You may have read that astral projection will allow you to visit actual people or actual places either near or far away in real time. You may have heard of shamans using astral projection or journeying across the physical landscape in search of herds of animals, healing herbs, or a safe route for a traveling tribe. Remote Viewing is another term used (often by psychics or mediums) to refer to the ability to see something in a location other than that in which the physical body is located. This physical bi-location (physically being in two places at once) is not supported by science and is not necessary to achieve the results we are looking for in traditional Wicca. You may also have heard that astral projection is a dangerous or complicated procedure requiring silver or gold threads, floating above your body and leaving yourself at the mercy of unseen beings. Projecting into the astral is really a very simple and safe procedure. Day-dreaming, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, meditation, astral projection, trance are all processes involving the same physiological phenomenon. Astral projection is an extension of meditation and a form of trance. It is as natural as falling asleep and waking up. The biggest danger in astral travel is that you will fall asleep and wake up feeling rested but silly for missing a nice journey.
What we, on this site, mean by astral projection is the ability to move around, at will, in non-ordinary reality. Our reality (everything of which we are aware - both physical and non-physical) can be broken down into two basic categories. The first is ordinary reality (everything you perceive with your eyes open). When we are operating in ordinary reality we are using any or all of our five basic, physical senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. It is in ordinary reality that most of us spend the majority of our waking time. It is where we need to be in order to move about in the physical world safely, to work, to go to school, drive, perform surgery or operate machinery.
Non-ordinary reality is an over-all term for any place you can go with your eyes closed. This includes everything from what you see when you momentarily close your eyes, to day dreams, night dreams, meditation, astral projection or journeying, and all levels of trance. In some esoteric disciplines the astral plane is just one specific location or layer of non-ordinary reality. On this site, however, when we talk about astral projection, travel, or journeying we are referring to exploring, via trance, any landscape within non-ordinary reality. We begin with establishing a personal astral temple or astral sanctuary.
Astral travel in traditional Wicca can be used for many purposes, among them: meditation, meeting the gods (and perhaps animals), solving problems, doing rituals, and learning more about nature and life. Travel in non-ordinary reality is safe, but if you have any fears or hesitation about it then just don't do it. It may not be the right time for you to try. Think about it again when your life is more settled and you can feel at ease or find a qualified teacher with whom you can work in person. Most importantly: Do NOT attempt astral projection while driving or operating heavy machinery.
As with meditation, you should be well rested and clear-minded. This means no alcohol or drugs and no heavy meal just prior to your journey. We understand that in some cultures and traditions hallucinogenic drugs or plant allies are common aids for shamanic or astral journeying, but they are not necessary and are forbidden in the Blue Moon tradition.
Pick a safe and quiet physical place in which to begin your astral journey. You will want to pick a place and time where you will not be disturbed - not because it is dangerous to be disturbed while traveling astrally, but because it is inconvenient to be disturbed. Some people feel more comfortable if they cast a circle before doing their astral projection but this is not necessary unless you believe it is necessary for you. Also be sure you will have enough uninterrupted time. Fifteen minutes is a minimum, but a half hour to an hour is much better.
Wear comfortable clothing that won't be a distraction. Dim the lights or light a candle. Choose a type of incense you will burn each time you do astral travel. Mix your own blend according to one of the many books available or choose your favorite stick or cone. The important thing is to use the same type each time - at least until you get proficient at astral travel. When you use the same type of incense each time just the scent of it will help you relax and help get you where you are going most quickly. We recommend sitting (either on the floor, a cushion or a chair) but some people do prefer lying down. Begin by centering and grounding. Centering is making your spine straight, and grounding making a conscious effort to relax and allow your stress to drain away while you make a connection with the Earth. Do not worry about making your mind blank - just relax. If you have difficulty relaxing you may find a book or tape on self-hypnosis helpful, but you do not need a particularly deep state of relaxation to begin astral projection. You might want to try counting slowly from one to ten feeling your relaxation get deeper with each number.
If this is your first astral journey you will need to establish a home base in the astral which we refer to as the astral temple. This does not need to literally be a temple building. Most often, for Wiccans, it is a place in nature - a clearing in a forest, an open meadow, a beach, or the entrance to a cave are all common starting places. Many people choose a place that they have actually been to in ordinary reality and to which they attach fond memories. Alternatively it can be a place you have seen in a movie or book, or the ideal place of your imagination. It could include a primitive hut, a castle, or any other place which appeals to you. It should be a place which you find beautiful, a place in which you feel safe and free from interruption (you wouldn't want your astral temple to be a busy street corner or any place where you would expect to meet other people). It does not matter where in the world your chosen place is located in ordinary reality. It does not matter which physical features (mountains, lakes, streams, seas, etc.) are near your place in ordinary reality. What you are doing is plucking a scene out of ordinary reality and fixing it in your mind in non-ordinary reality. These scene is no longer necessarily connected to the land mass in which you visisted it in ordinary reality. You no longer need to travel by plane, boat or car to get to it. If you have a photograph or drawing of your favorite place study it for a while. If not, you might want to make a sketch of it or simply try to recall all the details you can about the place. If you don't remember a lot of details, that's ok too.
