DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is the most powerful and fast-acting of the tryptamine class of hallucinogens. After smoking DMT users regularly report fantastic trips to other dimensions and conversations with intelligent alien life forms. Meyer outlines DMT usage, pharmacology, mythology and occult application, including shamanic uses. He also presents fascinating anecdotal material regarding DMT “alien contact.” Materials from DMT researchers Terence McKenna, Gracie and Zarkov, and dozens of other correspondences are included, providing clues to deciphering the DMT “hyperspace” state.
…and in search for answers people have feared to place
themselves on the line and to actually wrestle with life and
death out there in those strange, bardo-like dimensions, not
realizing that there is no other way to win true knowledge…
– – Terence McKenna – – (Psilocybin and the Sands of Time)
In this article I wish to draw attention to a strange property of the tryptamine psychedelics, especially N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which sets them apart from other psychedelics, namely, their ability to place users in touch with a realm that is apparently inhabited by discarnate entities of an intelligent nature. The investigation of such a possibility clearly takes us to (and perhaps beyond) the fringes of what is considered scientifically acceptable. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of apparent alien contact is so impressive to those who have experienced it, and the implications of such contact are so radical, that the evidence deserves serious investigation.
The term “psychedelic” may be understood to denote a class of substances whose primary effect is to alter consciousness in an ego-transcending manner so that the experience of a person whose neurochemistry is altered by such a substance is enhanced and expanded in comparison with ordinary experience. This enhancement and expansion may be emotional, intellectual, intuitive, sensory, spiritual or somatic. The qualification that the experience involve a tendency to ego- transcendence is added partly to distinguish substances such as LSD and MDMA from stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine and partly because it is one of the more remarkable properties of psychedelics that, by their means, we may enter mythological and spiritual dimensions not normally the concern of our everyday selves.
Psychedelics may be classified most easily in two ways: according to their effect on consciousness or according to their chemical structure. The former is difficult to quantify, and the data here tends to be of a literary nature (e.g., Horowitz ). Due to the regrettable proscription of the use of psychedelics in many countries, and to the suppression of research in this field, not much has been published during the last 20 years regarding the effects of psychedelics on consciousness. With the increasing recognition in more enlightened societies of the potential value of psychedelics we may hope to see a renewal of publication in this area.
The structural classification lends itself to quantitative scientific investigation. From such work as has been permitted in this field it seems that, for the most part, “hallucinogens are divided into two separate categories. The first…covers the substituted phenylalkylamines, with the prototype for these structures being mescaline. The second category includes indole-based compounds, including various substituted tryptamines, beta-carbolines, and LSD.” (Nichols , p. 97) Not all psychedelics fall into these two categories. Ketamine is clearly a psychedelic but is structurally unrelated to the phen-ethylamines or to the tryptamines.
The most well-known psychedelic tryptamines consist of DMT and three variations on it:
Psilocybin is converted to psilocin in the body. The corresponding diethyltryptamine analogs are similarly psychoactive (and reportedly longer lasting). Psychoactivity has been reported in a-methyltryptamine (Murphree [791), 4-methoxy-DMT and 5-methoxy-a-methyltryptamine (Nichols [811) and bufotenine, which is 5hydroxy-DMT (Fabing and Turner [1261). 6-hydroxy-DMT has been reported as one of the excretory metabolites of DMT (Szara ). A review of the literature will reveal a considerable number of other tryptamine derivatives which either are known to be or may be psychoactive.
Although LSD is not a tryptamine, its molecular structure includes that of the tryptamine molecule. We cannot thereby simply classify it as a tryptamine psychedelic because its molecular structure also includes that of some psychedelic phenethylamines such as ?,5-dimethoxy-4-methyl-amphetamine (DOM) (Nichols , p. 114). Nevertheless, LSD is usually classified with the tryptamine psychedelics and seems more closely related to them because it is more readily displaced from receptor sites by the tryptamines than by the phenethylamines.
DMT has been found to occur naturally in mammalian brains (Barker  and Christian [171). “Indolealkylamines… are the only known hallucinogenic agents whose endogenous occurrence in mammals, including man, has been confirmed” (McKenna ). Szara says that it “seems that the whole enzymatic apparatus exists in mammals which can produce tryptamine from tryptophane, DMT from tryptamine and 6- HDMT [the probably hallucinogenic 6-hydroxy-DMT] from DMT.”
The question as to what function DMT and related substances have in the mammalian body has not yet received a definite answer. DMT is structurally similar to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) which is well-known as a neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. It has been suggested that DMT is also a neurotransmitter, but this has not been established. Strassman  has presented evidence that psychoactive tryptamines are produced indigenously by the pineal gland and are related to the metabolism of the pineal hormone melatonin. Clearly much research in this area remains to be done,
The history of human involvement with DMT probably goes back many thousands of years since DMT usage is associated with South American shamanism. Stafford  mentions that the “Spanish friar Ram6n Paul, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, was the first to record native use of … ‘kohhobba’ to communicate with the spirit world” (p. 310). A series of distinguished ethnobotanists eventually established that the psychoactive ingredients of these native snuffs (known under various names, including cohoba, yopo, and epana) were obtained from plants such as Anadenanthera macrocarpa, formerly peregrina (Schultes  and Harner [481). Chemists then showed that the active ingredients consisted of various tryptamine derivatives, especially DMT, 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenine (Holmstedt [:55]and Fish 1251). “These and related indolealkylamines have been have been detected in members of at least five different plant families” (Nichols , p. 120).
