Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered December 7, 1930)
CONTENTS: Do you believe in ghosts? — Turning back to our ancestors. — Subordination to cosmic law. — The human race in past and future. — Worlds exterior and interior. — Endless chain of hierarchies. — Man an expression of "mind." — Endless variety in the universe. — An elemental defined. — The life within the atom. — Names fairies go by. — Teachings of medieval mystics. — Forms of elementals; their destructive powers; their relation to disease; their link with human beings. — Fairies photographed. — The habiliments of fairies. — Universal belief in invisible entities. — Where do elementals live? Are they friendly or hostile to us? Can and do they communicate with men? — Folklore based on truth. — Transformism not accepted. — Power to carve our own destiny.
"Pat, do you believe in ghosts?"
"No, Sor; but I hate like Hell to be where they are!"
Pray excuse the apparent profanity in this quaint answer, friends, but Pat's state of mind is exactly like that of so many other people who, when you ask them: "Do you believe that there are other living beings in the universe besides men, beings who have a certain amount of consciousness and intelligence, and who in short are wholly animate entities?" — say: "No, of course I don't believe in those old superstitions." But on a dark night, when the storm gods are riding on the wings of the wind or, again, when everything is so still that even the creaking of the woodwork — then perhaps their answer might be changed in their own mind to mean: "No, I don't believe in elementals or sprites or fairies, but I hate to be where they are!" So, when I ask: "Do you believe that there are other entities in the universe who have animation, some degree of intelligence, some degree of willpower?" — the average man of today probably will say: "No! Really, I don't know. Science has not proved such a fact." Eh? But when the same man thinks in the quiet of the nighttime, when he has a chance to reflect, then he begins to wonder a little whether after all he and other men and the beasts are the only animate and intelligent or quasi-intelligent entities living in boundless infinitude.
Now, if human beings were the only animate and self-conscious entities in the universe, how could we account for that fact? Why should this dust speck in the illimitable fields of the spaces of space be the only spot where animate creatures exist? Whence comes the intelligence which manifests itself in man? Whence comes the willpower of which he is an exponent? Whence come the passions, good and bad, which he so often shows — passions of which he, alas, rarely is the master, but of which he should always be the master, yet of which he too often is the slave? Why should this one spot of boundless infinitude, this one physical plane of ours, possess such entities as exist nowhere else? Explain that wonder to me, you who deny.
It seems to me that this magnification of our earth as the only habitat of intelligent entities is but the same state of mind of our ancestors of some hundred years ago, who thought that the earth was the center of the universe, and all the rest of the universe was created by god for man's sole delectation and instruction. Isn't it obvious that what is in one spot must exist either active or negative, everywhere; otherwise how comes it that that one spot is the inexplicable exception?
Don't fall into the error of thinking that you as men are essentially different entities from the universe, your parent. You are inseparable parts of the universe; out of it you cannot go; you belong to it; you are of its blood — blood of its blood, bone of its bone, life of its life — and everything that is in you is, de facto, in the whole of which you as men are inseparable parts. Pause in thought over this and then you will see why the critical brain-mind, with its egoistic assumptions and narrow and imperfect vision is so apt to answer like Pat, and say: "No, Sor!" But then the intuition comes: "But I hate like everything to be where they are!", thus constituting a tacit acknowledgment of the existence of invisible entities.
It is the teaching of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, today called theosophy, that mankind manifests merely as one race, as one host, of animate entities, what the universe contains in the grand. Even the atoms of the human body are cosmic atoms; and you will find the same atoms in the most distant star. The atoms of man's mind are likewise cosmic atoms — and these atoms are his thoughts, if you like; and you will also see intelligence in the majestic order, in the discipline, and in the subordination to cosmic law, of the celestial bodies.
Man is not an exception in the universe in any respect whatsoever. He merely exemplifies as one race what is everywhere. There are races far higher than we humans are — angelic races, godlike races on other celestial globes, and there are also other beings far inferior to men. Man is merely man because he is passing through this particular stage of his own long evolutionary pilgrimage. That is why he is man. He is man because he has reached the man stage; but he has not always been man.
