Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trance 1


1.  Define the following terms in your own words: "Trance," "meditation," and "hypnosis." (min. 25 words per definition, dictionary definition does not count toward final word count.)
Trance:  a sleeplike state (as of deep hypnosis) usually characterized by partly suspended animation with diminished or absent sensory and motor activity (Merriam-Webster). Trance is a term that I have always identified as a deeper level of altered consciousness where you are able to explore your internal emotions and thoughts, while still being influenced by the world around you.   From my experience, trance is similar to meditation, but seems to be more disconnected from consciousness.
Meditation:  the act or process of spending time in quiet thought (Merriam-Webster).  Meditation is a method of altering your consciousness in order to relax and clear your thoughts. It allows me to still my mind and be aware of my consciousness, which also helps me make connections to the world around me more easily.
Hypnosis:  a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject (Merriam-Webster).  Hypnosis is a term that describes the process of accessing an alternative state of mind through the guidance of another person.  Hypnosis allows you to manipulate different parts of your mind and can be used to change behaviors or access deeper levels of consciousness than can normally be experienced.


2.  Give a brief history of hypnosis. (min. 300 words)
Hypnosis is a form of altering your consciousness that has been around for millennia.  In ancient Greece, people who were sick would go to healing “sleep temples” dedicated to Asclepio, the god of medicine, and would use a form of hypnosis for healing (Wikipedia).    Sleep temples also served a similar function in India, working as a place to heal the sick through hypnotic suggestion. Ibn Sina originally wrote about hypnosis in his book “The Book of Healing” which was published in 1027.  He referred to it as “Al-Wahm Al-Amil” and says that a person could “create conditions in another person so that he/she accepts the reality of hypnosis” (Dip).
Hypnosis in its modern form was first established by the work of Franz Anton Mesmer, an Austrian physician from the 1700s (Ehrlich).  He called his practices “animal magnetism.”  He believed that the fluids in the body being blocked by obstacles caused illness.  He would invoke trance states in his patience to “achieve harmonious fluid flow” and heal their disease (Encyclopedia Britannica).
In the 19th century Dr. James Braid began using the term “hypnotism” to describe the processes we know today. He discussed this practice in many papers and brought the term to life.  Braid defined hypnotism as “a state of focused attention and nervous sleep induced by i) suppressed respiration and ii) fixation of the eyes or of the mind upon some object” (Braid 25).
 Hypnotherapy continued to rise in popularity in the mid 1900s due to a psychiatrist named Milton H. Erickson who used hypnosis in his practice to treat patients (Ehrlich). Erickson experimented with hypnosis in many ways throughout his career.   He used these experiments to develop a number of techniques to invoke a trance-like or hypnotic state in his patients, including the use of confusion as trance invocation, and a handshake induction where a behavior, such as a handshake, is interrupted midway when it typically doesn’t have a stopping point (Wikipedia).  Erickson also experimented with the limitations and abilities of hypnotic suggestion to determine what could and could not be affected by hypnosis.  In one article, Erickson discusses “hallucinatory color vision” which was a phenomenon where he used hypnosis to create color-blindness in a patient (Erickson). 
From that point forward, hypnosis began to grow in popularity, especially as a therapeutic tool.  In 1958, both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure (Ehrlich). Today, it is frequently used to treat chronic pain, and as a deterrent to bad habits, such as smoking. 

3.  Describe the ethical issues surrounding neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis. (min. 150 words)
            Neuro-linguistic programming is defined as “a system of alternative therapy intended to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to model and change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior” (Oxford Dictionaries).  This practice claims that it is possible to use trance along with hypnotic suggestion to make changes to the thought processes or behaviors of a person. Through the use of NLP, it is potentially possible “describe any human activity in a detailed way that allows you to make many deep and lasting changes quick and easily” (Bandler and Grinder 6).
Neuro-linguistic programming has many critics, especially in the world of psychology.  Many view NLP as “either a mild form of hypnosis at best, or a form of low-level brainwashing at worst” (Gold).  The ethical concern with both hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming is that you are manipulating the way someone else’s mind works.  This level of vulnerability also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the participant while they are under hypnosis.  It’s these types of situations that make having a standard ethical code even more important.  Ultimately, I have to agree with Jean Woodall and Danielle Douglas who wrote that tools like NLP “are potentially dangerous tools in the hands of those with little training in humanistic psychology, and a superficial acquaintance with professional ethics” (Douglas and Woodall). 

