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Author Topic: Book Study: Trance-portation  (Read 11134 times)
Aster Breo
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« Topic Start: April 27, 2009, 03:31:16 pm »

Hello! This thread is an in-depth discussion of a book: [i]Trance-portation[/i] by Diana Paxson. In order to keep this thread useful, we have a few specific guidelines.
 
1) This thread is focused on discussion of the book, and working through its exercises. Please take any side conversations that arise to another thread or to private message/email.

To keep conversation flowing and focused, we also ask that you limit brief messages (like one that just says "I agree") - these can make the thread much harder to read through later than more substantial posts.

2) You're welcome to just read along, or to post some of your experiences and thoughts - either is fine! (Posting a brief intro as part of your first post in the thread specific to your experience with trance work might be helpful, though.)

3) Take care of yourself.
We'll be talking about some appropriate precautions (both those mentioned in the book, and those various people have found useful in their own practices) throughout.

However, please be aware that this is a book discussion group, not an in-person training group. The amount of support we can give if you have difficulties is quite limited. If you have *any* concerns about your well-being, you should stop doing whatever's causing the problem, and seek out specific help.

4) Schedule:
We'll be aiming at a new chapter every 3-4 weeks, but may adjust slightly as we go along, based on how people post about the exercises.

Jenett will post a brief overview of each chapter. This will be followed by discussion - and as people get a chance to try the exercises, discussion of their exercises/experiences. If you want to experience the exercises without reading other people's experiences, we suggest you begin them within the first week of the chapter's discussion.

If you come across this thread after we've started discussion, we strongly encourage you to work through the earlier chapters first - trance-work is an area that builds on previous skills.


5) Organization:
Jenett's volunteered to make sure the conversation keeps moving, but she does not know everything.

Please chime in with other viewpoints, experiences, ideas, and so on (as long as they're related to the book, of course, to keep this thread tidy and useful.) Everyone is asked to remember that the experience of trance is a very personal one: people may have different experiences or approaches. Talking about where they come from and why they work is probably more useful (to everyone) than dismissing them.

Now, let's get started!

As suggested above, if you're interested in actively participating in this book study, or just planning to read this thread as it develops, please post a brief intro.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2009, 06:30:40 pm by RandallS, Reason: Added book image and Amazon link -- RSS » Logged

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« Reply #1: April 27, 2009, 05:47:47 pm »

As suggested above, if you're interested in actively participating in this book study, or just planning to read this thread as it develops, please post a brief intro.

Thanks to Moon Ivy for posting this for me (and editing a bit for clarity, I think!)

I should follow my own request and post a quick intro. Hi. I'm Jenett, and I've been around on various Cauldron sites since sometime in 2000. I'm a priestess and coven leader in a small initiatory religious witchcraft tradition based in Minnesota. (If you really want more info, check out my profile for links to my public blog + coven site, and feel free to ask me more questions in email or PM)

The group I trained with (before hiving to form my own coven in early 2008) is heavily training-focused, and uses trance and guided meditation work fairly heavily, and I've got a reasonable amount of experience helping to teach those skills. (Working with 3 years of students on it who had different backgrounds, other skills, and interests.) The trad is oathbound, but it's my job to keep my oaths, not anyone else's - it mostly means I'll be phrasing most things here as 'I've tried something like X..." without being specific about whether it's a trad practice or a personal one.

My own trance practice has been lacking this winter, due to a really demanding job situation that's finally settling down that meant I was exhausted a whole lot (not good for trance work, at least for me). I'm looking forward to the book discussion as a way to encourage myself to deepen my personal practice. Parts of my semi-regular practice include an astral 'base camp', regular visits to what I refer to as the Great Library, and occasional possessory work in ritual settings. I'm looking forward to working through her discussion on fetches, because it fits with some things I'd like to spend some more time with.

Practical stuff: I'll be travelling for about a week sometime over the summer (probably in July). As we get closer to that date, I'll figure out a way to work the schedule around it, and also hope other people will chime in to keep conversation going. (I'll probably have some access, but it won't be reliable.)

I'm generally checking in at TC at least once in the early morning Central US Time, and once in the evening, but not always.

So, hi! Think you're going to be posting in this thread? Take the time between now and May 1 (when I'll post our first chapter intro) and
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« Reply #2: April 28, 2009, 12:04:48 am »


Hi, Book Study-Mates!

