Astral Plane Non-human

Though it might have been thought fairly obvious even to the most

casual glance that many of the terrestrial arrangements of nature

which affect us most nearly have not been designed exclusively with a

view to our comfort or even our ultimate advantage, it was yet

probably unavoidable that the human race, at least in its childhood,

should imagine that this world and everything it contains existed

solely for its own use and benefit. Undoubtedly we ought by this time

to have grown out of that infantile delusion and realized our proper

position and the duties that attach to it; that most of us have not

yet done so is shown in a dozen ways in our daily life notably by the

atrocious cruelty habitually displayed towards the animal kingdom

under the name of sport by many who probably consider themselves

highly civilized people. Of course the veriest tyro in the holy

science of occultism knows that all life is sacred, and that without

universal compassion there is no true progress; but it is only as he

advances in his studies that he discovers how manifold evolution is,

and how comparatively small a place humanity really fills in the

economy of nature. It becomes clear to him that just as earth, air and

water support myriads of forms of life which, though invisible to the

ordinary eye, are revealed to us by the microscope, so the higher

planes connected with our earth have an equally dense population of

whose existence we are ordinarily completely unconscious. As his

knowledge increases he becomes more and more certain that in one way

or another the utmost use is being made of every possibility of

evolution, and that wherever it seems to us that in nature force or

opportunity is being wasted or neglected, it is not the scheme of the

universe that is in fault, but our ignorance of its method and


For the purposes of our present consideration of the non-human

inhabitants of the astral plane it will be best to leave out of

consideration those very early forms of the universal life which are

evolving, in a manner of which we can have little comprehension,

through the successive encasement of atoms, molecules and cells: for

if we commence at the lowest of what are usually called the elemental

kingdoms, we shall even then have to group together under this general

heading an enormous number of inhabitants of the astral plane upon

whom it will be possible to touch only very slightly, as anything like

a detailed account of them would swell this manual to the dimensions

of an encyclopaedia.

The most convenient method of arranging the non-human entities will

perhaps be in four classes it being understood that in this case the

class is not, as previously, a comparatively small subdivision, but

usually a great kingdom of nature at least as large and varied as,

say, the animal or vegetable kingdom. Some of these rank considerably

below humanity, some are our equals, and others again rise far above

us in goodness and power. Some belong to our scheme of evolution--that

is to say, they either have been or will be men like ourselves; others

are evolving on entirely distinct lines of their own. Before

proceeding to consider them it is necessary, in order to avoid the

charge of incompleteness, to mention that in this branch of the

subject two reservations have been made. First, no reference is made

to the occasional appearances of very high Adepts from other planets

of the solar system and of even more august Visitors from a still

greater distance, since such matters cannot fitly be described in an

essay for general reading; and besides it is practically

inconceivable, though of course theoretically possible, that such

glorified Beings should ever need to manifest Themselves on a plane

so low as the astral. If for any reason They should wish to do so, the

body appropriate to the plane would be temporarily created out of

astral matter belonging to this planet, just as in the case of the

Nirmanakaya. Secondly, quite outside of and entirely unconnected with

the four classes into which we are dividing this section, there are

two other great evolutions which at present share the use of this

planet with humanity; but about them it is forbidden to give any

particulars at this stage of the proceedings, as it is not apparently

intended under ordinary circumstances either that they should be

conscious of man's existence or man of theirs. If we ever do come into

contact with them it will most probably be on the purely physical

plane, for in any case their connection with our astral plane is of

the slightest, since the only possibility of their appearance there

depends upon an extremely improbable accident in an act of ceremonial

magic, which fortunately only a few of the most advanced sorcerers

know how to perform. Nevertheless, that improbable accident has

happened at least once, and may happen again, so that but for the

prohibition above mentioned it would have been necessary to include

them in our list.

