Many psychedelic explorers report meeting entities or aliens during their DMT trips. In this article we’ll take a closer look at this phenomenon.
DMT is probably the most powerful hallucinogenic drug on Earth. Research into this substance is still in its infancy but we already have numerous reports from the trips.
They come from pioneers like Terrence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Alexander Shulgin, people like me and you, and most famously Dr. Rick Strassman – the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Below you will find numerous descriptions of DMT experiences and some possible explanations for these strange alien encounters.
McKenna’s account of the DMT experience
I first heard about DMT from McKenna – the grandmaster of psychedelic shamanism and all things peculiar. During one of his lectures, he talks about the “self-transforming machine elves” or “the self-dribbling basketballs” he met during his DMT trips.
He described them as beings with consciousness separate from his own. They welcomed him and they were showing him worlds unimaginable (all within a trip that lasts no more than five minutes). I thought it was a screwball idea but it immediately caught my attention.
What was the source of these hallucinations?
Here’s the full account of McKenna’s DMT flash:
DMT: The Spirit Molecule reports
To satisfy my curiosity, I got the most peculiar of books called DMT: The Spirit Molecule (Which was later turned into a documentary). It’s a truly fascinating scientific investigation into the effects of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) on 60 volunteers between 1990 and 1995.
From the books I’ve learned that DMT is indigenous to the human brain, produced in the pineal gland and connected to dreams and the near-death experience. (That’s probably why you get such books as Proof of Heaven where people report seeing the light, riding the butterflies and then coming back to reassure the Christian population of life after death).
Anyway, dozens of Strassman’s volunteers reported experiences similar to those of McKenna’s.
They were encountering beings totally different from whatever they could imagine. There was no connection to the myths, human culture or the collective unconscious. These beings were as alien as they could be. And they were welcoming or terrifying, asking questions, and showing gifts of immense beauty and structural complexity. People said that these “others” and experiences were “more real than real”.
The volunteers would frequently look away because of astonishment and fear. But these aliens were in total control and told trippers to pay attention.
Here are a couple of these accounts:
That was really strange. There were a lot of elves. They were prankish, ornery, maybe four of them appeared at the side of a stretch of interstate highway I travel regularly. They commanded the scene, it was their terrain! They were about my height. They held up placards, showing me these incredibly beautiful, complex, swirling geometric scenes in them. One of them made it impossible for me to move. There was no issue of control; they were totally in control. They wanted me to look! I heard a giggling sound — the elves laughing or talking at high-speed volume, chattering, twittering.
When I was first going under there were these insect creatures all around me. They were clearly trying to break through. I was fighting letting go of who I am or was. The more I fought, the more demonic they became, probing into my psyche and being. I finally started letting go of parts of myself, as I could no longer keep so much of me together. As I did, I still clung to the idea that all was God, and that God was Love, and I was giving myself up to God and God’s love because I was certain I was dying. As I accepted my death and dissolution into God’s love, the insectoids began to feed on my heart, devouring the feelings of love and surrender.
There was a movement of color. The colors were words. I heard what the colors were saying to me. I was trying to look out, but they were saying, “Go in.” I was looking for God outside. They said, “God is in every cell of your body.” And I was feeling it, totally open to it, and I kept opening to it more, and I just took it in. The colors kept telling me things, but they were telling things so I not only heard what I was seeing, but also felt it in my cells. I say “felt,” but it was like no other ”felt,” more like a knowing that was happening in my cells. That God is in everything and that we are all connected, and that God dances in every cell of life, and that every cell of life dances in God.
The “categories” of aliens on the DMT trips
“The others” usually fall into a few different categories, and they often present themselves in a similar manner to distinct individuals:
- “The self-transforming machine-elves” – they’re usually prankish, grinning, welcoming, and focusing your attention on different majestic objects. They want you to pay attention.
- “The guides” – oftentimes they’re anthropomorphic and concentrate on teaching. They may take a form of angels, prophets, ancestors or human-like gods. Quite often they teach you that love is the only way, and put you in an ecstatic state of oneness with everything.
- “Extra-terrestrials” or “ultra-dimensional beings” – this category includes reptiles, bees, spiders, cacti, mantises, arachnids, robots, jellyfish, octopods, and clowns. They’re also prankish and can be much more disconcerting.
- “The Galactic council” of spiritual elders who impart knowledge, laws and instructions for behavior.
