is periodical.
Similarly, a jewel, which has been the cause of many crimes, may retain the
impressions of the passions prompting the crimes, with unimpaired clearness, for
many thousands of years, and continue to radiate them.
A thought of phenomenal energy and concentration, whether it be a blessing or a
curse, calls into being an elemental which is practically a living storage-battery
with a kind of clockwork attachment. It can be arranged to discharge itself
regularly at a certain our daily, or upon a certain anniversary, or its discharge
maybe contingent upon certain occurrences. Many instances of this class of
elemental are on record, [Page 52] particularly in the Highlands of Scotland, where
physical warnings occur before the death of a member of the family. In these
cases it is usually the powerful thought-form of an ancestor which gives the
warning, according to the intention with which it was charged.
A sufficiently strong wish - a concentrated effort of intense love or envenomed
hate - would create such an entity once for all, an entity which would then be
quite disconnected from its creator, and would carry on its appointed work
entirely irrespective of later intentions and desire on his part. Mere repentance
could not recall it or prevent its action any more than repentance could stop a
bullet once discharged. Its power could be to a considerable extent neutralised
only by sending after it thoughts of a contrary tendency.
Occasionally an elemental of this class, being unable to expend its force either
upon its object or its creator, may become a kind of wandering demon, and be
attracted by any person who harbours similar feelings. If sufficiently powerful, it
may even size upon and inhabit a passing shell (see page 171), in which it is
able to husband its resources more carefully. In this form it may manifest through
a medium, and, by masquerading as a well-known friend, may obtain influence
over people upon whom it would otherwise have little hold.
Such elementals, whether formed consciously or unconsciously, which have
become wandering demons, invariably seek to prolong their life, either by feeding
like vampires upon the vitality of human beings, or by influencing them to make
offerings to them. Among simple half-savage tribes they have frequently
succeeded in getting themselves recognised as village or family gods. The less
objectionable types may be content with offerings of rice and cooked foods : the
lowest and most loathsome class demand blood-sacrifices. Both varieties exist
today in India, and in greater numbers in Africa.
By drawing mainly upon the vitality of their [Page 53] devotees, and also upon the
nourishment they can obtain from the offerings, they may prolong their existence
for years, or even centuries. They may even perform occasional phenomena of a
mild type in order to stimulate the faith and zeal of their followers, and they
invariably make themselves unpleasant in some way or other if the sacrifices are
The black magicians of Atlantis - the "lords of the dark face" - seems to have
specialised in this type of artificial elementals, some of which, it is hinted, may
have kept themselves in existence even to this day. The terrible Indian goddess,
Kâli, may well be a relic of this type.
The vast majority of thought-forms are simply copies or images of people or other
material objects. They are formed first within the mental body and then pass
outwards and remain suspended before the man. This applies to anything about
which one may be thinking : persons, houses, landscapes, or anything else.
A painter, for example, builds out of the matter of his mental body a conception of
his future picture, projects it into space in front of him, keeps it before his "mind's
eye", and copies it. This thought and emotion-form persists and may be regarded
as the unseen counterpart of the picture, radiating out its own vibrations and
affecting all who come within its influence.
Similarly a novelist builds in mental matter images of his characters, and then, by
his will, moves these puppets from one position or grouping to another, so that
the plot of the story is literally acted out before him.
A curious effect arises in such a case. A playful nature-spirit (See Chapter 20)
may ensoul the images and cause them to do things other than those which the
author intended them do to. More frequently a dead writer may perceive the
images and, being still interested in the craft of writing, may mould the characters
and influence their actions according to his [Page 54] own ideas. The actual writer
thus often finds his plots working themselves out according to a plan quite
different from his original conception.
In reading a book, it is possible for a genuine student, with attention fully
concentrated, to get into touch with the original thought-form which represents
the author's conception as he wrote. Through the thought-form the author himself
may even be reached, and additional information thus obtained, or light gained
on difficult points.
There are in the mental and astral worlds many renderings of well-known stories,
each nation usually having its special presentation, with the characters dressed
in its own particular national garb. There thus exist excellent and life-like thought-
forms of people like Sherlock Holmes, Captain Kettle, Robinson Crusoe,
Shakespeare's characters, etc..
In fact, there are on the astral plane vast numbers of thought-forms of a
comparatively permanent character, often the result of the cumulative work of
generations of people. Many of these refer to alleged religious history, and the
sight of them by sensitive people is responsible for many quite genuine accounts
given by untrained seers and seeresses. Any great historical event, having been
constantly thought of, and vividly imaged by large numbers of people, exists as a
definite thought-form on the mental plane, and wherever there is any strong
emotion connected with it, it is materialised also in astral matter and
consequently can be seen by a clairvoyant.
The above applies equally, of course, to scenes and situations in fiction, drama,
Considered in the mass, it is easy to realise the tremendous effect that these
thought-forms or artificial elementals have in producing national and race-
feelings, and thus in biasing and prejudicing the mind : for thought-forms of a
similar kind have a tendency to aggregate together and form a kind of collective
entity. We see everything through this atmosphere, every thought is more or less
refracted by it, and our own [Page 55] astral bodies are vibrating in accord with it.
As most people are receptive rather than initiative in their nature, they act almost
as automatic reproducers of the thoughts which reach them, and thus the
national atmosphere is continually intensified. This fact obviously explains many
of the phenomena of crowd-consciousness (See Chapter 25)
The influence of these aggregated thought-forms extends still further. Thought-
forms of a destructive type act as a disruptive agent and often precipitate havoc
on the physical plane, causing "accidents", natural convulsions, storms,
earthquakes,floods, or crime, disease, social upheavals and wars.
It is possible also for dead people and other non-human entities, such as
mischievous nature-spirits, (see page 181) for example, to enter and vivify these
thought-images. The trained seer has to learn to distinguish the thought-form,
even when vivified, from the living being, and prominent facts of the astral world
from the temporary moulds into which they are cast.
Our third class of thought-emotion forms consists of those which are not directly
connected with any natural objects, and which therefore express themselves in
forms entirely their own, displaying their inherent qualities in the matter which
they draw around themselves. In this group, therefore, we have a glimpse of the
forms natural to the astral and mental planes. Thought-forms of this class almost
invariably manifest themselves on the astral plane, as the vast majority of them
are expressions of feeling as well as of thought.
Such a form simply floats detached in the atmosphere, all the times radiating
vibrations similar to those originally sent forth by its creator. If it does not come
into contact with any other mental body, the radiation gradually exhausts its store
of energy and the form then falls to pieces; but if it succeeds in awakening
sympathetic vibrations in any mental body near at hand, an attraction is set up,
and the thought-form is usually absorbed by that mental body. [Page 56]
From the above we see that the influence of a thought-form is less far-reaching
than that of a thought-vibration, but it acts with much greater precision. A
thought-vibration reproduces thoughts of an order similar to that which gave it
birth. A thought-form reproduces the same thought. The radiations may affect
thousands and stir in them thoughts of the same level as the original, though
none of them may be identical with it. The thought-form can affect only very few,
but in those few cases it will reproduce exactly the initiatory idea.
For pictorial, coloured illustrations of many kinds of thought and emotion forms,
the student is referred to the classic work on the subject: Thought-Forms, by
Annie Besant and C.W.Leadbeater This whole chapter, indeed, is largely a
condensed summary of the principles enunciated in that work.
Vague thoughts or feelings show themselves as vague clouds. Definite thought
or feelings create clearly defined forms. Thus a form of definite affection directed
to a a particular individual shapes itself not unlike a projectile: a thought of
protective affection becomes somewhat like a bird, with a central portion of
yellow and two wing-shaped projections of rose-pink: a thought of universal love
becomes a rose-pink sun with rays in every direction.
Thoughts in which selfishness or greed are prominent usually take a hooked
form, the hooks in some case actually clawing round the object desired.
As a general principle, the energy of a selfish thought moves in a closed curve,
and thus inevitably returns and expends itself upon its own level. An absolutely
unselfish thought or feeling, however, rushes forth in an open curve, and thus
does not return, in the ordinary sense, but pierces through into the plane above,
because only in that higher condition, with its additional dimension,can it find
room for its expansion. But, in thus breaking through, such a thought or feeling
opens a door, as we might say symbolically, of dimension equivalent to its
diameter, and thus provides a [Page 57] channel through which the higher planes
can pour themselves into the lower - often with wonderful results, as in the case
of prayer, both for the thinker and for others.
Herein lies the highest and best part of the belief in answers to prayer. On the
higher planes there is an infinite flood of force always ready and waiting to be
poured through when a channel is offered. A thought of perfectly unselfish
devotion provides such a channel, the grandest and noblest part of such a
thought ascending to the Logos Himself. The response from Him is a descent of
the divine life, resulting in a great strengthening and uplifting of the maker of the
channel, and the spreading all about him of a powerful and beneficent influence,
which flows through the reservoir that exists on the higher planes for the helping
of mankind. It is this adding to the reservoir of spiritual force which is the truth in
the catholic idea of works of supererogation. The Nirmânakâyas are especially
associated with this great reservoir of force.
Meditation upon a Master makes a link with Him, which shows itself to clairvoyant
vision as a kind of line of light. The Master always subconsciously feels the
impinging of such a line, and sends out along it in response a steady stream of
magnetism which continues to play long after the meditation is over. Regularity in
such meditation is a very important factor.
A thought of definite, well-sustained devotion may assume a form closely
resembling a flower, whilst devotional aspiration will create a blue cone, the apex
pointing upwards.
Such thought-forms of devotion are often exceedingly beautiful, varying much in
outline, but characterised by curved upward-pointing petals like azure flames. It
is possible that the flower-like characteristic of devotion forms may have led to
the custom of offering flowers in religious worship, the flowers suggesting the
forms visible to astral sight. [Page 58]
Intense curiosity, or desire to know, takes the form of a yellow snake: explosive
anger or irritation, of a splash of red and orange: sustained anger, of a sharp, red
stiletto: spiteful jealousy shows itself as a brownish snake.
Forms produced by people who have mind and emotion well under control and
definitely trained in meditation, are clear, symmetrical objects of great beauty,
often taking well-known geometrical forms, such as triangles, two triangles
interlaced, five-pointed stars, hexagons, crosses, and so on, these indicating
thoughts concerned with cosmic order, or metaphysical concepts.
The power of the united thought of a number of people is always far more than
the sum of their separate thoughts: it would be more nearly represented by their
Music also produces forms which are perhaps not technically thought-forms -
unless we take them, as we them, as we well may, as the result of the thought of
the composer, expressed by the skill of the musician through his instrument.
These music forms will vary according to the type of music, the kind of instrument
which plays it, and the skill and merits of the performer. The same piece of music
will, if accurately played, always build the same form, but that form will, when
played on a church organ or by an orchestra, be enormously larger than, as well
as of different texture from that produced when played upon a piano. There will
also be a difference in texture between the result of a piece of music played upon
a violin and the same piece executed upon a flute. There is also a wide
difference between the radiant beauty of the form produced by a true artist,
perfect expression and execution, and the relatively dull effect produced by a
wooden and mechanical player.
Music forms may remain as coherent erections for a considerable time - an hour
or two at least - and during all that time they are radiating their characteristics
[Page 59] vibrations in every direction, just as thought-forms do.

In Thought-Forms three coloured examples are given, of music forms build by

music of Mendelssohn, of Gounod, and of Wagner respectively.
The forms which are built vary much with different composers. An overture by
Wagner makes a magnificent whole, as though he built with mountains of flame
for stones. One of Bach's fugues builds up an ordered form, bold yet precise,
rugged but symmetrical, with parallel rivulets of silver and gold or ruby running
through it, marking the successive appearances of the motif. One of
Mendelssohn's Lieber ohne Worte makes an airy erection, like a castle of filigree
work in frosted silver.
These forms, created by the performers of the music, are quite distinct from the
thought-forms made by the composer himself, which often persist for many
years, even for centuries, if he is so far understood and appreciated that his
original conception is strengthened by the thoughts of his admirers. Similar
edifices are constructed by a poet's idea of his epic, or a writer's conception of
his subject. Sometimes crowds of nature-spirits (see page 181) may be seen
admiring the music -forms and bathing in the waves of influence which they send
In studying pictorial representations of thought-forms it is important to bear in
mind that thought-forms are four-dimensional objects. It is therefore a practical
impossibility to describe them adequately in words which pertain to our ordinary
three-dimensional experiences, still less to portray them in two-dimensional
pictures on paper. Students of the fourth dimension will realise that the most that
can be done is to represent a section of the four-dimensional forms.
It is remarkable, and possibly deeply significant fact,that many of the higher types
of thought-forms assume shapes closely resembling vegetable and animal forms.
We thus have at least a presumption that the forces of nature work along lines
somewhat similar [Page 60] to those along which thought and emotion work. Since
the whole universe is a mighty thought-form called into existence by the Logos, it
may well be that tiny parts of it also result from the thought-forms of minor
entities engaged in the same creative work. This conception naturally recalls the
Hindu belief that there are 330,000,000 Devas.
It is also worthy of notice that, whilst some of the thought-forms are so
complicated and so exquisitely fashioned as to be beyond the power of the
human hand to reproduce, yet they may be very closely approximated by
mechanical means. The instrument, known as a Harmonograph, consists of a
fine point guided in its path by several pendulums, each of which has its own
independent swing, all of these being welded into one composite movement,
which is communicated to the pointer, and which the pointer registers on a
suitable surface.
Other, though simpler forms, resemble the sand figures produced by the well-
known Chladni's sound plate or by the Eidophone [vide Eidophone Voice
Figures, by Margaret Watts Hughes).

Scales and arpeggios thrown out lasso-like loops and curves: a song with a
chorus produces a number of beads strung on a silver thread of melody : in a
glee or part-song intertwining threads of different colours and textures are
produced. A processional hymn builds a series of precise rectangular forms, like
the links of a chain or the carriages of a railway train. An Anglican chant makes
glittering fragments, quite different from the glowing uniformity of the Gregorian
tone, which is not unlike the effect of Sanskrit verses chanted by an Indian
Military music produces a long stream of rhythmically vibrating forms, the regular
beat of these undulations tending to strengthen those of the astral bodies of the
soldiers, the impact of a succession of steady and powerful oscillations supplying
for the time the place of the will-force which, through fatigue, may have been
slackened. [Page 61]
A thunderstorm creates a flaming band of colour, a crash making a form
suggestive of an exploding bomb, or an irregular sphere with spikes projecting
from it. Sea-waves breaking on the shore create wavy, parallel lines of changing
colour, becoming mountain ranges in a storm. Wind in the leaves of forest covers
it with iridescent network, rising and falling with gentle wave-like movement.
The song of birds shows as curving lines and loops of light, from the golden
globes of the campanero to the amorphous and coarsely-coloured mass of the
scream of a parrot or macaw. The roar of a lion is also visible in higher matter
and it is possible that some wild creatures are able to see it clairvoyantly, thus
adding to their terror. A purring cat surrounds itself with concentric rosy cloud-
films: a barking dog shoots forth well-defined sharp-pointed projectiles not unlike
a rifle bullet, which pierce the astral bodies of people and seriously disturb them.
The bay of a bloodhound throws off beads like footballs, slower in motion and
less liable to injure. The colour of these projectiles is usually red or brown,
varying with the emotion of the animal and the key of his voice.
The lowing of a cow produces blunt-ended clumsy shapes like logs of wood. A
flock of sheep makes a many-pointed yet amorphous cloud not unlike a dust-
cloud. The cooing of a pair of doves makes graceful curved forms like the letter S
Turning to human sounds, an angry ejaculation throws itself forth like a scarlet
spear: a stream of silly chatter produces an intricate network of hard brown-grey
metallic lines, forming an almost perfect barrier against any higher or more
beautiful thoughts and feelings. The astral body of a garrulous person is a
striking object-lesson on the folly of unnecessary, useless and unpleasant
A child's laughter bubbles forth in rosy curves: the guffaw of an empty-minded
person causes an explosive effect in an irregular mass, usually brown or dirty
green. A sneer throws out a shapeless projectile [Page 62] of dull red, usually
flecked with brownish-green and bristling with sharp points.
The cachinations of the self-conscious produce the appearance and colour of a
pool of boiling mud. Nervous giggles creates a sea-weed like tangle of brown and
dull yellow lines, and have a very bad effect upon the astral body. A jolly, kindly
laugh billows out in rounded forms of gold and green. A soft and musical whistle
produces an effect not unlike that of a small flute, but sharper and more metallic.
Tuneless whistling sends out small piercing projectiles of dirty brown.
Fidgetiness or fussiness produces in the aura tremulous vibrations, so that no
thought or feeling can pass in or out without distortion, even good through that is
being sent out taking with it a shiver that practically neutralises it. Accuracy in
thought is essential, but it should be attained not by hurry or fuss but by perfect
The strident screech of a railway engine makes a far more penetrating and
powerful projectile than even the bark of a dog, producing upon the astral body
an effect comparable to that of a sword thrust upon the physical body. An astral
wound heals in a few minutes, but the shock to the astral organism disappears
by no means so readily.
The firing of a gun produces a serious effect upon astral currents and astral
bodies. Rifle or pistol fire throws out a stream of small needles.
Repeated noises affect the mental and astral bodies precisely as blows affect the
physical body. In the physical body the result would be pain: in the astral body it
means irritability: in the mental body a feeling of fatigue and inability to think
It is abundantly clear that all loud, sharp or sudden sounds should, as far as
possible, be avoided by any one who wishes to keep his astral and mental
vehicles in good order. Especially disastrous is the effect, e.g., of the ceaseless
noise and roar of a city upon the plastic astral and mental bodies of children.
[Page 63]

All the sounds of nature blend themselves into one tone, called by the Chinese
the "Great Tone", or KUNG. This also has its form, a synthesis of all forms, vast
and changeful as the sea, representing the note of our earth in the music of the
spheres. This is said by some writers to be the note F of our scale.
It is, of course, possible to destroy a thought-form, and this is sometimes done,
for example, where a person after death is pursued by a malignant thought-form,
created probably by the hate of those whom the person had injured whilst in the
physical world. Although such a thought-form may appear almost as a living
creature - an instance is given where it resembled a huge distorted gorilla - it is
simply a temporary creation of evil passion and in no sense an evolving entity, so
that to dissipate it is simply like destroying a Leyden jar, and it is not in any sense
a criminal action.
Most men recognise that acts which injure others are definitely and obviously
wrong, but few recognise that it is also wrong to feel jealousy, hatred, ambition,
etc., even though such feelings are not expressed in speech or deed. An
examination of the conditions of life after death (Chapters 13 to 15) reveals that
such feelings injure the man who harbours them, and cause him acute suffering
after death.
A study of thought-forms thus brings home to the earnest student the
tremendous possibilities of such creations, and the responsibility attaching to a
right use of them. Thoughts are not only things, but exceedingly puissant things.
Every one is generating them unceasingly night and day. Often it is not possible
to render physical aid to those in need, but there is no case in which help may
not be given by thought, or in which it can fail to produce a definite result. No one
need hesitate to use this power to the full: provided always that it be employed
for unselfish purposes, and for furthering the divine scheme of evolution. [Page 64]

In Chapter 2 we considered, in general outline, the composition and structure of
the astral body. We shall now proceed to study it, in greater detail, as it exists
and is used during the ordinary waking consciousness of the physical body.
The factors which determine the nature and quality of the astral body during
physical life may be roughly grouped as follows: -
1- The physical life.
2- The emotional life.
3- The mental life
1- The Physical Life. - We have already seen (page 8) that every particle of the
physical body has its corresponding astral "counterpart". Consequently, as the
solids, liquids, gases and ethers of which the physical is composed may be
coarse or refined, gross or delicate, so will be the nature of the corresponding
astral envelopes. A physical body nourished on impure food will produce a
corresponding impure astral body, whilst a physical body fed on clean food and
drink will help to purify the astral vehicle.
The astral body being the vehicle of emotion, passion and sensation, it follows
that an astral body of the grosser type will be chiefly amenable to the grosser
varieties of passion and emotion: whereas a finer astral body will more readily
vibrate to more refined emotions and aspirations.
It is impossible to make the physical body coarse and at the same time to
organise the astral and mental bodies for finer purposes: neither is it possible to
have a pure physical body with impure mental and astral bodies. All three bodies
are thus interdependent. [Page 65]

Not only the physical body, but also the higher bodies also, are affected by the
food which is eaten. Carnivorous diet is fatal to anything like real occult
development and those who adopt it are throwing serious and unnecessary
difficulties in their own way, for flesh food intensifies all the undesirable elements
and passions of the lower planes.
In the ancient Mysteries were men of the utmost purity and they were invariably
vegetarian. The Râja Yogi takes especial pains to purify the physical body by an
elaborate system of food, drink, sleep, etc., and insists on foods which are sâtvic,
or "rhythmic". A whole system relating to foodstuffs is built up to help in the
preparation of the body for use by the higher consciousness. Flesh foods are
rajâsic, i.e., they come under the quality of activity, being stimulants, and built up
to express animal desires and activities. They are utterly unsuited to the finer
type of nervous organisation. The yogi therefore cannot afford to use these for
the higher processes of thought.
Foods on the way to decay, such as game, venison, etc., as well as alcohol, are
tamâsic, or heavy, and also to be avoided.
Foods which tend to growth, such as grain and fruits, are sâtvic, or rhythmic,
being the most highly vitalised and suitable for building up a body sensitive and
at the same time strong.
Certain other substances also affect the physical and astral bodies detrimentally.
Thus tobacco permeates the physical body with impure particles, causing
emanations so material that they are frequently perceptible to the sense of smell,
Astrally, tobacco not only introduces impurity, but tends also to deaden the
sensibility of the body: "soothing the nerves", as it is called. While this may, in
conditions of modern life, be sometimes less harmful than leaving the nerves
"unsoothed", it is certain undesirable for an occultist, who needs the capacity of
answering instantly to all possible vibrations, combined, of course, with perfect
control. [Page 66]
Similarly, there is no doubt whatever that from the point of view of both astral and
mental bodies the use of alcohol is always an evil.
Bodies fed on flesh and alcohol are liable to be thrown out of health by opening
up of the higher consciousness: and nervous diseases are partly due to the fact
that the human consciousness is trying to express itself through bodies clogged
with flesh products and poisoned with alcohol. In particular, the pituitary body is
very readily poisoned by even a very small amount of alcohol, and its highest
evolution is thereby checked. It is the poisoning of the pituitary body with alcohol
that leads to the abnormal and irrational vision associated with delirium tremens.
In addition to the direct coarsening of the physical and astral bodies, meat,
tobacco and alcohol are open also to the serious objection that they tend to
attract undesirable astral entities which take pleasure in the scent of blood and
spirits: they surge around the person, impressing their thoughts upon him, forcing
their impressions on his astral body, so that the person may have a kind of shell
of objectionable entities hanging on to his aura. Principally for this reason, in the
Yoga of the Right Hand Path meat and wine are absolutely forbidden.
These entities consist of artificial elementals, given birth to by the thoughts and
desires of men, and also of depraved men imprisoned in their astral bodies,
known as elementaries (see page 145). The elementals are attracted towards
people whose astral bodies contain matter congenial to their nature, while the
elementaries naturally seek to indulge in vices such as they themselves
encouraged while in physical bodies. An astral clairvoyant can see hordes of
loathsome elementals crowding round butchers' shops, whilst in beer-houses and
gin-palaces elementaries specially gather, feasting on the emanation of the
liquors,and thrusting themselves sometimes into the very bodies of the drinkers.
Nearly all drugs - such as opium, cocaine, [Page 67] theine in tea, caffeine in
coffee, etc. - produce a deleterious effect upon the higher vehicles. Occasionally
they are, of course, almost a necessity, in certain diseases: but an occultist
should use them as sparingly as possible.
One who knows how to do it can remove the evil effect of opium (which may
have been used to relieve great pain) from the astral and mental bodies after it
has done its work on the physical.
Dirt of all kinds is also more objectionable in the higher worlds even than in the
physical and attracts a low class of nature-spirits (see page 181). The occultist
therefore needs to be stringent in all matters of cleanliness. Especial attention
should be paid to the hands and feet, because through these extremities
emanations flow out so readily.
Physical noises, such as prevail in cities, jar the nerves and thus cause irritations
and fatigue: the effect is accentuated by the pressure of so many astral bodies
vibrating at different rates, and all excited and disturbed by trifles. Although such
irritation is superficial, and may pass out of the mind in ten minutes, yet an effect
may be produced in the astral body lasting for forty-eight hours. Hence it is
difficult, whilst living in modern cities, to avoid irritability, especially for one whose
bodies are more highly strung and sensitive than those of the ordinary man.
In general, it may be said that everything which promotes the health of the
physical body also reacts favourably upon the higher vehicles.
Travel is another of the many factors which affect the astral body, by bringing to
bear on the traveller a change of etheric and astral influences connected with
each place or district. Ocean, mountain, forest, waterfall, each has its own
special type of life, astral and etheric as well as visible, and therefore its own set
of influences. Many of these unseen entities are pouring out vitality, and in any
case their effect on etheric, astral and mental bodies is likely to be healthy and
desirable in the long run, though a change may be somewhat tiring at the time.
Hence an occasional [Page 68] change from town to country is beneficial on the
ground of emotional as well as physical health.
The astral body may also be affected by such objects as talismans. The methods
of making them have already been described in The Etheric Double, pages 113
to 119. We shall here deal only with their general effects.
When an object is strongly charged with magnetism for a particular purpose by a
competent person, it becomes a talisman, and when properly made continues to
radiate this magnetism with unimpaired strength for many years.
It may be used for many purposes. Thus, for example, a talisman may be
charged with thoughts of purity, which will express themselves as definite rates of
vibration in astral and mental matter. These vibratory rates, being directly
contrary to thoughts of impurity, will tend to neutralise or overpower any impure
thought which may arise. In many cases the impure thought is a casual one that
has been picked up and is not therefore a thing of great power in itself. The
talisman, on the other hand, has been intentionally and strongly charged, so that
when the two streams of thought meet, there is not the slightest doubt that the
thoughts connected with the talisman will vanquish the others.
In addition, the initial conflict between the opposing sets of thoughts will attract
the man's attention, and thus give him time to recollect himself, so that he will not
be taken off this guard, as so frequently happens.
Another example would be that of a talisman charged with faith and courage.
This would operate in two ways. First, the vibrations radiating from the talisman
would oppose feelings of fear as soon as they arose, and thus prevent them from
accumulating and strengthening one another, as they often do, until they become
irresistible. The effect has been compared to that of a gyroscope which, once set
in motion in one direction, strongly resists being turned into another direction.
Secondly, the talisman works indirectly upon the [Page 69] mind of the wearer: as
soon as he feels the beginnings of fear, he will probably recollect the talisman,
and call up the reserve strength of his own will to resists the undesirable feeling.
A third possibility of a talisman is that of its being linked with the person who
made it. In the event of the wearer being in desperate circumstances, he may call
upon the maker and evoke a response from him. The maker may or may not be
physically conscious of the appeal, but in any case his ego will be conscious and
will respond by reinforcing the vibrations of the talisman.
Certain articles are to a large extent natural amulets or talismans. All precious
stones are such, each having a distinct influence which can be utilised in two
ways: (1) the influence attracts to it elemental essence of a certain kind, and
thoughts and desires which naturally express themselves through that essence;
(2) these natural peculiarities make it a fit vehicle for magnetism which is
intended to work along the same line as those thoughts and emotions. Thus, for
example, for an amulet of purity, a stone should be chosen whose natural
undulations are inharmonious to the key in which impure thoughts express
Although the particles of the stone are physical, yet, being in a key identical at
this level with the key of purity on higher levels, they will, even without the stone
being magnetised, check impure thought or feeling by virtue of the overtones.
Furthermore, the stone can readily be charged at astral and mental levels with
the undulations of pure thought and feeling which are set in the same key.
Other examples are (1) the rudraksha berry, frequently used for necklaces in
India, which is especially suitable for magnetisation where sustained holy thought
or meditation is required, and where all disturbing influences are to be kept away;
(2) the beads of the tulsi plant, whose influence is somewhat different.
Objects which produce strong scents are natural talismans. Thus the gums
chosen for incense give [Page 70] out radiations favourable to spiritual and
devotional thought, and do not harmonise with any form of disturbance or worry.
Mediaeval witches sometimes combined the ingredients of incense so as to
produce the opposite effect, and it is also done today in Luciferian ceremonies. It
is generally desirable to avoid coarse and heavy scents, such as that of musk or
of satchet powder, as many of them are akin to sensual feelings.
An object not intentionally charged may sometimes have the force of a talisman:
e.g., a present from a friend, worn on the person, such as a ring or chain, or even
a letter.
An object, such as a watch, habitually carried in the pocket, becomes charged
with magnetism and is able, if given away, to produce decided effects on the
recipient. Coins and money notes are usually charged with mixed magnetism,
feeling and thought, and may, therefore, radiate a disturbing and irritating effect.
A man's thoughts and feelings thus affect not only himself and other people, but
also impregnate the inanimate objects round him, even walls and furniture. He
thus unconsciously magnetises these physical objects, so that they have the
power of suggesting similar thoughts and feelings to other people within range of
their influence.
(2) The Emotional Life. - It is scarcely necessary to insist that the quality of the
astral body is largely determined by the kind of feelings and emotions which
constantly play through it.
A man is using his astral body, whether he be conscious of the fact or not,
whenever he expresses an emotion, just as he is using his mental body
whenever he thinks, or his physical body whenever he performs physical work.
This, of course, is quite a different thing from utilising his astral body as an
independent vehicle through which his consciousness can be fully expressed, a
matter which we shall have to consider later, in due course.
The astral body, as we have seen, is the field of manifestation of desire, the
mirror in which every feeling [Page 71] is instantly reflected, in which even every
thought which has in it anything that touches the personal self must express
itself. From the material of the astral body bodily form is given to the dark
"elementals" (se page 45), which men create and set in motion by evil wishes
and malicious feelings: from it also are bodied forth the beneficent elementals
called into life by good wishes, gratitude and love.
The astral body grows by use, just as every other body does, and it also has its
own habits, built up and fixed by constant repetition of similar acts. The astral
body during physical life being the recipient of and respondent to stimuli both
from the physical body and from the lower mental, it tends to repeat automatically
vibrations to which it is accustomed; just as the hand may repeat a familiar
gesture, so may the astral body repeat a familiar feeling or thought.
All the activities that we call evil, whether selfish thoughts (mental) or selfish
emotions (astral), invariably show themselves as vibrations of the coarser matter
of those planes, whist good and unselfish thought or emotion sets in vibrations
the higher types of matter. As finer matter is more easily moved than coarse, it
follows that a given amount of force spent in good thought or feeling produces
perhaps a hundred times as much result as the same amount of force sent out
into coarser matter. If this were not so, it is obvious that the ordinary man could
never make any progress at all.
The effect of 10% of force directed to good ends enormously outweighs that of
90% devoted to selfish purposes, and so on the whole such a man makes an
appreciable advance from life to life. A man who has even 1% of good makes a
slight advance. A man whose account balances exactly, so that he neither
advances nor retrogresses, must live a distinctly evil life: whilst in order to go
downwards in evil a person must be an unusually consistent villain.
Thus even people who are doing nothing consciously towards their evolution,
and who let everything go as [Page 72] it will, are nevertheless gradually evolving,
because of the irresistible force of the Logos which is steadily pressing them
onwards. But they are moving so slowly that it will take them millions of years of
incarnation and trouble and uselessness to gain even a step.
The method by which progress is made certain is simple and ingenious. As we
have seen, evil qualities are vibrations of the coarser matter of the respective
planes, while good qualities are expressed through the higher grades of matter.
From this follow two remarkable results.
It must be born in mind that each sub-plane of the astral body has a special
relationship to the corresponding sub-plane of the mental body; thus the four
lower astral sub-planes correspond to the four kinds of matter in the mental body,
while the three higher astral sub-planes correspond to the three kinds of matter in
the causal body.
Hence the lower astral vibrations can find no matter in the causal body capable
of responding to them, and so the higher qualities alone can be built into the
causal body. Thence it emerges that any good which a man develops in himself
is permanently recorded by a change in his causal body, while the evil which he
does, feels, or thinks cannot possibly touch the real ego, but can cause
disturbance and trouble only to the mental body, which is renewed for each fresh
incarnation. The result of evil is stored in the astral and mental permanent atoms:
the man, therefore, has still to face it all over and over again, until he has
vanquished it, and finally rooted from his vehicles all tendency to respond to it.
That is evidently a very different matter from taking it into the ego and making it
really a part of himself.
Astral matter responds more rapidly that physical to every impulse form the world
of mind, and consequently the astral body of a man, being made of astral matter,
shares this readiness to respond to the impact of thought, and thrills in answer to
every thought [Page 73] that strikes it, whether the thoughts come from without,
i.e., from the minds of other men, or from within, from the mind of its owner.

An astral body, therefore, which is made by its owner to respond habitually to evil
thoughts acts as a magnet to similar thought - and emotion-forms in its vicinity,
whereas a pure astral body acts on such thoughts with repulsive energy, and
attracts to itself thought - and emotion-forms of matter and vibrations congruous
with its own.
For it must be borne in mind that the astral world is full of thoughts and emotions
of other men, and that these exert a ceaseless pressure, constantly bombarding
every astral body and setting up in it vibrations similar to their own.
In addition, there are nature-spirits (see page 181) of a low order, which enjoy
the coarse vibrations of anger and hatred, and throw themselves into any current
of such nature, thus intensifying the undulations and adding fresh life to them.
People yielding themselves to coarse feelings can depend on being constantly
surrounded by such carrion-crows of the astral world who jostle one another in
eager anticipation of an outburst of passion.
Many of the moods to which most people are subject, in greater or lesser degree,
are due to outside astral influences. Whilst depression, for example, may be due
to a purely physical cause, such as indigestion, a chill, fatigue, etc., even more
frequently it is caused by the presence of an astral entity who is himself
depressed and is hovering around either in search of sympathy or in the hope of
drawing from the subject the vitality which he lacks.
Furthermore, a man who, for example, is beside himself with rage, temporarily
loses hold of his astral body, the desire-elemental (see page 6) becoming
supreme. Under such circumstances the man may be seized upon and obsessed
either by a dead man of similar nature or by some evil artificial elemental. [Page

The student should sternly and especially disregard depression, which is a great
barrier to progress, and at least should endeavour to let no one else know that he
is oppressed by it. It indicates that he is thinking more of himself than of the
Master, and it makes it more difficult for the Master's influence to act upon him.
Depression causes much suffering to sensitive people, and is responsible for
much of the terror of children at night. The inner life of an aspirant ought not to be
one of continual emotional oscillation.
Above all things, the aspirant should learn not to worry. Contentment is not
incompatible with aspiration. Optimism is justified by the certainty of the ultimate
triumph of good, though it is true that if we take into account only the physical
plane it is not easy to maintain that position.
Under the stress of very powerful emotions, if a man lets himself go too far, he
may die, become insane, or be obsessed. Such obsession need not necessarily
be what we call evil, though the truth is that all obsession is injurious.
An illustration of this phenomenon may be taken from "conversion" at a religious
revival. On such occasions some men get worked up into a condition of such
tremendous emotional excitement that they swing beyond the degree of safety:
they may then be obsessed by a departed preacher of the same religious
persuasion, and thus two souls may be temporarily work through one body. The
tremendous energy of these hysterical excesses is contagious and may spread
rapidly through a crowd.
An astral disturbance is set up of the nature of a gigantic whirlpool. Towards this
pour astral entities whose one desire is for sensation: these are all kinds of
nature-spirits (see page 181) who delight in and bathe in the vibrations of wild
excitement, of whatever character, be it religious or sexual, just as children pay in
the surf. They supply and reinforce the energy so recklessly expended. The
dominant idea being usually the selfish one of saving one's own soul, [Page 75]
the astral matter is of a coarse kind, and the nature-spirits are also of a primitive
The emotional effect of a religious revival is thus very powerful. In some cases a
man may be genuinely and permanently benefited by his "conversion", but the
serious student of occultism should avoid such excesses of emotional
excitement, which for many people are apt to be dangerous. "Excitement is alien
to the spiritual life".
There are, of course, many causes of insanity: it may be due to defects in one or
more of the vehicles - physical, etheric,astral, mental. In one variety it is caused
by a want of accurate adjustment between the astral particles and the particles of
either the etheric or the mental body. Such a case would not recover sanity until
he reached the heaven-world, i.e., until he had left his astral body and passed
into his mental body. This type of insanity is rare.
The effect on the astral body caused by astral vibrations of another astral body
has long been recognised in the East, and is one of the reasons why it is such an
immense advantage to a pupil to live in close proximity to one more highly
evolved than himself. An Indian teacher not only may prescribe for his pupil
special kinds of exercises or study, in order to purify, strengthen and develop the
astral body, but also by keeping the pupil in his neighbourhood physically seeks
by this close association to harmonise and attune the pupil's vehicles to his own.
Such a teacher has already calmed his own vehicles and accustomed them to
vibrate at a few carefully selected rates instead of in a hundred promiscuous
frenzies. These few rates of vibration are very strong and steady, and each day
and night, whether he is sleeping or waking, they play unceasingly upon the
vehicles of the pupil, and gradually raise him to his teacher's key.
For similar reasons, an Indian, who wishes to live the higher life, retires to the
jungle, as a man of other races withdraws from the world and lives as a hermit.
He thus has at least breathing space, and rest from [Page 76] from the endless
conflict caused by the perpetual battering on his vehicles of other people's
feelings and thoughts, and can find time to think coherently. The calm influences
of Nature are also to a certain extent helpful.
Somewhat analogous are the effects produced on animals which are closely
associated with human beings. The devotion of an animal for the master whom
he loves, and his mental efforts to understand his master's wishes and to please
him, enormously develop the animal's intellect and his power of devotion and
affection. But in addition to this, the constant play of the man's vehicles on those
of the animal greatly assist the process, and thus prepare the way for the animal
to individualise and become a human entity.
It is possible, by an effort of will, to make a shell of astral matter on the periphery
of the astral aura. This may be done for three purposes: (1) to keep out
emotional vibrations, such as anger, envy or hatred, intentionally directed at one
by another; (2) to keep out casual vibrations of low type which may be floating in
the astral world and impinge upon one's aura; (3) to protect the astral body
during meditation. Such shells do not usually last for long, but need to be
frequently renewed if required for any length of time.
Such a shell would, of course,keep vibrations in as well as out. The student
should therefore make the shell only of the coarsest astral matter, as he will not
wish to keep away, or to prevent from passing outwards, vibrations in the higher
types of astral matter.
As a general principle, it may be said that to use a shell for oneself is to some
extent a confession of weakness, as if one is all one should be, no artificial
protection of this kind would be needed. On the other hand, shells may often be
used with advantage to help other people who need protection.
It will be recollected (see page 6) that a man's astral body consists not only of
ordinary astral matter, but also of a quantity of elemental essence. During the
[Page 77] man's life this elemental essence is segregated from the ocean of
similar matter around, and practically becomes for that time what may be
described as a kind of artificial elemental (see page 450 i.e., a kind of semi-
intelligent separate entity known as the Desire-Elemental. The Desire-Elemental
follows the course of its own evolution downwards into matter without any
reference to (or, indeed, any knowledge of) the convenience or intention of the
Ego to whom it happens to be attached. Its interests are thus diametrically
opposed to those of the man, as it is seeking ever stronger and coarser
vibrations. Hence the perpetual struggle described by St.Paul as "the law in the
members warring against the law of the mind". Furthermore, finding that
association with the mental matter of the man's mind-body brings to it more vivid
vibrations, it endeavours to stir up the mental matter into sympathy with it, and to
induce the man to believe that he desires the sensations which it desires.

Consequently, it becomes a sort of tempter. Nevertheless the desire-elemental is

not an evil entity: in fact it is not an evolving entity at all, having no power of
reincarnation: it is only the essence of which it is composed which is evolving.Nor
has this shadowy being any evil designs upon the man, for it knows nothing
whatever of the man of whom, for the time, it forms a part. It is thus in no way a
fiend to the regarded with horror, but is as much a part of the divine life as the
man himself, though at a different stage of its unfoldment.
It is a mistake to imagine that by refusing to gratify the desire-elemental with
coarse vibrations, a man is thereby checking its evolution: for this is not the case.
By controlling the passions and developing the higher qualities, a man drops the
lower and helps to evolve the higher types of essence: the lower kinds of
vibrations can be supplied by an animal, at some later time, even better than by a
man, whereas no one but a man can evolve the higher type of essence.
All through life a man should definitely fight against [Page 78] the desire-elemental
and its tendency to seek for the lower, coarser physical vibrations, recognising
quite clearly that its consciousness, its like and dislikes, are not his own. He has
himself created it and should not become a slave to it, but learn to control it and
realise himself as apart from it.
This matter will be further considered in Chapter 12.
3) The Mental Life. - Our third and last factor which affects the astral body during
ordinary waking consciousness is the mental life. The mental activities have the
most far-reaching effects on the astral body for two reasons: -
(1) Because lower mental matter, Manas, is so inextricably linked with astral
matter, Kâma, that it is almost impossible for most people to utilise one without
the other: i.e., few people can think without at the same time feeling, or feel
without at the same time, to some extent, thinking.
(2) Because the organisation and control of the astral body rest with the mind.
This is an example of the general principle that each body is built up by
consciousness working in the plane next above it. Without the creative power of
thought the astral body cannot be organised.
Every impulse sent by the mind to the physical body has to pass through the
astral body, and produces an effect on it also. Further, as astral matter is far
more responsive to thought-vibrations than is physical, the effect of mental
vibrations on it is proportionately greater than on the physical body.
Consequently a controlled, trained and developed mind tends also to bring the
astral body under control and to develop it. When, however, the mind is not
actively controlling the astral body, the latter, being peculiarly susceptible to the
influence of passing thought-currents, is perpetually receiving these stimuli from
without, and eagerly responding to them.
So far, we have dealt with the general effects produced on the astral body, during
ordinary life, by the nature of the physical, emotional and mental life. [Page 79] We
have now to deal, but in general outline only, with the use of the special faculties
of the astral body itself, during the waking consciousness.
The nature of these faculties, and their connection with the various Chakrams in
the astral body, we have already described in Chapter 5. By means of the
powers of astral matter itself, developed through the agency of the Chakrams, a
man is enabled not only to receive vibrations from etheric matter, transmitted
through the astral body to his mind, but also to receive impressions direct from
the surrounding matter of the astral world, these, of course, being also similarly
transmitted through the mental body to the real man within.
But in order to receive impressions in this manner direct from the astral world, the
man must learn to focus his consciousness in his astral body, instead of, as is
usually the case, in his physical brain.
In the lower types of men, Kâma, or desire, is still emphatically the most
prominent feature, though the mental development has also proceeded to some
extent. The consciousness of such men is centred in the lower part of the astral
body, their life being governed by sensations connected with the physical plane.
That is the reason why the astral body forms the most prominent part of the aura
in the undeveloped man.
An ordinary man of our own race is also still living almost entirely in his
sensations, although the higher astral is coming into play: but still, for him, the
prominent question which guides his conduct is not what is right or reasonable to
do, but simply what he himself desires to do. The more cultured and developed
are beginning to govern desire by reason: that is to say, the centre of
consciousness is gradually transferring itself from the higher astral to the lower
mental. Slowly as the man progresses it moves up further still, and the man
begins to be dominated by principle rather than be interest and desire.
The student will recollect that humanity is still [Page 80] in the Fourth Round,
which should naturally be devoted to the development of desire and emotion; yet
we are engaged in the unfolding of intellect, which is to be the special
characteristic of the Fifth Round. That this is so is due to the immense stimulus
given to our evolution by the descent of the Lords of the Flame from Venus, and
by the work of the Adepts, who have preserved for us that influence and steadily
sacrificed themselves in order that we might make the better progress.
It should also be recollected that, in the smaller cycle of races,the Fifth Root
Race is working at the mind-body, whereas the Fourth Root Race is more
especially concerned with the astral body.
In spite of the fact that, in the vast majority of cases the centre of consciousness
is located in the astral body, most men are quite unaware of the fact, knowing
nothing at all about the astral body or its uses. They have behind them the
traditions and customs of a long series of lives in which the astral faculties have
not been used; yet all the time those faculties have been gradually and slowly
growing inside a shell, somewhat as a chick grows inside the egg. Hence a very
large number of people have astral faculties, of which they are entirely
unconscious, in reality very near the surface, so to speak, and its probable that in
the near future, as these matters become more widely known and understood, in
great numbers of cases these latent faculties will break through, and astral
powers will then become far more common than they are today.
The shell spoken of above is composed of a great mass of self-centred thought
in which the ordinary man is almost hopelessly entombed. This applies also,
perhaps with even greater force, to the sleep life,with which we shall deal in the
next chapter.
We spoke above of focusing the consciousness in the astral body. The
consciousness of man can be focused in only one vehicle at a time, though he
may be simultaneously conscious through the others in a vague way. [Page 81] a
simple analogy may be taken from ordinary physical sight. If the finger be held up
before the face, the eyes can be so focussed as to see the finger perfectly: at the
same time the distant background can also be seen, though imperfectly, because
it is out of focus. In a moment the focus can be changed so that the background
is seen perfectly, but the finger, now out of focus, only dimly and vaguely.
Precisely in the same way, if a man who has developed astral and mental
consciousness focuses himself in the physical brain, as in ordinary life, he will
see perfectly the physical bodies of people, and at the same time he will see their
astral and mental bodies, but only somewhat dimly.In far less than a moment he
can change the focus of his consciousness so that he sees the astral fully and
perfectly: but in that case he will see the mental and physical bodies also, but not
in full detail. The same thing is true of the mental sight and of the sight of higher
Thus in the case of a highly developed man, whose consciousness has already
developed even beyond the causal (higher mental) body, so that he is able to
function freely on the buddhic plane, and has also a measure of consciousness
upon the âtmic plane, the centre of consciousness lies between the higher
mental and the buddhic plane. The higher mental and the higher astral are in him
much more developed than their lower parts, and though he still retains his
physical body, he holds it merely for the convenience of working in it, and not in
any way because his thoughts and desires are fixed there. Such a man has
transcended all Kâma which could bind him to incarnation, and his physical body
is therefore retained in order that it may serve as an instrument for the forces of
the higher planes to reach down even to the physical plane.[Page 82]

The real cause of sleep would appear to be that the bodies grow tired of one
another. In the case of the physical body, not only every muscular exertion, but
also every feeling and thought, produce certain slight chemical changes. A
healthy body is always trying to counteract these changes, but it never quite
succeeds whilst the body is awake. Consequently with every thought, feeling or
action there is a slight, almost imperceptible loss, the cumulative effect of which
eventually leaves the physical body too exhausted to be capable of further
thought or work. In some cases even a few moments of sleep will be sufficient for
recuperation, this being effected by the physical elemental.
In the case of the astral body, it very soon becomes tired of the heavy labour of
moving the particles of the physical brain, and needs a considerable period of
separation from it to enable it to gather strength to resume the irksome task.
On its own plane, however, the astral body is practically incapable of fatigue,
since it has been known to work incessantly for twenty-five years without
showing signs of exhaustion.
Although excessive and long-continued emotion tires a man very quickly in
ordinary life, it is not the astral body which becomes fatigued, but the physical
organism though which the emotion is expressed or experienced.
Similarly with the mental body. When we speak of mental fatigue, it is in reality a
misnomer, for it is the brain, not the mind, that is tired. There is no such thing as
fatigue of the mind. [Page 83]

When a mean leaves his body in sleep (or in death), the pressure of the
surrounding astral matter - which really means the force of gravity on the astral
plane - immediately forces other astral matter into the astrally empty space. Such
a temporary astral counterpart is an exact copy, so far as arrangement is
concerned, of the physical body, but nevertheless it has no real connection with
it, and could never be used as a vehicle. It is merely a fortuitous concurrence of
particles, drawn from any astral matter of a suitable kind that happens to be at
hand. When the true astral body returns, it pushes out this other astral matter
without the slightest opposition.
This is clearly one reason why extreme care should be exercised as to the
surroundings in which a man sleeps: for, if those surrounding are evil, astral
matter of an objectionable type may fill the physical body while the man's astral
body is absent, leaving behind influences which cannot but react unpleasantly
upon the real man when he returns.
When a man "goes to sleep", his higher principles in their astral vehicle withdraw
from the physical body, the dense body and the etheric body remaining by
themselves on the bed, the astral body floating in the air above them. In sleep,
then, a man is simply using his astral body instead of his physical: it is only the
physical body that is asleep, not necessarily the man himself.
Usually the astral body, thus withdrawn from the physical, will retain the form of
the physical body, so that the person is readily recognisable to any one who
knows him physically. This is due to the fact that the attraction between the astral
and the physical particles, continued all through physical life, sets up a habit or
momentum in the astral matter, which continues even while it is temporarily
withdrawn from the sleeping physical body.
For this reason, the astral body of a man who is asleep will consist of a central
portion corresponding [Page 84] to the physical body, relatively very dense, and a
surrounding aura, relatively much rarer.
In the case of a very undeveloped man, such as a savage, he may be nearly as
much asleep as his physical body, because he is capable of very little definite
consciousness in his astral body. He is also unable to move away from the
immediate neighbourhood of the sleeping physical body, and if an attempt were
made to draw him away in his astral body, he would probably awake in his
physical body in terror.
His astral body is a somewhat shapeless mass, a floating wreath of mist, roughly
ovoid in shape, but very irregular and indefinite in outline: the features and shape
of the inner form (the dense astral counterpart of the physical body) are also
vague, blurred and indistinct, but always recognisable.
A man of this primitive type has been using his astral body, during waking
consciousness, sending mind currents through the astral to the physical brain.
But when, during sleep, the physical brain is inactive, the astral body, being
undeveloped, is incapable of receiving impressions on its own account, and so
the man is practically unconscious, being unable to express himself clearly
through the poorly organised astral body. The centres of sensation in it may be
affected by passing thought-forms, and he may answer in it to stimuli that rouse
the lower nature. But the whole effect given to the observer is one of sleepiness
and vagueness, the astral body lacking all definite activity and floating idly,
inchoate, above the sleeping physical form.
In a quite unevolved person, therefore, the higher principles, i.e., the man
himself, are almost as much asleep as the physical body.
In some cases the astral body is less lethargic, and floats dreamily about on the
various astral currents, occasionally recognising other people in a similar
condition, and meeting with experiences of all sorts, pleasant and unpleasant,
the memory of which, hopelessly confused and often travestied into a grotesque
[Page 85] caricature of what really happened (See Chapter 10 on Dreams) will
cause the man to think next morning what a remarkable dream he has had.
In the case of a more evolved man, there is a very great difference. The inner
form is much more distinct and definite - a closer reproduction of the man's
physical appearance. Instead of the surrounding mist-wreath, there is a sharply
defined ovoid form preserving its shape unaffected amidst all the varied currents
which are always swirling around it on the astral plane.
A man of this type is by no means unconscious in his astral body, but is quite
actively thinking. Nevertheless, he may be taking very little more notice of his
surroundings than the savage. Not because he is incapable of seeing, but
because he is so wrapped up in his own thought that he does not see, though he
could do so if he chose. Whatever may have been the thoughts engaging his
mind during the past day, he usually continues them when he falls asleep, and
he is thus surrounded by so dense a wall of his own making that he observes
practically nothing of what is going on outside. Occasionally a violent impact from
without, or even some strong desire of his own from within, may tear aside this
curtain of mist and permit him to receive some definite impression. But even then
the fog would close in again almost immediately, and he would dream on un-
observantly as before.
In the case of a still more developed man, when the physical body goes to sleep,
the astral body slips out of it, and the man is then in full consciousness. The
astral body is clearly outlined and definitely organised, bearing the likeness of the
man, and the man is able to use it as a vehicle, a vehicle far more convenient
than the physical body.
The receptivity of the astral body has increased, until it is instantly responsive to
all the vibrations of its plane, the fine as well as the coarser: but in the astral body
of a very highly developed person [Page 86] there would, of course, be practically
no matter left capable of responding to coarse vibrations.
Such a man is wide awake, is working far more actively, more accurately, and
with greater power of comprehension, than when he was confined in the denser
physical vehicle. In addition, he can move about freely and with immense rapidity
to any distance, without causing the least disturbance to the sleeping physical
He may meet and exchange ideas with friends,either incarnate or discarnate,
who happen to be equally awake on the astral plane, He may meet people more
evolved than himself, and receive from them warning or instruction: or he may be
able to confer benefits on those who know less than himself. He may come into
contact with non-human entities of various kinds (see Chapters 20 and 21 on
Astral Entities): he will be subject to all kinds of astral influences, good or evil,
strengthening or terrifying.
He may form friendships with people from to their parts of the world: he may give
or listen to lectures: if he is a student, he may meet other students and, with the
additional faculties which the astral world gives, he may be able to solve
problems which presented difficulties in the physical world.
A physician, for example, during the sleep of the body, may visit cases in which
he is especially interested. He may thus acquire new information, which may
come through as a kind of intuition to his waking consciousness.
In a highly evolved man, the astral body, being thoroughly organised and
vitalised, becomes as much the vehicle of consciousness on the astral plane as
the physical body is on the physical plane.
The astral world being the very home of passion and emotion, those who yield
themselves to an emotion can experience it with a vigour and a keenness
mercifully unknown on earth. Whilst in the physical body most of the efficiency of
an emotion is exhausted in transmission to the physical plane, but in the astral
[Page 87] world the whole of the force is available in its own world. Hence it is
possible in the astral world to feel far more intense affection or devotion than is
possible in the physical world: similarly an intensity of suffering is possible in the
astral world which is unimaginable in ordinary physical life.
An advantage of this state of affairs is that in the astral world all pain and
suffering are voluntary and absolutely under control, hence life there is much
easier, for the man who understands. To control physical pain by the mind is
possible, but exceedingly difficult: but in the astral world anyone can in a moment
drive away the suffering caused by a strong emotion. The man has only to exert
his will, when the passion straightway disappears. This assertion sounds
startling: but it is nevertheless true, such being the power of will and mind over
To have attained full consciousness in the astral body is to have already made a
considerable amount of progress: when a man has also bridged over the chasm
between astral and physical consciousness, day and night no longer exist for
him, since he leads a life unbroken in its continuity. For such a man, even death,
as ordinarily conceived, has ceased to exist, since he carries that unbroken
consciousness not only through night and day, but also through the portals of
death itself, and up to the end of his life upon the astral plane, as we shall see
later when we come to deal with the after-death life.
Travelling in the astral body is not instantaneous: but it is so swift that space and
time may be said to be practically conquered: for although a man is passing
through space, it is passed through so rapidly that its power to divide is nearly
non-existent. In two or three minutes a man might move round the world.
Any fairly advanced and cultured man among the higher races of mankind has
already consciousness fully developed in the astral body, and is perfectly
capable of employing it as a vehicle, though in many [Page 88] case he does not
do so, because he has not made the definite effort which is at first necessary,
until the habit becomes established.
The difficulty with the ordinary person is not that the astral body cannot act, but
that for thousands of years that body has been accustomed to being set in
motion only by impressions received through the physical vehicle, so that men do
not realise that the astral body can work on its own plane and on its own account,
and that the will can act upon it directly. People remain "unawake" astrally
because they get into the habit of waiting for the familiar physical vibrations to
call out their astral activity. Hence they may be said to be awake on the astral
plane, but not in the least to the plane, and consequently they are conscious of
their surroundings only very vaguely, if at all.
When a man becomes a pupil of one of the Masters, he is usually at once
shaken out of his somnolent condition on the astral plane, fully awakened to the
realities around him on that plane, and set to learn from them and to work among
them, so that his hours of sleep are no longer a blank, but are filled with active
and useful occupation, without in the least interfering with the healthy repose of
the tired physical body.
In Chapter 28 on Invisible Helpers we shall deal more fully with carefully planned
and organised work in the astral body: here it may be stated that even before that
stage is reached, a great deal of useful work may be and is constantly being
done. A man who falls asleep with the definite intention in his mind of doing a
certain piece of work will assuredly go and attempt to carry out his intention as
soon as he is freed from his physical body in sleep. But, when the work is
completed, it is likely that the fog of his own self-centred thoughts will close round
him once more, unless he has accustomed himself to initiate fresh lines of action
when functioning apart from the physical brain. In some cases, of course, the
work [Page 89] chosen is such as to occupy the whole of the time spent in sleep,
so that such a man would be exerting himself to the fullest extent possible, so far
as his astral development permits.
Every one should determine each night to do something useful on the astral
plane: to comfort some one in trouble: to use the will to pour strength into a friend
who is weak or ill: to calm some one who is excited or hysterical: or to perform
some similar service.
Some measure of success is absolutely certain, and if the helper observes
closely, he will often receive indications in the physical world of definite results
There are four ways in which a man may be "awakened" to self-conscious
activity in his astral body.
(1) By the ordinary course of evolution, which though slow, is sure.
(2) By the man himself, having learnt the facts of the case, making the requisite
steady and persistent effort to clear away the mist from within and gradually
overcome the inertia to which he is accustomed. In order to do this the man
should resolve before going to sleep to try when he leaves the body to awaken
himself and see something or do some useful work. This, of course, is merely
hastening the natural process of evolution. It is desirable that the man should first
have developed common sense and moral qualities: this for two reasons: first,
lest he may misuse such powers as he may acquire; second, lest he be
overwhelmed by fear in the presence of forces which can neither understand nor
(3) By some accident, or by unlawful use of magical ceremonies, he may so rend
the veil that it can never wholly be closed again. Instances of this are to be found
in A Bewitched life by H.P.Blavatsky, and in Zanoni by Lord Bulwer Lytton