4.  Identify and describe three instances where trance is found in ancient Indo-European cultures. (min. 150 words each instance)
Greece
            In ancient Greece, people who were sick would travel to “sleep temples” like the one in Epidaurus.   These temples acted as a place of healing, and were often built in honour of Asclepios, the Greek god of healing (Wikipedia).    In the temple, the ill person would use chants, meditation, fasting, sacrifices, or other means to enter a light trance.  The “healing dreams” they received were then interpreted to determine the proper method of treatment (Hoffman 10).
            The Oracles of Delphi also used trance in order to receive their messages from the world around them.  The Pythia, or priestess/prophetess, would sit on a crack deep into the ground and receive visions that were said to be oracles of the future. This trance would put the oracle into a state of ecstasy until her message had been passed along to another priest would interpret the unintelligible language she spoke (Luck 37). However, typically during this time period, this type of trance work was only allowed within temples under the supervision of a priest. 
Norse
            In Scandinavia, there was a type of magic that was practiced called “seidhr.”  This practice involved the use of “visionary journeys” by its practitioners (Wikipedia).  The Saga of Eirík the Red describes the visit of an oracle to a farm. Upon her arrival, the woman was asked to foretell the future of the community.  In preparation for her divination, the oracle ate a meal made up of the hearts of farm animals while a cushioned seat was setup for her to sit upon and give her prophecy (Blain 31). The villagers asked her when she would be able to answer their questions, and she told them she must sleep in the chair until the next morning before she could give them their answers. 
The next day, the oracle asked the villagers for women who “were acquainted with the lore needed for the exercise of the enchantments” (Trans. J. Sephton ) but no one came forward.  These chants were an important part of her divination ritual, so the search for participants continued until they found one woman who knew the songs.  With a bit of persuasion, the woman joined the circle of women surrounding the seer, and sang the lore chants, allowing the diviner receive the omens for the village.
            While this story does not specifically speak of a trance, the information that is included makes me believe it to be an instance of trance being used.  The participants used specific preparation techniques, including specialized meals and a specific seat type, along with the ritualized chanting.  Any one of these things could have been used to induce a trance, and combining the three could have easily invoked a trance in the seer in order to allow her to divine her messages for the village.
Celtic
Trance was something that was practiced frequently in the divinatory rites of the ancient Celts.  They had several different types of trance that were used for different types of divination.   One incantation, known as “Cétnad,” was used to track the path of stolen belongings.  This chant was sung through the fist until an answer was received or the diviner fell asleep, where they believed they would gain the knowledge through their dreams (MacCulloch 249).  Another method of trance that was used for divination involved obnublation, or “mental cloudiness” (Merriam-Webster).  Through obnublation, the seer would fall into a heavy sleep and “things magic-begotten were shewn to him to enunciate” in his or her sleep (MacCulloch 249).  The seer was then asked questions and would respond in euphoric yelling, which was interpreted by the other participants.
The most well known type of trance work from the ancient Celts is called “taghairm”.  In this practice the seer was wrapped in the hide of a sacrificed cow. They were then taken to a cave or other desolate location and from there they were supposed to receive dreams or visions.  They expected that contact with divinity through the hide would produce enlightenment (MacCulloch 249-250).
Overall, I find the similarities and differences between these cultures and their use for trance quite interesting.  All three of these cultures managed to find ways to use trance in their divinatory work, yet each of them did it in a very different way.  It’s one more area of ancient Indo-European culture that seems to have a large amount of crossover in practices and beliefs. 
5.  Describe three ways trance can be used in personal spiritual practice. (min. 100 words each)
            Throughout this course, my understanding of the word “trance” has definitely expanded greatly.  My personal definition was previously quite narrow, viewing all trance as “ecstatic” work.  I now realize that while trance journeys can be a very effective experience, there are also many other uses for trance in personal practice.
Meditation
            Meditation is the primary way that trance has become a part of my personal practice.  It has become a useful tool, both in my spiritual practice and in my every day life.  I have used meditation for many years as a way to distress when I feel overwhelmed, and to focus when my thoughts are running too fast.  However, I have also learned to use meditation to focus in order to prepare myself for a ritual.  It allows me to explore my own thoughts and emotions on a deeper level. It also helps me to feel connected to the energies of the world around me.  
