Empathic Berserkergang

Hello everyone. Even though the somafera forum is long gone, I still talk to enough somaferans to keep learning new things about all of this. And one of the new things I have learned about in recent times is the combination of an empathic nature with a berserker one. And the guy I learned about it from has kindly agreed to write something on the subject. So here it is.


Hello all! Wayland asked me to write something to give some insight into how i experience Berserkergang. The best way I can describe it would be to identify myself as a Berserker-Empath. I 100% identify as an empath, while i 100% identify as a berserker as well. I cant really say what came first but i remember as far back as a child having different experiences that could fall under either category.

The first time that i remember blacking out was in kindergarten. I had a problem with a bully on my school bus, who was much bigger than me, and I told my father. He said to me “You better knock his fucking block off.” I remember him being very calm, but adament about it. I have no recollection of what happened with the bully and I. I just remember that he didn’t mess with me anymore. When I got older my parents informed me that I really hurt him. So much that his parents came to our house. I don’t remember any of that at all.

My household had substance abuse and some domestic issues that led to my parents getting a divorce. During my younger years, without my father, I was a lot more timid and allowed kids to push me around to a certain extent. I still got into fights but I wasn’t as confident. While this was going on, my brother and I got to a point where, on different occasions, he might be thinking of a song and I would sing it and vice-versa. That was normal for us. I never thought anything of it until i got older and it started to happen with other people. It’s not something that i’ve mastered….i don’t even know if i want to master it. I just know when it happens with people, i have to really examine who they are so I don’t pick up negative things like habits and thought patterns. Some people have energy so good that just being in their presence is soothing…..but i digress.

So, in the 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade i would get into altercations with other kids while just trying to stand up for myself. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade i got into full fledge violent fights. I actually bit a another kid in the 7th grade on the face because i so mad that he hit me with a brush. 9th grade is what really stands out though. I was terrified of being bullied in highschool because i knew how mean kids could be and i knew that i probably wouldn’t be able to handle it.

It was the first time that i noticed that i blacked out during a fight. i had no recollection of what happened but I was covered in the other guys blood and my knuckles had cuts from punching him in the teeth. I only remember him getting within three feet of me and then i was being held against a wall being told to calm down by the biggest guy in the room. I’ll never forget the look on his face, like something was wrong with me. I thought the other guy got the better of me until people were telling me that I won the fight. i don’t remember throwing any punches at him at all. I do remember the teacher getting between us, though. I think that is because she was innocent, but it was very brief and that is the only thing I do remember.

The next year, I got into a fight with another guy who was a bully. He had been just talking $hit to me for over a year. One day, i woke up and decided that that was the day that if he said anything, i was going to do something about it. i got off at his bus stop and overwhelmed him, very easily.  When i walked back to my neighborhood him and his friends were waiting on me. In my memory they, jumped me but didn’t hurt me…according to my brother and my neighbor, they could not overwhelm me. To this day, I’m not 100% certain what happened.

My senior year is when I had my first of what I would call a ” jedi moment” . I think that would be the equivalent to your Dagaz moment, if im understanding it correctly. During the summer after graduation, some friends from school were playing tackle football at our old middle school field. It was something they did and i came that day. I remember one guy was blatanly tripping people. i was nrevous because i knew that if he tripped me, i would hit him and then i would have an issue with the other guys because they were from the same neighborhood. On the next play, i was running the ball and while i was scrambling, the guy was on my side and i FELT when he was going to try and trip me and I jumped over his foot with perfect timing.

During my years in college is when I really noticed things, mostly things that involved ESP and the such. I’ll try to keep it short but basically, i noticed that i was sensitive to my surroundings and people, the energy, the vibrations. This is also when i started to learn martial arts. My first trainer opened my eyes to how little i knew about fighting, i eventually was able to get the better of him. This also continued with a friend who had been practicing martial arts since he was a child. Even though my technique wasn’t as clean, i could hang with him and even hurt him (on accident) on different occasions.

