Elementary is a word used in Theosophy in several ways, mainly to designate the souls of deceased people who remain bound to the physical world, unable to move on in the post-mortem processes. Elementaries should not be confused with elementals.
H. P. Blavatsky defined them as follows:
Elementaries. Properly, the disembodied souls of the depraved; these souls having at some time prior to death separated from themselves their divine spirits, and so lost their chance for immortality; but at the present stage of learning it has been thought best to apply the term to the spooks or phantoms of disembodied persons, in general, to those whose temporary habitation is the Kâma Loka. Eliphas Lévi and some other Kabbalists make little distinction between elementary spirits who have been men, and those beings which people the elements, and are the blind forces of nature. Once divorced from their higher triads and their bodies, these souls remain in their Kâma-rupic envelopes, and are irresistibly drawn to the earth amid elements congenial to their gross natures. Their stay in the Kâma Loka varies as to its duration; but ends invariably in disintegration, dissolving like a column of mist, atom by atom, in the surrounding elements.
There are different classes of elementaries. One class is that of highly wicked people mentioned in the quote above, which can become dangerous tempter "demons". Mme. Blavatsky wrote:
This class of spirits are called the “terrestrial” or “earthly elementary,” in contradistinction to the other classes, as we have shown in the introductory chapter. In the East they are known as the “Brothers of the Shadow.” Cunning, low, vindictive, and seeking to retaliate their sufferings upon humanity, they become, until final annihilation, vampires, ghouls, and prominent actors.
Another class is constituted by some suicides and cases of sudden deaths. They are regarded as "half-dead", because though they lost their physical bodies their inner principles are not yet ready to start the post-mortem processes. If they are attached to the physical world, they stay as earth-bound souls trying to communicate with the world. A third class would be that of shells, that is, the psychic remnants (empty of the higher principles) of a deceased person left behind when he moved on to devachan.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 112.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 319.