Source: "The Vital Body" by Max Heindel
The Western Wisdom School teaches as its fundamental maxim that "all oc-
cult development begins with the vital body," stated Max Heindel initiate
of the Order of the Rose Cross. It is therefore with the purpose of pre-
senting in a concise and easily understood form all the important informa-
tion which the founder of The Rosicrucian Fellowship wrote in his various
letters, lessons, and books concerning the etheric vehicle that this com-
piled material is published in book form. To the layman in occult study, as
well as to the advanced student, it offers much of practical value.
A number of earnest students of the Western Wisdom Teachings have given
unselfishly and lovingly of their time and efforts in preparing this mate-
rial for publication, and it is their prayer that a copy of the volume may
carry its message of light and inspiration to every spiritual aspirant who
is endeavoring to follow the Way of the Christ.
The Rosicrucian Philosophy teaches that man is a threefold Spirit, pos-
sessing a mind by means of which he governs a threefold body, which he
emanated from himself to gather experience. This threefold body he trans-
mutes into a threefold soul, upon which he nourishes himself from impotence
to omnipotence. The Divine Spirit emanates from itself the dense body, ex-
tracting as pabulum the Conscious Soul; the Life Spirit emanates from itself
the vital body, extracting as pabulum the Intellectual Soul; the Human
Spirit emanates from itself the desire body, extracting as pabulum the Emo-
tional Soul. The vital body is made of ether and pervades th visible body
as ether permeates all other forms, except that human beings specialize a
greater amount of the universal ether than other forms. That ethereal body
is our instrument for specializing the vital energy of the Sun.
It is also taught in the Rosicrucian Philosophy that our evolutionary
scheme is carried through five of the seven Worlds or states of matter
(Physical, Desire, Thought, World of Life Spirit, and the World of Divine
Spirit) in seven great Periods of Manifestation (Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth,
Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan Periods), during which the Virgin Spirit, or
evolving life, becomes first, a man--then, a God. We are now in the fourth,
or Earth Period, which is divided into seven Revolutions, as well as the
following seven Epochs: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, Atlantean, and
Aryan Epochs, and the New Galilee and the Kingdom of God yet to come.
(See THE ROSICRUCIAN COSMO-CONCEPTION.) At the commencement of the
Saturn Period twelve great Creative Hierarchies were active in the work
of evolution. Two of these Hierarchies did some work to help at the very
beginning....and then withdrew from limited existence into liberation.
Three more of the Creative Hierarchies followed them at the beginning of the
Earth Period: the Lords of Flame, the Cherubim, and the Seraphim, leaving
seven Hierarchies in active service when the Earth Period began: the Lords
of Wisdom, the Lords of Individuality, the Lords of Form, the Lords of Mind,
the Archangels, the Angels, and the Virgin Spirits.
PAST EVOLUTION OF MAN'S VITAL BODY:
DURING PERIODS AND REVOLUTIONS:
THE EVOLUTION OF THE VITAL BODY AND THE LIFE SPIRIT OF WHICH IT IS A
COUNTERPART WAS STARTED IN THE SECOND OR SUN PERIOD OF THE SEVEN GREAT DAYS
OF MANIFESTATION. IT HAS SINCE BEEN RECONSTRUCTED AND WILL REACH PERFECTION
IN THE JUPITER PERIOD. IN A FUTURE STAGE MANKIND WILL NO LONGER NEED THIS
VEHICLE, BUT NEVERTHELESS, ITS QUINTESSENCE WILL BE RETAINED.
The Life Spirit and the vital body started their evolution in the Sun Pe-
riod and are consequently the particular charges of the Son.
They (the Lords of Flame) had previously given the germ of the dense body
and, in the first half of the Saturn Revolution of the Sun Period, were con-
cerned with certain improvements to be made upon it.
In the Sun Period the formation of the vital body was to be commenced,
with all thereby implied of capability for assimilation, growth, propaga-
tion, glands, etc.
The Lords of Flame incorporated in the germ of the dense body only the
capability of evolving sense organs. At the time now under consideration it
became necessary to change the germ in such a way as to allow of interpen-
etration by a vital body, also capability of evolving glands and an alimen-
tary canal. This was done by the joint action of the Lords of Flame, who
gave the original germ, and the Lords of Wisdom, who took charge of material
evolution in the Sun Period.
When the Lords of Flame and the Lords of Wisdom had, in the Saturn
Revolution of the Sun Period, conjointly reconstructed the germinal dense
body, the Lords of Wisdom, in the Second Revolution, started the proper work
of the Sun Period by radiating from their own bodies the germ of the vital
body, making it capable of interpenetrating the dense body and giving to the
germ the capability of furthering growth and propagation and of exciting the
sense centers of the dense body and causing it to move. In short, they
gave, germinally, to the vital body all the faculties which it is now un-
folding to become a perfect and pliable instrument for the use of the
We also note that, as the first, or Saturn Revolution, of any period is
concerned with work in the dense body (because that was started in a first
Revolution), so the second, or Sun Revolution, of any period is concerned
with improvements on the vital body, because it was started in a second
It may be said that in the Sun Period man went through the plant exist-
ence. He had a dense body and a vital body, as plants have, and his con-
sciousness, like theirs, was that of dreamless sleep.
