'Exploring the Great Beyond'
Chapter 10 Elementals

Geoffrey Farthing

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In the last chapter we discussed the Astral Light. It has some similarities to the ether of nineteenth century science, postulated as the infra-material agent through which electromagnetic waves, light, and other energy radiations could travel through empty space. This idea is unfashionable at the moment but our look at the teachings of Occultism suggests that there is a "substantial" base to everything. Even a force must exist as something other than an abstract tension or compression, and space is not a nothing. A vacuum is a theoretical concept applicable only to a hypothetical limiting condition in the physical world. We have already put forward the idea that even thoughts and feelings must have some base of appropriate substance, however non-physical and imponderable it may be, or they would be "nothings" and as such unable to affect consciousness. In other words if we were thinking we would not know that we were. In this way we can conceive of the invisible realms of nature not just as, for example, force fields, but as regions in which energies and forces exist and play, which are habitable and, in fact, inhabited by beings. (The author adds a note here: They are the beings whose characteristic activities are those 'forces'. Ed.)

It is said in Occultism that such is the case. The invisible worlds are hierarchies of beings at all stages of development, from the very lowly to the very lofty.

Just as man is unique in his constitution, comprising something of highest spirit down through all the grades of existence to our gross physical plane, so he occupies a unique position in the scale of hierarchical being. We saw that there are hierarchies of living beings below man, typified for example by denizens of the kingdoms of nature, and that there are also post-human hierarchies above him. This is reasonable if the ladder of being in nature is continuous.


But just as the normal habitat of post-human entities is in the higher invisible realms of existence, so below the level of the physical material plane there are invisible realms of substance peopled by "the lives" at the lowliest stages of development. There are then lives, mere centres of living energy, occupying the prematerial realms of being. It is said there are three grades of these realms referred to as the elemental kingdoms, the home of the so-called elementals or elemental spirits. This is the name given to the several classes of these rudimentary beings. And we shall see something of the part they play as manipulators of the elemental essences in the production of phenomena. In talking about elementals, we have to avoid confusion with the term "elementaries." The differences are dealt with later but because the distinction is so important to our study, we must draw attention to it now. Elementals are the souls, so to speak, of the elements, but this is in the terminology of the ancient philosophers not that of present-day scientists. Elementals are subhuman. The word "elementaries" on the other hand, is reserved for the psychic reliquiae of defunct human beings, their fourth and the lower part of their fifth principles. These are earthbound beings magnetically linked to their old earth environment spatially, but invisible except to the clairvoyant. Of course, there are those who will ever scoff at the very idea of either elementals or elementaries, but let us see some informative quotations.

Only do those who ridicule it [the subject of subhuman and earthbound beings] know what they are talking about? Having never studied the Kabalist writers, it becomes evident to me that they confound the "elementaries"-disembodied, vicious and earthbound, yet human spirits, with the "elementals" or nature-spirits.

... I will attempt to make my meaning clear. Eliphas Levi [ 19th century great Kabalistic scholar] applies equally the term "elementary" to earthbound human spirits and to the creatures of the elements. This carelessness on his part is due to the fact that as the human elementaries are considered by the Kabalists as having irretrievably lost every chance of immortality they, therefore, after a certain period of time, become no better than the elementals who never had any soul at all. To disentangle the subject, I have, in my Isis Unveiled, shown that the former should alone be caned "elementaries" and the latter "elementals."

(C. W. I, pp. 265/6)


The quotations referred to in lsis (Vol. I, xxix-xxx) are:

ELEMENTAL SPIRITS - The creatures evolved in the four Kingdoms, earth, air, fire and water, and caned by the kabalists gnomes, sylphs, salamanders and undines. They may be termed the forces of nature, and win either operate effects as the servile agents of general law , or may be employed by the disembodied spirits - whether pure or impure - and by living adepts of magic and sorcery, to produce desired phenomenal results. Such beings never become men. [Under many names] ... they have been seen, feared, blessed, banned, and invoked in every quarter of the globe and in every age. Shall we then concede that an who have met them were hallucinated? These elementals are the principal agents of disembodied but never visible spirits at séances, and the producers of an the phenomena except the subjective.

ELEMENTARYSPIRITS - Properly, the disembodied souls of the depraved; these souls having at some time prior to death separated from themselves their divine spirits, and so lost their chance for immortality. Eliphas Levi and some other Kabalists make little distinction between elementary spirits who have been men and those beings which people the elements, and are the blind forces of nature. Once divorced from their bodies, these souls (also called "astral bodies") of purely materialistic persons, are irresistibly attracted to the earth, where they live a temporary and finite life amid elements congenial to their gross natures. From having never, during their natural lives, cultivated their spirituality but subordinated it to the material and gross, they are now unfitted for the lofty career of the pure, disembodied being (the Ego), for whom the atmosphere of earth is stifling and mephitic [poisonous] and whose attractions are all away from it. After a more or less prolonged period of time, these material souls will begin to disintegrate and finally, like a column of mist, be dissolved, atom by atom, in the surrounding elements.


