The astral body has no biological or physical function, and because astral matter is totally different from the solid matter, the astral body is easily deformable. In astral travels we are able to observe this phenomenon now and then.
The astral body is formed spontaneously by the subconscious in order to be used consciously during the astral OBE as a "vehicle" (which is the theosophic term for "subtle body" and a common term for carrier of consciousness). Its outer appearance arises from our habit to identify ourselves with a bodily appearance. The single parts of the astral body don’t have any function – it would be possible to move flying or floating and in this way, legs would be useless. Indeed there even exist reports about sphere-like astral carriers of consciousness without any real bodily appearance at all. But commonly it looks more or less like our physical body, and in this way the astral body is similar to a passport photo – an appearance of our person, which helps that friends and acquaintances are able to identify us.
The deformability of the astral body is termed ideoplasticity. This word arises from the Greek words "idea" (which refers to a guiding principle that generates a pattern which is the basis for the individual reality) and "plastikos" (which means that a certain form is shaped). Thus, ideoplasticity means the forming of a certain appearance, which either takes shape through own thoughts and personal imaginations, or it changes an already existing form in a way so that it becomes the expression of the own ideas. Like a sculptor who shapes the stone and expresses and conretises his own ideas, on the subtle planes we affect the astral matter in a similar way – either consciously or subconsciously – and this astral matter starts to take shape under the effect of our own thoughts. Our thoughts have the power to shape astral matter, so that we may speak of a creative power of imagination.
The material testing (Ballabene)
"I already had wandered through various streets. It was an idyllic small town near to an estuary. I looked at the facades of churches, old castles and houses. There were many wonderful houses there and I enjoyed to admire them, I was almost absorbing the impressions around me so as to keep this beauty in my mind forever. Some of the houses were adorned with stone statues and ornaments all over. They were like books made of stone, and the reliefs showed the state and nature of the inhabitants. I couldn’t see enough of these buildings. After a while, I came to a stony road at the bank of a small river. The bank-side of the road was covered in green shrub vegetation. On the other side of the road, there were more houses, which seemed to try to excel each other in ornaments and beauty. ‘Now I will test the solidity of this matter and the possibility to influence it by thoughts’, I thought. The first house had a wonderfully forged iron gate. I just grapped for the iron and pulled the gate out of its hinges. I left it hanging askew as I went on. It looked a little bit like vandalism, but I just couldn’t control my scientific curiosity. Now I turned to the stone blocks of a richly ornamented house. My hand reached out for the stone blocks of the wall. They were solid and cold like normal stones. ‘I have to penetrate them, because they are made of astral matter so they have to obey my will’, I thought. Again I grasped for the stone, and my hand just reached through the stone as if it was made of dough. Interestingly, the stone felt warm now. When I pulled my hand out again, a glassy-brown depression remained, so as if someone had melted a hole into the stone with a hot flame. I was very satisfied with the results of my material test and went on."
The elongated arm (Ballabene)
"After having walked through a rather uninteresting village, I sat down at the road embankment, trying to decide what to do next. It was a normal country road, broad enough for traffic in both directions. There I sat idly and looked at the stones which lay on the street. Suddendly I had the idea to try out if I could grasp for a stone on the other side of the street without standing up. The stone was about 2 or 3 meters away from me. I reached out with my arm and stretched it, until I really could grasp the stone. This new discovery gave me pleasure and I repeated it again and again, grasping for all kinds of stones and also for a crumpled piece of paper; all the objects were more or less at the same distance away from me as the first stone."
Going through matter and trying out telekinesis (Ballabene)
"Again I tried to pass through matter. I planned to go right down into the asphalt of the road. It succeeded, and I went in until the asphalt reached chest level. After this, I went up diagonally until I was floating about one and a half meter in the air. All this worked without any problems. Then, I went through the door of a house and in the living room I tried to perform telekinesis. I didn’t use the newly discovered method of consciousness shifting in telekinesis, and it didn’t work anyway. The objects didn’t float into my hand."
Going through the glass door (Corra)
"I was in a large building with a glass facade, and I could look now through the glass and saw the landscape outside. It was a village that looked a bit medieval. The woman that I had asked for the way described to me where I had to go and after I had said thanks to her, I went to the glass door. I thought it must be possible to go right through it without opening it at all. And indeed, I just passed through the glass door, although it remained completely closed. I then continued my way through the medieval village."
© Alfred Ballabene (Vienna) translated by Corra