Ethereal being

Ethereal being
Water nymph by John Collier, 1923.

Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the mystical and the everyday world. Given the lack of scientific evidence of their existence, science does not acknowledge as factual, though paranormal researchers and psychics claim them as real.

Several belief systems include ethereal beings such as ghosts, mythological entities, nature spirits, angels, thoughtforms, jinns,[1][2] and they are mentioned in religious, folkloristic, and magic texts. Since the nineteenth century, the existence of ethereal beings was being claimed by various spiritualist philosophies as well, and they are found in the popular imagination and represented in movies, TV series and cartoons.



Dancing elves”: Älvalek by August Malmström, 1866.

Originating between 1250 and 1300 from Middle English, being refers to "a living creature; the state or fact of existence, consciousness, or life, or something in such a state".[3] In philosophy, being is the object of the study of metaphysics, particularly ontology. The term being is characteristically comprehended as one's state of being, and consequently its common meaning is in the background of human experience, with aspects that involve expressions and manifestations coming from a being's innate being, or personal character.

Ethereal derives from the Latin aetherius, meaning “of or pertaining to the ether, the sky, or the air or upper air”, and from the Ancient Greek aitherios (αἰθέριος), meaning "of or pertaining to the upper air".[4] The analogous variant Aether originates from Æthere (Greek: Αἰθήρ). Aether in Greek mythology is one of the Protogenoi, the first-born elemental gods. A deity, son of Erebus and Nyx, Aether is the personification of the upper sky, space, and heaven, and is the elemental god of the “Bright, Glowing, Upper Air”.[5]

Hindu philosophy relates Aether to the concept of Akasha (आकाश), a Sanskrit word. The Nyaya and Vaisheshika traditions of Hindu philosophy set Akasha or ether as the fifth physical substance, which is the "substratum of the quality of sound". "It is the One, Eternal, and All Pervading physical substance, which is imperceptible".[6]

Plato portrayed aether as that which God operated in the delineation of the universe.[7] In the Greek Ionian philosophy of Aristotle, aether was the "fifth element", "the quintessence", had no qualities (neither hot, cold, wet, nor dry), was incapable of transforming (except change of place).[8]

According to medieval science as Alchemy and Natural philosophy, aether, also spelled æther or Ether, is the substance that pervades the region of the Universe above the terrestrial sphere. In 19th century, ether or luminiferous aether, meaning "light bearing aether", was the term used to describe a medium for the propagation of light.[9]

At the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century several occultists started to renew the term "etheric" for sponsoring the cosmologic principles of mysterious energies and planes of existence before at that time mostly represented by term "astral". One of the earliest eminent figures was C. W. Leadbeater who practically recaptured the concept of an etheric plane.[10][11]

Nyx primordial goddess of the night, mother of Aether which personifies pure upper air that the gods breathe, hovers above Charon with her son Morpheus, leader of the Oneiroi, the spirits (winged daimones) of dreams.[12] Painting by Luca Giordano, 1684-1686.

In English literature ethereal naturalizes affiliative definitions in quotations such as,[4][13]

1667: Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger —English poet Milton in Paradise Lost (book VII).

1862: I trust that we shall be more imaginative, that our thoughts will be clearer, fresher, and more ethereal, as our sky —American philosopher Thoreau in Walking.

Associated with the "quality of beings; consisting of ether, hence, exceedingly light or airy; tenuous; spirit-like; characterized by extreme delicacy, as form, manner, thought":

1733: Vast chain of being, which from God began, Natures ethereal, human, angel, man —English poet Alexander Pope.[14]

Meaning "spirit-like, impalpable; of unearthly delicacy and refinement of substance, character, or appearance":

1722: The soul may be also perceptive of finer impressions and ethereal contacts —English philosopher William Wollaston.[15]

1810: Only Kehama's powerful eye beheld the thin ethereal spirit —English poet Robert Southey in Curse of Kehama, an epic poem.

1847: Her ethereal nature seemed to shrink from coarse reality —British Benjamin Disraeli in the novel Tancred.[16]

1870: As men, we only know of embodied spirits, however ethereal their bodies may be conceived to be —German orientalist Max Müller.[17]

1879: A faith which is so wholly ethereal as to be independent of facts —British W. J. Loftie.[18]

General view

Incubo leaving two women by Füssli, 1793.

In current time, especially in the United States, there are several organizations named as paranormal researchers or ghost hunters which consider some particular characteristics to ethereal beings.[19]

Focused on investigations of haunted sights, the alleged conclusion is that some spectral beings seem to be nourished by energy provided from electronics devices, natural sources, and also from living organisms such as a human or an animal. Emotional energy, fear, and common negative feelings appear to be preferential sustenance of ethereal beings, namely those known as poltergeists.[19][20] Temperature measurements taken from haunted places reveal abrupt and inexplicable drops. According to some proposed explanations, the ethereal being absorbs environment's energy to self-manifest in a perceptive way to humans. That is to say ethereal beings usually have so little energy that humans cannot perceive them, although pets seem able of doing it.[21]

Residual ghosts evoked by bells at cathedral in Edinburgh”. Saint Giles, his bells by C. A. Doyle, 19th century.

The “ethereal being phenomenon” is basically classified on two branches by ghost hunting: "residual energy" and "interactive energy".[20] In other words when the ghost “answers” requests from ghost hunter, he would be an intelligent ethereal being, while if not, a "residual ethereal" or "site memory" (not really alive in that last case).[22][23]

A regular procedure for ghost hunting is, through gadgets, the tape of “electronic voice phenomena” (EVP) which essentially are sounds recorded from “unperceptive source”. However, as claimed by some paranormal investigators, the perception of ethereal beings through electronic apparatus constitutes an established field of communication between people and them.[24]

Denominated as "instrumentally assisted trans-communication” (ITC) occurrence, it consists in receiving voices, text and images from supposed friendly ethereal entities, which purportedly originate from diverse immaterial planes by way of computers, radios, televisions, telephones and other devices.[25][24] According to parapsychologist Swiss Theo Locher, the contacts with such ethereal entities and results of these transmissions rely on common qualities, beliefs, thoughts and good intentions of experimenters and not only on instruments.[26]

As stated by these interchanges of information, as for their time of life ethereals live hundreds of thousands of years. They, as “higher beings”, can incarnate like humans to demonstrate spiritual ways and not necessarily as a conspicuous person. They have no human emotions but can learn about them. The ethereal entities possess abilities regularly above normal humans as to foresee the future, although they are not supreme beings who could not fully avert disasters. They would not be flawless; they would be evolving over time like the human being.[26][27]

On the other hand, ITC allows too the manifestation of “dark spirits” which oppose the “high ethereals” who assist the humanity.[26] Under ITC messages some ethereals alert that merely opening the door to the spiritual worlds may be dangerous.[26][28]

In the nineteenth century the French occultist Eliphas Levi defended the idea that temperature drops, chill, noises and shots heard in haunting places are promoted by creatures denominated elementals or fluid maggots (lately known as thoughtforms). He declares these astral entities as begotten from humans by mean of intense disoriented imagination and nightmares with sexual context. Like parasites these ghosts drain vital heat from people, debilitate individuals with fragile health and imitate like shadows theirs human creators. Besides they act as astral vampires consuming the astral steam provided in blood shed from accidents, deaths and sacrifices.[29]

Levi and likewise after the English C. W. Leadbeater sustain that every person has an astral body and in death, the soul may leave this one behind. The astral body retains the living memories and personality, still seeks its passions, wants return to life, feeds on energy of spilt blood and floats about the places where its life elapsed. But over time the cosmos absorbs it; its intelligence fades away; its memory gradually vanishes and all its spectral being dissipates. So, while available, it is this astral entity that is driven by Necromancy, the art of evoking the dead.[10][30]

Inward this prospect, Leadbeater sees a miscellany of cases ranking them, for citing some pertinent ones, as shades, etheric doubles, thoughtforms, degenerated souls and so on. All them may be deemed astral parasites because whenever they have the opportunity they prolong their existence by draining away the vitality from humans whom they find themselves able to influence.

A "shade" is a residual astral not conscious of any act of impression, a soulless bundle of all lowest qualities, which bears personal appearance, possesses memory and all idiosyncrasies of a dead person. It is still able to communicate by borrowing temporary intelligence from the medium.

The stuff that dreams are made of by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858.

An etheric double is the shell, the etheric mold, one of subtle bodies which constitute living beings. The etheric shell is devoid of consciousness and intelligence; has a bluish-white misty form remaining near the decaying physical body.

A Thoughtform is a vitalized etheric shell, an artificial elemental animated by life, intelligence, desire, and will from a creation of man's evil thought. It is a malevolent being, a tempting demon.

Degenerated souls comprise men whose earth-lives have been extremely low or brutal then they are liable to recoil into evil ghostlike entities. As well black sorcerers, in an attempt of stretching out their lives, transform themselves in ghostly bizarre beings. Pisachas, incubus, succubus, and the demons of gluttony, lust, avarice and wickedness drawn by tempting devils of ecclesiastical literature, represent this class of creatures.[10]

Thereof, as a matter of fact, retrogressing to 16th century the physician and occultist Paracelsus already appreciated those phenomena. In his alike words a man after death leaves a sidereal or astral body having no soul upon Earth. This sidereal body brings his thoughts and the heart’s desires of the dead man; it keeps itself in the neighborhood of that place where his cravings has been stayed. In all these things the soulless being performs for the desires of that heart, and it does the same thing in a shadowy manner after death, until, as the physical body is consumed, the sky devours that ghost. Partaker of that it is the necromancy, which grounds around the philosophy of sidereal beings, states the occultist.[31]

Regarding the concept of shade of the departed, this also was the term used in Roman mythology for a class of beings of the underworld. Shades, in turn, split between the harmful lemures or larvae, which haunted the former home, and the beneficent lares, which protected the house. In more recent esoteric interpretation, a shade belongs to the astral body. It gathers the "kama treat", which it is connected with desire principle, the propelling vital force, and the higher parts of the human constitution, which have separated from the shells. In depth, Kama in Hinduism personifies the god of love, he is similar to the Greek Eros, both source of motivation and desire of life.[32][33]

Dreamcatcher for keeping away bad dreams.

