Trying to get back to my Monday book reviews, I've decided to review Diana Paxson's 2008 book Trance-portation: Learning to navigate the inner world. I was excited to read this book after it was released because I feel that there is a distinct need for this type of work. There are many books on the market that are intended to address guiding people through the beginner stages of trance and spiritual journey work, but I often feel that the subject is not handled well. Too many times the basics - grounding, centering, shielding, discernment, and such - are either over emphasized to the point that nothing else is addressed, or else the basics are glossed over in favor of more advanced material. In this work, however, there is a good balance between the essential basics and the necessary advanced steps that creates a very functional and useful manual for trance work.
The book includes 13 sections: travel planning, crossing the threshold, getting started, trance-perception, there and back again, native guides, getting along in the culture, mapping the inner worlds, fellow travelers, destinations, your place or mine, going nowhere being everywhere, and road hazards. There are also three appendices: notes for the tour guides, guidance systems, and journeys to find allies. Each section follows logically from the previous one so that it works as an instruction manual or can be used as a reference by skipping to the section needed.
This is an excellent book for those who wish to begin using trance and journey
techniques and have no practical experience, but it is also useful for people who do have experience. The author does a thorough job of explaining the principles behind
this type of spiritual work, but what makes this book such a good resource for practitioners of all levels is
the practical advice. The book touches on common problems people face, includes
cautions and protection ideas, as well as how to connect to Otherwordly spirits
and deities, and what to expect. The tone of the book is very practical and full of anecdotal advice that illustrates the points in ways that are easier to understand than simple dry facts would be. I also really liked that while Diana's own approach is largely Norse the book is intentionally aimed at a general audience and can be applied to almost any spiritual path; a seidhr-worker should get as much out of this as someone coming from an Irish (or Celtic) view, or a modern neopagan.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is
interested in beginning this type of work; this book will give the reader a firm
foundation to work from. It includes suggestions for how to do trance work and also what to do trance work for, which was nice, as it includes ideas that might be new perspectives for some readers. Trance work is more than just wandering around the Otherworlds for personal enlightenment or seeking answers to questions and the book provides some good suggestions for other uses. I also very much liked the way the author encourages people to be safe and to use discernment both in the Journey and with anything gained form the Journey, as this can be an area that beginners fall into bad habits with.
Overall I think this book is essential reading for anyone who does spiritual journey work, both as a great place to start and also as a good refresher for more experienced people. It is certainly the first book I recommend to those asking where to start and also one I re-read whenever I feel I need to. There isn't anything else on the market that is quite like this book.