[Edit (Nov. 2017) : While I still believe that this essay has merit and is worth reading, the practical model described in this essay is far too simplistic. I am working on a new version of this essay in conjunction with a presentation on a dramatically more elaborate model of the various “worlds” of the Universe-Mind. At a minimum, it will clarify the mechanics of the experience described at the end of this essay and hopefully eliminate any further ambiguity regarding the nature of astral projection experiences.]

The first issue to be ironed out when discussing the topic of astral projection is: What exactly is meant by the term astral projection? How does astral projection relate to out-of-body experiences or just really good visualization? For the purposes of this essay, astral projection will be taken as synonymous with the out-of-body experience. Most things viewed in the astral plane have a direct counterpart in the physical which you could potentially travel to and verify in the waking state. The difference between being somewhere in the astral and being somewhere physically is that the astral may contain things which do not have physical counterparts. Emotions certainly exist in the physical, since their influence can be perceived and even measured, but in the astral, they can manifest as physical things. This is where things get tricky.

But first, let’s take a moment to better define the difference between the physical world and the astral world. The astral world is like an overlay on top of the physical. Things exist in the physical because they first became manifest in the astral. Therefore, everything in the physical has an astral counterpart. Usually, the astral counterpart looks no different from the physical. For example, if you project into your living room from your bedroom, everything in the living room should appear exactly as it does in the physical realm.

The only caveat is that certain items may appear differently if they have absorbed a large amount of energy. This can happen to items over a long period of time in the possession of certain people or through deliberate magical charging. Once a person is adept at astral projection, this can even by a way to verify that an item is charged as intended. Also note that a charged item may even take on a different form in the astral. For example, a twelve-inch charged wand may appear as a five foot long ancient twisted staff. For that matter, it may even be on fire.

So now two points of difference have been noted between the physical and the astral: emotions can manifest as visually-perceptible items and charged items may have a distorted appearance. Now, let’s focus on a couple of methods for achieving astral projection before revisiting the former point in more detail. I have had success with the traditional form-the-doppelganger-and-transfer-consciousness-to-it method, but it has been elaborated repeatedly in several books, so instead this essay will only cover novel methods of astral projection which I have developed and have had success with.

Many people seem to think that astral projection is nothing more than a very well-constructed visualization. They think that if you close your eyes and imagine a field of grass and then put yourself there, you are astral projecting. Not quite. While this is a good exercise in mental discipline and good foundation on which to begin astral work, it is not the work itself. However, there is a way to bridge the gap. One thing which may occur after prolonged practice of this sort is that the scene may seem to take on a will of its own. Items may come into view which were not consciously created. People may even appear and hold conversations with you and tell you things you didn’t know before. Again, this can be a rewarding practice and certainly deserves its own essay, though it is still not astral projection. The reason is that what you are seeing is completely self-contained within your own mind. It has no physical counterpart and is thus lopsided from the perspective of maintaining a balance of internal and external forces.

However, one thing which will bridge the gap is to envision a magic mirror. Through that mirror you can see any part of the world you wish. Assuming the visualization is concrete enough, any desired place will appear in the mirror as a bird’s eye view. As an alternate to a mirror, a well full of water could be used also. The visualization in the mirror should be at about 5,000 – 10,000 elevation, so it should appear more like a map than as a distinct scene. It may also be possible to get it to work by seeing the destination at ground level, but this has not been the case in my experience. Once the desired place is present in the mirror, step through and fall. If you’ve ever skydived, you know how it should feel. If you haven’t this may be more difficult for you. Your heart should leap into your throat and you should fall. When you see the ground rushing closer, it should be easy to “lose consciousness” just before you hit the ground. At this point, two things may happen. Either you will open your eyes and see that you did not die and you are where you wanted to be or your alarm clock will go off and you’ll have to get up and get ready for work. If you managed to experience the former event, you are now astral projecting.

Another method is what I call “Erotocomotose Projection”. This very Thelemic-sounding method requires at least two participants. The person desiring astral should be somewhat tired at the beginning of the practice. The traveler is then sexually stimulated by a second person for a sufficiently long period of time until a satisfying climax is achieved. It is strongly recommended that both parties be familiar with each other sexually and in good rapport. Once this occurs, the traveler should relax until they begin to fall asleep. At this time the other person should begin the stimulation again. This cycle is to be maintained until the traveler achieves an uncomfortable irritated state. They may begin to itch or feel like they have to get up and move around because they now find it impossible to stay still. When this happens, all stimulation should cease and the traveler must fight through the desire to move and instead achieve sleep. It is in this abnormal state, that an unwilled projection experience is most likely. This situation is considered an unwilled projection because there is no specific indication of a willed destination. This may be desirable because the result may prove to be useful than if the destination were consciously chosen.

Once astral projection is achieved, the first most logical thing to do is center yourself. Realize what is going on and also realize that it’s real. After that, explore the properties of this new realm and this new body. You cannot take your physical body with you into the astral, as such your consciousness now inhabits the astral counterpart of your physical body. Glimpses of this body can be seen by people who are able to see “auras”. What is actually happening is that the aura reader is half-projecting and seeing your astral self juxtaposed on your physical self. Once you are able to project at will, you will also discover you have the ability to see auras with ease.

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the astral body does not behave like the physical body. Instead, the properties of things you see are heavily influenced by your attitude about and preconceptions toward them. For example, a wall is solid if you think it is. If you want the wall to be solid, you can run full-tilt into it and knock yourself down. On the other hand, if you want the wall to be passable, you will pass right through it. Also, don’t hesitate to look at yourself. Mirrors aren’t likely to work but you can look at your hands and look down at your body. Note anything that looks abnormal.

