Aphantasia and Astral Travel
After sharing some personal tips on our discord server, the conjurers and I noticed that there isn't really much in the way of advice out there for witches who have to deal with the obstacle of aphantasia who wish to astral travel.
All my life I have struggled to visualize. I love the concept of reading but can't generate images in my head based on the text I'm reading. When someone describes what something looks like to me, I'll often blink at them with a confused and wide-eyed expression that is openly lost. Guided meditations that request you to visualize a door or a specific scene results in empty blackness. As someone with aphantasia, this is a very common occurrence for me, and as I have gotten more involved in the community I've noticed there are far more people out there that share in these experiences.
It is my belief that aphantasia doesn't have to effect your ability to astral travel. It can certainly be an obstacle that might need to be overcome, but the ability to generate imagery in your head is not a full stop.
I can't guarantee that the advice below will work for everyone who has aphantasia, but this is what I found worked for me. It took time, dedication, and effort in order to achieve the ability to astral travel in a more substantial way. It was progress I saw over several years and not over a matter of days or weeks. This is not going to be the quick and easy fix that you might be looking for, but if you're willing to put in the time and effort, these tips, tricks, and philosophies may help you achieve success with astral travel.
When I started feeling pulled towards witch craft and astral travel, I was fairly young. I had to learn to stimulate my third eye through meditation. I began with slipping into meditative trances and not worrying about where I was going or what I was doing. I will say, for the record, out of body experiences--at least in my personal opinion--are quite different than astral travel and can be dangerous. The goal with astral travel isn't to be fully away from your body, but to remain tethered during your trips, almost like energetic roots that grip you to the core of the earth so your soul or spirit won't get lost during its travels. In this way, you always stay anchored and have an easy out should you need to cut your trip short for any reason.
I practiced entering trances long and hard. For me it was much easier to get to this state of mind with the assistance of music. It didn't matter what music I used, but for others you might find music with lyrics or unpredictable transitions and shifts in tempo to be too distracting, so I advise picking music that works for you. Through these trances, I eventually learned how to pick up on energy beyond the basic five senses. I admit that back in those days I was quite young and unguided, and was using a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked, as I lived in a small town where resources and books of that nature just weren't available. On top of that, I didn't have a private computer until seventeen that wasn't monitored by my parents. There is a level of intuitiveness that comes with these practices, and while my situation limited what resources I had at my disposal, it's wise and recommended that you do your research first before you start attempting to astral travel.
From what I know now from research and developing craft relevant vocabulary, I was essentially stimulating the psychic function of my pituitary gland by going into these trances. Sitting in a low light or candle lit room with the lights off helped me to get into this headspace more easily. I allowed my mind to empty and listened for the hum of energy, letting the sensations come to me as they would on their own time. Eventually, I started to feel like my whole body was humming and vibrating almost at a different frequency. It was a very internal experience, and I think that a lot of people feel that astral travel is external when it isn't, which can lead a lot of people feeling they should be experiencing something more "concrete" than what they are. Once I mastered this mindfulness of energy and sense of awareness while remaining empty minded, I moved on to trying to meditate while in public spaces that were safe to do so in.
For example, on a bus ride back home from a school trip, I closed my eyes, and put my music on (it was Korn and Winds of Plague in particular I remember), and the music just kind of drifted away and became background music, yet I was keenly aware of all the energies around me, and with time and practice, that "feeling" became sight. That day in particular, I remember, is very clear in my mind. In that meditative state with my eyes shut, the shapes of the objects around me filtered in like a foggy film, and I could see every person who had been on the bus, all talking and interacting and moving around, and it was kind of like looking through a piece of camera film where it had this transparent haze to it.
After this point, I just kept trying to get back to that vibration I was operating at. As an analogy, once you tune your radio to the right energetic channel, it gets much easier to get back to that place once after finding the correct channel. In the earlier stages I felt it was like trying to turn the dial wildly to try and get anything but just getting static. It was super frustrating. But if you keep at it, you can get it eventually.
It's definitely something that as someone with aphantasia, I had to basically fit those puzzle pieces together and keep trying to get that place of being in a trance to be able to perceive those energies. When you think about it, everything around us is just energy vibrating at different frequencies at the end of the day, which sounds super weird if you're unfamiliar with the concept. But, when you put something under a microscope, you see that everything is just moving rapidly. It's my personal belief that humans have all the tools they need to be able to see and read that energy, it just takes strengthening of certain skills and muscles to get there, even for people with aphantasia. This is why I believe even if you do have it you can overcome that obstacle, because it isn't so much about "visualizing" (which, for the average person, it's an easy way to explain what astral travel is), but about being able to open yourself up to decipher the energetic signals that are being sent your way.