Trance Journeying
            Trance journeying is a way that I have been able to build relationships with the Kindreds, and further explore my own psyche.  Using guided trance specifically, I have been able to make connections to deities, nature spirits, and my ancestors, which allowed me to foster relationships that I otherwise would have missed, including the work with Hecate you see below.  These trance journeys paint a visual image in my mind’s eye, and walk me through the experience, while giving me the time to receive any messages or visions that I am supposed to receive, allowing me to interact with the Kindreds.  This type of trance journey allows me to connect with the divine without the normal distractions from the outside world.  It also allows me to explore parts of the cosmos and my own mind that may not have otherwise been available.
Divination
            People have used trance work for divination practices for a very long time.  Different cultures used trance for divination in many different ways, but the persistent use of it across different Indo-European cultures shows just how useful it can be.  By using trance for divination, it allows me to make a stronger connection to the world around me, to feel those energies and receive messages that could have been missed.  Typically, I only use a light trance invoked by breathing slowly and deeply for a short period of time.  It opens my thoughts and perceptions to the Kindreds and helps me to interpret the messages I receive from them. 

6.  Identify and explain three methods of attaining a trance state. (min. 150 words per method)
            There are many different methods of attaining a trance state.  The three that I have used most successfully are: sonic driving, chanting, and visual concentration. 
Sonic Driving
            Sonic driving involves the use of a steady drumbeat to help invoke a trance. A monotonous drumbeat can help change your state of mind, with the drum acting as a “carrier wave” to help your mind move into a trance state (Harner).  I have used a few different methods of sonic driving in my personal practice.  The first sonic driving that I experienced was a large drumming circle at a retreat.  There were numerous drummers circled around a fire.  I could feel the beat of the drums in my core, resounding in my body.  I began to sway with the beat while focusing my vision on the flames of the fire.  I quickly found myself fading into a trance, which deepened as the drumming continued. 
            I have also used several different recordings to obtain a light trance, both for my spiritual and mundane practices.  I have used recorded sonic driving to do divination, or to prepare myself for ritual.  I have also used it during work hours when I was having difficulty focusing in order to do the tasks that I needed to do. 
Chanting
            Chanting is a type of trance that I find most useful for magical working. Chanting involves speaking a specific word or phrase to focus attention and attain a trance state.  I used chanting in my Enochian magical practices while exploring the Tablet of Union.  I would perform the ritual, settle myself into a comfortable position, and begin chanting the name of the being that I was trying to build a connection with.  As I chanted, I would feel myself fading into a trance until my words stopped involuntarily and the visions or connection would happen.  This form of trance was very deep for me, and allowed me to have very vivid experiences with the beings from the Tablet of Union.
            I have also used chanting to invoke trance as a form of prayer.  I will chant my message to the deities, either asking for guidance or giving my praise. I chant a small phrase repeatedly, often while in a prayer position.  Similar to the Enochian magic work, this allows me to attain a trance state and create a connection to the deity or being that I am reaching out to.  
Visual Concentration
            Visual concentration has been an interesting way for me to experience trance.  I have tried several forms of visual concentration, each with different responses.  In another experiment with the Enochian magical working, I used visual concentration by focusing on a mirror that had been painted black while sitting in a candle-lit room.  As I focused I felt my mind begin to drift again into a trance as visions began to appear to me in the mirror.  However, I never felt like I was experiencing the trance but more witnessing it from the outside, almost like the visions were “trapped” in the mirror itself.
            I also used visual concentration to build my connection with Hestia.  I was working to build a relationship with her as the goddess of the hearth and home.  I have a candle from the Hellenic Kin intended for flame tending for Hestia.  I used this candle as my focal point after doing a ritual and making offerings to Hestia.  As I focused my vision on the flame, I found myself remembering the different fires in my life: the camping fires from my childhood, the hearth flame on my first altar, the community fire at my first ADF festival. This light trance warmed my thoughts and helped to build my connection to Hestia in a very different way than many of the other types of trance had, but it was a very pleasant experience overall.

