No. It isn’t a mistype.
I was mystified–and disinterested–by the term “Astral Travel” from around 8 years old when I first heard it until three years ago when my (then) girlfriend explained what it meant.
It means falling into a trance, for any reason, and going somewhere else. A daydream. A night-dream. A vision. LSD trips. Flashbacks. Narcolepsy.
Some people might disagree. I’m not referring to Out of Body Experiences (OBE) or any other psychic or psychological phenomenon. In some circles, this definition is too limited. I understand.
According to my fiancee, it is also a place where spirit energy goes. This makes sense to me. We, as a society, don’t understand the underground processes our mind goes though when we sleep: we don’t fully understand what goes on with our subconscious self, as Freud called the Id (a dark place that has no true reference to time: timeless and eternal), and perhaps we will never know.
The spirits might not even be Real (capitalized to denote spatial separation between the Real, a state of existence, and Reality, or a combination of several states). Spirits don’t have to be real. They usually aren’t, literally, Real. (Imaginary? No. Too simplified. Real vs Imagined is the Atheist’s dream. I’m no atheist. Boiling the world down to Us vs Them, Man vs Woman, Rich vs Poor only epitomizes the One Story strategy [see Ted Talks with Chimamanda Adichie]. Use it in hypothetical philosophical debate, and not in the real world.) They’re Astral. They’re energy buildup that your body interprets one way. Like a hologram. This is science. This isn’t, literally, where science is. But it will be.
Now. What does this have to do with writing? Very good question.
First, my books focus on the Astral quite a bit. It’s a “reality,” and I boil the strategy down to a very basic place. It shares borders with the Real and, consequently, a place my fiancee calls the Dreamscape, which is a place wholly of when the conscious parts of our minds inverts to unconscious.
Second, and more important, visiting the Astral plane isn’t mystic at all. I mean, it can be. For someone who cares little and focuses less on abstract thought, the Astral is just voodoo. Just like someone who doesn’t play golf cares two pents about strategy, dog-legging, and golf ball construction. It’s all Greek to whomever doesn’t put value in it.
Third, and most important, it’s where I get everything for writing. It’s where a lot of people’s creativity comes from, but they don’t look at it that way: trial and error is one way, mimicry is another, and the Astral is a third. No, I will not call it “Dreaming,” because it isn’t. It’s similar, like playing a violin is to playing a guitar, but it’s not the same.
Many of my friends, my two brothers, and writers I’ve read find inspiration here. They all label it differently, of course. My older younger brother (Let’s call him Brian, for discussion sake) dreams lucid dreams every time he dreams. He controls, separates, manipulates. Brian finds inspiration in his mapwork. My younger younger brother (let’s call him Lucas) went into explicit detail about how synapses, axioms, and relay paths work to explain to me how he’s coming to the same conclusion through separate research. Yes. You may dissect it as you will. He isn’t wrong. None of us is. As long as you find a place to put it, you aren’t wrong. That’s the beauty of a belief system: if you believe it, then it is.
Not always, but in this case…
So my fiancee said, yesterday, that my best writing comes out when I’m in a kind of trance. Three years ago I would have been skeptical, injecting all my own definitions for Trance and Inspiration and all that, but she’s right.
For me, writer’s block is a separation from this trance. When you’re “in the zone,” you’re somewhere else. I get angry at so few things in this world. One, extreme hunger within my caffeinated body. Two, when someone breaks my trance. Why? Because I have a tether to something, and it’s my lifeblood.
I know not everyone writes this way: some people are methodical, focused, dedicated to the trial-and-error, the mimicry, and the researched reality. I can’t. I’ll never be able to construct a believable story through studying history, manuscripts, biographies, newspapers alone. I’ll never be able to paint a picture by looking at another picture. Not well.
So I invite anyone to study the Astral from the lens of something not wholly separate from you, not something only the crystal-suckers from black hills Nevada can do. It’s connected to everyone. It connects everyone.
I’d love to hear from others who have similar thoughts. I’m learning as I go, and most of what I’ve learned comes from my fiancee.
I also consider this a quantum theory, but I’m not going to delve into that, since I have no background in physics.