Light Ether

Light Ether

Since the discovery of relativity by Einstein, we know that light has some pretty unusual properties, including that the speed of light is the virtual "speed limit" of the universe. When we look to how divinities are described there is invariably a luminous or radiant quality that sustains life

The prolific and erudite Owen Barfield writes:

"In the Four Ethers of which Rudolf Steiner has said so much, we find again the four principles of which man is composed. We find physical, etheric, astral and ego in the Warmth Ether, the Light Ether, the Chemical Ether or Sound Ether and the Life Ether respectively.

Here again, in the case of the Light Ether, we get that special emphasis ÔÇô of the principle within its own principle. Light Ether is the etheric in the etheric. Without going into the question how far it is possible to call any part of light ÔÇťphysicalÔÇŁ, I suppose, then, we are not far astray, if we think of this light from the sun that comes flooding in on us through our eyes, when we wake in the morning, as a sort of gateway through which our consciousness can enter into an experience of the etheric world ÔÇô if we think of light as, shall I say, the etheric par excellence. And that is why I begin by considering our experience of light from this point of view, by considering our experience of the etheric cosmos.

We must, however, distinguish experience of the etheric from ideas we may form about the etheric before we have any experience. These ideas are likely to be ÔÇô in my case they certainly were ÔÇô not truly ideas about the etheric at all, but only ideas about the effects of the etheric in the physical." -- Owen Barfield, The Light of the World.
If we consider light ether the "etheric in the etheric" this is almost the quintessence of the etheric, which is life itself. For those who might struggle with the terminology of "ethericity" try replacing it with "vitality" which makes some of Steiner's descriptions perhaps a bit more lucid. 
When Rudolf Steiner describes the purpose of adding manure to fields being┬á´╗┐enlivening´╗┐ the soil, he means┬á´╗┐adding the quality of life´╗┐ to deadened earth, which is to say,┬á´╗┐adding the etheric (living) quality.┬á

´╗┐Barfield's description of light as the "etheric in the etheric" might almost be phrased as "the┬á´╗┐vital within vitality´╗┐." After all, what is water without the warmth of light? Ice. Even humus is more than half carbohydrates and carbohydrates are formed of water, air, and┬á´╗┐´╗┐the energy of┬á´╗┐light´╗┐. The value of humus comes from light. As such, it's easy to see why cultures would venerate the Sun. The Sun shines on the righteous and wicked alike, sharing with impartiality to all. If we wish to make plants more┬á´╗┐receptive´╗┐ to the light streaming in from the cosmos, we must┬á´╗┐add´╗┐ some carefully decomposed byproducts of light (humus and biodynamic preparations) so the plants "remember" who they are.
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