7.  Using one of the three methods described in requirement 7, describe in depth a single experience you had while in the trance state from an experiential point of view (i.e. what did you feel, see, sense, etc.). (min. 300 words)
During the week of October 6th, my partner and I decided to connect with HCOMA, the essence of water from the Enochian Tablet of Union. Water is the element I am the most comfortable with, so I was very interested in this experience.  We did a brief purification of the space and I sat myself in the corner of our ritual space.  As the room filled with the scent of our incense I began to chant the call to HCOMA, asking her to come forth into the space.  
Before I realized that my words had stopped, I found myself standing on a rocky ledge the ocean. The water was crashing against the rocks and spraying me with mist when HCOMA appeared.  She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen with a dark blond/light brown hair and flowing blue gown that seemed to be part of the water. Her eyes started out as a deep ocean blue, and then it was as if a storm rolled in and they changed to a misty gray.  In her eyes, I watched the storm fade away and they turned the deep green of a swampy pond. The scenery behind her was also changing constantly. While we started on the cliffs near the ocean, we were soon standing in the forest as the rain fell around us.  Then we were sitting in the lake where I grew up.  The vision transformed into me jumping into puddles as a little kid, and then again as an adult with my son. 
I began to speak to HCOMA, asking her basic questions about who she was.  I asked her how she sounded, and was overwhelmed by the sounds of running water, splashing waves, and thunderstorms.  I asked her how she smelled and my nostrils filled with the scent of an ocean breeze, then a fresh spring rain, and the smell of my grandmother’s humidifier from when I was a child.  I asked her how she felt, and felt a splash of water in my face followed by a deep wave of emotion.  When I asked her what she needed/wanted from me, she told me that she wanted to help me cleanse myself of my anger and to be able to feel refreshed and clear. She approached me, and as her hands touched my face, I felt the waters surrounding and embracing me. 
As she retreated, I was filled with so much joy and gratitude that I could barely speak.  I thanked her the best I knew how as she retreated again into the rushing waters behind her.  I then found myself again seated in my spot in our ritual space, feeling a sense of renewal while also feeling and emotionally blessed and exhausted.

8. Describe what happens to the body during a trance state from a physical standpoint. (min. 300 words)
            While it is challenging to find scientific studies that explain the effects of trance on the physical body, there is evidence that types of trance, including meditation, may have a positive impact on your physical well being.  Kay Hoffman says that there are numerous benefits to your physical well being caused by using trance including reduced tension and stress, a more active recovery system, increased perception, increased stamina and rhythm, and gaining self-confidence (Hoffman).   
Neuroscientists have studied the brains of monks during their meditation practices to see the brain activity and try to understand the effects of meditation on the body.  Practiced monks showed “a dramatic increase in high-frequency brain activity called gamma waves during compassion meditation” which shows an increase in higher mental activity (Begley).  This type of response implies that mental training may possible bring about higher levels of brain function. 
In my personal practice, typically when I begin to do an intentional trance (i.e. not just zoning out), one of the first steps I take is to relax the muscles in my body and sit or lay in a comfortable position.  This relaxation reduces the tension in my body and can lower my heart rate. I then take several deep breaths in and out.  Using deep breathing lowers my blood pressure while also delivering extra oxygen to my body.  This extra oxygen improves brain and muscle function.  I begin the trance work once I begin to feel relaxed and content.  
            Overall, I know that I feel different after I do trance work than I did prior to it.  I often feel more relaxed and refreshed.  I also feel more connected with my thoughts and emotions.  However, I have no scientific way to prove those changes and can’t guarantee they aren’t caused as a placebo because I believe there should be a change. Nonetheless, I do notice a difference in my body before and after, so that alone makes a large impact on me.

9.  Keep a journal for five months detailing the trance work that you have done. Write an essay based off those journals that examine 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)
            My journey while exploring trance has been interesting and unexpected.  I’ve learned many things about myself and the path that I want to take moving forward, and for that I am grateful.  I began this journey driving twelve hours to attend the Midnight Flame Festival in Michigan. We had decided to make the drive overnight, and originally intended to share the driving duties between the four of us that were going.  However, as the trip began it became clear this was not the case.  As I drove across the dark plains of Iowa, the rain began to pour.  I made the decision to persevere and drove through the storm.  I listened to my breathing and focused on the roads ahead of me.  I could hear the rain splattering on the windshield and the steady rhythm of the windshield wipers.  I could feel the thunder rumble through the skies and see the flashing lightning across the sky.  It was along this drive that I received the notification that I had officially been accepted to the Clergy Training Program.  My mind wandered to the work ahead. By the time the rain stopped, over six hours had passed, the sun was rising above the horizon, and I felt like it had washed away my doubts about the path I was supposed to be taking.  It wasn’t trance work that I had expected, but allowing myself to focus so intensely on driving energized me in an amazing way. 
