Speaking to aliens and angels – Researching the spirit molecule

Mysteries

MYSTERY WIRE — Speaking to aliens and angels is fantasy to most people. But according to one English doctor, people he has worked with have had this experience.

Dr. David Luke (Image: gre.ac.uk)

Dr. David Luke is a psychology professor at Greenwich University and researches, among other topics, psychedelics and the effect they can have on people.

While illegal in the United States, Luke says the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine, better known as DMT, is also called the spirit molecule because some people interact with beings they see and gives them a life-changing experience.

DMT is a natural substance found in most plants as well as in the human body, but when ingested in concentrated amounts, it can have profound effects that last a lifetime.


Dimethyltryptamine is a schedule 1 drug in the United States under the Control Substances Act.


DMT has been used by indigenous peoples for centuries but more recently has emerged in psychedelic therapy centers in countries where it is legal. DMT is widely known as the spirit molecule because people who’ve tried to claim they’ve encountered spiritual entities, even aliens, have emerged from the experience as different people with less fear and anxiety.

“Occasionally, people may have challenging experiences,” Luke said. “But very, very rarely do people regret having these psychedelic experiences in clinical settings. And they do have potentially massive benefits in helping people deal with all manner of psychological problems, like depression and anxiety and so on, but they’re certainly not for everybody. And they should be taken in the right context, if they are to be taken at all.”

The experiences may not be real, in a physical sense, but the effects are. “These really are extraordinary experiences,” according to Luke. “You may feel shifts in your bodily awareness, you may regress to childhood memories, there’s so many experiences any dimension of your personal experience, your consciousness can change in a psychedelic experience in extremely profound ways.”

His latest book, DMT Entity Encounters, includes input from some of the world’s most prominent researchers and thinkers.

Dr. Luke said he has tried DMT himself and had spiritual experiences. “In my research, I’m fortunate in that I’ve been a participant in numerous neuroscientific research,” Luke said. “Being injected with various psychedelics in the laboratory in brain scanners, and have also conducted a lot of anthropological field research with indigenous tribes around the world where you’re often encouraged to partake. So I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.”

George Knapp
Sort of the personal side of it, how you became interested in DMT and its effects and this research?

David Luke
Yeah, well, I’ve had a long standing interest in DMT. It’s an extremely fascinating molecule. And I spent my entire career studying psychedelic substances, but DMT of all substances, is probably the most fascinating because it’s naturally occurring in nature, it’s found widely in probably all plants, and many animals, including humans. And so it’s a natural psychedelic that we produce in our own body, which also happens to be one of the strongest psychedelics that we know of.

George Knapp
But we don’t have the effects of it, the stuff that’s in our body, we’re not talking with aliens, things of that sort, unless we ingest a greater amount of it right?

David Luke
Well, so the theory goes, I mean, certainly, if you have a DMT experience, it can be profoundly life changing. But there is a theory that spontaneous experiences have perhaps a mystical nature like alien abduction experiences, or near death experiences could involve DMT that’s actually produced in the body. So DMT might be able to explain all kinds of weird and wonderful spontaneous experiences that people have.

George Knapp
Well, the spirit molecule is the title that’s been given to it, there was a book that had that in the title some years ago, until now it’s been sort of the definitive reference book for people interested in it. And now you’ve sort of sampled opinions of thinkers and researchers and experiencers, from all over the world in this book. How did you pick the people that have contributed to your book? And what did you set out to do with it?

David Luke
Well, this is actually the second of two books, actually. So this continues with our search to find great thinkers around the world, that are expert in something to do with entity encounters, experiences of encountering some kind of discarnate other or sentient being. And so they come from a variety of different fields, everything from neuropsychopharmacology, to anthropology, to religious studies, and cultural historians, and so on. So we think we’ve pulled the greatest minds across these two books, we’re really discussing what we think we know about DMT entities.

George Knapp
I know Dennis McKenna, I’ve interviewed him a couple of times, he’s in the book, Jeff Kripal, is in the book. And they’re deep thinkers on these kinds of topics. But I also saw a guy named Winkelman, who sort of was the fly in the ointment as he put it. And he makes the very obvious point that can we trust our senses? You take in a powerful chemical as a psychoactive substance like this, that does not necessarily mean that you’re really encountering aliens or spiritual beings and that sort, why don’t you capsulize that point of view that is included in your book.

