“It is on the Hierarchies and correct numbers of these Beings invisible (to us) except upon very rare occasions, that the mystery of the whole Universe is built.”—H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine

The doctrine of Hierarchies is one of the most intricate, difficult and sparsely explained in modern Theosophy. The primary source for teachings on this subject is the first volume of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, where some basic ideas and outlines are given in regards to the nature and function of Hierarchies.

The principle point to be understood at the forefront is that Theosophy teaches that there is no such thing as “dead matter” or lifeless substance. Instead, it teaches that “spirit” and “matter” are but two aspects of the same reality, and thus that consciousness is co-eternal with substance. This is simply an extension of what we already understand scientifically in regards to the co-existence and convertibility of matter and energy, to which Theosophy adds “consciousness” as a third relative factor. Similarly as we understand energy to be either potential or kinetic, so too we can understand consciousness to function as either non-self-consciousness or self-consciousness. Thus while consciousness is everywhere and in everything, this is not to say that such consciousness functions everywhere exactly as it does in Man, who thinks and feels and reflects upon his own existence. In some stages and levels of reality consciousness may function quite automatically, as how, for instance, chemical reactions proceed along automated lines. In other levels, when working through more complex vehicles, consciousness may function with self-awareness and self-directed will, etc. The possibilities of how consciousness can be expressed must be as varied as the possibilities of how energy and matter can be expressed.

The Theosophical cosmogony therefore includes consciousness from the very beginning of the unfolding of any universal system. There are, it claims, various kinds and degrees of “beings” or “entities,” each conscious in its own way on its own plane, and each inhabiting vehicles or “bodies” of its own type or grade of substance. The highest in any given system is viewed as inhabiting the most “ethereal” or “spiritualized matter,” and functioning generally with a wider and more universal field of consciousness, less restricted by self-identifications, and so on. As one steps down, so to speak, in the process of manifestation, the matter of each plane becomes increasingly more “physical,” i.e. more concretized or crystalized, so to speak, and the consciousness becomes necessarily more focused, bounded and limited in range and function. Each kind or degree of these beings performs some necessary function in the process of bringing a universal system into its full manifestation. Thus we may envision a vast collection of beings, hierarchically arranged, interdependent and interrelated, and understand that the system brought into manifestation is the product and reflection of those hierarchies. It must further be understood that each hierarchy contains within itself numerous “lower” hierarchies and is itself contained within a “higher” hierarchy, and this endlessly in either direction. This is true in regards to both our material vehicles and in regards to our consciousness. This is a very difficult idea to grasp, as it depends upon a view of consciousness that is not subject to the kind of separateness we experience as humans, where we experience my consciousness as though it is separate from that of the ocean of consciousness.

When we combine the Theosophical teachings on Cycles and Periodicity and Evolution with the above conceptions, we gain a more complete vision of the system. It is taught that every being is undergoing its own individual evolutionary process, and that all individual beings belonging to the same hierarchies undergo collective evolutionary processes as well. This is often envisioned or expressed in terms of “life waves,” i.e. large collectives of beings rolling through their evolutionary process together. The visual of a school of fish or a flock of birds or an army of ants moving together with both individual autonomy and collective movement may be a helpful analogy. This conception of “life waves” is connected with what we call the “kingdoms” of Nature, i.e. the mineral, vegetable, animal, human, etc. “kingdoms,” each of these being a distinct collective of lives undergoing evolutionary processes

These evolutionary processes occur in cyclical fashion, or rather, it is more accurate to say, in spiral or helicoidal fashion, i.e. all beings evolve together via cycles of activity and rest, but progressively. The model of seasons, where winter is followed by spring, summer, autumn and then winter again, but with forward progression, is a direct representation of this spiral process. Because of this, it is taught that all beings pass from “winter,” or a stage of rest, to “summer” or a stage of activity, and then back to a stage of rest. In doing so, there is development and evolutionary progress made. When a new “spring” arrives, the beings come out of their rest in waves according to their hierarchical arrangement, which depends upon the progress made in the previous cycle. The “highest” or most developed in any given system, come into activity first and begin the process of manifestation from the highest state of that system. Each subsequent hierarchy comes gradually into activity, in order, until all are active and working together, each performing their natural task in the collective work. This is well expressed with the analogy of engineers, architects, planners, manufacturers, builders, etc. all performing their complimentary tasks in the construction of some item.

