What happens when the spirit leaves the body? In most cases, people answer with, “Duh… Death.” But Witches as shamanic practitioners know better. It is important to know what each experience is, beginning with explaining the difference between having an Out-of-Body experience (OBE) and performing Astral Travel. They are not the same thing even though they involve some of the same procedures and events.
We are made up of more than just a physical body. Our physical body is part of what we are, but it is only a part. We also exist as energy and because of this, have several energy bodies that surround and interact/enmesh with our physical body at any one time. The energy bodies are formed and maintained through the energy centers known popularly as chakras. There are multiple energy bodies that exist. Most teachings number seven of them, but we are typically only able to work with three: The Etheric body, the Mental/Emotional body, and the Spiritual body.
Astral Projection is the action of separating the energy body/bodies from the physical for the purpose of an OBE or Astral Travel.
The Etheric body is typically seen as misty grey in appearance and only extends at most about three inches from the Physical body’s surface. The primary duty of the Etheric body is to feed life energy (prana) into our physical being. Because of this, it remains close to the Physical body. It doesn’t leave its close-knit ties and association with the physical body until death. It is the base level of what is commonly called the aura.
The Mental/Emotional body is the ‘middle aura’ and fluctuates in color as well as how far out it will expand from the Physical body. When a person is extroverted or very comfortable with their surroundings, this energy body may extend out several feet. When a person is shy it may withdraw and in the case of a very introverted person it has been known to withdraw itself into the Etheric body. It has the ability to depart from the physical body at various times. Sometimes this is done unintentionally, like during a dream or spontaneous trance state that happens when we ‘zone out’ and ‘aren’t all here.’ I believe the experience of suddenly falling or ‘snapping back’ when you are drifting off to sleep or one that abruptly wakes you up when there is no physical reason for you to have experienced such is an example of this body suddenly returning after venturing out and about for a while.
It is the Mental/Emotional body that journeys out during an OBE. An OBE occurs on the material or physical plane. You don’t venture to any of the other planes of existence during an OBE, you stay where you would be if you as much as if you were in a physical body, although unbounded by ordinary means of travel. An OBE is something like floating above yourself in the room you are in, going outside and down the street, or in the case of talented bi-locators, journeying to another city or country. There are still precautions to take and one shouldn’t just casually use this as a means of inexpensive vacationing and I’ll get to that in a future blog post.
The third and hardest body to see is the Spiritual body. It exists on the Astral and is our connection to the Astral Realms. It arises from the top of the head and is the residence of our higher consciousness. In spiritually developed people this body encircles the head as a glowing gold-white light and is where the traditional concept of the halo comes from. This body is also our connection to our guardian spirit and this being, the guardian, must be involved in any foray into the Astral Realms. Our Spiritual body merges with our Mental/Emotional body for the act of Astral Travel because Astral Travel, as opposed to an OBE, is the time of actually leaving this plane, the physical, and traveling to another higher or lower plane of existence.
- An OBE involves the Mental/Emotional body and only occurs within the physical plane.
- Astral Travel combines the Mental/Emotional body and the Spiritual body and occurs within the Astral Planes.
The generic explanation of having an OBE or Astral Traveling experience is that a part of your consciousness delves within or you visualize an energy body that forms and leaves your Physical body to go out and have these experiences. This leads to most thinking that at best, it’s merely an act of a person’s imagination and nothing is really happening, or at worst it fails to instruct someone in the potential hazards and missteps that can happen when one is ignorant or unprepared. A simplistic definition without actually teaching or explaining this also leads to frustration because people just don’t ‘get it’ no matter how hard they try.
The Astral Realm is very real. It is just something we don’t experience most of the time because it’s not a physical thing. It doesn’t occur with the physical body or physical senses. Not everything that exists is merely physical. If you accept and understand this, then such experiences will be open to you. If you don’t, well then, you aren’t missing out on anything because for you it’s not real anyway.
Like everything else that occurs in living a magical life, meditation is at the root of this. It is through meditation and practice of visualization that will lead to having intentional OBEs and Astral Travels. Meditation is key because it is only through understanding and actually kenning (possessing deep intrinsic knowing) that one understands that where the mind goes, so does body follow: the Physical body, Etheric body, Mental/Emotional body, or Spiritual body.
More to follow soon on meditation and protection techniques for Out-of-Body and Astral Travel experiences.