A keynote lecture at the 2019 LAMPS conference.
The Psychedelic Renaissance has finally achieved a legitimacy within mainstream culture and at the same time issues are arising around the commercialization of these medicines and the commodification of the sacred. As venture capitalists invest in psychedelics, are these once revolutionary substances being tamed? Is this the only path we envisage as a community?
As Terence McKenna once wrote:
You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.
Scientists tell us that global warming has crossed a tipping point and as extreme weather and viral outbreaks wrack the globe, we seem to have reached a civilizational zenith. Can the full potential of psychedelics and etheogens reconnect us to nature and assist in lowering the egoic mind that has brought us to the point of planetary extinction? Can we create a new collective myth to steer us through these times?
1. What are Psychedelics?
“It’s Time To Admit: Drugs Won The War On Drugs” ran a recent post-election Forbes magazine headline, after several more US States legalized the use of recreational marijuana and psychedelics in therapeutic settings (and in Oregon for all personal possession).
While the normalization of psychedelics is welcome news, their integration into the marketplace and the extractive demands of capitalism have raised significant concerns over their commodification.
These substances have profound ego-dissolving properties that can reset the mind, body and soul of the user, connecting to something greater. Healing may result, almost as a by-product of the experience in its multi-dimensional entirety. And yet at the heart of that process is a thing often overlooked as an almost regrettable incidental to the scientific paradigm: a multi-dimensional universe leading all the way back to the Divine within.
When Humphrey Osmond coined the term “psychedelic” (“To fathom Hell or soar angelic, Just take a pinch of psychedelic”) back in the 1950s, he did so to differentiate from the cultural labels of the time, like “psychomimetic” or “hallucinogen”, which had negative mental health connotations. He understood that these experiences weren’t hallucinations – they were revelations. Osmond meant “psychedelics” to mean “mind revealing, or manifesting”, and even then, one must inquire what aspects of the mind he intended the term to encapsulate.
The Greek for Psyche is better translated as “soul” – but, presumably, 1950s academia couldn’t handle that – so translated it as “mind”. By the late 1970s when psychedelics were still stigmatized and under-capitalized, ethnobotanists rebranded these substances (especially the plant and fungi psychoactives) made by nature as “entheogens”, from the Greek, meaning to “invoke the Divine within”.
The term was also a tip of the hat to the indigenous peoples that continued to use plant-based psychoactives in ceremonial contexts for millennia, caretaking them and their relationship with the earth. Entheogens also pointed towards the historical possibilities of altered states at the heart of the world’s major religions.
For instance: the original gnostic Christianity has been examined by many writers through the lens of a mushroom cult (the most famous claims perhaps, were from John Allegro, a Dead Sea Scrolls researcher); the Hindus related their drug taking 5,000 years ago in their holy book, the Rig Veda: “We drank soma, we became immortal, we came to the light, we found gods”; the list goes on.
And yet, this is all a far cry from our modern era, where mainstream business sites now gush about the revolutionary potentials of microdosing psychedelics to boost corporate efficiency and optimization, or to provide a hip lifestyle hack for optimal mental health (just don’t macro your micro).
2. The Medicalization of Psychedelics
The return of psychedelics to the medical fold is a necessary one to combat the mental health crisis of the modern world. Unfortunately, psychedelics no longer seem to hold the utopian goal to transform the world, or at least our dysfunctional relationship with it.
This says more about us than it does about psychedelics, for if they are mind-manifesting, they simply bring out what we have inside already, whether that be trauma, greed, or enlightenment. It’s all set and setting, after all.
Yes, psychedelics have pronounced effects as anti-inflammatory agents and are natural mood-boosting anti-depressants, with few negative side effects (*may experience feelings of ego death, disassociation, awareness of your immortal nature, connection to and expression of divine intelligence and love; void where prohibited by law).
When used in conjunction with trained psychotherapy they can help heal and transform lives–if you have the private health care plan to afford it. The cost, for instance, of three MDMA treatments (two therapists, eight hours per session plus preparation and integration counselling) is estimated at US$ 15,000. No wonder the vulture capitalists are circling.
“Corporadelics” is the new term to describe the explosion of corporate venture capital into the realm of psychedelic medicines, which is estimated to be worth US $6.85 billion by 2027 for the treatment of depression and anxiety, according to Data Bridge Market Research. The danger is that, like cannabis before it, medical psychedelics will sell out to the capitalist profit model.
Compass Pathways, backed by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, amongst others, charges researchers US$7,000 per gram for its FDA-approved monopoly on synthetic psilocybin. Not only are the organic psychedelics outside patent, patented synthetic psychedelics are profitable: Compass recently became the first psychedelic drug company to go public on the US stock exchange, lifting its valuation to US $1 billion. All in the race to bring psilocybin–the humble, free growing and sacred magic mushroom of antiquity to the masses–at an astronomical mark-up.
But is this the way–the only way forward for psychedelics in global culture? Sure, there’s alternative pathways like Decriminalize Nature, which is successfully parlaying the turning tide of public option towards the decriminalization of psychedelics for adult recreational and spiritual use. But that accessibility also creates a marketplace of psychedelic consumers that will continue to fuel the engine of extractive capitalism.
