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.

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The Ritual of the Caamora

One of the most intense, obscure of the ancient somaferan rites involved trial by fire. The Wolf Warriors of the Dacians walked on hot coals. The maenads and berserkers sometimes practiced handling fire. The spirit horses of vodoun, some of whom are somaferan, also handle fire. Modern somaferans do as well. Because the ancient names for most of these rituals are lost to time, modern practitioners have adopted a name from modern fiction to refer to it, the caamora. From The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, I believe, where a similar, fictional ritual is given that name.

I am not going to go into an explanation of how firewalking works in a scientific sense. I have already done that here. Instead I am going to describe what it is like, and why we somaferans practice it.

First of all, only an initiate has any chance of successfully performing this rite, as a rule. The supreme control and experience that the initiation ritual grants are needed to enter the state of fire resistance deliberately and reliably. I have only known one person who could do this ritual without having first had his initiation, and he had a rare, strong natural talent for the berserkergang.

The modern form of the ritual usually uses a fire the size of a campfire. Water or a fire extinguisher should be kept on hand. After a good hot fire is built up, the practitioners keep it well fed until it develops a good bed of coals. Once the coals have developed, the fire is only fed at a maintenance level. Music is started at this point, something spiritual and powerful. Heavy metal usually works best. While the somaferans elevate, a ritual horn might be passed around. The key here is for the practitioners to consume enough to get loosened up without consuming enough to dull the wits.

No words are spoken. This rite is far too personal for words to have meaning. Each somaferan elevates according to his or her own techniques. Group rites often work best, as elevation tends to be contagious. Once one somaferan starts growling, or howling, or banging his fists against his head, the divine madness starts to spread pretty quickly.

As each somaferan hits the breakthrough point, the ritual really begins in earnest. Practitioners hold their hands and arms in the fire, sometimes keeping them there for half a minute or more. Some pick up coals and hold them in their hands. Some pick up burning sticks and extinguish the flames by grabbing the burning log and smothering it with the hands. The further this goes, the wilder things get. Howling that could wake the dead. Leaping, dancing, performing physical feats. Some jump through the flames or walk through the coals. I saw one berserker somersault while holding two glasses of ale, spilling not a drop from either glass.

The ritual continues until each participant is burned out, energy-wise, and drops out of the fire resistant state. Some never manage to enter it in the first place. The practitioners inspect themselves and each other for burns that might have happened without being felt.

So, why do we do this? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is that in the fire resistant somaferan state, there is no falsehood. The mind is in a deep unitary state of consciousness, and by definition is not divided. As falsehoods are by definition mentally divided states, where the truth is walled off behind words that do match, they cannot exist in such a powerful unitary state. When you are in such a state that you can resist fire, then you are truly and perfectly yourself. No lies, no illusions, no comfortable truths. You apprehend yourself as you truly are. This is a truly unparalleled opportunity to learn about yourself. It is also one of the best feelings in all of life. Not some kind of rush or high, it is a much deeper source of joy than that. Being wholly and truly yourself so SO DEEPLY SATISFYING. It makes you feel whole in a way that nothing else can, because you ARE whole. A good caamora can shake you out of even a deep depression, cure even intense anxiety. This why we practice the caamora. It is better than therapy, better than drugs, better than any but the best sex. It is revelation, challenge, and comfort all rolled into one. It is wild, ecstatic, cathartic. It is one of my very favorite things.