Behind us is the ragged cliff face where we descended down a steep and narrow goat trail. Before us, there is a broad dais upon which stands a golden egg, balanced precariously on an elaborate marble altar. We gather round in awe, watching it as it emits a subtle pulsating glow. What do we do next is anyone’s guess. We are gathered here together to participate in a group trance, a journey into our imaginations.
Trancework is the process of inducing an altered state of consciousness wherein the normal processes of conscious control are allowed to rest. Often this is achieved through focus on repetitive stimuli that captures one’s focus. When in trance, certain parts of the subconscious become more accessible. It creates a fertile atmosphere for a person to peel back the veil, and see beyond our normal state of mind into the astral and beyond. There are varying levels of trance consciousness which range from fairly lucid to complete dissociation. Deeper states of trance can allow for the channeling of spirits, as well as increased level of suggestibility which is often used by hypnotherapists to achieve positive change within the psyche. The type of trance I will be describing here is fairly mild and easily accessible by a beginner.
Our minds are gateways, not only to aspects of our past (through memory), and our future (through prophesy), but also to other times and places. How deep do our memories go? Can we remember things from other lifetimes, from other people’s lifetimes, from other dimensions, from spiritual realms beyond our comprehension? The only limits are own imaginations. What happens in trance has the quality of a dream. The things we see and experience do not always have clearly delineated rational pathways. They often present themselves in the form of symbols, stories, and characters. We are dreaming while wide awake, and we can do it with others!
Trance journeying has so many different applications. I have had some very profound experiences and met some powerful and wonderful beings along the way. There are a lot of different ways to approach this. We may have the intent to journey into a past life, a memory, a potential future, or another dimension. Some people use trancework to access the Akashic Records. As long as you act respectfully, take your time, and build up your comfort and experience, you shouldn’t have too many issues with whatever kind of work you want to pursue.
Here are two different forms of trance journey work that you can do with a partner and with a group. All you need is a willing other to witness you and you can begin to experiment with trancework wherever you are.
This first trancework exercise is something that you can do with two people. You’ll want to choose someone who is safe and reasonably grounded. You will be fairly lucid, but it’s always possible that something scary or unforeseen might pop up, and you want to be with someone who can offer you some care if that happens. As with everything in magick, there are always risks to diving into the inner workings of the mind, and as with everything in life, you should probably use some caution.
One person should lie down or sit in a comfortable position. The person who will remain lucid, known as “the witness”, should sit nearby. My favourite set up is laying on the floor, with my partner sitting cross legged next to me. The witness is going to be looking at the face of the person going into trance. I find that this helps me to connect more deeply with their journey.
The witness is going to perform a trance induction. This can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. The purpose of this is to achieve a level of deep relaxation. One helpful practice to begin with is to guiding the subject through a body scan: Naming parts of the body and asking them to relax each part. You can also accomplish this with imagery of the subject descending a staircase of sinking into water. However you do it, feelings of sinking and weight, as well as deep breathing, are helpful. Repetitive music and meditation can create a good environment as well as lighting candles and turning down any artificial lighting. You might want to have a blanket on hand for the trance subject, as your body temperature can drop during this kind of relaxed state. When you are speaking to the trance subject, you will want to keep you tone low and even, trying to avoid anything abrupt, including any outside noise or accidental touch.
Deepening the trance allows for the subject to access deeper aspects of their mind, as well as sidestepping any conscious snags such as judgement or anxiety. While working through the induction, repetition of elements can allow the subject to further deepen their trance state. If using imagery such as descending a staircase or sinking into water, you can help to deepen the relaxed state through repeating instructions such as going deeper, deeper down the staircase, perhaps becoming darker as they go. Repeat yourself as many times as necessary until you perceive that the subject is prepared. You can look at the response to the induction to judge when they are in an ideal state. Their breathing will become slow and regular and their body will obviously relax.
Once you feel that you have achieved a sufficient level of relaxation, you will want to create an opening for entering into the astral. I like to create an antechamber. This is a room that involves comfortable furnishings, a large fireplace, and a leather wingback chair. I love to throw in a few sense details about the texture of the leather, the smell of the fire, the warmth of the room. All of these details begin to awaken the imagination, and it is important to connect with the senses to deepen your visions.
In my antechamber, I have a red door with elaborate iron fittings and a big black ring where you can pull it open. I allow the trance subject the option to open the door when they feel able to walk through. This will be the beginning of their journey.
After the journey begins, the witness takes a secondary role. When they walk through the door, it is the job of the trance subject to describe verbally whatever it is that they see. As the person experiencing the trance, they are also a witness to what is going on, but may be able to do things in the vision, such as interacting with scenery, objects, and people.
The witness is able to ask questions of the trance subject or of characters in their vision. As witness, you are there to deepen the vision and to investigate potentially interesting aspects. Try not to ask too many questions or to interact too much with the participant, or they may become disconnected from their vision.
What happens in the space of the trance depends on what intent was set beforehand, if there was a script, and whatever the mind of the subject brings to the table. I often find it useful to have some questions or ideas prepared beforehand in case I feel a bit lost. I like to try to find myself a guide, to help me to understand the place that I am in and the story that is unfolding. I also like to try to find objects or symbols to help me to ground my experience in something tangible and memorable.
Once you have sufficiently explored your vision, you may come back to the antechamber and begin the process of returning to normal consciousness. I don’t always go through formal induction; sometimes when I am done my journey, I just open my eyes. It all depends on what you are comfortable with and what you require in order to get into the right kind of headspace. I am a very airy person and spend a lot of time in my imagination. It is easy for me to jump into the dreamspace, but for more rational, material-minded people it might take more practice to cultivate the trance state.
The second type of trancework that I am going to describe is a group trance. In this exercise, you get together with a group of people (ideally fewer than ten) and participate in the trance process described above. There will be one witness and multiple trance subjects. The witness performs an induction and creates some kind of antechamber. The difference here is that you will have a group of psyches interacting, and the things that each person sees will be interwoven with the visions of the other participants.
Someone will begin to speak, and the setting will begin to take shape. Each participant will describe what they are seeing and the visions of each will begin to interact. This can be a powerful exercise for group cohesion and for establishing group mind.
Just like the couples trance, this journey can be spontaneous or can involve a script decided beforehand. The witness in each case can also participate in the trance if all subjects are comfortable and feel less need for outside grounding. It is all a matter of what you are looking for and what you feel capable of. I would suggest having the witness remain outside the vision if you are just starting out, but as you gain experience you can begin to shape your trancework any way that you want.
The basic idea of trancework is incredibly simple, yet it offers an entire universe of possibilities to experience and explore. It is such a profound and nourishing practice with a vast number of applications. I am happy to explore trance with my friends as well as my working groups. Sometimes it is a very serious and transformative process, and sometimes it is a good way to pass an afternoon.
If you feel called to work with trance, perhaps you can share some of your experiences in the comment section, as well as offer any tips on good trance inductions or journey scripts. Trancework has been such a nourishing aspect of my practice, I only hope it can offer you the same rewards.