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I came across this 3 part article the other day, and thought I'd share it here. Although it's a couple years old I found it a good read, and a pretty interesting documentation of one individual's interpretation of the psychedelic experience.
Keep in mind while reading that the author wrote this from personal experience, not scientific data.
[top]The Visual Components of a Psychedelic Experience
This article attempts to break down the visual effects contained within the psychedelic experience into simple, easy to understand titles, descriptions and leveling systems. This will be done without depending on metaphors, analogy’s or personal trip reports. The article starts off with descriptions of the simpler effects and works its way up towards more complex experiences as it progresses, using image examples wherever possible. This describes not my personal experiences but the universally reported effects that are consistently felt by most if not all psychedelic users. It is broken down into 3 different sections,
The visual components of a psychedelic experience.
The cognitive components of a psychedelic experience.
The miscellaneous components of a psychedelic experience.
It is in reference to all of the classical Psychedelics and the huge variety of obscure and modern “research chemicals” that are becoming increasingly prevalent. More specifically this list includes but is not limited to,
I’ve tried to keep this as accurate and detailed as I possibly can but most of these effects cannot be done justice with words. Especially once we get past low and moderate dosages, so feel free to make suggestions or nitpick any tiny point that you disagree with by sending me a message or commenting on the article below. I really am trying to make this as comprehensive a guide as possible so any help is extremely welcome.
This particular guide gives image examples where ever possible. Breaking the visual hallucinations into four basic categories of which I have come to name; enhancement of vision, distortions, visual geometry and hallucinatory states. I will start with the lower more basic effects and work my way up.
Most of the example images are randomly found from across the internet. Many of them however were all made by my girlfriend, whose tumblr is dedicated to the creation of such images and can be found here.
Enhancements - The first category of visual effects can be classified as an overall enhancement of vision. This is consistently reported at the lowest levels of psychedelic experience. It can be generally defined as an overall increase in the level of visual input, attributed to the external environment that a person experiences, and is manifested through 3 separate subcomponents.
Increased visual acuity:
Visual acuity is defined by the medical literature as acuteness or clearness of vision, which is dependent on the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye and the sensitivity of the interpretative faculty of the brain.
The lowest reported level of psychedelic experience is a sharp increase in visual acuity, which can be described as a new-found ability to comprehend the entire visual field at once, including the peripheral vision. In comparison, during sober living human vision is only able to perceive the small area that a person’s eye is currently focused on. This sharp increase in the level of visual detail, attributed to the external environment, is consistently heightened to the point where the edges of objects become extremely focused, clear and defined.
This visual effect does not necessarily change the appearance of the external environment but rather the level of detail in which it is perceived in. During even a very low-dose trip it is common for people to suddenly notice patterns and textures that they may have never previously appreciated, or even paid any attention to whatsoever. For example, when looking at sceneries, nature and everyday textures, the complexity and beauty of the visual input suddenly becomes overwhelmingly obvious.
Enhancement of colour:
Alongside the above effect it is consistently reported that during a low level psychedelic experience colours start to stand out more, becoming extremely bright and vivid. Reds will seem “Redder”, Greens will seem “Greener” and all colours will be become much more distinct, powerful and intense than they could ever possibly be during everyday, sober living.
A consistent way to reproduce this visual is to be outside in nature.
Enhanced pattern recognition:
A persons ability to recognize significant imagery (usually faces) in almost any vague stimuli is greatly enhanced during a low level psychedelic experience.
This innate ability which human beings possess in everyday life is referred to by the scientific literature as pareidolia and is very well documented. Common examples of this in day to day life include spotting faces in everyday objects, and viewing clouds as fantastical objects.
This effect can become extremely intense during a low level psychedelic experience. For example, every single leaf on a tree might look like many tiny green faces, scenery may look remarkably like people or objects, and clouds might appear to be easily recognizable as fantastical objects, without any visual changes actually taking place.
This is also combined with an increased interest and attraction to symmetrical geometric and organic patterns that often become
permanently grounded, with people often reporting to find a strange attraction to textures and patterns that they never would have thought twice about before. Some of these patterns include basic designs on wallpaper and clothing, and on rugs such as oriental carpets.
Distortions - The second category of visual effects found within a psychedelic experience is known as a distortion or a visual alteration. These can be generally described as changes in perception attributed to the external environment that are always obviously grounded in reality. These effects are manifested through 6 separate subcomponents.
Visual drifting is by far the most common open-eye distortion, experienced during a typical psychedelic experience. It can be described as the experience of objects and scenery appearing to become progressively warped and morphed across the visual field. These alterations gradually increase as a person stares, but are completely non-permanent - meaning that they reset to normal levels once a person double takes on the distortion.
The particular style of this visual effect depends on the specific continuously changing direction, speed and rhythm of the distortion, resulting in a small variety of different manifestations. The video below demonstrates this effect at a moderate level of intensity in an extremely accurate level of detail.
Morphing - This effect is completely disorganized and spontaneous in both its rhythm and its direction. It can be described as objects or scenery appearing to gradually change in their size, shape, configuration and general appearance in a limitless number of ways.
Breathing - This effect makes objects or scenery appear to be steadily contracting inwards and expanding outwards in a consistent rhythm, as if the object or scenery was breathing in and out in a similar fashion to the lungs of a living organism.
Melting - It is not unusual for objects and sceneries to be completely or partially melting. They begin at lower doses as a gradual liquidization of objects which causes them to begin to droop, wobble, and slowly lose their structural integrity. This gradually increases until they become impossible to ignore with the lines, textures, and colour between solid objects appearing to melt into one another in an extremely liquid fashion.
Flowing - Flowing, shifting, rippling, or moving surfaces are a strong visual effect that seems to occur almost exclusively on textures, particularly if they are highly detailed, complex, or rough textures. A classic example of this would be wood grain or carpets flowing like a river in a seamless, looped animation.
A consistent way to reproduce this visual is to stare at wood grain and lose focus.
The above effects which comprise Visual Drifting as a whole seamlessly blend and mix into one another. They are capable of manifesting themselves across 4 different levels of visual intensity which can be described as,
Peripheral - The most basic form of distortion can be described as a ‘wiggling’ of straight lines within the external environment, which occurs exclusively within the peripheral vision and cannot be looked at directly.
Direct - At this level, the distortions do not necessarily increase in visual intensity but can now be directly looked at within a person’s central line of sight. This partially alters the appearance and form of shapes, objects and sceneries within the external environment, causing them to subtly drift, bend and morph.
Distinct - This is the level at which distortions become visually powerful enough to drastically alter and transform the shape of specific objects within the external environment, often to the point where they can become unrecognisable in comparison to their original form.
All encompassing - At the highest level of visual drifting, the intensity becomes powerful enough to distort not just specific objects beyond recognition, but every single point of a persons vision and the entirety of the external environment in its whole.
It is very common for the colours of various objects, particularly brightly coloured out of place objects, to become subject to an effect that shifts and changes the colours through a repeated cycling of hues in a strange, fluid motion across its surface. For example, moss on a rock could physically shift from green, to red, to blue, and then back to green again in a very short space of time.
Another form of this is color tinting, this is when a black and white image or video begins to fill in with color, this looks somewhat vague and is very similar to old black and white photos that have been tinted with oil paint. These often color some spots while leaving others black and white.