In past times the human race was an elemental race, and existed in the evolutionary stage represented by the beings whom theosophists call elementals. In the aeons of the far distant future we shall be gods; for a god is even now within each one of us — in the core of the core of each one of us, in the heart of the heart of each one of us. This divine entity shows divine powers, which express themselves feebly as yet through our imperfect human vehicle.
What are these divine powers? Will, choice, intelligence, constructive and creative ability, self-control, love, forgiveness, compassion, pity, the yearning for brotherhood, for peace, for happiness for all. These are divine instincts and qualities; and they spring forth from this core of the core within each one of us, in the heart of the heart of us.
I tell you that the man or woman is dead — dead within, though living in the body it may be — who does not sense these truths instinctively, intuitively — instinctively and intuitively — and thus recognize the verity of them. Show me why you as men have these wondrous faculties and powers, and show me why no other race of animate beings in boundless space may have them. You cannot do this. The mere fact that men have these faculties and powers, proves their existence elsewhere. Men are no exceptions in nature. Deny it, and you are faced with a problem that you cannot solve. Admit it, and all your being answers in glad response — your logical faculty, your intellectual power: "It is so!"
It is our theosophical teaching that the spaces of boundless space, not only our exterior, physical universe, but all the interior worlds — and these latter are by far the greater part of space: the interior, the invisible, but only invisible because our imperfectly evolved human sense apparatus does not report the existence of these interior worlds to us — all these interior worlds are filled full with animate beings, just as our earth is.
Not only men on earth, but the beasts and even the vegetation, show marvelous instinctive intelligence, each class after its kind, each class after its race, each after its family. If every animate entity was exactly like every other animate entity in boundless space, then there would be a drab uniformity everywhere. But you see such uniformity nowhere. Even among men you see differences in facility, differences in development — great men, inferior men (not essentially inferior, but in development), men intermediate who are the average men. And above us, high above us, there are the gods. These gods were men in some far past manvantara, or cosmic life period, just as we men of the present day in future cosmic life periods shall have evolved into becoming gods, even as now we are men from having evolved forth out of the elemental stages.
All nature, all the universe, boundless infinitude, looked at in this way we recognize to be one beginningless and endless and frontierless stream of evolving entities coming out from the invisible on the one hand as elemental entities, descending into the material spheres as life-atoms, passing a stage of existence in every one of the inns of life as they move along with this advancing evolutionary current: minerals, plants, beasts, men, super-men or what the Greeks called heroes, lower gods, higher gods, super-gods, and so on, forever.
Now, pause: either all things are at an absolute standstill throughout infinity, or movement, which means change, which means growth, which means progress, exists. And the latter is the fact; for we move, we change, we grow, we evolve; and if we do this, as we most certainly do, you must admit the same process everywhere, otherwise the same old problem confronts you: What is man? Why should he be the sole exception in boundless infinitude? Reason! Think! Free your soul! Give to it the wings with which it was born!
Even our great scientists today, the most advanced among them, are now talking about 'mind' and consciousness as being the fundamental of the universe. Now, what does that mean? Just what I have told you: it means that men are expressions of this mind, of this consciousness; and we men are not the only such expressions. This cosmic mind governs the movements of every molecule of physical substance. Just as we human beings spring forth from this cosmic mind as our fountainhead, as our source, so do the gods. But all everywhere is evolving. And every entity — although swimming, immersed as it were, in this cosmic life, in this cosmic mind — every entity is itself an individual and is moving, is growing, is changing, is evolving. If man does not monopolize all the intelligence in the universe, if he is not the sole exponent of willpower and of love and of all the other noble faculties in the human constitution, then these same faculties and powers are elsewhere and everywhere; because if elsewhere, they are logically everywhere; for the universe brought them all forth, and what the part contains the whole is the source of. Think it out.
Therefore, the gods exist because men exist; men exist because the gods exist; the elemental beings exist because men and gods exist; we and the gods exist because the elemental beings exist. It all comes back to the same thought: the one instance proves all the others and all the others prove the one. Life is everywhere, because life is motion, movement, change, which is evolution, growth. And where life is, is intelligence; where life is, is willpower. But, and here mark you well, my Brothers, not always existing in equal degrees. This is obvious! There are highly evolved men, men poorly evolved, and then the vast range of men occupying the intermediate stages. So is it also in the incomputable hosts of beings living in boundless space.
