It is well known to the esoteric astrologer that the human body has an immense period of evolution behind it and that this splendid organism is the result of a slow process of gradual upbuilding which is still continuing and will make each generation better than the previous until in some far distant future it shall have reached a stage of completion of which we cannot even dream. It is also understood by the deeper students that in addition to the physical body man has finer vehicles which are not yet seen by the great majority of human beings, though all have within them latent a sixth sense whereby they will in time cognize these finer sheaths of the soul.
The occultist speaks of these finer vehicles as the vital body, made of ether, and the desire body, made of desire stuff, the material whence we draw our feelings and emotions, and with the addition of the sheath of mind and the physical body these complete what may be termed the personality which is the evanescent part distinct from the immortal Spirit that uses these vehicles for its expression. These finer vehicles interpenetrate the dense physical body as air permeates water and have particular dominion over certain parts thereof, because the physical body itself is a crystallization of these finer vehicles in the same manner and upon the same principle that the soft fluids of a snail's body gradually crystallize into the hard and flinty shell which it carries upon its back. We may say broadly that the softer parts of our bodies which we commonly call flesh may be divided into two kinds, glands and muscles.
The vital body was started in the Sun Period. Crystallization from that time on in that vehicle has developed what we now call glands and to this day they and the blood are the special manifestations of the vital body within the physical vehicle. Therefore, the glands as a whole may be said to be under the rule of the life-giving Sun and the great benefic, Jupiter. It is the function of the vital body too build and restore the tone of the muscles when tense and tired by the work imposed upon them by the restless desire body, which was started in the Moon Period. The muscles are therefore ruled by the wandering Moon, which is the present vantage point of the Angels, the humanity of the Moon Period, and by the impulsive and turbulent Mars, where the so-called "Fallen Angels," the Lucifer Spirits, dwell. That is to say, as a whole, for the student must carefully note that individual glands and particular groups of muscles are under the rulership of other planets as well. It is as when we say that all who live in the United States of America are citizens of that country, but some are subject to the laws of California, others to those of Maine, etc.
We know the Hermetic Axiom, "As above, so below," which is the master key to all mysteries, and as there are upon the Earth, the macrocosm, a great many undiscovered places, so also in the microcosm of the body do we find unknown countries that are a closed book to the scientific explorers. Chief among them has been a small group of the so-called "ductless glands," seven in number, namely:
They have a great and particular interest for occultists, and they may be termed in a certain sense "the seven roses" upon the Cross of the body, for they are intimately connected with the occult development of humanity. Four of them, the thymus gland, the spleen, and the two adrenals are connected with the personality. The pituitary body and the pineal gland are particularly correlated with the spiritual side of our nature and the thyroid gland forms the link between. The astrological rulership is as follows:
The spleen is the entrance gate of the solar forces specialized by each human being and circulated through the body as the vital fluid, without which no being can live. This organ is therefore governed by the Sun. The two adrenals are under the rulership of Jupiter, the great benefic, and exert a calming, quieting and soothing effect when the emotional activities of the Moon and Mars or Saturn have destroyed the poise. When the obstructive hand of Saturn has awakened the melancholy emotions and laid its restraint upon the heart, the adrenals' secretions are carried by the blood to the heart and act as a powerful stimulant in its effort to keep up the circulation, while the jovial optimism struggles against the saturnine worries or against the impulse of Mars, which stirs the desire body into turbulent emotions of anger, rendering the muscles tense and trembling, dissipating the energy of the system. Then the secretion of the adrenals comes to the rescue, releasing the glycogen of the liver in a more abundant measure than usual to cope with the emergency until the equipoise has been again attained, and similarly during whatever stress or strain. It was the knowledge of this occult fact that prompted the ancient astrologers to place the kidneys under the rulership of Libra, the Balance, and in order to avoid confusion of ideas we may say that the kidneys themselves play an important part in the nutrition of the body, being under the rulership of Venus, the Lady of Libra. However, Jupiter governs the adrenals, with which we are now particularly engaged.
