Explaining What the Etheric Body Is and How It Affects You

What is the etheric body describes the subtle body closest to the physical body. The etheric body is essential to know about as it impacts much of how we operate on a physical level and is the foundation for many of our psychic endeavors. Additionally, in this post, you’ll also learn that the etheric body leaves our physical body at death. Through it, our consciousness moves into the astral plane, also known as heaven.

The Definition

The etheric body, ether-body, æther body, a name given by neo-Theosophy to a vital body or subtle body propounded in esoteric philosophies as the first or lowest layer in the “human energy field”, or aura. It’s in immediate contact with the physical body to sustain it and connect it with “higher” bodies.

The etheric body is only one of the six subtle bodies we all have. Yet, it’s the foundation for the other five energy bodies. Importantly, the etheric body serves many vital functions, one of which is to house the chakras. 

I Usually Start Each Psychic Development Class with this…

When I teach psychic and Mediumship classes, somewhere in the introduction, I ask the question, “Are you aware that you have several bodies?” This question immediately grabs everyone’s attention. 

Etheric Body Illustration

The Holy Grail, illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1917. Pre-Raphaelite art at this time often represented contemporary interest in the “spirit body”, “aura” or “body of light.”

Yes, we humans indeed possess more than just the physical body. There are additional “bodies” interactively linked to corresponding planes of existence. Specifically, each of these different layers of energy, including the one we recognize as the physical body, inter-penetrates the others to work as a complete system.

The Subtle Bodies Are a Natural Part of Our Being

With this in mind, think of your subtle bodies as various layers of vibrating energy. Add to that, these layers make up the human energy system. Correspondingly, along with your chakra system, your subtle bodies and additional energy points, create an inter-connected field of energy that permeates and surrounds the physical body. This energy field creates the human Aura.

Be Grateful for the Chakras

To further explain, each of your subtle bodies connects into the physical body via a whirling energy point called a chakra. The chakras direct the energy all through your physical body via a meridian system much like the circulation system of blood.

Certainly. without these ever-spinning vortexes of energy, we humans would have a very limited existence. Or startlingly, not exist at all.


It’s a Hierarchy of Energy

All things on earth vibrate with energy!

Each subtle body vibrates as well. More to the point, each one vibrates at a slightly faster vibration than the one before it. As a consequence, the etheric body vibrates faster than the physical body and the emotional body is faster than the etheric body, etc.


Significantly, the first of the subtle bodies is the Etheric Body. Notably, “Etheric” comes from the word Ether, which means “the state between energy and matter.” In particular. the Etheric Body is considered the vehicle for Prana, life force energy absorbed from the sun’s rays, which keeps us alive.

Everything that Exists Has an Etheric Counterpart

In our earthly dimensional plane, everything that exists has its own subtle corresponding etheric body counterpart.

With this in mind, envision the human etheric body as vibrating web of energy from which our energetic blueprint forms. It vibrates at a slightly higher frequency than the physical body. Therefore, it’s not ordinarily perceived by the physical eyes. There are exceptions, which you’ll read about below.

Ultimately, the subtle body which carries our strength and vitality, is essential for our well-being.

Chiefly, when compromised by shock, trauma, and extensive drug use as well as unresolved issues, the etheric body becomes damaged, and so does our vitality.

Is the Etheric Body Actually the Astral Body?

According to some, the astral body is an energetic body that is closely associated with the etheric body. Some claim that the astral body IS the etheric body! Of interest, joined with but not tethered to the physical body, the astral body astrally projects. To illustrate, the term ‘astral projection’ implies the ability of the astral body to roam free of the physical plane. The astral body is frequently associated with the spirit part of our body for this reason,.

Interestingly, here’s where things get murky. Neither Helena Blavatsky nor the so-called ascended masters recognize or mention any body matching the description given to the etheric body by Leadbeater, Besant, Bailey, and other subsequent writers. (See link below)
Blavatsky and the “Masters” also never use the term “etheric body.”

An interesting viewpoint regarding the subtle body:

“No-one had ever heard of the etheric body until C. W. Leadbeater claimed to have discovered it by his clairvoyant powers sometime around the early 1900s. He and Annie Besant then altered the existing description and definition of the astral body in order to fit the “newly discovered” etheric body into the details of man’s inner constitution. At the same time, they altered the definition and details of all the other “principles” or components in man, resulting in terrible confusion for many students ever since.”

