The subject matter of this chapter relates both to Akasha and to the Hierarchies of Chapter IV. The Elements of the occult system are differentiations of the One Element, Akasha; they must not be confused with the elements of chemistry, although these are derived from the occult Elements. Elementals are defined as "the Spirits of the Elements."
An informative passage in The Secret Doctrine sets out the basic facts:
For clearer understanding on the part of the general reader, it must be stated that Occult Science recognizes Seven Cosmical Elements - four entirely physical, and the fifth (Ether) semi-material, as it will become visible in the air towards the end of our Fourth Round, Note that the term Round is used to denote a vast evolutionary cycle. This, and the meaning of Race in the literature, are more fully discussed in Chapter XII.-GAF to reign supreme over the others during the whole of the Fifth. The remaining two are as yet absolutely beyond the range of human perception. These latter will, however, appear as presentments during the 6th and 7th Races of this Round, and will become known in the 6th and 7th Rounds respectively. These seven elements with their numberless Sub-Elements (far more numerous than those known to Science) are simply conditional modifications and aspects of the ONE and only Element. This latter is not Ether, not even Akasha, but the Source of these. The Fifth Element, now advocated quite freely by Science, is not the Ether hypothesized by Sir Isaac Newton-although he calls it by that name, having associated it in his mind probably with the Aether, "Father-Mother" of antiquity.
Secret Doctrine (I 12, I 40, I 78)
To summarize the significance of this abstruse teaching, it may be said that it shows how the properties of substance and life, or matter and form, inherent in the primordial fabric of the universe, are reflected in every level of manifestation where, in their consequent modifications, they are experienced by our senses.
Elementals are centres of living energy, the "souls" or "Spirits" of the Elements. The term is applied particularly to these entities-for such they are-as they occur in the three kingdoms that precede the mineral in our physical world.
According to the ancient doctrines, the soulless elemental spirits were evolved by the ceaseless motion inherent in the astral light. Light is force, and the latter is produced by the will. As this will proceeds from an intelligence which cannot err, for it has nothing of the material organs of human thought in it, being the super-fine pure emanation of the highest divinity itself (Plato's "Father") - it proceeds from the beginning of time, according to immutable laws, to evolve the elementary fabric requisite for subsequent generations of what we term human races. ... These evolutions were from the world of spirit into the world of gross matter; and through that back again to the source of all things. ... In this complete chain of unfoldings, the elementary, spiritual beings had as distinct a place, midway between the extremes, as Mr. Darwin's missing link between the ape and man. Isis Unveiled, I 285
In Zanoni, one of Bulwer Lytton's characters puts forward the teaching of the all but infinite number of invisible inhabitants of the world:
... if even man himself is a world to other lives, and millions and myriads dwell in the rivers of his blood, and inhabit man's frame as man inhabits earth, common sense ... would suffice to teach that the circumfluent infinite which you call space-the boundless Impalpable which divides earth from the moon and stars-is filled also with its correspondent and appropriate life. ... no mechanical tube is yet invented to discover the nobler and more gifted things
that hover in the illimitable sir. Yet between these last and man is a mysterious and terrible affinity ...
Now, in space there are millions of beings, not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalcule unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtle, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer that clothes the spirit ... Yet, in truth, these races differ more widely ... some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven. Isis Unveiled, I 286
In an article in Mme Blavatsky's magazine Lucifer there is the following passage:
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 .... 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. But the last are the Elementals in their most primordial and latent state. Blavatsky Collected Writings, VI 197
... class are the "elementals" proper, which never 'evolve into human beings, but occupy, as it were, a specific step of the ladder of being, and, by comparison with the others, may properly be called nature-spirits, or cosmic agents of nature, each being confined to its own element and never transgressing the bounds of others. Isis Unveiled, I 311
At this point it becomes 'necessary to introduce another term, tattva, without which some important aspects of the occult system cannot be explained. The subject is an abstruse one; but an attempt to grasp its essential principle will facilitate later study. The Sanskrit word tattva has no exact equivalent in English; it is defined as "thatness," truth, reality, the essential nature of things. A further explanation states that the tattvas are "the substratum of the seven forces of nature," as also "the substance out of which the universe is formed" and "the power by which it is sustained." They are both Force and Matter, for "the degrees of the solidity of matter and the degrees of the power that ensouls it must go hand in hand." Again, "they are both substance and force, or atomic matter and the spirit that ensoul it." In Sanskrit works, the word for "primordial and elemental" Matter is Prakriti, and as this is sevenfold, the tattvas also - "the principles of the universe as in man" - must be seven in number. Secret Doctrine Addendum (492, 469, 605, 391) contains the seven quotes in this paragraph.
