Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Practical Astral Projection

Review: Practical Astral Projection

by Yram

Every so often, I go back and revisit one of the old classics of the out-of-body experience genre. This time I'm reviewing Practical Astral Projection by Yram. Yram was a pseudonym for a Frenchman named Marcel Louis Forhan.

The French were really the first non-occultist pioneers of the modern era, starting with Charles Lancelin's book M├ęthode D├ędoublement Personnel (published in the late 1800s or early 1900s; the earliest I found was from 1910), and then Forhan's/Yram's book. And Forhan was way ahead of his time.
I first read Practical Astral Projection in the early 1980s; so long ago that I didn't remember anything about it. I used to think of the book as an "occult" book, but that's completely wrong. The author even says so:
"In the present work we are not concerned with occultism nor with mysterious or sectarian operations of magic." (pg. 25)

One of the biggest downfalls of this book is that the book was written in French and translated into formal British English. And while the English is flawless, it's difficult to read.

Unfortunately, Yram doesn't really give any OBE techniques. He does give some tips and advice, such as:
"Excess of any kind must be avoided. Eat in wise moderation, avoiding highly alcoholic drinks. (This includes strong spirits like whisky, brandy, gin, etc., but allows a moderation of wine and beer, though the latter is not so good." (pg. 27)

To induce OBEs, Yram simply stresses the need for absorption, the stopping of your thoughts and blanking of your mind (something I call quiescing the mind) and to focus your mind inward (which is a bit different than concentration). He writes:
"The power to concentrate one's thoughts on a single object without being distracted by outside stimuli; the practice of rhythmic breathing; nervous and muscular relaxation; and finally, the ability to suspend thought completely." (pg. 29)
Above all, he stresses (and even harps on it for countless pages) the need to "raise your vibrations" by being spiritually loving, upright, moral, etc., and to avoid all negativity and bad thoughts, especially egotism. This, he says, is necessary in order to induce OBEs in the first place:
"Egotism will hold [the potential explorer] back to lower planes. it hinders the radiation of energy towards the matter side." (pg. 178)
And it's also true during the OBE itself:
"All ideas relating to money or fortune must disappear. All thoughts of vanity and egotism must be avoided. All pictures which have any idea of evil, or hatred, all malevolent thoughts must be forgotten." (pg. 92)
As an example, he did an experiment in which he wanted to study the effects of prayer during an OBE. So he recited the "Lord's Prayer" taught by Jesus, which he refers to as the "Paternoster" (very old word; I had to look it up). He writes:
"When I thought of the words 'Deliver us from evil' I felt such a loss of strength, was so overcome, that I was forced immediately to return to earth. This expression [Deliver us from evil] held a negative idea. What I should have said was 'Strengthen us in good,' so that vibrations of a similar nature to my words might have been created." (pg. 93)
Yram also talks about how, with OBEs, you have direct access to spiritual knowledge, so there is no more need for organized religions, which he humorously calls "religious trade unions":
"Since access to the higher worlds is the effect of our own decentralization, and it is enough to learn to love a higher and more perfect order of things, the dogmas enunciated by religious trade unions break down lamentably." (pg. 163)
He talks a lot about the phenomena and what he's observed in his out-of-body travels. Usually it's not complete OBE narratives, but in the form of brief examples like this:
"We must be ready for the strangest surprises. During one experiment, when I had used more effort than usual to project myself, I was hardly out of my body when I received a terrific slap in the face without being able to find whence it came." (pg. 52)
Like others, he talks about the invisible helpers, whom he calls "Friends," saying that they sometimes do appear, but disguise themselves:
"In passing, note the white dog as a symbol of the means used by the Friends who help us during our psychic experiments. Actually, unless one has a special connection with them, the guides rarely show themselves." (pg. 61)
He makes some interesting out-of-body observations, such as:
"Sexual differences are no more. Men or women, young or old, are no more than centres of life radiating different qualities of energy which they have assimilated during their successive incarnations." (pg. 198)
He tries to explain some of his observations in terms of science, but the science of the 1800s was primitive compared to today. He tries to explain things in terms of electricity, nuclear reactions and such. It's way outdated, but interesting from a historical perspective. Remarkably, some of his writings foreshadow the existence of what today's scientists now call "Dark Matter." He does OBE experiments with it, pushing his arms through it and such. Absolutely fascinating stuff!
"The virgin matter into which I projected myself exhibited no ties like those mentioned above. Neither thought, desire, will, nor any attraction of our own world has power over this matter, and equally, the matter has no magnetic effect on us....Seen in bulk, this matter has the colour of freshly cut ebonite. It gives out no vibration. It has no elasticity." (pg. 182)
"The existence of a substance so material led me to suppose that it might well be the root of matter." (pg. 183)
He talks about the numerous OBE experiments he did, such as repeatedly trying to move a piece of paper in the physical world:
 "...I blew on that decidedly recalcitrant piece of paper...Then to finish up, I re-entered my body. The piece of paper had not moved at all." (pg. 71)
He also gives his theory of "twin flames." He met a young woman, whom he eventually married. He did OBE experiments, meeting "astrally" with his then-fiancee. He traveled to her residence ("several hundreds of miles away") without knowing the town or the house in which she lived, and then got physical confirmation:
"My fiancee was able to confirm, by letter, the exactness of the details about which I wrote." (pg. 205)
Yram also gives us a theory he calls "Unity-Multiplicity" with regard to his twin flame. After they were married, he gives probably the earliest written account of "astral sex," and gives it in great detail! It's consistent with many other accounts that came later (no pun intended!). Like others, he describes it not so much in physical terms, but of a melding or combining of souls:
"It was as if an ocean of love was taking possession of the bed. When the individuality of my wife united with mine, she brought a shade which was hardly perceptible, which then melted into my love, giving it a considerable expansion. The aura, the atmosphere thus generated became myself. By the exercise of the powers attached to this spiritual state, all our faculties are melted into a unity of conscious life. The radiation of consciousness, thus universalized, awakened in every atom of my being a kind of quivering which augmented the delicacy and sweetness of the spiritual harmony in which I found myself immersed." (pg 208)
I was surprised to read that, like a handful of others, he also describes having met Jesus on more than one occasion. I had forgotten all about that.
"On three different occasions have I been able to contact Him in a stratum where His manifestation was possible. It is quite beyond my powers to describe the many thousands of attractions which emanate from such a presence." (pg. 212)
Having seen a whole new level of reality, in the true spirit of Frenchmen of today (think "yellow vest movement"), Yram was also kind of a pioneer of "conspiracy theory" and warns us to beware of abuses of society and our governments:
"Realize the abominable way in which you are being exploited materially, morally, and intellectually. Decide, once and for all, to conquer the routine existence and preconceptions of our social state. Believe me, you will never regret having made the effort." (pg. 192-193).
That's quite a statement for 1910 France, don't you think?
Probably my favorite quote of the whole book comes near the end:
"...I insist on the need of personal work if we wish to arrive at any results of permanent worth. Start by realizing that magical powers have no existence. No one can give you a lasting power unless you have developed it for yourself." (pg. 225)
The book is 253 pages, with small margins and small font, so despite its smallish footprint, there's a lot of content.