- “Sci-fi aliens” – they are the scariest of the lot. They use probes, implants, surgeries, and basically do research on the subject. Quite often people report that these beings “get into their heads” to extract information. Unlike the guides, these aliens don’t really care about the individual.
- “Human spirits” – some people report meetings with “lost-souls” or anthropomorphic beings who instead of imparting knowledge, want to get information from the tripper.
The DMT reports from Quora users
I got more and more interested in the phenomena and searched the net for the answers. I asked some of the Quora users about their experiences with DMT. Here are some of the answers I got:
DMT is one of the craziest substances you can put your being through – and through some kind of rabbit tunnel you may go into a different dimension, but it’s often more of a lucid dream, not a blurry fairy world. But that isn’t true either, because plants can communicate then and shadows can come alive and immense fear of total ego-loss and or death or insanity… but once you get used to this state (and you will never forget the DMT-feeling), you can just observe, be “observation”, just be and see through things, maybe just imagining things, but I can’t believe that I can have so much detailed imagination and interaction out of my human brain… There must be things that live in other endless dimensions and want to communicate. Be open for everything and you will get what you need.
DMT is a key that fits a lock in the human brain, allowing access to primal memories that rarely appear “primitive,” to me. People need to realize that these experiences are personal. Everything you see and experience while smoking DMT is a product of your own mind. Granted it may be bubbling up from one’s subconscious in patterns and processes never before consciously imagined, but suddenly there it is. I’ve had many discussions with my partner about these beings and she came up with a rather profound hypothesis (although she doesn’t necessarily believe it herself). Broadly speaking, she suggested that these beings could simply be parts of ourselves. Various emotions, opinions, states of mind etc. that under the influence of DMT, manifest themselves into entities that we can communicate and interact with.
So all in all, no one has the slightest idea about what’s going on.
Alex Grey’s account of the DMT trip:
Alex Grey is one of the most famous modern artists and the author of Transfiguration. Here’s his story about tripping on pure DMT and Ayahuasca:
Alexander Shulgin’s account of the DMT trip:
Shulgin (or Sasha as his friends liked to call him), the author of Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story spent almost his entire lifetime on trying to uncover the secrets of the psychedelic drugs. Here’s his account of a DMT trip:
(With 100 mg, smoked) “As I exhaled I became terribly afraid, my heart very rapid and strong, palms sweating. A terrible sense of dread and doom filled me — I knew what was happening, I knew I couldn’t stop it, but it was so devastating; I was being destroyed — all that was familiar, all reference points, all identity — all viciously shattered in a few seconds. I couldn’t even mourn the loss — there was no one left to do the mourning. Up, up, out, out, eyes closed, I am at the speed of light, expanding, expanding, expanding, faster and faster until I have become so large that I no longer exist — my speed is so great that everything has come to a stop — here I gaze upon the entire universe.”
Joe Rogan’s account of the DMT trip:
Rogan is a highly influential speaker and interview host. Here’s what he has to say about the experience which includes jester-like beings (notice that the interlocutors don’t have any idea about where the hell are they coming from):
Dr. Timothy Leary’s DMT trip:
Dr. Leary was one of the founders of the psychedelic movement, author of The Psychedelic Experience and one of the figures who gave rise to Flower Power. Here’s what he had to say about DMT:
My experience with DMT occurred in the most favorable setting. We had just witnessed the ecstatic experience of my colleague and the radiance of his reaction provided a secure and optimistic background. My expectations were extremely positive.
Five minutes after lying comfortably on the bed, I felt typical psychedelic onset symptoms–a pleasant somatic looseness, a sensitive tuning-in to physical sensations.
Eyes closed…typical LSD visions, the exquisite beauty of retinal and physical machinery, transcendence of mental activity, serene detachment. Comforting awareness of Margaret’s hand and the presence of friends.
Suddenly I opened my eyes and sat up… the room was celestial, glowing with radiant illumination… light, light, light… the people present were transfigured… godlike creatures… we were all united as one organism. Beneath the radiant surface I could see the delicate, wondrous body machinery of each person, the network of muscle and vein and bone–exquisitely beautiful and all joined all part of the same process.
Graham Hancock’s experience on DMT
Hancock is a British journalist and the author of the Fingerprints of the Gods. He also shares an opinion that through Ayahuasca and DMT it might be possible to enter a parallel reality, or that these psychedelic visions are somehow written into our DNA code.