Early Theosophists

In the esoteric writings of Arthur E. Powell, C. W. Leadbeater, and Annie Besant, and other metaphysicians, the etheric body’ is called various names. The most common of these: The Etheric Double, Etheric Template, and The Vital Body.

To add to this, the subtle body is less dense than the physical body vibrating at a much faster rate of frequency. As mentioned, this subtle body serves as the blueprint for the physical body, meaning it provides the physical form framework of our physical body.

The Etheric Body Occupies the Same Space

Kirlian-ethericTo best describe it, the etheric body occupies the same space as the physical body. However, it is separated by its vibratory frequency as are all the subtle bodies.

As mentioned, the etheric body also permeates the physical body. Significantly, it’s the only subtle body that can be viewed with the physical eyes.

To be specific, the etheric body is usually detected as radiant whitish-blue energy that appears as tiny pulsating spike of energy surrounding the human body form by those trained in viewing the aura, such as clairvoyants and energy healers. To be more specific, these energy spikes flare out farther and as quickly, recede as individuals feel varied emotions.

Some individuals are able to see the etheric body aura around a physical body. Often, individuals that can see this faint aura aren’t aware they’re seeing something unusual. To them, it’s so natural, they may think everyone sees it.

Through **Kirlian photography, the etheric body is made evident. It extends outwards from 1/4 inch to 1 inch beyond the surface of the skin. This radiant energy increases and decreases in size, and when observed, will periodically flare out at certain areas responding to changes in thoughts and emotions. Additionally, the etheric body pulsates at about 15-20 cycles per minute.


The etheric body contains two parts:

  1. Firstly, the primary part is the etheric double. This double is an exact duplicate of our human body right down to the atoms, cells, tissues, muscles, and organs. Think of the etheric body of as a photographic negative Additionally, the first part of the Etheric Body also contains our chakras and countless energy channels called meridians.
  2. Secondly, the aura is the next part of the etheric body. It’s an egg-shaped electromagnetic field of luminous waves which surrounds us. Every person has an aura. Comprised of moving colors, the aura extends out roughly three feet from the physical body. The colors of the aura are in constant flux and are continually shaped and reshaped by patterns of thought and feeling. It can reflect our personalities, lifestyles, and physical condition. Moreover, our past, present, and even the future lifetimes data is contained in the aura.
  3. Thirdly, find out more about how the aura provides this information in our Akashic Records Course at Imagine Spirit.

The Phenomena of Phantom Limbs

Interestingly, individuals who’ve lost a limb sometimes complain that they can feel pain at the extremities where the appendage once existed. This anomaly is because the etheric portion of the appendage is not removed with the physical appendage at the time of separation. Furthermore, under certain conditions of stimulus, feeling sensations are experienced where the missing limb was located.

The Etheric Body and Reincarnation

Of primaary note, the etheric body plays an important part in determining the type of physical vehicle which incarnating individuals move into. At death, the etheric body separates from the physical body. And, like the physical body, it dies and decomposes in due course, releasing the “soul” to the astral body for the next stage of the soul’s never-ending journey.

Amazingly, a series of photographs taken by Hereward Carrington and John R. Meader in their book, Death: Its Causes and Phenomenon, 1912 demonstrates this. In the first experiment of its kind, Madam Baraduc granted the macabre permission to be photographed at death and in the hours afterward for the sake of science.

More amazingly, Carrington and Meader set up a camera and did just that. Successive images show a whitish substance leaving the physic body and hovering for several hours over Madam Baraduc before completely disappearing.


(The complete series of photos is in the book by Susan J. Blackmore, Beyond the Body, 1992)

In Conclusion:

Clearly, the etheric body, sometimes known as the astral body, has been captured on photographic plates called Kirlian Photography. It’s a vital functioning part of us.

Finally, regardless of the esoteric definition wars, there exists a subtle body that is one step up from the physical body. Ultimately, it impacts our lives and allows us to exist through the functioning of the chakras. More importantly, this body moves us to the astral plane, some call heaven, upon death.

*Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian occultist, philosopher, and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.
»Article: The Etheric Body Does Not Exist
**Kirlian photography: a technique for recording photographic images of corona discharges and hence, supposedly, the auras of living creatures.

by Carol Nicholson, Ph.D., and Certified Psychic-Medium

Hi! I’m Carol Nicholson and I hope you enjoyed this post! I’m dedicated to providing helpful, valuable, and fascinating blogs on a wide range of spiritual and psychic arts topics. Check out the many courses we have to offer!

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