Astral Body: what it is (& what it is not)

For millennia, people have believed that man is made up of two parts: a soul or spirit that God gives us, and a material body consisting of flesh and blood. However, some philosophers and occult scholars believe that each man possesses a third component, an astral body, which literally means “starry body” and is sometimes referred to as “the body of light.”

This astral body is an exact replica of the material body, but is composed of a purer substance, that looks shining and radiant. It is said that the astral body can leave the physical body and wander around, pass through walls, ceilings, and other solid objects.

It is also believed the astral body lives on when the actual body dies. This astral body resides in what is known as the astral plane, which contains the normal, everyday reality, but also extends beyond it.

Stories of Astral Projection

Mile Osmont

Mile Osmont, a French Roman Catholic journalist and occultist who died in 1953, gave a humorous tale of astral travel.

On her first try at astral traveling, she was able to leave physical traces of her activities. She was acquainted with a married couple, both sculptors. Annie, the wife, had voiced her profound doubt in the concept of astral travel during one of their evenings together. Mile Osmont then vowed to Annie she would prove her wrong.

The following night, after a quarter-hour of concentration, Mile managed to project herself out of her material body, and travel to her friends’ flat by passing through walls and other obstacles. The married couple were fast asleep in their beds.

Mile observed and remembered the color and style of their nightgowns, but believed it was insufficient evidence and searched around for something it could topple over.

Eventually, she found a gilded liqueur glass sitting on the mantelpiece. It felt as heavy as a car, but she quickly noticed her pushing had pushed the object ever so slightly, and so Annie continued her efforts until she got the liqueur glass to the edge of the mantelpiece and pushed it over. It broke and spilled everything all over the floor.

With a fright, the couple jumped from their beds, and Annie grumbled, “I bet it’s that fool Osmont!”.

On her next regular appointment, she saw the husband first and mentioned Annie’s words to him. He recognized the connection and explained that his wife was furious since the goblet was a family treasure.

Mile Osmont reports that because of her efforts at astral traveling, she was extremely fatigued for several days. It’s indeed uncommon for physical objects to move when in the astral body.

Dr. Francis Lefebure

Dr. Francis Lefebure was a well known French parapsychologist, who extensively studied various phenomenon that could be described as paranormal. On one such occasion, he describes how he succeeded in making his astral body visible.

He served as the medical director at a prisoner of war camp in Algeria close to Guelma during World War Two. In the officers’ mess, his ideas were well-known, and he was the target of much ridicule.

One morning, Lefebure was told to go and see the lieutenant. 

“I went to find him. He was in the barber’s shop. Always the first to ridicule me and fearless under fire, he didn’t seem quite happy in my presence.”

The lieutenant told Lefebure the following story:

“Last night, about midnight, having gone to the little station (about two miles from the camp), I suddenly saw you so clearly that there could be no possible mistake. I said to you, “Hello, Lefebure, what are you doing here at this time of night?” and you replied, “It’s not me, it’s my double!” and then you disappeared as if by magic. Then I ran all the way to the camp and verified that you were in your room. I questioned the orderlies and the sentries, and they all guaranteed that you hadn’t gone out during the night.”

“The lieutenant, who seemed very impressed, did not make fun of me any more. As investigation proved that he was not in the least drunk that day, and that in fact he never was, the rumor spread in Guelma that I did strange tricks. Some months later I discovered that the phrase “It’s not me, it’s my double” was still famous in the town.”

What Astral Traveling feels like

According to accounts from people who have astral traveled, the general sensation is initially identical with the waking state, except for a sense of well-being and buoyancy.

Dr. Lefebure describes moments when he found himself walking around his bedroom and couldn’t tell if he was dreaming, walking in his normal body, or traveling in his astral body until he felt himself floating upwards.

He compares the Astral Body’s limbs to the phantom limbs an amputee feels. He goes on to describe how he used the phantom arms to pull up the top half of his phantom body, but added that the best outcomes came when he withdrew upwards from his feet to his head, similar to pulling a sword from its sheath.

