The Etheric Heart ...

A Study of
The Formation of a New Etheric Heart Organ in the Light of the Present
Michaelic Mystery Culture as Rudolf Steiner Required it for our Age
in his Lectures
“Die Sendung Michaels und Die Offenbarung der eigentlichen
Geheimnisse des Menschenwesens”

by Ruth Haertl,
Michaelmas 2000
Translated by Monica Gold


This essay concerning the etheric heart touches on the most profound mysteries of the human being. It touches on individual processes in human life as well as on evolutionary changes which affect all mankind. Knowledge of these changes are significant for us when we want to expand the ability for future Karma-cognition.

To begin with I will give a brief summary of the development of the etheric heart. Rudolf Steiner described the process in great detail when he discussed the formation of the etheric heart in children.

Before birth etheric forces are drawn together to create the individual etheric body. These ether forces harbour substances which are taken from the entire cosmos.


Figure 1 
Figure 1
(from: GA 212, May 26, 1922)

In a drawing of the etheric heart Rudolf Steiner shows the periphery of the stars, the heart amid sun and moon, while further down the earthly is indicated. “It is important to know that when we descend into the earthly world we draw into ourselves a kind of image from the cosmos.” This first etheric heart configuration Rudolf Steiner regards as provisional or as inherited. It remains with the child only until he loses his teeth. At age seven it falls away. Rudolf Steiner even says: “it decays”. It is cast off just as the teeth are discarded at age seven. The wonderful cosmic configuration of the starry images fades more and more as the seventh birthday approaches. This happens at the time when the child's own etheric body is born.

Rays of ether configurations begin to form anew and strive from the periphery to the centre. Here they accumulate around the physical heart and as they grow together, the new second etheric heart is born. It is the individualized etheric heart of the growing young person who matures from age seven to fourteen.

It happens through a process whereby bit by bit the new etheric heart replaces whatever dies off from the inherited heart. The new heart is condensed from the entire world sphere.

In another of Steiner's lectures we read that at puberty the astral body is restructured in a new configuration. In the same area of the body in which the second etheric heart was formed as a reflection of the stars, sun and moon, the forces of the astral body establish an additional central organ. These two organs weave in and out of each other as one central organ and in it are inscribed all deeds, all moral motivations, human intentions and ideas.

In one of his lectures Rudolf Steiner speaks of a small box in which everything concerning our life is recorded. As students on the path of initiation we are meant gradually to become able to read and interpret our past karmic deeds, we are supposed to grow towards an understanding of all that which is inscribed into the etheric heart. It was the 27 of February, 1925 on his sixty-third birthday that Rudolf Steiner gave the following related meditation to Dr. Ita Wegman.

“Hearts interpret Karma
When hearts learn to read
The Word,
Which creates in
Human Life;
When hearts learn to
Speak the Word
Which creates in
The Human Being”

In the above-mentioned restructured astral body is a picture of all that which man has experienced in the spiritual world between death and rebirth. Great secrets are being inscribed into the astral body at that time. During man's youth they merge bit by bit with the physical and etheric organs, which harbour now deepest cosmic secrets as if imprisoned. Out of the Ego which sympathetically connects with our astral body, these secrets as positive and less positive intentions and motivations are being engraved into the etheric heart organ, the small box that was spoken of. For this reason Rudolf Steiner can say that a joining together takes place of the ego with the etheric and the astral hearts. This means complete adjustment of individual Karma with universal cosmic laws.

In this way we can visualize an inner dynamic process, actively shaping the human physical through the creative working of the Logos. We can say, man is born out of deepest cosmic wisdom. Creative forces work through the strength of the Word into man's sheaths. The Logos in the human heart becomes an organ of destiny creatively working in harmony with the etheric and astral sheaths as well as with the ego of man. It is the creation of our awe-inspiring heart organ as it was introduced after puberty. Now a further miracle of the creation of humanity follows.

A continuous process takes place in which humanity becomes co-creator. Through the search for spirit and active work the individual human being becomes co-creator of his own destiny to an ever-higher degree. He is no longer passive, the Logos is no longer creating the human physical body alone. The fact is that the quality of becoming depends on the purposeful striving and strongest unfolding of forces of will in each human being. We ourselves can see to it that this may take place in the proper way.

