Artists, Synchronicities, Tulpas, Psychedelics, and Altered States
by: Brent Raynes
Andy Colvin, the author of The Mothman Speaks, grew up in West Virginia and back during the Mothman ruckus of the 1960s he and his family had a variety of Mothman, UFO and paranormal related experiences, and it was soon afterwards that young Colvin suddenly discovered that he could draw, sing, and take pictures – even developed a photographic memory – and was later even offered a scholarship to Harvard University. In addition to these suddenly surprising and spontaneous talents, Andy also admitted to me (like the scores of people I described in my last column) to having what is called synesthesia.
Synesthesia does not seem altogether that uncommon among experiencers. “I had the urge to purchase a typewriter and teach myself to type,” a colleague I had worked with for years in the “alien abduction” field confided to me. “In 1960, I accomplished this, and went on to business school sometime later. When I typed a glow could be seen over my hands. Sometimes it was blue, sometimes green and other times purple. I knew that someone was helping me.” My colleague had a daughter who had a close encounter in 1988, after which she felt she was developing psychically afterwards. “I see auras and have dizzy spells prior to earthquake activity,” the daughter told me. “I also see what I call ‘ashen’ people. They appear all gray, (the) hair, clothes, (within) the color ‘bubble’ that is around them. They are outstanding from the rest of most everyday people because of their lack of color. I have come to realize these people are close to death, somehow, and are soon to cross over.” The legendary inventor genius Nikola Tesla was likely a synesthete. In a 1921 interview he was quoted saying: “During my boyhood I suffered from a particular affliction due to the appearances of images, which were often accompanied by strong flashes of light. When a word was spoken, the image of the object designated would present itself so vividly to my vision that I could not tell whether what I saw was real or not. … Even though I reached out and passed my hand through the image, it would remain fixed in space.” Years later, Tesla would find this mental ability very helpful in his work to invent things. He stated, “Before I put a sketch on paper, the whole idea is worked out mentally. In my mind I change the construction, make improvements, and even operate the device. Without ever having drawn a sketch I can give the measurements of all parts to workmen, and when completed all these parts will fit, just as certainly as though I had made the actual drawings. It is immaterial to me whether I run my machine in my mind or test it in my shop.”
Mental images can be so convincing that they are believed by their viewers that they are physically real when they’re not (at least in the conventional sense). These “visions” may involve multiple persons. They clearly represent another level of perceptual reality that mainstream science and society is largely unfamiliar with. “Apart from collective visions, there are on record cases where one or more persons see something that physically is not there,” acclaimed Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung wrote in his book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (1959). “For instance, I was once at a spiritualistic séance where four of the five people present saw an object like a moon floating above the abdomen of the medium. They showed me, the fifth person present, exactly where it was, and it was absolutely incomprehensible to them that I could see nothing of the sort.”
California psychotherapist Dr. Kirby Surprise delved deeply into the controversial concept known as synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), a term that originated with Dr. Jung, who first presented a book on this subject, entitled Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, back in 1952.
While Jung perceived synchronicity as connected with his concept of archetypes of the collective unconscious (as opposed to the free will components of our personal unconscious), Dr. Surprise finds that “archetypes” is just another thing that if you look for it you’ll find it and that Jung’s preoccupation with the archetypal psychological model was flawed. “Jung was grasping at straws,” Dr. Surprise wrote. “He did not want to publicly say people can affect the world around them. He knew most of his peers would consider this, well, nuts.” But Dr. Surprise doesn’t consider it “nuts”, and in fact states that “the idea of archetypes will just get in your way.”
