Every combination of matter on the physical plane lacks an etheric body, but all that grows has an etheric body.
If someone works artistically either in a visual or plastic way, this has an effect on the etheric body. An artistically formed piece of sculpture or a painting works directly on the etheric body. A virtue, on the other hand, works on the astral body.
Many noble human beings who return from Devachan meet an etheric body which is in no way suited to their advanced astral body, because they have done nothing in the way of organised activity in the sphere of beauty.
It therefore happens that many people who in their last incarnation lived very holy lives, but without concerning themselves with what is noble in the outer world of the senses, when approaching reincarnation experience a fear of re-birth, because they have not ennobled their etheric body through that beauty which is dependent on the senses.
This very frequently brings about an apprehension before incarnation and in an extreme case, rebirth as an idiot. When a person during his life as an idiot experiences all that is detrimental in his etheric body, this is balanced out in the following incarnation. Because the human being at the moment of incarnation, of birth, receives a shock if he has not ennobled his etheric body through allowing beauty which is dependent on the senses to work upon it.
Freemasonry took beauty as its second principle. Wisdom, Beauty and Power or Strength are the three constructive forces; these have to be developed.
Anyone possessing all three will in his next incarnation become a human being who fits harmoniously into his three bodies.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM – Lecture XXI – Berlin, 19th October 1905
Translated by Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett
Grateful Mandala – By Carol Herzer