Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Out-of-Body Experience: The History and Science of Astral Travel

The Out-of-Body Experience

by Anthony Peake

Today I'm reviewing The Out-of-Body Experience: The History and Science of Astral Travel by Anthony Peake, copyright 2011.

The subtitle, "The History and Science of Astral Travel" is perfect, because that's exactly what it is. Part 1 is the history and part 2 is the science. Peake won my heart right away in the prologue when he wrote:

"My experience made me realize that I had been asking the wrong questions. To try to discover if the out-of-body experience is real or imagined is to miss the point entirely. What I should have been doing was enquiring into the very nature of perception itself and, by implication, the nature of the phenomenal world that our senses tell us is so real." (pg. xvii)

In the first few chapters, Peake covers all the basics of the history of astral projection, out-of-body experiences, and near-death experiences, and he does so with a scientist's perspective. He talks about various religious traditions, like the Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism), Tibetan Dream Yoga, Blavatsky and the Theosophists, and so forth. He also talks about his own experience and how he became interested in the subject.

In chapter 4, he talks about Robert Monroe, although he seemed to treat Monroe's early OBEs from Journeys Out of the Body the same as his later "Focus Level" experiences, whereas I always had the impression they're quite different. He talks about the laboratory experiments Dr. Charles Tart did with Monroe and so forth.

In chapter 5, he talks about the remarkable Ingo Swann and the experiments he did with Dr. Karlis Osis [typoed as "Otis"] and Dr. Janet Mitchell, which leads into the discussion of remote viewing and non-local perception. In one experiment, Swann correctly identified 8 out of 8 objects placed out of sight in the room, the odds of which were calculated to be more than 40,000 to 1. He also talked about Swann's mission to visit Jupiter in an OBE state. Still, there were problems with controls and protocols that hardened skeptics would scoff at, but that's treated fairly. IIRC, the meow-counting experiment with Swann's cat, Spirit, wasn't mentioned.

In chapter 6 he talks about some of the modern-era OBE groups, such as:

  • International Academy of Consciousness (IAC) and its founder, Waldo Veiera.
  • Tom Campbell of "My Big Toe" fame who worked with Robert Monroe.
  • Eckankar and its founder Paul Twitchell.

In chapter 7 he talks about Lucid Dreaming, false awakenings, and such. He talks about the relationship between lucid dreaming and OBEs and the work done by Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow that compared OBEs with lucid dreams and other body-boundary disturbances. This chapter had some mind-blowing observations related to dreams and deja vu. He talks about a guy named Ian Wilson, who had deja vu and whose dreams often came true. According to Peake, Wilson taught himself to lucid dream, then manipulated his dreams from the lucid dream state. In this way, he was able to induce his own deja vu and actually change the outcome of physical reality, essentially making his lucid dreams come true! This is astonishing, and it fits with observations from my 2017 blog article titled "Deja Vu, Synchronicity, Fate, Destiny and the Law of Attraction".

After a while, I noticed Peake repeatedly saying things like "The implications of this are staggering." It became almost cliche'. And indeed they are.

I would have liked more OBE history, covering the early pioneers like Sylvan Muldoon, Oliver Fox, Charles Lancelin and such. Peake mentions a lot of it in passing, but let's face it: it's a lot of information and to do it justice would have made the book a lot bigger.

I felt Peake didn't do enough to examine the evidence of whether OBEs are "real" or hallucination. He did point out the lack of concrete evidence and how OBE perceptions are often wrong, but he could have spent chapters more on this.

Part 2 is "The Science" and that's where this book really shines. Here he talks about the neurology of OBEs, the hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, the brain's TPJ (Temporo-Parietal Junction), the experiments of Olaf Blanke and Michael Pirsinger, and other scientists.

Shortly before I finished writing Hacking the Out of Body Experience, I had read Susan Blackmore's book, Seeing Myself on the hopes that it would spark some new scientific insights I could reference in the book. Blackmore's book was good, and I loved her scientific bent, but unfortunately it didn't really say much that wasn't already in Hacking. On the other hand, Peake's book is chalk full valuable scientific insights I could have used. It was everything I had hoped for in Blackmore's book.

For example, he talks about psychedelics like DMT and how they work and their relationship to Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). He talks about neurotransmitters that affect the brain, like Glutamate (think MSG--mono-sodium glutamate), and Ketamine, and how ketamine blockades the brain's NMDA receptors to prevent damage caused by glutamate floods. He talks about peptides like alpha-endopsychosin. He talks about endogenous morphines, the body's natural painkillers (think endorphins), luteinizing-hormone-releasing-hormone (LHRH) and its role in sleep paralysis. He talks about the pineal gland and how it generates the sleep hormone melatonin (and possibly DMT) and how it's broken down by monoamine oxidase (MAO). He talks about how melatonin levels are higher than normal in schizophrenic patients. And that's just the start. The book has tons of great material related to the science of OBEs.