(4) A friend may act from without upon the closed shell surrounding the man and
gradually arouse the [Page 90] man to higher possibilities. This, however,would
never be done unless the friend were quite sure that the man to be awakened
possessed the courage, devotion, and other qualifications necessary for useful
But the need of helpers on the astral plane is so great that every aspirant may be
certain that there will not be a day's delay in arousing him as soon as he is seen
to be ready.
It may be added that when even a child has been awakened on the astral plane,
the development of the astral body would proceed so rapidly that he would very
soon be in a position upon that plane but little inferior to that of the awakened
adult, and would, of course, be much in advance, so far as usefulness is
concerned, of the wisest man who was as yet unawakened.
But unless the go expressing himself through the child-body possessed the
necessary qualification of a determined yet loving disposition, and had clearly
manifested it in his previous lives, no occultist would take the very serious
responsibility of awakening him on the astral plane. When it is possible to arouse
children in this way, they often prove most efficient works on the astral plane, and
throw themselves into this work with a whole-souled devotion which is beautiful
to see.
Also, while it is comparatively easy to waken a man on the astral plane, it is
practically impossible, except by a most undesirable use of mesmeric influence,
to put him to sleep again.
Sleeping and waking life are thus seen to be in reality but one: during sleep we
are aware of that fact, and have the continuous memory of both, i.e., astral
memory includes the physical, though, of course, the physical memory by no
means always includes the memory of the astral experiences.
The phenomenon of sleep-walking (somnambulism) may apparently be produced
in several distinct ways.
(1) The ego may be able to act more directly upon [Page 91] the physical body
during the absence of the mental and astral vehicles: in cases of this nature a
man might be able, for example, to write poetry, paint pictures, etc., which would
be far beyond his ordinary powers when awake.
(2) The physical body may be working automatically, and by force of habit,
uncontrolled by the man himself. Instances of this occur where servants rise in
the middle of the night and light a fire or attend to other household duties to
which they are accustomed: or where the sleeping physical body carries out to
some extent the idea dominant in the mind before falling to sleep.
(3) An outside entity, incarnate or discarnate, may seize the body of a sleeping
man and use it for his own ends. This would be most likely to happen with a
person who was mediumnistic, i.e., whose bodies are more loosely joined
together than usual and therefore more readily separable.
With normal people, however, the fact that the astral body leaves the physical
body during sleep does not open the way to obsession, because the ego always
maintains a close connection with his body and he would quickly be recalled to it
by any attempt that might be made upon it.
(4) A directly opposite condition may also produce a similar result. When the
principles or bodies fit more tightly than usual, the man, instead of visiting a
distant place in his astral body only, would take his physical body along as well,
because he is not wholly dissociated from it.
(5) Somnambulism is probably also connected with the complex problem of the
various layers of consciousness in man, which under normal circumstances are
unable to manifest themselves.
Closely akin to sleep-life is the condition of trance, which but the sleep state,
artificially or abnormally induced. Mediums and sensitives readily pass out of the
physical body into the astral body, usually unconsciously. The astral body can
then exercise its functions, [Page 92] such as that of travelling to a distant place,
gathering impressions there from surrounding objects and bringing them back to
the physical body. In the case of a medium the astral body can describe these
impressions by means of the entranced physical body: but, as a rule, when the
medium comes out of the trance,the brain does not retain the impressions thus
made on it, no trace being left in the physical memory of the experiences
acquired. Occasionally, but rarely, the astral body is able to make a lasting
impression on the brain, so that the medium is able to recollect the knowledge
acquired during trance. [Page 93]

Consciousness and activity in the astral body are one thing: the memory in the
brain of that astral consciousness and activity are a totally different matter. The
existence or the absence of physical memory in no way affects the
consciousness on the astral plane, nor the ability to function in the astral plane
with perfect ease and freedom. It is, in fact,not only possible, but also by no
means uncommon, for a man to function freely and usefully in his astral body
during the sleep of the physical body, and yet to return to the physical body
without the slightest memory of the astral work upon which he has been
The break in consciousness between the astral and the physical life is due either
to un-development of the astral body, or to the want of an adequate etheric
bridge between the astral and the dense physical matter of the bodies.
This bridge consists of the closely-woven web of atomic matter, through which
the vibrations have to pass, and which causes a moment of unconsciousness,
like a veil, between sleeping and waking.
The only way in which memory of the astral life can be brought through into the
physical brain is by sufficient development of the astral body and by an
awakening of the etheric Chakrams, one function of which is to bring forces from
the astral to the etheric. In addition, there must be active functioning of the
pituitary body, which focuses the astral vibrations.
Sometimes, on awakening, there is a feeling that something has been
experienced of which no memory remains. The feeling indicates that there has
been [Page 94] astral consciousness, though the brain is insufficiently receptive to
receive the record. At other times the man in his astral body may succeed in
making a momentary impression on the etheric double and the dense body,
resulting in a vivid memory of the astral life. This is sometimes done deliberately
when something occurs which the man feels that he ought to remember on the
physical plane. Such a memory usually vanishes quickly and cannot be
recovered: efforts to recover the memory, by setting up strong vibrations in the
physical brain, still further overpower the more delicate astral vibrations, and
consequently render success even more impossible.
There are some events, too, which make such a vivid impression upon the astral
body that they become impressed upon the physical brain by a kind of
repercussion (see page 242).
In other cases, a man may succeed in impressing new knowledge on the
physical brain, without being able to convey also the memory of where or how
that knowledge was gained. Instances of this, common to most people, occur
where solutions of problems, previously insoluble, suddenly arise in the
consciousness, or where light is suddenly thrown on to questions previously
obscure. Such cases may be taken to indicate that progress is being made with
the organisation and functioning of the astral body, although the physical body is
still only partially receptive.
In cases where the physical brain does respond, there are vivid, reasonable and
coherent dreams, such as occur to many people from time to time.
Few people, when in the astral body, care whether the physical brain remembers
or not, and nine out of ten much dislike returning to the body. In coming back to
the physical body from the astral world there is a feeling of great constraint, as
though one were being enveloped in a thick, heavy cloak. The joy of life on the
astral plane is so great that physical life in comparison with it seems no life at all.
Many regard the daily return to the physical body as men [Page 95] often do their
daily journey to the office. They do not positively dislike it, but they would not do it
unless they were compelled.
Eventually, in the case of highly developed and advanced persons, the etheric
bridge between the astral and the physical worlds is constructed, and then there
is perfect continuity of consciousness between the astral and the physical lives.
For such people life ceases to be composed of days of remembrance and nights
of oblivion, and becomes instead, a continuous whole, year after year, of
unbroken consciousness.
Occasionally, a man who has normally no memory of his astral life, may
unintentionally, through an accident, or illness, or intentionally by certain definite
practices, bridge over the gap between astral and physical consciousness, so
that from that time onwards his astral consciousness will be continuous, and his
memory of his sleep life therefore be perfect. But, of course, before this could
take place, he must already have developed full consciousness in the astral
body. It is merely the rending of the veil between the astral and physical that is
sudden, not the development of the astral body.
The dream life may be considerably modified as a direct result of mental growth.
Every impulse sent by the mind to the physical brain has to pass through the
astral body, and, as astral matter is far more responsive to thought-vibrations
than is physical matter, it follows that the effects produced on the astral body are
correspondingly greater. Thus, when a man has acquired mental control, i.e., has
learned to dominate the brain, to concentrate, and to think as and when he likes,
a corresponding change will take place in his astral life; and, if he brings the
memory of that life through into the physical brain, his dreams will become vivid,
well-sustained, rational, even instructive.
In general, the more the physical brain is trained to answer to the vibrations of
the mental body, the more is the bridging of the gulf between waking and
sleeping [Page 96] consciousness facilitated. The brain should become more and
more the obedient instrument of the man, acting under impulses from his will.
The dreaming of ordinary events does not interfere with astral work, because the
dreaming takes place in the physical brain, while the real man is away attending
to other matters. It does not really matter what the physical brain does, so long
as it keeps itself free from undesirable thoughts.
Once a dream is started, its course cannot usually be changed: but the dream-
life can be controlled indirectly to a considerable extent. It is especially important
that the last thought on sinking to sleep should be a noble and elevating one, as
this strikes the keynote which largely determines the nature of the dreams which
follow. An evil or impure thought attracts evil and impure influences and
creatures, which react on the mind and astral body and tend to awaken low and
earthly desires.
On the other hand, if a man falls asleep with his thoughts fixed on high and holy
things, he will automatically draw round him elementals created by similar efforts
of others, and consequently his dreams will be lofty and pure.
As we are dealing in this book mainly with the astral body, and phenomena
closely associated with it, it is not necessary to attempt to deal exhaustively with
the somewhat large subject of dream consciousness. Nevertheless, in order to
show the proper setting of the part which the astral body plays in the dream life, it
will be useful to give a very brief outline of the main factors operative in
producing dreams.For a detailed study of the whole matter the student is referred
to that excellent textbook, Dreams by C.W.Leadbeater , from which the following
facts are extracted.
The factors concerned in the production of dreams are: -
1- The lower physical brain, with its infantile semi-consciousness, and its habit of
expressing every stimulus in pictorial form. [Page 97]
2- The etheric part of the brain, through which sweeps a ceaseless procession of
disconnected pictures.
3- The astral body, palpitating with the wild surgings of desire and emotion.
4- The ego (in the causal body) who may be in any state of consciousness, from
almost complete insensibility to perfect command of his faculties.
When a man goes to sleep, his ego withdraws further within himself, and leaves
his various bodies more free than usual to go their own way. These separate
bodies: (1) are much more susceptible of impressions from without than at other
times; and (2) have a very rudimentary consciousness of their own.
Consequently there is ample reason for the production of dreams, as well as for
confused recollections in the physical brain of the experiences of the other
bodies during sleep.
Such confused dreams may thus be due to: (1) a series of disconnected pictures
and impossible transformations produced by the senseless automatic action of
the lower physical brain; (2) a stream of casual thought which has been pouring
through the etheric part of the brain; (3) the ever-restless tide of earthly desire,
playing through the astral body and probably stimulated by astral influences; (4)
an imperfect attempt at dramatisation by an undeveloped ego; (5) a mingling of
several or all of these influences.
We will briefly describe the principal elements in each of these kinds of dreams.
1- Physical Brain Dreams. - When in sleep the ego, for the time, resigns control
of the brain, the physical body still has a certain dim consciousness of its own:
and in addition there is also the aggregate consciousness of the individual cells
of the physical body. The grasp of the physical consciousness over the brain is
far feebler than that of the ego over the brain, and consequently purely physical
charges are capable of affecting the brain to a very much greater extent.
Examples of such physical changes are: irregularity in the circulation of the
blood, indigestion, heat and cold, etc..[Page 98]
The dim physical consciousness possesses certain peculiarities: (1) it is to a
great extent automatic; (2) it seems unable to grasp an idea except in the form in
which it is itself an actor: consequently all stimuli, whether from within or from
without, are immediately translated into perceptual images; (3) it is incapable of
grasping abstract ideas or memories, as such, but at once transforms them into
imaginary percepts: (4) every local direction of thought becomes for it an actual
spatial transportation, i.e., a passing thought of China would transport the
consciousness instantly in imagination to China; (5) it has no power of judging
the sequence, value or objective truth of the pictures that appear before it; it
takes them all just as it seems them, and never feels surprised at anything which
may happen, however incongruous or absurd; (6) it is subject to the principle of
association of ideas, and consequently images, unconnected except by the fact
that they represent events which happened near to one another in time, are apt
to be thrown together in inextricable confusion; (7) it is singularly sensitive to the
slightest external influences, such as sounds or touches, and (8) it magnifies and
distorts them to an almost incredible degree.
The physical brain thus is capable of creating sufficient confusion and
exaggeration to account for many, but by no means all, dream phenomena.
2. Etheric Brain Dreams. - The etheric brain is even more sensitive during the
sleep of the body than it is during ordinary waking consciousness to influences
from outside. Whilst the mind is actively engaged, the brain thereby being fully
employed, it is practically impervious to the continual impingement of thought
from without. But the moment the brain is left idle, the stream of inconsequent
chaos begins to pour through it. In the vast majority of people, the thoughts which
flow through their brains are in reality not their own thoughts at all, but fragments
cast off by other people. Consequently, in sleep life especially, any passing
thought which finds something [Page 99] congruous to itself in the brain of a
sleeper, is seized upon by that brain and appropriated, thus starting a whole train
of ideas: eventually these fade away and the disconnected, purposeless stream
begins flowing through the brain again.
A point to notice is that, since in the present state of the world's evolution there
are likely to be more evil thoughts than good ones floating around, a man with an
uncontrolled brain is open to all sorts of temptation which mind and brain control
might have spared him.
Even when these thought-currents are shut out, by the deliberate effort of
another person, from the etheric brain of a sleeper, that brain does not remain
completely passive, but begins slowly and dreamily to evolve pictures for itself
from its store of past memories.
3. Astral Dreams -These are simply recollection in the physical brain of the life
and activities of the astral body during the sleep of the physical body, to which
reference has already been made in the preceding pages. In the case of a fairly
well-developed person, the astral body can travel without discomfort to
considerable distances from its physical body: can bring more or less definite
impressions of places which it may have visited, or of people whom it may have
met. In every case the astral body, as already said, is ever intensely
impressionable by any thought or suggestion involving desire or emotion, though
the nature of the desires which most readily awaken a response in it will, of
course, depend on the development of the person and the purity or otherwise of
his astral body.
The astral body is at all times susceptible to the influences of passing thought-
currents, and, when the mind is not actively controlling it, it is perpetually
receiving these stimuli from without, and eagerly responding to them. During
sleep it is even more readily influenced. Consequently, a man who has, for
example, entirely destroyed a physical desire, which he may previously have
possessed for alcohol, so that in [Page 100] waking life he may feel even a definite
repulsion for it, may yet frequently dream that he is drinking, and in that dream
experience the pleasure of its influence. During the day, the desire of the astral
body would be under the control of the will, but when the astral body was
liberated in sleep, it escaped to some extent from the domination of the ego, and,
responding probably to outside astral influence, its old habit reasserted itself.
This class of dream is probably common to many who are making definite
attempts to bring their desire-nature under the control of the will.
It may also happen that a man may have been a drunkard in a past life and still
possesses in his astral body some matter drawn thereinto by the vibrations
caused in the permanent atom by the drunkenness. Although this matter is not
vivified in this life, yet in dreams, the control of the ego being weak, the matter
may respond to drink-vibrations from without and the man dreams that he drinks.
Such dreams, once understood, need not cause distress: nevertheless they
should be regarded as a warning that there is still present the possibility of the
drink-craving being re-awakened.
Ego Dreams - Much as the nature of the astral body changes as it develops, still
greater is the change of the ego, or real man, that inhabits it. Where the astral
body is nothing but a floating wreath of mist, the ego is also almost as much
asleep as his physical body, being blind to the influences of his own higher plane:
and even if some idea belonging to it should manage to reach him, since he has
little or no control over his lower bodies, he will be unable to impress the
experience on the physical brain.
Sleepers may be at any stage from that of complete oblivion up to that of full
astral consciousness. And it must be recollected, as already said, that even
though there may be many important experiences on the higher planes, the ego
may nevertheless be unable to impress them upon the brain, so that there is
either no physical memory at all, or only a most confused memory. [Page 101]
The principal characteristics of the consciousness and experiences of the ego,
whether or not they be remembered in the brain, are as follows: -
(1) The ego's measure of time and space are so entirely different from that which
he uses in waking life that it is almost as though neither time nor space existed
for him. Many instances are known where in a few moments of time, as we
measure it, the ego may have experiences which appear to last for many years,
event after event happening in full and circumstantial detail.
(2) The ego possesses the faculty, or the habit, of instantaneous dramatisation.
Thus a physical sound or a touch may reach the ego, not through the usual nerve
mechanism, but directly, a fraction of a second before even it reaches the
physical brain. That fraction of a second is sufficient for the ego to construct a
kind of drama or series of scenes leading up to and culminating in the event
which awakens the physical body. The brain confuses the subjective dream and
the objective event, and therefore imagines itself to have actually lived through
the events of the dream.
This habit, however, seems to be peculiar to the ego which, so far as spirituality
is concerned, is still comparatively undeveloped. As the ego develops spiritually,
he rises beyond these graceful sports of his childhood. The man who has
attained continuous consciousness is so fully occupied with higher plane work
that he devotes no energy to this dramatisation, and consequently this class of
dream ceases for him.
(3) The ego possesses also to some extent the faculty of prevision, being
sometimes able to see in advance events which are going to happen, or rather
which may happen unless steps are taken to prevent them, and to impress the
same on the physical brain. Many instances are recorded of such prophetic or
warning dreams. In some cases the warning may be heeded, the necessary
steps taken, and the foreseen result either modified or entirely avoided. [Page 102]
(4) The ego, when out of the body during sleep, appears to think in symbols: an
idea, which down here would require many words to be expressed, is perfectly
conveyed to him by a single symbolical image. If such a symbolic thought is
impressed upon the brain, and remembered in waking consciousness, the mind
may itself translate it into words: on the other hand it may come through merely
as a symbol, un-translated, and so may cause confusion. In dreams of this
nature, it seems that each person usually has a system of symbology of his own:
thus water may signify approaching trouble: pearls may be a sing of tears: and so
If a man wishes to have useful dreams, i.e., to be able to reap in his waking
consciousness the benefit of what his ego may learn during sleep, there are
certain steps he should take to bring about this result.
First, it is essential that he should form the habit of sustained and concentrated
thought during ordinary waking life. A man who has absolute control of his
thoughts will always know exactly what he is thinking about, and why; he will also
find that the brain, thus trained to listen to the promptings of the ego, will remain
quiescent when not in use, and will decline to receive or respond to casual
currents from the surrounding ocean of thought. The man will thus be more likely
to receive influences from the higher planes, where insight is keener and
judgment truer than they can ever be on the physical plane.
It should scarcely be necessary to add that the man should also be complete
master of at least his lower passions.
By a very elementary act of magic, a man may shut out from his etheric brain the
rush of thoughts which impinge upon it from without. To this end, he should,
when lying down to sleep, picture his aura, and will strongly that its outer surface
shall become a shell to protect him from outside influences. The auric matter will
obey his thought, and form the shell. This step is of appreciable value towards
the desired end. [Page 103]
The great importance of fixing the last thought, before falling to sleep, on high
and noble things, has already been mentioned; it should be practised regularly by
those who wish to bring their dreams under control.
It may be useful here to add the Hindu terms for the four states of
Jâgrat is the ordinary waking consciousness.

Svapna is the dream consciousness, working in the astral body, and able to
impress its experiences upon the brain.
Sushupti is the consciousness working in the mental body, and not able to
impress its experiences on the brain.
Turiya is a state of trance, the consciousness working in the buddhic vehicle,
being so far separated from the brain that it cannot readily be recalled by outer
These terms, however, are used relatively, and vary according to the context.
Thus, in one interpretation of jâgrat, the physical and astral planes are combined,
the seven sub-divisions corresponding to the four conditions of physical matter,
and the three broad divisions of astral matter mentioned on page 148.
For further elucidation the student is referred to An introduction to Yoga, by Annie
Besant, page 16, et seq., and also to A Study in Consciousness, were waking
consciousness is defined as that part of the total consciousness which is working
through the outermost vehicle. [Page 104]

As we have seen, for a man to pass in unbroken consciousness from one vehicle
to another, e.g., from the physical to the astral, or vice versa, it is a requisite that
the links between the bodies should be developed. Most men are not conscious
of these links, and the links are not actively vivified, being in a condition similar to
that of rudimentary organs in the physical body. They have to be developed by
use, and are made to function by the man fixing his attention upon them and
using his will. The will sets free and guides kundalini, but unless the preliminary
purification of the vehicles is first thoroughly accomplished, kundalini is a
destructive instead of a vivifying energy. Hence the insistence, by all occult
teachers, on the necessity of purification before true yoga is practised.
When a man has rendered himself fit to be helped in vivifying the links, such
assistance will inevitably come to him as a matter of course, from those who are
ever seeking opportunities to aid the earnest and unselfish aspirant. Then, one
day, the man will find himself slipping out of the physical body while he is wide
awake, and without any break in consciousness he discovers himself to be free.
With practice the passage from vehicle to vehicle becomes familiar and easy.
The development of the links bridges the gulf between physical and astral
consciousness, so that there is perfect continuity of consciousness.
The student thus has not only to learn to see correctly on the astral plane, but
also to translate accurately the memory of what he has seen from the astral to
the physical brain: and to assist him in this he is trained to carry his
consciousness without break from the [Page 105] physical plane to the astral and
mental and back again, for until that can be done there is always a possibility that
his recollections may be partially lost or distorted during the blank intervals which
separate his periods of consciousness on the various planes. When the power of
bringing over the consciousness is perfectly acquired, the pupil will have the
advantage of the use of all the astral faculties, not only while out of the body
during sleep or trance, but also while fully awake in ordinary physical life.
In order that the physical waking consciousness should include astral
consciousness it is necessary that the pituitary body should be further evolved,
and that the fourth spirillae in the atoms should be perfected.
In addition to the method of moving the consciousness from one sub-plane to
another, of the same plane, from, e.g., the astral atomic to the lowest sub-plane
of the mental, there is also another line of connection which may be called the
atomic short-cut.
If we picture the atomic sub-planes of astral, mental, etc., as lying side by side
along a rod, the other sub-planes may be pictured as hanging from the rod in
loops, as though a piece of string were wound loosely round the rod. Obviously,
then, to pass from one atomic sub-plane to another one could move by a short
cut along the rod, or down and up again through the hanging loops which
symbolise the lower sub-planes.
The normal processes of our thinking come steadily down through the sub-
planes: but flashes of genius, illuminative ideas, come through the atomic sub-
planes only.
There is also a third possibility connected with the relation of our planes with the
cosmic planes, but this is too abstruse to be dealt with in a work which purports
to deal only with the astral plane and its phenomena.
Merely to obtain continuity of consciousness between the physical and the astral
planes is, of course, quite [Page 106] insufficient in itself to restore memory of past
lives. For this a much higher development is required, into the nature of which it
is not necessary to enter enter.
A man who has thus acquired complete mastery over the astral body may, of
course, leave the physical body, not only during sleep, but at any time he
chooses, and go to a distant place, etc..
Mediums and sensitives project their astral bodies unconsciously, when they go
into trance: but usually on coming out of trance there is no brain-memory of the
experiences acquired. Trained students are able to project the astral body
consciously and to travel to great distances from the physical body, bringing back
with them full and detailed memory of all the impressions they have gained.
An astral body thus projected may be seen by persons who are sensitive or who
may chance to be temporarily in an abnormal nervous condition. There are on
record many cases of such astral visitations by a dying person near the time of
death, the approach of dissolution having loosened the principles so as to make
the phenomenon possible for people who were unable at any other time to
perform the feat. (See also page 50 for a similar phenomenon produced by a
thought-form). The astral body is also set free in many cases of disease.
Inactivity of the physical body is a condition of such astral journeys.
A man may, if he knows how to set about it, slightly densify his astral body by
drawing into it, from the surrounding atmosphere, particles of physical matter,
and thus "materialise" sufficiently to become physically visible. This is the
explanation of many cases of "apparitions", where a person, physically absent,
has been seen by friends with their ordinary physical sight. [Page 107]

At death, the consciousness withdraws from the dense physical body into the
etheric double for a short time, usually a few hours, and then passes into the
astral body.
Death thus consists of a process of unrobing or unsheathing. The ego, the
immortal part of man, shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings,
first the dense physical: then the etheric double: then even the astral body, as we
shall see later.
In almost every case the actual passing-away appears to be perfectly painless,
even after a long illness involving terrible suffering. The peaceful look on the face
of the dead is strong evidence in favour of this statement, and it is also borne out
by the direct testimony of most of those who have been questioned on the point
immediately after death.
At the actual moment of death, even when death is sudden, a man sees the
whole of his past life marshaled before him, in its minutest detail. In a moment he
sees the whole chain of causes which been at work during his life; he sees and
now understands himself as he really is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception.
He reads his life, remaining as a spectator, looking down upon the arena he is
The condition of consciousness immediately after the moment of death is usually
a dreamy and peaceful one. There will also be a certain period of
unconsciousness, which may last only for a moment, though often it is a few
minutes, or several hours, and sometimes even days or weeks.
The natural attraction between the astral counterpart and the physical body is
such that, after death, [Page 108] the astral counterpart, from force of habit, retains
its accustomed form: consequently a man's physical appearance will still be
preserved after death almost unchanged. Almost - because in view of the fact
that astral matter is very readily moulded by thought, a man who habitually thinks
of himself after death as younger than he actually was at the time of death will
probably assume a somewhat younger appearance.
Very soon after death, in most cases, an important change takes place in the
structure of the astral body, owing to the action of the desire elemental.
Much of the matter of the astral body is composed of elemental essence (see
page 6): this essence is living, though not intelligent: and for the time it is cut off
from the general mass of astral essence. Blindly, instinctively, and without reason
it seeks its own ends and shows great ingenuity in obtaining its desires and in
furthering its evolution.
Evolution for it is a descent into matter, its aim being to become a mineral
monad. Its object in life, therefore, is to get as near to the physical as it can, and
to experience as many of the coarser vibrations as possible. It neither does or
could know anything of the man in whose astral body it is for the time living.
It desires to preserve its separate life, and feels that it can do so only by means
of its connection with the man: it is conscious of the man's lower mind, and
realises that the more mental matter it can entangle with itself the longer will be
its astral life.
On the death of the physical body, knowing that the term of its separated life is
limited, and that the man's astral death will more or less quickly follow,in order to
make the man's astral body last as long as possible, it rearranges its matter in
concentric rings or shells, the coarsest outside. From the point of view of the
desire elemental this is good policy, because the coarsest matter can hold
together longest and best stand friction.
The re-arranged astral body is called the Yâtanâ , or suffering body: in the case
of a very evil man in [Page 109] whose astral body there is a preponderance of the
coarsest matter, it is called the Dhruvam or strong body.
The re-arrangement of the astral body takes place over the surface of the
counterpart of the physical body, not over the surface of the ovoid which
surrounds it.
The effect is to prevent the free and full circulation of astral matter which usually
takes place in the astral body. In addition, the man is able to respond only to
those vibrations which are received by the outermost layer of his astral body. The
man is thus shut up, as it were, in a box of astral matter, being able to see and
hear things of the lowest and coarsest plane only.
Although living in the midst of high influences and beautiful thought-forms, he
would be almost entirely unconscious of their existence, because the particles of
his astral body which could respond to those vibrations ar shut in where they
cannot be reached.
Consequently, also, being able to sense only the coarsest matter in the astral
bodies of other people, and being entirely unconscious of his limitations, he
would assume that the person he was looking at possessed only the
unsatisfactory characteristics which he would be able to perceive.
Since he can see and feel only what is lowest and coarsest, the men around him
appear to be monsters of vice. Under these circumstances it is little wonder that
he considers the astral world a hell.
The re-arrangement of the astral body by the desire elemental does not in any
way affect the recognisability of the form within the ovoid, though the natural
changes which take place tend on the whole to make the form grow somewhat
fainter and more spiritual in appearance as time passes on - for reasons which
will presently be made clear.
In course of time, the outermost shell or ring disintegrates: the man then
becomes able to respond to the vibrations of the next higher level of the astral
plane, and thus "rises to the next sub-plane": and so [Page 110] on from one sub-
plane to another. His stay on each sub-plane will, of course, correspond to the
amount and activity of the matter in his astral body belonging to that sub-plane.
When we speak of a man "rising" from one sub-plane to another, he need not
necessarily move in space at all: he rather transfers his consciousness from one
level to another. In the case of a man with a rearranged astral body, the focus of
his consciousness shifts from the outer shell to the one next within it. The man
thus gradually becomes unresponsive to the vibrations of one order of matter and
answers instead to those of a higher order. Thus one world with its scenery and
its inhabitants would seem to fade slowly away from his view, while another world
would dawn upon him.
As the shell usually disintegrates gradually, the man thus finds the counterparts
of physical objects growing dimmer and dimmer, while thought-forms become
more and more vivid to him. If during this process he meets another man at
intervals, he will imagine that that man's character is steadily improving, merely
because he is himself become able to appreciate the higher vibrations of that
character. The re-arrangement of the astral body, in fact, constantly interferes
with a man's true and full vision of his friends at all stages of their astral life.
This process of re-arrangement of the astral body, which takes place with most
people, can be prevented by the man setting his will to oppose it: in fact, anyone
who understands the conditions of the astral plane should altogether decline to
permit the re-arrangement of the astral body by the desire-elemental. The
particles of the astral body will then be kept intermingled, as in life, and in
consequence, instead of being confined to one astral sub-plane at a time, the
man will be free of all the sub-planes, according to the constitution of his astral
The elemental, being afraid in its curious semi-conscious way, will endeavour to
transfer its fear to the [Page 111] man who is jolting him out of the re-arrangement,
in order to deter him from doing so. Hence one reason why it is so useful to have
knowledge of these matters before death.
If the re-arrangement, or shelling, has already occurred, it is still possible for the
condition to be broken up by someone who wishes to help the man, and for the
man to be thus set free to work on the whole astral plane, instead of being
confined to one level. [Page 112]

It cannot be too strongly insisted that it is not found that any sudden change
takes place in man at death: on the contrary, he remains after death exactly what
he was before, except that he no longer has a physical body. He has the same
intellect, the same disposition, the same virtues and vices; the loss of the
physical body no more makes him a different man than would the removal of an
overcoat. Moreover,the conditions in which he finds himself are those which his
own thoughts and desires have already created for him. There is no reward or
punishment from outside, but only the actual result of what he has himself done,
and said, and thought, while living in the physical world.
As we proceed with our description of the astral life after death, it will be
recognised that the true facts correspond with considerable accuracy with the
Catholic conception of purgatory, and the Hades or underworld of the Greeks.
The poetic idea of death as a universal leveller is a mere absurdity born of
ignorance, for, as a matter of fact, in the vast majority of cases, the loss of the
physical body makes no difference whatever in the character or intellect of the
person, and there are therefore as many different varieties of intelligence among
the so-called dead as among the living.
This is the first and the most prominent fact to appreciate: that after death there
is no strange new life, but a continuation, under certain changed conditions, of
the present physical plane life.
So much is this the case that when a man first arrives on the astral plane after
physical death he by no means always knows that he is dead: and even when
[Page 113] he does realise what has happened to him he does not always at first
understand how the astral world differs from the physical.
In some cases people consider the very fact that they are still conscious, an
absolute proof that they have not died: and this in spite of the much-vaunted
belief in the immortality of the soul.
If a man has never heard of astral plane life before, he is likely to be more or less
disturbed by the totally unexpected conditions in which he finds himself. Finally,
he accepts these conditions, which he does not understand, thinking them
necessary and inevitable.
Looking out upon the new worlds, at the first glance he would probably see very
little difference, and he would suppose himself to be looking upon the same world
as before. As we have seen, each degree of astral matter is attracted by the
corresponding degree of physical matter. If, therefore, we imagined the physical
world to be struck out of existence, without any other change being made, we
should still have a perfect replicate of it in astral matter. Consequently a man on
the astral plane would still see the walls, furniture, people, etc., to which he was
accustomed, outlined as clearly as ever by the densest type of astral matter. If,
however, he examined such objects closely he would perceive that all the
particles were visibly in rapid motion, instead of only invisibly as on the physical
plane. But, as few men observe closely, a man who dies often does not know at
first that any change has come over him. Thus many, especially in Western
countries, find it difficult to believe that they are dead, simply because they still
see, hear, feel and think. Realisation of what has happened will probably dawn
gradually, as the man discovers that though he can see his friends he cannot
always communicate with them. Sometimes he speaks to them, and they do not
seem to hear: he tries to touch them, and finds that he can make no impression
upon them. Even then, for some time he may persuade himself that he is
dreaming, for at other times, when his friends are [Page 114] asleep, they are
perfectly conscious of him and talk with him as of old.
By degrees the man begins to realise the differences between his present life
and that which he lived in the physical world. For example, he soon finds that for
him all pain and fatigue have passed away. He also finds that in the astral world
desires and thoughts express themselves in visible forms, though these are
composed mostly of the finer matter of the plane. As his life proceeds, these
become m ore and more prominent.
Moreover, though a man on the astral plane cannot usually see the physical
bodies of his friends, yet he can and does see the physical bodies of his friends,
and consequently knows their feelings and emotions. He will not necessarily be
able to follow in detail the events of their physical life: but he would at once be
aware of such feelings as love or hate, jealousy or envy, as these would be
expressed through the astral bodies of his friends.
Thus, although the living often suppose themselves to have "lost" the dead, the
dead are never for a moment under the impression that they have lost the living.
A man, in fact, living in his astral body after death is more readily and deeply
influenced by the feelings of his friends in the physical world than when he was
on earth, because he has no physical body to deaden his perceptions.
A man on the astral plane does not usually see the whole astral counterpart of an
object, but the portion of it which belongs to the particular sub-plane upon which
he is at the time.
Moreover, a man by no means always recognises with any certainty the astral
counterpart of a physical body even when he sees it. He usually requires
considerable experience before he can clearly identify objects, and any attempt
that he makes to deal with them is liable to be vague and uncertain. Examples of
this are often seen in haunted houses, where [Page 115] stone-throwing, or vague,
clumsy movements of physical matter take place.
Frequently, not realising that he is free from the necessity to work for a living, to
eat, sleep, etc., a man after death may continue to prepare and consume meals,
created entirely by his imagination, or even to build for himself a house in which
to live. A case is recorded of a man who built for himself a house, stone by stone,
each stone being separately created by his own thought. He might, of course,
with the same amount of effort have created the whole house at once. He was
eventually led to see, that as the stones had no weight, the conditions were
different from those obtaining in physical life, and so he was induced to
investigate further.
Similarly, a man new to the conditions of astral life may continue to enter and
depart from a room by a door or window, not realising that he can pass through
the wall just as easily. For the same reason he may walk upon the earth when he
might just as well float through the air.
A man who has already during earth life acquainted himself, by reading or
otherwise,with the general conditions of astral life, naturally finds himself after
death on ground more or less familiar, and consequently he should not be at a
loss to know what to do with himself.
Even an intelligent appreciation of occult teaching on this subject, as experience
has shown, is of enormous advantage to a man after death, while it is a
considerable advantage for a man merely to have heard of the conditions of
astral life, even though he may have regarded such teachings as one of many
hypotheses, and may not have followed them up further. In the case of others,
not so fortunately situated as to their knowledge of the astral world, their best
plan is to take stock of their position, endeavour to see the nature of the life
before them, and how they can make the best use of it. In addition, they would do
well to consult some experienced friend. [Page 116]
The condition of life referred to above constitute Kâmaloka, literally the place or
world of Kâma or desire: the Limbus of scholastic theology. In general terms
Kâmaloka is a region peopled by intelligent and semi-intelligent entities. It is
crowd ed with many types and forms of living things, as diverse from each other
as a blade of grass is different from a tiger, a tiger is different from a man, there
being of course, many other entities living there besides deceased human beings
(See Chapters 19 to 21). It interpenetrates the physical world, and is
interpenetrated by it, but, as the states of matter in the two worlds differ, they co-
exist without the entities of either world being conscious of those of the other.
Only under abnormal circumstances can consciousness of each other's presence
arise among the inhabitants of the two worlds.
Kâmaloka is thus not divided off as a distinct locality, but is separated off from
the rest of the astral plane by the conditions of consciousness of the entities who
belong to it, these entities being human beings, who have shaken off the dense
and etheric bodies, but who have not yet disentangled themselves from Kâma,
i.e., the passional and emotional nature. This state is also called Pretaloka, a
preta being a human being who has lost his physical body, but is still
encumbered with the vesture of his animal nature.
The Kâmalokic condition is found on each sub-division of the astral plane.
Many who die are at first in a condition of considerable uneasiness, and others of
positive terror. When they encounter the thought-forms which they and their kind
have for centuries been making - thoughts of a personal devil, an angry and cruel
deity, and eternal punishment - they are often reduced to a pitiable state of fear,
and may spend long periods of acute mental suffering before they can free
themselves from the fatal influence of such foolish and utterly false conceptions.
It ought, however, in fairness to be mentioned that [Page 117] it is only among
what are called Protestant communities that this terrible evil assumes its most
aggravated form. The great Roman Catholic Church, with its doctrine of
purgatory, approaches much more nearly to a true conception of the astral plane,
and its devout members, at any rate, realise that the state in which they find
themselves shortly after death is merely a temporary one, and it is their business
to endeavour to raise themselves out of it as soon as may be by intense spiritual
aspiration, while they accept any suffering which may come to them as
necessary for the wearing away of the imperfections in their character, before
they can pass to higher and brighter spheres.
Thus we see that although men should have been taught by their religion what to
expect, and how to live on the astral plane, in most cases this has not been
done. Consequently a good deal of explanation is needed regarding the new
world in which they find themselves. But, after death, exactly as before it, there
are few who attain to an intelligent appreciation of the fact of evolution and who,
by understanding something of their position, know how to make the best of it.
Today, large numbers of people, both "living" and "dead", are engaged in looking
after and helping those who have died in ignorance of the real nature of the after-
death life (vide Chapter 28 on Invisible Helpers). Unfortunately, however, on the
astral plane, as on the physical, the ignorant are rarely ready to profit by the
advice or example of the wise.
To a man who has, before he dies physically, already acquainted himself with the
real conditions of life on the astral plane, one of the most pleasant characteristics
of that life is its restfulness and complete freedom from those imperious
necessities, such as eating and drinking, which burden physical life. On the astral
plane a man is really free, free to do whatever he likes, and to spend his time as
he chooses.
As already indicated, a man who has died physically, is steadily withdrawing into
himself. The whole cycle [Page 118] of life and death may be likened to an ellipse,
of which only the lowest portion passes into the physical world. During the first
portion of the cycle, the ego is putting himself forth into matter: the central point
of the curve should be a middle point in physical life,when the force of the ego
has expended its outward rush and turns to begin the long process of withdrawal.
Thus each physical incarnation may be regarded as a putting of the ego, whose
habitat is the higher part of the mental plane, outwards into the lower planes. The
ego puts the soul out, as though it were an investment, and expects his
investment to draw back added experience, which will have developed new
qualities within him.
The portion of the life after death spent on the astral plane is therefore definitely
in the period of withdrawal back towards the ego. During the latter part of the
physical life the man's thoughts and interests should be less and less directed
towards merely physical matters: similarly, during the astral life, he should pay
less and less attention to the lower astral matter, out of which counterparts of
physical objects are composed, and occupy himself with the higher matter, out of
which desire - and thought-forms are made. It is not so much that he has
changed his location in space (though this is partially true, See Chapter 14), as
that he has moved the centre of his interest. Hence the counterpart of the
physical world which he has left gradually fades from his view, and his life
becomes more and more a life in the world of thought. His desires and emotions
still persist, and consequently, owing to the readiness with which astral matter
obeys his desires and thoughts, the forms surrounding him will be very largely
the expression of his own feelings, the nature of which mainly determines
whether his life is one of happiness or of discomfort.
Although we are not in this book dealing with that portion of the life after death
which is spent in the "heaven-world", i.e., on the mental plane, nevertheless, in
order to understand fully what is happening to the [Page 119] astral body on the
astral plane, it is desirable to bear in mind that the astral life is largely an
intermediate stage in the whole cycle of life and death, a preparation for the life
on the mental plane.
As we have seen, soon after physical death, the astral body is set free:
expressed from the point of view consciousness, Kâma-Manas is set free. From
this, that portion of lower-manas, which is not inextricably entangled with Kâma,
gradually frees itself, taking with it such of its experience as fit for assimilation by
the higher mental body.
Meanwhile, that portion of the lower manas which still remains entangled with
Kâma, gives to the astral body a somewhat confused consciousness, a broken
memory of the events of the life just closed. If the emotions and passions were
strong, and the mental element weak, then the astral body will be strongly
energised, and will persist for a considerable time on the astral plane, It will also
show a considerable amount of consciousness, due to the mental matter
entangled with it. If, on the other hand, the earth life just closed was
characterised by mentality and purity rather than by passion, the astral body will
be poorly poorly energised, will be but a pale simulacrum of the man, and will
disintegrate and perish comparatively rapidly. [Page 120]

In considering the conditions of a man's astral life, there are two prominent
factors to be taken into account: (1) The length of time which he spends on any
particular sub-plane: (2) The amount of his consciousness upon it.
The length of time depends upon the amount of matter belonging to that sub-
plane which he has built into his astral body during physical life. He will
necessarily remain upon that sub-plane until the matter corresponding to it has
dropped out of his astral body.
During physical life, as we have already seen, the quality of the astral body which
he builds for himself is directly determined by his passions, desires and
emotions, and indirectly by his thoughts, as well as by his physical habits - food,
drink, cleanliness, continence, etc.. A coarse and gross astral body, resulting
from a coarse and gross life, will cause the man to be responsive only to lower
astral vibrations, so that after death he will find himself bound to the astral plane
during the long and slow process of the disintegration of the astral body.
On the other hand, a refined astral body, created by a pure and refined life, will
make the man unresponsive to the low and coarse vibrations of the astral world,
and responsive only to its higher influences: consequently he will experience
much less trouble in his post-mortem life, and his evolution will proceed rapidly
and easily.
The amount of consciousness depends upon the degree to which he has vivified
and used the matter of the particular sub-plane in his physical life. [Page 121]
If during earth-life the animal nature was indulged and allowed to run riot, if the
intellectual and spiritual parts were neglected or stifled, then the astral or desire
body will persist for a long time after physical death.
If, on the other hand, desire has been conquered and bridled during earth life, if it
has been purified and trained into subservience to the higher nature, then there
will be little to energise the astral body, and will quickly disintegrate and dissolve
The average man, however, has by no means freed himself from all lower
desires before death, and consequently it takes a long period of more or less fully
conscious life on the various sub-planes of the astral plane to allow the forces
which he has generated to work themselves out, and thus release the higher
The general principle is that when the astral body has exhausted its attractions to
one level, the greater part of its grosser particles fall away, and it finds itself in
affinity with a somewhat higher state of existence. Its specific gravity, as it were,
is constantly decreasing, and so it steadily rises from the dense to the lighter
strata, pausing only when it is exactly balanced for a time.
To be upon any given sub-plane in the astral world is to have developed
sensitiveness of those particles in the astral body which belong to that sub-plane.
To have perfect vision on the astral plane means to have developed
sensitiveness in all particles of the astral body, so that all the sub-planes are
simultaneously visible.
A man who has led a good and pure life, whose strongest feelings and
aspirations have been unselfish and spiritual, will have no attractions to the astral
plane, and will, if entirely left alone, find little to keep him upon it, or to awaken
him into activity even during the comparatively short period of his stay. His
earthly passions have been subdued during physical life, and the force of his will
having been directed into higher channels, there is but little energy [Page 122] of
lower desire to be worked out on the astral plane. Consequently his stay there
will be very short, and most probably he will have little more than a dreamy half-
consciousness, until he sinks into the sleep during which his higher principles
finally free themselves from the astral body, and enter upon the blissful life of the
Expressed more technically, during physical life Manas has purified Kâma with
which it was inter-woven, so that after death all that is left of Kâma is a mere
residuum, easily shaken off by the withdrawing ego. Such a man therefore would
have little consciousness on the astral plane.
It is quite possible that a man might, as a result of is previous incarnations,
possess a good deal of coarse astral matter in his astral body. Even if he has
been so brought up, and has so conducted his life, that he has not vivified that
coarse matter, and although much of it may have dropped out and been replaced
by finer materials, yet there may be quite a good deal left. Consequently the man
would have to remain on a low level of the astral plane for some time, until in fact
the coarse matter had all dropped out. But, as the coarse matter would not be
vivified, he would have little consciousness and would practically sleep through
the period of his sojourn there.
There is a point known as the critical point between every pair of sub-states of
matter: ice may be raised to a point at which the least increment of heat will
change it into liquid: water may be raised to a point at which the least increment
of heat will change it into vapour. And so each sub-state of astral matter may be
carried to a point of fineness at which any additional refinement would transform
it into the next higher sub-state. If a man has done this for every sub-state of
matter in his astral body, so it is purified to the last possible degree of delicacy,
then the first touch of disintegrating force shatters its cohesion and resolves it
into its original condition, leaving him free at once to pass on to the next [Page
123] sub-plane. His passage through the astral plane will thus be of inconceivable
rapidity, and he will flash through the plane practically instantaneously to the
higher state of the heaven-world.
Every person after death has to pass through all the sub-planes of the astral
plane, on his way to the heaven-world. But whether or not he is conscious on any
or all of them, and to what extent, will depend upon the factors enumerated.
For these reasons, it is clear that the amount of consciousness a man may
possess on the astral plane, and the time he may spend there in his passage to
the heaven-world, may vary within very wide limits. There are some who pass
only a few hours or days on the astral plane: others remain there for many years,
or even centuries.
For an ordinary person 20 or 30 years on the astral plane after death is a fair
average. An exceptional case is that of Queen Elizabeth, who had so intense a
love for her country that she has only quite recently passed into the heaven-
world,having spent the time since her death in endeavouring, until recently
almost without success, to impress upon her successors her ideas of what ought
to be done for England.
Another notable example was that of Queen Victoria,who passed very rapidly
through the astral plane and into the heaven-world, her swift passage being
undoubtedly due to the millions of loving and grateful thought-forms which were
sent to her, as well as to her inherent goodness.
The general question of the interval between earth-lives is complicated. It is
possible here to touch briefly only on the astral portion of those intervals. For
further details the student is referred to The Inner Life, Volume 2, pages 458-474.
Three principal factors have to be taken into account:-
(1) The class of ego
(2) The mode of individualisation.
(3) The length and nature of the last earth-life. [Page 124]

The following table gives a general average of the length of the astral life, as
determined by the class of ego.


Individualised in Moon-Chain Average length of
Present type
Round No. Astral life.
Advanced egos
(many) of these are
taking continuous
5 years: an ego may
incarnations so that
even pass through
for them the
rapidly and
question of
intervals between
5 lives does not
General tendency is
Men distinguished towards a longer
in art, science or astral life, especially
religion in the case of artists
and religious men.
Country gentlemen
6 and professional 20- 25 years
7 Upper middle class 25 years
Class of Ego
Moon-Men: Second Order Bourgeoisie 40 years
Moon-Animal-Men Skilled workers 40, on middle level
Moon-Animal, First Class Unskilled labourers 40-50, on lower levels
Moon-Animals, Second Class Drunkards and 40-50, usually on 6th
unemployables level
Moon-Animals, Third Class Lowest of humanity 5, on 7th level.

