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Astral Vision and Travel

by Aaron Leitch

Throughout these courses on Hermetic Magick, the student will find it necessary to generate various visual images. Some of these are simple- like the pentagrams of the Lesser Banishing Ritual or the Spheres of the Middle Pillar exercise. More advanced classes will call for more intricate mental pictures, such as images of Gods and Archangels.

Likewise, there are advanced classes aimed at the astral exploration of various occult symbols and spiritual realms. What you will learn in this course will prepare you for all of this. In fact, you might be astounded at the rapid success this technique can produce. I have taught it for the last ten years, and students have usually reported 100% success within a week or two. Of course, if it takes you longer- even if it were months or years- it would be no less beneficial to your progress to experiment with these techniques often.

What is Astral Travel Exactly?

The very first myth about astral travel I wish to dispel is the concept of "Out of Body.” I do not mean to imply that such “bi-location” experiences can not take place. However, I feel it is unfortunate that the term “Out of Body” (or OOB) has been chosen to label the experience. It has led to an erroneous perception of astral bodies “separating” from their human hosts and flying away into other dimensions. This leads to several theoretical problems- such as how the astral body maintains its connection to the physical body. Many texts describe a “silver cord” that stretches from one to the other, and can be severed. If this occurs, so the theory goes, physical death results while the astral self remains trapped in a far-off realm.

The fact is that astral travel does not involve any separation from your physical body at all. As you will learn in later classes on magickal Vibration, all of the spiritual realms you see described in occult texts exist all around you all of the time. They are not out there somewhere stacked upon each other like pancakes. That, like the terms OOB and even astral travel itself, is merely a convenient model used for illustration.

Instead, the spiritual realms inter-permeate one another and the physical. Visiting one of these places involves a process more like tuning in a frequency (or, as modern Hermeticism terms it, a Vibration), rather than actually traveling anywhere. In fact, you remain with your body at all times, even if you are also a million miles away. There is no danger of getting lost, nor of bad things happening to your body while you are away.

The next problem with the OOB concept is the difficulty it adds to the learning process. I, personally, spent years laying on my back vainly trying to figure out exactly how to leave my physical body. Most of the people I have met who have attempted the same techniques have reported similar results. At the most, one can walk away from these experiments with an education in relaxation exercise.

Now that something has been said about the differences between the map and the territory it represents, we can shift back into the usual language of astral travel. It is true that astral travel allows one to visit other planes of existence- populated with their own creatures and intelligences. Our first step is to learn something about the nature of these other planes.

Consider, as an example, the practice of traveling through the Planetary Spheres- also known as the Seven Heavens of Judaic mystical lore. The ancient Jewish mages known as Merkavah (Chariot) Mystics, made a practice of exploring these “Celestial Palaces” during religious visionary experiences. In the mythological writings which describe these Heavens, they are always called higher realms. However, when we read the writings of the Jewish mystics who explored them, the journey is often described as an inner one.

Early Christian mysticism- known to us today as Gnosticism- also recognized a series of heavenly realms. (As many as three hundred and sixty-five!) In their system, too, gaining each Heaven was a personal spiritual experience. In some texts, the gaining of each level is described as a baptism.

So if the astral realms are, in fact, gained through the inner realms of the self, then attempting to get "out of body" is a mis-guided goal. Some will insist that they do have interaction with other beings- sometimes other humans right here on Earth- while astral traveling. I do not deny these experiences! It is not my intention to suggest that astral travel is “all in the mind.” Neither is this suggested by the ancient or modern Jewish and Gnostic mystics. What I am suggesting, however, is that these experiences (like all experiences) occur through the mind.

The following model will be of much interest to those familiar with the Qabalistic Tree of Life. It is, in fact, a drawing of the Tree- only it is shown in a more ancient form which the Gnostics, Jewish Mystics, and even the classical Solomonic mystics of the Middle Ages would recognize:

This is a simple illustration of the most ancient model of the universe: Earth (the physical realm) abides at the dead center of the universe, surrounded by the successive orbits (Spheres) of the Planets, bordered all around by the belt of the Zodiac, and finally the entire structure resting in the heart of God Himself. This is simply a model of the Seven Heavens themselves (the Heavens being the Spheres of Luna through Saturn).

