The role of 'elementals' in visions and appearances
There is a great wealth of testimonial evidence from the whole of the world and history that belief or faith - involving intense emotional or mental preoccupation of some kind - can open the experience of visions, apparitions and apparently miraculous phenomena. There is an ancient explanation of this, supported by the investigations of many people - including the more reasonable psychic and mediums of modern societies - that these are effected in many cases - if not all perhaps - by disincarnate entities known as 'elementals'. Instances where strong faith or will is not evidently operative, yet where elementals would seem to have initiated experiences without prior expectation or warning signs are also widely reported. Elementals rely on the capacity or power of the human mind to attract forms and so 'form reality'. The many traditions of magic, white or black, throughout cultures and eras, appear to depend upon the control - or at least invocation - of 'elementals'.
The existence of elementals that seek opportunities to take on any form that a living person's mind or subconscious can provide for them could explain many otherwise incomprehensible 'manifestations', from ghosts and poltergeists to UFOs & extra-terrestrials and even the appearance of divine figures, the manifestation of deities (ishtadarshan) and religious personages. Some of these may be beneficial, some quite the opposite. Advaitic spirituality teaches that, ultimately, everything is a product of mind, which fits very well with this.
Among traditional forms of apparitions and visions in which many believed (and many still do) can sometimes be seen, conversed with and even touched by people are elves, fairies, leprechauns, gnomes, trolls, water spirits, animal and plant spirits or 'devas' , angels, invisible helpers', shaman 'spirits', 'allies' , UFOs, extra-terrestrials, possessive demons, Satan, Pan-figures and other demi-gods. Elementals may sometimes also assume the characteristics (voice, personality traits etc.), or even the physical form, of a departed person, as can allegedly be experienced in spiritualistic sessions.
I am well aware that most people who work in some scientific pursuit, or are involved with psychology and not least in psychiatry, will reject the views I air here, according to the supposed 'scientific correctness' of the times. Such professionals are very often too ensconced in their own beliefs to take notice that something is known of matters outside their ken, for they seldom set a foot beyond their mentally-furnished worlds into the uncomfortable realm of real uncertainties or self-risk.
I happen to have had a considerable number of experiences of otherwise inexplicable phenomena that fit with the thesis of elementals. Once, for example, when I was much attracted to nature mysticism, some wonderful synchronicities with creatures took place. I was writing a drama involving aboriginals and their beliefs, including their worship of lizards as wise spirits. While wondering to myself whether I should make reference to the wisdom of lizards, I was interrupted by a soft but strange scraping noise. A lizard - which I had never seen in Norway before (though they do exist here), was in the room beside me and had climbed a curtain, so was near to my head. It let me pick it up! I kept it for an hour in a jar so my wife would actually see it! The same kind of mysterious power manifested when I was describing a butterfly in a text I was writing... couldn't remember to convey to my wife what species it was, when one of that species - a peacock butterfly - flew over and landed on the tarmac road literally at our feet. It was very late in the year and cold, so no other butterflies were to be seen anywhere.
When I was connected in the 1970s with a pure Indian swami who lived in England (Swami Ambikananda), and to whom I had an intense relationship for some period, the same kind of synchronous phenomena occurred... and grew into a whole range of simultaneous thoughts-cum-events. It became very troublesome, for the more I concentrated on my connection to him, the more every other thought remotely I had about it seemed to produce a creak in the woodwork of the house or various 'signs' relating to him. During one period, the flame of a candle before his picture would 'answer' my definitive mental desire for an affirmation by directly sinking almost down to extinction for some time before burning up again.
My 'explanation' of these events, as far as far I have been able to discover through a range of subsequent experiences and wide reading on the subject, is that they are produced by so-called 'elementals'. Elementals are disincarnate spirits - probably of all levels of karmic development from lowest to highest, which can take on any sensory form whatever for a person, depending on whether one's mind is in one way or another open to them. This can occur through repeated deep concentration on some form or desired vision, through intensity of yearning for some such experience or willing it persistently. There are many ways in which the human mind or soul can be 'invaded' too, through magic, misguided yogic practises, mediumism, intensive prayer, hypnotically-induced and other kinds of trance, the use of alcohol or mind-altering drugs, mental derangement and psychosis, physical accidents, even from excessive bleeding... the list goes on. There is much evidence that elementals can be involved in some of the above-mentioned conditions, enter and influence or 'possess' a person, either partially or more or less wholly, sometimes more than one at a time (as appears to be so in some cases of schizophrenia).
