Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Astral Projection by Nicole Harrington

Astral Projection

by Nicole Harrington

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection: Secret Techniques Behind Astral Projection Revealed by Nicole Harrington.

At first this book seemed a little undersized: about 75 pages long, but you'll never guess what happened when I got halfway through it: It ended! That's right. About 32 pages into the book, it just abruptly ended. What filled the remaining pages? A second book called Procrastination by Warren R. Sullivan. That was a huge disappointment. It was not my only disappointment.

The margins are big and the font is big, which means there's almost no content at all. There aren't any page numbers, so it's impossible to reference.

The book has blatant misinformation. For example, she writes:
"You can touch and feel objects in the astral plane just as your physical body does in the physical world. But under normal circumstances, you cannot touch physical objects in the astral. Your astral body simply goes through such objects." (pg. ??)
No no no no no. That's wrong. In the OBE state, it's easy to stick your hand out and feel the texture of the walls (both inside and out!), the textures of the bed and sheets, and anything else. Robert Monroe described OBEs in which he felt the floor below him. Frederick Aardema did OBE experiments completely based on the sense of touch.

What "secret techniques" does she reveal? None, really. She talks about (1) visualization, vaguely. (2) Dreams conversion, vaguely. (3) Sounds frequency, vaguely, (4) Affirmations, vaguely, (5) Hypnosis, vaguely. Get the idea? She's really vague and lacking in detail.

For "advanced techniques" she gives: (1) The Monroe Technique, which is described so poorly, it's completely unrecognizable, (2) Lucid Dreams Technique, which is vague, (3) Muldoon's Thirst Technique, which is very poorly described (and even bordering on dangerous; dehydration is a serious problem not to be toyed with), (4) The Rope Technique (of Robert Bruce), which is very poorly described. The whole idea of the Rope technique is to use tactile imagination (rather than visualization), and the sense of imaginary touch, but she doesn't say a word about that.

There are no secret techniques revealed. It's all hype meant to sell the book. The few techniques she does give are described much better in other sources, most of which are available online for free.

The writing was immature. I didn't spot any typos or misspellings, but the grammar was horrible. Either Harrington wrote it in high school, or English is not her first language. For a grammar Nazi like me, it was painful to read. It was very wordy; every sentence was twice as long as it needed to be.  In his book On Writing, author Stephen King suggests you can (and should) cut at least 20 (or 25, I forget) percent of the words out of your initial draft without losing any meaning. Instead, this author's sentences are twice as long.

It was also filled with passive voice, the hallmark of an immature writer. For example, in her "Visualization" technique she writes:
"Imagine of a blank space and then your honeymoon destination. Visualize it and you could feel like your destination is somewhere close to a place you already know." (pg. ??)
Gack!

There aren't even any OBE narratives to give it a feeling of credibility.

I give this book a thumbs-down. It's not even worth considering.

Bob Peterson
April 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: Journey Into the Unknown by D.V. Nobles

Review: Journey Into the Unknown

by D.V. Nobles

Today I'm reviewing the book Journey Into the Unknown: The Mystery of the Out of Body Experience by D.V. Nobles.

This book is fairly recent. The author, a mature man, only recently stumbled upon OBEs in November, 2014, when he had one by accident. Earlier in his life, he had experienced sleep paralysis (SP), but it never led him to OBEs, unlike Daniel Kai, who learned to leverage SP to induce OBE. Kai advocated a bit of sleep deprivation, but oddly, Nobles says just the opposite:
"I also noticed that if I do not get enough sleep during the night, I will not be able to have an experience. The only thing that happens in this case is that I fall asleep and dream." (pg. 11)

The fact that Nobles had his first real OBE when he was 48 should be encouraging to older people (like me!) who may think OBEs get harder as you get old. Don't forget: Robert Monroe had his first OBEs after he retired.

Here's another point where Nobles contradicts the general consensus:
"There are many people who believe that our souls leave our bodies or we astral project while sleeping, but we are unaware of it. I do not believe this is the case at all." (pg. 22)
I disagree with Nobles and side with the consensus, but it's not just a matter of conjecture for me: I've personally seen it. Many times I've "woken up" in the middle of the night, or during a dream, only to find myself floating above my physical body. Maybe it's not enough to say we do it "every night" but it sure seems like "business as usual" to me when it happens.

In the Questions and Answers section, Nobles answers this question:
"Will I encounter angels, demons or other spiritual entities?
These types of encounters have been reported during astral travel and near-death experiences. I have not had any of these types of encounters during my etheric travel. If this changes, it would be very humbling for me to encounter an angel." (pg. 43)
Well, I guess I haven't encountered "angels" or "demons" either, but perhaps it's a matter of interpretation. I have encountered "angelic entities," ones that seem to be "guides," and of course the invisible helpers, who I think are probably what many would call angels. None of them had wings. I've (rarely) seen hideous looking creatures that seemed to be malign, but I don't tend to label them as demons. I think it's all about your belief system and the label you want to apply: one man's demon is another man's Djinn, if you know what I mean. And as for "other spiritual entities" there are plenty of those. I tend to think Nobles just needs a few more years of experience. Maybe we'll read about them in a sequel.