Throughout the study of the occult system, it will be observed that Nature is septenary in all her aspects. There are seven planes in Cosmos, seven principles in man, seven senses (two as yet latent), the septenary scale in music, the septenary spectrum in colours. What follows from this is that there are correspondences between the members of every septenate. Did Baudelaire know this when he wrote: "les formes, les couleurs et les sons se repondent," a reverberation, so to speak, by which all the phenomena of Nature are linked and kin? Under the heading "The Tattvic Correlations and Meaning" we read:
In nature, then, we find seven Forces, or seven Centres of Force, and everything seems to respond to that number, as for instance, the septenary scale in music, or Sounds, and the septenary spectrum in Colors. Secret Doctrine Addendum (492, 469, 605, 391)
In humanity at present only five senses are developed, and consequently we cannot be aware of more than the five lower tattvas. The reader is informed that "the doctrine of the seven Tattvas (the principles of the universe as in man) was held in great sacredness, and therefore secrecy, by
the Brahmans," Secret Doctrine Addendum (492,469,605,391) but as our humanity has reached only the Fifth Race, and as two of his seven senses remain latent, the Hindu systems give only five Tattvas.
The five physical senses are made to correspond with the five lower Tattvas, the two yet undeveloped senses in man, and the two forces, or Tattvas, forgotten by Brahmans and still unrecognized by Science, being so subjective, and the highest of them so sacred, that it can only be recognized by, and known through, the highest Occult Sciences. It is easy to see that these two Tattvas and the two senses (the sixth and the seventh) correspond to the two highest human Principles, Buddhi and the Auric Envelope, See Theosophical Glossary and Part Il, Chapter Ill impregnated with the light of Atman. Unless we open in ourselves, by occult training, the sixth and seventh senses, we can never comprehend correctly their corresponding types. Secret Doctrine Addendum (479, 474, 610, 395)
There follows a list of the seven Tattvas with brief explanatory notes, and the further comment that "all these correspond to our principles, and to the seven senses and forces in man Secret Doctrine Addendum (498,476,612,396) followed by a table of correspondences. Secret Doctrine Addendum (501,478,614,398)
The Secret Doctrine introduces the Occult Tibetan term that designates "the ever-present electrical energy and ceaseless destructive and formative power" in the universe; this is Fohat, the universal propelling Vital Force, at once the propeller and the resultant.Theosophical Glossary, Fohat In the symbolism of the Stanzas on which The Secret Doctrine is based, Fohat - "the constructive force of Cosmic Electricity" - is made to appear as an Entity, a Being with whom are associated seven sons who are his brothers. In the passage that follows (the quotation is extensive, because of the light it throws on the nature of the Elementals), the term Maya should be noted. Although usually translated as "illusion," it is more correctly understood as
... the cosmic power which renders phenomenal existence and the perceptions thereof possible. In Hindu philosophy that alone which is changeless and eternal is called reality; all that which is subject to change through decay and differentiation and which has therefore a beginning and an end is regarded as maya-illusion. Theosophical Glossary, Maya
The commentary on the operations of Fohat and his "Sons-brothers" continues:
The Seven "Sons-brothers," however, represent and personify the seven forms of Cosmic magnetism called in practical Occultism the "Seven Radicals," whose co-operative and active progeny are, among other energies, Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light, Heat, Cohesion, etc. Occult Science defines all these as Super-sensuous effects in their hidden behaviour, and as objective phenomena in the world of senses; the former requiring abnormal faculties to perceive them-the latter, our ordinary physical senses. They all pertain to, and are the emanations of, still more supersensuous spiritual qualities, not personated by, but belonging to, real and conscious CAUSES. To attempt a description of such ENTITIES would be worse than useless. The reader must bear in mind that, according to our teaching which regards this phenomenal Universe as a great Illusion,the nearer a body is to the UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE, the more it approaches reality, as being removed the farther from this world of Maya. Therefore, though the molecular constitution of their bodies is not deducible from their manifestations on this plane of consciousness, they nevertheless (from the standpoint of the adept Occultist) possess a distinctive objective if not material structure, in the relatively noumenal-as opposed to the phenomenal-Universe. Men of science may term them Force or Forces generated by matter, or "modes of its motion," if they will; Occultism sees in those effects "Elementals" (forces), and, in the direct causes producing them, intelligent DIVINE Workmen. The intimate connection of these Elementals (guided by the unerring hand of the Rulers) - their correlation we might call it - with the
elements of pure Matter, results in our terrestrial phenomena, such as light, heat, magnetism, etc., etc. Secret Doctrine (I 145, I 169, I 20I) This citation is from the original edition.- GAF
Further in the commentary Mme Blavatsky explains that "all the so-called· Forces of Nature, Electricity, Magnetism, Light, Heat, etc.... in their ultimate constitution," are not "modes of motions of material particles" but the differentiated aspects of the One Universal Motion - just as, for example, the colours of the spectrum are made to appear when the white light, which contains them all, is passed through a prism. The commentary thus gives a grand comprehensive picture of the internal processes of Cosmos. All the differentiations in Nature, whether of energy or of substance, are living, for they are differentiations of the One Life manifesting as the manifold lives with their variety of properties and powers according to their stage of evolutionary development. The lower ones are Elementals, the higher ones the Rulers, each class with intelligence according to its degree, and each having its vehicle, its base or means of expression, which is itself a manifestation of life.
