The double

From Anthroposophy

Man's structural make-up consists of Man's bodily principles, whereby the four lower ones have been developed in the previous and current planetary stages of evolution, and the current Earth stage focuses on the development and integration of the fourth principle: the Human 'I'. However Man also has a scaffold structure of the higher bodily principles, Man's higher triad, even if he certainly has not taken 'ownership' of them to the full in terms of conscious development - so they are in a way latent.

There is a relationship between Man's bodily principles, and the Spectrum of elements and ethers that runs along the planetary stages of evolution, see Overview of solar system evolution. So Man's current bodily make-up on Earth consists mainly of the Four elements, but here also the formative forces and ethers are at work, the higher triad consists of the higher ethers. Man uses his pivotal 'I' for the conscious process of transmuting the lower bodies to the higher bodily principles, see Man's transformation and spiritualization.

With 'the double', or also in English 'doppelganger' (as a loanword from the German 'Doppelgänger') - "which Man carries within himself" - is referenced this etheric structure of Man, which - because Man has not taken conscious ownership of these latent bodily principles - offers space for other spiritual entities to sneak it and 'own the space'; whereby this 'double' can influence us greatly, and even - so to speak - start leading a life of its own. This double which is part of Man is the origin of physical and nervous illnesses in Man.

See the short text by Daskalos below for further introduction.


  • cause of illness by the human double (1917-11-16-GA178), and the need for geographical medicine
    • organic physical illnesses that emerge spontaneously from within are all created by the ahrimanic double of Man
    • nervous illnesses (neurasthenic, neurotic) are caused by the luciferic double of Man.
  • Ahrimanic beings sneak into Man before birth as Man to reside in Man's etheric body, as Man is unconscious (1917-11-18-GA178). This Ahrimanic double (oa 1914-11-20-GA158):
    • has its dominion entirely within the subconscious
    • it is highly intelligent, and endowed with a will closely related to the forces of nature.
    • presently disappears shortly before death, but has a strong impulse to conquer death and stay with Man after death
    • is extremely dependent upon the Earth as a whole organism, the various earth-forces work with particular strength into the racial and geographical varieties of mankind.
  • the Earth geography is characterized by different etheric forces streaming forth, and the double is related to these forces that stream up out of the earth (1917-11-16-GA178, see also FMC00.347 on Earth)
    • they directly affect human beings and can cause diseases as well as influence human thinking. Especially America is an area where those magnetic forces are rising up that bring the human being into relationship with his double.
    • America was 'forgotten' and 're-discovered' in relationship to the important influence of the double and the magnetism arising from America. This is an example of history as we know it as a 'fable convenu', see History
  • Man consciously works his etheric double and higher triad as part of the process of Initiation, e.g. by working the elemental balance of the mental body in the higher steps of Bardon's IIH.
  • the effect of mineral substances as used in contemporary materialistic medicine and focusing in the mineral physical body only: the mineral substance becomes diffused and acquired the human form, a phantom or physical double consisting of the substance taken in. This prevents the physical body to obey the influences of the astral and etheric bodies, artificially disconnecting it, whereby the physical body becomes an hardened independent being subject to its own laws. (see extract 1908-12-08-GA107 on Medicine)
  • Goethe (with a loosened etheric body) met his double: "he actually saw the other Goethe — the etheric Goethe who lived within him .. he saw himself as a spectre coming towards him". See 1916-11-05-GA172 on Goethe
  • the doppelganger appears in literature and art for centuries. See wikipedia page or Mary D. Edwards under 'Further reading' below, with a.o. references to Goethe, Lord Byron, Dostoyevsky's novel 'The double'. Note that in art however the term takes on different meanings, from the concept of the metaphysical world view's dual reality to particular ideas of double personalities contained in the concepts of the shadow, half-death, the mask, and hermaphroditism.


Schema FMC00.056 positions Man's higher triad in the structure of Man as a Microcosmos with the different bodily principles, see:

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 This schema allows one to see how the luciferic and ahrimanic influences in Man as we are under the influence of these spiritual beings on top of our regular H3 beings angels and archangels. See also Schema FMC00.238

FMC00.292 provides some illustrations of the double in artwork.


Lecture coverage and references

Overview coverage

Note Rudolf Steiner uses the term 'double' and describes characteristics in lectures, but never explicitly introduced the double as a topic in itself. Therefore an introduction can be taken from

  • Powell's 1925 book (see PDF in reference section below) where he gathered the theosophical source material from Blavatsky.
  • Daskalos' introduction (see section below)

Source extracts

Bible: 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.