Dr. Lefebure resorted to willpower to project himself astrally, but he also used yoga practices involving increasingly long intervals of breathing suspension.

The American author Sylvan Muldoon, one of the most skilled modern astral travelers, places a high value on first creating a strong desire to be aware in the astral body in the mind, and only then to try to practice imagining the Astral body by looking into a mirror.

The next step is to focus on the beats of one’s heart and try to be aware of the heart’s beating no matter where one is physically located. The heart rate can then be slowed via mental suggestion. Those who suffer from heart disease or have heart problems should obviously avoid this method.

It’s likely that Muldoon’s unusual process was due to his abnormally slow heartbeat and overall fragile health. He often stressed that he most unpleasant part of the process was the mental anticipation, and not the astral projection itself.

He claims that the energy built up in the subconscious will always express itself, so long as one studies and desires astral projection with enough dedication.

Some occult researchers propose that the presence of an astral body is the primary cause for certain apparitions such as ghosts, or if a person that was known to be dead suddenly appears to be alive.

Envelope of the Soul

The concept of a heavenly body, or astral body, dates back centuries. Pranayama is a subset of yoga that has been documented in ancient Indian texts to grant its practitioners a variety of siddhis, or “supernormal” abilities. One of them, “flying in the sky,” seems to allude to astral projection.

The concept of the astral body appears to have originated independently in classical Greek philosophy as well, without any sort of influence from eastern philosophy.

The souls of the stars, Plato says in Book 10 of his Laws, are the force that keeps these celestial objects moving in their orbits. While he acknowledges that the human soul is invisible and “enfolds us in a fashion utterly imperceptible to all bodily senses,” he does say that some people believe star souls have “bodies of fire, or it may be of air,” in addition to their material star bodies.

According to the Timaeus, God created souls and “mounted” them on the stars “as if on chariots.” These spirits would go on to be incarnated as humans and, if they were good citizens, would be reborn among the stars in the afterlife.

The concept of the astral body as a spiritual envelope for the soul originated from the fusion of various spiritual concepts, such as the chariots of the souls, the fiery or airy bodies of the souls of stars, and the spiritual container proposed by Aristotle. The theory was so compelling it was later adopted by Neoplatonist philosophers.

For example, Porphyry (who lived in the third century AD) proposed that the pneuma of the soul thickens and darkens as it absorbs moisture from the air during its journey from heaven to earth, where it will take on a physical body.

A soul’s attempts to return to heaven after death are hampered by this wet cloak, and the soul may even be dragged down to a place of punishment.

If the soul manages to rise, however, it will gradually discard the envelope. Some spirits have a hazy pneuma that may assume any form they like, making them look like gods or even dead people.

In the Western world, the concept of the astral body has existed since classical times.

Upon passing away, the soul “beams its own creative power, like to its living form in shape and size… the circumambient air adopts the shape the soul imposes on it,” as Dante wrote back in the 14th century in canto 25 of his Purgatorio.

Agrippa von Nettesheim appears to allude to astral travel in the 16th century when he speaks of “vacation of the body, when the spirit is enabled to transcend its bounds, and as a light escaped from a lantern to spread over space.”

The Astral Plane

The astral body resides in a spiritual sphere of existence known as the “astral plane” or “desire world,” which overlaps with but transcends our mundane, everyday physical world.

Every conceivable mental state, emotion, desire, and fantastical idea is said to have a counterpart on the astral plane.

This is the dimension of dreams, the realm where our hopes and dreams can come true on their own.

According to occult theory, every event that has taken place on the earth since the dawn of creation has left an imprint of itself on the astral plane, just as everything in the physical world today has its astral image.

The so-called Akashic Records are a compilation of these impressions and can supposedly be accessed through clairvoyance or intense meditation.

Even though it would seem easy to tell observation of the Akashic Records apart from pure imagination and fantasy, many modern occult teachers claim to have consulted them.

The Etheric Double

The astral body is commonly mixed up with another metaphysical container, the so called “etheric body” or “double,” which was named after a hypothetical medium through which electromagnetic waves were thought to travel in 19th-century physics.

