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Levels of Being...

Okay, I've done a few posts about "Monsters" and/or Metaphysical beings, and of course the subject of Ghosts comes up more than enough all over the place. So I've been wanting to do a post that features the different levels of being and how each affect the world around us...

All forms of Magickal theory speak of various realms or levels of being, all of which interconnect and affect one another. And all are present at every moment in our lives, even if we don't recognize it. Now, I'm not talking about some alternate universe from a bad SciFi flick, but instead other aspects of the world we live in. Generally, our culture focuses purely on the physical realm and tends to completely ignore the other more subtle realities which surround us, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Each of these levels are present at every moment of every day of everyone's life. These levels are a part of the totality of each individual human being and it's this habit of material-mindedness which keeps us from perceiving the many-leveled complexity of ourselves and our own reality.

There are many different ways which I have heard of for classifying these different realms/levels. And just to make a note, I don't see any reason why these levels need to necessarily be limited to one "realm" in each category, but to simplicity sake, I'm not getting in to all that... It's also worth noting that while I am going to speak of "higher" and "lower" levels/realms, it's purely metaphor in an effort to help with understanding. Think of the "higher" and "lower" simply as closer to and further from "purity" but as I noted earlier, these are constantly interacting with and present within each other...

There are five main "categories" of levels, and I'm stating it that way purely to allow for beliefs which may include multiple realms on within some of these levels...

The Physical

The densest and "lowest" of the levels, identical to our physical matter as we perceive it with our five every day senses. For us humans, this level corresponds to the body itself, what we see as normal every day...

The Ethereal
This level is second rung on the "ladder"and is the level of life force. Closely linked with the breath and living matter, it's also the framework of subtle energies on which all physical matter is arranged. For human beings this level corresponds to the aura, also called the etheric body, which is the subtle body of vital energy.

The Astral
This level, which is the third "rung," is the level or concrete consciousness. This is the realm of dreams, imagination and mental activity.  In human beings this level corresponds to the astral body, the subtle body of imagination and the personality that is the vehicle for most out-of-body experiences.

The Mental
Forth on the ladder from the bottom, we have the level of abstract consciousness. This is the realm of timeless and spaceless meaning, the laws of mathematics, and the fundamental patterns of the cosmos... In human terms, we're talking about the mental body, the essential and immortal pattern of the self.

The Spiritual
The "highest" level, this is the level of primal unity from which all other levels emanate and to which they all return. This is, for humans, the level with corresponds to the spiritual body, the transcendent core of the self.

Now, the physical level is of course relatively familiar to us today. We understand how and why it works the way it works and few have arguments with the findings of modern day science about this subject. Although there is a general understanding that, from a magickal perspective, the scientific view tends to be rather incomplete. In addition the Spiritual level tends to be at least a concept that the majority of us understand simply because it's the primary focus of today's major religions. However, these intermediate levels -- Ethereal, Astral & Mental -- that remain largely unexplored and misunderstood. These also happen to be the levels which we need to have at least a basic understanding of when we are talking about other "beings," astral travel, divination, and any number of other subjects...  So, lets explore them a little bit...

For subjects like "beings" and ghosts, the etheric level is in many ways the most important. It has a number of characteristics that need to be kept in mind. First of all, this level is very close to ordinary matter. In exists in space and time, just like matter, and can affect the physical level directly. It's these "etheric forces" (known as chi or ki) which are concentrated and controlled in various forms of Asian martial arts in order to accomplish their more spectacular feats... 

The energies of the etheric level serve as a vehicle for different kinds of consciousness and can be shaped and reshaped by our conscious imagination & will. They can also be concentrated or defused by various methods. When concentrated, they take on a certain degree of apparent solidity and can be felt directly by the nerve endings in humans. They can also exert pressure on physical objects and appear to have physical weight and inertia. In this state they are even sometimes mistaken for solid or semi-solid matter. When defused, on the other hand, etheric energy becomes intangible and almost impossible to detect, unless the necessary disciplines of awareness have been mastered.

The astral level, which is the level of concrete consciousness, is nearly as important as the etheric when trying to understand magick, magickal creatures and even our own existence.  This level is the level of dreams, and because of that it's a level that even though most of us don't understand, it's a level which we each experience on just about a nightly basis.

Whats more it's central to magickal understandings that the Astral shapes the Etheric, just as the Etheric shapes the Physical. A pattern formulated with enough intensity on the astral level will reshape the subtle substance on the etheric level, which then, in turn will tend to reshape the material substance of the physical level. THIS is the basic formula for magick!

In turn, any event which takes place on the physical level echoes patterns already established on the etheric and astral levels, and can be perceived in advance of the physical event by those more in tune with the higher levels. THIS is the basic formula for divination!

Often we divide the astral level into "lower" and "upper" sub-levels for practical purposes. (Again, as before these "upper" & "lower" are metaphoric and not physical) The "lower" aspects to the astral level has more in common with the etheric and physical levels, while the "upper" has more in common with the mental and spiritual levels.

You may think the mental level is one which we are all rather familiar with, however this is only half true. This is the level where natural laws exist as concrete realities. Spaceless and timeless, it provides the fundamental patterns on which all manifestations on the lower levels is based. The patterns are combined and interwoven by the processes of the astral level, which is neither quite in time and space nor quite outside of them (again, think dreams) and then reflected in various complex forms into the etheric level, which is known entirely in space and time as we know them...

While this information may all have just gotten completely lost inside your growing headache, understanding these levels of being is imperative for understanding basic Metaphysical studies, including Magickal and Paranormal studies as well as our simple every day life on deeper levels. What I have covered here is of course only the most basic information, to cover each level in detail would take books and books, and is simply more than I could cover here. What is important is to understand how these levels exist in our own world and how they interact with one another rather than what level contains what beings and how they interact with us at this point... Although to completely understand studies of Magickal beings, Paranormal beings and Magick in general further study is always a good thing. If however, you are happy to take some things on faith, you can save yourself a lifetime of study.

**For more in depth information on these levels, what they contain and how they interact refer to the book Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings

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