(see p335 in DE edition 2018)


In OES, in 'Cognition of the higher worlds', sections 8 and 9, already introduce the Doppelganger in the context of the guardian of the threshold (only partial extracts here)

Man develops his I, his self-consciousness in the everyday physical-sensory world. This I now acts as a center of attraction for everything belonging to man. All his inclinations, sympathies, antipathies, passions, and opinions group themselves, as it were, around his I, and this I is also the point of attraction for what may be designated as the karma of Man. If this I were to be seen unconcealed it would show that certain forms of destiny must still be encountered by it in this and in subsequent incarnations, according to the way it has lived in the preceding incarnations and has made this or that its own. Invested with all this, the I must appear as the first image before the human soul when the latter ascends into the world of soul and spirit. This Doppelganger (double or twin likeness) of Man must, according to a law of the spiritual world, emerge prior to everything else as his first impression in that world.


If through correct training Man strives to acquire these organs of perception, what he himself is appears to him as first impression. He perceives his Doppelganger, his double. This self-perception is not at all to be separated from the perception of the rest of the world of soul and spirit. In everyday life of the physical-sensory world, the feeling characterized acts so as constantly to close the door of the world of soul and spirit to the human being. Even the mere attempt to penetrate into this world causes the feeling of shame — which arises immediately, but of which we do not become conscious — to conceal the part of the world of soul and spirit that strives to appear. The exercises characterized open the door to this world. It is a fact, however, that this concealed feeling acts like a great benefactor of Man. For all that Man acquires of power of judgment, feeling-life, and character without spiritual-scientific training does not enable him to bear without further preparation the perception of his own being in its true form. He would lose through this perception all self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-consciousness. That this may not happen, we must take the necessary precautions which we do undertake, alongside the exercises for higher knowledge, in the fostering of a healthy power of judgment, feeling-life, and character. Through this regular training Man learns to know so much of spiritual science — as though without intention — and, moreover, so many means for the attainment of self-knowledge and self-observation become clear to him as are necessary in order to encounter his Doppelganger bravely. The student then only sees in another form, as a picture of the imaginative world, what he has already learned in the physical world. If he has first comprehended the law of karma properly in the physical world through his intellect, he will not be especially shaken when he now sees the beginnings of his destiny engraved in the image of his Doppelganger. If Man has made himself acquainted through his power of judgment with the evolution of the cosmos and mankind and knows how, at a certain point of time of this evolution, the forces of Lucifer have penetrated into the human soul, he will bear it without difficulty when he becomes aware that the Luciferic beings with all their effects are contained within the image of his own nature. — We see from this how necessary it is that man does not demand entrance into the spiritual world before he has understood, through his ordinary power of judgment developed in the physical-sensory world, certain truths about the spiritual world. The knowledge given in this book prior to the discussion about “Cognition of the Higher Worlds” should have been acquired by the student of spiritual science by means of his ordinary power of thought in the regular course of development, before he has the desire himself to enter into supersensible worlds.

In a training in which no attention is paid to the certainty and firmness of the power of judgment, of the life of feeling and character, it may happen that the student encounters the higher world before he possesses the necessary inner faculties. In that case the encounter with his Doppelganger would depress him and lead to error. If, however, the encounter were entirely avoided — something that might indeed be possible — and man nevertheless were led into the supersensible world, he would then be just as little in the position to recognize that world in its true shape. For it would be quite impossible for him to distinguish between what he carries over as projections of himself into things and what they are in reality. This distinction is only possible if one perceives one's own being as an image in itself, and if, as a result of this distinction, everything that flows from one's own inner nature becomes detached from the environment.

For Man's life in the physical-sensory world, the Doppelganger's effect is such that he becomes immediately invisible through the feeling of shame characterized when Man approaches the world of soul and spirit. As a result of this, he conceals the entire latter world also. Like a “guardian” he stands there before that world, in order to deny entrance to those who are not truly capable of entering. He may therefore be called the “guardian of the threshold that lies before the world of soul and spirit.” — Besides the described encounter with the guardian at the entrance into the supersensible world, man also encounters him when passing through physical death, and in the course of life between death and a new birth the guardian discloses himself by degrees in the evolution of soul and spirit.


