by Susan Blackmore
[From Blackmore, S. 1982/1992. Beyond the Body: An investigation into out-of-body experiences. 1992 (with new postscript), Chicago, Academy Chicago, ISBN 0 89733 344 6. First published in 1982, London, Heinemann, ISBN 434 07470 5; and paperback 1983 London, Paladin, ISBN 0 586 08428 2. Used with permission.]
Yram is the pen name of a French occultist who, like Fox and Muldoon, learned to project at will. Unlike the others he '... became sated with ordinary phenomena. To pass through stone walls, to visit friends, to roam freely in space simply for the sake of enjoying this extraordinary state, are games of which one soon wearies.' Many of his descriptions are of experiences on 'higher planes' in which he met with other beings or powerful forces. These are couched in terms of his kind of physics: of other levels involving radio-active essences, ultra-sensitive atoms and differing rates of vibration.
Yram suggests that three things are necessary for astral projection: good health (the opposite of that suggested by Muldoon); phychological preparation, involving a peaceful life and the ability to relax; and psychical preparation. He distinguishes three kinds of projection. First there is projection by means of the sensory faculties. For this exercise the projector has to imagine passing through some kind of window, door, or space. Yram describes some unpleasant experiences using this method, a slap in the face, spiralling and being knocked over; but once you get out of the tight space, he claims, you are free and projected. This 'tight space' may be similar to the tunnels which are sometimes reported in spontaneous OBEs.
In the second type, instantaneous projection, the separation is sudden and uncontrolled. Yram describes an occasion on which he felt as though a trap door had suddenly opened beneath him and he was falling. 'My first impulse was automatically to make the same movements as would occur if the had happened to my physical body, I stretched out my arms and legs in the hope of gripping something, and started to cry out.' This resulted in his becoming conscious, and he found himself projected.
The third type of projection, by whirlwind, Yram describes as the 'most agreeable'. This is interesting because Muldoon and Carrington suggest that it is the violent exteriorizations, for example with anaesthetics, which cause a spiral ascension; but perhaps the spiral and the whirlwind are not the same experience. In any case, Yram describes how he was carried from his body in a whirlwind, watched over by one of the many dogs which he saw during his experiences. These, he claimed, were images sent by the Friends who help with psychic experiments, and intended to inspire confidence!
Once projected there are many different levels one can inhabit. In the lowest, one is unable to pass through walls or other objects; to rise to a higher plane, one must go through some procedure such as that of imagining the door or passage again. On the higher levels, objects offer no resistance, and the lighting is brighter too. Even in the dark a soft phosphorescence illuminates the world and it is easy to find one's way about. On the different planes, one also inhabits different bodies. The higher, or less material, doubles are, according to Yram, far more 'radio-active' than the previous ones, and the atoms of which they consist are finer, less dense, and more sensitive (though to what I do not know).
At all levels of projection the physical body and the more subtle double are joined by the familiar cord. Its ability to stretch is said to be limitless and Yram says he has seen thousands of very fine elastic threads where it joins the double. Like Muldoon he found that the closer he came to the physical, the greater was the pull of the cord. The same principle, he states, applies to the distance in terms of levels of vibration; the higher the level of projection, the less pull is felt back to the body.
In his own room, or when walking about the streets, Yram moved as he would do in his physical body, but when projected into space he moved by thought alone. At first he did breast stroke, like swimming, then learned to move on his back pushing with his feet, and finally he floated horizontally, as some do in spontaneous OBEs. The position, according to Yram, is important. When threatened one should adopt a 'defence position', and one should never travel upside down.
In a final way of travelling Yram discovered that he could get to a desired place instantaneously, and this produced a consciousness of extreme clarity. He returned from his first trip of this type retaining the 'impression of the radio-active waves of this superior state for a whole day', though one hopes that this was not radio-activity in the normal sense of the word.
This excursion had taken him to visit a friend who lived in an unknown and distant house. On returning he wrote an account of all he had seen there and, he says, received 'full confirmation' two months later. On other occasions he also claimed he was able to bring back information about distant places from his travels. After he had met a young woman three or four time in the flesh they became separated by several hundred miles, so he visited her by self-projection. It was in this state that the two became engaged, and Yram says that his fiancée was able to confirm the correctness of all the details he related to her. On another occasion he apparently obtained some correct details about a friend's room; but the friend retained no memory of the visit.
In many experiments Yram tried, as had Fox and Muldoon, to affect material objects while 'out of his body'. He set up light objects to be moved, flour into which to dip his astral fingers, and other tests. One night he placed a piece of paper on a chest-of-drawers. When out of his body he approached it but found to his consternation that there now seemed to be two pieces of paper. Undaunted he picked them both up and carried them to his bed, but when he had returned and written down everything that had happened, he found that the paper had not moved. Later he tried agains, blowing on the paper, but still it remained firmly unmoved.
Most of Yram's experiments were concerned with things far removed from that mundane task of moving a piece of paper. He discusses at great length his discoveries of moral law, cause and effect, and other general principles. Some of these are very similar to those found in many branches of occultism. For example, he was once sitting talking with friends in some sort of astral drawing-room which they had all created for their use. Without being aware of it he let slip an 'unfortunate phrase'. Immediately he was tumbling from a height back to his physical body. In this way he learned that thoughts of a similar nature attract each other, and contrary thoughts repel. So to reach the highest planes one must have thoughts which are suitable to those planes. This idea is a form of that important principle in magic and occultism, 'Like attracts like'. Yram's means of dealing with difficult situations or evil powers are also similar to many found in occult training. He describes various types of thought form and lower entities which one might meet, and how he dealt with them. Above all, he claims, moral purity is the safeguard and thought is the tool by which we can travel in the higher worlds.
Much of Yram's physics must be taken with a large pinch of salt. His descriptions of electricity and relativity make it clear that he is not using terms such as 'radioactivity', 'molecules', or 'vibration' in ways which would be understood by any physicist; and I cannot help wondering about the source of the drawing-rooms, and the helpful dogs. However, if his theories are looked on as a description of the nature of the mental world as he saw it they contain much of interest. Many of his findings are similar to those of occultists and of other astral projectors. His three ways of travelling are similar to Muldoon's although his methods of projection are different. His description of the cord is similar to many previous descriptions, and his insistence that it is hard to remember the experiences unless you record them straight away is also familiar. Gradually we may be able to piece together a picture of what is stable, and what ephemeral in these different explorations of self-projection.
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