Though invisible to normal sight, the etheric body was believed to be closer to the material plane than the astral body. The vital force, or “wiring system,” metaphorically speaking, is what provides the physical body with life and sensation.  

Just like the Astral Body, the Etheric Body was capable of separating itself from the physical body in certain situations, such as total anesthesia; however, it is still connected to the body through a shining cord.

When a person dies, “the silver cord is loosed,” and the etheric body is released from the physical body. Many psychics have reported seeing a ghostly, translucent figure rise from the dying body of a human or animal and then vanish from sight.

Sylvan Muldoon’s experiments likely involved the expulsion of both the etheric and astral bodies, given his focus on the “cord” that connected his projected double to his physical self.

This idea that someone’s intense thought or reverie can cause his likeness to be projected at some point in space is another bogus theory about astral traveling.

In Scottish folklore, there was even the concept of “the forerunner,” where a traveler would manifest their “spiritual body” at the destination before the physical body had reached it.

This is not the same as the common belief that the astral body houses the mind in its entirety.

Some dream states, as well as the sensation of being detached from one’s physical body during sleep or loss of physical consciousness, are true cases of an astral body and astral projection.

Healing dreams that occurred at ancient Greek shrines to the god Asclepius appear to have targeted the etheric double of the physical body rather than the astral.

Is the Astral Body & Projection real?

Some contemporary experts, like D.J. West and Antony Flew are both skeptics regarding astral projections and astral bodies, but they do so in good humor.

However, Professor Hart draws some interesting conclusions. His book, The Enigma of Survival, is a balanced summary of the arguments and evidence presented by proponents of both camps.

He concludes that “the verified evidence of the reality of astral projection seems quite conclusive,” and that “apparitions of the dead may often be, and usually are, vehicles of surviving conscious personalities,” so that “these diversities among the different descriptions of the astral world, and of the afterlife in general,” cannot be explained by claiming that all such accounts are merely fantasies.

Creating an Astral Body and projecting consciousness into it

The correct method for astral travel requires the person to develop the Astral Body (sometimes known as Body of Light) until it becomes just as real as the physical body.

In the final steps of the process of astral projection, the relationship between the Astral Body and your physical body must be extremely close. Until it is ready, however, the Astral Body must be kept separate from the physical one.

As such, moving the Astral Body outside of the physical body is the first thing you must do. Start by visualizing a shape that looks like you and sits just in front of you. This visualization exercise will help you separate the Astral Body from the physical body.

Next, try to sculpt the shape so it looks more and more like your own body. Once this is complete, try to imagine yourself transferring your consciousness into this Astral body. Now is not the time to be skeptical and dismiss this effort as simple imagination. You will get to test your new found Astral Body soon enough.

After the sculpting is complete, close the eyes of your physical body. Instead, use the eyes from your Astral Body to identify the objects behind your physical body.

Once you feel comfortable and at home in your new, spiritual body, let it float in the air. Continue to experience the sensation of rising; keep looking around you as you rise until you see the landscapes and beings that inhabit the astral plane. These have a distinct quality all of their own. They are neither material nor mental images, but appear to be somewhere in the middle.

Now, even if your escape from the body appears to have been unsuccessful, you must make every effort to bring back your astral body and reconnect it with your physical one.

Restore consciousness unity by making the Body of Light coincide in space with the physical body. If you don’t do it correctly, you could end up in big trouble since the Body of Light may stray uncontrollably and be attacked and obsessed by everything that resides in the Astral Plane.

This will manifest as headaches, bad dreams, or even more serious symptoms such as hysteria, fainting fits, possibly madness, or paralysis. Even the most severe of these attacks will most likely wear off, but they may leave you permanently damaged to varying degrees.


References:

  • Mythology of All Races by Louis Herbert Gray and John Arnott MacCulloch
  • The History Of Witchcraft And Demonologyby Montague Summers
  • Man, Myth & Magic The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Mythologyby Richard Cavendish
  • Demons and elementalsby John Gatehouse
  • The Lesser Key of Solom
  • The Key of Solomon
  • The Kybalion by Three Initiates
  • The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall
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