As we have seen, the Akasa and Astral Light figure largely in the science of Occultism and are essential elements of spiritualistic phenomena. Akasa is synonymous with the Universal uncreate, eternal substance principle, in reference to which Mme. Blavatsky has the following to say:

... that this pre-existing and self-existent substance or matter (Svabhavat) is itself without any other creator or ruler; when in the state of activity it is Pravritti, a universal creating principle; when latent and passive, they (the metaphysical schools of Nepal) call this force Nivritti. As for something eternal and infinite, for that which had neither beginning nor end, there can be neither past nor future, but everything that was and will be, IS, therefore there never was an action or even thought, however simple, that is not impressed in imperishable records on this substance called by the Buddhists Svabhavat, by the Kabalists astral light. As in a faithful mirror, this light reflects every image, and no human imagination could see anything outside that which exists impressed somewhere on the eternal substance. To imagine that a human brain can conceive of anything that was never conceived of before by the "universal brain," is a fallacy, and a conceited presumption. At best, the former can catch now and then stray glimpses of "eternal thought" after these have assumed some objective form, either in the world of the invisible or visible universe. Hence the unanimous testimony of trained seers goes to prove that there are such creatures as the elementals; and that though the elementaries have been at some time human spirits they, having lost every connection with the purer immortal world, must be recognised by some special term which would draw a distinct line of demarcation between them and the true and genuine disembodied souls which have henceforth to remain immortal. To the Kabalists and the adepts, especially in India, the difference between the two is all important, and their tutored minds will never allow them to mistake the one for the other; to the untutored medium they are all one.

(C. W.I, pp. 268/9)


Establishing that the term "elementary" was not new Mme. Blavatsky quotes a contributor in the London Spiritualist for February, 1876 two years previously, who says, "Is it not probable that some of the elementary spirits of an evil type are those spirit bodies which, only recently disembodied, are on the eve of an eternal dissolution, and which continue their temporary existence only by vampirizing those still in the flesh? Note two things; that human elementaries are recognised as existing, apart from the gnomes, sylphs, undines and salamanders - beings purely elemental: and that annihilation of the soul is regarded as potential."

In the same article (C.W.I, p. 284) there are some interesting passages concerning the formation of the astral body and its function, in which the elementals are concerned.

Says Paracelsus, in his Philosophia Sagax:

The current of astral light with its peculiar inhabitants, gnomes, sylphs etc. is transformed into human light 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.

(C. W. I, pp. 284)

And Eliphas Levi:

The astral light is saturated with souls which it discharges in the incessant generation of beings ... At the birth of a 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 ...

"Yes, yes," he remarks, "these spirits of the elements do exist. Some wandering in their spheres, others trying to incarnate themselves, others again already incarnated and living on earth. These are vicious and imperfect men."


Note that we have here described to us more or less "intelligent spirits other than those who have passed through an earth experience in a human body." If not intelligent they would not know how to make the attempt to incarnate themselves. Vicious elementals, or elementaries, are attracted to vicious parents; they bask in their atmosphere, and are thus afforded the chance by the vices of the parents to perpetuate in the child the paternal wickedness. The unintellectual "elementals" are drawn in unconsciously to themselves; and in the order of Nature, as component parts of the grosser astral body or soul, determine the temperament. They can as little resist as the animalcules can avoid entering into our bodies in the water we swallow.

(C. W. I, pp. 285)

In the role of elementals as agents for phenomena, associated more, however, with magicians than with spiritualists, we get a useful and interesting insight into what they can do and the fact that they can be controlled, in a note by H. P. Blavatsky (C. W. X, p.271):

It's a long time ago now that I told you [W. Q. Judge] this part would not be explained. [We do not know what this was. Author .] But I can tell you some things. This one [elemental] 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 cannot 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.

Judge writes:

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 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.

The narrative proceeds:

This one [elemental] 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 the opera of "Tristan and Isolde," by Wagner -J]. In that case 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; [A sistrum is an ancient Egyptian wire rattle used in Isis-worship. Author] it was really objective. But, my dear fellow, do you think I will give you a patent elemental extractor? - not yet.

Judge writes recounting an incident with H.P.B. [Riding in Central Park, New York]:

It is very interesting here. I (HPB) see a great number of Indians, and also their elementals, just as real as you seem to be. They do not see us; they are all spooks. But look here, Judge, don't confound the magnetism escaping through your skin with the gentle taps of supposed elementals who want a cigarette.

[In West 34th Street, New York. The first time she spoke to me of elementals particularly, I having asked her about Spiritualism. -J]

"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."

Judge asks: "What is my age?" Taps: the correct number .


"How many in my house?" Taps: right. "How many months have I been in the city?" Taps: Correct.

"What number of minutes past the hour by my watch?" Taps: Right

"How many keys on my ring?" Taps: correct.

