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Paper Pill – Astral and Pranic Travel

Traditionally, D&D mentions the silver cord in regards to Astral travel. The cord allows the traveler to find his/her body again. If the cord is severed, the traveler will never find the host body again.

Although the notion of a silver cord has many sources, one notable source, especially for the Western world, comes from Ecclesiastes 12:6. In this verse, the author also mentions a golden bowl. This sparked an idea that generated this post.

In the modern world, the term Astral travel is used to describe travel to other dimensions as well as out-of-body experiences. Just for the sake of argument, let's give separate names to each distinct experience. Some call out-of-body experiences etheric travel or etheric projection. Since the cosmology of my game has no ethereal plane, I'll choose something different. (I couldn't find the adjective form of prana, so I coined the word pranic.) So we have astral travel to describe travel to other planes of existence and pranic travel for out-of-body-but-still-on-Earth travel.

Where does this fit with Eccl 12:6? The silver cord is a description of Astral travel. How would a golden bowl fit with Pranic travel?

I've read a lot of Bible commentators mention that the Golden bowl speaks about the head as the container of the mind. Other philosophies, based on my incomplete research, seem to bear this out. Now I don't want to call this a golden helmet. After all, there is only one Golden Helmet. Still, the idea appeals on several levels.

I like the idea of traveling in the Prime Material Plane, but leaving the body behind. Sure, there are some dangers in doing this, but it is faster and relatively more safe to travel this way. Although mages would undoubtedly use this method of travel or reconnaissance from time to time, this feels more appropriate for a psionic character.

Maybe the pranic traveler sees the bowl resting in the hands of the body. Maybe the traveler can always see the golden bowl, regardless of distance from the body. In this case, the bowl would also show the direction of the body.

Another idea would be that the traveler see's the body's skull as shining in golden light. This ties into ideas of the golden bowl being the vessel for the mind. I also like the idea of seeing a golden skull.

Although it doesn't feel as creative, there could also be a golden cord that attaches to the back of the head, instead of a silver cord that attaches to the middle of the back. Thinking of it in terms of two cords makes me think of this as an insurance policy for the astral traveler - if one is cut, the other will still lead back to the body.

How would you visualize the golden bowl?

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  1. Keith Davies

    I have to wonder if this could be combined somehow with the idea of elemental chakras. Perhaps the precise method of entering astral travel might depend on where that power is bound — eyes let you see across planes without actually travelling there, hands [modified chakra; they don’t show up in the classic set] let you reach and touch things there, influencing events, throat lets you speak across the planes, and so on.

    I’ll want to think about this a bit. Right now I’m thinking of the four Hermetic elements, plus life and death, but it looks like there are other powers that could reasonably be applied — expanding from just elements to other powers and forces.

    • John Payne

      I think it could be applied very easily. Taking the Wu Xing, you could have WOOD (sight) FIRE (taste) EARTH (touch) METAL (smell) WATER (hearing). Earth is traditionally the first element, which makes it interesting that it would be easier to touch the other planes at lower levels before you could see or hear anything. Hmmm. Let me know how you expand on it.

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