Let's start with some definitions. As Samuel Johnson famously said four hundred years ago, "Define your terms, Gentlemen, Define your terms!" This is an admonition also credited to Voltaire, "If you wish to converse with me, define your terms." (The obvious point being that unless we know what we're talking about, we could just irritate one another, waste everyone's time, or think we are in agreement or disagreement when the opposite may really be the case).
The problems are often the greatest when familiar words are used in a varying context even within an established subject area of our own particular interest or expertise. The title of this article contains the words "Astral Projection," "Growth," and "Empowerment." It's easy to assume—especially within a Metaphysical environment—that people will respond to a question about definitions for these words with, "Well, I know what that is."
"Astral Projection" is commonly defined as the movement of an astral body out of the physical body. "Growth" is usually defined as some kind of maturation—the growing "up" from a less developed state to more developed one. "Empowerment" seems to say that we gain some kind of power through a process of inner growth or transformation.
But does some kind of subtle body actually separate out of the physical body? Or, does it only seem that way because in the physical body we are accustomed to thinking in terms of a seemingly solid something in the three spatial dimensions of physical space? Sometimes, however, we do not use words in their familiar definitions, but rather as abstractions (like an "x" in an algebraic equation) in order to explore the unfamiliar with something borrowed from the familiar world.
Instead of thinking of a "body" as always a body, think about the following points before forming or accepting any conclusion or other definition regarding astral dimensions and space, and mental dimensions and space:
- What is a "body" but a vehicle for consciousness?
- The "vehicle" is composed of the substance of the particular level of manifestation being used, e.g. astral substance in the astral level.
- Perception on each level is conditioned by "rules" of manifestation for that level. The astral has its own rules governing "the organs" of astral perception. What you see is what you are! Conversely, in the physical level, what you see is what you get.
Just exploring these three aphorisms could lead you into some very interesting territory. Let's take that as a clue.
Before going further into the astral world, let's step down to the physical and review one of its most important rules: the convertibility of Energy into Matter and of Matter into Energy, and what we now know of the nature of physical objects being mostly made up of "empty" space*—their apparent solidity being an "illusion" to which we've become accustomed to accept as real, and have adjusted our perceptions accordingly. And we have learned through quantum physics that focused consciousness brings about change at the most basic sub-atomic, sub-cellular levels.
(*"Space," of course is never empty, and it is not a place of nothing. In metaphysics, Space—also known as "Spirit"—is the source for the other four primary elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Note: these five "primary" elements are not the same as the chemical elements [such as Carbon, Oxygen, Sodium, Radium, etc.] Space does act as a "container" within which various energies manifest as substance and compounds of elements and forms.)
These same rules and customs apply to the Astral and Mental Worlds. The Astral consists of astral substance and astral energy each convertible to the other, and likewise our astral perceptions are influenced to accept certain illusions as real. But, notice this: we bring to the astral our expectations based on our physical experience and until we more fully understand and accept the realities of astral substance and energy our astral perceptions are distorted by our physical expectations. In the same way, at the next level up, our mental perceptions are distorted by our astral expectations. More about that will become clear as we progress in our discussion.
What I've written here about the Astral World applies similarly to the Mental but we must next consider what the real nature of the astral world is: it is the world of Emotion just as the Mental is the world of Mind, and our understanding of it will be enhanced when we spell it "E-Motion" and think of it as Energy in Motion, and realizing that this energy is more than biological only.
Emotion is never static: one minute we're happy, even ecstatic, and the next we may be depressed and even suicidal. And that's a problem—not only when we are talking about astral projection but in understanding the importance of asserting mental discipline over unconscious emotional reactions. And, here, the key word is "reaction." Spontaneous physical reactions—like pulling your hand away from a hot surface—are almost always beneficial, but emotional reactions like anger, hate, lust, fear, greed, etc. often lead to irrational acts and out-of-control behavior. And, because emotion (especially in a crowd) can be contagious, it can lead to mass hysteria and extensive violence, and initiate a single physical act of un-recallable destruction (such as the launching of multiple missiles with one push of a button). That's why control has to asserted from the higher mental level as guided by rational thought.
