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Astral projection

This article is about the paranormal concept. For the

psychedelic trance musical band, see Astral Projection
(band). For physical travel to other stars, see Interstellar
Astral projection (or astral travel) is an interpreta-

hallucinogenic and hypnotic (including self-hypnotic)

means. There is no scientic evidence that there is
any measurable manifestation of a consciousness or soul
which is separate from neural activity, and there is no
scientic evidence for the contention that one can consciously leave the body and make observations. Attempts
to verify that such has occurred have consistently failed
in spite of the variety of pseudoscientic claims to the
contrary.* [6]* [7]* [8]

1 Accounts
1.1 Western
According to classical, medieval and 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.* [9]* [10]

The Separation of the Spirit Bodyfrom The Secret of the

Golden Flower, a Chinese handbook on alchemy and meditation

The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that
deal with astral phenomena. In the neo-platonism of
Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm (
small world) of the universe (the macrocosm orgreat
world). The rational akin to the great Soul of
the Worldwhilethe material universe, like the body, is
made as a faded image of the Intelligible. Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a worldview called emanationism; from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower
phase, or that of Nature - the material universe.* [11]

tion of an out-of-body experience (OBE) that assumes the

existence of an "astral body" separate from the physical
body and capable of travelling outside it.* [1] Astral projection or travel denotes the astral body leaving the
physical body to travel in an astral plane. The idea of
astral travel is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife* [2] in which the consciousness' or
soul's journey or ascentis described in such terms as
an... out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle
body (or dreambody or astral body) into higher realms.
[3] It is frequently reported in association with dreams,
and forms of meditation.* [4]* [5]

Often these bodies and their planes of existence are depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres,
with a separate body traversing each realm.* [12] The
idea of the astral gured prominently in the work of the
nineteenth-century French occultist Eliphas Levi, whence
it was adopted and developed further by Theosophy, and
used afterwards by other esoteric movements.

1.2 Bible

Patients have reported feelings similar to the de- Some have claimed that the Bible contains mentions of
scriptions of astral projection induced through various astral projection.


Carrington, Muldoon, Peterson, and Williams claim that

the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means
of a psychic silver cord.* [13]* [14] The nal chapter of
the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes is often cited in this respect: Before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden
bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern.* [15] Scherman, however, contends that the context points to this being merely a metaphor, comparing the body to a machine,
with the silver cord referring to the spine.* [16]
Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians is more generally
agreed to refer to the astral planes;* [17] I know a man
in Christ, fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I know
not, or out of the body I know not, God knows) such a one
caught up to the third heaven...* [18] This statement gave
rise to the Visio Pauli, a tract that oers a vision of heaven
and hell, a forerunner of visions attributed to Adomnan
and Tnugdalus as well as of Dante's Divine Comedy.



Many sects and oshoots belonging to Islamic mysticism

interpret Muhammad's night ascent the Isra and Mi'raj
to be an out of body experience through nonphysical
environments,* [19]* [20] unlike the Sunni and Shia Muslims. In view of the references from the Qur'an and Hadith, the Sunni and Shia Muslims reject this saying the
Isra and Mi'raj, the night journey mentioned in the
Qur'an and Hadith was physical yet spiritual. He was
taken to the Masjid Al Aqsa, where he performed prayer
leading all previous prophets and then taken to the heavens in a journey. The mystics claim Muhammad was
transported to Jerusalem and onward to seven heavens,
even thoughthe apostle's body remained where it was.


Ancient Egypt

Similar concepts of soul travel appear in various other religious traditions, for example ancient Egyptian teachings
present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the
physical body in the ka, or subtle body.* [22]



Taoist alchemical practice involves creation of an energy

body by breathing meditations, drawing energy into a
'pearl' that is thencirculated.* [23] "Xiangzi ... with a
drum as his pillow fell fast asleep, snoring and motionless.
His primordial spirit, however, went straight into the banquet room and said,My lords, here I am again.... When
Tuizhi walked ... with the ocials to take a look, there really was a Daoist sleeping on the ground and snoring like
thunder. Yet inside, in the side room, there was another
Daoist beating a sher drum and singing Daoist songs.