H.P.B.: "Oh bosh! Let it stop. You wont get any more, for I have cut it off. Try your best. They have no sense; they get it all out of your own head, even the keys, for you know inside how many keys are on the ring, though you don't remember; but anyhow I could see into your pocket and count the number, and then that tapper would give the right reply. There's something better than all that magic nonsense."

This extract is particularly interesting in that it gives us so much information about the elementals and what they can do. They can "read" minds. They can produce physical effects such as reproducing bell sounds and making audible raps. H. P. Blavatsky could obviously see them and command them. She could also impress them so that they would know a person whom otherwise they could not see. In the case of the Indians in the park, they also could not see the physical world and the people in it. They were "spooks." Over and over again, the point is made that the "spooks" are not spirits.

There is an important relationship between ourselves and the elementals which must be borne in mind when we are seeking explanations for the apparently wonderful things that some "gifted" people can do. Here is an illustrative quotation, (C. W. IX, 124):

Every person has about him a fluid, or plane, or sphere of 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.

Again (C. W. IX, p. 113):

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.


We are given more information about elementals as follows (C. W., IX, 109 et seq):

Question: Are elementals beings?

Answer: 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 the Indian books ... Many things well known about them cannot be put into ordinary language.

Question: Do you refer to their being able to act in the fourth dimension of space?

Answer: Yes, in a measure. Take the tying in an endless cord of many knots - a thing often done at spiritist séances. 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.

It is fully appreciated that conjurors apparently tie knots on endless cords and make metal rings apparently pass through one another. A conjuror could not do these things without pre-prepared rope or rings or other props. He does tricks which merely deceive his watchers; the elementals really do them.

Question: Are they [elementals] not all of one class?

Answer: 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 inter-penetrate each other .

Question: Am I to understand that a clairvoyant or clairaudient has to do with or is affected by certain special class or classes of elementals?


Answer: Yes. A clairvoyant can see only the sights properly belonging to the planes 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 in planes not yet open to the seer. For this reason few clairvoyants know the whole truth.

Then comes a question of great importance concerning the working of universal law in its relation to man's individual affairs.

Question: Is there not some connection between the Karma of man and elementals?

Answer: A very important one. The elemental world has become a 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 yet 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 began 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 angered or insult is offered, feels inclined to return the same. So the elemental world, being unconscious force, returns 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.

The earlier reference to dimensions of space other than the normal three we know, is interesting. There are, potentially at any rate, four more dimensions. These, so Occultism says, will become apparent to us as our senses develop. In man's next stage of development he will have six senses and operate in four dimensions; much later still he will have seven senses and operate in five dimensions. We cannot yet even vaguely understand what this means. But the fourth dimension of matter has to do with "permeability," and our sixth sense will enable us to see through solid matter .

The elementals - and the elementaries using elementals - enjoy something of this sixth sense and can operate in the fourth dimension. This latter is not, in Occultism, time; but time, like spatial dimension, is a component of everything's being. Things exist in time. Occultism distinguishes duration from time. Duration is a quality or dimension of the noumenal world, time of the phenomenal. As time is a function of the being of the things we are cognizant of, it is closely related to mind, our lower personal mind. Because of the sequential existence of things and happenings in manifest existence, it is exceedingly difficult for us to apprehend a meaning to duration when it is referred to as, for example, the ever persisting "isness" of all that was, is, or ever shall be. The purpose of this book is not to become abstrusely metaphysical, but we can perhaps get an idea of duration in the concept of all potentiality. Everything exists there at once ready to be unfolded in time. A similar idea is that of dimensionless space; it is the realm of potentialities and noumena. When materials and things become actualised they take up room; they occupy the "physical" space of their dimensioned shape. Gas, vapours, radiations occupy apparently empty physical space even when there is nothing else apparent. The upper three planes of being, i.e., seven, six, and five are nondimensional, nonspatial, but the lower four, having to do with manifest existence, are in a degree spatial, and anything in them has location with respect to our earth.

There are some interesting corollaries to these statements. For example, the "spooks" of the Indians in Central Park were attached to that locality.


Another example is that because thought is dimensionless, it takes no time for a thought to be projected to a "receiver" because it has no "distance" to travel at its level. The transference is instantaneous; no question of velocity is involved, and the inverse square law does not apply as far as the strength of the signal received is concerned. Distance does not matter. (Isis. I, p. 144)

Another point we should examine before closing this chapter has to do with some statements made about elementaries. They have been referred to as evil and as vampirizing the living. This might appear unjustified. Why should the combination of our fourth and fifth Principles in itself be evil? H.P.B. does say it is not; it is "colourless" in itself. But it becomes coloured by what we put into it, which consists of our animalistic thoughts, urges, appetites, imaginings, and so on. When our fourth Principle becomes purified by the living of a clean life, with the eradication of our baser thoughts, we are told that as far as the after-life is concerned the Kama-rupa becomes a "mere cypher." It could then not be effective as an elementary.


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