The Endocrine chain and bodily equilibrium
The seven glands—ductless and otherwise—with which occultism is primarily concerned, are the pineal gland, the pituitary body, the thymus, the liver, the spleen, and the suprarenal capsules, or adrenals. These little understood bodies, at least some of which were given consideration in ancient times but were more or less ignored during the Dark Ages, have now come to be recognized as the “dictators of our destiny.” Enthusiastic endocrinologists are now of the opinion that not only the harmony of the “bodily league” but also the higher aspects of man’s functioning —his morals, emotions, and thoughts, his personality, individuality, and temperament— are to a great degree a matter of endocrines. Not Dr. Johnson’s drop of green bile, but the glands are what put empires at hazard. Napoleon’s own pituitary—and not the Duke of Wellington —brought down the eagle of the First Empire. Apropos of this, ponder the words of Samuel Wyllis Bandler: “If the world, in the near future, administers to its diplomats, to its highest officials, to its legislators, to its people the proper endocrines, especially anterior pituitary, and inhibit the adrenal cortex a little bit, there may be no more wars.”
The opinions of occultism relative to the significance of the pineal gland are treated of in detail in the section devoted to that subject. Therefore, at this point only a few general matters will be considered. “It is almost with a shudder,” writes Dr. Fred E. Wynne, “that one recalls the legend of the Cyclops! Was this tradition based on some monstrosity, perhaps some race afflicted with a hideous atavism; human in form, gigantic in stature, blundering about the earth with the undeveloped brain and the pineal eye of the invertebrate? Fortunately, there is only Homer’s imagination to suggest such a nightmare, so horrible a declension from the ordered progress of evolution.” (See Ductless and Other Glands.) We fear that the good Doctor’s optimism is unfounded. Unfortunately, blind Homer is not the only narrator of “giants”—one-eyed or otherwise. Monsters that would have driven endocrinologists to distraction are recorded in the early writings of nearly all civilized nations. A sarcophagus of giants was found in the year 1858 on the site of the ancient City of Carthage. Philostratus, an old pagan writer, wrote of a skeleton 22 cubits long and another of 12 cubits, both seen by himself. The Abbe Pegues, in The Volcanoes of Greece, declares that “in the neighborhood of the volcanoes of the isle of Thera, giants with enormous skulls were found laid out under colossal stones.” (See The Secret Doctrine.) Since the development of the recent revolutionary theories concerning glands, science is faced with a many-horned dilemma. No longer is anything improbable in the ancient accounts of “monsters.” The probability of an unsynchronized activity of the glands during the first ages of human life lends credence to the long ridiculed “fables” of the elder historians. It might be both interesting and illuminating for men of scientific bent to reconstruct man as he was before retrograde evolution set in in so many parts of the endocrine chain. There is a fair measure of probability that the result of their labors would prove astonishingly similar to the descriptions of the men of the pre-Adamite races which have descended to us in occult tradition.
Early in the twentieth century a boy was brought to the clinic of the great German neurologist, Von Hochwert, whose condition stirred up all manner of speculation. Apparently this was a normal boy twelve or thirteen years of age. But his parents declared that he was only five years old, and later these statements were confirmed absolutely. A few months before, this boy had begun to grow rapidly… “His intellectual development also—the things which he talked about and what he appeared to think about, indicated the thoughts and speculations of maturity. His voice was deep and he had long since ceased to play with the toys of childhood. Yet he was only five years old.” A few weeks after his admission to the clinic, the child died and the autopsy revealed that he had been suffering from a tumor of the pineal gland. “There is also reason to believe that the pineal gland has something to do with the development of intellect.” (See How We Become Personalities by Edward Huntington Williams, M. D.) Does not this statement substantiate the esoteric doctrine that the pineal gland “is the chief and foremost organ of spirituality in the human brain, the seat of genius”? (E. S. Ins.) The derangement due to the tumor of this gland resulted in a premature maturity. Is it not amazing that the malfunctioning of this tiny organ alone should metamorphose a child into an adult; and is it not amazing still that a part of the body so potent should be regarded as a mere vestige of a rudimentary eye? This single example—without other corroborative evidence, which, however, is abundant—is sufficient to link this gland with the whole field of intellectual development. It is noteworthy that the diseased state of the gland not only resulted in bodily maturity but that the mind also increased. The tumor prevented the gland from controlling the flow of Manas, and certainly demonstrates the accuracy of the occult contention that the pineal body is the link between the field of man’s subjective intellect and his objective thought. The pituitary body (hypophysis cerebri) is a small ovoid, somewhat flattened vascular mass which rests in the sella turcica of the sphenoid bone, and is connected with the third ventricle of the brain by the infundibulum. The sella turcica is described as “a skull within a skull,” and one author has noted that Nature must have regarded the pituitary body as of vital importance, for no other part of the body has received such protection. The gland consists of two very clearly marked lobes separated by fibrous lamina. The anterior is the largest and is somewhat oblong and concave behind (kidney-shaped), and receives into its concavity the smaller and rounder posterior lobe. According to Gray, the anterior lobe “is developed from the ectoderm of the buccal cavity, and resembles to a considerable extent, in microscopic structure, the thyroid body.” The closed vesicles of the pituitary body, “lined with columnar epithelium (in part ciliated), contain a viscid, jelly-like material (pituita), which suggested the old name for the body.”
