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)
I decided that a weekday would be best for doing my trance-work, simply because my weekends get too hectic between Grove and Kindred events (among other things). It was easier to pick one day during the weekday to reserve for this purpose.
My trance-work started out in the spring during a fairly hectic time in my career. Work was insanely busy, I was working long hours with no over-time, my boss was taking advantage of my dedication and I was really feeling run-down for it. Perhaps this was the perfect time to start to do trance-work for my mental health, as well as for training my mind and body to take control in times of stress and need. My hope was that this would also strengthen my mind for chaotic times as Clergy, whether it is through crisis’, or keeping energies where they need to be in ritual.
The first 3 weeks worth of meditations were fairly uneventful. I was able to do my usual struggle for the monthly clergy journey to the mound. My personal trance-work however, was not very successful, simply because I went into it without a purpose, and I went into it silently. Doing silent meditation was my first initial goal and test to see how successful I could be at it, since it was always the hardest and least successful for me.
To change things up a bit, over the next 5 weeks I decided to try a guided meditation through “The Calming Collection”. I was in the process of switching jobs, so I felt like my stress level was going to decrease and I was going to enjoy keeping myself calm and motivated.
Guided meditation is another method I dislike because most of the experiences I’ve had are with inexperienced individuals attempting to create a script from memory and instead just creating a bucket full of awkward words strung together in a poorly-written story. So I decided to try a professional. Unfortunately, my results were still not that great. They were certainly improved. I felt a lot more calm, I was able to focus more, and I even felt like I had reached the next level of trance in that my brain was starting to reach the level of calm that would allow me to experience a deep calm.
After several of these alternative meditative attempts, I decided to go back to my usual routine that has more of a success rate.
The next 4 weeks were spent doing weekly meditation through listening to drumming on a CD. I picked rhythms there were simple and repetitious without singing, and allowed me to simply listen to the rhythm and focus on that instead of all of my thoughts and concerns. These were pretty successful and I felt I was able to reach a level of deep personal trance that I was unable to attain previously. My only issue with this method is sometimes I start to dance along with the rhythm, or I start to picture scenarios appropriate to the music (think movie scenes). So while not 100% successful, it will do in a pinch when I am unable to take a drum with me. Compact meditation right here.
My final and preferred method of trancing out and meditation is through actual physical drumming. The repetitive movement and sound that I create through MY own brain and where MY subconscious wants to go is far more successful for me and what I enjoy the most. It forces my mind AND body to focus on the same rhythm, and it’s my rhythm. It’s the beat coming from me allowing me to focus and remain calm.
When I was being brought to the mound for the first time, Caryn asked Ian to drum for me. She did this because over the many years we have done work together, she knew hands-down that this was the best method for me to be able to do this for the first time. She was very correct, and I was able to successfully complete the journey with my fellow Clergy.
In our rituals at the Grove I have been the designated drummer for quite a few years. I have developed a process and etiquette for drumming that I feel best suites public ritual in my opinion over the years. My go-to rhythm involves 9 beats that is very similar to a human heart that I call the heartbeat of the earth. This is done in a very low, non-intrusive sound so it is not overpowering the speakers or offerings during ritual. Once a liturgist has finished speakings and a call and response is induced, the beat increases sharply during the response to enhance the energy of the group mind. When we reach the praise offering portion of the right, the intensity of the beat may become louder, and with each response I hit the drum sharply again to enhance the energy of the group. When there are portions where a lot of awkward silence may break up the flow of ritual, I will increase the intensity of the same beat to keep everyone on the same page. The highest point of energy in our rituals, where the drumming has to be the most intense and consistent, is when folks are performing their personal magic. I truly feel that having the rhythm of the group mind to back them up during their workings only enhances their rate of success and passion for their outcome.
At this point the energy of the ritual needs to come down off of its highs, so my rhythms will start to decrease in volume (again, except for during the responsive portions). At the very end of the flow, I will then try to keep everyones spirits up with a fun beat during the recessional on the way to revels to feast and ground. People will sometimes linger after ritual to dance around, but the sound will help carry everyone and their energies off to revels so we can then all ground together as a community.
Now, there are parts of ritual and magic that physical drumming is not appropriate or even possible for. During an omen/divination where I have to physically pull and read the runes, then drumming is not possible. For personal omens I could listen to a CD, of course, but I don’t bother. In public ritual, either someone else will continue the drumming, or we will do so in silence. Silent meditation would also be an option here, and is the most likely candidate during public ritual where I am reading the omen, which is why it is still important for me to continue trying and improving my own personal ability to silently meditate.
(Word Count: 1097)