Sex and Sexuality
David PrattApril 2002 , March 2004
Part 1 of 3
1. Reproductive diversity
2. Human evolution
3. Death and rebirth
4. Virginal reproduction
6. Pleasure at a price (01/08)
7. Leaving sex behind
8. Chastity links
1. Reproductive diversity
All living organisms have the capacity to produce new organisms similar to themselves. The methods and complexity of the reproductive process vary tremendously, but there are two fundamental types: asexual reproduction, in which a single organism separates into two or more equal or unequal parts; and sexual reproduction, in which a pair of specialized sex cells fuse .
Asexual reproduction is found in the majority of living organisms, including most plants, protists (e.g. bacteria, protozoans, and unicellular algae and fungi), and many lower invertebrates. In unicellular organisms it usually takes the form of fission (or mitosis), in which the parent organism splits into two or more identical 'daughter' organisms. In some cases, the cells thus formed may remain clustered together to form filaments or colonies. Protozoans and many lower plants (e.g. ferns) propagate by shedding spores -- reproductive cells that produce new organisms without fertilization. In some lower animals (e.g. hydra) and in yeasts, a common form of reproduction is budding: a small protuberance or bud forms on the surface of the parent's body, increases in size, and finally separates and develops into a new individual identical with the parent. Sponges produce internal buds known as gemmules.
Regeneration is a specialized form of asexual reproduction. Some organisms (e.g. starfish, polyps, zebrafish, flatworms, newts, and salamanders) can regenerate new heads, limbs, internal organs, or other body parts if the originals are lost or injured. Many plants are capable of total regeneration, i.e. the formation of a whole individual from a single fragment such as a stem, root, leaf, or even a small slip from such an organ (as in grafting). Among animals, the lower the form, the more capable it is of total regeneration; no vertebrates have this power, though clones of mammals have been produced in the laboratory from single somatic cells (the first clone -- Dolly the sheep -- was produced in 1997). Regeneration is closely allied to vegetative reproduction, the formation of a new individual by various parts of the organism not specialized for reproduction. The highest animals that exhibit vegetative reproduction are the colonial tunicates (e.g. sea squirts), which, much like plants, send out runners in the form of stolons, small parts of which form buds that develop into new individuals.
Sexual reproduction occurs in many unicellular organisms and in all multicellular plants and animals. In higher invertebrates and in all vertebrates it is the exclusive form of reproduction, except in the few cases in which parthenogenesis (virginal reproduction) is also possible. A number of unicellular organisms multiply by a primitive form of sexual reproduction known as conjugation: two similar organisms fuse, exchange nuclear materials, and then break apart; each organism then reproduces by fission.
Most multicellular animals and plants undergo a more complex form of sexual reproduction in which distinct male and female reproductive cells (gametes) unite to form a single cell, known as a zygote, which then undergoes successive divisions to form a new organism. In this type of sexual reproduction, half the genes in the zygote come from one parent and half from the other. Whereas asexual reproduction allows beneficial combinations of characteristics to continue unchanged, offspring produced by sexual reproduction inherit endlessly varied combinations of characteristics.
In the case of plants, wind and insects carry the sperm to the stationary egg, or, in a liquid medium, the sperm swims to the egg. In lower animals, sperm and eggs are often deposited in water, but this method is haphazard as only a few of the many sperm discharged reach the eggs. In higher animals, the spermatozoa, contained in the seminal fluid, are deposited in the lower segment of the female reproductive tract. All mammals, reptiles, and birds as well as some invertebrates, including snails, worms, and insects, use internal fertilization. In many lower multicellular organisms and all higher plants, a sexually produced generation alternates with an asexually produced generation.
After fertilization of the egg, the resulting zygote undergoes cell division and differentiation to form the embryo. In most higher plants, the embryo is enclosed in a layer of nutritive material surrounded by a hard outer covering, forming the seed. In most lower animals, the embryo, surrounded by the nutritive material of the former ovum, is enveloped by a leathery or calcareous shell and is extruded from the body of the female. Oviparous animals, such as birds, lay their eggs before the young are completely developed. Ovoviviparous animals produce eggs in shells that hatch within the mother's body. Placental mammals are viviparous, i.e. they give birth to live young without forming shelled eggs; the embryo is implanted in the uterus and nourished by the mother until almost completely developed.
