The Toad and the Jaguar - Profound 5-MeO-DMT Experiences

By Ralph Metzner on Monday, 04 August 2014, hits: 25899


Speculative Discussion

I’ve come to think that the 3-dimensional geometrical web, extending in all directions, that you first “see” in front of your eyes and then perceive as all-pervasive, inside and out, is the molecular level of our physical reality. Molecules of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and various elements and compounds do not “know” or care whether they are inside or outside of your body, or associated with any object or form in the external world. There are no objects or bodies or boundaries at this level — there is only the totally impersonal, ever-changing network or web, crystalline lattices of replicating patterns. An image that comes to mind from Mahayana Buddhism is of the jewelled net of Indra –symbolizing a universe of infinitely replicating mutual interrelations among all things and beings.

Other researchers have come to similar conclusions, pointing to perception of microcosmic, molecular (and sub-molecular) realities as the interpretive key to the understanding of high-dose tryptamine experiences. In his recently published autobiography The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, Dennis McKenna (2012), the ethnopharmacologist brother of the adventurous explorer Terence McKenna, eloquently describes a DMT-smoking experience he had, after a 15 year-hiatus in his psychedelic experimentations. In this experience there were none of the “self-transforming elfin entities” that his brother Terence had famously described. Instead the experience seemed to be a glimpse into the impersonal, no-thing-like, fragmentary “frenzied neurochemistry” of our own brains.

All the elements were there: the frozen feeling bubbling up and permeating my body like quantum foam fizzing up to engulf the fragmenting mind, the feeling of acceleration, my dissolving self urging me to let go, to surrender, as I was sucked into the visionary maelstrom. … The experience was far more austere (than in the earlier trials – ed.) Reality is a hallucination generated by the brain to help make sense of our being; it is made of fragments of memory, associations, ideas, people you remember, dreams you’ve had, things you’ve read and seen, all of which is somehow blended and extruded into something resembling a coherent conscious narrative, the hallucination we call “experience.” Dimethyltryptamine rips back the curtain to show the raw data before it has been processed and massaged. There is no comforting fiction of coherent consciousness; one confronts the mindless hammering of frenzied neurochemistry (McKenna, D. op.cit. p.160).

Anthropologist Jeremy Narby, in his ground-breaking investigation of Amazonian shamanic knowledge systems involving the ayahuasca brew, similarly describes his working hypothesis as follows: “In their visions, shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level and gain access to information related to DNA, which they call ‘animate essences’ or ‘spirits.’ This is where they see double helixes, twisted ladders, and chromosomal shapes.”(Narby, J. The Cosmic Serpent, p. 117).

Repeated observations by myself and others, have revealed that one can actually distinguish two sorts of web-patterns: one that is crystalline-geometric, with straight lines between nodes; another that is more organic and fibrous, with multiple branchings, like you might see in microscope images of slices of nerve tissue.  The Pueblo Indian image of Spider Grandmother’s web of creation also comes naturally to mind.

Using the metaphor language of neurophysiology, perhaps in such experiences we’re subjectively experiencing the interface of neuronal nets and molecular grids, “seeing” or “being in” now one, now the other. Nerve impulses travel along axons as sodium and potassium ions are pumped in and out of the nerve-cell membrane. Transmission across the synaptic cleft is by release of neurotransmitter molecules. There are 10 billion nerve cells in the brain; 100 million photo-sensitive rods and cones in the retina. So when you’re “seeing” the grid-web, sparkling with jeweled luminescence, you’re registering the activation of millions of the light-sensors in your retina. When you’re sensing yourself embedded in the web, without distinction of “self” or “other”, you’re sensing being part of the cellular-molecular web of all life, extending infinitely in all directions.

In some of the experiences recounted above, there seems to be an awareness, a subjective perception of even deeper levels of the microcosm – of atomic and sub-atomic quantum level and the ultimate void – expressed in phrases such as “primordial void”, “ever-present center”, “formless Being”, “primary clear light”, “ground of being” or “vast spaciousness”. In the course of one 30 minute experience, the voyager’s visions may oscillate between microcosmic web patterns and macrocosmic star formations, within personal (though not ego-centered) awareness – seemingly embodying the ancient Hermetic maxim –as above so below, and as without so within.


+1 # Entheogenerator 2014-08-09 09:59
Excellent passage! I just purchased a copy of this book, and I very much look forward to reading the rest of it! :-)
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0 # martin1wheel 2014-08-28 15:47
I'm really looking forward to this.I have always enjoyed reading books by Ralph Metzner.& I am particularly interested in DMT & it's congeners.
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