Nick Sand is one of the most prolific and well-known underground chemists in history. From 1966 to 1996, he produced huge amounts of LSD, as well as MDMA, synthetic mescaline, DMT, and other psychedelics that were distributed around the globe. Along with Tim Scully, Nick Sand was responsible for producing over 3 million hits of Orange Sunshine, a brand of LSD that was renowned for its quality and purity in the Sixties.
Sand has a particular fondness for DMT. In fact, it was a DMT vision quest in the 60s that convinced Sand to dedicate his life to producing and distributing entheogens. He was the first underground chemist to synthesize DMT rather than extracting it from natural sources, and the first person to discover that the DMT freebase could be smoked. And as you’ll see, he is also a passionate thinker and very engaging writer.
[pullquoteleft]The intellect and the senses…are the crutches of the material world. These tools need to be dropped when you enter the ocean of consciousness, as they will only drag you down when you need to float.[/pullquoteleft]The world of DMT is incredibly vast. What DMT opens in us is so profound that it is impossible to truly express. I have been making, using, and initiating people into DMT use, for around 40 years. I was the one who first discovered that the free-base could be smoked. It has never ceased to amaze me, nor have I ever felt that one could fairly arrive at any hard and fast conclusions about what was happening during a DMT trip. I do think that there are general rules for approaching the DMT journey such as diet, preparation, set and setting, and intention. But DMT is about the beyond. “Beyond what?” you may ask. Beyond the intellect, beyond the senses, beyond any devices and biological instruments for dealing with the external world. When you journey through the realms of the interior, the rules of the intellect and the values of the material world are not only irrelevant, but using them as yardsticks can create confusion. Tools of intellect are analytical, and as such are divisive. The processes of expression, communication, analysis, and intellect are tools for the ignorant. With these tools, we work our way out of the dark; but this ignorance is of the material world, not the spirit realm.
DMT is about unity and the healing of division, conflict, and the sickness brought about by compartmentalization. It is on a higher order of reality than the intellect, but it will weave message-laden images with any mental state or environmental input. The trick is seeing the pattern in the fabric and not getting hung up on the colors and threads. Thus, when I see someone trying to understand the DMT experience from a non-mystical, intellectual viewpoint—subsuming the whole by the parts—I am strongly motivated to share a critical viewpoint in the hope of extending our understanding of DMT and its use by travelling toward the beyond, which is its proper landscape.
DMT is not a re-run of the X-Files. There are no aliens squiggling through psycho-space to do experiments on us.
When I read the excerpt in ER from DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Dr. Rick Strassman, I was struck by what I feel are a few fundamental misunderstandings that he made, and his failure to notice the crucial effect that the presence of he and his crew, as well as the overall environment, was having on his subjects. I wish to point these out and to put this type of research back into the vast perspective to which it belongs, lest this materialistic viewpoint create decades of misunderstanding.
First off, DMT is not a re-run of the X-Files. There are no aliens squiggling through psychospace to do experiments on us. That idea is just plain silly. It is fine to wonder how these perceptions occur, but it’s another matter to jump to conclusions. Wouldn’t it make sense to first examine the environmental design rather than look to alien origins? Over and over, Strassman’s subjects describe being examined by numerous strange beings in highly technical environments during the visual phase of their DMT experience. They are being examined, discussed, measured, probed, and observed. They are in high-tech nurseries and alien laboratories. There are 3–4 people moving around operating machinery according to some design or agenda.
Now lets look at what the physical surroundings are. These experiments are being done in a hospital room. There are a number of people in attendance, helping the one who is in charge, Dr. Strassman. He has an agenda and an experimental scientific viewpoint based on intellectual assumptions. There are people from NIDA, a government agency overseeing these experiments. They are labelled “Mr. V.” and “Mr. W. ” It seems clear to me that these individuals are the “aliens” represented in many of the experimental subjects’ trips. The elements of the experimental environment seem to be cropping up in the trip world that the subjects are experiencing. Why haven’t other environmental designs been considered?