Therefore, the universe is filled full with gods; it is filled full with vast hierarchies, hosts, multitudes, armies — call their aggregates what you like — of other sentient, animate, thinking, conscious, quasi-conscious, entities, beings, creatures — we won't quibble about names. They exist in all grades, from the loftiest that the mightiest human imagination can conceive of and beyond, down to the lowest that human thought can fathom, and lower still. This means that the power to use one's will exists in degree, in all-various degrees; it means that intelligence in the universe manifests itself in evolutionary degrees or stages, some low, some higher, some higher still. Therefore the universe is filled, not only with gods, but with beings between the gods on the one hand and the elemental beings on the other hand.
Now, what shall we call this incomputably vast range of consciousnesses? What name or names shall we give to them? Call them what you like. Briefly, theosophists speak of them as gods, demi-gods, heroes, men, creatures lower than men, and the elementals. Elementals is simply a name given, as a generalizing term for purposes of convenient expression, to all beings below the minerals. Nevertheless, the minerals themselves are expressions of one family or host or hierarchy of elemental beings. The vegetable kingdom likewise manifests merely one family or host of elemental beings happening to be in the vegetable phase of their evolution on this earth. Just so likewise as regards the beasts. The beasts are highly evolved elemental beings, relatively speaking.
And, as I have already told you, men in far distant aeons of the cosmic past were elemental beings also. We have evolved from that stage into becoming men, expressing with more or less ease, mostly very feebly, alas! but still expressing somewhat, the innate divine powers and faculties locked up in the core of the core of each one of us. And this core of the core of each one of us is our own inner god. Christians of a mystical turn of mind today speak of this inner god as the immanent Christ; the Buddhists speak of it as the inner Buddha. What matters the name?
Every race of men on earth has believed in these hosts of entities — some visible, like men, like the beasts, like the animate plants; and anyone who denies that a plant has a certain degree of animation needs to study the subject. Even the minerals are alive and filled with life, for they are in constant movement.
Consider, if you like, what modern science tells about the chemical composition of every atomic entity: that an atom is composed of two kinds of electrical bodies, one existing at the heart of it, which is called the atomic sun, and which is the protonic nucleus of a positive electrical character; and around this atomic sun whirl with vertiginous speed the electronic particles of a negative electrical character; and it is this speeding, this manifestation of electrical life, which holds the atoms together so strongly that no power that man has been able to put to the work has succeeded as yet in wrenching an atom asunder. All that our modern physical chemists can do is to apply, as it were, a gentle pressure at appropriate moments and to appropriate substances, and thus take advantage of what nature herself is doing.
Where movement is, there is always life. See how symmetrical and beautiful these movements in the atom are! Consider how wonderful and strangely symmetrical they are! Then raise your eyes to the violet dome of night; watch the celestial bodies in their movements around the sun; gaze through a telescope or study the photographs that that telescope produces, and see the wonderful panorama existing in cosmic space! It all inspires reverence and awe and wonder. The mere fact that man can feel these things and cognize them shows that he instinctively recognizes his identity with the universe of which he is an inseparable part. He recognizes that his own life is there in cosmic space as well as here; he senses his fundamental oneness with all that is.
Do you believe in fairies? Do you believe in sprites? Do you believe in goblins and hobgoblins? And there are many other kinds of these entities, too. Now, I don't say that I do believe in them. I am going to tell you what I myself think about them after a bit. I am going to make a few general observations first. In various countries and at various times, names have been given to certain classes of these invisible entities — entities who are low in the evolutionary scale of life. They are not at all high in evolutionary development. But they indeed exist. I have jotted down the names of some of them, and I will read these names to you: Fairies, Sprites, Hobgoblins, Elves, Brownies, Pixies, Nixies, Leprechauns, Trolls, Kobolds, Boggarts, Barguests — and the 'Little People,' generally speaking. The ancient Greeks had their Naiads, the elemental beings who haunted the fountains and springs and the rivers; the Oreads, who haunted the hills and the mountains; the Limniads, who haunted the ponds and lakes; the Hamadryads, who lived and died with their native trees, which trees expressed their life; the Dryads, a general name for the invisible lives of the trees of the forests; and the Meliads of the fruit trees and the gardens; and there were others.