It is important to note that this view of Hierarchies of Being and the unfolding of universal systems does not include the idea of a singular omnipresent God, but instead views the totality of Life and Reality as composed of an endless collective of beings. This view also does not include the idea of “divinely appointed” gods or angels, who were and always will be gods and angels, but instead teaches that all “gods” or “angels” became such, through long evolutionary processes. In the Theosophical view, there is no being that is not subject to evolutionary processes of some kind; there is no possibility of a completely static or unevolving being.

In regards to our relation with these hierarchies of beings, it is taught that the very principles of our nature—our bodies, minds, souls—are emanations from, or vehicles built by those very hierarchies. We ourselves, as units or “monads” are ourselves members of particular hierarchies (see “Planetary Evolution”), which, as said above, are arranged together with other hierarchies within a grander hierarchy, and so on. The “human life wave” represents a particular hierarchy which can be subdivided into several distinct sub-hierarchies. On the whole the human hierarchy is part of a grander arrangement of hierarchies belonging to our planetary and solar systems. The immense complexity of this system will become apparent as one considers the implications of these ideas.

On the “Hierarchies of Being” from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky

[Stanza 1, Sloka 3]. . . . Universal mind was not, for there were no Ah-hi (celestial beings) to contain (hence to manifest) it.

The Ah-hi (Dhyani-Chohans) are the collective hosts of spiritual beings—the Angelic Hosts of Christianity, the Elohim and “Messengers” of the Jews—who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are the Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her “laws,” while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers; but they are not “the personifications” of the powers of Nature, as erroneously thought. This hierarchy of spiritual Beings, through which the Universal Mind comes into action, is like an army—a “Host,” truly—by means of which the fighting power of a nation manifests itself, and which is composed of army corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and so forth, each with its separate individuality or life, and its limited freedom of action and limited responsibilities; each contained in a larger individuality, to which its own interests are subservient, and each containing lesser individualities in itself.—The Secret Doctrine, 1:38

[Stanza 1, Sloka 6]. The seven sublime Lords and the seven Truths had ceased to be . . .

The seven sublime lords are the Seven Creative Spirits, the Dhyāni-Chohans, who correspond to the Hebrew Elohim. It is the same hierarchy of Archangels to which St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and others belong, in the Christian theogony. Only while St. Michael, for instance, is allowed in dogmatic Latin theology to watch over all the promontories and gulfs, in the Esoteric System, the Dhyānis watch successively over one of the Rounds and the great Root-races of our planetary chain. They are, moreover, said to send their Bodhisattvas, the human correspondents of the Dhyāni-Buddhas during every Round and Race. Out of the Seven Truths and Revelations, or rather revealed secrets, four only have been handed to us, as we are still in the Fourth Round, and the world also has only had four Buddhas, so far. This is a very complicated question, and will receive more ample treatment later on.

So far “There are only Four Truths, and Four Vedas”—say the Hindus and Buddhists. For a similar reason Irenæus insisted on the necessity of Four Gospels. But as every new Root-race at the head of a Round must have its revelation and revealers, the next Round will bring the Fifth, the following the Sixth, and so on.—The Secret Doctrine, 1:42

The term Anupādaka [Aupapāduka], “parentless,” or without progenitors, is a mystical designation having several meanings in the philosophy. By this name celestial beings, the Dhyāni-Chohans or Dhyāni-Buddhas, are generally meant. . . . The “Concealed Lord” (Sangwé Dakpo [gsang ba’i bdag po]), “the one merged with the absolute,” can have no parents since he is Self-existent, and one with the Universal Spirit (Svayambhū), the Svabhāvāt in the highest aspect. The mystery in the hierarchy of the Anupādaka is great, its apex being the universal Spirit-Soul, and the lower rung the Manuṣya-Buddha; and even every Soul-endowed man is an Anupādaka in a latent state. Hence, when speaking of the Universe in its formless, eternal, or absolute condition, before it was fashioned by the “Builders”—the expression, “the Universe was Anupādaka.”—The Secret Doctrine, 1:52

