A hypnotic exploration of Christmas as a modern shamanic tradition.


I’m dreaming of a psychic Christmas, as are the gnomes I used to know…

Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2020. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Christmas is a time when the world seems to stop. Shopping reaches a crescendo, politics and traffic slow to a crawl, people shift into a default mode, slipping into neutral. It’s an opportunity.

You can “get off” on anything or nothing. You don’t need a drug to enter an altered reality, as I try to tell people, but few understand. Few of us have learned to control our reality. But it isn’t hard. I take many of my hypnotherapy clients on a trip that’s as meaningful as one that’s substance-induced. Just because it’s not as crazy doesn’t mean it’s not as important.

There is nothing Christian about the original Christmas. “Christ Mass” is an obvious gloss, a graffiti, a theft. Sweep that away to reach the real intention. Go where you were traditionally supposed to go. Make something of Christmas.

It’s a time for connection. A time of the solar year when the world is in the deepest suspension and the veil between worlds is thin. Traditionally, people congregated, shared space, and raised a psychic energy.

Christmas is not over-commercialized; it’s commercialized to just to the point where there is nothing but commercialism. It burns us up with commercialism and launches us beyond. Christmas has evolved to take us to the limits of materialism and, in that way, drop us at the frontier of what’s meaningful. Materialism is the inebriant.

Everything about Christmas is shamanic; it’s a modern shamanic tradition. Gathering is essential. The family is the basic human unit, not the individual or the community.Are you planning a trip over the holidays? The holidays are a trip. Everything is a trip. Everything you do or think is done from some state of mind, and all states exist in your imagination. The holidays set you free. Your foot is on the gas. Why not floor it?

I’ve written the following piece to help you get “in the spirit” of a shamanic Christmas. It’s a story and a journey and an ascent up the chimney. It starts in this world and visits another. Its purpose is to redefine Santa Claus as someone worth believing in.

Psychic Santa

Psychic Santa is a self-hypnotic induction designed to disengage your identity and consider alternatives. You can read it, but you can’t drop your thinking mind while your mind is thinking. To do that, you need to have it read to you.

If you’re in a safe position where you fall asleep without endangering yourself or others, then click the button below to listen to Psychic Santa. Do not listen to this if you are driving a car, operating machinery, or doing anything that requires your attention.

The Text

Find a comfortable place that’s quiet and peaceful. Invite to form around yourself a calm and balanced atmosphere. Ask the air you’re breathing, the light around you, and the earth below to generate a sense of sound that you hear between your ears. It’s a layered sound of both high and low pitches. The high sound is always resonating in your temples, and the low sound is always vibrating in your feet.

Feel your weight against the chair or couch you sit on. Feel the force of gravity on your underside the absence of it above you. Everything you sit on, stand on, or sleep on holds you in a neutral balance between the ground below and the sky above.

Invite the room you’re in to join you in feeling between worlds. All the things in it rest their undersides on the floor, and are open above to the air, space, and ultimately the sky. Imagine gravity turned off and let yourself float, and all the furniture floats, and objects shift as they’re no longer held down.

Take a breath. Inhale slowly, arriving at the turning of the breath. Your breath turns like a shooting star and then it’s gone. Exhale.

Close your eyes and step down into your childhood. Step back to the earliest Christmas you can remember or imagine. Go back to the feeling that you perceived as a child, the authentic perception before you became addicted to identity, achievement, money, and things.

If you’re older, then step back through decades. Ten years back, like opening a photo album. Now twenty years back. What happened to you then? And yet another ten years back, and then another.

Back to your clear-sighted youth and that recollection of Christmas as a mysterious time. Back to times that seemed unlimited. Family events: congregations, separations, and commitments. School events: graduations, studies, and examinations.

You’re in your youth now. The early teens: independence, defining yourself, not knowing who to believe. The ‘tweens, and before that, at home. You were limited to walking, bus, or bicycle; often bored; waiting around for something to happen.

Take a breath. Inhale… exhale. Remember the earth and the air. Remember the room and the furniture. The lightness above you and the earth below you, pulling you toward itself. Settle down, settle back. Your eyes are closed, your mind is quiet, and your heart is calm.