In the European Middle Ages the Philosophers of Fire, so called, and the so-called Rosicrucians, taught that these elemental beings were of four general kinds. These men had to be very careful in the language that they used, because the authorities had a heavy hand in those days. They 'knew it all,' you know. However, these medieval mystics taught that these elemental beings were of four general kinds: those frequenting the element of fire (a technical term which did not mean exactly the fire that we know), those frequenting the element air (also a technical term), and these were the salamanders and sylphs respectively of fire and air; those unquiet, unsteady, elemental beings who, they said, frequented the waters, and whom they called the undines; and then the gnomes of the earth.
The idea here was that the universe, inner and outer, visible and invisible, was composed of a number of planes, so to say, or worlds or spheres, from the spiritual to the physical — seven in all; and they gave these names, these four names, fire, air, water, and earth, to the elemental spheres which were the least evolved, the grossest: the gnomes of earth, the undines of water, the sylphs of air, and the salamanders of fire. They said that these beings were "without a soul." They meant by that expression that they had not evolved to the point that men have reached: in other words, that they were sprites unevolved; they had not yet brought out from within, which is what evolution means, the powers of the indwelling god at the core of every individual. It is to the beings inhabiting the four lowest grades of the invisible worlds, of the invisible spheres, that the general term fairies applies. Under that term, as a general term, you may class all these other entities whose names I have just recited to you.
The question now therefore is, do these beings exist? They do. Do they dress like men, more particularly like European men of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with long pointed shoes and little pointed caps and tight hose, with little green or red or parti-colored cloaks? — and you will remember how men dressed in the Tudor Age in England, for instance. No, they do not. These elemental beings can and do take almost any form; they change form according to any passing current of energy, and copy the thought-forms existing in the atmosphere, existing in the places or in the individuals to which they are attracted; in themselves they are as formless as cloudlets, or as globules of air; they are like cloudlets of air gathered around a permanent central point, which in each case is the center, the durable center, of such an elemental being.
The elementals are exceedingly subject to currents of human thought and human will; and it is upon this fact that the mystical Medievalists taught that the Magician, in order to control the elemental beings, must himself have a strong will and a steady and permeant intelligence. If he has not these and if he therefore cannot control these beings, they taught that the spirits of nature could even kill him — destroy his body. Such indeed is the fact.
Do you doubt it? Then go to your insane asylums; go to your criminal prisons; look at the human wrecks which, alas, are among us everywhere. Look also at the suicides, and consider the hysteric statements of those who commit crimes in sudden and frenzied impulses of passion. All these are abnormal cases; they are the cases of weak-willed men who have lost control of themselves and have become the victims of some dominant passion; and such a dominant passion furnishes a very appropriate field or atmosphere in which these "soulless" elemental beings can flourish and live and act.
The elementals are not responsible for what they do. You cannot say that fire which destroys a beautiful work of art is responsible. You cannot say that the hailstones which destroy a crop are responsible. From the standpoint of the medieval mystics, the destructive fire or the hail, etc., are merely physical manifestations of the working in the invisible realms of these elemental beings who work automatically, instinctually, and without the guiding light of spiritual conscience. These elemental beings have not as yet evolved forth from their own inner god a self-conscious soul such as men have.
I will tell you a little esoteric secret in this connection: every time when a man flies into a passion, whether of desire or of anger, whether of fear or of hate, he has lost control of himself and at the time exemplifies the characteristic and power of some elemental being under whose influence he has fallen. This natural fact, so simple, so easily understood, is the basis of the old superstition about the action upon human beings of devils.
These elementals are not devils; they are simply elemental beings, and they have a natural and strong affinity for man. They look upon man much as we humans look to the gods; but when the man becomes degenerate and drops to their lower sphere, then is their chance. Automatically and instinctively they act, and they act as impersonally and as much without conscience as does the electric current. And I may say just here that the electric current is but a stream or flow of these elemental beings. Turn the switch, release the current and, if the circumstances are right, the man whose hand touched the switch is a dead man.
I will go a little farther: Diseases are the results of loss of self-control at some time, either in this or in some past life. You can say that an elemental has entered into the man's vital aura and that the man cannot repel the invasion or dislodge the invader, the reason being that the man has lost control of himself. Thus, such an elemental is like a disease seed dropped into fertile soil; and if the man does not oust it with his will and by aspiration to better things, in other words by resuming his normal spiritual manhood, that seed will grow, and disease or horrible consequences will be the result for him.