I'm giving this book 3 and a half stars out of 5. On the good side, there were no grammar or spelling mistakes whatsoever. On the bad side, the text is a bit cumbersome and difficult to read. There's lots of good information and a few tips, but hardly any actual complete OBE techniques.

Bob Peterson
19 March 2019

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Review: Astral Travel for Beginners

Review: Astral Travel for Beginners

by Richard Webster

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Travel for Beginners: Transcend Time and Space with Out-of-Body Experiences by Richard Webster.

This book was published in 1998, so it's a bit dated (there are references to making and using cassette tapes, for example), but a lot of the information still applies.

Webster speaks from experience: He's had many OBEs over numerous years and he's taught many classes on the subject. He doesn't give any personal OBEs in the book, but you can tell from the way he writes that he's experienced. It's not just "textbook knowledge." It's obvious, for example, when he describes the invisible helpers:
"Some people experience "helpers" when they astral travel. Helpers are people who gently look after the person while he or she is out of the body. However, I have never seen them. Maybe they are there and I have been unable to see them, or perhaps the people who do see them are experiencing their astral travel in a different way than I do." (pg. 96)
They're invisible for me too. I can talk to them and ask for their help, and they're always unemotional and happy to lend a hand, but I never see them, and they usually don't help unless I ask.

It's also obvious from the way he describes astral sex:
"However, astral sex is not the same as physical sex. There is an exchange of energy and a feeling of ecstasy, but although it is satisfying, it is still different than sex on the physical plane." (pg. 98)
Not many authors talk about this, but that matches my experience. (But wait until you read my next review!)

This is your average run-of-the-mill book about astral projection. It makes the same basic assumptions that many OBE books make, namely, that there's an actual non-physical astral body "double" that leaves the physical body to travel to other worlds. In that respect, it's not very scientific, but most of the books in the genre make that assumption too. When I say "run-of-the-mill" what I mean is: he tends to over-simplify a lot of things. For example, he writes:
 "You can instantly visit any place you want by simply thinking about it." (pg. 90)
Well, in my opinion, it's not quite that simple. I bitched about this in my first book. I've had countless OBEs in which I "simply thought" about a person or place, and fully expected to teleport, but was not transported anywhere. I tried visualizing a place. Nothing. I tried verbalizing a place. Nothing. I tried verbalizing my intent: "I want to go to X. Take me to X". Nothing. Get the picture? It took me a couple years to actually get the hang of traveling to an intended place (as opposed to just walking or flying there, which usually takes too long and almost always ends in distraction or failure).

