*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.
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.
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.
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.
If you missed Part 1, click HERE
Hugo and the rest of the kids stared at the busted fence. His baseball was on the other side, and the only way to get it back was to set foot on Old Man Semos’ property.
“You have to forget about it!” said Measles. “Go over there and you’ll get killed!”
“Of course he’s not going over there!” Shouted Pudgy, with a laugh. “He’s too big of a wuss.”
Hugo took a step forward, then stopped and gulped. That baseball was the only thing he had left to remember his dad by – it was more important to him than all the pop in the world.
“Don’t do it, Hugo,” said Measles. “I don’t want you to die. Not yet at least.”
Hugo continued his slow trudge forward.
The only kid who walked with him was Measles, who adjusted his glasses then said, “Old Man Semos puts bags of candy on his front porch for Halloween every year, and still nobody goes over there. You wanna know why?”
“Why?” said Hugo. The two of them were now well afar from the rest of the gang, and only feet away from the fence.
“Because the one kid who ever took some of that candy swears on his life that it was human flesh, mixed with sugar!”
Measles stopped, but Hugo kept going.
“Don’t do it, Hugo. It’s not worth it.”
“I know,” said Hugo, before peaking through the hole in the fence. No sign of any dog, and no sign of Old Man Semos. The baseball, however, just sat there, in plain sight.
“It was good knowing you,” said Measles.
Hugo turned, then watched Measles walk back to the other kids, hanging his head like Hugo had already been mauled to death. Hugo didn’t have time to worry about that now – if he acted quickly, maybe he’d be able to live and get his baseball back.
He ripped the rest of the broken plank away. The opening was narrow, but Hugo was skinny enough to slide through. For the first time in his life he was grateful for being such a rail. By the time he spotted it, he was in too deep.
The gargantuan hound. It really was the size of a horse! Sitting in its dog house, Hugo heard it growl once his shoe touched down on the burnt-out lawn. Hugo looked over at the ball, then back at the hound.
It growled again.
Hugo took one last breath, then booked it.
As he bolted after the baseball he could hear the hound’s chain dragging through the dry brown grass. The hound ferociously barked as it raced along the ground.
It wasn’t charging at Hugo – it was charging after the ball!
Hugo couldn’t afford to lose focus now – his eyes stayed trained on the baseball the entire time. As he neared it, Hugo realized he’d have to pick it up and keep running without losing a step – this hound’s chain was nowhere close to being taught.
The hound opened its jaw and Hugo swore he saw fangs in its mouth. Hugo returned his eyes to the ground, right where the baseball sat, and swiped it up then kept going.
The giant dog still chased after him; slobber splashed up and soaked Hugo’s elbow.
He was running out of room to escape – Hugo headed straight for the screen door to Old Man Semos’ house. He busted through and tore it down, landing in a rough dive that knocked the ball out of his hand. He barely escaped the Hound, whose chain tugged the collar on his neck and cut-off his pursuit.
Hugo stayed on his stomach for a bit, breathing heavily until he caught his breath. When he finally worked up the courage, he took his eyes forward to figure out where his baseball had rolled to. Sitting on the couch, tossing it up and down in the air with one hand and holding a rifle in his other was the scariest person Hugo had ever laid eyes on – Old Man Semos.
To be continued…
- Thomas M. Watt
Haven’t been on here much, as you can tell my last few post have been posted infrequently.
Getting back into writing, as my former profession has all but come to an end.
I’m interested in a job in the entertainment industry – ideally as a writer, but being an actor would be cool as well. I was just offered $1000 to do a modeling gig, but it didn’t specify whether or not ‘getting raped’ is required. I found the job on craigslist, after all.
Anyway, I’d like to get in the habit of publishing short, 10,000 word stories on Amazon. It seems like a good way to build a following, and also an easy avenue to get my work out there.
