Progress of Invertebrate Life
WHEN the environment radically changes, most life forms must also radically alter
either their structure or their habits or perish. It will be indicated in subsequent
lessons how marked weather changes brought the extinction of numberless forms,
and the kind of radical changes some made in order to adapt themselves sufficiently
to the new condition to be able to survive. When previously arid regions became
deluged with rain, their vegetation had to acquire new characteristics to prosper, and
when previously well watered regions became arid, not only did plants have to
change their structure to gain and preserve the scant moisture, but creatures whose
young were hatched in the water and developed through the tadpole period had to so
change that their young reached a land inhabiting stage without living their youth in
In a previously calm region, when climatic changes developed powerful winds, both
plants and animals, to survive, had to develop protection against such gales. When
glaciers came down from the north and the previously warm weather became
intensely cold, some animal forms developed feathers from scales, and others
developed fur; and the young, to protect them from such inclemencies were either not
born in the previously immature condition, or the eggs and young were protected by
nests until the offspring had matured enough to be able to adapt themselves to the
food and temperature conditions brought about by the severe weather.
Wind and falling water and the cold which causes the moisture in its capillaries and
crevices to freeze and crack open or flake off pieces of rock, have cut canyons
thousands of feet deep in the earth’s crust and have leveled giant mountain chains.
These facts are familiar to all. But there is now good evidence that the inner plane
weather, consisting of astrological energies, is fully as powerful to inaugurate
changes in the rocks, and in life forms, as is the outer plane weather. Even though
they are not aware it is influencing them, Church of Light research has proved that
inanimate objects and other life forms as well as man are powerfully thus influenced.
A machine built at one time will not last as long as a machine built at a more favorable
astrological time. Crops, as many farmers have learned through experience, even
though planted when the outer plane weather is favorable, will not thrive and produce
so well if planted when the inner plane weather is adverse as when planted while
inner plane weather is more suitable.
So far as our research has gone we have found that progressed aspects affect animals
in the same manner they affect men, due allowance being made for the normal level
of the animal. It is not to be expected that an insect whose normal life span is only a
few days will respond other than to progressed positions within those few days. And
just how they so respond is yet to be ascertained by timing their births and calculating
the aspects which subsequently form. But we have had ample opportunity to observe
in cats, horses and dogs that on their level progressed aspects influence their lives as
they do human beings.
A lady in San Francisco who raised show dogs kept a record of each puppy born,
erected its birthchart and observed its progressed aspects. These charts were sent to
us for our opinion. If one of her dogs had a good tenth house it had a good chance of
winning a prize at the dog shows, and she found that this was almost certain to occur
if it had a harmonious progressed aspect to the ruler of the tenth at the time of the
show. The same kind of chart and progressions that belonging to a politician would
insure he would win an election, if it belonged to one of her dogs would equally
insure he would get a prize at the dog show.
Another gentleman in Montana used astrology in raising and training race horses. He
learned to tell when the colt was first born what its prospects were, whether it would
be subject to accident, and if it were worth training as a racer. And he could tell by its
progressed aspects at the time of a given race whether the horse would get a good
break, or whether he would have to overcome fortuitous obstacles in order to win.
The writer has watched the response of both cats and dogs to progressed aspects. The
chart of his present dog with the dates of all important events that have entered his life
during more than ten years is given above, together with the significant major
progressed aspects coincident with them. Due to lack of space the minor progressed
aspects and transit progressed aspects are not there given; but anyone who wishes to
calculate them will find that exactly as in a human horoscope, each of these major
progressed aspects is reinforced by a minor progressed aspect, and released by a
transit progressed aspect, within one degree of perfect at the time the event occurred.
Life must adapt itself to both inner plane and outer plane weather or perish. And the
survival of the fittest is a factor in organic evolution. But as subsequently will be
indicated, such progress is not in some haphazard direction. Every outdoor naturalist
I have ever met has been convinced there is a Super Intelligence permeating and
broadly directing all the processes of nature. Such direction is not that of whim or
prejudice, but always according to well defined laws. And one of the outstanding
laws is that the pressure of the inner plane weather and the outer plane weather is such
that the overall progress made by life–even though innumerable forms do move up
blind alleys and become extinct, and others finding satisfactory adaptation
stagnate–is toward filling in the universal plan formulated in the mind of Deity.
