1. The nature of the etheric body, its purpose and description
2. The nature of prana, solar, planetary, and of forms
3. The function of the etheric body, receiver, assimilator, transmitter of prana; its disorders
4. Macrocosmic and microcosmic ethers, planetary Logos and the ethers, cosmic and systemic ethers, protective purpose of the etheric body
5. Death & the etheric body, microcosmic death & macrocosmic pralaya
TCF p. 97-111
Treatise on Cosmic Fire
Section 1: The Internal Fires
The etheric body and Prana 1
Main Topics in Section 1:
Div. A The Internal Fires of the Sheaths
Div. B The Personality ray and its relationship to Fire
Div. C Prana and the Etheric Body
Div. D Kundalini and the Spine
Div. E Motion on the Physical and Astral lanes
Div. F The Law of Economy
III. FUNCTIONs OF THE ETHERIC BODY 2
1. The etheric body is a receiver of prana 2
The etheric body is:
Ø ‘Negative’ or receptive in respect to the rays of the sun, and as
Ø ‘Positive’ and expulsive in respect to the dense physical body
Ø A second function — assimilation — is balanced, or internal
The Radiant Receptive Triangle
The centres between the solar blades, above the solar plexus, and the etheric spleen
The ‘Silver Cord’ 3
The ‘Etheric Web’
2. The etheric body is an assimilator and distributor of prana, and also acts as a separating web 4
Circulation is around the triangle three times, and then out to, through, and away from, the whole body 4
Essence escapes, with added individual quality
Human knowledge of the etheric sheath as a separator or ring-pass-not, and its functions as a receiver and distributor of prana, is in its infancy, still in process of unfoldment 5
1. The fourth etheric sub-plane of the physical plane is the immediate concern of:
a. Man, the microcosm,
b. The Heavenly Man, the planetary Logos,
c. The Grand Man of the Heavens, the solar Logos.
2. In this fourth chain and fourth round, the fourth ether is beginning to be studied, and — viewed as a separating web — it permits occasional exit to those of suitable vibration
3. The etheric body is a Transmitter of Prana 6
The purpose of the etheric body is to convey and distribute ‘the fire’ to all parts of its system.
Certain facts need emphasis and consideration as we study this ‘static ring’ and its ‘circulating fires’
The System – cosmic prana is received vitalise the vehicle that is the physical material expression of the solar Logo
A Planet – solar prana is received to vitalise the vehicle that is the physical material expression of one of the seven Heavenly Men.
The microcosm, man
Thus, a great interaction goes on: 7
Ø All parts blend, merge and are interdependent
Ø All parts receive, colour, qualify and transmit
Ø An endless circulation goes on that has no conceivable beginning nor any possible end (from the point of view of finite man), for its source and end are hid in ‘the unknown cosmic fount’
Ø Were conditions everywhere perfected, this circulation would proceed unimpeded and might result in a condition of almost endless duration, but
Ø Limitation and termination result as the effects of imperfection giving place to a gradual perfection.
Ø Every cycle originates from another cycle of a relative completeness
Ø Every cycle will give place ever to a higher spiral
Ø Thus eventuate periods of apparent relative perfection leading to ones still greater.
Ø The aim for this greater cycle is the blending of the two fires of matter, latent and active; and their merging with the fires of mind and spirit till they are lost from sight in the general ‘flame’
Ø The ‘fires of mind and spirit burn up matter ‘and thereby bring about liberation from the confining vehicles
Ø The ‘altar of earth is the birthplace of spirit’, its ‘liberator from the mother’ (matter), and its ‘entrance into higher realms’
Hence, when the pranic vehicle is working perfectly in all three groups, human, planetary and solar, the ‘union with latent fire’ will be accomplished
Herein lies the reason for the emphasis laid on the necessity for building pure, refined physical vehicles.
Ø The more refined and rarefied the form, the better a receiver of prana will it be, and the less will be the resistance found to the uprising of kundalini at the appointed time 8
Ø Coarse matter and crude immature physical bodies are a menace to the occultist, and no true seer will be found with a body of a gross quality
Ø The dangers of disruption are too great, the menace of ‘disintegration by fire’ too awful
4. Disorders of the etheric body 9
Similar ills of the etheric vehicle of the microcosm are found in the Macrocosm.