Here are a few more DMT reports from users of the Erowid website
Erowid’s motto describes the site as “an online encyclopedia that documents the complex relationship between humans and psychoactives.”
“I was transported to that extremely alien-like realm that I had been to so many times before. I felt like I was being schooled on existence. A teacher entity that seemed to have some sort of almost condescending power over me was trying to convince me that ‘they’ constructed our reality completely, and tried to get me to agree that this reality was not under our control; it was being constructed and predetermined by an outside force completely. Even though I had lost complete touch with reality, I did not listen blindly. I was skeptical. ([It was] not that I disbelieved it, but I didn’t believe it either… I always like to keep an open mind when it comes to these sorts of existential matters). The entity was so persistent about trying to convince me! I remained neutral on the matter, but courteous and attentive all the same…
“To the right of my mind space was a blue mass. [It was] a large entity formed of layers of strata, and bejeweled with many crystals along geometric fault lines which folded, twisted and morphed its form in a mechanical fashion. The blue color [surrounded] the entity like an amniotic sack. I moved my mind towards it and I burst into the sack which fell away enough for the entity and myself to make some kind of contact. It was a light green to yellow color underneath the sack…
“I continued floating around in the three dimensional DMT space without anything too significant happening, when I was found by a very advanced extraterrestrial being. His kind liked humanity and they enjoyed helping humans evolve at a very fast rate. I could feel this being empowering me and showing me advanced things. He helped direct my awareness to different things, all of which were helpful to my evolution. Anytime my awareness shifted to something of no use, especially things that would enable fear, he would give me a nudge to not pay attention to it but to focus on the useful things that were good for me. He also could sense weaknesses in me as I brought them up from out from my consciousness and would helped me overcome them. At the same time this being was learning from his interaction with me. It was a positive experience.
“Ahead was an entirely ludicrous, tensile, concentric, mandala-like disco-medusa that wore about it a Technicolor dream coat of fibrillating antennae, surrounded by an ultraviolet aura. Instantly I could tell it was alive: some sort of a sentinel. Then seemingly out of nowhere and from every direction at once came these freakish tentacles of liquid lapis lazuli. They began moving together with an almost orchestral hyper precision, and I was completely mesmerized — it was like nothing I had ever seen…
“Closing my eyes, I got a glimpse of several entities moving in front of a giant complex control panel. The visions were not crystal clear and seemed as if I were viewing it through a scrim. The creatures were bipedal and of about human size. It was impossible to say more, other than they did not move like the giant insect creatures I have seen clearly under the influence of Stropharia mushrooms. There was a direct awareness of an overwhelmingly powerful and knowledgeable ‘presence.’ It was neither frightening, nor encouraging. It was just mentally there. A thought came, unbidden, into my head. I realized that I was viewing ‘God Central.’ The central panel I saw was the control panel for the entire universe.”
Ralph Abraham’s account of the DMT trip
Abraham has a Ph.D. in mathematics and is a lecturer at the University of California. He’s been exploring the psychedelic phenomena for years, experimenting with LSD, Ayahuasca and DMT. In the following video you can see that as a highly intelligent man, he can’t help but to entertain the idea of intelligent entities on the other side of reality:
Patricio’s Domingues’ account of the DMT trip
Patricio is a Native American shaman and he’s been dealing with the spiritual world for all of his life. He was one of the volunteers who took DMT intravenously and here, you can see him talking about encountering the beings:
Christian Meuli’s account of the DMT trip
Meuli is a medical doctor and he’s one of the original volunteers in Strassman’s experiment. Here you can see him sharing four different DMT experiences – each one including an encounter with beings:
So the “others” are appearing in the visions very regularly but no one has any reasonable proposition about what they are and what does it all mean.
Why is there so little research about DMT?
How is it possible that there is no big research center that deals with DMT? There should be scientists working on this 24/7. And yet, in the mainstream culture criminalizes psychedelic drugs.
In USA, DMT is a Schedule I drug which means it’s labeled among the most harmful substances with high potential for abuse. Existing research, however, tells us that DMT is neither harmful nor addictive. Yes, people had bad trips, but the drug is not addictive at all. People try to come to grips with their experience for months and years after the trip.