SOME SOURCES PROVIDING SUPPORT OR EVIDENCE ON ELEMENTALS
Some of the most remarkable evidence for the 'existence of other worlds' comes from Immanuel Swedenborg (1688- 1772). To begin with, Immanuel Swedenborg was an all-round scientific genius in Sweden in the 17th century, who travelled widely and made many ground-breaking discoveries in the sciences. He bears comparison with any original European thinker, from Plato to Da Vinci to Newton and Darwin. The reason why Swedenborg is not universally acclaimed is firstly partly because few historians of science etc. can read Latin or Swedish (until fairly recently, very few of Swedenborgs works were unavailable in English). Further, Swedenborg was so selfless that he never asserted his authorship/copyright. Kant visited him in his latter years, wishing to verify the fact that Swedenborg had grown a third set of new teeth in his old age, telling that it was an explicit blessing from the Lord. Kant was apparently strongly influenced by the meeting, though it was too near the close of his own authorship to affect a philosophical revision.
He was the first to put forward the hypothesis of geo-evolution, basing this on studies of topography and nature in Europe during his travels and he proposed the ice age theory. He was first to hypothesise what became the Kant-LaPlace theory of the origin of the solar system. He was first to identify the human brain as the organ of thought having distinct left and right functions. He pursued the sciences and engineering until ca. his 40s - he published many large seminal works covering all then-known science with many original theories now accepted (but attributed to aftercomers). Not only was Swedenborg a master of practically all (17th century) science, he was a vastly original theoriser and researcher in many of them (maths, cosmology, physiology, neurology). He did very original work in anatomy, chemistry, mining and naval engineering Besides, he was an engineer who developed Swedenís first modern mines and canals. He invented and built the first underwater vessel (submarine), having learnt several trades thoroughly by living in the families of artisans in London (where he spend perhaps 1/2 of his time in adulthood. He became an inventive chief engineer who fathered 14 mechanical inventions in mining, canal construction... as well as the first submarine vessel. He was a leading member of the Swedish Parliament and a highly respected figure in academic circles in Europe.
When he had exhausted the known sciences of his time, having added many vital hypotheses himself, Swedenborg was contacted by Divinity and allegedly given access to all the spiritual realms continuously for the last 40 or so years of his life. His clairvoyance, which he never flaunted, was attested to by many contemporaries, including the highest authorities of the time in Sweden and elsewhere, such as by the mayor and his assembled counsellors in Gothenburg when S. related incidents to them direct from a major fire in Stockholm as they occurred, including the danger to his own house, of which event the news only came days later by horse. Asked by the then Queen of Sweden to tell her of some secret thing, he told her the exact words of a secret clause she had agreed with the Russian ambassador, known only to she and he, while signing a peace treaty. She went white and eventually told her courtiers the whole matter.
Swedenborg's voluminous writings describe in great detail the existence of 'other worlds' as mental or spiritual spheres in which spirits of all kinds exist. These descriptions turned out to match, with considerable exactness, the comparative reconstruction of patients' experiences made over many years related to an American worker in a psychiatric institution by Wilson van Dusen before he heard of Swedenborg.1
In his famous book from 1934 A Search in Secret India,2 Paul Brunton - then a journalist for United Press International - observed a number of paranormal phenomena. One of his first encounters was in Bombay with an Egyptian, Mahmoud Bey, one of a line of medieval sorcerers that are not uncommon in Egypt. Brunton wrote a question on a piece of paper which Mahmoud Bey could in no way see and folded it into a tiny square. He was then asked to clench the paper in his hand along with a pencil. The Egyptian appeared to fall into deep concentration, opened his eyes and told Brunton his question, quite correctly, then asked him to open the paper in his hand. On it was written the answer to Brunton's question. The writing was reportedly still on the paper months later when Brunton wrote about it.
