A New Western Tradition?
5meo DMT is one of the most ancient entheogenic substances documented, and conversely one of the least explored. There is a lot of mystery surrounding it, as well as disinformation. Archaeological evidence found in ancient burials support the use in South America dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years1. Currently however, in the modern world, the reasons for its mystery are plenty. It is not widely available by any means and natural forms are hard to come by, and while it can be found on dark web markets with the same ease as anything else there, it does not generally appear in recreational circles. Even among people who use psychedelics for recreation, it is considered only for the most intrepid, experienced, and/or brave. It is arguably the most powerful entheogenic ego-solvent available in terms of it’s ability, being capable of nullifying all that one is nearly instantaneously within a gentle, artificial but genuine death experience – something I argue is the perfect and instant antidote for the “western condition”.
I would like to state right out of the gate that it is definitely not for a casual seeker of drug experiences, and that is not meant as a challenge but rather a sincere warning. In fact, genuinely, to use it carelessly without preparation and intent carries a real possibility to negatively effect one’s life, due to the sheer power of the experience, and serious depersonalization or derealization could be the more benign psychological manifestations of a poorly integrated experience. There are also enough accounts of people undergoing physical distress during powerful peak encounters with it, such as breathing cessation, to take it very seriously indeed and to have experienced people on hand as observers. However taking the right precautions and with good preparation, 5-meo DMT’s powerful effects make it a good candidate for one who needs a powerful ego solvent to initiate deep trans-personal work and for those who are well prepared for such an involved undertaking.
Ego loss is a concept often misconstrued with the psychedelic state itself, but it is more complex. While under the influence of psychedelics, the cosmic joke is suddenly revealed, and that is why we tend to laugh so much early on when experimenting with them. Suddenly we are able to see that the roles we use to interact with reality and society are just that, roles, and as such are fictitious and the importance that is put into these machinations is astounding and often one cannot help but laugh when they peek behind the curtain.
Within the psychedelic state we often temporarily “forget” these roles and put them aside for a time and as such interact with the world with a certain sense of novelty, as if really doing so for the first time. This state is often called “ego death” by psychonauts since the roles that are dropped are associated with the ego, and indeed it is a loss of ego, but this is a temporary state that any psychedelic provides. It is a matter of semantics but that is an ego loss, and the death of the ego is the perceived and literal coming to an end of all that one considers to be their self. It is felt and perceived usually as an actual death of the participant, one truly feels as if they are dying in body.
Ego death is different from the state of novelty that is a temporary suspension of the ego driven roles that we operate in society within. To experience a true ego death is to have the membrane that separates the I from the universal Thou torn suddenly away, and as one dissolves into an essence of being they can witness for themselves a sense of deep belonging on a universal level, at once realizing their impermanence and insignificance on a cosmic scale and at the same time realizing a connection with that same great cosmos through the gift of the intellect.
It is a beautiful thing, an experience which can help a person who is stuck in repetitive patterns of self harm and negativity to move beyond them; for many those states of suffering are due to a deep loss of connection, a lack of belonging to anything of meaning, leadingto lives spent being lost. Understanding ones inherent integral part on a human, universal and individual level is part of the promise of the ego death experience that is available within 5meoDMT. For whatever intention one engages with this molecule, to initiate recovery or as part of a wellness regimen. f one includes it as part of a designed approach including aftercare for integration (whatever that looks like for the individual, private therapy, recovery meetings, online communities, etc), it can be a powerful and effective tool for transformation of one’s life.
5meo DMT is not n,n DMT is not psilocybin is not…
As part of the resurgence -a renaissance, some have called it- of interest in psychedelics, the tryptamine psychedelic n,n DMT has gotten a lot of attention. Although in use among indigenous tribes as a constituent of the brewed concoction of several plants called ayahuasca, again, for perhaps hundreds of years, it’s use among westerners at large is a relatively recent phenomenon. It can be extracted and freebased for use by means of simple chemical extraction from a number of easily obtainable source plants and is therefore actually easily procured, while as a commercial product being nearly non-existent on the black market. The yields of a plant extraction can be smoked to achieve a powerful psychedelic experience which only lasts in duration for less than half an hour. 5me0-DMT has effects similar in onset and duration when smoked or injected but that is where the similarity ends. The availability for 5meo DMT is not as easily solved as in the case with n,n DMT. Alkaloid extractions from source plants have proven hard to achieve and its not nearly as common as its cousin. Most is obtained as a synthetic from oversea labs selling it as a research chemical or from dark web re-sellers.
