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Observations placeholder

Muldoon, Sylvan - First OBE



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

As recounted in The Mystery of the Human Double – Ralph Shirley

When Mr. Muldoon had his first experience of the kind he was a boy of twelve years of age. Boys at that time of life think little of anything but the physical. Indeed if they did they would doubtless with perfect justice be accounted morbid and unhealthy-minded.

Muldoon's mother, however, had read some books on spiritualistic subjects and made up her mind to investigate and satisfy herself as to whether the accounts she had read were in the nature of fact or fiction. With this in view she decided to visit the camp of the Mississippi Valley Spiritualist Association at Clinton, Iowa.

These camps are a well-known feature of Spiritualist activities in the United States and many thousands have been drawn to them for no higher reason than pure curiosity, while to others they constitute a corner stone on which hinge their religious beliefs and above all their faith in the reality of a future life. The best and the worst side of Spiritualism is to be met with in these assemblies.

Mother and son retired early on the night of their arrival and found themselves lodged in the same house with half a dozen well-known mediums. Mr. Muldoon tells us that he went off to sleep about 10.30 p.m. in the usual way, slept for some three hours or so, and then realized that he was slowly awakening, but found himself unable to drift back into sleep or on the other hand to wake up into a normal state of consciousness.

 "In this bewildering stupor," he writes, "I knew within myself that I existed somewhere, somehow, in a powerless, silent, dark and feelingless condition."

 "The sensation," he says, "was similar to what one experiences when recovering gradually from the influence of an anaesthetic."

"I thought," he remarks, "that I was awakening from natural sleep in a natural manner yet I could not proceed. There was but one thought dominating my mind. Where was I? I tried to move, to determine my whereabouts, only to find that I was powerless-as if I adhered to that on which I rested. This condition I have called 'astral catalepsy'."

Our author defines or rather explains this astral catalepsy as "direct subconscious control". Eventually this feeling of "adhesion" relaxed, only to be replaced by another sensation equally unpleasant, that of floating.

At the same time his entire body, while still rigid, commenced vibrating at a great rate in an up and down direction while he felt a tremendous pressure on the back of his head. The senses of sight and of hearing now returned to him. When at length he was able to see he was astounded to realize that he was actually floating in the air, a few feet above his bed. He was, he noticed, slowly moving towards the ceiling, all the while rigid, powerless, and fixed in a horizontal position.

 Finally he found himself involuntarily moved from the horizontal to the upright and landed upon the floor of his room. He was still at this point "astrally cataleptic". But now came the change; he discovered that he was able to take a step and turn round and behold! There was his physical body lying quietly upon the bed. Until this moment he had failed to realize that he was outside his physical form.

 "My two identical bodies," he writes, "were joined by means of an elastic-like cable, one end of which was fastened to the medulla oblongata region of the astral counter-part while the other end centred between the eyes of the physical counterpart. This cable extended across the space of probably six feet which separated us."

Muldoon's first idea, on seeing his second self, was that he had died during sleep. Still, he thought he would do his best to acquaint his fellow lodgers with his awful plight. He attempted to open the door of his room, but found himself passing through it. He tried to shake and arouse the sleeping occupants of the house but his hands passed through them as if they were vapours and he could not make them realize his presence.

"After a while," he says, "the clock struck two and, looking, I saw it registering that hour."

He prowled around for some minutes when he began to note a pronounced increase in the resistance of the cable which linked him with his physical form and then realized that he was being pulled back to his body. Again he lost all power of control, and found himself resuming the horizontal position above his bed in a cataleptic state. The end of the adventure must be told in his own words.

"It was the reverse procedure to that which I had experienced while rising from the bed. Slowly the phantom lowered, vibrating again as it did so, then it dropped suddenly, coinciding with the physical counter-part once more. At this moment of coincidence, every muscle in the physical jerked and a penetrating pain, as if I had been split open from head to foot, shot through me. I was physically alive again, filled with awe, as amazed as fearful, and I had been conscious throughout the entire occurrence."

The source of the experience

Muldoon, Sylvan

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items


Activities and commonsteps



Being a child
Inherited genes