The Trance State
Definition of Trance State: What is Trance State? A Trance State is associated with meditation, magic, hypnosis and prayer and is also related to altered states of consciousness. The term 'trance' is derived from the Latin word transire meaning "to cross over". A trance state produces an out-of-body experience in which a person feels they have passed out of the body into another state of being. A Trance state may be accessed, or induced, by various means and is a way of altering the state of consciousness by accessing the unconscious mind for the purposes of Spiritual Healing, intuition and inspiration.
The Trance State
Native American Shamanic healers have utilized methods to produce altered states of consciousness in themselves and their patients for thousands of years. A wide variety of plants are used by Medicine Men to alter consciousness and enter the trance state. Natural Herbal Herbs strongly feature in the ceremonies and rituals of Native Americans and used for their hallucinogenic and narcotic properties to alter consciousness, induce Trance States, spiritual experiences and Spiritual Journeys for rites of passage rituals, such as Vision Quests. The herbs and plants used to induce the trance state included Mescal, peyote cactus, thorn apple, psilocybin mushroom, green tobacco, jimsonweed and devil's weed.
The Trance State and Native American 'Medicine'
The Native American Indians believed that Spirits inhabited all elements of nature - the rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, trees, plants, sky, celestial objects, animals, insects, fish, flowers and birds. Some spirits were good and helped men who pleased them whereas other spirits were bad and caused harm to individuals and the tribe. The bad spirits caused suffering, sickness, death and disease. A Shaman was believed to have control over the spirits and the ability to enter a Trance State in order to communicate with the spirit world. The Native Americans who spent their lives in trying to gain such knowledge are referred to as medicine men, medicine people, mystery men, or Shaman. Such knowledge is what the Native Indians mean by “medicine” or “mystery.”
Vision Quest and the Trance State
A Vision Quest or Spiritual journey was undertaken or directed by a Medicine Man or Shaman and was sometimes accompanied by the inducement of a trance state. The purpose of this type of undertaking was to attain guidance or knowledge from supernatural forces or spirits to assist when the tribe is facing adversity or need to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community including sickness. The trance state allows the Shaman to project his spirit out of his physical body while he is still awake. This trance state might be accompanied by a strong numbing sensation or experiencing the sensation of being in two places at once or might also be described as a highly focussed day dream.