Elementals are commonly regarded as those little nature spirits, seen by some people with extended vision in woodlands, glades and so on. They form the basis of stories about fairies, genii, leprechauns and a host of other little beings in the folklore of most nations, but what are they in fact? It seems that they are much more important than we generally recognise, playing a vital part not only in our affairs but even in the makeup and functioning of Cosmos and ourselves. It is also not generally realized how much information about them is contained in our classical literature. (i.e. The writings of H.P. Blavatsky & The Masters - Ed.)
In the Introductory chapter of Vol. I of Isis Unveiled (p.xxix) it says, under the heading of ELEMENTAL SPIRITS:
"The creatures evolved in the four kingdoms of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and called by the kabalists gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines. They may be termed the forces of nature and will either operate effects as the servile agents of general law or may be employed by the disembodied - whether pure or impure - and by living adepts of magic and sorcery, to produce desired phenomenal results. Such beings never become men. Under the general designation fairies, and feys, these spirits of the Elements appear in the myth, fable, tradition or poetry of all nations, ancient and modern. Their names are legion - peris, devs, djins, sylvans, satyrs, fauns, elves, dwarfs, trolls, norns, nisses, kobolds, brownies, necks, stromkals, undines, nixes, salamanders, goblins, ponkes, banshees, kelpies, pixies, moss people, good people, good neighbours, wild women, men of peace, white ladies - and many more. They have been seen, feared, blessed, banned, and invoked, in every quarter of the globe and in every age. Shall we then concede that all who have met them were hallucinated?
These Elementals are the principal agents of disembodied but never visible spirits at séances and the producers of all the phenomena except the subjective."
It is important that we distinguish Elementals from Elementaries. The latter are the psychic remains of men after death. The above definition of Elementals is more or less reiterated in the Theosophical Glossary.
Becoming more technical we have this statement in The Secret Doctrine (S.D.) Vol. I p.176: "There are seven kingdoms. The first group comprises three degrees of Elementals, or nascent centres of force, from the first stage of differentiation of (from) Mulaprakriti (or rather Pradhana, primordial homogeneous matter) to its third degree - i.e. from full unconsciousness to semi-perception; ..." This is a quotation (quoted in The Secret Doctrine - Ed) from "Five Years of Theosophy". It goes on to tell us that in fact there are ten kingdoms, of which the first three are the Elemental ones, the middle four are the familiar ones, of mineral, vegetable, animal and human, then there are three kingdoms above the human stage. These are the superhuman ones, the kingdoms of the Dhyan-Chohans.
As with everything else in Theosophy, it is very difficult to talk about any aspect of it in isolation and this applies as much to the subject of Elementals as to any other. In The S.D. we are told about them as part of the vast process of creation. In dealing with their three kinds it says " .. (1) The nascent centres of Force, intellectual and physical; (2) the rudimentary principles - nerve force, so to say; and (3) nascent apperception which is the Mahat of the three lower kingdoms, especially developed in the third order of Elementals; .." (S.D. Vol.I, p.454) It then goes on to say that these three states of being are succeeded by the objective kingdom of minerals etc.
Most of us will be familiar with the idea of the structure of Cosmos in terms of graded hierarchies of beings. The Elementals are the lowest orders in this hierarchical scale. They have to do with the very essence of living things in this whole scheme of things. Some of us will also be familiar with the idea that the sun is the 'Parent' of all that is in the solar system. Here is a passage descriptive of the processes of creation, attributed to Hermes, which H.P.B. quotes:
"The creation of Life by the sun is as continuous as his light; nothing arrests or limits it. Around him like an army of Satellites, are innumerable choirs of genii. These dwell in the neighbourhood of the Immortals, and thence watch over all human things. They fulfil the will of the gods (Karma) by means of storms, tempest, transitions of fire and earthquakes; and likewise by famines and wars for the punishment of impiety, . . . it is the sun who preserves and nourishes all creatures; and even as the Ideal World, which environs the sensible world, fills this last with the plenitude and universal variety of forms, so also the Sun, enfolding all in his light, accomplishes everywhere the birth and development of creatures." . . . "Under his orders is the choir of Genii, or rather the choirs for there are many and diverse and their number corresponds to that of the stars. Every star has its genii good and evil by nature or rather by their operation, for operation is the essence of the genii. All these genii preside over mundane affairs, they shake and overthrow the constitution of states and of individuals, they imprint their likeness on our Souls, they are present in our nerves, our marrow, our veins, our arteries and our very brain substance . . . at the moment when each of us receives life and being, he is taken in charge by the genii (Elementals) who preside over births and who are classed beneath the astral powers (Superhuman astral Spirits). They change perpetually, always identically, ..."
