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Trance Journal

Trance practice on hiatus this week, as I went on vacation to Isle of Palms, SC with about 25 of my family members. It was a huge party, and there was only so much time I could escape without getting dragged back in. (I have a big, stereotypically Italian-American family. We are extremely close. And loud.)

I did, however, get some meditation time on the beach, listening to the waves. There was not a lot of surf (which was odd), but it was enough to give me some nice quiet time. Also lots of walking meditation with my toes in the surf. Not specifically trance, but it was really relaxing. After some of the anxiety I’ve had recently with meditation, this was a nice change of pace.

Will get back to the actual trance practice this coming week.

Liturgy Journal

Total flop this week on the daily practice. The traveling, sleeping in a new place, not having really any alone time, really threw me off my game. I didn’t even remember to make offerings to the spirits of the place we were visiting (Isle of Palms, South Carolina). I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how easy it was to throw my practice completely off, and that I didn’t even think about it until I got home. I need maybe to make a traveling shrine so I have something to do while I’m traveling that will remind me to stay connected to the gods and spirits.

Trance Journal

Still working mostly on meditative trance this week, and looking for an audio track I like. It seems like white noise (or similar) is going to be best for me for maintaining a better focus and a deeper state of trance work. I did two trance journeys this week, both starting from my mental grove, and they felt mostly like “wandering” – I don’t think I encountered anything significant, other than that some of my spirit guides (specifically the brown and white rabbit) have been in and out of them a lot. Neither one achieved a particularly deep trance state, but I do think a light trance was maintained for both.

Began reading Ecstatic Trance: New Ritual Body Postures this week as well.

So far my best results have been with guided journeys that I’m finding on youtube (nothing particularly special, just exploratory nature things). I’m finding that I have a lot of anxiety in trance, so I’d like to start exploring ways to deal with that, without having to take meds for it.

Liturgy Journal

This was a “keep on keepin’ on” kind of week – daily practice most days, short weekend practice, and nothing particularly special going on. I’ve started making offerings to Thunor specifically to keep the rain away because I am so tired of not having a driveway (ours was torn out on May 24, and it is STILL NOT THERE because it keeps flooding).

 

Trance

This was a tough week for me mentally. There was a very very popular news article in discussion all over the internet this week, and I found it extremely hard to deal with, to the point of having to retreat from some of my online communities due to the anxiety I was experiencing. I expect this will continue until the news article goes away. (I have a therapist, and she is helpful, but PTSD is rough sometimes.) Also the ADF community is still experiencing upheaval, and that’s hard to be around, even if the discussion has been productive.

As such, this was a breathing week. Take breaks and breathe. I took lots of breathing breaks over the course of the week, and that did help. I couldn’t ever really settle into a formal meditation, but I definitely worked on “present moment focus,” especially as I still had to go to work while dealing with a troubled mindstate.

I did not do any formal trance experimentation, though I did explore some different electronic music for experimenting with trance later on. The artist Waterborne has an album called Tibet which combines Tibetan landscape and religious sounds (chimes, language, chanting, singing, street noise) with electronic music in a way that is mesmerizing to listen to. I found it to be very trance-like when I was just listening to it, so I want to try actually doing some trancework with it as my soundtrack. It isn’t 120 bpm sonic driving, but it does have rhythm and beat that I can connect to, and for some reason it doesn’t give me anxiety like the drumming did. I’ll have to see if I need to have it on quietly – so as not to be distracting – or if I need to put on my good headphones and drown in it, like I used to do when I did trance in college. (My guess is the drowning will work for creating a good trance state, but that I will have to learn how to journey from that place.)

As well, I want to do some experimenting around the newly “discovered” Spirit of ADF being that people are encountering in trance. (She is probably beyond my skill at this point, but I’d still like to see what happens if I try.)

Liturgy Journal

Copying in an experience from the first time I did this Liturgy Journal (back in 2014). I want to start bringing in some of those experiences, since they show where I started in all of this. Since this was a tough week, it was a very simple week devotionally. I’m still saying the Sunne prayer when I walk into the sunlight, and I’ve done my daily practice most days this week too. Weekend practice is still escaping me, even with the long weekend. I need to find a good way to “unplug” for my monthly clergy practice preparation as well.

I’m also wondering, having joined the newly created Sacred Fires SIG, if there is something I can build into my regular practice that will encompass some form of flametending without burning my house down. The Anglo-Saxons did not have a hearth tending practice that survived to be written down, so I think this will be all inspiration here. Frige’s position in the household makes her a good candidate for hearth work though. I already honor her when I am cooking and working in the kitchen.

