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.


Gangr Amnesia

The following question was recently posted in the Comments section.

“I often hear berserkers saying they’ve blacked out during gangrs. That’s only happened to me a couple times for very brief periods. What’s more common for me is, in my gangr state, I’m aware of what’s happening and able to remember a some things, but it’s like I’m watching from the outside, almost out of body but that’s not quite the right way to explain. It’s like my mind is a passive obsever who is in no way controlling what the Beast is doing. And my memory of the event will be spotty. But I seldom have actual amnesia, just a loss of control and cant remember certain details after. Is that common?”

This is a matter of both luck and experience. Most berserkers start with complete blackouts and amnesia every time they berserk. With experience, foggy memories start to appear, and the kind of dissociated awareness that is described here. With even more experience, complete awareness and memory are retained.

Some few are just lucky enough to always be aware. That is rather rarer than what I described above, though.

This is all because the berserker state of mind is radically different than the normal human one. Its awareness is very different. The way it lays down memories and accesses them is different. The human mind has to become familiar enough with these differences for it to be able to access those memories, or latch onto the Beast’s awareness.

New Book

I have published a new book about somafera. One thing I have noticed over the years I have been involved in the somafera community is that a lot of people do not process information well in the rather academic way I went about it in the previous book. Instead, they tend to understand things better when presented with examples. So I wrote a memoir, a narrative of my own story as a somaferan. I included, in brief, the stories of several others. It’s a short booklet, a little more than eighty pages, but I believe I included the important things. I go over what childhood can be like for a berserker, and how to gain control. I discuss the unique problems of a somaferan nature, and show some ways they can be dealt with. It can be purchased here.

(The title comes from something they always used to write on my report cards when I was a kid.)


Somafera, Religion, and Spirituality

It has recently been pointed out to me that I need to address the issue of somafera, religion, and spirituality again. I have done so before, on multiple occasions, but apparently I have written enough on the topic of somafera that it is not always easy for everybody to find everything.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: somafera practice is not a religion, and it is not a form of spirituality. At its most basic, the various somafera practices are forms of applied physiological science. They alter the way the body and mind function in order to make them work better, for short periods of time. Practically speaking, the matter is more complicated than that.
Entering a somaferan state involves transcendental emotions. For the vast majority of people, that is going to involve some kind of spiritual or religious experience. On the one hand, this is the only way most people can ever experience such powerful emotions, outside of life or death experiences. On the other hand, the experience of feeling transcendental emotions will be experienced as a spiritual or religious experience for the great majority of people. It is simply human nature that this is so.
The thing is, it is not this way for everyone. There are also atheist somaferans. Not many, but I have known a few. They do not use spiritual or religious experiences to achieve transcendental emotions. When they experience such emotions, the do not perceive them as having either a religious or as spiritual component (and no, “religious” and “spiritual” are not synonyms).
One thing that spiritual somaferans and atheist somaferans have in common, though, is the need for meditation. You see, overload alone is not enough. The overload has to happen in a state of meditative calm. This is because adrenaline alone is a really bad thing, when taken to excess. High levels of adrenaline cause the shakes, poor coordination, and bad judgment. Meditation calms the mind, and the rest of the nervous system, allowing the body to experience the benefits of adrenaline without any of the drawbacks. Additionally, meditation allows the deep subconscious to be more easily accessed, and this is a prerequisite of the gangr. elevating requires the whole mind to act in unison, and this cannot happen without tapping into the deep subconscious.
(Side note here: reflexive gangrs that occur in response to life or death crises do not technically require meditation at all. However, this is only because the sheer shock and surprise wipes away everything that was in the conscious awareness, and dumps the mind into an instantaneous, deep, default meditative state.)
Spiritual somaferans see meditation as a method of getting in contact with spiritual powers. Atheist somaferans see meditation as a form of hypnosis, entraining the mind into the right channels.
There is something of a debate in the modern world between the religious/spiritual perspective on the one hand, and the atheist perspective on the other. I do not take either position, myself. I am a monistic idealist, philosophically speaking. The only reason that we know that everything in the observable world is made of physical particles is because we have the mental experience of observing them. There is no experiment on the observable world that has ever been conducted or ever will be conducted that does not end with “…and I know this because I saw/heard/touched/smelled/tasted it.” In other words, the primary layer of reality as we experience it is mental, not physical. Physical objects, the entire outside world, is at its very foundation a special type of mental experience. Please note that this is not because experiments are badly designed. No experiment, no matter how cleverly set up, can ever change this. Reality is primarily mental.
Because I do not know enough to say that one of these views is true and the others are false, I do not claim that any religious belief is false. As a consequence of this, I accept all religious beliefs as provisionally true, at least until I get any better evidence one way or another. Therefore, I believe in Odin and the gods of Valhalla. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that there is one god, and Mohammed is his prophet. I believe that Buddha was enlightened and that Lao Tzu achieved great comprehension of the Tao. I believe in the lwa, and the orisha. I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. I even believe the atheists are correct. We all have a small part of the truth. Nothing more. To claim greater knowledge than this is hubris, the act of an egotistical fool.

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.

The Paratrooper’s Prayer

This prayer was found on the body of a dead paratrooper in World War Two. I first heard it at a somafera Gathering. These are good words for any berserker to live by.

I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things which others never ask of You.
I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquility.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can’t have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.
Give me what others don’t want.
I want uncertainty and doubt.
I want torment and battle.
And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
so I can be sure to always have them,
because I won’t always have the strength to ask again.
But give me also the courage, the energy,
and the spirit to face them.
I ask You these things Lord,
because I can’t ask them of myself.

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.