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The astral spheres were thought to be planes

of angelic existence intermediate between earth and heaven.


This article is about a plane of existence. In the context of Unicode, astral characters consist of planes above the Basic Multilingual Plane.

The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic), mediaeval, oriental and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the planetary spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and generally said to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularized by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism.

The "Barzakh" or inter-world in Islam, the "World of Yetzirah" in Lurianic Kabbalah, the "Spirit World" in Spiritualism and the "Fairy World" of Celtic spirituality are all related concepts.


Plato and Aristotle taught that the stars were composed of a type of matter different from the four earthly elements - a fifth, ethereal element or quintessence. In the "astral mysticism" of the classical world the human psyche was composed of the same material, thus accounting for the influence of the stars upon human affairs.


In his commentaries on Plato's Timaeus, Proclus wrote;

"Man is a little world (mikros cosmos). For, just like the Whole, he possesses both mind and reason, both a divine and a mortal body. He is also divided up according to the universe. It is for this reason, you know, that some are accustomed to say that his consciousness corresponds with the nature of the fixed stars, his reason in its contemplative aspect with Saturn and in its social aspect with Jupiter, (and) as to his irrational part, the passionate nature with Mars, the eloquent with Mercury, the appetitive with Venus, the sensitive with the Sun and the vegetative with the Moon."[1]

Dante's heavens and hells

symbolized the astral spheres and their associated virtues and vices.


Such doctrines were commonplace in mystery-schools and gnostic sects throughout the Roman Empire and influenced the early Christian church. Among Muslims the "astral" world-view was soon rendered orthodox by Quranic references to the Prophet's ascent through the seven heavens.


Scholars took up the Greek Neoplatonist accounts as well as similar material in Hindu and Zoroastrian texts.[2] The expositions of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), the Brotherhood of Purity and others, when translated into Latin in the Norman era, were to have a profound effect upon European mediaeval alchemy and astrology. By the fourteenth century Dante was describing his own imaginary journey through the astral spheres of Paradise.[3]

Throughout the renaissance, philosophers, Paracelsians, Rosicrucians and alchemists continued to discuss the nature of the astral world intermediate between earth and the divine.


Once the telescope established that no religious heaven was visible around the solar system, the idea was superseded in mainstream science.

The astral plane and astral experience

According to occult teachings the astral plane can be visited consciously through astral projection, meditation and mantra, near death experience, lucid dreaming, or other means. Individuals that are trained in the use of the astral vehicle can separate their consciousness in the astral vehicle from the physical body at will.

In early theosophical literature the term "astral" may refer to the aether. Neo-Theosophy, as developed by Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater, and later Alice Bailey, makes the astral finer than the etheric plane but "denser" than the mental plane. In order to create a unified view of seven bodies and remove earlier Sanskrit terms, an etheric plane was introduced and the term "astral body" was used to replace the former kamarupa - sometimes termed the body of emotion, illusion or desire.

According to Max Heindel's Rosicrucian writings, desire-stuff may be described as a type of force-matter, in incessant motion, responsive to the slightest feeling. The desire world is also said to be the abode of the dead for some time subsequent to death. It is also the home of the archangels. In the higher regions of the desire world thoughts take a definite form and color perceptible to all, all is light and there is but one long day.

In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda mentions the astral plane. When one dies the soul moves to the astral plane where the result of past actions or karma is reaped.


The astral plane in popular culture

The Astral Plane is referred to in the song Draw the Line by Aerosmith, Dream Weaver by Gary Wright, Legend of a Mind by The Moody Blues and in rap artist Method Man's song Bring the Pain, which was later quoted by rap artist 2pac in the chorus of his song "No More Pain".


The two songs Astral Plane and Astral Plane Pt Deux by Morphine Machine are specifically about it.


"Astral Plane" is the name of song on the debut album of Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers and the term provided the title and informed the lyrics of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

"The place where earth and heaven meet",

from Flammarion's Popular Meteorology, 1888.


In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange has practiced astral projection since his inception in 1963.


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. Professor X imprisons the Shadow King on the astral plane. There are beings who live there such as Cassandra Nova.

In the DC/Vertigo Universe, the Astral planes are used for travel and magic by a certain number of individuals such as Doctor Fate, Zatanna, and Doctor Occult, though use of astral projection is mostly illusionary.

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. The Astral Plane is the final level of the computer game NetHack. In Ironclaw some characters can use an astral body.

The Apple II and PC video game Windwalker identifies the Astral Plane as a dimension through which a character called the Alchemist can summon demons, influence dreams and cause evil. The Astral plane is featured as a level in the video game X-Men Legends.

In R. A. Salvatore's series of books based in the Forgotten Realms, the main character Drizzt Do'Urden has a black panther named Guenhwyvar who resides in the Astral Plane and is "summoned" through a small, onyx figurine.

The Astral Plane is featured in the surreal 2000 comedy film The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz. It is a major part of the musical "The True Story of the Bridgewater Astral League" by The World/Inferno Friendship Society.


It is featured in the television show Charmed, in which it is described as a realm of "spirits and energies".[4]

Planes of existence
Subtle bodies


1. Divine plane: Deity Spirit; Word
2. Oversoulful plane: Holy Spirit
3. Spiritual plane: Spirit
4. Soulful plane: Soul

5a. Higher mental plane: mind
5b. Causal plane: Causal body
5c. Mental plane: body, projection

6. Astral plane: body, projection
7a-b. Etheric-Material plane:
Ethereal body, Material body, OBE


  • The 7 Worlds & the 7 Cosmic Planes

  • The Seven-fold constitution of Man

  • The Ten-fold constitution of Man


  • Body of light / Thelemic mysticism

Surat Shabda Yoga

  • Cosmology


  • Sufi cosmology


  • Lokas - Kosas


  • Buddhist cosmology


  • Atziluth -> Beri'ah -> Yetzirah -> Assiah

  • Sephirot

Fourth Way

  • Ray of Creation

  • The Laws

  • Three Centers and Five Centers

Dungeons and Dragons

  • Inner Plane

  • Prime Material Plane

  • Outer Plane



  • Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter III: The Visible and the Invisible Worlds), 1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3

  • Powell, Arthur E. The Astral Body and other Astral Phenomena

  • Steiner, Rudolph, Theosophy: An introduction to the supersensible knowledge of the world and the destination of man. London: Rudolf Steiner Press. (1904) 1970

  • Twitchell, Paul, "ECKANKAR - The Key to Secret Worlds" Eckankar, 2nd Ed. 2001. ISBN 1-57043-154-X

    • Occult Science - An Outline. Trans. George and Mary Adams. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1909, 1969

  • Tommaso Palamidessi, Come sdoppiarsi e viaggiare nei mondi soprasensibili, Vol. III, ed. Archeosofica, 1989.



  1. Quoted in; G.R.S.Mead, The Doctrine of the Subtle Body in Western Tradition, Watkins 1919, page 84 (Slightly adapted).

  2. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: There are two states for man - the state in this world and the state in the next; there is also a third state, the state intermediate between these two, which can be likened to the dream [state]. While in the intermediate state a man experiences both the other states, that of this world and that in the next; and the manner whereof is as follows: when he dies he lives only in the subtle body, on which are left the impressions of his past deeds, and of those impressions is he aware, illumined as they are by the light of the Transcendent Self

  3. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, University of New York Press, passim. Idries Shah, The Sufis, Octagon Press, 1st Ed. 1964.

  4. The Power of Three Blondes