Q: How important is ritual to the practice of astral flight?
Tyson: Another goal of my book is to emphasize the importance of a ritual structure in experiments with soul flight. The value of ritual is twofold: it both facilitates astral travel and provides protection against malicious astral beings. Ritual has the useful function of separating consciousness from the mundane reality and elevating it to a higher level. For this reason, its use in past centuries as a framework for astral travel was almost universal. No shaman would have considered attempting soul flight without ritual support.
Yet today, ritual is generally dismissed as meaningless and unnecessary. In most of the books written on the subject of astral travel, you will find no mention of it. Muldoon did not use ritual, and his example has become the modern norm.
It is possible to travel through the astral realms without ritual support, but it is easier and safer to use ritual. That is why it was employed by the Golden Dawn and related groups of ceremonial magicians. Ritual is part of the history and tradition of soul flight.
One value of ritual that is often not considered is that it transports consciousness to a different level. When the ritual is terminated, consciousness returns to its normal state. Once the habit of ritual is adopted, it becomes more difficult to shift levels of consciousness without it, and this acts as a safeguard, since it is much less likely that consciousness will shift without the intention or awareness of the practitioner. If astral travel is simply engaged in without any ritual structure, this shift in consciousness is much more apt to happen when it is not wanted – while driving, for example, or while at work in the office.
As much as the beginner desires to make the first astral journey happen, he does not want to have it occur by itself at awkward moments. He does not want to be confronted with astral entities while talking to his company executive in the boardroom, or when trying pass a semi on the highway. There is a time for astral travel, and a time to avoid astral travel, and ritual is very helpful in marking out the boundaries between the two states.
Q: Many people are frustrated by failed attempts at astral travel. What advice would you give them?
Tyson: Most people can experience soul flight in one form or another, if they apply themselves to its study and practice. Regular exercises are important, along with an optimistic attitude. Some are better at scrying in the astral than traveling through it. I do not consider myself to be particularly adept – certainly nowhere near the level of a Sylvan Muldoon. Yet I have achieved astral flights that have been of great significance to me in my spiritual and magical development.
There are many avenues that lead to the astral realms. If direct travel is difficult, the use of a crystal or mirror may work. Or if waking travel is difficult, it is possible to induce dreams of astral travel. This was a common practice among the Egyptians and Greeks of the ancient world. There were temples devoted to dream oracles, where those seeking the oracles slept. Such dream oracles are a type of astral travel.
My advice to those who have tried the technique in a book and failed would be to give the method a chance for a few weeks or months. Do not quit too easily. It takes time to build up reflexive habits that aid in ritual work and in the change in states of consciousness. If at last, you find that a particular technique is not working for you, try something else. There are many books available on the subject of astral projection, and many different induction methods.
I do advise that a simple ritual circle be used as a focus for the mind, and also as a protective barrier against astral intrusions. It is quick and easy to project an astral circle around yourself before experimenting with astral travel. Do not worry about being locked within the circle – the center of every circle is a gateway that leads in and out, and your subconscious mind will open this doorway automatically when you seek to project beyond the circle. You can facilitate the opening and closing of the doorway of the circle by visualizing spiral swirls opening and closing. The point doorway at the center of a circle is opened by means of a vortex. As I say, this happens automatically, but it can be aided by visualization.
Next page: Avoiding the dangers