Astral Plane Dead





To begin with, of course this very word "dead" is an absurd misnomer,

as most of the entities classified under this heading are as fully

alive as we are ourselves; the term must be understood as meaning

those who are for the time unattached to a physical body. They may be

subdivided into nine principal classes as follows:



1. _The Nirmanakaya._



This class is just mentioned in order to make the catalogue complete,

but it is of course very rarely indeed that so exalted a being

manifests himself upon so low a plane as this. When for any reason

connected with his sublime work he found it desirable to do so, he

would probably create a temporary astral body for the purpose, just as

the Adept in the Mayavirupa would do, since the more refined vesture

would be invisible to astral sight. Further information about the

position and work of the Nirmanakayas may be found in Madame

Blavatsky's _Theosophical Glossary_ and _The Voice of the Silence_.



2. _The Chela awaiting reincarnation._



It has frequently been stated in Theosophical literature that when the

pupil reaches a certain stage he is able with the assistance of his

Master to escape from the action of what is in ordinary cases the law

of nature which carries a human being into the devachanic condition

after death, there to receive his due reward in the full working out

of all the spiritual forces which his highest aspirations have set in

motion while on earth. As the pupil must by the hypothesis be a man of

pure life and high thought, it is probable that in his case these

spiritual forces will be of abnormal strength, and therefore if he, to

use the technical expression, "takes his Devachan," it is likely to be

an extremely long one; but if instead of taking it he chooses the Path

of Renunciation (thus even at his low level and in his humble way

beginning to follow in the footsteps of the Great Master of

Renunciation, GAUTAMA BUDDHA Himself), he is able to expend that

reserve of force in quite another direction--to use it for the benefit

of mankind, and so, infinitesimal though his offering may be, to take

his tiny part in the great work of the Nirmanakayas. By taking this

course he no doubt sacrifices centuries of intense bliss, but on the

other hand he gains the enormous advantage of being able to continue

his life of work and progress without a break. When a pupil who has

decided to do this dies, he simply steps out of his body, as he has

often done before, and waits upon the astral plane until a suitable

reincarnation can be arranged for him by his Master. This being a

marked departure from the usual course of procedure, the permission of

a very high authority has to be obtained before the attempt can be

made; yet, even when this is granted, so strong is the force of

natural law, that it is said the pupil must be careful to confine

himself strictly to the Kamaloka while the matter is being arranged,

lest if he once, even for a moment, touched the devachanic plane, he

might be swept as by an irresistible current into the line of normal

evolution again. In some cases, though these are rare, he is enabled

to avoid the trouble of a new birth by being placed directly in an

adult body whose previous tenant has no further use for it, but

naturally it is not often that a suitable body is available. Far more

frequently he has to wait on the astral plane, as mentioned before,

until the opportunity of a fitting birth presents itself. In the

meantime, however, he is losing no time, for he is just as fully

himself as ever he was, and is able to go on with the work given him

by his Master even more quickly and efficiently than when in the

physical body, since he is no longer hampered by the possibility of

fatigue. His consciousness is of course quite complete, and he roams

at will through all the divisions of the Kamaloka with equal facility.

The chela awaiting reincarnation is by no means one of the common

objects of the astral plane, but still he may be met with

occasionally, and therefore he forms one of our classes. No doubt as

the evolution of humanity proceeds, and an ever-increasing proportion

enter upon the Path of Holiness, this class will become more numerous.





