OK, let's say you understand what somafera is now. If you don't, please read my article The Basics. Also the home page, and the articles in the History sections, to get some ideas of somafera practices over history.
The next question on your mind is likely: why does anyone practice this? Well, the first thing to understand is that most people who practice somafera do so because we cannot help it. We are born prone to entering the unitary state of somafera. We cannot help it. It occurs even if we try to stop it.
How so? It seems that most of us are born prone to excess adrenaline. I've been told the term for this is adrenaline toxicity, and I've also been told that the term refers to a reaction to anaesthetics. But whatever the medical term, even slight bits of stress affect us like major life-and-death situations. Our brains cannot seem to distinguish between the need for a little adrenaline, and the need for all the adrenaline. This makes the great majority of us driven by rage, or at least prone to serious temper issues. Most people are not raised in an environment that teaches suitable coping skills for such a problem. This causes a vicious cycle to develop. A inappropriately bad temper produces negative reactions in others, which produces further negative reactions. In very little time such people learn to see the world in a very negative way, and to respond ever more aggressively to all problems. For us somaferans this means that with no formal training or any sort, we rapidly learn to produce so much stress and adrenaline that we overload the sympathetic nervous system and produce the unitary state. And because this adrenaline overload was more likely than not produced by rage, we find ourselves easily entering a state of fury of a transcendental nature. We easily lose our human natures in a desire to strike out at whatever produced the rage, even kill it.
This problem is only made worse by the fact that we seem to be born prone to obssessive thoughts and behaviors. Many of us have OCD, depression, autism, and other such things that are caused by obssessive lines of thought. This, when carried to extremes (as it easily is in the presence of adrenaline), caused a focus upon something, like a wrong done us, or an old memory, or a vague feeling, to the extent that it becomes a meditative focus. These two things together are all the necessary requirements for entering the unitary state.
This means that many of us are walking timebombs. And of those who aren't, we still tend to be beset by stormy relationships and an extreme emotional nature that can be so difficult to deal with that it can lead to suicide.
Why do we practice somafera? Not just why do we experience the state, as we cannot help, but why do we practice the initiation rituals, and meditative technqieus, why do we seek to enter this state deliberately? Because it's a matter of self defense. If we don't, many of us fear we will do someone some serious harm. Many of us fear, instead or additionally, that we will simply be swallowed up by the ever increasing torrent of emotion, and end up either a vegetable or dead by our own hands. Even those who are not so beset with problems find it a terrible strain to be ever fighting against what is such a large part of our true nature. Enough of a strain that a lifetime of fighting this state seems unbearable. And more, some of us have met old somaferans who spent their lives fighting this state, and found their health to be very poor indeed. Not surprisingly, for the link between constant stress and illness is very well documented, medically.
It is impossible to fight such powerful instincts, things that are so deeply woven into the fabric of who we are that they cannot be avoided. Surpressing them, as is the first instinct of nearly every somaferan I've met, is actually truly dangerous in the long run. Life being what it is will sooner or later put the somaferan under enough sudden stress that this happens anyways, and it will be all the more raging and wild for its long confinement. The best thing, in my opinion, and that of every other somaferan I've talked to but two (out of 150), is to learn to control the state, which means to enter into it deliberately, which seems to also give us the ability to exit it deliberately.
I don't know the details of why this is so. But once I learned to deliberately induce the state I found I learned so much about the mechanics of it that learning how to blunt or end its ill effects became apparent. I learned how to instinctively alter the way I enter the state, soas to produce a state that while still unitary, and wild, and powerful was still balanced, and simply by its nature not prone to running away into murderous excess. I learned (via simple Pavlovian conditioning) to see certain things as triggers to cause me to do something to disrupt the state, so if I am spiralling out of control I will become naturally prone doing making an error of thought that ruins the state and turns my conscious mind back on. This alone is worth all the difficulty and danger of learning to practices of my form of somafera, to me. I was wild and out of control once. I am not so, now. People got hurt. They do not get hurt now.
But even in addition to this, there is a positive reason that it seems we all share. The great majority of us have lived much if not all of our lives at war with ourselves and the outside world both. Torn continually between animal and human instincts. Never able to meaningfully reach out to another person, or to take what they offer us. We are too alien, at a bone level, to ever allow for any real understanding in most human relationships. I cannot explain what this is like to anyone who has not experienced it. We tend to live as strangers in a strange land, and we are often known as loners as a result. But establishing real control over this state changes this for us. Those of us who have established such control, by taking up these practices, describe it as being incredibly important. Many of us have credited it with saving our lives, or breaking a drug addiction. I myself felt, after my initiation, like for the first time in my life I was a single, whole thing. I was no longer at war with myself. It was like coming home to a home I never knew existed. To me, that alone was also worth any pain and risk, given where I was before.
And yet, these are not the only reasons for practicing somafera. There are many others that are both positive and useful
First, let me describe the simple physical ones. It is a well known fact amongst athletes that periodically greatly raising the heartrate and adrenaline is actually a long term benefit. It actually LOWERS the pulse and blood pressure during the times when the athlete is not working out. This is a much greater gain for the health than the harm done by periodic levels of high pulse and blood pressure. Like any form of athletics, forms of somafera that involve vigorous physical activity have this effect. Before my iniaitiation my resting heart rate was 90-110. As I've taken up my vigorous new lifestyle, my resting pulse has dropped to 50-60. My blood pressure dropped an average of 10 points too, not that it was bad before.
