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The Etheric Reality



reality: Formative or Etheric Plane

objective qualities: higher part of material - morphogenetic fields, non-local "Causality", paraphysics

subjective qualities: instinctual physical repsonses, wisdom of the body

Noetic reality:

Vertical and Occult (Spirit-Matter) reality:

Mystical and Psychological (Inner-Outer):

Holarchic reality (Universal-Individual):

symbol: fields of force

Source Reality (yang): the Inner Physical

Source Reality (yin): the Spiritual Physical Plane

Product Realities: Objective Physical Reality

Type Description (macrocosm): [1] Nervo subdegree of the Physical degree of the Physical State (ref. Max Theon; page; page; [2] Malkhut of Assiyah (in part) (ref Hermetic Qabalah)

Type Description (microcosm - objective): Etheric Body (ref. Barbara Brennan page (c.f. also Leadbeater);

Type Description (microcosm - subjective): Subtle Physical (ref. Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga vol.1, pp.334ff);


Affective Plane
(Astral Body in part)
Physical Reality
Physical Body
Astral Etheric   Ideational Etheric
Etheric Subplane
(Affective of Physical of Physical)
Etheric Body
Physical Emotional   Inner Emotional
Mental Subplane
Mental Body
Emotional Subplane
Emotional Body
Mundane Physical Plane
Physical Body

The Physical Plane according to TheonThe Etheric Physical Plane is intermediate between the Objective Physical and the higher planes of existence. Theon calls this the Nervo (= Astral ) subdegree of the Physical degree of the Physical State.  The diagram should help make it less confusing. (remember we are talking about planes within planes here, assuming a fractal configoration of popular esotericism is correct). In Sri Aurobindo's teachings this became translated into the vital physical. This would also be the "Etheric Body" or first energy body of Barbara Brennan's sequence of seven energy bodies

Etheric BodyReferred to in the Adyar school of Theosophy the Etheric or subtle physical plane and Etheric body, and by Steiner's Anthroposophy the formative forces body, and by Sri Aurobindo the Subtle Physical - this ontic gradation is transitional between the ordinary Material-Physical plane and body and the psycho-spiritual planes and subtle auras.

In this Plane there exist the formative or energic blueprints of things (the, to use external link Rupert Sheldrake's term, "Morphogenetic" - form generating - fields.  Rupert Sheldrake presents his theory of Morphogenetic Fields in his two books A New Science of Life, and The Presence of the Past. Rudolph Steiner also speaks at great length about the ether world and the etheric formative forces. The biodynamic technique of agriculture he developed by works on the Etheric level, and the psychology and orgone theory of Wilhelm Reich is again Etheric (his orgone boxes and so on make total sense as etheric, rather than as physical, technology).  Other phenomena of this plane include dowsing, radionics, astrology, crop circles, and various paranormal phenomena such as UFOs, Bigfoot, etc, which all derive from a plane of existence distinct from the gross physical.

This is the region of paranormal phenomena, UFOs, bigfoot etc.  Reductionistic science, effective as it is at describing the material world, does not work on this level because causality is no longer local.  The increasing presence of consciousness means that scientific methodology fails completely.   Here we have the most material grades of "elemental" or "devic" consciousness that effect us in subtle ways; "Trolls" for example and similar forces.  Even though these beings have their consciousness at a higher level, their body or densest part is in the etheric. There are also other beings that are involved in the kingdoms of nature; especially the plant and mineral kingdoms.  Rudolph Steiner writes at length about the various types of elemental or nature spirits.

The microcosmic orbit showing the circulation of ch'i energy within the bodyThe etheric body is the lowest level of the chakras and of ch'i energy. This flows in a circular manner - in Taoism this is called the "microcosmic orbit" - , hence the etheric is determined and charcterised by a cyclic motion (this may also tie in with the cyclic and seasonal nature of the devas)

Although conventional contemporary esoteric wisdom (based mostly on Theosophy and New Age teachings) has the Etheric Plane intermediate between the Physical and the Emotional/Astral, the Etheric seems to have organizational qualities lacking in the emotional and astral planes. Hence, despite its lowly station in the proximity of the gross physical, it is inspired and emenated ultimately from the Soul or Mind planes, and embodies those higher organizational archetypes with in the material.



Web links Links - Etheric Plane Web links

web pageWhat is Subtle Energy?


web page"On The Threshold of a New Science & Technology" - The Theory of Astro Biological Coenergetics - "An unorthodox new look at mind, consciousness and perception with particular emphasis on the electrochemistry and physiology of  the human visual system and its associated mechanisms."

This seems to me to refer very much to the dynamics of the Etheric aura and body, and especially confirming the Anthroposophical idea that sensation and perception is an etheric rather than a simple physical process.



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content by M.Alan Kazlev
etheric aura artwork from Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light, © Bantam Books
page uploaded 3 September 2001, relocated and last modified 16 June 2005