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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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I received notice yesterday that my IP Enrollment application has passed through the voting stage, and is approved! I’m very excited to start this new process in my Druidry. It’ll be a big step up from what I’ve done, both in intensity and study, but I’m oddly looking forward to the challenge (for the most part).

I’ll actually be doing an online ritual with my IP reviewer (Nick Egelhoff) this weekend, so that’s a fun way to get to know him for the first time. If anyone is interested, the Norse Kin is doing an ADF Druid Moon ritual on Saturday evening at 7 EST (6 central) on the ADF Google+ page, via the hangout system. Our trial run looks like it has a lot of possibility, and it’ll be set up so that people can hang out and chat with us after the ritual, and can participate at home as we do the work. It’ll be a ritual honoring Freyr, in his role as Frith-maker, to bring together the online community and build our presence online. (For those unable to come, it will be available on the ADF YouTube page afterward as well.) I don’t have a very big part, mostly because I got out-volunteered (and because I’m a new face to all the people involved), but I’m excited to be part of this, and hope to take a bigger part in future rituals.

I think my first course in the IP is going to be IE Language – for which I’m told I don’t need pre-approval on my book choices, so I can freely use the Anglo-Saxon textbooks that I picked up to complete the course. I’m excited, since I’ve wanted to learn Anglo-Saxon for awhile (years actually) and this will finally get me some experience with the language AND some ritual phrases I can use on a regular basis, I hope. I’ve always been fascinated with the language, since some parts of it sound so much like English and some parts are so clearly lost to the modern ear. I’m going to have to step up my reading time in order to make solid progress on this path, but that’s just a matter of scheduling, not of desire.

The Trance 1 and 2 classes still intimidate me, since I find trance to be so difficult. I’m hoping that following the process will lead me to a place where I know what works and what doesn’t work for me, trance-wise, but I also hesitate, knowing that I have some non-neurotypical issues (and medications) that can sometimes get in the way. I definitely meditate better without meds, but I’m not willing to trade off my quality of life for one skill. Where there’s a will, there’s a way though, and it may just take me trying a lot of different things until I get to a place of comfort working in Trance. My renewed practice of my mental grove has gone well, and I’m starting to add in the concept of the mists surrounding the area where I am sitting, to help me begin the process of journeying. My energy work in ritual has been good and solid, even in groups, so I’ve obviously gotten past whatever weird issues I was having two or three years ago (though I think I figured out what was causing that, and it wasn’t ritual energy).

Magic 1 and 2 should also be interesting, especially with my renewed interest in bringing more magic into my ADF rituals. Working in ADF’s format for magic will be new for me, but I think it will be a good exercise, and help me develop my own flavor of magical practice. I got started by doing some more serious ancestor work with my solitary Hallows ritual, and that felt much better – taking time, making individual offerings and having conversations with my specific ancestors.

There are four courses that require substantial journaling requirements for completion – Magic 2, Trance 2, Liturgy Practicum, and Divination 2. Sustained journaling will be something I likely upkeep on this blog, since having a weekly check in really helps keep me focused, but I haven’t decided which of these I’ll be tackling first. I’m inclined to say Divination, since I really want to be more proficient with Runes (more on that in a later post). I have considered doing some of my journaling by hand this time as well, but I know that’s harder for me to stick with (both because I tend to put off doing it and because I can’t jot off a quick post about what I thought while I’m at work).

I’ll probably end up having to set aside specific times during the week to work on this, though with the holidays coming up, that may be hard. Still, it’s the dark time of the year, and I’m always more into reading and study when the evenings are dark and cozy and I can curl up with a mug of tea and a notebook.  I’m not giving myself a time-bound goal of when I need to be done with the IP though. With so many long-term requirements that I am probably going to have to tackle one at a time (due to my schedule), I know it will take me at least 20 months just to get through those, and that doesn’t include the reading and studying requirements! I’m glad to have the support of the ADF Study groups to help keep me motivated though, and hopefully some readers here on the blog will help keep me on track if I get too bogged down.

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My first missed meditation journal entry since last October! Not a bad record, if I do say so myself. I did several longer meditations this weekend, including one focused on renewing the contact I’d previously had with Freyr. Controlling my anxiety levels has gone a long way toward making these meditations more comfortable, helping me to settle in and really focus. I know that every meditation is different, and that even when I’m highly anxious, sitting down to meditate is better than doing nothing (and in fact, can help a lot), but it’s nice to feel that my practice is “working” again.