Plants as well as animals and men have, in some degree extrasensory perception, and
psychokinetic power (lesson No. 40). And in response to their desire to live and find
an adequate food supply they have made many remarkable and intelligent variations.
Our stone crops, for instance, finding competition unusually strenuous on fertile
ground, gradually moved into rocky regions where other plants did not grow. In such
ground moisture is retained but a short time. Therefore, to meet this condition the
stone crop greatly thickened its leaves, so as to make a reservoir for holding the
moisture and thus tiding it over dry weather. The various species of cacti, finding a
desert environment developing around them, likewise thickened their leaves as
water reservoirs. In addition they had to combat a scorching sun and numerous
herbivorous animals, made voracious because other vegetation, always scanty,
failed to grow during the long dry seasons. To meet the scorching rays of the sun they
caused the outer cells of their leaves to harden, thus coating each leafy reservoir with
horn like insulation against the evaporation of its water. To protect themselves from
greedy animals many of their leaf parts were made slender and hard, so that their
leaves were covered with thorns.
Botanists recognize the leaf as the basic form of all the organs of higher plants.
However diverse in form and function a plant organ may be–bud, thorn, flower part,
bulb, or fruit–it is but a modification of leaves. In the calyx of the peony, for
instance, the sepals, while largely green like any other leaf, have a fringe of color,
indicating the process of transformation. This change of leaf into petal has not been
completed in the snowflake; for here we find the petal of the flower white, except the
very tip, which is yet green like the leaf. In the begonia, also certain of the stamens
often revert to their original leaf form; and in the water lily the stamens and petals
grade into each other with such slight variations that it is easy to trace all the steps of
enlargement, broadening and coloring, by which the leaf like stamen becomes the
beautiful petal. Thorns and the stings of nettles are also mere modifications of leaf
structure in answer to the intense desire of the soul of the plant to be protected from its
numerous enemies. And even as the most delicate rose, or the most gorgeous orchid,
results from modifications of leaves, so every animal on the face of the earth is but the
result of modification of simple single celled protozoa.
Plants growing like the water lily, where there was little competition for sunlight,
developed broad leaves. Those growing where there was much competition for
sunlight, like our grasses, developed narrow leaves that were able to profit by
whatever gleam of light filtered through the surrounding vegetation. We find, in fact,
much the same tactics employed by plants that are employed by animals for the same
purpose. Plants produce poisonous and evil smelling secretions to ward off enemies,
much as do certain ants and beetles among insects, and as does the skunk among
mammals. Some plants also are carnivorous. The sundews, the butterworts, the
bladderworts, the Venus fly trap, and the pitcher plants–one of which grows in the
mountains of California–all trap and assimilate insects.
In the Venus fly trap there is a rounded blade. On the upper surface of each half of this
blade are three prominent bristles, and around the margin a row of stiff thorn like
teeth. When an insect touches one of the bristles there is an electrical charge in the
plant similar to that taking place in an animal when it contracts a muscle, and the two
halves of the blade clap together the marginal thorns interlocking like the teeth of a
rat trap. Then a digestive fluid is secreted and the insect so caught is digested and
assimilated, after which the blade opens for another capture. It may be cheated by
using a little piece of moist paper to take the place of an insect, but after twice closing
on worthless material in rapid succession it usually will refuse to be duped a third
time. It modifies its actions because there is memory of a previous experience.
It would be interesting to write a large volume citing the marvelous methods plants
use to overcome the difficulties that have confronted them. It must suffice here,
however, to say that every plant form and method of life holds the story of its
endeavor to overcome certain limitations placed upon it by environment. The
deciphering of these plant romances and adventures, as well as those of insects and
other animals, has been my chief and pleasantest avocation for more than half a
century, but they cannot be related here.
–Living matter is always associated with protoplasm. Protoplasm is an essential
ingredient both of animals and of vegetables. Where, then, is the line of demarcation
between them, and what were the incentives that produced the first animal?
