From October 1927 through August 1940 occultist Dion Fortune published Inner Light Magazine. The book Applied Magic is a selection of articles from that publication geared toward the unitiated – complete with esoteric glossary and a focus on “practical” subject matter. It is brief, insightful, and offers a surprising amount of digestible arcana. Although the true practicality of the following excerpt is debatable, I, for one, have always wondered about Elementals, and find that after reading this I can now wonder a little less.
Much confusion of thought exists concerning the orders of beings known as Elementals. They are sometimes confused with the spirits of men. Undoubtedly many happenings attributed to spirits are to be assigned to the activities of these other orders of beings. Again, they are not to be confused with the evil demons, or, to give them the Qabalistic name, the Qliphoth.
Elementals are the thought-forms generated by coordinated systems of reactions that have become stereotyped by constant and unchanging repetition. Some explanaition is necessary to make this concept clear, and we shall understand it best if we survey the means by which Elementals come into being.
Each epoch of evolution is constituted by the outgoing and return of a life-wave of living souls. These are referred to in esoteric terminology as the Lords of Flame, of Form, and of Mind. The present evolution will become the Lords of Humanity. Each life-wave develops its characteristic contribution to evolution. When the Divine Sparks which constituted the nuclei of the evolving souls of each evolution are withdrawn back up the planes and reabsorbed into the Kingdom of God, their work remains behind them in that which they have builded, whether it be the chemical elements evolved by the Lords of Form, the chemical reactions evolved by the Lords of Flame, or the reactions of consciousness evolved by the Lords of Mind.
Humanity, it is held, is evolving the power of co-ordinated consciousness, and the Lords of Humanity therefor hold the same relationship to the Lords of Mind that the Lords of Flame hold to the Lords of Form. These beings, however, of the three earlier life-waves, have passed out of range of the life of our earth, each group to its appropriate plane, and the Lords of Humanity are still absorbed in the task of building, and are not yet, save those few who have become Masters, escaped from the bondage of the material in which they work. Consequently, it is but rarely that any psychic save the higher grades of adept ever contacts any of these beings.
They have left behind them, however, as has already been noted, the forms which they built up in the course of their evolution. These forms, as psychics teach, actually consist of co-ordinated systems of magnetic stresses. Whenever any movement takes place an electric current is set up, and if the series of co-ordinated movements is repeated many times, these currents tend to make adjustments among themselves and become co-ordinated on their own account, quite independently of the physical forms whose activities gave rise to them. It is out of these co-ordinations that the Elementals are evolved.
We cannot go more deeply into this most interesting and intricate subject in the present pages. It is a matter for separate study. Enough has been said, however, to indicate that although the ultimate product of the evolution of the angelic, the human, and the Elemental kingdom is to produce consciousness and intelligence, the origin of the three types of beings is entirely different, and so also is their destiny.
The Divine Sparks are the emanations of the Great Unmanifest, Ain Soph Aur, in the terminology of the Qabalists; the angels are the creations of the Solar Logos, and the Elementals are “the creations of the created” that is to say, they are developed out of the activities of the material universe.
Of the Elementals thus evolved there are many types. Firstly, the four great divisions of the Elemental spirits of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, know respectively to the Alchemists and Gnomes, Sylphs, Salamanders, and Undines. These really represent four types of activity arising out of four types of relationship. In solids, (the Element of earth) the molecules adhere together. In liquids, (the Element of water) the molecules are free-moving. In gases, (the Element of air) they repel each other and therefor diffuse to their uttermost limits. And in fire the essential property of its activity is to change plane, or transmute. The four kingdoms of primary Elementals, under their angelic kings represent the co-ordinated, purposive, and intelligent action of these four properties of matter – the mind-side of the material phenomena, to be precise.
This fact is well known to occultists, and they employ the mind-side of matter in their magical work. Consequently many of these Elemental systems of reactions have, as it were, been domesticated by adepts. Elementals thus domesticated become imbued with consciousness of a human type. These developed, (or initiated) Elementals are sometimes met with by psychics.
From Applied Magic by Dion Fortune