Formative forces

From Anthroposophy

The formative forces underlie the living development and form giving in nature's kingdoms, they are also called etheric or life forces.

They are linked to the spectrum of elements and ethers.

The spiritual beings concerned in how these forces come into being, and how they function, are those from the elementary kingdoms. When these affect the Four kingdoms of nature on earth, they work in constellation with the Elementals of nature and the third spiritual hierarchy consisting of angels, archangels and archai.

The spiritual scientific framework is given in the Golden Chain section, see schema FMC00.142A below.

Besides working on Man - see Human etheric body - the three formative forces affect three different kingdoms of nature where they can be studied.

Scientific research into the etheric formative forces and Overview on etheric research and the plant kingdom proivide an introductory overview of scientific progress in the last century.


Schema FMC00.255 shows four types of earthly and cosmic laws. The physics of the current materialistic or mineral science is extremely successfull in describing the laws for the element earth, on our planet earth. However 'life', as we see it in the plant world, is governed by different laws, these are those of the etheric world and formative forces. Still other laws exists apply for the astral and spirit worlds. See below for reference lectures.


Schema FMC00.142A is lifts out one aspect from Schema FMC00.142


Lecture coverage and references

In the lectures of 1921-06-24-GA205 and 1921-06-26-GA205, Rudolf Steiner describes four types of earthly and cosmic laws (see table below), and takes the perspective as if an ancient Greek would converse with a contemporary scientist. The Greek would point out that all our current knowledge is just one type of knowledge or lawfullness, denoted with the element 'earth'. Similarly, the second lawfullness, denoted with the element 'water', describes the etheric and its formative forces, not only in the plant kingdom but also in the inner movements or streams in the human being (forming the organs). See Schema FMC00.255 above.

1916-06-20-GA169 quote taken from GA265 (p368, 2007 edition)

Keely, whose ideal it was to construct a motor that was not powered by steam or electricity, but by the force that human beings engender in sound waves of their voice and speech. Consider an engine that is so constructed that it can be set in motion by vibrations a person produces by speaking or by soul activity in general. ... when vibrations synchronize to produce outward mechanical energy


Related pages

References and further reading

Introductory reading list

The first 'modern - as in contemporary' book about the formative forces was probably Rama Prasad’s book ‘Nature’s finer forces’ (1889).

However below is a selection of introduction books: two each by Gunther Wachsmuth, Ernst Marti and Nick Thomas, and one by Iwer Thor Lorenzen. Lorenzen book has been translated in English by the FMC project, and the second book Wachsmuth partly - both awaiting publication.

Then there are also the following works by George Adams, Olive Whicher, and Lawrence Edwards.

Books etheric 3.jpg

Whereas some books get more technical, the one single book who is most readable and gives a complete introduction is the one by Adams and Whicher 'The plant between sun and earth'.