But this was because she was a pure, good woman. Other correspondents of the Theosophical Society have not fared so well at the hands of these apish and impish beings. The Havanna case, elsewhere described, is an example.
Though spiritualists discredit them ever so much, these nature-spirits are realities. If the gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines of the Rosicrucians existed in their days, they must exist now. Bulwer-Lytton’s Dweller of the Threshold, is a modern conception, modelled on the ancient type of the Sulanuth of the Hebrews and Egyptians, which is mentioned in the Book of Jasher.
The Christians call them “devils,” “imps of Satan,” and like characteristic names. They are nothing of the kind, but simply creatures of ethereal matter, irresponsible, and neither good nor bad, unless influenced by a superior intelligence. It is very extraordinary to hear devout
Catholics abuse and misrepresent the nature-spirits, when one of their greatest authorities, Clement the Alexandrian, disposed of them, by describing these creatures as they really are. Clement, who perhaps had been a theurgist as well as a Neo-platonist, thus arguing upon good authority, remarks, that it is absurd to call them devils, for they are only inferior angels, “the powers which inhabit elements, move the winds and distribute showers, and as such are agents and subject to God.” Origen, who before he became a Christian also belonged to the Platonic school, is of the same opinion. Porphyry describes these daemons more carefully than any one else.
When the possible nature of the manifesting intelligences, which science believes to be a “psychic force,” and spiritualists the identical spirits of the dead, is better known, then will academicians and believers turn to the old philosophers for information.
Let us for a moment imagine an intelligent orang-outang or some African anthropoid ape disembodied, i.e., deprived of its physical and in possession of an astral, if not an immortal body. We have found in spiritual journals many instances where apparitions of departed pet dogs and other animals have been seen. Therefore, upon spiritualistic testimony, we must think that such animal “spirits” do appear although we reserve the right of concurring with the ancients that the forms are but tricks of the elementals. Once open the door of communication between the terrestrial and the spiritual
world, what prevents the ape from producing physical phenomena such as he sees human spirits produce. And why may not these excel in cleverness of ingenuity many of those which have been witnessed in spiritual circles? Let spiritualists answer. The orang-outang of Borneo is little, if any, inferior to the savage man in intelligence. Mr. Wallace and other great naturalists give instances of its wonderful acuteness, although its brains are inferior in cubic capacity to the most undeveloped of savages. These apes lack but speech to be men of low grade. The sentinels placed by monkeys; the sleeping chambers selected and built by orang-outangs; their prevision of danger and calculations, which show more than instinct; their choice of leaders whom they obey; and the exercise of many of their faculties, certainly entitle them to a place at least on a level with many a flat-headed Australian. Says Mr. Wallace, “The mental requirements of savages, and the faculties actually exercised by them, are very little above those of the animals.”
Now, people assume that there can be no apes in the other world, because apes have no “souls.” But apes have as much intelligence, it
appears, as some men; why, then, should these men, in no way superior to the apes, have immortal spirits, and the apes none? The materialists will answer that neither the one nor the other has a spirit, but that annihilation overtakes each at physical death. But the spiritual philosophers of all times have agreed that man occupies a step one degree higher than the animal, and is possessed of that something which it lacks, be he the most untutored of savages or the wisest of philosophers. The ancients, as we have seen, taught that while man is a trinity of body, astral spirit, and immortal soul, the animal is but a duality — a being having a physical body and an astral spirit animating it. Scientists can distinguish no difference in the elements composing the bodies of men and brutes; and the kabalists agree with them so far as to say that the astral bodies (or, as the physicists would call it, “the life-principle”) of animals and men are identical in essence. Physical man is but the highest development of animal life. If, as the scientists tell us, even thought is matter, and every sensation of pain or pleasure, every transient desire is accompanied by a disturbance of ether; and those bold speculators, the authors of the Unseen Universe believe that thought is conceived “to affect the matter of another universe simultaneously with this”; why, then, should not the gross, brutish thought of an orang-outang, or a dog, impressing itself on the ethereal waves of the astral light, as well as that of man, assure the animal a continuity of life after death, or “a future state”?