The Ethers and the Spiritual Worlds

Peter Stewart, September 2023


Beyond the customarily recognised material states of solid, fluid and gas, referred to esoterically by the elements of earth, water and air, Rudolf Steiner described four additional states – warmth, light, tone and life. In Anthroposophy these are commonly called the ethers. Rudolf Steiner spoke about the ethers over the course of his life’s work. They are mentioned in some of his earliest theosophical lectures we have records of, The Foundations of Esotericism (CW93a) from 1904, in the lecture cycles on Genesis and the Gospels, and, during the later flowering of anthroposophical work in the 1920s, in the scientific courses and lectures to doctors. He spoke from various perspectives, and, in his usual style, often describes but does not define, and never gives a systematic exposition. In this article we will approach them from the perspective of their relationship to the spiritual realms, and in this way attempt to characterize them.

The Ethers and Evolution

As constituent states of the world around us, the ethers are frequently mentioned in Rudolf Steiner’s cosmological descriptions of the evolution of the world. The spiritual scientist investigating the evolution of the world discovers 3 planetary stages preceding our own Earth condition – Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. Their material states were quite different from our current Earth conditions, but their sequence shows how the material states evolved from an initial condition of warmth on Old Saturn, which then condensed in stages to form the elements, and rarified in stages to form the ethers.

The first condition, Old Saturn, consisted of differentiations of living, creative warmth – Rudolf Steiner also describes this warmth as the outer expression of sacrificial will and courage. At this stage the rudiments of the physical body were developed, primarily the senses. At the second stage, on Old Sun, part of this warmth substance condensed to air, and part rarefied or spiritualized to light. Old Sun consisted only of warmth, air and light – it was a globe of luminous, gaseous formations. The task of Old Sun was to incorporate an etheric body into the evolving physical body. During the third stage, Old Moon, air densified to something more fluid or watery, while light rarefied or spiritualized to tone ether. Old Moon consisted of interpenetrating and mobile conditions of water, air, warmth, light and tone, there was as yet nothing solid. On Old Moon an astral body was incorporated into the evolving human being. On the Earth the fluid finally condensed to the solid state, and the most rarefied ether, the life ether, became active. The Earth condition consists of the full range of elements and ethers: earth, water, air, warmth, light, tone and life. It is the stage at which the ‘I’ or ego is incorporated into the human being.

In this process of cosmic evolution, warmth holds a middle, transitionary position between the condensing, materializing stream of air, water, earth, and the rarefying, spiritualizing stream of light, tone, and life. The condensing stream is under the effects of gravity and pressure coming from the centre of the Earth, while the rarefying stream is under the effects of levity or suction, proceeding from the Sun. Each element-ether pair which arose at a planetary stage of evolution — air-light, water-tone, earth-life — has a polar relationship.

Rudolf Steiner emphasized that the elements and ethers are not something we perceive physically, they are the spiritual organizing forces behind what we perceive:

“I will once more state explicitly that what I describe as ‘earth’ or ‘solid’ must not be confused with what modern science calls earth. What is described here is something which is not directly visible around us. Of course, what we tread upon when we tread the earth’s soil is earth, in so far as it is solid; but so are gold, silver, copper and tin, earth. Everything of a solid material nature is earth in the sense of occultism. … It is only when the clairvoyant eye penetrates the external elements — some seventy of them — and seeks the basis of solidity, when he looks for the forces which organize matter into the solid state, it is only then that he discovers the forces which construct, which build, which combine solid, liquid and gaseous.”
CW122 Genesis, Lecture 4, 20 August 1910

The topic of the ethers is complex, and we must be careful not to reduce these complex conditions and phenomena to simplistic descriptions. For example, though Rudolf Steiner describes Old Saturn as being composed of dark warmth, which only at the end of its evolutionary period begins to light up, he also describes it as reflecting ‘mechanically’ all sorts of sense impressions – so that it would be wrong to assume that there were no light effects prior to Old Saturn itself ‘lighting up’. In some lectures, warmth carries in itself light, tone and life; other descriptions of the earth’s evolution begin with the life ether, which then descends through tone, light and warmth. We must also consider that in our current Earth conditions there are complex interactions between the Earth’s ether body, the human ether body and the cosmic ethers. Additionally, the nature of the ethers and their relationship to the elemental states, to the world and to ourselves, has continued to change and evolve over time — the living warmth of Old Saturn is not the same as the mechanical, dead warmth we experience around us today.

