Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Of Trance Work (UPG)

Trance work was a very hard concept for me to understand. My mind could never be quiet enough for me to go into trance. I wanted something that is close to what is said the Irish Filidh did to see visions. The early Irish filidh are said to have composed their poetry and had mantic visions through various techniques involving things like incubatory darkness, liminal times or places such as dusk and dawn or doorways, and the ingestion of raw substances suuch as the meat of sacrificed animals. (1) I decided to go with the incubatory darkness route in my own way.

For me trance work was in the form of sensory deprivation. Sensory deprivation can occur naturally or the person practicing it can arrange it experimentally. You engineer a situation in which stimulation of your senses is reduced drastically. Experiments in this field have included floating people in soundproof water chambers and/or blindfolding them and reducing their ability to hear though the use of white noise. Even though short periods of sensory deprivation can be relaxing, a long period of deprivation can result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, depression, and antisocial behavior. An example of such prolonged periods of deprivation is solitary confinement in small spaces. Sensory deprivation experiments, starting in the 1950s and have continued up to today, have shown that humans need constant sensory contact with their environment in order to function. The most common of the sensory deprivation techniques used today is the sensory deprivation tank. In the original concept, the solitude, isolation and confinement tank was devised as a research instrument in 1954. In the original tanks, people were required to wear complicated head masks in order to breathe underwater. These have been eliminated completely. In the latest models of tanks, a saturated solution of Epsom salts at a solution density of 1.30 grams per cubic centimeter is used. It was discovered that this density of solution allows one to float supine and have the whole body at or near the surface of the liquid. One's hands float, one's arms, legs, feet and, most important, one's head, all float. (2) I’m not using a sensory deprivation tank of course but I am using a blindfold, a dark room and a set of headphones that cancel all sound when worn without being plugged to anything. I've had some scary and varied results with this and will be experimenting more with it in the future.


(1) Chadwick, N. Kershaw. Poetry and Prophecy. NewYork: Cambridge University Press, 1952.      

(2) Gerow, Joshua R. Psychology: An Introduction. Second ed. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 
1989. Print.

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