The astral body and other astral phenomena by A.E.Powell


by Arthur A.Powell

The Theosophical Publishing House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.; Adyar, Chennai, India

Published in 1927, reprinted in 1954 and 1965

Part 1 of 2
click on this line for Part 2 of 2

By the same Author in this series
The Etheric Double
The Mental Body
The Causal Body
The Solar System


This book is dedicated with gratitude and appreciation to all those whose painstaking labour
and researches have provided the materials out of which it has been compiled

"To know man is to know God.
To know God is to know man.
To study the universe is to learn both G
od and man;
for the universe is the expression of the Divine Thought,
and the universe is mirrored in man.
Knowledge is necessary if the SELF would become free
and know Itself as Itself alone."
                                                                             Annie Besant

  Introduction XIII
1 General Description 1
2 Composition and Structure 4
3 Colours 11
4 Functions 23
5 Chakrams 31
6 Kundalini 38
7 Thought Forms 43
8 Physical Life 64
9 Sleep-Life 82
10 Dreams 93
11 Continuity of Consciousness 104
12 Death and the Desire-Elemental 107
13 After-Death Life : Principles 112
14 After-Death Life : Particulars 120
Click on this line for the following chapters
15 After-Death Life ; Special Cases 138
16 The Astral Plane 146
17 Miscellaneous Astral Phenomena 157
18 The Fourth Dimension 163
19 Astral Entities : Human 168
20 Astral Entities : Non-Human 176
21 Astral Entities : Artificial 190
22 Spiritualism 194
23 Astral Death 206
24 Re-Birth 209
25 The Mastery of Emotion 215
26 Development of Astral Powers 224
27 Clairvoyance in Space and Time 234
28 Invisible Helpers 238
29 Discipleship 252
30 Conclusion 258
  Index 261


Ancient Wisdom Besant, Annie 1897 A W
Astral Plane Leadbeater, C.W. 1910


Changing World Besant, Annie 1909 C W
Clairvoyance Leadbeater, C.W. 1908 C
Crowd in Peace and War Conway, Sir Martin 1915 C P W
Death and After Besant, Annie 1901 D A
Dreams Leadbeater, C.W. 1903 D
Hidden Side of Things -Vol.1 Leadbeater, C.W. 1913 H S I
Hidden Side of Things -Vol.2 Leadbeater, C.W. 1913 H S II
Inner Life -Vol. 1 Leadbeater, C.W. 1910 I L 1
Inner Life -Vol. 2 Leadbeater, C.W. 1911 I L 2
Introduction to Yoga Besant, Annie 1908 I Y
Invisible Helpers Leadbeater, C.W. 1911 I H
Karma Besant, Annie 1897 K
Key to Theosophy Blavatsky, H.P. 1893 K T
Law of Psychic Phenomena Hudson, T.J. 1905 L P P
Life after Death Leadbeater, C.W. 1912 L A D
London Lectures 1907 Besant, Annie 1907 L L
Man and His Bodies Besant, Annie 1900 M B
Man Visible and Invisible Leadbeater, C.W. 1902 M V I
Masters and the Path Leadbeater, C.W. 1925 M P
Monad Leadbeater, C.W. 1920 M
Occult Chemistry Besant, A. & Leadbeater, C.W. 1919 O C
Occult World Sinnett, A.P. 1906 O W
Other Side of Death Leadbeater, C.W. 1904 O S D
Reincarnation Besant, Annie 1898 R
Science of the Emotions Bhagavan Das 1900 S E
Secret Doctrine - Vol. 1 Blavatsky, H.P. 1905 S D I
Secret Doctrine - Vol. 2 Blavatsky, H.P. 1905 S D II
Secret Doctrine - Vol. 3 Blavatsky, H.P. 1897 S D III
Self and its Sheaths Besant, Annie 1903 S S
Seven Principles of Man Besant, Annie 1904 S P
Seven Rays Wood, Ernest 1925 S R
Some Glimpses of Occultism Leadbeater, C.W. 1909 S G O
Some Occult Experiences Van Manen, J. 1913 S O E
Study in Consciousness Besant, Annie 1904 S C
Textbook of Theosophy Leadbeater, C.W. 1914 T B
Theosophy and the New Psychology Besant, Annie 1909 T N P
Thought Forms Besant, A. & Leadbeater, C.W. 1905 T F
Thought Power: Its Control and Culture Besant, Annie 1903 T P
N.B. In a few cases, where the unsupported opinions of the compiler are given, they are indicated by letters Powell, A.E.   A.E.P.


THE author's purpose in compiling the books in this series was to save students much time and labour by providing a condensed synthesis of the considerable literature on the respective subjects of each volume, coming mostly from the pens of Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. The accompanying list shows the large number of books from which he drew. So far as possible, the method adopted was to explain the form side first, before the life side: to describe the objective mechanism of phenomena and then the activities of consciousness that are expressed through the mechanism. There is no attempt to prove or even justify any of the statements. Marginal references give opportunity to refer to the sources.

The works of H. P. Blavatsky were not used because the author said that the necessary research in The Secret Doctrine and other writings would have been too vast a task for him to undertake. He added: "The debt to H. P. Blavatsky is greater than could ever be indicated by quotations from her monumental volumes. Had she not shown the way in the first instance, later investigators might never have found the trail at all."


THE purpose of this book is to present to the student of Theosophy a condensed synthesis of the information at present available concerning the Astral Body of man, together with a description and explanation of the astral world and its phenomena. The book is thus a natural sequel of The Etheric Double and Allied Phenomena published in 1925.

As in the case of The Etheric Double, the compiler has consolidated the information obtained from a large number of books, a list of which is given, arranging the material, which covers a vast field and is exceedingly complex, as methodically as lay within his power. It is hoped that by this means present and future students of the subject will be saved much labour and research, being able not only to find the information they require presented in a comparatively small compass, but also, with the help of the marginal references, to refer, should they so desire, to the original sources of information.

In order that the book may fulfil its purpose by being kept within reasonable dimensions, the general plan followed has been to expound the principles underlying astral phenomena, omitting particular examples or instances. Lecturers and others who wish specific illustrations of the principles enunciated, will find the marginal references useful as a clue to the places where the examples they seek may be found.

Again, so far as the complexities and ramifications of the subject permit, the method has been to explain the form side first, before the life side: i.e., to describe first the objective mechanism of phenomena, and then the activities of consciousness which are expressed through that mechanism. The careful student, bearing this in [Page xiv ] mind, will thus recognise many passages, which at first glance might appear to be repetitive, in which the same phenomenon is described first from the point of view of the outer material form and then again later from the point of view of the spirit or consciousness.

It is hoped that the present volume may be followed by similar ones dealing with man's Mental and Causal bodies, thus completing the consolidation of all information so far available regarding man's constitution up to the Causal or Higher Mental level.

There is today a great deal of information on these and similar subjects, but it is for the most part scattered over large numbers of books. In order, therefore, to make the whole of it available for the student, whose time for intensive study is limited, such books as the present is intended to be, are (in the writer's opinion) urgently needed. " The proper study of mankind is man : " and the subject is so vast, so absorbing, and so important that everything possible should be done to make readily accessible to all who thirst for such knowledge the whole of the information which has so far been accumulated.

Arthur E.Powell



[Page 1]
BEFORE proceeding to a detailed study of the astral body, and of phenomena associated with it, it may be useful to lay before the student a brief outline of the ground it is proposed to cover, in order to give in proper perspective a view of the whole subject and of the relative dependence of its several parts.

Briefly, the astral body of man is a vehicle, to clairvoyant sight not unlike the physical body, surrounded by an aura of flashing colours, composed of matter of an order of fineness higher than that of physical matter, in which feelings, passions, desires and emotions are expressed and which acts as a bridge or medium of transmission between the physical brain and the mind, the latter operating in the still higher vehicle — the mind-body.

While every man possesses and uses an astral body, comparatively few are conscious of its existence or can control and function in it in full consciousness. In the case of large numbers of persons it is scarcely more than an inchoate mass of astral matter, the movements and activities of which are little under the control of the man himself—the Ego. With others, however, the astral body is a well-developed and thoroughly organised vehicle, possessing a life of its own and conferring on its owner many and useful powers.

During the sleep of the physical body, an undeveloped man leads a dreamy, vague existence, in his relatively primitive astral body, remembering little or nothing [Page 2] of his sleep-life when he re-awakens in his physical body.

In the case of a developed man, however, the life in the astral body, whilst the physical body is wrapped in slumber, is active, interesting and useful, and the memory of it may, under certain conditions, be brought down into the physical brain. The life of such a man ceases to be a series of days of consciousness and nights of oblivion, becoming instead a continuous life of unbroken consciousness, alternating between the physical and the astral planes or worlds.

One of the first things a man learns to do in his astral body is to travel in it, it being possible for the astral body to move, with great rapidity, and to great distances from the sleeping physical body. An understanding of this phenomenon throws much light on a large number of so-called "occult " phenomena, such as " apparitions " of many kinds, knowledge of places never visited physically, etc.

The astral body being par excellence the vehicle of feelings and emotions, an understanding of its composition and of the ways in which it operates is of considerable value in understanding many aspects of man's psychology, both individual and collective, and also provides a simple explanation of the mechanism of many phenomena revealed by modern psycho-analysis.

A clear understanding of the structure and nature of the astral body, of its possibilities and its limitations, is essential to a comprehension of the life into which men pass after physical death. The many kinds of " heavens", " hells " and purgatorial existences believed in by followers of innumerable religions, all fall naturally into place and become intelligible as soon as we understand the nature of the astral body and of the astral world.

A study of the astral body will be of assistance also in our understanding of many of the phenomena of the séance room and of certain psychic or non-physical methods of healing disease. Those who are interested [Page 3] in what is termed the fourth dimension will find also a confirmation of many of the theories which have been formulated by means of geometry and mathematics, in a study of astral world phenomena, as described by those who have observed them.

A study of the astral body of man thus takes us far afield and expands enormously a conception of life based solely on the physical world and the purely physical senses. As we proceed, we shall see that the physical senses, invaluable as they are, by no means represent the limit of what man's vehicles may teach him of the worlds in which he lives. The awakening into functioning activity of astral faculties reveals a new world within the old world and, when a man becomes able to read aright its significance, he will obtain such an expanded view of his own life, and all nature, as will reveal to him the almost limitless possibilities latent in man. From this, sooner or later but inevitably, there will come the impulse, and later the unshakable determination, to master these worlds, and himself, to rise superior to his earthly destiny, and to become an intelligent co-operator with what has been aptly termed the Supreme Will in Evolution.

We will now proceed to study, in detail, the astral body and many astral phenomena [Page 4]



ASTRAL matter exists in seven grades or orders of fineness, corresponding to the seven grades of physical matter, which are solid, liquid, gaseous, etheric, super-etheric, sub-atomic and atomic. No names for these astral states, however, having so far been devised, it is usual to describe them, either by the number of the grade or sub-plane, the finest being Number 1, the coarsest Number 7, or by the corresponding physical grade. E.g., we speak of astral solid matter, meaning thereby the seventh or lowest variety: astral etheric matter, meaning the fourth from the finest: and so on.

Astral matter, being much finer than physical matter, interpenetrates it. Every physical atom, therefore, floats in a sea of astral matter, which surrounds it and fills every interstice in physical matter. It is of course, well known that even in the hardest substance no two atoms ever touch one another, the space between two adjacent atoms being in fact enormously larger than the atoms themselves. Orthodox physical science long ago has posited an ether which interpenetrates all known substances, the densest solid as well as the most rarefied gas; and just as this ether moves with perfect freedom between the particles of densest matter, so does astral matter interpenetrate it in turn, and moves with perfect freedom among its particles. Thus a being living in the astral world might be occupying the same space as a being living in the physical world ; yet each would be entirely unconscious of the other, and would in no way impede the free movement of the other. The student should thoroughly familiarise himself with this fundamental conception, [Page 5] as, without grasping it clearly, it is not possible to understand large numbers of astral phenomena.

The principle of interpenetration makes it clear that the different realms of nature are not separated in space, but exist about us here and now, so that to perceive and investigate them no movement in space is necessary, but only an opening within ourselves of the senses by means of which they can be perceived.

The astral world, or plane, is thus a condition of nature, rather than a locality.

It must be noted that a physical atom cannot be directly broken up into astral atoms. If the force which whirls the (approximately) fourteen thousand million " bubbles in koilon " into an ultimate physical atom be pressed back by an effort of will over the threshold of the astral plane, the atom disappears, releasing the " bubbles." The same force, working then on a higher level, expresses itself, not through one astral atom, but through a group of forty-nine such atoms.

A similar relationship, represented by the number 49, exists between the atoms of any two other contiguous planes of nature: thus an astral atom contains 495 or 282,475,249 " bubbles," a mental atom, 494 bubbles, and so on.

There is reason to believe that electrons are astral atoms. Physicists state that a chemical atom of hydrogen contains probably from 700 to 1000 electrons. Occult research asserts that a chemical atom of hydrogen contains 882 astral atoms. This may be a coincidence, but that does not seem probable.

It should be noted that ultimate physical atoms c are of two kinds, male and female : in the male, force pours in from the astral world, passes through the atom and out into the physical world : in the female, force passes in from the physical world, through the atom, and out into the astral world, thus vanishing from the physical world.

Astral matter corresponds with curious accuracy to [Page 6] the physical matter which it interpenetrates, each variety of physical matter attracting astral matter of corresponding density. Thus solid physical matter is interpenetrated by what we call solid astral matter: liquid physical by liquid astral, i.e., by matter of the sixth sub-plane : and similarly with gaseous and the four grades of etheric matter, each of which is interpenetrated by the corresponding grade of astral matter.

Precisely as it is necessary that the physical body should contain within its constitution physical matter in all its conditions, solid, liquid, gaseous and etheric, so it is indispensable that the astral body should contain particles of all the seven astral sub-planes, though, of course, the proportions may vary greatly in different cases.

The astral body of man thus being composed of matter of all seven grades, it is possible for him to experience all varieties of desire to the fullest possible extent, the highest as well as the lowest.

It is the peculiar type of response possessed by astral matter which enables the astral matter to serve as the sheath in which the Self can gain experience of sensation.

In addition to the ordinary matter of the astral plane, that which is known as the Third Elemental Kingdom, or simply as the Elemental Essence of the astral plane, also enters largely into the composition of man's astral body, and forms what is called the " Desire-Elemental," which we shall deal with more fully in later chapters.

Astral elemental essence consists of matter of the six lower levels of the astral plane, vivified by the Second Outpouring, from the Second Person of the Trinity. Astral matter of the highest or atomic level, similarly vivified, is known as Monadic Essence.

In an undeveloped man, the astral body is a cloudy, loosely organised, vaguely outlined mass of astral matter, with a great predominance of substances from the lower grades; it is gross, dark in colour, and dense — often so dense that the outline of the physical [Page 7] body is almost lost in it — and is thus fitted to respond to stimuli connected with the passions and appetites. In size, it extends in all directions about ten or twelve inches beyond the physical body.

In an average moral and intellectual man the astral body is considerably larger, extending about 18 inches on each side of the body, its materials are more balanced and finer in quality, the presence of the rarer kinds giving a certain luminous quality to the whole, and its outline is clear and definite.

In the case of a spiritually developed man the astral body is still larger in size and is composed of the finest particles of each grade of astral matter, the higher largely predominating.

There is so much to be said regarding the colours of astral bodies that the subject is reserved for a separate chapter. Here, however, it may be stated that in undeveloped types the colours are coarse and muddy, gradually becoming more and more luminous as the man develops emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The very name " astral," inherited from mediaeval alchemists, signifies " starry," being intended to allude to the luminous appearance of astral matter.

As already said, the astral body of a man not only permeates the physical body, but also extends around it in every direction like a cloud.

That portion of the astral body which extends beyond the limits of the physical body is usually termed the astral "aura."

Intense feeling means a large aura. It may here be mentioned that increased size of the aura is a prerequisite for Initiation, and the " Qualifications" should be visible in it. The aura naturally increases with each Initiation. The aura of the Buddha is said to have been three miles in radius.

The matter of the physical body having a very strong attraction for the matter of the astral body, it follows that by far the greater portion (about 99 per cent.) of the astral particles are compressed within the periphery of the physical body, only the remaining [Page 8] 1 per cent, filling the rest of the ovoid and forming the aura.

The central portion of the astral body thus takes the exact form of the physical body and is, in fact, very solid and definite, and quite clearly distinguishable from the surrounding aura. It is usually termed the astral counterpart of the physical body. The exact correspondence of the astral body with the physical, however, is merely a matter of external form, and does not at all involve any similarity of function in the various organs, as we shall see more fully in the chapter on Chakrams.

Not only man's physical body, but everything physical, has its corresponding order of astral matter in constant association with it, not to be separated from it except by a very considerable exertion of occult force, and even then only to be held apart from it as long as force is being definitely exerted to that end. In other words, every physical object has its astral counterpart. But as the astral particles are constantly moving among one another as easily as those of a physical liquid, there is no permanent association between any one physical particle and that amount of astral matter which happens at any given moment to be acting as its counterpart.

Usually the astral portion of an object projects somewhat beyond the physical part of it, so that metals, stones, etc., are seen surrounded by an astral aura.

If some part of a man's physical body be removed, e.g., by amputation, the coherence of the living astral matter is stronger than its attraction towards the severed portion of the physical. Consequently the astral counterpart of the limb will not be carried away with the severed physical limb. Since the astral matter has acquired the habit of keeping that particular form, it will continue to retain the original shape, but will soon withdraw within the limits of the maimed form. The same phenomenon takes place in the case of a tree from which a branch has been severed. [Page 9]

In the case of an inanimate body, however, such as a chair or a basin, there is not the same kind of individual life to maintain cohesion. Consequently, when the physical object is broken the astral counterpart would also be divided.

Quite apart from the seven grades of matter, arranged in order of fineness, there is also a totally distinct classification of astral matter, according to its type. In Theosophical literature the degree of fineness is usually designated the horizontal division, and the type the vertical division. The types, of which there are seven, are as thoroughly intermingled as are the constituents of the atmosphere, and in every astral body there is matter of all seven types, the proportion between them showing the disposition of the man, whether he be devotional or philosophic, artistic or scientific, pragmatic or mystic.

The whole of the astral portion of our earth and of the physical planets, together with the purely astral planets of our System, make up collectively the astral body of the Solar Logos, thus showing that the old pantheistic conception was a true one.

Similarly each of the seven types of astral matter is to some extent, regarded as a whole, a separate vehicle, and may be thought of as also the astral body of a subsidiary Deity or Minister, who is at the same time an aspect of the Deity, a kind of ganglion or force-centre in Him. Hence the slightest thought, movement or alteration of any kind in the subsidiary Deity is instantly reflected in some way or other in all the matter of the corresponding type. Such psychic changes occur periodically: perhaps they correspond to in-breathing and out-breathing, or to the beating of the heart with us on the physical plane. It has been observed that the movements of the physical planets furnish a clue to the operation of the influences flowing from these changes: hence the rationale of astrological science. Hence, further, any such alteration must to some extent affect each man, in proportion to the amount of that type of matter which he [Page 10] possesses in his astral body. Thus, one change would affect the emotions, or the mind, or both, another might intensify nervous excitement and irritability, and so on. It is this proportion which determines in each man, animal, plant or mineral certain fundamental characteristics which never change — sometimes called his note, colour, or ray.

To pursue this interesting line of thought further would take us beyond the scope of this book, so the student is referred to The Hidden Side of Things, Vol. I, pp. 43-58.

There are seven sub-types in each type, making forty-nine sub-types in all.

The type or ray is permanent through the whole planetary scheme, so that an elemental essence (see p. 6) of type A will in due course ensoul minerals, plants and animals of type A, and from it will emerge also human beings of the same type.

The astral body slowly but constantly wears away, precisely as does the physical, but, instead of the process of eating and digesting food, the particles which fall away are replaced by others from the surrounding atmosphere. Nevertheless, the feeling of individuality is communicated to the new particles as they enter, and also the elemental essence included with each man's astral body undoubtedly feels itself a kind of entity, and acts accordingly for what if considers its own interests.[
Page 11]



To clairvoyant sight one of the principal features of an astral body consists of the colours which are constantly playing through it, these colours corresponding to, and being the expression in astral matter of feelings, passions and emotions.

All known colours, and many which are at present unknown to us, exist upon each of the higher planes of nature, but as we rise from one stage to another they become more delicate and more luminous, so that they may be described as higher octaves of colour. As it is not possible to portray these octaves physically on paper, the above facts should be borne in mind when considering the coloured illustrations of the astral body which are referred to below.

The following is a list of the principal colours and the emotions of which they are an expression:—

Black: in thick clouds: hatred and malice.

Red: deep red flashes, usually on a black ground: anger.

A scarlet cloud : irritability.

Brilliant scarlet: on the ordinary background of the aura: " noble indignation".

Lurid and sanguinary red: unmistakable, though not easy to describe: sensuality.

Brown-grey : dull, hard brown-grey: selfishness: one of the commonest colours in the astral body.

Brown-red: dull, almost rust-colour: avarice, usually arranged in parallel bars across the astral body.

Greenish-brown: lit up by deep red or scarlet flashes : jealousy. In the case of an ordinary man there is usually much of this colour present when he is "in love". [Page 12]

Grey: heavy, leaden : depression. Like the brown-red of avarice, arranged in parallel lines, conveying the impression of a cage.

Grey, livid: a hideous and frightful hue: fear.

Crimson: dull and heavy: selfish love.

Rose-colour: unselfish love. When exceptionally brilliant, tinged with lilac : spiritual love for humanity.

Orange: pride or ambition. Often found with irritability.

Yellow: intellect: varies from a deep and dull tint, through brilliant gold, to clear and luminous lemon or primrose yellow. Dull yellow ochre implies the direction of faculty to selfish purposes: clear gamboge indicates a distinctly higher type; primrose yellow denotes intellect devoted to spiritual ends; gold indicates pure intellect applied to philosophy or mathematics.

Green: in general, varies greatly in its significance, and needs study to be interpreted correctly: mostly it indicates adaptability. Grey-green, slimy in appearance: deceit and cunning. Emerald green: versatility, ingenuity and resourcefulness, applied unselfishly. Pale, luminous blue-green: deep sympathy and compassion, with the power of perfect adaptability which only they can give. Bright apple-green seems always to accompany strong vitality.

Blue: dark and clear: religious feeling. It is liable to be tinted by many other qualities, thus becoming any shade from indigo or a rich deep violet to muddy grey-blue. Light-blue, such as ultramarine or cobalt: devotion to a noble spiritual ideal. A tint of violet indicates a mixture of affection and devotion. Luminous lilac-blue, usually accompanied by sparkling golden stars: the higher spirituality, with lofty spiritual aspirations.

Ultra-violet: higher and purer developments of psychic faculties.

Ultra-red: lower psychic faculties of one who dabbles in evil and selfish forms of magic.

Joy shows itself in a general brightening and radiancy [Page 13] of both mental and astral bodies, and in a peculiar rippling of the surface of the body. Cheerfulness shows itself in a modified bubbling form of this, and also in a steady serenity.

Surprise is shown by a sharp constriction of the mental body, usually communicated to both the astral and physical bodies, accompanied by an increased glow of the band of affection if the surprise is a pleasant one, and by an increase of brown and grey if the surprise is an unpleasant one. The constriction often causes unpleasant feelings, affecting sometimes the solar plexus, resulting in sinking and sickness, and sometimes the heart centre, causing palpitation and even death.

It will be understood that, as human emotions are hardly ever unmixed, so these colours are seldom perfectly pure, but more usually mixtures. Thus the purity of many colours is dimmed by the hard brown-grey of selfishness, or tinged with the deep orange of pride.

In reading the full meaning of colours, other points have also to be taken into consideration: viz., the general brilliance of the astral body: the comparative definiteness or indefiniteness of its outline: the relative brightness of the different centres of force (see Chapter 5).

The yellow of intellect, the rose of affection, and the blue of devotion are always found in the upper part of the astral body: the colours of selfishness, avarice, deceit and hatred are in the lower part: the mass of sensual feeling floats usually between the two.

From this it follows that in the undeveloped man the lower portion of the ovoid tends to be larger than the upper, so that the astral body has the appearance of an egg with the small end uppermost. In the more developed man the reverse is the case, the small end of the egg pointing downwards. The tendency always is for the symmetry of the ovoid to re-assert itself by degrees, so that such appearances are only temporary.

