Somaferans and Social Interaction

Today’s post is a request from a fellow somaferan, on the topic of social interactions and somaferans. Asking me to give advice about social interactions is rather like asking Stephen Hawking for tips on how to play football, but I will share what I understand about this topic.

We are not good at it, in general, for a number of reasons. One is that we tend to get easily enthusiastic, and easily impatient, with things. Other people do not share our enthusiasms, or understand why we suddenly lose patience with things. Because of this, somaferan social interactions with other people go kind of like playing with musicians who are reading different sheet music.

Another reason is that we have a tendency to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Most people are used to concealing at least some part of their real feelings, and expect others to do the same. This often leads to misunderstandings. And to people taking advantage of you, when they realize they have the key to your heart.

Then there is the often regrettable tendency we somaferans have to be honest. Bluntly so. Rudely so, by most non-somaferans’ standards. Many somaferans tend to lack understanding of and patience for the little social graces, and also tend to lack any sort of filter between impulse and mouth. This does not make us popular.

There isn’t a lot of advice I can give for making social interactions for our kind any easier. I am extremely antisocial. I generally try to avoid social interactions, which solves these problems for me rather nicely. That is not always possible, though, and of course many somaferans are rather social creatures, despite being so bad at it. I would advise being very selective in who you associate with. If somebody is not willing to do the work and have the patience necessary to understand you, and to hear things the way you meant them rather than the way most people take them, then that person is not worth the effort involved in dealing with them.

Another thing I could advise is creating a social interaction persona. Create a character in your head, perhaps even with his or her own name. Give them the characteristics you think are needed for successful social interaction. Spend some time thinking about this persona. Then, when you need to, be it. A somaferan is used to being multiple people, it should not be difficult to become “possessed,” as it were, by the character you created. This can make things much smoother, though it gets exhausting after awhile.

With regards to Red Green, Good luck. I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.


enhancing healing

As many berserkers in training soon discover, the berserker path necessitates a lot of healing. The same kind of enhancement that works for strength will work for healing. Just elevating will speed up the healing process, as long as you keep yourself well fed.

But we can do better than that.

The key is gestaltic visualization. Visualize the location of the injury. Concentrate on the feel of the injury. Try to picture the parts of your body that actually do the healing. Picture your body as a whole, coursing with power. Picture your elevated self. Picture yourself free of injury. Visualize every detail of the injured parts of your body from as many perspectives as possible. Visualize healing runes. Visualize them on your injury. Visualize yourself inhaling healing energy from the world around you, and directing it to the wound.

Keep switching from one image to another. Concentrate powerfully on each, but linger on none.

You are aiming to build up a powerful, complex, detailed image of your injury and your healing, one far more complex than you can manage just by concentrating on one thing. This will recruit and focus FAR more of your mind into the healing effort, and the speed with which you heal should improve.

Tendons, ligaments, and the gangr.

Recently I received the following question in the comments section, and thought it deserved wider attention:

“when someone enters the gangr and try to lift a very heavy weight that would normaly is to much for his tendons en joints to handle, will the enforced healing capability fix this problem? I mean when his tendons begin to slowly rip apart will this be healed so that he still can lift the weight?”

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Berserkers heal fast, but not that fast. One of the hard upper limits on enhanced strength is the tendons and ligaments. A berserker enhances his or her strength in a few ways. The primary source of it is adrenaline, combined with burning whatever fuel reserves the body is holding by for an emergency. Lowering the activity in the antagonist muscles is another, permitting more of the body’s inherent strength to be exercised. A reduction of the brain’s natural inhibitions, a lack of ability to feel fear, and an insensitivity to pain can also allow you to exert more of your strength than you normally would, because you aren’t thinking about the consequences. Finally, one of the odder effects of the berserker unitary state is the ability to very rapidly un-knot cramped muscles, which also ups the amount of strength you can effectively use by a bit.