Is this what our psychedelic elders, with all their color and exuberance and soul fought for? Make no mistake, I’m not calling for a rerun of the 1960s. Well, not exactly – although that same sense of commitment to the transformative vision of psychedelics is much needed. Using these allies not just to heal, but to expand, to grow, to change. Beyond the corporate psychedelic billionaires and the trickle-down promises of revolutionizing a crippled medical health system, what then? Are we finally ready for the next steps?
I applaud MAPS and other organizations like it that have fought in the trenches of a culture that once demonized these substances, and won a legitimacy for their medical use. It’s not psychedelics fault, or therapists, or legislators, if psychedelics become just another commodity that can be bought and sold in the capitalist marketplace.
It’s the nature of capitalism to extract value from the earth – and as many commentators are pointing out, colonialism runs deep, even in psychedelic culture. The current appropriation of indigenous medicines, ceremony and wisdom is an echo of the original Western empire’s subjugation and extermination of the shamanic cultures of the Old World hundreds of years ago, after all. And underneath this culture clash are two vastly different worldviews: one that sees a market to be exploited, the other a relationship to be explored.
3. The Mind Virus
Writers Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk published an illuminating article in 2016 describing the American Indian concept of Wetiko, a type of cannibalistic mind virus that is part of our separation from nature and is the driving force of capitalism eating away at the earth. To quote: “Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess, and selfish consumption … It deludes its host into believing that cannibalizing the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.
“Wetiko short-circuits the individual’s ability to see itself as an enmeshed and interdependent part of a balanced environment and raises the self-serving ego to supremacy. It is this false separation of self from nature that makes this cannibalism, rather than simple murder. It allows – indeed commands – the infected entity to consume far more than it needs in a blind, murderous daze of self-aggrandizement. Author Paul Levy, in an attempt to find language accessible for Western audiences, describes it as: “ ‘malignant egophrenia’ – the ego unchained from reason and limits, acting with the malevolent logic of the cancer cell.”
In this light one could say that the healing potential of psychedelics is in danger of being weaponized in the service of the Wetiko-driven, Western military-industrial-entertainment-information complex, that sees the subjugation of nature herself as a resource – and an inevitability. And beyond that, well, Elon has his sights on Mars, and then like a plague of locusts alighting into the solar system, if humans are carrying the Wetiko virus, then all will be seen as not just a resource – but as something still separate from us. We will still be alone in the cosmos.
And with the current global political arena turning decidedly Orwellian, can we really trust Big Brother to do the right thing, and only use medical psychedelics for good? Who decides what’s good? With the zeitgeist hungry for planetary revolution, are the powers that be now ready for psychedelic somas for the masses, mind-altering drugs that enforce social conditioning, as Aldous Huxley prophesized in his book, Brave New World?
4. Bonsai-Poodling the Infinite
It’s sad, because one of the key strengths of psychedelics is to reconnect us not just to our selves, but to the planet, and beyond it the web of life that continues on in all the infinite hyper-dimensions. The 1960s saw a wave of not just psychedelic altered states, but social justice, back to the earth, environmental awareness and a re-enchantment with the sacred that was at the heart of the transformation that threatened the establishment of the time.
And this is the danger, as my psychedelic mentor Col. Kurtz once coined, that ‘bonsai-poodling’ the full power of psychedelics is a mistake. Or more clearly, it’s an intentional channelling of their once revolutionary energy into a more digestible form for the dominant paradigm. That same Wetiko-thoughtform that has vampirically sucked almost all the resources from the earth and directly contributed to the Anthropocene: the era of human alteration of the biosphere itself, plunging us into a planetary crisis that is now fast dawning upon us. The ego separation wound made manifest.
So, let’s take stock: yes, psychedelics no longer threaten the establishment. Fifty years on from the Summer of Love, where perhaps the most iconic direct action was a Yippie inspired political march on the Pentagon, where Abbie Hoffman vowed to levitate the building in an early example of media branding, very few psychedelic people are challenging the establishment directly. Most are chasing venture capital money or are hustling a spot on the Top 100 Most Influential People in Psychedelics List.
So, when the establishment has realigned and reinvested in one facet of psychedelics – the power to lower the egoic mind, and in doing so to release the anxiety, traumas and sickness all bottled up from a kill or be killed competitive global battery farm of work, consume and die – it’s basically a management restructure program.
Our sick culture has reached an inflexion point where it will let these substances through the cultural blood-brain barrier because it knows it needs them. And then, the sick culture can continue. You can be a better CEO. You can perform better by microdosing at work. You can heal on the weekend, in a therapist’s office, and continue to shop and consume in a culture that is lost from its place in the cosmos, from the meaning of life.
Yet even corporate medical psychedelics have the potential to reveal more than the establishment may be prepared for. Just look at psilocybin. Psilocybin is the current darling of investment capital, which is ironic considering the magic of the mushroom was brought to awareness in the West in the 1950s by Gordon Wasson. Wasson was an investment banker for the Chase Manhattan bank and an amateur mycologist–but the gatekeeper of the knowledge was the revered Mexican curandera Maria Sabina.