According to Native Americans and other shamanic traditions, an ethereal being could be an ancestor spirit from a former living human or animal, or else just an entity with the human look or not.[34][35] Within that first outlook, the western modern view, based on some religious beliefs, puts ghosts as human spirits waiting the moment to be freed and leave definitely the Earth.[36]

On the second possibility alluded by natives, the Christian religion defines that type as demon[37] regardless of the entity may be helpful. But Native Americans deem these sorts of ethereal beings, with human aspect or not, simply as spirits where they can be good such as the protector manitou or evil like the predator wendigo from Ojibwa and Cree mythology.[38][39] Among the peoples Coast Salish and Okanagon from Washington some of those spirits act as guardians chiefly protecting the children and shamans. According to these peoples such ethereal entity is called "power animal" or "animal totem", though sometimes it can have human form. In point of fact this guardian spirit, which is called arutam wakanl by Jivaros, uses to appear as human in dreams, while under shamanic vision has an animal shape.[40] The shamanic tradition regards spirits as something indispensable for everyday life of man, when it is absent then must be rescued by a shaman through his magic arts, like in this Siberian chant translated in 1894:[41]

Come, oh come spirit and ally. If you do not come, I will go to you.
Awake, oh, awake spirit and ally. Now I came to you, and I wake up you from your dreams.

The importance of such spirits also can be seen in some American tribes, which believe if a newborn does not find a "power animal" until six days after the birthday, the child will die right away, and hereof an adult can routinely fall sick when he is deprived of his guardian spirit. Whereby certain line of thought claims that the western belief in angels it is derived from archaic shamanic traditions.[41] But not solely protection, likewise powers exclusively accessible through those spirits are delivered. In this same category, argue some scholars, are the familiar spirits in Europe, which are reasoned as an inheritance from those shamanic traditions.[42][43]

And like in any animismic tradition there are different characters of them. For instance among the Lakotas the benevolent power animal can friendly speak, while other kind can be a maleficent being which may cause illness, and yet other variety harasses the person during the sleep provoking bad dreams.[44] Hence, originated in the Ojibwa Nation, to protect the sleeping person there is the indigenous and magic artifact called dreamcatcher, which according to the legends was given in dreams by Gitchi Manitou, the Great Spirit.[35][45][46] These nightmarish spirits find some similarity at western culture with the wicked beings called incubus, but otherwise the latter entities could make the individual become ill or die.[47]

Japanese scroll which describes the realm of the hungry ghosts and how to placate them. Picture from 12th century at the Kyoto National Museum.

Regarding the energy subject where it is absorbed by ethereal beings, the occasional interaction of ethereal beings when a person or animal dies, performs an especial case.[48] From that situation may emerge an anchimayen crafted by the entity, while in Chinese tradition would be a particular case of an hungry ghost, in Tibetan tradition a tulpa and in Western Tradition, a thoughtform or a kind of familiar.[49][50] These anchimayen ethereals suck in the whole psychic, mental and bodily energy released during the process of death.[51][52] Masked by the taken energy, the ethereal being frames the visual form, behavior and many times even the personality of the dead person, or animal once in a while.[53] Similarly as thoughtforms, the ethereal creature would remain in this human or animal form and slowly would weaken until the absorbed energy was all spent meanwhile producing the reported haunted places for centuries.[29][30][54]

Bagua, Tibetan symbol for protection and use with Feng shui.

It is relevant point out that the Chinese feng shui philosophy embraces the idea that the arrangement and shape of landscapes, buildings, rooms and furniture can bring good or bad energies (Ch'i energy) to the environment. In fact, on eastern, particularly in China the matter is very serious for builders, to the point that ignoring it may cause consequences such as a haunted house.[55][56] On western perspective, the base of that knowledge dwells on esoteric idea of radiation of form waves, which also makes strong grounding in Radiesthesia, sigils, amulets, and also as source of power of the Runic letters, for example. The French author Roger de Lafforest widely explained this concept[57] claiming the shape of buildings and objects as capable of making people ill, to protect or kill them through the emission of "form waves". Lafforest affirms that ancient Egyptian priests protect pharaoh's tombs creating their own ethereal beings as product of magic. These ethereal beings were thoughtforms and the magicians to protect themselves from these ghosts, used sigils, which on the other hand may be used for the creation of thoughtforms as well.[57][58]

In addition the French Jean Gaston Bardet[59] and Jean de La Fye developed a system consisted of Hebraic letters as source of "form waves" radiation. This system lately was improved with contributions added from 777, work by Aleister Crowley.

Thereby according to that knowledge, once the environment’s structure is stocked of residual energy, or has the favorable shape (for generating energy), the ethereal being haunts the place for long periods. Thus when an area resident makes a reform or restoration (in a supposed haunting place) altering the shape of the rooms and furniture, he is changing the Ch'i energy flow.[56] Consequently ghost manifestations, would be more likely in this altered conditions.


Vodyanoy a water sprite in Slavic mythology, also called "water man" in the folklore of Germany.[60] Illustration by Ivan Bilibin, 1934.
Nixes as Wagner's Rhinemaidens, a folkloric representation by Arthur Rackham, 1910.

Under the interpretation made by writer Castaneda, even living in another dimension[61] of perception, ethereal beings are some sort of intelligent alien beings or energy beings, and so terraqueous as men are.[62][63][64]

Practically inside of an animismic perspective,[65] he closely approaches these entities of the sprites and metaphorically designates them as "inorganic beings" on an allusion they are not made of flesh and bones. Therefore as expected, in scientific terms these alien ghosts would have neither inorganic nor organic structure.[66][67]

Only the powerful sorcerers, the seers, this means to him, with great amount of energy (above the ordinary human), can perceive these ethereal beings. As a result usually they are out of the common perception of a regular person.

Along his books, at this shamanic world’s scenery,[65][68] like exists many species of animals, there are umpteen kinds of ethereal inhuman beings. Similar to human organic realm, there are the harmless, little dangerous and the very dangerous entities. Or drawing a parallel there are irrational, intermediary and intelligent ethereal creatures. Comparatively on the same sense, other mystic literatures speaking of these ethereal creatures would recognize them as: elementals, fairies, ghosts and demons on identical sequence.[69][70][71]

These entities have only self-interests while others can help the sorcerer to gain power. He calls these last ones as "Allies".[72] The outward appearance of them may be any thing: a person, an animal or still a geometric form.[61][63] Even the death would be personified as a fierce ally[73] who should be called for fulfilling the apotheosis of a sorcerer, his enlightenment.[74][75]

Nevertheless, such assertions have ancient paradigms in places like the Mediaeval Europe where these ethereal beings could be rendered respectively as Succubus that could too have animal forms[76] or familiar spirits, where believed to assist witches in their practice of magic.[77] In the beginning of the 20th century, familiars were identified as "niggets", which were crawly things that witches kept over them.[78]

With respect to the forms of these creatures, also in Asian folklore, the Japanese yōkai (妖怪?) represents a class of beings that may have the shape of animals, people, objects, or metamorphic characteristics,[48] as well as the Korean ghost Dokkaebi, which can transform itself in a stick or a club.[79] Moreover, according to Japanese tradition, particularly from the Kamakura period onward, when a household item reaches in years the age of hyaku, virtually the number one hundred, which overflows the sheer numbers of the everyday world in Japanese culture, such object acquires a spirit and turns into a yōkai called tsukumogami.[48] Tsukumogamis could come from any objects such as knives, paper lanterns, or if a umbrella the spirit would become a karakasa,[80] as comically pictured in the famous scroll Hyakkiyagyō emaki (百鬼夜行絵巻), which literally means "night procession of one hundred demons".[48]

The spectral yōkai Yuki Onna in Japanese folklore.

Alike creature to the yōkai, the Chinese yaoguai can change its shape as well and appear in the form of an animal.[81] The Japanese foxlike spirit kitsune, also assumes human forms. The term kitsunetsuki refers to the state of being dominated by this spirit.[82]Comparable with the incubus, the yoguai hulijing (狐狸精),[83] a ghostly fox, disguised as a woman could bring death to a man while it drew his vital essence during the sexual intercourse.[84] However the yoguai sometimes can be also a good ally devoted to its beloved man,[85] as well as in some myths it can have a godlike nature[86] and still assume a subservient role. For example in a Jiayi myth, yaoguais were assistants of Guanyin, who was a bodhisattva, an enlightenment-being in Buddhism.[87]

Similarly on Greek mythology and other mythologies and religions (such as the Animism of Japanese Shintoism and Balinese mythology), there are mountain's spirits, river’s gods, forest’s gods, nymphs, mermaids, that harm or help people (including mundane people, besides priests and shamans) on situations, problems or just granting supernatural powers to humans that request them. For instance, the priestess of the Delphic oracle made her prophecies possessed by power of Apollo, sun’s god.

As laid down by Castaneda, though living much longer, somewhere around thousands of years, these ethereal beings are mortal; they eventually die as well any living being. Feature that shared with the hungry ghosts in Chinese tradition and the Germanic nixes.[88]

As animals eat food for surviving, as conveyed by writer, those ethereal entities would feed themselves on pure energy from other intelligent life forms. In fact humans would be easy prey.[71][89] Also they compete surrounded by distinct brands of them, meaning that they can prey each other on their hunting for energy.[63] On the other hand, an ethereal being would have regularly much less energy than humans. Comparatively could say that it is like a single candlelight while a person is like a strong electrical lamplight.[61][62]

As a common motif, the presence of fairy predators of humans, is seen in several mythologies. Among the Celts, an abundant theme was the horse-like entities such as the Kelpie often appearing too as a blue man or a beautiful woman; the Caoranach, a female being that sucked men and cattle; the Nygel of Shetland and its variants like the fatal specter Water horse and the Scottish Nuckelavee, this last a kind of centaur, all of which usually allured their victims to ride on them only to drag these persons to deep waters and devour them.[90] In Japanese folklore the intelligent and amphibious kappa (河童) came out from waters for sucking the blood of people or animals, and in some variations it also raped women and ate human livers.[91]

In Indian tradition, in the middle of the predators, are the ghostly rakshasas. Usually regarded as evil spirits or demons, they are of the ogre-vampiric type which intimidated by light always fly before the dawn. They could be hideous or very beautiful, some had parts of animals, others seemed humans, and they could change into almost any form. But some of them also were subject to benignity. In the Sanskrit text Mahabharata, Jarâ, a female rakshasa, is regarded a household deity who, in exchange by benefits of worship paid to her, granted magical gifts. Rakshasas also bestowed wealth on those whom they had approval, like Târâ Bâi in the story of Seventee Bâi.[92] As well are counted among the rakshasas, the yakshas and their female counterparts, the yakshis. The yakshis, once more as entities of dual character, in their malevolent aspect were airy geniis who seized children. But in popular traditions they, as vampires, act like spirits who seduce men at night, drain their energy, and drink their blood. In Kerala, South India, people used to plant bamboo trees in communities to drive off yakshis, which supposedly can get caught in the branchy net of bamboos at their nocturnal travels.[93]

Devic kingdom

Fairies by Francis Danby, 1840.