Dr. Surprise describes in his book Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind, how we can use our internal psychological states to actually effect external events in our lives. He presents a lot of thought-provoking information on the subject, detailing how to go about using synchronicity to improve and empower our lives, weaving together many interconnecting elements from many different perspectives, be it from quantum physics to ancient mysticism. To me, one of the most intriguing chapters in his book, and one that will no doubt be the most controversial with many, was chapter 10, entitled Tulpaware Party. Here he repeats the Alexandra David-Neel story of her travels in Tibet and the “tulpa” (thought-form) she claimed to have created in the form of a man in a friars robe. Surprise provides several examples from his own life where he himself created such “thought-forms,” just for fun, including a short three foot tall raptor (influenced by his watching the movie Jurassic Park) with a turned backward baseball cap, a lot of gold bling, and diamonds in his teeth. “It’s programmed to hang out in the den and greet people,” he wrote. “Of course, nobody sees him. Almost nobody. Last year my daughter’s friend Rose went into my den to look for something, and came out rattled and upset. She’s a little high strung anyway. She said there was a giant lizard in my room. It jumped up and greeted her like a puppy dog. She said it was some kind of dinosaur. Some things are only funny if you have a sense of humor.” He also recounted an earlier episode, in fact the first time he had created a “tulpa,” when he and his wife were working different shifts and the apartment they were living in seemed empty when she wasn’t around, so having just read David-Neel’s book he decided to create his own thought-form to keep him company. The problem was he forgot to tell his wife and when she encountered it, she was very upset with him and ordered him to “get rid of it”! “My wife now gives me permission to create whatever I want, but it has to stay in my den,” Dr. Surprise added.
In more than one study, using EEG (electroencephalogram) monitoring equipment and two volunteers located in separate rooms, researchers have reported that when these volunteers were asked to feel each other’s presence, then their brain waves would begin to synchronize. Could such brain wave synchronization account for the numerous reported instances of synchronicity, telepathy, and assorted paranormal phenomena? Do certain groups of people come upon, so to speak, the same mental wavelength brought on by common goals, motivations, interests, and life experiences?
Back in October 1975, I investigated an intriguing close encounter case involving two young men (ages 18 and 21) up near Oxford, Maine. Researcher Shirley Fickett of Portland and Jim Carey of Windsor worked with me on this case. Besides a close encounter the two young men had with a large elongated craft that rose up from a cornfield, the case also involved very strange distortions of reality (i.e., a lake that on this occasion inexplicably looked more like an ocean instead, with an island that wasn’t really there), along with visionary type perceptions shortly after the UFO encounter (i.e., black cubes and spheres and white silver spheres flying through the air; a red face-like outline; a black cube-shaped object that seemed to be “tumbling” in the air inside a home, disappearing into a nearby wall; “golden wires” that appeared and then disappeared near a TV set) along with poltergeist type activity (i.e., three knocks on a front door, an unseen man’s voice saying “UFO”; one of the young men reported seeing an ashtray rise up about a foot off a table and then drop back down, etc.). Over the weeks and months that followed, the area seemed to have a significant amount of UFO activity. The nearby community of Norway even assigned a deputy to investigate the reports. Months later, a UFO experiencer and assistant librarian (who I had been in touch with for years) up in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, about 115 miles from Oxford, allowed me to review her journal entries regarding a series of unusual “visions” she began having on October 26, 1975 (the day before the Oxford case began). Some of her “visions” reminded me of those from the Oxford case (i.e., “a black silver square…with a big thick tail behind it”; “red helmet…reddish face of a man”; “A ball of yellow light size of a tea cup appeared on our TV set. The light got extremely bright….The globe of light began to fade and just as quickly it would brighten again…I noticed that under the light there was a shadowy object like a square and to the left of it were other things in motion like arms and hands. The phenomenon lasted about 5 minutes”; “a man..wearing a hat with stripes going around it…in the next instance…a UFO in black with a narrow band in the middle of it”, etc.).
It may be all a huge type of “coincidence” but in May 1981, as I was pondering about certain unusual hypnagogic imagery I myself had experienced, including a white haired old man sitting at a heart-shaped table that I feared might represent my father (who died of a heart attack on Sept. 5, 1984), the Dover-Foxcroft experiencer wrote me that since her “last UFO sighting” she seemed “to have lost the privilege of visions”. Her last vision, she explained, had been of a table with people surrounding it. She also mentioned how after this “vision” she perceived the words from the 23rd Psalm, which had been read at her mom’s funeral two years earlier. Curiously, just a few days before receiving this letter, I had commented to my wife how memorizing the 23rd Psalm as a young boy might have conditioned me toward some of the symbolic mental imagery I had been perceiving recently as an adult and how I might have been influenced by this Biblical passage in ways I was not fully aware of.