We may stand in awe and wonder when we fully realize the extent of the possibilities that are laid into our own hands. In complete freedom we can work on the structural configuration of our own etheric heart; the new heart which began a process of separating from the physical heart in 172l. See drawing. The important fact is, however, that the perfection of this new creation depends on a strictly self-directed goal orientation, as well as the most strongly activated unfolding of will forces. It must arise out of a “physiology of freedom” given by the Logos for the transformation of our own being. The phrase “Physiology of Freedom” was coined by Dr. Peter Selg, a young physician who wrote the book “Vom Logos Menschlicher Physis” (Verlag Goetheanum 2000).

Peter Selg's deeply spiritual, yet strictly natural scientific way of thought, his unusual knowledge as a modern medical doctor, allows him to look at the physical body in a new way. He found that within the structure of the physical body created by the Logos there exists “free space” and this prompted him to coin the phrase “Physiology of Freedom.” In his book “Vom Logos Menschlicher Physis” he looks at those parts of the body which point to such a “free space.”


 Figure 2
Figure 2

The following drawing was taken from GA 190 April 5th, 1919. It points to the physical heart as it swims in the sac of the surrounding separated etheric heart. If we consider these ideas carefully there arises before our inner eye Rudolf Steiner's “Philosophy of Freedom (Philosophy of Spiritual Activity)” (chapter 9). There he talks about the emergence of ego consciousness through the physical body and the possibility for this ego consciousness to evolve because the Ego takes part in all spiritualised thinking. Further it says in the ninth chapter that the physical organisation has no part in the essence of thought, that instead, indeed, the physical withdraws and creates a space for thought. Man's thought is free! The will, however, is as yet only accessible through the physical body. It can be freed if the activity of thinking can be so strengthened that the ego is released slowly from the depth of the will. The reader can see how the majestic process of creating in freedom is deeply connected with the miraculous and creative work of the individual human being as he frees himself from that which hinders the rightful unfolding of the etheric heart. We are talking about the etheric heart as an organ for future lives, an organ with an eye for karmic cognition.

This has truly been placed into man's hands because, according to Rudolf Steiner, in the year 2100 this process is destined to slowly reach a conclusion.

Although on one hand that which was described is part of a normal evolutionary process, there is another side to it, a prerequisite that may not be overlooked. According to Rudolf Steiner; it is important that mankind creates a spiritual compensation, a counterweight to the past, when the heart was a God-given, a God-protected organ. Human beings must connect the separated etheric heart to the spiritual world through a transformed thinking and feeling life. In our age they need to find a new Michaelic path on which they search for the truth, then they will find the right way to this cosmically created third etheric heart. This new spiritual and dynamic path gives man the possibility to structure his etheric heart organ as a sense organ ever more in the greatest possible diversity. As the third heart is created by the Logos in Michaelic freedom in conjunction with man, it grows in size as large as the entire blood organism. It is an invisible sense organ, an inner cognitive eye of the heart revealing the karmic chain of events throughout incarnations.

Rudolf Steiner has indicated how the spirit-pupil can learn to think with such a spiritual heart and how he can protect and care for such knowledge. When Michaelic thinking has truly been activated, spirit knowledge is gathered through the separated heart, not through the noble head which disregards the subjective as well as man's feelings; yes, Michael will open the path of thought from the head to the heart, and hearts not heads begin to have thoughts. All of this follows naturally the great revelation of the creating of the third heart after the loosening of the newly formed etheric heart.

It is Michael's intention that in future, intelligence will stream through the hearts of human beings and that it will be connected to the same divine spiritual forces that helped to create man in the beginning of time.

With regard to the fifth heart chamber I was led to Ehrenfried Pfeiffer's autobiography (Perseus Verlag, Basel.) He touches briefly on this deep occult secret but points to no further references by Steiner. He merely indicates the point/circle meditation, given by Rudolf Steiner in the curative course.

In summarizing we can say that through the separation of the etheric heart and its further expansion over the entire blood circulation an opposing pole has been set into motion. It has become possible for souls connected to Michael to be engaged in a goal-oriented schooling for initiation and thus to enter into closer connection with the hierarchies and the etheric Christ, who reveals Himself today as an angel. It is Michael's aim that the spiritual schooling will lead to heart-knowledge and that the etheric eye of the heart will become an organ of cognition.

