Trance 2

  1. Describe your regular method of entering basic trance. (min. 300 words)

There are two main methods that I use, and it depends almost entirely if I am entering trance in a ritual setting or not.  Both methods include an aspect of controlled breathing as well as an auditory cue if possible.

My preferred method is to use some form of sonic driving to enter a trance state, and to maintain it throughout the duration of trance.  When doing this, I choose one of the auditory tracks I’ve used for this purpose in order to maintain continuity of the auditory cues my brain is used to.  The three types of tracks I use most often are either one of Harner’s 30 minutes drumming tracks at 240 beats per minute, or a complex drum track that is of a similar tempo (Fierce Tibetan Gods, of part of an African Percussion compilation), or an atmospheric type recording by Sigur Ros.  I’ve found that the straight up drumming tracks are the ones I’m the most successful with, especially if I’m in an area with a lot of distractions.  This is partly because I will have the sound continually playing to help maintain the trance (unlike the other recordings which may end after 5-7 minutes), as well as the fact that they include a callback beat to signal when the trance should end (Harner).  As the recording begins I begin focusing on my breathing and slowing it down to a comfortable and regular tempo.  As I progress deeper into the trance my awareness of my breathing fades and by brain locks into the sounds of the drumming, which will then seem to echo and morph, and eventually fade if a deep trance state is attained.  The drumming will remain in my subconscious if I’ve entered a lighter trance state.

While sonic driving is my preferred method of entering trance, it is not often the method that is used during a ritual setting.  During ritual, I again control my breathing and slow it down to a comfortable and regular tempo. Most often in ritual this is enough to put me in a light trance, which is all that is needed to complete the magical workings of a ritual.  There is the slightly woozy and disconnected from the world, yet connected to everything feeling that helps signify to me that I’ve entered a light trance.  Normally within ritual the only time I enter a deeper trance is when I’ve doing the work of the Seer.  In this case I’ve built in an auditory and olfactory cue to help me enter the state that makes interpreting the omens easier.  I take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering of bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens: 

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sounds and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter that trance state where that was possible.  The Pythia is the name given to the Oracle who dwells at Delphi and speaks for Apollo (Johnston 33-50).  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.

 

  1. Explain the use of trance in group ritual, including trance techniques including the Neurolinguistic Programming techniques of “anchoring” and “leading” in trance induction. Give an example of how you would script this use in ritual. (min. 500 words for the essay, 200 words fro the script)

Trance in group ritual can be a very powerful tool to engage the folk on the same page, and help to bring them all together in the same mindset, and thus allowing any energy that has been building to align.  This alignment of energies and purposes will help make the ritual flow more smoothly and make any magical acts that will occur more powerful.  Trance work in ADF ritual is most commonly seen during the Two Powers meditation, where the folk are connected to the powers of the realms, as well as to each other.  In this instance, trance is used to establish the group mind.

One of the ways group mind can be established through trance involves including aspects of Neurolinguistic Programming, such as anchoring and leading.  Anchors are some sort of stimulus that invokes a certain mindset.  The anchor will first need to be created and reinforced in order for it to be successful.  A successful anchor is something that is a unique stimulus and can be linked to a specific state and repeated (Ellerton). In the script below, the initial anchor is the body posture, specifically the part of the body posture that includes the cradling of the belly around the baby with the hands in the specific position described.  Other more subtle anchors are added in the initial step to continue to reaffirm the connection to the desired state.  For example, the instructions to “feel your palms on your belly” as a kinesthetic stimuli, and the feel and sound of breathing as well as the phrasing “take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, then exhale” continues to act as an auditory stimuli for this state.  As a visual stimulus, the script below includes phrasing such as “feel your roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.”  I think it’s important to include all three types of stimuli (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory) if possible, especially when you’re leading group trance experience.  You don’t necessarily know who is going to respond to what kind of stimuli, and so it because very important to make sure you’re reaching as many people as possible.

So other instances of anchoring lines that I have experienced included phrases such as “And now, Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye…” which for me is a very strong auditory anchor that ritual work is about to begin, and that I will be entering some sort of magical or religious state of mind.  There is also the common visualization of during the Two Powers of send your roots down into the Earth, and your branches up into the Sky.