The next thing you’ll probably want to do is determine or verify your location. Walk around and look for landmarks or other distinguishing characteristics which will help to pinpoint where you are and make note of it. Once that’s done, make note of any physical forms around you which do not look right or are out of place. If you can visit this place in the physical, make note of your impressions when in contact with the items that appeared abnormal when viewed astrally. As a side note, you may discover that it is impossible to read in the astral. I have failed at every attempt to read anything more than a couple of words.

Now that you’ve laid a foundation for what’s going on and have your awareness at a good level, see if there are any other astrally-aware entities in the area. Rumor has that people particularly skilled in astral projection can sense movement in the astral plane and will travel to that location to check it out. If this happens, one or two things may occur. They may remain aloof and you will only detect their presence in a subtle way (i.e. you may feel as if you’re being watched). Alternately, they may walk up to you, introduce themselves, and offer their hand. Also, you may notice strange shadowy forms moving about without acknowledging your presence. These are regular people. They are awake and moving around but are almost oblivious to astral component of their existence. Interacting with them is not recommended.

Up to now, we’ve dealt with the more pleasant aspects of the astral plane. However, this world being a projection of it, it is reasonable that there is unpleasantness as well. As with the rest of this essay, I can only speak about what I’ve experienced. Other peoples’ experiences may vary and I do not claim that this is an exhaustive list of all possibilities. With that disclaimer in place, I’ll attempt to describe some of the more unpleasant things I’ve witnessed and how to deal with them.

As mentioned earlier, emotions manifest as objects on the astral plane. If you’ve taken calculus, it may be clearer to understand the astral plane as the integral of the physical. In that same way, the physical plane is the derivative of the astral. One thing I cannot piece together is precisely why emotions manifest the way they do or in the astral location they do. I doubt it has anything to do with consciousness of the emotion, since I’ve had experiences with very subtle emotions which were not in the forefront of my thought on the days preceding the projection. Nevertheless, these things happen. Good emotions can manifest as easily as bad ones, yet for some reason, it’s the bad ones that seem to take precedence. Take for instance the demon mentioned in my essay, “The Dog-Faced Demon”. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, it seems that the demon represented certain fears that I had at the time. It was a barrier to accomplishment. It manifested in the astral in the same way that a poet may have described the effect in metaphor. This also leads one to ponder the real importance of metaphor. But the most important part about the experience was how I reacted. These times are, hopefully, rare. So the decisions you make can have deep-rooted effects on your waking consciousness. This is why it’s important to establish a clear, confident mindset in relation to the subject. It is only in this way that you will have the confidence, courage, and control to banish the entity from your presence. Again, from my experience, I have never encountered anything that didn’t flee at the moment I willed then to be banished, so I will not presume to give any instruction on what to do if your orders are not obeyed. With luck, I will never be able to provide such counsel.

Another possibility is encountering a malicious sentient being on the astral plane. This is different from an emotion, because emotions are not sentient. Sentient beings are, have been, or could potentially be human. With the aid of your Holy Guardian Angel (which dwells in yet a higher plane) you have nothing to fear. Without that, it is conceivable that a sentient being could harm you, though I cannot postulate to what extent. If you have not established a link with your Angel, the next best thing to do is the draw a sacred banishing symbol in front of you. This is generally a pentagram for those of us in the western world. It should act as a barrier, but the effectiveness will be largely dependent on your abilities as a magician and the competence of your attacker. If you’re obviously in over your head, try to wake up. The being may still exert influence on you in a waking state, but it will not be nearly as strong as when you are fully in the astral together.

[Editor’s Note: Refactor the following story into a separate essay.]

This brings up another possibility, getting stuck. There may also come a time when you become so solid in the astral, that it is not clear how to wake or return to your body at will. This happened to me when I found myself tormented by an unseen force. During this particular experience, it felt as if the astral realm were cracking up. Things were still as solid as they ever were, but impossible things started happening. For instance, the first thing I noticed was that the TV armoire in the living room, which initially appeared exactly as it really existed, had a delicate pattern burned into it when a saw it the second time. It is not reasonable to imagine that something happened to the armoire during that time since no-body was in the room. I remember sensing that something odd was going on. Then I also started noticing other small things changing until it got to a point that a saw two different views when I looked out the window. I had a companion with me that I’d just met in the astral and I told her that something strange was going on with me and that she should leave. She looked confused, but complied with the request. Then I decided that I should wake up. I tried closing and opening my eyes and willing myself into my body with no luck. I was still there. I tried pinching myself and various other little things with no luck. I was stuck. The house I was in was one story, but when I looked out a window this time, I was on at least the third floor of what seemed to be a stone castle. Realizing that this was just a projection and not seeing any other options, I lept from the window. The feeling of falling was so vivid I thought for a moment, “What if I’m wrong!?” But I was not wrong and I returned to my body just before impact.

[Editor’s Note: The following paragraph is inaccurate.]

This experience leaves a lot of unanswered questions about astral travel. How did a normal projection go so wrong? This isn’t intended to be the thesis statement of this essay, just a sideline issue to ponder. The most likely scenario seems to be that I was somehow slipping back into a normal dream state. The cause can most certainly be traced to a lack of mental discipline and focus on my part which resulted in a strange hybrid-type experience. Nothing happened to the astral plane, as evidenced by my friend’s confusion over my statement. The only thing that went wrong was my perception of it.

I hope this has helped to clear up some preconceptions/misconceptions regarding what astral travel is and how to interact with various events. It is not inclusive and is always subject to error based on my interpretation of events. I wish great joy and success on all your journeys. Perhaps we’ll meet one day sitting by a babbling brook beneath on old oak tree.