She agreed about the healing power of the mushrooms: “The ninos santos (Psilocybe mexicana) heal. They lower fevers, cure colds, and give freedom from toothaches. They pull the evil spirits out of the body or free the spirit of the sick.” But she also said: “I take “Little-One-Who-Springs-Forth [sacred mushrooms] and I see God. I see him sprout from the earth. He grows and grows, as big as a tree, as a mountain. His face is placid, beautiful, serene as in the temples…”
Indeed, it appears hard to separate the mystical side of the psychedelic experience from the healing. Studies at UCLA found that psilocybin reduces anxiety in terminal cancer patients. Modern follow up studies to the infamous Good Friday experiment in 1962 with divinity students at Harvard showed that psilocybin also engenders mystical experiences and a sense of ‘oneness’, so much so that many of the original participants said it was still one of the most profound experiences of their lives, even decades later. So that reducing of anxiety in the cancer patients seems to connect to this sense of mystical oneness, i.e., it is the spiritual experience that also has physical results.
PhD Candidate Christopher Timmerman has been studying the effects of DMT in the brain with medical studies on human participants at Imperial College in London. He recently told VICE magazine:
“We have good evidence that [visionary] experience is a crucial factor for people to get better. But it’s also very valid to try to make sure why this is the case … It’s almost like its uncharted territory. Science hasn’t veered in the direction of phenomenology of experience. It’s like we have no language for it.”
But if science doesn’t have a language for this territory – which is culturally understood through many labels as the realm of the divine – then how is the market meant to, you know, market it? The market absorbs and prices in everything it encounters, yet one must wonder – has the modern capitalist-psychedelic-renaissance conveniently forgotten the deeper purpose of psychedelics?
5. A Deeper Connection
There are a few important layers to this, but let’s start with the bard: “The idea of someone going from birth to the grave without ever having a psychedelic experience is like someone going from the birth to the grave without ever having a sexual experience. It means you never really played in the game. You were a spectator, a silent witness. It means that you never figured out what it was all about,” said beloved psychedelic guru, Terence McKenna (dearly departed but readily available as a distributed-consciousness on the internet).
The same could be said of a life that has just microdosed psychedelics. And if the pharamceutical model gets its way, despite the health benefits – which are important and considerable – the true depth of the psychedelic experience could be pared back and kept in service of the insurance companies and the dominant establishment paradigm, which won’t change the paradigm itself. After all, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said the sage, Jiddi Krishnamurti.
Gail Highbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion would agree. In 2019 she told Breaking Convention, a UK psychedelics conference that: “The causes of [our] crisis are political, economic, legal and cultural systemic issues but underneath that are issues of human trauma, powerlessness, scarcity and separation. The system resides within us and the psychedelic medicines are opportunities to help us shift our consciousness. I don’t think we necessarily have time to wait for the science to tell us these medicines are useful. The indigenous cultures have already shown us the ways.”
Can psychedelics really help us, though, to get over our civilizational depression and inertia, not just individually, but collectively? If we can transcend the capitalist socio-economic blocks (a big “if”) and the pain body and trauma that system causes, then perhaps psychedelics can aid in a species reconnection to the planet. In a way that must be felt. Deeply.
One of the key attributes of psychedelics and entheogens, and perhaps the reason they are often approached with trepidation, is that they dissolve the ego.
A decade of recent psychedelic studies has shown that psychoactives reduce neural activity in what is called the Default Mode Network (DMN) regions of the brain, where our sense of incoming reality. identity and ego may reside. And when the normal ego mind reduces, we tune us into that mystic sense of oneness with all things, the full spectrum of reality which Aldous Huxley called the MIND at LARGE.
Now Huxley was also one of the first modern intellectuals to promulgate the idea that the function of the brain and the nervous system was as a filtering agent of consciousness. He argued the brain was not just a nodal point where thought originates from; rather he thought the brain was actually something which filters down the tsunami of overwhelming sensory information on all the different frequencies, to make it more palatable for down here on the baseline level.
If consciousness isn’t simply created from the ‘hardware’ of the brain itself, the inverse possibility is that it is received and filtered through some type of quantum-neuronal interface. And furthermore, it’s not just humans, obviously, which are consciousness – the broadcast signal is received by the base station of all living creatures in myriad forms in the web of life: animal, vegetable and mineral. As if we were all part of a larger parallel processing of that Mind at Large excreting itself into matter.
Humans, animals, plants–all the sentient species have different levels of consciousness that make up and transform the biosphere. Collectively we may act as an organic mesh network, a terrestrial-DNA-receiver for the consciousness signal, like a ‘species satellite dish’. Or to update the old analogy of the radio or TV set receiving a signal, what if the planet creates the hardware–each species, to host the software–consciousness, downloaded like a bit-torrent from Source itself?
And what happens then when plants and humans interface? Plants seem to have a distributed type of consciousness that is NETWORK-centric, not a hierarchy. What if those clever plants, themselves deep in their egoless meditative frequencies, connected to the broadcast signal, have been grooming us to come back to the garden, to balance with nature through their entheogenic brethren?
What if the ego-dissolving plant entheogens are teaching us by example how to tune into Gaian network of distributed consciousness… ?