During my time in college, i noticed that when i would have these anxiety attacks but they would be beneficial. on one occasion, i got challenged to a foot race and i was so nervous that i had one of these attacks. Afterwards, i beat the guy that challenged me and even a member of my college track team. At the time, i was a smoker so it took a lot of people by surprise. I knew that there was something there but i couldnt identify it until now.

Through the years, i had started to go to combat sports gyms: boxing, mma, kickboxing and could hang with and even outlast people that had been there longer and even beat some of the more seasoned guys. After going through Wayland’s research, I have demonstrated quite a few of the special traits of berserkergang, such a being able to reset and outlast people who were supposed to be in better shape. i train and work out often but i have also had my bouts of exessive smoking and drinking do to my own mental health issues and still would be able to overwhelm opponents and sparring partners.

Being energetically sensitive, i would be set off very easily by things in my environment or people. One situation is when someone had an anxiety attack next to me and i ended up having one but i could see his WHY behind his attack. He confirmed when he spoke. I had developed a way to use this during fighting. It is a meditation called the hakalau. It is a visual mediation where you engage your peripheral vision with your central vision. You all call it Wide angle vision, if I’m not mistaken. (Wayland, you have a lot of good research.) The purpose of the hakalau is to hold this vision for as long as possible. After my own research, i’ve come to find out that this meditation can help induce a trance. Originally, i learned it to see auras lol….and i thought that the better i got at using my peripheral vision the more control i could get over my peripheral nervous system, which houses the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight response.

i didnt think much of the parasympathetic nervous system except for healing and recovery. I didnt understand how they could work together until recently. I brought to Wayland’s attention, the site that spoke about the Flow State and how similar it was to the gangr. One of the aspects that were really interesting was using the same peripheral exercise to induce a flow state and that helped me as well. I started to do more research on it’s function and uses. As i learned more about using this peripheral vision meditation, i also learned that my perception of time could be altered this way. One thing i did was a clock exercise, where i would get a digital clock, unplug it and plug it back in and while it was flashing, i would try and change the rhythm of this. i became successful and good enough at it where i could do this while fighting. i like to think that this was a Madspace initiated gangr and as emotional content became higher, the more i would get into it.

I havent gone all the way into it to be honest due to fear of really hurting someone. Spritually, i feel like the spirit of deceased fighters, coaches and warriors are with me when i train and when i fight or spar such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Cus Damoto, Bruce Lee. I like to follow simple priniciples in my training: Strength, speed and right action. Same as you all. I try to stay consistent with my conditioning. My thinking is that if im in really good shape, when i elevate then i will be even sharper, stronger and have more stamina in that state. When i elevate and i use the hakalau, i will see colors around objects. Things look brighter. Having more control over my sense of time, i do believe that this puts me in a low level Warfetter and training so much in right action helps excecute to the point where i can overwhelm a seasoned fighter.

I’m still trying to find a balance between being empathic and being a berserker. Being so easily triggered doesn’t help because i get enraged easily if i don’t police myself.  One occasion, i felt another berserker (he didn’t know, but he understood the power of the adrenaline) energy when they were in an aroused state enough that i elevated as well. There is so much more that i could add but i don’t want to write a novel unless anyone wants to know more or have any questions.


In some ways, a story any berserker can relate to. There are certain things most of us share in common. I find the empathic angle to be particularly interesting. It’s not something I ever ran across in the Pack days. I do keep coming back to the connection between having an empathic experience and the hakalau. Why does engaging wide-angle, peripheral vision trigger an empathic state? The systems do not seem connected, on the surface. Understanding why could unearth useful information about how all of this works.

Anyway, thank you for sharing this all with us.

How to Break Through the Berserker Amnesia

Hello everyone. I was recently talking to a psychologist of my acquaintance about the psychological elements of the gangr, and in the course of the conversation we touched on a subject I realized I need to post about here. That subject is memory and blackouts.

Every berserker is different, of course. But there are a lot of things we tend to have in common. One of these things is the blackout that comes with the change, in the early days. Young berserkers, when the change first starts coming over them, tend to black out when it happens, and to be unable to recall anything that happened in that state afterward. It was that way for me, and for at least half of the other berserkers I talked to, and that’s hundreds.