Depth Perception Distortions:
It is very common to experience both extreme and subtle distortions in depth perception during a psychedelic experience. This is where the depths and layers of the scenery in front of you can become exaggerated, skewed or completely mixed up in their organization. A classic example of this could be the swapping of layers in a scenery. This is where objects in the background come into the foreground and objects in the foreground get pushed into the background.
Another example of skewed depth perception is a complete loss of it, when the different sections of a scenery both close up and far away will unify into one flat image momentarily.
A consistent way to reproduce this visual is by laying down under a tree and looking through the branches at the sky. This consistently causes the sections of sky in between the branches to come into the foreground, whilst the branches get pushed into the background.
”Tracers” are the simple experience of trails being left behind moving objects such as people, birds or cars. Tracers are usually very obvious and are similar in appearance to the same sort of trails found behind moving objects in long exposure photographs, manifesting themselves as smooth trails or multiple layers of the same repeated image which progressively fades into the background with each repetition. The trails can be exactly the same colour as the moving object that is producing it, or can sometimes be a randomly selected colour of its own.
A consistent way to reproduce this visual is to move your hand in front of your face or throw an object.
Tracers can be broken down into 4 basic levels of visual intensity which can be described as,
Transparent - The most basic form of tracer can be described as an almost completely transparent after image which disappears almost immediately and drags shortly behind moving objects with a maximum length of 2 - 3 inches.
Translucent - At this level, tracers increase in their length to become at least roughly half as long as the distance across the visual field which the object it is following has moved. In terms of clarity, the tracers shift from barely visible to distinct and only partially transparent in colour.
Opaque - This is the level at which tracers become completely solid in appearance and opaque in colour, with distinct and sharp edges to their shape which draw a clear contrast between the tracer itself and the background behind it. They become equal in length to the distance across the visual field which the object it is following has moved in, and can remain in the air for up to several seconds.
All encompassing - The highest level occurs at the point when a person’s visual field has become so sensitive to the creation of tracers that the entirety of a person’s visual field smudges and blurs into one all-encompassing tracer at the slightest movement of the eye. This can make it extremely difficult to clearly see unless the eyes are kept still, and remains in the air for up to approximately 20 seconds.
A consistent way to reproduce this visual is to move your hand in front of your face or throw an object.
Symmetrical texture repetition:
Symmetrical texture repetition is a distinct and obvious distortion which specifically manifests itself through rough textures, such as grass, carpets, asphalt, tarmac, towels, bathroom rugs, gravel, general bracken, dense vegetation, fallen leaves, tree bark and more.
It can be described as the texture becoming mirrored repeatedly over its surface in an extremely intricate and symmetrical fashion that is consistent across itself, maintaining a constant level of extremely high detail and visual clarity within a person’s direct line of visual focus and their peripheral vision. This maintains itself no matter how closely you attempt to look at the distortion.
As these repeating textures are generated they begin to give rise to a huge array of abstract forms, imagery, geometry and patterns that are embedded within and across the symmetry. Something that is universally interpreted as profoundly complex to perceive and physically beyond normal geometry in an indescribable way.
Scenery slicing is an effect which only occurs spontaneously and makes the visual field appear as if it has been cut remarkably cleanly into separate slices with some sort of razor blade. These separate slices then proceed to drift slowly away from their original position and can be as simple as three separate sections, or as complex as multiple slices of a moving interlocking spiral that’s been cut into your field of vision.
Geometry - The third category of effects which directly effects the vision can be described as the sensation of a person’s field of open and closed-eye vision being partially or completely encompassed by fast-moving, kaleidoscopic, and indescribably complex geometric patterns, form constants, shapes, fractals, structures and colour.
Visual geometry never stands still at any point and is often extremely fast-changing and self-transforming in terms of its shape and style within itself. This happens whilst the geometry is naturally drifting laterally or radially across the visual field to create overlapping webs of many arising and decaying geometric patterns, all of which are visible within a single perceptual frame.
When experienced, every single frame of visual geometry somehow has a deep sense of profoundness and importance attributed to it, often feeling as if they are perfectly fitting geometric representations of your current mind state.
There are seven different levels of psychedelic visuals, each one increasingly dramatic and incomprehensible.
Visual Noise – This is the most basic level of visual geometry and can be experienced in a completely sober state. It can be described as visual noise or static combined with random light and dark red regions that can be seen under the eye lids.
Motion and Colour – This level is also easily obtainable without psychedelics and can be described as the appearance of unstructured regions of fleeting flashes and clouds of colour.
Partially Defined Geometry - This is the level where things start to get distinctively psychedelic, and complex indescribable shapes and patterns begin to show themselves. At this level, however, the patterns can be described as strictly 2-dimensional. They are fine, small, and zoomed out in size with a dark colour palette that limits itself to a couple of different shades such as blacks, reds and dark purples. They are displayed on both the open and closed-eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry, but significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or in dark environments.
Fully Defined Geometry – This is the level where the detail in which the geometry displays itself becomes profoundly complex but remains strictly 2-dimensional. At this point the visuals become large in size and extremely intricate in detail with a colour palette that is limitless in its possibilities. They are displayed on both the open and closed-eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry that floats directly in front of the eyes, remaining significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or in dark environments.
3-Dimensional Geometry – At level four the geometry will become fully 3-dimensional in their shape and position across the visual field. This adds a whole new layer of visual complexity and leaves them sprawled out across the surfaces, walls, objects and furniture of your environment, instead of displaying themselves across a basic and flat veil.
Overriding Physical Perception – This is the point at which the geometry has become so intense, vivid and bright that it has begun to block out and replace the external world. At level six the environment begins to be replaced by visuals, with objects and scenery transforming into sprawling masses of geometry. As this increases the environment eventually becomes completely replaced, creating the sensation that you are breaking through into another reality.
Level 7A and Level 7B - Once the geometry reaches its seventh and final level, there is not one singular pinnacle of the psychedelic experience but two. It seems that depending on subtle environmental factors and the psychedelic consumed, visuals are capable of forking off into two separate versions of their highest possible level. The deciding factor between the two options are not yet known, but it appears to be almost completely random, meaning that level seven visuals will have to be separated into two distinct categories of equal intensity. These are known as levels 7A and 7B. Once visual geometry reaches level 7A or 7B, they begin to become structured and organized in a way that that presents genuine information to its tripper far beyond the preceding six levels. This is done through the experience of innately understood geometric representations that feel as though they depict specific concepts and neurological components that exist within the brain. At this point, concepts can be seen as not just embedded within your closed or open-eye visual field, but simultaneously felt through complex physical sensations.
7A - Exposure to entirety of neurological structure -
This level occurs when the environment has been completely replaced with visuals. As they reach their highest possible level, the mind feels as if every point within the brain has become completely interconnected with every other point. This feels as if you are being visually and physically exposed to every single internally stored concept, memory and neurological structure of the subconscious mind, all at once, leaving the tripper under the literal sensation of experiencing everything within the universe simultaneously; something that can be described as an infinite sea of geometry, concepts, structures, memories, and fractals that is always perceived to contain within it all of existence, all that there ever was, and all that there ever will be.
This vast ocean of mind is not just seen in front of the eyes but physically felt in an incomprehensible level of detail throughout every point across itself. The experience is immediately perceived to be the “entire universe”, or at least “everything” by everybody who undergoes it.
