Etheric double is, in Theosophy, the invisible of the ordinary, ordinary, physical body, which interpenetrates and beyond which it extends for a little was, forming the other finer bodies the aura. The term etheric is used because it is composed of that tenuous matter by the vibrations of which the sensation of light is conveyed to the eye. This matter, it must however be noted is not the omnipresent ether of space, but is composed of physical matter known as etheric, super-etheric, sub-atomic, and atomic. The term double is used to signify that it is an exact replica of the denser physical body.
The sense organs of the etheric double are the chaksams (see CHAKRA) and it is through these chaksams that the physical body is supplied with vitality necessary for its existence and well being during life. The etheric double thus plays the part of a conductor, and it also plays the part of a bridge between the physical and astral bodies, for with it man would have no communication with the astral world and hence neither thoughts nor feelings. Anaesthetics, it is believed for instance, 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, and, 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 characteristics such as noise.
Shortly after death the etheric double finally leaves the physical body though it does not move far away from that body, but is composed of the four sub-divisions of physical matter as previously alluded to. With the decay of the latter, the double also decays, and thus to a clairvoyant a burying ground presents an unpleasant sight.
see also: ASTRAL BODY; ETHERIC VISION; THEOSOPHY
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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