I should perhaps mention too that shortly before the Oxford investigation (three weeks or so?) I found myself at a spiritual crossroads. I prayed that God could give me a sign that would grant me some meaningful perception of the proverbial spiritual truth behind my life, adding that I didn’t want it to be anything that would scare me though. Two nights later I had an incredible though brief experience. I cannot be sure if it was an extremely lucid waking kind of dream, an OOBE, or a visionary state, but I felt the proverbial “sensed presence” that Micheal Persinger refers to, as I felt guided (I felt someone was behind me, but I never even tried to turn and look) to a spot in my bedroom from which I would perceive what looked like hundreds of marble sized pulsating white clear balls of light swarming around. There wasn’t any fear whatsoever, which was unusual considering what I was “seeing.” Then I found myself back in bed, looking up at the ceiling, feeling surprised as I really had felt that I was physically up on my feet seeing all of this. It was very brief. A few seconds? Around this time there seemed to be quite a bit of synchronicity in my life too.
For centuries, shamanic and mystical tradition and lore has described mysterious inner lights and illuminations that would reportedly enable experiencers and practitioners to eventually see auras, spirits, enter “other worlds” or “visionary” states or assorted supernatural realms in general. A fellow paranormal investigator, experiencer, and shamanic practitioner recently shared details of an inner “green light that seems to morph into different symbols (and) animals” from her own experience. “There have been times when raising my vibration that this light becomes multi-colored and I can see it with my eyes open. I came to realize that when I saw this type of light outside of meditation it would take on a definite shape and become somewhat of an alert system that someone I knew needed spiritual help. For instance, I began several years ago counseling someone just coming into their spiritual gifts and often they would encounter something that confused them. Rather than pick up the phone and call me because I was at work, I would see this multi-colored lightning bolt. I would then know that this person needed me and would call them straight away. It became common to see this light in different shapes associated with different people. With one it was a lightning bolt, with another it became the shape of a bear, with another it became a golden-hued grasshopper, and with yet another a horse.” Again, this description is very similar to synesthesia, but with a paranormal twist to it.
However, again the “inner light” also may manifest outwardly and be perceived by others, as in the case for example of an Eskimo shaman named Kritdlarssuark. Reportedly a bright flame would be seen hovering over him as he would lead companions in search of distant people on a train of dog sleighs.
Besides forms of meditation and vision quests, ancient shamanic practitioners also used certain mind-altering substances to guide them to these alternate realms. An American ethnobotanist named Mark Plotkin wrote about how while he was visiting with the Yanomamo Indians of Venezuela he tried their hallucinogenic snuff known as epena. During his epena-induced entrancement he would glimpse “little men” at the edge of his visual field dancing. When he questioned a shaman there about what he had seen he was told that they were known to them as the “hekura,” forest spirits. The powerful DMT (dimethyltryptamine) laden ayahuasca plant mixtures of Peru, which plays a central role in that countries shamanic traditions, has generated numerous and vivid visions among shamanic practitioners who describe seeing fairies, giants, spirits of the dead, and UFOs. Author Michael Craft, in his book Alien Impact, describes how he and others were gathered at a desert location with a guide who was instructing them on how to smoke a synthetic form of DMT. They were told how after two or three hits they should lay down. “At that point, you will see a mandala of light that I call the ‘chrysanthemum,’ their guide instructed. “When something pulls you into the chrysanthemum, let go and you will find yourself in another world.”
“I laid back, observed the wheel of light, and went in as instructed,” Craft wrote. “To my astonishment, I found myself in a sunlit land of glowing, bejeweled ‘gardens’ filled with dancing fairies and elves, right out of the film Fantasia. The air was filled with the warbling, munchkin-like songs of the joyful beings. It did not seem imaginary or hallucinatory at all.” Although it seemed like the experience had lasted about an hour, Craft noted that in reality only about ten minutes had elapsed. “I felt like I was physically there,” Craft noted.
DMT experiencers commonly feel that way. In fact, this is the reason that Dr. Rick Strassman, a New Mexico psychiatrist and the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2001), consulted with a quantum physicist, as he began to wonder if indeed some 60 program volunteers, in a federally funded study of the effects of DMT that he oversaw at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque (1990-1995), weren’t possibly seeing and somehow interacting with something from a parallel world. In the beginning, he “expected mystical and near-death” images to emerge from these sessions, but the “beings” reported to him took him by surprise. There were even a number of “more typical ‘alien abduction’ scenarios” that emerged, “with being transported through space into hypertechnological vessels or laboratories, being tested and probed, having things inserted, and the like.”
