Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month we dive into the heart of the power of the astral and its relevance to astrology, magic and life.
This is a topic I have been talking about a lot lately with the people close to me. What I have to share will be useful to all readers, no matter their knowledge level of the subjects, but it may be especially interesting for people who are turning their Keys or involved in a system of magical initiation like Initiation into Hermetics. For everyone this message represents advice on how to improve every aspect of your life and it will help you to understand what life is for. For people turning Keys (as per the instructions in The 26 Keys) what follows can help to clarify the relationship that exists (and develops) between the practitioner and the various intelligent components of astrology that they interact with via conduction – the bonds and connections that form between you and the Lights, planets, signs and temples. Astrology is an astral language and so understanding the astral also illuminates what astrology is. For magicians this information will help them to understand the powerful role the astral plays in mediating between the mental and physical, particularly in manifesting desires, as well as providing a perspective (mine) on what the astral equilibrium is, how you know it, and how to stay in its flow. It will also venture into discussing the mental equilibrium and the connection all this has to astrological practices.
To venture deep here we need to understand some things about the invisible, or occult, universe we are always immersed in and the relationship this has to the physical. Astrology is fundamentally based on the universal law of ‘as above, so below’, sometimes called the principle of correspondence or the law of analogy, but there are actually other universal laws being expressed by astrology. Two fundamental ones we need to understand that relate to this in this journey are known as the principle of vibration and the principle of mentalism. The Kybalion (1908, ‘Three Initiates’) defines these as follows:
The principle of mentalism: “The All is Mind; the Universe is Mental.”
The principle of vibration: “Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.”
A third principle, the law of attraction or manifestation, arises in part from the interaction between these two principles and it is this law of attraction that I want to explore with you here. To state it simply this law of attraction is that giving and receiving are one, that you receive what you put out, you get more of what you give. In essence the law of attraction is a manifestation of the other two principles so we need to understand these first. We also need to understand how the law of attraction operates differently in the mental and astral plane.
The first principle is an important one. The ‘Mind’ being referred to is not the ‘mind’ of personal thought. It is the universal mind, hence the capital ‘M’. A more modern word for what it represents (but still an inadequate one) is consciousness – so, everything is consciousness, the universe is conscious. Consciousness, as an experience, is the awareness of being, which is the awareness of being alive, of existing. We mistakenly think of some things as non-conscious (rocks, for example) because their physical form does not display consciousness in the ways we recognise (yet), but they are still conscious. There are no exceptions, either in the physical universe or anywhere beyond it. Everything has an ‘I Am’ awareness, although it may not think that as thought, lacking words or a brain that thinks.
The subtlest manifestation of consciousness that humans commonly recognise is its presence in the mental plane, a conceptual plane where it is experienced as a continuous flow of thought and ideas. However, consciousness itself is just a vehicle for thought and pure consciousness is without thought. This is the state of mind we attain naturally when we sit in meditation, empty and open and spacious, so that our awareness can encompass the timeless and formless presence of pure consciousness, alignment with Mind, our source and true being. Thought, and the mental plane, serve to focus consciousness. This focusing of pure consciousness into thought, once disciplined, is a key skill in magic of any tradition. It is through the ability to focus the mind on thought without distraction, with the knowledge of the co-creative universal power which is present in all things, the power to create things through the mind when it is a channel for Mind, that the magic is made to flow in the desired direction. Another way to put this across is to contemplate on the fact that no matter how the universe began or what it is, at this present moment in its existence it has evolved consciousness and self awareness in us, and that we and everything else that is conscious now are therefore literally the consciousness of the universe.
The principal of vibration is again universal but we perceive it’s activity more in the astral plane than in the mental or physical. In the astral plane the thoughts and concepts of the mental plane are translated into vibrational reality, their formless mental essence being given a shape in the form of symbols. The concept of joy, for example, expresses itself symbolically as smiling (among other things). It’s important to note that these symbols are specific to personal perspectives – humans smile to symbolize the expression of joy, but apes do not. For them it symbolises a different thing. Human beings have an occult anatomy that interacts with the astral plane primarily through their feelings and emotions – we sense it and perceive it this way most of the time. We do have astral senses that are the equivalent of our physical senses – so there is an astral vision, an astral hearing, etc. However, these senses are largely dulled and overpowered/obscured by our focus on what our physical senses provide. When we learn to focus on the senses of the astral body we develop psychically, becoming able to translate the vibrational reality of the astral with our physical and astral senses simultaneously.
