So, in March of 2013 I tried to do a work-through of Diana Paxson’s Trance-Portation on this blog. It was a dismal failure – on my own, I was unable to read past Chapter 3 and write past the Introduction. I put the project aside and figured I’d just never finish the book and would be forever branded as a failure as a Pagan.
Okay, that last bit is an exaggeration. Kind of. Maybe.
And then, the book came up again in discussion on The Cauldron and I decided to join a group of people in reading through it. Yes, I know, but I actually think I might be able to get through the thing if I have people to keep me accountable. I can do many many things on my own but finishing Trance-Portation is not one of them. Sorry, Ms. Paxson.
The organizer of the group effort posted the initial discussion thread, on the Introduction and Chapter One, here, and along with it came a questionnaire. I decided to bring that questionnaire over here to answer fully, and then I will summarize it in the discussion thread. So, here goes! Wish me luck!
(I’ll be writing the questions in bold, and my answers in regular formatting.)
Q1. What is your living situation? Do your family or house-mates support your spiritual practice? Will they allow you the privacy in which to practice the exercises? If you are in doubt, negotiate, or find somewhere else to work.
I currently live with my husband and two cats in a semi-detached home. My husband supports my practice, and I suspect the cats do too from how involved they seem to want to be. I will be allowed privacy to varying extents depending on the state of closed dooredness and Cat One’s ability to open said doors.
Q2. Do you belong to a prayer circle, kindred or coven, or other spiritual group? Does it practice trance work or meditation? If so, what kinds, how often and for what purposes? Are any other group members working with this book? Will your group support your efforts to master these skills?
I do not, aside from The Cauldron. Since this project is a Cauldron project, it is likely that the group will be supportive.
Q3. Do you already have a power animal or totem? How did you acquire it? How often do you contact it, or how does it contact you?
No, and I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, honestly. I think the terms are tossed around too often.
Q4. Do you have a strong affinity with/devotion to specific god/desses? How did you acquire them? How often do you contact them, or how do they contact you?
Yes, I do and, for the most part, they found me. I contact them routinely for a variety of reasons, and they do the same. Different methods are used – two speak inside my head, and all of them communicate through dreams and feelings.
Q1. How do you make a living? What states of consciousness or mental skills do you use in your job, and how did you learn to attain them?
I work in the pharmaceutical industry as (currently) a Project Manager. I use my intelligence, ability to think critically and block out distractions, and intuitive thinking in my job. I…am not sure how I learned to attain any of them.
Q2. What other work or hobbies occupy your time? What states of consciousness do you use? How did you learn to attain them?
I teach swimming lessons. I also read, play video games, crochet and knit (although I’m not very good at them yet) and garden (mostly arm-chair right now). I use the same skills in these that I use in my day job, along with an ability to get along with and manipulate people.
Q3. What is your academic training? What kind of thinking did your department teach?
I have a university degree. Because of the nature of the university I attended, a variety of thinking styles were encouraged and taught.
Q4. What strengths or skills do you already have that can help you in trance work? What do you think will be hardest to learn?
I have no idea.
Physiology and Psychology
Q1. What is your general state of health?
Pretty good, aside from chronic sinus issues and Depression.
Q2. How do you rate your temperament in the following areas? Consider the column on the left to be 1, and the column on the right to be 5. Where do you fall on the continuum?
How can I even answer these? My temperament changes, as my default state is chameleon with rage issues.
Calm – — – Lively
Depends on the situation.
Forceful — – – Responsive
3 is my default state, but it depends.
Robust — – – Sensitive
4. Or 2. Or depends.
Q3. How do you react to stress?
Sometimes I overeat. In the past, I’ve self-medicated with alcohol, but I’m pretty good at not doing that any more. Ummm…I get angry. I’m more comfortable with rage than sadness.
Q4. Do you have any chronic or cyclical problems or conditions (especially heart, blood pressure, diabetic, menstrual or menopausal symptoms) that affect your mood, energy or focus? Are you on any medications?
Gods, yes. My Depression (and why aren’t mental illnesses included in the especially?) impacts my mood, energy(?), and focus. I’m on an SSRI and a bunch of sinus and respiratory meds. Whee!
Q5. How do you react to alcohol or drugs?
I don’t use illegal substances. My reaction to alcohol depends on whether my Depression is flaring but, in general, I can handle it and like it.
Q6. How much and what kind of exercise do you get? Are you eating your vegetables?
I swim anywhere between 3 and 6 days a week for 1-4 hours. I am a pescetarian, so vegetables are a major part of my diet.
Q7. Have you ever had a life-threatening accident or illness? Did you have any weird experiences during the crisis? Did it change your attitude toward life?
My appendix burst in 1991, and I went into shock during childbirth in 1993. No weird experiences except the little red men, but that’s common with morphine. No attitude changes.
Q8. Have you been in counseling? What kind and for what? How did you respond to it?
Yes, yes, YES. A mixture of CBT, DBT, and narrative therapy since 2009 for my Depression. I love my therapist. This will be stopping in September 2014 when she closes her practice, as I don’t want to start over again with someone new, but I think I’m okay with that.
How would you rate yourself on the following topics? Excellent? Adequate? Willing to learn?
Willing to learn
Trying not to react to use of ‘shamanic’ and failing. Willing to learn if we can use another term.
Sensing and moving energy
Excellent at sensing; adequate at moving.
Adequate on average.
There’s that word again. See answer to journeying.
Highly dissatisfied with Jung and not even remotely interested.
What are your goals in beginning this training? Why do you want to learn how to do trance work? Once you have learned it, what do you want to be and do?
I’d like to better be able to explore the liminal edges, and I feel that I need to have a solid grasp of trance work in order to do so.
On to re-read the Introduction and Chapter One!