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The Astral Body, Astral Travel and the Dream Body

The term ‘astral’, ‘etheric’, or even ‘dream’ body, refers to the theory that human consciousness can become completely separate from the body, and in this form be free of the limitations the body has. The astral body is said to appear very much like the physical body, with all the features and limbs, but be made of subtler material, or even of thought and emotion. This concept of a finer body most likely arose out of two basic human experiences in the earliest period of human thought. Because while dreaming it is common to be in places far distant from where one is asleep, it was thought that the dreamer actually visited that place while they slept, or that a finer spiritual body had travelled away from the corporeal self and gone to a heavenly or spirit world. Also early human beings, just as occurs today, experienced impressive out-of-body events which at face value again show a distinct self moving at a distance from, and having a life completely independent of, the physical body.

This concept and the experiences it arose from, have led to the development of whole belief systems, such as that of spiritualism and occultism. If you have a good grounding in what is understood about dreaming these are fascinating areas of human thought and experience to explore, as they illustrate the variety of ways human experience can be described and theorised about. See What we need to remember about dreams.

In spiritualism for instance a whole heaven world, or life after death state, is said to exist around the concept of the subtler bodies. With these subtler bodies, it is said we can exist after the death of the physical body, and have total and fascinating involvement in the different dimensional worlds these bodies exist in.

In occultism there is an attempt to define the function of the astral body in the overall process of human existence. Rudolph Steiner, stating his doctrine of occultism, says of the astral body that as long as a person has no organs of perception that can sense the subtler aspects of human nature, the only apparent world is that of the physical body. He goes on to say that during sleep ‘the soul is fully active’… ‘but a man can know nothing of this … as long as he has no spiritual organs of perception through which he can observe what is going on around him and see what he himself is doing during sleep as easily as he can observe his daily physical environment with his ordinary senses.’ In this supersensible world, Steiner says, the astral body is that which brings consciousness to the otherwise vegetative existence of our body. Without the process that the astral body produces, we would exist in a similar way to a plant, in a sort of sleep without traces of self-awareness. To quote Steiner more extensively, he says -

Man has his physical body in common with the minerals and his etheric body with the plants. In the same sense he is of like nature with the animals in respect of the astral body. The plant is in a perpetual state of sleep. Anyone who does not judge accurately in these matters may easily fall into the error of attributing to plants too a kind of consciousness such as the animals and man have in their waking state. But this mistake is only possible when one’s idea of consciousness is inexact. One may then aver that a plant too, when subjected to an outer stimulus, will perform movements, just as an animal will do. One will refer to the ‘sensitiveness’ of many plants, which for example contract their leaves when certain outer things affect them. But the criterion of consciousness does not lie in the fact that to a given action a being shows a definite reaction. It lies in this, that the being has an inner experience, and this is a new factor, over and above the mere reaction. Otherwise we might as well speak of consciousness when a piece of iron expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is only there when for example, through the effect of heat, the being inwardly experiences pain.

Quoted from Occult Science – An Outline by Rudolph Steiner, Translated by George and Mary Adams, published by Rudolf Steiner Press, London. See Rudolph Steiner’s Philosophy of Life and Death.

This is not, however, the general view of the astral body in popular spiritualism and alternative thinking. In these the astral body is a vehicle through which one can experience awareness separated from the physical body. Through this one can travel anywhere in the world and beyond in moments, and witness what is happening at a distance. One can meet and commune with other individuals who are also projected from their body, as well as meet people who are dead and therefore have no physical existence at all.

The reasons or causes for this projection from the body may be due to an induced trance, an anaesthetic or other drugs, or an illness or the approach of death. A fascinating account of the experience of astral projection and the world one exists in is give by William Lilley, a renowned spiritual healer working within the belief system of Spiritualism. He says he was able to consciously ‘leave his body’ and visit the ‘Beautiful Place’, where he meets the dead. His description of this is typical of many other peoples, even to the ‘going through the mists’.

When I am going into trance, I breathe in the Yoga method shown me by Dr. Letari. Immediately I get a sensation as though I am falling, or being pulled backwards. As this sensation comes to a climax, I seem to be travelling through space at terrific speed.

I have opened my eyes many times but the only vision I had was of passing through a dense fog; then, quite suddenly, the fog clears and I am at a stile. I climb over this stile and immediately there is a voice speaking to me over my shoulder. This voice is always with me, explaining everything I see and everyone I meet. The stile seems to be on the edge of a large field, which rises gradually to the form of a hill. I walk up the hill, and beyond it I visit many places.

