Did you know that in Tibet and India alone, there are more than 160,000 documented cases of people, who after many years of spiritual preparation, manage to transform their physical body into a body of pure light or rainbow body.
Taoists refer to it as “the diamond body,” and those who have attained it are named “the immortals” and “the cloud walkers.”
In Sufism— often defined as “Islamic mysticism”, “the inward dimension of Islam”, or “the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam”— Sufism calls the astral body “the most sacred body” and the “supra celestial body.”
Yogic schools and Tantric teachings call it “the divine body,” while in Kriya yoga it is referred to as “the body of bliss.”
In Vedanta, “the superconductive body,” while the ancient Egyptians called it “the luminous body or being” (akh) or the karast.
In the Mithraic liturgy, it was dubbed as “the perfect body.” In the Hermetic Corpus, it is referred to as “the immortal body,” while in the alchemical tradition, the Emerald Tablet calls it “the golden body.”
The Church and Astral Projection
In Bible times, there were many recollections and descriptions of astral travel where saints and apostles would go on floating dreams to heaven while their body was intact in their home.
Early fathers of the Christian church were in favor of active dreaming and astral travel. Tertullian, who famously observed that “most people derive their knowledge of God from dreams” urged Christians who found themselves in captivity, perhaps on the way to martyrdom, to get out and about in their astral bodies:
Though the body is shut in, though the flesh is confined, all things are open to the spirit. In spirit, then, roam abroad; in spirit walk about, not setting before you shady paths or long colonnades, but the way which leads to God. As often as in spirit your footsteps are there, so often you will not be in bonds. The leg does not feel the chain when the mind is in the heavens. [Tertullian, Ad Maryras, 197 CE]
Athanasius explained in Contra Gentes that “when the body is still, at rest and sleeping, a man is in inner movement – he contemplates what is outside himself, he traverses foreign lands, he meets friends and often through them he divines and learns in advance his daily actions. What else could this be [that travels] but a rational soul [psyche logike]?”
St. Augustine described travels of the “phantom” who can visit another person in dreams.
John of Lycopolis (d. 394), one of the Desert Fathers, became famous for his ability to travel in his dream body. A saint of the Coptic church, John was well-known during his life as a hermit for his austerities; he lived in a cave and ate only fruit consumed after sundown. He was believed to have great psychic gifts. Emperors and generals consulted him, as a seer, on the outcome of future battles and political conflicts. He was attributed “mighty works” of healing and prophecy.
He was fully aware of the ways in which psychic energy can work outside – and on – the physical body, and of the reality of dream travel and dream visitations.
John was about ninety when a Roman tribune implored him to see his wife. She was anxious about a possibly dangerous journey by river and wanted the holy man’s blessing. John had not seen a woman in forty years, and refused to see this one. The tribune’s wife was persistent, swearing that she would not embark on her journey without John’s blessing. When the tribune reported this to John, the desert father said, “I shall appear tonight to her in a dream, and then she must not still be determined to see my face in the flesh.” The tribune reported this to his wife.
That night, John came to her in a dream. He told her modestly, “I am a sinful man and of like passions with you.” He added “Nevertheless I have prayed for you and for your husband’s household, that you may walk in peace according to your faith.” The tribune’s wife woke up and related the dream to her husband, who confirmed John’s appearance as she had perceived him. She sent her husband to thank him, convinced she had received a real blessing.
St John and Wepwawet
It is significant that this account of a dream visitation by an early Christian father lived in an Egyptian city most closely associated with astral travel. In Greek, Lycopolis means “City of the Wolf”. The “wolf” in question is the jackal- (or dog-) headed god Wepwawet, whose name means “Opener of the Ways” and historically is the gardien of the astral world.
The primary source on John of Lycopolis and his dream visitation is The History of the Monks of Egypt, an anonymous account of a journey by a group of seven brothers from a monastery on the Mount of Olives to the desert fathers in Egypt in the 380s. The author does not expound on the past history of Lycopolis, whose former residents included the great experiential philosopher Plotinus whose writings on astral projection is well documented.
But the world of the Monks of Egypt is a magical landscape where ascetic superheroes work miracles and operate on the astral as well as the physical plane. The desert holy men live in a separate reality.
Why the Church is against Astral Projection
The stance of the church is not, as many may think, a negative one. They simply believe that the gifts of the spirit are allocated to saintly people by the gifts of the spirit and in order to understand and control these gifts one has to reach a purified state. To meddle with forces and spiritual gifts beyond the range of normal life before one is ready can distract and cause damage to the person’s spiritual growth and return to God.
If the reasons behind any action are ego-centric, then they are never condoned by the official teachings of the church. So, there is no subversive or evil intention, by the Church, to hide or condemn the practice of astral projection. Their aim is the spiritual health of the soul and as such they would never promote the gifts of the spirit to an unclean person for fear of its negative affects.