One of the greatest gifts Steiner has given us is the associations he made between the elements of protein and the spiritual bodies they carry into physical matter. This is one major meeting point between spirit and matter. The four elements of protein, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon are the basis of all organic chemistry and hence physical life.

Carbon, the basis of structure, is the seat of the physical form, Oxygen, the basis of life carries the Etheric body, while Nitrogen carries the Astral body providing sensation and Hydrogen carries the Ego which provides consciousness. Sulphur is a lubricator that helps these four basic element s combine into more complex substances. (18, lect. 2) Seen from this perspective, chemistry takes on a whole new light. What follows is that only where these elements exist is it possible for these bodies to go.

Therefore the chemical characteristics of any 'environment' suggest the potential spiritual activity of that environment. Steiner states "The composition of the external atmosphere is of such a nature as to furnish the ratio for the connection between the astral and etheric bodies and concurrently between their partners, the physical body and the ego" (6, pg 157)

The internalised bodies can be characterised as follows:

As androgyny is still a rare occurrence amongst humans, so the basic level of polarity, level 2, remains an externalised function and we need male and female to come together to produce primary creation.

The Physical body is easily identified and anything that has physical substance has a physical body. It is localised to the planet Earth and as such our physical environment would be its seat. We are all Carbon based life forms. Steiner also pointed out how our physical bodies function according to a threefold system. Our head centres the activities of the Nerve Sense system, our chest centres the Rhythmic system and our abdomen centres our metabolic system. This threefold process links the modes of Astrology and level three of the Astrological model to the physical body and the physical earth.

The Etheric Body

The Etheric body along with the other bodies, is not so easily seen. However the activities of these bodies leaves their mark or expression visually. The Etheric body is the 'spiritual' body that imbues life and the capacity to grow and develop into all living forms. It comes from the Earth and has a potentially unlimited capacity to create growth. This is one aspect of the CHI body of Eastern philosophies.

It drives or energises the movement of fluids in general, which leads to the formation of mass in physical forms and supports the lympathic and immune system of physical organisms. When the Etheric body leaves a living entity, death occurs. It provides a physical sensation of being up or down. When your Etheric body is strong you are full of life. Often a white glow spreading up to 4 inches from the physical body will be seen when an individuals Etheric body is strong. When it is weak you feel physically down and heavy. The individual with a weak Etheric body looks grey and feels drained.

The Etherics raw activity can be seen strongly in the first stages of growth where there are unshaped forms, for example in the first few months of a baby's life or the early stages of plant development. The early leaves of many plants are full and round and repetitive in comparison to the more adult leaves that are often indented and pointed. It produces watery shapes and curved forms.

The mineral kingdom cannot undergo this change through a death process as the Etheric body stays exterior. It remains as atmospheric forces of light heat and water. The Etheric body is only embodied by plant, animal and human. Crystals may appear to be an exception however they grow from additions to the outside of their form.

The Etheric body is carried by Oxygen. Around our planet oxygen is found in large quantities close to the surface and in diminishing quantities through up to the Ionosphere. At the cross over between the Stratosphere and the Ionosphere we meet it again as Ozone (O3). The Ozone layer we know shields us from many harmful cosmic rays most notably Ultra Violet and Gamma rays. These are mostly reflected off this shield enabling life to continue on Earth. While Oxygen is found in space and on other planets, it is usually chemically locked up and not free in the atmosphere. While I have not found many supporting quotes from Steiner I have come to conclude that the Earth's Etheric sphere extends out to the edge of the Ozone layer. Hence this sheath being our life sheath and as it disappears so life on Earth is threatened.

Steiner commented that the Etheric extended to the edge of the Blue sky which I understand to be approximately to the Ionosphere sheath. It is also interesting to note that Light and Warmth are developed from the Suns energy moving through our atmosphere. Karl Konig (7) suggests the four electro-magnetic belts within the Ionosphere are the seat of the Ethers. These belts are placed at 45kms, 100kms, 200kms and 300kms above the Earth. He was tentative in his suggestions however it does fit with Rudolf Steiner's comments. This leads to an interesting picture.

As stated earlier the Atmosphere was created from the life processes of this planet and is the seat of the Etheric. As such it is associated with the Elements sphere of Astrology and hence fourfold processes.