6. The Natural World: Home
Isn’t this just where the resurgence of global shamanism and the popularity of entheogens like ayahuasca and psilocybin, is heading? A return, full circle? Entheogens give us a brief flash of the interconnected web of life, and in doing so they may be training us for that experience of full spectrum consciousness embedded in nature and connecting us back to the Source itself. Which is a long way from taking 5-MeO-DMT in a therapist’s office to help you stop smoking or get over your post-Covid work anxiety.
Why do these medicines work? We can look at the science, the changes in brain states and all the invaluable work being done by this generation of scientists to conclusively prove the healing potential of psychoactives. But that's still a reductionist model. For whether in the lab or the wild, once healed, what we are all re-connecting to, the thing which gives us ease and new perspective, is nature herself. Or more accurately, the spirit in nature herself. We are reconnecting to the great pool of spirit that creates and destroys, that shows us that death is not something to fear, but merely the next step in an eternal parade. We are finding ourselves again, and again, and we are bigger than we have been led to believe.
Now many trippers have described feeing this deeper connection to nature and the web of life. It’s a holistic perception comparable to the indigenous understanding of the world as a being comprised of intelligent, interdependent networks of energy and consciousness. It’s alive. And we’re part of it. All is One. And feeling that connection could be what it takes to shock us out of the capitalist death cult devouring the natural world and threatening us all with imminent extinction.
Dr. Sam Gandy has a PhD in ecological science and through his psychedelic research at Imperial College London has suggested that: “We are currently in a sixth mass extinction event of life on this planet, due to human actions on the biosphere. This ecological crisis appears to stem from a disconnection of humans from the natural world. Recent research has found that experience with psychedelic substances can increase feelings of connectedness, and nature connection in the long-term.”
Gandy goes on to say that: “Nature connection is correlated with a significant number of positive psychological health traits, and is the single strongest psychological predictor of pro-environmental behavior. This suggests that psychedelic usage may have significant benefits to offer at both the individual and societal level, by (re)connecting our increasingly disconnected species to the biosphere, and each other.”
Perhaps entheogens act as “catalysts of connection to the natural world” in the same way that a mother bonds with her child in a natural vaginal birth by releasing oxytocin. And when that natural bonding is interrupted you get a consciousness – and world out of balance. Or as Terence McKenna has said in the seminal Food of the Gods:
Nature might be an organism whose interconnected components act upon and communicate with one another through the release of chemical signals into the environment … the dynamic of the close relationship between primate and hallucinogenic plant is one of information transfer from one species to the other.
One possibility is that some of these compounds may be exo-pheremones.
“Exo-pheremones are chemical messengers that do not act among the members of a single species, but instead, act across species lines, so that an individual influences members of a different species. Some exo-pheremones act in way that allow a small group of individuals to affect a community or an entire biome.
“Where plant hallucinogens do not occur, such transfers of information take place with great slowness, but in the presence of hallucinogens a culture is quickly introduced to ever more novel information, sensory input and behavior and is thus bootstrapped to higher and higher states of self-reflection. I call this the encounter with the transcendent Other.”
Critics of this “ecodelic” potential (as Sam Gandy has coined it) like Rachel Peterson, an environmental consultant and writer, correctly point out that connecting to the “oneness of all things” won’t save the planet alone: “If psychedelic activists and researchers truly care about societal change, they must stop peddling crypto-libertarian narratives that privilege freewheeling individual experience over the need for collective organizing and sweeping, structural reform.”
As Peterson argues, it has to be a full system approach – the ecodelic capacity of psychedelics to heal trauma and connect deeply then has the potential to mobilize healed individuals into collectives beyond the binary stagnation of left-right politics, and to enact change through institutional systems.
Taking psychedelics in nature then, is just the first step to overturn the dominant capitalist paradigm destroying the planet: but it has to start somewhere, and in the heart is the best place of all.
So, without getting all 60s revolutionary here, I ask: what could we do to step into this ecodelic entrainment right now? Well, just imagine if all the global psychedelic integration groups, the Psychedelic Societies, the meet ups and the like, organized ongoing nature walks, microdosing – gasp – even macro dosing, on psychedelics? What if the integration specialists acted as guardians for the participants in strategic immersions back to the great green womb? To forest bathe, to awe, to re-enchant?
First one must feel the connection to nature, if one is to know what one is fighting and loving for. Tripping in the cities, in therapist’s offices with their patented hand-holding and proprietary blindfolds, is containment, not entrainment. How hard would it to be as small groups or friends, or these affinity groups, to do nothing more than return to nature together, with guidance, and to renew the sacred vows? That feels like a seedbed.
Now people will get all consternated and say well we’ve been fighting for academic and social legitimacy but listen: this is a walk in the woods. And there’s a reason to start this entrainment, because things are heating up, literally, in the world, and we need to find ourselves, not just individually but collectively. Where is our tribe, our people? I’m talking about getting back to nature in a safe and contained way and exploring your connection with where you come from. To be seekers of the Great Mystery, together.
7. Seekers of the Mystery
And this, I posit, is the next step for mainstreamers growing past the medical model of psychedelics. These substances, particularly when they come from nature versus the lab, the entheogens like ayahuasca, psilocybin, wachuma, iboga and the like, not only heal, they reconnect us to life itself, and the intelligence and loving presence behind all things. It’s why hundreds of thousands of us have gone back to nature in foreign countries where shamanism is still practiced, to be midwifed back into relationship with the Mother.