Once you have established an anchor, the next part of a successful trance induction is establishing rapport throughout the trance so that the folk will be more likely to let their barriers down and follow the progression of instances that you are leading them towards.  This is most often done by allowing your voice to mimic the way they should be feelings as you establish their anchor.  Most of our trance work in ADF public ritual involves making sure that the folk feel comfortable, relaxed, and secure as they engage their minds to interact with the liminal state.  So, to lead them into this, you would modulate your own voice to mimic this relaxed and calm feeling.  Other methods include “mirroring techniques to match the person in terms of tone, word choice, volume, breathing tempo, and body language to form a rapid bond” (Knight).  This is most often done by speaking in calm, smooth tones, with frequent pauses to allow their mind to slow down as your words slow down, and by allowing the slow breathing patterns that you are requesting of them to also be the slow breathing patterns that you yourself are using.  In the script below this is reflected both where there are commas (which I placed to indicate a short pause for breath), and where the word “pause” is included (to indicate a longer pauses, about 3 seconds or so).

*** Script ***

(note: this script is intended to be used by pregnant women engaging in the Birthing Posture (Goodman), and is designed to allow them to begin to connect with their baby in the womb)

Sit or stand with your feet parallel and firmly planted in the Earth, about six inches apart.  Keep your knees slightly bent. Looking straight ahead, close your eyes, and relax. Rest your hands on your belly with the fingers and thumbs held close together.  Your index fingers are about two inches apart, pointing towards your navel, gently cradling your baby.  Hold your arms away from your body, elbows sticking out, with your shoulders back. Your posture is good.  You’re comfortable, smiling inside, and cradling your baby.  Let a feeling of calm wash over you.

*pause*

Focus on your breath.  Take a deep breath in, hold it for a moment, and then exhale.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.

Feel your body begin to relax.  Begin with your cradle.  Take a breath and feel your palms on your belly.  Exhale as you let the tension release from your hands and wrists. Take a breath and feel your arms extending out from your body.  Exhale and release the tension in your shoulders.

Now feel your spine extend from the base of your skull all the way down to your tailbone.  Take a breath and feel roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.  Now exhale and release the tension in your back.  Let it flow down into the Earth.  Focus once again on your breathing and feel with each inhale your connection to the Earth grow.  Feel with each exhale your tension flowing away.

*pause*

As your tension flows away feel this release also in your womb.  Feel your baby as she is given more freedom to move, as less pressure is placed on her.   Feel her tension lessen as well.

*pause*

Focus now on your heartbeat.  Feel as your pulse beats within your fingertips.  Feel as your pulse beats  within your belly.  Feel as your pulse beats within your chest.  Feel as your pulse beats with the Earth Mother.

Let your breathing relax as you focus on your heartbeat.  Listen to the faint beating within your ears.  Listen as this beating becomes louder.  This is how your baby hears your heart.  This is her connection to you.  She is soothed within your womb as you are soothed by the Earth around you.  Listen to the steady thump-thump, and feel that connection between the Earth, and you, and your baby.

*pause*

You tensions now eased, and a connection established, think now on the joy of your baby.  Think on the joy in her creation.  Think on the joy of her inside you now.  Think on the joy that she will bring into the world with her.  Think on the joy of raising her from infant to child to teen to adult.  Think on the joy that she will bring to all the lives she touches.

*pause*

With these joys in mind, feel them as a warmth growing between your hands.  Let this warmth pulse with your heartbeat, and with each breath grow stronger.  Let the warmth fill the space between your hands, spreading across your belly.

Now, let that warmth begin to seep down into your womb.  Let your joys fall across your baby so that she too can feel the ecstasy that she encompasses.  Let the warmth of outrun joys pulse through her as easily as your heartbeat does.

Feel the love, and joy, and warmth as it fills you and your baby together.  Spend some time focusing on these thoughts.  How do they make you feel?  How do they make your baby feel?

*210 bpm drumming for 15-30 min*

Begin to once again concentrate on your body.  Listen for your heartbeat, pulsing through you and your baby with love and joy.

*pause*

Feel your fingertips, warm now with that joy pulsing through them, as they gently rest on your belly.  Feel your arms as they extend out from your body.  Let your posture relax as you wiggle your fingers and toes.  Perhaps you roll your shoulders or neck, bringing yourself back to your body.

Take a deep breath and let this breath of the Mother rejuvenate you.  Exhale, and let the energy you’ve pooled within yourself seep back into the Earth.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale, coming back into yourself.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Let the last of the excess energy flow back into the Earth.

*pause*

Open your eyes and let your arms fall to your sides as you come firmly back to your body.

 

  1. Describe three experiences of trance. These trances must come from three different methods chosen from the list below: (min. 600 words for each experience)

b) Sonic Driving

Sonic driving is probably one of the most reliable ways I’ve been able to attain trance.  It is especially useful for me because not only does it align everything in my brain, but it also blocks out distracting noises that can pull me out of trance.  That being said, it is also one of the methods that I feel much more comfortable with when whatever it is I’m listening to has a callback beat, because it does hold me in trance so well.