3. _The Ordinary Person after death._



Needless to say, this class is millions of times larger than those of

which we have spoken, and the character and condition of its members

vary within extremely wide limits. Within similarly wide limits may

vary also the length of their lives upon the astral plane, for while

there are those who pass only a few days or hours there, others remain

upon this level for many years and even centuries. A man who has led a

good and pure life, whose strongest feelings and aspirations have been

unselfish and spiritual, will have no attraction to this 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. For it must be understood that after death the true man is

withdrawing into himself, and just as at the first step of that

process he casts off the physical body, and almost directly afterwards

the etheric double and the Prana, so it is intended that he should as

soon as possible cast off also the astral or kamic body, and pass

into the devachanic condition, where alone his spiritual aspirations

can find their full fruition. The noble and pure-minded man will be

able to do this, for he has subdued all earthly passions during life;

the force of his will has been directed into higher channels, and

there is therefore but little energy of lower desire to be worked out

in Kamaloka. His stay there will consequently be very short, and most

probably he will have little more than a dreamy half-consciousness of

existence until he sinks into the sleep during which his higher

principles finally free themselves from the kamic envelope and enter

upon the blissful rest of Devachan.



For the person who has not as yet entered upon the path of occult

development, what has been described is the ideal state of affairs,

but naturally it is not attained by all, or even by the majority. The

average man has by no means freed himself from the lower desires

before death, and it takes a long period of more or less fully

conscious life on the astral plane to allow the forces he has

generated to work themselves out, and thus release the higher Ego. The

body which he occupies during this period is the Kamarupa which may be

described as a rearrangement of the matter of his astral body; but it

is much more defined in outline, and there is also this important

difference between the two that while the astral body, if sufficiently

awakened during life to function at all freely, would probably be able

to visit all, or at any rate most, of the subdivisions of its plane,

the Kamarupa has not that liberty, but is strictly confined to that

level to which its affinities have drawn it. It has, however, a

certain kind of progress connected with it, for it generally happens

that the forces a man has set in motion during earth-life need for

their appropriate working out a sojourn on more divisions than one of

the Kamaloka, and when this is the case a regular sequence is

observed, commencing with the lowest; so that when the Kamarupa 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 denser to

the lighter strata, pausing only when it is exactly balanced for a

time. This is evidently the explanation of a remark frequently made by

the entities which appear at _seances_ to the effect that they are

about to rise to a higher sphere, from which it will be impossible, or

not so easy, to "communicate" through a medium; and it is as a matter

of fact true that a person upon the highest subdivision of this plane

would find it almost impossible to deal with any ordinary medium.



It ought perhaps to be explained here that the definiteness of outline

which distinguishes the Kamarupa from the astral body is of an

entirely different character from that definiteness which was

described as a sign of progress in the astral of the man before death.

There can never be any possibility of confusion between the two

entities, for while in the case of the man attached to a physical body

the different orders of astral particles are all inextricably mingled

and ceaselessly changing their position, after death their activity is

much more circumscribed, since they then sort themselves according to

their degree of materiality, and become, as it were, a series of

sheaths or shells surrounding him, the grossest being always outside

and so dissipating before the others. This dissipation is not

necessarily complete, the extent to which it is carried being governed

by the power of Manas to free itself from its connection with any

given level; and on this also, as will be seen later, the nature of

the "shade" depends.



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 those whom we usually

call the dead as among the living. The popular religious teaching of

the West as to man's _post-mortem_ adventures has long been so wildly

inaccurate that even intelligent people are often terribly puzzled

when they recover consciousness in Kamaloka after death. The condition

in which the new arrival finds himself differs so radically from what

he has been led to expect that it is no uncommon case for him to

refuse at first to believe that he has passed through the portals of

death at all; indeed, of so little practical value is our much-vaunted

belief in the immortality of the soul that most people consider the

very fact that they are still conscious an absolute proof that they

have not died. The horrible doctrine of eternal punishment, too, is

responsible for a vast amount of most pitiable and entirely groundless

terror among those newly arrived in Kamaloka who in many cases spend

long periods of acute mental suffering before they can free themselves

from the fatal influence of that hideous blasphemy, and realize that

the world is governed not according to the caprice of some demon who

gloats over human anguish, but according to a benevolent and

wonderfully patient law of evolution. Many members of the class we are

considering do not really attain an intelligent appreciation of this

fact at all, but drift through their astral interlude in the same

aimless manner in which they have spent the physical portion of their

lives. Thus in Kamaloka, exactly as on earth, there are the few who

comprehend something of their position and know how to make the best

of it, and the many who have not yet acquired that knowledge; and

there, just as here, the ignorant are rarely ready to profit by the

advice or example of the wise.