Parthenogenesis involves the development of an ovum without fertilization. It is common among lower plants and invertebrate animals, especially rotifers, aphids (plant lice), ants, wasps, and bees. In the aphids there is an alternation of generations: parthenogenetic development of eggs (while in the oviduct) takes place in summer when conditions are favourable, while with the coming of autumn, with lack of sunshine and less abundant food, males appear together with sexual reproduction. The same sex cells sometimes produce different kinds of individuals according to whether or not they are fertilized. For instance, among our common honey bees, a male individual (a drone) arises out of the eggs of the queen if the egg has not been fertilized, and a female (a queen or working bee) if it has. A few kinds of amphibians, reptiles, and birds can reproduce parthenogenetically.
Hermaphroditism refers to the presence of organs producing sperm and ova in the same individual. It occurs in the great majority of flowering plants. Most hermaphroditic plants produce male and female elements at different times to ensure cross-pollination, but a few, such as the violet and the evening primrose, are self-pollinated. Hermaphroditism habitually occurs in many invertebrate animals, in the hagfish and tunicate, and a genus of sea bass. It occurs occasionally in other fishes, and in frogs, toads, and certain newts among the amphibians. Hermaphrodite animals are rarely self-fertilizing; in most cases the spermatozoa and ova mature at different times, or the male and female external organs are located so that self-fertilization is impossible. Among the invertebrates, sponges, coelenterates, some mollusks, and earthworms are regularly hermaphroditic. Flatworms have a complete set of male and female gonads in each segment and regularly fertilize themselves.
True functional hermaphroditism is rare or absent in higher animals. Animals intermediate in form between males and females occasionally appear, but they are usually sterile, and, when fertile, do not produce both fertile eggs and fertile sperm. Such individuals are often called intersexes. Intersex humans also appear; this category includes all people born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia, or internal reproductive systems that are not considered standard for male or female.
Although scientists can now describe the physical processes involved in reproduction in great detail, fertilization remains one of the least understood of all fundamental biological processes. The mechanisms involved in parthenogenesis are not understood either. And the seemingly miraculous process whereby a fertilized egg develops into a full-grown organism raises even more questions. Genes do not explain this complex process, as they carry instructions for making proteins, but not for their arrangement into tissues, organs, etc. Something else appears to guide and coordinate embryological development. According to occult science, physical processes are organized and guided from subtler, nonphysical levels of an organism's constitution, visible only to those who have developed higher clairvoyance .
Explaining how and why sex emerged in the first place poses insuperable problems for orthodox evolutionary theory. The idea that all the intricate components of the male and female reproductive systems could emerge more or less simultaneously, in perfect working order, through purely random genetic mutations, is utterly absurd. Moreover, in the darwinian struggle to pass on more of one's genes to future generations, asexuality is twice as efficient as sexuality. This is because an asexual parent transmits all its genes to each progeny, whereas when a sexual organism forms sperm or egg cells, half the genes are removed. As Richard Dawkins puts it: 'Sexual reproduction is analogous to a roulette game in which the player throws away half his chips at each spin. ... [T]he existence of sexual reproduction really is a huge paradox.' Another darwinist says that sex 'does not merely reduce fitness, but halves it', and should therefore be 'powerfully selected against and rapidly eliminated wherever it appears' .
Sexual organisms face various problems that are avoided in asexual organisms. In addition to the cost of evolving and maintaining the sex organs, there is the possibility of blood Rh factor incompatibilities and tissue rejection between mother and child. Because sperm and eggs are like foreign tissue due to their different genetic makeup, special mechanisms are required to keep the body's immune defences from destroying its own gametes. Finding a mate, courting, and copulating involve risks that place sexual organisms at a further disadvantage compared with asexual organisms. Scientists therefore admit that 'there is no convincing Darwinian history for the emergence of sexual reproduction'.
In the case of asexual organisms, all offspring are essentially clones of the single parent, and differ from it only by new mutations. Sex, on the other hand, creates diversity. Sex shreds every genome in every generation, with the result that all offspring are genetically different (except in rare cases such as identical twins). Scientists acknowledge that it is difficult to identify any short-term individual benefit in diversity. They also believe that sex would tend to slow the evolution of a species rather than accelerate it, because it breaks up gene combinations with no regard for their adaptive value.