As the Hermetic axiom states, “that which is below is like unto that which is above.” This is the basis of the horoscope, which supposes that the positions of the planets and stars are reflected in the soul of the individual. Consider, however, that “reflection” very often includes the concept of inversion. A name written on paper will appear backward when reflected in a mirror. Likewise, a greater universe ever-expanding toward God reflects into the human soul as an ever-deepening journey toward God at the heart of all things:

Notice that here the aspect of “God” is called the Divine Spark- and it rests within the very core of the individual. Likewise, the "Earth" (physical realm) is termed the physical body, and rests on the outside. According to Gnostic teaching, the human soul radiates outward from the heart of one's being. From there, the Zodiac and successive Spheres of the planets work to shape and direct the soul- as indicated in the birth chart. Finally, the physical body is the “end result” of the shape and growth of the inner self. In order to gain adepthood, the Gnostic or Merkavah Mystic had to purify and master each of these levels of “self” on his way toward the pure Divine Spark within.

Some Merkavah texts even describe the journey through the Heavenly Palaces as a descent rather than an ascent. The first step in the process was to gain an ecstatic vision of the Throne of God (called the Merkavah, from the description in Ezekiel, chapter one). Beginning from this highest position, the mage was to turn back toward Earth and ride downward through the Spheres- gaining various experiences along the way, depending on his own spiritual needs.

The point is that these two models of the Spheres (God-outermost and God-innermost) exist together, one metaphorically above the other. (As above, so below.) In fact, they are one and the same- just as any reflection is one and the same with the object it mirrors. From the standpoint of astral travel, one does not need to get “out of body” to reach the Heavenly Spheres. Instead, it is necessary to turn inward and reach the corresponding Sphere within oneself. Once that is achieved, one can very simply (and naturally) slide from the completely personal experience of the inner-Sphere, to the collective experience of that Sphere in the larger universe. The gateways to the outside are found on the inside.

The next step in demystifying astral travel is realizing that you have been astral traveling all of your life. Entering the inner-doorway to the astral involves gaining a certain state of consciousness, and it is a state you have achieved many times on your own. Have you ever been so extremely bored that you “zoned out”? You probably entered a “daydream”, and lost track of your immediate surroundings. You were perfectly awake, yet also “a million miles away.” That, in essence, was astral travel. Dreaming while asleep is another example, which is why lucid dreaming is a sought-after skill by mystics. The only thing that separates dreams and daydreams from true astral projection is that the latter is a technique for doing it at will.

Sensory Deprivation

Sensory deprivation is the oldest known method of inducing both visions and astral projection. If one had the luxury to undergo full sensory deprivation- such as with a flotation tank- it would provide something of a short-cut to the astral experience. In fact, we will be using some aspects of deprivation in this class- specifically visual deprivation.

Our ancient shamanic brethren used far more primitive methods. Some of the most common were dance, drumming, and consumption of psychotropic plants. However, some of their methods were extremely harsh- involving physical pain and body-mutilation. These techniques would produce results far quicker than a modern sensory deprivation chamber, but, as we shall see, they are certainly not desirable.

In Shamanic cultures, an initiate into a mystery tradition was forced into astral projection for the purpose of coming into contact with Spirit Guides, Gods, Elevated Masters, and other such spiritual contacts within the tradition. Very often, this happened on its own, completely unexpected by the shaman-to-be. He might be seized by a deadly illness and lie in delirium for days. He might suffer from epilepsy and become racked with seizures. He might be attacked by an animal, struck by lightning, or countless other life-threatening ordeals. These experiences are shocking to the mind and body, and can often result in quite natural visionary (astral) experiences.