1. _The Elemental Essence belonging to our own evolution._

Just as the name "elementary" has been given indiscriminately by

various writers to any or all of man's possible _post-mortem_

conditions, so this word "elemental" has been used at different times

to mean any or all non-human spirits, from the most godlike of the

Devas down through every variety of nature-spirit to the formless

essence which pervades the kingdoms lying behind the mineral, until

after reading several books the student becomes absolutely bewildered

by the contradictory statements made on the subject. For the purposes

of this treatise it will perhaps simplify matters to restrict its

meaning to the last-mentioned class only, and use it to denote the

three great kingdoms which precede the mineral in the order of our

evolution. It may be remembered that in one of the earlier letters

from an Adept teacher these elemental kingdoms are referred to, and

the statement is made that the first and second cannot readily be

comprehended except by an Initiate. Fortunately this, the most

incomprehensible part of the vast subject, does not come within the

province of this manual, as those first and second elemental kingdoms

exist and function respectively upon the arupa and rupa levels of the

devachanic plane. We have consequently to deal for the moment only

with kingdom No. 3--the one next before the mineral; though even that

will be found quite sufficiently complicated, as will be understood

when it is stated that it contains just over two thousand four hundred

perfectly distinct varieties of elemental essence, each of which the

pupil who wishes to attain perfect control of the astral forces must

learn not only to distinguish instantly at sight, but to deal with in

its own special method and no other. Of course phenomena of various

sorts may be, and constantly are, produced by those who are able to

wield only one or two of these forces, but the Adept prefers to take

the additional trouble requisite to understand all of them thoroughly,

and uses in every case precisely the most appropriate force or

combination of forces, so that his object may be attained with

scientific accuracy and with the least possible expenditure of energy.

To speak, as we so often do, of _an_ elemental in connection with the

group we are now considering is somewhat misleading, for strictly

speaking there is no such thing. 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 even by an entirely

unconscious exercise of human will or desire. But the moment that by

the influence of such thought or exercise of will it is moulded into a

living force--into something that may correctly be described as _an_

elemental--it at once ceases to belong to the category we are

discussing, and becomes a member of the artificial class. Even then

its separate existence is usually of the most evanescent character,

and as soon as its impulse has worked itself out it sinks back into

the undifferentiated mass of that particular subdivision of elemental

essence from which it came. It would be tedious to attempt to

catalogue these subdivisions, and indeed even if a list of them were

made it would be unintelligible except to the practical student who

can call them up before him and compare them. Some idea of the leading

lines of classification can, however, be grasped without much trouble,

and may prove of interest. First comes the broad division which has

given the elementals their name--the classification according to the

kind of matter which they inhabit. Here, as usual, the septenary

character of our evolution shows itself, for there are seven such

chief groups, related respectively to the seven states of physical

matter--to "earth, water, air and fire," or to translate from mediaeval

symbolism to modern accuracy of expression, to the solid, liquid,

gaseous and etheric conditions. It has long been the custom to pity

and despise the ignorance of the alchemists of the middle ages,

because they gave the title of "elements" to substances which modern

chemistry has discovered to be compounds; but in speaking of them thus

slightingly we have done them great injustice, for their knowledge on

this subject was really wider, not narrower, than ours. They may or

may not have catalogued all the sixty or seventy substances which we

now call elements; but they certainly did not apply that name to them,

for their occult studies had taught them that in that sense of the

word there was but one element, Akasha itself, of which these and all

other forms of matter were but modifications--a truth which some of

the greatest chemists of the present day are just beginning to


The fact is that in this particular case our despised forefathers'

analysis went several steps deeper than our own. They understood and

were able to observe the ether, which modern science can only

postulate as a necessity for its theories; they were aware that it

consists of physical matter in four entirely distinct states above the

gaseous--a fact which has not yet been re-discovered. They knew that

all physical objects consisted of matter in one or other of these

seven states, and that into the composition of every organic body all

seven entered in a greater or lesser degree; hence all their talk of

fiery and watery humours, or "elements," which seems so grotesque to

us. It is obvious that they used the latter word simply as a synonym

for "constituent parts," without in the least degree intending it to

connote the idea of substances which could not be further reduced.