A certain difference is produced by the mode of individualisation , but this

difference is much less in proportion in the lower classes. Those individualised
through intellect tend to take an interval between lives rather longer than that
taken by those who individualised in other ways. [Page 125]
Generally speaking, a man who dies young will have a shorter interval than one
who dies in old age, but is likely to have a proportionately longer astral life,
because most of the strong emotions which work themselves out in astral life are
generated in the earlier part of the physical life.
It must be recollected that in the astral world or ordinary methods of time-
measurement scarcely apply: even in physical life anxiety or pain will stretch a
few hours almost indefinitely, and on the astral plane this characteristic is
exaggerated a hundred-fold.
A man on the astral plane can measure time only by his sensations. For a
distortion of this fact has come the false idea of eternal damnation.
We have thus seen that both (1) the time spent, and (2) the amount of
consciousness experienced, on each level of the astral plane depend very largely
upon the kind of life the man has led in the physical world. Another factor of great
importance is the man's attitude of mind after physical death.
The astral life may be directed by the will, just as the physical life may be. A man
with little will-power or initiative is, in the astral as in the physical world, very
much the creature of the surroundings which he has made for himself. A
determined man, on the other hand, can always make the best of his conditions
and live his own life in spite of them.
A man, therefore, does not rid himself of evil tendencies in the astral world,
unless he definitely works to that end. Unless he makes definite efforts, he will
necessarily suffer from his inability to satisfy such cravings as can be gratified
only by means of a physical body. In process of time the desires will wear
themselves out and die down simply because of the impossibility of their
The process, however, may be greatly expedited as soon as the man realises the
necessity of ridding himself of the evil desires which detain him, and makes the
requisite effort. A man who is ignorant of the true state of affairs usually broods
over his desires, thus [Page 126] lengthening their life,and clings desperately to
the gross particles of astral matter as long as he can, because the sensations
connected with them seem nearest to the physical life for which he still craves.
The proper procedure for him, of course, is to kill out earthly desires and to
withdraw into himself as quickly as possible.
Even a merely intellectual knowledge of the conditions of astral life, and, in fact,
of Theosophical truths in general, is of inestimable value to a man in the after-
death life.
It is of the utmost importance that after physical death a man should recognise
quite clearly that he is withdrawing steadily towards the ego, and that
consequently he should disengage his thoughts as far as may be from things
physical and fix his attention upon spiritual matters which will occupy him when,
in due time he passes from the astral plane into the mental or heaven-world.
By adopting this attitude he will greatly facilitate the natural disintegration of the
astral body instead of unnecessarily and uselessly delaying himself upon the
lower levels of the astral plane.
Many people, unfortunately, refuse to turn their thoughts upwards, but cling to
earthly matters with desperate tenacity. As time passes on, they gradually, in the
normal course of evolution, lose touch with the lower worlds: but by fighting every
step of the way they cause themselves much unnecessary suffering and
seriously delay their upward progress.
In this ignorant opposition to the natural course of things the possession of a
physical corpse is of assistance to a man, the corpse serving as a kind of fulcrum
on the physical plane. The best remedy for this tendency is cremation, which
destroys the link with the physical plane.
A few typical examples of astral after-death life will best illustrate the nature and
rational of that life.
An ordinary colourless man, neither specially good nor specially bad, is of course
in no way changed by [Page 127] death, but remains colourless. Consequently, he
will have no special suffering and no special joy: in fact,he may find life
somewhat dull, because, having cultivated no particular interests during his
physical life, he has none in his astral life.
If during his physical life he had no ideas beyond gossip, sport, business or
dress, he will naturally, when these are no longer possible, be likely to find time
hang heavily on his hands.
A man, however, who has had strong desires of a low type, who has been, for
example, a drunkard or a sensualist, will be in far worse case. Not only will his
cravings and desires remain with him (it will be recollected that the centres of
sensation are situated, not in the physical body, but in Kâma, see page 24), but
they will be stronger than ever, because their full force is expressed in astral
matter, none of it being absorbed in setting in motion the heavy physical
Being in the lowest and most depraved condition of astral life, such a man seems
often to be still sufficiently near to the physical to be sensitive to certain odours,
though the titillation produced is only sufficient still further to excite his mad
desires and tantilise him to the verge of frenzy.
But, as he no longer possesses a physical body, through which alone his
cravings can be allayed, he has no possibility of gratifying his terrible thirst.
Hence the innumerable traditions of the fires of purgatory, found in nearly every
religion, which are no inapt symbols for the torturing conditions described. Such a
condition may last for quite a long time, since it passes away only by gradually
wearing itself out.
The rationale and automatic justice of the whole process is clear: the man has
created his conditions himself, by his own actions, and determined the exact
degree of their power and duration. Furthermore, it is the only way in which he
can get rid of his vices. For, if he were to be reincarnated immediately, he would
start his next life precisely as he finished the [Page 128] preceding one: i.e., a
slave to his passions and appetites: and the possibility of his ever becoming
master of himself would be immeasurably reduced. But, as things are, his
cravings having worn themselves out, he will be able to commence his next
incarnation without the burden of them: and his ego, having had so severe a
lesson, is likely to make every possible effort to restrain its lower vehicles from
again making a similar mistake.
A confirmed drunkard will sometimes be able to draw round himself a veil of
etheric matter, and thus partially materialise himself. He can then draw in the
odour of the alcohol, but he does not smell it in the same sense as we do. Hence
he is anxious to force others into the condition of drunkenness, so that he may be
able partially to enter their physical bodies and obsess them, through their bodies
being once more able to experience directly the tastes and other sensations for
which he craves.
Obsession may be permanent or temporary. As just mentioned, a dead
sensualist may seize upon any vehicle he can steal in order to gratify his coarse
desires. At other times a man may obsess someone as a calculated act of
revenge: a case is recorded where a man obsessed the daughter of his enemy.
Obsession can be best prevented or resisted by an exercise of will-power. When
it occurs it is almost always because the victim has in the first place voluntarily
yielded himself to the invading influence, and his first step therefore is to reverse
the act of submission. The mind should be set steadily against the obsession in
determined resistance, realising strongly that the human will is stronger than any
evil influence.
Such obsession is of course utterly unnatural and in the highest degree harmful
to both parties.
The effect of excessive tobacco-smoking on the astral body after death is
remarkable. The poison so fills the astral body that it stiffens under its influences
and is unable to work properly or to move freely. For the time, the man is as
though paralysed - [Page 129] able to speak, yet debarred from movement, and
almost entirely cut off from higher influences. When the poisoned part of his
astral body wears away, he emerges from this unpleasant predicament.
The astral body changes its particles, just as does the physical body, but there is
nothing to correspond to eating and digesting food. The astral particles which fall
away are replaced by others from the surrounding atmosphere. The purely
physical cravings of hunger and thirst no longer exist there: but the desire of the
glutton to gratify the sensation of taste, and the desire of the drunkard for the
feelings which follow the absorption of alcohol, being both astral, still persist: and,
as already stated, they may cause great suffering owing to the absence of the
physical body through which alone they could be satisfied.
Many myths and traditions exist, exemplifying the conditions described. One of
them is that of Tantalus, who suffered from raging thirst, yet was doomed to see
the water recede just as it was about to touch his lips. Another, typifying
ambition, is that of Sisyphus, condemned to roll a heavy rock up a mountain, only
see it roll down again. The rock represents ambitious plans which such a man
continues to form, only to realise that he has no physical body with which to carry
them out. Eventually he wears out his selfish ambition, realises that he need not
roll his rock, and lets it rest in peace at the bottom of the hill.
Another story was that of Tityus, a man who was tied to a rock, his liver being
gnawed by vultures, and growing against as fast as it was eaten. This
symbolised a man tortured by the gnawings of remorse for sins committed on
The worse that the ordinary man of the world usually provides for himself after
death is a useless and unutterably wearisome existence, void of all rational
interests - the natural sequel of a life wasted in self-indulgence, triviality and
gossip here on earth.
The only things for which he craves are no longer possible to him, for in the astral
world there is no [Page 130] business to be done, and, thought he may have as
much companionship as he wishes, society is now for him a very different matter,
because all the pretensions upon which it is usually based in this world are no
longer possible.
Man thus makes for himself both his own purgatory and his own heaven, and
these are not places but states of consciousness. Hell does not exist: it is only a
figment of the theological imagination .Neither purgatory nor heaven can ever be
eternal, for a finite cause cannot produce an infinite result.
Nevertheless, the conditions of the worst type of man after death are perhaps
best described by the word "hell", though they are not everlasting. Thus, for
example, it sometimes happens that a murdered is followed about by his victim,
never being able to escape from his haunting presence. The victim (unless
himself of a very base type) is wrapped in unconsciousness, and this very
unconsciousness seems to add a new horror to the mechanical pursuit.
The vivisectors also has his "hell", where he lives amid the crowding forms of his
mutilated victims - moaning, quivering, howling. These are vivified, not by the
animal souls, but by elemental life pulsing with hatred to the tormentor,
rehearsing his worst experiments with automatic regularity, conscious of all their
horror, and yet impelled to the self-torture by the habits set up during earth-life.
Such conditions are not produced arbitrarily, but are the inevitable results of
causes set in operation by each person. Nature's lessons are sharp, but in the
long run they are merciful, for they lead to the evolution of the soul, being strictly
corrective and salutary.
For most people the state after death is much happier than life upon earth. The
first feeling of which the dead man is usually conscious is one of the most
wonderful and delightful freedom; he has nothing to worry about, and no duties
rest upon him, except those which he chooses to impose upon himself.
Regarded from this point of view, it is clear that [Page 131] there is ample
justification for the assertion that people physically"alive", buried and cramped as
they are in physical bodies, are in the true sense far less "alive" than those
usually termed dead. The so-called dead are much more free and, being less
hampered by material condition as, ar able work far more effectively and to cover
a wider field of activity.
A man who, not having permitted the re-arrangement of his astral body, is free of
the entire astral world, does not find it inconveniently crowded, because the
astral world is much larger than the surface of the physical earth, while its
population is somewhat smaller, the average life of humanity in the astral world
(see page 124) being shorter than the average in the physical.
In addition to the dead, there are also, of course, on the astral plane about one-
third of the living, who have temporarily left the physical body during sleep.
Although the whole astral plane is open to any of its inhabitants who have not
permitted the re-arrangement of their astral bodies, yet the great majority remain
near the surface of the earth.
Passing to a higher type of man, we may consider one who has some interests of
a rational nature, e.g., music, literature, science, etc. The need to spend a large
proportion of each day in "earning a living" no longer existing, the man is free to
do precisely what he likes, so long as it capable of realisation without physical
matter. In the astral life it is possible not only to listen to the grandest music but
to hear far more of it than before, because there are in the astral world other and
fuller harmonies than the relatively dull physical ears can hear. For the artist, all
the loveliness of the higher astral world is open for his enjoyment. A man can
readily and rapidly move from place to place and see the wonders of Nature,
obviously far more easily than he could ever do on the physical plane. If he is a
historian or a scientist, the libraries and the laboratories of the world are at his
disposal: his comprehension of natural processes will [Page 132] be far fuller than
ever before, because he can now see the inner as well as the outer workings,
and many of the causes where previously he saw only the effects. In all these
cases his delight is greatly enhanced, because no fatigue is possible (see page
A philanthropist can pursue his beneficent work more vigorously than ever before
and under better conditions than in the physical world. There are thousands
whom he can help, and with greater certainty of conferring real benefit.
It is quite possible for any person upon the astral plane after death to set himself
to study, and to acquire entirely new ideas. Thus, people may learn of
Theosophy for the first time in the astral world. A case is on record even of a
person learning music there, though this is unusual.
In general, life on the astral plane is more active than on the physical plane,
astral matter being more highly vitalised than physical matter, and form being
more plastic. The possibilities on the astral plane, both of enjoyment and of
progress, are in every way much greater than those on the physical plane. But
the possibilities are of a higher class, and it needs a certain amount of
intelligence to take advantage of them. A man who has whilst on earth devoted
the whole of his thought and energy solely to material things, is little likely to be
able to adapt himself to more advanced conditions, as his semi-atrophied mind
will not be strong enough to grasp the wider possibilities of the grander life.
A man whose life and interests are of a higher type may be able to do more good
in a few years of astral existence than ever he could have done in the longest
physical life.
Astral pleasures being so much greater than those of the physical world, there is
danger of people being turned aside by them from the path of progress. But even
the delights of the astral life do not present a serious danger to those who have
realised a little of something higher. After death a man should try to [Page 133]
pass through the astral levels as speedily as possible, consistently with
usefulness, and not yield to their refined pleasures any more than to those of the
Any developed man is in every way quite as active during astral life after death
as during his physical life: he can unquestionably help or hinder his own progress
and that of others quite as much after death as before, and consequently he is all
the time generating karma of the greatest importance.
In fact, the consciousness of a man living entirely in the astral world is usually
much more definite than it has been during his sleep astral life, and he is
correspondingly better able to think and act with determination, so that his
opportunities of making good or bad karma are the greater.
It may be said in general that man can make karma wherever his consciousness
is developed, or wherever he can act or choose. Thus actions done on the astral
plane may bear karmic fruit in the next earth life.
On the lowest astral sub-plane a man, having other things to occupy his
attention, concerns himself little with what takes place in the physical world,
except when he haunts vile resorts.
On the next sub-plane, the sixth, are found men who, whilst alive, centred their
desires and thoughts chiefly in mere worldly affairs. Consequently, they still
hover about the persons and places with which they were most closely
associated while on earth, and may be conscious of many things in connection
with these. They never, however, see physical matter itself, but always the astral
counterpart of it.
Thus, for example, a theatre full of people has its astral counterpart, which is
visible to astral entities. They would not, however, be able to see, as we see
them, either the costumes or the expressions of the actors, and the emotions of
the players, being not real but simulated, would make no impression on the astral
plane. [Page 134]
Those on the sixth sub-plane, which is on the surface of the earth, find
themselves surrounded by the astral counterparts of physically existing
mountains, trees, lakes, etc..
On the next two sub-planes, the fifth and fourth, this consciousness of physical
affairs is also possible, though in rapidly diminishing degree.
On the next two sub-planes, the third and second, contact with the physical plane
could be obtained only by a special effort to communicate through a medium.
From the highest, the first sub-plane, even communication through a medium
would be very difficult.
Those loving on the higher sub-planes usually provide themselves with whatever
scenes they desire. Thus in one portion of the astral world men surround
themselves with landscapes of their own creation: others accept ready-made the
landscapes which have already been constructed by others. (A description of the
various levels or sub-planes will be given in Chapter 16).
In some cases men construct for themselves the weird scenes described in their
various religious scriptures, manufacturing clumsy attempts at jewels growing on
trees, seas of glass mingled with fire, creatures full of eyes within, and deities
with a hundred heads and arms.
In what the Spiritualists call the Summerland, people of the same race and the
same religion tend to keep together after death just as they do during life, so that
there is a kind of network of summerlands over the countries to which belong the
persons who have created them, communities being formed, differing as widely
from each other as do similar communities on earth. This is due not only to
natural affinity but also to the fact that barriers of language still exist on the astral
This principle applies, in fact, to the astral plane in general. Thus at spiritualist
séances in Ceylon,it was found that the communicating entities were Buddhists,
and that beyond the grave they had found their religious preconceptions
confirmed, exactly as had [Page 135] the members of various Christian sects in
Europe. Men find on the astral plane not only their own thought-forms, but those
made by others - these, in some cases, being the product of generations of
thought from thousands of people, all following along the same lines.
It is not uncommon for parents to endeavour to impress their wishes on their
children, e.g., with regard to some particular alliance on which their heart is set.
Such an influence is insidious, an ordinary man being likely to take the steady
pressure for his own sub-conscious desire.
In many cases the dead have constituted themselves guardian angels to the
living, mothers often protecting their sons, husbands their widows, and so on, for
many years.
In others cases a dead writer or musical composer may impress his ideas upon a
writer of composer in the physical world, so that many books credited to the living
are really the work of the dead. The person who actually executes the writing
may be conscious of the influence, or may be entirely unconscious of it.
One leading novelist has stated that his stories come to him he knows not
whence - that they are in reality written not by him, but through him. He
recognises the state of affairs: there are probably many others in the same case
who are quite unconscious of it.
A doctor who dies often continues after death to take an interest in his patients,
endeavouring to cure them from the other side, or to suggest to his successor
methods of treatment which, with his newly-acquired astral faculties, he sees
would be useful.
Whilst most ordinary "good" people, who die natural deaths, are unlikely to be
conscious of anything physical at all, as they sweep through all the lower stages
before awakening to astral consciousness, yet some, even of these, may be
drawn back into touch with the physical world by great anxiety about someone
left behind.
The grief of relatives and friends may also attract the attention of one who has
passed to the astral plane [Page 136] and tend to draw him down into touch with
earth life again. This downward tendency grows with use and the man is likely to
exert his will to keep in touch with the physical world. For a time his power of
seeing earthly things will increase; but presently it will diminish, and then he will
probably suffer mentally as he feels his power slipping from him.
In many cases people not only cause themselves an immense amount of wholly
unnecessary pain, but often also do serious injury to those for whom they mourn
with intense and uncontrolled grief.
During the whole period of the astral plane life, whether it be long or short, the
man is within the reach of earth influences. In the cases just mentioned the
passionate sorrow and desires of friends on earth would set up vibrations in the
astral body of the man who had died, and so reach and rouse his mind or lower
manas. Thus aroused from his dreamy state to vivid remembrance of earth life,
he may endeavour to communicate with his earth friends, possibly through a
medium. Such an awakening is often accompanied by acute suffering, and in any
even the natural process of the ego's withdrawal is delayed.
Occult teaching does not for a moment counsel forgetfulness of the dead: but it
does suggest that affectionate remembrance of the dead is a force which, if
properly directed towards helping his progress towards the heaven-world, and his
passage through the intermediate state, might be of real value to him, whereas
mourning is not only useless but harmful. It is with a true instinct that the Hindu
religion prescribes its Shrâddha ceremonies and the Catholic Church its prayers
for the dead.
Prayers, with their accompanying ceremonies, create elementals which strike
against the Kâmalokic entity's astral body, and hasten its disfiguration, thus
speeding him on towards the heaven-world.
When, for example, a Mass is offered with a definite intention of helping a dead
person, that person will undoubtedly benefit by the downpouring of force: [Page
137] the strong thought about him inevitably attracts his attention, and when he is
drawn to the church he takes part in the ceremony and enjoys a large share in its
results. Even if he be still unconscious, the priest's will and prayer directs the
stream of force towards the person concerned.
Even the earnest general prayer or wish for the good of the dead as a whole,
though likely to be vague and therefore less efficient than a more definite
thought, has yet in the aggregate produced an effect whose importance it would
be difficult to exaggerate. Europe little knows how much it owes to those great
religious orders who devote themselves night and day to ceaseless prayer for the
faithful departed. [Page 138]



[Page 138]There is practically no difference between the consciousness of a
psychic after death and that of an ordinary person, except that the psychic, being
probably more familiar with astral matter, will feel more at home in his new
environment. To be psychic means to possess a physical body in some ways
more sensitive than those of most people: consequently, when the physical body
is dropped, this inequality no longer exists.
A sudden death, such as from an accident, need not necessarily affect the astral
life in any way for the worse. At the same time, for most people, a more natural
death is preferable, because the slow wasting away of the aged or the ravages of
a long-continued illness are almost invariably accompanied by a considerable
loosening and breaking up of the astral particles, so that when the man recovers
consciousness upon the astral plane, he finds some, at any rate, of his principal
work there already done for him.
In most cases, when earth life is suddenly cut short by accident or suicide, the
link between kâma (desire) and prânâ (vitality) is not easily broken, and the astral
body is consequently strongly vivified.
The withdrawal of the principles from their physical encasement, owing to sudden
death of any kind, has been aptly compared to the tearing of the stone out of an
unripe fruit. A great deal of the grossest kind of astral matter still clings around
the personality, which is consequently held in the seventh or lowest astral sub-
The mental terror and disturbance which sometimes accompany accidental death
are, of course, a [Page 139] very unfavourable preparation for astral life. In certain
rare cases the agitation and terror may persist for some time after death.
The victims of capital punishment, apart from the injury done to them by suddenly
wrenching from the physical the astral body, throbbing with feelings of hatred,
passion, revenge, and so forth, constitute a peculiarly dangerous element in the
astral world. Unpleasant to society as a murderer in his physical body may be, he
is clearly far more dangerous when suddenly expelled from the body: and, whilst
society may protect itself from murderers in the physical body, it is at present
defenceless against murderers suddenly projected on to the astral plane in the
full flush of their passions.
Such men may well act as the instigators of other murders. It is well known that
murders of a particular kind are sometimes repeated over and over again in the
same community.
The position of the suicide is further complicated by the fact that his rash act has
enormously diminished the power of the higher ego to withdraw its lower portion
into itself, and therefore has exposed him to other and great dangers.
Nevertheless it must be remembered, as already said, that the guilt of suicide
differs considerably according to circumstances, from the morally blameless act
of Socrates through all degrees down to that of a wretch who commits suicide in
order to escape the physical results of his own crimes, and, of course, the
position after death varies accordingly.
The karmic consequences of suicide are usually momentous: they are certain to
affect the next life, and probably more lives than one. It is a crime against Nature
to interfere with the prescribed period appointed for living on the physical life. For
every man has an appointed life-term, determined by an intricate web of prior
causes - i.e..,by karma - and that term must run out its appointed sands, before
the dissolution of the personality. [Page 140]
The attitude of mind at the time of death determines the subsequent position of
the person. Thus, there is a profound difference between one who lays down his
life from altruistic motives and one who deliberately destroys his life from selfish
motives, such as fear, etc..
Pure and spiritually-minded men, who are the victims of accident, etc., sleep out
happily the term of their natural life. In other cases they remain conscious - often
entangled in the final scene of earth-life for a time, held in whatever region they
are related to by the outermost layer of their astral body. Their normal kâmalokic
life does not begin until the natural web of earth-life is out-spun, and they are
vividly conscious of both their astral and physical surroundings.
It must not for a moment, therefore, be supposed that because of the many
superiorities of astral over physical life, a man is therefore justified in committing
suicide or seeking death. Men are incarnated in physical bodies for a purpose
which can be attained only in the physical world. There are lessons to be learnt in
the physical world which cannot be learnt anywhere else, and the sooner we
learn them the sooner we shall be free from the need to return to the lower and
more limited life. The ego has to take much trouble in order to incarnate in a
physical body, and also to live through the wearisome period of early childhood,
during which he is gradually and with much effort gaining some control over his
new vehicles, and therefore his efforts should not be foolishly wasted. In this
respect the natural instinct of self-preservation is one which should be obeyed, it
being a man's duty to make the most of his earthly life and to retain it as long as
circumstances permit.
If a man, who has been killed suddenly, has led a low, brutal, selfish and sensual
life, he will be fully conscious on the seven astral sub-plane, and is liable to
develop into a terribly evil entity. Inflamed with appetites which he can no longer
satisfy, he may endeavour to gratify his passions through a medium or any
sensitive person who he can obsess. [Page 141] Such entities take a devilish
delight in using all the arts of astral delusion to lead others into the same
excesses in which they themselves indulged. From this class and from the
vitalised shells (see page 172) are drawn the tempters - the devils of
ecclesiastical literature.
The following is a strongly worded account of the victims of sudden death,
whether suicides or killed by accident, when such victims are depraved and
gross. “Unhappy shades, if sinful and sensual, they wander about... until their
death-hour comes. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions, which bind them to
familiar scenes, they are enticed by opportunities which mediums afford to gratify
them vicariously. They are the Pishâchas, the Incubi and Succubae of mediaeval
times: the demons of thirst, gluttony, lust and avarice: elementaries of intensified
craft, wickedness and cruelty: provoking their victims to horrid crimes, and
revelling in their commission!”
Soldiers killed in battle do not quite come under this category, because, whether
the cause for which they are fighting be in he abstract right or wrong, they think it
to be right: to them it is the call of duty, and they sacrifice their lives willingly and
unselfishly. In spite of its horrors, therefore, war may nevertheless be a potent
factor in evolution at a certain level. This, also, is the grain of truth in the idea of
the Mohammedan fanatic that the man who dies fighting for the faith goes
straight to a very good life in the next world.
In the case of children dying young, it is unlikely l that they will have developed
much affinity for the lowest sub-divisions of the astral world, and as a matter of
experience they are seldom found on the lowest astral sub-planes.
Some people cling so desperately to material existence that at death their astral
bodies cannot altogether separate from the etheric, and consequently they
awaken still surrounded by etheric matter. Such persons are in a very unpleasant
condition: they are shut out from the astral world by the etheric shell which
surrounds them, and at the same time they are [Page 142] also, of course, shut off
from ordinary physical life because they have no physical sense-organs.
The result is that they drift about, lonely, dumb and terrified, unable to
communicate with entities on either plane. They cannot realise that if they would
only let go their frenzied grasp on matter they would slip, after a few moments of
unconsciousness, into the ordinary life of the astral plane. But they cling to their
grey world, with their miserable half-consciousness, rather than sink into what
they think complete extinction, or even the hell in which they have been taught to
In process of time the etheric shell wears out, and the ordinary course of Nature
reasserts itself in spite of their struggles: sometimes in sheer desperation they
recklessly let themselves go, preferring even the idea of annihilation to their
present existence — with a result overwhelmingly and surprisingly pleasant.
In a few cases, another astral entity may be able to help them by persuading
them to let go their hold on what to them is life and sink out of it.
In other cases, they may be so unfortunate as to discover a means of reviving to
some extent their touch with physical life through a medium, though as a rule the
medium's “spirit-guide” very properly forbids them access.
The “guide” is right in his action, because such entities, in their terror and need,
become quite unscrupulous and would obsess and even madden a medium,
fighting as a drowning man fights for life. They could succeed only if the ego of
the medium had weakened his hold upon his vehicles by allowing the indulgence
of undesirable thoughts or passions.
Sometimes an entity may be able to seize upon a baby body, ousting the feeble
personality for whom it was intended, or sometimes even to obsess the body of
an animal, the fragment of the group-soul which, to an animal, stands in the
place of an ego, having a hold on the body less strong than that of an ego. This
obsession may be complete or partial. The obsessing [Page 143] entity thus once
more gets into touch with the physical plane, sees through the animal's eyes, and
feels any pain inflicted upon the animal — in fact, so far as his his own
consciousness is concerned, he is the animal for the time being.

A man who thus entangles himself with an animal cannot abandon the animal's
body at will, but only gradually and by considerable effort, extending probably
over many days. Usually he is set free only at the death of the animal, and even
then there remains an astral entanglement to shake off. After the death of the
animal such a soul sometimes endeavours to obsess another member of the
same herd, or indeed any other creature whom he can seize in his desperation.
The animals most commonly seized upon seem to be the less developed ones —
cattle, sheep and swine. More intelligent creatures, such as dogs, cats and
horses do not appear to be so easily dispossessed, though cases do
occasionally occur.

All obsessions, whether of a human or an annual / body, are an evil and a

hindrance to the obsessing soul, as they temporarily strengthen his hold upon the
material, and so delay his natural progress into the astral life, besides making
undesirable karrnic links.

In the case of a man who, by vicious appetite or otherwise, forms a very strong
link with any type of animal, his astral body shows animal characteristics, and
may resemble in appearance the animal whose qualities had been encouraged
during earth life. In extreme cases the man may be linked to the astral body of
the animal and thus be chained as a prisoner to the animal's physical body. The
man is conscious in the astral world, has his human faculties, but cannot control
the animal body nor express himself through that body on the physical plane.
The animal organism serves as a jailer, rather than as a vehicle: and, further, the
animal soul is not ejected, but remains as the proper tenant of its body.

Cases of this kind explain, at least partially, the belief often found in Oriental
countries, that a man [Page 144]
may under certain conditions reincarnate in an animal body.

A similar fate may befall a man as he returns to the astral plane on his way to re-
birth, and is described in Chapter 24 on Re-birth.

The class of person who is definitely held down to earth by anxiety is often
termed earth-bound: as St. Martin expressed it, such men are “remainers”, not
“returners”, being unable thoroughly to tear themselves away from physical
matter until some business is settled in which they have a special interest.
We have already seen that after physical death the real man is steadily
withdrawing himself from his outer bodies: and that, in particular, manas, or mind,
endeavours to disentangle itself from kâma, or desire. In certain rare cases, the
personality, or lower man, may be so strongly controlled by kâma that lower
manas is completely enslaved and cannot disentangle itself. The link between
the lower and the higher mental, the “ silver thread that binds it to the Master”,
snaps in two. This is spoken of in occultism as the “ loss of the soul”. It is the loss
of the personal self, which has separated from its parent, the higher ego, and has
thus doomed itself to perish.

In such a case, even during earth-life, the lower quaternary is wrenched away
from the Triad, i.e., the lower principles, headed by lower manas, are severed
from the higher principles, Atma, Buddhi and Higher Manas. The man is rent in
twain, the brute has broken itself free, and it goes forth unbridled, carrying with it
the reflections of that manasic light which should have been its guide through life.
Such a creature, owing to its possession of mind, is more dangerous even than
an unevolved animal: though human in form, it is brute in nature, without sense
of truth, love or justice.

After physical death, such an astral body is an entity of terrible potency, and is
unique in this, that under certain rare conditions it can reincarnate in the world of
men. With no instincts save those of the [Page 145] animal, driven only by
passion, never even by emotion, with a cunning that no brute can rival, a
wickedness that is deliberate, it touches ideal vileness, and is the natural foe of
all normal human beings. A being of this class — which is known as an
Elementary — sinks lower with each successive incarnation, until, as the evil
force gradually wears itself out, it perishes, being cut off from the source of life. It
disintegrates, and thus as a separate existence is lost.

From the point of view of the ego there has been no harvest of useful experience
from that personality: the “ray” has brought nothing back, the lower life has been
a total and complete failure.

The word Elementary has been employed by various writers in many different
senses, but it is recommended that it be confined to the entity described above.
[Page 146]



THIS chapter will be confined, so far as the complexities of the subject permit, to
a description of the nature, appearance, properties, etc., of the astral plane or
world. A later chapter will be devoted to an enumeration and description of the
entities which live in the astral world.

The intelligent student will recognise the extreme difficulty of giving in physical
language an adequate description of the astral world. The task has been
compared to that of an explorer of some unknown tropical forest being asked to
give a full account of the country through which he has passed. The difficulties of
describing the astral world are further complicated by two factors: (i) the difficulty
of correctly translating from the astral to the physical plane the recollection of
what has been seen: and (2) the inadequacy of physical plane language to
express much of what has to be reported.

One of the most prominent characteristics of the astral world is that it is full of
continually changing shapes: we find there not only thought-forms, composed of
elemental essence and animated by a thought, but also vast masses of
elemental essence from which continually shapes emerge and into which they
again disappear. The elemental essence exists in hundreds of varieties on every
sub-plane, as though the air were visible and were in constant undulating motion
with changing colours like mother-of-pearl. Currents of thought are continually
thrilling through this astral matter, strong thoughts persisting as entities for a long
time, weak ones clothing themselves in elemental essence and wavering out
again. [Page 147]

We have already seen that astral matter exists in seven orders of fineness,
corresponding to the seven physical grades of solid, liquid, gaseous, etc. Each of
these seven orders of matter is the basis of one of the seven levels, sub-
divisions, or sub-planes (as they are variously called) of the astral plane.

It has become customary to speak of these seven levels as being ranged one
above the other, the densest at the bottom and the finest at the top: and in many
diagrams they are actually drawn in this manner. There is a basis of truth in this
method of representation, but it is not the whole truth.

The matter of each sub-plane interpenetrates that of the sub-plane below it:
consequently, at the surface of the earth, all seven sub-planes exist together in
the same space. Nevertheless, it is also true that the higher astral sub-planes
extend further away from the physical earth than the lower sub-planes.

A very fair analogy of the relation between the astral sub-planes exists in the
physical world. To a considerable extent liquids interpenetrate solids, e.g., water
is found in soil, gases interpenetrate liquids (water usually contains considerable
volumes of air), and so on. Nevertheless it is substantially true that the bulk of the
liquid matter of the earth lies in seas, rivers, etc., above the solid earth. Similarly
the bulk of gaseous matter rests above the surface of the water, and reaches
much further out into space than either solid or liquid.

Similarly with astral matter. By far the densest aggregation of astral matter lies
within the limits of the physical sphere. In this connection it should be noted that
astral matter obeys the same general laws as physical matter, and gravitates
towards the centre of the earth.

The seventh or lowest astral sub-plane penetrates some distance into the interior
of the earth, so that the entities living on it may find themselves actually within
the crust of the earth.

The sixth sub-plane is partially coincident with the surface of the earth. [Page 148]

The third sub-plane, which the Spiritualists call the “Summerland”, extends many
miles up into the atmosphere.

The outer limit of the astral world extends nearly to the mean distance of the
moon's orbit, so that at perigee the astral planes of the earth and moon usually
touch one another, but not at apogee. (N.B.—The earth and moon are nearly
240,000 miles apart.) Hence the name the Greeks gave to the astral plane— the
sub-lunar world. It follows that at certain times of the month astral communication
with the moon is possible, but not at certain other times. A case, in fact, is
recorded where a man reached the moon, but had to wait till communication was
re-established by the approach of the satellite to its primary before he could

The seven sub-divisions fall naturally into three groups: (a) the seventh or lowest:
(b) the sixth, fifth and fourth: and (c) the third, second and first. The difference
between members of one group may be compared to that between two solids,
e.g., steel and sand, the difference between the groups may be compared to that
between a solid and a liquid.

Sub-plane 7 has the physical world as its background, though only a distorted
and partial view of it is visible, since all that is light and good and beautiful seems
invisible. Four thousand years ago the Scribe Ani described it in an Egyptian
papyrus thus: “ What manner of place is this unto which I have come ? It hath no
water, it hath no air; it is deep, unfathomable; it is black as the blackest night, and
men wander helplessly about therein; in it a man may not live in quietness of

For the unfortunate human being on that level it is indeed true that “all the earth
is full of darkness and cruel habitation”, but it is darkness which radiates from
within himself and causes his existence to be passed in a perpetual night of evil
and horror — a very real hell, though, like all other hells, entirely of man's own
[Page 149]

Most students find the investigation of this section an extremely unpleasant task,
for there appears to be a sense of density and gross materiality about it which is
indescribably loathsome to the liberated astral body, causing it the sense of
pushing its way through some black, viscous fluid, while the inhabitants and the
influences encountered there are also usually exceedingly undesirable.

The ordinary decent man would probably have little to detain him on the seventh
sub-plane, the only persons who would normally awake to consciousness on that
sub-plane being those whose desires are gross and brutal — drunkards,
sensualists, violent criminals, and the like.

Sub-planes 6, 5 and 4 have for their background the physical world with which
we are familiar. Life on No. 6 is like ordinary physical life, minus the physical
body and its necessities. Nos. 5 and 4 are less material and more withdrawn
from the lower world and its interests.

As in the case of the physical, the densest astral matter is far too dense for the
ordinary forms of astral life: but the astral world has other forms of its own which
are quite unknown to students of the surface.

On the fifth and fourth sub-planes, merely earthly associations appear to become
of less and less importance, and the people there tend more and more to mould
their surroundings into agreement with the more persistent of their thoughts.

Sub-planes 3, 2 and 1, though occupying the same space, give the impression of
being further removed from the physical world and correspondingly less material.
At these levels entities lose sight of the earth and its affairs: they are usually
deeply self-absorbed, and to a large extent create their own surroundings,
though these are sufficiently objective to be perceptible to other entities.

They are thus little awake to the realities of the plane, but live instead in
imaginary cities of their own, partly creating them entirely by their own thoughts,
[Page 150] and partly inheriting and adding to the structures created by their

Here are found the happy hunting-grounds of the Red Indian, the Valhalla of the
Norseman, the houri-filled paradise of the Muslim, the golden and jewelled-gated
New Jerusalem of the Christian, the lyceum-filled heaven of the materialistic
reformer. Here is also the “Summerland” of the Spiritualists, in which exist
houses, schools, cities, etc., which, real enough as they are for a time, to a
clearer sight are sometimes pitiably unlike what their delighted creators suppose
them to be. Nevertheless, many of the creations are of real though temporary
beauty, and a visitor who knew of nothing higher might wander contentedly
among the natural scenery provided, which at any rate is much superior to
anything in the physical world: or he might, of course, prefer to construct his
scenery to suit his own fancies.

The second sub-plane is especially the habitat of the selfish or unspiritual

religionist. Here he wears his golden crown and worships his own grossly
material representation of the particular deity of his country and time.

The first sub-plane is specially appropriated to those who during earth-life have
devoted themselves to materialistic but intellectual pursuits, following them not
for the sake of benefiting their fellow-men, but either from motives of selfish
ambition or simply for the sake of intellectual exercise. Such persons may remain
on this sub-plane for many years, happy in working out their intellectual
problems, but doing no good to any one, and making but little progress on their
way towards the heaven-world.

On this, the atomic sub-plane, men do not build themselves imaginary

conceptions, as they do at lower levels. Thinkers and men of science often utilise
for purposes of their study almost all the powers of the entire astral plane, for
they are able to descend almost to the physical along certain limited lines. Thus
they can swoop down upon the astral counterpart of a [Page 151] physical book
and extract from it the information they require. They readily touch the mind of an
author, impress their ideas upon him, and receive his in return. Sometimes they
seriously delay their departure for the heaven-world by the avidity with which they
prosecute lines of study and experiment on the astral plane.

Although we speak of astral matter as solid, it is never really, but only relatively
solid. One of the reasons why mediaeval alchemists symbolised astral matter by
water was because of its fluidity and penetrability. The particles in the densest
astral matter are further apart, relatively to their size, than even gaseous
particles. Hence it is easier for two of the densest astral bodies to pass through
each other than it would be for the lightest gas to diffuse itself in the air.

People on the astral plane can and do pass through one another constantly, and
through fixed astral objects. There can never be anything like what we mean by a
collision, and under ordinary circumstances two bodies which interpenetrate are
not even appreciably affected. If, however, the interpenetration lasts for some
time, as when two persons sit side by side in a church or theatre, a considerable
effect may be produced.

If a man thought of a mountain as an obstacle, he could not pass through it. To

learn that it is not an obstacle is precisely the object of one part of what is called
the “test of earth”.

An explosion on the astral plane might be temporarily as disastrous as an

explosion of gunpowder on the physical plane, but the astral fragments would
quickly collect themselves again. Thus there cannot be an accident on the astral
plane in our sense of the word, because the astral body, being fluidic, cannot be
destroyed or permanently injured, as the physical can.

A purely astral object could be moved by means of an astral hand, if one wished,
but not the astral counterpart of a physical object. In order to move an astral
[Page 152] counterpart it would be necessary to materialise a hand and move the
physical object, then the astral counterpart would, of course, accompany it. The
astral counterpart is there because the physical object is there, just as the scent
of a rose fills a room because the rose is there. One could no more move a
physical object by moving its astral counterpart than one could move the rose by
moving its perfume.

On the astral plane one never touches the surface of anything, so as to feel it
hard or soft, rough or smooth, hot or cold: but on coming into contact with the
interpenetrating substance one would be conscious of a different rate of
vibration, which might, of course, be pleasant or unpleasant, stimulating or

Thus if one is standing on the ground, part of one's astral body interpenetrates
the ground under one's feet: but the astral body would not be conscious of the
fact by anything corresponding to a sense of hardness or by any difference in the
power of movement.

On the astral plane one has not the sense of jumping over a precipice, but simply
of floating over it.

Although the light of all planes comes from the sun, yet the effect which it
produces on the astral plane is entirely different from that on the physical. In the
astral world there is a diffused luminosity, not obviously coming from any special
direction. All astral matter is in itself luminous, though an astral body is not like a
painted sphere, but rather a sphere of living fire. It is never dark in the astral
world. The passing of a physical cloud in front of the sun makes no difference
whatever to the astral plane, nor, of course, does the shadow of the earth which
we call night. As astral bodies are transparent, there are no shadows.

Atmospheric and climatic conditions make practically no difference to work on the

astral and mental planes. But being in a big city makes a great difference, on
account of the masses of thought-forms.

On the astral plane there are many currents which tend to carry about persons
who are lacking in will, [Page 153] and even those who have will but do not know
how to use it.

There is no such thing as sleep in the astral world.

It is possible to forget upon the astral plane just as it is on the physical. It is

perhaps even easier to forget on the astral plane than on the physical because
that world is so busy and so populous.

Knowledge of a person in the astral world does not necessarily mean knowledge
of him in the physical world.
The astral plane has often been called the realm of illusion — not that it is itself
any more illusory than the physical world, but because of the extreme unreliability
of the impressions brought back from it by the untrained seer. This can be
accounted for mainly by two remarkable characteristics of the astral world: (1)
many of its inhabitants have a marvellous power of changing their forms with
protean rapidity, and also of casting practically unlimited glamour over those with
whom they choose to sport: and (2) astral sight is very different from and much
more extended than physical vision.

Thus with astral vision an object is seen, as it were, from all sides at once, every
particle in the interior of a solid being as plainly open to the view as those on the
outside, and everything entirely free from the distortion of perspective.

If one looked at a watch astrally, one would see the face and all the wheels lying
separately, but nothing on the top of anything else. Looking at a closed book one
would see each page, not through all the other pages before or behind it, but
looking straight down upon it as though it were the only page to be seen.

It is easy to see that under such conditions even the most familiar objects may at
first be totally unrecognizable, and that an inexperienced visitor may well find
considerable difficulty in understanding what he really does see, and still more in
translating his vision into the very inadequate language of ordinary speech. Yet a
moment's consideration will show that astral [Page 154] vision approximates much
more closely to true perception than does physical sight, which is subject to the
distortions of perspective.

In addition to these possible sources of error, matters are still further complicated
by the fact that this astral sight cognizes forms of matter which, while still purely
physical, are nevertheless invisible under ordinary conditions. Such, for example,
are the particles composing the atmosphere, all the emanations which are
continuously being given out by everything that has life, and also the four grades
of etheric matter.

Further, astral vision discloses to view other and entirely different colours beyond
the limits of the ordinary visible spectrum, the ultra-red and ultraviolet rays known
to physical science being plainly visible to astral sight.

Thus, to take a concrete example, a rock, seen with astral sight, is no mere inert
mass of stone. With astral vision: (1) the whole of the physical matter is seen,
instead of a very small part of it: (2) the vibrations of the physical particles are
perceptible: (3) the astral counterpart, composed of various grades of astral
matter, all in constant motion, is visible: (4) the universal life (prâna) is seen to be
circulating through it and radiating from it: (5) an aura will be seen surrounding it:
(6) its appropriate elemental essence is seen permeating it, ever active but ever
fluctuating. In the case of the vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, the
complications are naturally much more numerous.

A good instance of the sort of mistake that is likely to occur on the astral plane is
the frequent reversal of any number which the seer has to record, so that he is
liable to render, say, 139 as 931, and so on. In the case of a student of occultism
trained by a capable Master, such a mistake would be impossible, except
through great hurry or carelessness, since such a pupil has to go through a long
and varied course of instruction in this art of seeing correctly. A trained seer in
time acquires a certainty and confidence in dealing with the [Page 155]
phenomena of the astral plane far exceeding anything possible in physical life.

It is quite a mistaken view to speak with scorn of the astral plane and to think it
unworthy of attention. It would, of course, certainly be disastrous for any student
to neglect his higher development, and to rest satisfied with the attainment of
astral consciousness. In some cases it is indeed possible to develop the higher
mental faculties first, to overleap the astral plane for the time, as it were. But this
is not the ordinary method adopted by the Masters of Wisdom with their pupils.
For most, progress by leaps and bounds is not practicable: it is necessary
therefore to proceed slowly, step by step.

In The Voice of the Silence three halls are spoken of. The first, that of ignorance,
is the physical plane: the second, the Hall of Learning, is the astral plane, and is
so called because the opening of the astral chakrams reveals so much more than
is visible on the physical plane that the man feels he is much nearer the reality of
the thing: nevertheless it is still but the place of probationary learning. Still more
real and definite knowledge is acquired in the Hall of Wisdom, which is the
mental plane.

An important part of the scenery of the astral plane consists of what are often,
though mistakenly, called the Records of the Astral Light. These records (which
are in truth a sort of materialisation of the Divine memory — a living photographic
representation of all that has ever happened) are really and permanently
impressed upon a very much higher level, and are only reflected in a more or
less spasmodic manner on the astral plane; so that one whose power of vision
does not rise above this will be likely to obtain only occasional and disconnected
pictures of the past instead of a coherent narrative. But nevertheless these
reflected pictures of all kinds of past events are constantly being reproduced in
the astral world, and form an important part of the surroundings of the
investigator there. [Page 156]

Communication on the astral plane is limited by the knowledge of the entity, just
as it is in the physical world. One who is able to use the mind-body can
communicate his thoughts to the human entities there more readily and rapidly
than on earth, by means of mental impressions:- but the ordinary inhabitants of
the astral plane are not usually able to exercise this power; they appear to be
restricted by limitations similar to those that prevail on earth, though perhaps less
rigid. Consequently (as previously mentioned) they are found associating, there
as here, in groups drawn together by common sympathies, beliefs, and
language. [Page 157]


THERE is reason to suppose that it may not be long before some applications of
one or two super-physical forces may come to be known to the world at large. A
common experience at spiritualistic séances is that of the employment of
practically resistless force in, for example, the instantaneous movement of
enormous weights, and so on. There are several ways in which such results may
be brought about. Hints may be given as to four of these.

(1) There are great etheric currents on the surface of the earth flowing from pole
to pole in volumes which make this power as irresistible as that of the rising tide,
and there are methods by which this stupendous force may be safely utilised,
though unskillful attempts to control it would be fraught with the greatest danger.

(2) There is an etheric pressure, somewhat corresponding to, though immensely

greater than, the atmospheric pressure. Practical occultism teaches how a given
body of ether can be isolated from the rest, so that the tremendous force of
etheric pressure can be brought into play.

(3) There is a vast store of potential energy which has become dormant in matter
during the involution of the subtle into the gross, and by changing the condition of
the matter some of this may be liberated and utilised, somewhat as latent energy
in the form of heat may be liberated by a change in the condition of visible

(4) Many results may be produced by what is known as sympathetic vibration. By

sounding the keynote of the class of matter it is desired to affect, [Page 158] an
immense number of sympathetic vibrations can be called forth. When this is done
on the physical plane, e.g., by sounding a note on a harp and inducing other
harps tuned in unison to respond sympathetically, no additional energy is
developed. But on the astral plane the matter is far less inert, so that when called
into action by sympathetic vibrations, it adds its own living force to the original
impulse, which may thus be multiplied many-fold. By further rhythmic repetition of
the original impulse, the vibrations may be so intensified that the result is out of
all apparent proportion to the cause. There seems scarcely any limit to the
conceivable achievements of this force in the hands of a great Adept who fully
comprehends its possibilities: for the very building of the Universe itself was but
the result of the vibrations set up by the Spoken Word.

The class of mantras or spells which produce their result not by controlling some
elemental, but merely by the repetition of certain sounds, also depend for their
efficacy upon this action of sympathetic vibration.

The phenomenon of disintegration also may be brought about by the action of

extremely rapid vibrations, which overcome the cohesion of the molecules of the
object operated upon. A still higher vibration of a somewhat different type will
separate these molecules into their constituent atoms. A body thus reduced to
the etheric condition can be moved from one place to another with very great
rapidity; and the moment the force which has been exerted is withdrawn it will be
forced by the etheric pressure to resume its original condition.

It is necessary to explain how the shape of an object is preserved, when it is

disintegrated and then re-materialised. If a metal key, for example, were raised to
the vaporous condition by heat, when the heat is withdrawn the metal will solidify,
but instead of being a key it will be merely a lump of metal. The reason of this is
that the elemental essence which informs the [Page 159] key would be dissipated
by the alteration in its condition: not that the elemental essence can be affected
by heat, but that when its temporary body is destroyed as a solid, the elemental
essence pours back into the great reservoir of such essence, much as the higher
principles of man, though entirely unaffected by heat or cold, are yet forced out of
a physical body when the latter is destroyed by fire.

Consequently, when the metal of the key cooled into the solid condition again,
the “ earth” elemental essence which poured back into it would not be the same
as that which it contained before, and there would therefore be no reason why
the key shape should be retained.

But a man who disintegrated a key in order to move it from one place to another,
would be careful to hold the elemental essence in exactly the same shape until
the transfer was completed, and then when his will-force was removed it would
act as a mould into which the solidifying particles would flow, or rather round
which they would be re-aggregated. Thus, unless the operator's power of
concentration failed, the shape would be accurately preserved.

Apports, or the bringing of objects almost instantaneously from great distances to

spiritualistic séances are sometimes produced in this way: for it is obvious that
when disintegrated they could be passed with perfect ease through any solid
substance, such as the wall of a house or the side of a locked box. The passage
of matter through matter is thus, when understood, as simple as the passage of
water through a sieve or of a gas through a liquid.

Materialisation or the change of an object from the etheric to the solid state, can
be produced by a reversal of the above process. In this case also a continued
effort of will is necessary to prevent the materialised matter from relapsing into
the etheric condition. The various kinds of materialisation will be described in
Chapter 28I on Invisible Helpers.
Electrical disturbances of any sort present [Page 160] difficulties in either
materialisation or disintegration, presumably for the same reason that bright light
renders them almost impossible — the destructive effect of strong vibration.

Reduplication is produced by forming a perfect mental image of the object to be

copied, and then gathering about that mould the necessary astral and physical
matter. The phenomenon requires considerable power of concentration to
perform, because every particle, interior as well as exterior, of the object to be
duplicated must be held accurately in view simultaneously. A person who is
unable to extract the matter required directly from the surrounding ether may
sometimes borrow it from the material of the original article, which would then be
correspondingly reduced in weight.

Precipitation of letters, etc., may be produced in several ways. An Adept might

place a sheet of paper before him, form a mental image of the writing he wished
to appear upon it, and draw from the ether the matter wherewith to objectivise the
image. Or he could with equal ease produce the same result upon a sheet of
paper lying before his correspondent, whatever might be the distance between

A third method, quicker and therefore more often adopted, is to impress the
whole substance of the letter on the mind of some pupil and leave him to do the
mechanical work of precipitation. The pupil would then imagine he saw the letter
written on the paper in his Master's hand, and objectivise the writing as just
described. If he found it difficult to draw the material from the ether and
precipitate the writing on the paper simultaneously, he might have ink or coloured
powder at hand on which he could draw more readily.

It is just as easy to imitate one man's hand-writing as another's, and it would be

impossible to detect by any ordinary means a forgery committed in this manner.
A pupil of a Master has an infallible test which he can apply, but for others the
proof of origin must lie solely in the contents of the letter and the spirit breathing
[Page 161] through it, as the hand-writing, however cleverly imitated, is valueless
as evidence.

A pupil new to the work would probably be able to imagine a few words at a time
only, but one with more experience could visualise a whole page or even an
entire letter at once. In this manner quite long letters are sometimes produced in
a few seconds at spiritualistic séances.

Pictures are precipitated in the same manner, except that here it is necessary to
visualise the entire scene at once: and if many colours are needed they have to
be manufactured, kept separate, and applied correctly. Evidently there is here
scope for artistic faculty, and those with experience as artists will be more
successful than those without such experience.
Slate-writing is sometimes produced by precipitation, though more frequently tiny
points of spirit hands are materialised just sufficiently to grasp the fragment of

Levitation, that is the floating of a human body in the air, is often performed at
séances by “spirit hands” which support the body of the medium. It may also be
achieved by the aid of the elementals of air and water. In the East, however,
always, and here occasionally, another method is employed. There is known to
occult science a method of neutralising or even reversing the force of gravity,
which is in fact of a magnetic nature, by means of which levitation may be easily
produced. Doubtless this method was used in raising some of the air-ships of
ancient India and Atlantis, and it is not improbable that a similar method was
employed in constructing the Pyramids and Stonehenge.

Levitation also happens to some ascetics in India, and some of the greatest of
Christian Saints have in deep meditation been thus raised from the ground — for
example, S. Teresa and S. Joseph of Cupertino.

Since light consists of ether vibrations, it is obvious that any one who
understands how to set up these vibrations can produce “spirit lights”, either the
[Page 162] mildly phosphorescent or the dazzling electrical variety, or those
dancing globules of light into which a certain class of fire elementals so readily
transform themselves.

The feat of handling fire without injury may be performed by covering the hand
with the thinnest layer of etheric substance, so manipulated as to be impervious
to heat. There are also other ways in which it may be done.

The production of fire is also within the resources of the astral plane, as well as
to counteract its effect. There seem to be at least three ways in which this could
be done: (1) to set up and maintain the requisite rate of vibration, when
combustion must ensue: (2) to introduce fourth-dimensionally a tiny fragment of
glowing matter and then blow upon it until it bursts into flame: (3) to introduce
chemical constituents which would produce combustion.

The transmutation of metals can be achieved by reducing a piece of metal to the

atomic condition and rearranging the atoms in another form.

Repercussion, which will be dealt with in the Chapter on Invisible Helpers, is also
due to the principle of sympathetic vibration, described above. [Page 163]


There are many characteristics of the astral world which agree with remarkable
exactitude with a world of four dimensions, as conceived by geometry and
mathematics. So close, in fact, is this agreement, that cases are known where a
purely intellectual study of the geometry of the fourth dimension has opened up
astral sight in the student.

