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Author Topic: Shamanism and altered states  (Read 5113 times)
Figment99
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« Topic Start: November 04, 2009, 11:36:47 am »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.
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« Reply #1: November 04, 2009, 12:06:07 pm »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.

Music. Drumming, Goatrance, Psitrance, and meditative zen tracks. Jamendo.com is where I get most of my stuff from. Unless I want/need the chillout effect of the meditative tracks, I ride the percussion and beats of the music. It becomes my path, horse, and force to enter the altered state.

With meditative tracks, I focus on the harmonies and low frequencies to help me distance myself from the physical.

There is a place in Otherworld, that has become my 'entry' point. When I enter the altered state, leaving behind the physical, I reform (usually in a human form) at a certain rock, by a certain river. That point is complete to all the senses. From there, I can depart for other gates to other realms.

I have not entered Otherworld with the express intent of meeting Dieties. They usually knock me on the head (and arse!) in Thisworld. I do go there to meet with allies, my spirit companion, and alternate forms of self.

It has gotten to the point, where I don't need to hear the actual music itself. Because I have set aside certain tracks for use only when journeying... I can concentrate on the memory of the tracks, and launch myself into an altered state. This has proven useful when doing a working for a friend and I'm caught without drum or MP3 player.

Regarding psychotropics...

YOUR MILEAGE WILL VARY

As for me. They are all off-limits. I've had the spirit of Kava appear and threaten to "undo my sentience" if I ever call on her again with wrong intent. Tobacco has also taken my soul and turned me upside down. Alcohol in moderation, and sparingly. Usually as part of a offering dinner. After what happened with Kava, I have no desire to push my luck with Salvia (or any other material). Now, being able to shift on music alone, I am thankful for their interdiction. To be able to move with clarity of thought is a blessing. I am not dependent of the length of the 'alteration'. I can leave early if I wish, or stay longer if I wish.

If you choose psychotropics... treat the spirit of what you are using with great (GREAT) respect. Try to stay away from overly processed material, or material that was created with the intent of a quick buck. If you use tobacco... use 100% tobacco. Whole leaf cigars (ascot is a nice small size) is best.

Also, if this is your first foray... HAVE A TRUSTED SITTER WITH YOU... even if all you are doing is tobacco. My last excursion with tobacco... 1/4 of an ascot size, whole leaf cigar. About 2 inches in total were smoked. In my vision, the spirit of Tobacco formed before me, chastised me for my impudence & arrogance, reached into my chest and seized hold of me. While I won't go in great detail here, I was definitely out of sorts for days until I made good with him (Tobacco spirit).

(I don't count myself as being a shaman... I'm learning how to learn... your mileage will vary... listen to the spirits that surround you, they'll show you your path.)
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« Reply #2: November 04, 2009, 02:52:48 pm »


Not a shaman, not even shamanicly inclined, but I do use altered states when I have to.  I'm physically fragile, so I use the first stages of something I was taught almost (oh my!) 40 years ago (astral projection, but as it was done then in a specific community, not as it is done today)  No drums, alcohol, or thumping rythms required.  Just a floor or bed.

I start out in bed, on my back.  It doesn't work as well if I'm not on my back, and I think the state I aim for first is closely related to sleep paralysis.  I run around in my heading turning switches to 'off' - legs, arms, pelvis, trunk, etc. in order from bottom to top, feeling those parts go numb as I go.  Numb-ish.  It's not exactly the same, but bears some resemblance to when your arm falls asleep.  I leave my heart, lungs, eyes (even though they're closed) and brain 'on'.  Actually, I try to leave all my organs and blood on - things can get dangerous in a physical sense if you don't.  Autonomic functions 'on', physical sensations and controls 'off'.

When I hit the sleep paralysis stage I can turn my sight and hearing in 'other' directions.  The heaviness in my body ensures that I won't go wandering untenanted, but my mind is free to do what I want.  The original purpose of this exercise was to be able to pull the rest of myself out of my meat, and it took me several years to learn, but, I don't do that much anymore, (and usually under protest - I don't like it)  Having my mind freed, though, I find that the things each of my senses process is different from their functions in the normal state.  Perceptions are very different, and scenes can unfold that are not possible in the real, but that are usually tailored to whatever I'm seeking.

