by Geoffrey Farthing

Chapter XII Spiritualism and Psychism

Original EditionDeity Cosmos and Man Centenary Edition



Spiritualism, as commonly understood, is a view of life that recognizes the survival of a personal "soul" or "spirit" (terms which are too often used without clear definition or distinction) after the death of the body, and the ability of that surviving entity to communicate with the living through the intermediary of a sensitive or medium. Psychism is a general term that embraces a range of paranormal occurrences and faculties, such as materializations, poltergeists, mediumship, pre-cognition, out-of-the-body experiences, psychometry, clairvoyance, and clairaudience. In Occult Science the phenomena associated with both spiritualism and psychism are systematically studied and coherently explained. The information given in the literature is extensive, detailed and consistent, and is shown to be part of the total system. Moreover, it is offered not as speculative but as empirically ascertained and capable of corroboration, having been obtained by the use of faculties possessed by all but developed in only a few.

The theosophical system is one integrated whole; consequently relevant information will be found throughout this study. Several of the preceding chapters provide the key data on which the theosophical explanations are based, in particular Chapter III, The Occult Constitution of Cosmos and Man; Chapter V, Akasha and the Astral Light; Chapter VI, Elements and Elementals; and Chapter VIII, Death and Rebirth.

In relation to spiritualism, it will be clear that the explanations offered by Esoteric Science do not dispute the reality of seance phenomena, for example, (except, of course, where these are fraudulently produced). The evidence of their occurrence is abundantly documented and is not in question. What is disputed is the claim that such phenomena, which include messages received through a medium, apports or physical manifestations, are attributable to the intervention of the "spirits" of deceased persons. This immediately separates the theosophical philosophy from spiritualism. The Theosophical Glossary shows clearly the difference between the two views in the definition of Materializations


In Spiritualism the word signifies the objective appearance of the so-called "Spirits" of the dead, who reclothe themselves occasionally in matter; i.e., they form for themselves out of the materials at hand, which are found in the atmosphere and the emanations of those present, a temporary body bearing the human likeness of the defunct as he appeared, when alive. Theosophists accept the phenomenon of "materialization"; but they reject the theory that it is produced by "Spirits", i.e., the immortal principles of the disembodied persons. Theosophists hold that when the phenomenon is genuine ... it is produced by the larvae, the eidola or Kamalokic "ghosts" of the dead personalities.

Mme Blavatsky uses the Greek word eidolon,meaning image or phantom, for this remnant of the deceased personality, "the shadowy form or the human double" Key to Theosophy, 96 In normal circumstances this eidolon quickly disperses at the death of the physical body, its natural environment being the Kamaloka,

The semi-material plane, to us subjective and invisible, where the disembodied "personalities"; the astral forms, called Kama-rupa remain, until they fade out from it by the complete exhaustion of the effects of the mental impulses that created these eidolons of human and animal passions and desires. Theosophical Glossary, Kamaloka

Firstly then, Occult Science gives a view of the sevenfold constitution of man, as a unit of consciousness functioning through four vehicles (namely, the physical, the Linga-sharira, the Mayavi-rupa, and the Auric Envelope [see later]). When at death the densest of these, the physical body, ceases to function, the other three remain. Faced with "the objection made by the materialists, who deny the possibility of mind and consciousness acting without physical matter," Mme Blavatsky counters with the pertinent comment:

We do not deny the soundness of their argument; we simply ask our opponents, "Are you acquainted with all the states of matter,


you who knew hitherto but of three [solid, liquid, and gaseous]" Key to Theosophy, 100

Next, the literature of Occult Science employs the word "spirit" with a precision and consistency that are largely lacking among spiritualists. The true Spirit in man is the spiritual entity or Ego (the Higher Triad); for which, after the severing of the silver cord, there can be no return to earth for there is then no connecting link. What remains of the deceased when the Ego has departed to Devachan See Chapter VIII, "Re-incarnation or Re-birth," and Chapter IX, "On the Kamaloka and Devachan," of The Key to Theosophy. is no more than a shell, a residue of the lower vehicles of the personality that was, but with some residual consciousness. Just as a discarded overcoat may retain for a time the shape of its former wearer, so also the discarded vestures of the Ego retain some of the characteristics of the late personality. It is these remains that in materializations may be reclothed with the substance provided by a medium and maybe the sitters, and which may be to an extent enlivened by Elementals. They appear as the astral double or Karma-rupa of the deceased, a life-like picture or ephemeral likeness of the late personality.

