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.


Aliens, UFOs and Abnormal Psychology.

Dismissing myself as crazy has been my convenient go-to, a default triggered when my strange experiences and their apparent implications become too overwhelming. When this surreal aspect of my life comes to face the giggle factor, meets the laughter curtain and exceeds my boggle threshold, the barrier beyond which I am no longer able to suspend disbelief, I endure a sort of nausea of the mind so intense that I, for a time, submit to it. Declaring myself crazy by no means makes me feel better — to the contrary, I always feel worse — but condemning myself in this fashion requires less energy than continuing my efforts to actually understand my experiences. The issue is that once I get beyond the emotional devastation of labeling myself crazy and subject this self-diagnosis to analysis I ultimately come to realize it really doesn’t constitute a diagnosis at all. “Crazy” is just a buzzword, dismissive in spirit and entirely devoid of true explanation.

So early on, back in high school, I found myself trying to identify a more specific self-diagnosis by reading through books on psychology, even an Abnormal Psychology college textbook I got from a friend. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or terrified when I found that no single condition I read about seemed to cover the crazy shit that I had been experiencing. No umbrella terms appeared to be available. When I began seeing a psychologist shortly thereafter, and one that I had quickly developed a respect for, I explained how I had tried diagnosing myself and failed, as no disorder seemed to encompass it all. In my memory, he retorted, stating that I was wrong, and when I pressed him he fumbled and mentioned schizophrenia. The fact that he immediately seemed to backpedal when he saw my reaction only made my terror increase. The moment hung with me and I fell back on it when the weirdness weighed me down. At one point I remember finding a page on the net that described traits of the schizophrenic and the schizoid personality that seemed to fit me perfectly.  I scotch taped it to my bedroom door.

In 2002, when I came back to him after an intense cluster of experiences and casually acknowledged in our session that I was fully aware that I was schizophrenic, he immediately asked me, with a skeptical look on his face, who it was that had given me that diagnosis. When I stated that it had been him, he was emphatic that this could not have been the case. After explaining to me that the term schizophrenia was essentially a dumping ground for what may turn out to be various disorders, he took on this proposed diagnosis directly.

“If you’re a schizophrenic,” he told me, “you’re certainly a highly-functioning one.”

I found the notion that I, a twenty-something living at home yet again and working fast food, could be described as “highly functioning” by any measure to be ludicrous, but he was, after all, the goddamned professional. Though he predicted that I had particular abnormalities in certain regions of my brain and called my experiences “perceptual anomalies,” he never gave me a diagnosis.

For a time, specifically after reading Dr. Marlene Steinberg’s book, The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation — The Hidden Epidemic, I also explored the notion that I might suffer from a dissociative disorder, perhaps even Dissociative Identity Disorder. Without doubt I experience what has been labeled dissociative symptoms. In addition, my memories and experiences may in part be due to some alternate personality or “alter” and there appears to be evidence of its beginnings in my childhood. My initial rush of memories and the flashbacks that followed might represent a previously compartmentalized sector of my mind, one belonging to this alter, colliding with my conscious personality and merging. My experience with the ideomotor response in my use of the Ouija board, in my spontaneous artwork and writing, as well as during the hypnosis session, all may have represented the alter gaining slow and localized control over my body. The entity I encountered during my “astral projections” might be one manifestation of an alternate personality or alter as well — perhaps after sharing previously isolated memories the separate aspects of mind we have governed over blended further, giving rise to shared lucid dreams I took to be “astral projections.” Maybe the incidents between June and August of 1995, climaxing in the incident at the java juicer, represented transient periods where the alter took control of my body entirely.  

The issue is that this degree of dissociation is typically associated with intense physical and psychological trauma. On the surface, at least, this presents itself to me as an utterly insane proposition. As I imagine is the case with anyone, I have my share of complaints and grievances with respect to how I grew up. My mother favored my sisters over me and I had endless power-struggles with her over the course of my childhood. It hurt and enraged me, and I continue in my attempts to deal with those issues. Even so, I recognize that I was one lucky little asshole. My parents never physically abused us kids. I was certainly never sexually abused. Our harshest punishments as children, which I faced often enough, involved either staring at a corner for a length of time measured by my mother’s oven timer or being under “room arrest,” confined to my bedroom until further notice. Without doubt this nonviolent discipline is what made the abuse I witnessed at Jimmy’s house all the more traumatizing — and indeed, that was all certainly traumatizing from the position of a witness as well, but that it might provide the fuel for alien encounters seemed far more ludicrous to me than the thought that, well, I might have legitimately had alien encounters.

