Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Higher Self Now! by William & Susan Buhlman

Review: Higher Self Now!

by William Buhlman & Susan Buhlman

I took a few months' hiatus from my blog to enjoy a very active autumn. Now I'm starting to pick up the torch again. While December may be busy, I expect to be more active with my blog starting in January.

Today I'm reviewing Higher Self Now!: Accelerating Your Spiritual Evolution by one of my favorite out-of-body experience authors, William Buhlman, and his wife Susan. Buhlman was kind enough to send me a copy of the book so I could review it. What's funny is that he sent me an email a few days later apologizing for spelling and grammar problems, and assuring me his publisher would correct them. Surprisingly, I found very few errors in the text. Sure, there were a few, but that's not uncommon, and certainly not enough to warrant an email.

This book, in a nutshell, is about preparing for your final out-of-body experience: physical death. Death is a subject most of us don't want to face, but as a major life event, it's important to prepare and plan for it. OBEs are the perfect tool to prepare for the journey into the afterlife.

The book is split into two parts. The first part was written by William Buhlman, and it's mainly about using OBEs, meditation, affirmations and techniques to prepare for death, with a goal of merging with your Higher Self. The second part was written by his wife, Susan Buhlman, who served as a hospice worker. It's about hospice and dealing with the terminally ill and the death of others (and your own death).

Each chapter has an inspirational quote, and they're really good. Perhaps my favorite is the very first quote in chapter 1:
"If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate
all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation." --Lao Tzu
But hey, I've always loved Taoist philosophy, and read texts like the Tao Te Ching many times.

In chapter 1, Buhlman talks about the importance of self-transformation, awakening, and how important OBEs and self-discovery are in that journey. Here's a quote I liked:
"This awakening becomes a pivotal turning point in your life. You are no longer satisfied with the status quo. You quickly discover that it can be difficult to express your driving need for answers when your family and friends have remained content to follow the established beliefs and rituals of their childhood. Many find that their loved ones don't share their burning desire for self-knowledge and soon realize that their quest is an individual path of discovery. And so begins the most important exploration of your life." (pg 6-7)
 So true. And another:
"Spiritual awakening is an individual experience. There are no leaders or followers, just you and your drive for self-discovery. It may be helpful to study the practices of others, but then make a commitment to connect with your spiritual essence through personal experience rather than man-made texts." (pg. 12)
Chapter 2 is titled "Recognizing our Physical Anchors" and it talks about attachment. I love this quote:
"Instead of instantly reacting, stop and think - what is the lesson here? What is the purpose?" (pg. 14)
I've always seen my life as a series of spiritual lessons.

Chapter 3 is titled "Becoming Aware of our Energy Attachments," and it talks about different kinds of attachments, and again, recognizing spiritual learning opportunities.

Chapter 4 is "The 21 Day Transformation Challenge" and it gives a series of steps for spiritual transformation, including asking ourselves the tough questions about our lives.

Chapter 5, "A Question of Enlightenment," is about the exploration of consciousness. Buhlman talks about different tools, such as breath work, yoga, Lucid dreaming, OBEs, Sound technology, chanting, drumming, and so forth. I loved this quote:
"The exploration of consciousness is an individual inner journey. The true nature of enlightenment is about clearing away the mountain of programming that has buried the radiance of our inner spiritual essence. Meditative practices are designed to assist in this pursuit." (pg. 49)
Chapter 6, "The Higher Self," gives some techniques on contacting your Higher Self, and many of them reminded me of my own book, Answers Within. For example:
"2. Sincerely request that your heart provide you with a clear visual symbol or image of your higher self. Be open to all impressions without judgment." (pg. 54)
He also gives an interesting OBE narrative that reminded me of an NDE that a friend of mine once shared:
"After an instant I arrived before a blazing Sun, it was close but I felt no sense of temperature from it." (pg. 55)
In chapter 8, "Achieving Escape Velocity," the author gives some information about how to obtain spiritual liberation. One of the first steps is:
"Awaken to the raw reality of your existence. Seek the truth; reject all forms of religious and intellectual indoctrination." (pg. 72)
I couldn't agree more. One of my favorite quotes of the whole book is in chapter 11, "Navigating Nonphysical States of Consciousness":
"As explorers we must be prepared for rapid shifts of consciousness and the reality changes that will result. As we raise our internal vibration we are essentially moving our conscious awareness inward. As this occurs your current "solid" reality will often appear to quickly melt or morph before you. Your state of consciousness will always determine your perceived reality." (pg. 118)
That's sounds like something Seth/Jane Roberts would say, and I totally agree.