All diseases of the etheric body will appertain to its threefold purpose (i.e. the apprehension and distribution of prana, and acting as separator between physical and astral bodies). They can be:
a. Functional, (meaning: affecting its apprehension of prana)
b. Organic, (meaning: affecting its distribution of prana)
c. Static, (meaning: affecting the web, viewed solely as providing a physical ring-pass-not, and acting as a separator between the physical and the astral)
a. Microcosmic functional disorders 10
These have to do with the reception by man, via the necessary centres, of ‘the pranic fluids’
The race suffers from the following incapacities:
1. Inability to tap pranic currents, owing to the unhealthy lives passed by so many.
2. Over-ability to tap pranic currents 11
In touching upon similar conditions in the planet, both these types of trouble will be found.
The ‘spirit of the planet’ (the ‘planetary entity’) has his cycles; in the absorption of planetary prana, and in its correct distribution, lies the secret of fertility and equable vegetation.
b. Microcosmic organic disorders 12
1. Troubles due to congestion
2. Destruction of tissue due either to
a. Over-absorption of prana, or
b. Its too rapid blending with latent physical fire
Etheric congestion leads to abnormal ‘thickening of the web’
Destruction of tissue 13
c. Microcosmic static disorders 15
A ring-pass-not acts only as a hindrance to what is of small attainment in evolution, but forms no barrier to the more progressed
The whole question depends upon two things, which are”
1. The karma of the man, planetary Logos, and solar Logos, and…
2. The degree of dominance of the spiritual indwelling entity over its vehicle
We will now consider the functions of the etheric body and its relation to the physical body.
The the inter-relation is so close that it is not possible to discuss them separately. The functions of the etheric body are threefold:
1. It is the receiver of prana.
2. It is the assimilator of prana.
3. It is the transmitter of prana.
‘Pranic emanations of the sun’ are absorbed by the etheric body via certain centres, principally in the upper part of the body.
From thence they are directed downwards to the centre called’ the etheric spleen’; this is the counterpart in etheric matter of that organ.
The main ‘centre for the reception of prana’ at present is a ‘centre between the shoulder blades’.
Another has been allowed to become partially dormant in man through the abuses of so-called ‘civilisation’. It is situated slightly above the solar plexus.
In the coming root-race, and increasingly in this, the necessity for exposure of these two centres to the rays of the sun will be appreciated, with a corresponding improvement in physical vitality and adaptability.
These three centres:
1. Between the shoulder blades
2. Above the diaphragm, and slightly above the solar plexus
3. And the etheric spleen
make, if one could but see it, a ‘radiant etheric triangle’
This triangle is the ‘originating impulse’ for the later ‘pranic circulation’ throughout the entire system.
The etheric body is really a net-work of fine channels, which are the component parts of one ‘interlacing fine cord’, – one portion of this ‘cord’ being the ‘magnetic link’ which unites the physical and the astral bodies
This ‘cord’ is snapped or broken after withdrawal of the etheric body from the dense physical body at the time of ‘death’.
The ‘silver cord’ is loosed, as the Bible expresses it and this is the basis of the legend of the fateful sister who cuts the thread of life with dreaded shears. (Eccles. XII, 6. Also the Three Fates of Greek mythology, Ed.))
The ‘etheric web’ (of a human being, Ed.) is composed of ‘the intricate weaving of this vitalised cord’.
Apart from the ‘seven centres within the web’ (which correspond to the sacred centres, and of which the spleen is frequently counted as one) it has the two above-mentioned centres which make—with the spleen—a triangle of activity. [Page 99]
The ‘etheric web’ (of the solar system) is of an analogous nature, and likewise has its three receptive centres for cosmic prana.
The mysterious ‘band’ in the heavens, which we call the Milky Way, (S. D. II.250) is closely connected with ‘cosmic prana’, that ‘cosmic vitality or nourishment’ which vitalises the solar etheric system.