These elementals are akin in their very origin to human beings; because, as I have told you, human beings in a far past cosmic manvantara — or past life period of cosmic existence — were elemental beings also; and these elemental beings in future ages will become men — will evolve forth a soul from within, just as the acorn evolves forth the lofty oak from within itself. The acorn is not the oak, but the acorn contains the oak in potentia because it has in the heart of it, in the core of it, the oak characteristics — the swabhava of the oak, as theosophists say.
Therefore, when I am asked: Do I believe in fairies? I answer: Yes-No, No-Yes. I believe in fairies in the manner that I have set my belief forth; but if you ask if I believe in fairies as the men of four, five, six, hundred years ago believed in them, then I answer, No, certainly not; not at all.
The universe is filled full with gods; the universe is also filled full with intelligent, with half-intelligent, with quasi-intelligent, with almost unintelligent entities, existing in all-various grades and degrees of evolution, but nevertheless all are evolving entities, and all begin their evolutionary pilgrimage at its beginning — that fact is obvious. The beginning of any entity is its elemental root or seed; and as this elemental entity evolves, changes, grows, expands, in other words brings out what is locked up within it, as the acorn brings forth the oak, as the apple seed brings forth the apple tree: in brief, as this expansion and unfolding, this evolution, proceeds, you have a constantly greater and nobler expression of the spiritual essence at the core of the core of such an elemental being.
And here I repeat briefly what I have so often told you before: that theosophists are strict and rigid evolutionists, but we are not transformists. With us, evolution is a natural process exactly explained by this Latin word evolutio and signifying the unfolding, the unwrapping, the bringing out, of what is latent or unexpressed in the very fabric and essence of the being itself. As a rose unfolds from its bud, bringing out what is the swabhava or characteristic of the rose-plant, as the acorn brings forth the oak, unfolding the characteristics from within itself of the oak-tree, just so does man or any other entity anywhere in the universe evolve or unwrap or bring forth what is locked up within itself as the very law or essential characteristics of its being. Elemental in the beginning of a cosmic life period, evolving through all the countless forms of existence during that cosmic life period, and ending as a fully self-conscious god at the end of that life period — there in brief you have the picture. Elemental at one end, beginning, and god at the other end, the ending of such a cosmic period of existence. Each such cosmic life period is both preceded and followed by other cosmic life periods. We have thus an endless chain of causation extending from eternity to eternity, so to speak.
It is therefore obvious that in order to span the impassable gap, so to say, between the elemental being at one end and man at the other, the evolving elemental being must pass through all these intermediate cosmic stages. The elemental cannot attain godhood at a bound. It must evolve or grow into becoming a god.
See now the ethical side to this: Do not blame for their faults and shortcomings and natural incapacities those who are less evolved than you. Don't be harsh in your judgments. Be pitiful; be kindly. Remember that they would do better if they knew better; and that, in order to know better, they must evolve, they must grow. Do you blame the little child for screaming? Do you blame it for causing a conflagration or an accident to others? You try to correct any fault in the child, and this is your duty; you try to forestall any accident that the child may bring about; but you don't crucify or hang or electrocute the infant, for the simple reason that it does not know self-consciously what it is doing, it has not as yet in its infant years brought forth as it does in the years of later life a spiritual conscience living within it.
Just so is it with all other entities, and so also, but on a higher scale, with your fellow human beings. Society must protect itself, of course; but don't protect yourself harshly, don't do it unkindly. Remember the refining and magnetic power of love! Have the understanding heart; learn to forgive; and be yourself an example of what you want others to be. You yourself set the example. Be true men. Manifest what you as a fully evolved self-conscious being are. The basis for ethics lies in nature's own fabric and structure, that is to say in nature's own laws. Ethics are not at all mere human conventions. They are based on natural law — the essential laws of the universe.
I have before me this afternoon five questions that have been sent in to me, and these questions ask about sprites, fairies, and goblins. Remember that all these names are just names for various classes of the same beings — different names for different elemental beings existing in various kinds and classes.
