The Astral Senses

The student of occultism usually is quite familiar with the crass

individual who assumes the cheap skeptical attitude toward occult matters,

which attitude he expresses in his would-be "smart" remark that he

"believes only in what his senses perceive." He seems to think that his

cheap wit has finally disposed of the matter, the implication being that

the occultist is a credulous, "easy" person who believes in the existence

of things contrary to the evidence of the senses.

While the opinion or views of persons of this class are, of course,

beneath the serious concern of any true student of occultism, nevertheless

the mental attitude of such persons are worthy of our passing

consideration, inasmuch as it serves to give us an object lesson regarding

the childlike attitude of the average so-called "practical" persons

regarding the matter of the evidence of the senses.

These so-called practical persons have much to say regarding their senses.

They are fond of speaking of "the evidence of my senses." They also have

much to say about the possession of "good sense" on their part; of having

"sound common sense"; and often they make the strange boast that they have

"horse sense," seeming to consider this a great possession. Alas, for the

pretensions of this class of persons. They are usually found quite

credulous regarding matters beyond their everyday field of work and

thought, and accept without question the most ridiculous teachings and

dogmas reaching them from the voice of some claimed authority, while they

sneer at some advanced teaching which their minds are incapable of

comprehending. Anything which seems unusual to them is deemed "flighty,"

and lacking in appeal to their much prized "horse sense."

But, it is not my intention to spend time in discussing these

insignificant half-penny intellects. I have merely alluded to them in

order to bring to your mind the fact that to many persons the idea of

"sense" and that of "senses" is very closely allied. They consider all

knowledge and wisdom as "sense;" and all such sense as being derived

directly from their ordinary five senses. They ignore almost completely

the intuitional phases of the mind, and are unaware of many of the higher

processes of reasoning.

Such persons accept as undoubted anything that their senses report to

them. They consider it heresy to question a report of the senses. One of

their favorite remarks is that "it almost makes me doubt my senses." They

fail to perceive that their senses, at the best, are very imperfect

instruments, and that the mind is constantly employed in correcting the

mistaken report of the ordinary five senses.

Not to speak of the common phenomenon of color-blindness, in which one

color seems to be another, our senses are far from being exact. We may,

by suggestion, be made to imagine that we smell or taste certain things

which do not exist, and hypnotic subjects may be caused to see things that

have no existence save in the imagination of the person. The familiar

experiment of the person crossing his first two fingers, and placing them

on a small object, such as a pea or the top of a lead-pencil, shows us how

"mixed" the sense of feeling becomes at times. The many familiar instances

of optical delusions show us that even our sharp eyes may deceive

us--every conjuror knows how easy it is to deceive the eye by suggestion

and false movements.

Perhaps the most familiar example of mistaken sense-reports is that of the

movement of the earth. The senses of every person report to him that the

earth is a fixed, immovable body, and that the sun, moon, planets, and

stars move around the earth every twenty-four hours. It is only when one

accepts the reports of the reasoning faculties, that he knows that the

earth not only whirls around on its axis every twenty-four hours, but that

it circles around the sun every three hundred and sixty-five days; and

that even the sun itself, carrying with it the earth and the other

planets, really moves along in space, moving toward or around some unknown

point far distant from it. If there is any one particular report of the

senses which would seem to be beyond doubt or question, it certainly would

be this elementary sense report of the fixedness of the earth beneath our

feet, and the movements of the heavenly bodies around it--and yet we know

that this is merely an illusion, and that the facts of the case are

totally different. Again, how few persons really realize that the eye

perceives things up-side-down, and that the mind only gradually acquires

the trick of adjusting the impression?

I am not trying to make any of you doubt the report of his or her five

senses. That would be most foolish, for all of us must needs depend upon

these five senses in our everyday affairs, and would soon come to grief

were we to neglect their reports. Instead, I am trying to acquaint you

with the real nature of these five senses, that you may realize what they

are not, as well as what they are; and also that you may realize that

there is no absurdity in believing that there are more channels of

information open to the ego, or soul of the person, than these much used

five senses. When you once get a correct scientific conception of the real

nature of the five ordinary senses, you will be able to intelligently

grasp the nature of the higher psychic faculties or senses, and thus be

better fitted to use them. So, let us take a few moments time in order to

get this fundamental knowledge well fixed in our minds.

