“Nature-Spirits and Elementals”
Theosophist, February, 1882
A correspondent of Light having asked Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, the famous Spiritualist speaker and author, to state her beliefs as regards the existence of sub-human orders of “spirits,” our excellent friend has, in the number of that journal for 3rd December, given them without reserve. Before quoting them, we must inform our readers that Spiritualists have always opposed the allegations of Theosophists that such races of beings exist, and we have had to put up with no little hard scolding from them. Mrs. Britten, incautiously, as we think, uses the word “Elementary,” to signify nature-spirits, or the forces of Nature. A clear distinction should be drawn between these nature-spirits, and the psychic shells of once living human beings, known in India as bhutas. To mark this difference and, if possible, avoid confusion, we applied, in Isis, the name “Elementals” to the nature-spirits, and used the word “Elementary” to designate the bhutas. Mrs. Britten says:—
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Protesting in advance against being forced into the arena of literary warfare, the unspiritual character of which too often offends and disgusts the readers of our journals, I simply reply to the inquiry of “Student,” that I—as one who not only believes in Elementary Spirits, but claims to have seen them, and conversed with many others who have had similar experiences—am accustomed to classify all sub-human Spirits as elementary in organization, and I presume the term “Nature-Spirits” is simply applied to such existences from the position which they occupy in the realm of nature.
I have recently seen in one of the Spiritual journals, though I cannot at this moment recall which, a beautiful simile, used to represent the position of man in the scale of creation, namely, as standing midway upon the famous ladder whose foot is on earth and its highest round [rung] in Heaven. If this position represents a physical truth, of which material existence is the visible witness, is there no corresponding Spiritual ladder in which descending grades of being are as obvious and philosophical a necessity, as the ascending scale which Spiritualists so readily acknowledge? If the Darwinian chart of material progress presents features of absolute demonstration on so many points that its unsolved problems can afford to stand over, awaiting proofs which the future must yield up, can the Spiritualist be content to supplement Darwin’s merely materialistic footprints of being, with an advance into Spiritual realms beyond matter, yet utterly ignore the existence of Spiritual realms of being as the antecedents of matter? 1 Are there no embryonic states for the soul, as well as for the body; no realms of gestation for Spiritual, as well as for material, forms? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I will take up your space no further than to repeat that I have seen Elementary Spirits in many forms, and on many grades of the scale of being, and that I believe I have conversed or corresponded with many hundreds of intelligent persons who think with me, that they have as good evidence of the existence both of sub human and superhuman Spirits, as of simply human Spirits. That intercourse with these realms of being has been far more rare than with human Spirits I allow; hence those who have entered upon it shrink back with as much dislike and pain from the coarse denial and rude contempt of others who have not shared their experience as Spiritualists themselves feel when their belief is assailed by ignorance and bigotry. Hence it is also that little is said or written on this subject at present; and though I have reason to believe in the great unfoldments of Spiritual life and being, upon the mere threshold of which we are now standing, that far and wider and more astounding revelations from the Spiritual side of man’s nature await us than the limited vistas we now gaze upon afford, I deem it in the best interests of truth that we should advance most cautiously; accepting only that which we can prove in ordinary experiences, and leaving extraordinary revealments to unfold themselves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I am, very faithfully yours,
The Limes, Humphrey-street,
Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
In the same number of Light we learn from a correspondent signing himself “Ma”—that the “earliest Gods of Egypt, following the Mother of Gods, were the Eight who ruled in Am-Smen before the firmament of Ra was uplifted”; and that “they are known to all Egyptologists as the eight elementaries.”
A new proof of the correctness of cyclic necessity: gods worshipped ninety centuries B.C., becoming candidates for the same in the nineteenth A.D.!
1. We do not know what the eminent author of Modern American Spiritualism really means by the words “beyond” and “antecedents of matter” in this application. Surely, she cannot mean that there exists any realm of “being” beyond or outside of matter? Such realm would be one of pure Spirit, i.e., of absolute immateriality in which it is hardly necessary to remind any one there can be no being; as a “being” of any description whatsoever implies something organized, and that something can never be formed out of nothing.—ED. [H.P.B.]