Trance 1, Requirement 10
(Crossover Requirement) Keep a journal for five months detailing the trance work that you have done. Write an essay based off those journals that examines your practice over the time you journaled. In this essay, explain how you can apply the trance work to divination, magic, and other workings you do in ritual and personally. Entries occurring less than weekly will not count toward completion of this requirement. Your journal must include work from the exercises found in the support material for this course. [This requirement matches up with
Req. 3 in Magic 2] (min. 1000 words)
This essay comprises the first half of my Trance journal (part 2 is in Trance
2). During this time, I worked on all nine of the trance exercises provided in the support material. It seems best if I work through the journal by category.
It should be noted that I began this sort of work several years ago in 1996, beginning with D. J. Conway's odd Oak, Ash, and Thorn, following into Harner's reasonable The Way of the Shaman, and finally moving on to Felicitas Goodman's excellent Where the Spirits Ride the Wind.
- Sonic Driving
Sonic driving is the first form of trancework that I ever worked with, and it is my most common method of deliberately inducing a deep trance. I began my trance
journal by trying this alone.
Over the years, I've gotten to know the uses of sonic driving intimately, as the connection between audio stimulation and sinking into a deeper state is clear. The use of sonic driving alone is something I have actually found very useful for entering a light trance without being so deep that I can't do other things at the same time. I find it an excellent way to clear my head.
I have taken to using sonic driving on its own when I am working on ritual or Grove-related things. While working out the Grove's Druid Moon Rites, for instance, I had the drumming on my stereo constantly, and I believe that a lot of the power of those rituals is due to the light trance I was in while writing them.
- Auditory Confusion
I was fortunate to get to try this form of trancework at Summerland on August 24, 2007. Here, Kirk and Leesa, who are both excellent, smooth readers, sat on either side of me and began to read passages from different books. After a few moments of getting comfortable, I found that my head started to "thicken" and become heavy. My lips eventually began to vibrate, along with my gums and teeth. I would occasionally focus on one voice or the other, with Kirk being the stronger voice of the two. Soon, though, I was able to center and focus on both at once. I felt my mind separating out the two voices, and following both at the same time at some points, while at other points, the voices cancelled each other out. I also felt myself becoming very hot, and very sweaty, even though it was a really beautiful day out.
I had no visual experience with this trance form, but I felt myself go very, very deep reasonably quickly. While this has helped me less in magical areas of my life, it has been very helpful in situations were I used to function very poorly, such as in loud rooms or when there is a television on nearby. I can now deal better with distractions following this experience, and I look forward to trying this again next time.
- Body Postures
Ecstatic Body Postures are something that I have loved for a long time, ever since I was
privileged to do a workshop with Felicitas Goodman so many years ago. For this section, I have stuck entirely with the postures outlined in her book. I worked with three distinct postures during the time this journal covers: the Singing Shaman, the Bear Posture, and my own Fire of Piety trance.
The Singing Shaman trance involves both posture and sound, which makes for an interesting combination. In general, the "singing" tends to create vibrations deep in the throat that don't seem to match with the force you're exerting on your vocal cords. There is a certain connection with the world around you, as well as a deep, ancient longing that is experienced.
The Bear Posture is equally powerful, and the time we did it at the Midnight Flame Festival as a group, I got the chance to show a wide variety of people what the experience was like. The drumming was slower than is usually required, but folks still found a commonality of experience. My own experience involved an eye opening, a horizon I couldn't get to, a heaviness of body, and a very vibrant world of colour when I opened my eyes. Because I had to lead this trance, I was constantly concerned for others, but I still had a very visual experience.
My Fire of Piety trance involves kneeling with the hands cupped above and below the heart. After a few minutes of either breathing control or drumming, a fire can be felt between the hands, connected to the heart.
- Trance Journeying
As part of the Clergy Order, I have done a great amount of trance journeying, usually with Ian leading, but also on my own. With the Clergy Charm providing the basic framework and the signposts, I find this generally easy to do. The content, of course, is private, but the initial steps in this trance can be found here:
Entry 1 | Entry 2
- Dancing Trance
I have a couple of years studying and participating in Native American dancing under my belt, and I utilized that experience here. This form of dancing, as I learned it, involves a simple 4/4 beat, while the feet move in a simple motion. The knees stay bent and I have always danced with my shoulders hunched forward to slower beats. The most common perception here is one of heaviness and an almost involuntary desire to continue. There is a point where the pain of the action goes away, similar to what runners call being "in the zone" or getting their "second wind." I've experienced similar feelings with ecstatic postures, but it's different when movement is involved. This sort of trance does not get very visual for me.
This sort of trance has been very helpful to my magical work, though, because it has shown me how to deepen my level of trance in both magic and ritual without having to sit still.
Probably my favourite trancework involving a chant or mantra is "Fotomecus." This entity is a servitor created by a collective of Chaos Magicians who is designed to mess with time in creative ways. Most often, this chanting sort of trancework is done on long car trips, or during the day at work, where I find that I can slip into a trance and time will mutate depending on what I feel I need. In other words, in the altered state of consciousness this mantra provides, I perceive time very differently.
This is one of the trancework exercises that has had the greatest affect on my ability to do magic: it helped build confidence, and it showed a demonstrable effect (to me) of magic on the "real" world.
- Visual Concentration
Rather than the candle suggested for this ritual, I have come to use the dawn as my focal point for this sort of trance work. This worked in very nicely with many of my sunrise rituals, and I found myself focusing strongly on the dawn and discovering previously unknown wells of inspiration that I could draw from. I have begun to write while I am watching the sunrise now, because watching Usas rise from her bath has lead to many mornings where I am unconsciously writing hymns to her.
- Breathing Trance
This is the kind of trance that I use in everyday ritual and magic. Before each ritual, I take a moment to breathe and count my breaths in order to calm myself, and to put myself into a mental state that is more conducive to ritual and magic. This happens every morning and night, and before every major ritual I do. It is a simple, light trance (I have not spent a great deal of time in silence, just watching my breath, to see how deep it goes), but there is no faster or simpler way to slip into a light trance to work magic or center yourself quickly.
- Combination Trances
I have combined the dancing trance with mantras (I remember some old Delaware Indian songs to go with the dancing), which led to a feeling of deep resonance within me, as well as a feeling of never actually leaving the earth, even though I would pick my feet entirely off the floor with each step. I also often use a light breathing trance before going on any sort of trance journey, such as the Clergy Order work: I find it easier to get into the
journey if I am already partly in trance. I also combine the visual concentration
with a verbal mantra most mornings, which sinks me deep into a trance of awe at Usas' blushing emergence.
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