bitterwitchx: (Default)
A big technique--probably the most popular. Traditional Shamans have used drums and in some regions there are certain places they go to play drums to enhance the induction of trance via drumming because of the way the drumming echoes.

.. still in progress ..
bitterwitchx: (Default)
Trance postures aid in the art of inducing trance and this is most likely due to the amount of stress on the body and/or change in blood flow to the different parts of the body. For example, there is a posture called the "Nupe Mallam" that I have tried and had rather quickly gone into a light trance. The reason for only going into a light trance was because I was very aware of my surroundings and only wanted to try the posture. The posture is rather stressful on the arm and blood flow to the leg is cut off a bit. One will experience a bit of numbness in both extremities.

Nupe Mallam diviner (Mair 1969: 94)

Here is an excerpt by Howard G. Charing on how to position the body into a Nupe Mallam posture:
Sit on the floor, leaning toward your left and supported by your left arm. Hold your left arm rigid, with your hand at a right angle to your body. Place your left hand at a spot three to five inches to the left of your body and just behind a straight line drawn along the back of your buttocks. Bend both legs at the knees with both feet pointing to the right, positioned so that your left foot is resting just to the left of your right knee. Place your right hand on your lower left leg, where the muscle indents about halfway down your calf. Move your head slightly to the left, so you are looking over your left knee, and close your eyes.

And he gives the basic tips that one should have a a clear intent and listen to drumming and/or rattling to enhance and aid in the experience, however one should know to have an intent before participating in hedge-riding. Why would one cross the boundaries for no reason? Charing's article is exploring shamanism, though, not a hedgewitch's practice.

Gore's and Goodman's writings claim that different postures have different feeling associated with them, and once again this is most likely due to the postures either restricting blood flow or being positioned in such an abnormal way that the blood flows differently throughout the body. Goodman's experimentation results on different postures and shamanic trance has in fact shown the different feelings associated with different postures and trance induction. These feelings include physical and emotional changes, such as tingling or numbness in the body and significant changes in mood.

We see different ecstatic body postures in different cultures and they have no doubt affected consciousness in some way or another because of the physiological changes occurring when one changes their body posture and ultimately changing blood flow.



☆ Barendsen, Kristin. "Sing the Body Ecstatic!" Yoga Journal 133 (1997): 166. Print.
☆ Goodman, F. D. "Body Posture and the Religious Altered State of Consciousness: An Experimental Investigation." Journal of Humanistic Psychology 26.3 (1986): 81-118. Print.
☆ Goodman, Felicitas D. Where the Spirits Ride the Wind: Trance Journeys and Other Ecstatic Experiences. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990. Print.
☆ Gore, Belinda. Ecstatic Body Postures: an Alternate Reality Workbook. Santa Fe, NM: Bear &, 1995. Print.


Where the Spirits Ride the Wind: Trance Journeys and Other Ecstatic Experiences
bitterwitchx: (Default)

In some practices for crossing the hedge, or travelling between the worlds, disorientation often plays a part in such. For anyone who has experienced sleep deprivation, he or she knows that disorientation often accompanies the inability (or perhaps choosing not to sleep and for other various reasons) to sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a technique some shamans or crossers use to aid in walking between the worlds. Sleep deprivation provides such a sense of detachment from one's physical body. This sense of detachment provides the ease of walking between the worlds as one may not necessarily feel as they are grounded, or "in the moment", being that they do not feel like they are currently within their own world (Midgard).

Personally, sleep deprivation is one of my preferred techniques to walk between the worlds for reasons as I stated above. Sleep deprivation gives me such a feeling of detachment that if I start to dance or listen to drumming, my disorientation and sense of detachment from my physical body increases threefold, resulting in the ultimate goal of travelling down into the Underworld.
bitterwitchx: (Default)

Los Caprichos by Goya

What is hedge-riding?

Hedge-riding is when one's spirit takes flight into one of the Otherworlds (either the Upperworld or the Underworld) in search of wisdom, speaking with the dead and ancestors, etc.

What is the symbolism of the hedge?

The hedge was a boundary between worlds and separated outside life with inside life. "Riding" the hedge is crossing into that outdoor world, the "wild" world. The hedge is a symbol of Midgard (or middle earth; physical realm), in between the Upperworld and the Underworld.