The second half of the book, written by Susan Buhlman, is about hospice, dealing with terminal illness, the death of another person, and preparing for your own transition. The information is not only rock solid and practical, it's also touching and heartwarming. A lot of it is down to Earth common sense: what to expect, how to behave, and how to treat the dying with love and respect. But common sense often flies out the window when we're faced with losing a loved one, so I found the information very warm and comforting. What I loved most about Part 2 were the many stories Susan shares from her hospice work. I loved her heartfelt writing style. It left me wanting more.

I once attended a lecture by Dannion Brinkley, author of Saved by the Light (and others) where he talked about his life-changing Near Death Experiences (NDEs). He also talked about volunteering as a hospice worker, and it was very moving. Susan's Part 2 brought me back to that special place.

Make no mistake: If you're looking for an OBE book, this is not it. There are no OBE techniques, and just the one narrative. However, it is important information about something we all need to know: how to prepare for our ultimate OBE, our final exit from the physical body: death.

The book is 323 pages long, with good text, good margins and good size. So there's a good amount of text. You won't feel shortchanged. And despite Bill's email, there were very few spelling and grammar problems.

The only negative thing I can say about it is that the first half had some redundancy and he spent a little too much time touting his previous work. But as a fellow author, I can relate: When you need to say something as important as this, is it better to cite a previous work (at the risk of pissing off people who don't own it) or be redundant (at the risk of pissing off people who do own it)? It's a delicate balance, and a game I've played myself.

All in all, it was a good read. I give it a thumbs up. Now I'm psyched to get back to OBE books.

Bob Peterson
13 December 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Astral Projection by Tabitha Zalot

Review: Astral Projection

 by Tabitha Zalot

This time I'm reviewing Astral Projection: The Complete Guide for Beginners on Astral Projection, and How to Travel the Astral Plane by Tabitha Zalot.

This book reminded me a lot of Michele Gilbert's book. It's not quite that bad, but almost. The book is twice as long, at 43 pages, but still way too short to be useful. Like Gilbert, Tabitha Zalot is apparently trying to make money by mass producing short books that gloss over most things and say very little, after minimal research. It also says "Thanks again for downloading this book..." which is a tip-off that it was not meant for prime-time publication.

The writing is very cumbersome to read. It's not so much that her grammar is bad (it really is). The real problem is that she always uses Passive Voice rather than active voice (or should I say "passive voice was always used" ;) ).

With "active voice" a subject (noun) performs an action (verb). For example, I might say "The mechanic fixed the car." With passive voice, you specify something that happened, and what happened, which is much harder to read. For the above example, "The car was fixed by the mechanic." Zalot uses passive voice in almost every paragraph and almost every sentence: the hallmark of a very inexperienced writer. Some people seem to think that it sounds intelligent, like reading a computer manual, but really, it makes the book almost impossible to read. Here's an example of her writing:
"The most overwhelming presence of astral projecting implementation can be noted when it comes to the various faithful ideologies manifested across the Earth." (pg. 7)

What the hell does that even mean? Here's another:
"However, its long-term usage and the mostly positive consequences resulting from such incidents support its high relatedness among humans." (pg. 13)

Nnnngggghh! The whole book is like that. Okay, I've ranted enough.

I might have been able to overlook the grammar if the information in the book had been accurate. Unfortunately, it isn't. For example, she writes:
"It has been estimated that one person in ten experiments with it at least once throughout their life." (pg. 11)
Well, no. Most people don't experiment with OBE. It's much more accurate to say that according to a variety of surveys, about 20 percent (yes, 20, not 10) of the general population have experienced one OBE in their lifetime (almost always spontaneously, and not through experimentation).

Here's another blatant example of partial information or misinformation:
"Furthermore, your vision is in fact, an all-encompassing 360 degrees view." (pg. 20)
While many people do report 360-degree vision in the astral, it's not always the case. In my first book, I documented several types of eyesight, ranging from "astral sight" which is similar to in-the-body vision to "astral mind sensing" which is more like a 360 degree view. (Follow this link if you want to read that chapter).

