In 2006, when freelance journalist Rak Razam smoked his first hit of 5-MeO-DMT, a powerful and similarly hallucinogenic cousin of DMT, he had it documented.
He had colleagues hold him down onto a chair, blindfolded himself to muffle out any extraneous sensory inputs, and by the five minute mark he was hooting and hollering as the chemicals transported him to, as he tells me, an ineffable spiritual ocean of white lights.
"You're like a drop rejoining the ocean, a sense of the unified feeling of being, of this sense of unconditional love," he told me over the phone, as I watched his body writhe and heard his speech switch from coherent conversation to something that sounds vaguely like a battle cry.
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"It was the most spiritual and sacred experience I've ever been through," he said. "It's something very intimate and very human, it's something we all have within us."
The footage above is an unedited portion of Razam's bigger documentary, Aya: Awakenings, in which he visits the Amazon to unravel the spiritualistic culture surrounding ayahuasca, DMT, and other shamanic substances for centuries.
But Razam's firsthand experience with 5-MeO-DMT, which lasts a similar amount of time compared to DMT (five to 20 minutes), was for research purposes. He's a part of the Terra Incognita Project, an NGO that's dedicated to studying the state of altered consciousness brought on by 5-MeO in Mexico, where the drug, derived from toads, is popular in shamanic rituals. He's joined by Juan Acosta-Urquidi, one of the colleagues shown in the video who helped administer the 5-MeO. Acosta-Urquidi's main research deals in measuring brain patterns as subjects enter these different states of consciousness. You can see him discussing his results here:
The use of these psychedelic substances has been untouched by the world outside South America for a long time, but interest has been growing within the past few years as access expanded thanks in part to the darknet, growing celebrity approval, and increasing acceptance as it gained a reputation for unravelling people in a deeply spiritual sense.
Ayahuasca in particular has been used in divorce ceremonies, power psychosomatic self-therapy, and restructure how we even think about about family relationships.
And with DMT research recently gaining traction in the sciences, who knows what the next trip will bring.