For this trance experience I used Harner’s 30 minute double-drumming track.  I was slightly depressed going into the trance work, my husband was having a very moody day, and the baby had been cranky all day.  Needless to say, there were a lot of distractions vying for my attention.  It took me longer than normal to drop into trance. I stayed aware of what was around me longer.  As I listened longer, I began to hear bits of music or songs overlaid on top of the drums, with colors accompanying the sounds. This is not terribly unusual, but normally when it happens it feels more coherent.  This was more like if I were sitting in a closet with 4 separate concerts going on in the rooms around me.  I felt like there were words for some of the strains I was hearing, but I couldn’t pick them out. Other strains of music clearly didn’t have words and were just snatches of lyrical lines, here and there.  While all of this generally falls in the category of “trance work” for me, as I often begin to see colors alongside musical lines, it also generally falls in the pre-trance work state that I get.  That place where the world gets fuzzy as your brain hyper focuses on one thing, and then, like a black hole, folds in on itself and the “real” trance work begins.  This pre- stage lasted longer this time than normal.

When I did hit what I recognize as trance journey work for me, I was on the beach, which is not terribly unusual. I put my hands in the water as the waves rushed in and my hands tingled. When I pulled them out the skin was gone and they were dripping blood. It didn’t hurt or anything, I just didn’t have skin on my hands up to the wrists anymore.   It was like I was wearing gloves made of blood. There was a fire on the beach. I stuck my hands in the sand to coat them in grit and that hurt a lot.  I suppose much like you would expect if you shoved an open wound into gritty, dirty sand. Then I stuck them in the heart of the fire and inexplicably, that didn’t hurt at all.  It tingled again and when I pulled them out I had skin again but it was metallic, hard, and impenetrable. It was flexible like skin but obviously metallic and obviously impenetrable. It looked kind of like Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand in Harry Potter, except not silver.  It was a bronze color, like deeply tanned skin, and had a slight metallic sheen.  They still felt like my hands and still felt like I could use them in exactly the same way for everything. And the new skin still felt like skin, except soft skin. Baby skin. New skin.

Then I started to drift away and there was no more journey work. I was just sitting in the nothingness with the drums pounding in my head until the call back came. And the callback was more jarring than usual. Normally I need the whole callback string of beats. This time as soon as the drumming stopped I was jerked out of trance.

I did some follow-up on this one, looking into what different symbols might mean.  Open cupped hands represent innocence and the bare essence of your being.  So, part of my interpretation of this experience is that I have been blessed with the bare essence of myself and have received the blessings of the waters.  There is also some aspect of a cleansing and purification by fire in order to be made new.  Much like the visual concentration trance discussed below, I think this indicates some type of rite of passage or initiation.

d) Chant/Mantra

One of the tasks for a Bard in ritual space is to maintain the flow of energy.  When it is begin built up, it is important not to let any escape, and when a slow point in the ritual hits, the Bard can help to keep the energy from trickling away.  One of the best ways to do this is by including music, songs, or chants that will engage the folk and keep them participating in the ritual.  There is a certain trance state that happens when a Bard needs to be able to sense the energy patterns in a ritual and help to maintain and control the flow of energy.  It’s like throwing a lasso around the folk, where the Bard focuses on holding the energy that is built during songs and invocations within the bounds of the rite so that it can be used later in the rite.

At our Grove’s Imbolc ritual, there is a portion of the rite where energy is likely to flag.  First the waters are passed and quaffed, and then the Healing blanket is passed around to be recharged.  This is a lot of down time where the individual people at the rite are not necessarily actively engaged in the action.  As the Bard for the ritual in 2012, a large part of keeping the folk engaged fell to me.  In addition to being the Bard for the ritual, I also had the role  of calling down the waters and infusing the blessings into the waters. So, I was already in the mindset of holding all the energy in, and was already in a light trance state from that.

Following the Blessings was the working where we recharged the grove healing blanket and did healing work for a grove member and her mom, who had just had a horrible accident.  The working was especially powerful for me this time because I wrote the song we were using to build energy.  It’s actually the first song I wrote with guitar accompaniment, and yet still seems like one of the most powerful.  Perhaps because I wrote it while I was in that state and with that need.  It’s simple, easy to pick up, and can be layered with echo lines, counter melodies, and harmonies.  We just used the one section, rather than the whole song, in the rite, and I let the folk riff off the basic version as they felt moved to:

Let the rain wash away all your worries.

Let the rain wash away all your fears.

Let the rain wash away all your troubles.

And let the storm come rolling in.

 

Let the waves wash away all your heartache.

Let the waves wash away all your pain.

Let the waves wash away all your anguish.

And let the tide come rolling in.

 

Let this song wash away all your sorrow.