A kind friend sent to me the other day two newspaper illustrations, being reproductions of two photographs, in each case showing a child with dancing "fairies" before her. These photographs were printed some years ago, and produced a small sensation in a restricted circle of quasi-mystical and perhaps rather credulous people. Many people believe that these photographs were true pictures of actualities simply because they were photographs. Conan Doyle, the clever creator of Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant man, is said to have investigated the matter of these photographs, and it is stated that he was sure that no double exposure of the photographic plates had been made. But as I looked at these pictures and studied them, knowing what I do about elemental beings, these pictures seemed very unreal and artificial to me.
Now please understand me: I accuse nobody of willful deception. Conan Doyle was a brainy man, but he made mistakes. Show me a man who is infallible, incapable of making a mistake. I don't believe that such a being exists. Anybody can make mistakes, and I can make mistakes as readily as anybody else in matters concerning which my experience is small; and so it is with every other man. Of course the man whose experience is wide along a certain line of study or practice will make fewer mistakes than one who is ignorant in that line or inexpert in that line. The man who thinks that he is infallible I fear is self-deceived and foolish. Infallibility rightly means having infinite cognizance of infinite matters, and this for human beings is impossible. We are all evolving entities and this means that every one of us is imperfect. But nevertheless we are all growing in knowledge and in spiritual wisdom simply because we are all evolving. There are great men, men less great, men less great still, and what we may for purposes of illustration call inferior men, and so forth.
I don't think that these photographs that I have just spoken of are aught else than — but no, I won't say anything that might seem unkind. Perhaps it is best in this connection to leave my thought unsaid. I will say this, however: that these elemental beings, when they are in the presence of a human being, as indeed they are constantly (because they surround us everywhere, being in our flesh, in our blood, in our brains, in our lungs, everywhere; we are permeated by them) take on the lineaments, the shapes, even the clothing it may be, of the thoughts that they automatically sense in the mind of the being or beings with whom they are at the time in direct contact.
The photographs that I speak of showed little fairylike creatures dressed more or less in the styles of the Tudor Age in England, and also having wings somewhat like the pictures of angels. As we know, the picture books and children of our present age figurate the fairies of the medieval times as being dressed just like these photographs show these dancing images to be; and the addition of the wings to these dancing images that the photograph showed were doubtless a later imaginary addition to them derived from the medieval pictures of angels large and small, flitting around by means of wings.
Why should not our picture books and our children think of fairies in short skirts and bare arms and silken stockings and bobbed hair with wristwatch on arm, etc., etc., or perhaps with tophats and swallow-tail coats? I trust that my thought is clear. How is it that other nations and other ages have picturated these elemental beings as possessing the shapes and as being clad according to the costumes and habits of these other ages and other peoples?
For instance, we still have records that the ancient Greeks had notions that these elemental creatures acted like Greeks and dressed like Greeks. Why? In England, the fairies are supposed to be dressed in the costumes and to have the habits of an earlier or of a later age such as the Tudor Age. Why? In Germany they were supposed to be dressed and to act like German peasants. Why? And in Sweden to be dressed and to act like Swedish peasants. Why? Go to India, go to China, go to other countries of the East, and in each instance you will find that elemental beings, called fairies in medieval Europe, are described as being dressed in the costumes of those Oriental countries and to act like natives of those Oriental and other countries. Why? Isn't it obvious that each land and each people has given to these elemental beings habiliments and costumes with which these different peoples themselves were most familiar?
Here are the five questions that were sent to me. I will read the first to you, and then after a few words of comment I will read the others.
I understand that you believe in fairies and similar creatures existing in the imagination of the superstitious men of a bygone age. Is this true? I am sure it must be false.
The questioner thinks for me, you see. In the first place, are there no superstitious men today? "Pat, do you believe in ghosts?" "No, Sor; but I hate like Helll to be where they are!" We are just as superstitious in our own way as our fathers were in their way, every whit as much; and we still have superstitions often of a most irrational kind — scientific superstitions, philosophical superstitions, religious superstitions also. We know well that they are superstitions, we know it just as well as we know anything else; and yet we hold to those superstitions or fads and fancies of a past era like grim death, merely because they are popular, and the average man has not yet been able to shake them off. But the great man frees himself from these superstitions; that is, he thinks for himself. Such is the mark of a great man, to be able to think for himself, but nevertheless to think kindly, brotherly.