[Stanza 4, Sloka 3] This was the Army of the Voicethe Divine Septenary. The sparks of the seven are subject to, and the servants of, the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and the seventh of the seven. These (“sparks”) are called spheres, triangles, cubes, lines, and modellers; for thus stands the Eternal Nidanathe Oi-Ha-Hou (the permutation of Oeaohoo).

This Sloka gives again a brief analysis of the Hierarchies of the Dhyāni-Chohans, called Devas (gods) in India, or the conscious intelligent powers in Nature. To this Hierarchy correspond the actual types into which humanity may be divided; for humanity, as a whole, is in reality a materialized though as yet imperfect expression thereof.—The Secret Doctrine, 1:93

[Stanza 5, Sloka 6] The Lipika circumscribe the triangle, the first one (the vertical line or the figure I.), the cube, the second one, and the pentacle within the egg (circle). It is the ring called “Pass not,” for those who descend and ascend (as also for those) who, during the Kalpa, are progressing toward the great day “Be with us.” . . . Thus were formed the Arupa and the Rupa (the Formless World and the World of Forms); from one light seven lights; from each of the seven, seven times seven lights. The “Wheels” watch the Ring.

The Stanza proceeds with a minute classification of the Orders of Angelic Hierarchy. From the group of Four and Seven emanates the “mind-born” group of Ten, of Twelve, of Twenty-one, etc., all these divided again into sub-groups of septenaries, novems, duodecimals, and so on, until the mind is lost in this endless enumeration of celestial hosts and Beings, each having its distinct task in the ruling of the visible Kosmos during its existence.

The esoteric meaning of the first sentence of the Sloka is, that those who have been called Lipikas, the Recorders of the Karmic ledger, make an impassible barrier between the personal Ego and the impersonal Self, the Noumenon and Parent-Source of the former. Hence the allegory. They circumscribe the manifested world of matter within the Ring “Pass-Not.” This world is the symbol (objective) of the One divided into the many, on the planes of Illusion, of Adi (the “First”) or of Eka (the “One”); and this One is the collective aggregate, or totality, of the principal Creators or Architects of this visible universe. . . .

The Spirits referred to, therefore, as those who “ascend and descend” are the “Hosts” of what we loosely call “celestial Beings.” But they are, in fact, nothing of the kind. They are Entities of the higher worlds in the hierarchy of Being, so immeasurably high that, to us, they must appear as Gods, and collectively—God. But so we, mortal men, must appear to the ant, which reasons on the scale of its special capacities. The ant may also, for all we know, see the avenging finger of a personal God in the hand of the urchin who, in one moment, under the impulse of mischief, destroys its anthill, the labour of many weeks—long years in the chronology of insects. The ant, feeling it acutely, and attributing the undeserved calamity to a combination of Providence and sin, may also, like man, see in it the result of the sin of its first parent. Who knows and who can affirm or deny? The refusal to admit in the whole Solar system of any other reasonable and intellectual beings on the human plane, than ourselves, is the greatest conceit of our age. All that science has a right to affirm, is that there are no invisible Intelligences living under the same conditions as we do. It cannot deny point-blank the possibility of there being worlds within worlds, under totally different conditions to those that constitute the nature of our world; nor can it deny that there may be a certain limited communication between some of those worlds and our own. To the highest, we are taught, belong the seven orders of the purely divine Spirits; to the six lower ones belong hierarchies that can occasionally be seen and heard by men, and who do communicate with their progeny of the Earth; which progeny is indissolubly linked with them, each principle in man having its direct source in the nature of those great Beings, who furnish us with the respective invisible elements in us. . . .

