The Astral Body
The second principle of humanity is the astral body. It is closely connected with the physical body and is its exact counterpart in appearance. Today we often refer to it as the Emotional Body. It is the body that our consciousness inhabits when we are dreaming.
The astral body has been known to people in all ages, and has given rise to many superstitions and mysteries, owing to a lack of knowledge of its nature. It has been called the “ethereal body”, “fluidic body”, “double”, “wraith” and so forth. It is composed of matter of a finer quality than that composing our physical bodies, but it is still matter.
The astral body is the best counterpart of the physical body and may be separated from it under certain circumstances. Ordinarily, conscious separation is a matter of considerable difficulty, but in persons of a certain degree of psychical development the astral body may be detached and often goes on journeys. To the clairvoyant vision the astral body is seen looking exactly like its counterpart, the physical body, and united to it by a slender silken cord.
The astral body exists for some time after the death of the person to whom it belongs, and under certain circumstances it is visible to living persons. Some traditions state that it takes three days to break down.
There are other means whereby the spirits of those who have passed on may become manifest. The astral shell which is sometimes seen after it has been shed by the soul which has passed on is in such cases nothing more than a corpse of finer matter than its physical counterpart. In such cases it has no life or intelligence. It is a shell, nothing more.
The astral body of a dying person is sometimes projected by an earnest desire and is sometimes seen by friends and relatives with whom the person is in sympathy. There are many cases of this kind on record, and most of us are aware of occurrences of this kind.
The astral body is invisible to the ordinary eye, but is readily perceived by those having clairvoyant power of a certain degree. Under certain circumstances the astral body of a living person may be seen by friends and others, the mental condition of the persons and the observer having much to do with the matter. Of course the trained and developed occultist is able to project his or her astral body consciously and may make it appear at will. However such powers are rare and are acquired only after a certain stage of development is reached.
The adept sees the astral body rising from the physical body as the hour of death approaches. It is seen hovering over the physical body to which it is bound by a slender thread. When the thread snaps the person is dead and the soul passes on carrying with it the astral body, which in turn is discarded as the physical body has been before. It must be remembered that the astral body is merely a finer grade of matter and that it is merely a vehicle for the soul, just as is the physical, and that both are discarded at the proper time. The astral body, like the physical, disintegrates after the death of the person. Psychics sometimes see the dissolving fragments around cemeteries in the shape of violet light.