What is a trance and how do I access the Otherworlds?
When I first started on this path, I was all in. Everything or nothing. And the first thing that I learned was ‘what is a trance and how do I access the otherworlds?’, as it is the only starting place to begin to practice Shamanism.
So what is a trance? And what is a journey?
Trance (Noun): a half-conscious state characterized by an absence of response to external stimuli, typically induced by hypnosis or entered by a medium.
This definition is from the Oxford dictionary. Essentially the entering of a trance is willing oneself into a semi-conscious state. In this state, our brain activity drops from alpha, to beta, then finally into theta (similar brain activity as sleeping). It is while the body is in this state of being that we are able to let go of our physical body and roam the cosmos through the driving force of intention.
The entering of trance is used in many different cultures around the world. Not all of them use the same method though. The most common method is using the drum, rattle, or other percussion instrument. Many cultures use plant medicine, such as Ayahuasca in South America, the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in Siberia (Who also use drumming and dancing), dancing (fondly named trance dance), and marijuana in Ancient India, China, and Greece.
In core Shamanism, in which I actively practice, we use the drum to enter trance. The monotonous beating of the drum lulls the drummer and those around them into the trance state (though, when doing a healing, it is important that the client stay in their body). In this trance state the Shaman is able to contact their spirit guides, the higher self, even to create and destroy. It is a wild place, the otherworlds, but it is beautiful and ultimately benevolent.
Now what is a Journey? According to the Meriam-Webster dictionary, a Journey is "something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another."
Once we are in our trance state, how do we initiate the journey? Intention and a little bit of imagination. In our child-like soul, we have the exact formula to do this, we need only remember. Imagination is the ignition to start the journey. Intention is the steering wheel.
Many of us start off in a place in nature. Where we feel connected to the earth and to all of nature. It doesn’t have to be a place that exists in the physical world either, it can be of your complete creation. Then from there we find a cave or some other path down into the earth and follow that to get to the Lower World (Refer to the “What are the three worlds?” post for more info), or we climb or some other method upwards to get to the Upper World. From here is generally when the journey takes hold and it’s no longer your imagination.
Though sometimes it is not necessary to initiate the journey this way anymore, the veils between worlds is starting to thin (we will do a blog post about this at a later date).
The journey, for a lack of better words, is the experience. Many people have heard the saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”. Well if you look at it shamanically, this quote is absolutely true about a lot of things, not just what we are talking about.
If you look closer at the process, it is made up of 4 parts that cohere together and create a vehicle in which we call a Shamanic Journey. These parts are:
- Trance- This is the body of the vehicle, the wheels, and engine.
- Intention- This is kinda like the steering wheel. Your intention directs the vehicle.
- Imagination- this is the ignition. This starts up the Journey and gets things moving.
- Journey- This is the Experience. The windows of the vehicle, if you will.
This etheric vehicle is what drives you through the otherworld and gives you the ability to access and exit the otherworlds.
As a quick side note too, the Otherworlds, is also known as the Dreamworlds in many cultures around the world. This is because, just like a dream, a journey will fade unless noted properly in a journal.
Okay, okay, so this wasn’t exactly a long post, but if you want more information on it and you wish to learn, I recommend “Shamanic Journeying: A Beginners Guide” By Sandra Ingerman. She includes a CD with Drumming recordings for you to practice at home. If you want to learn the more advanced techniques, I recommend find a Shamanism Practitioner that is teaching in your area and take classes.
May you go in Love and Light,