Writing at Erowid, Teafaerie has some interesting thoughts:
We’ve got to be super careful about what we allow ourselves to believe. We’ve got to take a lesson from our betters and not let ourselves get caught up in the elaboration of whacko theories. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t talk about this stuff. We have to talk about it if we’re ever going to make any progress at all. I think what’s really happening with some of the so-called entity encounters eludes language, though, at least for now. We’re working on the language problem, but it’s tricksy and slow. If you somehow projected your consciousness into the mind of a person who has never been out of the deep rainforest, your contactee would be unable to tell his tribe mates what was happening. He would share your experiences as you ride on an airplane or read articles on the Internet, but he would not be able to interpret them, and even less would he be able to communicate them to others. Maybe he would say that he had traveled to the astral plane and flown on a giant condor made of machete skin, and perhaps he would even be believed. It wouldn’t be a lie. It wouldn’t even be imaginary. But is it True or true or “true”? We say that there are “pages” on the Internet and “folders” on our computers, when in reality there are just a bunch of ones and zeros. When you run the programs made up of the ones and zeros, and perceive those running programs through a human sensorium looking at a screen, you experience something vaguely isomorphic to old-school paper pages and files. It appears to us that way, and it’s useful to think and talk about it that way. It’s true enough for our purposes, but it’s not the whole truth. It’s a kind of metaphor or a model that we can use to understand what’s happening. The measure of a metaphor lies exclusively in its power to model a situation in such a way as to most frequently provoke the most appropriate response to stimulus. Period. If your tobacco addiction presents to you as a demon, and you choose to deal with it that way, awesome. For some people that’s a good lens to use. For others it might be better to stick with the chemical feedback loop model. Maybe it’s just different ways of seeing and saying the same thing. Reality seems to be happening on many levels at once, and the fact that it hangs together as neatly as it does is proof positive, for me at least, that there is something going on that is not immediately apparent from our default vantage point.
I think I got lucky, in a way, having lost my religion as a little kid. My touchstone images have always been taken out of mythic movies and psychedelic science fiction, so I’m not prone to taking this stuff too literally. If you’re Catholic, and the Virgin Mary appears to you in an ayahuasca trip, you may be susceptible to believing that the Holy Virgin herself in fact paid you a visitation. When Yoda appears to me, I know damned good and well it’s not really Yoda, because the real Yoda is a muppet. It must be much more confusing for people whose functional myths are easily mixed up with supposedly true stories. It seems like certain psychedelics totally scan you and then they present in a format that’s targeted to you personally. For instance, I recently had an ayahuasca session that involved an odd conversation with a praying mantis the size of an office building. I didn’t get it at the time. Then, a month later, I remembered a praying mantis that I caught like five years ago at Burning Man, and kept alive in a water jug upon which I had written the phrase “alien ambassador god, handle with care”. I laughed and laughed when I finally figured it out. Do I think there are giant bugs in hyperspace? No. Might it have been some sort of alien ambassador god? Maybe so. It sure cleaned my clock, whatever it was. But whatever it was, it was certainly not what it appeared to be. Anything with two eyes on the front of its head is not a creature that evolved in psychedelic multi-space. That can’t be what it looks like for itself, if such a distinction applies.
The mind’s visualization software is awesome. You can feed it really abstract data and it will take its best shot at drawing something in. This stuff comes at you real fast, and your brain runs all the pattern recognition software its got and serves up a trial hallucination. Go brain! So, for instance, with DMT, lots of people get whatever they would draw in for a bunch of quick clever little creatures. Maybe for one guy it’s elves and for somebody else it’s fairies or aliens. (I do believe in aliens in theory, and I’m open-minded about the possibility of them phoning us at home with some variation on Ma Bell non-local or telepathy, but again: how could we tell? When they start sending technical specs that work instead of platitudes about galactic brotherhood, I’ll be impressed.) And yeah, yeah, sometimes apparent entities manifest as nothing we’ve ever seen before. Sometimes they DO look like my idea of what would have evolved in a non-physical space, and sometimes they look like something that I literally could not have previously imagined at all. Some drugs have strange tropes that seem to manifest with statistically uncanny predictability, like ayahuasca jaguars and tryptamine gnomes. Some apparent entities can also manifest as places that I can walk around in, or as music, or as whirlpools in the body, or collages of my own memories. Others seem to be distributed amongst a number of hosts like a virus. Sometimes my friends seem to be sharing their nervous systems with something slippery that flickers into their eyes every third frame or so (I don’t like that one). Occasionally I even get shared hallucinations, like the time my friend Seuss Dean and I mixed up a strange cocktail and we both saw a bunch of researchers with clipboards. Our independent descriptions of them matched up rather uncannily. Do I think they were really there? Riddle me first where “there” is and I’ll try to answer your question.
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