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The Affective/Astral Reality

The Affective or Astral is the Intermediate reality between the Mental/Ideational and the Physical realities. In the teachings of Hayim Vital this is the universe of Asiyah. Theon calls it the Nervo State. In the detailed accounts by Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) this is called The Vital World; the term "vital" she seems to have borrowed from Theon, and it was in turn adapted by Sri Aurobindo and became an important element in the Yoga. In Neo-Theosophy and popular occultism this region is called the "Astral Plane", although the astral as popularily defined only constitutes a small subset of the Affective raelity. In some New Age teachings the term "etheric plane" is sometimes used, but in a different context to Neo-Theosophy, for higher affective or spiritual regions.

Subjectively and individually these constitute the totality of emotions and passions and desires, psychologically referred to as affects. Objectively and cosmically, these are the affective (higher astral) worlds, a vast region which includes beings of great power, and which can be contacted through occult and yogic practices.

This is a very important region that determines the nature of mundane consciousness.  This is the region to which occultism and magick strongly pertain.  Occultism in fact is nothing but a science and technology of the Subtle Physical and Affective realities, just as reductionistic science is of the lowest plane of the Dense Physical reality.

The Affective Worlds

The Affective Universe is totally beyond the mundane reality.  This is a hypostasis of pure psychic potentiality, and of a practically infinite number of psychic beings and forces. The Cosmic Astral is very much a transpersonal region - a region of cosmic forces and beings; equivalent in part to the Collective Unconscious of Jung with its numinous archetypes. The difference being that whereas the Collective Unconscious is still a human racial consciousness, the Cosmic Astral completely transcends physical beings and realities. It is however still adjacent to the Cosmic Physical, and hence a region that has tremendous influence on the ordinary psycho-physical realities.

The Affective Worlds represent the macrocosm equivalent of the individual or microcosmic affective being. "Vertically" (in terms of planes of consciousness and emanation from the Absolute it is the intermediate principle between the noetic worlds and physical reality. "Horizontally" it is a vast region, much of it little known and little explored, even by occultists and esotericists. Yet this is a very important hypostasis, and the origin of many forces and phenomena in the physical that don't fit within the conventional paradigm.

The Cosmic Affective is the higher octave or source of the regions to which occultism and magick pertains.  The Golden Dawn Qabalistic "Tree of Life" and system of magical correspondences and spiritual hierarchies seems to pertain to accessing these realms.  The Kabbalistic term Universe of Asiyah or "Making", which generally applies to both the Astral and Physical hypostases together. In the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the Cosmic Affective is referred to as the Vital Plane (although "Vital" is sometimes used by them also to refer to the lesser (Physical) Astral); whilst Blavatsky refers to it as the 2nd or Prakritic plane. This region also includes in part the Intermediate Zone is that it represents neither pure truth nor pure falsehood, but an inextricable and dangerously misleading combination of the two. 

This is the Intermediate region in Huston Smith's perennial cosmology. In the teachings of Hayim Vital this is the universe of Asiyah. Theon calls it the Nervo State. In the detailed accounts by Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) this is called The Vital World; the term "vital" she seems to have borrowed from Theon, and it was in turn adapted by Sri Aurobindo and became an important element in the Yoga

Thus the Affective Reality, the Vital World, the Universe of Asiyah, the Intermediate Zone, call it what you will, is a very important region that determines the nature of mundane consciousness.  This is the region to which occultism and magick strongly pertain.  Occultism in fact is nothing but a science and technology of the Subtle Physical and Affective realities, just as reductionistic science is of the lowest plane of the Dense Physical reality.

The incredible power of some gurus, such as Da Free John and Sai Baba, also appear to pertain at least in part to the affective worlds.

The beings of the affective universe include some that are positive and helpful, others negative, others indiffirfent, to the human condition and the plight of sentient beings. Unlike the other spiritual realms, where the forces and principles are positive, constructive, creative, and of the Light, those of the Affective Universe may be dangerous to get involved with. Or equally they may be helpful. Also, many gods of the higher spoiritiual realms ctraete emanations in the Affective. The Mother for example speaks often of little Kali and other beings of "the vital" (affective) world, which are emanations of the Overmental (Divine) Kali

Subplanes

"Vertically" (in terms of levels of consciousness) the Cosmic Affective consists of a number of different planes, which, as in the case of the lesser Astral - constitute a gradation of zones from dark to light, dense to subtle, material to spiritual.  Only the lowest of these planes contain negative forces - the higher are regions of pure Liht and harmonious evolution. As far as phenomena on a single plane go, there tends to be a merging of entities, unlike Asiyah in which everything is separate.  Most striking of all is the fact that in these worlds thoughts are things; the very act of thinking or feeling generates independent formations called "thought-forms". This is a phenomenon that also occurs in the lesser Astral, but here it is very much more significant.

The Cosmic Affective can also be called the Numinocosm. There is a transition of states between this reality and the mundane physical, and vice versa.

The following table presents a fine-scale comparison of the Affective or Greater Astral Reality. It is suggested that popular concepts like "the Astral Plane" (and earlier analyses like Blavatsky's "kama-rupa") only pertain to the Kosmic Physical octave of the Kosmic Affective, a subzone closest to the Material Physical (actually, most of the so-called Astral Plane of popular occultism and new age thought is actually Subtle Physical). The higher regions represent worlds of light and darkness, and eventually higher heavens, as described in mythologies and religions. These regions can also be explored, and communication attained with the beings that inhabit them, by the techniques of Hermetic Kabbalah (see the Golden Dawn system as described by Amazon com Regardie et al and Amazon com Cicero & Cicero, as well as the writings of Franz Bardon). Other techniques that enable one to contact or pass through this reality are those of Sant Mat, and Max Theon.


