Mentalist's Handbook: An Explorer's Guide to Astral, Spirit, and Psychic Worlds

Mentalist's Handbook: An Explorer's Guide to Astral, Spirit, and Psychic Worlds

by Clint Marsh

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There is a world that mirrors our own. Everything in this world is made of substance finer than air, finer than light, finer than thought itself - the aether. In the aether there are inner sensations such as ideas and feelings that are as tangible as anything in the material world. In The Mentalist's Handbook, Clint Marsh gives us a glimpse of this world. He


There is a world that mirrors our own. Everything in this world is made of substance finer than air, finer than light, finer than thought itself - the aether. In the aether there are inner sensations such as ideas and feelings that are as tangible as anything in the material world. In The Mentalist's Handbook, Clint Marsh gives us a glimpse of this world. He offers step-by-step exercises, detailed and beautifully written explanations and definitions, and gorgeous black and white illustrations by award-winning artist Jeff Hoke. Inspired by esoteric, occult, and magic books published over the last 150 years, Marsh has aspired to create something of singular importance in the tradition of classic occult manuals. Both practical and whimsical, and complete with visual aids, this field guide to the paranormal will appeal to students of the New Age, esoteric scholars, readers of post-modern and magical-realism, angel, ghost and fairy enthusiasts, comic and graphica fans, and artists alike.

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Library Journal

According to author Marsh (Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop), there exists a world mirroring our own known as the aether. Inspired by esoteric, occult, and magic books published over the last 150 years, he has created this user-friendly guide to exploration and shifting one's everyday consciousness into this aetheric world. The book's content, which includes numerous exercises and lovely black-and-white illustrations by award-winning artist Jeff Hoke, is divided into six major chapters and explores such topics as the nature of the aether, descriptions of the various types of aetheric beings, and the spirit world. Indexes of the exercises are organized by both title and topic. While it probably won't be acquired by most libraries, this book should interest readers of New Age, postmodern, and magic realist works; comic and graphic novel fans; and esoteric scholars. The dust jacket features a chart for identifying aetheric beings.
—Brad Eden

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An Explorer's Guide to Astral, Spirit, and Psychic Worlds

By Clint Marsh, Jeff Hoke

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2008 Clint Marsh
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-302-8



The Basics of Meditation and Visualization—The Basics of Meditation—An Initial Meditation—The Basics of Visualization—A Simple Visualization—The Importance of Imagination—A Description of the Aetheric Plane—Imagining the Aetheric Plane—The Location of This Place—"What Good Is the Aetheric Plane?"—The Nature of Aether— Aether as a Substance—The Sculptor's Studio—Some Questions about the Sculptor's Studio—Aether and the Supernatural World—Two Bodies in One Person—Visualizing the Aetheric Body—Visualization and Memory—Observation and Memory—Memory of the Commonplace—The Mentalism Connection—Psychisms—Astral Projection—Spiritism—Mind Is Matter, Matter Is Mind—Letters from Aspirants

* * *

"Little brother, give me thy hand; for the first step is hard."


ABOVE, BELOW, AND THROUGHOUT the world you and I call home, the aetheric plane dwells also. Everything we see, hear, touch, think, and feel has a counterpart in this place, and when you visit the aetheric plane, you will see how the material and mental qualities of these things begin to blur and intermingle. "Aether" is the word used to signify the substance that makes up the aetheric plane.

In this lesson, the qualities of aether and the aetheric plane are set, to form a foundation for exploration into this vast and fascinating realm. You will learn much more than you thought you would and think more than you knew you could. Your curiosity will be set alight, and you will dare to pierce the veil between this world and the others.

Using the simple exercises described in this lesson, your faculty for mentalism will increase. Don't be discouraged if at first you are not as successful as you like with the lessons. All will be yours through practice and diligence.

And now, let us proceed with our worthy goal, informing the world of the facts surrounding the nature of aether.


Meditation and visualization are two important practices used in the exercises in the rest of this book. They are the first skills anyone aspiring to mentalism must learn. These pages will introduce you to the concepts behind meditation and visualization and will lead you through preliminary trials of both.