The Secret Doctrine, 1:129-133

The question will surely be asked, “Do the Occultists believe in all these ‘Builders,’ ‘Lipika,’ and ‘Sons of Light’ as Entities, or are they merely imageries?” To this the answer is given as plainly: “After due allowance for the imagery of personified Powers, we must admit the existence of these Entities, if we would not reject the existence of spiritual humanity within physical mankind. For the hosts of these Sons of Light and ‘Mind-born Sons’ of the first manifested Ray of the Unknown All, are the very root of spiritual man.” . . .

The Doctrine teaches that, in order to become a divine, fully conscious god,—aye, even the highest—the Spiritual primeval Intelligences must pass through the human stage. And when we say human, this does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, i.e., to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit, as we have now, since the middle point of the Fourth Root Race of the Fourth Round was passed. Each Entity must have won for itself the right of becoming divine, through self-experience.—The Secret Doctrine, 1:106

Q. With reference to sloka 6, where it speaks of the “Seven Lords,” since confusion is apt to arise as to the correct application of the terms, what is the distinction between Dhyani-Chohans, Planetary Spirits, Builders and Dhyani-Buddhas?

A. As an additional two volumes of the Secret Doctrine would be required to explain all the Hierarchies; therefore, much relating to them has been omitted from the Stanzas and Commentaries. A short definition may, however, be tried. Dhyan-Chohan is a generic term for all Devas, or celestial beings. A Planetary Spirit is a Ruler of a planet, a kind of finite or personal god. There is a marked difference, however, between the Rulers of the Sacred Planets and the Rulers of a small “chain” of worlds like our own. . . .

. . .

Q. Then do the Planetary Spirits of the Seven Sacred Planets belong to another hierarchy than to that of the earth?

A. Evidently; since the terrestrial spirit of the earth is not of a very high grade. It must be remembered that the planetary spirit has nothing to do with the spiritual man, but with things of matter and cosmic beings. The gods and rulers of our Earth are cosmic Rulers; that is to say, they form into shape and fashion cosmic matter, for which they were called Cosmocratores. They never had any concern with spirit; the Dhyani-Buddhas, belonging to quite a different hierarchy, are especially concerned with the latter.

Q. These seven Planetary Spirits have therefore nothing really to do with the earth except incidentally?

A. On the contrary, the “Planetary”—who are not the Dhyani-Buddhas—have everything to do with the earth, physically and morally. It is they who rule its destinies and the fate of men. They are Karmic agencies.

Q. Have they anything to do with the fifth principle—the higher Manas?

A. No: they have no concern with the three higher principles; they have, however, something to do with the fourth. To recapitulate, therefore; the term “Dhyani-Chohan” is a generic name for all celestial beings. The “Dhyani-Buddhas” are concerned with the human higher triad in a mysterious way that need not be explained here. The “Builders” are a class called, as I already explained, Cosmocratores, or the invisible but intelligent Masons, who fashion matter according to the ideal plan ready for them in that which we call Divine and Cosmic Ideation. They were called by the early Masons the “Grand Architect of the Universe” collectively: but now the modern Masons make of their G.A.O.T.U. a personal and singular Deity.

Q. Are they not also Planetary Spirits?

A. In a sense they are—as the Earth is also a Planet—but of a lower order.

Q. Do they act under the guidance of the Terrestrial Planetary Spirit?

A. I have just said that they were collectively that Spirit themselves. I wish you to understand that they are not an Entity, a kind of a personal God, but Forces of nature acting under one immutable Law, on the nature of which it is certainly useless for us to speculate.

