From the book of Applied Magic by Dion Fortune
Unless we realize the difference between the Cosmos and the Universe, we shall never achieve a true understanding of esoteric philosophy. This point is an exceedingly important one, for it marks the distinction between those who know how to interpret the symbol systems and those who do not. The concept is not an easy one to grasp, but we will try to convey it as simply as possible, for many important practical points arise out of it.
For all practical purposes our solar system is a closed unit. The influences received by it from the other heavenly bodies change, if they change at all, in such vast cycles of time, that we are justified in considering them as constant so far as we are concerned. This solar system arose from a nebula, the planets being thrown off by the sun, and in their own throwing off their attendant moons. We may therefore say, as regards our universe, 'In the beginning there was a nebula!' But when we have said that, we have not disposed of the problem.
Whence came the original nebula? That it was condensed out of the diffused matter of space, may be the answer to that question. But still we have not got to the beginning. Whence did the matter of space, whatever that may be, derive the inherent characteristics which came out in the process of its evolution? In fact, the very word evolution implies involution. Nothing can be unfolded which was not previously infolded. There must have been a phase of existence which preceded the unfolding of evolution, for evolution is not a continuous creation of something out of nothing but a coming into manifestation of latencies.
We solve this problem, for the purposes of any reasoning we may want to do, by positing the Great Unmanifest, the Root of All Being, which is really the metaphysical equivalent of X, the unknown quantity. In algebra, X enables calculations to be made with known quantities, but at the end we are none the wiser concerning its own nature than we were when we started. In metaphysics whatever we do not understand, we refer to this X, which is not only the Great Unmanifest, but also the Great Unknown. The Unknown, however, is a relative term, and esotericists, or for the matter of that, evolutionists also, would not agree with Herbert Spencer that the Great Unknown is also the Great Unknowable.
With the extension of human consciousness, either in the course of evolutionary development or by intensive methods, a great deal can become known which was hitherto unknown. In fact a great deal is known to the scientist, the philosopher, the metaphysician, that is a part of the Great Unknown so far as the average man is conecerned; and much is known to the average man which is also part of the Great Unknown to a young child.
The Great Unknown, therefore, is not a thing in itself, but rather a relationship that exists, or perhaps more accurately, does not exist, between the Self and certain aspects of the Not-self. The Great Unmanifest cannot be the Great Non-Existent. The Non-Existent just isn’t, and that is all there is to be said about it. But the Great Unmanifest very much is, and to call it the Root of All Being is a very good description. It is only unmanifest so far as we are concerned, because we have not got, at our present state of evolution at any rate, any faculties or sense by means of which we are able to contact it.
If an extension of consciousness takes place, however, by means of which we become conscious of an aspect of the Root of All Being which had hitherto been unperceived by us, then for us it is no longer Unmanifest, but has become Manifest. Might we say, then, that manifestation takes place by means of realization? The actualities, which are the underlying noumenal essences of all that exists, never become manifest in that they become objects of sensory experience. But are our apprehensions limited to sensory experience? The psychologist says, yes. The esotericist says, no.
No sensory experiences enabled Darwin to apprehend the law of evolution. His five senses may have enabled him to observe the innumerable phenomena on which his ultimate deduction was based, but it was a faculty quite distinct from sensory consciousness by means of which he finally grasped the nature of the underlying cohesion between the innumerable separate units which had passed under his observation in the course of his researches.
Is a formula which resumes a number of objective facts any less a reality than the facts themselves? Does its reality consist in the marks which as figures and letters represent it upon paper? Is it not a thing in itself upon its own plane? We need to disabuse our minds of the idea that only dense matter is real. There are many forms of energy which are not physical. Behind the physical reality there is a psychic reality, and behind the psychic reality there is spiritual reality.