The classic books on the subject are those of C. H. Hinton: Scientific Romances,
Vols. I and II: A New Era of Thought: The Fourth Dimension. These are strongly
recommended by C. W. Leadbeater, who states that the study of the fourth
dimension is the best method he knows to obtain a conception of the conditions
which prevail on the astral plane, and that C. H. Hinton's exposition of the fourth
dimension is the only one which gives any kind of explanation down here of the
constantly observed facts of astral vision.

Other, and later books are several by Claude Bragdon: The Beautiful Necessity:
A Primer of Higher Space: Fourth Dimensional Vistas; etc., Tertium Organum (a
most illuminating work) by P. D. Ouspensky, and no doubt many others.

For those who have made no study of this subject we may give here the very
barest outline of some of the main features underlying the fourth dimension.

A point, which has “position but no magnitude”, has no dimensions: a line,

created by the movement of a point, has one dimension, length: a surface,
created by the movement of a line, at right angles to itself, has two dimensions,
length and breadth: a solid, created by the movement of a surface at right angles
to itself, has three dimensions, length, breadth and thickness. [Page 164]
A tesseract is a hypothetical object, created by the movement of a solid, in a new
direction at right angles to itself, having four dimensions, length, breadth,
thickness and another, at right angles to these three, but incapable of being
represented in our world of three dimensions.

Many of the properties of a tesseract can be deduced, according to the following


properties of a tesseract Points Lines Surfaces Solids

A Point has 1
A Line has 2 1
A Four-sided surface has 4 4 1
A Cube has 8 12 6 1
A Tesseract has 16 32 24 8

The tesseract, as described by C. H. Hinton, is stated by C. W. Leadbeater to be

a reality, being quite a familiar figure on the astral plane. In Some Occult
Experiences by J. Van Manen, an attempt is made to represent a 4-dimensional
globe graphically.

There is a close and suggestive parallel between phenomena which could be

produced by means of a three-dimensional object in a hypothetical world of two
dimensions inhabited by a being conscious only of two dimensions, and many
astral phenomena as they appear to us living in the physical or three-dimensional
world. Thus:

(1) Objects, by being lifted through the third dimension, could be made to appear
in or disappear from the two-dimensional world at will.

(2) An object completely surrounded by a line could be lifted out of the enclosed
space through the third dimension.

(3) By bending a two-dimensional world, represented by a sheet of paper, two

distant points could be brought together, or even made to coincide, thus
destroying the two-dimensional conception of distance.

(4) A right-handed object could be turned over through the third dimension and
made to re-appear as a left-handed object.

(5) By looking down, from the third dimension, on to a two-dimensional object,

every point of the [Page 165]
latter could be seen at once, and free from the distortion of perspective.

To a being limited to a conception of two dimensions, the above would appear “

miraculous”, and completely incomprehensible.

It is curious that precisely similar tricks can be and are constantly being played
upon us, as is well known to spiritualists: (1) entities and objects appear and
disappear: (2) “ apports” of articles from great distances are made: (3) articles
are removed from closed boxes: (4) space appears to be practically annihilated;
(5) an object can be reversed, i.e., a right hand turned into a left hand: (6) all
parts of an object, e.g., of a cube, are seen simultaneously and free from all
distortion of perspective: similarly the whole of the matter of a closed book can
be seen at once.

The explanation of the welling-up of force, e.g., in Chakrams, apparently from

nowhere, is of course that it comes from the fourth dimension.

A liquid, poured on to a surface, tends to spread itself out in two dimensions,

becoming very thin in the third dimension. Similarly a gas tends to spread itself in
three dimensions, and it may be that in so doing it becomes smaller in the fourth
dimension: i.e., the density of a gas may be a measure of its relative thickness in
the fourth dimension.

It is clear that there is no need to stop at four dimensions: for all we know, there
may be infinite dimensions of space. At any rate, it seems certain that the astral
world is four-dimensional, the mental five-dimensional, and the buddhic six-

It should be clear that if there are, say, seven dimensions at all, there are seven
dimensions always and everywhere: i.e., there is no such thing as a third or
fourth-dimensional being. The apparent difference is due to the limited power of
perception of the entity concerned, not to any change in the objects perceived.
This idea is very well worked out in Tertium Organum by Ouspensky. [Page 166]

Nevertheless a man may develop astral consciousness and still be unable to

perceive or appreciate the fourth dimension. In fact it is certain that the average
man does not perceive the fourth dimension at all when he enters the astral
plane. He realises it only as a certain blurring, and most men go through their
astral lives without discovering the reality of the fourth dimension in the matter
surrounding them.

Entities, such as nature-spirits, which belong to the astral plane, have by nature
the faculty of seeing the four-dimensional aspect of all objects, but even they do
not see them perfectly, since they perceive only the astral matter in them and not
the physical, just as we perceive the physical and not the astral.

The passage of an object through another does not raise the question of the
fourth dimension, but may be brought about by disintegration — a purely three-
dimensional method.

Time is not in reality the fourth dimension at all: yet to regard the problem from
the point of view of time is some slight, help towards understanding it. The
passage of a cone through a sheet of paper would appear to an entity living on
the sheet of paper as a circle altering in size: the entity would of course be
incapable of perceiving all the stages of the circle as existing together as parts of
one cone. Similarly for us the growth of a solid object viewed from the buddhic
plane corresponds to the view of the cone as a whole, and thus throws some
light on our own delusion of past, present and future, and on the faculty of

The transcendental view of time is very well treated in C. H. Hinton's story Stella,
which is included in Scientific Romances, Vol. II. There are also two interesting
references to this conception in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, page 69, and Vol. II,
page 466.

It is an interesting and significant observation that geometry as we have it now is

but a fragment, an exoteric preparation for the esoteric reality. Having lost the
true sense of space, the first step towards that knowledge is the cognition of the
fourth dimension. [Page 167]

We may conceive the Monad at the beginning of its evolution to be able to move
and to see in infinite dimensions, one of these being cut off at each downward
step, until for the physical brain-consciousness only three are left. Thus by
involution into matter we are cut off from the knowledge of all but a minute part of
the worlds which surround us, and even what is left is but imperfectly seen.

With four-dimensional sight it may be observed that the planets which are
isolated in our three-dimensions are four-dimensionally joined, these globes
being in fact the points of petals which are part of one great flower: hence the
Hindu conception of the solar system as a lotus.

There is also, viâ a higher dimension, a direct connection between the heart of
the sun and the centre of the earth, so that elements appear in the earth without
passing through what we call the surface.

A study of the fourth dimension seems to lead the way direct to mysticism. Thus
C. H. Hinton constantly uses the phrase “casting out the self”, pointing out that in
order to appreciate a solid four-dimensionally it is necessary to regard it not from
any one point of view but from all points of view simultaneously: i.e., the “self ” or
particular, isolated point of view must be transcended and replaced by the
general and unselfish view.

One is also reminded of the famous saying of St. Paul (Ephesians iii, 17-18):
“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all
saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height.” [Page 168]



To enumerate and describe every kind of astral entity would be a task as
formidable as that of enumerating and describing every kind of physical entity. All
we can attempt here is to tabulate the chief classes and give a very brief
description of each.

Physically Non-Human Artificial
Physically Dead
1- Elementals
1- Ordinary 1- Ordinary 1-Elemental
Person Person Essence
2- Psychic 2-Shade 2-Astral Bodies 2-Elementals
of Animals formed
3-Adept or 3-Human
3-Shell 3-Nature-Spirits
his pupil Artificials
4- Black
Magician or 4-Vitalised Shell 4-Devas
his pupil
5-Suicide and
Victim of
Sudden Death
6-Vampire and
Magician or his
8-Pupil awaiting

[Page 169] In order to make the classification quite complete, it is necessary to

state that, in addition to the above, very high Adepts from other planets of the
solar system, and even more august Visitors from a still greater distance,
occasionally appear, but although it is possible, it is almost inconceivable, that
such Beings would ever manifest themselves on a plane as low as the astral. If
they wished to do so they would create a temporary body of astral matter of this

Secondly, there are also two other great evolutions evolving on this planet,
though it appears not to be intended that they or man should ordinarily be
conscious of each other. If we did come into contact with them it would probably
be physically, their connection with our astral plane being very slight. The only
possibility of their appearance depends upon an extremely improbable accident
in ceremonial magic, which only a few of the most advanced sorcerers know how
to perform: nevertheless this has actually happened at least once.

THE HUMAN CLASS, (a) Physically Alive.

1. The Ordinary Person. — This class consists of persons, whose physical

bodies are asleep, and who float about on the astral plane, in various degrees of
consciousness, as already fully described in Chapter 9 on Sleep Life.

2. The Psychic. — A psychically-developed person will usually be perfectly

conscious when out of the physical body, but, for want of proper training, he is
liable to be deceived as to what he sees. Often he may be able to range through
all the astral sub-planes, but sometimes he is especially attracted to some one
sub-plane, and rarely travels beyond its influences. His recollection of what he
has seen may of course vary from perfect clearness to utter distortion or black
oblivion. As he is assumed not to be under the guidance of a Master, he will
appear always in his astral body, since he does not know how to function in his
mental vehicle.

3- The Adept and His pupils. — This class usually [Page 170] employs, not the
astral body, but the mind body, which is composed of matter of the four lower
levels of the mental plane. The advantage of this vehicle is that it permits of
instant passage from the mental to the astral and back, and also allows of the
use at all times of the greater power and keener sense of its own plane.

The mind body not being visible to astral sight, the pupil who works in it learns to
gather round himself a temporary veil of astral matter, when he wishes to
become perceptible to astral entities. Such a vehicle, though an exact
reproduction of the man in appearance, contains none of the matter of his own
astral body, but corresponds to it in the same way as a materialisation
corresponds to a physical body.

At an earlier stage of his development, the pupil may be found functioning in his
astral body like any one else: but, whichever vehicle he is employing, a pupil
under a competent teacher is always fully conscious and can function easily
upon all the sub-planes.

4. The Black Magician and his pupils.—This class corresponds somewhat to that
of the Adept and His pupils, except that the development has been for evil
instead of good, the powers acquired being used for selfish instead of for
altruistic purposes. Among its lower ranks are negroes who practise the rites of
the Obeah and Voodoo schools, and the medicine-men of savage tribes. Higher
in intellect, and therefore more blameworthy, are the Tibetan black magicians.

THE HUMAN CLASS. (B) Physically Dead.

1. The Ordinary Person after Death.—This class, obviously a very large one,
consists of all grades of persons, in varying conditions of consciousness, as
already fully described in Chapters 12I to 15 on After-Death Life.

2. The Shade.—In Chapter 23 we shall see that when the astral life of a person is
over, he dies on the astral plane and leaves behind him his disintegrating astral
body, precisely as when he dies physically he leaves behind him a decaying
physical corpse. [Page 171]

In most cases the higher ego is unable to withdraw from his lower principles the
whole of his manasic {mental) principle: consequently, a portion of his lower
mental matter remains entangled with the astral corpse. The portion of mental
matter thus remaining behind consists of the grosser kinds of each sub-plane,
which the astral body has succeeded in wrenching from the mental body.

This astral corpse, known as a Shade, is an entity which is not in any sense the
real individual at all: nevertheless it bears his exact personal appearance,
possesses his memory, and all his little idiosyncrasies. It may therefore very
readily be mistaken for him, as indeed it frequently is at séances. It is not
conscious of any act of impersonation, for as far as its intellect goes it must
necessarily suppose itself to be the individual: it is in reality merely a soulless
bundle of all his lowest qualities.

The length of life of a shade varies according to the amount of the lower mental
matter which animates it: but as this is steadily fading out, its intellect is a
diminishing quantity, though it may possess a great deal of a certain sort of
animal cunning, and even quite towards the end of its career it is still able to
communicate by borrowing temporary intelligence from the medium. From its
very nature it is exceedingly liable to be swayed by all kinds of evil influences,
and, being separated from its higher ego, it has nothing in its constitution capable
of responding to good ones. It therefore lends itself readily to various minor
purposes of some of the baser sort of black magicians. The mental matter it
possesses gradually disintegrates and returns to the general matter of its own

3. The Shell.—A shell is a man's astral corpse in the later stages of its
disintegration, every particle of mind having left it. It is consequently without any
sort of consciousness or intelligence, and drifts passively about upon the astral
currents. Even yet it may be galvanised for a few moments into a ghastly
burlesque of life if it happens to come within reach of a medium's [Page 172] aura.
Under such circumstances it will still exactly resemble its departed personality in
appearance and may even reproduce to some extent his familiar expressions or

It has also the quality of being still blindly responsive to such vibrations, usually
of the lowest order, as were frequently set up in it during its last stage of
existence as a shade.

4. The Vitalised Shell.—This entity is not, strictly speaking, human: nevertheless,

it is classified here because its outer vesture, the passive, senseless shell, was
once an appanage of humanity. Such life, intelligence, desire, and will as it may
possess are those of the artificial elemental (see page 45) animating it, this
elemental being itself a creation of man's evil thought.

A vitalised shell is always malevolent: it is a true tempting demon, whose evil

influence is limited only by the extent of its power. Like the shade, it is frequently
used in Voodoo and Obeah forms of magic. It is referred to by some writers as
an “elementary”.
5. The Suicide and Victim of Sudden Death.—These have already been
described in Chapter 15 on After-Death Life. It may be noted that this class, as
well as Shades and Vitalised Shells, are what may be called minor vampires,
because when they have an opportunity they prolong their existence by draining
away the vitality from human beings whom they are able to influence.

6. The Vampire and Werewolf.—These two classes are today extremely rare;
examples are occasionally found, chiefly in countries where there is a
considerable strain of Fourth Race blood, such as Russia or Hungary.

It is just possible for a man to live such a degraded, selfish and brutal life that the
whole of the lower mind becomes immeshed in his desires and finally separates
from the higher ego. This is possible only where every gleam of unselfishness or
spirituality has been stifled, and where there is no redeeming feature whatever.

Such a lost entity very soon after death finds himself unable to stay in the astral
world, and is irresistibly [Page 173] drawn in full consciousness into “his own
place”, the mysterious eighth sphere, there slowly to disintegrate after
experiences best left undescribed. If, however, he perishes by suicide or sudden
death, he may under certain circumstances, especially if he knows something of
black magic, hold himself back from that fate by the ghastly existence of a

Since the eighth sphere cannot claim him until after the death of the body, he
preserves it in a kind of cataleptic trance by transfusing into it blood drawn from
other human beings by his semi-materialised astral body, thus postponing his
final destiny by the commission of wholesale murder. The most effective remedy
in such a case, as popular “superstition” rightly supposes, is to cremate the body,
thus depriving the entity of his point d'appui.

When the grave is opened, the body usually appears quite fresh and healthy, and
the coffin is not unusually filled with blood. Cremation obviously makes this sort
of vampirism impossible.

The Werewolf can first manifest only during a man's physical life, and it invariably
implies some knowledge of magical arts — sufficient at any rate to enable him to
project the astral body.

When a perfectly cruel and brutal man does this, under certain circumstances the
astral body may be seized upon by other astral entities and materialised, not into
the human form, but into that of some wild animal, usually the wolf. In that
condition it will range the surrounding country, killing other animals, and even
human beings, thus satisfying not only its own craving for blood, but also that of
the fiends who drive it on.

In this case, as so often with ordinary materialisations, a wound inflicted upon the
astral form will be reproduced upon the human physical body by the curious
phenomenon of repercussion (see page 242). But after the death of the physical
body, the astral body, which will probably continue to appear in the same form,
will be less vulnerable. [Page 174]

It will then, however, be also less dangerous, as unless it can find a suitable
medium, it will be unable to materialise fully. In such manifestations, there is
probably a great deal of the matter of the etheric double, and perhaps even some
of liquid and gaseous constituents of the physical body, as in the case of some
materialisations. In both cases this fluidic body seems able to pass to much
greater distances from the physical than is otherwise possible, so far as is
known, for a vehicle containing etheric matter.

The manifestations of both vampires and werewolves are usually restricted to the
immediate neighbourhood of their physical bodies.

7. The Black Magician and his Pupil.—This class corresponds, mutatis mutandis,
to the pupil awaiting reincarnation, but in this case the man is defying the natural
process of evolution by maintaining himself in astral life by magical arts—
sometimes of the most horrible nature.

It is considered undesirable to enumerate or describe the various sub-divisions of

this class, as an occult student wishes only to avoid them. All these entities, who
prolong their life thus on the astral plane beyond its natural limit, do so at the
expense of others and by the absorption of their life in some form or another.

8. The Pupil awaiting Reincarnation.—This is also at present a rare class. A pupil

who has decided not to “take his devachan”, i.e., not to pass into the heaven-
world, but to continue to work on the physical plane, is sometimes, by permission
only of a very high authority, allowed to do so, a suitable reincarnation being
arranged for him by his Master. Even when permission is granted, it is said that
the pupil must confine himself strictly to the astral plane while the matter is being
arranged, because if he touched the mental plane even for a moment he might
be swept as by an irresistible current into the line of normal evolution again and
so pass into the heaven-world.

Occasionally, though rarely, the pupil may be placed directly in an adult body
whose previous tenant [Page 175] has no further use for it: but it is seldom that a
suitable body is available.

Meanwhile the pupil is of course fully conscious on the astral plane and able to
go on with the work given to him by his Master, even more effectively than when
hampered by a physical body.

9. The Nirmânakaya.—It is very rarely indeed that a being so exalted as a

Nirmânakaya manifests himself on the astral plane. A Nirmânakaya is one who,
having won the right to untold ages of rest in bliss unspeakable, yet has chosen
to remain within touch of earth, suspended as it were between this world and
Nirvana, in order to generate streams of spiritual force which may be employed
for the helping of evolution. If He wished to appear on the astral plane he would
probably create for himself a temporary astral body from the atomic matter of the
plane. This is possible because a Nirmânakaya retains His causal body, and also
the permanent atoms which He has carried all through His evolution, so that at
any moment He can materialise round them mental, astral or physical bodies, if
He so desires. [Page 176]


I. Elemental Essence.—The word “elemental” has been used by various writers

to mean many different kinds of entities. It is here employed to denote, during
certain stages of its existence, monadic essence, which in its turn may be
denned as the outpouring of spirit or divine force into matter.

It is most important that the student should realise that the evolution of this
elemental essence is taking place on the downward curve of the arc, as it is often
called: i.e., it is progressing towards the complete entanglement in matter which
we see in the mineral kingdom, instead of away from it; consequently for it
progress means descent into matter instead of ascent towards higher planes.

Before the “outpouring” arrives at the stage of individualisation at which it ensouls

man, it has already passed through and ensouled six earlier phases of evolution,
viz., the first elemental kingdom (on the higher mental plane), the second
elemental kingdom (on the lower mental plane), the third elemental kingdom (on
the astral plane), the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. It has sometimes
been called the animal, vegetable or mineral monad, though this is distinctly
misleading, as long before it arrives at any of these kingdoms it has become not
one but many monads.

We are here dealing, of course, only with the astral elemental essence. This
essence consists of the divine outpouring which has already veiled itself in matter
down to the atomic level of the mental plane, and then plunged down directly into
the astral plane, aggregating round itself a body of atomic astral matter [Page 177]
Such a combination is the elemental essence of the astral plane, belonging to the
third elemental kingdom, the one immediately preceding the mineral.

In the course of its 2,401 differentiations on the astral plane, it draws to itself
many and various combinations of the matter of the various sub-planes.
Nevertheless these are only temporary, and it still remains essentially one
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an elemental in connection with the
group we are considering. What we find is a vast store of elemental essence,
wonderfully sensitive to the most fleeting human thought, responding with
inconceivable delicacy, in an infinitesimal fraction of a second, to a vibration set
up in it by an entirely unconscious exercise of human will or desire.

But the moment that by the influence of such thought or will it is moulded into a
living force, it becomes an elemental, and belongs to the “ artificial” class, to
which we shall come in our next chapter. Even then its separate existence is
usually evanescent, for as soon as its impulse has worked itself out, it sinks back
into the undifferentiated mass of elemental essence from which it came.

A visitor to the astral world will inevitably be impressed by the protean forms of
the ceaseless tide of elemental essence, ever swirling around him, menacing
often, yet always retiring before a determined effort of the will; and he will marvel
at the enormous army of entities temporarily called out of this ocean into
separate existence by the thoughts and feelings of man, whether good or evil.

Broadly, the elemental essence may be classified according to the kind of matter
it inhabits: i.e., solid, liquid, gaseous, etc. These are the “elementals” of the
mediaeval alchemists. They held, correctly, that an “elemental”, i.e., a portion of
the appropriate living elemental essence, inhered in each “element”, or
constituent part, of every physical substance.

Each of these seven main classes of elemental [Page 178] essence may also be
sub-divided into seven sub-divisions, making 49 sub-divisions.

In addition to, and quite separate from, these horizontal divisions, there are also
seven perfectly distinct types of elemental essence, the difference between them
having nothing to do with degree of materiality, but rather with character and
affinities. The student will be familiar with this classification as the “
perpendicular” one, having to do with the seven “rays”.

There are also seven sub-divisions in each ray-type, making 49 perpendicular

sub-divisions: The total number of kinds of elemental essence is thus 49x49 or

The perpendicular division is clearly far more permanent and fundamental than
the horizontal division: for the elemental essence in the slow course of evolution
passes through the various horizontal classes in succession, but remains in its
own perpendicular sub-division all the way through.

When any portion of the elemental essence remains for a few moments entirely
unaffected by any outside influence — a condition hardly ever realised — it has
no definite form of its own: but on the slightest disturbance it flashes into a
bewildering confusion of restless, ever-changing shapes, which form, rush about,
and disappear with the rapidity of the bubbles on the surface of boiling water.

These evanescent shapes, though generally those of living creatures of some

sort, human or otherwise, no more express the existence of separate entities in
the essence than do the equally changeful and multiform waves raised in a few
moments on a previously smooth lake by a sudden squall. They seem to be mere
reflections from the vast storehouse of the astral light, yet they have usually a
certain appropriateness to the character of the thought-stream which calls them
into existence, though nearly always with some grotesque distortion, some
terrifying or unpleasant aspect about them. [Page 179]

When the elemental essence is thrown into shapes appropriate to the stream of
half-conscious, involuntary thoughts which the majority of men allow to flow idly
through their brains, the intelligence which selects the appropriate shape is
clearly not derived from the mind of the thinker: neither can it derive from the
elemental essence itself, for this belongs to a kingdom further from
individualisation even than the mineral, entirely devoid of awakened mental

Nevertheless, the essence possesses a marvellous adaptability which often

seems to come very near to intelligence: it is no doubt this property that caused
elementals to be spoken of in early books as “the semi-intelligent creatures of the
astral light”.

The elemental kingdoms proper do not admit of such conceptions as good or

evil. Nevertheless there is a sort of bias or tendency permeating nearly all their
sub-divisions which renders them hostile rather than friendly towards man.
Hence the usual experience of the neophyte on the astral plane, where vast
hosts of protean spectres advance threateningly upon him, but always retire or
dissipate harmlessly when boldly faced. As stated by mediaeval writers, this bias
or tendency is due entirely to man's own fault, and is caused by his . indifference
to, and want of sympathy with, other living beings. In the “golden age” of the past
it was not so, any more than it will be so in the future when, owing to the changed
attitude of man, both the elemental essence and also the animal kingdom will
once again become docile and helpful to man instead of the reverse.

It is thus clear that the elemental kingdom as a whole is very much what the
collective thought of humanity makes it.

There are many uses to which the forces inherent. in the manifold varieties of the
elemental essence can be put by one trained in their management. The vast
majority of magical ceremonies depend almost entirely upon its manipulation,
either directly by the will of the magician, or by some more definite astral entity
evoked by him for the purpose. [Page 180]

By its means nearly all the physical phenomena of the séance room are
produced, and it is also the agent in most cases of stone-throwing or bell-ringing
in haunted houses, these latter being the results of blundering efforts to attract
attention made by some earth-bound human entity, or by the mere mischievous
pranks of some of the minor nature-spirits belonging to our third class (see p.
181). But the “elemental” must never be thought of as a prime mover: it is simply
a latent force, which needs an external power to set it in motion.

2. The Astral Bodies of Animals.—This is an extremely large class, yet it does not
occupy a particularly important position on the astral plane, since its members
usually stay there but a very short time. The vast majority of animals have not as
yet permanently individualised, and when one of them dies, the monadic essence
which has been manifesting through it flows back again into the group-soul
whence it came, bearing with it such advancement or experience as has been
attained during earth life. It is not, however, able to do this immediately; the astral
body of the animal rearranges itself just as in man's case, and the animal has a
real existence on the astral plane, the length of which, though never great, varies
according to the intelligence which it has developed. In most cases it does not
seem to be more than dreamily conscious, but appears perfectly happy.

The comparatively few domestic animals who have already attained individuality,
and will therefore be re-born no more as animals in this world, have a much
longer and more vivid life on the astral plane than their less advanced fellows.

Such an individualised animal usually remains near his earthly home and in close
touch with his especial friend and protector. This period will be followed by a still
happier period of what has been called dozing consciousness, which will last until
in some future world the human form is assumed. During all that time he is in a
condition analogous to that of a human [Page 181] being in the heaven-world,
though at a somewhat lower level.

One interesting sub-division of this class consists of the astral bodies of those
anthropoid apes mentioned in The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, p. 184) who are
already individualised, and will be ready to take human incarnation in the next
round, or perhaps some of them even sooner.

In “civilised” countries these animal astral bodies add much to the general feeling
of hostility on the astral plane, for the organised butchery of animals in slaughter-
houses and for “ sport ” sends millions into the astral world, full of horror, terror
and shrinking from man. Of late years these feelings have been much intensified
by the practice of vivisection.

3. Nature-Spirits of all Kinds.—This class is so large and so varied that it is

possible here to give only some idea of the characteristics common to all of

The nature-spirits belong to an evolution quite distinct from our own: they neither
have been nor ever will be members of a humanity such as ours. Their only
connection with us is that we temporarily occupy the same planet. They appear
to correspond to the animals of a higher evolution. They are divided into seven
great classes, inhabiting the same seven states of matter permeated by the
corresponding varieties of elemental essence. Thus, there are nature- spirits of
the earth, water, air, fire (or ether) — definite, intelligent astral entities residing
and functioning in each of those media.

Only the members of the air class normally reside in the astral world, but their
numbers are so prodigious that they are everywhere present in it.

In mediaeval literature earth-spirits are often called gnomes, water-spirits

undines, air-spirits sylphs, and ether-spirits salamanders. In popular language
they have been variously called fairies, pixies, elves, brownies, peris, djinns,
trolls, satyrs, fauns, kobolds, imps, goblins, good people, etc.

Their forms are many and various, but most [Page 182] frequently human in shape
and somewhat diminutive in size. Like almost all astral entities they are able to
assume any appearance at will, though they undoubtedly have favourite forms
which they wear when they have no special object in taking any other. Usually
they are invisible to physical sight, but they have the power of making
themselves visible by materialisation when they wish to be seen.

At the head of each of these classes is a great Being, the directing and guiding
intelligence of the whole department of nature which is administered and
energised by the class of entities under his control. These are known by the
Hindus as (1) Indra, lord of the Akâsha, or ether: (2) Agni, lord of fire: (3) Pavana,
lord of air: (4) Varuna, lord of water: (5) Kshiti, lord of earth.

The vast kingdom of nature-spirits, as stated above, is in the main an astral

kingdom, though a large section of it appertains to the etheric levels of the
physical plane.

There is an immense number of sub-divisions or races among them, individuals

varying in intelligence and disposition just as human beings do. Most of them
avoid man altogether: his habits and emanations are distasteful to them, and the
constant rush of astral currents set up by his restless, ill-regulated desires
disturbs and annoys them. Occasionally, however, they will make friends with
human beings and even help them.

The helpful attitude is rare: in most cases they exhibit either indifference or
dislike, or take an impish delight in deceiving and tricking men. Many instances of
this may be found in lonely mountainous districts and in the séance room.

They are greatly assisted in their tricks by the wonderful power of glamour they
possess, so that their victims see and hear only what these fairies impress upon
them, exactly as with mesmerised subjects. The nature-spirits, however, cannot
dominate the human will, except in the case of very weak-minded people, or of
those who allow terror to paralyse [Page 183] their will. They can deceive the
senses only, and they have been known to cast their glamour over a
considerable number of people at the same time. Some of the most wonderful
feats of Indian jugglers are performed by invoking their aid in producing collective

They seem usually to have little sense of responsibility, and the will is generally
less developed than in the average man. They can, therefore, readily be
dominated mesmerically and employed to carry out the will of the magician. They
may be utilised for many purposes, and will carry out tasks within their power
faithfully and surely.

They are also responsible, in certain mountainous regions, for throwing a

glamour over a belated traveller, so that he sees, for example, houses and
people where he knows none really exist. These delusions are frequently not
merely momentary, but may be maintained for quite a considerable time, the man
going through -quite a long series of imaginary but striking adventures and then
suddenly finding that all his brilliant surroundings have vanished, and that he is
left standing in a lonely valley or on a wind-swept plain.

In order to cultivate their acquaintance and friendship, a man must be free from
physical emanations which they detest, such as those of meat, alcohol, tobacco,
and general uncleanliness, as well as from lust, anger, envy, jealousy, avarice
and depression, i.e., he must be clean and unobjectionable both physically and
astrally. High and pure feelings which burn steadily and without wild surgings
create an atmosphere in which nature-spirits delight to bathe. Almost all nature-
spirits delight also in music: they may even enter a house in order to enjoy it,
bathing in the sound-waves, pulsating and swaying in harmony with them.

To nature-spirits must also be attributed a large portion of what are called

physical phenomena at spiritualistic séances: indeed, many a séance has been
[Page 184] given entirely by these mischievous creatures. They are capable of
answering questions, delivering pretended messages by raps or tilts, exhibiting
“spirit” lights, the apport of objects from a distance, the reading of thoughts in the
mind of any person present, the precipitation of writing or drawings, and even
materialisations. They could, of course, also employ their power of glamour to
supplement their other tricks.

They may not in the least mean to harm or deceive, but naively rejoice in their
success in playing their part, and in the awe-stricken devotion and affection
lavished upon them as “dear spirits” and “angel-helpers”. They share the delight
of the sitters and feel themselves to be doing a good work in thus comforting the
They will also sometimes masquerade in thought-forms that men have made,
and think it a great joke to flourish horns, to lash a forked tail, and to breathe out
flame as they rush about. Occasionally an impressionable child may be terrified
by such appearances, but in fairness to the nature-spirit it must be remembered
that he himself is incapable of fear and so does not understand the gravity of the
result, probably thinking that the child's terror is simulated and a part of the

None of the nature-spirits possess a permanent reincarnating individuality. It

seems, therefore, that in their evolution a much greater proportion of intelligence
is developed before individualisation takes place.

The life periods of the various classes vary greatly, some being quite short,
others much longer than our human lifetime. Their existence on the whole
appears to be simple, joyous, irresponsible, such as a party of happy children
might lead among exceptionally favourable physical surroundings.

There is no sex among nature-spirits, there is no disease, and there is no

struggle for existence. They have keen affections and can form close and lasting
friendships. Jealousy and anger are possible to them, but seem quickly to fade
away before the overwhelming [Page 185] delight in all the operations of nature
which is their most prominent characteristic.

Their bodies have no internal structure, so that they cannot be torn asunder or
injured, neither has heat or cold any effect upon them. They appear to be entirely
free from fear.

Though tricky and mischievous, they are rarely malicious, unless definitely
provoked. As a body they distrust man, and generally resent the appearance of a
newcomer on the astral plane, so that he usually meets them in an unpleasant or
terrifying form. If, however, he declines to be frightened by them they soon
accept him as a necessary evil and take no further notice of him, while some may
even become friendly.

One of their keenest delights is to play with and to entertain in a hundred different
ways children on the astral plane who are what we call “dead”.

Some of the less childlike and more dignified have sometimes been reverenced
as wood-gods or local village gods. These would appreciate the flattery paid
them, and would no doubt be willing to do any small service they could in return.

The Adept knows how to use the services of the nature-spirits, and frequently
entrusts them with pieces of work, but the ordinary magician can do .so only by
invocation, that is, by attracting their attention as a suppliant and making some
kind of a bargain with them, or by evocation, that is, by compelling their
obedience. Both methods are extremely undesirable: evocation is also
exceedingly dangerous, as the operator would arouse a hostility which might
prove fatal to him. No pupil of a Master would ever be permitted to attempt
anything of the kind.

The highest type of nature-spirits consists of the sylphs or the spirits of the air,
which have the astral body as their lowest vehicle. They have intelligence equal
to that of the average man. The normal method for them to attain to
individualisation is to associate with and love the members of the next stage
above them — the astral angels. [Page 186]

A nature-spirit who desires experience of human life may obsess a person living
in the physical world.

There have been times when a certain class of nature-spirits have physically
materialised themselves and so entered into undesirable relationships with men
and women. Perhaps from this fact have come the stories of fauns and satyrs,
though these sometimes also refer to quite a different sub-human evolution.

In passing, it is worth noting that although the kingdom of the nature-spirits is

radically dissimilar from the human — being without sex, fear, or the struggle for
existence — yet the eventual result of its unfoldment is in every respect equal to
that attained by humanity.

4. The Devas.—The beings called by the Hindus devas are elsewhere spoken of
as angels, sons of God, etc. They belong to an evolution distinct from that of
humanity, an evolution in which they may be regarded as a kingdom next above

In Oriental literature the word deva is also used vaguely to mean any kind of non-
hun\an entity. It is used here in the restricted sense stated above.

5. They will never be human, because most of them are already beyond that
stage, but there are some of them who have been human beings in the past.

The bodies of devas are more fluidic than those of men, the texture of the aura
being, so to speak, looser; they are capable of far greater expansion and
contraction, and have a certain fiery quality which is clearly distinguishable from
that of an ordinary human being. The form inside the aura of a deva, which is
nearly always a human form, is much less defined than in a man: the deva lives
more in the circumference, more all over his aura than a man does. Devas
usually appear as human beings of gigantic size. They have a colour language,
which is probably not as definite as our speech, though in certain ways it may
express more.

Devas are often near at hand and willing to expound and exemplify subjects
along their own line to any human being sufficiently developed to appreciate
them.[Page 187]

Though connected with the earth, the devas evolve through a grand system of
seven chains, the whole of our seven worlds being as one world to them. Very
few of our humanity have reached the level at which it is possible to join the deva
evolution. Most of the recruits of the deva kingdom have been derived from other
humanities in the solar system, some lower and some higher than ours.

The object of the deva evolution is to raise their foremost rank to a much higher
level than that intended for humanity in the corresponding period.

The three lower great divisions of the devas are: (1) Kâmadevas, whose lowest
body is the astral:
(2) Rûpadevas, whose lowest body is the lower mental: (3) Arûpadevas, whose
lowest body is the higher mental or causal.

For Rûpadevas and Arûpadevas to manifest on the astral plane is at least as rare
as for an astral entity to materialise on the physical plane.

Above these classes are four other great divisions, and above and beyond the
deva kingdom are the great hosts of the Planetary Spirits.

We are concerned here principally with the Kâmadevas. The general average
among them is much higher than among us, for all that is definitely evil has long
ago been eliminated from them. They differ widely in disposition, and a really
spiritual man may well stand higher in evolution than some of them.

Their attention can be attracted by certain magical evocations, but the only
human will which can dominate theirs is that of a certain high class of Adepts.

As a rule they seem scarcely conscious of our physical world, though

occasionally one of them may render assistance, much as any of us would help
an animal in trouble. They understand, however, that at the present stage, any
interference with human affairs is likely to do far more harm than good.

It is desirable to mention here the four Devarâjas, though they do not strictly
belong to any of our classes.
These four have passed through an evolution which [Page 188] is certainly not
anything corresponding to our humanity.

They are spoken of as the Regents of the Earth, the Angels of the four Cardinal
Points, or the Chatur Mahârâjas. They rule, not over devas, but over the four “
elements” of earth, water, air and fire, with their indwelling nature-spirits and
essences. Other items of information concerning them are for convenience
tabulated below:—
Appropriate Point of Elemental Symbolical
Compass Hosts Colour
Dhritarâshtra East Gandharvas White
Virûdhaka South Kumbhandas Blue
Virûpaksha West Nagas Red
Vaishrâvana North Yakshas Gold

The Secret Doctrine mentions them as “winged globes and fiery wheels”, and in
the Christian Bible Ezekiel attempts to describe them in very similar words.
References to them are made in the symbology of every religion, and they are
always held in the highest reverence as the protectors of mankind.

They are the agents of man's Karma during his earth life, and they thus play an
extremely important part in human destiny. The great Karmic deities of the
Kosmos, the Lipika, weigh the deeds of each personality when the final
separation of the principles takes place at the end of its astral life, and give as it
were the mould of an etheric double exactly suitable to its Karma for the man's
next birth. But it is the Devarâjas, who, having command of the “elements” of
which that etheric double must be composed, arrange their proportion so as to
fulfil accurately the intention of the Lipika.

All through life they constantly counterbalance the changes introduced into man's
condition by his own [Page 189] free will and that of those around him, so that
Karma may be accurately and justly worked out. A learned dissertation on these
beings will be found in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, pp. 122-126. They are able to
take human material forms at will, and cases are recorded where they have done

All the higher nature-spirits and hosts of artificial elementals act as their agents in
their stupendous work: but all the threads are in their own hands and they
assume the whole responsibility. They seldom manifest on the astral plane, but
when they do they are certainly the most remarkable of its non-human

There must really be seven, not four, Devarâjas, but outside the circle of Initiation
little is known and less may be said concerning the higher three. [Page 190]



THE artificial entities form the largest class and are also much the most important
to man. They consist of an enormous inchoate mass of semi-intelligent entities,
differing among themselves as human thoughts differ, and practically incapable
of detailed classification and arrangement. Being entirely man's own creation,
they are related to him by close karmic bonds, and their action upon him is direct
and incessant.

1. Elementals formed Unconsciously. — The way in which these desire - and

thought-forms are called into being has already been described in Chapter 7. The
desire and thought of a man seize upon the plastic elemental essence and mould
it instantly into a living being of appropriate form. The form is in no way under the
control of its creator, but lives out a life of its own, the length of which is
proportional to the intensity of the thought which created it, and which may be
anything from a few minutes to many days. For further particulars the student is
referred back to Chapter 7.

2. Elementals formed Consciously.—It is clear that elementals formed,

consciously, by those who are acting deliberately and know precisely what they
are doing, may be enormously more powerful than those formed unconsciously.
Occultists of both white and dark schools frequently use artificial elementals in
their work, and few tasks are beyond the powers of such creatures when
scientifically prepared and directed with knowledge and skill. One who knows
how to do so can maintain a connection with his elemental and guide it, so that it
will act practically as though endowed with the full intelligence of its master. [Page

It is unnecessary to repeat here descriptions of this class of elemental, which

have already been given in Chapter 7.

3. Human Artificials.—This is a very peculiar class, containing but few individuals,

but possessing an importance quite out of proportion to its numbers, owing to its
intimate connection with the spiritualistic movement.

In order to explain its genesis it is necessary to go back to ancient Atlantis.

Among the lodges for occult study, preliminary to Initiation, formed by Adepts of
the Good Law, there is one which still observes the same old-world ritual, and
teaches the same Atlantean tongue as a sacred and hidden language, as in the
days of Atlantis.

The teachers in this lodge do not stand at the Adept level, and the lodge is not
directly a part of the Brotherhood of the Himalayas, though there are some of the
Himâlayan Adepts who were connected with it in former incarnations.

About the middle of the nineteenth century, the chiefs of this lodge, in despair at
the rampant materialism of Europe and America, determined to combat it by
novel methods, and to offer opportunities by which any reasonable man could
acquire proof of a life apart from the physical body.
The movement thus set on foot grew into the vast fabric of modern spiritualism,
numbering its adherents by millions. Whatever other results may have followed, it
is unquestionable that by means of spiritualism vast numbers of people have
acquired a belief in at any rate some kind of future life. This is a magnificent
achievement, though some think that it has been attained at too great a cost.

The method adopted was to take some ordinary person after death, arouse him
thoroughly upon the astral plane, instruct him to a certain extent in the powers
and possibilities belonging to it, and then put him in charge of a spiritualistic
circle. He in his turn “developed” other departed personalities along [Page 192] the
same lines, they all acted upon those who sat at their séances, and “developed”
them as mediums. The leaders of the movement no doubt occasionally
manifested themselves in astral form at the circles, but in most cases they merely
directed and guided as they considered necessary. There is little doubt that the
movement increased so much that it soon got quite beyond their control; for
many of the later developments, therefore, they can be held only indirectly

The intensification of the astral life of the “controls” who were put in charge of
circles distinctly delayed their natural progress, and although it was thought that
full compensation for such loss would result from the good karma of leading
others to truth, it was soon found that it was impossible to make use of a “spirit-
guide” for any length of time without doing him serious and permanent injury.

In some cases such “guides” were withdrawn, and others substituted for them. In
others, however, it was considered undesirable to make such a change, and then
a remarkable expedient was adopted which gave rise to the curious class of
creatures we have called “human artificials”.

The higher principles of the original “guide” were allowed to pass on to their long-
delayed evolution into the heaven-world, but the shade (see p. 170) which he left
behind was taken possession of, sustained, and operated upon so that it might
appear to the circle practically just as before.

At first this seems to have been done by members of the lodge, but eventually it
was decided that the departed person who would have been appointed to
succeed the late “spirit-guide” should still do so, but should take possession of
the latter's shade or shell, and, in fact, simply wear his appearance. This is what
is termed a “human artificial” entity.

In some cases more than one change seems to have been made without
arousing suspicion, but, on the other hand, some investigators of spiritualism
have [Page 193] observed that after a considerable time differences suddenly
appeared in the manner and disposition of a “spirit”.

None of the members of the Himâlayan Brotherhood have ever undertaken the
formation of an artificial entity of this sort, though they could not interfere with any
one who thought it right to take such a course.

Apart from the deception involved, a weak point in the arrangement is that others
besides the original lodge may adopt the plan, and there is nothing to prevent
black magicians from supplying communicating spirits, as, indeed, they have
been known to do. [Page 194]


THE term “spiritualism” is used nowadays to denote communication of many
different kinds with the astral world by means of a medium.

The origin and history of the spiritualistic movement have already been described
in Chapter 21.

The etheric mechanism which makes spiritualistic phenomena possible has been
fully described in The Etheric Double, to which work the student is referred.

There remains now for us to consider the value, if any, of this method of
communicating with the unseen world, and the nature of the sources from which
the communications may come.

In the early days of the Theosophical Society, H. P. Blavatsky wrote with

considerable vehemence on the subject of spiritualism, and laid great stress on
the uncertainty of the whole thing, and the preponderance of personations over
real appearances. There seems little doubt that these views have largely
coloured and determined the unfavourable attitude which most members of the
Theosophical Society take towards spiritualism as a whole.

C.W. Leadbeater, on the other hand, affirms that his own personal experience
has been more favourable. He spent some years experimenting with spiritualism,
and believes that he has himself repeatedly seen practically all the phenomena
which may be read about in the literature of the subject.

In his experience, he found that a distinct majority of the apparitions were

genuine. The messages they give are often uninteresting, and their religious
teaching he describes as being usually “Christianity and water” : nevertheless, as
far as [Page 195] it goes, it is liberal, and in advance of the bigoted orthodox

C.W. Leadbeater points out that Spiritualists and Theosophists have much
important ground in common, e.g., (1) that life after death is an actual, vivid,
ever-present certainty; and (2) that eternal progress and ultimate happiness, for
every one, good and bad alike, is also a certainty. These two items are of such
tremendous and paramount importance, constituting as they do so enormous an
advance from the ordinary orthodox position, that it seems somewhat regrettable
that Spiritualists and Theosophists cannot join hands on these broad issues and
agree, for the present, to differ upon minor points, until at least the world at large
is converted to that much of the truth. In this work there is ample room for the two
bodies of seekers after truth.

Those who wish to see phenomena, and those who cannot believe anything
without ocular demonstration, will naturally gravitate towards spiritualism. On the
other hand, those who want more philosophy than spiritualism usually provides,
will naturally turn to Theosophy. Both movements thus cater for the liberal and
open-minded, but for quite different types of them. Meanwhile, harmony and
agreement between the two movements seems desirable, in view of the great
ends at stake.

It must be said to the credit of spiritualism that it has achieved its purpose to the
extent of converting vast numbers of people from a belief in nothing in particular
to a firm faith in at any rate some kind of future life. This, as we said in the last
chapter, is undoubtedly a magnificent result, though there are those who think
that it has been attained at too great a cost.

There is undoubtedly danger in spiritualism for emotional, nervous and easily

influenced natures, and it is advisable not to carry the investigations too far, for
reasons which by now must be apparent to the student. But there is no readier
way of breaking [Page 196] down the unbelief in anything outside the physical
plane than trying a few experiments, and it is perhaps worth while to run some
risk in order to effect this.

C.W. Leadbeater fearlessly asserts that, in spite of the fraud and deception which
undoubtedly have occurred in some instances, there are great truths behind
spiritualism which may be discovered by anyone willing to devote the necessary
time and patience to their investigation. There is, of course, a vast and growing
literature on the subject.

Furthermore, good work, similar to that done by Invisible Helpers (see Chapter
28), has sometimes been done through the agency of a medium, or of some one
present at a séance. Thus, though spiritualism has too often detained souls, who
but for it would have attained speedy liberation, yet it has also furnished the
means of escape to others, and thus opened up the path of advancement for
them. There have been instances in which the deceased person has been able
to appear, without the assistance of a medium, to his relatives and friends, and
explain his wishes to them. But such cases are rare, and in most cases earth-
bound souls can relieve themselves of their anxieties only by means of the
services of a medium, or of a conscious “Invisible Helper”.
It is thus an error to look only at the dark side of spiritualism: it must not be
forgotten that it has done an enormous amount of good in this kind of work, by
giving to the dead an opportunity to arrange their affairs after a sudden and
unexpected departure.

The student of these pages should not be surprised that amongst spiritualists are
some who are bigoted and narrow, who know nothing, for example, of
reincarnation: it is probable, in fact, that the majority of English and American
spiritualists do not yet know of that fact, though there are schools of spiritualism
which do teach it. We have already seen that when a man dies, he usually
resorts to the company of those [Page 197] whom he has known on earth: he
moves among exactly the same kind of people as during physical life. Hence
such a man is little more likely to know or recognise the fact of reincarnation after
death than before it. Most men are shut in from all new ideas by a host of
prejudices: they carry those prejudices into the astral world with them, and are no
more amenable to reason and common-sense there than in the physical world.

Of course a man who is really open-minded can learn a great deal on the astral
plane: he may speedily acquaint himself with the whole of the Theosophical
teaching, and there are dead men who do this. Hence it often happens that
portions of that teaching are found among spirit-communications.

It must also be borne in mind that there is a higher spiritualism of which the
public knows nothing, and which never publishes any account of its results. The
best circles of all are strictly private, restricted to a small number of sitters. In
such circles the same people meet over and over again, and no outsider is ever
admitted to make any change in the magnetism. The conditions set up are thus
singularly perfect, and the results obtained are often of the most surprising
character. Often the so-called dead are just as much part of the daily life of the
family as the living. The hidden side of such séances is magnificent: the thought-
forms surrounding them are good, and calculated to raise the mental and spiritual
level of the district.

At public séances an altogether lower class of dead people appear, because of

the promiscuous jumble of magnetism.

One of the most serious objections to the general practice of spiritualism, is that
in the ordinary man after death the consciousness is steadily rising from the
lower part of the nature towards the higher: the ego, as we have repeatedly said,
is steadily withdrawing himself away from the lower worlds: obviously, therefore,
it cannot be helpful to his evolution that the lower part should be re-awakened
from the natural and [Page 198] desirable unconsciousness into which it is
passing, and dragged back into touch with earth in order to communicate through
a medium.

It is thus a cruel kindness to draw back to the earth-sphere one whose lower
manas still yearns after kâmic gratifications, because it delays his forward
evolution and interrupts what should be an orderly progression. The period in
kâmaloka is thus lengthened, the astral body is fed, and its hold on the ego is
maintained; thus the freedom of the soul is deferred, “the immortal Swallow being
still held by the birdlime of earth”.

Especially in cases of suicide or sudden death is it most undesirable to re-

awaken Trishnâ, or the desire for sentient existence.

The peculiar danger of this will appear when it is recollected that since the ego is
withdrawing into himself, he becomes less and less able to influence or guide the
lower portion of his consciousness, which, nevertheless, until the separation is
complete, has the power to generate karma, and under the circumstances is far
more likely to add evil than good to its record.

Furthermore, people who have led an evil life and !' are filled with yearnings for
the earth life they have left, and for the animal delights they can no longer directly
taste, tend to gather round mediums or sensitives, endeavouring to utilise them
for their own gratification. These are among the more dangerous of the forces so
rashly confronted in their ignorance by the thoughtless and the curious.

A desperate astral entity may seize upon a sensitive sitter and obsess him, or he
may even follow him home
and seize upon his wife or daughter. There have been many such cases, and
usually it is almost impossible
to get rid of such an obsessing entity.

We have already seen that passionate sorrow and desires of friends on earth
also tend to draw departed entities down to the earth-sphere again, thus often
causing acute suffering to the deceased as well as interfering with the normal
course of evolution.

Turning now to the kinds of entities who may [Page 199] communicate through a
medium, we may classify them as follows:—
Deceased human beings on the astral plane.
Deceased human beings in devachan.
Vitalised shells.
The medium's ego.

As most of these have already been described in Chapter 14 on Astral Entities,

little more need be said about them here.
It is theoretically possible for any deceased person on the astral plane to
communicate through a medium, though this is far easier from the lower levels,
becoming more and more difficult as the entity rises to the higher-sub-planes.
Hence, other things being equal, it is natural to expect that a majority of the
communications received at séances will be from the lower levels and therefore
from relatively undeveloped entities.

The student will recollect (see page 138) that suicides, and other victims of
sudden death, including executed criminals, having been cut off in the full flush of
physical life, are especially likely to be drawn to a medium, in the hope of
satisfying their Trishna, or thirst for life.

Consequently, the medium is the cause of developing in them a new set of

Skandhas (see page 209), a new body with far worse tendencies and passions
than the one they lost. This would be productive of untold evils for the ego, and
cause him to be re-born into a far worse existence than before.

Communication with an entity in devachan, i.e., in the heaven-world, needs a

little further explanation. Where a sensitive, or medium, is of a pure and lofty
nature, his freed ego may rise to the devachanic plane and there contact the
entity in devachan. The [Page 200] impression is often given that the entity from
devachan has come to the medium, but the truth is the reverse of this: it is the
ego of the medium who has risen to the level of the entity in devachan.

Owing to the peculiar conditions of the consciousness of entities in devachan

(into which we cannot enter in this book), messages thus obtained cannot
altogether be relied upon: at best the medium or sensitive can know, see and feel
only what the particular entity in devachan knows, sees and feels. Hence, if
generalisations are indulged in, there is much possibility of error, since each
entity in devachan lives in his own particular department of the heaven-world.

In addition to this source of error, whilst the thoughts, knowledge and sentiments
of the devachanic entity form the substance, it is likely that the medium's own
personality and pre-existing ideas will govern the form of the communication.

A shade (see page 170) may frequently appear and communicate at séances;
bearing the exact appearance of the departed entity, possessing his memory,
idiosyncrasies, etc., it is often mistaken for the entity himself, though it is not itself
conscious of any impersonation. It is in reality a “soulless bundle of the lowest
qualities” of the entity.

A shell (see page 171) also exactly resembles the departed entity, though it is
nothing more than the astral corpse of the entity, every particle of mind having
left it. By coming within reach of a medium's aura it may be galvanised for a few
moments into a burlesque of the real entity.
Such “spooks” are conscienceless, devoid of good impulses, tending towards
disintegration, and consequently can work for evil only, whether we regard them
as prolonging their vitality by vampirising at séances, or polluting the medium and
sitters with astral connections of an altogether undesirable kind.

A vitalised shell (see page 172) may also communicate through a medium. As
we have seen, it consists of an astral corpse animated by an artificial elemental,
and [Page 201] is always malevolent. Obviously it constitutes a source of great
danger at spiritualistic séances.

Suicides, shades and vitalised shells, being minor vampires, drain away vitality
from human beings whom they can influence. Hence both medium and sitters are
often weak and exhausted after a physical séance. A student of occultism is
taught how to guard himself from their attempts, but without that knowledge it is
difficult for one who puts himself in their way to avoid being laid more or less
under contribution by them.

It is the use of shades and shells at séances which brands so many of

spiritualistic communications with intellectual sterility. Their apparent
intellectuality will give out only reproductions: the mark of non-originality will be
present, there being no sign of new and independent thought.

