Norman W Wilson, PhD
The shamanic trance, of all a shaman does, is most often discussed and is frequently viewed as the ultimate experience in shamanism. The shamanic trance is not something that can be achieved with one lesson from some site on the internet or can it be thoroughly learned from a seminar or internet course. Practice makes perfect is the credo.
Generally speaking there are four basic levels of a shamanic trance. Stages might be more appropriate. It is not the intent or is it the suggestion that a shaman goes through each of these levels each time he or she goes into a trance. Well practiced shaman may very well go directly to the fourth level or stage in the trance.
The first level is common among beginners. One has a sense of being physically relaxed; even drowsy. There is a tendency to just stare off into space, unseeing. The pulse rate slows.
The second level produces a feeling that the whole body is heavy; a sense of detachment occurs. There may be visual illusions and you will be aware you are in a trance.
The third level brings full recognition that you are in a trance. Here you may actually choose a part of your body to not feel pain. There is a greater sensitivity to temperature changes as well as to atmospheric pressure. There will be loss of voluntary motion and reaction of external stimuli.
The fourth and final stage or level of the shamanic trance your eyes may be opened and cause no ill effect in the trance. Control over several body functions such as heart beat, blood pressure, and body temperature become possible. Memories will be recalled and age regression may come into play. There will be a feeling of lightness, of floating or flying. Visual and auditory hallucinations are possible while at this level of the trance.
The shaman who is in this stage travels into dreamtime and there receives his or her instruction.