We read the following in the Michael-Letters:

“The Christ-force imprints human imaginations into the cosmic ether.”

“That which man experiences as strength of conscious imagination becomes world content.”

“Hearts begin to have thoughts, that is the new way of thinking with the heart.”

“The newly developed heart-organ slowly transforms into an eye or better a sensing-heart-eye-organ.”

“Everyone who strives in the light of spiritual science and connects himself with the creative World-Logos through heartfelt thoughts, sooner or later will learn to read Karma. By doing so he adds to the substance of the etheric-youth or angel-being through which the etheric Christ reveals Himself today.”


For spiritually active pupils in the Michaelic stream, the third etheric heart becomes:

  1. an eye for self-cognition, the realization of the true self as the eternal being of man,

  2. likewise it becomes the eye of the Ego-sense, which perceives the other in his true being,

  3. an eye of cognition for supersensible beings and for the etheric Christ Himself, protected and cherished in the Michaelic mystery-culture of will as it is destined for our epoch,

  4. it will also become possible to perceive the karma of others as well as one's own karmic chain.

All this grows from the fruits of a trained will. I refer to the September verse of the Calendar of the Soul:

O Nature, your maternal life
I bear within the essence of my will.
And my will's fiery energy
Shall steel my spirit striving,
That sense of self springs forth from it
To hold me in myself.

 

When Dr. Kaelin, a medical doctor and research scientist asked Rudolf Steiner why there was such a rapid increase of heart problems he explained it with the fact that the etheric heart is loosening from the physical. This was mentioned earlier.

It can be seen from Rudolf Steiner's answer that we at the beginning of the 21st century stand at the focal point regarding the developmental process of the etheric heart. We may not fail to research all possible facts with the greatest clarity possible, we may not fail to practice, exercise and purify ourselves while searching for the truth. Yes, we may contribute to the right formation of the new etheric heart; Michael leaves us free but he expects, and he observes us. Today most people do not practice, it is their omission, a tragic loss which occurs because of lack of knowledge which damages the physical heart. All the more we should work on unfolding our heart organ which allows us to ascend to imagination and inspiration and to forms of cognition where we may experience our own, cognitive eye of the etheric heart in the Sun-Logos.

The powerful rays of the Spirit-Sun live in the new etheric heart organ. (GA 212) The human being will one day be able to rise to infinite spirit heights. Many more aspects to the theme could be researched. In Basel (Oct. 1, 1911 GA 130) Rudolf Steiner spoke about the etherisation of the blood, the facts are well known to students of Anthroposophy. Illnesses of the heart can predominantly be traced to a lack of spiritual activity. Moral characteristics affect the contraction and expansion of the capillary vessels, and our moral soul-life also influences the make-up of our blood.

Our blood, seen from a spiritual perspective, undergoes a constant process of etherisation, creating a foundation for health and life. If enough spiritual activity is unfolded it has a positive effect on the blood because used substance can be etherised. This ether substance has its occult source in the etherised blood of the Logos. It is the heart-blood of the crucified and subsequently risen Logos. He is united with the Sun ether. If man inwardly connects with the Christ Being, there lives in him indeed in the etherized substance of his etheric heart and in his etheric blood stream the blood stream of the crucified. If a human being cannot connect inwardly with the Christ, if he rejects Him, the etheric blood of the Christ bounces off the etheric blood stream of such a man. This is a profound occult truth, a prerequisite to the stupendous unfolding of the developmental process of the new etheric heart. (The Etherisation of the Blood, a lecture given in Basle, October 1st, 1911)

With each heartbeat a certain amount of material substance is absorbed, taken away from physical pressure and added to the etheric substance. This etheric substance begins to radiate outward so that we can become aware of the process in a picture. To begin with there is the human being on the physical cross of his body. Etheric rays stream out from the centre of his heart. From the heart of the Christ pinned to the cross of the Tree of Life flows His blood into the dying earth and into men's dying bodies. As etheric sunrays they stream far into the cosmos. We too can take into ourselves these rays so that out of a small etheric Sun in our new etheric heart organ likewise streams can flow far into the cosmos. We harbour in our ether heart a creatively active inner sun that radiates warmth and light into the surrounding, into the far reaches of the cosmos. It is the warmth ether that is predominantly active in the etheric heart.