Both Venus and her higher octave, Uranus, govern the functions of nutrition and growth, but in different ways and for different purposes. Therefore Venus rules the thymus gland, which is the link between the parents and the child until the latter has reached puberty. This gland is located immediately behind the sternum or breast bone. It is largest in antenatal life and through childhood while growth is excessive and rapid. During that time the vital body of the the child does its most effective, for the child is not then subject to the passions and emotions generated by the desire body after that comes to birth at or about the fourteenth year. But during the years of growth the child cannot manufacture the red blood corpuscles as does the adult, for the unborn, unorganized desire body does not then act as an avenue for the Martian forces which assimilate the iron from the food and transmute it into hemoglobin. To compensate for this lack there is stored in the thymus gland a spiritual essence drawn from the parents, and with this essence provided by their love the child is able to accomplish the alchemistry of blood temporarily until its desire body becomes dynamically active. Then the thymus gland atrophies and the child draws from its own desire body the necessary Martian force. From that time, under normal conditions, Uranus, the octave of Venus, and ruler of the pituitary body, takes charge of the function of growth and assimilation in the following manner:
It is well known that all things, our food included, radiate from themselves continuously small particles which give an index of the things whence they emanate, its quality included. Thus when we lift the food to our mouth a number of these invisible particles enter the nose and by excitation of the olfactory tract convey to us a knowledge whether the food we are about to take is suitable for this purpose or not, the sense of smell warning us to discard such foods as have a noxious odor, etc. But besides those particles which attract or repel us from food by their action on the olfactory tract through the sense of smell, there are others which penetrate the sphenoid bone, impinge upon the pituitary body and start the Uranian alchemistry by which a secretion is formed and injected into the blood. This furthers assimilation through the chemical ether, thus affecting the normal growth and well-being of the human body through life. Sometimes this Uranian influence of the pituitary body is eccentric and therefore responsible for strange and abnormal growths which produce the unfortunate freaks of Nature we occasionally meet.
But besides being responsible for the spiritual impulses which generate the before-mentioned physical manifestations of growth, Uranus, working through the pituitary body, is also responsible for the spiritual phases of growth which aid awakened man in his efforts to penetrate the veil into the invisible worlds. In this work it is, however, associated with Neptune, the ruler of the pineal gland, and it will therefore be necessary, in order to properly elucidate, that we study the functions of the thyroid gland, ruled by Mercury, and of the pineal gland which is under the dominion of his higher octave, Neptune, simultaneously.
That the thyroid gland is under the rule of Mercury, the planet of reason, is readily realized when we understand the effect which the degeneration of this gland has upon the mind, as shown in the diseases of Cretinism and Myxedema. The secretions of this gland are as necessary to the proper functioning of the mind as ether is to the transmission of electricity, that is to say, upon the physical plane of existence where the brain transmutes thought into action. Contact with and expression in the invisible worlds depends upon the functional ability of the pineal gland, which is altogether spiritual and is therefore ruled by the octave of Mercury, Neptune, the planet of spirituality, which operates in conjunction with the pituitary body ruled by Uranus.
Scientists have wasted much time in speculation upon the nature and function of these two little bodies, the pituitary body and pineal gland, but without avail, and principally because, as Mephistopheles says so sarcastically to the young man who wants to study science under Faust:
No one can really and truly observe the physiological functions of any organ under such conditions as exist in the laboratory, on the operating table, or in the dissection or vivisection chamber. To arrive at an adequate understanding one must necessarily see these organs exercising their physiological functions in the living body, and that can only be done by means of spiritual sight. There are a number of organs which are either atrophying or developing; the former show the path we have already traveled during our past evolution, the latter are finger posts, indicating our future development. But there is still another class of organs which are neither degenerating nor evolving; they are simply dormant (spiritually) at the present time. Physiologists believe that the pituitary body and the pineal gland are atrophying because they find these organs more developed in some of the lower classes of life such as worms, but as a matter of fact they are wrong in their ideas. Some have also suspected that the pineal gland is in some way connected with the mind, because it contains certain crystals after death, and the quantity was much less in those who were mentally defective than in people of normal mentality. This conclusion is right, but the Seer knows that the spinal canal of the living is not filled with fluid; that the blood is not liquid, and that these organs have no crystals in them when the body is alive.
