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If we pass from India to Egypt, the land of mystery, we again find the

world-wide doctrine of palingenesis hidden beneath the same veil.

According to Egyptian teaching, the theory of the "fall of the angels"

was accepted; the fallen angels were human souls[99] who had to become

reincarnated till they reached a state of purification; fallen into

the flesh, subjected to its vicissitudes and passions, these souls had
to evolve, in successive rebirths, until they had developed all their

faculties, obtained complete control over the lower nature, and won

back their original purity; then this latter would no longer be the

unconscious purity of youthful innocence, but the conscious purity of

mature age, i.e., of the soul that has known both good and evil in

the course of its experiences, has overcome the serpent of matter, the

tempter, and voluntarily chosen the life of virtue.

The "Judgment" of the after-life is determined by the degree of

purity that has been attained; if insufficient, the soul returns to

earth, there to inhabit a human, an animal, or a vegetable form, in

accordance with its merits or demerits.

These lines prove that Egyptian teaching has come down to us, covered

with gross dross and slag, as it were, which must be subjected to

careful sifting; when this is done, we see that it also sets forth the

transmigrations to which the elements of the various vehicles are

subjected,[100] the physical ternary[101] rises from the dead, the

animal man[102] transmigrates; and man, properly so-called,[103]

reincarnates, but the details of these processes have been so confused

in such fragments of Egyptian palingenesis as we possess that it is no

easy matter to find the traces of this classification.

For instance. Herodotus tells us:

"The Egyptians were the first to hold the opinion that the soul of man

is immortal and that when the body dies it enters into the form of an

animal which is born at the moment, thence, passing on from one animal

into another until it has circled through the forms of all the

creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the air, after which

it enters again into a human form and is born anew. The whole period

of the transmigration is (they say) three thousand years."[104]

This passage evidently refers to the resurrection of the "life atoms."

H. P. Blavatsky, in the Theosophist, vol. 4, pages 244, 286,

confirms this in the following words:

"We are taught that for 3000 years, at least, the 'mummy,'

notwithstanding all the chemical preparations, goes on throwing off to

the last invisible atoms, which, from the hour of death, re-entering

the various vortices of being, go indeed 'through every variety of

organised life forms.' But it is not the soul, the fifth,[105] least

of all, the sixth[106] principle, but the life atoms of the Jiva,[107]

the second principle. At the end of the three thousand years,

sometimes more, sometimes less, after endless transmigrations, all

these atoms are once more drawn together, and are made to form the new

outer clothing or the body of the same monad (the real soul) which

they had already been clothed with two or three thousands of years

before. Even in the worst case, that of the annihilation of the

conscious personal principle,[108] the monad, or individual

soul,[109] is ever the same, as are also the atoms of the lower

principles,[110] which, regenerated and renewed in this ever-flowing

river of being, are magnetically drawn together owing to their

affinity and are once more reincarnated together...."

Certain authors have stated that belief in Resurrection was the origin

of embalming, because it was thought that after three thousand years

the soul returned to the same body, that it immediately rose again,

when the body had been preserved, whereas if such had not been the

case, it entered wherever it could, sometimes even into the body of a

lower creature. Herodotus, however, says that after the cycle of three

thousand years the soul enters a new body, not the mummified

one,[111] and this would lead one to imagine that there were other

reasons for the process of embalming. Indeed, it became general only

during the decline of Egypt; at the beginning, it was reserved for the

hierophants alone, with the object of allowing their physical

molecular elements to pass into the still coarse bodies of the masses

and help forward ordinary souls by the powerful influence of the

magnetic potency with which they were charged. It is also for this

reason that the body of a Yogi, in India, is interred, whilst in the

case of other men cremation is the rule.