Hedge-rider, according to Eric de Vries, can be translated from many languages: Middle Dutch: Haghetesse, German: Hagazussa, Old Norse: Hagzissa, Old English: Haegtesse. Hedge-riding is shamanic in origin.

Hedge-riders usually go down into the Underworld in search of unseen wisdom or to talk to the spirits of the dead, which dwell in the Underworld (some may see it as a river). The Underworld is a place of wisdom, as seen by the Norse belief in the Well of Wisdom, which is guarded by Mimir, a giant who is sometimes called a water demon and who is also the god of prophecy and wisdom, ponds, and waters. Odin, the main father figure of the Germanic pantheon, went down to Mimir's well to drink to gain wisdom; he was searching for wisdom. Death can be seen in Greek mythology: Hades was the god of the Underworld, the keeper of souls.

The Upperworld is the home of the divine (for example, in the Greek pantheon Zeus rules); it's where our teachers, guides, spiritual masters, etc. are found. We travel here for answers to our questions from our guides and such.

How does one hedge-ride?

Trance and altered consciousness is essential! One must be aware of all their senses and be able to see, hear, feel, etc. things that are not there. One must have an altered state of consciousness in order for the spirit to take flight. There are stories of hedge-riders/journeyers who ride easily while in a state of utter confusion and illness. For example, some Native American shaman tribes use peyote, a psychoactive plant, that makes one's stomach purge because it is intoxicating. Peyote is an entheogen; an entheogen is a "vision-producing drug that figure in shamanic or religious rites" (Ruck et al. 1979). Entheogens are used to aid in inducing trance, to alter consciousness.

Flying ointments are often seen referenced in many areas as well. These ointments were said to, when applied on the broomstick/stang or the body of the witch, enable the witch to fly. Flying ointments often contain hallucinogenic compounds in order to alter the witch's consciousness. Traditional flying ointments were said to have contained fat of an unbaptized baby, which gave the ointment it's solubility. But in reality, this was lard. Aconite was said to have been included in many ointments, which affects the heart and aids in a feeling of flying. Belladonna produces delirium, hemlock produces excitement and later sends the body into paralysis; sweet flag, mugwort, and cinquefoil are also traditional in flying ointments. There are "traditional" flying ointment materials and compounds. These hallucinogenic drugs are NOT used like today's people would use them. They were used in proper dosages so one would not be poisoned or become ill.

Today there are various ways to induce trance. Many start off meditating or listening to drumming, rattling, etc. and then slowly go deeper into trance, getting rid of all physical feeling and moving toward creating that feeling of flight with one's spirit; usually at the beginning, some may start off listening and focusing on their breathing or heartbeat. Visualization usually comes after the beginning, but if one is still in their mind, they are not hedge-riding. Visualization helps aid the hedge-rider into being at the realm they would like to go. Once the visualization becomes more and more clear and real, you know you have crossed; when one has crossed one doesn't have to think about what is there, it just is. The "new age" term for hedge-riding could be considered astral travel because the goal of astral travel is to release your spirit in order to travel to other realms.

I'm not quite happy with the article yet, I will be writing more about this subject!

Further Reading & Recipes:
Scott Cunningham's The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews (for flying ointments, search it under the book cover thumbnail)
Diana L. Paxson's Trance-Portation: Learning To Navigate The Inner World
Christopher Penczak's The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft
Michael J. Harner's The Way of the Shaman
Walking The Hedge Forum: Flying Ointments



☆ Ball, Martin W. Mushroom Wisdom: How Shaman Cultivate Spiritual Consciousness. Berkeley, Calif.: Ronin Pub., 2006. Print.
☆ De Vries, Eric. Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld. Sunland: Pendraig, 2008. Print.
☆ Gottlieb, Adam. Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti. Berkeley, CA: Ronin Pub., 1997. Print.
☆ Morford, Mark, and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. New York: Oxford UP, 2003. Print.
☆ Penczak, Christopher. The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft: Shadows, Spirits, and the Healing Journey. St. ☆ Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2005. Print.
☆ Turner, Patricia, and Charles Russell Coulter. Dictionary of Ancient Deities. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.
☆ Walker, Barbara G. The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983. Print.

☆ Podcast: The Unnamed Path: Deathwalking

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