being Chapter I of

The Etheric World in Science, Art, and Religion

(Volume II of the Etheric Formative Forces in Cosmos, Earth, and Man)

by Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth, 1927

Are Science, Art and Religion the work of man alone? Would they have taken the same form even if the Earth on which man lives, learns, thinks, had assumed a form different from that which we now experience? To what extent does Man create his Science, Art, and Religion out of his own force and his own being, or, out of the force and being of the Earth? To find the well-spring from which Science, Art, and Religion are born, we must try to recognise the common destiny of Cosmos, Earth, and Man, to establish how the life-history of the one trinity is bound by the laws of evolution to the life history of the other trinity, to discover, finally whether Man cannot grow into a free creative being within this common destiny.

To understand the microcosm, in investigating living things, we must begin with the study of the macrocosm. For in organic life, not only do forces radiate from some central focus, influencing the world around, but more important still are the impulses which work inward from outside the Earth. These are the forces, which radiating inward from cosmic space, fashion the microcosmic entity and determine the process of its evolution. Hence, in order to understand the working of consciousness, and also of physico-material and etheric forces, to realise how these evolve within the Earth-Sphere, and become the substance of the Science, Art, and Religion of Man upon Earth, we must first make for ourselves a picture of these formative forces which coming into it from the etheric sphere of the planets set to work to shape the Earth-Sphere.

The forces of planets and other heavenly bodies cannot be fathomed by a purely quantitative phenomenology. A sublime decree, a rhythm reigning in space and time, an organic plan, forms the basis of this world of forces, which once its principles are recognised, gives meaning and order to all single phenomena, and reveals a part of the hidden primal plan of those creature forces, whereby the When and the Where of all evolution was established, and is still maintained, in an enduring world-harmony.

The cosmic genesis – from the point of view of time – presents a process of condensation, whether we follow its evolution materially from the “primal nebula” to the solid mineral earth, or genetically from the purely spiritual to the condensed content of our present sense perception. Similarly in space, a rhythmic process of condensation is indicated in the plan, the “rough draft of the Cosmos.”

We showed (in Vol I. Ch. 2, et seq.,) that four etheric formative forces give rise to and govern our world-organism.

Condition Produced
Warmth etherexpandingWarmth
Light ethercentrifugalGaseous
Chemical ethercontractingFluid
Life ethercentripetalSolid

As a mighty tidal wave releases ever new undulations and rhythms, even so the creative forces surging inward from cosmic space waken, in exalted rhythm, ever new spheres of force. In this way each new force-sphere creates always, even under altered laws – new conditions of material substance.

If we set the earth-planets, as the true starting-point of our investigations, in the centre of these happenings, the accompanying figure results.

The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 1.

It shows a macrocosmic genesis in space and time, repeating itself rhythmically and increasing toward the centre, through ever new conditions of existence. We see the force-sphere of each planet governed by its special formative force; as follows:


SaturnWarmth ether
JupiterLight ether
MarsChemical ether
SunLife ether
MercuryWarmth ether
VenusLight ether
MoonChemical ether
EarthLife ether

As then the four etheric formative forces have evolved phylogenetically out of one another in a definite series (warmth, light, chemical and life ether) in time, so also they govern the arrangement of the planet-system in space, in similar succession and harmony.

The wave of the four formative forces surges from the region of Saturn to that of the Sun, and then releases a second wave which governs the world-spheres between Sun and Earth. The Sun-sphere is the starting-point of new force-wave, which is a repetition of the first rhythm.

The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 2.

If we now pursue the wave-beat of the formative force spheres further inward, we penetrate into the sphere of the Earth. But while the first two rhythms of the series were of equal strength when we penetrate into the region of terrestrial law, steps in that primal rule of reversal, of turning upside down, which we have shown, in Vol. I., to be binding on both macrocosmic and microcosmic evolutionary processes. When the world-rhythms reach the Earth, they release, not a rhythm of the same series of force-spheres (warmth, light, chemical, life-ether), but a wave tumbling over itself; as it were, so that the force-spheres follow one another in exactly the opposite order (life, chemical, light, warmth-ether) a process of reversal which likes the outside in, and the inside out, and is repeated many times within the Earth-globe, and toward its centre. While this third reversed wave dies out within the still purely etheric Earth-envelope, let us penetrate with its last, inmost series into the real substance world of the Earth; into that heat-covering which surrounds the Earth-globe, and which encroaches upon the atmospheric phenomena of the Earth’s air-envelope in ways which have been shown by many meteorological examples in Vol. I, For here we are on ground which we already know.