Thus there were two classes, or kingdoms in the Sun Period, i.e., the
stragglers of the Saturn Period, who were still mineral, and the pioneers of
the Saturn Period, who were capable of receiving the germ of a vital body
and becoming plant-like.
In the middle of the seventh Revolution of the Sun Period, the Lords of
Wisdom took charge of the germinal Life Spirit given by the Cherubim in the
sixth Revolution of the Sun Period. They did this for the purpose of link-
ing it to the Divine Spirit. Their greatest activity in this work was
reached in the Cosmic Night intervening between the Sun and the Moon Peri-
ods. In the first dawn of the Moon Period, as the life wave started upon
its new pilgrimage, the Lords of Wisdom reappeared, bearing with them the
germinal vehicles of the evolving man. In the first or Saturn Revolution of
the Moon Period, they cooperated with the "Lords of Individuality," who had
special charge of the material evolution of the Moon Period. Together, they
reconstructed the germ of the dense body, brought over from the Sun Period.
This germ had unfolded embryonic sense organs, digestive organs, glands,
etc., and was interpenetrated by a budding vital body which diffused a cer-
tain degree of life into the embryonic dense body. Of course, it was not
solid and visible as it is now, yet in a crude sort of way it was somewhat
organized and is perfectly distinguishable to the trained clairvoyant sight
of the competent investigator who searches the memory of nature for scenes
in that far-off past.
In the second, or Sun Revolution of the Moon Period, the vital body was
modified to render it capable of being interpenetrated by the desire body,
also of accommodating itself to the nervous system, muscle, skeleton, etc.
The Lords of Wisdom, who were the originators of the vital body, also helped
the Lords of Individuality with this work.
In the Sixth Revolution of the Moon Period the Cherubim reappeared and
vivified the Life Spirit of those who had been left behind in the Sun Period
but had since reached the necessary stage of development, and also in those
stragglers of the Sun Period who had now evolved a vital body during their
plant existence in the Moon Period.
The pioneers of the new Life Wave had been going through a low stage of
plant existence; nevertheless the majority of them had evolved the vital
body sufficiently to allow of the awakening of the Life Spirit.
Thus, the three last named all possessed the same vehicles at the begin-
ning of the Earth Period, although only the two first named belong to our
life wave, and have a chance of even yet overtaking us if they pass the
critical point which will come in the next Revolution of the Earth Period.
Those who cannot pass that point will be held over until some future evolu-
tion reaches a stage where they can drop in and proceed with their develop-
ment in a new human period. They will be debarred from going forward with
our humanity because it will be advanced so far beyond their status that it
would prove a serious clog to our progress to drag them along. They will
not be destroyed, but simply held in waiting for another period of evolu-
At the end of the Moon Period these classes possessed the vehicles as
they are classified in Diagram 10 (SEE PAGE 230 OF THE COSMO-CONCEPTION),
and started with them in the beginning of the Earth Period. During the time
which has elapsed since then, the human kingdom has been evolving the link
of mind, and has thereby attained full waking consciousness. The animals
have obtained a desire body; the plants a vital body; the stragglers of the
life wave which entered evolution in the Moon Period have escaped the hard
and fast conditions of rock formation and now their dense bodies compose our
softer soils; while the life wave that entered evolution here in the Earth
Period forms the hard rocks and stones.
Thus we see that at the close of the Moon Period man possessed a three-
fold body in varying stages of development; and also the germ of the three-
fold Spirit. He had dense, vital, and desire bodies, and divine, life and
human Spirit. All he lacked was the link to connect them.
Another creative Hierarchy had special care of the three germs of the
dense, vital, and desire bodies as they were evolving. They were the ones
who, under the direction of the higher orders, actually did the principle
work on these bodies, using the evolving life as a kind of instrument. This
Hierarchy is called the "Lords of Form." They were now evolved so far that
they were given charge of the third aspect of the Spirit in man--the Human
Spirit--in the coming Earth Period.
Let us, therefore, analyze the matter and see what we have the right to
expect from one who lays claim to being a teacher. To do this we may first
ask ourselves, What is the purpose of existence in the material universe?
And we may answer that question by saying that it is evolution of conscious-
ness. During the Saturn Period, when we were mineral-like in our constitu-
tion, our consciousness was like that of the medium expelled from her body
by Spirit controls at a materializing seance, where a large part of the
ethers composing the vital body has been removed. The physical body is then
in a very deep trance. In the Sun Period, when our constitution was
plant-like, our consciousness was like that of dreamless sleep, where the
desire body, mind, and Spirit are outside, leaving the physical and vital
bodies upon the bed. In the Moon Period, we had a picture consciousness
like that which we have in dreams, where the desire body is only partially
removed from the dense vehicle and the vital body. Here in the Earth Period
our consciousness has been enlarged to cover objects outside ourselves by
placing all our vehicles in a concentric position, as is the case when we
The Earth Period is pre-eminently the Period of Form, for here the form
or matter side of evolution reaches its greatest and most pronounced state.