Another hypothesis is that the benefit of sex lies not in accelerating the spread of beneficial mutations but in more rapidly eliminating harmful mutations. Asexual lineages can acquire more harmful mutations but never less, whereas in a sexual population it is possible for offspring to have fewer harmful mutations than either parent. The problem with this argument is that darwinism assumes that evolution cannot look ahead to the future; it can only select traits based on their immediate short-term benefits for the individual. If sex primarily helps to maintain the long-term genetic well-being of species, it cannot have evolved by purely darwinian mechanisms.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 2000; Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000, http://encarta.msn.com; Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 2000, http://www.encyclopedia.com.
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1977 (1888), 1:219, 223-4; G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974, pp. 400-2.
- Walter J. ReMine, The Biotic Message: Evolution versus message theory, Saint Paul, MN: St. Paul Science, 1993, pp. 196-206.
2. Human evolution
Occult teachings on the evolution of humanity differ radically from the current theories of materialistic science. Far from having descended from ape-like ancestors through random genetic mutations, the present human form is said to have slowly condensed out of a more ethereal or astral state of matter in the course of many millions of years, just as the earth itself gradually condensed out of the primordial, ethereal nebula. And as the outer human body, especially the brain and nervous system, developed, more and more of the faculties of the indwelling soul were able to find expression through the physical form.
According to theosophy, our earliest protohuman ancestors in the present (fourth) round of the earth's evolution began to develop about 150 million years ago in the mid-Palaeozoic. They were huge ethereal beings, with ovoid bodies, which very slowly declined in size and solidified, and increasingly took on a recognizably human form. The first race was sexless and propagated by fission: a large portion of the body separated and grew into a duplicate of its parent. The second race was asexual and reproduced by gemmation or budding: a swelling or bud appeared on the body of one of these entities, and eventually separated and grew into another individual similar to its parent. At about the midpoint of the second race, these buds increased in number, and became what might be called 'spores' or 'seeds'.
The third root-race was initially androgyne. In the earliest stages, reproduction took place by budding, which developed into egg-laying: vital cells were exuded from the outer parts of the body, and collected together to form huge ovoid aggregates or eggs. To start with, the drops of vital fluid were exuded from nearly all parts of the body. Later a single large cell was exuded from a functional part of the organism, which was the root of the later reproductive organs. Hermaphroditism died out in the middle period of the third root-race, some 18 million years ago, by which time the human body was becoming distinctly physical. Individuals began to be born with the predominant characteristics of one or the other sex, until finally only unisexual individuals were produced. While the separation of the sexes was taking place, the awakening of selfconsciousness in nascent (and hitherto 'mindless') humanity was beginning to accelerate .
Evidence that humanity was originally hermaphrodite is supplied by embryology and physiology. Sexual glands and ducts appear in the embryo in the second month of its development, but they are neither male nor female. Sexual differentiation proceeds as follows:The reproductive organs first develop in the same form for both males and females: internally there are two undifferentiated gonads and two pairs of parallel ducts (Wolffian and Müllerian ducts); externally there is a genital protrusion with a groove (urethral groove) below it, the groove being flanked by two folds (urethral folds). On either side of the genital protrusion and groove are two ridgelike swellings (labioscrotal swellings). . . . If testes develop, the hormone they secrete causes the Müllerian duct to degenerate and almost vanish and causes the Wolffian duct to elaborate into the sperm-carrying tubes and related organs (the vas deferens, epididymis, and seminal vesicles, for example). If ovaries develop, the Wolffian duct deteriorates, and the Müllerian duct elaborates to form the fallopian tubes, uterus, and part of the vagina. The external genitalia simultaneously change. The genital protrusion becomes either a penis or clitoris. In the female the groove below the clitoris stays open to form the vulva, and the folds on either side of the groove become the inner lips of the vulva (the labia minora). In the male these folds grow together, converting the groove into the urethral tube of the penis. The ridgelike swellings on either side remain apart in the female and constitute the large labia (labia majora), but in the male they grow together to form the scrotal sac into which the testes subsequently descend. 
Male and female reproductive organs. 
The development of the embryo and fetus in the womb recapitulates the past development of mankind,* with the first four months corresponding in several respects to the first four root-races preceding our present (fifth) root-race. External genitalia appear in the seventh or eighth week but in a primitive, sexless condition; they become recognizably male or female only in the second half of the third month , corresponding to the later third root-race.