It's hard to describe the actual mechanism. It's like trying to describe the taste of strawberries. "Kinda sweet, kinda tart" but nothing does it justice. In a futile effort, I often describe it as setting an intention, almost like setting an anchor point at a distant place, then pulling myself to that location with an act of will. Now that works.

Webster gives a really good history of OBEs from Ancient Egypt on. He cites not only references from ancient sources, early pioneers like Sylvan Muldoon, Oliver Fox, and Yram, but also scientific experiments done with super-psychics like Keith / Stuart "Blue" Harary and Ingo Swann.

He has some good dietary suggestions for aiding OBEs, such as:
  • Eat lightly on the days you intend to astral travel.
  • Eat a vegetarian diet on days you intend to do it, or if you must eat meat, eat fish or chicken: no red meats and as little fatty foods as possible.
  • He provides the entire Minnie Keeler diet that appears in various sources, such as Robert Crookall's The Techniques of Astral Projection, and D. Scott Rogo's book Leaving the Body. According to Webster, Ms. Keeler was a medium and this was originally somewhat disorganized channeled information that was first published by Prescott Hall, then later reworked by Robert Crookall (makes me want to re-read Crookall's books).
With regard to diet, I found this bit interesting:
"Sylvan Muldoon, author of The Projection of the Astral Body, recommends deprivation. He feels that you are more likely to leave the body if you are feeling hungry or thirsty. I found the opposite to be the case. When I tried to follow his suggestion I was so preoccupied with my feelings of thirst that I could not leave the body. I eat lightly, but am not starving or thirsty." (pg. 72)
Webster gives a good description of other phenomena similar to OBEs, namely:
  • Mind Travel (traveling clairvoyance)
  • Remote Viewing
  • Lucid Dreaming

He gives some good suggestions for lucid dreaming, such as:
"Telling yourself that dreams are not real before falling asleep will alert your mind to the numerous incongruities that occur in every dream." (pg. 41)
The book has a decent number of OBE techniques, but Webster is a professional hypnotist, so many of them are hypnosis-based. He gives several good hypnosis scripts you can record and use yourself, including scripts for personal use (self-hypnosis), scripts for partner (two-people) OBEs, and scripts for larger group OBEs.

There aren't any radical, revolutionary, or startling new OBE techniques. All of these appear elsewhere in the literature. Still, it's a decent collection that includes:
  • The aforementioned hypnosis techniques.
  • The "Christos Technique" which was made famous by Aussie Gerald Glaskin. (I've read his books long ago, but not given any book reviews)
  • Progressive relaxation, telling yourself to leave the body, deep slow breathing, visualization, etc.
  • Meditation techniques.
  • Target technique (found in several sources, such as William Buhlman's Adventures Beyond the Body)
  • Swing technique (similar to several of my own motion-based techniques)
  • The Whirlwind Method (aka the tornado technique, found elsewhere)
  • The Cone technique (forcing yourself up through the top of an imaginary cone) and several of the other techniques from D. Scott Rogo's Leaving the Body.
  • Affirmation techniques (found in a lot of OBE books, including mine.)
  • Chakra / Kundalini techniques.
Webster recommends you avoid alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, tea, coffee, marijuana before attempting an OBE. He also suggests an empty stomach when you make an attempt:
"It is better if people do not eat at this time, but a piece of fruit is fine, if the person absolutely has to eat something." (pg. 172)
Curiously, he then says:
"Chocolate, in particular, must be avoided." (pg. 172)
Wait. What? No chocolate? That's the first time I've heard that.

Curiously, he devotes an entire chapter to Numerology and claims that OBEs are more likely on certain "Personal days." I'm sorry, but as a science-oriented guy, I just cannot swallow that. Since humans arbitrarily assigned numbers to the years (i.e. since Christ was born), days of the month (based roughly on the cycles of the moon, but warped based on the whims of various Roman Emperors), and days of week (based mostly on Norse Gods) I simply cannot accept that mathematically reducing all these very-arbitrary numbers can tell you anything of any significance. Unless, of course, it's all psychology: Your belief that they have significance definitely will influence the likelihood of OBEs, because your belief creates your reality (and I say that based on personal experience). That's why rituals work.

The book is 227 pages with decent sized font and margins, which means there's a good amount of content. It's professionally written and edited, clear and concise, which means I found no typos or grammar problems.

Other nice things about the book:
  • It cites proper references for most of his claims.
  • It has a decent index at the end.
  • It has a glossary of terms.
  • It has a list of recommended reading near the end.

I'll give it 4 stars out of 5. Good effort, above average, but nothing that makes it stand out.

Bob Peterson
05 March, 2019