Yes, the resurgence of shamanism in West in the last few generations – inspired by McKenna’s lectures and books promoting DMT and ayahuasca – has seen a return to the jungles of the Amazon and other places of plant medicine abundance to rediscover anew a quasi-religious impulse and reinfuse it back into the New World Order.
This “global shamanic revival” has popularized entheogenic plants and has also created a culture clash and valid criticism of the colonial narrative repeating itself in the exploitation and use of indigenous medicines in a way that echoes back to previous resource booms.
And yet – if this inter-cultural transfer of information embedded in the plant medicines and the shamanic ceremony can be equitably balanced, we see a hope that the West’s perception of health, wellbeing, and reality itself can be transformed. The Wetiko virus can be shed.
Now the shamanic drive is usually considered to be outside the Western psychedelic pharmaceutical model – although many seekers may be primarily in search of healing with tools like madre ayahuasca. It must also be remembered that indigenous people have a different understanding of what sickness is.
In Peru, for example, native curanderos once told me that the West itself is sick because it is disconnected from nature and our deeper nature. They are one and the same. Our true sickness is that we have lost the way, the path of the heart that feels the love and connection radiating from and to all life.
For the indigenous cosmovision and the psychedelic experience it’s all about the same thing – relationship. True healing comes from connection, not separation. To open the mind, to connect to something bigger, to resacralize the relationship with the Goddess of nature and our place in the ‘family of things’, as poet Mary Oliver has said – this is true, soul medicine.
Entheogens remind us that the planet secretes mind-altering substances to emesh us back into a vegetal gnosis, invoking lost synaptic pathways bought online through interspecies neurogenesis, plants turning on people to the plan of the planet, to paraphrase McKenna, and then…
There’s also something deeper happening behind the wireframes of the physical reality.
8. You are an Explorer
These poetic sensibilities have been reined in by careful generations of above ground psychedelic researchers dealing with government and bureaucratic establishments appropriating the full spectrum potential of psychedelics for their medical/cultural grooves.
MDMA, psilocybin, even 5-MeO therapy may be like harnessing a nuclear reactor to light your Christmas lights on the Tree of Life. Sure, you can do that – but you do know there’s an infinitely larger application for these things, right?
Psychedelics are a tool that reflects–and manifests– the mind of the beholder. If you want medicine, it does it. If you want soul healing and bathing in the mycelial forests of the world soul, it does it. If you want to raise your vibration and galactivate the seed of God in yourself and every living being– see me after class 😉
These substances don’t just heal: they reconnect. As the Default Mode Network lowers, your consciousness is freed up from the base station to travel out into the infinite vibrational frequencies of full spectrum reality. A Terra Incognita–the Invisible Landscape–that poets and mystics, wizards, shamans and indigenous peoples have revered and feared, and said exists. A space that may or may not have its own indigenous life forms, or the spirits of the earthly departed, or the elemental forces of the earth with their own intelligence made manifest.
So, dear mom and dad that have read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind and think maybe it’s time to dabble in psychedelics, let’s go a bit deeper, shall we?
One toke over the DMT line and you may find yourself hurtling through DNA memory back to the beginning of time, to some far-flung interplanetary system where the voice of the mushroom connects you to in its galactic mycelial network, or to places unimaginable that we don’t have concepts, much less words for.
That’s right. Psychedelics crack open the head, and allow consciousness to mingle with the flora, fauna and fantastica of inner and outer space.
These aren’t just a salve for a shell-shocked human. They are rockets to “vast niagras of beauty,” as Terence once said, a portal to the alive and intelligent universe. We are not alone. We are explorers of the first–and last great frontier. And what we find there may redeem the last twelve thousand years of ego separation and abandonment from the rest of the universe.
Now I came into psychedelic culture in the 1990s. I met Terence when he visited Australia in 1997. He’s deeply influenced my own journey. And when I cast out to that early cyberspace of the mid 1990s it was to find the Others, to read their DMT trip reports and to piece together a map of hyperspace that used to be part of the duty and responsibility of those doing the exploration. It was part of our cultural integration of the fantastical to share these reports and ground the experience not just for us, but for culture as a whole.
So, kudos to the website DMT-Nexus, which has a forum that still curates such trip reports today, and has done synchronized experiments with DMT immersion, and has a rich lexicon for and map of the common landscapes revealed in these dimensions.
Modern trippers have long attempted to describe the psychic and often interior visionary phenomena psychedelics can reveal (journeying into alien geographies within and without, sometimes sharing perception and communication with discarnate entities. That’s what makes it all so freakin’ trippy in the first place–it’s hard to languagize or truly know whether these contact experiences are part of the small ‘us’ or larger ‘Us’.
One of the main catalysts for this interdimensional journeying is, of course, DMT or N,N–dimethyltryptamine. A chemical which first rose to fame back in the 1960s as a drug with the potential to thrust you into an alien hyperreal dimension of fractal-information-density communicating in intelligent pulsing rhythms some primal message just beyond the linear mind’s comprehension. It’s nicknamed “The Spirit Molecule” because the out-of-body immersion into unfolding hyper-dimensions often feels just like that: a translinguistic rebirth into a space that is simultaneously alien, intelligent, alive and autonomous.
