What is the Astral Body?
Article by Craig Hamilton-Parker about the Astral Body and projecting the astral body on physical death.
When a person is ill, the colors of the aura go dark and pull in close to the body. When death comes, the aura withdraws into the body, ready to leave in what mystics call the astral body. This astral form of the human body is made of prana and looks like it is made of light.
There are three main sheaths that encase the soul:
The physical body
The physical body houses the spirit. It is a wonderful piece of organic machinery but is not the real you. The body is like a set of clothes. We put them it on when we are born and cast it aside when we die.
The physical body is animated by the prana life force of the astral body. It is connected at seven main points, called by the Sanskrit as chakras–which translates literally as “’wheel” although most people envision them as lotus flowers of light. The seven major chakras, or energy centers, correspond to the endocrine glands of the body and run upward along the spinal chord.
Centered along the spine, the chakra points correspond with the base of the spine, just below the navel, just below the rib cage, the center of the chest, the top of the throat, the center of the forehead, and the very top of the head. As a person spiritually awakens, his life force becomes centered on the upper chakras. For example, a person mainly interested in sex and power will have their prana energy centered on the chakra at the base of the spine. A person focused on spirituality and enlightenment will have their prana energy centered on the crown chakra at the top of the head.
When I see the aura, I am looking at the outer part of the astral body. The Hindus call the astral body the Linga-Sharira, a Sanskrit word meaning “design body.” The Ancient Egyptians called it the Ka, the Greeks called it the pneuma, and the Jewish Kabbalistic doctrines call the astral bodies the five souls. Other terms include the etheric double, perisprit, doppelganger, phantom, spook, and so on.
The astral body is an energy equivalent of the physical body. It has astral duplicates of all the internal organs, the nerves, the arteries, as well as the physical frame and even our familiar face. According to the Theosophists, this astral body also has a record of all the human memories experienced by the person. All living things, including plants, have an astral framework that is with us from birth and determines the growth and form of the physical being.
The Etheric Field
The part of the astral body that reacts with the physical body is the etheric field. This is seen by psychic people as a blue/red light that runs like a line around the body frame. It is most easily seen at the tips of the fingers if you look at them in a very low light. A technique I teach my students is to look between the gap that’s formed if you hold your two index fingers close together. In the subdued light, you will see fine lines of light dancing between the two fingers. This is the etheric field of the astral body.
The astral body is also considered the seat of the emotions, so it is also sometimes called the emotional or desire body. Some people also call the higher function of the astral body the mental body. Other esoteric teachings refer to a number of distinct planes of the afterlife, each with its own corresponding “vehicle” of consciousness. Just as there are seven chakras, so too are there seven etheric sheaths that vibrate at different levels of spirituality.
Becoming aware of the astral body
Spiritual Underwear (Astral Shells)
When we die, we shed our body in the same way we would remove our clothes. At the same time, we shed part of our astral body–the part that acts as the interface between the physical and the spiritual. This is the part that allows the spirit to use the will to move the body or make the brain function. It is not quite a gross matter or spirit. I suppose we could call it our spiritual underwear.
Some mystical teachers say that, after death, the astral body separates from the physical body and also from the causal body. It becomes an “astral shell”’ that has no inherent consciousness of its own. It may occasionally manifest as a ghost. The Hindus call it the Bhuta, when it is released as a separate entity from the body and spirit. They consider it to be a devil. Indeed, some practitioners of the black arts use discarded “astral shells” as vehicles for their sorcery. Unlike the Tulpas of Tibet, that is created by intensive visualization, these entities have a material basis to them.
According to the oculist Ena Petrovna Blavatsky who the founded the Theosophical Society in 1875, after death the astral body continues as a separate entity. It remains near the deserted physical body until its energy is dissipated. Occasionally, it will become visible. If she is right about this, it means that once you enter your spiritual state after death, you would see not only your physical body. You would see a phantom duplicate of yourself hovering around your corpse. I would anticipate that it would be quite a hard experience seeing your own corpse, let alone meeting an astral equivalent of yourself at the same time!
Blavatsky and the Theosophists also claim that mediums do not communicate with the spirits but with these astral shells that contain the memory impressions of the departed person. The enigmatic Christians take this argument a step further. They claim that the astral shells are animated by demons that trick us into believing that we are in communication with real spirits. Their intent is to lead us away from the paths of righteousness and into hell.
But, there are a number of flaws in the arguments. First, these arguments are put forward by people who are not mediumistic and who have no direct experience of what it’s like to make a communication. When the spirit links, I become aware of the whole of the spirit person. I sense their memories, their thoughts, and their feelings of love towards the recipient of the message. The evidence they convey is often filled with humor, and it carries with it the whole weight of the human personality. This is not an animated astral shell; it is a fully functioning consciousness.
Spirit communicators can not only give evidence about their own lives but can occasionally tell us things about situations they would not have encountered when on earth. If they were just astral memory traces, they would only be able to give messages up to the point they died. However, spirit communicators know all about what has taken place since their death. They will often tell the sitter what they have been doing on their way to the consultation. Similarly, why should a demon animate a spirit to bring love and comfort? Many of the people who come to me go away with their Christian faith restored and a renewed interest in actively making God part of their life.
Too much importance is made of the astral shell. Usually, those who have a vested religious interest in undermining mediumistic philosophies attack the idea. It is probable that there is residue energy, but this dissipates quickly after the death of the physical body. I feel that the Chinese Taoist philosophy comes closest to the truth of the matter. According to Taoism, the spirit (soul) has two parts: yang, which is the spiritual part and yin, which is the physical part. At physical death, the spirit (yang) leaves the body and goes to God, the yin (earthly body) returns to the earth and is no more.
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‘What to Do When You are Dead’ explores what happens after death and describes the world we will find there. It is a powerful book that draws on near death experiences, spiritual traditions as well as the mediums direct experiences.
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References and Works Cited
- Hamilton-Parker, Craig (2010) What To Do When You Are Dead Sterling imprint Barnes & Noble ISBN 978-1-4027-7660-1 (Languages: English, Dutch, Portuguese) BUY THE BOOK HERE