Here's another interesting entry from Questions and Answers:
"How long does an OBE last?
Again, this varies among different people. Not many people talk about the actual amount of time their experience lasts. For me, it takes approximately 45 to 50 minutes of preparation and the experience itself lasts for 10 or 15 minutes, often broken into a number of separate experiences. The longest time I have been 'out there', I would estimate at less than 20 minutes." (pg. 46)
Again, this might be a matter of experience. The 45 to 50 minute prep time is about what it takes me too (although sometimes, rarely, I've popped out right away). While most of my OBEs are quite short, I'd estimate the longest I've been out was about two and a half hours.

Like many OBE authors before him, Nobles spent a fair amount of time trying to establish proof that his OBEs were veridical or "real" (had a basis in the physical world). He had his wife write a random 5-digit number on a piece of paper and set it on the ceiling fan in their bedroom. He was not successful in his many attempts, although it did yield some interesting results. In many cases, he was misdirected, or the ceiling fan seemed to be missing. On one occasion:
"I was able to get the numbers '5512' or '55', '1' and '2'. When I checked the actual envelope, the number on it was '72951'. I was disappointed, but then I realized that all my numbers actually existed in the real set of numbers." (pg. 54)
He presents some discussion on why he had such problems. It was interesting, but not as insightful as the discussion in Frederick Aardema's book Explorations In Consciousness, which I think is the gold standard.

This is a fairly simple OBE book; there's not much to distinguish it from other OBE books. The most interesting thing I found was his discussion on how to clear your mind while trying to induce an OBE. In my books, I called it "quiescing" the mind, but it's hard to explain. In Nobles' discussion, he says that you "Do not allow your thoughts to fully form." He goes on to describe it like this:
"What I mean by this is that when you think of something, it will cause you to thing of something else and so on, causing a full thought pattern. Try to get into the habit of cutting off a thought and letting a separate one appear in its place. If you form complete thought patterns, it will stimulate you to stay in your fully conscious state." (pg. 63)
The way I interpret that is: Prevent the "train" of thought. You want to completely derail that train, leaving nothing but box cars on the track. Or as some people say, "being" versus "doing." He gives a good example of a normal thought pattern compared to a disjointed (derailed) one:
"Normal thought pattern: Oh, the car is low on gas. I need to stop by the gas station next time I go out. Gas is getting so expensive now. I have to check my bank account to see if I have enough money for the light bill. I wonder if I should change my lights to those new eco-friendly bulbs that..."
"Disjointed thought patterns:
1. Oh, the car is low on...
2. I really like my new job, but...
3. I wonder if the cat...
4. I'm going to focus on the darkness and...
5. It was so funny yesterday when..." (pg. 64)
It takes time and experience to stop your thoughts completely for any length of time, but this processing of learning to derail the train of thought is a valuable step toward that. Very insightful.

As far as OBE techniques, Nobles offers three:
  1. The window of opportunity.
  2. Waking the non-physical body.
  3. Mental projection and visualization.
All of these techniques are meant to be preceded by a set of 14 preparation steps, like healthy eating and sleeping habits, lying still, relaxation, breathing normally, and so forth. They're all pretty basic techniques.

This is a medium-short book: 88 pages long, with a smallish font and small margins, which means there's a decent amount of content. It's not a long read, but I did not feel shortchanged either.

The writing is mature, but not highly polished. There were only a couple things that annoyed me as a Grammar Nazi: (1) he used the possessive form "OBE's" where he meant the plural "OBEs" and (2) he misspelled the word hypnagogic as "hypnogogic." (I think I screwed that up in my first book too; which may explain why I became a grammar Nazi.) Other than that, there were very few mistakes.


I give this book a thumbs up. It has a level-headed approach to the topic (neither too skeptical, nor too gullible). It has the thrill and excitement of discovery, but only one or two OBE narratives. It's not as long or as good as the first books by Robert Monroe, William Buhlman, Sylvan Muldoon, Daryl Berry, Frederick Aardema, and others, but I did enjoy it.

Three and a half stars (out of five).

Bob Peterson
12 April 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The "Almost Move" Technique

The "Almost Move" Technique

by Bob Peterson

Different people require different techniques in order to induce OBEs. What works for one person often doesn't work for another. So I'm always researching new OBE techniques, not only by reading OBE books, but also experimenting with new techniques.

Here is a simple OBE technique I've used a few times lately, with a fair amount of success. I won't claim to have invented it, but I don't recall many other authors talking about it.

Step 1 - Preparation.

As usual, make your attempts in the morning when you're fresh and not sleepy. Choose a quiet and distraction-free location. Lie down on your back, face up, hands comfortably resting on your hips. Take a few deep breaths.

Step 2 - Close your Eyes and Relax Completely.

Close your eyes and relax your body as much as possible. If possible, relax your body until you can't even feel your body anymore.

Step 3 - Imagine Your Body Is Paralyzed.