It isn’t just trauma and mental disorders that can allegedly produce these alien encounters, however. People have linked alien abduction experiences with various drugs such as Salvia Divinorum, Ketamine, and psilocybin, but most often DMT. All are classified as psychedelics, I believe, aside from ketamine, which is a dissociative, but unless you’re willing to concede that each of these chemicals constitute different rabbit holes leading to the same parallel universe, all are psychedelic in the true sense of the term, which is to say that they are “mind-revealing.” In other words, these drugs draw back the egoic curtain and let you take a peek beyond the veil of mundane consciousness, bringing you can deal more directly with the more subliminal aspects of the mind — just as psychosis can.

Some believe sleep paralysis alone can produce the abduction experience, which I find ridiculous for several reasons. Even among the popularized abduction cases one can see that bedrooms are not the only place encounters occur and that often enough the people involved are not asleep at the time of the event. They might be fishing or driving, for instance, and be among others who are taken along with them. In addition, I have had sleep paralysis myself and the earliest such experience is the succubus experience mentioned early in the book. Even at the time of the experience I did not interpret it as an alien breaking into my dark room, crawling atop my bed, straddling my immobilized body and proceeding to dry-hump rape me. Instead, I assumed it was a disembodied entity doing something analogous or — more likely, I supposed — this was all a hallucinatory experience brought on by one-part sleep deprivation and one-part prescription medication.

So I have explored the Psychological Hypothesis (PH), which alleges that while it may require activation through trauma, drugs, mental disorders or the peculiar circumstance in which your mind wakes up before your body does, the abduction experience is purely a product of human psychology. There is no external intelligence at work here, only my own. It’s all in my head. A related school of thought I explored posits what I’ll call the Psi Hypothesis (PsiH), and it attempts to compensate for the failure of the PH to account for physical evidence by bringing parapsychology into the fold — specifically, the psi capabilities of the human mind.

My train of thought ultimately ran along this track: if one finds the PH absurd and instead accepts abductions as nuts-and-bolts physical experiences, these physical experiences require you to accept the existence of paranormal phenomena. It is simply a given. After all, a cursory glance at abduction reports should make it clear that telepathy and moving through walls, for instance, is by no means rare in abduction events. To the contrary, paranormal phenomena is pretty fucking standard — and not just during these events, either, but in the wake of them. There is the matter of the “paranormal afterglow” that manifests in my life during these experiences, and while some investigators fail to mention them, personal reports from abductees reveal that I am by no means alone. Others also experience spontaneous telepathic experiences, poltergeist activity, vivid dreams that seem like awakening in a parallel reality, odd coincidences and other strange events.

As this paranormal afterglow runs the full spectrum of psi, stretches on indiscriminately into the gamut of the strange, it seems natural to wonder if the aliens themselves, rather than extraterrestrials, might just be another manifestation. In other words, it could very well still be that the phenomenon is purely psychological at the roots, that it is governed by compartmentalized aspects of my mind that influence me subliminally, that this is truly my conspiracy against myself. Maybe it also branched out into physicality utilizing psi abilities, however: powers which for whatever convenient reason I cannot wield consciously.
This would by necessity be a form of poltergeist. In this view, the phenomenon of poltergeists is explained as a living individual who is experiencing recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis; the psychokinetic activity is the result of subconscious and involuntary acting-out of the focus individual.

For a clearer picture of how this might work we might first turn to a series of parapsychological experiments that have been conducted since 1972. These experiments sought to demonstrate that the display of psi phenomena often attributed to deceased individuals could manifest without them, and so such phenomena were not necessarily evidence for life after death. In the beginning, which in this case was 1972, there was Philip Aylesford, the child of eight members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research. He was a fictional character they developed with an elaborate backstory regarding his birth, life, and eventual death. They collectively meditated on him before attempting to communicate with him in the style of a Spiritualist seance. Participants reported not only communications but manifestations — they not only saw and heard things, in other words, but poltergeist phenomena also manifested. Other groups conducted similar experiments, reporting that they had successfully created and then conjured Lilith, a World War II French Canadian spy, Sebastian, an alchemist from medieval times and finally Axel, who was from the future.

As expected, results of these experiments were disputed — as were the tales regarding the more extreme manifestation of what has typically been called the tulpa in Western culture and which is also variously known as an egregore or a thought-form. It is often conceived as an imaginary entity that achieves, through ritual intent of its creator, a physical manifestation — according to some, an intentional and advanced rendition of your typical poltergeist.

Though the notion is reasonably dispersed across the collective consciousness at this point, methinks, the only alleged personal account I have come across is the one told by Alexandra David-Neel. In her journey through Tibet, she became interested in tulpas. Having elected to make one herself, she decided on a friendly, pudgy monk, and was eventually able to visualize him as a hallucination in her visual field. Over time the hallucination gained clarity, and eventually she found it indistinguishable from a living, breathing, physical being.