I'm Moon Ivy -- most regular Cauldronites call me MI.  So much easier to type.  Cheesy  I've been an active member of TC for about 5 years (I think), and a staff member for a year or so.

I'm walking my own spiritual path, which is focused on the Celtic Goddess Brighid.  (I've posted about it a lot, so I won't bore anyone with details here.  If you're interested, I'm happy to talk via PM or email.)  I'm not a Celtic reconstructionist (CR), but I am very interested in Celtic history, art, and archeology, and I value historical integrity.  That said, my actual beliefs and practice are based largely on my own UPG.

I suffer from virtually migraines (which I've also posted a lot about  Undecided ), and I'm particularly interested in this book study because I'm beginning to focus on energy healing, and I think the lessons of trance work might be relevant.

And I want to thank Jenett for being willing to take the primary leadership of this group, as well as Sunflower and Caroline and anyone else who will be sharing their expertise.

~MI
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« Reply #3: April 28, 2009, 04:28:34 am »


And I want to thank Jenett for being willing to take the primary leadership of this group, as well as Sunflower and Caroline and anyone else who will be sharing their expertise.


Concurring this.

Also, I'm Stardancer, name picked mostly due to my astrological bent (and occasionally professional practice).

I have done a fair amount of journey work, a few times in a drumming circle, but mostly on my own. I consider myself fairly easily tranced, and my imagination has been pretty well trained on kabbalistic pathworking. I spent quite a few years working my way up the Tree of Life, with meditations, sound and chanting, painting, and more meditation.

Not finished yet by far, though, because unfortunately most of this work is beginning to fall under the heading 'The Past', and I'm getting out of practice.

I have also attempted channeling in the past; angels and guides, but the results were varied. Whisper-in-the-ear kind of possession.

Now I want to get closer to my gods, and the few snippets of info Odin have sent in my direction concerns runework - which seems to require more frequent trancing. Also I have fairly recently (within 6-8 months) entered a relationship with Pan who seems to be pushing me into possession oriented practice. The two of them together seem to be a blending of immersion and focus, passion and channeled will, and I'm looking forward to working through this book to get my behind into gear and actually focus more closely on Their work.

I have done very little focused groupwork, but I find myself craving it like a fish water. Someone to actually discuss this stuff with and hold me responsible for doing my part, so I'm not just running in circles in my head.

Stardancer
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« Reply #4: April 28, 2009, 06:01:22 am »

As suggested above, if you're interested in actively participating in this book study, or just planning to read this thread as it develops, please post a brief intro.

Alright Smiley
I'm Tana, a German witch on her own solitary path.
Member of TC for quite a bit - in fact it's the only board still active during the whole time I'm online, which is now over 9 years.

I'm quite good in visualizing and have a vivid imagination-ability.
Journeying I always did on my own. Just started out someday and kept on with it, whenever I felt the need.
Some of the journeys might've been more the 'daydream' type, but some of them where rather amazing.

My ability to fall in trance is good I guess. I catch myself often enough looking at something and feeling my mind slipping away, just standing and staring at a drop of dew f.ex.

I want to work through the book because I need a clearer border.
Since I'm doing animal communications for a while now, I learned that it is almost as easy to communicate with the faeries or animal spirits.
All this communications feel sometimes too easy, if you know what I mean. I don't want to fall for illusion and a more 'formal' set up before going into communication will help a lot.

I don't mind getting an information out of the blue, but like now, when you have worries, it is too hard to get through the things you fear and wish for. So I need more clarity.
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« Reply #5: April 28, 2009, 01:47:32 pm »

<a href="http://www.ecauldron.net/cncbook.php?asin=1578634059" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="http://images.amazon.com//images/P/1578634059.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg" align="right" alt="" /></a>

Hi! I'm dragonfly.  My path leans towards ADF, at least for my 'formal' rituals, my personal path is still growing.  I am interested in Aromatherapy, herbs and folk/kitchen witchery.  I have worked with Morrigan in the past with some problems, though I haven't felt her presence lately, the god I have the most connection with is Loki. Smiley Long story, lots of interesting stuff, but not as horrible as people think.  Most of the time, I talk to him in dreams. 

