Some say that the ethers are emanations of divine beings who live on the sun. Others give highest praise to their place in the creation, death, and sustenance of the material world. They appear as planetary signatures, metals, notes, forms and other manifestations of spirit in matter. Ancient Eastern texts refer to the ethers as tattvas and point to their primal importance in creation and the hierarchy, serving as “binders” between the spiritual energies of the divine and the physical substances through which they operate. To modern spiritual scientists, the ethers are the secret of all life functions and growth. Alchemists are said to have worked with these elemental forces, often referring to them as beings that could be “set free” by releasing spirit from matter. In the deepest parts of Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucianism, esoteric Masonry, and the Magical Revival, ethers and tattvas are the subject of the deepest esoteric teachings and rituals.
Great mysteries surround the descriptions of the genesis of the ethers, which tends to be the genesis of all matter. Because there are many opinions on the ethers from East to West, any exposition on the etheric formative forces is bound to be controversial. In the West, so much confusion and misinformation abounds concerning the etheric formative forces that they are generally ignored, even by scholars of Anthroposophy.
A study of the ethers should not be eschewed as they are the very currents of life that bring movement and organization to the four elements from which all life arises. It is from the study and understanding of the ethers that an aspirant may arrive at a theory of everything and have direct contact with the spiritual world and elementals.
Unfortunately, ordinary science cannot solve the mystery of the ethers by using mathematics and observations based upon the visible spectrum and the five senses. It will take a new capacity, a new organ of perception, to be able to “sense” the living nature of electricity, gravity, levity, harmony or sacrifice that is witnessed in nature. Because the ethers are non-matter substance, they can’t be taken to a science laboratory, dissected, and examined like earthly elements bound by standard physics. They are, by their nature, beyond physical examination, in a dimension beyond our time and space; accordingly, they are spiritual and cannot be held or measured by physical science methods.
Furthermore, we should not look into far distant space for answers that we have not found on Earth. Nor should we assume that what we discover on Earth is the same that exists in the cosmos. Suffice it to say, because scientists are limited in their organs and senses of perception so, too, will be their understanding of the universe. In order to understand that which is beyond human dimensionality, new senses and organs of perception will be needed by the spiritual investigator.
The ancients tell us there is one primal ether that created six others. Five of these ethers penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and two do not. These primal seven forces are also beings who have a distinct evolutionary patterns, properties, processes, elementals, and beings they work through to manifest the “known” world. Some aspects of the ethers are tangible and discoveries have found these forces acting on matter. However, they have not been named or recognized as ethers.
Many scientists now acknowledge the existence of the “hypothetical ether” that pervades the entire universe. The effects of these forces have been measured, but no comprehensive theory acknowledges all seven ethers or their metamorphosis over time. Ethers evolve and change. They are a moving target of sorts, mystifying scientists who pursue discoveries of “god” particles or waves.
The etheric realm is invisible to physical perception, but may be examined by those with etheric sight. When perceived by a clairvoyant, this realm resembles a slightly luminous thin haze, dimly stratified. Ethers have laws governing them and have qualities inherent in their natures which every spiritual scientist can learn to know and use. Its lower parts are placid and unchanging, but its upper layers are in a state of constant agitation. Many beings inhabit the etheric realm and there are places, like a school or temple for study with spiritual teachers, which can be used for spiritual development.
The etheric body of the human being is a brilliant complex of radiant energy. Etheric force flows along every nerve, so that each fiber seems to be filled with an internal light. It glistens in the cell tissue, and the minute particles appear like tiny stars. In pulsing waves it pours out from the nerve ends and extends several inches beyond the skin. Ethers fill all organisms with vitality and life. The essential functions of life, respiration, growth, reproduction, assimilation, excretion, and circulation are maintained by the forces flowing through the etheric body, known among the ancients as the “water of life.”
Closely involved in all of the processes of human growth, especially from the seventh to the fourteenth year-the period of most rapid physical development, the etheric body is responsible for the perpetuation of the species. All living organisms, from the smallest single cell amoeba to humans, have an etheric body, and it is the nature of the etheric in seeds, eggs and cells that gives life fertility. The etheric body regulates life energy which sustains all organic structures, thus maintaining the functions of living tissue. In a normal state of health, the physical body is surrounded by etheric currents which flow in and out through the skin, enclosing the human form in a flickering aura.