David Luke
Yeah, absolutely. So we have a broad range of opinions. And of course, we should first and foremost consider that these are just aberrant, if not natural, brain processes, you know, being perturbed by ingestion of some kind of psychedelic agent, which is perhaps acting on normal brain regions to give you the experience of encountering some kind of other being, or being those experiences seem extremely real. So that should be our first port of call in trying to explain these experiences. I guess, where the line is drawn with those kinds of explanations is, for one thing, these experiences are so profound, that people feel they are more real than this reality, that they have the propensity to convert even half of all atheists who have these experiences into non atheists within the space of 10 minutes. And that some of these experiences are so bizarre and yet occur so frequently, we’d have to go to some pretty extreme lengths to try and explain them in terms of normal brain processes, although we can do, but we just don’t know enough about brain and consciousness as yet to to give it a full explanation

George Knapp
That nickname, the spirit molecule, that’s been around for so long. Could you describe why people would call it that way and discuss for us the range of experiences that people have had. I’ve known people who’ve done this multiple times, they say they encounter entities of some sort, and I’ve had conversations with them, and some of them will have another experience where they take the same thing, and they go back and continue the conversation with the same beings they encounter. It’s profound. It has profound effects on the people who’ve taken it.

David Luke
Very good. So I mean, life changing effects in many cases, like I say, you can totally shift a person’s metaphysical dial from being an atheist to a non atheist. And of course, these encounter experiences are deeply compelling. You seem to be in the presence most often, with some kind of sentient being, some kind of other. Usually one that is much more in intelligent, perhaps even omniscient in some people’s experiences, even, you know, perhaps getting into kind of godlike qualities, at least that’s how you experience it. That’s how it feels. And, of course, people do have conversations with them, they sometimes get some insights or revelations, they perhaps understand some deeply profound and obscure, theological or cosmological kind of positions suddenly, and yet, it’s very difficult to bring about that information necessarily, and communicate it. So the interesting thing about the name, the spirit molecule, is it contains this paradox of contradiction, you know, a molecule is something very much from the material world, and that’s what it is, it’s just a chemical dimethyltryptamine. But at the same time, it gives people these extremely spiritual experiences, perhaps, you know, like near death experiences. And so it is both spirit and matter. You know, it’s like a spirit molecule. And I think that name kind of captures something really very curious about the nature of DMT and DMT entity encounters.

George Knapp
As the knowledge of DMT spreads through books like yours, people are tempted to try it, you know, it’s a natural human reaction, they’re tempted to try it. And now there is ayahuasca and DMT tourism. In Central and South America, people go down, they come back, they say they have profound experiences, changed their lives. There are places that are where there’s therapy for people with PTSD, that are very popular. And again, a lot of claims are made, very positive claims. But there’s risk in that, I would think, this is a powerful substance. And it’s not really for everyone, or would you say it could be?

David Luke
No, I happen to agree, I don’t think these extremely kind of worldview shattering psychedelics are necessary for everybody. You know, I think some people may not well be prepared for them. And that it can be a bit of a one way street, you’ve had that experience, you can have the experience. And in most circumstances, particularly in the clinical context, where they’re given in controlled settings, with a lot of preparation and a therapist there to guide you through it and help you integrate the experience. They’re often very positive, nearly always positive. Occasionally, people may have challenging experiences. But very, very rarely do people regret having these psychedelic experiences in clinical settings. And they do have potentially massive benefits in helping people deal with all manner of psychological problems, like depression and anxiety and so on, but they’re certainly not for everybody. And they should be taken in the right context, if they are to be taken at all.

George Knapp
I read a couple of weeks ago about these places in Mexico, tourist destinations were out behind the bar, you can go and lick a psychedelic toad. And it seems like it’s it’s kind of a reckless thing to do while you’re on vacation, and you’re drinking and enjoying yourself. Hey, let’s go try some psychedelic toad. And I would think the same thing would be true with the increasing popularity of these ayahuasca retreats where some of them are overseen by professionals experienced people and know what they’re doing. And some really not. It does raise some possibility, some really negative consequences.

David Luke
Yeah, absolutely. It can be some Wild West in the world of psychedelic retreat centers. And of course, I’d add extra caution about the recklessness of licking toads, especially psychoactive ones because actually, that’s quite poisonous, and dangerous thing to do on a just a purely physiological, toxic chemical level. Actually, the venom has to be extracted from the toad and then smoked, if anybody is going to do it, don’t go around licking toes, be very careful about smoking anything. But there is a frontier that there’s not very much regulation concerning these retreat centers, some of them do pay a lot of attention to having the right clinical staff and settings and well trained and experienced citizen guides, and yet some of them are a bit more cavalier and cowboy about their approach to it.

George Knapp
Can you discuss sort of the level of regulation for scientific investigators like yourself in the UK and the US. If you want to do have a clinical study, where you try it out on people and see what happens to investigate these profound life changing experiences that have been recorded, how hard is it to do that? Can you can you do it?

David Luke
It is feasible and you know, not very much has changed in the in the way of regulation to either prevent or enable people to do this kind of research. I think the climate around the research has shifted, it’s very expensive, it’s quite arduous, you have to go jump through a lot of hurdles and hoops as it should be. But the current legislation, particularly in the UK, that I’m aware of, is not very conducive to doing this kind of research. It’s very expensive. You need to get a home office license. Only a few centers are able to actually administer and have these psychedelic agents. I mean, they’re there too. in much the same way as nuclear grade, weapons grade uranium, right, so it would help to advance the clinical research, if the government’s at least, removed some of the restrictions around clinical research at the very least.