“The posterior lobe,” continues Gray, “is developed by an outgrowth from the embryonic brain, and during foetal life contains a cavity which communicates through the infundibulum with the cavity of the third ventricle.” It is believed that the pituitary plays an important part in the hibernation of animals “The anterior portion is especially concerned with the growth of the frame, of muscle and development of the brain. The posterior portion is closely concerned with the development of the sexual organs, of special muscular structures, and of certain features of the process called ‘metabolism.”
It has been noted that the pituitary body contains an internal secretion which seems to stimulate the growth of connective tissue and play an essential part in sexual development. We know also that the pituitary, if over active, produces giantism and has a peculiar affinity to the bones and muscles. A subnormal supply of pituitrin produces a general bodily deterioration, reaching in its effects even to the hair and teeth. Among the blessings bestowed by a healthy pituitary are good blood pressure, healthy sex tone, initiative, zest for study, work, sustained interest in occupation, and endurance of youth. Herman H. Rubin, M. D., also comments upon the relationship between this gland and the sensory perceptions, the vitality and the transformation of energy into forms necessary for the bodily maintenance.
The pituitary, which has been called the gland of persistent effort, was apparently known to the initiated priests of antiquity, who associated it with the feminine aspect in symbolism. It stood as the yoni in its relationship to the pineal gland, which was the primitive phallus. In the legends of the Egyptian Isis, the Hindu Radha, and the Christian Virgin Mary the functions of this gland are intimated. The pituitary body is the “barometer” of the whole ductless gland chain, the first to reveal disorder in the endocrine system. In the Egyptian Mysteries, the pituitary body was the initiator, for as we shall see, it “raised the candidate”—the pineal gland. In the Egyptain mythos, Isis in her aspect as the pituitary body conjures Ra, the supreme deity of the sun, (here symbolic of the pineal gland) to disclose his sacred name—the word of power—which he is finally forced to do. In certain East Indian metaphysical systems the pituitary body is called manas- antaskarana, “the bridge of mind.”
When stimulated by the disciplines of occult philosophy, the pituitary body begins to glow with a faint roseate hue. Little rippling rings of light emanate from it to gradually fade out a short distance from the gland itself. If the stimulation be continued, the emanating rings about the gland grow stronger and a distinct pulse beat is apparent in the flow of the forces. The emanations are not equally distributed, the circles gradually elongating into elliptics, with the body of the gland at the small end. The elliptic extends back from the gland on the side adjacent to the third ventricle and reaches out in graceful parabolas to the pineal gland. As the stream of force becomes more powerful, the luminosity lights the interior of the ventricles, approaching ever closer to the slumbering eye of Shiva. At last tingeing the form of the gland itself with a golden red light, it gently coaxes the pineal gland into animation. Under the benign warmth and radiance of the pituitary fire, the “divine eye” thrills, flickers, and finally opens. Madame Blavatsky thus describes the process: “The arc (of the Pituitary Gland) mounts upward more and more toward the Pineal Gland, until finally the current, striking it, just as when the electric current strikes some solid object, the dormant organ is awakened and set all aglowing with the Akasic Fire. This is the psycho-physiological illustration of two organs on the physical plane, which are the concrete symbols of and represent respectively, the metaphysical concepts called Manas and Buddhi. The latter, in order to be conscious on this plane, needs the more differentiated fire of Manas: but once the sixth sense has awakened the seventh, the light which radiates from it illuminates the fields of infinitude; for a brief space of time, man becomes omniscient; the Past and the Future, Space and Time, disappear and become for him the present.”