To think in terms of matter only is a bad mental habit and gives a totally false outlook upon existence The psychic reality we may define by saying that it consists of the sum-total of the realizations, however, dim, that consciousness, however rudimentary, has achieved. Of the spiritual reality, we had best limit ourselves to saying that it consists of the as yet unapprehended Great Unmanifest, and that in it is the Root of All Being. And even when a psychic reality is formed through realization, the spiritual reality is not done away with, but remains as the underlying essence which gives validity to the whole.
For there may be psychic realizations which are not realities, but unrealities, because inadequate or inaccurate, and in them we may look for the root of Positive Evil. It may well be asked, what practical consequences can there be for us in the work-a-day world as consequence of these fine-spun metaphysical subtleties? When we are bearing the burden and heat of the day, what does it matter to us whether there is a psychic reality as distinguished from the thing-in-itself, the spiritual reality?
And would it ease our burden did we know? It is upon such considerations as these that the whole structure of the practical application of mind-power rests; it is in the field of psychic reality that the reasonings and affirmations of Christian Science and the New Thought movement in general find their scope and derive their power. It is in the field of psychic reality that the adept and the magician work by means of the trained mind, for the plane of psychic reality is susceptible to mental manipulation.
The Inhabitants of the Unseen
Whoever contacts the invisible world, whether by means of his own psychism or by employing the psychism of another as a channel of evocation, has need of some system of classification in order that he may be able to understand the varied phenomena with which he will meet. Not all of them are due to the spirits of the departed; there are other denizens of the invisible world than those who have once had human form.
Nor are all the phenomena due to the subconscious mind entirely subjective. Confusion arises when that which should be assigned to one division is allocated to another. It can be clearly shown that the explanation which is offered does not account for the facts. Nevertheless, the facts are not disposed of by showing the explanation to be fallacious. A correct classification would yield an explanation which can stand up to any impartial investigation and be justified of its wisdom.
The classification which it is proposed to employ in these pages is drawn largely from the traditional occult sources, and it is believed that it will throw light on certain experiences met with by psychic research workers. It is offered in a spirit of co-operation, as independent testimony to a common experience. I. The Souls of the Departed Of all the inhabitants of the invisible worlds, the ones with which it is easiest for us to get into touch are the souk of human beings who have shed their outer garment of flesh, either temporarily or permanently Anyone who is familiar with spiritualistic or esoteric thought soon becomes habituated to the idea that a man is not changed by death.
The personality remains, it is only the body that is gone. The esotericist, in his concept of the nature of departed souls, distinguishes between those who are going through the inter-natal phase, that is to say, who are living in the non-physical worlds between incarnations, and those who will not incarnate again. There is a great difference in capacity and outlook between these two types of souls, and many of the issues at present outstanding between spiritualism and occultism are undoubtedly due to a failure to recognize this fact.
The occultist does not maintain that existence is an eternal sequence of birth and death, but that at a certain phase of evolution the soul enters upon a series of material lives, and through the development made during these lives, it finally outgrows the mundane phase of evolution, becoming more and more spiritualized towards the end of this period, until finally it wins its freedom from matter and reincarnates no more continuing its existence as a disembodied spirit with a human mind.
Mentality, the occultist maintains, can only be obtained through incarnation in human form. Those beings who have not undergone this experience have not got mentality as we understand it, with certain exceptions which we will consider later. For the most part, it is the souls of the living dead who are contacted in the seance-room. Liberated souls go on to their own place and are not so easily reached. Only those return within range of the earth-sphere who have some business there.
The discussion of this point would open up a vast field of interest which we cannot deal with at the moment. It must suffice to say that, as is well known to all workers in psychic research, there are souls of a higher type than those commonly encountered, who are concerned with the evolution of humanity and the training of those who are willing to cooperate with them in their work. We may say, then, that the souls of the departed may be divided into three types: the souls of the living dead, who will return again to the earth-life; liberated souls who have outgrown earthlife and have gone on to another sphere of existence; and the liberated souls who, having gone on, return again to the earth-sphere because they have work to do therein.