Nature-Spirits. The part which these creatures so often play at séances has
already been described on pages 182 et seq.

Many of the phenomena of the séance-room are clearly more rationally

accounted for as the tricky vagaries of sub-human forces, than as the act of
“spirits” who, while in the body, were certainly incapable of such inanities.

The medium's ego. If the medium be pure and earnest and striving after the light,
such upward striving is met by a down-reaching of the higher nature, light from
the higher streaming down and illuminating the lower consciousness. Then the
lower mind is, for the time, united with its parent the higher mind, and transmits
as much of the knowledge of the higher mind as it is able to retain. Thus some
communications through a medium may come from the medium's own higher

The class of entity drawn to séances depends of course very much on the type of
medium. Mediums of low type inevitably attract eminently undesirable visitors,
whose fading vitality is reinforced in the séance-room. Nor is this all: if at such
séances there be present a man or woman of correspondingly low [Page 202]
development, the spook will be attracted to that person and may attach itself to
him or her, thus setting up currents between the astral body of the living person
and the dying astral body of the dead person, and generating results of a
deplorable kind.
An Adept or Master often communicates with His disciples, without using the
ordinary methods of communication. If a medium were a pupil of a Master, it is
possible that a message from the Master might “come through”, and be mistaken
for a message from a more ordinary “spirit”.
A Nirmânakâya is a perfected man, who has cast aside his physical body but
retains his other lower principles, remaining in touch with the earth for the sake of
helping the evolution of mankind. These great entities can and do on rare
occasions communicate through a medium, but only through one of a very pure
and lofty nature. (See also page 175)

Unless a man has had very wide experience with mediumship, he would find it
difficult to believe how many quite ordinary people on the astral plane are burning
with the desire to pose as great world-teachers. Usually they are honest in their
intentions, and really think they have teaching to give which will save the world.
Having realised the worthlessness of merely worldly objects, they feel, quite
rightly, that if they could impress upon mankind their own ideas the whole world
would immediately become a very different place.

Having flattered the medium into believing that he or she is the sole channel for
some exclusive and transcendent teaching, and having modestly disclaimed any
special greatness for himself, one of these communicating entities is often
imagined by the sitters to be at least an archangel, or even some more direct
manifestation of the Deity. Unfortunately, however, it is usually forgotten by such
an entity that when he was alive in the physical world, other people were making
similar communications through various mediums, and that he paid not the
slightest attention [Page 203] to them. He does not realise that others also, still
immersed in the affairs of the world, will pay no more attention to him and will
decline to be moved by his communications.

Sometimes such entities will assume distinguished names, such as George

Washington, Julius Caesar, or the Archangel Michael, from the questionably
pardonable motive that the teachings they give will so be more likely to be
accepted than if they emanate from plain John Smith or Thomas Brown.

Sometimes also, such entities, seeing the minds of others full of reverence for
the Masters, will personate these very Masters in order to command more ready
acceptance for the ideas they wish to promulgate.

Also there are some who attempt to injure the work of the Master by assuming
His form and so influencing His pupil. Although they might be able to produce an
almost perfect physical appearance, it is quite impossible for them to imitate a
Master's causal body, and consequently one with causal sight could not possibly
be deceived by such an impersonation.

In a few instances the members of the lodge of occultists who originated the
spiritualistic movement (see page 191) have themselves given valuable
teachings on deeply interesting subjects, through a medium. But this has
invariably been at strictly private family séances, never at public performances
for which money has been paid.

The Voice of the Silence wisely enjoins: “Seek not thy Guru in these mayavic
regions.” No teaching from a self-appointed preceptor on the astral plane should
be blindly accepted: all communications and advice which comes thence should
be received precisely as one would receive similar advice on the physical plane.
Teaching should be taken for what it is worth, after examination by conscience
and intellect.

A man is no more infallible because he happens to be dead than when he was

physically alive. A man may spend many years on the astral plane and yet know
no more than when he left the physical world.[Page 204]

Accordingly we should attach no more importance to communications from the

astral world, or from any higher plane, than we should to a suggestion made on
the physical plane.

A manifesting “spirit” is often exactly what it professes to be: but often also it is
nothing of the kind. For the ordinary sitter there is no means of distinguishing the
true from the false, since the resources of the astral plane can be used to delude
persons on the physical plane to such an extent that no reliance can be placed
even on what seems the most convincing proof. It is not for a moment denied
that important communications have been made at séances by genuine entities:
but it is claimed that it is practically impossible for an ordinary sitter to be quite
certain that he is not being deceived in half a dozen different ways.

From, the above it will be seen how varied may be the sources from which
communications from the astral world may be received. As said by H. P.
Blavatsky: “The variety of the causes of phenomena is great, and we need to be
an Adept, and actually look into and examine what transpires, in order to be able
to explain in each case what really underlies it”.

To complete the statement, it may be said that what the average person can do
on the astral plane after death he can do in physical life: communications may be
as readily obtained by writing, in trance, or by utilising the developed and trained
powers of the astral body, from embodied as from disembodied persons. It would
therefore seem to be more prudent to develop within oneself the powers of one's
own soul, instead of ignorantly plunging into dangerous experiments. In this
manner knowledge may be safely accumulated and evolution accelerated. Man
must learn that death has no real power over him: the key of the prison-house of
the body is in his own hands, and he may learn how to use it if he wills.

From a careful weighing of all the evidence available, both for and against
spiritualism, it would [Page 205] seem that, if employed with care and discretion, it
may be justifiable, purely in order to break down materialism. Once this purpose
is achieved, its use seems too beset with dangers, both to the living and the
dead, to make it advisable, as a general rule, though in exceptional cases it may
be practised with safety and benefit. [Page 206]


WE have now reached the end of the life-history of the astral body, and little
remains to be said regarding its death and final dissolution.

The steady withdrawal of the ego, as we have seen, causes, in a time which
varies within very wide limits, the particles of the astral body gradually to cease to
function, this process taking place, in most cases, in layers arranged according to
degree of density, the densest being on the outside.

The astral body thus slowly wears away and disintegrates as the consciousness
is gradually withdrawn from it by the half-unconscious effort of the ego, and thus
the man by degrees gets rid of whatever holds him back from the heaven-world.

During the stay on the astral plane, in kâmaloka, the mind, woven with the
passions, emotions and desires, has purified them, and assimilated their pure
part, and has absorbed into itself all that is fit for the higher ego, so that the
remaining portion of kâma is a mere residue, from which the ego, the Immortal
Triad of Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas (as it is often called), can readily free itself. Slowly
the Triad or ego draws into itself the memories of the earth-life just ended, its
loves, hopes, aspirations, etc., and prepares to pass out of kâmaloka into the
blissful state of devachan, the “abode of the gods”, the “heaven-world”.

Into the history of the man when he has reached the heaven-world we cannot
enter here, as it lies beyond the scope of this treatise: it is hoped, however, to
deal with it in the third volume of this series.

For the moment, however, it may be said, in brief, that the period spent in
devachan is the time for the [Page 207] assimilation of life experiences, the
regaining of equilibrium, ere a new descent into incarnation is undertaken. It is
thus the day that succeeds the night of earth-life, the subjective as contrasted
with the objective period of manifestation.

When the man passes out of kâmaloka into devachan, he cannot carry thither
with him thought-forms of an evil type; astral matter cannot exist on the
devachanic level, and devachanic matter cannot answer to the coarse vibrations
of evil passions and desires. Consequently all that the man can carry with him
when he finally shakes off the remnants of his astral body will be the latent germs
or tendencies which, when they can find nutriment or outlet, manifest as evil
desires and passions in the astral world. But these he does take with him, and
they lie latent throughout his devachanic life, in the astral permanent atom. At the
end of the kâmalokic life, the golden life-web (see A Study in Consciousness,
pages 91-93) withdraws from the astral body, leaving it to disintegrate, and
enwraps the astral permanent atom, which then retreats within the causal body.

The final struggle with the desire-elemental (see pp. 6 & 108) takes place at the
conclusion of the astral life, for the ego is then endeavouring to draw back into
himself all that he put down into incarnation at the beginning of the life which has
just ended. When he attempts to do this he is met with determined opposition
from the desire-elemental, which he himself has created and fed.

In the case of all ordinary people, some of their mental matter has become so
entangled with their astral matter that it is impossible for it to be entirely freed.
The result of the struggle is therefore that some portion of the mental matter, and
even of causal (higher mental) matter is retained in the astral body after the ego
has completely broken away from it. If, on the other hand, a man has during life
completely conquered his lower desires and succeeded in absolutely freeing the
lower mind from desire, there is practically [Page 208]
no struggle, and the ego is able to withdraw not only all that he “invested” in that
particular incarnation, but also all the “interest”, i.e., the experiences, faculties,
etc., that have been acquired. There are also extreme cases where the ego loses
both the “capital” invested and the “interest”, these being known as “lost-souls” or
elementaries (see page 145).

The full treatment of the method in which the ego puts a portion of himself down
into incarnation and then endeavours to withdraw it again, must clearly be
reserved for the third and fourth volumes of this series, which will deal with the
mental and causal bodies.

The exit from the astral body and the astral plane is thus a second death, the
man leaving behind him an astral corpse which, in its turn, disintegrates, its
materials being restored to the astral world, just as the materials of the physical
body are returned to the physical world.

This astral corpse, and the various possibilities which may happen to it, have
already been dealt with in Chapter 19 on Astral Entities, under the headings
Shades (page 170), Shells (page 171), Vitalised Shells (page 172), etc. [Page 209]

AFTER the causes that carried the ego into devachan are exhausted, the
experiences gathered having been wholly assimilated, the ego begins to feel
again the thirst for sentient material life, that can be gratified only on the physical
plane. That thirst is known by the Hindus as trishnâ.
It may be considered, first, as a desire to express himself: and second, as a
desire to receive those impressions from without which alone enable him to feel
himself alive. For this is the law of evolution.

Trishnâ appears to operate through kâma, which, for the individual as for the
Cosmos, is the primary cause of reincarnation.

During the devachanic rest the ego has been free from all pain and sorrow, but
the evil he did in his past life has been in a state, not of death, but of suspended
animation. The seeds of past evil tendencies commence to germinate as soon as
the new personality begins to form itself for the new incarnation. The ego has to
take up the burden of the past, the germs or seeds coming over as the harvest of
the past life being called by the Buddhists skandhas.

Kâma, with its army of skandhas, thus waits at the threshold of devachan,
whence the ego re-emerges to assume a new incarnation. The skandhas consist
of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental

The process is brought about by the ego turning his attention, first to the mental
unit, which immediately resumes its activity, and then to the astral permanent
atom, into which he puts his will.

The tendencies, which we have seen are in a condition [Page 210] of suspended
animation, are thrown outwards by the ego as he returns to re-birth, and draw
around themselves, first, matter of the mental plane, and also elemental essence
of the second great kingdom, these expressing exactly the mental development
which the man had gained at the end of his last heaven-life. He thus begins in
this respect exactly where he left off.

Next, he draws round himself matter from the astral world, and elemental
essence of the third kingdom, thus obtaining the materials out of which his new
astral body will be built, and causing to re-appear the appetites, emotions, and
passions which he brought over from his past lives.

The astral matter is gathered by the ego descending to re-birth, not of course
consciously, but automatically.

This material is, moreover, an exact reproduction of the matter in the man's astral
body at the end of his
'' last astral life. The man thus resumes his life in each world just where he left it
last time.

The student will recognise in the above a part of the workings of karmic law, into
which we need not enter in this present volume. Each incarnation is inevitably,
automatically, and justly linked with the preceding lives, so that the whole series
forms a continuous, unbroken chain.

The astral matter thus drawn round the man is not yet formed into a definite
astral body. It takes, in the first place, the shape of that ovoid which is the
nearest expression that we can realise of the true shape of the causal body. As
soon as the baby physical body is formed, the physical matter exerts a violent
attraction for the astral matter, which previously was fairly evenly distributed over
the ovoid, and so concentrates the great bulk of it within the periphery of the
physical body.

As the physical body grows, the astral matter follows its every change, 99 per
cent, of it being concentrated within the periphery of the physical body, and only
about I per cent, filling the rest of the ovoid and constituting the aura, as we saw
in an earlier chapter (see page 7). [Page 211]

The process of gathering matter round the astral nucleus sometimes takes place
rapidly, and sometimes causes long delay; when it is completed the ego stands
in the karmic vesture he has prepared for himself, ready to receive from the
agents of the Lords of Karma the etheric double, into which, as into a mould, the
new physical body will be built (see The Etheric Double, page 67).

The man's qualities are thus not at first in action: they are simply the germs of
qualities, which have secured for themselves a possible field of manifestation in
the matter of the new bodies. Whether they develop in this life into the same
tendencies as in the last one will depend largely upon the encouragement, or
otherwise, given to them by the surroundings of the child during his early years.
Any one of them, good or bad, may be readily stimulated into activity by
encouragement, or, on the other hand, may be starved out for lack of that
encouragement. If stimulated, it becomes a more powerful factor in the man's life
this time than it was in his previous existence; if starved out, it remains merely as
an unfructified germ, which presently atrophies and dies out, and does not make
its appearance in the succeeding incarnation at all.

The child cannot thus be said to have as yet a definite mind-body or a definite
astral body, but he has around and within him the matter out of which these are
to be built.

Thus, for example, suppose a man was a drunkard in his past life: in kâmaloka
he would have burnt out the desire for drink and be definitely freed from it. But
although the desire itself is dead, there still remains the same weakness of
character which made it possible for him to be subjugated by it. In his next life his
astral body will contain matter capable of giving expression to the same desire;
but he is in no way bound to employ such matter in the same way as before. In
the hands of careful and capable parents, in fact, being trained to regard such
desires as evil, he would gain control over them, repress them as they [Page 212]
appear, and thus the astral matter will remain unvivified and become atrophied
from want of use. It will be recollected that the matter of the astral body is slowly
but constantly wearing away and being replaced, precisely as is that of the
physical body, and as atrophied matter disappears it will be replaced by matter of
a more refined order. Thus are vices finally conquered and made virtually
impossible for the future, the opposite virtue of self-control having been

During the first few years of the man's life the ego has but little hold over his
vehicles, and he therefore looks to his parents to help him to obtain a firmer
grasp and to provide him with suitable conditions.

It is impossible to exaggerate the plasticity of these unformed vehicles. Much as

can be done with the physical body in its early years, as in the case of children
trained as acrobats, for example, far more can be done with the astral and
mental vehicles. They thrill in response to every vibration which they encounter,
and are eagerly receptive of all influences, good or evil, emanating from those
around them. Moreover, though in early youth they are so susceptible and so
easily moulded, they soon set and stiffen and acquire habits which, once firmly
established, can be altered only with great difficulty. Thus to a far larger extent
than is realised by even the fondest parents, the child's future is under their

It is only the clairvoyant who knows how enormously and how rapidly child-
characters would improve if only adult characters were better.

A very striking instance is recorded where the brutality of a teacher irreparably

injured the bodies of a child so as to make it impossible for the child in this life to
make the full progress that was hoped for it.

So vitally important is the early environment of a child that the life in which
Adeptship is attained must have absolutely perfect surroundings in childhood.

In the case of lower-class monads with unusually strong astral bodies, who
reincarnate after a very [Page 213]
short interval, it sometimes happens that the shade or shell left over from the last
astral life still persists, and in that case it is likely to be attracted to the new
personality. When that happens it brings with it strongly the old habits and modes
of thought, and sometimes even the actual memory of that past life.

In the case of a man who has led such an evil life i that his astral and mental
bodies are torn away from the ego after death, the ego, having no bodies in
which to live in the astral and mental worlds, must quickly form new ones. When
the new astral and mental bodies are formed, the affinity between them and the
old ones, not yet disintegrated, asserts itself, and the old mental and astral
bodies become the most terrible form of what is known as the “dweller on the

In the extreme case of a man, returning to re-birth, who by vicious appetite or

otherwise, has formed a very strong link with any type of animal, he may be
linked by magnetic affinity to the astral body of the animal whose qualities he has
encouraged, and be chained as a prisoner to the animal's physical body. Thus
chained he cannot go onward to re-birth: he is conscious in the astral world, has
his human faculties, but cannot control the brute body with which he is
connected, nor express himself through that body on the physical plane. The
animal organism is thus a jailor, rather than a vehicle. The animal soul is not
ejected, but remains as the proper tenant and controller of its own body.

Such an imprisonment is not reincarnation, though it is easy to see that cases of

this nature explain at least partially the belief often found in Oriental countries
that man may under certain circumstances reincarnate in an animal body.

In cases where the ego is not degraded enough for absolute imprisonment, but in
which the astral body is strongly animalised, it may pass on normally to human
re-birth, but the animal characteristics will be largely reproduced in the physical
body — as witness the [Page 214] “monsters” who in appearance are sometimes
repulsively animal, pig-faced, dog-faced, etc. The suffering entailed on the
conscious human entity, thus temporarily cut off from progress and from self-
expression, is very great, though, of course, reformatory in its action. It is
somewhat similar to that endured by other egos, who are linked to human bodies
with unhealthy brains, i.e., idiots, lunatics, etc., though idiocy and lunacy are the
results of other vices.

Insanity is often the result of cruelty, more especially when the cruelty is of a
refined and intentional character.[Page 215]



THIS book will have been compiled in vain if the student has not become
impressed with the necessity, first, of controlling the astral body: secondly, of
gradually training it into a vehicle of consciousness, completely subservient to the
will of the real man, the ego: and thirdly, in due time, of steadily developing and
perfecting its various powers.

The average worldly person knows little and cares less about such matters: but
to the student of occultism it is clearly of fundamental importance that he should
attain full mastery over all his vehicles — physical, astral and mental. And
although for purposes of analysis and study it is necessary to separate these
three bodies and study them individually, yet, in practical life, it will be found that
to a great extent the training of all of them can be carried on simultaneously, any
power gained in one helping to some extent in the training of the other two.

We have already seen (page 64) the desirability of purifying the physical body, by
means of food, drink, hygiene, etc., in order to make slightly less difficult the
control of the astral body. The same principle applies with even greater force to
the mental body, for it is in the last analysis only by the use of mind and will that
the desires, emotions and passions of the astral body can be brought into perfect

For many temperaments, at least, a careful study of the psychology of emotion is

of very great assistance, as it is clearly much easier to bring under control a force
the genesis and nature of which is thoroughly understood.

For this purpose, the present writer very strongly recommends a thorough study
of the principles laid [Page 216] down in that masterly treatise The Science of the
Emotions, by Bhagavan Das. (An admirable epitome of this work has been
written by Miss K. Browning, M.A., under the title An Epitome of the Science of
the Emotions.) The main thesis may be very briefly set out as follows.

All manifested existence may be analysed into the Self, the Not-Self, and the
Relationship between these two.
That Relationship may be divided into (1) Cognition (Gnyânam): (2) Desire
(Ichchâ): (3) Action (Kriyâ). To know, to desire, and to endeavour or act — those
three comprise the whole of conscious life.

Feeling or emotion is of two kinds — pleasurable or painful. Pleasure,

fundamentally a sense of moreness, produces attraction, love (ragâ): pain,
fundamentally a sense of lessness, produces repulsion, hate (dvesha).

From attraction proceed all love-emotions: from repulsion proceed all hate-
emotions. All emotions arise from love or hate, or from both, in varying degrees
of intensity.

The precise nature of a particular emotion is also determined by the relationship

between the one who experiences the emotion and the object which is the
occasion of the emotion. The one who experiences the emotion may be, so far
as the circumstances connected with the particular emotion are concerned, (1)
Greater than: (2) Equal to: or (3) Less than the object.

Pursuing this analysis, we arrive at the six possible types of emotion-elements

given in column three of the table appended. Column four gives sub-divisions of
the primary elements in varying degrees of intensity, the strongest being at the
head and the weakest at the foot of each group.

All human emotions consist of one of these six emotion-elements, or, more
frequently, of two or more of them combined together. The student must now be
referred to the treatise mentioned above for a detailed elaboration of the
fundamental principles set forth above. His labour will be amply rewarded.[Page
Relation towards the object
Primary Degrees of the
Qualitative Quantitative Emotion-Element Emotion
-1- -2-

Superior Reverence
Love (for)
Equal Affection
Inferior Benevolence
Superior Fear
Hate (for) Equal Anger Aversion
Pride or Tyranny Disdain
(a) Contempt
(a) The English language appears to possess no one word which accurately
describes this emotion-element.

Another valuable line of study, for the student who is aiming at self-knowledge in
order to attain self-mastery, is that of collective or crowd-consciousness. By far
the best book, with which the present writer is acquainted, on this interesting
subject is The Crowd in Peace and War, by Sir Martin Conway. [Page 218]

With wonderful lucidity and richness of illustration - Sir Martin demonstrates the
following fundamental facts.

(1) The great majority of men are brought up in, and all their lives belong to,
certain psychological “crowds”, i.e., groups of people who think, and above all,
feel similarly. Such crowds are those of the home, friends and associates,
schools and universities, professions, religious sects, political parties, schools of
thought, nations, races, and so on. Even those who read the same newspapers
or belong to the same club form a psychological “crowd”.

(2) Such crowds are in the main formed by, nourished on, and dominated by
feeling or emotion — not by thought. A crowd has all the emotions, but no
intellect: it can feel, but it cannot think. The opinions of crowds are seldom or
never reached by reason, but are merely infectious passions which sweep
through the whole body like an electric current, these frequently originating from
a single brain. Once caught up in the crowd, the individual rapidly loses his
power of individual thought and feeling, and becomes one with the crowd,
sharing its life, its opinions, its attitudes, prejudices, and the like.

(3) Very few ever have the courage or the strength to break away from the
various crowds to which they belong; the vast majority remain all their lives under
the sway of the crowds which have absorbed them.

Our author then proceeds to enumerate and describe the various crowd virtues
and to show that they differ from the virtues of the individual, being on the whole
at a much lower and more primitive level.

Every crowd, being unable to lead itself, needs and finds a leader. Of such
leaders there are three main types.

(a) The Crowd-Compeller. He is one who dominates and leads the crowd by
imposing upon it his own ideas by the sheer force of his own personality.
Examples of this type are Napoleon, Disraeli, Caesar, Charlemagne. [Page 219]

(6) The Crowd-Exponent. This type, totally distinct from the Crowd-Compeller, is
one which feels by natural sensitiveness what the crowd feels, or is going to feel,
and which expresses in clear and usually graphic language the emotions of the
crowd, which on its own account is inarticulate. Such men seldom think out
problems for themselves and then proclaim their gospel. Rather they wait for the
emotions of the crowd to take form: then they plunge into the thick of the fray and
say with eloquence, power and enthusiasm that which people about them are
dimly and vaguely feeling. Examples of this type are very common, especially in
the field of politics,

(c) The Crowd-Representative. Crowd leaders of this type are picturesque

figureheads rather than individual forces. Typical examples are a constitutional
king, a consul, an ambassador, a judge (at any rate in England). These men are
merely the people, “public opinion”, personified: they speak with the voice of the
people, act for them, and stand for them in the sight of the world. They must
suppress or conceal their own individual opinions, and appear to feel as the
public feels, to act in conformity with the public wishes and sentiments.

The above is the merest sketch of the leading principles enunciated in the
extremely able book mentioned, and the student is urged to make a careful study
of that work for himself. It will help him not only to appreciate more justly the
forces by which “the public” is swayed, but also to assess at their true value
many of his own beliefs, opinions and attitudes towards many questions of the

It is clearly of the utmost importance that, in all his feelings and thoughts, the
student of occultism should act deliberately and consciously. The Greek saying
Gnothi seauton, Know Thyself, is a fine piece of advice, for self-knowledge is
absolutely necessary to any candidate for progress. The student should not allow
himself to be swept off his feet by becoming; submerged in a collective emotion
— or thought-form, [Page 220] which forms a kind of atmosphere through which
every thing is seen and by which everything is coloured, and which so manifestly
dominates and sways the many crowds amongst which he moves. It is no easy
matter to stand against a strong popular bias, owing to the ceaseless beating
upon us of the thought-forms and currents of thought which fill the atmosphere:
yet the student of occultism must learn to do so.

He should, moreover, be able to recognise the various types of crowd-leaders

and to refuse to allow himself to be dominated, persuaded or cajoled into
accepting ideas or following lines of action unless he does so quite deliberately,
and with all his own faculties alert.

The influence of psychological crowds and crowd-leaders in the world today, as

well probably as in every age, is very great indeed, and the forces they wield
subtle and far-reaching, so that the student who aims at self-mastery and who
wishes to lead his own emotional and intellectual life, must be continuously on
his guard against these insidious influences.

The present writer is of opinion that a study of The Science of the Emotions and
The Crowd in Peace and War is an invaluable preliminary to the task of training
and developing the astral body till it becomes a useful and obedient servant of
the sovereign will of the ego.
One other line of study is also strongly urged upon the student, viz., that of the
sub-conscious mind, today often called the “unconscious” For this purpose, as an
introduction to the subject, The Law of Psychic Phenomena by T. J. Hudson, is

In studying this book, the student should recollect that it was written in 1892. In
the light of present day knowledge it is not necessary to subscribe wholly to
Hudson's analysis, classification, or terminology. Moreover, in the opinion of the
present writer, Hudson builds a great deal too much on his premises, straining
his theories far beyond breaking-point. Nevertheless, the book is still of great
value, first as encouraging a healthy scientific scepticism towards accepting too
readily plausible and glib explanations of many psychic [Page 221] phenomena,
and secondly, in bringing home with great force the tremendous potentialities
latent in the subconscious part of man's nature, which may be utilised by the
careful and discreet student to considerable effect in bringing his own astral
nature under control and, in general, purifying and building up his own character.
There are, of course, hosts of other and more modern books which will also help
towards this end. Briefly, Hudson states:—

(1) That the mentality of man is clearly divisible into two parts, each with its own
separate powers and functions. These he calls the objective and the subjective

(2) That the objective mind is that which takes cognisance of the objective world,
using as its medium of observation the physical senses, and having as its highest
function the reason.

(3) That the subjective mind takes cognisance of its environment by means
independent of the physical senses. It is the seat of the emotions and the
storehouse of memory. It performs its highest functions when the objective
senses are in abeyance, e.g., in a state of hypnotism or somnambulism. Many of
the other faculties attributed by Hudson to the subjective mind are clearly those
of the astral body, e.g., the ability to travel to distant places, to read thoughts, etc.

Furthermore, whilst the objective mind is not controllable by “suggestion”. against

reason, positive knowledge, or the evidence of the senses, the subjective mind is
constantly amenable to the power of suggestion, whether from other people, or
from the objective mind of its owner.

With the help of modern knowledge regarding our astral and mental bodies, and
the nature and use of thought and emotion forms, the student will recognise here
many interesting and independent confirmations of what he has learnt from
Theosophical authorities, and, as already said, he will be better able to realise
that virtually limitless powers latent in his own psychological [Page 222] make-up,
which he may proceed to use along lines laid down by occultists of repute: such
as that of meditation, for example. He will also, perhaps, realise rather more
vividly than before the way in which kâma, or desire, and manas, or mind, are
entangled, and how they may be disentangled, to the great benefit and
strengthening of both.

It must ever be remembered that it is by thought that desire can be changed, and
finally mastered. As mind learns to assert control, desire becomes transmuted
into will, the governance then not being by external objects that attract or repel,
but by the spirit of the man, the ego, the inner ruler.

We shall now return to our more specific “Theosophical” authorities, and proceed
to consider certain other factors in the development and training of the astral

It is obvious that the student should aim at mastering and eliminating certain
minor defects, such as emotional weaknesses or vices. In this task it is important
to recollect that such a vice as irritability, for example, which has become a habit
through repeated indulgence, is stored up, not in the ego as an inherent quality,
but in the astral permanent atom (see page 207). However great the force that is
there piled up, it is a scientific certainty that perseverance will in due time lead to
victory. On the side of the ego, there is the force of his own will, and behind that
the infinite force of the Logos Himself, because progress by means of evolution is
His will. A grasp of the idea of unity thus gives the man an adequate motive for
the undoubtedly hard, and at times distasteful, work of character-building.
However great the struggle, the forces of infinity being on his side, he is bound
ultimately to overcome the finite forces for evil which he has stored up in his past

A man who seeks to kill out desire, in order to balance his karma perfectly and so
obtain liberation for himself, may achieve his object. He cannot, however, escape
from the law of evolution, and sooner or [Page 223] later he will be swept forward
again into the stream by its resistless pressure, and so be forced into re-birth.
Killing out desire is not the path of the true occultist.

Personal loves are not to be killed out, but are to be expanded till they become
universal: loves are to be levelled up, not down. The failure to realise this, and
the tremendous difficulty of the task, when realised, have led in some cases to
the stifling of love instead of its growth. But overflowing love, not lovelessness,
will save the world. The Mahâtmâ is the Ocean of Compassion: not an iceberg.
To try to kill out love is the way of the left-hand path.

It is, however, necessary to kill out completely the lower and coarser desires; the
remainder must be purified and transmuted into aspirations, and resolution. It is
waste of force to desire or wish: the occultist wills instead. Will is a higher aspect
of desire.

It has also been said that we should slay the “lunar form”, i.e., the astral body.
This does not mean that all feelings and emotions should be destroyed, but
rather that the astral body should be completely under control, that we should be
able to slay the lunar form at will. As the man develops, he makes his will one
with the will of the Logos, and the Logos wills evolution. Needless to say, such an
at-one-ment ipso facto eliminates such desires as ambition, desire for progress,
and the like.

The Voice of the Silence warns us that beneath each flower in the astral world,
however beautiful it may be, lies coiled the serpent of desire. In the case of
affection, for example, everything of a grasping nature must be altogether
transcended: but high, pure and unselfish affection can never be transcended,
since it is a characteristic of the Logos Himself, and is a necessary qualification
for progress upon the Path which leads to the Masters and to Initiation. [Page 224]



THE possession of psychic powers does not necessarily involve high moral
character, any more than does the possession of physical strength, neither are
psychic powers in themselves a sign of great development in any other direction,
e.g., that of intellect.

While, therefore, it is not true that the great psychic is necessarily a spiritual
person, it is true, on the other hand, that a great spiritual person is inevitably

Psychic powers can be developed by anyone who will take the trouble, and a
man may learn clairvoyance or mesmerism just as he may learn the piano, if he
is willing to go through the necessary hard work.

Astral senses exist in all men, but are latent in most, and generally need to be
artificially forced if they are to be used in the present stage of evolution. In a few
they become active without any artificial impulse; in very many they can be
artificially awakened and developed. The condition, in all cases, of the activity of
the astral senses is the passivity of the physical, and the more complete the
physical passivity the greater the possibility of astral activity.

Clairvoyance is often possessed by primitive peoples, or by ignorant and

uncultured individuals of more advanced races. This is sometimes called the
lower psychism, and is by no means the same thing as the faculty possessed by
a properly trained and more advanced man, nor is it arrived at in the same way.

The occasional appearance of psychism in an undeveloped person is a kind of

massive sensation vaguely belonging to the whole vehicle rather than an exact
and definite perception coming through specialised organs. This was especially
characteristic of the Atlantean [Page 225] (Fourth) Root Race. It works not through
the astral Chakrams, but through the astral centres connected with the physical
senses. These are not distinctively astral, although they are aggregations of
astral matter in the astral body. They are of the nature of connecting bridges
between the astral and physical planes, and are not developed astral senses in
the proper sense of the term. “Second sight” belongs to this type of
sensitiveness, and is often symbolical, the perceiver transmitting his knowledge
in this curious symbolical way. To stimulate the centres which are bridges,
instead of evolving the Chakrams, which are the astral organs, is a complete
blunder. This lower psychism is also associated with the sympathetic nervous
system, whereas the higher psychism is associated with the cerebro-spinal
system. To revive control of the sympathetic system is a retrograde and not a
forward step.

In course of time the lower psychism disappears, to re-open at a later stage

when it will be brought under the control of the will.

Hysterical and highly nervous people may occasionally become clairvoyant, the
fact being a symptom of their disease, and due to the weakening of the physical
vehicle to such a degree that it no longer presents any obstacle to a measure of
etheric or astral vision. Delirium tremens is an extreme example of this class of
psychism, victims of the disease often being able temporarily to perceive certain
loathsome elemental and etheric entities.

For those who have not yet developed astral vision, it is desirable to appreciate
intellectually the reality of the astral world, and to realise that its phenomena are
open to competent observation just as are those of the physical world.

There exist definite methods of Yoga by which the astral senses may be
developed in a rational and healthy way. But it is not only useless, it may be
dangerous, to attempt these until the preparatory stage of purification has first
been passed. Both the physical and the astral body must first be purified, [Page
226] by breaking the bonds of evil habits in eating, drinking, giving way to hate-
emotions of all kinds, etc.

Speaking generally, it is not desirable to force the development of the astral body
by artificial means, for until spiritual strength is attained the intrusion of astral
sights, sounds, and other phenomena is apt to be disturbing and even alarming.

Sooner or later, according to the karma of the past, one who follows the “ancient
and royal” path will find knowledge of astral phenomena gradually coming to him:
his keener vision will awaken, and new vistas of a wider universe will be unfolded
to him on every side. It is an illustration of the saying: “Seek ye first the Kingdom
of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The attainment of astral powers as an end in itself inevitably leads to what is

called in the East the laukika method of development: the powers obtained are
only for the present personality and, there being no safeguards, the student is
extremely likely to misuse them. To this class belong the practices of Hatha
Yoga, prânayama or breath-control, invocation of elementals, and all systems
which involve deadening the physical senses in some way, actively by drugs
(e.g., bhang, haschish, etc.), by self-hypnotisation, or, as among the dervishes,
by whirling in a mad dance of religious fervour until vertigo and insensibility
supervene: or passively by being mesmerised — so that the astral senses may
come to the surface. Other methods are crystal-gazing (which leads to nothing
but the lowest type of clairvoyance), the repetition of invocations, or the use of
charms or ceremonies.

A man who entrances himself by the repetition of words or charms may probably
return in his next life as a medium or at any rate be mediumistic. Mediumship
should not be regarded as a psychic power at all: for a medium, so far from
exercising power, on the contrary abdicates control over his own bodies in favour
of another entity. Mediumship is thus not a power but a condition. [Page 227]

There are many stories of some mysterious ointment or drug which, when
applied to the eyes, enables a man to see fairies, etc. Anointing of the eyes might
stimulate etheric sight but could not by any possibility open astral vision, though
certain ointments rubbed over the whole body will greatly assist the astral body to
leave the physical in full consciousness — a fact, the knowledge of which seems
to have survived to mediaeval times, as can be seen from the evidence given at
some of the trials for witchcraft.

The lokottara method consists of Râja Yoga or spiritual progress, and this is
unquestionably the best method. Though slower, the powers gained by it belong
to the permanent individuality, and are never again lost, while the guiding of a
Master ensures perfect safety so long as His orders are scrupulously obeyed.

Another great advantage of being trained by a Master is that whatever faculties

the pupil may achieve are definitely under his command and can be used fully
and constantly when needed: whereas in the case of the untrained man such
powers often manifest themselves only very partially and spasmodically, and
appear to come and go, as it were, of their own sweet will.

The temporary method is like learning to ride by stupefying the horse: the
permanent method is like learning to ride properly, so that any horse can be
ridden. The permanent method means real evolution, the other does not
necessarily involve anything of the sort, as the powers gained by it may perish
with the death of the body.

The wider sight of the astral plane is not an unmixed blessing, as it reveals the
sorrow and misery, the evil and greed of the world. The words of Schiller spring
to mind: “Why hast thou cast me thus into the town of the ever-blind, to proclaim
thine oracle with the opened sense ? Take back this sad clear-sightedness; take
from mine eyes this cruel light! Give me back my blindness — the happy
darkness of my senses; take back thy dreadful gift! ” [Page 228]

Clairvoyant power, if properly and sensibly used, may be a blessing and a help:
misused, it may be a hindrance and a curse. The principal dangers attendant
upon it arise from pride, ignorance, and impurity. It is obviously foolish for a
clairvoyant to imagine that he or she is the only one thus endowed, and the one
person specially selected under angelic guidance to found a new dispensation:
and so on. Moreover, there are always plenty of sportive and mischievous astral
entities ready and anxious to foster such delusions and to fulfil any rôle that may
be assigned to them.

It is useful for a clairvoyant to know something of the history of the subject and to
understand something of the conditions of the higher planes, as well, if possible,
as to possess some knowledge of scientific subjects.

Further, a man of impure life or motive inevitably attracts to himself the worst
elements in the invisible world. A man who is pure in thought and life, on the
other hand, is by that very fact guarded from the influence of undesirable entities
from other planes.

In many cases a man may have occasional flashes of astral consciousness

without any awakening of etheric vision at all. This irregularity of development is
one of the principal causes of the extreme liability of error in matters of
clairvoyance in at any rate its earlier stages.

In the normal course of things people awake to the realities of the astral plane
very slowly, just as a baby awakes to the realities of the physical plane. Those
who are deliberately and, as it were, prematurely entering upon the Path, are
developing such knowledge abnormally, and are consequently more liable to err
at first.

Danger and injury might easily come were it not that all pupils under proper
training are assisted and guided by competent teachers who are already
accustomed to the astral plane. That is the reason why all sorts of horrible sights,
etc., are shown to the neophyte, as tests, so that he may understand them and
[Page 229] become accustomed to them. Unless this were done, he might receive
a shock which might not only prevent his doing useful work but might also be
positively dangerous to his physical body.

The first introduction to the astral world may come in various ways. Some people
only once in their whole lives become sensitive enough to experience the
presence of an astral entity or some astral phenomenon. Others find themselves
with increasing frequency seeing and hearing things to which others are blind
and deaf : others again begin to recollect their sleep-experiences.

When a person is beginning to become sensitive to astral influences, he will

occasionally find himself suddenly overpowered by inexplicable dread. This
arises partly from the natural hostility of the elemental world against the human,
on account of man's many destructive agencies on the physical plane, which
react upon the astral, and partly to the many unfriendly artificial elementals, bred
by human minds. This has been especially noted in and near such a city as
Some people begin by becoming intermittently conscious of the brilliant colours
of the human aura: others may see faces, landscapes, or coloured clouds
floating before their eyes in the dark before they sink to rest. Perhaps the most
common experience is to begin to recollect with increasing clearness
experiences of the other planes acquired during sleep.

Sometimes a person once in his whole life will perceive, for example, the
apparition of a friend at the point of death. This may be due to two causes, in
each the strong wish of the dying man being the impelling force. That force may
have enabled the dying man to materialise himself for a moment, in which case,
of course, no clairvoyance is needed: more probably it may have acted
mesmerically upon the percipient and momentarily dulled his physical and
stimulated his higher sensitiveness.

A man with developed astral vision is of course no longer limited by physical

matter: he sees through all [Page 230] physical bodies, physically opaque
substances being to him as transparent as glass. At a concert, he sees glorious
symphonies of colours: at a lecture, he sees the speaker's thoughts in colour and
form, and is therefore in a position to understand him more fully than one without
astral vision.

A little examination will reveal that many people gain from a speaker more than
the mere words convey: many will find in their memory more than the speaker
uttered. Such experiences indicate that the astral body is developing and
becoming more sensitive, responding to the thought-forms created by the

Some places afford greater facilities for occult work than others: thus California
has a very dry climate with much electricity in the air, which is favourable for the
development of clairvoyance.

Some psychics require a temperature of 80 degrees in order to do their best

work: others do not work well except at a lower temperature.

A trained clairvoyant being able to see a man's astral body, it follows that on the
astral plane no man can hide or disguise himself: what he truly is, that he is seen
to be by any unprejudiced observer. It is necessary to say unprejudiced, because
a man sees another through the medium of his own vehicles, which is somewhat
like seeing a landscape through coloured glass. Until he has learnt to allow for
this influence, a man is liable to consider as most prominent in another man
those characteristics to which he himself most readily responds. Practice is
needed to free oneself from the distortion produced by this personal equation so
as to be able to observe clearly and accurately.

Most of the psychics who occasionally get glimpses of the astral world, as well as
most of the communicating entities at spiritualistic séances, fail to report many of
the complexities of the astral plane which are described in this book. The reason
is that few people see things as they really are on the astral plane until after very
long experience. Even those who do see fully are often [Page 231] too dazed and
confused to understand or to remember, and hardly any one can translate the
recollection into physical plane language. Many untrained psychics never
examine their visions scientifically: they simply obtain an impression, which may
be quite correct, but may also be half false, or even wholly misleading.

Also, as we have seen, frequent tricks are played by sportive denizens of the
astral world, against which the untrained person is usually defenceless.

In the case of an astral entity who constantly works through a medium, his finer
astral senses may even become so coarsened as to become insensitive to the
higher grades of astral matter.

Only the trained visitor from the physical plane, who is fully conscious on both
planes, can depend upon seeing both astral and physical planes clearly and

True, trained, and absolutely reliable clairvoyance demands faculties belonging

to a plane higher than the astral. The faculty of accurate prevision also belongs
to that higher plane: yet flashes or reflections of it frequently show themselves to
purely astral sight, more especially among simple-minded people who live under
suitable conditions — what is called second-sight among the Highlanders of
Scotland being a well-known example.

There are astrally, as well as physically, blind persons, so that many astral
phenomena escape ordinary astral vision. At first, in fact, many mistakes may be
made in using astral vision, just as a child makes mistakes when it first begins to
use its physical senses, though after a time it becomes possible to see and hear
as accurately on the astral as on the physical plane.

Another method of developing clairvoyance, which is advised by all the religions

alike, and which if adopted carefully and reverently can do no harm to any human
being, is that of meditation, by means of which a very pure type of clairvoyance
may sometimes be developed. A succinct account of the processes [Page 232]
involved in meditation is given in The Other Side of Death, by C. W. Leadbeater,
pages 469-476, as well of course as in many other books.

By means of meditation extreme sensitiveness can be developed, and at the

same time perfect balance, sanity and health.

The student will readily recognise that the practice of determined meditation
builds higher types of matter into the bodies. Grand emotions may be felt, which
come from the buddhic level, i.e., from the plane next above the higher mental,
and are reflected in the astral body. It is, however, necessary also to develop the
mental and causal bodies in order to give balance. A man cannot leap from the
astral consciousness to the buddhic without developing the intervening vehicles.
With feeling alone we can never obtain perfect balance or steadiness: grand
emotions that have swayed us in the right direction may very readily become a
little twisted and sway us along less desirable lines. Emotions provide motive
force, but directing power comes from wisdom and steadiness.

There is a close connection between the astral and the buddhic planes, the astral
body being in some ways a reflection of the buddhic.

An example of the close relationship between the astral and buddhic planes is
found in the Christian Mass. At the moment of Consecration of the Host a force
rays out which is strongest in the buddhic world, though also powerful in the
higher mental world: in addition, its activity is marked in the first, second and third
astral sub-planes, though this may be a reflection of the mental or an effect of
sympathetic vibration. The effect may be felt by people even far away from the
church, a great wave of spiritual peace and strength passing over the whole
countryside, though many would never connect it with the Mass being

In addition to the above, another effect is produced as a result of and in

proportion to the intensity of the conscious feeling of devotion of each individual
during the celebration. A ray, as of fire, darts from the [Page 233] uplifted Host and
sets the higher part of the astral body glowing intensely. Through the astral body,
by reason of its close relation with it, the buddhic vehicle also strongly affected.
Thus both buddhic and astral vehicles act and react on one another.

A similar effect occurs when the Benediction given with the blessed Sacrament.
[Page 234]



THERE are four methods by which it is possible to observe events taking place
at a distance.

I. By means of an astral current. This method is somewhat analogous to the

magnetisation of a bar of steel, and consists of what may be called polarisation,
by an effort of the will, of a number of parallel lines of astral atoms from the
observer to the scene he wishes to observe. All the atoms are held with their
axes rigidly parallel to one another, forming a kind of temporary tube, along
which the clairvoyant may look. The line is liable to be disarranged or even
destroyed by any sufficiently strong astral current which happens to cross its
path: this, however, seldom happens.
The line is formed either by the transmission of energy from particle to particle, or
by the use of force from a higher plane, which acts upon the whole line
simultaneously: the latter method implies far greater development, involving the
knowledge of, and power to use, forces of a considerably higher level. A man
who could make a line in this way would not, for his own use, need such a line at
all, because he could see far more easily and completely by means of a higher

The current or tube may be formed even quite unconsciously and unintentionally,
and is often the result of a strong thought or emotion projected from one end or
the other — either from the seer or from the person who is seen. If two persons
are united by strong affection, it is probable that a fairly steady stream of mutual
thought is constantly flowing between them, and some sudden need or dire
extremity on the part of one of them may endue this stream temporarily [Page 235]
with the |polarising power which is needful to create the astral telescope.

The view obtained by this means is not unlike that seen through a telescope.
Human figures, for example, would usually appear very small, but perfectly clear:
sometimes, but not usually, it is possible to hear as well as to see by this method.

The method has distinct limitations, as by it the astral telescope reveals the
scene from one direction only, and has a limited and particular field of view. In
fact, astral sight directed along such a tube is limited much as physical sight
would be under similar circumstances.

This type of clairvoyance may be greatly facilitated by using a physical object as

a starting point — a focus for the will power. A ball of crystal is the most common
and effective of such foci, as, owing to its peculiar arrangement of elemental
essence, it also possesses within itself qualities which stimulate psychic faculty.
Other objects are also used for the same purpose, such as a cup, a mirror, a pool
of ink (Egypt and India), a drop of blood (among the Maories of New Zealand), a
bowl of water (Red Indian), a pond (Roman and African), water in a glass bowl
(in Fez), or almost any polished surface, or, on the other hand, a dead black one,
produced by a handful of powdered charcoal in a saucer.

There are some who can determine what they see by their will, that is to say they
can point their telescope as they wish: but the great majority form a fortuitous
tube and see whatever happens to present itself at the end of it.

Some psychics are able to use the tube method only when under the influence of
mesmerism. There are two varieties of such psychics: (1) those who are able to
make the tube for themselves: (2) those who look through a tube made by the

Occasionally, though rarely, magnification is also possible by means of the tube,

though in these cases it is probable that an altogether new power is beginning to
dawn. [Page 236]

2. By the projection of a thought-form. This method consists of the projection of a

mental image of oneself, round which astral matter is also drawn, such
connection with the image being retained as will render it possible to receive
impressions by means of it: the form thus acts as a kind of outpost of the
consciousness of the seer. Such impressions would be transmitted to the thinker
by sympathetic vibration. In a perfect case, the seer is able to see almost as well
as he would if he himself stood in the place of the thought-form. In this method it
is possible also to shift the point of view, if desired. Clairaudience is perhaps less
frequently associated with this type of clairvoyance than with the first type. The
moment that the intentness of the thought fails the whole vision is gone, and it
will be necessary to construct a fresh thought-form before it can be resumed.
This type of clairvoyance is rarer than the first type because of the mental control
required and the finer nature of the forces employed. It is tedious except for quite
short distances.

3. By travelling in the astral body, either in sleep or trance. This process has
already been described in previous chapters.

4. By travelling in the mental body. In this case, the astral body is left behind with
the physical, and, if it is desired to show oneself on the astral plane, a temporary
astral body, or mâyâvirûpa is formed, as described on p. 255.

It is possible also to obtain information regarding events at a distance by invoking

or evoking an astral entity, such as a nature-spirit, and inducing or compelling
him to undertake the investigation. This, of course, is not clairvoyance, but

In order to find a person on the astral plane, it is necessary to put oneself en

rapport with him, a very slight clue being usually sufficient, such as a photograph,
a letter written by him, an object which belonged to him, etc. The operator then
sounds out the man's keynote when, if the man sought is on the astral plane, an
immediate response will be forthcoming. [Page 237]

This keynote of the man on the astral plane is a sort of average tone which
emerges from all the different vibrations which are habitual to his astral body.
There is also a similar average tone for each man's mental and other bodies, all
the keynotes together forming the man's chord — or mystic chord as it is often

The trained seer attunes his own vehicles for the moment exactly to the man's
note, and then by an effort of will sends forth its sound. Wherever in the three
worlds the man sought may be, an instant response is evoked from him; this
response is at once visible to the seer, so that he is able to form a magnetic line
of connection with the man.
Another form of clairvoyance enables the seer to perceive events that have
happened in the past. There are many degrees of this power, from the trained
man who can consult the Akâshic Records for himself at will, down to the person
who gets occasional glimpses only. The ordinary psychometer needs an object
physically connected with the scene in the past that he wishes to see, or, of
course, he may use a crystal or other object as his focus.

The Akâshic Records represent the Divine memory, which is briefly mentioned
on p. 155. The records seen on the astral plane, being but a reflection of a
reflection from a much higher plane, are exceedingly imperfect, fragmentary in
the extreme, and often seriously distorted. They have been compared to the
reflections in the surface of water ruffled by wind. On the mental plane the
records are full and accurate and can be read with exactitude: but this, of course,
demands faculties pertaining to the mental plane. [Page 238]


THE student of the preceding pages will by now have perceived that the
instances of “intervention” in human affairs by invisible agents, which occur from
time to time, and which are, of course, quite inexplicable from the materialistic
standpoint, may readily be explained, rationally and simply, by one who
understands something of the astral plane and its possibilities.

In the East the existence of “invisible helpers” has always been recognised; even
in Europe we have had the old Greek stories of the interference of gods in
human affairs, and the Roman legend that Castor and Pollux led the legions of
the infant republic in the Battle of Lake Regillus. In mediaeval times there were
many stories of saints who appeared at critical moments and turned the fortune
of war in favour of the Christian hosts — such as that of St. James having led the
Spanish troops — and of guardian angels who sometimes saved a traveller from
serious danger or even death.

Help may be given to men by several of the classes of inhabitants of the astral
plane. It may come from nature-spirits, from devas, from those who are
physically dead, or from those who, whilst still alive physically, are able to
function freely on the astral plane.

The cases in which help is given to men by nature-spirits are few. Nature-spirits
(see Chapter 20) mostly shun the haunts of man, disliking his emanations, his
bustle and his unrest. Also, excepting some of their higher orders, they are
generally inconsequent and thoughtless, more like happy children at play than
like grave and responsible entities. As a rule they cannot be relied upon for
anything like steady co-operation in [Page 239] this class of work, though
occasionally one of them will become attached to a human being and do him
many a good turn.

The work of the Adept, or Master, lies chiefly upon the arûpa levels of the mental
plane, where He may influence the true individualities of men, and not the mere
personality, which is all that can be reached in the astral or physical world. It is
seldom, therefore, that He finds it necessary or desirable to work on a plane so
low as the astral.

The same consideration applies to devas, those of this class of entity, who
sometimes respond to man's higher yearnings or appeals, working on the mental
plane rather than on the astral or physical, and more frequently in the periods
between incarnations than during physical existence.

Help is sometimes given by those who have recently died physically and who
remain still in close touch with earthly affairs. The student will readily perceive,
however, that the amount of such help must in the nature of things be
exceedingly limited, because the more unselfish and helpful a person is, the less
likely is he to be found after death lingering in full consciousness on the lower
levels of the astral plane, from which the earth is most readily accessible.

Furthermore, in order that a dead person may be able to influence one still living
physically, either the latter must be unusually sensitive, or the would-be helper
must possess a certain amount of knowledge and skill. These conditions are of
course fulfilled only very rarely.

It follows, then, that at present the work of helping on the astral and lower mental
planes is chiefly in the hands of pupils of the Masters, and any others who are
sufficiently evolved to function consciously upon these two planes.

Varied as is this class of work on the astral plane, it is all, of course, directed to
the one great end of furthering evolution. Occasionally it is connected with the
development of the lower kingdoms, elemental as well as vegetable and animal,
which it is possible [Page 240] to accelerate under certain conditions. It is, in fact,
in some cases only through connection with or use by man that the progress of
these lower kingdoms takes place. Thus, for example, an animal can
individualise only through certain classes of animals which have been
domesticated by man.

By far the largest and most important part of the work is connected with humanity
in some way or other, chiefly with his spiritual development, though very rarely
even purely physical assistance may be given.

In the classic book on the subject, Invisible Helpers, by C. W. Leadbeater, a

number of typical examples of physical intervention are given. Sometimes an
invisible helper, with his wider vision, is able to perceive a danger which is
threatening some one, and to impress the idea upon the person threatened, or
upon a friend who will go to his assistance. In this way, shipwrecks have
sometimes been prevented. At other times the helper may materialise himself, or
be materialised by a more experienced helper, sufficiently to lead some one out
of danger, e.g., to take a child out of a burning building, to save some one from
falling over a precipice, to bring home children who have lost their way, and so
on. One instance is given where a helper, finding a boy who had fallen over a cliff
and cut an artery, was materialised in order that he might tie a bandage and so
stop the bleeding, which otherwise would have proved fatal, another helper
meanwhile impressing the idea of danger upon the boy's mother and leading her
to the spot.

