“According to Gary Osborn in the book The Shining Ones, the ancient shamans viewed consciousness as a traveling sine wave, with the “negative” half of the cycle representing the period during which we are asleep, and the “positive” half of the cycle representing the period during which we are awake. If one were to picture this in one’s mind, the line passing straight through the middle of the graph would represent the null line or timeline, and one peak and one trough would equal one cycle – which, as we know, is roughly a twenty-four hour period. This is called a circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle. The sleep-wake cycle not only consists of a positive (wakefulness) phase and a negative (asleep) phase but also a neutral (transliminal) phase. (The word “transliminal” comes from the Latin, for “crossing the boundary” or “threshold”).
These neutral phases – or nodes – are those points on the graph where the opposites, or two halves of a cycle, are briefly united. And these, of course, would represent the hypnopompic and hypnagogic states.
During a complete cycle, you cross the hypnagogic phase before falling asleep, and, before waking up, you cross the hypnopompic phase. Most people, of course, are totally unconscious during these phases – the SP [Sleep Paralysis] sufferer and the shaman being two exceptions.
“The neutral point in the cycle,” explains Osborn, “is where the opposites meet and are briefly unified – neutralised as separate phenomena. Therefore, for the ancient shaman, this formed a correspondence with the sexual union of male and female which produces that ‘creative spark’.”
Not only can the sleep-wake cycle be represented as a traveling sine wave, says Osborn, but so too can our own state of consciousness, which cycles or oscillates many times a second, “and in every instant we fluctuate momentarily between conscious and subconscious, with the unconscious ‘zero node’ crossed twice every cycle”.
To comprehend this better, think of the “positive” half of the cycle as representing the conscious self, which is objective and male, and the “negative” half of the cycle as representing the subconscious, which is subjective and female. The neutral points in the cycle represent the unconscious.
“If we become conscious at these points”, adds Osborn, “as in the hypnagogic state, then everything collapses into the centre or supersuperconscious”.
It could be said, then, that the SP state allows one access to a superconscious level of mind. Various techniques are employed by the shaman to enter a trance state, several of which I’ve already mentioned, such as beating a drum. There is another method, too, and it’s one that Martyn Pryer was obviously well aware of. What one has to do is to try and remain awake and aware at the point of going to sleep, which, as we know, enables one to enter the hypnagogic state. Shamans regard the hypnagogic state as a “gateway” or “portal” to other realms, one of them being the underworld. “In these ‘other worlds’ or ‘other-dimensional realms’,” writes Osborn, “the shaman encountered all kinds of creature, even human-animal hybrid . . . He also ‘met’ and interacted with dead people, friends, relatives and ancestors who would sometimes pass on important information which he could use to his benefit, although some would try to trick him and even do him harm [my emphasis]. We can see why he believed that this realm was the underworld, the world of the dead . . .” Speaking of shamanic journeys to the underworld, the hypnagogic experiences of Martyn Pryer spring to mind. These experiences, he insists, felt very real indeed and could not have been dreams – at least not regular dreams. Were they, then, lucid dreams? Or perhaps OBEs? My feeling is that they were lucid dreams (LDs), keeping in mind that these experiences, in the words of Sevilla, a lucid dreamer himself, “are usually vivid, almost always in color (for me) and rich in detail”.
Dark Intrusions: An Investigation into the Paranormal Nature of Sleep Paralysis Experiences
by Louis Proud, (Anomalist Books, 2010, pp. 131 – 132).