Esoteric Ecology

Printed in the  Spring 2021  issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Hebert, Barbara"Esoteric Ecology" Quest 109:2, pg 8-9

By Barbara Hebert
National President

barbara hebertEcology is the theme of this issue of Quest. When I think of ecology, my mind goes immediately to the environment. From there, it goes quickly to the impending ecological disaster that humanity has created. All of us are aware of this, and many are doing what they can to mitigate the damage to our great mother, the earth.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines ecology as the branch of science that focuses on “the interrelationship of organisms and their environments” and “the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment.”

It is relatively simple to gather information about ecology in the familiar sense. However, it is not necessarily easy to learn about the hidden components of ecology. From our studies, we know that there is more to our environment than simply its visible aspects. I believe that there is not only a physical ecology, which we can see, but also a hidden or unseen ecology, which we may term esoteric ecology. It involves our relationships with others and our environment in imperceptible ways. I am specifically referring to the astral light and the reciprocal interactions we have with it.

Like other living things, the earth has something comparable to the etheric double of the human being. Using a term coined by the nineteenth-century French occultist Éliphas Lévi, H.P. Blavatsky refers to it as the astral light. According to, the astral light is not a universal principle; rather, it is a lower form of akasha that belongs to our world. HPB writes, “There is one great difference between the Astral Light and the Akâsa [akasha] which must be remembered. The latter is eternal, the former periodic” (Blavatsky, Collected Writings, 10:360–61). This Viewpoint is not intended to be an in-depth discussion of either the astral light or akasha, the primordial substance that permeates the universe. It is intended to share perspectives about esoteric ecology and how our relationships with one another and the world in which we live physically can impact us metaphysically. (See for further discussion of the astral light and akasha.)

The Ageless Wisdom teaches that all that happens on the earth is recorded in the astral light. The thoughts, feelings, and actions of humans are inscribed in this medium and frequently pollute it. The astral light then reflects what it has received back to the earth and its inhabitants. As HPB writes in the Theosophical Glossary, the astral light “gives out nothing but what it has received; that it is the great terrestrial crucible, in which the vile emanations of the earth (moral and physical) upon which the Astral Light is fed, are all converted into their subtlest essence, and radiated back intensified, thus becoming epidemics—moral, psychic and physical.” HPB also writes:

As the Esoteric Philosophy teaches us, the Astral Light is simply the dregs of Akâsa or the Universal Ideation in its metaphysical sense. Though invisible, it is yet, so to speak, the phosphorescent radiation of the latter, and is the medium between it and man’s thought-faculties. It is these which pollute the Astral Light, and make it what it is—the storehouse of all human and especially psychic iniquities. In its primordial genesis, the astral light as a radiation is quite pure, though the lower it descends approaching our terrestrial sphere, the more it differentiates, and becomes as a result impure in its very constitution. But man helps considerably in this pollution, and gives it back its essence far worse than when he received it. (Collected Writings, 10:251)

Given the Theosophical teachings regarding the astral light and its role in both receiving and emanating all of the occurrences on earth, our discussion about esoteric ecology must include some thoughts regarding the interrelationship between ourselves and this unseen component of our earthly environment. 

In her talk “Mastering the Cycles of Existence,” given at the 145th Theosophical Society International Convention (held in December 2020), Elena Dovalsantos said, “With us in the midst of a global pandemic, one might surmise that an accumulation, or a great accumulation, of human iniquities in the astral light have now returned as global karma.” Dovalsantos then referred to the many thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that must have been recorded in the astral light, including divisiveness, wars, greed, cruelty to our fellow humans and to animals, the destruction of our environment, and so on.

Just as human beings are responsible for the pollution of our planet, we are responsible for the pollution of the astral light. Furthermore, like the pollution of the physical planet, the pollution of the astral light seems to be causing dire consequences. Clearly what we are seeing is what humanity has fed into the astral light, and it is being “radiated back intensified.”

While this discussion of the astral light and its relationship to the extraordinary happenings in our world today may be interesting to contemplate, how can it be helpful to us?

Have you ever wondered about the timing of your birth? That is, why were you born at this particular time in history? The teachings of the Ageless Wisdom may provide us with some answers. As we read in the Theosophical texts, each lifetime is a part of our spiritual pilgrimage, providing an opportunity to learn and grow from our experiences. May I suggest that in this incarnation, we are being called upon not only to learn and grow, but to put our beliefs into action. 

We are being faced with a spiritual test. Are we really willing to work for the Light? Can we put our beliefs into action? Most Theosophists spend a great deal of time studying and discussing abstract concepts about the universe and our place in it. How often do we take action based on those Theosophical teachings?

On January 6, 2021, the Capitol of the United States was attacked while Congress was in session. Many of us watched the proceedings with shock and horror. Many of us no doubt experienced feelings of anger, frustration, and disgust, possibly even fear and sadness. Questions loomed about the safety of the people in the Capitol, about the sanctity of the democratic process, and even the future of democracy in the United States. It might even be fair to say that many were shaken to their core by the day’s happenings. 

We know from our studies that thoughts are things that have the power to impact others. Many of us, at least initially, probably radiated fear, anger, and similar emotions into the world, thus exacerbating the situation in a powerful but unseen way. How long did it take to realize what we were doing and change direction to send out thoughts for peace and unity? 

As children, my siblings and I would play in a circular water-filled metal trough during the hot days of the Louisiana summer. We would all swim in the same direction and create a strong flow; then we would reverse course and try to swim against the current in the opposite direction. That is how I felt when I changed course from sending out thoughts of anger and fear to sending out thoughts of peace and unity. I felt as if I was going against the current, and it was uncomfortable. However, as more people began to call for peace and unity, the current seemed to change, and it became easier. 

Going against the current, whether in water or in the world, is never easy. But our task as Theosophists is not easy. Many of us are called to the bodhisattva path, the path of selflessness, the path of liberating humanity from its suffering. Walking this path means that our primary goal is to help humanity. It may mean going against the current—whatever that happens to be—in order to do so. It means learning to remain calm in the storm and refusing to add to the confusion and chaos that already exists. It means balancing fear and negativity with peace and light. It means seeing all beings, regardless of their behavior, as extensions of ourselves, knowing that we are all aspects of the One Unity that is the ground of being. 

When we focus on such thoughts, we are helping humanity. We are putting the Ageless Wisdom into practice. Perhaps we were born at this very time in history so that we can bring light to the world in our own unique way, based on our beliefs and our studies. There is a reason each of us is here now. What is it? What role will each of us play in helping to liberate humanity? 

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