According to some authors, there is a huge realm of ethereal beings interlacing and creating all that exists on nature.[94][95][96] The core vision, more accentuated in lately times, is the existence of cooperative ethereal entities yearning for helping humans take care of the natural world.


Europeans in the 17th century described ethereal beings as an abridged mist with graceful fickle bodies easier to see in faint light; intelligent spirits seem to have a lost nature among demon, man and angel. Capable of vanishing or emerge with their easily moldy bodies at any moment.[97]

The Indonesian folklore sees the universe populated of visible and invisible beings. They are spirits of plants and animals becoming humans, human spirits becoming wild spirits, and demons that occupy the Seven Abysses of underworld, meanwhile nymphs and gods fill the superposed Seven Heavens. All are in communication with each other through the seven plains of the man and also merged as a moveable, polymorphic and single unit.[98]

In folklore several nature spirits and their variations epitomize ethereal beings involved with the destinies of the men.[99] An example of that is the Irish fairy called Banshee who is very similar to other mysterious characters from Celtic countries.[99] She can assume distinct forms like a bird, a woman or a ghost and travels beyond the three dimensions of space. Even druids frightened her since originally the apparition of a banshee announced a death in family.[100] Actually already in the Roman empire, these beings have a foundation over mythological beings like the Parcae. The Parcae were known in Latin as the “Tria Fata” that means in English the “Three Fairies”.[99]

The Three Fates, by Sodoma, 1525.

The Parcae represented personifications of destiny, in many cases called “The Fates”. Previous to the Roman period, and analogous to them, are in Greek mythology the Moirae, whose mother is the Night goddess Nyx. The Moirae managed the thread of life of mortals and immortals from birth to death. Resemblances are found in the Keres who in the Greek mythology also were hellish daughters of Nyx as yet capable of determining good or bad fate for men although definitively as dark spirits feeding on vital essence, like the blood shed, of wounded men.[99]

The Celtic druids feared banshees as long as the same happened to Zeus, the lord of Greek gods, who was afraid of the Moirae.[101] However the Moirae also received veneration at the moment that such entities were associated with the birth of children, as well as their equivalent fairies of the British tradition, which were responsible for conducting the souls of stillborn children and fight against the evil.[99]

Thereupon the ancestral relation of fairies expresses a deep connection with the Earth mother.[99] As a matter of fact this already was made explicit by Greek philosophers Zeno of Citium (3rd century BC), Posidonius (1st century BC), Plutarchos (1st century) and the Roman philosopher Cicero (1st century BC). According to them the Moirae were identified with the divine, the destiny and the nature. Concerning Cicero all happenings have causes determined in the nature. Regarding Plutarchos the Moirae depict the soul of world divided in three planes: high (Clotho), middle (Atropos) and low (Lachesis) where the works made in high and middle worlds are transmitted by Lachesis for the earthly substances.[102]

According to some authors like the French Jean Chevalier, in the tales, while living among people, the materialized ethereal being at some point have a disruption with that anthropomorphic life by reason of your permanent and natural connection with the infinite. This is seen, for instance, in the legend of the being Melusine who once by week had to leave her husband and hidden transmuted herself in half serpent, half woman. This sighting of the mystery at odds with the usual and limited integration with the universe in what the human psyche has consciousness. Thus a man beholding this dark side is directly subject to the psychic death of worldly life, ends up adrift leaving his human side.[99][103]

The knight and the mermaid, by Isobel Lilian Gloag, circa 1890.

Such aspects can be found in the Nordic myths where many times ethereal beings are showed as elves, which in turn are portrayed as little flying beings emerged from water or earth and more visible in the brume. As delineated by those legends they are charming creatures but their fascination can entice people to enter in their dancing circles which are portals to spiritual worlds. Once inside, the person face the infinite what customarily is too much to human mind and in the narratives ends leading a man to insanity, disappear or die even when rescued.[104][105]

Facing the mystery also was a dangerous deed in the Celtic version of the myth Wild Hunt. According to the legend, fairies customarily go out of their other-worldly dwellings and ride wildly around the mundane world casting charms over people and taking them from their homes. Gwynn ap Nudd, king of Annwn, the Welsh otherworld, was the leader of the Wild Hunt, who rode on stormy clouds with his red-eared hounds called Cŵn Annwn. From time to time, only the howling dogs raided across the sky. Staring the riders was treacherous, but a twig of rowan on their doors could make safe to watch the procession.[90] And likewise in a Japanese myth of the Heian period, the Hyakkiyagyō (百鬼夜行) was the "Parade of one hundred demons", a unpredictable and temporary procession of tsukumogamis passing through the city at night that also should not be seen or else could cause one's death.[48]

Alike content is expressed in the Greek myth of the mortal Psyche and Eros god of love and in several fairy tale variants like Apuleius's The Golden Ass.[105][106] Psyche, tells the myth, a beautiful mortal, falls in deep love and marries Eros without knowing he was a celestial creature. Like in the story of Melusine, Psyche ends up doing the forbidden and spies on her partner beholding the unfathomable mystery and this goes away.

In spite of that, Psyche like the hero Heracles who carried out his twelve labours, engages to fulfill a series of mortal tasks. In the course, Psyche starts slowly stepping in the dark world of Eros but ultimately she has to abandon the men’s world descending until the Underworld, then after all, like a caterpillar developing in a butterfly and like Heracles who becomes an immortal, successful her also is transformed in a winged goddess.[107] Therefore only overcoming her human condition Psyche (which in Greek also indicates “butterfly” and literally means “spirit”) could handle the ethereal world.[102][108][109]

Another aspect emphasized by Chevalier it is the symbolism associated with a common shape embodied in ethereal entities, the serpent.[99] In fact, Psyche suspects Eros be a monster, namely a snake in some versions. This association with the serpent propagates in several European tales, likewise with the number three (as in the Three fates; in the golden bough tale of Aeneas in Aeneid,[110] which is said to have three branches; and the Hermes’s rod called leaved three in the Homeric hymn to Hermes), which also point out the manifestation of the sacred natural (but still material, not spiritual).[111][112] Also in Tantra philosophy the snake is associated with the Kundalini, a center of esoteric energy of the human body that releases the “rebirth” of the being when activated.

A Phoenix standing on a Chinese Parasol tree, by Cixi, 1890.

Similarly, in a folkloric version, the Chinese legend White Lady (Bai niangzi yong zhen Leifengta) narrates how a monk dealt with the Mrs. Bai, who was harmless and devoted to the hero Xu. In certain moment the monastic man discovers that she was a baishe (白蛇), the spirit of a white snake, that is to say a yaoguai. Then he kills Bai due to the fact that he takes her into account as an evil entity in the shape of a graceful woman.[85]

According to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, a numinous creature like the mythical Pegasus "is the inspiration, the poet's winged libido, the power that carries above the stars". "Pegasus comes with golden wings" and takes the human being "up to region of inspired speech; inspiration is air, breathing, this is the ethereal region."[113] However, states Jung, an animal in general stands for that which is non-human, the unconscious parts of the psyche such as the anima, and the "shadow archetypes".[114] Specifically the mythical image of serpent incarnates the dark self, the incomprehensible, the mystery.[115][116]

In ancient China, during the Han period, the chi-lin, once in a while translated as unicorn, or the phoenix, belonged to a class of holy spirits conceived in animal form, or as hybrids. Their rare appearances represented that the man was in harmony with the order of universe.[117] In alchemy some of these oneiric creatures symbolize the phases of the transmutational process. The phoenix, the completion; the unicorn, the required qualities to perform the act; and the dragon, the ingredient elements, the prime matter.[114] It was said by Roman poets Lactantius and Claudian that a flock of birds rises from the earth and assembles for following the reborn phoenix, which in turn appear in unison with the sun. Renewed, the phoenix flies high in the air and when it has arrived at the area of pure ether, the birds turn back and the phoenix withdraws to its abode, the Isles of the Blessed. Such image ascribes to the Greek Stoic philosophy, which, according to it, the souls lifting from the earth or descending from the sun are detained when they reach the realm of the moon because the lightness of its ether matches utterly with their own weight. At that place, according to Cicero, they are fed with the same nourishment that the stars are sustained and have everything one needs. According to Plutarchos this is the vapor from the air and the flame of the sun, which is purer than in our world.[118]

Mythic serpents for Chevalier, or winged serpents like the dragon, translate the allowed materialization of the mystery to the conscious mind. It is, in macrocosmic grade, represented as Ananta from Hinduism who defies and at the same time conserves the stability of the human world surrounded by the occult forces of the universe. The same happens with the Hebraic Leviathan, the Nordic Midgard serpent (Old Norse: Midgarðsormr), and the serpent river Styx that bears the created world second the Theogony by Hesiod. Hells, primordial oceans, and deep earth gathered form the “prima materia”, which is the primordial substance, the serpent itself.[119]

New Age

Fairies on the Seashore, painting by Francis Danby and engraving by William Miller, 1833.

A famous example[120] of a supposedly collaboration between humans and ethereal beings was alleged to have occurred in Findhorn community in Scotland. The New Agey commune formed in 1962 at village of Findhorn, is said to have received the help of nature spirits strongly connected with the flora, for preparing the soil, to sow and make grow the plants. Contradicting the odds, the commune had great success making happen what was considerable very difficult or unfeasible because the chosen land was sandy and windy,[121] although locals from outside the community, had attributed this success by unique microclimate of the region.[122]

The co-founder of Findhorn, the Canadian Dorothy Maclean, and other members of the group stated to be able to see the ethereal beings and communicate with them. The community discerned a hierarchic realm, regularly regarding them as angels of nature, and in some cases Maclean contacted the group soul, a type of archetypal intelligence responsible by a vegetable or animal species. Among those described entities, a peculiar creature was the powerful being called Pan in charge of many other nature spirits.[94][123][24]

Also the Dutch writer Mellie Uyldert, self-proclaimed clairvoyant, characterized the semblance and behavior of ethereal entities, which, she said, hover above plants and transfer energy for vitalizing the plant, then nourishing themselves on rays of sunlight. They fly three meters over the ground, some have wings like butterflies while others only have a small face and an aura waving graciously. Some are huge while others may have the size of one inch.[95]

She depicted them as perishable beings, asexual gender, and composed of etheric matter. They born from solar rays, mature in the atmosphere, and later go down to the land like drops of water or snow. In the ground they associate with a plant becoming a hamadryad, an ethereal guardian of vegetal, also inhabiting under the soil or tree’s holes. The best manner of seeing them would be through a mist, which would be favorable to human eyes. The legendary “ball of elves” would be a magic movement for transmitting prana, the vital life to the plants. These beings would be able to associate with humans amicably (assisting cultivation, gardens, curing illness and in other ways) most of time but also could prey them like succubus.[95]

These beings have a social hierarchy, claims Uyldert. A tree has a skilled nature spirit for it, which is a nymph or faun and this kind of entity is fond of humans, it desires to create a bond. Several supernatural personages are associated with trees. For instance the Greek Zeus and the Nordic Thor are linked with the Oak, Hecate with the Cypress and Yew, the Buddha Siddharta Gautama with the sacred Fig. As said by Uyldert, behind that connection lies the ethereal tree's dryad assisting the person for communicating with gods and achieving powers or enlightenment.[95]


In Buddhism there is a class of non-human beings denominated Devas. They are mighty beings, openly inhabit the recesses of the Earth and other worlds but are visible only for people with extrasensory sense. They are mortals but live for periods of time, extending from thousands to billions of years. According to monk Vasubandhu, devas are born in the Cāturmahārājika heaven are about 750 feet tall and have a lifetime about nine million years.