Let this song wash away all your tears.

Let this song wash away all your despair.

And let the harmonies of friends join in.

 

As I led the song, the healing blanket was being passed around, and I could see the flows of energy coming off people and bouncing against my lasso, so they would reflect back into the blanket.  As the song continued I began to hear bits of music and harmonies that weren’t there.  This is one of my usual indications that the magic is working, when I hear the whole choir and all its parts.  The strains of melody and harmony being woven together took on shapes and colors, and wove themselves into the blanket.  It all looked a lot like the introduction to Fantasia, where the narrator is explaining the different instrumental sounds and using visual stimuli to help.  I’ve experienced synesthesia-like trances before, but this was the first time it had happened with such intent and in a public ritual space.

f) Visual Concentration

This experience was a trance stemming from staring at a flame, which led to some divinatory revelations as well. It was kind of intense.  I traveled to the deep with Poseidon like I haven’t done for quite some time.  It started at Chenille, and most folks had already gone to bed.  There had been a fire in the fire pit, but it was burnt down to the coals.  I began to restart the fire from the coals, and as it was completely dark, the liminal space was amplified. I worked on starting the flames up again by breathing on the embers and carefully adding bits of kindling and wood.  Breathing on the fire is like taking breaths when swimming. Blow out, slowly and carefully, and then turning your head to the side to take another breath.  In water it’s so you don’t breathe in the liquid, and when coaxing a fire back to life it’s so you don’t breathe in the smoke.

Poseidon is so very powerful.  He has raw power and depth, and is very big, intense, and alien feeling.  You can’t control the ocean, and you can’t understand the ocean.  I work extensively with him, specifically for trance work, so going into a trance with him, and journeying to the depths of the ocean is not in and of itself unusual.  There is a release of control when I trance journey with him that intensely.  He is big enough to wash you away without even meaning to.  And when I experience trance with hi, it is not entirely intentional, it is still somewhat scary, no matter how much I have worked with him in that capacity.  It is nearly always magical from me when the deep trance with him happens.

After the flames were coaxed back to life I sat back on my heels and staring into the flickering light.  The trance began as I felt like I was standing waist deep on the shore with the waves crashing against me. And then the spray hit my face and I was suddenly at the bottom of the ocean in the deep dark of his realm.  That is normally my signifier for entering trance.  The spray of the ocean hits my face, and I drop into wherever I need to be.  As I hit the deep ocean, streaks of living fire cycloned around me.  There was the overwhelming presence of Poseidon almost vibrating around me, pulsing, sonar-like.  The tongues of flame solidified into a lantern shape and there was a distinct and sharp difference between the heat coming off the flame and the bone deep chill of the water.  Then as the lantern shape solidified further it was very obviously Phi overlaid on Zeta. (Phi is “having done something carelessly you will hereafter blame the gods” it’s taking responsibility for your actions. And Zeta is Zeus’s symbol. “Flee the storm lest Zeus destroy you.”) And that’s kind of terrifying.  I don’t normally see symbols when I trance, and perhaps that’s because I’m only just now getting them so deeply ingrained that they can comfortably appear.  There was a distinct sense of Poseidon needing me to see these overlaid symbols and understand them. But the danger and intensity that exuded from the lantern symbol was not his and not from him, but rather was a warning passed along, like something that he was sharing behind the back of another.

The general gist of the message seems to be that forewarned is forearmed.  It is extremely confusing though.  Does it mean that you must take responsibility for your actions, but then run from the consequences?  I feel almost completely blind with this vision.  Am I going to mess things up that bad?  Perhaps there is also an indicator that the message is from Zeus, as Zeta is his symbol.  It’s possible that this is the case, however that is certainly not the primary meaning of that symbol in this sense.  It may not be an immediate threat, but it is there.  I considered that the symbols could be an either/or situation, such as “take responsibility for your actions or you’ll anger the powers that be and have to run.” That could be the most likely interpretation, except that the symbols were overlaid, so I feel that they go together.  It is unusual for me to see overlaid symbols.

It’s also possible that the symbols modify each other. The overlay blends them into something different than the individual components.  Additionally, I feel like the lantern shape was also important, and the fact that it was made of fire, living fire.  Maybe it is a portal and the overlay symbol is the key.  Part of the message could be that I must travel through the heart of the fire.  My entrance to that trance world is through the lantern; access granted with the key.  The key could be Phi since that is what be traveled through.  And taking responsibly for your actions can also mean having a personal acceptance of it.  That this is the choice you had to make, and owning up to the fact that that was the chic you had to make.  Part of the acceptance could be that my actions must involve flight, and the flight may be through the heart of the fire.  And taking responsibility means sometimes you get burned. And you can’t endure the fire. You have to flee through it.  And fleeing isn’t always “bad,” sometimes it is just necessary.