They knew also that each of these orders of matter served as an Upadhi

or basis of manifestation for a great class of evolving monadic

essence, and so they christened the essence "elemental".

What we have to try to realize, then, is that in every particle of

solid matter, so long as it remains in that condition, there resides,

to use the picturesque phraseology of mediaeval students, an earth

elemental--that is, a certain amount of the living elemental essence

appropriate to it, while equally in every particle of matter in the

liquid, gaseous, or etheric states, the water, air, and fire

"elementals" respectively inhere. It will be observed that this first

broad division of the third of the elemental kingdoms is, so to speak,

a horizontal one--that is to say, its respective classes stand in the

relation of steps, each somewhat less material than the one below it,

which ascends into it by almost imperceptible degrees; and it is easy

to understand how each of these classes may again be divided

horizontally into seven, since there are obviously many degrees of

density among solids, liquids and gases. There is, however, what may

be described as a perpendicular division also, and this is somewhat

more difficult to comprehend, especially as great reserve is always

maintained by occultists as to some of the facts which would be

involved in a fuller explanation of it. Perhaps the clearest way to

put what it is permissible to say on the subject will be to state that

in each of the horizontal classes and subclasses will be found seven

perfectly distinct types of elemental, the difference between them

being no longer a question of degree of materiality, but rather of

character and affinities. Each of these types so reacts upon the

others that, though it is impossible for them ever to interchange

their essence, in each of them seven sub-types will be found to exist,

distinguished by the colouring given to their original peculiarity by

the influence which sways them most readily. It will at once be seen

that this perpendicular division and subdivision differs entirely in

its character from the horizontal, in that it is far more permanent

and fundamental; for while it is the evolution of the elemental

kingdom to pass with almost infinite slowness through its various

horizontal classes and subclasses in succession, and thus to belong to

them all in turn, this is not so with regard to the types and

sub-types, which remain unchangeable all the way through. A point

which must never be lost sight of in endeavouring to understand this

elemental evolution is that it is taking place on what is sometimes

called the downward curve of the arc; that is to say, it is

progressing _towards_ the complete entanglement in matter which we

witness in the mineral kingdom, instead of _away_ from it, as is most

other evolution of which we know anything; and this fact sometimes

gives it a curiously inverted appearance in our eyes until we

thoroughly grasp its object.

In spite of these manifold subdivisions, there are certain properties

which are possessed in common by all varieties of this strange living

essence; but even these are so entirely different from any with which

we are familiar on the physical plane that it is exceedingly difficult

to explain them to those who cannot themselves see it in action. Let

it be premised, then, that when any portion of this essence remains

for a few moments entirely unaffected by any outside influence (a

condition, by the way, which is hardly ever realized) it is absolutely

without any definite form of its own, though even then its motion is

rapid and ceaseless; but on the slightest disturbance, set up perhaps

by some passing thought-current, 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. A

