A Western Approach to Lucid Dreaming

A Western Approach to Lucid Dreaming
Mark Stavish, M.A.

Astral projection has been a part of Western spiritual teachings, from the Biblical “Vision of Ezekiel” to “Traveling in Spirit Vision” with the early magical adepts of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 19th can early 20th centuries. The following technique is for those who would like to have an 'out of body experience' but lack either the visualization skills required of many methods, or who have had violent experiences leaving their body, and would like a more gentle approach to the astral planes. It can be carried out by either experienced 'traveler' or beginner with equal ease, and possibly, similar results.

The background behind this exercise is strictly kabbalistic. Kabbalah is traditional Jewish mysticism that was partially Christianized in the 12th century, and which became the working basis for most traditional Western spiritual practices.

The assumption is that we, as beings, originate in the Ain Soph Aur, or Limitless Mind of God. We incarnate through various stages of increasing density and matter, into the present world, in order to gain the experiences that will allow us to go from 'potential beings' into Self Actualized, or Self Created Beings. In our journey of development we take on characteristics and 'bodies' of various vibrations, and on our 'return' we shed these bodies in exchange for increasingly subtle bodies and worlds of Light. These “Worlds” are categorized in the Hermetic texts under different names and numbers, but share the same essential qualities and functions overall. That is, they go from the most dense world of material Earth, to the most subtle of Infinity, or the point of our origin, the Mind of the Creator.

Within our physical body we have various organs of psychic perception (psycho-spiritual centers), called chakras in Sanskrit. These centers correspond to several levels of our physiology, that is on one level, our nervous system and plexus, as well as our endocrine system of hormone secreting glands.1) In Indian texts, each chakra is associated with a particular power (siddha), which is awakened in the aspirant, and as such, allows the student to then project their consciousness through the different psychic centers in increasing complexity and subtlety, until finally, the Crown is reached.

Astral projection is often suggested through the solar plexus, but for many this can be an unnerving and unsettling experience. Other suggestions are purely visual, such as rising out of your body like a mist, or as having a second 'body of light' present next to your physical one. It is said that advanced practitioners can project their consciousness at the time of their death through the upper centers, thus 'dying consciously'.

In kabbalistic practices however, the centers are rarely used as such, but in-stead intense visualization of the ethereal Worlds is used, until they are progres-sively realized, or rituals combined with more generalized energizing ofthe psychic body are used, alone or in conjunction with these visualizations. The modern variation of this often involves the use of Tarot cards, and is called Pathworking.2)

Alchemists use herbal tinctures, or medicines, to assist in the projection of consciousness. Although, these should not be confused with hallucinogenic, or psycho-active drugs. The effects of alchemical medicines generally occur when their user is relaxed, sleeping, or in meditation. They in effect, assist the projection of consciousness, that is the expansion of awareness, rather than induce or cause it directly. It is possible to take an alchemical medicine and drive a car unimpeded.

According to Sri Aurobindo, the throat center is associated with the externalization of mental forces, and the link between the higher and lower mental spheres. Like in some color scales of kabbalah, gray is associated with this center.3) The center is associated with the purification of intelligence, the psychic substratum or ether (akasha), and hearing. Along with the remaining upper two psychic centers, these three constitute the only centers whereby direct psychic perception is possible.4)

In kabbalistic systems, the throat is generally presides over by Daath. Daath is Hebrew for 'knowledge' and represents not only a state of transcendent consciousness, but also a psycho-spiritual center (chakra) whereby spiritual states may be experienced. It is a synthetic form of the Godhead, whereby we may experience Divinity more directly. Functionally, Daath is the link between the Higher Self and the ego, or waking brain. Daath is where energy is transferred, or altered, to become material existence.“5) This applies to both the cosmology of physical existence, as well as our physical body. This last point it quite remarkable, since the thyroid gland is related to auto-immune failure, and is used extensively in 'longevity' and 'immortality' exercises.

According to Israel Regardie,6) Daath, (the Throat Center) develops in us as we learn to control our mental and emotional propensities. It is a 'self-devised' and 'self-created' link between the Higher Genius (also known as the 'Holy Guardian Angel') and our waking brain.

The symbol used to awaken this area is the caduceus of Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods, and version of the Egyptian god Thoth, Lord of Magic, Alchemy, and creative speech.

The symbols for Mercury is the stylized caduceus in the form of the combined symbols of Luna (Moon), Sol (Sun), and Terra (Earth). Combined they state the function of this part of our psychic anatomy. The upturned lunar symbol represents our brain, nervous system, and psychic functioning, resting upon the Solar symbol beneath. The Sun, is our spiritual powers, life force, and intuition. It sits astride the symbol for matter, or the equal armed cross. The Cross of the Four Elements is the symbol of material existence, and is at once our physical bodies as well as the material world we live in.

As messenger of the gods, Mercury assists in the transfer of knowledge, and not in the creation or interpretation of that knowledge, these functions being left to the brain and psychic heart. The heart is the seat of intuition, the Voice of the Soul, and the Interior Master, only through its awakening can we become conscious and free beings. However, the energy of the awakened heart, with all of its love, must be transferred to the physical brain for insight and understanding. In doing so, it requires the assistance of the Throat center. Once in the brain, the energy must also be able to return to the heart, or send information there for spiritual consideration, via the Mercurial Center.