The short story I’m currently working on is about a man named Phillip who begins to get a regular visitor in his dreams. This visitor tells Phillip about future events in his life, and uses fear to control Phillip to the point where he becomes no more than a puppet. Phillip races to find the strange man, discover how he has access to his dreams, and justify his own actions before he is placed behind bars.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress – already 1500 words in.
In my last post, we discussed how to raise stakes for specific situations. By constantly reminding the reader of the importance of your protagonist’s current quest, whether through direct writing or subtext, you will build toward a rewarding climax. Even though this is only one chapter out of the book, it is important to constantly fill your stories with build-ups and pay-offs. If you missed my last post, I suggest you take the time to read it in order to understand the importance of it. Reach it by clicking here.
In the following scene, I’ve created a rise in tension by making the situation more and more uncomfortable for James. Remember from the last scene, his initial meeting with Penny is going to have an enormous effect on his psychological state, one way or the other. Here’s the excerpt from “A New Kingdom.”
* * *
“That’s it kid, I can’t watch you embarrass yourself any longer.” Roy tossed his cards, stood up, and walked toward the group. James looked away nervously, hoping to God that Roy wouldn’t do what James was certain he was about to do.
“Excuse me, miss – it’s Penny, correct?”
James could hear Penny and the rest of her group slowly come to a stop.
“Yes, that’s me.”
James watched Roy cup his hands together and speak more elegantly than he ever had before.
“Well Penny, my name is Roy, and that there’s my friend James.” He pointed right at him with two fingers glued together.
James looked away. Every part of him wanted to smash his own face into the wall. The other part of him wanted to tackle Roy.
“Give us a wave, James,” said Roy.
James gulped, then looked back and waved hesitantly with a terribly corny smile.
“You see Penny, James here is the greatest guy I’ve ever known. And he’s done so many great things for me, I wanted to help him out a bit.”
“Oh, O.K,” said Penny.
Roy continued. “And this great guy, who I like to call James the great, he really digs ya, Penny. He says you’re the most beautiful gal he has ever set eyes on. Every time you walk by, make your bed, or read a book, James is watching you.”
Penny took a step back and looked horrified.
“Don’t worry, Penn. James is no stalker. As a matter of fact, he told me yesterday he wants to start a stalker awareness club. You know what’s not a joke? How lovely James thinks you are. I think you ought a give him a chance. After all, you two are the same age, stuck underground in a base, it seems like it’s meant to be, don’t ya think?”
James looked up at the ceiling. He wanted God to hear his prayer. He prayed that the brick ceiling above would collapse and kill him. And if it wasn’t too much trouble, to please let it kill Roy as well.
“Fine,” said Penny with a shrug, “I’ll meet him.”
“Best decision you ever made.”
As Roy walked Penny over, James wiped instant oatmeal crumbs from his jeans and held his hand out for a handshake.
“You can call me James.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather ‘James the Great’?”
James laughed loudly and for a bit longer than the joke deserved. He made a face at Roy like an awkward cry for help. Roy countered with a wink and a smile, then left him to fend for himself. James felt his heart in his throat. He stood up.
“James is fine. Uh, you like to read, huh?”
“I guess so… I never read much before, but down here I don’t have much of a choice, not in this hellhole.”
Afraid his nervousness might become visible, James put on the best front that he could. He leaned smoothly up-against the wall beside him, and casually slid his hand into his pocket.
“Yea, life is pretty plain down here. Me and crazy Roy pretty much just play cards all day. Life would be a ton better if it wasn’t for that stupid council, all those idiots do is make schedules and stupid restrictions. Without them, life down here would be great.”
Penny looked down at her feet, “Yeah, ha, right… Ummm, tell me about your friend Roy. How do you know him?”
“Met him the night of the invasion. Crazy Roy keeps it real, and he’s a former pro poker player! Plus he can play some tunes on the guitar, and I think he said he used to be a pilot or something.”
“That’s kinda cool.”
“Yeah, and he has all this chewing tobacco stuff, and he lets me take as much as I want.”