The Secret Doctrine Vol.I, p.294
This gives us an idea of the total involvement of Elementals not only at the planetary level but very intimately in our make-up.
Regarding their part in the formation of the nature of a human embryo, there is a passage in the Collected Writings:
"The essential difference between the body of such an embryo and an Elemental proper is that the embryo - the future man - contains in himself a portion of each of the four great kingdoms, to wit; Fire, Air, Earth and Water; while the Elemental has but a portion of one of such kingdoms. As, for instance, the salamander, or the fire Elemental, which has but a portion of the primordial fire and none other. Man, being higher than they, the law of evolution finds its illustration of all four in him. It results, therefore, that the Elementals of the fire are not found in water, nor those of air in the fire kingdom. And yet, inasmuch as a portion of water is found not only in man but also in other bodies, Elementals exist really in and among each other in every substance just as the spiritual world exists and is in the material (world). But the last are the Elementals in their most primordial and latent state."
"... the term 'Elemental' is used to designate only these nature-spirits, attaching it to no other spirit or monad that has been embodied in human form. Elementals, as said already, have no form, and in trying to describe what they are, it is better to say that they are "centres of force" having instinctive desires, but no consciousness, as we understand it. Hence their acts may be good or bad indifferently."
Collected Writings Vol.VI, p.197
This article tells us much more about the nature of Elementals and is worth looking up.
Talking about how divine thought permeates the whole of creation, H.P.B. says that;
"if it does so, then it must follow that once there, the divine thought manifests itself objectively, energy faithfully reproducing the outlines of that whose "privations" was first born in the divine mind. And it must not be understood that this thought creates matter. No; it creates but the design for the future form; the matter which serves to make this design having always been in existence, and having been prepared to form a human body, through a series of progressive transformations as the result of evolution. Forms pass; ideas that created them and the material which gives them objectiveness remain. These models as yet devoid of immortal spirits are 'elementals', - properly speaking, psychic embryos - which, when their time arrives, die out of the invisible world, and are reborn into this visible one as human infants, receiving in transitu that divine breath called spirit which completes the perfect man. This class cannot communicate objectively with men."
Isis Unveiled Vol.I p.310-311
There is another class of Elementals. These, it says, "... never evolve into human beings but occupy as it were a specific step of the ladder of being". It is this latter class which is responsible for psychic phenomena, and this process, together with much else, is described in this passage in Isis [above].
A passage from the Collected Writings says:
"Paracelcus in his Philosophia Sagax: "The current of Astral Light with its peculiar inhabitants, gnomes, sylphs etc., is transformed into human life at the moment of the conception, and it becomes the first envelope of the soul - its grosser portion; combined with the most subtle fluids, it forms the sidereal (astral, or ethereal) phantom - the inner man". And Eliphas Levi: "the Astral Light is saturated with souls which it discharges in the incessant generation of beings. At the birth of the child they influence the four temperaments of the latter - the element of the gnomes predominates in melancholy persons; of the salamanders in the sanguine; of the undines in the phlegmatic; of the sylphs in the giddy and bilious ... These are the spirits which we designate under the term of occult elements.""
Collected Writings Vol.I p.284-5
There is another passage in Collected Writings Vol.9, p104-128 which goes as follows:
"Student: If I understand you, an Elemental is a centre of force, without intelligence, without moral character or tendencies, but capable of being directed in its movements by human thoughts, which may, consciously or not, give it any form, and to a certain extent intelligence; in its simplest form it is visible as a disturbance in a transparent medium, such as would be produced by "a glass fish so transparent as to be invisible, swimming through the air of the room", and leaving behind him a shimmer such as hot air makes when rising from the stove. Also, elementals, attracted and vitalised by certain thoughts, may effect a lodgement in the human system (of which they then share the government with the ego), and are very hard to get out."
"Sage: Correct in general, except as to their "effecting a lodgement". Some classes of elementals, however, have an intelligence of their own and a character, but they are far beyond our comprehension and ought perhaps to have some other name.