None of that has any effect on the tendons. Let me relate an amusing story that should serve you all as a cautionary tale. I am a big man. 6’2”, large frame, decently muscled. Most fights I have been in, both in and out of the ring, have been against fighters who were, at most, as large as me, and often smaller. Several years ago, I was in my amped-up training phase to prepare for that year’s Shieldbiter’s Cup berserker tournament when I learned about another amateur MMA tournament in my area, not specifically a berserker thing. So I thought I would enter it as a warmup.

It was a decent warmup. I went through my first few bouts undefeated. Then I was confronted by an opponent who was significantly bigger than me, and who had far superior training in classic martial arts to me. This pushed me to my limits when fighting him. I was deeply berserk. In that state, well, you revert to instinctive behavior, not a lot of human level thinking going on. One of my fight-ending techniques, that had often served me well, was to bull-rush my opponent, drop low, and use my berserker strength to lift him over my head and throw him. I did that with this guy, though he was over 300 pounds. My wolfish self assessed that I had the strength, when berserk, to do it. I did, in fact, manage to lift him completely overhead.

Then my MCL tore. That’s one of the tendons in the knee. My muscle output was amplified. Tendon strength was the same as ever. I fell. My larger opponent fell on top of me, of course. I spent a year on crutches and walking with a cane. I am only recently getting something like my old shape back.

Don’t Practice Your Mistakes

Let me pass along one of the most important training tips I learned during my time on the somafera forum: don’t practice your mistakes. Whatever you are training in, whether it is lifting weights, drilling kata, or going berserk, always stop just one rep short of failure.

What’s that, you say? You’ve always believed that you should push through that barrier and keep trying to crank out as many as you can?

Yeah, I used to think that way too. Then some serious fighters, who had proved their worth in the ring, pulled me aside and told me why that was stupid. You see, any physical act, including simple bursts of strength like when you lift weights, is coordinated by a lot of nerves firing in very specific patterns at very specific times. Furthermore, the mind is a very simple thing. It learns from ALL of its experiences.

So if you keep pushing yourself to break your limits, then your form starts going to hell for the last several reps. And you train your nerves to remember the firing patterns for poor form, and that really screws you up.

The thing is, these fighters told me, to stop while you are near exhaustion, but while your form is still perfect. I tried it that way. You know what? It made a BIG difference. I suggest you try the same. Sure, it is useful to try to push past your limits every once in a while, but it should be no more than once a month.

So What Do I Do With All This?

If you have recently realized that you have a somaferan nature, you may be at a loss of what to do with it. There are a number of options. Firstly, you can try to ignore it. Secondly, you can try to come to terms with it enough for it to be useful on occasion, and to avoid the problems that can sometimes come with a somaferan nature. Thirdly, you can embrace it, and learn the skills necessary to gain some measure of control over it.

Ignoring it is generally a bad idea. If you don’t know what the warning signs are for an oncoming berserk fit, then you will be prone to losing control, and that isn’t good for anybody. Repressing it only works in the short term. Over the long term, it actually makes dangerous, sudden berserker fits much more likely.

Coming to terms with it means mostly psychological work. Embracing and developing it means psychological work and a whole lot more. Both of these approaches, however, start with the same thing: meditation. You need to learn to meditate for three reasons. Firstly, it quiets your conscious mind so that ideas and feelings from your subconscious parts can float to the surface and be heard. This includes the voice of your alter, and the attitudes and ideas you have toward your somaferan side. Secondly, it helps keep you mentally and spiritually balanced. This makes you less likely to lose control, and more likely to stay on top of things. Thirdly, once you develop some meditative skills, you can use it to unlearn bad habits and learn new good habits faster than you normally could.

This is about all you need to do in order to come to terms with it, though a few other practices will help as well. Letting your alter out to play in safe circumstances helps. Prayer helps, if you are religiously inclined. Maybe some form of artistic expression would do good as well. This is as much as the vast majority of somaferans will ever need. For most, experiencing the occasional spontaneous state and staying safe is enough.