The frightening aspect of her little experiment soon became apparent, however, when the monk began appearing when she hadn’t conjured it, and then began behaving in ways it had not been programmed by her to behave. The monk also seemed to be losing weight and had taken on a distinctly malicious appearance. Nothing was as shocking, however, as when an individual she knew, who knew nothing of her practices, began questioning her about the stranger that had been meandering about in her tent. She reports that it took half a year, but she was eventually able to abolish the creature through other Tibetan techniques.

Though in both of these cases the entities were intentionally generated, in both cases they reportedly also exceed their programming and seemed to take on a life of their own, independent of the conscious aspect of the mind: essentially, a spiritual form of artificial intelligence. It also fits the profile of a dissociative identity state, an alternate personality. They are essentially intentionally-generated alters that can manifest physically.

An interesting aspect of the Philip experiment was that none of the eight involved were gifted psychically. Nonetheless, they were apparently capable of creating and programming a spiritual entity that could communicate in a way that was consistent with that personality and, most important and amazing of all, producing psychokinetic effects. David-Neel seemed to be at least moderately gifted psychically and have some degree of discipline as well; despite being a lone individual, she was able to produce a creature that could be seen by her and others. The entity was also able to become independent of its creators, functioning autonomously. Naturally, this might lead one to wonder what kind of effects a large group of psychically-gifted individuals might be capable of producing.

All the people I know that have had experiences similar to mine seem to have no knowledge of the UFO or abduction phenomenon beyond the superficial reports that the media regurgitates every now and then. Despite this, correlations between our narratives are plentiful right down to unanticipated details. From the way one friend described the shadows of the beings from outside her tent during a formative experience while camping as a child to the way another friend described the manner in which one of the creatures in his encounter ran, there are correlations even in the details littering our experience that I cannot in good conscience deny. This extends to many of those of whom I have read and read about in blogs, articles and books and seen through interviews and documentaries. Could the answer really be that our collective unconscious is conspiring against us, utilizing telepathy to share a narrative and RSPK to bring that narrative to life?

Despite finding the concepts of both the PH and PsiH fascinating, I have, in the end, always choked in my attempts to swallow. Those who have posited that poltergeist activity is the unconscious product of an individual note the similarities in individuals around which the alleged recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK) manifests. In cases of alien abduction, on the other hand, it is clear that these experiences are shared by people from all walks of life, people all across the spectrum — racial, religious, cultural, class, education — as well as people of wildly different constitutions who react to these shared experiences in very individual ways. This sounds less like a psychological disorder — with or without psi effects — and more like an actual, nuts-and-bolts experience.

Death Match on the Astral Plane.

Everything seemed very bright and my vision blurred, as if my eyes weren’t adjusting properly. When I got my bearings despite the remaining haze, I realized that I seemed to be in my bedroom, atop my bed, though something was amiss that I could not quite place my finger on at first. After staring at the window rather dumbly for some time, my attention was drawn to someone nearby me in the room. I could not see him, though nonetheless knew he was a male. His presence did not seem alarming to me, just confusing, and we proceeded to have a conversation that seemed more telepathic than verbal, perhaps accounting for the conversation’s haze, which has left only vague generalities. His ultimate assertion, however, was very clear: this is a reality we are in now, and while it is not the reality I am familiar with, it no more constitutes a dream.

On he went, speaking to me on the topic of “alternate realities” and “parallel planes,” notions which to me seemed absurd. There was the physical reality, which was real, and then there was the dream state, which was the product of imagination and consequently not real. I was simply unable to fathom anything beyond those two categories. In answer to his question as to which we were in right now, I took the position that we were presently in physical reality based on the fact that I was awake. The entity said that this was not physical reality, and he would prove it to me. He then instructed me to take the blue vase on my window sill and smash it into pieces. After some convincing, I slammed the vase against the wood that lined the window, watching as it shattered. In a moment, entropy reversed itself before my eyes and the blue vase was in one piece again. As amazed and perplexed as I was at this, his retro-entropy trick only led me to conclude that I had been mistaken and that, as difficult as it was for me to believe, we must instead be in a dream. Though I do not recall his response, I was left with the impression that this was not the conclusion that the entity was hoping for.

That experience must have happened in March or April of 1995. When I finally met with success and woke up in my normal room and with my fully-functioning vision, it only seemed to add further confirmation that the whole experience had been nothing more than a dream. In addition, it was a dream so strange it lived far beyond my capacity to understand. It would also undoubtedly be a laborious journey I felt was unlikely to provide a payoff. Perhaps it was a dream. In any case, even though I forgot of the dream for some time, did it in some way influence the sudden, inexplicable passion I had for achieving the out-of-body experience?

