THE SEVEN SOULS OF THE EGYPTOLOGISTS
If one turns to those wells of information, “The Natural Genesis” and the Lectures of Mr. Gerald Massey, the proofs of the antiquity of the doctrine under analysis become positively overwhelming. That the belief of the author differs from ours can hardly invalidate the facts. He views the symbol from a purely natural standpoint, one perhaps a trifle too materialistic, because too much that of an ardent Evolutionist and follower of the modern Darwinian dogmas. Thus he shows that “the student of Böhme’s books finds much in them concerning these Seven Fountain Spirits and primary powers, treated as seven properties of nature in the alchemistic and astrological phase of the mediæval mysteries;” 1 and adds:
“The followers of Böhme look on such matter as divine revelation of his inspired Seership. They know nothing of the natural genesis, the history and persistence of the Wisdom 2 of the past (or of the broken links), and are unable to recognise the physical features of the ancient Seven Spirits beneath their modern metaphysical or alchemist mask. A second connecting link between the Theosophy of Böhme and the physical origins of Egyptian thought, is extant in the fragments of Hermes Trismegistus. 3 No matter whether these teachings are called Illuminatist, Buddhist, Kabalist, Gnostic, Masonic, or Christian, the elemental types can only be truly known in their beginnings. 4 When the prophets or visionary showmen of cloudland come to us claiming original inspiration, and utter something new, we judge of its value by what it is in itself. But if we find they bring us the ancient matter which they cannot account for, and we can, it is natural that we should judge it by the primary significations rather than the latest pretensions. 5 It is useless for us to read our later thought into the earliest types of expression, and then say the ancients meant that. 6 Subtilized interpretations which have become doctrines and dogmas in theosophy have now to be tested by their genesis in physical phenomena, in order that we may explode their false pretensions to supernatural origin or supernatural knowledge. 7
But the able author of the “Book of the Beginnings” and of “The Natural Genesis“does – very fortunately, for us – quite the reverse. He demonstrates most triumphantly our Esoteric (Buddhist) teachings, by showing them identical with those of Egypt. Let the reader judge from his learned lecture on “The Seven Souls of Man.” 8 Says the author:
“The first form of the mystical SEVEN was seen to be figured in heaven by the Seven large stars of the great Bear, the constellation assigned by the Egyptians to the Mother of Time, and of the Seven Elemental Powers.”
Just so, for the Hindus place in the great Bear their seven primitive Rishis and call this constellation the abode of the Saptarishi, Riksha and Chitra-Sikhandinas. But whether it is only an astronomical myth or a primordial mystery, having a deeper meaning than it bears on its surface, is what their adepts claim to know. We are also told that “the Egyptians divided the face of the sky by night into seven parts. The primary Heaven was seven-fold.” So it was with the Aryans. One has but read the Purânas about the beginnings of Brahmâ, and his “Egg” to see it. Have the Aryans taken the idea from the Egyptians? “The earliest forces,” proceeds the lecturer, “recognized in nature were reckoned as seven in number. These became seven elementals, devils (?) or later, divinities. Seven properties were assigned to nature, as matter, cohesion, fluxion, coagulation, accumulation, station, and division and seven elements or souls to man.“
All this was taught in the esoteric doctrine, but it was interpreted and its mysteries unlocked, as already stated, with seven, not two, or at the utmost, three keys; hence the causes and their effects worked in invisible or mystic as well as psychic nature, and were made referable to metaphysics and psychology as much as to physiology. “The principle of sevening“ – as the author says – “was introduced, and the number seven supplied a sacred type that could be used for manifold purposes“; and it was so used. For “the seven Souls of the Pharaoh are often mentioned in the Egyptian texts. . . . Seven Souls or principles in man were identified by our British Druids. . . . . The Rabbins also ran the number of souls up to seven; so, likewise, do the Karens of India. . . .”
And then, the author tabulates the two teachings – the Esoteric and the Egyptian, – and shows that the latter had the same series and in the same order.