George Knapp
Would you favor that? That’s a position that you would take?

David Luke
Yes, absolutely. I think it’s really important. I mean, we’re in the kind of greatest kind of scientific censorship that’s occurred, ever probably in the history of science, in many respects, you know, these things were prohibited from from being researched for nearly 50 years. And that’s very much kind of anti knowledge, anti science, I think.

George Knapp
One of the uses for a psychedelic, psilocybin in particular, there’s a great an increased interest in psilocybin and a move toward legalization here in this country. For patients who are are terminal hospice patients. Who take this substance and are able to get their head around the idea of dying. Seems like a profound benefit under the correct circumstances. Do you see the research heading in that direction, and would DMT be appropriate or is that strictly for psilocybin?

David Luke
Well, DMT, interestingly, is like the chemical cousin of psilocybin. Psilocybin is the fungi kingdom’s version of DMT. We find DMT everywhere else in nature, and psilocybin, which is very chemically structurally similar, we find in fungi alone. So they’re very similar in many respects, although they are slightly different experiences associated with them. So potentially DMT could be used for this kind of research as well. But the thing about psilocybin is it does give you these kind of extended four hour experiences, and in the research in in palliative care with people who have end of life, cancer, and so on. They tend to have a mystical experience of some kind, those people are having mystical experience have much better clinical outcomes. And they come to some kind of existential resolution where they don’t quite fear death in the same way they did before. And consequently, that has fantastic knock-on effects on to people’s psychological well-being by reducing their anxiety, reducing their depression, reducing the amount of medications they need, and making them better prepared and more ready for their own mortality.

George Knapp
I don’t want to put you on the spot and ask you if you’ve tried it, if you want to say that’s fine, but have you been to ceremonies or procedures or even clinical trials where it’s been administered? And if so, can you describe what you saw, what happened?

David Luke
So in my research, I’m fortunate in that I’ve been a participant in numerous neuroscientific research that is being injected with various psychedelics in the laboratory in brain scanners, and have also conducted a lot of anthropological field research with indigenous tribes around the world where you’re often encouraged to partake. So I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. And you know, these really are extraordinary experiences. It’s almost impossible to describe in many ways. We can name some of the features of the experience. You may see colorful, geometric kaleidoscopic images, you may see a kind of fantastic visionary experiences, you may feel shifts in your bodily awareness, you may regress to childhood memories, there’s so many experiences. Any dimension of your personal experience, your consciousness, can change in a psychedelic experience in extremely profound ways. Which, although I can describe to you doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the experience in terms of that experience is going to be unique to you. And so it helps to prepare people for these experiences. But at the end of the day, there was only so much the preparation you can do in terms of what the experiences actually like.

George Knapp
For so long, you’ve talked about the indigenous peoples who tried it. Shamans, this has been the realm of shamans for centuries, for maybe millennia. It was held to a small group to have this knowledge and they would share it here and there and same thing with indigenous people in North America, whether it’s peyote or mescaline or things like that. I wonder if you have thought about the idea of sharing it with the rest of the world as opposed to keeping it in the hands of shamans, whether it’s a good idea?

David Luke
Well, I mean, traditionally, certainly the shamanic indigenous cultures I’ve worked with their their psychedelic use are kind of like the bedrock of their cultural cosmology, their identity. If you take for example, the curandero of Mexico, they’re known as the we Joli by outsiders. Peyote is at the core of all their mythology, their cultural calendar, all of their activities. You know, there’s not just like there’s one shaman lives at the edge of the village and he does his his kind of psychedelic shamanic stuff and he initiates people, the whole community are involved in it. The whole community, everyone, from small children to geriatrics go on the pilgrimage to go and collect the peyote. So it’s embedded within their whole culture, their identity, their worldview, their heritage, and so they don’t really keep it to themselves. I mean, they’ve kept to themselves as a culture until recently. But even now, these indigenous Germanic cultures are saying, look, you know, it’s about time the rest of the world woke up to these things, because I think there’s a lot they can learn from it. And you know, the world’s going to hell in a breadbasket pretty quickly otherwise. So I don’t necessarily think these things were just contained within a significant view.

George Knapp
I haven’t read your full book. But the parts that I’ve read, the what I got out of it is, hey, we’re on the dawn of a new era of research into this. And that’s a good thing, because the world could benefit from this. Is that really what you want to get across from the book?

David Luke
Yes, very much so. I mean, partly, I mean, that headline news is kind of coming out already elsewhere. The book itself is is more of a deeper philosophical kind of exploration into the nature of reality or nature of being the nature of consciousness, really. So it’s asking some really big questions about who we are. But that message is embedded in that yes, psychedelics do have massive potential benefits, which we could utilize, particularly now in our current state of ecological mental health crisis.

George Knapp
Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Interview recorded on 10/13/2021

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