Here's another point where I disagree:
"Usually, the most recommended location would be your bedroom, the place where you should feel most protected and at peace with yourself." (pg. 22)
While it's true that you want to make your OBE attempts in a place that's safe, quiet and comfortable, your bedroom is often a poor choice. The problem is: we're all programmed from birth to fall asleep easily in our own bedroom, so it's natural to let go of consciousness quickly there. Our subconscious is programmed to do that. With OBEs, you need to wander the edge of consciousness, not fall asleep, so I usually recommend any place but your bedroom.

Sometimes you have no choice, in which case, by all means: use your bedroom. Lord knows I've had most of my OBEs from my own bedroom, but there was no other choice. But in general, it's better to make your OBE attempts in a special place set up for that purpose. William Buhlman recommended a special couch or room, or even from a hotel room bed. Robert Bruce recommended practicing sitting up.

Here's another piece of blatantly bad information:
"Probably the most popular herb utilized to ease astral projection is moonwort, widely employed for prophecies and guardianship during the ancient times. Associated with witchcraft and apparently omnipresent in flying ointments, its genus name, "Artemisia," derives from the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis." (pg. 25)
That's wrong. Moonwort is a completely different herb, and not genus Artemisia. She's obviously talking about Mugwort. Mugwort is the correct herb, not moonwort.

The book isn't all bad. She does get a few things right. For example, she writes:
"...the most important tool in order to succeed is your will." (pg. 21)
And I totally agree with that.

She offers 10 different Astral Travel techniques. They are:
  1. The Visualization Technique
  2. The Mirror Technique
  3. The Rope Technique
  4. The Ladder Technique
  5. The Swing Technique
  6. The Tunnel Technique
  7. The Fall Technique
  8. The Jump Technique
  9. The Roll out Technique
  10. The Muldoon's Thirst Technique
Her description of these ten techniques redeems the book somewhat, but not to the point where I would recommend it.

It doesn't have any OBE narratives to give the reader a feeling for what it's like. It also doesn't give any hints that the author actually experienced an OBE herself. I can usually tell when an author is speaking from firsthand experience, and this book did not give me that impression.

I'll give it 1 and 1/2 stars out of 5. It's just not worth wading through the misinformation and impossible grammar. Save your money: there are much better OBE books out there.

Bob Peterson
23 August 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review: Persephone's Journey by Vicky M. Short

Review: Persephone's Journey

by Vicky M. Short

Sorry it's been so long since I posted last. I've been taking some time off to enjoy the summer, visit with family and friends, and work on some of my projects, like my stained glass art. I've only squeezed in little bits of time here and there for reading.

This time I'm reviewing Persephone's Journey by Vicky M. Short. The author was kind enough to send me a copy, and I feel really bad that I haven't finished it until now. This is another long book review (sorry!), which is usually a good sign that I like a book. And yes, I loved this book.

This book took me back to a special place: It reminded me a lot of the first book I ever read about psychic experiences (aside from the OBE books) way back in the early 1980s: The Clairvoyant by Hans Holzer, the story of a young psychic girl who struggled because she was different from "normal" people.

Anyone who's read a few of my reviews knows that I love narratives; especially OBE narratives. Persephone's Journey has a lot of narratives. In fact, that's pretty much all it is; one after another, and not in chronological order. They're ordered by a theme. To illustrate the theme, most of the narratives have notes with lessons learned from the experience. For example, in chapter 10, "The Nature of Out of Body Experiences", contains an OBE with this note that I liked:
"NOTE: My framework concept is the idea that going "out of body" is simply a matter of mentally releasing yourself from the framework of physical reality. With this concept I realized something about myself that I didn't know--that I had a lifetime of belief surrounding the false notion that consciousness was contained within the physical body, and leaving the body meant releasing consciousness' grip on it. Relaxing that mental hold essentially released me from physical reality to nonphysical reality, allowing me to merely go from one framework to another. I didn't actually "go" anywhere in terms of spatial location. Based on my experience, the sensation of out-of-body movement is an interpretation of the mental process of releasing focus of awareness from one area of consciousness to another." (pg. 237)
Many of the more interesting OBEs contained verification and often, deja vu. In an OBE, she would witness an (ordinary) upcoming event. Later, she would experience that same event in real life, as deja vu.

