Astral Projection is the common name for the process by which your consciousness (or awareness, soul, psyche) can temporarily leave its physical body and function independently, while your physical body remains passive. During this experience, we observe the world (or other worlds) from a non-physical point of view and with non-physical senses. The ‘projector’ finds themselves outside their physical body and released from any physical constraints.
The name ‘Astral’ is given to describing anything associated with these energetically-focussed, rather than matter-focussed, phenomena. It comes from the root aster, meaning ‘relating to a star’ or ‘starry’. For example, we perceive astral light in the Astral Plane via the astral senses of our astral body, etc. So ‘Astral Projection’ is simply the term used to describe how to consciously ‘arrive’ and ‘be’ in the Astral Plane. Regardless of the seemingly occult term, it is as entirely natural a process as breathing is.
For what is not commonly known is that we all experience Astral Projection when we are asleep. Most of these projections are called ‘unconscious’ simply because we aren’t trained to remember them. Others we may later interpret as dreams (but we should note, not all dreams are projections.) At times we have complete waking consciousness during the experience, and remember the event in great detail when we return to our physical body.
This can happen to anyone, as a total surprise, and entirely spontaneously (though it is less frequently spoken of.) It can occur to anyone at any time – while relaxing, while sleeping, during sickness, under medication, during an accident, during meditation, etc. At least one in four people remember some kind of experience like this in their life, so this kind of spontaneous projection experience is not uncommon.
The main idea behind learning Astral Projection is training the ability to induce this experience with full consciousness, and repeat the process whenever desired, maintaining awareness throughout all stages of the experience: from waking, to relaxation, to separation from the physical body, to all through the experience itself, to the return to the physical body and normal waking state, to remembering it in detail.
We may note that this experience is not a dream of any kind (though again, it can be arrived at from the dream state.) The projector is fully aware and awake and can decide, analyze, and interact freely in this non-physical dimension or Astral Plane, all while the physical body rests. In this way, you can be in two places at once, and you are every single night! (…or day if you are a nightshift worker! 🙂
Again, Astral Projection itself is not an uncommon phenomenon (though conscious projectors aren’t that common.) Nor is it something unique to mystics, occultists, or magicians (though I dare say those so inclined have often made a point of getting pretty good at it.) It is a skill attainable, and indeed practiced, by ordinary human beings from all walks of life. It cannot be confused with hallucinations (projectors soon learn to recognize and dismiss self-created hallucinations while projecting.) Such is the reality of the experience that no other sensible interpretation for it can be given by the one experiencing it than that of Astral Projection, i.e. projection away from the physical body in an astral body.
There are of course many many things one can do from this state, including (in short) being able to travel to any location in space and time, interact with other conscious projectors and other entities, access vast fields of knowledge and learning, explore strange new worlds and civilizations (much more interesting than those on Star Trek!) and lots lots more… we’ll get to a longer list soon!
Astral Projection is often called an Out-of-Body Experience (or OOBE, or even just OBE), and generally these terms can be considered synonymous. However, for a few reasons, the latter term is not entirely satisfactory. First, though we are ‘out’ of our physical body, we usually find ourselves ‘in’ our astral body, which is often (though not always) experienced as an exact replica of the physical. Second, the term OOBE doesn’t allow us to distinguish between Astral Projection and Etheric Projection, though admittedly the difference is quite subtle (pun intended.)
Etheric Projection is when you leave your body but are still in a vibrational state close to the Physical. You could say you are in the energetic physical world replica. It is similar to as if you were a ‘ghost’, nobody can see or touch you, but otherwise the world seems almost exactly the same. (Because of this, you can see other spirits on this plane, if you come across them.)
This is the Etheric Plane, and you can think of it as an overlap (or ‘buffer zone’) between the Physical and the Astral. If you had a coin with the Physical on one side and the Astral on the other, the edge would be the Etheric. It is more like a higher vibration version of the physical, similar to how ultraviolet light in invisible to physical eyesight. But the Etheric and Astral dimensions also blend one into the other, since all dimensions interpenetrate, and you can ‘tune in’ and ‘tune out’ of them by concentrating on doing so.
You won’t find this distinction that often, but both the term OOBE and most OOBE accounts actually describe Etheric Projection rather than Astral Projection. By this I mean they often describe ‘real-time’ events in locations away from the physical body (often in the projector’s bedroom), and are aware of perceiving the physical world as a spectator who can walk among physical events but not physically participate.
Thus you can most easily tell an Etheric Projection from whether it looks totally like the physical or not. You may also find it a little harder to move in the Etheric, but then again maybe not. In such a case you could say it is like swimming in mud compared to the Astral which is more like swimming in water. But this may actually depend on how much etheric matter, ie. vital energy, that you have at the time. Other times you may be too close to your physical body and ‘feel’ slow or semi-paralyzed because you are partially sensing its condition.
Other than that, once you’ve experienced both the Etheric and the Astral Planes you will be able to tell instantly from the difference in feeling. The Astral has another feeling to it, one that more resembles the feeling you have while dreaming. Certainly the landscape of the Astral is far more fluid and changeable, and the scenario may bear little resemblance to the physical world (contextually if not completely.)
The duration of an Etheric Projection may also be shorter as it is said to depend on the amount of etheric matter channelled to the Astral Body by the chakras. A person with naturally active chakra development will have little trouble; otherwise they may need to be developed by energetic training to achieve the same results.
But whether Astral or Etheric Projection, they are both something you can learn to ‘do’. Typically, after deep relaxation and some form of concentration, your consciousness ‘shifts’ and all of a sudden you can get out of your body. You may notice that everything is ‘not as it’s supposed to be’. For example, doors may be in the seemingly ‘wrong place’, things may have different proportions, your house may look different in some way, animals may talk to you, you can fly… and so much more…
If you were wondering why anyone would want to learn to consciously project, (though the sheer novelty would be enough) my first answer would be the amazing effect of having your mind ‘opened’ for the first time. There is a definite sense of wonder and excitement at being able to do and experience things that were previously impossible! We’ll talk more about the reasons to learn projection soon, but for now imagine: no limits…