“Ew… Does he have any alcohol?”
“Oh ya, he does.”
Penny moved in and put her hands on James’ wrist. Her bracelets jingled, “James, me, you, and Roy. We’re drinking tonight!!”
“Well… yeah, okay.”
“Don’t tell me you’re scared?”
James laughed awkwardly, “I’m not scared, I’m down. I’ll ask Roy.”
“Good.” Said Penny. With a wide, seductive smile, she left to go to breakfast. At first James walked away with calm strides, but as soon as he was in the clear he practically sprinted over to Roy.
* * *
– Thomas M. Watt
Author of “A New Kingdom”
The quest of your protagonist will matter more to your readers when the repercussions of failing at that goal will have known devastating internal or external consequences.
In the following scene, James puts Penny on such a high pedestal that his initial encounter with her will have a drastic effect on his psychological well-being. All of this build-up is being done to create greater tension and conflict later on, which you will see in the second half of the chapter when it is posted tomorrow.
Every piece of dialogue or description that is designed to increase the stakes (the importance of James’ 1st conversation with Penny) is in bold typeface. The following is an excerpt from my novel “A New Kingdom.”
* * *
TSSH TSSH TST. The clamor from pots and pans being whacked together rang throughout the room. James slowly wiggled out from his bed and peeled his crusty eyes open. The clashing metal meant that it was time to wake up and get some breakfast, at least for James’ group.
It’d been nearly ten months since the invasion. Life in the underground military base consisted of the same monotonous routine, day-after-day. But group breakfast was the moment James most looked forward to – that was because Penny’s group always followed his.
Penny was the name of the blonde girl who always wore the yellow rubber boots. He still hadn’t ever spoken to her, but a couple times she’d caught him staring at her. This day, though, James planned to ignore her completely. That way he could tell if she liked him back. If she did, he’d catch her staring at him. It was a foolproof plan.
James and his group made their way into the long hallway. Juan put the pots and pans down. James wished him a ‘buenos tardes’ and received a smile back.
“I hate this friggen hall,” Roy muttered. He never woke up in a good mood.
“Morning Roy,” Janie said, as she past him.
“Morning,” said Roy. When she was far enough away, he whispered to James, “What a smoke-show.”
“Good morning guys!” Said Bill, who was walking right behind them.
“Morning Bill! Uhh, Great day, huh?” Called back Roy.
“Sure is.” Said Bill with a chipper voice, before letting out the standard giggle that came at the end of his every sentence. He skip-jogged to catch up with his wife.
Janie, who was second chair in the Underground Council, led James and the gang through the plant room and into the food area. Roy refused to refer to it by that name, and insisted on calling it the, ‘Homeless Buffet.’ He called it that because the ‘Food area’ was no more than an aluminum trashcan. It was filled twice daily with palm-sized portions that were determined by the council. Conservation was a fundamental rule for survival, Fitz had declared. Even those who were whittling down to skin and bone, and spent their days with arms over their bellies, were not permitted to eat more than their allotted share.
Janie handed out a packet of instant oatmeal to each of the bedmates, as well as canned pineapples for them to share. On the clipboard hanging from the trashcan, she wrote down exactly what foods they ate and the size of their portions. To avoid mistakes, each person had to sign off. This process was required by every group, for every meal.
James waited anxiously for Roy to sign. Penny and her group would be coming down the hallway any minute.
“Canned pineapples again, huh? You really ought’a talk to Fitz about changing it up a little,” Roy said to Janie.
“I would, but every man I talk to around here looks at me like they want to bend me over and-”
Roy popped the can open and spilled juice onto his chest and stomach. He hurried over to the sink to let the excess liquid drain out.
“Are you alright, Roy?”
“Uh, yeah… How do men look at you?”
James poked his head outside. Penny’s group was coming down the hallway. He didn’t want her to spot him sitting by himself, though. Then she’d think he was a loser.
