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Astral projection (or astral travel) is a paranormal interpretation of an out-of-body experience achieved either awake or via lucid dreaming or deep meditation. People who believe in astral projection believe that the spirit or astral body leaves the physical body to travel in the spirit world or astral, etheric, or spiritual plane.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

While there is no hard scientific evidence for astral projection, believers rely on personal experience.[1]

Explanations[edit | edit source]

Mainstream explanations for reports that are interpreted by believers to be "astral projection" do not accommodate views that there can be sensory perception separated from the physical body. Rather, such out-of-body experiences are solely in the mind of the experiencer. Similar experiences have been, for example, induced with drugs or brain stimulation.[1] [2][3]

Belief systems that include some religious accounts allow for the separation of the soul or spirit from the physical body. Some believers in astral projection refer to this as an astral or etheric body carrying the consciousness outside of the physical body.[4] Those who believe in theosophy, for example, believe that the higher astral planes are reached through the progressive projections through various "subtle bodies", much like a Matryoshka doll.[5][6] The subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a connection represented by a silver cord 'plugging' into the chakra system.[7][8]

Altered states of consciousness researcher Robert Monroe explained astral projection to be a kind of "phasing" where no movement of a spirit out of the body occurs. Monroe believed that the astral planes and the physical world are points on the spectrum of consciousness, and when a person projects, they "phase" into another area of consciousness and the locales it contains. Monroe's phasing explanation does not allow for a complete mind-brain connection, but rather Monroe believed that our concepts of physical reality do not apply to astral travel.[9][10]

Projection types or locations[edit | edit source]

The astral planes are usually conceived as either realms that overlap the physical in different layers, or as states of consciousness that need to be traversed in order. Usually, the progression is from the physical to the etheric, then the astral, then various other realms or spirit worlds beyond the astral. [11]

Astral projection[edit | edit source]

In astral projection the traveler finds himself- or herself in an apparently real domain, which has no parallel to any physical setting. This is termed by New Agers and occultists among others as the astral plane or "the astral". Environments here may range from populated to unpopulated, artificial to natural to completely abstract environments and from beautific to horrific. Here, normal physical laws often do not apply. The quality of detail ranges from crude to vivid and fascinating. Projectors may gain access to visions of the past or future of Earth, and to the Akashic records. It has been said that space and time do not exist on the astral plane in the same way they do on earth, or that they can be transcended. Many travelers have theorized that people having dreams travel to the astral realms. Travelers have reported seeing dreamers enact dream scenarios on the astral plane, unaware of the more extensive and varied non-physical environment surrounding them. Some also claim common movements in dreams, such as falling or feeling like you are walking through quicksand, is the astral body in action.[12]

The astral environment is often divided into levels or planes. There are many different views concerning the overall structure of the astral planes, and many different numbering schemes applied to them. These planes may include heavens and hells, places where people go immediately after death, transcendent environments for those who are "more enlightened," and other less-easily characterized states.[13][14][15]

Etheric projection[edit | edit source]

Though closely related to astral projection, in etheric projection a projector encounters mainly that which exists physically, moving about in a (usually invisible) etheric body. The term was used as far back as the 1940s, by Dion Fortune in her book Psychic Self Defence.[16] In contrast to astral projection, during this type of experience, there are no fantastical worlds, or self-absorbed encounters; the majority of the experience can -hypothetically- be validated.

The world encountered during etheric projection may seem to be at variance with physical reality if strict mind control is not maintained. Robert Monroe describes this type of projection as a projection to "Locale I" or the "Here-Now", and describes it as containing people and places that actually exist in the material world.[17] Robert Bruce refers to a similar area as the "Real Time Zone" (RTZ) and describes it as the nonphysical dimension level closest to the physical.[18]

In Western theosophy, each subtle body is functionally distinct. Since the etheric body and astral body are not the same, they cannot represent the same kind of psychic activity.[19] [20]

According to Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the astral and physical realms. Ether, also called prana, is the "vital force" that empowers the Physical forms in order for change to take place. This means that when one views the physical during an OBE, they are not technically "in" the astral realm at all.[21]

Research[edit | edit source]

Dr. Robert Crookall published case studies of astral projection in 1960. He divided these into naturally-occurring out-of-the-body experiences (people who nearly died, people who were very ill, people who were exhausted, etc, and people who were quite well) and enforced OBEs, from anaesthesia, suffocation, accidents and hypnosis.[22]