The Mayavi-rupa is a form created generally unconsciously but maybe consciously (certainly in the case of an Adept) by thought. It can be projected away from the physical body when it becomes a body of projection (astral). Such a form often appears at the instant of death to a loved one or other whom the one dying was thinking of at the time.

In order to understand the source of the content of the "messages" received through the medium apparently from the deceased, reference must again be made not only to the residual consciousness and memory of the "shell" but also to what was said about Elementals and the nature of the Astral Light See Chapters V and VI. It was there stated, in a quotation endorsed by Mme Blavatsky, that "the impression of every thought we think and every act we perform is indelibly stamped on the invisible and indestructible tablets of the Astral Light." The remarkable psychometric' perceptions described by Professor Denton in The Soul of Things support the teaching of Esoteric Science to the effect that such records may be preserved for all time. Just


as a clairvoyant's vision is not impeded by material obstacles, so the particular sensitivity of a psychometer is not obstructed by time, for every object preserves the record of its own past, and it is this record in the Astral Light that the sensitive is able read. The Elementals have the ability to enliven these pictures and impress mediums with them, so that 'spirits' may 'come through' speaking in ancient languages, or with a knowledge of past times and so on.

At the end of Chapter VI a brief mention was made of Elementaries, defined there as shells or "half-dead human beings." As mentioned above, they are the residual kamic and lower mental principles, with their memories and fading consciousness of the disembodied man that was. In nature they are likely to manifest particularly the evil tendencies of those individuals who had led evil lives, sometimes to such an extent that a separation of the higher principles from the lower even during earth life had taken place. These disintegrating remnants of the personality are capable of being temporarily revivified and rendered partially conscious by the thought-currents, or magnetic currents, of living persons, hence the attraction of the seance room, where the peculiar psychic constitution of the medium, aided by Elementals, provides the power for such revivification. The Elementaries are

... the disembodied souls of 'the depraved; these souls having at some time prior to death separated from themselves their divine spirits ... Once divorced from their higher triads and their bodies, these souls remain in their Kama-rupic envelopes, and are irresistibly drawn to the earth amid elements congenial to their gross natures. Their stay in the Kamaloka varies as to its duration; but ends invariably in disintegration, dissolving like a column of mist, atom by atom, in the surrounding elements. Theosophical Glossary, Elementaries

Both Elementals and Elementaries are amoral and irresponsible; the former can be used to enliven the latter, as described above. Elementaries are the undesirable remnants of the deceased and can sometimes be not merely mischievous but even dangerous, e.g., poltergeists.


An understanding of the mechanism of materializations and of the nature of the entities that produce the phenomena associated with spiritualism will make clear the reason why students of Occult Science would discourage, or even condemn, practices that seek to bring back the dead to the earth they have left. This attitude is clearly and unequivocally explained in the definition of the Kama-rupa or "desire-body" given in the Theosophical Glossary. The passage in question gives an account of the processes of death as they affect the principles of man.