question naturally arises in the mind here as to what intelligence it

is that is exerted in the selection of an appropriate shape or its

distortion when selected. We are not dealing with the more powerful

and longer-lived artificial elemental created by a strong definite

thought, but simply with the result produced by the stream of

half-conscious, involuntary thoughts which the majority of mankind

allow to flow idly through their brains, so that the intelligence is

obviously not derived from the mind of the thinker; and we certainly

cannot credit the elemental essence itself, which belongs to a kingdom

further from individualization even than the mineral, with any sort of

awakening of the manasic quality. Yet it does possess a marvellous

adaptability which often seems to come very near it, and it is no

doubt this property that caused elementals to be described in one of

our early books as "the semi-intelligent creatures of the astral

light". We shall find further evidence of this power when we come to

consider the case of the artificial class. When we read of a good or

evil elemental, it must always be either an artificial entity or one

of the many varieties of nature spirits that is meant, for the

elemental kingdoms proper do not admit of any such conceptions as good

and evil, though there is undoubtedly a sort of bias or tendency

permeating nearly all their subdivisions which operates to render them

rather hostile than friendly towards man, as every neophyte knows, for

in most cases his very first impression of the astral plane is of the

presence all around him of vast hosts of Protean spectres who advance

upon him in threatening guise, but always retire or dissipate

harmlessly if boldly faced. It is to this curious tendency that the

distorted or unpleasant aspect above mentioned must be referred, and

mediaeval writers tell us that man has only himself to thank for its

existence. In the golden age before this Kaliyuga men were on the

whole less selfish and more spiritual, and then the "elementals" were

friendly, though now they are no longer so because of man's

indifference to, and want of sympathy with, other living beings. From

the wonderful delicacy with which the essence responds to the

faintest action of our minds or desires it seems clear that this

elemental kingdom as a whole is very much what the collective thought

of humanity makes it. Any one who will think for a moment how far from

elevating the action of that collective thought is likely to be at the

present time will see little reason to wonder that we reap as we have

sown, and that this essence, which has no power of perception, but

only blindly receives and reflects what is projected upon it, should

usually exhibit unfriendly characteristics. There can be no doubt that

in later races or rounds, when mankind as a whole has evolved to a

much higher level, the elemental kingdoms will be influenced by the

changed thought which continually impinges upon them, and we shall

find them no longer hostile, but docile and helpful, as we are told

that the animal kingdom will also be. Whatever may have happened in

the past, it is evident that we may look forward to a very passable

"golden age" in the future, if we can arrive at a time when the

majority of men will be noble and unselfish, and the forces of nature

will co-operate willingly with them.

The fact that we are so readily able to influence the elemental

kingdoms at once shows us that we have a responsibility towards them

for the manner in which we use that influence; indeed, when we

consider the conditions under which they exist, it is obvious that the

effect produced upon them by the thoughts and desires of all

intelligent creatures inhabiting the same world with them must have

been calculated upon in the scheme of our system as a factor in their

evolution. In spite of the consistent teaching of all the great

religions, the mass of mankind is still utterly regardless of its

responsibility on the thought-plane; if a man can flatter himself that

his words and deeds have been harmless to others, he believes that he

has done all that can be required of him, quite oblivious of the fact

that he may for years have been exercising a narrowing and debasing

influence on the minds of those about him, and filling surrounding

space with the unlovely creations of a sordid mind. A still more

serious aspect of this question will come before us when we discuss

the artificial elemental; but in regard to the essence it will be

sufficient to state that we undoubtedly have the power to accelerate

or delay its evolution according to the use which consciously or

unconsciously we are continually making of it.

It would be hopeless within the limits of such a treatise as this to

attempt to explain the different uses to which the forces inherent in

the manifold varieties of this elemental essence can be put by one who

has been 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 that purpose. By its means nearly all the

physical phenomena of the _seance_-room are produced, and it is also

the agent in most cases of stone-throwing or bell-ringing in haunted

houses, such results as these latter being brought about either by

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. But the "elemental" must

never be thought of as itself a prime mover; it is simply a latent

force, which needs an external power to set it in motion. It may be

noted that although all classes of the essence have the power of

reflecting images from the astral light as described above, there are

varieties which receive certain impressions much more readily than

others--which have, as it were, favourite forms of their own into

which upon disturbance they would naturally flow unless absolutely

forced into some other, and such shapes tend to be a trifle less

evanescent than usual.