Here Spirit is more helpless and suppressed and Form is the most dominant
factor--hence the prominence of the Lords of Form.
During this Revolution (the second or Sun Revolution of the Earth Period)
the vital body was reconstructed to accommodate the germinal mind. The vi-
tal body was fashioned more in the likeness of the dense body, so that it
could become fitted for use as the densest vehicle during the Jupiter Pe-
riod, when the dense body will have become spiritualized.
The Angels, the humanity of the Moon Period, were aided by the Lords of
Form in reconstruction. The organization of the vital body is now next in
efficiency to the dense body. Some writers on this subject call the former
a link, and contend that it is simply a mold of the dense body, and not a
While not desiring to criticize, and admitting that this contention is
justified by the fact that man, at his present stage of evolution, cannot
ordinarily use the vital body as a separate vehicle--because it always re-
mains with the dense body and to extract it IN TOTO would cause the death of
the dense body--yet there was a time when it was not so firmly incorporated
with the latter, as we shall presently see.
During those epochs of our Earth's history which have already been men-
tioned as the Lemurian and the Atlantean, man was involuntarily clairvoyant,
and it was precisely this looseness of connection between the dense and the
vital bodies that made him so. (The Initiators of that time helped the can-
didate to loosen the connection still further, as in the voluntary clairvoy-
Since then the vital body has become much more firmly interwoven with the
dense body in the majority of people, but in all sensitives it is loose. It
is that looseness which constitutes the difference between the psychic and
the ordinary person who is unconscious of all but the vibrations contacted
by means of the five senses. All human beings have to pass through this pe-
riod of close connection of the vehicles and experience the consequent
limitation of consciousness. There are, therefore, two classes of
sensitives, those who have not become firmly enmeshed in matter, such as the
majority of the Hindus, the Indians, etc., who possess a certain low grade
of clairvoyance, or are sensitive to the sounds of nature, and those who are
in the vanguard of evolution. The latter are emerging from the acme of ma-
teriality, and are again divisible into two kinds, one of which develops in
a passive, weak-willed manner. By the help of others they re-awaken the so-
lar plexus or other organs in connection with the involuntary nervous sys-
tem. These are therefore involuntary clairvoyants, mediums who have no con-
trol of their faculty. They have retrograded. The other kind is made up of
those who by their own wills, unfold the vibratory powers of organs now con-
nected with the voluntary nervous system and thus become trained occultists,
controlling their own bodies and exercising the clairvoyant faculty as they
will to do. They are called voluntary or trained clairvoyants.
In the Jupiter Period the man will function in his vital body as he now
does in his dense body; and as no development in nature is sudden, the pro-
cess of separating the two bodies has already commenced. The vital body
will then attain a much higher degree of efficiency than the dense body of
today. As it is a much more pliable vehicle, the Spirit will then be able
to use it in a manner impossible of realization in the case of the present
The vital body was started in the Second Revolution of the Sun Period,
was reconstructed in the Moon and Earth Periods, and will reach perfection
in the Jupiter Period, which is its fourth stage, as the Earth Period is the
fourth stage for the dense body.
Nothing in Nature is wasted. In the Jupiter Period the forces of the
dense body will be superimposed upon the completed vital body. That vehicle
will then possess the powers of the dense body in addition to its own facul-
ties, and will therefore be a much more valuable instrument for the expres-
sion of the threefold Spirit than if built from its own forces alone.
Similarly, Globe D of the Venus Period is located in the Desire World,
hence neither a dense nor a vital body could be used as an instrument of
consciousness. Therefore the essences of the perfected dense and vital bod-
ies are incorporated in the completed desire body, the latter thus becoming
a vehicle of transcendent qualities, marvelously adaptable and so responsive
to the slightest wish of the indwelling Spirit that in our present limita-
tions it is beyond our utmost conception.
Yet the efficiency of even this splendid vehicle will be transcended when
in the Vulcan Period its essence, together with the essences of the dense
and vital bodies, are added to the mind body, which becomes the highest of
man's vehicles, containing within itself the quintessence of all that was
best in all the vehicles. The vehicle of the Venus Period being beyond our
present power of conception, how much more so is that which will be at the
service of the divine beings of the Vulcan Period!
THE POLARIAN, HYPERBOREAN, LEMURIAN, AND ATLANTEAN EPOCHS WERE RECA-
PITULATIONS OF THE STAGES THROUGH WHICH THE VIRGIN SPIRITS HAD PASSED. CON-
SEQUENTLY, THE VITAL BODY UNDERWENT CHANGES DURING THOSE EPOCHS.