The Basics of Meditation

Meditation is the root skill of the aspiring mentalist. By relaxing us and shifting our attention from the everyday, meditation is the tool that allows us to connect to the aetheric plane. In order for meditation to be effective, it must be practiced daily. These directions will help you with your first simple meditations. As your aetheric studies progress, you will learn much more about this skill.

If this were a book for bodybuilders, it would include exercises for you to repeat to strengthen your physical muscles. We are going to strengthen our "mental muscles" the same way weightlifters build their biceps—through practice! You will find that frequent meditation on a certain thing (in this exercise we'll focus on the breath) will help you concentrate your thoughts and relax your body. A calm mind and body are essential to mentalism.

Exercise 1: An Initial Meditation

Find a quiet space where you can go and not be disturbed by noise or others. Sit in a chair or on the floor, in a comfortable position but with your back straight. Meditation is about breathing, and with a straight back, you allow your lungs optimal expansion. If you are in a chair, you can resist the temptation to slouch by sitting on its front edge.

Relax. Concentrate on your breath. Breathe slowly and deliberately, letting yourself relax more and more. Try to think only of your breath as it enters, fills, and exits your body. It may help to close your eyes.

Although it is not necessary to time your meditation, you should concentrate on your breathing for about five minutes. This will grant you a deeper attention to your body and the physical act of breathing.

If you find your attention wavering from your breath, gently return your thoughts to the simple rhythm of the air flowing in and out of your body. Don't be frustrated if you get distracted again and again, especially if you are new to meditation. This takes practice. With time, meditation will come more and more naturally to you. Continue to breathe slowly—with your mind focused on your breath—for another five minutes, ten if you're enjoying it.

When you are through, stand up from your sitting position and stretch, letting your attention come back to the world around you. Repeat this type of meditation for fifteen minutes at least once every day. If you do, you will develop your ability to concentrate on something very intently (in this case your breath) while entering a relaxed state of being. Just as important, you will find yourself happier and more relaxed in general. All these traits are essential to mentalism.

The Basics of Visualization

Perhaps the most versatile skill of the mentalist is visualization, the ability to see with the mind's eye things not readily visible to the physical eye. Visualizations are used by mentalists to help them picture the aetheric plane. This is how you will use visualization at first, seeing the aetheric plane in your imagination. Later, it will be the tool you use to see aether for what it truly is.

Taken at face value, visualization is written off by many as pure imagination. At first this is true. Visualization, for beginners, is little more than concentration on certain thoughts to the point that those thoughts are integrated into the real scene before the mentalist. In mentalism and aetheric studies in general, visualization is an important skill to practice, because it is the first step on the road to true sensing and interaction with aether.

Exercise 2: A Simple Visualization

Here is an elementary visualization that you can perform even if you are new to the discipline. This exercise works in part because of certain physical principles that govern the eye. It is based on an optical illusion.

Sit in a room with a white or light-colored wall. Stare at the simple geometric figure of the hand while counting slowly to thirty, then quickly shift your gaze to the aforementioned wall. It may help if you blink rapidly when you do.

Do you see the afterimage of the figure upon the wall, the white parts black and the black parts white? The effect is caused by a physical afterimage left upon your eyes from staring so long at the image and is an example of your mind interpreting the afterimage as a picture that is really before your eyes. This is a shadowy start to your visualizations but a start nonetheless.

Do this a few more times, then take this little leap: Try to visualize the same image upon the wall. Can you see it without staring at the illustration first? Try it now. It's all right if you can't at first, but you should keep practicing this to develop your visualization abilities.

The difference between the first and second way of seeing the image is that the second time you are seeing without the aid of any physical stimulus. You are using your mind. Compare the two styles of seeing by practicing both, then see if you can play with your visualizations. Can you visualize the shape against different walls? Can you visualize it suspended out from the wall a bit? Can you add parts to the image, maybe extra fingers, for example, and then take them away? If so, good for you! You are well on your way to more complex visualizations.