Plant tryptamines are also used by Amazonian shamans in the form of ayahuasca, a dark Liquid formed by boiling sections of a vine from the Banisteriopsis genus, usually B. caapi (Rivier [881). This vine contains harmala alkaloids, in particular, harmine and harmaline, which are sufficient in themselves to induce visions. Usually another plant is added to the brew “to make the visions more intense” (according to the native shamans). This additional plant is often Psychotria Viridis, a plant which contains DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. Although the DMT content of ayahuasca is sometimes thought to derive solely from the additives, Stafford  reports that the leaves and stems of one species of Banisteriopsis, B. rusbyana, “have a large amount of N,N-DMT, 5-methoxy-N,N-DMT, 5-hydroxy-N,N-DMT [bufotenine] N-P-methyltetrahydro-P-carboline.”
DMT is not by itself orally active (in doses of up to one gram), since it is broken down in the gut by the enzyme monoamineoxidase (MAO). This breakdown may be prevented by the presence of an MAO inhibitor, allowing the DMT to enter the blood and reach the brain. Ayahuasca contains an MAO- inhibitor, namely, the P-carbolines derived from the B. caapi vine.
Ayahuasca is frequently consumed at night by a group of people (Kensinger and McKenna [691), although there are large variations in its mode of usage among the Indian tribes of the Amazon. Currently the use of ayahuasca among Indians in the Amazon is declining due to the destruction of traditional tribal cultures. This lends an urgency to the preservation of the knowledge associated with its use, a knowledge which concerns not only the preparation and use of ayahuasca but also the manner in which the experiences of the practitioner are to be interpreted. In Brazil there is an interesting religious organization known as Santo daime, whose members use ayahuasca within a Catholic/Christian context .
Stafford  mentions that DMT was first synthesized in 1931 by the British chemist Richard Manske (who was also the first to synthesize harmaline, in 1927), and that “Albert Hofmann synthesized a series of DMT analogs, but little attention was paid to this work until the mid-1960s.”
In the 1950s and 60s some researchers experimented with tryptamine hallucinogens injected intramuscularly. The first to publish in English on this subject seems to have been the Hungarian investigator Stephen Szara, while working for the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC. (For some reason most of the earliest researchers appear to have been Hungarians.) Szara published on DMT as early as 1956, and produced a series of at least 11 papers on the harmacology of the Alkylated tryptamines during the next 11 years. Writing in 1961 he said:
I became interested in the possibility of hallucinogenic action of alkylated tryptamine derivatives in 1955, when I read about the chemical analysis of a snuff powder prepared by Haitian natives from Piptadenia Peregrina seeds which they used in religious ceremonies to Produce mystical states of mind which enabled them to communicate with their gods… [C]hemical analysis… revealed the presence of bufotenin and a small amount of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). (Szara [1141)
Szara administered 75 mg of DMT intramuscularly to himself and experienced intense visions. He established “that intramuscular injection of 50 to 60 mg of DMT brought about intense visual displays… within five minutes. These reached peak effects within a quarter of an hour, diminishing and then disappearing totally within half an hour… Subjects became catatonic or lost consciousness when given doses larger than 125 mg.” (Stafford , p. 314)
During the early 1960s the Southern California psychiatrist Oscar Janiger administered DMT to many subjects. The data and conclusions from these studies remain unpublished. One time he administered to himself an excessive dose and described the result as “terrible — like being inside a gigantic pinball machine with lights going on and off everywhere” .
In the 1950s William Burroughs and Alien Ginsberg journeyed to South America in search of the ayahuasca experience. They wrote about this in The yage Letters . Later Burroughs, like Janiger, injected an overdose (100 mg) of synthetic DMT and had a “horrible experience.”
Timothy Leary heard of DMT from Alien Ginsberg and contacted Burroughs, who warned him of the perils of this substance. Undaunted, Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner began to experiment, and discovered that the DMT experience, although intense, was manageable and very interesting. Leary published in 1966 an article discussing DMT and giving, in his usual style, an extremely positive account of what he experienced following an iv. injection of 60 mg ().
This article by Leary and Metzner caused a wave of interest in DMT among many in the counterculture. About this time came the discovery that DMT evaporated onto oregano, parsley leaves or marijuana and then smoked could produce effects similar to those from injections, except that they occurred almost immediately and disappeared more rapidly. (, p. 315)
There is a certain art to smoking DMT to produce a significant effect which is only acquired with practice. Some who have tried it have not experienced its full effect; others have found it too much to handle. It is indeed not a drug for “party trippers,” but only for those who “take drugs seriously.” Smoking DMT has been compared by some novice tokers to parachuting at night into the midst of a tribe of frenzied New Guinea natives at the height of an elaborate war-dance.
Carlos Castaneda gives an account of his terrifying experience with something that (apparently in December 1963) Don Juan gave him to smoke (, pp. 151-157). Although Castaneda does not identify the substance, one cannot help but wonder whether it contained a psychedelic tryptamine.
[Castaneda:] “But what does the smoke teach then?”
[Don Juan:] “It shows you how to handle its power, and to learn that you must take it as many times as you can.”