Each quality, expressed as a colour, has its own special type of astral matter, and the average position [Page 14] of these colours depends upon the specific gravity of the respective grades of matter. The general principle is that evil or selfish qualities express themselves in the comparatively slow vibrations of coarser matter, while good and unselfish qualities play through finer matter.

This being so, fortunately for us, good emotions persist even longer than evil ones, the effect of a feeling of strong love or devotion remaining in the astral body long after the occasion that caused it has been forgotten.

It is possible, though unusual, to have two rates of vibrations going on strongly in the astral body at the same time, e.g., love and anger. The after-results will go on side by side, but one at a very much higher level than the other and therefore persisting longer.

High unselfish affection and devotion belong to the highest (atomic) astral sub-plane, and these reflect themselves in the corresponding matter of the mental plane. They thus touch the causal (higher mental) body, not the lower mental. This is an important point of which the student should take especial note. The Ego, who resides on the higher mental plane, is thus affected only by unselfish thoughts. Lower thoughts affect, not the Ego, but the permanent atoms (see p. 207).

Consequently, in the causal body there would be gaps, not bad colours, corresponding to the lower feelings and thoughts. Selfishness, for example, would show itself as the absence of affection or sympathy: as soon as selfishness is replaced by its opposite, the gap in the causal body would be filled up.

An intensification of the coarse colours of the astral body, representing base emotions, whilst finding no direct expression in the causal body, nevertheless tends somewhat to dim the luminosity of the colours representing the opposite virtues in the causal body.

In order to realise the appearance of the astral body, it must be borne in mind that the particles of which [Page 15] it is composed are always in rapid motion: in the vast majority of cases the clouds of colour melt into one another and are all the while rolling over one another, appearing and disappearing as they roll, the surface of the luminous mist resembling somewhat the surface of violently boiling water. The various colours, therefore, by no means retain the same positions, though there is a normal position towards which they tend to return.

The student is referred to the book, Man Visible and Invisible, by C. W. Leadbeater, for illustrations of the actual appearance of astral bodies : —
Plate VII., p 88, Astral body of savage.
Plate X., p. 94, Astral body of average man.
Plate XXIII., p. 123, Astral body of developed man. (Edition 1902.)

The main characteristics of the three types illustrated — the savage, the average man and the developed man — may be briefly summarised as follows :—

Savage Type. — A very large proportion of sensuality, deceit, selfishness and greed are conspicuous: fierce anger is implied by smears and blots of dull scarlet: very little affection appears, and such intellect and religious feeling as exist are of the lowest possible kind. The outline is irregular and the colours blurred, thick and heavy. The whole body is evidently ill-regulated, confused and uncontrolled.

Average Man.—Sensuality is much less though still prominent: selfishness is also prominent and there is some capability of deceit for personal ends, though the green is beginning to divide into two distinct qualities, showing that cunning is gradually becoming adaptability. Anger is still marked: affection, intellect and devotion are more prominent and of a higher quality. The colours as a whole are more clearly defined and distinctly brighter, though none of them are perfectly clear. The outline of the body is more defined and regular.

Developed Man.— Undesirable qualities have almost entirely disappeared: across the top of the body there [Page 16] is a strip of lilac, indicating spiritual aspiration: above and enveloping the head there is a cloud of the brilliant yellow of intellect: below that there is a broad belt of the blue of devotion: then across the trunk there is a still wider belt of the rose of affection, and in the lower part of the body a large amount of the green of adaptability and sympathy finds its place. The colours are bright, luminous, in clearly marked bands, the outline is well defined, and the whole astral body conveys the impression of being orderly and under perfect control.

Although we are not in this book dealing with the mental body, yet it should be mentioned that as a man develops, his astral body more and more resembles his mental body, until it becomes little more than a reflection of it in the grosser matter of the astral plane. This, of course, indicates that the man has his desires thoroughly under the control of the mind and is no longer apt to be swept away by surges of emotion. Such a man will no doubt be subject to occasional irritability, and to undesirable cravings of various sorts, but he knows enough now to repress these lower manifestations and not to yield to them.

At a still later stage the mental body itself becomes a reflection of the causal body, since the man now learns to follow solely the promptings of the higher self, and to guide his reason exclusively by them.

Thus the mind body and the astral body of an Arhat would have very little characteristic colour of their own, but would be reproductions of the causal body in so far as their lower octaves could express it. They have a lovely iridescence, a sort of opalescent, mother-of-pearl effect, which is far beyond either description or representation.

A developed man has five rates of vibration in his astral body : an ordinary man shows at least nine rates, with a mixture of various shades in addition. Many people have 50 or 100 rates, the whole surface being broken up into a multiplicity of little whirlpools and cross-currents, all battling one against another [Page 17] in mad confusion. This is the result of unnecessary emotion and worries, the ordinary person of the West being a mass of these, through which much of his strength is frittered away.

An astral body which vibrates fifty ways at once is not only ugly but also a serious annoyance. It may be compared to a physical body suffering from an aggravated form of palsy, with all its muscles jerking simultaneously in different directions. Such astral effects are contagious and affect all sensitive persons who approach, communicating a painful sense of unrest and worry. It is just because millions of people are thus unnecessarily agitated by all sorts of foolish desires and feelings that it is so difficult for a sensitive person to live in a great city or move amongst crowds. The perpetual astral disturbances may even react through the etheric double and set up nervous diseases.

The centres of inflammation in the astral body are to it what boils are to the physical body — not only acutely uncomfortable, but also weak spots through which vitality leaks away. They also offer practically no resistance to evil influences, and prevent good influences from being of profit. This condition is painfully common: the remedy is to eliminate worry, fear and annoyance. The student of occultism must not have personal feelings that can be affected under any circumstances whatever.

Only a young child has a white or comparatively colourless aura, the colours beginning to show only as the qualities develop. The astral body of a child is often a most beautiful object — pure and bright in its colours, free from the stains of sensuality, avarice, ill-will and selfishness. In it may also be seen lying latent the germs and tendencies brought over from his last life (see p. 211), some of them evil, some good, and thus the possibilities of the child's future life may be seen.

The yellow of intellect, found always near the head, is the origin of the idea of the nimbus or glory round [Page 18] the head of a saint, since this yellow is much the most conspicuous of the colours of the astral body, and the one most easily perceived by a person on the verge of clairvoyance. Sometimes, owing to the unusual activity of the intellect, the yellow may become visible even in physical matter, so as to be perceptible to ordinary physical sight.

We have already seen that the astral body has a certain normal arrangement, into which its various portions tend to group themselves. A sudden rush of passion or feeling, however, may temporarily force the whole, or almost the whole, of the matter in an astral body to vibrate at a certain rate, thus producing quite striking results. All the matter of the astral body is swept about as if by a violent hurricane, so that for the time being the colours become very much mixed. Coloured examples of this phenomenon are given in Man Visible and Invisible :—

Plate XI., p. 96, Sudden rush of Affection.
Plate XII., p. 98, Sudden rush of Devotion.
Plate XIII., p. 100, Intense Anger.
Plate XIV., p. 103, Shock of Fear.

In the case of a sudden wave of pure affection, when, for example, a mother snatches up her baby and covers it with kisses, the whole astral body in a moment is thrown into a violent agitation, and the original colours are for the time almost obscured.

Analysis discovers four separate effects: —

(1) Certain coils or vortices of vivid colour are to be seen, well-defined and solid-looking, and glowing with an intense light from within. Each of these is in reality a thought-form of intense affection, generated within the astral body, and about to be poured forth from it towards the object of the feeling. The whirling clouds of living light are indescribably lovely, though difficult to depict.

(2) The whole astral body is crossed by horizontal pulsating lines of crimson light, even more difficult to represent, by reason of the exceeding rapidity of their motion. [Page 19]

(3) A kind of film of rose-colour covers the surface of the whole astral body, so that all within is seen through it, as through tinted glass.

(4) A sort of crimson flush fills the entire astral body, tinging to some extent the other hues, and here and there condensing itself into irregular floating wisps, like half-formed clouds.

This display would probably last only a few seconds, and then the body would rapidly resume its normal condition, the various grades of matter sorting themselves again into their usual zones by their specific gravities. Yet every such rush of feeling adds a little to the crimson in the higher part of the oval and makes it a little easier for the astral body to respond to the next wave of affection which may come.

Similarly, a man who frequently feels high devotion soon comes to have a large area of blue in his astral body. The effects of such impulses are thus cumulative: and in addition the radiation of vivid vibrations of love and joy produce good influences on others.

With the substitution of blue for crimson, a sudden access of devotion, surging over a nun engaged in contemplation, produces an almost identical effect.

In the case of intense anger, the ordinary background of the astral body is obscured by coils or vortices of heavy, thunderous masses of sooty blackness, lit up from within by the lurid glare of active hatred. Wisps of the same dark cloud are to be seen defiling the whole astral body, while the fiery arrows of uncontrolled anger shoot among them like flashes of lightning. These terrible flashes are capable of penetrating other astral bodies like swords and thus inflicting injury upon other people.

In this instance, as in the others, each outburst of rage would predispose the matter of the entire astral body to respond somewhat more readily than before to these very undesirable vibrations.

A sudden shock of terror will in an instant suffuse the whole body with a curious livid grey mist, while horizontal lines of the same hue appear, but vibrating [Page 20] with such violence as to be hardly recognisable as separate lines. The result is indescribably ghastly: all light fades out for the time from the body and the whole grey mass quivers helplessly like a jelly.

A flood of emotion does not greatly affect the mental body, though for a time it may render it almost impossible for any activity from the mental body to come through into the physical brain, because the astral body, which acts as a bridge between the mental body and the brain, is vibrating so entirely at one rate as to be incapable of conveying any undulation which is not in harmony with it.

The above are examples of the effects of sudden and temporary outbursts of feeling. There are other somewhat similar effects of a more permanent character produced by certain dispositions or types of character.

Thus, when an ordinary man falls in love, the astral body is so completely transformed as to make it scarcely recognisable as belonging to the same person. Selfishness, deceit and avarice vanish, and the lowest part of the oval is filled with a large development of animal passions. The green of adaptability has been replaced by the peculiar brownish-green of jealousy, and the extreme activity of this feeling is shown by bright scarlet flashes of anger which permeate it. But the undesirable changes are more than counterbalanced by the splendid band of crimson which fills so large a part of the oval. This is, for the time, a dominant characteristic, and the whole astral body glows with its light. Under its influence the general muddiness of the ordinary astral body has disappeared, and the hues are all brilliant and clearly marked, good and bad alike. It is an intensification of the life in various directions. The blue of devotion is also distinctly improved, and even a touch of pale violet appears at the summit of the ovoid, indicating a capacity of response to a really high and unselfish ideal. The yellow of intellect, however, has entirely vanished for the time — a fact which the cynical might consider as characteristic of the condition ! [Page 21]

The astral body of an irritable man usually shows a broad band of scarlet as a prominent feature, and, in addition, the whole astral body is covered with little floating flecks of scarlet, somewhat like notes of interrogation.

In the case of a miser, avarice, selfishness, deceit and adaptability are naturally intensified, but sensuality is diminished. The most remarkable change, however, is the curious series of parallel horizontal lines across the oval, giving the impression of a cage. The bars are a deep brown in colour, almost burnt sienna.

The vice of avarice seems to have the effect of completely arresting development for the time, and it is very difficult to shake off when once it has gained a firm hold.

Deep depression produces an effect in grey, instead of brown, very similar to that of the miser. The result is indescribably gloomy and depressing to the observer. No emotional condition is more infectious than the feeling of depression.

In the case of a non-intellectual man who is definitely religious, the astral body assumes a characteristic appearance. A touch of violet suggests the possibility of response to a high ideal. The blue of devotion is unusually well developed, but the yellow of intellect is scanty. There is a fair proportion of affection and adaptability, but more than the average of sensuality, and deceit and selfishness are also prominent. The colours are irregularly distributed, melting into one another, and the outline is vague, indicating the vagueness of the devotional man's conceptions.

Extreme sensuality and the devotional temperament are frequently seen in association: perhaps because these types of men live chiefly in their feelings, being governed by them instead of trying to control them by reason.

A great contrast is shown by a man of a scientific type. Devotion is entirely absent, sensuality is much below the average, but the intellect is developed to [Page 22] an abnormal degree. Affection and adaptability are small in quantity and poor in quality. A good deal of selfishness and avarice is present and also some jealousy. A huge cone of bright orange in the midst of the golden yellow of intellect indicates pride and ambition in connection with the knowledge that has been acquired. The scientific and orderly habit of mind causes the arrangement of the colours to fall into regular bands, the lines of demarcation being quite definite and clearly marked.

The student is urged to study for himself the admirable book from which the above information is taken, this being one of the most valuable of the many works produced by that great and gifted writer — C. W. Leadbeater.

As we have been dealing here with colours in the astral body, it may be mentioned that the means of communication with the elementals, which are associated so closely with man's astral body, is by sounds and colours. Students may recollect obscure allusions now and again to a language of colours, and the fact that in ancient Egypt sacred manuscripts were written in colours, mistakes in copying being punished with death. To elementals, colours are as intelligible as words are to men. [Page 23]



THE functions of the astral body may be roughly grouped under three headings: —

1. To make sensation possible.
2. To serve as a bridge between mind and physical matter.
3. To act as an independent vehicle of consciousness and action.

We will deal with these three functions in sequence.

When man is analysed into " principles," i.e., into modes of manifesting life, the four lower principles, sometimes termed the "Lower Quaternary", are :—

Physical Body.
Etheric Body
Prâna, or Vitality.
Kâma, or Desire.

The fourth principle, Kâma, is the life manifesting in the astral body and conditioned by it: its characteristic is the attribute of feeling, which in rudimentary form is sensation, and in complex form emotion, with many grades in between these two. This is sometimes summed up as desire, that which is attracted or repelled by objects, according as they give pleasure or pain.

Kâma thus includes feelings of every kind, and might be described as the passional and emotional nature. It comprises all animal appetites, such as hunger, thirst, sexual desire: all passions, such as the lower forms of love, hatred, envy, jealousy; it is the desire for sentient existence, for experience of material joys — "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life".

Kâma is the brute in us, the "ape and tiger" of Tennyson, the force which most avails to keep us [Page 24] bound to earth and to stifle in us all higher longings by the illusions of sense. It is the most material in man's nature, and is the one that binds him fast to earthly life. " It is not molecularly constituted matter, least of all the human body, Sthûla Sharira, that is the grossest of all our ' principles', but verily the middle principle, the real animal centre; whereas our body is but its shell, the irresponsible factor and medium through which the beast in us acts all its life" (Secret Doctrine,Volume I, pages 280 and 281.

Kâma or Desire is also described as a reflection or lower aspect of Atma or Will, the distinction being that Will is Self-determined, whereas Desire is moved to activity by attractions to or repulsions from surrounding objects. Desire is thus Will discrowned, the captive, the slave of matter.

Another way of regarding Kâma has been well expressed by Mr. Ernest Wood in his illuminating book The Seven Rays: Kâma " means all desire. And desire is the outward-turned aspect of love, the love of the things of the three worlds; while love proper is love of life and love of the divine, and belongs to the higher or inward-turned self."

For our purposes in this book desire and emotion are frequently used as practically synonymous: strictly, however, emotion is the product of desire and intellect.

The astral body is often known as the Kâma Rûpa: and sometimes, in the older nomenclature, as the Animal Soul.

Impacts from without, striking on the physical body, are conveyed as vibrations by the agency of Prâna or Vitality, but they would remain as vibrations only, merely motion on the physical plane, did not Kâma, the principle of sensation, translate the vibration into feeling. Thus pleasure and pain do not arise until the astral centre is reached. Hence Kâma joined to Prâna is spoken of as the "breath of life", the vital sentient principle spread over every particle of the body. [Page 25]

It appears that certain organs of the physical body are specifically associated with the workings of Kâma: among these are the liver and the spleen.

It may be noted here that Kâma, or desire, is just beginning to be active in the mineral kingdom, where it expresses itself as chemical affinity.

In the vegetable kingdom it is, of course, much more developed, indicating a far greater capacity of utilising lower astral matter. Students of botany are aware that likes and dislikes, i.e., desire, are much more prominent in the vegetable world than in the mineral, and that many plants exhibit a great deal of ingenuity and sagacity in attaining their ends.

Plants are quick to respond to loving care and are distinctly affected by man's feelings towards them. They delight in and respond to admiration: they are also capable of individual attachments, as well as of anger and dislike.

Animals are capable to the fullest possible extent of experiencing the lower desires, though the capacity for the higher desires is more limited. Nevertheless it exists, and in exceptional cases an animal is capable of manifesting an exceedingly high quality of affection or devotion.

Passing now to the second function of the astral body — to act as a bridge between mind and physical matter — we note that an impact on the physical senses is transmitted inwards by Prâna, becomes a sensation by the action of the sense-centres, which are situated in Kâma, and is perceived by Manas, or Mind. Thus, without the general action through the astral body there would be no connection between the external world and the mind of man, no connection between physical impacts and the perception of them by the mind.

Conversely, whenever we think, we set in motion the mental matter within us; the vibrations thus generated are transferred to the matter of our astral body, the astral matter affects the etheric matter, this, in turn, acting on the dense physical matter, the grey matter of the brain. [Page 26]

The astral body is thus veritably a bridge between our physical and our mental life, serving as a transmitter of vibrations both from physical to mental and from mental to physical, and is, in fact, principally developed by this constant passage of vibrations to and fro.

In the course of the evolution of man's astral body, there are two distinct stages: the astral body has first to be developed to a fairly high point as a transmitting vehicle: then it has to be developed as an independent body, in which the man can function on the astral plane.

In man, the normal brain-intelligence is produced by the union of Kâma with Manas, or Mind, this union being often spoken of as Kâma-Manas. Kâma-Manas is described by H. P. Blavatsky as " the rational, but earthly or physical intellect of man, encased in, and bound by matter, and therefore subject to the influence of the latter"; this is the "lower self" which, acting on this plane of illusion, imagines itself to be the real Self or Ego, and thus falls into what Buddhist philosophy terms the " heresy of separateness".

Kâma-Manas, that is Manas with desire, has also been picturesquely described as Manas taking an interest in external things.

It may, in passing, be noted that a clear understanding of the fact that Kâma-Manas belongs to the human personality, and that it functions in and through the physical brain, is essential to a just grasp of the process of reincarnation, and is sufficient of itself to show how there can be no memory of previous lives so long as the consciousness cannot rise beyond the brain-mechanism, this mechanism, together with that of Kâma, being made afresh each life, and therefore having no direct touch with previous lives.

Manas, of itself, could not affect the molecules of the physical brain cells: but, when united to Kâma, it is able to set the physical molecules in motion, and thus produce " brain-consciousness", including the brain memory and all the functions of the human [Page 27] mind, as we ordinarily know it. It is, of course, not the Higher Manas, but the Lower Manas, (i.e., matter of the four lower levels of the mental plane), which is associated with Kâma. In Western psychology, this Kâma-Manas becomes a part of what in that system is termed Mind. Kâma-Manas, forming the link between the higher and lower nature in man, is the battleground during life, and also, as we shall see later, plays an important part in post-mortem existence.

So close is the association of Manas and Kâma that the Hindus speak of man having five sheaths, one of which is for all manifestations of working intellect and desire. These five are: -

1 Anandamayakosha the Bliss sheath Buddhi
2 Vignânamayakosha the Discriminating sheath Higher Manas and Kâma
3 Manomayakosha the sheath of Intellect and Desire Lower Manas and Kâma
4 Prânamayakosha the Vitality sheath Prâna
5 Annamayakosha the Food sheath Dense physical body

In the division used by Manu, the prânamayakosha and the annamayakosha are classed together, and known as the Bhûtâtman or elemental self, or body of action.

The vignânamayakosha and the manomayakosha he terms the body of feeling, giving it the name Jîva: he defines it as that body in which the Knower, the Kshetragna, becomes sensible of pleasure and of pains.

In their external relations, the vignânamayakosha and the manomayakosha, especially the manomayakosha, are related to the Deva world. The Devas are said to have "entered into" man, the reference being to the presiding deities of the elements (see page 188). Those presiding deities give rise to sensations in man, changing the contacts from without into [Page 28] sensations, or the recognition of the contacts, from within, this being essentially a Deva action. Hence the link with all these lower Devas, which, when supreme control has been obtained, makes man the master in every region of the Universe.

Manas, or mind, being unable, as said above, to affect the gross particles of the brain, projects a part of itself, i.e., lower Manas, which clothes itself with astral matter, and then with the help of etheric matter permeates the whole nervous system of the child before birth. The projection from Manas is often spoken of as its reflection, its shadow, its ray, and is known also by other allegorical names. H. P. Blavatsky writes (Key to Theosophy, p. 184) : " Once imprisoned, or incarnate, their (the Manas) essence becomes dual; that is to say, the rays of the eternal divine Mind, considered as individual entities, assume a two-fold attribute, which is (a) their essential, inherent, characteristic, heaven-aspiring mind (higher Manas), and (b) the human quality of thinking, of animal cogitation, rationalised owing to the superiority of the human brain, the Kâma-tending or lower Manas".

Lower Manas is thus engulfed in the quaternary, and may be regarded as clasping Kâma with one hand, whilst with the other it retains its hold on its father, the higher Manas. Whether it will be dragged down by Kâma altogether and be torn away from the triad (atmâ-buddhi-manas) to which, by its nature it belongs, or whether it will triumphantly carry back to its source the purified experiences of its earth life — that is the life-problem set and solved in each successive incarnation. This point will be considered further in the chapters on After-Death Life.

Kama thus supplies the animal and passional elements; lower Manas rationalises these and adds the intellectual faculties. In man these two principles are interwoven during life and rarely act separately.

Manas may be regarded as the flame, Kâma and the physical brain as the wick and fuel which feed the flame. The egos of all men, developed or undeveloped, [Page 29] are of the same essence and substance: that which makes of one a great man, and of another a vulgar, silly person, is the quality and make-up of the physical body, and the ability of the brain and body to transmit and express the light of the real inner man.

In brief, Kâma-Manas is the personal self of man: Lower Manas gives the individualising touch that makes the personality recognise itself as "I", Lower Manas is a ray from the immortal Thinker, illuminating a personality. It is Lower Manas which yields the last touch of delight to the senses and to the animal nature, by conferring the power of anticipation, memory and imagination.

Whilst it would be out of place in this book to encroach too far into the domain of Manas and the mental body, yet it may help the student at this stage to add that freewill resides in Manas, Manas being the representative of Mahat, the Universal Mind. In physical man, the Lower Manas is the agent of freewill. From Manas comes the feeling of liberty, the knowledge that we can rule ourselves, that the higher nature can master the lower. To identify the consciousness with the Manas, instead of with Kâma, is thus an important step on the road to self-mastery.

The very struggle of Manas to assert itself is the best testimony that it is by nature free. It is the presence and power of the ego which enables a man to choose between desires and to overcome them. As the lower Manas rules Kâma, the lower quaternary takes its rightful position of subservience to the higher triad — atmâ-buddhi-manas.

We may classify the principles of man in the following manner:—

-1- Âtma Immortal
Higher Manas
-2- Kâma-Manas Conditionally Immortal
-3- Prâna Mortal
Etheric Double
Dense Body


[Page 30] We come now to consider the third function of the astral body — as an independent vehicle of consciousness and action. The full treatment of this portion of our subject — the use, development, possibilities and limitations of the astral body on its own plane — will be dealt with step by step in most of the succeeding chapters. For the present it will suffice to enumerate very briefly the principal ways in which an astral body can be used as an independent vehicle of consciousness. These are as follows : —

1. During ordinary waking consciousness, i.e., while the physical brain and senses are wide-awake, the powers of the astral senses may be brought into action. Some of these powers correspond to the senses and powers of action possessed by the physical body. They will be dealt with in the next chapter, on Chakrams.

2. During sleep or trance it is possible for the astral body to separate itself from the physical body and to move about and function freely on its own plane. This will be dealt with in the chapter on Sleep-Life.

3. It is possible so to develop the powers of the astral body that a man may consciously and deliberately, at any time that he chooses, leave the physical body and pass with unbroken consciousness into the astral body. This will be dealt with in the chapter on Continuity of Consciousness.

4. After physical death the consciousness withdraws itself into the astral body, and a life, varying greatly in intensity and duration, dependent upon a number of factors, may be led on the astral plane. This will be dealt with in the chapters on After-Death Life.