As I have pointed out in lesson No. 126 there is no clear cut line between them; some
animals, such as the protozoan Luglena, are provided with chlorophyll, and others,
such as the ascidians, possess cellulose; both of which commonly are considered
strictly plant features. Animals live upon organic matter, and in some stage of life
possess the power of locomotion. Yet among plants the fungi live upon organic
matter; and many algae, such as the diatoms, and the spores of the cryptograms, have
the power of locomotion. To be sure, the male sexual element of most plants has the
power of locomotion well developed.
In general, the source of food supply and the power of locomotion tend to distinguish
animals from plants. Plants, with the exception of those that feed upon material
already organized, possess the green coloring matter chlorophyll, by which, in the
presence of sunlight, they are able to capture carbon, their chief food supply, from the
atmosphere. Animals, on the other hand, are not capable of living upon inorganic
matter. Their chief food supply is the organic matter stored up by plants. Animals
also feed upon other animals. In fact, sea creatures form a chain from the smallest to
the largest, the smaller in turn being devoured by the larger. But the original food
supply sustaining the smallest, and hence the whole chain, is vegetable or bacterial in
To obtain a vegetable food supply, either the plants must be brought to the animal or
the animal must go to the plants. Water tends to bring the food supply of certain
creatures, such as the sponges, yet even these usually have developed the power of
producing the current of water which brings their food. But more often, to get an
adequate food supply, the animal must go to its food. This necessitates locomotion.
We can hardly conceive of animals living before plants or bacteria, but so soon as
these came into existence there was an available food supply, and it is probable that it
was not long before there were animals developed to take advantage of it. In fact, it is
even possible that animals developed before plants, as many of the protozoa feed
freely upon bacteria, and today thus exert a limiting influence upon bacterial activity.
The urge to secure a food supply–the drive for nutrition–is a fundamental impulse
common to all life. And this intense desire ever tends through psychokinesis to adapt
the structure to the end of better securing its food. When a new condition arises the
soul through extrasensory perception is dimly aware of its plight and feels the desire
successfully to meet the new condition. Psychokinesis endeavors to provide the way,
but subjective intelligence makes many mistakes. It is not reason, but the primitive
working of psychokinesis based on imperfect perception and the memory of
previous experiences, which may have been largely astral, stored in the astral form.
But desire changes the astral form and this in turn through psychokinesis changes the
form and attributes of the physical structure. Thus we may conceive of a single
primitive cell of living matter, stimulated by desire for food, departing from the
custom of seeking nourishment from the inorganic matter and appropriating the food
already secured by its neighbor. This then proved so successful an expedient that the
cell adopted it, and when it divided to form two cells, each new cell continued the
But this method, to prove permanently successful, requires that the cell be able
to move from place to place in search of other cells to devour. This desire actively to
seek a food supply, through psychokinesis brought about a change in the physical
structure that gave greater mobility and finally resulted in a cell having the power to
move about ingesting less favored forms of life. Such was the primitive protozoan.
The protozoa not only were the first animals on earth, but persist today as the most
abundant aquatic animals. Millions of them swarm in almost every drop of water.
Not all of them are so small, however, for they range from those microscopic forms
just mentioned up to a gigantic species two thirds of an inch in length found as a
parasite in the intestines of lobsters. They are all single celled creatures.
Animal life is divided by naturalists into twelve great groups, or phyla.
Unfortunately, knowledge of animal life is So greatly confined to the very few that
there are no vernacular names for most of the great groups of animals living today.
This is true with even greater force of extinct animals, of which I shall speak in
treating of mammals. Consequently, while I desire to avoid technical names, I must
be pardoned for occasionally using them in these lessons, because there are no other
terms by which a great number of interesting creatures may be designated.
PHYLUM I, the Protozoa: These are infinite in the variety of their forms. The
typical protozoa is the amoebae (page 68), which is abundant at the bottom of fresh
water ponds and among decaying water vegetation. It is a microscopic mass of jelly
like protoplasm containing a nucleus. It moves by changing the outline of its body,
pushing out and withdrawing portions of the jelly like mass to produce a flowing
effect. Its food consists of minute animals or plants or other bits of organic matter.
When it touches such a morsel it gradually flows around and over it until the latter is
quite surrounded. The protoplasm surrounding the food particle then secretes an acid
which kills the prey and forms the soluble peptones or digestive ferment necessary
for digestion. When the digestible portion of the food has been assimilated, the
undigested particles are left behind as the amoebae flows on.