Provisional Table of Affective Octaves
Major Reality Plane or Octave SubPlane or Resonance Theon Blavatsky (Theosophy) Hermetic Kabbalah Ann Ree Colton
(Colton & Murro 1984 Galaxy Gate II: The Angel Kingdom p.91]
A
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e

R
e
a
l
i
t
y
Higher Worlds of Light octaves and resonances Soul
--
Higher/Intellectual Triad Realm of Light
Middle Worlds of Light octaves and resonances Mental°Nervo Psychic°Nervo
--
Middle/Moral Triad Second Heaven
Lower Worlds of Light octaves and resonances Nervo°Nervo
--
Lower Triad (in part) First Heaven
Worlds of Lower Light and Darkness octaves and resonances Physical°Nervo
--
Qlippot Abyss
Physical Astral octaves and resonances Kama/Astral Lower Triad / Malkuth
Lower Astral

The following table, which was originally to be part of an essay but will now be incorporated in a book, looks at the affective/astral in relation to the holarchical gradation from egoic self-absorption to universal infinite. Here the subplanes are represneted by the horizontal axis


Ontological state /

Holarchy

Transcendent

Causal

Subtle / Astral

Lower Astral / Gross / Dense

Universal-Infinite

pure universal love

Universal astral planes and archetypes of light and universal light, love, and bliss

astral planes and zones of infinite extent (light and dark)

Lower astral planes (involved with matter)

Cosmic

Affective deities / godheads; God as the beloved

Causal astral cosmic archetypes and hierarchies of light, love, and bliss

Large scale astral attractors, gods, etc (light and dark deities of exoteric religions; understood as archetypes in hermetic kabbalah)

Large scale lower astral attractors (according to Theon the gross astral is a mostly negative region)

Collective

Angelic deities, beings of pure love

Causal astral archetypes and hierarchies, empathy, transcendent love

Astral planes and worlds; Daimons, attractors, etc; (hermetic kabbalah, occultism, etc)

Lower astral and lower desire environment, illusory astral plane (projections) many lower formations and so on,

Individual

(co-active / interactive sphere of relative self)

Affective purusha, the Divine warrior; connects also with the individual transcendent affective in the physical

Causal astral archetypes, empathy, transcendent love, Microcosm, Archetypal self-nature

Astral body, out of body experience, astral experiences (often subjective)

Emotional/affective consciousness; the Affective in the subtle physical is the Emotional body

Egoic

(absorption in self-nature)

n/a – see above instead

n/a – see above instead

Subjective world of imagination reflected back so it appears to be objective astral reality

Subjectivity, absorption in lower self, desires, fears and anxieties, delusions, kleshas in general

Subdivisions of the Affective and Astral

Polarisation of Light and Dark

This is very much a polarised region of Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Paradise and Purgatory.  Many writers refer to the bipolar nature of this region immediately beyond the physical reality.

The distinction between the spiritual forms of the transcendent regions and those of the Astral are emphasised by the great master of Ishraq Suhrawardi, who writes that "these autonomous Images and Forms are not the Platonic Ideas, for the Ideas of Plato are of pure, immutable light," that is, they pertain to what I have termed the Angelic Ontocosm, "whereas among the Forms in question there are some which are dark - those which torment the reprobate; these are hideous, repulsive...whereas others are luminous and their sweetness is tasted by the blessed and these rare, beautiful, resplendent Forms." [Henry Corbin, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, p.129].

According to Theon this is a region of hostile or anti-divine spiritual forces.  Sri Aurobindo describes the hostile forces as pertaining to the Vital (Astral) in general, but in Theon's diagram they are specifically limited to the Physical Astral.

Sri Aurobindo does not shirk away from describing this subject, and he refers to four orders of anti-divine beings, which pertain to each of four subplanes.  Naturally there are other forces here as well; it is not simply a region of hostile forces, just as it isn't of positive only.  We can say then that the Physical Astral is very much a polarised region - a region of light and dark - encompassing both anti-divine and wholesome powers, such as the devic powers behind Nature, various spiritual beings that communicate through New Age channelled mediumism (including references to UFOs, galactic councils, etc), and also the sorts of beings visualised in Tibetan Buddhism, which may appear "wrathful" but actually confer liberation.

This bipolar quality means that things here can get a bit tricky, and many spiritual teachers warn one to stay clear.  As the Lurianic Kabbalist Hayyim Vital (1542-1620) explains:

"Since (Asiyah) is the lowest of the (supra-physical) universes, its angels have only a little good, and are mostly evil. Besides this, this is a level where good and evil are  closely intertwined (and it is very difficult to separate them).  This does not bring any enlightenment, since it is impossible to perceive good alone, and one's perception is therefore a combination of good and evil, truth and falsehood..."  [Kaplan, Meditation and Kabbalah, pp.39-40]

The essential nature of this region is that it represents neither pure truth nor pure falsehood, but an inextricable and dangerously misleading combination of the two.  As Sri Aurobindo puts it:

"...(T)his intermediate zone is a region of half-truths - and that by itself would not matter, for there is no complete truth below the supermind; but the half-truth here is often so partial or else ambiguous in its application that it leaves a wild field for confusion, delusion and error..."

On the other hand, the Western Occult tradition deals particularly with this region, and has developed certain techniques to help one navigate through its reefs.  For example, if one is travelling through the astral planes and one encounters a being, one gives certain signs and tests, and if it responds correctly, one knows one is in the right place.


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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 19 June 2005, last modified 19 September 2006
includes material originally uploaded 11 October 2000