Rick Strassman, M.D., is clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and president and cofounder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation. From 1990 to 1995 he performed the first new human studies with psychedelic drugs in the United States in more than 20 years, focusing on the powerful naturally occurring compound DMT. The author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and coauthor of Inner Paths to Outer Space, he lives in Gallup, New Mexico.
Excerpt from book:
Chapter 12 Perception
The preceding two chapters addressed physical and emotional aspects of the DMT and prophetic states. They have begun accommodating us to the notion that the two sets of experiences resemble each other to an impressive degree. Now I will consider perceptual properties: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. This chapter brings nearly overwhelmingly convincing evidence that the two experiences share profound phenomenological similarities.
The DMT effect and prophecy are extraordinarily visual. These features are the most numerous and detailed of any perceptual category, and for that matter, of any category of the syndromes’ phenomenologies. I will begin with darkness and proceed to colors and their characteristics.
Rex: It looked like it was in a field of black space (DMT 208).
At the onset of Abraham’s vision: A great darkness fell upon him (Gen. 15:12). In the vision itself, the text qualifies the nature of the darkness: . . . and it was dense darkness . . . (Gen. 15:17).
View from High above Earth
Those in either the prophetic or DMT state refer to viewing things from great height.
Philip: Then I was above a strange landscape, like Earth, but very unearthly (DMT 182).
Ezekiel finds himself high above earth, but not in deep space: . . . a wind lifted me up between the earth and the heavens . . . (Ezra 8:3).
Clouds or a Cloud
We find accounts of a cloud or clouds--sometimes smoke or clouds of smoke--in both sets of altered states. In the Hebrew Bible, such images often occur in the context of God’s glory. Prophetic clouds frequently are fiery and occupy relatively well-demarcated space. They fill parts or all of the Tabernacle or Temple, and pillars of smoke and/or fire travel with the Hebrews in the wilderness. Clouds also are relevant to the notion of “emerging,” a process by which an identifiable image appears or takes shape out of a relatively amorphous visual matrix.
Sean: There were bright yellow clouds I was floating through. As an example of emerging, Philip described a humanoid figure: . . .coming out of the clouds . . . .
In the beginning of Ezekiel’s vision in Babylonia, by the Kevar River, he sees: . . . a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it . . . (Ezra 1:4).
After dividing certain sacrificial items in half, Abraham’s vision begins with: . . . a smoky furnace and a torch of fire which passed between the pieces . . . (Gen. 15:17).
Moses receives the Ten Commandments on the top of Mt. Sinai where: . . . the mountain was burning with the fire up to the heart of the heavens, darkness, cloud, and thick cloud (Deut. 4:11).
Daniel witnesses the emerging phenomenon: I was watching in night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a man came (Dan. 7:13).
Flashes, Sparks, Fire: Equivalence of Imagery
The Hebrew Bible constantly refers to fire and fiery images, either by themselves or with clouds or smoke. While DMT volunteers rarely used the word “fire” to describe what they saw, images in the DMT state“If ever a book was destined for controversy, this is it! Connecting the ancient Biblical past with the far-flung reaches of psychedelic hyperspace, Rick Strassman’s compelling, thought-provoking, and compulsively readable new book is hard to put down. Strassman offers fascinating evidence that the prophets in the Hebrew Bible may naturally have experienced mystical states of consciousness, similar to what his research subjects experienced when they were given the potent psychedelic DMT, and he shows how the revered text of the Hebrew Bible can be used as a model for understanding the mysterious DMT experience. Scholarly, well-researched, and exploding with original insights, this radical exploration will surely stretch the limits of what you thought was possible.”