            The following week I decided to explore some trance journeying, travelling to the realm of the ancestors to give me the opportunity to acknowledge those that came before me.  I started a sonic driving recording and sat in a comfortable position as I visualized myself sinking through the ground into the realm of the dead.  I was able to visualize my ancestors standing before me, and gave them my praise and gratitude.  I returned to this realm, sad at those I had lost but thankful that they are a part of my existence.  I continued using sonic driving to pursue my trance work for another week, using trance as a way to focus my attention while I was at work.  Using trance in this manner allowed me to feel more energized and focused.
            At this point in my trance journey I began a practice in Enochian magic in order to explore the beings from the Tablet of Union.  I spent the next ten weeks working through this tablet using a combination of visual concentration and repetitive chanting to invoke my trance.  These workings were done with my partner, which gave us the ability to compare and contrast our experiences and allowed us to explore the symbolism on a deeper level. To begin the work we would purify the space, light our candles, and do a brief Enochian ritual to prepare us for the trance work.  Incense was lit and as the room filled with the light smoke I would settle in to my corner of the room and take a few deep breaths to calm and settle my body.  Upon the altar we have a blackened mirror that is used for our visual concentration. I would focus my eyes on the reflections and shadows in the mirror and begin chanting the name of the being of occasion.  I could hear my voice echoing in the room, as my vision seemed to fall into the mirror itself.  When I first began this journey I would catch a short vision, almost like it was swept by on a breeze.  The visions began to evolve, filling the mirror itself like they were being shown on a television.  By the end of the ten weeks I found myself experiencing them with multiple senses, being able to see, hear, feel, and smell the things I was witnessing in my vision.  As I felt myself begin to return from my trance I would pull a tarot card to receive an omen from the working.  Doing the divination during trance made me feel more connected to the world and I believe it helped me to better understand the messages I was receiving.
I was incredibly pleased with my work and the progress I was making with this practice, but I decided that it was time to explore a path that seemed more appropriate for my Clergy work.  I follow a Hellenic pantheon, so my next project involved the exploration of the Greek deities that I had not previously made a deep connection with.  These trance practices were done during the “workings” section of ADF Core Order style rituals that were dedicated to the deity I was trying to connect with.  I began this journey with Hestia since she was the first and last deity honored by the Greeks. With her I once again returned to visual concentration as my method of attaining trance.  I have a Hestia candle dedicated to keeping her flame that was gifted to me from the Hellenic Kin.  I focused my vision on this candle, and allowed the visions to come to me.  I found myself remembering important fires from my past, camping, community, and so much love. 
The following week I did a similar ritual dedicated to Gaia, the earth mother, with results that were a bit less clear.  I realized that the visual concentration for Hestia worked so well because of her association with fire in my mind.  At that point I decided to try to build trance work for each deity that seemed fitting for his or her “personality” or style. 
The next deity that I decided to contact was Hermes, who is who I typically use as my gatekeeper.  I decided to step away from the visual focus and used a guided meditation to meet Hermes.  This meditation was based upon the Samhain 2011 ritual from Sassafras Grove.  This work helped me to build an image of Hermes in my mind and to feel his presence.  It also gave me time to listen for messages from him and to try to express my gratitude to him for all the aid he has given me in the past and my desire to continue working with him in the future.