*Haeckel's theory that the development of an embryo (ontogeny) is a condensed repetition of the adult stages of its evolutionary ancestors (phylogeny) went out of scientific fashion long ago. However, S.J. Gould states that 'no discarded theme more clearly merits the old metaphor about throwing the baby out with the bath water'; it is undeniable, he says, that 'phyletic information resides in ontogeny' .
That the awakening of selfconsciousness also took place at this time is likewise corroborated by embryonic development. In the eighth week the brain begins to undergo explosive growth, increasing in size by millions of cells every day, until by the end of the third month it has grown to something like the 10,000 million cells it will eventually contain. For the rest of pregnancy and on into the first five years of independent life, each brain cell reaches out with networks of fibres and forges links with thousands, and in some cases a quarter of a million, of its neighbours .
The formation of bones is likewise said to have taken place in the third root-race, as the human body became increasingly material. In the fetus, ossification (bone-forming) centres appear in most of the future bones during the third (lunar) month, once they are well formed in cartilage; ossification then continues for the rest of pregnancy .
Sexual differentiation in the fetus does not lead to the complete disappearance of the reproductive organs of the other sex; rudimentary organs of the opposite sex remain . For instance, males have undeveloped, nonfunctional mammary glands, and also an undeveloped uterus and vagina, known as the prostatic utricle or uterus masculinus. The clitoris is a small, nonfunctional equivalent of the penis, and the ovaries correspond to the testes. The testes develop in the abdominal cavity but descend into the scrotum before birth, while the ovaries remain in the abdominal cavity. The testes and ovaries mainly secrete the male and female sex hormones respectively, but they also secrete small amounts of the opposite sex hormones.
Charles Darwin wrote:
It has long been known that in the vertebrate kingdom one sex bears rudiments of various accessory parts appertaining to the reproductive system, which properly belong to the opposite sex; and it has now been ascertained that at a very early embryonic period both sexes possessed true male and female glands. Hence some remote progenitor of the whole vertebrate kingdom appears to have been hermaphrodite or androgynous. 
Modern scientists believe that during the early stages of evolution every animal was probably hermaphroditic. Theosophy denies that human bodies gradually evolved from animal bodies, and states that the earliest human stocks, like the earliest animal stocks, were androgynous.
Many myths and legends refer to the androgynous ancestors of present humanity, to the separation of the sexes, and to the first gods being double-sexed . Plato in his Banquet (§190) states that an early race of humans were globular in shape and bisexually formed. They were strong and mighty, but ambitious and wicked, so that Zeus cut them in two in order to curb their evildoing and diminish their strength. Since then all mankind has consisted of males and females. An Orphic hymn chanted in the Mysteries asserts: 'Zeus is a male, Zeus is an immortal maiden.' Pallas-Athene emerges from Jupiter's head, and the younger Bacchus is enclosed in his thigh prior to birth. Some statues of Jupiter have female breasts, and representations of Venus-Aphrodite give her a beard to signify the same bisexual nature.
According to the Hindu Puranas, 'The mighty power became half male, half female'. In one allegory, Brahma separates into two and recreates himself as Viraj in one of his halves (the female Vach). Many Hindu images are half male and half female, and have four arms. The ancient Persians taught that humans were the product of the tree of life, growing in androgynous pairs, till they were separated during a subsequent modification of the human form. The Egyptian supreme god Ra is represented as a perfect bisexual being, from which are derived the other gods (Osiris, Horus, Ptah, Ammon, etc.), representing Ra's various attributes, or the powers of nature. Each of these lesser gods had a female counterpart representing the same individuality in its female state. Similar ideas can be found among the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. In the Hermetic books intelligence is said to be 'God possessing the double fecundity of the two sexes'.
In the Hebrew book of Genesis, the elohim -- usually translated as 'God', but actually a plural word signifying the creative powers of nature -- first create Adam (early humanity) 'male and female', i.e. androgynous (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1-2). Eve is later made from Adam's 'rib' (the Hebrew word also means 'side' or 'part'). Adam and Eve then eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (representing the awakening of selfconsciousness), and are cast out of Eden (the original, blissful state of unselfconsciousness), and take on 'coats of skin' (a reference to the fact that human bodies were then becoming physical rather than astral). Interestingly, the Hebrew word for 'knowledge' (daath) also means 'sexual union': 'Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain' (Genesis 4:1, also 4:17, 25).