The Activity of the Ethers

There are a few places where Rudolf Steiner characterizes the nature of the ethers:

“The substance of the ‘Spirits of Wisdom’ is the ‘ether’, that is, mobile and power-filled wisdom, in other words, ‘life.’”
CW11 Cosmic Memory, Chapter 15. The Life of the Sun, 1904

“The cosmic ether does not radiate in an outward direction with regard to the earth, it radiates with a centripetal movement from all sides. But what lives in all these incoming forces that radiate to the earth are creative, wisdom-filled thoughts. The cosmic ether is at the same time a thought-world of formative forces. … But when the thoughts come back, when one experiences how they live in the cosmic ether, they are not thoughts born of logic, not thoughts with such sharply defined outlines; they are experienced as pictorial thoughts, pictures, Imaginations.”
CW84 The Spiritual Development of Man, Lecture 1, 20 April 1923

Thus, when we consider the ethers, we must not conceive of them as abstract material forces or states, but as actively creative, living thoughts – not like our shadowy thoughts — but as the actively creative wisdom-filled thoughts of the spiritual world.

In the following we will briefly review how Rudolf Steiner characterized the light, tone and life ethers.

Light Ether

Rudolf Seiner describes the light ether as a formative force. It is related to what we perceive as light but is ‘light’ in a much broader sense, in that esoterically ‘light’ is representative of all sense impressions. If we think of the whole world of sense impressions, then we perceive the ‘shining world-picture’ by means of the light ether.

“Bodies which shine send out a form of matter which is described in Theosophy as light ether.”
CW93a The Foundations of Esotericism, Lecture 5, 30 September 1905

“The sense of sight perceives by means of the light ether the objects around us.”
CW93a The Foundations of Esotericism, Lecture 28, 31 October 1905

“Light ether is a term that is formed, of course, from the standpoint of one who sees. For those who see, the aspect of this ether that is connected with light is its pre-eminent effect, but there are other effects that we leave out of account because the majority of human beings can see. If the majority of humanity were blind, this ether would naturally be given a different name, because other aspects of it would manifest more strongly to the blind.”
CW313 Anthroposophical Spiritual Science and Medical Therapy, Lecture 2, 12 April 1921

“You must know however that what Spiritual Science speaks of as forces of light is not identical with what modern physics understands by the term. We do not want here to enter into a discussion of theories, but let me suggest the following. You look out upon the world around you, and perceive it all lit up. What enables you to do this? Something gives you the capacity to perceive the world illumined in this way, and it is something in the ether. Light is, in fact, an ether force. Modern science speaks of light as of something that is present where we see things illumined. Spiritual Science speaks of light in another way. It calls ‘light’ that which underlies other sense-perceptions too; it speaks, for example, of the light of perceptions of sound. Present-day physics, when it speaks of perceptions of sound, is in reality speaking merely of their external correlate — namely, the vibration of the air. The movements in the air are but the medium of the real sound or tone, which is something etheric; the vibrating that goes on in the etheric brings about the vibration of the air. Light lives also in the perceptions of smell. In short, all perceptions have as their basis a light of a kind that is much more all-pervading than the light that is spoken of in the physics of the present day.”
CW317 Curative Education, Lecture 3, 27 June 1924

Light ether is thus more than what we would ordinarily think of as light as taught in physics. We might think of it as bearing the actively creative ‘image’ which shines towards us through the world of sense perceptions.

Tone Ether

Tone ether or sound ether is also called number ether, or chemical ether (and colour ether in one lecture, see CW233 Rosicrucianism and Modern Initiation, Lecture 1, 4 January 1924). It should not be confused with our ordinary experience of sound, which is a related but not identical phenomena, the name refers to this ether’s relationship to the creative spiritual ‘tones’ that organize matter.

