According to theosophical teaching, derived from ancient
Hindu philosophy, the etheric double is an invisible part of the
ordinary, visible, physical body, which it interpenetrates and
beyond which it extends a little, forming with other finer bodies
the aura. The etheric double is not made of the supposed omnipresent
ether of space, but is composed of physical matter
known as etheric, superetheric, subatomic, and atomic.
The term double is used because the etheric double is a replica
of the denser physical body. The sense organs of the etheric
double are the chakras, and it is through the chakras that the
physical body is supplied with the vitality necessary for its existence
and its well-being during life. The etheric double thus
plays the part of a conductor, and a bridge between the physical
and astral bodies, for without it humans could have no communications
with the astral world and hence neither thoughts nor
Anesthetics are said to drive out the greater part of the double,
and the subject is then impervious to pain. During sleep
the double does not leave the physical body; indeed, in dreams
the etheric part of the brain is extremely active, especially
when, as is often the case, the dreams are caused by attendant
physical circumstances, such as noise. Shortly after death, the
etheric double finally quits the physical body though it does not
move far away from the body, but is composed of the four subdivisions
of physical matter alluded to earlier. With the decay
of the physical body, the double reportedly also decays.
Those who have claimed experience of astral projection or
out-of-the-body travel state that the etheric or astral body is
connected to the physical body by a subtle, infinitely extensible
cord. Aside from their specialized use in Theosophy, the terms
etheric double and etheric body are often used synonymously
with astral body.
Mead, G. R. S. The Doctrine of the Subtle Body. London John
M. Watkins, 1919. Reprint, Wheaton, Ill. Theosophical Publishing
Powell, A. E. The Etheric Double. 1926. Reprint, Wheaton, Ill.
Theosophical Publishing House, 1969.