[Castaneda:] “Your ally is very frightening, Don Juan. It was unlike anything I ever experienced before. I thought I had lost my mind.”
…Don Juan discarded my simile, saying that what I felt was its unimaginable power. And to handle that power, he said, one has to live a strong life…. He said that smoke is so strong one can match it only with strength; otherwise one’s life would be shattered to bits. (, pp. 160-161)
In its Pure form DMT is a white powder. If it has not been completely purified during the synthetic process it may be encountered as a pale orange waxy material. Dose levels mentioned in this article refer to Pure DMT unless otherwise noted.
The amount of DMT needed to Produce significant Psychic effects when smoked is 5 mg to 20 mg, there being considerable variation in individual reaction. Some people have had “profound” effects with as little as 10 mg. A moderate dose is 20-25 mg, with 40-50 mg a large dose. A very large dose (e.g., 75 mg) will normally lead to loss of consciousness.
Stafford writes of DMT, DET (diethyltryptamine) and DPT (dipropyltryptamine) that “More often [compared to injection], these tryptamines are smoked because less is needed to feel the effects… The DMT peak lasts for three to ten minutes, and it’s all over in twenty to thirty minutes. DET and DMT, which have more subtle effects than DMT, may take a few minutes to register… DET lasts about an hour when smoked; the most intense part of a DPT experience is over in about twenty minutes.” (, p. 322)
Several different methods may be used to smoke DMT, and there are differences of opinion as to their efficiency. “Some users prefer to smoke a compound like DMT… in a small glass pipe. A small amount of the crystals or oil is placed in the bowl and then slowly heated until fumes begin to fill the pipe…. A regular pipe covered with a fine screen can be used.” (Stafford [1081) In this method the DMT should be spread over some plant material such as mint leaves, parsley, marijuana or mullein (which is smoked by asthmatics to clear bronchial passages); a flame is held over the bowel and the vaporized DMT is inhaled deeply. It is usually advisable to do this under the guidance of a person who is experienced in this practice.
When smoked, one or two deep inhalations may be sufficient in the case of some people to cause Profound effects very quickly, whereas others may require up to four or five inhalations for full effect. One should be in a position to lie or to lean back comfortably, since the effects of smoking a large amount (e.g., 30-40 mg) are usually physically incapacitating. Some favor a sitting position. As noted above, the effect is most intense in the first few minutes, and mostly wears off after about ten minutes. Since DMT occurs naturally in the human brain there are probably homeostatic mechanisms for regulating the concentration of DMT, which would explain the rapidity with which the effects wear off.
DMT has been extensively tested both in the U.S. and in Europe and is apparently quite safe in normal subjects. The only case of a severely adverse reaction which has been reported in the literature is that of a woman who received 40 mg intramuscularly and who “suddenly developed an extremely rapid heart rate 12 minutes after the injection; no pulse could be obtained; no blood pressure could be measured. There seemed to have been an onset of auricular fibrillation.” (Turner , p. 127) However, this woman was schizophrenic and at the time of the injection had been extremely tense and apprehensive.
I am informed that to Pursue DMT experimentation safely one should have good cardiovascular health and avoid drugs and foods which increase heart rate and blood pressure by direct stimulation of the heart or by vasoconstriction. DMT should not be used by anyone who is taking MAO inhibiting drugs.
The subjective effects of a good lungful of DMT are usually very intense, with consciousness usually overwhelmed by visual imagery. With eyes closed this may take the form of extremely complex, dynamic, geometric patterns, changing rapidly. Such a dose of DMT may produce a visual pattern consisting of overlapping annular patterns of small rhomboid elements all in saturated hues of red, yellow, green and blue. Gracie & Zarkov  refer to this, or something similar, as “the chrysanthemum pattern.” The pattern itself seems to be charged with a Portentous energy.
The state of consciousness characterized by amazing visual patterns seems to be a prelude to a more Profound state, which subjects report as contact with entities described as discarnate, nonhuman or alien. A very articulate account of the subjective effects of smoking DMT is given by Terence McKenna in his talk Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness , in which he recounts his contact with what he calls “elves.”
As usual with tryptamine psychedelics there is normally no loss of ego, although large doses will produce unconsciousness. There is often loss of body awareness. It is usually possible to think under the influence of DMT, but with larger doses it may become difficult to hold a thought, and sometimes confusion will occur.
With a fully effective dose (e.g., 25 mg), the experience is usually so bizarre that an inexperienced person may believe that he or she has died, or is dying, especially if body awareness is lost. If this belief arises then it is important to remember that one will survive and return to ordinary consciousness. In general, yielding to the temptation to believe that one has died is not helpful when navigating psychedelic states since the resultant anxiety will usually distract one from a scientific observation of what is going on. More experienced users, knowing that hitherto they have always survived, however weird the experience, can learn not to succumb to this anxiety.
5. Personal reports As regards the nature of the DMT experience, we are still at the Baconian, data-gathering, stage. Before going on to offer some generalizations and speculation I shall here present some descriptions of DMT experiences, especially insofar as they relate to the question of contact with discarnate entities. Because the use of DMT is still illegal in certain countries whose governments do not yet recognize a person’s natural right to modify his or her consciousness in whatever way desired, the authors of these reports shall for now remain anonymous.
