Ether is the fifth element and in many traditions was thought to be too sacred to be spoken of. And now you know a deeper meaning to the film title ‘The Fifth Element’! These days we probably know Ether best as being something like Chi or Qi. It is the spirit, the animating force, that which brings life, the great unknown, the life force.

Rather than having specific qualities or governing specific systems, Ether holds all of the other elements within it. It is the universe within which the other elements exist.

The element of Ether is linked to the SEED of a plant. It is the potential of the plant to become, its inner knowing, we might call it the plant’s DNA. It is the blueprint that allows the plant to become, once the four physical elements are in place.

Since Ether is perfect balance and potential, it cannot be out of balance and therefore does not cause physical symptoms.


Most traditions don’t specify herbs of Ether but I would suggest that plants traditionally used to help with meditation would be among them. Frankincense immediately comes to mind (although it is sadly now endangered) and other herbs used for incense that we find in churches or temples.

One that I always make sure to blind taste with my students is reishi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum – long used by Japanese monks to still the mind and encourage meditation. Ganoderma now has so many prized actions as a physical medicine that this is certainly not ALL that it does, but looking to our traditional ways of stilling the mind in order to tune into divinity (in whatever form your tradition describes it) is a good way of pinpointing which herbs may have an affinity to the principle of Ether.