In any case, on the bridge of April and May, no more than a day or two after my hypnosis session on April 27th, I found myself in the strange position of feeling eager to lie down and close my eyes in a dark room at night. This was unheard of for me at the time, and to be honest even with respect to present day. Though I had decided to take up the practice of sleeping again, however terrified the notion made me feel, for some reason I found it necessary to sleep not on my bed, but on the floor by my doorway. Wrapped in blankets, head to my pillow, I would close my eyes and run the tape in my Walkman. I had received the tape that day at the school library through inter-library loan. On one side were guided, step-by-step procedures on how to exit the corporeal body through self-hypnosis. On the other, there was cheesy new age music with the same instructions played at a low volume for subliminal suggestion. The idea was that the instructions would be delivered directly to the unconscious mind, bypassing the critical conscious ego and leading to spontaneous astral projection.

Having decided I could ingrain the ability to project out of my physical body far more quickly by listening to both sides of the tape interchangeably, I did just that. Every so often, I would fall asleep listening to the tape, only to wake to the sound of the Walkman clicking to a stop. I would then flip over the tape, press play and fall back asleep. I made this a routine rather quickly, and it soon became a reflex that was triggered all night long by the click of the tape stopping.

After listening to the tape for what must have been about a week, strange shit began happening. For one thing, I began getting more confused memories from childhood surfacing, all of which I recorded on paper. There was an image of the typical Gray alien, head turned, each eye embracing hypnotic spirals, and I somehow associated it with where we used to go camping in Geneva, Ohio. More importantly, at least with respect to the series of experiences I wish to describe here, I began getting odd sensations I described in my notes at the time as “my aura surfing over my body,” which I for some reason felt it was doing because it was “trying to disconnect.” A better way to explain the sensation might be to say that it felt as if I had two bodies — one which was my physical body, another which was a duplicate body, a subtler body that felt as though it were made out of electricity. My subtle body was super-imposed but slightly lingering outside and above my physical body, connected at the head. From the head, by subtle body would occasionally rise to the height of perhaps a 45-degree angle, where it was violently yanking and shifting from side to side as if aggressively trying to break free from the connection somewhere inside my head — or as if some disembodied entity were aggressively trying to pull me out of my body.

After a night or two of this aura surfing, something even more bizarre happened. Jolting awake, sitting straight up where I lay by the doorway in my dark room, I felt mentally alert to the degree usually reserved for alarm, though could not ascertain what had provoked this reaction. Thinking at first that someone must be in the room with me, my eyes scan the premises eerily lit by the light of my lava lamp but come up empty handed. Still, the uneasy feeling did not go away. Something was wrong. Even the atmosphere of the room seemed off kilter. Finally, it dawned on me that things in my room weren’t positioned right. The dimensions of the room were different. As unbelievable as it was, it suddenly struck me that while I was wide awake as could be I was somehow still dreaming, and this was not my room at all.

It was that realization that then jolted me awake, sitting up from my dark corner on my bedroom floor in just the same manner as I had in the dream. I was in such awe over the experience and felt the need to write it down, but I never made it that far before the discrepancies in the room again caught my attention. This was not the off-kilter room I had awakened into within the dream, nor was it my actual room. Somehow, I had awakened out of a dream of an alternate room and into another. I was still awake, yet I was still dreaming. The shock awakened me with a jolt, and I sat upright but knew better, and upon brief inspection I found that, alas, this was yet another alternate room.

On it went. Every time I was certain I was awake, certain that this was a physical experience through the body’s normal senses in my own bedroom environment. Then it would catch my eye. Objects in my room were misplaced, replaced, missing or had duplicates. Dimensions or lighting would be off. With every false awakening, I felt evermore mise en abyme, increasingly lost in a hellishly infinite series of Chinese Boxes. There was no way you could have convinced me it was a dream, but at the same time it was equally obvious that this was not what I had come to regard as reality. This left me with absolutely no option. There were no other existing alternatives; it was dream or reality. Eventually, of course, I awoke in the conventional sense, decided to slow down my listening to the tape and, of course, felt my reluctance to sleep return with renewed strength.

All this aura-surfing and waking up in alternative bedrooms was merely a prelude, however. I may have forgotten about it all completely if I hadn’t been documenting things in such an obsessive-compulsive manner at the time, because what happened next blew all of it out of the water. This climax came in the form of several experiences that spanned over perhaps two weeks to a month. Though I documented most of the experiences on paper, at least for the first few episodes, even careful analysis of my atrocious, often barely-decipherable handwriting at the time makes it difficult for me to determine how the episodes unfolded chronologically. I do remember quite clearly the first episode, however. It was on either the third or fifth of May, 1995, then, when the aura-surfing brought me to a tidal wave that crashed my aching awareness down the shores of the Twilight Zone.