One of my many memorable DMT trips (at about 0.9 mg per kg of body weight, intramuscular of the HCl) was sitting on a Persian carpet listening to a recording of Sharan Rani playing a love raga on a sarod. I had my two trip buddies with me. There were candles and incense. The room was set up as a temple space for tripping. As I arrived at my internal trip space, I was filled with overwhelming feelings of womanly love and sensuality. I looked down and was very surprised to see myself dressed in filmy harem pants and no shirt on. I had a beautiful copper-colored female body— breasts and all. I had many bangles on my arms, and ankle bells on my legs. I looked around and found that I was dancing a seductive love raga to the two musicians facing me playing sarod and tabla. We were performing in the courtyard of a beautiful Indian temple similar to Bubhaneshwar Temple, famed for its erotic sculpture and soaring towers. My dancing was an exact counterpart in rhythmic motion to the melodies and rhythms of the music. It was an exquisite act of love. It was so beautiful that when I came down, I declared that if I died right at that moment, I would regret nothing as I had experienced beauty more exquisite than I could ever imagine. Perfect love and unity. As I came down, I saw my beautiful breasts shimmer away and the bangles slide off my arms twinkling into nothing. There was a momentary ache in my heart as all of this love withdrew. As the room reappeared around me, I experienced a confusion; I could not remember if I was a sacred temple dancer dreaming I was a man, or if I was a man dreaming I was a female dancer. This was obviously a very touching and profound trip that infused my being with a new appreciation of love and harmony, something I carry as a memory and a perspective on life to this day. Obviously, I am not a woman, but I was so profoundly influenced by a woman playing a love raga that I created myself in accordance to what was entering into me from my environment. So it is apparent that set and setting are extremely influential in acting upon the DMT state, which is clearly a magnifying, creative, and sensitizing medium.
[pullquotecenter]The hallucinations are only visual by-products of a mystical state. What is important are the feelings and the hidden meanings you experience from entering into the vastness, and the new consciousness that can result; this is the glimpse that can open your soul to the sacred.[/pullquotecenter]
Now what would have happened if I had been injected with DMT in a clinical setting with two authorities from the National Institute on “Drug Abuse” watching me while little machines were beeping and orderlies and nurses were moving about? How different is this from the early CIA experiments with LSD? […] These are experiments being done by government agencies examining the use of these psychedelic substances in the pursuit of more power, money, and success (and based on the fallacious concepts of “drugs” and “abuse”). Remember, these are the same folks that rub elbows with the masters of disinformation that create absurd commercials like a frying egg in a pan saying, “This is your brain on drugs.”
The assumptions are all wrong. Dr. Strassman’s interpretation is about the recording of specific hallucinations, psychological modalities, and intellectual structuring. In actuality, the hallucinations are only visual by-products of a mystical state. What is important are the feelings and the hidden meanings you experience from entering into the vastness, and the new consciousness that can result; this is the glimpse that can open your soul to the sacred.
At the end of the excerpt, Strassman decides to “act as if the worlds volunteers visited and the inhabitants with whom they interacted were real,” so that he can show more “empathy.” It is difficult for me to interpret this “acting” as allowing true empathy. It seems more like psychological roleplaying to me. His concern that this approach might create a communal psychosis is valid, however.
[pullquoteleft]This is a deeply personal, tender, passionate search for self-realization. This is your love dance with yourself.[/pullquoteleft]The administration of DMT in these highly artificial and agenda-driven environments may very well create a warped impression of assumed importance and reality that does not allow DMT to function as it should. Let Strassman take his subjects into the forest or a temple, and turn on with them after he has mastered it himself, and I think he will find that the little alien doctors will disappear and be replaced by other mystic beings—beings that can tell you about yourself. Or you can go to a completely non-representative space of the rare “level three” state, where there is no light, no design, just the voice of God using your soul as a silent tuning fork. Alas, this is unlikely to happen, as Strassman would probably lose his job or grant, might very well be prosecuted and jailed, and worst of all, like Leary and Alpert, lose his scientific “objectivity” (another great myth).
Moving from this critical mode into a more expansive mode, I would like to address this topic from a mystical/religious point of view. The “objective” viewpoint was adopted by science as a more realistic way of describing reality than the “subjective” views filled with rigid dogma espoused by various organized religions. Actually, this understanding of objective (standing aloof from an experiment so as not to have one’s judgment distorted) and subjective (being so immersed in what one is observing that meaningful observations cannot be made) are really misnomers. Subjective consciousness can be thought of as the personal inward journey involving mystical experience and self-realization. Objectivity has to do with the outward application of the mind for the realization of materialistic goals and intellectual pursuits in the world of practical life applications—for communication and social survival.
I would like to consider this topic from the subjective point of view, to share a perspective that I feel can lead to a much richer appreciation of where one can go with the sacramental substances, should it be decided to use them in this manner.
One of the two “commandments” we had in the religious institution that we established in the ’60s called the League for Spiritual Discovery was “Thou shall not change the consciousness of another person without their consent.” On the surface, this means don’t dose anyone without their knowledge. Dosing someone without them knowing it is a mean-spirited form of violence. Our consciousness, limited as it may be, is ours. It is intensely personal. It is also our entry and connection with Divine consciousness. So to dose someone without their knowledge is to mess around with their connection with God. To do this for fun or revenge is nothing short of an abomination. It is disgusting and the height of unconsciousness. This is sin.
