What is Astral Projection?
The phenomenon of exiting the physical body and traveling around in an "astral" body. Astral Projection is the intentional act of having the spirit leave the body, whereas an out-of-body experience happens involuntarily (such as while dreaming, or in a near-death experience).
A real astral projection occurs when the conscious mind leaves the physical body and enters the astral body. The conscious mind is aware of things encountered while out of the physical body. One must be reclining, relaxed and in comfortable clothes to astral project, and a comforter is recommended, as the physical body may cool with the absence of the conscious mind. ).
There are two schools of thought in astral projection. The Phase Model holds that it is impossible to leave the physical body, but the projector actually phases into another level of consciousness, like tuning the radio to another station. In this model, there are different locales to visit based on the level of consciousness. )
The Mystic Model encompasses myriad belief systems and maps of the astral world, but holds the common belief that astral projection takes place outside the body. Believers of this model hold that a subtle energy body carries the consciousness, and that it is attached to the physical body through an energetic connection, usually in the form of a silver umbilical cord. ).
Everyone is born with the ability to astral project. Astral projection is inherent during childhood, and it can be developed like a muscle, but the ability may be lost through neglect. ).
According to classical, medieval and renaissance Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and later Theosophist and Rosicrucian thought the astral body is an intermediate body of light linking the rational soul to the physical body while the astral plane is an intermediate world of light between Heaven and Earth, composed of the spheres of the planets and stars. These astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons and spirits. ).
The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that deal with astral phenomena. In the neo-platonism of Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm ("small world") of the universe (the macrocosm or "great world"). "The rational soul...is akin to the great Soul of the World" while "the material universe, like the body, is made as a faded image of the Intelligible". Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a world-view called emanationism; "from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower phase, or that of Nature - the material universe. ).
There is no known scientific evidence that astral projection as an objective phenomenon exists. There are cases of patients having experiences suggestive of astral projection from brain stimulation treatments and hallucinogenic drugs. However, for those who have experienced it, it is as real as this material plane. ).