The ocials all said, Although there are two dierent

people, their faces and clothes are exactly alike. Clearly
he is a divine immortal who can divide his body and appear in several places at once. ...... At that moment, the
Daoist in the side room came walking out, and the Daoist
sleeping on the ground woke up. The two merged into
one.* [24]

1.6 India
Similar ideas such as the Lin'ga S'ari-ra are found in
ancient Hindu scriptures such as the YogaVashishtaMaharamayana of Valmiki.* [22] Modern Indians who
have vouched for astral projection include Paramahansa
Yogananda who witnessed Swami Pranabananda doing
a miracle through a possible astral projection* [25] and
Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) who practiced it himself.* [26]
The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba described one's
use of astral projection:
In the advancing stages leading to the beginning of the path, the aspirant becomes spiritually prepared for being entrusted with free
use of the forces of the inner world of the astral
bodies. He may then undertake astral journeys
in his astral body, leaving the physical body
in sleep or wakefulness. The astral journeys
that are taken unconsciously are much less important than those undertaken with full consciousness and as a result of deliberate volition. This implies conscious use of the astral
body. Conscious separation of the astral body
from the outer vehicle of the gross body has
its own value in making the soul feel its distinction from the gross body and in arriving
at fuller control of the gross body. One can,
at will, put on and take o the external gross
body as if it were a cloak, and use the astral
body for experiencing the inner world of the astral and for undertaking journeys through it, if
and when necessary....The ability to undertake
astral journeys therefore involves considerable
expansion of one s scope for experience. It
brings opportunities for promoting one s own
spiritual advancement, which begins with the
involution of consciousness.* [27]
The Yogic tradition is an elaborate system of meditation
and astral projection and most other Chino-Tibetan systems are derived therefrom through Buddhist channels.
Astral projection is one of the Siddhis considered achievable by yoga practitioners through self-disciplined practice. In Mahabharat Acharya Drona leaves his physical
body to check whether his son was dead or not



ying deep down in a river to get the help of other beings.* [34]

Astraland etheric

The expression astral projectioncame to be used in

two dierent ways. For the Golden Dawn* [35] and some
Theosophists* [36] it retained the classical and medieval
philosophers' meaning of journeying to other worlds,
heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal* [37] landscapes, but outside these circles the term
was increasingly applied to non-physical travel around the
physical world.* [38]

The 'ikiry' as illustrated by Toriyama Sekien.

In Japanese mythology, an ikiry (

) (also read
shry, seirei, or ikisudama) is a manifestation of the soul
of a living person separately from their body.* [28] Traditionally, if someone holds a sucient 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 ikiry are not malevolent.* [29]* [30]



In some Inuit groups, people with special capabilities are

said to travel to (mythological) remote places, and report
their experiences and things important to their fellows or
the entire community; how to stop bad luck in hunting,
cure a sick person etc.,* [31]* [32] things unavailable to
people with normal capabilities.* [33]



The yaskomo of the Waiwai is believed to be able to perform asoul ightthat can serve several functions such
as healing, ying to the sky to consult cosmological beings
(the moon or the brother of the moon) to get a name for a
new-born baby, ying to the cave of peccaries' mountains
to ask the father of peccaries for abundance of game or

Though this usage continues to be widespread, the term,

etheric travel, used by some later Theosophists, oers
a useful distinction. Some experients say they visit dierent times and/or places:* [39]etheric, then, is used to
represent the sense of beingout of the bodyin the physical world, whereasastralmay connote some alteration
in time-perception. Robert Monroe describes the former
type of projection asLocale Ior theHere-Now, involving people and places that actually exist:* [40] Robert
Bruce calls it theReal Time Zone(RTZ) and describes
it as the non-physical dimension-level closest to the physical.* [41] This etheric body is usually, though not always,
invisible but is often perceived by the experient as connected to the physical body during separation by asilver
cord. Some linkfallingdreams with projection.* [42]
According to Max Heindel, the etheric doubleserves
as a medium between the astral and physical realms. In
his system the ether, also called prana, is thevital 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 inthe astral realm at all.* [43]
Other experients may describe a domain that has no parallel to any known physical setting. Environments may be
populated or unpopulated, articial, natural or abstract,
and the experience may be beatic, horric or neutral.
A common Theosophical belief is that one may access a
compendium of mystical knowledge called the Akashic
records. In many accounts the experiencer correlates the
astral world with the world of dreams. Some even report
seeing other dreamers enacting dream scenarios unaware
of their wider environment.* [44]
The astral environment may also be divided into levels or
sub-planes by theorists, but there are many dierent views
in various traditions concerning the overall structure of
the astral planes: they may include heavens and hells and
other after-death spheres, transcendent environments or
other less-easily characterized states.* [40]* [42]* [44]