“Then, above the light, we have a finer, more etheric state. I have already said that we may give the name ‘sound ether’ to what works within substances as an organizing principle, causing chemical combinations and chemical analyses; it is something which man can only recognize with his external senses when it is transmitted by the air, but it lies spiritually behind all existence. We might call it ‘ringing’ or tonic ether. Alternatively, because this spiritual sound organizes material existence according to number and weight, we might also call it the ether of numbers. Thus we rise from light to sound, but we do not confuse this sound with the external sound which is carried over the air, but recognize it as something which is only perceptible when the clairvoyant sense is in some way awakened.”
CW122 Genesis, Lecture 4, 20 August 1910

“From the occult point of view one can say that the forces in this finer ether are those which govern the chemical affinities of matter, the chemical combinations, the organisation of substances such as we can observe if, for instance, we place a fine powder on a metal plate, and then draw the bow of a violin across the plate, getting as a result the ‘Chladni’ sound-figures. What the coarse physical tone brings about in the powder also occurs throughout space. Space is differentiated, is permeated, by forces which are more rarefied than the forces of light, by forces which represent in the spiritual what tone is in the sense-world. So that when we ascend from warmth to light, and from light to this finer element, we can speak of a chemical of sound-ether, which has the power to decompose and to combine substances, but is in reality of the nature of sound, sound of which the sense-perceptible tone which the ear hears is only the outward expression, the expression made by its passage through air.”
CW122 Genesis, Lecture 2, 18 August 1910

“The parts of the earth which had become fluid were in particular permeated by sphere-harmonies, by tones which streamed into the earth from the universe in every possible harmony. The result of this action of sound in the water-element was a very, very important one. …Thus, the instreaming music from cosmic space gives rise to most manifold forms and figures, and the substances dissolved in the water which were them-selves watery, they listened to the cosmic music and arranged themselves in conformity to it. The most important formation of the dance of the substances to cosmic music is albumen, protoplasm, the foundation of all living growth. Materialists may think as they will of the mechanical construction of albumen from oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and so on; the original protoplasm was formed of cosmic substance that had been formed from the harmonies of cosmic music. And thus the substances in the living were organized according to the world-music.”
CW102 The Influence of Spiritual beings Upon Man, Lecture 5, 16 March 1908

What connects these descriptions is the idea of organizing, mobile relationships. Tone ether arose on Old Moon when the Spirits of Movement became active in evolution. These beings could also be called Spirits of Relationship, as they bring about proportional, dynamic relationships.

“The Spirits of Movement must not be thought of as beings who just bring about changes in location. Rather, they are beings who bring forth something whereby one being continuously comes into new relation to others.”
CW132 The Inner Realities of Evolution, Lecture 4, 21 November 1911

In a much smaller way, we have an experience of this kind of activity in any aesthetic creation when we have to judge the right proportions needed to achieve harmonious relationships. How much of this red to that yellow in a painting? How thick should this leg be in proportion to the rail if making a piece of furniture? How much sour to balance the sweet when cooking? We notice that in the moment when we achieve relationships that are right and balanced what we are creating begins to ‘sing’. We can also reflect that we are a ‘tone’ of the spiritual world (see CW115 Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, Pneumatosophy, Lecture 12, 16 December 1909). Is the fundamental ‘tone’ of our being harmonious or disharmonious. We can also ask ourselves: What is the ‘sound’ of this moment?

Life Ether

The life ether does not correspond to anything we might think of as related to a sense impression, like light or tone. In the lecture cycle The Gospel of St Luke (CW114) Rudolf Steiner simply says “The fourth etheric realm is the ‘life-ether’ — that which underlies actual ‘life’.” In The Foundations of Esotericism (CW93a) he also calls it the atomistic ether.

But what is meant here by ‘life’ – just biological life? Was nothing living until the Earth stage of evolution when the life ether became active — or is a higher, broader idea of life meant?

As the life ether has a polar relationship to the earth element, we can gain insight by looking at what Rudolf Steiner says of the earth element.