“I tried and then abandoned a number of different models to explain these experiences, both to me and to the volunteers,” Dr. Strassman told me in an interview. “Psychological, brain chemistry, Jungian archetypes, and the like. However, interpreting these experiences, which the volunteers uniformly described as more real than real, as something ‘else,’ closed down channels of communication. So, I started responding to their stories as if they were real. I found out a lot more that way.”
“Later, when I had some time to think about the nature of these stories, I began speculating about how DMT might provide our consciousness access to realms such as dark matter and parallel universes.”
“At least 95 percent of the mass of the universe is dark-doesn’t reflect or generate light. We know it’s there by its effect on the shape of the universe; that is, by its gravitational effects. It makes sense to me that this matter, which is most likely streaming through us at all times, is inhabited. We’re spending trillions of dollars trying to find dark matter with high tech machines buried miles underground. Our brain is much more sophisticated than any machine we can build, and if consciousness can change through changing brain chemistry, I wonder if indeed we might be able to perceive, with the aid of DMT’s effects, things we normally don’t see, but which are around us all the time.”
As the long arm of coincidence would have it, after reading in Dr. Strassman’s book about how acoustical vibrations, say caused by chanting or toning, might cause a significant shake-up in brain chemistry (he specifically was interested in the pineal gland, a tiny organ in the brain that regulates in us significant sleep/wake cycles) I wanted his opinion on something I had been working with and what his thoughts might be about its possible effects in this regard. It was a long shot, but I mentioned to him in an email about the psychoacoustical effects that a good number of people had described after blowing the pre-Columbian (or functional replicas of the) Peruvian Whistling Vessels. As it turned out, he had heard them, and it was through someone I had not only conversed with by both email and phone about the whistles, but even purchased a set of four from him that he had made, and, by coincidence, this same person had not only come to his home and demonstrated them, but he had been one of the 60 who had participated in his DMT study! “They are very strange indeed,” Dr. Strassman admitted. “By all accounts, their effects are very psychedelic.”
The cause? “It’s likely endogenous psychedelics are released thereby—DMT, 5-methox-DMT, etc.” When I questioned him about DMT, if it had been established yet that DMT was truly present in the pineal gland, he wrote: “No. Nothing hard and firm. It’s elusive, that’s for sure.” But Dr. Strassman has many reasons for strongly suspecting a DMT link.
I find it more than a little interesting that this inner “blue light” (mentioned in my last column), that I and others have perceived, is reportedly also used by some advanced meditators to guide them into “higher states of consciousness.” According to investigative mythologist William Henry, in his book Oracle of the Illuminati, this inner light was called the Blue Apple in the Languedoc region of southern France, the Blue Pearl by Swami Muktananda, or the Blue Stone by some shamanic people.
Again, returning to Peru, there are the Wachuma (San Pedro cactus) ceremonies, another plant containing DMT. “UFOs are sighted almost daily in Peru,” Mark Pinkham, a Peruvian researcher and spiritual tour guide explained to me. “One of the places we go to for Wachuma ceremonies, Marca Wasi, is famous for its UFO activity. One of the guides there, Omar, told me he encountered four blond haired men there wearing seamless white suits. When he approached them he realized that their faces were mutated and that they weren’t from this world. He didn’t stick around for introductions even though they kept calling him to come back. During one of our Wachuma ceremonies we all saw a huge red light descend from the sky and sit right in front of us for awhile. It seemed to be alive with consciousness and studying us. Eventually it moved backwards from us and merged into the night time sky.”
With tongue slightly planted in cheek, I might suggest that perhaps the “aliens” are into psychedelic plants too? Maybe they have a vested interest in helping to promote their further usage by us? But for what purpose? To lessen the gulf between our worlds by fostering transformative consciousness (and genetic?) altering changes and/or experiences within us?
For sure it’s all a big challenge to my reality checking efforts….but there are certainly a lot of interesting dots that seemingly need connecting!