When your body is totally relaxed, imagine that your body is paralyzed. It doesn't need to be paralyzed; you just need to imagine that it is.

Step 4 - Pick a Part of your Body to Move.

This will probably work with any body part, but for now, I recommend one of three methods of movement. Either:
  1. Pick both shoulders to be moved simultaneously up and down (not shrugging, but similar to throwing the shoulders forward).
  2. Pick to move the left shoulder, then the right shoulder (almost like pivoting), alternating.
  3. Pick to move both arms, pivoting at the elbows.

I've had success with all three, but I prefer #2.

Step 5 - Drift down into a light trance.

Once you've picked a type of movement, just let your mind relax and let go, drifting off into a light trance where you're staring off into space.

Step 6 - Imagine Moving Those Body Parts An Infinitesimal Amount.

Here's where things get tricky and hard to explain. You want to come as close as you can to moving the body parts you've chosen in step 4, without actually moving them. You want to try to physically move your physical body, but only the tiniest amount you can possibly imagine. How tiny? You don't want to move a hundredth of an inch (or centimeter); that's too much. You don't want to move your body a thousandth of an inch (or centimeter); that's too much. Even a millionth of an inch (or centimeter) is too much. In fact, the amount you want to move is exactly zero inches (zero centimeters).

Every time you move your shoulders (or arms) like this, use your intent: Intend that your astral body moves rather than the physical, and imagine that it's physically moving.

Repeat this over and over: moving your shoulders (or pivoting your arms at the elbows) zero inches, with the intent of your astral body moving.

Alternative method: If you have a hard time imagining that your body is moving forward and backward, instead, pretend that someone (like a helper or guardian angel) is hovering above you, and they repeatedly push your left shoulder down, then your right shoulder down, then repeat that motion so that it seems like they are almost rocking you to sleep by pressing on your shoulders.

If you can imagine this vividly enough, this method can move your astral body out of alignment from your physical body. Either that or it can also induce the vibrations. From there, you can follow my advice on What To Do When The Vibrations Hit.

29 March 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: Wake Up Church!

Review: Wake Up Church!


by Marilyn Schrock

Today I'm reviewing Wake Up Church! The Enemy Is Within Your Gates: Astral Projection and the Church by Marilyn Schrock.

A Facebook friend told me about this book; I was previously unaware of its existence. Naturally, I had to buy it for my collection. It's a small book in physical size,and only 70 pages long.

Make no mistake: This book teaches that Astral Projection is evil, evil, evil. But since I always try to keep an open mind, I'm willing to examine the evidence. If astral projection is evil, I want to know exactly why, and I want substance to back it up. I've had many conversations with many Christians over the years and none have managed to convince me.

Nearly two years ago, in April, 2014, I wrote an article on my blog titled Are OBEs Against Christianity? In one word: No. I ended the article with these words:
"...don't tell me OBE is evil or against the Bible unless you have specific biblical passages to back it up....If you do, send them to me, because I'd love to know: bob@robertpeterson.org"

So when I heard about this book, I thought, "Okay, Marilyn Schrock, you say Astral Projection is evil, so bring it on. Convince me. Let's see what evidence you use to support your claims."

Does Schrock have any biblical passages to back up her claims? No. Not one. Sure, she presents plenty of biblical passages from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, but none of them talk about astral projection. Not even close. With a genuine desire to learn, every time I read a reference from the Bible, I brought out my handy dandy KJV Bible and looked it up (I always carry several versions of the Bible with me at all times: It's an app on my phone). Every single Bible passage she referenced: not one shred of evidence points to OBEs being evil. So let's get into the thick of it, shall we?

In chapter 1, What Is Astral Projection, Schrock writes:
"The astral projector goes illegally into the spirit world." (pg. 3)
And yet she does not cite which law is being broken, nor any Biblical passage to back up her claim. She writes:
"Some astral projectors claim they only do "white" or good projection while other astral projectors do "black" or evil projection." (pg. 5)
I've read almost 200 books on astral projection, and I've not seen that claim once, nor have I heard such a thing in any of the 36 years of conversations I've had on the topic with people, including many famous astral projectors like William Buhlman, Albert Taylor, and Kurt Leland. She claims:
"Astral projection is a very real and serious enemy of the church. Isaiah 59:19 promises us, 'When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.'" (pg. 7)
But she doesn't say what makes it a threat, and again, no passages from the Bible to support her claim. While Isaiah 59:19 is cited, the actual passage has nothing to do with astral projection. She claims:
"Those with unholy soul ties, pawns of projectors and astral projectors have their real voices overridden and shut down by the demonic. Their "yea" is not a yea and their "nay" is not a nay (James 5:12, KJV). James also tells us a double-minded man will receive nothing from the Lord (James 1:7-8)" (pg. 17)
But Neither James 5:12 nor James 1:7-8 says anything about astral projection. She claims:
"Astral projection is a high form of witchcraft. It is strictly forbidden by Scripture and is rebellion and lawlessness (1 Sam 15:23)." (pg. 21)
But that passage at 1 Samuel 15:23 says:
 "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hast also rejected thee from being king." (1 Sam 15:23)
I also read several passages before and after this quote, and it says absolutely nothing about astral projection or out-of-body experiences. Her claims about astral projection being a high form of witchcraft are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated. I've never practiced witchcraft a day in my life, and the Bible never calls it out as witchcraft. She claims:
"The Harry Potter book and movie series are primers on witchcraft. These books and movies have astral projection throughout them. Yet, these books are touted as good children's literature--to deceive even the elect (Matt. 24:24.) One intercessor and leader said, "With Harry Potter, now astral projection is out of the closet." (pg. 27)
Really? I haven't read all the Harry Potter books, but I have seen all the movies and I don't recall astral projection in a single one of them. Even if there was, it's fiction: it proves nothing. She says:
"In reality, it costs a high price. You can lose your soul and hell awaits." (pg. 27)
Again, there's no passage in the Bible to back up this ridiculous claim. She claims:
"All astral projection is a form of witchcraft. Witchcraft is from the pit of hell and the devil. There is no gray area." (pg. 31)
Again, she gives no passage in the Bible to back up this claim.

