Astral projection is a popular term for the ability to travel outside the physical body during sleep or trance.
Astral projection involves the movement of the consciousness, often pictured as an astral body or double, some distance away from the physical body.
There are numerous reports of this ability in popular psychic literature as well as that of psychic research. For example, the British scientist Dr. Robert Crookall collected hundreds of cases from individuals in all walks of life.
Countless people, from New Agers to shamans around the world, believe that it is possible to commune with cosmic intelligence through visions and vivid dreams experienced during astral projection.
The word “astral” means “pertaining to the stars,” from Late Latin astralis, from Latin astrum – “star,” from Greek astron – “a star”.
The word “projection” means “to plan, to scheme,” from Late Latin projectare “to thrust forward,” from Latin proiectus, past participle of proicere “stretch out, throw forth.”
The expression “astral projection” came to be used in two different ways. For the Golden Dawn and some Theosophists it retained the classical and medieval philosophers’ meaning of journeying to other worlds, heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal landscapes, but outside these circles the term was increasingly applied to non-physical travel around the physical world.
The astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical, medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the celestial spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings.
The astral body is a subtle body posited by many philosophers, intermediate between the intelligent soul and the mental body, composed of a subtle material. In many recensions the concept ultimately derives from the philosophy of Plato though the same or similar ideas have existed all over the world well before Plato’s time: it is related to an astral plane, which consists of the planetary heavens of astrology. The term was adopted by nineteenth-century Theosophists and neo-Rosicrucians.
The idea of astral travel is ancient and occurs in multiple cultures. For example, ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul (ba) as having the ability to hover outside the physical body via the ka, or subtle body.
According to the classical, medieval, renaissance Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and later Theosophist and Rosicrucian thought, the ‘astral body’ is an intermediate body of light linking the rational soul to the
physical body while the astral plane is an intermediate world of light between Heaven and Earth, composed of the spheres of the planets and stars. These astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons, and spirits.
In Japanese mythology, an ikiryō is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separately from their body. Traditionally, if someone holds a sufficient grudge against another person, it is believed that a part or the whole of their soul can temporarily leave their body and appear before the target of their hate in order to curse or otherwise harm them, similar to an evil eye. Souls are also believed to leave a living body when the body is extremely sick or comatose – such ikiryō are not malevolent.
According to 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 to change. From his descriptions it can be inferred that, to him, when one views the physical during an out-of-body experience, one is not technically “in” the astral realm at all.
Plato and Aristotle taught that the stars were composed of a type of matter different from the four earthly elements – a fifth, ethereal element or quintessence. In the “astral mysticism” of the classical world the human psyche was composed of the same material, thus accounting for the influence of the stars upon human affairs.
Such doctrines were commonplace in mystery-schools and Hermetic and gnostic sects throughout the Roman Empire and influenced the early Christian church. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians contains a reference to the astral plane or astral projection: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.”
Astral Projection is an Israeli electronic musical group, producing psychedelic trance and Goa trance music. Astral Projection’s most well known tracks include hits such as “Kabalah”, “People Can Fly”, “Mahadeva” and “Dancing Galaxy”.