Inducing Trance with Body Postures
There are quite some different approaches on inducing trance with body postures. The staða of the runic ymnastics, the trance-postures of Felicitas Goodmann, Austin Osman Spares "Death Posture", parts of the indian system of yoga, qi gong and tai-ji. Most of them are not strictly counting to shamanistic induction of trance. Doubtless, trance is being induced by any of the mentioned systems, but they are rather specialized forms and not shamanic in background and effects. Only in connection with the western ceremonial magic of the early twentieth century yoga can be mentioned. Aleister Crowley did the large step of combining western magic with the yogic systems of pranayama and hatha yoga. I already described in detail the staða of the runes on an other place of my site, if you are interested, consult my summaries on Staða and Mudras of the Runes.
Trance-postures of Felicitas Goodmann
Trance is a common part of our life for many thousands of years. It seems to be a deep urge of altering the consciousness by various means. The scientist Felicitas Goodmann discovered that prehistoric figures and pictures of humans are showing certain body postures. Over the whole world and over long time spans of many thousand years these positions remained nearly unchanged. She discovered around 30 different postures with trance-inducing effects. That this knowledge is not counting to the lost and forgotten knowledge can easily being proofed by watching traditional shamans in various cultures. The shaman Kxao ≠Oah, a blind Juℜ ´hoan Healer for example uses the bear-position to heal a pregnant woman (photographed by R. Katz, shown in "Shaman's Drum", Number 47, page 40). I observed that pregnant women often use the position of calling the spirits during the later stages of their pregnancy. Well, the experiences you make are determined by the posture you are using and range from journeys to special locations to healing sessions for yourself. The general technique is simple. First the spirit of the body posture is being called into the cirlce. After relaxation and concentration exercises you asume the posture and the leading person starts to rattle or drum for fifteen minutes, thus offering rhythmical stimulus for inducing the special trance experience. The attendants need not to know what the posture exactly induces - the interesting thing is that the experiences are very similar, even if I don't reveal the effects of the individual posture. Goodmann states these effect is genetical burried deep within our heritage because the effects are kicking in, even if you don't know the position.
Aleister Crowley combined within his magical works the teachings of eastern systems with western magic. An important part is control of body and the mind. Crowley adapted the asana and the pranayama of the indian yogic system to achieve these goals. At last it is rather unimportant how the posture looks like you asume as asana. Any position is rather uncomfortable if asumed more then a few moments. Shamanic trance is rather opposing this kind of trance-induction. The exercises are offering a very good tool of improving your imaginative abilities and your emotional response to the spirits. Spontaneity is suppressed, however.
The "Death Posture" of Austin Osman Spare
Here I am quoting Spare himself, how the Death Posture is being used to achieve the "Neither-Neither" consciousness:
"Lying on your back lazily, the body expressing the condition of yawning, suspiring while conceiving by smiling, that is the idea of the posture. Forgetting time with those things which were essential-reflecting their meaninglessness, the moment is beyond time and its virtue has happened.
Standing on tip-toe, with the arms rigid, bound behind by the hands, clasped and straning the utmost, the neck streched- breathing deeply and spasmodically, till giddy and sensation comes in gusts, gives exhaustion and capacity for the former. (Remark A.Adler: Spare uses the hyperventilation as another inducing technique).
Gazing at your reflection till it is blurred and you know not the gazer, close your eyes (this usually happens involuntarily) and visualize. The light (always an X in curious evolutions) that is seen should be held on to, never letting go, till the effort is forgotten, this gives a feeling of immensity (which sees a small form ), whose limit you cannot reach. This should be practised before experiencing the
foregoing. The emotion that is felt is the knowledge which tells you why."
Spares Death Posture is a combination of various different trance-inducing techniques: Body Posture, Concentration and Hyperventilation. The additional useage of entheogenic spirits is an excellent addition to the posture.