When man first came upon this earth the dense body was built in the
POLARIAN EPOCH, and was vitalized by the interpenetration of a vital body in
the HYPERBOREAN EPOCH. At that time man was like the Angels, male-female, a
complete creative unit, able to create from himself, by projecting his whole
creative force--which is love.
When the earth came out of chaos, it was at first in the dark red stage
known as the Polarian Epoch. There humanity first evolved a dense body, not
at all like our present vehicle, of course. When the condition of the earth
became fiery, as in the Hyperborean Epoch, the vital body was added and man
became plant-like, that is to say, he had the same vehicles as our plants
have today, and also a similar consciousness, or rather, unconsciousness, to
that which we have in dreamless sleep when the dense and vital bodies are
left upon the bed.
The Lords of Form appeared (in the Hyperborean Epoch) with the Angels
(humanity of the Moon Period), and clothed man's dense form with a vital
As the Polarian Epoch was really a recapitulation of the Saturn Period,
it may be said that during that time man passed through the mineral state;
he had the same vehicle--the dense body--and a consciousness similar to the
trance state. For analogous reasons, the plant state was passed through in
the Hyperborean Epoch, as man had a dense and a vital body and a
By absorbing the crystalloids prepared by plants he evolved a vital body
during the Hyperborean Epoch and became plant-like both in constitution and
by nature, for he lived without exertion and as unconsciously as the plants.
In the second, or Hyperborean Epoch, a vital body made of ether was
added, and man-in-the-making had then a body constituted as are those of the
present plants; he was not a plant but was plantlike. Cain, the man of that
time, is described as an agriculturist; his food was derived solely from
vegetation, for plants contain more ether than any other structure.
Cain is described as an agriculturist. He symbolizes the man of the Sec-
ond Epoch. He had a vital body like the plants which sustained him.
In the second or Hyperborean Epoch, God said: "Let there be Light," the
hot gas became a luminous firemist as it was in the Sun Period, and man's
dense body was clothed with a vital body and it floated hither and thither
above the fiery Earth as a large, baggy thing. Man was then plant-like be-
cause of having the same vehicles as the plant has now and the Angels were
his helpers in organizing his vital body, and remain so to the present day.
This may seem an anomaly, as the Angels are the humanity of the Moon Pe-
riod, where man got his desire body. But is not, for only in the Moon Pe-
riod did the evolving Earth condense into ether, such as now forms the sub-
stance of our vital body, and there the humanity (the present Angels),
learned to build their densest bodies from etheric materials, as we are
learning to build ours from the solids, liquids, and gases of the Chemical
Region. They became experts at it, as we will be at building a dense body
by the time the Earth Period is ended.
In the Polarian Epoch man had only a poorly organized dense body, hence
he was as unconscious and immobile as the minerals, who are now so consti-
tuted. In the Hyperborean Epoch his dense body was clothed upon with a vi-
tal body, and the Spirit hovered outside. What the effect of such a nature
is we may see by examining the plant, which is similarly constituted now.
There we see constant repetition, a building upward of stem and leaf in
alternating succession, that would go on AD INFINITUM if there were no other
influence. But as the plant has no separate desire body, the desire body of
the Earth, the Desire World, hardens the plant and checks this intense up-
ward growth in a measure. The creative force that cannot find its expres-
sion by making one particular plant grow taller, seeks another channel: it
builds the flower and imbeds itself in the seed, so that it may grow upward
anew in another plant.
In the Hyperborean Epoch, where man was similarly situated, his vital
body caused him to grow to an enormous size. Acted upon by the Desire
World, he threw off spore-like seed which were either appropriated by an-
other human Ego or used by the nature spirits to build bodies for the
animals who were then beginning to emerge from Chaos. (The highest life
wave starts first at the opening of a period and returns last to Chaos; the
succeeding life waves--animal, plant, and mineral--emerge later and leave
Thus, in the Hyperborean Epoch, when man was similar to the plants in
constitution, his vital body built vertebrae upon vertebrae, and would have
gone on if the individual desire body had not been given him in Lemurian Ep-
och. That commenced to harden the structure and checked the tendency to
grow taller, and as a result the cranium, the flower upon the stem of the
spinal column, was incipiently formed.
Thwarted in its effort to build the one form taller, it became necessary
for the creative force in the vital body to seek a new channel whereby it
might continue its upward growth in another human being. Then man became
hermaphrodite, capable of generating a new body from himself.
Then we come to the second, the Hyperborean Epoch, where man has a dense
and a vital body; that was the plant stage. His food was the plants, and we
hear of Cain as an agriculturist. Next comes the Lemurian Epoch, and man
gets the desire body. He has three vehicles, like the animals.
Then we have that stage where he is to have food of a nature that will
feed all three bodies. This he gets from living animals, as when Abel was a
When we obtained our vital bodies in Hyperborea, the Sun, Moon, and Earth
were still united, and the solar-lunar forces permeated each being in even
measure so that all were able to perpetuate their kind by buds and spores as
do certain plants of today. The efforts of the vital body to soften the
dense vehicle and keep it alive were not then interfered with, and these
primal, plantlike bodies lived for ages. But man was then unconscious and
stationary like a plant; he made no effort or exertion. The addition of a
desire body furnished incentive and desire, and consciousness resulted from
the war between the vital body, which builds, and the desire body, which de-
stroys the dense body.