Inferior to an enlightened Buddha, they have individuality; sometimes they may be jealous, ignorant, angry, arrogant and proud. Nevertheless some individuals among devas may have great moral deserving a high degree of respect though devas can not lead humans to enlightenment.[124][125][126]

Sculpture of Deva Surya, solar deity in Hinduism. Theosophists believe in millions of devas called solar angels living inside of the Sun and occasionally visiting the Earth.

The devas titled as the Four Heavenly Kings are four guardian entities commanding each cardinal direction. They are the defenders of the world against evil, each one leads a host of mystic creatures to guard the Dharma. They are the devas Vaiśravaṇa who embodies the north, Virūḍhaka watches over south, Dhṛtarāṣṭra acts for East and Virūpākṣa represents west. Respectively they epitomize the colors yellow, red, green and white.[127]

In the view of Hinduism, Deva (देव) is the Sanskrit word for god or deity. Usually they are interpreted as benevolent supernatural beings. Devas are the maintainers of the realms as designed by Trimurti, which represents the creation, maintenance and destruction of Universe respectively personified by Brahmā, Vishnu and Śhiva. They are in opposition to their counterparts, the Asuras, deities sometimes considered materialistic and sinful, as such are regarded in Indian Buddhism the group of the Kãlakañjaka asuras.[128] Within Chinese Buddhism asuras can be separated into four categories: "animal asuras", which dwell the deepest parts of the ocean and sea vast caves; "preta asuras", which are similar to the Pretas or "hungry ghosts" however to a great extent more powerful; "Human asuras" fallen from heaven and then settled near to the moon and sun; and the "deva asuras", close to the devas although at a lower level than their nobility.[129]

The Devatas in Hindu mythology essentially are devas who bear roles on the Nature as guardian spirits or protector angels, whilst according to the religious text Puranas (पुराण) were they who conducted a war against the Daityas (दैत्य), a class of the asuras,[32] and likewise other asura clans such as the Danavas and the relative groups Paulomas, Kalakeyas, Nivãtas (निवतकवच ) and Kãlakañjakas.[130][131]

Devatas take care of a mountain, a cave, a river, a forest, a people, a family like the Kuladevatas, or a person. "Forest spirit" devatas are called Vanadevatas while the Lokapala devatas are guardians of the directions who rule specific directions. The devatas polarize on male beings and their matrikas who are the female deities. Hence the four cardinal directions have the male devatas Kubera ruling north, Yama the south, Indra commanding east and Varuṇa the west. The matrikas respectively are Kumari, Varahi, Aindri and Varuni.[132][133]


A settled relationship between natural environment, ethereal entities, and humans also it is seen in the Aztec mythology,[134] as a matter of fact some scholars argue that the root of the word Teo, "god" in Aztec language, resemblances an altered form of the Sanskrit word Deva.[135][136]

Quetzalcoatl, "the Feathered Serpent", sculpture at Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City.

The Aztec pantheon has complex hierarchies and is composed of a profusion of male and female entities. These beings could be benevolent, but also be maleficent and arbitrary in their relationship with the humanity. Usually they were represented as a mixture of human, animal, and plant traits. In spite of being powerful, considered eternal, yet they could be subject to death and rebirth in later time, had imperfections, passions, whims, restrictions, and could be injured. The Aztec deity could manifest to human beings through visions, dreams, or under the form of a magical human known as nahualli, or an animal.[134]

These divine entities assumed several functions over the nature, and could be embraced as guardians by a people, town, social category, or family. Major and lesser beings could be connected to a natural element and one or more specific places like Huchucteotl, the lord of fire; Tlaltecuhtli, the Earth Lord; Ehecatl, the god of wind; or the goddess Chalchiuhtlicue linked with the water element, and who watches the lakes, rivers, and too kin to major Tlaloc, god of the rain and lightning, which inhabits mountain caves.[134] However before this latest distribution of attributions, the Earth was ruled and successively destroyed and replaced by the four predominant elements, one at a time. First the Earth was governed by earth element, under the ruler Black Tezcatlipoca, second by air element with Quetzalcoatl, third by fire under Tlaloc, and fourth by water controlled by Chalchiuhtlicue.[137]

In their conception of the universe, the Aztecs divided the terrestrial plan into five parts, the west that stays below, south to the right, east on top, north to the left, and the axis mundi or center. Each cardinal direction is in charge of a distinct son of the primordial god Ometeotl. The god Red Tezcatlipoca controls the east "Tlpallan", which also is the home of Tonatiuh; Black Tezcatlipoca watches the north "Mictlampa", "the place of Mictlan"; Blue Tezcatlipoca guards the south "Huitztlampa" where resides Huitzilopochtli; and White Tezcatlipoca oversees the west "Cihuatlampa", where dwell earth goddesses like Cihuacoatl.[137]


The celestial spheres according to Esotericism express the Earth unfolding planes full of entities. Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1867.

The occultist New Zealander Geoffrey Hodson without doubt it was one of the most[138] who explored this theme. Very akin to Mellie Uyldert’s reports, he speaks about his extraordinary experiences and goes further. His writing classifies all kind of ethereal beings making an ample categorization ranging from elemental beings until the highest hierarchy. For him the ethereal Devas would be powerful nature-spirits responsible for taking care of vast landscaping, like a river, a lake, a mountain and other functions to help the nature. Beyond devas he observes mahadevas responsible for planets and the universe. He fuses the eastern conceit of devas and mahadevas with angels and arcangels from western tradition and makes a direct relation with kabbalistic Sephirot, the tree of life. Finally the whole path of his work is outlined by his dedication to Theosophic philosophy.[96][139]

Following the theosophic field, the Dutch-born Dora van Gelder[140][141] professes see ethereal beings since was a child and holds them as maintainers and promoters of vital energies of the world. Inside a monumental quantity of these creatures, as explained by her there is a scale of beings where those of highest power and intelligence are called devas or angels. With the hierarchy exists a functional structure guided by devas who delegate attributions to inferior beings. The lesser beings, elementals and fairies speaking generically, are natured in four basic categories: earth, fire, water and air. Gelder also alleges the existence of an enigmatic creature living in extreme elevated altitudes, never coming down, and remembering a huge Chinese dragon. Colorful, it has big eyes, scales and slowly crosses the sky like a cow grazing in a meadow.

Although the devic realm may be seen as benevolent on the other hand, according to many folk tales, an invasion of the Fairy ring is usually fatal for men.[142] Fairy Rings by Richard Doyle, 1875.

Some of those lesser entities, claims Gelder, are born through the magic intent by devas for assisting them. They are composed of heterogeneous ether, so they have different densities in their bodies. Devas have thinner consistency than fairies, thereby the difficulty is to see them larger. Also they have some basic internal organs where a master one is the heart whose purpose is pump power to the body and align with the pace of other livings creatures for energetically interacting. A fairy or deva, like humans, have emotions and their beat heart change according to them. Moreover their bodies are literally made of emotions. Usually they are happy creatures but can have negative emotions with short term.[141][143]

According to Gelder, every one of four elements performs an activity associated with that element. Thus earth beings (such as fairies and gnomes) can handle energy to vitalize plants and to all above or under the ground like rocks or minerals. Water fairies (such as ondines) suck the sunlight and spread into the water. Fire beings (salamanders) promote bonfires, feed themselves on magma energy and regulate the distribution of interior energy of planet to the surface. Air fairies (sylphs) manipulate clouds, winds and storms, which are very intelligent, look like and are the closest to angels (devas). Regarding devas, every one has a zone of influence. In the center of that region resides an energy vortex where dwells the angel’s awareness. When manifesting to humans the angel assumes a beautiful human form. Devas interact each other and despite having respect and being altruistic, may also be afraid of someone of upper rank. They plan and decide all what is going to happen in the natural world, including when lives must be taken.[141][143]

Gelder still observes that when she started to study these beings, those of earth class used to be more interested in relating to humans while water or air beings were more indifferent and fire fairies could be even hostile. Nonetheless her last observations, after several years, witnessed fear and very little interesting in humans. Also she noted much less number of entities, sometimes none could be found where before used to exist.[141][144]

Charles Webster Leadbeater fundamentally described and incorporated his comprehension of intangible beings for Theosophy. Along with him there are various elusive planes intertwined with the quotidian human world and all inhabited by multitudes of these entities. Each plane is purported as composed of discrete density of astral or ethereal matter and frequently the denizens of a plane have no discernment of other ones. In his view the terrestrial arrangements of nature have not been designed exclusively to advantage of human specie.

Virūpākṣa, deva Guardian of the West, one of the Four Guardian Kings. Picture from 13th century.

Leadbeater grasps all life as sacred, and that without universal empathy there is no true progress to mankind. Manifold evolution is a widespread feature, and comparatively small place humanity fills in the universe.[10] Good or evil elemental, it is an entity created artificially because the nature-spirits from elemental kingdoms do not admit such conceptions. There is, however, permeating their realm a tendency that operates to render them rather hostile than friendly towards man. It is a bias resulted of that only blindly receives and reflects what humanity project upon it.

The nature-spirits are classified in earth, water, air or fire types and neither have been, nor ever will be, part of humanity; their lineage of evolution is another, and their link with man is present in the transitory habitation of the same planet. These entities indeed are the elementals of a higher evolution. Under ordinary circumstances they are invisible to physical sight, but are able of making perceptible themselves when they desire to be seen. They assume any guise at will most frequently human in shape and undersized, but have definite forms of their own. They differ in intelligence and the life-periods vary to the highest degree, some being brief while others much longer than human lifetime.