“Like they want to bend me over to their perspective on things.”
“C’mon Roy, sign the sheet,” said James.
“What’s your hurry, kid? Got a date?”
“What? No. Why?”
Roy laughed as he dried his shirt off. “All right, all right.” He signed the sheet and walked along with James out into the hallway. They reached their typical spot and sat down. Roy and James always played Go Fish during breakfast.
“Hurry Roy, deal them out,” said James.
“Geeze, hold your horses, I will!”
James wanted to look like he was busy when Penny walked by, so that she wouldn’t know that he was ignoring her on purpose.
After Roy dealt the cards, he spotted Penny and her group coming up the hallway. Roy looked back at James with a troublesome grin.
“What?” whispered James.
Roy shook his head and continued to smirk.
James adjusted his sitting position to be more upright, and when he spoke he did so with a manlier voice than normal. She might have been close enough to hear. “C’mon, let’s play.”
“That’s it kid, I can’t watch you embarrass yourself any longer.” Roy tossed his cards, stood up, and walked toward the group. James looked away nervously, hoping to God that Roy wouldn’t do what James was absolutely certain he was about to do.
To be continued…
* * *
Hope this helps!
– Thomas M. Watt
Author of “A New Kingdom”
The hardest storytelling element to successfully integrate into any story, in my opinion, is theme.
The theme of your story is the message you are trying to teach your readers. When theme is successfully implemented, story has the power to influence viewers and readers into perceiving the world in a different light.
This is where fiction earns its value – tell a kid not to smoke and he may not listen, but show him someone dying of lung cancer who still can’t kick the habit and he’s bound to think twice about lighting up.
Properly integrating theme into your story is one of the most difficult things for writers to do, and only the greats can truly master it.
Part of the problem with giving out moral lessons, however, is they’re generally pretty boring.
That’s why I’ve titled this post “Buying yourself time.” In the following excerpt, Danny O’Keefe gives James a speech that could easily bore readers and keep them from reading on. One of the great powers suspense wields is the ability to keep your readers zoned in on crucial information due to the urgent threat of danger, lurking just around the corner.
Notice how anticipation keeps you locked in on an important, but not riveting, conversation in the excerpt from “A New Kingdom” below:
* * *
“Everyone is going to die.”
James pushed away from the window, shoved his way through the tree branches, then ran up the steps to the front door and threw it open.
“What is going on?”
Mr. O’Keefe’s eyes dropped to his bottle of whiskey. Gregg pinned his lips closed and looked away.
“Why can’t I know?”
Gregg tried to make eye contact with Mr. O’Keefe, but Mr. O’Keefe was too infatuated with his whiskey bottle.
James marched over to his dad then grabbed the whiskey from his hands. “I’m seventeen now. I have a right to know whatever the hell is going on.”
Mr. O’keefe stood up and swatted the bottle back to himself. “Oh, quit whinin’! It don’t matter how old you are, I’m not even old enough to understand this.”
“Danny, we have to leave now. It locks shut at midnight.” Gregg said.
“Alright Gregg, can you give me a minute to talk with my boy?” Mr. O’Keefe moved over to the sink and poured himself a shot.
“We don’t have the time!”
“Then make the time!”
Greg shook his head, then waved his hand as he left the apartment and went outside.
Mr. O’Keefe addressed James. “Now, if he hadn’t been my good friend, I wouldn’t ‘ave believed him. And when he told me what was going on, I wouldn’t ‘ave even listened to ‘im if he hadn’t been pacin’ so bad. And after he finished talkin’, I still didn’t believe him, until he had me look through his telescope. Now, son, I believe him.”
Mr. O’Keefe took James by the arm and led him over to the scope. James peered through and felt his heart race from what he saw – Giant balls of light were bouncing around like mad, multiplying even.
