Yeah, is the sound comfortable for everyone? Is the light comfortable for everyone? And are you comfortable? Well, you shouldn’t be—the planet’s going to shit in a handbag. No, I’m—that’s just my John Lilly imitation, it’s not me at all. Most of you were probably at the talk I gave yesterday. Is that basically safe to assume? Yes. So I thought today I would talk a little bit, and then I think these things are much more interesting for me if they’re interactive. And people bring all kinds of agendas to these things, and I don’t know whether people wanna talk philosophy or recipes. I don’t know whether they wanna talk politics or, you know, share experiences.
In order to make sure we all understand the domain we’re operating from here, I would like to talk a little about what it’s like to be loaded, because I think that’s the ground zero of what we’re talking about. Psychedelics are like any other social phenomena: there are a lot of wannabes, there are a lot of people who are along for the ride. I’m sure the pagan community is no stranger to this phenomenon, because there are certain residual spin-offs if you proclaim yourself pagan, but are hard to obtain any other way. Similarly for being psychedelic. My notion of the psychedelic cosmogony—if you want to think of it that way—is: it’s like a bullseye. It’s like a series of concentric circles. And various substances place you in various quadrants of that mandala at various distances from ground zero, which is at the absolute center. And nature, in her bounty, has provided various coordination points. I mean, there’s the cannabis coordination point, the opiate coordination point, the tropanes that were so important in European witchcraft, the solanaceous plants—hyoscyamine, those things. That’s a different chemical family and a different group of plant families that these compounds occur in.
I’ve been at this fairly steadily since 1964 and have tried to do everything with a certain level of attention and reverence, because I think that it’s all very fine to go armed with the knowledge of pharmacology, dose response, LD50 and all that, but I think as pagans and magicians we really understand that the mind can do anything. And there’s a horribly frightening little passage in Jung somewhere, where he says, “The unconscious has a thousand ways to terminate a life that has become meaningless,” meaning: you’ll step in front of a streetcar or something. So in my lifetime of looking at these things and being interested in many other things as well—heresies, obscure backwaters of art history and literature, peculiar philosophies that rose and fell centuries ago in obscure parts of the world—my theory of life’s exploration is to run edges. And I’ve mellowed over the years, but I used to say if a book isn’t a hundred years old you shouldn’t read it, if a person isn’t dead you shouldn’t worry about them, if they wrote in English you shouldn’t bother with them. So forth and so on.
In the course of sorting out as many peculiar and bizarre possibilities as life could offer me in many places my attitude was always critical. My attitude was always a ‘show me’ attitude. I don’t believe in faith. I don’t believe in belief. My favorite Gospel story is the story of the apostle Thomas, who was not present when Christ came the first time after the resurrection to the upper room. And then later Thomas came to the apostles and they said, “The master has been here,” and he said, “You guys have been smoking too much of that red leb.” And then Christ came again. But in this conversation with the apostles, Thomas said, “Uunless I put my hand into the wound, I will not believe it.” And then time passed, and then Christ came again to the upper room. And he said, “Thomas, come forward. Put your hand into the wound.” And he did, and then he said, “Lord, I am not worthy,” so forth and so on. My conclusion about this story is that, alone, among all humanity and all times and places, only one person ever touched the incorporeal body of God. Thomas the doubter touched because he doubted. It was not necessary that the believers should be vouchsafed such a boon, but the doubter was awarded the supreme enlightenment.
Okay, so much for that. So, my thing has always been—whether you present me with a diet, a social arrangement, a society, a sexual conundrum, a work of art—my criteria is: is it shit or is it shinola? And I’m happy to give you the benefit of my personal life’s experience preceding along those lines. I want to talk about what, to my mind, is the quintessential hallucinogen, and consequently the quintessential spiritual and magical tool of this dimension. And that is DMT: dimethyltryptamine, a compound that occurs in the human nervous system, it occurs in many, many plants, it the commonest hallucinogen in all of nature. And I don’t know how you got to where you are this afternoon, but they way I got here is by testing and by hoping and by pursuing a magical (if that’s the word), a miraculous, atranscendental ideal that, over the course of life, experience strips from you. You know, you have to get a job, your first love is not your last love. Slowly, this pristine shining belief in perfectability is eroded by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—you know, the dark oxen that turn the millstones of the world.
But I’m here to tell you that it is real. There is a doorway into another dimension. Aladdin’s lamp is real. Fairyland is real. Magic is real in the most real sense! In the same sense that what we call reality is real. And I learned this through this compound. And one of the great puzzles about this compound is why more people don’t know about it. No brotherhood initiated me. No lineage reaching back to the fall of Atlantis brought me into its circle. Therefore, I feel completely free to say anything I want. Nobody has ever come to me and said, “You are spilling the beans. You are telling the secret.” A long, long time ago—and, you know, we all have different opinions; this is mine; I hope it doesn’t offend—but a long, long time ago I took an oath to tell all secrets that came my way. Don’t tell me a secret! I won’t keep it. I’m against secrets. I’m against hierarchies, lineages, all assumption of special knowledge on the part of anyone in the presence of anyone else is abhorrent to me. I mean, I am a true anarchist first and foremost.
So DMT, like all things in this world, has a physical body: a presence and a presentation. In this case it looks rather like earwax. It is orange, it is crystalline, it smells vaguely of mothballs. And for my money, it is the lapis, the quintessence; the universal panacea at the end of time has sent a reflection back through the temporal labyrinth. And wherever this touches, whereever this concresses, the mystery is fully present. So what is it, then?
Well, it’s an experience. And I maintain it’s the most intense experience you can have this side of the yawning grave, without doubt. I mean, people say, “Is it dangerous?” Well, the answer is: only if you fear death by astonishment! Yes, that’s a joke here. It’s not a joke there, because you find yourself literally holding your heart to verify that you have not, in fact, had a coronary thrombosis induced by wonder, terror, reverence, and astonishment. So, here it is: the quintessence, the orange thing. Was it transponded in from Arcturus? Was it handed down through some ancient Eldritch brotherhood that found this secret before the pyramids were built? Who can say? Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, here’s what happens when you allow it to pass through the blood-brain barrier of your own alchemical vessel which is your body.
The first thing that happens is that there is a sense as though all the air in the room had been sucked out. All the colors brightened. This is that increase in visual acuity that I made so much of yesterday. All edges become sharp. Distant things stand out in their clarity. This is at one toke. At two tokes, you close your eyes. You feel a sense of anesthesia seeping through your body. You close your eyes and you see a floral pattern rotating in space, usually yellow-orange. People who do this occasionally—and nobody does it a lot—call it the chrysanthemum. It’s a floral pattern like a pattern in a Chinese brocade. This forms and stabilizes. And then you either break through it, or you require one more toke. And these are matters of physiology, shamanic intent, so forth and so on. The leather-lunged hash smokers among us have a leg up in this department. This is a spiritual discipline where the ability not to cough makes the difference between śūnyatā and, you know, try again, Sam.
So you take (let us assume) a third toke, long and slow through a glass pipe. You vaporize this stuff. You don’t mix it with weed or oregano or any of that, which was done in the past. You want the pure stuff. And you take it in and in and in. And there is definitely somewhere in here a threshold, a threshold which you must exceed. And when you do that, this membrane-like thing, this chrysanthemum, will actually part. And there is a sound like the crumpling of a plastic bread wrapper or the crackling of flame. A friend of mine says this is the radio entelechy of your soul exiting through the anterior fontanelle at the top of your head. Could be! In any case, this crackling sound and a tone, a tone, a nnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeee! And then there’s this impression of transition. And you’re now twenty seconds deep into this experience. There’s an impression of transition. It’s as though there were a series of tunnels or chambers that you are tumbling down, being propelled by some kind of muscle behind you that is pushing you. I mean, yes, birth canal. Yes, yes, of course. But anyway, a tunnel. And what I’ve noticed about this tunnel is: the walls and ceiling flux and come down to meet each other. And where they touch, they pull apart with a shhhhllllllluuuuuushhhh. And then you’re propelled into the next space, and then the next, and then the next. And there is this shhhllllll-pop.
Right. And then you are there. And this is what I want to talk to you about. Because, of all communities, I hope perhaps collectively, singly, someone can say something enlightening about this. Then you are there. And where is ‘there’? It’s underground. How you know this, you cannot say, but there is an irreconcilable sense of enormous mass surrounding you. In other words, you are underground. You’re at the center of a mountain or something. And you’re in a room which aficionados call the dome. And people will ask each other, “Did you see the dome? Were you there?” It’s softly lit, indirectly lit. And the walls (if such they be) are crawling with geometric hallucinations: very brightly colored, very iridescent, with deep sheens and very high reflective surfaces. Everything is machine-like and polished and throbbing with energy. But that is not what immediately arrests my attention.
