Wod / Qi

Today’s post is promoted from the comments section, because it raises a good point. The comment was

“According to the internal martial arts, they say that when you focus your attention on a bodypart, qi will go there, but the qi is followed by the blood, and blood is followed by strength. When I concentrate on a bodypart, I notice that part will get a little warmer and I feel some kind of pressure and pins and needles. Is this something that berserkers will use to elevate their wod/qi by concentrating on their whole body?”

That is a very good exercise, yes. Concentrate on the whole body, or concentrate this on your hara, in the middle of your body a couple inches below your navel, and once you build it up there, start circulating it. In time, you will learn to raise such high levels of wod that the full elevation becomes possible.

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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.

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.

Joy and Elevation

A question was recently put to me about using joy as an elevation trigger. This is a good question, and its answer forms today’s post.

To put it very very simply, somafera elevation is a sudden transformation of physiological state brought about by extreme stress. This stress often comes from danger, in untrained somaferans. After all, fear is an excellent source of stress. Anger is another common trigger, as it is also extremely stressful.

However, there are many forms of stress. Any emotion that is extreme enough creates stress. That includes the good emotions. They may be pleasant to experience, but it still requires the use of a lot of the body’s and brain’s resources. This has made a number of somaferans wonder if the more positive emotions could be used to trigger somaferan states. After all, the state takes on the characteristics of the emotions that triggered it. That is why an anger-based elevation can so easily become a state of transcendental fury. So it would stand to reason that other emotional triggers might produce states that are not so dangerous.

I have experimented with this approach extensively, as have a number of other somaferans. And it does indeed work. You can use joy as a trigger to elevate. Not just for spiritual or mental somafera states, either. It will also induce a gangr. That is to say, it will create a somaferan state that is optimized for combat or hard labor: great strength, fast reflexes, insensitivity to pain or fear, and ferocity. The ferocity is of a different character than the ferocity of a rage-based gangr. More playful and less hateful, though still dangerous. Much like a cat.

The problem is, it is difficult for most people to deliberately feel joy at all, never mind so powerfully that it can trigger somaferan elevation. Negative emotions are easier. That is why the ancients relied on them so much. There are a number of things that can be done to assist. Proper entheogen use can help. So can music. Meditation is necessary. Most likely it will be necessary to do a lot of character development in order to make this possible.

Myself, I have ended up using a cocktail of emotions. I dislike pure rage-based gangrs. I indulged in those far too often when I was younger. It’s bad for the soul, and has a wide range of unpleasant consequences. But I am not such a joyful person that I can easily elevate from joy alone. I and others of the Pack discovered that the simultaneous experience of several weaker emotions at the same time is equivalent to experiencing one transcendentally powerful emotion. I have learned to mix joy, anger, fear, sorrow, love, and even curiosity together, with joy and love dominant. The resultant gangr is powerful, and not prone to the excesses of pure rage gangrs.

Over the years I fought in the Shieldbiter’s Cup tournament, I came up against many different types of martial somaferan, many of them traditional berserkers. Some of them mocked me for rejecting the traditional ways, and using “weaker” emotions such as joy and love. Their mockery ceased, however, when my non-traditional methods left them on the ground and me with the victory. This way is more difficult, yes. It is not traditional, no. But it works. It has all the strengths of the old ways and none of the weaknesses. Sure, you have to work a little harder to learn to do it this way. But that work is well worth it.

Advice for Pups

One of the most common posts we had to make on the old somafera forum was in response to people who had just understood that the problems that had struggled with all their lives were the result of a somaferan nature. The first thing they always wanted us to tell them was what they had to do to deal with these problems. So I thought it would probably be a good idea to put a typical response to such a question on this blog.

It seems that most of us are born prone to producing excess adrenaline. Even slight bits of stress affect us like major life-and-death situations. Our brains cannot seem to distinguish between the need for a little adrenaline, and the need for all the adrenaline. This makes the great majority of us driven by rage, or at least prone to serious temper issues. Most people are not raised in an environment that teaches suitable coping skills for such a problem. This causes a vicious cycle to develop. A inappropriately bad temper produces negative reactions in others, which produces further negative reactions. In very little time such people learn to see the world in a very negative way, and to respond ever more aggressively to all problems. For us berserkers this means that with no formal training or any sort, we rapidly learn to produce so much stress and adrenaline that we overload the sympathetic nervous system and produce the unitary state. And because this adrenaline overload was more likely than not produced by rage, we find ourselves easily entering a state of fury of a transcendental nature.

This problem is only made worse by the fact that we seem to be born prone to obsessive thoughts and behaviors, such as OCD, depression, autism, and other such things. This, when carried to extremes (as it easily is in the presence of adrenaline), causes a focus upon something, like a wrong done us, or an old memory, or a vague feeling, to the extent that it becomes a meditative focus. These two things together are all the necessary requirements for entering the unitary state.

This means that many of us are walking timebombs. And of those who aren’t, we still tend to be beset by stormy relationships and an extreme emotional nature that can be so difficult to deal with that it can lead to suicide. Even those who are not so beset with problems find it a terrible strain to be ever fighting against what is such a large part of our true nature. Enough of a strain that a lifetime of fighting this state seems unbearable. And more, some of us have met old berserkers who spent their lives fighting this state, and found their health to be very poor indeed. Not surprisingly, for the link between constant stress and illness is very well documented, medically.

It is impossible to fight such powerful instincts, things that are so deeply woven into the fabric of who we are that they cannot be avoided. Surpressing them, as is the first instinct of nearly every berserker I’ve met, is actually truly dangerous in the long run. Life being what it is will sooner or later put the berserker under enough sudden stress that this happens anyways, and it will be all the more raging and wild for its long confinement.

The best simple way to deal with the inherent problems of a somaferan nature is to play hard. This can mean intense workouts. It can mean sports. It can include partying. The point is to have some means of regularly blowing off steam, and providing the opportunity for emotional catharsis. For most somaferans, this will be enough.

It is also always wise to practice meditation. Finding your center of balance will help keep things from getting out of hand.

It is also wise to cultivate a good relationship with your fetch. That is a long term project, however.

The best thing for somaferans struggling with serious problems is, in my opinion, and that of every other somaferan I’ve talked to but two (out of 150), is to learn to control the state, which means to enter into it deliberately, which seems to also give us the ability to exit it deliberately. This usually means some kind of initiation ritual.