Review: Astral Travel
by Gavin and Yvonne Frost
Today I'm reviewing Astral Travel: Your Guide to the Secrets of Out-of-the-Body Experiences by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. For the purposes of this review, I'm using the 1982 paperback edition shown below. My edition has a more captivating cover that features bare boobs. I guess sex sells, right?
"We believe the instructions we give here are the most comprehensive, the easiest to understand and follow, that have ever been offered to the public." (pg. 14)Um, no. I didn't find their instructions comprehensive nor easy to understand.
They claim to have started two organizations: the "Canterbury Institute" and "School of Wicca" which supposedly trained lots of people astral projection, then used them as research tools to study and document the phenomenon. They present themselves and this research as the final authorities on the subject, and give some very interesting "findings." I don't agree with a lot of them, though. For example:
"When you astral travel, you are voyaging to real places. In your first astral trips these will most likely be in your own neighbourhood in the present time-frame. There are differences between the astral present and the physical present, but those differences do not involve symbology. You are seeing what is literally there." (pg. 37)That's not always the case. There are plenty of examples where things appear one way in an OBE and another way in physical reality. For example, in a recent OBE (18 April, 2019), I couldn't find a bucket I had placed in the bedroom to catch a leak in the roof when it was raining; it just was not there. When I returned to my body, I discovered that in physical reality, the bucket was still there, right where I had placed it. (This also underlines the fact that OBEs are not the same as lucid dreams: in lucid dreams, your expectations determine your reality. In this OBE, I fully expected the bucket to be there, and it wasn't. Unfortunately, that topic is beyond the scope of this article.)
There's been a lot of conjecture about why OBEs sometimes don't match reality. Many travelers say it's because you're basically seeing "an echo" or "thought forms" or a premonition of the physical plane, and not the actual physical things. Either way, evidence suggests that the Frosts are wrong, or at least misleading.
The book talks about sleep phases, but in my opinion, they get a lot of this wrong too. For example, they simplify sleep into just two states: The "D" state (Dreaming), which takes a quarter of the time, and the "A" state (not dreaming) which takes the other three quarters. The say:
"When awakened from the A-state sleeping, subjects report realistic, thought-like dreams that resemble waking experiences." (pg. 41)That's a gross over-simplification, and inaccurate. Scientists have identified several phases: hypnagogic, non-REM (nREM), REM, hypnopompic, and so forth. In nREM sleep (which takes most of the sleep time), it's much harder to wake someone, and subjects usually don't report any experiences at all during that phase. Now the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states are where things get interesting. But I digress.
As for astral projection tips and advice, they recommend some interesting things:
"Get plenty of sleep: for good dreams, at least ten hours a night." (pg. 35)Some people seem to have more OBE success with broken sleep or a bit of sleep deprivation, but I've always had more success when I over-sleep, so I agree with them there.
"Bed position - Head to the east seems to work best." (pg. 45)That's interesting, because I've always had more success with my head to the West. Head to the East is my second most successful position. Robert Monroe (and many others in the genre) recommend head to the North. Nobody seems to like head-to-the-South. Either way, the Frosts are counter to what everyone else says.
They state that OBEs are easier near the full moon. In their own variation of the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) technique, they recommend:
"Seven days before full moon, start setting your timing device so that you will be awakened three hours after lights out." (pg. 47)That's interesting, because a number of authors recommend you set your alarm six hours into your sleep, not three. Three hours seems much too early to me: That's into your night's third sleep cycle, so I'd think you're likely to be too groggy. At three hours, you'll be too groggy.
They have some questionable dietary advice that's quite different from all other books in the genre:
"A small but growing number of students report that travel is made easier by a meal of two eggs, a small steak, and a fresh green salad just before the attempt." (pg. 53)I've never before encountered an OBE book that recommends eating a heavy meal, especially meat, and never before an OBE attempt. The vast majority of OBE books recommend an empty stomach, and only a very light meal late afternoon or early evening before the attempt. Several books recommend a vegetarian diet (Graham Nicholls' book comes to mind). But steak and eggs? Really? C'mon. I'm a meat eater and I can't even imagine...No words.