What arrests my attention is the fact that this space is inhabited, that the immediate impression as you break into it is: there is a cheer. The gnomes have learned a new way so say hoooooray! You break in to this space and are immediately swarmed by squeaking, self-transforming elf-machines. These things which are made of light and grammar and sound that come chirping and squealing and tumbling toward you. And they say, “Hooray! Welcome! You’re here!” And in my case: “You send so many and you come so rarely!” And my immediate impression, no matter how many times I do this—and I’ve done it maybe 30 or 40 times, which isn’t a lot in a lifetime of worshiping it—my immediate impression is that they are welcoming. There is something going on which I, over the years, come to call luv. L-U-V. Not light utility vehicle, but luv that is not like Eros, or not like sexual attraction. I don’t know what it’s like, exactly. It’s almost like a physical thing. It’s like a glue that pours out into this space.
And my immediate impression in there is: I’m appalled. I’m appalled at how far I’ve come. And one of the strange things about DMT is that it does not affect your mind in an ordinary sense—in that, you know, drugs: they make you giggly, they frighten you, they stimulate you, they depress you. DMT does none of this. You go to that place with all your groceries. You’re there. And you’re there thinking, “Jesus H fucking Christ, what is this? What is it?” And you’re thinking, “I must be dead. I’ve done it this time.” The psychedelic mantra: “I’ve done it this time. I must be dead!” And so you, you know, you think, “Heart? Heart? Yes. Hmm, heart. Hmm, hmm, hmm. Pulse? Pulse? Yes, yes.”
And meanwhile, these things are literally in your face. And what they do is: they jump into your chest, and then they jump out again. And what they’re doing—and this is the point, I think—what they’re doing is: they are singing, chanting, speaking in some kind of language that is very bizarre to hear. But what is far more important is that you can see it. They speak in a language which you see. And this is completely confounding, because syntax is not something you ordinarily reach out and touch. And in this space that’s what’s happening. And so, like jeweled self-dribbling basketballs, these things come running forward. And what they are doing with this visible language that they create is: they are making gifts. They are making gifts for you. And they will say, “Zee dujee-genuy hakukubin non-qua-quaxibiteetet,” which condenses as something which looks like a cross between a Sopwith Camel, a Havana cigar, a piece of abalone, an opal, and a nookie, and they offer it to you!
And you’re looking at this thing, and as you look at it, it also transforms, changes, speaks, sings, undergoes metastasis, undergoes metamorphosis. And these things are just accumulating. And each elf-machine creature elbows others aside; says, “Look at this! Look at this! Take this! Choose me!” And as you direct your attention into these things you have the overwhelming conviction that, if you could bring a single one of these objects back to this world, that somehow you wouldn’t have to say anything. You would just walk up to people and say, “Friend,” and people would say, “Oh my god! You got a piece of the action! The real action!”
So this state of ecstatic frenzy—and it’s like a Bugs Bunny cartoon running backwards in cyberspace or something—this state of incredible frenzy goes on for about three minutes. And all the time the elves are saying, “Don’t give way to wonder. Do not abandon yourself to amazement. Pay attention! Pay attention! Look at what we’re doing. Look. At. What. We’re. Doing!” And then: “Do it! Do it!” And it’s this thing where, then, everything stops and they wait, and you feel like a torch, a spark lit in your belly that begins to move up your esophagus. And eventually when it reaches your mouth, your mouth just flies open and this language-like stuff comes out. Acoustically, it’s “Zee deuuugingua ooo-wahey quabaxi divichini miqua habeding gedeek teebegedeebing eeeeeeeehl dijinguuuuh waheeindigugeden edegam wagagahgakdet.” But you’re not hearing it, the startled friends who sent you to this place are putting up with this. What you’re experiencing is a visual modality where these tones are surfaces, shading, colors, insets, jewels. You are making something. “Eeh dungjay fwah hakebogene hegedult veehb buhunga.” You know, “Erase. Move forward. Add cerulean. Put in stippling.” It’s that sort of thing. And they go mad with joy when you do this.
And then, you know—this goes on for about thirty seconds—and then there is like a ripple through the system and you realize these two continua are being pulled apart. And I had one trip where the—and often it’s very erotic, although I’m not sure that’s the word. But it’s almost like sex is the surface of something of which this is the volume. And I’m a great fan of sex. I don’t mean to denigrate it. I mean to raise DMT to a very high status. But it’s astonishing. In one trip, as the pull-away maneuver began, all the elves turned simultaneously and looked at me and said, “Déjà vu. Déjà vu.”
So this is an experience which in some form—I mean, it will be different for each one of you—but in some form, at least what will be similar to my description is how dramatic it will be. It will hit you as hard as it hit me—if you do it right. This, to me, this experience is of a fundamentally different order than any other experience this side of the yawning grave. And why religions have not been built around it, why empires have not risen and fallen around the control of its sources, why theology has not enshrined it as its central exhibit for the presence of the other in the human world—I don’t know. I can tell the secret. As you notice, nothing shuts me up. But why this is not four-inch headlines on every newspaper on the planet I cannot understand. Because I don’t know what news you were waiting for, but this is the news that I was waiting for.
It’s an incredible challenge to human understanding to try and make sense of this. And I started out, you know, reading Jung, doing my Hindu, you know, getting up to speed with all that, studying Zen Buddhism, studying shamanism. The thing that puzzles me about DMT is how little trace there is of it in the human world. I can’t point to a period in European art, or the art of some group of islanders somewhere, and say that is very much like DMT. It isn’t. And yet, the DMT thing is… it’s like an avalanche of orgasmic beauty, but a certain kind of beauty. The only words that I can find for the kind of beauty that it is, is: bizarre, alien, outlandish, outré, freaky, and at the very edge of what the human mind seems to be able to hold. Well, where is this coming from, and what is happening?
And this is what I like to discuss with people such as yourselves, who have wide experience in the world and in the realms of the unseen. This has to be taken seriously. In other words, the it’s-only-a-hallucination thing—that horseshit is just passé. I mean, reality is only a hallucination, for crying out loud! Haven’t you heard? So that takes care of that. It’s only a hallucination. What we’ve got here, folks, is an intelligent entelechy of some sort that is frantic to communicate with human beings for some reason. And the possibilities can be logically enumerated. What we’ve got here is either: this is an extraterrestrial—you know, evolved around a different star, possibly with a different biology, may not even be made of matter, came across an enormous distance sometime maybe long ago, has some agenda which we may or may not be able to conceive of. This is it. The real thing. As the little girl said in Poltergeist: “They’re here!” So that’s one possibility. That’s just one possibility. And I present these without judgement, because I’m not sure.
If an extraterrestrial wanted to interact with a human society, and it had ethics that forbade it from landing trillion-ton beryllium ships on the United Nations plaza—in other words, if it were subtle—I can see hiding yourself inside a shamanic intoxication. You would say, “Let’s analyze these people. Okay, they’re kinda hard-headed rationalists, except they have this phenomenon called ‘getting loaded.’ And when they get loaded they accept whatever happens to them. So let’s hide inside the load and we’ll talk to them from there, and they’ll never realize that we’re of a different status than pink elephants.” Okay, that’s one possibility.
Now, another possibility is that this is not about extraterrestrials, flight, and enormous technologies and distant homelands—and this is maybe closer to, friendlier to, pagan notions—that there is a parallel continuum nearby; essentially right here. Call it fairy land, call it the Western realm, whatever you like. But you don’t go there in starships, you go there through magical doorways which are opened via ritual and things like that. That is a possibility as well. Certainly, human folklore in all times and places, except Western Europe for the last 300 years, has insisted that these parallel domains of intelligence and organization exist.
There is a third possibility, which I leave it to you to decide whether this is the more conservative position or the more radical position. And I reached this reluctantly. And I’m not sure this is my position, but these things have a weird—these tykes, as I call them; these self-transforming machine elves, these syntactical homunculi—have a very weird relationship to human beings. First of all, they love us! They care for some reason. Whoever and whatever they are, they’re far more aware of us than we are aware of them. I mean, witness the fact that they welcome me. So, is it possible that, at the end of the twentieth century, at the end of 500 years of materialism, reductionism, positivism, what we’re about to discover is probably the least likely denouement any of us expected out of our dilemma. What we’re about to discover is that death has no sting. That what you penetrate on DMT is an ecology of human souls in another dimension of some sort.