Because of this relationship between human emotions and the astral realm we can say that the primary indicator we have for our astral condition – the astral vibration we are currently resonating with – is our mood, and also that emotions are the most symbolic things we know. However the astral plane is not just a realm of emotions but more accurately one of vibrational significance – everything vibrates and these vibrations interact so that they affect one another in an endless ocean of waves and pulses and rhythms – an energetic ocean of resonance, of things buzzing and triggering reactions in an endless feedback loop. When you walk through the forest your vibration merges with the vibration present in the forest and you sense it as your vibration shifts to be more aligned with that of the forest. Then you get in a car and go to work and your vibrational frequency shifts again, probably to a more tense feeling. The part you’re probably not noticing is how the forest and car and workplace are also shifting to align with your vibrational frequency. The astral body is more porous than the physical body, so unless you seal it off with a shield or a cloak you are continually interacting with the vibration of your environment in an intimate way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it is what allows you to feel what you feel when you walk through that forest. It is important to note, however, that how you feel is the indicator of your astral vibration in every case and that you retain the ability, in most situations, to shift your mood at will simply by focusing on things.
Because the mental plane is closer to pure or undifferentiated consciousness than the astral plane is, thought naturally leads to or gives birth to feeling. What we focus on in the mental plane – what we think about – causes corresponding vibrational frequencies on the astral plane ‘below’ it – it brings feelings related to those thoughts. If we maintain our focus on a thought, the feeling or vibrational power of it on the astral plane increases. Focusing on an idea also causes other ideas which are similar to it to be drawn to it on the mental plane – if you think about the concept of colours, for example, it is not long before you are also thinking about red. This is the law of attraction on the mental plane. It causes things which are similar to one another to be drawn together when focus is applied. This is how ideas ‘add up’ and evolve, by gaining traction. It is also the secret behind mental transference, the ability we have to transfer our awareness into different things. By focusing our thought on a tree, for instance, it is possible to join with its awareness, to become the tree, because our own mental awareness is able to assume its shape through the focused application of creative imagination.
In the astral, the idea of the colour red is symbolically experienced by human perception as being resonant with or symbolic of blood, and there is a strong emotional response to this. In a nonhuman body where the appearance of blood is not red, red does not have that significance in the astral realm. This is an example of what I said earlier about symbols being specific to personal perspective. However, in the astral plane the law of attraction polarises as a quality into attraction/repulsion because every feeling we have is actually both a desired and a not desired state or condition. Whereas the law of attraction on the mental plane draws like to like, forming chains and clusters of ideas and concepts with similar meanings to collect into larger entities, on the astral plane the same law encompasses the qualities of both repulsion and allure, and quantitatively all topics are vibrationally defined by a lack or an abundance – there is the feeling of not being loved and the feeling of being loved (or of having money, or health, or etc.), and these polarities are astrally connected. Every topic that exists as a pure concept in the mental realm (in other words everything) is experienced personally in a unique way by everything in the astral, and as a having and not having, a wanting and not wanting. You might like the colour red, it might make you feel really good, but I might feel uncomfortable with it. For you, red is alluring and for me it is repulsive. We can agree that neither of us is right, right and wrong have no place. We can argue and discuss the topic in attempts to shift the others view and thus the feeling they have about the topic, and this might occur, but we cannot fundamentally change the fact that there is a range of personal reactions to the colour red, some people will want it and some people will not want it. In the astral, every topic is like this, it is either something we want or something we do not want for ourselves. It’s either a feeling that makes us feel good or one that makes us feel not so good. Obviously, our personal history is a big factor in how we feel about everything – that is why the astral body is also what we call a soul. The soul is a vibrational body composed of how we feel about everything, and everything we have felt strongly in the past in this life or another is stored there vibrationally. The primary vibration, though, what we really feel and always will in the core of our being, is alignment with all that is, because it is our default state, our factory setting. We are just not focused there. In meditation, when all the vibrational activity settles because the absence of thought causes it to become calm and peaceful, we feel the vibration of the indescribable love of creation pouring into and out of us, the natural vibration of the soul. It’s just that most of the time we are not focused there and are frequently resistant to receiving it. The good news is the universe doesn’t care, it just keeps coming at us full tap knowing that one day our resistance will be surrendered. This is a genuine case of resistance being futile. There is an eternity for us to get it.