On that early evening I was absolutely exhausted, but had none the less refused to submit to the urge to sleep. I had, as a matter of fact, hardly slept at all in days, and for two reasons. One was evidently extraterrestrial, and that had been quite reason enough for insomnia the passed few months. Now I had another reason, however, and it was apparently of a spiritual or multi-dimensional nature. I read and wrote to aide my quest to understand all I’d been going throughout the last four to five months and, of course, for the purposes of keeping my mind intensely focused and busy and away from the horrific vulnerability that came with the most minimal amount of slumber. Experience had clearly shown, even at that early date, that this caffeine-fueled nocturnal practice only served to postpone the inevitable at best, and at worst only served to increase the depths of sleep when the inevitable crash came to pass. It was of no great surprise when I found myself standing before my bed, then, fighting to overcome the nearly delirious desire I had to drop on my mattress and just let myself fall into a deep, dark, warm and restful oblivion. I knew I had reached the end of my rope; there was simply no fighting it. I was going down. Involuntarily, I felt myself literally crash face-first into my mattress. I just dropped. My only hopes were that I would rest peacefully and awaken to my home reality and not in that extradimensional coffin, that endless labyrinth of Chinese boxes.

From the moment of impact, weird things began to happen. My mind relaxed a bit, ready to submit to a coma, but my body relaxed much more swiftly and much more deeply. My body quickly grew numb, heavy and then, finally, seemingly lifeless. It was a strange, exhilarating, liberating feeling I would in time become quite familiar with. What perplexed me most about it all was that as my body became totally and comfortably immobilized my consciousness, at first relaxed, then became incredibly acute. I was not merely awake, I was hyper-aware. I don’t even know if I was capable of moving my body at first, to be honest, for in my comfort and wonderment it never crossed my mind to take the time to try.

Then it deepened even further, to the point that it becomes quite difficult to explain, and this despite the fact that it has happened to me countless times since. If you can imagine that each of your senses — those through which you received signals from the world external to the body as well as those that gave you feedback on the body — have their own volume that can be turned to increase or reduce the degree of sensory input, I awoke in a state in which all those knobs had been turned down to the click of a reality-cancelling zero. Gone was any vague indication of the world beyond closed eyes as well as the sensation of those eyelids themselves. Gone was my sense of gravity, balance, the position of my body, the feeling of my tongue and the saliva in my mouth, the rhythm of my heartbeat or breathing. Everything, save for my strangely acute awareness, was simply absent.

If the initial paralysis and intense state of awareness were not enough to fascinate me, there was the sequence of strange sensations that followed. My body soon felt as if it was liquid, and it began to experience waves, like that of the ocean. I felt my body tingling, much like the pins-and-needles feeling you get when your leg or arm is falling asleep, but there was something more “electric” about this sensation. In addition to that, the tingling began to rise, as if changing frequency. Then it felt as if my bed were a cradle rocking my body back and fourth, back and fourth. Then, in response to the sensation of the bed swaying, I felt myself falling into what seemed to be an intoxicating trance. At that point, I just swiftly drifted into what seemed to be a hazy, low-intensity dream.

Though it seems logical to describe it as a dream, it was uncharacteristically stable in terms of environment and uneventful in terms of substance, with my perspective fixed and the vision blurred, as if my eyes were not adjusting properly. It was as if I had shifted from the physical senses that had turned down to zero and to my senses in this dream environment, which were now crawling just above zero, but nowhere near a level of volume that offered a sufficient degree of dream-sensory clarity. Here in the dream environment, however, the senses seemed to be intimately tied to my degree of awareness, much unlike my unresponsive physical senses to my previous heightened awareness. Senses clarified in correspondence to my degree of awareness, and this began slowly. In time it dawned on me that I was lying down on my side, staring out with blurred vision at what I somehow felt to be a familiar, cluttered basement, with my curiosity inspiring further focus on my sense of surroundings. Soon my senses clarified to the degree that the form that rested at the dead center of my field of vision became my focal point amidst the clutter. Just a few feet away, for some reason it grabbed my attention. The more my vision focused, the more I could make out what seemed to be to be the naked figure of a female. What I was focusing on directly was a woman’s bare breast.