Some of us figure out why this happens, and how to stop it from happening. After that, we can transition from normal state to berserk state without any blackout or loss of memories. It is the first step in the process of achieving control.

Back in the days of the old Pack, and the forum, we had a huge store of information for new berserkers to benefit from. Since the loss of the forum, that storehouse is unfortunately lost. It really should have occurred to me before now to post on this subject, for the benefit of any young berserkers dealing with this issue.

The key to remembering is the fact that memory is state-dependent. When the beast is in the driver’s seat, your mind is working VERY differently than it does when the human’s in the driver’s seat. The key to recovering your memories after a gangr is trying to get into a similar state of mind. You do not, fortunately, have to actually go berserk to do it, but you do need to take a step or two in that direction.

Now, the blackout doesn’t usually start until you’re fully berserk. So you should have some memories of how you felt in the moments leading up to it. Try to remember how those moments felt. Think about the things that triggered the gangr. Start hyperventilating a little. Play with the memories. Look at them from different angles. Switch back and forth between them. It is important to stay relaxed, with an open, questioning mind while you are doing this. Ask for the memories, but don’t try to force them. Just try to imitate the state of mind you were in, a little, and wait expectantly but patiently. In time, memories should start coming back. They’ll likely just be flashes at first, but with diligent effort, you can learn to recall the whole event.

As you get used to doing this, you will no longer even black out in the first place. You will find yourself transitioning from normal to berserk state and back again with continuous experience.

Well, I hope this helps. Good luck to you.

Something New

I love that, even after all these years delving into somafera stuff, even after talking to literally hundreds of somaferans, there are still new and surprising things to discover.

Back on the old forum, we had noted there were, in general, two main classifications of somafera. One provides mostly physical enhancement, and is primarily of benefit in fighting and hard labor. This kind we termed “the berserkergang,” after the most well known example of the type. The other provides more of a mental and spiritual enhancement, and is primarily of benefit in seeing patterns, solving problems, and having spiritual experiences. This kind we termed “madspace,” a term from a work of fiction, because the person who named it was a Lokian and Lokians love using pop culture references for more serious things. We always knew there was a certain degree of overlap. Berserkers did have a greater tendency to have spiritual experiences when in the state. People in madspace tended to accidentally break things in that state, and could sometimes slip into a gangr if aggravated enough in it. But, for the most part, we had very distinct examples of the two types.

Recently I learned that it’s more complex than that. I have recently been in contact with a martial artist. And he has an altered state that he uses as an integral part of his martial art. The state does seem to be somaferan. It involves many of the telltales, such as incredible endurance, the ability to reset to fresh for a bit no matter how far down he is, fast healing, and exceptional reflexes.

He is not a berserker, though. He does not experience transcendental rage. In fact, his altered state seems to be supremely calm. He does lose himself, and become something else. His state does not seem to boost strength. Instead, it seems to be a madspace type of somaferan state. It raises his awareness, heightens his sensitivity, and in a way becomes united with his opponent, able to feel and anticipate what his opponent is doing. This kind of spiritual experience and heightened mental capacity is typical of the madspace kind of somafera. But he uses it as a fighting style.

I find this fascinating! Most madspace types, like the maenads, Isawiyans, and (at least some) vodouisants use the state for religious purposes. Some use it to aid in their practice of science, to produce more eureka moments. I have never before met one who used it to fight. Most somaferans who get into fights find the state produces a gangr, but he does not. Clearly wired differently. And that means that there is a whole other facet to the somafera stuff that I and my old Pack knew little to nothing of.

I would love to study it further. Unfortunately, this guy is the only one of his type he knows of. So let me put this question out there: anyone else have experiences like this, or know anyone who has?