If the organisation of the Earth-sphere, (as it appeared from the study of geological, meteorological and terrestrial-magnetic phenomena in Vol. I) be set here in the series of planet-spheres, we now see that the Earth, in her organisation, mirrors in wonderful harmony the rhythm of the macrocosm, and that the law of reversal, of turning upside down, governs this reflection of the microcosmic spheres within the Earth.

The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 3.


a-d, purely etheric spheres of the Earth’s envelope
1-4, outer Earth
5-7, inner Earth


1 = 7 = d
2 = 6 = c
3 = 5 = b
4 = a

I – IV, outer planet-spheres, 1st wave.
V – VII, inner planet-spheres, 2nd wave.


a – d, purely etheric spheres of the Earth’s envelope, 3rd wave.


1 – 4, outer Earth, 4th wave.


5 – 7, inner Earth, 5th wave.


If we glance once more at the figure of these formative rhythms moving from without inward, the sublime principle of the spheres of formative force, we realise that the 1st formative force wave created the spheres of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun.

The 2nd created the spheres of Mercury, Venus, Moon, to Earth. The 3rd led to the organisation of the outer, purely etheric Earth envelope. The 4th to the organisation of the outer Earth (heat-covering, atmosphere, hydrosphere, solid Earth). The 5th, to the organisation of the inner Earth.

Five times the mighty formative force wave makes a new onset, releasing and giving impulse to innumerable new rhythms in each of the spheres produced. Twice the waves are repeated in the same way, then they are reversed three times: first, as they pass from the region altogether outside the Earth into the outermost etheric Earth-sphere (the third wave), again as they pass into the atmospheric outer Earth, and thirdly, as they pass into the interior of the Earth.

Now when we investigate the effects of these cosmic formative forces, for example, on the plant-growth of the Earth’s surface, we must remember that the growth of plants, as already shown in Vol. I presents a triple rhythm of expansion and contraction. This threefold rhythm of plant-growth is, however, only a continuation of that fourfold rhythm in the alternation of expanding and contracting forces, which governs the planetary spheres from the outermost, right in to the Earth’s surface. When we see in each alternation of expansion and contraction, a breathing rhythm of the Cosmos, we recognise that the four breathing rhythms which flow from the outermost spheres of cosmic formative force right in to the Earth’s surface, are there in part reflected, and then release three breathing-rhythms of plant-growth in the opposite direction. Thus seven breathing-rhythms of the formative forces take part in the cooperation of cosmos and Earth for the creation of at terrestrial plant. By this natural means the planetary constellations exercise an important influence on the differentiation of plant-growth. We understand now why the ancient Indian wisdom spoke of the “breath of Brahma,” and Christian wisdom of the “breath of God.” This process, may be diagrammatically illustrated in the following way:

The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 4.

We recognise the world-harmony of this formative force wave, surging with its shaping influence, from outside in, and again from inside out Thus we obtain a deep and satisfying insight into the plan of creation.

We are reminded of the “harmonices mundi” of Kepler, and the magnificent song in which Goethe speaks of the “brother-spheres”:

“The sun-orb sings in emulation,
Mid brother-spheres, his ancient round;
His path predestined through Creation
He ends with step of thunder-sound.
The angels from his visage splendid
Draw power, whose measure none can say;
The lofty works, uncomprehended,
Are bright as on the earliest day.”

Bayard Taylor’s Translation

Now to understand the individual phenomena shown by the systematic arrangement of the different planets in this macrocosmic system: their density, visibility, color, etc., we must study yet another law which underlies the force-world of these spheres. If we describe the planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mais as “outer” planets, and, on the other hand, Mercury, Venus and the Moon as “inner” planets, another distinction is established between the first force-wave which formed the “outer,” and the second force-wave which formed the “inner” heavenly bodies. While, to wit, in the first rhythm, the phylogenetically older group of formative forces (warmth and light-ether) predominates, in the second rhythm, which is dying out within the world-organism, the phylogenetically later group (chemical and life-ether) in general predominates. So that each individual force-sphere of the “outer” planets is modified in its influence by the first group of forces, while every individual of the “inner” spheres is modified, that is, strengthened or weakened in its peculiar properties, by the second group of forces.