Subject S (no previous experience with DMT; written communication):
My first attempts with DMT have left me with some serious thoughts… I did less than 10 mg on my second attempt and had a very weird experience. Not only did I have what I can only call a “close encounter,” I was left with two thoughts. First, they were waiting for me, and they were not “friendly.”… ion the] third attempt lit] seemed like they could not wait for me to experiment. In this event, I did not have actual contact, but rather “felt” them wanting to get into my consciousness. The actual experience was far more frightening than any major “trip” previously experienced…. I was profoundly affected.
Subject O (description of first DMT experience; written communication):
Remember to breathe. Recline and get into position, subsumed by the momentum; before me I see an irridescent membrane, taut and gently pulsating, something stretching and pushing towards me, on the other side, straining to emerge. fissure rends, tears and inside I glimpse the existence of something/place consisting of a dense whirling body of brilliantly multicolored primordial life/thought stuff, seeping and beckoning… I breathe and return into the plexus, center of my being, to witness myself as an outline-constructed 2-0 diagramatic shell of many coherent light-points, revolving quadrated vortices, large central to smaller and then tiny outer, phosphorescent green and I… enter into utter emptiness, space matrix…. [I]mpression of basic colors, unmuted blue, yellow and red, shimmering into being depth imperceptible yet defined within the space, endlessly recurring back from/into the corner when, slowly, from around the edges they peer towards me, watching eyes bright and watching in small faces, then small hands to pull themselves, slowly, from behind and into view; they are small white-blond imp-kids, very old in bright, mostly red, fogs and caps; candy-store, shiny, teasing and inquisitive, very solemn and somewhat pleased (ah, here you are!) watching me as I meet only their eyes bright and dark without any words (look!) or any idea remembered they only want to convey (look!) through their eyes that I must know that THIS is what they/we are doing…
Subject O (second DMT experience; written communication):
…I found myself once again in the company of the “elves, ” as the focus of their attention and ministrations, but they appeared much less colorful and altogether preoccupied with the task at hand, i.e., pouring a golden, viscous liquid through a network of long, inter- twining, transparent conduits which led into the middle of my abdomen…
Subject G (very experienced with DMT; Gracie , #5):
We each had taken 150 mg of pure MDA…. About hour 4, 1 decided to try smoking some DMT…. This time I saw the “elves” as multi– dimensional creatures formed by strands of visible language; they were more creaturely than I had ever seen them before…. The elves were dancing in and out of the multidimensional visible language matrix, “waving” their “arms” and “limbs/hands/fingers?” and “smiling” or “laughing, ” although I saw no faces as such. The elves were “telling” me (or I was understanding them to say) that I had seen them before, in early childhood. Memories were flooding back of seeing the elves: they looked just like they do now: evershifting,, folding, multidimensional, multicolored (what colors!), always laughing weaving/waving, showing me things, showing me the visible language they are created/creatures of, teaching me to speak and read.
Subject T (several previous DMT experiences; verbal communication):
I saw a tunnel, which I flew down at great speed. I approached the end of the tunnel, which was closed by two doors on which was written: THE END. I burst through these and was carried up through seven heavens, breaking through each one in turn. When I emerged at the top I was flying over a dark landscape (it seemed to be Mexico). I felt that this was all so weird that I should be scared (perhaps I had died), but I did not feel scared. I continued to fly on, over a ravine, leading up to a mountainside, and eventually saw a campfire. As I approached this, cautiously, I saw that on the other side of the fire was a human figure wearing a sombrero, whom I intuitively knew to be Don Juan. He invited me to come closer, and spoke to me.
Subject V (very experienced with DMT; verbal communication):
I was in a large space and saw what seemed to be thousands of the entities. They were rapidly passing something to and fro among themselves, and were looking intently at me, as if to say “See what we are doing” … I noticed what seemed to be an opening into a large space, like looking through a cave opening to a starry sky. As I approached this I saw that resting in the opening was a large crea- ture, with many arms, somewhat like an octopus, and all over the arms were eyes, mostly closed, as if the creature were asleep or slumbering. As I approached it the eyes opened, and it/they became aware of me. It did not seem especially well-disposed towards me, as if it did not wish to be bothered by a mere human, and I had the impression ! wasn’t going to get past it, so I did not try.
Subject M (several previous DMT experiences; written report; each of the following paragraphs in this section is a description of a separate experience):
(i) It was not until my fifth DMT trip that I became aware of alien contact. I took two inhalations from a mixture of 75 mg of DMT wax (less than 100″/0 pure) and mullein. The visual hallucination was experienced as overwhelming, totally amazing, incredible and unbelievable. I could only surrender to the experience, reminding myself that I would survive and attempt to deal with the sense that what I was seeing was completely impossible. I wondered whether this was what dying was like and reassured myself, through noting my breathing, that I wits still alive. What I was experiencing was happening too quickly to comprehend. At one point I suddenly became aware of beings,, who were rapdily flitting about me. They appeared as dark, stick-like beings silhouetted against a rapidly- changing kaleidoscopic background. Although I could not make out much detail, I definitely feIt their presence.
