DMT and the Soul of Prophesy: a book review

In his third book, Dr. Strassman returns to lab notes taken during thousands of DMT trips he facilitated while researching his first, the groundbreaking DMT: The Spirit Molecule. This time, having left the Zen temple and returned to his Jewish roots, he makes a very good case that Old Testament (OT) accounts of interactions with spiritual entities are a better match for the phenomenology of the DMT experience than Buddhist descriptions of mystical union with something greater (pp. 22, 54). He also excludes Amazonian shamanism as a model for comparison, though here it is because of its “problematic” morals and culture, where “violent, often murderous, competition for power, prestige, money, and sex is commonplace” (p. 56-7). These are criticisms, however, that could equally be levelled at King Solomon himself or even Yahweh, save for the fact that He prefers milk and honey to money; and religions based on the Bible have not been entirely free of violence and power politics. Regardless of the reason for his choice, having set his parameters Strassman makes a fascinating study at the juncture between OT theology and DMT psychopharmacology, detailing the physical, emotional and informational aspects of altered states as described and interpreted thousands of years ago in Jewish scripture and today in the lab.

The comparisons are compelling, with physical symptoms such as Daniel’s pounding heart, Jeremiah’s gastrointestinal crisis and Habakkuk’s trembling all echoed in the bodies of DMT subjects. DMT trips can occasion feelings of awe, reverence and reassurance similar to those described by the prophets (p. 131), and both subjects and prophets describe visions with the phenomenology of fire (p. 157, 167). On another plane entirely, Jacob wrestled with an entity who dislocated his leg, and one of Strassman’s subjects was pinned down and sodomized by crocodiles. Intelligent, sentient entities appear in both states, as chimeras or visions of hands, eyes and wings, unreal yet more real than real. Voices whisper words of inspiration, healing and guidance amidst glimpses of eternity, resurrection and the world to come (p. 193). The similarities are many and the differences are revealing, including a certain gravity in the prophetic state, and moral and theological guidance that was rarely reported in his clinic…

…read the rest in the current Psychedelic Press Volume XX