Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: How I Learned Soul Travel

How I Learned Soul Travel

by Terrill Willson

Today I'm reviewing How I Learned Soul Travel by Terrill Willson.

I know for a fact that Terrill Willson is not the author's real name, but a pen name. I know this because he sent me a copy of his book several years ago with a personal letter. To respect his privacy, I won't divulge his real name. At least he didn't use a demon name like the last book I reviewed, Experiencing Astral Travel (there was no such violation of trust with V.M.Beelzebub, whose real name openly appears in his book's copyright notice.)

This is the story of how the author, "Terrill Willson," became interested in Eckankar, an OBE-based religion (or cult, depending on your point of view) and the steps he took to learn and refine his "soul travel" (out-of-body) techniques. Although the book is cast in the light of Eckankar, it's not preachy or Eck-saturated. That's just a back-drop to Willson's story.

First a little background. Eckankar was founded by Paul Twitchell, whom William Buhlman still defends to this day as "the real deal." He co-opted many yogic traditions from India and claimed it was an ancient religion he was entrusted with. Yeah. Right. I can't judge Twitchell because I've never read any of his books (yet!).

I've always felt negatively toward Eckankar because when I first checked them out in 1980, their "Living Eck Master" (whom they claim is the sole representative of God on Earth) was "Sri" Darwin Gross, whose books, like Your Right to Know, were not only self-contradictory every couple pages; they were, to quote a song by Jon Oliva, "nonsensical ravings of the lunatic mind." Darwin Gross was eventually canned, fired, sacked from the position and kicked out of the organization in 1981 amid scandal. The position of "Living Eck Master" was taken over by Harold Klemp who still leads the organization (at least Klempt comes across as somewhat more sane).

Anyway, back to Terrill Willson. The book is copyrighted 1987 and it covers at least 5 years of out-of-body progress. Willson writes about several OBEs in which he sees and/or interacts with the Eckankar Living Master. Although he's not named, I assume he's referring to Klemp at this point.

The best thing about this book is that the author writes down what he tried, and how well it worked, and what he learned from all his trial and error. You can clearly watch his progress from novice to accomplished out-of-body traveler, and the steps he took to get there. That's helpful.

When he started out, he struggled a lot and tried a lot of things:
"As yet no particular technique had ever proven effective for me more than once, and by this time I'd begun to figure out why." (pg. 62)
He tried everything from meditation to concentration to contemplation. He spent hours every night lying awake trying everything at the expense of his sleep. The most important thing I got is: Contemplation is where you should focus your efforts.

This is a really hard thing to teach. In my books, I talk about how you need "focus" and stillness, but you also need to remain passive and receptive.

I really loved Willson's definitions of meditation, concentration, and contemplation, so I'll quote them here:


"My definition of meditation goes something like this: meditation involves trying to achieve a completely relaxed, totally passive state of body and mind. Ideally this is accomplished by first relaxing the physical body as much as possible and then throwing the mind blank, trying to free the mind of all thoughts concerning the physical body and the physical world." (pg. 81)


"My definition of concentration, based on my own futile learning attempts, is this: concentration is an attempt to rigidly force the mind to hold a specific idea or visual picture, trying to lock the mind so perfectly onto this single idea or picture that all attention is withdrawn from the physical body and physical surroundings. Reaching a level perfect level of concentration is extremely difficult, but if achieved, even just for a moment, separating from the physical body then becomes quite easy." (pg. 82)


"Contemplation is more of a happy medium between meditation and concentration, not passive like meditation and yet not nearly as mentally and physically draining as concentration...my definition of contemplation goes like this: Contemplation is a relaxed pointing of the mind in one certain direction, a continuous dwelling on some feeling, thought, or idea in as relaxed a manner as possible. In contemplation one does not try to rigidly affix the mind to anything but instead allows it to wander and simply brings it back each time it strays off." (pg. 82)
Willson says that Contemplation offers two important advantages: simplicity and effectiveness.

Willson gives his OBE technique at several stages while developing it, so you can see how he tweaks it, makes changes, and improves it along the way. That's very helpful. For example, relatively early in his development, his technique went something like this:
"Just before bedtime I would read a few pages of one of my Soul Travel books and then just go to sleep. Either by alarm clock or self- suggestion, I would wake up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep, keeping my full attention on the faint high whistle in the top of my head. All thoughts concerning Soul Travel would be avoided while listening to this sound. Each time my mind wandered, I would simply bring it back and place my attention on listening to the sound again. If it took 30 minutes, or an hour, or 3 hours for me to drift into sleep, so be it. Any chance of moving out of my body, either automatically or of my own accord, would likely come at the moment of drifting into sleep..." (pg. 108)
Gradually, he made changes and added elements:
"I developed a new sound technique during this time, imagining the sound of the faint high whistle as a current of energy flowing into the top of my head and focusing on the tingling sensation that would develop at this particular spot. Somehow my chances of moving out of my body seemed improved when I did this." (pg. 114)
Later, he improved it by reversing the flow: he started with the whistling energy entering his feet and exiting through his head. Then he added his own version of Wake Back To Bed (WBTB), setting an alarm, getting up in the middle of the night, just for a few minutes, splashing water on his face, then back to bed.