Q. But are there not Builders of Universes, and Builders of Systems, as there are Builders of our earth?

A. Assuredly there are.

Q. Then the terrestrial Builders are a Planetary “Spirit” like the rest of them, only inferior in kind?

A. I would certainly say so.

Q. Are they inferior according to the size of the planet or inferior in quality?

A. The latter, as we are taught. You see the ancients lacked our modern, and especially theological, conceit, which makes of this little speck of mud of ours something ineffably grander than any of the stars and planets known to us. If, for instance, Esoteric Philosophy teaches that the “Spirit” (collectively again) of Jupiter is far superior to the Terrestrial Spirit, it is not because Jupiter is so many times larger than our earth, but because its substance and texture are so much finer than, and superior to, that of the earth. And it is in proportion to this quality that the Hierarchies of respective “Planetary Builders” reflect and act upon the ideations they find planned for them in the Universal Consciousness, the real great Architect of the Universe.

Q. The Soul of the World, or “Anima Mundi”?

A. Call it so, if you like. It is the Antitype of these Hierarchies, which are its differentiated types. The one impersonal Great Architect of the Universe is Mahat, the Universal Mind. And Mahat is a symbol, an abstraction, an aspect which assumed a hazy, entitative form in the all-materializing conceptions of man.

Q. What is the real difference between the Dhyani-Buddhas in the orthodox and the esoteric conceptions?

A. A very great one philosophically. They are—as higher Devas—called by the Buddhists, Bôdhisattvas. Exoterically they are five in number, whereas in the esoteric schools they are seven, and not single Entities but Hierarchies. It is stated in the Secret Doctrine that five Buddhas have come and that two are to come in the sixth and seventh races. Exoterically their president is Vajrasattva, the “Supreme Intelligence” or “Supreme Buddha,” but more transcendent still is Vajradhara, even as Parabrahm transcends Brahmâ or Mahat. Thus the exoteric and occult significations of the Dhyani-Buddhas are entirely different. Exoterically each is a trinity, three in one, all three manifesting simultaneously in three worlds—as a human Buddha on earth, a Dhyani-Buddha in the world of astral forms, and an arupa, or formless, Buddha in the highest Nirvanic realm. Thus for a human Buddha, an incarnation of one of these Dhyanis, the stay on earth is limited from seven to seven thousand years in various bodies, since as men they are subjected to normal conditions, accidents and death. In Esoteric philosophy, on the other hand, this means that only five out of the “Seven Dhyani-Buddhas”—or, rather, the Seven Hierarchies of these Dhyanis, who, in Buddhist mysticism, are identical with the higher incarnating Intelligences, or the Kumâras of the Hindus—five only have hitherto appeared on earth in regular succession of incarnations, the last two having to come during the sixth and seventh Root-Races. This is, again, semi-allegorical, if not entirely so. For the sixth and seven Hierarchies have been already incarnated on this earth together with the rest. But as they have reached “Buddhaship,” so called, almost from the beginning of the fourth Root-Race, they are said to rest since then in conscious bliss and freedom till the beginning of the Seventh Round, when they will lead Humanity as a new race of Buddhas. These Dhyanis are connected only with Humanity, and, strictly speaking, only with the highest “principles” of men.

Q. Do the Dhyani-Buddhas and the Planetary Spirits in charge of the globes go into pralaya when their planets enter that state?

A. Only at the end of the seventh Round, and not between each round, for they have to watch over the working of the laws during these minor pralayas. Fuller details on this subject have already been written in the third volume of the Secret Doctrine. But all these differences in fact are merely functional, for they are all aspects of one and the same Essence.

Q. Does the hierarchy of Dhyanis, whose province it is to watch over a Round, watch during its period of activity, over the whole series of globes, or only over a particular globe?

A. There are incarnating and there are watching Dhyanis. Of the functions of the former you have just been told; the latter appear to do their work in this wise. Every class or hierarchy corresponds to one of the Rounds, the first and lowest hierarchy to the first and less developed Round, the second to the second, and so on till the seventh Round is reached, which is under the supervision of the highest Hierarchy of the Seven Dhyanis. At the last, they will appear on earth, as also will some of the Planetary, for the whole humanity will have become Bodhisattvas, their own “sons,” i.e., the “Sons” of their own Spirit and Essence or—themselves. Thus there is only a functional difference between the Dhyanis and the Planetary. The one are entirely divine, the other sidereal. The former only are called Anupadaka, parentless, because they radiated directly from that which is neither Father nor Mother but the unmanifested Logos. They are, in fact, the spiritual aspect of the seven Logoi; and the Planetary Spirits are in their totality, as the seven Sephiroth (the three higher being supercosmic abstractions and blinds in the Kabala), and constitute the Heavenly man, or Adam Kadmon; Dhyani is a generic name in Buddhism, an abbreviation for all the gods. Yet it must be ever remembered that though they are “gods,” still they are not to be worshipped.