I'm not sure if I can go into trance state easily, I'm such a newbie at this.  Embarrassed I do know that I become road hypnotized extremely easily, mainly at night, but sometimes durin the day.  I do 'daydream' very easily, but I've always wrote that off as just because I have a hard time focusing.  I have had people tell me I remind them of their kids that have ADD. 

I want to learn trance working for a variety of reasons, mainly to deepen my practice (does that make sense?) and be able to connect better with my deities.  (not that I own them, LOL) I have always been interested in trance work, astral practice, etc.  This seems like a good way to broaden my experience.  I've only tried astral traveling once, very bad experience.  I want to learn how to avoid that or at least what to do if it happens again.  I saw that MI had posted about learning energy healing, I'm not sure on healing energies, but learning to focus energy working would be a good thing too. 

I've already read a few chapters and truthfully, I'm really lookin forward to this.  Cheesy
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« Reply #6: April 28, 2009, 04:41:12 pm »

Hi! I'm Waldfrau, to some also known as Passionfruit. I'm studying religious witchcraft on my own and also work with stuff often called 'shamanic' although I don't see myself on a 'shamanic' path, but animal spirits and plants often come up in my spiritual work. I'm also experimenting with some sort of energy healing with a rattle, but I'm not going down to deep layers yet because I feel too inexperienced to tackle them and don't want to hurt the people who are so nice to act as lab rats for me.

I've had some intense trance experiences, but can't controll it very well. I know some techniques work on me, but I can't make them work when I want. I've also had a couple of experiences happen to me accidently when my mind was unfocused (waiting for the bus & the like). I think I'm what Paxson calls an 'open head', so I hope to gain more controll by studying this in a guided-little-step-fashion. Smiley

Lately I've encountered a deity (Artemis) in one of my spirit travels for the first time and started to work with her. I'm also doing a lot of shadow work with her help at the moment so this might come into the discussion from my side. There's a lot I have to work out yet and trance work is one of my main methods to do it.

I don't have much group experiences yet although I'd like to have a more structured learning in a group. So I'm looking forward to at least a regular online group and hope to also slowly expand my rl-contacts. I know an online-group can't give the same as a rl-group, but I greatly enjoy the people here at TC anyway and so I really look forward to the exchange with you all. Smiley
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« Reply #7: April 28, 2009, 04:52:19 pm »

Lately I've encountered a deity (Artemis) in one of my spirit travels for the first time and started to work with her.
Forgot to mention that I'm trying to process my spirit travel experiences with her through creating my own card oracle. I'm not far yet and it's an unprofessional indulgence at that, but it really helps me to structure the mud in my head: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=8743.0
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« Reply #8: May 01, 2009, 05:54:00 pm »


A quick note: I had hoped to have the intro posting up today, but my schedule and brain have not cooperated. (I admit a certain amount of distraction from a shiny new laptop, too.) I'm committed to going out for the evening and for most of tomorrow morning and afternoon tomorrow, but will get up the intro + first chapter discussion (the intro's short) by Saturday evening at the latest. 
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« Reply #9: May 01, 2009, 10:36:14 pm »

A quick note: I had hoped to have the intro posting up today, but my schedule and brain have not cooperated. (I admit a certain amount of distraction from a shiny new laptop, too.) I'm committed to going out for the evening and for most of tomorrow morning and afternoon tomorrow, but will get up the intro + first chapter discussion (the intro's short) by Saturday evening at the latest. 

Don't worry. It's not like we have a deadline to meet or something Wink
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« Reply #10: May 02, 2009, 04:54:57 pm »

(as a note, I'll be linking back via the reply/quote to the previous chapter each time, to make it a little easier to navigate the thread: this one links back to the initial post, chapter 2's summary will be a reply to this post, etc.)

If you're still waiting on getting your copy, the introduction and the first chapter *except* for the questionaire are on Paxson's website here: http://www.seidh.org/books/trance-portation/.

Introduction
In the introduction, Paxson talks about both the history of a modern and Western view of trance and core shamanism, and about her own personal experiences and interests. She also talks about the need she saw for better skills training - not just trance for trance's sake, but trance skills as a way to improve safety/benefits in some related kinds of work (like possessory and oracular practices.)

What do you think of the introduction? Do you have any questions about it? Agreements? Disagreements?