Throughout the book, he uncovers helpful observations, like this one:
"Toward the end of this two-month trip, I uncovered my most valuable bit of information to date about contemplation. I learned that the closer I let the black inner screen draw to my inner point of vision while contemplating, the better my chances were of moving out of the body after drifting into sleep. I also gradually began to notice that the direction my eyes were pointed during contemplation made a difference, too." (pg. 122)
This eye direction thing is interesting too, and it matches my experience.
"My primary attention was on keeping my eyes rotated upward as high as possible in my head yet staying relaxed; then I'd concentrate on listening to The Faint High whistle in the top of my head. If I could drift into sleep still contemplating like this, my chances of moving out of my body automatically were very good." (pg. 123)
Later, he refines this even further, pointing his eyes upward only for the first minute or so of contemplation, then he lets them relax into their natural position for the rest of his technique. He found out it's not so much the direction of your eyes, but the direction of your attention.

He actually lays out his technique, which he calls "Contemplation Technique A" and later, he refines it and gives alternates B, C, D, E, F, and G. He also discusses how to use the famous Eckankar mantra "Hu" (which sounds like the name Hugh.) He recommends chanting aloud, because, he says:
"Chanting silently won't usually stop the mind's wanderings, but in my experience chanting softly outloud will." (pg. 161)

Willson doesn't talk much about his OBEs, but he does make some interesting observations. For example, he talks about how glass behaves in an OBE: Sometimes it acts like a barrier, and sometimes you can push on it and it stretches, making a sound like running your hands over a balloon. But when you give up trying to push through, it can suddenly shatter. (pg. 129)

He also talks about how to handle scary encounters with threatening people and creatures: He says if you become totally passive, the threatening creature or person will become passive too. Kind of like disarming them. (pg. 131)

Another important thing he discovered is that the first OBE is always the hardest, and makes others easier. This is especially true about multiple OBEs in a single night: If you induce an OBE, regardless of how brief--even just a second--it's vastly easier to induce more OBEs that night. But it helps to remain motionless after you return to the physical.

Following that, he began to notice a post-OBE feeling that immediately followed one of his OBEs. This led him to another important discovery: You can induce more OBEs just by remembering that post-OBE feeling, even if it's your first for the night!

Another thing I found interesting: Willson writes about a few experiences in which he's inside a very large building. For many years now, I've noticed that I'm inside very large buildings in my ordinary dreams (not so much my OBEs, in which I'm often outdoors). In my dreams I'm often in huge warehouses, vast factories, enormous hotels, gigantic shopping malls, etc. I wonder what that means.

This isn't the most comprehensive book about inducing OBEs, but it's definitely packed with gems, and very helpful.

The book is 176 pages with smallish font and good margins, which means there's plenty of content. It's broken into 40 bite-size easy-to-read chapters, so it's a quick read. The writing and editing are professional and the content is good. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
31 March 2020


If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.

If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review: Experiencing Astral Travel

Review: Experiencing Astral Travel

by V.M. Beelzebub

Today I'm reviewing Experiencing Astral Travel: An 8 Week Course by V.M. Beelzebub, a pen name for Mark Pritchard.

Sorry for the length of this article, but there's a lot to talk about. Like my other long reviews, (e.g. Michael Raduga's and Robert Bruce's books) it means there's a lot of good stuff.