It may be asked how it is that an astral entity becomes aware of a physical cry, or
an accident. The answer is that any cry which has in it a strong feeling or
emotion would produce an effect upon the astral plane, and would convey
exactly the same idea there as on the physical plane. In the case of an accident
the rush of emotion caused by pain or fright would flame out like a great light,
and could not fail to attract the attention of an astral entity if he were anywhere
near. [Page 241]

In order to bring about the necessary materialisation of an astral body, so that a

means of performing purely physical acts may be obtained, a knowledge of the
method of doing this is clearly essential.

There are three well-defined varieties of materialisation: (2) that which is tangible,
though not visible to ordinary physical sight; at séances, this is the commonest
kind; it is used for moving small objects and for the “direct voice”. An order of
matter is used which can neither reflect nor obstruct light, but which under certain
conditions can be used to produce sound. A variety of this class is one which is
able to affect some of the ultra-violet rays, thus enabling “spirit-photographs” to
be taken. (2) That which is visible, but not tangible. (3) The perfect
materialisation, which is both visible and tangible. Many spiritualists are familiar
with all these three types.

Such materialisations as we are here considering are brought about by an effort

of will. This effort, directed towards changing matter from its natural state into
another, is temporarily opposing the cosmic will, as it were. The effort must be
maintained the whole time, for if the mind be taken off it for one half-second, the
matter flies back to its original condition like a flash of lightning.

At spiritualistic séances, a full materialisation is usually brought about by utilising

matter from the etheric and the physical bodies of the medium, and also from
those of the sitters. In such cases, it is clear that the very closest connection is
thus set up between the medium and the materialised body. The significance of
this we shall consider in a moment.
In the case of a trained helper, who finds it necessary to produce a temporary
materialisation, quite another method is employed. No pupil of a master would
ever be permitted to put such a strain on anyone else's body as would occur
were matter from that body to be used for the materialisation: nor, indeed, would
such a plan be necessary. A far less dangerous method is to condense from the
circumambient ether, or even from [Page 242] the physical air, such amount of
matter as may be required. This feat, though no doubt beyond the power of the
average entity manifesting at a séance, presents no difficulty to a student of
occult chemistry.

In a case of this kind, whilst we have an exact reproduction of the physical body,
it is created by a mental effort, out of matter entirely foreign to that body.
Consequently, the phenomenon known as repercussion could not possibly take
place, as it could happen where a form is materialised with matter drawn from a
medium's body.

Repercussion occurs where an injury inflicted upon a materialised form is

reproduced, with faithful accuracy, upon the corresponding part of the medium's
body. Or it may occur, as is very common at spiritualistic séances, where chalk is
rubbed, say, on a materialised hand; after the materialised hand has vanished,
the chalk is found upon the hand of the medium.

An injury to a form materialised by a helper from the ether or air could no more
affect the helper's physical body by repercussion than a man could be affected
by an injury to a marble statue of himself.

But if on the astral plane one is unwise enough to think that a danger which
belongs to the physical, e.g., a falling object, can injure one, an injury to the
physical body through repercussion is possible.

The subject of repercussion is abstruse and difficult, and as yet by no means fully
understood. In order to understand it perfectly, it would probably be necessary to
comprehend the laws of sympathetic vibration on more planes than one.

There is no doubt whatever as to the stupendous power of will over matter of all
planes, so that if only the power be strong enough, practically any result may be
produced by its direct action, without any knowledge or even thought on the part
of the man exercising the will as to how it is to do its work.

There is no limit to the degree to which will may be developed. [Page 243]

This power holds good in the case of materialisation, . although ordinarily it is an

art which must be learnt just like any other. An average man on the astral plane
would no more be able to materialise himself without having previously learnt
how to do it, than an average man on this plane would be able to play the violin
without having previously learnt to do so.
There are, however, exceptional cases where intense sympathy and firm
deliberation enable a person to effect a temporary materialisation even though he
does not consciously know how to do it.

It is worth noting that these rare cases of physical intervention by an astral helper
are often made possible by the existence of a karmic tie between the helper and
the one to be helped. In this way, old services are acknowledged and a kindness
rendered in one life is repaid in a future life, even by such unusual methods as
those described.

Or, in great catastrophes, where many people are killed, it is sometimes

permitted for one or two persons to be “miraculously” saved, because it so
happens that it is not their “karma” to die just then, i.e., they owe to the Divine
law no debt that can be paid in that particular fashion.

Very occasionally, physical assistance is given to human beings even by a


C.W. Leadbeater describes a case which happened to himself. Walking along a

road, he suddenly heard in his ear the voice of his Indian teacher, who at the
tune was physically 7,000 miles away, cry “Spring back! ” He started violently
back just as a heavy metal chimney pot crashed upon the pavement less than a
yard in front of his face.

Another remarkable case is recorded where a lady, who found herself in serious
physical peril in the middle of a dangerous street fracas, was suddenly whirled
out of the crowd and placed quite uninjured in an adjoining and empty by-street.
Her body must have been lifted right over the intervening houses, and set down
in the next street, a veil, probably of etheric [Page 244] matter, being thrown round
her whilst in transit so that she should not be visible as she passed through the

From a perusal of the chapters on After-Death Life, it will be evident that there is
ample scope for the work of invisible helpers among people who have died. Most
of these being in a condition of complete ignorance regarding life after death, and
many, in western countries at least, being also terrified at the prospect of “hell”,
and “eternal damnation”, there is much to be done in enlightening people as to
their true state and the nature of the astral world in which they find themselves.

The main work done by the invisible helper is that of soothing and comforting the
newly dead, of delivering them, where possible, from the terrible though
unnecessary fear which but too often seizes them, and not only causes them
much suffering, but retards their progress to higher spheres, and of enabling
them, so far as may be, to comprehend the future that lies before them.
It is stated that this work was in earlier periods attended to exclusively by a high
class of non-human entities; but for some time past those human beings who are
able to function consciously upon the astral plane have been privileged to render
assistance in this labour of love.

In cases where the rearrangement by the desire-elemental of the astral body has
taken place, an astral helper may break up that arrangement and restore the
astral body to its previous condition, so that the dead man can perceive the
whole of the astral plane instead of only one sub-plane of it.

Others who have been longer on the astral plane may also receive help from
explanations and advice as to their course through its different stages. Thus they
may be warned of the danger and delay caused by attempting to communicate
with the living through a medium, and sometimes, though rarely, an entity already
drawn into a spiritualistic circle may be guided into higher and healthier life. The
memory of such [Page 245]
teaching cannot, of course, be directly carried over to the next incarnation, but
there always remains the real inner knowledge, and therefore the strong
predisposition to accept it immediately when heard again in the new life.

Some of the newly-dead see themselves on the astral plane as they really are,
and are therefore filled with remorse. Here the helper is able to explain that the
past is past, that the only repentance worth while is the resolve to do better in
future, that each man must take himself as he is and steadily work to improve
himself and lead a truer life in the future.

Others, again, are troubled by their desire to make reparation for some injury
they did whilst on earth, to ease their conscience by disclosing a discreditable
secret they have jealously guarded, to reveal the hiding place of important
papers or money, and so forth. In some cases it is possible for the helper to
intervene in some way on the physical plane and so satisfy the dead man; but in
most cases the best he can do is to explain that it is now too late to make
reparation and therefore useless to grieve over the trouble, and to persuade the
man to abandon his thoughts of earth which hold him down in close touch with
earth-life, and to make the best of his new life.

An immense amount of work is also done for the living by putting good thoughts
into the minds of those who are ready to receive them.

It would be perfectly easy — easy to a degree quite incredible to those who do

not understand the subject practically — for a helper to dominate the mind of an
average man and make him think just as the helper pleased, without arousing
any suspicion of outside influence in the mind of the subject. Such a proceeding,
however, would be entirely inadmissible. All that may be done is to throw the
good thought into the person's mind among the thousands that are constantly
surging through it, and hope that the person will take it up, make it his own, and
act upon it.

Very varied assistance can be given in this manner, [Page 246] Consolation is
often given to those in sorrow or sickness; reconciliations are attempted between
those who have been separated by conflict of opinions or interests; earnest truth-
seekers are guided towards the truth; it is often possible to put the solution of
some spiritual or metaphysical problem into the mind of one who is - spending
anxious thought upon it. Lecturers may be helped by suggestions or illustrations
either materialised in subtler matter before the speaker or impressed upon his

A regular invisible helper soon acquires a number of “patients”, whom he visits

every night, just as a doctor upon earth makes a regular round among his
patients. Each worker thus usually becomes the centre of a small group, the
leader of a band of helpers for whom he is always able to find constant
employment. Work can be found in the astral world for any number of workers,
and every one who wishes — man, woman or child — may be one of them.

A pupil may often be employed as an agent in what practically amounts to the

answering of prayer. Although it is true that any earnest spiritual desire, such as
may be expressed in prayer, is a force which automatically brings about certain
results, it is also a fact that such a spiritual effort offers an opportunity of
influence to the Powers of Good. A willing helper may thus be made the channel
through which energy is poured forth. This is true of meditation to an even
greater extent.

In some cases such a helper is taken to be the saint, etc., to whom the petitioner
prayed, and there are many stories to illustrate this.

Pupils who are fitted for the work are also employed to suggest true and beautiful
thoughts to authors, poets, artists and musicians.

Sometimes, though more rarely, it is possible to warn people of the danger to

their moral development of some course that they are pursuing, to clear away
evil influence from about some person or place, or to counteract the
machinations of black magicians. [Page 247]

There is so much work for invisible helpers on the astral plane that it is clearly
emphatically the duty of the student to fit himself by every means in his power to
assist in its performance. The work of the invisible helpers would not be done
unless there were pupils at the stage where it is the best work that they can do.
As soon as they pass beyond that stage and can do higher work, the higher work
will certainly be given to them.

It should be borne in mind that when power and training are given to a helper,
they are given to him under restrictions. He must never use them selfishly, never
display them to gratify curiosity, never employ them to pry into the business of
others, never give what at spiritualistic séances are called tests, i.e., he must
never do anything which can be proved as a phenomenon on the physical plane.
He might take a message to a dead man, but not, unless under direct instructions
from his Master, bring back a reply from the dead to the living. Thus the band of
invisible helpers is neither a detective office nor an astral information bureau, but
is intended simply and quietly to do such work as is given to it to do or as comes
in its way.

As an occult student progresses, instead of assisting individuals only, he learns

to deal with classes, nations, and races. As he acquires the requisite powers and
knowledge, he begins to wield the greater forces of the âkâsha and the astral
light, and is shown how to make the utmost possible use of each favourable
cyclic influence. He is brought into relationship with the great Nirmânakâyas, and
becomes one of their almoners, learning how to dispense the forces which are
the fruit of their sublime self-sacrifice.

There is no mystery as to the qualifications needed by one who aspires to be a

helper: to some extent fl these have already been incidentally described, but it
may be useful also to set them out fully and categorically.

(i) Single-mindedness, sometimes called one-pointedness; the would-be helper

must make the work of [Page 248] helping others his first and highest duty: the
work which the Master would have him do must be the one great interest of his

Furthermore, intelligent discrimination is needed not only between useful and

useless work, but also between the different kinds of useful work. Economy of
effort is a prime law of occultism, and every student should devote himself to the
very highest work of which he is capable. It is also essential that the student
should on the physical plane do the utmost that lies in his power to further the
same great ends of helping his fellows.

(2) Self-Control.—This comprises complete control of temper, so that nothing

seen or heard can cause real irritation, for the consequences of such irritation
would be far more serious on the astral than on the physical plane. If a man with
fully awakened faculty on the astral plane were to feel anger against a person on
that plane, be would do him serious and perhaps fatal injury. Any manifestation
of irritability, excitement or impatience in the astral world would at once make a
helper a fearsome object, so that those whom he wished to help would fly from
him in terror.

A case is recorded where an invisible helper keyed herself up to such a state of

excitement that her astral body greatly increased in size, vibrating violently and
flashing forth fiery colours. The newly-dead person she was hoping to help was
horrified to see the huge, flaming, flashing sphere rushing at him, took it for the
theological devil in propriâ persona, and fled in terror, his terror being increased
by the would-be helper persistently following him.

In addition, control of nerve is essential, so that none of the fantastic or terrible

sights that may be encountered may be able to shake the student's dauntless
courage. As previously stated, it is to make sure of this control of nerve, and to fit
him for the work that has to be done, that candidates are always made, now as in
days of old, to pass what are called the tests of earth, water, air and fire [Page

The student has to realise that in the astral body the densest rock offers no
impediment to his freedom of movement, that he may leap with impunity from the
highest cliffs, and plunge with absolute confidence into the heart of a raging
volcano or the deepest abyss of the fathomless ocean. These things have to be
sufficiently realised for the student to act upon them instinctively and confidently.

Further, control of mind and desire are needed: of mind, because without the
power of concentration it would be impossible to do good work amid all the
distracting currents of the astral plane; of desire, because in the astral world to
desire is very often to have, and, unless desire were well controlled, the student
might find himself faced with creations of his. own of which he should be heartily

(3) Calmness.—This means the absence of worry , and depression. Much of the
work consisting of soothing those who are disturbed and cheering those in
sorrow, it is clear that a helper could not do such work if his own aura were
vibrating with continual fuss and worry, or grey with the gloom of depression.
Nothing is more fatal to occult progress or usefulness than worrying over trifles.
The optimistic view of everything is always nearest to the divine view, and
therefore to the truth, because only the good and beautiful can be permanent,
while evil by its very nature is temporary; unruffled calm leads to a serenity which
is joyous, making depression impossible.

As stated previously, depression is exceedingly contagious, and must be entirely

eliminated by one who aims at becoming an invisible helper. Such an one would
be characterised by his absolute serenity under all possible difficulties, and by his
radiant joy in helping others.

(4) Knowledge.—The more knowledge a man has in any and every direction, the
more useful he will be. He should fit himself by careful study of every thing that
has been written about the astral plane and astral work in occult literature, for he
cannot [Page 250] expect others, whose time is already fully occupied, to expend
some of it in explaining to him what he might have learnt for himself in the
physical world by taking the trouble to read books.

There is perhaps no kind of knowledge of which a use cannot be found in the

work of the occultist.
(5) Love. — This, the last and greatest of the qualifications, is also the most
misunderstood. Emphatically it is not backboneless sentimentalism, overflowing
with vague and gushing generalities, which fears to stand firm for the right lest it
should be stigmatised by the ignorant as “unbrotherly”. What is wanted is love
strong enough to act without talking about it; the intense desire for service which
is ever on the watch for an opportunity to render it, even though it prefers to do
so anonymously; the feeling which springs up in the heart of him who has
realised the great work of the Logos, and, having once seen it, knows that for him
there can be in the three worlds no other course but to identify himself with it to
the utmost limit of his power — to become, in however humble a way, and at
however great a distance, a tiny channel of that wondrous love of God which, like
the peace of God, passeth man's understanding.

It will be recollected that for two persons on the astral plane to communicate with
one another astrally, it is necessary that they should have a language in
common; therefore the more languages an astral plane helper knows, the more
useful he is.

The standard set for an Invisible Helper is not an impossible one; on the contrary
it is attainable by every man, though it may take him time to reach it. Every one
knows of some case of sorrow or distress, whether among the living or the dead
does not matter. On going to sleep a resolution should be made to do what is
possible, whilst asleep and in the astral body, to help that person. Whether the
memory of what has been done penetrates into the waking consciousness or not
is of no consequence; it may be taken as a certainty that something has been
achieved, and some day, [Page 251] sooner or later, evidence will be forthcoming
that success has been attained.

With a person who is fully awakened to the astral plane the last thought before
going to sleep would matter less, because he would have the power of turning
readily from one thought to another in the astral world. In his case, the general
trend of his thought would be the important factor, for equally during day and
night his mind would be likely to move in its accustomed fashion. [Page 252]


Reference has already been made to the possibility of receiving training, with
special reference to the astral body, from a Master of the Wisdom. It is possible
to add a little further information on this subject, which is one of very great
moment to the occult student.

The necessary qualifications of character have already been described in detail

in the preceding chapter.
When a man is approaching the stage at which he will be fit to be accepted as a
pupil of a Master, the Master may place him upon “probation”, which means that
for some time he will remain under very close observation. The Master makes
what is called a “living image” of the probationary pupil, i.e., an exact duplicate of
the man's causal, mental, astral and etheric bodies. This image He keeps in a
place where He can easily reach it, and He places it in magnetic rapport with the
man, so that every modification of thought or feeling in the man's own vehicles is
faithfully reproduced in the image. These images are examined daily by the
Master, who in this way obtains with the least possible trouble a perfectly
accurate record of His prospective pupil's thoughts and feelings, and from this He
is able to decide when He can take him into the far closer relationship of the next
stage — that of the accepted pupil.

When a pupil is “accepted”, the living image is dissolved, and the pupil is taken
into his Master's consciousness to so great an extent that whatever the pupil
feels or thinks is within the astral and mental bodies of his Master.

Should, unfortunately, a thought come into the [Page 253] mind of the pupil which
is not fit to be harboured by the Master, He at once erects a barrier and shuts off
from Himself that vibration.

The effect produced by this wonderfully close association is the harmonising and
attuning of the pupil's vehicles. The pupil thus becomes a kind of outpost of the
Master's consciousness, so that the strength of the Great Ones may be poured
out through him, and the world may be definitely the better for his presence in it.
When the pupil sends a thought of devotion to his Master, it is as though a valve
were opened: there is a tremendous downflow of love and power from the
Master, the Master's power flowing ever outwards and in all directions like the

The pupil is so closely in touch with the Master's thought that he can at any time
see what that thought is upon any given subject, and in that way he is often
saved from error. The Master can, moreover, at any moment send a thought
through the pupil either in the form of a suggestion or a message.

An accepted pupil has the right and the duty to bless in the Master's name.

The use by a Master of His pupil's body must on no account be confused with
ordinary spiritualistic mediumship, as the condition is a totally different one. The
highest form of spiritualistic control may possibly more or less approximate to the
relation between a Master and His pupil, but probably this is very rarely reached,
and hardly ever completely.

The difference between the two phenomena is fundamental, the two conditions
being as wide as the poles asunder. In mediumship a person is passive, and lays
himself open to the influence of any astral entity who happens to be in the
neighbourhood. When under the influence he is usually unconscious and he
remembers nothing when he awakes from his trance. His state is really one of
temporary obsession. Even the spirit-guide, who is generally present, is
sometimes unable to protect the medium from undesirable or even disastrous
influences. [Page 254]

When, on the other hand, a Master chooses to speak through one of His pupils,
the pupil is fully conscious of what is being done, and knows perfectly to Whom
he is for the moment lending his vocal organs. He stands aside from his vehicle,
but remains keenly alert and watchful. He hears every word that is uttered
through him, and remembers everything clearly. There is nothing in common
between the two cases except that in both of them the body of one man is
temporarily used by another.

The third stage is one of even more intimate union, when the pupil becomes a
“son” of the Master, the ego of the pupil in the causal body being enfolded within
that of the Master.

This union is so close and so sacred that even the power of the Master cannot
undo what has been done, to the extent of separating the two consciousnesses
even for a moment. Naturally before this stage is reached, the Master must have
been quite certain that nothing can arise in the mind or astral body of the pupil
which will ever need to be shut off.

These relationships — Probation, Acceptance and Sonship — have of course

nothing whatever to do with Initiations or steps on the Path. These latter are
tokens of the man's relation, not to his Master, but to the Great White
Brotherhood and its august Head. All these matters are dealt with far more fully
than is possible or desirable here in The Masters and the Path, by C. W.
Leadbeater, a book of immeasurable value to the serious student of White

Before, however, leaving the subject, it may be mentioned that at Initiation, the
Monad identifies himself with the ego, this act having an interesting effect on the
astral body: a great rhythmical swing is given to it, without disturbing the stability
of its equilibrium, so that it is able thenceforth to feel with far greater keenness
than before, without being shaken from its base, or escaping from its owner's

Pupils will be employed by their Masters in many different ways. Some are set to
take up the lines of [Page 255] work which were indicated in the preceding chapter
on Invisible Helpers: others are employed specifically in assisting the Masters
personally in some piece of work which They may have undertaken. Some are
set astrally to deliver lectures to less developed entities, or to help and teach
others who are free temporarily during sleep, or who are living their after-death
When a pupil falls asleep he usually reports himself to his Master. If there
happens to be nothing special for him to do, he will pursue his usual nocturnal
work, whatever that may be. There is always plenty of astral work to be done:
sudden catastrophes, for example, throw out a large number of people into the
astral plane in a condition of terror, and in need of help. Most of the training in
astral work is usually given by one of the older pupils of the Master.

The student must not confuse an ordinary astral body with a Mâyâvi Rûpa, or
“body of illusion”. A pupil of the Masters habitually leaves his astral body with the
physical when he goes to sleep, and travels in his mental body. When he needs
a temporary astral body for astral work he materialises one from the surrounding
matter. Such a body may or may not resemble the physical body, the form given
to it being adapted to the purpose in hand. It may also be made physically visible
or invisible at will: it may be made indistinguishable from a physical body, warm
and firm to the touch, as well as visible and able to carry on a conversation like
an ordinary human being. Only Masters and Their pupils have the power to form
true Mayavi Rupas, this power being acquired at or near the Second Initiation. An
advantage of using the Mayavi Rupa is that it is not subject to deception and
glamour on the astral plane, as is the astral body.

When a man functions in the mental vehicle and leaves his astral body behind
him in a condition of suspended animation, along with the physical, he can, if
necessary, easily surround the torpid astral body with a shell, or he can set up
vibrations which render it impervious to all evil influences. [Page 256]

In the lesser mysteries of Ancient Greece, celebrated at Agrar, the principal

teaching concerned the astral plane and the astral life after death. The official
dress of the initiates was the skin of a fawn, the spotted appearance of which
was thought to be emblematical of the colours of an ordinary astral body.
Originally the teacher produced out of astral and etheric matter images
representing what, in the astral world, would be the results of certain modes of
physical life. Later, the teachings were represented in other ways, by a kind of
play or drama, the parts being taken by the priests, or even by puppets
mechanically moved.

The initiates had a number of proverbs or aphorisms peculiar to themselves,

some of which were very characteristic: thus: “Death is life, and life is death“ was
one: another was: “ Whosoever pursues realities during life will pursue them after
death: whosoever pursues unrealities during this life will pursue them also after

The Greater Mysteries, celebrated at Eleusis, dealt with the mind-body and the
mental plane, the golden fleece of Jason being the symbol of the mental body.

Another of the symbols used in the mysteries was the Thyrsus, a staff with a pine
cone on its top: frequently it was said to be filled with fire. In India a bamboo with
seven knots is used. The Thyrsus was magnetised by the priest and laid against
the spinal column of the candidate, thus giving him some of the priest's
magnetism and helping the candidate to pass in full consciousness to the astral
plane. The fire symbolised kundalini.

The Southern Buddhists enumerate five psychic powers which may be gained by
the man who is making progress on the Path, (1) The ability to pass through the
air and through solid objects, and to visit the heaven-world while still physically
alive. This may perhaps mean nothing more than ability to function freely in the
astral body, the heaven-world mentioned being perhaps merely the higher levels
of the astral plane. (2) Divinely clear hearing, this is evidently [Page 257] the astral
faculty of clairaudience. (2) The ability to comprehend and sympathise with all
that is in the minds of others: this appears to be thought-reading, or telepathy. (4)
The power to remember former births. This is clearly a faculty of the higher
mental or causal body. (5) Divinely clear vision, i.e., clairvoyance. In some lists
there is added also the deliverance by wisdom, which means the attainment of
freedom from re-birth. This-is clearly a very high attainment and scarcely seems
to belong to the same category as the other powers enumerated. [Page 258]



Although there are at present relatively few who possess direct, personal
knowledge of the astral world, its life and its phenomena, yet there are many
reasons for believing that this small group, of those who know these things from
their own experience, is rapidly growing and is likely to be very largely increased
in the near future.

Psychic faculty, especially among children, is becoming less and less rare: as it
gradually becomes accepted, and ceases to be regarded as unhealthy or “tabu”,
it is likely to increase both in extent and in intensity. Thus, for example, books
have recently been published, and widely read, dealing with nature-spirits, better
known as fairies, and showing even photographs of these dainty creatures and
their work in the economy of nature: whilst any open-minded enquirer will
experience little difficulty in finding people, young and old, who frequently see
fairies, at work and at play, as well as many other entities and phenomena of the
astral world.

Again, the enormous vogue of spiritualism has made the astral world and many
of its phenomena objectively real and thoroughly familiar to many millions of
persons in every part of the globe.
Physical science, with its ions and electrons, is on the threshold of the astral
world, while the researches of Einstein and others are rapidly making acceptable
the conception of the fourth dimension, which for so long has been familiar to
students of the astral world.

In the realm of psychology, modern analytical methods give promise of being

able to reveal the true nature of, at any rate, the lower fraction of man's [Page 259]
psychic mechanism, confirming, incidentally some of the statements and
teachings put forward by ancient Eastern books and by Theosophists and
occultists of today. Thus, for example, a well-known author of books on
psychology and psycho-analysis, recently informed the present writer that in his
view the “complex” was identical with the “skandhâra” of the Buddhist system,
while another psychologist of worldwide repute told a friend of the present writer
that his psychological — not psychic — researches had led him irresistibly to the
fact of re-incarnation.

These are some of the indications that the methods of orthodox Western science
are leading to results identical with those which have for ages been common
knowledge in certain parts of the East, and which have, during approximately the
last half-century, been rediscovered by a small group of individuals who, guided
by Eastern teachings, have developed within themselves the faculties necessary
for the direct observation and investigation of the astral (as well as higher)

It would be a platitude to remark that the acceptance by the world in general of

the existence of the astral plane and its phenomena — which cannot be much
longer deferred — will inevitably and immeasurably enlarge and deepen man's
conception of himself and his own destiny, as well as revolutionise his attitude
towards the outer world, including the other kingdoms of nature, physically visible
and invisible. Once a man succeeds in establishing to his own satisfaction the
reality of the astral world, he is compelled to re-orient himself, and to make for
himself a new set of values for the factors which affect his life and determine his

Sooner or later, but inevitably, the broad conception that merely physical things
play a very small part in the life of the human soul and spirit, and that man is
essentially a spiritual being, unfolding his latent powers with the help of the
various vehicles, physical, astral, and other, which from time to time he assumes
— will [Page 260] displace all other viewpoints and lead men to a complete re-
alignment of their lives.

A realisation of his own true nature, of the fact that through life after life on earth,
with interludes in other and subtler worlds, he is steadily evolving and becoming
more and more spiritual, logically and inevitably leads man to see that, if and
when he chooses, he may cease from dallying with life and with drifting on the
broad current of the evolutionary stream, and may instead assume the helm of
his own life-voyage. From this point in the growth of his “awareness” of things,
and of his own inherent possibilities, he will pass to the next stage, where he
approaches the “ancient and narrow” Path, upon which he will find Those Who,
outstripping Their fellows, have achieved the maximum possible in purely human
development. These are They Who, eagerly, yet with limitless patience, wait for
Their younger brothers to come out of the nursery of ordinary worldly life into
Their higher life where, with Their guidance and assisted by Their compassion
and power, man may rise to the stupendous heights of spirituality to which They
have attained, and become in his turn a saviour and helper of mankind, thus
speeding the mighty plan of evolution towards its goal.[Page 261]


A Bewitched Life, 89
Accepted pupil, 252
Accident, death from, 138, 140
Accidents caused by thought, 55
Accident on astral plane, 151
Adaptability, colour of, 12
Adept on astral plane, 169
Adeptship and childhood, 212
Affection, colour of, 12
Agni, 182
Agrar, 256
Airships, 161
Air-spirits, 181, 185
Akâsha, forces of, 247
Akâshic records, 237
Alchemists, 7, 151, 177
- and nature-spirits, 183
- and injury to web, 35
- and man's bodies, 65, 66
Alcoholics on astral plane, 128, 129
- colour of, 12
- intensification of, 39
- after death, 129
Amputation, 8
Amulets, 69
Anandamayakosha, 27
Angels, 186
- guardian, 50, 135
- of the Cardinal Points, 188
-colour of, 11
- effect on web, 35
- flash of, 19
- thought-forms of, 58, 61
Anglican chants, 60
- characteristics in man, 213
- link with, 143, 213
- obsession of, 142
- reincarnating as, 143
- soul, the, 24
- association with men, 76
- astral bodies of, 180
- clairvoyance of, 61
- feelings of, 25
- individualisation of, 76, 240
Annamayakosha, 27
Anthropoid apes, 181
Apogee of moon, 148
Apparitions, 50, 51, 106, 229
Appearance of man after death, 108
Apple-green in aura, 12
Apports, 159, 184
Arhat, bodies of, 16
Arpeggios, form of, 60
Artificial elementals, 45,177,190
Artist on astral plane, 131
Arûpadevas, 187
Aspiration, colour of, 12
Assimilation of experiences, 207
- and buddhic planes, 232
- centres, 225
- current, 234
- currents, 84
- death, 206
- dreams, 99
- entities,
--- artificial, 190
--- human, 168
--- non-human, 176
- light, 155
- Light, the, 51, 247
- matter, grades of, 4
- origin of word, 7
- world, size of, 131
Astrology, rationale of, 9
- airships of, 161
- and spiritualism, 191
-black magicians of, 53
-language of, 191
Âtma, a principle in man, 29
Atmâ-buddhi-manas, 28, 29, 206
Atmosphere on astral plane, 152
- astral matter, 14, 176
- matter, 36
- short-cut, 105
- sub-plane of astral, 150
- sub-planes, 36, 105
- web, 93
Atoms, 5
- line of, 234
- male and female, 5

[Page 262]

-spirillae in, 103
Atrophy of qualities, 211
Attitude of mind after death, 125
Aura, 7, 210
-forming shell round, 102
-of deva, 186
-of metal, stone, etc., 8
-regularity in, 22
Author, reaching thought of, 54
Authors and mental images, 53
Automatism, physical, 91
-colour in aura, 11
-effect on aura, 21
-length of astral life, 131
-man after death, 121
-man's astral body, 15
Awakening on astral plane, 89
-body, obsession of, 142
-physical body, 210
Bach, 59
Bamboo, 7 knotted, 41, 256
Bars in astral body, 11, 21
Base of spine chakram, 31, 38
Beer-houses, 66
Bell-ringing, 180
Benediction (Church service), 233
Between eyebrows chakram, 31
Bhagavan Das, 216
Bhang, 226
Bhûtâtman, 27
Black in aura, 11
Black magic and lower chakrams 31. 39
-and shade, 171
- vampires and werewolves,173
-and Spiritualism, 193
Black magicians of Atlantis, 53
-on astral plane, 170, 174
Blavatsky and spiritualism, 194, 204
Blindness, astral, 231
Bliss sheath, 27
Blood and vampires, 173
Blood, scent of, 66
Bloodhound, baying of, 61
Blue in aura, 12
Blue-green in aura, 12
Body of illusion, 255
Boils, 17
Book seen astrally, 153
Books, word of dead, 135
Bragdon, Claude, 163
Brain dreams, 97
Brain intelligence, 26
Break in consciousness, 93
Breath-control, 226
Bridge, astral body a, 23, 25, 26
Bridge, etheric, 93, 95
Brown-grey in aura, 11
Brownies, 181
Browning, Miss K., 216
Brown-red in aura, 11
Brutality of teacher, 212
Bubbles in koilon, 5
Buddha, aura of, 7
-and thought-forms, 43
-principle in man, 29
-sheath of, 27
Buddhic plane, 232
-vehicle, 103
-and skandhas, 209
-and psychic powers, 256
Butchers' shops, 66
Butchery of animals, 181

Cage of thoughts, 47
California, 230
Calmness, 249
Capital punishment, 139
Captain Kettle, 64
Carnivorous diet, 65
Casting out the Self, 167
Castor and Pollux, 238
Catalepsy, 173
Catastrophes, 243
Cat's purring, 61
Causal body,
-and lower vibrations, 72
-effect of astral on, 14
-entangled with astral, 207
-gaps in, 14
-luminosity, 14
-of Master, 203
-other bodies resemble, 16
-power of magnification, 33
Cells, consciousness of, 97
Centre of consciousness, 79
Centres, astral, 225
Cerebro-spinal system, 225
Ceremonial magic, 169
Chakrams, 31, 79
-and fourth dimension, 165
-and memory of astral life, 93
Chamber of horrors, 51
Change of particles in astral body, 129
Charlemagne, 218
Charms, 226
Chatter, silly, 61
Chatur Maharajas, 188
Cheerfulness, 13
Chemical affinity, 25
Chicago, 229
Child, aura of, 17
-and city life, 62
-dead, 185
-dying young, 141
-mental body of, 211
-on astral plane, 90
-terror of, 74
Chinese, 63
Chladni's sound plate, 60
Chord, mystic plate, 237
Cities, life in, 17, 62, 67
Clairaudience, 236
-danger of, 228
-in space and time, 234
-not unmixed blessing, 227
-reliable, 230
-untrained, 230
Cleanliness, 67
-and astral plane, 152
-and occult work, 230
Clinging to physical life, 126,141
Closed curves, 56
Coarse astral body, 120
Coarse bodies, 64
Cocaine, 66
Coffee, 35, 67
Coils in astral body, 18
Coins, 70
Collective emotion, 219
Collision on astral plane, 151
Colour-language, 22, 186
Colourless man after death, 126
-meaning of, 11
-of thought and emotion, 43, 46
-position of, 13
-quality of, 7
Communicating entities, 199
Communication on astral plane, 34, 156
Composition of astral body, 6
Concrete thoughts, 45
Consciousness, physical, in dreams, 97
Consciousness, unbroken, 87
Continuity of consciousness, 87, 95. 104
Control of astral body, 78
Control of thought, 102
Controls, spiritualistic, 192
Conversion, religious, 74
Convaulions, 55
Conway. Sir Martin, 217
-astral, 171, 208
-physical, 126
Correspondence of sub-planes, 72
Cosmic planes, 105
-after death, 107
-composition of, 7
-during sleep, 83
-quality, 64
-of books, 150
-of child, 210
-of developed man, 85
-of objects, 8
-of objects, moving, 152
-of physical world, 118
-of rock, 153
-of undeveloped man, 152
-re-arrangement of, 109
-seeing, 114
Cow, lowing of, 61
Cravings after death, 127
Cremation, 126, 173
Criminals, 149
Crimson in aura, 12
Critical state of matter, 122
Crowd-compeller, 218
Crowd-consciousness, 55, 218
Crowd-exponent, 219
Crowd in Peace and War, 217
Crowd-leaders, 220
Crowd, psychological, 218
Crowd psychology, 217
Crowd-representative, 219
Crowds, living amongst, 17
Crystal-gazing, 226
Crystal, nature of, 235
Cruelty, karma of, 214
Cunning, colour of, 12
Curiosity, colour of, 58
Currents, astral, 84, 152
Curses come home to roost, 49
Cycle of life and death, 117

DEATH, 107
-appearance after, 108
-astral, 206
-usually painless, 107
Death-warnings, 52
Decaying food, 65
Deceit, colour of, 12
Delirium tremens, 36, 66, 225
Demons, 141
Densest astral matter, 149
Density of gas, 165
-barrier to progress, 74
-causes of, 73
-colour of, 12, 21
-must be eliminated, 249

[Page 264]

Dervishes, 226
Desire and will, 24
Desire-elemental, 6, 10, 77, 107
-dominance by, 73
-final struggle with, 207
Desire, killing out, 222
Destruction of thought-forms, 63
Devachan, 206
-communicating with, 199
-giving up, 174
Devarâjas, 187
Devas, 186
-link with, 27
-number of, 60
-work of, 239
Developed man, astral body of, 15
Devotion, colour of, 12
Devotional thought-form, 57
Dhritarâshtra, 188
Dhruvam, 109
Diet, 65
Direct voice, 241
Dirt, 67
Discipleship, 252
Discriminating sheath, 27
Discrimination, 248
Disintegration, 158, 166
-of astral body, 109, 126, 136
-of key, 158
Disraeli, 218
Distance thoughts travel, 44, 50
Divine memory, 155, 237
Djinns, 181
Doctor after death, 135
Dog barking, 61
Dog-faced man, 214
Dominating mind of another, 245
Doves, cooing of, 61
Dozing consciousness, 180
Dramatisation by ego, 97, 101
Dread, inexplicable, 229
Dream consciousness, 103
Dreams, 93
-and astral work, 96
-astral, 99
-brain, 97
-changing, 96
-confused, 97
-controlling, 96
-ego, 100
-etheric brain, 97
-how produced, 96
-modification of, 95
-symbols in 102
-vague, 93
-vivid, 94
-warning, 101
Drink craving, 100
Drugs, 66, 226
-after death, 127, 129, 149
-and rebirth, 211
Drunkenness, dreams of, 100
Dvesha, 216
Dweller on threshold, 213
Dying young, 125

EARTH-BOUND persons, 144

Earth elemental essence, 159
Earthquakes, 55
Economy of effort, 248
Egg shape of aura, 13
Eidophone, 60
Eighth sphere, 173
Einstein, 258
-affected by thoughts, 14
-and desires, 29
-and kundalini, 41
-and personality, 28
-asleep, 100
-consciousness of, 101
-direct action of, 91
-dramatisation by, 97, 101
-dreams, 100
-hold on vehicles, 212
-measure of time and space, 101
of medium, 200
prevision of, 101
symbols used by, 102
withdrawal of, 117, 118, 126, 136, 198, 206, 208
Electrical disturbances, 159
Electrons, 5
Elemental essence, 176
- and heat, 159
- and re-birth, 210
- and talismans, 69
- appearance of, 146
- earth, 159
- evolution of, 108
- in astral body, 6, 76
- in thought-forms, 44
- responsiveness of, 45
Elemental kingdom, third, 6
Elemental kingdoms, 176
Elemental self, 27
Elementals, 190
- artificial, 45
- from astral body, 71
- like a storage battery, 51
- of air and water, 161
- of alchemists, 177
- of fire, 162
Elementary, 66, 145
Eleusis, 256
Elizabeth, Queen, 123

[Page 265]

Elves, 181
Emerald green in aura, 12
Emotion, 24
-collective, 219
Emotion-elements, 216
-genesis of, 217
-intensity of, 86
-mastery of, 215
Entanglement of kâma and manas, 144
Entities, astral, 168, 176, 190
-brain, 97
-brain-dreams, 98
-bridge, 93
-currents, 157
--- and karma, 188
--- and materialisations, 174
--- and re-birth, 211
--- principle in man, 29
---pressure, 157, 158
---shell after death, 141
Evocation, 185, 187, 236
-dangers of, 74
on astral plane, 248
Explosion on astral plane, 151
Ezekiel. 188

-astral, 79
-latent, 80
Fairies, 181
Falling in love, 20
-nervous, 67
-not in astral body, 82, 114
-not in mental body, 82
Fauns, 181, 186
Fawn, skin of, 256
-colour of, 12
-on astral plane, 89
Feet, emanations of, 67
Fidgetiness, 62
Fiery Power, 38
-Root race, 80
-round, 80
-sub-plane, 134, 149
Film on astral body, 19
-elementals, 162
-handling, 162
-production of, 162
First sub-plane, 149, 150
Five dimensions, 165
Flash of anger, 19
Fleece of Jason, 256
Flesh food, 65, 66, 183
Floating thought-forms, 55
Flower-like forms, 57
Flowers in worship, 57
Flush in astral body, 19
Flute, 58
F note, 63
Focus of consciousness, 79, 81,110
Fohat, 38
Food, 64, 65
Food, not for astral body, 10,129
Food-sheath, 27
Force-centres, 31
Forcing development, 226
Forests, influence of, 67
Four dimensions, 31, 59
Four-dimensional globe, 164
Fourth dimension, 163
Fourth Dimension, The, 163
-root race, 80, 172, 225
-round, 80
-spirillae, 103
-sub-plane, 134, 149
Freedom on astral plane, 130
Freewill, 29
Functions of astral body, 23
Fussiness, 62
GAMBOGE in aura, 12
Gandharvas, 188
Genesis of emotions, 217
Genius, flashes of, 105
Geometrical thought-forms, 58
Geometry, 166
Ghosts, 51
Giggles, nervous, 62
-on astral plane, 153
-of nature-spirits, 182
Glutton after death, 129
Gnomes, 181
Gnyânam, 216
Goblins, 181
Going to sleep, thought before, 85, 88, 96, 103, 250
Gold in aura, 12
Golden age, 179
Golden crowns, 150
Good and evil,
-effect of, 71
-how stored, 72
” Good People,” 181
Gorilla-like thought-form, 63
Gravitation and astral matter, 147
Gravity, neutralising, 161
Great Tone, the, 63

[Page 266]

Green in aura, 12
Greenish-brown in aura, 11
Gregorian tone, 60
-in aura, 12
-livid, 12, 19
Grey-green in aura, 12
Grief for the dead, 135, 198
Growth of objects, 166
Guardian angels, 50, 135
Guffaw thought-form, 61
Guide, spirit, 142, 192, 253
Gums in incense, 69
Gun-fire, 62
Guru, 203
Gyroscope, 68
-how formed, 47
-of astral body, 71
-of Ignorance, 153
-of Learning, 155
-of Wisdom, 155
Handling fire, 162
Hands, emanations of, 67
Hand-writing, imitating, 160
Happy hunting-grounds, 150
Hardening web, 36
Harmonograph, 60
Haschish, 226
Hate-emotions, 216
Hatha Yoga, 226
Hatred, colour of, 11
Haunted houses, 114, 180
Haunted places, 51
Health, physical, 67
Hearing, astral, 32
Heart chakram, 31
Heaven-world, 118, 206
-apparent, 109
-a figment, 130
Helping by thought, 63
Hermit, 75
Higher manas, 29
Highlands, 51
Himâlayan Brotherhood, 191
Hinton, C. H., 163
Historical events, 54
Hooked thought-forms, 56
Horizontal divisions, 178
Host, The, 232
Hostility of elementals, 229
House, building on astral plane, 115
Hudson, T. J., 220
Human artificials, 191
Hungary, 172
Hypnotism, 48, 221
Hysteria, 74
- and clairvoyance, 225
Idiots, 214
Illusion and astral plane, 153
Images in mental body, 45
Images of pupils, 252
Imaginary cities, etc., 149, 150
Impersonal thought, 43
Incense, 69
Incubi, 141
Indian jugglers, 183
Indigo in aura, 12
-helped by man, 76, 240
-mode of, 123, 124
Individualised animals, 180
Indra, 182
Inflammation, centres of, 17
-qualifications for, 7
-Second, 255
Initiations, 254
Injury to astral body, 151
Insanity, 36, 75, 214
Instigation to crime, 139
Intellect, colour of, 12
Interpenetration, 4, 151
Intervals between lives, 123
Investment of ego, 118, 208
Invisible helpers, 238
Invocation, 185, 226, 236
Iridescence, 16
Irritability in aura, 11, 58
Irritable man, 21
-causes of, 67
-on astral plane, 248

-colour of, 11
-thought-form of, 58
Jewels, 51, 69
Jîva, 27
Joy in aura, 12
Joy of life on astral plane, 94
Jumping on astral plane, 152
KALI, 53
Kâma, 23, 28, 79
- and lower manas, 119
- cause of reincarnation, 209
- reflection of Atma, 24
- transcended, 81
Kâmadevas, 187
Kâmaloka, 116

[Page 267]

Kâma-manas, 26, 27, 28, 29, 45, 78

-freeing from 119
Kâma-rupa, 24
-and re-birth, 210
-on astral plane, 133
Karmic deities, 188
Key, disintegration of, 158
Keynote of man, 236
Killing out
-desire, 222
-love, 223
Knowledge, qualification of, 249
Kobolds, 181
Koilon, bubbles in, 5
Kriyâ, 216
Kshetragna, 27
Kshiti, 182
Kumbhandas, 188
Kundalini, 32, 38, 104, 256
Kung, 63

LAKE Regillus, Battle of, 238

-on astral plane, 34, 134, 156, 250
-on mental plane, 34
Latent faculties, 80
Laughter, thought-forms of, 61, 62
Laukika method, 226
Law of Psychic Phenomena, 220
Layers of consciousness, 91
Leadbeater and Spiritualism, 194
Length of astral life, 124
-average, 131
Levitation, 161
Leyden jar, thought-forms like, 45, 63
Life-term, appointed, 139, 140
Light, destructive effects of, 160
-on astral plane, 152
Lilac-blue in aura, 12
Limbus, 116
Lines in astral body, 12, 18, 21
Links between bodies, 104
Lipika, 188
Liver, 25
Logos, astral body of, 9
Lokottara method, 227
Loosening of principles, 106
- of Karma, 211
-of the dark face, 53
-of Venus, 80
Loss of the soul, 144
Lost souls, 208
Lotus and solar system, 167
-killing out, 223
-qualification of, 250
-selfish, colour of, 12
-unselfish, colour of, 12
Love-emotions, 216
-chakrams, 31, 39
-manas, 28, 29
--- and Kâma, 119
-part of aura, 13
-psychism, 225
-self, 26
-quaternary, 23
Luminosity of astral matter, 152
Lunar form, slaying, 223
Lunatics, 214

MAGICAL ceremonies, 89, 179

Magnetised objects, 68
Magnification, 33, 235
Mahat, 29
Malice, colour of, 11
Manas, 29
Manas and Kâma, 78, 119
Manas, projection from, 28, 29
Manomayakosha, 27
Mantrams, 158
Manu, 27
Mass, Christian, 232
Mass effect of thoughts, 54
Masses for the dead, 136
-causal body of, 203
-communication from, 202
-consciousness of, 253
-impersonation of, 203
-meditation on, 57
-work of, 239
Masters and the Path, 254
Mastery of emotion, 215
Materialisation, 159
-by drunkard, 128
-of astral body, 106
-of thought-form, 50
-varieties of, 241
Materialism, breaking down, 196
Materialists on astral plane, 150
Mâyâvirûpa, 236, 255
Meals on astral plane, 115
-and psychic development, 231
-and shell to protect, 76
-on Master, 57
-opens up channel, 246
-thought-forms of, 58

[Page 268]

Medium's ego, 201

-and trance, 92, 106
-communication through, 134, 136
-passing into astral body, 91
Mediumship, 226
-not a power, 227
-of astral life, 35, 37, 92, 93,104
-of past lives, 105
-on astral plane, 90, 153
Mendelssohn, 59
Mental body,
-affected by emotion, 20
-astral body resembles, 16
-consciousness, 103
-of child, 211
-used by pupils, etc., 170
Mental matter, entanglement of, 108
-unit, 209
Mesmeric action of thought, 50, 229
-akin to glamour, 182
-to stimulate psychism, 226, 235
-to waken man on astral plane, 90
Metals, transmutation of, 162
Metaphysical thought, 58
Military music, 60
Mineral monad, 108
Minerals, kâma in, 25
Minification, 33
Minor vampires, 172, 201
Miser, 21
Mohammedan fanatic, 141
Moment of death, 107
Monad, 41
-and ego, 254
-powers of, 167
Monadic essence, 6, 176
Monads, animal, vegetable, etc., 176
Money, 70
Monsters, 214
Moods, 73
Moon-men, 124
Moon's orbit, 148
Morality of thought, 63
Mountains, influence of, 67
Mourning, injurious, 135, 198
-of astral particles, 8,15,34,113
- of astral objects, 151
Murderer after death, 130, 139
-and nature-spirits, 183
- forms, 58
learning on astral plane, 132
on astral plane, 131
Musk, 70
Mysteries, Ancient, 65, 256
Mystic chord, 237
Mysticism and fourth dimension, 167
Myths, ancient, 129

NAGAS, 188
Napoleon, 218
Narcotics, 35
National thoughts, 54
Nature-spirits, 181
- and coarse vibrations, 73
- and dirt, 67
- and music, 59
- and spiritualism, 180, 201
- as invisible helpers, 238
- ensouling thought-forms, 53, 55
-faculties of, 166
-glamour of, 182
-higher types, 189
-irresponsible, 184
-playing with children, 185
-seeking sensation, 74
Navel chakram, 31, 32
Nervous diseases, 17, 66
New Jerusalem, 150
Nimbus, 17
Nirmânakâyas, 57, 175, 202, 247
Nirvâna, 175
Noises, 62, 67
Novelist after death, 135

OBEAH, 170, 172

Objective mind, 221
-and mediumship, 253
-and religious revivals, 74
-and sleep, 91
-and web, 35, 36
-by desperate entity, 198
-by drunkard, 128
-by nature-spirit, 186
-by sensualist, 128
-of drunkards, 66
-of mediums, 142
-resisting, 128
-through loss of control, 73
Obstacles on astral plane, 151
Ocean influences, 67
Odours, 127
Ointments, 227
One-pointedness, 247
Open curves, 56
Opium, 66, 67
Optimism, 249

[Page 269]

Orange in aura, 12
Orchestra, music-form mode by, 53
Ordinary man after death, 123
Organ, church, 58'
Ossification of web, 36
Ouspensky, P. D., 163, 165
-of astral body, 6, 7, 13
-of thought-form, 46
Outpourings, 176

-control of, 87
-on astral plane, 87
-produces repulsion, 216
Painters, 53
Paradise, 150
Paralysis of astral body, 128
Parents and children, 212
Parrot scream, 61
Particles, rapid movement of, 8, 15, 34, 113
Passage through matter, 159
Passions and kâma, 23
Passivity of physical body, 224
Pavana, 182
Pearls, a dream symbol, 102
Perigee of moon, 148
Peris, 181
Permanent atoms, 222
-and lower thoughts, 14
-and re-birth, 209
-at end of astral life, 207
-evil stored in, 72, 100
-of Nirmânakâyas, 175
Peroulums, 60
Personality, the, 26, 29
Perspective and astral sight, 154
Philanthropist on astral plane, 132
-consciousness, 97
-elemental, 82
-life, 64
Physician in sleep-life, 86
Piano music-forms, 58
Pictures, precipitation of, 161
Pig-faced man, 214
Pineal gland, 33
Pishachas, 141
Pituitary body
-and alcohol, 66
-and astral consciousness, 105
-and memory of astral life, 93
-and top of head chakram, 33
-link with astral body, 41
Pixies, 181
-influences, 9
-spirits, 187
-astral, 9
-joined four-dimensionally, 167
Plants, feeling in, 25
Plasticity of vehicles, 212
Pleasure and genesis of emotions, 216
Pleasures of astral life, 132
Poet, thought-forms of, 59
Pole to pole currents, 157
Politics and crowd-psychology 219
Population of astral world, 131
Potential energy, 157
-a force from Logos, 38
-a principle of man, 23, 29
-and kâma, 24
-and spleen chakram, 32
-sheath of, 27
-special type in web, 36
Prânâmâyakosba, 27
Prânayama, 226
-answers to, 57, 246
-for the dead, 136
Precious stones, 69
Precipitation, 160
Pressure of thoughts, 7
Preta, 116
Pretaloka, 116
Prevision, 101
-colour of, 12
-satanic, 39
Primrose yellow in aura, 12
Principles in man, 23, 29
-fitting tightly, 91
-loosening of, 106
Probationary pupil, 252
Problem-solving in sleep, 94
Production of fire, 162
-of astral body, 106
-of thought-form, 50, 236
Protective thought, 49, 56
Protection against thoughts, 4
Protestantism, 117
-after death, 138
-faculties, 12
--- developing, 224
--- on astral plane, 169
-and spirituality, 224
-lower and higher, 225
- spasmodic, 227
[Page 270]

Psychology, modern, 259

Psychometer, 237
Public opinion, 219
-awaiting incarnation, 171
-awaking on astral plane, 88
-on astral plane, 169, 170
-work of, 254
Purgatory, 117, 127
Purification of bodies, 215
Pyramids, how built, 161

-for initiation, 7
-for the Path, 247
Quality of astral body, 120
Quaternary, 28, 29, 144
Queen Elizabeth, 123
Queen Victoria, 123

