The methods described in pages are a theoretical discussion ONLY. Methods are discussed in only the broadest terms and I hold no qualifications in the fields discussed.
Because a method is listed here does not indicate that I approve or recommend it. In some cases, I definitely don't!
An Altered State of Consciousness is a loosely defined term to encompass any state where the brain's activity deviates from its normal state of waking lucidity, characterised by the so-called Beta Wave frequencies. To that extent we aren't talking about anything magical. Dreaming, coma, illness and certain drugs all cause altered states. It may be argued that Astral Projection is an Altered State. Lucid Dreaming certainly is.
In this context though, I've chosen to interpret it not as a sense which looks outwards, but one which looks inward. Shamanic practice often speaks of totem animals. Wicca refers to the Inner or Lower Self, which can manifest itself as an animal. They refer to that kernel within our minds that predates that part of our brain which believes in manners and laws, and how to operate a mobile phone: the animal core that still remembers when humankind lived naked in cave and forest. There are ways to tap and contact this creature within us, and it isn't necessarily some sort of great ape.
Some people I know have achieved much success with this field. Personal approaches vary, but usually involve making oneself comfortable in a darkened and preferably quiet room. Sensory deprivation is claimed to help. Playing meditation music or the recorded sounds of horses has also been recommended. One then simply 'lets go': a blend of imagining oneself in the form of the animal one wishes to be, and ignoring one's human body.
I once read an account in which a woman put herself into a trance whilst staring fixedly at the Nordic rune ('Eh' or 'Ehwis'). This rune can mean 'god' or 'divine power' but can also mean 'horse'. Eye witnesses say they saw the woman suddenly tense and to see her moving her limbs as if running on all fours and then cry out like a horse. The witnesses claim they had never heard a sound like that emerge from a human throat before: if it was a hoax, the woman had a vocal talent without parallel (The neigh of a mare or stallion is a chord, and impossible for a single human to accurately imitate). When awoken from her trance, the woman later described running across frozen tundra, surrounded by horses. She could not recall if she herself had been a horse - only what she saw and felt.
Runes make good focii for such trance-states like this. Similarly, Tarot cards and the symbols of I Ching can yield results, as though they open some sort of door within us. It is easily dismissed as imagination, but imagination itself is a frequently underestimated quality - is it sheer make-believe, or the edge of an under-used sixth sense?
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