Chapter 1
She starts the chapter by talking about various definitions, approaches, and related topics (i.e. what is consciousness, what is trance) before talking about how the information from these sources actually fits into our lives and world in a useful way.

A brief summary:
- Everyone trances - just some of us do it more deliberately than others.
 
- We bring different skills and talents to trance-work. Both open-heads and closed-heads have challenges to face - one isn't 'better' or 'more magical' than the other.

- It's important to pay attention to twinges and slight signs that's something's off - it's much easier to fix problems early if we're aware of what our bodies and minds are telling us.

- She makes a distinction between 'real' and 'useful'. Does the stuff you're getting from trance make your life or the world around you better/healthier? If so, it's useful. If not, it's not useful, even if it's real.

- Trance is best controlled and directed through a deliberate use of cues and conditioning. These can give us cues to let go - and also cues to come back, or stay focused in our physical world when we need to.

She then spends most of the rest of the chapter on a questionaire which touches on many different needs, questions, and hopes for trancework - the answers are obviously going to be very personal and specific in many cases.

Suggested starting points
1) I'd encourage anyone doing this reading group and expecting to work through the exercises to begin by doing the questionaire (I certainly plan to write up my answers in the next week or two!) It's a great way to see where you are at the starting point, and to refer back to later.

I may share portions of it (but probably not all of it) on my blog. People have already talked some about their hopes and goals for this shared reading - but if you have other parts you want to share, feel free to post about them!

2) What do you think about Lorrie Wood's ideas about service and the priest/priestess at the end of the chapter? Do you think these apply to people who are not in a priest/priestess role (and how?)

3) What are cues that work for you (if you have some already) in creating a good starting point for trance? Hair, clothing, posture, location, incense or other scents, sound are all possibilities.

4) And, of course, any other question or topic raised in these pages is a perfectly fine topic.

Other notes:
I want to make sure people get a chance to respond and it's not the All Jenett All The Time show. To that end, I plan to hold off on posting my own person comments to these (and maybe other) questions for a couple of days, though if someone asks questions, I may chime in on those sooner. 

However, since it's really hard to see someone nodding and listening while they read intently online, I wanted to make it clear I *am* paying close attention to this thread, even if I don't post much for a bit.

Onward to the conversation!
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« Reply #11: May 03, 2009, 05:10:42 am »

2) You're welcome to just read along, or to post some of your experiences and thoughts - either is fine! (Posting a brief intro as part of your first post in the thread specific to your experience with trance work might be helpful, though.)


hello,
i'm summermoon and i'm still a newbie but i'm working hard on it Wink. hope it's not too late to post an intro.
a few weeks ago waldfrau brought the trance-portation book to one of our meetings and told me of the sig and i decided to join the group (couldn't post it in the other thread because still newbie. this one's open to all. so here i go Wink).

how to start... ?
ok....

i think i'm what paxson calls a "closed-head". i really am. it's not that i'm generally unable to relax or to meditate but as soon as i shall "travel" my brain blocks every single try. long time i decided that "travelling" is not important for me, not essential for practicing my spirituality in any way. but the problem is that i know that i'd be able if i'll cross my own barriers. and i'm not the one who declines a challenge that could lead to a further stage.

i am very good in "daydreaming" which is kind of travelling too. so i think not everything's hopeless Wink.

i already read a few pages of the book, so i will post more later, i think.
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« Reply #12: May 05, 2009, 08:17:40 pm »

(Yay for Summermoon posting - and no, it's never too late for an intro!)

Since no one else has commented on questions yet, I thought I'd start with a couple of thoughts.

3) What are cues that work for you (if you have some already) in creating a good starting point for trance? Hair, clothing, posture, location, incense or other scents, sound are all possibilities.

I'm more casual about cues these days (and maybe more casual than I should be), but here are some I have used in the past.

- I undo my hair and wear it loose, something I don't normally do. (It's waist-length, so it gets in the way at times.)

- I generally do best sitting up. I can do trance work lying down (knees bent makes my back happier) but it only works well for me if I'm doing a longer meditation (over about 20 minutes.)

- I spend a few minutes before the trance work preparing - a little light cleaning of the immediate area I'm using, maybe lighting an incense stick, maybe putting on a little perfume that suits the focus. Maybe just telling myself or journalling about what my goal is.