But it doesn't end there. Peake also dives deep into the world of quantum physics in an attempt to determine how and why OBEs happen, why they seem so real, and what exactly they are. He talks about the various theories of Albert Einstein (and his "Spooky action at a distance"), David Bohm (think "Implicate Order"), Dr. John Bell, Richard Feynman and other fundamental physicists. He talks about non-locality and the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). He talks about how things exist "in potential" until they're observed, which collapses energy waves into matter. He talks about Dark Matter and how light is both a particle and a wave, and how these light waves can mysteriously travel through the "void" of outer space. Oh, and about quantum entanglement. Amazingly, Peake explains these all things in layman's terms that make it easier to understand (by their very nature they will never really be "easy to understand").

It's not just about the science, but how it all relates to OBEs.

The book is also very insightful. One of my favorite insights concerned entanglement and Einstein's "spooky action action at a distance:" when two particles are separated by space but "entangled" and how actions done to one particle somehow mysteriously affects the other. The analogy he presented blew me away: Peake suggests we imagine an aquarium with a fish. Facing the front of the aquarium is a video camera, and there's also a side-facing video camera. If you're looking at both cameras, when the fish turns, the cameras seem to record two different fish that are somehow "entangled." It seems like we are observing two fish that have some kind of one-to-one entanglement such that a change in one immediately affects the other. But in reality, it's all the same fish from different perspectives. When I read that analogy, a light-bulb came on over my head and I got goosebumps. Sounds like many mystics and Near-Death Experiencers who claim that separation is an illusion, right?

Another light-bulb came on when I read his bit about holograms. If you look at a hologram, it shows the image of an object. But when you break a hologram into pieces, each of those pieces also shows the entire object, but smaller. It is as if each area of the hologram contains a recording of the entire whole. Doesn't that just give you goosebumps? Sounds like those same mystics and NDErs who claim that we're all just fragments of one Divine Universal Consciousness, right?

Peake offers some explanations for OBEs and how they relate to the real world, as is hinted in the quote above from the prologue above (about asking the wrong questions.) It all has to do with the nature of perception and our interpretation of it. Peake suggests that we're not really "going out-of-body" in an OBE, but rather, "going within." In other words, we're switching modes of perception to a more quantum (or subatomic) level. What's actually changed is how we interpret these new perceptions. It all gets very wonderfully messy.

I'm not sure I agree with everything Peake suggests in the book. A few times I felt like he was, scientifically speaking, prematurely jumping to conclusions. To his credit, though, he didn't state theories as facts. He often amended clauses like "if this theory is true, the implications are astounding (mind-blowing, staggering or earth-shattering, insert your favorite superlative)" then he'd forge ahead with the next revelation.

The book is 222 pages with good margins, smallish font, which means there's a good amount of content. The writing is professional with excellent spelling and grammar [sans the Karlis Osis/Otis thing]. This is a remarkable book about out-of-body experiences, written mainly for science nerds and "brainiacs" like me. It contains no OBE techniques and only a few brief narratives but I'm still giving it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. I loved it. It really makes you think.

Bob Peterson
16 February 2021


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, February 2, 2021

Review: The Art and Practice of Astral Projection

Review: The Art and Practice of Astral Projection

by Ophiel

Today I'm reviewing the book The Art and Practice of Astral Projection by Ophiel.

This is one of the earliest books ever written in the modern era about astral projection. It was first published in 1961, the year I was born! So it predates even Robert Monroe's first book. It's also one of the earliest books I purchased for my OBE book collection in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I was turned off by the book back then because it takes a more "occult" approach to the subject. Looking at it with 40 years more experience, I appreciate the book a lot more now than I did when I was young.

Ophiel's real name was Edward C. Peach. Since I like pirates, a couple years ago, I made this funny meme:

This book is so old the author bemoans the lack of books and public information about astral projection. He complains about earlier authors and it even gets humorous. For example, he has a good dig at Yram:

"Yram tells all about HIS experiences and his experiments in Astral projection BUT HE DOES NOT TELL HOW TO DO IT. (He did it thru the symbol method). So what on earth good is this book to you, and your desire to learn this Art, if he does not tell HOW HE DID IT. Yram calls the method he used "An open secret" "known to all Occultists" Open indeed!!!" (pg. 97)

He also has a dig at Sylvan Muldoon:

"In my humble opinion Mr. Muldoon is a natural projector and I don't know if he can teach others to project for themselves or not. I wrote to him years ago asking this question but I received no satisfactory answer to my question and so I made no further attempts to question him." (pg. 97)

He even goes on to say:

"I have, at one time or another, tried to contact every known Occultist in the world that was living. I made contacts but none of them were worth very much. I found out very little of value. THEY WERE ALL WHY MEN. AND THERE WAS NOT A HOW MAN AMONG THEM." (pg. 97)

He does, however, give credit to the earlier authors and acknowledges them for their contributions to the study of astral projection.