An initiation of some sort, or a rite of passage, could make sense. Lanterns light the way. And a place of transition requires you to accept your past and leave it behind.  That’s feeling more right.  There’s still the intensity and vague sense of danger though. And the feeling that who is the message actually from is not Poseidon.  He is just the messenger in this sense and the original giver of the vision didn’t necessarily want me to see it, or at least not with this timing.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in ADF symbolism (e.g. Two Powers, Fire/Well/Tree, Three Realms, etc.). (no minimum word count)

Children of Earth, take a moment to calm your mind and body. Breathe deep and close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your own breathing. Hear your heartbeat thrumming inside you. Pause for a second and just listen.

***Pause***

See in your mind‘s eye where you stand now and picture yourself walking away from where you are.

You‘re walking towards a deep and old forest. Feel the cool, damp earth on your feet. As you enter the forest feel the cool autumn breeze brush your cheek.

Notice the sounds around you. A gentle rustling of leaves, perhaps from the wind, perhaps made by a squirrel bounding by. Notice the sunlight dappling across your face. A last breath of summer caressing your face, heartening you for the colder days ahead.

As you are walking deeper and deeper into the forest you suddenly come upon a clearing. There is a small pond in the middle of the glade surrounded by trees around the water‘s edge. One of these trees calls to you and you glide over to it. Place your hands on the trunk and feel the rough bark against your palm. Feel the ancient wisdom emanating from it.

Turn and place your back against the tree. Feel yourself sinking into it, becoming part of the tree. Feel your toes mix with the roots twinning down into the earth. Allow you mind to follow those roots and tendrils as they creep ever deeper, until suddenly they plunge into the cool deep waters far below the surface of the earth. Use the knowledge of the tree to pull those waters up through your roots. Feel them approaching you, up and up, until they reach your toes.

Feel the waters pulsing up through your toes and heels, moving up your legs and pooling in your groin. Feel them surging up into your chest and down your arms. Feel your branches swelling and cool waters seeping into your fingers, your leaves. Feel the waters rush up and fountain out the crown of your head, your uppermost branches and leaves, and come cascading back down into the earth to soak back down cooling your roots again. Having taken your fill, feeling replenished, allow those cool, dark waters to bleed back down into the earth.

Again feel the wind brush through your hair, your leaves. Feel as the sunlight shines down on you, brightening and invigorating you. Allow your leaves to take in that bright, golden light. Let it convert to pure energy and infuse your head and chest with light and energy. Let it saturate your branches and flow into your finger leaves. Feel as it washes down through your groin and flows down your legs and energizes you down to your roots. Having absorbed as much light as your body will hold, let the remainder reflect back off you, back into the sky.

Feel how the combination of the cool waters and the bright light mixes within your body. Feel how it mingles and brings a new awareness to every essence of yourself. Let your attention drift over yourself from your roots, to your trunk, and on up to your leaves.

Let a breath of wind catch one of your leaves and watch as it drifts downward to land fall lightly into the pond. Watch as the water ripples outward from this light touch. Allow your awareness to follow this ripple outward and see as it collides with other, similar ripples. As you follow those to their source you see that they also come from fallen leaves.

Now seeing all these leaves in the water creating ripples that touch and rebound off your own, you notice all the other trees surrounding the pond. Reach out your awareness and sense that these trees are all part of this grove. Reach out and feel that you are not alone in this glade, but rather you are surrounded by the warmth of your kin. You are all here together.

Take a moment and allow this feeling of togetherness and oneness to soak into your mind, your heart, your bones and your soul. Listen to the breathing of those around you. Your hearts beat as one now.

***Pause***

With this new realization that you are here among family, you begin to disconnect your self from the tree, just as all those around you do. Wiggle your toes and separate them from the roots. Wiggle your fingers and feel the leaves fall away. Roll your shoulders, allowing you to step out of the tree and once again become your own self.

As you now look around you see that while before you came to this glade alone, you now are leaving among friends. It is time now to turn away from the glade and walk back out of the forest. Listen, as before to the sounds around you. You can now hear the laughter of friends, and you feel now not just the warmth of the sun, but also the warmth of companionship. As you break out of the forest and head back towards your body here keep that feeling that you are now one with the people around you.

Now, step back into your body and take deep breath to settle yourself back in. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Now begin moving your arms and legs just a little as you feel yourself come back to this place. Here, among kinfolk, we may now move on with the work we have for today.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in Indo-European Mythology. (no minimum word count)

Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.