The following week was Yule, and I dedicated my weekly practices to Helios.  I decided to try a new method of trance induction, using yoga-style body positions. I once again began by taking several deep breaths.  I then raised my arms out to my sides, palms up toward the sun, and focused on the warming energy of the sun above me. I envisioned the sun shining down on me, and then pulled the light to my core and slowly moved my hands into prayer position.  I once again envisioned the warmth entering my heart.  I was filled with love and warmth, and overcome with the amount of love I felt I was receiving from Helios.  I then raised my arms straight above my head, and envisioned the light of the sun shining down between my hands, into my head, shining light into the dark corners of my mind and allowing the brightness of the world to shine through.  I envisioned Helios smiling down on me, and allowed his glorious light to fill my thoughts.  I then slowly leaned forward, bending until my hands were touching my toes, allowing the light to flow from my head, down through my body until it reached my toes.  I then stood back up and leaned into powerful pose, where I slightly squat and raise my hands above my head once again.  In this position I envisioned the light and warmth of Helios flowing through my body, clearing away negativity and bringing light to the dark corners.  I then released the light back to the sky, returning the gift of love and warmth to Helios, knowing that he was in my heart and watching over me.
The following week I did a self-hypnosis trance to connect with Hecate, which is found in its entirety in question twelve, along with my response to it.  Hecate is the goddess of the crossroads, so connecting with her at the start of the new year was powerful and moving.
For the first week of the new year I focused my trance work on Zeus, using drumming to attain my trance.  The steady drumming beat seemed to replicate the sound of thunder and I could feel the vibration in my core.  I focused on the sounds and my breathing, and soon could smell the rain in the air.  As I began to feel myself falling into a deeper trance my drumming wavered, causing me to lose focus and back out of the trance. I tried again later in the week using a recorded drumbeat and it worked much more effectively for me. 
For the last few weeks of trance work, I continued to work through the Greek pantheon.  I returned to visual concentration by focusing on a peacock feather to connect with Hera.  I put the feather in front of a fan, which caused it to move slightly.  I had never worked with Hera in the past, so I was unsure what to expect.  She is often portrayed as being hostile or at least less than friendly, so I didn’t expect a loving reception.  However, I was pleasantly surprised with my interactions with her.  She came forward to me with as the goddess of family, very supportive and warm.  It was not the interaction that I had expected as a follower of Athena, but I was very pleased.
The next week, I worked on chanting prayers to Athena.  Athena is someone that I have built a connection with since I was a child, so the working with her is very easy.  I reaffirmed how important she is to me, and I definitely feel like she is accepting of my exploration at this time, which doesn’t surprise me but is a nice comforting feeling to have.
 I then decided to explore a slightly different type of trance work, using sensory deprivation in a large tub of water, to connect with Poseidon.  This experience was very interesting to me.  Sensory deprivation was something I had never experienced before, but it allowed me to have a more full body experience than I’ve had in the past, I think because there was less outside input.  I could hear the water in my ears, and the sound grew into crashing waves.  I could smell the mist in the air as Poseidon approached. I could hear his voice in my head as we communicated, and feel the breeze on my skin.  Somehow by taking away all sensory input I was able to experience more.  However, this was the first trance experience I have had that left me feeling more exhausted than I was when I started.  It was interesting, but I think that it’s much too draining for me to do with any regularity.
Each of these trance workings allowed me to make connections with the deities and to understand the role they have always played in my life, even when I didn’t realize they were there. It’s been very eye opening to me to realize just how many of these deities have been present with my throughout my life without me being aware of their presence.
Throughout the past five months I have experienced many different types of trance.  I have had emotional, deep trances that I truly feel have changed my outlook of the world.  I have also had experiences that felt like complete failures, yet I know every occurrence has allowed me to learn and grow.  I have used trance in magical workings to explore the world of Enochian magic. I feel that it opened my senses to experience a different type of cosmology and worldview and allowed me to interact with beings that I may not have otherwise be able to connect to.  I also used trance to better my divination skills.  I feel that using trance to perform divination allows me to connect to the energies of the world and also gives me the opportunity to better interpret the messages that I receive as my omen.  I’ve used trance to connect with deities I’m familiar with, and to build new connections.  I’ve been able to access my ancestors.  Overall, I think that my experiences with trance allowed me to build a much different understanding of the world around me, and allowed me to build new relationships that will be beneficial to my personal practice, and to comprehend relationships that have always been present but unknown to me.  While trance is something that is still a challenge for me at times, I now understand that it is an incredibly useful tool to be able to use.  

10. Create a self-hypnosis tape to put yourself in trance and go on a spirit journey and bring yourself back out. Submit a script as well as a summary of your results. (min. 200 words for the summary)
Script
(For the purposes of this script, a pause lasts approximately 3 seconds and a long pause will be approximately 6 seconds. A very long pause may vary in time, but needs to be at least one minute long.)
