Dimethyltryptamine (or DMT) is a psychedelic drug that can induce out of body or near death experiences, intense hallucinations and even apparent alien abductions. If you smoke it, you will appear to pass out for several minutes, where you'll have euphoric insights into other dimensions. In the US, Dimethyltryptamine is classed as an illegal Schedule I drug.
Yet, according to a study by Alexander Shulgin, we produce DMT in our bodies naturally. This conclusion is based on that fact that volunteers didn't build up a biological tolerance over time. What is this mysterious substance and how is it connected with dreams, death and OBEs? Here we'll explore the facts of The Spirit Molecule.
According to Dr Rick Strassman, author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule (also now a feature length movie), Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter similar in structure to serotonin. He theorizes that it is created in trace amounts by the pineal gland during normal metabolism, and may be released in massive amounts during birth, death, hallucinations and dreams.
This psychedelic drug is found in many plants used by South American shamans. It is also used in certain religious practices, presumably for its ability to induce divine insights, visions and feelings of euphoria. Strassman's studies have even linked high doses of DMT with the perception of alien entities from alternate realities.
Between 1990 and 1995, Dr Rick Strassman studied the effects of this extremely short-acting yet intense psychoactive compound using human test subjects. The research generated a wealth of biological and psychological data, much of which was published in scientific journals. So Strassman decided to publish individual accounts from the human volunteers in his book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule.
His DMT experiments shone a whole new light on unexplained phenomena such as alien abductions. Strassman even reproduced mystical and religious experiences with the psychedelic drug. Skeptics can say, then, that this drug is merely a hallucinogen. It makes you see things that aren't there. And it explains thousands of historical accounts of paranormal phenomena in one fell swoop.
On the other hand, the experiments provided new and startling information. Volunteers described bizarre visions of alien life forms - even subjects that wanted and fully expected to see angels and fairies saw other-worldly beings. It provokes the question: is DMT like a door to an alternate reality? Does it facilitate lucid dreams, the out-of-body state and glimpses into other dimensions?
Here are some more interesting DMT experiences - both from the Strassman experiments and from recreational users who have published online.
"I felt the DMT release my soul's energy and push it through the DNA. It's what happened when I lost my body. There were spirals that reminded me of things I've seen at Chaco Canyon. Maybe that was DNA. Maybe the ancients knew that. The DNA is backed into the universe like space travel. One needs to travel without one's body. It's ridiculous to think about space travel in little ships."
- Sara, a volunteer in Dr Strassman's DMT research
"There was no turning back. After a moment or two I became aware of something happening to my left. I saw a psychedelic, Day-Glo-colored space that approximated a room whose walls and floor had no clear separations or edges. It was throbbing and pulsing electrically. Rising in front of "me" was a podium-like table. It seemed that some presence was dealing/serving something to me. I wanted to know where I was and "sensed" the reply that I had no business there. The presence was not hostile, just somewhat annoyed and brusque."
- Aaron, a volunteer in Dr Strassman's DMT research
"The first thing I noticed was a burning in the back of my neck. Then there was this loud intense hum. It was like the fan at first, but separate. It began engulfing me. I let go into it and then... WHAM!
I felt like I was in an alien laboratory, in a hospital bed like this... A sort of landing bay, or recovery area. There were beings...
They had a space ready for me. They weren't as surprised as I was. It was incredibly un-psychedelic. I was able to pay attention to detail. There was one main creature, and he seemed to be behind it all, overseeing everything. The others were orderlies, or dis-orderlies.
They activated a sexual circuit, and I was flushed with an amazing orgasmic energy. A goofy chart popped up like an X-ray in a cartoon, and a yellow illumination indicated that the corresponding system, or series of systems, were fine. They were checking my instruments, testing things. When I was coming out, I couldn't help but think 'aliens'.
I am so disappointed I didn't talk to them. I was confused and in awe. I knew that they were preparing me for something. Somehow we had a mission. They had things to show me. But they were waiting for me to acquaint myself with the environment and movement and language of this space."
- Dimitri, a volunteer in Dr Strassman's DMT research
"Literally, you are transported into another f***ing dimension. I don't mean like you feel you're in another dimension, you're in another dimension.
There's f***ing complex geometric patterns moving in synchronies order through the air all around you in three dimensional space. It's like they're arteries, but there isn't blood pumping through them, there's light, pulsating light with no boundaries.
And there's an alien communicating with me who looks sort of like a Tai Buddha, except he's entirely made of energy and there's no outline to him. He's concentrating and telling me not to give into astonishment, relax and try and experience this."
- Joe Rogan, comedian & psychedelic pioneer
Dr Rick Strassman plans to continue his DMT research at the newly-founded Cottonwood Research Foundation in New Mexico. His vice president, Dr Steven Barker at Louisiana State University, is already developing a new ultra-sensitive method of measuring naturally occurring DMT in the body. They hope to be able to compare normal levels with those found in altered states under clinical conditions.
Ultimately, Strassman and his team hope to develop a new model of consciousness studies in the West. They hope to explore the varieties of human consciousness and their genetic, biochemical and physiological bases - finding the best way to apply these states to healing, creativity and greater wisdom.
Here's a good question. If a lucid dream is any dream in which you know you're dreaming, then why aren't we always lucid in dreams? Why doesn't it just become the default state of dreaming? Why do we accept our dreams of flying pigs and dinosaurs as an extension of waking life? What is the mechanism for defaulting to non-lucid dreams? Intriguingly, scientists have approached this question from three different angles./p>
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?