However, in some cases, a new shamanic aspirant was not taken unawares by a delirium. If he was to be initiated into the tribe's mysteries, the ordeal had to be induced so the spiritual contacts could be established. The obvious way to accomplish this, of course, was to simply duplicate the physical pain that lead to the visions.

According to legend, the ancient Egyptians would tie the aspirant to a stone slab in a dark, soundless room for three days. He was not bond tightly- but if he got up, he would not be able to re-tie the knots himself and his failure of the ordeal would be known. In the Celtic lands, the Shaman would wrap himself in a hot, scratchy wool blanket for a few days. Other cultures pierce and burn the flesh, apply full-body tattoos (with very primitive equipment!), and even literally half-kill the aspirant.

The purpose of all the above was the same: to deprive the aspirant's mind of all of its usual input by overloading it with pain or discomfort. The result was that the mind had no choice but to escape and wander elsewhere. The lack of sensory input, food and water, as well as the pain, would induce hallucinations. The Priests would have previously spent time training the aspirant in their system- filling his head with all the appropriate symbolism- so the hallucinations were more than likely to follow along those lines. (The famous psychologist Timothy Leary referred to this as “mindset.”) If they did, then the initiation was a success. If the aspirant failed to meet the correct astral Beings, then he was deemed unworthy of the Path, and sent elsewhere.

While we would not likely wish to duplicate these methods for astral travel, it might surprise you to learn you have likely already been through a similar ordeal yourself. Previously, I asked if you had ever been so bored that you "zoned out." When I speak of this, I tend to think back to my school days. Long hours sitting in a drab classroom, listening either to absolutely nothing, or to the incessant droning of a teacher. Not being allowed to move, fidget, speak, or focus your attention on anything of any interest. Add to this the horribly uncomfortable seats into which they made us all squeeze. (This is not to mention those who have attended Catholic school, where the teacher often patrolled the class looking for reasons to physically strike the students!)

The result of this was a “zoning out”, going a million miles away, and basically jaunting around the astral plane. If you have experienced this, you've already been initiated into the art of astral travel. Of course, this wasn't the best technique because, unlike the ancients, these were the very times we were told to "come back to earth" or to "stop pretending!"

Once again, I would like to stress that none of this means astral travel is “all in your head.” While the initial stages involve a mental “turning-inward” that resembles daydreaming, the full practice of astral travel means gaining a state of consciousness that is not restricted by the body.

As shamans and mages know, the deeper into our selves we go, the closer to the "collective consciousness" we get. This has already been explained via the model of the Heavens and their reflection into the Self. Ninety-nine percent of what we experience on the astral is totally subjective. However, there is that small percentage of the experience that is objective- shared by those we work with. People can interact with each other, and with other intelligences, upon the astral.

A Course In Astral Vision

Before you continue reading this, I want you to try an experiment. Get into a comfortable sitting position, or perhaps lay on your back. Clear your mind, and begin to fantasize about something. It doesn't matter what- just chose a setting and allow a little movie to play out within your mind (you don't even have to be involved in the movie). Do this now, and then read on afterward...

Now, at this time I will ask you a few questions:

Number one: Were you able to accomplish the exercise at all? Were you able to bring any pictures into your mind, and perceive them as solid enough to have any impact?

Number two: Did your mind wander? Was it hard- or even impossible- to keep your mind focused on the fantasy? Did you keep losing your train of thought? Did you perhaps fall asleep?

And, Number Three: How real was the fantasy? Were you naggingly aware of your physical surroundings instead? Did you have to move the characters of your fantasy around consciously like puppets? Did you have to create the story point by point as it progressed? Or, were you able to completely lose yourself into the fantasy; as if it had a life of it's own and you were just taken along for the ride?

If you were able to completely lose yourself into the fantasy, then you are very lucky indeed. Most likely, however, you experienced some of the above problems- if not all of them or more. The skill of astral travel is the skill of avoiding these problems; and, as you can see, not one of them has anything at all to do with getting "out of body." Following, then, is a method you can use to gain an astral experience.