A recognition of these three types of departed souls will serve to explain many of the discrepancies we encounter between the statements of spiritualists and occultists. The occultist aims chiefly at getting into touch with the liberated souls for the purposes of specific work in which both he and they are concerned; for the most part, he leaves the souls of the living dead severely alone. Personally, I am of the opinion that he is mistaken in so doing. It is quite true that they can be of little assistance to him in his chosen work, but the normal companionship of the living with the dead robs death of most of its terrors and is steadily building a bridge between those who remain and those who have passed over.
The occultist should certainly not invite the co-operation of the living dead as he would that of the liberated souls, for they have their own work to do; nor can he place as much reliance on their knowledge and insight as on that of those who are freed from the wheel of birth and death; neither has he any right to try to use them as he would Elemental spirits in the course of his experiments. Admitting these qualifications, however, there seems no reason why the occultist should not share in the interchange of amenities which is continually taking place across the borderline. After all, death is one of the processes of life, and the dead are very much alive and quite normal.
II. Projections of the Living
The appearance of a simulacrum of a human being at the point of death is exceedingly common, and innumerable well-attested instances exist of its occurrence. It is not so well known, however, that it is possible for the simulacrum, or astro-etheric form, to be projected voluntarily by the trained occultist.
Such projections, in proportion to the hosts of disembodied souls encountered when the threshold is crossed, are exceedingly rare; nevertheless they occur, and may be met with, therefore they must be included in any classification which aims at being comprehensive. Usually such a projected soul appears to be entirely preoccupied with its own affairs and in a state of absorption which causes it to appear to ignore its surroundings. As a matter of fact, it most frequently happens that the disembodied spirit has its work cut out to maintain consciousness at all on the higher planes, and its self-absorption is that of the beginner on a bicycle.
Occasionally communication may be established between such a projected etheric body and a group of experimenters, and very interesting results are obtained; but unless there is sufficient materialization to render the simulacrum visible to the non-psychic, the experiment will partake rather of the nature of telepathy grafted upon mediumship than of a true projection of the astro-etheric form. Such visitants are neither angels nor devils but ’human, all too human!
III. The Angelic Hierarchies
The average Protestant has a very dim notion concerning the angelic hierarchies, the great hosts of beings of another evolution than ours, though children of the same Heavenly Father. The Qabalah, however, is explicit on this point, and classifies them into ten archangels and ten orders of angelic beings. Buddhist, Hindu and Mohammedan theology are equally explicit.
We may therefore reckon that in this agreement of witnesses there is surety of testimony, and it may serve our purpose best to take for our guide that system from which Christianity took its rise—mystic Judaism. We will not go into the elaborate classifications employed by the Jewish rabbis, which have their importance for purposes of magic but are not germane to our present issue. It is enough that we realize that there are divinely created beings of varying degrees of greatness, from the mighty archangel whom St John the Divine saw standing in the sun, down to the nameless heavenly messengers who have from time to time visited mankind.
Beyond the spheres to which are assigned the disembodied spirits of humanity dwell these heavenly beings, and in some high ranges of spiritual light the psychic or medium sometimes touches them. In the Vale Owen scripts there is much concerning them that is of great interest. It is said by the rabbis that these beings are perfect, each after their kind; but they do not evolve and it is noticeable that they are non-intellectual. One might almost call them divine robots, each strictly conditioned by its own nature perfectly to fulfil the office for which it was created; free from all struggle and inner conflict, but changeless, and therefore unevolving. No angel, it is held, ever goes outside his own sphere of activity.
The angel who has ’healing in his wings’ cannot bestow vision, nor the bestower of visions serve as the strong guard against the powers of darkness. Esotericists make a fundamental distinction between angels and the souls of men. They say that the Divine Sparks, which are the nuclei of the souls of men, proceed from the noumenal cosmos, from the same plane whereon the Solar Logos has His being. They are therefore, of the same innermost nature as the Godhead. Angels, on the other hand, are created by the Solar Logos as the first of His created beings.