As well, this is a good time to talk about my Prairie Godmothers – the ancestral practice I have that specifically works with my and my husband’s female ancestors who came to the United States and broke ground with their families, living on the frontiers. They’re like fairy godmothers, only they have wooden spoons. I honor them as the keeper of my household, and look to them for guidance and inspiration in housekeeeping and cooking and other domestic pursuits. They do not have names (that I know), but are kind of a collective of spirits who I work with for this specific task. I do not have a specific prayer for them, mostly I just chatter to them about the goings-on in my house and home, and try to listen for their wisdom.

Murphy’s Law of Wells

If:

  • You are already close to running late
  • Your well didn’t get water in it yesterday because you forgot to fill the cup
  • You do your devotional at 5:30 am before caffeine
  • You are trying to establish a regular practice but still get to work on time
  • Your well is a beautiful wooden bowl made of pieced woods in different colors that was a gift you can never replace

Then:

  • Your wooden well will have cracked along a seam in the bottom from having water left in it the last time you did ritual
  • You will not notice this until half the well has emptied out the crack in the bottom, soaking the entire top of your altar
  • You will be out of paper towels in your altar room, and will have to make a mad dash to the kitchen to get some
  • Your old ceramic well will be full of wine corks, which have no other place to go, so you will have to leave them in a pile on the counter
  • When you empty your old well, it will be full of cork dust, so you will need to wash it

And then:

  • By the time you finally get back to your devotional, you will have forgotten what steps you did and have to start over
  • Making you at least 10 minutes late getting out the door

Trance Journal

My books are here! I have picked up the following books to assist with this course (all used, hence the long delivery time).

  • The Trance Workbook by Kay Hoffman
  • Ecstatic Trance: New Ritual Body Postures by Felicitas Goodman and Nana Nauwald
  • Ecstatic Body Postures by Belinda Gore
  • Frogs into Princes by Richard Bandler and John Grinder
  • The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner
  • Tranceportation by Diana Paxson

Which is a big giant stack of books that is honestly a little intimidating, but I’m sure I’ll figure out how to use them. Ecstatic Body Postures was the first book to get here, and it has a bunch of fairly straightforward postural examples. I did a very brief trance with the “Bear Spirit Posture” (a standing posture, which is an unusual way for me to meditate), and while I didn’t feel particularly bear-like (or have mental images of bears), the posture was a comfortable one for trance. I think I’m going to like the body postures part of this experimentation process more than the auditory part.

I’m hoping that the auditory experiences I can have with things like auditory confusion or other trance induction methods will work out better than drumming did. I did a tentative “second chance” on the drumming CD and got the same response – I actually stopped the meditation due to rising irritation and anxiety.

However, I did find MyNoise.net – which has a TON of online mixed sound machines, and I did a little experimenting with those, and found they were at least good at producing relaxation, if not specifically trance states. (The laundromat track is surprisingly soothing and trancey.) Also, the Polyrhythm Beat Generator is particularly good for trance states that aren’t the “driving” feeling of a solid drum track. My favorite presets are “Rejoice” and “10/10” for pure confusing rhythms. Unfortunately they don’t run continuously, so they’re not ideal, but I think I can explore this further.

Liturgy Journal

What an awful week for practice. Wellspring was this weekend, and I thought that would mean lots of ritual time for me (in solidarity with my festival-going peers who are closer to Tredara than I am), and instead it was just one long string of “stuff” after another. I don’t think I got more than 10 minutes total in front of my altar this week – between home repairs and social commitments and all the usual stuff, it just didn’t happen, and I feel kind of crappy about that. I’m usually good at doing my devotions daily, and I just utterly failed at that this week.

My altar didn’t even get cleaned off until Thursday – so my well was dry by the time I got around to resetting everything. I do a weekly reset of my altar on Mondays – I wipe down the surface, fill the well, empty the incense burner, and generally make sure it’s well tended. It’s a good way to start the week feeling like I’m on solid footing with my practice. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. 

Study group didn’t happen this week either, due to bad weather (specifically street flooding keeping us all from being able to get to the coffee shop), and it just threw off my whole weekend.

I’m hoping this coming week will go better. I know that the times I don’t feel like praying are specifically the times I need to take time to pray. That is my goal for this week.

Also – I started testing out a tiny prayer to use whenever I step outside into the sun. It goes:

Hail to the glory of Sunne – at her rising, in her journey, at her setting.

Sometimes I end up saying it while sneezing (stepping out into bright sunlight often makes me sneeze), but it’s a nice little practice that I hope to continue.