Thus dissolution became only a question of time, particularly as the con-
structive energy of the vital body was also necessarily divided, one part or
pole being used in the vital functions of the body, the other to replace a
vehicle lost by death. But as the two poles of a magnet or dynamo are req-
uisite to manifestation, so also two single-sexed beings became necessary
for generation; thus marriage and birth were necessarily inaugurated to off-
set the effect of death. Death, then, is the price we pay for conscious-
ness in the present world; marriage and repeated births are our weapons
against the king of terrors until our constitution shall change and we be-
come as angels.
The higher vehicles of the early Atlanteans were not drawn into a concen-
tric position in relation to the dense body, as are ours. The Spirit was
not quite an INdwelling Spirit; it was partially outside, therefore could
not control its vehicles with as great facility as though it dwelt entirely
inside. The head of the vital body was outside of and held a position far
above the physical head. There is a point between the eyebrows and about a
half inch below the surface of the skin, which has a corresponding point in
the vital body. This point is not the pituitary body, which lies much
deeper in the head of the dense body. It might be called "the root of the
nose." When these two points in the dense and the vital bodies come into
correspondence, as they do in man today, the trained clairvoyant sees them
as a black spot, or rather as a vacant space, like the invisible core of a
gas flame. This is the seat of the indwelling Spirit in the man--the Holy
of Holies in the temple of the human body, barred to all but that indwelling
human Ego whose home it is. The trained clairvoyant can see with more or
less distinctness, according to his capacity and training, all the different
bodies which form the aura of man. This spot alone is hidden from him.
This is the "Isis" whose veil none may lift. Not even the highest evolved
being on earth is capable of unveiling the Ego of the humblest and least
developed creature. That, and that alone upon earth, is so sacred that it
is absolutely safe from intrusion.
These two points just spoken of--the one in the dense body and its coun-
terpart in the vital body--were far apart in the men of the early Atlantean
days, as they are in the animals of our day. The head of the horse's vital
body is far outside the head of its dense body. The two points are closer
together in the dog than in any other animal except, perhaps, the elephant.
Whey they come into correspondence we have an animal prodigy, able to count,
On account of the distance between these two points, the Atlantean's
power of perception or vision was much keener in the inner worlds than in
the dense Physical World, obscured by its atmosphere of thick, heavy fog.
In the fullness of time, however, the atmosphere slowly became clearer; at
the same time, the point spoken of in the vital body came closer and closer
to the corresponding point in the dense body. As the two approached each
other, man gradually lost touch with the inner worlds. They became dimmer
as the dense Physical World became clearer in outline. Finally, in the last
third of the Atlantean Epoch, the point in the vital body was united to the
corresponding point in the dense body. Not until then did man become fully
awake in the Physical World; but at the same time that full sight and per-
ception in the Physical World were gained, the capability of perceiving the
inner worlds was gradually lost to most of the people.
During the existence of this Race (the Original Semites) the atmosphere
of Atlantis commenced to clear definitely, and the previously mentioned
point in the vital body came into correspondence with its companion point in
the dense body. The combination of events gave man the ability to see ob-
jects clearly with sharp well-defined contours; but it also resulted in loss
of the sight pertaining to the inner worlds.
In the ages that have passed since the Lemurian Epoch humanity has been
gradually building the cerebro-spinal nervous system, which is under control
of the will. In the latter part of the Atlantean Epoch, this was so far
evolved that it became possible for the Ego to take full possession of the
dense body. That was the time (previously described) when the point in the
vital body came in correspondence with the point at the root of the nose in
the dense body and the indwelling Spirit became awake in the Physical World
but, so far as the greater part of humanity was concerned, lost conscious-
ness of the inner worlds.
MAN'S VITAL BODY IN PRESENT ARYAN EPOCH:
GENERAL NATURE AND FUNCTION:
MANKIND IS NOW EVOLVING IN THE AYRAN EPOCH. HIS VITAL BODY HAS FUNC-
TIONS, COLOR, FORM, ATOMIC STRUCTURE AND POLARITY. ITS EXISTENCE CAN BE
We have seen that man is a very complex organism, consisting of:
(1) The dense body, which is his tool in action.
(2) The vital body, a medium of "vitality" which makes action possible.
(3) The desire body, whence comes desire and which compels action.
(4) The mind, a brake on impulse, giving purpose to action.
(5) The Ego, which acts and gathers experience from action.
