Volcano, photo by Franz-Karl von Linden, Munich - 1968
Volcano, photo by Franz-Karl von Linden, Munich - 1968
Angel (Joseph Cornell, 1957)
Emily Dickinson made a book full of dried plants & flowers as a 14-year-old. View more pages of her herbarium here.
© President and Fellows of Harward College. Houghton Library, MS Am 1118.11. Gift of Gilbert H. Montague, 1950. Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Fleetwood Mac- Dreams
ahhh i had never heard this version until now and it is SO BEAUTIFUL
Edouard Manet-In the Conservator (1878 - 1879) (detail)
The Feminine Complex, 1969.
Although each piece of content found within this blog has previously focused exclusively on areas of psychonautics which necessitate the use of hallucinogenic substances, it’s important to note that these are not the only means of exploring profoundly altered states of consciousness available for us as human beings to utilize. There may well be many substances which are extremely capable of inducing profoundly altered states of mind but specifically in terms of the hallucinations and not the accompanying effects, each and every one of these compounds is simply inducing a state of mind during waking consciousness which the brain is already perfectly adept at generating during normal sleep.
These familiar states of mind are recognizable to all of us and known by the scientific literature as dreams. They are defined as successions of hallucinatory images, scenarios, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily within the mind during certain stages of sleep. Although the content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, they have been a topic of scientific speculation as well as philosophical and religious interest throughout many aspects of recorded history. There is also solid scientific evidence which clearly indicates that dreams are a common occurrence throughout the lives of most human beings and other mammals in general.
The reason I am writing this article is for it to serve as a dedicated descriptive breakdown, analysis and instructional guide regarding my extensive knowledge of dreams, the behaviour of their general content, their embedded limitations and most importantly, the skill sets necessary to consciously utilize them as powerful methods of self exploration.
I will begin by defining the individual subcomponents and relevant levelling systems which comprise all dreams before providing instructional information on how to gain, maintain and harness a sense of lucidity within them.
The list below begins with the lower base components and progressively works its way up through the higher individual subcomponents.
Internally Sourced Sensory Input:
The most fundamental and basic component of any dream or hallucinatory state can undoubtedly be defined as some form of perceivable sensory input. This differs from that of everyday sensory input in the way that it is received from an internal source created by one’s own mind as opposed to an external source within the immediately perceivable surrounding environment. The dream scape of a human being is capable of manifesting completely realistic, convincing and detailed equivalents of all 5 senses across varying degrees of vividness and intensity.
These themselves can be broken into 4 differing levels of clarity which are broken down and defined below.
- Imaginative visualization - The lowest level of dreams is extremely common and occurs frequently during waking consciousness on a daily basis. It can be defined as the heightened state of mental visualization that one drifts into when simply daydreaming or using the imagination. This state results in a level of visualization that is mostly felt internally within the mind’s eye instead of visually perceived and can be described as a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy. The generation of the details of this internal visualization are partially autonomous in nature but mostly controlled by the content of one’s current thought stream.
- Partially defined hypnagogia - As one begins to fall asleep, the experience of daydreaming and general imagination begins to progressively heighten and form into what is known by the literature as “hypnagogia”. This is defined as the experience of the transitional state between wakefulness to sleep and generally consists of hearing indistinct noises and seeing faded imagery behind closed eyelids.
- Fully defined hypnagogia - As the vividness and intensity slightly increases, the spontaneous imagery becomes fully defined in its appearance/detail and is now seen within the person’s direct line of sight under closed eyelids. Alongside of this, audible noises such as fleeting voices, music and general auditory hallucinations are often present.
- Partially defined dreams - As the ability to hallucinate increases, random flashes of spontaneous hallucinatory scenarios begin to show themselves. At this level, the hallucinations no longer consist of fleeting imagery on the back of one’s closed eyelids but become sustained as all encompassing settings which surround the dreamer as what feels like a sudden breakthrough into an alternate reality. In terms of sensory vividness the dreams are not completely defined in their appearance or sound. This means that they often display themselves as partially to completely blurred and transparent. Along side of this the dreamers physical body will also still feel at least partially connected to the real world. Other senses touch as touch, taste and smell seem to be extremely vague or entirely absent altogether.
- Fully defined dreams - At this level, all five of the senses are replicated perfectly as the dream becomes completely realistic and indistinguishable from that of everyday reality in terms of the detail and sensory vividness which they provide. These sensations are equally capable of including both positive sensations such as sexual orgasm and negative sensations such as pain and physical bodily harm.