Dr. Charles Tart tentatively concluded that etheric projection may have objective validity. For example, in a 1967 study, a subject was unable to discover a five digit number written down and placed face up in an adjoining room, but did provide some details of the activities of the technician monitoring the experiment. Tart summarizes, "Thus, there is some indication that ESP may have been involved with respect to the technician's activities, but it is not at all conclusive."[23][24]

Robert Monroe, founder of the Monroe Institute, published several accounts of his experiences of astral projection, including Far Journeys. Monroe developed a method called "Hemi-Sync" to induce mental states that are favorable for projection. Hemisync is a method of altering brain waves using sounds, together with meditative instruction, listened to on headphones. The process is based on a concept called binaural beats.[25]

Bruce Moen began as a student of Robert Monroe, but has developed the process of mentally exploring through 'projection' in such a manner as to frequently override the need for sound wave support such as Hemi-Sync.[26]

See also[edit | edit source]

In Popular Culture[edit | edit source]

  • Prue Halliwell from the WB hit series Charmed had the power of astral projection. She projects onto the physical plane and can interact with physical objects.
  • In the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures, the Sheep Talisman gives the power of astral projection. The user can travel through the physical plane or enter another person's dreams.
  • In the animated series Gargoyles, in the episode "Walkabout," Goliath and Dingo meditated and went into the astral plane (called the Dreamtime) in order to communicate with an AI machine called the Matrix. They found they could use their willpower to alter the plane, like in a dream.
  • In the CW drama series Supernatural in the episode "In My Time of Dying," a comatose Dean has an out-of-body experience where not only can he travel through (and when focused, physically affect) the real plane but can communicate with a Grim Reaper.
  • There are two occurrences of astral and etheral projection in the TV drama Smallville. In the episode "Slumber," Sarah Conroy had the ability to enter Clark's dreams while asleep herself. In the episode "Reunion," Duncan Allenmeyer, while seemingly braindead, has the ability to leave his body and physically harm others with telekinesis when he is shot up with a Kryptonite solution.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 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."
  2. Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll, article on out-of-body experience (OBE), retrieved August 24, 2007
  3. Blanke, O., Ortigue, S., Landis, T., & Seeck, M. (2002). Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions. Nature, 419(6904), 269-270.
  4. entry on Astral body in the Historical Terms Glossary from the website of the Parapsychological Association, retrieved August 26, 2007
  5. Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
  6. Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7 p. 31-33, 404-410, 538
  7. Projection of the Astral Body by Carrington and Muldoon
  8. Out of Body Experiences: How to have them and what to expect by Robert Peterson (chapters 5, 17, 22)
  9. Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
  10. Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.
  11. Wilde, Stuart: Sixth Sense, p 129. Hay House, Inc, 2000.
  12. Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7
  13. Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7
  14. Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
  15. Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.
  16. Charles and Collins, Carr; "The Story of Dion Fortune", Thoth Books, 1998, ISBN 1-870450-33-7, p150,
  17. Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.
  18. Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999. p 25-27, 30-31
  19. ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY: A Resource on Theosophy Retrieved August 23, 2007 "Astral Body Generally equivalent to the Sanskrit linga-sarira, the ethereal model-body, usually invisible to our physical eyes, upon which the physical body (sthula-sarira) is modeled. There are three ethereal forms or bodies which might properly be called astral bodies: 1) mayavi-rupa -- the illusory form-body of thought and substance projected by high initiates; 2) linga-sarira -- the model- or pattern-body, the second principle of the human constitution; and 3) kama-rupa -- the phantom or spook which is seen occasionally in the vicinity of graves or which occasionally materializes at seances."
  20. Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll, article on Astral Projection, retrieved August 24, 2007.
  21. Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter IV, The Constitution of Man: Vital Body - Desire Body - Mind), 1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3
  22. Crookall, Robert. The Study and Practice of Astral Projection, copyright 1960 (before ISBN)
  23. Psychophysiological Study of Out-of-the-Body Experiences in a Selected Subject, by Charles Tart Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1968, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 3-27
  24. Second Psychophysiological Study of Out-of-the-Body Experiences in a Selected Subject by Charles T. Tart Published in the International Journal of Parapsychology, 1967, vol. 9, 251-258
  25. Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
  26. Vol.1 Voyages into the Unknown 1997 By Bruce Moen ISBN 1-57174-068-6

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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