Trance Formation: The Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Global Rave Culture

Winter 2005 Vol. 15, No. 3 MAPS Final Year as a Teenager

Download this article.

Over the course of nearly two decades, the rave scene has evolved into much more than simply an electronic dance music party. For thousands of people around the world, it has become an important source of spirituality and the closest thing they have to a religion. Trance Formation is the first book to comprehensively explore the spiritual and religious dimensions of global rave culture. Robin Sylvan combines colorful firsthand accounts, extensive interviews with ravers, and cutting edge scholarly analysis to paint a compelling portrait of global rave culture as an important new religious and spiritual phenomenon that also serves as a template for mapping the future evolution of new forms of religion and spirituality in the twenty-first century.

Trance Formation is an ethnographically rich look into the spiritual dimensions of rave culture from a theoretically informed religious studies perspective. Robin Sylvan takes the reader on a colorful journey from San Francisco to London, from Burning Man to the Love Parade, and reveals a synaesthetic spiritual world of sound, sight, motion, and deep trance. As religious studies converges on a new understanding of emerging forms of spirituality, Trance Formation will be welcomed by scholars and students, music-lovers and trance-dancers, spiritual seekers and fans of cutting edge culture, as well as the ravers about whom this book is written.

“Millions of people on every continent of planet Earth, regularly coming together in ecstatic trance-dance celebrations held and energized by pulsing electronic beats, are having the deepest spiritual experience of their lives. In this thoroughly fascinating study, religious scholar Robin Sylvan makes a convincing case for regarding the global rave culture as an authentic expression of a unifying spiritual vision that integrates across all languages, religions and nationalities. Reading this book, as well as going to a rave, will leave you inspired and hopeful for our sadly fractured world.”—Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., co-author of The Psychedelic Experience and author of The Unfolding Self.

Robin Sylvan, Ph.D., is the founder and director of The Sacred Center, a spiritually-oriented educational organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught in both mainstream academic and alternative experiential contexts. He is the author of Traces of the Spirit: The Religious Dimensions of Popular Music, and has been a music aficionado and spiritual seeker for most of his life.

Trance Formation is $85.00, available online at (or from