The goal of the shaman is to commune with the spirit world to bring about his quest. To do so, he must go into a trance state. Some aboriginal shamans use specific hallucinogenic drugs. Because of the inherent danger of such a use they are not recommended as the way to induce a trance state.
The use of drugs is not only dangerous psychologically but also physically. Additionally, they may very well limit the control and cooperation the shaman may achieve within the spiritual world. Other writers will undoubtedly disagree. The ability to control a trance is essential and takes strong mental conditioning. It is not something you gain overnight.
A trance state may be achieved through self-hypnosis, by altering the brain’s theta waves, through deep meditation, and through astral projection. Music, dancing, chanting may be used to induce the trance state. During this self-induced trance the shaman’s spirit (soul) leaves the body and enters the world of the supernatural-to mind-walk-seeking answers to his quest.
The shamanic trance is non-focused. He acts as an information receptacle until a specific message is received from the spirit world. Once the message is received and the messenger is acknowledged, the shaman will come out of his trance and provide an interpretation.
Joseph Bearwalker Wilson in a 1978 treatise provides an excellent discussion of a theory of trance. He has said the shaman uses the trance state to fine tune his senses. Using those enhanced senses, the shaman then, is able to mind-travel to the spiritual world, to enter a different dimension.
Norman W Wilson, PhD
Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. In addition to over 90 published articles on the internet, Dr. Wilson is the author of three speculative fiction novels: The Quest Seeking the New Adam, Adam:The Transformation, and Apocalyptic Adam.