It would not be especially helpful to speak for too long of myths, except to nominate stars to their roles and to see that the ancient is thereby late. It must be said, however, that certain aspects of past culture are essential for understanding the world and its inhabitants, our psychological as well as technological evolution. The first story is worthy of mention for the light it sheds on world affairs, but here it must have seemed like something of a diversion from the main tale, which was at the stage of journeying outside the body.
The first astral excursion that I can document took place during the first year of my engagement with the witch-man, who had repeatedly told me during our arduous relationship that his spirit-guide had been a red-Indian brave. Although I was always sceptical of his rambling and preaching, I was not entirely immune to it, and maintained a passive interest, if not belief, in the things he told me.
On this night we went to sleep quite normally until I was roused in some way, at some stage, by quite the most marvellous sound, and a vision, which I described out loud from beyond the land of nod. All my senses were, it seems, remarkably intact, despite the slumberous state of my body, and I heard myself say quite clearly that I could ‘see magnesium burning’. I registered a tone of wonder in my voice for I knew not from where this vision came. The sound, more tribal even than the Zulus’, was the rhythmic beating of drums.
With my interest thus awoken I became almost fully conscious. None-visual awareness of my own position and of him lying next to me, the usual aspects of the room, all were totally lucid. I had no desire to open my eyes, such was the beauty and brilliance of the flame, and that sound, so clear, seemed to be composed of pure truth. Could this have been the shadow of silence? Despite this enchantment, I did not pursue the vision, which slipped away as did the sleep itself. I repeated once again that I could see magnesium burning, thinking this was reason enough for my bed-companion to pay attention. I remembered from chemistry lessons how that particular element always burned with an almost phosphorescent light, but he told me to go back to sleep.
The memory of the vision, or dream, is still vivid. Indeed it is more vivid than many more recent memories of mine, even now, more than 11 years later. The morning after I had recounted to him exactly what I’d seen and heard. I was a little disturbed when he bluntly informed that he had taken me to the Happy Hunting Grounds, which is the Red Indian paradise. I did not know WHAT to make of the information, for I had a sound conviction that I had experienced something genuinely supernatural, but no understanding of what it might mean. Maybe that vision is light.
When I questioned my companion further he elaborated a little, but not a lot, and appeared rather as if he were doing me a favour by explaining at all. It had apparently been easy for him to meet with my spirit at the point where it left my body at the onset of sleep. I had followed him (blindly I assume) until proximity to our destination revealed the beating of the drums and the ‘magnesium flame’, which were my first sight and sound of the camp fire and its invisible braves. At that point I had gained consciousness, panicked, and returned to my body instantly, retaining a vivid impression of what I had sensed. There are few who could resist the Shaman’s call and the longing for the earth by the ethereal was revealed to me during this journey through space to the chief foundation of heavens
The astral plane may be approached when the individual has ultimate control over his or her faculties. I have performed this task but once when I was dead drunk and once whilst fully conscious and in control.
The occasion of the dead drunk passing out happened during the first holiday I ever took with a man - a long weekend in Barcelona with John, and what a fantastically happy, drunken, riotous, gastronomically fabulous occasion that was. We were very good friends, and reeled home on the second night, rocket-fuelled on tequila and Spanish cocktails after a whole day of drinking, eating and seeing the glorious sites of that splendid city. I had matched him drink for drink, thanks to the masculine complicity of the final barman, who diligently topped up my own drink each time I tipped the contents of my glass into that of my best friend, whenever he had cause to visit the bathroom. Testament to my tolerance for alcohol at that time was the fact that I managed to remain the most capable member of our team and successfully directed us back to the hotel, homing instinct steadfastly intact, this being one of the most useful and noteworthy aspects of a bird’s brain.
We collapsed onto the hotel bed, which immediately started to spin in circles, whereupon I slid to the bathroom discreetly and threw up without any sort of fuss. I was instructed to drink water, an intelligent suggestion seeing as we might otherwise have died through an alcoholic consumption that had reached proportions set to be contested only once, several years later, when we faced the inquisition near Toledo, which has to be the most dramatic place on Earth, city of a thousand swords, impenetrable fortress of the first gothic kingdom on earth, the heartland of Spain, rising like a cracon from the waves.