Theosophy asserts that the sexual method of reproduction was adopted first in the animal kingdom and nature then introduced it in the human kingdom but 'under protest' . This appears to be confirmed by several phenomena. H.P. Blavatsky contrasts the comparative painlessness of procreation among the animals with the suffering and danger it often entails for women . Women are the only mammalian females whose vagina is closed with a tough membrane, the hymen. Its forcible rupture means that the first attempt at intercourse is a bloody and painful experience.
Furthermore the mouth of the uterus is normally covered by a mucus plug which hinders the passage of sperm from the vagina to the uterus. When discharged, it interferes with the inward passage of the sperm, which are poisoned by the acid vaginal secretions, with many being rendered immobile. Subsequent entrance of sperm into the uterus is hindered by its quick retraction and closure. Dr Raymond Bernard comments:
How different this is from the direct passage of spermatozoa from the penis to the uterus, which occurs in animals, where the elongated uterus reaches forward until it grasps the penis and aspirates a few drops of seminal fluid. 
Once in the uterus, the movement of the sperm towards the ovaries is impeded by the downward ciliary current of the minute hairs inside the fallopian tube and the sticky mucus that covers its interior wall. About 100 million spermatozoa are deposited in the vagina, but only a million enter the uterus, and perhaps only 100 reach the ovum .
According to theosophy, the existence of two sexes in the human kingdom is not the endpoint of our sexual evolution. In the next root-race, which will flourish in a few million years, humanity will again become hermaphrodite or double-sexed, and in the final root-race during the present round we shall become completely androgynous. Children will be produced by kriyashakti, i.e. by will and creative imagination -- passively in the sixth race, and consciously and actively in the seventh . The reason the separation of humans into distinct sexes followed the awakening of selfconsciousness is because of the dual nature or bipolarity of mind. As the human race evolves and rises out of the lower mind into the higher, sex will therefore disappear .
These developments will of course be accompanied by inner and outer changes to our bodies. The sixth and seventh root-races will not have sex organs such as we now have. There will also be changes to our spinal cord. At present, there are two chains of ganglia, or sympathetic cords, on either side of the spinal column. Each is connected with a channel (or nadi) of psychovital force: the sushumna runs through the spinal column, while the ida and pingala are associated with the sympathetic cords. In the next root-race the ida and pingala will develop into two spinal columns connected by the sushumna. In the seventh root-race these two backbones will fuse into one, as our male and female aspects will be fully integrated . This will foreshadow the even higher evolutionary state to be reached in the seventh round, when we shall regain our original, divine state of sexless purity, but enriched with the wisdom gained through our selfconscious evolution in the realms of matter.
The church father St. Clement said that Jesus was once asked when his 'kingdom' would come, and replied: 'It will come when two and two make one; when the outside is like the inside; and when there is neither male nor female'. G. de Purucker gives the following interpretation . 'When two and two make one' refers to a time when our psychological nature has become so refined that it coalesces with our spiritual nature. In terms of the sevenfold human constitution, the spiritual nature is the uppermost duad (atman + buddhi, or inner divinity + spiritual intelligence), while the psychological nature is the intermediate duad (manas + kama, or mind + desire). 'When the outside is like the inside' means that the dense, physical body will become more sensitive and refined, and therefore better able to express the spiritual faculties of the inner god. The phrase 'when there is neither male nor female' speaks for itself: sex is merely a transitory evolutionary stage and is destined to pass away.
- G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 2nd ed., 1973, pp. 304-39; G. de Purucker, Man in Evolution, TUP, 2nd ed., 1977, pp. 231-46. See 'Evolution in the fourth round', http://davidpratt.info/evo.htm.
- 'Sexual behaviour, human', Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 2000; Embryo Images Online, http://www.med.unc.edu/embryo_images.
- 'Human embryology', Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 2000; 'Embryology', Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000, http://encarta.msn.com.
- Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Cambridge, MA: Belknap, Harvard University Press, 1977, pp. 2, 70.
- Lyall Watson, Supernature II: A new natural history of the supernatural, London: Sceptre, 1987, p. 298.
- 'Human embryology', Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 2000; David Le Vay, Human Anatomy and Physiology, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 3rd ed., 1988, pp. 37-8.
- F.H. Buzzacott and M.I. Wymore, Bi-sexual Man or Evolution of the Sexes, Mokelumne Hill, CA: Health Research, 1966 (1912), pp. 23-6; Hilton Hotema, Secret of Regeneration, Health Research, 1963, ch. 146; Gray's Anatomy, http://www.bartleby.com/107.