Flow State

I was recently asked to weigh in on the flow state, and what relationship it has to the gangr, if any. The person asking the question gave me the following website as a reference for the concept: https://www.thebioneer.com/achieve-flow-states-heightened-awareness-wide-angle-vision/. This site describes the flow state this way:

“A flow state is a mental state that is discussed in neuroscience in which an individual focuses all of their attention on a single task, to the point where they seemingly lose awareness of everything else going on around them and even of themselves… In flow, time seems to slow down, self-doubt melts away and we perform at our very best… Neurologically, flow states are close to the fight or flight response. Here, activity in the prefrontal cortex and the default mode network seems to shut down, putting us in a state known as ‘temporal hypofrontality’. The brain meanwhile produces a neurochemical cocktail of norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and anandamide. In short, it’s like stress + bliss.”

The site further goes on to list some of the triggers for flow state:

“These include:

  • Intensely focused attention
  • Immediate feedback
  • Clear goals
  • Challenge/skill ratio
  • Risk
  • Control
  • Rich environments
  • Deep embodiment

With a whole bunch of ‘social triggers’ in there for good measure.”

The description of flow state is very much like what most berserkers experience in the gangr. Hyperfocus on a single goal, loss of awareness of the world and the self, psychetachia, heightened confidence, exceptional levels of performance, activation of the fight or flight systems, decrease in activity in the prefrontal cortex (the “human” part of the brain), and neurochemical changes. Even the “stress + bliss” description rings true, echoing the way the gangr involves simultaneous activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, the fight and flight one and the relaxation and healing one. The triggers the site describes are also typical of the berserkergang, especially the high risk situations and the high challenge to skill ratio. The site even hypothesizes that there is more than one kind of flow state, with a second kind enhancing creativity, and this is true as well.

However, the term seems to be used in some ways that are rather simpler than this definition. Elsewhere on the page, the author says that the flow state is “mind without mind,” which can give a martial artist the ability to “move on instinct and without thought.” Now this is a much broader concept than the gangr. This “mind without mind,” or “mushin,” is a deep meditative state of mind, but it is not the same thing as the gangr. Rather, it is one of the steps on the way from the mundane state to the gangr state.

The major difference that I see between the terms “flow state” and “berserkergang” is the fact that “flow state” seems to be applied to a whole range of altered states, and includes things like meditative openness and what we would called “raised wod” in addition to the gangr, while our tradition differentiates between all of those states.

A fascinating read. Glad to see others investigating the state.

Breathwork, False Thoughts, and Elevation

I have been working on this blog post for months. It’s been rather difficult to find a way to communicate these ideas clearly. But I think that I have finally figured it out.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am coming to feel that developing proper breath control is one of the most important skills for any somaferan who wants to develop their practice as much as they can.

In order to present my ideas on breath control, though, I need to first go into some background.

One of the most important things to realize about the somafera state, whether it is expressed as the berserker battle trance or anything else, is that it is limited by Shadow and false thoughts. Shadow should be an idea familiar to anyone who has studied Jung. It is that part of the self that contains all of the things the personality is not. It is a sort of dark reflection of the personality, the negative space the self evolves into. Well, to generalize that concept a bit, every concept has its own Shadow. Sorrow is the Shadow of joy. And fragmented, disunified thinking is the Shadow of the unitary state of somafera.

The subconscious is a simple thing, associative rather than reasonable. So whenever you focus on something for too long, your subconscious mind starts to become aware of all the stuff associated with the thing you are focusing on. That awareness includes the Shadow of that thing. With a powerful enough focus, the Shadow thoughts become strong enough to start breaking into your awareness, creating ideas and images that Buddhist yogis call “false thoughts.” These false thoughts distract and interrupt, ruining your focus.

And there’s the dilemma for any somaferan, but particularly for berserkers: the somafera change is effected through powerful, sustained focus on the kinds of thoughts that lead to elevation. In a fight, the greater the focus is, the greater the gains in strength and speed. And so the very things that make a powerful gangr possible are the things that, shortly later, ruin the state of mind you need for the gangr.

One way to handle that is to simply get the job done quickly, so that by the time false thoughts ruin your state, you don’t need it anymore. However, because the gangr is often used in fighting and hard physical labor, that strategy may not always work. If you use the somafera state for more spiritual purposes, you may not have accomplished them in the limited time you have, either. So what else is to be done?