After quietly relieving myself I lay back onto the bed and rapidly (within a few seconds) found myself up in the air with the sensation that I was hold of something which felt unusual and rather unpleasant. I looked up and found that my hands were gripping the ceiling of the room, curled right round the shallow board which made up the floor of the one above. I swayed around erratically, still completely drunk, and with no sense of fear whatsoever. I observed dispassionately the two bodies on the bed below me. I was clearly and almost idly aware of my own strength and murmured spontaneously that it was “...so powerful!”. I heard a reply whispered unmistakably into my right ear. “Why do you think I wanted it?”. A second later I pounced unwittingly, and probably quite menacingly, onto the male figure on the bed, but then woke up immediately from my brief passing out.
“I was on the ceiling, I was on the ceiling!” I cried with amazement, rather as if I’d recently climbed Everest wearing nothing but socks.
“Just drink water", he replied.
The second main occasion for conscious exploration beyond the body happened during the daytime, one Saturday or Sunday afternoon, while I was sober but (if truth be told) recovering from excessive drink the night before. My fragile physical state induced me to lie very, very still, very, very quietly, on my own, on the bed. It was actually quite pleasant.
As my body slipped down as if towards sleep I absentmindedly listened to the distant and disparate sounds of a lazy afternoon, which drifted both in through the open window and down from the living room, where John was watching television. At a certain point I recognised that I had fallen into a meditative state of almost total relaxation, but had managed to retain mental consciousness.
Avid adolescent reading of Carlos Castaneda, tales of the Happy Hunting Grounds, physical transformations, the hand of God, etc, had inspired me towards achieving the zen-like state of being and awareness for many years, precisely so that I could attempt an out of body experience without dying. For this reason I already had an idea of which barriers needed to be overcome. I had come close to my aim on other occasions and recognised certain signs as being my prelude to ‘astral projection’.
One of the signs I’d come to recognise over time as a herald of impending separation from my body, was a peculiar scenario regarding my right arm. In order to let the body sleep whilst the mind remains awake I find it essential to have a focus requiring no mental effort but which stimulates sufficient interest to distract me from other physical functions, such as: Blinking, twitching, scratching, snuggling, or any other dozy activities. In this regard, ambient sound is often more conducive than silence, which tends to bring about complete relaxation to the point of sleep. An audible focus, on the other hand, allows the mind to drift, although the noise should not be so stimulating that it actually becomes arousing.
On several occasions prior to this one I had found that this drifting of the mind was often followed by a strangely vigorous movement, a ‘waving of my arm’, which seemed to behave quite independently of my body as a whole. Even stranger was the fact that I could never quite ascertain whether my arm was physically and actually moving, or it was my dream arm flapping anxiously for no good reason that I could fathom. At such times I tended to wonder whether people would be worried if they could see me, as I realized that if I was physically moving I might have appeared to be having a fit. Maybe I was having a fit, but whatever the case might have been, it usually ended up with me just falling asleep anyway.
This time, however, I seized the moment with a bit more determination and instead of wondering what it was all about, I concentrated on the surreal action until I was able to control it. This took quite some effort: The rest of my body was still dormant but the arm seemed to have a life of its own, as if it were strong but struggling to grasp something. After around quarter of an hour I began to see that I might be able to use it as a kind of lever in order to climb out of my physical shell. With this in mind and with a great effort of will, I made a powerful swinging motion from my shoulder in an attempt to get out, and was able to direct the movement quite successfully. I was surprised, though, at the amount of resistance I felt, in that my dream or ‘astral’ body seemed to be attached to my physical self by a really thick and springy cord, rather like a bungee rope.
‘Getting out’ was actually more difficult than one would imagine. I had always assumed that it would be like serenely floating away, although I also had an idea that one could be ‘sucked’ out of the body forcibly by an external force. (See Appendix on Demonic Possession).
This ‘cord’, or other form of attachment, was coiled so tightly that I had to build up a lot of momentum by swinging my arm until, eventually, I discerned that my dream self was rocking forwards and away from its usual place. By this time I was feeling a genuine sense of achievement and without further ado my astral body dragged itself out and clung to the end of the bed.