We find important indications from Rudolf Steiner in a lecture given July 2nd, 1921 in GA 205:

“When we look into the inner heart, we find that there are forces collecting from the metabolic and limb system. We know that that which is connected to the etheric heart-forces has been spiritualised, it follows that that which has to do with our outer life and our actions is also spiritualised and woven into it. That which is being prepared in the heart as forces turns into karmic predispositions and karmic tendencies. ‘It is simply outrageous to speak of a heart pump ...’

“You see, when one gets to know this organization and learns to differentiate then it all appears as a great connected whole. One needs to look at the entirety, life that reaches beyond birth and death. In this way one can look into the most intimate structure of man. We cannot speak of the head because the head is simply cast off; those forces are fulfilled with this incarnation, they were transformed from the previous incarnation. The metabolic activities which take place are not simply chemical processes which one can examine physiologically or chemically. There is another important nuance where morality plays a part. This moral nuance is indeed stored in the heart and carried over into the next incarnation. To study the total human being means to find in him the forces which reach beyond the earthly life.”


In GA 205 July 2nd, 1921, page 110 Rudolf Steiner says: “You can imagine what a tremendous difference there is, between that which lives in our heart during this incarnation and the condition in which we find ourselves in a new life after having gone through a long development in the time between death and a new birth. And yet when you look into your innermost heart you can assess quite well, of course in a hidden way only, not in a fully developed imagination, what you will do in your next life. One can, you see, not only say in an abstract way, my next life is being prepared today in all karmic detail, but one can point to the ‘little box’ in which the karma rests, awaiting the future.”


Figure 3 
Figure 3

Another important lecture was held May 1st, 1915 GA 161, where Rudolf Steiner speaks about the etheric heart in relation to its new position in the back of the head outside the physical body. See drawing. It is quite important that this is taken into account. It is further necessary to study and research the etheric heart and its position by looking at “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” especially the part “Some Results of Initiation”. The darkly shaded part at the back of the head in the picture would be the very first beginning of the new etheric heart. It arises as a mighty net of etherized blood which creates an individual thin little skin separating it from the cosmic ether. With this we have made another step in understanding the size and position of the etheric heart.

Finally we might direct our glance at possibilities which this new etheric heart organ as sense organ or Sun-eye will be able to develop for the future. I have already indicated it. We hear in the lecture of the 6th of May 1922 that when we look into ourselves we can experience our etheric eye as a cognitive eye. It can become the organ for going into ones own depth. Here we experience the flaming, scorching and burning emotions, desires, passions and drives on the one hand, on the other that in us which does not connect with them, because it is our eternal being. It lives alongside of it. Therefore we can say that the new etheric organ becomes cognitive for our eternal being in the depth of the metabolism and will organization. While our head holds our soul as if buried within, we comprehend ourselves, our eternal being, in the dark depth of will purified from emotions and drives. “Now we enter the realm where the soul and spirit become one”, says Rudolf Steiner in his lecture of May 6th, 1922, GA 212. “In the head or brain man is physical. That which is soul-like has been buried there, it is like a corpse. This corpse is the area to which presently all natural scientific research regarding the soul is directed. But in reality the soul is true to itself and connected to the spirit below the heart. The new and wonderful sense organ which is as large as the blood organism finds the eternal being of man next to all that which arises from the depth of will as drives and emotions.”

When the pupil rises to imaginative and inspired cognition then that which arises as lower drives and instincts may not speak. There arises a sum of thoughts in mighty pictures, they reveal what man was before birth. The pupil is transported into the time before birth.