They neither fall into generation, nor rise by regeneration, but remain in changeless but unevolving perfection till the end of the epoch. The functions of the angels are diverse, and cannot be entered upon here in detail. They are, each according to his office and rank, God’s messengers in things of the spirit, but they have no direct contact with dense matter. That office is performed by another order of beings altogether, the Elementals, who differ in origin and inmost nature from both angels and men.
Much confusion of thought exists concerning the orders of beings known as Elementals. They are sometimes confused with the spirits of men. Undoubtedly many happenings attributed to spirits are to be assigned to the activities of these other orders of beings. Again, they are not to be confused with the evil demons, or, to give them the Qabalistic name, the Qliphoth. Elementals are the thought-forms generated by co-ordinated systems of reactions that have become stereotyped by constant and unchanging repetition.
Some explanation is necessary to make this concept clear, and we shall understand it best if we survey the means by which elementals come into being. Each epoch of evolution is constituted by the outgoing and return of a livewave of living souls. These are referred to in esoteric terminology as the Lords of Flame, of Form, and of Mind. The present evolution will become the Lords of Humanity. Each life-wave develops its characteristic contribution to evolution.
When the Divine Sparks which constituted the nuclei of the evolving souls of each evolution are withdrawn back up the planes and reabsorbed into the Kingdom of God, their work remains behind them in that which they have builded, whether it be the chemical elements evolved by the Lords of Flame, or the reactions of consciousness evolved by the Lords of Mind. Humanity, it is held, is evolving the power of co-ordinated consciousness, and the Lords of Humanity therefore hold the same relationship to the Lords of Mind that the Lords of Flame hold to the Lords of Form.
These beings, however, of the three earlier life-waves, have passed out of range of the life of our earth, each group to its appropriate plane, and the Lords of Humanity are still absorbed in the task of building and are not yet, save those few who have become Masters, escaped from the bondage of the material in which they work. Consequendy, it is but rarely that any psychic save the higher grades of adept ever contacts any of these beings. They have left behind them, however, as has already been noted, the forms which they built up in the course of their evolution.
These forms, as psychics teach, actually consist of co-ordinated systems of magnetic stresses. Whenever any movement takes place an electric current is set up, and if the series of co-ordinated movements is repeated many times, these currents tend to make adjustments among themselves and become co-ordinated on their own account, quite independently of the physical forms whose activities gave rise to them. It is out of these co-ordinators that the Elementals are evolved.
We cannot go more deeply into this most interesting and intricate subject in the present pages. It is a matter for a separate study. Enough has been said, however, to indicate that although the ultimate product of the evolution of the angelic, the human, and the Elemental kingdom is to produce consciousness and intelligence, the origin of the three types of beings is entirely different, and so also is their destiny. The Divine Sparks are the emanations of the Great Unmanifest, Ain Soph Aur, in the terminology of the Qabalists; the angels are the creations of the Solar Logos, and the Elementals are ’the creations of the created’, that is to say, they are developed out of the activities of the material universe.
Of the Elementals thus evolved there are many types. Firstly, the four great divisions of the Elemental spirits of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, known respectively to the Alchemists as Gnomes, Sylphs, Salamanders, and Undines. These really represent four types of activity arising out of four types of relationship. In solids (the Element of earth), the molecules adhere together. In liquids (the Element of water), the molecules are free-moving In gases (the Element of air), they repel each other and therefore diffuse to their uttermost limits. And in the fire the essential property of its activity is to change plane or transmute. The four kingdoms of primary Elementals, under their angelic kings represent the co-ordinated, purposive and intelligent action of these four properties of matter—the mind-side of the material phenomena, to be precise. This fact is well known to occultists, and they employ the mind-side of matter in their magical work.
Consequently many of these Elemental systems of reactions have, as it were, been domesticated by adepts. Elementals thus domesticated become imbued with consciousness of a human type. These developed (or initiated) Elementals are sometimes met with by psychics. We are now trenching upon some of the most secret aspects of occultism, and not a great deal can be said; and even if it were said little of it would be understood save by those who were already well versed in esoteric science.
From the book of Applied Magic by Dion Fortune