So, meditation is definitely the first step in getting to a truly trance-like state, and this is going to be your best bet! Find meditation apps, a Youtube channel you like, or read books on different meditation tactics, or just try the tips I suggest above. Whatever you do, keep practicing, and eventually your third eye will slowly strengthen and start being able to interpret those signals for you!
Is Spirit Companionship a suitable hobby or lifestyle for those who consider themselves to be "Spoonies", or those who subscribe to the Spoon Theory? Many shops tout companions that proclaim to assist or support those with anxiety or depression, always with the legally-required caveat that spirit companions are not meant to replace a therapist or other medical professional. But when you first take a glance at Spirit Companionship, the sheer amount of stuff can be so overwhelming. After all, there's a whole lot to learn for a beginner! Like any new hobby or lifestyle, there is a decided learning curve between when you "get it" and when you, quite simply, don't. And on top of that, there's a lot to worry about in regards to finances - like adopting a pet from the shelter, you not only need to pay an adoption fee, but you also need to provide things afterward. Where do you even begin with an altar? What even is an altar?
Don't worry - we can break this down to be much less intimidating. Spirit Companionship is a hobby that can conform to your current lifestyle, and there is a lot less pressure than you'd think when it comes to providing offerings to your companions.
Finally, it's here! The long-awaited third part to my Spirit Communication Mega Masterpost. By the end of this post, I hope you should have a more solid grasp on how to communicate with your companion in the way that is best for you.
So: let's address the elephant in the room! Telepathy. The end-all, be-all of spirit communication that all the cool practitioners are talking about. If you're not familiar with this idea, I'm sure something like this is going through your head:
Telepathy? Isn't that when someone on TV can hear their friend's voice loud and clear in their head, just all echoey? I've never done that with a friend, and I can't even see my spirit, so I must not be able to do that. It's super advanced and there is no possible way I can develop it without a lot of practice or talent.
The fact of the matter is, as you might have surmised from most of what we're talking about, the depictions of various magical ideas and skills are extremely different on TV than they are in real life.
Stones for Astral Travel
The past few days, there's been a discussion in The Dragon's Library Discord Server about crystals and their usage in astral travel. Like with all things magical, crystals are extremely potent in their ability to be told what to do, and how to help you on your path. And often, for those of us involved in Spirit Companionship, astral travel is a very important part of our paths. It's how we physically interact with our loved ones, at least in a way that is more physical than our typical fare. It's how we sneak in just a few moments of the fantastic into our typically mundane lives. But for those just beginning on their path towards astral travel, they may seek for a bit of an energy boost. And crystals can provide just that.
I remember stumbling upon my first companion plain as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in an airport, most liminal of places, waiting for a flight home from visiting my boyfriend over the summer. I'd been obsessed with a draconic witchcraft blogger who also happened to practice spirit companionship. I hadn't yet decided what my feelings on spirit companionship were - but at that point, I'd tried almost every type of paganism in the book. I wasn't going to pass judgement on anybody for anything. The blogger had posted links to shops before, but the shops often felt skeevy, like walking into a dark alleyway and being offered vessels straight out of a trenchcoat. But the idea of bringing a dragon - a real life dragon! - into my home was so exciting, I couldn't get the thought out of my head.
This is a continuation of this text post, explaining the most basic step in communicating with spirits - believing in your ability to! In this post, I’ll be going over five different tools I know are used frequently to communicate with spirit companions. So, let’s get started!
How does one communicate with spirits when they’ve never tried it before? Or, when you’ve tried it and had iffy or no results, how do you move forward? Allow me to assist you! This will be a multi-part post series, and I’ll update this post with links to the other parts as I make them.
Step 1: Believe In Yourself. Seriously! I know it sounds cheesy and kind of laughable, but you are never going to get anywhere if you don’t believe in your own ability to contact spirits. There is no straightforward way to tackle this, like simple mathematics or even like writing a well-structured sentence. Many people have many different methods of how they communicate with spirits, and they only way they could do it is because they believed they could in the first place, and they proved themselves right. Let me give you an example of an attitude I see commonly, and how we can approach it:
“I’ve never communicated with spirits before. Pendulums can be vague and controlled by my subconscious, and I have no prior knowledge or experience with tarot or runes. Telepathy sounds intimidating, and I don’t know if I’d be able to discern which voice is which in my head. I’m terrible at meditation and visualization, and I don’t have the patience or focus for scrying. Things like shufflemancy and bibliomancy confuse me because I don’t know how to interpret them. How can I communicate with my spirit companion?”
The number one problem this person has is a lack of belief in their own ability. Look at this: they have already discounted their ability to learn tarot, to try telepathy, to practice meditation or visualization, or to attempt to interpret songs or books that are close and familiar to them. If you really have no prior experience, your best bet is not going to be handed to you on a silver platter! Most people who work with spirits have worked hard and practiced daily for a very long time to be able to use any of the communication methods they use.