[Section 9]

After the student of the spiritual has encountered the “guardian of the threshold,” further experiences await him as he ascends into supersensible worlds. First he will notice that an inner relationship exists between this “guardian of the threshold” and the soul-power that, in the above description, has resulted as the seventh, and has shaped itself into an independent principle. Indeed, this seventh principle is in a certain regard nothing else but the Doppelganger, the “guardian of the threshold” himself, and this principle sets the student of the spiritual a special task. He has to direct and lead with his newborn self what he is in his ordinary self and which appears to him in an image. A sort of battle against the Doppelganger will result. The latter will constantly strive for supremacy. To establish the right relationship to this Doppelganger and not permit him to do anything that is not under the influence of the newborn I strengthens and fortifies Man's powers.

In the higher world, self-knowledge is different, in a certain respect, from self-knowledge in the physical-sensory world. Whereas in the physical-sensory world self-knowledge appears only as an inner experience, the newborn self presents itself at once as an outer soul phenomenon. Man beholds his newborn self as another being standing before him, but he cannot perceive it completely. For whatever stage he may have reached upon the way into the supersensible worlds, there are always still higher stages. At these stages he will perceive ever more and more of his “higher self.” This “higher self” can thus only partially reveal itself to the student of the spiritual at any of these stages. The temptation is extremely great which overtakes the human being when he first becomes aware of some aspect of his “higher self,” to observe this “higher self,” so to speak, from the standpoint he has gained in the physical-sensory world. This temptation is even good and it must appear, if development is to proceed in the right way.

We must observe what appears in the Doppelganger, the “guardian of the threshold,” and place it before the “higher self” in order to note the contrast between what we are and what we are to become. Through this observation the “guardian of the threshold” begins to take on quite a different form. He presents himself as an image of all the hindrances that the development of the higher self must encounter. The student will perceive what a load he must drag in the form of his ordinary self, and if he is not strong enough through his preparations to say, “I will not remain stationary here, but unceasingly strive to reach my higher self,” he will slacken his efforts and shrink back before what is in store for him. He has plunged into the world of soul and spirit, but now gives up his efforts. He becomes a prisoner of the form that, through the “guardian of the threshold,” now stands before the soul. What is important here is the fact that in this experience he does not have the feeling of being a prisoner. On the contrary, he believes he experiences something quite different. The form that the “guardian of the threshold” calls forth can be of such a nature that it causes the impression in the soul of the observer of having before him, in the pictures that appear at this evolutionary stage, the entire compass of all imaginable worlds, of having attained the pinnacle of knowledge, with no need of striving further. Instead of feeling to be a prisoner he may feel himself as the immeasurably rich possessor of all the world mysteries. The fact that one can have such an experience that depicts the very opposite of the actual facts will, however, not astonish a person who keeps in mind the fact that, when he experiences this, he stands already in the world of soul and spirit and that it is a peculiarity of this world that events may present themselves in reverse order. This fact was pointed out earlier in this book when life after death was discussed.

The figure that one perceives at this stage of development shows the student of the spiritual something in addition to what appeared to him in the first instance as the “guardian of the threshold.” In this Doppelganger all the peculiarities were perceived that the ordinary self of man has in consequence of the influence of the forces of Lucifer.


see longer extract on Sphinx

Whereas the child in Greece was tormented by a flood of questions, the suffering awaiting the human being of our modern time is rather that of being in the grip of preconceptions and prejudices, of having as an incubus at his side a second “body” consisting of all these preconceived judgments and opinions.

What is it that is leading to this state of things?

Let us be quite candid about the trend of evolution. During the course of the Fifth Postatlantean age, so many problems have lost all inner, vital warmth. The countless questions which confront us when we study Spiritual Science with any depth, simply do not exist for the modern man with his materialistic outlook. The riddle of the Sphinx means nothing to him, whereas the man of ancient Greece was vitally aware of it. A different form of experience will come to the man of modern times. In his own opinion he knows everything so well; he observes the material world, uses his intellect to establish the interconnections between its phenomena and believes that all its riddles are solved in this way, never realizing that he is simply groping in a phantasmagoria. But this way of working coarsens and dries up his ether-body, with the ultimate result that the Mephistophelean powers, like a second nature, will attach themselves to him now and in times to come.

