NOW SERVING Psychedelic Culture

Boom Festival 2010: Divine Mothership of Trance

My eyes open upon a lakeside vision.

As I come up, by me sits a woman who might be an Elven princess from epic
Tolkien. She bears an uncompromising grin, and I imagine a light jeweled
coronetelle wound about her brow as her gaze is cast across the bight.
Sparkling azure eyes are fixed upon the structures on the other side, now
fading under brilliant pre-twilight.

I too had been surveying shapes on the Other Side — its contours now also
receding from view. For some duration, perhaps fifteen minutes or so, my
sensorium had been exposed to vistas of inter-dimensional proportions, remote
visions, spectral gifts that played havoc with my normative space-time
continuum. Here, lakeside, I had been submerged in a world parallel to the
“real”. While it is a “world” to which I am unaware in daily life, within the
Mothership where The Veils had thinned to a flickering filigree, these worlds
had collided.

I had been visited in this duration by hyperspatial emissaries, bearers of
gifts presented to me as in a series of objects unfolding in a longue durée of
brilliant patterns; offered Persian-like carpets rolling out incessantly and
self-unfurling banners festooned with motifs I could hardly understand;
unloaded containers evoking God’s Tool Box, with countless back-lit panels
opening before me like drawers within drawers within drawers; revealed puzzles
possessing morphing shapes and shifting depths like inter-dimensional Rubiks
Cubes. I was enticed by a divine strip-tease performed by animate Matryoshka
dolls shedding infinite layers of finely embroidered safran garments the
discarding of which never obtained absolute exposure. It was a ceaseless
operation, and all I could do was stare in complete wonderment, with my eyes
closed, and my mouth ajar, at the process of revelation. I wish I possessed the
mechanism to understand the contents of these gifts, were operating the program
to process the data, had installed the wares to recognise the Logos, held the
knowledge to reassemble this hyperspatial Kinder Surprise.

With eyes closed, I had been gazing upon a world parallel to my own, just as
she had been gazing across the lake to the other side. We are equally overcome
by the wondrous images encountered. And as our vistas merge under a carnival of
reflected lights, I see that which grows mesmerising in the faded heat and
light of this day.

We are hunkering in the dirt across a small bay of Lake Idanha-a-Nova,
Portugal. On the other side lie clusters of bizarre tents and fantastic
structures like those found in an oasis of sound and vision to which one has
trekked many thousands of kilometers. The structures belong to the zen
gardenesque Healing
, a Puja Tent, Sound Temple, yurts, Sweat Lodges, tipis, mandala
meditation and massage therapy buildings.

And more immediately across the bight stands the elegant
Sacred Fire stage. Bearing a roof resembling a princely turban, it has been
established upon a rise above a fire burning near the water’s edge. Its flames
are visible on a point of the lake where a puja ritual was held during the
Opening Ceremony one week ago. The Sacred Fire was the scene of a tumultuous
orgy of ethno-trance acts last night (including Wild Marmalade, Hilight Tribe
and Ganga Giri), the eve of the Full Moon when there was also a fire

We are at the 2010 edition of Portugal’s Boom Festival. Founded by Diogo Ruivo
and Pedro Carvalho in 1997, the biannual festival has evolved into a sacred
site for enthusiasts of psychedelic music, art and culture, who have descended,
like us, upon this lakeside site in the Beira Baixa province, from locations
around the globe. For thirteen years, Boom has been the venue for the ecstatic
and consciousness expanding expression of the Goa vibe (see short film on Boom history):
a veritable psychedelic Mothership. And now, here we are, being abducted by the
vibe. Behind us, back around our peninsula, abductees are probed by bass,
protracting their limbs and winding their heads on another plane, at the Groovy
Beach stage, this year a magnificent horned structure built by the people from
the Do Lab. (see video).

Back beyond
the Groovy Beach, lay an extraordinary shanty oasis at which there was always
something new to hear and see: the Golden Shack Gamelatron (a collaboration between Shrine and Taylor Kuffnery). Beyond the Gamelatron, at the festival’s
crossroads, lay another oasis, nothing less than the Ambient Paradise, the
chill stage purposely built like a decompression chamber with calming LED
lights and which at its centre holds a stage with dragon sculptures reclining
above a pool of water.

To our right we are captivated,
for in that direction lies the Dance Temple. Down in the Temple over the past
week we have been treated to sensual wonderments, premiere sounds on the
psychedelic continuum, from polished Goa nuggets care of Man With No Name and
Psychopod, night sounds of the likes of REV, electrance care of Perfect
Stranger, progressive psyvibes manipulated by Zen Mechanics, M-Theory and Flip
Flop et al, to soaring morning melodies orchestrated by James Munro, Antix and
Sally Doolally. In this global sacred site for the psytrance community built by
Belgian visionary François and with design input from Android Jones and
programming of Alfredo Vasconselos, we had been exposed to the work of Dick
Trevor who could surely be awarded an honorary doctorate in Psychedelic Science
at the Advanced School of Re/Mixing (and who recently played a devastating four
hour set at the Ozora Festival — probably the best set to which I’ve been
privileged) and Treavor Walton, founder of California’s Moontribe, who, wearing
a t-shirt reading “Dance You Fuck” (I needed no such encouragement), not for
the first time this season, unleashed a vocal sample care of Israeli duo
Quantize which evoked the underlying theme of the year, week and day …. “heavy
doses of Dimethyltryptamine”.

Allow me to digress. Found in various plants, produced in
the human brain (according to Rick Strassman in The Spirit Molecule, the pineal gland), and often smoked (“free
based”) in a chillum with an effect lasting between 15-30 minutes, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine,
or DMT, was spruiked by Terence McKenna as one of the most powerful vehicles
for inter-dimensional transit. He wrote in True
s that its “strangeness and power so exceeded that of other
hallucinogens, that di-methyltryptamine and its chemical relatives seemed
finally to define, for our little circle at any rate, maximum exfoliation-the
most radical and flowery unfolding-of the hallucinogenic dimension that can
occur without serious risk to psychic and bodily integrity.” While William
Burroughs reported traumatic experiences mainlining synthetic DMT at high
doses, McKenna was a cheerleader for tryptamines, efforts echoing his personal
commitment to spiritual technologies believed integral to humanity’s push
toward liberation in transpersonal consciousness, and his indebtedness to
Hermeticism, the search for the “philosopher’s stone” or lapis philosophorum-“nothing less”, he wrote in the same source,
than “the redemption of fallen humanity through the respiritualization of
matter” (1993: 77).

Since the 1990s, references to DMT escalated within psytrance productions-in
which McKenna remains the most commonly sampled individual, his popularity
proliferating following his death in 2000. Indeed, like a familiar from the
beyond speaking on behalf of the multitudes who continue to encounter
hyperspatial dimensions, his immortal brogue is stamped all over psytrance
productions. For instance, on their debut self-titled album, 1200 Micrograms
filter McKenna recollecting a life-changing experience from 1966: “I remember
the very very first time I smoked DMT…” (“DMT”, TIP.World, 2002). Throughout
the decade, artists projected McKenna as something resembling a seer. In 2001,
Avihen Livne teemed up with Jörg Kessler and, as Cosma Shiva, producing “In
Memory of Terence McKenna” on the EP by that name. The psychedelic dirge
invokes McKenna: “vaporize it in a small glass pipe” … “a shaman is someone who
has been to the end, is someone who knows how the world really works” … “what
the alien voice in the psychedelic experience wants to reveal is …” and later
the ghost of McKenna speaks in the unintelligible alien tongue he would
sometimes deliver in his presentations.

With their material saturated in the effects of DMT and ayahuasca, the Shpongle-inspired ethnodelic outfit Entheogenic
(Helmut Glavar and Piers Oak-Rhind) offer a sounding board for McKenna. The
opening track on Spontaneous Illumination
(C.O.R.N. Recordings, 2003), “Ground Luminocity”, heads off into a deep
jungle vibe, with bird calls, insects buzzing and water flowing over rocks, all
nurtured by flute and warm percussive lines. And like an epigram, the voice of
McKenna: “The search for a doorway out of mundane experience …. Nature is the
great visible engine of creativity” (Ott’s 2005 remix of “Ground Luminocity”
[Entheogenic, Dialogue of the Speakers,
Chillcode], finishes the sentence: “against which all other creative efforts
are measured”). An apparent tribute to the seminal work co-authored by the
McKennas, “Invisible Landscapes” begins with the bard: “life is a problem to be
solved… its a conundrum. It’s not what it appears to be. There are doors.
There are locks and keys. There are levels. And if you get it right, somehow it
will give way to something extremely unexpected.” “Twilight Eyes” has a classic
orchestral feel, with McKenna averring that “shamans in times and places gained
their power through relationships with helping-spirits”, and with the line
(from I Claudius) “I promise you,
you’ll dream a different story altogether”, the listener is set adrift with
McKenna standing on a ceaseless shoreline proclaiming “imagination, really, is
the last frontier”, while waving the wayfarer off into deep dreamspace.

And now bathed in twilight, I
am seated upon the ceaseless shoreline of Lake Idanha-a-Nova, coming up with
knowing smiles and nodding heads, and shedding tears in recognition of a
permanent impermanence. And like a comic book magi of sacred compounds attired
in crinkled Flower of Life pajamas and appearing majestic against the fading
light, before us dances nanobrain, our hyperdimensional adventure tour guide.
“Acceptance”, “love” and “peace” are the words he’d repeated earlier
before dispensing an alien brogue not dissimilar to that channeled by McKenna.
It has been a long and tiring week at the pulsating heart of the world’s
visionary dance festival, but the tide was in on the shores of possibility.

I am compelled to take further
stock of the cultural aesthetic in which we are implicated. This is a festival
culture whose music has been, for at least fifteen years, quite literally
smudged with DMT. While attempting to locate the first DMT-influenced track is
probably futile, plunged into the Blakeian-infinite which they sought to
resonate, The Infinity Project’s Mystical
(Blue Room Released, 1995) is likely to have been partially
influenced by DMT. The line “I met an alien with a blue aura” (from “Blue
Aura”) is as proximate to DMT-space as Mary Poppins is to nanny duties. In
1997, the legendary Danish mind experimentalists Koxbox went “Searching for
Psychoactive Herbs,” the ultimate track on their Dragon Tales (Blue Room Released), an inspired album cleaving away
from the astral-planes drifters hallmarking the Goa tradition. With the track
“D.M.Turner” (a tribute to author of The
Essential Psychedelic Guide
, D. M. Turner who drowned in his bath in 1996
after injecting a serious dose of ketamine), it appears that their search had
not been in vein. Forming the group DMT in 1998, members of the Goa trance
royal family Raja Ram, Graham Wood, Greg Hunter, Johann Bley and Martin Glover
produced the track “DMT” (Dragonfly
, Dragonfly Records). But it was Shpongle’s landmark Are You Shpongled? (Twisted Records,
1998) that had sung the ode to DMT. With its calypso bassline, “Divine Moments
of Truth” features Raja Ram divulging his experience in DMT-space: “it was like
a gigantic creature, that kept changing shape”.

Over the next ten years and more, references to DMT-space proliferated in music
and cover art, in visionary art and event design. Whether in the work of Carey
Thompson, whose gateway installation the DMTemple became, in 2006, a prominent
feature at festivals in Europe and the United States, including Turkey’s
Soulclipse, Sunrise Celebration, The Glade and Burning Man, as well as Boom (a
variation of which featured at Boom this year), or in the music itself, DMT had
grown legion.

The gateway concept has been
especially appealing. Within the visionary arts and music community, DMT has
been associated with a movement towards a state of grace, a reconcilement to
one’s own physical demise, an encounter with ego-death and indeed mortality
itself. Shpongle had the measure of this on Nothing
Lasts … But Nothing is Lost
(Twisted 2005) on which McKenna had the final
word. On “Exhalation” there’s a break in Raja Ram’s flute and McKenna
eventually exhales: “Nothing is lost…” The track “Nothing is Lost” from the
same release is both a dirge sung for McKenna and an acceptance of
impermanence, offering his master’s voice: “Nothing lasts… nothing lasts.
Everything is changing into something else. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing is wrong.
Everything is on track. William Blake said nothing is lost and I believe that
we all move on.” In this revelatory mode inspirants are challenged to find
peace with the ultimate truth, to accept their inevitable complicity in the
cycle of life/death. “Life must be the preparation for the transition to
another dimension”, explained McKenna on “Molecular Superstructure” from the
same album. With the expansion of personhood enabled by DMT, and with the now
pervasive work of Alex Grey a popular means of expressing comfort with
mortality (see especially his painting “Dying”), the barrier that separates
life from death for us moderns grows ambiguous.

But inside the 2010 Boom
Festival, upon the edge of abduction, just where was all this heading fifteen
years after The Infinity Project’s Mystical

Blue Lunar Monkey’s “Mysterious Xperience” (Beyond
2008) spruiks like a carne: “it starts quite quickly and there’s
quite a strong rush … and there’s quite a display of geometric, kaleidescopic
visual imagery”. But then it grows introspective in ways expected upon a ride
in an amusement park: “I think what may occur with DMT is that it opens
specific doorways, which are otherwise closed. And through those doorways it is
possible to make contact with external freestanding kinds of real experiences”.
By 2009, the door to eternity seemed to have been left ajar. Hujaboy’s
formulaic full-on “Liquifried” (VA, Planetary
, Mechanik, 2009) offers American comedian Joe Rogan’s condensation
of McKenna and Strassman: “it’s called dimethyltryptamine. It’s produced by
your pineal gland. It’s actually a gland that’s in the center of your brain.
It’s the craziest drug ever. It’s the most potent psychedelic known to man,
literally. But the craziest thing about it is it’s natural and your brain
produces it every night as you sleep. You know, when you sleep, during the time
you’re in heavy REM sleep and right before death your brain pumps out heavy
doses of dimethyltryptamine.” At this juncture, like a carne barking in a
fairground midway, Rogan’s rant seemed to be on a high frequency play-loop.
Thus, on “Freakstuff” (A Spark of Light,
FX System), Brazilian Arthur Magno (aka Fractal Flame): “life is a massive fucking
mystery. And there’s only a few different ways to really crack below the
surface of that mystery. And the best way is psychedelics.” The same bark had
been used by Hujaboy, accept that he decided to include “and the heavier the
psychedelic, the better.” Mood Deluxe permitted Rogan another breathe: “And
guess what? No one’s dying from psychedelics. All our thoughts on psychedelics
are all based on bullshit propaganda, that you heard about people, you know,
going crazy and losing their minds. You’re not gonna go crazy, you’re gonna go
fucking sane” (on “Stealthy Fungus”, Divine
, Liquid, 2008). An audio-billboard for the red pill, “DMT
Molecule” by Mister Black includes material from the same monologue: “you
should all smoke DMT and join my cult mother fuckers!” Rogan even made an
encore on Fractal Flame’s “DMTrip”: “you take this shit and literally you are
transformed into another fucking dimension.” And by the time Israeli duo Reshef
Harari and Adi Ashkenazi (aka Quantize) arrived, any subtlety, subliminality
and mysteriousness appears to have vapourised. Their “Dymethyltryptamine” [sic]
(Borderline, Echoes Records, 2009),
begins with the filtered voice of McKenna repeating “DMT” which quickens next
to the pulse before Rogan bursts through with the new black: “heavy doses of

You can almost smell the bravado, perhaps even thicker than the pungent vapour
of DMT itself. But while some of this smacks of braggadocio as producers and
DJs compete with one another for hardcore user status, the significance of this
sampladelic tsunami should not be underestimated, for the writers of
psychedelic sonic fiction (psy-fi) are channeling the zeitgeist. Whether in
private alcoves by the beach or suburban terraces on summer afternoons, in special
blends optimised for group sessions and indeed for the dance floor itself, DMT
is the new black-if by which we understand “black” to be the equivalent of an
inter-dimensional portal through which one vibrates in a depth-shifting coat of
electric colours, and through which one grows connected to the
ever-at-hand-albeit-illusive mysteries, the numinous that captivates one with
an intrigue that fuels daily life, and fires a recognition that death and life
are not unambiguously separate.

Over the past few years, this recognition has grown ever proximate care of changa, a DMT-blend first prepared and
popularised in Australia, and now smoked on dance floors around the world. This
short-lasting preparation, has inspired other DMT-enhanced leaf blends which may
include, for instance, pau d’arco, damiana, pink lotus, calea zacatechichi, lions tail, calendula, passion flower-the latter
being a MAO inhibitor rendering the experience like a “smokable ayahuasca” (see article on changa by Jon Hanna) and has even
inspired an effort to establish psytrance
as a “religion”

Changa may be rooted in McKenna’s
1997 speaking tour of Australia. In his talks at various events, McKenna shared
the wisdom that DMT could be harvested from alkaloids in local Acacia, and local psy-fi artists
acknowledged the significance of the wattle,
the national floral emblem (and local designation for Acacia). On “Burning Point” (Sun
Control Species-Unreleased
, 2004), Australian artist Drew Davidson (Sun
Control Species) drops a McKenna sample pungent with the acrid vapour: “The
national symbol of Australia is the wattle.
It’s an Acacia. The Acacia ecology of Australia is jammed
with DMT.”

The experience in DMT-space
(especially the sonorous chirping of insects) had an early impact on trance
music production in Australia, notably Space Tribe’s 12-inch Ultrasonic Heartbeat, which features
“Cicadas on DMT” (Spirit Zone Recordings, 1996), and later the music of
Insectoid. If Aldous Huxley had articulated that mescaline afforded a trek into
the “Antipodes of the mind”, the “psychological equivalent of Australia” where
“we discover the equivalents of kangaroos, wallabies, and duck-billed
platypuses-a whole host of extremely improbably animals”, replete with exotic
birdlife (kookaburras), insects, didjeridu and Aboriginal songlines,
“Insecticide” and “Tribedelic Nomads (Animistic Mix)” (from Insectoid’s Groovology of the Metaverse, WMS
Records, 1998) might have been the soundtracks to the antipodean trek from the Antipodes. “New Vistas” offers
the pertinent sample to this remote viewing: “I feel that I am merely an agent,
giving your some keys, which have been given to me, to pass on to you. These
keys are to unlock doors out of your present prison. Doors opening in on new
vistas. Doors beyond where you are now.” This material reeks of tryptamines and
offers echoes of the experiment at La Chorrera down the Rio Putumayo in the
Columbian Amazonas in 1971, on the subject of which the McKennas had written in
The Invisible Landscape (1975:
109-110): “Because of the alien nature of the tryptamine trance, its seeming
accentuation of themes alien, insectile, and futuristic, and because of previous
experiences with tryptamine in which insectile hallucinatory transformations of
human beings were observed, we were led to speculate that the role of the
presence was somehow like that of an anthropologist, come to give humanity the
keys to galactarian citizenship”. The national floral symbol of Australia seems
to have been ingested, and the keys to the tryptamine palace handed over, in
further work, such as the various artists producing on the Demon Tea label,
whose compilation titles Oozie Goodness –
The Eye Opening Elixir
(1998) and Not
My Cup Of Tea
(2001) offer insight on this development.

At the lakefront laboratories
downstream from these developments, we are intrepid Australians  communing
around a blend of our national emblem presided over by the alien anthropologist
nanobrain. The blend is what he styles nanga,
a potent changa derivative also
dubbed aussiehuasca. It contains
Peruvian Banisteriopsis caapi vine
shavings which serve as an MAO inhibitor, and DMT “coaxed from Aussie acacialoids by alchemical
maestros”. As he informs me, “50/50 percentage ratio by weight, mixed
with intent and charged with love … vibrate to integrate, BOOM!”

Out here upon the frontiers of experimentation, we are in proximity to a
transnational cult of seekership in which participants are exposed to new
sensorial possibilities care of pungent blends and potent derivatives of changa ready-made for an interactive and
inter-dimensional dance floor experience. McKenna had touted DMT as the fastest
route to the Otherword which he characterised as “hyperdimensionality” or
“hyperspace”. As Otherworldly events, as hives of consciousness,
psychedelic festivals expose participants to something akin to a Mystery School
in Hyperspace. While none of this constitutes formal ritual, nor formal
education, at Boom’s Dance Temple we can read all about it in the music, and
smell it in the morning air. We can see it in the animated movements of fellow Temple worshippers hailing from a multitude of countries, and we feel it
shaking hands with God under a misting system at 148 bpm.

With yet another promo for DMT, and Strassman’s book, take Swede Wizack
Twizack’s (Tommy Axelsson) “Spirit Molecule” (Space No More, 2010). The effort to uncover this “strange chemical”
and understand its capacity to replicate an experience identical “to events to
come after life”, should not be undervalued. Opening the door to a psychedelic
fairytale, “Spirit Molecule” sails off the map of terra-cognito to relate “the
secret history” about which trance multitudes might approve: “since the dawn of
time, man has used psychedelics. From the ancient myth of Adam and Eve until
today … From the Eleusian rituals … to modern day ayahuasca parties, every society has used psychedelics”.

Speaking of mystery cults, a few days back I introduced a presentation by
Chiara Baldini, my galactic sister (with whom I share a Dreamspell galactic
signature: Yellow Planetary Seed). Chiara had been on site some two and a half
months assisting in the preparation of the Liminal Zone, Boom’s educational
arena. Part of an amazing bamboo structure called The Drop (which also included
Boom’s performing arts space, the Theatroom), the Liminal Zone has evolved into
a significant portal of consciousness expansion, replete with ecological
principles and visionary art, and which this year has been physically embraced
by a Visionary Arts Gallery featuring work from, among others, Android Jones,
Amanda Sage, Xavi and Carey Thompson (this years Arts Director).

Chiara had also become, over
this period, an embedded historian, writing pieces for the Boom website, such as this
essay exploring the significance of Shiva and Dionysus
in Goa trance. She
has also produced a chapter investigating the cult of Dionysus in contemporary
psytrance for the collection I recently edited The Local Scenes and Global Culture of
. Her presentation “Boom vs Eleusis” was an entertaining and
insightful speculation concerning the Mysteries of Eleusis and their
contemporary equivalent. Connections with Eleusis, the two millennia long
ancient Greek festival of initiation to the cult of Persephone and Demeter,
have been repeatedly drawn within contemporary psytrance, especially among
those who seek to return to states of connectedness and intentional ritual they
perceive have been lost or forgotten.

It might be argued that the
Boom Festival itself exemplifies this loss of direction or vision. While there
may be a connection between the kykeon
(the barley-derived drink knocked back by fasting initiates at Eleusis on the final
night of the festival before they were exposed to the mysteries inside the
Telesterion) and LSD-25 (whose psychoactive properties derive from alkaloids in
the fungus ergot which may have parasitised the barley drunk at Eleusis), it
could surely be argued that, unlike the mystery cults of ancient Greece, there
is little evidence at Boom of singular mythical authorities whose stories
govern the lives of its festal population. Also, with the prevalence of dodgy
drugs, and with the proliferation of cocaine (at least that which is sold as
“cocaine”) and questionable “MDMA” and other substances, liminars enter this
arena with a high degree of risk. And not only that, with growing
commercialization (e.g. Boom is selling coca-cola in 2010), along with the gangs
of thieves ransacking tents on the final night of the event and throughout the
festival, is it any wonder that critics have vent their spleens at the Boom
organisation? Opponents have long included those who mount and attend
Anti-Boom, an off-party situated across the lake from Boom for years? This
year, Anti-Boom would actually be shut down by police after the first night of
operation when they launched sonic salvos, like Boom-breaking audio fireworks,
from their pirate enclave across the lake.

But for all the bitter broadsides, beauty, wonder and intention is in bountiful
supply on the shores of lake Idanha-a-Nova. Over in the Healing Zone, there are
multiple daily workshops, for instance, on sound healing, water practice,
Qigong, meditation, yoga, sweat lodges, etc. And down in the Dance Temple
individuals and crews of nationals from a multitude of states and altered
states converge to conduct personal rituals of transformation, an exposure to
Otherness rarely achieved elsewhere. It brings tears to your eyes, as it would
to my Finnish companion on a bus back in Lisbon the day after. Tears of joy
welled in his eyes as he recounted his first exposure to the Temple a week
before, when he wept openly. These moments of transit neither possess nor
require elaborate description or explanation, other than that the liminars
habituating the torrent of bass and adrift on the mesmerising melodies within
the Temple’s Funktion One set up might announce little more than that they’re
having “the shit”. But we needn’t even measure this experience against the
(limited) vocabulary supplied by participants, but by the preparations that
those who descend upon this site in central western Portugal undertake to
enable their exposure to the Mysteries. They make pilgrimage from all across
the world (see Day One
entrance video from BoomTV
), participants from scores of countries, many
hauling their buses, their funky motor homes and their arses great distances.
For instance, I’ve had recounted to me tales of those who’ve trekked across
Europe to arrive at Boom, and others who have cycled. What’s more, they expend
considerable effort in acquiring the resources by which their exposure to
Otherness is assisted.

No, this is not the Telesterion
at Eleusis. There is no unifying mythic system by which participants are able
to interpret their visions or translate their altered states. Not a ceremonial
occasion, in the shamanic-anarchist style advocated by McKenna the Dance Temple
facilitates a multitude of private encounters with the numinous, multiple
states of entrancement. And there are no heirophants, just as there are no
singular types or sources of consciousness alterants-no unifying symbols, such
as the head of barley a la Eleusis.
But among this literal “alphabet soup” of research chemicals-which clearly
retains the “meat and three vege” of LSD (commonly signified by the image of
its synthesizer, Albert Hofmann), cannabis
(whose leaf is a ubiquitous symbol of altered states), psilocybin (with the image of the
mushroom axiomatic to alterity) and MDMA (the “love” drug)-we find that DMT has
evolved as an authority unto its own, whose private and public teachings are
extolled in the sonic mythography and visionary artistry of our times. For the
initiated, the numinous affect of usage precipitates reverence, and entire
cults of adoration develop in which this plant matter and its psychoactive
fruits are venerated. With DMT, since these “fruits” derive from plants with
relatively indistinct features, their adoration is rarely expressed in
iconography, but is known in its pungent vapour, the olfactory memory of which
signals one’s own connection with the Other World, and to those with which one
has been vapourised.

upon this beachhead of possibility, gazing into the Otherworld, it occurred to
me that DMT does not enable access to The Mysteries, like a puzzle to be
re/solved, a game to be completed, a lock to be opened, a story to conclude.
Indeed, solving mysteries is the conceit of the old scientific model. As we
subject the unknown to possession, measurement and control, mystery grows ever
more illusive, receding from view like the Elves vanishing to Valinor. And it
further occured to me, above the clouds on a flight from Lisbon to Budapest
post-Boom, that the puzzle-like objects I had been presented with in a nanga session on the shores of Lake
Idanha-a-Nova were not to be “solved”, cracked open, uncovered, but to be
recognised as signs of the greater Mystery in which I was implicated, in which
we were soaked-fragments of the universe in which we’re a part. Here, the gift is that recognition.

Many thank yous to my traveling
and camping companions, especially Nano, Chiara, Aleaha, Paris, Damo, along
with Marco, Karl, Graziella and all the organisers and participants of Boom
2010, all accomplices at the scene of the sublime. Special thanks to Dick
(Maestro) Trevor. Thanks also to Boti at whose apartment in Budapest I
completed this, and to Jakob for his stunning photos. Parts of the story are extracted
from my forthcoming book Global Tribe:
Spirituality, Technology and Psytrance


Chiara. 2010. “Dionysus Returns: Tuscan Trancers and Euripides’ The Bacchae.” In Graham St John (ed) The Local Scenes and Global Culture
of Psytrance
. New
York: Routledge.

McKenna, Terence. 1993. True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the
Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise
. San Francisco:

and Terence McKenna. 1994 [1975]. The Invisible Landscape: Mind,
Hallucinogens, and the I Ching
. New York: Seabury Press.

St John, Graham (ed). 2010. The Local Scenes and Global Culture of
. New York: Routledge.

Photo by Jakob

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