Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magic 1 for Priests Part 3

3. Discuss the existence and relative function of trance-journey magic within at least one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

                There are many examples of trance-journey in the Hellenic culture. Luck says “The ancients also believed that in a state of trance, the soul leaves the body and is granted visions. Such a state can be induced by a ritual. The highest form of ecstasy is the union of the soul with the divinity… But trance does not always lead to this ultimate experience, though it may open up another world” (Luck 299). Luck goes on to talk about how the trance of the Pythia, priestesses of Apollo at the world famous Delphi, suggests it was influenced or centered on the earth itself. The Pythia would sit upon a tripod which rested over a crevice in the temple floor. From this crevice vapors from within the earth rose up to be inhaled by the prophetess priestess. This would suggest a more traditional type trance as suggested by Michael Harner in his book The Way of the Shaman. The Querient, person seeking the advice of the Pythia, would make proper sacrifices before presenting his or her question to one of the male priests who serviced as an interpreter for the Pythia. Once the Pythia received the message from Apollo she would relay this to the priest who would then give an answer to the Querient (Middlesworth). There was a commonly held belief that the gods themselves would or could not associate with morals directly, but it was “… daimons who bridged the gap and made the contact” (Johnston 10) between mortal and divine. I speculate that this had something to do with the belief that mortals could not fully comprehend or withstand the true presence of the divine. Daimons or “[daimons] are interpreters and ferrymen, carrying divine things to morals and mortal things to the gods; requests and sacrifices from below and commandments and answers from above” (Johnston 9).

Much of what is mentioned about trance-journey states in Hellenic culture seem to refer to clairvoyant/prophetic use or in with connecting with the divine to take on aspects of specific deities, what today we might call divine possession. It is through this divine connection that the person in the trance state is able to take on some semblance of the powers of the divine which this trance state allowed him/her to connect with.
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