These divisions of our subject, with numerous ramifications, will constitute the major portion of the remainder of this treatise. [Page 31]



THE word Chakram is Sanskrit, and means literally a wheel, or revolving disc. It is used to denote what are often called Force-Centres in man. There are such Chakrams in all man's vehicles, and they are points of connection at which force flows from one vehicle to another. They are also intimately associated with the powers or senses of the various vehicles.

The Chakrams of the etheric body are fully described in The Etheric Double, and the student is referred to that work, as a study of the etheric Chakrams will materially assist him to understand the astral Chakrams.

The etheric Chakrams are situated in the surface of the etheric double and are usually denoted by the name of the physical organ to which they correspond.

They are: —

1. Base of Spine Chakram.
2. Navel Chakram.
3. Spleen Chakram.
4. Heart Chakram.
5. Throat Chakram.
6. Between the Eyebrows Chakram.
7. Top of the Head Chakram.

There are also three lower Chakrams, but as these are used only in certain schools of " black magic," we are not concerned with them here.

The astral Chakrams, which are frequently in the interior of the etheric double, are vortices in four dimensions (see Chapter 18), thus having an extension in a direction quite different from the etheric: consequently, though they correspond to the etheric Chakrams, they are by no means always coterminous with them, though some part is always coincident. [Page 32]

The astral Chakrams are given the same names as those in the etheric double, and their functions are as follows:—

1. Base of Spine Chakram.—This is the seat of the Serpent Fire, Kundalini, a force which exists on all planes and by means of which the rest of the Chakrams are aroused.

Originally, the astral body was an almost inert mass, possessing but the vaguest consciousness, with no definite power of doing anything, and with no clear knowledge of the world surrounding it. The first thing that happened was the awakening of Kundalini at the astral level.

2. Navel Chakram.— Kundalini having been awakened in the first Chakram, it moved to the navel Chakram, which it vivified, thus awakening in the astral body the power of feeling — a sensitiveness to all sorts of influences, though without as yet anything like the definite comprehension that conies from seeing and hearing.

3. Spleen Chakram.—Kundalini then moved to the spleen Chakram, and through it vitalised the whole astral body, this Chakram having as one of its functions the absorption of Prâna, the Vitality Force, which also exists on all planes. The vivification of the spleen Chakram enables the man to travel in his astral body consciously, though with only a vague conception as yet of what he encounters on his journeys.

4. Heart Chakram.—This Chakram enables the man to comprehend and sympathise with the vibrations of other astral entities, so that he can instinctively understand their feelings.

5. Throat Chakram.—This Chakram confers the power in the astral world which corresponds to hearing in the physical world.

6. Between the Eyebrows Chakram.—This Chakram confers the power to perceive definitely the shape and nature of astral objects, instead of merely vaguely sensing their presence.

Associated with this Chakram appears also the power [Page 33] of magnifying at will the minutest physical or astral particle to any desired size, as though by a microscope. This power enables an occult investigator to perceive and study molecules, atoms, etc. The full control of this faculty, however, belongs rather to the causal body.

The power of magnification is one of the siddhis described in Oriental books as "the power of making oneself large or small at will." The description is apposite, because the method employed is that of using a temporary visual mechanism of inconceivable minuteness. Conversely, minification of vision may be obtained by the construction of a temporary and enormously larger visual mechanism.

The power of magnification is quite distinct from the faculty of functioning on a higher plane, just as the power of an astronomer to observe planets and stars is quite a different thing from the ability to move or function amongst them.

In the Hindu sutras it is stated that meditation in a certain part of the tongue will confer astral sight. The statement is a " blind," the reference being to the pituitary body, situated just over this part of the tongue.

7. Top of the Head Chakram.—This Chakram rounds off and completes the astral life, endowing the man with the perfection of his faculties.

There appear to be two methods in which this Chakram works.

In one type of man, the sixth and seventh Chakrams both converge upon the pituitary body, this body being for this type practically the only direct link between the physical and the higher planes.

In another type of man, however, while the sixth Chakram is still attached to the pituitary body, the seventh Chakram is bent or slanted until its vortex coincides with the pineal gland. In people of this type the pineal gland is thus vivified and made into a line of communication directly with the lower mental, without apparently passing through the intermediate astral plane in the ordinary way. [Page 34]

In the physical body, as we know, there are specialised organs for each sense, the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, and so on. In the astral body, however, this is not the case.

The particles of the astral body are constantly flowing and swirling about like those of boiling water: consequently, there are no special particles which remain continuously in any of the Chakrams. On the contrary, all the particles of the astral body pass through each of the Chakrams.

Each Chakram has the function of awakening a certain power of response in the particles, which flow through it, one Chakram the power of sight, another that of hearing, and so on.

Consequently, any one astral sense is not, strictly speaking, localised or confined to any particular part of the astral body. It is rather the whole of the particles of the astral body which possess the power of response. A man, therefore, who has developed astral sight uses any part of the matter of his astral body in order to see, and so can see equally well objects in front, behind, above, below, or to either side. Similarly with all the other senses. In other words, the astral senses are equally active in all parts of the body.

It is not easy to describe the substitute for language by means of which ideas are communicated astrally. Sound in the ordinary sense of the word is not possible in the astral world - in fact it is not possible even in the higher part of the physical world. It would also not be correct to say that the language of the astral world is thought-transference: the most that could be said is that it is the transference of thoughts formulated in a particular way.

In the mental world a though is instantaneously transmitted to the mind of another without any form of words : therefore in the mental world language does not in the least matter. But astral communications lies, as it were, half-way between the thought-transference of the mental world and the concrete speech of the physical, and it is still necessary to [Page 35] to formulate the thought in words. For this exchange it is therefore necessary that the two parties should have a language in common.

The astral and etheric Chakrams are in very close correspondence; but between them, and interpenetrating them in a manner which is not readily describable, there is a sheath or web of closely woven texture, composed of a single layer of physical atoms much compressed and permeated by a special form of Prâna. The divine life which normally descends from the astral body to the physical is so attuned as to pass through this shield with perfect ease, but it is an absolute barrier to all the forces which cannot use the atomic matter of both planes. The web is natural protection to prevent a premature opening up of communication between the planes, a development which could lead to nothing but injury.

It is this which normally prevents clear recollection of the sleep-life, and which also causes the momentary unconsciousness which always occurs at death. But for this provision the ordinary man could at any moment be brought by any astral entity under the influence of forces with which he could not possibly cope. He would be liable to constant obsession by astral entities desirous of seizing his vehicles.

The web may be injured in several ways : -

1- A great shock of the astral body, e.g., a sudden fright, may rend apart this delicate organism and, as it is commonly expressed, drive the man mad.

A tremendous outburst of anger may also produce the same effect, as may any other very strong emotion of an evil character which produces a kind of explosion in the astral body.

2- The use of alcohol or narcotic drugs, including tobacco. These substances contain matter which on braking up volatilises, some of it passing from the physical to the astral plane. Even tea and coffee contain this matter, but only in infinitesimal quantities, so that only long-continued abuse of them would produce the effect. [Page 36]

These constituents rush through the Chakras in the opposite direction to that for which they are intended, and in doing this repeatedly they seriously injure and finally destroy the delicate web.

This deterioration or destruction may take place in two ways, according to the type of person concerned and to the proportion of the constituents in his etheric and astral bodies.

In one type of person the rush of volatilising matter actually burns away the web, and therefore leaves the door open to all sorts of irregular forces and evil influences. Those affected in this way fall into delirium tremens, obsession of insanity.

In the other type of person, the volatile constituents, in flowing through, somehow harden the atom so that its pulsation is to a large extent checked and crippled, and it is no longer capable of being vitalised by the particular type of Prâna which welds it into a web. This results in a kind of ossification of the web, so that instead of too much coming through from one plane to another, we have very little of any kind coming through. Such subjects tend to a general deadening down of their qualities, resulting in gross materialism, brutality and animalism, in the loss of all finer feelings and of the power to control themselves. This type is said to be very common amongst slaves of the tobacco habit.

All impressions which pass from one plane to the other are intended to come only through the atomic sub-planes, but when the deadening process takes place it infects not only other atomic matter, but even matter of the second and third sub-planes, so that the only communication between the astral and the etheric is from the lower sub-planes, upon which only unpleasant and evil influences are to be found.

The consciousness of the ordinary man cannot yet use pure atomic matter, either of the physical or astral and therefore there is normally for him no possibility of conscious communication at will between the two planes. The proper way to obtain it is to purify the vehicles [Page 37] until the atomic matter in both is fully vivified, so that all communications between the two may pass by that road. In that case the web retains to the fullest degree its position and activity, and yet is no longer a barrier to the perfect communication, while it still continues to prevent close contact with the lower and undesirable sub-planes.

3 - The third way in which the web may be injured is that known in spiritualistic parlance as "sitting for development".

It is quite possible, in fact very common, for a man to have his astral Chakras well developed, so that he is able to function freely on the astral plane, and yet he may recollect nothing of his astral plane when he returns to waking consciousness. With this phenomenon and its explanation we shall deal more appropriately in the Chapter on Dreams. [Page 38]



The student is referred to The Etheric Double for a description of Kundalini with special reference to the etheric body and its Chakras. Here we are concerned with it in connection with the astral body.

The three known forces which emanate from the Logos are: -

1. Fohat : which shows itself as electricity, heat, light motion, etc.

2. Prâna ; which shows itself as vitality.

3. Kundalini : also known as the Serpent Fire.

Each of these three forces exists on all planes of which we know anything. So far as is known, no one of the three is convertible into any of the others: they each remain separate and distinct.

Kundalini is called in The Voice of the Silence  "the Fiery Power", and "the World's Mother". The first, because it appears like liquid fire as it rushes through the body; and the course it should follow is a spiral one, like the coils of a serpent. It is called the World's Mother because through it our various vehicles may be vivified, so that the higher worlds may open before us in succession.

Its home in man's body is the Chakram at the base of the spine, and for the ordinary man it lies there unawakened and unsuspected during the whole of his life. It is far better for it to remain dormant until the man has made definite moral development, until his will is strong enough to control it and his thoughts pure enough to enable him to face its awakening without injury. No one should experiment with it without definite instruction from a teacher who thoroughly understands the subject, for the dangers [Page 39] connected with it are very real and terribly serious. Some of them are purely physical. Its uncontrolled movement often produces intense physical pain, and it may readily tear tissues, and even destroy physical life. It may also do permanent injury to vehicles higher than the physical.

One very common effect of rousing it prematurely is that it rushes downwards in the body instead of upwards, and thus excites the most undersirable passions - excites them and intensifies their effects to such a degree that it becomes quite impossible for the man to resist them, because a force has been brought into play in whose presence he is quite helpless. Such men becomes satyrs, monsters of depravity, the force being beyond the normal human power of resistance. They may probably gain certain supernormal powers, but these will be such as will bring them into touch with a lower order of evolution, with which humanity is intended to hold no commerce, and to escape from its thralldom may take more than one incarnation.

There is a school of black magic which purposely uses this power in this way, in order that through it may be vivified those lower Chakrams which are never used by followers of the Good Law.

The premature unfoldment of Kundalini has other unpleasant possibilities. It intensifies everything in the man's nature, and it reaches the lower and evil qualities more readily than the good. In the mental body, ambition is very readily aroused, and soon swells to an incredibly inordinate degree. It would probably bring with it a great intensification of intellect, accompagnied by abnormal and satanic pride, such as is quite inconceivable to the ordinary men.

An uninstructed man who finds that Kundalini has been aroused by accident should at once consult some one who fully understands these matters.

The arousing of Kundalini - the method of doing which is not publicly known - and the attempt to pass it through the Chakrams - the order of which is [Page 40] also deliberately concealed from the public - should never be attempted except at the express suggestion of a Master, who will watch over His pupil during the various stages of the experiment.

The most solemn warnings are given by experienced occultists against in any way attempting to arouse Kundalini, except under qualified tuition, because of the real and great dangers involved. As is said in the Hathayogapradipika ; "It gives liberation to Yogis and bondage to fools". (III, 107).

In some cases Kundalini wakes spontaneously, so that a dull glow is felt: it may even begin to move of itself, though this rare. In this latter case it would be likely to cause great pain, as, since the passages are not prepared for it, it would have to clear its way by actually burning up a great deal of etheric dross, which is necessarily a painful process. When it thus awakes of itself or is accidentally aroused, it usually tries to rush up the interior of the spine, instead of following the spiral course into which the occultist is trained to guide it. If it be possible, the will should be set in motion to arrest its onward rush, but if that proves to be impossible, as is most likely, no alarm need be felt. It will probably rush out through the head and escape into the surrounding atmosphere, and it is likely that no harm will result beyond a slight weakening. Nothing worse than a temporary loss of consciousness need be apprehended. The worst dangers are connected, not with its upward rush, but with its turning downwards and inwards.

Its principal function in connection with occult development is that by being sent through the Chakrams in the etheric body, it vivifies these Chakras between the physical and astral bodies. It is said in The Voice of the Silence that when Kundalini reaches the centre between the eyebrows and fully vivifies it, it confers the power of hearing the voice of the Master - which means, in this case, the voice of the ego or higher self. The reason is that when [Page 41] the pituitary body is brought into working order it forms a perfect link with the astral vehicle, so that through it all communications from within can be received.

In addition, all the higher Chakrams have to be awakened, in due course, and each must be made responsive to all kinds of astral influences from the various astral sub-planes. Most people cannot gain this during the present incarnation, if it is the first in which they have begun to take these matters seriously in hand. Some Indians might succeed in doing so, as their bodies are by heredity more adaptable than most others : but it is for the majority of men the work of a later Round altogether.

The conquest of Kundalini has to be repeated in each incarnation, since the vehicles are new each time, but after it has been once achieved these repetitions will be an easy matter. Its action will vary with different types of people. Some would see the higher self rather than hear its voice. Also this connection with the higher has many stages; for the personality it means the influence of the ego : but for the ego himself it means the power of the monad : and for the monad in turn it means to become a conscious expression of the Logos.

There does not appear to be any age limit with regard to the arousing of Kundalini: but physical health is a necessity owing to the strain involved.

An ancient symbol was the thyrsus - that is, a staff with a pie-cone on its top. In India the same symbol is found, but instead of the staff, a stick of bamboo with seven knots is used. In some modifications of the mysteries a hollow iron rod, said to contain fire, was used instead of the hyrsus. The staff, or stick, with seven knots represents the spinal cord, with its seven Chakrams. The hidden fire is, of course, Kundalini. The thyrsus was not only a symbol, but also an object of practical use. It was a very strong magnetic instrument, used by initiates to free the astral body from the physical when they passed in [Page 42] full consciousness to this higher life. The priest who had magnetised it laid it against the spinal cord of the candidate and gave him in that way some of his own magnetism, to help him in that difficult life and in the efforts which lay before him. [Page 43]



The mental and astral bodies are those chiefly concerned with the production of what are called thought-forms. The term thought-form is not wholly accurate, because the forms produced may be composed of mental matter, or, in the vast majority of cases, of both astral and mental matter.

Although in this book we are dealing primarily with the astral, and not with the mental body, yet thought-forms, as just said, are, in a vast majority of cases, both astral and mental. In order, therefore, to make the subject intelligible, it is necessary to deal very largely with the mental as well as with the astral aspect of the subject.

A purely intellectual and impersonal thought - such as one concerned with algebra or geometry - would be confined to mental matter. It on the other hand the thought has in it something of selfish or personal desire,it will draw round itself astral matter in addition to the mental. If, furthermore,the thought be of a spiritual nature,if it be tinged with love and aspiration or deep and unselfish feeling, then there may also enter in some of the splendour and glory of the buddhic plane.

Every definite thought produces two effects: first, a radiating vibration: second, a floating form.

The vibration set up in and radiating from the mental body is accompanied with a play of colour which has been described as like that in the spray of a waterfall as the sunlight strikes it, raised to the nth degree of colour and vivid delicacy.

This radiating vibration tends to reproduce its own rate of motion in any mental body on which it may [Page 44] impinge: I.e., to produce thoughts of the same type as those from which the vibration originated. It should be noted that the radiating vibration carries, not the subject of the thought, but its character. Thus, the waves of thought-emotion radiating from a Hindu sitting rapt in devotion to Shri Krishna would tend to stimulate devotional feeling in any who came under its influence, not necessarily towards Sri Krishna, but, in the case of a Christian, to the Christ, in the case of a Buddhist, to the Lord Buddha: and so on.

The power of the vibration to produce such effects depends principally upon the clearness and definiteness of the thought-emotion, as well, of course, as upon the amount of force put into it.

These radiating vibrations become less effective in proportion to the distance from their source, though it is probable that the variation is proportional to the cube of the distance instead of (as with gravitation and other physical forces) to the square, because of the additional (fourth) dimension involved.

The distance to which a thought-wave can radiate effectively also depends upon the opposition with which it meets. Waves in the lower types of astral matter are usually soon deflected or overwhelmed by a multitude of other vibrations at the same level, just as a soft sound is drowned in the roar of a city.

The second effect, that of a floating form, is caused by the mental body throwing off a vibrating portion of itself shaped by the nature of the thought, which gathers round itself matter of the corresponding order of fineness from the surrounding elemental essence (see page 6) of the mental plane, This is a thought-form pure and simple, being composed of mental matter only.

If made of the finer kinds of matter, it will be of great power and energy, and may be used as a most potent agent when directed by a strong and steady will.

When the man directs his energy towards external objects of desire, or is occupied with passional or [Page 45] emotional activities, a similar process takes place in his astral body : a portion of it is thrown off and gathers round itself elemental essence of the astral plane. Such thought-desire forms are caused by Kâma-Manas, the mind under the dominion of the animal nature, Manas dominated by Kâma

Such a thought-desire form has for its body the elemental essence, and for its animating soul, as it were, the desire or passion which threw it forth. Both these thought-desire forms, and also purely mental thought-forms, are called artificial elementals. The vast majority of ordinary thought-forms are of the former type, as few thoughts of ordinary men and women are untinged with desire, passion or emotion.

Both mental and astral elemental essence, which possess a half-intelligence life of their own, respond very readily to the influence of human thought and desire: consequently every impulse sent out, either from a man's mental body or from his astral body, is immediately clothed in a temporary vehicle of elemental essence. These artificial elementals thus become for the time a kind of living creature, entities of intense activity animated by the one idea that generated them. They are, in fact,often mistaken by untrained psychics or clairvoyants for real living entities.

Thus, when a man thinks of a concrete object - a book,house, landscape, etc. - he builds a tiny image of the object in the matter of his mental body. This image floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man, and at about the level of the eyes. It remains there as long as the man is contemplating the object, and usually for a little time afterwards, the length of life depending upon the intensity and the clearness of the thought. The form is quite objective and can be seen by another person possessed of mental sight. If a man thinks of another person he creates a tiny portrait in just the same way.

Thought-forms have been usefully compared to a Leyden jar (a vessel charged with static electricity), [Page 46] the jar itself corresponding to the elemental essence and the electric charge to the thought-emotion. And just as a Leyden jar when it touches another object discharges its stored electricity into that object, so does an artificial elemental, when it strikes a mental or astral body, discharge its stored mental and emotional energy into that body.

The principles which underlie the production of all thought-emotion forms are : -

1. Colour is determined by the quality of the thought or emotion.

2. Form is determined by the nature of the thought or emotion.

3. Clearness of Outline is determined by the definiteness of the thought or emotion.

The life-period of a thought-form depends upon [1] its initial intensity; [2] the nutriment afterwards supplied to it by a repetition of the thought, either by the generator or by others. Its life may be continually reinforced by this repetition, a thought which is brooded over acquiring great stability of form. So again thought-forms of similar character are attracted to and mutually strengthen each other, making a form of great energy and intensity.

Furthermore, such a thought-form appears to possess instinctive desire to prolong its life,and will react on its creator, tending to evoke from him renewal of the feeling which created it. It will react in a similar, though not so perfect, manner on any others with whom it may come into contact.

The colours in which thought-forms express themselves are identical with the colours found in the aura, vide page 11-12.

The brilliance and dept of the colours are usually a measure of the strength and the activity of the feeling.

For our present purpose we may classify thought-forms into three kinds : (1) those connected solely with their originator : (2) those connected with another person : (3) those not definitely personal [Page 47]

If a man's thought is about himself, or based on a personal feeling, as the vast majority of thoughts are, the form will hover in the immediate neighbourhood of its generator. Any time, then, when he is in a passive condition, his thoughts and feelings not being specifically occupied, his own thought-form will return to him and discharge itself upon him. In addition, each man also serves as a magnet to draw towards himself the thought-forms of others similar to his own, thus attracting towards himself reinforcements of energy from outside. People who are becoming sensitive have sometimes imagined, in such cases, that they have been tempted by the "devil", whereas it is their own thoughts-desire forms which are the cause of the "temptation". Long brooding over the same subject may create a thought-form of tremendous power. Such a form may last for many years and have for a time all the appearance and powers of real living entity. Most men move through life enclosed literally within a cage of their own building, surrounded by masses of forms created by their habitual thoughts. One important effect of this is that each man looks out upon the world through his own thought-forms, and thus sees everything tinged by them.

Thus a man's own thought-forms re-act upon him, tending to reproduce themselves and thus setting up definite habits of thought and feeling, which may be helpful if of a lofty character, but are often cramping and a hindrance to growth,obscuring the mental vision and facilitating the formation of prejudice and fixed moods or attitudes which may develop into definite vices.

As a Master has written: "Man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowed with the offspring of his fancies, desires, impulses and passions. "These thought-forms remain in his aura, increasing in number and intensity, until certain kinds of them so dominate his mental and emotional life that the man rather answers to their [Page 48] impulse than decides anew: thus are habits, the outer expression of his stored-up force, created, and thus is character built.

Moreover, as each man leaves behind him a trail of thought-forms, it follows that as we go along a street we are walking amidst a sea of other men's thoughts. If a man leaves his mind blank for a time, these thoughts of others drift through it : if one happens to attract his attention, his mind seizes upon it, makes it its own, strengthening it by the addition of its force, and then casts it out again to affect somebody else. A man, therefore, is not responsible for a thought which floats into his mind, but he is responsible if he takes it up, dwells upon it, and then sends it out again strengthened.

An example of thought-forms is that of the shapeless clouds of heavy blue which may often be seen rolling along like wreaths of dense smoke over the heads of the congregation of a church. In churches when the level of spirituality is a low one, the minds of the men may create rows of figures, representing their calculations of business deals or speculations, while the minds of the women may create pictures of millinery, jewellery, etc..

Hypnotism provides another example of thought-forms. The operator may make a thought-form and project it on to blank paper,where it may become visible to his hypnotised subject: or he may make the form so objective that the subject will see and feel it as thought it were an actual physical object. The literature of hypnotism is full of such examples.

If the thought-form is directed towards another person, it will go to that person. Either of two effects may then result. (1) If in the aura of the person concerned there is material capable of responding sympathetically to the vibration of the thought-form, then the thought-form will remain near the person, or even in his aura, and, as opportunity serves, automatically discharge itself, thus tending to strengthen in the person that particular rate of vibration. If the person [Page 49] at whom a thought form is aimed happens to be busy, or already engaged in some definite train of thought, the thought form, being unable to discharge itself into the man's mental body, which is already vibrating at a certain determinate rate, hangs in the vicinity until the man's mental body is sufficiently at rest to permit its entrance, when it immediate discharges itself.

In doing this it will display what appears like a very considerable amount of intelligence and adaptability, though really it is a force acting a long the line of least resistance - pressing steadily in one direction all the time, and taking advantage of any channel that it can find. Such elementals can, of course, be strengthened and their life-period extended by repetition of the same thought.

(2) If, on the other hand, there is in the person's aura no matter capable of response, then the thought-form cannot affect it at all. It will therefore rebound from it, with a force proportional to the energy with which impinged upon it, and return to and strike its creator.

Thus, for example,the thought of the desire for drink could not enter the body of a purely temperate man. It would strike upon his astral body, but it could not penetrate and it would then return to the sender.

The old saying that "Curses (to which might be added blessings) come home to roost" conveys this truth and explains cases where, as many have known, evil thoughts directed to a good and highly advanced man affect such a man not at all, but re-act, sometimes with terrible and devastating effect, on their creator. Hence also the obvious corollary that a pure heart and mind are the best protection against inimical assaults of feeling and thought.

On the other hand, a thought-form of love and of desire to protect, strongly directed to some beloved objects, acts as a shielding and protecting agent : it will seek all opportunities to serve and defend, will [Page 50] strengthen friendly forces and weaken unfriendly ones, that impinge on the aura. It may protect its objects from impurity, irritability, fear, etc.