I will say in answer to the question that I believe in the elemental spirits as I have described them to be; but, in the fairies as they have been commonly supposed to be, no, I do not believe in them at all, except in the sense that I have already outlined and hinted at.
Question 2: How is it that every race of men throughout universal history and in every part of the globe has always believed in invisible entities existing in other worlds than ours?
Because man's own instinct has told him that these entities exist; it is the consensus of judgment of the human race that these entities exist, and this is a matter quite apart from what uneducated and unguided mysticism in any age may have supposed regarding these elemental entities. The popular mythologies, it must be remembered, were never at all the belief of the wise and illuminated seers.
Now, pause in thought over this: When universal mankind in every age has felt and believed and taught the same things, we must believe that innate human intelligence and instincts are working, and therefore that there is truth in these same things, leaving aside all embroidery and decoration of fancy and imagination; the essential must be true, because man's instinct repeats it in age after age, man's instinct sets it forth in belief and teaching in age after age; and the instinct and the thinking and the intuition and therefore the teaching have always been that these elemental beings exist in all steps and grades of evolutionary development: some are spiritual, and are very kindly to men, and are lofty, ethereal entities; others are deep-sunk in material existence, and are therefore unfriendly to man, and often malignant; and there are all the intermediate stages of these entities between these two extremes. Such has been the universal belief of the human race.
Do we not find the same varieties of entities and things even in the physical world? Are not some beasts friendly to man? Are not some unfriendly? You will find these varieties and grades of evolutionary development even in men. Some men are dangerous; some men are kindly; some men are good; some men are bad; some men have a heart; some men seem to be heartless. Think over these ideas. Are you going to be like the dumb, driven sheep, following every wind of opinion, and from year to year merely believing what the passing age believes? Or are you going to liberate the wings of your mind, of your intellect, and think for yourselves? Study! Read! Think! Give your consciousness a chance to express itself with its native energy.
If these invisible and airy beings exist, where do they live and what is their character?
They are everywhere — in the fire, in the water, in the air, in the earth, in the sky — everywhere, each class existing in its appropriate sphere, just as men are on earth; each class lives and acts and is fit for its appropriate sphere, just as men are on earth. Every tree, for instance, is an outward expression of such an elemental being passing through its tree stage of evolutionary progress. Every insect is such an elemental being passing through the insect stage of its evolutionary journey. Of every beast exactly the same observation can be made; and obviously I here refer only to the beings that surround us on earth. The invisible realms are filled full with these elementals. They are everywhere, existing in all-various grades of development and are of all-various kinds, some very friendly to men, some unfriendly and hostile — not by will, but by natural character; men and they don't tune in together. There are poisons that can be extracted from plants and from beasts which can be used to heal; but they likewise can be used to kill. Steel can kill, and yet steel in the hand of the clever surgeon, and rightly used, can heal.
Are they friendly or hostile to human beings?
The one or the other, as the case may be.
Can they and do they communicate with men?
It depends upon what you mean by communication: if you ask whether they speak to us as human beings speak to human beings, then the answer is no, because they are not men. You might as well ask: Can the trees communicate with a man? I say, yes! Ah! Have you never been in some great primeval forest? Has your soul never at any time felt the influence of these wondrous creatures, the great trees, with their unutterable peace, and their quiet whispering to us, even with the tremulous movement of their leaves, strange thoughts of beauty and wonder? Have you felt it? Yes; these beings can communicate, but in their own way. Look into the eyes of the dog you love, or of the horse that you love. It cannot "talk" to you, but nevertheless it talks to you in its own way.
There are no fairies at all such as the medieval pictures misrepresent them to be. The fundamental idea that sprites, elemental beings, exist is very true. Some even look like men, and that is also true; but they look like men simply because they haunt the habitats of men and automatically take on the appearance of men. Consider that even the dog, a highly domesticated beast, is beginning to have certain minor human traits. He loves his home; he loves the fireside; he loves the one or two or three whom he is accustomed to, just like men. Compare the domesticated dog with the wild dog, or with the wolf, who loves the free open spaces, and you will see the differences at once.
