Oliver Fox’s Astral Projection Experiences
OLIVER FOX’S EXPERIENCES
The only detailed, scientific and first-hand account of a series of conscious and voluntarily controlled astral projections which I have ever come across is that by Mr. Oliver Fox, published in the Occult Review for 1920 (pp. 256-264; 317-327). These articles were entitled, respectively, “The Pineal Doorway,” and “Beyond the Pineal Door,” and embody the author’s personal experiences. I shall endeavour to summarize very briefly – quoting a few especially important passages verbatim. Mr. Fox very logically begins by placing squarely before the reader the two alternate theories which might be advanced to account for his experiences.
These are (a) exceptionally vivid dreams, and (b) real projections. Which of these is the correct explanation? Mr. Fox admits that it is extremely difficult to prove the latter theory objectively, and therefore thinks it wiser to confine himself to a description of his own experiences and a summary of his own methods of development, hoping that others might possibly obtain the same results by following his advice, thereby proving the reality of astral projection for themselves. The first step (says Mr. Fox) consists in acquiring a certain dream control – but not the same kind of dream control as that detailed in the present book. It consists in acquiring, by observing some incongruity or anachronism, the knowledge that one is dreaming.
I quote Mr. Fox’s own words “Eighteen years ago, when I was a student at a technical college, a dream impelled me to start my research. I dreamed simply that I was standing outside my home. Looking down, I discovered that the paving stones had mysteriously changed their position the long sides were now parallel to the curb instead of perpendicular to it. Then the solution flashed upon me: Though that glorious summer morning seemed as real as real could be, I was dreaming! Instantly the vividness of life increased a hundredfold. Never had sea and sky and trees shone with such glamorous beauty; even the common place houses seemed alive and mystically beautiful. Never had I felt so absolutely well, so clear-brained, so divinely powerful. Verily the world had become my oyster. The sensation was exquisite beyond words; but it lasted only a few moments, and I awoke. As I was to learn later, my mental control had been overwhelmed by my emotions; so the tiresome body asserted its claim and pulled me back. And now I had a (to me) wonderful new idea: Was it possible to regain at will the glory of the dream? Could I prolong my dreams? It sounds simple; but in practice I found it one of the most difficult things imaginable. A hundred times would I pass the most glaring incongruities, and then at last some inconsistency would tell me that I was dreaming, and always the knowledge brought the change I have described. I found that I was then able to do little tricks at will – levitate, pass through seemingly solid walls, mould matter into new forms, etc.; but in these early experiments I could stay out of my body only for a very short time, and this dream consciousness could be acquired only at intervals of several weeks. To begin with, my progress was very slow; but presently I made two more discoveries: “The mental effect of prolonging the dream produced a pain in the region of the pineal gland – dull at first, but rapidly increasing in intensity – and I knew instinctively that this was a warning to me to resist no longer the call of my body. In the last moments of prolonging the dream, and while I was subject to the above pain, I experienced a sense of dual consciousness. I could feel myself standing in the dream and see the scenery; but at the same time I could feel myself lying in bed and see my bedroom. As the call of the body grew stronger the dream scenery became more faint; but by asserting my will to remain dreaming, I could make the bedroom fade and the dream-scenery regain its apparent solidity.” The thought then occurred to Mr. Fox: What would happen if he were to disregard this pain and force his dream-consciousness still further? Not without some trepidation, he finally did so; a sort of click occurred in his brain, and he found himself locked out in his dream. He no longer seemed connected with his physical body; the sense of dual consciousness vanished; the ordinary sense of time likewise disappeared, and he found himself free, in a new world. This was his first conscious projection. It lasted only a short time. Owing partly to the sense of utter loneliness, he experienced a sort of panic. Instantly, the same strange cerebral click was heard, and Mr. Fox found himself back in his physical body, completely cataleptic! Very gradually, he regained control of his organism, moving first one muscle and then another.