(ii) On the sixth occasion I took two inhalations of about 35 ms of pure DMT in a glass pipe. Immediately upon closing my eyes I was overwhelmed by visual hallucination. This seemed to last but briefly, whereupon I passed abruptly through to another realm, los- ing all awareness Of my body. II was as if there were alien beings there waiting for me, and I recall that they spoke to me as if they had been awaiting my arrival, but I cannot remember exactly what was said. This time, rather than (or as well as) flitting about me, the entities approached me from the front, rapidly and repeatedly, appearing to enter and pass through me. I could make no sense of what was happening. I opened my eyes and made contact with my companions, locating myself once move in the room from which had begun. Immediately I completely forgot what I had just experienced. The contents of the room appeared stable but weirdly distorted. I was able to recognize and to talk to my companions, but I felt and appeared very disoriented. …. The memory of this experience came back only when, Inter that evening, I smoked the remainder of what was left in the pipe — not enough to break through, but enough for me to remember….
(iii) …I got deeply into the visual hallucination. I was barely able to remind and to reassure myself that “DMT is safe,” though I had some difficulty recalling tire name “DMT. With eyes closed, I experienced intense, overwhelming visual imagery. I was seeing a large, extremely colorful surface, like a membrane, pulsating toward and away from me. …I recalled that I had seen this before, on previous DMT trips, but had forgotten it. During this experience I was aware of my breathing and heartbeat, and was careful to continue breathing deeply. The pattern was in intense hues, and its parts seemed to have meaning, as if they were letters of an alphabet, but I could not make sense of it. I was quite amazed. I felt that I was being shown something, and I tried to understand what I was seeing, but could not. I also heard elf-language, but it was not meaningful to me. Eventually the visions subsided with no breakthrough and no overt alien contact.
(iv) ! smoked at around 2 a.m. with little effect and some vaguely unpleasant visual hallucination (harlequin-like gargoyles?). This might have been due to being tired and to having eaten substantially a few hours before. There was a sense of alien presence. Upon awakening next morning I noticed that my electronic alarm clock, while obviously still “ticking,” had stopped at the time I had been smoking the previous night. I have never known the clock to stop in this way before or since.
(v) Smoked 40-50 mg of DMT wax. …An overwhelming and con- fusing experience. My heart rate seemed to go way up, which caused me some concern. I had to remind myself that one does not die from smoking DMT. The experience was disjointed and erratic. There were white flashes, like subtitles in a film, except that they were not verbal but rather like a white-energy-being rushing quickly through the scene from left to right (what I now think of as “the white lightning being”). There was a strange, incomprehensible auditory hallucination. Confusing and unpleasant. I reflected that this is what hell might be like (good practice for hell: stay calm and try to observe what is happening).
(vi) Upon lying back I became aware of brightly colored, moving patterns, which I remembered having seen before on DMT (but having forgotten about — indeed even now, a half-hour later, I cannot recall them clearly). I was then immersed in a totally weird state, like being in a large multicolored hall whose walls (if it had walls) were moving incomprehensibly. …Apart from occasional awareness of my breathing I was hardly aware of my body at all. I seemed to be in another world, disembodied, and feeling flabbergasted. I seemed to be aware of the presence of other beings in the same space, but had only fleeting glimpses of them, as if they were shy about appearing to me. In this state I did not know what to do. It was as if I was offered a wish by the dragon but dill not understand what was being offered — or even that there was a dragon at all. Throughout there was elf-music, and elf-language in the background. I did not attend much to this since the visual effects were so overwhelming. As the influence of the DMT wore off I felt myself losing contact with this state and I knew that I would forget what was happening. It felt as if there were beings “waving goodbye. ”
(vii) I smoked 40 mg of pure DMT mixed with some marijuana. …I quickly entered into the trance state without noticing any great amount of the usual patterned visual hallucination. …I seemed to be falling away, spiraling into some large, black void, after which I seemed to be in a bright, open space in the presence of two other beings. Their forms were not very clear, but they seemed to be like children, as if we were together in a playground. They appeared to be moving very rapidly….The two beings seemed to be frying to attract my attention, and to communicate something to me, but I could not understand. It was as if they were trying to make me understand where I was. One even seemed to be holding up a sign, like a speech balloon, but, as I recall, the sign was blank. I attended to my breathing, and with this came an increased sense of serf- identity, and with this a lessening of contact with the two beings.
(viii) Smoked 40 mg spread over mint leaves, in three tokes, sifting upright. 1Lly intention was to see what spirits, if any,, are currently about me. As the experience came upon me I managed to keep that intention, or at least, “What spirits…'” and also remembered to breathe regularly. A strange state of mind ensued, one of dynamic, patterned energy, in which I was not sure whether I was perceiving a scene, with a moving being, or not. I finally realized that the answer to my question regarding spirits was that there were indeed many around me, and that they were merry, hiding and playing a joke on me. However, I did not specifically see or hear any.
(ix) Smoked 40 mg of DMT wax spread over mint leaves as usual, sifting up leaning against a pillow….As the trance came on I was overwhelmed with visual imagery that I did not even attempt to make sense of. I struggled to remember who I was…..[I]] turned my attention to the visual component, and what I saw was an incredible amount of stuff coming at me in waves, sort of rolling toward me. There were two beings in the scene, and they were doing the rolling, definitely throwing all this stuff at me — I don’t know why. The scene changed, and there was more visual hallucination, but I don ‘t remember the details — all happening very quickly.
