Astral Plane Artificial

This, the largest class of astral entities, is also much the most

important to man. Being entirely his own creation, it is inter-related

with him by the closest karmic bonds, and its action upon him is

direct and incessant. It is an enormous inchoate mass of

semi-intelligent entities, differing among themselves as human

thoughts differ, and practically incapable of anything like

classification or arrangement. The only division which can be usefully

made is that which distinguishes between the artificial elementals

made by the majority of mankind unconsciously, and those made by

magicians with definite intent; while we may relegate to a third class

the very small number of artificially arranged entities which are not

elementals at all.

1. _Elementals formed unconsciously._

It has already been explained that the elemental essence which

surrounds us on every side is in all its numberless varieties

singularly susceptible to the influence of human thought. The action

of the mere casual wandering thought upon it, causing it to burst into

a cloud of rapidly-moving, evanescent forms, has already been

described; we have now to note how it is affected when the human mind

formulates a definite, purposeful thought or wish. The effect produced

is of the most striking nature. The thought seizes upon the plastic

essence, and moulds it instantly into a living being of appropriate

form--a being which when once thus created is in no way under the

control of its creator, but lives out a life of its own, the length

of which is proportionate to the intensity of the thought or wish

which called it into existence. It lasts, in fact, just as long as the

thought-force holds it together. Most people's thoughts are so

fleeting and indecisive that the elementals created by them last only

a few minutes or a few hours, but an often-repeated thought or an

earnest wish will form an elemental whose existence may extend to many

days. Since the ordinary man's thoughts refer very largely to himself,

the elementals they form remain hovering about him, and constantly

tend to provoke a repetition of the idea they represent, since such

repetitions, instead of forming new elementals, would strengthen the

old one, and give it a fresh lease of life. A man, therefore, who

frequently dwells upon one wish often forms for himself an astral

attendant which, constantly fed by fresh thought, may haunt him for

years, ever gaining more and more strength and influence over him; and

it will easily be seen that if the desire be an evil one the effect

upon his moral nature may be of the most disastrous character.

Still more pregnant of result for good or evil are a man's thoughts

about other people, for in that case they hover not about the thinker,

but about the object of the thought. A kindly thought about any person

or an earnest wish for his good will form and project towards him a

friendly artificial elemental; if the wish be a definite one, as, for

example, that he may recover from some sickness, then the elemental

will be a force ever hovering over him to promote his recovery, or to

ward off any influence that might tend to hinder it, and in doing this

it will display what appears like a very considerable amount of

intelligence and adaptability, though really it is simply a force

acting along the line of least resistance--pressing steadily in one

direction all the time, and taking advantage of any channel that it

can find, just as the water in a cistern would in a moment find the

one open pipe among a dozen closed ones, and proceed to empty itself

through that. If the wish be merely an indefinite one for his general

good, the elemental essence in its wonderful plasticity will respond

exactly to that less distinct idea also, and the creature formed will

expend its force in the direction of whatever action for the man's

advantage comes most readily to hand. Of course in all cases the

amount of such force it has to expend, and the length of time that it

will live to expend it, depend entirely upon the strength of the

original wish or thought which gave it birth; though it must be

remembered that it can be, as it were, fed and strengthened, and its

life-period protracted by other good wishes or friendly thoughts

projected in the same direction.

Furthermore, it appears to be actuated, like most other beings, by an

instinctive desire to prolong its life, and thus reacts on its creator

as a force constantly tending to provoke the renewal of the feeling

which called it into existence. It also influences in a similar manner

others with whom it comes into contact, though its _rapport_ with them

is naturally not so perfect.