Well, you can learn to extend your state through proper breath work. You see, the breath is the key to the mind. As the breath moves, so your mind moves. On the physical level, the breath carries oxygen to your brain, which it needs, so the breath supports the mind that way. On a more esoteric level, breath (or ond, in the Old Norse) raises wod, which fires up and inspires the mind. Here are the basics of how it works:

  • When you inhale, you build up your mental power.
  • When you exhale, you spend whatever mental force you have mustered, strengthening your focus and whatever it is you are doing at the moment.
  • When you do not breathe in or out, as happens for a moment between inhalation and exhalation and between exhalation and inhalation, mental activity drops to a minimum. Your focus winds down when this happens.

So, knowing these three facts, you can time your breathing with your mental and physical activity to effortlessly manipulate the interplay between focus and Shadow so that the effect of focus is maximized and the effects of false thoughts are minimized.

Inhale on thoughts you wish to strengthen, such as the object of ritual focus.

When your attention begins to waver, exhale forcefully. If you are fighting, this is the moment to make your move, and time the exhalation with the move. The act of exhalation will strengthen the move.

If you have timed this right, when you finish exhaling will be about the moment when your mind starts to be overwhelmed or distracted by Shadow and false thoughts. If you hesitate before inhaling, or shift to light, slow, shallow breathing (which has much the same effect), these false thoughts will be weakened, and have little effect.

Practicing timing your breathing with your ritual focus, when doing ritual, and timing it with your movements and intents if fighting, will eventually produce a far more effective form of elevation, one which is not as prone to running down and scattering.

Rrrgh. I am still dissatisfied with this description. I feel I am only hinting at what I really mean. But really explaining it is like trying to explain to someone how to wiggle their ears. This is as close as I can get for now.

Proper Breathing for Exercising Berserkers

Although I’m pushing 50, I keep training in the martial arts, and that includes doing periodic research. Well, in the course of my recent research on aerobic exercise and breathing, I finally solved an old mystery about the gangr.

Something that I and the other members of the old Pack had always noticed was that the traditional advice for proper breathing during exercise did not work for any of us. You see, you’re supposed to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and all of us complained of not getting enough air this way, so we all breathed deeply in through the mouth as well as out.

According to the exercise guru whose work I recently read, the reason people are told to breathe in through the nose is to prevent hyperventilation. You see, in most people, hyperventilation leads to feelings of nausea, dizziness, an inability to think straight, and a paradoxical feeling of suffocating, so it is something to be avoided. That’s not how it works with berserkers, though. Because our bodies work on overdrive in this state, we need all the oxygen we can get. Because we metabolize it as quickly as we take it in, it doesn’t disrupt the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood and it does not produce the unwanted symptoms of hyperventilation. For berserkers, hyperventilation is a feature, not a bug. Fortunately, we all followed the old adage that you should never fight the breath, and just did it the way it felt best.

The Battle Trance and Ordinary People

I have recently come across the writings of Joseph Jordania, an autodidact and polymath (that is to say, self-taught in a wide variety of disciplines, for all of you not as old and pretentious as me). In one of his writings, he examined the battle trance from the perspective of an outsider, and I found what he had to say to be quite fascinating. He wrote about the occurrence of the battle trance in ordinary soldiers, people who are, for the most part, not natural berserkers.

I had always wondered how normal people who are not, as berserkers are, prone to going into the trance at the drop of a hat, enter the state. More specifically, I wondered how soldiers’ conditioning helps then effect the deafferentation of the Orientation Association Area (the posterior superior parietal lobe) the sine qua non of going berserk, a thing most people have a very hard time doing.

Jordania argues that the key lies in the push for extremes of group identity that the military fosters, that one of the purposes of this push is actually to create conditions that make shutting off the OAA a lot more likely. More specifically, the absorption into a group identity involves losing the self, to some extent, and that involves shutting off the part of the brain that keeps track of it, which is the OAA. This is in contrast to born berserkers, who tend to lose their sense of self by merging with their alters, such as the wolf or the bear. I found the idea an intriguing look into a side of the gangr that is rarely discussed.