As for time of day, they recommend:
"The twilight zone between waking and sleeping that occurs when you first go to bed is the best time to attempt conscious astral travel. In the evening, somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m., is the best time to prepare for your work." (pg. 54)Again, that goes against conventional wisdom. If you try for OBEs before bed, you might be programming your subconscious (which is good), but you're also more likely to fall asleep, because that's what you've been doing all your life. Plus, your brain is saturated with the sleep hormone melatonin, which will make you too sleepy to retain the consciousness you need. I recommend early morning when your brain is fresh.
The authors also employ a bit of fear-mongering, with statements like:
"It is possible in such cases for your body to become possessed." (pg. 56)I don't believe that for a minute. It's your body and nobody's going to take it from you unless you just happen to be a spirit medium, in which case your energy (some say "etheric") body is more mobile than most people. Your "Higher Self" (for lack of better words) has invested too much time and energy developing your physical body for your Earth lessons, and isn't going to give that up as easy as they make it sound.
They also give rituals of protection (one version for pagans and one version for Christians) and give stern warnings in all capital letters:
"DO NOT MEDITATIVELY ASTRAL TRAVEL WITHOUT PSYCHIC PROTECTION." (pg. 73)Fear mongering, and completely unnecessary. As for traveling to remote locations, they say:
"Think yourself at the place where you want to be. Instantly you will be there." (pg. 59)This is a pet-peeve of mine. I've harped about this many times in the past. It's not as easy as "Think yourself there." You need to set an intention and pull yourself toward it. I've spend countless frustrating OBEs trying to "think myself" to a person or place, to no avail until I got the knack for it.
The authors do use interesting terminology. Throughout the book, they use "I" to refer to your conscious self, and "me" to refer to your physical body, and all that it entails. So they talk about the "I" leaving the "me." It's actually a pretty convenient way to talk about it.
What techniques do they teach? They give a couple techniques, and they're pretty archaic. One involves--believe it or not--drawing a chalk circle on the floor in the centre of your space, dragging your mattress into the circle. Ritually set aside all your cares by writing them down and putting the list in the oven. They recommend dim lighting equal to the light of one lighted candle. Then, they claim, you need to establish an unsatisfied need or "Defined Necessity" (such as hunger) to use as motivation for your astral body to depart the physical. They even suggest that you take a shower, and beardless men should shave beforehand. (Pages 76 - 80). Definitely some weird ideas.
They also recommend having training yourself with "controlled distractions" like practicing with tight or uncomfortable clothes, and such. The idea here is to condition yourself to ignore the distractions. Personally, I don't think this is a good idea at all. Yes, it's good to learn to shut out distractions, but purposely imposing distractions just seems counterproductive to me. Author Daniel Kai's book Astral Projection recommends slight discomfort, but not to the point of distraction. No other author recommends deliberate distractions.
The book makes some dubious claims. For example, they differentiate between two different kinds of astral projection: "Twilight Zone" and "Meditative State". At first glance it sounds rather like "Etheric" versus "Astral" projection, but no, that's not what they mean. Although they claim the "Twilight Zone" technique is the easiest and most natural mode, it "Cannot be done on demand, for it requires the presence of a protecting Guide who will look after 'Me' while 'I' is out (pg. 100). The 'Me' (body) is asleep when 'I' is out. But the "Meditative State":
"...is more difficult than Twilight Zone. Can be done on command, in response to key signals. Protection is done in the physical plane; consequently no Guide is required. 'I' and 'Me' are both awake. 'Me' is homeostatic; that is, most or all of 'Me's' demands are satisfied. An urgent Necessity is required to get 'I' out." (pg. 101)So if I'm interpreting them correctly, it's more like "Twilight Zone" is normal out-of-body experience whereas "Meditative State" is more like what the Monroe Institute calls "Focus Levels." But...Who says you need any kind of guide to watch your body? And who says the first kind can't be done on demand?