What are the five senses, anyway. Your first answer will be: "Feeling,

seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling." But that is merely a recital of the

different forms of sensing. What is a "sense," when you get right down to

it? Well, you will find that the dictionary tells us that a sense is a

"faculty, possessed by animals, of perceiving external objects by means of

impressions made upon certain organs of the body." Getting right down to

the roots of the matter, we find that the five senses of man are the

channels through which he becomes aware or conscious of information

concerning objects outside of himself. But, these senses are not the

sense-organs alone. Back of the organs there is a peculiar arrangement of

the nervous system, or brain centres, which take up the messages received

through the organs; and back of this, again, is the ego, or soul, or mind,

which, at the last, is the real KNOWER. The eye is merely a camera; the

ear, merely a receiver of sound-waves; the nose, merely an arrangement of

sensitive mucous membrane; the mouth and tongue, simply a container of

taste-buds; the nervous system, merely a sensitive apparatus designed to

transmit messages to the brain and other centres--all being but part of

the physical machinery, and liable to impairment or destruction. Back of

all this apparatus is the real Knower who makes use of it.

Science tells us that of all the five senses, that of Touch or Feeling was

the original--the fundamental sense. All the rest are held to be but

modifications of, and specialized forms of, this original sense of

feeling. I am telling you this not merely in the way of interesting and

instructive scientific information, but also because an understanding of

this fact will enable you to more clearly comprehend that which I shall

have to say to you about the higher faculties or senses.

Many of the very lowly and simple forms of animal life have this one sense

only, and that but poorly developed. The elementary life form "feels" the

touch of its food, or of other objects which may touch it. The plants also

have something akin to this sense, which in some cases, like that of the

Sensitive Plant, for instance, is quite well developed. Long before the

sense of sight, or the sensitiveness to light appeared in animal-life, we

find evidences of taste, and something like rudimentary hearing or

sensitiveness to sounds. Smell gradually developed from the sense of

taste, with which even now it is closely connected. In some forms of lower

animal life the sense of smell is much more highly developed than in

mankind. Hearing evolved in due time from the rudimentary feeling of

vibrations. Sight, the highest of the senses, came last, and was an

evolution of the elementary sensitiveness to light.

But, you see, all these senses are but modifications of the original sense

of feeling or touch. The eye records the touch or feeling of the

light-waves which strike upon it. The ear records the touch or feeling of

the sound-waves or vibrations of the air, which reach it. The tongue and

other seats of taste record the chemical touch of the particles of food,

or other substances, coming in contact with the taste-buds. The nose

records the chemical touch of the gases or fine particles of material

which touch its mucous membrane. The sensory-nerves record the presence of

outer objects coming in contact with the nerve ends in various parts of

the skin of the body. You see that all of these senses merely record the

contact or "touch" of outside objects.

But the sense organs, themselves, do not do the knowing of the presence of

the objects. They are but pieces of delicate apparatus serving to record

or to receive primary impressions from outside. Wonderful as they are,

they have their counterparts in the works of man, as for instance: the

camera, or artificial eye; the phonograph, or, artificial ear; the

delicate chemical apparatus, or artificial taster and smeller; the

telegraph, or artificial nerves. Not only this, but there are always to be

found nerve telegraph wires conveying the messages of the eye, the ear,

the nose, the tongue, to the brain--telling the something in the brain of

what has been felt at the other end of the line. Sever the nerves leading

to the eye, and though the eye will continue to register perfectly, still

no message will reach the brain. And render the brain unconscious, and no

message will reach it from the nerves connecting with eye, ear, nose,

tongue, or surface of the body. There is much more to the receiving of

sense messages than you would think at first, you see.

Now all this means that the ego, or soul, or mind, if you prefer the

term--is the real Knower who becomes aware of the outside world by means

of the messages of the senses. Cut off from these messages the mind would

be almost a blank, so far as outside objects are concerned. Every one of

the senses so cut off would mean a diminishing or cutting-off of a part of

the world of the ego. And, likewise, each new sense added to the list

tends to widen and increase the world of the ego. We do not realize this,

as a rule. Instead, we are in the habit of thinking that the world

consists of just so many things and facts, and that we know every possible

one of them. This is the reasoning of a child. Think how very much smaller

than the world of the average person is the world of the person born

blind, or the person born deaf! Likewise, think how very much greater and

wider, and more wonderful this world of ours would seem were each of us to

find ourselves suddenly endowed with a new sense! How much more we would

perceive. How much more we would feel. How much more we would know. How

much more we would have to talk about. Why, we are really in about the

same position as the poor girl, born blind, who said that she thought that

the color of scarlet must be something like the sound of a trumpet. Poor

thing, she could form no conception of color, never having seen a ray of

light--she could think and speak only in the terms of touch, sound, taste

and smell. Had she also been deaf, she would have been robbed of a still

greater share of her world. Think over these things a little.

