Of Lucid Dreams and Astral Projections.

Around April of 1995, I began having experiences that I initially could not stretch my mind to fathom — quite an accomplishment for that period, too, as my life had become replete with other flavors of weirdness. Though I had achieved these experiences through effort and experiment, my intention had been to induce an out-of-body experience (OOBE or OBE) in which I could exit my corporeal form by means of the coexisting subtle body, a nonphysical vehicle through which it was said I could explore the physical universe without ever leaving the comfort of the bedroom. I listened to a tape that claimed to teach me this ability, with one side blatantly offering instructions on how to do so while the other offered those same instructions, only subliminally, over the liminal sound of waves crashing upon a beach.

The result was not what I expected. Rather than waking up outside of my body, I awoke in a seemingly endless series of alternate versions of my bedroom: nested false awakenings, I later learned them to be called. And when I ceased listening to the tape I began having what at least experientially constituted OBEs, only I found myself not disembodied in the familiar, physical landscape but alternate versions of familiar physical environments. It seemed to be a different reality entirely, and I later discovered it fit the descriptions many attributed to what they called the astral plane, which essentially fits the description of what others refer to as a parallel universe.

As I came to understand it shortly after these experiences began, the astral plane was the name some people gave to a supposed parallel universe that both echoes and extends beyond the physical universe with which we are familiar. It contains alternate versions or different renditions of familiar, physical environments as well as realms that are unique to that reality. In this place intention was the vehicle; while you could navigate in the environment much as you do in the corporeal form, you could also focus on an aspect of the environment, or even focus on a distant environment, and you would immediately be catapulted there. The objects on this plane were also described as being self-luminous, requiring no external light source. All of this seemed to describe my experiences, most of all those initial experiences, damn near perfectly.

Later I came to suspect that they might instead be what are known as lucid dreams (and more rarely, waking dreams), which are dreams in which the dreamer becomes awake within the dream environment, though there are at least three reasons why lucid dreams did not seem to be a suitable explanation.

First is the fact that during my “astral projections” experiential time often seemed compressed. In his lectures, Stephen LaBerge speaks of the well-known sleep studies, where the rapid eye movements (REM) of subjects were monitored in their sleep. He cites a case in which one subject was recorded to have very regular left-right eye movements in their sleep, and upon being awakened and asked what they had been dreaming about, they reported that they had been watching a ping-pong ball go back and forth across a table. Evidently, at least in some cases, the REM of a sleeping subject was not random but rather followed the movements being made by the subject within the dream. From this LaBerge got the ingenious idea to have subjects consciously commit a series of agreed-upon eye movements when they successfully entered into a lucid dream state during these studies. As a result of this, lucid dreaming was suddenly scientifically respectable; they could also determine at what stage of sleep lucid dreaming occurs. What this also suggests to me is that dream-time, at least when one is lucid, is perfectly aligned with real-time, which puts the lucid dreaming experience at odds with my “astral projections.” An experience in the other realm can last a seeming hour and I awaken to find perhaps fifteen minutes had passed — which shouldn’t even be long enough for me to fall asleep, let alone achieve my first REM cycle.

Second is the fact that in nearly all the cases I’ve read about the issue with lucid dreaming is staying within the dream, whereas my issue has always been waking myself up and out of it. This was particularly true during my initial experiences, though the issue may have continued unabated and the only difference now is that I have come to enjoy the experience and don’t seek to exit as soon as I can. In those initial experiences, however, I was frantically trying to wake up, but the best I could do was exit the otherworldly landscape and enter my paralyzed, corporeal body or a dark, endless void before falling back into another strange environment.

Both of these qualities don’t necessarily disqualify lucid dreaming as an explanation, though it seems as though other factors may be present. It could mean, for instance, that these experiences of mine may be generated by some dissociative disorder or seizure that left my mind awake as it thrust my body into a state of sleep paralysis and total sensory deprivation, inspiring my mind to compensate for the sensory lack with spontaneous, unconsciously-generated material of its own. Maybe the rapidity of my mental processes during these episodes (which might make more sense if it was indeed a seizure of some sort) squeezes a large amount of dream-time experience into a comparatively small amount of real-time. My inability to wake up from this sort of special-case lucid dream could be due to the fact that the seizure or dissociative episode had yet to run its course.

A third though entirely subjective and so less convincing reason I felt resistant to the notion that these experiences may merely be lucid dreams were their astounding sense of hyperreality. Though I ultimately came to explain the experience as constituting a “different kind of real,” I originally and perhaps more honestly described it as hyperreal, as more real than the reality I experienced in my mundane, waking existence. Not only was the environment far more vivid than waking experience, but I felt far more awake, alive or aware in these circumstances than I did during so-called waking life. It continues to be difficult to articulate the distinction, but it remains nonetheless. This other world clearly operated in accordance with a distinct set of laws that distinguished it from mundane existence, but the quality of perception and awareness were heightened. This became a dilemma for me. Was I to judge the mundane world as real and the other world as fantasy or dream simply due to the difference in their guiding laws despite the fact that things seemed more real and I felt more aware in the other world? This perspective seemed flawed, which is perhaps why I came to settle on that other world as being merely a different kind of reality than the mundane one.

A former objection of mine that arose when considering whether these were lucid dreams used to be that I was unable to control the environment, merely my position within the dream (much as in waking life). During my first or second experience, during a break period in my fighting and fleeing from the entity that would go on to plague me during these episodes for years, I wondered if I was in a lucid dream and attempted to test the idea by willing something into manifestation. Though with considerable effort I was capable of manifesting a mute, translucent, animated image of a barking dog, it only held as long as my concentration could and I was never able of even getting that far ever again. I have since learned that there are various levels of lucidity and one is not always granted absolute power once one awakens; despite this, I find it suspicious that despite my painful awareness during those initial experiences and my deliberate attempt, this was as far as I was able to get.

Another former objection was that while I am wide awake during these experiences, at least for a time, I wasn’t necessarily certain that I was dreaming, just that I wasn’t awake in the mundane reality, and the act of being awake within a dream while knowing that you are dreaming is, well, the working definition of lucid dreaming. I have since accepted that this just might be a semantic argument, however.

I suppose the real question becomes how one could ever hope to distinguish whether an experience is taking place on the astral plane or in a lucid dream. The only difference in definition seems to be that the astral plane is considered a parallel universe, an objective reality much like our physical world, which is to say a neighboring space composed of a different set of dimensions, and the lucid dream is merely a mind-generated environment. One could add that an additional distinguishing feature is that the astral plane is a single universe accessible to all of us in just the same way the physical universe is, and so it should be possible for two people to independently travel there, share experiences, come back to their physical bodies, document their experiences and then confirm them to one another, thereby providing evidence that such a plane actually exists. This ignores stories where people claim to share the same dream, presumably telepathically, and sometimes in tandem with one or both of them being lucid within the mutual dream in question.

One might also add the argument that the astral plane depends upon dualism in the philosophy of the mind, on the notion that our physical bodies are but one of perhaps numerous transient vessels for our consciousness, and that the living and deceased can mingle on this plane, but this would be ignoring cases of visitation dreams, when the living has a dream of the deceased which provides information that seems to validate it was actually a mutual dream between the living and dead. It would also require ignoring what Dr. Ian Stevenson, in his research into reincarnation, called departure dreams, where the recently deceased visit the living to inform them where they will be incarnating next, and arrival dreams, where the deceased visit the living members of the family into which they will be subsequently incarnating. If the living can share dreams with one another and death is truly not the end of consciousness but merely a period of transition, it is not a leap to assume that the dead and disembodied can dream, and even share dreams as well.

It seems frustratingly unsatisfactory to conclude that there are no potential means of distinguishing between astral projections and lucid dreams, that it is all a matter of interpretation, but this seems to be the case — at least to my eyes, at least so far.

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EMF Alarms As False Wake-Up Calls.

“And this is not my face. And this is not my life. And there is not a single thing here I can recognize. This is all a dream. And none of you are real.”
— “Head Down,” Nine Inch Nails.

Though I don’t remember awakening specifically, I am sure what prompted my consciousness was a noise. A kind of beeping noise that shot up in pitch and then died over and over. My ears lead the hunt through the darkness that drapes over my locale. I follow it to a room, enter, and hear it coming from a closet with an open door. It should not be open. Someone has been in here. That was my first, frightening thought. Walking towards it, I watch as the LEDs of the EMF-meter on the shelf rise in number and tone.

There is a certain feeling, a creeping terror with the thought of walking into your one-bedroom apartment, your solitary abode, or, even worse, waking up in it during the middle of the night to find that things are not as you left them, that there are clear signs of someone else’s presence while you were away. That was the sudden fear I felt as I walked slowly into the dark room, towards the open closet. I see the line of LED lights on the tiny machine high on the shelf, see one, more, all of them light up and then go down again in time with the rise and fall in pitch of the beeping. I tried to formulate some rational explanation as to how the door could be open and that thing could have been turned on when no one but me should be stepping foot into this apartment without my knowledge and consent.

Then memory is just gone.

I wake up again at some point because it was cold. Why is it so fucking cold? Suddenly I remembered I had been hot before bed and had turned the fan on the wall to the air conditioning setting. As for the former closet experience, it did not strike me until after I had actually awakened and sat down for my first cigarette. It was then that I recalled the incident and realized immediately that it had not happened in the ordinary sense. It was also here that I first recognized that it had indeed an EMF-meter in the closet, one of a design clearly hijacked from the television show, Supernatural. I have no such device, however, nor do I have the specific closet I had seen it in. In retrospect, the EMF-meter seemed to grow more active as I approached it, lighting up and squealing — was the overarching message supposed to be that I was the ghost it was detecting?

Furthermore, what is with the false awakenings lately? I think the most it frighting thing that has struck me about the most recent wave of false awakenings is that despite my degree of wakefulness I seem trapped within a set of memories specific to the setting and which are at odds with my actual experience. It’s like memories came with the reality that were consistent with it, tailor-made for it, as if I had previous experiences, a whole elaborate history in the context of that space. Outside of the false awakening but having remembered it, I have at best vague recollections of this body of knowledge, this context of memory.

If these are not memories of previous experiences in these “spaces” then they are false memories unconsciously whipped up on the spot, and that is amazing, too. This also means to me that one’s sense of memory and reality is apparently even less reliable than I had previously accepted. Indeed, if I can be so easily fooled in false awakenings, why the fuck would it be any different with respect to my more consistent “true” awakenings?

Lost in Dreams.

On March 16, as I sit down in the front seat of my car to go to work, I receive a flash from what had to have been a dream. I remember driving at night, looking anxiously at the dashboard as its lights went out.

