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Astral is a word that derives from the Latin astrum and from the Greek astron, meaning "star", and refers to a plane consisting of a subtler kind of matter, held to be next above the physical world in refinement.

H. P. Blavatsky wrote:

The designation astral is ancient, and was used by some of the Neoplatonists. Porphyry describes the celestial body which is always joined with the soul as “immortal, luminous, and star-like.” The root of this word may be found, perhaps, in the Scythic aist-aer — which means star, or the Assyrian Istar, which, according to Burnouf has the same sense.[1]

In her Comments on the book Light on the Path Mabel Collins writes:

This inner world is called Astral by some people, and it is as good a word as any other, though it merely means starry; but the stars, as Locke pointed out, are luminous bodies which give light of themselves. This quality is characteristic of the life which lies within matter; for those who see it, need no lamp to see it by. The word star, moreover, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "stir-an," to steer, to stir, to move, and undeniably it is the inner life which is master of the outer, just as a man's brain guides the movements of his lips. So that although Astral is no very excellent word in itself, I am content to use it for my present purpose.[2]

Although the word "astral" was frequently used by Blavatsky to refer to non-physical principles or bodies, on some occasions she used it in a more general way to refer to things of a composition similar to the jellyfish:

The word "astral" does not necessarily mean as thin as smoke, in occult phraseology, but rather "starry," shining or pellucid, in various and numerous degrees, from a quite filmy to a viscid state.[3]

See also


  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), xxv.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 16.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 251.