In the 1960s during the Cold War, anxiety had grown over whether the Soviets might be breaking ground in the use of parapsychology for espionage or warfare. This eventually led to an increase in parapsychological research in the West, including a CIA funded research project in which modernist researchers rediscovered the autohypnotic practice of astral projection and attempted to develop it for intelligence gathering. This use of astral projection and tapping into the dimensions accessable by the subconscious mind was termed "remote viewing."

The Cold War Response to Soviet Research Into the Paranormal

In the 1920 and 30s, the Soviet scientist Leonid L. Vasiliev had proven the existence of telepathic hypnosis, and Vasiliev's teacher — the renowned Russian neurologist Vladimir M. Bekhterev — had also trained KGB agents in its use. Bekhterev reputedly coined the phrase "the invasion of the psyche" referring to the possibility of remote hypnotic influence. Vasiliev later published his findings on telepathic hypnosis in a booked called "Experiments in Mental Suggestion" which was later translated into English. After the findings of Bekhterev, Vasiliev, and similar researchers in the Ukraine, Soviet researchers began serious investigation into "parapsychology" but took steps to prevent information leaking into the open.

Despite the lockdown on public information on parapsychological studies behind the Iron Curtain, newsworthy accounts of psychic prodigies such as Nina Kulagina would occasionally reach Western audiences. Kulagina had the ability to cause poltergeist phenomena using willpower and intense emotion, and she was studied extensively by a large number of prestigious Soviet scientists including Vasiliev and the Czech ZdenÄ›k Rejdák, who coined the term "psychotronics" as an alternative to "parapsychology." Dozens of films were made of Kulagina demonstrating her abilities. Under the supervision of Dr. Genady Sergeyev, Kulagina caused the beating heart of a frog to beat faster, and was then instructed to make it stop beating entirely. She succeeded: an electrocardiogram of the frog's heart showed a sudden flare-up of electrical activity, after which it ceased. Kulagina also had the ability to burn the skin of people whose hands she touched, and to cause other individuals to become so dizzy that they could no longer stand.

As the Soviets were reportedly spending millions to study and advance "psychotronics," Western intelligence agencies understandably became concerned. A Defense Intelligence Report on "Controlled Offensive Behavior Research in the Soviet Union" reported that the Soviets were "well aware of the benefits and applications of parapsychology research" and that: "Many scientists, U.S. and Soviet, feel that parapsychology can be harnessed to create conditions where one can alter or manipulate the minds of others. The major impetus behind the Soviet drive to harness the possible capabilities of telepathic communication, telekinetic and bionics are said to come from the Soviet military and the KGB." 

Remote Viewing: Tapping Information from the Universal Mind

As a response to this potential Soviet threat the CIA began a research project on remote influence which was later merged with a program led by the Stanford Research Institute's Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ. Puthoff and Targ used a team of psychics to engage in mind's eye astral visions of enemy territory, initially working with map coordinates, and later transitioning into full-fledged astral projection. They termed these practices "Remote Viewing."

The remote viewers discovered that they could access the deep well of information in the Universal Mind, commonly known to astral travellers as the "Akashic records." The remote viewers called this well of information "The Matrix," and identified that it contained knowledge about their targets, including past and future information. However, while the accuracy of some of the information was totally uncanny, it was often imperfect and contained errors. 

Numerous ancient occult schools of thought had long taught that due to the process of emanationism, astral travelling human beings do not actually have access to the genuine "Akashic records" themselves, but rather to their imperfect reflection in lesser dimensions within the astral light. This imperfection in the information drawn out of "the Matrix" later became the focus point for justifying the (supposed) discontinuation of the Remote Viewing program. The CIA commissioned a report from an outside investigative agency for this purpose. Far from concluding that remote viewing was not taking place, the study confirmed that the remote viewers were consistently obtaining statistically significant results in the laboratory, but that the information was not accurate enough to use as a basis for a full military action. Whether or not the study and application of remote viewing were actually discontinued is questionable.