I mean, this is hair-raising to me, and I’ve spent my whole adolescence and early adulthood getting free from Catholicism and its assumptions. And I never imagined that a thorough exploration of life’s mysteries would lead to the conclusion that, in fact, this is but a prelude. We are in a very tiny womb of some sort. Our lives are gestations, and this is not where we are destined to unfold ourselves into what it means to be human. This is some kind of a metamorphic stage like the pupa of a butterfly. And so this is deep water, because we are fairly agitated over the fact that we fear the planet is dying and us with it. This stuff raises the issue that you don’t know what dying is. Therefore, it’s very uncertain exactly what sort of an attitude we should take to it. And as I say, I am not advocating a position. Mysteries are not unsolved problems, they are mysteries. When you stand naked in the presence of the mystery, it is still utterly and completely mysterious. But I enjoy talking to people about this, because I think that the human body, the human mind—these are tools for the soul to use in the effort to unlock its meaning and its destiny. And millions of people, perhaps billions of people, have gone to the grave without knowing that this is possible—this experience that I’ve just described to you.
And it’s perfectly harmless. I mean, I think that if science would back out of politics and do its work, we could establish that DMT is the most harmless, the safest, of all hallucinogens. The fact that it occurs naturally in the human brain is the first clue to the fact that it’s benign. The second clue is the fact that it only lasts eight to twelve minutes. What that means to a pharmacologist is: the body perfectly understands what to do with this compound. You take a hit of DMT and your body says, “Oh, I recognize this. Activate deamination cycle. Activate demethylation cycle. Activate…” It knows what to do. And so, within ten minutes you’re down. A drug that you take and 48 hours later you’re lying around in warm baths and refusing telephone calls is a drug you shouldn’t have taken! Because it’s hitting you too hard; it’s not clean, it’s not smooth. DMT—the most powerful hallucinogen known to man and science—clears your system in 15 minutes! I mean, you’re so down you don’t have a small headache or need to take a nap or anything! You’re ready to do phone calls.
So how can it be, then, that a compound which each of us carries, right here, right in the pineal gland, right in the Ajna chakra—the philosopher’s stone is no further away than that—how can this be secret from us? How can we be trapped in a dimension of such limitation and such mundaneness when our own nervous systems, and the ecology around us, and our own history over the past half million years, argues that this is what we were born and bred for. This is where we belong. This is what “at play in the fields of the Goddess” must mean. And somehow history has made us dysfunctional, buried the mystery, made it, if at best, a piece of secret knowledge jealously guarded by somebody. I mean, I don’t know. There are lots of mystery cults and secret societies in the world. I don’t know if any of them are guarding DMT as a secret. It may be so. No one told me to keep my mouth shut.
A very suggestive short story—I’m sure many of you know and love the Argentine surrealist writer Jorge Luis Borges. Well, Borges has a book—I believe it’s called Labyrinths—and in Labyrinths there is a short story called The Sect of the Phoenix, and it says:
There is a sacrament older than mankind. The sectarians have been the victims of every persecution in human history, and the sectarians have been the purveyors of every persecution in history. These sectarians are not identifiable by race or place or language or time. To the adept, the mystery appears ridiculous, yet they do not speak of it. One child can initiate another. It is orange. Ruins are propitious places. Do it in the moonlight in the thresholds of buildings.
And that’s all it said. It’s a page and a half. And it suggests—and see, here’s the thing; I’m not as articulate on this subject as I wish I could be—if this is not the secret that these lineages are guarding, then they’re guarding an empty house. This is the secret! It is. It is! It cannot be anything else. It is the neoplatonic One. It is the trans-substantiant object, the panis supersubstantialis of the alchemists.
And I’m not saying that people have known about this for a long time. DMT is in many plants, as I said, but spread very thinly. And we don’t have historical records of anyone ever concentrating it. I’ve done the DMT plant preparations of the Amazon—the snuffs and the ayahuasca. And on ayahuasca, if it is heavily laced with the DMT-containing plant, after hours of breathwork and drumming alone in the jungle, you can begin to open it up to the place that DMT will carry you to in 45 seconds in an Upper East Side apartment, whether you like it or not.
Some of you may have seen, years and years ago, this B-movie about a guy who has a big ranch in Mexico, and one of the campesinos comes rushing back from having encountered a brontosaur in the forest, and he can only point inarticulately at the woods and say, “Something! Something! Something! Something!” And that’s what I am—I’m a monkey and I’ve come back to the troop, and I’m telling you there’s something over the next hill that is off the scale. Off the scale! And I have made it my business to, you know, delve. I’m a delver, I’m a noetic archaeologist. Obscure heresies and strange rites and all of this stuff—been there, done that. It’s all pale soup compared to this. And so I hype it to you simply to try and inspire you to explore it.
We are, at the present state, in the position of explorers of a new world fifty years after Columbus. We have notebook entries. We have partial maps. But we don’t have a complete map of what this thing is. It’s another dimension. It is literally another dimension. I took DMT to a lama of great accomplishment—not one of the grab-ass can of Budweiser welded to the good right hand lamas, but a real lama. This guy was over 90 when he smoked DMT and, since, his wheel has turned. And he said to me, “It’s the lesser lights.” He said, “You can’t go further into the bardo and return.” And so I think that we stand at the brink of an enormous frontier—call it incorporeality, call it non-material existence, or, you know, bite the bullet: call it death. But this is the frontier that we stand on the edge of. This is what history has been about.
History has been some kind of suicide plot for 15,000 years. Not a moment passed that the plot was not advanced closer and closer and closer and closer to completion. And now, in the twentieth century, you know, we see that this thing—this transcendental object at the end of time, this attractor that chose us out of the animal kingdom, and sculpted the neocortex, opposed the thumb, stood us on our hind legs, gave us binocular vision—this thing is calling us toward itself across aeons of cosmic time. We are asked to mirror it. And as we mirror it, we become more of its essence. And as we become more of its essence, we leave behind the animal organization that we were cast in in the beginning.
And what this is about? Who knows? Is this a drama of cosmic redemption? Is it the transcendental other at the end of time? Is it a gnostic daemon? Is it [???]? What is it? We do not know. But I really believe we are in the era when we will come to know. And what the psychedelics are, are periscopes in the temporal dimension. If you want to see a little bit into the future, elevate you psychedelic periscope outside of the three-dimensional continuum and peer around. For thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, we have been pulled towards this Omega Point. The Earth is like an egg. It has come to its moment of fructification. The dawn that has been anticipated since we were herding our cattle across the plains of Africa is now upon us. The East is streaked with the blush of rosy dawn. It is coming upon us. And I think that is will redeem history, that history is not a nightmare. It is a passage. It is an initiation. Think of the fetus in the womb at the moment of transition. Surely it must despair. The walls are closing in. It’s being crushed and strangled. Gone are the endless amniotic oceans of a few months before; the weightlessness, the effortless delivery of food through the umbilical cord. Suddenly, it’s just boundaries and agony and crushing pressure. That’s where we are. And we are going to have to shed history like a snake sheds its skin if we want to slip off into hyperspace, where I think all of magical humanity is awaiting us and cheering us on, lending their weight.
They’re all out there, you know? Proclus, and Plotinus, and Plato, and Hypatia, and Henry Cornelius Agrippa, and John Dee, and Robert Fludd, and Eliaphas Levy. They’re all out there pulling for us. And every shaman and shamaness, every magician practitioner as far back in time as you go was part of the plan, the conjuration, the great work, the distillation of the quintessence. History is a magical invocation. And at the end of that invocation—if it is correctly done—all boundaries will dissolve into the stone, the lapis, a trans-dimensional vehicle that can move through space and time that is the collectivity of all human souls free at last in what William Blake called the Divine Imagination.
And you don’t have to wait for the general dispensation. You can join up any time by hyperspatializing your metaphors and your point of view through psychedelic symbiosis with the plants that are pouring this hyper-dimensional Gaian vision into the minds of anyone who will detoxify themselves from history and linear thinking, and but open themselves to the presence of the transformative mystery that is going to leave this planet unrecognizable to us within our lifetimes.
So that’s the basic spiel. And I think it raises a lot of questions and yours is first.
Are there any northern hemisphere Western herbs that contain DMT that we would have access to?