Go back further to when you didn’t know what to make of anything. You could make sense, but things didn’t make sense. Grownups didn’t make sense. Their schedules didn’t make sense. What they focused on didn’t feel important. They didn’t do anything important. They didn’t spend time to understand you.

You had some special people who moved at the same speed you did. People you didn’t have to explain yourself to, and to whom you didn’t have to explain yourself in order to be understood. Feel that now, like you’re with someone who understands. Like you don’t have to talk to be heard. You don’t have to listen to know. You just know. You just feel.

Imagine what Christmas was then, long ago, as you can feel it around you. When everyone is preparing and you can see them, like birds building nests and decorations. People preparing in their minds for a mass opening, exposing, invitation, exaltation, outgoing and inebriated with spirit and spirits.

It’s an old Christmas when you were little. When it was a big thing. The big event when everyone came home. People asked you what you wanted, as if they were going to give it to you. And you knew what you wanted. It’s what you always wanted, not just in a box. They wanted you to make it real, to make it into a material thing, and you went along with it.

Let your mind’s eye rove down the streets of Christmas lights, and the music in the background, incongruous in its endlessness, clashing like symbols, and signs, and Christmas colors, the red of the fire and green of growth. What kind of growth now, at the darkest time, when it’s only getting colder?

Close your eyes again and let those images disappear, fading into nighttime. A deep felt black with a warmth in the center, in front of you.

You’re looking into a fire, or you imagine you’re looking into a fire. The fire is red, and you can feel the heat. A small fire, there are some flames, there are some coals, there is heat from the stones and you feel it on your face and through your clothes. Sink into the fire, into the blue gases, into the red and blackened coals.

This story of Santa Claus is something deeper. It’s about care, and safety, and the future. It’s about connection and growing up; something different than the idea of what you’re going to be but rather who you are and if you understand. And you know this is all an idea and the idea is real even if the language is strange.

And that image of Santa Claus is the same as the person who knows you without speaking. Someone who understands you without having to explain. It’s more fathering than mothering, more about preparing you for the future than about protecting you.

Go down deeper into the flames. Into the heat. Into the coals. Feel the air that sweeps in from below and is caught in the flames. This air becomes the flame, it makes the heat, it fuels the fire. As it burns it becomes smoke. It is thrown up, spills up, dancing above each flame tip.

And up you go with it. Up with the heat of the fire, the smoke of the fire, up and out of the seated and sitting world. Up and air-like above the heads and out of sight. Into the sky or into the chimney, through the flu and passage, through the choke and soot and dust to spill out into the sky.

There is part of you that’s stayed behind. The solid part, the inert and unseeing part. You are with the air, with the heat, with the energy and change. From cold wood, hard coal, and dull wax emerges heat, a change that leaves dust behind.

You are this change, and you are sky, and space. As the air cools and spreads and mixes in the winter sky you keep going, because you are not just air or heat, but the energy in it. And you see the world as energy. You are star energy; a field of awareness without mass or form.

There are others like you, also formless and speechless but with sight and hearing. Aware of earth below and space above. Take a breath and go deeper.

Your body breathes and your awareness opens up. Your body is connected to substance and your awareness is of the ether. You can understand without thinking, and be understood without speaking. Space and frequency. Resonance in collection, resonance together, coherence, synchrony, harmony, and melody.

You are a sound, a tune. You are a hum, a frequency of your own, different like a snowflake. Like others only to those who cannot see. You are part of the snow storm, the flakes growing out of vapor, condensing into crystals. A disturbance in the atmosphere, swirling and tumultuous.

You have permission to feel deeply as nothing can disturb you. You are only feeling and all kinds of feelings. They are energies and you can experience them passing through. They are experiences forged in lifetimes, and they pass like stories leaving order behind.

It all settles down. Down over the rooftops. Down over the streets and gables. Down over the trees, lawns, hillsides, and forests. From the fire, to the gas, to the smoke, to the air, to the snowflake.

Through this the energy of the old red man flies and flows, everywhere and anywhere while the winter is deepest and the night is longest. Flying through the air, over snows and settlements. The power of nature, of your nature, drawn by nature, emissary of nature into the minds and hearts of people. People who’ve forgotten what it’s like to know without explanation, and to be heard without speaking.

The gift is what was there before and what endures always. The objects are only symbols for those who can’t see the energy. You can see the energy. You can see the energy of the red fire, the energy of the red man among the white stars. The energy of the moon.