The Mephistophelean nature is strengthened by all the prejudices and limitations of materialism, and a future can already be perceived when everyone will be born with a second being by his side, a being who whispers to him of the foolishness of those who speak of the reality of the spiritual world. Man will, of course, disavow the riddle of Mephistopheles, just as he disavows that of the Sphinx; nevertheless he will chain a second being to his heels. Accompanied by this second being, he will feel the urge to think materialistic thoughts, to think, not through his own being, but through the second being who is his companion.

In an ether-body that has been parched by materialism, Mephistopheles will be able to dwell. Understanding what this implies, we shall realize that it is our duty to educate children in the future — be it by way of Eurythmy or the development of a spiritual-scientific outlook — in such a way that they will be competent to understand the spiritual world. The ether-body must be quickened in order that the human being may be able to take his rightful stand, fully cognizant of the nature of the being who stands at his side. If he does not understand the nature of this second being, he will be spellbound by him, fettered to him. Just as the Greek was obliged to get the better of the Sphinx, so will modern man have to outdo Mephistopheles — with his faunlike, satyrlike form, and his goat's or horse's feet.


(SWCC), see also additionally the quote from this lecture on History that explains why America was forgotten and re-discovered in relationship to the important influence of the double and the magnetism arising from America

These beings have an extraordinarily high intelligence and a significantly developed will, but no warmth of heart at all, nothing of what we call human soul warmth (Gemüt).

It is an Ahrimanic intelligence, and very strong Ahrimanic will, that is much more akin to the nature-forces than our human will, which is regulated by the warmth of soul […].

In the nineteenth century, natural science discovered that the nervous system is permeated by electrical forces. Natural science is right. But when natural scientists believe that the nerve-force that belongs to us as the basis of our conceptual life has something to do with electrical streams that go through our nerves, then they are incorrect. For the electrical streams, which are the forces put into us by the being I have just mentioned and described, do not belong to our own being at all […], but they are of a purely Ahrimanic nature.

These beings […] once decided out of their own will that they did not want to live in that world in which they were destined to live by the wisdom-filled gods of the higher hierarchies. They wanted to conquer the earth, and to do this they need bodies; they do not have bodies of their own. They make use of as much of the human body as they can, because the human soul cannot entirely fill up the human body.


(two versions (translations) on rsarchive)


from the first version

The strange thing is that this subconscious that we carry within us is taken hold of by another being under all circumstances. This means that we are not only a fusion of body, soul, and spirit, carrying within us through the world our soul, which is independent of our body; shortly before birth another being takes possession of the subconscious portions of the human being. This being is there, this subconscious being that accompanies man the entire way between birth and death.

longer extract from the second version:

Now the peculiar thing is that this subconscious within us is invariably taken possession of by another being. Hence we are not only a union of body, soul and spirit, carrying an independent soul in our body through the world, but shortly before birth another being takes possession of our subconscious parts. This subconscious being goes with us all the way from birth to death.

We can to some extent describe this being by saying that

  • it is highly intelligent, and endowed with a will which is closely related to the forces of nature.
  • I must emphasise a further peculiarity of this being — it would incur the gravest danger if under present conditions it were to accompany man through death. At present it cannot do so; therefore it disappears shortly before death in order to save itself; yet it retains the impulse to order human life in such a way that it would be able to conquer death for its own purposes. It would be terrible for human evolution if this being which has taken hold of man were able to overcome death and so, by dying with man, to pass over into the worlds which man enters after death. This being must always take leave of man before death, but in many cases this is very difficult for it to do, and all sorts of complications result.
  • For the moment the important thing is that this being, which has its dominion entirely within the subconscious, is extremely dependent upon the Earth as a whole organism.


[after describing effects of earth geography]

  • .. the earth is more than a skeleton: it is a living organism, and from its centre it sends out particular forces to every point and region on its surface. These outward-streaming forces belong to the Earth as a living organism, and they affect a Man differently according to where he lives on the earth. His soul is not directly influenced by these forces ..
  • But through the other being, which seizes hold of man before birth and has to leave him before death, these various earth-forces work with particular strength into the racial and geographical varieties of mankind. So it is on this “double” (Doppelgänger), which man carries within himself, that geographical and other diversities exert special influence. This is extraordinarily important.


is the famous lecture 'The invisible Man within ws' (pathology underlying therapy)


writes (SWCC section taken from Daskalos' Esoteric Teachings (Greek 1987, English 1992)

What applies for planet Earth also applies for all heavenly bodies .. just as humans have an etheric double of their body .. there is also an etheric double of the planet.