The thyroid gland, now dignified as the “keystone of the endocrine arch,” is a horseshoe-shaped body placed in the throat just below the Adam’s apple. It has two lateral lobes, one on each side of the windpipe, connected below by a transverse portion called the isthmus. In giving its description, one author says that it is at the base of the neck, astride the windpipe. It is roughly H-shaped, with the cross-bar of the H representing the isthmus, or transverse connecting piece. It is very difficult to give the size or dimensions of the gland, but its length may be regarded as from two to three inches and its average weight about an ounce. The gland is larger and heavier in the female than in the male, and decreases in size with advancing years. Atrophy is especially noticeable in the pyramidal lobes. “Its first appearance,” writes Dr. Fred E. Wynne, “is in extremely primitive organisms known as ‘protochordates’ “—the first creatures to possess gill clefts, a central nervous system, and a rudimentary backbone. The thyroid gland “still goes on producing the mucous materials used by our far back protochordate ancestor for entangling food particles; though the substance is no longer, owing to the disappearance of the duct, discharged into the pharynx.”
It is believed that in the lower forms of life the thyroid was a sex gland and was a link between the sex glands and the brain—the lower quaternary and the higher triad respectively in the human body. “The thyroid,” writes Dr. M. W. Kapp, “is the gland that produces land animals and is very important in the evolution of forms, and also progression. The feeding of a thyroid to a Newt transforms it into a salamander—a land breathing animal.” The thyroid is occasionally referred to as the vanity gland, because functional disorders in it have a tendency to produce disproportion in the parts of the body and destroy the pleasing aspects of the personality. The thyroid has received more attention than the other glands because of the frequency of Goitre and the unsightliness ofthis affliction. This gland has a tendency to “regulate the speed of living,” and as it loses tone, the appearances of age manifest themselves in all parts of the body. Located, as it is, in what Plato calls the isthmus between the body and the head, the thyroid is the mediator between the emotions and the thoughts, and the common denominator of the animal and intellectual life.
The thymus gland is a small body of glandular tissue of very soft consistency, described as roughly pyramidal in shape and situated behind the upper part of the sternum, or breastbone. At the time of its greatest development, which is during the adolescent period, the gland may reach a length of two inches and a weight of about one and one- quarter ounces. From this time on, the gland normally undergoes a retrogression. The thymic tissue is replaced by fat, so that in an adult the gland contains largely adipose tissue. “Riddle claims that the thymus lost its value for man and mammals when their ancestors began to incubate their eggs within their body and ceased laying them, as do birds and reptiles, with albumen and shells. That was the original function of the thymus. Pigeons whose thymus has been removed lay eggs without shells; but if fed thymus, will lay normal eggs with shells. * * And thank the thymus because its secretions made it possible for our reptilian ancestor to invent an egg that could evolve into a human ovum.”
The thymus has been called the gland of precocity. It dominates the growth of the child up to the time of puberty. It has also been named the gland of eternal youth, for its failure to retrogress at the proper time inhibits the maturing of the body. When thymus is fed to a tadpole, it remains a tadpole and does not metamorphose into a frog. In Our Fear Complexes by Williams and Hoag, it is stated that out of twenty executed criminals, “all had persistent thymus glands.” If the thymus remains dominant, it has a tendency to prevent the normal differentiation of sex expression, resulting in the problem of “intermediate” types. The alarming increase of this equation in our social system warrants profound consideration of the part played by the ductless glands in the social life of man. “Complete absence of the thymus has been found in a large percentage of cases of idiocy, in which a post-mortem examination has been made. In one series of 400 cases there was no thymus in 75 per cent.”
The liver is the largest gland in the body. It weighs approximately three and one- half pounds, is from ten to twelve inches in length, and occupies a great part of the right half of the cage, or basket, formed by the ribs below the diaphragm. The position of the liver varies somewhat with the ascent or descent of the diaphragm. In deep inspiration, the liver descends below the ribs, as also when the intestines are empty. But when the breath is expired, or when the intestines are distended, it is pushed upward. The liver is divided into a right and left lobe, of which the right is much the larger, the proportion being about six to one. Occultism affirms the seat of the kama-rupa, or desire body, to be in the greater lobe or vortex of the liver. There are also minor divisions of this gland which increase the number of the lobes to five. As a ductless gland, its most important function is in connection with the nitrogenous and carbohydrate metabolism. Modern science views the liver as both a storehouse and a “clearing-house” of the body. Three hundred years ago, Burton called it “the shop of humours,” declaring that melancholy could be caused by a chill in the liver.