In the old days, when there was still a somafera forum, there was a debate about whether people who were not born berserkers could deliberately enter the state. We knew it could come over anyone in a moment of danger, but opinions were divided as to whether people not born prone to entering the trance could learn to do it deliberately. We knew of one person who tried. He came to our forum because he wanted to learn to do it, even though he had no gift for it. After years of studying with us, he tried. He ended up coming to the opinion that it was horrendously difficult, and the results kind of drove him mad. I think I can now venture an informed opinion that yes, even those not born with the gift can learn to bring it about deliberately, but that they must use the techniques suited for normal people, while born berserkers need those techniques best suited to our natures.

Training Everyday Movements

Hello, all. I meant to make this post a couple months ago, but I got the damn virus, and recovering took me awhile*. So here goes.

One of the most important parts to somafera training is something I learned in Bruce Lee’s The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. He strongly advised looking at training as being something that you do every moment of your life, not just in set “workout periods.” By this, he meant two things. One was to be constantly aware of everything you do physically, and strive to improve every movement you make, from how you go through doors to how you stand up. Do away with inefficiency, unneeded movements, hesitations, and wasted energy. Once you perfect all of your body’s basic movements, your movements in combat will be far more efficient, less wasteful, faster, and more effective. The other thing he meant is that you should always take the opportunity to do things the hard way when you can, to develop your body further. Carry two boxes at a time at work instead of one. Stand on one foot to put your socks and shoes on, instead of sitting down. And so forth.

I have followed this advice for years, and I can tell you, he is right. If you take your martial arts seriously, this is a critical element of your training. This is even more true for somaferans than most other kinds of martial artist, and that is because of the breath. There is an old saying in the martial arts that as the breath moves, so the mind moves. While martial artists in other traditions therefore sometimes study breath control, a major part of somafera involves breath control, because so much of somafera comes from making the mind move in unusual ways. At the most basic level, in order to pump your strength and reflexes up, you are going to need to be breathing deeply and quickly, and it takes some doing to manage that while still getting enough air to deal with moving, exerting yourself, and maybe getting hit. On a more advanced level, you’ll never maximize your fighting skill as a berserker unless you study the finer points of breath work: inhaling and exhaling at the right moments to power your movements maximally while not losing your broad awareness and meditative stillness.

If you really want to learn how your breath affects the way you move and think, if you want to learn how to time your breathing and movements in a way that maximizes your strength and minimizes your reaction time, start paying attention to the way you breathe while you move throughout the day. As you observe, learn. Once you start seeing how things work. Start making adjustments to how you perform the actions of the everyday, so that every movement you make is boosted by proper breathing. By improving the way you breathe and move this way will improve the way you do everything in combat.

This use of the actions of the everyday to train is something that I have been very much coming to study in recent years. I think it is going to form the basis of many of my posts in the future. It is not talked about often enough when it comes to martial arts training. I had said I would not make filler posts just to be posting something, that I only would write when I had something meaningful to say. This, I think, is one of the areas of my recent practices that I might actually have something worth talking about.

Well, anyway, I hope you’re all doing well out there is virus-land. Stay safe.



* Word of warning: if you get COVID-19, do not, repeat, DO NOT start working out hard after you’ve been feeling better for just a couple days. Doing so knocked me back from feeling fully cured to deliriously feverish and unable to breath in just a few hours. Took me weeks to come back from there.

Mastering Psychetachia: A Practical Primer

I have recently been asked for some advice on mastering the art of psychetachia. That is not an easy request to answer. Trying to teach the art of psychetachia is somewhat like trying to teach someone how to wiggle their ears. It’s way too specific to each person. However, I will try.

First, for those of you who don’t know, psychetachia is a mental state in which your internal sense of time runs much faster than it usually does. This makes it seem like time in the outside world has slowed down. This gives you relatively more time to act and react than you have outside of this state. Police officers and the military are sometimes trained to learn how to enter this state at will. Its advantages for the fighting berserker should be obvious. It is an especially common technique for berserkers because the gangr makes us very prone to experiencing it. It can range from mild, in which things in the outside world seem a little slower than usual to extreme, in which dropped objects seem to float lazily to the ground, although the extreme states never last long.

There are three components, biologically speaking, that go into setting your body up for the psychetachia state. One is a massive amount of adrenaline in your bloodstream. The second is a raised electrical potential in your nervous system. The third is a deep meditative calm. The first two make signals travel through your brain and nervous system faster. The third one minimizes distractions and resistance to your natural reactions.

To put it in spiritual terms, you need a hel of a lot of wod in your system.

So that’s the first thing you need to develop: maximize the amount of wod you can raise. It doesn’t much matter how you do it, everyone’s got their own techniques, but you need to get to the point where everything in your field of vision seems to shine. (Note: a few people don’t see the shining effect, they hear a buzzing noise instead.) Amongst your wod raising techniques, I would recommend whipping your head around/headbanging. This stimulates blood flow to the brain. I would also recommend deep breathing exercises. Rhythmic movements help, too.

Once you get to this stage, psychetachia is much more likely to happen spontaneously. But that is not the same thing as reliably. If you want control, you need to take it further. This will involve learning to spike your wod even further, but there’s more to it than that. There has to be a need for you to be especially fast. In the deep meditative state that accompanies heightened levels of wod, a genuine need will cause your mind to reshape its function to fill that need. This is how you learn to trigger and control the psychetachia state.

Let me give you some examples. One of the exercises that taught me control of the state involves a little prep work. First I constructed a gallows-like structure, with the support pole sunk into the ground. From it I hung some strings of different lengths, each with a rock tied to the end. Then, underneath this all, I put in some short monkey poles, which are poles that stand at different heights. Each was just wide enough for me to balance on on the ball of one foot. Then, after raising my wod, I stood on the poles and set myself the task of keeping all of the rocks swinging by striking them, while standing only on the poles, not letting them get tangled up with each other, and not letting them hit me. This was all way too much to keep track of at the speed things were moving, and this pushed me into a psychetachia state often enough that I came to understand how it worked, and could replicate it through an effort of will.

This is the approach to training that the Rillway school, my old Pack’s style of the berserkergang, favored: cles. It was an approach used by some ancient berserkers, and it amounts to trying to do feats that require more out of you than you have, so that the need can bring out the ability.

If you do not have access to outdoor space where you can set something like that up, there is a lamer but still effective indoor version you can use. Tack or tape several strings of different lengths to the ceiling in a circle. Tie or tape a coin to the end of each. Standing only in the circle, keep all of the coins swinging without getting tangled up or hitting you.

The most valuable exercise for developing a deep understanding and control of psychetachia, I found, was badminton, wearing a 30lb weighted vest, 5lb weights on each wrist, and 10lb weights on each ankle. Moving fast enough to catch the shuttlecock in that much weight requires a LOT of wod. Controlling your shot when that wod-high so that it stays in bounds requires an insane level of awareness and self control. It pushed my development of psychetachia control like nothing else did.

That one is also a good exercise because it teaches you how to move really fast and then pull back at the last instant, so you get the benefit of speed but retain finesse and don’t overpower things. If you ever master psychetachia well enough to call on it reliably, then you have the potential to become really dangerous to your sparring partners and opponents. Let me share with you an example. During the time after my initiation, I was sparring regularly with an opponent who practiced the same sword style as me (17th century regimental basket hilted broadsword). I suddenly got into a powerful psychetachia state and struck him three times in the time it took for him to raise his sword 1/4 of the way toward blocking my first attack. The third strike shattered my wooden sparring sword. Against his body. It left him with a nasty two foot bruise and an inability to stand. I could easily have broken his ribs if I had hit a little higher. Moving fast means hitting hard. So part of your learning psychetachia must be learning control.

And speaking of the sword martial arts, they also make for excellent psychetachia training. The tip of a sword moves between 200 and 300 mph. If that doesn’t push you into psychetachia then nothing will.

Hmm, I would also recommend the antique video game Breakout. Deceptively simple, it requires reflexes of lightning and a wide awareness when it gets going.

There is also one more thing you can learn to help you get into the psychetachia state. It is what my sensei referred to as a stored meditation. Up to 24 hours before your training, perform some sort of meditative ritual designed to boost your wod. Use a series of mantras or mudras or yantras or something. Intone a series of runes. Whatever works for you. The point is to get into a powerful ritual, and then stop before carrying out the last step. Immediately put it out of your mind and go and do something else. Once you are in the midst of your training, say the last mantra, intone the final rune, or whatever, and if you have done it right, you get the benefit of a long ritual all in an instant.

That is a part of the strategy of using everything you can to get your foot in the door. Eat a candy bar before training. Have some coffee. Heightened blood sugar and caffeine will also make you more prone to psychetachia. The idea is to use every trick you can to experience it a few times, so you can learn enough to access the state without the tricks.


P.S. Of course, once you really get a handle on psychetachia, then you are set to begin studying the warfetter, the berserkers’ most advanced technique.

Meditation and Rage Issues: A Primer for Berserkers on the Edge

It is all too common for somaferans, especially the berserker variety, to have rage issues. This can range from mildly bad tempered to violently out of control. There are a number of things that need to be done to address these problems including, in most cases, therapy. However, one of the most important things a berserker with rage issues can do is start meditating.

Meditation has a calming, centering effect. This is its primary benefit for such berserkers. Spending some time each day in quiet, seated meditation will help most people feel a little more balanced and at ease. There is also the secondary benefit of insight.

When your mind is calm, it becomes easier for you to hear faint, distant signals from your subconscious. Some of these signals are things you need to hear. Some of them will have to do with the reasons why you get angry, with the things that make you upset. So, when you suddenly get a flash of insight while you are meditating, or afterward, pay attention to it.

One thing that can help with these issues is to spend ten minutes or so sitting comfortably in a quiet, dark place, meditating. This can help you calm and center yourself, and take you a bit further away from the edge of snapping.

A second thing you can do is to sometimes, after you have finished meditating, picture yourself in the kind of situations that make you lose your temper. Imagine yourself responding by laughing at the thing that angered you and walking away. Even if it is hard to do, even if you can’t do it very well, this exercise will have value. The meditative state makes your mind more receptive to instruction. By doing this visualization after meditating, you are priming your mind to learn this new habit of response. It may take awhile for this technique to work, but in time it will work.

It is also a good idea to spend some time each day trying to briefly touch upon the meditative state throughout the day as you go about your business. No sitting, no ritual, no quiet place, just try to do the mental part. This will help you keep calm and balanced throughout the day.

if you do not know how to meditate, then try these instructions, one of the simplest and most effective beginner’s techniques I have ever come across.

With your eyes closed, try to picture a white wall off in the distance. Really visualize it as strongly as you can. It should be plain, featureless white. Then, in your mind’s eye, get closer to the wall, like you are walking up to it. Once you are standing right in front of it, it should fill up your vision. All that you can see, even in your peripheral vision, is the wall. Once you have done this, take away the wall.

This is an excellent way of easing the mind up to a state of emptiness, which is not natural to it. My martial arts instructor taught it to me when I was nine, and I found it very effective, as did his other students.

In addition to meditation, there are a few other things that a berserker with rage issues can do to deal with it safely. One of the most important of these is finding a way to blow off steam. Having a heavy bag at home can do wonders. When you feel the anger building up, spending some time hitting the bag as hard as you can will usually work it out of your system safely. Another thing you can do is learn to play hard. Playing some kind of sport like football will help you bleed off some of the extra energy and aggression so that it never builds up. So can partying hard. (If you don’t have addiction issues.) Finally, I would also suggest getting a sponsor, kind of like in AA. Someone you can talk to when you need help, who can help you work through the issue of the moment.

Good luck.