- Astral projection
Astral projection (or astral travel) is an esoteric interpretation of a type of
out-of-body experiencethat assumes the existence of an " astral body" separate from the physical bodyand capable of traveling outside it. [ [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/astral%20projection astral projection] . (n.d.). Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Retrieved June 21, 2008, from Dictionary.com website] Astral projection is experienced as being "out of the body".cite book |last=Melton |first=J. G. |authorlink= |title=Astral Projection. In Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology |publisher= Thomson Gale|date=1996 |pages= |isbn=978-0810394872] Unlike dreaming or near death experiences, astral projection is practiced deliberately.
The idea of astral travel is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the
afterlife[Suki Miller, "After Death: How People around the World Map the Journey after Death" (1995)] in which the soul's journey or "ascent" is described in such terms as "an...out-of-body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘other’ realms." [Dr. Roger J. Woolger, "Beyond Death: Transition and the Afterlife", accessed online June 2008 at the website of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/PDF/RWoolgerTransition.pdf.]
Though there is little evidence for astral projection beyond subjective personal accounts of the experience,http://www.skepdic.com/astralpr.html Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll, article on Astral Projection, retrieved
August 24 2007. "There is scant evidence to support the claim that anyone can project their mind, soul, psyche, spirit, astral body, etheric body, or any other entity to somewhere else on this or any other planet. The main evidence is in the form of testimonials."] belief that one has had an out-of-body experience, whether spoken of as "astral projection" or not, is common. Hundreds of personal accounts of astral projection were published in a number of books through the 1960s and 70s. Surveys have reported percentages ranging from 8% (as much as 50% in certain groups of respondents) who state they have had such an experience.cite web |last=Blackmore |first=Susan |authorlink= |title=Near-Death Experiences: In or out of the body? |work=Skeptical Inquirer 1991, 16, 34-45 |publisher=Committee for Skeptical Inquiry |date=1991 |url=http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/si91nde.html |accessdate=2008-06-17] Because of the subjective nature of the experience, however, there are many plausible explanations that do not rely on the existence of an "astral" body and plane.
Astral projection, or astral travel, denotes the
astral bodyor "double" leaving the physical body to travel in the astral plane. The astral body, in classical, mediaeval and renaissance Neoplatonistphilosophy as well as that of the later Theosophists and Rosicrucians, is a body of light intermediate between, and uniting, the rational soul and the physical body, while the astral plane is a world of light, composed of the spheres of the planets and stars, likewise intermediate between heaven and the physical world. These astral spheres were held to be populated by gods, angels, demons and spirits. [Dodds, E.R. "Proclus: The Elements of Theology". A revised text with translation, introduction, and commentary, 2nd edition 1963, Appendix.] cite book |last=Pagel |first=Walter |authorlink= |title=William Harvey's Biological Ideas |publisher=Karger Publishers |date=1967 |pages=147-148 |isbn=3805509626]
The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that deal with "astral" phenomena. In the neo-platonism of
Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm ("small world") of the universe (the macrocosm or "great world"). "The rational soul...is akin to the great Soul of the World" while "the material universe, like the body, is made as a faded image of the Intelligible". Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a world-view called emanationism; "from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower phase, or Nature - the material universe". [John Gregory, The Neoplatonists, Kyle Cathie 1991 pp15-16] Often these bodies and their corresponding planes of existenceare depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres, with a separate body for traversing each realm.cite book |last=Besant |first=Annie Wood |authorlink= |title=The Ancient Wisdom: An Outline of Theosophical Teachings |publisher=Theosophical publishing society |date=1897 |pages= |isbn=0524027129]
Similar concepts of "soul" travel appear in various other religious traditions, for example ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the physical body in the "
ka", or subtle body. A common belief is that the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a psychic silver cord. ["Projection of the Astral Body" by Carrington and Muldoon] ["Out of Body Experiences: How to have them and what to expect" by Robert Peterson (chapters 5, 17, 22)] The idea of the astral figured prominently in the work of the ninteteenth-century French occultist Eliphas Levi, whence it was adopted by Theosophy and Golden Dawn magical society. The Theosophists also took note of similar ideas (Lin'ga S'ari-ra) found in ancient Hinduscriptures such as the YogaVashishta-Maharamayana of Valmiki.cite book |last=Melton |first=J. G. |authorlink= |title=Out-of-the-body Travel. In Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology |publisher= Thomson Gale|date=1996 |pages= |isbn=978-0810394872]
However the expression came to be used in two different ways. Whereas for the classical and mediaeval philosophers astral "projection" was a journey to other worlds, such as heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal [Henri Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, tr. Ralph Mannheim, Bollingen XCI, Princeton U.P., 1969] landscapes - a meaning which it kept in the Golden Dawn [Chic Cicero, Chic C, Sandra Tabatha Cicero The Essential Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003.] and among some Theosophists [Arthur A.Powell, "THE ASTRAL BODY AND OTHER ASTRAL PHENOMENA", The Theosophical Publishing House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.; Adyar, Chennai, India, 1927, reprinted in 1954 and 1965, page 7, online June 2008 at http://www.theosophical.ca/AstralBodyByPowell-A.htm] - by others it was taken to mean travelling, in a ghostly form, around the ordinary physical world [William Judge, "The Ocean of Theosophy" 2nd Ed. TPH, 1893, Chapter 5, book online June 2008 at http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocean/oce-hp.htm] . It is this latter meaning, perhaps, though strictly it has nothing to do with the "astral", that is now most widely recognised.Syn|date=June 2008 Later Theosophists such as Leadbetter and Bailey designate this latter "etheric" travel.Fact|date=June 2008
Commonly in the astral projection experience, the experiencer describes themselves as being in a domain which often has no parallel to any physical setting, although they say they can visit different times and/or physical settings. Environments may be populated or unpopulated, artificial, natural or completely abstract and from beatific to horrific. A common belief is that one may access a compendium of mystical knowledge called the
Akashic records. In many of these accounts, the experiencer correlates the astral world with the world of dreams. They report seeing dreamers enact dream scenarios on the astral plane, unaware of the more extensive and varied non-physical environment they feel surrounds them. [Monroe, Robert. "Far Journeys". ISBN 0-385-23182-2] Some also state that "falling" dreams are brought about by projection. ["Astral Dynamics" by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7]
The astral environment is often theoretically divided into "levels" or "planes". There are many different views concerning the overall structure of the astral planes in various traditions. These planes may include heavens and hells and other after-death spheres, transcendent environments or other less-easily characterized states. ["Astral Dynamics" by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7] Monroe, Robert. "Far Journeys". ISBN 0-385-23182-2] ["Journeys Out of the Body" by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.]