The media root system of psychedelic culture is strewn with inter-dimensional DMT trip reports from bygone generations of explorers. And, since LAMPS has indulged me in an hour talk, I’m going to dip into just a few of these reports, anonymous unfortunately, as recorded on one of the original 90s websites, Seredipity, to see what useful data we can glean:
1) “Upon entering hyperspace I perceived myself falling through a tunnel in zero gravity at light speed then once again I penetrated a 'bubble/membrane' and was in what I refer to as 'The Dome' or 'The Control Panel', only this time instead of a percieved 'octopoid' redirecting my awareness to various structures there was this huge gelatinous-hexagonal-rubix-cube type machine that would reform itself into structures according to these progressive harmonic tones that permeated my reality causing various emotions to emerge; in addition it was redirecting my attention to various intersections of its restructured embodiment.
Each time my attention was pointed to one of these intersections/nodes a vision followed by a revelation would envelope me along with an emotion I can only describe as pure elation and awe. The only vision/revelation that I vividly remember was one of humanity's history. I recall seeing many people in positions of power from ancient civilizations from all around the globe. I could see a distinct spectrum of colors for each spirit that belonged to each of these kings/warriors/ thieves/martyrs/prophets and shamans.
I saw their entire lifespan from birth to death and then saw how each of these kings/warriors etc. subconsciously chose the exact moment they were going to die as well as how they died and as result of their choices their spirits were reborn into the bodies of the leaders/warriors/shamans of the next generation in order to continue their spiritual development where it left off in addition to being catalysts for events of novelty that were yet to unfold (i.e. some warriors reborn as leaders etc.) This process of reincarnation continued generation after generation up until the present day.”
So just imagine if this isn’t a hallucination in the brain. An extremely detailed, holographic exploration of time and the recycling of the human soul through the incarnate experience, guiding, shaping the organism of culture within space-time itself. I’m not asking you to believe this vision. I’m asking you as psychedelic explorers to dissect it. To apply our current epistemological and shamanic understandings to what the data mining of these experiences can represent.
This is what the infamous quote of Terence’s that helped name this talk is all about. It’s worth repeating:
You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.
The explosion of knowledge from the 1960s on has been building to a multi-disciplinary integration of systems theory understanding of the mechanisms of life, and even the purpose. When indigenous cultures would vision, they believed in their visions. They took solace from them, wisdom from them, and they adjusted course. Well, if these experiences aren’t hallucinations, if they are immersions into a deeper reality, it’s time we took the information they provide seriously. Sort the wheat from the chaff, but use it to springboard new ideas, new ways of thinking, join the dots, please. Our survival may depend on it.
Here’s another random, long, lost download from innerspace in the 1990s:
Purple fractals flowed through my view of perception. It was as if I was looking through a kaleidoscope and these visions became more and more beautiful as each moment passed. Soon I was greeted by three blue individuals, two seemed male-like and one was definitely a female. The female seemed to be the ‘leader’ of the crew; she was standing in front of the other two and was waving me towards her. She was not of this world but had a human-like body, however her head was triangular shaped — almost spade shaped actually — with one angle pointing northward and the other two angles due east and west. She wanted to show me something and was calling me to come closer.
I opened my eyes and discovered that my body was covered with objects that seemed to be exploring me. These were small machine-like forms that seemed to float just above the surface of my skin, never actually touching it. They reminded me of miniature robotic vacuum cleaners with scanning noses. Advanced mechanical objects, each attempting to report on a different region of my body. Amazingly enough, this did not frighten me in any way. I simply closed my eyes again and let these objects continue to explore me. However, when I shut my eyes, they were still there! They continued to shuffle about in my line of sight before eventually disappearing, only to be replaced with other visions. I have no idea what it all meant, but everything seemed to have purpose. I opened my eyes again and noticed that around seven minutes had passed since we took the DMT.
Within seconds I was shooting through a dimension that didn't involve the physical reality we now experience on Earth. Time, the way we experience it normally, seemed to stop, only to reveal a world of infinite knowledge and beauty. A place where the very fabric of life was flowing through everything. I remember my friend who had already experienced DMT had told me to remember that Everything is how it should be and to try and remind yourself to keep breathing and surrender to the experience.
Once fully immersed in this new world I was astonished to find out that I could communicate with other beings that also seemed to be sharing this experience. Although I had read about people like Terence McKenna seeing gnomes and machine elves as he put it, I experienced orb-like creatures who would come close and then come together in formations almost as if to try and tell me to do what they were doing. I kept saying 'Oh my god' over and over and was completely overwhelmed with infinite knowledge of how the world really was and that the love that was all around us always could bring so much power and manifest into anything we wanted. I also experienced visions of the sacred geometry that I am now finding out to exist everywhere. It is the fabric of these realities that we experience. It represents the perfection in all that we are.
And a final extract from yesteryear:
Zarkov's first vision was a stadium full of hostile giant insect creatures that he was familiar with from previous mushroom trips. However, immediately the DMT 'banshee' creatures floated in and sang this message, 'Aren't they a dull and pompous bunch! But don't worry, they can't get at you because we are here.' These 'banshee' creatures were a common occurrence in Zarkov's DMT trips.
