"It is now admitted that 'matter,' even with the addition of all possible forces, is insufficient to explain many phenomena, such as those of light; and it has, accordingly, come to be an article of scientific faith that there is a substance called 'Ether'; a medium which, filling the universe, transports by its vibrations the radiations of light, heat, electricity, and perhaps action from a distance, such as the attraction exercised between heavenly bodies."
- an excerpt from The Serpent Power (1919), by Arthur Avalon (aka Sir John Woodroffe)
What is "etheric matter"?
Most of us have been taught to think of spirituality and science as competing against each other. They represent two completely different realities and have little in common.
Science deals with the "hard" physical world of measurements and empirical data. Its boundaries of research are therefore more or less the boundaries of matter itself which, in its most conventional definition, is broken out into three states: solid, liquid, and gas.
Moving into the context of spirituality and metaphysics, humanity's history is full of ancient and modern teachings which postulate the existence of a soul, or an eternal Self. This divine aspect of our human constitution is assumed to be entirely free from all laws of physics, such as gravity.
Could there be a connecting factor missing from our equation of reality? Is it possible the physical world and the spiritual world are not as separate as we tend to imagine, but rather just two opposite poles of the same mysterious Universe?
Some believe there is a layer, or realm, that exists beyond the gaseous level of matter. It is often referred to as the etheric level of matter, or even etheric energy. This layer is so subtle that our eyes cannot yet perceive it on the average, though humanity is slowly becoming sensitized to its vibrations. Moving beyond conventional physics, the esoteric definition of the physical plane consists of seven states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and four sub-planes of the etheric plane.
From fringe science to mainstream breakthrough
The concept of a subtle, finer realm of matter which pervades the universe is not exactly brand new. Decades ago, a scientist named Wilhelm Reich discovered a mysterious, yet tangible, layer of matter he called "orgone energy". He invented an "orgone accumulator" that was said to have successfully treated cancer patients. Unfortunately, the FDA was heavily at odds with his work and had him locked up in prison.
Centuries ago, in the final paragraph of his famous Principia, Sir Isaac Newton wrote about a "subtle spirit which pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies." Nikola Tesla, Viktor Schauberger, and other scientists from the last century also wrestled with various means by which they could tap into the etheric energy fields and use them for productive purposes. There is likely a large number of serious researchers in many countries around the world today who are experimenting with matter on the etheric planes.
In esoteric teachings it has been taken for granted that each human has an etheric sheath which surrounds the entire physical body. According to esotericist Benjamin Creme, "Kirlian photography and the work of Wilhelm Reich have already pointed the way. It will be realized that the health of the physical body depends entirely on the etheric 'double' or 'counterpart-body'. The force centres (or 'chakras' as they are called in the East), which focus the etheric flow, have their counterparts on the dense physical plane in the major and minor glands of the endocrine system. We are just beginning to understand how important to our well-being is the correct, interrelated functioning of the endocrine system. This in turn is dependent on the proper functioning of the vital etheric body which substands it."
If we accept the idea that the soul can interact with our physical bodies, emotions, and minds, then surely it is not far-fetched to envision a somewhat tangible link between the physical and metaphysical. Before long we may see this rather esoteric concept find a foothold in the more exoteric, concrete sciences. It would be a most significant discovery to be sure, adding a new layer of awareness in our quest to understand the great Cosmos and its intricate workings.