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


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