THE LITERATURE OF THE SUBJECT
Much has been written, in the past, concerning the Astral Body – mostly in books devoted to Magic and Occultism. I believe that I have gone through the majority of such works carefully, in my endeavour to find some practical information bearing upon this question, but with little result.
Thus, there are numerous references to the astral body in e.g. Eliphas Levi’s Doctrine and Ritual of Magic, in his Key of the Mysteries, in A. E. Waite’s Mysteries of Magic, and his Occult Sciences; in Dr. Franz Hartmann’s Magic, White and Black, and in the various writings of Paracelsus.
In the older works upon Sorcery and Witchcraft there are, of course, frequent allusions to astral projection. Theosophical literature is full of this subject, but even here I have been unable to find anywhere precise information – any practical instructions as to how is to be accomplished. This is true not only of the older works, such as Leadbeater’s The Astral Plane, and Annie Besant’s Man and his Bodies, but also the newer and more voluminous treatises, such as those of Major Arthur E. Powell – The Etheric Double, The Astral Body, The Mental Body etc. In all these books, much theoretical information is given (of course, from the strictly Theosophical point of view) but very little practical advice. The same criticism applies to D’Assier’s book Posthumous Humanity: A Study of Astral bodys. Some interesting spontaneous experiences are given in Little Journeys into the Invisible: A Woman’s Actual Experiences in the Fourth Dimension, by M. Gifford Shine; Some Occult Experiences, by Johan van Manen; My Travels in the Spirit World, by Caroline D. Larsen, and in other books of the kind; while some curious lore of a general nature is contained in The Astral Light, by Nizida. An interesting historic study of this subject is given in G. R. S. Mead’s Doctrine of the Subtle Body in Western Tradition, in which he summarizes the views of the early Fathers, as well as the later conceptions, Charles Hallock’s book Luminous Bodies: Here and Hereafter, contains little to the point. Occasional references to what Mr. Myers (in his Human Personality) called “Self Projection” may be found scattered through the Journals and Proceedings of the S.P.R., and the very striking case of Dr. Wiltse ( Proceedings , VIII, pp. 180-194) is, of course, classical. The case of the Rev. L. J. Bertrand (pp. 194-200) is also of considerable interest; while the same may be said of the case recorded by Dr. I. K. Funk, in his Psychic Riddle, pp. 179-185. Mr. A. Campbell Holmes has some remarks upon The Double in his Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy, while I have devoted chapters to the subject in my Modern Psychical Phenomena, and Higher Psychical Development. Several years ago, Mr. Prescot Hall published in the Journal of the A.S.P.R. a number of communications of considerable interest, which he had received regarding the astral body through the instrumentality of a blind medium. Their value, of course, depends altogether upon the authenticity of their source. This is practically all the published material which I have been enabled to find relative to the astral body and its projection, with the exception of Mr. Oliver Fox’s articles in the Occult Review, to be quoted presently, and two books in French. These are: Le Fantome des Vivants, by H. Durville, and Mdihode de Deboublement Personnel (Exterioration de la Neuricite: Sorties en Astral), by M. Charles Lancelin. These will be quoted and referred to more fully later on. But, as I have said, with these exceptions, I have found practically nothing of value in the entire literature of the subject; and this criticism is especially true when we come to the most important and central theme of all, viz. how to project the astral body experimentally and retain consciousness within it.
Upon this vital theme our authorities are especially silent! It is just here that Mr. Muldoon is most explicit. He explains in the greatest detail just how is to be effected, and he describes precisely what takes place in the subject’s mind and body during such a projection – together with many other details connected with the process. Any impartial reader will agree, I think, with the conclusion that it would be impossible for Mr. Muldoon to have written as he has – to have acquired this knowledge – without in some sense experiencing what he claims to have experienced. His reading upon the subject has been very scant; his contact with anyone liable to possess even a tithe of this information is next to impossible – when we take into account the fact that he lives in an obscure village in the Middle West. No; his knowledge has been gained at first-hand, and as the result of actual experimentation; that is very evident. How such information could have been acquired – had he not actually undergone these experiences – I leave it for the reader to decide. Extracts from these cases are given elsewhere.