The material planet consists of seven elements. Of these, three make up the etheric double (the triadic spiritual state), the other four (tetraktys) compose the gross material body. The first three elements can be compared with electromagnetism or various other fields as yet unknown to the sciences. The four elements of the gross material body of the planet are earth, water, air and fire.

The etheric doubles are the moulds within which the bodies are constructed and maintained. The human form requires these three bodies in order to manifest itself .. and uses their etheric doubles as bonds between them.

What is built first is the matrix, which is also sometimes called the 'permanent atom'. The spherical 'permanent atom' contains the shape of the human form and, just as a seed contains the form of the tree or the plant to which it gives rise, so an etheric atom is the basis from which the first material atom is constructed ..

.. from the centre of each 'etheric atom', and using it as a mould, each material atom and cell is build outwardly ..  everything starts from the centre of the cell or atom and from there, using creative ether, the whole material is constructed ..

.. we have creativity within the nucleus of every material atom, by reason of the presence of its etheric double..

parenthesis: see also Occult atom and the description given in 1908-09-03-GA106, a short quote is extracted for ease of mapping to the above description, this connects to Earth rounds perspective

If we could have examined this mass of mist closely, if an observer could have approached it, it would have seemed to be composed entirely of fine etheric points. When we see a swarm of gnats from a distance, it looks to us like a single cloud; close-up, however, we see the single insects. ... Thus, in the most remote past, the mass of our earth would have appeared, although then it was not material in our sense but was condensed only to an etheric condition. This earth-formation consisted of single ether-points, but something special was connected with these ether-points.

If now, as in the previous example, the clairvoyant contemplated such an etheric point in the primeval substance, there would arise for him from the point (as from the seed in the previous example) a light-form, a beautiful form, which in reality is not there but rests slumbering in the point.

What is this form that the seer perceives, looking back at the primal earth atom? What is it that arises?

It is a form that is different from physical man, as different as is the archetype from the physical plant. It is the archetype of the present human form. At that time the human form slumbered spiritually in the etheric point, and the whole earth-evolution was necessary in order that what rested there might develop into present-day man.

and furthermore (SWCC from a section taken from 'The esoteric practice' (1994) by Daskalos)

Within the physical material body of all living organisms there exist currents of energy called 'ether', providing life and health. The flow, distribution and storage of this energy take place within a field which surrounds and permeates the body. We call this field the 'etheric double'.

Every material, psychical, and noetical body has an etheric double. [see Daskalos' writings and Man's bodily principles for reference]. Each atom and cell in the body possesses an individual etheric double: together they combine to form the etheric double of a body.

The etheric doubles nerve as moulds in which the bodies are first formed. The archangels of the elements work through the etheric double to build a body atom by atom, molecule by molecule. A body, once built, is then maintained by the etheric double which supplies and distributes etheric vitality to its various locations. Etheric doubles, always perfect and incorruptible, oversee the life-course of an expressed form according to its Circle of Possibility. A body cannot exist without an etheric double, nor can the etheric double live independently of the body. An etheric dou­ble cannot detach itself from its body, except when the body is dissolving.

Both the psychical and noetical bodies have their own etheric doubles, which are used as active links between the bodies. Apart from overseeing the distribution of energy within the gross material body, the etheric doubles are used as conduits for the flow of etheric vitality between the material, psychical and noetical bodies.

Familiarity with our etheric doubles is of great concern to us. It is vital that we become intimate with their natures so that we may control the health within our own bodies and aid others in need of healing. Meditation and exercises are the prime means for learning more about our etheric doubles.

[On etheric vitality and the ethers]

[Note: see Spectrum of elements and ethers, in anthroposophy these are life, chemical, light and warmth ethers]

Coursing through the etheric double, both penetrating the body and extending outwards, are currents of energy. Etheric vitality is mind super-substance in specific vibratory patterns that allow for the phenomenon of life. We must not imagine that flesh, blood or a nervous system create this force. This would be equivalent to believing that a wire creates electricity. Wires may carry electricity, but it is incapable of creating it. Etheric vitality is bestowed upon us as our ‘daily bread' (Matt. 6:11). ... We live in a sea of etheric vitality which imbues and surrounds us.

Etheric vitality breaks down into distinct states to serve particular functions in the maintenance of the three bodies. In the etheric double we identify four classes of etheric substance: creative ether, sensate ether, imprint ether and kinetic ether. This does not mean that an etheric double is divided into separate parts, but that the super-substance of mind, which contains within itself all conditions, is adapted in each instance to the particular requirement.