In the outer planets, taken collectively, warmth- and light-ether preponderate.

In the inner planets, taken collectively, chemical- and life-ether preponderate.


The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 5.

So, for instance, Mars, which, as an individual planet, is chiefly governed by the chemical ether because it belongs at the same time to the combined group of outer planets, is modified by the forces of warmth – and light-ether, that is, it is weakened in its peculiar properties. Saturn and Jupiter, which, even as individual planets, are subject to the warmth- and light-ether, are, on the contrary, strengthened. The Moon, which as an individual planet is subject to the chemical ether, because it belongs to the group of inner planets, is strengthened in its essential character by the chemical and life-ether forces which govern the inner planet-spheres. Mercury and Venus, which are warmth- and light-ether planets in the inner group, are nevertheless modified by the forces which govern that combined group.

All individual phenomena which we can read and register by observation of the planets, their position in the Cosmos, their density, their colour, their ray-force, their condition as a whole, now arrange themselves rationally in the system presented above; indeed, they can be established organically and intelligibly only by this means. From a more or less chaotic registration of innumerable data determined by observation, we can pass on to a systematic reasonable explanation based on fundamental harmonious principles. From an insight into the plan of the world-structure, we can unriddle the purpose, the composition and the articulation of every link, of every “building-stone” in the fabric of the world. That Saturn must have a minimum and the Moon a maximum density, these are no longer peculiar apparently arbitrary facts which we can merely register; on the contrary, they result organically and as a matter of course from our knowledge of the world organism and its arrangement. From being astonished observers of one-sided details we become fellow-thinkers in the world plan.

Let us remember, for instance, that the individual formative forces lead to the following four different conditions of substance:

Warmth-ether to a condition of warmth
Light-ether to a gaseous condition

Chemical-ether to a fluid condition
Life-ether to a solid condition

So that the two forces of the first group operate in an expanding, centrifugal way, while those of the second group have a contracting, centripetal effect — a fact which we can demonstrate by many examples in quite distinct realms of natural philosophy. Hence, it is a natural consequence of the formative forces which govern there, that Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which belonging to the outer planet-group, are controlled by heat- and light-ether, should show much less density than Mercury, Venus and the Moon, which, belonging to the inner planet-group, are controlled by the centripetal condensing forces of chemical- and life-ether. The outer planets, built up in the domain of the first ether-group, are more foreign by far to the dense substance of the Earth, than the inner planets, built up in the domain of the second group. Among the inner planets-working from without inward the centripetal forces of condensation preponderate for the first time, becoming stronger, more intense, in the third and fourth wave, right into the solid Earth.

The inner planets are, therefore, denser than the outer, not only because they have come into existence later (Kant-Laplace Nebula theory), that is for a time-reason, but also, for a space-reason, because — in accordance with the plan of macrocosmic world-structure — they are still within the domain of that sphere-group where centripetal, contracting formative forces preponderate. The outer planets, on the contrary, are still – in space – within the domain of those sphere-groups where the dissolving centrifugal etheric formative forces preponderate.

If we know the principle given above of the etheric system of this Cosmos, we can predict, without reading it off by observation, that Saturn, being allied to the warmth-ether, must have a finer condition, lying above the solid, fluid and gaseous, precisely a warmth-ether condition; and this is verified by observation. From the ether-theory we can predict that Jupiter, because lying in the light-ether sphere, must show a condition chiefly analogous to the terrestrial gaseous state; that Mars, governed by the chemical ether, must exhibit distinct traces analogous to the terrestrial fluid condition; and to all this confirmation is given by observation and practical knowledge. From the ether-theory, from the cosmic arrangement of formative forces, we can detect in the most clear fashion the properties of a heavenly body, and in doing so we shall discover that the individual facts correspond exactly with the
general principles.

    (1) The importance, therefore, of this knowledge of etheric formative forces, lies in the possibility, not only of logically interpreting the heavenly bodies, as in Kant-Laplace’s Nebula Theory, from the genetic principles, but also – of being able to expound a spatial principle of force-systems in the universe.