Although much ether is derived from the sun, the etheric body’s activity in the human physical body is most intense during sleep when it sustains and regulates the autonomic and involuntary functions of the body, repairing the consequences of daily physical deterioration. Many of the ailments involving the etheric body are the result of humans failing to cooperate with the natural harmony of their physical bodies. The effort necessary to mend the damage done by wrong habits, improper diet, overwork, and physical exhaustion, may tax this energy flow beyond its capacity. In addition, the etheric body must cope with the depressing and demoralizing effects of destructive mental patterns and emotional excesses which react harmfully upon the physical body.
The powers of the ethers depend upon proper food, relaxation, sleep, sunlight, exercise, the healthy expression of the emotions, and the right mental attitude. Many aspirants fail in their search for higher truths because they neglect or even ignore the physical foundation of spiritual regeneration. While the perfection of the physical body is not the principle end of philosophy, the release of the transcendental powers in man depends to a considerable degree upon the health of the etheric body.
So how does the aspirant come to understand the ethers when he/she has yet to develop organs of perception (clairvoyance) needed to fully understand their nature? One way is to engage in clear observation of the life functions of nature that gradually reveal the rhythms and activities of the ethers. Watching a garden grow season after season speaks the biography of beings who create and sustain plant life on Earth like a speckled cloak of wonder. The shape, color and substance of plants is a living tapestry that indicates the hidden patterns of energy flowing through each blade of grass or trunk of a redwood.
Holding a concept of ethers in your thinking is to understand how the ethers have been viewed throughout time. Ancient religions and contemporary esotericism can provide the aspirant with a foundation of understanding so that he can take thinking into a realm beyond ordinary dimensions of time and space into the realm of etheric vision, where the ethers can be seen to unite the elements that create life. In order to activate the perception needed to see beyond the physical elements, it is helpful to examine how others approached the study of this quintessential source of life.
Once the aspirant can hold this imaginative thought, he can then pierce the veil that separates him from knowing the way to the spiritual world, creating a bridge between the physical and spiritual world. In time, like an alchemist, he begins to release the spirit which is bound in matter.
As with all stories about the ethers, it begins with one primal ether. In the Greek version of the story, this being is known as Chaos, who is described as a being “void of air” wherein time (arche) comes into being. From the realm of the eternal, or duration, time comes into being in a physical, linear fashion. Chaos is the primal soup that has all of the substance needed for the entire creation of seven stages. Chaos is neither male nor female, light nor darkness.
Chaos gives birth to Erebus (male) and Nyx (female) – brother and sister. Erebus is darkness and the male realm of time, whereas Nyx is night and the female or forces of space. Some stories recount that Erebus and Nyx gave birth to a being named Aether, or Light. Other stories describe Aether as the son of Chaos, having no mother or father. In some creation versions, Aether is seen as a single offspring of Erebus and Nyx, while in others Aether has a twin, who is either male or female, named Hermera. Aether is known as the god of fire, warmth, and light in some stories, and in others, he seems to be like Adam in that he is “twice created,” once a male and then a male and female.
In some versions, there are three primal gods, Chaos, Aether, and Eros. Aether embodies many of the qualities of Eros. Winged Eros was born from an egg and mated with Chaos. In one version Eros had a bow and arrow that created earth, water, mountains, animals, and even humans, essentially the creator god of the Greeks. In this story, Aether is Eros, the creator god. From Aether (and Hemera) come the lower gods and goddesses.
Uranus, a son of Aether, was the sky god of the heavens who ruled the winds, the sky, clouds, airs, and the movement across his mate Rhea, the Earth. From Uranus and Rhea, Chronos and the ancient gods were born.
From Aether came Ourea who was the male god of mountains that grew upward out of Gaia. Aether also created Oceanus, also known as Pontus, or Thalassa in the female form, who was the god or goddess of the seas. Oceanus encircled the whole world and was a shape-shifter like his Titan daughters. Thetis the titan, married Peleus, a human, bringing the primal gods closer to human consciousness.
From Aether came Gaia, also known as Rhea, the Earth goddess who brought forth the abundance of life on her skin. She is the Mother of All and her body was the surface of the Earth.
With Greek stories we see seven creations of Aether that manifest in the world and the other primal gods and goddesses. This Being of Aether, Eros, is known as the god of love who “no god or man can resist.” Aether is so powerful in some stories that though Chaos, his mother, bore him through an egg he came out of the egg and mated with her to create the other five primal gods. So, no matter how you view the Greek creation stories, seven often becomes the cyclic process that makes the whole, the complete evolution of the cosmology, or metamorphosis over time.
The example of Greek cosmology is of the creation of nature. The predicted future in this cosmology indicates that the human being eventually returns to the eternal home from whence he came. By identifying with the story of Eros and Psyche, the Greek learned that immortality can be gained after trials and stages that included going down into the underworld, finding the water of immortality, and staying faithful to those he loved. Psyche is the victorious heroine in this story and she gains immortality, the future goal of Greek cosmology.
