Reflections on the Etheric

In contemplating the etheric it may well be appropriate to start with the Sun evolution. This is described in Occult Science in a particular fashion. There is a progressive delineation of events on Old Sun, but at the same time there is a weaving back and forth as if space were being traversed in a rhythmic fashion. What is at work on the one hand in the ether is, at the same time, interwoven by the activity of the spiritual beings.

There is a description of a previous evolutionary stage of earth development–that is, Saturn. Sun begins by emerging out of a state of cosmic sleep. There is a period called Pralaya, from old Indian terminology.

Sun begins with a short recapitulation of the Saturn evolution so that a new element can now enter the physical. This requires a new penetration of the physical by spiritual beings, and then the new element known as the etheric can be placed into evolution. Now it is well to consider that the etheric is a substance that is not of the nature of the physical. Its origin is within the essence of the Spirits of Wisdom according to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner. Kyriotetes is another name for these beings. That they are called Beings of Wisdom seems to me to be of import. Wisdom is not an element that can be gained by outer perceptive faculties. Wisdom is arrived at by efforts of the soul, where life and, to a certain extent, suffering has occurred. A person may be wise, but this is doubtful if the trials of life have not come into play; then one only has knowledge. For the most part, we think that there has had to be much life before there is much in the way of wisdom. To know a lot is not at all to say that there is wisdom. Wisdom has to be striven for and, for the most part, those who have looked at wisdom from a deeper point of view have suggested that wisdom is born out of the element of pain. The love of wisdom, as a path for the philosopher, has been portrayed by Plato as one who can well carry the burden of life and the pain of the path connected with wisdom. That one is dealing with Spirits of Wisdom suggests that to love wisdom may not be just an abstract activity, but may well be a path to beings who are of a particular nature.

If one is to consider the Spirits of Wisdom to be those Beings whose essence is given on Sun as etheric substance, then one can say that the path of the philosopher is intimately involved with this substance or the Beings who give this substance for the evolution of the world.

Only by considering the element of wisdom can one begin to think that one is dealing with etheric substance, which is in no way of the nature of physical substance. The matter involved in the physical substance is different from the matter of etheric substance.

In Occult Science, Rudolf Steiner writes that it is the Spirits of Wisdom who give of their substance, and this substance is of a very different nature from the substance given by the Spirits of Will on old Saturn. In other places, Rudolf Steiner warns that the nature of the etheric should not be seen as something physically refined. If one considers the nature of wisdom and Beings of Wisdom, then it would seem that the error of materializing the etheric can be avoided.

In The Inner Realities of Evolution, we have the imaginative description of the beings of the Spirits of Wisdom living in contemplation of the great sacrifice of the Thrones to the Cherubim. This contemplation gives rise to the desire to bestow, to give by grace what is of their own nature. They are not sacrificers, they are bestowers–they give. There is a great difference between sacrificing and bestowing in grace or giving. In sacrifice nothing is ever returned, but in giving there is a receiver. This receiver can and does make a relation with the giver. This is a return; that means the relation is already there even if the substance itself is not returned. Already the stage is set for a give and take where there can be a fundamental element of rhythm inherent in the nature of the etheric. In The Inner Realities, there is a giving and a return, as a received return, wherein a new element can live. Other beings come to have a life in this substance. It is not only rhythmical in its inner nature, it establishes the quality of space, and, at the same time, ether substance can permit life of other beings to find a foothold. A further note about the fundament of the etheric is that it is a necessary substance or condition in order for creativity to occur. Condition is not the same as substance.

Now, by having gone through this line of reasoning, let us return to the Sun evolution, where we seek the primordial essence and origin of the etheric. We will look to wisdom to grasp its most inward nature. It is in the first stage of its evolution on the Sun and thereby must be considered totipotential. It is so presented on the Sun evolution that it would seem to have an essential rhythmic and elastic quality to it. It is the basic condition for creativity, but this does not describe the etheric in terms of its essence. Light and a light-like warmth is perhaps a good description to be used if one stays within the sensible world. Light becomes its more inward nature, as it is grasped by the spirit, and as wisdom, when it is seen permeating all existence.

