KABALISTIC VIEWS OF "SPIRITS"
[From The Religio-Philosophical Journal, Jan. 26th, 1878.]
I MUST beg you
to again allow me a little space for the further elucidation of a very important
questionthat of the "Elementals" "and the "Elementaries."
It is a misfortune that our European languages do not contain a nomenclature
expressive of the various grades and conditions of spiritual beings. But
surely I cannot be blamed for either the above linguistic deficiency, or
because some people do not choose, or are unable, to understand my meaning!
I cannot too often repeat that in this matter I claim no originality. My
teachings are but the substance of what many Kabalists have said before
me, which to-day I mean to prove, with your kind permission.
I am accused (1) of "turning somersaults" and jumping from
one idea to another. The defendant pleadsnot guilty. (2) Of coining
not only words but Philosophies out of the depths of my consciousness. Defendant
enters the same plea. (3) Of having repeatedly asserted that "intelligent
Spirits other than those who have passed through an earth experience in
a human body were concerned in the manifestations known as the phenomena
of Spiritualism." True, and defendant repeats the assertion. (4) Of
having advanced, in my bold and unwarranted theories, "beyond the great
Éliphas Lévi himself." Indeed? Were I to go even as far
as he (see his Science des Esprits), I would deny that a single
so-called spiritual manifestation is more than hallucination, produced by
soulless Elementals, whom he calls "Elementaries" (see Rituel
de la Haute Magie).
I am asked: "What proof is there of the existence of the Elementals?"
In my turn I will enquire: "What proof is there of diakkas,
guides, bands and controls?" And
yet these terms are all current among Spiritualists. The unanimous testimony
of innumerable observers and competent experimenters furnishes the proof.
If Spiritualists cannot, or will not, go to those countries where they are
living and these proofs are accessible, they, at least, have no right to
give the lie direct to those who have seen both the Adepts and the proofs.
My witnesses are living men teaching and exemplifying the Philosophy of
hoary ages; theirs, these very "guides" and "controls,"
who up to the present time are at best hypothetical, and whose assertions
have been repeatedly found, by Spiritualists themselves, contradictory and
If my present critics insist that since the discussion of this matter
began, a disembodied soul has never been described as an "Elementary,"
I merely point to the number of the London Spiritualist for Feb.
18th, 1876, published nearly two years ago, in which a correspondent, who
has certainly studied the Occult Sciences, 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? They had existence; they
never attained to being.
Note two things: that human Elementaries are recognized as existing,
apart from the Gnomes, Sylphs, Undines and Salamandersbeings purely
elemental; and that annihilation of the soul is regarded as potential.
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 soulits grosser portion;
combined with the most subtle fluids, it forms the sidereal [astral, or
ethereal] phantomthe inner man.
And Éliphas Lévi:
The Astral Light is saturated with elementary 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 (Rituel de la Haute Magie, vol. ii. chapter on the "Conjuration
of the Four Classes of Elementary").
"Yes, yes," he remarks (op. cit., vol. i. p.
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. Of a third class, out of hundreds that the
Eastern philosophers and Kabalists are acquainted with, Éliphas Lévi,
discussing spiritistic phenomena, says:
They are neither the souls of the damned nor guilty; the elementary
spirits are like children, curious and harmless, and torment people in
proportion as attention is paid to them.
These he regards as the sole agents in all the meaningless and useless
physical phenomena at séances. Such phenomena will
be produced unless they be dominated "by wills more powerful than their
own." Such a will may be that of a living Adept, or, as there are none
such at Western spiritual séances, these ready agents are
at the disposal of every strong, vicious, earth-bound, human Elementary
who has been attracted to the place. By such they can be used in combination
with the astral emanations of the circle and medium, as stuff out of which
to make materialized Spirits.
So little does Lévi concede the possibility of Spirit-return in
objective form, that he says:
The good deceased come back in our dreams; the state of mediumism is
an extension of dream, it is somnambulism in all its variety and ecstasies.
Fathom the phenomenon of sleep and you will understand the phenomena of
According to one of the great dogmas of the Kabalah, the soul despoils
itself in order to ascend, and thus would have to re-clothe itself in matter
to descend. There is but one way for a spirit already liberated to manifest
himself objectively on earth; he must get back into his body and resurrect.
This is quite another thing from hiding under a table or a hat. Necromancy,
or the evocation of materialized spirits, is horrible. It constitutes a
crime against Nature. We have admitted in our former works the possibility
of vampirism, and even undertaken to explain it. The phenomena now actually
occurring in America and Europe unquestionably belong to this fearful malady.
The mediums do not, it is true, eat the flesh of corpses [like one Sergeant
Bertrand]; but they breathe in throughout their whole nervous organism
the phosphoric emanations of putrefied corpses, or spectral light. They
are not vampires, but they evoke vampires; for this reason, they are nearly
all debilitated and sick (Science des Esprits, p. 258).