Of evolving popularity and notoriety is the veritable hopping, croaking, psychedelic chemical lab of a creature, the Colorado river toad or Bufo or Incilius Alvarius. The toad secretes 5meoDMT as a major constituent of its venom (for which this article is named) along with bufotenine, and several other compounds including bufotoxins, which if ingested orally, could kill. However when the dried secretions are vaporized they produce a powerful effect. Therefore the animal has become a reliable source of the 5meoDMT molecule for many but the issues with harvesting from live creatures should be self-evident without discussing and the species is already threatened by poachers obtaining the drug. Keeping or capturing and milking toads is cruel and dangerous, especially by one who is unpracticed and untrained in doing so. There are practitioners who are using the venom in self-styled shamanic ceremonies who claim to do so responsibly, but there is little to no oversight to ensure ethical harvesting just as there is little to none to oversee the end use and practice of the people wielding the venom. Some of these practitioners claim a long standing tradition among indigenous peoples of the Sonoran desert of using the venom, calling it by names such as sapito, but these claims have no real evidence to back them and are most likely fabricated for the purpose of promoting their businesses.
For many including myself, the introduction to the molecule was provided through the synthetic version, and a molecule is a molecule. For a long time, it was not regulated by the U.S. federal government, and was available though open web sites selling ‘research chemicals’, primarily operating out of China. In 2004, a federal operation shut down the legal availability of not only 5meo DMT but many other “RC’s” as well³. Even so, those with enough savvy to find and order it then would be able to do so now, and in fact markets on the “dark web” combined with crypto-currencies offer a safe, reliable state of the art method for obtaining things like it. (Please do not assume that I have any idea of how to do this myself, and please don’t ask for advice. Sorry I had to say that…) The legal status varies from country to country, and there are other ways of encountering it including clinics that are using it to help detox clients from drugs of abuse in Canada and Mexico, and underground practitioners as well, and one is very well-advised to do as much research on any of these routes as they can if they decide to take them, for safety and other considerations.
So, Why 5meo Now?
Westerners have refined tastes. We eat refined sugar, drink refined coffee and ingest refined drugs. Many expend vast amounts of time, energy and money in search of and travel deep into jungles to try to find a powerful experience they feel will help “heal” or possibly catalyze transformative change within them. Often, the indigenous tribes that have traditionally used psychedelic brews for their own purposes have engaged with these seekers and “upped” the alkaloid content of their brews to satisfy the curious westerners and sometimes created “traditions” out of whole cloth for them. We have a certain expectation of what a visionary experience is and it may or may not coincide with that of a tribal member whose concerns are far different from the average workaday American.
This leads us to 5meo DMT as a candidate for a new tradition, one for those who feel for whatever reason, called to do some very deep inner work. The substance itself is not going to solve anyone’s deepest emotional difficulties or resolve all of their PTSD symptoms at once, but it very well may give them the strong and solid foundation from which to do deep inner, personal self-transformative work that is often an arduous and painful process. For the simply curious, it is not something to trifle with, but for those willing, it is the most effective catalyst for temporary but total ego dissolution that exists. Personally this experience, which for me as for many involved a very real dying and re-birthing process, showed me what had previously eluded me and gave me a sense of belonging that I had never had. Once down, the first words that escaped my lips after my first encounter with it were “Home! After 42 years, I am finally home!”. No- I was not instantly healed, and many years of tears followed since, but it did help me move into recovery; and by letting me finally be able to see how precious and finite the gift of my individual life is it instantly removed the ability to commit suicide which for me was a huge step towards recovering.
