Structure of Man between death and a new birth

From Anthroposophy

At death Man leaves behind his physical body, then shortly after his etheric body and then finally over a longer period also the unworked part of the astral body. Man then continues the journey between death and a new birth as a spiritual being, see also Man's higher triad.

Man grows into connection through his own Individuality and 'guiding' angel, with the angel and archangel organism of the third hierarchy H3.

Causal body

The causal body is a term used by Rudolf Steiner in early lectures in the period 1905-1907 (also the period of the theosophical society).

It is the term for spirit-self or manas, a higher bodily principle or structure part of Man's higher triad. After each incarnation, the part of the astral body that has been transformed by the I combines with the causal body; and what has not been so transformed falls away like a shade, a phantom; this is the astral corpse of the human being.

The causal body can thus be regarded as the 'Book of Life' into which a new page is added with every fruitful incarnation. It influences the next life and can be seen as a repository of developed qualities, talents, faculties. (1907-05-26-GA099)


Schema FMC00.132 shows how Man, after death, grows into connection through his own Individuality and 'guiding' angel, with the angel and archangel organism. Man is already connected with H3, see the Three meetings (and schema FMC00.023B that extends the below) as H3 live in Man's 'I' soul activity during incarnation, see Man and the spiritual hierarchies.

See also: What takes place as we sleep


Lecture coverage and references

GA088 contains the description to which areas of the spirit world Man rises depending on its spiritual development


We shall speak on another occasion about what it is in the life between death and a new birth that binds those aspects that are bound by our physical body now, during life between birth and death. You will agree that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the cosmic order that here, between birth and death, we possess our physical organism, for without it we would have no prison for our higher com­ponents. When these higher com­ponents are set free, after we have laid aside our physical body, different con­ditions come into operation, which we will discuss another time. Suffice it to say that the higher components still retain some fetters, even then.

1917-01-22-GA174 (see schema above)

1924-08-08-GA237 sheds an important additional perspective on Schema FMC00.132 of 1917-01-22-GA174: a divide between the guiding angels leads to disorder in the karma of men. And it is the power of the archangel Michael and its helpers and movement that restores this. A link with anthroposophy, see also lectures where the connection with Christian Rosenkreutz is made.

Synopsis of the lecture:

In the 9th century A.D., with the descent of the Cosmic Intelligence into men, the Sun-Intelligence of Michael and the Planetary Intelligences gradually came into cosmic opposition one with another. In the Ecumenical Council of 869 A.D. the signal was given for an overwhelming event in the spiritual world above: a split among the Angels who guide human souls, leading to disorder in the karma of men. This is the chaotic element in the history of recent times. With the penetration of Michael to earthly rulership, Michael brings the power which is to bring order again into the karma of those who have gone with him. The restoration of the truth in karma. The mission of Anthroposophy

Causal body

References: 1906-08-25-GA095, 1907-05-26-GA099 (and 1904-12-16-GA093)

See also the 1904-02-18-GA090A quote on Man's higher triad

1906-02-03-GA097 - Q&A

When people die today, the ether body separates from the physical body together with the astral body and the I. The ether body still stays with the higher members for a time, and during this first period after leaving the physical body a person's whole last life lies spread before him like a vast tableau. This is because the ether body supports not only the vital functions but also memory. In life it was limited by the physical brain and unable to function fully. As soon as the physical barriers have gone, the complete memory spreads before the human soul. This continues until the ether body separates from the astral body and I after a few days. It is only the ether substance which separates, however. The memory picture is taken along. The individual keeps this essence of the ether body, and the sum of such essences from all lives on earth is the causal body.


After the lapse of the time during which the etheric body together with the astral body is emerging from the physical body after death, there comes the moment when the astral body, with the higher members, leaves the etheric body. The latter separates off and the memory-tableau fades away; but something of it remains; it is not wholly lost. What may be called ether- or life-substance dissipates in the cosmic ether, but a kind of essence remains and this can never be lost to the human being through his further journeyings. He bears this with him into all his future incarnations as a kind of extract from the life-tableau, even though he has no remembrance of it. Out of this extract is formed what is called, with concrete reality, the “Causal Body.” After every incarnation a new page is added to the Book of Life. This augments the life-essence and, if the past lives were fruitful, causes the next life to develop in the proper way. This is what causes a life to be rich or poor in talents, qualities and the like.


Related pages

References and further reading