The answer is yes. Yes. The question is: are there herbs in the temperate zone that contain DMT? Yes. There are certain grasses: phalaris arundinacea, phalaris tuberosa. These can be ordered from plant dealers or gotten, ironically enough, from agricultural experiment stations, because these are pasturage grasses. A lot of people are doing wonderful work right now learning how to make DMT preparations out of native plants. The mature phalaris grass—it’s very diffuse, the DMT. So what people are doing is: they’re getting the seeds and they’re spouting them in a sprouter, and then they’re taking the sprouted seeds and air drying them. Well, you can imagine how powdery sprouts become if you air dry them. Well, then you can powder up a handful of these sprouts and twist that into a bomber and come very very close to the flashpoint.
The other thing—I mean, since I’m talking to recipe-oriented magicians—the other thing you need to understand if you want to work in this area is that DMT can ordinarily not be taken orally because there is an enzyme system in your intestines called the monoamine oxidase system. And it will destroy the DMT. But the good news is there are certain compounds called monoamine oxidase inhibitors—didn’t you know it! If you take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor and then you take DMT, the DMT will survive the gut and pass into the bloodstream, and pass the blood-brain barrier. So here is a very important piece of practical information I am about to give you: if you want to inhibit your monoamine oxidase in order to make DMT trips longer, or mushroom trips longer and more intense, or to activate DMT if you only have a little bit of it, then what you should get are the seeds of peganum harmala. You can either order it under that name from seed dealers, or go to an Iranian market and buy what is called Hurmal. This is simply peganum harmala seeds. They use it as an incense to fumigate rooms. But two grams—don’t take more!—two grams of this, macerated in a mortar and pestle with spring water taken from a spring at the new moon near a crossroads, will inhibit your MAO. It will inhibit your MAO. Consequently, then, when you smoke the bomber of phalaris dust, it will grab on. Or you can even smoke mushrooms then, and they will grab on. So, knowing how to inhibit MAO is one of the key techniques in this kind of herbal shamanic magic.
Other plants that contain DMT—and here’s one you should all be aware of because it’s probably right around here—is desmanthus illinoensis: Illinois Bundle Weed. It’s a rank weed. I’ve not seen it except in the dry form, but people have grown hundreds of pounds of this stuff in a few months. And the root bark has the highest concentration of DMT ever measured in any plant. It’s higher than the ayahuasca admixtures used in the Amazon.
In the root bark. The root bark. You dry the root and then scrape the bark off, and you’ll get this reddish root bark. The red is actually the DMT. Virola trees in the Amazon shed DMT in their sap, and it’s always a blood red sap. And to show you how strong it is, the Indians in the Amazon, some of the tribes, they roll their arrow points directly into that sap. And it’s a paralytic poison in the bloodstream of monkeys and small animals. So a great deal of work is being done right now, and you should—if you’re of an experimental and herbal and alchemical and magical bent—people are creating what they call ayahuasca analogs. This is where you use local plants to create a brew which is chemically equivalent to an Amazonian hallucinogen. And, of course, you have the satisfaction that it’s yours. It’s your magical recipe. No one on Earth is doing quite what you’ve got. And a lot of interesting work is being done, and you’ll hear more about this. In fact, Jonathan Ott just wrote a book called Ayahuasca Analogs, in which the state of the art is spelled out. And it would be worth your while to check that out if you’re an experimentalist.
The question is: is there a simple reagent test for the presence of DMT? The answer is: sort of. You can do a paper chromatographic test, and all you need is a little UV light and some chromatography paper and some solvent dishes. I mean, it’s at the level of a seventh grade science project. Yes, I don’t know how much I should say on this subject. I’m probably about to say too much. But at one gathering I go to, one of the people who’s a very regular part of that particular posse is a wheat breeder. So when he heard about the phalaris, he was a geneticist and a wheat breeder. And he has been working very quietly on his own to produce superstrains of phalaris, and I think we will soon see superstrains, because the underground community is incredibly creative in this area. The compound I talked about yesterday, salvia divinorum—that’s all underground work. Bret Blosser, the anthropologist who discovered it, is a complete freak. The chemist who extracted it, who would prefer I don’t put out his name, is a complete freak. The people who then did the confirmation studies—my brother and his band of performing pharmacologists—all freaks. So we, actually, we do not take ourselves seriously enough. I mean, we have our scientists, we have our philosophers, we have our thinkers, our legal experts. We are a complete community. And it’s no longer, in my mind, even necessary to publish in straight journals and to seek a pat on the head from, you know, the American pharmacology community. They don’t understand what these things are for anyway.
[???] could you give that name of it?
Yes, I’ll repeat this and strengthen, once again, my case to the guy who owns the company that he should pay me, for gods sakes! If you want a catalog of extremely rare and useful psychoactive and magical plants—probably the most complete in the world—the company is called Of The Jungle, PO Box 1801, Sebastopol, California, 95472. Write and ask for a catalog and tell them George Bush sent you. No, I’m teasing. Don’t tell them that; they won’t send you the catalog.
Well, let me—I didn’t mean to dis Castaneda as a metaphor maker. No, I think The Teachings of Don Juan is a tremendous book. I’m very suspicious of some of his later stuff. It’s interesting what you said, because you know the famous crow transformation in The Teachings of Don Juan has been traced—and I’m sure many of you know this book—has been traced to George MacDonald’s book Through the Gates of the Silver Key. And George MacDonald was a friend of Evans Wentz, so I think what we’re getting here is a mining of late nineteenth century English folklore by Castaneda. Nevertheless, the presence of these small entities has been a part of folklore for a long long time: elementals, tykes. What puzzled me about—what puzzles me, I guess, is: I’ve spent a lot of time in this magical literature and art historical area, and the descriptions don’t quite match. I can’t quite convince myself that the sprites, the efreets, the pixies, the jinns, that these creatures of the woodland fay are the same thing. Or I don’t know whether I am contaminated by an early love of science fiction and—
Well, again: close, but no banana. All these popular aliens that are running around—you know, the Whitley Striebers and all these things—are much more mundane than what I encountered. I mean, what I encountered was terrifyingly not human, terrifyingly alien. And I just do not quite get—and Madame Blavatsky was into it and they’re always saying—I don’t know, they’re all very cut and dried about it. And when I encounter an extraterrestrial alien or a creature from another dimension, the main thing that’s happening for me is: the implications are blowing my mind! They seem totally immune to the implications.
Well, a sufficient amount of DMT is smoked west of the Pacific Coast Highway that it wouldn’t surprise me if the writers of Star Trek were onto this. Yes, what is not much talked about—the part of the experience which is anomalous, and maybe people who know more about magical literature than I do can correct me—but what the elves are really interested in is this stuff which I call visible language. That’s the whole point of the encounter: is to exhibit it and to get you to do it. Well, now, first of all, think for a minute about ordinary language. It’s really weird! It’s the weirdest thing we do. I mean, if you were looking for the thumbprint of God on creation, human language would be a good candidate. Because, look: we’re supposed to be some kind of animal who just went a little further than the next guy. But to get out of that Shakespeare and Milton is a pretty amazing accomplishment, hardly to speak of the mathematical languages that we generate. So something happened. Some people think only 35,000 years ago. Imagine if that’s true. I mean, I don’t care—some people say 150,000 years ago. But to speak, to take small mouth noises and to turn them into signifiers for symbols and relationships in spite of some people’s enthusiasm for cetaceans and dolphins, I just am not overwhelmed by the evidence. I mean, to me, you know, it is a miracle to be able to speak poetry. It is a miracle. I mean, when Coleridge wrote:
I mean, that’s language! And it’s magic! And we have a fascination, then—we also paint. Then we sculpt. Then we write. Then we create electronic databases. Then film, television. Clearly, what we want to do is: we want to communicate visually. And these things are saying there’s way to do it. Do it! And I don’t understand—do we all have to be loaded on DMT all the time? Can you learn to do this?
The gentleman who asked about dreams: here’s a piece of information that is critical in this jigsaw puzzle. If you have smoked DMT at any time in the past, it is possible to have a dream in which people are running around and you’re checked into the Mars hotel and the luggage is lost and this and that. And in the middle of all that someone drags out a little glass pipe and hands it to you. It will happen. It will happen in the dream! Not a memory, not a simulacrum. It will really happen. Well, now, to me that’s an amazing piece of data because what it’s saying is: you can do it on the natch. You may have to be dead asleep, but still, on the natch this can be done. And the lucid dreamers, the biofeedback people, the people who claim these wonderful things that you can do with sleep and dream and programming, I challenge them: teach people to have DMT dreams in their sleep. And then let’s figure out how to drag that puppy into the light so that we can do it at will on the natch.
