An individual in a trance appears to be in a sleeplike condition which is usually accompanied by an indifference to his objective environment and an amnesia to whatever occurs during the period that he is in this state. Trance has a more popular usage than a scientific designation. It can describe a daze state resulting from drugs, illness, prolonged contemplation, or other agencies.
Mystics can induce trances, or altered states of consciousness, by fasting, positioning himself in strained physical postures, and intense concentration. He becomes unaware of his physical environment including all physical discomfort which he may be experiencing. Instead he experiences deep emotional revelations or significance intellectual adventures.
When the term trance is used in various Traditions and paths in Neo-Paganism, such as Wicca, witchcraft and Shamanism it usually refers to altered states of consciousness.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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