The Importance of Imagination

As you practice the visualization exercises in this lesson, you will realize just how crucial imagination is to the work. Don't think of imagination as a crutch, something you have to overcome to get to "real" visualizations. Imagination is less like a roadblock to visualization and more like a map. You've been imagining things all your life, and visualization is an ability very akin to imagination.


To the question I am often asked—"What is the aetheric plane like?"—I respond with a question of my own: "How can one describe such a place?" The answer to the second question is, "Not nearly enough."

The simplest way to put it is this: There is another world beyond, yet inside, the material world you and I know and inhabit. This place is at once different from and the same as ours. Everything in this other world looks as though it is made of light. In fact, all things on the aetheric plane are made of a superfine substance known as aether.

Given the newness of your interest and studies, were you to see the aetheric plane now, put plainly, you would go mad. It is best to start with a visualization of this place. As you progress through the exercises in this and further lessons, you will find that visualizations are second only to realizations, so heed this exercise carefully.

Exercise 3: Imagining the Aetheric Plane

Here is an exercise to help you envision the aetheric plane in relation to the material world we inhabit. It involves creating an aetheric scene that corresponds with the landscape you are already in. The first few times you perform this exercise, simply use your imagination to picture the scenes. Once you feel comfortable with your visualization skills, you should try this exercise again for a heightened sense of the omnipresence of the aetheric plane.

When you are an accomplished mentalist, you will be able to see and interact with aetheric landscapes. The tools you will use will be those of the mentalist—visualization, clairvoyance, and astral projection. For now, however, you will be instructed in this exercise using a tool you already possess: imagination. It might be helpful for a friend to read the following text to you while you do this, as most of it is done with your eyes closed.

Take a look out your window or, if you are fortunate enough to be reading this outdoors, across the furthest landscape available to you. This place that you see before you exists in tandem on the aetheric plane. Examine it in detail. Note the dimensions of the scene before you—the height, breadth, and depth of the landscape. What are the main features of the scene? What are the little details that take some time to notice?

When you are satisfied that you have a good idea of the lay of the land, take a deep breath. Let it out slowly and close your eyes. Picture the scene that you just took in through your sense of vision. Think about the dimensions of height, breadth, and depth. Remember the features you noted and fit them into the landscape in your mind.

This mental landscape is not the same as the scene before you—it is a product of your imagination. Continue to breathe deeply. Keep your eyes closed and scrutinize your mental visualization, adding as many objects as you can remember from the "real" landscape into your imaginary one.

When you think your mental landscape is as complete as you can make it, you will need to make one final change to it. The scene you have built in your mind is a section of the aetheric plane, a world that mirrors our own. In this place, everything seems to be made of light. Color everything in your mental landscape a light blue, or a yellow, or whatever color you fancy, so that it looks as if the whole scene has a translucent glow to it.

Now, holding your glowing mental landscape at the forefront of your thoughts, open your eyes and superimpose it over the actual scene, as if it were a translucent shell that wraps around all you see. If you can do this, you have already begun to develop your capacity for visualization.

The "double vision" you have created is imaginary, but there is more to what you are seeing than pure imagination. In reality, beyond the gross material of our world exists another world of wonder and possibility—the aetheric plane. It is a place and a feeling, a thought and an emotion, and all of these things at once. It is the sum total of reality and of life itself. It is the purest—and at the same time the most practical and real—incarnation of the stuff we call imagination.

The Location of This Place

Another question I often field in regards to the aetheric plane concerns its precise location. "Where could this fantastic realm be?" aspirants wonder aloud. The answer at first seems overly enigmatic: "The aetheric plane exists in many places at once."

It is important to realize that the "floating" location where we placed the aetheric plane in our visualization is just one of an infinite number of places to visualize the plane. As you learn more about the aetheric plane, you will more easily understand the omnipresence of this place.