 

  1. Describe the process of creating your inner locale, the challenges and aids you experienced in the creation of this locale, and (optional) its appearance. (min. 1000 words)

I already had a basic image of my inner locale when I began working on trance work. It is the calming place I created when I was going through dialectical behavior therapy, and was a place that I could visualize easily. The purpose initially was to be able to see myself somewhere calming where I could think and not be stressed out by the fast paced world, and my triggers there.

As I began trance work, I found that I was starting there, and so I began cultivating it to better meet my spiritual needs. I begin by envisioning myself pressing my back up against my tree, a cypress at the edge of the pond, complete with roots bulging up through the soil, and let myself sink into the trees awareness.  As I connect to the powers above and below my vision of the mundane area around the tree fades and a gray mist or fog fills the peripherals of my vision, eventually pulling back to reveal my inner grove.  I have set up my inner grove to be essentially a starting point, or a jumping off point for any other trance work I may do.

I stand with my tree at my back, and it acts as a portal back to my body, only needing me to sit back down there to go home.  All around me are dry, meadow grasses, becoming greener around the edges of the pond, which is surrounded by a few other cypress trees and some reeds.  Also at the edge of the pond is my tree, and also now the tree planted there from the seed Nemetona gave me (see the write-up on this from Trance 1).  Additionally, there is a small fire, that while seeming too small to maintain itself, is clearly burning hot and strong.  Occasionally there is a girl, Hestia,  sitting in the flames, or maybe made of the flames.  Behind me a forest rises up, mostly of pine and similar trees.  It appears quite spares at first, but thickens the deeper one walks into it, and rising in the distance is a mountain.   If I traveled up that way, winding my way through the deer trails, I was likely to meet with Artemis. When Artemis is my guide, we start at the edge of the forest and as we walk into it, we approach the area we need to be, and she will again guide me back to the edge of the forest at the end of our journey.  My trance journey experiences that headed this direction tended to be transformative, and have roots within the real world experience I was struggling with. I would say that the take away from these journeys was most often a strengthening of myself, and a stronger resolve to know myself, and be true to myself.

Later, as I began working with Poseidon, another addition was made to my locale. As I walk out there is a plateau covered in the dry, meadow grasses and becoming sandy and rocky near the edge, where there is a drop off a cliff face, with a barely visible path down to the shore.  There is a small, rocky beach in the cove that is formed there, with rocks out just a bit, acting a breaker for the waves.  As the waves crash against them, a spray floats across the beach.  I walk down the cliff face to the beach, and sometimes as the spray hits my face I feel swept away, and others times I walk into the waves and am pulled out by the riptide.  When I’m working with Poseidon, his pull is stronger.  He is much more vast, alien, and huge than Artemis, and it has been much more difficult reaching an understanding of how our journeys are to work.  His awesome power led me to put a bell at the edge of the beach that dangles into the water.  When it is time for me to return to my body, the bell will ring and guide me back to land.  I added this bell because I found that I was having a hard time with a call back from trance, so by including a callback mechanism within my inner locale, I am better able to respond to the callback that happens externally.

Another issue that I found was happening during guided trance journeys that other people were leading was that because of the way my inner local is set up, it was too big for me to traverse the whole length of it and “make it home again” by the time they were trying to end the trance.  This left me feeling panicked and rushed all through the journey.  So, the way that I mitigated this was to put a series of gateways and ‘fairy rings’ through my inner locale.  Each of these gateways and fairy rings connects to all the others, and they allow me to quickly jump between locations that I’ve added to my inner grove.  This has helped immensely in making my trance journeys more relaxing, more rewarding, and more successful in general.

I also work with Garanos Crane to guide me on other journeys. When I leave with him we start from the pond, and he dives into it, and it becomes a kind of portal to other worlds.  This is most often the path that I take if I’m engaging in trance work for the purpose of journeying to an unfamiliar place, and/or with an unfamiliar guide (speaker).

One of the more recent additions to my inner grove is a wall of earth with a cave inset within its face.  There is a flickering light coming from within.  This part of my inner grove has grown stronger and more present the more work I’ve done with Hekate as a Gatekeeper and Guide.  I can now call on her, and see her, torches held high, ready to use the cave as a starting point for journeys with her. This aspect of journey work tends to lead me to both the Underworld, as well as to the liminal spaces where the gods are easier to hear.  This included work done with the Pythia and various other bits of oracular work.