Making The Astral Body

In fact, your astral body (or “astral shell”) already exists. However, you may lack well-developed “astral senses” with which to perceive and work with it. It is necessary to learn to see, hear, touch, and etc. with the mind alone. Therefore, stage one of the process is to develop these senses. Because the astral body is already there, we shall focus upon it in our exercises.

Of course, you will surely experience some of the same problems as you did during the above test exercise. If, at first, you have problems focusing the mind, begin with short sessions- perhaps about five or ten minutes. Over the next few days, you can increase this time to fifteen, twenty, or thirty minutes. Beginners should avoid sessions longer than half an hour at most, unless you are sincerely enjoying the experience. If you become bored or frustrated, end the session immediately. It is important that the mind not find this a chore, or it will rebel against the practice.

It is best to do this every day at a specific time and place- preferably where you do your rituals and meditations already. In a best case scenario, you should also precede the session with the Lesser Banishing Ritual and the Middle Pillar. Doing both will increase your results astoundingly! Then, assume a comfortable posture and begin the astral projection session.

To begin with, simply hold your hand in front of your face and look at it. Don't just glance at it, but really look at it as if you've never even seen a hand before. Take in every detail. Most importantly, move the hand. First flex each finger. Then move the entire hand in various motions. All the while, pay very close attention to exactly how the hand looks during that motion, as well as how it feels to make the motion. See where the skin creases, feel how the skin stretches, feel the muscles pushing and pulling and the joints rotating within.

After a while of this, keep the hand in front of your face, and close your eyes. Create a mental picture of your hand as if it were "overlayed" upon the real one. Begin to move your real hand again, picturing the imaginary hand making the same motions. Since your real hand is acting as a guide (even though you can't see it), this shouldn't be too difficult. Along the same lines, this technique will all but eliminate the problem of loosing concentration or falling asleep.

While you do this, tell yourself that the physical sensations you are feeling from the motion are coming from the imaginary hand- that is, forget about the real hand as best as you can. Finally, once you get that down, cease moving the real hand altogether and allow the imaginary hand to continue it's motions. You may be surprised to notice that the physical sensations do not cease. You have tricked your mind into thinking they are coming from the imaginary hand. Of course, they will waver some at first because you will be able to feel your real hand stop. However, the skill here is to ignore that sensation and to remain focused on the imaginary (astral) hand.

Once you have this down, repeat the entire process with your other hand. Then, with both hands, your arms, and do not stop this process until you have targeted every body-part possible in this way. Do this with walking, sitting, crouching, etc, etc, etc. A good friend of mine once made the wonderful suggestion of doing this (once you are working on full-body movements like walking) in a pitch-black room. If this is not possible, then simply closing or blindfolding your eyes will do.

Once again, this is not a process of hours. Give it a couple of weeks at the least, and don't falter even if it were to take you much longer. The point here is to become intimately familiar with your body-movements, and it will take as long to do this with each movement as it takes to become familiar with anything. When you are done, you should be able to sit with your eyes closed and imagine that you are moving in any way you wish. You will be able to imagine walking across the room, and actually “see” and “feel” the motions of doing so. They will be muted sensations compared to the real thing, but they will be there.

The Other Senses: Touch

Once you can trick yourself into feeling as if you are physically moving when you are sitting still, then you can proceed on to the other senses of the body. This exercise will be a breeze once the above is mastered.

Somewhere in your working area, place one single object that relates to the sense of touch. You might begin with a piece of sandpaper, or a Brillo pad, or a piece of unsanded wood- something rough with a lot of texture to it.

Now, sit in your accustomed place, relax, and clear your mind. Then, slowly stand, walk to the object (don't forget to concentrate on your body-movements as you do so), and begin to run your fingers over it. Don't close your eyes at this time, but take as close a look at the object as you did at your hands and other body parts before. Just as above, truly experience it as if you've never been exposed to it before. See exactly what it looks like, and how it feels. Normally we take these things for granted, and that is why I've suggested such an extreme sensation as sandpaper.

