Astara is a hermetic occult fraternity founded in 1951 by
Robert and Earlyne Chaney, both former Spiritualists. As a
young medium, Robert Chaney had been active in the Spiritualist
community in the Midwest in the 1930s and 1940s and was
one of the founders of the Spiritualist Episcopal Church in
1941. He became somewhat alienated from Spiritualism after
reading theosophical and hermetic literature and accepting
some ideas, such as reincarnation, he discovered there. Reincarnation
was still a very controversial idea in Spiritualism at
the time. Meanwhile, Earlyne Chaney, who had been a clairvoyant
since childhood, had held conversations with a spirit being
who called himself Kut-Hu-Mi. She later discovered this being
described in theosophical literature. Kut-Hu-Mi told Chaney
that she had been selected for a special task—teaching the ancient
wisdom to the people of the New Age. The Chaneys resigned
from their church in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, moved to
Los Angeles, and founded Astara.
Astara’s teachings are an eclectic body. They draw on Christianity,
Spiritualism, Theosophy, yoga, and especially on the
ancient Egyptian teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, who is
believed to have organized the original mystery school from
which all others ultimately derive. The Chaneys also have made
themselves open to new insights from the world’s religions and
From Hermes, Astara teaches that God is the only uncreated
reality and that he has emanated his seven attributes and all
that exists. Hermes taught the seven laws beginning with the
magical law of correspondence (‘‘As above, so below’’). The law
concisely states that any part of the world reflects the structure
of the whole. Other laws deal with basic observations concerning
motion, polarity, cycles, cause and effect, gender, and
mind. The acceptance of these laws leads to a number of spiritual
practices. Central to Astara is Lama Yoga, a method of
mind expansion originally taught to Earlyne Chaney by the
masters. The law of vibration has led to the practice of reciting
‘‘Om,’’ the Sanskrit word believed to encompass the creative
energy of the universe. Along with other yogic and meditative
techniques, Astara recommends a natural food diet that leans
toward vegetarianism.
Astara is headquartered in a complex in Upland, California,
where members congregate and regular Sunday services and a
cycle of conferences and retreats are held throughout the year.
Most members relate to Astara through a set of correspondence
lessons, the Book of Life. The Book of Life lessons function as a
guru to the student and replace any need for a personal teacher.
Apart from the lessons, both Chaneys have written a number
of books and shorter works. In 1988 there were approximately
18,000 students. Astara may be contacted at 800 W.
Arrow Hwy., Box 5003, Upland, California 91785.
Chaney, Earlyne. Beyond Tomorrow. Upland, Calif. Astara,
———. Remembering. Los Angeles Astara’s Library of Mystical
Classics, 1974.
Chaney, Earlyne, and William L. Messick. Kundalini and the
Third Eye. Upland, Calif. Astara’s Library of Mystical Classics,
Chaney, Robert. The Inner Way. Los Angeles De Vorss,
———. Mysticism The Journey Within. Upland, Calif. Astara’s
Library of Mystical Classics, 1979.

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