    (2) Suppose, for instance, the planet Saturn were hurled out of its orbit by some cosmic occurrence, and landed in the Moon-sphere, it would rapidly become dense and rigid; on the other hand, if the Moon, freed from the fetters of Earth, should be hurled into the Jupiter-sphere, it would soon expand into a gaseous wandering star of great size, in obedience to the formative forces governing that cosmic sphere.

The contraction and densification of the planets is not only a result of decreasing temperature, but both phenomena – decreasing temperature and contraction – are results of the influence of the force-group of chemical and light-ether, which stamps its character on the inner spheres of cosmic substance.

Even Jupiter, dwelling now in the light-ether sphere and shedding its gleaming golden beams into the universe, would, if it passed into the warmth-ether sphere of Saturn, take on the drab colourlessness of that planet, which receives no light of is own from the warmth-ether governing it. Mars, on the other hand, which now, through the chemical ether of its own sphere, has dimmed the light-ether forces governing the outer planets, and hence shows the darker colour-tones of red and blue, would, if it were to pass into the pure light-ether gleaming sphere of Jupiter, brighten into Jupiter’s gleaming, yellow-gold. Similarly Venus, belonging to the light-ether sphere of the inner planets, is distinguished from the other wandering stars by its outstanding brightness. For that reason also, Venus, the morning-star, bore in old days, the significant name of “Lucifer”, “Phosphorus”, the “Light-bearer.” The dullness of Saturn, and, in contrast, the powerful light of Jupiter and Venus are, then, not accidental circumstances, not can they be ascribed alone to the respective densities of their atmospheres, nor [31] to any questionable secondary cause; they are dependent on the region to which the individual heavenly body belongs, within the differing etheric waves of the world-forming forces. Now whether we are studying density, light-intensity, colour, or any other property of the planets, it will always become explicable by the ether-theory; and each phenomenon will, in the end, be evidence for the all-governing principle and harmony imprinted on the universe and its individual spheres by the formative forces.

After studying the planets, the wandering stars, something may be said here too of the relation between the fixed stars and the different formative forces.

Actually the expression “etheric” ceases to be correct for the formative forces which hold sway in the region of the fixed stars, for the forces in that region bear characteristics other than the pure etheric. But a presentation of these peculiarities would lead beyond our limits, and the analogies and contrasts are of such a nature that it is not necessary in this connection to translate them into the force-speech of the fixed-star region, especially as their effects are only experienced through the medium of the etheric. We can therefore for the present disregard such niceties.

The Etherworld of the Planetary Spheres - Fig. 6.

In earlier, differently acquired knowledge of this relationship, spoke indeed of “fiery, airy, watery and earthy” signs and constellations of the Zodiac. In this view lies something more than a childish picture-puzzle as we of today often carelessly suppose; the secret of an actual matter-of-fact is concealed in it. If we study the formative forces of the separate signs of the Zodiac, four groups, each containing three constellations, appear, in such a way that each group is governed by one of the formative forces, which, together give the twelve-fold plan of the Zodiac.

We have then sets of three constellations which are thus allied:

To the warmth-etherLion (Leo), Archer (Sagittarius), Ram (Aries)
To the light-etherBalance (Libra), Water-carrier (Aquarius), Twins (Gemini)
To the chemical-etherScorpion (Scorpio), Fish (Pisces), Crab (Cancer)
To the life-etherGoat (Capricorn), Bull (Taurus), Virgin (Virgo)

The deeper we penetrate through knowledge of the formative forces, into the diversity of the fixed-star spheres, discovering there the laws of Nature which regulate them, the more astonished we are to see what deep relationships our forefathers revealed in the images corresponding to their way of expressing themselves. So that it cannot be the mission of our age lightly to accuse thousands of human generations of absurdity, but often, rather to express the same truth in our own language, that is, to decipher and review the facts revealed in the study of forces, according to our consciousness instead of in the picture-speech of the ancients.

Let us turn again to the region of the wandering stars. That the planets and their spheres naturally undergo a constant metamorphosis, and in their positions and shifting relations to one another are subjected to an alteration, generally organically slow, but sometimes sudden, is shown by the history of each of the planets. Facts taught by the Mysteries of old, and by the researches of spiritual science since, for instance, that the Moon was once severed from the Earth, and will one day join with it again. Such facts have become in the natural philosophy of today, acknowledged constituents of our conception of the universe.