They're not all OBEs, however. In fact, most of the narratives aren't OBEs at all. I'd say only about a third of them are actual OBEs. The other two thirds are other psychic and/or paranormal experiences from the author's life. They range from simple stories like finding lost items for her siblings, to "ghostly" tales from when she lived in a home with paranormal activity.

The book is very comfortable. It's like you're sitting around a campfire, listening to her tell personal stories of her life. Some make you want to laugh and some make you want to cry. Often you want to give her a big hug. By the end of the book you feel like she's a good friend and you want to call her Vicky.

Soon after Vicky became interested in OBEs and started pursuing them, she met Bruce Moen, a fellow author who wrote several books on soul retrieval ("Exploring the Afterlife Series" from my publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing) based on his "focus level" training at The Monroe Institute. I read them several years ago (and liked them). Even though Moen's experiences were not classical OBEs, there was enough of a connection to get Short hooked:
"What surprised me was that Bruce [Moen] wasn't writing about classic out-of-body experiences like I was expecting: what he was describing was much simpler than the OBE, along with his explanations of nonphysical reality." (pg. 126)

In an excerpt from Moen, she explains:
"Perhaps a better way to say this is that we can learn to focus our attention beyond the physical world. Physically alive humans don't really leave the physical world to explore, they just learn to focus their attention beyond it." (pg. 127)
I like to think of it as a continuum of consciousness. More on this later.

Most of this book centers around the author's friendship with Moen. Short had psychic experiences all her life, but when she met Moen, it changed her focus. He became her close friend and guide. He even wrote the book's Foreword. Before meeting him, she had random experiences. Moen gave her training, direction, and focus. Unfortunately, her skeptical husband, Dustin, didn't see it that way. I got the impression he thought it was all hogwash, which meant he was not supportive or understanding, even when confronted with blatantly obvious confirmation of psychic phenomena. Although Short never actually said it, Dustin was probably also jealous of Moen, who provided the emotional support she needed. Eventually, their fundamental spiritual differences led to divorce, but luckily she believed in herself and her experiences. (And I hope she always will.)

One of the great strengths of this book is that Vicky Short is a good story teller. She's also good at explaining things. She tells it like it is. She explains exactly when she's having a classical out-of-body experience versus when she's having more like a "focus level" experience. Or any other psychic experience. She describes her "inner voice" this way:
"When I say I heard the thought, that's exactly what I mean. I didn't think it. I heard it. Sometimes my thoughts are that way, projecting in my mind as if someone else was saying it. I've come to call it The Voice because it's more accurate than calling it a thought. Thoughts are my own thinking. The Voice knows things I don't know. I actually thought back to it in response..." (Introduction)
Like me, she even argues with her inner voice, and she agrees with me that:
"My personal belief is that The Voice originates from my higher self, giving me suggestions and help from another aspect of myself. I refer to it as Guidance." (pg. 185)

She also does a stellar job of explaining OBE memory problems. Whereas some authors like Robert Bruce theorize about "downloading" memories from the astral to the physical (which I've always questioned), Short gives a much more plausible explanation. Here's a small excerpt of a much larger discussion:
"State Specific Memory, a concept defined by Charles Tart, states that memory of an event is stored in the area of consciousness in which that event occurred. The Hemi-Sync Model of Consciousness, another Moen concept, states that each area of consciousness has a set of feelings associated to them, and by remembering those feelings to the point of re-experiencing them, your focus of awareness shifts back to that area of consciousness." (pg. 140)
 "These were important tools to remember during my retrieval, for several times I would get lost, losing the balance of Perceiver and Interpreter. I found it very easy to go back into the experience simply by remembering what I had just been seeing and feeling. It brought me right back to where I had been nonphysically and opened my perception there once again." (pg. 141)
Here's another explanation I found insightful:
"Bruce explains that the imagination is a sense of perception. Whatever we perceive in our imagination can be anywhere along a Continuum of Information where Fantasy is at one end and Reality is at the other." (pg. 151)
She goes on to say:
"...If you shift your attention along the continuum toward the other end, you will be perceiving within the realm of reality..."
"...We could say that by actively pretending or fantasizing, we are sort of tuning into our nonphysical senses. We know that what we perceive when we are actively pretending or fantasizing is not within physical reality, but even though we know we are actively using imagination in this way, what we are really doing is activating the use of our nonphysical senses of perception. And that opens the door to sensing beyond physical reality." (pg. 152)
In Exercise 4 ("Pretend Day") of my first book, I wrote about the importance of using and developing your imagination to learn to leave your body, so I really liked her take on the matter. However, this is not about fantasy. It's about perception. She also says:
"...Bruce [Moen] explained that gathering verifiable information is a critical part of opening our perception of the Afterlife and other nonphysical realities. He said that our beliefs that conflict with the existence of such realities can actually block our perception of those realities." (pg. 153)
Which sounds like it came straight out of Jane Roberts/Seth, which I also like. And perception goes back to experience, whether physical or nonphysical:
"I cannot actually prove that anything physically exists outside of the realm of my own awareness, or even prove that "physical-ness" exists outside of the realm of my own awareness. It is my belief that physical reality is physical simply because I perceive it that way...Reality is our experience of perception." (pg. 174)
Wow. I love that. Well said. But maybe the most valuable take-away I got from this book is the following quote:
"The most important thing I'd learned from Bruce was the importance of feeling love, and that raising awareness through love opened perception way beyond its normal limits." (pg. 199)
That simple quote really hit me hard and stayed with me for several days. Later in the book she writes:
"Since then I've figured out through my own personal experience that what Bruce teaches about love is very true--Love raises our awareness and opens our perception. Bruce always says that if he could teach only one thing it would be feeling love." (pg. 263)
She echoes the same sentiment at the conclusion of the book:
"What these experiences have taught me is that sensing spiritual energy, experiencing pure unconditional love, and my spiritual connections with others are the most important things in life. These experiences open the door to reminding me who I truly am as a spiritual being and how we are all connected." (pg. 271)