Finally, walk back to your starting position, sit down, and close your eyes. From there, simply imagine yourself arising and repeating the exact same process. Once again, you want to trick yourself into thinking you're really doing these things, and to forget about the physical body. Concentrate on the “physical” sensations of walking to the object and touching it, as well as seeing the object itself in your mind's eye. If you lose train of thought, simply imagine yourself returning to the starting point, and then physically get up and start over again. Don't give up until you make it through the entire procedure without faltering, and until you can feel the astral experience almost as well as the physical one.

Honestly, this won't take you long if you worked through the first exercises as instructed. It's not a large stretch from feeling your own body to feeling an object, as both are based on the sense of touch. After you get the sandpaper or other rough substance, move on to other things. Use something smooth, then something soft, then something hard, then cold, warm and wet. You could go on with this for a very long time if you choose to, but just a few will suffice.

Hearing

The next step is to move on to the “astral sense” of hearing. Place a bell in the same spot you put the other objects; or perhaps a glass and spoon, or any object that will make a tone. Just make sure that it's something that will make the same sound each time you activate it, and definitely nothing that plays a complicated melody. From here the exercise should be more than familiar. Physically walk to the object from your starting point, and strike or ring it. Focus on both the sight of the object as well as the sound it makes- really absorb it and experience it. Then walk back to your starting point, assume the comfortable position, and repeat the process on the astral. Keep doing it until you can both see and hear the object on the astral nearly as well as on the physical. Then perhaps move on to other sounds, and maybe even simple melodies.

Smell And Taste

At this point you have the most important things covered. Just as when you dream, the senses most often used are sight, sound, and touch. From there I would move on to smell- starting with something strong like a glass of vinegar, and moving on to other smells of varying degrees. And then you can work a little on taste- though that will be the least-used of the five senses. Do not attempt to experience "hamburgers" and "cola" and other such specific tastes (as you could go on forever in that respect); instead hit the general tastes: starting with sour, and then sweet, bitter, and salty.

This entire process shouldn't take as long as the first procedures. At this point, you should be getting pretty good at it, and things will fall into line rather quickly. But, still, give this a couple weeks to really set strongly within you. When all is complete, you may dispense with the physical objects altogether, and just spend time on the astral alternating them. Pick up an astral glass and will it to be full of vinegar, and then immediately will it to be another liquid, and then another. And so for the other senses.

Detailing the Astral Shell

Now you have learned how to "fool" your conscious mind into believing that you are “physically” on the astral plane. In other words, you have achieved what is called astral “projection.” The next step is to add the final details to your astral body so that it has a solid form in your mind. As I have before, I wish to again stress that this body has always been there, and that you are now simply working to perceive it. In addition, the appearance of the astral body is completely subject to your will, and this will allow you to make yourself appear as you wish upon the higher planes. Transforming oneself into various astral forms will be very important to the advanced student of Magick.

Return again to your working area and sit comfortably. Close your eyes, clear your mind and simply work on picturing an image of yourself standing in front of you. The mental image should be as detailed and "solid" as you can possibly make it. Of course, it could (and should) be an idealized version of yourself. (I usually picture myself in full ceremonial garb.)

Spend some time looking at your image, allowing it to move around some. You can also get up and move with it- visualizing it matching your movements as if you were looking at your reflection in a mirror. You might even go ahead and picture yourself doing something in an imaginary world- but I would reserve this for a while at first. The main thing is that you should remain firmly in your physical body, and picture your astral-self from outside.

The point behind all of this is to help you to visualize yourself. You should become so familiar with this picture that you can easily call it to mind. At first, however, you will probably have difficulty. You will only see parts, and often forget details. Each time you do this, simply correct it and go on with the exercise. As you practice, it will get better.