In terms of the perspective in which dreams are perceived through, just like literary plots, dreams can be experienced through four alternate vantage points which are described and listed below.
- 1st person - this is the most common form of dream and can be described as the perfectly normal experience of perceiving the scenario from the perspective of one’s everyday self and body.
- 2nd person - this can be described as the experience of perceiving the dream from the perspective of an external source of consciousness such as another person, an animal or an inanimate object.
- 3rd person - this is essentially an out-of-body experience and can be described as perceiving the dream from a perspective which is floating above, below, behind, or in front of the dreamer’s physical body. It is worth noting that for unknown reasons, many people consistently and exclusively dream in the third person perspective.
- 4th person - this is particularly rare but entirely possible and can be described as the experience of perceiving the dream from the perspective of multiple vantage points simultaneously.
At level 4 - 5 dreams consistently manifest themselves through the essential component of extremely detailed imagined landscapes, locations and sceneries of an infinite variety. These exist for the purpose of acting as the setting in which the plot of the dream occurs. The geography of these settings is capable of rendering itself as static and coherent in organization but will usually result in a non-linear, nonsensical and continuously ever-changing layout which does not obey the rules of everyday physics. In terms of the chosen locations, appearance and style of these settings, they seem to be selected at random and are often entirely new and previously unseen locations.
They do however play a heavy emphasis on replicating and combining real life locations stored within the dreamer’s memories, especially those which are prominent within one’s life and daily routine.
Within the settings themselves, relevant and irrelevant objects or props will be placed in appropriate but sometimes inappropriate locations throughout them. These can be interacted with in exactly the same way that any real life object can and can often react in unexpected and spontaneous ways (but usually behave exactly as the dreamer expects them to).
Across the setting of almost any dream, the scenery is inhabited and populated by conscious dream characters who can be spoken to and communicated with in extreme amounts of detail. These entities generally appear to be the inhabitants of a perceived independent reality - they are expectant of your appearance and interact with the dreamer in various ways.
In terms of their appearance, dream characters can show themselves as literally anything but will usually display themselves as perfectly ordinary people. These people are equally likely to be complete strangers or randomly selected people which the dreamer has encountered throughout their life. The more prominent and emotionally significant the person is, the more likely they are to be encountered within the dream scape.
There are distinctly different types of dream characters which one may encounter, each of which represent a particular subsection of one’s own consciousness through both their visible form and their personality. These can be broken down into 3 separate categories and include:
- Representations of the self - The simplest form of dream character can be described as simply a mirror of ones own personality. It can take any visible form but clearly adopts an obviously identical vocabulary and set of mannerisms to ones own personality when conversed with.
- Representations of specific concepts - This category of dream character is by far the most varied type in terms of its visual form and immediately perceivable personality. It can be identified as a simulated representation of any internally stored concept and adopts an appropriate personality to fit this to an amazing degree of accurate detail. For example this specific concept could include people you have met throughout your life, fictional characters or symbolic representations of abstract concepts such as emotions or key parts of one’s own personality.
- Representations of the subconscious - This category of dream character can take any visible form but adopts the personality of what seems to be a conscious controller behind the continuous generation of the details behind one’s own dream scape and internally stored model of reality. When conversed with it usually adopts an attitude which wants to teach or guide the dreamer and assumes that it knows what is best for them.
When communicated with through spoken word the level of coherency in which these entities can reply with is highly variable but can be broken down into 4 distinct levels of communication:
- Silence - this level can be defined as a complete unresponsiveness from the side of the dream character and an incapability of speech despite their obvious presence within the dream.
- Partially defined incoherent speech - this level can be defined as audible linguistic conversational responses and noises which sound like words but do not contain any real content or meaning beyond a vague sense of emotional intent.
- Fully defined incoherent speech - this level can be defined as audible linguistic conversational responses and noises which contain fully defined and understandable words but often lack grammatical structure or general coherency.
- Fully defined coherent speech - this level can be defined as audible linguistic conversational responses and noises which contain fully defined and understandable words as well as fully defined grammatical structure and general coherency which conveys its point on a level which is on par with the dreamer’s own intellect.