The astral serves the same purpose for the physical that the mental realm serves for the astral – it gives birth to it. The vibrational or energetic reality behind the universe of physical matter is its mother. The astral is therefore in between, so to speak, the mental and physical universe. However, everything beyond the physical universe is fully integrated with it in the present moment forever. These astral and mental realities are not ‘higher’ in the sense of being more distant and therefore remote. They are fully present in each moment of the physical universe at all times and in all places. In that sense, we can’t go there because we are already there. It is all around us, all in us. We can ‘go’ there only when we leave the physical body behind us, either by dying or finding a way to shift the focal point of our awareness into a separated astral or mental body. The way we ‘go’ or travel there all the time in everyday life without noticing it is the way our emotions and thoughts move us internally throughout the day – and boy do most of us go on epic journeys, even from one second to the next!
There are some important things we need to observe about these facts at this point. First, we can discipline our thoughts and learn greater and greater focus for our consciousness. Most people ramble in the mental plane, wandering all over the place and being drawn from one thought to another without much consciousness. This creates many thought forms with many different directives – beings I have described in a previous journey on psychic protection. Most of these beings are as feeble as the thoughts that organise them. Focus and repetition, however, can create powerful clusterings of thought. Some of these beings grow self aware through the law of attraction – a person (or culture) keeps thinking a particular thought and after a while it has grown from this idea and then this idea being drawn to it and added to it, until eventually it attains enough meaning that it is like a huge snowball rolling down an endless hill of snow, just gathering, gathering, until it becomes self aware, an intelligence to be reckoned with by anyone in its path. Entities take on substantial symbolic forms as astral beings at such points. Roleplaying gamers, painters, writers, performers and anyone who has felt obsessed by a living idea knows what this is like. Imaginary things come alive and start dictating their own desires, outcomes and destinies. Such beings often come back to us seeking to be fed more, they are after all our children in the mental plane. Novelist Anne Rice created one of these when she dreamed up her character Lestat, and in interviews she seemed to be aware of that. He would literally haunt her into writing more about him, and she would eventually give in. So, focus is powerful!
Following on from this it is clear, as I pointed out earlier, that since we can always choose what we focus our thoughts upon we can always also control our mood, and thus our vibration. If something we are thinking about makes us feel bad we can always choose to think about something else. We would do this more often except for the fact that some thoughts come with very powerful negative emotions and those emotions overwhelm our will and dominate our awareness. When we think about how such and such a person lied to us, for example, we don’t feel good about that but in that moment we don’t choose to think about something else to feel better either because of the strong emotion that carries us along with it or because we feel right and being right is too important for us to choose to feel better. We might be right, of course, but the point is we don’t choose to feel differently when being right feels bad. It is not loving to ourselves. If we cared about how we feel more than about our opinions and being right, we would choose to be happier immediately. In fact when you realise that some thoughts always make us feel good – for example, think of the cutest or most special animal you have ever known and notice the feeling – then you also have to admit that much of the time we suffer unnecessarily by thinking of things that make us feel bad, often to the point of wallowing in them, especially when they are not happening in our present but either in our past or some dreaded future. A lot of our suffering could just be disposed with.