Take a moment to make yourself comfortable.  Sit on the ground and adjust until you feel content and relaxed.  Take a deep breath in (pause) and exhale as you close your eyes.  Take a slow breath in (pause) and exhale slowly (pause).
While you continue to breath deeply, allow your body to relax, releasing the tension from your head and shoulders (pause), from your arms and hands (pause), from your chest and torso, and finally from your legs and feet (long pause).  Allow that tension to flow away from your body as you relax into your position as you continue to breath slowly and evenly. (pause)
In your mind’s eye begin to see a dark mist filling the space around you.  Watch it grow and expand around you, until the fog surrounds you completely (pause).  Now, through the mist, see a small yellow light shining in the distance.  Watch it approach, growing larger and brighter.  (pause) Now, see the light break through the mists, revealing a shining lantern glowing through the darkness.  You now stand at a crossroad, with many directions ahead.  (pause) As you look back toward the lantern, you see a robed figure holding the lantern and silently watching from the shadows.  She begins to approach you and meets your gaze.  This is Hecate, glorious goddess of the crossroads and guide to those who are lost on their path (pause).
Hecate continues to approach you, her brilliant lantern bringing light to the otherwise dark path (pause).   Ask her to show you which fork to take, and to help you understand which path is right (pause).  Ask to see the signs so you may know the ways again when you next find yourself here (pause).
The goddess looks at you and extends her hand with a smile.  Take her hand and follow her through the darkness toward the place where many paths meet (pause). Listen to her words in the darkness, and let her show you the ways and how to find them (long pause).
Looking down each road, see the many possibilities and fates that lie ahead (pause).  Understand the potential of each path, and the opportunities that each one may hold (pause).
As you near the juncture of the roads, Hecate leans close and begins to whisper her guidance to help you find the path that is right for you.  Listen to her message, meant for your ears only, and follow her words (very long pause).
It is now time to return to our realm and return from the crossroads.  (pause) Let Hecate guide you back to home, watching the signs along the way so you can return (pause).  Thank Hecate for meeting you at this place, and for providing you guidance along this path and listen to any parting message she has for you (long pause).
As she turns to walk away, the mist begins to roll back in and fill the darkness (pause). The light from her lantern grows smaller and dimmer in the distance (pause) until it fades away completely. Find yourself again sitting, relaxed and comfortable (pause).  Begin to wiggle your toes and fingers (pause).  Take a moment to settle back into your body (pause) and open your eyes.  (pause) Welcome home!
Results
            I was honestly quite skeptical about using self-hypnosis, or guided trance with my own voice.  I’m the type of person who really dislikes hearing my recorded voice, so I expected to have a level of discomfort throughout the experience.  I was pleasantly surprised that after the first few seconds of annoyance, I quickly found myself lost in the words and forgot it was me saying them at all.  In addition to this meditation, I also did a full ritual with Hecate as my being of occasion to better my relationship with her, and I think the results overall have been positive.
            I began the work, sitting on the floor in front of my altar in a darkened room.  I listened to the words as I relaxed my body and focused on my breath.  I could soon see the light coming from the fog coming toward me.  Hecate’s appearance wasn’t shocking to me, because I’ve always been decent with visualization, but the other sensory experiences were intriguing.  I could smell the dew-like fog in the air, and the slight burning sent of the lantern.  I could hear the footsteps we took along the road.  The many different pathways I saw also took me off-guard.  Some of them are paths that are dark and frightening, potential people I could become in the future, while others were joyous and light.  Hecate told me that all of these paths were possible from where I currently stand, and that only I have the power to chose and control which one I go down.  She told me she was there for guidance, and to help light the paths along the way, but ultimately she couldn’t tell me which path was “right”.   Returning from the journey, I felt relaxed and successful, knowing the potential of the future and understanding that I’ve reached a good place.  I also feel like I built a bond with a deity that I hadn’t worked with in the past, and that alone is a beautiful feeling.
Greek Oracle Omen:
Beta      -- With the help of fortune you will have an assistant, Apollo.
Xu         – There is no good to be gained from an angry young man or woman
Lambda -- Blessing in disguise



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