In contrast to "astral projection", "etheric projection" is described as the ability to move about in the material world in a
etheric bodywhich is usually, though not always, invisible to people who are presently "in their bodies." Robert Monroedescribes this type of projection as a projection to "Locale I" or the "Here-Now", and describes it as containing people and places that he feels actually exist in the material world. ["Journeys Out of the Body" by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.] Robert Brucerefers to a similar area as the "Real Time Zone" (RTZ) and describes it as the nonphysical, dimension-level closest to the physical. ["Astral Dynamics" by Robert Bruce Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999. p 25-27, 30-31 ]
Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the astral and physical realms. In his system, the ether, also called prana, is the "vital force" that empowers the physical forms in order for that change to take place. From his descriptions it can be inferred that when one views the physical during an OBE, they are not technically "in" the astral realm at all. [Heindel, Max, "The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter IV, [http://www.rosicrucian.com/rms/rmseng02.htm#Chapter_IV The Constitution of Man: Vital Body - Desire Body - Mind] )", 1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3]
The subtle vehicle remains connected to the physical body during the separation by a so-called “
silver cord”, said to be that mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:6. Stephen LaBergesuggested in his 1985 book "Lucid Dreaming" that all such "out-of-body experiences" may represent partially lucid dreams or "misinterpreted dream experiences", in which the sleeper does not fully recognize the situation. "In the dark forest, one may experience a tree as a tiger, but it is still in fact only a tree." ["Lucid Dreaming: the power of being awake & aware in your dreams", p 232-346. Quote on p234.]
Hugh G. Callaway, under the pseudonym Oliver Fox, published a series of articles in "The Occult Review" during the 1920s that later became the basis of a book, "Astral Projection" (1939). Hereward Carrington, a psychical researcher, along with
Sylvan Muldoon, who professed ease with astral projection, published "The Projection of the Astral Body" in 1929. Both Callaway and Muldoon wrote of techniques they felt facilitated a projection into the astral. Among these practices included visualizing such mental images as flying or being in an elevator traveling upward, just before going to sleep. They also recommended trying to regain waking consciousness while in a dream state ( lucid dreaming). This was done, they wrote, by habitually recognizing apparent incongruities in one's dream, such as noticing a different pattern of wallpaper in one's home. Such recognition, they said, sometimes resulted in normal consciousness, but with the feeling of being outside the physical body and able to look down on it.
occulttraditions, practices range from inducing trance states to the mental construction of a second body, called the " Body of Light" in Aleister Crowley's writings, through visualization and controlled breathing, followed by the transfer of consciousness to the secondary body by a mental act of will.cite book |last=Greer |first=John |authorlink= |title=Astral Projection. In The New Encyclopedia of the Occult |publisher=Llewellyn Worldwide |date=1967 |pages=|isbn=1567183360]
* Bruce, Robert (1999) "Astral Dynamics: A NEW Approach to Out-of-Body Experiences" ISBN 1-57174-143-7
* Buhlman, William. "Adventures Beyond the Body: Astral Projection". ISBN 0062513710
* Carrington, Hereward. Muldoon, Sylvan J. "Projection of the Astral Body". ISBN 0766146049
* Monroe, Robert. "Journeys Out of the Body", ISBN 0-385-00861-9
* Peterson, Robert. "Out of Body Experiences". ISBN 1571740570
* Pritchard, Mark H (2004). "A Course in Astral Travel and Dreams". ISBN 0-9740560-1-4
* Stack, Rick "Out of Body Adventures" ISBN 0-8092-4560-4
* Vieira, Dr. Waldo. "Projectiology". ISBN 85-86019-58-5
* Wilde, Stuart. "Sixth Sense", ISBN 1-56170-501-2
* [http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/tup-onl.htm Online literature] of the
* [http://skepdic.com/astralpr.html Astral Projection] at the
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