There is a distinct correspondence between the liver and the cerebellum, both of which are seats of kama. Like the liver, the cerebellum is both the storehouse and clearing-house for the brain. “The liver and stomach,” writes H. P. Blavatsky, “are the correspondences of kama in the trunk of the body, and with these must be classed the navel and the generative organs. The liver is closely connected with the spleen, as is kama with the etheric double, and both these have a share in generating the blood. The liver is the general, the spleen, the aide-de-camp. All that the liver does not accomplish is taken up and completed by the spleen.” In the symbolism of the early Christians, the piercing of the liver of Christ by the spear of the centurion, Longinus, is identical in meaning with the story of Prometheus and the vulture set to devour his liver by the unrelenting Zeus. As the seat of the animal nature, the liver is the origin of those impulses which must torment man throughout the ages until through wisdom he can release himself from the “Garden of Desire.”
The spleen is an oblong flattened mass, its form varying considerably in different individuals. It may be described as mushroom-shaped and is placed on the left side of the body opposite the liver, under the diaphragm and below the median line of the stomach. In the adult, the spleen is about five inches in length, from three to four inches in width but only about one and one-half inches in thickness, and weighs about seven ounces. “The structure of the spleen,” writes Dr. Fred E. Wynne, “and its relations with the blood- vascular system clearly suggested that its function is the manufacture and renewal of the cellular elements of the blood and the elimination of wornout elements. There is no doubt that this is its principal, if not its only, duty, a duty which is shared probably by the lymphatic glands and other lymphatic structures including the red-bone marrow.” (See Ductless and Other Glands.) The umbrella-like surface of the spleen is but the outer vestment of an invisible organ intimately concerned with the distribution of the solar force throughout the parts of the body. “The vital force,” writes Max Heindel, the Rosicrucian mystic, “is absorbed by the vital body through the etheric counterpart of the spleen, wherein it undergoes a curious transformation of color. It becomes pale rose hued and spreads along the nerves all over the dense body. It is to the nervous system what the force of electricity is to the telegraph system.” The same author identifies the spleen as the origin of the ectoplasm which, oozing from the vital body of the medium, is used in the materialization of discarnate intelligences.
This conforms with the opinion of H. P. Blavatsky, who sees in the spleen a correspondence with the etheric double which, according to her, “lies curled up” therein.
“As the ethereal body is the reservoir of life for the body, the medium and vehicle of Prana, the spleen acts as the center of Prana in the body, from which the life is pumped out and circulated. It is consequently a very delicate organ, though the physical spleen is only a cover for the real spleen.” (See The Secret Doctrine, Vol. III.)
The suprarenal glands (the adrenals) are bodies roughly triangular in shape, slightly concave, and sit, much like little cocked hats, upon the tops of the kidneys. In different individuals these glands vary greatly in size. The average is about one and one-half inches in length, somewhat less in width, and weighing about half an ounce. The left suprarenal is usually larger than the right and somewhat semilunar in form. In various forms of malformation, giantism, etc., the adrenals are usually oversized. The vital significance of these glands becomes apparent when we realize that their removal at any stage of life inevitably results in death. “During the long evolutionary rise to power of the human race the adrenals were man’s bulwark in the survival of the fittest.” (Dr. Herman H. Rubin.) The suprarenals are very closely connected with the sympathetic nervous system and “Gaskell has advanced the interesting hypothesis that these bodies, including the cells of the suprarenal medulla, were phylo-genetically once a part of the sympathetic nervous system.” (See article by D. R. Hooker, M. D., in Glandular Therapy.) The blood and nerve supply to the adrenals is abundant and their internal secretions are of great importance to the circulatory and muscular systems.
The adrenals wreck vengeance upon those who harbor unhealthy mental or emotional reactions. They are glands of “cash” karma for temperamental excess. They prove beyond all doubt that normalcy of attitude is indispensable to health. “Our jealousies, hates, fears, struggles for wealth, power, position, lusts, and our superstitions all call upon the reserve supply of adrenal secretion—the fighting or energizing secretion — until the glands are exhausted and we wonder why so many die of heart disease (over heart action), Bright’s disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer, and other diseases of diminished resistance.” (See Our Glands and our Environment by Dr. M. W. Kapp.) The adrenals are called the “fighters” of the endocrine system and, conversely, they not only bestow courage but also fear. The temperamental equilibrium of the individual is a definite help to the balance of the adrenals, and the normal functioning of these glands is reflected, in turn, in the optimism, generosity, and kindliness of the disposition. The adrenals are friendly to the pituitary and both exert a marked influence upon the brain and the sexual system.