- I have specific things with me - I do a lot of my work with blank paper and pen in hand (and something hard to put them on, like a binder.) I write and draw manageably well with my eyes closed, and I'll scribble notes or sketch things as I go through the trance work sometimes.

- I take off my glasses (I wear them most of the time, but don't absolutely need them, so this is easy.)

Anyone got any others they find helpful?
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« Reply #13: May 06, 2009, 04:15:25 am »

it's never too late for an intro!

Okay then, I'll add mine too  Wink--

Hi there, I'm Lykaios and I just picked up a copy of this book after seeing this thread (it sounded really interesting). So I figured I'd add my intro and comments.  Background-wise, I'm a former eclectic wiccan who converted to a Kemetic path about four years ago. I've always been interested in trance work and played around with it a bit back in high school when I was first starting out but never really developed anything of worthwhile note.

So far, I've read the introduction and the first chapter (and a bit beyond it) and answered the questionnaire. I'm prone to being long-winded, but I figured that I could post a small part of what I came up with, specifically some of my answer to the author's question about what skills and strengths I bring to this endeavor and what I think will be difficult to learn. I'm not sure if my list is really skills and strengths or just random stuff about me, but they are things which affect my viewpoint and influence how I approach this topic, so I figured it meshed well with the whole introduction theme of this post.  Cheesy

Dreamwork:

I remember all my dreams. Let me say that again: all of them. Good or bad. Pleasant or painful. And not just one a night, all the dreams from a night (humans dream in cycles, having multiple dreams throughout multiple REM stages, we just usually run them all together or only remember the one most recent to our waking) In fact, I can tell how long I've been asleep even in the absence of a clock by counting the number of dreams and estimating the time based on the occurrence of the various REMs (since they are of different intensities and durations). Needless to say, I've had to get pretty comfortable in that world over the years. I have so many memories from the 'dream worlds' that it's something that affects my waking life in a big way and alters my perception of things, there are even brief moments when I get confused as to whether something happened 'in dream' or 'awake' especially when I have precognitive dreams and later experience  a strong sense of 'déjà vu' because of it, I sometimes feel like I live some events twice. I have also had 'divine' dreams which served as points of communication with my patrons (dream incubation, the practice of asking for a divine dream through ritual to receive answers to a particular question, healing, etc…was a common practice in Ancient Egypt, so this was hardly surprising to me.) I am always partly lucid while dreaming but the subject of lucidity is complicated for me and probably more detail than needed. Because dreams are such a big part of my life and because they have so many meanings and uses to me, I have a feeling that the work I do while asleep will probably intersect with any trance work I accomplish, exactly how, I don't know, but it's something I bring to the table which will probably affect how I look at things at some point.

Childhood 'Daydreaming'/ 'Journeying':

In addition to my night dreams, until I was about 10, I used to slip into trance like daydreams which would envelop me so completely that I would not respond to any outside stimulus except touch. My mother said it would happen with startling frequency, so much so that they took me to a doctor, but no medical cause was ever found. When I was a kid, I also did something I called 'journeying' which was where I would plunge so deep into a book that I would 'experience' it to the point of reaching the end without ever being aware of turning the pages and being startled by the end of text to read. My 'journeying' continued until I was about 12, at which time I started making up my own stores and playing them like movies in my head (I still do this, both for creative purposes and because I don't know how else to exist--in the absence of this ability, I don't know how I would cope with boredom or stress).  These instances all remind me of things mentioned in the first chapter and I would imagine that they are experiences which might figure in somewhere.

Eidetic Memory:

Probably a factor in why I recall my dreams so well, and maybe a factor in my childhood 'daydreaming' as well. In my waking life, my eidetic memory applies specifically to sounds. Anything I hear, I remember. Especially music, which I can hear once and then replay in my mind at will. (its too bad I can't sing or play an instrument) The problem is that I have this kind of perpetual i-pod shuffle thing playing in my head 24/7. Random songs play in the background of everything I do or think. When I'm imagining stories, I usually end up with some sort of movie soundtrack playing, when doing work however, it's often totally random and unrelated to my thoughts (I'm listening to Britney Spears sing Toxic at the moment.) The effect is intensified whenever I learn new music (I get stuck on repeat for weeks) or when I re-listen to favorite selections (that actually works to my advantage as I can 'program' my internal juke box by making a mix cd of songs I want to have on loop in my head and listening to it a few times)  When I first tried meditation I had problems clearing my mind because 'silence' doesn't exist for me normally. But as I was reading some of Paxson's book, I had a revelation: people use music to meditate and do trance work all the time…why not find good 'meditation/trance' music and program my brain to play it? However, there could be a danger to this, especially if a song(s) become a subconscious cue for trance, as I sometimes can't control what songs pop up in my mind at a given moment. There could be complications when doing repetitive tasks which inspire my brain to create random musical accompaniment like, say, driving. I'd like to try it for meditation at least, even if not for trance work, and probably will as soon as I can get this hacking chest cough to go away (hard to relax when your just short of convulsing and having trouble breathing periodically) . 

As for what I am most likely to struggle with: Right now, I think that I will probably struggle with the meditation portion again, if not because of my music issue, than because I'm physically over-sensitive to my environment. I notice small changes to air temperature, vibrations, sounds, and other physical distractions easily. I've never been good at blocking that out and it gets more intense as the years go by (probably because as a teacher, I've almost trained myself to notice lots of physical details so I can quickly ferret out and deal with problems in the learning environment of my classroom, a lot of us train ourselves to be hyper aware). On a practical level, I may simply have trouble de-stressing after being at work. I spend my days alone with 35 overactive kindergarteners and my stress level is usually still elevated well into the weekend. My nerves are usually shot as well and I'm sick a lot. Though, summer is fast approaching, and soon I will have lots of (hopefully) stress free time on my hands, so with any luck, stress from work won't be a concern after June 8.  Grin

I'm gonna quit there because this post is already long enough and it's late anyway.  Smiley I'll come back and post reactions to specific parts of the reading and the discussion starters when I can collect my thoughts properly.
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stardancer
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« Reply #14: May 06, 2009, 04:44:05 am »

When I was a kid, I also did something I called 'journeying' which was where I would plunge so deep into a book that I would 'experience' it to the point of reaching the end without ever being aware of turning the pages and being startled by the end of text to read.

Using this as a kick-off point. Smiley

I also get way more than 'engrossed' in a book. I slip into a pretty deep trance, much to the displeasure of family and others who are trying to communicate with me... I feel I have no cues, which also means I have no cues to stop.

An illustration. I was reading through the chapter on power animals (I have a black panther friend), and I was dipping into journey consciousness while doing so. Since Paxson suggested doing stuff to learn more about the animal in real life, Tasha (as her name is) took me on a jungle hunt. Rock steady on the branches, found a monkey, made the kill - focus, clarity, excellent at the high end stuff. Caught it pretty much in mid-air. And then she starts screaming in my head: "Land on your feet! Land on your feet! Drop it if you must, but land on your feet!" We got out of it with me intact, but I was obviously sorely lacking in what she called 'kitten skills' - the basic stuff that gives me a safety net; cues, follow through, follow-up, grounding (duh!), etc.

(The end of the story? Monkey wanted a mango offering for being target practice...Cheesy)

I'm working through the questionaire right now, and in general I see the physical health is quite ok - low blood pressure, but that's not bad. My psychological health is more up and down; I do have a minor, but chronic depression that occasionally pops up, and I know the warning signs, but this can be worked around as Gaia seems to have made it Her personal goal to keep my sanity intact. This means I at least have a supernatural safety net; there are beings around me that look out for me.

I'm always thinking I have no cues, but working through the questions made me realize this was not entirely true. Breathing is a very effective cue for me; I learned a pattern 15 years ago that still works. Also, at my work (cleaning and serving customers at a deli counter) I can slip into meditation/ contemplation while doing the dishes - but the instant someone rings the bell out front I have my cheerful face on and I'm awake and ready.

Maybe I should buy a bell that people can ring to contact me when I'm reading... Wink It is certainly something I think I can build on, at least.

Other skills and knowledges probably include several symbol sets that I can use when trancing; particularly astrological which is pretty much second nature to me, but also general kabbalah and partly runes - though I want to work more in that direction. I have a degree in computer programming; patterns, shapes, subroutines, analysis - but also overthinking things and a tendency to interpret while still on the journey instead of letting it flow and waiting till I'm back home.

Me also longwinded.. Smiley

Stardancer
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