Notable practitioners

Emanuel Swedenborg was one of the rst practitioners to

write extensively about the out-of-body experience, in his
Spiritual Diary (174765). French philosopher and novelist Honor de Balzac's ctional workLouis Lambert
suggests he may have had some astral or out-of-body experience.* [45]
There are many twentieth century publications on astral projection,* [46] although only a few authors remain widely cited. These include Robert Monroe,* [47]
Oliver Fox,* [48] Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington,* [49] and Yram.* [50]
Robert Monroe's accounts of journeys to other realms
(19711994) popularized the term OBEand were
translated into a large number of languages. Though his
books themselves only placed secondary importance on
descriptions of method, Monroe also founded an institute dedicated to research, exploration and non-prot dissemination of auditory technology for assisting others in
achieving projection and related altered states of consciousness.

4 Scientic reception
There is no scientic evidence that astral projection as an
objective phenomenon exists, and pseudoscientic claims
to that eect are not accepted as reliable scientic evidence in the relevant elds of study.* [6]* [7]* [8]
There are cases of patients experiencing descriptions of
astral projection from brain stimulation treatments and
hallucinogenic drugs.* [8]
Robert Todd Carroll writes that the main evidence to support claims of astral travel is anecdotal and comesin the
form of testimonials of those who claim to have experienced being out of their bodies when they may have been
out of their minds.* [60] Subjects in parapsychological
experiments have attempted to project their astral bodies
to distant rooms and see what was happening. However,
such experiments have produced negative results.* [61]

According to Bob Bruce of the Queensland Skeptics Association, astral projection is just imagining, or a
dream state. Although parallel universes are mathematically possible,* [62] Bruce writes that the existence of an
astral plane is contrary to the limits of science.We know
how many possibilities there are for dimensions and we
know what the dimensions do. None of it correlates with
things like astral projection.Bruce attributes astral experiences
such asmeetingsalleged by practitioners to
Robert Bruce,* [51] William Buhlman,* [52] and Albert conrmation bias and coincidences.* [63]
Taylor* [53] have discussed their theories and ndings on
the syndicated show Coast to Coast AM several times. The psychologist Donovan Rawclie has written that asMichael Crichton gives lengthy and detailed explanations tral projection can be explained by delusion, hallucination
and experience of astral projection in his non-ction book and vivid dreams. [64]
Arthur W. Wiggins, writing in Quantum Leaps in the
The soul's ability to leave the body at will or while sleep- Wrong Direction: Where Real Science Ends...and Pseudoing and visit the various planes of heaven is also known science Begins, said that purported evidence of the abilas soul travel. The practice is taught in Surat Shabd ity to astral travel great distances and give descriptions
Yoga, where the experience is achieved mostly by med- of places visited is predominantly anecdotal. In 1978,
itation techniques and mantra repetition. All Sant Mat Ingo Swann provided a test of his alleged ability to asGurus widely spoke about this kind of out of body expe- tral travel to Jupiter and observe details of the planet.
Actual ndings and information were later compared to
rience, such as Kirpal Singh.* [54]
Swann's claimed observations. According to an evaluEckankar describes Soul Travel broadly as movement of ation by James Randi, Swann's accuracy was unconthe true, spiritual self (Soul) closer to the heart of God. vincing and unimpressivewith an overall score of 37
While the contemplative may perceive the experience percent. Wiggins considers astral travel an illusion, and
as travel, Soul itself is said not to move but to come looks to neuroanatomy, human belief, imagination and
into an agreement with xed states and conditions that prior knowledge to provide prosaic explanations for those
already exist in some world of time and space.* [55] claiming to experience it.* [65]
American Harold Klemp, the current Spiritual Leader
of Eckankar* [56] practices and teaches Soul Travel, as
did his predecessors,* [57] through contemplative techniques known as the Spiritual Exercises of ECK (Divine 5 See also
Spirit).* [58]
In occult traditions, practices range from inducing trance
states to the mental construction of a second body, called
the Body of Light in Aleister Crowley's writings, through
visualization and controlled breathing, followed by the
transfer of consciousness to the secondary body by a mental act of will.* [59]

Ring-a-Ding Girl - ctional treatment of astral projection in popular media
Disembodied spirit


[1] It is also believed that theastral bodyis the soul leaving

the body and travelling through the spiritual realm,(astral
plane). Astral projection. (n.d.). Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7).
Retrieved June 21, 2008, from website