 

  1. Journal for five months, continuing the trance work journal you began in Trance 1. Provide an essay based on this journal detailing how your experiences have affected your practice. (min. 1000 words for the essay)

Since I was completing the journal for both Trance 2 and Magic 2 at the same time, one of the things I found is that I began using trance intentionally in my magical and divinatory work, and it has played an integral role. I’ve found that in order to be in the best mindset to achieve the results I want with my magical work, I need to enter a least a light trance. This trance may differ depending on my location, if there are other people present, if the magical working is taking place in or out of a ritual context, and how complex the magical working is.  The deepest trance states I use in conjunction with magical work are done when I am in my own home, by myself, in ritual space, with a complex working.  If I’m going to go deep into trance I need to feel safe and comfortable.  This could probably be done around a few people who I trust as well, though that opportunity has not presented itself.  I am also more likely to enter a deep trance state for more complex workings because this will minimize distraction and help me to better focus my intent.  Additionally, I’m more likely to do a complex magical working within ritual space because if it is that important or that complex, I will probably be asking the spirits for assistance.

I also use trance when I am doing divinatory work. Having practiced more with the NLP triggers one of the things I’ve changed since completing Trance 1 is adding in the crushing of the bay leaf. Initially I was just saying the prayer and making an offering of the bay leaf. But I found that by crushing it as I offered it, it not only added another auditory and olfactory cue for me, it was also a cue that was unlikely to be replicated outside of that specific instance, and will thus keep the trigger strong (Ellerton).

When I do divination the first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

“Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.”

 I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sound and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter the trance state where that was possible.  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.  This intentional use of trance has helped to augment my divinatory practice.

I also use trance for magic when I’m writing bardic pieces.  Part of the Order of Bardic Alchemy work requires you to write a bardic piece in ritual space, with the intent to use it during ritual.  The Muses are my bardic patrons, and whom I work with most frequently when I’m doing bardic work.  I call to them for inspiration before I write, and often before I play, sing, or perform.  I decided the piece I would write would honor them, and give me an alternative method to call to them, rather than with a simple invocation.

After completing the devotional and making offerings to the Muses, I sat with my bard book open, staring at a candle flame. The words seemed to come excessively quickly.  I often describe the process of this ‘gift song’ as trying to catch the Awen with your pen, and funnel it down into something coherent on the page.  This was not my first experience with a ‘gift song,’ and like the others, the whole piece was written in probably under an hour: words, chords, melody, and all.  It required very little revision following the initial writing.  “Muses, Sing Through Me” is still the main way that I call to the muses before beginning bardic work.

I also use trance when I’m doing healing work, in order to focus the intent of the energy being directed, as well as allowing me to better visual the target when I’m working from a distance.  Most recently we performed a healing at a Druid Moon for one of our Grove members.  Paul, Missy, and I led the working, which involved everyone toning and focusing the healing energy through to the grove member.  We began by breathing together and then started the toning.  The regulated breaths that are required by toning, combined with the circular motions Missy was making with incense helped to drop me into a deeper trance.  Things seemed to slow and the sounds took on a synesthetic quality, seeming to thicken and color.  I focused on wrapping the grove member in the tones.  As we continued to work, I began to hear the overtones and harmonics coming out of the toning.  That is one of the cues that I recognize as an indicator that the intent is properly focused and the magical work is taking effect.  We continued for just a bit longer past the overtones, letting them fully sink in, before completing the work.  I was surprised to note that the Folk followed me in ceasing the toning, and then Missy tied up the loose ends with pretty words.

Another powerful instance of trance that was surprising to me was one that among other people, that I didn’t lead, and that had no journey script to accompany it. At my grove’s Gaimonios druid moon we had lit the three fires of Belenos, and for the working, took turns standing within them (at the center of all three) and being blessed by the fire of inspiration, the fire of fellowship, and the fire of sacrifice/blessing. Please note that MJD says “the juju works anywhere within the circle.” What he meant was, you don’t need to stand super close to the fires and possibly get burned.  I led the toning while we each took a moment within, stating our needs, and standing there. MJD warned that some people might be trancey, what with the fire and the toning and all. I wasn’t sure that I would be, but once I stepped within the ring of stones, it hit me. I slitted my eyes partially because it felt right, and partially to help with the smoke. With the sounds buffeting against me, I got that slightly woozy feeling that trance brings on. The fires around me seemed to take up my whole vision, and began sparking and flashing. I drew my hands up, pulling the fires warmth and energy, and pressed it into myself.  I had asked for focus and perseverance.  Another note regarding this trance experience was that I don’t remember the fires feeling warm once I stepped within the ring of stones.

