Protestant, Catholic and New Age Artifacts Induce Hypnotism
There are many ways to enter a hypnotic state of consciousness. We call them methods of induction. There is arm levitation, progressive relaxation, handshake method, amnesia technique, shock technique, etc. One of the more traditional methods requires the subject to gaze upon an artifact of some sort. It could be a watch suspended as a pendulum. The principles are the same whether we are speaking of street hypnosis, golf hypnosis, smoking cessation or covert hypnosis. Or it could be a religious artifact such as a cross. We see this symbolism employed in many vampire films, wherein the cross is worn or held up as a barrier against evil. In films about Voodoo, the gris gris is produced to place a curse on an enemy. A Voodoo doll is an effigy of an enemy; thus the sticking of pins into the doll to produce torture or death at a distance. These are all religious artifacts carried to an extreme. We find these in abundance in religious book stores, whether Catholic, Protestant, or New Age.
While Protestant based bookstores will carry many versions of the Bible and many texts explaining the Bible, Catholic Book stores will also carry holy pictures, rosaries, crucifixes, kits for Extreme Unction, and Holy pictures. Some scholars think that Protestantism is influenced more by Plato, who mapped more of an abstract description of reality and that Catholicism is influenced more by Aristotle who accepted the senses and the concrete manifestation of reality. Both use the cross as a symbol of God. For the Christian, the cross evokes an attitude and reverence of emotion, a recall of Christ's dying to redeem mankind, so it carries a range of predictable responses. For the Catholic, the cross may be attached to a Rosary which has an intricate history. Or the Catholic may wear the medal of the Immaculate Conception. All of these artifacts may have been blessed by a priest or even by the Pope. These layered rituals add to the evocative power of the artifact. But the power of the artifact depends on the faith of the recipient. But what is faith?
Religious Artifacts Induce Hypnotism
Instead of trying to find rational reasons for what appears to be irrational choice, it may be more fruitful to listen to William James. In his Varieties of Religious Experience, James catalogs types of religious experiences. Some of these experiences are classified as healthy minded and some are classified as sick minded. To James, it is an experiential matter. Reason has little to do with it. There is no Divine privilege. One chooses on the basis of past experiences and how these experiences impact world view. To James, the criterion of a good religious belief is one that will get one through hard times. It is a belief system that is like a raft, on which one can get on board when all else is disintegrating. So, for James, religious belief is a personal matter and it has social and psychological efficacy. One looks at life goals and then selects beliefs that move one toward those life goals.
If faith is belief without proof, then what difference does it make what one believes. Aside from personal preference; all beliefs have one thing in common: they are without proof, without evidence. Belief is an open field. Humans have professed belief in sea monsters and devils, in life after death and extinction, in unicorns and angels. So what causes one to select one form of belief over another? If I profess to a literal belief in Biblical stories; how is this belief system different from asserting that the Quran or Bhavagita? What is the basis of selection of one religion over another? Why is the selection not random? A mere toss of a coin? Well, believers will often say that their faith is a gift from God...that one cannot give themselves faith; one cannot earn faith. Very well, but if this is the case then all religious beliefs can assert the same...even contradicting God given articles of faith proclaimed by other religions. How can one select one set of religious beliefs over another? What are the criteria of their selection? Faith, reason or a combination of the two? Could it be that covert hypnosis holds the key to understanding what we usually take for granted, the hypnotic power of the religious artifact?
Thomas Aquinas claimed that reason would take us to great heights, but that to go beyond the limits of reason, faith must enter. Christians have the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through the church, giving counsel and direction in matters of faith. Duns Scotus thought that faith and reason were like parallel lines that never crossed and Augustine maintained that faith and reason interpenetrated like entangled vines, not subject to separation. Yet all these layouts for faith and reason avoid answering how one must go about making a selection of one pattern over another. If the believer says that faith is given, that it is not up to us...that God ordains who will become faith driven. If this is the case, then everyone is right and everyone is wrong, for massive contradiction is implicit in such a schema. And, if a Diety is the agency behind the random selections of belief, then the Diety contradicts itself. But whichever path one chooses, there remains the response to religious artifacts, to the imagery, the traditions, the shapes and forms of consciousness and its manifestation in the physical realm...the cross, the rosary, the holy picture.
Artifact Quality Shapes Hypnotic Power
We start with a simple cross made of plastic, the manufacturer 's name emblazoned on the backside of the artifact. Compare the hypnotic power of this crude icon to that of a cross carved out of a single block of wood by a monk who is a master craftsman. Add to this that the fact that the wooden cross has been blessed by the Pope. For the practicing Catholic the second cross is taken seriously, the care invested in it by the artist is evident and appreciated. The blessing is honored. All these symbolic layers work in harmony. And if we extend the metaphoric power, let us assume that there are some artifacts that are made out of gold and are encrusted with precious stones. Here we have a wedding of art, commercial value, and religious symbolism, integrated. For the believer and some who are not believers, the religious artifact elicits a hypnotic state as surely as any hand technique used to induce hypnosis.
In your search for applications of hypnosis, please be aware that variations of the same process are indicated by changing word order and through the substitution on nouns and noun phrases or verbs and verb phrases. The basic process of induction is that of creating the conditions for altered states of consciousness that may result in: hypnosis tapes, insomnia hypnosis, erotic hypnosis, stop smoking hypnosis, hypnosis to stop smoking, smoking cessation and quit smoking hypnosis