However, do not despair if it is never a perfect visualization. What you experience on the astral will never be as full or rich as it is on the physical. It is common for astral travelers to lose perception of some parts of their astral-selves (most usually the legs). Although, this loss of perception will happen more often once you get into your astral body and move around- because your focus will be on the realm you are visiting. Meanwhile, this should not happen as much when you are sitting outside looking at your astral shell- because your attention should be entirely upon it. Give yourself a week or two to become accustomed to the newly-formed astral body.

The Astral Temple

This method kills two birds with one stone. Many modern magickal traditions put a certain amount of stress on the Astral Temple, Middle Temple, or Place of Comfort. All of these are names for the same thing- a kind of personal space upon the astral plane which only you can access. Once you master astral projection, it is a place where you can go to perform ceremonies at any time, anywhere, and without being noticed by others. Best of all, it will always live up to the image of your own ideal Temple or other sacred magickal space.

The practical work on this is extremely simple. Get into your usual place, at your usual time, and start to fantasize: Get a good picture of your ideal working space. See your astral self (still from the outside) walking around in it. Examine all the implements upon the Altar and the Temple furniture. Have fun with it- it's that simple. Of course, you're just adding the aspect of a background to your previous visualizations. You want to be able to call the image of your Temple to mind as easily as the image of your astral shell. You'll want to give this a week or so as well (though the astral temple itself will continue to grow and change for the rest of your life).

NOTE: Another technique I have learned is called the "Childhood Room" technique. If you are having trouble constructing an Astral Temple as described above, you may want to visualize something you are already intimately familiar with: the bedroom you slept and played in as a child. This should be quite simple to visualize, and you can later concentrate on "redecorating" it into your own Temple.

Besides walking around in the astral temple, you may wish to perform a simple Ritual. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and Middle Pillar exercise are perfect for this work. They serve as a kind of gauge for progress- to see how far you can get through the ritual before losing train of thought. In time, you will be able to perform the entire ritual. It will seem less forced, and, most importantly, you will lose track of your physical body.

As soon as you feel you are ready (which could be a few days, or even right away) allow yourself to move into your astral self and begin to experience the whole thing first-hand. You will know the proper time to make this switch, as it will in fact be rather hard to keep yourself from doing so. In short- when it happens, don't fight it. Once you find yourself drawn into your astral shell, begin to concentrate on feeling the movements of the body, and anything in the Temple you touch, as well as the landscape of the astral around you.

If, at any time, you feel you are loosing perception of your astral body, simply look down at your hands and begin to move them around (making sure not to move your physical body at all). This will recall the very first exercises of this course, and will bring you back to the proper perception to continue.

The Celestial Palaces

The ceremonies necessary to enter the planetary Spheres or other spiritual realms are not covered in this class. However, I do wish to briefly cover the concept behind the practice. More advanced lessons will continue from this point.

In modern Hermetic magickal practice, occult symbols are generally used to explore particular astral realms. The symbols of the Planets, the Hebrew letters, Tarot Cards and sigils of all kinds have been used. Most commonly, a kind of talisman called a “Flashing Tablet” is constructed for the purpose- sporting the related occult symbol in bright colors associated with the force in question. For instance, to enter the Celestial Sphere of the Sun, a mage would construct a solar talisman colored primarily in gold or yellow- the color of the Sun.

Once the Symbol has been chosen and (if necessary) constructed, it is placed upon the ceremonial altar. Then, an invocation of the desired occult Force is performed- to establish a link between the heavenly Sphere (“as above”) with the Symbol upon the altar (“so below”).

Having accomplished the invocation, one would sit comfortably in front of the altar and examine the Symbol. This is already familiar to you, as I instructed you to examine your hands (and other body parts) in the same way. Once the symbol can be seen clearly in the mind's eye, it is only necessary to step away from the body and astrally walk through the Symbol as if it were a portal. Some texts go so far as you have one enter the astral Temple first, envision the Symbol on a door or curtain somewhere in the Temple, and then walk through that gateway into the land beyond it..