From the fragmentary records available and the unfortunate confusion growing out of the use of arbitrary terminologies, it is somewhat difficult to concisely express the views of occultism regarding the nature and purpose of the ductless glands. Being unquestionably the “Governors” or “Directors” of the physical body, these glands are the physical counterparts of the vital organs of one of man’s superphysical vehicles. Occult students have raised a point with respect to the meaning of the words “Vital Body” and “Etheric Double.” From their descriptions, they cannot be considered identical. The Vital Body (or, more correctly, the Vital Principle) is associated with Prana, or the sun, and probably should be considered a force such as electricity rather than as a vehicle. Prana is Jiva, or the Universal Life after it has been differentiated throughout the human body. In her Esoteric Instructions, Madame Blavatsky states definitely that “the Linga Sharira is the vehicle of Prana,” and in her Key to Theosophy, she identifies the Linga Sharira with the Astral Body and calls it the “phantom body” and also the “Double,” by which the “Etheric Double” is certainly implied. She also calls the Linga Sharira the permanent seed for the physical body. The Linga Sharira is properly under the control of the moon, being so to speak, the reflector of Prana (the sun). Some occultists declare the whole glandular system to be under the control of the sun, by which is to be inferred that these glands are centers for the distribution of Prana, or the specialized solar force. Others maintain the glandular system to be under the domination of the moon, since it is true that in medical astrology glandular unbalance is more prevalent in those nativities in which the moon is afflicted or in which the water signs are prominent. Of course, if the Linga Sharira, or Etheric Double, be accepted as a vehicle of Prana, then we have the lunar agent (the humid Linga Sharira) as the carrier of the solar force (Prana) which would be in harmony with the old Egyptian teachings. Certainly the glands represent vortices in the departments of the vital force, and the physical structure of the glands might well partake of the Linga Sharira and the agent which they distribute partake of Prana. Thus, the body of the glands would be under the control of the moon and the agent which moves through them be under the control of the sun.
Efforts to establish the planetary correspondences to the glands have not proved entirely satisfactory. Indefiniteness and ambiguity among the older writers complicate the situation. Again, each organ containing, as it does, all other organs, results in an unsuspected diffusion of vital principles. For instance, “the real ‘liver’,” writes Paracelsus, “is to be found in all parts of the body,” and only its head is in that organ which science calls the liver. Since the discovery of Neptune, that planet has been assigned the rulership of the pineal gland, but the peculiar workings of this minute body cause it to assume at various times the attributes of several planets. Under certain conditions, it is definitely Mercurial and was symbolized by both the planet and the element in alchemical writings. In early Theosophical literature, its positive and negative aspects have also been represented by Venus and Mercury respectively, and in the figures of some mediaeval mystics, the sign of Jupiter is inscribed over the place of the third eye. Nor were the Hermetists inconsistent in concealing the mystery of this gland under the figure of the sun. Thus it would seem that any dogmatic statement would hardly be appropriate.
The pituitary body shares a similar plethora of correspondences. Since the advent of Uranus into the solar family, this planet has enjoyed a preferential choice as the ruler of this gland. The moon was assigned thereto by the ancients, the “Hermetic Marriage” being the union of the sun (pineal gland) and the moon (pituitary body) in the brain. Those with a flair for riddles may find it profitable to ponder the adage that the sun rules by day and the moon by night, especially when it is intimated that the pituitary dominates the phenomenon of sleep. By some, Venus is also regarded as a likely ruler of the pituitary body. Both Saturn and Mercury have been assigned to the thyroid. The sun is favored above the moon for rulership over the spleen. The adrenals are generally given to Jupiter, but Mars is a contestant. The thymus claims Venus, but lunar activity is also evident there. Mars is the sovereign of the liver, but in “practice” Jupiter has great power. Each of the glands has several aspects of its function. It is likely that the ductless glands are all septenaries and that modified forms of the activities of all the planets may be discovered in each of the glandular centers.
Though Divinity seems so far removed, Its image IN man remains as a witness BEFORE men. In no part of Nature is the evidence of a supreme intelligence more conclusive than in the refinement and the symmetry of human pro* portions. To the chemist, the human body is a laboratory; to the jurist, the embodiment of abiding law; to the musician, a summary of all symphonies; to the mathematician, crystallized geometry; to the poet, rhythm in action; to the theologian, the living temple of the living God; to the physician, the garment of life; to the architect, the trestleboard of design; to the scientist, the unsolvable enigma; to the philosopher, the image of eternal verities; to the statesman, the pattern of. the commonwealth. Is it amazing, then, that the artist should delight in portraying the ever-changing moods of man; or that the architect, consciously or unconsciously, should build man’s proportions into the structure he uprears? _ Leonardo Da Vinci
[X]. Manly P. Hall. Man: The Grand Symbol of the Mysteries Essays in Occult Anatomy, ISBN 13: 9781578988488.