The authors break experiences into "five astral realms" which are:
- Here-Now - Like "Etheric Projection" but, they say, "It is congruent with the presently existent physical world." (But in my experience, it's not always, as previously noted above.)
- Time - Time-travel OBEs
- Cosmic - Far realms of the physical world
- Here-Now Guidance - Teaching realms
- Spiritual - A joyful place of spirituality
Another dubious claim they make is about time travel:
"Just as in the case of colour, so other sensory inputs change in intensity as you move forward in time. All become more intense as you move forward and less intense as you move back into history. The increase in emotional energy levels is particularly distressing to many of our more sensitive researchers." (pg. 117)Sorry, but that directly contradicts my experience. Granted, I've only had one Time Travel OBE, supposedly to the year 2049, but in that OBE, the intensity of colors, sounds, and emotions was not any different at all from my normal OBEs (If you can call them that!).
Another dubious claim: They claim to have witnessed groups of three discarnate (dead people) spirits that somehow meld together and disappear to form a permanent new entity. (pg. 119). Really? Sounds a little fishy to me.
Another dubious claim the authors make is that "there are no animals on the astral." (pg. 158) Well, I guess I've not seen any (I have seen incarnate animals, like my dog Spirit) from an OBE, but not actual non-physical animals, at least that I can recall.
One thing I really did like about the book is when they described the ancient Egyptian gateways between realms. Maybe it's just superstition and lore, but they described a confession required of a person to gain admission to the next level which has seven parts (page 156):
- I have not cursed Thee nor taken Thy name in vain.
- I have obeyed the laws of man.
- I have not borne false witness.
- I have not stolen, nor have I been deceitful.
- I have put out new cakes and ale so that a Ka [spirit body] may feed.
- I have not made any afraid.
- I come in peace.
The book talks a bit about possession and non-physical entities getting attached to astral travelers (with just slightly more fear mongering than necessary). Their solution to pesky astral pests is exactly the same as mine:
"...Then assume some terrible Guide-guise aspect, and threaten the possessing or attached entity with painful and dire results if it does not promptly leave. The more terrible and the more imaginative your threats, the more quickly will the possessing entity leave." (pp. 181-182)That's exactly right. In my blog article Turning the Tables on Fear (under "Fear of demonic possession") I talked about my friend Lisa, who confronted a spirit this way who tried to take over her body. That's probably where I heard it first.
Then. You're going to want to sit down for this. Believe it or not, they suggest using astral projection to possess, or inhabit the bodies of other people, to your advantage (page 192)! That sounds like very bad karma to me. No, no, no, bad, bad, bad. Apparently they're unconcerned with Karma, because they write:
"The whole theory of the threat system called 'karmic debt' appears to be a myth invented by the Law-Giver Manu." (pg. 209)They also say:
"It is especially true that prayer should be avoided, if it indeed ruins the spiritual landscape." (pg. 211)The book also talks about using Astral Projection to influence world leaders, and they have a cavalier attitude toward the whole thing, which I didn't like.
Lastly, they claim that "hell" does not exist. They say they've tried to find it, but it cannot be found, because it does not exist (page 213.) I believe the concept of "hell" was invented to keep children and ignorant people under control. This instilling of fear is, in essence, terrorism, and therefore, counter to spiritual progress. Still, some people claim to have visited "hellish" places in out-of-body experiences, especially as part of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Granted, those instances are very rare, but they probably provide the basis for the myth.
They don't really provide any solid out-of-body techniques in the book, except for setting intentions and such.
The book is 240 pages, with small print, so there's enough content, but I found myself disagreeing with a lot of it. The grammar and spelling are both good, but I did find an occasional mistake here and there.
I'll give the book only two stars, mainly because I felt there was a lot of misinformation and things I disagreed with. This is probably one of the "disinformation" books that helped me decide to write my own book.
30 April 2019