That class which has most to do with us answers the above description. They are centres of force or energy which are acted on by us while thinking and in other bodily motions. We also act on them and give them form by a species of thought which we have no register of. As one person might shape an elemental so as to seem like an insect, and not be able to tell whether he had thought of such a thing or not. For there is a vast unknown country in each human being which he does not himself understand until he has tried, and then only after many initiations.
That "elementals ... may effect a lodgement in the human system, of which they then share the government, and are very hard to get out", is, as a whole, incorrect. It is only in certain cases that any one or more elementals are attracted to and "find lodgement in the human system". In such cases special rules apply. We are not considering such cases. The elemental world interpenetrates this, and is therefore eternally present in the human system.
As it (the elemental world) is automatic and like a photographic plate, all atoms continuously arriving at and departing from the "human system" are constantly assuming the impression conveyed by the acts and thoughts of that person, and therefore, if he sets up a strong current of thought, he attracts elementals in great numbers, and they all take on one prevailing tendency or colour, so that all new arrivals find a homogeneous colour or image which they instantly assume. On the other hand, a man who has many diversities of thought and meditation, is not homogeneous, but, so to say, parti-coloured, and so the elementals may lodge in that part which is different from the rest and go away in like condition. In the first case it is one mass of elementals similarly vibrating or electrified and coloured, and in that sense may be call one elemental in just the same way that we know one man as Jones, although for years he has been giving off and taking on new atoms of gross matter."
"Student: If they are attracted and repelled by thoughts, do they move with the velocity of thought, say from here to the planet Neptune?"
"Sage: They move with the velocity of thought. In their world there is no space or time as we understand those terms. If Neptune be within the astral sphere of this world, then they go there with that velocity, otherwise not; but that 'if" need not be solved now."
"Student: What determines their movement besides thought, - e.g. when they are floating about the room?"
"Sage: Those other classes of thoughts above referred to; certain exhalations of beings; different rates and ratios of vibration among beings; different changes of magnetism caused by present causes or by the moon and the year; different polarities; changes of sound; changes of influences from other minds at a distance."
"Student: When so floating, can they be seen by anyone, or only by those persons who are clairvoyant?"
"Sage: Clairvoyance is a poor word. They can be seen by partly clairvoyant people. By all those who can see thus; by more people, perhaps, than are aware of the fact."
"Student: Can they be photographed, as the rising air from the hot stove can?"
"Sage: Not to my knowledge yet. It is not impossible however."
"Student: Are they the lights seen floating about a dark séance room by clairvoyant people?"
"Sage: In the majority of cases those lights are produced by them."
"Student: Exactly what is their relation to light, that makes it necessary to hold séances in the dark?"
"Sage: It is not their relation to light that makes darkness necessary, but the fact that light causes constant agitation and alteration in the magnetism of the room. All these things can be done just as well in the light of day.
If I should be able to make clear to you "exactly what is their relation to light", then you would know what has long been kept secret, the key to the elemental world. This is kept guarded because it is a dangerous secret. No matter how virtuous you are, you could not - once you knew the secret - prevent the knowledge getting out into the minds of others who would not hesitate to use it for bad purposes."
At this point the part played by elementals at séances was discussed. What was said was most illuminating, extending the information given above. Space forbids its inclusion here.
Sometimes we wonder how it is that Karma acts. What are the causative agents at physical world level that bring about its effects? This question bothered the student who was talking to the Sage. Here are some relevant extracts from the same article.
"Student: Permit me to ask you again, are elementals beings?"
"Sage: It is not easy to convey to you an idea of the constitution of elementals; strictly speaking, they are not, because the word elementals has been used in reference to a class of them that have no being such as mortals have. It would be better to adopt the terms used in Indian books, such as Ghandarvas, Bhuts, Pisachas, Devas, and so on. Many things well known about them cannot be put into ordinary language."
"Student: Do you refer to their being able to act in the fourth dimension of space?"
"Sage: Yes, in a measure. Take the tying in a endless cord of many knots, - a thing often done at spiritist seances. That is possible to him who knows more dimensions of space than three. No three-dimensional being can do this; and as you understand "matter", it is impossible for you to conceive how such a knot can be tied or how a solid ring can be passed through the matter of another solid one. These things can be done by elementals."
