|The astral plane is a level of reality that is higher than the physical world, but lower than the
divine or spiritual world. It is a place that is in-between. This realm is the invisible blueprint that lies behind all physical forms. All things manifest in the astral world before they manifest in the physical world. That is why ceremonial magicians work most of their magic on the astral plane, in order to directly effect what happens on the physical plane.
The astral plane is the world of reflection, images, and dreams. It is sometimes called the Treasure House of Images. It contains what is known as the Akashic Record or the Akashic Library. This is a part of the astral said to contain all the memories and experiences of humanity over the course of history??"embedded within the plastic substance of the ether.
The astral plane is also the inner world of the human soul ??"an inner dimension. By "skrying" the magician gazes into this invisible world for knowledge. By using "astral projection," the magician enters this world and interacts with angels, elementals, and other beings. When a magician interacts with the elements and spirits, what he or she is actually doing, is working with those parts or archetypes that exist as a part of his or her own mind or psychic make-up. But there is a Hermetic axiom which states "As above, so Below." These archetypal spirits and beings exist within the mind of the magician, just as they exist on a larger scale within the mind of the divine creator of the universe. To see a change in one is to see a change in the other.
Astral work is a very important tool for learning how things operate in the non-physical worlds. With it, the magician learns to contact spiritual realms, examine their landscape, and bring back information. What we are talking about here is controlled astral visions??"meaningful and intense experiences that are completely understandable. In these visions the skryer maintains complete control and all of his powers of choice, will-power, and judgment. Through these experiences, the magician is able to reach the deepest levels of what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious or what Hermetic philosophers called Anima Mundi??"the Soul of the World.
Skrying and astral projection in the Golden Dawn tradition can be described as a form of self-hypnosis that uses symbols in order to cause changes in consciousness. From these higher levels of
consciousness, the magician often tries to see the underlying causes of things??"to work at a problem from a higher angle or perspective??"to get inside the machinery of the universe and see just what makes it tick.
For centuries, skrying was done utilizing crystals, magic mirrors, a bowl of water, or any other reflective surface. Images such as tarot cards were also used. In the First Order of the Golden Dawn, the student merely studies the symbols that are used for skrying. All astral work is performed in the Second Order. The symbols utilized in skrying can be anything??"Tattwa cards,
elemental triangles, tarot cards, astrological glyphs, geomantic emblems, Enochian pyramids, etc. These symbols may all be used as doorways to be explored through one’s inner perception.