A commenter mentioned in one of my journals recently that “judging” meditations is completely counter to the way that Eastern thought approaches meditation, and I think that’s definitely true.

It’s very hard to keep an objective journal of meditation and mental discipline progress without applying some sort of judgment to your meditations though. The goal of the DP is 5 months of journaling condensed into an essay that describes your progress and what you got out of it – a fairly critical difference from the Eastern thought that you shouldn’t be judging meditation at all.

I think there’s a balance to be reached between non-judging and carefully collecting and applying yourself to a practice with the intent of learning a skill. I think Druidry is placing a different goal before its DP students, one where the practice of meditation and the ability to enter trance states is considered a skill worth developing. Progress toward that goal requires at least some analysis of what is or isn’t working (so long as you give things enough of a try to get that data).

Still, I think it’s important to keep in touch with the idea of non-judging as well – you might be thinking critically about your meditation, but you can do so without making it “wrong” or “bad” meditation – just things that work better than others, or mind states that affect your practice differently. In a class-based situation like the DP, some measurements are necessary, but going forward, I think I need to be more kind with myself, and less judgmental towards the “bad days” that inevitably happen.

Hopefully that will help both with anxiety levels and with my not wanting to meditate for fear that I’ll have a bad day and it won’t feel “productive”. Any meditation time is better than no meditation time, and distracted, anxious meditation is better than no meditation at all. It all works toward the goal of training the mind, even if it sometimes feels like a step backwards.

I also think that support for Druids who continue to meditate AFTER completing the DP would do well to remember the non-judging side of meditation practice. That it can easily just be a practice for its own sake, and that it has value as such.

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Most of my meditation this week was of the “just breathe” variety. Things at work are fairly stressful, and I had a major screwup that caused one of my coworkers to have to cover for me, and it’s sent my anxiety through the roof. My job itself is not in jeopardy, it’s just not the best working environment right now.

So I’m leaning on my meditation practice to be a little safe haven to help think about something, concentrate on my breath, and let things go.

Sunday, however, I did a fairly extended meditation to have conversations with my Disir for Mother’s Day (after celebrating with my living mom on Saturday). I want to honor my Disir, and the group of women I’m calling my Prairie Godmothers (who are like Fairy Godmothers, only with wooden spoons instead of magic wands). These are my American ancestral mothers; the women who held their families together with grit and resourcefulness, who left their homes and came and made a new life for themselves and their families here (some on the east coast, some here in Texas). Some of them are from my own family, some from my husband’s, but I’d like to honor them and learn from them regardless. I made an offering of food (chocolate cake) and incense, and just sat in meditation/light trance to try to communicate with them. I didn’t hear anything definite, but I think it was worthwhile anyway.

Somehow I find it easier to connect to the women who came here to North America than I do to women who would have actually practiced something like Norse paganism. I guess I’ll just have to work my way back to them.

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Sitting (or lying down) meditation every day this week again, or almost (I may have missed a weeknight). I do these meditations at varying times of day, though most commonly in the evenings. I light cedar and sandalwood incense, do the two powers meditation standing at my altar, and then lay on the floor for 15-30 minutes and try to focus on breathing. I’m definitely feeling a good response (mentally) to the mindfulness parts of my practice.

I haven’t had any close encounters with Freyr (or Anyone else) since I started having some mental health troubles about three weeks ago. I am pretty sure these are related – though I am frequently talking to him, I don’t have the same mental space that I would usually expect to have for him to really speak up. (Also it’s possible that he just said hi, and is content to let me continue with my daily devotionals for now) Still, I’m working to get back to a more balanced mental state so that I can resume more focused meditations.

I am intending to do some focused meditations and ask to be introduced to the other Vanir at some point, but that needs to happen after I get some of my real life issues straightened out. While I can take some amount of comfort from my spiritual practice, I’m not in a place where I can really do challenging things right now.

As an aside – this post marks 5 months since I began journaling my meditation and mental discipline experiences. (My first journal entry was November 5, 2012, and today is April 8, 2013) I haven’t decided fully, but I think I may continue the practice of weekly mental discipline journaling. It both gives me some structured time to reflect on the practice and reminds me to continually think about what I can be doing to deepen my connections. Since this is both about my meditation practice and my practice of spiritual connection with the Kindreds, I think it’s valuable. I’ll be using these five months to write my mental discipline essay, but I think the journaling practice is a good one for me to continue, especially since I’m currently intending to pursue the Initiates Path after completing the DP, and that will require extensive journaling for the Trance and Divination requirements (at least).

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