But of whatever grade the entity's intellect may be, it is always a

fluctuating and on the whole a gradually diminishing quantity, for the

lower Manas is being drawn in opposite directions by the higher Triad

which acts on it from above its level and the Kama which operates from

below; and therefore it oscillates between the two attractions, with

an ever-increasing tendency towards the former as the kamic forces

wear themselves out. And here comes in the evil of what is called at

_seances_ the "development" of a spirit through a medium--a process

the object of which is to intensify the downward pull of the Kama, to

awaken the lower portion of the entity (that being all that can be

reached) from the natural and desirable unconsciousness into which it

is passing, and thus to prolong unnaturally its existence in the

Kamaloka. The peculiar danger of this will be seen when it is

recollected that the real man is all the while steadily withdrawing

into himself, and is therefore as time goes on less and less able to

influence or guide this lower portion, which nevertheless, until the

separation is complete, has the power to generate Karma, and under the

circumstances is obviously far more likely to add evil than good to

its record. Thus the harm done is threefold: first, the retardation of

the separation between Manas and Kama, and the consequent waste of

time and prolongation of the interval between two incarnations;

secondly, the extreme probability (almost amounting to certainty) that

a large addition will be made to the individual's evil Karma, which

will have to be worked out in future births; thirdly, the terrible

danger that this abnormal intensification of the force of Kama may

eventually enable the latter to entangle the whole of the lower Manas

inextricably, and so cause the entire loss of an incarnation. Though

such a result as this last-mentioned is happily uncommon, it is a

thing that has happened more than once; and in very many cases where

the evil has fallen short of this ultimate possibility, the individual

has nevertheless lost much more of his lower Manas by this additional

entanglement with Kama than he would have done if left to withdraw

into himself quietly as nature intended. It is not denied that a

certain amount of good may occasionally be done to very degraded

entities at spiritualistic circles; but the intention of nature

obviously is that such assistance should be given, as it frequently

is, by occult students who are able to visit the astral plane during

earth-life, and have been trained by competent teachers to deal by

whatever methods may be most helpful with the various cases which they

encounter. It will be readily seen that such a scheme of help,

carrying with it as it does the possibility of instant reference to

higher authorities in any doubtful case, is infinitely safer than any

casual assistance obtained through a medium who may be (and indeed

generally is) entirely ignorant of the laws governing spiritual

evolution, and who is as liable to the domination of evil or

mischievous influences as of good ones.



Apart altogether from any question of development through a medium,

there is another and much more frequently exercised influence which

may seriously retard a disembodied entity on his way to Devachan, and

that is the intense and uncontrolled grief of his surviving friends or

relatives. It is one among many melancholy results of the terribly

inaccurate and even irreligious view that we in the West have for

centuries been taking of death, that we not only cause ourselves an

immense amount of wholly unnecessary pain over this temporary parting

from our loved ones, but we often also do serious injury to those for

whom we bear so deep an affection by means of this very regret which

we feel so acutely. As one of our ablest writers has recently told us,

when our departed brother is sinking peacefully and naturally into

pre-devachanic unconsciousness "an awakening may be caused by the

passionate sorrow and desires of friends left on earth, and these,

violently vibrating the kamic elements in the embodied persons, may

set up vibrations in the Kamarupa of the disembodied, and so reach and

rouse the lower Manas not yet withdrawn to and reunited with its

parent, the spiritual intelligence. Thus it may be roused from its

dreamy state to vivid remembrance of the earth-life so lately left.

This awakening is often accompanied by acute suffering, and even if

this be avoided the natural process of the Triad freeing itself is

rudely disturbed, and the completion of its freedom is delayed."