I don't 'go' anywhere when I stop at this stage, and I don't need to have as fine a control over my movements, such as they are.  It is more like i can bring things/information to me.  Thinking is different, logic takes different shapes, and I can usually find or figure out what I need to.  It's the only actual altered state I'm familiar with, and I try to control the alteration to stay useful and task-specific.

Sometimes I am aware of others around the edges, but unless I'm there for communication I usually ignore them.  I guess, if the terminology had existed back when I learned this I could see it as a sort of interactive internet without the keyboard, mouse, etc. interfaces.  It's direct and I can do things, make changes, learn things, and take most of it back with me.  I learned in a group setting, with first aid and teachers and babysitters, but that is really for the next steps, not so much for this one.  As I said, I'm physically fragile, but this step is safe for me to do alone.  Waking up is a matter of concentrating on one finger - when it moves, I'm awake, all at once and a bit jumpy for a while.

Is this what you're looking for?  What is it you want to do in an altered state?  There may be better ways.

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« Reply #3: November 04, 2009, 02:55:22 pm »



Oh - maintaining concentration is really hard to do at first.  The first time I got this far I had a really interesting conversation with carpet mold, and spent the next week obsessively cleaning my teachers house.  YMMV

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« Reply #4: November 04, 2009, 05:08:31 pm »

Is this what you're looking for?  What is it you want to do in an altered state?  There may be better ways.

Absent

What you stated was very close to what I am looking for. I used to be able to go into a meditative state fairly fast and easy without much fuss. Then I got out of the practice and now that I'm trying to get my stuff together. What I want to do is to be able to get into an altered state inorder for me to get more information about myself right now. I have some issues I need to work out, but to do that I need to get to the root of the problem and I think some of the roots are so far back I can't remember them anymore or at the time didn't seem important enough for me to consider it consciencely.

Also I am trying to expland my path and learn something new. Even when I could easily get into a meditative state of mind, I never really received any contact or information from anyone or anything. It was just a time to let go and find peace. I trying to see if I have the ability to do more within this state of mind.
Oh - maintaining concentration is really hard to do at first.  The first time I got this far I had a really interesting conversation with carpet mold, and spent the next week obsessively cleaning my teachers house.  YMMV

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« Reply #5: November 04, 2009, 06:46:27 pm »

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.

I wouldn't really dare to call myself a shaman. But I do sometimes use altered states, and plan to use them more.


The first method I used was just 'guided meditation', I guess. I was told to slowly (as in, over the course of days or weeks) learn the various stages of the following: Observing a candle, and then closing my eyes and trying to hold onto the image, move my mind's hands over it and feel the heat, turn it around in my mind, be aware of it entirely. Using the physical item to refocus whenever I need to. Then an object that's not there but is well known, like an apple. Seeing it, touching it, rotating it, biting into it and tasting it. And finally a cave.

I usually found myself biting the apple and when I looked up from that, I'd be in the cave. The first time this happened it was not prompted by me so it took me by surprise! The cave is a tunnel for me, and it leads out into different places.


These days I can't use such a simple calm and silent meditation, so I use a drumming track on my MP3 player. I've recently bought a drum, but my arm isn't yet strong enough to play her for a full journey or anything.


To find whoever I need to see, they're usually waiting for me somewhere at the exit of the tunnel. At the moment I've only worked with a spirit guide, and with a primary totem though. No doubt others I would have to search further for.
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« Reply #6: November 04, 2009, 07:50:23 pm »

(oh my!) 40 years ago

Brain fart!  30 years ago.   I honestly wasn't doing this stuff at 7. Cheesy


What I want to do is to be able to get into an altered state inorder for me to get more information about myself right now. I have some issues I need to work out, but to do that I need to get to the root of the problem and I think some of the roots are so far back I can't remember them anymore or at the time didn't seem important enough for me to consider it consciencely.

It's very good for this.  Be careful, though.  If it is a remembered scene that you turn your attention towards in this state you can find yourself reliving it from the perspective of everyone who was there AT THE SAME TIME.  You will feel that you ARE everyone at once, and if there are emotions involved you will feel totally justified from every perspective.  The 'truths' have to come after you get back to normal and review it.  When I've tried to view scenes I wasn't present for the effect has been much milder - less connection I suppose.

I have also watched many things, like in a stage play - not enough emotional connection to suck me in, but good for information if you trust it.  I don't, always, but it gives me a starting point.  Details are as clear as a stage setting and I like to grab one of those to worry at as a starting point in the real world.