Relax, breath naturally and close your eyes, and find yourself in your chosen place, your astral temple . Finding yourself in your familiar place, but in non-ordinary reality, you now have infinitie possibilities for exploration and discovery.
For some reason many people over complicate this part of the procedure to an astounding degree. Its really very simple: Close your eyes as you continue to relax. Then in your mind visualize your astral temple as though you are sitting (as you are in ordinary reality) in the middle of it. At first it may feel like you are pretending, but ignore that feeling and follow the rest of the procedure. Throughout the rest of the exercise your physical body is still and your physical eyes are closed. Any mention of body parts refer to the astral body which is in the astral temple.
Open your eyes in your astral place, and look around. Be sure that you are in your astral body. You do this by looking at your hands and feet. Open and close hands, examine your fingernails, wiggle your feet. Feel the ground or floor on which you are sitting. Notice the temperature of the ground. Is it dry or wet? Sniff the air. Notice what aroma is there (incense? flowers? vegetation?) What do you hear? (Birds? Insects? Wind? Water?)
Figure out which direction is East in your astral place. Notice the position of the Sun. (Is it rising? Over head? Setting behind you?) Turn slowly clockwise viewing everything you can see from your position in the middle of your astral place. Don't try to do too much on your first journey. If you have difficulting seeing a lot of details on your first few trips do not be concerned. It gets easier with practice.
When you are ready to return home sit back down in the middle of your astral temple where you started and close your eyes. Relax, and then count slowly up from one to ten feeling yourself become more alert and aware with each number. When you reach ten open your eyes, take a deep breath and rub your hands together, touch your face, or feel the floor to ground yourself back in ordinary reality.
When you get comfortable going to your astral temple and just relaxing and looking around the next step is to explore a bit. If you astral temple has no water source you may want to explore somewhere toward the West to find a pond, stream, sea, etc. If it is on the beach, perhaps it would be nice to find a forest. Perhaps you would like to find a particular type of tree, a meadow of wildflowers, a deserted cabin...the possibilities are endless. Astral paths can, amazingly, lead to other countries, even other continents. Maybe there is a cave you can explore.
If you have not yet had any close encounters with a god or goddess you may meet them in your astral temple. In fact if you plan on it and tell them politely that you would like to meet them it is quite likely that you will meet them there. Do not expect necessarily to see them in human form. You may only feel a presence or hear a voice, or there may be an even more subtle sign. Sometimes they do not make their presence known until later after your astral journey is over. Some people like the idea of finding an animal guide. You can meet these in the astral as well. You might find something as you explore which you'd like to bring back to your astral temple.
A little more advanced journey might include planting a tree or garden, creating a ritual area, and even doing an entire ritual (including casting the circle, calling the gods and elements, etc.) within your astral temple or nearby area. In fact many people find astral rituals preferable to rituals done in ordinary reality - especially if they do not have privacy in their living quarters or they are away from home for Moons or Sabbats and unable to carry their favorite tools, etc. Do not attempt to do too many different things during one journey.
Your astral temple and meditation
The same techniques used for astral projection are used for meditation. Go to your astral temple and find a nice place there to sit and meditate. Do not worry about clearing your mind. Pick a topic, a question or an object on which to meditate. When you are finished return home as with astral projection.
Q. I always fall asleep when I try to meditate or astral travel, what am I doing wrong?
A. You probably aren't getting enough sleep at night. Try getting more sleep or try practicing your astral travel in the morning just after you wake up.
Q. How do I find time to work on my astral travel when my kids/spouse/roommates/parents/dogs/etc. are always demanding my attention?
A. That can be a tough one, but if you can find time to take a bath practice your astral travel there. Combine it with a nice ritual bath (candles, incense, bath oil) and it can be as good as a weekend vacation.
Q. I will be doing fine and then a dog will bark, or a police car will go by with the siren screaming...how do I tune these out?
A. If you are not naturally tuning out all outside noises try this before beginning your astral journey: Tell yourself that each noise you hear will be a signal to go deeper into trance and that each noise will only help you on your journey and not interrupt it. If you do this each time you will soon find that noises do not bother you.
Q. I know I had a great experience while in my astral temple, but now I can't remember it! What can I do?
A. If you had valuable experiences those experiences stay with you even if you can't consciously remember them. Your astral experiences will be positively affecting you regardless of whether you can recall all of the details. If you do have an experience or make a discovery which you feel you must bring back with you, you can try creating a trigger point. For example: You have met a goddess in your astral temple and She tells you that you have an important task to do. She says you must practice having more patience with younger people. You know this is an important message and you do not want to forget it (its not nice to let the gods down). Take one hand and press on a part of your body (maybe your elbow - something a little bit unusual). While you are pressing tell yourself that when you return from your journey and want to remember the goddess' message you will remember it when you press your elbow. Repeat her message while you press your elbow in your astral temple. You may not need the trigger, but it will be there just in case.