You won't find any OBE tips or techniques in the book. That makes for an entertaining journey, but it leaves people like me--who really have to work hard for it--wanting to know more about how to do it ourselves.

The book is 271 pages, with good margins and decent size: it's a good amount of information, so you won't feel short-changed. The writing is mature, professional and polished. It's not perfect, but way better than most. She's a great writer. Not just good, but great. She's got what it takes and I hope she writes more books.

I loved this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Big thumbs up.

Bob Peterson
2 August, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready

Today I'm reviewing Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready. The subtitle is Tips and Techniques for Insight, Creativity, and Personal Growth.

Normally I confine my reviews to books about astral projection or out-of-body experiences. However, in February, 2014, I did a review of Robert Waggoner's book, Lucid Dreaming, which I loved. It was very insightful. So insightful that I decided to buy and read Waggoner's next book, Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple, co-authored with Caroline McCready. I liked this one too. I apologize if I spend too much time comparing this book to that one.

The thing I liked most about this book? It provides several powerful lucid dreaming techniques (with a bit of crossover from OBE techniques like Wake Back To Bed). Waggoner's first book was a little lacking in that regard. The authors share techniques from a number of sources; even unconventional techniques. For example, the Carlos Castaneda technique of looking at your hands (and accompanying suggestions that you will see your hands the next time you're dreaming, and remember that you're dreaming).
  • Carlos Castaneda's technique
  • Stephen LaBerge's WILD technique
  • CRAM (Constant Repetition and affirmation method)
  • WBTB (Wake Back To Bed)
  • Count Down to Lucidity
  • Many more.

The authors also talk about reality checks: a common practice of many lucid dreamers who do checks throughout the day: "Am I dreaming?" This practice can carry forward into our dreams, which can then trigger lucidity. These are things like (1) pulling your finger to see if it elongates or pushing it through the palm of your other hand, (2) trying to breathe with your fingers pinching your nose shut, and (3) trying to read the same sentence twice to see if it changes.

There's also a section on enhancing your awareness, maintaining dream stability and focus, establishing goals, and so forth.

As usual, I flagged some interesting points. First:
"Lucid dreamers do not control their lucid dreams. When you read most lucid dreams carefully, they show that lucid dreamers rather influence their dreams. Although they may control their personal actions and focus, just as in waking life, they do not control the dreams--any more than you control waking life or the highway on which you drive." (pg. 29)
Waggoner said similar things in his first book, and I found that fascinating. Although I haven't had nearly as many lucid dreams (LDs) as Waggoner, I've always felt in control of the dream. But this makes me wonder: was it just influence? For example, I remember one LD in which I found myself in a hospital, and deliberately created a hallway to fly down. To me it felt like a conscious act of creation; more than a mere "influence." But who knows?