Now, let’s look at changing someone’s consciousness with their knowledge and permission. When one enters into the field of consciousness to explore or find God, unity, healing, inspiration, beauty, or love, one is making a commitment to meditate or work, or to take a psychedelic in a conscious or purposeful way to find one’s self or gain some hidden inner knowledge. This is one’s promise to one’s self. This is extremely personal. It is between one’s own heart and mind, and God’s. No one else’s.
When you take an inner voyage, you may be asking someone to assist you. This someone may know more about this journey than you do. This person has made the trip before. This person knows, perhaps, how to navigate his or her path without fear and stumbling. This person does not know your path. Nevertheless, a calm, loving presence while you are passing through the rough patches and sticky bits may be helpful to you, if you want it. This is your trip. Your mind. Your idea. Your freedom. You take the responsibility for your trip. This is not really social. Even if you are in a cuddle-puddle this is your personal connection with love. The other person is only a mirror, a friend, a companion, a helper.
So when someone sets up an experiment—a program with some “idea” behind it, some agenda—they are imposing a kind of mind-trip on the psychedelic experience. The environment may then have to accord with medical, psychological, or even governmental rules, precepts, and regulations. Even if the person running the program wants to demonstrate how useful and helpful these substances are, the very fact that there is an exterior organized program controlling the way in which the substance is administered interferes with the nature of the experience. Such a program in a clinical environment may produce some interesting results, but this is not the entheogenic or sacramental use of these substances. This applied program (curing, drug abuse, psychotomimetic model, or whatever) is a linear kind of thing—a control and concept modality that does not even begin touch on the true potential of what can be a very profound multilevelled experience. It is but one very small window, a tiny part of what is possible, and the part cannot subsume the whole. Holistic, deep spiritual research cannot be authorized by its very nature. Authority does not command God. If authority is an organized and limited temporary utilitarian structure, when its use is finished, it is disposable. God is not disposable. Neither are people.
Consciousness research and exploration must always be unauthorized to be authentic. Authorization is simply irrelevant. This does not mean we cast psychedelics hither and yon all over the landscape irresponsibly. It means that this is a deeply personal, tender, passionate search for self-realization. No one can tell you this. You must learn it for yourself. This is your love dance with yourself. For anyone to diddle with the controls in a gross or even subtle way, it distorts things (to put it “objectively”). To put it subjectively, it’s simply perversion.
[pullquotecenter]We must never forget, no matter how much disinformation is spread, that these substances are inert, innocent materials. It is we who interact with them and confer the variety of qualities that we attribute to them.[/pullquotecenter]
Let’s look at it from another angle—a scientific angle. There is a concept sometimes referred to as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Put simply, it means that the act of observing something changes the nature of that which is being observed (in subatomic particles). The very act of just observing it. In our social life this happens all of the time.
For example, you walk into a room full of people. They look at you. You act very differently than you would if that room were empty. What might the fundamental effect of having substances administered by strangers (albeit possibly friendly strangers) who are taking notes, monitoring heart rate, respiration, video and audio taping, talking, whispering, or what-have you, in a technical, clinical environment? Obviously the nature of the journey will be profoundly influenced and changed from what it could be if the “subject” were in a natural, private, aesthetically pleasing environment. No one is going to be entirely comfortable in a clinical setting. There is an agenda here. This agenda is not up to the standard of a spiritual, friendly, and supportive environment. Strange smells, strange sounds, and the wrong kind of lighting, pervade. Past memories of doctor’s offices—pain, poking, injections, etc.—can arise. This has to change the nature of the experience. It is simply laboratory experiments with human beings being used as experimental lab animals.
The highest use of psychedelics and the empathogens is for finding love, beauty, joy, ecstasy, unity, and integration. This search for our essential inner perfection and Godliness is the spiritual search. When these substances are used this way, they are used for the highest good. Then they are sacraments, and we can call them entheogens. We must never forget, no matter how much disinformation is spread, that these substances are inert, innocent materials. It is we who interact with them and confer the variety of qualities that we attribute to them. It is we who have the choice to malign, terrorize, or scandalize them. It is also we who have the choice to treat them with the respect due to a gift from existence that can help in our search to find ourselves. And in doing so, to find the glory of love and illumination.