When I awoke the following day, I recalled looking into the backpack I still carry around despite being 36 years of age and out of school, looking to see how many packs of cigarettes I had left. It turned out I had more than I had anticipated, which amounts to perhaps four packs of Marlboro Blacks. What should have been, to me, the clear giveaway: I have never bought a pack of Marlboro Blacks. Nor would I carry around my notebooks and books by hand along with the box of dried mash potato mix I have in my kitchen cabinet, though that crisp and colorful image also came into my head.

This is how my dream recall has gone as of late. Tiny glimpses. Often memories crop up when I awaken and I can write them down type them out before they fade, but just as often it is something in the midst of the day that triggers a creeping memory of a dream. Typically its just a fragment divorced from whatever narrative it was originally a part of. When these memories last for even the shortest duration, though, I still find evidence of my omnipresent mindlessness. All were moments in which there was clear suggestion that it was a dream and yet I passively accepted it, unquestionably accepted the circumstances I was in despite their clear absurdity, mindlessly allowing myself to be seized and absorbed by my own illusions. I was still just sleeping through my dreams. Sleeping a third of my life away, so they say — though perhaps not so much given the consistent periods of insomnia.

There have been a few “dream teases,” as I prefer to call them. A lot like the Ohio weather: promises of waking life and warm weather destroyed by perpetual and unreasonable periods of frosty, frigid deathlike sleep.

In early April, I found that my car’s brake line was leaking, and given that I had no money until my paycheck at the end of the week, I turned to Elizabeth and Jacky, two friends of mine at work, for rides until I could get the damn thing fixed. They were generous enough to help me, but this required getting up early on some days because their shifts did not always synchronize with my own. One one particular afternoon, April 7th, I got permission from Jacky to hide in her car until my shift started, as I had hours to kill with empty pockets in a town I loathe. In there, I wrote on my iPhone, read a little, and eventually found that I was so sleep deprived that taking a nap was even possible. At some point during my nap I half-awoke to the sound of my boss’s voice nearby the car, hiding the bowl full of weed beside me under my arm, and eventually hiding it in the crack between the passenger seat and the door. Only when I fully awoke later did I realize that the boss was not here today and there was no way I would be smoking pot in Jacky’s car. However dazed I was during the experience, what I had had was a false awakening.

It had been some time since that had happened to me. However much it was frustrating that I only realized its nature in retrospect, I found the false awakening hopeful. For the last few weeks I had been focusing on reading and watching more videos online regarding lucid dreaming; perhaps this served as a sign that I might be waking up from the zombie slumber that has overtaken my dream life and often seems to invade enough of my waking hours as well.

This zombie state is what I felt was perhaps referenced my dream on April 13th. While talking with someone I turned to find what looked like Hal from the movie 2001, though in this case his robotic eye lens was on the face of R2D2 like some cyclops droid.

“Nice mobile unit,” I said to Hal, turning back to my conversation.

The robot theme is building in what little I have been remembering the last few months of my dreams, perhaps in reference to my typical autopilot somnambulism, the lifeless, zombie daze I operate in during my daily life — and Colin Wilson’s idea of “the robot function,” which I find myself identifying with.

Between the 22nd and the 23rd I received two more dream flashes. In one, I was walking with a group of people along a sidewalk when I passed by TR, who was going the other way. He turned around to say hello, and I looked him in the face and returned the greeting. We shook hands and then parted ways. This was a guy I knew from high school and we had engaged in many circular religious debates. In another flash, there is a girl almost on top of me, as if she might be waking me up, and I think it is Sadie, a friend, lesbian and former workmate of mine, though she soon made it abundantly clear she was Sadie’s twin sister, Sally — a mistake that I have made more than once when actually bumping into them in public.

I made a similar mistake on the 24th, as I sat on the front lawn of my parent’s property during the warm, sunny day, sitting on the lush grass beneath the shade of trees. I was calmly looking at the house and noticing the tree right beside it, sitting to the right from my perspective. Long, narrow, it rose over the rooftop, perhaps over all the trees in thick forest surrounding the property — and high into the bright, blue sky. Shaking my head, I thought to myself that if this were a dream and I were lucid, I would want to fly and perch atop that area. It would be the perfect place to rest and observe, a natural throne from which I could, from a great height, observe things from over a great distance.

The lucid dreaming material I had been watching and listening to lately had suggested having a good idea of what you wanted to do once you became lucid in a dream. I knew I wanted to fly in outer space; I had decided that long ago. Now I was engaging in that line of thought a bit more, which I admit is good. What bothers me is this: not once, as I sat there thinking all of that over, did I consider that I was actually in a dream at that very moment.

I was lacking awareness. Mindfulness. Lucidity. All I had to do was to realize that I was dreaming while I was thinking about lucid dreaming. I just had to suspect it, seriously consider it for a moment and perform a reality check as all the countless things I had read and watched had suggested. I had all the material I needed, I only had to put it to use. Once awake within what I knew to be a dream I could engage in flight fueled by the belief that I could and perch up there in the sky as I had wished.

Needless to say, awakening to remember that dream scene was more than mildly frustrating.

Of Astral Planes & Entities.

The astral projections, or whatever label you wish to throw on them — they began for me in May, 1995. Before that, before I began slipping down the fault lines of corporeal reality, I had been concerned about ending up in a rubber room because I was having memories and real-time encounters with what appeared to be alien beings. With this additional strata of insanity, I did not foresee contact with a mental health professional resulting in anything less than a new, sleeveless jacket and a small, well-padded room.

I did, however, have a peculiar circle of friends who were willing to listen.

When I had explained these out of body experiences to a friend of mine during high school, he remarked that they sounded eerily reminiscent of people’s experiences when they took various kinds of psychedelic drugs. This was a comment I found intriguing. Until twenty years of age I would not so much as drink a beer or smoke a cigarette, though I was already — spontaneously and against my will, free of charge or foreign substance — having the kinds of experiences that some people paid to have delivered to them by means of inhalation, injection or ingestion. To top it all off, knowledge of this did not even make me feel privileged.

Subsequent research confirmed his allegations: not only did many psychedelic experiences bear the qualities of my OBEs, some of the most potent ones — namely Salvia Divinorum and DMT — seem to comprise all of them. I also found that the world I experienced closely corresponds to the allegedly parallel, non-physical worlds described by many out of body travelers, among them Robert Monroe and William Buhlman. They described this world, popularly referred to as the astral plane, as being “thought-responsive” or sensitive to consciousness, effectively molded by the conscious and unconscious aspects of the out-of-body traveler. Even later, I would find that my otherworldly experiences — and so the astral plane and some full-sensory psychedelic experiences — also fit the characteristics of some lucid dreams.

Whatever the experience was, then, it did not require psychosis, psychedelics or death to get there, though that is not to say that they were not effective avenues. All one really required, however, was a slumber of appropriate depth, a snooze that sufficiently inhibited our senses receptors and brought on sleep paralysis while keeping conscious awareness acute.

From this one might conclude that lucid dreams might be mistaken for trips to the astral plane or vice versa, but what it really reveals is that the two are indistinguishable. The attempt to find distinctions has proven to be futile. Meeting up with a fellow out of body explorer in a predetermined otherworldly locale could be interpreted as evidence in support of a parallel universe, for instance, but it could just as easily be presented as further suggestion of what is variously called a shared, mutual, meeting or telepathic dream. This is a dream shared between two people, presumably through the medium of telepathy. Some are allegedly even shared lucid dreams.

Some of these dreams are shared between two living individuals, but there are also reports of dreams between the living and deceased. From this we might presume they can be shared between the dead as well. This would suggest that in death we not only retain access to the physical locale, but the capacity to dream. Even the dead, then, could not determine whether the world I am evidently dealing with is a network of dreamscapes or another plane of existence. If death is a transitory state, though, and both the physical worlds and telepathic dream worlds are constants, isn’t the distinction ultimately arbitrary? There are perhaps two different kinds of real which we have access to, be us alive or dead, much as the entity in my initial experience had gone to such lengths to convince me.

Of course, that still leaves the nature of that entity open to question, and if that was the same entity that later went on to attack me for years as I continued having these experiences. Dream characters are manifestations of your own mind, but that seemed more akin to a real conversation, and the later incidents felt like real, excruciatingly painful interactions. Was this another person, and were they living or dead? Was this a dissociated aspect of my personality?

I’m not sure how I could ever know for sure.

Of Aliens & Alters.

It would not make sense to claim that alien abduction accounts are due to “screen memories” of childhood abuse, and for two reasons: first, the purpose of such a screen memory would be to dull or reduce the trauma of the actual memories being “screened,” and given the terror inherent in so many of these alien experiences it does not seem to be serving its purpose. Second, not all memories stem from childhood; many have been real-time experiences. Those with Dissociative Identity Disorder often have alters who are modeled after an abuser or perhaps the “screen” that the abuser was given. The alters may then repeat the abuse, perhaps similar to the way in which the mind is thought to deliver recurring dreams in order to exhaust an intensely emotional circumstance. Is this the answer? Are the aliens I have been seeing all my life hallucinogenic exteriorizations of alternate identities? The astral projections or lucid dreams I began having in May, 1995 — experiences that began with me being attacked by a formless, vicious entity — truly a shared dream state which I had with just such an alter? Is this a possibility I could perhaps verify or falsify myself in some way?

OBEs & the Child.

Merging
(6/3/03).

After I awoke, I was on the side of the house smoking a cigarette, wondering why I felt so exhausted and weird. Suddenly I remembered that during sleep I had fallen out of body and down into that zero-gravity void. I remembered rushing through the void, falling downward and then floating around erratically in many different directions.

Something was on me, attached to my subtle body. I felt certain that it was the entity I had encountered the last time that took the form of Ken and “Satan.” Here it was in energy form, however. It wasn’t just on me, but going through my body, merging with me. As it did so, I felt as if I was rearranging, changing in form and consciousness.

More had happened, though I was unable to recall what. The next thing I remember is waking back up in my body, aware but exhausted and unable to convince myself to write the experience down on the notebook beside my bed. I felt I needed to do it before I fell back out of body again, which I for some reason felt certain was going to happen, though I could recall nothing of it.

Resonance.
(6/24/03)

After a long night of fighting sleepiness with coffee to get some writing done, I went outside, had two cigarettes, and stared out into space. My consciousness seemed altered and I felt very strange, which led me to wonder if I might have another OBE. I went to my bedroom, wrapped myself in Afghan blankets, went to the side of the bed nearest the wall and closed my eyes.

