Also found in: Wikipedia.
Astral Plane; Astral Body(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
The astral plane is the first plane, or sphere, beyond the physical. It is the plane to which all spirits move after death, when departing the physical body. It is, however, possible to depart the body temporarily, in trance or during sleep, and visit the astral plane. This is known as "astral projection." Fodor refers to the astral plane as being "material but of a refined texture." Indeed, we know that all matter is composed of atoms vibrating at certain frequencies. Occultists view the universe as planes divided by these vibrations, each plane vibrating at a different frequency. The astral plane seems to duplicate the physical world in its appearance to the spirit.
The physical body has a duplicate body which is invisible to all but the most sensitive. This is known as the "astral body" or "etheric double." This is the form which escapes the physical body in a trance, during sleep, or at death. It might, therefore, be thought of as the form of the spirit or soul, at least the form taken by the spirit or soul immediately following death. As with Fodor's idea of the astral plane being finely textured material, so it is with the astral body. When it leaves the physical body it is able to pass through seemingly solid objects.
On the astral plane, our astral bodies can move with the speed of thought: to think of another location is to immediately be in that location. This is not as surprising as it might appear initially, when one considers that radio waves move at the speed of light, or 186,000 miles per second, the equivalent of traveling around the world 450 times in one minute!
Many of those capable of astral projection at will have spoken of the initial difficulty of recognizing the state—they will walk about the bedroom not knowing whether they are, in fact, walking in their sleep or actually astrally projecting. It is only the discovery that they can float up to the ceiling or out of the room that confirms that it is actually astral projection.
It is possible to teach oneself to astrally project. There are a number of different techniques found to be effective. Many Witches are capable of it. The idea of witches flying off to the sabbat is thought by some to be attributable to astral projection.
The appearance of ghosts can also be attributed to astral projection in some instances. When the apparent ghost of someone who is known to be still alive is seen, then the most obvious explanation would seem to be that it is actually the astral body of that person that has become visible. Only by learning the circumstances of the person in question at that precise moment can this be verified. The secondary figure of such bilocation is known as a Jüdel, Doppelgänger (Germany), or fylgia (Norway), Kama Rupa (Hindu), fetch, fye, or waft (Britain). But the astral plane is also home to the spirits of those who have died. A ghost is therefore more usually the astral body of such a dead person, made visible to those on the earth plane.
The marked difference between the astral bodies of the dead and the living is the fact that the living have a connection between their astral selves and their physical selves. This is in the form of a "silver cord," a very fine and infinitely elastic connection that is broken only at death. Should the astral body be far from its physical counterpart at a moment when the physical body is disturbed—by a sudden sound or contact—then the astral body returns, at the speed of thought, from the pull of this silver cord. In popular fiction it is intimated that "evil entities" can sever this cord when an astral body is away from its host, causing death. Apart from the improbability of this theory, should any attempt be made to interfere with the cord it would only result in the astral body being immediately returned to the physical, so such an "astral murder" could not be committed.
Since the astral bodies of both living and dead are to be found on the astral plane, it is possible for the spirits of the living to meet there with the spirits of the dead. This is the explanation of dreams in which one meets and converses with those who are known to have died. The dreams are memories of nighttime encounters on the astral plane.
The ancient Egyptians believed in what they termed the Ka, which was, in effect, the astral body. In Egyptian art it is shown as a duplicate of the physical body and as being the vital force which gave that body life. The Hindus call it the linga sharira.
A celebrated and well documented case of astral projection to the astral plane was that of Oliver Fox and his friends, Elkington and Slade. They decided to conduct an experiment in astral projection by agreeing to meet on the astral plane at a specific date and time. Fox and Elkington kept the appointment, which was on the astral plane's equivalent of England's Southampton Common. Slade, however, did not show up. When questioned some days afterward, Slade complained that he had not been able to "dream" at all, hence had not projected to the arranged meeting place.
Astral Plane; Astral World(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
The Astral Plane, or Astral World, is described by Nandor Fodor as “the first sphere after bodily death. It is said to be material but of a refined texture. There are many speculations concerning this world of existence. Theosophy claims definite knowledge of its conditions and denizens. Many descriptive accounts are to be found in Spiritualistic after-death communications.”
Many believe that there are seven planes of existence, or seven “spheres.” The physical world is the lowest plane. The second plane is where we go at death. As Fodor said, Spiritualist literature gives descriptions of this second plane, which seems to be, in many ways, similar to our present world. Lewis Spence describes it as “the world of emotions, desires, and passions.” He also states that the “lower order of the devas or angels and nature-spirits or elementals, both good and bad, such including fairies which are just beyond the powers of human vision….” all exist in this world.
Whatever its true description, it seems certain that the astral plane, or astral world, is where the spirit or soul proceeds at death. Although it is a Theosophical concept, it is also a universal one, found among primitives and with many mystic religions around the world.