Based upon these reports and others I tentatively put forward the following classification of levels of experience associated with the effects of smoking DMT. This classification should be tested in the light of further reports, in particular those resulting from an experiment currently being conducted involving the administration of DMT via i.v. injection to about a dozen subjects. (Strassman )
Level I: Pre-hallucinatory experience.
This stage is characterized by an interior flowing of energy/consciousness. It may be extremely intense. It may have a positive feeling content.
Level II: Vivid, brilliantly colored, geometric visual hallucinations.
Here one is observing a patterned field, basically two- dimensional, although it may have a pulsating quality. One may remember having seen this before.
Transitional Phase (Level IIB?): tunnel or breakthrough experience.
One may see or fly through a tunnel (a Passage to the next level). A veil may part, a membrane may be rent. There is a breakthrough to another world (or perhaps even a series of breakthroughs).
Alternatively, it may also happen that the transition from Level II to Level III is abrupt, almost instantaneous, with no experience of transition.
Level III: Three- or higher-dimensional space, possible contact with en titles.
This stage is characterized by the experience of being in an “objective” space, that is, a space of at least three dimensions in which objects or entities may be encountered. Sometimes the entities appear to be intelligent and communicating beings. This stage may be extremely energetic with an experience of everything happening incomprehensibly fast. Alternatively it may be relatively coherent. Travel is possible at Level III. One may, for example, assume the form and consciousness of a bird, and fly as a bird does (cf. Castaneda , pp. 191-196). The limits of this stage, if any, are unknown. There may be transitions to further stages.
Although the amazing geometrical visual hallucinations experienced under the influence of DMT are sufficient in themselves to command attention among students of psychedelics, the really interesting part of the experience is be the apparent contact with alien beings. Since some may feel reluctant to admit the possible existence of alien beings getting in contact with DMT-modified humans, we should consider all hypotheses that might explain the observations, or at least, be consistent with them.
Several questions can be distinguished. Firstly, there is the question of the independent reality of the entities. Subjects report experiences of contact with communicating beings whose independent existence at the time seems self-evident. These experiences are not described as dream-like. If the entities have an existence independent of the DMT- influenced subject, then a realm of existence has been discovered which is quite other than the consensus reality which most of us assume is the only real world.
Such a discovery of “a separate reality” would directly challenge the foundations of the modern Western view of the world. I was tempted to say that it would be the most revolutionary change in our nderstanding of reality since the fish crawled out on land, but this would be overlooking the fact that the world view of the modern West is a comparatively recent invention, stemming mainly from the rise of materialist science in recent centuries. Earlier cultures had, and non- Western cultures still have, more expansive views of the extent of reality.
Secondly, regardless of whether the entities are independently-existing or have no existence beyond the experience of the subject, what are they seen as and seen to be doing? What is happening, for example, when some subjects (e.g., Subject V) report seeing thousands of these entities simultaneously? Even more interesting is the phenomenon of communication, or attempted communication, which many subjects report (e.g., Subjects O, G, T and M). Some subjects also report seeing the entities communicating with each other, in some kind of mutual exchange — but of what?
Thirdly, the matter can be approached from the point of view of neuropharmacology. What exactly is going on when those DMT molecules get in there among the neurons of the brain, causing it to function in what appears subjectively to be a radically different manner?
Listed below are eight suggested interpretations of the DMT experience which imply answers (true or false) to some or all of the questions raised above. Some of these, like the experience itself, are bizarre, but at this stage any idea should be considered since in this matter the truth (to paraphrase J.B.S. Haldane) probably is not only stranger than we suppose but stranger than we can suppose.
(i) There are no alien entities at all; it’s merely subjective hallucination. The DMT state may be interesting, even extremely interesting, but really there are no independently-existing alien entities to be found.
(ii) DMT provides access to a Parallel or higher dimension, a truly alternate reality which is, in fact, inhabited by independently-existing intelligent entities forming (in the words of Terence McKenna) “an ecology of souls.”
(iii) DMT allows awareness of processes at a cellular or even atomic level. DMT smokers are tapping into the network of cells in the brain or even into communication among molecules themselves. It might even be an awareness of quantum mechanical processes at the atomic or subatomic level.
(iv) DMT is, perhaps, a neurotransmitter in reptilian brains and in the older, reptilian parts of mammalian brains, Flooding the human brain with DMT causes the older reptilian parts of the brain to dominate consciousness, resulting in a state of awareness which appears totally alien (and sometimes very frightening) to the everyday monkey mind.
(v) A non-human intelligent species created humans by genetic modification of existing primate stock then retreated, leaving behind biochemical methods for contacting them. The psychedelic tryptamines are chemical keys that activate certain programs in the human brain that were placed there intentionally by this alien species.
(vi) The realm to which DMT provides access is the world of the dead. The entities experienced are the souls, or personalities, of the departed, which retain some kind of life and ability to communicate. The realm of dead souls, commonly accepted by cultures and societies other than that of the modern West, is now accessible using DMT.
(vii) The entities experienced are beings from another time who have succeeded in mastering the art of time travel, not in a way which allows materialization but in a way which allows them to communicate with conscious beings such as ourselves.
(viii) The entities are probes from an extraterrestrial or an extradimensional species, sent out to make contact with organisms such as ourselves who are able to manipulate their nervous systems in a way which allows communication to take place.