The blackness of my mind was soothing, relaxing me as my consciousness seemed to widen. There may have been a gap in consciousness, but if so I swiftly became aware of a blackness again, but it was a different blackness: that of the exosomatic void. Now out of body, I found this energy waving through me that seemed alive. It was soothing and I tried to harmonize my energy with it, merge with it, reminding myself that if I kept control all would be fine. As I did so, I felt us align with each other, which made me feel good, peaceful, energetic, aware.

As we synchronized completely, I felt myself fade out of the void and into a dark room. I was certain I had been in this exact room during one of my more recent experiences, perhaps during my former OBE on June 3rd.

My confusion came when I realized I was breathing: this had never happened during an OBE. It took me making some involuntary noise for me to realize out loud: “Oh, wow, I can talk.” I then tried to secure anchors in the environment that would keep me here for awhile so I might explore. I used the same methods I used when anchoring my consciousness in the physical body after an OBE: I felt my face, my skin, stretched and flexed muscles, made noises, spoke. They all acted as equivalents of stretching, wiggling, and otherwise maneuvering your hand into a glove that didn’t quite fit right.

In this case it failed, however, as there was some force trying to push me out of that body in that room; to kick me out of that reality altogether. I would attach to the body’s senses, receive a fullness of clarity comparable to the fully-functioning physical body, and them this wave if energy would come and throw me back, away from that body’s senses and into the void from whence I had come. It was like the world had a gag reflex, a bouncer, an energetic wave that acted as a guardian of the threshold.

Fighting against it brought me to a blurry, indefinite environment dream-like in quality that, as with the initial room, I felt as if I had been to before. I was at a table with two people who I seemed to take for granted were my parents, though they were not my parents at all.

I suddenly was pulled back into my physical body and after regaining control I was sure to immediately write down the experience this time.

Play.
(7/1/03)

I did some reading and, once upstairs in my room, began feeling very tired. The bed seemed to call out for me to crash on it, and I dutifully complied.

I felt the out-of-body sensations in no time, and before I knew it I was forced into a gold-tan void of zero-gravity. It had a ceiling, however, which was something I had never experienced before. Having decided to enjoy my time here, I began doing swaying motions, elegant dancing, trying to enjoy the underwater-like sensations.

It was not long, however, before I came to the realization that I was not alone. I felt hands on my feet at first, which immediately got me wondering. Then whoever it was began tugging at me. I pulled away, it tugged at me harder, and then we began to have a struggle. I couldn’t see who it was, and I was getting slightly panicky.

Almost on instinct, I slipped out of the void and closer to my physical body — not re-attaching with the sensation of my body, but getting just close enough to get a general `feel’ for it. I then tried to relax and ease myself back into the void, and it worked.

Once back down there, I looked up towards the ceiling and saw that from where I had entered through my physical body there was this oblong portal, vagina-like, with it’s outer edges rung with a red-yellow fire.

I still felt the presence, knowing it was down there and it would be on me again in no time. I demanded that it show it’s face. Whatever it was, it was on me again in no time, as predicted. It started going through my other-body, and I still struggled with it, but refused to panic again. I got the impression that the entity was playful, that it was trying to engage in a game with me.

When it began going through my body again, I looked down at it and again demanded that it show me it’s face. It had taken the form of something resembling a small, thin, snake-like creature with a shark’s face. It looked up at me with it’s black eyes and it gave me this wide, frightening grin.

Around then I began getting concerned with this tightness I felt in my chest. I was certain that it came from my physical body; the feeling of elastic being pulled to the point where it’s about to snap. I was slightly worried that I might stop breathing, so I floated towards my body close enough to ensure I was still inhaling and exhaling. I certainly felt my body doing so, but it was from the perspective of a detached observer. It was then that I wondered if it was really my physical body, as I recalled how I had been breathing in the other-body in my last experience.

I was slightly afraid that the creature might possess my body while I was away or try to hitch a ride back with me so, as I often do, I said the word only I know three times in succession, which helps me focus envisioning a white ball of protective energy around me. That seemed to force me into my physical body again.

It seemed to, but did not. Instead, I found myself in what seemed to be an alternate timeline. Once realizing I was in the wrong place, I sort of faded out, returning to the void, and tried again. It was another alternate timeline.

This went on for some time, with me continually fading in and out of alternate bodies belonging to other versions of myself corresponding to these alternate realities. I knew from experience that no matter how lost I thought I was, I always ended up back home in the end, so I just tried to relax and take it as a challenge rather than freaking out about it.

I could control my fading in and fading out to a degree, but when I came too close to a body, I would slide completely in; likewise, when I was too far away from a body, I was likely to slip totally out and back into the void. I was able to maintain conscious awareness most of the time, but it did take a great deal of concentration and it kept petering in and out a bit. It was hard to maintain a continuous memory and an acute awareness in between all the rapid shifting. Sometimes I couldn’t see anything right away save for a black or brownish blur, but I knew I was out of the void because I had a sense of gravity, of my feet being on the ground, and was able to touch things. So I would just walk around and touch things, trying to ascertain what they were. Other times I would fade in or awaken within a body and experience it all as clear as waking reality and just walk around the setting.

After this happened an uncertain number of times, I found myself in a sunny park setting where I was chased by a dog that I was sure was the same entity from the void.

The only other specific setting I recall was a kitchen. There was a group of people in the kitchen preparing for dinner. There was a parallel version of my mother, my father and my uncle there as well as some unknown girl. They weren’t surprised at my presence and seemed to take it with a grain of salt, and I suddenly figured that this was because I was merely within the body of one of my alternates. To them, it might seem as if I was acting odd, but only if they really paid attention. I figured they probably wouldn’t notice I wasn’t their son (or the version of their son specific to this universe) and I probably wouldn’t remain in this body for long anyway.

At first, I tried to play it cool as usual and was very serious. Then I suddenly began thinking: why I should spend all my time trying so desperately to be careful, fearing the repercussions of acting unusual and then regretting later on that I hadn’t taken advantage of these experiences?

I decided to just let go. I went up to the dinner table and reached out for the vase that had been placed at the center of it. I turned it upside down, watching as the flowers fell out and it toppled over onto it’s side. I looked at their faces, curious about any reactions they might have. I assumed they would be angry, but they just seemed confused, and perhaps even a little amused. I suddenly realized I had been afraid all this time for nothing. I suddenly got this sense of freedom and playfulness and began hopping atop chairs, jumping around and acting altogether weird. They didn’t know what to do. They were totally unprepared for any of this.

I opened the fridge nearby the table, got out a jug of milk, grabbed a nearby fork and jabbed it into the jug. The unknown girl asked what it was that I was doing.

“I’m making a milk sprinkler,” I said. I walked around the table a bit, pointed the jabbed end of it towards her and, with a broad smile, squeezed the milk jug as hard as I could.

The parallel-uncle character was right behind me when she picked up a large bowl of something which I believe was ice cream. She signaled me to duck below the table as she threw it at parallel-uncle, and I dropped to the ground. I then faded out.

The place I faded to next was an outside setting. I knew I was close to home, and I was approaching a house wherein I, for some reason, believed my body was lying asleep. Someone was walking along side of me, talking with me, but I cannot remember who: to them, I merely explained that I needed to go back into my body and wake up.

As I was turning the corner I saw an area of the yard squared off by a chain link fence, like some might put their dog in.

Inside, however, I didn’t see a dog. I saw a small boy. He was in a red and orange polyester jumpsuit and had his back turned to me. I crouched down to take a look at him, and he turned around slowly and looked me dead in the eyes.

He looked just like the apparently telepathic Cheshire kid I had seen in the fast food restaurant where I work on December 15, 2001. Here his eyes were deep set and cast with shadows, and when the light caught them they were revealed to be wide, frightening, and very un-human-like. The sight of those eyes gave rise to a fear in me, and that’s what finally set me back to my body.

I faded into physicality completely and instantaneously, with much more speed and ease than usual, and then sat up in bed with a shock. I assured myself that this time I was really home. I quickly grabbed a nearby sketchbook and wrote down everything I could possibly remember.

Eclipsing the Vessel.

Whereas derealization is simply dissociation from the world you perceive to be around you, it turns out that depersonalization is a rather loaded word. This is is dissociation from one’s “self,” with the issue being all that evidently falls under that category. As far as I have been able to discern, depersonalization is when you experience partial or total dissociation of the body, of cognition, emotion, behavior, memory and/or identity.

Dissociation of consciousness from specific parts of your body can lead to distortions or loss of body perception. It may seem as if parts of your body are becoming different sizes and shapes, for instance, as in my aforementioned experience of watching my eyes grow in the mirror when I was young. Conversely, it may leave a part of your body numb or even void of sensation altogether. You may even have the sense that its under someone else’s control if you are host to an alter. Consider dissociation of the hand. Ouija board experiences, automatic writing and automatic artwork could perhaps have some light shed on them here.

Right after the flashbacks my artwork, my writing, and even my handwriting itself changed dramatically. I let myself drift into this trance where I felt as if I sort if shared power with some other part of myself, where we worked together in a collaborative project. Sometimes the power would shift in my direction, sometimes towards the other part, but we both played a role.

The process of my writing was one of high-speed, coffee-fueled, uninhibited stream if consciousness. I would put my fingers to the keyboard and literally wrote whatever came to mind, as fast as I could. My fingers could hardly keep up with my rush of thoughts.

Essentially the same was the case with my artwork. I would simply begin drawing and the result would feel as if it were a collective effort between my conscious self and some other part of me of which I was only vaguely aware. They were highly detailed drawings done with a Bic pen and pastel works, both often depicting strange creatures with surreal faces. Hidden in the drawings were other images such as faces, but often things of a blatantly sexual nature as well.

I had gone into the art room when no one was there one day, as I essentially lived out of that room, and got a huge sheet of paper and drew a huge, detailed, grotesque face which I hung in the back of the room. Several periods later when I came into art class, the art teacher, Mrs. Lila, pulled me aside and told me that I should probably take it down, as several students had complained about something in the drawing that I hadn’t even known I had drawn. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten if it was a huge vagina or massive penis, but in either case the embarrassment and my prompt disposal of the picture would have been equally, unbearably profound.

Aside from sexual themes, the theme in many of these collaborative works was often that of duality: two people, faces melting in or out of one another, a creature with a homunculus in the head or the mouth. Sometimes there was a third eye in the Ajna location between and above the eyebrows, too.

Sometimes a creature would extend an arm in front of itself and look at it with amazement, confusion and curiosity, as if they are uncertain as to who or what they are. I have drawn this several times, realizing so only long afterward.