In The Inner Realties of Evolution (CW132), Rudolf Steiner describes the spiritual basis behind each element – behind warmth lives creative sacrifice, behind air the virtue of bestowing, behind water is a spiritual deed of renouncement, and behind the earth element there is death. But he characterizes death in a particular way:

“In its true significance death is neither more nor less than the nature of essential contents, contents which are shut out and not in their proper place. Even when death comes to a man in concrete form it is fundamentally the same thing. For when we look at the corpse left behind in the world of Maya, we know that it consists of nothing but matter which at the moment of death was shut out from the Ego, astral body, and etheric body, alienated from that within which alone it had a meaning. The physical human body without the etheric body, astral body, and Ego has no meaning, it is purposeless; at that moment it is excluded from its purpose. That which we can no longer perceive when a man dies, is then for us in the macrocosm. On account of the Cosmic Beings who belong to higher spheres having rejected what was to have been brought to them in sacrifice, the rejected sacrificial substance within the Beings to whom it was thrown back lapses into death, for death signifies the exclusion of any cosmic substance or cosmic being from its actual purpose.”
CW132 The Inner Realities of Evolution, Lecture 5, 5 December 1911

To be in an earth state is for substance to be excluded from purpose, from meaning – a state of separation from the spirit – this is death. In the polarity between the life ether and the earth element we have the polarity between ‘life’ and ‘death’, between meaning-embodied substance and meaningless substance. In the lecture cycle The Gospel of St Luke (CW114), we find Rudolf Steiner refers to the life ether as ‘meaning-ether’ and equates life ether with what lives as meaning in the sound of our words:

“Words have their organ in the sound-ether; our thoughts underlie our words; words are forms of expression for thoughts. These forms of expression fill etheric space inasmuch as they send their vibrations through the sound-ether; ‘tone’ or ‘sound’ is only the shadow of the actual thought-vibrations. The inner essence of all our thoughts, that which endows our thoughts with meaning, actually belongs; in respect of its etheric nature, to the life-ether itself.”
CW114 The Gospel of St Luke, Lecture 7, 21 September 1909

We can see in life ether a rarefied state of substance which fully embodies meaning and purpose, which fully embodies spiritual being — it is spirit-permeated substance, ego-permeated substance.

Rudolf Steiner paraphrasing the teachings of Zarathustra: “When you look up to the sun you are aware of its beneficial warmth and light flowing down to earth; but when you have evolved higher organs, when you have developed spiritual perception, you will behold the Being of the sun Who lives behind the physical sun. You will then perceive the activities of sound, and within these the meaning of life!”
CW123 The Gospel of St Matthew, Lecture 12, 12 September 1910

The Ethers and the Spiritual Worlds

Rudolf Steiner says of the tone or chemical ether, that it is the bearer of the Harmony of the Spheres:

“Of higher states of rarefaction, man on Earth perceives only the warmth ether, and light. What he perceives as sound or tone is a materialization of the real sound which lies in the sound ether. By sound ether is meant the bearer of what is called the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’, perceptible only to clairaudience.”
CW123 The Gospel of St Matthew, Lecture 12, 12 September 1910

In the 6th lecture of Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz (CW130) Rudolf Steiner equates the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’ with a realm of the spiritual world he calls Devachan. The activity of the chemical ether is the projection of impulses coming from Devachan:

“What we call chemical action is projected into the physical world from the world of Devachan — the realm of the Harmony of the Spheres. In the combination of two substances according to their atomic weights, we have a reflection of two tones of the Harmony of the Spheres. The chemical affinity between two substances in the physical world is like a reflection from the realm of the Harmony of the Spheres. The numerical ratios in chemistry are an expression of the numerical ratios of the Harmony of the Spheres, which has become dumb and silent owing to the densification of matter. If man were able to etherealize material substance and to perceive the atomic numbers the inner formative principle thereof, he would be hearing the Harmony of the Spheres.”
CW130 Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz, Lecture 6, 1 October 1911

But what of the other ethers, are they also bearers of different ‘realms’ of the spiritual world?

In the lecture quoted above, there follows a diagram indicating that a relationship exists between light ether and the astral world, tone ether and lower Devachan, also called the Harmony of the Spheres, and life ether and higher Devachan.

These ‘layers’ of the spiritual world interpenetrate; they are not spatially separate. In Anthroposophy, the names for these worlds changes depending on the perspective from which they are described (see CW17 The Threshold of the Spiritual World, Chapter 16). The astral world is the closest realm to the world we ordinarily perceive, it is also called the soul world or the elemental world. Devachan is the pure spiritual world – called Spiritland in Theosophy (CW9), the realm of archetypes. These realms are accessible to different forms of spiritual cognition and from this perspective are also called the worlds of Imagination (astral world), Inspiration (lower Devachan) and Intuition (higher Devachan). We can examine the nature of these three spiritual worlds to gain a better understanding of what is meant by light, tone and life.

