I have been increasingly concerned about what I can only call Christian “trance dancing”. I have been watching many videos on youtube and google video of different worship meetings and there seems to be some very disconcerting common threads. One is that they look a lot like rave parties with many people up front as in a rock concert or mosh pit.
Here is a picture of a Christian mosh pit:
The second common thread to these kinds of meetings is the very pagan or voodoo sounding drum beats and their relationship to bringing people into trance states or altered states of consciousness.
David Cloud states in his article “IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN ROCK MUSIC AND VOODOO OR AFRICAN PAGANISM?”, that the modern rock and roll music industry did indeed have it’s roots in the African tribal culture:
“The incessant, poly-rhythms pounded out on cylindrical drums [by African tribals] is the catalyst of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and today’s heavy metal. It is amazing that the reactions we see at a contemporary rock concert are an exact copy of what happened in the Pinkster celebrations [black festivals in New York] or at Place Congo [black slave dancing in New Orleans] during the Antebellum Period. Any analysis that denies this fact renders the church impoverished in its understanding of the African connection to the rock movement of the 20th century. (1)
What happens when someone is exposed to this kind of tribal drumming for any period of time? “Studies have shown that vibrations from rhythmic sounds have a profound effect on brain activity. In shamanic traditions, drums were used in periodic rhythm to transport the shaman into other realms of reality. The vibrations from this constant rhythm affected the brain in a very specific manner, allowing the shaman to achieve an altered state of mind and journey out of his or her body .” (2)
Roger Oakland, in his article “Drumming Up Jesus” says:
Studying the Bible verse by verse is no longer a prerequisite for mature spiritual growth according to many emergent church leaders. Instead, innovative methods are being promoted to get in tune with “God” or get closer to “God” by re-introducing techniques practiced by the pagans. These are methods that bring instant gratification and sensation. Contact with the spirit world is guaranteed for spiritual seekers who want to have an encounter with “Jesus” by experimenting with the mystical and the metaphysical. ….
With the skill of a seasoned grand marshal, Cory Blake takes the discordant pieces and leads the group into an amazingly alluring beat. Listen for a few minutes and you understand why shamans use drums to lure themselves into trances. “It’s a contemplative tradition,” Blake says of the drum circle he’s leading. “It speaks directly to the intelligence of the body.” (3) (for more information on contemplative traditions see my blog on IHOP and contemplative prayer here)
Is this what is happening in churches all over the country, and even around the world? Are Christians being lured by another spirit into trances that introduce them to another Jesus?
“Since Richard Foster and others have led the way for the popularization of the “contemplative tradition” in the name of spiritual formation in countless churches professing to be Christian, practices like shamanistic drumming are promoted as an excellent way to get into an altered state of consciousness in the name of Christ. However, while tuning one’s brain into a hypnotic beat of a drum may “speak directly to the intelligence of the body,” getting into a mindless trance can be lethal for one’s soul. “ (4)
What happens to someone when they are exposed to this drumming?
”This is when the drum is used as a vehicle to enter a different state of consciousness rather than merely as a musical instrument. It is in this different state – named the shamanic state of consciousness – that the shamanic practitioner can receive vital information and healing for the individual or community with which he or she is working. This type of drumming – which has been used by shamans all over the world for thousands of years – is a repetitive rhythm played about 250 beats per minute (4-7 beats per second). This entrains the brain into the theta state – opening people to receive inspiration and vision. When the shaman has gathered the information they require – the drumming changes to a rapid rhythm of around 350 beats per minute, bringing them back to an ordinary state of consciousness.
Can we all reach this altered state of consciousness through the drums?
Yes, anyone can alter his or her state of consciousness.
Our ancestors have been using drums in this way for thousands of years. However, once they were in an altered state of consciousness, they knew exactly how to skilfully navigate within that reality, whereas our culture is just re-discovering those latent talents. Shamans have always understood the importance of the drum.” (5)
Trance Dancing changes the brain waves from alpha and beta to Theta:
Brain pattern studies conducted by researcher Melinda Maxfield into the (SSC) Shamanic State of Consciousness found that the steady rhythmic beat of the drum struck four and one half times per second was the key to transporting a shaman into the deepest part of his shamanic state of consciousness. It is no coincidence that 4.5 beats, or cycles per second corresponds to the trance like state of theta brain wave activity. In direct correlation, we see similar effects brought on by the constant and rhythmic drone of Tibetan Buddhist chants, which transport the monks and even other listeners into realms of blissful meditation.