[19] Brent E. McNeely, The Miraj of Muhammad in an Ascension Typology, p3

[20] Buhlman, William,The Secret of the Soul, 2001, ISBN
978-0-06-251671-8, p111

[3] Dr. Roger J. Woolger, Beyond Death: Transition and the

Afterlife, accessed online June 2008 at the website of the
Royal College of Psychiatrists,

[21] Brown, Dennis; Morris, Stephen (2003). Religion and

Human Experience. A Student's Guide to A2 Religious Studies: for the AQA Specication. Rhinegold Eeligious Studies Study Guides. London, UK: Rhinegold.
p. 115. ISBN 978-1-904226-09-3. OCLC 257342107.
Retrieved 2012-01-10. The revelation of the Qur'an to
Muhammad [includes] his Night Journey, an out-of-body
experience where the prophet was miraculously taken to
Jerusalem on the back of a mythical beast....

[4] Sylvan Muldoon, Hereward Carrington. (1929). Projection of the Astral Body. Rider and Company. ISBN 07661-4604-9

[22] Melton, J. G. (1996). Out-of-the-body Travel. In Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Thomson Gale.
ISBN 978-0-8103-9487-2.

[5] Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones. (1989). Anomalistic

Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Psychology
Press. ISBN 0-8058-0508-7

[23] Chia, Mantak (2007) [1989]. Fusion of the Five Elements.

Destiny Books. pp. 89+. ISBN 1-59477-103-0.

[2] Suki Miller, After Death: How People around the World
Map the Journey after Death (1995)

[6] Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. pp. 103-106. ISBN 9781573929790
[7] Brian Regal. (2009). Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia. Greenwood. p. 29. ISBN 978-1591020868
Other than anecdotal eyewitness accounts, there is no evidence of the ability to astral project, the existence of other
planes, or of the Akashic Record.

[24] Erzeng, Yang (2007). The Story of Han Xiangzi. University of Washington Press. pp. 207209. ISBN 978-0295-98690-6.
[26] Osho, The Transmission of the Lamp, Chapter 3, Rebel
[27] Baba: 90, 91.

[8] Robert L. Park. (2008). Superstition: Belief in the Age of

Science. Princeton University Press. pp. 90-91. ISBN
[9] Dodds, E.R. Proclus: The Elements of Theology. A revised text with translation, introduction, and commentary,
2nd edition 1963, Appendix.
[10] Pagel, Walter (1967). William Harvey's Biological Ideas.
Karger Publishers. pp. 147148. ISBN 3-8055-0962-6.
[11] John Gregory, The Neoplatonists, Kyle Cathie 1991

[28] Clarke, Peter Bernard (2000). Japanese new religions: in

global perspective, Volume 1999 (annotated ed.). Routledge. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-7007-1185-7.
[29] Ramesh Chopra Academic Dictionary Of Mythology 2005,
p. 144
[30] Patrick Drazen A Gathering of Spirits: Japan's Ghost Story
Tradition: from Folklore and Kabuki to Anime and Manga
2011, p. 131
[31] Kleivan & Sonne 1985: 78, 12, 2324,26, 2729, 30, 31

[12] Besant, Annie Wood (1897). The Ancient Wisdom: An

Outline of Theosophical Teachings. Theosophical publishing society. ISBN 0-524-02712-9.

[32] Merkur 1985: 46

[13] Projection of the Astral Body by Carrington and Muldoon

[34] Fock 1963: 16

[14] Out of Body Experiences: How to have them and what to

expect by Robert Peterson (chapters 5, 17, 22)

[35] Chic Cicero, Chic C, Sandra Tabatha Cicero The Essential Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003.

[15] Ecclesiastes 12:6


ASTRAL PHENOMENA, The Theosophical Publishing
House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.; Adyar, Chennai, India, 1927, reprinted in 1954 and
1965, page 7, online June 2008 at

[16] Rabbi Nosson Scherman, ed. (2011). The ArtScroll English Tanach. ArtScroll Series (First ed.). Brooklyn, New
York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. p. 1150. ISBN 14226-1065-9.
[17] Hankins, James. Ficino, Avicenna and the Occult Powers
of the Rational Soul.
[18] 2 Corinthians 12:2

[33] Hoppl 1975: 228

[37] Henri Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Susm of Ibn

Arabi, tr. Ralph Mannheim, Bollingen XCI, Princeton
U.P., 1969


[38] e.g. William Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy 2nd Ed.

TPH, 1893, Chapter 5, book online June 2008 at http:

[63] Frazer, Peter (September 30, 2010). Astral projection?

