To understand why astral projection, was developed it’s necessary to know the history of this practice. When you know how astral projection developed historically, you will understand why mystics practice it. We will take a brief look at how this practice developed, and what we can learn from it.
Astral projection is an ancient technique that you find in virtually every culture. These cultures have all added their interpretations, but they all share a common theme: the existence of a transcendent world that can be visited in a spiritual body.
Shamans of the ancient world
The indigenous Australians are among those ancient cultures that developed the visionary arts. Their beliefs stretch back over 40 000 years to the last Ice Age and remain largely intact. This fascinating spiritual tradition places the dream world at the center of existence. The Dreaming is where everything is dreamed into existence. During pre-history, the Dreamtime existed. During this primeval time, the spirit ancestors of humanity dreamed our world into existence.
The Dreaming is a world of dreams and visions that exists alongside our own. Through deliberate dreaming techniques, this world can be visited. Furthermore, the wise person who can enter the Dreaming also participates in the Dreamtime.
In virtually all shamanic traditions, the dream world stands at the center of their spirituality. The dream world is a world of spirits that create and shape the world. This the reason why astral projection became important Astral projection, lucid dreaming and visions states were the means to enter this world.
The Norse saw the universe as a massive living organism. This organism, the world-tree Yggdrasil, sustained all of existence. Norse cosmology divided the universe into nine worlds that exist in the branches, trunks, and roots of Yggdrasil.
The goddess Freya taught the practice of seidhr. This is the use of trance states to travel between the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil. Freya’s priestesses the volvas used seidhr to travel the Nine Worlds to practice magick and healing. This is why astral projection was so extensively used. Freya also taught seidhr to the god Odin who sacrificed himself on Yggdrasil. This gave him wisdom and knowledge of the sacred runes.
In Judeo-Christianity prophetic dreams were seen as sent by god. Both the Old and New Testament are filled with dreams and visions of all kinds. From the angelic visions of the prophet Ezekiel to the visions of St. Paul in the book of Revelation.
The Hebrew people, based on the powerful visions and spiritual visitations of their prophets, created the cosmological system of the Kabbalah. This system describes the universe as consisting of 10 worlds called the sephiroth. Each sephirah is an emanation of God. These 10 emanations ultimately form the lowest one, which is our world. The 10 sephiroth together form the Tree of Life.
Christianity also had its visionaries that were taken away in the spirit by God or his angels. In the book of Acts, these types of dreams and visions were gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit to the early Christians. The apostle Paul likewise was converted by powerful spiritual visions that took him outside his body.
Astral projection in Medieval Europe
The magicians of the Middle Ages and Renaissance likewise practiced this art. Although mostly Christian, these scholars were knowledgeable in the Cabala and Graeco-Roman mysticism. The Graeco-Roman mystical philosophies of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism formed the foundation of Renaissance occultism.
The pagan sorcerers during this period in Europe also practiced astral projection. They include sensory deprivation techniques such as the witches’ cradle or the use of special ointments. The ‘flying ointments’ were made of highly toxic plants that induced a powerful trance when rubbed on the skin. A medieval grimoire from the period titled The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage describes this practice.
Out-of-body experiences in Eastern mysticism
In Tibetan Buddhism, we find an interesting reinterpretation of the shamanic world view. In Tibet an intermingling of Buddhism, yoga, and Tibetan shamanism took place. This led to the rise of the famous dream yoga techniques of Tibetan Buddhism. Why astral projection then? To teach the individual about the mind’s connection to reality.
At the more advanced levels of dream yoga the yogi would seek to create a spiritual body from prana; the universal life force. Once the yogi is successful, they can project their consciousness beyond their physical body into higher spiritual worlds. By inducing a lucid dream or out of body experience, the dream yogi begins to understand that the mind is reality. But the ultimate purpose of dream yoga was to prepare the yogi for death. By understanding and experiencing the nature of death, the yogi attains nirvana in the hereafter.
These techniques originated from India’s yogic practices. India’s extremely rich and well-developed spiritual traditions describe the existence of seven worlds called the lokas. These different areas of the cosmos connect o seven energy centers in the body called chakras. By stimulating the flow of prana into these centers the yogi can project their consciousness into the spiritual worlds connected to them. Depending on their training, skill, and spiritual maturity, the yogi will seek to enter each world. The highest world connects to the sahasrara chakra on the crown of the head. The reason why astral projection is used is to reach this loka. This results in samadhi, or mystical enlightenment.