"Student: Are they not all of one class?"
"Sage: No. There are different classes for each plane, and division of plane, of nature. Many can never be recognised by men. And those pertaining to our plane do not act in another. You must remember, too, that these "planes" of which we are speaking, interpenetrate each other."
"Student: Am I to understand that a clairvoyant or clairaudient has to do with or is affected by a certain special class or classes of elementals?"
"Sage: Yes. A clairvoyant can only see the sights properly belonging to the plane his development reaches to or has opened. And the elementals in those planes show to the clairvoyant only such pictures as belong to their plane. Other parts of the idea or thing pictured may be retained not yet opened to the seer. For this reason few clairvoyants know the whole truth."
"Student: Is there not some connection between the Karma of man and elementals?"
"Sage: A very important one. The elemental world has become a very strong factor in the Karma of the human race. Being unconscious, automatic, and photographic, it assumes the complexion of the human family itself. In the earlier ages, when we may postulate that man had not begun to make bad Karma, the elemental world was more friendly to man because it had not received unfriendly impressions. But so soon as man had begun to become ignorant, unfriendly to himself and the rest of creation, the elemental world began to take on exactly the same complexion and return to humanity the exact pay, so to speak, due for the actions of humanity. Or, like a donkey, which, when he is pushed against, will push against you. Or, as a human being, when anger or insult is offered, feels inclined to return the same. So the elemental world, being unconscious force, returns or reacts to humanity exactly as humanity acted towards it, whether the actions of men were done with the knowledge of these laws or not. So in these times it has come to be that the elemental world has the complexion and action which is the exact result of all the actions and thoughts and desires of men from the earliest times. And, being unconscious and only acting according to the natural laws of its being the elemental world is a powerful factor in the workings of Karma. And, so long as mankind does not cultivate brotherly feeling and charity towards the whole of creation, just so long will the elementals be without the impulse to act for our benefit. But so soon and wherever man or men begin to cultivate brotherly feeling and love for the whole of creation, there and then the elementals begin to take on the new condition."
"Student: How then about the doing of phenomena by Adepts?"
"Sage: The production of phenomena is not possible without either the aid or disturbance of elementals. Each phenomenon entails the expenditure of great force, and also brings on a correspondingly great disturbance in the elemental world, which disturbance is beyond the limit natural to the ordinary human life. It then follows that, as soon as the phenomenon is completed, the disturbance occasioned begins to be compensated for. The elementals are in greatly excited motion, and precipitate themselves in various directions. They are not able to affect those who are protected. But they are able, or rather it is possible for them, to enter into the sphere of unprotected persons, and especially those who are engaged in the study of occultism. And then they become agents in concentrating the karma of those persons, producing troubles and disasters often, or other difficulties which otherwise might have been so spread over a period of time as to be not counted more than the ordinary vicissitudes of life. This will go to explain why an Adept will not do a phenomenon unless he sees the desire in the mind of another lower or higher Adept or student; for then there is a sympathetic relation established and also a tacit acceptance of the consequences which may ensue. It will also help to understand the peculiar reluctance often of some persons, who can perform phenomena, to produce them in cases where we may think their production would be beneficial; and also why they are never done to compass worldly ends, as is natural for worldly people to suppose might be done, - such as procuring money, transferring objects, influencing minds, and so on. "
"Student: Accept my thanks for your instruction."
"Sage: May you reach a terrace of enlightenment!"
Further on in the same article the student proceeds to ask more questions about elementals, particularly why the Sage does not give him a more detailed explanation of their constitution. The Sage replies that there are many reasons, one being that the student could not understand what he would be told and another that, if the constitution of them and their method of action were given out, some people would certainly find out how to use them. The Sage then enlarges considerably on the dangers of their being able to do so.
There is, however, an interesting passage as follows:
"Student: Do some sorts of elementals have guard over hidden treasure?"
"Sage: Yes, in every instance, whether never found or soon discovered. The causes for the hiding and the thoughts of the hider or loser have much to do with the permanent concealment or subsequent finding."
"Student: What happens when a large sum of money, say, such as Captain Kidd's mythical treasure, is concealed or when a quantity of coin is lost."