It’s incredibly hard to get a research permit for DMT. We can blame it on the “war on drugs” paranoia and the federal government. But there are also the pharmacological institutions. They lobby against research because if the plants prove to be beneficial they would lose huge amounts of money.
Think about this: instead of taking potentially harmful meds for 3 years, you just have to take two or three hallucinogenic trips and be cured (for example, LSD was proven to be a great substance to help with alcohol addiction).
New Frontiers of DMT research
From an article from Scientific American, we learn that:
Doctors at schools like Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA and NYU are testing the potential of psilocybin and other hallucinogens for treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism—and for inducing spiritual experiences.
I’m afraid that this is not enough, but fortunately, Dr. Strassman is back in the game. He partnered up with Dr. Andrew Gallimore and they try to establish a new model of DMT research where the experience will be much longer than the usual 5 to 10 minutes.
What might be the possible reasons for the encounters with the DMT entities?
Now the question is: should we dismiss the DMT psychedelic experience as a product of the brain and rely on materialism and reductionism or should we entertain even the most outlandish ideas?
Here I have to admit that I’m also deeply puzzled by the whole thing and what follows are only conjectures and possibilities. In a way, this article is a call for help and encouragement for people who want to explore the subject further, as it might have a huge importance for humanity.
1. The neuro-biological reason
I think the reason might be biological (I never took DMT but people who took it usually say that it cannot be biological as it’s just too strange). Given the right combination of neurotransmitters affecting the right parts of the brain, an illusion of a council of supernatural intergalactic entities seems plausible. But no one knows for sure.
The highest amount of DMT in the brain fluid can be found during the REM sleep phase (usually 3:30-4:30 AM). Maybe that would explain the vivid visions people are able to remember for a very long time (especially upon suddenly waking up during that kind of dream). Also, most alien abductions take place at that time.
That could shed some light on the mystical and religious experience. The meeting with the “Friend” or “The One” might be a result of abnormal brain activity and secretion of DMT at one point or another. This could also give us a hint about the origins of the philosophy of non-duality.
I’m always interested in hard evidence but in this case, we don’t have any. There are a few people who try to explain DMT experience in scientific terms. One of them is James Kent, and you can read his case against the elves here. His approach seems reasonable but ultimately it’s speculation and based on a rather unsatisfying DMT trip. You can read an interesting discussion about his article here.
Here are Rick Strassman’s musings on the scientific explanation of the DMT experience:
2. The psychological reason
There is a Jungian idea of a separate personality that may reside in the depths of the subconscious mind – something like Anima and Animus – but existing on some other level. In the famous Red Book, Jung frequently converses with Philemon, his spiritual guide (yet there’s no evidence that the famous psychiatrist ever took psychedelics).
Jung thought that the whole UFO phenomenon is connected to the subconscious mind that wants to heal itself. “The UFO is inside of us,” he said.
In most cases, claims about UFO’s come from American Mid-Western maniacs with a big imagination. But now we also have dozens of carefully reported cases coming from the DMT study and you can see that there might be something more to it.
The strange thing is that on DMT trip you don’t actually connect with the archetypes or entities that are universal to the human psyche. Rather, you meet with aliens – with something that you’ve never seen before or didn’t even expect.
3. The hyper-dimensional communication with extraterrestrials reason
It might be possible that DMT enables us to make contact with entities from another dimension (or even many dimensions as the types of aliens vary significantly). With the help of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine our consciousness may gain access to some kind of vibrational frequency that aliens are able to detect.
They may exist in the same cosmos or in a different space-time altogether. It’s strange because from the reports we often learn that the entities are expecting the visitor and very happy to receive them. They seem to be impatient and knowing that there’s not a lot of time for interaction.
From the reports, I also conclude that the quality of encounter depends not only on the dosage but also on the level of “spiritual development” or “individuation” of the volunteer. Meditators, psychedelic explorers, shamans, etc. usually get more meaningful trips than the troubled kids. They’re also able to explain them in clearer terms.
Dr. Andrew Gallimore did an interesting presentation wherein rudimentary terms he tries to explain how we might contact aliens through DMT (basically that DMT allows us to appear in the subjective reality of aliens by our brain becoming receptive to a different vibrational field):
4. The alien information inscribed into the DNA reason
This is one of the most outlandish and mind-bending possibilities of all. Imagine that:
There was an ancient intergalactic civilization threatened with extinction. One of the ways they used to preserve their DNA was to send self-replicating probes around the galaxy. These probes would contain bacteria, or better yet, spores (which can reproduce without sexual fusion) and finally made contact with the Blue Planet. Then they gave rise to life, evolution and finally the primates were able to decode the message through contact with the psychedelic plants and mushrooms.