- Descent of Man, quoted in Man in Evolution, p. 238fn; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, TUP, 1977 (1888), 2:118-9.
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:89; 2:130, 133-5; Alexander Wilder, 'The primeval race double-sexed', The Theosophist, Feb. 1883, pp. 112-4; Bi-sexual Man or Evolution of the Sexes, pp. 75-83.
- G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979, pp. 394-5.
- The Secret Doctrine, 2:262.
- Raymond Bernard, The Mysteries of Human Reproduction, Health Research, n.d., p. 74.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology, pp. 355-6.
- Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 398-9, 409-10. See 'Sex: theosophical quotations', http://davidpratt.info/sexquo.htm.
- G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, TUP, 1973, p. 676.
- H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1950-91, 12:700-2; G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974, pp. 461-2; Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948, 1:361-3.
- The Esoteric Tradition, pp. 64-6.
3. Death and rebirth
Materialistic science claims that we are no more than complex, genetically-programmed machines. It provides no real insight into the causes of birth, growth, and death, or the origin of our selfconscious minds. It cannot even explain the essential difference between a living human being and a corpse -- both consist of the same chemical elements!
Occult science, by contrast, recognizes that the physical body is ensouled by subtler 'bodies'. The physical body dies when the connecting link with our higher centres of consciousness is broken. The physical body proceeds to decay on the physical plane while the astral model-body that holds it together during life, along with the higher astral form in which the lower mind is seated, decompose in different regions of the astral realms surrounding and interpenetrating our physical globe. The speed at which this happens depends on the quality of thoughts and desires in the life just ended. At the 'second death' the higher mind or reincarnating soul separates from everything below it and, enclosed within the aura of the spiritual-divine self, enters a blissful, dreamlike state (known as the devachan), in which all the unrealized spiritual hopes and aspirations of the last incarnation are fulfilled, and the noblest experiences of the last life are assimilated and woven into the fabric of our inner nature.
When the spiritual energies generated during the previous incarnation are exhausted, the devachanic dreaming draws to a close, and the attraction to earth life begins to reassert itself. The thirst for material life, the longing to return to familiar scenes and be reunited with past companions, causes us to incarnate on earth again and again. As the reincarnating soul redescends towards its native sphere, its former life-atoms in the astral realms reawaken and start to build up a new astral form. The soul's ethereal energies arouse aggregates of astral and physical substance into forming reproductive cells in the bodies of potential parents, these being people with whom it was closely related in past lives, and who can provide it with a physical body and family environment suited to its karmic needs. Reincarnating souls may 'precipitate' reproductive cells in up to several dozen potential parents, and several different souls may be drawn to the same man or woman .
If conception takes place, the egg is fertilized by whichever of the male sex cells has the greatest affinity with it at the time.
The human egos awaiting incarnation are exceedingly numerous, so that there may be scores of entities which could become children of any one couple, yet there is always one whose attraction is strongest to the mother-to-be at any specific physiological moment, and it is this astral form which becomes the child. 
Assuming that the egg available for fertilization is connected with one specific reincarnating soul, a sperm connected with the same soul will normally be the one that fuses with the egg. If fertilization does not take place, or if it does but pregnancy is later interrupted by abortion, miscarriage, or some other accident, the incarnating entity may be psychomagnetically attracted to other suitable parents.
A significant difference between the male and female reproductive systems is that whereas each ejaculation contains some 100 to 500 million sperm, only one egg at a time is released. And whereas sperm are produced continuously, ova are not. When females are born, 150,000 to 500,000 hollow balls of cells -- follicles -- containing immature egg cells are present in the ovaries; by the time the female reaches adolescence and young adulthood, the number has fallen to about 34,000. During active child-bearing years (13-50) only 300-400 of the follicles undergo maturation and, if not fertilized, pass out of the body during menstruation. According to theosophy, reproductive cells in both males and females may be active or dormant, and a dormant sex cell is vitalized and activated when a reincarnating entity links itself with it .