Friendly thoughts and earnest good wishes thus create and maintain what is practically a "guardian angel" always at the side of the person thought of, no matter where he may be. Many a mother's thoughts and prayers, for example, have given assistance and protection to her child. They may often be seen by clairvoyants, and in rare cases they may even materialise and become physically visible.

It is thus apparent that a thought of love sent from one person to another involves the actual transference of a certain amount both of force and of matter from the sender to the recipient.

If the thought is sufficiently strong, distance makes absolutely no difference to it: but a weak and diffused thought is not effective outside a limited area.

A variant of our first group consists of those cases where a man thinks strongly of himself in a distant place. The form thus created contains a large proportion of mental matter, takes the image of the thinker, and is at first small and compressed. It draws around itself a considerable amount of astral matter and usually expands to life size before it appears at its destination. Such forms are often seen by clairvoyants, and not infrequently are mistaken for the man's astral body or even for the man himself.

When this takes place, the thought or desire must be sufficiently strong to do one of three things: (1) To call up by mesmeric influence the image of the thinker in the mind of the person to whom he wishes to appear: (2) by the same power to stimulate for the moment that person's psychic faculties so that he is able to see the astral visitor; (3) to produce a temporary materialisation which will be physically visible.

Apparitions at the time of death, which are by no means uncommon, are very often really the astral form of the dying man: but they may also be thought-forms called into being by his earnest wish to see some friend [Page 51] before he passes on. In some instances the visitor is perceived just after the moment of death, instead of just before : but for various reasons this form of apparition is far less frequent than the other.

A family ghost may be (1) a thought-form, (2) an unusually vivid impression in the astral light, or (3) a genuine earth-bound ancestor still haunting some particular place.

In this connection, it may be added that wherever any intense passion has been felt, such as terror, pain, sorrow, hatred, etc., so powerful an impression is made on the astral light that persons with but a faint glimmer of psychic faculty may be impressed by it. A slight temporary increase of sensibility would enable a man to visualise the entire scene: hence many stories of haunted places, and of the unpleasant influences of such spots as Tyburn Tree, the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's, etc..

Apparitions at the spot where a crime was committed are usually thought-forms projected by the criminal who, whether living or dead, but most especially when dead, is perpetually thinking over again and again the circumstances of his actions. Since these thoughts are naturally specially vivid in his mind on the anniversary of his crime, it may happen that the thought-form is strong enough to materialise itself so as to be visible to physical sight, thus accounting for many cases where the manifestation is periodical.

Similarly, a jewel, which has been the cause of many crimes, may retain the impressions of the passions prompting the crimes, with unimpaired clearness, for many thousands of years, and continue to radiate them.

A thought of phenomenal energy and concentration, whether it be a blessing or a curse, calls into being an elemental which is practically a living storage-battery with a kind of clockwork attachment. It can be arranged to discharge itself regularly at a certain our daily, or upon a certain anniversary, or its discharge maybe contingent upon certain occurrences. Many instances of this class of elemental are on record, [Page 52] particularly in the Highlands of Scotland, where physical warnings occur before the death of a member of the family. In these cases it is usually the powerful thought-form of an ancestor which gives the warning, according to the intention with which it was charged.

A sufficiently strong wish - a concentrated effort of intense love or envenomed hate - would create such an entity once for all, an entity which would then be quite disconnected from its creator, and would carry on its appointed work entirely irrespective of later intentions and desire on his part. Mere repentance could not recall it or prevent its action any more than repentance could stop a bullet once discharged. Its power could be to a considerable extent neutralised only by sending after it thoughts of a contrary tendency.

Occasionally an elemental of this class, being unable to expend its force either upon its object or its creator, may become a kind of wandering demon, and be attracted by any person who harbours similar feelings. If sufficiently powerful, it may even size upon and inhabit a passing shell (see page 171), in which it is able to husband its resources more carefully. In this form it may manifest through a medium, and, by masquerading as a well-known friend, may obtain influence over people upon whom it would otherwise have little hold.

Such elementals, whether formed consciously or unconsciously, which have become wandering demons, invariably seek to prolong their life, either by feeding like vampires upon the vitality of human beings, or by influencing them to make offerings to them. Among simple half-savage tribes they have frequently succeeded in getting themselves recognised as village or family gods. The less objectionable types may be content with offerings of rice and cooked foods : the lowest and most loathsome class demand blood-sacrifices. Both varieties exist today in India, and in greater numbers in Africa.

By drawing mainly upon the vitality of their [Page 53] devotees, and also upon the nourishment they can obtain from the offerings, they may prolong their existence for years, or even centuries. They may even perform occasional phenomena of a mild type in order to stimulate the faith and zeal of their followers, and they invariably make themselves unpleasant in some way or other if the sacrifices are neglected.

The black magicians of Atlantis - the "lords of the dark face" - seems to have specialised in this type of artificial elementals, some of which, it is hinted, may have kept themselves in existence even to this day. The terrible Indian goddess, Kâli, may well be a relic of this type.

The vast majority of thought-forms are simply copies or images of people or other material objects. They are formed first within the mental body and then pass outwards and remain suspended before the man. This applies to anything about which one may be thinking : persons, houses, landscapes, or anything else.

A painter, for example, builds out of the matter of his mental body a conception of his future picture, projects it into space in front of him, keeps it before his "mind's eye", and copies it. This thought and emotion-form persists and may be regarded as the unseen counterpart of the picture, radiating out its own vibrations and affecting all who come within its influence.

Similarly a novelist builds in mental matter images of his characters, and then, by his will, moves these puppets from one position or grouping to another, so that the plot of the story is literally acted out before him.

A curious effect arises in such a case. A playful nature-spirit (See Chapter 20) may ensoul the images and cause them to do things other than those which the author intended them do to. More frequently a dead writer may perceive the images and, being still interested in the craft of writing, may mould the characters and influence their actions according to his [Page 54] own ideas. The actual writer thus often finds his plots working themselves out according to a plan quite different from his original conception.

In reading a book, it is possible for a genuine student, with attention fully concentrated, to get into touch with the original thought-form which represents the author's conception as he wrote. Through the thought-form the author himself may even be reached, and additional information thus obtained, or light gained on difficult points.

There are in the mental and astral worlds many renderings of well-known stories, each nation usually having its special presentation, with the characters dressed in its own particular national garb. There thus exist excellent and life-like thought-forms of people like Sherlock Holmes, Captain Kettle, Robinson Crusoe, Shakespeare's characters, etc..

In fact, there are on the astral plane vast numbers of thought-forms of a comparatively permanent character, often the result of the cumulative work of generations of people. Many of these refer to alleged religious history, and the sight of them by sensitive people is responsible for many quite genuine accounts given by untrained seers and seeresses. Any great historical event, having been constantly thought of, and vividly imaged by large numbers of people, exists as a definite thought-form on the mental plane, and wherever there is any strong emotion connected with it, it is materialised also in astral matter and consequently can be seen by a clairvoyant.

The above applies equally, of course, to scenes and situations in fiction, drama, etc..

Considered in the mass, it is easy to realise the tremendous effect that these thought-forms or artificial elementals have in producing national and race-feelings, and thus in biasing and prejudicing the mind : for thought-forms of a similar kind have a tendency to aggregate together and form a kind of collective entity. We see everything through this atmosphere, every thought is more or less refracted by it, and our own [Page 55] astral bodies are vibrating in accord with it. As most people are receptive rather than initiative in their nature, they act almost as automatic reproducers of the thoughts which reach them, and thus the national atmosphere is continually intensified. This fact obviously explains many of the phenomena of crowd-consciousness (See Chapter 25)

The influence of these aggregated thought-forms extends still further. Thought-forms of a destructive type act as a disruptive agent and often precipitate havoc on the physical plane, causing "accidents", natural convulsions, storms, earthquakes,floods, or crime, disease, social upheavals and wars.

It is possible also for dead people and other non-human entities, such as mischievous nature-spirits, (see page 181) for example, to enter and vivify these thought-images. The trained seer has to learn to distinguish the thought-form, even when vivified, from the living being, and prominent facts of the astral world from the temporary moulds into which they are cast.

Our third class of thought-emotion forms consists of those which are not directly connected with any natural objects, and which therefore express themselves in forms entirely their own, displaying their inherent qualities in the matter which they draw around themselves. In this group, therefore, we have a glimpse of the forms natural to the astral and mental planes. Thought-forms of this class almost invariably manifest themselves on the astral plane, as the vast majority of them are expressions of feeling as well as of thought.

Such a form simply floats detached in the atmosphere, all the times radiating vibrations similar to those originally sent forth by its creator. If it does not come into contact with any other mental body, the radiation gradually exhausts its store of energy and the form then falls to pieces; but if it succeeds in awakening sympathetic vibrations in any mental body near at hand, an attraction is set up, and the thought-form is usually absorbed by that mental body. [Page 56]

From the above we see that the influence of a thought-form is less far-reaching than that of a thought-vibration, but it acts with much greater precision. A thought-vibration reproduces thoughts of an order similar to that which gave it birth. A thought-form reproduces the same thought. The radiations may affect thousands and stir in them thoughts of the same level as the original, though none of them may be identical with it. The thought-form can affect only very few, but in those few cases it will reproduce exactly the initiatory idea.

For pictorial, coloured illustrations of many kinds of thought and emotion forms, the student is referred to the classic work on the subject: Thought-Forms, by Annie Besant and C.W.Leadbeater This whole chapter, indeed, is largely a condensed summary of the principles enunciated in that work.

Vague thoughts or feelings show themselves as vague clouds. Definite thought or feelings create clearly defined forms. Thus a form of definite affection directed to a a particular individual shapes itself not unlike a projectile: a thought of protective affection becomes somewhat like a bird, with a central portion of yellow and two wing-shaped projections of rose-pink: a thought of universal love becomes a rose-pink sun with rays in every direction.

Thoughts in which selfishness or greed are prominent usually take a hooked form, the hooks in some case actually clawing round the object desired.

As a general principle, the energy of a selfish thought moves in a closed curve, and thus inevitably returns and expends itself upon its own level. An absolutely unselfish thought or feeling, however, rushes forth in an open curve, and thus does not return, in the ordinary sense, but pierces through into the plane above, because only in that higher condition, with its additional dimension,can it find room for its expansion. But, in thus breaking through, such a thought or feeling opens a door, as we might say symbolically, of dimension equivalent to its diameter, and thus provides a [Page 57] channel through which the higher planes can pour themselves into the lower - often with wonderful results, as in the case of prayer, both for the thinker and for others.

Herein lies the highest and best part of the belief in answers to prayer. On the higher planes there is an infinite flood of force always ready and waiting to be poured through when a channel is offered. A thought of perfectly unselfish devotion provides such a channel, the grandest and noblest part of such a thought ascending to the Logos Himself. The response from Him is a descent of the divine life, resulting in a great strengthening and uplifting of the maker of the channel, and the spreading all about him of a powerful and beneficent influence, which flows through the reservoir that exists on the higher planes for the helping of mankind. It is this adding to the reservoir of spiritual force which is the truth in the catholic idea of works of supererogation. The Nirmânakâyas are especially associated with this great reservoir of force.

Meditation upon a Master makes a link with Him, which shows itself to clairvoyant vision as a kind of line of light. The Master always subconsciously feels the impinging of such a line, and sends out along it in response a steady stream of magnetism which continues to play long after the meditation is over. Regularity in such meditation is a very important factor.

A thought of definite, well-sustained devotion may assume a form closely resembling a flower, whilst devotional aspiration will create a blue cone, the apex pointing upwards.

Such thought-forms of devotion are often exceedingly beautiful, varying much in outline, but characterised by curved upward-pointing petals like azure flames. It is possible that the flower-like characteristic of devotion forms may have led to the custom of offering flowers in religious worship, the flowers suggesting the forms visible to astral sight. [Page 58]

Intense curiosity, or desire to know, takes the form of a yellow snake: explosive anger or irritation, of a splash of red and orange: sustained anger, of a sharp, red stiletto: spiteful jealousy shows itself as a brownish snake.

Forms produced by people who have mind and emotion well under control and definitely trained in meditation, are clear, symmetrical objects of great beauty, often taking well-known geometrical forms, such as triangles, two triangles interlaced, five-pointed stars, hexagons, crosses, and so on, these indicating thoughts concerned with cosmic order, or metaphysical concepts.

The power of the united thought of a number of people is always far more than the sum of their separate thoughts: it would be more nearly represented by their product.

Music also produces forms which are perhaps not technically thought-forms - unless we take them, as we them, as we well may, as the result of the thought of the composer, expressed by the skill of the musician through his instrument.

These music forms will vary according to the type of music, the kind of instrument which plays it, and the skill and merits of the performer. The same piece of music will, if accurately played, always build the same form, but that form will, when played on a church organ or by an orchestra, be enormously larger than, as well as of different texture from that produced when played upon a piano. There will also be a difference in texture between the result of a piece of music played upon a violin and the same piece executed upon a flute. There is also a wide difference between the radiant beauty of the form produced by a true artist, perfect expression and execution, and the relatively dull effect produced by a wooden and mechanical player.

Music forms may remain as coherent erections for a considerable time - an hour or two at least - and during all that time they are radiating their characteristics [Page 59] vibrations in every direction, just as thought-forms do.

In Thought-Forms three coloured examples are given, of music forms build by music of Mendelssohn, of Gounod, and of Wagner respectively.

The forms which are built vary much with different composers. An overture by Wagner makes a magnificent whole, as though he built with mountains of flame for stones. One of Bach's fugues builds up an ordered form, bold yet precise, rugged but symmetrical, with parallel rivulets of silver and gold or ruby running through it, marking the successive appearances of the motif. One of Mendelssohn's Lieber ohne Worte makes an airy erection, like a castle of filigree work in frosted silver.

These forms, created by the performers of the music, are quite distinct from the thought-forms made by the composer himself, which often persist for many years, even for centuries, if he is so far understood and appreciated that his original conception is strengthened by the thoughts of his admirers. Similar edifices are constructed by a poet's idea of his epic, or a writer's conception of his subject. Sometimes crowds of nature-spirits (see page 181) may be seen admiring the music -forms and bathing in the waves of influence which they send forth.

In studying pictorial representations of thought-forms it is important to bear in mind that thought-forms are four-dimensional objects. It is therefore a practical impossibility to describe them adequately in words which pertain to our ordinary three-dimensional experiences, still less to portray them in two-dimensional pictures on paper. Students of the fourth dimension will realise that the most that can be done is to represent a section of the four-dimensional forms.

It is remarkable, and possibly deeply significant fact,that many of the higher types of thought-forms assume shapes closely resembling vegetable and animal forms. We thus have at least a presumption that the forces of nature work along lines somewhat similar [Page 60] to those along which thought and emotion work. Since the whole universe is a mighty thought-form called into existence by the Logos, it may well be that tiny parts of it also result from the thought-forms of minor entities engaged in the same creative work. This conception naturally recalls the Hindu belief that there are 330,000,000 Devas.

It is also worthy of notice that, whilst some of the thought-forms are so complicated and so exquisitely fashioned as to be beyond the power of the human hand to reproduce, yet they may be very closely approximated by mechanical means. The instrument, known as a Harmonograph, consists of a fine point guided in its path by several pendulums, each of which has its own independent swing, all of these being welded into one composite movement, which is communicated to the pointer, and which the pointer registers on a suitable surface.

Other, though simpler forms, resemble the sand figures produced by the well-known Chladni's sound plate or by the Eidophone [vide Eidophone Voice Figures, by Margaret Watts Hughes).

Scales and arpeggios thrown out lasso-like loops and curves: a song with a chorus produces a number of beads strung on a silver thread of melody : in a glee or part-song intertwining threads of different colours and textures are produced. A processional hymn builds a series of precise rectangular forms, like the links of a chain or the carriages of a railway train. An Anglican chant makes glittering fragments, quite different from the glowing uniformity of the Gregorian tone, which is not unlike the effect of Sanskrit verses chanted by an Indian pandit.

Military music produces a long stream of rhythmically vibrating forms, the regular beat of these undulations tending to strengthen those of the astral bodies of the soldiers, the impact of a succession of steady and powerful oscillations supplying for the time the place of the will-force which, through fatigue, may have been slackened. [Page 61]

A thunderstorm creates a flaming band of colour, a crash making a form suggestive of an exploding bomb, or an irregular sphere with spikes projecting from it. Sea-waves breaking on the shore create wavy, parallel lines of changing colour, becoming mountain ranges in a storm. Wind in the leaves of forest covers it with iridescent network, rising and falling with gentle wave-like movement.

The song of birds shows as curving lines and loops of light, from the golden globes of the campanero to the amorphous and coarsely-coloured mass of the scream of a parrot or macaw. The roar of a lion is also visible in higher matter and it is possible that some wild creatures are able to see it clairvoyantly, thus adding to their terror. A purring cat surrounds itself with concentric rosy cloud-films: a barking dog shoots forth well-defined sharp-pointed projectiles not unlike a rifle bullet, which pierce the astral bodies of people and seriously disturb them. The bay of a bloodhound throws off beads like footballs, slower in motion and less liable to injure. The colour of these projectiles is usually red or brown, varying with the emotion of the animal and the key of his voice.

The lowing of a cow produces blunt-ended clumsy shapes like logs of wood. A flock of sheep makes a many-pointed yet amorphous cloud not unlike a dust-cloud. The cooing of a pair of doves makes graceful curved forms like the letter S reversed.

Turning to human sounds, an angry ejaculation throws itself forth like a scarlet spear: a stream of silly chatter produces an intricate network of hard brown-grey metallic lines, forming an almost perfect barrier against any higher or more beautiful thoughts and feelings. The astral body of a garrulous person is a striking object-lesson on the folly of unnecessary, useless and unpleasant speech.

A child's laughter bubbles forth in rosy curves: the guffaw of an empty-minded person causes an explosive effect in an irregular mass, usually brown or dirty green. A sneer throws out a shapeless projectile [Page 62] of dull red, usually flecked with brownish-green and bristling with sharp points.

The cachinations of the self-conscious produce the appearance and colour of a pool of boiling mud. Nervous giggles creates a sea-weed like tangle of brown and dull yellow lines, and have a very bad effect upon the astral body. A jolly, kindly laugh billows out in rounded forms of gold and green. A soft and musical whistle produces an effect not unlike that of a small flute, but sharper and more metallic. Tuneless whistling sends out small piercing projectiles of dirty brown.

Fidgetiness or fussiness produces in the aura tremulous vibrations, so that no thought or feeling can pass in or out without distortion, even good through that is being sent out taking with it a shiver that practically neutralises it. Accuracy in thought is essential, but it should be attained not by hurry or fuss but by perfect calmness.

The strident screech of a railway engine makes a far more penetrating and powerful projectile than even the bark of a dog, producing upon the astral body an effect comparable to that of a sword thrust upon the physical body. An astral wound heals in a few minutes, but the shock to the astral organism disappears by no means so readily.

The firing of a gun produces a serious effect upon astral currents and astral bodies. Rifle or pistol fire throws out a stream of small needles.

Repeated noises affect the mental and astral bodies precisely as blows affect the physical body. In the physical body the result would be pain: in the astral body it means irritability: in the mental body a feeling of fatigue and inability to think clearly.

It is abundantly clear that all loud, sharp or sudden sounds should, as far as possible, be avoided by any one who wishes to keep his astral and mental vehicles in good order. Especially disastrous is the effect, e.g., of the ceaseless noise and roar of a city upon the plastic astral and mental bodies of children. [Page 63]

All the sounds of nature blend themselves into one tone, called by the Chinese the "Great Tone", or KUNG. This also has its form, a synthesis of all forms, vast and changeful as the sea, representing the note of our earth in the music of the spheres. This is said by some writers to be the note F of our scale.

It is, of course, possible to destroy a thought-form, and this is sometimes done, for example, where a person after death is pursued by a malignant thought-form, created probably by the hate of those whom the person had injured whilst in the physical world. Although such a thought-form may appear almost as a living creature - an instance is given where it resembled a huge distorted gorilla - it is simply a temporary creation of evil passion and in no sense an evolving entity, so that to dissipate it is simply like destroying a Leyden jar, and it is not in any sense a criminal action.

Most men recognise that acts which injure others are definitely and obviously wrong, but few recognise that it is also wrong to feel jealousy, hatred, ambition, etc., even though such feelings are not expressed in speech or deed. An examination of the conditions of life after death (Chapters 13 to 15) reveals that such feelings injure the man who harbours them, and cause him acute suffering after death.

A study of thought-forms thus brings home to the earnest student the tremendous possibilities of such creations, and the responsibility attaching to a right use of them. Thoughts are not only things, but exceedingly puissant things. Every one is generating them unceasingly night and day. Often it is not possible to render physical aid to those in need, but there is no case in which help may not be given by thought, or in which it can fail to produce a definite result. No one need hesitate to use this power to the full: provided always that it be employed for unselfish purposes, and for furthering the divine scheme of evolution. [Page 64]



In Chapter 2 we considered, in general outline, the composition and structure of the astral body. We shall now proceed to study it, in greater detail, as it exists and is used during the ordinary waking consciousness of the physical body.

The factors which determine the nature and quality of the astral body during physical life may be roughly grouped as follows: -

1- The physical life.
2- The emotional life.
3- The mental life

1- The Physical Life. - We have already seen (page 8) that every particle of the physical body has its corresponding astral "counterpart". Consequently, as the solids, liquids, gases and ethers of which the physical is composed may be coarse or refined, gross or delicate, so will be the nature of the corresponding astral envelopes. A physical body nourished on impure food will produce a corresponding impure astral body, whilst a physical body fed on clean food and drink will help to purify the astral vehicle.

The astral body being the vehicle of emotion, passion and sensation, it follows that an astral body of the grosser type will be chiefly amenable to the grosser varieties of passion and emotion: whereas a finer astral body will more readily vibrate to more refined emotions and aspirations.

It is impossible to make the physical body coarse and at the same time to organise the astral and mental bodies for finer purposes: neither is it possible to have a pure physical body with impure mental and astral bodies. All three bodies are thus interdependent. [Page 65]

Not only the physical body, but also the higher bodies also, are affected by the food which is eaten. Carnivorous diet is fatal to anything like real occult development and those who adopt it are throwing serious and unnecessary difficulties in their own way, for flesh food intensifies all the undesirable elements and passions of the lower planes.

In the ancient Mysteries were men of the utmost purity and they were invariably vegetarian. The Râja Yogi takes especial pains to purify the physical body by an elaborate system of food, drink, sleep, etc., and insists on foods which are sâtvic, or "rhythmic". A whole system relating to foodstuffs is built up to help in the preparation of the body for use by the higher consciousness. Flesh foods are rajâsic, i.e., they come under the quality of activity, being stimulants, and built up to express animal desires and activities. They are utterly unsuited to the finer type of nervous organisation. The yogi therefore cannot afford to use these for the higher processes of thought.

Foods on the way to decay, such as game, venison, etc., as well as alcohol, are tamâsic, or heavy, and also to be avoided.

Foods which tend to growth, such as grain and fruits, are sâtvic, or rhythmic, being the most highly vitalised and suitable for building up a body sensitive and at the same time strong.

Certain other substances also affect the physical and astral bodies detrimentally. Thus tobacco permeates the physical body with impure particles, causing emanations so material that they are frequently perceptible to the sense of smell, Astrally, tobacco not only introduces impurity, but tends also to deaden the sensibility of the body: "soothing the nerves", as it is called. While this may, in conditions of modern life, be sometimes less harmful than leaving the nerves "unsoothed", it is certain undesirable for an occultist, who needs the capacity of answering instantly to all possible vibrations, combined, of course, with perfect control. [Page 66]

Similarly, there is no doubt whatever that from the point of view of both astral and mental bodies the use of alcohol is always an evil.

Bodies fed on flesh and alcohol are liable to be thrown out of health by opening up of the higher consciousness: and nervous diseases are partly due to the fact that the human consciousness is trying to express itself through bodies clogged with flesh products and poisoned with alcohol. In particular, the pituitary body is very readily poisoned by even a very small amount of alcohol, and its highest evolution is thereby checked. It is the poisoning of the pituitary body with alcohol that leads to the abnormal and irrational vision associated with delirium tremens.