I have heard from others of similar feats with paper and writing being performed in India, in one case a Norwegian engineer was quite badly scared when a man on the street showed him a piece of paper with a word he had chosen to think of that only he knew. However, Brunton was later able to question the sorcerer about the means by which this feat was achieved, by magic ritual in which spirits were his 'invisible employees'. Mahmoud Bey explained that he had gained control of his spirit attendants by three years of difficult practice. Some spirits or jinns are like animals, some like men, some good and some bad, though the Egyptian tried only to use good djinns and had control of about thirty such. Bad djinns, he said, were dangerous and could turn treacherously on the man who is using them and kill him. Each spirit servant had a particular duty, one of which was to write on paper, another to communicate what was written to him.
In 1935, Brunton published a further account, A Search in Secret Egypt 3. There he relates how he traced another magician, this time in Egypt itself. He also told Brunton that a magician who has imperfectly mastered these genii as servants, or who misuses his powers or weakens in will, risks that the rise in pitiless revolt against him, for they can have intelligence and wit of thir own. The ancient Egyptians, according to this sorcerer, had used such spirit servants to guard tombs and treasures.
Madame Blavatsky's alleged spiritual master, Koot Hoomi, in his 'first instruction concerning karma', informed that:-
"... the thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world, and becomes an active entity by associating itself, coalescing we might term it, with an elemental - that is to say, with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence - a creature of the mind's begetting - for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus a good thought is perpetuated as an active, beneficent power, an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offspring of his fancies, desires, impulses, passions... which reacts upon any sensitive or nervous organisations which come in contact with it, in proportion to its dynamic energy. The Buddhist calls this his 'Skamdha', the Hindu gives it the name of 'Karma'. The adept evolves these shapes consciously; other men throw them off unconsciously... "4
Madame Blavatsky's spiritual and often self-biographical 'novel' From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan5, which is seriously educative of Eastern thought in intent, though fantasy is used to that end artistically - contains numerous references to disincarnate 'entities', which is part and parcel of the laws of metempsychosis as taught by Indian scripture. Hindus believe in bodiless evil spirits (bhutas) which hunger to gratify their impure earthly desires with the help of living organs temporarily taken possession of by them. She writes:-
"The notions, ideas and conclusions of the Hindus on this point are diametrically opposed to the aspirations and hopes of Western Spiritualists. 'A good and pure spirit,' they say, 'will not let his soul revisit the earth, if this soul is pure also. He is glad to die and unite the spirit (atman) with Brahman, to live an eternal life in Svarga (heaven)...' But this is not what awaits the wicked soul. The soul that does not succeed in casting off earthly desires before death ensues, is weighed down by its sins, and, instead of reincarnating at once in some new form, according to the laws of metempsychosis, is doomed to wander on earth without a physical body. It becomes a bhuta, and its own sufferings will sometimes cause incredible suffering to its own kinsmen." (p. 169f)
Madame Blavatsky also reports that an old Hindu told her that "every animal, whatever it may be, possesses a lawful body and the right to make an honest use of it." to become a bhuta is a horrible condition, "ever watching for an opportunity to benefit at someone else's expense" (p. 170)
She also summarises the Vedantic view of the composition of human nature (and that view does accord with other prominent authorities) and what survives death. While the physical body (sthula-sarira) and the "vital" or life principle soon both disappear without trace after death, five other aspects continue. Of these, the astral or 'phantom' double 'body', and the faculty known as the 'seat of desires' (kama-rupa), as well as the 'seat of the mind' (manas) survive physical death according to the condition of the mind when the person was alive, while the essential principles of the divine soul and spirit pass beyond these egoic 'remains' (ibid p.553ff). It is the continuing astral form, the unshed desires, and the active mind-stuff that are contacted by mediums, not the 'real person' as such.
1. Wilson van Dusen Presence of Other Worlds (Harper & Row. N.Y. 1974)
2. Dr. Paul BruntonA Search in Secret India Rider & Co. UK, 1934.
3. Dr. Paul BruntonA Search in Secret Egypt Rider & Co. UK, 1935.
4.A.P. Sinnett Occult World 1881, p 108f.
5. H.P. Blavatsky From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan The Theological Publishing House Wheaton, Illinois. (1975).
© Robert Priddy, British, author & retired researcher and teacher in
philosophy and social science at the University of Oslo, Norway.
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