A psychedelic experience is by definition subjective, but there are certain undeniable common aspects to it beyond the pharmacological , somatic effects upon the physical body. Some of them seem to carry exotic phenomenological effects-for example, there appears to be some kind of objective space associated with the visionary n,n DMT experience that many users enter with a breakthrough dose of that substance. It is as if there was a certain topography to it, a hyperspace with fixed locales within deep inner space populated in turns by entities, deities and archetypes. The use of n,n DMT may attune a user to an innate space within the human mind that is the source of spiritual contemplation and awareness of the mysterious “other”. Rather than these forms having been created in the mind of the user, constituted only of their memories and dogmas, perhaps the pantheons of religions, as well as ideas of “little people”, aliens, fairies-the “other”-all and more may have been taken from this space, having always existed and just morphed along with our cultural morés. The ability to connect oneself with such deep portions of the human mind and accessing them at will is an ancient technology, one that we would do well as a species to reconnect with. With tools like n,n DMT now easily available, this may be the case.
There are levels of insight into the nature of reality and the universe attainable through the psychedelic experience and different drugs seem to hold different capacities for experiences. 5meo DMT has the capacity to make one experientially aware of the highest intricate functions of the subtle, unseen universe, and realize one’s immediate position within that matrix. Simply put, there is the visionary, dualistic state as in the n,n DMT experience- in which there is an encounter with entities seeming to exist outside of oneself that are interacted with and who often represent some character of a divine nature and then there is on the other hand the entheogenic, or unitive, or non-dual state of the peak 5-meo DMT experience. Each impart valuable knowledge of reality and consciousness to an aware practitioner, but are very different in nature. In the former, one feels as if they are witness to a vision of some great importance, in the latter, they join with the vision. The nature of a n,n DMT vision can be referred to as a visionary state, while 5meoDMT influence can be called entheogenic state, since that term refers to an inward association with the Divine being.
5meo DMT very much differs somatically from n,n DMT and it has even been very much miscategorized as the “dark side” of the DMT experience for some reason. Rather than being more difficult to handle, actually it has been my experience that it is much gentler physically as far as a body load and far less jarring than vaporized n,n DMT, mostly due to the lack of startling visuals. The route to this state can instill fear, because it seems very close to (or perhaps even is) death. As one approaches the void, they will feel as if they are dying. To the person on a high dose of 5meo DMT, they may even perceive that their heart to stop beating, breathing may seem to cease, and then they will commence to dissolve. The comparisons between accounts of near death experiences, or NDEs, often align very well with breakthrough 5meo DMT stories, and this is another possibly interesting avenue for future study. To an outside over-observer, nothing more than a slight elevated pulse and concentrated breathing may be apparent,and the body is not in distress. The sensation of the cessation of life functions like a heartbeat is due to the dilation of time that occurs in such transcendental states. While it is an overwhelmingly safe substance to use, all and any reasonable precautions must be used with its use. Details on deaths are scarce and whether due to the drug itself or some other exacerbating circumstance unclear, but nonetheless, 5meo DMT certainly carries far more dangerous possibilities than the “non-ODable” n,n DMT, LSD, or psilocybin. There have been some accounts of fatalities involving 5meo DMT, but the data is somewhat confusing (6). It’s not a bad idea that your companion/observer is CPR trained.
A “unitive experience” is described as a state where a person experiences the elimination of the I-thou relationship with the universe and merges in some sense with the source of being. One loses adhesion to any and all landmarks of their previous life, unable to hold onto them, and all of their memories, ideas and beliefs fall away like so much dirty, ill-fitting clothing. Once they have lost their entire identity and have been reduced down only to pure essence, perhaps pure mind, there seems still to be a perception through some observer function allowing one to perceive an emptiness which is pregnant with the potential for the being of everything, and one feels as if they are merging with this eternal unity as part of the infinite and inexorable process of creation and being.
One witnesses this as a void-space, but it is not empty. It is blackness but not darkness, it is colorless, but filled with a singular bright clear light that does not reflect upon or emanate from anything but just is. Like light in endless, empty space in appearance, however in essence it is independent of material constraints of time and space, it is truly an ineffable divine state of being and is very very real. To be in it’s presence while still alive is to remember everything and is truly transformative. Utilizing the understanding that comes from this place is truly wielding power.
This state is called by many names and is sought by mystics who develop their skills to achieve it through long years of dedicated training and is high upon the ladder of mystical contemplation. It is a state which is the goal of mystery schools and mystic occult traditions across the human experience, a state for which training for decades may or may not be adequate to achieve-and the venom of a toad or a few milligrams of a white powder can put one there nearly instantly. It is not something to trifle with. When terms like ego-death are thrown around so carelessly in certain circles, it is hard to get across just how powerful this experience is and what the implications are for ones future who undergoes it.
