Throughout my life I have been infatuated with darkness. I remember upon watching my first horror film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, I found myself completely mesmerized by the terror on the television screen. From that moment on, I developed quite the obsession with horror. Since its start, the popular series American Horror Story has captivated my attention. The dramatic story lines, in conjunction with violence, gore and the wondrous Jessica Lange, have been enough to keep me hooked. A few weeks ago, in this season’s incarnation titled “Freak Show” there was an episode in which a couple drowned and cut off the ears of a baby with a disability because they no longer wanted to hear the baby’s screams. They then blamed it on one of the shows ‘freaks’ named Pepper. After being wrongfully accused, Pepper was sent to live in an insane asylum for the rest of her days. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. “It’s not real, so what harm could it possibly do?” I thought. In a recent ‘trip’ with the psychedelic medicine Yopo, a snuff created from the seed of the Vilca tree containing 5-MEO-DMT and bufotenin, I was shown just how damaging violent images like these are to our psyches.
Once the medicine was blown through my nose and hit the back of my head, I had a foreboding sensation that my ‘trip’ wasn’t going to be particularly pleasant. I laid down, closed my eyes and began to feel anxious and uncomfortable. I would open my eyes and be in the room, but the second I closed them I would become engulfed by ominous visual formations and patterns. The space did not feel like the loving Yopo that I knew. This space was menacing, cold, devoid of human emotion and filled with sounds of absolute terror. This noise filled my surroundings and began to expand and contract, completely encircling me. Why was this happening to me? What had I done that made for such an awful experience?
I could not find my center, and felt that darkness was consuming me. The vibrations I was experiencing created an eerie feeling of death and decay. Suddenly, the image of the baby being drowned in American Horror Story started to replay over and over. It was a nightmare that I could not escape from. I felt the pain of these characters, and realized that some part of my mind had mistaken the images for reality, even though I knew all along that they weren’t real. The medicine gave me the message that the images had caused a disturbance in my frequencies. They distorted my perception of reality and perpetuated a state of fear, causing spiritual unease. This made me question everything that I’ve ever watched: all of the violent imagery that I have subjected myself to, or have been forcefully subjected to throughout my life. Are all of these images stored in my visual database? Are they responsible for those fleeting negative thoughts that seem out of union with my own character? As the medicine was presenting these negative vibrations, it was clearing them as well. By the end of my journey, I felt completely rejuvenated and cleansed from these disturbances.
Why do we subject ourselves to needless traumas? This only adds onto the traumas that life already has us endure. Whether we like it or not, the images that we take in have the power to manipulate our reality. The constant images of war, violence and hate fed to us through the media seep into our minds. It’s peculiar that many of us choose to subject ourselves to violent imagery while other people all over the world are literally submersed in violence, living in war-zones with no choice but to witness real-life horrors.
The forms of entertainment in which we mindlessly indulge have more influence over our thoughts and ideas than we would like to believe. Moments where you think that your ideas are out of character may just be something locked away in the dark crevices of your mind — they may not even be your own. Am I saying that all news is bad and that it’s wrong to indulge in a little bit of horror here and there? Of course not. I’m saying it’s important to be mindful of how the things we watch and images we choose to surround ourselves with truly affects us.
It’s easy to escape and hide behind all of the noise, but life will become easier than you would ever believe once you stop hiding and become whole within yourself. Psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca and yopo have the ability to reset our minds, providing us with a clean slate and fresh perspective. They are nature’s gifts and medicines that can heal us from the layers upon layers of social conditioning instilled upon us. They provide us with lessons that in turn will open us up to the awe and wonder of being alive and the infinite wisdom of this boundless universe.
Roger Wattle says
It is not the “images”, but how you relate to them, that is what “affects your psyche” in the way you are alarmed about. You seem to be encouraging a kind of psychological denialism that places a subtle but consistent veneer of fear between you and the objects or “images” not deemed “pure”, “good”, “beautiful” etc. Thus you seem to be continuing and reproducing the exact logic of “damaging the psyche” that you are trying to help overcome by writing this piece. “Resistance is persistence”, my New Age friends like to tell me and I think it holds weight in relation to your prescriptive metaphysics above. The world is full of suffering, hardship, struggle, sickness, and awful things, and to deny these images is to empower them at the expense of yourself. They feed on fear and ignorance. All the “dark” experiences, on t.v. or in ayahuasca visions, can deepen our psyche, deepen our wisdom, depending on how we relate to them. The “dark night of the soul” is a source of wisdom, just as theophanic visionary encounters with beautiful, benevolent intelligent plant spirits are sources of wisdom. Having one without the other will likely create problematic ethics of relating to people in the world, to suffering, to things we don’t understand, in ways that are similar to the consequences of monotheistic metaphysics — i.e. “good” and “bad”, “light” and “dark”.
Daniel Hugo Miceli says
I agree with where you are coming from, and personally do not view dark images as ´bad.´ My ¨demons¨ taught me some of lifes most invaluable, and ultimately beautiful lessons.
From my experience with this particular medicine, regardless of whether or not there is some wisdom to be garnered by watching said things, the specific images I had subjected myself to in that moment in time did not have a positive influence on me energetically.
In order to make change, you must acknowledge what is going on, and not just hide away from it. Although this doesn´t mean that one should dwell or subject themselves to such things needlessly. I wouldn´t neccesarily compare the ´darkness´ in let´s say, a slasher film or the propaganda perpetuated in the media to that of the true horrors going in the world or an Ayahuasca ceremony. Some of my most difficult cermonies perceived as ¨dark¨ at the time included things like facing my karma and being attacked by demonic entities in order to teach me how to protect myself spiritually. From these experiences, I also had some of my most beautiful realizations. There is no good, or evil… just God.
Thank you for your input. It is greatly appreciated and some food for thought.
Roger Wattle says
Ayahuasca is a mirror. Life is a trip. I would not so quickly separate the two. Upper Amazonians have termed ayahuasca “the cinema of the jungle” for a reason.
Your argument is along similar lines to, “kids who play violent computer games become immoral and dangerous”. Do people who read Dante’s masterpiece text Inferno sympathise with the devil? No, not typically. Only people who are relating to the “images” in a strange (and hyper-afraid?) way will have their “psyche damaged” when reading Dante’s inferno or watching a horror film.
I agree that obsessing on “dark images” is not healthy, but obsessing on the “light” is not healthy. Obsession in general is the issue here it seems, not the “images” per se.
Thank you for writing this finely crafted piece of writing and sharing your experience and thoughts. It is good to have these ideas discussed.
All the best on your journey.