Leadbeater still regards devas as one of several divisions among these beings, for him devas are the highest system of evolution connected with Earth but though associated with the Earth, devas are not restricted to it.

Four devic kings, the Devarajas, rule over the elements earth, water, air, and fire with their indwelling nature-spirits. They are the regents of the Earth, angels of the four cardinal points east, south, west and north that respectively correspond the colors white, blue, red and gold. According to Leadbeater these sovereigns correspond to the creatures assigned in the episode of the Ezekiel’s vision in the Bible and are, in a straight line, deeply involved in the destiny and paths of man.[10]

Alice Bailey

The English writer Alice Bailey, a contemporary of Leadbeater, also gave continuousness to theosophical concepts anent ethereal beings, besides, her works had great impact over New Age movement.[145][146] She puts the nature spirits and devas as ethereal beings immersed in macro divisions of an interwoven threefold universe, usually they belong to the etheric, astral or mental planes. The ethereal entities of the four kingdoms, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, are forces of nature.

The Flame by Odilon Redon, 1896.

Thus lower-ranking nature spirits, the elementals, ascend hierarchically to devas also called “angels”. Human and devic realms would be the two great evolutions upon Earth but devas have their own development, it is parallel to the human. In spite of that, some devas would have passed by human stage long time ago and still a possible evolutionary path for a human or deva is the merger of the two evolutions.[147]

The thoughtforms created by human mind are a kind of fire elementals, claims Bailey. Fire elementals, obscure entities and fire devas increase their activities in the course of summer months when there is more solar light.[148] Hosts of fire elementals inhabit since the inner, surface and high pranic atmosphere of the Earth until the corporeal heat of humans.[149] Devas from mental plane are fire devas. Fiery nature spirits are the most potent and the most dangerous elementals. They overcome in large numbers all the other elementals, being succeeded by air nature spirits and then in small amount by watery or earth elementals which are settled only in few planets from solar system.[150]

Devas and elementals, says Bailey, labor in harmony with superior entities dedicating their endeavor to develop form aspect and consciousnesses. Intrinsically, when living at Earth, they vitally stimulate the planet's evolution acting unconsciously or consciously according to their evolutional grade. Several devas have intimate relations with mankind and specific attributions. For instance there are devas helping on distribution of the destiny or karma to persons and peoples; etheric devas healing diseases; devas substantiating artistic, psychic qualities; others nurturing the relations between spirit and matter, as well as exist devas from a mental plane working with aspects of intelligence.[147]

Salamander engraved on a medallion. Gallery Francis I.

Agni the sovereign deva of salamanders and fire devas, also is the king of the mental plane.[149] Agni is the prime solar deity of life and energy, he rules the cosmic fire which directly affects the human psychological processes and therefore the human evolution.[148]

Certain devas communicate with humans by means of birds, which are closed allied to them. The water devas commanding the water elementals are focused in their task of nourishing all the vegetable and animal life upon the Earth. However are fire devas and their salamander assistants who take care of the evaporation of waters and minister the transmutation of matter, a lore exploited by ancient Atlanteans, declares Bailey. The salamanders, which can be seen by psychics springing into flames, are realized in red, orange, yellow, and violet colors, where the violet kind is evolutionally very near to devas.[149] Also devas irradiate colors according to their respective ascensional level, some pivotal ones start by violet, next come green, orange, interspersed by yellow, rose, blue, red, and higher, last of all, the white deva. Rose and blue devas protect the sanctuaries and temples, they act in the astral plane whose king it is the deva Varuna.[151] White devas preside the air and water, some of them become guardians of humans. Green devas manage Earth’s magnetic spots and the vegetable life.

Deva at Table Mountain described by Geoffrey Hodson in his work Kingdom of the Gods. Artwork from illustration by Ethelwynne M. Quail, 1937.[152]

According to the writer devas evolve by way of sensation or emotion and not through the ability of aware thought like humans do. They reincarnate not as individuals but in groups.[149] The devic realm is deeply affected by sounds; particularly words stir and make tiny beings take diverse colorful forms.

Although at time of Atlantis civilization, man and ethereal beings had a closed relationship, presently deal with devas it is not safe for uninitiated students. However it is necessary to seek, study and have some kind of control over elementals and devas. For attracting elementals or devas, rituals and mantras are satisfactory methods but devas cannot be summoned, they freely select attend or not. Bailey prints generic dispositions for devas, she claims devas as celestial beings that may be good, bad or indifferent. In fact elementals and lower devas may be inconsequent and seriously harm a person as well several kinds of malevolent entities.[147][153]

Devas can be denominated as “builders” in view of aspect they are involved in every procedure for materialization of the life.[149] In a distinct scale would stay the “etheric builders”, meaning those who operate the etheric body such as fairies, elves and etheric devas.[154] However the mysterious length of life cycles are also related to devas inasmuch their role it is to control the process. Indeed the angel of death it is not a metaphoric figure, tells Bailey, whereas is a authoritative deva.[155]

Some beings, humans or not, choose follow the left hand trail, a deadend path ruled by individualism and conception of a predatory universe, states Bailey. They powerfully can dominate some elementals such as gnomes, brownies, and the brown, gray and dark fairies, and also can be assisted by watery elementals. In other level, elementals who then walk on the downward arc may take this same digression. Nevertheless high devas, sylphs, sprites, and blue, green, yellow and few of the red fairies are out of involutional influence exerted by those tracking on left side.[156]

Western tradition

In ceremonial magic tradition the English Murry Hope, a New Agey priestess, addresses elves as elemental beings from the four elemental dominions fire, air, water and earth. They are helpers of the natural world and can assist the development of the human psyche through rituals of magic mysteries. Among the Celts, she recounts, Vivien was an ethereal being which instructed witchcraft to Breton and Scotch sorcerers.[157]

Spirit of the Night by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1879.

Nevertheless, consistent with Hope, ethereal beings tend not to trust in humans, and an incursion in their world may be a really dangerous act. It is not something for fools or curious, the deed demands knowledge, respect and specific rules must be obeyed because there is a cosmic orderliness. Usually this is achieved through rituals bringing mutual benefits to humans and entities. Break the norms means punishment, following them helps the magician to develop psychic abilities and qualities. Rarely, in a balanced mode, a person joins up the four elements in his psyche, body and way of life. In this fashion all beings of the four elements can show the way or cure bad health and stabilize the physical equilibrium of a person. For instance salamanders (fire) fuel stamina and creativity; sylphs (air) stir the intellectuality, the communication; ondines (water) work the emotions, the sympathy; fairies (earth) can encourage physical well being showing curatives herbs while gnomes teach accumulation and prosperity.

She distinguishes elementar, seen as a very unfinished being on the evolutionary ladder, from elemental spirits, which following their ascensional line develop into angels. Thoughtforms would be elementares, entities with barely consciousness, and made of a bag of energy, which is, intentionally or not, created by emotional discharges or magic arts. Distinct from humans, but in spite of this, elementals can experiment the human lineage as well as can choose to protect people as guardians for some period. Accordingly, says Hope, there are many stories in folklore and mythologies telling how the mother or father of a character is not a human being but a creature like an elf, nymph, god, or other mystical entity. Hope avers have performed a past life regression in a person whose history revealed that the individual did not belong to Homo sapiens basis but to the intermediate realm. The origin of that person was a fire salamander.[58][157] Indeed Hope testifies to be herself from devic origin, she would have had various non-human lives.[158]

A prime reference to early occultists since 19th century, the French Eliphas Levi understood the devic realm[159] as composed of four elementar forms that render the astral light completely filled with souls having no free will.

Celtic pixie, illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1910.

Elementary spirits, declares Levi, figure a great invisible chain and as such can motivate or determine impressive commotions in Nature. They show themselves under partial and fugitive forms. They are like kids, good and evil are the same; have no responsibility. They are not in mortal sin, simply are inquisitive and inoffensive. Frequently set up distressing or fabulous dreams; can bother unless one has control of them; can produce the movements and the knocks on walls and furniture. But they do not exhibit any other thoughts than those emanated from humans; they talk to people with all the incoherence of dreams.

Conjurers can employ or exploit them like unarmed. For that reason the magus who occupies their help burdens a terrible responsibility, for he will have to expiate all the evil, which he makes them do. Then only flawless persons in the air, fire, water and earth qualities should try impose upon the elements the verb of their will, by respective special consecrations of sylphs, salamanders, undines, and gnomes.

The kingdom of gnomes is at the north, that of salamanders at the south, that of sylphs at the east, and that of undines at the west. Their sovereigns are Gob of the gnomes, Djin of the salamanders, Paralda of the sylphs, and Nicksa of the undines. Levi still lays strong emphasis in the Ezekiel’s creatures and depicts hieroglyphic signs as the "Bull" to the gnomes controlled with the "Sword"; the "Lion" to the salamanders commanded with the "Bifurcated Rod or Magic Trident"; the "Eagle" to the sylphs dominated by the "Holy Pentacles"; and the "Water-Carrier (Aquarius)" to the undines ruled by the "Cup of Libations".

Succeeding Levi, the French occultist Gerard Encausse whose pseudonym was Papus endorsed the Levi’s teachings in his own works but he articulated the symbolic relations of nature-spirits discoursed by Levi as founded in writings by magician Cornelius Agrippa who was born centuries before.[160]


Nonetheless many of these concepts also have resemblance with proclamations of Paracelsus, a Swiss alchemist born at end of 15th century. In his view, the world is a living whole, which, like man, the microcosm, in whom the whole content of the macrocosm is concentrated. The later Victorian concept of ether is outlined in his words as "prima materia" which is the unified stuff from which matter is created and underlies all substances. Prima materia is not matter, but rather a potentiality. The four primary elements “earth, water, air and fire” manifest the concrete prima materia.[161][162]

Disease is a checking of those four vital principles by contrary powers, which are of a terrestrial and of a sidereal nature. Three worlds are distinguished for Paracelsus: the elemental or terrestrial, the astral or celestial, and the spiritual or divine; all building the human constitution. The matter is built by means of air plus the three fundamental essences quicksilver, sulfur, and salt, by which in Latin, Paracelsus relates as: mercurius, that which makes bodies liquid (water); sulphur, that which makes them combustible (fire); sal, that which makes them solid (earth).

Fairies looking through a passage, by John Anster Fitzgerald, 19th century.
There is more bliss in describing the nymphs than in describing medals. There is more bliss in describing the mountain people underground than in describing fencing and service to ladies. For in these things the human spirit is used to move in divine works, while in the other things the spirit is used to seek the word's manner and applause, in vanity and dishonesty.
—Paracelsus (16th century)

Compounded the four elements, each of which is ruled by elemental spirits. Earth by gnomes, water by undines or nymphs, air by sylphs, fire by salamanders; all are sublimated substances and not demoniacal beings.