In your dreams, say sceptics. Brisbane Times. Retrieved
24 December 2011.

[39] Astral-Projections.comSecret Guide To Instant Astral


[64] Donovan Rawclie. (1988). Occult and Supernatural phenomena. Dover Publications. p. 123

[40] Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.
[41] Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999. p 25-27, 30-31
[42] Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7
[43] Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter IV, The
Constitution of Man: Vital Body - Desire Body - Mind),
1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3
[44] Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
[45] Frederick Lawton Balzac The Echo Library, 2007, p. 18
[46] Substantial bibliography of general OBE and astral projection literature
[47] A biography of Robert Monroe by Susan Blackmore
[48] A biography of Oliver Fox by Susan Blackmore
[49] A biography of Sylvan Muldoon by Susan Blackmore
[50] A biography of Yram by Susan Blackmore

[65] Charles M. Wynn; Arthur W. Wiggins; Sidney Harris

(2001). Quantum leaps in the wrong direction: where real
science ends-- and pseudoscience begins. Joseph Henry
Press. pp. 95. ISBN 978-0-309-07309-7. Retrieved
24 December 2011.

Baba, Meher (1967). Discourses. Vol. II. San Francisco: Susm Reoriented. ISBN 1-880619-09-1.
Fock, Niels (1963). Waiwai. Religion and society
of an Amazonian tribe. Nationalmuseets skrifter,
Etnogrask Rkke (Ethnographical series), VIII.
Copenhagen: The National Museum of Denmark.
Hoppl, Mihly (1975).
Az urli npek
hiedelemvilga s a samanizmus. In Hajd, Pter.
Urli npek. Nyelvrokonaink kultrja s hagyomnyai (in Hungarian). Budapest: Corvina Kiad. pp. 211233. ISBN 963-13-0900-2. The title
means: Uralic peoples / Culture and traditions of
our linguistic relatives; the chapter means The
belief system of Uralic peoples and the shamanism

[51] Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring Robert Bruce

[52] Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring William
[53] Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring Albert Taylor
[54] See chapter V of the book Crown of Life by Kirpal Singh
available online at
[59] Greer, John (1967). Astral Projection. In The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 156718-336-0.
[60] Robert Todd Carroll (31 July 2003). The skeptic's dictionary: a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. John Wiley and Sons. pp.
33. ISBN 978-0-471-27242-7. Retrieved 24 December
[61] Blackmore, Susan (1991). Near-Death Experiences: In
or out of the body?". Skeptical Inquirer 1991, 16, 34-45.
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
[62] Parallel universe proof boosts time travel hopes, Daily

Hoppl, Mihly (2005). Smnok Eurzsiban (in

Hungarian). Budapest: Akadmiai Kiad. ISBN
963-05-8295-3. The title meansShamans in Eurasia, the book is written in Hungarian, but it is published also in German, Estonian and Finnish. Site
of publisher with short description on the book (in
Kleivan, Inge; B. Sonne (1985). Eskimos: Greenland and Canada. Iconography of religions, section
VIII, Arctic Peoples, fascicle 2. Leiden, The
Netherlands: Institute of Religious Iconography
State University Groningen. E.J. Brill. ISBN 9004-07160-1.
Merkur, Daniel (1985). Becoming Half Hidden:
Shamanism and Initiation among the Inuit. : Acta
Universitatis Stockholmiensis Stockholm Studies
in Comparative Religion. Stockholm: Almqvist &
Wiksell. ISBN 91-22-00752-0.
Klemp, Harold (2003). Past Lives, Dreams, and
Soul Travel. Eckankar. Minneapolis, MN. [Eckankar Web site:]: Eckankar. ISBN 1-57043-182-5.
Roi, Alex. Astral Projection and Lucid Dreams,
[Web site=].

Further reading
Robert Bruce (1999) - Astral Dynamics: A New Approach to Out-of-Body Experiences. Hampton Roads
Publishing. ISBN 1-57174-143-7
Robert Todd Carroll (2003) - The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley &
Sons. ISBN 0-471-27242-6
Thomas Gilovich (1993) - How We Know What Isn't
So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday
Life. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-911706-2
Terence Hines (2003) - Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
Robert Monroe (1971) - Journeys Out of the Body
Doubleday. Reprinted (1989) Souvenir Press Ltd.
ISBN 0-385-00861-9
Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington (1929) Projection of the Astral Body. Rider and Company.
ISBN 0-7661-4604-9

External links
Astral Projection at the Skeptic's Dictionary


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