Scenarios and plots:
Each of the above components are randomly shuffled and spliced into any number of an infinite variety of potential plots and scenarios. These may be positive or negative to experience and are difficult to define in a comprehensive manner in much the same way that we cannot predict the plot of abstract literature and films. They can however be broken down into extremely basic occurrences which generally entail visiting some sort of setting, or a number of them which contain within them, interactive, multiple, or lone dream characters. Alongside of these, completely unpredictable plot devices, events and occurrences, force the dreamer to become involved within the specific scenario of the particular dream.
These scenarios and plots can be linear and logical with events that occur in a rational sequence which lead onto each other through cause and effect. They are equally likely however to present themselves as completely nonsensical and incoherent. This means that the plot will occur with spontaneous events which are capable of ending, starting and changing between each other repeatedly in quick succession and as they please. The plots themselves can either be entirely new experiences that are unlike anything experienced within the real world, old experiences such as accurate memory replays or a combination of the two.
In terms of the amount of time in which they are experienced, hallucinatory dream plots and scenarios usually feel as if they are being experienced in real-time. This means that when 20 seconds have been felt to have passed within the hallucination, the exact same amount of time will have passed in the real world. At other points, however, distortions of time can make themselves present, resulting in plots and scenarios that can feel as if they literally last days, weeks, months, years, or even infinitely long periods of time.
An important part of any dream which entails obviously unlikely and absurd scenarios is a strong sense of uncontrollable and powerful plot acceptance. This sense of plot acceptance allows the dreamer to accept any plot as it comes as a completely real event in which the results of one’s own actions will have genuine consequences regarding the dreamer’s life. This delirium motivates the dreamer to avoid danger, solve puzzles and accept the scenario as reality even if it is clearly and undeniably more likely to be a dream than an event which could ever occur within real life.
Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which people, either when falling asleep or wakening, temporarily experience an inability to move. More formally, it is a transition state between wakefulness and rest characterized by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness). It can occur at sleep onset or upon awakening, and it is often associated with terrifying visions and external hallucinations (e.g. an intruder in the room or a demon sitting on ones chest), to which one is unable to react due to paralysis. It is believed a result of disrupted REM sleep, which is normally characterized by complete muscle atonia that prevents individuals from acting out their dreams.
Many people find sleep paralysis to be a horrific and negative experience but it can be easily escaped by simply changing the rythm of ones breathing. When you change your breathing pattern, such as breathing much more deeply and longer, for about 15 seconds your body will notice the change and automatically exit sleep paralysis.
Lucid dreaming techniques:
Despite powerful senses of delirium and plot acceptance, there are however moments within dreams in which a person realizes that they are dreaming and takes control of the situation. These are known as lucid dreams and are formally defined as any dream in which for an uninterrupted and prolonged amount of time, one is consciously aware that they are dreaming.
The second half of this article will focus not on defining the principles behind the physics and behaviour of the dream scape but on gaining a stabilized sense of lucidity within ones own dreams and the techniques for utilizing and harnessing specific control and navigation techniques once this has been achieved.
Improving memory recall:
- One of the biggest hurdles that some people encounter when learning to lucid dream is that they cannot remember their dreams in the first place. This is easily reversed and does not indicate an inability to dream but simply means that the dreamer’s brain does not focus any attention on memorizing them once they are over. The most effective methods of reversing this are listed and detailed below:
- Keeping a dream journal - Writing out any and all details within a daily dream log will drastically improve your ability to recall your own dreams. This should preferably be done first thing in the morning if at all possible and quickly shifts your memory into one which is attentive to its own dreams. The writing style should be in the first person and in present tense to further improve your ability to recall the specific plot as you write it down. If you did not dream the previous night, simply write down “I did not dream last night” and continue to do so as your recall improves over time.
- Use memory signifiers - If you are prone to waking up in the middle of the night and find that you can remember a dream that you will forget the moment you fall back asleep, simply arrange an object of some sort so that is clearly out of place in a way that you will notice in the morning. This can be as simple as turning an empty glass of water upside down or putting a small object on your computer keyboard. This may seem silly but will act as a powerful memory trigger when you see it the next day and allow you to write the dream down in your journal.
- Stop smoking marijuana before sleep - It is common knowledge among stoners that weed suppresses dreaming. This is further backed up by scientific study which indicates that smoking marijuana inhibits REM activity during sleep and therefore suppresses dreams. Once a person stops smoking marijauna before bed however, REM activity undergoes a rebound effect and dreams will become temporarily more vivid than ever before.
In order to determine whether or not you are dreaming, it is necessary to develop a habit of performing frequent reality checks. A reality check simply involves asking yourself a question, such as “Am I dreaming?” or “Is this a dream?”, alongside of a specific action which is capable of determining if you are awake or dreaming.