So why the digs? In reading the book, I got the impression that when he was young, Ophiel wanted to learn Occult secrets, especially astral projection, so he contacted several occult societies, such as the Golden Dawn. He was turned down by all of them for various reasons, so he was forced to learn on his own. He was then greatly influenced by the articles and book by Oliver Fox, and from there learned Fox's OBE technique, "The Dream Method," which is basically inducing a lucid dream, then forcing yourself out of the dream, thus turning the lucid dream into an OBE. This turned out to be a good thing because then he wasn't bound by their rules or oaths and forced to keep their secrets. From there he developed his new OBE techniques, and presents them in this book. I might add, with a certain amount of disdain for people who would hide the knowledge away as occult secrets.

The book contains four main astral projection (out of body) techniques. The four are:

  1. Little System
  2. Dream Method
  3. Body of Light Method
  4. Symbol Method

Little System

The Little System is actually the earliest known account of the "Target Technique" as taught by William Buhlman and several other OBE authors. This is a good solid OBE technique. I've always liked Buhlman's description, but Ophiel claims to have developed it himself. So perhaps Ophiel's is the most original.

Dream Method

The Dream Method, as I said before, is Oliver Fox's technique of inducing a lucid dream, and then turning your attention away from the hallucinated dream world to a greater out-of-body perception.

Body of Light Method

The Body of Light Method is the truest "Occult technique" in the book. This is basically where you spend time visualizing and enforcing an imaginary second body, the "body of light." Ophiel's description is probably better than other versions in occult books because he's heavy on technique. For example, he has you spend a lot of time looking at your body parts and moving them physically, saying the body part's name aloud, then imagining the second body (the Body of Light) moving at the same time. This procedure reinforces that you're actually moving both bodies, astral and physical, at the same time. For example, look at your thumb, say the word "Thumb," move your thumb, and imagine your body of light's thumb moves at the same time, etc. Then you do the same thing with your eyes closed. Then you try to do the same without actually moving them physically, but still trying to "watch" the body of light move in your imagination.

He gives a detailed ritual for this technique, mostly based on the teachings of the Kabbalah (or "Cabala"): ancient Jewish Mysticism. So he has you face different directions, invoke holy names of God, etc. Rituals like this have their place, but I've never really believed in them as anything but a psychological tool. And if they work, why not use them, right?

Symbol Method

This is one of the earliest descriptions of using visualizing symbols to induce OBEs. A few authors, such as J.H. Brennan and Graham Nicholls, describe this technique. Ophiel uses Tattwa symbols. He says, in part:

"I am here going to repeat the before mentioned Truth - the basic fact – that all outer things come from the Inner and also that the Inner is the Real 'thing' while the outer is the symbol only of the Inner 'THING". I will also repeat it until it runs out of your ears that we (the fallen souls!) cannot deal, successfully, with this outer world in any way other than thru the Inner world first." (pg. 75)

He asks you to construct paper representations of basic symbols: egg-shaped, circle, triangle, crescent, oblong, etc., color them with prescribed colors, etc. Then practice looking at them, closing your eyes and visualizing them, etc.

J.H. Brennan offers a lot more options, with a lot less ritual and pretense.

Other Observations

While Ophiel is heavy on technique (which is good), he also shrouds the techniques in a fair amount of occult ritual, which for me is a turn-off.

The author offers some interesting observations about OBEs, for example:

"What I would like to have you understand for now is that, almost without exception, when you make ANY projection you first "hit" the Etheric plane." (pg. 37)


"It seems to be true that there is another life 'over there' that you live when you sleep 'here.'" (pg. 38)

I have seen this myself, so I agree. I also agree with this:

"...once you have made a projection from the physical body to the etheric plane, and after you have been there for a 'time', there is a very strong tendency to continue to project again and then again to the next inner plane!!!" (pg. 44)

He also talks about exit symptoms, like vibrations and strange noises.

"The actual change–birth-over–into–the–Etheric is often accompanied by the darndest collection of noises that you've ever heard!!!! Bangs. Thumps, Bumps, Rattles, Cracks, Voices calling out names, including your own, and even loud explosions." (pg. 45)


The book is 116 pages with decent formatting and small font, which means there's a good amount of content.

The writing is good, and personable. In other words, it reads more like a fireside chat, not some know-it-all "do it my way" dictate-by-rote teacher. He gives just enough narrative to let you know he's genuine: not just "book learning." It doesn't feel "occult." It's feels right. But because of its age, it wasn't spell checked as well as it should have been, so there are several spelling mistakes. He uses capitalization for emphasis, and he does this WAY too much. He also uses exclamation points way too much!!!!! But all in all it's a good book. I give it three and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Bob Peterson
02 February 2021


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