These hypotheses can be expanded and are, of course, vulnerable to objections. No doubt other hypotheses are possible. These matters will not be resolved until we have more data with which to test these and other hypotheses.
In this section and the following one I shall present a view which elaborates upon interpretations (ii), (vi) and(vii). This is speculation but nevertheless provides a preliminary framework for steps toward an understanding of what the use of DMT reveals to us.
The world of ordinary, common, experience has three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension, forming a place and time for the apparent persistence of solid objects. Since this is a world of experience it belongs more to experience than to being. The being, or ontological nature, of this world may be quite different from what we experience it as. Psychedelic experience strongly suggests that (as William James hypothesized) ordinary experience is an island in a sea of possible modes of consciousness. Under the influence of substances such as LSD and psilocybin we venture outside of the world as commonly viewed and enter spaces which may be very strange indeed. This happens as a result of hanging our brain chemistry. Why then should we not regard ordinary experience too as a result of a particular mode of brain chemistry? Perhaps the world of ordinary experience is not a faithful representation of physical reality but rather is physical reality represented in the manner of ordinary brain functioning. By taking this idea seriously we may free our understanding of physical reality from the limitations imposed by the unthinking assumption that ordinary experience represents physical reality as it is. In fact physical reality may be totally bizarre and quite unlike anything we have thought it to be.
In his special theory of relativity, Albert Einstein demonstrated that the physical world (the world that can be measured by physical instruments, but is assumed to exist independently) is best understood as a four-dimensional space which may be separated into three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension in various ways, the particular separation depending on the motion of a hypothetical observer. It seems that DMT releases one’s consciousness from the ordinary experience of space and time and catapults one into direct experience of a four-dimensional world. This explains the feeling of incredulity which first-time users frequently report.
The DMT realm is described by some as “incredible,” “bizarre,” “unbelievable” and even “impossible,” and for many who have experienced it these terms are not an exaggeration. These terms make sense if the world experienced under DMT is a four-dimensional world experienced by a mind which is trying to make sense of it in terms of its usual categories of three-dimensional space and one-dimensional time. In the DMT state these categories no longer apply to whatever it is that is being experienced.
Some Persons report that it seems that in the DMT experience there is information transfer of some sort. If so, and if this information is quite unlike anything that we are used to dealing with (at least at a conscious level), then it may be that the bizarre quality of the experience results from attempting to impose categories of thought which are quite inapplicable. The space that one breaks through to under the influence of a large dose of DMT has been called “hyperspace” by Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham  and by Gracie & Zarkov . I suggest that hyperspace is an experience of physical reality which is “closer” to it (or less mediated) than is our ordinary experience. In hyperspace one has direct experience of the four-dimensionality of physical reality. Parenthetically we may note a mildly interesting case of historical anticipation. In 1897 one H.C. Geppinger published a book entitled DMT: Dimensional Motion Times , an appropriate title for our current subject. However, he was, of course, quite unaware of what the initials “DMT” would later come to mean.
When reflecting upon his mescaline experiences Aldous Huxley suggested that there was something, which he called “Mind-at-Large,” which was filtered by the ordinary functioning of the human brain to Produce ordinary experience. One may view the human body and the human nervous system as a cybernetic system for constructing a stable representation of a world of enduring objects which are able to interact in ways that we are familiar with from our ordinary experience. This is analogous to a computer’s production of a stable video display — for even a simple blinking cursor requires complicated coordination of underlying physical processes to make it happen. In a sense we are (or at least may be thought of as) biological computers whose typical output is the world of everyday reality (as we experience it). When our biocomputational processes are modified by strange chemicals we have the opportunity to view the reality underlying ordinary experience in an entirely new way.
Einstein’s four-dimensional space-time may thus turn out to be not merely a flux of energetic point-events but to be (or to be contained in a higher-dimensional space which is) at least as organized as our ordinary world and which contains intelligent, communicating beings capable of interacting with us. As Hamlet remarked to his Aristotelian tutor, following an encounter with a dead soul (his deceased father), “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Should we be surprised to find that there are more intelligent, communicating, beings in the higher-dimensional reality underlying our ordinary experience than we find within that experience?
Hyperspace, as it is revealed by DMT (revealed to some, anyway) appears to be full of personal entities. They are non- physical in the sense that they are not objects in the three- dimensional space to which we are accustomed. Some of the beings encountered in the DMT state may once have been living humans, but perhaps such “dead souls” are in the minority among the intelligent beings in that realm.
In his classic The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries , W.Y. Evans-Wentz recorded many tales provided to him by local people of encounters with beings, variously called fairies, elves, the wee folk, the good people, the gentry, the Sidhe, the Tuatha De Danann, etc., who inhabit a realm normally beyond our ken. The belief in this order of beings was firm among the Celtic peoples of Britain and France at the time Evans-Wentz conducted his studies (c. 1900), but has since been largely supplanted by the beliefs instilled in the public by the rise of materialistic science and technology. Evans- Wentz collected numerous reports of elf-sightings, such as the following (which is part of an account given by a member of the Lower House of the Manx Parliament):
…I looked across the river and saw a circle of supernatural light, which I have now come to regard as the “astral light” or the light of Nature, as it is called by mystics, and in which spirits become visible… [I]nto this space, and the circle of light, from the surrounding sides apparently, I saw come in twos and threes a great crowd of little beings smaller than Tom Thumb and his wife. All of them, who appeared like soldiers, were dressed in red. They moved back and forth amid the circle of light, as they formed into order like troops drilling. (, p. 113.)