At the moment I realized the breast for what it was, the world around me burst to life. My entire field of senses were squeaky clean, painfully receptive, as if the boob had served as a switch that had flipped on the high-watt bulb resting just behind the veil of this otherworldly environment. What previously stood as a blurry landscape immediately became a world more vivid than the “real” world had ever been. Colors were more crisp than anything I could remember laying my eyes upon. I could feel, see, hear, and I could even smell the musty scent of the basement. Every object, everything within the setting took on its own sort of contained self-luminance, apparently not requiring any external light source. And my awareness was heightened as well. As the strange world around me surged with energy and life, so did I. The realization that it was a breast brought a quickening to the world around me as well as myself, and immediately my body lifted from its position lying on its side and rose upward. Floating, it seemed, rather than standing, and in a body that felt more like an ill-defined blob than a steady form.

Not a moment later, it became abundantly clear that I was not alone. Immediately I felt what I would later describe as a “brutal force” latch itself onto my back like some wild animal pouncing on its prey, sinking in its serrated fangs. The vicious, animalistic attack brought me down to its basic, instinctual level, though in this case I reacted with both fight and flight, but my struggling would not shake him. Struggling with him as he pulled at me, tugged at me, tried to lift me up into the air, I felt as if I had been snatched up like the victim of a hawk and with his talons he sought to carry his meaty morsel to an area more fit for dining. I always seemed to break loose of his grip, however. On the several occasions he was able to wrestle me down, it felt as if he were clawing at my insides with an insane speed and passion, as if he had just stuck a blender in my guts and cranked it to the max. At the same time it felt like I was being electrocuted. Fighting was futile, so a game of cat and mouse ensued with me, obviously, typecast as the rodent.

Though our fighting was easy enough to understand, my means of flight takes a bit more explaining. My mode was one of constant movement be it backward, forward, ascending, descending or turning, with my target of attention dictating direction — a peculiar and inconvenient means of transportation, I might add, given my typical baseline psychological state consisting of intense yet meandering focus. As I looked around the room in terror, I would focus in on some object or area and immediately “zip’ or “zoom” there, as if rather than traveling the distance I had instead remained stationary as I drew the target towards me. The total absence of eyelids did not help the matter, either: in the end, I was stuck traveling at the blinding speed of thought without breaks.

The closest I achieved to being stationary in that environment was when I moved towards an object of focus so quickly I feared slamming into it or merging with it and “pushed back” in response, and then “pulled forward,” and kept this going as if I were some idiot fucking with an extradimensional zoom lens. I would zip around with him on my back, sometimes managing to shake him off me, or so it seemed, but never for long, and at one point I remember just giving into the zoom lens, letting it go forward as far as it could go. At the time, my focus had landed rather arbitrarily on some pipes lining the walls of the basement and immediately found myself going through the plumbing, zooming through tunnels of pipes, focused on infinity.

In the midst of all this violence, sensory overload and sheer terror, I got it into my head that it might be a good idea to try and find a way to get back to my body. I tried to do this by means of getting a “feel” for it. After all, if focus or desire was the vehicle down here, maybe concentrating on my body would bring me back to it or wake me up. While the physical universe and the body that connected me to it seemed so far away, so dreadfully out of reach, I tried with all my might to grab a hold of some faint memory of what it felt like to be inside of it. My hopes were that once I was back in my body this thing, this entity or whatever it was, wouldn’t be able to get me.

Somehow, I managed to do it. I escaped his world; I felt myself go upward. For a moment there seemed to be a breach in consciousness, but if so my awareness soon returned and I felt myself squeeze into the frame of my physical form. This was not, however, the same as being hooked up to my body, as I was soon to discover. My physical form was not under my control. I could not move it at all, I couldn’t see or taste or hear through it, but I could for some reason feel sensations through the skin. And what I felt was absolutely excruciating. While the sensations themselves are difficult to describe, I can tell you what insane thoughts ran through my mind at the time I felt them: I had the peculiar notion that little beings were poking staffs, spears and sticks with arrowheads at my body, jabbing knives into every area on my skin with unrelenting fervor. That’s what it felt like. Rationality soon led me to wonder if my body was going through convulsions, if this could all be the byproduct of some seizure or something, but my interpretation of the sensations didn’t change them. I could still feel the pokes and stabs and pinches and tapping. I could also feel them sticking things in my ear, too, and jabbing some large, blunt object in my anus.

To put it mildly and less graphic, my body was going through absolute torture. So as much as I wanted to get back to my biological body before that option was no longer available, the pain forced me to flee the corporeal confines again. As a consequently, I found myself back in a strange environment, though not the same environment as before. Nonetheless, the brutal force wasted no time in finding me, pouncing on my back and struggling, I increasingly felt, to somehow get inside of me. Now having access, in the very least, to a transient break room, I would travel back to my body to regain strength and also try to find a way to wake up through it or bear the torture it was going through. Time and time again, I was forced back into that otherworldly place, but always a different environment. It was as if my body were a sort of extradimensional anteroom. Given the torture it was being subjected to, any fight of mine invariably gave way to flight back into that other world, the ongoing target of a vile spirit’s manhunt, bound to the chase and savage attacks in a dimensional space of neither matter nor dream.

At some point, I landed in an alternate bedroom, and at this point my erratic movements across the scenery had calmed down a bit. I found that I could just hover and float and navigate at a less intense level. As real as all this seemed, it began to occur to me that perhaps I was somehow in what is known as a lucid or waking dream. My understanding is that lucid dreams present a challenge as one can excite oneself into awakening, however, and I seemed utterly incapable of waking up. With lucidity in a dream state one also is granted absolute power, the ability to change and control the scenery, and I only seemed capable of interacting with it as one would if it were a real environment, and incapable of escaping in any fashion save through retreating to a body that refused to awaken. I was obviously not at the wheel here, so-to-speak. None the less, when I found myself in that alternate bedroom I had some time to kill before that entity found me again, so I floated down to the foot of my bed by the window and tried with all my might to “will” something into manifestation. For some reason the only thing I could think of was the Rottweiler owned by our next door neighbors at the time who I had not-so-affectionately named Cujo. I concentrated on the image with an incredible amount of intensity and before me there appeared a translucent apparition of the Rottweiler’s face, it’s mouth opening and closing as it’s head jerked as if it were barking away in frenzy, though without noise. It was a fleeting apparition, however, and simply vanished as soon as I stopped concentrating with agonizing intensity. And I soon had to, as the entity had found me once again and wasted no time pouncing on me.

As I was wrestling with the entity on the floor, however, I took the chance to catch a peek through a mirror on a nearby wall. Here I saw that I was fighting with what seemed to be a nearly invisible enemy. All I could make out was an amorphous, transparent blob, a translucent smudge or blur the presence of which was visually detectable only because it served to distort whatever it was obscuring. As for myself, I appeared to be a fully-clothed version of myself in the midst of battle with a levitating blob. As we continued fighting, it came to my attention that he was inevitably going to wear me down, as I could not keep up the fight. I worried he would possess me, or that I would somehow face a death at a level deeper than the mere biological. At the point that I had given up and was sure it was over for me, I suddenly found myself back in my body, fully attached and awakening through it.

I wriggled my hands as if fitting them into a glove, moved my body so as to ensure the connection was maintained. Drenched in a cold sweat, lightheaded and with my mouth saturated with this strange, acidic taste, I found it hard to describe how I felt in general. You are left with the feeling that you have gone through hell, forced to utilize every inch of yourself to its fullest capacity in fight for your survival and yet still brought to the point where you were fully convinced there was no way out and death was inevitable. Despite that, however, you not only make it back out alive in the end but find yourself struck with the feeling that you were somehow cleansed of something. I grabbed my notebook and pen and wrote down the rough details of the experience. After describing it, I compulsively wrote:

This is real.
This reality we live in is a lie.
We got away with it for some time.
“They” are here.
“They” have been here.
And WE are going to learn.

As I stared at what I had written in wonder, frightened that my hand had written it despite the fact that my own mind, at least consciously, had not driven the writing. Before I had the chance to dwell on that too much, I heard the voice of my mother from downstairs calling for supper and so washed my hands and proceeded down to the kitchen. As I sat at the kitchen table, I found that I was not at all that hungry but that I was incredibly thirsty, an intriguing aftereffect of the disembodied experiences that I would come to be quite familiar with.

I wanted to so much to tell them, to tell anyone. I wanted to explain all this to them, but I knew that I had to explain it to myself first. Chances are that they would think I was crazy anyway, and I didn’t feel as if I had much of a defense when it came to that kind of accusation, so I remained silent. After finishing up, I took a walk around the block of our country town with my little micro-cassette recorder at my side, my only ear in my increasingly insane life. I breathed in the air, took in the sounds, felt the hard ground beneath my feet. Though I couldn’t words to it, or much of anything in the realm of the weird I had been thrust into the last few months, what I was doing at the time was trying to ground myself in this reality, try to anchor this newfound awareness. As I walked around, everything seemed to much more beautiful than before, and so much more mysterious. It was akin to what I have heard people describe when they have spoken about watching the sun rise the morning after an acid trip.

Strange things started happening: the computer would inexplicably go off in my presence, light bulbs would burn out when I turned them on. On May 5th, at 11:34 at night, I felt a presence in my room, and two days later, I felt the aliens were near, and later that night I heard choking noises from somewhere in the house. Amidst all this, somewhere within two days following my initial astral projection, despite the fact that I had promptly stopped using the Astral Projection tape, it happened again. Just as before, I became overcome with exhaustion and literally collapsed on my bed. I felt the tingling, the heat, the waving, the rocking and swaying back and fourth, the pulling up and pushing down and then the final phase-out.

