Astral Plane

The astral plane, also called the astral world or desire world, is a plane of existence according to esoteric philosophies, some religious teachings and New Age thought.

In the context of Unicode, astral planes refer to planes above the Basic Multilingual Plane.

Although the word "astral" is often associated with New Age ideas, this term was also used historically by alchemists. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy, especially as developed by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater, and later Alice Bailey. In this cosmology, the astral is the first metaphysical plane beyond the physical, but is "denser" than the mental plane. The astral plane is also sometimes termed the world of emotion or world of illusion, and corresponds to Blavatsky's Kamic Plane.

It should be noted, however, that in original theosophical literature (such as those written by Blavatsky), the term "astral" does not have the same meaning as the term is used in later theosophical literature (such as C. W. Leadbeater). The astral body, in her works, does not refer to the emotional body but to the etheric double or linga sarira.

Some equivalent concepts to the astral plane in various esoteric teachings are the Barzakh or Imaginal or Inter-world in Islamic Esotericism (Ishraqism, Sufism, etc), the World of Asiyah in Lurianic Kabbalah (although this sometimes includes the physical plane as well), or Yetzirah in some interpretations of Hermetic Kabbalah, the "spirit world" in Spiritualism, the "Nervous" State in Max Theon's teachings, and the "Vital" World in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa.

In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Sri Sri Paramhansa Yogananda characterizes the difference between the physical, astral, and causal planes, as per traditional Hindu philosophy. In this conception, when one dies the soul moves to the astral plane. There the result of past actions or karma is reaped.

The term "astral plane" has also more recently come to mean a plane of existence where otherkin believe their souls reside.

The word "astral" (like celestial) means of or like the stars and is used in reference to the astral plane because astral matter does not require a light source to make it visible -astral matter gives off its own light, like stars do.

According to Occult, Theosophical, and New Age teachings, the astral plane can be visited consciously with the astral body through means of meditation and mantra, lucid dreaming, or other forms of training and development. The common human being normally separates his or her consciousness and astral vehicle from the physical body every night as he or she sleeps. Clairvoyants can see the astral vehicle floating a few inches over the sleeping physical body. This separation of the astral vehicle from the physical body every night is necessary for the human being to receive and process energies coming from higher, spiritual or more subtle planes of existence allowing the individual to awake the following day with his or her energies renewed. Human individuals that are spiritually advanced or trained in the use of their astral vehicle, can separate their consciousness and astral vehicle from the physical body at will and remain fully aware of the circumstances, using this capability at night to perform altruistic services or receive esoteric knowledge and training while in the astral plane.

The astral vehicle remains connected to the physical body during the separation through a so called “silver cord”, mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:6. All physical things have astral and other more subtle or spiritual counterparts that interpenetrate them.

According to Max Heindel's Rosicrucian writings, in the desire world, contrary to the physical world, force and matter are almost indistinguishable from each other. The desire-stuff may be described as a type of force-matter, for it is in incessant motion, responsive to the slightest feeling of a vast multitude of beings which populate this world. He refers that a number of people and things may exist in the same place at the same time and be engaged in most diverse activities, regardless of what others are doing. The desire world is also said to be the abode of deceased persons, for some time subsequent to the event of death and, as it interpenetrates the physical world, these entities, the "dead", very often stay for a long time while among their still living friends. It is also the home, among other various classes of beings, of the archangels which are native beings of this world.

His writings, called Western Wisdom Teachings, describe that in the lower regions of the desire world the whole body of each being may be seen, but in the highest regions only the head seems to remain. In the lower regions of the desire world, there is the same diversity of tongues as on Earth, and the "dead" of one nation find it impossible to converse with those who lived in another country. In the higher regions of the desire world, the confusion of tongues gives place to a universal mode of expression which absolutely prevents misunderstandings of meaning: thoughts take a definite form and color perceptible to all, and this thought-symbol emits a certain tone, which conveys the meaning to the one to whom they are addressed. He states that in the desire world all is light and there is but one long day, and as the spirit is not fettered by a heavy physical body, it does not need sleep and existence is unbroken. Spiritual substances are not subject to contraction and expansion such as arise here from heat and cold, hence summer and winter are also non-existent. Thus there is nothing to differentiate one moment from another in respect of the conditions of light and darkness, summer and winter, which mark time in the physical world. Due to inexistence of these conditions, only students of the stellar science are able to calculate the passage of time in the desire world.

In the standard Dungeons & Dragons RPG planar cosmology, the Astral Plane is a dimension coexistent with all others, used as a means of transportation between planes. Color pools on the plane lead to the other worlds it touches.

The Astral Plane is also a location in the Marvel Universe. It is a metaphorical level of existence with ties to the physical world which only psychic entities can visit. In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange has practiced astral projection since his inception in 1963. Other Marvel characters with no psychic powers are capable of astral projection through other sources, such as by magic spells - for example, Illyana Rasputin [alias Magik] was able to astral project her own consciousness in New Mutants (Series 1) #15. Other mutants such as Professor X, Emma Frost, Jean Grey and other powerful psychics have access to the astral plane. As a means to prevent another powerful psychic from harming others, Professor X imprisons the Shadow King on the astral plane. There are beings who live in the astral plane of existence such as the mummudrai, of which Cassandra Nova is a member, who cannot exist on the physical plane without a body.

The Astral Plane is featured in the television show Charmed, in which it is a plane traveled through when astral projecting, reached through orbing and described as a realm of "spirits and energies".[1] Charmed describes there being eleven planes of existence,[2] including a "ghostly plane" inhabited by the dead[3] before they are escorted to the afterlife by the Angel of Death.[4]

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