Reviewing his data, Evans-Wentz writes:
We seem, in fact, to have arrived at a Point in our long investigations where we can postulate scientifically, on the showing of the data of psychical research, the existence of such invisible intelligences as gods, genii, daemons, all kinds of true fairies, and disembodied [i.e., deceased] men. (, p. 481)
He then goes on to quote an earlier researcher:
Either it is we who produce these phenomena [which, says Evans-Wentz, is unreasonable] or it is spirits. But mark this well: these spirits are not necessarily the souls of the dead; for other kinds of spiritual beings may exist, and space may be full of them without our ever knowing anything about it, except under unusual circumstances [such as a sudden change in brain chemistry]. Do we not find in the different ancient literatures, demons, angels, gnomes, goblins, sprites, spectres, elementals, etc.’ Perhaps these legends are not without some foundation in fact. (Flammarion , quoted in , p. 481.)
Evans-Wentz concludes (, p. 490) that a realm of discarnate, intelligent forces known as fairies, elves, etc., exists “as a supernormal state of consciousness into which men and women may enter temporarily in dreams, trances, or in various ecstatic conditions,” such as, we may add, the condition produced by smoking DMT.
I suggest that the faerie world studied by Evans-Wentz and the objective space into which one may enter under the influence of DMT are the same.
Who are we and how did we get here? Clearly we are personalities who develop in connection with our bodies. But are we personalities who have our origin in the development of our bodies? Or do we originate as hyperspatial entities who become associated with bodies for the purpose of acting in what appears to us as the ordinary world? The answer may be a combination of both. It may be that a personality must first come into existence in connection with a body but that, once developed, it may leave the body, and perhaps subsequently become associated with a new body. Or it may be that intelligent entities, most of whom were never human, can come into existence as beings in hyperspace by virtue of a creative power associated with the origin of hyperspace itself. In the more poetic words of an Irish seer, they may “draw their life out of the Soul of the World” (, p. 65).
DMT appears to allow us to leave our three-dimensional bodily organisms and enter into hyperspace where we can function (for a short period of earthly time while our brain biochemistry is altered) as disembodied personalities, able to communicate with other discarnate personalities. In fact it may be that this is what happens to us when we die. In death, however, unlike the DMT trance, you can’t return to your body. Once your body is destroyed, or is damaged so that it cannot function as a channel for your will, then you have entered hyperspace and you will remain there indefinitely or until association with a new body becomes possible. After telling of frequently seeing spiritual beings enveloped in shining light, one of Evan-Wentz’s informants says:
In whatever country we may be, I believe that we are for ever immersed in the spiritual world; but most of us cannot perceive it on account of the unrefined nature of our physical bodies. Through meditation and psychical training one can come to see the spiritual world and its beings. We pass into the spirit realm at death and come back into the human world at birth; and we continue to reincarnate until we have overcome all earthly desires and mortal appetites. Then the higher life is open to our consciousness and we cease to be human; we become divine beings. (, p. 84)
It now seems possible, by the use of the psychedelic tryptamines, to venture into the death state before we die and toaccustom ourselves to that state. This is the path of the shaman and the spiritual warrior. At death, when the transition is finally and irrevocably made, the psychedelic explorer will enter a realm he or she knows from previous experience, and will, hopefully, not be swept away by fear and ignorance.
The idea that there might be a realm inhabited by alien beings able to communicate with humans in an intelligent manner, and that these beings may be contacted through the use of a psychedelic, is sufficiently bizarre that some may be tempted to reject it unthinkingly. Modern-day common sense certainly rejects the possibility entirely, but a scientific approach to the subject requires suspension of common sense in favor of an unbiased study of the available data. In this case the rawest data available is the actual subjective experience of the DMT state.
Further research is needed to distinguish among the possible interpretations presented above, or to Provide a basis for other interpretations. Basically this means further human explorations of the DMT experience, with articulate reports on the experience. This would allow us to begin to determine what are the common characteristics, in humans, of the experienced induced by smoking DMT. Do all subjects eventually experience (apparent) contact with alien beings? How is this contact related to dose and method of administration? In what form(s) do the entities (tend to) appear? How often are cases of human-alien communication reported? What is the content of this communication?
As an aid to further research in this field I have compiled the bibliography of publications, mostly articles concerning DMT, which is reproduced below.
Contact with alien entities in other worlds has long been reported from non-Western and pre-modern societies. Such reports are usually presented in the context of a particular mythology or cosmology that makes it difficult to relate them to a modern scientific view of the world. This may mean not that these reports are false, but that our scientific view of the world needs to be extended. A scientific attitude — that is, an open and questioning attitude to the advancement of knowledge, one which does not shun any repeatable observation regardless of how bizarre it may seem — is not inconsistent with the discovery of intelligent, non-human entities in a higher-dimensional realm. If they are there, and can be contacted reliably, let us see what they have to say.
I would like to thank those people (you know who you are) who read earlier drafts of this article (it was begun in October, 1989 and completed in June, 1992) and who offered helpful criticism and suggestions for improvement.