I paused to gather my thoughts, well aware that I could be sprung back into place by that massive cord at any second and that any kind of registered shock or doubt, however mild, would have had the same effect. I was pleased to be still in control, surprised in fact, as my powers of concentration were not usually so effective. Or so I thought.
I took a few moments to accustom myself to the new situation and the pull of the cord loosened as I relaxed. I obeyed my first impulse without question, and this was to go and tell John what was happening. (To have a thought or impulse when in that state leads to its automatic enactment, as there are not the usual barriers to action that we find on the material plane. The ideas of the pure will are transformed into action without restraint and I remember very vividly the way things seemed).
The location of my visual perspective during this daytrip was at the usual level for me height-wise but my actual sight was ‘tunnelled’, by which I mean that it was as if I had one eye rather than two, while my peripheral vision was restricted. It was a bit like looking through a telescope, but in reverse, as things seemed a bit smaller, or more distant than usual; less substantial perhaps, or reflections of themselves. I buoyantly moved towards the stairs, from the bottom of which I could see John lying oblivious on the sofa, watching sport in his blue dressing gown. He seemed further away than he would have done if I had been there in body rather than soul
I felt like I had achieved quite a success and was rather elated. I wanted to convey this to John so he could witness what had happened. I attempted to call his name several times before suddenly realizing that I wasn’t actually making a sound, even though the effect of the name forming in my mind was the same to me as if I were speaking out loud. At that point it also occurred to me that visiting another person in spirit might not be a wise enterprise, as it might be seen as an invasion of their privacy. Rather than risk an unpleasant surprise for anyone on my first outing, I turned back towards the bedroom. A braver or less cautious person than I would probably have ventured much further, for better or worse. Some people would probably make it into outer space without too much worry but I am rather timid, and I was worried about what might happen to my body if I left it unmonitored for too long.
The door of my room was closed. It did not occur to me to question how I’d walked through it because my attention was drawn to a piece of writing pinned near to the top of it. I had somehow entered another dimension and, as I raised my hands to take hold of the script, I noticed that they looked curiously unlike my physical hands. I examined them briefly, remembering all the time that to see one’s hands whilst in a dream-like state is indicative of consciousness and self-control within that state. I started to read the verse.
It was clear from the start that the work was more brilliant than any other I had encountered and as the story unfolded I drank it in like nectar. I tried to commit the piece to memory but so perfect was the arrangement of words that my mind could barely comprehend their beauty, let alone learn them completely. The subject, however, had discernable meaning; I held in my hands the most sublime but humanly heart-breaking love story that had ever been written by one (a male) for the other. Actually, it was more than simply a love-story, it was metaphysical, scientific and historical too. The character of the author was laid bare by the words but the object of his love seemed to have been absent from his existence for an eternity, or no longer present, except as a memory or product of the imagination. A tale of lost or unrequited love.
In this tale I beheld the power of love, as if tears that sprang from a broken heart had fallen from the eyes of the beholder and transformed themselves directly into words on a page. This was a passion so great that I wonder how I even bore witness to the fruit of its longing, beauty and sorrow combined with infinity and sown as a microcosm of nature. So deep was this love that from the pain had been born the work of creation, which encompassed the whole of nature and found fragile first expression in the rainbow, wherein may be seen the depth of love as a blend of enlightenment and tears. This is the only thing that I remembered for sure from what I read, that an early or integral part of it was of a rainbow, sign of God’s covenant with the Earth.
As I read on, enthralled and governed by the power of these words, they were seamlessly transformed into a pictorial continuation of the scene being described. The view was evidently of the subject of the text, the vivid reality of paradise on earth, but seemed more glorious than sorrowful because the poignancy of the words, the pain within, had been used as the force for their manifestation and were thus reborn as positivity. I was completely taken up with what I saw, which seemed to satisfy every yearning for understanding within myself, even though the complete meaning was beyond my realm of knowledge.
The scene itself was actually quite simple and perhaps I was so overwhelmed by its beauty that I experienced it as pain rather than joy. This I only knew today, but I knew before now that only love can break your heart. I saw green fields appearing in front of me as if I were standing at the edge of a botanic kingdom. At the centre of this world was the largest and most wonderful tree I had ever seen. Could this have been the tree of life, was the thought this gave me?