There may be some skeptics who say, “How did we get so deeply into spiritualism and God?” Yet, we have many accounts of elves, guardians, extra-terrestrials, and magicians that we see on DMT. What’s going on here? If we can accept imps, little monsters, and elves from this DMT spirit world, why cannot we accept God?
Let’s approach this topic from another neglected aspect. What is happening when we ingest DMT and reach this level of elves? Perhaps we are accessing the ultimate significant spirit of life when we apprehend these animated and symbolic representations. We may be intuiting the universal life code—the DNA molecule—which is found by the trillions all over the body. Perhaps the elves and imps are small subloops of information that we are accessing, which show how we can re-unify parts of our program that have gotten out of kilter. It has to come from somewhere, so why not look closer, rather than further? It seems that man’s search for knowledge started from the stars with the Greeks, and slowly worked its way closer and inward, until we are finally looking at the genetic engineering that is the basis of life. It is looking like the DNA molecule is possibly the origin of our spirituality also.
Look at it as though consciousness were a set of stairs. Each stair represents a higher level of health, integration, and preparedness. The purer our intention, the greater the possible results become.
One time many years ago in the penitentiary on McNeil Island we had managed to get a group of psychedelic prisoners living all together in one of the 8-man cells. Every Saturday night we would sit together in a circle around a little makeshift shrine, and take LSD, as well as smoke DMT. One of our cell mates, whom we could not dislodge from the cell, was an exception. He was a Mafia hitman. Sick as he was, he eventually gave it a try. The night he smoked DMT he came out of it with a look of astonishment and awe, and he said, “That’s the first time I’ve gone to church in 30 years.” Even this stone-cold killer could recognize the sacred. DMT creates a well-spring into a type of infinite space. You can feel and taste it, as it moves through your whole being like a cool refreshing breeze on a hot sticky day. Like a mother’s soothing touch on your fevered brow, but much deeper and more profound. You can feel the wind of the Divine blowing through your soul. Not every time—it is a trial and error process of finding the best moment, the best preparation, a moment when you are already in a great space. Then you can catapult into the vastness of Godliness, and this is the highest fulfillment in life.
So much time is wasted trying to find a rational excuse for using the psychedelics. A use that can open the door for government approval. Let’s cure some junkies of their habit. What for? The government-backed prosecution of drug users creates the problem. The problem is fictional. So we are going to use a sacrament to cure a non-existent problem? It has been said that the psychedelic voyage is a trip from wellness to even greater wellness. I agree. To use these sacraments only in a perverse application is to bring them down to a much lower level than their potential. What my experience indicates is that the most profound way to use psychedelics is to create ideal, healthy, high-energy environments with people who are in top form—then you will be able to approach the highest. Yes, the sacraments are curative and can be used that way, but it is all about curing, on any level.
[pullquoteleft]From whatever level you begin, the psychedelics will enhance, intensify, deepen, or broaden your experience, but they are working with the level of consciousness you provide them.[/pullquoteleft]Look at it as though consciousness were a set of stairs. Each stair represents a higher level of health, integration, and preparedness. At the bottom one can use the psychedelics with beer, opium, and cocaine to have a wilder party. One can use them to lose one’s self, have great sex, etc. Fine and good; nothing really wrong, if that’s what you want to do—it beats shooting people and raping the environment! This is, however, a low level of consciousness. Then you go up a few levels and you think that you can do some good with these compounds. Let’s use them for studying madness or curing addiction. Still a pretty low level of consciousness and no real commitment to personal development. This use is directed outward, not inward. Change comes from within—it can never be imposed from the outside. The next step up it occurs that maybe you could use psychedelics for finding answers to questions in your life, perhaps even for vision questing. Now we’re beginning to start on a more consciousness-oriented trip. But how are we doing it? Are we really arranging it so that we are creating an environment that unequivocally sets the stage for a leap into consciousness, or are we programming the trip with interruptions (telephone calls, visitors)? The purer our intention, the greater the possible results become. It can be quite subtle. You cannot plan it all out beyond a certain point or it becomes a control trip. You cannot program out spontaneity, but you can be intelligent and sensitive, and remember not to make the same mistake too many times in a row. Then you can use the psychedelics as an adjunct to tantra, meditation and/or yoga, devoting your entire trip to learning to go deep in these disciplines while continuing these practices on a long-term basis. This is the highest, most visionary, and most productive level. From whatever level you begin, the psychedelics will enhance, intensify, deepen, or broaden your experience, but they are working with the level of consciousness you provide them.
