Gender Differences and Somafera

Somebody recently asked about female somaferans in one of the comment threads, and an important question like that should get a spotlight, so here goes.

There seem to be fewer female berserkers than male ones, in my experience. However, as far as I can tell, there are roughly equal numbers of male and female somaferans. I have noticed that female somaferans tend to more often be of one sort of madspace variety or another. Maenadism is a common form of female somaferan, but women who experience more intellectual types of madspace than spiritual types are just as common. In other words, female somaferans tend to have the kinds of somaferan natures that give them easy access to deep ecstatic spiritual trance states, such as those experienced during Vodoun rituals, or the kinds of intellectual eureka revelations that drive science and other forms of problem solving.

Insofar as female berserkers go, they can be just as dangerous as the male variety. Now, the gangr only enhances whatever strength is already present through changes in body chemistry and muscle use, so male berserkers tend to still be much stronger, even in a gangr. However, this strength difference does not matter as much as one might think.

There were two types of initiations that the berserkers of the old Pack used to use. Trial by fire was one, but trial by combat was another. One of our few female berserkers decided that she wanted to have an initiation ritual, and requested trial by combat, with me as her opponent. It went as most such experiences do, with me just playing with her enough to trigger fear and anger without putting her down. When she suddenly broke through, however, she put me down quickly. I may have been stronger, but her smaller size meant that the extra oomph the gangr state gave to her speed was greater than mine. She rushed in faster than I could react to. While I might have been strong enough still to clobber her even in her gangr rage, she struck with an adrenaline-enhanced power, well placed, that put me down so fast that my extra strength didn’t matter. She jumped on top of me to pin me long enough for a win. I was surprised. I have fought a great many opponents, and there have only ever been two I could not lift off of me. One was a 500 pound sumo. The other was her 160 pound frame. She kept pushing me down with great power and shifting her position so quickly that I could not effectively oppose her.

I will note also that, in the Poetic Edda, Thor boasts of having defeated women berserkers as if this was such a mighty undertaking that even a god might boast of it.

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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.

Putting on the Wolf Skin

frontcoverAfter the somafera forum closed down, we few remaining members of the old Pack each went our separate ways to pursue our own paths. We each decided to take what we had learned from the forum and send it out into the world in whatever form we thought would do the most good. I’m a writer, so I plan on publishing a series of books on the subject of the berserkergang and other forms of somafera.

I have just published the first of these – Putting on the Wolf Skin: The Berserkergang and Other Forms of Somafera. I split it into two parts that can either be read separately or together. The first tackles the berserkergang, using primarily a spiritual and martial arts perspective. The second addresses the intellectual variant of somafera, the one that enhances mental functioning. This one uses a more scientific perspective. It is a beginner’s book, that covers the basics of how these states work, what it is like to experience them, and more. It provides details of ancient and modern initiation rituals, as well as a number of exercises to induce the state, as developed by the members of the forum over the course of decades. It gives advice on how to come to terms with the tumultuous, difficult lives that born somaferans are prone to experiencing. It also provides a summary of our scientific investigations into the state.

I have attempted to distill the fundamentals of these practices as developed by a team of dedicated somaferan researchers that included medical theorists, Navy SEALs, spiritualists, and more. I wish to thank them for all of their help and guidance over the years. The contents of this book are a product of their efforts and insights as much as my own. Fare well wherever you fare, siblings.

You can purchase Putting on the Wolf Skin direct from Createspace, or on Amazon.com (or order it from your local bookstore).