(Was this written before the Milky Way was known (by man) to be a galactic disk? It looks like a ‘band’ to us. Did the fact that it looks like a ‘band’ influence the development of the idea that the etheric body is like a silver ‘cord? Ed.)
The process of assimilation is carried on in the ‘pranic triangle’.
The prana entering into either centre, circulates three times around the triangle before being transmitted to all parts of the etheric vehicle, and from thence to the dense physical body.
The main organ of assimilation is the spleen — both the etheric centre and the dense physical organ.
The ‘vital essence from the sun’ is passed into the etheric spleen
It is there subjected to a process of intensification or devitalisation, according to the condition, healthy or not, of that organ
If the man is in a healthy state, the emanation received will be augmented by his own individual vibration. Its rate of vibration will be keyed up before it is passed on into the physical spleen
If the man is in a poor condition of health the rate of vibration will be slowed down.
These three centres are in the form that all centres take, of saucer-like depressions, resembling somewhat the appearance of small whirlpools
They draw within their sphere of influence the currents that come their way.
The centres should be pictured as whirling vortices with a closely woven threefold channel passing from each centre to the other, and forming an almost separate circulatory system.
This finds its ‘point of departure for the entire system’ at the further side of the spleen to that at which the prana entered. [Page 100]
The ‘vital fluid’ circulates through and between these three centres three times, before it finally passes out from them to the periphery of its little system.
This final circulation carries the prana, via the fine interlacing channels, to every part of the body, which becomes entirely impregnated by these emanations, if it might be so expressed.
These emanations find their way, finally, out of the etheric system by means of ‘surface radiation’. (From the acupuncture points? Ed.)
The ‘pranic essence’ escapes from the circumference of its temporary ring-pass-not as ‘emanative human prana,’
This is the same prana as earlier received, plus the peculiar quality that any single individual may convey to it during its transitory circulation.
The ‘essence’ escapes, plus ‘individual quality’.
Here again can be seen the correspondence to the escape of all ‘essences’ from within any ring-pass-not when the cycle has been completed.
This matter of the etheric body is of a very practical interest,
When its importance is better realised, men will attend to the distribution of prana within the body with closer attention, and will see that the vitalisation of the body, via the three centres, proceeds unhindered. (Yes, but how, precisely? Ed.)
The subject has necessarily to be handled in a superficial manner, and only outlines and scattered hints can be given. (Why? Ed.)
Nevertheless, if this teaching is studied with care, it will convey new knowledge about truths that will prove invaluable
The place of the etheric sheath as a separator or ring-pass-not, and its functions as a receiver and distributor of prana, are dealt with here in a larger sense than previously, and the subject may later be expanded upon.
Two truths stand out from the aggregate of facts so slightly dealt with here:
We have touched here but little on the subject of ‘the fire’
We have been stimulating interest, and emphasising the utility of the pranic vehicle.
Let me briefly recapitulate for the sake of clarity:
The System receives prana from cosmic sources via three centres, and redistributes it to all parts of its extended influence, or to the bounds of the solar etheric web.
This cosmic prana becomes coloured by solar quality and reaches the furthest confines of the system.
Its mission might be described as the vitalisation of the vehicle that is the physical material expression of the solar Logos.
The Planet receives prana from the solar centre, and redistributes it via the three receiving centres to all parts of its sphere of influence.
This solar prana becomes coloured by the planetary quality and is absorbed by all evolutions found within the planetary ring-pass-not.
Its mission might be described as the vitalisation of the vehicle that is the physical material expression of one or other of the seven Heavenly Men.
Each planet is the embodiment of some ray aspect, and its quality is marked predominantly on all its evolution.
The microcosm receives prana from the sun after it has permeated the planetary etheric vehicle, so that it is solar prana, plus planetary quality.
Prana is ‘active radiatory heat’
Prana varies in vibration and quality according to the receiving Entity.
Man passes the prana through his etheric vehicle, colours it with his own peculiar quality, and then transmits it to the lesser lives that make up his little system.
