An individual in a trance appears to be in a sleeplike condition which is usually accompanied by an indifference to his objective environment and an amnesia to whatever occurs during the period that he is in this state. Trance has a more popular usage than a scientific designation. It can describe a daze state resulting from drugs, illness, prolonged contemplation, or other agencies.

Mystics can induce trances, or altered states of consciousness, by fasting, positioning himself in strained physical postures, and intense concentration. He becomes unaware of his physical environment including all physical discomfort which he may be experiencing. Instead he experiences deep emotional revelations or significance intellectual adventures.

When the term trance is used in Neo-paganism, such as witchcraft and shamanism it usually refers to altered states of consciousnessA.G.H.


trance meanings and applications

Trance, in both its popular and specialized usages, refers to an altered state of consciousness, distinct from normal waking consciousness. It is characterized by a variety of experiences and phenomena, depending on the context in which it occurs.


General Characteristics

  • Sleeplike State: Trance often resembles a sleep-like condition but is fundamentally different from ordinary sleep.
  • Indifference to Surroundings: Individuals in a trance usually show an apparent indifference or lack of awareness of their objective environment.
  • Amnesia: It’s common for people to experience amnesia regarding what transpired during the trance state.


Induction of Trance

  • Various Causes: Trance states can be induced through multiple methods, including drugs, illness, exhaustion, or intense concentration and contemplation.
  • Mystical Practices: Mystics and spiritual practitioners may enter trances through fasting, adopting strained physical postures, and engaging in intense concentration or meditation.


Experiences During Trance

  • Emotional and Intellectual Experiences: In a trance, the individual may undergo profound emotional revelations or intellectual insights.
  • Disconnection from Physical Discomfort: The person in a trance often becomes unaware of physical discomfort or the environment, focusing instead on internal experiences.


Trance in Mysticism and Spirituality

  • Mystics and Altered States: Mystics across various cultures have used trance states as a means to experience spiritual revelations, divine encounters, or deep introspection.
  • Purposeful Induction: Unlike trances induced by external factors like drugs or illness, mystics often induce trance states deliberately as part of their spiritual practice.


Trance in Neo-Paganism and Shamanism

  • Altered States of Consciousness: In Neo-Pagan practices, including witchcraft and shamanism, trance is often equated with altered states of consciousness.
  • Spiritual and Ritualistic Use: These altered states are used for various purposes, such as connecting with spiritual entities, performing rituals, divination, or healing practices.


Modern Interpretations and Use

  • Therapeutic Applications: In modern times, trance states are sometimes used in therapeutic settings, such as in certain types of hypnotherapy, to access subconscious thoughts and promote healing.
  • Continued Spiritual Practice: Trance continues to be a significant aspect of various spiritual and religious practices, where it is seen as a gateway to deeper spiritual insights and experiences.

Source: (Philip L. Harriman, Professor of Psychology, Buckwell University61.