We can also understand from this that the more frequently we think a thing the stronger and more powerful its vibration in our astral body becomes. This is part of the reason why some thoughts come with such overwhelming power over our awareness – we have simply thought that thing so many times that it’s vibration in our astral body is intense and dense enough to temporarily overpower our will and ability to choose to think about something else. This is how mantras and some talismans work – mantras through the act of repetition and the activation of the vibrational frequency of the mantra as its words lose their meaning and merge into a continuous sound, a resonance field that shifts consciousness (birdsong is similar and has a magical effect on all of the nature in audible range, for instance encouraging flowers to grow), and talismans through the powerful will of the magician impressing meaning into the object so that it becomes effective as a vibration when worn or held.
Here is the essence of the teaching, then – by maintaining our focus on thoughts that make us feel good, the universe creates a path forward toward our desires, and because we are listening for those signals without resistance in an expectant and calm manner, they come quickly and we notice them. As we act on that inspiration, which always feels uplifting and exciting, we move closer to what is desired and the momentum builds so that the next step, the next signal, is bigger, clearer. And all of this happens without effort or struggle because the process is one of feeling good as often as possible, whatever that involves for you. It is not required to stay feeling good all the time. Instead it’s required that we develop the habit of choosing to think in ways that make us feel better again whenever we notice that we are feeling bad.
The vibrational reality of the astral attracts and repels and so every feeling or desire that we have situates somewhere along the continuum of these absolutes – we like it a lot or not at all, we hated all of it, we are lukewarm, etc. This matters and is a gift because it helps us to clarify our desires and become more brilliant individually. When we came into this incarnation we knew this, we had the understanding that all of the things in the world we don’t like would clarify for us what we really do want for ourselves and each other, and we knew that by focusing the magically creative power of our consciousness through thoughts with strong desires, the vibrational laws of the universe would draw towards our physical orbit all of the experiences we needed to have to manifest that desire, provided it intended no harm. However, we also understood, each of us, that while in the physical universe we would lose sight of the vibrational reality we were swimming in and that we would need to rediscover this as well as use it for our benefit. We knew that all of the things in the world that we did not like would potentially become traps because by focusing upon them we would simply be re-creating them vibrationally in the present moment. In other words, we knew that if for example we focused too much on the loneliness of the lack of a lover in our lives then that is what we would get and we knew that having lost sight of the vibrational reality of the astral we would not realise that in order to break out of the trap of no lover in our lives we would have to change the way we feel about it and reach for a different vibrational frequency, in other words we would need to learn to focus on what we do want, not what we don’t. This means using the creative imagination to imagine the vibrational feeling of having a lover already being in our lives, conjuring that and building it up until its vibration is a match for what you have previously put out, and then gets stronger. Instead of waiting for a lover to give you a reason to feel happy, you focus on the happiness of how good it feels to be loved.
The universe is intelligent and therefore knows the best path for us. It knows what we want and responds with love to every desire we have for our happiness. The infinite astral universe moves around us to lead us on a path to the fulfillment of that happiness, often communicating to us symbolically what the next step is. However, because we are so focused on the material universe and on what is already present and very often focused on the lack of things that we want, we are not positioned to be receptive to the signals. We either miss them or refuse them because we are not vibrationally receptive to them. This is because we focus too much on the lack of what we want. If we are thinking a lot about the lack of that lover, we are not receptive to any signal the universe sends about meeting one. In fact, if the negative power of how we feel about not having a lover is intense enough, we wouldn’t even accept them if the perfect person came up behind us and goosed us cheekily – we simply wouldn’t believe it could happen to us and would dismiss it. However if we are thinking about how good it will feel with that lover in our lives, or if we are not thinking about that situation at all and are instead thinking about something else that feels good, or are just sitting peacefully and calmly in meditation, then our consciousness will be receptive to those signals when they come – and they will, because the universe will match it vibrationally, adding more and more inspiration to the pile – and if we take the action those symbols inspire we will move towards the experience of physical reality that matches our astral one. If we stay feeling generally good and calm and not blocking what we want by mismanaging our mood, the path is always laid before us and more importantly we will be able to recognize it and accept it. Any feeling of being unworthy or of not deserving happiness is delusional.
