Categories of Ritual Postures

In organizing the collection of ecstatic trance postures, we labeled certain categories simply to help create order.

While it is true that some postures tend to lead to experiences of healing while others evoke experiences of changing form or hearing specific guidance, undertaking ecstatic trance almost always leads to some form of healing. And guidance is available through every trance experience. Therefore, assigning these postures to categories that differentiate their uses is not to limit their function but rather to describe tendencies or better uses of one posture as compared to another. Here are the general categories:

HEALING is the inexorable draw to wholeness. All diseases-including cruelty, poverty, ignorance, self-pity and deceit, as well as afflictions of the body-are the result of imbalance. In healing postures, we move toward greater wholeness. It is an elusive state, full of bliss at reuniting with the Intelligent Love out of which we emerge, while still the experiencing “I” that knows itself as separate, the observing one. Nonetheless, healing trances bring us relief and release, or the capacity for directing healing energy to others.

DIVINATION trances take us into closer alignment with Truth. We can see more clearly, sometimes beyond the constrictions of Time, sometimes seeing what is perpetually in front of us but out of focus. The purpose is to discover what is hidden. For beginners we suggest asking simple questions, perhaps seeking a simple “yes” or “no” answer, then progressing to ask for clarification. The more precise the question is, the more meaningful the response will be.

METAMORPHOSIS gives us the opportunity to practice being identified with a different form than the one we are accustomed to inhabiting and to comprehend that mysterious truth that everything is a manifestation of one continuous field of energy. If you can experience being a Bear or a Spider or a Swallow, then you can expand your experience of this world, to see and sense through different eyes than the ones to which you are accustomed. Our usual perception is limited, whether by the spectra of light and sound our sensory organs are capable of registering or by our limited focus of attention based on the needs of the material organism we inhabit. When you practice metamorphosis, you can begin to comprehend non-dual reality: everything is the same Intelligent Love of which you too am made.

While divination frees us of the strictures of time, SPIRIT JOURNEYS open the boundaries of space. All of these experiences are ones of transcendence, going beyond the previously known limits. With Spirit Journeys, you can travel: around the globe in the Middle World through the spirit counterpart of the Earth; into the depths of the Lower World, home of the animal spirits and the spirits of the Dead; and finally to the Sky World, home of thunder and clouds, but also sun, moon and Milky Way, and the vast beyond we call the Universe. Soul retrieval is a form of spirit journey undertaken to find and reclaim what has been lost, in this case parts of oneself, one’s soul.

INITIATION brings us back to face the inevitable application of this expansion of awareness, to the personal experience of death. The transcendence of death is not accomplished through denial and rising above pain, but through engaging and embodying the cycles of life: the bud, the blossoming, the fruit, and then decay and barrenness, and finally rebirth in the new spring.