If one tries to follow the description in Occult Science of the old Sun evolution, I think it is quite possible to sense how one activity evolves out of another in a most living way. I am not impressed by the description “light ether” as much as I am impressed trying to follow events which contain a degree of reason as the basic process of unfoldment. The process of reason is not simply linear in considering old Sun and should not be taken hold of as such. It is not purely sequential as is more the case in the description of old Saturn. In comparison with the Old Moon, there is also movement, but it is not one of pure reason or a form of logic, but rather a sequence of events that are related through their inwardness and not by any form of outer description. Thus Saturn, with its description of the origin of the physical, is very different from that of the Sun and by all means different from that of the Old Moon. As for the Earth, one has the sense of movement that is in space but is much more in time, which weaves from past to future and from future into the past. Spatiality is spoken to on Earth evolution, but must be kept quite mobile. Not until the latter part of Earth evolution do we become a little more anchored, and even then we are in continual movement, which becomes the movement through the evolution of thinking and feeling and willing in the form of culture. So the etheric of Old Sun is set quite in its own domain and stands there in a singular fashion to be contemplated.

Another aspect of the etheric, as it is often given in evolution, is that it is very close to the nature of light. On Old Sun the ether is what one could call totipotential: it will allow evolution of other forms, so that it is not purely light but contains elements of warmth, tone, and life. It seems, from most of the cosmological descriptions, that the ether we speak of on Old Sun is most likely best described as a light in the element of warmth. The light ether that is evolved later is the outcome of evolution and will not be of that nature to begin with.

For the most part, the etheric is considered to be very much connected with what is alive and living. “Life forces,” then, can be used again in a synonymous way to describe the etheric. However, as we know from following the evolution of the etheric, life ether is a further evolution of the etheric very much conditioned by the events of Earth evolution.

Formative forces have also been used to describe the etheric but, again, the etheric is transformative more than formative. The life involved in transformations, as for example in a chemical reaction, is very much connected with the etheric. There one can say that a kind of guided activity occurs, and it is a process in movement and a movement which, unless directed, will equilibrate and go into a rhythmical state or process. Again this is fundamental to the etheric. The transformative is another aspect of the etheric and is not necessarily formative.

The considerations of the etheric as something formative are essential when a high order of direction is considered and a form of special nature arises. Take, for example, a crystal. One can speak of the physical and its forces. These physical forces do not on their own give rise to the crystal form; a set of higher forces are here needed, though it is not the forces themselves which give the form. In this case, it is the etheric which can bring about the form of the physical in such a perfect fashion, but the form is again an expression of a higher principle than the etheric. Formative forces are often spoken of as life forces or etheric life forces or life ether forces, but specific formative forces are not life ether forces alone. Formative forces should most likely be considered a working of compound activities.

In considering etheric forces it is important to begin with the relation of the Christ to these forces. A beautiful image or meditation is given by Rudolf Steiner about the way in which the Christ lives in relation to these forces. In the imagination he gives in The Inner Realities, there is revealed in picture form, simple and anthropomorphic, how the Thrones sacrifice to the Cherubim to bring forth the ur-substance of the physical. It is in the contemplation of this sacrifice that the Spirits of Wisdom come to their creative impulse to bestow by grace that which is their essence–that is, light of etheric nature. What the Spirits of Wisdom give through Grace is received by the Spirits of Fire or Fire Spirits or Archangels, the messengers of the beginning. The Spirits of Wisdom can be thought of as in the center of the cosmos, and the Archangels at the periphery. The Archangels gather the wisdom substance, which is transformed by them into light. This light-life, etheric substance, is then given back. At the center, light is gathered by the Christ to be preserved and carried to the earth at a later time. There, at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, it was to be interwoven into all that is visible in the living world. When this living world is taken up as, for example, in the act of cognition or in consuming food, this Christ Light is to be taken up as well. Thus, the Last Supper is an outer picture of this mighty event that began on the Sun and can now be found imbuing the earth with new life-light, in the act of common activity.