Once in the history of the race (in Lemurian days) this was seen in the destruction of the race and the continents by means of fire. [In the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 473, footnote, the destruction of Lemuria by fire is hinted at. In S.D., II, 149, footnote, the words occur: “Lemuria was not submerged but was destroyed by volcanic action, and afterwards sank”.]
The Guides of the race at that time availed Themselves of just this very thing to finish off an inadequate form.
The ‘latent fire of matter’ (as seen in volcanic display, for instance) and ‘the radiatory fire’ of the system were combined.
‘Planetary kundalini’ and ‘solar emanation’ rushed into conjunction, and the work of destruction was accomplished.
The same thing may again be seen, only in matter of the second ether, and the effects therefore will be less severe owing to the rarity of this ether, and the comparatively greater refinement of the vehicles.
A repetition of this takes place in the system at the stated cycles.
We now touch on the ills and after death condition of the etheric body.
I will indicate ailments to which the etheric may be subject, and a trend which medicine could take when occult laws are better understood.
Here is a fact little comprehended or apprehended:
Herein lies knowledge that can explain the apparent miseries of nature.
Some great world evils originate in etheric ills (extending the idea of the etheric to planetary, even to solar conditions). As we touch upon the causes of etheric distress in man, their planetary and solar correspondences and reactions may perhaps be realised.
These three purposes lead to different results, reacting in a different manner outwardly and inwardly. [Page 105]
From the planetary standpoint similar conditions will be seen; the etheric planetary body (which is fundamentally the ‘body’ in the case of the sacred planets, of which Earth is not one) will have its:
1. Functional disorders, affecting its reception of prana,
2. Organic troubles affecting distribution of prana
3. Statically, disorders of the etheric web, the ring-pass-not for the involved planetary Spirit
[In the case of planetary Spirits Who are on the divine evolutionary arc (Heavenly Men Whose bodies are planets), the etheric web does not form a barrier. Like the Karmic Lords on a higher plane, They have freedom of movement outside the bounds of the planetary web within the circumference of the solar ring-pass-not. 
From the systemic standpoint, the same effects may be observed
1. Functionally affecting reception from the cosmic centre
2. Organically, affecting distribution to the sum total of the planetary systems
3. Statically, in connection with the solar or logoic ring-pass-not
We now take up each group separately and hint at methods of cure and adjustment.
Keep the distinction clear, that these ‘emanations of prana’ have to do with ‘the heat latent in matter’
When received and functioning through the etheric body correctly, they (? the ‘pranic fluids’ = heat latent in matter, or solar prana? Which is meant here? Ed.) co-operate with the ‘natural latent bodily warmth’, and (merging therewith) hold the body in a vitalised condition
They impose on the matter of the body a certain rate of vibratory action that leads to the necessary activity of the physical vehicle, and the right functioning of its organs. [Page 106]
It will be apparent that bodily health is wrapped up in right reception of prana, and that:
One of the changes to be made in the life of the human animal (which is what we are dealing with now) will be in the ordinary conditions of living.
The three centres whereby reception is brought about must be allowed to function with less restriction. (i.e., the centre between the shoulder blades, the splenic centre, and centre above the solar plexus)
Now, owing to centuries of wrong living, and to mistakes originating in Lemurian days, man's three pranic centres are not in good working order.
The centre between the shoulder blades is in the best receptive condition, though owing to the poor condition of the spinal column (which in so many is out of accurate alignment), its position in the back is apt to be misplaced.
The splenic centre near the diaphragm is sub-normal in size and its vibration is not correct.
In the case of the aboriginal dwellers in such localities as the South Seas, better etheric conditions will be found; the life they lead is more ‘normal’ (from the animal standpoint) than in any other portion of the world.
This cuts off from the source of supply, with consequent atrophying and shrinkage of the receptive centres
This first type of functional disorder is common and widespread. It is worst in children of congested quarters of great cities, and in devitalised, anaemic slum-dwellers.
