Most people are oblivious to anything but the physical because of the unresolved charges in their emotional and mental arenas. This baggage creates both static noise and aversion. This is what Eckhart Tolle called the pain body. Yet the astral and divine are very much a part of ourselves and ever with us. If we leave them in a mess, we find messes.
While I usually use the “7 worlds model” aka the koshas, it can be easier to classify and understand some things with the simpler 3 worlds model: Physical, astral, and divine. We can also call this earth, air, and heaven or physical, energy and causal.
The “Astral” groups the emotional (energy) body (prana or chi) with the mental body. The divine groups the deeper causal layers together.
The key distinction of the astral is that it’s full of a wide range of beings that are primarily self-motivated. They’re much like humans in that they act in their own self-interest. Some are in fact humans between lifetimes.
In the mix you get everything from guides working with the divine to troublemakers and manipulators. You also get the lost, helpers, those waiting for their next life, attention seekers, control freaks and so forth. You also have the various beings associated with nature and physical objects.
The last types are in hierarchical communities like the divine but are beholden to their non-divine leaders rather than the divine itself. Some are prone to be mischievous or have attitude about humans.
The divine, on the other hand, is a vast range of beings that are divine-motivated. I go into more detail here, but suffice to say they have the interests of the whole at heart and can be trusted. More basic ones will be less knowledgeable and may be inexperienced with how humans see the world but they will not be trouble.
You might have some idea that you can tell them apart by appearances. “Angels have wings”, for example. And don’t they have to earn them? These are cultural ideas, not reality. These beings exist in the same kind of space as your dreams. Are appearances in your dreams real?
Before you explore such things, you need a few skills: emotional awareness and energetic literacy. The first requires you resolve enough of your own incomplete experiences that you become conscious of your own feeling states. When you can name them, you can recognize feeling states in others – we broadcast how we feel all the time but many of us learn to keep that shut off as unsafe. At least consciously.
The second is a learnable skill based on reading energy or auras. It is also supported by the above. Note that reading energy doesn’t require seeing colours. They can be read a number of ways.
With some basic skills, we can both perceive and feel whatever arises and have a good sense of whatever being shows up. And because energy beings feed on energy, the less dark energy we have, the less interested in us such beings will be. Equally, the less unpleasant we’ll be for higher beings.
Of course, if we’re also aware of the behavioral tendencies mentioned earlier, we’ll be more alert to who they’re serving and thus what agenda is at play.
It’s also important to note that we’re not talking about perceiving a heaven in the sky or something somewhere else. While some beings do live in their own “lokas” or worlds, this is about what is already around us all the time. Those that share the neighborhood.
Many of us were somewhat aware of other kinds of beings when we were very young. Usually this was lower astral stuff, closest to the physical. Hence, kids will sometimes describe dead relatives or pookas and such. But as we shift into more defined individuality, we usually lose that. This is partly because we learn to mirror the energy states of those around us.
Similarly, if we come back to it, there can be a tendency to notice the lower astral first. Places like Spiritualist churches and mediums are often focused on developing skills there. Thus, what you get is dead relatives, not guides and certainly not angels.
My experience has been that it’s usually better to put that aside until things deepen further and the divine becomes apparent. The common tendency today to seek guidance from one’s “guides” is often done as an escape or abdication of self-authority or responsibility. They are here as our support team but normally support us from behind the scenes. Knowing you have that support can give you confidence but if they’re willing to tell you what to do, you’re not dealing with the divine.
This may seem a minor stumbling block but it’s become a serious issue in modern spirituality with many even very awake getting confused by this. Development in consciousness is not the same as development of perception. I’ve met several who have developed deeply co-dependent relationships that have basically taken over their lives. Yet there are not a lot of intervention resources for such things.
In any case, just keep in mind you were born into a human life for a reason. You’re not here to live elsewhere or spend your life socializing with non-physical beings. That will tend to get you stuck.
The lovely thing about spiritual progress is it naturally purifies and raises our clarity and energy. Becoming aware of the above, if we’re so inclined, is a natural secondary benefit. Just be sure you are informed and skilled.