"Sage: Elementals gather about it. They have many and curious modes of causing further concealment. They even influence animals to that end. This class of elementals seldom if ever report at your spiritualistic seances. As time goes on the forces of air and water still further aid them, and sometimes they are able even to prevent the hider from recovering it. Thus in course of years, even when they have altogether lost their hold on it, the whole thing becomes shrouded in mist, and it is impossible to find anything."
"Student: This in part explains why so many failures are recorded in the search for hidden treasure but how about the Masters; are they prevented thus by these weird guardians?"
"Sage: They are not. The vast quantities of gold hidden in the earth and under the sea are at their disposal always. They can, when necessary for their purposes, obtain such sums of money on whom no living being or descendants of any have the slightest claim, as would appal the senses of your greatest money getter. They have but to command the very elementals controlling it, and They have it. This is the basis for the story of Aladdin's wonderful lamp, more true than you believe."
"Student: Of what use then is it to try, like the alchemists, to make gold? With the immense amount of buried treasure thus easily found when you control its guardians, it would seem a waste of time and money to learn transmutation of metals."
"Sage: The transmutation spoken of by the real alchemists was the alteration of the base alloy in man's nature. At the same time actual transmutation of lead into gold is possible. And many followers of the alchemists, as well as those of the pure-souled Jacob Boehme, eagerly sought to accomplish the material transmuting, being led away by the glitter of wealth. But an Adept has no need for transmutation, as I have shown you. The stories told of various men who are said to have produced gold from base metals for different kings in Europe are wrong explanations. Here and there Adepts have appeared, assuming different names and in certain emergencies they supplied or used large sums of money. But instead of its being the product of alchemical art, it was simply ancient treasure brought to them by elementals in their service and that of the Lodge. Raymond Lully or Robert Flood might have been of that sort but I forbear to say, since I cannot claim acquaintance with those men."
Again, later in the same article, were some more interesting passages. Here is one:
"Student: In our last conversation you touched upon the guarding of buried treasure by elementals. I should like very much to hear a little more about that. Not about how to control them or to procure the treasure, but upon the subject generally."
"Sage: The laws governing the hiding of buried treasure are the same as those that relate to lost objects. Every person has about him a fluid, or plane, or sphere, or energy, whichever you please to call it, in which are constantly found elementals which partake of his nature. That is, they are tinted by his colour and impressed by his character. There are numerous classes of these. Some men have many of one class, or all, or many of some and few of others. And anything worn upon your person is connected with your elementals. For instance, you wear cloth made of wool or linen, and little objects made of wood, bone, brass, gold, silver, and other substances. Each one of these has certain magnetic relations peculiar to itself and all of them are soaked, to a greater or less extent, with your magnetism, as well as nervous fluid. Some of them, because of their substance, do not long retain this fluid, while others do. The elementals are connected, each class according to its substance, with those objects by means of the magnetic fluid. And they are acted upon by the mind and desires to a greater extent than you know, and in a way that cannot be formulated in English. Your desires have a powerful grasp, so to say, upon certain things, and upon others a weaker hold. When one of these objects is suddenly dropped, it is invariably followed by elementals. They are drawn after it, and may be said to go with the object by attraction rather than by sight. In many cases they completely envelope the thing so that, although it is near at hand, it cannot be seen by the eye. But after a while the magnetism wears off and their power to envelop the object weakens, whereupon it appears in sight. This does not happen in every case. But it is a daily occurrence, and is sufficiently obvious to many persons to be quite removed from the realm of fable. I think, indeed, that one of your literary persons has written an essay upon this very experience, in which, although treated in a comic vein, many truths are unconsciously told; the title of this was, if I mistake not, "Upon the Innate Perversity of Inanimate Objects". There is such a nice balancing of forces in these cases that you must be careful in your generalizations. You may just ask, for instance, why, when a coat is dropped, it seldom disappears from sight? Well, there are cases in which even such a large object is hidden, but they are not very common. The coat is full of your magnetism and the elementals may feel in it just as much of you as when it is on your back. There may be, for them, no disturbance of the relations, magnetic and otherwise. And often in the case of a small object not invisible, the balancing forces, due to many causes that have to do with your condition at the time, prevents the hiding. To decide in any particular case, one would have to see into the realm where the operation of these laws is hidden, and calculate all the forces, so as to say why it happens in one way and not in another."
"Student: But take the case of a man who, being in possession of treasure, hides it in the earth and goes away and dies and it is not found. In that instance the elementals did not hide it. Or when a miser buries his gold or jewels. How about those?"