They are not conventional spirits, because they live, procreate, eat, drink, smell, speak (some), laugh, sing, perform, rest and die. They differ from one another in person, character, and species; are beings populating a space between men and spirits, looking like the man in their organization and form and resembling spirits in the swiftness of their movement.

The water type looks like a man or woman living in the waters. Salamanders are fiery balls or else long, narrow, glowing lights running across meadows and living in the volcanoes and bonfires. The forest or mountain kind seems a little people. The sylphs have no defined form but are long and strong. They can have a rapport with humans but after while come back to their world.[161] They know the minds, thoughts and cogitations of men. And they sometimes are the executioners of divine wrath, nevertheless they also can warn, watch and defend people from dangers.[163]

Asleep nature spirit. The Dragonfly by Gustave Moreau, 1884.

Nature spirits cannot be destroyed by action of regular earthy substances on account of they are in etheric condition, therefore in a rate of higher vibration. However they can have etheric diseases and their bodies after death solely disintegrate, no individual consciousness is preserved although they are of a high moral character.[163]

Being made of ether, a single substance, there is no friction in their composition, consequently there is little "tear" brought upon their bodily functions, and they can live long time. Thus nature spirits have a mean of length of life between three hundred and a thousand years. Those made of air ether have longest life while those of earth ether are the shortest lived, states Paracelsus. Connected to this gist, the writer Castaneda substantiates that ethereal beings have an extremely narrow tear compared to one of a regular living being like the man. That ethereal tear or slit, located adjacent to center of body, as time goes, the spirit of death incessantly strikes and makes it to grow larger until it finally broke open the “lively casing” and cause an immediate death.[164] That’s why people and animals curl when mortally injured; they are instinctively protecting their slits.[62][75][165]

Sylphs can assume human form when they want, says Paracelsus. Pack Clouds Away and Welcome Day by E. R. Hughes, 1890.

According to Paracelsus some sorts of earth elementals, like the gnomes, live congregated in communities, while others are restrict to the substances in which they perform. Hamadryads, for example, live and die with the trees of which they act. Small nature spirits often inhabit alone every shrub and flower. The man lives in the exterior elements and the elementals live in the interior Elements, states Paracelsus. Concerning that, the writer C. M. Gayley in The Classic Myths, observes each species is served by a distinct and suitable kind of nature spirit. For instance the hemlock, a poisonous shrub, has an elemental resembling a pygmy human skeleton covered with a thin translucent skin. This nature spirit, even if the plant is cut down, stays with the shrub’s remains while there is any residue of life until finally both die, plant and elemental guardian.[166]

Looking through the assertions proclaimed by Paracelsus, particularly those related to sylphs, comes out the comparison with the work Phaedo by ancient Greek philosopher Plato in which there are correlated descriptions. In Phaedo the Greek philosopher Socrates fairly narrates the existence of an unaware world connected with the ordinary world of the man. According to Socrates, that is the "upper earth" where its diverse inhabitants live much longer than common persons and do not have diseases. They have sight, hearing and smell, and all the other senses. They openly talk and hear the voices and answers of theirs gods, which truly dwell their sacred places. In the upper earth some beings dwell in the air, they use the air as men use the sea, and the ether it is their air, articulates Socrates.[167]

Even from perspective of nature spirits, proceeds Paracelsus, some entities are unorthodox creatures, such as giants and sirens, due to the fact that elementals can beget these anomalies that die out soon. The apparition of these means a disequilibrium on nature and omen of impending disaster.[161]

The life depends on elemental beings, holds Paracelsus.[31] The soul of the rose (Psyche tale) by Waterhouse, 1908.

Elementals, says the alchemist, have subtle blood, flesh and bones; they are able to travel through walls but each kind has its own density according to its abode. Each kind does not withstand the abode of another kind. They work like men but their work is for the nature where them live.

They are non-Adamic creatures, are sinless, not have soul but if procreate with man, gain soul and have human descendents. They are under protection of God, clothed and guided by him. However evil spirits can possess elementals and these can harm people. Besides elementals dispose of knowledge about past, present and future without penetration, so can be dangerous deal with them.

Concerning the question of the soul deliberated by Paracelsus, certain philosophies, such the Taoism, posit it as manifold as well as some other cultures ground a dualism to the soul. The axial concept takes into account that inhabit the living body the po, an animal soul, and the hun, the spiritual soul. Po is connected to body functions, it is the "moon soul", an ephemeron and terrene soul, while hun is the “solar soul”, that is to say, the celestial and free soul.[168] As a further matter, in his writings Castaneda gives another interpretation where he understands the absolute inexistence of everlasting souls.[169] However, he states, the body itself it is an entity holding own consciousness, while the regular mind it is another separated being.[170] Ultimately both entities would become a true oneness if they accomplished the enlightenment.[73][75][171]

Although Paracelsus thereof repeatedly claims the soulless nature of elementals he also clarifies that actually they have exquisite souls. Elementals do not have an eternal soul but they are themselves a kind of soul, its soul it is the life. When a fire burns, this happens for there is an "elemental soul", in other words, life it is present. Without that soul, a fire cannot burn; what burn it are not the elements of fire but its soul. The soul of the elementals is the life of all created things.[31]


The writer Colombian Samael Aun Weor, founder of Universal Christian Gnostic Movement, gathers and syncretizes a broad variety of teachings[140] creating new terms and asserting for instance dryad, hamadryad, nymph, faun and genie as elemental spirits of plants.[172]

Other term, "innocent angels", refers to the elemental beings of plants, however he warns that black magicians may utilize them in order to harm their enemies.

Storm clouds in the devic kingdom are more than an atmospheric event but also a product designed and directed by angels and sylphs.

For Samael, the whole universe is elaborated with the ethereal matter, everything comes from the ether and everything returns into the ether. The ether condensed gives origin to all that is created. The four elements of Nature, earth, fire, water and air are only condensations of the four types of ether.

Innumerable elemental creatures from Nature densely populate the four varieties of ether. Salamanders live within the fire; ondines and nereids in water; sylphs in clouds; gnomes live within the earth. Nonetheless all entities have stimulus over the physical body of plants. Salamanders command vegetables under the signs of fire. Ondines rule plants which are influenced by the zodiacal signs of water. Sylphs are the elementals of the plants belonging to the signs of air. Gnomes operate plants under the effect of signs of earth.

The ethereal entities also can prompt magic arts. In order to unleash the tempests or to pacify the waters is done by commanding the occult power of the plants of water sign. When sylphs cross through the space, they move the masses of air producing the wind. So is possible unleash or calm the winds and hurricanes by directing the elementals of air, who are enclosed within the vegetables of this sign. Transmute lead into gold by controlling the occult power of the herbs belong to the signs of earth buy yet, in order to perform this, it is needful the fire elemental. When a magician moves the elementals of fire with his power, then, these elementals act over etheric fire with their own accord, and the fire devours what this magician wants.

The elements of the natural world are agitated when the corresponding elemental beings become emotional, enthusiastic or when they are intensely moved. A tempest explodes from the agitated combination of water and air. The roar of the sea and the whistling of the hurricane are the screams of achievement of the ethereal beings. Like a great battle exploding between the elementals over the sea, ondines throw the ether of their waters to the sylphs. Consequently, the sylphs return this movement by casting waves to the ondines.[172]

Agrippa’s ancient view

Born at 15th century the German alchemist H. C. Agrippa wrote De Occulta Philosophia libri III, an interpretation of ethereal beings where he integrates occult lore of the natural world with Christianity, which remained as a reference and source for later and modern occultist traditions.

In his writings Agrippa cites Thomas Aquinas, ancient philosophers, scholars and religious books as references for his reasoning and quotations. In this manner he widely provides a united background over kabbalistic magic and Neoplatonic philosophy, and considers the wisdom inserted in the harmonies of nature as means to man achieve his greatest potential.[173][174] Arising from those investigations Agrippa distinguishes three kinds of ethereal planes:

Forms of butterfly are often related to ethereal beings. The spirit of the morning, by Fritz Zuber-Buhler, 19th century.


The first sphere would be an intellectual or mental realm of divine beings without physical body which instill divine light unto inferior orders, and distribute duties to all of them.

The second realm belongs to worldly angels, which are divided into many orders and govern planes and stars shinning in sky of divers dimensions. There is a direct relation between the seven known planets at that time and the number of angelic domains, being each of them with their peculiar species and subdivisions. Thus the sun has a conglomerate of solar beings; corporations of angelic beings govern the astrologic relations having for each small aspect an assigned entity, as well for planets and men’s nations. They take care of the destinies of men with skilled beings.

Every one of four elements has an entrusted angelic being furthermore divided by sets of qualities like fire, water, air, earth and oriental, occidental, meridional, septentrional (northern). Hence the fiery beings follow the mind, the contemplation of sublime things; the aerial follow the reason, the rationality; the watery following the imagination, the voluptuous life; the earthly following nature, favor vegetable nature.

They assist everywhere on Earth, rule over large or small places, have unbounded bodies by space and time and receive the direction of the heaven. They are gods, goddesses and demigods of woods, country gods, satyrs, familiar spirits, fairies of fountains and woods, nymphs of the sea, naiads, nereids, dryads, hamadryades, pegasides (nymphs of wells and brooks[175]), geniis, hobgoblins, the deities Agape (Eros), Pales, Camenae, Muses and the Graces. In this list Agrippa still includes some unusual names such as heliconides, candalides, mionides, and dodonas, which today denominate scientific genera of moths or butterflies, however in cultures, like the Mesoamerican, the butterfly is associated with manifestation of spirits, of the soul and of the "Black Sun" in the underworld.[176] [177] Megaera, one of the Greek goddesses Erinyes, also is the denomination of some species of moths. Greek, Roman and central Asiatic tales tell that human soul leaves the body with shape of a butterfly,[111] while the writer Castaneda portraits the vision of a moth as a right expression of the “Spirit”.[72][178]

As to the third domain, proceeds Agrippa, some of these beings become corporeal and mortal, whose bodies are begotten and die, yet to be long lived. They occupy the inferior world, four most malevolent kings rule over others, according to the four parts of the world and under these many princes govern legions. Hence the Gorgons, the Erinyes and Cerberus belong to this kind of spirits. They plot, endeavor mischief, hid and open violence. They appreciate all things done wickedly and competitively.[179]

Angelic beings

There are three lines of angelic beings where every one of which divides into three hierarchies making a total of nine spheres.[180]

The superior type Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones are entities contemplating respectively the goodness, essence, form, and wisdom of God.

