A hypothetical duplicate of the physical body similar to the double or astral body. Reportedly the experience of the astral body is most commonly accessed during sleep and its reality often experienced as a dream.
Dr. F. van Eeden of Holland attempted to transfer his consciousness to his dream body so that he could remember everything that transpired during sleep and also attempted to control this body to manipulate physical objects. Hereward Carrington states in Higher Psychical Development (1920):
"He did not succeed in doing so, but came very near it—and succeeded to the extent that he induced a complete dual consciousness. He remembered clearly that he was asleep in bed, with his arms folded across his breast; and at the same time he remembered clearly that he was looking out of the window and saw a dog run up and look at him through the glass, and run away again—and details of that character. He then remembered gliding towards the couch on which his physical body was lying, lying down beside it—and a moment later woke up and was again, of course, in the physical body. But he had the extreme sense of duality of consciousness of the two bodies."
In the book The Projection of the Astral Body (1929) Sylvan Muldoon claims that he met with similar experiences and at first he, too, believed that his consciousness was in both bodies simultaneously. Further experiments, however, convinced him that a double functioning of vision through the cord connecting the astral body with the physical sufficiently explained the experience.
Muldoon claims that during a conscious projection, within cord activity range, the sense of sight can function in three ways: from the eyes of the phantom, from the spot occupied by the physical eyes, and from both simultaneously. As regards moving physical objects in dreams, Muldoon states: "I know it to be the truth, viz., one can move an object in his dream, but that the object does not move until about two seconds later in reality."
Supposedly Muldoon started a metronome in his dream. The metronome was in another room on the piano. After his return to consciousness a little time elapsed before the metronome began to tick. He points out the connection to the synchronization of movement, observed between the medium Eusapia Palladino 's limbs and the objects moved as observed by Sir Oliver Lodge:
"When six or seven feet away the time interval (between the push and the movement of the object) was something like two seconds. When the accordion is being played, the fingers of the medium are moving in a thoroughly appropriate manner, and the process reminds one of the twitching of a dog's legs when he is supposed to be dreaming that he is chasing a hare. It is as if Eusapia were dreaming that she was fingering the instrument, and dreaming it so vividly that the instrument was actually played. It is as if a dog dreamt of the chase with such energy that a distant hare was really captured and killed, as by a phantom dog; and, fanciful as for the moment it may seem, and valueless as I suppose such speculations are, I am, I confess, at present more than half disposed to look in some such direction for a clue to these effects. In an idealistic conception of nature it has by many philosophers been considered that thought is the reality, and that material substratum is but a consequence of thought. So in a minor degree it appears here; it is as if, let us say, the dream of the entranced person were vivid enough physically to effect surrounding objects and actually produce objective results; to cause not only real and permanent movements of ordinary objects, but also temporary fresh aggregations of material particles into extraordinary objects—these aggregations being objective enough to be felt, heard, seen and probably even photographed while they last."
A number of experiments have been carried out by parapsychologists in modern times to attempt to establish whether there is a measurable objective reality to the "astral body," but without decisive evidence. Various techniques have been used, including magnetometers, ultraviolet and infrared detectors, strain gauges, thermistors, and other electronic devices; animals have also been used as detectors.
Use of the terms astral body, double, etheric body, and dream body as more or less synonymous is somewhat confusing. For general purposes, the term astral body is more widespread, although astral projection is now being superseded by out-ofthe-body travel because parapsychologists have begun taking increased interest in the phenomenon.
(See also lucid dreaming .)
Morris, R. L., S. B. Harry, J. Janis, J. Hartwell, and William G. Roll. "Studies of Communication during Out-of-body Experiences." Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 72 (1978).
Muldoon, Sylvan J., and Hereward Carrington. The Projection of the Astral Body. London: Rider, 1929.