That which we see as a vision through our heart, which has become a sense organ, that is our own eternal being. We experience our own self in our eternal being. When we continue to press forward into our own being, the Sun-like quality changes. We come to a definite point where we meet inspired knowledge and where we weave with inspired cognition in a real picture-world. Now in complete consciousness through a sudden inner jolt in our spirit soul it feels as if we fuse with the Sun itself ... But at the same moment when we come to inspired cognition, when our heart-sense becomes a cognitive organ, we suddenly feel as if our very heart is being transplanted into the sun, we feel as if we go with the sun, the sun is in us, belonging to us. The Sun becomes our eye, our ear as well as our warmth organ. We are jolted into the Sun-like. “We stand within the light, we touch spirit-beings with our light-organs.” Here supersensible knowledge reaches another stage, a little step further. Then we not only feel ourselves within the Sun but we perceive ourselves “on the other side of the Sun” as well. We have now moved fully into the Sun, we feel part of the Sun with our innermost being and we experience the world within our being, previously it was outside of ourselves, around us. These are Rudolf Steiner's words. It is an experience which we go through unconsciously during sleep.

Now we need to reach beyond the Sun-sphere but this only happens through inspiration and later intuition. Here the physical Sun separates us from the place in which we live between death and a new birth. The physical Sun hinders us from seeing the spiritual. Through the added step, however, we now consciously experience the spirit of the Sun and we feel as if we were within the Sun wandering along world paths. We reach outside that which is Sun-like as “the Sun has a Spirit Being”, a kind of Super-Sun. Just as the moon has a powerful influence on the physical of man so the Sun has a strong influence on his soul.


 Figure 4
Figure 4

Something else is said, that in the past through an instinctive clairvoyance one knew that especially the spiritually inclined people are not only what they are through Sun and Moon, but that they are what they are through the great Sun-Being. That is the reason why people in the past were painted with golden auras. It was meant to show that a person was able to reach not only into the soul realm but into the spirit and further so that the extension could become visible in the etheric. See Rudolf Steiner's drawing. No drives, passions and desires stream from that which is connected to the super-sun, but rather world-soul. One experiences an inner warmth as well as an inner enthusiasm, but in pure spiritual form, not through drives and passions. There is warmth which comes from the world, from the Great Sun-Being.

All this, in summary, is the crowning of that which can one day be perceived and spiritually known by the new etheric heart organ as a Sun-eye, when the Sun as spiritual Super-Sun becomes the cognitive eye of the etheric heart.

Everything that has been mentioned here, especially the stupendous possibilities for the etheric heart, is of great significance because at its foundation lies a free Michaelic deed creatively taken in hand by the pupil.

It is the powerful esoteric call to each pupil of Michael, to help in the creation of a new Sun-Earth. This co-working can be undertaken when the etheric body and the etheric heart become increasingly christianized out of the new faculties of the etheric heart-sun-eye, while the heart learns to interpret karmic events by reading within the actively creating Logos.


Learning to speak the Word which structures human life requires that the awakened Michaelic culture of will forces strengthens wills. Through this mystery magic capabilities will arise for the human being of the future. Sooner or later, the new etheric heart of man will become an active organ which through karmic insight can become increasingly helpful and healing in the social sphere. To the pillar of cognition the pillar of will must be added as a column of christianized blood.

In this way the secret of the Grail lives in the magnificent occult soul spiritual unfolding of the etheric heart. The new etheric heart as cognitive spirit-eye of man's eternal being is the place where in the Grail-Cup the etheric organ lights up as the real force, as the blood of the Redeemer. Christian Morgenstern utters:

“I lift my heart to you as a true vessel of the Grail ...”

It is the experience of being totally imbued with the spirit of eternity which fills the receiving soul of the Grail youth in a cultic spirit event at the Sun-altar. Here Spirit and soul truly unite. It is the Michaelic path to the heavenly city of the New Jerusalem.

“The Mission of the Archangel Michael” “The Revelation of the Unique Mystery of Man.” November 21–30, 1919, Dornach.
Rudolf Steiner: GA 161, 190, 205, 212, 10.

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, “Ein Leben fuer den Geist” 1999 Perseus Verlag, Basel

Peter Selg, “Vom Logos der Menschlicher Physis, die Entfaltung einer anthroposophischen Humanphysiologie im Werk Rudolf Steiners.” Goetheanum August 6, 2000

Heinz Herbert Schoeffler “Die Zeitgestalt des Herzens.” 1974 Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart

Ruth Haertl, “Auf der Suche nach der Wirklichkeit der Erkenntnis im Denken des Herzens aus Anthropos-Sophia im Lichte des Heiligen Gral.” Verlag Ch. Moellmann, ISBN 3-931156-84-2

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