In the contemplation of the etheric, it is of the greatest import to consider its evolution, its transformation into higher states. One might say it has the possibility of involution–that is, going into ever higher forms. How and where does this occur? Often there is the prototype of the process of the transformation of warmth to air, air to water, and finally water to solid. The evolution of the world as given by Rudolf Steiner speaks in a very outward way to this process. In fact, he says that his book, Occult Science, is wrapped in Maya. Nonetheless, this book is a treasure and essential to the schooling on an occult path. This path is a very definite and significant path. It is not a mystical path. It is not a path that goes inward to the deepest of inwardness as in the manner of the mystic. The Inner Realities of Evolution is written more from a mystical point of view, but again and again the mystical in these lectures is transformed into the occult, the objective, by Rudolf Steiner’s method of training. It is the thought content that gives the depth and the inwardness of the mystic. This inwardness, depth, and mystical trend always gives and faithfully renders in thought form. The non-thinking mystic will be struck by all the thinking and at first will find it all very cold in comparison with his feeling with emotions, which are often full of impulses and superficial warmth. The warmth of the spirit that has suffered through trials and crucifixions on the path of thought will be unknown to the mystic. He, the non-thinking mystic, will turn his back in the most supercilious fashion, with a chill that is judgmental and definitive, for he considers his to be the only way. That one has to first carry the chill of the intellect, which can then take one through the many experiences of death that underlie thinking, is not known to the non-thinking mystic or the lazy person who is not willing to spend years to find that in his intellectual-thinking faculty lies the means to begin a path to the spirit. It is much easier to say that one will wait for everything to be given and revealed. The fire of the spirit, the enthusiasm that can arise out of strenuous and quiet thought work, is unknown and will never be known unless the simple feeling-soul will be willing to stand on his spiritual feet. He will have to try to walk a path that is full of trials and disappointments, all the time asking for the grace of new thoughts and for the strength to find the method of walking in the world of ideas. There other souls have trodden a path that is more selfless than our own. As mathematics is a perfect example of the purity of thought raised from the level of mysticism to that of clear and concise activity where each can partake and find an objective basis for association, so too the thought work to be done by the thinking mystic bears a clarity and the objectivity of the occultist so that a social life in clear thought can unfold. Whatever the case, Occult Science: An Outline is suited to give a firm basis in matters occult and at the same time give the inwardness in the form of thoughts, which, deeply inward, have to be worked at for some years until they become alive and warmed.

Whatever the case, if one is willing to struggle along for some years, often in loneliness, to find the experience of light through darkness in the world of thought–not the small inner light of the mystic, but one which tends to force one to the deeper questions about the etheric, then one also has to ask how the ether comes to its higher form. In this regard much work is needed and much pioneering. One might say that the line of thought that has to be followed to find the process of etheric evolution or involution may be one that is pointed out to us in Occult Science. We have to try quietly to keep thinking as we use Occult Science as an outline. In this treatise, space is left for us to become active and creative. By taking some or a few indications from Rudolf Steiner, I should like to try to follow a line of thought about this matter of how the etheric is transformed in cosmological history, to see how higher ether forms come into existence.

In Occult Science, there is a simple indication that, in the interval between Sun and Moon evolutions, the etheric has gone through an evolution of its own. This interval, according to older eastern tradition, is called Pralaya. This short quote runs, “For in the interval of rest the etheric body itself has undergone an evolution to which they (the physical bodies) are not yet adapted (p. 138).” And so now, at the beginning of the Moon evolution, another repetition of the Saturn events takes place, in order to achieve this adaptation. This means to me that something has occurred in the state of sleep or rest as far as the outer events of cosmic evolution are concerned. In this state of sleep or involution, there is a process occurring that affects the etheric, but this cannot be taken up at the same time that the book is speaking of the evolution of the Earth. Here when one is speaking of the evolution of the Earth, it would be necessary to add the process of involution when speaking about the etheric. This process of inwardizing an outward process speaks to the activity of the etheric. There is, of course, an inwardness that belongs to the astral of our being, but this is not the process of involution. The inward process of the astral would have to be spoken of more as a moral process. There may well be evolutionary and involutionary processes with the astral, but the involution process of the astral is connected with moral development. Evolutionary processes of the astral are more connected with soul-organizational forms: sentient-, intellectual- and consciousness-soul.

Now what is the involutional process in the etheric? Can we look at our own state of sleep to find any clue? I think we might try. In sleep our higher members are received into another world. If one says this, then by analogy one can say that the etheric could be a potential higher member. Then we must also say that the etheric can be drawn into the higher world; it can be taken up by higher spiritual beings. Do we have any indication that the etheric goes through such a process? Yes, we do from Rudolf Steiner. In the spiritual scientific studies of Rudolf Steiner, there is the indication that the Nathan Jesus had a temporary ego that was of an etheric nature. This points to the possibility that the etheric can be developed in the process of involution so that it comes into ever higher forms. Finally, it can become ego-like. It can become like the being of an ego, yet work as an etheric life element. If one looks at the indications given by Rudolf Steiner about the Nathan Jesus, one has the story of a Sun-like being who radiates goodness and carries the forces that bring men together and, at the same time, heal. Wisdom is not the quality of the Nathan Jesus, but simplicity and the capacity to work as a simple man (a carpenter) and carry tremendous forces of goodness and healing. Slowly the etheric element which, as light, radiates out into space and in fact creates space, can go through an involutionary development that permits a metamorphosis into forces of life and form. The etheric as life and formative activity would be a living ego-like entity. Thus, one might say that in the Pralaya period of evolution, the etheric in the sleep of the worlds has become ever more refined and ego-like, and therefore one can say that higher forms have to be found. This is actually the case where Rudolf Steiner speaks of the ethers as light ether, tone-chemical ether, and life or formative ether. It can be then seen that in the time of Pralaya one is dealing with events where the outer events of the world–the outer events of the Sun–are not visible. A deeper seer than one who can follow the outer Sun process is needed. As John carried the evolution of the outer Sun process, it is the Christ who reveals the nature of the inner Sun process. Christ carries the revelation of the secrets of the etheric world. His revelation is then to come as we have behind us the revelation of the outer Sun and the Earth evolutions. The inner nature, the Pralaya nature, is yet to come. Of course, Rudolf Steiner was trying to lay a basis for this, and his Occult Science is a first necessary step.

Going back to the Sun evolution, we can say that etheric in the form of totipotential ether substance was given. This was like light, but also was not far from warmth in its ur-state. Between Sun and Moon this substance went through an evolution or involution where a first refinement could be made. Spiritual beings were active in Pralaya to transform a light element into one of tone. The light has to begin to tone, to resound, to sound. This is not yet world process, but it is on the way to this stage. Between the Moon and Earth evolutions, in the sleep of worlds, again higher spiritual beings were able to make another transformation in the nature of the etheric. This etheric is called “life ether” or “word ether” or “meaning ether.” It is the form of ether that can work not only to bring about changing conditions in the world, but also to bring about forms that remain. These forms then show the activity of the Creative Word. Again we hear that it is the Christ who is the bringer of the Creative Word. The Christ is the bringer of those forces that permit something of the earth to assume a permanency. Only then can there be a Name, which means that something of the highest world can become evident in the physical world. The word points to the naming of something. The word permits that the name can be hallowed. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” This naming process is nothing but the effort to see all that is created in the image of the Divine, in the image of the Father. The word, and particularly the Creative Word, points to those forces of creation, of earthly forms, which can be named in order that the Name can be hallowed. The Christ can direct man to pray in order that his creative work permit a form to be word-related, named. This then can be hallowed in the Name of the Father God.

Therefore, we have to consider the role of the Christ as essential in our considerations of those forces that go through involution during the sleep state of the cosmos. His association with these forces permits the metamorphoses, but also permits us to speak of hallowing of the Name in the light of the Father principle. However, it is up to us to live creatively as thinkers with the materials of a spiritual science in order to come to appreciate this domain and the work of the higher spiritual world in relation to the etheric. We have to become creative, we have to reason in a creative way. What Rudolf Steiner has given is a beginning; it is up to us to work on, quietly, slowly, and with the sense that we will be given the thoughts or ideas needed as a matter of grace.

If we have busied ourselves with the sleep state of the Worlds and have come to the possible consideration that the etheric evolves or in-volves, then we have to ask what occurs with the outer evolution of the cosmos or the world. What occurs as we see the physical world emerge out of sleep? To begin with, we are given the description of the perceptible world coming forth in ever more condensed forms. That is, during Saturn, the physical was in a warmth state, and on Sun, the physical was in an airy state. During Moon, the Earth was in a watery state. Finally, only during the latter part of the Earth evolution did the solid form arise. Now, of interest is the fact that Rudolf Steiner reveals that it is the etheric principles which govern the states of materiality. As is well known, we generally do not pay too much attention to the state of matter. We leave it to our childish Greek friends or our ancient Indian friends to consider the existence of the states of matter. The states of matter or the four elements, as formerly spoken of, are once more spoken to by Rudolf Steiner, and he thereby tells us that our former cultures actually grasped something that we are missing. What we are missing is the relation of the etheric to the physical. We know that materiality has gone through an evolution. This becomes apparent when Rudolf Steiner reveals that the original essence of materiality of the physical is of a moral nature. In his description of Saturn, he takes pains to tell of the being and activity of the Spirits of Will who give of their substance, the substance of courage. This substance goes through stages of unfoldment so that finally what is of an astral-moral nature–that is, courage, gradually becomes warmth substance of a physical nature. This ur-warmth substance then goes through many conditions as evolution progresses, and this then permits that we have so many of the present-day chemical elements. This ur-substance and the many elements only can come forth as evolution progresses. The many elements we have today one can say have been drawn out of “living matter.” Matter can also exist in different states as, for example, sulfur or water, which can exist as solid, liquid, or gas. To separate out the state of matter and the matter as substance requires a much more awake consciousness. The state of materiality is arrived at by thinking, but not so the primal matter or substance. We can be passive in our concern for the substance, but not in relation to the four states of matter. To grasp the states, we must think on what is to be perceived even if we continually have the four elements around us. The four elements or the states are like the most obvious for the occultist, but the most hidden for the ordinary man. The perceptive faculty connected with ordinary intellectual consciousness makes us look away from what we can behold. We tend to place the concrete forms of intellectual constructs before our very eyes. We do not truly observe what lies in front of us. Just think on our atomic phantoms, which we project into the objects around us. The faculty to perceive the states about us now requires an awakening. We have to awaken to stop our thought process and to bring more consciousness to the activity of observation. The light of consciousness must pass out of the mind, as it were, and into the organs of sense, but not to be lost there. The light of consciousness must be held to be able to mingle with the light of day. This would seem to me to be the acquisition of an awakening through the senses that is not a falling to sleep. This awakening can be accomplished by following indications by Rudolf Steiner. There are forces within the physical, embryonic forces that have gone into sleep consciousness while we have come to awaken to intellectual activity and to the capacity to abstract and to create symbols. We have fallen asleep to the forces that have created the senses. To awaken to them means a new awakening in the sphere of the senses. This awakening has to occur if the four states of materiality are to lead us into another relation with the world. To help us in this journey, Rudolf Steiner has described evolution in relation to the four states of matter. By this means we train ourselves to look at what can be taken up by the senses, and, at the same time, we can think into the etheric, which gives the states of matter. The eye can grasp the physical, but the eye of the mind has to grasp the ether that brings about the states of materiality. Here matter and its conditions unite, as the activity of the eye and the eye of the mind become wed: a truly Holy Wedding. Here passivity of soul is needed for the creative working of the senses. This must unite with the active but stilled soul. The wedding of these two soul faculties is a uniting in spirit.

After these brief considerations of the role of the etheric in establishing the states of materiality, we have also said that the etheric that has gone through an ascending process has come to play a visible role in the world around us. This involuted development of the etheric is the etheric that is taken with the course of the sun or is to remain under the influence of the sun and the guiding Spirits of the sun. This is the inner sun which shines in sleep, not the outer physical sun. There is a development of the etheric which does not go the way of the inner sun, but goes the path of devolution or of densification.

