Experiments in Astral Projection


We now come to cases of voluntary or experimental projection. These, as I have said, are much rarer, and – apart from a few scattered cases (possibly) in Phantasms of the Living – are limited more or less to Mr. Fox’s records, in the Occult Review – to be quoted presently – and a few dubious and historic cases, fairly remote.

Two books have been published in French, however, dealing with this subject; one by M. Charles Lancelin, the other by M. Hector Durville. Both of these works deal with the attempt to extract, as it were, the astral body from the magnetized subject while in a state of trance. Neither of them contains cases of projection. The subject was placed in a deep magnetic or mesmeric (as distinct from hypnotic) trance, and suggestions were then given that the subject should, if possible, leave his (or her) own body, and move away from it for some appreciable distance. A variety of ingenious experimental tests were then made, to ascertain, so far as possible, that this had been successfully accomplished. I shall not now stop to consider the work of M. Lancelin, as I have already summarized it quite fully in my Modern Psychical Phenomena, and in Higher Psychical Development, and Mr. Muldoon has dealt with it at considerable length in the present volume.

I may, however, give a brief summary of the findings of M. Durville, as given in his book Le Fantome des Vivants. The book is divided into two parts:

Part I being historical and theoretical, dealing with the general theory of the double, and citing a number of ancient and more modern cases which might possibly be considered examples of its manifestation.

Part II is experimental, dealing with cases in which the astral body was apparently projected, while the subject was in deep ‘magnetic trance. Some of this material is of considerable interest, and agrees remarkably with the descriptions and experiences of Mr. Muldoon.

Thus we read (p. 189): “The subject of the experiment is constantly en rapport with the double through the intermediary of a fluidic cord, capable of elongation. Usually this is cylindrical, but may sometimes appear to be a sort of ribbon.”

As to the clothes of the astral body, these seem to be composed of a sort of fluidic gauze (p. 215). Various sense-impressions are conveyed to the body by means of the astral cord (p. 235). The question of tem-perature is important; and too much light has a detrimental effect upon the astral body. Experiments with the dynamometer showed that the muscular strength (grip) of the subject was always greater after projection than before (p. 152). On the contrary, the temperature of the hand – particularly of the right hand – almost invariably fell as the result of the experiment (pp. 195-197).

One chapter is devoted to the action of the astral body upon

(a) the double of another subject – both being “projected “at the same time; and (b) upon the physical body of another person. Some positive results were apparently secured in both cases. Calcium sulphide screens were then placed at some distance from the subject, and the suggestion was given that the astral body should approach one or other of these screens. As it did so, the screen in question glowed up with added brilliance as the result of the proximity of the astral body. Such as cases recorded in Owen’s Footfalls; The Debatable Land; Mrs. Crowe’s Night Side of Nature; certain cases in Phantasms of the Living; etc. (pp. 275-280). Some successes are also reported in obtaining physical movements of objects and raps, and in moving the straw of a Sthenometer, at a distance from the entranced subject – by the projected astral body (pp. 297-332). The last chapter details a number of attempts to photograph the astral body, and various vital radiations emitted by it or by the physical body. M. Durville concludes his book as follows:

  1. Projection of the astral body is a certain fact, capable of being demonstrated by means of direct experiment. This also demon- strates to us that living force is independent of matter, and that our Individuality is composed of a physical body and an intelligent Soul – and a vital link, the astral body.
  2. Since this astral body can exist and function apart from the physical body, it may also exist after death. That is, Immortality is a fact which is thus proved scientifically. This apparently little-known work of M. Durville is full of curious and interesting material, and if one could be assured that the results attained were all scientifically accurate, would constitute a treatise of first-rate importance. It is to be noted that many of his findings tally, in a very striking manner, with those of Mr. Muldoon. Some critical comments on these results are to be found in the text of the present book.


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