The story of Psyche and Eros is one of the oldest stories in history and can be found ubiquitously around the world. It is the original female version of the story of the prodigal son who leaves his father’s home to suffer in the world and eventually returns home again. This archetype is the primal message of most ancient cosmologies.
In the story of Eros and Psyche, the female version of the prodigal son, Venus is the Queen Mother that Psyche most obey. She is the ultimate source of life and nature. Venus is the living fount of nature who was also called Natura, “living” Natura.
Even in our own time, Natura can be observed, We will need to use our own “beingness” to encounter and “communicate” with the “beingness” of Natura. This beingness is subtle and hidden, but powerful and active. She comes from an invisible place and “donates” visible nature (the beingness of all nature) and then hides, ready again to tend life at every juncture and then back away again until the cycle of nature runs its course and falls back again into the arms of Natura.
After a cycle of seeming death, Natura springs forth anew through rebirth from the dark soil of death that has been transformed by some magical power of levity that draws forth life rising back to its home the sun. Natura is the handmaiden of birth, death, and rebirth – endlessly, or as far as we can see. She is eternal, in a fashion, with Her new buds of Spring always deeply hidden in the darkness of earth and sleep. Natura accepts death as graciously as birth and never fails to tend Her children. Natura’s beingness is a part of Her cosmic whole. She is multiplicity by Her very nature. It is Her shadow that the philosophers and sages sought day and night.
Modern scientists have been “introduced” to Her through the concept of Gaia, Mother Earth. Once we anthropomorphized Natura as Gaia, a whole host of scientists who “believe” came out of the closet with a new morality towards a living Being of the Earth as a biological entity with whom humanity is in a symbiotic relationship. This is the new direction needed to begin to develop “new sense organs”, or capacities of soul that can house concepts that are warmed through with human love. This is what is needed to see the etheric formative forces that create life anew each moment.
Some people still have the capacity to clairvoyantly “see” Mother Earth and can dialogue with her in some fashion. The ancient Greeks had a cosmology of creation that is quite instructive, especially in relationship to Gaia and the Greek god Aether – the source of the classical reference to ether. Again, as in all true metamorphosis in our solar system, seven is the magic number of the Beings who brought the natural world into existence in the Greek creation story.
This Greek scheme of creation is very similar to other cultures’ versions. Often, it is the One who creates the other Six and together the Seven go through a cycle of seven to perfect creation. The Vedic, Theosophical, and Anthroposophical schemes, for example, are very similar and carry metamorphic “markers” that weave through legends and traditions as seven breaths, seven seals, seven brothers, seven days of creation, seven spirits before the throne, seven flames, seven heroes and the like. Seven, the septenary division of creation, is quite common in creation stories.
Through the analysis of the nature of seven we find the working of the seven planets, one primal (sun) and the other six working around it. This solar scheme works its forces, processes, elements, and substances into every aspect of the human being and nature. Seven pervades nature on earth and in our solar system. The sun is the primal force, and the Earth/Moon, Venus and Mercury create one triangle around the sun, while Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn create another triangle around the sun. Together, the seven planets create a symphony of motion.
There are septenary correspondences found in all aspects of nature that replicate and resonant with the forces of seven. They are forces that indicate the actions of beings in our solar system who interpenetrate our physical constitution through time, space, consciousness, vibrations, forces, processes, elements, and substances. They have been described by the ancients as beings who have a cosmological plan for humanity, one that is not yet completed, but continuously unfolding.
The goal of the cosmology is the perfection of humanity. Through the study of creation stories, cosmologies, and the mystery of primal patterns and forces, we can discover where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. We can develop a world-view of life.
Modern View of the Ethers
The ethers have been revered throughout time by the great sages who saw them as the quintessential manifestation of spirit in matter. As we have seen, the most ancient texts defer to the ethers as the creators of the cosmic and earthly realms. In modern times, the ethers received renewed attention from researchers like H. P. Blavatsky (1831-1891), Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), and Ervin Laszlo (1932-living). Students who would like to explore this topic more thoroughly are recommended to study the different opinions of modern researchers about the ethers to corroborate their own spiritual scientific research in this most important area of cosmology.
Many of these ancient mysteries were compiled in a modern way through the Eastern teachings of Helena P. Blavatsky, namely her book entitled The Secret Doctrine. She wrote extensively about the ethers, spiritual elements, and the “end all” of the ethers, a magical divine being called Fohat. What the ancients had called Swara, El Eloa, AEther, Divine Eros, Phanes, Protogous, and a host of other names, Blavatsky called Fohat.
Rudolf Steiner built upon Blavatsky’s “theosophy” and was well aware of the debate in his time between Blavatsky and a student of hers named Rama Prasad who wrote the book, Nature’s Finer Forces, an exposition of the ancient Shivite Tattvic philosophy of the science of breath. Blavatsky felt that misuse of the information in Prasad’s book could lead to black magic and bring harm to an unwitting aspirant trying to carry out experiments with the tattvas (ethers). Great debates ensued for years in both theosophical and anthroposophical circles concerning whose view of the ethers was correct.
Rudolf Steiner worked with his secretary, Guenther Wachsmuth to create a seminal work on the ethers entitled, The Etheric Formative Forces in Cosmos, Earth and Man. This work is similar to Prasad’s interpretation of The Science of Breath, but disagrees in some key areas. Wachsmuth bases his work on the ethers out of spiritual scientific theories developed from anthroposophical research being done in Dornach, Switzerland and did not use Prasad’s book as its foundation.
Modern ether theorists find difficulties with both Prasad and Wachsmuth and tend to use the similarities and allow for cross-pollination of ideas. Milner and Smart wrote, The Loom of Creation, in 1976 as a modern exposition on the ethers through their development of the ethers both cosmologically and as forces of nature that effect human development. The use of Kirlian photography and other methods of “seeing” the ethers was presented in a bold and creative way. Again though, disputes ensued because Milner and Smart did not adhere to previous presentations of “etheric science.”
Ervin Laszlo, in his book, Science and the Akashic Field – An Integral Theory of Everything, reveals the nature and workings of the primal ether of akasha, or what he calls the A-field theory. He defines the Sanskrit word akasha, signifying “radiation” or “brilliance,” to represent “ether,” an all-pervasive space. In Indian philosophy akasha was considered the first and most fundamental of the five elements – akasha, air, fire, water, and earth. Akasha embraces the properties of all five elements; it is the womb from which everything we perceive with our senses has emerged and into which everything will ultimately return. The Akashic Record or Akashic-field is the enduring record of all that has ever happened or will happen, in the dimension of space and time.
Laszlo highlights the akashic field theory’s central idea: the revolutionary discovery that at the roots of reality there is an interconnecting, information-conserving and information-conveying cosmic field. The A-field works on the principles of quantum vacuums or zero point energy fields that fill all of cosmic space where nothing disappears without a trace, and where all things that exist are, and remain, intrinsically and intimately interconnected. The effects of the akashic field are not limited to the physical world. The A-field informs all things. It is the entire web of life. It also informs our consciousness. Evidence of the A-field is arising in the fields of quantum physics, cosmology, biological sciences, and consciousness research.
The A-field conveys the most direct, intense, and evident information between things that are closely similar to one another, that are isomorphic or have the same form. A-field information is carried by superposed vacuum wave-interference patterns that are equivalent to holograms. We know that in a hologram every element meshes with isomorphic elements, that is, “likes attract likes.” This meshing is called “conjugation.” A holographic pattern is conjugate with similar patterns in any assortment of patterns, however vast. This is similar to resonance. Tuning forks and strings on musical instruments resonate with other forks and strings that are tuned to the same frequency, or to octaves higher or lower, but not to different frequencies. Information conveyed through the A-field subtly tunes all things to all other things and accounts for the coherence found in the cosmos, as well as in living nature.
Through torsion waves in the vacuum, the A-field links things and events in the universe at staggering speeds – a billion times the velocity of light. The interference patterns of torsion waves create cosmic-scale holograms, the holograms of stars and entire stellar systems. They extend throughout our universe and correlate galaxies and other macrostructures. In the domains of life, the individual holograms of the molecules and cells of an organism conjugate with the encompassing hologram of the whole organism producing nearly instantaneous coherence within the organism.
An informed universe is rooted in the rediscovery of the ancient tradition of the akashic field as the vacuum-based holofield. The universe is a highly integrated, coherent system, much like a living organism. Its critical feature is information that is generated, conserved, and conveyed by and among all its parts. Space is the origin and memory of all things that exist and have ever existed. This cosmic information field connects organisms and minds in the biosphere, and particles, stars, and galaxies throughout the cosmos.
From ancient Hindu sources to modern ether theories, each new thinker of the ethers has a different vantage point from which to describe these wondrous forces or “entities.” This is why it is impossible to speak of the ethers without also speaking of the genesis of space and time and the beings, forces, elementals, and elements that are associated with the etheric formative forces and their rhythmic cycles. To address the first ether that was created, demands an understanding of a cosmology that can “hold” the metamorphosing nature of that ether from the most ancient times to the present and far into the future. Ethers evolve alongside human and hierarchical evolution.