(_Death and After_, p. 32.) It would be well if those whose loved ones

have passed on before them would learn from these undoubted facts the

duty of restraining for the sake of those dear ones a grief which,

however natural it may be, is yet in its essence selfish. Not that

occult teaching counsels forgetfulness of the dead--far from it; but

it does suggest that a man's affectionate remembrance of his departed

friend is a force which, if properly directed into the channel of

earnest good wishes for his progress towards Devachan and his quiet

passage through Kamaloka might be of real value to him, whereas when

wasted in mourning for him and longing to have him back again it is

not only useless but harmful. It is with a true instinct that the

Hindu religion prescribes its Shraddha ceremonies and the Catholic

Church its prayers for the dead.



It sometimes happens, however, that the desire for communication is

from the other side, and that an entity of the class we are

considering has something which it specially desires to say to those

whom it has left behind. Occasionally this message is an important

one, such as, for example, an indication of the place where a missing

will is concealed; but more often it seems to us quite trivial.

Still, whatever it may be, if it is firmly impressed upon the mind of

the dead person, it is undoubtedly desirable that he should be enabled

to deliver it, as otherwise the anxiety to do so would perpetually

draw his consciousness back into the earth-life, and prevent him from

passing to higher spheres. In such a case a psychic who can understand

him, or a medium through whom he can write or speak, is of real

service to him. It should be observed that the reason why he cannot

usually write or speak without a medium is that one state of matter

can ordinarily act only upon the state next below it, and, as he has

now no denser matter in his organism than that of which the Kamarupa

is composed, he finds it impossible to set up vibrations in the

physical substance of the air or to move the physical pencil without

borrowing living matter of the intermediate order contained in the

etheric double, by means of which an impulse can readily be

transferred from the one plane to the other. Now he would be unable to

borrow this material from an ordinary person, because such a man's

principles would be too closely linked together to be separated by any

means likely to be at his command, but the very essence of mediumship

is the ready separability of the principles, so from a medium he can

draw without difficulty the matter he needs for his manifestation,

whatever it may be. When he cannot find a medium or does not

understand how to use one he sometimes makes clumsy and blundering

endeavours to communicate on his own account, and by the strength of

his will he sets elemental forces blindly working, perhaps producing

such apparently aimless manifestations as stone-throwing,

bell-ringing, etc. It consequently frequently happens that a psychic

or medium going to a house where such manifestations are taking place

may be able to discover what the entity who produces them is

attempting to say or do, and may thus put an end to the disturbance.

This would not, however, invariably be the case, as these elemental

forces are occasionally set in motion by entirely different causes.



But for one entity who is earth-bound by the desire to communicate

with his surviving friends, there are thousands who, if left alone,

would never think of doing so, although when the idea is suggested to

them through a medium they will respond to it readily enough, for

since during earth-life their interests were probably centred less in

spiritual than in worldly affairs, it is not difficult to re-awaken in

them vibrations sympathetic to matters connected with the existence

they have so lately left; and this undesirable intensification of

earthly thoughts is frequently brought about by the interference of

well-meaning but ignorant friends, who endeavour to get communications

from the departed through a medium, with the result that just in

proportion to their success he is subjected to the various dangers

mentioned above. It should also be remembered that the possible injury

to the entity itself is by no means all the harm that may accrue from

such a practice, for those who habitually attend _seances_ during life

are almost certain to develop a tendency to haunt them after death,

and so themselves in turn run the risks into which they have so often

brought their predecessors. Besides, it is well known that the vital

energy necessary to produce physical manifestations is frequently

drawn from the sitters as well as from the medium, and the eventual

effect on the latter is invariably evil, as is evinced by the large

number of such sensitives who have gone either morally or psychically

to the bad--some becoming epileptic, some taking to drink, others

falling under influences which induced them to stoop to fraud and

trickery of all kinds.