I have been to the Children’s Land many times and have spoken to children with whom I used to go to school, many of whom I did not know had died until I met them. I have paid visits too, to the Halls of Learning, which seem to me more like the Acropolis at Athens.

It is always the same stile, the same hill, the same voice, and it just seems like a large country with so many different towns to visit.

The most interesting and remarkable experience I ever had during these visits into the Spirit, happened before I went into trance. Several sitters had been speaking of consciousness. They had asked me to describe the Spirit. Was it solid? Did I appear solid? I promised the Sitters that if I could, I would find out.

I arrived at my stile, the voice came to me and it evidently knew my desire because it said ‘Feel the earth!’ I did. It was solid. ‘Feel the grass beneath your feet!’ I did. That was solid too, and even had dew on it. ‘Smell these flowers!’ They were perfectly natural and had the usual perfume. In fact, everything around was natural. Then I was told, ‘Feel your body’. I did so. It was as solid as I am materially.

The voice then said, ‘Close your eyes; make your consciousness passive’, or as one would do when preparing for a trance state. ‘Now feel the earth beneath your feet!’ There was nothing. ‘Open your eyes’. It wasn’t dark, it wasn’t light. ‘Feel at your body’. It wasn’t there. ‘Such is Spirit’ said the voice. ‘Just a consciousness holding within it all experiences of your lifetime, all the joys and sorrows, your desires, achievements and failures, whence comes spiritual evolution. In your world of the material, you are able to examine matter; everything is matter. When you think of the spiritual, naturally you build in your consciousness another material world.’

Here is an experience of an out of body experience. Sir Auckland Geddes, an eminent British Anatomist, describes his own OBE, which contains many of these features.

Example: Becoming suddenly and violently ill with gastro-enteritis I quickly became unable to move or phone for help. As this was occurring I noticed I had an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ consciousness. The ‘A’ was my normal awareness, and the ‘B’ was external to my body watching. From the ‘B’ self I could see not only my body, but also the house, garden and surrounds. I need only think of a friend or place and immediately I was there and was later able to find confirmation for my observations. In looking at my body, I noticed that the brain was only an end organ, like a condensing plate, upon which memory and awareness played. The mind, I saw, was not in the brain, the brain was in the mind, like a radio in the play of signals. I then observed my daughter come in and discover my condition, I saw her telephone a doctor friend, and saw the doctor also at the same time.

The extraordinary experiences we can meet are here so clearly describe. Geddes is not only aware of his physical body but observes it in a way he had never before perceived. His brain was only an end organ, not the originator or thoughts; he could see his whole surroundings, garden as well without moving; he witnessed his daughter and the doctor without travelling anywhere; here and there were the same place for him.

Spiritualism, through the experience of people like Lilley and Geddes, tells us the ‘dead’ have a subtle body and live in worlds in many ways similar to physical life, except in their beauty, colour, lack of sickness and pain, and without war and in its possibilities. In these worlds we can fly like birds, swim underwater like fish, communicate with others heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul, without the use of clumsy words. We have a body, but it is a body at its prime, without weight or tiredness. We have clothes, but they are creations of our thoughts, and we are clothed by our own love and wisdom. We experience heaven or hell, not as punishment or reward, but because we create our own environment by our own thoughts and emotions. Here we explore music, the arts, creativity, knowledge, relationships, without the limitations the body imposes, and with the added wonder of a new dimension of experience. Our senses are extended so that when we look at someone, we see not only a body shape and their posture and expression, but also we perceive their quality as a person, perhaps through a surrounding field of colour or emanation from within. When we consider a painting in this world, we not only appreciate the colours and forms, but we commune with the artist through the work, and experience for ourselves the artist’s vision and feelings, their unique quality and spirit.

With the development of the theory attached to Quantum Mechanics – The New Physics – a very different view is emerging of time, space and human consciousness. This vastly subtler view of the cosmos and our place in it brings a shift also to the way we can look at experiences such as the projection of the astral body, or the concept of the astral body itself. These shifts appear to offer an open door to greater freedom of experience within these areas, and an entirely new way of explaining them. Well, perhaps not entirely new, as many of the subtlest of thinkers of East and West have already written much about these subtlest aspects of ‘Reality’.

As Lilley’s inner voice had said, ‘Close your eyes; make your consciousness passive’, or as one would do when pre-paring for a trance state. ‘Now feel the earth beneath your feet!’ There was nothing. ‘Open your eyes’. It wasn’t dark, it wasn’t light. ‘Feel at your body’. It wasn’t there. ‘Such is Spirit’ said the voice. ‘Just a consciousness holding within it all experiences of your lifetime, all the joys and sorrows, your desires, achievements and failures, whence comes spiritual evolution. In your world of the material, you are able to examine matter; everything is matter. When you think of the spiritual, naturally you build in your consciousness another material world.’

