Astral World
According to theosophical teaching, the Astral World is the
first sphere after bodily death. It is said to be material of a refined
texture. There are many speculations concerning this
world of existence. Theosophy claims definite knowledge of its
conditions and its inhabitants and the numerous teachers influenced
by Theosophy offer variations on the basic theme. Many
descriptive accounts are to be found in spiritualistic after-death
communications. All this, however, is inaccessible to experimental
In Theosophy, the Kama World is the second lowest of seven
worlds, the world of emotions, desires, and passions. Into it
man passes at physical death, and there he functions for periods
that vary with the state of his development, the primitive
savage spending a relatively short time in the Astral World, the
civilized man spending relatively longer. The appropriate body
is the astral body, which although composed of matter as is the
physical body, is nevertheless of a texture vastly finer than the
latter. Although it is in its aspect of the after-death abode that
the Astral World is of most importance and most interest, it
may be said that even during physical life, some clairvoyants
and even ordinary people are said to be aware of it. This happens
during sleep, or by reason of the action of anesthetics or
drugs, or accidents; and the interpenetrating astral body then
leaves its denser physical counterpart, taking with it the sense
of pleasure and pain, and lives for a short time in its own world.
Here again the state of the primitive differs from that of his
more advanced fellows. The less advanced body does not travel
far from his immediate surroundings, while the more mature
one may perform useful, helpful work for the benefit of humanity.
Furthermore, note that disembodied people are not the
only inhabitants of the Astral World, for very many of its inhabitants
are said to be of an altogether nonhuman nature—lower
orders of the devas, or angels; and nature-spirits, or elementals,
both good and bad, such as fairies, which are just beyond
the powers of human vision; as well as demons, present to alcoholics
in delirium tremens. Following physical death, the Astral
World is said to contain both heaven and hell as these are popularly
The Astral World is comprised of seven divisions which correspond
to the seven divisions of matter the solid, liquid, gaseous,
etheric, super-etheric, subatomic, and atomic. These divisions
are believed to play a most important part in the
immediate destiny of humans If through ignorance, one has
permitted the rearrangement of the matter of the astral body
into sheaths, one is cognizant only of part of one’s surroundings
at a time, and it is not till after experience, much of which
may be extremely painful, that one is able to enjoy the bliss that
the higher divisions of the Astral World contain.
The lowest of these divisions, the seventh, is the environment
of gross and unrestrained passions. Since it and most of
the matter in the inhabitants’ astral bodies is of the same type,
it constitutes a veritable hell and is the only hell which exists.
This is Avichi, the place of desires that cannot be satisfied because
of the absence of the physical body, which was the means
of their satisfaction. The tortures of these desires are the analog
of the torments of hell-fire in the older Christian orthodoxy.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Astral World
Unlike that orthodoxy, however, Theosophy teaches that the
state of torment is not eternal but passes away in time, when the
desires—through long gnawing without fulfillment—have at
last died. Avichi is more correctly regarded as a purgatorial
The ordinary individual, however, does not experience this
seventh division of the Astral World, but according to character
finds itself in one or other of the three next higher divisions.
The sixth division is very little different from physical existence,
and the new inhabitant continues in the old surroundings
among old friends, who, of course, are unaware of the astral
presence. Indeed, the newly disembodied soul often does
not realize that it is dead, so far as the physical world is concerned.
The fifth and fourth divisions are in most respects quite similar
to this, but their inhabitants become less and less immersed
in the activities and interests that previously engrossed them,
and each sheath of their astral bodies decays in turn, as did the
gross outer sheath of the sensualist’s body.
The three higher divisions are still more removed from the
ordinary material world, and their inhabitants enjoy a state of
bliss of which we can have no conception worries and cares of
earth are altogether absent, the insistence of lower desires has
worn out in the lower divisions, and it is now possible to live
continually in an environment of the loftiest thoughts and aspirations.
The third division is said to correspond to the Summerland
of Spiritualism, where the inhabitants live in a world of their
own creation—the creation of their thoughts. Its cities and all
their contents, scenery of life, are all formed by the influence
of thought.
The second division is what is properly looked upon as
Heaven, and the inhabitants of different races, creeds, and beliefs
all find it each according to individual belief. Hence, instead
of it being the place taught of by any particular religion,
it is the region where every religion finds its own ideal. Christians,
Muslims, Hindus, and so on, find it to be just as they conceived
it would be. Here, and in the first and highest division,
the inhabitants pursue noble aims freed from whatever selfishness
was mingled with these aims on earth. The literary man,
without thoughts of fame; the artist, the scholar, the preacher,
all working without incentive of personal interest, and when
their work is pursued long enough, and they are fitted for the
change, they leave the Astral World and enter one vastly
higher—the Mental.
However, the rearrangement of the matter of the astral body
at physical death is said to be the result of ignorance, and those
who are sufficiently instructed do not permit this rearrangement
to take. They are not, therefore, confined to any one division
and do not have to progress from division to division, but
they are able to move through any part of the Astral World, laboring
always in their various lines of action to assist the great
evolutionary scheme. Many such theosophical teachings derive
from traditional Hindu mysticism.
Besant Annie. The Ancient Wisdom. 1897. Reprint, Wheaton,
Ill. Theosophical Press, 1928.
Leadbeater, Charles W. The Astral Plane. London Theosophical
Publishing House, 1915.
Mead, George R. S. The Doctrine of the Subtle Body in Western
Tradition. London John M. Watkins, 1919. Reprint, Wheaton,
Ill. Theosophical Publishing House, 1967.
Nizida. The Astral Light. London Theosophical Publishing
House, 1889. Reprint, Talent, Ore. Eastern School Press,

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