Adventures Out of The Body

Feb 10

OOB (Out Of the Body) Experience, more popularly known as astral projection, was something that fascinated me since I was a child. Basically, astral projection meant the ability to send consciousness out of the body in spirit-form (usually invisible to the lay-man), where it could then wander the world at will unfettered by physical obstructions or limitations (walls, gravity, etc.). The astral form was connected to the physical by the Silver Cord-if this band is cut, it was said, death ensues.

I’m not sure when my first exposure to the phenomenon was. I was an avid comic book reader in my youth, and a number of super-heroes possessed the ability to astrally project at will in their arsenal of powers. Most notable among these were Professor X of the X-Men, who could do so due to his extreme-but innate-psychic talents, and Doctor Strange, who earned the ability after rigorous mystical training. I would lay in bed at night and try to force some latent mystical talent into functioning, and imagine myself, clad in the whiteness of the astral form (that’s how they drew it in the comic books, like a ghost coming out of your body) and flying over the world.

My interest wasn’t limited to astral projection. I also wanted to know about (and have) telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, you name it. I had a good friend who shared my interests and we somehow worked out that everyone had these gifts, the trick was we just didn’t know how to use them. My friend’s father (who lived in another city, his parents were divorced) was interested in mysticism and passed down texts to his children-generally, these were the Carlos Castenada books that were popular with the preceding generation. When asked about astral projection, my friend reported the answer had “something to do with lighting spheres up in the body.” Okay, I was good with that. After that piece of advice, I started to imagine spheres of light sparking up within me. Nothing still happened.

My freshman year in High School, I suddenly discovered that the bookstores in town actually had a section with parapsychological texts, along with a sampling of everything from aliens to Wicca; the silly to the nefarious. That said, it wasn’t until I was a junior in High School that I finally picked up a book titled, simply enough, “Astral Projection.” It was the first complete manual I had ever encountered, written by members of the Aurum Solis, an occult secret society with origins in Europe (stretching back, they claim, to the Renaissance).  The key to the program was a sequence of meditations/visualizations that entailed building up and lighting spheres on the body! The exercise was called “Formula One.” It was easy enough-I imagined spheres of light on different centers of the body (genitals, heart, throat, forehead and above the head), and in special colors for each one. From there, you project astral material from your belly-button, shape it into a human-form, project your mind into it and voila! Astral projection.

Unfortunately, teenage indolence got the better of me, and after a few half-hearted attempts, I stopped trying. I was too busy drinking, chasing women, and getting into trouble.

When I was in my early twenties, I took an extended sabaatical from just about everything as I tried to wrap my head around my life. During this time I got serious about my spiritual pursuits and gave the astral projection thing another go. I practiced the meditations, formed the spheres on my body, no clear results. I figured it takes time to master the talent.

Then, one day, I had a lucid dream-a dream where I knew I was dreaming. And something interesting happened. I tried “Formula One” and never got past lighting up the sphere above my head. There was a ringing like a tuning fork sounding, a brilliant flash of light and I shot out of my body. But it wasn’t like the comic books-I couldn’t control where I was going. I went flying outwards, through a bizaare and phantasmagoric landscape (I later learned this was the astral plane, more on that some other time). It wasn’t frightening, so much as disorienting. A lot of time seemed to elapse and I had no idea how to get back to my physical body, which was at 760 Boulevard. I had some pamphlets at home for shamanic week-end workshops, and supposedly, these guys knew about soul-retreival. I resolved that I had to tell a friend to go to my house, get the pamphlet and contact the shamans so I could get back into my body.

Perhaps it was the extreme desire to return that brought me back-I’m not really sure. I made it back to my room, my body was below me. But someone or something else wanted to get back in as much as I did. The two of us tussled for awhile, then, I collected myself and uttered a prayer for help. Whatever it was left, and I went into my body again with no problem. Later that same day, my friend approached me (before I mentioned anything about my experience) to say he thought he saw someone in his house, and then they weren’t there.

Since that time, I’ve seen the same phenomenon happen in drum circles, during plays, at concerts, while I’ve dreamed. I’ve had conversations about it with people who can project at will (I still can’t, by the way). One of them was, in fact, a world-respected head of a Sufi Order. It is plain to me that we are more than just bodies of matter, there are gradations of ourselves, that reside into more and more sublime levels.

7 comments

  1. Wow, are you serious? I’ve been interested in Astral Projection ever since I read The Other as a child. Like you, I even tried it once during the college years. One time I thought I had a spark during meditation, but it was like a bubble popping over my head. Probably not true AP.

    How timely and synchronicitic (is that a word?) that you should craft this post just now. I don’t want to get into details, but I was just discussing a book idea with my Mom on Tuesday that involved the very same concept. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? 🙂

    Anyway, as always, interesting post.

  2. Brian Hager /

    Peter, I finally decided to visit your Website. Though I don’t necessarily believe in the whole Astral Projection idea, I am a practitioner of Contemplative Prayer. It occurs to me that both are not exactly “embraced” by the more Orthodox of Christians or Catholics among us. Are you familiar with it?

  3. Peter Ristuccia /

    Brian, I understand your position-certainly my experiences seem a little outside the norm and my views here are somewhat on the periphery of popular concensus. However, I do think one could argue that those who believe in a soul, therefore believe in some sort of out of body experience. I’m not familiar with contemplative prayer, however.

  4. Brian Hager /

    Contemplative prayer has been compared to meditation; especially Buddhist. It is similar in the sense that a person who undertakes Contemplative Prayer strives to let go of all worldly thoughts and concerns through the use of a “sacred” word. It is not Buddhist because the focus is not to clear the mind as it is to make space for God to dwell in the moment. My own sacred word is the name of Jesus. I have found it to be a powerful form of prayer.

    One of the chief proponents of the style is a Trappist Monk by the name of Fr. Thomas Keating. This style has also been referred to as Centering Prayer (Fr. Basil Pennington). Anyway, it is about giving God permission to enter into our lives and do what he likes, rather than us bombarding heaven with our own concerns and petitions.

  5. Peter /

    Hmmm. I rather like that. It makes me think of invocations in general, like when we pray the Rosary. Very nice. Thank you Brian for sharing.

  6. Brian Hager /

    I do want to clarify one thing. There are so many people who are more than willing to tell us what they think the only way to have a relationship with the Lord entails and how to get there. The fact – I believe – is that we have to work at our friendship with Him that is true to who each of us is. Jesus wants to know who you are – not who you think you should be. I wanted to offer the view on Contemplative prayer as a way of fine tuning what you may be trying to accomplish in your AP. Just because someone may call your view of astral projection (AP) new agish doesn’t necessarily make it so…

  7. Peter /

    I agree-I think we all have our own relationship with the Creator. I actually don’t try astral projection anymore-I ultimately decided that such efforts were distractions from serious spiritual work. I mean, what good could it realy do me? From what I came to understand later such phenomena are viewed as dangerous distractions from real work-and I agree with this. If God wants me to astrally project then I’m sure He’ll let me (or make me). I think of much greater value is the direct pursuit of Illumination (the Western term for Enlightenment-one which directly implies our traditions and faith).

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