One thing that I have come to believe is that we remember no more than five percent of our dreams, and it’s the most mundane five percent. I think—and there’s scientific evidence to support this. Remember I said that DMT is in the human brain? Well, it concentrates in the human cerebrospinal fluid on a 24-hour cycle, and it reaches its peak of concentration between 3 and 4 AM in most people. That’s when the deep REM sleep is happening. When you give somebody DMT, they lay back, they close their eyes, and the way you—the guide, the sitter; I don’t like the word “guide;” you the sitter—the way you can tell that they’re getting off is: their eyes dart wildly behind their closed eyelids. It means they’re in REM. They’re in REM sleep. They’ve been immediately shoved into deep dreaming. So I believe that what DMT is doing in normal human metabolism is: it mediates the spiral descent into dream, and that every single night we are reunited with the boundaryless oceanic mystery of being that we are so frantic about in waking life and so distant from. And that if we could, in fact, just engineer a drug that would allow us to remain fully conscious as we drift deeper into dream, we would need no other drug or substance. That that’s where we want to go. And I think that’s where history is headed.
What the archaic revival is about is a revivification of the aboriginal dream time. We are going to live in the imagination. We are preparing to decamp from three-dimensional space. I mean yes, the Earth is the cradle of the human race, but you don’t stay in the cradle forever, you know? And it’s something like going into dream. It’s something like taking the hyper-technical virtual reality Internet head of the snake and inserting the shamanic, late paleolithic, ecstatic, orgiastic tail of the snake, and then you have the ouroboric completion. Then you have the quintessence, and the work is complete, and history ends, and we live, then, in the light of the stone made manifest.
Well, it definitely has something—this mystery we’re talking about—it definitely has something to do with sound and the magical role of sound. Ayahuasca is a sort of different way of sectioning the DMT experience because ayahuasca is orally active, unfolds over hours, is not as dramatic as DMT. But the people who use ayahuasca as a ritual on a weekly basis, what their practice consists of is: they take this stuff and then they sing. They sing like crazy. And then, when they stop singing, and people light a cigarette and take a leak and so forth and you’re listening to these conversations, you hear people say stuff about the shaman, like: “I liked the part with the olive drab and the silver, but when it became magenta and moved toward orange I thought he was over the top.” And you think what kind of a criticism of a song is that? And the answer is: sound has become a visually beheld medium.
Yes. So, the reason I’m interested in something as techno-nerdy as virtual reality is because you could program a virtual reality so that, when you went, “Aaaaaaaah,” an iridescent blue line would be keyed to that to descend into the space. And I’m very interested in environmental and electronic simulations of psychedelic states. But we’re not going to do better than the psychedelics. If we can do as well, it will be a miracle. I mean, you see more beauty in a first wave of psilocybin than the human race has produced in the past five thousand years. And who are you? You know?
Yeah? No< I promised this guy. And I felt his flash of loathing!
I hadn’t considered that, but that sounds possible. I mean, we’re definitely coming to some enormous cusp. And whether you think it’s the cusp of cusps, or just a big cusp, it’s hard to say. Somebody faxed me—I got a fax right before I came here. I don’t know who sent it to me, it was just an anonymous fax, but in huge letters is said, “When you strip away the hype, it’s just another concrescence.”
I’m curious to know what the universality of your experience that you describe is [???]
It’s interesting, and that’s a good question. The answer is: yes and no. Obviously, there’s hardly anything more personal than a psychedelic experience. It is a kind of summation of who you are, and it’s viewed through the filters of your personality. Nevertheless, when you put a whole bunch of DMT trips together, certain things seem to emerge. My notion—coming at it from a sort of a Jungian attitude—is: if we had to say what is the archetype of DMT, the archetype is the circus. It’s the circus. And let me say why. First of all, a circus is a place of wild exotic activity. And clowns. You don’t have a circus without clowns. Clowns are wonderful for children. A circus is a wonderful place for a child. DMT—there is something very, very weirdly child-like about it in a very un-childish way. Some of you may know the 52nd fragment of Heraclitus, where he says, “The aeon is a child at play with colored balls.” The aeon is the child that you encounter in the elf dome.
But the circus has other connotations than simply the three rings and the clowns. Eros is present, entwined with Thanatos, in the form of the nearly naked lady in the tiny spangled costume who is working without nets, hanging by her teeth up near the top of the big tent. And personally, my earliest experience of Eros was that lady in the tiny spangled costume. I was so small. I was wrapped up in something and being held, and I was horny as hell. So there’s that. And then there is also, radiating off from the central ring, the freak show, the goat-faced boy, the lady in the bottle, and, you know, the three-toed alligator kid, and all of that. That’s there. The wiggy, weird, kinky, strange, alien stuff. And then, if you think about the archetype—not so much of the circus, but of the carnival: the carnival represents a breakthrough from another dimension. Because you live in some jerk-water town in some—I almost said Iowa—but some town. And it’s, like, normal. And then the carnival comes to town and children are told, “You can’t stay out and play, the carny people are in town.”’ And what does it mean? Well, they may fuck differently than we do. They may steal things. They’re not like us. They have more than one marriage, some of them. And then the carnival people are there, and the hoochie-coochie dancers, and the whole thing, and then they fold it up and they go away! Just like a DMT trip. And every little boy and girl in the world worth their salt wants to join the circus. Of course! And go away with the tattooed lady and the tigers and all that. So it is the archetype of the circus.
So then, I’ve seen many, many people take DMT. And some get what I get, which is: it’s sort of gone beyond the circus. It’s the circus as presented on Zubenelgenubi Prime or something like that. But one woman—who was an anthropologist, who, I think, got a sub-threshold dose—she had a very interesting trip because it was a light trip. But with no prompting from me she said, “I was at a carnival midway. But it was after hours and there was nobody there and there were just those ice cream—those square papers for holding ice cream—blowing in the wind and getting caught in chain link fences.” It was like a sub-threshold dose. Well, then, if she’d done more she would have arrived there eight hours earlier when the thing was happening. And if she’d done yet another toke, it would have moved off into the zone of the truly weird. That’s why I love the film of Federico Fellini, because here was a circus-man, for sure.
A way to get the DMT? Well, you could conceivably inhibit your MAO. I don’t wanna tell you to do it nasally because it might be a really stinging experience.
Oh, then you could do it. I’m working on something. I’ll describe it to you. I’m having a glassblower make a thing which has a chamber with a pipe stem coming off it. But it has another stem 180 degrees around the chamber coming off it that breaks into two prongs. And what you do is you heat the DMT, you insert the two prongs up your nose, and you have a friend blow on the other outlet, and it will force the entire contents of the vessel, the entire load of white smoke—but, you know, don’t try this at home, folks!
I’d go light the first time. You know, there are old pharmacologists and bold pharmacologists. But there are no old, bold pharmacologists.
There are anti-depressants that are MAO inhibitors, that’s right. But I wouldn’t use them for this purpose, because what you want is what’s called a reversible MAO inhibitor. And harmine, or harmaline, which is in the Syrian rue, is a reversible MAO inhibitor; reversible in four to six hours. Some of these antidepressants inhibit every molecule of MAO in your body for up to three weeks. And that’s why, when they give you those anti-depressants, they tell you the long list of don’ts: no chocolate, no red wine, no soft cheese, no lentils, no this. That’s a list of alkaloid-containing foods. And if you are on those monoamine oxidase inhibiting antidepressants and you eat a bunch of Camembert with your yuppie friends, you’ll probably have to be roped down for a while before you straighten out.
How is a DMT experience compared to those you’ve had on what might be familiar such as psychedelic mushrooms and LSD?
He said how does DMT compare to more familiar psychedelics like mushrooms and LSD? Let me say this about mushrooms. Mushrooms are my thing. They enlightened me, they straightened me out, they love me. But the way to do mushrooms is: the very first move—if you’re interested in mushrooms—is, for God’s sake, buy a scale! Buy a scale. You wouldn’t think that this would be considered such an exotic suggestion to people who are going to put their bodies and minds on the line. Because people don’t take enough. They do not take enough mushrooms. They take piss-ant amounts and then they claim that they’re initiates. You must take a measured five dried grams on an empty stomach. Measured! And when you see what that is, you’ll realize that, you know, you weren’t even camped in the atrium, you were camped in the driveway.