In other words we create in those subtler dimensions of experience replicas of what we have known in the body. But as we accept the growth beyond limitations we can drop those physical forms and operate as formless and genderless beings. This does away with the need to feel that we travel anywhere and have moved away from the physical. My own experience tells me that our consciousness is all pervading and so called astral travel is not travelling, but tuning into a particular tiny area of the cosmos, and becuase of our physical experience of travel needing to move our body, we create the dream of travelling..

See Levels of Awareness in Waking and Sleeping; consciousness – the body mind split; esp in dreams; out of body experiences; paralysis while asleep; http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/what-we-need-to-remember-about-dreaming/#Paralyzed.

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Comments

-jd 2011-12-13 5:28:13

My thought would be that astral projection is expanded consciousness and only appears separate to those not adequately prepared for the experience. Completely separate might be misinformation to readers.

We don’t really know. The experiences of other peoples reality is hard to transfer into our own.

Learning to relax deeply and working on physical health would be the first preparatory step. Drugs will only interfere with the experience over a lifetime. IMO

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    -Tony Crisp 2011-12-13 9:03:27

    JD – Exactly my own thoughts. But in the feature you read I didn’t spell it out. Please see http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/out-of-body-experiences/ where it is covered more thoroughly:

    “In a nutshell, the world of the OBE is created by the concepts of the ‘dreamer’. This world is experienced as physically real, in a similar way to the world of dreams. Yet it is neither a dream in the usual sense, nor is it a dream in which the person is highly lucid. There is a different quality about it than either dreaming or lucidity. The difference is that during an OBE the physical world can also be experienced and witnessed. So in trying to analyse events during an OBE, we must discover what aspects are created out of unconsciously held concepts, and what are witnessed physical world events or objects. Whatever the answer, this view of the OBE suggests there is no need for a person to travel to a site, or to have a silver cord, or in fact any sort of body at all. What emerges is that consciousness can at certain times completely go beyond the limitations of space, location and time that we usually accept.”

    Tony

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-shira-yuki 2013-01-17 21:28:25

i had such thing but i don’t know how to deal with it.. and i can’t tell anyone about it except my family of course..
Once..when i was in high school..i had a biology exam..i didn’t do much..when the teacher saw my grade and it was the only low grade in my report..
she asked my if want to get another exam to have a better grade…and of course i said yeah..
she told that the exam will be the day after..and told me to study well..at that day i came from school.. went to bed …slept til the night but what woke me up was my usual horrible toothache..cuz of that i couldn’t study..by the the morning of the other day that i should have the exam in..i started to feel tiered…
mum suggested that it would be better if i didn’t go to school..
i thought about how IT IS embarrassing if i didn’t go..how much would that disappoint my teacher..with these thoughts and feelings of guilt..i simply went to bed..><
when i got up..my sister was already home..she said that my friends were acting weird cuz they said that i was there..and wanted to know why did i took only the first too classes and left in the middle of the day..i was shocked..my sister wasn't the type that jokes such jokes..and if was a joke it's gonna be a weird one..
next day i asked my friends..they answered me like if it's nothing weird..that "yeah u were here"
but the teacher wasn't ^^;;
it seems unbelievable..but really it happened but i forgot all about it till last year..i'm the type that due to some circumstances never goes outside of the house..so the weather was beautiful outside but i couldn't do anything but to look out of the window a couple of times..or have a walk in the back yard..that only made me sad..so i came back inside..to make something to drink.. imagining how would it be so beautiful if i get outside when i heard my younger sister calling my name..then and obviously i answered just to find her looking at me surprised…she called me where she saw me at the house hall trying to get out..to find an answer from the kitchen behind her..
Similar things continually are happening now
i don't know how to control this..it's a problem to me now…..it seems all a lie but i'm not askin anyone to believe…i only wish to know how to control this…
the whole thing at the end went into something else entirely

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-suresh Jain 2013-12-16 3:35:27

The human body is miracle it has infinite angelic powers , The said divine power are for the sake to get liberation .

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-devindra singh 2015-02-17 15:00:17

Each and every word of what is described here about out of body experience and astral projection is absolutely true and accurate beyond any doubt. It is not a matter of believing but chance experience and further self discovery and investigation with true efforts for exploration.