Much as had happened the first time, I found myself in a dream-like environment in which I seemed to have blurred senses. On this occasion, however, I was by no means stationary and an active dream narrative developed. I found myself in this huge, old barn, heading towards the car to look for something we had left inside during Christmas. On my way through the old barn, however, I became distracted when a dog walked by and it suddenly triggered a memory of having been in this barn before, where I had been playing hide and seek with a dog just like it. Then I felt the quickening of awareness, and suddenly the world around me blasts to life, and with it my old friend returns, pouncing on me with viciousness. I try to run, but I cannot even move. It was all I could muster to struggle and resist this thing. I try and scream but it just won’t come out. It feels as though something is being jabbed into my ass, something large, and I am in total agony. I try to look around frantically for some place to run, but all I see is a shimmering Christmas tree nearby the far wall. As soon as I focus there, I’m there, shifting back and force again like an idiot with a zoom lens. I shifted to other areas of the barn, though I do not remember where, though I know I returned at least once more to shifting before the Christmas tree.

Remembering my trick from before, I attempted to “remember” and get a sense of my physical body. After some effort, I escaped the brutal force by escaping that environment and ascending back into what I found to be a seemingly dead physical body, just as before, though this time I cannot sense things through my skin. With my bodily senses off, I only had an empty, dead cell to return to.

Though I cannot recall whether I was pulled, forced, slipped or even elected to leave my physical body again, I found myself back down in that otherworldly place, this time in yet another alternate version of my bedroom, where I found myself alone. I took the opportunity to experiment again, trying to look into past memories to see if perhaps they were more accessible in this state. It didn’t prove to be the case. I then tried to “will” the aliens to manifest before me, but I got not even a translucent image as I had in the case of the Rottweiler during the first experience. Out of my peripheral vision, I catch hints of movement and turn to see the door of my room opening, revealing the dark hallway. A shelving unit is pushed to the wall outside my bedroom door on which rests our old set of Encyclopedia Britannica, though I immediately realize that that shelving unit does not exist there anymore in my real house. I also notice, to my confusion, that my field of vision here had something akin to floaters. My observational and experimental passion fizzled out quickly, though, and I begin to grow concerned that the entity had opened the door, though it seemed unlike him to toy with me. After once more trying to visualize the aliens to no avail, I invested all my resources in getting back to my body, however lifeless it had been when I had last left it.

Try as I might, however, I could not seem to find my way back. I always just found myself able to leave the realm I was in, but consequently just find myself back in another realm. An infinite series of alternative realities, it seemed, and I once again experienced the terror of perhaps being stuck in a Chinese box without surface or center, a coffin of the infinite regress. All this horror and the brutal force had not yet found me. When he did, I found myself in an alternate bedroom that was dark and had two versions of my bed on either side of the room. Down on the carpet in the space between them I am being attacked my the entity once more. In the midst of our struggle, I suddenly find myself back inside my physical body again, stretching my nonphysical self into my physical self as if it were three-dimensional clothing.

The war against sleep waged on. From the library, I had received some books on out-of-body experiences and astral projection, and I was desperately trying to find out what it was that was happening to me. Where else did I have to go — a shrink? 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. A friend of mine at school, whom I had explained these out of body experiences to, remarked to me that they sounded strangely of people’s experiences when they took various kind of psychedelic drugs. I wouldn’t even smoke a cigarette or have a beer until I was twenty years of age and already, free of charge or foreign substance, I was having the kinds of experiences spontaneously and against my will that some people paid to have by inhalation, injection or ingestion. And here I did not even feel privileged.

Soon enough, I found myself literally crashing from exhaustion onto my bed again. I awaken in an alternate version of a park that used to be around the block from where we lived when I was younger. As I did my constant-motion attention-diverting around the environment, I did my shifting near a ledge that dropped off into the lake far below. As I tried to wake up, I would find myself instead in the seemingly endless series of alternate realities which in my notes upon awakening I referred to as “conscious levels,” as that is how it felt like I traversed them. Finally, I awakened in an environment that, despite my blurring vision, appeared to be a flea market of some sort. There were rows upon rows of tables, the sense of a lot of activity, and in my low state of awareness, which seemed to be ever-dwindling now, I found myself walking beside someone between the rows of tables. He was trying to hold a conversation with me and seemed agitated that I was lowering in awareness. Incredible irritation and disappointment seemed to swell in him when I finally succeeded in regaining a sense of my physical body and zoomed backwards, away from him.

Then I woke up.