  • Creative ether is used, under the supervision and according to the will of the Holy Spirit, to construct and maintain all phenomena of life. The Holy Spirit and archangels .. use creative ether to build, maintain, and take care of a body's proper functioning. Whatever part of the material body we study, be it the texture of the brain, the fluid of the eyes, the different sense organs, the operation of the glands, the lungs, the liver, the intestines - all bear witness to the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit and the archangels.
  • Imprint ether is used to shape etheric vitality into psycho-noetical Images and is therefore vital to our work in visualization. Using imprint ether we are able to memorize and store images. Imprint ether, when used in recording images, helps us see the shapes in various sizes, colours and designs.
  • Sensate ether is the 'feeling giving' ether. By merit of sensate ether we experience the sensations of pleasure and pain. Sensate ether is also used in conjunction with imprint ether. The parallel use of these two ethers makes the phenomenon of memory possible.
  • Kinetic ether facilitates motion. All movements, whether conscious or subconscious, including autonomic actions (eg. circulation of the blood, breathing, the receipt, assimilation and discarding of substances) take place with the help of kinetic ether.

We must use etheric vitality in a balanced manner without interfering with the creative work of the Holy Spirit and in such a way as to be worthy of logoic expression.

[On etheric energy centres]

[See also: Development of the chakras]

When God created the human form he endowed us with many great gifts.

  • The heart is the greatest gift. Through it we may reflect Divine Love towards God and our fellow man. The heart is the house of the Common Selfhood, the home of the Logos, and we must keep it pure, for 'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God' (Matt. 5:8)
  • Another gift is the brain with its psychical and noetical counterparts. This is the centre of Inspiration and reason permitting, us to use mind to comprehend the presence of God all around us. When Moses began to look within himself and moved up to the level of the cerebellum, symbolized as a burning bush which is never consumed, he heard for the first time the voice of God (cf. Exod. 3:2). The two tablets of Moses, on which were inscribed the Law of God, represent the two lobes of the human brain (cf. Exod. 34:28). When, at some time, we vitalize this etheric centre we shall also hear the voice of our Inner Self, our self-aware soul, and become one with God's Law.
  • lt is through the solar plexus that the Holy Spirit expresses itself as will-power and instinctive wisdom. As the seat of our subconscious awareness the solar plexus is also the storehouse for etheric vitality. Joshua said, `He that believeth in me... out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water' (John 7:38). Joshua is the living water of 'everlasting life', and when we drink of Him we `shall never thirst' again (cf. John 4:14).
  • The fourth gift comprises the reproductive organs which will come into use at the fight time, in the right circumstances and at the right age. They are holy spiritual. They are the means of perpetuating life on the material plane and we should not misuse them.

Corresponding to these gifts are centres of energy. These points are known as etheric or psycho-noetical centres. In the East they are termed 'chakras'.

However, every pore on your skin has a centre. Every gland has a centre. Every fingertip has a centre. What is the nature of these centres?

The energy belonging to a centre rotates and creates a whirlpool which funnels down towards a point. If you put your hand in a basin of water and roll it in a circular motion, a conical whirlpool will form. This is the basic shape and pattern of motion of the etheric centres.

  • In the etheric double of the physical material body we have psycho-noetical centres, which we call 'churches' (cf. Rev 1:20).
  • In the etheric double of the psychical body, we have psycho-noetical centres, which are more intense in activity, called 'lamps' (cf. Rev. 4:5).
  • Finally, in the etheric double of the noetical body, there are even more active centres with a wider concept of space and time. St. John, in the Revelations, refers to these as 'stars' (cf. Rev. 1:16-20).

These centres serve a dual function. They care for the organs, situated in a particular part of the body, by controlling the flow and quality of etheric vitality. In another mode they act as links between the material body of a human personality and its psychical and noetical bodies, in order to channel thoughts, emotions and energy, arising as a result of space-place-time impressions. It is through these centres that elementals are received and stored in the etheric double and impact on the personality. Mind is shaped into psycho-noetical elementals which combine to compose the human personality. Elementals inhabit these centres and exert their influence over the character.

What is the purpose of these centres? How is it possible for us to work with them? Will we interfere with the work of the archangels?