Henry Kunrath was a most learned Kabalist, and the greatest authority
among mediæval Occultists. He gives, in one of the clavicles of his
Amphitheatrum Sapientiæ Æternæ, illustrative engravings
of the four great classes of elementary Spirits, as they presented themselves
during an evocation of ceremonial Magic, before the eyes of the Magus, when,
after passing the threshold, he lifted the "Veil of Isis." In
describing them, Kunrath corroborates Éliphas Lévi. He tells
us they are disembodied, vicious men, who have parted with their divine
Spirits and become Elementaries. They are so termed, because attracted by
the earthly atmosphere and surrounded by the earths elements. Here
Kunrath applies the term " Elementary" to doomed human souls,
while Lévi uses it, as we have seen, to designate another class of
the same great familyGnomes, Sylphs, Undines, etc.sub-human
I have before me a manuscript, intended originally for publication, but
withheld for various reasons. The author signs himself "Zeus,"
and is a Kabalist of more than twenty-five years standing. This experienced
Occultist, a zealous devotee of Kunrath, expounding the doctrine of the
latter, also says that the Kabalists divided the Spirits of the elements
into four classes, corresponding to the four temperaments in man.
It is charged against me as a heinous offence that I aver that some men
lose their souls and are annihilated. But this last-named authority, "Zeus,"
is equally culpable, for he says:
They [the Kabalists] taught that mans spirit descended from the
great ocean of spirit, and is, therefore, per se, pure and divine,
but its soul or capsule, through the [allegorical] fall of Adam, became
contaminated with the world of darkness, or the world of Satan [evil],
of which it must be purified, before it could ascend again to celestial
happiness. Suppose a drop of water enclosed within a capsule remains whole,
the drop of water remains isolated; break the envelope, and the drop becomes
a part of the ocean, its individual existence has ceased. So it is with
the spirit. So long as its ray is enclosed in its plastic mediator or soul,
it has an individual existence. Destroy this capsule, the astral man then
becomes an Elementary; this destruction may occur from the consequences
of sin, in the most depraved and vicious, and the spirit returns back to
its original abodethe individualization of man has ceased. . . .
This militates v. with the idea of progression that Spiritualists generally
entertain. If they understood the Law of Harmony, they would see their
error. It is only by this Law that individual life can be sustained; and
the farther we deviate from harmony the more difficult it is to regain
To return to Lévi, he remarks (La Haute Magie, vol. i.
When we die, attraction interior light [the soul] ascends agreeably
to the attraction of its star [the spirit], but it must first of all get
rid of the coils of the serpent [earthly evilsin], that is to say,
of the unpurified Astral Light which surrounds and holds it captive, unless,
by the force of Will, it frees and elevates itself. This immersion of the
living soul in the dead light [the emanations of everything that is evil,
which pollute the earths magnetic atmosphere, as the exhalation of
a swamp does the air] is a dreadful torture; the soul freezes and burns
therein at the same time.
The Kabalists represent Adam as the Tree of Life, of which the trunk
is Humanity; the various races, the branches; and individual men, the leaves.
Every leaf has its individual life, and is fed by the one sap; but it can
live only through the branch, as the branch itself draws its life through
the trunk. Says the Kabalah:
The wicked are the dead leaves and the dead bark of the tree. They fall,
die, are corrupted and changed into manure, which returns to the tree through
My friend, Miss Emily Kislingbury, of London, secretary of the British
National Association of Spiritualists, who is honoured, trusted and beloved
by all who know her, sends me a spirit-communication obtained, in April,
1877, through a young lady, who is one of the purest and most truthful of
her sex. The following extracts are singularly à propos to
the subject under discussion.
Friend, you are right. Keep our Spiritualism pure and high, for there
are those who would abase its uses. But it is because they know not the
power of Spiritualism. It is true, in a sense, that the spirit can overcome
the flesh, but there are those to whom the fleshly life is dearer than
the life of the spirit; they tread on dangerous ground. For the flesh may
so outgrow the spirit, as to withdraw from it all spirituality, and man
becomes as a beast of the field, with no saving power left. These are they
whom the church has termed "reprobate," eternally lost, but they
suffer not, as the church has taught, in conscious hells. They merely die,
and are not; their light goes out, and has no conscious being. [Question]:
But is this not annihilation? [Answer]: It amounts to annihilation; they
lose their individual entities, and return to the great reservoir of spiritunconscious
Finally, I am asked: "Who are the trained Seers?" They are
those, I answer, who have been trained from their childhood, in the Pagodas,
to use their spiritual sight; those whose accumulated testimony has not
varied for thousands of years as to the fundamental facts of Eastern Philosophy;
the testimony of each generation corroborating that of each preceding one.
Are these to be trusted more, or less, than the communications of "bands"each
of whom contradicts the other as completely as the various religious sects,
which are ready to cut each others throatsand of mediums, even
the best of whom are ignorant of their own nature, and unsubjected to the
wise direction and restraint of an Adept in Psychological Science?
No comprehensive idea of Nature can be obtained except by applying the
Law of Harmony and analogy in the spiritual as well as in the physical world.
"As above, so below," is the old Hermetic axiom. If Spiritualists
would apply this to the subject of their own researches they would see the
philosophical necessity of there being in the world of Spirit, as well as
the world of Matter, a law of the survival of the fittest.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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