Imaginative World

The Imaginative or astral world is cognized by a picture-consciousness, a transformed dream consciousness – it is a living in pictures of the spiritual world: “A world filled with flowing colours and radiant light-beings surrounds him, the astral world.” CW283 The Inner Nature of Music and the Experience of Tone, Lecture 2, 12 November 1906.

“When the observer in the higher worlds once knows what Imagination really is, he soon acquires the conviction that the pictures of the astral world are not merely pictures, but manifestations of spiritual beings. He comes to know that these imaginative pictures have reference to spirit or soul being just as do sensory colours to sensory things or beings. …
If we would arrive at the truth about the imaginative world, we must not form too narrow a concept of spiritual sight, for in that world there are not mere light and colour perceptions, comparable to the sight experiences of the physical world, but also impressions of heat and cold, of taste and smell, and still other experiences of the imaginative ‘senses’ for which the physical world offers no likeness. Impressions of heat and cold are, in the imaginative (astral) world, revelations of will and intention on the part of soul and spirit beings. Whether such a being aims at good or evil comes to light in a definite effect of heat or cold. Astral beings can also be ‘tasted’ or ‘smelled.’ — Only what constitutes in the actual sense the physical element of tone and sound is almost wholly lacking in the real imaginative world.”
CW12 The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Chapter 4, Inspiration and Intuition, 1905

The light ether is the bearer of the Imaginations of the astral world – a world of pictures that are the manifestations of spiritual beings. In the same way that light ether was described as representing sense impressions in general, imaginative perception also involves impressions of heat, cold, taste and smell. What is notably absent is ‘tone’.

Inspirative World

Inspiration is characterized as a perception of spiritual tones, the harmony of the spheres. It is the transformed unconsciousness of dreamless sleep – emptied consciousness into which the spiritual world flows. Inspirative consciousness perceives not only the pictures, but the relationships between the beings. It is a world of ‘tones’ which reveal the inner nature of beings.

“The third stage is Reading in the Occult Script, that is, not only seeing isolated pictures but letting the relationship of these pictures work upon one. This becomes what is called occult script. One begins to coordinate the lines of force which stream creatively through the world forming them into definite figures and colour-forms through the imagination. One learns to discover an inner connection which is expressed in these figures and this acts as spiritual tone, as the sphere-harmony, for the figures are founded on true cosmic proportions.”
CW99 Theosophy of the Rosicrucian, Lecture 14, 6 June 1907

“If anything at all in the realm of sense can be compared with this world of Inspiration, it is the world of tone opened up to us by the sense of hearing. But now not the tones of earthly music are concerned, but purely ‘spiritual tones’. One begins to ‘hear’ what is going on at the heart of things. The stone, the plant, and so forth, become ’spiritual words’. The world begins to express its true nature to the soul. It sounds grotesque, but it is literally true, that at this stage of knowledge one ‘hears spiritually the growing of the grass’. The crystal form is perceived like sound; the opening blossom ‘speaks’ to men. The inspired man is able to proclaim the inner nature of things; everything rises up before his soul, as though from the dead, in a new kind of way. He speaks a language that stems from another world, and that alone can make the everyday world comprehensible.”
CW12 The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Stages of Higher Knowledge, 1905

“This new world is not one of light and colours but announces itself first as a world of tone. In this state of consciousness, man develops the faculty to hear spiritually and to perceive tone combinations and varieties of tone inaudible to the physical ear. This world is called Devachan.
Now, one should not believe that when man hears the world of tone welling up he does not retain the world of light and colors as well. The world of tone is permeated also with the light and colours that belong to the astral world. The most characteristic element of the Devachanic world, however, is this flowing ocean of tones. From this world of the continuity of consciousness, man can bring the tone element down with him and thus hear the tone element in the physical world. A tone lies at the foundation of everything in the physical world. Each aspect of the physical represents certain Devachanic tones. All objects have a spiritual tone at the foundation of their being, and, in his deepest nature, man himself is such a spiritual tone.”
CW283 The Inner Nature of Music and the Experience of Tone, Lecture 1, 3 December 1906

The tone ether as the bearer of the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’, the spiritual tones and harmonies of Devachan, is the bearer of Inspirations. It does not bear the ‘shining-image’, but the ‘sounding-relationships’.