The vast majority of these creatures have no permanent form, because they take on any form according to the currents of energy or of thought to which they are so highly subject. They are, as I said, like globules of air, like cloudlets, changing form constantly with every passing thought that they catch and automatically conform to and follow; with every passing impulse of a psychomagnetic kind that they catch they change accordingly. But, as a matter of fact, even so do men to a certain extent. The same principle prevails. Don't men change from hour to hour and from day to day — not change in the general sense of growth, but change in their opinions, their feelings; and this they do even hourly. A man may act like a fiend in the morningtime. He does not mean to be a fiend, but may be so grouchy that his whole appearance is like a fiend; and by noon or in the afternoon he may be an angel, a pitiful, compassionate angel, doing a work of human kindliness somewhere.
Do I believe in fairies? Using this word as a general term for these elemental beings, Yes. I now repeat: Do I believe in the fairies of the European peoples, as these fairies are portrayed by medieval writers in different ages and by those modern writers who copy the Medievalists? No. Do I believe in the fairies as they are described by the populace of Hindustan or China or of Japan or of the countries to the north or to the south of our own double continent? No, I do not.
But nevertheless I know that the folklore regarding fairies is based on truth; I know that these elemental beings do indeed exist, that they are of all-various kinds, that the world is filled with them; that they exist not only on our physical plane, but on all the invisible planes, and on all the other planes of ethereality as these planes increase in spirituality. The gods themselves were elemental beings once, because that stage was the beginning of their evolution in our present cosmic sphere. We men were elemental beings once, because once we also were in our beginnings. The elemental beings are evolving into becoming men, as we humans have already evolved into becoming men. We men are evolving into becoming gods, as the gods have already evolved from manhood into becoming divine.
Evolution, in our theosophical teaching, is an operation of a universal nature and therefore prevails everywhere. Not only the entities of earth evolve, but it is our theosophical teaching that evolution is a universal law, more accurately one of nature's fundamental operations; for evolution is growth, and growth is change, and change is movement, and movement is life, and movement springs from consciousness. Without consciousness life and movement cannot be, they cannot exist, because movement to be movement according to law which means order and harmony thus signifying intelligence must proceed from a point of departure in a purposive line to a destined point, and all the movements that we know in the universe are this kind, proceeding from point to point according to law and order which is harmony; and chance and fortuity are utterly irreconcilable with law and order.
Now, Brothers, please do not misunderstand me to mean, when I say that human beings were elementals once and that in future cosmic aeons they will be gods, that I imply by this remark that the god within us has become a god without purposive operation, and by mere fortuitous transformism from a previous human being; nor, similarly, that the human being is the human being because it has changed without purposiveness by chance action from an elemental being. That is not my idea. I mean that the heart of every entity is a divine essence from any beginning of evolution to any end of evolution; and it is the currents of consciousness and energy flowing from this divine essence, through the various bodies in which that divine essence or inner god exists, which provide the motivating urges to betterment, to improvement, to growth. The inner god has been there from the beginning, but unexpressed. Evolution is bringing forth what is within, not chance accretions of faculty or organ by merely exterior environmental action.
Evolution is not something added to you from without. What is in the acorn? The seed-life of the oak. That seed-characteristic is in the acorn from the beginning. Therefore the god in potentia is in the elemental being from the beginning; and all evolution is simply an unfolding, an unwrapping, an expanding process, bringing out ever more and more perfectly what is within; and the different stages of this bringing out are the different stages which the evolving and advancing entity goes through — elemental being, mineral, plant, beast, human, hero, lower god, god, super-god — the series is endless. What a picture this teaching gives to us!
But we now existing as human beings, having evolved forth from within us the essential noble human instincts — having evolved forth the divine feeling of love, of compassion, of pity, of understanding for others, and therefore the instinct of forgiving — have a heavy responsibility upon us, for we have become cognizant of right and wrong; and hereafter what we choose to do we individually shall be responsible for; for our minds have been enlightened, our understandings have been fired with the divine fire within us; we have come into touch with our inner god, however feebly; and thus now being men, self-conscious entities with a consciousness as we are now, we shall pay for what we do that is wrong, and we shall receive the guerdon for what we do that is right. Therefore the teaching of all the sages and seers of all the ages has been one: come up higher, my Brothers. Be yourself, your divine self. Manifest the god within you, for it is there. Take command of yourself. Be true men; and do this by expressing the power of your inner god.
Vol 2, No 22