In the middle exist Dominions, Virtues and Powers as beings governing the world. The firsts command that which the others execute; the seconds minister to the heavens and sometimes assist miracles; the thirds remove what can disturb the divine law.

In the inferior hierarchy stay the Principalities, Archangels and Angels ministering spirits who descend to take care of inferior topics. The firsts of these conduct public issues, princes, magistrates, provinces, kingdoms; every nation has a ruling angel designated. The seconds comply sacred duties and direct the divine worship about every man; present the prayers and sacrifices of men in front of the gods. The thirds control every smaller affair; to each thing there is a preserver and providing vitality to plants, stones and to all inferior things; like ministers, mediate many common issues between God and the man.

Tetragrammaton, the name of God, which in Kabbalah generated the multitude of creatures of the Universe, is expressed by Agrippa in his description of the celestial spheres.[181] Sefardi, 1385.

Agrippa still stresses another subdivisions as watchful orders which are the Doctrinal order, Tutelary order, where him puts entities like the being Michael one of the princes and the being Raphael, then follow the Procuratorial order, Ministerial order, Auxiliary order, Receptor order and lastly the order of Assistants who assist the ruler of the whole Earth.

In sequence the writer highlights the Hebraic version of these orders of beings which appoint right relation with the cabalistic Tree of life:

  • Haioth Hacadosh (from Hebrew: holy creatures that in some traditions represents the four holy creatures[182]) is the highest order; is composed by creatures which God gives the gift of being.
  • Ophanim which are entities of the forms and wheels arranging the Chaos.
  • Aralim are mighty angels by which God Jehova Elohim joined with He administers form to the liquid matter.
  • Hasmalim who frames the effigies of bodies.
  • Seraphim by which God Elohim Gibor draws forth the elements.
  • Malachim constitutes angels by which God Eloha, produces metals.
  • Elohim are gods by which God Jehovah Sabaoth produces vegetables.
  • Beni Elohim by which God Elohim Sabaoth procreates animals.
  • Cherubim, the ninth and lowest order by which God Sadai creates mankind.

Under these is the order Animasticus called Issim where stay nobles or blessed men, by which God Adonai grants the gift of prophecy.[181]

Evil beings

Agrippa shows an organization not so structured for the evil spirits, he does not exhibit exactly a nomenclature but only a generalization of mischievous characteristics. In that he seems be repetitive what on the other hand is something that could be expected of entropic beings but still him assigns nine orders contrary to those of the angelic beings.

Archangel Michael casts out the arrogant angels. Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1866.

Origins and behavior

In his work, though entitling chapters as evils beings, Agrippa also mixes in angels and other beings, he makes not a clear distinction among them. He as usual almost does not state directly a position on the subject of origin and features of ethereal beings but offers quotations, third assertions and some own:

Evil spirits, comments Agrippa, do wander up and down in this inferior world. Some enraged against all, are called devils, but what they are and how they are, is not clear. May be are apostate angels. Ancient Greece thinks not that all these are damned, nor that they are all by design evil, but that from the creation of the world, the apportionment of things is commanded by this means, that the tormenting of sinful souls is made over to them.

Others say that not any devil was created evil, but that they were driven and expelled of heaven, from the orders of good angels for their pride. Others describe this fall due to a rebelling army. Some say that the devils themselves confess their fall of being cast into Earth; that are close to humans, wander up and down in dark air inhabiting lakes, rivers, seas and earth; that conquer those who dig wells and metals; cause the breach of the earth, strike the foundation of mountains, and exasperate not only men, but also other creatures. Some devils feel great joy in wars and effusion of blood. Some evil beings satisfy with illusion and laughing; devise by preference against tired men then hurt them. Some change themselves into big or small forms for tormenting men with fear.

There are nocturnal, diurnal, meridional devils and them have varied names. They are spirits who act of their own free will, left the service of God with their evil prince.

If they began to repent a little, they incarnate as humans. That further by this repentance, after the resurrection, by the same ways by the which they came into the flesh, they might at the last come back to God, being then also freed from ethereal and aerial bodies. There are many of the fallen angels who hope for their salvation. Some repentant devils shall be forgiven.[183]

Zarathustra and the Vedas

At the period of Agrippa, the western thoughts about evil beings unveil ties with the ancient Persian mythology. In the Middle East around the 11th or 10th century BCE according to Gathas, texts attributed to Zoroaster, certain kinds of devas were originally known as daivas and ahuras in Old Iranian, a classification of gods and spirits which drawn from asuras of the Hinduism. The daivas were worshiped in earlier times but after while became identified as celestial beings having no discernment between virtue and badness. Meanwhile, especially under the Zoroastrian doctrine, they ended understood as full malefic entities and been completely rejected, what explains why the word “devil” derives from “deva”.[33][184]

However in some analyses grounded in the school Mimāṃsā of Hindu philosophy, there is also a resemblance with the term “rebel angels” coming from these roots. Asura is used in the earliest Vedic literature as a title of the cosmic hierarch or supreme spirit. Asura in Sanskrit is often disposed to a class of highly spiritual and intelligent beings. The other most important Vedic deities such as Varuna (god of water), Agni (god of fire) and Indra (king of devas), are all inferior cosmogonically and hierarchically to the Vedic Asura, which is Brahman, the primordial being originating the phenomenal universe. The asuras, under this perspective, made their rebellion against the insincere and deceptive ritualistic worship represented by Vedic deities Brishaspati, which are the defenders of prayers and sacrifices to the gods. Hence, in Zoroastrianism the brishaspatis have correspondence to the divine yazatas who originally also revealed right association with sacrifices, rituals, worship and antagonism to the daivas.[32][185]


In his descriptions Agrippa regularly use the word “demon” meaning like the Greek “daemon” inferring a generic term, not to classify as good or evil but rather a featured being and sometimes a holy entity for him.[186]

Nereid by Draper, 1910.

Ethereal bodies

Some entities, continues Agrippa, abides the fire, have fiery bodies. Others are mixture of fire and air, are called ethereal and aerial. The third kind is called watery. And the most noticeable are the earthily demons.

The bodies of sublime demons are sustained of ethereal element. Being weaved of bright small strings they are softness, echo with splendor and vanish by their elusiveness. All angels are incorporeal though evil angels can assume bodies awhile and then put off. Angels are said to be aerial, and fiery. In the beginning of their creation angels were formed of the more pure, and superior part of the air. The bodies of devils are ethereal and aerial but under material influence as shadows and subject to passion although it being a spiritual body, yet it is more susceptible, and touched it suffer. However some devils draw a gross body, have much affinity with earth, water and are also taken with terrestrial pleasures like lust. Of which kind are hobgoblins, incubi, and succubi (though none of these is to be supposed male or female), but these devils have not elaborate bodies, cannot turn themselves into all shapes.

Fiery and airy beings easily change themselves into what shapes they want while subterraneous and dark beings cannot make this diversity of shapes. The watery beings usually have a woman form; they are the fairies of the rivers and nymphs of the woods. But the earthly ones show themselves in form of man like satyrs, onoskelis with asses legs, fauns, incubi, and some demons called Dusii that tenaciously tempt humans to feel desire.[187]

Human interactions

Dressed themselves with air like the Muses, claims Agrippa, there are 30000 of Jupiter immortal spirits living on the Earth, which affect and guard mortal men, going everywhere on the Earth. It is given to every man a good spirit and equally an evil genius, whereof each seeks a union with the human spirit. But good and evil spirits choose manifest or not their powers according to the deserving level of each man.[188]

“Fairy Vivien and the sorcerer Merlin, son of an ethereal being according to Agrippa”. Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1868.

From souls of men sometimes are created spirits. They may be blessed familiar spirits, which the Greeks call Eudaemons or else beings fashioned from ill deserving men, which are evil hags or hobgoblins that the Greeks call Cacodemons. Also they may be named as ghosts and can have an animal shape. Besides ethereal beings when having an affair with humans beget human children. Merlin the magician and Plato would be born from this circumstance.

A certain kind of spirits, continues Agrippa, is closer to men, they are affected with human passions and many willingly dwell with them. Some of them are uncritically fond of women, children, domestic and wild animals. Some beings are subject to man's commands. Celestial, evil beings or nature spirits are necessaries for the man and can be called for helping with enlightenment and mystic works as allies or without bond. However bad entities must bind good ones and some these only do what brings advantages to them. They fear the edge of the sword. For expelling disobedient evil spirits one good way would be intonating the sacred passage written in biblical passage of Psalms 92:9. The best assistants are those who had some human life like the saints and Greek heroes.

The fairies and hobgoblins abide fields; naiads do fountains; potamides rivers; nymphs marshes and ponds; oreades mountains; humedes meadows; dryads and hamadryads woods, which also satyrs and sylvani inhabit; the naptaes and agaptaes in flowers; the dodonaes in acorns; the paleaes and feniliaes in hay and the country. The man therefore may go in these places and allure them with sweet smokes, pleasant sounds, and by such instruments made of peculiar wood, adding songs, verses and enchantments. Must to be observed in this process the innocence of the mind and constant silence to avoid them can have fear running away. Otherwise the calling can attract hobgoblins, familiars and ghosts who will strike the person.[189]

Aliens and entheogens

Ololiuqui, used since period of Nahuan people (Aztecan).[190]

Ancient traditions in the world such as those of the pre-Columbian peoples in the Mesoamerica,[190][191] and the Greek Eleusinian tradition, celebrated mystical rituals between man and ethereal Gods that occurred through the effects of entheogens.[192][193] In modern times, spiritual experiences still are seen in religious rituals of sects, such as the Ayahuasca cult, or in isolated experiences of free will.[66] Aliens realized as ethereal beings are reported by persons under effect of these psychoactive substances.[194][195]

Although there is a large diversity of experiences and outcomes, each entheogen profiles some own character,[196][197] what allows to identify a convergent line of reports. Hence, in some of these accounts, persons who were under altered state of consciousness, claim to have made contact with the purported hamadryad of the entheogenic plant.[198] In his writings the writer Castaneda, for example, personified the Peyote’s hamadryad by the name of "Mescalito".[64][66] According to the researches and reports, some specific entheogens like the Peyote, the Ololiuqui, and those with DMT alkaloid, in particular the Tepezcohuite emphasize such features.[65][199]

Peyote, with recorded use since 3780 B.C. by Oshara Tradition in USA.[191]

Alongside a disturbed sense of reality, other shared point narrated by protagonists under these effects, it is the hamadryad showing itself as an alien, which also lives out of the Earth and already was waiting for that contact. That is, there is a strange duality that exhibits the alien being living at the same time as a hamadryad on Earth, and as well in another dimension as an hallucinogenic version of the Quantum Entanglement.[200] Such aspects were well observed by American writer Terence McKenna who describes them as "Machine elves".[194][201]