The cure is apparent — better living conditions, more appropriate clothing (what kind of clothing improves pranic reception? Ed.), more salubrious modes of living (“salubrious” – in what specific ways to improve pranic reception? Ed.).
When pranic rays can find free access to the shoulders and the diaphragm, the subnormal state of the average spleen will adjust itself automatically. (Does that mean bare skin sunbathing? What about the use of sunscreens? Ed.)
Over-ability to tap pranic currents can be found where conditions of life are such that the centres (through too direct and prolonged submittal to solar emanation) become overdeveloped, vibrate too rapidly, and receive prana in too great an amount.
This is rarer, but is found in some tropical countries; it is responsible for much of the troublesome debility that attacks dwellers in these lands.
The etheric body receives prana or solar rays too rapidly, passes it through and out of the system with too much force, and this leaves the victim a prey to inertia and devitalisation.
Putting it otherwise, the etheric body becomes ‘lazy’, is ‘like an unstrung web’, or (to use a very homely illustration) it ‘resembles a tennis racket which has become too soft,’ and has lost its resilience.
The inner triangle transmits the pranic emanations with too great rapidity, giving no time for the subsidiary absorption, and the whole system is thereby the loser.
Later it will be
found that many ills that Europeans in
By attention, therefore, to the spleen, and wise control of living conditions, some of the trouble may be obviated. (How, specifically, does one ‘give attention of the right kind to the spleen? Is it simply a matter of sunbathing for a certain time, neither too long nor too short, and what is that optimal amount of solar radiation to a human being? Ed.)
More cannot be said, but in the wise study of solar radiation upon the surface of the planet in connection with its rotary action, some of the group rules of health may be comprehended and followed.
(Study of the many kinds of solar radiations and how they affect the Earth is now increasingly taking place – viz. the Aurora Borealis, Aurora Australis, the Helios satellite, the study of the ozone depletion, and the stratosphere/troposphere/atmosphere as a filter for solar radiations, etc., Ed.)
Much of this is hidden in the fabled story of ‘The war between fire and water’, which has its basis in ‘the reaction of fire latent in matter, to fire emanating outside of matter, and playing upon it’
Ø In the period while the two are in process of blending, come periods where, through karmic inheritance, reception is unstable and distribution inequable.
Ø As a point of race equilibrium is reached, so planetary equilibrium will be attained
Ø In planetary attainment will come the equilibrium that must mutually take place between the solar planets
Ø When they attain a mutual balance and interaction then the system is stabilised and perfection reached
Ø The even distribution of prana will parallel this balancing in man, the race, the planet and the system.
Ø This is another way of saying that uniform vibration will be achieved.
We have an illustration of these forms of trouble in sunstroke and heat stroke.
Though supposedly understood by physicians, they are actually etheric disorders.
When the etheric body is better understood, and its wise care followed both diseases will be prevented.
They are due to solar pranic emanation.
In one case the effect is to death or serious illness through the congestion of an etheric channel,
In the other the same result is brought about by destruction of etheric matter.
(What, precisely, is meant by ‘congestion of an etheric channel’, and ‘destruction of etheric matter’? Ed.)
This example has been used with definite intent, but etheric congestion may lead to many forms of disease and mental incompetence. [Page 109]
Ø This ‘thickening’ may prevent contact with the higher Self or principles and result in idiocy and mental unbalance
Ø It may lead to abnormal fleshy development
Ø It may lead to the thickening of some internal organ, causing undue pressure
Ø One portion of the etheric body being congested may lead to the entire physical condition being upset, resulting in diverse complaints.
‘Destruction of tissue’ may lead to insanity of many kinds, especially those deemed incurable.
(Note DK speaks of ‘destruction of tissue’, when before, He spoke of ‘destruction of etheric matter’. Are these phrases in any way synonymous? He continues on about the ‘burning of the etheric web’; perhaps by ‘tissue’ He means ‘etheric web tissue’, not physical tissue? But then He speaks of ‘brain tissue’ too… Ed.)
The ‘burning of the web ‘may let in extraneous astral currents against which man is helpless
The brain tissue may be destroyed by this pressure, and serious trouble be caused through the etheric ring-pass-not having been destroyed in some place.