The fact that the astral universe moves around us (like the physical) leading us on a path to the fulfillment of happiness, often communicating to us symbolically what the next step is, is clearly relevant to astrology. It is a symbolic language we use to divine the way to happiness. It is also very much a vibrational science and art, displaying the intricate and complex mechanism of the solar system within us. Two planets, Venus and Mars, symbolize desire – Mars the pursuit of desiring and Venus of being desired. Mars is also symbolic of the specific vibration of desires we put out (I want this specific thing) while Venus is about the power or capacity of our vibrational ability to attract, specifically our capacity to feel (I want it so much because it will feel so good). The Moon symbolically represents our own astral vibration, the kinds of things and issues we vibrate or resonate with personally, and thus what we are naturally comfortable with (or sometimes in the case of difficult aspects, what we deny ourselves the comfort of vibrationally). The Sun is symbolic of the individualized expression of Mind within us, the creative power of our conscious focus of being, while Mercury reflects the focusing of that consciousness through different kinds of thoughts and ideas. The entire inner solar system plays a symbolic role in the way the astral realm of vibrations and the focusing of thought cause physical things to manifest into being through the law of attraction. Jupiter and Saturn play broader more general roles – they are principles of abundance and lack, of the overflowing cup that the law of attraction is and how open we are to its flow (Jupiter) and the experience of a lack of things, the necessities of which lead to us formulating efforts that restructure our vibrational output into something that creates a more stable framework for our own happiness – the redemption of the souls karma, its vibrational foundation (Saturn). The signs and houses and aspects of the ancient planets, the 7 visible planets, all shape the expression of the law of attraction in us in the physical universe. This is one of the things that distinguishes the ancient planets from the more modern ones. This means that we can actually make a very detailed map or blueprint of our relationship to the law of attraction from studying the birth chart. This map is not a static one, something we are stuck with from birth, because the inclusion of transits and progressions allows us to trace its development through time.
Relationships of all kinds also shift our vibration. We are in vibrational relationship with the entire universe but primarily with the Earth and the solar system we live in. Relationships are worlds. We enter into them and gradually create a private, intimate world that exists only between those in the relationship. This is a vibrational world, an attunement to one another that, if kept healthy with unconditional love, will only serve the growth of both. This is also true of our relationships with other worlds, with the planets. But unconditional love must begin within us, we must be unconditionally loving towards ourselves first because we cannot give what we have not already received. This means we have to love ourselves enough that we choose to think differently about the things that bring us pain and in some cases to choose not to think of those things – to choose loving thoughts and feelings regardless of conditions. Everyone who has suffered from depression at some point knows that it becomes like a bottomless pit, the more you think about the things that bring you depression the more depressed you feel and the less likely you think it is that it will ever end. The solution is not to drown it out with tablets, spend hours and hours in therapy talking about it, or tell yourself to just snap out of it – it is simply to put your mind consistently on things that either make you feel better or just not bad, such as going for a walk in a forest or going dancing for a while. Even the smallest thing – deciding you would enjoy a cup of tea and making it – begins the process. When there is only a glowing ember of the love of life left in you, you have to really milk that experience with the tea by focusing on it and the feeling it brings. Whatever uplifts you or takes your mind away from focusing on the things that are dragging your mood down is where you need to focus. Sometimes we need a good friend to come along and force us to focus on something that makes us feel better, even if it is something small. The power that some thoughts have over our emotions, the vibrational power of certain experiences we have, can set us up for quite a journey, which is what we call the healing of trauma. It’s often not possible for us to make the vibrational leap from feeling like we want to kill ourselves to feeling ecstatic joy – that leap is just too vast. We can however get there eventually if we move from depression to anger and then to something that feels slightly less bad and so on. And if we expect to get there because we focus on the abundance of things that are good in our lives (Jupiter), starting with the tea if necessary, instead of the limitations and burdens of what we lack (Saturn) then the universe will lay the path before us step by step in more and more significant ways. We just have to stay focused on managing the way we feel and following its guidance. When we feel bad, it means we need to think about the topic differently if we can, or think about something else that is good to think about if we can’t, and about nothing at all if we can find nothing good to think about. We should also observe the same guidance regarding what we say and write.