Later in the book, they talk about how LDs are more influenced by expectations and beliefs. So, for example, you can close a door and say to the dream, "When I reopen this door, I expect to see a bunch of naked women on the other side" and poof--they're there. It seems that "something" or "someone" has a more powerful influence over the dream content than the dreamer, whether that's the subconscious, "higher self" or whatever you want to call it, because those women will all have very detailed, unique faces, hair styles, eyes, bodies, attitudes, poses, and so forth, even though none of that was specified as part of the "expectation."

The book has a professional feel to it, and gets a little dry in some places. I suspect Waggoner keeps the book fun and entertaining, but McCready brings it down to earth, provides structure, practical information, and exercises. That means it's a well rounded book.

If I had to sum up Waggoner's first book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is not only powerful and fun, it's useful, and here's how far I've pushed the boundaries." It was entertaining and informative; he explores the boundaries of the experience and where it can take us.

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is a genuine scientific breakthrough, and here are the keys to the DeLorean." Maybe not as fascinating and entertaining, but definitely more useful.

I'd say this book is more written for the educated; psychologists and therapists, but it's also good for the layperson. Just when you think it's getting dry, it pushes the boundaries, subtly nudging that professional to the next level: the level of the new age practitioner. The authors subtly build bridges between the scientist (study) and the experiencer (practice). For example:
'The famous hypnotherapist Milton Erickson reminds us of a powerful idea when he says: "The unconscious is always listening.'" (pg. 36)
(That's why it's so important to monitor and/or modify your internal dialog: the thought-messages we constantly give ourselves when we're awake.)

The authors carry this thought further, subtly pushing the boundaries of conventional psychology. Psychology has shown that what we "experience" consciously is actually a "construct" of our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, based on our experiences. This becomes more clear when you start lucid dreaming: You can see, hear, taste, smell and feel the crystal clear constructs of your own making, without that sensory input. You can actually start to understand that new-age teachings, like Jane Roberts / Seth's adage "You create your own reality" are true not only in dreaming life, but in waking life as well. If you change your thoughts, beliefs, expectations, you can actually change your reality.

So the subconscious and the conscious work together to build your experience, whether waking or dreaming. Tools like lucid dreaming bring the two together: you bring your conscious mind into the realm of the subconscious and, working together, you can radically transform your life.
"I developed the habit of seeing the world as a kind of mental co-creation of the conscious and unconscious mind. When something happens, I ask myself, 'Why did this happen to me? What beliefs do I have that attracted this event into my life?' Later, when something strange happens in a dream, I think, 'Why did that happen? How did I attract it into my life?' Then I realize: 'This seems too strange. This must be a dream!'" (pg. 46)
The same thing could be said for learning to speak to your inner voice, as I taught in my fourth book, Answers Within, which is essentially the reverse: bringing your subconscious mind into the realm of the conscious. Both are steps toward integrating your total self.

My favorite chapter was the last one, chapter 14, "Living Lucidly" which brings it all together. Here are a few quotes from it:
"Lucid dreaming is another discovery with profound potential. Aware in the subconscious, you can maneuver your conscious intent toward almost any goal or endeavor." (pg. 184)
"Although research has brought us glimmers of insight, we remain largely ignorant of dreaming, the dream state, and the unconscious. Yet this long-ignored area of dreaming and the unconscious may be where the next real advance in science emerges." (pg. 184)
"As Jung paradoxically puts it, 'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes." (pg. 192)
Good stuff.

The book is about 200 pages long, with decent size, font, margins and a good amount of content. The writing and grammar are professional. The editing is professional. I didn't find a single typo, misspelling, or grammar problem. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5. (I save 5 stars only for exemplary books.)

Bob Peterson
07 June 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Black Hole of Cygnus X-1

The Black Hole of Cygnus X-1

By Bob Peterson
"In the constellation of Cygnus, there lurks a mysterious, invisible force: the black hole of Cygnus X-1...
Six stars of the Northern Cross
In mourning for their sister's loss
In a final flash of glory
Nevermore to grace the night..." (Rush, Cygnus X-1)

Today I'm going to share a completely unconventional OBE technique, and I hope you enjoy it.

Ordinarily when I induce an out-of-body experience, I do not use music, hemi-sync, or even binaural beats. I use total silence. (My OBE trance is very different from my normal meditation). In fact, in some of my early notes from the 1980s, I say don't even listen to music the day before your OBE attempts.

