Attaining Altered States of Consciousness Via Physical Distress

A lot of theurgy and thaumaturgy relies on altered states of consciousness and cermonial magicans rely on a variety of means to attain same via meditation, “banishing” rituals, elaborate costuming and set design,  using entheogens etc. And physical stress can be a tool as well.  Academic papers have been posted on the subject and here’s one to follow up what we posted several weeks ago. The abstract reads:

“Extreme rituals (body-piercing, fire-walking, etc.) are anecdotally associated with altered states of consciousness—subjective alterations of ordinary mental functioning (Ward, 1984)—but empirical evidence of altered states using both direct and indirect measures during extreme rituals in naturalistic settings is limited. Participants in the “Dance of Souls”, a 3.5-hour event during which participants received temporary piercings with hooks or weights attached to the piercings and danced to music provided by drummers, responded to measures of two altered states of consciousness. Participants also completed measures of positive and negative affect, salivary cortisol (a hormone associated with stress), self-reported stress, sexual arousal, and intimacy. Both pierced participants (pierced dancers) and non-pierced participants (piercers, piercing assistants, observers, drummers, and event leaders) showed evidence of altered states aligned with transient hypofrontality (Dietrich, 2003; measured with a Stroop test) and flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; measured with the Flow State Scale). Both pierced and non-pierced participants also reported decreases in negative affect and psychological stress and increases in intimacy from before to after the ritual. Pierced and non-pierced participants showed different physiological reactions, however, with pierced participants showing increases in cortisol and non-pierced participants showing decreases from before to during the ritual. Overall, the ritual appeared to induce different physiological effects but similar psychological effects in focal ritual participants (i.e., pierced dancers) and in participants adopting other roles.”

Read the whole paper here:


Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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