In connection with the planet a similar state of affairs may be found
Later information may be forthcoming, at present withheld
This will show that whole races have been influenced, and certain kingdoms of nature troubled by ‘planetary etheric congestion’, or the ‘destruction of planetary etheric tissue’.
(Here, He speaks of ‘etheric tissue’. How can that be destroyed? Ed.)
1. We have dealt with the ‘functional’ (impaired pranic reception) and ‘organic’ (impaired pranic assimilation and distribution) ills of the etheric, giving indications for extension of the concept to realms other than the purely human.
In the human kingdom lies the ‘key’, but the ‘turning of that key’ opens up a ‘door’ to a wider interpretation as it admits one into the mysteries of nature.
Though that ‘key has to be turned seven times’, yet even one ‘turn’ reveals untold avenues for eventual comprehension 
2. We have considered the reception and distribution of pranic emanations in man, the planet, and the system
3. We have seen what produces temporary disorders, and devitalisation or over-vitalisation of the organic form.
Now we can look at the subject from a third angle:
Study of the microcosmic ‘static disorders’ means considering the etheric body in connection with its work of providing a ring-pass-not between the purely physical and the astral
A ring-pass-not  is a confining barrier that acts as a separator between a system and what is external to that system.
This has interesting correlations when the subject is viewed (as we must endeavour to view it) from the point of view of a
Ø Human being,
Ø Planet, and a
Remember always that in dealing with the etheric body we are dealing with physical matter
A paramount factor in all groups and formations is that the ring-pass-not acts only as a hindrance to that which is of small attainment in evolution, but forms no barrier to the more progressed.
 The planetary Spirit is another term for the Logos of our planet, one of the "seven Spirits before the Throne,'' and therefore one of the seven Heavenly Men. He is on the evolutionary are of the universe, and has passed many stages beyond the human.
The planetary Entity is on the involutionary are and is a very low grade Entity. He is the sum total of all the elemental lives of the planet.
 The Keys to the Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky See S.D., I, 343; II, note; II, 551
Every symbol and allegory has seven
keys. S. D., II, 567;
2. Only three keys available in the nineteenth century. S. D., II, 543. Compare II, 617, 842.
3. There are seven keys to the Entrance door to the Mysteries. S. B., III, 178. Compare I, 346; II, 330; II, 668; II, 731.
4. The keys, as hinted by H. P. B., are:
a. Psychological: S. D., II, 25, note; I, 389.
b. Astronomical: S. D., II, 25, note; I, 389; III, 198.
c. Physical or physiological: S. D., II, 25, note; III, 198.
d. Metaphysical: S. D., II, 25, note; II, 394.
e. Anthropological: S. D., I, 389; III, 198.
f. Astrological: S. D., II, 343.
g. Geometrical: S. D., II, 494; III, 176.
h. Mystical: S. D., I, 401.
i. Symbolical: S. D., II, 561.
j. Numerical: S. D., II, 198.
5. Each key must be turned seven times: S. D., I, 22.
6. The Jews availed themselves of two keys out of the seven.
7. The Metaphysical key is available: S. D., I, 338. Compare III, 198.
“The seven keys open the mysteries, past and future, of the seven great root-races and of the seven kalpas.” Every occult book, symbol and allegory can he subjected to seven interpretations. There are three locks to he opened. Seven keys. Every book can be read exoterically, subjectively and spiritually. All the keys are not yet available. (Sec Secret Doctrine, I, 330, 343.) There is the physiological key, the psychological, the astrological and the metaphysical. The fifth key is the geometrical.
 A Ring-pass-not:
Ø The circumference of the sphere of influence of any centre of positive life
This includes the ‘fire sphere of magnetic work of the solar orb’, viewing it as the body of manifestation of a solar Logos, and inclusive of an entire solar system.
This term is also applied to:
Ø The ‘sphere of activity’ of a planetary Logos or
Ø A planetary scheme and could equally well be applied to the sphere of activity of the human Ego. S. D., I, 346.