Because most of us are not in the habit of asking ourselves “Am I dreaming?” while in the midst of a dream, we must train ourselves to get into the habit of questioning our reality if we want to achieve a state of lucidity throughout them. By training yourself to habitually question your reality during waking life to determine whether or not you are dreaming, the habit will eventually carry over to your dreaming life and ultimately you will find yourself posing the question while dreaming. When that happens, if you learnt to really ask and focus yourself on this question alongside of a habitually performed reality check you will greatly increase the odds of realizing you are within a dream and thus increase the odds of achieving lucidity.
There are many simple reality checks that can be used to accurately determine whether or not you are currently dreaming and these are listed below:
- Pushing your thumb into the palm of your hand - During a dream, if one is to push their thumb into the palm of their other hand and exert pressure, it will pass straight through the hand and come out onto the other side. This can be used to determine whether or not one is dreaming very reliably.
- Double taking / rereading text and clocks - During a dream, if one decides to read text or check the time on a clock, upon further examination it will be shown to be unreadable. This means that every time one looks away and looks back, the information will change repeatedly, appear as nonsensical or never keep still. This can be used to determine whether or not one is dreaming very reliably.
- Counting your fingers - During a dream, if one is to look at their hand and attempt to count their fingers, they will quickly realize it is impossible. The amount of fingers may constantly change or simply remain somehow intrinsically uncountable. This can be used to determine whether or not one is dreaming very reliably.
- Pinching your nose and breathing - During a dream, if one tightly pinches their nose shut and attempts to breath, they will find that they can breath through their nose as normal regardless. This can be used to determine whether or not one is dreaming very reliably.
In order to gain the best results possible, these reality checks should be performed habitually every time the situation changes and on a daily basis. For example, every time one walks through a door or enters a new environment a reality check should be performed, every time one talks to a new person or simply remembers that they they may well be dreaming a reality check should be performed. If this is done 10 - 30 times a day the habit will quickly spill over into ones own dreams.
An excellent way to remind oneself to perform reality checks is to put notes containing messages such as “are you dreaming?” or “perform a reality check” in places which you frequently look at throughout the day. For example, putting a visible note by your computer screen, writing a message on your hand or changing your desktop wallpaper to the image found here will greatly improve ones own sense of general lucidity.
Once lucidity has been achieved the dreamer will usually have a tendency to become very excited as the realization that one is dreaming washes over them. This flood of emotions rapidly results in dream destabilization and quickly causes the setting to begin to collapse in on itself and the dreamer either wakes up or falls unconscious before losing lucidity and finding themselves back within another dream.
This can be extremely frustrating but easily overcome through the stabilization technique which is quite literally as simple as maintaining sensory input through the basic action of rubbing ones hands together. When the dreamer begins to rapidly rub their hands together the sensory input somehow keeps the dream perfectly stable and grounded. This can be further taken advantage of by continuously rubbing ones shoulder with their hand to maintain sensory input while walking around and admiring or exploring the scenery.
Activities and control techniques:
Once lucidity has been gained and the dream has been stabilized, the dreamer can now begin to practise taking control of the dream and exploring their own mind. Through the power of expecting an action or task to work, anything is possible within the dream scape and this can allow for some truly incredible experiences in which the only limit is ones own imagination. The most common of these actions and the techniques behind achieving them are listed out below:
- Enhancing clarity and detail - If the dream is blurred and low in clarity or detail (level 3) one can enhance and improve these factors (level 4) by verbally stating aloud “enhance visual clarity” and simply expecting it to work.
- Spawning objects - If one desires to spawn objects such as vehicles, weapons, food, people or anything else this can be done through two different methods. The first is walking into a room and simply expecting to find the object in a particular location and the second is drawing the vague shape of the desired object in the air with ones hands whilst verbally commanding the object into existence through expectant dialogue such as “A jetpack is going to appear in front of me”. The more specific the detail of the request, the more accurately the object will fit your desires when it spawns.
- Travelling to new locations - If one desires to travel to a new location besides the one they are currently in there are two methods through which this can be done. The first of these is to spawn a door by drawing its shape in the air and stating clearly where you would like it take you before walking through it. A quick example of this would be the statement “this door is going to take me to my childhood home”. The second is to verbally state where you would like to visit whilst spinning around in circles, once you have stopped spinning you should find yourself in the desired location. The more detailed the request, the more accurate the outcome will be.