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-Marnie Duarte 2015-08-21 0:02:29

When someone has an out of body experience, how does that same person prevent any other entity from entering their body? Then their physical body could actually be being sexually abused or violated in some way while away. How does someone permanently prevent anyone from entering their physical body(i.e another astral body entering someone’s physical body). The person’s subconscious would have to feeling that other persons fantasies or sexual experiences when they returned back to their body. It could have severe negative impact subconsciously effect our abilities in life. This is an important question because it is said that many women and children who are sexually abused have learned, some without being aware, but for the sake of their mental sanity, to leave their bodies during such tragic abusive events. So how can one prevent anyone from ever violating their physical bodies in what some might also call a walking into another’s body? Especially where the mind automatically takes over in self defense of sexually abusing a woman, or child, or anyone for that matter. Thank You!

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-Cathie Ahokkangas 2015-08-27 2:36:08

1. woken up being pulled into blackness and a deep voice saying TODAY IS THE DAY YOU DIE ; it took strength n prayer to snap out of the grip

2. last night i was trasported thru ‘space’ & i felt no emotion but curious as i went thru a bright white dense mist & i ended up in a clinical room lying on a hospital type bed with a man standing over me; no emotion but i knew i’d seen him somewhere on earth…i got up and started exploring the room with only mild curiosity…

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-E Cummings M.R.Ed, LCMHC 2015-12-07 1:43:40

On June 20, 2015, I experience a profound physical travel to a nearby familiar historical arena in which I encountered another individual who was not an apparition, angel, advisor, soothsayer, et al, but the most gentle kind person imaginable. I spent considerable time with this person in which very little actual dialog occurred, but much was communicated. She seemed to be exploring other realities as well and yet conveyed simple yet extraordinary wisdom. I also experienced a bliss that I thought was initially prompted by her presence, but later realized was a kind of universe she brought with her. She is well known but doubt that she knew she was perhaps being used as a messenger from what I sense was a far away source. When asked who she was, after telling her she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever experienced..she said very softly (as were all her responses) “thank you” and added that she “was neither sent nor commissioned” conveyed with the most amazing smile and quietness. At one point, sitting on a park bench I noticed a gas like tube between us which I saw as bright neon electron like flashes going firing back and forth between us, (inside the blue hued tube were small glass like rods that these lights raced throughout..some going toward her and some coming toward me. Later I realized that knowledge was being transmitted from her and negative kinds of distresses were outgoing or being withdrawn. There were many such proponents to this experience. When awaking, I was so effected (3 A.M.) that I could not go back to sleep and knew instantly it was NOT a dream or an apparition. I knew that my “normal body” had remained asleep but also knew a separate identical self, had left on a journey to a nearby place ( a Navy hangar with a few aircraft harbored inside – I was a former pilot in the Navy many years ago.). At times when I would inquire about things, she would touch me on the lips with her index finger and simply say “shhhh.” At other times she would say the most beautiful things and offer wonderful perceptions but she never taught or advised. She also told me at the outset that she “came to be with me and and at another point said, “All will be alright.” Now five months along, I am still deeply affected and continue to access parts of the download. The beauty was so extraordinary that if people knew this might be what life after death could be like, they’d be lining up all over the planet. I’ve written this up in detail along with a part on “What i think happened.” This from the stance of quantum mechanics, physics, molecular and morphogentic transformations. I am learning more about what may have transpired and that insight continues to unfold. I continue to be enormously effected by the experience and continue to feel its presence. There is far more to this however for the sake of brevity,I’ll stop here. :-)

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    -Tony Crisp 2015-12-08 8:46:50

    E. Cummings – It is impossible to say exactly what your dream is really about. So it is wise to explore it yourself – not using thoughts, which are very often things you have read and so put onto your dream to give it meaning. See http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/the-magical-dream-machine/ and http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/acting-on-your-dream/#BeingPerson

    Of course we put descriptive words to all our dreams and yet dreams are a mystery about the mystery if Life. You say that you encountered an individual who was not an apparition, angel, advisor, soothsayer. But all dreams are projections from the formless into form, so I wonder whether these examples match any aspect of your own experience.

    Example: So I climbed up and the top of the tree was like a massive bell of a flower, like a crocus shape. And it was light and colourful. Suddenly I saw a spirit, a beautiful female. At this point I was semi awake, and I wanted to hold the beautiful spirit, but realised that the tree was a representation of my life, and so was the spirit of the tree. She slowly took me into her, I mean the whole me, as if she was sucking my whole body into her. I realised that I had to die because she wanted to take all my experience of life and endeavour into her and fertilise herself to form a baby.