The next series of visions were of various aliens that seemed to be trying to sell Zarkov various visions. The banshees continued to accompany the visions and offer comment. At about the chemical peak of the trip (one hour), the house had a rash of poltergeist phenomena that were jointly observed by both of us. Furthermore, the cats noticed them and followed them as they made their way through the house. The banshees advised Zarkov not to worry about them because 'things like this happen.' This was the last point in the trip where Zarkov could maintain contact with ordinary reality.
The banshees formed a gate next to an alien selling visions indicating that Zarkov should 'buy into' this vision. By 'going' through the gate, Zarkov found himself someplace else. This some place else was another world. It no longer seemed like a psychedelic vision, but rather it seemed like a real world. The sun felt warm; when it went down Zarkov felt cool. To move around it was necessary to walk. Wherever he looked, there was a realistic amount of detail. No insubstantial visions, just a real world wherever Zarkov looked. He could eat, walk, swim, fuck and talk to the other characters.
I dunno, but to me, and this is obviously Terence inspired, it feels like DMT is not just a neuro-transmitter but a portal to all space-time as one hyper object. We get glimpses of past, present and future. Of alien worlds, other life forms, architecture and machinery that we can’t quite grasp in our perception, but seems real. And what if it was?
What if the entire universe was one meta hyper-organism communicating with and regulating itself towards some final concresence? It’s basically what our High Priests of science are calling The Singularity, the convergence of all technologies and information into a unified whole hovering imminently in our near future.
It implies that there is not just a trajectory, but a culmination or Omega Point, that all the exo-pheremones, the sculpting of the species by Gaia over endless world ages and planets, all has a purpose. That these forms here and now are transitory, that we’re all part of something bigger that is running the show.
In this light, we could see the global shamanic resurgence as not just a lifestyle choice for wounded westerners, but as an evolutionary imperative. We are meant to reconnect with psychedelics.
They’re the training wheels for what’s coming.
10. The Archaic Rapture
Now it used to be a thing, before science discovered DMT had all these “promising treatment modalities in the therapy of various diseases, including autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions, infections, and cancer.” Exciting, yes, but I know what you’re thinking – are these health benefits simply by-products of a larger genetic imperative DMT plays in species evolution?
Terence once said: “DMT is a reliable method for crossing into a dimension that human beings have debated the existence of for 50,000 years. Is there an invisible nearby world inhabited by active intelligences with which human beings can communicate? You bet. And if you don't think so, then tell me you don't think so after you've smoked 75mg DMT. Otherwise, we just don't have anything to talk about.”
The plant medicine cultures of the old world showed us the way. In their cosmovision they believe in an archetypal shamanic universe with many worlds and beings, accessible through visionary plant sacraments like ayahuasca. This revered Amazonian brew contains DMT usually sourced from admixture plants like Psychotria viridis, also called chacruna, comes on orally and lasts for hours.
That short-term use of DMT shows an ability to maintain, optimize or regenerate the existing neural structure, or in larger psychedelic doses, to initiate a change in the Default Mode Network and “change channels” of reality. The long-term effects are not just unknown, but the big picture potential may be outside the medical model entirely.
The truth is, despite its ubiquity, neither science nor mystics definitely understand the role of DMT in consciousness in humans or throughout the animal and vegetal kingdoms. It is still a great mystery, or you could say, a doorway to the Great Mystery. And now that Great Mystery is being teased and shaped into the Western medical model, like putting a lion through a meat grinder.
DMT’s effects on neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are tantalizing, but remind one of the Indian parable about the blind men describing an elephant: all reach out and one has the tail, one the trunk, one a leg, etc. They all have a limited perception of the whole. Only when they put together all the parts can they truly understand what an elephant is like.
If we look at the experience of a full dose psychedelic DMT experience, there's often that information density, speed, the everything-at-once-ness and connection to an informational ecosystem that one feels on the cusp of making sense of. DMT feels like a lubricant, like it's protecting the brain structure, but it also has the potential to increase the dendrites and the synaptic pathways themselves like an evolutionary scaffolding, leading us into this new hyper-dimensional ecosystem.
The full potential of neurogenesis may be just that: new brain wiring that creates a new human for a new environment. DMT’s neuroprotective and neurogenic functions then would be the initial building blocks to function and process the data of living in that raging hyperspace.
Neurobioligist Andrew R. Gallimore explores this potential in his book Alien Information Theory, Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game. In it he argues that normal DMT floods the brain, peaking and fading within minutes.
But what if you brought someone into the space over an extended period of time? This long-term immersion could be conducted via IV drip carefully titrating someone into the DMT realms for hours or even days, and Gallimore has drawn up a proposal for just such an experiment with the help of Rick Strassman.
Gallimore suggests a kind of “rewiring effect” could result from longer DMT immersions, where the “DMT might actually cause the brain to resculpt itself beyond the initial psychedelic effect.” Long-term DMT immersion, he hypothesizes, “could actually allow the brain to adapt to and learn to construct the hyper-dimensional environment.“
For instance, Amazonian shamans who drink ayahuasca for many decades are anecdotally more receptive to the dimensional spaces the medicine can reveal even without the brew, both through their dietas and perhaps just this type of long-term synaptic pathway shaping by DMT.