Little information is given about the three Elemental kingdoms that precede the Mineral. However, some interesting facts about Elementals were given by Mme Blavatsky at different times in conversations with W.Q Judge, a founding member of The Theosophical Society. These conversations were originally published in The Path, a magazine started by Judge in 1886. On one occasion she told him that she would cause a particular Elemental to produce a bell sound according to her precise instructions, and this it accordingly did some days later.' Speaking about this Elemental when they met, Mme Blavatsky gave Judge some further information:
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 that opera? It was due to her tendencies and the general idea underlying the opera.It was the opera of Tristan and Isolde by Wagner. - W.Q. Judge 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 even have 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. Blavatsky Collected Writings, X 271
Although this was spoken in light vein, the information given is valid; first, that elementals are everywhere - behind the scenes, so to speak; secondly, that they directly affect what goes on in the world; and thirdly, that they are subject to the will of one who has the necessary knowledge and power. In earlier issues of The Path, other such conversations are recorded in the form of a dialogue between a Student and a Sage. Here we find a good deal more information about Elementals - too much to reproduce here, but a few extracts are given to show some of the detailed ramifications of the subject:
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 that partake of his nature. That is, they are tinted with his colour and impressed by his character. There are numerous classes of these. Some men have many of one class or of all, or many of some and few of others. And anything worn upon your person is connected with your elementals. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX I24
As to the moral character of elementals, they have none: they are colourless in themselves - except some classes - and merely assume the tint, so to speak, of the person using them. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 113
In answer to the question, Are elementals beings?, the Sage gave this reply:
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 ... 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 an 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. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 109
It is pertinent to refer here to some comments made in The Secret Doctrine on the subject of the dimensions of space:
... it is worthwhile to point out the real significance of the sound but incomplete intuition that has prompted ... the use of the modern expression, "the fourth dimension of Space." To begin with, of course, the superficial absurdity of assuming that Space itself is measurable in any direction is of little consequence. The familiar phrase can only be an abbreviation of the fuller form - the "Fourth dimension of MATTER in Space." But it is an unhappy phrase even thus expanded, because while it is perfectly true that the progress of evolution may be destined to introduce us to new characteristics of matter, those with which we are already familiar are really more numerous than the three dimensions ... Meanwhile, the expression is far more incorrect than even the familiar one of the "Sun rising or setting. Secret Doctrine (I 251,I 271, I 295)
Turning again to the conversation between Student and Sage, the former asks whether the elementals are not all of one class. The Sage replies:
No. There are different classes for each plane, and division of plane, of nature. Many can never be recognized 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. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 110
The "Conversations on Occultism" recorded by Judge run to some fifty pages in volume IX of the Collected Writings, with important information - and warnings - about its relevance to the question of spiritualistic phenomena. In introducing the subject, the Student himself makes a summary of the facts:
... 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 a stove. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 104
The term Elementaries is also introduced into the conversation. Here a brief explanatory note will be sufficient to avoid the confusion that arises because of the similarity of the words. Elementaries - defined here as shells, or "half dead human beings" - are the vivified remains of deceased persons, galvanized into a semblance of life by the presence of a medium. The Elementals that enter into them enable the shells to produce the phenomena of the seance room. The subject will be mentioned again in Chapter XII.