The Sonoran desert toad doesn’t look especially psychedelic. Lacking the fetal-mandala shape of the peyote plant or the alien-lantern-glow hue of some magic mushrooms, its physical form gives little hint of the treasures it carries. Only after smoking the dried sap of its glands does one recognize this humble little amphibian as a Trojan horse for the Divine Force, smuggling the cosmos’ most carefully guarded secrets in its secretions.
The critter in question is Bufo alvarius, a toad native to the Sonoran Desert, which spans regions of Northwestern Mexico, Arizona and California. Bufo’s glands are rich with what is widely considered to be the most powerful psychedelic compound on the planet: 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine). Not to be confused with N,N-DMT (more commonly known simply as DMT), 5-MeO-DMT can also be found in various plant species, as well as in synthetic form.
Author/professor Martin W. Ball, PhD has given 5-MeO the nickname “The God Molecule” in honor of its ability to deliver the most prized of mystical experiences: an encounter with the Ultimate. Ball spoke with awe of his first such encounter in a 2015 interview for Reset.
“From my perspective, this clearly was an experience of God,” he explained. “This wasn’t just some psychedelic realm or some curious mental state; this was a full immersion into absolute, infinite being.”
Paul Dobson, cohost of The Nonduality Podcast, had an equally powerful 5-MeO initiation. “The first thing that came into my head was: This is God,” he recalls in this unforgettable Q&A. “You cease being this little self, and you become the All, which I think is the original meaning of the word God: the whole life force, the whole power behind this manifestation, behind everything. There’s just sort of no doubt about that… It was this sort of all-pervading presence that also was myself, with this blinding, powerful light… and you are this light.”
For many 5-MeO voyagers, divisions between “self” and “other” dissolve in this infinite white light. There is often an instantaneous understanding—or, perhaps more accurately, a remembrance—that all apparently separate phenomena stem from a single awareness.
“I went Home,” life coach Kijana Martin says of her breakthrough 5-MeO experience in a talk titled My Bufo Journey. “I went back to Source Energy… In every possible direction, my being connected with all that is, was, and ever will be. I was Home… And in that time, I learned that we are all connected—all of us are part of this one thing.”
This ecstatic reunion with what Martin calls “Source Energy” is frequently accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love. It is also common for journeyers to feel a sense of timelessness—an unmistakable knowing that the limitations of time and space are illusory.
In his book Tryptamine Palace, the late James Oroc wrote of a sound that is often heard during a full-release 5MDE (his handy abbreviation for “5-MeO-DMT experience”):
It is pure otherworldly angel music, which I can only describe with the word Aum (or Om): the primordial noise, the Logos, or original sound of creation. This is a transcendental note into which I effortlessly dissolve.
Many accounts of 5-MeO-induced union with the Absolute are virtually indistinguishable from descriptions of Nirvikalpa Samadhi in Hindu texts. As defined by Yogapedia.com, this is a state in which “the ego and samskaras (mental or emotional impressions) dissolve, leaving behind only pure consciousness. It is considered to be a state of being at one with the Divine, in which Atman (the individual self) and Brahman (universal consciousness) merge.”
Similarly, the Bardo Thodol (the Buddhist text known in the west as The Tibetan Book of the Dead) describes a “pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns.” The book’s author, the Indian mystic Padmasambhava, urges, “Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.”
In light of the fact that The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a description of and guide to the stages that consciousness goes through after death, it’s worth asking if the “God encounters” many people report having on 5-meO-DMT could be none other than glimpses of the Hereafter.
Adding to that suspicion are the frequently reported commonalities between 5MDEs and near-death experiences (NDEs). Among these, as James Oroc noted in his aforementioned Tryptamine Palace, are visions of a tunnel of light and “the feeling of crossing through a gate into a new locality.”
The following account of a near-death experience from Treecia Richie, founder of the Portland, OR branch of the International Association of Near-Death Studies, could easily pass for a 5MDE report:
I felt completely surrounded and taken up in an indescribably warm and loving Omnipresence of Light… IT was me and IT was not me. I was IT and I was not IT… I knew myself to be preciously priceless to this Presence of Light and Sound, as if I was an atom of IT. A drop of the ocean is the essence of the ocean, though not the ocean… I simply, totally knew and loved IT, within and about me, as IT knew and loved me. There was no space, no time, no separation, no duality of anything… In a quickening of awareness, I felt illuminated with the remembrance of how every single person and thing in existence is unified in Oneness… with an understanding of how each individual is an aspect of The Source.
Anecdotal accounts of the overlap between near-death experiences and certain altered states of consciousness—including 5MDEs—were striking enough to catch the attention of researchers at Belgium’s University of Liege. These investigators compiled an analysis of the semantic similarities between 625 NDE reports and more than 20,000 reports of altered states induced by 165 different psychoactive substances. Unsurprisingly, 5-MeO made the top 5 in the latter category.
Paul Dobson is an example of someone who has emerged from a 5MDE with an unshakeable certainty that he has glimpsed an eternal aspect of himself which will survive the death of his body, and even his mind.