Radiating thought-vibrations, 43,56
Râga, 216
Railway engine screech, 62
Râjasic foods, 65
Râja Yoga, 227
-Yogi, 65
Rates of vibration in astral body, 14, 16
Ray of manas, 28, 29
Rays, 10, 178
Rearrangement of astral body, 108
-breaking up, in, 244
Re-birth, 209
Rebounding thought-form, 49
Records of astral light, 155
Red in aura, 11
Reduplication, 160
Refinement of bodies, 64
Regents of the Earth, 188
Regularity of aura, 22
-and kâma-manas, 26
-and spiritualism, 196
-in animal, 213
-excitement, 74
-man, 21
” Remainers,” 144
Remorse after death, 129, 245
Repentance, 52
Repercussion, 242
-and sympathetic vibration, 162
-injuries through, 173
-on physical brain, 94
Replica of physical world, 113
Reproduction of thoughts, 50
Reservoir of spiritual force, 57
Responsibility of thought, 63
Restfulness of astral life, 117
Reversal on astral plane, 154
Review of life at death, 107
Revival, religious, 74
Rhythmic foods, 65
Rifle-fire, 62
Rippling of astral body, 13
Rising through sub-planes, 109
Robinson Crusoe, 54
Rock seen astrally, 154
Roman Catholic Church, 117
Rose-colour in aura, 12
Rudraksha berry, 69
Rûpadevas, 187
Rush of feeling, 18
Russia, 172

SACHET powder, 70
St. James, 238
St. Joseph of Cupertino, 161
St. Martin, 144
St. Paul, 77, 167
St. Teresa, 161
Salamanders, 181
Satvic foods, 65
Satyrs, 39, 181, 186
-astral body of, 15
-while asleep, 84
Scales, musical, 60
Scarlet in aura, 11
-imaginary, 149, 150
-on astral plane, 134
Scents, 69
Schiller, 227
Science of the Emotions, 216
Scientific man, astral body of, 21
Scientific Romances, 163
Scientist on astral plane, 131,150
Scribe Ani, 148
Sea-waves, 61
-sight, 225
-sub-plane, 134, 149, 150
-Outpouring, 6
Self-centred thoughts, 47
Self-control, 248
Self-hypnotism, 226
-religionist, 150
-thoughts, 56
Selfishness, colour of, 11
-and astral matter, 6
-and kâma, 23, 24
-and prâna, 24
Sense centres, 25
Senses, astral, 34

[Page 271]

Sensualist after death, 127, 149

Sensuality, colour of, 11
Separateness, heresy of, 26
Serpent fire, 32, 38
Serpent of desire, 223
Seven Rays, The, 24
Seventh sub-plane
-and sudden death, 138, 140
- description of, 148
- locality of, 147
- type of inhabitant, 133, 149
Sex and nature spirits, 184
Shade, 170
-and re-birth, 213
-and spiritualism, 200
Shadows on astral plane, 152
Shakespeare's characters, 54
Shape of objects, disintegrated, 158
Sheaths of man, 27
Sheep, baaing of, 61
Shell, 171
-and re-birth, 213
-and spiritualism, 200
-during meditation, 76
-during sleep, 102, 255
-of thought, 80
-vitalised, 141
Sherlock Holmes, 54
Shield, atomic, 35
Shipwrecks, prevention of, 240
Shock, effect of, 35
Short-cut, atomic, 105
Shrâddha, 136
Siddhis, 33
Sight, astral, 153
Single-mindedness, 247
Sisyphus, 129
Sitting for development, 37
Six-dimensional world, 165
Sixth sub-plane, 133, 134, 147, 149
Size of astral body, 7
-of thought-forms, 45, 50
Skandhas, 199, 209
Slate writing, 161
-cause of, 82
-going to, 83
-of astral body, 84
-of average man, 85
-of developed man, 85
-of undeveloped man, 85
-on astral plane, 153
-surroundings in, 83
-thought before going to, 85, 88, 96, 103, 250
-work during, 88
Sleeping through astral life, 122
Sleep-life, 82
Sleep-walking, 91
Smell on astral plane, 128
Socrates, death of, 139
Solar plexus, 13
Soldiers killed in battle, 141
Some Occult Experiences, 164
Somnambulism, 91, 221
Song of birds, 61
Sons of God, 186
Sonship, 254
Sorcerers, 169
Specific gravity of astral matter, 14,19
Spells, 158
Spine, 40, 41
Spiral course of kundalini, 38, 40
-guide, 142, 192, 253
-hands, 161
-lights, 161, 184
-photographs, 241
Spiritualism, 194
-achievements of, 195
-and reincarnation, 196
-dangers of, 195, 198, 204
-history of, 191
-objections to, 197
Spiritualistic phenomena, 183
Spirituality, colour of, 12
Spleen, 25
-chakram, 31
Spooks, 200
Sport, 181
Stars in aura, 12
Stella, 166
Sthûla Sharira, 24
Stonehenge, how built, 161
Stone throwing, 115, 180
Storms, cause of, 55
” Strong Body,” 109
Study in Consciousness, 207
Study on astral plane, 132, 151
Sub-conscious mind, 221
Sub-divisions of astral plane, 147
Sub-lunar world, 148
Sub-planes, correspondence of, 72
Sub-types, 10
Subjective mind, 221
Succubae, 141
Sudden death, 138, 141, 172
-rush of feeling, 18
Suffering on astral plane, 87
” Suffering Body,” 109
Suggestion, 221
Suicide, 138, 139, 141, 172
-not justifiable, 140
Suicides and spiritualism, 198
Summerland, 134, 148, 150
Super-physical forces, 157

[Page 272]

Surprise in aura, 13
Sushupti, 103
Svapna, 103
Symbols, used by ego, 102
Symmetry of aura, 13
- system, 225
- vibration, 232
--- and astral phenomena, 157
--- and projected thought-form, 236
---and repercussion, 162, 242
Sympathy, colour of, 12

-linked, 69
Tamasic foods, 65
Tantalus, 129
Tea, 35, 67
Teacher, association with, 74
Telescope, astral, 235
Temperature and occult work, 230
Tempters on astral plane, 141
Tempting ” devils,” 47
Tendencies in permanent atoms, 207
-after death, 116, 138
-colour of, 19
Tertium Organum, 163, 165
Tesseract, 164
Test of earth, etc., 151, 228, 247
Test phenomena, 247
Theatre, counterpart of, 133
Theine, 67
Third sub-plane, 134, 148, 149
Thought-control, 102
-currents, 99
-forms, 43
-transference, 34
Throat chakram, 31
Thunderstorm, 61
Thyrsus, 41, 256
Tightness of principles, 91
-and space, for ego, 101
-not fourth dimension, 166
-on astral plane, 125
-spent on sub-planes, 120
Tityus, 129
-and nature-spirits, 183
-and undesirable entities, 66
-deadening effect, 36
-detrimental effects, 65
-effect on astral body, 128
-effect on web, 35
Tongue, meditation in, 33
Top of head chakram, 31, 33
Touching astral objects, 152
Trail of thoughts, 48
-akin to sleep-life, 91
-and Turiya, 103
-of mediums, 106
Transmutation of metals, 162
Travel, benefit of, 67
-in astral body, 32, 86, 236
-in mental body, 236
-higher, 144
-immortal, 206
Trishnâ, 198, 199, 209
Trolls, 181
Tube, astral, 234
Tulsi plant, 69
Turiya, 103
Two-dimensional world, 164
Tyburn, 51
-of essence, 178
-of matter, 9
-men, animals, etc., 10

-in aura, 12
-on astral plane, 154
-in aura, 12
-on astral plane, 154
Unconsciousness after death, 107
Undines, 181
Unit, mental, 209
United thought, 58
Universal mind, 29
Upper part of aura, 13

VAGUE thoughts, 56
Vâishrâvana, 188
Valhalla, 150
Vampires, 52, 172
- minor, 172, 201
Van Manen, J., 164
Varuna, 182
Vegetables and kâma, 25
Vegetarianism, 65
Venus, Lords of, 80,
Versatility, colour of, 12
Vertical divisions, 178
Vertigo, 226
Vices, overcoming, 222
Victoria, Queen, 123
Vignânamayakosha, 27
Village gods, 185
Violet in aura, 12
Violin music forms, 58
Virudhaka, 188

[Page 273]

Virûpaksha, 188
Vision, astral, 153
Visitors from other planets, 169
Vitalised shells, 141, 172, 200
Vitality, 12, 23, 29, 32, 36, 38, 67
-sheath, 27
Vivisection, 181
Vivisector on astral plane, 130
Voice of the Silence, 153, 203, 223
Voodoo, 170, 172
Vortices in astral body, 18

Waking another on astral plane, 89
Waking consciousness, 103
Wandering demons, 51
-causes of, 55
-killed in, 141
Warning dreams, 101
Watch seen astrally, 153
Water, a dream symbol, 102
Waterfalls, influence of, 67
Water-sprites, 181
Web, atomic, 35, 93
-injury to, 35, 37
Werewolf, 172
Whirlpools in astral body, 16
Whistling, 62
White auras, 17
-and desire, 24
-directing thought-forms, 44
-on astral plane, 125
-power of, 242
Willing and wishing, 223
Wind, 61
Wine, detrimental effect of, 66
Witchcraft, 227
Withdrawal of ego, 117, 118, 126. 198, 206, 208
-delayed, 136
Wood-gods, 185
World's Mother, 38
Worries in astral body, 17
Worry, to be avoided, 74
Wound in astral body, 62

Yatâna, 108
- in aura, 12
-and nimbus, 17
-ochre in aura, 12
Yoga, 104, 225

Zanoni, 89
by Arthur E. Powell
First published in 1927 by The Theosophical Society


This book, like its two predecessors,

is dedicated with gratitude and appreciation to those
whose painstaking labour and researches
have provided the materials out of which it has been compiled

This is part -1- of -2-

For part 2 click on this line

The next chapters are located in in Part - 2 - of - 2 -



This book is the third of the series dealing with man‘s bodies, its two
predecessors having been The Etheric Body and The Astral Body. In all three,
identically the same method has been followed: some forty volumes, mostly from
the pens of Annie Besant and C.W.Leadbeater, recognised to-day as the
authorities par excellence on the Ancient wisdom in its guise of modern
Theosophy, have been carefully searched for data connected with the mental
body; those data have been classified, arranged and presented to the student in
a form as coherent and sequential as the labours of the compiler have been able
to make it.
Throughout this series no attempt has been made to prove, or even to justify, the
statements made, except in so far as their own internal evidence and
reasonability justify them. The bona fides of these veteran investigators and
teachers being unquestionable, the results of their investigations and their
teachings are here set out, without evasion or reservation of any kind, so far as
possible in their own words, modified and abridged only where necessary to suit
the requirements of an orderly and logical presentation of the subject-matter.
The question of proof is an entirely separate issue, and one, moreover, of vast
dimensions. To have attempted to argue or prove the statements made would
have defeated the primary object of these books, which is to lay before the
serious student a condensed synthesis, within reasonable compass, of the
teachings from the from the sources named regarding the bodies of man and the
planes or worlds to which these belong. Those who desire proofs must search for
them elsewhere.
The fact that, after some two and a half years of intensive study of the writings of
the two authors named, no discrepancies or contradictions, beyond, [xii] literally,
two or three of trifling moment, have been discovered, constitutes a striking
testimonial to the faithfulness in detail of the investigators, and to the coherence
of the Theosophical system.
As in the two preceding volumes, marginal references have been given in order
that the student may, if he wish, verify for himself any statement made at the
original sources. The indices of the series of three books, together with the
marginal references, thus virtually constitute in themselves a fairly complete
index to everything dealing with the etheric, astral, and lower mental worlds in the
writings of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater.
It is hoped that there will be added to the series in due time a fourth volume, on
The Causal Body.
As already mentioned, by far the greater part of the material presented in this
book, has been obtained directly from the writings of Dr. Besant and Bishop
Leadbeater. The works of H. P. Blavatsky are not included in the list of
authorities quoted. To have searched the Secret Doctrine for references to the
Mental Body and the Mental Plane would, frankly have been a task beyond the
powers of the compiler, and would, also, in all probability have resulted in a
volume too abstruse for the class of student for whom this series of books is
intended. The debt to H. P. Blavatsky is greater than ever could be indicated by
quotations from her monumental volumes. Had she not shown the way in the first
instance, later investigators might never have found the trail at all, let alone made
it into a path where others may follow with comparative ease and safety.
A.E. Powell.

Before proceeding to describe in detail the mental body of man, its functions, and
the part it plays in his life and evolution, it will be useful to give a brief outline of
the ground which our study will cover.
First, we shall have to consider the mental body as the vehicle through which the
Self manifests as concrete intellect, in which are developed the powers of the
mind, including those of memory and imagination, and which, in the later stages
of man‘s evolution, serves as a separate and distinct vehicle of consciousness, in
which the man can live and function quite apart from both his physical and his
astral bodies.
At the outset the student must realise quite clearly that in occult psychology the
mental equipment of man is divided into two distinct portions: [a] the mental
body, which deals with particulars, with what are known as concrete thoughts:
eg., a particular book, house, triangle, etc. ; [b] the causal body which deals with
principles, with abstract thoughts: eg., books or houses in general, the principle
of triangularity common to all triangles. The mental body thus deals with rupa or
form-thoughts, the causal body with arupa or formless thoughts. A rough analogy
may be taken from mathematics : arithmetic, dealing with particular numbers,
belongs to the lower form aspect of mind : algebra, which deals with symbols
representing numbers in general, belongs to the higher or formless aspect of
mind. The terms form and formless are, of course, used not in an absolute, but in
a relative sense. Thus a cloud or a flame while possessing form are yet formless
relatively to, say, a house or a log of wood.
Next we shall have to deal with that strange, semi-intelligent, and intensely active
life-substance known as the Mental Elemental Essence, and the part it plays in
helping man to think. The details of the structure and composition of the mental
body will next engage our attention, and this will be followed by a description of
typical examples of mental bodies of men at various stages of development.
A prominent feature in our study will be an examination of Kama-Manas, that
association, or entanglement, between Desire and Thought, in terms of which it
would perhaps be possible to write a history, both of the human race as a whole,
and of every individual man. So intimate, in fact, is this entanglement that some
schools of thought go so far as to class the astral and the mental bodies of man
as one vehicle of consciousness, as indeed they are, for practical purposes, for
the great majority of mankind.
The twofold action of thought in its own world must be described: viz., the
radiation of waves of thought, and the formation, and in many cases the
projection into space, of thought-forms. The effects which these two classes of
phenomena produce on their creators and on other men must be examined when
we come to deal with Thought-Transference, which, for convenience, we shall
consider as Unconscious and as Conscious, the later division including Mental
Healing, of which a brief outline will be given.
It will be necessary to consider the effect which the physical body, and, in fact,
physical surroundings in general, produce on the mental body and its workings;
conversely, we must examine the effects which the mental body produces on the
physical body and on other physical objects.
Then it will be necessary to treat of the astral body in a similar manner: viz., how
it influences the mental body, and how the mental body in its turn influences the
astral body.
Then we shall turn to the mental body itself and show how it operates, how its
faculties may be developed and trained both when working through the physical
brain, and also when it is operating on its own account as an independent vehicle
of consciousness.
This naturally leads us to the more deliberate training of the mental body,
embracing Concentration, that sine qua non of an effective mental life;
Meditation, and finally, Contemplation, leading to mystic consciousness.
The use of the mental body during sleep of the physical body will be briefly dealt
with, and then a short description of that artificial and temporary mental body
known as the ayavi Rupa will be added.
The life after physical and astral death, i.e.,, on the mental plane itself, will next
occupy our attention. This will have to be dealt with at some length, for we have
to study the general principles underlying the course of that mental life and many
of its details. We must further examine shortly typical examples of life on each of
the four lower mental sub-planes, in what the Theosophist calls Devachan, the
Christian ―Heaven‖.
After proceeding so far we shall be in a position to have grasped the reality and
possibilities of the mental plane regarded as a world in itself, and we shall
therefore study is as such a world, examining the nature of the life there, and the
general character of its phenomena.
Amongst all these we shall find the Thought-Centres, which constitute an
interesting and important feature. From these we shall pass to the Akashic
Records, that wonderful and infallible Memory of nature in which everything is
remembered and recorded, so that it may be read by anyone possessing the
necessary qualifications.
A chapter will then be devoted to the inhabitants of the Mental Plane, and then,
as man passes out of the lower mental plane on the death of his mental body, we
shall follow him just sufficiently to gain a glimpse of his wider and fuller life on the
higher mental, or causal plane.
Having thus traced the pilgrimage of the man through physical death [vide The
Etheric Double], his course through the astral plane [vide The Astral Body] and ,
in this volume, followed him to the threshold of his true home, the causal or
higher mental world, we can gain some idea of the relationship between the man
in his three lower vehicles, those of the Personality, and the true man in his
causal body, the Soul or Individuality. This aspect of our study will be dealt with
in the chapter on the Personality and the Ego.
Then we take up the history once again as the man emerges from his ―home‖ on
his descent to re-birth in the lower worlds.
Finally, a chapter will be devoted to the life of the man who has reached the
stage where he is worthy to be accepted as a Chela or Disciple by those masters
of the Wisdom who, as the Elder Brethren of humanity, serve Their younger
brothers with such unerring wisdom, such tireless patience, such never-failing
and infinite love. For it is today within the reach of many a man who will address
himself to the task of making himself worthy, to be trained by Them to assist, in
however small a measure, in Their work for the service of the world, and it is also
possible to set out, more or less categorically, the qualifications necessary before
that inestimable privilege can be conferred.

Before we can study fruitfully the mental body, either as to its composition,
structure, or methods of functioning, it is necessary to describe [though in
general outline only] what is known as Mental Elemental Essence.
The student will recollect that after the formation of the atomic states of matter in
each of the planes of nature, the Third Aspect of the Trinity [the Holy Spirit the
Life giver, in Christian terminology] pours Himself down into the sea of virgin
matter [the true Virgin Maria] and, by His vitality, awakens the atomic matter to
new powers and possibilities, resulting in the formation of the lower sub-divisions
of each plane.
Into matter thus vivified the Second great Outpouring of the Divine Life descends;
again in Christian terminology, the Son is ―incarnated of the Holy Ghost and the
Virgin Mary‖.
This Outpouring of the Divine Life is called by various names at various stages of
Its descent. Regarded as a whole it is often spoken of as a Monadic essence,
more especially when clothed only in atomic matter of the various planes,
because it has then become fit to be used to supply permanent atoms to
When it ensouls non-atomic, i.e., molecular matter, it is called Elemental
Essence a name, borrowed from mediaeval occultists; it was bestowed by
them on the matter of which the bodies of the nature-spirits were composed,
for they spoke of these as ―Elementals‖.
When on its downward course it energises the matter of the three higher levels
of the mental plane, it is known as the First Elemental Kingdom.
After spending a whole Chain Period in that evolution, it descends to the four
lower levels of the mental plane, and there ensouls the Second Elemental
Kingdom for another Chain period: here it is known as Mental Elemental
The next Chain Period is spent on the astral plane, where it is called the Third
Elemental Kingdom, or Astral Elemental Essence.
[A Chain Period is the time occupied by the passage of the life-wave seven
times round the seven globes of a Chain. There are thus forty-nine globe or world
periods in each Chain Period. For further details, see A Textbook of Theosophy
by C. W. Leadbeater.]
Each of these three is a kingdom of nature, as varied in manifestations of its
different forms of life as are the animal and vegetable kingdoms, with which we
are more familiar. Moreover, on each kingdom there are, of course, the usual
seven perfectly distinct types or ―rays‖ of essence, each with its seven sub-types.
Both Mental and Astral Elemental Essence are intimately connected with
man, with his bodies and his evolution, as we shall see more clearly as we
proceed with our study of his mental body.
It is important to realise that both on the astral and mental planes, elemental
essence is quite distinct from the mere matter of those planes.
Another point of great importance is that the life animating both mental and astral
matter is upon the downward or outward arc of evolution: progress for it,
therefore means to descend into denser forms of matter, and to learn to express
itself through them.
For man, evolution is just the opposite of this: he has already sunk deeply into
matter, and is now rising out of it towards his source. There is consequently a
constant conflict of interests between the man within, and the life inhabiting
the matter of his various vehicles. The full bearing of this supremely important
fact we shall see more clearly in later chapters, as our subject unfolds.

The mental body is built of particles of the four lower sub-divisions of the mental
world, i.e.,, of mental matter which corresponds to the four lower sub-divisions
of astral matter, and to solid, liquid, gaseous and etheric matter of the
physical plane.
The three higher grades of mental matter are used to build the Causal, or Higher
Mental Body, with which we are not here concerned.
In addition to ordinary mental matter, the mental body contains also mental
elemental essence, i.e.,, matter of the Second Elemental Kingdom.
The physical body, as we know, is built up of cells, each of which is a tiny
separate life animated by the Second Outpouring, which comes from the Second
Aspect of the Deity. The same thing applies in the astral and mental bodies. In
the cell life which permeates them there is as yet nothing in the way intelligence
but there is a strong instinct pressing downwards into matter, as we saw in the
preceding chapter.
The shape of the mental body is ovoid, following that ovoid section of the causal
body which alone of its characteristics can manifest in the lower worlds. The
matter of the mental body, however, is not evenly distributed through out the egg.
In the midst of the ovoid is the physical body, which strongly attracts astral
matter: in its turn the astral matter strongly attracts mental matter. Consequently
by far the greater part of the matter of both astral and mental bodies is
gathered within the physical frame. To clairvoyant sight, therefore, the mental
body appears as built of dense mist, of the shape of the physical body, and
surrounded by an ovoid of much finer mist. For this reason, in the mental world
an acquaintance is just as recognisable as in the physical world.
The portion of the mental body which projects beyond the periphery of the
physical body forms the mental ―aura‖.
The size of both the astral and mental bodies is the same as that of the causal
body, or more accurately of the section of the causal body on the lower planes.
Thus, unlike the physical body, which has remained substantially the same size
since Atlantean days, the mental body grows in size as the man himself
The particles of the mental body are in ceaseless motion. Moreover, they are
constantly changing ,the mental body automatically drawing to itself, from the
general storehouse, matter that can maintain the combinations already existing
in it.
In spite of the intensely rapid motion of the mental particles among themselves,
the mental body has yet at the same time a kind of loose organisation. There are
in it certain striations which divide it more or less irregularly into segments, each
of these corresponding to a certain department of the physical brain, so that
every type of thought should function through its duly assigned portion. The
mental body is yet so imperfectly developed in ordinary men, however, that
there are many in whom a great number of special departments are not yet in
activity, and any attempt at thought belonging to those departments has to
travel round through some inappropriate channel which happens to be fully
open. The result is that thought on those subjects is for those people clumsy
and uncomprehending. That is why ,as we shall see more fully in a later chapter,
some people have a head for mathematics and others are unable to perform a
simple mathematical process – why some people instinctively understand,
appreciate and enjoy music, while others do not know one tune from another.
Good thoughts produce vibrations of the finer matter of the body, which by its
specific gravity tends to float in the upper part of the ovoid: whereas bad
thoughts, such as selfishness and avarice, are always oscillations of the grosser
matter, which tends to gravitate towards the lower part of the ovoid.
Consequently, the ordinary man who yields himself not infrequently to selfish
thoughts of various kinds, usually expands the lower part of his mental body, and
presents roughly the appearance of an egg with its larger end downwards. The
man who has not indulged in those lower thoughts, but has devoted himself to
higher ones, tends to expand the upper part of his mental body and therefore
presents the appearance of an egg standing in its smaller end. All such
appearances, however, are only temporary, the tendency being for the symmetry
of the ovoid to re-assert itself by degrees.
From a study of the colours and striations of a man‘s mental body, the clairvoyant
can perceive his character and the progress he has made in his present life.
[From similar features of the causal body he can see what progress the ego has
made since its original formation when the man left the animal kingdom.]
The mental body is more or less refined in its constituents, according to the stage
of intellectual development at which the man has arrived. It is an object of great
beauty, and delicacy and rapid motion of its particles giving it an aspect of living
iridescent light, and this beauty becomes an extraordinary radiant and entrancing
loveliness as the intellect becomes more highly evolved and is employed chiefly
on pure and sublime topics. As we shall see in detail later, every thought gives
rise to vibrations in the mental body, accompanied by a play of colour described
as like that of the spray of a waterfall as the sunlight strikes it, raised many
degrees in colour and vivid delicacy.
Every mental body has a single molecule or unit, usually called the mental unit,
of the fourth mental sub-plane, which remains with the man during the whole of
his incarnations. As we shall see in the course of our study, the materials of the
mental body are scattered and re-gathered again and again, in life after life but
the mental unit remains a stable centre the whole time.
The mental unit may be regarded as the heart and centre of the mental body,
and upon the relative activity of the different parts of that unit the appearance of
that body as a whole to a great extent depends.
The mental unit may, of course, belong to any one of the seven great ―types ― or
―rays‖ of matter: it should be noted that all the permanent atoms and the mental
unit of a man belong to the same ―type‖ or ―ray‖.
The mental unit thus corresponds, in the mental body, to the permanent atoms in
the causal , astral, and etheric bodies.
The use of the permanent atoms, and of the mental unit, is to preserve within
themselves, as vibrating powers, the results of all the experiences through which
the bodies with which they have been associated have passed.
The various activities of the mind fall naturally into certain classes or
divisions, and these divisions are expressed through different parts of the
mental unit. Mental units are by no means all the same. They differ greatly,
according to the type, and to the development of their owners. If a mental unit lay
at rest the force radiating from it would make a number of funnels in the mental
body, just as the light shining through the slide in a magic lantern makes a large
radiating funnel of light in the air between the lantern and the sheet.
In this case the surface of the mental body may be likened to the sheet
because it is only at the surface that the effect becomes visible to one who is
looking at the mental body from the outside; so that, if the mental unit were at
rest there would be seen on the surface of the mental body a number of
pictures in colour, representing the various types of thought common to
the person with, presumably dark spaces between them. But the mental unit,
like all other chemical combinations, is rotating rapidly on its axis, and the effect
of this is that in the mental body there is a series of bands, not always quite
clearly defined, nor always of the same width, but still readily
distinguishable, and usually in about the same relative positions.
The student will by now be familiar with colours and their meaning, a full list
being given [which is not considered necessary to repeat here] in The Astral
Body pp.11-12.
Where aspirational thought exists it invariably shows itself in a beautiful little
violet circle at the top of the ovoid of the mental body. As the aspirant draws near
to the gateway of the Path this circle increases in size and radiancy, and in the
Initiate it is a splendid glowing cap of the most lovely colour imaginable.
Below it often comes the blue ring of devotional thought, usually rather a narrow
one, except in the case of the few whose religion is really deep and genuine.
Next to that, there may be the much broader zone of affectionate thought, which
may be of any shade of crimson or rose-colour according to the type of affection
which it indicates.
Near to the zone of affection, and frequently closely connected with it, there is
found the orange band, which expresses proud and ambitious thought.
Again, in intimate relation with pride comes the yellow belt of intellect, commonly
divided into two bands, denoting respectively the philosophical and the scientific
types of thought. The place of this yellow colour varies much in different men;
sometimes it fills the whole upper part of the egg, rising above devotion and
affection, and in such a case pride is generally excessive.
Below the group just described, and occupying the middle section of the ovoid, is
the broad belt devoted to concrete shapes –the part of the mental body from
which all ordinary thought-forms issue. [These thought-forms will be described in
Chapter VIII].
The principal colour here is green, shaded often with brown or yellow, according
to the disposition of the person.
There is no part of the mental body which varies more widely than this. Some
people have their mental bodies crowded with a vast number of concrete
images, whereas others have only a few. In some they are clear and well
outlined, in others they are vague and hazy to the last degree; in some they are
classified, labeled and arranged in the most orderly fashion, in others they are
not arranged at all, but are left in hopeless confusion.
In the lower part of the ovoid come the belts expressing all kinds of undesirable
thoughts. A kind of muddy precipitate of selfishness often fills the lower third, or
even half, of the mental body, and above this is sometimes a ring portraying
hatred, cunning or fear. Naturally, as a man develops, this lower part vanishes,
the upper part gradually expanding until it fills the whole body, as shown in the
illustrations in Man Visible and Invisible, by Bishop Leadbeater.
The general rule is, the stronger the thought the larger the vibration; the more
spiritual and unselfish the thought, the higher and more rapid is the vibration.
Strength of thought produces brilliancy, spirituality produces delicacy of colour.
In a later chapter, we shall describe a few typical mental bodies, and indicate
how various other mental qualities show themselves.

The mental body is the vehicle through which the Self manifests and expresses
itself as the concrete intellect.
The mind is the reflection of the cognitional aspect of the Self, of the Self as
Knower: the mind is the Self working in the mental body.
The majority of people are unable to separate the man from the mind;
consequently, to them the Self, which they are seeking, is the mind.
This is the more natural, if not inevitable, because at the present stage of
evolution men of the Fifth Race are working especially at the development of the
mental body.
In the past the physical body has been vivified as a vehicle of consciousness: the
astral body is also at least partially vivified by most men: the vivification of the
mental body is the work upon which humanity should now be more especially
The development of the astral body, with its function of expressing kama, or
emotion, was the special work of the Fourth Root Race, the Atlantean, as it is the
special work of the Fourth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root Race, the Keltic.
As stated above, the quality which the Fifth Race –and this applies both to the
Fifth Root Race and the Fifth Sub-Race –is intended specially to develop is
manas or mind: that type of intellect that discriminates, that notes the differences
between things.
At the present stage of half-development most men look for differences from their
own point of view, not in order to understand so much as to resist them, even
violently to oppose them. When the faculty is perfectly developed, however,
differences will be noted calmly, solely for the purpose of understanding them
and judging what is best.
We may go further and say that at the present stage of development of the Fifth
Sub-Race, weakness in others is a field to exploit, a thing to enslave, something
to trample under foot, in order to rise on it rather than to help it to exist for itself.
Nevertheless, unpleasant as it may be in its earlier stages, this mental
development is essential, for the true critical spirit is absolutely necessary for
true progress.
The Sixth Root Race, as well as the Sixth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root Race, will
be occupied principally with the development of spirituality, synthesis
compassion, and eagerness to serve being strongly marked characteristics.

The stage of development of mind and emotion in the human race at the present
time, however, calls for a little further explanation. The present or Fourth Round
is primarily intended for the development of desire or emotion; the Fifth Round is
intended for the unfolding of intellect. Owing however to the stimulus provided
by the ―Lords of the Flame‖ the intellect has already considerably developed a
whole Round in advance of what we may call the normal programme. At the
same time it should be understood that the intellect of which man is today
so proud is infinitesimal compared with that which the average man will
possess at the culminating point of the next or Fifth Round.
The ―Lords of Flame‖ came from the planet Venus to this earth during the Third
Root Race, and at once took charge of our evolution. Their Leader is called in
Indian books Sanat Kumara: with Him came three lieutenants, and some twenty-
five other Adepts as assistants. About 100 ordinary human beings were also
brought over from Venus and merged into the ordinary humanity of the earth.
It is these Great Ones who are spoken of in The Secret Doctrine as projecting a
spark into the mindless men and awakening the intellect within them. Their action
was really rather more in the nature of a magnetic stimulus, their influence
drawing humanity towards Themselves, and enabling men to develop the latent
spark and to become individualised.
Returning from this necessary digression, it must ever be remembered that,
although for purposes of analysis and study it is necessary to separate man from
the vehicles which he uses, yet the Self is one, however varying may be the
forms in which it manifests itself. Consciousness is a unit, and the divisions we
make in it are either [1] made for purposes or study, or [2] illusions due to our
perceptive power being limited by the organs through which it works in the lower
The Self has three aspects: knowing, willing and energising; from these arise
severally thoughts, desires and actions. Yet the whole Self knows, wills and acts.
Nor are the functions wholly separated; when he knows, he also acts and wills;
when he acts, he also knows and wills; when he wills, he also acts and
knows. One function is predominant, and sometimes to such an extent as
wholly to veil the others; but even in the intensest concentration of knowing
– the most separate of the three–there is always present a latent energising
and a latent willing, discernible as present by careful analysis.
A little further explanation may help towards understanding. When the Self is still,
then is manifested the aspect of Knowledge, capable of taking on the likeness of
any object presented [as we shall see in detail later on]. When the Self is
concentrated, intent on change of state, then appears the aspect of Will. When
the Self, in presence of any object, puts forth energy, to contact that object, then
shows forth the aspect of Action. It will thus be seen that these three are not
separate divisions of the Self, not three things joined into one or compounded,
but that there is one indivisible whole, manifesting in three ways.
From the standpoint of Eastern Yoga, ―mind‖ is simply the individualised
consciousness –the whole of that consciousness, including activities. Yoga
describes the process of consciousness thus: [1] awareness of objects, the
aspect of intelligence, the dominant note of the mental plane; [2] desire to
obtain objects, the aspect of desire, the dominant note of the astral plane; [3]
endeavour to attain objects, the aspect of activity, the dominant note of the
physical plane. On the buddhic plane, cognition, as pure reason, predominates.
Each of these aspects is present all the time, but one predominates at one time,
another at another time.
Returning now to a more detailed examination of mind, we learn that abstract
thinking is a function of the Self expressing itself through the higher mental or
causal body : concrete thinking [as previously stated] is performed by the Self
working in the mental body –the lower mental body, as it is sometimes called.
The mechanism of concrete thinking we shall consider in detail presently.
It is also in the mental body that memory and imagination begin. The germ of
memory lies in Tamas, the inertia of matter, which is a tendency to repeat
vibrations once started, when acted upon by energy.
The mental body is thus the vehicle of the ego, of the real Thinker, who himself
resides in the causal body. But, while the mental body is intended eventually to
be the vehicle of consciousness on the lower mental plane, it also works on
and through the astral and physical bodies in all manifestations that are
usually called the ―mind‖ in ordinary waking consciousness.
In detail the process is as follows : The act of concrete thinking sets in vibration
the matter of the mental body. This vibration is transferred an octave lower, as it
were, to the grosser matter of the thinker‘s astral body; from that in turn the
etheric particles of the brain are affected, and through them finally the denser
grey matter of the dense body is brought into action. Thus before a thought can
be translated into active consciousness on the physical brain all these
successive steps must be taken.
The sympathetic nervous system is mostly connected with the astral body, while
in the cerebrospinal system is [page 17] more under the influence of the
ego working through the mental body.
The process described above may be elucidated a little further. Every particle in
the physical brain has its astral counterpart, and this in turn has its mental
counterpart. If then we suppose, for the purposes of our examination, that the
whole of the physical brain be spread out so as to be one particle thick, we may
further suppose that the corresponding astral and mental matter is also laid out in
layers in a similar manner, the astral a little above the physical, the mental a little
above the astral.
We thus have three layers of matter of differing density, all corresponding one to
the other, but not joined in any way except that here and there wires of
communication exist between the physical and astral particles, and between the
astral and mental particles. That would fairly represent the condition of affairs in
the brain of the average man.
When, therefore, such a man wishes to send a thought down from the mental to
the physical level, the thought –owing to many channels not yet being open –may
have to go out of its way, as it were, going laterally through the brain of mental
matter until it can find a way down, passing eventually through a tube not at all
suited to it, and then, when it reaches the physical level, having to move laterally
again in the physical brain before it meets the physical particles which are
capable of expressing it.
It is obvious that such a method is awkward and clumsy. We thus can
understand why it is that some people have no comprehension of mathematics,
or no taste for music, art, etc. The reason is that in the part of the brain devoted
to that particular faculty or subject the communications have not yet been
opened up.
In the Adept, the perfected man, every particle has its own wire or tube, and
there is also full communication in every part of the brain alike. Hence every
thought has its own appropriate channel, through which it can descend directly to
the correspondingly appropriate material in the physical brain.
If we analyse the process of consciousness, in rough outline, working from the
Not-Self inward to the Self, we observe first contact on the physical body from
without : this contact is converted by the astral body into sensation; the sensation
is transformed by the mental body into a precept; then the precepts are
elaborated into concepts, thus preserving the ideal form which is the material for
all possibility of future thought.
Every contact with the Not-Self modifies the mental body by re-arranging a part
of its materials as a picture or image of the external object.
Thinking, on the form-side, is the establishment of relations between these
images; on the life-side it consists of corresponding modifications within the
Knower himself.
The peculiar work of the Knower is the establishment of relationships between
the images formed in his mental body, the addition which he makes changing the
images into thoughts.
When the Thinker re-forms the same images over and over again, the time-
element, there appear memory and anticipation.
The consciousness thus working is further illuminated from above with ideas that
are not fabricated from materials supplied by the physical world, but are reflected
into it directly from the Universal Mind [see chapter XXVIII].
When a man reasons he is adding something of his own to the information
contributed from outside. As his mind works on the materials supplied to it, it links
perceptions together, blending the various streams of sensation onto one,
combining them into one image. This work of establishing relations, of
synthesising, is, in fact, the peculiar work of the Knower; it is a speciality of the
Such activity of the mental body acts on the astral body as said above, and this,
again, on the etheric and dense bodies, and the nervous matter of the sense
body then vibrates under the impulses sent into it. This action shows itself
as electrical discharges, and magnetic currents play between the particles
causing intricate inter-relations.
These leave what is called a nervous track, a track along which another current
can run, say, across it. Hence, if a group of particles that were concerned in a
particular vibration should again be made active by the consciousness repeating
the same idea, the vibration runs readily along the track already formed, thus re-
awakening the other group of particles into activity and presenting to the
consciousness an associated idea.
This briefly, is the mechanism of associated ideas, the importance of which
mental phenomenon is too well known to every student of psychology to need
emphasis here.
It was indicated above that the peculiar work of the mind is that of establishing
relations between objects of consciousness. This phrase covers all the varied
processes of the mind. Hence the Hindu speaks of the mind as the sixth sense
because it takes in the sensations that enter through the five senses and
combines them into a single precept, making from them one idea. The mind has
also been spoken of as the ―Rajah‖ of the senses.
Hence, also, the meaning of the sutra, that the ―vrttis‖, or modes of the mind, are
pentads‖. The word pentad is used in the sense in which the chemist speaks of
the valency, or power of forming combinations of an element. For the mind is like
a prism which gathers up the five diverse rays of sensation from the organs of
sense, the five ways of knowing, the Jnanendriyas, and combines them into one
If we also take into account the five organs of action, the Karmendriyas, as well
as the five organs of sense the Jnanendriyas, then the mind becomes the
eleventh sense; hence in the Bhagavad Gita speaks of the ―ten senses and the
one‖ [XIII.5].
Referring, not to the mind as the sixth or the eleventh ―sense‖, but to the senses
of the mental body itself, we find that they differ very much from the senses
of the physical body. The mental body comes into contact with the things of the
mental world as it were directly, and over its whole surface, becoming
conscious all over itself of everything which is able to impress it at all. There are
thus no distinct organs for sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell in the mental
body; the word ―senses‖ is, in fact a misnomer : it is more accurate to speak of
the mental ―sense‖.
From this it is clear that, being able to communicate directly by thought -
transference, without having to formulate thoughts in words, the barrier of
language, no longer exists on the mental plane, as it does on the astral plane
If a trained student passes into the mental world and there communicates with an
other student, his mind, in ―speaking‖, speaks at once by colour, sound and form,
so that complete thought is conveyed as a coloured and musical picture, instead
of only a fragment of it being shown, as is the case on the physical plane, by the
symbols we call words.
There are certain ancient books written by great Initiates in colour-language, the
language of the Gods. The language is known to many chelas [i.e.,, pupils of
Masters] and is taken, so far as form and colour are concerned, from the ‗speech‘
of the mental world, in which, as already said, a single thought gives rise to form,
colour and sound simultaneously.
It is not that the mind thinks in colour, a sound, or a form: it thinks a thought,
which is a complex vibration in mental matter, and that thought expresses itself in
all these ways by the vibrations it sets up. In the mental body, therefore, a man is
freed from the limitations of his separate sense-organs, and is receptive at every
point to every vibration which in the physical world would present itself as
separate and different from its fellows.
The mental body of the average man today is much less developed, relatively,
than the astral and physical bodies. The normal man, at the present stage of
evolution, identifies himself with the brain - consciousness, the consciousness
working in the cerebrospinal system. Here he feels himself, distinctly and
consecutively, as ‗I‘ , only on the physical plane; that is, in the waking state.
Except so far as the cerebrospinal system is concerned, however, the
consciousness of the average man works from the astral plane, from the realm of
But in the more highly evolved men of the Fifth Race the centre of consciousness
is in the mental body, working from the lower mental world, the man being moved
by ideas more than by sensations.
Thus the average man is conscious but not self- conscious, on the astral and
mental planes. He recognises astral and mental changes within himself, but does
distinguish between those initiated by himself from within, and those caused by
impacts from without on his astral and mental vehicles. To him, they are all alike
changes within himself.
Hence, the physical plane alone is the only ‗real‘ world for him, and all
phenomena of consciousness belonging to the astral and mental worlds are what
he calls ‗unreal‘, ‗subjective‘, ‗imaginary‘. He regards them as created by his own
‗imagination‘, and not as results of impacts upon his astral and mental bodies
from external worlds. He is, in fact, an infant on the astral and mental planes.
Hence, in the undeveloped man, the mental body cannot function separately on
the mental plane, as an independent vehicle of consciousness during his earth –
life. When such a man exercises his mental faculties these must clothe
themselves in astral matter before he can become conscious of their activity.
We may tabulate the principle functions of the mental body thus:
[1] To serve as the vehicle of the Self for the purpose of concrete thinking.
[2] To express such concrete thoughts through the physical body, working
through the astral body, the etheric brain, and the cerebrospinal system.
[3] To develop the powers of memory and imagination.
[4] To serve, as evolution proceeds, as a separate vehicle of consciousness on
the mental plane.

To these, must be added the further function [elucidation of which must perforce
be left to a later chapter] : viz.:
[5] To assimilate the results of experience gathered in each earth-life and to pass
on their essence to the ego, the real man living in his causal body.
We may here note that the animal kingdom also employs mental matter to some
extent. The higher domestic animals at least undoubtedly exercise the power of
reason, although naturally the lines along which their reason can work are few
and limited, and the faculty itself is far less powerful than is the case with human
In the case of the average animal, only the matter of the lowest sub-division of
the mental plane would be employed, but with the highly developed domestic
animal the matter of the highest of the four lower levels might be to some
degree utilised.

The mental body of a savage is illustrated in Man Visible and Invisible, Plate VI.,
opposite p. 87. So far as its colours are the same, the mental body agrees fairly
with the astral body in a condition of repose; but it is also much more than this,
for in it appears whatever has been developed in the man of spirituality
and intellectuality. This might not, in the case of the savage, be much, but it
would be of considerable importance later on, as we shall see in due course.
Examining such a body in detail we perceive at the top a dull yellow, which
indicates some intellect, though the muddiness of the colour shows that it is
applied exclusively selfish ends.
Devotion, denoted by grey-blue, must be a fetish-worship, largely tinged with fear
and prompted by considerations of self-interest. Muddy crimson suggests a
commencement of affection which must as yet be principally selfish also.
A band of dull orange implies pride, but of quite a low order. A large dash of
scarlet expresses a strong tendency to anger, which would evidently blaze out
upon very slight provocation.
A broad band of dirty green, which occupies so great a portion of the body,
shows deceit, treachery and avarice – the latter quality being indicated by a
brownish tint. At the bottom of the aura there is a sort of deposit of mud colour,
suggesting general selfishness and the absence of any desirable quality.
In an undeveloped man the mental body contains but a small amount of mental
matter, unorganised, and chiefly from the lowest sub-division of the plane. It is
played on almost entirely from the lower bodies, being- set vibrating by emotional
storms from the astral body. Except when stimulated by these astral vibrations, it
remains almost quiescent, and even under their impulse is sluggish. No definite
activity is generated from within, blows from the outer world being necessary
to arouse distinct response.
Hence, the more violent the blows, the better for the progress of the man; riotous
pleasure, anger, pain, terror, and other passions, causing whirlwinds in the astral
body, stir the mental consciousness, which then adds something of its own to the
impressions made on it from without.

The ordinary person uses matter of the seventh or lowest mental sub-plane
only; that being very near to the astral plane, all his thoughts are coloured by
reflections from the astral or emotional world. Very few people can as yet deal
with the sixth sub-plane; great scientific men certainly use it a good deal, but
unfortunately, they often mingle it with the matter of the lowest sub-plane, and
then they become jealous of other people‘s discoveries and inventions. The
matter of the fifth sub-plane is much more free from the possibility of astral
entanglement. The fourth sub-plane, being next to the causal body, is far away
from the possibility of entanglement with astral vibrations.
On Plate IX, opposite p. 93 of the work quoted, is illustrated the mental body of
an ordinary man. In it is seen more in proportion of intellect [yellow], love [rose-
pink], and devotion [blue]; there is also a marked improvement in their quality, the
colours being much clearer.
Although the amount of pride is high as before, it is now at a higher level,
the man being proud of his good qualities instead of merely of his brute force or
A good deal of scarlet persists, indicating liability to anger; the green is decidedly
better, indicating versatility and adaptability rather than deceit or cunning.
In the savage the green was lower down the aura, below the scarlet,
because the qualities it represented needed for their expression a type of matter
coarser than that needed by the scarlet of anger.
In the average man the green is above the scarlet in the aura, indicating that the
type of matter it needs is less coarse than that required for the scarlet of anger.
There has thus been an improvement in the general quality of matter in the
mental body.
Although there is still a large proportion of the brown of selfishness in the aura,
yet the colour is a trifle warmer and less grim than in the case of the savage.
Thus the mental body of the average man is much increased in size, shows a
certain amount of organisation, and contains some matter from the sixth, fifth,
and fourth sub-divisions of the mental plane.
As with the physical and astral, so with the mental body; exercise increases,
disuse atrophies and finally destroys. Every vibration set up in the mental body
causes a change in its constituents, throwing out of it the matter that cannot
vibrate sympathetically, and replacing it by suitable materials drawn from the
practically illimitable store around.

Plate XXII, opposite p. 121 in the same book, illustrates the mental body of a
developed man. From this pride [orange], anger [scarlet], and selfishness
[brown] have completely disappeared; the remaining colours have expanded so
as to fill the whole oval, and have also so improved in tone as to give quite a
different impression. As all thought of self has vanished from them, they are more
refined and delicate. In addition there has appeared at the top of the aura a
pure violet with golden stars, indicating the acquisition of new and greater
qualities –to wit, spiritual aspiration.
The power from above, which radiates through the causal body of a developed
man, acts also through his mental body, though with somewhat less force.
Allowing for the difference between what we may call the octaves of colour, i.e.,,
between the hues belonging to the lower and the higher levels of the mental
plane, the mental body has now become almost a reproduction of the causal
body, just as the astral body is almost a copy, at its own lower level, of the
mental body.
The mental body of a developed man thus becomes a reflection of the causal,
because the man has learned to follow solely the promptings of the higher self,
and to guide his reason exclusively by them. The colour in fact, which expresses
a certain quality in the causal body expresses itself not only in the mental body
but even in the astral body; the colour however, as already stated, will be less
delicate, less luminous and ethereal, as it descends to the lower planes.
In a spiritually developed man all the coarser combinations of mental matter have
been eliminated so that it contains only the finer varieties of matter of the four
lower mental sub-divisions, and of these again the materials of the fourth and fifth
sub - planes very much predominate over those of the sixth and seventh sub-
planes. The mental body is thus responsive to all the higher workings of the
intellect, to the delicate contacts of the higher arts, to the pure thrills of the loftier
emotions. Such a body is rapidly becoming ready to reproduce every impulse
from the real man in the causal body, the Thinker, which is capable of expression
in lower mental matter.
Both the astral and mental bodies of a spiritual man should exhibit continually
four or five splendid emotions – love,devotion,sympathy, and intellectual
aspiration among them.
The mental body [and also the astral body] of an Arhat [one who has taken the
Fourth Great Initiation] have very little characteristic colour of their own, but are
reproductions of the causal body in so far as their lower octaves can express it.
They have a lovely shimmering iridescence –a sort of opalescent, mother of pearl
effect –far beyond either description or pictorial representation.

A matter-of-fact person has generally much of yellow in his mental body, and
his various bands of colour are usually regular and in order. He has far less
emotion and less imagination than the intuitional man, and, therefore, often in
certain ways less power and enthusiasm; but, on the other hand, he is far less
likely to make mistakes, and what he does will generally be well and carefully
It may be noted also that the scientific and orderly habit of mind has a distinct
influence upon the arrangement of the colours in the astral body; they tend to fall
into regular bands, and the lines of demarcation between them become
more definite.
In the mental body of an intuitional man there is much more of blue, but the
colours are generally vague and the whole body is ill regulated. He suffers much
more than the steadier type, but sometimes through that suffering he is able to
make rapid progress.
In the perfect man, of course, both the glow and enthusiasm, and the
steadfastness, and regularity, have their place; it is merely a question which is
required first.
In addition to the qualities enumerated above, which are expressed as colours in
the mental body, there are a number of other qualities –such as courage, dignity,
cheerfulness, truthfulness, and the like–which are represented broadly speaking
rather by form than by colour. They are indicated by differences in the structure
of the mental body, or by changes in its surface.
Within the different rings or zones of colour described above there are usually to
be seen more or less clearly marked striations, and many qualities of the man
can be judged by an examination of these striations.
The possession of a strong will, for example, brings the whole mental body into
far more level definite lines. All striations and radiations are steady, firm and
clearly distinguishable, whereas in the case of a weak and vacillating person this
firmness and strength of line would be consequently absent; the lines separating
the different qualities would be indeterminate, and the striations would be small,
weak and wavy.
Courage is shown by firm and very strongly-marked lines, especially in the
orange band connected with pride, and by the calm, steadfast shining of the
colours indicating the higher qualities.
When fear over powers a person all the colours are dimmed and overwhelmed
by a livid grey mist, and the striations are lost in a quivering mass of palpitating
jelly, the man having for the time, lost the power of guiding and controlling his
Dignity also expresses itself principally in the same part of the mental body as
that expressing courage, but by a calm steadiness and assuredness which is
quite different from the lines of courage.
Truthfulness and accuracy are portrayed very clearly by regularity in the
striations of the part of the mental body devoted to concrete forms, and by the
clearness and correctness of the images which appear there.
Loyalty shows itself by an intensification both of affection and devotion, and by
the constant formation in that part of the ovoid, of figures of the person to whom
the loyalty is felt. In many cases of loyalty, affection and devotion, there is made
a very strong permanent image of the object of those feelings, and that remains
floating in the aura of the thinker, so that, when his thought turns towards the
loved or adored one, the force which he pours out strengthens that already
existing image, instead of forming a new one, as it would normally do.
Joy shows itself in a general brightening and radiancy of both the mental and the
astral bodies, as also in a peculiar rippling of the surface of the body.
Generally Cheerfulness shows itself in a modified bubbling form of this, and also
in a steady serenity which is pleasant to see.
Surprise, on the other hand, is shown by a sharp constriction of the mental body
accompanied by an increased glow in the bands of affection if the surprise is a
pleasant one, and by a change of colour usually involving the display of a good
deal of brown and grey in the lower part of the ovoid when the surprise is an
unpleasant one. This constriction is usually communicated to both the astral and
the physical bodies, and often causes singularly unpleasant feelings which affect
sometimes the solar plexus [resulting in sinking and sickness] and sometimes the
heart-centre, in which case it brings palpitation or even death.; so that a sudden
surprise may occasionally kill one who has a weak heart.
Awe is the same as wonder, except that it is accompanied by a profound change
in the devotional part of the mental body, which usually swells out under this
influence and has its striations more strongly marked.
Mystical Thought and the presence of psychic faculties are indicated by colours
of which there are no equivalents on the physical plane.
When a man uses any part of his mental body, directing his thought strongly into
one or more of the channels previously mentioned, the mental body not only
vibrates for the time more rapidly, thereby brightening in colour, but the portion of
it which corresponds to that thought usually swells out temporarily and increases
in size, so disturbing for a time the symmetry of the ovoid.
In many people such bulging is permanent, and that always means that the
amount of thought of that type is steadily increasing. If, for example, a person
takes up some scientific study, and therefore suddenly turns his thoughts in that
direction much more than before, the first effect will be such protuberance as
has been described. But if he keeps the amount of his thoughts on scientific
subjects at the same level which he has now adopted, the protruding portion will
gradually sink back into the general outline of the ovoid, but the band of its colour
will have become wider than before.
If however, the man‘s interest in scientific subjects steadily increases in force, the
protrusion will still remain in evidence even though the band has widened.
Injury may thus be done to the mental body by over-specialisation leading to a
lop –sided development. It becomes over developed in some parts, and
proportionately undeveloped in other regions, perhaps equally important.
Harmonious and proportionate all-round development is the object to be sought,
and for this is needed a calm self-analysis and a definite direction of means to
ends; this aspect of our subject we shall consider further in a later chapter.
Reference has already been made to the ceaseless motion of the matter in the
mental body. The same phenomenon occurs also in the case of the astral body.
When for example, the astral body is disturbed by a sudden emotion all the
matter is swept about as if by a violent hurricane, so that for the time being the
colours become very much mixed. Presently, however, by the specific gravity of
the different types of matter the whole arrangement will sort itself once more into
its usual zones. Even then the matter is by no means at rest as the particles are
all the time running round these zones, though comparatively rarely leaving their
own belt and intruding on another. This movement within its own zone is entirely
healthy ; in fact, one in whom there is no circulation is a mental crustacean,
incapable of growth until it bursts its shell. The activity of the matter in any
particular zone increases in proportion to the amount of thought devoted to the
subject of which it is an expression.
Disturbances of the mental body are similar to those in the astral body and are
equally disastrous in their effects. Thus, if a man allows himself to be greatly
worried over some problem and turns it over and over again in his mind without
reaching any conclusion, he sets up a sort of storm in his mental body; perhaps
an even better description would be a sore place in the mental body, like an
irritation produced by friction .
An argumentative person has his mental body in a state of perpetual
inflammation, and the inflammation is liable, on slight provocation, to break out at
any moment into an actual sore. For such a one there is no hope of any kind of
occult progress until he has brought balance and common sense to bear on his
diseased condition.
If a man should permit his thought upon any given subject to stagnate, that
stagnation will be reproduced in the matter appropriate to the subject. In this
manner, by allowing his thought on that subject to set and solidify, a congestion
is set up which appears as a prejudice. A small eddy is formed in which the
mental matter runs round and round until it coagulates and becomes a kind of
wart. Unless and until this wart is worn away, or forcibly rooted out, the man
cannot use that particular part of his mental body, and is incapable of rational
thought on that subject, The foul thickened mass blocks all free movement either
outward or inward; it prevents him, on the one hand from seeing accurately, and
from receiving any reliable new impressions on the matter in question, and
on the matter in question, and on the other, from sending out any clear
thought with regard to it.
These diseased spots in the mental body are, unfortunately, also centres of
infection; the inability to see clearly therefore increases and spreads. Stagnation
in one part of the mental body is thus likely to lead to stagnation in other parts
also. So that if a man has a prejudice on one subject he will probably soon
develop prejudices on others, because the healthy flow of mental matter has
been checked, and the habit of untruth has been formed.
Religious prejudice is the commonest and the most serious of all, and completely
prevents any approach to rational thought with regard to the subject. A very large
number of people have the whole of that part of the mental body which should
be occupied with religious matters inactive, ossified and covered with warts, so
that even the most rudimentary conception of what religion really is remains
utterly impossible for them until a catastrophic change has taken place.
In general, we may repeat that in all the best of men of the more advanced races
at the present day, the physical body is fully developed, and fairly under control;
the astral body is also fully developed, but not by any means under perfect
control; the mental body is in process of evolution, but its growth is as yet very far
from complete. They have a long way to go before these three bodies are entirely
subordinate to the soul. When that happens the lower self will have been
absorbed into the higher self, and the ego, or soul, will have dominated the man.
In such a man there is no longer conflict between his various bodies; though he
is not yet perfect, yet his different vehicles are so far harmonised that they have
but one aim.

