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words and wit of the alchemical bard
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An Interview By James Kent
Before and Beyond History
Gaia, Eros, and the Archaic Revival
Gaia, Psychedelics, and the Archaic Revival
Having Archaic and Eating it Too
Leprechauns, Elves, or Dead Souls?
Making and Unmaking History and Language
Morphogenic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences
Mushrooms, Sex and Society
Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines
Terence McKenna's Trip
The grammar of ecstasy — The world within the word.
(aka This Counts, Somehow it Matters & A Higher Dimensional Section of Reality)
A Better World (Toward The End Of History)
A Conversation with Terence McKenna and Ram Dass
A Necessary Chaos
A report on crop circles with Abraham and Sheldrake
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Time and Mind
Time and Mind
Location, City, New Mexico
Erowid transcription (used here)
Well, I suppose it's an invitation do describe a DMT trip, which is never to be passed up. Because I think, I think what we're talking about here is a continuum, I'm talking about a very narrow band of experience. A continuum of experience that comes through tryptamine hallucinogens: DMT, Psilocybin, and the DMT-Harmine combination... and that's it... Mescaline doesn't, isn't what I'm talking about. Ketamine certainly isn't what I'm talking about. Datura certainly isn't what I'm talking about. And some of these are plants, and some of them are synthetic drugs, but it's a very narrow spectrum of these highly visionary ones, and then the most visionary, the quintessence is DMT. I mean, I think that DMT is as intense as any drug should ever get; I don't ever want to be more loaded than that. I don't think you can be more loaded than that and come back. You know? What happens on DMT for me, and this is based on, you know, composite image of many experiences, and I've confirmed it to some degree with other people, but I was talking to somebody the other day, somebody who had just done it, and I said, "what did you think?" and they said: "It's the most idiosyncratic thing there is." and I thought, what a wonderful description, that's exactly what it is - it's pure idiosyncraticness. It's so idiosyncratic that's all there's there - it's like idiosyncracy without an object, is what DMT is.
When you smoke this, the onset is very rapid. 30-45 seconds, you know? There's this feeling which comes over your body - half arousal, half anaesthesia. The air appears to suddenly have been sucked out of the room because all the colors brighten visibly, as though some intervening medium has been removed. And then there's a sound, like a piece of bread wrapper or cellophane being scrunched up and thrown away. A friend of mine says this is radio-entelechy leaving the anterior fontanelle at the top of your head. [laughter] I'm not sure I want to line up with that... but a membrane is being ripped; something is being torn. And then there is a total (what Mircea Eliade called in a wonderful phrase) "a complete rupture of the mundane plane". [laughter] You know? That's like a hit and run accident except the car came from hyperspace, you know? A complete rupture of the mundane plane. And you fall back into this hallucinogenic space, and what you see is a slowly rotating red and orange kind of thing, which, over the years we've nicknamed, uh, 'The Chrysanthemum'. And it's.. this represents some kind of disequilibrium state that has its roots in the synapses. What's happening as you're watching this Chrysanthemum is that millions and then hundreds of millions of DMT molecules are rushing into these serotonin bond sites in the synaptic cleft and disrupting the serotonin and switching the electron spin resonance signature of these neural junctions in this 'other' direction. And this is taking, you know, 30 or 40 seconds, and there's this rising hum, this nnnmmmmMMMMMMMM^^^^ that rising tone; the flying saucer tone of Hollywood B movies... you actually hear this thing.
And then, if you've taken enough DMT (and it has to do entirely with physical capacity: Did you take, did you cross the threshold?) something happens [clap] which... for which there are no words.
A membrane is rent, and you are propelled into this 'place'. And language cannot describe it - accurately. Therefore I will inaccurately describe it.
The rest is now lies. [laughter] When you break into this space, you have several impressions simultaneously that are a kind of gestalt: First of all (and why, I don't know) you have the impression that you are underground - far underground - you can't say why, but there's just this feeling of immense weight above you but you're in a large space, a vaulted dome. People even call it 'The DMT dome' I have said, had people say to me, "Have you been under the dome?" and I knew exactly what they meant.
So you burst into this space. It's lit, sofeted lighting, some kind of indirect lighting you can't quite locate it. But what is astonishing and immediately riveting is that in this place there are entities - there are these things, which I call 'self transforming machine elves', I also call them self-dribbling basketballs. [laughter] They are, but they are none of these things. I mean you have to understand: these are metaphors in the truest sense, meaning they're lies! Uh, it's a jeweled self-transforming basketball, a machine elf. I name them 'Tykes' because tyke is a word that means to me a small child, and I was fascinated by the 54th fragment of Heraclitis, where he says: "The Aeon is a child at play with colored balls" ... and when you burst into the DMT space this is the Aeon - it's a child, and it's at play with colored balls, and I am in eternity, apparently, in the presence of this thing.
There are many of these things, but the main thing that's happening is that they are engaged in a linguistic activity of some sort, which we do not have words for, but it's visible language. They are doing the visible language trip. When you break into the space, they actually cheer! The first thing you hear when you pass across is this 'hhhyeaaaaaayyy' - you know the Pink Floyd song? "The Gnomes have Learned a New Way to Say Hoo-Ray"? This has gotta be what these guys were talking about; how else could it be? It doesn't make any sense otherwise.
You break into this space... the gnomes say hoo-ray! And they come rushing forward and they, and, and the thing then that happens is... and people say "is there risk, to DMT? it sounds so intense. Is it dangerous?".
The answer is: yes, it's tremendously dangerous; the danger is the possibility of death by astonishment. [laughter] And you must prepare yourself for this eventuality, because you are so amazed. Amazement seems to be the emotion that has torn loose and swamped everything else - I mean astounded? When was the last time you were genuinely 'ASTOUNDED'? I mean, I think you can go your whole damned life without being 'ASTOUNDED'... and this is astonishment, you know, raised to the N-th degree to the point that your jaw hangs...
I mean you're like this:
And it raises issues: like you say, "Jesus, ah, huhh ... I must be dead!" And you, and the weird thing about DMT is it does not effect what we ordinarily call the mind. The part that you call "you" - nothing happens to it. You're just like you were before, but the World has been radically replaced - 100% - it's all gone, and you're sitting there, and you're saying, "Jesus, a minute ago I was in a room with some people, and they were pushing some weird drug on me, and, and now, what's happened? s s is this the Drug? Did we do it? Is this it?" And meanwhile, these things are saying: "Do not give way to amazement; Control your wonder." in other words, they try to bring you down. They say, "Don't just goof out on this; pay attention. PAY ATTENTION... to what we're doing." "OK, what're you doing?..."
Say this is what we're doing, and then they proceed to sing objects into existence. Amazing objects. Objects that are Faberge Eggs, things made of pearl, and metal, and glass, and gel, and you, when you're shown one of these things, a single one of them, you look at it an you know, without a shadow of a doubt, in the moment of looking at this thing, that if it were right here, right now, this world would go mad. It's like something from another dimension. It's like an artifact from a flying saucer. It's like something falling out of the mind of God - such objects DO not exist in this universe, and yet, you're looking at it. And they're clamoring for your attention. " 'k at this! 'ook at This! Look at THIS!" and they pull these things... and each one, you look into it and it begins to open into this wonder that you must fight. You say "No, don't look at it, look AWAY from it!" because it's so wonderful that it's swamping my objectivity and destroying my ability to function in this space.
Well, then they say "do"...
And the objects that they make have the peculiar ability to themselves generate this linguistic 'stuff' which condenses as other objects. So beings are making objects, showing you objects, the objects are turning into beings and making other objects, these beings and objects, they jump into your chest - and then they jump back out. They jump into your body and disappear into your body, and then they jump back out, waving these things, just throwing this stuff in all directions. They are - the word that comes to mind is: they are Zany. It's like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, uh, gone mad. And all of this energy - they are elves. This is what elves are. It's this wierd thing, where they love you - or they like you a lot, but you can tell that their sense of humor is Weird. And that you must be very careful of the deals you cut with these things. and and in fact I've spent so much time trying to understand what is this. It has different kinds of feelings about it. One is (and this really threw me for a loop when I figured this out) after many many of these trips, and analyzing this place I kept going to, I finally realized: "this place is... somebody very weird... it's their idea of a reassuring environment for a human being! It's like a playpen. It's this warm. well lit, secure, womblike environment, and when I break into it they these things, the elves and the toys, are toys! These are things to amuse me. The way you would hang, uh, cubes and blocks above a crad... a playpen, you know? Because children are supposed to coordinate shapes and bright colors. That's what these things are: they are toys to try and get me to coordinate my perception in this place. It's a holding area of some sort - someone's created this and is watching me.
OK - that's one metaphor for what it is. Another metaphor is... I took this stuff to Tibetans, to the Amazon. I gave it to Tibetans, they said "this is the lesser lights, the lesser lights of the Bardo. You cannot go further into the Bardo and return. This takes you as far as you can go." When I gave it to shamans in the Amazon, they said "It's strong - but this is, these are the ancestors. These are the spirits that we work with. These are ancestor souls. We know this place." Well then, the third and final metaphor, because when you're in that place you have such complex emotions - very complex emotions - something weird is going on with time, because you perceive your body image as infantile. You seem to have a very large head, and a very body, and very short limbs. And, you know, I dunno what that's about.
But they're, uh, this...
Then the last facet of it that I want to mention is: there is this 'you must be on your toes' thing - don't let these guys get behind you. They are tricky. And their elfin humor may not be your idea of a good time. [laughter]
And I said to myself, where have I had, before, this feeling that I'm having now. It's a feeling of being with people that I can't trust, but who want to help me, and who seem to be trying to, uh, cut a deal. That was the word that gave me the clue: "deal". And then I remembered, "I know where I felt like this - I felt like this in the Crawford Market in Bombay when I had a kilo of Gold in my pocket and I was trying to trade it for hashish, and I was surrounded by all these Arab hash traders, and they were saying "we're your friend, just wait, don't worry..." And say "yes, I KNOW you're my friend and I'm NOT worrying, but, you know, brbrbrrr... perform!" And so then I said: "Aha the creatures in the DMT flash are Traders..." They're Traders. And that's what this weird feeling is - it's a business environment in there. [laughter] We're having a business meeting. THey're saying... and then the objects! Then I remembered- the objects... they're trade goods! They're saying: "How about thissss! How about This!".
What do they want? What do I have that they want?... They're meme traders, is what it is. And I think that what they wanted, and got, and took - without bothering to even say a word about it - was everything I knew about the "I Ching". And they're like art collectors. They say "well, the idea is primitive, and primitive in its execution, but with a certain kind of internal integrity that one really must respect..." So they're primitive art collectors, and what they left me with, then, was, uh, my own, you know, their model of time. Which is the closest thing to one of these hyperdimensional objects. The objects themselves cannot exist in this world. But the blueprints of them can. And this afternoon, if the computers are up and running, I will run through this 'time idea' with you.
And I think I will be able to convince you that it has a weirdly crafted patina to it, that, the feeling is it didn't spring from human minds, it, it is a creature of another kind of mental universe. And I think, you know, aside from the crisis on this planet and our own personal difficulties this is the real challenge of the psychedelic thing; is to meet the inhabitants and trade with them. And set up a relationship. The notion traders. They can trade hyperspacial notions from across the cosmos. And this may be all the extraterrestrial contact that we're, uh, going to be vouch-safed, you know?
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