How does this devolving etheric come about? Here one has to consider what occurs in the evolutionary path as the element of the astral is poured into evolution during the Old Moon period. The astral, soon after being given over to evolution by the Spirits of Movement, begins to go through the tension between Pralaya and the outer evolutionary process. By means of this tension, one may consider that the activity of sympathy and antipathy develops as a fundamental activity of the astral, wherein the sun-tendency and the Pralayas of Old Moon evolution results in the pull of the astral, at one time towards the sun-tendency and Pralayas and then towards the more pure moon-tendency. The turning away from the Pralaya state gives rise to the fundamental activity of antipathy and the turning towards the Pralaya state gives rise to the sympathetic activity so characteristic of the astral. Moon evolution progresses and, as the astral turns away from the Sun to form an activity that is more inward and directed to the Moon, the Sun, as the Sun, withdraws from the Moon directly. This astral, during the Moon influence, becomes subject to the forces of the etheric that are at work on this Moon body. The etheric at work there is that of the light and chemical ethers. Through the influence of these two ethers, the astral develops into a two-sided activity known as a kind of cosmic sentient-soul- and cosmic intellectual-soul-like activity. The astral that rises to the sun, then, is more of the nature of the Spirit-self.The beginning of the Moon evolution, I would think, brings forth the higher form of the etheric. As Moon progresses, the lower form or the light ether emerges. The astral formed by the etheric (light and tone ethers), then, is of a soul-like nature, but is cosmic: it is not individual or human sentient or intellectual soulness. The higher and involuting etheric, which tends to follow the higher form of development–that is, always towards the Spirits of Wisdom, tends to remain with the progression of the Sun, which gradually withdraws from the Moon. There is a time when the higher evolving or the involuting etheric is once more poured into the entire Moon evolution so that all is penetrated by “living wisdom.” Here the etheric, which is being transformed by the Spirit of Wisdom, is once more astralized. This astralized etheric can be poured into evolution as an etheric of a light nature, but one that has gone through an evolutionary and involutionary process to return to the beingness of the Spirits of Wisdom. This light and tone ether that remains with the Sun can then ray out towards the moon globe where spiritual being can experience it as toning-light. If one tries to follow this line of thought, then one comes to the realization that the etheric has two tendencies: one is to follow a development that unfolds during Pralaya and the other is to follow the course of evolution where the astral, when poured into evolution, results in an etheric unfolding removed from the Sun. This latter unfolding is the development out of the higher state that is introduced at the outset of each evolutionary period. In this way, the etheric then comes under an astral influence, with the result that the etheric begins a transformation that leads not from lower to higher states, but from the higher to the lower.

This development of the etheric as a result of the inflowing of the astral, I shall call devolution when referring to the etheric. Why do I suggest this? It is because it can be found that there is a period in Earth evolution when the etheric condenses from light ether to warmth ether. Warmth ether is not the original state of the etheric. Light is more the original state, although at times it is difficult to differentiate from the etheric condition of the physical warmth on Old Saturn. At the outset of Earth evolution, as Earth, the etheric which is interdigitated into cosmic unfolding is in the form of life ether. This life ether, with a considerable possibility of totipotentialness, can go through a condensation or a densification process. In Occult Science there is every suggestion that life ether appears first. This life ether is imbedded into the warmth state of the physical; the physical is alive. Out of this living physical, life is withdrawn. Tone ether unfolds out of the life ether. Then light ether unfolds and finally, out of light ether, warmth ether condenses. This process is described in the following passage: “Finally, in the moment when the etheric body condenses still more, so as to become–from a light body–a fire body, or a body of warmth, the stage in evolution is reached when the solid earth element begins to be incorporated in the human being. Having condensed to fire, the etheric body can now unite by virtue of the forces of the physical body that has been implanted in it–with the substances of the physical Earth which are rarified to the stage of fire.” From this you can see that the etheric does not begin as warmth ether. Warmth ether is a final stage of the ether before the physical of the earth can be incorporated into the human form. Before that, the human being did have a form which was threefold, but it contained no earth substance. It was a purely cosmic living etheric form. It could be described as having a head sense-system or form, a rhythmic form, and a metabolic form, but not a true limb-system form. The human form as an etheric-astral being would have to be contemplated. This would be something like the lion, eagle, and bull with the form of man as a faint gesture behind. This is then a cosmic etheric form that has to incorporate the physical, which comes about through the Fall.