“Gregg says, and this doesn’t roll off my tongue too easily, that we got aliens coming. That’s right boy, aliens. We’ve known about ’em for a while, apparently. They’ve been kept secret by our own government, Greg says. Up until now they’ve been friendly, but I suppose that was their way of getting to know us, to prepare for their invasion. They’re coming to ‘Take earth’, so to speak. Which means destroy us. I asked Gregg why we don’t fight the damn beasts, we got no shot, he says. Compared to them, we are as smart and powerful as little bunny rabbits, he says. I think that’s rubbish if you ask me, I never saw a fight that couldn’t be won, somehow.”
James’ attention remained glued to his dad.
“So Gregg tells me that a military man knew this invasion was going to happen. He sent out Gregg, among others, to retrieve those privileged enough and take them to Pine Mountain. There’s an underground base there. He says if we don’t get to it in time we won’t be alive come morning.” Mr. O’Keefe played with his shot, swirling it around a bit, then brought it to his nose and took a whiff. He then looked at James, then lowered the shot and smiled.
“What?” said James.
“Not tonight.” He laughed. “I’m not going to drink tonight.” Mr. O’Keefe poured the shot out in the sink. He then grabbed the bottle and poured the whole thing out, watching it blip blip blip its way down the drain. He rested the empty bottle on the counter, composed himself with a quick glance out the window, then took a seat in the wobbly wooden chair across from James. He scooted in close so that he sat face-to-face with his boy, then spoke with a direct, wise tone of voice.
“I’ve been really angry for a while now, James. Mad at my enemies, my friends, but especially myself. But more than anything else, I’ve been mad at God. And I think it’s because part of me knows that there is a God. That makes me so mad, Jimmy – knowing that there is a God, and he chose to let my beautiful, perfect wife die. He let your mother die, James… I try to understand that, with everything in me, but I can’t. Your mum loved God, you know. A lot more than I ever did.”
Danny smiled and went on. “But God let’n mum go dying didn’t just hurt me, James. It hurt you, too, and I know this. I see a lot of pain in you, Jimmy. I see a lot of struggle, a lot of sorrow. But beyond all that, buried deep inside a you, I see potential for greatness. You’re going to do great things, Jimmy, I know this in the bottom of my heart. There is greatness like I have never known within you.”
The front door swung open.
“We gotta go now!”
Hope this helps!
– Thomas M. Watt
Excerpt from A New Kingdom
If aliens visited earth, how would it affect your faith? Would it shatter your religious views, or not change a thing?
What if aliens invaded planet earth, conquered and enslaved the human population, and informed us that God was a myth invented to keep humanity in line?
I want to hear some thoughts on this subject. Go ahead, leave something in the comment section. This question consumed me for a year so much that I finally wrote a book about it.
I’m looking forward to reading your responses… Unless your name is Keith. You know who you are, Keith.
– Thomas M. Watt
Casey is an Irishman who is vulgar, funny, and despicable. He loves his ‘shillelagh’, which is nothing more than a blunt club.
Jackson is an Australian, who is well-built and as crude as Casey.
Gus speaks with a croaky voice, and always is agitated about something. He is heavy, and not too fun to be around.
To find out more about my novel, “Way of the World,” just check out my website at http://www.thomasmwatt.com
We don’t get to meet Wild John until nearing the end of, “Way of the World,” but he is an intriguing character, to say the least. Michael meets John in the middle of the desert, and the stubbly-bearded man is wearing no clothes.
That’s right, he’s absolutely naked.
Michael inquires as to why, and the response strangely alludes to his connection with divine forces. Wild John goes on to say Michael is ‘from above’, to which Michael dismisses quite easily.
Obviously, being a ruthless murderer throughout his childhood makes it easy for Michael to be know that he is no angel.
Wild John leaves Michael with the curious words, “I have to make straight the way for the promise.”
Michael shrugs, and leaves the naked man with a potato sack to use for some pants.
To find out more about my novel, “Way of the World,” or to view illustrations, paintings and excerpts, feel free to check out my website at http://www.thomasmwatt.com