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Beyond the Machine Elves: On DMT Culture, Visionary Plants and Entheodelic Storytelling

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“Mind-altering substances are usually left out of the culture-building paradigm, either through following incomplete data, or because of political correctness, and it has distorted our interpretation regarding beliefs and rituals and decision making, not only by our ancient ancestors, but in more modern times as well.” -John A. Rush [1]

DMT Culture

With the alien-like(?) technologies of the tryptamine family, the 21st century person has the chance for a cyberpunk method of self defense against info-overload. In fact, hitting the reset button on the nervous system and blipping out of the hyper mediated matrix war on consciousness that is post-modern life, and instead being melded seamlessly into the realm of shamanic self-initiation that lies beyond the imagistic astral plane has never been quite so easy. This timeless entheogenic technology has long been latent in indigenous cultures in acacia trees [2] and elsewhere abundant in nature [3] since time immemorial.

Of course, one may decide that the “slow walk to the other side of reality”, as Graham Hancock says, is better than the rocketship. The lengthy action of DMT as found in ayahuasca and it’s analogues is likely a much more workable situation than being entirely dissolved into the ether, hence the reason that DMT snuffs being traditionally reserved after one undergoes a more formal dialogue and training with spirit helpers, with help from the vine guiding one through the DMT innerspace.

Nonetheless, access to the infinite metaphysical bliss glitter of the tryptamine palace is often considered an entirely modern chemical/synthetic invention, a still taboo shortcut that goes against “natural” entheogens, (such as the DMT containing ayahuasca, but also datura, iboga, peyote, psilocybin, salvia, and syrian rue) not to mention the staunch yogic asceticism [4] popular with New Age types. But cutting edge research post Terence McKenna has boldly declared these ancient tryptamine snuff techniques [5] as being reserved for the shamanic elite of elder shamanic cultures, and, controversially, possibly even in use before some of the above mentioned entheogens [6]. Entheogen use in traditional cultures centered around healing and divinatory purposes, and even the great Mircea Eliade [7] infamously recounted his omission of visionary plant tools in the context of the academic study of shamanism [8] towards the end of his life.

Of course, once the spirit returns to the body, these natural forms of altering consciousness (along with more mild doses of etheogens) can also help to stabilize and ground oneself after the cosmically daunting supersensory Sound-Light of the infamous hyperspace journey, so that the DMT-lag doesn’t disrupt the harmony of the pristine astral body.

Part of the reason for what is the undoubtedly the most outrageous religious history cover up of the our time is due to these methods being previously barred to the common spiritual seeker, as these tryptamine sacraments were not given until those seekers who bled, sweat, and cried on the moss covered temple walls were approved by the pyramid structure of shamanic-priest elite. In traditional shamanic cultures, cosmic transport systems that immediately provide consistent out of body and near death experiences (such as DMT/5-MeO-DMT and salvia) are simply reserved for those who have already proved mastery with the more gentle and slower acting entheo-technology found in the global visionary plant family. For one must die in order to truly live.

In the far out hyperspace modality of the tryptamine consciousness, the clattering whispers of dark entities are forever blocked out by the bliss-love dazzle of the Divine Mind. Thus, the paradoxical power of entheogens is to verify the ontological status of the Gods as distinct entities with separate supersensory agendas, rather than just the fleeting archetypes of our mind–while also allowing those who follow the path of light to vanquish said nefarious entities, who may serve as stumbling blocks to the path the central goal of any self-respecting mystic; Union with the eternal Godhead.

The current DMT culture (at least as it stands online) is thus in stark contrast to the ever present machine elves meme located in Terrence McKenna’s work (and to a lesser extent, Rick Strassman’s pioneering research)–both of whom seem to inadvertently promote a sort of a sci-fi alien reductionism[9] located in the mysterious tryptamine phenomena, to the point of forgetting that there is a whole non-linear holographic world waiting beyond the dreaded elf guardians of the white void. A world that, moreover, benevolently points to a dynamic and organic interaction with supernatural spirits who teach about metaphysical mysteries according to the specific readiness of each individual seeker.

Visionary Plants and Entheodelic Storytelling


Strassman’s new book, DMT and the Soul of Prophecy [10], however, serves to redeem his early sci-fi focus by broadening the approach to spiritual revelation found in religious mythology itself. This is a perfect entry point to what Rak Razam, Jeremy Johnson and I have deemed Entheodelic Storytelling [11], a contemporary literary paradigm that emphasizes the non-linear metaphysical worlds opened up by visionary plants and other forms of consciousness altering techniques.

This art movement is perhaps best represented in visual form by Rak Razam’s film Aya Awakenings. In fiction, Graham Hancock’s ayahuasca influenced novel trilogy beginning with Entangled, John David Ebert’s metaphysical interpretation of Sandman, and also my own genre-hopping graphic novel trilogy KALI-YUGA are some recent examples. See also “What is Entheodelic Storytelling.”

KALI-YUGA concerns the infamous wizard Abaraiis, who undergoes sessions with the “elder brew” and is trained by the elemental spirits to attain the wisdom of profound metaphysical magic in order to defeat the Gnostic archon-esque lizard kings—Kaos sorcery masters who can manipulate the fabric of space-time itself. This, and my forthcoming transhumanism influenced meta-entheogenic narrative The Xenark Trilogy, starring the last cyborg wizard who uses glitch magick, the most sought after alien drug DMZ, and the runes to bring kaos to the Order of Gods—are the most recent entries into this newly budding genre.

Using the term entheodelic (God/divine manifesting) is also in direct philosophical contrast to the earlier psychedelic literature (mind manifesting). This budding literary genre hopes to give proper credence to elder shamanic cultures who focused on using entheogenic tools to realize the ineffable mystical union with the Godhead—rather than just tripping out and having a grand ol’ time. Author Simon G. Powell [12] has also noted that one of the primary features of entheogens is to discover the voice of the Other, or the hyper-dimensional living wisdom of the Gods that speaks through the user of entheogens.”

While much has been said in the so called New Aeon about positive intent and the “creation of your own reality”, (brought into popular consciousness by Aleister Crowley and Morrison’s infamous use of magick to bring upon the desire or Will of the magician), this philosophy still seems to indicate emphasis on the illusory ego and the notion of a “doer” who is separate from the Divine Will itself. But the artist in the shamanic tradition was not creating without the approval of the holographic spirit guardians latent in visionary plants like genies waiting to be freed, who go past the individual ego to provide a sacred intent, one that manifests from the will of spirits themselves.

While Alex Grey has covered this framework admirably for the visionary art spectrum [13], sacred intent should also be equally as important for future storytellers who wish to heal themselves and their culture by realizing that everything in the history of consciousness is in fact a story, and if we can rediscover storytelling as a bonafide healing modality and Narrative Medicine, as the ancients shamans once did [14], then there may be some hope for the West, still suffocated in the antiquated Cult of Self that lies at the heart of Hollywood.

Underground cyberpunk shamans that grow by number everyday and thrive on the bleeding edge of psychedelic news as the internet brings entheodelic culture to the mainstream (and how the mainstream will in turn distort it, such as in Gaspar Noe’s experimental Enter the Void or the ayahuasca influenced Avatar) will of course already have access to the main thrust of this information without having to reference literature through translinguistic visionary art and entheodelic storytelling, but it’s still helpful to have it around as art therapy for those who haven’t caught up with the main current.

Filtering the latest word encased info-drips of entheogenic research into typically wordless visionary art/music sector is impossible, but the contemporary storytelling and mythologizing found in literature, comics and film remains ripe for what will undoubtedly be an explosion in a novel form of 21st century myth that is directly informed by the spirit of the Gods themselves.


[1] Entheogens and the Development of Culture: The Anthropology and Neurobiology of Ecstatic Experience pp. x-xi.

[2] Ethnobotonist Giorgio Samorini argues that the desire to experience altered states of consciousness is a natural drive shared by all living beings and that animals engage in these behaviors deliberately. The post Terrence Mckenna argument for psychoactive plants being at the forefront of the evolution of culture and art is perhaps most clearly argued for by Paul Devereux, Christian Rätsch, and Carl Ruck, and also in the recent anthology Entheogens and the Development of Culture: The Anthropology and Neurobiology of Ecstatic Experience where we find that psychoactivity is not only found in plants but also fish, milk, and (more speculatively) deer. For DMT specific information on this topic see DMT Nexus forum moderator Nen888’s 80+ page indexed acacia and religion manifesto here, as well as a podcast between Rak Razam and Nen: The DreaMTime Invasion-DMT and the Roots of Religion.

[3] See James Oroc’s Tryptamine Palace for information on how 5-MeO-DMT is secreted from the venom glands of Bufo Alvarius.

[4] However, Yoga/meditation can work as supplementary path, in order to stabilize and integrate the visions or NDE one may encounter with entheogens. Practitioners of Surat Shabd Yoga, in particular, reports of peak experiences strikingly similar to DMT/5-MeO-DMT in it’s central goal of uniting with the sound/light of God, the creative force of the universe itself.


[6] Oroc provides evidence that 5-MeO-DMT may date back to ancient antiquity, highlighting the artistic depictions of venomous glands found on the sacred bufo alvarius and it’s popularity in Mayan and Inca art, which stretches back to the conservative estimate of 2,000 BCE. Tryptamine Palace p. 108.

[7] For shamanic themes in mythology that may also inspire future entheodelic literature see the three volume History of Religious Ideas, The Eliade Guide to World Religions and Eliade’s disciple Ioan P. Culianu’s Out of this World: Otherworldly Journeys from Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein.

[8] For lesser known sources of how visionary plants inform shamanic states of consciousness see Cactus of Mystery: The Shamanic Powers of the Peruvian San Pedro Cactus and Shamanic Quest for the Spirit of Salvia by Ross Heaven, Stephan V. Beyer’s Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, Rak Razam’s Aya Awakenings: A Shamanic Odyssey, Jim Dekorme’s Psychedelic Shamanism, Michael Harner’s Hallucinogens and Shamanism, Metzner’s “Hallucinogenic Drugs and Plants in Psychotherapy and Shamanism”, and “The Deer-Maize-Peyote Symbol Complex among the Huichol Indians of Mexico” by Barbara Myerhoff. For the ancient context see Wasson, Hofmann and Ruck’s The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries. See also Robert Forte’s anthology Entheogens and the Future of Religion.

[9] For more information on the value of post-McKenna DMT research see Martin Ball’s Terence on Dmt and the reply by Peter Meyer. A forthcoming title from North Atlantic books Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics and Language at the Edge of the Unspeakable by Diana Slattery also focuses on the alien glyphs commonly found by psychonauts in the tryptamine palace. Alien reductionism is most explicit in the anthology edited by Strassman Inner Paths to Outer Space, and while there is no doubt evidence for this phenomenon in DMT experience, it is in no way the most interesting or penetrating part of the new research with tryptamines, especially in light of how 5-MeO-DMT seems to bypass this astral space entirely. I agree with the author Ayes: “DMT is not a re-run of X-files“.

[10] Rick Strassman “Old Testament Prophecy – A Western Model of the Psychedelic Experience

[11] Early entries that hint at the future direction of entheodelic storytelling can be found as early as Herbert’s 1965 Dune, where spice is essentially the direct literary equivalent of DMT, as it aids in faster-than-light navigation. A more recent film entry is Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. In a deleted scene found on the DVD the character Tom partakes of a mushroom sacrament before meditating and undergoing tai-chi type rituals in the floating space bubble.

[12] See Powell’s The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning.

[13] See Grey’s The Mission of Art. For an alternative perspective on sacred art from the standpoint of the Perennial Philosophy, see Traditionalisn: Religion in the Light of the Perennial Philosophy by Harry Oldmeadow.

[14] Arguments for sacred narrative as a form of therapy can be found in Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s work. Entheogens as a form of therapy is perhaps best Neal M. Goldsmith’s Psychedelic Healing: The Promise of Entheogens for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Development.

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