At it’s lower levels this effect is something which fluctuates wildly, pulling trippers in and out of the room in a fashion that many find extremely disorientating. Instead of remaining constant and static, it is triggered by the experience of a concept. For example, if somebody were to say the word “internet” to a person who is currently in this state, they would see the minds concept of the internet immediately manifested in a perfectly fitting geometric form amidst the very centre of their visual field. This form quickly branches out from itself like some sort of ineffable spider diagram, enveloping the concepts which you associate with the internet and then branching out to include the concepts you associate with those. This spreads out exponentially and within 2 - 3 seconds quickly grows in a sudden flash to include every single stored concept within the entire universe, completely disconnecting the tripper from their external environment before re-stacking them back into the room, until something triggers the process again, usually immediately. Snapping trippers in and out of the room repeatedly as the process is triggered continuously.
However it can, to a certain extent, be held at bay through continuous physical movement, stopping the process from branching out into everything by not giving it the time it needs to lock on to a concept.
As dosage is increased, however, the process becomes easier and easier to trigger whilst extending in length and duration - eventually resulting in a stable state of complete disconnection from the external environment and a lasting sense of neurological oneness with the universe.
7B - Exposure to inner mechanics of human consciousness -
This level can be described as the profound feeling of becoming completely detached from the external environment and falling into a place that is universally interpreted by anybody who undergoes the experience as “the inner workings of the universe”. This is a place that feels as if you have literally entered the inner mechanics of reality or the very source of existence itself, with the underlying programming of the universe and the true nature of our consciousness presenting itself to the tripper in an array of innately readable geometric forms.
It can be broken down into two basic sub-levels:
Becoming the inner mechanics of the conscious mind,
At the lower end of level 7B visual geometry, the experience manifests itself as becoming and being able to feel and see the organization and structure of your current thought stream. This is presented to trippers in the form of a fast-moving and infinite web or network of condensed visual geometry that branches off of itself in a level of organization and intricacy far beyond any possible arrangement that could be experienced within the external physical world.
The ever-shifting network follows the pace and rhythm of your internal dialogue perfectly. This creates and manifests new connections in a way that is both physically felt through a powerful sensation, and seen embedded within your visual field every time any piece of new insight or knowledge is gained.
This vast network of visuals that represents a person’s thought-stream contains within it innately understood and thought-stream-relevant geometric representations of specific and abstract concepts, embedded into each and every one of the connecting points across itself. The experience of these innately readable geometric representations triggers the mind’s eye to envision the concept perfectly on an internal visual field which exists separately from this one.
Becoming the inner mechanics of the subconscious mind,
At the higher end of level 6B visuals, the experience manifests itself as a new-found and consistent ability to physically feel, see, and become one with the architecture of the subconscious mind. This is presented to trippers in the form of extremely vast and complex, self-transforming geometric mechanisms which are immediately interpreted by anybody who undergoes the experience as the inner workings of the universe or the inner workings of reality.
This state is capable of bestowing specific pieces of information onto trippers regarding the nature of reality and human consciousness, through the simple experience of them. These specific pieces of information are always immediately felt and understood to be a profound unveiling of an undeniable truth at the time, but usually found to be ineffable afterwards; due to the limitations of human English, or nonsensical due to the disorientation of the accompanying cognitive effects.
Occasionally, however, genuine lessons or coherent messages are innately interpreted through the experience of becoming and descending down into the subconscious faculties of the brain. It’s extremely important to note, however, that the scientific validity of these lessons are very uncertain and should never be immediately accepted as fact without an extremely thorough and sober analysis.
Below are a collection of examples that could be considered somewhat accurate. How ever, the vastness and complexity of true psychedelic geometry is impossibly more intricate, meaning that in reality no physical image could even come remotely close to the real experience.
The Shipibo people are a large tribe in the amazon rain forest whose culture is heavily involved with ritualized ayahuasca use. These textiles patterns are deliberately made by the Shipibos as artifacts of ayahuasca hallucination, capturing the specific styles of repeating forms better than most modern psychedelic artwork.
Another extremely common component within visual geometry are fractals. These are a concept that exists within mathematics and can be described as complex patterns that repeat infinitely into themselves allowing for the same self similar image to be found no matter how far you zoom into any part of the image. Below is a collection of psychedelic fractals similar in appearance to those found with visual geometry. Click the image below to open up a gallery of examples.
Hallucinatory states - The fourth sensory effect is perhaps the most profound subjective sensory effect that the psychedelic experience has to offer. They are manifested as 3 distinct effects which come in a variety of differing intensity’s.
Hallucinatory states begin at lower doses as imagery embedded within visual geometry. These can be described as spontaneous moving or still scenes, objects, people, animals, concepts, places or anything you could possibly imagine. They are often formed out of visuals themselves and are displayed in varying levels of detail ranging from “cartoon like” in nature to completely realistic, rarely holding form for more than a few seconds before fading or shifting into another image.
On certain psychedelics, the imagery is manifested as an exact visual representation of whatever you are currently thinking about within your mind’s eye, turning abstract ideas into a concrete images and remaining consistently limitless in its abilities. This is an experience which is also found by some people during hypnagogia (the state between awake and sleep) or sleep deprivation and is known by the scientific community as “auto-symbolism”.
Psychedelic transformations are essentially open-eye imagery. They are progressive in nature, which means they form by arising from patterns or objects, and then over a period of seconds by drifting, smoothing or locking into an entirely new appearance of still or animated objects, people, animals, concepts, places or anything you could possibly imagine. This is greatly enhanced and fuelled by the separate visual effect of enhanced pattern recognition, causing vague stimuli which already look vaguely like abstract concepts thanks to our inbuilt sense of pareidolia, to transforming into extremely detailed versions of what they were already perceived as.
The process of smoothing or locking, which transformations seem to be generated through, requires some minimal amount of focus and concentration to sustain. Losing concentration for an instant can cause the image to fade away or shift into another image.
Holding the eyes still will increase intensity of the progressive transformation.
As these states of imagery and transformations become increasingly elaborate (proportional to dosage), they eventually become all-encompassing, fully-fledged 3D hallucinations. These could be anything but generally fall under common archetypes such as contact with autonomous entities, imagined landscapes, spirit dimensions, and situations that seem so unlike anything previously experienced that they are, in all probability, untranslatable into English. Hallucinations are often described to feel transcendental, mystical, spiritual and religious in nature, regardless of the tripper’s theistic beliefs. It is not uncommon for people to report that psychedelic hallucinations feel infinitely “realer” than anything the person has previously experienced throughout sober living.
In terms of their general stylistic appearance they can range from hallucinations which are stylized and comprised of a condensed visual geometry-based material, or they can be completely solid and realistic in how they look. This particular state can be broken down into four distinct subcomponents.
Autonomous entities - Contact with autonomous entities are very common. These entities generally appear to be the inhabitants of a perceived independent reality - they are expectant of your appearance and enjoy interacting with you in various ways. The behaviour of a typical entity is one of a loving, kind intelligence, teacher or healer that simply wants to show you their particular dimensional space, bestowing specific pieces of knowledge upon you as quickly as possible before you begin to come down or slip into another hallucination. Once the comedown inevitably begins to happen they are genuinely saddened by your disappearance, often wave goodbye, and encourage you to visit more often.
Entities can literally take any form but common subconscious Jungian archetypes are definitely present, these include:
bodiless super intelligent humanoids, aliens, elves, giant spheres, insectoids, cat beings, beings of light, plants, robotic machines, gods, goddesses, demons, human beings and more.