“Suddenly the trance broke, my eyes opened, and I was free. I jumped out of bed with great joy, and immediately collapsed upon the floor, being overwhelmed with nausea, I felt ill for two or three days afterwards. Just here, Mr. Fox enumerates what appear to him to be the possible dangers connected with these experiments. These are:
- Heart-failure, or insanity, arising from shock.
- Premature burial.
- Severance of cord.
- Repercussion effects upon the physical vehicle.
Of course, as Mr. Fox wisely remarks, the last three of these would be scorned by the orthodox scientist. It may be added here that all these dangers are more imaginary than real, and are dealt with very fully in the present book. The chief characteristics of these astral projections Mr. Fox summarizes thus:
- The body appears to be in a semi-rigid condition, which may approach in severity the seeming cataleptic state already described.
- Though the eyes are closed, the room is plainly visible; and the atmosphere also, so that one gets an effect rather like particles of dust illuminated by the sun – or roughly a golden glow, very variable in its intensity. Behind this, as it were, and only just on the border-line of visibility, is something like a mass of frog’s eggs, bluish-grey in colour and vibrating.
- Physical sounds are distinctly audible.
- In this condition one is liable to any imaginable hallucination or sight or sound; or, to voice the other view, one is both clairvoyant and clairaudient.
- In this condition, especially if it be mistaken for the waking state, one falls an easy prey to wild and unreasonable fear.
- One is conscious of strange atmospheric stresses – the before a storm feeling, but enormously intensified.
So far, Mr. Fox had never succeeded in effecting a true projection without any break in consciousness. He always felt that some one, or something, was holding him back. “It was like- getting past the Dweller on the Threshold. Then the solution of the problem suddenly occurred to him: “I had to force my incorporeal self through the doorway of the pineal gland, so that it clicked behind me. It was done, when in the trance condition, simply by concentrating upon the pineal gland and willing to ascend through it. The sensation was as follows: my incorporeal self rushed to a point in the pineal gland and hurled itself against the imaginary trap-door, while the golden light increased in brilliance, so that it seemed the whole room burst into flame. If the impetus was insufficient to take me through, then the sensation became reversed; my incorporeal self subsided and became again coincident with my body, while the astral light died down to normal. Often two or three attempts were required before I could generate sufficient will-power to carry me through. It felt as though I were rushing to insanity and death; but once the little door had clicked behind me, I enjoyed a mental clarity far surpassing that of earth-life. And the fear was gone, Leaving the body was then as easy as getting out of bed” (Mr. Fox, with admirable scientific caution, warns his readers against taking what he has said about the pineal gland too literally; but he asserts that these are the exact sensations, and he believes that what he has said is not far from the truth.) In the vast majority of his experiences, Mr. Fox asserts that there was a break in consciousness (seemingly, for only a few moments) between his attempt to enter the pineal door and his fully conscious state, outside the physical body. He did ultimately succeed, however, in attaining a number of projections, fully conscious from the beginning. As he himself states: “This, then, was the climax of my research. I could now pass from ordinary waking life into this new state of consciousness (or, from life to death) and return, without any mental break. It is easily written, but it took fourteen years to accomplish.”
