„All organs are held in their form and shape by the currents and movements of the etheric body. The physical heart is based on an 'ether heart', the physical brain on an 'ether brain', etc. The etheric body is structured in the same way as the physical body, only more complicated, and in it everything is in lively confusion where in the physical body there are separate parts.“ (Lit.:GA 13, p. 57f)
Physical and Etheric Heart
The etheric heart is the "architect" of the physical heart.
„The human heart could never come into being in the form it has if there were not an etheric heart in the etheric body which pervades the physical body. This etheric heart contains certain forces and currents, and these are the builders, the architects, the formers of the physical heart. It is as if you were to imagine that you had a vessel with water; if you cool this water, hardenings, ice formations arise in it. What is ice there is water, only hardened, and the forms that the ice formations have were inside the water as lines of force. Thus the physical heart is formed out of the etheric heart, it is only a hardened etheric heart, and the currents of force in the etheric heart have given the physical heart its form.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 27)
As a rule, the physical heart lies somewhat to the left in the body, whereas the etheric heart lies on the right.
„The more we come downwards in the human form, the more the etheric body changes in relation to the physical form. Otherwise, however, left and right correspond in a certain way in the physical and etheric bodies. Somewhat to the left lies the physical heart; the corresponding organ in the etheric body is the etheric heart, which lies on the right.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 177f)
According to Rudolf Steiner], since the year 1721 the natural connection between the physical and the etheric heart has loosened. By about 2100 the etheric part will have completely separated from the physical heart.
„On the whole, man is a physical body embedded in an etheric body; we do not need to consider the rest today. But the intimacy of the connection - I do not mean the spatial covering, but the dynamic in the connection - changes in the course of the development of the earth, and the intimate relations between the etheric head and the human physical head, which existed, for example, in the centuries of which one speaks mainly when one speaks of Greek culture, these relations have no longer existed since the third century before Christ. Since the third century before Christ, the old connection of intimacy between the etheric head of man and the physical head has been lost. But a quite intimate connection between the human physical heart and the human etheric heart has always been maintained. But since the year 1721 the connection between the human physical heart and the etheric heart has, strangely enough, been loosening more and more. If I may say so: If the physical heart is there and the etheric heart is there (see drawing), it used to be more of a whole, now the etheric heart can be shaken etherically, it is no longer internally connected as dynamically as it used to be. Later, other organs of the human being will detach themselves from the etheric. But the fact that the heart is gradually detaching itself from its etheric part, and will have completely detached itself by the third millennium, by the time we write about 2100, is also something very significant in relation to human development. What constitutes it can be characterised in the following way. It must be said that it means that men have to seek another way, the way of spiritual life, for something that used to come naturally to them through the natural connection between the physical heart and the etheric heart. This etheric heart, detached from the physical heart, will only gain its right relationship to the spiritual world when man seeks spiritual knowledge, when man seeks anthroposophically oriented spiritual thoughts. This must be sought more and more.“ (Lit.:GA 190, p. 121ff)
Physical and Etheric Heart as Organs of Courage
„The courageous virtue comes, as one might say, from the heart. Of such a one as has this virtue in ordinary life, it may be said: he has his heart in the right place. - And this is also a good expression for when we are able not to cowardly withdraw from the things that life demands of us, but when we are able to take ourselves in hand, to intervene where it is necessary. If we are inclined to set our activity in motion in such a way, in short, if we are valiant - the expression "valiant" is also a good one for this virtue - then we have this virtue of valiant living. We might also say that this virtue, which is connected with a healthy life of mind, which at the right moment produces the bravery whose absence brings cowardice in life, this virtue can of course be practised in the physical course of life only through certain organs. These organs, which include the physical and the etheric heart, are not so perfected as those which serve wisdom. These organs are still on the way to becoming different, and will become different in the future.“ (Lit.:GA 159, p. 18)
The new formation of the etheric heart with sexual maturity
When man descends to his earthly incarnation, he first draws together his etheric body from the whole cosmos. At first, a provisional etheric heart is formed, which is replaced by a new formation with sexual maturity, while the original childlike etheric heart "rots".
„This is extraordinarily significant, that when we thus draw the etheric forces from the general etheric world on descending into the earthly world, we take with us into our etheric body a kind of image of the cosmos. If we could take out the etheric body of the human being at the moment when the human being unites with the physical body, we would have, much more beautifully than has ever been formed mechanically, a sphere with the stars, with the zodiac, with the sun and moon.