Theta waves range between 4-7 HZ. Theta is one of the more elusive 20 and extraordinary realms we can explore. It is also known as the twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we rise up out of the depths of delta upon waking, or drifting off to sleep. In theta we are in a waking dream, vivid imagery flashes before the mind’s eye and we are receptive to information beyond our normal conscious awareness. (6)
Note the drum beats in the following video:
Sloshfest 08 Glory dance trance
“For millennia humans have been dancing in the wilderness in ritual and in ceremonial rites of passage. In many cultures such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari, we can find techniques of trance dancing, which elevate them into ecstatic, altered states of consciousness. When the Bushmen enter this state, it is reported that such an incredible rush of energy surges through their bodies that they cannot help but fall to the ground. This has been compared to the kundalini rising- the dormant energy at the base of the spine that can be awakened through certain yogic techniques. “ (7) (see my blogs on the Kundalini here)
According to David Cloud of Way of Life, Christian drum circles are becoming more and more popular.
“Drum circles are growing in popularity in North American society in general and are beginning to be used in ecumenical and emerging churches.
A drum circle is a group of people who get together to beat out rhythms on various types of drums and to be carried along by the interminable pounding beat. Drum circles are a logical outgrowth of the addiction to the rock & roll back beat, which is an integral part of contemporary Christian worship.
The group Rhythm Praise is dedicated to hosting drum circles and “rhythm events.” It is said to “open up a dialog within a community where communication, shared values, self-esteem and unity can be attained” (http://www.rhythmpraise.org/). It is “a vehicle to break down barriers between people and to foster healing.”
In 2004 the Cameron United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado, hosted a community drum circle night entitled “drumming up the spirits” (Christine Stevens, “Drumming up the Spirits,” Christian Sound & Song, Issue 9, 2005, http://www.ubdrumcircles.com/article_spirits.html).
This was “a kick-off to future church based drumming programs” and since then the women’s spirituality group has taken up drumming.
Stevens says: “Drumming is happening in churches across America. It is being used in children’s programs, worship services, family events, and men’s and women’s groups.”
The Church of the Holy Comforter of Richmond, Virginia, founded by Regena Stith, uses drum circles. Stith first experienced the drums in the late 1990s during a yoga retreat (Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, p. 70). She said that during the drumming “you move out of your head.” (8 )
What is the purpose of bringing Christians into an altered state of consciousness through trance dancing and drum circles? It is to seduce them into believing that they are having a mystical experience with God whereby they experience a state of “ecstasy”. This is a “feeling” based spirituality, not a faith based one. You will notice that most of these tranced based “Christian” meetings are geared toward the youth. Now instead of taking the pill they say that Jesus is the new X. (see my blogs about John Crowder and the kundalini spirit here)
Here is Ben Dunn repeating the mantra “going into ecstasy” on the video: ecstasies – Benjamin Dunn – Sloshfest 08
Compare the above videos with the following New Age group that promotes Ekstasis Dance:
“The word ecstasy has its roots in Greek, ec stasis- to be outside of oneself. In ancient Greece there were temples in which the rites of attaining ecstasy were performed, often with the help of the Soma. The term Soma is found in the writings of many ancient peoples from Greece to India; the ingredients are mysterious yet it was apparently some kind of psychoactive tea, possibly mushroom tea.
Currently, the most popular rave drug is ‘ecstasy,’ what used to be pharmaceutical MDMA. It can have the effects of heightening fleshy sensations, energizing dance movement and conversation. In this case, the individual has not left his/her body as in some ecstatic rites, rather, the body has become a more pleasurable place to be, charged with serotonin. What is interesting, however, is that ecstasy can urge people to connect through speech or touch, to almost go inside the other person. The ec stasis may be to become a part of somebody else, even a complete stranger. Perhaps the ego is still at play, yet the usual barriers of separation begin to dissolve. A sense of love and acceptance can arise in a large group of people. The dangers of using too much ecstasy, of course, is that the serotonin function burns out and is lost.