Intuitive World

Intuition is the highest form of spiritual cognition. It does not perceive spiritual beings in an image, or their actions and relationships as a ‘tone’, but is cognition of the being directly through living in the other. We pass from their light forms and spiritual tones to their very life.

“Lastly, at the fourth stage of knowledge Inspiration also ceases. Of the elements customarily observed in everyday knowledge, the ego alone remains to be considered. The attainment of this stage by the occult student is marked by a definite inner experience. This experience manifests itself in the feeling that he no longer stands outside the things and occurrences that he recognizes, but is himself within them. Images are not the object, but merely its imprint. Also, Inspiration does not yield up the object itself, but only tells about it. But what now lives in the soul is in reality the object itself. The ego has streamed forth over all beings; it has merged with them. The actual living of things within the soul is Intuition.”
CW12 The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Stages of Higher Knowledge, 1905

“In the same way, in intuitive cognition, one lives in all things. The perception of the ego is the prototype of all intuitive cognition. Thus to enter into all things, one must first step outside oneself. One must become ‘selfless’ in order to become blended with the ‘self,’ the ‘ego’ of another being.”
CW12 The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Stages of Higher Knowledge, 1905

Intuitive consciousness is a living in the being of another. The world of Intuition penetrates to perception of actual beings – not their images or relationships, but the life of the being themselves. It is also characterized as moving from a perception of spiritual tones to a perception of the spiritual Word – the speech of the Logos.

“But behind the light is spiritual tone, and behind that is cosmic speech.”
CW122 Genesis, Lecture 2, 18 August 1910

Life ether is related to higher Devachan, that realm of the spiritual world in which Intuitive consciousness experiences the life of spiritual beings. Life ether bears the essence of the beings of the higher spiritual world as their ‘meaning’.

Compare these stages of knowledge to a more mundane example. Suppose you are walking in the park and see in the distance a group of people. Initially they appear for you as a picture, you see the colours of their garments, the gestures that they make to each other, they form a sort of tableau. As you get closer you may hear what they are saying, these two are in the midst of an argument, these two are in love. You may start to perceive the dynamics of their relationships. Then you may actually get to know them as individuals, as individual beings. At this point you have become part of the group and are participating in their life.


It is common when approaching the ideas of Anthroposophy to try to understand them through ideas we have received through our education and culture – in this case, to think of ‘light’ and ‘tone’ as taught to us in physics. What I hope this article has shown it that we need to expand our ideas of ‘light’, ‘tone’ and ‘life’ if we would meet Rudolf Steiner’s understanding of the ethers. As we have seen, ‘light’, ‘tone’ and ‘life’ are much broader ideas – ‘light’ encompasses our experience of the whole ‘world-picture’ which shines into our consciousness; ‘tone’ involves the resounding, ordering, qualitative relationships that occur between things when they ‘sound’ together; while ‘life’ is the essence of their existence — their inner Word — their living meaning or purpose.

This sequence of light, tone and life reflects the greater pattern of the ‘layers’ or ‘realms’ of the spiritual world, perceived through the stages of spiritual cognition, the worlds of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. Thus, there is a relationship between the light ether and the Imaginative world, the astral world, which is perceived through a ‘picture-consciousness’; the tone ether and the world of Inspirations, the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’, where organizing dynamic proportional relationships are experienced as ‘tones’ and harmonies; the life ether and the world of Intuitions, of knowing through living in the being of the other.

“What occurs through such being is discerned through Imagination in pictures; laws and relationships, through Inspiration; if one would come face to face with the beings themselves, Intuition is needed.”
CW12 The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Chapter 3, Inspiration, 1905

In closing, we might characterize light ether as shining ether, as image ether, the bearer of Imaginations; tone ether as sounding ether, the ether bearing organizing, harmonious proportional relationships; and life ether as the most rarified state of substance which embodies spiritual being, spirit-permeated substance, substance permeated with meaning, with the Cosmic Word.