From that point onward, everything one experiences should relate to the occult force one has invoked. (Leary's “mindset” once again.) It is possible to meet with entities that have been called by the invocations, and have them guide one through the land and teach its mysteries. (See the Ethiopian Book of Enoch for an ancient example.)

This practice is for the intermediate to adept student only. One must possess enough knowledge and experience with the invoked force to be able to verify the visions. For instance, if the adept enters the Martian Sphere and sees a vast sea with mermaids lounging on rocks, then he has a hint that a mistake has been made (for Mars is a fiery force, not a watery one). The beginner would not recognize this, and thus would receive incorrect information from the vision.

The primary focus of visiting these astral realms is Initiation. As we visit each Sphere, we will be initiated into the forces contained there. We can become initiated into the ways of Earth, Air, Water, Fire, the Planets, the Zodiacal forces and more.

Scrying

It is perhaps needless to say that scrying is a practice very akin to astral projection. It involves opening the astral senses and expanding the consciousness beyond the physical body. However, it does not go so far as to project the center of consciousness away from the self. One does not participate in the vision, but simply watches it as an observer.

As above, any symbol can be used for this. For general divinatory purposes, there are many possible choices- such as a crystal ball, candle flame, etc. In any case, you want to gaze at something that you can look deeply into, and will tend to unfocus the eyes. A great example is a ball of rainbow obsidian, or perhaps a crystal with a great number of inner imperfections. With these you can see beneath the surface of the stone, yet your eyes are given erratic patterns upon which it is difficult to focus. Personally, I use nothing like this- choosing instead to simply close my eyes and gaze into the blue-black patterns that swirl behind the eyelids.

Try this exercise: From where you are sitting, pick any two distinct objects in the room. They must be properly positioned relative to your position, so that one is in the middle distance (about the middle of the room) and the other in the far distance (near the opposite wall). Then, hold one finger pointing straight upward very near one eye, and close the other eye entirely. Finally, align all three objects in your vision somewhat like a gun-site, but make sure all three objects are visible. It should look like all three are standing close beside each other- but only the middle one will be clear.

The exercise is to shift the focus in your open eye from one object to the other. Start with the middle-distance object, then shift to the far-away object. Finally, zero in on the finger right in front of your eye. Don't be surprised if this takes some effort!

It is interesting how exhausting this exercise can be. Usually, we use both of our eyes to focus upon objects at different distances. However, the exercise forced you to put the entire workload of shifting focus upon one eye. Both eyes working together actually point slightly inward- so their lines of sight cross somewhere in front of the body. That point of intersection is called the focal point.

When the eyes are closed, they seem to relax their focusing mechanisms and idle at a middle-distance setting. If, however, you wish to scry with closed eyes, try shifting that focus as close as it can be- until you are literally looking at the back of your own eyelids. Look at the blue-black swirls there as if they were patterns on a screen. This takes your sight out of the idle mode, and apparently causes the brain to expect to see something.

When I have performed this exercise- looking at the backs of my eyelids without trying to envision anything- for half an hour or more, it has invariably resulted in my forgetting my eyes were closed. For instance, I once did it out of boredom while waiting in a car. After a while, I found myself casually looking at the dashboard in front of me- until I realized my eyes were still comfortably closed!

The fact is that the brain tends to do this kind of thing on a regular basis. When you glance around the room, there is no guarantee that your eyes will take in every detail. The mind tends to take much of the environment for granted- especially when it has seen it before- and will fill in details missed by the eye. In truth, people are constantly seeing what they want or expect to see, rather than what is physically there. This trick for scrying is simply a way of capitalizing on that, allowing the mind's eye to provide all the details rather than a few.

I won't go any further into scrying at this time- as you will have cause to explore this practice further in more advanced classes. I merely wanted to include some basic information here that draws upon the information I have already provided. The above is more than enough to allow you to explore scrying, and it is perfectly safe to practice. As usual, it is best to begin any experiment with the Lesser Banish Ritual and Middle Pillar.

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