The Word Foundation



Vol. 20 JANUARY, 1915. No. 4

Copyright, 1915, by H. W. PERCIVAL.


Ghosts That Never Were Men.

THERE is a general belief and always has been, that there are races of beings which are not men, and which are not the ghosts of living men, nor the ghosts of dead men. These beings are ghosts that never were men. They are referred to by various names: gods and half-gods, angels, devils, fairies, elves, spunkies, kelpies, brownies, nymphs, imps, hobgoblins, oreads, hyads, dryads, naiads, nereids, fauns, satyrs, succubi, incubi, elementals, gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders.

In earlier times, the belief in such beings was universal. Few doubted their existence. Today, in thickly populated places, these elemental beings exist for man in printed legends and story books only. Nurses and mothers, if they come from the country, still tell of them to the little ones, but Mother Goose rhymes have the preference.

What has become of the spirits whom the North American Indian believed to cause earthquakes, rains, storms, fires, and who peopled the forests, who rose from the lakes and the rivers, who danced over the waterfalls and sported in the moonlight, who whispered in the winds, whose fiery shapes flashed in the red dawn or the track of the sinking sun?

Where are the nymphs, the fauns, the satyrs, that played in the streams and groves of Hellas? They took part and had a place in the life of the people of those days. Today people do not know of these entities, except that in out-of-the-way places, in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, in the Carpathian ranges, they are said to exist.

The alchemists of Arabia, France, England, Germany, wrote extensively about the four classes of elementals, the beings who peopled the occult elements of fire, air, water and earth. Some of the alchemists, Geber, Robert Fludd, Paracelsus, Thomas Vaughn, Roger Bacon, Khunrath, spoke of their acquaintance with these beings.

The elemental beings are not to be uncovered by the scalpel of the anatomist. The magnifying glasses of the biologist will not open the way to their abode, nor will the test tube of the chemist reveal them, their doings, their realms, and rulers. The material views and thoughts of modern times have banished them from us, and us from them. The supercilious attitude of science toward all that is intangible, invisible, and without commercial value, puts a ban on any who would give attention and serious thought to the elemental races. Excommunication in the Middle Ages has today its parallel in the casting out of a heretic from the ranks of established university-dressed-and-fed teachers of science. To poets and artists, license is given to occupy themselves with these unrealities; it may be because they are suffered to be fantastic.

The teachers of modern science ridicule the lore about the elemental people. The fathers of modern science sat at the feet of Aristotle, who believed in the elemental races. Paracelsus and Von Helmont, the discoverers of important elements of modern chemistry, claimed to be able to command some of the nature spirits.

From the Greeks we have our philosophy, our art, the desire to shun the base, and our aspirations for virtue. It is not becoming the learned to ridicule what was not a mere belief, but was looked upon as a fact by these Greeks.

The subject of ghosts that never were men, will be treated here under two broad headings: first, their place in evolution, and their natures and doings; second, their relation to man.

Matter is of many states, planes and worlds. The matter of a world is again divided into many planes and degrees. The beings of a world are conscious of certain states of the matter of their own world, but not of all of the states of the matter of that world. The states of matter of which the beings of any world are conscious, are usually the grosser states only of the matter of that world. The matter of which they are conscious is related to the matter of the bodies of that world. To become conscious of other matter than that of the kind of their bodies, their bodies must first be attuned to the touch of that other matter. The beings of the physical world are not conscious of the beings of the psychic world, nor of the beings of the mental world, nor of the beings of the spiritual world. Each of the worlds is of one element, and that element is the matter of that world.

The element of every one world is divided into various states and planes. There is one primal element for that world, but that primal element is unknown to the beings of that world who are conscious only of the plane on which they act in their bodies. Our physical world is surrounded, penetrated, supported, by the three other worlds, the psychic, mental, and spiritual. The elements of these worlds are earth, water, air, and fire.

By these elements are not meant the earth we walk on, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the fire we see as flame. Within these phenomena is that by which the at-present unknown four elements may be known.

The spiritual world is of the element of fire. The manifested universe begins and ends in this world. In it are included the three other manifested worlds. Fire is the spiritual element, the element of the spiritual world. Fire is the Spirit. The world of Fire is the Eternal. In its pure sphere the other worlds have their places, one within the other. In it there is no darkness, misery, death. Here all beings of the manifested worlds have their origin and end. Beginning and end are one in the Eternal, the Fire. The beginning is the passing out into the next world; the end is the return. There is an unmanifested side and a manifested side of the fire sphere. The fire of that world does not destroy, does not consume. It endows its beings with the fire, the true spirit, and immortalizes them. The matter in that world is latent or potential. The fire is the active force.

Within the manifested part of the fire world, is the mental world. That world, the matter of which is life matter, atomic matter, is the sphere of air. This air is not our physical atmosphere. It is the second element in the manifested universe, and at present unknown to physical investigators. Neither the matter nor the beings of the air sphere can be perceived by human senses. The air sphere and what is in it is perceived by the mind; hence it is called the mental world. Not all beings of the air element have mind. Whereas the sphere of fire was the Eternal, the mental world is the time world. Time has its origin in the mental world, which is in the manifested part of the Eternal. In this world the periods of the lives of all beings in the life world and in the two lower worlds are regulated. There is an unmanifested side and a manifested side of the sphere of air. In the mental world are no forms in the sense in which beings of sensuous perceptions perceive or know of forms. In the mental world are mental forms, not sensuous forms. The beings in the spiritual and mental worlds have not forms as we perceive forms; our perception of form being by mass, outline, and color.

Within the manifested half of the sphere of air is the sphere of water, the psychic world. This is the world in which our five senses function. Of course, what is here called water is not the chemical compound of hydrogen and oxygen. Matter in this world is molecular. This is the world of forms, of shapes. The sphere of water is the world of sensations and emotions. The astral world is comprehended in this psychic world, but is not co-extensive with it. What is known as the astral world, is the downward or involutionary part of the manifested side of the psychic world. The sphere of the element of water has an unmanifested and a manifested side.

Within the manifested side of the sphere of water is the sphere of earth. This sphere of earth is by no means our physical earth. The earth element or sphere of earth has its manifested and unmanifested sides. The manifested side of the sphere of earth is here called the physical world and has four planes, the solid, the liquid, the gaseous, and the fiery, as radiant. There are three more planes of the sphere of earth, but they do not come within the range of our five senses, and these three planes of the unmanifested side of the sphere of earth are unperceived by us.

To perceive objects on the three upper or unmanifested planes of the sphere of earth, man must have developed or have been endowed at birth with senses attuned to those three planes. Persons who see things, or hear or smell things that are not physical, generally suppose they perceive in the astral; but in fact, in most cases, they perceive on the unseen planes of the sphere of earth.

The purpose of this outline is to make plain how the worlds in which the elemental beings are, reach into each other; and to make plain how the sphere of earth comprises and is interpenetrated by the three other spheres. Each of the elements of the other three worlds is in contact with and acts through the sphere of earth. The four states of physical matter, solid, fluid, airy, fiery, correspond to the four great spheres of the four occult elements, earth, water, air, fire.

(To be continued.)