Technically speaking, the aetheric plane is above, below, beside, and beyond our world, existing in all places at once, boundless and invisible, or at least invisible to you for now. The aetheric plane is experienced through a shift in consciousness brought on by meditation and visualization, and it is right here, within us, now. With practice, you will catch a glimpse of the aetheric plane, and before you know it, you will see it clearly.

"What Good Is the Aetheric Plane?"

This is a valid question, especially today, when time is a valuable commodity and so much of it is required for the study of aether and mentalism.

Here is your answer: Think back to every extraordinary story you have ever heard, every anecdote or legend that involved unusual beings or abilities. Recall every example of haunting, supernatural strength, déjàvu, or extrasensory perception. Do you know what common element is shared by all those stories, what factor lies behind the fantastic feats or occurrences described? If you haven't guessed it yet, know this: It is the aetheric plane.

All things tangible and intangible in this world—beings, objects, forces, thoughts, and emotions—are manifest on the aetheric plane in very substantial ways. There, a thought can be as mighty as a hurricane wind, destroying cities and ruining ecosystems. One person's emotion can profoundly affect another person's movement. A sound can build a civilization. An image can start a fire. All things are part of a common system, shared language understood by those tapped in to the power of the aetheric plane.

That said, the aetheric plane is not a place that can be known easily. Years of practice and study are required of aspirants to mentalism. The payoffs of this study are extraordinary. For if aether and the aetheric plane are part of a language, then those who speak that language fluently are no less than masters of reality.

Now can you see the good in learning of such a place?


Some well-meaning aspirants to mentalism ask me, "What is aether made of?" Better for them to ask, "What isn't made of aether?" Answering the second question is much easier than answering the first.

Aether is all around us and within us as well. It surrounds and imbues our bodies, our atmospheres, and everything in between. Beneath the surface of our thoughts, our feelings, and our movements, aether lies. It is as alive as anything in the world, for in fact it constitutes everything in this world and beyond.

To explain something to a material person, one must use material terms. With this in mind, it is best to think of aether as a fluid, one that inhabits all space. This fluid is infinitely malleable and can change its color and density, so that it may look and feel like anything imaginable. Furthermore, the way one person perceives aether is quite often very different from the way another person does. A slippery substance indeed.

But aether is more than just a substance. It is also a force, like wind or ocean currents, like magnetism or infatuation. It is a force that can be gentler than a loving thought or more powerful than an apocalyptic storm, depending on how it is used.

In its natural state—or perhaps I should say in our natural state—aether is invisible and intangible. I stress that it is our natural state, the state of body and mind most people are in every day of their lives, that prevents us from seeing, touching, and otherwise actively experiencing aether.

The natural state of mankind is so called because of its connection to the "natural" material world and material awareness. The practice of mentalism elevates the physical and mental states of man to a higher level, from a natural state to a supernatural state, as it were, of aetheric awareness. Mentalism creates a shift in consciousness that opens our mind to the aetheric plane.

If you are at all familiar with the tenets of science, I am sure several alarms are now ringing in your mind. This talk of aether surely sounds too fantastic and unbelievable to be real. Everything we are taught about science refutes the theory of the aetheric plane, yet it is not scientists who bring us knowledge of aether, but mentalists. These men and women are pioneers in the newest and yet most ancient science: mentalism.

Excerpted from THE MENTALIST'S HANDBOOK by Clint Marsh, Jeff Hoke. Copyright © 2008 Clint Marsh. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Clint Marsh is a writer and publisher of practical esoterica. Aside from The Camelopard - the pamphlet series that inspired The Mentalist's Handbook, Marsh's publications include Goblin Proofing One's Chicken Coop, On Gnoming (A Pocket Guide to the Successful Hunting and Cooking of Gnomes), and Wandering Wizards Welcome (By Appointment). He has served as the consulting editor for Jeff Hoke's Guide to Lost Wonder series and as the American publisher for Phooka, The Journal of the Overland Mallet Club. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Iowa and lives in Berkeley, CA where he distributes his works through Wonderella Printed.

Jeff Hoke is a senior designer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Previously he worked as an exhibit designer for the Field Museum in Chicago. He lives in Monterey, California.

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