Before leaving this branch of the subject it may be well to warn the

student against the confusion of thought into which some have fallen

through failing to distinguish this elemental essence which we have

been considering from the monadic essence manifesting through the

mineral kingdom. It must be borne in mind that monadic essence at one

stage of its evolution towards humanity manifests through the

elemental kingdom, while at a later stage it manifests through the

mineral kingdom: but the fact that two bodies of monadic essence at

these different stages are in manifestation at the same moment, and

that one of these manifestations (the earth elemental) occupies the

same space as and inhabits the other (say a rock), in no way

interferes with the evolution either of one or the other, nor does it

imply any relation between the bodies of monadic essence lying within

both. The rock will also be permeated by its appropriate variety of

the omnipresent Jiva or life principle, but that of course is again

totally distinct from either of the essences above mentioned.

2. _The Kamarupas 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 acquired permanent individualization, and when one of

them dies the monadic essence which has been manifesting through it

flows back again into the particular stratum whence it came, bearing

with it such advancement or experience as has been attained during

that life. It is not, however, able to do this quite immediately; the

kamic aura of the animal forms itself into a Kamarupa, 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 reborn no more as animals in this

world, have a much longer and much more vivid life in Kamaloka than

their less advanced fellows, and at the end of it sink gradually into

a subjective condition, which is likely to last for a very

considerable period. One interesting subdivision of this class

consists of the Kamarupas of those anthropoid apes mentioned in _The

Secret Doctrine_ (vol. i, p. 184) who are already individualized, and

will be ready to take human incarnation in the next round, or perhaps

some of them even sooner.

3. _Nature-Spirits of all Kinds._

So many and so varied are the subdivisions of this class that to do

them anything like justice one would need to devote a separate

treatise to this subject alone. Some characteristics, however, they

all have in common, and it will be sufficient here to try to give some

idea of those. To begin with, we have to realize that we are here

dealing with entities which differ radically from all that we have

hitherto considered. Though we may rightly classify the elemental

essence and the animal Kamarupa as non-human, the monadic essence

which manifests itself through them will, nevertheless, in the fulness

of time, evolve to the level of manifesting itself through some future

humanity comparable to our own, and if we were able to look back

through countless ages on our own evolution in previous manvantaras,

we should find that that which is now ourselves has passed on its

upward path through similar stages. That, however, is not the case

with the vast kingdom of nature-spirits; they neither have been, nor

ever will be, members of a humanity such as ours; their line of

evolution is entirely different, and their only connection with us

consists in our temporary occupancy of the same planet. Of course

since we are neighbours for the time being we owe neighbourly kindness

to one another when we happen to meet, but our lines of development

differ so widely that each can do but little for the other.

Many writers have included these spirits among the elementals, and

indeed they are the elementals (or perhaps, to speak more accurately,

the animals) of a higher evolution. Though much more highly developed

than our elemental essence, they have yet certain characteristics in

common with it; for example, they also are divided into seven great

classes, inhabiting respectively the same seven states of matter

already mentioned as permeated by the corresponding varieties of the

essence. Thus, to take those which are most readily comprehensible to

us, there are spirits of the earth, water, air, and fire (or

ether)--definite intelligent astral entities residing and functioning

in each of those media. It may be asked how it is possible for any

kind of creature to inhabit the solid substance of a rock, or of the

crust of the earth. The answer is that since the nature-spirits are

formed of astral matter, the substance of the rock is no hindrance to

their motion or their vision, and furthermore physical matter in its

solid state is their natural element--the only one to which they are

accustomed and in which they feel at home. The same is of course true

of those who live in water, air or ether. In mediaeval literature,

these earth-spirits are often called gnomes, while the water-spirits

are spoken of as undines, the air-spirits as sylphs, and the

ether-spirits as salamanders. In popular language they are known by

many names--fairies, pixies, elves, brownies, peris, djinns, trolls,

satyrs, fauns, kobolds, imps, goblins, good people, etc.--some of

these titles being applied only to one variety, and others

indiscriminately to all. Their forms are many and various, but most

frequently human in shape and somewhat diminutive in size. Like almost

all inhabitants of the astral plane, they are able to assume any

appearance at will, but they undoubtedly have definite forms of their

own, or perhaps we should rather say favourite forms, which they wear

when they have no special object in taking any other. Of course under

ordinary conditions they are not visible to physical sight at all, but

they have the power of making themselves so by materialization when

they wish to be seen.