Mr. Fox mentions three different methods of locomotion in the astral body. The first of these is Horizontal Gliding – “accomplished by a purely mental effort.” Usually this is easy, but when the pull of the cord is felt, it is anything but effortless; “it is as though one tugged against a rope of very strong elastic.” Mr. Fox also observed that whenever he was pulled back into the body, he had the sensation of being drawn backwards into it. (The reason for this feeling is fully explained in this book.) The second method of locomotion is a variety of levitation, very similar to the typical flying dream. This is described as easy and harmless. The third method is what Mr. Fox calls “Skrying,” and in this he appears to shoot upwards, like a rocket, with great velocity. For a discussion of this, see Steiner: Initiation and its Results; also my Higher Psychical ’ Development. See ‘the lengthy discussion of this point later on, in the present volume. It is described as “difficult and dangerous.” A typical experience of this sort is given in the article referred to. As to the people encountered in these astral trips, Mr. Fox notes the total absence of “elementals “or other terrifying beings, so often said to inhabit the Astral Plane; and the fact that he is nearly always invisible to them, though his presence may at times be felt. He points out, however, that this is always unfortunate, for when such is the case the entity is shocked and frightened, and this state produces a corresponding shock within himself, the result of which is to draw him back into his physical body immediately. (The reasons for all this will be made very clear in the text of the present book.) As to the scenery, this was almost always similiar to that seen on earth – though, of course, unfamiliar scenes were very common; probably more common than familiar ones. One very curious and unusual feature about Mr. Fox’s experiences is that he was never able to see his own body, when projected, though he could see his wife’s body, e.g. very plainly. This is almost the only instance on record, so far as I know, in which this has been the case. Generally, the physical body of the projector is the first object seen. In this, Mr. Fox’s experience is almost unique. On the whole, however, his impressions and experiences are quite typical, and tally with those of other investigators in this field, as will be brought out more fully later on. Lack of space unfortunately prevents me from recounting the very dramatic and extraordinary manner in which Mr. Fox lost this power, after having acquired it with so much effort and diligence. This may be found in full in the articles referred to, from which this summary has been drawn.
SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
I may perhaps conclude this section by giving a brief account of a few attempts of my own, made some years ago, at “astral pro- jection.” These were undertaken when I was experimenting in Yoga. On a number of occasions I “willed “to appear to a certain young lady – naturally quite psychic – just as I was falling to sleep. Most of these attempts were apparent failures, but on three occasions she awoke suddenly and saw me standing in the room or sitting on her bed. I remained visible for a few seconds, then “melted away.” I was quite unconscious of any seeming “success “on any occasion; I merely awakened in the morning as usual, not knowing whether anything had “happened “or not. These experiments extended over a period of several weeks, and it is hardly necessary to say that I never gave the slightest inkling of the times selected for trying these “projections.” Of course, while these may have been actual unconscious pro- jections, they may also have been purely subjective experiences – perhaps telepathically initiated. But one experience was quite striking, and should perhaps be recorded in greater detail.
I may state that the young lady in question is an accomplished pianist, and has a phenomenal musical memory. If she has once played or heard a piece of music, she never forgets it. This is important, for reasons which will be apparent later. One day I asked her if she had ever heard of an old song, “When Sparrows Build,” made famous years ago by Jenny Lind, and a favourite of my childhood days. She stated that she never had. I said that I would get and send her a copy some time, as I thought she would like it. That was all that was said about it at the time, and no particular importance was attached to it. A couple of nights later, I attempted to appear to her, and as usual awoke in the morning, without knowing whether my experiment had succeeded or not. A little later, I received a telephone call, and the young lady in question informed me that I had appeared to her the night before – rather more vividly than usual – and that she had thereupon been seized with the impulse to write automatically – the result being a verse of poetry. That afternoon I called, was told of the experience, was shown the poetry, and confess that I received quite a momentary thrill! The poetry consisted of the opening lines of the song “When Sparrows Build,” absolutely accurate, with the exception of one word! I merely record the above case for what it may be worth, since I can furnish no proof, and the whole incident may have been merely a case of remarkable sync. Personally, I doubt that it was. However, I shall not press the point, being content to record it, as illustrative of the curious results one is able to obtain while experimenting in this baffling field. As we have seen, other experimenters have had far more striking and convincing results. I must now draw this Introduction to a close. It has been my privilege to work with Mr. Muldoon throughout the writing and preparation of this book, and I have added a few foot-notes from time to time, and suggested certain experiments which might be tried or certain points which might be covered; apart from these the writing of the body of the book has been his work entirely, and I feel that the psychic world owes him a deep debt of gratitude for his self-sacrifice and determination, in undertaking the labour in- volved in writing it, when ill in bed and in great physical pain. I desire to record here my complete conviction of his sincerity, his truthfulness and his remarkably detached and scientific attitude toward his own experiences. All of which will, I feel assured, be evident in the book itself. It is a work of the utmost importance, and is just the sort of book for which psychic students, the world over, have long waited.