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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.

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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.

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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.

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