I've owned this book a long time. I've skimmed it but I've always avoided reading it, for one simple reason: The author, Mark Pritchard, decided to call himself V.M. Beelzebub. He doesn't give any explanation for that name or where he got it, but really: What in the world was he thinking? Everyone probably remembers the name from Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen:
"Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me...for me...for meeee!"
But I remember it mostly from The Book of Ceremonial Magic by Arthur Edward Waite which is kind of like a "demonology 101" book. According to Wikipedia, Beelzebub...
"...is a name derived from a Philistine god, formerly worshipped in Ekron, and later adopted by some Abrahamic religions as a major demon. The name Beelzebub is associated with the Canaanite god Baal. In theological sources, predominantly Christian, Beelzebub is sometimes another name for the devil, similar to Satan. He is known in demonology as one of the seven princes of Hell."
So I always wondered: Was Pritchard trying to impress us with his illustrious name? Was he trying to make us think he's in league with the devil? Or the devil himself? Let's face it: Astral Projection gets a bad rap as it is from fanatical Christians who insist it's a form of "witchcraft" which is forbidden in the Bible. AP has nothing to do with witchcraft or satanism (although those paths might practice AP). One thing's for sure: His name might just weed out people who are ignorant about such matters. But really...What's wrong with using his real name? I would have had a lot more respect for him if he had. Or maybe I should ditch Bob Peterson and assume a more dark and mysterious pen name like "T.J. Asmodeus"? What do you think? Nah.

Okay, enough levity. Now that I've actually read the whole book, I can tell you: it's actually a very good "how to" book for astral projection. So let's get into it.

The first thing I liked about Pritchard (Sorry, I just can't call him Beelzebub) is that we share a common trait:
"I wasn't born with the ability to Astral project like some people, so I had to learn how to do it and, sometimes with great struggles, to overcome many obstacles until the techniques succeeded." (pg. xi)
This is mostly an AP/OBE technique book and it contains a lot of pretty good exercises. Each week in the 8 week course introduces new exercises and suggests you keep using the previous ones, so you gradually build up your OBE repertoire. Some of the exercises include:
  1. Learning relaxation. I talked about that in a recent blog article.
  2. Remembering dreams and dream journaling are given fair treatment. You can read my blog article about that by clicking on this link. He suggests using a mantra, "Raom Gaom" to remember your dreams, which is interesting and unexpected. In my opinion, there are lots of ways to remember your dreams; mantras isn't high on my list.
  3. Concentration/Visualization. This is learning to visualize objects and keep them stable. Very important skill.
  4. Concentration on the Heart. This is the first real OBE technique, i.e. not just prep work. He suggests you "feel each beat and concentrate upon each one of them." (pg. 33). Elsewhere he suggests, "If you maintain the concentration on the heartbeat without random thinking, you should be able to astral project." (pg. 35)
  5. He stresses the importance of maintaining awareness. In other words, avoid daydreaming (in everyday life) and learn to focus completely on the present moment. In terms of neuroscience, it means learning to engage the task positive network (TPN) of the brain more, and use the Default Mode Network (DMN) less.
  6. He suggests using mantras to induce OBEs, and he gives several. For example: "La Ra S," "Egypto," "Fa Ra On," and "Tae re re re re re." He says that mantras stimulate the chakras. He says to repeat one chosen mantra from ten minutes to an hour before actually making an OBE attempt. He stresses that saying the mantra aloud is important, and to only resort to silent (inward) chanting if necessary. The book has several links to http://www.gnosticweb.org/astralbook/ to sound files giving the correct pronunciations. 
  7. He gives some common lucid dream techniques: practicing awareness (of where you are, etc.), questioning reality ("Am I dreaming now?"), pulling on your finger (to see if it stretches), and trying to jump (to see if you start to fly or lift off the ground higher than normal).
  8. He also gives his simple variation of the famous "Target Technique."
The best thing about this book--where the book shines--is that almost every chapter has an extensive "Questions and Answers" section. These are often longer than the main text itself, and they contain very good (unfiltered) questions and very good answers. For example, someone asked him about drugs. His response was (in part):
"All drug-induced experiences belong to the negative side and that side is only strengthened in a person by taking drugs." (pg. 14)
Someone asked if you can meet and communicate with people in an OBE. Again, in part:
"You can see people who are awake in the physical because you see their astral part but you cannot communicate with them because they will not be able to see you unless they have polyvision." (pg. 14)
My experience is that you can communicate with in-the-body people, but it's like talking to their subconscious. They act distracted and don't engage you in conversation, but they will talk nonetheless. They won't remember the conversation though.

Someone asked if reduced eating can help with OBEs. His response:
"As long as you are eating sensibly I suggest you keep your regular eating pattern and continue practicing in order to improve your concentration and OBE experiences." (pg. 15)

I tend to disagree. I think reduced eating can help you induce OBEs. At least it does for me.