Research and Discovery of the Occulted Nature of the Subconscious Mind

The remote viewing experiments began by using map coordinates in a manner similar to pendulum dowsing. A target was defined, and around half a dozen remote viewers were assigned to the same target, but were isolated from each other so that they did not realize this. The results were more accurate than the statistically expected average, but were skewed because the remote viewers had preconceived ideas about what the targets might look like, causing information from the subjective imagination to meld together with the information drawn out of "the matrix." In remote viewing terms this problem became known as "frontloading."

To avoid frontloading the project leaders began giving the remote viewers coordinates without telling them where the target was located. Despite this precaution, the remote viewers' subconscious minds — the individual access point connected to the "matrix" or Hermetic "Universal Mind" — eventually began to figure out what the coordinates were despite the fact that the viewers had no conscious knowledge of the target. This resulted in more "frontloading."

In the third phase, only the team leader had any conscious knowledge of what the coordinates were, and would assign random numbers to the targets as a form of encryption. These encrypted numbers were then given to the remote viewers instead of the actual map coordinates they represented. Bizarrely, this gave the best results. What had been the private conception in the mind of only the team leader was translated by the random number and led the remote viewers to the same part of the matrix for the remote viewers.

Physicists Elizabeth Rauscher and Russell Targ examined these principles in detail in a paper titled "The Speed of Thought: Investigation of a Complex Space-Time Metric to Describe Psychic Phenomena," concluding that the speed of thought was instantaneous, that consciousness transcended space-time distances for mind-to-mind and mind-to-target communication. This omnipresence of consciousness is referred to by modern physicists as "non-locality." Sounding very much like a Hermetic magician, the physicist David Bohm wrote in text book The Undivided Universe: "the essential features of the implicate order are, that the whole universe is in some way enfolded in everything, and that each thing is enfolded in the whole." This demonstrated what has long been held by Hermetic occult cosmology: that the magician is the center of his own universe and therefore (in accord with the Hermetic axiom "As above, so below") at the center of the greater universe.

"Extended Remote Viewing," Astral Projection in Modernist Clothing

The CIA's astral projection program was known as "Project Stargate." Its most prominent psychic was probably Ingo Swann, whose basic autohypnotic method of practicing astral projection was renamed "Extended Remote Viewing" and presented as a technique to be taught to spies. It involved inducing a hypnotic theta trance state through deep physical relaxation, which was termed "the cool-down process."

The lucid-dreamlike theta brainwave state — contrasted with the ordinary beta state of normal awareness — was correctly described by remote viewer David Morehouse as a state of consciousness in which the barrier between the conscious and subconscious minds becomes attenuated. After the induction of the theta state, the astral body would be projected into an astral sanctuary or "safe place." Each remote viewer designed their personal sanctuary of this sort using visualization, and project into it as a departure zone prior to projecting to the target area. 

Ironically, Morehouse denied that this practice was the same thing as astral projection, which he believed to be the full separation of the spiritual body from its physical counterpart. He instead used the term "bilocation" — the same term used to describe the astral projection experiences of Catholic saints (many of whom derived their official recognition of sainthood primarily as a result of having this capability). Morehouse even noted the more rare "repercussion" phenomenon in which "...the physical body begins to manifest the physiological signs of what the projected consciousness is experiencing in the target area."

Encounters with Spirits in the Astral Dimensions

Morehouse described encounters with benevolent angelic beings that would recognize the presence of remote viewers, but would not interact directly with him. He also encountered evil spirits that would approach pretending to be friendly human beings but would then attack him and cause intense terror. Because the Remote Viewers maintained the belief that what they were doing was something different than the occult practice of astral projection, they did not use ritual safeguards that might have prevented such attacks. Despite their modernist perspective, in later years the remote viewers even used "Written Remote Viewing," which was nothing other than spirit channelling and automatic writing relabelled with a different term. Needless to say, this would have been very much against the desires of more materialistic "parapsychologists" intent on denying the existence of spiritual beings from the outset.