In chapter 10, ("Astral Projection Provides the Cover to Commit The 'Perfect Crime') she talks about a Jamaican pastor who supposedly gave her a lot of "information" about astral projection. He taught her:
"The astral projector has to pay money to their demons to keep their powers. The demon requires a specific amount and it must be paid on time! The astral projector has to lay the cash in a specific place in their home for the demon to come and pick it up at a set time. This is essential or the demon attacks the astral projector. This is why astral projectors always say they are broke no matter how much money they earn. They can't keep it." (pg. 38)
Wow. That's quite a claim. Again, in almost 200 books and countless conversations, I've never heard of such a payment. I've certainly never laid out cash for a demon, and I've never been attacked as she describes. I've certainly never been broke either; I've always had a good job in the computer industry and never had money problems since college. I've never once said I was broke. Maybe they run things differently in Jamaica? Her claims get even more absurd. The same Jamaican pastor taught that:
"The astral projector must kill a family member with astral projection to gain power. (There is a similar requirement to becoming a witch doctor in Ghana, West Africa...)" (pg. 38)

She also claims:
"Pastor told us that astral projectors can turn themselves into animals, frogs, lizards, etc., to gain access and open doorways into others' life and property." (pg. 39)
Although there are occasional reports of astral shape-shifting, it's not a matter of gaining access to anything, since in the out-of-body state, you could just stroll right into people's private lives regardless. Unless she means physically, right? If so, I've never heard such a ridiculous claim.

In chapter 11 ("Come Out From Among Them") she tries to claim that astral projectors have relationship problems, and that it even leads to abuse. She says, for example:
"Anyone who has been married to an astral projector knows that to leave will bring on reprisal and retaliation. There is a fierce battle that goes on and they have great fear." (pg. 41)
Again, this is a ridiculous claim. I've never come across a single correlation between astral projection and abuse. I've certainly never abused my wife, nor she me, but more about my marriage later.

In chapter 13 ("How to Overcome Astral Projector Attackers") she claims:
"Astral projection qualifies as a work of the devil! It is evil!" (pg. 53)
Again, no Bible passages are given to substantiate her outrageous claims. In nearby passages, she quotes Luke 10:17-19 but those passages say absolutely nothing about astral projection.

In chapter 14 ("How to Set Captives Free From Astral Projection") she writes:
"Astral projectors are deceived because astral-projecting demons have held captive, kidnapped, bound up, and tied together the projector's soul and spirit into one unit and project out both together." (pg. 59)
Like her other claims, this is given as a statement of fact with nothing behind it. As a matter of fact, most astral projectors claim a separation between the astral body, etheric body, and other bodies. Nothing "bound up" about it! She claims:
"Astral projection is the UTMOST rebellion against the Lord and against His creation because it is against the image of God in man. Astral projectors deceive others, but they are the ones who are most deceived. They came into agreement with astral projection, but they did not bargain for their soul and spirit to be kidnapped and held captive." (pg. 60).
Again, this blanket statement is completely unsubstantiated, without a single citation from the Bible. On the next page, she states:
"Although astral projectors can use Christian gifts because the gifts and callings are without repentance (Rom. 11:29, KJV), they walk as divided people and are split into more than one personality." (pg. 61)
I don't know of a single study that suggests any correlation between astral projection and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) also known as MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). If such a correlation existed, it would surely have been cited in the excellent book With The Eyes of the Mind by professional psychiatrists Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow, which is pretty much dedicated to scientifically comparing out-of-body experiences to personality disorders (none of which have a correlation, by the way).

On page 61, Schrock also makes this ridiculous claim:
"A bound, held-captive projector cannot share their soul or spirit with their spouse or family. Their relationships are shallow and unfulfilling due to a lack of intimacy because of their soul and spirit have been kidnapped by demons." (pg. 61)
False. My wife Kathy and I have happily been married since 1992. In May, 2016, it will be 24 years, and we're still best friends. We never fight and we cuddle every day. For ten years we commuted to the same job (a computer programming department of two), shared the same office, and pretty much spent 23 hours a day together (the 24th hour was a half-hour for each of us to shower). Does this photo from 2009 look like an abusive or unhappy marriage to you?
How about this one from February, 2016?
Well-known OBE author Jurgen Ziewe has been happily married longer than I have. I'm pretty sure William Buhlman's marriage has been a long one too.

The bottom line is: If there was anything in the Bible condemning astral projection or out-of-body experience--or even casting it in a negative light--Schrock would have cited it. Since she didn't, I can only assume that either she doesn't know the Bible very well, or there's nothing in there to reflect negatively on it. I've certainly never found anything, and I've studied the Bible a lot.

With lack of substantial evidence, she's forced to use the only weapon she has: Unsubstantiated claims, which she makes plenty of.

Where did she get the disinformation she's spreading? Certainly not through direct experience, which is where I get most of my information on OBEs. Certainly not from the Bible, or she would have cited it. As far as I can tell, it comes from other similarly brainwashed Christians. She cites a few other authors like Rebecca Brown's book "Prepare for War" and personal conversations with other pastors and "intercessors" as she likes to call them.

As far as I can tell, the sole purpose of this book is to spread FUD, an acronym we use in the computer industry that stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, which is how some companies try to discredit their competition with negativity. Don't fall for it. In the New Testament of the Bible it says:
"15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:15-16)
Now ask yourself: What are the fruits of astral projectors? I've never met one person who tried to use it for harm. Most of us use it to explore the afterlife, to become closer to God, to seek the truth, or to deepen their spiritual understanding. Those are the "fruits" of astral projection.

Make no mistake: the only reason radical Christians view OBEs as evil is because it poses a threat: they want a monopoly on spirituality. They know that if you learn how to see the afterlife for yourself--to get your own truth--you won't need them or their ministries. So they put up a wall of fear and disinformation.

The difference between us is this: I will never tell you what to believe; I'll tell you to find the truth for yourself, and try to provide the tools with which you can do so. They'll tell you what to believe.

By the way, not all Christians believe OBEs are evil. There are some very Christian-oriented OBE organizations. One that comes to mind is the Out of Body Travel Foundation founded by Marilynn Hughes, author of many OBE books.

Some people (myself included) have claimed to have used OBEs to contact Jesus Christ himself. For more information, read this article: http://obeoutlook.blogspot.com/2015/12/meeting-jesus-christ-face-to-face.html

This book gets a HUGE thumbs down for disinformation, unsubstantiated claims, and spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). It's hard to imagine sane people can even think that way. And again, I reiterate: If you think OBEs or astral projection are somehow evil or against Christianity, and you have solid evidence to back up that claim, by all means let me know. Until then, I will view OBEs are the very best tool we have for spiritual growth.

Bob Peterson
22 March 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Between the Gates by Mark Stavish

Review: Between the Gates

by Mark Stavish

Today I'm reviewing Between the Gates: Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism by Mark Stavish. It's a big book, so it's a long book review (sorry!).

There are many approaches to out-of-body experiences, but very few come from the perspective of Western Esotericism in the truest sense. I can only think of one other offhand: Francis King's Techniques of High Magic. That's not counting some better-known "little-explanation" occultists like Ophiel (Marcel Louis Forhan).

In a different book review I mentioned that Jill Lowy's Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection tries to bridge the gap between modern OBE literature and Western Esotericism. Mark Stavish's book is no bridge: it's way deeper into it than Lowy was. What is Esotericism? As Stavish explains it:
"...the study of the cosmos and humanity's place in it, and occultism is the practical application of esoteric philosophy." (pg. 16)

Many people are afraid of anything labeled "occult" or think it's associated with evil, the Devil, or dark magic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is nothing Satanic or dark about this book. It's just an OBE recipe book based on age-old traditions from a grab-bag of esoteric sources.

Most "new age" approaches to the OBE are based on Eastern mysticism: Yoga-based meditation, energizing chakras, breath-work (Pranayama), Energy/Chi/Qi circulation, visualizations, and so forth. This book is based more on Western mysticism: Kabballah, and Christian mysticism, and with it, more ritual-based meditation. There is some overlap, but also some surprising differences.

Stavish won my heart right away with stellar quotes. This quote is long, but it's so good I want to share the whole thing:
"Once someone has genuinely encountered the spiritual dimensions of life, the physical one takes on greater vibrancy and, at the same time, less importance. A balance is struck between the importance of experience and the ultimate experience of Being."
"This balance can only be achieved on a personal level. Spirituality is a personal journey of Becoming, and requires commitment and dedication--and a good dose of courage. The methods described in this book have survived under the heels of repressive religious and political institutions for well over a thousand years. In this century alone, National Socialism and communism (Soviet as well as Maoist style) have done more to endanger the spiritual health of the world than Roman Catholic inquisitors or Protestant witch hunters ever did. Even now we are faced with the ultimate fruit of religious teachings that strip the individual of the responsibility of creating a meaningful personal, progressive, interior experience for themselves. Fundamentalism in various forms seeks to turn back the clock in nations around the world. Some of them want a return to the sixth century, and advance their goal through ruthless violence, others through more subtle tact of school boards and soup-kitchen proselytizing. Lesser cults confine themselves to simply buying entire towns in the northwest United States or building bunkers for the end of days. In the end it will not be politics or force of arms that wins the day, but the individual who is unafraid of death, not because of unquestioned teachings, but from direct experience." (pg. xiii)

Here's another quote I really liked, which reminded me of Tom Campbell's "My Big Toe" (which is still on my "must read" pile):
"We could say, simplistically, that Creation is a giant hologram over which we have far more influence than is generally understood or believed. Through proper training, each human being has the potential to be an active creator within this holographic structure (even to the degree that their very thoughts can materialize), thereby increasing their physical, emotional, and mental wholeness." (pg. 44)

I admittedly got into this book with unrealistic expectations. I expected to find deep dark "occult" rituals that were not well explained and had no basis in reality. I expected pentagrams, secret signs, and obscure rituals that had been passed down for hundreds of years from the Rosicrucians, the Golden Dawn and various secret societies, without any basis in modern critical thinking. I was wrong. I expected the obscure and hard-to-understand, but Stavish brings a difficult subject down to Earth beautifully.

Stavish does an amazing job of providing modern explanations of occult principles for people who never studied Western Esotericism. For example, on page 10, he explains the "Guardian of the Threshold" as:
"...the collective energies of our subconscious, the summation of our past experiences in this life and all others, in a single form. This form is our creation and is our personal "devil." It is our judge and jury and also the means by which we understand the purpose of our life. It is this internal, emotional incongruity that is the source of all failure in occult practices and in material circumstances."
"Confidence or an overwhelming positive certitude is required for occult practice to succeed. If we are mentally positive, but emotionally conflicted, then we will fail. Emotions win over ideas every time." (pg. 11)

He explains that there are three main branches of Western Esotericism: Alchemy, Qabala (another way to spell Kabballah), and Astrology, although astrology isn't used for OBEs.

He also explains that there are three types of practioners: the Mystic (or Shaman), the Sage (Priest, Priestess, or Prophet), and the Magus (Magician or Occultist).

He refers to three levels of self: a "Higher Self," a "Middle Self" and a "Lower Self". The Middle Self is the ego we're most familiar with. The Higher Self is the divine self, the God-connected self, or what some call the Holy Guardian Angel. The Lower Self is the animal self that deals with fulfilling worldly needs: breathing, material instincts, and hereditary issues.

He explains the basics of the Kabbalah (ancient Jewish mysticism) and its "tree of life," a diagram used as a kind of map to traverse the non-physical worlds. With this model, according to Stavish, there are:
"...four worlds and ten levels of consciousness, for a total of forty potential specific areas of consciousness, in which to experience a greater degree of complexity and unity of life." (pg. 29)

He explains the various traditions of Western esotericism and how many of them go back to the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus; also known as Hermeticism. He talks a lot about organizations like the Golden Dawn and the Rosicrucians, and even Theosophy. He explains how all this relates to OBEs. But you've got to be into the esoteric to really appreciate it.

He spends a fair amount of time teaching you the Kabbalistic names for the different worlds, the names of God in the Jewish tradition, and the importance of words and names: How they act as a lever for the subconscious.

Many readers are trying to achieve astral projection, and different people need different methods. Some people can achieve focus through meditation or self-hypnosis, while others require rigorous training of the subconscious. That's where "ritual" comes in. Rituals are the mainstay of the occultist. Performing a ritual tells your subconscious "Now I mean business" and demands its attention and cooperation. (That's also why religions are big into rituals.) In my opinion, most of the rituals are geared toward personal empowerment: convincing yourself (more importantly, your subconscious) that you have the power and fortitude to achieve OBE, and that you should accomplish it; that it's your God-given right.
These rituals are not to be undertaken lightly. Stavish explains that you need to be careful about it, to approach it with reverence (again, aimed at the subconscious), and lots of time and dedication. You can't do a ritual once or twice and expect to leave your body. This isn't a 30-day or 90-day program. This is a long dawn-out process that may take years. To give you an idea: In just one of the exercises, he writes:
"It is desirable to spend at least seven cycles (nights) with each planetary symbol, or between six and seven weeks total, working with them as you fall asleep. Added to the previous four or five weeks working with the Elements, this makes nearly three months of nightly work." (pg. 68)
Stavish gives a lot of rituals (one or more for every chapter), but he doesn't just throw them out there like some books. He explains the theory behind the rituals in modern terms. Every ritual is carefully organized into sections:  Preparation, Explanation, Type of Practice, Method, and Incorporation into Daily Practice.

I'd estimate that about a third of the book is devoted to rituals. The rituals aren't all designed to induce OBEs, but he does include several for that purpose. Many of them are just "groundwork," or the basics. His OBE-specific rituals are:
  1. Exteriorization Within the Aura
  2. Using a Pentagram, Aleph, or Shin
  3. Using a Tarot Card
  4. The "Rising on the Planes" technique, of which he states:
"Rising on the Planes constitutes, in many ways, the single most important technique there is in operative magic." (pg. 114)
Many of these rituals involve a concept of the "Body of Light". This is sort of unique to this path and isn't found in many other OBE books. A lot of the rituals are dedicated to "building" or "constructing" a Body of Light to be used as a vehicle for consciousness. Also known as a "simulacrum," this Body of Light can be influenced by outside forces, and can even start to take on a personality of its own. Stavish cautions the reader to keep firm control over the simulacrum, making sure to absorb it back into your body at the end of every ritual. But it is not the same as the astral body. He quotes a book by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki:
"...Some think that it is the same as the astral body, but it is in fact quite different. The astral is an etheric form common to everyone, a Magical Personality is acquired through practice and concentration. The Body of Light is deliberately built for a purpose, another term for it is "cowan." It is not easily formed, some people never manage it, or at least not fully, and once it is formed it can be troublesome, and requires firm handling." (pg. 139)

He goes on to say:
"Ashcroft-Nowicki further states that the Body of Light can acquire a kind of self-consciousness after a period of development." (pg. 139)
There's also a notion that the Body of Light should be built and prepared as a vehicle of consciousness for the next life, the life after death. He states:
"Once freed from the material body, the consciousness of the Middle Self (Ruash) is destabilized as it enters a new environment, unless there has been significant training in meditation, lucid dreaming, astral projection, creating the Body of Light, or practices around death and dying prior to one's death." (pg. 191)
He actually has a fair amount of material devoted to the subject of death, how to prepare for it, and how to help others with their transition. I personally don't agree with much of this discussion; I believe that some form of consciousness and personality survives death, even if you don't spend time building a Body of Light. That's just based on the fact that I've had countless OBEs despite having never performed the rituals, nor tried to consciously build a Body of Light.

Stavish also spends a fair amount of time talking about the infamous occult figure Aleister Crowley (who called himself the Beast of the apocalypse from Revelations), and his views on astral projection, which I found fascinating. He made Crowley sound almost like an ordinary guy who was just trying to share "secret" occult methods with the world; kind of the Edward Snowden of occultism.

Unfortunately, Stavish does not give any OBE narratives or personal experiences, so all this discussion and all these rituals became--for me--just theories and conjecture.

Although this was a fascinating and educational look into the world of Western Esotericism and how it relates to OBEs, I tend to think it's a bit too complex for the typical OBE reader who just wants a taste.

This is a good sized book: The pages are large, the print and margins are comfortable, and it's 243 pages, so it takes a while to read. Due to the subject matter, it takes a while longer to digest. It is professionally and expertly written. There were almost no mistakes, typos or grammar problems. It's also expertly organized. Every chapter also includes a summation of "Key Points" which are very helpful.

I give this book a thumbs up, but only for a limited target audience. If you're into rituals, the occult, and Western Esotericism, this book is for you. If you're not into regimented rituals, look elsewhere. If you're a dabbler, just curious, or just want some basic information on OBEs, this is the wrong book for you.

Bob Peterson
08 March 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Astral Projection by Daniel Kai

Review: Astral Projection

by Daniel Kai


Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection: Interdimensional Guide for Out of Body Experiences by Daniel Kai.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the cover: It's almost identical to the cover of Kensho's book Out of Body Experiences. Same woman, different background. See for yourself:


This is another small book. It's just 42 pages long. The font is decent and the margins are small, but there's just not a lot of content. Still, it's a lot bigger (and a lot better) than Michele Gilbert's book which I reviewed last time. And unlike Gilbert's book, it has some very interesting things to say.

Kai starts out talking about the difference between astral projection, regular dreaming, lucid dreaming, and remote viewing. Throughout the text, he uses the terms "astral projection" and "out of body experience" interchangeably (as I do). The only thing I found odd and contradictory about this discussion is what he says about remote viewing. He says:
"Remote viewing is one form of astral projection; it is the phenomenon whereby an individual can become aware of information at another location..." (pg. 10)
But then he says:
"...but almost universally it is accepted that it does not involve projecting your consciousness outside of your body and to another location...the consciousness stays put in the physical body." (pg. 11)
Chapter 2 is titled "Is Astral Projection Safe?" In one word: Yes. It is a legitimate concern, but: yes.

Chapter 3 is "A Very Brief History of Out of Body Experiences". Like Gilbert, this discussion is small and lacking, but he does a better job than Gilbert. He does talk about Incubi and Succubi (male and female sexual demons traditionally seen in bouts of sleep paralysis). In my opinion (only) they are, in almost all cases, manifestations of subconscious fears, but it's always best to be very cautious with the "astral wildlife," as Robert Bruce likes to call it.

Chapter 4 is "A Closer Look at Sleep Paralysis". This is where the book gets interesting. It becomes more and more clear that Daniel Kai approaches the out-of-body experience mainly from awareness during sleep paralysis ("ASP"). That's his main thing. So let's talk about ASP.

Kai writes as if sleep paralysis will free you from your body and from there, you're simply free to roam. In my experience, it's not that easy. I've had countless bouts of ASP, and although I'm technically in an OBE state, I'm usually glued tightly to the physical body, and unable to move, either astrally or physically. This is a serious problem Kai fails to mention. For me it was extremely frustrating, because I could induce "normal" OBEs directly from a waking state, with full mobility, but with ASP, I was stuck to my physical body and completely unable to move. Until, after twenty years of experimentation, I finally discovered the secret of how to get my astral body unstuck and turn ASP into OBE. It's all documented in this short article I wrote in 2002: What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs. You basically need to close your (astral) eyes and push your awareness forward as hard as possible, using your imagination to propel yourself blindly forward. Even though you can't see, blatantly ignore if your senses tell you you're still stuck to your body. Keep pushing forward and know in your heart that your astral body is moving, and keep your eyes shut. Once you're safely 15 feet (5 meters) away from your body (what Muldoon would say is out of "cord activity range") you can open your eyes and you're free to roam.

Now that you know the secret, here's where Daniel Kai's book shines.

In chapter 6, ("The Author's Perspective") he reveals a first pivotal clue. He states:
"More often than not, I noticed that my sleep paralysis episodes happened at times when I had been very busy at work, so I was quite sleep deprived." (pg. 27)
Chapter 7 is "How to Induce Your Own Out of Body Experiences." He lists three methods to induce an OBE: (1) The "day nap" method, (2) The "electric blanket" method, and oddly enough, (3) Magic mushrooms.

Let's eliminate magic mushrooms (psilocybin) right away. It's a powerful psychoactive hallucinogen, not to mention it's illegal. I think Kai just threw it out there just so he could list a third method. If you're interested in "magic mushrooms" aka psilocybin, watch the excellent documentary titled A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin. For the record: I've never tried psilocybin, but I wouldn't mind doing it with qualified medical and/or scientific supervision. DO NOT even think about using this drug without expert doctor's supervision.

The other two methods ("day nap" and "electric blanket") are just variations to induce awareness during sleep paralysis. With "day nap" you basically take a nap during the day, in a somewhat uncomfortable position, like sleeping at your desk. With "electric blanket" you use an electric blanket to make yourself slightly uncomfortably warm.


Kai has some good ideas of how to induce ASP. Among them:
  • Deprive yourself of sleep. Sleep 6 hours or less for several nights. Thinking about it, yeah, I'd often have ASP when I was sleep deprived. Hmm. Maybe that's why the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) method is so effective: interrupting sleep has almost the same effect.
  • Sleep in a slightly uncomfortable bed (or desk chair, etc.) so you don't sleep too deeply. Well, I've never given this much thought, but it makes sense. You don't want your awareness to get buried too deep. I have had a lot of OBEs when I'm away from home: hotel rooms, friends' houses; lots of place where the bed is slightly uncomfortable compared to the one I'm used to.
  • Take a nap in the middle of the day. This makes good sense too. You don't want to practice OBEs at night when you're tired. I prefer mid-morning or afternoon.
  • Use an alarm clock to make sure you don't sleep too long. I'm not sure I agree with this, but okay.
This book is honest, comfortable and unpretentious. Unlike many authors, he openly admits:
"By no means do I claim to be an expert or master of the out of body experience. In fact, frequently the out of body experience mastered me." (pg. 28)
Unfortunately, there wasn't much more to the book. I would like it to have been much longer, with some detailed OBE narratives.

The writing, grammar and spelling are all professional. Oddly, the pages are not numbered, despite having a detailed table of contents that gives page numbers. Go figure.

I give this book a thumbs up. On the negative side, it's small and there's not much information. It's not a Robert Bruce tome. There aren't really any OBE narratives, other than just a taste. On the positive side, it has some unique ideas not found in other OBE books. This wasn't just a rehash of old ideas. It caused a few lightbulbs to turn on over my head.

Bob Peterson
23 February 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Video: Bob Peterson's OBE Technique

Video: Bob Peterson's OBE Technique


by Bob Peterson
09 Feb 2016

Many times throughout the years, I've been tempted to make an OBE instructional video. I was going to do it more than a year ago. I even dug out some of my favorite photos and created a presentation describing my favorite OBE technique, but then I just got too busy and let myself get distracted. Until now.

This weekend I ran across my presentation and had some free time, so I decided to get out my GoPro and record this 13-minute video to explain my OBE technique. This is basically the same technique given in chapter 24 of my first book, Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect.

First, a few disclaimers:
  • It's not professional quality and I'm not a polished speaker.
  • There are a thousand OBE techniques; this is just the one I prefer.
  • These are just the basics; there are thousands of "best practices" and pitfalls to avoid. I could literally talk for hours about different tips, techniques and things to try. These are just the very basics.

Watch the video here:


Enjoy the video, and I hope to see you on the astral plane.

If you want to get a better look at the slides used in the video, here they are:
  
Email: bob@robertpeterson.org