Someone asked about dark shapes and shadowy movements in the room. His response:
"The negative things you perceived could have come from your subconscious although they are more likely to be negative entities in the astral to deal with them you will need to know about conjurations which we used to expel negative entities of any kind." (pg. 17)
I tend to think the opposite. In my experience, most negative encounters come from the guardian of the threshold, i.e. your own subconscious. That's not to say negative entities won't occasionally try to mess with you; it's just less common. Pritchard does give two main "conjurations" in the book to get rid of negative entities. The first one is:
"In the name of Jupiter,
Father of the Gods,
I conjure you,
Te Vigos Cosilim." (pg. 93)
The second is:
"Bellilin, Bellilin, Bellilin,
Amphora of salvation,
I would like to be next to you,
Materialism has no strength next to me,
Bellilin, Bellilin, Bellilin." (pg. 94)
I've always been a very science-oriented guy, so invoking Jupiter and/or Bellilin just seems like nonsense to me. Sorry. That's just who I am. In my opinion, it's just a psychological tool to control your own fear. And if it works, feel free to use it. But you could just as easily use a quote from your favorite holy book, like Psalm 23 of the Bible:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me..."
Or even quote a favorite song, as long as it brings you a feeling of power and protection. Like this excerpt from the song "The Power of Thy Sword" by Manowar:
"I'm the master of the world, I have no fear of man or beast,
Born inside the soul of the world
Riding hard, breaking bone, with steel and stone
Eternal might I was born to wield..."
I don't like that Pritchard always seems to assume the worst, which tends to reinforce negative encounters. At one point he says:
"There is a huge war going on between the forces of light and darkness, most of this is unknown to the average person..." (pg. 102)

"...The more we progress spiritually, the more the negative entities attack us and try to stop us. They see us then as people who are getting away from their grip and who begin to pose a threat to them.

The further into the light we go the more the darkness comes against us." (pg. 102)
Mark, Mark, Mark. Negativity like that will only cause trouble. Here's a similar answer to another guy's negative encounter:
"What you perceived coming towards you was a sinister entity. There is nothing to be frightened about though, they can be there at any time, it is just that you were aware of its presence then. Later in the course you will have a technique that you can use to get rid of anything like that." (pg. 24)
He does, however, suggest that you should be fearless, which I completely agree with.
"Remember that negative forces use fear to stop any astral investigation. If you give in to them they will have won, but if you don't you will find a whole new world opening up for you." (pg. 77)

Pritchard touches on something I called "The Fantasy Trap" in my first book. In fact, I dedicated a whole chapter to it which you can read by clicking on this link. In some of my other books I similarly caution not to play "what if" with hypnagogic images for the same reason. This is rarely mentioned in OBE literature, so I applaud his response:
"Any daydreams there actually turn into dreams and before you know it, you're in a dream and you do not realize that you projected until you wake up from sleep." (pg. 35)
So by all means: avoid daydreaming in an OBE and stay focused.

Pritchard doesn't draw a clear line between astral projection and lucid dreams. When someone asked about it, he said this:
"With projection, you go straight from the body. When you wake up in a dream, you have missed the projection but you are still conscious in the Astral. You can be in the same place from both methods. It is only the way that you get there that is different." (pg. 57)
To me, the two are quite different, and I spelled out the differences in this article.

Many books say that you can create whatever you want in an OBE by using your imagination. While that may be true for lucid dreams, it doesn't seem to be the case for OBEs. Pritchard seems to agree:
"Forget about having spherical vision or trying to perceive in a certain way. That can make you create things from your own imagination that are not really there and that can make you lose the Astral [projection], turning it into a dream or bringing you back to the body. It just becomes a distraction; it is best to be simple and clear in the astral." (pg. 58)
A lot of people feel the vibrations and their physical body goes into sleep paralysis, but then they don't know what to do next. I talk about that in my sleep paralysis article and my "Almost Move Technique." Here's what Pritchard says about it:
"You need to train yourself to get up from bed when the parts of your [astral] body begin to move. Don't pretend or imagine that you are getting up; you have to actually get up from the bed." (pg. 70)
This is absolutely true. I always tell people: if your physical body moves, it wasn't the right vibrations. If it's the right vibrations, your physical body should stay put and your astral body should move.

The book also includes a fairly decent list of dream symbols and how to interpret them, as well as some basics of numerology. The downside is that he credits Samael Aun Weor for most of this information. Samael Aun Weor still holds the record for the worst out-of-body book I've ever read. You can read my review of it here.

The only downside of this book is that it comes from an "occult" point of view; a world view in which spells, demons, and black magic are assumed to exist, and they're lurking around every corner to grab you. They're not.

One thing to note, though: When I was reading this book, I felt a strange kind of energy. It was almost as if an entity (or multiples)--maybe even Pritchard himself--sensed my reading the book and turned their focus toward me. I found myself doing habitual energy shielding to avoid energy drain. So either I was just a bit creeped out by all that talk of negative forces, or else I really did get the notice of non-physical force by reading it. In either case, you may want to use energy shielding while reading the book.