There is no one template for what one may witness, but at some point after one peaks, they will most likely again become aware of their body, perhaps even with some disappointment, and feel a sensation of “falling” as they come back into their body. The experience is not over though, and upon reentry, the realities of material reality come into harsh view. The return to the body can feel animalistic, the god putting on a rough suit of fur. The sensations can be intense, physically euphoric, can be very sexual. One can also feel nauseous and if one feels the need to purge, it can be a fulfilling releases of pent up psychic energy. Don’t resist. If there is any one piece of advice to a 5 meo tripper, it’s ‘Don’t Fear, Let Go’. Anywhere along the line, all anxiety does is make for difficulty, it can delay, obscure or even destroy the experience. If one can let go of everything, it all comes right back, one loses nothing and may find and identify many things they can easily lose.
Now What? Integrating a transformative experience.
A person availing themselves of an opportunity to use 5meo DMT must be aware of its absolute power and be as prepared as they can for it, the launch into the void is not to be taken lightly, it can be no less real and deeply affecting to one’s life than one’s own death. Think about that statement, it is not meant lightly. One who undergoes such an experience is transformed, instantly, period. Considering past psychedelic drug experiences no matter how significant in content or quality as sufficient preparation is a mistake, and could be a tragic one. Among other things, if unprepared for such an event, coming down into a world in which unfortunately there is no cultural relevance to relate to what one has just undergone can be challenging, to put it mildly.
Having a strong foundation of stability and support onto which to touch down is a crucial part of using 5meo DMT. The desire to rearrange one’s life in accordance with the revelation one has from a transformative non-dual experience in the same lightning flash manner that the drug granted can be strong. This is one of the reasons that mystery schools and esoteric traditions have occulted the knowledge of attaining non-dual encounters. There is a voice within the heart that has been described as ‘still and small’ that knows the perfect way to do everything, however it is often unheard beneath the pounding of the environment and the shouting of the ego. Once those loud voices are hushed, the quiet inner voice of the heart is suddenly quite very loud and the effect can be jarring to one’s psyche, especially if they have been running from that voice through drug addiction or other self-harming behaviors. Selling everything, shaving ones head and moving to Nepal is a drastic example, but the desire to live authentically can overwhelm ones common sense and even sense of self preservation. It is wise to take the experience in the company of understanding loved ones, not strangers, who will be there with you during the long haul. People who know what you are doing, support you and will not let you do stupid shit with your life.
There are other concerns: One also has to take great care not to let a sudden feeling of disconnection from the world overwhelm them – this could lead to isolation and in the absence of others to challenge false beliefs that can just pop into one’s head and feel very real, one can follow their heads down some distracting paths that are opened up through these powerful experiences. On the other hand, without support from people who understand and support the worldview with which you see things, falling back into the gravity well of old destructive patterns because one was unable to integrate their experience successfully is another danger. Having a truly powerful encounter with the divine can be a special sort of lonely and having no one to relate it with can be difficult and lead back into old ways. Turning ones back on the experience because it does not align with the orientation of the society around you would be terrible waste of time and energy and in the case of some trying to recover from life-threatening conditions like addiction, can be deadly. This experience is sought, but is not highly valued in a consumerist, material culture. To be in the world and not of it is a worthy goal of the transcended westerner but one that has little if anything in the way of instruction. Often we end up feeling strange in a stranger land, to paraphrase Heinlein. In the end, it is really little more than loving oneself, being truthful and conscious in thought and action, but those simple concepts can be very difficult to maintain in a society driven by materialism and greed, seemingly organized by individuals with no feeling of brotherhood.
One thing that I found difficult to handle and something many likely will experience are effects from the drug that last seemingly long after its ingestion. Called “re-activation” by some, it can occur at any time during the weeks following an encounter with 5meoDMT. One may awake from deep sleep, having dreamed that they were back in the void, or they may catch the sun at a certain angle shining on a leaf and not just be reminded of it, but fully transported into a visionary mental state. This can be challenging, to say the least, for some people. It is advisable to take some time to relax and just let things sink in for a week or so and it is a good idea to take a break from other psychoactives as well and even to lay off of any other practices used to heighten consciousness such as breathing techniques. It is not known for certain what causes this, whether the continued effect of some metabolite(doubtful) or perhaps the activation of hormone production but is definitely more than just simply the effect of an incredibly profound experience, and it does not happen to everyone. It is common though and is all the more reason to have a good space of time blocked out on your calendar for immediate integration period after dosing.