There are an immense number of subdivisions or races among them, and

individuals of these subdivisions differ in intelligence and

disposition precisely as human beings do. The great majority of them

apparently prefer to 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. On

the other hand instances are not wanting in which nature-spirits have

as it were made friends with human beings and offered them such

assistance as lay in their power, as in the well-known stories told of

the Scotch brownies or of the fire-lighting fairies mentioned in

spiritualistic literature. This helpful attitude, however, is

comparatively rare, and in most cases when they come in contact with

man they either show indifference or dislike, or else take an impish

delight in deceiving him and playing childish tricks upon him. Many a

story illustrative of this curious characteristic may be found among

the village gossip of the peasantry in almost any lonely mountainous

district, and any one who has been in the habit of attending _seances_

for physical phenomena will recollect instances of practical joking

and silly though usually good-natured horseplay, which always indicate

the presence of some of the lower orders of the nature-spirits. They

are greatly assisted in their tricks by the wonderful power which they

possess of casting a glamour over those who yield themselves to their

influence, so that such victims for the time see and hear only what

these fairies impress upon them, exactly as the mesmerized subject

sees, hears, feels and believes whatever the magnetizer wishes. The

nature-spirits, however, have not the mesmerizer's power of dominating

the human will, except in the case of quite unusually weak-minded

people, or of those who allow themselves to fall into such a condition

of helpless terror that their will is temporarily in abeyance; they

cannot go beyond deception of the senses, but of that art they are

undoubted masters, and cases are not wanting in which they have cast

their glamour over a considerable number of people at once. It is by

invoking their aid in the exercise of this peculiar power that some of

the most wonderful feats of the Indian jugglers are performed--the

entire audience being in fact hallucinated and made to imagine that

they see and hear a whole series of events which have not really taken

place at all.

We might almost look upon the nature-spirits as a kind of astral

humanity, but for the fact that none of them--not even the highest

possess a permanent reincarnating individuality. Apparently therefore

one point in which their line of evolution differs from ours is that a

much greater proportion of intelligence is developed before permanent

individualization takes place; but of the stages through which they

have passed, and those through which they have yet to pass, we can

know little. The life-periods of the different subdivisions vary

greatly, some being quite short, others much longer than our human

lifetime. We stand so entirely outside such a life as theirs that it

is impossible for us to understand much about its conditions; but it

appears on the whole to be a simple, joyous, irresponsible kind of

existence, much such as a party of happy children might lead among

exceptionally favourable physical surroundings. Though tricky and

mischievous, they are rarely malicious unless provoked by some

unwarrantable intrusion or annoyance; but as a body they also partake

to some extent of the universal feeling of distrust for man, and they

generally seem inclined to resent somewhat the first appearance of a

neophyte on the astral plane, so that he usually makes their

acquaintance under some unpleasant or terrifying form. If, however, he

declines to be frightened by any of their freaks, they soon accept him

as a necessary evil and take no further notice of him, while some

among them may even after a time become friendly and manifest pleasure

on meeting him.

Some among the many subdivisions of this class are much less childlike

and more dignified than those we have been describing, and it is from

these sections that the entities who have sometimes been reverenced

under the name of wood-gods, or local village-gods, have been drawn.

Such entities would be quite sensible of the flattery involved in the

reverence shown to them, would enjoy it, and would no doubt be quite

ready to do any small service they could in return. (The village-god

is also often an artificial entity, but that variety will be

considered in its appropriate place.) The Adept knows how to make use

of the services of the nature-spirits when he requires them, but the

ordinary magician can obtain their assistance only by processes either

of invocation or evocation--that is, either by attracting their

attention as a suppliant and making some kind of bargain with them, or

by endeavouring to set in motion influences which would compel their

obedience. Both methods are extremely undesirable, and the latter is

also excessively dangerous, as the operator would arouse a determined

hostility which might prove fatal to him. Needless to say, no one

studying occultism under a qualified Master would ever be permitted to

attempt anything of the kind at all.