The etheric was to have been an entity which should have evolved through involution into ever higher and higher forms. Life ether is at this time the highest form of the etheric that we know on earth, but there are still higher forms to come. One can, with a little contemplation, realize that if the etheric would have continued to evolve in its involutionary process, the physical would have gradually been deserted. Thus a compensatory process of devolution or condensation had to come about for the further evolution of the physical world–in fact, for the cosmos connected with the earth. It was for this reason that the creative powers permitted spiritual beingness to stay behind while some of the creation could rush ahead for the sake of eternity. What stayed behind made it possible for a whole group of spiritual beings to enter into the evolutionary process of the world. These beings are called Luciferic. It is they who stayed behind, as was the case with substances of physical and etheric nature. This was of particular import during the stage of Moon evolution. The beings born into the retarded Sun substance were Luciferic beings, and it is they who then took hold of the etheric substance at the outset of Earth evolution. They took hold of this substance (the etheric) so that it remained more in its original state, a state of light warmth substance. At the outset of Earth evolution, then, the etheric which had gone through a higher development as tone and life ether was taken hold of by Luciferic beings, and out of life, tone ether was condensed. Further, out of tone ether, light ether is condensed, and finally out of light ether, warmth ether is condensed. What is at work for this condensation process is not only the Luciferic Spirits, but the Elohim beings who later come to work as the Christ. Spirits of Form as Jahve beings work for this process as well as Luciferic beings. Only when the etheric is in the state of warmth ether can the physical be drawn up into it. Only then is the human ego born for the first time.

As the Luciferic spirits work to condense the etheric and the Christ-Jahve spirits also, there comes a time in cosmic activity when it was agreed that Ahriman or retarded spirits from Saturn would take hold of the etheric. The Luciferic spirits are given charge of the astral nature of man in the cosmos. This exchange with the spiritual activities of Lucifer and Ahriman takes place with a working together of the Elohim who take their rightful place for the sake of the earth and the other Elohim who tend the higher etheric nature of the Sun. In Spiritual Science it is revealed that the Christ spirit, I take it as evolving Elohim, takes hold of the higher etheric (tone and life ethers) to form a purely etheric egolike cosmic being known as Adam Kadmon. This is related in the Gospel Cycles. In the Luke Gospel it is revealed that the Christ-Elohim takes the tone and life ether into the sphere of the Sun to preserve an aspect of the Sun for further states of development. This higher etheric is in an evolutionary process and is transformed to come to serve in the domain of the Sophia, the sphere of Adam Kadmon. How does this happen?

Let it be considered that as the ethers evolve into higher states, they do so within the being of the Spirits of Wisdom. The Spirits of Wisdom work together with the other hierarchical beings to evolve the etheric, for the sake of the highest of the Spiritual Worlds, for the sake of the Godhead. The Spirits of Love work together with the Spirits of Wisdom in the ever-refining etheric when man uses his soul forces so that he can become a Lover of Wisdom. This is an evolutionary process in the etheric, whereby man as a physical soul-spiritual being works together with the hierarchical orders to bring about changes within the ether world for the sake of the highest of spiritual beingness. In the case of the Spirits of Will, the Spirits of Wisdom work together in the higher ether spheres with humankind to bring about wisdom of humankind, Anthroposophia. And, finally, the Spirits of Harmony work together with the Spirits of Wisdom so that man can bring forth a Sophia of Theos: Theosophia. The Sophias through man–Philosophia, Anthroposophia, and Theosophia, I can contemplate as the outcome of man’s thought-will activity with the first Hierarchy in association with the second Hierarchy, the Spirits of Wisdom, to work in the higher ether worlds for the sake of the Godhead. In the case of the Holy or Divine Sophia, I take it that the entire Spiritual Hierarchical World was at work so that ether-wisdom substance was available for the birth of the Son in the sphere of the Father-Spirit. The Spirits of Form, in particular, became the Beings at work for the etheric development which permitted the Spirits of Wisdom of the second Hierarchy to carry the etheric substance to the sphere of the Father of World, so that an Only Begotton Son could come into existence.

On the other side of evolution or devolution, the etheric elements are given over to the Spiritual beings who are of an Ahrimanic nature. It was these beings who devolve the etheric into a further and further subearthly state. It is then the Ahrimanic beings who give rise to the subearthly elements or forces known as gravity, magnetism, and electricity. Ahrimanized life ether is gravitational force. Ahrimanized tone ether is magnetism, and Ahrimanized light ether is electricity. Here one can say that the retarded Spirits from Saturn are at work bringing the etheric into the physical. These beings are still at their Saturn stage of development during the Earth phase of Earth evolution. They invest the physical with an etheric which they have rendered below the level of life; that is, they have brought about a death state by investing the physical with forces which are taken out of the true ether world. This renders the physical subject to forces other than the true forces of the ether which would be ones which are at work in the four states of matter and the etheric states connected therewith. This etheric matter that is Ahrimanized into the subearthly ethers is the basis for true death of humankind and, at the same time, the possibility for error.