The Etheric Body and its four divisions, Part 1/2

‘THE ETHERIC BODY is made of physical matter, but physical matter so subtle that we can neither see nor touch it with our senses. As I have already said so often, we don’t really know even the physical world: we imagine that there is nothing more to it than matter in a solid, liquid, gaseous or igneous state.
No, these are only the crudest and most inferior dimensions of the physical world. Matter is far richer and far subtler than this, for it includes also the etheric dimension, to which there are also four divisions.

  • The first layer of the etheric body is known to Initiatic Science as ‘chemical ether’. It is this first division that governs the physical functions of growth and elimination, and it corresponds to the element earth.
  • The second layer, called ‘vital ether’, is of a subtler nature and corresponds to water. The layer of vital ether makes possible the functions of procreation and gives the body physical sensitivity, the power to feel pain and so on.
  • Next, on a much higher level, comes the ‘etheric light’, which sustains the warmth and vitality of the physical body and, more important still, is the seat of perceptions
  • and finally the fourth layer, known as ‘reflective ether’, is the seat of memory. It is here, in this etheric layer, that every event in a person’s life, all his or her thoughts, feelings and actions, are recorded.

It is here, too, that the germ is to be found in which all the faculties and qualities of a body in the process of being formed are stored.

In actual fact, the germs or seeds of the different bodies – the physical, etheric, astral and mental germs – are all connected with each other, because they follow on from and communicate with each other. You can see evidence of this in the fact that a thought does not remain confined to your mental body but communicates with the adjacent realm of emotion, feelings, desires and passions, that is with the astral body; and from the astral body it is communicated to the etheric and, finally, to the physical body, and at that point you put your thought into effect. As you see, everything is all of a piece..’
To be continued…

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov,
Izvor Book 209, Christmas and Easter in the Initiatic Tradition

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