“Paul is just something I am experiencing for a little while, and when it goes, I am not going anywhere,” he can be heard saying in the previously mentioned Q&A. “This personality may go, but the thing behind it—the driving force, the life behind it—isn’t going anywhere.”
Martin W. Ball expressed similar sentiments in his interview with Reset: “I feel like I’ve been through death many times with 5-MeO,” he offered. “Before my first 5-MeO-DMT experience, I used to wonder a lot about, ‘Well, is there an afterlife, or is there reincarnation, or is death the end of the experience?’ With my acceptance of the reality that everything is God—I’m God, you’re God, it’s all God, all the time—the idea that I could somehow destroy myself just became laughable… Even though Martin is gone, the true I doesn’t ever go anywhere, because God is reality, and just because Martin disappears doesn’t mean reality is going to disappear. I am still here. I’ve always been here. I always will be here.”
Obviously, reason would dictate that a 5-MeO-induced “death” might simply be a chemically generated hallucination. However, to the majority of people who have had this experience, that notion is a non-starter.
In a trip report called I Smoked Toad Venom & Thought I Died, vlogger Dakota Wint expresses his assurance that what he saw during his 5MDE was 100 percent real. “There’s no question—this is just how it is,” he offers. “I’m here right now in life, and I have no other questions about my place here. This is life; this is how it is; I wake up here every day. This spacious whiteness had [the same unambiguous quality] to it.”
Paul Dobson puts it even more firmly: “It’s like you’ve seen something, and you know undoubtably it is true, in the depths of your being, and to then go, ‘Oh, it was just a hallucination from a synthetic substance,’ you’re kidding yourself, really…. Literally, a scientist could come up to me and tell me, ‘That was just a hallucination.’ I wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t make any difference to me, because I felt it so truly and so deeply of what I was that I just wouldn’t even bother arguing with them.”
Ball, Wint, and Dobson are hardly alone in feeling that 5-MeO has enabled them to partake of the dying process. 60 percent of 1,699 subjects in a ten-year retrospective study reported having death-related experiences under the influence of the toad secretion, and a 2005 study determined that 5-MeO was the psychoactive substance most commonly associated with experiences of dying, rebirth or past-life memory.
Of course, 5-MeO-DMT is not the only psychoactive that can occasion a God encounter and/or an NDE-adjacent experience, but as the strongest ego-dissolving substance in existence, it is quite possibly the most reliable of the bunch. It is by no means a guaranteed passport to the White Light realms, but the intrepid journeyer who approaches this practice with proper preparation, dosage, and intent seems to have a fair shot at just that.
A 2018 study found that 75 percent of participants who inhaled vaporized toad secretion met the qualifications of “complete mystical experiences,” while the previously mentioned 10-year retrospective study found that 85 percent of 1,699 participants had mystical or religious experiences under the influence of 5-MeO.
Such experiences may have far-reaching benefits right here in the earthly dimension. A 2019 study linked 5MDEs with greater satisfaction with life, enhanced capacity for mindfulness, better mood, accelerated problem solving, and improved mental health.
However, it should be noted that as a Schedule 1 substance, 5-MeO-DMT carries its share of legal risks, and as the most potent of psychedelic compounds, it presents a slew of other hazards. Prospective adventurers are advised to acquaint themselves with the potential pitfalls of its use—not to mention diligently research anyone who is administering it— before taking a journey that is likely to alter the course of their lives.
Afterwords from the Afterworld
“In that state, it seemed very clear that there’s no such thing as time. The thing that powers this life—life itself—is neverending. It can’t be [finite]. It’s outside of time and space. It’s not part of this play… The truth of what we are is eternal, and it’s blissful, and it’s full of love. It sounds too good to be true, but it just is known [while under the influence of 5-MeO-DMT] that that’s the truth… It’s just known directly, as clearly as when you go, ‘What is the taste an apple?’ and you eat an apple. As opposed to someone telling you whether there’s life and death and stuff, it’s like you’ve eaten that knowledge. You know it directly. At the core of everything, we can’t help but be this blissful, pure-love-overflowing being that has just for a little while decided to dream up this life in a world.”—Paul Dobson
“It was a death. This is a near-death experience … You have to accept the fact that you are dying, and then you die, and then you understand that this is where you come from… The body doesn’t want to die, but we are not the body. That’s what the 5-MeO shows you.”—Dakota Wint
“I can now state with unshakeable ‘faith’—a word that used to make my skin crawl—that I believe in the existence of the transcendent, formless Godhead and in the individual human ability to realize that transcendent ideal. I also now believe in the continued existence of my Soul (or consciousness if you prefer) after my physical body passes away—two newly acquired ‘leap-of-faith beliefs’ that have provided me with an enormous sense of peace and well-being, as well as a complete lack of fear of dying.”—James Oroc, Tryptamine Palace
Damon Orion is a writer, journalist, musician, artist and teacher living in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California. More of his work can be found at DamonOrion.com.