Concerning two points in this question, opinions are indeed still divided, and require a nearer approach and a clearer understanding, namely, concerning this epoch of the severing and the reuniting of the Earth and the Moon, and concerning the nature of the consequences which result from these events.

Professor Emanuel Kayser says in his lucid, comprehensive “Textbook of Geology” (p.17), “Actually the Moon and the Earth form a double planet which moves round a common centre of gravity about the Sun. Originally the two bodies must have formed a coherent mass, from which the Moon only later disengaged itself.”

Concerning the Moon’s reapproach to the Earth from which it was split off, Professor Joseph Plassmann says in the first volume of his “Himmelskunde (Astronomy),” which has already been mentioned several times in Vol. 1. (p. 320)

“The movement of our own Moon has experienced in thousands of years a slight acceleration, independent of its many periodic inequalities, and after study of the relationships between the Earth and the Moon”, he also concluded that, “the attraction must increase, and so quicken the movement of revolution; this actual acceleration exists as well as the apparent one; and even though the system moves in so fine a resisting medium, yet the theory shows that the two bodies are getting nearer and nearer to each other, and in the end must crash together.” These statements coincide exactly, then, with the researches of spiritual knowledge, although modern theory generally postpones the reentrance of the Moon to a distant future reckoned in millions of years, whereas Dr. Rudolf Steiner estimated a period no later than 8,000 years hence for the reuniting of the Moon with the Earth. Though the interval of time occupied in the severing and reuniting of the heavenly bodies may still be under discussion, yet the nebula-theory and the [32] view of spiritual science are at one in this that the whole of the fixed stars, the wandering stars and the satellites once belonged to a common, united heavenly body, then separate from this, and differentiated themselves, finally to strive toward union again. To avoid falling into a complicated registration of facts in our knowledge of the bodies which have been thus differentiated, we must study those impulses and forces, whose work is this process of differentiation and reuniting. To this study the etheric world is the key. But while we make use of this key to penetrate into the hidden chambers of the universe, we must not forget that, in furnishing us with it, the world-forces whose tool it is, are calling us into cooperation.

Summarising we can say: The planetary spheres outside the earth are formed, governed and systematised by a two-fold etheric wave and each of such waves hears within it – in space – the same rhythm which has led- phylogenetically in time – from the coming into existence of the warmth-ether, on to the light-ether, to the chemical and to the life-ether. This outer two-layered sphere-world is continued inward into the three-layered world of the Earth-spheres. Between the spheres of the outermost Earth-waves, which form the purely etheric Earth-envelope, and the innermost sphere-world, which forms the inside of the Earth, there lies, as a rhythmic adjustment, the atmospheric outer covering of the Earth. If this intermediary layer were not there, the polarically contrasted principles of the purely etheric Earth-envelope and the wholly-material Earth-body, would necessarily bring about a violent catastrophic adjustment of their difference. Cosmic and Earth-principles would promptly come into collision, and mutually destroy each other. Now, however, the elastic, atmospheric covering of the Earth acts as a separating and softening mediator, bearing within itself something of both polarities, and thus making it possible for man to live in a sphere where the war between cosmic and terrestrial polarities is toned down to the more peaceful skirmishing of atmospheric weather-changes. Mankind of today is exposed to wind and rain, heat and cold, thunder and lightning, hail and snow, the finely powdered dust of former volcanic lavas from the interior of the Earth, and the dust of former cosmic meteorite swarms in our atmosphere; and what are all these meteorological occurrences but a softening, mitigating adjustment of above and below, outer and inner, through the intermediary spheres of the three-layered Earth, in which Mankind of today, with his consciousness, his body-building formative forces and substances can develop his characteristic being.


  1. Wachsmuth, Guenther. The Etheric Formative Forces in Cosmos, Earth and Man: A Path of Investigation into the World of the Living. London: Anthroposophical Pub. Co, 1932. Print. [BSRF xerographic reprint available: <#B0118, "The Etheric Formative forces in Cosmos, Earth and Man">]
  2. Kayser, Emanuel, and Philip Lake. Text Book of Comparative Geology. London: S. Sonnenschein & Co, 1893. Print. [Digital: <http://archive.org/details/textbookcompara00kaysgoog>]