Whereas fraternal twins develop from two separate eggs that have been fertilized by two separate sperm, identical twins develop from a single fertilized egg (zygote). In the latter case, at a relatively early stage in its growth, the zygote splits into two separate cell masses which go on to become embryos; these embryos are genetically identical to each other and are always of the same sex. A zygote's incomplete or late division into two cell masses results in Siamese twins. Triplets may be derived from a single zygote; from two zygotes, one of which divides; or from three separate zygotes. Similarly, quadruplets may originate from one up to four zygotes, and so on. The phenomenon of multiple births suggests that, in some cases, either more than one reincarnating soul can be associated with a particular egg or sperm, or a sperm and egg that fuse are connected with different reincarnating souls, or that one or more additional reincarnating souls may attach themselves to an egg after it has been fertilized.
In humans and other mammals, females have two X chromosomes while males have an X and a Y chromosome.* The sex of an offspring therefore depends on whether the sperm that fertilizes the egg is X-bearing or Y-bearing. But contrary to what official biology claims, this is not a matter of chance. The sex of the offspring is determined by the lower emotional and mental tendencies and karmic needs which the reincarnating soul embodying in the growing embryo has brought with it from past lives. As a rule, several lives are spent in a body of one sex before changing to a body of the other sex, which happens mainly as a result of the strong attraction to the opposite sex during the last few lives . One can readily imagine that this changeover may sometimes be a time of some psychological confusion as regards gender.
*Although most males have XY chromosomes and most females are XX, there are exceptions. About one in a thousand men have XXY chromosomes, while a smaller proportion of women have only a single X chromosome. It is widely believed that the Y chromosome carries a single dominant male-determining gene. Yet roughly one male in 20,000 has two X chromosomes and no Y at all. Although about two thirds of these XX males do carry on their X chromosomes some DNA sequences normally found on the Y chromosomes, the other one third do not. The origin of these XX males remains enigmatic. Although X and Y chromosomes are usually termed 'sex chromosomes', genes located on chromosomes besides the X and Y chromosomes contribute to sexual development, and genes related to nonsexual traits are located on X chromosomes .
The human embryo begins as a single cell. Nine months later it has grown to over a trillion cells. A question often asked, especially in connection with abortion, is: When does the embryo becomes a living being? That is: When does it become animated by a human soul? Viewed theosophically, at no stage can the embryo or fetus be considered to be anything but alive; it is only the degree of manifest life (and consciousness) that changes. The connection between the reincarnating soul and the body-to-be is established in several stages. Even before conception takes place, a ray of energy from the incarnating soul activates the sex cells in potential parents. The union of sperm and egg marks the next stage, and the embryo then begins to grow, guided initially by the vegetative, vital-astral part of the reincarnating soul. The physical form is built around the astral form, and both attract atoms belonging to the soul in former lives.
Around the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, the fetus moves for the first time, and this marks the first real entrance into it of the higher attributes of the reincarnating soul . By the end of the seventh month, the lower mind is said to be firmly 'wedged' in the brain and senses of the fetus . After birth, the brain cells do not increase in number but an intricate network of connections forms between them, enabling more and more of the latent mental powers of the human soul to be expressed -- a process that can continue for most of a person's life. Mind scarcely begins to function until the seventh year, but is not in full action until the person concerned is of mature age .
[B]efore, and indeed for a number of years after, birth, the child is only overshadowed by the higher principles of its constitution, the lower principles being the most active in function and expression during the earlier years of life.
Yet at about fourteen or fifteen years of age, more or less, the case varying according to the individual, there occurs the first real entrance of the higher part of the child's inner constitution into conscious functioning on our physical plane; and from this wonderful hour the enveloping of the growing child and youth with the spiritual-vital aura of the Reincarnating Ego proceeds progressively and steadily through life into adulthood, and slackens only a short time before natural death -- or should do so, and would do so in virtually all cases were it not for the fact that so many human beings live unnatural emotionally and passionally tempestuous lives which weaken the organs of the body and their full and complete functioning. 
- G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), pp. 621-6; G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973, pp. 879-910. See 'Sex: theosophical quotations', http://davidpratt.info/sexquo.htm.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 625.
- The Esoteric Tradition, pp. 904-5.
- Ibid., p. 666.
- William R. Corliss (comp.), Biological Anomalies: Humans I, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1992, pp. 40-2; Alice D. Dreger, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, p. 4.
- The Esoteric Tradition, p. 906.
- H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1950-91, 12:623-4.
- Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948, 3:230, 337-8.
- The Esoteric Tradition, p. 893.
Sex and Sexuality: Part 2
Sex and Sexuality: Contents
Evolution in the fourth round
Sex: theosophical quotations