Q. Why not, if they are gods?

A. Because Eastern philosophy rejects the idea of a personal and extra-cosmic deity. And to those who call this atheism, I would say the following. It is illogical to worship one such god, for, as said in the Bible, “There be Lords many and Gods many.” Therefore, if worship is desirable, we have to choose either the worship of many gods, each being no better or less limited than the other, viz., polytheism and idolatry, or choose, as the Israelites have done, one tribal or racial god from among them, and while believing in the existence of many gods, ignore and show contempt for the others, regarding our own as the highest and the “God of Gods.” But this is logically unwarrantable, for such a god can be neither infinite nor absolute, but must be finite, that is to say, limited and conditioned by space and time. With the Pralaya the tribal god disappears, and Brahmâ and all the other Devas, and the gods are merged into the Absolute. Therefore, occultists do not worship or offer prayers to them, because if we did, we should have either to worship many gods, or pray to the Absolute, which, having no attributes, can have no ears to hear us. The worshipper even of many gods must of necessity be unjust to all the other gods; however far he extends his worship it is simply impossible for him to worship each severally; and in his ignorance, if he choose out any one in particular, he may by no means select the most perfect. Therefore, he would do better far to remember that every man has a god within, a direct ray from the Absolute, the celestial ray from the One; that he has his “god” within, not outside, of himself.

Q. Is there any name that can be applied to the planetary Hierarchy or spirit, which watches over the entire evolution of our own globe, such as Brahmâ for instance?

A. None, except the generic name, since it is a septenary and a Hierarchy; unless, indeed, we call it as some Kabalists do—“the Spirit of the Earth.”

Q. It is very difficult to remember all these infinite Hierarchies of gods.

A. Not more so than to a chemist to remember the endless symbols of chemistry, if he is a Specialist. In India, alone, however, there are over 300 millions of gods and goddesses. The Manus and Rishis are also planetary gods, for they are said to have appeared at the beginning of the human races to watch over their evolution, and to have incarnated and descended on earth subsequently in order to teach mankind. Then, there are the Sapta Rishis, the “Seven Rishis,” said exoterically to reside in the constellation of the Great Bear. There are also planetary gods.

Q. Are they higher than Brahmâ?

A. It depends in what aspect one views Brahmâ. In esoteric philosophy he is the synthesis of the seven logoi. In exoteric theology he is an aspect of Vishnu with the Vaishnevas, with others something else, as in the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity, he is the chief creator, whereas Vishnu is the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer. In the Kabala he is certainly Adam Kadmon—the “male-female” man of the first chapter of Genesis. For the Manus proceed from Brahmâ as the Sephiroth proceed from Adam Kadmon, and they are also seven and ten, as circumstances require.

Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, p. 46-54

[Stanza 7, Sloka 1]Behold the beginning of sentient formless life (a). First, the divine (vehicle) (b), the one from the mother-spirit (Atman); then the Spiritual(Atma-Buddhi, Spirit-soul) [This relates to the Cosmic principles] (c); (again) the three from the one (d), the four from the one (e), and the five (f), from which the three, the five and the seven (g)—these are the three-fold and the four-fold downward; the “mind-born sons of the first Lord (Avalôkitêswara) the Shining Seven (the “Builders”)It is they who are thou, me, him, O Lanoo; they who watch over thee and thy mother, Bhumi (the Earth).