Suppose, on the contrary, that we had a new sense which would enable us to

sense the waves of electricity. In that case we would be able to "feel"

what was going on at another place--perhaps on the other side of the

world, or maybe, on one of the other planets. Or, suppose that we had an X

Ray sense--we could then see through a stone wall, inside the rooms of a

house. If our vision were improved by the addition of a telescopic

adjustment, we could see what is going on in Mars, and could send and

receive communications with those living there. Or, if with a microscopic

adjustment, we could see all the secrets of a drop of water--maybe it is

well that we cannot do this. On the other hand, if we had a well-developed

telepathic sense, we would be aware of the thought-waves of others to such

an extent that there would be no secrets left hidden to anyone--wouldn't

that alter life and human intercourse a great deal? These things would

really be no more wonderful than is the evolution of the senses we have.

We can do some of these things by apparatus designed by the brain of

man--and man really is but an imitator and adaptor of Nature. Perhaps, on

some other world or planet there may be beings having seven, nine or

fifteen senses, instead of the poor little five known to us. Who knows!

But it is not necessary to exercise the imagination in the direction of

picturing beings on other planets endowed with more senses than have the

people of earth. While, as the occult teachings positively state, there

are beings on other planets whose senses are as much higher than the

earth-man's as the latter's are higher than those of the oyster, still we

do not have to go so far to find instances of the possession of much

higher and more active faculties than those employed by the ordinary man.

We have but to consider the higher psychical faculties of man, right here

and now, in order to see what new worlds are open to him. When you reach

a scientific understanding of these things, you will see that there really

is nothing at all supernatural about much of the great body of wonderful

experiences of men in all times which the "horse sense" man sneeringly

dismisses as "queer" and "contrary to sense." You will see that these

experiences are quite as natural as are those in which the ordinary five

senses are employed--though they are super-physical. There is the greatest

difference between supernatural and super-physical, you must realize.

All occultists know that man has other senses than the ordinary five,

although but few men have developed them sufficiently well to use them

effectively. These super-physical senses are known to the occultists as

"the astral senses." The term "Astral," used so frequently by all

occultists, ancient and modern, is derived from the Greek word "astra,"

meaning "star." It is used to indicate those planes of being immediately

above the physical plane. The astral senses are really the counterparts of

the physical senses of man, and are connected with the astral body of the

person just as the physical senses are connected with the physical body.

The office of these astral senses is to enable the person to receive

impressions on the astral plane, just as his physical senses enable him to

receive impressions on the physical plane. On the physical plane the mind

of man receives only the sense impressions of the physical organs of

sense; but when the mind functions and vibrates on the astral plane, it

requires astral senses in order to receive the impressions of that plane,

and these, as we shall see, are present.

Each one of the physical senses of man has its astral counterpart. Thus

man has, in latency, the power of seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling, and

hearing, on the astral plane, by means of his five astral senses. More

than this, the best occultists know that man really has seven physical

senses instead of but five, though these two additional senses are not

unfolded in the case of the average person (though occultists who have

reached a certain stage are able to use them effectively). Even these two

extra physical senses have their counterparts on the astral plane.

Persons who have developed the use of their astral senses are able to

receive the sense impressions of the astral plane just as clearly as they

receive those of the physical plane by means of the physical senses. For

instance, the person is thus able to perceive things occurring on the

astral plane; to read the Akashic Records of the past; to perceive things

that are happening in other parts of the world; to see past happenings as

well; and in cases of peculiar development, to catch glimpses of the

future, though this is far rarer than the other forms of astral sight.