Such a simple organism is removed from certain primitive single celled plants only
by a slight modification, for we must remember that some of these plants have the
power of locomotion. Certain plants also feed upon organic matter. The protozoa,
therefore, but utilize in a somewhat greater degree of coordination, two principles
that also are used by plant forms. We may assume that the frothy chemical compound
called protoplasm found it more expedient in the case of the protozoa to flow slowly
about feedings on particles of life that had been already organized than to remain in
one place and endeavor to transform inorganic elements into food value.
Yet because of its minuteness and simplicity of structure we should not hastily scorn
the simple cell. The single celled protozoa have an infinite variety of modifications,
and the cells that make up the body of both plants and animals are not widely
dissimilar to these. Were it not, for instance, for the amoebae like cells in the human
blood, man would soon succumb to infectious diseases. The white corpuscles of the
human blood often are called amoeboid corpuscles, because to all intents and
purposes they are amoebae cells belonging to the human organism that are fostered
by it as soldiers to guard it against invading germs. The amoeboid corpuscles, when
minute organisms of various kinds invade the human system, act toward them as the
ordinary amoebae act toward their prey. They pursue them and flow over them,
engulfing them in their protoplasm. They are then digested and portions not
assimilated are carried by the blood stream to parts of the body where they may easily
be expelled. It is only when microbes multiply to such an extent that they so
outnumber the amoeboid blood cells that these cannot kill and devour them that such
diseases prove fatal.
I have mentioned in lesson No. 126 that certain algae devised the expedient of
secreting lime. Other early plants–such as the microscopic ones called diatoms,
closely related to algae and supposed to be the source of the oil in Southern California
oil fields–adopted the expedient of secreting a skeleton of silica. So we need not be
surprised that early one celled animals also should secrete hard parts to protect
themselves from other predatory one celled animals. Certain of the protozoa, called
foraminifera, secrete a shell, or external skeleton, of lime. There are foraminifera
also that secrete a covering of chitin. Chitin is the horny substance forming the outer
coat of insects and the crayfish group. Others of the protozoa secrete an external
skeleton of silica. We see, therefore, that among the very primitive single celled
organisms of both plants and animals there existed not merely the power of nutrition
and reproduction, but also the power to secrete substances that were not protoplasm.
This is very important to us; for man’s body, like all organic forms, is built up by cells.
The skin and viscera, in fact, consist of cells. But the bones and muscles are chiefly
the secretory products of cell activity which continues to renew and nourish them.
To a single celled animal living in the water a better mode of locomotion than mere
oozing along would prove exceedingly valuable. So in those called flagellates,
mentioned in lesson No. 126, which are on the borderline between plants and
animals, we find the cell secreting one or two hair like lashes which carry them along
swiftly by beating the water.
A certain amount of protection is afforded by a thin membrane enclosing a cell.
Consequently, in a somewhat more developed form of protozoa, called the ciliated
infusoria, such a membrane is secreted and the hair like lashes which are used
somewhat similar to oars are numerous. Also, as the containing membrane does not
permit food to enter, there is an aperture in it, and in some forms, such as sedentary
verticella, there are long lashes around this aperture that cause a whirlpool in the
water and so bring the food down into the animal.
I have now mentioned members of three classes of protozoa. The phylum consists of
four classes, each containing innumerable species. The fourth class developed more
recently. Its members are parasitic, and unlike more ancient protozoa, they
reproduce by means of spores. Each spore contains one or more minute germ. These
germs and the animals they produce are the scourges of humanity, causing malaria,
sleeping sickness, and a multitude of other dread diseases.
The ordinary protozoa and the cells of higher animals multiply by simple division.
The particle of protoplasm contracts from two opposite sides, getting thinner and
thinner in the middle until at last the connection is severed. In this process of division
the nucleus of the cell always is divided, half of it going to form the nucleus of each
new cell. When the two halves of the cell exist separately they gather food until both
nucleus and its surrounding cytoplasm in each attain to normal size. The cells of the
higher animals, including man, multiply in the same way as a primitive
protozoan–by the mother cell dividing into two daughter cells–except that the
cells of the protozoan go separate ways, and the cells of higher animals remain
Always, to explain the processes of higher animal life, we are compelled to return to
the primitive protozoan, the first animal on earth; for in it we can perceive all the
attributes and functions, in their simplest form, that we witness in the highest animal.