Trance Journal

Still waiting on my books to come in, so I don’t have much new to report this week on techniques. I did, however, get a CD of drumming with a callback. The drumming is 60 minutes long, so what I did for my journey was count back how long I wanted the drum track to play for (in this case 20 minutes), set my mp3 player to the 40 minute mark, and then just let the CD finish out, 20 minutes of drumming and then the call back signal. Since I’m doing this on my computer, I set up my headphones and just sat in my chair, cross legged, and tried to relax and listen to the drumming for the 20 minutes.

It was actually exceptionally ineffective, either because I did it at the end of a work day, or because of the particular drum beat, or something. It was annoying to listen to, and I never settled in. Even trying to listen to the beat variations (the track is several different drums sounding together) didn’t get me anywhere. I had a better trance experience last week just meditating and visualizing my mental grove.

A bit annoyed, as I spent $16 on this CD, but I’ll give it a few more tries before I give up on it. I was really hoping the drumming would be helpful, and it just wasn’t. I actually think I felt more anxious, rather than relaxed or in a trance state, having listened to it.

Liturgy Journal

Did not manage to get my weekend ritual done this week, due to being out of town. I’m a little disappointed. My daily practice was fine all week long, but again got dropped over the weekend in lieu of traveling. (My twin niece and nephew turned one this weekend, so we drove to Waco to help celebrate.) The Druid Moon Cast also got rescheduled this week, which I was a little sad about – the telecast rituals are something I look forward to each month.

My daily practice still feels like it fits my lifestyle pretty well – I’d like to add more prayers throughout the day, such as a morning prayer to Eostre:

Eostre is the first of all to wake;
She tramples over transitory night
the mighty goddess, bringer of the light,
beholding every thing from heaven’s height,
the ever youthful, all reviving Dawn,
to every invocation She comes first.

I’m just not often up at the actual Dawn (Right now I get up around 8:15, to be at work by 9). Perhaps just a wake-up prayer would suit instead.

Even though I did the Liturgy Practicum 1 journal requirement back in 2014 (for the IP), I never turned it in, and I’ve decided to re-do the process over the next four months. As well, I will be combining it with my Trance 1 journal requirement (five months). Like I did for my Dedicant Path, this journaling will happen on Mondays, so that I can keep track of it.

Trance 1 – Question 9: 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. (min. 1000 words)

Liturgy Practicum 1 – Requirement #2: Documenting personal ritual practice: Keep and submit for review a journal documenting the development and observance of the personal/household worship customs described above covering a period of not less than four months, including one observance of a seasonal festival, such as one of the eight ADF High Days. Entries are to be not less than weekly. The text of individual prayers and longer devotional rituals should be provided as frequently as possible. Regular practices occurring less than weekly will be considered if they are documented as revivals or reconstructions of historically-attested observances occurring less than weekly.

Trance 1 Entry:

First week means none of my supplemental materials for this course have arrived yet – in fact, since I got almost all of them used, I won’t have most of them until the first week of June, since they’re shipping third class media mail. (Also, I really hope the one that came really well recommended was worth the expense – some out of print books are very inexpensive, and others… are not.) That said, looking over the list of acceptable trance practices, breathing is one of the options, and I don’t need any additional material to do that, so I went with that this week. I used the 9 step trance induction technique that Nick Egelhoff introduces in one of his videos in preparation for the Druid Moon Cast practice. It goes as follows:

Progressive Relaxation – the process of progressively relaxing each part of your body to facilitate a light trance state suitable for ritual. Good for a visionary/inhibitory trance state that is good for journeying. This practice involves counting up to nine, with a series of visualizations spent on each number as you progressively relax your body. As you move your thoughts/awareness down through your body, take time to think about and intentionally relax each area on each number. Then when you get to nine, hold your whole body in awareness.

  1. Relax your head (face muscles, skull, scalp) – while thinking “one” on each exhale
  2. Relax your neck, shoulders, and back – down your spine into the small of your back, while thinking “two” on each exhale
  3. Relax your arms (both arms) from fingertips to shoulders – while thinking “three” on each exhale
  4. Relax your chest (upper chest/torso) – while thinking “four” on each exhale
  5. Relax your stomach and abdomen – while thinking “five” on each exhale
  6. Relax your hips and buttocks – while thinking “six” on each exhale
  7. Relax your legs (thighs, knees, calves) – while thinking “seven” on each exhale
  8. Relax your feet – while thinking “eight” on each exhale
  9. Relax your whole body – while thinking “nine” on each exhale

To come OUT of this trance state, slowly count down from nine to one, breathing deeply, wiggling your fingers and toes. By the time you reach one, you should be fully aware and awake, with eyes open.

