Ecstatic Body Postures: A Ritual Doorway Into Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness



Anthropologist Felicitas D. Goodman discovered among the artworks of hunter- gatherer and horticultural societies around the world evidence of body postures which, when used in the context of ritual, produce a highly specific altered state of consciousness. Her earlier research on glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues” (ref. 1), had identified that the body undergoes physiological changes during the religious altered state of consciousness; glossolalia is a vocalization that occurs in conjunction with those changes in the body. Later she found that when a ritual body posture is coupled with the necessary preparations and a method for rhythmically stimulating the nervous system, it is possible to induce the experience of ecstatic trance. (ref. 2) In this ecstatic trance state, individuals utilize organs of perception different from the familiar five senses in order to witness and experience an alternate reality.

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