But for the moment let us leave the protozoan and his single cell of living protoplasm
and observe the formation of the first animal of more numerous cells.
–Some of the flagellates are considered the ancestors of brown algae, which are
plants, and some are classified as protozoa. It is believed that a certain flagellate
protozoan, on reproducing, instead of sending the daughter cells to some distant
place, held them attached to the mother until there was a tiny plate like colony of
sixteen cells. These sixteen cells, each like a single celled animal, also each
discharged all the vital functions. Yet because such an aggregation has certain
advantages it was continued, and it came about whenever any one of the colonial
cells reproduced by simply dividing, that the new cell went by itself, but dividing still
further until it also produced a colony of sixteen cells. Such a sixteen celled colonial
animal is the Gonium, and another whose colony tends to spherical form instead of
being flat is the Pandorina. Both at the present day are common in fresh water.
Colonial life affording certain advantages, as time passed there came into being, in
response to psychokinetic power, not merely sixteen celled colonies, but colonies
composed of a great number of cells. With the enlargement of the colony it became
increasingly difficult for every individual cell in it to perform all the functions of life.
Already in certain protozoa, where the front differed in shape from the rear, when it
divided to form two, each half was compelled to reproduce features that it did not
possess. This ability of the soul thus had been acquired before the development of
As pointed out in lesson No. 126, in addition to the drive to express itself more fully,
the two great primitive desires of all life are the desire for food and the desire for
reproduction. In a colonial organism both functions will be performed more
successfully if certain members of the colony specialize in securing and assimilating
food, and certain other members specialize in bringing into the world offspring. Such
a division of labor for the first time, in so far as living forms are concerned, takes
place in the Volvox. It is a hollow spherical colony of several thousand cells in a
single external layer held together by gelatinous material and fine protoplasmic
In the Volvox there are two kinds of cells. The one kind, called somatic cells, perform
the functions of nutrition and locomotion. The other kind, called germ cells, perform
the function of reproduction. The germ cells, through division, are able to form not
only other germ cells, but also somatic cells, and thus when separated from their
parent build up a new organism. This primitive division of labor also holds in the
higher animals and in man. The ovum, which is a germ cell, always consists of a
This divides into two daughter cells, and these into four, these into eight,
sixteen, and finally into a cluster which arrange themselves into two strata forming a
sack. From this stage, which has already progressed further than the Volvox, the
forming organism passes through those stages of development parallel to still higher
forms of life to be considered later; some of the cells secreting muscular tissue, some
secreting the skeleton, some the nerve tissue, until the complete animal is present.
But in the Volvox there is still another division of labor, for the germ cells provide
two kinds of sex cells, one male and one female. In the union of cells for the purpose
of reproduction two things are essential; that the cells shall find each other, and that
the resulting offspring shall be supplied with nourishment. To insure their union the
male cells are very numerous, and as economy of material is advantageous, they are
very small. In order that they may find the female cell they have the power of
locomotion well developed. This locomotion, even in the higher animals, including
man, is provided for by lashes similar to those of the flagellate protozoa. In fact, the
sperm of higher animals has many points in common with the flagellates.
That the offspring may be provided with nutriment, the female germ cell specializes,
not in movement, but in storing food. Consequently it is much larger than the male
germ cell, as is markedly the case in the domestic fowl; for the yolk of a hen’s egg,
while still inside the hen and before fertilization sets up cell division, is but a single
Contrary to popular conception, the sexual union of cells is not primarily to enable
reproduction to take place, and originally had nothing to do with reproduction.