I have been using psychedelics for over 40 years productively and creatively. Of course, how I take them has changed over the years, otherwise it would be senseless repetition. Many people, especially youngsters, take them for a while, change from that experience a bit, and then turn away without discovering the staircase effect that is the practice of consciously choosing the highest level of existence possible at that time of your life, and launching your trip from that place. Even less known is that DMT, according to your readiness, will manifest on one of three levels: 1) the design and symbol level; 2) the messenger level; and 3) an ineffable level of total communion with the Mystery.
The saddest thing is to waste these potentials when experimenting with this truly great psychedelic. To hear of doctors dancing on government’s strings for carrots of money, power and prestige, while cringing from whips of criticism and disenfranchisement, during the very act of turning someone on and polluting their trip with this nonsense, strikes me as the height of unconsciousness. If this is not appropriate behavior for a curandero, how is this acceptable for a doctor in a modern society?
The proof of the pudding is that Strassman’s subjects have formed a support group because they thought that they might be losing their minds! What they need is an entirely supportive environment and free access to more DMT so that they can create their own sacred space away from government agents and all of that paranoid and polluting programming that occurs in “authorized” settings.
Unauthorized settings are free settings. Authority is slavery. Only in a free and supportive environment of grace and love, aesthetic and compassionate caring, can this sacrament be used to attain the highest. The freedom to practice this fundamental religious use of DMT must be found again.
[pullquotecenter]Overnight the quality of magic that we had created was invested with fear. Although nothing illegal had been found and psychedelics had not yet been scheduled, the reign of terror had begun. The Inquisition had arrived.[/pullquotecenter]
Once there was a time when we could gather together lovingly, and peacefully take sacraments together. Hardly anyone remembers that time now. The ambience of government terrorism against psychedelics produces a very different set and setting. I was a guide at the Millbrook League for Spiritual Discovery. This was a legally-incorporated religion whose charter included the use of psychedelic sacraments. When one night the door was criminally kicked in by G. Gordon Liddy (now convicted burglar of Watergate infamy), that changed forever. Overnight the quality of magic that we had created was invested with fear. Although nothing illegal had been found and psychedelics had not yet been scheduled, the reign of terror had begun. The Inquisition had arrived. It is flourishing even more now. The negative effects of the government-supported substances of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are more than a hundred times worse than all illegal drugs together. (If you consider only the psychedelics, empathogens, and herbs such as Cannabis, these government supported drugs are thousands of times more harmful.) Yet we are criminals, and soon we may go to federal prison for only talking or writing about scheduled plants and compounds!
The Bill of Rights is dead. No religious freedom. No free speech. No right of association. No right of assembly. The people who call us “druggies” are the true criminals. Explorers of consciousness are persecuted, jailed, and vilified by the people in charge of this inquisition—hypocrites, who are rarely called “druggies,” despite their frequent addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine (some of the most consciousness lowering drugs known to man). These “drug warriors” fear expanded consciousness because it exposes the lies and perversions of their loveless and violent lives. In desperate acts of self-serving stupidity, they blame others for the very sins of which they would rid themselves. Although the consciousness explorers are the victims of this reign of terror, it has nothing to do with us. It is just the mindless raging of the beast. It is important to remain transparent and cloudlike in the face of this. This incredibly vast wash of lies and cruelty must be ignored. This is their battle with themselves. Do not be washed away in the waves of disinformation and lies. Stay centered. Know thyself. Stay with that thread of truth and love that you have discovered within; even though it fades in and out, it is your inner truth and the doorway to your own authority.
I am a “criminal.” I am a fugitive. I have been for 40 years. But I have been true to myself and my friends. It has been hard. But I have a vision. Someday, somewhere, I will establish the University for Psychedelic Studies. There will be a department of psychedelic botany and chemistry. There will be a beautiful park and temple with lawns and ponds, peacocks, swans, and wildlife walking fearlessly. There will be pavilions for initiation. There will be a department of entheogenic worship. There will be a school of psychedelic medicine and curing. There will be acres of psychedelic herb gardens. There will be places to dance and places to meditate. There will be a school of yoga, tantra, and a “Mystery” school. A school for breathing, for art, music, for meditation, for ecological and planetary studies as well as applications. A school for love and one for beauty. There will be no government inspectors or police. They will not be necessary. There will be guides, friends, helpers, and lovers. On the new level of consciousness struggling to be born now, this will be how it is, for the old way of competition, murder, and exploitation is fast becoming an impossible situation. This planet must be lovingly cared for or we are all doomed. We are the guardians of life and planetary harmony. This is where we are going. That is what I have seen in my visions, and that is what I have been working for all of my life. That is what I will continue to do until my last breath.
Care to dance?
Liked this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed to get much more!