Trance events have an uncanny ability to capture an era, and captivate an audience of travellers occupying the eternal theatre of the dance floor. The result of fifteen years of research inover a dozen countries, this book applies a sharp lens on a little understood global dance culture that has mushroomed all over the world since its beginnings in the diverse psychedelic music scenes flourishing in Goa, India, in the 1970s and 1980s. Dr Graham St John is a cultural anthropologist with an interdisciplinary research interest in electronic dance music cultures, ritual and performance. Visit our Secret Garden - a bungalow Hotel resort at guesthouse rates in Bor Sang near Chiang Mai Thailand.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Beyond that there are moments when I am touched by a power from beyond me – a power that runs through me when I am open to it.  Now, having being trained both in mathematics and theology at third level, I do have a healthy sceptical side to my mind as well as more open heart. The nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) often said that “whatever does not kill us makes us stronger.” Many years ago I remember coming out of hospital and marvelling that I had such powers of recovery – powers that I really did not know I had until then. In our last reflection in this sequence of posts, we spoke about spirituality and presence and now we turn to its apparent opposite: the spirituality of absence.
Finding God’s love in life can be difficult especially when we are going through hard times.
As this book shows, the tendency within psytrance is to thwart the passage of time, to prolong the night, for those who adopt a liminal lifestyle.
At the dusk of a scorching day, in outfits with vivid fractal designs, alien insignia, OM symbols and geometric mandala patterns, they arrive in cohorts who’ve journeyed from a multitude of national embarkation points. The Dance Temple is integral to the biennial Boom Festival held in central-eastern Portugal near the protected area Parque do Tejo Internacional and the village of Idanha-a-Nova. Enjoy your stay with wellness, swimming and trips to the stunning attractions of north Thailand! Here I wish to look at what or who I believe the Holy Spirit is or may be.  The only way I can do this is to reflect on my own experience thereof. In other words we can and do experience God in our lives at moments of peak experiences whether they be ones of utter joy or even ones of utter despair.  Truly Bonhoeffer, like many other martyrs for truth – no matter what their religious background – saw God at work in the world. Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology.


Squaring the two can lead to intellectual doubts, but those doubts can never give the lie to the validity of personal experience. In talking about spiritual matters, it would seem that we are always involved in the balancing of polar opposites. When life is dealing out challenges to us it can be difficult to see the Divine love around us. Amid the hustle and hubris of the psytrance carnival there is a peaceful repose that you sometimes catch when you’ve drifted into a sea of outstretched limbs, bodies swaying like a field of sunflowers in a light breeze. Via first-hand accounts of the scenes, events and music of psychedelic trance in Australia, Israel, Italy, the UK, the US, Turkey and other places, the book thoroughly documents this transnational movement with its diverse aesthetic roots, multiple national translations and internal controversies. With utility-belts slinked at the waste and dreadlocks knotted back, imprinted with futuristic glyphs, etched in tribal tattoos and marked by facial piercings, they come bearing gifts of specially prepared decoctions, meads, herbal mixes, ganja cakes, crystal powders, beer and other intoxicants, along with fruits and energy supplements they will share among friends and strangers encountered through the night, and into the day. An eight-day event, Boom is the premiere production in world psychedelic trance (psytrance) and visionary arts culture, with its Temple attracting near 25,000 people holding passports from approximately seventy countries. There are some experiences that stand out for me as being what Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) famously described as “peak experiences” that may be described as transcendent moments of pure joy and elation.
These days I am preparing a short celebration for the family and friends of a young former student who ended his life at twenty years of age by hanging himself from a tree not too far from the school in which I teach. As a multi-sited ethnography and an examination of the digital, chemical, cyber and media assemblage constituting psytrance, the book explores the integrated role that technology and spirituality have played in the formation of this visionary arts movement and shows how these event-cultures accommodate rites of risk and consciousness, a complex circumstance demanding revisionof existing approaches to ritual, music and culture. Nearby, a Japanese freak in his early thirties stands astride jabbing at unseen soap bubbles up ahead. Inside the Dance Temple, I’m immersed in a soundbath of languages and caught in a blizzard of sensory impressions.
The memory of such events is lasting and people often liken them to a spiritual experience. Surely this is not my role?  Maybe I should be at a film or in the pub drinking.  But my heart was saying that there was no other place I would want to be at this point in time. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” We may never catch it, but surely it will catch us. Up on stage, an artist is DJing from a laptop and orchestrating a sonic broadside incorporating hypnotic melody lines around persistent and seductive bass-lines.


An Italian girl in fairy wings swivels gracefully four-stepping in perfect unison with the beat.
I can remember the wonderful Latin hymns and all the incense used at a ceremony called “Benediction” when I was a boy. A German freak, who I recognise by his unyielding grin, is cutting it up inside his own personal smoke cloud.
That haunting Gregorian chant, the golden vestments of the priest, the gold and silver rays of the monstrance all conspired to make me feel that there was something else there, some power above and beyond us. The psychological side of my education tells me with the contemporary psychologist and psychotherapist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (b. As a grown man I love attending the annual performance of Handel’s wonderful Messiah here in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. Our music teacher said at least once in my hearing: “How can you hear this wonder and remain an unbeliever?” I know I am personally moved, inspired and uplifted by attending this wonderful performance yearly.
The national colour-codes and iconography of Japan, Israel, Sweden, Brazil and Australia, to name a few, blend with expatriate gestures, not dissimilar to those performed by forebears in Goa, India, the birthplace of Goatrance, the formative dance movement from which psytrance and its various subgenres grew. All about me, transnational beat freaks ride the 16th note loop of psychedelic trance, compelled by its progression, acting as if everything depends on its maintenance, as if a faltering move will cause a collapse in the rhythm and a diminution of the vibe.
And as we pass outside of ourselves, it seems to me that everyone has fallen into the slot, that zone which everybody knows though few can articulate—that moment in which nothing remains the same.
Oscillating between self-dissolution and spectacular displays of the self, its passengers are blissful abductees.
Eventually, I snake my way across this incredible synesthetic stomping ground, idling to absorb kangaroo stilt performers jumping over gales of laughter.



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