Pagan Bookshelf: Trance

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Many magickal practitioners use altered states of consciousness, often called trance, as a way to tap energies and connect with beings that are usually beyond our everyday reality. Trance allows us to draw from the inexhaustible well of inspiration. It allows us to commune with the Divine, and to work wonders.

In Wicca, Gardner taught that there were eight main ways to magickal power — basically they are eight pathways to achieve trance states. The eight paths are:

  1. Meditation and concentration.
  2. Trance, projection of the Astral.
  3. Rites, chants, spells, runes, charms, etc.
  4. Incense, drugs, wine, etc.
  5. Dance and kindred practices.
  6. Blood control, breath control, etc.
  7. The scourge (ritual pain).
  8. The Great Rite (ritual sex).

For an in-depth examination of the eight ways in Wicca, look for Lady Sable Aradia’s book, “The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power.”

There are lots of other books available about the topic. Here are some books that are about trance in general, how to achieve it, and how to use it in magickal practice:

“Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World” and “The Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession & Divine Relationships” both by Diana L. Paxson.
“Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophecy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual” by Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone.
“Magical States of Consciousness: Pathworking on the Tree of Life” by Denning & Phillips.
“Trance: From Magic to Technology” by Dennis R. Wier.

For a more psychological and scientific approach, look for “Peak States of Consciousness: Theory and Applications” by Grant McFetridge et al.

The following focus mostly on using dance or motion to achieve trance:

“Seidways” by Jan Fries.
“Moving Into Ecstasy” by Amoda.
“Trance Dancing with the Jinn” by Yasmin Henkesh.

For an approach based more on guided visualizations, look for books by Jean Houston, in particular “The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Mythology and Sacred Psychology” and “Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space” (the second cowritten with Robert Masters.)

R. J. Stewart is another popular author whose work uses guided visualization extensively. Look for these books by him in particular:
“Advanced Magical Arts”
“Earth Light”
“Power Within the Land”
“The Living World of Faery”.

There are other books on these topics, of course, but the ones listed will get you started!