Most of the exercises in the Trance course seem to require at least 15 minutes of practice, but I’m still rebuilding my meditation muscles to be able to focus for that long. For this week’s exercise, which was a pure exercise in maintaining a trance state just to “see what happens”, I set a meditation timer for 15 minutes, lay on the floor (which is the most reliable way for me to get into a trance state), and settled myself into my mental grove, and just waited to see what happened. As usual for mental grove work for me (which is preparatory for journeying, but doesn’t actually involve a journey) various animals came in and out of my mental grove – this time it was mostly a rabbit, poking about under the giant arms of the oak tree in the grove.

The 15 minutes passed surprisingly quickly, but it wasn’t a particularly deep trance. I like this practice for starting to journey, and it’s one I’ve used in the past with good effect. I will be trying other exercises, of course, as part of this journaling experiment, but until I have the resources, this one seems to work well.

As with meditation, I get the best result from lying down, but I can manage if I need to be sitting up. Other things I’d like to try are drumming and other auditory trance cues, as I tend to respond well to sounds. I have an old iPhone that has the Drum Journey app on it that I can use, but I’ve also purchased a CD with a 60 minute drum track for this purpose (again, not here yet).

Liturgy Practicum 1 Entry:

This is a bit odd, as I’ve already essentially done this course, but doing it again won’t hurt anything. For my first week, I did my daily devotional practice (which happens on weekdays) every day. It goes as follows:

(Three breaths to center self)
(Light lamp)

Hail to you, Eorþan Modor – may I always be supported as I walk in your ways. (Touch earth)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The flame lights the way! (Bless lamp)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The well flows within! (Bless well)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The tree spans the world! (Bless tree)

Let us pray with a good fire! (Light incense)

Hail to you, Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn. Hold fast these gates that I may speak into the worlds. (Open gates with hands)

I make offering to the gods.
May their power be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the ancestors.
May their wisdom be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the nature spirits.
May their blessing be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

The waters support and surround me
The land extends about me
The sky stretches out above me
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless me.
May my worship be true
May my actions be just
May my love be pure
Blessings and honor and worship to the holy ones.

Mighty, Noble, and Shining Ones, thank you for your blessings and your presence.
Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, thank you for keeping fast the ways. (Close gates with hands)
Eorþan Modor, mother of all – thank you for upholding me always. (Touch earth)

(Three breaths to center self)
(Extinguish lamp)

I’ve recently added the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper to this practice in preparation for the Clergy Student Discipline requirements, which (among other things) are about working with those two beings in preparation for ADF priesthood. As such, I thought it would be appropriate to honor them in my daily rituals.

I’m still working the kinks out of a weekend ritual to do each week, and I have a ritual script that I’ve used for awhile for monthly retreat weekends, but I’m not super happy with either just yet, so I’ll be working on those as this course progresses. I’d also like to add in an evening devotional that I can do as I get into bed at night.

As of this morning, I have officially completed ADF’s preliminary program that leads up to the First Circle of the Clergy Training Program. All of that coursework is now posted here (apologies for the post spam, but I figured the only way I’d get around to posting it was all at once).

My next step, once my coursework is reviewed and I am marked complete for CTP-Prelim, will be to submit my intention letter and to allow the Clergy Council 2+ weeks to review my work and determine my eligibility for the Clergy Training Program. I will post that letter here once it has been approved (I imagine there will be some discussion about it).

Huge thanks to all of you who have helped me out with this, and been patient while I took a year sabbatical from my own studies to start Nine Waves Protogrove. I wanted to finish this in six months, and – minus the year off to start a protogrove – it took about eight months of active work to complete the Prelim courses. While it’s not the way I imagined this going, I’m very happy with how things worked out.

The First Circle of ADF’s Clergy Training program contains eleven courses, one of which I have already completed (from when I was pursuing Initiation) – Divination I is already posted here. For the rest, I have:

  • Discipline 1
  • Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice
  • Ethics 1
  • Crisis Response
  • Ritual Mechanics
  • Liturgical Writing 1
  • Indo-European Myth 2
  • Bardic Studies for Liturgists
  • Magic 1 for Priests
  • Trance 1

Trance 1 and the Liturgy Practicum course both require journaling, which I may post here just as an accountability for keeping my journaling practice regular. I actually already completed Liturgy Practicum, in 2014, but since I switched study programs, I never finished the course, so I will be re-doing it.

I’m really excited to have completed this step, and looking forward to moving on into the first circle of training.