Shamanic Trance Dance is an ancient method that has been used by indigenous cultures such as the Aborigines of Australia and the Bushman of the Kalahari for tens of thousands of years. The past 30 years have shown a great growth of interest for Trance Dance in the West. Dance practitioners, psychologists and therapists are developing ways to integrate this practice into modern life.
The desired outcome of a Trance Dance is to attain the “Shamanic State of Consciousness” (SSC). The SSC opens participants to an inner world of visions and other sensory information totally distinct from everyday experience. The dance begins with a blindfold (for each participant) and a very specific frequency of drum rhythm, stimulating a change in our brainwaves and thereby helping participants to enter into the Shamanic State of Consciousness.
Wilbert Alix, founder of the contemporary Trance Dance movement, describes it in few words:
“Imagine a darkness so intense and so complete it makes you see with your heart instead of your eyes.”
SSC is far from an “ordinary state of consciousness” (OSC). Our everyday walking state offers us uncensored thoughts and problems difficult to sort out and resolve with the rational mind alone. SSC is a place where the mind slows down and thought frequency reduces in volume. This gives us the possibility of increased wisdom and ease in finding solutions to our many life issues. The intention we bring to Trance Dance directly correlates to the benefits we get from it. Surprising solutions can arise concerning the state of our relationships, professional themes, etc.
Wilbert Alix states:
“Shaman(s) experience their entire body as a thinking organism. By stimulating the body and mind simultaneously, shamans journey to parallel realities where solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems are possible.”
While solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems is one of the wonderful benefits of Trance Dance, there exists other important reasons to spend time in a Shamanic State of Consciousness. In our Ordinary State of Consciousness we tend to perceive ourselves as separate from “others”, be they other people, other life forms or the Earth herself.
When Trance Dance brings us to a Shamanic State of Consciousness, we cease to feel separate. We enter into a dance with all as one. Moreover, we become aware everything has spirit, voice, heart, and feelings. This is not simply a belief. In the SSC this becomes a heartfelt experience.
Michael Harner, author of “Way of the Shaman States”:
“The Shamanic State of Consciousness involves a deep respect for all forms of life, with a humble awareness of our dependance on the plants, animals and even inorganic matter of our planet. The Shaman knows that humans are related to all forms of life, that they are ‘all our relations’.”
We are at a turning point in our evolution as a species. We can travel further and further into the world of our inventions, our technologies and our self-centred thoughts, living a dream that is separate from the dream of the Earth. Or we can choose to consciously connect back with the Earth and her multitude of inhabitants, and work towards living in a way that honours her and the divinity of all life.
“While I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; For I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being... And I saw that it was holy.” (Black Elk, Sioux Medicine Man) •