Absent

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« Reply #7: November 04, 2009, 11:03:13 pm »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.

I'm not a shaman, although I do use core shamanism in my practices (and someone is probably going to throw rocks at me for admitting it, but oh well...).

In the order of what works best for me:

Sleep deprivation. I'm not talking about staying up all night & not taking a nap the next day, I'm talking a minimum of 3 or 4 days, usually closer to 7. Not only do I get the ASC, but I usually get hallucinations and other bells and whistles.

Fasting, usually while sleep deprived

Extended physical exertion - usually cleaning my house, but dancing or hiking or swimming or whatever would work as well

Alcohol

Drumming, either physically drumming or listening to drumming w/a bpm of about 220 - 300, aka 'Shamanic drumming'.

Sensory deprivation

Drugs

I have a very hard time getting to the Otherworld unless I'm being sent on an errand by one of my deities. Then it doesn't really matter what I'm doing - I could be washing dishes & blink, and when I open my eyes I'm somewhere else. Since you asked about what the ASC experience entails, I carry gold coins to dead people so they can pay the boatman. I usually have to find the gold coin first. Sometimes I have to fight the dead people for the gold coins. It's like being on a beach full of confused angry demented beachcombers...

Usually, when I intentionally try to travel to the Otherworlds, I get hung up on the whole, "am I supposed to visualize the entire journey? When does the hallucination take over on its own?" In other words, am I really talking to Bear, or did I 'pretend' to talk to Bear?
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« Reply #8: November 09, 2009, 05:54:27 pm »


I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?


I have done a lot of shamanic work over time, even though I was never formally trained in any tradition.

I had been practicing and teaching Tai Chi and meditation for a number of years before learning , though. So, it was easy for me to empty my mind. Once you have practiced for many years, it become relatively easy to reach a state of quiet mind.

After that, it is not so hard to learn to travel outside of yourself.

so, in a nutshell, here is my experience.

1) learn to reach a state of altered consciousness (mediation, trance work, Tai Chi, yoga, etc)
2) Once you have a state of quiet mind, allow yourself to "imagine" travelling away from yourself.
3) At some point, over time, your "imagining" will take on a life of it's own. You will always be in control of where you go, but often who you meet will surprise you.
4) for the skeptics among you, try travelling to somewhere and observing, then checking with someone who was there physically to see if you observed what they did.

Again, over time, you will find that daydreaming and travelling "feel" different, and you will see a real pattern of "things that happen" when you travel.

I'm sorry if this looks a little squishy, but I did say I had no formal training, so my experiences are not framed in any tradition or culture; makes it hard to share anything but the feel.

Teri
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« Reply #9: November 13, 2009, 03:44:36 pm »

Music. Drumming, Goatrance, Psitrance, and meditative zen tracks. Jamendo.com is where I get most of my stuff from. Unless I want/need the chillout effect of the meditative tracks, I ride the percussion and beats of the music. It becomes my path, horse, and force to enter the altered state.

Thanks for the tip about Jamendo.com.  I found a handful of promising tracks and downloaded them for my first attempt at ASC.  That attempt didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but then I always try to run before learning to walk.  I definitely need more practice.
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« Reply #10: November 13, 2009, 06:23:48 pm »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.
These are not, strictly speakibg, shamanistic in any way, but I used to use it for astral projection.

The first method I used was to lay down or recline in a comfortable position and begin to completely relax. I usually would imagine all my muscles relaxing systematically every time I exhaled. Then wgen everything is completely relaxed I would empty my mibd of anything substantial, usually by counting or some other almost brainless activity. Then I would open my "spirit" eyes (real eyes still closed) and imagine a rope hanging above my chest. I would then slowly begin to lift one arm and then the other out of my body. When both arms are out (a curious tingling, numbing sensation) I would focus on my "hand" and wiggle my "spirit fingers" then grab the rope and feel it's rough texture. I would then slowly pull my whole body out until I was free to move. Sometimes this would be a painfully slow and difficult process like I was pulling out of mud or wet cement and others it took almost no effort.