Kama-rupa: Metaphysically, and in our esoteric philosophy, it is the subjective form created through the mental and physical desires and thoughts in connection with things of matter, by all sentient beings, a form which survives the death of their bodies. After that death three of the seven "principles"- or let us say planes of senses and consciousness on which the human instincts and ideation act in turn - viz., the body, its astral prototype and physical vitality, - being of no further use, remain on earth; the three higher principles, grouped into one, merge into the state of Devachan, in which state the Higher Ego will remain until the hour for a new reincarnation arrives; and the eidolon of the ex-Personality is left alone in its new abode. Here, the pale copy of the man that was, vegetates for a period of time, the duration of which is variable and according to the element of materiality which is left in it, and which is determined by the past life of the defunct. Bereft as it is of its higher mind, spirit and physical senses, if left alone to its own senseless devices, it will gradually fade out and disintegrate. But, if forcibly drawn back into the terrestrial sphere whether by the passionate desires and appeals of the surviving friends or by regular necromantic practices - one of the most pernicious of which is mediumship - the "spook" may prevail for a period greatly exceeding the span of the natural life of its body. Once the Kama-rupa has learnt the way back to living human bodies, it becomes a vampire, feeding on the vitality of those who are so anxious for its company. Theosophical Glossary, Kama-rupa

Some brief reference must be made to other kinds of phenomena included under the broad term of psychism. In mediumship the sensitive has various


modes of functioning. He (or more often she) may be clairvoyantly or clairaudiently aware, so that he can see or hear in the Astral Light, or he may be passively sensitive so that he can go easily into trance, or he may be able to make available energy or ethereal substance, or both together, in order to allow the materialization to occur. In the passive state of trance, the medium can in no way determine what kind of entity will take advantage of the opportunity he offers to experience again the contact with physical matter. Were it not for the law that "like attracts like," which protects pure, well-intentioned mediums from possession by entities of too undesirable a kind, the danger of such possession would be greater than it is. Mediumistic ability in itself is in no sense undesirable, but because of the necessary passivity of the medium he will be subject to the dangers to which it exposes those who are endowed with it; it has to be brought under control and used at will. Mme Blavatsky is an example of one who, endowed from birth with marked mediumistic tendencies, was trained so to control her natural gifts as to become not a medium but a magician proper, a real occultist.

In materialization, the bodily image of a human "visitor" may be, as seen above, the form of its astral double or Kama-rupa, but it may also be an impression from the Astral Light, enlivened and animated by Elementals. The material of the apparition, ectoplasm, is drawn from the body of the medium, who is found to lose weight as the phantom becomes more solid, and to regain it as the phantom fades away.

In recent years out-of-the-body experiences have been carefully recorded and studied. Such experiences often take the form of looking down on one's own body, especially when the body has been made unconscious as the result of a serious accident or under an anaesthetic on the operating table. In such cases the consciousness is transferred to the Linga-sharira, the Astral Body. It is this body to a very limited extent, or more often the Mayavi-rupa, that is used in so-called astral travel.

When a man visits another in his Astral Body, it is the Linga-sharira that goes, but this cannot happen at any great distance. ...

If a man thinks intensely of another at a distance, his Mayavi-rupa may appear to that person, without the projector knowing anything

- 93-

about it This Mayavi-rupa is formed by the unconscious use of Kriyashakti … Secret Doctrine Addendum (588, 561, 706, 461)

Kriyashakti, one of the six Forces or Powers in Nature through which the seventh, the One Force, is expressed, is defined as:

... The mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally if one's attention is deeply concentrated upon it. Similarly an intense volition will be followed by the desired result. Secret Doctrine (I 293, I 312, I 333)

Phenomena involving Elementals embrace a wide range of happenings which appear miraculous to those who are ignorant of their cause or of their modus operandi, as for example the dematerialization of objects and their rematerialization in some other place. An occultist may have the power to control Elementals and to order them to produce the phenomena he desires. In hypnotism, the subject's lower principles are divorced from the higher Triad and made to act according to the bidding of the hypnotist; the effect is akin to sleep-walking, when the body acts independently of the conscious control of the mind. Psychometry, as mentioned earlier, is the ability to see the timeless images in the Astral Light. Together with clairvoyance and clairaudience, this unusual degree of psychic sensitivity may be compared with other natural gifts such as spontaneous true pitch or the unconscious talent of the artist and musician. None of these gifts, however, is necessarily indicative of spiritual development.


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