(a) The hierarchy of Creative Powers is divided into seven (or 4 and 3) esoteric, within the twelve great Orders, recorded in the twelve signs of the Zodiac; the seven of the manifesting scale being connected, moreover, with the Seven Planets. All this is subdivided into numberless groups of divine Spiritual, semi-Spiritual, and ethereal Beings.

The Chief Hierarchies among these are hinted at in the great Quaternary, or the “four bodies and the three faculties” of Brahmâ exoterically, and the Panchâsyam, the five Brahmâs, or the five Dhyani-Buddhas in the Buddhist system.

The highest group is composed of the divine Flames, so-called, also spoken of as the “Fiery Lions” and the “Lions of Life,” whose esotericism is securely hidden in the Zodiacal sign of Leo. It is the nucleole of the superior divine World. They are the formless Fiery Breaths, identical in one aspect with the upper Sephirothal Triad, which is placed by the Kabalists in the “Archetypal World.”

. . .

(b) . . . At this divine flame, The “One,” are lit the three descending groups. Having their potential being in the higher group, they now become distinct and separate Entities. These are called the “Virgins of Life,” the “Great Illusion,” etc., etc., and collectively the “Six-pointed Star.” The latter is the symbol, in almost every religion, of the Logos as the first emanation. It is that of Vishnu in India (the Chakra, or wheel), and the glyph of the Tetragrammaton, the “He of the four letters” or—metaphorically—“the limbs of Microprosopos” in the Kabala, which are ten and six respectively. . . . The six-pointed Star refers to the six Forces or Powers of Nature, the six planes, principles, etc., etc., all synthesized by the seventh, or the central point in the Star. All these, the upper and lower hierarchies included, emanate from the “Heavenly or Celestial Virgin,” the great mother in all religions, the Androgyne, the Sephira-Adam-Kadmon. In its Unity, primordial light is the seventh, or highest, principle, Daivi-prakriti, the light of the unmanifested Logos. But in its differentiation it becomes Fohat, or the “Seven Sons.” . . . Hence the expressions:

The first after the ‘One’ is divine Fire; the second, Fire and Æther; the third is composed of Fire, Æther and Water; the fourth of Fire, Æther, Water, and Air.” The One is not concerned with Man-bearing globes, but with the inner invisible Spheres. “The ‘First-Born’ are the Lifethe heart and pulse of the Universe; the Second are its Mind or Consciousness,” as said in the Commentary.

(c) The second Order of Celestial Beings, those of Fire and Æther (corresponding to Spirit and Soul, or the Atma-Buddhi) whose names are legion, are still formless, but more definitely “substantial.” They are the first differentiation in the Secondary Evolution or “Creation”—a misleading word. As the name shows, they are the prototypes of the incarnating Jivas or Monads, and are composed of the Fiery Spirit of Life. It is through these that passes, like a pure solar beam, the ray which is furnished by them with its future vehicle, the Divine Soul, Buddhi. These are directly concerned with the Hosts of the higher world of our system. From these twofold Units emanate the threefold.

. . .

(d) The Third order corresponds to the Atma-Buddhi-Manas: Spirit, Soul and Intellect, and is called the “Triads.”

(e) The Fourth are substantial Entities. This is the highest group among the Rupas (Atomic Forms). It is the nursery of the human, conscious, spiritual Souls. They are called the “Imperishable Jivas,” and constitute, through the order below their own, the first group of the first septenary host—the great mystery of human conscious and intellectual Being. . . .

(f) The Fifth group is a very mysterious one, as it is connected with the Microcosmic Pentagon, the five-pointed star representing man. In India and Egypt these Dhyanis were connected with the Crocodile, and their abode is in Capricornus. These are convertible terms in Indian astrology, as this (tenth) sign of the Zodiac is called Makara, loosely translated “crocodile.” The word itself is occultly interpreted in various ways . . . In Egypt the defunct man—whose symbol is the pentagram or the five-pointed star, the points of which represent the limbs of a man—was shown emblematically transformed into a crocodile: Sebakh or Sevekh “or seventh,” as Mr. Gerald Massey says, showing it as having been the type of intelligence, is a dragon in reality, not a crocodile. He is the “Dragon of Wisdom” or Manas, the “Human Soul,” Mind, the Intelligent principle, called in our esoteric philosophy the “Fifth” principle.

. . .

The fifth group of the celestial Beings is supposed to contain in itself the dual attributes of both the spiritual and physical aspects of the Universe; the two poles, so to say, of Mahat, the Universal Intelligence, and the dual nature of man, the spiritual and the physical. Hence its number Five, multiplied and made into ten, connecting it with Makara, the 10th sign of Zodiac.

(g) The sixth and seventh groups partake of the lower qualities of the Quaternary. They are conscious, ethereal Entities, as invisible as Ether, which are shot out like the boughs of a tree from the first central group of the four, and shoot out in their turn numberless side groups, the lower of which are the Nature-Spirits, or Elementals of countless kinds and varieties; from the formless and unsubstantial—the ideal thoughts of their creators—down to the Atomic, though, to human perception, invisible organisms. The latter are considered as the “Spirits of Atoms” for they are the first remove (backwards) from the physical Atom—sentient, if not intelligent creatures. They are all subject to Karma, and have to work it out through every cycle.

For, as the doctrine teaches, there are no such privileged beings in the universe, whether in our or in other systems, in the outer or the inner worlds, as the angels of the Western Religion and the Judean. A Dhyan Chohan has to become one; he cannot be born or appear suddenly on the plane of life as a full-blown angel. The Celestial Hierarchy of the present Manvantara will find itself transferred in the next cycle of life into higher, superior worlds, and will make room for a new hierarchy, composed of the elect ones of our mankind. Being is an endless cycle within the one absolute eternity, wherein move numberless inner cycles finite and conditioned. . . . Therefore the “Four” and the “Three” have to incarnate as all other beings have. This sixth group, moreover, remains almost inseparable from man, who draws from it all but his highest and lowest principles, or his spirit and body, the five middle human principles being the very essence of those Dhyanis.

Alone, the Divine Ray (the Atman) proceeds directly from the One. When asked how that can be? How is it possible to conceive that those “gods,” or angels, can be at the same time their own emanations and their personal selves? Is it in the same sense in the material world, where the son is (in one way) his father, being his blood, the bone of his bone and the flesh of his flesh? To this the teachers answer “Verily it is so.” But one has to go deep into the mystery of being before one can fully comprehend this truth.

The Secret Doctrine, 1:218-222

Explain, or complete the teaching of the seven Suns with the seven systems of planes of being, of which the “Suns” are the central bodies, and you have the seven angelic planes, whose “Host” are gods thereof, collectively. They are the Head-group divided into four classes from the incorporeal down to the semi-corporeal, which classes are directly connected—though in very different ways as regards voluntary connection and functions—with our mankind. They are three, synthesized by the fourth (the first and highest), which is called the “Central Sun” in the Kabalistic doctrine . . . This is the great difference between the Semitic and the Aryan Cosmogony; one materializing, humanizes the mysteries of nature; the other spiritualizes matter, and its physiology is always made subservient to metaphysics. Thus, though the seventh principle reaches man through all the phases of being, pure as an indiscrete element and an impersonal unity, it passes through (the Kabala teaches from) the Central Spiritual Sun and Group the second (the polar Sun), which two radiate on man his Atma. Group Three (the equatorial Sun) cement the Buddhi to Atman and the higher attributes of Manas, while group Four (the spirit of our visible sun) endows him with his Manas and its vehicle—the Kama rupa, or body of passions and desires, the two elements of Ahamkara which evolve individualized consciousness—the personal ego. Finally, it is the spirit of the Earth in its triple unity that builds the physical body, attracting to it the Spirits of Life and forming his Linga Sarira.—The Secret Doctrine, 2:240-41

The teachings on the Hierarchies of Being is one of the most complex in all of Theosophy. For further details, see Volume 1 of The Secret Doctrine.

Selected Writings on Hierarchies of Being