However, as an additional exercise I do sometimes meditate to longer trance-like songs, like "Echoes" by Pink Floyd or "Awaken" by Yes. While the music plays, I like to do energy bouncing, not too different from some of Robert Bruce's exercises.

I've only gotten "the vibrations" listening to two songs. The first is Close to the Edge by Yes. The second is Cygnus X-1 by Rush. For this article, I want to focus on the Rush song.

First, let me explain a bit about the song. Cygnus X-1 is the story of a man flying in a space ship (The "Rocinante," which I assume is named after Don Quixote's horse). He is headed toward the black hole of Cygnus X-1. He is driven by curiosity: What is the black hole? What will happen when he gets there? As he nears his deadly goal, he starts to wonder about what will happen. The lyrics say:
"Through the void, to be destroyed, or is there something more? Atomized at the door, or through the astral door--to soar?"

If I just listen to the song, I don't get the vibrations. It's not as simple as just. Here's what to do:
  1. Put on headphones. (This is important)
  2. Start the song.
  3. Close your eyes and visualize yourself floating in space, weightless.
  4. About one minute in, as the bells in the song chime, let yourself drift into a slight trance.
  5. Pay attention to the bass track. As the bass line bounces repeatedly from high to low, imagine a ball of energy at the bottom of both feet.
  6. As the music bounces up, I imagine the ball of energy quickly whoosh to the top of your head (crown chakra).
  7. Imagine the energy whooshes up and down with the pitch of the music.
  8. As the music picks up tempo, around 5:50, imagine yourself accelerating faster and faster through space, toward the black hole.
  9. Around 7:15, imagine yourself drifting through space at high speed, with stars rushing by you.
  10. At 8:10, the pitch of the bass guitar bounces in a repeated pattern:
    On every down, imagine the energy shoots down to your feet. On every up, imagine the energy shoots up to your crown chakra. This is very much in rapid succession.
  11. At 8:37, the pitch of the music takes the energy to some mid-way points in your body, in rapid succession:
    Heart chakra, Crown charka, Tan Tien (just below the belly button), Feet, repeat.
Listen to the song several times to learn it before trying to synchronize your energy to its shifts in beat. This is progressive rock, so don't be surprised or shocked at abrupt changes in pitch or tempo. And remember to keep it fun.

If you feel a tingling or vibration, try to hold your mind blank and let yourself surrender to the feeling while the music plays in the background.

You can listen to the song on youtube at this link: Cygnus X-1.

I was doing this "bouncing non-physical energy" exercise way back in the early 1980s, but it's not too different from a more modern technique called "VELO" taught by the IAC (International Academy of Consciousness). If you want more information about "VELO", here is a good video from IAC instructor and OBE author Luis Minero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxwm6sQ2P_w

Bob Peterson
May 24, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review: Astral Projection Mastery

Astral Projection Mastery

by L. Jordan

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection Mastery by L. Jordan. The website astralism.com lists this book as #3 of "The 3 Best Astral Projection Books On The Market." (#1 was Erin Pavlina's Astral Projection Guidebook and #2 was Robert Bruce's Astral Dynamics) So does it live up to their claim?

The book is a decent size, with decent font and small margins, but it's only 89 pages, so kind of small.

The information is solid, for the most part. The biggest problem I had is that the book was difficult to read. I've read many books in my lifetime, but this one was just cumbersome for me, and I couldn't quite tell why. I can't accuse it of being immature, or having poor grammar, spelling or structure, but for some strange reason, I found myself having to re-read every sentence two or three times to make sure I understood the meaning.

Part of the problem is that the author often used unexpected words. Like "on the world" when my brain expected "in the world." He often wrote about astral projection as if it's a noun rather than a verb. For example, he'd write "when you're having your astral projection" like the British "when you're having your tea." My brain expects something different, say, "When you're astral projecting" or some such.

Or maybe it was sentences like this:
"No single human being has the onus of dishing out the outstanding energies that traverse your different planes, both physical and celestial." (pg. 45)

Maybe the author is British, so the sentence structure was not what my brain expected. I'd literally read a sentence, then my brain would go, WTF did that just say? I'd re-read the sentence and say, Oh. Right. Got it. Then I'd look at the sentence again and wonder, "Why did that sentence trip me up?" Beats me; it makes perfect sense the second time through. I felt this way about literally every sentence in the entire book. So it's accurate to say I read this book twice; I just did it a sentence at a time!

