What Are The Mystical Akashic Records?

Imagine, if you will, that every thought, every experience, every moment of every person's life — all knowledge of all humans who've ever existed, and will exist — exists. It's not written down on parchment somewhere, tucked into the archives of some remote library. It's not cataloged on a spreadsheet or filed away in the mind of an omniscient deity. It's sort of hovering in the air, permeating the "fabric of reality," as a Hollywood screenplay might put it, waiting to be accessed and "read" by the right people. In mystic circles, this information is called the "Akashic Records," as eOmega overviews. And yes, "Akashic Records" would be a swell name for a niche vinyl record store that specializes in dreamy, synthy, 1970s psychedelia. 

How did such memories and experiences neurochemically encoded in the gray matter inside physical skulls get transferred ... well, somewhere? And where is this ether-like "somewhere," exactly? The concept of Akashic Records touches on past-life regression, New Age philosophy, reincarnation, clairvoyance, mysticism, Hermeticism (related to Gnosticism), ritual magic, and mediumship and can be seen as very much a loosey-goosey thing of vague definition. It's kind of like the Force in "Star Wars." You've just got to roll with it. 

A record of every thought and deed

By all accounts the term "Akashic Records" first appears in 1911 in (deep breath), "The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World and of the Church Universal," by Levi Dowling (available in full on Project Gutenberg). The book, the book says, was a "commission" from "Visel, the Goddess of Wisdom, or the Holy Breath," who sought Levi to be a "message bearer of the coming age." 

Of Levi, his book says, "When but a boy he was impressed with the sensitiveness of the finer ethers and believed that in some manner they were sensitized plates on which sounds, even thoughts, were recorded. With avidity, he entered into the deeper studies of etheric vibration, determined to solve the great mysteries of the heavens for himself. Forty years he spent in study and silent meditation, and then he found himself in that stage of spiritual consciousness that permitted him to enter the domain of these superfine ethers and become familiar with their mysteries." 

The term "Akashic Records," Levi's book continues, comes from the word "Akasha," meaning "primary substance" in Sanskrit, or "universal mind." Alternately, Vogue states that it means, "that which holds all." The records are an intangible substance, "where every thought and word and deed of every living thing is written down," which kinda-sorta echoes the "Book of Life" that the Biblical book of Revelations talks about (as Christianity explains).

Spiritualism's link to the New Age movement

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), one of the most prominent mystics in U.S. history, similarly connected the Akashic Records to Judeo-Christian myth, saying that it was "God's book of remembrance." Cayce, as sites like eOmega and Learn Religions say, wields words like "energy," "intent," "vibration," and "etheric wave" to explain the Akashic Records as a kind of reverberation of choices humming in the cosmos. He stated that the right person, with the right sensitivity or aptitude, could "access" these vibrations. If they were selfless and "desirous of being of help," they could guide other individuals through a type of mystical, pre-modern therapy. Cayce and Levi's book both originate in a time when Spiritualism was in vogue in the U.S., England, France, and elsewhere, as the New Yorker discusses.  

If you can't tell by some of the lingo, Spiritualism certainly prefigured the New Age movement of the 1960s. And now, self-described spiritual healers have offloaded the Akashic Records, as a broader concept stemming from Levi's 1911 book, and applied them to modern-day, self-help-based spirituality. 

In the end, the stated intention is to focus on "unhealed trauma," as Vogue describes. If true, this is at least a well-meaning goal.