What Is Astral?
The range of the astral world
Your astral senses
Body and psyche: built-in safeguards
Astral substance: one kind only
The astral world or plane covers a wide range of reality. In
its highest reaches it gives form to what is spiritual and
helps make a thought thinkable. At its lower levels it is so
close to the physical universe that a dividing line cannot easily
be maintained. It includes our astral bodies, the soul-stuff
of the individual psyche.
Etheric sight in ordinary consciousness
The lower levels of the astral world are sometimes termed
"etheric." Many people, without leaving their physical body
at all, can make use of "etheric sight"the power to see the
colors, forms, and living beings of at least the lower astral levels.
With practice, you can almost certainly cultivate this
power of seeing. It is a knack. It has nothing whatever to do
with the sharpness or other aspects of your physical eyesight.
It has nothing to do with virtue, either. Sometimes people
who declare they can see nonmaterial beings are treated as if they were
claiming to be holy, or somehow spiritually gifted. In fact the only
virtues needed for etheric sight are attentiveness and open-mindedness.
Certainly the level of one's awareness of the astral is governed by
one's state of inner readiness; but that too can be developed, and aspiration
generally grows in proportion to the knowledge of something to
The senses in astral consciousness
When you are out of your body you will, of course, see, hear, and be
generally aware of what is around you. Every manifestation of being is
real and palpable at its own level. If you travel astrally at the level of the
material world you will see it as it is at that timeif that is what you
wishalthough you are likely to perceive more of its past, and perhaps
of its future, than earthly traveling would show you. As an astral being
you will be able to pass directly through a solid earthly wall or closed
door with no trouble, no matter how solid or closed it may look.
At some time when you are out of the body, however, you may well
encounter some high astral boundary that is not for you to pass as
yetfor it, being astral, too, and of a higher astral potency, is solid and
effective at astral level.
Body and psyche
Not to get too technical: "you," an intelligent consciousness, are the
unifying focal point in a combination of body and psyche. Body and
psyche alike follow your conscious will to a great extent, but both have
their deep reticencesareas in which they pursue their own life outside
your knowledge or control.
When you, the intelligent consciousness, fare forth to out-of-thebody
experience, how much of the psyche is thus temporarily separated
from the main organism? It feels to you just like your physical
body. Is it, then, your entire astral body, the totality of your animating
2 Chapter 1
No, it is not! You can depend upon your breathing and heart-action
to continue steadily while you are out; and you, the roving consciousness,
however remote and adventurous your travels, never lose your
way back. Like the hero of a thriller, you always get home safe again.
All these safeguards are functions of the stay-at-home part of your astral
At the same time, your consciousness does not go out alone and naked
into the astral world. It needsyou needa certain amount of astral
substance to gather impressions and information for it. Astral substance
performs this function very well, as it habitually mediates between
the physical nervous systems and the psyche.
Inevitably, too, this astral substance that fares forth with your consciousness,
since it comes from the instinctual and emotional region of
your psyche, will carry some of your customary feelings and reactions;
all of which helps to make you feel complete and thoroughly yourself
in your travels.
Fortunately, any person in a tolerable state of health has more than
enough astral substance to spare, without robbing what is needed to
keep the body's necessary services running meanwhile. Your astral
body is, in any case, continually giving off small quantities of its substance
and replenishing from outer sources; a person in vigorous psychic
health, even without great bodily strength, gives off so much astral
substance that even bystanders may perceive it: "electrical vitality,"
or "vibrant personality," they comment.
The probability is that when you first begin to project your consciousness
from your physical body, you'll take considerably more astral
substance with you than you need.
With more practice you'll begin to travel light.
The soul-stuff is remarkably elastic and expansive, and a small portion
of it is enough to give an experienced astral traveler the feeling,
and far more than the faculties, of the earthly body.
What Is Astral? 3
Astral substance: one kind only
The part of the astral body most closely engaged with the physical
body is described as the "gross astral," on account of its greater density.
Gross astral substance as such is not usually taken for purposes of projection:
it may be taken by accident, as by a beginner, or for a specific
purpose, as a physical medium can do to ensure its visibility to a minimally
This does not mean however that gross astral substance is essentially
different from the general kind. Air at sea level is not essentially different
from air on a mountain peak. The air at sea level is denser, but if
the wind carries it to the high peaks it becomes at once as rarefied as
any other air at that altitude. Astral substance is far more elastic and
more swiftly circulating than air. To say therefore that gross astral substance
is not usually taken out by the experienced traveler is not a
statement as to the part of the astral body from which it is takenthe
astral body does not really have partsbut simply refers to the condition
of the substance when taken out.
The same all over!
The fact that there is only one kind of astral substance has some interesting
and exciting consequences.
Each and every organ of your physical bodyeyes, nose, ears, and
so onhas its counterpart in the astral body. This does not mean that
the different areas of your astral body are limited in function like the
corresponding parts of your physical body. The whole of your astral
body, or any particle of it, is capable of discerning whatever can be
seen, heard, or otherwise known by the physical sensesplus, of
course, its own world of purely astral perceptions.
This means a lot of good things.
Astral well-being for everyone
To begin with, it means people who are physically deaf, or nearsighted,
or have any other bodily disability whether slight or serious,
need not carry over that disability into their astral experience.
This needs to be stated emphatically: sometimes, from sheer force
of habit, people go on assuming they have this or that disability even
in their astral life, and they can need a fair amount of determination
and practice in the astral world to be free of it. When they can do so,
however, this naturally adds a lot of joy to their astral travelingand
also, whether the physical disability is lightened or not, the spells of
awareness of astral freedom can improve considerably the quality of
their earthly life.
This applies even to amputations. Your true astral body is whole, fit,
and strong; it is a body of light and energy.
Certainly in your astral travels you may meet with lame people,
people with scars, and so on. That probably means they still have to realize
they are truly free and independent of all bodily mishaps. But it
can also be that they've come to regard these blemishes as signs and
features of identity, and would not travel without them.
Still, you should always remember that in the astral world no one is
bound to any physical limitation whatsoever.
This all pervasive, high-level perceptiveness and sensitivity of astral
substance confers other benefits, too, upon the traveler. All experiences
are enhanced, not only because they are liberated from the possibly
dulling effects of earthly sense organs, but also because your perceptions
are not limited to definite sense organs at all.
If you hear astral music for instanceand there is incredibly enchanting
astral music to be heardyou will not simply receive it with
perfect astral ears. You may concentrate upon hearing it with your ears
because that's the way you are accustomed to hearing things, but in reality
you will be hearing it with all the substance of your astral vehicle.
What Is Astral? 5
Similarly with the astral perfumes, delicate yet wonderfully refreshing,
which psychic people try in vain to describe in terms of earthly
flowers; and a part of their invigorating power lies in the fact that they
are not merely inhaled, your entire astral substance is receptive to
And so with all else, subject only to your will and attention.