These configurations of the etheric body still remain when man grows more and more together with his physical body during the embryonic period. They only fade a little, but they remain present. And they remain present until the seventh year of life, until the change of teeth. This sphere of the world can still be recognised in the child's etheric body. With the seventh year, with the change of teeth, the formations that one sees inside the etheric body begin to become radiant, as it were, whereas before they were more star-like. I draw this schematically for the time from the seventh to about the fourteenth year, from the change of teeth to sexual maturity (see drawing, red rays). As I said, it already fades during the embryonic period and then more and more, but it is still clearly present. From the change of teeth, however, it begins to fade completely, but instead it sends rays inwards (red). I would like to say: the stars dissolve in the human etheric body, they become rays which have the tendency to come together inside.
All this happens slowly and gradually during the whole period of life from the change of teeth to sexual maturity. At sexual maturity it is then so far that, as these rays have grown together here, they form inwardly a kind of structure of their own, an etheric structure (red). One might say that what were the circumferential stars first radiate inwards; then later they cease to do so, and become completely pale. Of course, something always remains, but it becomes completely pale. These rays also become pale. On the other hand, that which has, as it were, concentrated in the centre, becomes particularly alive. And in that which has gathered in the middle, the physical heart hangs inside at the time when sexual maturity also occurs. So this is the place in the human organism where the physical heart hangs inside with the veins (blue) [...]
You must not believe that the human being does not have an etheric heart beforehand; he already has that, but he gets it in a different way from what then becomes the etheric heart. For in fact, that which has accumulated from sexual maturity becomes the etheric heart. Until then, as I said, he also has an etheric heart, but he has received it as an inheritance, he has received it through the forces that are within the embryo. When the human being has his etheric body and moves with his etheric body towards the physical organism, a kind of etheric heart, a representative etheric heart, so to speak, is also drawn together by the forces of the physical body. This etheric heart, however, which man has in his childhood - the expression is somewhat unattractive for the habits we have, but it is quite accurate for what we are dealing with - gradually decays, and in its place, as it were, is continually replaced by that which is etherically decaying, and that etheric heart, which is a conglomeration of the whole sphere of the world, which is really an image of the cosmos, and which we bring with us as an etheric structure when we pass through conception and birth into earthly existence.
So one can really trace a clear change in the whole etheric body-formation which the human being carries in himself during the time from birth or already from conception up to sexual maturity. One would like to say that it is only at sexual maturity that man's own etheric heart, formed out of his etheric body and not provisionally formed by external forces, is actually present.“ (Lit.:GA 212, p. 114ff)
== Formation of an etheric heart outside the physical body ==.
Through spiritual training, an etheric heart centre is gradually formed outside the body.
„The human being grows, as it were, ethereally out of himself, and the peculiar thing is that the human being, in growing ethereally out of himself, develops something similar outside his body, I would say, like a kind of etheric heart. As physical human beings we have our physical heart, and we all appreciate the difference between a dry, abstract human being who develops his thoughts like a real machine, and a human being who is with his heart in everything he experiences; I mean, is with his physical heart. We all appreciate this difference. We do not expect much of the dry lurker, who is not with his heart in what he experiences in the soul, in terms of real world knowledge on the physical plane. A kind of spiritual heart, which is outside our physical body, forms parallel to all the phenomena I have described in "How to attain knowledge of the higher worlds", just as the blood network forms and has its centre in the heart. This network goes outside the body, and we then feel warmly connected outside the body with that which we recognise spiritually. Only it is not necessary to demand that the human being be present, as it were, with the heart which he has in the body, in spiritual-scientific cognition, but with the heart which becomes him outside the body; with this he is cordially present with that which he recognises spiritually-scientifically.“ (Lit.:GA 161, p. 243f)
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Geheimwissenschaft im Umriß, GA 13 (1989), ISBN 3-7274-0130-3 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Theosophie des Rosenkreuzers, GA 99 (1985), ISBN 3-7274-0990-8 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Prinzip der spirituellen Ökonomie im Zusammenhang mit Wiederverkörperungsfragen, GA 109 (2000), ISBN 3-7274-1090-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Geheimnis des Todes. Wesen und Bedeutung Mitteleuropas und die europäischen Volksgeister, GA 159 [GA 159/160] (1980), ISBN 3-7274-1590-8 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Wege der geistigen Erkenntnis und der Erneuerung künstlerischer Weltanschauung, GA 161 (1999), ISBN 3-7274-1610-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen, GA 190 (1980), ISBN 3-7274-1900-8 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Menschliches Seelenleben und Geistesstreben im Zusammenhange mit Welt- und Erdentwickelung, GA 212 (1998), ISBN 3-7274-2120-7 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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