Sometimes the traumas we have experienced are distant enough that we can handle them or we can think of those things without the negative emotion or fear being so strong that it overwhelms our awareness. In these cases we don’t have to avoid thinking about those things entirely we can instead try to come at them from a fresh angle, perhaps extracting lessons and wisdom for the future, which causes our vibration on that topic to shift and thus allows healing and transformation. If someone has wronged us we may eventually be able to understand the reasons for it or we may not but what we can always do is realise that nothing gets to determine whether we are happy or not except ourselves. We can reach for better experiences by setting our astral vibration, by using our creative imagination to conjure the feeling of that better experience before it happens or just by choosing to dwell upon things that are fun or pleasing, things that are working out. This ensures that we will eventually escape the negative vibration we feel and the circumstances and thoughts that are attracted by that vibration.
What does all of this mean for students of Franz Bardon and “Initiation into Hermetics”? Simply put the astral equilibrium is the clearing of our own astral vibration so that it becomes receptive as a conduit for magical creation to occur through us. Fundamental to this attainment is that we acquire self-determination in how we respond to the constantly shifting ocean of resonance within the astral, internally and externally. We remain calm and in control of all of our emotional responses. If circumstances arise which cause us to feel (for example) anger at something then the presence of the astral equilibrium means we always get to choose whether or not we will express that anger (attaining the mental equilibrium means we won’t choose to express it because we know it is not in alignment with how the Greater Self perceives things). With the astral equilibrium there is never a loss of control over the astral response. However, more fundamental to the experience of the astral equilibrium is that it feels good. This is because we are being the best version of ourselves that we can be in that moment and we are also focused on the positive within us and in all of our experiences. In fact, if we choose habitually to interact with things that make us feel good, that uplift us emotionally and that keep us expectant of more good things happening in the future, we will naturally attain and stay in equilibrium. The simple but powerful truth is that you know you’re at least moving in that direction if you feel good about life and being who you are, and the more you know about who you are the more deeply and completely you can feel this joy of being you.
Furthermore, the Greater Self or Higher Self, the you of you, your Guardian Angel, wills your happiness at all times and is therefore always leading you to your greatest good. This means that when you feel good and are unconditionally loving towards yourself you are aligning with how your Greater Self feels about you. Aligning with how your Greater Self perceives you and by extension all of the universe is the result of the work of attaining the mental equilibrium. Therefore, by aligning with good feelings and their vibration you are aligning with your spiritual guidance and being led on a path that maintains or establishes the mental equilibrium as well as the astral equilibrium. Ultimately the inner spiritual being within you knows that all is well, and when you align with that thought you feel good because you are coming into alignment with that inner being. It is the discord in vibration between us and our Greater Self that causes us to feel bad. Therefore all of the bad feelings we have can be taken as signposts pointing us in the direction of our Greater Self, of enlightenment, of equilibrium and re-alignment with the universe.
On this path we choose to do things and think things that make us feel good and when other things arise that do not feel good we receive them as indicators that show where we are not yet in alignment with how our Greater Self perceives things. We try to perceive it differently, in a way that feels better to us, so that we move closer to alignment on that topic, or we choose to focus on something else that does feel good and is working out knowing that in doing so our situation is shifting on that difficult topic anyway because it is our vibration now that the universe is responding to now. Eventually it may shift enough that we can see a solution to that troubling topic where we could not before. Instead of focusing on the negative feelings we have about our now reality – the lack of money, of love, or health – we focus instead on the now-ness of our vibration, on what we are feeling now. Instead of having to figure out and hack the path to the manifestation of our desires – figure out which course to take, figure out which college to go to, study hard and attain degree, find ideal job (factors which can set a vibration that feels discouraging from the start) – we instead focus on the feeling of how good it will be to have a satisfying, fulfilling and rewarding career, we feed that thought and let its astral vibration, the good feeling, gather momentum, and when the inspiration to act comes, which is always coming, we follow through excitedly. And the joy, the true happiness of this path, is not the way it feels when we finally attain the material manifestation of what we desire, it’s the magic of the journey as we get to see the path laid out before us in synchronicity, coincidences, magic and surprises, the joy of seeing the power of creation moving through us into manifestation. Because that’s the wondrous experience we all came here for.