One’s religious foundation may be strengthened or may be challenged. They may find that the articles of faith they once held to be absolute do not hold up and witness a complete shattering of their faith from a breakthrough unitive experience. The realization, without doubt, of the subtle nature behind all that is may comfort many, but it may not be what one thought it was. The rigid dogmatic mindset that accompanies a religious hardliner unwilling to accept change in belief usually isn’t the kind of mind that smokes a powerful psychedelic with the intent of dissolving themselves, but even those who don’t think their beliefs are rigid may find themselves uncomfortable. The experience is one of bliss, but tends to upset the flow of an unbalanced life.
One of the best tools after an experience is community. If you do find yourself in spiritual crisis, or any other existential crisis in the aftermath, there are communities online and in many locales of like minded people who can help you through discussing and relating to your experience. More and more, especially in larger metropolitan (Atlanta, LA, Portland, and many more) areas, people are forming local ‘integration circles’, or something of the like, where people can get together face to face and discuss their experiences, these can often be found online in places like meetup.com. Look around, they are there. These days, you may be surprised who your allies in this trip are.
It may be difficult to face ones reality in the aftermath of a peak 5 meo trip. Certain behaviors, habits, addictions, relationships, etc may simply no longer be acceptable in the face of a new awareness and some people may experience a strong wish to cut undesirable things out if their life. Depending on what those things are, the medicine can give the needed strength and vision to make major changes. It can also help provide inspiration on how to do so, but the work is yours to complete and it takes time and deliberation, for integration to occur. It is by no means a magic bullet, in fact in the time following such a powerful experience, one may encounter some very real hardships and internal crises. It is a tool, and learning how to use it is advisable through research and conversation. After ones eye’s open, the tears will flow. At the core, if one can remember the message of the medicine, which is really only the word love, 5 meo DMT can be a powerful tool for positive self change. In the end, what you make of it is up to you, but with its push, it can put one on the route to move into a conscious future.
This one life is all you have, upon death, the light goes out on the universe that exists within your individual consciousness that you have now, and that individuality is reabsorbed into the field of unity from which it came. “You” will cease to be, at some point along the temporal line that is your life. Some may ponder this, many fear it, most run away from it, but few understand it, and few will ever encounter it until they die in actuality. To be able to do so while still alive is a gift that few can conceive of let alone accept. By practicing death, we may learn how to truly become masters of life.
It is a strong blow to the ego which wants to hold onto importance, if not permanence no matter how delusional. Without a strong foundation to come down to, a wounded ego will search in all direction for meaning, and can create more lies and machinations to make up for what it cannot understand or grasp onto in time. Instead of running from the big bad ego though, you can become friends with it. Instead of rejecting your ego as some hairy, hoary monster, dance with the beast, arm in arm with the spectre of Death, for both are always going to be with you. A true ego death can afford the opportunity to become more of an ally with your ego, to free it and to mold it into a source of creativity instead of a constricting force. Dancing a jig arm in arm with both your skeleton and your daemon, is liberating!
For a personal account of a 5meo experience, read here,
CGE 15 4 N2NPDX
1Snuff Powders from Pre-Hispanic San Pedro de Atacama: Chemical and
Contextual Analysis; Constantino Manuel Torres; David B. Repke; Kelvin Chan; Dennis McKenna; Agustin Llagostera; Richard Evans Schultes
Current Anthropology, Vol. 32, No. 5. (Dec., 1991), pp. 640-649.
(see: http://www.dmtsite.com/5-meo-dmt/experience/snuffs.html for more info on snuffs)
(²) a-Schultes, Richard Evans; Albert Hofmann (1979). Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-056089-7.
b- McKenna, Dennis; Aya Awakenings: A Shamanic Odyssey (2013)
all images and content copyright 2016 Christopher G Ewing, all rights reserved, feel free to quote but please credit! Thanks!