In this piece I'm going to explore the phenomenon known as ascension symptoms. I want to look at it through the lens of weird naturalism and the interplay between trauma and highly strange or anomalous experience (like that known as the Ascension).

The simplest definition of trauma is any experience that happens too quickly and/or too intensely for a person to metabolize at the moment. People tend to think of trauma as accidents or abuse—and those are certainly traumatic. But so are things like lack of proper attunement in childhood or chronic stress. For our purposes here though another potential category of trauma would be spiritual or highly strange experiences. Those experiences lend themselves to being very rapid and intense in nature and therefore are prime territory for possible traumatization.

Trauma is an inevitable aspect of human existence. There are certainly gradations of it in terms of amount and brutality but every sentient being is somewhere along that spectrum (including animals). The difference is those who know how to re-regulate themselves after trauma and those who do not.

When trauma is left unhealed it leads to dysregulation of the nervous system. Over time a chronically dysregulated nervous system will manifest itself in all manner of seemingly unrelated physical ailments and symptoms: e.g. digestive disorders, sleep difficulties, “racing mind” syndrome, chronic fatigue, compromised immune response, etc.

These incidentally are precisely the kind of ailments named in the ascension symptoms literature which is the first key clue of what might actually be going on here. The intersection of trauma and highly strange or anomalous encounters is a field ripe for development. The trauma world has by and large not studied these experiences due to their non-ordinary nature and the alternative worlds of spiritual seekers do not typically have background in trauma work.

I’ve covered the relationship of trauma to other highly strange encounters previously, e.g. in the alien abduction phenomenon. This piece follows in that line. My contention is that what are commonly known as “ascension symptoms” are signs of the interaction between the highly strange nature of evolving cosmic energies (“The Ascension”) and dsyregulated traumatized nervous systems in spiritual seekers. The upshot of this lens is that it brings to light a radically different treatment plan than that typically offered in New Age discourse around this topic.

I’ve written a companion piece to this one exploring what to make of the whole notion of The Ascension from an ontologically flooded, weird naturalist lens. I’m not going to rehash that argument here other than to say that I think there is something going on with the whole notion of Ascension. Or rather there is a set of experiences that individuals are having that fall under that umbrella. I raised questions about the philosophical and spiritual biases inherent in the term Ascension, based on what I believe are outdated metaphysical views. I offered an alternative interpretation for these sets of experiences. That piece follows a similar approach that I’ve taken to other topics on the site like past life regressions as well as the UFO/Encounter phenomenon—incorporating and seeking to normalize the data in a different, more naturalist (and weirding) lens.

So what are ascension symptoms?

Here is a definition from site helpfully titled

Ascension involves the acceleration of vibrational energy and the expansion of awareness which creates a shift in consciousness. When a particular life system raises its vibrationary state from one energetic state of being/realm of existence, to another higher one, it is ascending…As one shifts in vibrational frequency, and as their awareness expands, symptoms are experienced on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Your system is rebooting, being 'tuned up' or upgraded. Old patterns begin to fall away as one starts to embody much more light and develops a more expanded awareness of who they are, and the collective reality that they are a part of…As one moves through the Ascension process there may be periods where the energy and symptoms become much more intense for several days or weeks at a time; then suddenly these symptoms may abruptly cease altogether for awhile, or symptoms may suddenly change or shift in intensity or frequency.

There’s a significant amount to unpack there.

Ascension is understood to be a process of raising one’s conscious energy.
As that transformation occurs there is a period of transition where older patterns may be releasing and newer ones are seeking to embed themselves into a person.
During that transition symptoms can show up indicating one’s energy is in flux. These are the ascension symptoms proper.

Also here from the Ascension Glossary:

During the Ascension process as we accrete frequency and light we may undergo a variety of ascension symptoms, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual-energetic. These transmutational symptoms can be extreme…Many of the ascension symptoms are vague to describe and inexpressible in linear thought and language. When people go to doctors, they are being told to take drugs or they are being instructed to seek professional psychological help.

The Ascension Glossary then goes onto list a series of symptoms that are reported as characteristic of ascension processes. These include things like:

headaches, extreme fatigue, sleeplessness, skin rashes, vertigo, nausea/digestive disorders, tingling in various parts of the body (usually extremities), irritability, spatial disorientation, anxiety/panic attacks.

Compare that to a list of symptoms from trauma.

The list overlaps pretty much perfectly.

Notice also phrases like the effects of ascension symptoms being extreme but also often vague to describe and not well understood by the conventional medical establishment. Trauma recognition has not (by and large) penetrated into mainstream medical institutions, hence the lack of understanding and proper diagnosis of trauma, whether of a highly strange nature or a more common type occurrence (e.g. concussions, fender benders, adverse childhood environment, etc.)

What the overlap between those two lists indicates is that the ascension symptoms are signs of an overtaxed human nervous system. That intensity may well be caused by an influx of spiritual and cosmic energies (Ascension) but the human body mind is registering and responding in the same way it would to chronic stress, abandonment, or threats to physical and psychological safety.

Here’s an article offering remedies for ascension symptoms (also this one).
Examples of such remedies are time in nature, extra rest, greater hydration, organic food (including smoothies!), warm baths, essential oils, crystals, meditation, etc.

There’s of course nothing wrong with taking a walk in the forest or eating a healthy meal. Those are good things. But the list of remedies are really processes to try to mask the symptomatic expression of this issue rather than deal with the underlying root cause.

In other words, the symptoms in question are not “ascension symptoms”, but rather trauma symptoms.

Trauma symptoms that may well be being activated—“triggered” in the original and correct meaning of the term—by spiritual process but which the spiritual process is not causing. What this mean is that the trauma is already latent and present. The ascension process (as it’s known) activates that latent trauma and it’s the dysregulated nervous system that manifests as the ascension symptoms.

The only true remedy then is not sleeping more and drinking more water (as nice as those are) but rather the process of learning to re-regulate one’s own nervous system. That actual deep medicine is nowhere mentioned in any of those ascension symptoms remedy lists. Learning to work somatically to regulate one’s own nervous system is not a practice taught in spiritual traditions, New Age or otherwise. New Age traditions generally and Ascension traditions specifically are significantly vulnerable to the disease of spiritual bypassing. In this context the spiritual bypassing is bypassing of the human nervous system and trauma.

Instead of dealing with the underlying dysregulation, all the proposed remedies are meant to mask or mollify symptoms. That approach continues to leave people fundamentally disempowered and at the mercy of further rounds of traumatic expression and the inevitable need for more crystals, baths, sleep, water, smoothies and whatever else.

One of the most important principles in nervous system regulation work is titration. Titration in chemistry refers to a process of neutralizing a highly acidic or basic substance by the introduction of small drops of it’s opposite, applied consistently over time. As applied to human nervous system work it refers to the ability to neutralize highly charged forms of dysregulated sensation and emotion in small amounts at a time, thereby not overtaxing the nervous system and leading to collapse.

Ascension symptoms are (I believe) the consequence of cosmic evolutionary energies streaming through a human body mind too quickly and too intensely, thereby triggering latent dysreuglation (trauma) in the person. The experience itself can also add it’s own traumatic overload to an already overtaxed system leading to more freeze and collapse.

If instead the person is able to slow down the experience (titration) then they would be able to assimilate the energies streaming in at a pace and rhythm congruent with their nervous system. Then there would be little to no “symptoms”, only the ascensionary process, whatever exactly that might ultimately be.