The urge to dance and to enter altered states of consciousness is in fact part of a natural process. From the dawning of human culture, there have existed the ‘rites of passage’. These rites are imprinted in the human psyche and contain psychic energy patterns, that is to say in Jungian terms -the archetypes of the collective unconscious. These archetypal rites of passage represent an important and sacred time, the coming into adulthood of an adolescent boy or girl. The primary and essential pattern is threefold. “(9)
In the article Trance, Dance, and Ecstasy - A Planetary Rite of Passage Steve Harkless states the following:
“The rites of passage have been reinitiated; they break through the unconscious by their need to be fulfilled. Most ‘ravers’ seem to be in the age group of 14 – 20. This is appropriate considering that it is also the natural time to enter into adulthood. The stages of separation, expansion, and rebirth come to the surface and manifest themselves. They may be carried out successfully. The DJ fills the role of the shaman/guide; yet because there are no traditional elders to guide the youth through the experience, the first stage may be an obstacle. “……
The lesson that can be shown by using ecstasy, as we learn in much Eastern philosophy, is that we are not separate from one another or from the cosmos. The truth is that we do not need the pill to experience ecstasy. It is possible through music and dance alone, to open up to and receive the energies of one another, the earth and the cosmos. The love that is felt is always present; it does not come from the pill! Therefore it is up to us to access that energy, the experience of connection, and the dissolution of the ego. While still embracing individual expression, we may realize that we are all beautiful, individual expressions of the undivided whole. The dance is not a competition; it is a phenomenal reflection of the greater Self. ……
‘Shamanic techniques’ also come into play with genres such as psychedelic trance; the repetition of certain tones with increased beats-per-minute can induce a trance state. The various frequencies, aided by a powerful sound system, do resonate and open the energy centers of the body. The heartbeat of the bass kick keeps us grounded on Earth, while the higher frequencies open our crowns to the world of the sky.” (10)
Here is an example of Christian ekstasis dance and “worship”
Dj Caleb & Club Mysterio (promoted by Patricia King of Xtreme prophetic)
As said above: “Ekstasis (Ecstasy) is from the Ancient Greek, έκ-στασις (ex-stasis), and means to stand outside of oneself or to be removed to somewhere else. Ekstasis worship or trance dancing is known to every pagan culture and is meant to bring the participant to a level of excitement called ecstasy. Trance Dance is a “healing tool” with its roots in many ancient cultures. It is practiced by Shaman.
“Listen to how one New Age writer defines and describes the ecstatic form of dancing.
“The purpose of a trance dance is essentially to bring you to a place in the sacred zone where the spirits can reach you…In trance dance, the rhythms and movements combine with the music to create an altered state of consciousness that allows entry into the sacred realm…Allowing the body, and parts of the body, to move to and express rhythms it finds engaging in the moment leads to this meditative state of mind and allows entry into a deeper mythic reality.” Adapted from Circle of Shaman, by Karen Berggren (Inner Traditions, 1998).
Now let’s listen as Patricia King describes trance dancing or “Ekstasis” on her website Extreme Prophetic.
“DJ Caleb Club Mysterio combines ekstasis worship, beats, electronic musical expressions, dance, prayer and a powerful prophetic flow to create a Christian rave experience. Club Mysterio is not a Night Club, it is a Light Club! This new expression of abandoned worship allows you to put feet to your faith as you dance and flow, pressing into the presence of God and experiencing the deep mysteries of intimacy with the Lord…the One who is truly worth raving about!”
In a mail-out flyer from 2007, Patricia King invites participants to “Come bring in the New Year at the ultimate party in the secret place. Enter into the glory realm through the hypnotic sounds of Ekstasis music and the powerful sounds of drum and bass and deep house presented by our electronic music master DJ Caleb.
“Ekstasis is a Greek word for moving beyond oneself. Since time began we as humans have realized our ability to have sensations that transcend our mundane experience – to experience a journey to enhanced states of consciousness, and find freedom from the perceived constraints of time and space…… It is a chance to reclaim our shamanic heritage of healing through transformational, cathartic experiences. To dance our way into a trance, where we move beyond ourselves to connect with the divine source and bring back the vision of a fuller, more potent existence.” (www.ekstasisdance.com).
It is a well established fact that many of the eastern and esoteric religions employ the techniques of trance dancing. The hypnotic sounds and movements elevate dancers into ecstatic, altered states of consciousness. It is while they are in these altered states of consciousness that they are most open to suggestion, mind control, seduction by deceiving spirits, and spontaneous Kundalini awakenings. However do not be deceived there is no such thing as “Christian” trance dancing.” (11)
- IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN ROCK MUSIC AND VOODOO OR AFRICAN PAGANISM? http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/isthere.htm)
- Commentary by Roger Oakland “Drumming Up Jesus”