There are a lot of new magicians coming onto the forum, and I’ve noticed that some seem to be confused about the trance state required for magick so I thought I’d do a little info drop to help.
We talk a lot about the Theta/Gamma Sync here, but I think it is important to point out that Theta is not necessary for most magick. All you really need is an Alpha state, which is fairly simple to achieve. A state as deep as Theta is only necessary for the full physical manifestation of spirits, or what is known as evocation.
A simple rundown of the various brainwave states:
Beta - this is your every day waking consciousness.
Alpha - this is what is commonly called “deep relaxation” and is something that most people enter naturally when they watch TV or “zone out.”
Theta - is a deep trance state and you pass through it every night as you fall asleep and again as you wake up. It is also called the hynogogic state or the “mind-awake, body-asleep” state.
Delta - is the sleep state.
If you are interested in the science of brainwaves and the exact HZ of each state, there is plenty of information available on the web but it is unnecessary for our purposes here.
We all slide between Beta and Alpha all the time during the day, but what we need to learn for magick is how to consciously control it so we can use the state at will.
To enter an Alpha state, we can use a few simple tricks.
Progressive Relaxation - this is a method to relieve the surface tension of your body and is the first stage to a trance state. Starting at either your feet or your head, tense each body part, one at a time, and hold the tension for a moment, and then release it. The sudden release will spread a wave of relaxation down your body. Doing this for each body part will also begin to relax your mind, and, with practice can even lead to a light Alpha state on its own.
Another method I learned from EA’s book Questing After Visions, is to visualize a silver cloud just above your head. Feel the soft, relaxing glow of this cloud radiating down upon you. It’s not important to actually see the cloud, but feel the warmth of it. Now, with an inhalation, pull the cloud down onto the top of your head. Feel your scalp, and even your hair follicles relax. Exhale and feel all your tension flow into the cloud. With another inhalation, draw the cloud down over your face, and feel it remove all the tension. Continue drawing the cloud down your body with your breath, feeling all the tension draining away. Once you get to your feet, see the cloud dissolve into the floor beneath you, taking all your tension with it.
Once you have completed your progressive relaxation, focus your awareness on your breath, and just follow the natural flow. Don’t try to control it or anything, but just sit with it for a few moments.
Some teachers would have you regulate your breath in a certain pattern, like the 4-fold breath, where you breath in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four, and then hold your lungs empty for a count of four. This has never worked for me, as it led to more bodily tension, not less, so I like to keep it to a simple, natural rhythm, something I learned from EA’s work.
Now, we get into the meat of the trance state. Here I will list a few techniques that have worked for me.
The Countdown - I first learned this from the work of Christopher Penczak, who adapted it from another technique by Laurie Cabot. It was the first technique to successfully put me into a proper altered state and I still use it to this day.
After focusing on your breath for a few moments, bring your focus to the screen of your eyelids. In the darkness, visualize the number 13. Hold it for a moment, and then let it fade away. Next, visualize the number 12, hold it in your sight for a moment, and then let it fade away. Continue this countdown until you get to 1.
Once the countdown is complete, focus again on your breath for a moment or two. Your head may feel slightly heavy at this point.
Once again, bring your focus to the screen of your eyelids. Now, begin to countdown from 12, only this time, instead of visualizing the numbers, say them to yourself in your mind. I like to say them and then listen to them echo inside my skull, as if I am projecting them to the ends of the universe.
When you complete the second countdown, once again focus on your breath. Follow it in and out, and allow the altered state to stabilize. You are now in a light to medium Alpha state. From here, you can perform banishing rituals, journeying, candle magick, divination, scrying, open seals and communicate with spirits.
With practice, the state you reach will become deeper and deeper, and eventually move into Theta.
To come out of trance, count up, first from 1-12, and then from 1-13. No need to visualize the numbers this time.
Practicing the relaxation and countdown only takes about 15-20 minutes, and daily practice can cut that time down to only a few minutes, so please don’t say you “don’t have time.” If you don’t have time to spend 15 minutes in preparation for ritual, then you don’t have time for the spirits.
There are many variations on the countdown technique so here is another version to try:
This one comes from Jason Newcomb’s Book of Magical Power:
Visualize a grapefruit sized globe of white light directly above your head. This globe is your Superconscious Mind, your connection to Spirit, to the Eternal Source of everything. Feel a relaxing, loving feeling emanating this globe of light.
Now draw the light down, and as it touches your head, feel your head filling up with this peaceful, relaxing light. As your head fills with light, feel every part of it relaxing. Mentally say to yourself, “Ten.”
Feel the light flow down into your neck and shoulders, erasing all tension and replacing it with peaceful relaxation. Say to yourself, “Nine.”
Feel the light flow down into your chest, relaxing the muscles and even the organs inside. Mentally say, “Eight.”
Allow the light to flow down into your arms, hands, and fingers, until they are full, and feel completely relaxed. Tell yourself, “Seven.”
Feel the light flow into your belly and your back. Tell yourself, “Six.”
Allow the light to continue to flow down into your groin and buttocks. Tell yourself, “Five.”
Allow the light to flow down into your thighs, erasing all tension in its path. Tell yourself, “Four.”
Feel the light flow into your knees, relaxing them. Say, “Three.”
Feel the light flow into your shins. Say, “Two.”
Allow the light to flow into your feet and toes. Say, “One.”
Rest in the Alpha state.
The key to any trance technique is practice. As with anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
The last technique I’ll give you to try is a little different as it requires a candle:
Light the candle (colour doesn’t matter) and focus on the flame. Let your mind quiet down and begin to be drawn in by the flame. Watch it dance.
As you watch the flame, tell yourself out loud “As I count down from 10, my eyes will be drawn to the flame, unable to leave it.” Then count down, feeling your gaze being drawn deeper and deeper into the flame. If it doesn’t work the first time, repeat the countdown until it does.
Next, eyes locked to the flame, tell yourself, “As I count down from 10, all my psychic centres will open up.” Count down, allowing any images that come into your mind to flow back and forth, as you sink deeper into the maddening dance of the flame. You can use the ensuing trance state for whatever you want, like scrying into the flame, or chanting an incantation or conjuration or mediumship.
NOTE: This exercise opens you up to the energetic currents around you, and is a bit more “occult” than the others, so you should perform a banishing ritual before and after practicing it, to prevent any unwanted possession or obsession.
That’s all there is to it… Getting into a trance state useful for magick really can be that simple. Most of all, have fun!