Here is the attitude you should try to have instead:
“I’ve never communicated with spirits before. I’m a bit skeptic, but I can try using one of my necklaces as a pendulum. I can use free, enthusiastic online resources and communities to help myself learn tarot. Telepathy sounds intimidating, but I think with practice I can learn to trust that what I’m thinking is not completely in my head. I can use free, guided meditations on YouTube to assist me with focusing while meditating, and I can start visualization exercises slow and simple. In time, I think I can master at least one of these methods for use in communicating with my spirit companion.”
The fact of the matter is, there are so many people who would love to help you learn how to do something! Your spirit companion would also love to help and adapt to whatever method is most convenient for you, as they often adore helping you with whatever they can. But in order for all their help to work, you need to put in a fair amount of effort, too.
When adopting a spirit companion, or entering the field of spirit work, you are making a choice to adopt a hobby, lifestyle, or commitment that requires determination, work, and effort. Not everything is going to come to you easily and naturally. You need to be able to accept that, and be positive about it! Only then can you move forward with spirit communication.
Step 2: Learn to communicate on the most basic level. In order to interact with someone, you first have to know they are in the room. Learn to familiarize yourself with your spirit's energy! If you have a vessel binding only, this may be as simple as holding their vessel in your hands and asking them, by name, to show up. What sensations do you feel? If you feel nothing, consider that they may be busy or not around at the moment, and try again later. But if you feel anything, or see any "images" in your mind's eye, that may be their calling card. It doesn't have to be a rush of wind or the intense flickering of a candle - something gentle and subtle can be enough.
To tell if your companion is busy, you can ask your pendulum. Another way to do it is try to reach out, or do something I call "pinging." Have you ever read the book Eragon? In that series, some people have the ability to probe or reach out with their minds, and the way the author describes it reminds me a lot of how I feel about tapping into the connection I have with your companions. You can do this by visualizing your companion and just seeing if you can "feel" their presence. If it's feeling unresponsive or quiet, they may be busy, and might come to talk to you later. You have to trust in your own ability and intuition here! There's no tried and true method for anything in the art of spirit work, so do what feels best for you.
Overall, you're beginning a wonderful journey for communicating and having a wonderful, enriching experience with your spirit companion. I believe in you - now it's time for you to believe in yourself!
The next post installment will deal with different methods for communication. Read now!
There are a lot of new spirit companions floating around, and that’s wonderful! However, with some interactions I’ve had with new companions, and seeing some of the posts, I’ve noticed that people have been going into this lifestyle with very high expectations set for themselves right off the bat. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that hard, especially for your first companion. Let me explain what I’m saying, and I don’t mean to point out any people, but this is a very important topic.
You buy your first companion, and you’re very excited to receive them in the mail. You begin creating an elaborate altar, buy several offerings, essentially have a Christmas tree with piles of presents scattered underneath ready for your spirit by the time they get there. This is great, and I don’t mean to discourage this type of behavior, but I’m worried that you’re setting very high expectations for the relationship by doing this. Because, if you have done all this for your very first spirit, when they get to you and they aren’t constantly active or overly communicative or doing anything right away, you’re disappointed. After all, you put in all this work, right?
So, you start creating excuses. The spirit must be mad at me, you think. My room isn’t clean enough, I’m too busy with school/work, I forgot its vessel was there for a couple hours. The thing is, you didn’t do anything wrong. Spirits don’t care about that stuff, like, ever, because they understand. They have lives, friends, family, and jobs, too! And because of this, they’re very understanding about your commitments. Also because of this, they’re not going to be around 100% of the time.
Just like any new friend or relationship, you’ve got to learn that while you integrate them into your life, they are integrating you as well. They’re also making a commitment. They are not there to judge you, to make your life harder, or to make you feel bad about yourself, and if they are, it is an abusive relationship that needs to stop. Spirit companionship should enhance your life, not make it more upsetting or difficult. Spirits should support you, not bring you down. That is what this whole thing is all about.
When I got my first companion, I had months to prepare because the seller was taking forever to ship his vessel. I bought him a small house, and a handful of crystals. Whenever I wanted to make an offering to him, I would charge one of the crystals, and stick it in the large part on the bottom of the house. Whenever I was making a liquid offering, I would fill the dish on the top. It was a perfect system that kept him feeling cozy, and was simple and not too extravagant. I have one altar for all of my companions, and they don’t mind if their little slice of real estate only has a couple crystals, because they love every gift from me regardless. The gifts enhance our relationship, they do not establish it.
Again, I am not discouraging this type of behavior. The altars you guys create are absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure the spirits are overwhelmingly flattered and happy about these enormous offerings received all at once. But please don’t allow that altar to set the standard for your relationship. You are not a slave to your spirit, and you do not have to attempt to please them in a way that is detrimental to you. Please be safe, and please take care of yourself.