Another way I used to do it was to use breathing excercises or vusualizations. I would breathe in and then out, usually to a ten count at first. Then I would begin to slow and control my breathing, increasing up to maybe a 20 count for each inhale and exhale. While doing this I would imagine my breathe coming out in a plume of smoke or my pollution and a mist of pure white light or mist of my favorite color. This is like a spiritual cleansing excercise and helped my muscles relax, plus it wasnt such a bad visualization. From there when I had reached a medium or deep trance I would move on to the rope method or another technique for exiting the body. The fun way to do this is to take an exceedingly long breath as if going underwater and then breath your astral/spirit body out your nose or mouth. It is fun and gives a strange squeezing feeling even though your spirit really just molds to the space it is in.

Once outside your body you will often find that your original intent or definition in exploring ceases to be the primary concern. I rarely ever accomplished what I meant. Usually I felt an urge, no, a compulsion, to go one place or another. As others have saod, you will be surprised at what and who you see!
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« Reply #11: December 03, 2009, 06:19:41 pm »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.

A great website I recommend is A Forest Door, run by Dver (formerly known as Oinokhoe and author of Kharis). Dver isn't a shaman, but she does used altered states and has quite a few notes across her website. It's still being updated, so its not entirely complete, but she also links to various other websites dealing with the same kind of material (including well known and trusted websites on using entheogens).

I can't offer you much personal information, as I'm still a newbie when it comes to altered states and such, but I will second the recommendation that if you use entheogens, you treat their Spirit with RESPECT. They are not to be used willy-nilly, and will run you through the ringer if you abuse them. This applies to alcohol and tobacco too.
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« Reply #12: December 06, 2009, 06:12:44 pm »

A great website I recommend is A Forest Door, run by Dver (formerly known as Oinokhoe and author of Kharis). Dver isn't a shaman, but she does used altered states and has quite a few notes across her website. It's still being updated, so its not entirely complete, but she also links to various other websites dealing with the same kind of material (including well known and trusted websites on using entheogens).

I can't offer you much personal information, as I'm still a newbie when it comes to altered states and such, but I will second the recommendation that if you use entheogens, you treat their Spirit with RESPECT. They are not to be used willy-nilly, and will run you through the ringer if you abuse them. This applies to alcohol and tobacco too.
Thank you for the site, I'll look at it as soon as I get any time to do so.

I don't plan on using any sort of alcohol, tobacco, or entheogens. It just isn't my thing and not something I would do. Thank you though for the warning, if I ever do decide to use outside means of getting into altered states I will remember to show respect.
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« Reply #13: December 09, 2009, 02:09:49 am »

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Disclaimer: I am not a shaman, or a witch, but I have experienced an altered state.

 I have never used any substance to achieve an altered state. I do not believe altering my perception in that way is healthy, and to me it insinuates that one is trying to force interaction with the spiritual, or astral, world. The only time I believe I would use a medium to cause/improve an altered state is if I was working with the deity already and was having issues raising the energy, because of environmental, or performance, anxiety.

 In my experiences with achieving altered states, I have been assisted by an outside presence. It has never been my own energy that has helped me to achieve that state. My energy may aide me in managing, containing, or amplifying that additional energy, but that does not make me powerful, that makes me an (occasionally) good (excellent <- not my word) container.

 I rarely, consciously, try to manipulate this energy when it comes to me. In fact, Iím not sure I could all of the time, or would want to, as I view the process as my most clear channel to the divine.

 It is something I try to keep to a bare minimum though, especially as I feel it could get out of hand fairly quickly without a proper guide/helper/sitter around to talk me/it/him out of that state.

 There have been times, especially when divining, one of the my godís most prominent aspects, that I have felt completely overwhelmed, to the point where I was merely a bystander and the thoughts in my head were no longer my own. I became an interpreter to try and communicate, and, at moments, censor, the thoughts and ideas in my head.
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« Reply #14: December 21, 2009, 09:36:23 am »

I'm not sure this is the right board to put it in, but it seems like a good place to start.

I was wondering how some of the Shamans and Hedgewitches here get into their altered states of mind? I am looking for a personal point of view and experience. Once you get into that altered state how do you make contact with Deities, astral beings, inner self, etc?

Thank you for answering and for you time in advance, I really appreciate any information you can share.

When I get into my trance it sometimes feels like the hole world is spinning fast around me and I am sitting still, as if I was sitting in the exact point of the center of the earth`s axis. Sometimes I get muscles spasms also.

I gain this altered state of mind by listening to the beat of fast drums and breathing deeply or in a fast manner. Also many smells of inscence can help enter trance. After entering a trance, if I wanted to visit a Deity or another being, then I would climb up or down a tree depending which world I am going to.
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