And mushrooms, in some way—I mean, DMT is the most terrifying and astonishing thing in the universe. But it’s very hard to know what to do with it. Psilocybin is your friend. It wants to teach. It will take you by the hand and forgive you and lead you and be with you. And it speaks. This is the amazing thing. And you’re hearing this from, you know, somebody who graduated from Heidegger and F. H. Bradley. It speaks. No other psychedelic does that, in my experience. Occasionally, a phrase will pop into your head on another substance that is like a gift in that surround. But I mean: psilocybin raves. It raves! And it has positions. You may not like psilocybin as a person, because it is not—the astonishing thing about psilocybin entity to my mind (and I get good confirmation on this) is: it is not very earthly. I mean, it wants to show you machines the size of Manhattan in orbit around alien stars. It wants to talk about the sweet brew of za-zaza-zaza which happened before the Earth cooled and it, you know, has seen the empires of [???] out at the rim, and all the rest of it.
And it’s very puzzling, this cosmic, galactarian tome, because then you step over to ayahuasca, because literally just a twist of the molecule—just slight tweaking of the molecule—and suddenly it’s about childbirth, rivers, the land, the feminine, looking inside your body, curing diseases, feeling, telepathy, communication, it could hardly be more different. And yet, chemically, these things are like two sides of the same coin.
Just to sum this up and put a kind of a classifier on it: I am not very interested in drugs per se. I’ve done a lot of them; bad ones, good ones. And people do drugs for fun and for stupid reasons. But there is this tiny chemical family, the tryptamine hallucinogens: psilocybin and DMT, and then some artificial cogeners. And 5-methoxy is in there, too, which I’m not that fond of. But this is the doorway. It’s the umbilicus of this world. These are things which are called drugs because that’s the category we have for things which make the world unrecognizable. But these are not drugs. They are magical doorways into staggeringly titanic dimensions of gnosis, power, information, understanding, and dimensions filled with affection for humanity. So people say, “Well, you think drugs should be legalized?” Yeah, but that’s a political opinion of Terence McKenna, who’s just a guy like you. But this stuff about the tryptamines is a real discovery. And you can think what you like about me and my take on it. In fact, please do. But check it out! Check it out. Because I’ve checked out lots of stuff, and this is the only thing I’m interested in telling you: check it out!
No, I don’t understand that. The answer to that question: it’s magical. It is a secret which keeps itself! I mean, here I am. There are two hundred people here—whatever—and I do this for all the time! And I have not, so far as I can tell, been able to launch an avalanche of DMT. I’m trying! Do I have to put it any more plainly? Is there a chemist in the house who will go home and make this stuff so that we can find our way there? Or grow the plants? Or go to South America? Or get with lucid dreaming and behavioral modification? Or explore the outer edges of orgasm, which I think has something to do with DMT and probably runs on it? Somehow, we need to beech this whale.
It’s not difficult to make. Compared to cocaine or LSD, it’s a walkover. It is a reasonable exam question for a second-year student of organic chemistry to be told: synthesize and chromatograph five grams of DMT and submit your sample with your chromatographic data to my office Monday morning.
Well, but this against the law thing, let me talk a minute about that. How can it be against the law if you have it in every brain walking around?
You’re putting yourself at great legal risk. However, see, things like psilocybin and DMT—the reason they’re illegal is because there was panic in California in 1966. The California assembly rammed through an anti-drug law in which all these things were named, but no medical or scientific data was offered to show there was anything wrong with them. Basically, they were guilty as charged because they caused hallucinations. Well, then, about three months later, the Feds decided there needed to be a federal anti-hallucinogen law and they simply imported the California statute directly into federal law. So it is conceivable that, if one had enough money—and it takes a lot of money—you could force a reexamination of the drug laws by simply saying, number one: there is no scientific evidence that there’s anything wrong with DMT. Number two: there’s plenty of scientific evidence that DMT occurs normally in human metabolism. And how, therefore, can it be kept illegal? But it takes—huh?
Unless the plant is specifically named, but the attorney general—at his own discretion—can add those plants to the scheduled list without asking anybody.
No, it’s economically driven. I mean, if you have DMT you could sell a mountain of it. You don’t get many repeat customers, because if you sell somebody a gram, that’s twenty hits. Most people set half of it aside for their great-grandchildren. This is not a drug of abuse, let me point that out to you. It’s sort of a drug of anti-abuse. I know people who say—you ask them, “What’s your favorite drug?” and they say, “Oh, DMT! Love it. Love it.” You say, “Well, when did you do it last?” “Well, 1968. I’m still processing.”
Yohimbine, is that what you asked about? I’m not sure that yohimbine is an MAO inhibitor. You should look it up in the Merck Manual. There are many things which are weak MAO inhibitors. The easiest source for an MAO inhibitor, though, is the peganum harmala, and also there is a plant in North America—oh no, I’m sorry. It also is peganum harmala. Peganum harmala grows over vast areas of New Mexico, Nevada, and it yields a bright yellow dye, which is actually the harmine itself; is the dye chemical.
Well, we should certainly talk about casualties and dangers. Addiction doesn’t really figure in here in the ordinary sense of, like, opiate and nicotine addiction. You know, cannabis is the most addicting of these minor and near-psychedelics, and its only psychologically addictive. I mean, I found it out because a couple of years ago I actually quit for two months after not drawing an unstoned breath for 25 years, and all that happened was that I read more. And it’s not clear that that’s my problem. But danger we need to talk about.
And that brings up the question: how should one do these things? How can you do it and gain maximum benefit and minimum wear and tear on your psyche and your body? The first thing is: inform yourself. Inform yourself! The first stop on the psychedelic trip is the library. There are very, very deep books on these subjects—on the anthropology, the pharmacology, the psychology, the quantum mechanics of drug activity. Inform yourself. And then it’s not about taking every drug in the book. And, you know, people reel them off. Say, “Well, I did junk, I did this, I did that” It’s no points. You don’t get points for that. What you have to do is—and here’s a piece straight out of Castaneda— You have to find your ally. You have to find what works for you. And if you take a drug or a plant and you have a horrible experience, you don’t really need to go back and back.
The other thing is: danger lies in the direction of combination. These are called synergies by pharmacologists. And if your idea of a big evening is to, you know, shoot a hundred milliliters of ketamine and then drop some MDMA and a little 2CB an hour later and then bring on some acid of undetermined provenance, and so forth and so on, well then—and I say, “Well, how was it?” You say, “Hey, it was far out!” But the point is: this can never be reproduced and these things are very dangerous. They synergize in rather unexpected ways. I mean, my God, if psilocybin and DMT have never been studied, do you think their relationship to Romilar and Nardil has been looked at very carefully? I don’t think so.
Then: how to take it? And I represent a faction on that. I believe that you should take it with as—how can I put it?—with as little company as you can stand, basically. A lot of people like group work. I don’t. But then, I don’t like groups generally. I mean, I’m basically a loner. And if I take psychedelics with somebody I worry. I worry about them. And it keeps me on the surface. And I had many psychedelic experiences where, in the middle of it, it has passed through my mind, “Gee, I’m sure glad nobody is here to see this, because I’m sure it would alarm them and then we’d have a crisis on our hands.” So my style—I mean, I’ll take anything in a low dose and hang out if something interesting is going on. But the serious stuff goes on in darkness, in silence. And that—people go through the roof. You don’t even listen to music. That’s right: in darkness, in silence, in a comfortable space—and that may mean in your apartment in Manhattan or it may mean up a tree in Yosemite, whatever your thing is.
And then I always use cannabis. Cannabis is your navigation tool, your reality check, your everything. I roll up the bombers and I lay them up in front of me, and I have my mojo bag and a few things like that. From the moment I take it I’m in sacral space. And this isn’t even a rule followed in the Amazon. I mean, it totally blew my mind. In some ayahuasca circles people would sit around talking and talking, then everybody would take ayahuasca. There would be a sacral ceremonial moment, everybody would take the ayahuasca. And then: yak, yak, yak, and motorcycle parts, and what are the missionaries up to, and who’s screwing who, and yak, yak, yak. And then, at thirty minutes on the dot, the shaman would begin to whistle, everybody would shut up, and within a minute we’d be gone.