One of the things I’ve noticed has improved significantly since my work in Trance 1, is that I’ve begun to really learn and catalog what my “tells” for me to be able to tell that I’ve entered trance. I know that my breathing steadies, and my center of balance seems to shift. Most often I feel like gravity has moved and I’m leaning heavily to the left or right. If I am doing trance work accompanied by sound of some sort, when I’ve entered trance the sounds seem to circle around me, meaning that the location of the noise seems to be moving around me. Sometimes there will also be other layers of sounds that get added in, whether overtones, or drumbeats, or harmonies, that flesh out whatever it is that I’m listening to. Oftentimes I will get a tingly feeling that runs from the base of my neck down my spine and arms. Less often, I will get a feeling similar to the beginnings of an asthma attack, where my chest seems to be constricting and the air seems thicker.   Visually, the world will first go black and then colors will shift and sway across my vision until they clarify into an image or series of images.

I have also grown better at drawing my line in order to have more controlled trances rather than often having the experience of being horsed. Part of this I think has come with the magical work I’ve done, and learning to use my Big Voice, and part of it I think has come because now that I have a dependent, I have more reason to have that line drawn, and more conviction when I say “not right now.” One of the things I’ve done to encourage this progression fit right in line with the Trance 2 work. I set aside time, at least weekly, to open myself to the spirits and engage in trance. I found that by practicing more on my schedule allowed me to feel more confident and get more out of the trance work. Not only do I have a better memory for the trance work now, but I’m also getting better at making interpretations of what I see.

The final thing that I feel is significant from this period of time is that I’ve experimented with different methods of entering trance, and have found that certain ways of getting there are more beneficial than others depending on the circumstances and reason for going into trance. After Trance 1, there were some methods that I wanted to experiment more with once I wasn’t pregnant. I did some more work with Body Postures and found them to be extremely useful with internal work where the intention was to give me insight about myself and the way my brain operates. I especially enjoyed how using Body Postures in trance could help me to regain my center and allow me to approach things with a fresh perspective. I experimented with auditory confusion, and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it, where others I’d spoken to about it absolutely hated it. I found it soothing and mid numbing. I experienced some of the physiological effects of trance. Most notably a dizziness and a strong tingling in my spine. Like when someone just barely brushes the hairs on the back of your neck. Other than that I’m slightly sleepy. I used Sigor Ros and Fierce Tibetan Gods as my music for the auditory confusion that was most successful.

All in all, trance work has definitely enriched my practice from many different angles. I have grown more adept at everything from magical workings, to divination, to liturgical work and leading or participating in rituals.

 

  1. Describe an experience of leading a trance induction in group ritual. (min. 300 words)

 At Wellspring, the advanced study students wanted to do trance together.  We had initially hoped that we’d all be able to do this together, however, the Norse-kin broke off and decided to do their own thing with the World Tree, so I then volunteered to lead a trance for the Hellenes who wanted it.  We got the kin flame, and calling Hestia, we lit it.  We were on the stage at the main pavilion, in the darkness except for the flickering candle light.  I had some extra candles, and so lit one for each person, and gave each person a bay leaf.  I instructed them to hold on the bay until the point in the spoken guidance where they would crush it, and to focus on the flame.  We would be ascending the mountain of Delphi in order to commune with the Pythia. I also set aside a flame and leaf for myself.  Once everyone was ready, I instructed them to get comfortable, listen, and focus on their flame, saying:

“Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.”

At this point I said no more, and allowed myself to also enter trance.  I had had to hold myself a bit apart during the spoken guidance, and especially during the crushing of the leaves, particularly since that is one of my own NLP triggers for trance.  I’ve found that the hardest part of leading trance is holding yourself apart from the triggers and the trance work so that you can do your best to make sure that others are safely entering and exiting trance.  It’s also important I think to be able to stay conscious of the time that you’re letting people journey.

With this trance, I was fairly confident that I could allow more time for folks to journey, since they were all practiced to some degree or another at trance work.  That is also why I allowed myself to enter trance, since normally I don’t if I’m leading because I don’t know how the folks will react.

During the silent portion, there were a  decent number of distractions, including the sound of people walking across the gravel, talking from folks socializing at different fires, the cold, and the bugs.  If there had been a drum available, I probably would have been drumming, since that works nicely to cover those distracting noises and gives the brain something to dismiss all noises as.

But as things stood, each person worked using the visual concentration of the flame to guide them.  I had success personally as the flame divided out and merged again, shifting and turning into shapes made of flame and shadow.  It was like watching a play staged in a shadowbox theater.

 

Work’s Cited

Ellerton, Roger. “Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts.” Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts. Renewal Technologies Inc, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://www.renewal.ca/nlp31.htm>.

Goodman, Felicitas D., and Nana Nauwald. Ecstatic Trance: A Workbook : New Ritual Body Postures. Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 2003. Print.

Harner, Michael J. The Way of the Shaman. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990. Print.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Knight, Lee. “Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5).” : Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5). Overachievers, 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://overachievercoach.blogspot.com/2008/02/establishing-rapport-pacing-and-leading.html>.

 

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