Perhaps the supreme example of a thought-form is that known in the Christian Church as the Angel of the Presence. This is not a member of the kingdom of the Angels, but a thought-form of the Christ, wearing His likeness and being an extension of the consciousness of the Christ Himself. It is by means of the Angel of the Presence that is made the change in the “elements” known as transubstantiation.
A similar phenomenon occurs, though at a less high level, in Masonic Lodges where a portrait of the H.O.A.T.F. is used. So fully is this thought-form a part of Himself that the Lodge has the benefit of His presence and His blessing just as though He stood there in physical form. It is possible, by an exertion of will-power, instantly to dissipate an artificial elemental, or thought-form, just as it is possible on the physical plane to kill a poisonous snake in order that it may do no further harm. Neither course of action, however, would commend itself to an occultist except in very unusual circumstances.
In order to make clear the reason of this, some little explanation regarding the elemental essence is necessary. Elemental essence, out of which a thought-form is constructed is, as we have already seen, evolving on its own account, i.e.,, it is learning to vibrate at all possible rates. When therefore, a thought holds it for a time vibrating at a certain rate, it is helped to this extent, so that next time a similar vibration strikes it, it will respond more readily than before. Whether the thought ensouling it is evil or good makes no difference whatever to the essence; all that is required for its development is to be used by thought of some kind.
The difference between the good and the evil in the world be shown by the quality of essence which was affected, an evil thought or desire needing for its expression the coarser matter, a higher thought or desire requiring finer matter. Thus by degrees, mental elemental essence is being evolved, through the action on it of the thoughts of men, nature spirits, devas, and even animals so far as they do think. For this reason, therefore, i.e.,, lest he should in any way impede its evolution, the occultist avoids when possible the destruction of an artificial elemental, preferring rather to defend himself or others against it by using the protection of a shell.
The student should not, of course, imagine it is his duty to think coarse thoughts in order to help the evolution of the coarser types of essence. There are plenty of undeveloped people always thinking the coarser, lower thoughts; the occultist should strive ever to think high and pure thoughts and thus aid the evolution of the finer elemental matter, thus working in a field where there are as yet few labourers.
Before leaving this subject of thought-forms we should note that every sound makes its impression upon astral and mental matter -not only what we call musical sounds, but every kind of sound. The thought-form edifice built up on the higher planes during the celebration of the Christian Eucharist, differs somewhat from ordinary thought-forms, though it has much in common with forms created by music. It consists of a higher plane structure composed of the materials provided by the priest and his congregation during the earlier part of the service at the etheric, astral and mental levels, matter of still higher levels being introduced in the later portion of the service, chiefly from the Angelic host.
The thought-edifice may be compared to the condenser in a plant for the distillation of water. The steam is cooled and condensed into water in the cooling chamber. Similarly, the eucharistic edifice provides a vehicle for the collection and condensation of the materials provided by the worshippers, into which an especial outpouring of the divine force from the very highest levels may descend, and which may enable the Angel-helpers to use that force for certain definite purposes in the physical world.
The ceremonies of all great religions aim at producing such results by some sort of common action. The ceremonies of Freemasonry attain a similar object, though in a different way. The thought-form built up by a Masonic ceremony is the real “celestial canopy” which may also be regarded as the aura of a man lying on his back. This symbolism appears elsewhere as, for example, in Joseph’s coat of many colours, in the Robe of Glory which the initiate puts on, and also in the Augoeides of the Greek Philosophers, the glorified body in which the soul of man dwells in the subtle invisible world.
***From Arthur E. Powell – The Mental Body