Instructor: Lynne Hume
Class meetings: none
Class description: This course will investigate the phenomena associated with mysticism, trance and altered states of consciousness. Using a comparative, cross-cultural approach, students will investigate mysticism and trance from different religious/spiritual perspectives. We will explore whether pre-existing beliefs, mythology, ritual, ‘set’ and ‘setting’, influence experiences. Some questions for consideration and discussion will be: are there commonalities in the experiences that people have during a trance experience? How do individual or group experiences reflect their beliefs and cultural backgrounds? What tools or techniques do people use to enter a trance state? How might religious/spiritual experiences be approached as a means of gaining knowledge? How does Paganism relate to all these questions and can we make comparisons with trance states in other cultures and spiritual practices? We will research major techniques used to enter a trance state employing various physical senses, some of which may be practiced during the course of the semester. From individuals such as the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen to indigenous shamans and modern Pagans, we will consider how belief, emotion and symbols can lead to spiritual experiences and transformation.
Required Readings: None. Readings will consist of book chapters, journal articles, and a recommended reading list. An extensive list of readings will be provided.
Recommended Reading: Hume, Lynne. 2007. Portals: Opening Doorways to Other Realities through the Senses. Oxford.
Fulfills the requirement for a class in Area I.