Two Varieties of Projection
There are two types or varieties of astral projection: the spontaneous and the experimental. In the former, the individual undergoing the experience merely finds himself projected without knowing how or why; he finds himself outside his own physical body – which he can clearly see – but how he got there he does not know. This usually happens during a traumatic stock or illness.
In the latter, the experimenter makes a determined and voluntary effort to project usually to some definite locality and wakes up, to find himself there, or en route. Of course, the vast majority of such attempts end in failure; successes are extremely rare. Or the subject may be seen by some individual at the locality in question, and remain quite unconscious of his apparent success. Examples of all types or varieties of projection are to be found, together with an analysis of the modus operandi involved, and an explanation of the success or failure, as the case may be.
Let us consider, first of all, a few typical cases of spontaneous projection. This may occur, theoretically, when the subject is asleep, in trance, while under the influence of an anaesthetic, etc. Or it may occur when the subject is awake and conscious, but merely relaxed – at least at the beginning of the experience. A good illustration of this may be found in a book entitled My Travels in the Spirit World, by Caroline D. Larsen, where we read:
Suddenly I underwent a very strange experience. A feeling of deep oppression and apprehension came over me, not unlike that which precedes a fainting-spell. I braced myself against it, but to no avail. The overpowering oppression deepened, and soon numbness crept over me until every muscle became paralyzed. In this condition I remained for some time. My mind, however, was still working as clearly as ever. At first I heard the music (downstairs) plainly, but soon the sounds began to slip away from me by degrees until finally everything became a blank, and I was unconscious to the world. How long this state lasted I do not know. What happened during this period I am also unable to relate. The next thing I knew was that I, myself, was standing on the floor beside my bed looking down attentively at my own physical body lying in it. I recognized every line of that familiar face, pale and still as in death, the eyes tightly closed and the mouth partly open. The arms and hands rested limp and lifeless beside the body. I turned and walked slowly towards the door, passed through it and into a hall that led to the bathroom. Through force of habit I went through the motions of turning on the electric light, which, of course, I did not actually turn on. But there was no need for illumination, for from my body and face emanated a strong whitish light that lighted up the room brilliantly.
This example of a spontaneous out of body experience parallels the early experiences of Robert Monroe when it started to project without any control over the experience. Also we must note the similar reaction to many when to look upon their sleeping body. The stock of being mildly disgusted by their sleeping body is a key point to remember should you ever find yourself looking upon your sleeping self.
One of my own early experiences as I left my body was the moment I was floating over my body and my brother, with whom I shared a room, awoke in the the semi sleep state and looked at my floating body and started to scream. I quickly returned to my body at which point my parent came into the room and asked what happened. My brother sat up and apparently believed he must have had a bad dream, as he could not remember what had frightened him.
In the case published by Dr. I. K. Funk, in his Psychic Riddle, the writer describes how he lost control of his body by reason of a cold stiffness which spread over it, on a number of occasions before having his first conscious projection. On the occasion in question, after these preliminary symptoms, he first of all became momentarily unconscious:
“There came a flashing of lights in my eyes and a ringing in my ears, and it seemed for an instant as though I had become unconscious. When I came out of this state, I seemed to be walking in the air. No words can describe the exhilaration and freedom that I experienced. No words can describe the clearness of mental vision. At no time in my life had my mind been so clear or so free. I became conscious of being in a room and looking down on a body propped-up in bed, which I recognized as my own. I cannot tell what strange feelings came over me; I, this body, to all intents and purposes, looked to be dead. There was no indication of life about it, and yet here I was, apart from the body, with my mind thoroughly clear and alert, and the consciousness of another body to which matter of any kind offered no resistance. After what might have been a minute or two, looking at the body, I began to try and control it, and in a very short time all sense of separation from the physical body ceased, and I was only conscious of a directed effort toward its use. After what seemed to be quite a long time, I was able to move, got up from the bed and dress myself, and went down to breakfast. As to the criticism invariably advanced – that this was a mere vivid dream, the writer says: “I know that many people may think that the statements recorded here are simply the result of an active imagination or perhaps a dream, but they are neither the one nor the other. If the whole world were to rise up it would not make one particle of difference in my mind, as I am absolutely certain that I have been as free from my physical body as I ever will be, and that my life apart from it was far more wonderful than any life I have ever experienced in it.”
The case of Dr, Wiltse is very well known. It was first printed in the St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, November, 1889, and afterwards in Vol. VIII of the S.P.R. Proceedings. It was also published, in part, in Human Personality. In view of this, only a few brief extracts from this most interesting case will be given referring the reader to the above sources for the full account. After a few preliminary remarks and descriptions, Dr. Wiltse goes on to say:
“With all the interest of a physician I beheld the wonders of my bodily anatomy, intimately interwoven with which, even tissue for tissue, was I, the living soul of that dead body. I watched the interesting process of the separation of soul and body. By some power, apparently not my own, the Ego was rocked to an fro, laterally, as a cradle is rocked, by which process its connection with the tissues of the body was broken up. After a little time, the latter motion ceased, and along the souls of the feet, beginning at the toes, passing rapidly to the heels, I felt and heard, as it seemed, the snapping of innumerable small cords. When this was accomplished I began slowly to retreat from the feet, towards the head, as a rubber cord shortens. As I emerged from the head I floated up and down and laterally like a soap bubble attached to the bowl of a pipe until I at last broke loose from the body and fell lightly to the floor, where I slowly rose and expanded into the full stature of a man. I seemed to be translucent, of a bluish cast and perfectly naked. I directed my gaze (to the bed) and saw my own dead body. It was lying just as I had taken so much pains to place it, partially upon the right side, the feet close together, and the hands clasped across the breast. I was surprised at the paleness of the face. I turned and passed out of the open door.”
Dr. Wiltse then relates a number of mental experiences which he had during his extended trip including the perception of certain things which he did not know existed, but which were subsequently verified and found correct and, at the conclusion of his astral journey, he was suddenly arrested by what appeared to be a dense, black cloud: “A small, densely black cloud appeared in front of me and advanced toward my face. I knew that I was to be stopped. I felt the power to move or to think leaving me. My hands fell powerless to my sides, my shoulders and head dropped forward, the cloud touched my face and I knew no more”
When he regained consciousness, he was in his own physical body.
The case of the Rev. L. J. Bertrand, also given in Proceedings, Vol. VIII, p. 194, is thus summarized by Mr. Myers:
“During a dangerous ascent of the Titlis, Mr. Bertrand separated from his companions, sat down to rest, and became paralyzed by the cold. His head, however, remained clear, and he experienced the sensation described by Dr. Wiltse of passing out of his body and remained attached to it by a kind of elastic string. While in this condition, he had clairvoyant impressions about his absent companions, and much astonished them on their return by describing their doings to them. . . .”
Why some people have these experiences while the majority of people can go through life without any clear remembrance of similar events in their own lives, is, I believe, a reflection of the level of consciousness. The level of consciousness can be developed, thankfully, using many techniques of introspection, mindfulness and focussed exercises.