In the Astral Body, p. 23/5, we considered Kama, or desire, and on pp.26-9,
we dealt with Kama-Manas, or the entanglement of desire and mind. In the
present book we must again deal with Kama-Manas, taking for granted much of
what was said in the Astral Body regarding Kama, and confining ourselves
mainly to the Manas aspect of the subject.
Recapitulating briefly what was said in The Astral Body, Kama is the life
manifesting in the astral vehicle; its characteristic attribute is that of feeling; it
comprises animal appetites, passions and desires; it is the ―ape and tiger‖ in us
which most avails to bind us to earth. Kama or Desire is also the reflected, lower
aspect of Atma or Will.
Kama is sometimes used in to limited a sense, to imply nothing but gross sensual
desire; it means, however, all desire; and desire it the outward-turned aspect of
love, the love of the things of the three worlds, love proper being love of life or
love of the divine, and belonging to the higher or inward- turning self.
In the Rig Veda [x. 129] Kama is the personification of that feeling which leads
and propels to creation. It is essentially the longing for active sentient existence,
existence of vivid sensation, the tossing turbulence of passionate life. Thus for
the individual as for the Kosmos, Kama becomes the primary cause of
reincarnation and, as Desire differentiates into desire, these chain down the
Thinker to earth and bring him back, time after time to rebirth.
In the East, this thirst or desire that forces man into incarnation, is known as
Trishna, in Pali, Tanha; the realisation or consummation of Trishna is known as
Manas comes from the Sanskrit word man, the root of the verb to think: it is the
Thinker in us, spoken of vaguely in the West as mind. Manas is the immortal
individual, the real― I ―.
Manas, the Thinker, however, himself a spiritual entity living on the higher mental
or causal plane, cannot come into direct contact with the lower worlds; he
therefore projects from himself the lower manas, which is variously called a
reflection, a shadow, a ray, etc.
It is this Ray that plays on and in the brain, manifesting through the brain such
mental powers as that brain, by its configuration and other physical qualities, is
able to translate. The Ray sets in vibration the molecules of the brain nerve-cells
and so gives rise to consciousness on the physical plane.
This lower manas is engulfed in the quaternary, which consists of:-
Kama, or desire
Prana or Vitality
Etheric Double
Physical Body.
It may be regarded as clasping kama with one hand, whilst with the other it
retains its hold on its father, higher manas.
During earth life, kama and lower manas are joined together, and are often
spoken of as Kama-Manas.Kama supplies, as we have seen, the animal and
passional elements; lower manas rationalises these, and adds the intellectual
faculties. The two together, Kama-Manas, are so closely interwoven during life
that they rarely act separately, for there is scarcely a thought which is
uninfluenced by desire; Kama Manas is not a new principle, but the interweaving
of the lower part of manas with Kama. Kama-Manas, that is manas with desire,
has been well described as manas taking an interest in external things.
The workings of lower manas in man shows themselves as mental ability,
intellectual strength, acuteness, subtlety; they comprise comparison, reason,
judgement, imagination, and other mental faculties. These may reach us as far
as what is often called genius, but what H. P. Blavatsky called ―artificial genius‖,
the outcome of culture and of purely intellectual acuteness.
What we ordinarily call the mind or intellect is, in H.P. Blavatsky‘s words, ―a pale
and too often distorted reflection of manas itself.‖ Its true nature is often
demonstrated by the presence of kamic elements in it, such as passion, vanity,

True genius consists of flashes of higher manas penetrating into the lower
consciousness. As is said in the Bindopanishat: ―Manas verily is declared to be
twofold, pure and impure; the impure is determined by desire, the pure is desire-
Genius, which sees instead of arguing, is thus of the higher manas, or ego; true
intuition is one of its faculties. Reason, the weighing and balancing process
which arranges the facts gathered by observation, balances them one against
another, argues from them, draws conclusions from them-this is the exercise of
the lower manas through the brain apparatus; its instrument is ratiocination; by
induction it ascends from the known to the unknown, building up by a hypothesis;
by deduction it descends again to the known, verifying the hypothesis by fresh
There is a difference also in the mechanism of ordinary reasoning, and of the
peculiar flashes of consciousness known as genius. Reasoning comes to the
brain through the successive sub-planes of the astral and mental planes step by
step; but genius results from the consciousness pouring downwards through the
atomic sub-planes only, i.e., from the atomic astral and the atomic physical.
Reason, the faculty of the physical brain, being wholly dependent on the
evidence of the senses, cannot be the quality pertaining directly to the divine
spirit in man. The latter knows - hence all reasoning, which implies discussion
and argument, is useless to it. The spirit or ego, speaks through the conscience,
which is the instantaneous perception between right and wrong. Hence prophesy
and vaticination, and the so-called divine inspiration are simply the effects of the
illumination from above by a man‘s own immortal spirit. [This aspect of our
subject will be further considered in Chapter XXXI].
Kama-Manas, is the personal self of man; in Isis Unveiled it is termed the ―astral
soul‖ it is lower manas that gives the individualising touch that makes the
personality recognise itself as ― I ―. It becomes intellectual, it recognises itself as
separate from all other selves; deluded by the separateness it feels, it does not
realise a unity beyond all that it is able to sense.
Lower manas, swayed by the rush of kamic emotions, passions and desires,
attracted by all material things, blinded and deafened by the storm-voices among
which it is plunged, is apt to forget the pure and serene glory of its birthplace, and
to throw itself into the turbulence which gives rapture but not peace. It is lower
manas which gives the last touch of delight to the senses and to the animal
nature; for there could be no passion without memory or anticipation, no ecstasy
without the subtle force of imagination and the delicate colours of dream and
Kama thus binds lower manas fast to earth. So long as any action is undertaken
with the object of obtaining love, recognition, power or fame, however grand the
ambition, however far reaching the charity, however lofty the achievement-manas
is tainted with kama, and is not pure at its source.
Kama and manas act and react on each other, each stimulating and arousing the
other. The mind is continually impelled by desire, and is made to serve constantly
as a minister of pleasure. That which gives pleasure is ever sought by the mind,
and it ever seeks to present images that give pleasure and to exclude those that
give pain. The mental faculties add to the animal passions a certain strength and
quality not apparent in them when they work as purely animal qualities. For the
impressions made on the mental body are more permanent than those made on
the astral body, and the mental body constantly reproduces them through the
agency of memory and imagination. Thus the mental body stimulates the astral,
arousing in it the desires that, in the animal, slumber until awakened by a
physical stimulus. Hence we find in an undeveloped man a persistent pursuit of
sense-gratification never found in the lower animals, a lust, a cruelty, a
calculation to which they are strangers. Thus the powers of the mind, yoked to
the service of the senses, make of man a far more dangerous and savage brute
than any animal.
The part which is the Desire-Elemental, i.e.,, the instinctive life in the astral body,
plays in this entanglement of manas with kama, has already been fully described
in The Astral Body, pp. 77-8, 108-111 and 207-228, to which the student is
So closely are men‘s astral and mental bodies intertwined that it is often said
they act as a single body. In the Vedantin classification, in fact, the two are
classed together as one kosha or sheath, thus:-
Buddhic Body …………Anandamayakosha
Causal Body …………. Vignanamayakosha
Mental Body}
Astral Body }………… Manomayakosha
Etheric Double]
Dense Body ] ……….Annamayakosha
The student will recollect that the centres of sensation are situated in kama;
hence the saying in the Mundakopanishat [iii,9] that ―the organ of thinking of
every creature is pervaded by the senses.‖ This emphasises the double action of
the Manomayakosha, which is the organ of thinking, but is also ―pervaded by the
We may note here the connection between kama-manas and the spirillae of
atoms. In the First Round of the Earth-Chain the first set of spirillae of the
physical plane atoms were vivified by the life of the Monad; this set is used by the
currents of prana [Vitality] affecting the dense physical body.
In the Second Round, the second set of spirillae become active, the prana
connected with the etheric double flowing through them.
In the Third Round the third set of spirillae is vivified, the prana connected to the
astral body flowing through them, thus making sensibility possible.
In the Fourth Round, the fourth set of spirillae becomes active, the kama-
manasic prana flowing through them, thus making them fit to be used for a brain
which is to act as the instrument for thought.
The vivification of further sets of spirillae for the use of the higher consciousness,
in the case of those preparing for entering the Path, can be brought about by
certain Yoga practices.
In the ordinary course of evolution, a new set of spirillae will be developed in
each Round, so that in the Seventh Round the entire seven spirillae will be
active. Hence the people who live in that Round will find it far easier than people
do to-day to respond to inner things and to live the higher life.
In the course of each incarnation, manas may do one of three things: -[1] it may
rise towards its source and by unremitting and strenuous effort become one with
its ―Father in heaven‖, i.e.,, higher manas; [2] it may partially aspire and partially
tend downwards, as indeed is mostly the case with the average man; [3] it may
become so clogged with kamic elements as to become one with them, and be
forcibly wrenched away from its parent and perish.
Whenever lower manas can, for the time being, disconnect itself from kama, it
becomes the guide of the highest mental faculties, and is the organ of freewill in
physical man. The condition of this freedom is that kama shall be subdued and
Freewill resides in manas itself; from manas comes the feeling of liberty, the
knowledge that we can rule ourselves, that the higher nature can rule the lower,
however much that lower nature may rebel and struggle. As soon as the
consciousness identifies itself with manas instead of kama, the lower nature
becomes the animal which the higher consciousness can bestride, which is no
longer the ― I ―.
Thus the difference between a strong-willed and weak-willed person is that the
weak-willed person is moved from outside by outer attractions and repulsions, by
desire, which is ―Will discrowned‖, while the strong-willed man is moved from
inside by pure Will, continually mastering external circumstances by bringing to
bear upon them appropriate forces, guided by his store of experiences.
Further, as lower manas frees itself from kama it becomes more and more
capable of transmitting to the lower consciousness impulses received from higher
manas, and then as we have seen, genius flashes forth, the light from the ego
streaming through lower manas into the brain. Of this we may be sure: so long as
we are in the vortex of the personality, so long as the storms and desires and
appetites surge around us, so long as we are tossed to and fro on waves of
emotion –so long the voice of the higher manas or ego cannot reach our ears.
The mandate of the ego comes not in the fire or the whirlwind, not in the
thunderclap or the storm, but only when there has fallen the stillness of a silence
that can be felt, only when the very air is motionless and the calm is profound,
only when the man wraps his face in a mantle which closes his ear even to the
silence that is of the earth, then only sounds the voice that is stiller than silence,
the voice of his true higher self, or ego.
As an unruffled lake mirrors the moon and stars, but, when ruffled by a passing
breeze yields only broken reflections, so may a man, steadying his mind, calming
his desires, imposing stillness on his activities, reproduce within himself the
image of the higher. Even so may the disciple mirror the mind of his Master.But
if his own thoughts spring up, his own desires arise, he will have broken
reflections, dancing lights, that tell him nothing.
In the words of a Master ― It is upon the serene and placid surface of the
unruffled mind that the visions gathered from the invisible find a representation in
the visible world. It is with jealous care we have to guard our mind-plane from all
the adverse influences which daily arise in our passage through earth life.”
The ego, as part of the Universal Mind, is unconditionally omniscient on its own
plane, but only potentially so in the lower worlds because it has to work through
the medium of the personal self. The causal body is the vehicle of all knowledge,
past, present and future, and it is from this fountain-head that its double, lower
manas, catches occasional glimpses of that which is beyond the senses of man,
and transmits them to certain brain-cells, thus making the man a seer, a
soothsayer and a prophet.
This triumph can be gained only by many successive incarnations, all
consciously directed towards this end. As life succeeds life, the physical body
becomes more and more delicately attuned to the vibrations of the manasic
impulses, so that the lower manas needs less and less of the coarser astral
matter as its vehicle. It is part of the mission of the manasic ―ray‖. I.e.,, lower
manas, gradually to get rid of ―blind deceptive element‖ [kama] which brings it so
closely into contact with matter as entirely to becloud its divine nature and stultify
its intuitions.
When at last the mastery of kama is achieved, and the body is responsive to
manas, lower manas becomes one with its source, higher manas; this in
Christian terminology, is the ―Father in Heaven‖ becoming one with the ―Son‖ on
all planes, as they always have been one in ―heaven‖. This of course, is a very
advanced stage, being that of an Adept, for Whom incarnation is no longer
necessary though it may be voluntarily undertaken.

Hence that great statement in the Mundakopanishat: ―The organ of thinking is

pervaded by the senses; that organ purified, Atma manifests Itself.‖
With most people, lower manas, partially aspires and partially tends downwards.
The normal experience of the average man is that life is a battlefield, manas
continually wrestling with kama; sometimes aspiration conquers, the chains of
sense are broken, and lower manas soars upwards; at other times kama wins
and chains lower manas down to earth.
It thus appears, as was briefly indicated in Chapter IV, that for most people the
centre of consciousness is embedded in kama-manas. But the more cultured and
developed are beginning to govern desire by reason, i.e.,, the centre of
consciousness is gradually transferring itself from the higher astral to the lower
mental. As men progress it will move further up still, men being dominated by
principle, rather than by interest and desire.
For, ultimately, man‘s intellect demands that his surroundings, both of life and
matter, shall be intelligible; his mind demands order, rationality, logical
explanation. It cannot live in a chaos without suffering; it must know and
understand, if it is to exist in peace.
In extreme cases lower manas becomes entangled so inextricably with kama that
the slender link which unites the higher to the lower manas, the ―silver thread that
binds it to the Master, ― snaps in two.
Then, even during earth life, the higher nature being severed wholly from the
lower, the human being is rent in twain, the brute has broken free, and it goes
forth unbridled, carrying with it the reflections of manas, which should have been
its guide through life. Such a being, human in form but brute in nature, may now
and then be met with in the haunts of men, putrescent while still living, a thing to
shudder at, even though with pity.
After physical death such an astral body is an entity of terrible potency, and is
known as an Elementary, a description of it being in The Astral Body, pp. 144-
From the point of view of the ego there has been no harvest of useful experience
from that personality; the ―ray‖ has brought nothing back, the lower life has been
a total and complete failure.
In The Voice of The Silence is contained the following injunction: ―Let not thy
―heaven born‖, merged in the sea of Maya, break from the universal Parent [Soul]
but let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber of the heart, and the abode
of the world‘s Mother.‖ The ―heaven born‖ is chitta, the lower mind. It is born from
the soul above, when manas becomes dual in incarnation. The planes of Atma-
Buddhi- Manas are typified by heaven, while those of the personality are spoken
of as earth.
It is the presence in man of the ―heaven born‖ that confers on him some freedom,
and because he has this liberty and power to go his own way his life is usually
more disorderly, less regulated, than that of the lower kingdoms of external
Even with most people some of their mental matter has become so entangled
with their astral matter that it is impossible for it to be entirely freed after death.
The result of the struggle between their kama and their manas, therefore is that
some portion of the mental matter, and even of causal [ higher mental matter] is
retained in the astral body after the ego has completely broken away from it.
If, on the other hand, a man has during life completely conquered his lower
desires and succeeded in completely freeing the lower mind from desire, there is
practically no struggle, and the ego is able to withdraw not only all that he
―invested‖ in that particular incarnation, but also all the ―interest‖, i.e.,, the
experiences, faculties, etc. that have been acquired.

When a man uses his mental body, i.e.,, when he thinks, a vibration is set up in
the mental body, and this vibration produces two distinct results. The first result is
that of radiating vibrations or waves; these we shall deal with in the present
chapter, reserving the second result –the production of thought-forms –for a later
A vibration in the mental body, like all other vibrations, tends to communicate
itself to any surrounding matter which is capable of receiving it precisely as the
vibration of a bell communicates itself to the surrounding air. Hence, since the
atmosphere is filled with mental matter, which responds very readily to such
impulses, there is produced a sort of ripple, a kind of vibrating shell, formed in the
matter of the plane, which spreads out through circumambient space exactly as
the dropping of a stone into a pond produces ripples which radiate from the
centre of impact over the surface of the water in every direction.
In the case of a mental impulse the radiation is not in one plane only but in many
dimensions, more like the radiations from the sun or from a lamp.
The rays thrown out cross in all directions without interfering with one another in
the slightest degree, just as do rays of light on the physical plane.
Moreover, the expanding sphere of vibrations is many-coloured and opalescent,
but its colours grow fainter as it spreads away.
As already said, the mental vibration also tends to reproduce itself wherever
opportunity is offered to it. Consequently, whenever the thought-wave strikes
upon another mental body it will tend to set up in it vibrations similar to those
which gave it birth in the first instance. That is to say, when a man‘s mental body
is struck by a thought-wave there arises a tendency in his mind to produce a
thought similar to that which had previously arisen in the mind of the originator of
the wave.
The thought-wave becomes less powerful in proportion to the distance from its
source, though it is probable that the variation is proportional to the cube of the
distance instead of to the square, because of the additional dimension involved.
Nevertheless, these mental vibrations lose their power very much more gradually
than those in physical matter and seem to be exhausted, or at least to become
so faint as to be imperceptible, only at an enormous distance from their source.
The distance to which a thought-wave penetrates, the strength and persistence
with which it impinges upon the mental bodies of others, depend upon the
strength and clearness of the original thought. Thus a strong thought will carry
further than a weak and undecided one, but clearness and definiteness are of
even greater importance than strength.
Other factors affecting the distance to which a thought-wave may radiate are its
nature and the opposition with which it meets. Thus waves in the lower types of
astral matter are usually soon deflected or overwhelmed by a multitude of other
vibrations at the same level, just as in the midst of the roar of a city a soft sound
is entirely drowned.
For this reason the ordinary self-centred thought of the average man, which
begins on the lowest of mental levels, and instantly plunges down to
correspondingly low levels of the astral, is comparatively ineffective. Its power in
both the worlds is limited because, however violent it may be, there is such an
immense sea of similar thought surging all around that its waves are inevitably
lost and overpowered in the confusion.
A thought generated at a higher level, on the other hand, as a much clearer field
for its action, because at the present time the number of thoughts producing such
waves is very small. In fact, Theosophical thought is almost a class by itself from
this point of view.
There are, of course, other religious people whose thoughts are quite elevated,
but never so precise and definite. Even scientific thought is scarcely ever in the
same class as Theosophical thought, so that there is practically a clear field for
Theosophical thought in the mental world.
Theosophical thought is like a sound in a vast silence; it sets in motion a level of
mental matter which is as yet but rarely used, the radiations which it causes
impinging upon the mental body of the average man at a point where it is quite
dormant. Hence it tends to awaken an entirely new part of the thinking apparatus.
Such a wave does not, of course necessarily convey Theosophical thought to
those who are ignorant of it; but in awakening the higher portion of the mental
body it tends to elevate and liberalise the man‘s thought as a whole, along
whatever lines it may be in the habit of moving.
There is, of course, an infinite variety of thoughts; if the thought is perfectly
simple there will be in the mental body only the one rate of vibration, and
consequently only one type of mental matter will be strongly affected. The mental
body, as we have seen, consists of matter of the four lower sub-planes of the
mental plane, and in each of these sub-planes there are many sub-divisions of
varying densities.
If a man is already deeply engrossed in some other line of thought, a strong
wave of thought may sweep past him without affecting him, precisely as a man
already occupied in business or pleasure may not hear the voice of another
As, however, large numbers of men do not think definitely or strongly except
when in immediate prosecution of some business which demands their whole
attention, they are likely at other times to be considerably affected by the
thoughts which impinge upon them. Hence great responsibility rests upon
everyone who thinks, because his thoughts, especially if strong and clear, will
inevitably affect large numbers of other people.
It is not too much to say that one who harbours impure or evil thoughts thereby
spreads moral contagion among his fellow men. Bearing in mind that large
numbers of people have within them latent germs of evil, germs which may never
bear fruit unless some force from without plays upon them and stirs them into
activity, the thought-wave sent out by an impure or unholy thought may be the
very factor which awakens a germ into activity and causes it to begin to grow.
Hence such a thought may start some soul upon a downward career. This man
may in a similar manner affect many others, and so the evil spreads and ramifies
in countless directions. Much harm is constantly done in this way; and although it
may be done unconsciously, yet the perpetrator of the evil is karmically
responsible for what he has done.
It is of course equally true, that a beneficent thought may affect others for good in
a similar manner. Hence a man who realises this may set himself to work to be a
veritable sun, constantly radiating upon all his friends and neighbours thoughts of
love, calm, peace etc. Very few realise how great a force for good they may thus
wield, if they choose, through the power of thought.
It often happens that a man is unable to help another man physically; in fact, the
physical presence of the would be helper may be even distasteful to the sufferer;
his physical brain may be closed to suggestions by prejudice or by religious
bigotry. But his astral and mental bodies are far more easily impressible than the
physical, and it is always possible to approach these by a wave, of helpful
thought, affection, soothing feeling, and so on.
There are many cases where the best will in the world can do nothing physically;
but there is no conceivable case in which either in the mental or astral world
some relief cannot be given by steady, concentrated, loving thought.
It should be noted that a thought-wave does not convey a definite complete idea,
but rather tends to produce a thought of the same character as itself. Thus, for
example, if the thought be one of devotion, its vibrations will excite devotion; but
the object of the worship may be different in the case of each person upon whose
mental body the thought-wave impinges.
A thought –wave or vibration thus conveys the character of the thought, but not
its subject. If a Hindu sits wrapped in devotion to Krishna, the thought-waves
which pour forth from him stimulate devotion in all those who come under their
influence, though in the case of a Muslim, that devotion to Allah, while for the
Zoroastrian it is to Ahuramazda, or for the Christian to Jesus.
If such a thought-wave touches the mental body of a materialist, to whom the
very idea of devotion in any form is unknown, even then it produces an elevating
effect, its tendency being to stir a higher part of his mental body into some sort of
activity, though it cannot create a type of undulation to which the man is wholly
A point of great importance, of which the student should take careful note, is that
a man who habitually thinks pure, good and strong thoughts is utilising for that
purpose the higher part of his mental body, a part which is not used at all by the
ordinary man, and is entirely undeveloped in him. Such a one is, therefore, a
power for good in the world, and is being of great use to all those of his
neighbours who are capable of any sort of response. For the vibrations which he
sends out tend to arouse a new and higher part of their mental bodies, and
consequently to open before them altogether new fields of thought.
We may take the matter a little further still. A man who day by day is definitely
and carefully thinking is not only improving his own thinking powers and sending
out helpful thought-waves into the world around him, but he is also developing
and improving mental matter itself. For the amount of consciousness which can
be brought into the brain is obviously determined by the degree to which the
atoms of matter can respond, i.e.,, to the number of spirillae in the atoms which
are vivified and active. Normally, in the ordinary physical atom at the present
stage of evolution, there are four of these seven spirillae active. The man who is
capable of higher forms of thought is helping to develop further spirillae in the
atoms, and, as these atoms are continually passing in and out of his bodies, they
are available for absorption and use by any other person who is capable of using
them. High thinking thus helps the world‘s consciousness by improving the very
materials of thought.
There are thus many varieties of mental matter, and it is found that each variety
has its own special and appropriate rate of vibration, to which it is most
accustomed and to which it most readily responds. A complex thought may, of
course, affect many varieties of mental matter simultaneously.
The general principle, underlying the effect of thought on the mental body [and
also that of feeling on the astral body] as we saw in Chapter III, is that evil or
selfish thoughts are always comparatively slow vibrations of the coarser matter,
while good, unselfish thoughts are the more rapid undulations which play only in
the finer matter.
The power of the united thought of a number of people is always far greater than
the sum of their separate thoughts; it would be much more nearly represented by
their product. Hence, it is exceedingly beneficial for any city or community that
there should be constantly meeting in its midst a number of people who are
capable of generating thoughts at a high level.

We come now to consider the second effect produced when a man uses his
mental body in thinking, viz., the formation of thought forms.
As we have seen, a thought gives rise to a set of vibrations in the matter of the
mental body. Under this impulse the mental body throws off a vibrating portion of
itself shaped by the nature of the vibrations, much in the way that fine particles
laid on a disc are thrown into a form when the disc is made to vibrate to a
musical note.
The mental matter thus thrown off gathers from the surrounding atmosphere
elemental essence of the mental world [i.e.,, of the Second Elemental Kingdom]
of the appropriate type, and sets that essence into vibration in harmony with its
own rate.
Thus is generated a thought form pure and simple. Such a mental thought-form
resembles an astral or emotional form [described in The Astral Body ], but it is
far more radiant and more brilliantly coloured, is stronger and more lasting, and
more fully vitalised.
A graphic description of the effect of thought is as follows. ―These [mental]
vibrations, which shape the matter of the plane into thought-forms, give rise –
from their swiftness and subtlety –to the most exquisite and constantly changing
colours, waves of varying shades like the rainbow hues in mother-of- pearl,
etherialised and brightened to an indescribable extent, sweeping over and
through every form so that each presents a harmony of rippling, living, luminous,
delicate colours, including many not even known on earth. Words can give no
idea of the exquisite beauty and radiance shown in combinations of this subtle
matter, instinct with life and motion. Every seer has witnessed it, Hindu, Buddhist,
Christian, speaks in rapturous terms of its glorious beauty and ever confesses his
utter inability to describe it; words seem but to coarsen and deprave it however
deftly the praise.‖

A thought form is a temporary living entity of intense activity animated by the one
idea that generated it. If made of the finer kinds of matter, it will be of great power
and energy, and may be used as a most potent agency when directed by a
strong and steady will. Into the details of such use we shall enter later.
The elemental essence is a strange semi-intelligent life which surrounds us,
vivifying matter of the mental plane. It responds readily to the influence of human
thought so that every impulse sent out from the mental body of a man
immediately clothes itself in a temporary vehicle of this essence. It is, in fact,
even more instantaneously sensitive, if that be possible, to the action of thought
than is astral elemental essence.
But mental elemental essence differs greatly from astral elemental essence; it is
a whole chain behind the other, and, therefore, the force in it cannot work quite in
the same concentrated way. It is trying to deal with, for it is largely responsible for
our wandering thoughts, as it darts constantly from one thing to another.
A thought, then, as stated, becomes for the time a kind of living creature; the
thought-force is the soul, the elemental essence the body. These thought-forms
are called elementals, or sometimes artificial elementals.
The principles underlying the production of all thought-forms are:-
[1] Quality of thought determines colour
[2] Nature of thought determines form
[3]Definiteness of thought determines clearness of outline.
Thought-forms may be of infinite variety, both as to colour and shape. With the
various colours and their significance the student will now be familiar, as they are
in agreement with those existing in the astral and mental bodies as described in
The Astral Body and also in an earlier chapter of this book.
Thus for example, affection produces a glowing rose-colour; a wish to heal, a
lovely silvery-white; a mental effort to steady and strengthen the mind, a beautiful
flashing golden-yellow.
Yellow in any of the vehicles always indicates intellect, but its shades vary much,
and it may be complicated by the admixture of other colours.
Generally speaking, it has a deeper and duller tint if it is directed to the lower
channels, more especially if the objects are selfish.
In the astral or mental body of an average man of business it would show itself
as yellow ochre, while pure intellect devoted to the study of philosophy or
mathematics appears frequently as golden; this rises gradually to a beautiful
clear and luminous primrose-yellow when a powerful intellect is employed
absolutely unselfishly for the benefit of humanity.
Most yellow thought-forms are clearly outlined, a vague cloud of yellow being
comparatively rare. It indicates intellectual pleasure such as appreciation of the
result of ingenuity, or the delight in clever craftsmanship.
A cloud of this nature betokens the entire absence of any personal emotion, for if
that were present it would inevitably tinge the yellow with its appropriate colour.
In many cases, thought –forms are merely revolving clouds of the colour
appropriate to the idea which gave them birth. The student will realise that, at the
present stage of humanity, there is a vast preponderance of cloudy and
irregularly-shaped thoughts, the product of ill-trained minds of the majority. It is
among the rarest of phenomena to see clear and definite forms among the
thousands that float about us.
Where a thought is definite a form is created, and a clear-cut and often beautiful
shape is assumed. Such shapes while of infinite variety, are often in some way
typical of the kind of thought which they express. Abstract ideas usually
represent themselves by all kinds of perfect and most beautiful geometrical
forms. It should be remembered in this connection that the merest abstractions
to us down here become definite facts, on the mental plane.
The strength of thought and emotion determines the size of the thought-form as
well as its duration as a separate entity.Its duration depends upon the nutriment
supplied to it after its generation by the repetition of the thought either by its
originator or by others.
If the thought be intellectual and impersonal –eg. If the thinker is attempting to
solve a problem in algebra or geometry –then his thought-forms [as well as his
thought waves] will be confined to the mental plane.
If his thought is of a spiritual nature, eg., if it be tinged with love and aspiration of
deep, unselfish feeling, then it will rise upwards from the mental plane and will
borrow much of the splendour and glory of the buddhic levels above. In such a
case its influence is most powerful and every such thought is a mighty force for
If, on the other hand, the thought has in it something of self or personal desire, at
once its vibrations turn downwards, and it draws round itself a body of astral
matter in addition to its clothing of mental matter. Such a thought-form –which
would be termed more accurately a thought – emotion –form -is, of course,
capable of affecting both the mental and the astral bodies of other men.
This type of thought-form is by far the most common, as few thoughts of ordinary
men and women are untinged with desire, passion, or emotion.
We may consider this class of thought-forms as generated by the activity of
kama-manas, i.e.,, by mind dominated by desire.
When a man thinks of any concrete object –a book, a house, a landscape –he
builds a tiny image of the object in the matter of his mental body. This image
floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man and at
about the level of the eye. It remains there as long as the man is contemplating
the object, and usually for a little time afterwards, the length of time depending
upon the intensity and the clearness of thought. This form is quite objective and
can be seen by another person possessed of mental clairvoyance. If a man
thinks of another person he creates a tiny portrait in just the same way.
The same result follows any effort of the ―imagination‖. The painter who forms a
conception of his future picture builds it up out of the matter of his mental body,
and then projects it into space in front of him, keeps it before his mind‘s eye, and
copies it. The novelist, in the same way, builds images of his characters in
mental matter, and by the exercise of his will moves these puppets from one
position or grouping to another, so that the plot of the story is literally acted out
before him.
As already said, these mental images are so entirely objective that they may not
only be seen by a clairvoyant, but they can even be moved about and re-
arranged by some one other than their creator. Thus for example, playful nature
spirits [vide., The Astral Body, p. 53], or more often a ―dead‖ novelist, watching
the work of his fellow-author, will move the images or puppets about so that they
seem to their creator to have developed a will of their own, the plot of the story
thus working out on lines quite different from those originally intended by the
A sculptor makes a strong thought-form of the statue he intends to create, plants
it in his block of marble, and then proceeds to cut away the marble which lies
outside the thought-form until only that portion of it which it interpenetrated by the
thought-form remains.
Similarly, a lecturer, as he thinks earnestly of the different parts of his subject,
makes a series of thought-forms, usually strong ones, because of the effort. If he
fails to make his audience understand him it must be largely because his own
thought is not sufficiently clear cut. A clumsy and indefinite thought-form makes
but a slight impression, and even that with difficulty, whilst a clearly-cut one
forces the mental bodies of the audience to try to reproduce it.
Hypnotism provides examples of the objectivity of thought-forms. It is well known
that the thought-form of an idea may be projected onto a blank paper, and there
become visible to a hypnotised person. Or it may be made so objective that the
hypnotised person will see and feel it as though it were an actual physical object.
Many thought-forms exist, more or less permanently, of characters from history,
drama, fiction, etc. Thus for example, popular fancy has strongly depicted
characters and scenes from the plays of Shakespeare, from Bunyan‘s Pilgrim‘s
Progress, from fairy stories such as Cinderella, Aladdin‘s Lamp, etc. Such
thought-forms are collective, having coalesced from the products of the
imagination of countless individuals.
Children have vivid and capable imaginations, so books read by them are usually
well represented in the world of thought-forms, many excellent and life-like
portraits existing of Sherlock Holmes, Captain Kettle, Dr. Nikola, and many
On the whole however, the thought-forms evoked from the novels of to-day are
by no means as clear as those which our forefathers made of Robinson Crusoe
or of the characters of Shakespeare‘s plays. This of course, is because people
today read more superficially and with less serious attention than was the case
So much for the genesis of thought-forms. We pass now to consider their effects
on their creators and on others.
Each man as he moves through life produces three classes of thought-forms:-
[1] Those which, being neither centred round the thinker nor specially aimed at
any person, are left behind him as a sort of trail which marks his route.
[2] Those, which being centred round the thinker, hover round him and follow him
wherever he goes.
[3] Those which shoot straight out away from the thinker, aiming at a definite
A thought-form of Class I, being neither definitely personal nor specially aimed at
someone else, simply floats detached in the atmosphere, all the time radiating
vibrations similar to those originally sent forth by its creator. If the form does not
come in contact with any other mental body the radiation gradually exhausts its
store of energy, and in that case the form falls to pieces.
But if it succeeds in awakening sympathetic vibrations in any mental body near at
hand, an attraction is set up and the thought-form is usually absorbed by that
mental body.
At the present stage of evolution the majority of the thoughts of men are usually
self-centred even when they are not actively selfish. Such self-centred thoughts
hang about the thinker. Most men, in fact, surround their mental bodies with a
shell of such thoughts. They hover ceaselessly about them and constantly react
on them. Their tendency is to reproduce themselves –i.e.,, to stir up in the man a
repetition of the thoughts which he had previously entertained. Many a man feels
this pressure upon him from within, this constant suggestion of certain thoughts,
especially when he is resting after his labours, and there is no definite thought in
his mind. If the thoughts are evil, he frequently thinks of them as tempting
demons goading him into sin. Yet they are none the less entirely his own
creation; he is his own tempter.
Repeated thoughts of this kind play an important part in working out what is
called Prarabda or ―ripe‖ karma. Persistent reiteration of thoughts of the same
kind, say of revenge, bring a man at last to a point which may be compared to
that of a saturated solution. Just as the addition of further matter of the same kind
to the solution will produce the solidification of the whole, so will a slight
additional impulse result in the commission of a crime. Similarly, reiterated
thoughts of helping others may, when the stimulus of opportunity touches the
man, crystallise out as an act of heroism. Under such circumstances, a man may
marvel at his own commission of a crime or at his own performance of some
heroic act of self-sacrifice, not realising that repeated thought had made the
action inevitable. A consideration of these facts goes far towards explaining the
old problem of freewill and necessity or destiny.
Furthermore, a man‘s thought-forms tend to draw towards the man the thought-
forms of others of a similar nature. A man may thus attract to himself large
reinforcements of energy from outside; it lies within himself, of course, whether
these forces that he draws into himself be of a good or evil kind.
Usually each definite thought creates a new thought-form; but if a thought-form of
the same nature is already hovering round the thinker, under certain
circumstances a new thought on the same subject, instead of creating a new
form, coalesces with and strengthens the old one, so that by long brooding over
the same subject a man may sometimes create a thought-form of tremendous
power. If the thought be an evil one, such a thought-form may become a veritable
malign influence lasting perhaps for many years, and having for a time all the
appearance and powers of a real living entity.
A shell of self-centred thought obviously must tend to obscure the mental vision
and facilitate the formation of prejudice. Through such a shell the man looks out
upon the world, naturally seeing everything tinged with its predominant colours;
everything which reaches him from without is thus more or less modified by the
character of the shell. Thus, until a man has complete control of thought and
feeling he see nothing as it really is, since all his observations must be made
through this medium which, like a badly-made glass, distorts and colours
It was for this reason that Aryasangha [now the Master Djwal Kul] said in The
Voice of the Silence that the mind was ―the great slayer of the real‖. He was
drawing attention to the fact that we do not see any object as it is, but only the
images that we are able to make of it, everything being thus necessarily coloured
for us by these thought-forms of our own creation.
If a man‘s thought of another is merely contemplative and involves no feeling
[such as affection or dislike], or desire [such as a wish to see the person] the
thought does not usually perceptibly affect the man whom he thinks.
If, however, there is feeling, eg., affection, associated with the thought, the
thought-form, built out of matter of the thinker‘s mental body, and this astro-
mental form leaps out of the body in which it has been generated, goes straight
towards the object of the feeling, and fastens itself upon him.
It may be compared to a Leyden jar; the form of elemental essence corresponds
to the Leyden jar, and the thought energy to the charge of electricity.
If the man is at the moment in a passive condition, or if he has within him active
vibrations of a character harmonious with those of the thought-form, the thought-
form will at once discharge itself upon him, and in the act cease to exist. The
effect is to provoke a vibration similar to its own, if none such already exists; or to
intensify it is it is already to be found there.
If the man‘s mind is so strongly occupied along other lines that it is impossible for
the vibration to find an entrance, the thought-form hovers about him waiting for
an opportunity to discharge itself.
A thought-form sent from one person to another thus involves the actual
transference of a certain amount both of force and of matter from the sender to
the recipient.
The difference between the effect of a thought-wave and that of a thought-form is
that the thought-wave as we saw in Chapter VII, does not produce a definite
complete idea, but tends to produce a thought as the same character as itself; a
thought-wave is thus much less definite in its action, but reaches a far wider
A thought-form on the other hand, does convey a definite complete idea,
transferring the exact nature of the thought to those prepared to receive it, but it
can reach only one person at a time.
Thus a thought-wave is eminently adaptable; a wave of devotion, for example,
would tend to arouse devotion in the recipient, although the object of the devotion
might be quite different in the case of the sender and the receiver. But a thought-
form would give rise to a precise image of the being for whom the devotion was
originally felt.
If the thought is sufficiently strong, distance makes absolutely no difference to the
thought-form, but the thought of an ordinary person is usually weak and diffused,
and is, therefore, not effective outside a limited area.
A thought-form, say of love or of desire to protect, directed strongly towards
another person, goes to the person thought of, and remains in his aura as a
shielding and protecting agent; it will seek all opportunities to serve, and all
opportunities to defend, not by a conscious and deliberate action but by a blind
following out of impulse impressed upon it, and it will strengthen friendly forces
that impinge on the aura and weaken unfriendly ones. Thus are created and
maintained veritable guardian angels round those we love. Many a mother‘s
―prayer‖ for a distant child thus circles round him, acting in the manner described.
A knowledge of these facts should make us conscious of the enormous power
placed in our hands. We may repeat here what was said when we were dealing
with thought-waves, viz., that there are many cases where we may not be able to
do anything for a man on the physical plane. The man‘s mental [and astral]
bodies, however, can be affected, and they are frequently more easily
impressible than his physical body. Hence it is always open to us to affect his
mental or astral body by helpful thought, affectionate feeling etc. The laws of
thought being what they are, it is certain that results must accrue; there is no
possibility of failure, even though no obvious consequence may follow on the
physical plane.
The student will readily perceive that a thought-form can affect another person
only if in the aura of that person there are materials capable of responding
sympathetically to the vibration of the thought-form. In cases where the vibrations
of the thought-form are outside the limits within which the person‘s aura is
capable of vibrating, the thought-form rebounds from it, and that with a force
proportional to the energy with which it impinged upon it.
Hence the saying that a pure mind and heart are the best protection against
inimical assaults, for a pure mind and heart will construct mental and astral
bodies of fine and subtle materials, and these bodies cannot respond to
vibrations that demand coarse and dense matter.
If an evil thought, projected with malefic intent, strikes such a purified body, it will
rebound and fly back along the magnetic line of least resistance, returning to and
striking its projector. He, having matter in his mental and astral bodies similar to
that of the thought-form he generated, is thrown into respondent vibrations, and
suffers the destructive effects he had intended to cause another. Thus ― curses ―
[and blessings] come home to roost.‖ From this arise also the very serious
effects of hating or suspecting a good and highly advanced man; the thought-
forms sent against him cannot injure him, and they rebound against their
projectors, shattering them mentally, morally, or physically.
When as man thinks of himself as in some distant place, or wishes earnestly to
be there, the thought-form, which he makes in his own image, appears in that
place. Not infrequently such a form has been seen by others, and has sometimes
been mistaken for the astral body or apparition of the man himself. To make this
possible, either the seer must have sufficient clairvoyance for the time to be able
to see the thought-form, or the thought-form must have sufficient strength to
materialise itself i.e.,, to draw round itself temporarily a certain amount of
physical matter.
The thought which generates such a form must necessarily be a strong one, and
it therefore employs a large proportion of the matter of the mental body, so that
though the form is small and compressed when it leaves the thinker, it usually
expands to life-size before it appears at its destination. Furthermore, a thought-
form such as this, which must essentially be composed of mental matter, in very
many cases will also draw round itself a considerable amount of astral matter.In
taking on the astral form the mental elemental loses much of its brilliance, though
its glowing colour may still be plainly visible inside the shell of lower matter which
it assumes. Just as the original thought ensouls the elemental essence of the
mental plane, so the same thought, plus its form as a mental elemental, acts as
the soul of the astral elemental.
None of the consciousness of the thinker would be included in a thought-form
such as that just described. When once sent out from him it would normally be
quite a separate entity –not, indeed entirely unconnected with its creator, but
practically so as far as the possibility of receiving any impression through it is
There is, however, a type of clairvoyance rather more advanced than ordinary
clairvoyance, necessitating a certain amount of control upon the mental plane. It
is necessary to retain so much hold over a newly created thought-form as will
render it possible to receive impressions by means of it. Such impressions as
were made upon the form would be transmitted to the thinker by sympathetic
vibration. In a perfect case of this kind of clairvoyance it is almost as though the
seer projected a part of his consciousness into the thought-form, and used it as a
kind of outpost from which observation was possible. He is able to see almost as
well as he would if he himself stood in the place of his thought-form. The figures
at which he is looking will appear to him as of life size and close at hand and he
will find it possible to shift his point of view if he wishes to do so.
Everyone who can think at all exercises the power to create thought-forms.
Thoughts are things, and very puissant things; everyone of us is generating
thought-forms unceasingly night and day. Our thoughts, as many might suppose,
are not exclusively our own business. Evil thoughts, in fact, reach much further
than evil words, and may affect any other persons who already have germs of
evil in them.
As a Master has written:

“Man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded
with the offspring of his fancies, desires, impulses and passions.”
A Master has also written of the Adept being able: “To project into and
materialise in the visible world the forms that his imagination has constructed out
of inert cosmic matter in the invisible world. The adept does not create anything
new, but only utilises and manipulates materials which Nature has in store
around him, and material which, throughout eternities has passed through all
forms. He has but to choose the one he wants and recall it into objective
The difference between an undeveloped and a developed man is that the
developed man uses thought-power consciously. When such a man can
consciously create and direct a thought-form, his powers of usefulness obviously
very largely increase; for he can use the thought-form to work in places which, at
the moment he cannot conveniently visit in his mental body. He can thus watch
and guide his thought-forms and make them the agents of his will.
Perhaps the supreme example of a thought-form is that known in the Christian
Church as the Angel of the Presence. This is not a member of the kingdom of the
Angels, but a thought-form of the Christ, wearing His likeness and being an
extension of the consciousness of the Christ Himself. It is by means of the Angel
of the Presence that is made the change in the ―elements‖ known as
A similar phenomenon occurs, though at a less high level, in Masonic Lodges
where a portrait of the H.O.A.T.F. is used. So fully is this thought-form a part of
Himself that the Lodge has the benefit of His presence and His blessing just as
though He stood there in physical form.
It is possible, by an exertion of will-power, instantly to dissipate an artificial
elemental, or thought-form, just as it is possible on the physical plane to kill a
poisonous snake in order that it may do no further harm. Neither course of action,
however, would commend itself to an occultist except in very unusual
circumstances. In order to make clear the reason of this, some little explanation
regarding the elemental essence is necessary.
Elemental essence, out of which a thought-form is constructed is, as we have
already seen, evolving on its own account, i.e.,, it is learning to vibrate at all
possible rates. When therefore, a thought holds it for a time vibrating at a certain
rate, it is helped to this extent, so that next time a similar vibration strikes it, it will
respond more readily than before.
Whether the thought ensouling it is evil or good makes no difference whatever to
the essence; all that is required for its development is to be used by thought of
some kind. The difference between the good and the evil in the would be shown
by the quality of essence which was affected, an evil thought or desire needing
for its expression the coarser matter, a higher thought or desire requiring finer
Thus by degrees mental elemental essence is being evolved, through the action
on it of the thoughts of men, nature spirits, devas, and even animals so far as
they do think.
For this reason, therefore, i.e.,, lest he should in any way impede its evolution,
the occultist avoids when possible the destruction of an artificial elemental,
preferring rather to defend himself or others against it by using the protection of a
The student should not, of course, imagine it is his duty to think coarse thoughts
in order to help the evolution of the coarser types of essence. There are plenty of
undeveloped people always thinking the coarser, lower thoughts; the occultist
should strive ever to think high and pure thoughts and thus aid the evolution of
the finer elemental matter, thus working in a field where there are as yet few
Before leaving this subject of thought-forms we should note that every sound
makes its impression upon astral and mental matter –not only what we call
musical sounds, but every kind of sound Some of these were described in The
Astral Body, Chapter VII.
The thought-form edifice built up on the higher planes during the celebration of
the Christian Eucharist, differs somewhat from ordinary thought-forms, though it
has much in common with forms created by music. It consists of a higher plane
structure composed of the materials provided by the priest and his congregation
during the earlier part of the service at the etheric, astral and mental levels,
matter of still higher levels being introduced in the later portion of the service,
chiefly from the Angelic host.
The thought-edifice may be compared to the condenser in a plant for the
distillation of water. The steam is cooled and condensed into water in the cooling
chamber. Similarly, the eucharistic edifice provides a vehicle for the collection
and condensation of the materials provided by the worshippers, into which an
especial outpouring of the divine force from the very highest levels may descend,
and which may enable the Angel- helpers to use that force for certain definite
purposes in the physical world.
The ceremonies of all great religions aim at producing such results by some sort
of common action. The ceremonies of Freemasonry attain a similar object,
though in a different way. The thought-form built up by a Masonic ceremony is
the real ―celestial canopy‖ which may also be regarded as the aura of a man lying
on his back. This symbolism appears elsewhere as, for example, in Joseph‘s
coat of many colours, in the Robe of Glory which the initiate puts on, and also in
the Augoeides [see p. 237] of the Greek Philosophers, the glorified body in which
the soul of man dwells in the subtle invisible world.

Before proceeding to consider the phenomenon of thought-transference, and its
effects on men, it will be convenient first to describe the mechanism by means of
which thought is transmitted from one person to another.
The term telepathy means literally ―feeling at a distance‖, and might, therefore,
have been appropriately confined to the transmission of feelings and emotions. It
is however, now generally used almost synonymously with thought-transference,
and may be taken to cover any transfer of an image, thought or feeling from one
person to another by non-physical means.
There are three possibilities in telepathy ; there may be direct communication
[1] two etheric brains
[2] two astral bodies
[3] two mental bodies

In the first method, which we may call the physical or etheric method, a thought
causes vibrations first in the mental body then in the astral body, then in the
etheric brain, and finally in the dense molecules of the physical brain. By the
brain-vibrations the physical ether is affected and the waves pass outwards till
they reach another brain, where they set up vibrations in its etheric and dense
particles. These vibration in the receiving brain are then transmitted to the astral
and mental bodies attached to it, and so reach the consciousness.
If a person thinks strongly of a concrete form in the physical brain he makes the
form in etheric matter; in the effort of making the image he also sends out etheric
waves in every direction. It is not the image itself which is sent out, but a set of
vibrations which will reproduce the image. The process is somewhat analogous
to the telephone, where the voice itself is not conveyed, but a number of
electrical vibrations are set up by the voice, which when they enter the receiver,
are converted once more into the sounds of the voice.
The pineal gland is the organ of thought-transference, just as the eye is the
organ of vision. The pineal gland in most people is rudimentary, but it is
evolving, not retrograding, and it is possible to quicken its evolution so that it can
perform its proper function, the function which, in the future, it will discharge in
If anyone thinks very intently on a single idea, with concentration and sustained
attention, he will become conscious of a slight quiver or creeping feeling –it has
been compared to the creeping of an ant –in the pineal gland. The quiver takes
place in the ether which permeates the gland and causes a slight magnetic
current which gives rise to the creeping feeling in the dense molecules of the
gland. If the thought be strong enough to cause the current, then the thinker
knows that he has been successful in bringing his thought to a pointedness and a
strength which render it capable of being transmitted.
The vibration in the ether of the pineal gland sets up waves in the surrounding
ether like waves of light, only much smaller and more rapid. These vibrations
pass out in all directions, setting the ether in motion, and these etheric waves in
turn produce vibrations in the ether of the pineal gland in another brain, and from
that are transmitted to the astral and mental bodies in regular succession, as
previously described, thus reaching consciousness. If the second pineal gland
cannot reproduce the undulations then the thought will pass unnoticed, making
no impression, any more than waves of light make an impression on the eye of a
blind man.
In the second, or astral method of thought-transference, the etheric brain does
not enter into the process at all, the communication being direct from one astral
body to another.
In the third, or mental method, the thinker, having created a thought on the
mental plane, does not send it down to the brain but directs it immediately to the
mental body of another thinker. The power to do this deliberately implies a far
higher mental evolution than does the physical method of thought-transference,
for the sender must be self-conscious on the mental plane in order to exercise
knowingly this activity. When mankind is more evolved, this will probably be the
common method of communication. It is already employed by the Masters in the
instruction of Their pupils, and in this way They can convey with ease the most
complicated ideas.

In Chapters VII and VIII we have dealt with the generation of thought-waves and
thought-forms, and, to some extent, with the effect of these on others. The latter
aspect of our subject is sufficiently important to necessitate further elaboration.
We will deal first with that kind of thought-transference which is either wholly or
partially unconscious.
From what has