And, here's the point: when we are speaking of the mental and astral planes, we must recognize that "leadership" comes down from above; strong emotions on the astral can manifest on the physical level in numerous ways. On the other hand, the Mind can control emotion and thus also influence the physical reactions and acts. It truly is Mind over Matter, AND Mind over Emotion. Mind has power over both the astral and the physical (including the etheric double), but only as we consciously reach upwards for mental guidance. Instead, most of us are mental infants, dominated by hormonal and emotional reactions that deny rational conclusions.
In place of a future of Peace, Prosperity, and Progress we see totally bizarre and irrational actions leading to disturbances in the Cosmos. We have rejections of science leading to global warming and environmental injury; we have institutionalized greed leading to economic and political failure and irrational ideologies leading to wars and terrorism.
The Natural Order of the Physical World is seriously out of whack!
Why is this so important to understand? Because, as physical beings, we must develop the mind to bring order to the physical universe, including human society—that's the evolutionary assignment we have in this cycle of manifestation. As we gain more actual astral experience, we gain in understanding of this fundamental energy field and begin to bring it under mental control. And just as we are gaining understanding of the nature of the physical world and the importance of restoring the Natural Order, we must gain understanding of the subtle planes and of our subtle reality.
We are not totally passive passengers in a voyage that starts at birth and ends in death. Every physical act or inaction, every emotional reaction or constructive astral movement, every mental achievement and decisive directive of positive intervention to restore order and make true progress brings us closer to fulfilling the spiritual goals related to physical incarnation.
This is the Great Plan that calls upon every individual to become more that you are. It is not a plan calling upon individuals to follow some purported leader, no matter their claims of Divine authority. We are individuals able to exercise free will and free choice, and that means we must assume personal responsibility for our actions as well as in-actions. And that, in turn, means to actually learn from experience and apply those lessons at a higher level for them to be reflected down into the natural order.
When we talk about the astral vehicle, and projecting something beyond the physical body, we have a better opportunity to define our terms and through understanding the nature of astral substance and energy, and the power of the mind to shape and direct both, we can recognize the importance of using this term of "vehicle" rather than "body" and instead of thinking of it as something as permanent and stable as the physical body perceive it at a higher vibrational level. It is that, but a lot more.
We need to directly function at the astral level, whether projecting in a subtle vehicle or engaging in meditative and magickal work at a higher vibratory level of consciousness. Much of astral level work, including projection, involves the disciplined use of your imagination (this is also called "creative visualization." It is not dull work; it is the most exciting adventure in which even the most familiar actions take on a new dimension. Even activities one proclaimed as "non-spiritual"—like SEX!—become sources of power for active and dynamic mental and spiritual programming.
No action is exempt from the spiritual perspective, but it is YOU who make the choices and undertake the actions guided both by rational thinking and higher intuition. And, yes, you can learn a lot from books. Dr. Slate and I co-authored Astral Projection for Psychic Empowerment, which naturally I recommend to you. Llewellyn has also recently released Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience by Luis Minero, which also takes the evolutionary perspective.
There are, of course, many other good books on this subject; but, I want to make the following point, in contrast to some of the older books on astral projection: we do not use this ability for simple "window-peeping" into a girlfriend's bedroom or for spying on an enemy's military installations (this was often the emphasis in the nineteenth and twentieth century classics). Astral Projection is not physical. At the same time, astral experiences bring awareness and understanding that few things are purely physical. Everybody, everything, ever action is multi-dimensional, and sometimes the greatest action—as in the case of sex, magickal ritual, creative business planning, and even many "ordinary" tasks—occurs at the astral and mental levels.
With such understanding comes greater knowledge so we recognize all actions as multi-dimensional and with astral vision and clairvoyance we are able to act with greater intelligence and responsibility.
The More You Know, the More You Can Do!
CARL LLEWELLYN WESCHCKE