"Sage: In all cases where a man buries gold, or jewels, or money, or precious things, his desires are fastened to that which he hides. Many of his elementals attach themselves to it, and other classes of them also who had nothing to do with him, gather round and keep it hidden. In the case of the captain of a ship containing treasure, the influences are very powerful, because there the elementals are gathered from all the persons connected with the treasure, and the officer himself is full of solicitude for what is committed to his charge. You should also remember that gold and silver - or metal - have relations with elementals that are of a strong and peculiar character. They do not work for human law, and natural law does not assign any property in metals to man, nor recognise in him any peculiar and transcendent right to retain what he has dug from the earth or acquired for himself. Hence we do not find the elementals anxious to restore to him the gold or silver which he had lost. If we were to assume that they occupied themselves in catering to the desires of men or in establishing what we call our rights over property, we might as well at once grant the existence of a capricious and irresponsible Providence. They proceed solely according to the law of their being, and, as they are without the power of making a judgment, they commit no blunders and are not to be moved by considerations based upon our vested rights or our unsatisfied wishes. Therefore, the spirits that appertain to metals invariably act as the laws of their nature prescribe, and one way of doing so is to obscure the metals from our sight."
Then the Student asks whether application of this knowledge about elementals can be applied to the realm of ethics, and the Sage tells him that it has. For example, if we criticise the faults of another, we produce an attraction to ourselves of certain quantities of elementals from that person. "They fasten themselves upon you and endeavour to find in you the similar state or spot or fault that they have left in the other person. It is as if they left him to serve you for higher wages, so to say."
Then there are long descriptions of the relationship between these elementals and the Astral Light, the implications of which are really outside the scope of this article. Concerning the relation of elementals to ourselves, we find that this does not apply only when we are alive. There is a relationship between our skandha and the elementals, our skandha being those predispositions and tendencies which remain in the subjective worlds between lives to condition our next birth. The following quotation explains this:
"The skandhas are Karmic and non-Karmic. Skandhas may produce elementals by unconscious kriyashakti. Every elemental that is thrown out by man must return to him sooner or later, since it is his own vibration. They thus become his Frankenstein. Elementals are simply effects producing effects. They are disembodied thoughts, good and bad. They remain crystallised in the Astral Light and are attracted by affinity and galvanized back into life again, when their originator returns to earth- life. You can paralyze them by reverse effects. Elementals are caught like a disease and hence are dangerous to ourselves and others. This is why it is dangerous to influence others. The elementals which live after your death are those which you implant in others; the rest remain latent till you are reincarnated, when they come to life in you."
The Secret Doctrine Vol. III p.588
Note: the numerous passages quoted above, apart from the last, are taken from Conversations on Occultism published in The Path from April to September 1888 and they are reproduced in Collected Writings, Vol.IX, 104 onwards. The last quotation is from S.D.III, 588.
As has been said previously, there is information about Elementals scattered throughout H.P.B.'s voluminous literature. For example, in the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, there is a question:
"Q. What is the difference between an Elemental and a Dhyan-Chohan or a Dhyani-Buddha?"
"A. The difference is very great. Elementals are attached only to the four terrestrial elements and only to the two lower kingdoms of nature, the mineral and the vegetable, in which they inmetalize and inherbalize so to speak. The Hindu term Deva may be applied to them, but not that of Dhyan-Chohan. The former have a kind of cosmic intelligence, but the latter are endowed with a supersensuous intellect, each of its kind. As to the Dhyani-Buddhas, they belong to the highest divine (or omniscient) intelligences, answering best, perhaps, to the Roman Catholic Archangels."
Then there was another question later on in the same Transactions:
"Q. What relation have the Elements to the Elementals?"
"A. The same relation as the earth has to man. As physical man is the quintessence of the Earth, Air, Fire, or Water, an Elemental (called Sylph, Salamander, Undine, etc.) is of the quintessence of its special element. Every differentiation of substance and matter evolves a kind of intelligence force, and it is these which the Rosicrucians called Elementals or Nature spirits.
Everyone of us can believe in Elementals which we can create for ourselves, but this latter class of Elemental creation has no existence outside our own imagination. It will be an intelligence, or Force, good or bad, but the form given to it and its attributes will be our own creation, while at the same time it will have an intelligence derived from us."