When we reach a certain level of awareness the archangels will be most pleased to teach us more about the centres. However we must first become masters of the elementals that we are creating and revitalizing. Elementals use these centres, for better or worse, as entrances and gateways into the person­ality. We subconsciously create, invite and absorb elementals into our energy centres where they affect the functioning of our personality. It is, therefore, imperative that in conjunction with our study of these centres we also gain some understanding of the subconscious.

[follow: practical exercises]


[1] - Various other

Adriana Koulias writes in her lecture on the Double:

Human beings have always had a presentiment that they carry within themselves another being. Myths and legends tell of the monster that must be conquered if the human being is to progress. The Persian saw him as the hairy rough living Enkindu companion of Gilgamesh, the Greeks saw him as the Minotaur that had to be overcome by Theseus, the Grimm brothers portray him as Rumplestiltskin the clever little man that eventually drives his leg into the earth and tears himself in two when the girl solves the riddle of his name. Once again this being was portrayed by Hermann Hess in his book Stepenwolf and by Dostoyevsky in his poem ‘the Double’. The enigmatic creature that feeds off the blood of human beings could even be the vampire of old legends. A parasite that hates the light of day and only lives in darkness. The Werewolf is another example as is the tale of Frankenstein. Most recently we see him in the creature Gollum of the Lord of the Rings.

Section from Rebholz' essay

It is then explained that these entities cannot bear death; they must always leave the body before a person dies. This is a great disappointment for them, for their dominion over the earth would consist of their conquest of life after death through the human being. If the Mystery of Golgotha had not happened, they would have reached their goal long ago and would have become masters of human development on the earth.

The subsensible forces of the earth’s interior can act especially powerfully on the “electric double.”


The earth […] is a living organism. […] In the different regions of the earth, something entirely different streams forth. There are different forces, among them magnetism and electricity, but also forces that enter more into the realm of the living. […] [… ] the human being […] has really very little direct relation to these forces […]. But the double […] chooses to be related to these forces that stream up out of the earth.

Thus, they also directly affect human beings and can cause diseases as well as influence human thinking. Especially America is an area where those magnetic forces are rising up that bring the human being into relationship with his double.

Rudolf Steiner once indicated very clearly that Woodrow Wilson’s manifesto [“The Fourteen Points”], which brought so much disaster over Europe, was not actually written by Wilson himself but by his double.

Finally, we must emphasize once again that these things were not revealed by spiritual research in order to frighten us or to hinder the progressive use of these forces in the service of technology and civilization. This use is a necessity in a sense, for the


more of this force we employ, the faster the Earth will tend to become a corpse and its spiritual part prepare for the Future Jupiter embodiment.

We understand everything that we know of the earth crust only well if we understand it as dying off. However, in this fact is contained that the spiritual becomes free from the material. If among us the planetary material dies off, the spirit gets free from it.


As is explained in the cycle The Foundations of Esotericism (GA093a), in the fourth round of the Earth’s evolution, the human being has to work extensively on the mineral kingdom. And this is done on a large scale especially by oscillating electricity, radio waves, by which molecules are set to vibrate.

And something similar is true of the other subsensible forces of the earth. Electricity is only one of the “mothers”; the other two will be given to humanity in the future. The moral development of humanity and the knowledge of the true nature of these forces will have to keep pace with this development, however. In revealing the nature of electricity and the related forces, spiritual science protects us from unwittingly admiring them and falling all the more under their sway. In doing so, it gives us a judgment and a healthy standard for its use. We will avoid its use where it is obviously superfluous and harmful as in biological and medical applications, for example, and if need be, we ourselves will work in our laboratories to direct its use into healing paths as they are indicated in Strader’s invention in the first scene of the mystery drama “The Guardian of the Threshold” (GA014).

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Arthur E. Powell: The etheric double (1925)
  • Norbert Glas: 'Der ahrimanische Doppelgänger des Menschen: Eine menschenkundlich-biographische Studie' (2010, Europäer-Schriften)
  • The Electronic Doppelganger -The Mystery of the Double in the Age of the Internet (2016) (Rudolf Steiner, edited and introduced by Andreas Neider)
  • wikipedia page for Doppelganger

Double in art

  • Mary D. Edwards: The idea of the Double in text and/or image from antiquity to the end of the 20th century
    • in: 'Doppelgangers, Alter Egos and Mirror Images in Western Art, 1840-2010' critical essays edited by Mary D. Edwards