The purpose of life is to transform the powers latent in the Ego into dy-
namic energy, whereby it may perfectly control its different vehicles and
act as IT pleases. We know that it does not have full sway now, or there
would be no warfare in our breasts, as we say, between the Spirit and the
flesh, but in reality, as we should say, between the Spirit and the desire
body. It is this warfare that develops the spiritual muscle, as wrestling
builds the physical muscle. It is easy to bid others do this and that, but
to enforce obedience from ONESELF is the hardest task in the world, and it
has been truly said that "the man who conquers himself is greater than he
who takes a city." Goethe, the great initiate poet, gives us the reason why
in the lines:
FROM EVERY POW'R THAT HOLDS THE WORLD IN CHAINS,
MAN FREES HIMSELF WHEN SELF-CONTROL HE GAINS.
In addition to the visible body of man which we see with our physical
eyes, there are other and finer vehicles that are unseen by the great major-
ity of mankind. Nevertheless they are not superfluous appendages to the
physical body, but are indeed much more important from the fact that they
are the springs of all action. Without these finer vehicles the physical
body would be inert, senseless, and dead.
The first of these vehicles we call the vital body because it is the av-
enue of vitality which leavens the dead lump of the mortal coil in the years
of life, and gives us the power to move.
When our present visible body first germinated in the Spirit, it was a
thought-form, but gradually it has become denser and more concrete until it
is now a chemical crystallization. The vital body was next emanated by the
Spirit as a thought-form and is in the third stage of concretion which is
Besides the dense body which is visible to all of us, there are finer ve-
hicles which interpenetrate this organism and which are the springs to its
activities. One is the vital body, composed of ether and concerned in
building the dense body by the food which we take into the system. It con-
trols all the vital functions, such as respiration, digestion, assi-
milation, etc., and works through the sympathetic nervous system. An-
other, still finer vehicle, is called the desire body. This is the vehicle
of our emotions, feelings, and desires which expends the energies stored in
the dense body the vital processes through control of the cerebro-spinal or
voluntary nervous system. In its activities this desire body is constantly
destroying and breaking down tissue built up by the vital body and it is the
war between these two vehicles which causes what we call consciousness in
the Physical World. The etheric forces in the vital body act in such a man-
ner that they convert as much of the food as possible into blood, and this
is the highest expression of the vital body.
Propagation is a faculty of the vital body which is the shadow of the
Life Spirit, the second aspect of the threefold Spirit in man.
Cherubim are described as having been put on guard with a flaming sword
when man was driven out from Eden, lest he eat of the Tree of Life and be-
come immortal, for they are the great creative Hierarchy which had charge
over the Earth in the Sun Period, when the vital body germinated and the
Life Spirit was awakened.
In our Bible there is a description of the first people upon earth. They
are called Adam and Eve; but properly interpreted this means the human race,
which gradually arrogated to itself the power of procreation and thereby be-
came free agents. Humanity was thus given its freedom and made responsible
to the Law of Consequence, for it had arrogated to itself the power to cre-
ate new bodies, and was then separated from the Tree of Life and the state
which we are now cognizant of as etheric. When we learn that we have a vi-
tal body made of ether, and that it is the tree of life to everyone of us
and furnishes us the vitality whereby we are enabled to make the movements
of the body, we may understand why the power to recreate and regenerate our-
selves was taken away from us lest we learn how to vitalize the imperfect
dense body; and we also see why, as stated in the Bible, there were placed
at the gate of the Garden of Eden Cherubim with flaming swords to guard that
It was for a good purpose that this power was taken away. It was not
through malice in order that man should suffer in sorrow and pain, but be-
cause it was only by repeated existences in an inferior body that we could
learn to build for ourselves such a vehicle as would be fit to immortalize.
Man gradually came down from the etheric state to the present solid condi-
tion. He could dwell in the etheric state as easily then as he can today
dwell in the present three elements of the Physical World. In the past
etheric state he contacted internally the life currents that we now contact
unconsciously. He was then able to center the energy of the Sun in his body
and draw it in in a manner different from that at present used. This power
was gradually taken away from him as he entered the more solid state of the
That body of ours which is composed of ether is called the VITAL BODY in
Western Mystery Schools, for, as we have already seen, ether is the avenue
of ingress for vital force from the Sun and the field of agencies in nature
which promote such vital activities as assimilation, growth, and
This vehicle is an exact counterpart of our visible body, molecule for
molecule, and organ for organ, with one exception, which we shall note
later. But it is slightly larger, extending about one and one-half inches
beyond the periphery of our dense vehicle.
The spleen is the entrance gate of forces which vitalize the body. In
the etheric counterpart of that organ solar energy is transmuted to vital
fluid of a pale rose color. From thence it spreads all over the nervous
system, and after having been used in the body it radiates in streams, much
as bristles protrude from a porcupine.
During the daytime the vital body specializes the colorless solar fluid
which is all about us, through the organ we call the spleen. The vitality
permeates the whole body and is seen by the clairvoyant as a fluid of a pale
rose color, having been transmuted upon entering the physical body. It
flows along every nerve, and when it is sent out by the brain centers in
particularly large quantities it moves the muscles to which the nerves lead.
During the waking state there is a constant war between the vital body
and the desire body. The desires and impulses from the desire body are con-
stantly impinging upon the dense body, impelling it to action, regardless of
any damage resulting to the latter instrument, so that desire is gratified.
It is the desire vehicle that urges the drunkard to fill his system with li-
quor, so that the chemical combustion of spirit may raise the vibrations of
the dense body to such a pitch as to make it the willing tool of every mad
impulse, wasting its stored energy with reckless prodigality. The vital
body, on the other hand, has no other interest than the preservation of the
dense vehicle. By way of the spleen it specializes the colorless solar en-
ergy which pervades space, and by some strange chemical process transforms
it into a vital fluid of a beautiful pale rose color, sending it along every
nerve and fiber of the body. The vital body ever aims to husband the energy
it has stored in the dense body. It is constantly concerned in rebuilding
the tissues when they are broken down and destroyed by the powerful on-
slaughts of the rampant desire body.
Four of these colors are quite indescribable, but the fifth--the middle
one of the five--is similar to the tint of an newblown peach blossom. It is
in fact the color of the vital body.
Man's dense and vital bodies have straightened, but his higher vehicles
still retain their ovoid form.
It has been determined by physical science that the atoms in our dense
body are constantly changing so that all the material which composes our
present vehicle at this moment will have disappeared in a few years, but it
is common knowledge that scars and other blemishes perpetuate themselves
from childhood to old age. The reason for this is that the prismatic ether
atoms which compose our vital body remain unchanged from the cradle to the
grave. They are always in the same relative position--that is to say, the
prismatic ether atoms which vibrate the physical atoms in the toes or in the
fingers do not get to the hands, legs, or any other part of the body, but
remain in exactly the same place where they were placed in the beginning. A
lesion of the physical atoms involves a similar impression on the prismatic
ether atoms. The new physical matter molded over them continues to take on
shape and texture similar to those which originally obtained.
The foregoing remarks apply only to the prismatic ether atoms which cor-
respond to solids and liquids in the Physical World, because they assume a
certain definite shape which they preserve. But in addition each human be-
ing at this stage of evolution has a certain amount of the light and re-
flecting ethers, which are the vehicles of sense perception and memory, in-
termingled in his vital body. We may say that the light ether corresponds
to the gases in our Physical World; perhaps the best description that can be
given of the reflecting ether is to call it hyper-etheric. It is a vacuous
substance of a bluish color resembling in appearance the blue core of a gas
flame. It appears transparent and seems to reveal everything that is within
it, but nevertheless it hides all the secrets of nature and humanity. In it
is found one record of the Memory of Nature.
The light and reflecting ethers are of an exactly opposite nature to that
of the stationary prismatic ethers atoms. They are volatile and migratory.
However much or little a man possesses of this material, it is an accretion,
a fruitage, derived from his experiences in life. Inside the body it
mingles with the blood stream and when it has grown by service and sacrifice
in life's school so that it can no longer be contained within the body, it
is seen on the outside as a soul body of gold and blue. Blue shows the
highest type of spirituality, therefore it is smallest in volume and may be
compared to the blue core of the gas flame, while the golden hue forms the
larger part and corresponds to the yellow light which surrounds the core in
the gas ring. The blue color does not appear outside the dense body save in
the very greatest of saints--only yellow is usually observable there. At
death this part of the vital body is etched into the desire body with the
life panorama which it contains. The quintessence of all our life ex-
perience is then eventually impressed upon the seed atom as conscience or
virtue which urges us to avoid evil and to do good in a coming life.
When we analyze the human being, we find that in him all four ethers are
dynamically active in the highly organized vital body. By means of the ac-
tivities of the chemical ether he is able to assimilate food and to grow;
the forces at work in the life ether enable him to propagate his species;
the forces in the light ether supply the dense body with heat, work on the
nervous system and the muscles, thus opening the doors of communication with
the outside world by way of the senses; and the reflecting ether enables the
Spirit to control its vehicles by means of thought. This ether also stores
past experience as memory.
The vital body of plant, animal, and man, extends beyond the periphery of
the dense body as the Etheric Region, which is the vital body of the planet,
extends beyond its dense part, showing again the truth of the Hermetic axiom
"as above, so below." The distance of this extension of the vital body of
man is about an inch and a half. The part which is outside the dense body
is very luminous and about the color of a new-blown peach blossom. It is
often seen by persons having very slight involuntary clairvoyance. The
writer has found, when speaking with such persons, that they frequently are
now aware that they see anything unusual and do not know what they see.
The dense body is built into the matrix of this vital body during
ante-natal life, and with one exception, it is an exact copy, molecule for
molecule, of the vital body. As the lines of force in freezing water are
the avenues of formation for ice crystals, so the lines of force in the vi-
tal body determine the shape of the dense body. All through life the vital
body is the builder and restorer of the dense form. Were it not for the
etheric heart the dense heart would break quickly under the constant strain
we put upon it. All the abuses to which we subject the dense body are coun-
teracted, so far as lies in its power, by the vital body, which is
continually fighting against the death of the dense body.
