The two outermost electron rings possible for an atom each have 32 electrons which they can hold. This is much more than any of the previous inner electron rings or shells. That means it takes 32 bits of awareness or soul fragments to complete each of these astral bodies. For most of us this is the work of a lifetime or it may never happen at all. it takes a lot of energy to activate 32 bits of awareness. But each bit is simply an electron and an electron of hydrogen is the same as the electron of any other element. Each is the same and takes the same effort to create.
The innermost of these two shells creates what is called the Etheric body and the outer final shell creates what is called the elemental body or etheric double.
The Etheric body contains 32 bits of awareness and reflects a full range of sensory abilities within dreams like reading, writing, smell, hearing and texture.
Sensations like taste and pain are still absent for the most part. They belong to the elemental body or Etheric double.
The Etheric planes are the classic astral planes of magical working. Most magic takes place on the Etheric planes and alters them in some way which will affect physical events before they happen.
In the process of developing our astral bodies there are two paths to follow. The magical path works to develop all 32 bits of awareness which creates the Etheric body and then integrates with the Etheric double. This means trying to develop 32 bits of awareness through the generation and cumulation of physical energy for the Etheric body and then 32 bits more to free the elemental body and integrate the Etheric double. This takes a very long time and a lot of energy!
The most common means of developing these nonphysical bodies is through hard physical exercise and sexual activity. This path works from the bottom upwards and has much in common with the martial arts. Its strength is the ability to manifest physical events. This is the natural path of athletes.
It’s weakness is the extremes of both pain and pleasure which must be physically experienced. You will experience that which you fear the most as well as that which you desire the most. Because everything operates at such near physical levels many toxic or negative factors cannot be safely neutralized. This is why magical adepts seek to develop the higher astral bodies as well so they can neutralize toxic energies.
The mystical path works from the top downward activating the innermost spiritual self first. This shell has only two bits of awareness as mentioned before. Then the second and third shells or mental bodies are created. Each of those has eight bits of awareness or soul fragments. In this manner the higher astral bodies are developed before the lower ones are. The fourth and fifth astral bodies or emotional bodies each are created out of 16 bits of awareness or soul fragments. This can take a lifetime or more as well to achieve. Physical effort and vitality are channeled upwards to activate these astral bodies.
The strength of this path is in invulnerability which neutralizes the worst toxins and negative factors long before they can manifest physically. Nothing can hurt this adept significantly. They are able to transmute negative energy and make it work in positive ways. The weakness of this path is an inability to physically manifest desires in real life. The lower astral levels govern physical events before they happen and these adepts is not strong at these levels. That is why these adepts constantly try to become stronger at the earth levels.
What we call our physical body is really including the elemental body which only separates from the physical body at death or in rare circumstances. These bits of awareness form our physical senses as we understand them. As these bits of awareness are developed they become free to leave the physical body to form what is called the Etheric double.
The integration and mastery of this Etheric double grants us the ability to have normal physical perceptions at the lowest levels of the astral planes and travel the physical earth in out of body experiences. We do this when we integrate our shadow. There have been many instances recorded of this type of classic astral projection. In reality we can project with any of the seven astral bodies if they have been developed correctly.