The practices of Taoist alchemy had similar aims. Through the practice of qigong, the Taoist would seek to mobilize the flow of chi in the body. Chi is the same as the Indian and Tibetan concept of prana. It is the life force within reality that animates existence and brings it to life.
Through special techniques, they sensed chi in the body. Then they directed it to flow through special energy channels in the body; the most famous being the microcosmic orbit. When chi flows up the back of the body and then down the front in a continuous motion, it creates a special energy body. They would then project it beyond the physical world into the spiritual world.
Astral projection research in the 19th and 20th Century
In the 19th Century, interest in occultism and mysticism would see the introduction of Eastern spiritual systems in the Western world. The followers of Theosophy of the late 19th Century would coin the term for projecting consciousness astral projection and the practice began to gain popularity. The Victorian Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn probably the most influential modern school of the Western mystical tradition, actively used it.
The Golden Dawn’s method of astral projection involved mentally stepping through special symbols. If the practitioner’s skill is sufficient, they would enter a region of the spiritual world connected to the symbol they used. They also used an elaborate set of symbols, incenses, gemstones, and colors. The reason why astral projection was so important, was its use as an occult tool. By using this tool, occultists could more easily connect to different spiritual worlds and entities.
In 1929 Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington published The Projection of the Astral Body based on Muldoon’s spontaneous experiences. This book was a watershed moment for the study of astral projection and had a massive influence on this area of study. Muldoon sought to refine our understanding of astral projection by attempting to describe the nature of astral projection as well as the spiritual vehicle for out-of-body experiences. Other authors would follow, most notably Oliver Fox who published Astral Projection: A Record of Out-of-the-Body Experiences in 1939.
Towards the latter half of the 20th Century, astral projection started to enter the public imagination through the work of Robert Monroe. He popularized the term out-of-body experience, and his most famous work Journeys out of the Body, published in 1971. Many considered it an exceptional work in this field. Monroe’s technique was one of the breakthroughs in modern OBE research. Although the technique isn’t described fully, it involves using the state between wakefulness and sleep to initiate an OBE.
In the 1990’s we saw the emergence of highly influential authors who advanced the study of astral projection enormously. These include the works of Dr. Stephen Laberge, William Buhlman, and Robert Bruce.
Laberge and Buhlman rediscovered an extremely powerful method for inducing lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences by splitting your sleep cycle. This method called the ‘wake and back to bed’ technique by Laberge is among the most potent available. LaBerge also discovered the presence of REM (or Rapid Eye Movement) in the majority of out of body experiences. REM sleep is the key ingredient for dreaming and most OBEs.
Robert Bruce would reintroduce the practice of stimulating the astral body to help trigger out-of-body experiences. This is strongly reminiscent of the prana stimulation practices of Tibetan dream yogis. It’s also among the easiest techniques for beginners to learn. I discuss it in this article.
Should I practice astral projection?
The reasons to practice astral projection are many. However, they all serve the same purpose. That’s to contact a spiritual worlds. Why astral projection is important is the fact that it dramatically opens up those worlds.
When you learn to interact with that world, you’re walking in the footsteps of shamans, mystics, and sorcerers going back thousands of years. Most spiritual systems use astral projection in one form or another. This means that virtually every mystical state is potentially possible. It’s astral projection’s sheer potency and flexibility that makes it so useful. If you wish to experience the spirituality of a system, then astral projection will give you access to it.
If you want to learn about shamanism, you can interact with the spirits they describe. Pathworking is a powerful option for your growth if you want to learn the Kabbalah. For occultists, spirit evocations become a great deal easier when they contact an entity through astral projection.
Mystic’s who wish to practice meditation can learn much from astral projection. Because you are entering the depths of your mind, meditation is more powerful. You can learn to meditate effectively in a remarkably short time due to the powerful transcendent states you achieve.
Astral projection also opens the unconscious mind. This means that you will be able to penetrate much deeper into yourself than any therapist or hypnotist. You can make tweaks and alterations to your mind to help you heal and improve yourself.
However, the best part of astral projection is the spiritual freedom and independence it gives you. You don’t need a guru or a special teacher to see the truth for yourself. But if you choose a teacher then you can use astral projection to test their teachings. The chances of you being fooled by false teachers shrink dramatically.