Hypnosis and Pagan Clients

I’m struck as I look at the past few weeks at the power of trances to get to the root of the issue. Therapists with hypnotherapy and hypnosis training should be looking at how their skills overlap with guided journeying and astral travel in Neo-Pagan rituals.

One of the differences between the two is that Pagans believe their soul really is traveling to a distant realm on the astral and that the Beings that they talk to while there are real and constitute contacts outside of themselves.

But the techniques are highly similar. A Wiccan coven might decide to do a guided journey to meet an aspect of the Crone to determine what their needs are for the coming year. This might very well be done in the next month or so as this is the dark time — the time of the year where you rest up from the efforts of the past year, take stock of your gains and losses, then start planning new projects to coincide with the spring. This coven would likely invoke sacred space, dim the lights, light candles and incense, and then have members relax and close their eyes while the leader walks them through a visualization of going down a tunnel into an astral realm. There they meet a goddess and are asked to individually hear what She has to say and what gifts She gives them. The coven members are then walked back up the tunnel and bought back to wakefulness — possibly soon followed by cakes and ale (food) which further brings them back into their bodies. The experiences are often then shared (which reinforces their validity since most people had them) and helps the group support everyone in attaining what the message said they needed.

Compare this with the guided meditation I recently ran with a client (and I’ve done this or similar several times). The client is trying to figure out the proper direction to go in life. So I have the client close his/her eyes, do some deep breathing for relaxation, then I have the client walk down 10 stair steps — each step taking the client deeper and deeper into relaxation, closer and closer to the place where they can see within themselves what they most need to do. We get to the bottom of the steps and I suggest all manner of possible places they might find themselves while leaving details vague. I suggest that parts of themselves or spiritual guides might show up to help them. Soon the client is describing being in the middle of an activity that feels completely right, peaceful, exciting, and productive. We close by going back up the stairs, turning the lights on, and standing up and clapping our hands a few times to fully return to room. The remander of the session is spent discussing what first steps in the real mundane world might be taken to realistically work towards the envisioned new long-range goal.

The similarities are incredible. One protocol uses words like trance induction, deepening, and calling on inner resources. The other protocol uses words like astral travel, magick, and goddesses. I’m not saying they are exactly the same — they are the same only if you don’t believe that it’s possible to leave the body, or don’t believe goddesses can actually speak to you.

But for therapists counseling Pagan clients, using the toolsets they already believe in and have practiced can make a world of difference.

To a typical Pagan client, being contacted while in trance (on the Astral plane) by an entity or God is a religious experience. It brings a whole new level of importance to the message. The message is not “merely” from the person’s own mind — it is often a Divine message to be taken much more seriously and acted upon much more promptly. There is much greater authority and belief vested in the message.

And so we reach another choice point or ethical decision point for the therapist. If you happen to be a therapist who is religiously Pagan, this is all well and good (and ordinary) for you. If you are not a Pagan therapist, how do you feel about using techniques that may bring along a Divine message? One that you don’t really believe in yourself? Do you worry that a “Divine” message may come through that the client will feel obligated to act on that you may not feel is good for the client?

Honestly, I’ve usually found such messages to be highly useful and to the highest good of the client. I’ll leave it up to you to decide then whether higher power or the client’s own unconscious was the source.

— Michael

1 Comment »

  1. Gary Oke said,

    January 6, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

    I’ve actually done a lot of hypnotherapy work with pagans and have adapted my techniques accordingly. I made the same observations as the above article when I chose to train as a hypnotherapist. As owner of a pagan shop across the street from my practice and as a speaker at pagan events, you can imagine how many of my clients have been pagans! As Michael state, whatever the source, the most important thing is the client’s wellbeing.

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