The following is an account of my continued work with trance as part of ADF’s Trance 1 course, advanced studies towards Initiate status. I’ve decided to share my personal experiences on my blog as a way of accountability. If some of my reflections happen to help others on similar journeys, I hope they share!
Since I last posted, I’ve been doing a few different things here and there. I continue to maintain my daily devotionals, and often try to work in short visualizations into it, specifically when I do the Two Powers meditation and shield. The practice has evolved since I started working through Trance 1. I see the waters below me and the sun above me. I let those energies flow into me, feeling the coolness and warmth. Often, I see myself somewhere that I’ve actually experienced the Two Powers at once, such as while swimming in the St. Lawrence River or Star Lake. I then let those energies combine and turn into mist. Sometimes the mist is colored, and I just take note of what color(s) it becomes. Sometimes I choose a specific color to help me with the day. I then move into my Druid Egg shielding exercise, visualizing the colored mist flowing out in the directions specified, and solidifying into a protective egg shell that lets positivity in, but refracts negativity. This is one of those practices that I need to remember when writing my essay about using trance in magical workings.
Peace before me.
Peace behind me.
Peace to my right.
Peace to my left.
Peace above me.
Peace below me.
Peace around me.
Peace within me.
From there, I then visualize the mist swirling wider and wider as I inhale and exhale. It envelopes my whole home and everyone within it. I pray for protection in my home, then move into making offerings and prayers of gratitude for the Kindreds. Although this has evolved, I actually started to shield a couple years ago after a negative experience with a co-worker. Ever since I started beginning my days in this way, I find that I am more positive and happier in all my interactions. I sometimes “renew” the shielding if I have a stressful day.
Something new for me this summer, sometimes I do a moving meditation in the backyard using yoga techniques. It’s based on the work I did at Star Lake a few weeks ago. While I don’t have a body of water to commune with at home, I instead focus on the moisture in the grass and soil around me when I do child’s pose. Then, I work my way into a sun salutation and focus on the warmth and light of the sun shining down upon me. From there, I do a tree pose, fixing my gaze on a tree ahead – usually a birch tree. This always seems significant when I do it at the beginning of the day since birch represents new beginnings. It’s still a work in progress, but I really love the way in wakes up my body and engages my mind. I become really focused on the Three Realms and my access to them when I do this moving meditation. It does become trancelike in some ways. I would like to do it more often, and I wonder how it will evolve as the colder season moves in. Like my shielding, it puts me in a great mood for the rest of the day.
I’ve also been working through The Trance Workbook: Understanding and Using the Power of Altered States by Kay Hoffman. It’s a bit different from The Way of the Shaman by Harner in that it’s meant to be accessible to people regardless of religious or cultural affiliation. I know the Harner book is technically meant that way as well, but it is obviously heavily influenced by his experiences with South American tribes and their worldviews. As discussed elsewhere, I had to put it down for a bit because the exercises started to feel like appropriation, and I really needed to reassess my approach. I do intend to finish reading it, but if something makes me feel uncomfortable, it’s important that I stop and evaluate the reasons and whether or not I should engage.
Anyway, the beginning of The Trance Workbook contained some thought and word association exercises that I really did not like, but I pushed forward. I did the “Conscious Confusion as a Healing Trance Technique” as found on page 28. It involves viewing one hand as negative and the other as positive, then bringing them together to feel a sense of completeness. Going into it, I thought it would be really silly, but it was actually interesting. As I slowly brought my hands together, I focused on cultural associations with the right and left hands, then my own. I did this both physically, but also in my inner grove with my spirit guides around me. I did not use any drumming this time around, but it was part of a ritual, so the mental cues and incense stimulation was enough. It was easy for me to get into this trance and then work with my hands. As I brought my hands together, I thought of how my left hand was not negative, but it was very supportive of my right hand, the leader hand. The right hand, while dominant, cannot easily do many things without the left, supportive hand. I felt a sense of completeness in that, realizing that I’m constantly shifting back and forth between leadership and supportive roles, and that’s just who I am. The omen I drew for that particular ritual was the ogham alder. Interestingly, according to Ian Corrigan, that symbol means both leadership and support! It was very affirming, and I reflected on that experience for the rest of the day.