AUTHOR'S NOTE: Edited 07/09/07 to include newly joined groups in distribution.
Back in 1971, my then-husband was employed as a Deputy Sheriff working the "graveyard shift" at the county jail. One morning he brought me a tattered copy of a book from the jail library to read that he thought would "interest" me called In My Soul, I Am Free, written by Paul Twitchell, the founder of Eckankar (a spiritual movement based upon astral projection).
After reading and returning the book, I tried a number of psychic exercises suggested by Paul Twitchell in that book, to facilitate "soul walking" or "light body travel," as Twitchell put it.
Early one evening, I was lying on my back on the bedroom floor, practicing the exercises when, all of a sudden, I felt myself leave my body! I found myself in a huge, square, two-story building with a loft-like floor that ran around the perimeter of the top floor, which I somehow knew was called "The Great Library." There were other people there, browsing among shelf after shelf of thousands upon thousands of books contained within "The Great Library."
I was seated at a "library table" and there were a number of what appeared to resemble Tarot cards spread-out on the table before me, face-up. Upon looking closer at each one, I could tell that they were not Tarot cards, but had other images pictured on them. As I gazed at each one in turn, the picture began to move, rather like a movie. I found that if I gazed long enough, not only would the picture move, I would instantly be transported "into" the picture! Once that happened, the reality of the library would disappear, and the situation the card depicted would become my "reality"!
I seemed to somehow "know" that each one of these "cards" was a previous incarnation of my own soul!
As I gazed at one card, depicting a young girl walking down a dirt road in what appeared to be the Middle Ages, all of a sudden, I was transported "into" that incarnation, and I found myself actually walking down that road! I "knew" that this place was France. I also knew that this was hundreds of years before "my time," and that I was walking to a town carrying a basket which I knew was "my father's lunch" that I was taking to him at his shop in town.
I looked down at myself as I continued walking and noticed that the long, brown, dress that I was wearing was made from a very coarse material that resembled burlap. Not only that, but I could "feel" the itchy, rough material of the dress next to my skin! (I'm not familiar with anyone who actually "feels" things, physically, in dreams!)
As I reached the town, I was acutely aware of vile, foul-smelling odors coming from it and, instinctively almost, reached down to grasp a small, cloth bag that I had hanging from my waist. I knew that this little bag contained a "sachet" of good-smelling dried herbs and flower petals, and I held it over my nose as I walked and the stench became greater. (I am also not aware of anyone "smelling" things in their dreams!)
As I walked, I had to "pick" my way, daintily, down the narrow streets - filled with people, horses, chickens, dogs, cats, children, and TONS of vile garbage and offal - for fear of stepping in something foul! Also I constantly glanced above my head, in order, "I knew," to watch for people throwing water and offal out of their upstairs windows onto the street!
As I rounded a corner, I could see the narrow storefront of what I knew was my father's cobbler's shop where he made and repaired shoes. He was sitting on a cobbler's stool, outside on the narrow, cobblestone sidewalk, working on the sole of a shoe, with some of his merchandise around him. I greeted and hugged him, and gave him the basket. Then, all of a sudden, I was back in the "Great Library." After a while, I found myself back on my bedroom floor!
I don't know if this incident of "astral projection" had any great "lesson" to teach me, other than, perhaps, the difference between a dream and an actual instance of "soul walking" - that difference being that normally in dreams one does not "feel" or "smell" things! I have had many instances of astral projection since that time, where I also "felt" things, but this instance was my first.