- Flying - Most people enjoy flying around in dreams. There are different styles of flight that people use, each with a varied level of success for each individual. Methods such as swimming through the air as if it were water, “Superman style” (one arm outstretched), “Airplane style” (both arms out) and “bird style” (gliding through the wind, flapping your arms to navigate air currents) are often used. There are a few methods of getting up into the air, such as simply jumping (you can jump really high in dreams if you believe it) or simply willing your body to rise into the air. Perhaps the easiest method of flying is to use a tool, this can be done by summoning a jetpack or using a stick found on the floor as a magical broom stick (harry potter style).
- Shape shifting - Most people try to shape shift into animals or creatures by wilfully changing their body parts one by one. This is ineffective as the body changes back quicker than one can complete the process. A much quicker and more effective route is to turn the transformation into an instant process by spawning a tool which will help you to transform. An excellent example of this would be to spawn a magical transformation pill which can be swallowed or perhaps a magical wand which can be waved in order to instantly transform you into your desired form.
- Having sex - Many people learn to lucid dream purely for the sex which it offers. This can be difficult as it is often very challenging to maintain lucidity during the act of dream sex and the chosen partner may shift into an undesirable form half way through. In order to have sex within a lucid dream, all one needs to do is simply initiate it with a dream character, they will be perfectly compliant and orgasms which are far more powerful than those found within waking life are completely attainable with practise.
- Body swapping - To swap bodies with another person simply climb into them from behind and wear them over your skin like a wet suit. The most interesting application of this technique is the way in which it allows you to experience extremely convincing and detailed sex/orgasm as the opposite gender.
- Taking drugs - An excellent way to change the course of the dream is to ingest drugs which you may or may not have tried in real life. This will result in inducing the expected effects without any real ingestion of the drug itself but is extremely limited and incapable when it comes to psychedelic visual geometry.
- Eating food - Another great past time or activity to explore within the dream scape is eating food. This results in food which tastes even richer and more detailed than any food found within real life and is extremely pleasurable.
Alternative/Advance LD techniques:
- Finger Induced Lucid Dreaming (FILD) - FILD is defined as waking up from sleep, then doing light repetitive movements with the fingers as if one were playing the piano with their index and middle finger and allowing the body to drift off to sleep while the mind stays quiet, but conscious, until a dream is perceived, the process lasting usually between several seconds and a few minutes.
- Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) - A technique in which you maintain consciousness while your body falls asleep. Not for the squeamish. It can be read about in detail here.
- Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dream (MILD) - In short, MILD is telling yourself as you are in bed ready to sleep that you are going to become lucid when you dream, then visualizing yourself in a dream becoming lucid. Repeat until you fall asleep.
- All Day Awareness (ADA) - Is a technique which involves maintaining complete mindful focus on the present moment, all day amd every day. This allows one to remain completely aware even when they are dreaming and is perhaps the most effective but effort intensive lucid dreaming technique. It can be read about in detail here.
Analysis and conclusion:
It has taken me over 2 years of practical first hand research and experimentation to reach a point where I can comprehensively define the physics behind everyday hallucinatory sleeping dream states. Although the evolutionary and neurological purpose behind the existence of these states remains a mystery to modern science, I would like to use this article as an opportunity to suggest a personal hypothesis. Through first hand experience with the nature and behaviour of these states, it seems to me that dreams are simply a neurological computer simulation framework comprised of internally stored concepts which one encounters throughout their life. This randomizes, shuffles and splices its particular set of memories, concepts and variables together in a completely unpredictable and spontaneous fashion, existing for the simple and basic purpose of generating potential scenarios which one may encounter in life as a means of internal practise to encourage survival should the potential event occur in real life. This would explain why dreams play such a huge emphasis on ones own fears and desires and indicates that they therefore serve a fundamentally important evolutionary function.
I would encourage everybody to learn how to lucid dream as once learned, the techniques behind this skill offer anybody the opportunity to explore extremely vivid hallucinatory scenarios of infinite variety and hyper-realism with god-like powers of control which are only limited by the dreamer’s imagination. Depending on the level of dedication involved, these experiences can occur on a nightly basis and effectively open up a completely new and profoundly rich field of experience to one’s life in place of that which was previously a purely unconscious activity.
I et II) Chris Marker- La Jetée ,1962.
La Planète sauvage,fantastic french scifi movie ♥