These assertions are made with full knowledge of the fact that the blood and spinal essence are liquid when drawn out of the body, living or dead, and the contents of the pituitary body and the pineal appear crystalline when the brain is dissected. However, the reason is similar to that which causes steam drawn from a steam boiler to condense immediately upon contact with the atmosphere, and molten metal drawn from a smelter's furnace to crystallize immediately upon withdrawal therefrom.
All these substances are purely spiritual essences when inside the body; they are then ethereal and the substance in the pineal gland, when seen by the spiritual sight, appears as light. Furthermore, when one See looks upon the pineal gland of another who is then also exercising his spiritual faculties, this light is of a most intense brilliancy and of an iridescence similar to but transcending in beauty the most wonderful play of the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis. It may also be said that the function of this organ seems to have changed in the course of human evolution. During the earlier epochs of our present stay upon the Earth, when man's body was a large, baggy thing into which the Spirit had not yet entered, but was there only as an overshadowing presence, there was an opening in the top and the pineal gland was within it. It was then an organ of orientation, giving a sense of direction. As the human body condensed, it became less able to endure the intense heat which prevailed during that time and the pineal gland gave warning when the body was brought too near one of the many craters and active volcanoes which were then erupting the thin earth crust, thus enabling the Spirit to guide it away from these dangerous places. It was an organ of direction which operated by feeling, but feeling has since been distributed over the skin of the whole body. This is an indication to the occultist that some day the sense of hearing and sight will also be similarly distributed so that we shall both see and hear with our whole body and thus become still more sensitive in those respects than we are now.
Since then the pineal gland and the pituitary body have become temporarily dormant (spiritually) to make man oblivious to the invisible world while he learns the lessons afforded by the material world. The pituitary body has manifested the Uranian influence sporadically in abnormal physical growth, producing freaks and monstrosities of various kinds, while Neptune working also abnormally through the pineal gland, has been responsible for the abnormal spiritual growth of medicine men, witches, and mediums of Spirit controls. When they are awakened to normal activities these two ductless glands will open the door to the inner worlds in a sane and safe manner, but in the meantime the thyroid gland, ruled by Mercury, the planet of reason, holds the secretion necessary to give the brain balance.
In the future the ductless glands are destined to play a prominent role; their development will accelerate evolution greatly, for their effects are mainly mental and spiritual. We are now nearing the Aquarian Age; the Sun is therefore beginning to transmit the highly intellectual vibrations of this sign which accounts for the intuitions, premonitions, and telepathic transmission now so prevalent. In the final analysis these phenomena are due to the awakening of the pituitary body, ruled by Uranus, the lord of Aquarius, and every passing year will make them more manifest.
The lymphatic system is tubular and somewhat closely associated with the capillaries which connect the venous and arterial circulations, terminating in the large veins near the heart. The lymph which flows along its channel passes out one way, viz: toward the center of circulation, the heart. It is considered a system of small sewers for the body, simply because it collects the dish water of the tissues after they have all been bathed in the lymph which it carries. If you think of the tubes as drainage canals, depleting the tissues of the wash water, you may think of these lymphatic glands as locks along the course of the channels at which the flow of lymph must stop and be filtered on its way to the venous blood stream.
The glands are located in the bends of the elbows, in the arm pits, in the popliteal spaces, in the groins, thickly scattered throughout the anterior part of the neck (the part in front of the cervical vertebrae), in the abdomen between the folds of the mesentery which suspends the small intestines to the backbone, and in the chest between the lungs, this space being known as the mediastinum.
Every one of the lymphatic vessels passes through one or more of these glands on its way to its destination in the veins. The lymph cells are the only cells in the body that possess no cell wall; they move about like jellyfish in water. When inflammation attacks the human body in any of its types, the lymph is more responsible, for all poisonous liquids pass at once into the lymphatic channels.
The glands are likely to be sickly, owing to the poisonous nature of the lymph which filters through them. The lymphatic system is threefold: it collects lymph from the tissues, chyle from the intestines after it has been manufactured in the process of digestion, and by means of the lymphatic glands manufactures lymph cells which are identical with the white blood corpuscles.
This article was adapted from "Occult Principles of Health and Healing," page 30-40, by Max Heindel.