Naturalists hold that its purpose is to enable the qualities of both parents to be
inherited by the offspring, and Hermetic Initiates believe it further serves the purpose
During the sexual union of two protozoa there is an exchange of chromosomes
(lesson 167). When they separate the nucleus of each animal contains half of the
chromosomes of the other and half of its own. This insures, then, when each cell
divides in future. that the offspring shall, like the parents after fusion, contain the
qualities of both. It also provides for another important attribute; for protozoa that
from time to time enter into union continue to live and reproduce. or at least live and
thus have opportunity for reproducing, while those that fail to do so die. Unless they
meet with violent ends, protozoa that have the opportunity for union do not grow old
and die. It might be well, therefore, for certain ascetic cults that herald from the
housetops that union save for the rare purpose of reproduction is a crime, to pause and
consider the biological fact, as stated by our best scientists, that the only animals on
earth that are physically immortal can and do reproduce without union, but that union
is absolutely essential to their physical immortality.
PHYLUM II, the Porifera: They embrace the sponges. The cells usually are
arranged in the form of a hollow attached vase through the walls of which are many
canals, or pores. This small vase, instead of being composed of a single layer of cells
like the Volvox, is composed of three layers held together. Division of labor has here
progressed further, with compensating advantages; for the cells of the inner layer
have little hair like lashes. In fact, they greatly resemble the flagellate protozoa. They
lash the water, causing a current to flow through the canals, and also take in and
digest the food thus brought to them. The middle layer of cells helps with digestion,
and also secretes the hard framework. And even as some protozoa secrete lime, some
silica, and some chitin, so there are sponges whose framework consists of each of
these substances. The sponge of commerce is the chitin skeleton secreted by a whole
colony of sponges. Such a colony held firmly together by a framework has the
advantage of protection from enemies that would readily swallow and digest
PHYLUM III, the Coelenterata: These embrace the hydroids, the jellyfishes, and
the corals. The individuals commonly are called polyps. The body is a sack, in the
center of which is another sack, an arrangement that facilitates digestion. Around this
sack other membranes radiate. These radial members are usually tentacles, which
assist in procuring food, and often assist in protection. The sea anemones, so
common on rocky beaches near Los Angeles, are stationary polyps. Reef corals have
the ability to secrete a skeleton of lime, which is securely fastened to the skeleton of
their ancestors, making it difficult for their enemies to dislodge them. They are
minute in size, but almost infinite in number. The reef, which is largely composed of
their skeletons, rises at the rate of half an inch in ten years. The red, or pink, coral
ruled by Venus, thought by the ancients to be a sure protection against evil influences
when worn, is secreted by a coral called Corallina rubrum. The jellyfishes, which are
colonial organisms, have developed the power of locomotion, which is an obvious
advantage, and also in addition to feeding tentacles have others armed with stinging
cells, such as are present in the Portuguese man of war, common in southern waters.
In both digestion and defense the Coelenterata have made a distinct advance over the
PHYLUM IV, the Platyhelminthes: These embrace the flat worms. The flat worms
are numerous on the land and in both fresh water and sea water, many kinds being
parasitic. They are the first animals to have a right and left side and the first to have a
front end which, although possessing no head, is carried forward. They have
developed sense organs that enable them both to see and hear somewhat, which is a
great advance over lower forms both in securing food and in escaping enemies.
PHYLUM V, the Nemathelminthes: These embrace the round worms. These worms
are cylindrical in shape, and have a decided advantage over the flat worms in
possessing a body cavity, which is a great aid in the digestion and assimilation of
food. This valuable feature of an intestinal. canal, however, often is lost when the
species become a parasite.
PHYLUM VI, the Trochelminthes: These embrace the wheel worms, the rotifers or
wheel animacules, of minute and various shapes. Some swim by means of hair like
bands which resemble revolving wheels. They are rather more complex in structure,
and in this respect have made an advance over the animals so far mentioned. Yet their
general features were not of sufficient value to be adopted by life as it developed
PHYLUM VII, the Molluscoidea: These embrace the Bryozoa, lamp shells and sea
mosses. Such animals live in the water, the Bryozoa being a colonial form greatly
resembling plants, common on our rocky beaches. They have various ingenious
adaptations, and possess a well developed digestive canal. Typical of this group is
the lamp shell, abundant off the coast of Maine, and to be found near Los Angeles.
The animal secretes a shell of two valves, which it opens and closes by muscular
action. There is a mouth, and a groove bounded by little tentacles to guide the food to
it. There is an esophagus and a stomach, and a stomach gland for performing
digestion. The blood is colorless, and although there is no heart, contains corpuscles.
It seems to be the precursor of the true mollusks, and has made an advance over lower
forms in the matter of digestion and circulation.