The exception mentioned above is that the vital body of a man is female
or negative, while that of a woman is male or positive. In that fact we
have the key to numerous puzzling problems of life. That woman gives way
to her emotions is due to the polarity noted, for her positive vital body
generates an excess of blood and causes her to labor under an enormous in-
ternal pressure that would break the physical casement were not a safety
valve provided in the periodical flow, and another in the tears which re-
lieve the pressure on special occasions--for tears are "white bleeding."
Man may have and has as strong emotions as woman, but he is usually able
to suppress them without tears, because his negative vital body does not
generate more blood than he can comfortably control.
Unlike the higher vehicles of humanity, the vital body does not ordi-
narily leave the dense body until the death of the latter. Then the
chemical forces of the dense body are no longer held in check by the evolv-
ing life. They proceed to restore the matter to its primordial condition by
disintegration so that it may be available for the formation of other forms
in the economy of nature. Disintegration is thus due to the activity of the
planetary forces in the chemical ether.
In texture the vital body may be crudely compared to one of those picture
frames made of hundreds of little pieces of wood which interlock and present
innumerable points to the observer. The vital body presents millions of
points to the observer. These points enter into the hollow centers of the
dense atoms, imbuing them with vital force that sets them vibrating at a
rate higher than that of the mineral of the earth which is not thus acceler-
ated and ensouled.
When a person is drowning, or falling from a height, or freezing, the vi-
tal body leaves the dense body, the atoms of which become temporarily inert
in consequence, but at resuscitation it re-enters the dense body and the
"points" are again inserted in the dense atoms. The inertia of the atoms
causes them to resist the resumption of vibration, and that is the cause of
the intense prickly pain and the tingling sensation noted at such times, but
not ordinarily, for the same reason that we become conscious of the starting
or stopping of a clock, but are oblivious to its tick when it is running.
There are certain cases where the vital body partly leaves the dense
body, as when a hand "goes to sleep." Then the entire etheric hand of the
vital body may be seen hanging below the dense arm like a glove, and the
points cause the peculiar pricking sensation felt when the etheric hand
re-enters the dense hand. Sometimes in hypnosis the head of the vital body
divides and hangs outside the dense head, one half over each shoulder, or
lies around the neck like the collar of a sweater. The absence of prickly
sensation at awakening in cases like this is because during the hypnosis
part of the hypnotist's vital body had been substituted for that of the vic-
The atoms of the chemical and life ethers gather around the nuclear seed
atom located in the solar plexus are shaped like prisms. They are all lo-
cated in such a manner that when the solar energy enters our body through
the spleen, the refracted ray is red. This is the color of the creative as-
pect of the Trinity, namely Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, who rules Luna, the
planet of fecundation. Therefore the vital fluid from the Sun which enters
the human body by way of the spleen becomes tinged with a pale rose color,
often noted by seers when it courses along the nerves as electricity does in
the wires of an electric system. Thus charged, the chemical and life ethers
are the avenues of assimilation which preserve the individual, and of fecun-
dation which perpetuate the race.
During life each prismatic vital atom penetrates a physical atom and vi-
brates it. To form a picture of this combination, imagine a pear-shaped
wire basket having walls of spirally curved wire running obliquely from pole
to pole. This is the physical atom; it is shaped nearly like our earth, and
the prismatic vital atom is inserted from the top, which is widest and cor-
responds to the north pole of the earth.
Thus the point of the prism penetrates the physical atom at the narrowest
point, which corresponds to the south pole of our earth, and the whole re-
sembles a top swinging, swaying, and vibrating. In this manner our body is
made alive and capable of motion. (It is noteworthy that our earth is
similarly permeated by a cosmic body of ether, and that those manifestations
which we note as Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are etheric currents
circling the earth from pole to equator as currents in the physical atoms
The light and reflecting ethers are avenues of consciousness and memory.
They are somewhat attenuated in the average individual and have not yet
taken definite form; they interpenetrate the atom as air interpenetrates a
sponge, and they form a slight auric atmosphere outside each atom.
If we had said that the vital body is built of prisms instead of points,
it would have been better, for it is by refraction through these minute
prisms that the colorless solar fluid changes to a rosy hue as observed by
other writers beside the author.
Other new and important discoveries have also been made; for instance, we
know now that the silver cord is grown anew in each life, that one part
sprouts from the seed atom of the desire body in the great vortex of the
liver, that the other part grows out of the seed atom of the dense body in
the heart, that both parts meet in the seed atom of the vital body in the
solar plexus, and that this union of the higher and lower vehicles causes
the quickening. Further development of the cord between the heart and solar
plexus during the first seven years has an important bearing on the mystery
of child-life, likewise its fuller growth from the liver to the solar
plexus, which takes place during the second septenary period, and is a con-
tributory cause of adolescence. Completion of the silver cord marks the end
of child-life, and from that time the solar energy which enters through the
spleen and is tinted by refraction through the prismatic seed atom of the
vital body located in the solar plexus, commences to give a distinctive and
individual coloring to the aura which we observe in adults.
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