Combat Trance: What is it and how does it work?

The fighting trance of the people of antiquity

It would seem that at first you try to ensure that life is safe, but there is plenty of food, and then you eat and dance - but no. There is a theory, formulated relatively recently by the ethnographer of Georgian origin, Joseph Zhordania, that some types of art appeared due to the ability of human consciousness to pass into a special state - trance, and even a martial one.

This phenomenon was discovered in prehistoric times, moreover, it was used in full force, and the battle trance left its mark, perhaps, at the origins of the emergence of various types of art.

It is impossible to say for sure when our ancestors discovered this feature and when they began to use it. It turned out that in the presence of certain conditions, one can become fearless, not feeling pain, while completely dissolved in a group of his own kind, as one of the parts of a large and complex living organism.

A person who is in this state feels euphoric, he is practically not susceptible to pain and even feels serious wounds only as discomfort - up to a certain point. Fear disappears, this leads either to the ability to fight tirelessly during the battle, or to the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of a common goal. An important feature of the combat trance is the disappearance of one's “I” and its replacement with “we” or a large, collective “I”. Such "fighting madness" throughout human history was observed during wars, on the battlefield, but it is believed that it appeared much earlier.

According to Professor Jordania, with the settlement in Africa in the Paleolithic era, people faced a serious danger from large predators. Then they began to practice deliberate, conscious entry into a combat trance - through synchronous screams - loud, strange and frightening - and synchronous movements: they drove the lions away, and freed themselves from fear. And therefore, the "wild" dances and peculiar rituals of African tribes, and not only African ones, can be perceived as echoes of that period of human development.


How the state of battle trance was induced

Combat trance arises by itself at the moment when one's own life is at stake - with a feeling of great, mortal danger. But already thousands of years ago, techniques were used with the help of which it was possible to immerse an entire tribe in this state - for example, before a hunt or on the eve of a battle.

Among the simple ways to achieve this are rhythmic head movements, a specific breathing rate - this causes a certain hypnotic effect. It is somewhat more complicated - shouts, songs, the use of percussion musical instruments subordinated to some kind of ritual - all this in chorus, synchronously. Before the ceremony, paint was applied to the body, dance movements were performed, which, due to their synchronicity, introduced the participants into a state of trance.

Thanks to this state of affairs - when it was possible to cope with the danger by reaching another level of consciousness - different types of art appeared. It is even possible that some of them to this day resonate with viewers and listeners thanks to this reference to ancient instincts.

Still, in a state of combat trance, there are many attractive things: to become fearless and, in fact, invulnerable to the enemy, to protect your “I” by dissolving it in the collective “we” - such an ancient and natural experience could not pass without a trace in a relatively short period of civilization development. Harmony in dance, synchronous movements of dancers to the beat of music have not only aesthetic value, but also carry echoes of ancient practices, which at that time could not be explained otherwise than by the influence of higher divine forces.

How the military march and battle cry appeared

The power of music in the context of battles with the enemy was still appreciated by the Spartans in the era of the ancient Greek states. The soldiers measured their step to the beat of the flute melody that accompanied the procession. In the days of antiquity, they knew very well what a fighting trance was, this state in Greek mythology was called "lissa", it took possession of a person as some kind of implacable deity and made him invulnerable, furious, even insane.

Roman soldiers are credited with the invention of the rule to keep pace, with a marching step, which was adopted after a millennium and a half by the Europeans of the New Time. A musical genre called the march appeared, which bore the function of the sound accompaniment of "walking in the foot". Mostly drums were used to accentuate the rhythm. Warriors walking side by side, marching in sync, and otherwise acquired the features of a single complex organism. It turned out that all this also affects the capabilities of the army during the battle - the military trance or a state close to it was experienced by the military of the new era.

The cry has acquired special significance in the phenomenon of combat trance. In different eras and in different states, it sounded differently: "Alam!" among the Hellenes, Nobiscum Deus ("God with us!") - in the Byzantine Empire, the battle cry in Japanese sounded "Banzai!", which literally means "Ten thousand".

The battle trance received coverage in the mythology of different peoples. Among the Greeks, an image of such a frenzied state can be found in the life stories of Hercules. And among the characters of ancient Scandinavian myths, there are berserk warriors - they are frantic in battles, do not feel pain, and very aggressive. Allegedly, after the battle, the berserkers fell exhausted, engulfed in deep sleep.

Another option or an auxiliary way to achieve the desired state was intoxication with psychotropic substances - from alcohol to hallucinogenic mushrooms, which also influenced the self-awareness of those preparing for a battle or for a hunt. All this also became - and is still becoming - a part of various cults and initiations, some of which have passed through the centuries and millennia.


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