4. _The Devas._

The highest system of evolution connected with this earth, so far as

we know, is that of the beings whom Hindus call the Devas, and who

have elsewhere been spoken of as angels, sons of God, etc. They may,

in fact, be regarded as a kingdom lying next above humanity, in the

same way as humanity in turn lies next above the animal kingdom, but

with this important difference, that while for an animal there is no

possibility of evolution through any kingdom but the human, man, when

he attains a certain high level, finds various paths of advancement

opening before him, of which this great Deva evolution is only one. In

comparison with the sublime renunciation of the Nirmanakaya, the

acceptance of this line of evolution is sometimes spoken of in the

books as "yielding to the temptation to become a god," but it must not

be inferred from this expression that any shadow of blame attaches to

the man who makes this choice. The path he selects is not the

shortest, but it is nevertheless a very noble one, and if his

developed intuition impels him towards it, it is probably the one best

suited for his capacities. We must never forget that in spiritual as

in physical climbing it is not every one who can bear the strain of

the steeper path; there may be many for whom what seems the slower way

is the only one possible, and we should indeed be unworthy followers

of the great Teachers if we allowed our ignorance to betray us into

the slightest thought of despisal towards those whose choice differs

from our own. However confident that ignorance of the difficulties of

the future may allow us to feel now, it is impossible for us to tell

at this stage what we shall find ourselves able to do when, after many

lives of patient striving, we have earned the right to choose our own

future; and indeed, even those who "yield to the temptation to become

gods," have a sufficiently glorious career before them, as will

presently be seen. To avoid possible misunderstanding it may be

mentioned _par parenthese_ that there is another and entirely evil

sense sometimes attached in the books to this phrase of "becoming a

god," but in that form it certainly could never be any kind of

"temptation" to the developed man, and in any case it is altogether

foreign to our present subject.

In oriental literature this word "Deva" is frequently used vaguely to

mean almost any kind of non-human entity, so that it would often

include DHYAN CHOHANS on the one hand and nature-spirits and

artificial elementals on the other. Here, however, its use will be

restricted to the magnificent evolution which we are now considering.

Though connected with this earth, the Devas are by no means confined

to it, for the whole of our present chain of seven worlds is as one

world to them, their evolution being through a grand system of seven

chains. Their hosts have hitherto been recruited chiefly from other

humanities in the solar system, some lower and some higher than ours,

since but a very small portion of our own has as yet reached the level

at which for us it is possible to join them; but it seems certain that

some of their very numerous classes have not passed in their upward

progress through any humanity at all comparable to ours. It is not

possible for us at present to understand very much about them, but it

is clear that what may be described as the aim of their evolution is

considerably higher than ours; that is to say, while the object of our

human evolution is to raise the successful portion of humanity to a

certain degree of occult development by the end of the seventh round,

the object of the Deva evolution is to raise their foremost rank to a

very much higher level in the corresponding period. For them, as for

us, a steeper but shorter path to still more sublime heights lies open

to earnest endeavour; but what those heights may be in their case we

can only conjecture.