Another recurrent elements are the loss of the sense of identity, lack of ability to think, a being which leads the person to an odd dimension, the meeting with more aliens, and the person being submitted to an ethereal abduction.[198][202] Afterwards the aliens elucidate secrets of the universe to the subject, and usually welcome him to return soon.[203][204][205]

According to theosophic author Alice Bailey, although seldom, alien beings from other planets can obsess or possess humans. The assistance of "violet devas", which are devas that perform in the etheric plane, helps to strengthen the human body to resist obsessions. Hence by means of the violet light, it is fortified the "etheric web", claims Bailey.[153] Such concept finds some similarity in the tool dreamcatcher used by American natives for protection against mischievous spirits. According to native tradition, the nightmarish spirits are trapped in the crafted web and dissipate under the effect of solar specter.[35]

Conspiracy theories and doctrines

Zhi-Khro, mandala representing the “last” encounter with demons. It is a part of the Bardo Thodol's collection, teachings held in the Nyingma tradition originated with the sage Padmasambhava in the 8th century.[206]

The connection between ethereal beings and man also comes from popular conspiracy theories, such as The Invisibles, a comic book series by Grant Morrison that was said be intended as a hypersigil,[198] as well as from esoteric philosophies,[172] where the plot would be the deviation of man’s sense of reality, and the obstruction of his spiritual development[207] by some ethereal creatures.[208]

Writers like Castaneda corroborate that sense unveiling certain type of ethereal beings as manipulators and parasites of the human mind.[209] He declares that they control the whole life of a human being.[210] As expounded by Castaneda, perception, thoughts and emotions are alien events restraining what a man realizes. To achieve such prowess, the ethereal being transfers his own alien mind to the young human.[89][211] For that reason the human ego actually is an alien self and the reality sought by men is untruth, is not the universe as fact. Victim of that catastrophic situation, the only chance to escape from that, would be an entire life of breaking off thoughts discipline and other techniques. However for governing a human, at some moment there must be an agreement between the parts because according to him as well as other occultist authors, the “world of the ethereal beings” does not know lies but recognizes humans. The first word spoken is sacred, it is a final act, and thus regrets are useless.[141] Nevertheless this does not mean that ruses could not be done by it.[71][209]

Besides involving ghostly creatures such as familiars and demons, western magic tradition deposits such mental practice of ceasing the internal mental dialogue as well a requisite in the path for becoming a magician.

In the Buddhist Tradition certain philosophic parallels concerning such discipline, also are found.[209][212][213] The Dhyāna, the meditation practice where thoughts are canceled, would be a major factor to free the man of his Samsara strands and became an enlightened Buddha.[214][215]

The psychic death of ego and the annulment of desires, that in turn provide from self-image, as well would be key elements to man understand Maya, that in Sanskrit means world of illusions.[216][217] The "non-self", the anatman, the teaching that none of the things perceived by the senses constitute a "self", represents a commitment of most Buddhist doctrines.[218] As for the sense of reality, there are variations in Tibetan Buddhism, but as clarified by school of Dzogchen, all perceived reality is totally unreal.[219]

Buddhism professes the existence of a myriad of ethereal entities pictured as demons or “angry gods”, which are accrued in the human psyche and must be overcome during the process of death to achieve the enlightenment.[220] Many teachings in Buddhism aim to face the death and fight against these creatures to achieve the freedom of human soul. A Buddhist doctrine altogether dedicated to that is Death yoga, one of the Tantra techniques in Vajrayana. That theme is very explored in the Tibetan texts written around the 8th century A.D., of the Bardo Thodol or The Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State (Tibetan: bardo “liminality”; thodol as “liberation”) more known in Occident as “The Tibetan book of dead”.[52]

Dweller on the Threshold by Arthur Bowen Davies, circa 1915.

Armenian writer George Gurdjieff claimed that mankind does not really sense the reality. According to Gurdjieff, people could not perceive reality in their current states because they do not possess consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic "waking sleep".[209] He declares: "Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies". The author, born in 19th century, at that time was considered polemic but succeeded to settle his school, also known as "the Fourth Way", teaching his esoteric techniques of "awakening". The best legacy of his work, probably is represented by work of the philosopher P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous.[221]

The reality question according to theosophist Bailey, displays a dual sight, which she describes it as the necessary and holy work by devas of one side, while on the other hand it indicates such work as rightly charming the humanity. Men became slaves of what she calls “the compelling glamour of Maya”.[207]

Inasmuch, progresses Bailey, there is the problematic control exerted by some elementals in human constitution. These elementals, which she calls "lunar lords", naturally build the own human essence. The lunar lords have own existence and power, however they are in an “involutionary arc” aggregating and arresting the human being under a world of forms. Virtually they are intelligences escorted by their will. When the lunar lords deploy a predominant command they transform themselves in the “lower personality”. In view of that fact, as a single being, “he” is a power directing the body’s energies for feeding himself in all the three basic levels: physical, astral and mental. The man must constantly hear the “formless” voice coming from “real man” for finding the deliverance from that bondage, for accomplishing the realization of this world of form.[222]

Another opposing entity it is the “Dweller on the Threshold”, who only affects persons already in the path to knowledge, the initiates.[208] What the dweller comes to be, it is not clear to most esoteric schools, outlines Bailey, but effectively it is a huge and potent thoughtform, an elemental embodying vital, astral and mental energy, a force blocking the initiated progress that must be dissipated.[151]

The “dweller” can be determined as all lower features marked in the human personality; he shifts the consciousness into a delusional and sensorial realm; he defies the human soul; he leads to the past intrinsically accompanied by its limitations and wicked addictions; he induces a fanatic mind and whilst in his worst manifestation causes mental insanity, asserts Bayley.[151][207][208]

Concerning artistic expressions, stands out the mystic painting “The Dweller in the Innermost” by George Frederic Watts, which as well inspired the English Walter Crane to write the sonnet:

The Dweller in the Innermost by George Frederic Watts, 1885-6.

Star-steadfast eyes that pierce the smouldering haze
Of Life and Thought, whose fires prismatic fuse
The palpitating mists with magic hues
That stain the glass of Being, as we gaze,
And mark in transit every mood and phase,
Which, sensitive, doth take or doth refuse
The Lights and shadows Time and Love confuse,

When, lost in dreams, we thread their wandering maze.
Fledged, too, art thou with plumes on brow and breast
To bear thee, brooding o'er the depths unknown
Of human strife, and wonder, and desire;
And silence, wakened by thy horn alone,
Behind thy veil behold a heart on fire,
Wrapped in the secret of its own unrest.

—Walter Crane, 1907.[223]

A precursor of this theme at Victorian era was the English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton who in his mystical romance Zanoni phrased the expression “Dweller of the Threshold” for representing a mighty entity opposing those in the way for the occult world:

The Kiss of the Sphinx by Franz von Stuck, 1895.

Its form was veiled as the face, but the outline was that of a female;
yet it moved not as move even the ghosts that simulate the living.
It seemed rather to crawl as some vast misshapen reptile; and
pausing, at length it cowered beside the table which held the mystic
volume, and again fixed its eyes through the filmy veil on the rash

All fancies, the most grotesque, of monk or painter in the
early North, would have failed to give to the visage of imp or fiend
that aspect of deadly malignity which spoke to the shuddering
nature in those eyes alone. All else so dark, —shrouded, veiled and
larva-like. But that burning glare so intense, so livid, yet so living,
had in it something that was almost HUMAN in its passion of hate
and mockery, something that served to show that the shadowy
Horror was not all a spirit, but partook of matter enough, at least,
to make it more deadly and fearful an enemy to material forms. As,
clinging with the grasp of agony to the wall, his hair erect, his
eyeballs starting, he still gazed back upon that appalling gaze,
—the Image spoke to him: his soul rather than his ear comprehended
the words it said.

Thou hast entered the immeasurable region. I am the Dweller of the
Threshold. What wouldst thou with me? Silent? Dost thou fear me?
Am I not thy beloved? Is it not for me that thou hast rendered up
The delights of thy race? Wouldst thou be wise? Mine is the
wisdom of the countless ages. Kiss me, my mortal lover.

—Bulwer-Lytton, 1842.[224]

The characteristics of the ethereal dweller also were considered by authors such as the British Dion Fortune,[225] Russian H. P. Blavatsky,[226] and the Austrian-Hungarian Rudolf Steiner.[227] Steiner, amidst his studies, claims the existence of two dwellers, a “lesser and a greater guardian on the threshold”, and he and also Blavatsky corroborate the description made by Bulwer-Lytton's Zanoni to the dweller. According to Steiner the dweller originates from man as an independent intelligence and no longer destructible.

Dion Fortune compares the dweller with the mythological riddle of the Sphinx blocking the way of men, which in the legend confronts the man with the threat: “decipher me or I will devour you”.[225] In current theosophic lines, the dweller is rendered as a being made of astral remnants originated from present and past lives of the man, whichever are bound by desires and terrene aspirations.[32] Additionally, other possible origin to the dweller is taken under a psychological approach, which regard it actually not as a proper entity but a resistance built by sum of mind’s wishes for not abandoning the familiar and mundane ambitions of the ordinary man.[32]

The man for some esoteric traditions unconsciously bypasses his whole life as if asleep. Sleeping beauty by John Collier, 1921.

As delineated by gnostic author Samael Aun Weor the mind lives continuously reacting against the impact of the outside world. These feedbacks of appreciation depart from a demonic mental entity. This creature is the Guardian of the threshold of the human mental body . This mental custodian enslaves the mind of all human beings.[172]

Violence, desires and passions, hatred, bitterness, egoism, wrath, envy, and slander are responses coming from the mental keeper, claims Weor. The body of wishes is nothing else but a temper device of the mind keeper.[172]

The true being is not the mind, the Being is the Being, says the Gnostic. If temporarily the disciple has dispossessed himself from his mind, he can talk with the guardian. Then, the mind seems to be an independent individual that sits in front of him. After this deep exploration, the devotee will be aware that his mind is a wild force, which he must overcome, command and direct. Depriving himself from this terrible sentinel allows transform his matter mind into Christ mind.[172]

To succeed the spiritual practitioner works via the inner fire, asserts Weor. Awaking the igneous serpent of the mental body, it runs the spinal cord (the igneous wings) and then him daringly faces this dark beast and defeats it in an appalling wrestling match. As a consequence, after that moment, the mind of the spiritual practitioner only obeys the direct commands of the true self.[172]

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