In addition to the direct coarsening of the physical and astral bodies, meat, tobacco and alcohol are open also to the serious objection that they tend to attract undesirable astral entities which take pleasure in the scent of blood and spirits: they surge around the person, impressing their thoughts upon him, forcing their impressions on his astral body, so that the person may have a kind of shell of objectionable entities hanging on to his aura. Principally for this reason, in the Yoga of the Right Hand Path meat and wine are absolutely forbidden.

These entities consist of artificial elementals, given birth to by the thoughts and desires of men, and also of depraved men imprisoned in their astral bodies, known as elementaries (see page 145). The elementals are attracted towards people whose astral bodies contain matter congenial to their nature, while the elementaries naturally seek to indulge in vices such as they themselves encouraged while in physical bodies. An astral clairvoyant can see hordes of loathsome elementals crowding round butchers' shops, whilst in beer-houses and gin-palaces elementaries specially gather, feasting on the emanation of the liquors,and thrusting themselves sometimes into the very bodies of the drinkers.

Nearly all drugs - such as opium, cocaine, [Page 67] theine in tea, caffeine in coffee, etc. - produce a deleterious effect upon the higher vehicles. Occasionally they are, of course, almost a necessity, in certain diseases: but an occultist should use them as sparingly as possible.

One who knows how to do it can remove the evil effect of opium (which may have been used to relieve great pain) from the astral and mental bodies after it has done its work on the physical.

Dirt of all kinds is also more objectionable in the higher worlds even than in the physical and attracts a low class of nature-spirits (see page 181). The occultist therefore needs to be stringent in all matters of cleanliness. Especial attention should be paid to the hands and feet, because through these extremities emanations flow out so readily.

Physical noises, such as prevail in cities, jar the nerves and thus cause irritations and fatigue: the effect is accentuated by the pressure of so many astral bodies vibrating at different rates, and all excited and disturbed by trifles. Although such irritation is superficial, and may pass out of the mind in ten minutes, yet an effect may be produced in the astral body lasting for forty-eight hours. Hence it is difficult, whilst living in modern cities, to avoid irritability, especially for one whose bodies are more highly strung and sensitive than those of the ordinary man.

In general, it may be said that everything which promotes the health of the physical body also reacts favourably upon the higher vehicles.

Travel is another of the many factors which affect the astral body, by bringing to bear on the traveller a change of etheric and astral influences connected with each place or district. Ocean, mountain, forest, waterfall, each has its own special type of life, astral and etheric as well as visible, and therefore its own set of influences. Many of these unseen entities are pouring out vitality, and in any case their effect on etheric, astral and mental bodies is likely to be healthy and desirable in the long run, though a change may be somewhat tiring at the time. Hence an occasional [Page 68] change from town to country is beneficial on the ground of emotional as well as physical health.

The astral body may also be affected by such objects as talismans. The methods of making them have already been described in The Etheric Double, pages 113 to 119. We shall here deal only with their general effects.

When an object is strongly charged with magnetism for a particular purpose by a competent person, it becomes a talisman, and when properly made continues to radiate this magnetism with unimpaired strength for many years.

It may be used for many purposes. Thus, for example, a talisman may be charged with thoughts of purity, which will express themselves as definite rates of vibration in astral and mental matter. These vibratory rates, being directly contrary to thoughts of impurity, will tend to neutralise or overpower any impure thought which may arise. In many cases the impure thought is a casual one that has been picked up and is not therefore a thing of great power in itself. The talisman, on the other hand, has been intentionally and strongly charged, so that when the two streams of thought meet, there is not the slightest doubt that the thoughts connected with the talisman will vanquish the others.

In addition, the initial conflict between the opposing sets of thoughts will attract the man's attention, and thus give him time to recollect himself, so that he will not be taken off this guard, as so frequently happens.

Another example would be that of a talisman charged with faith and courage. This would operate in two ways. First, the vibrations radiating from the talisman would oppose feelings of fear as soon as they arose, and thus prevent them from accumulating and strengthening one another, as they often do, until they become irresistible. The effect has been compared to that of a gyroscope which, once set in motion in one direction, strongly resists being turned into another direction.

Secondly, the talisman works indirectly upon the [Page 69] mind of the wearer: as soon as he feels the beginnings of fear, he will probably recollect the talisman, and call up the reserve strength of his own will to resists the undesirable feeling.

A third possibility of a talisman is that of its being linked with the person who made it. In the event of the wearer being in desperate circumstances, he may call upon the maker and evoke a response from him. The maker may or may not be physically conscious of the appeal, but in any case his ego will be conscious and will respond by reinforcing the vibrations of the talisman.

Certain articles are to a large extent natural amulets or talismans. All precious stones are such, each having a distinct influence which can be utilised in two ways: (1) the influence attracts to it elemental essence of a certain kind, and thoughts and desires which naturally express themselves through that essence; (2) these natural peculiarities make it a fit vehicle for magnetism which is intended to work along the same line as those thoughts and emotions. Thus, for example, for an amulet of purity, a stone should be chosen whose natural undulations are inharmonious to the key in which impure thoughts express themselves.

Although the particles of the stone are physical, yet, being in a key identical at this level with the key of purity on higher levels, they will, even without the stone being magnetised, check impure thought or feeling by virtue of the overtones. Furthermore, the stone can readily be charged at astral and mental levels with the undulations of pure thought and feeling which are set in the same key.

Other examples are (1) the rudraksha berry, frequently used for necklaces in India, which is especially suitable for magnetisation where sustained holy thought or meditation is required, and where all disturbing influences are to be kept away; (2) the beads of the tulsi plant, whose influence is somewhat different.

Objects which produce strong scents are natural talismans. Thus the gums chosen for incense give [Page 70] out radiations favourable to spiritual and devotional thought, and do not harmonise with any form of disturbance or worry. Mediaeval witches sometimes combined the ingredients of incense so as to produce the opposite effect, and it is also done today in Luciferian ceremonies. It is generally desirable to avoid coarse and heavy scents, such as that of musk or of satchet powder, as many of them are akin to sensual feelings.

An object not intentionally charged may sometimes have the force of a talisman: e.g., a present from a friend, worn on the person, such as a ring or chain, or even a letter.

An object, such as a watch, habitually carried in the pocket, becomes charged with magnetism and is able, if given away, to produce decided effects on the recipient. Coins and money notes are usually charged with mixed magnetism, feeling and thought, and may, therefore, radiate a disturbing and irritating effect.

A man's thoughts and feelings thus affect not only himself and other people, but also impregnate the inanimate objects round him, even walls and furniture. He thus unconsciously magnetises these physical objects, so that they have the power of suggesting similar thoughts and feelings to other people within range of their influence.

(2) The Emotional Life. - It is scarcely necessary to insist that the quality of the astral body is largely determined by the kind of feelings and emotions which constantly play through it.

A man is using his astral body, whether he be conscious of the fact or not, whenever he expresses an emotion, just as he is using his mental body whenever he thinks, or his physical body whenever he performs physical work. This, of course, is quite a different thing from utilising his astral body as an independent vehicle through which his consciousness can be fully expressed, a matter which we shall have to consider later, in due course.

The astral body, as we have seen, is the field of manifestation of desire, the mirror in which every feeling [Page 71] is instantly reflected, in which even every thought which has in it anything that touches the personal self must express itself. From the material of the astral body bodily form is given to the dark "elementals" (se page 45), which men create and set in motion by evil wishes and malicious feelings: from it also are bodied forth the beneficent elementals called into life by good wishes, gratitude and love.

The astral body grows by use, just as every other body does, and it also has its own habits, built up and fixed by constant repetition of similar acts. The astral body during physical life being the recipient of and respondent to stimuli both from the physical body and from the lower mental, it tends to repeat automatically vibrations to which it is accustomed; just as the hand may repeat a familiar gesture, so may the astral body repeat a familiar feeling or thought.

All the activities that we call evil, whether selfish thoughts (mental) or selfish emotions (astral), invariably show themselves as vibrations of the coarser matter of those planes, whist good and unselfish thought or emotion sets in vibrations the higher types of matter. As finer matter is more easily moved than coarse, it follows that a given amount of force spent in good thought or feeling produces perhaps a hundred times as much result as the same amount of force sent out into coarser matter. If this were not so, it is obvious that the ordinary man could never make any progress at all.

The effect of 10% of force directed to good ends enormously outweighs that of 90% devoted to selfish purposes, and so on the whole such a man makes an appreciable advance from life to life. A man who has even 1% of good makes a slight advance. A man whose account balances exactly, so that he neither advances nor retrogresses, must live a distinctly evil life: whilst in order to go downwards in evil a person must be an unusually consistent villain.

Thus even people who are doing nothing consciously towards their evolution, and who let everything go as [Page 72] it will, are nevertheless gradually evolving, because of the irresistible force of the Logos which is steadily pressing them onwards. But they are moving so slowly that it will take them millions of years of incarnation and trouble and uselessness to gain even a step.

The method by which progress is made certain is simple and ingenious. As we have seen, evil qualities are vibrations of the coarser matter of the respective planes, while good qualities are expressed through the higher grades of matter. From this follow two remarkable results.

It must be born in mind that each sub-plane of the astral body has a special relationship to the corresponding sub-plane of the mental body; thus the four lower astral sub-planes correspond to the four kinds of matter in the mental body, while the three higher astral sub-planes correspond to the three kinds of matter in the causal body.

Hence the lower astral vibrations can find no matter in the causal body capable of responding to them, and so the higher qualities alone can be built into the causal body. Thence it emerges that any good which a man develops in himself is permanently recorded by a change in his causal body, while the evil which he does, feels, or thinks cannot possibly touch the real ego, but can cause disturbance and trouble only to the mental body, which is renewed for each fresh incarnation. The result of evil is stored in the astral and mental permanent atoms: the man, therefore, has still to face it all over and over again, until he has vanquished it, and finally rooted from his vehicles all tendency to respond to it. That is evidently a very different matter from taking it into the ego and making it really a part of himself.

Astral matter responds more rapidly that physical to every impulse form the world of mind, and consequently the astral body of a man, being made of astral matter, shares this readiness to respond to the impact of thought, and thrills in answer to every thought [Page 73] that strikes it, whether the thoughts come from without, i.e., from the minds of other men, or from within, from the mind of its owner.

An astral body, therefore, which is made by its owner to respond habitually to evil thoughts acts as a magnet to similar thought - and emotion-forms in its vicinity, whereas a pure astral body acts on such thoughts with repulsive energy, and attracts to itself thought - and emotion-forms of matter and vibrations congruous with its own.

For it must be borne in mind that the astral world is full of thoughts and emotions of other men, and that these exert a ceaseless pressure, constantly bombarding every astral body and setting up in it vibrations similar to their own.

In addition, there are nature-spirits (see page 181) of a low order, which enjoy the coarse vibrations of anger and hatred, and throw themselves into any current of such nature, thus intensifying the undulations and adding fresh life to them. People yielding themselves to coarse feelings can depend on being constantly surrounded by such carrion-crows of the astral world who jostle one another in eager anticipation of an outburst of passion.

Many of the moods to which most people are subject, in greater or lesser degree, are due to outside astral influences. Whilst depression, for example, may be due to a purely physical cause, such as indigestion, a chill, fatigue, etc., even more frequently it is caused by the presence of an astral entity who is himself depressed and is hovering around either in search of sympathy or in the hope of drawing from the subject the vitality which he lacks.

Furthermore, a man who, for example, is beside himself with rage, temporarily loses hold of his astral body, the desire-elemental (see page 6) becoming supreme. Under such circumstances the man may be seized upon and obsessed either by a dead man of similar nature or by some evil artificial elemental. [Page 74]

The student should sternly and especially disregard depression, which is a great barrier to progress, and at least should endeavour to let no one else know that he is oppressed by it. It indicates that he is thinking more of himself than of the Master, and it makes it more difficult for the Master's influence to act upon him. Depression causes much suffering to sensitive people, and is responsible for much of the terror of children at night. The inner life of an aspirant ought not to be one of continual emotional oscillation.

Above all things, the aspirant should learn not to worry. Contentment is not incompatible with aspiration. Optimism is justified by the certainty of the ultimate triumph of good, though it is true that if we take into account only the physical plane it is not easy to maintain that position.

Under the stress of very powerful emotions, if a man lets himself go too far, he may die, become insane, or be obsessed. Such obsession need not necessarily be what we call evil, though the truth is that all obsession is injurious.

An illustration of this phenomenon may be taken from "conversion" at a religious revival. On such occasions some men get worked up into a condition of such tremendous emotional excitement that they swing beyond the degree of safety: they may then be obsessed by a departed preacher of the same religious persuasion, and thus two souls may be temporarily work through one body. The tremendous energy of these hysterical excesses is contagious and may spread rapidly through a crowd.

An astral disturbance is set up of the nature of a gigantic whirlpool. Towards this pour astral entities whose one desire is for sensation: these are all kinds of nature-spirits (see page 181) who delight in and bathe in the vibrations of wild excitement, of whatever character, be it religious or sexual, just as children pay in the surf. They supply and reinforce the energy so recklessly expended. The dominant idea being usually the selfish one of saving one's own soul, [Page 75] the astral matter is of a coarse kind, and the nature-spirits are also of a primitive type.

The emotional effect of a religious revival is thus very powerful. In some cases a man may be genuinely and permanently benefited by his "conversion", but the serious student of occultism should avoid such excesses of emotional excitement, which for many people are apt to be dangerous. "Excitement is alien to the spiritual life".

There are, of course, many causes of insanity: it may be due to defects in one or more of the vehicles - physical, etheric,astral, mental. In one variety it is caused by a want of accurate adjustment between the astral particles and the particles of either the etheric or the mental body. Such a case would not recover sanity until he reached the heaven-world, i.e., until he had left his astral body and passed into his mental body. This type of insanity is rare.

The effect on the astral body caused by astral vibrations of another astral body has long been recognised in the East, and is one of the reasons why it is such an immense advantage to a pupil to live in close proximity to one more highly evolved than himself. An Indian teacher not only may prescribe for his pupil special kinds of exercises or study, in order to purify, strengthen and develop the astral body, but also by keeping the pupil in his neighbourhood physically seeks by this close association to harmonise and attune the pupil's vehicles to his own. Such a teacher has already calmed his own vehicles and accustomed them to vibrate at a few carefully selected rates instead of in a hundred promiscuous frenzies. These few rates of vibration are very strong and steady, and each day and night, whether he is sleeping or waking, they play unceasingly upon the vehicles of the pupil, and gradually raise him to his teacher's key.

For similar reasons, an Indian, who wishes to live the higher life, retires to the jungle, as a man of other races withdraws from the world and lives as a hermit. He thus has at least breathing space, and rest from [Page 76] from the endless conflict caused by the perpetual battering on his vehicles of other people's feelings and thoughts, and can find time to think coherently. The calm influences of Nature are also to a certain extent helpful.

Somewhat analogous are the effects produced on animals which are closely associated with human beings. The devotion of an animal for the master whom he loves, and his mental efforts to understand his master's wishes and to please him, enormously develop the animal's intellect and his power of devotion and affection. But in addition to this, the constant play of the man's vehicles on those of the animal greatly assist the process, and thus prepare the way for the animal to individualise and become a human entity.

It is possible, by an effort of will, to make a shell of astral matter on the periphery of the astral aura. This may be done for three purposes: (1) to keep out emotional vibrations, such as anger, envy or hatred, intentionally directed at one by another; (2) to keep out casual vibrations of low type which may be floating in the astral world and impinge upon one's aura; (3) to protect the astral body during meditation. Such shells do not usually last for long, but need to be frequently renewed if required for any length of time.

Such a shell would, of course,keep vibrations in as well as out. The student should therefore make the shell only of the coarsest astral matter, as he will not wish to keep away, or to prevent from passing outwards, vibrations in the higher types of astral matter.

As a general principle, it may be said that to use a shell for oneself is to some extent a confession of weakness, as if one is all one should be, no artificial protection of this kind would be needed. On the other hand, shells may often be used with advantage to help other people who need protection.

It will be recollected (see page 6) that a man's astral body consists not only of ordinary astral matter, but also of a quantity of elemental essence. During the [Page 77] man's life this elemental essence is segregated from the ocean of similar matter around, and practically becomes for that time what may be described as a kind of artificial elemental (see page 450 i.e., a kind of semi-intelligent separate entity known as the Desire-Elemental. The Desire-Elemental follows the course of its own evolution downwards into matter without any reference to (or, indeed, any knowledge of) the convenience or intention of the Ego to whom it happens to be attached. Its interests are thus diametrically opposed to those of the man, as it is seeking ever stronger and coarser vibrations. Hence the perpetual struggle described by St.Paul as "the law in the members warring against the law of the mind". Furthermore, finding that association with the mental matter of the man's mind-body brings to it more vivid vibrations, it endeavours to stir up the mental matter into sympathy with it, and to induce the man to believe that he desires the sensations which it desires.

Consequently, it becomes a sort of tempter. Nevertheless the desire-elemental is not an evil entity: in fact it is not an evolving entity at all, having no power of reincarnation: it is only the essence of which it is composed which is evolving.Nor has this shadowy being any evil designs upon the man, for it knows nothing whatever of the man of whom, for the time, it forms a part. It is thus in no way a fiend to the regarded with horror, but is as much a part of the divine life as the man himself, though at a different stage of its unfoldment.

It is a mistake to imagine that by refusing to gratify the desire-elemental with coarse vibrations, a man is thereby checking its evolution: for this is not the case. By controlling the passions and developing the higher qualities, a man drops the lower and helps to evolve the higher types of essence: the lower kinds of vibrations can be supplied by an animal, at some later time, even better than by a man, whereas no one but a man can evolve the higher type of essence.

All through life a man should definitely fight against [Page 78] the desire-elemental and its tendency to seek for the lower, coarser physical vibrations, recognising quite clearly that its consciousness, its like and dislikes, are not his own. He has himself created it and should not become a slave to it, but learn to control it and realise himself as apart from it.

This matter will be further considered in Chapter 12.

3) The Mental Life. - Our third and last factor which affects the astral body during ordinary waking consciousness is the mental life. The mental activities have the most far-reaching effects on the astral body for two reasons: -

(1) Because lower mental matter, Manas, is so inextricably linked with astral matter, Kâma, that it is almost impossible for most people to utilise one without the other: i.e., few people can think without at the same time feeling, or feel without at the same time, to some extent, thinking.

(2) Because the organisation and control of the astral body rest with the mind. This is an example of the general principle that each body is built up by consciousness working in the plane next above it. Without the creative power of thought the astral body cannot be organised.

Every impulse sent by the mind to the physical body has to pass through the astral body, and produces an effect on it also. Further, as astral matter is far more responsive to thought-vibrations than is physical, the effect of mental vibrations on it is proportionately greater than on the physical body. Consequently a controlled, trained and developed mind tends also to bring the astral body under control and to develop it. When, however, the mind is not actively controlling the astral body, the latter, being peculiarly susceptible to the influence of passing thought-currents, is perpetually receiving these stimuli from without, and eagerly responding to them.

So far, we have dealt with the general effects produced on the astral body, during ordinary life, by the nature of the physical, emotional and mental life. [Page 79] We have now to deal, but in general outline only, with the use of the special faculties of the astral body itself, during the waking consciousness.

The nature of these faculties, and their connection with the various Chakrams in the astral body, we have already described in Chapter 5. By means of the powers of astral matter itself, developed through the agency of the Chakrams, a man is enabled not only to receive vibrations from etheric matter, transmitted through the astral body to his mind, but also to receive impressions direct from the surrounding matter of the astral world, these, of course, being also similarly transmitted through the mental body to the real man within.

But in order to receive impressions in this manner direct from the astral world, the man must learn to focus his consciousness in his astral body, instead of, as is usually the case, in his physical brain.

In the lower types of men, Kâma, or desire, is still emphatically the most prominent feature, though the mental development has also proceeded to some extent. The consciousness of such men is centred in the lower part of the astral body, their life being governed by sensations connected with the physical plane. That is the reason why the astral body forms the most prominent part of the aura in the undeveloped man.

An ordinary man of our own race is also still living almost entirely in his sensations, although the higher astral is coming into play: but still, for him, the prominent question which guides his conduct is not what is right or reasonable to do, but simply what he himself desires to do. The more cultured and developed are beginning to govern desire by reason: that is to say, the centre of consciousness is gradually transferring itself from the higher astral to the lower mental. Slowly as the man progresses it moves up further still, and the man begins to be dominated by principle rather than be interest and desire.

The student will recollect that humanity is still [Page 80] in the Fourth Round, which should naturally be devoted to the development of desire and emotion; yet we are engaged in the unfolding of intellect, which is to be the special characteristic of the Fifth Round. That this is so is due to the immense stimulus given to our evolution by the descent of the Lords of the Flame from Venus, and by the work of the Adepts, who have preserved for us that influence and steadily sacrificed themselves in order that we might make the better progress.

It should also be recollected that, in the smaller cycle of races,the Fifth Root Race is working at the mind-body, whereas the Fourth Root Race is more especially concerned with the astral body.

In spite of the fact that, in the vast majority of cases the centre of consciousness is located in the astral body, most men are quite unaware of the fact, knowing nothing at all about the astral body or its uses. They have behind them the traditions and customs of a long series of lives in which the astral faculties have not been used; yet all the time those faculties have been gradually and slowly growing inside a shell, somewhat as a chick grows inside the egg. Hence a very large number of people have astral faculties, of which they are entirely unconscious, in reality very near the surface, so to speak, and its probable that in the near future, as these matters become more widely known and understood, in great numbers of cases these latent faculties will break through, and astral powers will then become far more common than they are today.

The shell spoken of above is composed of a great mass of self-centred thought in which the ordinary man is almost hopelessly entombed. This applies also, perhaps with even greater force, to the sleep life,with which we shall deal in the next chapter.

We spoke above of focusing the consciousness in the astral body. The consciousness of man can be focused in only one vehicle at a time, though he may be simultaneously conscious through the others in a vague way. [Page 81] a simple analogy may be taken from ordinary physical sight. If the finger be held up before the face, the eyes can be so focussed as to see the finger perfectly: at the same time the distant background can also be seen, though imperfectly, because it is out of focus. In a moment the focus can be changed so that the background is seen perfectly, but the finger, now out of focus, only dimly and vaguely.

Precisely in the same way, if a man who has developed astral and mental consciousness focuses himself in the physical brain, as in ordinary life, he will see perfectly the physical bodies of people, and at the same time he will see their astral and mental bodies, but only somewhat dimly.In far less than a moment he can change the focus of his consciousness so that he sees the astral fully and perfectly: but in that case he will see the mental and physical bodies also, but not in full detail. The same thing is true of the mental sight and of the sight of higher planes.

Thus in the case of a highly developed man, whose consciousness has already developed even beyond the causal (higher mental) body, so that he is able to function freely on the buddhic plane, and has also a measure of consciousness upon the âtmic plane, the centre of consciousness lies between the higher mental and the buddhic plane. The higher mental and the higher astral are in him much more developed than their lower parts, and though he still retains his physical body, he holds it merely for the convenience of working in it, and not in any way because his thoughts and desires are fixed there. Such a man has transcended all Kâma which could bind him to incarnation, and his physical body is therefore retained in order that it may serve as an instrument for the forces of the higher planes to reach down even to the physical plane.[Page 82]



The real cause of sleep would appear to be that the bodies grow tired of one another. In the case of the physical body, not only every muscular exertion, but also every feeling and thought, produce certain slight chemical changes. A healthy body is always trying to counteract these changes, but it never quite succeeds whilst the body is awake. Consequently with every thought, feeling or action there is a slight, almost imperceptible loss, the cumulative effect of which eventually leaves the physical body too exhausted to be capable of further thought or work. In some cases even a few moments of sleep will be sufficient for recuperation, this being effected by the physical elemental.

In the case of the astral body, it very soon becomes tired of the heavy labour of moving the particles of the physical brain, and needs a considerable period of separation from it to enable it to gather strength to resume the irksome task.

On its own plane, however, the astral body is practically incapable of fatigue, since it has been known to work incessantly for twenty-five years without showing signs of exhaustion.

Although excessive and long-continued emotion tires a man very quickly in ordinary life, it is not the astral body which becomes fatigued, but the physical organism though which the emotion is expressed or experienced.

Similarly with the mental body. When we speak of mental fatigue, it is in reality a misnomer, for it is the brain, not the mind, that is tired. There is no such thing as fatigue of the mind. [Page 83]

When a mean leaves his body in sleep (or in death), the pressure of the surrounding astral matter - which really means the force of gravity on the astral plane - immediately forces other astral matter into the astrally empty space. Such a temporary astral counterpart is an exact copy, so far as arrangement is concerned, of the physical body, but nevertheless it has no real connection with it, and could never be used as a vehicle. It is merely a fortuitous concurrence of particles, drawn from any astral matter of a suitable kind that happens to be at hand. When the true astral body returns, it pushes out this other astral matter without the slightest opposition.

This is clearly one reason why extreme care should be exercised as to the surroundings in which a man sleeps: for, if those surrounding are evil, astral matter of an objectionable type may fill the physical body while the man's astral body is absent, leaving behind influences which cannot but react unpleasantly upon the real man when he returns.

When a man "goes to sleep", his higher principles in their astral vehicle withdraw from the physical body, the dense body and the etheric body remaining by themselves on the bed, the astral body floating in the air above them. In sleep, then, a man is simply using his astral body instead of his physical: it is only the physical body that is asleep, not necessarily the man himself.

Usually the astral body, thus withdrawn from the physical, will retain the form of the physical body, so that the person is readily recognisable to any one who knows him physically. This is due to the fact that the attraction between the astral and the physical particles, continued all through physical life, sets up a habit or momentum in the astral matter, which continues even while it is temporarily withdrawn from the sleeping physical body.

For this reason, the astral body of a man who is asleep will consist of a central portion corresponding [Page 84] to the physical body, relatively very dense, and a surrounding aura, relatively much rarer.

In the case of a very undeveloped man, such as a savage, he may be nearly as much asleep as his physical body, because he is capable of very little definite consciousness in his astral body. He is also unable to move away from the immediate neighbourhood of the sleeping physical body, and if an attempt were made to draw him away in his astral body, he would probably awake in his physical body in terror.

His astral body is a somewhat shapeless mass, a floating wreath of mist, roughly ovoid in shape, but very irregular and indefinite in outline: the features and shape of the inner form (the dense astral counterpart of the physical body) are also vague, blurred and indistinct, but always recognisable.

A man of this primitive type has been using his astral body, during waking consciousness, sending mind currents through the astral to the physical brain. But when, during sleep, the physical brain is inactive, the astral body, being undeveloped, is incapable of receiving impressions on its own account, and so the man is practically unconscious, being unable to express himself clearly through the poorly organised astral body. The centres of sensation in it may be affected by passing thought-forms, and he may answer in it to stimuli that rouse the lower nature. But the whole effect given to the observer is one of sleepiness and vagueness, the astral body lacking all definite activity and floating idly, inchoate, above the sleeping physical form.

In a quite unevolved person, therefore, the higher principles, i.e., the man himself, are almost as much asleep as the physical body.

In some cases the astral body is less lethargic, and floats dreamily about on the various astral currents, occasionally recognising other people in a similar condition, and meeting with experiences of all sorts, pleasant and unpleasant, the memory of which, hopelessly confused and often travestied into a grotesque [Page 85] caricature of what really happened (See Chapter 10 on Dreams) will cause the man to think next morning what a remarkable dream he has had.

In the case of a more evolved man, there is a very great difference. The inner form is much more distinct and definite - a closer reproduction of the man's physical appearance. Instead of the surrounding mist-wreath, there is a sharply defined ovoid form preserving its shape unaffected amidst all the varied currents which are always swirling around it on the astral plane.

A man of this type is by no means unconscious in his astral body, but is quite actively thinking. Nevertheless, he may be taking very little more notice of his surroundings than the savage. Not because he is incapable of seeing, but because he is so wrapped up in his own thought that he does not see, though he could do so if he chose. Whatever may have been the thoughts engaging his mind during the past day, he usually continues them when he falls asleep, and he is thus surrounded by so dense a wall of his own making that he observes practically nothing of what is going on outside. Occasionally a violent impact from without, or even some strong desire of his own from within, may tear aside this curtain of mist and permit him to receive some definite impression. But even then the fog would close in again almost immediately, and he would dream on un-observantly as before.

In the case of a still more developed man, when the physical body goes to sleep, the astral body slips out of it, and the man is then in full consciousness. The astral body is clearly outlined and definitely organised, bearing the likeness of the man, and the man is able to use it as a vehicle, a vehicle far more convenient than the physical body.

The receptivity of the astral body has increased, until it is instantly responsive to all the vibrations of its plane, the fine as well as the coarser: but in the astral body of a very highly developed person [Page 86] there would, of course, be practically no matter left capable of responding to coarse vibrations.

Such a man is wide awake, is working far more actively, more accurately, and with greater power of comprehension, than when he was confined in the denser physical vehicle. In addition, he can move about freely and with immense rapidity to any distance, without causing the least disturbance to the sleeping physical body.

He may meet and exchange ideas with friends,either incarnate or discarnate, who happen to be equally awake on the astral plane, He may meet people more evolved than himself, and receive from them warning or instruction: or he may be able to confer benefits on those who know less than himself. He may come into contact with non-human entities of various kinds (see Chapters 20 and 21 on Astral Entities): he will be subject to all kinds of astral influences, good or evil, strengthening or terrifying.

He may form friendships with people from to their parts of the world: he may give or listen to lectures: if he is a student, he may meet other students and, with the additional faculties which the astral world gives, he may be able to solve problems which presented difficulties in the physical world.

A physician, for example, during the sleep of the body, may visit cases in which he is especially interested. He may thus acquire new information, which may come through as a kind of intuition to his waking consciousness.

In a highly evolved man, the astral body, being thoroughly organised and vitalised, becomes as much the vehicle of consciousness on the astral plane as the physical body is on the physical plane.

The astral world being the very home of passion and emotion, those who yield themselves to an emotion can experience it with a vigour and a keenness mercifully unknown on earth. Whilst in the physical body most of the efficiency of an emotion is exhausted in transmission to the physical plane, but in the astral [Page 87] world the whole of the force is available in its own world. Hence it is possible in the astral world to feel far more intense affection or devotion than is possible in the physical world: similarly an intensity of suffering is possible in the astral world which is unimaginable in ordinary physical life.

An advantage of this state of affairs is that in the astral world all pain and suffering are voluntary and absolutely under control, hence life there is much easier, for the man who understands. To control physical pain by the mind is possible, but exceedingly difficult: but in the astral world anyone can in a moment drive away the suffering caused by a strong emotion. The man has only to exert his will, when the passion straightway disappears. This assertion sounds startling: but it is nevertheless true, such being the power of will and mind over matter.

To have attained full consciousness in the astral body is to have already made a considerable amount of progress: when a man has also bridged over the chasm between astral and physical consciousness, day and night no longer exist for him, since he leads a life unbroken in its continuity. For such a man, even death, as ordinarily conceived, has ceased to exist, since he carries that unbroken consciousness not only through night and day, but also through the portals of death itself, and up to the end of his life upon the astral plane, as we shall see later when we come to deal with the after-death life.

Travelling in the astral body is not instantaneous: but it is so swift that space and time may be said to be practically conquered: for although a man is passing through space, it is passed through so rapidly that its power to divide is nearly non-existent. In two or three minutes a man might move round the world.

Any fairly advanced and cultured man among the higher races of mankind has already consciousness fully developed in the astral body, and is perfectly capable of employing it as a vehicle, though in many [Page 88] case he does not do so, because he has not made the definite effort which is at first necessary, until the habit becomes established.

The difficulty with the ordinary person is not that the astral body cannot act, but that for thousands of years that body has been accustomed to being set in motion only by impressions received through the physical vehicle, so that men do not realise that the astral body can work on its own plane and on its own account, and that the will can act upon it directly. People remain "unawake" astrally because they get into the habit of waiting for the familiar physical vibrations to call out their astral activity. Hence they may be said to be awake on the astral plane, but not in the least to the plane, and consequently they are conscious of their surroundings only very vaguely, if at all.

When a man becomes a pupil of one of the Masters, he is usually at once shaken out of his somnolent condition on the astral plane, fully awakened to the realities around him on that plane, and set to learn from them and to work among them, so that his hours of sleep are no longer a blank, but are filled with active and useful occupation, without in the least interfering with the healthy repose of the tired physical body.

In Chapter 28 on Invisible Helpers we shall deal more fully with carefully planned and organised work in the astral body: here it may be stated that even before that stage is reached, a great deal of useful work may be and is constantly being done. A man who falls asleep with the definite intention in his mind of doing a certain piece of work will assuredly go and attempt to carry out his intention as soon as he is freed from his physical body in sleep. But, when the work is completed, it is likely that the fog of his own self-centred thoughts will close round him once more, unless he has accustomed himself to initiate fresh lines of action when functioning apart from the physical brain. In some cases, of course, the work [Page 89] chosen is such as to occupy the whole of the time spent in sleep, so that such a man would be exerting himself to the fullest extent possible, so far as his astral development permits.

Every one should determine each night to do something useful on the astral plane: to comfort some one in trouble: to use the will to pour strength into a friend who is weak or ill: to calm some one who is excited or hysterical: or to perform some similar service.

Some measure of success is absolutely certain, and if the helper observes closely, he will often receive indications in the physical world of definite results achieved.

There are four ways in which a man may be "awakened" to self-conscious activity in his astral body.

(1) By the ordinary course of evolution, which though slow, is sure.

(2) By the man himself, having learnt the facts of the case, making the requisite steady and persistent effort to clear away the mist from within and gradually overcome the inertia to which he is accustomed. In order to do this the man should resolve before going to sleep to try when he leaves the body to awaken himself and see something or do some useful work. This, of course, is merely hastening the natural process of evolution. It is desirable that the man should first have developed common sense and moral qualities: this for two reasons: first, lest he may misuse such powers as he may acquire; second, lest he be overwhelmed by fear in the presence of forces which can neither understand nor control.

(3) By some accident, or by unlawful use of magical ceremonies, he may so rend the veil that it can never wholly be closed again. Instances of this are to be found in A Bewitched life by H.P.Blavatsky, and in Zanoni by Lord Bulwer Lytton

(4) A friend may act from without upon the closed shell surrounding the man and gradually arouse the [Page 90] man to higher possibilities. This, however,would never be done unless the friend were quite sure that the man to be awakened possessed the courage, devotion, and other qualifications necessary for useful work.

But the need of helpers on the astral plane is so great that every aspirant may be certain that there will not be a day's delay in arousing him as soon as he is seen to be ready.

It may be added that when even a child has been awakened on the astral plane, the development of the astral body would proceed so rapidly that he would very soon be in a position upon that plane but little inferior to that of the awakened adult, and would, of course, be much in advance, so far as usefulness is concerned, of the wisest man who was as yet unawakened.

But unless the go expressing himself through the child-body possessed the necessary qualification of a determined yet loving disposition, and had clearly manifested it in his previous lives, no occultist would take the very serious responsibility of awakening him on the astral plane. When it is possible to arouse children in this way, they often prove most efficient works on the astral plane, and throw themselves into this work with a whole-souled devotion which is beautiful to see.

Also, while it is comparatively easy to waken a man on the astral plane, it is practically impossible, except by a most undesirable use of mesmeric influence, to put him to sleep again.

Sleeping and waking life are thus seen to be in reality but one: during sleep we are aware of that fact, and have the continuous memory of both, i.e., astral memory includes the physical, though, of course, the physical memory by no means always includes the memory of the astral experiences.

The phenomenon of sleep-walking (somnambulism) may apparently be produced in several distinct ways.

(1) The ego may be able to act more directly upon [Page 91] the physical body during the absence of the mental and astral vehicles: in cases of this nature a man might be able, for example, to write poetry, paint pictures, etc., which would be far beyond his ordinary powers when awake.

(2) The physical body may be working automatically, and by force of habit, uncontrolled by the man himself. Instances of this occur where servants rise in the middle of the night and light a fire or attend to other household duties to which they are accustomed: or where the sleeping physical body carries out to some extent the idea dominant in the mind before falling to sleep.

(3) An outside entity, incarnate or discarnate, may seize the body of a sleeping man and use it for his own ends. This would be most likely to happen with a person who was mediumnistic, i.e., whose bodies are more loosely joined together than usual and therefore more readily separable.

With normal people, however, the fact that the astral body leaves the physical body during sleep does not open the way to obsession, because the ego always maintains a close connection with his body and he would quickly be recalled to it by any attempt that might be made upon it.

(4) A directly opposite condition may also produce a similar result. When the principles or bodies fit more tightly than usual, the man, instead of visiting a distant place in his astral body only, would take his physical body along as well, because he is not wholly dissociated from it.

(5) Somnambulism is probably also connected with the complex problem of the various layers of consciousness in man, which under normal circumstances are unable to manifest themselves.

Closely akin to sleep-life is the condition of trance, which but the sleep state, artificially or abnormally induced. Mediums and sensitives readily pass out of the physical body into the astral body, usually unconsciously. The astral body can then exercise its functions, [Page 92] such as that of travelling to a distant place, gathering impressions there from surrounding objects and bringing them back to the physical body. In the case of a medium the astral body can describe these impressions by means of the entranced physical body: but, as a rule, when the medium comes out of the trance,the brain does not retain the impressions thus made on it, no trace being left in the physical memory of the experiences acquired. Occasionally, but rarely, the astral body is able to make a lasting impression on the brain, so that the medium is able to recollect the knowledge acquired during trance. [Page 93]



Consciousness and activity in the astral body are one thing: the memory in the brain of that astral consciousness and activity are a totally different matter. The existence or the absence of physical memory in no way affects the consciousness on the astral plane, nor the ability to function in the astral plane with perfect ease and freedom. It is, in fact,not only possible, but also by no means uncommon, for a man to function freely and usefully in his astral body during the sleep of the physical body, and yet to return to the physical body without the slightest memory of the astral work upon which he has been engaged.

The break in consciousness between the astral and the physical life is due either to un-development of the astral body, or to the want of an adequate etheric bridge between the astral and the dense physical matter of the bodies.

This bridge consists of the closely-woven web of atomic matter, through which the vibrations have to pass, and which causes a moment of unconsciousness, like a veil, between sleeping and waking.

The only way in which memory of the astral life can be brought through into the physical brain is by sufficient development of the astral body and by an awakening of the etheric Chakrams, one function of which is to bring forces from the astral to the etheric. In addition, there must be active functioning of the pituitary body, which focuses the astral vibrations.

Sometimes, on awakening, there is a feeling that something has been experienced of which no memory remains. The feeling indicates that there has been [Page 94] astral consciousness, though the brain is insufficiently receptive to receive the record. At other times the man in his astral body may succeed in making a momentary impression on the etheric double and the dense body, resulting in a vivid memory of the astral life. This is sometimes done deliberately when something occurs which the man feels that he ought to remember on the physical plane. Such a memory usually vanishes quickly and cannot be recovered: efforts to recover the memory, by setting up strong vibrations in the physical brain, still further overpower the more delicate astral vibrations, and consequently render success even more impossible.

There are some events, too, which make such a vivid impression upon the astral body that they become impressed upon the physical brain by a kind of repercussion (see page 242).

In other cases, a man may succeed in impressing new knowledge on the physical brain, without being able to convey also the memory of where or how that knowledge was gained. Instances of this, common to most people, occur where solutions of problems, previously insoluble, suddenly arise in the consciousness, or where light is suddenly thrown on to questions previously obscure. Such cases may be taken to indicate that progress is being made with the organisation and functioning of the astral body, although the physical body is still only partially receptive.

In cases where the physical brain does respond, there are vivid, reasonable and coherent dreams, such as occur to many people from time to time.

Few people, when in the astral body, care whether the physical brain remembers or not, and nine out of ten much dislike returning to the body. In coming back to the physical body from the astral world there is a feeling of great constraint, as though one were being enveloped in a thick, heavy cloak. The joy of life on the astral plane is so great that physical life in comparison with it seems no life at all. Many regard the daily return to the physical body as men [Page 95] often do their daily journey to the office. They do not positively dislike it, but they would not do it unless they were compelled.

Eventually, in the case of highly developed and advanced persons, the etheric bridge between the astral and the physical worlds is constructed, and then there is perfect continuity of consciousness between the astral and the physical lives. For such people life ceases to be composed of days of remembrance and nights of oblivion, and becomes instead, a continuous whole, year after year, of unbroken consciousness.

Occasionally, a man who has normally no memory of his astral life, may unintentionally, through an accident, or illness, or intentionally by certain definite practices, bridge over the gap between astral and physical consciousness, so that from that time onwards his astral consciousness will be continuous, and his memory of his sleep life therefore be perfect. But, of course, before this could take place, he must already have developed full consciousness in the astral body. It is merely the rending of the veil between the astral and physical that is sudden, not the development of the astral body.

The dream life may be considerably modified as a direct result of mental growth. Every impulse sent by the mind to the physical brain has to pass through the astral body, and, as astral matter is far more responsive to thought-vibrations than is physical matter, it follows that the effects produced on the astral body are correspondingly greater. Thus, when a man has acquired mental control, i.e., has learned to dominate the brain, to concentrate, and to think as and when he likes, a corresponding change will take place in his astral life; and, if he brings the memory of that life through into the physical brain, his dreams will become vivid, well-sustained, rational, even instructive.

In general, the more the physical brain is trained to answer to the vibrations of the mental body, the more is the bridging of the gulf between waking and sleeping [Page 96] consciousness facilitated. The brain should become more and more the obedient instrument of the man, acting under impulses from his will.

The dreaming of ordinary events does not interfere with astral work, because the dreaming takes place in the physical brain, while the real man is away attending to other matters. It does not really matter what the physical brain does, so long as it keeps itself free from undesirable thoughts.

Once a dream is started, its course cannot usually be changed: but the dream-life can be controlled indirectly to a considerable extent. It is especially important that the last thought on sinking to sleep should be a noble and elevating one, as this strikes the keynote which largely determines the nature of the dreams which follow. An evil or impure thought attracts evil and impure influences and creatures, which react on the mind and astral body and tend to awaken low and earthly desires.

On the other hand, if a man falls asleep with his thoughts fixed on high and holy things, he will automatically draw round him elementals created by similar efforts of others, and consequently his dreams will be lofty and pure.

As we are dealing in this book mainly with the astral body, and phenomena closely associated with it, it is not necessary to attempt to deal exhaustively with the somewhat large subject of dream consciousness. Nevertheless, in order to show the proper setting of the part which the astral body plays in the dream life, it will be useful to give a very brief outline of the main factors operative in producing dreams.For a detailed study of the whole matter the student is referred to that excellent textbook, Dreams by C.W.Leadbeater , from which the following facts are extracted.

The factors concerned in the production of dreams are: -

1- The lower physical brain, with its infantile semi-consciousness, and its habit of expressing every stimulus in pictorial form. [Page 97]

2- The etheric part of the brain, through which sweeps a ceaseless procession of disconnected pictures.

3- The astral body, palpitating with the wild surgings of desire and emotion.

4- The ego (in the causal body) who may be in any state of consciousness, from almost complete insensibility to perfect command of his faculties.

When a man goes to sleep, his ego withdraws further within himself, and leaves his various bodies more free than usual to go their own way. These separate bodies: (1) are much more susceptible of impressions from without than at other times; and (2) have a very rudimentary consciousness of their own. Consequently there is ample reason for the production of dreams, as well as for confused recollections in the physical brain of the experiences of the other bodies during sleep.

Such confused dreams may thus be due to: (1) a series of disconnected pictures and impossible transformations produced by the senseless automatic action of the lower physical brain; (2) a stream of casual thought which has been pouring through the etheric part of the brain; (3) the ever-restless tide of earthly desire, playing through the astral body and probably stimulated by astral influences; (4) an imperfect attempt at dramatisation by an undeveloped ego; (5) a mingling of several or all of these influences.

We will briefly describe the principal elements in each of these kinds of dreams.

1- Physical Brain Dreams. - When in sleep the ego, for the time, resigns control of the brain, the physical body still has a certain dim consciousness of its own: and in addition there is also the aggregate consciousness of the individual cells of the physical body. The grasp of the physical consciousness over the brain is far feebler than that of the ego over the brain, and consequently purely physical charges are capable of affecting the brain to a very much greater extent. Examples of such physical changes are: irregularity in the circulation of the blood, indigestion, heat and cold, etc..[Page 98]

The dim physical consciousness possesses certain peculiarities: (1) it is to a great extent automatic; (2) it seems unable to grasp an idea except in the form in which it is itself an actor: consequently all stimuli, whether from within or from without, are immediately translated into perceptual images; (3) it is incapable of grasping abstract ideas or memories, as such, but at once transforms them into imaginary percepts: (4) every local direction of thought becomes for it an actual spatial transportation, i.e., a passing thought of China would transport the consciousness instantly in imagination to China; (5) it has no power of judging the sequence, value or objective truth of the pictures that appear before it; it takes them all just as it seems them, and never feels surprised at anything which may happen, however incongruous or absurd; (6) it is subject to the principle of association of ideas, and consequently images, unconnected except by the fact that they represent events which happened near to one another in time, are apt to be thrown together in inextricable confusion; (7) it is singularly sensitive to the slightest external influences, such as sounds or touches, and (8) it magnifies and distorts them to an almost incredible degree.

The physical brain thus is capable of creating sufficient confusion and exaggeration to account for many, but by no means all, dream phenomena.

2. Etheric Brain Dreams. - The etheric brain is even more sensitive during the sleep of the body than it is during ordinary waking consciousness to influences from outside. Whilst the mind is actively engaged, the brain thereby being fully employed, it is practically impervious to the continual impingement of thought from without. But the moment the brain is left idle, the stream of inconsequent chaos begins to pour through it. In the vast majority of people, the thoughts which flow through their brains are in reality not their own thoughts at all, but fragments cast off by other people. Consequently, in sleep life especially, any passing thought which finds something [Page 99] congruous to itself in the brain of a sleeper, is seized upon by that brain and appropriated, thus starting a whole train of ideas: eventually these fade away and the disconnected, purposeless stream begins flowing through the brain again.

A point to notice is that, since in the present state of the world's evolution there are likely to be more evil thoughts than good ones floating around, a man with an uncontrolled brain is open to all sorts of temptation which mind and brain control might have spared him.

Even when these thought-currents are shut out, by the deliberate effort of another person, from the etheric brain of a sleeper, that brain does not remain completely passive, but begins slowly and dreamily to evolve pictures for itself from its store of past memories.

3. Astral Dreams -These are simply recollection in the physical brain of the life and activities of the astral body during the sleep of the physical body, to which reference has already been made in the preceding pages. In the case of a fairly well-developed person, the astral body can travel without discomfort to considerable distances from its physical body: can bring more or less definite impressions of places which it may have visited, or of people whom it may have met. In every case the astral body, as already said, is ever intensely impressionable by any thought or suggestion involving desire or emotion, though the nature of the desires which most readily awaken a response in it will, of course, depend on the development of the person and the purity or otherwise of his astral body.

The astral body is at all times susceptible to the influences of passing thought-currents, and, when the mind is not actively controlling it, it is perpetually receiving these stimuli from without, and eagerly responding to them. During sleep it is even more readily influenced. Consequently, a man who has, for example, entirely destroyed a physical desire, which he may previously have possessed for alcohol, so that in [Page 100] waking life he may feel even a definite repulsion for it, may yet frequently dream that he is drinking, and in that dream experience the pleasure of its influence. During the day, the desire of the astral body would be under the control of the will, but when the astral body was liberated in sleep, it escaped to some extent from the domination of the ego, and, responding probably to outside astral influence, its old habit reasserted itself. This class of dream is probably common to many who are making definite attempts to bring their desire-nature under the control of the will.

It may also happen that a man may have been a drunkard in a past life and still possesses in his astral body some matter drawn thereinto by the vibrations caused in the permanent atom by the drunkenness. Although this matter is not vivified in this life, yet in dreams, the control of the ego being weak, the matter may respond to drink-vibrations from without and the man dreams that he drinks. Such dreams, once understood, need not cause distress: nevertheless they should be regarded as a warning that there is still present the possibility of the drink-craving being re-awakened.

Ego Dreams - Much as the nature of the astral body changes as it develops, still greater is the change of the ego, or real man, that inhabits it. Where the astral body is nothing but a floating wreath of mist, the ego is also almost as much asleep as his physical body, being blind to the influences of his own higher plane: and even if some idea belonging to it should manage to reach him, since he has little or no control over his lower bodies, he will be unable to impress the experience on the physical brain.