It is of course only the lower fringe of this august body that need be

mentioned in connection with our subject of the astral plane. Their

three lower great divisions (beginning from the bottom) are generally

called Kamadevas, Rupadevas, and Arupadevas respectively. Just as our

ordinary body here--the lowest body possible for us--is the physical,

so the ordinary body of a Kamadeva is the astral; so that he stands in

somewhat the same position as humanity will do when it reaches planet

F, and he, living ordinarily in an astral body, would go out of it to

higher spheres in a Mayavirupa just as we might in an astral body,

while to enter the Karana Sharira would be to him (when sufficiently

developed) no greater effort than to form a Mayavirupa is to us. In

the same way the Rupadeva's ordinary body would be the Mayavirupa,

since his habitat is on the four lower or rupa levels of that

spiritual state which we usually call Devachan: while the Arupadeva

belongs to the three higher levels of that plane, and owns no nearer

approach to a body than the Karana Sharira. But for Rupa and

Arupadevas to manifest on the astral plane is an occurrence at least

as rare as it is for astral entities to materialize on this physical

plane, so we need do no more than mention them now. As regards the

lowest division--the Kamadevas--it would be quite a mistake to think

of all of them as immeasurably superior to ourselves, since some have

entered their ranks from a humanity in some respects less advanced

than our own; of course the general average among them is much higher

than among us, for all that is actively or wilfully evil has long been

weeded out from their ranks; but they differ widely in disposition,

and a really noble, unselfish, spiritually-minded man may well stand

higher in the scale of 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 us on our physical

plane, but it does now and then happen that one of them becomes aware

of some human difficulty which excites his pity, and he perhaps

renders some assistance, just as any of us would try to help an animal

that we saw in trouble. But it is well understood among them that any

interference in human affairs at the present stage is likely to do far

more harm than good. Above the Arupadevas there are four other great

divisions, and again, above and beyond the Deva kingdom altogether,

stand the great hosts of the DHYAN CHOHANS, but the consideration of

such glorified Beings would be out of place in an essay on the astral


Though we cannot claim them as belonging exactly to any of our

classes, this is perhaps the best place in which to mention those

wonderful and important Beings, the four Devarajahs. In this name the

word Deva must not, however, be taken in the sense in which we have

been using it, for it is not over the Deva kingdom but over the four

"elements" of earth, water, air, and fire, with their indwelling

nature-spirits and essences, that these four Kings rule. What the

evolution has been through which they rose to their present height of

power and wisdom we cannot tell, save only that it has certainly not

passed through anything corresponding to our own humanity. They are

often spoken of as the Regents of the Earth, or Angels of the four

cardinal points, and the Hindu books call them the Chatur Maharajahs,

giving their names as Dhritarashtra, Virudhaka, Virupaksha,

and Vaishravana. In the same books their hosts are called

Gandharvas, Kumbhandas, Nagas, and Yakshas respectively, the points of

the compass appropriated to each being in corresponding order east,

south, west, and north, and their symbolical colours white, blue, red,

and gold. They are mentioned in _The Secret Doctrine_ as "winged

globes and fiery wheels"; and in the Christian bible Ezekiel makes a

very remarkable attempt at a description of them in which very similar

words are used. References to them are to be found in the symbology of

every religion, and they have always been held in the highest

reverence as the protectors of mankind. It is they who are the agents

of man's Karma during his life on earth, and they thus play an

extremely important part in human destiny. The LIPIKA the great karmic

deities of the Kosmos, weigh the deeds of each personality when the

final separation of its principles takes place in Kamaloka 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 Devarajahs 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. It is they also who constantly watch all through life to

counterbalance the changes perpetually being introduced into man's

condition by his own free will and that of those around him, so that

no injustice may be done, and Karma may be accurately worked out, if

not in one way then in another. A learned dissertation upon these

marvellous beings will be found in _The Secret Doctrine_, vol. i., pp.

122-126. They are able to take human material forms at will, and

several cases are recorded when they have done so. All the higher

nature-spirits and hosts of artificial elementals act as their agents

in the stupendous work they carry out, yet all the threads are in

their hands, and the whole responsibility rests upon them alone. It is

not often that they manifest upon the astral plane, but when they do

they are certainly the most remarkable of its non-human inhabitants.

A student of occultism will not need to be told that as there are

seven great classes both of nature-spirits and elemental essence there

must really be seven and not four Devarajahs but outside the circle of

initiation little is known and less may be said of the higher three.

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