The red is the after image, the white spots are the moon and stars, the black boots and sledge are space, and the bells are inside you. You can hear them always if you listen. You can hear them better when everyone listens together.

Quiet yourself. Settle those around you and well beyond you. They are birds that chatter just to feel the company, just for the comfort of the noise. And you know the comfort of noise. The comfort of talk. The comfort of things.

These are just symbols. Symbols of the presence of others, the gravity of substance, and the reminder of energy for those who still remember.

You remember. It’s what you started with. It fades over time, and it’s faded over your time. As you get older and start to have a looser grip on substance. You feel the call back toward energy, back toward being in yourself and living in relationship.

You’re heading toward getting older, toward becoming older, to having a wider past and less material future. You’re heading toward the sky and the snow and the energy. To appreciate the thinning veil between substance and essence, between things and meanings. The veil between what’s fat, big, red and knowing, and what’s vaporous, flying, and eternal.

It’s the time between these worlds and you can step over the gap. You can go to the other side of Santa Claus and become the energy of its origin. Perpetual energy, cycling through earth and air, energy and alerity.

You’re nothing now and nowhere, but also everywhere and part of the cycle of everything. Disease is like a fire, and death is like smoke. Birth is like snowflakes settling to the ground. Health is like the seasons that cycle with the energies coming together and then moving apart.

Let images come to you. The old images when you were young, when time and space were large. The young images as you are older, when time was short and space was just the distance to a destination. Years were long then, and so sparse and large that from their beginning you couldn’t see their end.

Years are the sun’s cycle, our life’s metronome. We count our birthdays with the sun, ticking off each Christmas. As we grow, our symbols shift, and meanings change, and you are expected to change with them.

Don’t keep still; don’t stay unchanged. The energy of youth is not perpetual immaturity. You want vitality. Christmas has vitality and Santa Claus is a test. Did you know what Christmas was for you then, what it meant? Santa does exist, and always did, inside you.

It is the spirit of empathy, connection, and understanding. The gifts are not toys but the gift of growing up without losing childhood. A magic mixing of exuberance, fresh air, soot, and dirt.

You’re only asked to offer support and sustenance. To feed that Pan-like figure, but not Pan the goat of conception, but a fat figure of gestation. Not birth, as it’s too soon and that comes later. More like the egg, a thing of protection and containment, judgement, awareness, and responsibility.

Christmas is a ceremony of innocence and a test of its endurance. It questions your recognition of a future that requires feelings, community, and concern. The presents are a sacrifice, just like the food. It’s not the giving that’s important, it’s their receipt. They must sustain the connection. They are containers of virtue, but there first must be virtue in them.

Let all the material things go. Christmas is something beyond material. It’s all symbols and ceremony, far from being reasonable. Leave what’s reasonable behind.

Imagine a tornado, a swirling funnel of smoke and dust, wrapping papers, peppermints, turkey dinners, and bedroom slippers. The tornado will vacuum it all up, along with that sappy music and thin engagements.

The tornado will come later, to tear away the sheaths of buds, to prepare for the birth of virtues that spring from your intentions, but that is not here yet. First, root Christmas’s intentions in your mind, below your mind, into your subconscious, settling like snow, and passing a current into the ground.

You are part of that ground. The current runs through you. You don’t have to do anything, just relax into it. Your intention rearranges your genetics, organizing molecules and aligning iron filings.

It will end with a snap, a sudden shock. To be over with a bang. An explosion of being over that leaves the landscape changed. The residuum floats down like confetti, burst balloons, and the shards of Christmas cards.

Everything is normal again. Regular as before. The struggles resume. The wars recommence along with recriminations and all the finger pointing. Where are you in it all?

Is it just a holiday interlude that’s weak, childish, and ephemeral? Where does the empathy and sense of family go? Will it dissipate like the warmth of a gone-out fire?

Take a breath. Inhale… exhale. Counting to five as you ascend like a bubble from the bottom of the lake.

Being released on the count of one, silvery and undulating.

   Two. Rising, streaming upwards.

   Three. Back toward presence at the surface.

   Four. Normal thinking, right behavior.

And five. Popping to the surface, erupting back to wakefulness.

** Snap ! **

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