Ethers are not only the building blocks of space and time but also of consciousness, beings and forces that work together to create the confluence of Earthly and cosmic forces that are found in and around each human. We are populated both within and without us by invisible beings whose growth and activity create elements and elementals as a “shadow” of those spirits. Spirits “fall” into matter and the spiritual researcher can witness the forces, effects, and outer manifestation of these beings as both the substance of the environment as well as consciousness. Spirit and matter are hyper-connected to the cosmos and the hierarchy through the ethers. Truly, ethers are magical in their nature and effect.
A key factor to understanding the ethers is to know how many there are and how they came into being as a process of metamorphosis that evolves over the seven incarnations of the Earth. The ethers can tell us about the past and the creation of the world, but also the three “extra” ethers that are added onto the standard four ethers can inform us about the nature of the future. The ethers are a window into viewing the entire plan of human and world evolution.
Each ether is connected to a soul or spiritual capacity of the human being. The future spiritual capacities that the human being will develop are also written into the Akasha ether, the Unfallen Sound ether, and the Unfallen Life ether. These three ethers will become more and more available for human use and will lead to the future capacities of Imagination in the Spirit Self, Inspiration in the Life Spirit, and Intuition in the Spirit Human. These steps of evolution will take long periods of time, but they are available for the initiate now. The future can bring us our future capacities of spirit through the workings of the etheric formative forces.
The human etheric body is an image of the entire cosmos from birth to ascension. The etheric body is virtually immortal and has the past, present, and future inscribed into it as the key to human spiritual metamorphosis. The ethers are the ladder to the spiritual world and at the first stage of ascension the initiate gains “etheric vision” as an outward sign of development. New spiritual supersensible organs of perception develop through the interaction with etheric vision unfolding. Christ is perceived in the etheric realm with this new etheric vision and He teaches the initiate directly by offering His perfected etheric body as a model to emulate and embody. The higher ego of the individual is the perfected etheric body that exists in the realm where Christ is found, the etheric realm of the Life Spirit. The Earthly ego weds the higher ego and thereby, the human being takes the Akasha ether and consciously weds it to the Unfallen Sound ether. This brings the active world of Imaginations (Akasha ether) into the world of Inspiration (Unfallen Sound ether-the Harmony of the Spheres). Unfallen Sound ether is the redeemed Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the Unfallen Life ether is attained, the initiate merges with the Cosmic Ego of Christ and becomes a co-creator. This is the Tree Of Life and the cosmic Word made manifest. The world ego (Earth) weds the higher ego (planets) and then unite with the cosmic ego (zodiac).
The evolution of taking on Warmth ether (minerals), Light ether (plants), and Fallen Sound or Chemical ether (animals) created the kingdoms of nature necessary to sustain the human kingdom. These ethers also provide the substance and processes of the realms of consciousness we call dreamless sleep, dreaming, and waking. Accordingly, the outer world of the kingdoms of nature and the three states of consciousness generally found in the human being are connected and work from the same principles and with the same ethers.
Life ether was the last to evolve and it supports the human kingdom and higher thought. Fallen Life ether is the realm in which the human being begins to have the capacities to recognize eternal truths in one’s self and the world. Gleaning these objective realities leads to communion with the spiritual beings who stand behind the outer world of senses. Fallen Life ether is the place where the eternal I am, or ego identity of the individual comes to birth. Fallen Life ether builds up the human constitution at this time in evolution, but in the future humans will be able to access Unfallen Sound ether and Unfallen Life ether. As long as humans are “on the Earth” and in the “atmosphere”, the higher ethers are unavailable, generally speaking. Again, an initiate, in our current times, can rise up to these ethers and pull down from the future the forces and processes of the higher ethers.
While physically bound on Earth, the human being must evolve slowly and with great effort. Suffering time and space is the current fate of human beings unless awareness of the three higher ethers exists. The gifts of the past are offered through awareness of the evolution of the ethers and these lessons of humanity are written into the ether body of each individual. The past is summarized in the present and the future is insinuated through the evolution of the ethers. The etheric body is the memory body of humanity and the schemata of the future human being. We need to study the etheric body and unlock its secrets so that we can share this universal process of metamorphosis found in the world ethers and the human etheric body. We need to link our consciousness to the forces of natural law (Natura) that we perceive manifesting the forces of the ethers. As we do this, we train ourselves to listen to the etheric body’s lessons of the past and begin to imagine the nature and characteristics of future humanity.