Within the Etheric realm four 'formative forces' or ethers have been identified. These are named the Warmth, Light , Chemical and Life ethers. Each of these ethers has a intimate and polaric relationship with the physical elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth respectively, to lift physical matter into specific living forms. (5)











The Etheric sphere resides within our atmosphere the Ethers find their manifesting source in the 4 belts of the Ionosphere. Below this we have the Ozone layer and below this is the Stratosphere which is where the Elements reside. This develops the picture of the Ozone layer acting as a membrane between these two inner spheres of the Etheric body

Ionosphere - Ethers

__________________ Ozone layer

Stratosphere- Elements

The ethers are 'based' in the Ionosphere while the elements of Fire Air Water and Earth are 'based' from the Stratosphere down. The Ozone layer acts as a membrane between the two.

The Astral Body

The Astral Body imbues the physical and life form with sensation and movement. Commonly called the sense body, the Astral enables the living forms to experience their environment through taste, smell, touch and sound. From this sensation, the entity can then determine whether it feels good to be at that point or not. There is an 'animal' intelligence ( instinct ) carried by the Astral, which responds to stimuli - Does it feel good or not? The Astral body is also necessary for waking and sleeping to take place. Only animal and human kingdoms can experience awakening and sleep. In this sense the plant kingdom is in a constant state of 'human' sleep. Plant processes just sped up and slowed down according to the external stimuli of hot\cold, light\dark, wet\dry.

The Astral is associated with the element of Air and light. Its hallmarks in the animal kingdom are the degree of sensitivity and movement the animal possesses as well as the ability to internalise the breathing, the formation of true organs and their reactions to light.

In the plant world the Astral's influence is still present, however it works onto the plants from outside. The degree of leaf segregation, flowering and the development of poisonous nitrogen alkaloids and proteins, leads to hints of the strength of the Astral's activity. The Solanance and Legume families are two which draw the Astral activity closely into themselves. Hence their poisonous hallucinogenic effects. The states of consciousness some substances from these families produce in Humans are experiences of the Astral realm.

In Humans, the Astral influences the formation of the organs and the processes as in animals, however it also makes its presence felt through our psychological sphere. Emotions, dreams, imaginations and 'psychological ' swings are all related to the Astral body's activity.

The Astral body resides cosmically in the spheres of the planets. As such it has a sevenfold character and is influenced strongly by the movement of the planets. The seven energy centres of the body referred to as the Chakras are 'organs ' of the Astral body.

Spirit / Ego

The Ego (the spirit ) imbues the sensitive life form with intelligence and individuality. As separate from the dream consciousness of the astral intelligence -instinct, Ego intelligence is related to processes of thought and deduction, as well as remembering and forgetting, processes that enable its recipient to consciously determine action and response. Once the response has been determined, the Ego imparts the degree of commitment by which the action is carried out. Through this action body heat is created indicating the Ego's relationship to the element of Fire and the Warmth ether.

The Humans are the only kingdom presently with the potential to internalise this body. This bestows upon us the potential fro self consciousness and to make free choice with regards to the sensations and instincts the Astral body experiences. The degree this free choice is actually exercised may indicate the individual's stage of 'spiritual' awareness.

In the other kingdoms of nature the Ego still works from outside, as a collective function or group soul. In animals the group soul is evident in the flock of sheep or birds, the school of fish and the pack of dogs. In both animals and plants the species firmly connects the individual plant to the collective Ego which resides as a Cosmic level in the Fixed Stars.

With Humans internalising the Ego, our connection through race and blood ties are allowed to begin to breakdown. We become spiritual individuals able to form associations through ideology, faith and individual preference, irrespective of race and blood background.

These are the four major aspects which influence life's functions. In creation there is very little black and white and there are many shades of grey. In observing how various entities work with these four bodies , there are often occasions when an entity is in a grey area. Certain animals may seem very plant like, or almost human, while even humans can sometimes take on a plant quality.

We are therefore presented with the following picture :






 World Ego


 12 fold

 Fixed Stars


 World Astral

 Solar System

 7 fold



 World Etheric

 4 fold



 World Physical

  Life on Earth

 3 fold



With us having four bodies, we can use the Gyroscope to gain a further appreciation of how these bodies work together. The key this stage can be found through the bodies relationships to the four elements. Just as each body usesa chemical element to work into the physical substance, so it uses an element of the atmosphere to be carried into life at that level. The physical body works with the Earth element, the Etheric the water, the Astral body is carried in the Air while the Ego moves through the warmth or Fire element.

From here it can be surmised that that Ego and Physical body have a specific creative relationship and that the Astral and Etheric create a formative harmonic as well. As we will see and from Steiners writings we note this is in fact so. (see Astrological Science)

While these are the cosmic seats of the spiritual bodies, the four kingdoms each personalise the bodies in their own way.