Again, by means of clairaudience, the person may hear the things of the

astral world, past as well as present, and in rare cases, the future. The

explanation is the same in each case--merely the receiving of vibrations

on the astral plane instead of on the physical plane. In the same way,

the astral senses of smelling, tasting, and feeling operate. But though we

have occasional instances of astral feeling, in certain phases of psychic

phenomena, we have practically no manifestation of astral smelling or

tasting, although the astral senses are there ready for use. It is only in

instances of travelling in the astral body that the last two mentioned

astral senses, viz., smell and taste, are manifested.

The phenomena of telepathy, or thought transference, occurs on both the

physical and the mental plane. On the physical plane it is more or less

spontaneous and erratic in manifestation; while on the astral plane it is

as clear, reliable and responsive to demand as is astral sight, etc.

The ordinary person has but occasional flashes of astral sensing, and as a

rule is not able to experience the phenomenon at will. The trained

occultist, on the contrary, is able to shift from one set of senses to the

other, by a simple act or effort of will, whenever he may wish to do so.

Advanced occultists are often able to function on both physical and astral

planes at the same time, though they do not often desire to do so. To

vision astrally, the trained occultist merely shifts his sensory mechanism

from physical to astral, or vice versa, just as the typewriter operator

shifts from the small-letter type to the capitals, by simply touching the

shift-key of his machine.

Many persons suppose that it is necessary to travel on the astral plane,

in the astral body, in order to use the astral senses. This is a mistake.

In instances of clairvoyance, astral visioning, psychometry, etc., the

occultist remains in his physical body, and senses the phenomena of the

astral plane quite readily, by means of the astral senses, just as he is

able to sense the phenomena of the physical plane when he uses the

physical organs--quite more easily, in fact, in many instances. It is not

even necessary for the occultist to enter into the trance condition, in

the majority of cases.

Travel in the astral body is quite another phase of occult phenomena, and

is far more difficult to manifest. The student should never attempt to

travel in the astral body except under the instruction of some competent


In Crystal Gazing, the occultist merely employs the crystal in order to

concentrate his power, and to bring to a focus his astral vision. There is

no supernatural virtue in the crystal itself--it is merely a means to an

end; a piece of useful apparatus to aid in the production of certain


In Psychometry some object is used in order to bring the occulist "en

rapport" with the person or thing associated with it. But it is the astral

senses which are employed in describing either the past environment of the

thing, or else the present or past doings of the person in question, etc.

In short, the object is merely the loose end of the psychic ball of twine

which the psychometrist proceeds to wind or unwind at will. Psychometry

is merely one form of astral seeing; just as is crystal gazing.

In what is known as Telekinesis, or movement at a distance, there is found

the employment of both astral sensing, and astral will action accompanied

in many cases by actual projection of a portion of the substance of the

astral body.

In the case of Clairvoyance, we have an instance of the simplest form of

astral seeing, without the necessity of the "associated object" of

psychometry, or the focal point of the crystal in crystal gazing.

This is true not only of the ordinary form of clairvoyance, in which the

occultist sees astrally the happenings and doings at some distant point,

at the moment of observation; it is also true of what is known as past

clairvoyance, or astral seeing of past events; and in the seeing of future

events, as in prophetic vision, etc. These are all simply different forms

of one and the same thing.

Surely, some of you may say, "These things are supernatural, far above the

realm of natural law--and yet this man would have us believe otherwise."

Softly, softly, dear reader, do not jump at conclusions so readily. What

do you know about the limits of natural law and phenomena? What right have

you to assert that all beyond your customary range of sense experience is

outside of Nature? Do you not realize that you are attempting to place a

limit upon Nature, which in reality is illimitable?

The man of a generation back of the present one would have been equally

justified in asserting that the marvels of wireless telegraphy were

supernatural, had he been told of the possibility of their manifestation.

Going back a little further, the father of that man would have said the

same thing regarding the telephone, had anyone been so bold as to have

prophesied it. Going back still another generation, imagine the opinion of

some of the old men of that time regarding the telegraph. And yet these

things are simply the discovery and application of certain of Nature's

wonderful powers and forces.

Is it any more unreasonable to suppose that Nature has still a mine of

undiscovered treasure in the mind and constitution of man, as well as in

inorganic nature? No, friends, these things are as natural as the physical

senses, and not a whit more of a miracle. It is only that we are

accustomed to one, and not to the other, that makes the astral senses seem

more wonderful than the physical. Nature's workings are all

wonderful--none more so than the other. All are beyond our absolute

conception, when we get down to their real essence. So let us keep an open


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