Monday, September 4, 2023

Review: The Study and Practice of Astral Projection

The Study and Practice of Astral Projection

by Robert Crookall

Today I’m reviewing The Study and Practice of Astral Projection: The Definitive Survey on out-of-the-body experiences by Robert Crookall.

The book is copyright 1960, which makes it older than even Robert Monroe’s books. This was one of the first books I read on the subject in the 1980s.

If I had to sum up this book in a few words, I’d say two things: first, that it’s mostly out-of-body narratives (people’s personal experiences) and second, that it was one of the earliest attempts at a “definitive” survey on OBEs, surpassed only by William Buhlman’s outstanding book from 2001, The Secret of the Soul.

If you've been following my blog, you know how much I love OBE narratives. In fact, reading them before bed often helps people induce their own OBEs. This book has got them.

Crookall divides this book into two sections: Natural OBEs and Enforced OBEs. The "natural" OBEs are divided into 4 groups: cases in which the people nearly died (NDEs), were very ill, were exhausted, and were in good health. The "enforced" OBEs are those induced by anesthetics, suffocation, falling, hypnosis, etc. There are also several appendixes. In fact, the appendixes make up about a third of the book:

  1. History of the subject (which is only rivaled by Anthony Peake's excellent book, The Out of Body Experience).
  2. Additional details.
  3. Incomplete natural experiences.
  4. Certain "dreams" that may be OBEs.
  5. Statements of the "dead" regarding their experiences (from spirit mediums).
  6. Statements of the "dead" regarding sleep (from spirit mediums).
  7. Arnold Bennett's resume of Theosophical Teachings.
  8. "Thought Forms".
  9. Evidence, Direct and Indirect.

The first time I read this book, I was fascinated by the OBE narratives and the science behind the analysis, but in retrospect, I could never have fully appreciated the book because I didn't have the history or context I do today. Today I can fully appreciate the book. Unbeknownst to me when I read it in the 1980s, Crookall gives astral projection narratives (and summaries) from some of the biggest names in the genre: Sylvan Muldoon, Oliver Fox, Yram, Horace Leaf, Frederick Sculthorp, Vincent Turvey, Alexandra David-Neel, etc.

Crookall doesn't give many techniques to induce the OBE state. I only found one, on page 74:

"My method is to imagine the astral body vibrating faster and faster--to imagine it so hard that I can actually feel it." (pg. 74)

He does, however, give a few hints here and there, such as:

"Prolonged illness and fasting are among the factors that favour the production of these experiences." (pg. 21)

"It is just as if the astral body were a train seeking an opportunity to slip away without its passenger--which does seem to be the case, for I find that if I let my attention wander for only a moment, all is lost, and I am asleep." (pg. 75)

In chapter 24 of my first book, when I described my preferred technique, I stressed the need to make your mind completely blank, devoid of thoughts and emotions. (You can read it at this link.) Not many AP/OBE books talk about that. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this in the narrative for Case 78:

"She said, 'When entirely quiescent, one seems to move out of the Physical Body.'" (pg. 82)

With so many narratives, the book also contains some interesting cases of OBEs in which verifiable evidence was obtained. For example,

"...He said that he woke just before 7 a.m. feeling as if he were fully dressed and that he suddenly saw my room, with me in bed. The only unusual thing he noticed was that the white cot, which was generally in the nursery, was at the foot of our bed with the child in it. He whistled to me, and leaned over the cot. The child sat up and spoke and he was turning to come over to me when he heard a tap at the door and the whole thing vanished...The times were identical and he could not possibly have known that the child's cot was in my room unless he had seen it. I had not told him that the child was ailing." (pg. 108)

Here's another:

"While unconscious, she felt herself leave her body and immediately found herself in her husband's bedroom, at home, many miles distant from the hotel. A man, a friend and neighbour, was asleep in the same room as her husband. Leaning against the head of the bed was a stout cudgel which had some bark still attached. The room itself was in great disorder. She stroked her husband's face and tried to awaken his friend. But she remained unobserved by them...[After returning to her body]...
The doctor told her that she had been given up as dead. She described her experience. The doctor checked up with the story and every detail was verified. It turned out that her husband's friend had come to spend the evening at the house. During his visit a rat ran across the floor. They hunted it with a club which had part of the bark on. They upset furniture in doing so. The friend stayed the night, the club being left handy in case the rat returned during the night." (pgs. 131-132) 

The book is 234 pages long with small font and big margins. There's plenty of material there to satisfy.

The writing and editing are professional, but the material is outdated. I only found a few minor typos. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
05 September 2023


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