Aside from varying degrees of dissociation from specific body parts, there may also be a fixed sense of not being in the right body, of which I am also guilty. I had never met anyone who felt uncomfortable in their own skin in this all-too-literal way until a met a specific girl at work this year.

While she felt less like a lesbian and more like a man in a woman’s body, I feel only that I don’t fit right in my body. There is no difference sexually or persuasively in my case, save perhaps for the fact that at the deepest, most innermost core I feel like a sexless something stuck with the controlling impulse of the heterosexual man.

My “soul-wedgie” was from not fitting in this form; thats how it felt, like uncomfortable cloths. I cannot say for certain what I would fit as, however. She said that her aunt felt exactly how I described feeling, which made me even more intrigued. I was not the only one. There were at least three of us.

In addition to the degrees of bodily association described above there is the extreme end of bodily dissociation. Here you dissociate from your body as a whole, experiencing out of body sensations. This, it would seem, is evidently more my style.

Rather than merely extreme depersonalization, in my case it was also extreme DR. I did not just vacate my physical body, it seemed evident to me at the time, but the physical reality I experienced through that empty shell. What I instead found myself in we’re what appeared to be alternate realities. Some were near-duplicates of familiar environments, most often my bedroom, and then environments that constituted varying degrees of abstraction from those familiar environments. Dimensions would be wrong, there would be duplicates of objects, objects missing or added, furniture moved and colors different: that sort of thing.

Even in the beginning I worried that someone else might be trying, even accomplishing getting behind the wheel of the body while I was thrown into some alternate reality. I thought I was being possessed by some vile spirit.

Perhaps that “spirit” was a buried part of me. And those alternate realities were backdrops to false memories, home to an alternate identity.

UFOs and OBEs.

After speaking with my mother on the early morning of September 29, 2001, I learned that she was taking one of our horses to the vet due to its peculiar swollen eye and later, in the evening, her and my two sisters were going to see Sylvia Brown. Just as she was about to leave around ten, I finally went up to my bedroom and crashed.
 
As I rested on my bed, the familiar paralysis crept up on me, the volume knob on my senses seemed to turn down to zero, and I felt my subtle body drifting from the confines of my skin and sinking down into the otherworldly black void. Struggling to reattach to my body, I focused on a “whirring” noise I could hear as if from underwater, using it as the auditory equivalent as a rope by means of which I could pull myself back together, quite literally as it seemed. Once I met with success, I lifted my head, looked around, listened and discovered that the whirring had been coming from my computer, which I had left on in the midst of writing an article. I then went to sleep. 
 
Around quarter to eight that evening is when I next awoke. I found that my computer was reading an error on the screen and my keyboard wasn’t responding. I rebooted it but had to unplug the keyboard and plug it back in to get it working again. 
 
Heading downstairs, the quiet house suggested my mother and sisters were still out. I found my father asleep on the sofa chair, out cold, a strange movie on television. When he woke up as I came down the steps, I asked him if for any reason him or my mother had come in my room and fiddled with my computer as I was sleeping. It was a dumb question, and it didn’t surprise me when he told me they had not. The electricity had clearly not gone off, either.
 
Pouring myself a mug of coffee, I then put on my shoes in the mud room to go outside for a cigarette. As I began to open the front door of the house, I saw the red globe of light shimmering as it hovered just slightly above the front lawn and began to silently rise. Shaking myself free of shock, I aggressively yelled for my father, urging him to book it the short distance to the door. 
 
The globe rose, crossed the driveway onto the other side of the yard and then ascended above the power lines and trees to the far right side of the property close to the horse barn. As my father arrived at the door frame, it had dimmed and was ducking behind some trees before it seemed to shrink or move out into the distance, glow turning an opaque milky red that then dissipated until it was entirely gone. He seemed perplexed by it, at first wondering aloud if it had been a flare, then asking if I wanted to check it out. 
 
We hopped in his truck and drove to a nearby dirt road where it seemed to have been headed, but I was not even looking towards the sky. I knew it was gone. Soon we turned back around, and on the way back he tells me how strange it was that I had stepped out the front door at just the right moment to see it. He adds that it reminded him of the fireball my mother had talked about seeing in the sky while she was on the highway a few years back. 
 
My mind was elsewhere. The important part of the red light sighting for me was that it established a connection I had for long suspected but had never had any real reason to believe: that the alien stuff was somehow related to the OBE stuff. 
 
The creatures have been seen traveling up and down a steady beam of light and often use it to retrieve and return abductees as well. In other cases these beams are felt or implied yet remain entirely invisible and yet seem capable of doing the same thing. There are also cases in which these directed energy beams seem to have either the immediate or delayed effect of producing out of body sensations or full-blown experiences.
 
In his book Journeys Out of the Body, Monroe writes about the experience that seemed to constitute the dawn of his out-of-body experiences, which took place in the Spring of 1958:
 
“… it was a Sunday afternoon and the family had gone to church. I lay down on the couch in the living room for a short nap while the house was quiet. I had just become prone (head to the north, if that had any meaning), when a beam or ray seemed to come out of the sky to the north at about a 30° angle from the horizon. It was like being struck by a warm light. Only this was daylight and no beam was visible, if there truly was one. I thought it was sunlight at first, although this was impossible on the north side of the house. The effect when the beam struck my entire body was to cause it to shake violently or ‘vibrate.’ I was utterly powerless to move. It was as if I were being held in a vise. Shocked and frightened, I forced myself to move. It was like pushing against invisible bonds. As I slowly sat upright on the couch, the shaking and vibration slowly faded away and I was able to move freely. I stood up and walked around. There had been no loss of consciousness that I was aware of, and the clock showed that only a few seconds had elapsed since I had stretched out on the couch. I had not closed my eyes, and had seen the room and heard outdoor noises during the entire episode. I looked out the window, especially to the north, although why and what I expected to see, I don’t know. Everything looked normal and serene. I went outside for a walk to puzzle over this strange thing that had happened.”
 
This is precisely how I felt proceeding the first, intense cluster of OBEs that began in May, 1995. After the first experience, my mother called for dinner and I ate and took a long walk through our woods and the properties they bled into, and I had a state of mind crystal clear — akin to how I have heard some describe the feeling of watching a sunrise the morning after an acid trip. 
 
His experience of open-eyed paralysis is a common-enough feature in abduction accounts, though one could counter it is also a common characteristic of sleep paralysis. Regardless, Monroe’s episodes of paralysis continued, and eventually his initial fear gave way to curiosity. In time, he found himself disconnected from his physical body and capable of meandering about without the skin, and from then on he began to explore the experience far and wide. Then, some two years later, in his notes for the evening of September 9, 1960, he writes: 
 
“I was lying in a north-south position, when I suddenly felt bathed in and transfixed by a very powerful beam that seemed to come from the north, about 30° above the horizon. I was completely powerless, with no will of my own, and I felt as if I were in the presence of a very strong force — in personal contact with it. It had intelligence of a form beyond my comprehension, and it came directly (down the beam?) into my head, and seemed to be searching every memory in my mind. I was truly frightened because I was powerless to do anything about this intrusion. This intelligence force entered my head just above the forehead, and offered no calming thoughts or words. It didn’t seem to be aware of any of my feelings or emotions. It was looking impersonally, hurriedly, and definitely for something specific in my mind. After a while (perhaps only moments) it left, and I ‘reintegrated,’ arose, shaken, and went outside for some fresh air.”
 
On the sixteenth, and again on the thirtieth, he had an encounter with the light, on each occasion sounding more certain that this “intelligence” was of an extraterrestrial nature. 
 
He is not alone in being subjected to mysterious and invisible beams of energy that lead to OBES, either. As written in both his book Confirmation (page 120-121) and in The Communion Letters (page 134), edited by himself and his wife, Anne, Whitley Strieber recounts an experience of a man who had been beside his wife in bed when a strange sound came to their attention:
 
“We had heard a low humming sound. A quick glance at the clock told us it was 2:30 a.m. The humming soon changed to a deep, fast throbbing. It didn’t sound like a plane, or a truck, or a car. It got louder and stopped right over the roof of the house, directly above our bedroom. … Something invisible grabbed me by the chest and started pulling with amazing force. I felt like my soul, not my body, was being pulled up vertically towards the loud throbbing noise, and although I thought it would be futile, I screamed for Sally to lie on top of me. When she did this, the sensation of pulling eased a little.”
 
The man went on: 
 
“I was screaming and struggling against an invisible ‘beam,’ with my wife lying on top of me in my bed at 2:30 a.m. It might have seemed funny later if it hadn’t gone on for another two hours. Throughout the night the children, who slept directly across the hall from us, never woke up. ‘They’ pulled, I resisted. Sally hung on as the engine throbbed, until finally it went away. Exhausted and badly shaken, we fell asleep.”
 
On the eve of January 11, 1967, on his father’s farm in Aveyron Basses Pyrenees, France, a man was chasing a glowing orb with his car when the engine and lights died at once and a saucer descended from the sky, atop it two glasslike domes, each containing a helmeted humanoids in coveralls. After he experienced a brief state of bodily paralysis coupled with a sensation of heat, the object whistled, did some areal acrobatics, glowed white-yellow and zipped away. Power was restored to the car lights and he was able to start it back up. 
 
After about a week, he began experiencing bouts of extreme exhaustion that would plague him for roughly two months, causing him to sleep, in some instances, twenty hours out of the day. In his book Dimensions (page 163), Jacques Vallee writes that: 
 
“Something else happened to him in connection with his sleeping pattern: in the early morning hours, between 4:00 and 5:00 AM. It seemed to him that he was ‘floating off.’ His mind would be alert, although his body was paralyzed, and he would feel his consciousness leaving his body.” 
 
During the clear night of October 18, 1973, a four-man team in an Army Reserve Helicopter traveling from Columbus to Cleveland, Ohio, noticed a red light in the distance. It then sped towards them on an apparent collision course. Captain Lawrence J. Coyne, the pilot, sent the helicopter into a dive as they lost all radio contact with Mansfield Control Tower. 
 
Meanwhile, the red light continued speeding towards them. Just as collision seemed certain, the light suddenly halted, lingering just above and in front of them. It now appeared to be a gray, metallic, cigar-shaped object with a red light at its nose and a white light at its tail. A “pyramid-shaped” green spotlight-like beam radiated out from the bottom and ultimately flooded the cockpit. Seconds later, the object swiftly darted away. 
 
Aside from the four men in the copter, there were also two groups of witnesses on the ground.
 
In the wake of the encounter, the witnesses who had been on board the helicopter allegedly received some interesting phone calls. Coyne claimed that he was contacted by someone from the “Department of the Army, Surgeon General’s Office” who identified himself as an individual in the field of metaphysics, though Coyne was unable to remember his name or rank. 
 
He asked of any strange dreams since the encounter. As Jennie Zeidman shows us in her book, A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio, three days after the incident Coyne did, in fact, have an unusual dream:
 
“I was sleeping peacefully, and I got up and walked into the hallway and stopped, and I turned around and I saw myself lying in bed; I was laying on my side, sleeping. It was like looking into a mirror, you know? I dreamed that I was conscious but that my body was sleeping.  I got up — I dreamed I was getting up — and I started walking, and I turned around — and I was scared — I saw something laying in bed, and it was me [laughs uneasily] and I got so scared that I lay back down again and I said, ‘I better do this again.’ You know, am I seeing something?  Am I hallucinating? And I laid back down and then I woke up. When I lay back down it was like sinking into something.”     
 
He also reported another strange dream, roughly two days after the first, in which he heard a “very clear” and 
 
“… a very strong voice, a voice you have respect for, very sure. It said, ‘The answer is in the circle.’ And I was holding a clear sphere in my hand, a round sphere. A bluish-white sphere.”  
 
Healey, a passenger of the copter that evening, also reported strange phone calls, but in his case the source identified itself as the Pentagon. He claimed that:
 
“… as time would go by, the Pentagon would call us up and ask us, well, has this incident happened to you since the occurrence? And in two of the instances that I recall that they questioned me, was, number one, have I ever dreamed of body separation, and I have — I dreamed that I was dead in bed and that my spirit or whatever was floating, looking down at me lying dead in bed, and the only thing that upset me was I was wondering what would happen to my two boys, but other than that I had no qualms about it — and the other thing was if I had ever dreamed of anything spherical in shape. Which definitely had not occurred to me.”
 
In the six years I had been having the OBEs never had I observed an alien in the context of that otherworldly environment. Now I wondered if perhaps the OBEs might be an unintended side effect of the paralysis they subjected me to prior to an abduction. The frequencies I heard, sometimes with that AM squealing as they went up, and the corresponding sensation of a nonphysical, subtle body vibrating.
 
This side effect may be an out-of-body actuality or an internally-generated experience. I awaken after perhaps the briefest sleep into acute awareness in a blackened void of a brain. I often find myself concentrating quite comfortably, however unwaveringly, on some central point. Then all of a sudden I’m released. I’m “out.” It is a movement within and downward. First I enter a void and then, in most cases, some parallel world, so it seems to me.
 
Or perhaps this beam immobilizes my body and deprives it of sense data. Consciousness remains awake, with the unconscious compensating for the lack of sense data from data procured from memory, perhaps pulled straight from its ever-clever subliminal ass. It is basically a lucid dream you are forced into and temporarily imprisoned within. 
 
In either case, or perhaps somehow both, for the creatures it may serve as nothing more than a convenient diversion. It serves to keep me occupied as they do whatever to my body. 
 
Naturally the other possibility is that I am being tested or trained in some covert manner by means of a telepathic lucid dream scenario. Or my reactions and adaptations to this spontaneous experience are studied, perhaps. I’m just some fucking rat in a maze.

The Link.

For four years I was stalked and attacked by an entity that dragged me out of body, chased me through dreams and, I feared, was aiming to take over my body. No matter what I tried, I could not rid myself of Ee. Then, around May of 2000, I met Jay.

 
We met through Howard, a red-headed guitarist my roommate had dated, as she would be ashamed to admit not too long thereafter. Every time he came over to fuck her, basically, his departure would not commence until he had drawn out his foreplay ritual of chatting me up to agonizing extremes. Finally, he would just whip out his short question as if he had earned his way to yes. 
 
After coming to face the fourth time in a row, I stopped giving him a cigarette as payment for the pity he needed to get him to go away. I told him he could bum no more. He kept promising to pay me back, but told me he was unable to because he couldn’t buy a pack. Then he would be a smoker. But he quit, he told me. I first asked him if he was serious, and after validating that indeed he was I told him, as the police must feel when informing one of the death of a loved one, that he was a fucking idiot.
 
I was in a booth at the all-night restaurant I both worked and loitered at, I was in a booth one evening drinking hot tea, drawing on the back of a paper placemat, hoping to get over a nagging head cold made worse by insomnia. 
 
Suddenly the equivalent of a full pack of cigarettes rains all over my table, only this is a variety pack stretching the spectrum. I look up into the face of Howard, only a few teeth too many and a few pounds shy of being the spitting image of the face on the cover of all those MAD magazines. The guy had bummed from twenty people to pay back what he bummed from me. Into the face invaded by a shit-eating grin, I again emphasize to him, again calmly as conceivable, “You’re an idiot.”
 
He asks me something along the lines as to why I keep telling him that, to which I respond with asking why he keeps going to such lengths to reinforce the apparent validity of the accusation.
 
Somewhere in the midst of our usual bitter and sarcastic back-and-fourth, I note the presence of the guy he had brought along with him and introduced myself. He wore all black clothing and looked like a shy, younger, darker version of Tony Danza. Spying some of my pen artwork on the back of a paper placemat, he seemed intrigued by the eyes I had drawn. Around one, I had written “gateways,” and when he asked what I meant I told him it had always seemed to me that the eyes were the gateways to the soul. It turned out that he, too, shared the notion and apparently drew eyes rather obsessive-compulsively as well, though unlike me all the eyes he drew looked like the eyes of a woman. He had as much difficulty drawing a male’s eye as I did a woman’s. I told him he could have the picture, and he accepted it graciously.
 
His name was Jay, though a mutual, sexy-nerdy friend would later refer to him as “Go Tool” Jay. Given my immediate compliment to him on his Tool concert teeshirt and our ensuing discussion, it would not seem that she had labeled him in haste.
 
Tool’s melodies had resonated with me since I first heard their album Undertow, one of the first CDs I ever owned. It was Aenema I would play over and over, however, finding it to be the perfect background music when working my pastel or ink pieces during high school, as it seemed to resonate with my state of mind. It served as a sort of musical anchor or home base, an auditory environment I could return to, much as Led Zeppelin seems to serve for a close friend of mine I would meet later on who, like Jay, is a talented musician.
 
Jay and Howard were band mates, as a matter of fact, which initially confused me given the clear difference in character. Jay’s passion for music had pushed him to take on being a part of as many available bands as he could at once, all alongside his job at a printing factory. His ultimate plan was to be part of a band that would play a new category of music he called “Toolesque.”
 
He was a curious guy who’s inner eye looked deeply, and he kept throwing out a few particular phrases that seemed to advertise for his interests.
 
Everything is light. Eyes are the windows to the soul. Beliefs are dangerous. Is seeing believing, he would ask someone, or is believing seeing? 
 
They soon had to leave, and my hopes were that I would see the guy again. He had a comfortable vibe and there seemed to be some unspoken bond between us, and it was of an unusual strength for just having met the guy.

 

At a party Sandra was throwing at the apartment perhaps a week later, I was talking to someone in my room when, looking out my doorway and into the kitchen, I saw a guy pulling a beer out of the fridge. It was Jay. It turns put Sandra and other friends of mine knew him; given that, it was interesting that our paths had not crossed earlier. I showed him some of my pastel works.

 
Shortly thereafter, a group of us had gotten into a discussion regarding the speed of light, time travel, parallel universes and the Big Bang. As the conversation went on, Jay would play songs from Tool’s Aenema album over and over.
 
Slowly people tapped out, fell asleep or left for home until it was just Jay and I, sitting in the living room on the van seats a considerably drunken member of a party a month or so ago had brought into the apartment from who-knew-where. We watched as cigarette smoke slithered in slow motion in the rays of light shining through the window of the apartment. Jay took swigs of his beer as I sipped my coffee, and we continued our talk. What Jay and I discussed as the party died around us that night was our similar perspectives on what one might call “spiritual” matters — and the similarity in our personal experiences in that area.
 
I confessed my apparently alien experiences with him, the telepathic experiences and synchronicity, as well as my out-of-body experiences. He was open-minded. And with respect to some of my experiences, he understood on a personal level as well.
 
Often it has been said that the loss or reduction of one sense modality increases the range of intensity of another, and one could say that Jay suffered from two deficiencies. Firstly, he was color blind, only capable of seeing in black and white. This, he said, accounted for his strictly black-and-white wardrobe and his appreciation for my artwork, in which I used either ink or chalk pastels of extreme light and dark colors, which his eyes could clearly perceive.
 
Secondly, there were what for him acted as frustrating and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in articulating himself through verbal expression in a way that seemed to deliver the most minimal form of personal satisfaction. This I noted early on in our conversations, and part of the reason he came to trust me is that he could tell that I understood him and his strange experiences despite his difficulties in describing them due to my own similar experiences. We shared a fundamental similarity — or, as Jay described it, we came from the same place, as did the members of Tool.
 
Like me, Jay was an artist, though his sole medium, his singular creative investment, was in music. Throughout his childhood his mother went through boyfriends like a hot knife through butter, but it was one man he remembered in particular. He was a musician, and while either playing or listening to music in Jay’s presence at one point he suddenly took note of Jay’s foot, tapping in time, which prompted the guy to exclaim, “This kid’s got rhythm.” Jay then learned to play the saxophone, going on later to master other instruments. 
 
Perhaps due to his color-blindness, his auditory sense was heightened, and given this, coupled with his simultaneous sense of limitation through verbal language, music became his natural gravitation for personal expression.  The missing element here, however, is the other strange characteristics of his brain.
 
Through discussion with others, he learned that music was very different for him. Whereas most focused on a single instrument in a song with the rest of the instruments taking on the role of a blurred peripheral or background, he could hear all instruments independently, equally, and simultaneously. This appealed to me, as it echoed my value in diversity as opposed to the typical cultural values placed in unity. It represented a system of interrelationships in which group dynamics served to nurture individuality rather than condemn it to the grave in favor of a dominant group mentality. It seemed to recognize and emulate the role diversity plays in evolution, revealing its value to the evolutionary process in areas other than the genetic. 
 
It also implied that more than one train of thought was going on in Jay’s mind at once, which is precisely how my own mind seemed to work. As a psychologist described my brain to me once, it seems as if my brain is a radio picking up multiple frequencies simultaneously. Aside from a characteristic of reception, it was also the way my subjective processes seemed to operate. In the very least with respect to music, the same appeared to be the case with Jay, only rather than hopping between different simultaneous channels, he could juggle them all at once.
 
When it came to the “electronic symphonies” of the progressive band, Tool, the structure of their music almost seemed designed for his type of mind — the music at once spoke to him and opened up a window for him to more accurately express his own means of experiencing the world. Tool to him represented not so much a band that functioned as a singular voice but as a network of individuals who complimented one another in creative and unpredictable fashions, deviating from one another through mastery of polyrhythms and meeting up at various rendezvous points throughout the course of the song. Rather than the typical four-chord rope, tightly bound together in predictable pattern, Tool was more akin to a tapestry in which the thread of each instrument wove in and out in its own unique fashion, each more than just a part of the whole, which itself was more than the mere sum of its parts. 
 
If the brains or minds of Jay and I were similar in their multiple-channel bombardments, corresponding simultaneous parallel tracks of thought and consequential multilevel means of personal expression, it would follow that our brain-radios or “braindios” might have the tendency to slip to frequencies on the dial that stretch beyond the range of those for which the biological form is suited, and so are instead experienced subjectively, or perhaps exosomatically. Indeed, since as far back as he can recall, and it would seem to be a considerable distance, he has had strange out-of-body experiences. Like me, however, he did not roam about in disembodied form on the physical landscape, but in what appeared to be another reality, a realm of real-time experiences, visions, and memories experienced almost as if a subjective form of time-travel.
 
To put it in a way, he was far more highly sensitive than the average person to “technologies” traditionally utilized as a means of accessing altered states of consciousness. Sometimes he would be smoking pot or be on some other drug when it would happen. On some occasions, it would happen when he was asleep. In at least one instance he described to me, music was the culprit. 
 
He was playing on the piano at the house of his friend and neighbor as his friend’s sister watched him. Jay got caught up in the music, lost in it, and upon hitting a chord suddenly and inexplicably froze, as if in suspended animation. The sister was horrified. From his perspective, he had vacated this reality. 
 
As was the case in my own out of body experiences, the direction of his corporeal exit was always experienced as “down and in” as opposed to the traditional “up and out” means of exit reported by others in OBE literature. In both our cases, there was often the sensation in the out-of-body form of being in zero-gravity or swimming through water. 
 
One of the real-time, otherworldly experiences of his he explained, if I remember correctly, as a dream that was more than a dream. There was a group of entities he called The Village for whom he evidently had a duty and purpose: he was to move this shapeless mass of unimaginable size from “point-A” to “point-B.” Every time he had this experience, which was roughly once a year, he would get so far only to lose control of the Mass, at which time The Village seemed awash with disappointment, he would feel frustrated and then wake up. Around the age of eleven, he said, he thought he had finally accomplished moving the Mass to its intended destination, after which that set of experiences stopped. 
 
What I find best to label visions are otherworldly experiences he has had in which he took on the “third person perspective” or uninvolved spectator role. He turned over a paper placemat and drew for me a particularly interesting vision he had had. 
 
He drew a block divided into four cells in four rows, the walls and floors that distinguished them embroidered, at their side-view, with stylistic cat-scratch characters that give off the impression of Chinese. Each row was accessible by stairways that traveled the full length of the four cells on each level, connecting each row in a zigzag pattern from the side-view. Only in the first cell of the first row and the second cell of the fourth did he depict prisoners, and both were sitting against the far wall, behind bars, knees nearly to their neck in their otherwise empty cells, and the one in the fourth row, at least, had his head in his hands. 
 
Though not an element of the original vision, after his sketch and as we spoke about it he scribbled words around the border which read: “Locked from man, isolation for eternity, far from all — so I fail an endeavor of the stolen soul of mine.”
 
After some discussion of the vision, I asked Jay to go over a memory “re-experience” he had told me about before. Arguably Jay’s earliest memory, it began with him on his knees, hands tied behind his back, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. His head was then placed onto the guillotine and soon enough, the blade fell. Despite that, he goes on to explain how it all looked from the perspective of his rolling head. 
 
This memory struck me as interesting for several reasons, such as how it resonated with other themes regarding the head in both his experiences as well as my own. 
 
On our way to our booth at the all-night restaurant one morning to talk he had felt, no doubt partially due to sleep deprivation, that his subtle body (to use my own words) was connected to his head as he physically walked, but the rest of his subtle body was flowing behind his head horizontally. 
 
This led us into discussion of his beliefs regarding the eyes. Without knowing the name or source of the idea to my knowledge, in his own words Jay revealed that he prescribed to the extramission theory of sight from Aristotelean physics — the belief that sight worked by means of “eye beams” shooting out of our fleshy sockets and picking up objects in the external environment.  
 
There was also his constant emphasis on light in his ceaseless pronouncements that “everything is light,” which in turn associated to his emphasis on eyes — all three of them. Like me, he had his fixation on the notion of the “third eye” located in the center of the head. 
 
He didn’t seem to see the connection offered by his past life memory, however. After all, in his experience of decapitation, why did the evidently “resident” consciousness remain in the head once it was severed and rolling as opposed to the body — or rather than being bound both to the gourd and headless flesh-vessel at once in a state of dual consciousness? For that matter, why not just vacate both at the moment the blade fell? 
 
As in many of my own out-of-body experiences, it suggests to me the subtle body may “hook up” to the physical body by means of the brain, specifically through use of the pineal gland in a lock-and-key kind of fashion.
 
Watching him go over the memory of the guillotine in the diner that morning, his frustration at being incapable of remembering more was visibly evident. I asked him to relax, close his eyes, and simply try to mentally submerge himself in the scene. With my pen in hand, I asked him to describe any details that came to mind. 
 
His frustration erupted a few times, but then he suddenly got excited.  A girl, he told me. He had seen a girl. She was in front of the crowd of people, a look of shock on her face, her hand held to her mouth. She had a white top on and flowing brown hair that hung to the bottom of her rib cage. Focusing on her blue-green eyes, he felt a sense of love from her. I asked him if he got sense of a name, but he did not. I asked him if she reminded him of anyone he knew now.”No,” he told me. “She’s got eyes that I’d know if I’d seen them.”
 
He came dressed in white one day while I was doing the dishes and announced to me that he had met her. I was confused, and he told me it was the girl from the memory. I had somehow seemed to earn a deeper trust with him. He told me that there was someone I needed to meet, and that we would talk about it soon.
 
A few days went by before I saw Jay again. He was waiting for me at a booth in the dining room when my shift ended. He had just gotten off shift at the print factory, where he work four-day ten-hour shifts followed by three days off. He explained what he did at his job and expressed shame and frustration that it was, as he put it, a “non-thinking” job. There was no room for individuality or creative application. It would seem we shared similar distaste for the culture we shared alongside everything else.
 
Quickly he shifted to more unusual or interesting topics, however. He referenced the book About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution by Paul Davies. For Jay, it brought him to invest in the possibility that there are no ends or beginnings. 
 
Then he explained how he had read a book regarding experiments in which spiders were given various drugs. The webs subsequently woven were far from normal and the style of the webs differed in accordance with the drug. Most fascinating to Jay was the web constructed under the influence of LSD, which he took to be the same drug described in the liner notes of Tool. I broke it to him that it was actually describing the drug Ketamine, otherwise known as K. It was also the eleventh letter in the alphabet, and so likely had something to do with his apparent synchronicities with that number due to an event that occurred at that age as suggested in the song, Jimmy. It much much like my synchronicities with the number 23, only that number failed to point my way to a particular substance. 
 
The following evening, Howard and Jay met me at the all-night restaurant just as my shift was ending and we all went to a nearby strip club. As the music played and the meat show commenced, Jay and I got drawn into conversation. 
 
When I asked him, he maintained that, like me, he was an atheist. For Jay, there was no need for a god, as there was no ultimate creation to speak of, nor coming cosmic catastrophe. Instead, we lived in a multiverse without beginning or end, having no need for an ultimate designer or destroyer. To this I added that rather than god existing as some puppet-master pulling cosmic strings on his merry way to some master plan, we were instead all co-creators in an ever-evolving, inherently impersonal universe. 
 
This clashed with Howard, his band-mate beside us, who was no stranger to my arguments for atheism and proceeded to speak of his profound sense of “evil” while on acid at a Korn concert once and how it rekindled his faith in a particular god. I told him there was no good or evil and that ethics arises naturally through the interplay of empathy and reason. He said he would pray for me.
 
Once earning some distance from Howard, Jay began explaining something to me which he had cryptically alluded to before and called “the link.” For the longest time he had kept all his strange experiences locked up inside himself, afraid to tell anyone, certain that even if he tried to explain it all they would be unwilling to take the effort to understand. When he was over at his friend’s house next door one day, he finally broke down and let all of it spill. Both started crying and he seemed to understand one another. As they began communicating about it more, bonding through it, both felt as if it were their purpose to gain authentic spiritual knowledge and find others like themselves. They are like the first two links on a chain, he told me, and Jay suspected that I was the third. He wanted to stop by the apartment that evening and have me meet him.
 
It seemed too good to be true. For once in my life, I did not feel so alone. In addition, this brother of the weird spoke of another, and of his cautious drive to round up more like minds to build a community. His interests and focus were revealed not just in what he had thus far conveyed to me directly, but on another level as well.
 
This is where we return to our mutual attraction to the band Tool, specifically his constant echoing of the Aenema album liner notes, which pronounced, as a synopsis of the reality-tunnel notions of the ever-interesting Robert Anton Wilson, “Beliefs are dangerous. Believe in nothing.” 
 
To this, lead singer Maynard James Keenan once added in an interview, “Explore everything,” and given the additional mention of “ritual magik” and drugs this would appear to suggest more specifically the exploration of beliefs as tools through experimentation in the deliberately-eclectic style of Chaos Magick. This “art and science,” as Crowley put it, involves the temporary adoption of any available belief system that serves as a theoretical means of accomplishing a desired psychological or parapsychologically-mediated change, after which, regardless of how successful, you adopt a differing belief system — conceptually nomadic determination presides over all, as no belief system is complete and some, however elaborate, are a cold distance from any experimentally-falsifiable status, and so serve as nothing but a prison for the mind.
 
A growing toolbox of belief systems, of parallel tracks of thought at our mind’s side that also satisfy “perspectivism,” giving us as many eyes as the mythic Argus. This multiple-track, multichannel methodology resonates with both the music of Tool and the psychological inner-workings of both Jay and myself: the mutual gravitation to the music and to one another was therefore understandable, predictable, and perhaps on some level intentional. 
 
Like me, Jay sought after what could be described as a “spiritual” or perhaps paranormal science and technology. The science needed was a methodology, a measurable pathway of increasingly greater understanding through which “authentic spiritual knowledge,” as he put it, could be gleaned and applied. The technology we sought after were tools by which this knowledge could be pursued and through which this methodology might be executed. 
 
So I was eagerly in wait that evening when I heard the knock at the door. Opening it, I found Jay and a tall, razor-eyed stranger behind him. Jay introduced his friend, we shook hands. My initial impression of him, even before he spoke, was of an arrogant man bearing a phony persona. He had the characteristic vibe of such people, by which I mean he seemed to be leaching energy off me, perhaps whoever he was near. People that have this kind of energy always leave me feeling drained, irritable and violated in their ice-cold kind of presence. Out of respect for Jay, I tried my damnedest to play nice and not prejudge. I wanted to stay open-minded.
 
Jay had me show him a bit of my artwork, and then we all sat down to talk. Jay sat in the chair, his friend on the couch with me sitting just in front of him, on the van seat. He then explained that Jay had brought him to realize his capacity to see into people, by which I  assumed he meant to suggest a solely receptive form of telepathy. This he experienced as a tunnel to the sides of which he caught visuals and impressions, thoughts and emotions. Naturally, I asked him if he could read me, to which he responded that indeed he could — through both my eyes and my artwork. 
 
As we held prolonged eye contact I felt a familiar sense of stretching in my eyes, a cold sort of psychological nakedness. He told me that I was engulfed in fears. I had a very intense, complex mind. An open mind, but a suspicious mind. I didn’t tend to believe in something unless I had experienced it for myself. There is a girl I love, he told me, though there is some uncertainty about it. All in all, he more or less described how I perceived myself and my circumstances with my ex-girlfriend, Claire, but perhaps he drew sufficient information through the medium of Jay and my artwork. 
 
At any rate, as the guy and I fell into discussion, Jay just sort of sat back and observed, seeming quite happy regarding our back-and-fourth. Occasionally he would feed the conversation with questions or bringing certain details into amplification for deeper analysis. Jay’s friend seemed like the type to romanticize and take it all as a game in which he was putting on an act, made all the worse due to the fact that he was simply a really bad actor. At times he seemed to be trying to sound like some guru, fancying himself some young, sleek incarnate of Obi Wan and making everything seem cheesy, fluffy and lame in the process. On other occasions, he almost approached the realm of sincerity and rationality.
 
He told me how Jay and him sought after authentic spiritual knowledge. They were like the first two links on a chain and they suspected I was the third. It is as if Jay an himself had been through grades one and five, and I have traveled from grade six on towards graduation. I needed to back-track and they needed to catch up so we can go forward together, rounding up “others of our kind,” as he put it.
 
The meeting with Jay’s friend left me feeling frustrated. Despite the nagging sense that he had saw into me with his eyes, nothing he said required telepathy to piece together. My discomfort around him was as intense as the brotherly feelings I felt towards Jay.
 
A night or two later Jay found me at the crowded diner, asking if I wanted to go with him over to the house of Obi Wannabe, as there was something he wanted to show me. My curiosity compelled me to query, but he treated it as some big secret and only urged me to come along. As I agreed and we all got up to leave, Obi spoke up. “The link is strong tonight,” he said, and I tried to conceal my irritation and hold still the eyes that itched to roll in response. 
 
It’s dark when we get there, and upon stepping into the living room I find an attractive, black-haired girl curled up on the sofa. This, it turns out, was sister to the telepathic bad actor, and I sat beside her on the couch, smoking cigarettes and sipping from by bottle of Pepsi as Jay and his friend were doing something in the kitchen. She was a much-needed distraction, as my curiosity had by this time metastasized into full-blown paranoia that was getting increasingly difficult to conceal. Given that she was hot and kind and I was alone with her, however, my anxiety drove me to the kitchen, where Obi proceeded to make me some strong coffee as he helped Jay look for something. A toolbox belonging to his mother, who was a nurse. 
 
Leaving the kitchen to await the uber-java, I sat back down on the couch, and Obi was all too quick to follow. Strong link or not, something weird was in the works, and it made me feel uneasy. As Obi talks, Jay comes into the room, sits on a chair right in front of the television, picks up the controller and proceeds to play a video game. I try to pretend I’m focused on the game, but he is not swayed, and when I’m cornered into conversation with him and try to bring his sister into the conversation, her and her brother get in a brief verbal argument after which she leaves for her room upstairs. 
 
She’s doing what she always does, Obi tells me, and smoking too much pot. 
 
Looking back at Joe playing the game, I could no longer ignore the worry he seemed to be feeling and trying desperately to ignore. Then I noticed something that increased my worry. I told Jay he had red splotches all over his skin, and he just looks, laughs and shrugs it off. It’s okay, he tells me; he gets hives sometimes.
 
Obi turns to look at Jay and asks, “How are you feeling, Jay?”
 
“Riddalized,” he answers. It clicks and I look at captain fake beside me, who had just damned his sister for copious weed burning when he had provided for his neighbor and friend a fucking overdose on prescription medication.
 
He told me that rather than Riddalin, he had instead downed six of the 20-milligram pills of Aderol they had lifted from Obi Mom’s toolbox-turned-medical-box. It helped him go down into that other place, he said. I ask if he has done this before, to which he responds with stuttering half-sentences, which of course tells me all I need to know. 
 
Calling the hospital at this point would have been a mature response, yes. Claire had nearly overdosed a month or so ago, as had my friend, Terra. It may give him access to the other world, then, but it may be a one-way ticket, I thought to myself.
 
“Okay,” Jay said, standing up and walking to the couch in the dark half of the room. “I’m starting to feel it.”
 
As I sat beside Jay, Obi lit candles and then got an afghan blanket when Jay remarked he felt cold. From beside me, Jay tapped me on the shoulder, saying desperately, “Talk.” I asked him what he was feeling, telling him to spill whatever he was experiencing. As he struggled to describe a cylinder of strange dimensions, I noticed even the atmosphere around him felt different. 
 
Asking for something to write with an on, I was handed a pen and hard-bound black book by Obi, which I in turn handed to Jay in case that medium of expression felt more adequate to him. He began trying to draw what he was experiencing, as dedicated as he was frustrated in the attempts.
 
Then he asked me to give him a question. Obi then explained that Jay needed a question to focus himself when he went down into that other place. Without a moment’s notice the question arose and swelled into my mind, and no other question intervened. When Jay again pleaded for a question,  it just rolled out of my mouth:
 
“What’s been stalking and attacking me? What is it that’s hiding in my Shadow?”
 
Then he relaxed, took a deep breath and closed his eyes. A moment later, he held out his hand to me. “Put your hand above mine.” I let my palm hover a few inches above his own, feeling this electric sort of cold emanating. He asked, “Do you feel that?” I confirmed that I did indeed.
 
Suddenly, he grabbed my hovering hand. He grabbed it tightly and wouldn’t let go. I felt our resonance shifting, as if he were drawing something from me and into himself. Abruptly he let his grip go and seemed to sink deeper into trance. Soon, he seemed to burst into wakefulness, becoming very animated but entirely mute as he frantically pointed to something in the dark room behind the television. Looking, I saw nothing, and looked back at him.
 
As I remember him describing it to me later, it was as if a chain of paper dolls stretched out before him in the distance. Then one half of the silhouettes walked into one another as if one half was a reflection for the other and so they appeared to merge and them vanish as they walked behind the mirror. When the last two united as one, there was a flash that shot right at him. This seemed to correspond to the small, ghostly-white, vaporous form I saw shoot like a phantom bullet into his eyes from the area where he had been frantically pointing. As it entered his eyes, Jay’s hand rushed to his forehead, and it was either his gasp suddenly cut short or the sound of the object speeding into his head that I heard like a zooming sound in my ears. 
 
The expression on his face changed immediately. Looking over to Obi Wan, who appeared considerably panic-stricken, I asked him if he had seen it. Before he could answer, Jay diverted my attention from him. I never did learn if he saw it as well. 
 
Jay was staring at his hand with a horrified look on his face, as if it were some foreign object. He turned to me, trying desperately to tell me something, pleading for help as if he were drowning, but all as he remained mute, apparently incapable of uttering a sound, let alone recognizable words. 
 
Then it was as if mental channels abruptly switched. On Jay’s face was a look of absolute anger, endless hatred, and it was directed towards me. He scowled and showed his teeth like an animal. His hand would raise and reach out as if to strangle me, but before long Jay returned to some degree, wrestling with the hand that seemed to be operating beyond his control. His face appeared to covey a cocktail of fear, apology, as if to let me know that it was not just him in his body anymore and he couldn’t control this thing that wanted to hurt me. It was as if I were watching him and Ee wrestle for ultimate control over the body both were now imprisoned within.
 
When he eventually regained control and could speak again, it became clear to me that he was having difficulty remembering all that had happened. It seemed as if he were slipping in and out of a dream and at least two distinct memory banks. Once Obi had us move upstairs into his attic bedroom so that his parents wouldn’t know that we were here — not to mention conducting an ill-conceived, pharmaceutical-fueled shamanic ritual — I placed the book in front of Jay, who after a moment asked if he had drawn them, which I calmly confirmed. Staring directly at the bulb that lit up the dark room, he explained in amazement his lack of sensitivity to the light and how he could see the bulbs filaments in such detail. In the light he looked aged somehow, old far beyond his body’s years. As he had earlier, he asked me to hold out my hand, and as I did so he let his own levitate above mine. He asked me if I could feel it. I could feel a lingering electric chill. He told me it felt as if he had another hand super-imposed over his physical one, but this one made of some sort of energy.
 
That was what it often felt like to me throughout my entire body, I told him, and this double or aura seemed to be the same energy body we find ourselves in when we go down into that other world. 
 
When Obi came upstairs, he had transformed into a total asshole. He clearly wanted us to leave, irritated that Jay’s state made that a dangerous idea for the moment. Eventually he left us up there to hide and despite Jay’s desire to talk, I felt overwhelmingly tired. Apologizing, I then crawled on the floor, curled into a ball and, amazingly, fell into sleep.
 
It would be a sleep saturated with dreams I know were bizarre but which I was unable to recall. All I remembered was my name being shouted and something strange going on above my head. Later I awoke to the sound of Obi Whiney frantically explaining that he was late for work and we needed to leave before his parent’s discovered we were here. As Joe drove me back to my car at the restaurant, he was particularly animate, especially for a guy operating on zero sleep. While I was sleeping, he had remained awake, playing with his other hands. He found he was able to control them. Then, as I was lying asleep on the floor by his feet, he watched as a vortex rippled out of my head and a small, brown, fuzzy creature emerge. Reaching down with his other-hands, he had pulled the creature out of me. After he pulled it out, he said he doesn’t know what happened. He never saw its face. I asked him if he remembered me asking him what was in my Shadow. He hadn’t.
 