It is a widely accepted, if still disputed, fact amongst doctors that people with a deep spiritual conviction tend to heal better from injuries and recover better from illnesses than others. It is also a well known fact amongst psychologists that hypnosis (a Western style of meditation) can boost the immune system and improve rates of healing. Therefore it should hardly be surprising that somafera, being an intense form of meditation, also confers these benefits. My overall health has improved dramatically since I started these practices. I used to get sick all winter, every winter. Now I never get sick. Even when working in healthcare, as I often have. My endurance and conditioning are better than they've ever been, even when I was 18. I feel incredible, plain and simple.
And the ability of somafera to be used as a martial art, as it is in the berserkergang, the Heroic Feats, the Boxers, and more, has obvious benefits. It can save your life in a street fight. It has certainly been what's made me come out on top in a number of them. And this allows the somaferan who practices such martial art to not just be safer in day to day life, but also to be better people in other ways, too.
Let me give you an example or two. One day I was walking down the street, and saw a woman running from two male pursuers, screaming at them to leave her alone. The sheep walking around us on the street pretended they somehow couldn't see or hear this, and looked the other way, and walked on by. These people were dozens and the pursuers only two, they certainly could have done something. But their cowardcie overwhelmed them. Not so me. I went into a gangr, and grabbed both men at once, and threw them against a wall, and held them there until she was out of sight. It was the strength of the berserkergang that allowed me to throw them both at once. And that strength coupled with the ferocity of my face (the face distorts into something monstrous in a gangr) sent both of those guys cowering before me and begging my forgiveness. Because I had faced great pain and suffering in my particular manner of practice (not all forms of somafera are alike) I had the courage to attack bad odds, men who were for all I know armed. Because I chose to practice somafera, to learn to control it and bring it out at will that woman was safe. And even absent all the other reasons, that makes it all worth it.
And I'm hardly the only berserk I know who has so become a better person, able to do rare good for others, because of this practice. Many have joined the military, and have gone into combat to protect others. Why I know one berserker who, by himself, went into a mosh pit to take on a gang of skinheads that were using the pit as cover to seriously injure people they wanted hurt. He got rid of them, too. Hel, he later scared off a gang of men harassing a woman at a convenience store. We who practice the martial forms of somafera have found a use for them, even in this modern world. Peaceful as it is, it still has its dark, brutal, and violent sides.
But this is still not the end of it. Learning good control over the state allows it to be entered with a purely mental effort, rather than requiring elaborate ritualand/or pain. And once this is done the somaferan can learn to dip into that greatly heightened strength at will. (Within the usual physical limits, of course.) This is beneficial in all sorts of ways. For instance, I can always find a job, no matter how bad the economy, simply by demonstrating how much I can lift, or how hard I can work. I once badly needed to keep a job I had unloading trucks, and I had just broken my collarbone. But knowing how to dip into the gangr to enhance my strength allowed me to hide my injury at work, for all that the job included lifting and carrying 100-200 lb packages, even up ladders. That allowed me to eat and pay my bills. Had I not been able to do that I would have ended up starving and homeless. Furthermore, learning to selectively elevate (our term for the process of entering the gangr) just enough to increase the reflexes allows me, as it does other berserks, to become much better drivers. And here in Montana, in the winter, that can mean the difference between life and death.
But this is still not the end of it. The somaferan state increases inspiration. Only natural. The neurobiologists specifically describe the unitary state as an extended eureka moment. And the eureka moment is the moment of inspiration. I have often used entering a gangr to shake loose some needed inspiration for anything from writing to solving a physics problem. Just entering it seems to shake up my mind, and often a vision or knowledge of what to do will come to me. Others use it to gain artistic inspiration, and some use it to infuse their dancing. And as art and science have clear benefits, the somafera state has clear benefits by assisting them.
And lastly, but CERTAINLY not least, is the religious component of somafera. It VERY easily leads to a visionary state, and/or a possessionary-type experience. This is only natural, for it was to describe people having such experiences that the term unitary state was coined. This leads into the experience of every mystery religion ever: the direct contact with one's god or gods. Many somaferans practice no martial art, and few physical practices of any sort, and use the state exclusively as a manner of entering the divine presence, and the rapture and revelation that ensue. This too is sufficient reason for us practitioners to practice somafera. All of history is full of stories of people going to great lengths to contact the divine. For those who are so driven, this explanation is enough. For those not driven like this, no explanation of the value of this experience would suffice.
We who practice somafera practice because we have no choice but to. We cannot help it. We pursue these practices because it is the only way we know of to cope with the problems of our natures. But above all of this, we have found a great many other practical benefits as well. The real question to me seems to be, why would any born somaferan not practice it?
For those not born prone to entering this state, I really do recommend not pursuing these practices. They are difficult, and dangerous. I've known few who were not born to these practices who tried, and it went well for none of them. This path is not for most people. A lot of it is Not Fun. A lot of it can be dangerous, for some kinds of somafera. (Not all kinds are the same.) But also, just because these practices are not for you does not mean that they are not appropriate for everyone. We who cannot help entering this state have found much real benefit in it.
Disclaimer: The information and practices described in this site are the result of years of study and dedication to the understanding of the risks involved. These descriptions are provided for purposes of information only. Actually trying to practice anything described in this site would almost certainly lead to injury, perhaps even serious injury or death. We strongly advise against it.
All content © Wayland Skallagrimsson, 2013