    Example: Ibn al Arabi during a visit to the Black Stone in Mecca, he met the figure that had appeared to him in his vision, which he recognised and described as a young man who was neither living nor dead. He suddenly perceived the temple as a living being and asked his visitor to accept him as his disciple and to teach him all of his secrets. He was so overwhelmed that he lost consciousness.

    Example: Suddenly there were two beings with me in my room. I could not see them with my eyes, but they were standing in my awareness, to my left, suspended above the bed where I lay musing.

    Surprising, because I had not sought them. Frightening, because they were the living dead.
    Radiant, because they were angels. Inspiring, because they shone with wonderful life.
    Uplifting, because of the gift they brought.

    The living dead! Yes. That I knew of them. It was everywhere about them, communicating itself to me. Telling me the majesty of death. Speaking to me without words they led knowing in me, as you might lead a friend through your new house, revealing its secrets.

    Thereby I knew, all that I considered human, in them had died. Desire, longing to possess, sex, ambition, all had melted away. And I understood in their presence, if I surrendered to the highest, this was my path. My own person would melt away, my desires fade like shadows in the sun.

    Fear – Yes – in the loss of myself. In the sense of my own futility. In the knowledge of my littleness. In the confrontation of majesty. At the loss of what I thought my wisdom. In them I saw beyond myself. Through their emptiness of all that I so valued. I saw shimmering light, cosmic in its vastness.

    Their death allowed, shining through them, dimensions of a life beyond the very best of all my mind, or love, or art. Radiant they were with all the mystery of life itself. Suns shone through them; not just with light, but with ungrasped joy and love. Inspiring me by showing me the possibility of my life, and all the lives of those myriads around me.

    Uplifting too, by unveiling to me the meaning of the story He told, where, having lost ones cloak, you offer your coat also. Not, as I had thought, an act of selfless generosity. They said it was a statement. “How strange. You want this old coat, when you could have the life unbounded?”

    That was their promise. If I dared lose my self, let that coat be taken from me, my being too would shine. As theirs shone on me that day.

    Does any of that move you? See http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/archetype-of-the-anima-jungs-view-of-the-female-in-the-male/

    Tony

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-Susan Beatrice Denery Eddy 2015-12-23 6:43:51

Beginning on July 26, 2006 when I suffered a trauma so intense that I no longer trusted my own ability to process the truth and discern reality, I became an insomniac. I was able to go thru the motions of working and raising children and maintaining a house, but my being was shattered into coexisting fragments. I slept very little due to mania and a constant rush of energy that I researched and attributed to kundalini. I felt love and compassion for everyone, even those who caused my trauma. After a while, I had bodily discomforts – digestive disorders, muscular restlessness, head aches, bouts of inability to focus on a task for very long, and tremors. I sought help from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, alternative medical practitioners, meditation guides, and others. In 2008 I decided to retire due to an inability to focus and do the quality of work I was once able to do. And now, ten years later, I sleep more than a total of 12 hours per week, but I don’t sleep at all at least two nights a week and get a total of 28 to 35 hours of sleep total each week. The result is waking dream states in which I tune out reality for varying segments of time and process images voices music. More recently, I lie down and if my cat comes into bed with me, I witness a human form without features or clothing but roughly a human shape that is in the room. I know this being is aware of me. At first I felt threatened and took steps to make this being go away as fast as possible. My heart would be pounding and my mind would be saying “what is that” and “what do you want”? This week I changed my attitude now what I am studying buddhism and working my way toward acceptance, forgiveness, love, compassion, release. Suddenly I realized this form was part of ME. And when I asked “what are you doing?” the form neatly gently slipped into me, my body lying there. I felt no emotion no fear no joy. I thought “oh” I wonder if something is wrong with me and i am hallucinating. The “what ifs” poured in after that experience. What if a being other than Susan is coexisting in this body? What if it is my astral body that went out to visit another realm unavailable to my physical self? What if … the list is long. I am a very imaginative wordsy wise ass who actually believes her creator is a practical joker. Oh dear. I am muddying the thoughts with so many possibilities. The truth is I am a sincere honest soul who has not had the good fortune to associate with many well meaning humans. My own parents were quite insincere and unpleasant and what they called love others call coercion, bullying, and mean spirited ego games. Enough. I am interested to see if the astral body returns. In the past week I have had three visits that penetrated my awareness and I can remember now as I sit here typing. I would be pleased to confirm the existence of my astral body but at this point, I believe it could be the product of PTSD. To put this in context, others know me as stable reliable and hard working, kind and generous. Compassionate and idealistic.

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