But the way I like to do it—and this a good Catholic method for those of you who are recovering Catholics—I take it, and then I sit in my space and I carry out what in catechism class we were taught is called an examination of conscience. This is where you think about all the ways you screwed up and all the people you screwed over, and you basically anticipate a bad trip, is what it is. You work, you say, “What is the worst thing that could happen to me on this trip based on my current state of my psyche and my relationships with other people?” Well, by the time this stuff actually begins to work, you’ve dealt with that. And, you know, some people say they take mushrooms and within twenty minutes we were tripping hard, tripping hard! I don’t understand what that is about. It takes an hour and twenty minutes on the dot. It always has. I don’t expect it to ever come faster.
And I get into a kind of a zone where it’s like it’s nibbling at the edges, but it’s not quite manifest. And then I smoke the first bomber. And usually that brings it in. That brings it in. And I also, I speak to it. I speak to it. I invoke it, I suppose. And in my own way—I don’t know if it will pass Gardnerian muster—I say to it, “Show yourself. Show yourself!” And at that point it’s very erotic. It’s like a veil dance, is what it is. It is a veil dance. The girlfriend in the other dimension. The mushroom. Once I said to her, “What should I call you?” and she said, “Call me Dorothy.” So I invoke it and it comes. It comes. And then we’re off. And sometimes it’s easy and loving, and sometimes it’s different.
I remember one very epic trip I had where I had tossed out a very big compost pile from growing mushrooms years ago in another country. Actually, it was a past life I’m now recalling. But anyway, I tossed out this stuff and this thing grew this humongous mushroom. And I had taken mushrooms the previous Saturday. I had taken a full dose, which is five dried grams. So I thought, “I want to take mushrooms again this Saturday, but I think I may have picked up a tolerance. So I’ll just take nine grams instead.” And this is where the learning takes place: the mistakes. Treasure your mistakes!
So the thing—it’s like I’m sitting there and suddenly I realize: “Oh my God, it’s coming at me. It’s a hundred miles wide, it’s ten miles high, and it’s just rolling toward me.” And I barely had time to lay down, that’s how fast. And a voice said, you know, “Get prepared! The storm is about to hit the beach!” And I lay down, and it was like a tornado hitting. And at one pint I opened my eyes and there was this woman in a full bondage getup with piercings and rubber panties and the whole thing, and I was lying there between her legs. She was standing upright. And she put her face right down next to mine, and she said, “Is it strong enough for you, asshole?” To which I replied, “Yes….” And then she said, “They say it helps to close your eyes, cowboy.” Later, in thinking about that trip, I realized the reason the mushroom addressed me as cowboy is because that’s—most people mushrooms have met have been cowboys and cowgirls, because they’re the people who follow the cows! And most people have encountered this thing in the pasture. You know, Maria Sabina, the mushroom shamanist of Oaxaca, claimed not to have been initiated. She claimed that, as a child left to watch the sheep and the cows, she had been hungry and had gotten to eating mushrooms.
So—I haven’t lost my thread. This is the safety course, I haven’t forgotten that. Once you get launched out in there, then there are tricks for navigation. And the two tricks that are indispensable—number one I’ve already told you: have cannabis ready. Because if you get into a place you don’t like you can jet out of there by just taking a toke or two. The other thing is: if you get into a place you don’t like, chant. Don’t do what most honkys do, which is scrunch, assume that fetal position, say “I can stand this. How many hours is this going to last?” Don’t do that. Sit up, take a breath, and belt it out. Drumming, too. But I really think it’s important to oxygenate your body. It’s very important to move the breath through. And there are hard places. If there weren’t hard places, people wouldn’t be so terrified of this stuff. So when you get to a hard place, first of all: don’t be an idiot. Don’t abandon yourself to fear just because somebody put something ugly in front of you. I mean, people put stuff that’s ugly in front of you every day and all you say is, “Yuck!” So this also works there. There are strange places, and we each have our own private hells.
I mean there’s a place I go to on nearly every ayahuasca trip that I call the meat locker. And, you know, the less said about it the better. But every time I feel it begin to swerve at—I say, “Uh-oh, time to fire up a little sinsemilla here. Yeah. Sing them the no meat locker song.”
I fast—I don’t call it fasting. I just don’t eat for six hours. Empty your stomach. And the other thing is—
Your stomach should be empty. Throughout. And then, at the end of the—the way I do it is: I usually start about eight at night. I’m alone, always. And I go until one. And by one it’s over. And then what I do is: I eat a bowl of granola or something like that. Don’t sleep on an empty stomach. Because then you’ll wake up the morning raw and rocky. And it’s not that the mushroom did that, it’s that you slept with a protein debt. So then, eat your favorite food at the end of the trip.
MDMA is a psychologized amphetamine. It’s what are called empathogens. They’re drugs which encourage exchange of feelings and that sort of thing. Under rare circumstances you can squeeze a kind of wobbling hallucination out of it. But its purpose, I think, is different. It’s for sorting out relationships, assisted psychotherapy, and having a good time. But it would be crazy to take MDMA as a hallucinogen because it’s like entering a bicycle in a Ferrari race, you know? They are just much superior. And let me say about this: I mean, everything is my personal bias here. A lot of people have said, “You’re a hallucination nut. You’re obsessed with hallucination.” I freely admit it. The reason why I was underwhelmed by LSD—I mean, I liked it and it was certainly engaging—but I could never hallucinate the way I wanted to. I’d read Havelock Ellis. I wanted to see, you know, the phosphorescent palaces, the naked maidens, the silk brocades, the alien worlds—vision! And LSD, deep thoughts about things, funny ideas, strange experiences—hard to get vision until you smoke black Bombay hash at top of the trip. That works!
But I will defend my obsession with vision. I think the world wants to be seen. I think Blake was right: that the divine imagination is something beheld. And for me the visions are the proof that this is not my mind. And the visions are the proof that this is not simply chemical chaos in the nervous system. I mean, how could chemical chaos give you something as breathtakingly beautiful and as ordered as the Sistine Chapel or the World Trade Center? The hallucinations are extraordinarily ordered and beautiful. And I think that this is the proof that are reaching beyond the confines of the human personality and even the human species. That this information—don’t ask me how—is somehow holographically deployed throughout space and you tune it in. You tune it in. So I care about vision, and if a drug doesn’t cause vision I tend to put it lower on my list.
I smoke a lot of cannabis. I think—that’s why I do cannabis: I can think on it. And I think several hours a day when I’m able to. But the visual thing is, for me, to be in the presence of the mystery, is to be in the presence of the hallucination. To me the word hallucination has no connotation of illusion. It comes from a Greek root, and what it means is “to wander in the mind.” That’s what hallucination is: it’s a wandering in the mind.
No, I took all kinds of doses. What dose of LSD did I take? I should be clear what I mean. I mean, yes on LSD. Even with eyes open, the little things that look like open fans that are going like, “Neek-neek-neek, neek-neek-neek” on wallpaper. But LSD never gave me these architectural [???] It lacks meaning. I couldn’t—the LSD hallucination looked to me like something in the optic nerve, not in the mind. They were more like ripples and concentric circles and flashes of light. So what you see on psilocybin are cities, faces, houses, machines—the stuff of cognitive processes at its most expressive.
Is it theoretically possible to develop your process to go to the point that you can go there without the drug?
I grant the possibility, but in my heart of hearts I don’t think so. The question is: can you get there on the natch? I get lots of resistance because I’m willing to say just flat out: no, no. And, you know, people are shocked that yoga and flagellation and being touched by poverty and whatever—I don’t know, I tried it all. And the other thing is: what I’m talking about you wouldn’t want to happen on the natch. These are states of serious discombobulation. These are not mood shifts or attitudes we’re talking about. I mean, if I woke up and I could do it on the natch, my first phone call would be to my friend Ralph Metzner, who’s a shrink. And I’d say, “Ralph, we’ve got a problem here.” This is [???] and again I’m a [???] here. I don’t know even who’s here or who I’m insulting. But let me unburden myself on this stuff.
Van Morrison put it very, very well: “No guru, no method, no teacher. Just you and me and mother nature, in the garden, in the garden wet with rain.” I think all religion is con games. I think that all esoterica is a con game. I think that the real secrets are self-protecting and that seeking is the way to find. And take yourself serious. You are the vessel, the stage, and the theater of your transformation. The mushroom is very explicit on that point to me, once. It said, and I quote, “For one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like a grain of sand on the beach seeking enlightenment from another grain of sand.” And my interpretation of that is that we’re all as good as the best among us. There is no hierarchy among human beings, you know? If you’ve got the chromosomes you’re into the game. And the test, then, is to accentuate primary experience—the here and now. Teaching [???] from far away, unsubstantiated rumors that circulate among the people. Magicians have always worked the marketplace. It’s older than Ur. But this kind of mystery is absolutely authentic. And having once found it, I stopped searching for other authentic mysteries. So I don’t know what lies behind the deeper levels of the Kālacakra Tantra, I don’t know what lies behind the inner secrets of Hawaiian Kahuna, but I do know that this one thing fulfills the bill. It’s real. And you only need one doorway to enter into the palace [???]. So why obsess about numbering doorways? That’s a [???].