All that has been said as to the effect of good wishes and friendly

thoughts is also true in the opposite direction of evil wishes and

angry thoughts; and considering the amount of envy, hatred, malice and

all uncharitableness that exists in the world, it will be readily

understood that among the artificial elementals many terrible

creatures are to be seen. A man whose thoughts or desires are

spiteful, brutal, sensual, avaricious, moves through the world

carrying with him everywhere a pestiferous atmosphere of his own,

peopled with the loathsome beings he has created to be his companions,

and thus is not only in sadly evil case himself, but is a dangerous

nuisance to his fellow-men, subjecting all who have the misfortune to

come into contact with him to the risk of moral contagion from the

influence of the abominations with which he chooses to surround

himself. A feeling of envious or jealous hatred towards another person

will send an evil elemental to hover over him and seek for a weak

point through which it can operate; and if the feeling be a persistent

one, such a creature may be continually nourished by it and thereby

enabled to protract its undesirable activity for a very long period.

It can, however, produce no effect upon the person towards whom it is

directed unless he has himself some tendency which it can foster--some

fulcrum for its lever, as it were; from the aura of a man of pure

thought and good life all such influences at once rebound, finding

nothing upon which they can fasten, and in that case, by a very

curious law, they react in all their force upon their original

creator. In him by the hypothesis they find a very congenial sphere of

action, and thus the Karma of his evil wish works itself out at once

by means of the very entity which he himself has called into

existence. It occasionally happens, however, that an artificial

elemental of this description is for various reasons unable to expend

its force either upon its object or its creator, and in such cases it

becomes a kind of wandering demon, readily attracted by any person who

indulges feelings similar to that which gave it birth, and equally

prepared either to stimulate such feelings in him for the sake of the

strength it may gain from them, or to pour out its store of evil

influence upon him through any opening which he may offer it. If it is

sufficiently powerful to seize upon and inhabit some passing shell it

frequently does so, as the possession of such a temporary home enables

it to husband its dreadful resources more carefully. In this form it

may manifest through a medium, and by masquerading as some well-known

friend may sometimes obtain an influence over people upon whom it

would otherwise have little hold.

What has been written above will serve to enforce the statement

already made as to the importance of maintaining a strict control over

our thoughts. Many a well-meaning man, who is scrupulously careful to

do his duty towards his neighbour in word and deed, is apt to consider

that his thoughts at least are nobody's business but his own, and so

lets them run riot in various directions, utterly unconscious of the

swarms of baleful creatures he is launching upon the world. To such a

man an accurate comprehension of the effect of thought and desire in

producing artificial elementals would come as a horrifying revelation;

on the other hand, it would be the greatest consolation to many

devoted and grateful souls who are oppressed with the feeling that

they are unable to do anything in return for the kindness lavished

upon them by their benefactors. For friendly thoughts and earnest good

wishes are as easily and as effectually formulated by the poorest as

by the richest, and it is within the power of almost any man, if he

will take the trouble, to maintain what is practically a good angel

always at the side of the brother or sister, the friend or the child

whom he loves best, no matter in what part of the world he may be.

Many a time a mother's loving thoughts and prayers have formed

themselves into an angel guardian for the child, and except in the

almost impossible case that the child had in him no instinct

responsive to a good influence, have undoubtedly given him assistance

and protection. Such guardians may often be seen by clairvoyant

vision, and there have even been cases where one of them has had

sufficient strength to materialize and become for the moment visible

to physical sight. A curious fact which deserves mention here is that

even after the passage of the mother into the devachanic condition the

love which she pours out upon the children she thinks of as

surrounding her will react upon the real children still living in this

world, and will often support the guardian elemental which she

created while on earth, until her dear ones themselves pass away in

turn. As Madame Blavatsky remarks, "her love will always be felt by

the children in the flesh; it will manifest in their dreams and often

in various events, in providential protections and escapes--for love

is a strong shield, and is not limited by space or time" (_Key to

Theosophy_, p. 150). All the stories of the intervention of guardian

angels must not, however, be attributed to the action of artificial

elementals, for in many cases such "angels" have been the souls of

either living or recently departed human beings, and they have also

occasionally, though rarely, been Devas.

This power of an earnest desire, especially if frequently repeated, to

create an active elemental which ever presses forcefully in the

direction of its own fulfilment, is the scientific explanation of what

devout but unphilosophical people describe as answers to prayer. There

are occasions, though at present these are rare, when the Karma of the

person so praying is such as to permit of assistance being directly

rendered to him by an Adept or his pupil, and there is also the still

rarer possibility of the intervention of a Deva or some friendly

nature-spirit; but in all these cases the easiest and most obvious

form for such assistance to take would be the strengthening and the

intelligent direction of the elemental already formed by the wish.

A very curious and instructive instance of the extreme persistence of

these artificial elementals under favourable circumstances came under

the notice of one of our investigators quite recently. All readers of

the literature of such subjects are aware that many of our ancient

families are supposed to have associated with them a traditional

death-warning--a phenomenon of one kind or another which foretells,

usually some days beforehand, the approaching decease of the head of

the house. A picturesque example of this is the well-known story of

the white bird of the Oxenhams, whose appearance has ever since the

time of Queen Elizabeth been recognized as a sure presage of the death

of some member of the family; while another is the spectral coach

which is reported to drive up to the door of a certain castle in the

north when a similar calamity is impending. A phenomenon of this order

occurs in connection with the family of one of our members, but it is

of a much commoner and less striking type than either of the above,

consisting only of a solemn and impressive strain of dirge-like music,

which is heard apparently floating in the air three days before the

death takes place. Our member, having himself twice heard this mystic

sound, finding its warning in both cases quite accurate, and knowing

also that according to family tradition the same thing had been

happening for several centuries, set himself to seek by occult methods

for the cause underlying so strange a phenomenon. The result was

unexpected but interesting. It appeared that somewhere in the twelfth

century the head of the family went to the crusades, like many another

valiant man, and took with him to win his spurs in the sacred cause

his youngest and favourite son, a promising youth whose success in

life was the dearest wish of his father's heart. Unhappily, however,

the young man was killed in battle, and the father was plunged into

the depths of despair, lamenting not only the loss of his son, but

still more the fact that he was cut off so suddenly in the full flush

of careless and not altogether blameless youth. So poignant, indeed,

were the old man's feelings that he cast off his knightly armour and

joined one of the great monastic orders, vowing to devote all the

remainder of his life to prayer, first for the soul of his son, and

secondly that henceforward no descendant of his might ever again

encounter what seemed to his simple and pious mind the terrible danger

of meeting death unprepared. Day after day for many a year he poured

all the energy of his soul into the channel of that one intense wish,

firmly believing that somehow or other the result he so earnestly

desired would be brought about. A student of occultism will have

little difficulty in deciding what would be the effect of such a

definite and long-continued stream of thought; our knightly monk

created an artificial elemental of immense power and resourcefulness

for its own particular object, and accumulated within it a store of

force which would enable it to carry out his wishes for an indefinite

period. An elemental is a perfect storage-battery--one from which

there is practically no leakage; and when we remember what its

original strength must have been, and how comparatively rarely it

would be called upon to put it forth, we shall scarcely wonder that

even now it exhibits unimpaired vitality, and still warns the direct

descendants of the old crusader of their approaching doom by repeating

in their ears the strange wailing music which was the dirge of a young

and valiant soldier seven hundred years ago in Palestine.

2. _Elementals formed consciously._

Since such results as have been described above have been achieved by

the thought-force of men who were entirely in the dark as to what they

were doing, it will readily be imagined that a magician who

understands the subject, and can see exactly what effect he is

producing, may wield immense power along these lines. As a matter of

fact occultists of both the 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; for one who knows how to do so can maintain

a connection with his elemental and guide it, no matter at what

distance it may be working, so that it will practically act as though

endowed with the full intelligence of its master. Very definite and

very efficient guardian angels have sometimes been supplied in this

way, though it is probably very rarely that Karma permits such a

decided interference in a person's life as that would be. In such a

case, however, as that of a pupil of the Adepts, who might have in the

course of his work for them to run the risk of attack from forces with

which his unaided strength would be entirely insufficient to cope,

guardians of this description have been given, and have fully proved

their sleepless vigilance and their tremendous power. By some of the

more advanced processes of black magic, also, artificial elementals of

great power may be called into existence, and much evil has been

worked in various ways by such entities. But it is true of them, as of

the previous class, that if they are aimed at a person whom by reason

of his purity of character they are unable to influence they react

with terrible force upon their creator; so that the mediaeval story of

the magician being torn to pieces by the fiends he himself had raised

is no mere fable, but may well have an awful foundation in fact.

Such creatures occasionally, for various reasons, escape from the

control of those who are trying to make use of them, and become

wandering and aimless demons, as do some of those mentioned under the

previous heading under similar circumstances; but those that we are

considering, having much more intelligence and power, and a much

longer existence, are proportionately more dangerous. They invariably

seek for means of prolonging their life either by feeding like

vampires upon the vitality of human beings, or by influencing them to

make offerings to them; and among simple half-savage tribes they have

frequently succeeded by judicious management in getting themselves

recognized as village or family gods. Any deity which demands

sacrifices involving the shedding of blood may always be set down as

belonging to the lowest and most loathsome class of this order; other

less objectionable types are sometimes content with offerings of rice

and cooked food of various kinds. There are parts of India where both

these varieties may be found flourishing even at the present day, and

in Africa they are probably comparatively numerous. By means of

whatever nourishment they can obtain from the offerings, and still

more by the vitality they draw from their devotees, they may continue

to prolong their existence for many years, or even centuries,

retaining sufficient strength to perform occasional phenomena of a

mild type in order to stimulate the faith and zeal of their followers,

and invariably making themselves unpleasant in some way or other if

the accustomed sacrifices are neglected. For example, it was asserted

recently that in one Indian village the inhabitants had found that

whenever for any reason the local deity did not get his or her regular

meals, spontaneous fires began to break out with alarming frequency

among the cottages, sometimes three or four simultaneously, in cases

where they declared it was impossible to suspect human agency; and

other stories of a more or less similar nature will no doubt recur to

the memory of any reader who knows something of the out-of-the-way

corners of that most wonderful of all countries.

The art of manufacturing artificial elementals of extreme virulence

and power seems to have been one of the specialities of the magicians

of Atlantis--"the lords of the dark face". One example of their

capabilities in this line is given in _The Secret Doctrine_ (vol. ii.,

p. 427), where we read of the wonderful speaking animals who had to be

quieted by an offering of blood, lest they should awaken their masters

and warn them of the impending destruction. But apart from these

strange beasts they created other artificial entities of power and

energy so tremendous, that it is darkly hinted that some of them have

kept themselves in existence even to this day, though it is more than

eleven thousand years since the cataclysm which overwhelmed their

original masters. The terrible Indian goddess whose devotees were

impelled to commit in her name the awful crimes of Thuggee--the

ghastly Kali, worshipped even to this day with rites too abominable to

be described--might well be a relic of a system which had to be swept

away even at the cost of the submergence of a continent, and the loss

of sixty-five million human lives.

3. _Human Artificials._

We have now to consider a class of entities which, though it contains

but very few individuals, has acquired from its intimate connection

with one of the great movements of modern times an importance entirely

out of proportion to its numbers. It seems doubtful whether it should

appear under the first or third of our main divisions; but, though

certainly human, it is so far removed from the course of ordinary

evolution, so entirely the product of a will outside of its own, that

it perhaps falls most naturally into place among the artificial

beings. The easiest way of describing it will be to commence with its

history, and to do that we must once more look back to the great

Atlantean race. In thinking of the Adepts and schools of occultism of

that remarkable people our minds instinctively revert to the evil

practices of which we hear so much in connection with their latter

days; but we must not forget that before that age of selfishness and

degradation the mighty civilization of Atlantis had brought forth much

that was noble and worthy of admiration, and that among its leaders

were some who now stand upon the loftiest pinnacles as yet attained by

man. Among the lodges for occult study preliminary to initiation

formed by the Adepts of the good Law was one in a certain part of

America which was then tributary to one of the great Atlantean

monarchs--"the Divine Rulers of the Golden Gate"; and though it has

passed through many and strange vicissitudes, though it has had to

move its headquarters from country to country as each in turn was

invaded by the jarring elements of a later civilization, that lodge

still exists even at the present day, observing still the same

old-world ritual even teaching as a sacred and hidden language the

same Atlantean tongue which was used at its foundation so many

thousands of years ago. It still remains what it was from the first--a

lodge of occultists of pure and philanthropic aims, which can lead

those students whom it finds worthy no inconsiderable distance on the

road to knowledge, and confers such psychic powers as are in its gift

only after the most searching tests as to the fitness of the

candidate. Its teachers do not stand upon the Adept level, yet

hundreds have learnt through it how to set their feet upon the Path

which has led them to Adeptship in later lives; and though it is not

in direct communication with the Brotherhood of the Himalayas, there

are some among the latter who have themselves been connected with it

in former incarnations, and therefore retain a more than ordinarily

friendly interest in its proceedings.

The chiefs of this lodge, though they have always kept themselves and

their society strictly in the background, have nevertheless done what

they could from time to time to assist the progress of truth in the

world, and some half-century ago, in despair at the rampant

materialism which seemed to be stifling all spirituality in Europe and

America, they determined to make an attempt to combat it by somewhat

novel methods--in point of fact to offer opportunities by which any

reasonable man could acquire absolute proof of that life apart from

the physical body which it was the tendency of science to deny. The

phenomena exhibited were not in themselves absolutely new, since in

some form or other we may hear of them all through history; but their

definite organization--their production as it were to order--these

were features distinctly new to the modern world. The movement they

thus set on foot gradually grew into the vast fabric of modern

spiritualism, and though it would perhaps be unfair to hold the

originators of the scheme directly responsible for many of the results

which have followed, we must admit that they have achieved their

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 is undoubtedly a magnificent result, though,

in the opinion of many of those whose power and knowledge enable them

to take a wider view of such matters than we can, it has been attained

at too great a cost, since it seems to them that on the whole the harm

done outweighs the good. 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

the same line, they all acted upon those who sat at their _seances_,

and "developed" them as mediums; and so spiritualism grew and

flourished. No doubt living members of the original lodge occasionally

manifested themselves in astral form at some of the circles--perhaps

they may do so even now; but in most cases they simply gave such

direction and guidance as they considered necessary to the persons

they had put in charge. There is little doubt that the movement

increased so much more rapidly than they had expected that it soon got

quite beyond their control, so that, as has been said, for many of the

later developments they can only be held indirectly responsible.

Of course the intensification of the astral-plane life in those

persons who were thus put in charge of circles distinctly delayed

their natural progress; and though the idea had been that anything

lost in this way would be fully atoned for by the good Karma gained

by helping to lead others to the 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 therefore withdrawn, and others substituted for them; in

others it was considered for various reasons undesirable to make such

a change, and then a very 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 their long delayed evolution into the devachanic

condition, but the shade he left behind him was taken possession of,

sustained, and operated upon so that it might appear to its admiring

circle practically just as before. This seems at first to have been

done by members of the lodge themselves, but apparently that

arrangement was found irksome or unsuitable, or perhaps was considered

a waste of force, and the same objection applied to the use for this

purpose of an artificial elemental; so it was eventually 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. It is

said that some members of the lodge objected to this on the ground

that though the purpose might be entirely good a certain amount of

deception was involved; but the general opinion seems to have been

that as the shade really was the same, and contained something at any

rate of the original lower Manas, there was nothing that could be

called deception in the matter. This, then, was the genesis of the

human artificial entity, and it is understood that in some cases more

than one such change has been made without arousing suspicion, though

on the other hand some investigators of spiritualism have remarked on

the fact that after a considerable lapse of time certain differences

suddenly became observable in the manner and disposition of a

"spirit". It is needless to say that none of the Adept Brotherhood has

ever approved of 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. A weak point in the arrangement is that many

others besides the original lodge may adopt this plan, and there is

nothing whatever to prevent black magicians from supplying

communicating "spirits"--as, indeed, they have been known to do.

With this class we conclude our survey of the inhabitants of the

astral plane. With the reservations specially made some few pages

back, the catalogue may be taken as a fairly complete one; but it must

once more be emphasized that this treatise claims only to sketch the

merest outline of a very vast subject, the detailed elaboration of

which would need a lifetime of study and hard work.

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