Light ether: relationships with the environment 


Light or light ether allows you to see objects and their environment. The light brings them out of the darkness and allows you to see the circumstances surrounding an object at a particular point in time. Light ether reveals the relationships within the spatial appearance; this is known as the 'context of phenomena'.

Light ether is characterised by delineation and the creation of space; linearity and attraction; and polarisation.

Generally speaking, light ether as a mode of observation means that you observe the present cohesion in the object's environment and how its influences the object. You examine how the proportions in the object's environment have shaped the object and are expressed in the object.

Thinking allows you to experience the cohesion within the object's present appearance (which may consist of many individual observations) and to develop it into a mental image. It is this image that represents the 'context of phenomena'.

Aspects you can study include the following:

You can concentrate on an object's environment as a characteristic mental image. You can ask yourself what characterises the environment or its various parts, and try to understand the object from that perspective.

Light ether and the 'context of phenomena' correspond to the power of imagination, that is, the ability to form a mental image by thinking.


Leaf series from ragwort, rape and broad bean grown on a sandy–loamy soil and on a compost-fertilised soil

Plant shapes and soils

The figure shows the relation between the soil and the leaf shapes of a number of plants. The leaves in the top row, which are smaller and more acutely shaped, are from plants growing on an unfertilised, sandy–loamy soil. Those in the bottom row are larger and have more rounded shapes; they come from plants growing on a soil fertilised with compost. These leaves reflect the quality of their environment. The acute shapes reflect the nutrient-poor sand, while the round shapes reflect the nutrient-rich compost.

Plant shapes and light

Other environmental factors, like water and pH, have other effects.

In the forest

A wooded hillside facing south is moist, bright and warm. This is reflected in the image of the full, round, vigorous, bright red flowers of the peony that emerge from the lush green of the bush. By contrast, the pale green flowers of the stinking hellebore, which flowers in winter, reflect a bright situation in a cool, shady beech forest on dry soil (Bockemühl, 1985).

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Light ether shows spatial relationships

The coherence in the appearance of a bush; on each side we see different plants

The wind gave this tree its asymmetrical form


stinkend nieskruid
Stinking hellebore


Relation between shapes of plants and heir environment

Study the shapes of a few plants, either the leaf shape or the shape of the plant as a whole. Describe their environment. Do the same in a different environment. How is the environment reflected in the plants? What relationships can you identify? In describing the leaves, you should also use the concepts of elongation, expansion, segmentation and narrowing which were discussed in the context of metamorphosis.


Try to define relevant polarities of factors in an object's environment. Define and describe the poles, the gradient and the midway point, which may also have its own features. Determine where the object is situated along the gradients. Summarise this for all relevant polarities. Examine this for the object. Are the environmental factors reflected in the object?


Describe the environment of an object or a situation, in such a way that you can translate the description into an image. Then develop a mental image. What are the characteristics? Examine whether you can see the characteristics of the image of the environment reflected in the object.

© Heirs Tom van Gelder - Stichting AntroVista