The Chord

by Alfred Ballabene


In literature and in the news the terms "silver cord" and "astral cord" are used without making any difference. I have split the two terms into two different meanings, assigning silver-cord as a term for the etheric cord phenomenon and astral cord as a term for the astral cord phenomenon. Below experiences and speculations are presented, underlining the use of two different terms.

Silver Cord

Function of the silver cord:

The etheric "substance" penetrating the physical body has been experienced (by occultists) as connected to vitality. A lack of etheric substance in human body is postulated to cause weakness or sickness. On the other hand an accumulation, induced by a number of exercises in Yoga, Taoism, Kung Fu etc., seems to lead to mediumistic and paraphysical abilities. While OBE-ing (etheric OBE) a part of the vital body separates, forming a fog-like double, the etheric body. To prevent a permanent loss of etheric substance, bound to the double, there seems to be a "saving" mechanism, in which the silver cord takes part, connecting the dissociated ektoplasm to its source in the physical body. Thus a separation of etheric matter with no return is prevented.

Threads observed when separating:

In my OBE´s performed by the technique "stepping out in trance" my subtle body seemed to be tied by many elastic cords to the physical body as if being attached by gluelike stringy material. By rocking I enlarged my swinging motions, and at last I was able to rupture these cords (at least that was what I sensed). It may be that only part of the strings were torn and another part, situated in a somehow favoured region and more densely arranged, were assembled to a single, stronger "string", the so called "cord" I am dealing with. In this way statements of some authors may be interpreted, in which the base of the silver cord is described to be of rootlike character or to be composed of many cords. See: Robert Monroe 1), p.164. Further Yram 2), p.75:

Where the cord joins the double it consists of thousands of very fine, elastic threads, which seem to suck the double into them.

My experiences of the silver cord:

Several years ago I once experienced the silver cord when "stepping-out-in-trance". Out of the body, at a distance of about 1m or 1,5m I turned around, face to the physical body. As usual in near-body distance I was without visual perception and in absolute darkness. Feeling a touch on my breast I reached out for it and felt something with smooth surface formed like a cone, diameter at the basis (breast) ca. 15 - 20cm, getting smaller to a diameter of about 5cm at a body-distance of about 30cm. At this diameter (5cm) it transformed to a cord, leading in direction of the physical body. In all other OBE's of the type of "stepping-out-in-trance" I paid no attention to the silver cord, but at a certain distance (ca. 50m) I felt a pull. Then I was stopped as if tied and fixed at my backside. Instantly I was retracted to the physical body. This happened very often and reduced my expeditions to a short duration, frustrating me.


While I have been moving away from the physical body, the silver cord has been connected to the backside of the subtle body; turning around, face to the physical body, the bais of the silver-cord has been sensed at the frontside. It seems that the root of the silver cord always is directed towards the physical body. The most frequently described locations of the root of the cord are back and breast respectively and back of the head and forehead respectively. The position is affected by the focus of consciousness being either body centered or mental centered.

Pulsations and vibrations of the cord:

In this respect I have no personal experiences. In literature (see Crookall) pulsations and vibrations of the silver cord are mentioned. Mostly these pulsations are interpreted as vitality transport and life-impulses towards physical body for breathing and heart beat. I prefer another interpretation: Pulsations and vibrations are very common experiences before starting body separation. Why not should such pulsations extend and spread over the silver cord. I think there is no need to attach importance to this detail.

Length And Thickness:

Concerning the length of the silver cord very different observations are reported. There seem to be great individual variabilities. Diameter and length are correlated. S.J. Muldoon (3), p.29 writes:

The "cord" is described as relatively short and thick when the "double" is within a few feet of the body and getting thinnner and thinner as they separate, until it is like a spider's web.

Astral Cord

The Astral Cord interpreted in Theosoph´s tradition:

The Theosophs initiated modern esoteric insights and their theories are accepted all over the esoteric groups. Regarding this valuable research critisicsm seems retentious but nevertheless may be useful, if we don't want to stick to dogmas. At the end of the 19th century the most important impulse for civilization was the invention of a new way to send informations in "no time" by means of electrical signals conducted in cables. It was logic to refer to the new development when creating a modern esoteric science, specially since cable-like features were found, connecting subtle body to physical body. The social-religious paradigm of this era was hierarchical. In the same way as god was controlling world, the overself was controlling the physical body, passing on its orders to the latter by means of the information cable "astral cord". Control was thought to be complete, even in details like breathing and heart-beat. Technique was not as far developed as to allow ideas like autoorganization and selfregulation.

A second and additional idea was the association of the cord with the umbilical cord, the mother aspect being associated to the physical body, the embryo to the subtle body. Birth was linked to death: In birth the umbilical cord is cut and the newborn enters daylight as individual; in physical death the silver cord breaks and the soul is set free. Resulting from this philosophy a break of the silver- (astral-) cord was thought to cause death.

Personal observations:

I have never seen a cord in astral plane. Experiences:

Stepping out in false awakening: For several times I turned in direction to the physical body to check the existence of a cord by touch and sight and had no positive cord observations. In all these experiences there were no mediumistic signs, no threads registered and stepping out was easy and without problems.

Spontaneous astral travellings:

I very often turned around in astral travelling, mostly to gain better orientation. I have never seen a cord and I have never felt a direction in which the physical body could have been. I rather felt to be in another plane. In this case the cord would have had to cross planes. I doubt if this is principally possible for any matter, even if it is a subtle matter considering that every plane has its own kind of "matter" and organization.


Reviews of published experiences of the cord:

1) Robert Crookall: "The techniques of astral projection". Liverpool: The Aquarian Press, paperback ed. 1981, pp. 48-52

2) Robert Crookall:" Out-of-the-body experiences". New York: University Books Inc., 1970. pp 59-67, 144-168.


1) Monroe, Robert: "Journeys out of the body". German Ed. 1972

2) Yram: "Practical Astral Projection"; New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc.; 3rd Impression, 1977, paperback

3) Muldoon, S.J. (and H. Carrington): "The projection of the astral body". Rider 1929

-- Alfred Ballabene