For some forty years the School of Wicca has taught a (correspondence) course in meditation and astral travel; we have written a book outlining the way to improve your success rate and to enter deep states of both activities (Frost and Frost: Astral Travel). We have also published a DVD on the same subject.
The requirement that the School’s enrolled students submit feedback from their work has equipped us to refine and improve both the instructions and the students’ success rate. It has shown quite clearly that various methods of releasing endorphines dramatically improve these success rates. The endorphines are endogenous morphine; that is, morphine produced by the body itself in the pituitary gland and in the hypothalamus. Such endorphines are produced by:
1. sustained exercise – This is sometimes called the runner’s high since it is experienced by runners who push beyond their normal limits–through the burn, if you will;
2. excitement – Any form of unusual experience that produces an excited state will produce endorphines. This can be as simple as going for the first time to a naturist camp or viewing a particularly exciting sequence in a movie;
3. pain – In former times when the lash was used and when boys were caned in school, there were reports that some individuals deliberately misbehaved so that they could re-experience the high occurring after the pain finished. Soldiers wounded in battle get a reduced pain level because the body reflexively produces endorphines to produce an analgesic effect;
4. consumption of spicy food or dark chocolate and red wine – For some reason that we don’t yet understand, highly spiced food produces endorphines, as does dark bitter chocolate eaten with red wine, especially dark red Chilean wine.
5. falling in love and (later in the relationship) orgasms produce a large endorphine rush;
6. moving to a beat – Ballroom dancing is a perfect example of this: Yvonne clearly enters an altered state the minute she hits that dance floor with a partner who has almost any level of skill.
Looking at these various ways to produce endorphines, we can understand the basis for certain elements in the initiation ceremonies that are traditional in some Wiccan paths: dancing till they drop; having orgasm(s); and being whipped; eating chocolate and drinking red wine. All these experiences produce effects that help change the participants’ state of consciousness.
Combining two or three of the best-known methods of getting into a relaxed, exhilarated state, allows rapid access to other levels of awareness.
Since most work on endorphines is quite recent, it is encouraging to us that initiation ceremonies were designed to produce specific results that help in achieving their ends. It therefore behooves us not to disregard or hastily spurn any step in a traditional ceremony or rite of passage. Instead of brushing aside such a heritage, let us feel a sense of gratitude for the knowledge won so hard after centuries of trial-and-error by our spiritual forebears. They worked from a cold start to gain the knowledge that careless people today may not appropriately honor through simple ignorance.