Above photo is copyright Patrick Potts, 2010, and may NOT be used in any form without explicit written permission.
I should start this with a disclaimer of sorts. Dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT) is a Schedule 1 hallucinogenic chemical, widely available in several plants and naturally occurring in trace amounts in the human body. It is my belief that DMT plays a very important role in humans, however, I do not condone the uneducated use of this chemical. There have been no deaths as a result of use, nor any cases of permanent psychological harm. I suggest reading Dr. Rick Strassman’s book DMT: The Spirit Molecule for further information about N,N DMT. I can not be held responsible for your choices concerning N,N DMT. The time frame of these experiences is not mentioned, but rest assured, it was not recent.
The Information Overload
The first time I ever heard about DMT, I was browsing the vast internet in search of nothing more than something to read. I usually glance around Wikipedia, random blog sites, and the occasional news site. For reasons unknown to me, I have always been curious about psychedelics. Initially it was the idea of seeing, hearing, or feeling something that was not there. I found that interesting, almost a way to dream while awake. The problem with that idea, however, is that it’s based in the thought that “drugs” are for recreational use. I never once thought about their use all throughout ancient history. I had never heard of the South American tribes that used Ayahuasca to commune with the spirits of the earth.
It’s difficult to recall what exactly it was that I had clicked to bring me to it, but it was a link to Erowid, a large database of psychoactives available for those interested in responsible knowledge. I found myself absolutely captivated, finally reading all about mushrooms, LSD, DMT, Ayahuasca, Amanita Muscaria, and a great number of other plants or chemicals. The most interesting aspect of this site, the great archive of user written experience reports. Good trips, bad trips, health problems, nightmares, you name it. Hours turned to days, I was reading this site every chance I had. You might be thinking this unhealthy, but you may not be familiar with how my mind works once it latches onto a subject.
Some would believe this a bad influence. That by reading this, I was corrupted into wanting to use these great sounding chemicals I was reading about. Up to that point, I had only smoked marijuana a few times in my life and saw nothing truly wrong with using it responsibly. For some, the idea of that is unfathomable. However, responsibility becoming taboo in our culture is a completely different subject. For the most part, I didn’t have a great drive to test the limits of my mind and body. I did notice an interest that was clinging. One certain chemical kept catching my eye. I found it intriguing, as if it was some fantasy chemical. All the stories of it were gleaming like diamonds in a rough of bad trips. It was consistently therapeutic, and yet a physiological mystery. DMT had found me.
Part of my obsession was based in the strange facts I was reading about it. For one, DMT is the single most powerful hallucinogen known to man. It occurs naturally in the body for reasons that we still don’t know. It is naturally produced in many living things, in fact, not just the human brain. Our bodies even have a specific way of regulating it! When DMT enters the body, MAO enzymes destroy it within minutes. The brain seems to know exactly when it’s needed. One of the most mind blowing facts about DMT, is that it exists in psychedelic mushrooms (Psilocybin) as the compound 4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. There is no molecular structure on earth that is anything like 4-hydroxy-DMT. It is almost completely alien to this planet’s biology. To put it plainly, there is a seemingly alien compound in a common fungus that has a highly active human brain chemical. The kicker? The compound being slightly modified causes it to not be destroyed efficiently by your body’s MAO enzymes.
It was as if I had stepped into a boat, kicked off into a high-speed river, and sent myself down a waterfall of information. As inspiring as Psilocybin chemistry was (and is), I was entranced by South American Shamanism. You see, these tribal Shamans had learned something incredible. They had discovered long ago a very important combination of chemicals. Harmala and Harmine, active alkaloids of the B. Caapi vine, the Vine of Souls. Also known as the Vine of the Dead. This vine was used to make a brew, a nauseating and bitter brew. It had the effect of inhibiting the body’s MAO enzyme. These supposedly primitive tribes had discovered a natural MAOI, without hospitals or labs.
When B. Caapi was brewed along with the leaves of the Psychotria viridis plant, it formed a drink that would allow a direct communication with every living thing, and beyond. Through Ayahuasca, a Shaman could see into the very being of life. Could see that every atom was sacred, without even knowing what an atom is. The Shaman could see intertwined serpents, spirits of life, that would later be identified as DNA strands. To this day Shamans in South America use Ayahuasca to diagnose illness, heal mental disorders, and speak with spirits. Ayahuasca is rarely abused as it’s not a fun experience. Beautiful, mind opening, healing, purging, and by far the most intense cleansing of mind and body possible. But far from fun.
So what does it look like? What does it feel like? Like nothing that the human language could ever accurately describe. For this section I will be delving into my experiences with smoked DMT. As frightening as it sounds, smokable DMT is an extracted freebase chemical. Freebase is a scary word thanks to its constant association with hard drugs such as crack and methamphetamine, two drugs I despise and want nothing to do with. In truth, freebase is a term used for the current state of the extracted chemical. A solvent is used to pull out the DMT from the plant material and then is evaporated so all that remains is a nearly clean version of DMT. I’m not typing this to tell you how to do it, as it’s quite illegal, and I’m not one to put people in jail for something we are all in possession of. I simply wanted to preemptively quell the inevitable fear of the “F” word. Thanks Cops.
The smell is almost flowery. It immediately illicits that distinct “something new” response in the brain. It seems familiar, but altogether new. If you have ever experienced that feeling where your brain seems to twist when sensing something completely new, you could expect to feel that a dozen times upon first meeting DMT. Think of DMT as a spaceship, one capable of light speed times an infinity. Imagine all you would have to do in order to travel is breath in, and you would immediately be somewhere else. That is how quick the onset is. The moment the harsh smoke is in the lungs, it’s as if your ship is already blurring the lines of reality, and you realize a very distinct fear. In fact, I have deemed this specific feeling “The Fear.” Creative beyond imagination, I know.
The Fear sets in as you realize your forgot to strap brakes to your rockets. You realize that you honestly have no clue how long you will be gone. In that moment, The Fear seems like the single, most important feeling in the world. That soon fades. When it fades, you are still very much afraid, but it ceases to matter at all. A ringing in your ears grows in volume. It feels physical, as if sound was becoming one with you. Or vice versa, you struggle to cope with simple thoughts sprouting into elaborate fractal spider webs of inner dialogue. As the sound rises you feel a strange sensation in your throat, almost like there is a marble rolling around inside of a spherical room you never knew existed where your throat meets your chest. It disturbs you, but it’s too late to open your eyes, you’re falling up and down at the same time, shattering all meaning of the word “me.”
Your eyes forced themselves closed long ago, you’re realizing a new reality behind their lids. The darkness glows and colors become geometric shapes. There is something startlingly real about the visuals, everything has depth. And this is where I have to become specific. Every single experience is different. As if your special starship picks a random reality each time. For this time, I’ll describe a place I call “The Podium Room.” Again, I realize I am bursting with creativity, try to contain yourself.
In front of you, small, multicolored spirals make up a billion shapes. None of them make sense and you get the overwhelming feeling that something or someone finds this amusing. Suddenly a wall forms in front of you. It is made of a fleshy material, but not in a disgusting or frightening way. There are eyes and mouths, each mocking your emotions and laughing on their own now and then. They are in no particular shape to form a face. Perhaps in the realization of how absurd this vision is, each eye opens wide. You fall down from the wall of eyes and into the most spectacular room your have ever imagined. The sound in your ears is that of a ticking clock, echoing into eternity with every tick and every tock. Odd liquid-like sounds fill your mind. Drip, drop, droop, blop, blip, bloop. But there is another sound rising above all, almost a chorus of “Ahhh,” but more alien. There is something about it that is so musical, but at the same moment, it’s not sound at all. It’s a vibration emanating from the room around you.
The room stretches forward, bright white light emanating from everything, but especially the beyond ahead of you. The walls, floors, and ceiling are made of fractal tiles. Each tile animated with a precisely symmetrical organic image. Pulsing, moving with life, vibrating its chorus. The center of the room draws your attention, a raised podium is ahead, white light beaming from it. You look in awe, and just as you realize a very strange feeling rising inside of you, a voice echoes silently from the podium. “You have been here, you will return.”
The walls vibrate in discord and tears show like fabric. The tick tock fades to the sound of air moving. A twitching sensation comes into being, your ripping image falls from you and dancers move in the dark to say goodbye. The twitching starts to thud, then thump, then finally becomes the full “thump-thump” of your beating heart. The moving air is realized quickly as your own breathing. The buzzing, dripping, ringing of somewhere else become your room. You reluctantly open your eyes and tears stream down your face. At first you can’t help but question whether or not you’re sad or happy. You grin and realize it never mattered, you are happy because you exist.
I dwelled on this experience, my first breakthrough, for a long time. The weeks after this experience were the best I had felt in a long time. I had no desire to do DMT for a good while after that. That experience lasted no more than six minutes. I was in that other place for several hours, this I know. But like a dream, it started to crumble almost as soon as I came back, so I documented it in writing. I am forever glad I did, since writing it into words solidified the experience in my mind. I can recall every aspect of it, but one aspect echoes in my mind.
“You have been here, you will return.”