4. _The Shade._



When the separation of the principles is complete, the Kamaloka life

of the person is over, and, as before stated, he passes into the

devachanic condition. But just as when he dies to this plane he leaves

his physical body behind him, so when he dies to the astral plane he

leaves his Kamarupa behind him. If he has purged himself from all

earthly desires during life, and directed all his energies into the

channels of unselfish spiritual aspiration, his higher Ego will be

able to draw back into itself the whole of the lower Manas which it

put forth into incarnation; in that case the Kamarupa left behind on

the astral plane will be a mere corpse like the abandoned physical

body, and it will then come not into this class but into the next.

Even in the case of a man of somewhat less perfect life almost the

same result may be attained if the forces of lower desire are allowed

to work themselves out undisturbed in Kamaloka but the majority of

mankind make but very trifling and perfunctory efforts while on earth

to rid themselves of the less elevated impulses of their nature, and

consequently doom themselves not only to a greatly prolonged sojourn

on the astral plane, but also to what cannot be described otherwise

than as a loss of a portion of the lower Manas. This is, no doubt, a

very material method of expressing the great mystery of the reflection

of the higher Manas in the lower, but since only those who have passed

the portals of initiation can fully comprehend this, we must content

ourselves with the nearest approximation to exactitude which is

possible to us; and as a matter of fact, a very fairly accurate idea

of what actually takes place will be obtained by adopting the

hypothesis that the manasic principle sends down a portion of itself

into the lower world of physical life at each incarnation, and expects

to be able to withdraw it again at the end of the life, enriched by

all its varied experiences. The ordinary man, however, usually allows

himself to be so pitiably enslaved by all sorts of base desires that a

certain portion of this lower Manas becomes very closely interwoven

with Kama, and when the separation takes place, his life in Kamaloka

being over, the manasic principle has, as it were, to be torn apart,

the degraded portion remaining within the Kamarupa.



This Kamarupa then consists of the particles of astral matter from

which the lower Manas has not been able to disengage itself, and which

therefore retain it captive; for when Manas passes into Devachan these

clinging fragments adhere to a portion of it and as it were wrench it

away. The proportion of the matter of each level present in the

Kamarupa will therefore depend on the extent to which Manas has become

inextricably entangled with the lower passions. It will be obvious

that as Manas in passing from level to level is unable to free itself

completely from the matter of each, the Kamarupa will show the

presence of each grosser kind which has succeeded in retaining its

connection with it.



Thus comes into existence the class of entity which has been called

"The Shade"--an entity, be it observed, which is not in any sense the

real individual at all (for he has passed away into Devachan), but

nevertheless, not only bears his exact personal appearance, but

possesses his memory and all his little idiosyncrasies, and may,

therefore, very readily personate him, as indeed it frequently does at

_seances_. It is not, of course, conscious of any act of

impersonation, for as far as its intellect goes it must necessarily

suppose itself to be the individual, but one can imagine the horror

and disgust of the friends of the departed, if they could only realize

that they had been deceived into accepting as their loved one a mere

soulless bundle of all his worst qualities. Its length of life varies

according to the amount of the lower Manas which animates it, but as

this is all the while in process of fading out, its intellect is a

steadily 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, having

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. So much of the matter of the manasic nature as it possesses

gradually disintegrates and returns to its own plane, though not to

any individual mind, and thus the shade fades by almost imperceptible

gradations into a member of our next class.



5. _The Shell._



This is absolutely the mere astral corpse in process of

disintegration, every particle of the lower Manas having left it. It

is entirely without any kind of consciousness or intelligence, and is

drifted passively about upon the astral currents just as a cloud might

be swept in any direction by a passing breeze; but even yet it may be

galvanized for a few moments into a ghastly burlesque of life if it

happens to come within reach of a medium's 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 handwriting, but it does so merely by the automatic

action of the cells of which it is composed, which tend under

stimulation to repeat the form of action to which they are most

accustomed, and whatever amount of intelligence may lie behind any

such manifestation has most assuredly no connection with the original

entity, but is lent by the medium or his "guides" for the occasion. It

is, however, more frequently temporarily vitalized in quite another

manner, which will be described under the next head. 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, and consequently persons in whom evil

desires or passions are predominant will be very likely, when they

attend physical _seances_, to find these intensified and as it were

thrown back upon them by the unconscious shells.



There is also another variety of corpse which it is necessary to

mention under this head, though it belongs to a much earlier stage of

man's _post-mortem_ history. It has been stated above that after the

death of the physical body the Kamarupa is comparatively quickly

formed, and the etheric double cast off--this latter body being

destined to slow disintegration, precisely as is the kamarupic shell

at a later stage of the proceedings. This etheric shell, however, is

not to be met with drifting aimlessly about, as is the variety with

which we have hitherto been dealing; on the contrary, it remains

within a few yards of the decaying physical body, and since it is

readily visible to any one even slightly sensitive, it is accountable

for many of the commonly current stories of churchyard ghosts. A

psychically developed person passing one of our great cemeteries will

see hundreds of these bluish-white, misty forms hovering over the

graves where are laid the physical vestures which they have recently

left; and as they, like their lower counterparts, are in various

stages of disintegration, the sight is by no means a pleasant one.

This also, like the other kind of shell, is entirely devoid of

consciousness and intelligence; and though it may under certain

circumstances be galvanized into a very horrible form of temporary

life, this is possible only by means of some of the most loathsome

rites of one of the worst forms of black magic, about which the less

said the better. It will thus be seen that in the successive stages of

his progress from earth-life to Devachan, man casts off and leaves to

slow disintegration no less than three corpses--the physical body,

the etheric double and the Kamarupa--all of which are by degrees

resolved into their constituent elements and utilized anew on their

respective planes by the wonderful chemistry of nature.



6. _The Vitalized Shell._



This entity ought not, strictly speaking, to be classified under the

head "human" at all, since it is only its outer vesture, the passive,

senseless shell, that was once an appanage of humanity; such life,

intelligence, desire and will as it may possess are those of the

artificial elemental animating it, and that, though in terrible truth

a creation of man's evil thought, is not itself human. It will

therefore perhaps be better to deal with it more fully under its

appropriate class among the artificial entities, as its nature and

genesis will be more readily comprehensible by the time that part of

our subject is reached. Let it suffice here to mention that it is

always a malevolent being--a true tempting demon, whose evil influence

is limited only by the extent of its power. Like the shade, it is

frequently used to further the horrible purposes of the Voodoo and

Obeah forms of magic. Some writers have spoken of it under the name

"elementary," but as that title has at one time or other been used for

almost every variety of _post-mortem_ entity, it has become so vague

and meaningless that it is perhaps better to avoid it.



7. _The Suicide, or victim of sudden death._



It will be readily understood that a man who is torn from physical

life hurriedly while in full health and strength, whether by accident

or suicide, finds himself upon the astral plane under conditions

differing considerably from those which surround one who dies either

from old age or from disease. In the latter case the hold of earthly

desires upon the entity is more or less weakened, and probably the

very grossest particles are already got rid of, so that the Kamarupa

will most likely form itself on the sixth or fifth subdivision of the

Kamaloka, or perhaps even higher; the principles have been gradually

prepared for separation, and the shock is therefore not so great. In

the case of the accidental death or suicide none of these preparations

have taken place, and the withdrawal of the principles from their

physical encasement has been very 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 subdivision of the

Kamaloka. This has already been described as anything but a pleasant

abiding-place, yet it is by no means the same for all those who are

compelled for a time to inhabit it. Those victims of sudden death

whose earth-lives have been pure and noble have no affinity for this

plane, and the time of their sojourn upon it is passed, to quote from

an early Letter on this subject, either "in happy ignorance and full

oblivion, or in a state of quiet slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams

". But on the other hand, if their earth-lives have been low and

brutal, selfish and sensual, they will, like the suicides, be

conscious to the fullest extent in this undesirable region; and they

are liable to develop into terribly evil entities. Inflamed with all

kinds of horrible appetites which they can no longer satisfy directly

now they are without a physical body, they gratify their loathsome

passions vicariously through a medium or any sensitive person whom

they can obsess; and they take a devilish delight in using all the

arts of delusion which the astral plane puts in their power in order

to lead others into the same excesses which have proved so fatal to

themselves. Quoting again from the same letter:--"These are the

Pisachas the _incubi_ and _succubae_ of mediaeval writers--demons of

thirst and gluttony, of lust and avarice, of intensified craft,

wickedness and cruelty, provoking their victims to horrible crimes,

and revelling in their commission". From this class and the last are

drawn the tempters--the devils of ecclesiastical literature; but their

power fails utterly before purity of mind and purpose; they can do

nothing with a man unless he has first encouraged in himself the vices

into which they seek to draw him.



One whose psychic sight has been opened will often see crowds of these

unfortunate creatures hanging round butchers' shops, public-houses, or

other even more disreputable places--wherever the gross influences in

which they delight are to be found, and where they encounter men and

women still in the flesh who are like-minded with themselves. For such

an entity as one of these to meet with a medium with whom he is in

affinity is indeed a terrible misfortune; not only does it enable him

to prolong enormously his dreadful life in Kamaloka but it renews for

perhaps an indefinite period his power to generate evil Karma, and so

prepare for himself a future incarnation of the most degraded

character, besides running the risk of losing a large portion or even

the whole of the lower Manas. On this lowest level of the astral plane

he must stay at least as long as his earthly life would have lasted if

it had not been prematurely cut short; and if he is fortunate enough

_not_ to meet with a sensitive through whom his passions can be

vicariously gratified, the unfulfilled desires will gradually burn

themselves out, and the suffering caused in the process will probably

go far towards working off the evil Karma of the past life.



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 manifold and great additional dangers: but it must be remembered

that the guilt of suicide differs considerably according to its

circumstances, from the morally blameless act of Seneca or Socrates

through all degrees down to the heinous crime of the wretch who takes

his own life in order to escape from the entanglements into which his

villainy has brought him, and of course the position after death

varies accordingly.



It should be noted that this class, as well as the shades and the

vitalized shells, are all what may be called minor vampires; that is

to say, whenever they have the opportunity they prolong their

existence by draining away the vitality from human beings whom they

find themselves able to influence. This is why both medium and sitters

are often so weak and exhausted after a physical _seance_. 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 more or less laid under contribution by them.



8. _The Vampire and Werewolf._



There remain two even more awful but happily very rare possibilities

to be mentioned before this part of our subject is completed, and

though they differ very widely in many ways we may yet perhaps group

them together, since they have in common the qualities of unearthly

horror and of extreme rarity--the latter arising from the fact that

they are really relics of earlier races. We of the fifth root race

ought to have evolved beyond the possibility of meeting such a ghastly

fate as is indicated by either of the two headings of this

sub-section, and we have so nearly done it that these creatures are

commonly regarded as mere mediaeval fables; yet there _are_ examples to

be found occasionally even now, though chiefly in countries where

there is a considerable strain of fourth-race blood, such as Russia or

Hungary. The popular legends about them are probably often

considerably exaggerated, but there is nevertheless a terribly serious

sub-stratum of truth beneath the eerie stories which pass from mouth

to mouth among the peasantry of Central Europe. The general

characteristics of such tales are too well known to need more than a

passing reference; a fairly typical specimen of the vampire story,

though it does not profess to be more than the merest fiction, is

Sheridan le Fanu's _Carmilla_, while a very remarkable account of an

unusual form of this creature is to be found in _Isis Unveiled_, vol.

i., p. 454. All readers of Theosophical literature are familiar with

the idea that it is possible for a man to live a life so absolutely

degraded and selfish, so utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole of

his lower Manas may become entirely immeshed in Kama, and finally

separated from its spiritual source in the higher Ego. Some students

even seem to think that such an occurrence is quite a common one, and

that we may meet scores of such "soulless men," as they have been

called, in the street every day of our lives, but this, happily, is

untrue. To attain the appalling preeminence in evil which thus

involves the entire loss of a personality and the weakening of the

developing individuality behind, a man must stifle every gleam of

unselfishness or spirituality, and must have absolutely no redeeming

point whatever; and when we remember how often, even in the worst of

villains, there is to be found something not wholly bad, we shall

realize that the abandoned personalities must always be a very small

minority. Still, comparatively few though they be, they do exist, and

it is from their ranks that the still rarer vampire is drawn. The lost

entity would very soon after death find himself unable to stay in

Kamaloka, and would be irresistibly 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 awful fate by a death in life scarcely less

awful--the ghastly existence of the vampire. Since the eighth sphere

cannot claim him until after the death of the body, he preserves it in

a kind of cataleptic trance by the horrible expedient of the

transfusion into it of blood drawn from other human beings by his

semi-materialized Kamarupa, and thus postpones his final destiny by

the commission of wholesale murder. As popular "superstition" again

quite rightly supposes, the easiest and most effectual remedy in such

a case is to exhume and burn the body, thus depriving the creature of

his _point d'appui_. When the grave is opened the body usually appears

quite fresh and healthy, and the coffin is not infrequently filled

with blood. Of course in countries where cremation is the custom

vampirism of this sort is impossible.



The Werewolf, though equally horrible, is the product of a somewhat

different Karma, and indeed ought perhaps to have found a place under

the first instead of the second division of the human inhabitants of

Kamaloka, since it is always during a man's lifetime that he first

manifests under this form. It invariably implies some knowledge of

magical arts--sufficient at any rate to be able to project the astral

body. When a perfectly cruel and brutal man does this, there are

certain circumstances under which the body may be seized upon by other

astral entities and materialized, not into the human form, but into

that of some wild animal--usually the wolf; and 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

that of the fiends who drive it on. In this case, as so often with the

ordinary astral body, any wound inflicted upon the animal

materialization will be reproduced upon the human physical body by the

extraordinary phenomenon of repercussion; though after the death of

that physical body the Kamarupa, which will probably continue to

appear in the same form, will be less vulnerable. It will then,

however, he also less dangerous, as unless it can find a suitable

medium it will be unable to materialize fully.



It has been the fashion of this century to scoff at what are called

the foolish superstitions of the ignorant peasantry; but, as in the

above cases, so in many others the occult student finds on careful

examination that obscure or forgotten truths of nature lie behind what

at first sight appears mere nonsense, and he learns to be cautious in

rejecting as well as cautious in accepting. Intending explorers of the

astral plane need have little fear of encountering the very unpleasant

creatures described under this head, for, as before stated, they are

even now extremely rare, and as time goes on their number will happily

steadily diminish. In any case their manifestations are usually

restricted to the immediate neighbourhood of their physical bodies, as

might be supposed from their extremely material nature.



9. _The Black Magician or his pupil._



This person corresponds at the other extremity of the scale to our

second class of departed entities, the chela awaiting reincarnation,

but in this case, instead of obtaining permission to adopt an unusual

method of progress, the man is defying the natural process of

evolution by maintaining himself in Kamaloka by magical

arts--sometimes of the most horrible nature. It would be easy to make

various subdivisions of this class, according to their objects, their

methods, and the possible duration of their existence on this plane,

but as they are by no means fascinating objects of study, and all that

an occult student wishes to know about them is how to avoid them, it

will probably be more interesting to pass on to the examination of

another part of our subject. It may, however, be just mentioned that

every such human entity which prolongs its life thus on the astral

plane beyond its natural limit invariably does so at the expense of

others, and by the absorption of their life in some form or another.





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