On the other hand, among the multitude of beliefs left in Egypt by

degenerate traditions, there were found some which hinted, more or

less clearly, at occult truths, and which might have perpetuated or

generalised this practice. It was supposed, according to Servius, that

the transmigrations[112] began only when the magnetic bond between the

soul and its remains had been broken by the complete disintegration of

the corpse; consequently they did all in their power to preserve this


This belief may readily be connected with theosophic teaching which

says that the affinity existing between the visible corpse and the

soul clad in its kamic (astral) body, the animal soul in Kamaloka

(Purgatory), is capable, in certain cases, of detaining this soul on

earth, after its disincarnation, and thus delaying, for a longer or

shorter period, the disintegration of the elements of the passional

body. It is these elements, not the soul, that pass over into animal

bodies, and, contrary to the opinions set forth in Egyptian

exotericism, it is to the interest of the soul to free itself from

terrestrial attraction and from its kamic (astral) vehicle, and not to

remain bound down to earth. Consequently, embalming was a mistaken

action, the result of an error of doctrine, or at all events of

teachings that were incomplete, imperfectly transmitted, and


Egypt multiplied her symbols of palingenesis. Resurrection--in the

sense of re-birth in general--was symbolised by the toad which then

became the goddess Hiquet. This animal was chosen because it lives in

air and in water,[113] because it can remain imprisoned a very great

number of years without either air or food[114] and afterwards come

back to life. G. Maspero, in his Guide du Visiteur au Musee de

Boulac, tells us that the early Christians in Egypt had adopted this

symbolism, and that the lamps in their churches were formed in the

shape of a toad, and bore the inscription, "I am the Resurrection," in

the Greek language. This goddess-toad may still be seen in the museum

of Boulac.

The Scarabeus, or beetle,[115] symbolised the "personality," the

expansion of the mental substance, projected, so to speak, by the

higher mental body, at each incarnation, into the new kamic (astral)

body; a certain number of them were always deposited with the mummies,

and the beetle was represented standing on an ear of corn, a symbol of

the attainments acquired during the past earth life. Indeed, the

development of the Ego is effected by that of the personality it sends

on to the earth each incarnation; it is the new mental body which

controls the new astral and physical bodies of each incarnation, and

which is, in very truth, the flower and the fruit of the labour of


Sacred Egyptology tells us that the scarabeus requires to be

"osirified," united to its "living soul," or Ego, which sent it forth.

I will now give the reason for this emanation.

When, after disincarnation, the purgatorial life begins, the Ego

endeavours to throw off the kamic (astral) body, to pass into the

higher world--the mental plane--which is its home, there to enjoy the

delights of heaven. Thereupon a veritable battle begins. On the one

hand, the Ego endeavours to withdraw the mental body, which, at the

beginning of the incarnation, it sent into the kamic body, and to take

it to itself; on the other hand, the passional body[116]--which

instinctively feels its life bound to that of the mental element,

which gives it its strength, vital activity, and personal

characteristics--tries to keep back this centre of individual life,

and generally succeeds in doing so up to a certain point. When desire,

during incarnation, has regularly gained the victory over the will,

the passional body, or Kama, maintains the supremacy beyond the grave,

and the Ego, in endeavouring to rescue its mental projection from the

kamic bonds, yields up a more or less considerable fragment thereof,

and this fragment is restored to liberty only when the passional body

of the deceased has become disintegrated by the forces of the astral

world. This has been called the fire of purgatory.

On the other hand, when the Ego, during life, has always refused the

appeals of the lower nature, it easily withdraws, after death, from

the net of passion, the substance it has infused therein, and passes

with this substance into that part of the mental plane which is called


Such is the struggle that Egypt committed to her annals when she

inscribed upon papyrus or engraved upon stone the journeyings of the

soul into the world of shades. The soul--the mental personality--which

demands "osirification," and invokes the Ego, its god and projector,

beseeching him to draw it to himself that it may live with him, is the

lower "I." This "I" has not exhausted the "desire to live" on earth;

its desire is impressed on the germs it has left in the causal body,

and brings the Ego back to incarnation; this is the reason it prays

and desires the resurrection[117] of its "living soul," the Ego.

Denon, in his Journeyings in Egypt, has made known to us the Sha-En

(the book of metamorphoses), written in hieratic signs and republished

in Berlin, by Brugsch, in the year 1851. Explicit mention is here made

of reincarnations, and it is stated that they are very numerous.

The third part of the Book of the Dead sets forth a detailed account

of the resurrection of an Osiris; the identification of the departed

one with Osiris, God of Light, and his sharing in the life, deeds, and

power of the God; in a word, it is the final reintegration of the

human soul with God.

The loftiest and most suggestive of Egyptian palingenetic symbols is

unquestionably that of the egg. The deceased is "resplendent in the egg

in the land of mysteries." In Kircher's Oedipus Egyptiacus[118] we

have an egg--the Ego freed from its vehicles--floating over the mummy;

this is the symbol of hope and the promise of a new birth to the soul,

after gestation in the egg of immortality.[119]

The "winged globe," so widely known in Egypt, is egg-shaped, and has

the same meaning; its wings indicate its divine nature and prevent it

from being confused with the physical germ. "Easter eggs" which are

offered in spring, at the rebirth of Nature, commemorate this ancient

symbol of eternal Life in its successive phases of disincarnation and