Etheric forebone

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The etheric forebone. Drawing from GA 266b, p. 119

The etheric forebone, occasionally also called the elementary backbone by Rudolf Steiner (Lit.:GA 147, p. 65f), a kind of second spinal column, is an etheric organ which in future will be formed at the front of the human being as a counterpart and complement to the backbone, with which it will later join to form a closed system. Through spiritual training, if it is done in the right way, this development is already anticipated to a certain extent today (Lit.:GA 266b, p. 119).

The forebone, which descends in front from the head, is organised by the joint activity of the epiphysis and the pituitary gland and already announces itself today in the chain of lotus flowers, which are, however, not etheric but astral organs. These soul organs, which are formed and activated in the astral body through meditation, imprint themselves in the etheric body and thus gradually form the forebone. It lies behind the sternum, which, however, man will no longer have in the 7th post-Atlantean age, when the forebone reaches maturity.

„The currents, which generally lie in the etheric body, result in their interaction in such a structure, which lies forward in the human being, as in the physical body lie backward the bone formations of the backbone with the spinal canal. In the physical body we have this vertically running backbone with the spinal canal, and in the etheric body we have a flowing together, a radiating together in a kind of counter-backbone, which, however, if we look at the physical body, lies on the front side of the human being. And just as the nerve cords, but also, for example, the rib bones, emanate from the physical spine, so the radiations and currents mentioned run in the etheric body in such a way that they do not now emanate from this counter-spine, but flow together in it, so to speak, and work together with all that they have at the front of the human etheric body. This gives an immensely beautiful, magnificent, tremendous etheric organ, which, however, consists especially in a glittering, luminous, resounding, in all kinds of heat effects discharging, but also inwardly speaking entity, and which reveals itself especially in this way during the sleeping state of man. And if you look more closely, you will get an idea of how this organ then permeates that which I have characterised as lotus flowers. So that you can see how through this organ, which, flowing together from the etheric body, produces itself and then forms the lotus flowers with the currents of the astral body, how through this organ the human being continues to find his connection with the outer astral, cosmic world.“ (Lit.:GA 224, p. 40f)

In the course of this development, the ability to heal wounds is increased by the better organised activity of the etheric body; however, infirmities of the physical body, which were previously concealed, can now break out, causing certain pain and suffering.

Moral firmness and a strong I are necessary so that this forebone can develop in the right way.

„It must be emphasised that the formation of the lotus flowers, which crystallise, as it were, in the spiritual body of the developing clairvoyant, can also take place - but should not take place - with the disregard of the moral tonics. These lotus flowers must be there if man is to have the ability to transform himself, for the latter consists in the lotus flowers unfolding their leaves in movement away from man and embracing the spiritual world, clinging to it. What one develops as the ability to transform is expressed for clairvoyant vision in the unfolding of the lotus flowers. What one develops as a strengthened sense of self is inner firmness, which one could call an elementary backbone. One must have developed both accordingly: Lotus flowers, that one can transform oneself, and something similar to a backbone in the physical world, an elementary backbone, so that one can develop one's intensified I in the elementary world.“ (Lit.:GA 147, p. 64f)

If the moral development is insufficient, the elementary backbone and the system of lotus flowers very easily becomes a point of attack for the adversary powers:

„Just as it has already been mentioned that that which - developed in a spiritual way - can lead to high virtues in the spiritual world, if allowed to flow down into the sense world, can lead to the strongest vices, so it is also with regard to the lotuses and the elementary backbone. It is also possible to awaken the lotuses and the elemental backbone by certain actions without seeking moral firmness, but no conscientious clairvoyant will recommend this. The moment one crosses the threshold to the spiritual world, one comes close to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings in quite a different way from the way one encounters them in the physical-sensual world. And one experiences the peculiar thing, as soon as one has crossed the threshold, that is, as soon as one has lotus flowers and a backbone, that one immediately sees the Luciferic powers approaching. These have the ambition to seize the leaves of the lotus flowers. They stretch out their tentacles towards our lotus blossoms, and one must have developed in the right way so that one uses these lotus blossoms to grasp spiritual processes and that they are not grasped by Luciferic powers. But this is only possible if one ascends into the spiritual world with the fortification of the moral forces. I have already indicated that in the physical-sensuous world the ahrimanic forces approach man more from without, the luciferic forces more from within the soul. In the spiritual world it is the other way round: there the Luciferic entities come from without and want to seize the lotuses, and the Ahrimanic entities come from within and establish themselves in the elementary backbone. And now, if one has not ascended in morality into the spiritual world, the ahrimanic and the luciferic powers form a strange alliance with each other. If one has ascended with ambition, vanity, with a lust for power, with pride, then Ahriman and Lucifer succeed in making a covenant with each other. I will use an image for what Lucifer and Ahriman do, but this image corresponds to reality. Lucifer and Ahriman tie the leaves of the lotus flowers to the elementary backbone. All the leaves of the lotuses are tied together with the elementary backbone, man is tied up in himself, bound up in himself by his developed lotuses and by his elementary backbone. And the result is that a degree of egoism and degree of love of delusion enters which are quite unthinkable when man merely stands still in the physical world.“ (Lit.:GA 147, p. 65f)

The formation of the forebone is related to the process of memory formation. This is based on the fact that on the one hand a stream of etherised blood flows up from the heart and plays around the pineal gland, which now emits these forces like fine rays of light. On the other hand, a second etheric current flows upwards with the lymph fluid from the lower organism to the pituitary gland. Memory is formed by balancing the tension between these two currents and absorbing what is to be remembered into the depths of the organism. This also applies to those forces that are stored up in the organs for the next incarnation. In conventional memory formation, what is first imprinted on the etheric body is passed on to the physical body. This does not happen with spiritual training. All the forces remain in the etheric body, are strengthened and thus make the etheric body a suitable living organ of reflection through which the experiences of the lotus flowers can become conscious.


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