Seen through this lens, the microdosing affect of DMT on the Sigma-1 receptor, promoting plasticity and neurogenesis, might actually be the somatic event horizon of the deeper purpose: to allow the brain to build a hyperdimensional information receiver – a gateway to higher dimensional space.
It wouldn’t be the first time. The brain has done this type of thing many times before – that’s why we’re here now, because the brain keeps building and extending itself to track and engage with higher dimensionality. And perhaps that’s DMT’s complete role: to lubricate the psyche into reality bootstrapping.
Aeons ago we came out of the ocean and went onto the land, and now there's another step, another space that we have to grasp: Innerspace. We have to grasp the dimensionality of this new space that the elders and ancestors of indigenous wisdom have been describing for so long. DMT could be the genesis not just of new brain cells, but of a whole new world and way of being. A world not mediated by priests or doctors, a world where everyone is connected back to the web, where everyone is their own shaman-aut of the interior.
Terence was one of the foremost proponents of this need for an "Archaic Revival" of culture. In 1989 he wrote: "Psychedelic shamans now constitute a worldwide and growing subculture of hyper-dimensional explorers, many of whom are scientifically sophisticated. A landscape is coming into focus, a region still glimpsed only dimly, but emerging, claiming the attention of rational discourse–and possibly threatening to confound it. We may yet remember how to behave, how to take our correct place in the connecting pattern, the seamless web of all things."
Thirty-plus years later, what I think is happening right under the covers of the mainstream adoption of psychedelics, is a critical mass of individuals are being initiated into the shamanic realms and a breadth of sacred awareness that might just turn the paradigm corner.
The ego dissolving psychedelic experience has been flickering on and off, kept alive by an unbroken circle of the ancestors, the indigenous people guardians of the plants and the knowledge. If it flickers on permanently, as they believe consciousness shifts in world ages have happened before, then–then, well, I guess the trippers shall inherit the earth… 😉
11. The End is the Beginning
Which all begs the question: Can these substances reconnect us to nature at a time when material-based consciousness has ecologically devastated the environment?
We can all sense that we face a great challenge in the world today. As the climate changes, economies, governments, and whole nation states are threatening to crumble around us. And the old ways we have governed ourselves with, the hierarchies of power and control that we have, war by war, crisis by crisis, given our power away to, no longer serve us as people.
And what are we left with then, in the end, but what nature first gave us? Our mind, our heart, and our ability to adapt.
At the root of so many of our current global problems lies a problem of consciousness. For too long have we been told to give over our intuition, to sacrifice our feelings, to suppress the pain we all feel around the way we live on this world, the way we treat each other, and the way we treat the planet herself, our mother. For too long we have been living in denial, or grief, or rage, and carrying the trauma of the sick world our consciousness has created.
It's almost as if we have some type of collective PTSD, a post traumatic stress disorder of the human species itself.
And at the height of our misery, is it any coincidence that these medicines, whether made in a lab, or from the very heart of the jungle, are being rediscovered? That the need would create the solution, which was under our noses all along?
Psychedelics and entheogens offer not just a way to heal our individual trauma, they hold a shining promise of reconnection to parts of ourselves buried so deep that it's taken thousands of years of working through this thing we call civilization to remember them at all.
So, as psychedelics are cautiously re-embraced back into the medical fold, can strategic immersion into multi-dimensional hyperspace help change the world? Can we use altered states as a form of psychedelic activism? Can we achieve Full Spectrum Consciousness in the face of the military-industrial-entertainment-information complex's subjugation of life as we know it?
Of course, we can. How can we not?
You are a brave explorer. And that which you seek is already within you.
- Legalization and commodification of psychedelics raise ethical and spiritual concerns, straying from their historical and soul-revealing roots.
- Psychedelics show medical promise but risk becoming commercial commodities, straying from their transformative and spiritual roots amid capitalist forces.
- The commodification of psychedelics risks aligning with 'Wetiko,' a concept denoting destructive greed, posing ethical dilemmas in a capitalist society.
- The commercialization of psychedelics risks diluting their transformative potential and aligns with a culture of egoic self-interest, overshadowing the holistic and spiritual benefits of these substances.
- Psychedelics have the capacity to profoundly shift human consciousness, not just for individual therapeutic benefits but for collective societal change. This involves not just mitigating mental health issues but also altering one's understanding of self, reality, and interconnectedness with the natural world.
- Psychedelics, particularly entheogens like ayahuasca and psilocybin, to heal both individual trauma and collective societal issues by fostering a deeper connection to nature and encouraging a shift in consciousness.
- The next evolution in the mainstream understanding of psychedelics is to move beyond the medical model and embrace their ability to reconnect us to the intrinsic intelligence and loving presence in life itself, facilitated through a "global shamanic revival."
- Psychedelics serve as gateways to a broader spectrum of consciousness, interconnectedness, and reality, deeply impacting individual and collective understanding of existence.
- Exploring the transformative potential of DMT experiences can aid in understanding human consciousness, reality, and the universe.
- DMT has transformative potential and mystery in neurogenesis, consciousness, and spiritual experiences.