[Excerpts from Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge are published in - and taken from - Collected Writings Vol.X, pp 362 and 366. Ed.]
An interesting and amusing passage in W.Q. Judge's "Conversations on Occultism with H.P.B." also printed from The Path of April 1894 is headed, "About Elementals", an extract is as follows:
"It's a long time ago now that I told that this part would not be explained. But I can tell you some things. This one that you and Olcott used to call *** can't see you unless I let him. Now I will impress you upon it or him so that like a photograph he will remember so far. But you can't make it obey you until you know how to get the force directed. I'll send him to you and let him make a bell". In a few days after this the proposed sign was given at a distance from her and a little bell was sounded in the air when I was talking with a person not interested in Theosophy, and when I was about three miles away from H.P.B. On next seeing her she asked if *** had been over and sounded the bell, mentioning the exact day and time."
"This one has no form in particular but is more like a revolving mass of air. But it is, all the same, quite definite, as you know from what he has done. There are some classes with forms of their own. The general division into fiery, airy, earthy and watery is pretty correct but it will not cover all the classes. There is not a single thing going on about us, no matter what, that Elementals are not concerned in, because they constitute a necessary part of nature, just as important as the nerve currents in your body. Why, in storms you should see them, how they move about. Don't you remember what you told me about that lady *** who saw them change and move about at the opera? It was due to her tendencies and the general idea underlying the opera." (It was the opera of Tristan and Isolde by Wagner. - J) "In that case, as Isolde is Irish, the whole idea under it aroused a class of Elementals peculiar to that island and its traditions. That's a queer place, Judge, that Ireland. It is packed full of a singular class of Elementals; and, by Jove! I see they have even emigrated in quite large numbers. Sometimes one quite by accident rouses up some ancient system, say from Egypt; that is the explanation of that singular astral noise which you said reminded you of a sistrum being shaken; it was really objective, but, my dear fellow, do you think I will give you a patent Elemental extractor? - Not yet."
Then later Judge says that he asked her about spiritualistic phenomena and she answered:
"It is nearly all done by Elementals. Now I can make them tap anywhere you like in this room. Select any place you wish." (I pointed to a hard plaster wall-space free from objects.) "Now ask what you like that can be answered by taps."
Q. What is my age? Taps: the correct number.
Q. How many in my house? Taps: right.
Q. How many months have I been in the city? Taps: correct.
Q. What number of minutes past the hour by my watch? Taps: right.
Q. How many keys on my ring? Taps: correct.
H.P.B. "Oh bosh! Let it stop! You won't get any more for I have cut it off. Try your best. They have no sense; they got it all out of your own head, even the keys, for you know inside how many keys are on the ring, though you do not remember; but anyhow I could see into your pocket and count the number and then a tapper would give the right reply. There's something better than all that magic nonsense."
Collected Writings Vol.X, p.271
As we said earlier, like every other aspect of Theosophy, that of Elementals cannot be properly understood unless it is related to the other aspects. In this case these are Akasha and the Astral Light. As we have seen, they are involved in the whole nature of man and particularly how he comes to be as he is. They relate to the Tattvas, to Sound and Colour in Nature, and so on. All this and much more is in our original classical literature for us to discover.
We have been able to include only the salient information about Elementals given us in the literature, but from it we can see the role played by them in our Cosmic scheme. They underlie all manifest existence, both at the objective and subjective levels. They are semi-intelligent, obeying as servants the entities, their masters, above them in the hierarchical order of things. In terms of evolutionary development they precede the mineral kingdom in three stages or kingdoms of their own. They even operate in the fourth dimension (state) of matter. They are, as centres of force, the proximate agents of all phenomena, natural and psychic. As such they are behind the wonder working both of fakirs and Master occultists. They are the mechanism (as life atoms) for the transmission of hereditary psychic and mental characteristics (skandha). They are the living entities concerned in the operations of Karma. They reflect the nature of the planets, by responding to planetary influences and are the souls of the classical Elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
In other words (H.P.B.'s) "there is not a single thing going on about us (or even within us), no matter what, that Elementals are not concerned in ...".
This document has been reproduced from Geoffrey Farthing's digital copy created in 2002,
and currently in the archive material of The Blavatsky Trust. The Blavatsky Trust 2012