Some, however, wish to experience more and develop the skills that go along with a somaferan nature. If you choose to embrace this, you need to do some major meditative and psychological work. This is going to be true no matter what the reason you are embracing it. Your normal mundane self and your somaferan alter are rather distinct personas, and each operates with your physiology in a distinctly different state. To be able to recall things from one state to the next, and to be able to exert some form of control, is no small feat. You will need a deep meditative state and extensive hypnotic priming.

In all likelihood, you are going to need an initiation ritual. The ancients used them. We modern somaferans have found them to be necessary for deep control in more than 9 out of 10 cases. You can break somaferan initiation rituals down into three types, generally speaking:

  • Madspace Breakthrough: if your somaferan nature inclines more toward spiritual experiences and mental enhancement then you can benefit greatly from one of these. Essentially, it involves achieving maximum mental stress that leads to a mental breakdown and rebuilding, a metanoia that creates a new mental state optimized for solving problems. It results in an extended eureka state. It is difficult to achieve the incredible mental and emotional stress needed for metanoia of this type, so this ritual requires incredible mental focus and self discipline. This type of initiation will generally not confer any control or expression of berserker-type somaferan states, though there have been exceptions.
  • Trial by Combat: one of the most common styles of berserker initiation. In modern times this means stepping into the ring with a more experienced, stronger fighter and fighting in a no holds barred mixed martial arts style. The experienced fighter must continually push the initiate’s limits, hurting and terrifying the initiate enough to trigger the berserker breakthrough. The experienced fighter must not knock out or exhaust the initiate, but instead play with him or her as long as possible. The incredible pain, fear, and stress of this method is easily able to trigger a true gangr in almost any natural berserker who has prepared properly. However, for some reason that we do not as yet understand, this method is prone to a high degree of failure and backsliding. That is to say that many initiates who succeed at this initiation do not subsequently learn any control over the gangr, or soon lose the control that they do gain. However, this is the ideal method to use for the vast majority of somaferans looking for an initiation. It has an element of danger to it without risking anything very serious, other than pain. It is an excellent compromise between the genuinely risky ancient methods and modern safety concerns.
  • Trial by Fire: the gold standard, as far as deep control goes. This kind of initiation uses fire walking or a similar ancient fire handling ritual. This is possible to do safely under the right circumstances largely due to the enhanced heat removal capacity of the blood when the pulse and blood pressure are as insanely high as they are in a berserker state. Much like putting a paper cup of water in a fire, the paper will not burn while there is water in it. A berserker initiate can deliberately trigger the gangr, in a deep, deep meditative state, by using the pain, fear, stress, and need to avoid being badly injured that contact with fire or hot coals brings.

Please keep in mind that the very idea of this is insane. This approach is ONLY for advanced spirit workers with a lot of experience. This is not for amateurs, or noobs. The point at which the fire resistant state comes, if it comes at all, it the tiniest moment before your flesh burns. If you fail to enter the state, YOU WILL BURN. The majority of the people who have tried this method have suffered at least blistering burns. Only three, myself included, have ever escaped entirely unburned. One berserker I know was SERIOUSLY burned, requiring multiple surgeries and leaving him with permanent disfigurement.

The only reason that anyone goes this route is that if it does succeed, the control that it gives seems to be permanent. None who have succeeded at this ritual have failed to gain control, and few have ever backslid.

It is likely that a true vision quest style of ritual, with the extended fasting, might also work, but I know of none who have tried. Whichever method you choose, you need to spend MONTHS preparing. That means extensive daily meditations, hypnotic primings, readings, and ritual tool making. The ritual itself must be complex, and utilize certain techniques. If you are new to meditation, your preparation will need to take years. You cannot rush this. If you do not have the patience to prepare for this ritual properly, then you do not have the willpower to break through.

Whichever path you choose, take your time and think about it. A somaferan nature is just like any other inborn talent or skill, such as race car driving or painting. It is a part and parcel of who you are. It will still be there later.