The upside is that the book contains lots of good solid OBE techniques and advice, and extensive questions and answers sections.

The book is 157 pages with tight margins and small font, which means there's a lot of content. I found a few typos throughout the book, but it's well written, mature, and pretty good overall. I'll give it 3.5 stars (bordering on 4) out of 5.

Bob Peterson
17 March 2020


If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.

If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Review: The Theory and Practice of Astral Projection

The Theory & Practice of Astral Projection

by Anthony Martin

Today I'm reviewing The Theory & Practice of Astral Projection by Anthony Martin. The subtitle is "Exploration in a world beyond the body." It's copyrighted 1980: right about the time I was getting into AP/OBE.

This is a pretty average out-of-body experience book, but it has some unique concepts that makes it stand out from the crowd. First, Martin asserts that the "Soul" and "Astral Body" are two different things. He says the astral body is kind of like a bridge between the physical body and the soul. This is in contrast to many other books that describe an "Etheric body" that's halfway between the physical and the astral bodies. Martin claims the astral body is semi-physical, whereas the soul is wholly non-physical. He says:
"The soul, by all agreed definitions, is immortal and imperishable. The astral body may survive the death of the physical body for a time, but it too perishes in due course." (pg. 21)

Martin does, however, offer a number of other theories, including the more "layered" multi-body approach of Theosophy (A.E. Powell, C.W. Leadbeater, Madame Blavatsky, etc.)

He gives a fairly decent history of the out-of-body experience, given the small size of the book.

Like many other books, Martin gives stern warnings, saying that "Dissociation can be a hazardous business (pg. 46). He even asserts:
"It is even possible, as some have claimed, for the astral body to become damaged - a condition indicated by a corresponding change in the aura." (pg. 46)
I tend to disagree with this. I've seen no evidence the astral body can be damaged.

Chapter 3, "The Practice of Astral Projection" is the gem of the book, and makes the whole book worthwhile. It has lots of useful tips and techniques. For example, he notes:
"The single most important factor in deliberate astral projection is the desire to leave the physical body." (pg. 49)
I agree, and Sylvan Muldoon said the same thing.

Like many books (e.g. Salvatore Caesar Scordato's You Can Fly, he stresses the need for intense and realistic visualization. Curiously, he ignores the use of other imagined senses (touch, sound, etc.) which can also trigger OBEs (e.g. Robert Bruce's Astral Dynamics). He gives a fairly good rendition of the Target Technique found in so many books, but he gives somewhat of a prelude by talking about the Japanese method of "Counting the Steps." Again, an interesting twist on an old concept.

He also suggests some unique techniques that I don't remember reading anywhere else, such as this one:
"You might imagine being anchored in some way to the sea bed and needing desperately to force your way to the surface." (pg. 51)
Now that's creative! I love it. Of course, you still need the prerequisite relaxation which is only mentioned in passing:
"The pressures of everyday life must be completely ignored: your muscles as well as your mind must be relaxed and all tension must be overcome. You must not even be anxious to succeed in projecting, as anxiety of any kind is a barrier to successful astral projection. If exteriorization fails to occur, the failure must simply be accepted and another attempt made at a later date." (pg. 52)
Another interesting OBE technique is:
"Many astral projectors maintain that the course of the released double is often spirally from the head, and this course can be visualized in order to induce projection." (pg. 55)
Many OBErs (William Buhlman, for example) say that the astral plane is a place where thoughts become things (thought-forms) before they manifest as physical reality. Martin has some unique and interesting twists on this concept. I thought this was a creative way to look at things:
"In other words, thought is a creative act in the astral world, and if we imagine the astral body whirling towards a narrow point of release or climbing out of the physical body, this will inevitably encourage those actions to take place: the thought is enough to set the astral body in motion." (pg. 58)
He recommends lying on your back (which most authors do) but curiously, he suggests lying on the floor instead of your bed. This is probably to break the familiarity trap.

Another technique he gives is this:
"Another childhood case involved fairly basic reflections on the question of personal identity - that is, concentration on questions such as 'What am I?', or 'Who am I?' - to produce separation from the physical body." (pg. 89)
Besides the techniques, there are several good (but old) narratives, not only of OBEs but also of autoscopy (doppelgänger) and shared dreams (which I believe are unconscious OBEs), shared by three different people.

This is an old book, but packed full of gems. This is a relatively small book, as Astral Projection books go, but it's good. The physical size is only slightly larger than a postcard. It's only 94 pages long, but the margins and font are small, which means there's enough content to satisfy. The grammar, spelling and writing are all professional quality.

I'll give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
03 March 2020


If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.

If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews