The ether is an eternal force in the Gunnerkrigg universe.
The Ether, in some ways, is as much an additional dimension as it is a force; one can stare into it, and see the world from an odd, distorted but also "truer" perspective.
The Ether is where the deceased's souls normally move on to. Psychopomps guide the dead souls of all kinds ready to move on. This is said to keep the world spinning, through the energy and imagination of the souls. There have been strong hints that the souls' consciousness do not cease to exist, although the souls' precise fate is unknown.
Creation and hallucination
Manipulating the Ether allows one to affect matter or to affect other minds' perceptions. According to a theory of Coyote'sk human intelligence is able to affect the ether unlike any other creature's. If many enough people believe in a certain creature it becomes real when they die and are absorbed into the Ether. This is also true for creator figures, such as coyote himself. In other words, beings would be created retroactively; a proof of this would be that Coyote remembers that he put several of the stars in the sky, after the creation of the earth. On the other hand, Jones was around before any other living thing, and she remembers the stars already being in the sky. The ROTD also uses a weaker version of this property of the Ether to appear more fearsome to ether-sensitive visitors.