I Am a Conversation

Many people think that all those who have multiple personalities have a mental illness. This isn’t really the case, however. It is not only possible to be relatively sane and functional with multiple personalities, it is even somewhat common.

This is, after all, essentially what a berserker or any other kind of somaferan is. Most have two distinct selves: the normally dominant human self and the usually animal alter. A minority of somaferans just experience changes in their human self when they elevate, without becoming something completely different. Another minority have multiple alters.

My alter is a wolf. As with most berserkers, it comes out in times of great stress, as a defense mechanism. I have another, rarer alter as well, that only rears its head in the most desperate of circumstances. As it does not have a name for itself, I refer to it as The Engine. It is mechanical, relentless, without passion, and completely focused on survival. I also have a couple of other selves which are not alters, in that they do not change my physiology when they take over. This is not uncommon in somaferans, though the majority do not seem to experience more than just the two usual ones.

For a long time I found this state of affairs confusing, even maddening at times. For much of the early part of my life, I felt that I was fragmented, unwhole. My various selves struggled for dominance. This effect was greatly reinforced by the attitudes and narratives of the “normal” world, which always depicted people like us in just this way.

I have learned better in the years since. My different selves learned to work together. I came to feel as if “I” was really a council of voices. This trend has continued to the point where I no longer feel like I am a fragmented being. Instead, all of my different selves are whole, healthy beings in and of themselves. They are not fragments. I am not a battlefield anymore.

I am a conversation.

I am a whole thing, and more than a whole thing. I am more than a sum of my parts. This state of affairs makes me strong. I am never alone. I am always balanced. I always have counsel. If you are a young or inexperienced somaferan, and you feel at war with yourself, know that it gets better. It can get a lot better. It starts with conversation.

When the Beast Won’t Go to Sleep

“The moon’s too bright, the chain’s too tight, the beast won’t go to sleep.”

These words of Leonard Cohen’s (and if you haven’t heard his music then you really should, especially Hallelujah) resonate especially well with me lately, as they periodically do for all berserkers. The thing about being a berserker is that, even if you are well adjusted and balanced, your two selves do not always see eye to eye on everything. When you go through a long period of dealing with stress and problems with your human side, and things just keep going bad, then the animal side, or monster side, or what have you, starts thinking that the human side is dropping the ball. It can get loud, demanding, and even surge forward and try to take the reins. This can occasionally be helpful. Usually, it is not.

If you’ve been a good berserker, and done the character development needed to come to terms with having a dual nature, the human and the beast can talk it out. The beast will recede, and the human can continue to handle things as they need to be handled. Until the tough times are over, though, you often find that the beast will not go dormant again.

When this happens, you’re still in your human mindset but everything is infuriating. Every problem makes you want to reach out and crush the thing that has hurt you. Even if it is a tree or something that you bumped into. While you are exchanging polite, professional words with a deadbeat client about how yes, he is in fact going to have to pay for the work you did, there is a constant running monologue from the other you about how this problem would resolve itself so much faster if you just broke the little jerk’s arms. When your lover says something perfectly innocuous and neutral, you hear it as angry and accusing. Every single moment that you act with discipline and restraint, the beast is howling, and throwing itself against its chain, over and over again, and you are all too aware that eventually, the chain’s going to break.

If you’re experienced and not a total freaking idiot, you’ll have learned that during these times, you absent yourself from companionship until you become fit for it again. The best thing you can do for your loved ones is not to make everything needlessly painful and difficult. There is no point dragging them into the pit with you. It’s extremely unlikely they will be able to help you. And you are NOT being polite or kind by forcing yourself to interact when you are like this. If you are very, very fortunate, you might have someone in your life who can cut right through all of that, without being hurt, someone who can and will take care of you until you get back on your feet. If you are so blessed, and they are in a place where they can help, then going to them can help. But for the most part, human contact is not a good idea.