We can even suppose this Alien DNA doesn’t come from a far-away galaxy but from our own solar system. We already know that once upon a time Mars was rich in water and had atmosphere just like Earth’s. But then, most probably, it was hit by asteroids and totally obliterated along with all the possible lifeforms. Maybe before or after the hit some of the DNA got to Earth?
It’s also possible that these plants had something to do with giving rise to the consciousness in humans. We can’t discard this possibility as we still don’t know enough about the structure of the DNA code.
Francis Crick, a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule and an atheist actually thought that it would be impossible for life to arise on Earth in such a short (in geological terms) period of time.
You can learn more about this theory from Graham Hancock:
Also, take a look at this video where Dennis McKenna talks about this possibility and shares his thoughts on Tryptophan which is a suspiciously unique amino-acid in nature:
5. The transmigration of the souls’ reason
According to The Tibetan Book of The Dead (or Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State), it takes 49 days for the soul to be reincarnated. At that time, the individual goes through different stages (“Bardos”) and either achieves final liberation (“Nirvana”) or is reincarnated to get another chance on Earth. This is called “The Samsara” or the cycle of death and rebirth.
Interestingly, the same 49 days are needed to define gender and create a pineal gland inside of human fetus. According to the Tibetan tradition, on the 49 th day, the soul enters a new body, and continues with the “Dukkha” (the suffering) until death. Only those who achieve Nirvana either during their lives or during one of the Bardos are forever free from entering the human form.
Here is an excerpt from a page about the Buddhist afterlife beliefs:
Stage one of the Bardo (called the “Chikai” Bardo), the bardo of dying, begins at death and extends from half a day to four days. This is the period of time necessary for the departed to realize that they have dropped the body. The consciousness of the departed has an ecstatic experience of the primary “Clear White Light” at the death moment. Everyone gets at least a fleeting glimpse of the light. The more spiritually developed see it longer, and are able to go beyond it to a higher level of reality. The average person, however, drops into the lesser state of the secondary “clear light.”
This description is amazingly similar to some of the near-death and DMT experiences. Quite often people are transported into this ecstatic state of blissful light, incorporeality, pure consciousness, and infinite love. When the trip ends, they usually report they wanted to stay in that state forever – which in Buddhist terms would mean achieving Nirvana.
Now take a look at this (from the same article):
In stage two (called the “Chonyid” Bardo), the bardo of Luminous Mind, the departed encounters the hallucinations resulting from the karma created during life. Unless highly developed, the individual will feel that they are still in the body. The departed then encounters various apparitions, the “peaceful” and “wrathful” deities that are actually personifications of human feelings and that, to successfully achieve nirvana, the deceased must encounter unflinchingly. Only the most evolved individuals can skip the bardo experience altogether and transit directly into a paradise realm. Stage three (called the “Sidpa” Bardo), the bardo of rebirth, is the process of reincarnation.
This looks like a pure DMT trip so either the Tibetans had access to the drug, or they’ve found out about the experience through meditative practices (or both, as there is evidence of Soma drug in Hinduism, and Buddhism takes lots of elements from its older cousin). This also has some semblance to The Egyptian Book of The Dead which claims that after death our good and bad deeds are going to be weighted and that will determine the future of the soul.
We have to uncover facts about DMT
As you can see, there are numerous possibilities and we don’t know which one is right. Let’s all take William James’s advice to heart, and try to uncover the facts, as they’ll change humanity forever:
“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness. Whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves those other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”
What do you think about the article? Have you ever experienced a DMT trip? What do you think is the reason behind these amazing visions? Please share your opinion in the comments section below.
- Rick Strassman – DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences
- Terence McKenna – Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
- Timothy Leary – The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
- James Fadiman – The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
- Christopher Kilham – The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook: The Essential Guide to Ayahuasca Journeying
- Rick Strassman – DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible
- Albert Hofmann – LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science
- Benny Shanon – The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience
- Jacques Vallee – Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers
- Christian Ratsch – The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications
- Graham Hancock – Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind