During a period when I was utterly convinced I must be schizophrenic, I openly declared to a teenage coworker who had issues himself that I hallucinated aliens. When he asked me whether they were here right now or not, I laughed, and told him it didn’t work like that. As a matter of fact, sometimes it seemed as though my experiences were orchestrated to keep me in a constant state of uncertainty regarding their nature. Sometimes there was evidence suggesting it was true, such as my father seeing the tail end of the red, shimmering orb I saw hovering over our driveway; other times, it felt just as certain to me that I must just be bloody fucking insane. This is my mind’s major perpetual oscillation. Nothing, it seems, is capable of convincing me one way or the other, at least not in something exceeding a pathetically transient sense.
I imagine one day in the future I’m living alone again, walking a dog I will then own through a park where a large group of people are having a barbeque. My eyes drift passed the clapping trees on this beautiful summer’s day and there, above in the clear, baby-blue skies silently hovers a silver, metallic, saucer-looking object. In response, I shake myself free of the immobilization that came with the shock of seeing it and do precisely what I did on the morning of September, 2001 when I saw the orb of shimmering red light hovering over the lawn: I reach for my nearest means of confirmation, the nearest human beings in my immediate vicinity. I call out to the BBQ group and point to the sky, asking, “Am I the only one seeing this?” One guy sitting on a picnic table, holding a beer and watching the meat grill stands up to assist, looking up in the direction I’m pointing and kindly searching for whatever it is I might be talking about. “You talkin’ about that boat out there?” By that time, it would be clear to me that he could not see the saucer hovering there above us, and I would have good reason to dismiss it as a hallucination, however vivid: a product of my own mind.
When considering the fact that my experiences might just be due to mental wiring or caused by some psychological disease, I always consider how clever my unconscious mind must be. For what I have described above never happens, though there have damn well been opportunities, clearly. I could easily falsify what I feel sure is real, and so prove to myself that I am indeed insane.
I should remind myself that there have been occasions in which I have had hallucinations, all without the assistance of drugs, that it would be difficult to interpret as anything but. There are the instances of face-phasing, like girl’s face morphing transiently into the faces of previous girls I’ve been involved with: it has happened on two or three occasions, and by no means did I presume that they were literally shape-shifting before my eyes. I knew it must be some subtle hallucination.
Most disturbing was the image of my father in the rearview mirror when he drove us back from the hypnosis session, which was far more vivid that any of the occurrences with the girls. He did not transform before my eyes, either, nor was it actually his face that I saw — it was only his reflection, with his real face obscured due to my angle from the dark back seat of the van, where I sat alone. I knew it had to be a hallucination as there was no other explanation, but it was no less horrifying, no less mesmerizing, particularly due to its vivid nature, its presumed correspondence with the movement of my father’s actual head as he spoke with my mother as she drove, the fact that his skin was of a iridescent purple-blue that changed in the light and in the angle and that the color was unearthly but familiar, as well as its persistence. Several times during that long fucking ride home I looked away from the rearview and back again, and still it remained. Yet nothing else in my field of vision was disturbed. Everything else was entirely mundane and normal, which perplexed and amazed me, even at the time.
These hallucinations were technically pseudo-hallucinations, as I knew they were hallucinations. The face-morphing with the girls remained only so long as I focused on them and then all went back to normal. The face-morphing with my father would not go away no matter what I tried, and when we got out of the van upon arriving home I made sure not to look at the faces of either of them. As a psychologist would say to me when I relayed the story to him years later, it is incredibly suspicious that I had such a hallucination directly following a hypnosis session. The fact of the matter is that the experience was not at all that foreign to me. Though I go through periods of excess slacking, I often meditate or engage in self-hypnosis, which is more or less the same thing. Since I was young I had listened to guided self-hypnosis tapes to overcome anxiety or gain self-confidence. And nothing vivid came out of the first-and-only hypnosis session that evening, though there were a few hazy, however brief recollections that would come to disturb me later. That I would have such a vivid hallucination only on the way home after having been brought out of a largely unsuccessful trance seems a little hard to believe given my experience.
Though it does resonate with another experience in a sense. After having smoked some Salvia Divinorum in a friend’s homemade water bong as Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the theme song from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey played in the background. I took my hits off the bong a little after midnight, poor at holding the smoke in my lungs without hacking like a madman, and so I stopped altogether by a half passed. Another friend of mine — my current roommate, in fact — took in about as much as me off the bong and he felt essentially the same effects. We both had a bit of a head rush and were kind of dizzy, but that was about the length of it. I ate a bit of food, talked with the group of people there, drove one of them home on my way back to my parent’s house, where I was living at the time. After getting home, I made a pot of coffee, went to the bathroom and then decided to go outside to have a smoke and gaze at the beauty of the night sky. And there, having felt entirely sober and having felt no real sense of intoxication at all that night, I got what we might call another delayed effect.
Turning my head to look up towards the sky above the front yard I see, from an angle, a triangular object slowly moving towards the area above the house. Granted, I see no solid object, only a triangular formation of white, circular lights that appeared to be arranged in rows. Nonetheless, something implied to me a triangular object up there with these lights on its underside. It remained in my field of vision for about ten seconds, moving slowly in the sky without making so much as a subtle hum. Then, as if noticing me noticing it, the object gradually slowed down, dimmed its lights, then brightened them to a degree brighter than before, and then “switched off” completely. It was as if there was a little knob inside you could twist to brighten or dim the lights, and someone had, in their haste, accidentally turned the knob the wrong way for a moment before correcting the mistake and twisting the knob in the correct direction now, and quickly, until it clicked into the off position. This only permitted me to see a dark, triangular object move across the sky in the direction it had been going, albeit only for a few moments before I lost sight of it. Moments after I lost sight of it, there were subtle noises in the woods behind the house. It sounded like the crackling of twigs and rustling of leaves, as if the craft had gone over the house and was now burying itself at the tops of the trees in our backyard.
Though not hypnosis, as in the case with the rearview hallucination of my father’s reflection, it seems incredibly suspicious that this experience followed my inhalation of the fumes from a psychoactive plant. Again, what I agree is the easy solution on the surface doesn’t make sense the more you consider the details rather than just simplifying it.
There is, to begin, the matter of dosage. Irritated as I was when the Salvia had not seemed to have taken effect that evening, I did not find it at all that surprising. After all, I had smoked Salvia perhaps four to five times prior and it had never given me vivid hallucinations, and never any open-eye visuals. On each occasion I’d smoked a higher dosage of a more potent form of the substance, too. For instance, during my first experience I believe I had smoked Salvia 5x, which means that the active ingredient in Salvia Divinorum was sprinkled on the Salvia leaves, making it five times as potent. On the next two occasions I’d smoked ten-times extract. Even with the Salvia 10x, I had gotten nothing more than a soothing effect with transparent “eye candy” visuals when I closed my eyes. The leaves I had smoked on the night I saw the delta light show were just the leaves, however, void of any extract.
In addition, there is the matter of the drugs duration. My research and eventual experimentation with Salvia came out of a desire to falsify my growing belief in the reality of my experiences, essentially. Many had claimed that many drugs, such as Ketamine, DMT and Salvia Divinorum (which has been called “the most potent naturally-occurring psychedelic known to man”) produce experiences similar to both out-of-body experiences and alien encounters, both of which I experienced rather consistently. My focus on Salvia was due to its legal status at the time and the fact that while potent with a swift onset, it was of incredibly short duration: a trip usually lasted around the order of ten to fifteen minutes. Within half an hour, one felt entirely sober. There would be no hours of waiting if a trip commenced and went inconceivably bad, and that was something I considered attractive. Yet I had hallucinated a well-lit delta-shaped UFO roughly three hours and forty-five minutes after a few seemingly unsuccessful bong hits of naked, dry leaves.
If my experiences as a whole truly are all the product of the vast, multifaceted psychosis infecting my brain-stuff, then clearly things such as hypnosis and psychedelic substances would serve to either initiate a psychotic break or exacerbate the live episode currently airing in my short-circuiting neural network. This is not a factoid my spotlight of awareness dares to deviate all that far from in the post-1995 climate of my consciousness; one must take potential insanity into account to ensure one’s reality check has not bounced. My question is why they would happen on some rare occasions rather than all, and after the effects — of hypnosis, of the drug — were projected and felt to have ceased. Along with that is the notion that the delayed effects were of an extremely far more remarkable quality than anything within the context of the projected period of effect.
If both the hallucination of my fathers face in the rearview and the hallucination of that triangular craft above my parent’s lawn were produced by hypnosis and Salvia Divinorum respectively, they are similar in that they could be seen as delayed reactions. It reminds me, for better or worse, of the notion of “sigil magick,” a sort of branch of Chaos Magick, which relies upon intentional effort followed by diversion of attention, which evidently provides the room for results to be manufactured and received. It almost makes sense, as consciousness seems to interfere with conscious processes, and so must leave the room, so to speak, and go somewhere else for the unconscious to do its job.
This is why someone can fill their heads with data, struggle to understand it in order to answer a question or solve a problem or come to a decision and no matter how relentless their conscious exertion they only manage to get themselves wound ever more in the mental webs they have spun. Finally they submit to “leaving the room” and “taking a bath” or just getting some damned sleep. And as soon as they have accomplished that, as soon as they have successfully diverted conscious attention, the answer arrives to them out of the blue.
All you had to do was let it digest. Let the room become an unconscious womb where the answer can gestate and finally come to term. This is the same kind of effect described by those who claimed to have successfully executed telepathy and psychokinesis: a major investment of effort towards a goal, a sudden diversion is the only thing that produces success. A watched pot never boils; a fork never bends in your hand while you’re trying to bend it. Set the goal, invest the energy, then ADD away: the unconscious mind will pick up from here.
Sure you helped. Like you loosened the lid on the jar after struggling for eons and the next person turns it and it comes off immediately.
I was trying desperately to remember under hypnosis. I was anticipating doing the Salvia, hoping to see something. Results only come after my eventual release. The session is over. The drug is out of my system. On to other things. And then: delivery. I call it the Bow Effect, because you’re aiming the arrow, pulling back on your bow with all your might without getting anywhere towards your goal. Indeed, the arrowhead actually seems to be receding from the target as you up the ante, increase the tension. Only when your fingers give up or become diverted by a sudden intense itch or pain and you release the bow does the arrow soar towards the goal.