I’ve actually never combined DMT and psilocybin. I have smoked DMT at the top of an LSD trip. That’s a young man’s game, believe me! If you’re interested in that, hurry up. It’s like climbing the Matterhorn. What happened to me—well, I did it several times but I’ll tell you a story that’s for your edification maybe; but amusement perhaps. I once—and no [???]—was a landlord in Berkley many years ago. And that’s sufficient. And everybody left one easter vacation or thanksgiving vacation, so I decided I would do this acid trip. I did plan to smoke DMT at the top of the trip. And so I did, and I did, and I had this very long involved DMT trip. And the elves and all of this was totally out of control. And at the very height of this thing this woman who I rented to upstairs (who I thought had gone home to Minneapolis) came back and arrived by cab, and came pounding up the stairs with these two suitcases, locked herself into her house and ran around to my bedroom door and beat on the door. And—you know, you don’t know me that well, but if I’m 500 miles up a jungle river smoking a joint and a stick cracks 50 feet away, the first thing I do is hide the joint. I’m a very paranoid person, being, you know, on 500 mics of acid, smoking DMT, and suddenly there’s this woman.
And I, literally, I like some kind of a coronary. And I leaped off my bed and I landed on my feet and—you know, if you want you may try this, something about this enormous flash of adrenalin added into the DMT, added in to this sudden incredible physical exertion, it was as though I ripped the membrane. I ripped the membrane. And I was now standing in my room, but I had dragged this trip through with me, and the room was full of elves, ricocheting off the floor. And they were hanging on me like weasels, [???] turning me around in the room. And also, simultaneously, one of these machines had been dragged through into my bedroom at the same time. And this was about the size, well, like this, and it had all kinds of this faceted and opalescent and glassy and strange—but what was important about it was: had a kind of a faceted top on it that was clicking, going ca-click, ca-click, ca-click. And every time it would click, it would launch a small plastic chip across the room that had an alien letter written on it. And these little plastic chips were ricocheting off the wall and piling up, and I was standing, appalled—appalled!—looking at this situation.
And then Rosemary [???]. So I stagger over to the door, which was a sliding wooden door, and I just threw it open and I looked at her and said, “Zeebee nik voyn digideen neegeegeekabe wook eek nungeebee de”. “Oh, so you’re doing that. Alright,” she said and backed up. And then I would slam the door back and I pushed my way across the room and I crawled under the bed. And I closed my eyes and I said, “I’m gonna stay here till I’m dead or it’s over.” And I did. But it was, it was, uh… I mean, what the? You know? You’re supposed to learn something [???] experience? It’s ridiculous!
Well, this thing which I’ve done several times this afternoon in various states, this language thing—that’s glossolalia. Called speaking in tongues. But the good news is the fundies don’t have any kind of monopoly on this. Speaking in tongues is as old as human beings. It’s shamanic, it’s paleolithic, and it’s done all over the world. And I think that—well, psilocybin will induce this spontaneously. And I think, to add to my little scenario yesterday about hunting, fucking, and tripping: you could also add in there talking. Probably long before the invention of what we call “meaning,” people amused each other with funny noises. And people would say, “Ooogh mee ghuhua,” like that. And somebody else would do it.
So, being physiologically set up for a production of small mouth noises, notice that language is a very primitive form of telepathy. Because here is how it works: I have an idea. I look in my dictionary. I translate the idea into what we call “English.” I then move my lips, throat muscles, and aspirate in a certain way, and I send an acoustical pressure wave across space which enters into the holes on the side of your head. Your brain reconstructs this acoustical wave and tries to match the incoming pattern against an interior dictionary which has been learned. Now, if your dictionary and my dictionary are congruent—lo and behold, you can reconstruct my thought in your mind. Now, if this thought is something fairly straightforward like “please shut the door,” ambiguity doesn’t enter. But notice that one of the most uncool things we can do with each other is to say to somebody, “Would you mind explaining to me what it was that you just said?” You know? Or: “Would you mind explaining me what it was that I just said?” And then they say, “Oh shit, now the cover is blown! I haven’t the faintest idea what you’ve been meaning.
So language—spoken language, small mouth noises—is a very imperfect way of communicating. This is why I think that the visual initiation in the DMT is: they cough up language. This is not the first initiation from the elves. The first initiation occurred 100,000 years ago. The second initiation is occurring now. First they gave us language. Now they’re going to show us how to make that language visible. And, you see, if you and I both read the same piece of the thin page of a boo,k we can then have an enormous argument about what’s written there. But if you and I both step into a place where a piece of sculpture is being exhibited, we may argue about what the piece of sculpture means, but we agree what it is. We see it. We see it. And when we communicate with each other and understand each other, we instinctively reach for visual metaphors: “I see what you mean.” “Look here, fella!” “She painted a picture.” “His words were so beautiful.” It means that we really associate meaning with seeing something.
And I believe that we’re on the brink of a transformation of how we communicate with each other. And I don’t know whether we are going to require a prosthesis that is electronic or something like that, or whether we can invent drugs which will allow the cerebral cortex to switch its linguistic analysis from the audio channel to the visual channel. It’s very suggestive that these tryptamines are in different parts of the brain. And I think that we’re on the brink of transforming our abilities to communicate.
Yeah. I mean, what was said was that using LSD and having used DMT, one can begin to trip into, you know, if you like dimensions on LSD. This certainly seems reasonable to me. I haven’t had had that specific experience. But there is something you can do with psilocybin. Here’s another technique if you don’t like what’s happening on a mushroom trip. Just say to it: “Be MDMA,” and it will. No problem. You can say to it: “Be LSD.” And it will. It has no problem.
I didn’t try that. You want to be sure before you summon the genies. Let me say one more thing about this language thing, because I think nature is always our model. No matter how deep into technology we go, nature will provide nontoxic models. Well, it just so happens that in this area of communication nature has provided a wonderful nontoxic model, and that is the way in which squids and octopi communicate. Squids and octopi, as you know from watching far too much TV, can change color. You may think that this is camouflage. It’s not camouflage. Octopi change color in order to communicate. Octopi don’t generate language, they are language. Think of an octopus: its soft body, it can fold and unfold itself like a dancer and expose various parts of its body very rapidly. It also can make its body tissue smooth and rubbery or rugose and rough, and it can undergo all these color changes—blotches, stripes, spreading pastels, so forth and so on.
These behaviors of the octopus are under the genetic control of its linguistic intentionality. It doesn’t make words, it becomes words. And when one octopus encounters an other, by the mere act of beholding each other they say, “Aha! You haven’t eaten recently. You’re having too much sex. You’ve been traveling.” And so forth and so on. The octopus becomes its thought. It wears language on its surface the way we wear our clothing. And this system of communication is so important to the octopus that those species that have evolved in the very deep part of the ocean—so-called abyssal octopi, where no light ever reaches—have evolved phosphorescent organs all over bodies and eyelid-like membranes all over their bodies. So that, in the absolute darkness of the abyssal ocean, they communicate by flashing grammar and syntax to each other across the abyssal depth. They are free in the imagination. And this is where we’re headed. We’re going to make that model of communication our model. Psychedelics, technology, and visionary magic will show how this can be done.
No you’re right. The human faith is like this.
That’s right. You see, no other animal has faith. A faith is like a little piece of squid skin that we’re wearing where we can transmit all of these. One time I was in India and I was cornered by this guy—I was loaded, actually, on mescaline—and this guy swam aboard my houseboat. And normally I just would run these guys off because they were thieves and beggars. But I was so loaded that I couldn’t do anything but sit there. And this guy came up to me and sat down across from me and looked at me, and after a few minutes he said, “Face is index of mind.” And I said, “Ranji, I can’t be interrogated now.” But it was this thing. He could see. Face is index of mind. My mind was swirling, visibly, there.
Well, I think we’ve come to the end of the road. I very much enjoyed being at Starwood. I consider myself a pagan. You haven’t seen much of me because I also consider myself a hermit. And how a hermit got stuck with preaching in the marketplace, I’m not entirely clear. But thank you very much for having me, and I hope to see you all downstream sooner or later. Thank you very much!