Sleepers may be at any stage from that of complete oblivion up to that of full astral consciousness. And it must be recollected, as already said, that even though there may be many important experiences on the higher planes, the ego may nevertheless be unable to impress them upon the brain, so that there is either no physical memory at all, or only a most confused memory. [Page 101]

The principal characteristics of the consciousness and experiences of the ego, whether or not they be remembered in the brain, are as follows: -

(1) The ego's measure of time and space are so entirely different from that which he uses in waking life that it is almost as though neither time nor space existed for him. Many instances are known where in a few moments of time, as we measure it, the ego may have experiences which appear to last for many years, event after event happening in full and circumstantial detail.

(2) The ego possesses the faculty, or the habit, of instantaneous dramatisation. Thus a physical sound or a touch may reach the ego, not through the usual nerve mechanism, but directly, a fraction of a second before even it reaches the physical brain. That fraction of a second is sufficient for the ego to construct a kind of drama or series of scenes leading up to and culminating in the event which awakens the physical body. The brain confuses the subjective dream and the objective event, and therefore imagines itself to have actually lived through the events of the dream.

This habit, however, seems to be peculiar to the ego which, so far as spirituality is concerned, is still comparatively undeveloped. As the ego develops spiritually, he rises beyond these graceful sports of his childhood. The man who has attained continuous consciousness is so fully occupied with higher plane work that he devotes no energy to this dramatisation, and consequently this class of dream ceases for him.

(3) The ego possesses also to some extent the faculty of prevision, being sometimes able to see in advance events which are going to happen, or rather which may happen unless steps are taken to prevent them, and to impress the same on the physical brain. Many instances are recorded of such prophetic or warning dreams. In some cases the warning may be heeded, the necessary steps taken, and the foreseen result either modified or entirely avoided. [Page 102]

(4) The ego, when out of the body during sleep, appears to think in symbols: an idea, which down here would require many words to be expressed, is perfectly conveyed to him by a single symbolical image. If such a symbolic thought is impressed upon the brain, and remembered in waking consciousness, the mind may itself translate it into words: on the other hand it may come through merely as a symbol, un-translated, and so may cause confusion. In dreams of this nature, it seems that each person usually has a system of symbology of his own: thus water may signify approaching trouble: pearls may be a sing of tears: and so forth.

If a man wishes to have useful dreams, i.e., to be able to reap in his waking consciousness the benefit of what his ego may learn during sleep, there are certain steps he should take to bring about this result.

First, it is essential that he should form the habit of sustained and concentrated thought during ordinary waking life. A man who has absolute control of his thoughts will always know exactly what he is thinking about, and why; he will also find that the brain, thus trained to listen to the promptings of the ego, will remain quiescent when not in use, and will decline to receive or respond to casual currents from the surrounding ocean of thought. The man will thus be more likely to receive influences from the higher planes, where insight is keener and judgment truer than they can ever be on the physical plane.

It should scarcely be necessary to add that the man should also be complete master of at least his lower passions.

By a very elementary act of magic, a man may shut out from his etheric brain the rush of thoughts which impinge upon it from without. To this end, he should, when lying down to sleep, picture his aura, and will strongly that its outer surface shall become a shell to protect him from outside influences. The auric matter will obey his thought, and form the shell. This step is of appreciable value towards the desired end. [Page 103]

The great importance of fixing the last thought, before falling to sleep, on high and noble things, has already been mentioned; it should be practised regularly by those who wish to bring their dreams under control.

It may be useful here to add the Hindu terms for the four states of consciousness:

Jâgrat is the ordinary waking consciousness.

Svapna is the dream consciousness, working in the astral body, and able to impress its experiences upon the brain.

Sushupti is the consciousness working in the mental body, and not able to impress its experiences on the brain.

Turiya is a state of trance, the consciousness working in the buddhic vehicle, being so far separated from the brain that it cannot readily be recalled by outer means.

These terms, however, are used relatively, and vary according to the context. Thus, in one interpretation of jâgrat, the physical and astral planes are combined, the seven sub-divisions corresponding to the four conditions of physical matter, and the three broad divisions of astral matter mentioned on page 148.

For further elucidation the student is referred to An introduction to Yoga, by Annie Besant, page 16, et seq., and also to A Study in Consciousness, were waking consciousness is defined as that part of the total consciousness which is working through the outermost vehicle. [Page 104]



As we have seen, for a man to pass in unbroken consciousness from one vehicle to another, e.g., from the physical to the astral, or vice versa, it is a requisite that the links between the bodies should be developed. Most men are not conscious of these links, and the links are not actively vivified, being in a condition similar to that of rudimentary organs in the physical body. They have to be developed by use, and are made to function by the man fixing his attention upon them and using his will. The will sets free and guides kundalini, but unless the preliminary purification of the vehicles is first thoroughly accomplished, kundalini is a destructive instead of a vivifying energy. Hence the insistence, by all occult teachers, on the necessity of purification before true yoga is practised.

When a man has rendered himself fit to be helped in vivifying the links, such assistance will inevitably come to him as a matter of course, from those who are ever seeking opportunities to aid the earnest and unselfish aspirant. Then, one day, the man will find himself slipping out of the physical body while he is wide awake, and without any break in consciousness he discovers himself to be free. With practice the passage from vehicle to vehicle becomes familiar and easy. The development of the links bridges the gulf between physical and astral consciousness, so that there is perfect continuity of consciousness.

The student thus has not only to learn to see correctly on the astral plane, but also to translate accurately the memory of what he has seen from the astral to the physical brain: and to assist him in this he is trained to carry his consciousness without break from the [Page 105] physical plane to the astral and mental and back again, for until that can be done there is always a possibility that his recollections may be partially lost or distorted during the blank intervals which separate his periods of consciousness on the various planes. When the power of bringing over the consciousness is perfectly acquired, the pupil will have the advantage of the use of all the astral faculties, not only while out of the body during sleep or trance, but also while fully awake in ordinary physical life.

In order that the physical waking consciousness should include astral consciousness it is necessary that the pituitary body should be further evolved, and that the fourth spirillae in the atoms should be perfected.

In addition to the method of moving the consciousness from one sub-plane to another, of the same plane, from, e.g., the astral atomic to the lowest sub-plane of the mental, there is also another line of connection which may be called the atomic short-cut.

If we picture the atomic sub-planes of astral, mental, etc., as lying side by side along a rod, the other sub-planes may be pictured as hanging from the rod in loops, as though a piece of string were wound loosely round the rod. Obviously, then, to pass from one atomic sub-plane to another one could move by a short cut along the rod, or down and up again through the hanging loops which symbolise the lower sub-planes.

The normal processes of our thinking come steadily down through the sub-planes: but flashes of genius, illuminative ideas, come through the atomic sub-planes only.

There is also a third possibility connected with the relation of our planes with the cosmic planes, but this is too abstruse to be dealt with in a work which purports to deal only with the astral plane and its phenomena.

Merely to obtain continuity of consciousness between the physical and the astral planes is, of course, quite [Page 106] insufficient in itself to restore memory of past lives. For this a much higher development is required, into the nature of which it is not necessary to enter enter.

A man who has thus acquired complete mastery over the astral body may, of course, leave the physical body, not only during sleep, but at any time he chooses, and go to a distant place, etc..

Mediums and sensitives project their astral bodies unconsciously, when they go into trance: but usually on coming out of trance there is no brain-memory of the experiences acquired. Trained students are able to project the astral body consciously and to travel to great distances from the physical body, bringing back with them full and detailed memory of all the impressions they have gained.

An astral body thus projected may be seen by persons who are sensitive or who may chance to be temporarily in an abnormal nervous condition. There are on record many cases of such astral visitations by a dying person near the time of death, the approach of dissolution having loosened the principles so as to make the phenomenon possible for people who were unable at any other time to perform the feat. (See also page 50 for a similar phenomenon produced by a thought-form). The astral body is also set free in many cases of disease. Inactivity of the physical body is a condition of such astral journeys.

A man may, if he knows how to set about it, slightly densify his astral body by drawing into it, from the surrounding atmosphere, particles of physical matter, and thus "materialise" sufficiently to become physically visible. This is the explanation of many cases of "apparitions", where a person, physically absent, has been seen by friends with their ordinary physical sight. [Page 107]



At death, the consciousness withdraws from the dense physical body into the etheric double for a short time, usually a few hours, and then passes into the astral body.

Death thus consists of a process of unrobing or unsheathing. The ego, the immortal part of man, shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, first the dense physical: then the etheric double: then even the astral body, as we shall see later.

In almost every case the actual passing-away appears to be perfectly painless, even after a long illness involving terrible suffering. The peaceful look on the face of the dead is strong evidence in favour of this statement, and it is also borne out by the direct testimony of most of those who have been questioned on the point immediately after death.

At the actual moment of death, even when death is sudden, a man sees the whole of his past life marshaled before him, in its minutest detail. In a moment he sees the whole chain of causes which been at work during his life; he sees and now understands himself as he really is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remaining as a spectator, looking down upon the arena he is quitting.

The condition of consciousness immediately after the moment of death is usually a dreamy and peaceful one. There will also be a certain period of unconsciousness, which may last only for a moment, though often it is a few minutes, or several hours, and sometimes even days or weeks.

The natural attraction between the astral counterpart and the physical body is such that, after death, [Page 108] the astral counterpart, from force of habit, retains its accustomed form: consequently a man's physical appearance will still be preserved after death almost unchanged. Almost - because in view of the fact that astral matter is very readily moulded by thought, a man who habitually thinks of himself after death as younger than he actually was at the time of death will probably assume a somewhat younger appearance.

Very soon after death, in most cases, an important change takes place in the structure of the astral body, owing to the action of the desire elemental.

Much of the matter of the astral body is composed of elemental essence (see page 6): this essence is living, though not intelligent: and for the time it is cut off from the general mass of astral essence. Blindly, instinctively, and without reason it seeks its own ends and shows great ingenuity in obtaining its desires and in furthering its evolution.

Evolution for it is a descent into matter, its aim being to become a mineral monad. Its object in life, therefore, is to get as near to the physical as it can, and to experience as many of the coarser vibrations as possible. It neither does or could know anything of the man in whose astral body it is for the time living.

It desires to preserve its separate life, and feels that it can do so only by means of its connection with the man: it is conscious of the man's lower mind, and realises that the more mental matter it can entangle with itself the longer will be its astral life.

On the death of the physical body, knowing that the term of its separated life is limited, and that the man's astral death will more or less quickly follow,in order to make the man's astral body last as long as possible, it rearranges its matter in concentric rings or shells, the coarsest outside. From the point of view of the desire elemental this is good policy, because the coarsest matter can hold together longest and best stand friction.

The re-arranged astral body is called the Yâtanâ , or suffering body: in the case of a very evil man in [Page 109] whose astral body there is a preponderance of the coarsest matter, it is called the Dhruvam or strong body.

The re-arrangement of the astral body takes place over the surface of the counterpart of the physical body, not over the surface of the ovoid which surrounds it.

The effect is to prevent the free and full circulation of astral matter which usually takes place in the astral body. In addition, the man is able to respond only to those vibrations which are received by the outermost layer of his astral body. The man is thus shut up, as it were, in a box of astral matter, being able to see and hear things of the lowest and coarsest plane only.

Although living in the midst of high influences and beautiful thought-forms, he would be almost entirely unconscious of their existence, because the particles of his astral body which could respond to those vibrations ar shut in where they cannot be reached.

Consequently, also, being able to sense only the coarsest matter in the astral bodies of other people, and being entirely unconscious of his limitations, he would assume that the person he was looking at possessed only the unsatisfactory characteristics which he would be able to perceive.

Since he can see and feel only what is lowest and coarsest, the men around him appear to be monsters of vice. Under these circumstances it is little wonder that he considers the astral world a hell.

The re-arrangement of the astral body by the desire elemental does not in any way affect the recognisability of the form within the ovoid, though the natural changes which take place tend on the whole to make the form grow somewhat fainter and more spiritual in appearance as time passes on - for reasons which will presently be made clear.

In course of time, the outermost shell or ring disintegrates: the man then becomes able to respond to the vibrations of the next higher level of the astral plane, and thus "rises to the next sub-plane": and so [Page 110] on from one sub-plane to another. His stay on each sub-plane will, of course, correspond to the amount and activity of the matter in his astral body belonging to that sub-plane.

When we speak of a man "rising" from one sub-plane to another, he need not necessarily move in space at all: he rather transfers his consciousness from one level to another. In the case of a man with a rearranged astral body, the focus of his consciousness shifts from the outer shell to the one next within it. The man thus gradually becomes unresponsive to the vibrations of one order of matter and answers instead to those of a higher order. Thus one world with its scenery and its inhabitants would seem to fade slowly away from his view, while another world would dawn upon him.

As the shell usually disintegrates gradually, the man thus finds the counterparts of physical objects growing dimmer and dimmer, while thought-forms become more and more vivid to him. If during this process he meets another man at intervals, he will imagine that that man's character is steadily improving, merely because he is himself become able to appreciate the higher vibrations of that character. The re-arrangement of the astral body, in fact, constantly interferes with a man's true and full vision of his friends at all stages of their astral life.

This process of re-arrangement of the astral body, which takes place with most people, can be prevented by the man setting his will to oppose it: in fact, anyone who understands the conditions of the astral plane should altogether decline to permit the re-arrangement of the astral body by the desire-elemental. The particles of the astral body will then be kept intermingled, as in life, and in consequence, instead of being confined to one astral sub-plane at a time, the man will be free of all the sub-planes, according to the constitution of his astral body.

The elemental, being afraid in its curious semi-conscious way, will endeavour to transfer its fear to the [Page 111] man who is jolting him out of the re-arrangement, in order to deter him from doing so. Hence one reason why it is so useful to have knowledge of these matters before death.

If the re-arrangement, or shelling, has already occurred, it is still possible for the condition to be broken up by someone who wishes to help the man, and for the man to be thus set free to work on the whole astral plane, instead of being confined to one level. [Page 112]



It cannot be too strongly insisted that it is not found that any sudden change takes place in man at death: on the contrary, he remains after death exactly what he was before, except that he no longer has a physical body. He has the same intellect, the same disposition, the same virtues and vices; the loss of the physical body no more makes him a different man than would the removal of an overcoat. Moreover,the conditions in which he finds himself are those which his own thoughts and desires have already created for him. There is no reward or punishment from outside, but only the actual result of what he has himself done, and said, and thought, while living in the physical world.

As we proceed with our description of the astral life after death, it will be recognised that the true facts correspond with considerable accuracy with the Catholic conception of purgatory, and the Hades or underworld of the Greeks.

The poetic idea of death as a universal leveller is a mere absurdity born of ignorance, for, as a matter of fact, in the vast majority of cases, the loss of the physical body makes no difference whatever in the character or intellect of the person, and there are therefore as many different varieties of intelligence among the so-called dead as among the living.

This is the first and the most prominent fact to appreciate: that after death there is no strange new life, but a continuation, under certain changed conditions, of the present physical plane life.

So much is this the case that when a man first arrives on the astral plane after physical death he by no means always knows that he is dead: and even when [Page 113] he does realise what has happened to him he does not always at first understand how the astral world differs from the physical.

In some cases people consider the very fact that they are still conscious, an absolute proof that they have not died: and this in spite of the much-vaunted belief in the immortality of the soul.

If a man has never heard of astral plane life before, he is likely to be more or less disturbed by the totally unexpected conditions in which he finds himself. Finally, he accepts these conditions, which he does not understand, thinking them necessary and inevitable.

Looking out upon the new worlds, at the first glance he would probably see very little difference, and he would suppose himself to be looking upon the same world as before. As we have seen, each degree of astral matter is attracted by the corresponding degree of physical matter. If, therefore, we imagined the physical world to be struck out of existence, without any other change being made, we should still have a perfect replicate of it in astral matter. Consequently a man on the astral plane would still see the walls, furniture, people, etc., to which he was accustomed, outlined as clearly as ever by the densest type of astral matter. If, however, he examined such objects closely he would perceive that all the particles were visibly in rapid motion, instead of only invisibly as on the physical plane. But, as few men observe closely, a man who dies often does not know at first that any change has come over him. Thus many, especially in Western countries, find it difficult to believe that they are dead, simply because they still see, hear, feel and think. Realisation of what has happened will probably dawn gradually, as the man discovers that though he can see his friends he cannot always communicate with them. Sometimes he speaks to them, and they do not seem to hear: he tries to touch them, and finds that he can make no impression upon them. Even then, for some time he may persuade himself that he is dreaming, for at other times, when his friends are [Page 114] asleep, they are perfectly conscious of him and talk with him as of old.

By degrees the man begins to realise the differences between his present life and that which he lived in the physical world. For example, he soon finds that for him all pain and fatigue have passed away. He also finds that in the astral world desires and thoughts express themselves in visible forms, though these are composed mostly of the finer matter of the plane. As his life proceeds, these become m ore and more prominent.

Moreover, though a man on the astral plane cannot usually see the physical bodies of his friends, yet he can and does see the physical bodies of his friends, and consequently knows their feelings and emotions. He will not necessarily be able to follow in detail the events of their physical life: but he would at once be aware of such feelings as love or hate, jealousy or envy, as these would be expressed through the astral bodies of his friends.

Thus, although the living often suppose themselves to have "lost" the dead, the dead are never for a moment under the impression that they have lost the living.

A man, in fact, living in his astral body after death is more readily and deeply influenced by the feelings of his friends in the physical world than when he was on earth, because he has no physical body to deaden his perceptions.

A man on the astral plane does not usually see the whole astral counterpart of an object, but the portion of it which belongs to the particular sub-plane upon which he is at the time.

Moreover, a man by no means always recognises with any certainty the astral counterpart of a physical body even when he sees it. He usually requires considerable experience before he can clearly identify objects, and any attempt that he makes to deal with them is liable to be vague and uncertain. Examples of this are often seen in haunted houses, where [Page 115] stone-throwing, or vague, clumsy movements of physical matter take place.

Frequently, not realising that he is free from the necessity to work for a living, to eat, sleep, etc., a man after death may continue to prepare and consume meals, created entirely by his imagination, or even to build for himself a house in which to live. A case is recorded of a man who built for himself a house, stone by stone, each stone being separately created by his own thought. He might, of course, with the same amount of effort have created the whole house at once. He was eventually led to see, that as the stones had no weight, the conditions were different from those obtaining in physical life, and so he was induced to investigate further.

Similarly, a man new to the conditions of astral life may continue to enter and depart from a room by a door or window, not realising that he can pass through the wall just as easily. For the same reason he may walk upon the earth when he might just as well float through the air.

A man who has already during earth life acquainted himself, by reading or otherwise,with the general conditions of astral life, naturally finds himself after death on ground more or less familiar, and consequently he should not be at a loss to know what to do with himself.

Even an intelligent appreciation of occult teaching on this subject, as experience has shown, is of enormous advantage to a man after death, while it is a considerable advantage for a man merely to have heard of the conditions of astral life, even though he may have regarded such teachings as one of many hypotheses, and may not have followed them up further. In the case of others, not so fortunately situated as to their knowledge of the astral world, their best plan is to take stock of their position, endeavour to see the nature of the life before them, and how they can make the best use of it. In addition, they would do well to consult some experienced friend. [Page 116]

The condition of life referred to above constitute Kâmaloka, literally the place or world of Kâma or desire: the Limbus of scholastic theology. In general terms Kâmaloka is a region peopled by intelligent and semi-intelligent entities. It is crowd ed with many types and forms of living things, as diverse from each other as a blade of grass is different from a tiger, a tiger is different from a man, there being of course, many other entities living there besides deceased human beings (See Chapters 19 to 21). It interpenetrates the physical world, and is interpenetrated by it, but, as the states of matter in the two worlds differ, they co-exist without the entities of either world being conscious of those of the other. Only under abnormal circumstances can consciousness of each other's presence arise among the inhabitants of the two worlds.

Kâmaloka is thus not divided off as a distinct locality, but is separated off from the rest of the astral plane by the conditions of consciousness of the entities who belong to it, these entities being human beings, who have shaken off the dense and etheric bodies, but who have not yet disentangled themselves from Kâma, i.e., the passional and emotional nature. This state is also called Pretaloka, a preta being a human being who has lost his physical body, but is still encumbered with the vesture of his animal nature.

The Kâmalokic condition is found on each sub-division of the astral plane.

Many who die are at first in a condition of considerable uneasiness, and others of positive terror. When they encounter the thought-forms which they and their kind have for centuries been making - thoughts of a personal devil, an angry and cruel deity, and eternal punishment - they are often reduced to a pitiable state of fear, and may spend long periods of acute mental suffering before they can free themselves from the fatal influence of such foolish and utterly false conceptions.

It ought, however, in fairness to be mentioned that [Page 117] it is only among what are called Protestant communities that this terrible evil assumes its most aggravated form. The great Roman Catholic Church, with its doctrine of purgatory, approaches much more nearly to a true conception of the astral plane, and its devout members, at any rate, realise that the state in which they find themselves shortly after death is merely a temporary one, and it is their business to endeavour to raise themselves out of it as soon as may be by intense spiritual aspiration, while they accept any suffering which may come to them as necessary for the wearing away of the imperfections in their character, before they can pass to higher and brighter spheres.

Thus we see that although men should have been taught by their religion what to expect, and how to live on the astral plane, in most cases this has not been done. Consequently a good deal of explanation is needed regarding the new world in which they find themselves. But, after death, exactly as before it, there are few who attain to an intelligent appreciation of the fact of evolution and who, by understanding something of their position, know how to make the best of it. Today, large numbers of people, both "living" and "dead", are engaged in looking after and helping those who have died in ignorance of the real nature of the after-death life (vide Chapter 28 on Invisible Helpers). Unfortunately, however, on the astral plane, as on the physical, the ignorant are rarely ready to profit by the advice or example of the wise.

To a man who has, before he dies physically, already acquainted himself with the real conditions of life on the astral plane, one of the most pleasant characteristics of that life is its restfulness and complete freedom from those imperious necessities, such as eating and drinking, which burden physical life. On the astral plane a man is really free, free to do whatever he likes, and to spend his time as he chooses.

As already indicated, a man who has died physically, is steadily withdrawing into himself. The whole cycle [Page 118] of life and death may be likened to an ellipse, of which only the lowest portion passes into the physical world. During the first portion of the cycle, the ego is putting himself forth into matter: the central point of the curve should be a middle point in physical life,when the force of the ego has expended its outward rush and turns to begin the long process of withdrawal.

Thus each physical incarnation may be regarded as a putting of the ego, whose habitat is the higher part of the mental plane, outwards into the lower planes. The ego puts the soul out, as though it were an investment, and expects his investment to draw back added experience, which will have developed new qualities within him.

The portion of the life after death spent on the astral plane is therefore definitely in the period of withdrawal back towards the ego. During the latter part of the physical life the man's thoughts and interests should be less and less directed towards merely physical matters: similarly, during the astral life, he should pay less and less attention to the lower astral matter, out of which counterparts of physical objects are composed, and occupy himself with the higher matter, out of which desire - and thought-forms are made. It is not so much that he has changed his location in space (though this is partially true, See Chapter 14), as that he has moved the centre of his interest. Hence the counterpart of the physical world which he has left gradually fades from his view, and his life becomes more and more a life in the world of thought. His desires and emotions still persist, and consequently, owing to the readiness with which astral matter obeys his desires and thoughts, the forms surrounding him will be very largely the expression of his own feelings, the nature of which mainly determines whether his life is one of happiness or of discomfort.

Although we are not in this book dealing with that portion of the life after death which is spent in the "heaven-world", i.e., on the mental plane, nevertheless, in order to understand fully what is happening to the [Page 119] astral body on the astral plane, it is desirable to bear in mind that the astral life is largely an intermediate stage in the whole cycle of life and death, a preparation for the life on the mental plane.

As we have seen, soon after physical death, the astral body is set free: expressed from the point of view consciousness, Kâma-Manas is set free. From this, that portion of lower-manas, which is not inextricably entangled with Kâma, gradually frees itself, taking with it such of its experience as fit for assimilation by the higher mental body.

Meanwhile, that portion of the lower manas which still remains entangled with Kâma, gives to the astral body a somewhat confused consciousness, a broken memory of the events of the life just closed. If the emotions and passions were strong, and the mental element weak, then the astral body will be strongly energised, and will persist for a considerable time on the astral plane, It will also show a considerable amount of consciousness, due to the mental matter entangled with it. If, on the other hand, the earth life just closed was characterised by mentality and purity rather than by passion, the astral body will be poorly poorly energised, will be but a pale simulacrum of the man, and will disintegrate and perish comparatively rapidly. [Page 120]



In considering the conditions of a man's astral life, there are two prominent factors to be taken into account: (1) The length of time which he spends on any particular sub-plane: (2) The amount of his consciousness upon it.

