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Evolution, Involution, and Devolution

The teachers of esoteric concepts or theosophy in the broadest sense of the word tell us that mankind has completed a stage of involution and must now begin a new stage of evolution. Those who understand these concepts in a dogmatic and inflexible way tend to regard the involutionary spirits that attended man’s development so far as evil, for it is felt that they can only impede our future advancement. Most of us, however, would be shocked to learn that the involutionary spirits that have suddenly become evil in this manner are the nature spirits that are beloved of poets, artists, and musicians. The poetic sentiment within us wants to believe that these nature spirits are good as surely as nature itself is beautiful.

Not all of the years of any one life can be the same in regard to involution and evolution. Young people are of necessity on an involutionary path unless they renounce the world in order to live in a monastery or convent. The typical path of the young involves them in matter---which is to say, worldly responsibilities and the ownership and use of material goods. Almost everything that young people do to obtain a career, to enter into marriage, and to start a family is involutionary to a large degree.

Religious people would be especially alarmed if they knew exactly what happened when involutionary spirits interact with boys and girls at or above the age of puberty. I believe, however, that I should be explicit---and I expect a mature and thoughtful rather than automatic response from the parents and guardians of the young. At puberty a “Venus spirit” which can be male or female takes up residence in the Sacral Center or Swadhisthana Chakra of the young person. This spirit allows the young person to participate in the life of Aphrodite or Adonis---and if it is not present the boy or girl will remain withdrawn and bookish. Some parents might prefer that their children interact with books rather than a boyfriend or girlfriend, but the Venus spirit will enable the youth to become involved with the world. Spiritual evolution is possible at any age, but it is in what Carl Jung called the “second half” of life that the Venus spirit can leave, its involutionary purpose fulfilled. The second half of life can and should be evolutionary except in certain cases where the man or woman failed to live the first half properly.

Devolution is an unfortunate result of the failure to meet life’s demands whether one is young or old. Aldous Huxley told a story about an 18th century aristocrat and his mistress who discover the secret of longevity---the daily consumption of raw carp liver. They have sexual intercourse every day, and are found to be small, filthy, and apelike in appearance after several centuries. Theirs is a story of devolution, the reversal of evolution which has nothing to do with legitimate involution. Devolution can result from the failure of either involution or evolution. The refusal to meet life and death squarely and honestly can lead to devolution---and its extreme results always horrify us.

Below: A representation of an amorous faerie or Venus spirit.

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