Aleister Crowley and the Origins of Astral Projection

*I am not a historian nor an expert. I am researching the origins of Astral Projection as it relates to the science fiction of my own short film. You can find my trailer at the bottom.

Still from my short film “Doctor with the Red Houseware”

Astral projection is defined by Miriam Webster as “the ability of a person’s spirit to travel to distant places.”

It originates from an esoteric belief that we contain an astral body capable of extra-sensory perception (or ESP). Esoteric is a loosely defined term that describes a person with a deep knowledge of the universe and the lessons it contains.

Aleister Crowley

In 1898, Aleister Crowley – accused by his own mother of being the Anti-Christ – joined a group of esoteric occultists called the “Order of the Golden Dawn.” This group believed that they could perform magic & communicate with angles. A core belief of this group was that new members must grow in understanding of their inner selves prior to learning deeper lessons. Crowley employed the use of psychedelics to assist him in his journey. Over time, the group’s fundamental disgust with Crowley’s personal beliefs and practices would only escalate.

Aleister Crowley’s first wife, Rose Edith Kelly, eloped with Crowley to Egypt in order to avoid an arranged marriage. Crowley brought her into a dark cave and read from a book called “Goeat, the Lesser key of Solomon.” The goal was to summon the Egyptian God Horus. During this reading Rose Kelly fell back then claimed she had a vision and heard the voice of Horus. Crowley didn’t believe her – after years of studying the occult and attempting to summon demons, he had never succeeded. Rose had been present for his trance but she wasn’t trying to summon anything. Aleister didn’t believe her, so he took her to a museum for proof. He asked her to point out the God she saw and she pointed at the correct image of Horus.

Queen Nefertari and Horus -photographed by Patrick Landmann/ Science Photo Library

Rose told Crowley that she had received instructions for how to communicate with the spirits. He followed her instructions and was shocked to finally hear the voice of his guardian Angel, Aiwass. Crowley supposedly received instructions for contacting the spirits over the next 3 days. These writings would become known as the The Book of the Law.

After increasing turmoil with the “Order of the Golden Dawn” Crowley founded “Thelema”, where he taught The Book of the Law as its bible. The practices and techniques this group developed to communicate with angels or travel on the astral plane resulted in a belief that astral projection was a skill that could be learned.


Explaining the Esoteric Imagination – Towards a Theory of Kataphatic Practice (Egil Asbrim)

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