After dropping me off at the apartment that day, I was exhausted and, for some reason, elected to crash on the couch rather than my bed. Asleep in no time, I then burst into mental acuteness as my body remains in paralysis. I feel myself descend into the almost fluid void, which for the first time was a tan-gold color rather than the typical, endless sea of black. As I float freely, I am surprised to find comfort. For the first time I could recall, I was down here alone, free from the attacks of Ee.
 
Jay and I crossed paths once or twice more, but there was no more of his visits after that night. He had gotten a new job as a door-to-door salesman, reaching out for something more closely approximating a “thinking job.” He was distancing himself from his explorations, however, as his new girlfriend thought it dangerous. This was the girl he believed had watched his beheading in a former life and from whom he had sensed such undying love. This was the girl, perhaps, who’s female eyes he had always compulsively drawn. 
 
Jay had helped me defeat my Shadow, perhaps, and through me he had happened upon his own Anima.

Of Dreams and Alternate Realities.

What I lacked was conscious understanding, any semblance of a context, mental map or model of the out-of-body experience. 
 
There is, however, a relevant childhood encounter I had with my “teacher,” for whom I later would adopt the name Nimi. Though I must have remembered the encounter by the hypnosis session of April 27, 1995, it was not until some time afterward that I would begin to catch hints of the significance inherent in what she was conveying to me.
 
I confessed to her that I had always felt as if I had a foot, and perhaps half of me, in another world. As I told her this, I imagined my body wedged between a paper-thin membrane separating two worlds. In essence, I was, albeit involuntarily, painting a mental picture for her to go along with my telepathic voice-over just as she so often did with me. 
 
She responded with a soft, “in a way, that is true,” which made me immediately suspicious. I feared from her mental tone that perhaps it was just an adult’s way of humoring a child. It was not, as she did what adults never proceeded to do after casting out those words: she actually explained to me just in what way that was true.
 
With her inner voice, she told me that there were what she called “planes of existence” and that some people can function on these other planes better than others. Atop her telepathic voice I received the subjective image of perhaps four flat, rectangular sheets hovering a few inches above one another in a bluish-black void.
 
Though I have no recollection of it, she must have indicated that these planes separately or collectively constituted “the world,” as this produced immediate confusion in me. My understanding, I told her, was that the world was round, not flat. Her response seemed to clear things up for me, though that is all I could recall regarding the remainder of the conversation.
 
Like many of the things she had told me, however, it would have relevance to experience later in life, in this case with reference to the “astral projections” that began occurring outside my control around May of 1995.
 
The projections happened on several occasions with that remarkable intensity I experienced in the initial one, and continue to this day in a calmer way. I could never consciously will them to happen – they always happened of their own accord, be it by chance, accident, or the design of some outside force. 
 
While I believe there is sufficient evidence of disembodied consciousness, having an out of body “experience” is not necessarily synonymous with an exosomatic actuality. In some cases, it undoubtedly is, judging from the mass of accounts, but I can unfortunately not say the same, with any confidence, of my own.
 
In my own experiences there has never been any instance I recall in which I was roaming in a disembodied state through the familiar, physical landscape; a disappointment, I might add, as that was my original intention in pursuing the out of body state and in fact the only form I understood. Instead, I appear to only have access to what many others have referred to as other worlds, alternate realities, parallel universes, other dimensions or planes of existence. Is that truly what they constitute? 
 
After long bouts of contemplation in which I considered these experiences to perhaps be “nothing more” than what are known as lucid or waking dreams, I realized that the characteristics did not at all match. Despite being more aware than I could ever recall being in corporeal reality, I was unable to will the scenery to change. All that was within my capacity to do was exit the realm by turning inward, or imploding, and one of three things would happen.
 
Sometimes I would wake up in my body, finding it in a state of paralysis. Occasionally, I would be pulled down yet again into the “astral plane,” though always into a different environment than before.
 
Often enough I would experience, or recall experiencing, a place I have come to call limbo, however. Usually this place was a seemingly infinite black void, though sometimes one of a gold-tan color instead, and in some cases tunnels or wells of black or white color.
 
In limbo, sensations are always difficult to describe. On the whole, in seems to be an “electric” space. Here, the visual sense is at best peripheral in awareness and sometimes absent entirely, with the sensory field dominated with subtle energy sensations. This is the cheesy terminology I have adopted to designate what could otherwise only be described, perhaps, as a hybridization of the typical sensations known as touch, taste and movement. 
 
The curious thing about limbo is that it seems to serve as a multidimensional antechamber that leads, essentially, everywhere. I could somehow successfully execute a kind of bilocation, existing in my immobilized physical body and in the void I somehow sensed was “below” me at once, and so hover in-between the worlds. Being in my vacant, immobilized body did not involve use of my senses in most cases, but when I did occasionally hear something, like the radio or the hum of my computer, it sounded as one would expect it to if they were listening to it from underwater. By focusing on the muffled sound, however, I could use my attention as an anchor to the physical world as well as a rope by which I could pull myself back. 
 
The limbo could also lead me to other worlds, however, and I could linger in-between those other worlds and the limbo as well.
 
The quality of these alternate realities vary, or so it seems. It may be that some of these other worlds are dreamlike, others so rich they could almost be mistaken for the physical world, and still others hyperreal, experienced as being even “more real” than the physical world. Alternatively, it could be that the quality of the environment does not change, but only the quality of my means of sensing it and “being present” there.  
 
Even in my initial experiences in May of 1995 it was clear that the rich and intensely vivid quality of my surroundings was entirely relative to the degree of emotional intensity behind my attention. Objects and the environment as a whole seem to have their own self-luminescence, no evident external light source required — only the investment of one’s attention. This goes not only for the visual sense, either, but tactile as well, and presumably all the rest.
 
Indeed, my very existence there seemed somehow dependent on my attention on it. I could never decide whether or not this was due to its nature as a lucid or waking dream or due to the necessity of heightened awareness to activate the senses of that thought-responsive subtle body. It certainly felt that I drifted farther away when my attention slacked, that there was distance between me and that other body and that I was brought closer to the world with corresponding clarity of the senses when my attention sufficiently increased.
 
As with the first experience, spawned by the vision of a woman’s bare breast, acute attention seemed to “turn the lights on” behind this peculiar reality. If awareness spawned the realm’s full-sensory quality, did this not imply that it was indeed a product of my own mind? 
 
It later struck me, however, that this could indeed be a reality and my senses in the corresponding body on that plane of existence may have merely atrophied from lack of use, which may explain the initial blurriness I experienced. It was much like being tired or being under the influence of a downer drug and then being blasted into acute wakefulness. Perhaps my sudden and intense attention spawned my otherworldly senses into acute attention rather than the reality itself. 
 
Yet there were still other qualities that seemed to distinguish these experiences from the lucid dreams so many have reported. As an example, there was my mode of movement or travel within the context of the environment. Especially during the first experience, from the moment I became aware I seemed to be in a constant state of high-speed motion driven by where I focused my attention. The problem seemed to be that my attention was too intense and easily distracted, which led me to zipping about the surreal environment. 
 
Though I did not often see myself, during these experiences I felt as if I shifted between three distinct forms. In one, I was merely a ball, a center of condensed awareness. Occasionally I felt like smoke, a cloud, or amorphous mass. There were also occasions in which I felt as if I had what is more recognizable as a body, but this body seemed to be made out of something I can only relate to electricity. I later came to note that these three forms were more than slightly similar to the three forms apparitions are often described as manifesting as. Was it somehow the same body?
 
Though these alternate realities seem distinct from the dream, they are undoubtedly connected with them. The ultimate nature of the distinction has root, as William Buhlman has suggested, in their degree of sensitivity and responsiveness to consciousness.
 
Though our dreams constitute environments or spaces that are highly sensitive and responsive to conscious will and the unconscious mind of the dreaming individual, the alternate realities appear to have considerable resistance to such manipulation, though to some degree, at least, experience has shown it to be possible. 
 
This does not seem to be a repository of just my memories and imagination, however. It led me to wonder if each of us, outside of our personal mind, shared a greater mind, and so I was dreaming, even lucid dreaming, only it was of a higher order than personal. It was sort of a collective database for sensory perception and simulation.
 
Perhaps what I’m visiting are places which have been remembered or imagined by groups of people — perhaps these places serve as manifestations of the memory and imagination of the species. That so many have so often perceived the environments in our waking world would have the effect of ingraining their memories there complete with all their misperceptions, poor spatial intelligence, false memories and imagined environments as well. 
 
Memory would be built up, maintained, evolved through group reinforcement of experience and imagination through repeated and/or intensely emotionally-fueled exposure and/or execution. Such  “weight” of memory could not be changed without repeated or intense focus that culminates in a match to its power. Old habits die hard. Environments would resist fundamental manipulation by consciousness with the strength of its own memory.
 
Additionally, this collective mind may have qualities and processes similar to the individual minds that feed and draw from it, such as the disjunctive cognitions and interobjects of dreams — both constituting a mutation of association that either thrives or dies out in the ecosystem of the mind. If so, perhaps these alternate realities are mutations of the moments we have experienced; schemas we call cultural memory which we can experience as if through the ordinary senses as prototypes procured from collective “attractors”.
 
Though it took me some time to realize it, the strange atmosphere I felt when I awoke into those alternate bedrooms spawned from this sense that the world was on pause. 
 
Everything was silent, as if this was a freeze-framed still image — a free-floating, three-dimensional alternative version of my bedroom unhinged by temporal constraints. It was as if they were defective time-slices; moments rejected because they lack flow with the causality or chronology of reality. The probability wave never crashed in their favor, and so now each of these moments have been condemned to land of existential continuity errors, in which I have so often become lost.
 
Rather than absorptive focus on my physical body, which would once again ensnare me, lock in key, to biological, spatiotemporal constraints, I instead traverse the associations between the alternate frames by seeking instead the right environment, sometimes flipping through reality-channels like mad.
 
Though we experience 4-dimensional spacetime in a seemingly seamless sequence of 3-dimensional cross-sections which appear to be woven together by causality, then, could it be that reality as we experience it is really akin to a film in which various freeze-framed stills we could call “moments” are spliced together sequentially due to their degrees of similarity and difference to one another, which in turn produces the illusion of causality when experienced through the embedded material medium of the corporeal body?
 
Outside of that body, consciousness would traverse the frames by means of association through absorptive focus, able to explore mutant and literally timeless moments that never made it and even poke around in alternate sequences that do not jive well at all with the sequence of events we identify as home. Some of these frames might be single frames that carry only slight discrepancy with your home reality, others might be entirely off in left field and bear little to no correspondence with familiar experience