(Esoteric) Indian Egyptian
1. Rupa, body or element of form. 1. Kha, body.
2. Prana, the breath of life. 2. Ba, the Soul of Breath.
3. Astral body. 3. Khaba, the shade.
4. Manas–or Intelligence. 9 4. Akhu, Intelligence or Perception.
5. Kama–rupa, or animal soul. 5. Seb, ancestral Soul.
6. Buddhi, Spiritual Soul. 6. Putah, the first intellectual father.
7. Atma, pure spirit. . . . 7. Atmu, a divine or eternal soul.
Further on, the lecturer formulates these seven (Egyptian) souls, as (1) The Soul of Blood – the formative; (2)The Soul of Breath – “that breathes“; (3)The Shade or Covering Soul – “that envelopes“; (4) The Soul of Perception – “that perceives;” (5)The Soul of Pubescence “that procreates“; (6) The Intellectual Soul – “that reproduces intellectually“; and (7) The Spiritual Soul – “that is perpetuated permanently.”
From the exoteric and physiological standpoint this may be very correct; it becomes less so from the esoteric point of view. To maintain this, does not at all mean that the “Esoteric Buddhists” resolve men into a number of elementary Spirits, as Mr. G. Massey, in the same lecture, accuses them of maintaining. No “Esoteric Buddhist” has ever been guilty of any such absurdity. Nor has it been ever imagined that these shadows “become spiritual beings in another world,” or “seven potential spirits or elementaries of another life.” What is maintained is simply that every time the immortal Ego incarnates it becomes, as a total, a compound unit of Matter and Spirit, which together act on seven different planes of being and consciousness. Elsewhere, Mr. G. Massey adds: “The seven souls (our “Principles”) are often mentioned in the Egyptian texts. The moon god, Taht-Esmun, or the later sun god, expressed the seven nature-powers that were prior to himself, and were summed up in him as his seven souls (we say “principles”) . . . . The seven stars in the hand of Christ in the Revelation, have the same significance,” etc.
And a still greater one, as these stars represent also the seven keys of the Seven Churches or the SODALIAN MYSTERIES, cabalistically. However, we will not stop to discuss, but add that other Egyptologists have also found out that the septenary constitution of man was a cardinal doctrine with the old Egyptians. In a series of remarkable articles in the “Sphinx” (Munich) Herr Franz Lambert gives incontrovertible proof of his conclusions from the “Book of the Dead” and other Egyptian records. For details the reader must be referred to the articles themselves, but the following diagram, summing up the author’s conclusions, is demonstrative evidence of the identity of Egyptian psychology with the septenary division in “Esoteric Buddhism.”
1 The Natural Genesis, Vol. I, pp 318-319.
2 Yet there are some who may know something of these, even outside the author’s lines, wide as they undeniably are.
3 This connecting link, like others, was pointed out by the present writer nine years before the appearance of the work from which the above is quoted, namely, in Isis Unveiled, a work full of such guiding links between ancient, mediæval, and modern thought, but, unfortunately, too loosely edited.
4 Ay; but how can the learned writer prove that these “beginnings” were precisely in Egypt, and nowhere else, and only 50,000 years ago?
5 Precisely, and this is just what the Theosophists do. They have never claimed, “original inspiration,” not even as mediums, but have always pointed, and do now point, to the “primary signification” of the symbols, which they trace to other countries older even than Egypt; significations, moreover, which emanate from a hierarchy (or hierarchies, if preferred) of living wise men, mortals, notwithstanding that Wisdom, who reject every approach to supernaturalism.
6 But where is the proof that the ancients did not mean precisely that which the Theosophists claim? Records exist for what they say, just as other records exist for what Mr. G. Massey says. His interpretations are very correct, but equally one-sided. Surely nature has more than one physical aspect,for astronomy, astrology, and so on, are all on the physical, not the spiritual plane.
7 It is to be feared that Mr. Massey has not succeeded. We have our followers as he has his followers, and materialistic Science steps in and takes little account of both his and our speculations!
8 The fact that this learned Egyptologist does not recognise in the doctrine of the “Seven Souls,” as he terms our principles, or “metaphysical concepts,” but “the primitive biology or physiology of the Soul,” does not invalidate our argument. The lecturer touches on only two keys, those that unlock the astronomical and the physiological mysteries of esotericism, and leaves out the other five. Otherwise he would have promptly understood that what he calls the physiological divisions of the living Soul of man, are regarded by Theosophists as also psychological and spiritual.
9 This is a great mistake made in the Esoteric enumeration. Manas is the fifth, not the fourth, and Manas corresponds precisely with Seb, the Egyptian fifth principle, for that portion of Manas, which follows the two higher principles, is the ancestral soul; indeed, the bright, immortal thread of the higher Ego, to which clings the Spiritual aroma of all the lives or births.
The Secret Doctrine, ii 630–633
H. P. Blavatsky