The length of time depends upon the amount of matter belonging to that sub-plane which he has built into his astral body during physical life. He will necessarily remain upon that sub-plane until the matter corresponding to it has dropped out of his astral body.

During physical life, as we have already seen, the quality of the astral body which he builds for himself is directly determined by his passions, desires and emotions, and indirectly by his thoughts, as well as by his physical habits - food, drink, cleanliness, continence, etc.. A coarse and gross astral body, resulting from a coarse and gross life, will cause the man to be responsive only to lower astral vibrations, so that after death he will find himself bound to the astral plane during the long and slow process of the disintegration of the astral body.

On the other hand, a refined astral body, created by a pure and refined life, will make the man unresponsive to the low and coarse vibrations of the astral world, and responsive only to its higher influences: consequently he will experience much less trouble in his post-mortem life, and his evolution will proceed rapidly and easily.

The amount of consciousness depends upon the degree to which he has vivified and used the matter of the particular sub-plane in his physical life. [Page 121]

If during earth-life the animal nature was indulged and allowed to run riot, if the intellectual and spiritual parts were neglected or stifled, then the astral or desire body will persist for a long time after physical death.

If, on the other hand, desire has been conquered and bridled during earth life, if it has been purified and trained into subservience to the higher nature, then there will be little to energise the astral body, and will quickly disintegrate and dissolve away.

The average man, however, has by no means freed himself from all lower desires before death, and consequently it takes a long period of more or less fully conscious life on the various sub-planes of the astral plane to allow the forces which he has generated to work themselves out, and thus release the higher ego.

The general principle is that when the astral body has exhausted its attractions to one level, the greater part of its grosser particles fall away, and it finds itself in affinity with a somewhat higher state of existence. Its specific gravity, as it were, is constantly decreasing, and so it steadily rises from the dense to the lighter strata, pausing only when it is exactly balanced for a time.

To be upon any given sub-plane in the astral world is to have developed sensitiveness of those particles in the astral body which belong to that sub-plane. To have perfect vision on the astral plane means to have developed sensitiveness in all particles of the astral body, so that all the sub-planes are simultaneously visible.

A man who has led a good and pure life, whose strongest feelings and aspirations have been unselfish and spiritual, will have no attractions to the astral plane, and will, if entirely left alone, find little to keep him upon it, or to awaken him into activity even during the comparatively short period of his stay. His earthly passions have been subdued during physical life, and the force of his will having been directed into higher channels, there is but little energy [Page 122] of lower desire to be worked out on the astral plane. Consequently his stay there will be very short, and most probably he will have little more than a dreamy half-consciousness, until he sinks into the sleep during which his higher principles finally free themselves from the astral body, and enter upon the blissful life of the heaven-world.

Expressed more technically, during physical life Manas has purified Kâma with which it was inter-woven, so that after death all that is left of Kâma is a mere residuum, easily shaken off by the withdrawing ego. Such a man therefore would have little consciousness on the astral plane.

It is quite possible that a man might, as a result of is previous incarnations, possess a good deal of coarse astral matter in his astral body. Even if he has been so brought up, and has so conducted his life, that he has not vivified that coarse matter, and although much of it may have dropped out and been replaced by finer materials, yet there may be quite a good deal left. Consequently the man would have to remain on a low level of the astral plane for some time, until in fact the coarse matter had all dropped out. But, as the coarse matter would not be vivified, he would have little consciousness and would practically sleep through the period of his sojourn there.

There is a point known as the critical point between every pair of sub-states of matter: ice may be raised to a point at which the least increment of heat will change it into liquid: water may be raised to a point at which the least increment of heat will change it into vapour. And so each sub-state of astral matter may be carried to a point of fineness at which any additional refinement would transform it into the next higher sub-state. If a man has done this for every sub-state of matter in his astral body, so it is purified to the last possible degree of delicacy, then the first touch of disintegrating force shatters its cohesion and resolves it into its original condition, leaving him free at once to pass on to the next [Page 123] sub-plane. His passage through the astral plane will thus be of inconceivable rapidity, and he will flash through the plane practically instantaneously to the higher state of the heaven-world.

Every person after death has to pass through all the sub-planes of the astral plane, on his way to the heaven-world. But whether or not he is conscious on any or all of them, and to what extent, will depend upon the factors enumerated.

For these reasons, it is clear that the amount of consciousness a man may possess on the astral plane, and the time he may spend there in his passage to the heaven-world, may vary within very wide limits. There are some who pass only a few hours or days on the astral plane: others remain there for many years, or even centuries.

For an ordinary person 20 or 30 years on the astral plane after death is a fair average. An exceptional case is that of Queen Elizabeth, who had so intense a love for her country that she has only quite recently passed into the heaven-world,having spent the time since her death in endeavouring, until recently almost without success, to impress upon her successors her ideas of what ought to be done for England.

Another notable example was that of Queen Victoria,who passed very rapidly through the astral plane and into the heaven-world, her swift passage being undoubtedly due to the millions of loving and grateful thought-forms which were sent to her, as well as to her inherent goodness.

The general question of the interval between earth-lives is complicated. It is possible here to touch briefly only on the astral portion of those intervals. For further details the student is referred to The Inner Life, Volume 2, pages 458-474.

Three principal factors have to be taken into account:-

(1) The class of ego
(2) The mode of individualisation.

(3) The length and nature of the last earth-life. [Page 124]

The following table gives a general average of the length of the astral life, as determined by the class of ego.

Individualised in Moon-Chain
Round No.
Present type Average length of Astral life.
5 Advanced egos (many) of these are taking continuous incarnations so that for them the question of intervals between lives does not arise) 5 years: an ego may even pass through rapidly and unconsciously
Men distinguished in art, science or religion General tendency is towards a longer astral life, especially in the case of artists and religious men.
6 Country gentlemen and professional men 20- 25 years
7 Upper middle class 25 years
Class of Ego      
Moon-Men: Second Order Bourgeoisie 40 years
Moon-Animal-Men Skilled workers 40, on middle level
Moon-Animal, First Class Unskilled labourers 40-50, on lower levels
Moon-Animals, Second Class Drunkards and unemployables 40-50, usually on 6th level
Moon-Animals, Third Class Lowest of humanity 5, on 7th level.

A certain difference is produced by the mode of individualisation , but this difference is much less in proportion in the lower classes. Those individualised through intellect tend to take an interval between lives rather longer than that taken by those who individualised in other ways. [Page 125]

Generally speaking, a man who dies young will have a shorter interval than one who dies in old age, but is likely to have a proportionately longer astral life, because most of the strong emotions which work themselves out in astral life are generated in the earlier part of the physical life.

It must be recollected that in the astral world or ordinary methods of time-measurement scarcely apply: even in physical life anxiety or pain will stretch a few hours almost indefinitely, and on the astral plane this characteristic is exaggerated a hundred-fold.

A man on the astral plane can measure time only by his sensations. For a distortion of this fact has come the false idea of eternal damnation.

We have thus seen that both (1) the time spent, and (2) the amount of consciousness experienced, on each level of the astral plane depend very largely upon the kind of life the man has led in the physical world. Another factor of great importance is the man's attitude of mind after physical death.

The astral life may be directed by the will, just as the physical life may be. A man with little will-power or initiative is, in the astral as in the physical world, very much the creature of the surroundings which he has made for himself. A determined man, on the other hand, can always make the best of his conditions and live his own life in spite of them.

A man, therefore, does not rid himself of evil tendencies in the astral world, unless he definitely works to that end. Unless he makes definite efforts, he will necessarily suffer from his inability to satisfy such cravings as can be gratified only by means of a physical body. In process of time the desires will wear themselves out and die down simply because of the impossibility of their fulfilment.

The process, however, may be greatly expedited as soon as the man realises the necessity of ridding himself of the evil desires which detain him, and makes the requisite effort. A man who is ignorant of the true state of affairs usually broods over his desires, thus [Page 126] lengthening their life,and clings desperately to the gross particles of astral matter as long as he can, because the sensations connected with them seem nearest to the physical life for which he still craves. The proper procedure for him, of course, is to kill out earthly desires and to withdraw into himself as quickly as possible.

Even a merely intellectual knowledge of the conditions of astral life, and, in fact, of Theosophical truths in general, is of inestimable value to a man in the after-death life.

It is of the utmost importance that after physical death a man should recognise quite clearly that he is withdrawing steadily towards the ego, and that consequently he should disengage his thoughts as far as may be from things physical and fix his attention upon spiritual matters which will occupy him when, in due time he passes from the astral plane into the mental or heaven-world.

By adopting this attitude he will greatly facilitate the natural disintegration of the astral body instead of unnecessarily and uselessly delaying himself upon the lower levels of the astral plane.

Many people, unfortunately, refuse to turn their thoughts upwards, but cling to earthly matters with desperate tenacity. As time passes on, they gradually, in the normal course of evolution, lose touch with the lower worlds: but by fighting every step of the way they cause themselves much unnecessary suffering and seriously delay their upward progress.

In this ignorant opposition to the natural course of things the possession of a physical corpse is of assistance to a man, the corpse serving as a kind of fulcrum on the physical plane. The best remedy for this tendency is cremation, which destroys the link with the physical plane.

A few typical examples of astral after-death life will best illustrate the nature and rational of that life.

An ordinary colourless man, neither specially good nor specially bad, is of course in no way changed by [Page 127] death, but remains colourless. Consequently, he will have no special suffering and no special joy: in fact,he may find life somewhat dull, because, having cultivated no particular interests during his physical life, he has none in his astral life.

If during his physical life he had no ideas beyond gossip, sport, business or dress, he will naturally, when these are no longer possible, be likely to find time hang heavily on his hands.

A man, however, who has had strong desires of a low type, who has been, for example, a drunkard or a sensualist, will be in far worse case. Not only will his cravings and desires remain with him (it will be recollected that the centres of sensation are situated, not in the physical body, but in Kâma, see page 24), but they will be stronger than ever, because their full force is expressed in astral matter, none of it being absorbed in setting in motion the heavy physical particles.

Being in the lowest and most depraved condition of astral life, such a man seems often to be still sufficiently near to the physical to be sensitive to certain odours, though the titillation produced is only sufficient still further to excite his mad desires and tantilise him to the verge of frenzy.

But, as he no longer possesses a physical body, through which alone his cravings can be allayed, he has no possibility of gratifying his terrible thirst. Hence the innumerable traditions of the fires of purgatory, found in nearly every religion, which are no inapt symbols for the torturing conditions described. Such a condition may last for quite a long time, since it passes away only by gradually wearing itself out.

The rationale and automatic justice of the whole process is clear: the man has created his conditions himself, by his own actions, and determined the exact degree of their power and duration. Furthermore, it is the only way in which he can get rid of his vices. For, if he were to be reincarnated immediately, he would start his next life precisely as he finished the [Page 128] preceding one: i.e., a slave to his passions and appetites: and the possibility of his ever becoming master of himself would be immeasurably reduced. But, as things are, his cravings having worn themselves out, he will be able to commence his next incarnation without the burden of them: and his ego, having had so severe a lesson, is likely to make every possible effort to restrain its lower vehicles from again making a similar mistake.

A confirmed drunkard will sometimes be able to draw round himself a veil of etheric matter, and thus partially materialise himself. He can then draw in the odour of the alcohol, but he does not smell it in the same sense as we do. Hence he is anxious to force others into the condition of drunkenness, so that he may be able partially to enter their physical bodies and obsess them, through their bodies being once more able to experience directly the tastes and other sensations for which he craves.

Obsession may be permanent or temporary. As just mentioned, a dead sensualist may seize upon any vehicle he can steal in order to gratify his coarse desires. At other times a man may obsess someone as a calculated act of revenge: a case is recorded where a man obsessed the daughter of his enemy.

Obsession can be best prevented or resisted by an exercise of will-power. When it occurs it is almost always because the victim has in the first place voluntarily yielded himself to the invading influence, and his first step therefore is to reverse the act of submission. The mind should be set steadily against the obsession in determined resistance, realising strongly that the human will is stronger than any evil influence.

Such obsession is of course utterly unnatural and in the highest degree harmful to both parties.

The effect of excessive tobacco-smoking on the astral body after death is remarkable. The poison so fills the astral body that it stiffens under its influences and is unable to work properly or to move freely. For the time, the man is as though paralysed - [Page 129] able to speak, yet debarred from movement, and almost entirely cut off from higher influences. When the poisoned part of his astral body wears away, he emerges from this unpleasant predicament.

The astral body changes its particles, just as does the physical body, but there is nothing to correspond to eating and digesting food. The astral particles which fall away are replaced by others from the surrounding atmosphere. The purely physical cravings of hunger and thirst no longer exist there: but the desire of the glutton to gratify the sensation of taste, and the desire of the drunkard for the feelings which follow the absorption of alcohol, being both astral, still persist: and, as already stated, they may cause great suffering owing to the absence of the physical body through which alone they could be satisfied.

Many myths and traditions exist, exemplifying the conditions described. One of them is that of Tantalus, who suffered from raging thirst, yet was doomed to see the water recede just as it was about to touch his lips. Another, typifying ambition, is that of Sisyphus, condemned to roll a heavy rock up a mountain, only see it roll down again. The rock represents ambitious plans which such a man continues to form, only to realise that he has no physical body with which to carry them out. Eventually he wears out his selfish ambition, realises that he need not roll his rock, and lets it rest in peace at the bottom of the hill.

Another story was that of Tityus, a man who was tied to a rock, his liver being gnawed by vultures, and growing against as fast as it was eaten. This symbolised a man tortured by the gnawings of remorse for sins committed on earth.

The worse that the ordinary man of the world usually provides for himself after death is a useless and unutterably wearisome existence, void of all rational interests - the natural sequel of a life wasted in self-indulgence, triviality and gossip here on earth.

The only things for which he craves are no longer possible to him, for in the astral world there is no [Page 130] business to be done, and, thought he may have as much companionship as he wishes, society is now for him a very different matter, because all the pretensions upon which it is usually based in this world are no longer possible.

Man thus makes for himself both his own purgatory and his own heaven, and these are not places but states of consciousness. Hell does not exist: it is only a figment of the theological imagination .Neither purgatory nor heaven can ever be eternal, for a finite cause cannot produce an infinite result.

Nevertheless, the conditions of the worst type of man after death are perhaps best described by the word "hell", though they are not everlasting. Thus, for example, it sometimes happens that a murdered is followed about by his victim, never being able to escape from his haunting presence. The victim (unless himself of a very base type) is wrapped in unconsciousness, and this very unconsciousness seems to add a new horror to the mechanical pursuit.

The vivisectors also has his "hell", where he lives amid the crowding forms of his mutilated victims - moaning, quivering, howling. These are vivified, not by the animal souls, but by elemental life pulsing with hatred to the tormentor, rehearsing his worst experiments with automatic regularity, conscious of all their horror, and yet impelled to the self-torture by the habits set up during earth-life.

Such conditions are not produced arbitrarily, but are the inevitable results of causes set in operation by each person. Nature's lessons are sharp, but in the long run they are merciful, for they lead to the evolution of the soul, being strictly corrective and salutary.

For most people the state after death is much happier than life upon earth. The first feeling of which the dead man is usually conscious is one of the most wonderful and delightful freedom; he has nothing to worry about, and no duties rest upon him, except those which he chooses to impose upon himself.

Regarded from this point of view, it is clear that [Page 131] there is ample justification for the assertion that people physically"alive", buried and cramped as they are in physical bodies, are in the true sense far less "alive" than those usually termed dead. The so-called dead are much more free and, being less hampered by material condition as, ar able work far more effectively and to cover a wider field of activity.

A man who, not having permitted the re-arrangement of his astral body, is free of the entire astral world, does not find it inconveniently crowded, because the astral world is much larger than the surface of the physical earth, while its population is somewhat smaller, the average life of humanity in the astral world (see page 124) being shorter than the average in the physical.

In addition to the dead, there are also, of course, on the astral plane about one-third of the living, who have temporarily left the physical body during sleep.

Although the whole astral plane is open to any of its inhabitants who have not permitted the re-arrangement of their astral bodies, yet the great majority remain near the surface of the earth.

Passing to a higher type of man, we may consider one who has some interests of a rational nature, e.g., music, literature, science, etc. The need to spend a large proportion of each day in "earning a living" no longer existing, the man is free to do precisely what he likes, so long as it capable of realisation without physical matter. In the astral life it is possible not only to listen to the grandest music but to hear far more of it than before, because there are in the astral world other and fuller harmonies than the relatively dull physical ears can hear. For the artist, all the loveliness of the higher astral world is open for his enjoyment. A man can readily and rapidly move from place to place and see the wonders of Nature, obviously far more easily than he could ever do on the physical plane. If he is a historian or a scientist, the libraries and the laboratories of the world are at his disposal: his comprehension of natural processes will [Page 132] be far fuller than ever before, because he can now see the inner as well as the outer workings, and many of the causes where previously he saw only the effects. In all these cases his delight is greatly enhanced, because no fatigue is possible (see page 82).

A philanthropist can pursue his beneficent work more vigorously than ever before and under better conditions than in the physical world. There are thousands whom he can help, and with greater certainty of conferring real benefit.

It is quite possible for any person upon the astral plane after death to set himself to study, and to acquire entirely new ideas. Thus, people may learn of Theosophy for the first time in the astral world. A case is on record even of a person learning music there, though this is unusual.

In general, life on the astral plane is more active than on the physical plane, astral matter being more highly vitalised than physical matter, and form being more plastic. The possibilities on the astral plane, both of enjoyment and of progress, are in every way much greater than those on the physical plane. But the possibilities are of a higher class, and it needs a certain amount of intelligence to take advantage of them. A man who has whilst on earth devoted the whole of his thought and energy solely to material things, is little likely to be able to adapt himself to more advanced conditions, as his semi-atrophied mind will not be strong enough to grasp the wider possibilities of the grander life.

A man whose life and interests are of a higher type may be able to do more good in a few years of astral existence than ever he could have done in the longest physical life.

Astral pleasures being so much greater than those of the physical world, there is danger of people being turned aside by them from the path of progress. But even the delights of the astral life do not present a serious danger to those who have realised a little of something higher. After death a man should try to [Page 133] pass through the astral levels as speedily as possible, consistently with usefulness, and not yield to their refined pleasures any more than to those of the physical.

Any developed man is in every way quite as active during astral life after death as during his physical life: he can unquestionably help or hinder his own progress and that of others quite as much after death as before, and consequently he is all the time generating karma of the greatest importance.

In fact, the consciousness of a man living entirely in the astral world is usually much more definite than it has been during his sleep astral life, and he is correspondingly better able to think and act with determination, so that his opportunities of making good or bad karma are the greater.

It may be said in general that man can make karma wherever his consciousness is developed, or wherever he can act or choose. Thus actions done on the astral plane may bear karmic fruit in the next earth life.

On the lowest astral sub-plane a man, having other things to occupy his attention, concerns himself little with what takes place in the physical world, except when he haunts vile resorts.

On the next sub-plane, the sixth, are found men who, whilst alive, centred their desires and thoughts chiefly in mere worldly affairs. Consequently, they still hover about the persons and places with which they were most closely associated while on earth, and may be conscious of many things in connection with these. They never, however, see physical matter itself, but always the astral counterpart of it.

Thus, for example, a theatre full of people has its astral counterpart, which is visible to astral entities. They would not, however, be able to see, as we see them, either the costumes or the expressions of the actors, and the emotions of the players, being not real but simulated, would make no impression on the astral plane. [Page 134]

Those on the sixth sub-plane, which is on the surface of the earth, find themselves surrounded by the astral counterparts of physically existing mountains, trees, lakes, etc..

On the next two sub-planes, the fifth and fourth, this consciousness of physical affairs is also possible, though in rapidly diminishing degree.

On the next two sub-planes, the third and second, contact with the physical plane could be obtained only by a special effort to communicate through a medium.

From the highest, the first sub-plane, even communication through a medium would be very difficult.

Those loving on the higher sub-planes usually provide themselves with whatever scenes they desire. Thus in one portion of the astral world men surround themselves with landscapes of their own creation: others accept ready-made the landscapes which have already been constructed by others. (A description of the various levels or sub-planes will be given in Chapter 16).

In some cases men construct for themselves the weird scenes described in their various religious scriptures, manufacturing clumsy attempts at jewels growing on trees, seas of glass mingled with fire, creatures full of eyes within, and deities with a hundred heads and arms.

In what the Spiritualists call the Summerland, people of the same race and the same religion tend to keep together after death just as they do during life, so that there is a kind of network of summerlands over the countries to which belong the persons who have created them, communities being formed, differing as widely from each other as do similar communities on earth. This is due not only to natural affinity but also to the fact that barriers of language still exist on the astral plane.

This principle applies, in fact, to the astral plane in general. Thus at spiritualist séances in Ceylon,it was found that the communicating entities were Buddhists, and that beyond the grave they had found their religious preconceptions confirmed, exactly as had [Page 135] the members of various Christian sects in Europe. Men find on the astral plane not only their own thought-forms, but those made by others - these, in some cases, being the product of generations of thought from thousands of people, all following along the same lines.

It is not uncommon for parents to endeavour to impress their wishes on their children, e.g., with regard to some particular alliance on which their heart is set. Such an influence is insidious, an ordinary man being likely to take the steady pressure for his own sub-conscious desire.

In many cases the dead have constituted themselves guardian angels to the living, mothers often protecting their sons, husbands their widows, and so on, for many years.

In others cases a dead writer or musical composer may impress his ideas upon a writer of composer in the physical world, so that many books credited to the living are really the work of the dead. The person who actually executes the writing may be conscious of the influence, or may be entirely unconscious of it.

One leading novelist has stated that his stories come to him he knows not whence - that they are in reality written not by him, but through him. He recognises the state of affairs: there are probably many others in the same case who are quite unconscious of it.

A doctor who dies often continues after death to take an interest in his patients, endeavouring to cure them from the other side, or to suggest to his successor methods of treatment which, with his newly-acquired astral faculties, he sees would be useful.

Whilst most ordinary "good" people, who die natural deaths, are unlikely to be conscious of anything physical at all, as they sweep through all the lower stages before awakening to astral consciousness, yet some, even of these, may be drawn back into touch with the physical world by great anxiety about someone left behind.

The grief of relatives and friends may also attract the attention of one who has passed to the astral plane [Page 136] and tend to draw him down into touch with earth life again. This downward tendency grows with use and the man is likely to exert his will to keep in touch with the physical world. For a time his power of seeing earthly things will increase; but presently it will diminish, and then he will probably suffer mentally as he feels his power slipping from him.

In many cases people not only cause themselves an immense amount of wholly unnecessary pain, but often also do serious injury to those for whom they mourn with intense and uncontrolled grief.

During the whole period of the astral plane life, whether it be long or short, the man is within the reach of earth influences. In the cases just mentioned the passionate sorrow and desires of friends on earth would set up vibrations in the astral body of the man who had died, and so reach and rouse his mind or lower manas. Thus aroused from his dreamy state to vivid remembrance of earth life, he may endeavour to communicate with his earth friends, possibly through a medium. Such an awakening is often accompanied by acute suffering, and in any even the natural process of the ego's withdrawal is delayed.

Occult teaching does not for a moment counsel forgetfulness of the dead: but it does suggest that affectionate remembrance of the dead is a force which, if properly directed towards helping his progress towards the heaven-world, and his passage through the intermediate state, might be of real value to him, whereas mourning is not only useless but harmful. It is with a true instinct that the Hindu religion prescribes its Shrâddha ceremonies and the Catholic Church its prayers for the dead.

Prayers, with their accompanying ceremonies, create elementals which strike against the Kâmalokic entity's astral body, and hasten its disfiguration, thus speeding him on towards the heaven-world.

When, for example, a Mass is offered with a definite intention of helping a dead person, that person will undoubtedly benefit by the downpouring of force: [Page 137] the strong thought about him inevitably attracts his attention, and when he is drawn to the church he takes part in the ceremony and enjoys a large share in its results. Even if he be still unconscious, the priest's will and prayer directs the stream of force towards the person concerned.

Even the earnest general prayer or wish for the good of the dead as a whole, though likely to be vague and therefore less efficient than a more definite thought, has yet in the aggregate produced an effect whose importance it would be difficult to exaggerate. Europe little knows how much it owes to those great religious orders who devote themselves night and day to ceaseless prayer for the faithful departed. [Page 138]

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