Entering altered states of consciousness has a dramatic effect upon a ritual. Everything becomes more profound, from the smell of the incense, to the colour of the candlelight, to the feel of your wand in your hand. The objective here is not to enter into a full trance, instead these three techniques allow the ritual magician to expand their consciousness while remaining active on the material plane. They are well suited to everyday practical magick. None of the techniques described here require the use of drugs.
The beauty of this technique lies in its simplicity. It clears the mind of distractions allowing you to apply your full focus to you esoteric work. Passive magick such as drawing sigils, crafting bind runes or reading tarot cards will benefit particularly from this.
Position yourself in any way that is comfortable. Do not feel compelled to sit half-lotus. The only requirement is that your breathing is unrestricted. Remove as many possible distractions as possible; you can survive a little time with your mobile phone turned off.
Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply. Take each breath in through the mouth and out through the nose. Focus on maintaining a steady rhythm. Get into the mindset that this breathing action is now the sole purpose of your existence. Will your mind to devote ever more of its processing power to your breathing. To do so it will ignore every thought it does not deem to be essential to your survival. When you reach this state switch your focus from your breathing to the empty space which now exists in your mind. You will feel a deep serenity. Slowly open your eyes. You should continue to feel this serenity. Take advantage of this by having your working ready at hand.
For rituals which require passion a state of delirium can be easily induced. Such rituals would include incantations, hexes and the charging of sigils.
Prior to the ritual intense physical activity should be undertaken. This activity should begin gently and then grow in intensity. Frantic improvised dance to music that grows exponentially faster is well suited to a ritual space.
Push your body to its limit, though be careful not to exceed it. If you exceed your limits, your body will begin to produce lactic acid, which will cause distracting discomfort. The idea is to make your body believe you are threatened, as if you were pursued by a rapidly gaining predator. In response to this threat your body will release adrenalin into your system. The adrenalin in turn triggers a rapid increase in blood-glucose levels causing an intense glucose rush. This rush produces a state of delirium.
This feeling will pass as easily as it was induced. Perform your ritual quickly and decisively.
I have found that the most powerful higher state of mind is reached through sleep deprivation. While this is a technique that needs to be treated with respect, it is not as intimidating as it sounds. It is demanding and as such best reserved for your most important rituals. The invocation or evocation of powerful entities would be good examples.
Take sensible precautions while you are depriving yourself of sleep. Ensure you are in a secure environment such as your own home. Do not perform any tasks which require intense concentration (such as driving). Some choose to combine sleep deprivation with fasting. I have been advised that this is unnecessarily brutal.
The optimum is 36 hours without sleep. It is at this point you will notice a shift in your perception of reality. The sensation can be likened to that of being mildly drunk. Perform your ritual as soon as is possible after you notice the shift.
Each of these techniques can be supplemented. Burning incense such as sandalwood, cinnamon and jasmine will assist you in entering a higher state. I have found the latter to be the most effective in this regard, as its warm and intoxicating floral scent is conducive to entering an altered state.
Removing your clothing (sometimes called going skyclad) can be liberating, as you will find it much easier to focus without the weight or feeling of fabric on your body. Placing selenite upon your body can help absorb any negative thoughts or energies which may disturb your state of mind.
Image credit: H Koppdelaney