This need to awaken both the heart and brain, is what is required for travels through the psychic realms. An awakened heart with no brain is subject to an extreme lack of practicality; and a brain with no heart can function psychically, but only in a cold and detached manner. The 'thinking heart' and 'feeling brain' are what Mercury help us to establish. In doing so, the polarity is overcome through union and the material and remaining psychic forces of our body are brought into play in a harmonious manner.

In order to present the subconscious with an orderly supply of symbols in a coherent and meaningful manner, the use of either the Alchemical Element or Kerubic (Angelic) Signs are used. Afterwards, the planetary sings of the seven principle planets are used in their place. This progressive use of the same symbols allows the subconscious to understand that these symbols are meaningful and are the official means of transferring consciousness form one level to another.

While full-scale astral projection may not immediately occur, the degree of lucid dreaming, dream memory will be experienced. It is up to each aspirant to make the most of these 'out-of-body' dream states, and increase their level of intensity so as to realize full and controlled projection of consciousness.

Step One - Obtain a set of symbols for the Four Elements and Spirit, and the Seven Planetary Signs. Start with Earth, then progress to Water, Air, Fire, and Spirit as the days proceed. The basic procedure will not change, only the symbols used to attain projection. Therefor, it is best to use symbols that you can easily visualize, either in gold, phosphorescent white, or their planetary colors.

Step Two - When going to sleep, or even just relaxing a few minutes, turn you attention to the area of your “Adam's Apple” and imagine a brilliant blue-black (or indigo/ultra-violet) sphere there, about the size of a tennis ball. Make it brilliant an translucent, as though it were illuminated from the inside, with its center point around the thyroid gland. It should be large enough to also touch the back of the nape of the neck, and if done very large (as Regardie suggests)7), it may even have its farthest edges at the bridge of the nose and brushing the thymus gland, or heart. What is important here, is that the image is three-dimensional, and not just as a flat plate in front of you. Thus, the sphere, or ball, will encompass your neck, and parts of your head. Your imagination is internally directed. It is all right to imagine the organs mentioned if it aids in visualization, otherwise, stay with the bright, translucent color and imagine that this is all there is, lose yourself in it. Place yourself in its center, look around at an infinity of singular color of slightly different shades and hues.

Step Three - After achieving familiarity with the first step, imagine your chosen symbol for Earth. See it brilliant and before you, with the qualities of Earth present, that is heaviness, and density, and simply stay with the symbol for a while, or until you fall asleep. Do this for one five to seven days, then move on to the remaining symbols. After you have completed all of the Elements, including Spirit, then proceed on to the Planetary symbols.

Step Four - With the planetary symbols you have a choices on how to approach. First, you can simply move through them, starting with Luna, and progressing up the Tree of Life; or, you can alternate through them according to the ruling planet of the day. Since it is desirable to spend several cycles with each symbol, the second method offers the easiest way of working through them with out worrying about breaking off in the middle somewhere and having to start that symbol over again.

It is desirable to spend at least five to seven cycles with each planetary symbol, or between six and seven weeks working with them as you fall asleep. This, added to the previous four or five weeks working with the Elements, makes a total often to twelve weeks of nightly work. After completion of the symbolic work, all you need to do is focus your attention upon neck, imagine the ball of light, and fall asleep. No symbols need be used, although they can be is desired. Upon rising in the morning, a minute or two can also be spent visualizing the symbol of that day as well, as long as you don't fall back to sleep!

The previously outlined exercise is meant to be an adjunct to those with regu-lar spiritual or esoteric practices. It is not designed to be performed singularly for extended periods of time, but as a means of assisting those who desire progressive, interior, initiatic experiences to be able to attain them. Practiced as described, for a few minutes daily before going to sleep, it will help spiritual aspirants to have interior contact at night with their Higher Self, of Interior Master.

Those wishing to supply information regarding their experiences to the ORA Project may do so by sending a copy of their notes after the completion of the exercise to: Mark Stavish, M.A., ORA Project, The Philosophers ofNature, P.O. Box 2920, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18703-2920. Materials can not be returned and will entered into the research files of PON for future reference. Please include a brief biographical sketch regarding your esoteric background. ORA is the Occult Research and Application Project, and is designed to find new applications for existing Hermetic knowledge, as well as re-create and examine traditional knowledge and techniques for use in the contemporary world.

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For a very effective and simple approach to awakening the psychic centers see: Wisdom of the Mystic Masters by Joseph Weed.
Highways of the Mind: The Art and History of Pathworking by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. The Aquarian Press. 1987.
Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightenment, Edited by John White. Anchor Press, Doubleday, Garden City, New York. 1979. P. 83.
White. From The Restored New Testament by J.M. Pryse. P. 432.
A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism by Gareth Knight. Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine. 1978. P. 102.
The Middle Pillar by Israel Regardie, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN. 1991.P.113.
The True Art of Healing by Israel Regardie. Edited by Marc Allen. The New World Library, San Rafael, Ca. 1991. P. 32.