Tom and John,
I have nothing of direct experience to contribute. Shamanic and Ecstatic States activities have been practices that never seemed to let me beyond cracking open the door. Apparently as something to divert me rather than teach me. But I see a pattern that I think is really there. Let me refer you again to the work of Felicitas Goodman who founded Cuyamungue Institute http://www.cuyamungueinstitute.com/
Felicitas Goodman also had research associates in Germany and there is another web site associated with her work. http://www.felicitas-goodman-institut.d ... nglish.php
An internet search for Felicitas Goodman together with ecstatic trance will provide more links.
To describe too briefly the work of Felicitas Goodman, working with ecstatic trance and ritual postures, this fits well into the general shamanic pattern. Specifically she noted the appearance of small statuettes dating back to pre literate times from all around the world, multiple cultural in origin, that bore striking resemblances in groups. It was noted that these statuettes presented specific postures. Eventually, not clear in my memory of her books, these images were linked to ecstatic trance induced by drumming or rattling with the participants placing themselves in the postures presented in the images. It was found that the multiple participants in these ceremonies to induce ecstatic trances would have a similar class of experiences related to the specific posture. Or they might experience a sequence of experiences distributed among the group's members that could be put into order and recounted as an extended story or explanation of the purpose of the posture.
Basically, she described a group of widely distributed 'beliefs', with some approaching world wide, represented by the specific statuettes and the postures they specified. There was a resulting equivalence to the experiences of those entering trance states based upon maintaining the postures. This effect was so strong that after thousands of years, modern participants with no prior knowledge could pick up on an ancient practice. These postures were applicable for healing, for divination, for learning about rituals, for teaching and other shamanic purposes.
Now let me link this to something reported by Carlos Castaneda. He described the plant/man Mescalito who appeared to some participants in peyote culture in Mexico. Leaving aside the doubts of many regarding the reliability of Carlos Castaneda, Mescalito was described as appearing to those participating in much the same way. There was an apparent consistency from participant to participant. An agreement that Mescalito could, if he agreed, teach you 'the right way to live'. That Mescalito could be a guide to you in your life as a participant in peyote ritual. There are other consistencies reported, for instance by Michael Harner, among the reports of those experiencing other hallucinogenic drug states under shamanic dominated conditions.
I have long had the insight, rightly or wrongly, that this was an extension of or another aspect of guides for us here in PMR. Basically I have felt that there were individuated consciousnesses, or groups working together in NPMR, who took on the roles of appearing to their 'clients' as Mescalito, or grandfather bear (one of the ritual postures for healing) or any of the other known or unknown 'spirits' that are there to help our fellow PMR participants who participate in a tribal culture with a still active shamanic element. I think that if you read more fully into these reported cultural aspects, you would be more prepared to agree with my description. Not everyone's culture leads them into meditation and the kind of guidance that we might seek or the level of information that we seek.