TOPANGA MESSENGER -- January 29, 2004

"Book Review: The Children's Guide to Astral Projection"

by Pablo Capra

Lower Topanga artist James Mathers was tired of mainstream books with mystical themes but no real information about the occult (i.e. Harry Potter), so he came up with The Children’s Guide to Astral Projection in an attempt to actually teach children how to leave their bodies, explore other dimensions, and hang out with immaterial beings.

The back cover of The Children’s Guide, which Mathers wrote and illustrated in comic book form under the pseudonym “J.A. Homes,” reads: “This handy guide will introduce children to their own out-of-body experience, and equip them to express their own private vision of the threshold between this earthly dimension and the Astral Plane.”

Mathers describes the Astral Plane as “the natural domain of children, poets, and young creatives.”

Mathers wrote the The Children’s Guide” specifically for children because he believes that they are more open to new ideas. But the book is not dumbed-down for children.

“I make no apologies for the complex ideas that are presented here,” states the foreword.

“Awareness of the Astral World is a gift,” Mathers writes. “Not unlike musical ability, athletic talent, or a powerful mind, it can be developed and explored, or ignored and neglected, while it slowly fades into the background of our busy lives.”

When I ask Mathers what his experience with the Astral Plane is, Mathers says, almost surprised by my question, “It’s the same as yours.”

According to Mathers, everyone interacts with the world on an astral level whether they know it or not.

Mathers believes that our bodies are actually designed for Astral Projection.

“It’s part of our standard human equipment, and one of our most powerful spiritual tools,” Mathers says. “But because of a bias in our collective perception, Astral Projection has sadly been pushed to the fringes of the human experience.”

A Topanga native, Mathers moved to New York City after graduating from high school to pursue a career in painting. Since then he has traveled extensively, and lived for four years in Dublin, Ireland, one of his favorite cities. He is currently one of about 40 remaining residents in Lower Topanga Canyon whom State Parks is forcing to relocate.

In addition to painting, Mathers passions include writing, filmmaking, and poring over maps and diagrams of various spiritual hierarchies.

“There’s no way to talk to most people about the Astral Plane without giving the perception of mental or emotional disturbance,” Mathers says. “The main purpose of all my delvings into the spiritual realm is to create a language to describe this stuff.” The Children’s Guide is his latest attempt.

“It’s the book I wish I had when I was a kid.”

The Children’s Guide is the first comic book to be published by Brass Tacks Press, a small press founded in 2002 by three local poets. Brass Tacks Press also published Idlers of the Bamboo Grove: Poetry from Lower Topanga, which Mathers illustrated and contributed poems to.

The Children’s Guide sells for $3.33 at Lobal Orning in Topanga, as well as at Hi De Ho Comics and Midnight Special in Santa Monica. It can also be purchased online at www.lifeasapoet.com.

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Los Angeles, California, United States
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