PHYLUM VIII, the Echinodermata: These embrace the star fishes, the sea urchins,
sea cucumbers, etc. They all live in the sea and are built on a symmetrical radiate plan
such as gives the star fish its name. They have an outside skeleton, usually protected
by numerous spines. They also have a great number of tube like feet ending in
suckers, by which they move, and in the case of the star fish by which they open the
shells of their prey. There is a blood system, a nervous system, and also a water
vascular system peculiar to themselves. This group is exceedingly well adapted to
the environment in which it lives. They have not developed from any of the four
groups of worms, but undoubtedly are superior modifications from Phylum III, the
Coelenterata. Their chief advance over lower forms is the possession of a superior
stomach and digestive system, and a superior circulatory system.
PHYLUM IX, the Annulata: These embrace the worms. There are a great many
species of these, and they have made unusually important advances over any forms
previously considered. Their bodies are elongated, and composed of ring like
divisions, each segment containing a separate and similar set of internal organs.
There is also a blood system. Our common earth worm is a typical example. The
sense organs of sight and hearing are more developed than in lower forms, and more
important still, there is a nervous system having distinct ganglia, the first and largest
ganglion being a part of the head. This, of course, foreshadows a brain, and is the
most important advance over lower forms. The nerve chain is supported by a bundle
of fibres which run along with it, and both are enclosed in a common sheath of
connective tissue. The highly developed nervous system is advantageous in enabling
a ready response to be made to environment, and some naturalists believe the
sheathed nerve chain, which lies in relation to other organs as does the vertebrae in
higher animals, which is also segmented, is the ancestor of the true vertebrate
PHYLUM X, the Arthropoda: These embrace the crayfish group, the thousand
legged worms, the spiders and the insects. They are animals possessing an elongated
and transversely segmented body, with muscles attached to the inside of an external
skeleton. This is quite the reverse from still higher animals, which have an internal
skeleton about which the muscles are attached. Some of the body segments bear
appendages, such as legs or wings, which are moved by muscles. The external
skeleton is composed of chitin, a substance which certain protozoa also secrete. This
hard outside skeleton prevents increase in size, hence growth occurs through
shedding, or moulting, the chitin. There is a heart in most species, and a well
developed circulatory system, as well as a suitable breathing apparatus. There is a
mouth, intestinal canal, a brain, and a nervous system. The heart and brain are notable
advances over lower life forms.
The crustaceans, such as the shrimp, crayfish and crab, which live in the water and
breathe by means of gills are included in this group. It is probable as soon as plants
moved out of the water in the Middle Ordovician period although the earliest so far
found is the Psilophyton, a little plant about a foot high without leaves from the
Devonian period which commenced about 350 million years ago that such animals
as quickly followed this food supply found gills insufficient to supply them with the
necessary oxygen for life. No doubt numerous experiments were tried through
psychokinesis before this inner plane power devised the expedient of having a
system of tubes, called trachea, that with their microscopic branches permeate the
whole body, air entering these tubes by external openings called spiracles. This
system of breathing, because air reaches all organs and parts of the body, is in many
respects superior to the lung breathing of vertebrate animals. It conduces to great
activity, and is the system used by spiders and insects.
Insects have been unusually successful, 250,000 forms now being known with the
tropics yet largely to be explored. They have made use of every available position in
nature, have developed colors to protect themselves by concealment, have developed
offensive weapons such as the sting of the hornet, and of still greater importance,
because facilitating locomotion, is the common feature of wings. The most primitive
insects, such as the spring tails, have no wings. Instead, at the end of the body are two
elongated prongs which are bent under the abdomen and when pressed down form a
lever by which the insect jumps. Such leaps, still further amplified in the flea and
grasshopper, were undoubtedly steps leading to the development of true flight.
As but a single instance of the wonderful extrasensory intelligence displayed by
insects, let us consider the wasp. The various digger wasps, in need of a food supply
for their young, capture other insects with which they fill their burrows and on which
they lay their eggs. Meat after being killed does not keep indefinitely, so these wasps,
anticipating cold storage, devised a method by which their young might be provided
with fresh meat as soon as hatched. They sting their prey in such a way as to reach the
main nerve and paralyze the creature without killing it. The wasps of the genus
Ammophilia have even gone beyond this and have arrived at the tool making stage of
progress. After the burrow has been completed the female wasp fills it with paralyzed
caterpillars and then packs earth over the opening, using a stone as a tamping iron (p.
