Astral travel is the ability to visit other and distant locations following an Astral Projection. Astral travel can take place on the earth plane, the Astral Plane, and other planes of existence. Astral travel is a skill to be mastered in Magic. Astral travel is a term sometimes used interchangeably with astral projection.
Systematic experimentation in astral travel began in the 19th century. Yram, born Marcel Louis Forhan (1884– 1917), was a Frenchman who believed everyone capable of astral travel in a variety of bodies of various densities and dimensions, which he recorded in his book, Practical Astral Travel. Yram paid astral visits to a woman whom he later married; the two traveled astrally together and experienced ecstatic astral sex.
Sylvan Muldoon, an American, researched astral travel from 1915 to 1950 as a result of his spontaneous experiences beginning at age 12. Muldoon was a sickly youth who spent a good deal of time in bed. As his health improved, his astral travel became less frequent. Muldoon traveled about in his astral body. He remained on the earth plane. Muldoon believed that dreams of falling and flying corresponded to movements during astral travel.
Like Muldoon, Englishman Oliver Fox, born Hugh G. Callway in 1885, was a sickly child. However, he did not experience astral travel until adulthood when he succeeded in inducing it with lucid dreaming. He experimented between 1902 and 1938. Fox’s “Dream of Knowledge” was an effort to remain awake mentally while sleeping physically. He published his account in 1920 in the English Occult Review; it was later published as a book, Astral Projection.
Fox viewed his lucid dreamworld as comparable to the astral plane described in Theosophy. He experienced false awakenings, or waking up in the dream thinking that he was really awake; telepathy with others; religious visions, such as the figure of Christ (which he decided was a thought -form); and precognition (he viewed a test prior to his taking it and correctly saw two questions that would be asked). Fox initially believed that the dream state was essential to have his astral experiences. Eventually he discovered that he could project himself out-of-body without going to sleep but by staying in the hypnagogic state, a drowsy state that marks descent into sleep, which is often filled with fleeting imagery and voices.
Englishman J. H. M. Whiteman claimed to have more than 2,000 episodes of astral travel between 1931 and 1953, which he described in The Mystical Life (1961). He had his first experience at age 12 in 1919 without realizing what had happened. Whiteman considered his astral travels as mystical experiences. He sometimes found himself in the form of a child or a female.
In 1958, an American radio and television executive named Robert A. Monroe began to travel astrally spontaneously while relaxed and near sleep. Monroe had incredible experiences not limited to the earth plane but to realms in which he visited the afterlife transition plane. He had contact with discarnate humans and a variety of nonhuman beings. Like Fox, he conducted his own research, which eventually led to several books and the establishment of the Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. Monroe began to work with inducement techniques using guided meditation and sound.
Monroe’s initial experiences began when he would lie down to go to sleep. Before he reached sleep—when he was in the hypnagogic stage—he would experience a buzzing and a vibrating and feel himself lift out of his body. Like an explorer touching the shores of an unknown land, Monroe explored and mapped this state of being.
He described an astonishing range of experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, in which he encountered: other intelligences, some of whom provided assistance; Demonic or subhuman entities and Thoughtforms who attacked him; an energy presence of overwhelming magnitude (he does not say whether or not it was “God”); the astral bodies of other humans; sexual experiences on the astral level which produced intense shocks by a seeming interfl ow of electrons (comparable to Yram’s experience). He occasionally had difficulty reentering his body, and on one occasion entered a corpse by mistake.
Monroe identified various levels of reality:
• Locale I is the here-and-now earth plane, people and places in the physical world.
• Locale II is the infinite astral plane, the place where dreams occur and which incorporates our ideas of heaven and hell. Many of the places in this level seem familiar, he said, for they are the creations of consciousness and have been mapped and visited by countless souls. Here are the dead as well as nonhuman entities, many of whom are intelligent and can communicate. The lower reaches are closest to Earth and are populated by unpleasant, Demonic entities obsessed with emotional and sexual gratification.
• Locale III transcends time and space and appears to be a parallel universe located on the other side of a hole in the space-time continuum. According to Monroe, there are yet unidentified, higher realms beyond our ability to comprehend.
Monroe observed what many others have before him: that the relaxed state of presleep, the hypnagogic state, is an ideal medium for astral traveling. The key is developing the ability to hold onto lucidity, or awareness, instead of falling asleep. He called this “mind awake body asleep.” Monroe later patented a soundwave system called Hemi-Sync (for hemispheric synchronization), which balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain and which is used in the Monroe training systems. While a bodily vibration seemed to be intrinsic to Monroe’s own experiences, it does not occur to everyone. Monroe also found that heightened sexual energy often facilitated his ability to astral travel. Monroe noted that fear is the biggest barrier to being able to astral travel: fear of what might happen, fear of death, fear of not being able to reenter the body. Although Monroe did have some experiences with unpleasant entities and a few episodes of difficulty getting back into his body, he believed that overall the astral travel posed no real hazards.
- Crookall, Robert. Out-of-the-Body Experiences: A Fourth Analysis. New York: University Books, 1970.
- Fox, Oliver. Astral Projection: A Record of Out-of-the-Body Experiences. Secaucus, N.J.: The Citadel Press, 1962.
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Dreamwork for the Soul. New York: Berkley Books, 1998.
- King, Francis (ed.). Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn. Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, 1997.
- Monroe, Robert A. Journeys Out of the Body. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.
- Muldoon, Sylvan, and Hereward Carrington. The Projection of the Astral Body. London: Rider, 1929.