These entities and creatures communicate with trippers via a combination of telepathy, visual linguistics, mathematics and morphing coloured structures of different textures. This complex visual language is capable of expressing pure meaning and concepts in a way that our current system of labelling concepts with small mouth noises will never be able to become close to matching.
Landscapes, sceneries and settings - An intrinsic component of high level hallucinatory states is the experience of extremely detailed imagined landscapes, settings and sceneries of infinite variety. These are manifested spontaneously, surrounding the tripper and acting as the setting in which the plot of the trip trip occurs. At other points they act as something which is flown over but are also often experienced through the act of autonomous entities, directly manipulating what you can see and view; intentionally propelling trippers in different directions at disorienting speeds, forcing them to view or pass directly through macro and microscopic scale settings, including both previously experienced landscapes and previously unexperienced landscapes.
These commonly include:
planetary systems, galaxies, quasars, jungles, rain forests, deserts, ice-scapes, cities, natural environments, caves, space habitats, vast structures, civilizations, technological utopias, ruins, machinescapes, rooms and other indoor environments, neurons, DNA, atoms, molecules, mitochondria and more.
Concepts - this particular component of hallucinatory states is extremely common throughout typical psychedelic imagery. It can be described as the visual experience of an infinite array of internally stored concepts that can include both everyday objects, subjective concepts, previously non-experienced concepts and impossible mixtures of each three.
At lower levels they are manifested as spontaneous imagery but at higher levels they become embedded as objects within the scenery, or as objects which are presented to you by autonomous entities.
These concepts commonly include:
everyday objects, living things, plants, animals, insects, architecture, structures, shapes, atoms, molecules, complex mathematical formulae/concepts, linguistic concepts, mechanisms, technology, machine creatures, self-replicating machines, people, faces, eyes, body parts, organs, food, cultural references, fictional characters, logos, religious symbolism, creatures, monsters, demons, mythology, furniture and more.
It’s worth noting that the hallucinatory experience of concepts which contain writing such as imagined books, documents, street signs, websites or floating text are usually represented through blurred, fuzzy or alien symbols. However, they are still occasionally capable of containing coherent English and readable messages at high enough levels of detail but will always reset, change, or simply disappear if a person attempts to read over them twice or double-take. This is consistent with the way that text is reported to behave within dreams by the lucid dreaming community.
Scenarios and plots - Each of the above components are randomly shuffled and spliced into any of the infinite plots which are capable of being experienced under the influence of high dose psychedelic experiences. These are difficult to define but can be broken down into extremely basic archetypes which generally entail visiting some sort of alternate reality, or a number of them which contain within them interactive, multiple, or lone autonomous entities among an organized array of concepts and objects depending on the specific plot.
The plots can be linear but can also be completely nonsensical.
In terms of the perspective in which they are perceived through, hallucinations can be experienced in four different forms.
1st person - this is the most common form of hallucination and can be described as the perfectly normal experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of the self.
2nd person - this can be described as the experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of an external source of consciousness such as another beings life, an animal or an inanimate object.
3rd person - this is essentially an out of body experience and can be described as perceiving the hallucination from a perspective which is floating above, below, behind, or in front of the trippers physical body.
4th person - this is particularly rare but entirely possible and can be described as the experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of multiple vantage points and, occasionally, infinite amounts of alternate lives.
In terms of the amount of time in which they are experienced, hallucinatory plots and scenarios usually feel as if they are being experienced in real-time. This means that when 20 seconds have been felt to have passed within the hallucination, the exact same amount of time will have passed in the real world.
At other points, however, distortions of time can make themselves present, resulting in plots and scenarios that can feel as if they literally last days, weeks, months, years, or even infinitely long periods of time. When this does happen, however, it is not felt as if thousands of years of experience have literally been undergone within 15 minutes of real-world time, but as if the memory or feeling of thousands of years having passed is formed after the experience itself and not during.
As for the content of these hallucinatory plots and scenarios, they can contain experiences so unlike anything contained within the real world that they are completely untranslatable into human English, but they can also contain previously experienced memories from any point in a person’s life that feel truly identical to what really happened. These memory replays are often long-forgotten scenes from childhood, people who have not been seen or even thought about in years, and the visitation of important buildings, places and settings throughout a person’s life. At other points, however, the content of these hallucinations can be somewhere in between a memory replay and completely new experience, containing aspects of real life but easily deviating far from the original plot of what actually happened.
The above effects can be broken down into five simple levels,
Enhancement of mental visualization - The lowest level of hallucination can be described as a powerful enhancement of a person’s ability to mentally visualize concepts. This internal visualization feels like one extremely vivid daydream after another, and follows a person’s thought stream in a way that can be seen at a moderate level of detail within the mind’s eye.
Partially defined hallucinations - This level of hallucination generally consists of movement in the peripheral vision and ill-defined, faded imagery within the visuals, as well as transformations or false sightings within the peripheral vision which disappear as soon as a person double-takes.
Fully defined hallucinations - As the vividness and intensity increases, the imagery eventually becomes fully defined in their appearance and within the tripper’s direct line of sight. Transformations will also manifest themselves as fully-detailed and within a person’s direct line of sight.
Partially defined breakthroughs - These begin with random flashes of spontaneous psychedelic scenarios. These are capable of becoming fully grounded and long-lasting, but are not completely defined in their appearance. Often displaying themselves as partially to completely blurred and transparent, with the tripper’s physical body still feeling at least partially connected to the real world.
Fully defined breakthroughs - Once the hallucinations become sufficiently elaborate they eventually become all-encompassing, eventually increasing to permanent, ever-shifting alternate realities which appear completely realistic, extremely detailed, and highly vivid in the way they look along with a complete disconnection from the physical body.
Miscellaneous, Unique and Rare visual effects:
Although there are many universally experienced visual components of a psychedelic experience, you should not allow this guide to give you preconceived notions for two separate reasons. The first reason is that although these descriptions have been carefully worded and extremely thought out, text and images they will never come close to the real experience, the real thing is incomprehensible, logic defying and impossible to translate into two dimensional images and words. The unenglishable factor is one of the few things that all psychonauts can all agree on when it comes to the psychedelic experience.
The second reason is that the psychedelic experience is still a subjective experience and not by any means confined and limited to these visual components. As spontaneous visual effects which are not described anywhere within this article will manifest themselves into trips on the odd occasion. These effects can be anything and usually occur at higher doses. Unique visual effects are completely personal to you and something that nobody else on the planet has ever seen before or will ever likely get to experience again. So remember, do not limit your perception to the components described above, because there is more to the psychedelic experience than words can ever say.
[top]The Cognitive Components of a Psychedelic Experience
This article attempts to break down the cognitive and behavioural effects contained within the psychedelic experience into simple, easy to understand titles, descriptions and levelling systems. This will be done without depending on metaphors, analogy’s or personal trip reports. The article starts off with descriptions of the simpler effects and works its way up towards more complex experiences as it progresses.
Enhancement of current mind state:
Unlike most recreational substances, psychedelics do not consistently induce positive and euphoric states regardless of a persons current state of mind and mental stability. Instead they work by amplifying and enhancing a persons current state of mind as it is already, making it equally capable of going in both a positive and a negative direction.
This is why people seem to react to psychedelics in completely different ways and is by far the biggest contributor to the occurrence of a negative experience. The unprepared, the insecure and the mentally unstable who undergo a psychedelic experience are unfortunately considerably more likely to become overwhelmed with negative emotions, paranoia and confusion. This is caused by the persons current negative state becoming greatly amplified above normal levels. On the opposite end the spectrum however, positive, prepared and mentally stable people who undergo a psychedelic experience consistently find themselves overwhelmed with states of ecstatic bliss and profound mental revelations.
There is a very clear distinction between chemically induced happiness and genuine happiness. Psychedelics do not induce any emotion, they merely deepen and enhance genuine emotions that are already felt separate from the drug.
Acceleration of thought:
An acceleration in the speed of the thought stream is an effect that is possible on every psychedelic but consistently felt on stimulating and energetic psychedelics such as LSD and the 2C-x family. The sensation of this effect can be described as the mental process of thought being sped up significantly. When experiencing this effect it literally feels as if one rapid fire thought after the other is being generated in incredibly quick succession. Not only is the speed of thought increased, but the sharpness of a persons mental clarity seems to increase along side it, resulting in an abundance of new and insightful ideas.
Connectivity of thought:
This effect occurs on every psychedelic to a certain extent but is consistently felt on sedating and stoning psychedelics such as psilocin and LSA. The sensation of this effect can be described as a persons thought patterns becoming characterized by an abstract fluid association of ideas and extremely wandering thoughts which connect deeply into each other. Often feeling like a series of tenuously connected daydreams that connect into each other through an abstract game of subconscious word association, allowing the mind to cover all areas of life, including not just the big things, but the small things as well. Leading onto large amounts of introspection and greatly enhanced levels of creative and artistic abilities in people. Essentially removing creative block by allowing the thoughts to flow free.
Feelings of fascination, importance and awe:
One of the defining features of a psychedelic experience is an overwhelming feeling of fascination, importance and awe attributed to the external environment and everything within it. This can manifest itself in a number of ways but can be described as a new found childlike sense of wonder which gives the overwhelming impression that everything around you is profound and important, be it nature, the universe or everyday household objects.
It’s this effect that directs trippers to ponder and appreciate the things around them in a profound level of detail which can often remain unparalleled by any experiences throughout normal sober living.
At its highest level, the sensations become so intense and profound that it begins to feel as if the present moment that your entire life has been building up to this instant and nothing will ever be the same again. This is commonly described by people as feeling that “you have been waiting on a train your entire life and only now are you finally getting off of it.” It is a truly overwhelming perspective and consistently induced during positive states of Level 7A visual geometry.
Time distortion is an effect that makes the passage of time difficult to keep track of and wildly distorted.
It can be felt in two different forms. The most common of these, can be referred to as time expansion which can be described as the feeling that time has completely slowed down. This generally seems to stem from the fact that during a psychedelic experience, abnormally large amounts of experience are felt in very short periods of time, creating the illusion that more time has passed than it really has.
At time expansions highest level it can feel as if the passage of time has stopped completely, which is known as a moment of eternity.
The second form, which can be called time compression is rarer but entirely possible and can be described as the experience of time speeding up and passing much quicker than it generally should.
Deep and life changing states of introspection are commonly found within the psychedelic experience. It’s these states which are considered by the scientific community to be the most important real world application for psychedelics. A claim that is gaining increasing support with a large and ever growing collection of peer reviewed studies supporting the use of psychedelics in the treatment of depression, general therapy and the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Psychedelics force a person to face and deal with their personal problems and inner demons by changing a persons thought processes to that of an extremely introspective nature. This gives people the ability to dissect and rationally analyse these problems. Allowing a person to either resolve the problems or at least come to terms with them.
The external release of pent-up or repressed stress through emotional outburst is also extremely common. Taking both joyful forms, like spontaneous dancing and singing, or taking distraught forms, like crying, sobbing and emotional breakdowns. Once over however, these leave the tripper feeling as if an enormous weight has been lifted from their chest.
Not everybody is willing to face, resolve and move on from their problems however, some people preferring to ignore and repress them. It’s a persons willingness to face the truth of their own life that is a huge factor in determining whether or not a person is capable of enjoying the psychedelic experience. This is because psychedelics bring our insecurities, past regrets and repressed traumas into the very forefront of our consciousness. Fighting these revelations through denial is a very common cause of bad trips, leading to deeply negative states that could be otherwise avoided.
Feelings of extreme refreshment are an almost universal experience in the days or weeks after a positive trip. The psychedelic experience can be both mentally and physically invigorating, something that can be described as a lasting feeling of mental clarity, increased motivation, calmness and an appreciation for the very sensation of being.
This feels as if the connections within the brain have been somehow restored, with the biases of a persons perspective becoming reset to base level. As if the mind has been rebooted and reorganized in a way that fully grounds the revelations of the trip into a persons world view.
At it’s highest level the feelings of rejuvenation can become so intense that they begin to manifest themselves as the profound sensation of being reborn. Lasting anywhere from weeks to a lifetime after the experience itself.
Feelings of Deja-Vu:
Deja vu is a common phrase from the French language which translates literally into “already seen”. This is a well documented phenomenon which can commonly occur throughout both sober living and psychedelic experiences. It can be described as having the strong sensation that the current event or situation has already been experienced at some point within the past, when in fact it hasn’t.
Psychedelic drugs are commonly capable of inducing spontaneous and often prolonged states of mild to intense senses of Deja vu. This provides trippers with an overwhelming sense that they have “been here before”. Which is accompanied by a false feeling of familiarity with the psychedelic experience itself, the current location or setting, the current physical actions being performed and the situation as a whole. Something which becomes triggered and felt by the tripper despite the fact that they are rationally aware that the circumstances of the “previous” experience (when, where, and how the earlier experience occurred) are uncertain or believed to be impossible.
Removal of cultural filter:
The cultural filter is a geographically determined bias that human beings look through in their everyday life. It affects our ability to evaluate the world around us in ways that are much more powerful than most people are willing to admit.
It seems to me that a human beings perspective on the world is built up out of a complex set of filters that are based on pre-existing beliefs, past experiences, fears, prejudices, stereotypes and cultural symbols. This gives us a powerfully consistent, unconscious tendency to notice and assign significance to observations that confirm existing cultural beliefs, while filtering out and rationalizing observations that do not fit with prior beliefs and expectations. Something which forces us to look at the world, not as a human being but as a false version of our true selves. Be it a conservative Christian mother, a Muslim housewife, an aboriginal tribesman or an materialistic white middle class male with a European Christian heritage and atheistic beliefs.
It’s said that we don’t look at things as they are but instead look at things as we are. Psychedelics however seem to completely obliterate and remove this filter, showing people that culture is merely a delusional perspective attributing importance to abstract symbols and not an objective reality. This can create profound changes in perspective that can last a lifetime, making people become who they really are and not what they were raised to be.
Feelings of predeterminism:
Predeterminism is defined as the belief that all events, including human actions, are established or decided in advance.
This is a perspective that can become spontaneously triggered and felt through an undeniable change in thought processes and an intense set of physical sensations during a psychedelic experience.
In terms of how it feels experientially, this can be described as the sensation of the ego or internal narrative as an independent decision making agent being lifted from your perception of the world and revealed to be illusory. This creates an undeniable sensation that your physical actions, current situational perspective and the very subject matter of your thought stream have always been completely predetermined and out of your control. Meaning that they are not reached through a conscious choice or planning of the ego and genuinely never were. Instead they are revealed to have always been a vast and complex set of internally stored, instantly decided, preprogrammed and completely autonomous responses to received sensory stimuli.
Along side of this, there is also a powerful physical sensation that makes the precise arrangement of the external environment and objects within it become felt to be the true deciding force in regards to the way in which you physically interact with it. This is done by instantly triggering your responses and decisions towards them through the simple perception of them. Something which leads onto the feeling that for example, you are not deciding to reach out and grab a relevant object, but the object is triggering you to reach out and grab it because you need to and regardless of whether or not you have put any thought into it.
This experience as a whole is consistently interpreted by anybody who undergoes it as a profound revelation or insight into the illusory nature of freewill.
This particular component can be described as a forced change in perspective which frees the ego’s conscious thought stream from remaining strictly limited to words and labels. This allows it to think not just in descriptions, but directly in the internally stored concepts that lay behind our linguistic and descriptive knowledge base.
In terms of how this feels experientially, it can be described as the sensation of the concepts behind the words of our internal narrative becoming somehow cognitively felt at every point across themselves in a very high level of detail. Along side this they are also perceived through a simultaneous partially to fully animated visual manifestation that differs from that of an ordinary hallucination through the fact that it exclusively occurs within the minds eye, always remaining completely separate from the trippers direct line of sight.
The experience of directly experiencing the internally stored concepts which lay just behind human description results in the perceived ability of being able to clearly feel in a profound and emotionally intuitive format, the precise consequences, limitations and position within this universe of any singular concept. These feelings are consistently interpreted as a “higher level of understanding” which seems to stem from the way in which this perspective reveals human language to be intrinsically self limited through the way in which it demonstrates that words can only act as mere shortcuts to the concepts which they exist to describe.
At lower levels, these states of conceptual thinking can be described as thought stream specific. This means that the concepts which are being felt, seen and “understood” are exclusively relevant to the words which you are currently thinking. These will feel identical in stylistic behavior whether the concept is arrived at by a simple wandering of thoughts or triggered through the experience of a concept or object perceived within the external environment.
Perhaps the most common example of this which those within the psychedelic community could relate to would be the experience of looking at a plant of any sort and internally feeling as well as visually perceiving, everything that you happen to know about photosynthesis and the evolution of plants no matter how vague or abstract this knowledge might be.
At higher levels, these states of conceptual thinking stop being specific to the words contained within your current thought stream and start becoming all encompassing towards every last internally stored piece of knowledge the tripper has ever known.
This leads onto feelings which are consistently interpreted as a new found level of “total and complete understanding” as the consequences, limitations and position within this universe of every single concept which the tripper previously only knew in terms of its description, becomes felt through a very real and undeniable perspective.
Perhaps the most common examples of these which those within the psychedelic community will relate to, would be the experience of a total and profound understanding regarding but not limited to, the themes and archetypes listed below.
General scientific principles.
Taking care of your personal health.
Your position within nature and higher systems of order.
The consequences of your actions and your responsibility towards them.
Human civilization as the literal cutting edge of physical complexity.
Living in balance with nature to the best of your abilities.
The inevitability of death.
The sheer unlikeliness of personal existence.
It’s through the direct experience of the concepts behind our knowledge that new life changing perspectives are suddenly felt in an obvious way. These new found viewpoints are rarely considered by the tripper to be the creation of a single new idea or creative insight. Instead they are nothing more than the integration of previously held knowledge which was already understood intellectually into a system which directly feels them in an undeniable, clearly understandable and emotionally felt format which lies within a level of detail far beyond normal human language and description.
Direct communication with the subconscious:
In terms of its consistent interlocking subjective effects, the experience itself can be generally defined as that of engaging in articulate and meaningful linguistic conversations with a disembodied and separate voice of unknown origin residing within ones own head.
It is currently confirmed that it is possible to encounter this effect under the influence of any psychedelic but that it is extremely common with the stoning, non stimulating psychedelic tryptamines such as psilocybin mushrooms, 4-AcO-DMT, LSA and Ayahuasca.
The presence and existence of these voices as a legitimate state of mind has been well established with and without the use of psychedelic drugs through scientific study for many years now. For example, an excellent and extremely informative survey carried out in 1996 which can be read about here, successfully demonstrated that anybody can encounter a dialogue between the tripper and a voice of unknown origin under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. This study interviewed 128 participants with an approximate total of 3,427 psilocybin mushroom experiences between them and revealed that 35.9%(46) of the participants reported voices whilst 64%(82) did not.
Even outside of these psychedelic experiences, hearing voices within ones head is a well documented psychological phenomena that can be read about in detail here. It can generally be considered as a harmless or sometimes even helpful state of mind to find oneself in, despite its social stigma and associations with schizophrenia.
In a general level of detail, the overall conversational style of that which is discussed between both the voice and its host can be described as essentially identical in terms of its coherency and linguistic intelligibility as that of any other everyday interaction between the self and another human being with which one might engage in conversation with.
There are however some subtle but identifiable differences between this experience and that of normal every day conversations, each of which stem from the important factor that ones specific set of knowledge, memories and experiences are identical to that of the voice which is being communicated with. This key factor results in a conversation in which both participants share a noticeably identical personal vocabulary down to the very use of their colloquial slang and subtle mannerisms. Along side of this it’s important to note that unlike every day conversation, no matter how in depth and detailed the discussion becomes no entirely new information is ever exchanged between the two conversers. Instead the discussion focus’s primarily on building upon old ideas to an amazing extreme and exchanging profoundly insightful new opinions or perspectives regarding the previously established content of ones life. These opinions consistently take an approach to any situation which remains devoid of the emotional attachments, biases and irrationality’s which plague the cognitive decision making process’s of our every day consciousness.
All of this results in a separate consciousness from ones self which consistently takes on the role of what is perceived to be a spiritual teacher, healer or guide. To aid itself in this goal the voice is often capable of directly manipulating various aspects and intensities of the trip and will either clearly explain the logic behind its decisions or choose to keep it a mystery.
As a whole, the effect itself can be broken down into 4 distinct levels of progressive intensity, each of which are listed below,
A sensed presence of the other - this level can be defined as the distinctive feeling that another form of consciousness is internally present alongside that of ones usual sense of self.
Mutually generated internal responses - this level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to ones own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are partially generated by ones own thought stream and in equal measure by that of a separate thought stream.
Separately generated internal responses - this level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to ones own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are generated by an entirely separate thought stream from ones own.
Separately generated audible internal responses - this level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to ones own thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice within ones head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents and dialects but usually sound identical to ones own spoken voice.
The speaker behind this voice is innately interpreted by those who experience communication with it to be that of ones subconscious, the substance itself or even supernatural concepts such as god, spirits, souls and ancestors.
Upon directly interviewing the voice regarding its origins and general mechanics, people will often receive contradicting but extremely elaborate and complex answers, some of which are clearly delusional and commonly consist of psuedoscientific plots involving concepts such as hyper dimensional beings, aliens and the gaiain mind of our planet earth.
A famous and well known example of this within the psychedelic community would be that of Terence Mckenna, a psychedelic spokesperson who talked extensively on the subject of Psilocybin mushrooms putting him into contact with an informative, divine voice which provided him with a huge number of elaborate but not necessarily factual metaphysical theories. Along side of these unrelated theories which can be independently researched, the voice explained to him that he was in communication with planetary wide mycelial networks existing here on earth as well as other planets across the galaxy which are in a state of “hyperlight communication” between each other across space and time. This supposedly divine revelation can be read about in more detail hereand is an excellent example of just how elaborate these spoken word revelations can often be.
Although I am the first to admit that I have no way of verifying these statements, my head voice personally claims to be that of “the subconscious”. A constantly present neurological entity which supposedly functions as a dedicated self organizing database of internally stored concepts, existing as the frame work behind our thought stream to create and maintain ones personal model of reality. Along side of this, the voice claims that as the primary organizer of our knowledge, it is just as familiar with our models of language and spoken word as we are and therefore equally capable of coherent speech and independent thought.
However, after analysing the claims of any subconscious one must realize feel that although some are signifigantly more plausible and coherent than others, if people are being taught completely contradictory theories then perhaps these voices are not truly aware of the details regarding their own neurological origins in the first place. Instead they may well be simply telling the individual exactly what they want to hear. Either way, it is impossible to verify any of these claims without some solid scientific research which looks beyond that which we already know. Until this is done, the origins of these voices will forever remain an anecdotal mystery.
Ego suppression, loss and death:
To make things as clear as possible, the ego is a human being’s sense of self or “I” as intrinsically separate from and somehow more important than the external environment. It is essentially a person’s consciousness or ability to be self aware, as fueled by the constant internal dialogue that we call our thoughts.
Ego death is defined by the psychedelic community as any total suppression or loss of a person’s sense of self. It is something that occurs with high dose psychedelic experiences, as well as in every day life; since natural sleep, passing out drunk, general unconsciousness or death can all technically be classed as forms of ego death. However, the clear cut distinction between hallucinogen induced ego death and other more commonly experienced forms is that sensory input is not maintained throughout deep sleep or normal unconsciousness. In comparison, Psychedelics and dissociatives both offer differing versions of the same experience that universally becomes triggered during these states and is perceived through all of the senses.
This process is capable of being broken down into 3 basic levels,
Ego suppression - Partial failure of a persons short term memory. Something that can be described as a general increase in distractibility, loss of focus and an increasing inability to process anything outside of the present moment.
Ego loss - Complete failure of a persons short term memory. Something that can be described as a person becoming being completely incapable of remembering any specific details regarding the present situation for more than a second or two. Resulting in disorientation, thought loops and confusion for the inexperienced. Long term memory however remains almost entirely intact, with people still being perfectly capable of recollecting their name, date of birth, childhood school, etc.
Ego death - Complete failure of a persons long term memory. Something that can be described as a person becoming completely incapable of remembering any basic fundamental human concept that is stored within the long term memory. Including your name, who you are, the fact that you are on drugs, what human beings are, what life is, what existence is or what anything is. Giving the profound experience that there is no longer an “I” experiencing the intensity of the trip anymore, there is just the trip as it is and by itself.
Feelings of unity and interconnectedness:
The effects of this state start with a change in perspective which is consistently interpreted as the removal of a deeply embedded and all encompassing illusion. The destruction of this apparent illusion leads onto feelings that the tripper frequently interprets as some sort of profound “awakening” or “enlightenment”.
Once removed, the illusion feels as though it has always been in place, forcing a person’s perspective of the world into feeling as if their concept of “self”, “I” or “me” with which they identify themselves as, is assumed to intrinsically follow two fundamental rules. The first of these rules is that the self is inherently separate from the external environment and could not possibly extend into it. The second is that the self is specifically limited to not even the physical body as a whole, but exclusively a person’s internal narrative and the image of their own personality as built up through social interactions with other people.
The absence of this apparent illusion leads people into feelings which are commonly described as a state of total unity, oneness or interconnectivity between their sense of self and external concepts or systems which were previously perceived as inherently separate from ones being and identity.
Depending on the degree to which this illusion has been lifted, it can lead onto five possible levels of cognitive intensities of progressively more complex effects, each of which are perfectly capable of spontaneously sustaining their perspective for weeks, months or even years after the experience itself. These levels can be defined as…
Unity between specific external systems,
The lowest and least complex level can be referred to as a state of “unity between specific external systems”. This is the only level of intensity in which the subjective experience of unity does not involve a state of interconnectedness between the self and the external. Instead, it can be described as a perceived sense of unity between two or more systems within the external environment which in every day life, are usually perceived as separate from both the self and each other.
This effect can manifest itself in an endless number of forms but common examples of the experience often include,
A sense of unity between specific living things such as animals or plants and their surrounding ecosystems.
A sense of unity between specific human beings and the objects they are currently interacting with.
A sense of unity between any number of currently perceivable inanimate objects.
A sense of unity between humanity and nature.
A sense of unity between literally any combination of perceivable external systems and concepts.
Unity between the self and specific external systems,
The second of these two levels can be referred to as a state of “unity between the self and specific external systems”. It can be defined as the experience of a loss of perceived boundaries between a person’s sense of self and the specific physical systems or concepts within the perceivable external environment which are currently comprising the central point of cognitive focus.
This effect can manifest itself in an endless number of forms but common examples of the experience often include,
Becoming one with a specific object which you are interacting with.
Becoming one with a specific person which you interacting with. (particularly common if engaging in sexual or romantic activities)
Becoming one with the entirety of your physical body.
Becoming one with large crowds of people. (particularly common at raves and music festivals)
Becoming one with the external environment but not the people within it.
This creates a sensation which is often described by people as the experience of becoming inextricably connected to, one with, the same as or unified with whatever the perceived external system happens to be.
Unity between the self and all perceivable external systems,
The third of these five differing levels of intensity can be referred to as a state of unity between the self and all perceivable external systems. It is defined as the experience of a loss of perceived boundaries between a person’s sense of self and the entirety of the currently perceivable external environment. The experience as a whole is generally described by people as “becoming one with my surroundings”.
This is felt to be the result of a person’s central sense of self becoming attributed to not just the internal narrative of the ego, but in equal measure to the body itself and everything around it with which it is physically connected to through the senses. Once this sensation is in place, it creates the undeniable perspective that you are the external environment experiencing itself through the specific point within it that this body’s physical sensory awareness and conscious thought happens to currently reside in.
It’s at this level that a key component of the unity experience becomes an extremely noticeable factor. Once a persons sense of self has become attributed to the entirety of their surroundings, this new perspective completely changes how it feels to physically interact with what was previously felt to be an external environment. For example, when physically interacting with an object in everyday life it feels very simply that you are a central agent organizing the world around itself. However, whilst undergoing a state of unity with the currently perceivable environment, interacting with an external object consistently feel as if the system as a whole is autonomously organizing itself and that you are no longer a central agent operating the process of interaction. Instead the process suddenly feels completely decentralized and mutual across itself as the environment begins to autonomously, mechanically and harmoniously respond to itself to perform the predetermined function of the particular interaction.
Unity between the self and all external systems,
The fourth of these five differing levels of intensity can be referred to as a “state of unity between the self and all external systems”. It is defined as the experience of a loss of perceived boundaries between a persons sense of self, the perceivable external environment and all which they know to exist outside of this through their internally stored model of reality. This feels as if your sense of self has become attributed to not just the external environment but all of humanity, nature and the universe as it presently stands in its complete entirety. The experience of this is generally described by people as “becoming one with the universe”.
Once in place, this perspective creates the sudden and undeniable sensation that you are quite literally the entire universe experiencing itself, exploring itself and performing actions onto itself through the very specific point of space and time which your ego and conscious perception happens to currently reside in. This feeling is immediately and universally understood to be an innate and undeniable truth by anybody who undergoes it.
Unity between the self and the creation of all external systems,
The fifth and most experientially profound of these five differing levels of intensity can be referred to as a “state of unity between the self and the creation of all external systems”. It is defined as the experience of a loss of perceived boundaries between a persons sense of self and all external systems of behaviour. This includes not just the systems as they currently stand within the present moment but at each known point of their existence throughout all time lines past, present and future as dictated by the persons internally stored model of reality.
When experienced, this feels as if your sense of self has become attributed to all of space and time including every single past and future event such as the initial creation and eventual destruction of existence. This perspective consistently leads on to the innate revelation and sensation that the you in terms of your true self (everything) are personally and consciously responsible for the deliberate design and creation of the universe itself.
It’s at this point where multiple interlocking sub perspectives and innately extrapolated conclusions of a religious and metaphysical nature begin to come into play. These generally include but are not limited to,
The sudden and total acceptance of death as a fundamental component of ones life. This is because death is no longer felt to be the destruction of the self but simply the end of this specific point of conscious awareness, the vast majority of which has always existed and will continue to exist and live on through everything else in which it resides.
A perspective which feels personally responsible for the design, planning and implementation of every single specific detail and plot element of ones personal life, the history of humanity and the universe as a whole. This naturally includes personal culpability for humanities sufferings and its flaws but also its acts of love and its achievements.
The religious or spiritual realization that the persons preconceived notions behind their concept of “god” or “god-hood” can now be felt through a forced change in perspective as identical to the nature of ones true self. This realization is generally reached through the subconscious conclusion that the usually differing concepts of god-hood and self are both now identically defined as that which is the all knowing, all encompassing, all powerful creator and sustainer of this existence.
Currently undocumented components:
Communication with the subconscious
A sensed presence of “the other”
Multiple thought streams
Child like regressions
Feelings of duality
[top]The miscellaneous components of a psychedelic experience
This section of the article attempts to break down the auditory, physical and multisensory effects contained within the psychedelic experience into simple, easy to understand titles, descriptions and leveling systems. This will be done without depending on metaphors, analogy’s or personal trip reports.
An extremely consistent and universally felt effect during a psychedelic experience is the sensation of sound becoming vastly crisper and clearer than anything felt during normal sober living. This can be described as the sudden feeling of being extremely aware of all of the sounds around you, with an enhanced ability to pinpoint the exact direction from which multiple layers of noise are coming from.
The most interesting manifestation of this is a greatly enhanced appreciation of music, allowing people to hear songs they’ve listened to their entire life in a level of detail that is simply unparalleled in day to day life.
This can be described as every single layer of the music being brought forward and heard with perfect comprehension, to the point where many people feel that you have not fully listened to music until you have heard it under the influence of a psychedelic drug.
Psychedelic distortions are not limited to a single sense but can be found with both a visual and an auditory equivalent. Audio distortions are not a universal experience but can happen spontaneously on any psychedelic. These can be described as the experience of as echos or murmurs rising in the wake of each sound, accompanied by distorted changes of pitch. These increase proportionally with dosage up until the point where music and sounds are consistently followed by a continuous reverb, as sounds begin to bounce at great speeds across the walls of your brain continuously, often leaving the original sound as completely unrecognisable but always resetting to base level and starting over if the noise is stopped or changed.
This effect can be broken down into 3 differing levels of intensity,
Mild - Subtle and spontaneous reverb, echo effects and changes in pitch attributed to noises within the external environment. These are fleeting in their manifestation, underwhelming in their intensity and easy to ignore.
Distinct - Extremely obvious and spontaneous but occasionally consistent reverb, echo effects and changes in pitch attributed to noises within the external environment. These can be very long and drawn out in their manifestation and loud enough to make them impossible to ignore.
All encompassing - At this point the audio distortions become constant in their manifestation and impossible to ignore. The alterations become so complex that the original noise is quickly rendered unrecognisable.
Audio hallucinations are essentially the heard equivalent of imagery and open-eye transformations. They can be described as spontaneous imaginary noises that are either triggered at complete random or manifested in the place of noises that are subconsciously expected to happen. The most common examples of these are usually experienced as clips of recorded sound, such as imagined music or voices, and an infinite variety of sounds that are stored within the brain.
The most common audio hallucination that people experience are ones of heard memory replays from the previous several hours, commonly manifesting themselves as spontaneous clips of the music that was played and garbled voices of the people who were spoken too. These are usually heard repeatedly over the course of several hours after certain psychedelic experiences.
This effect can be broken down into
Partially defined, embedded hallucinations - At this level the sounds are partially defined in their clarity meaning that they sounds indistinct, muffled and difficult to make out. strictly heard only embedded within genuine sounds produced by the external environment. For example, hearing music in the sounds of the wind, cars and rain.
Partially defined, separate hallucinations - At this level the sounds remain only partially defined but become heard on a separate layer of their own instead of only manifesting themselves within other noises.
Fully defined, separate hallucinations - At this level the sounds become fully defined in their clarity meaning that the specific words being spoken or musical content of the hallucination can be recognized and understood perfectly.
Interactive, fully defined and separate hallucinations - At this level the sounds remain fully defined in their clarity but become partially to fully interactive meaning that the voices can be conversed with and the spontaneous noises or musical symphonies controlled.
This effect varies with the psychedelic consumed, with DMT consistently producing a high pitched ringing sound that increases proportionately with dosage until its the only sound heard, this often feels like its reverberating within every cell.
Enhancement of touch:
This physical component appears to stem from a partial to complete loss of sensory filtering, resulting in an overall enhancement of tactile sensations and the pleasure derived from them whilst also increasing a tripper’s overall awareness of the nerve endings across their body. Something that increases until the tripper can suddenly feel the exact location and current sensation of every single nerve ending across their skin all at once. As opposed to only maintaining awareness of those that are relevant, which is the case throughout normal sober living.
Increased bodily control:
During many low level psychedelic experiences a dramatic increase in a persons control over their physical body can often become present. This can be described as the feeling of being able to accurately control every single muscle across the entire body with the tiniest of precise mental triggers, leaving trippers feeling extremely active and nimble. It is often interpreted by people as a strangely profound or primal feeling of being put back in touch with the animal body.
This is commonly referred to as the “body high” within the psychedelic community and can be described as an activation of nerve endings across the body, occurring without any obvious or immediate physical trigger. The experience of this results in feelings of distinct random tactile noise and general tingling sensations. These vary greatly in their alternative styles of sensation, depending on the substance consumed but can be broken down into four basic levels of intensity,
Mild - The most basic form of body high can be described as light and fleeting tingling sensations across the body that do not impair physical motor control and can essentially be ignored if the tripper wishes to. These can feel like cold chills or vague warmth all over the body.
Distinct - At this level, the body high becomes impossible to ignore. It can be described as distinct tingling sensations which are intense enough to partially impair a person’s motor control and cause a significant portion of mental focus to be directed towards these sensations. These can either be described as sharp and cold or soft and warm.
Overwhelming – The highest level of body high occurs at the point where the tingling sensations have increased enough to become their complete, uncontrollable focus of attention, fully overwhelming and impairing a person’s motor control. This will consistently leave them either lying or sitting down, incapable of standing up, and writhing in the all-encompassing sensations.