21, The Insect Book, by Dr. Leland O. Howard) to pack this earth down. Later she
visits the spot occasionally to see if all is well and to place disguising objects where
they will conceal it. Such provision is taken for the young, even though in many cases
the parents die before the young hatch out.
Instances of insect intelligence could be multiplied indefinitely. Ants, for example,
keep slaves. They also keep the equivalent of cows, which they manage with great
sagacity. These are aphides and in California the scale from which by stroking they
get a sweet secretion. Some ants are excellent farmers, not only keeping plants not
desired for their seeds from growing, but as in the case of the leaf cutting ant, actually
cultivating in prepared beds a species of fungus which is their sole food supply, and
which must have been cultivated by them for an immense period of time, as it has
never been found in the wild uncultivated state.
But of the various wonders of insect life none is more difficult to understand than the
metamorphosis. Certainly the ability of the soul to live in and function through an
inner plane form after the dissolution of the physical is no more amazing. Primitive
insects do not experience this change but hatch as miniature adults. More advanced
insects show only a partial metamorphosis, the change from the larval stage being
made by a series of moults that do not prevent feeding. But in the higher forms the
insect hatches from the egg as a larva, which feeds voraciously and grows rapidly.
Then comes the pupal stage in which there is no external activity, the insect being in a
trance or comatose condition. While in this trance state the tissues are broken down
and form a homogeneous fluid underneath the external skeleton of the insect. It thus
precisely resembles the ectoplasm (lesson No. 45) which emanates from a medium
during materialization. This ectoplasm has been proved to be composed of organic
substance drawn from the medium and sitters. At first it is plastic and without
structure. but may materialize into a form of actual flesh and blood.
The caterpillar in its trance condition not only dissolves to a structureless plastic
fluid, but this fluid is reconstructed along entirely different lines into a creature
having almost no resemblance to its former self. Undoubtedly the ectoplasm from a
human medium is organized by an intelligent agent employing the medium’s astral
body through which to exercise psychokinetic power. And it is equally certain that
the soul of the insect acts through its astral form, in which its own and inherited
experiences reside, in a similar manner.
PHYLUM XI, the Mollusca: These embrace the mollusks such as the clam, oyster,
mussel, snail and octopus. In fact, it includes all the sea shells commonly found along
the ocean beach as well as the slugs and snails found crawling in our gardens. The
bodies are bilaterally symmetrical, unsegmented, and enclose a sack like fold or
mantle, which usually secretes the external skeleton, or shell. They are mostly able to
crawl, swim, and burrow. They have a head, possessing a mouth and other
appendages, with organs of special sense. Respiration is by means of gills. Quite
interesting has been the discovery, through the study of embryology, that the young
greatly resemble segmented worms, and in their growth show the steps by which the
mollusks developed from such annulata. There is a good digestive system and a liver,
which is an important advance. But as marking a still more important advance over
previously mentioned forms is the development of a three chambered heart, and
blood which in some species is red. This gives vigor of movement, which is a great
PHYLUM XII, the Chordata: These embrace the vertebrate animals; those
possessing a backbone and those that show the presence of a primitive backbone at
some stage of development. The main advance of this group, which includes all the
higher animals, lies in the development of a second body cavity which houses a
central nervous system; the spinal cord and brain.
Physical life has ascended from a single celled ancestor. One may observe closely the
steps by which all present day plant structures are but the result of leaf modification.
And a detailed study of the functions of present day animals is convincing that the
animals now on earth developed from a single primitive cell. From the standpoint of
religion this is an important finding, one replete with hope and assurance.
If man is a special creation, put here by an arbitrary Deity, there may be a hell to be
dreaded, and a heaven which as usually described would be so monotonous that
extinction would be preferable. But as all evidence goes to show that the soul
actuated by the drive for sustenance, the drive for reproduction, and the drive for
more ample expression, has developed a lowly single cell into higher animals and
man, the possibilities of still further progress on the inner plane seem infinite.