Several of my colleagues at work are British, so I'm well versed in British colloquialisms and phrases, like "In due course," "straight away," "there we go." So it's not that. I've read some very fine books by British authors, such as Graham Nicholls, and never had this problem before. So I'm not quite sure why I struggled. "Going for an astral travel."

The other problem is that instead of making points and building one sentence on the next, the author asks way too many questions. For example, chapter 4 starts like this:
"Astral Projection does really feel like a dream, doesn't it? You being physically immobile and mute, yet you are seeing yourself walking or driving and chatting with people you know you in real life... It does really feel like you are dreaming. But are you really in a dream state? The answer is no -- dreaming is dreaming and astral projection is what it is." (pg. 26)
A few times is charming, but Jordan does it way too often.

By the way, I disagree. In a dream, you're unconscious. In astral projection, you are conscious (which the author later admits). But no, it doesn't feel much like a dream to me. It doesn't feel like a lucid dream either. In a lucid dream, you're conscious, but the scenery is often more vivid, realistic, vibrant, colorful, and seems more solid, like a vivid, detailed dream. In an OBE, the scenery is often heady, foggy, trippy, or otherworldly. But Jordan doesn't give much explanation to justify his views.

After a few chapters I found myself imagining a man with a thick British accent reading it aloud, and it flowed a little better in my mind. (I don't know if L. Jordan is a man or woman. I imagined a man's voice simply because my British co-workers are all men, so that's what I'm used to hearing.) However, I also noticed that the author used American spellings. For example, "color" instead of the British spelling, "colour." Go figure.

The book has no OBE narratives, and I don't like that either. You don't get any sense of the author's experiences or credentials. Like so many average OBE books out there, Jordan just gives you information about astral projection and you're expected to accept it at face value.

On the positive side, the book is chock full of OBE techniques:
  • The Rope Technique (invented by Robert Bruce)
  • The Ladder Technique
  • Thirst Technique (invented by Sylvan Muldoon)
  • Point Shift Technique
  • Visualizing Your Double (taught by occultists)
  • Monitoring yourself slipping into sleep (appears in my first book)
  • Rolling Method (taught by Robert Monroe)
  • Driving System Technique
  • Tunnel Technique (taught by Salvatore Caesar Scordato)
  • Monroe Technique (taught by Robert Monroe)
  • The Running Technique (Imagining yourself running)
  • The Train Technique
  • The Tornado Technique
  • Doing some phantom wiggling
  • The Listening Technique
  • Putting a strain on your brain
  • Sensory motor visualization
  • Technique of Eye Movement 
  • (and several others)

These techniques are not short-changed, but they're also not explained as well as the original authors.

It also has a decent section on preparation, and some unique and creative ideas. For example:
"Make your body boring and your astral body beautiful.
This is the trick when you want to coax your astral body out. You need to visualize your body in a color that is pretty dull, and then have yourself focus on your astral body, in its very attractive and bright color, pulling itself out of that boring place that is your body." (pg. 43)
I disagreed with the author on a few points. For example,
"Remember time and distance are very different on the different planes. An hour on the physical world could be covered by a minute on the astral plane--or something like that." (pg. 44)

To me, it seems like time passes pretty much normally, with a few exceptions.

On page 83, Jordan talks about the scientific community's view of OBEs:
"Even in the early '70s, there was this lady parapsychologist, Susan Blackmore, from Oxford University, who researched and studied about out of body experiences. As a bonus, she even had her own personal experience in astral travels....And as we are wont to say, it was all in a day's work!" (pg. 83-84)
But Jordan fails to give the other side of this discussion: Susan Blackmore later went on to become quite an outspoken skeptic on the matter, as made clear by her subsequent books (several of which I've read). Jordan says nothing about that. (It's okay to support your views, but in nonfiction, you should at least tell the whole story and let the reader decide.)

The grammar and spelling aren't bad, but like I said, the writing seemed cumbersome and hard to read.

This is not a bad book, but my personal opinion is that there are a lot better books out there. It's certainly a lot better than my previous book review, but still not in my Top Ten OBE Books, let alone the top 3. I don't know what the reviewers at astralism.com were smoking when they listed it in the top three. In my opinion, it's not even close. I'll give it 3 stars.

Bob Peterson
10 May 2016

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. ??)

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