I read a biography on someone from the Maasai tribe – an African tribe of nomadic cattle herders. As one of the few last nomadic people on Earth, their culture is an interesting insight into another time.
I’d be sceptical of what happened if it wasn’t a firsthand account.
The author described their coming-of-age ritual for men, which stuck with me – for a few obvious reasons, and a few less obvious ones.
They circumcise the men, but not at birth. It happens when they transition from boyhood to adulthood.
It involves them lying still – and when I say still, I mean completely motionless. Their eyes are open and they can’t even blink, let alone flinch. An elder splashes them with cow’s milk, which beads on their eyelashes. If their eyelids so much as flutter, the bead of milk drops into their eye.
Ten minutes, literally without moving a muscle.
That’s hard enough at the best of times. You can’t even do that while you sleep.
It gets even harder when the whole tribe is watching you get circumcised with a sharp rock.
No drugs of any kind, either.
Some folks would call this impossible. No one can keep their eyes open for ten minutes without blinking, let alone during surgery.
Call it a miracle, then.
And call it a repeatable one.
The hypnotist in me calls that the Esdaile state. One of the deepest states of hypnotic trance, your entire body freezes. You can see videos of people in this state online – and they’re worth showing to anyone stubbornly insisting hypnosis is somehow fake.
In the Esdaile state, people are so physically unresponsive that their pupils don’t dilate. Shine a torch in their eye and it doesn’t respond. They’re fully awake and aware of what’s happening, but their body is working under a different set of rules.
You can’t fake that.
If that sounds scary, maybe it is.
But I’ve been in the Esdaile state and it’s among the most blissful, cleansing and restorative things I’ve ever experienced. If I were in any way religious, I’d say I was never as close to God as I was in those moments.
Back to the Maasai, the Esdaile state explains what happens. They enter a hypnotic state of full body catalepsy and anesthesia.
What’s impressive is, as far as I can tell, the boys aren’t prepared for this. No one trains them on how to enter this state.
But they’ve seen their brothers and cousins do it so many times, they know what to expect.
Rituals are powerfully hypnotic. With the right setup, you can hypnotise someone without a word, a touch or even a glance.