HIGH TIMES Interview: James Oroc


HIGH TIMES Interview: James Oroc

by Elise McDonough

Sat, Dec 05, 2009 4:41 pm

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The January 2010 issue of HIGH TIMES featured a conversation with James Oroc, author of Tryptamine Palace, titled “Psychedelic Desert Toads.” The following is the complete and uncut interview with Oroc.

HT: What are the differences between 5-MeO-DMT and DMT?

JO: There’s a lot of confusion here because there’s very little information available about 5-Meo-DMT which is one of the reasons why I ended up writing the book, like many people I was interested in DMT through Terence McKenna’s writings, but it is a very difficult compound to find, not to mention the fact that it is illegal, but it’s always been very, very rare. For a brief period from 1990 to the early twenty-first century you could buy 5-Meo-DMT over the Tnternet, because it is a different compound in its molecular structure from DMT, it has an extra methoxy attached to it, and because of that it is not illegal. It potentially falls under the analog act, but I’m not aware of anyone who has been persecuted for 5-Meo-DMT. For this brief period of time you had a lot of research chemical companies offering a variety of chemicals over the Internet, and 5-MeO-DMT was one of those, which is how I initially was able to try some.

Anyone who knows about DMT is probably familiar with Terence McKenna’s descriptions, which are almost like a comic book effect, lots of visual hallucinations, lots of visions, For many people who hoped to have visions like on mushrooms or LSD, DMT is a compound that is most likely to produce a vision or a hallucination, 5-MeO-DMT works very differently from that. It takes you to a much more transcendental zone, out side of thought, which makes it a very difficult thing to try and explain, but it is closest to the definitions of the true mystical state that I have read, people talk about a void, which is paradoxically a plenum, full of energy, sense of an otherworldly state of energy and being that doesn’t really relate to the dimension we occupy now. So phenomenally they are very different and not everybody gets the effect of 5-MeO-DMT, some people get a white hole where they don’t really experience much at all. Other people can achieve all kinds of trips and effects.

When a lot of people take DMT, they report the same phenomena (elves, etc.) Do you find that to be true with 5-MeO-DMT?

Well I think you’d be hard pressed to say that people have the same experience on DMT, other than they have very fantastic experiences, we commonly hear about the tryptamine elves and Indian goddesses, but I would certainly not say that two people who smoke DMT side-by-side are going to have the same visions, they will probably have very different visions, 5-MeO-DMT users may have had similar experiences, when I go somewhere and give a talk, there’s usually one person in the audience who knows what I’m talking about. One of the things I really like about my book is that numerous people have come up to me about experiences they’ve had on DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, and they’ve said that their experiences were so outside of their own memory, and reading about my experiences helped them remember the words to delve into their own experiences, so I am glad about that.

If you could briefly describe what a 5-MeO-DMT experience is like?

It is different for everybody, and I think only a small percentage of users achieve the same kind of effects that I have experienced. Typically, when I do it, I encounter a bright light, everything is dissolved into fractals of light, I feel the presence of people I really love around me, the possibility or question hanging right in front of you, and if you can actually let go of your own ego, you can access this sort of transcendental zone where you actually can experience being consciousness without identity, which is one of the strangest experiences that ever happened to me. I’m aware, observing, in a realm of information and energy, but I don’t know who I am or where I’ve come from, or how the universe began, it’s an omnipotent feeling, but terrifying and I start grasping for meaning or identity of some shred of ego, and then a little voice will say “you’ve smoked the DMT” and a few minutes later I find myself in a crumpled heap on the ground, which is disorientating. That’s really bizarre.

You report being enveloped by a white light, and then you went back later and did your research, what is your theory about the source of that white light?

The reason I wrote the book it that I was very much an atheist person, before my 5-MeO-DMT experiences, and after the first experience I felt that I had come across a source of energy that I could only identity as God. It was the word that attached to it, even though previous to that I would have said, “I don’t believe in God,” suddenly I had encountered this entirely different realm of energy and I thought it was God, so I had to discover a way to rebuild my worldview. I posed a series of questions to myself and one of them was: Where does that source of light come from that was inside my brain, but it is this powerful light? Through quantum physics, I delved into Terence McKenna, Alexander Shulgin, then I soon fairly exhausted that information and looked into mysticism, quantum physics, that sort of thing, there’s a theme in mysticism that identifies consciousness with light and everything of God as being a source of light, so that started me on my path. along with an excellent book called The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby, about his experiences on ayahuasca and the idea that our DNA is transmitting messages to us through biophotonic emission, which is basically light that comes from our DNA. Narby believes that the visions we see on DMT, which is the psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, are from your DNA, and you are actually tapping into the collective memory of the species, that then evolves in our mind as light from these emissions. That started me on the path from where they may have originated from and that led me to a new emerging field of physics called zero-point field physics, which talks about a field of energy that many believe underlies all existence, that is the source of this biophotonic emission and is the source of all the energy in our universe that is coming out of this inexhaustible sea.

So the zero-point field you think is the Akashic Field?

The Akashic Field was the name given by Ervin Laslo who was a Hungarian systems theorist, and he has written a number of books on the subject and he renamed it the Akashic Field, which is kind of tipping the hat to the Hindu concept of Akasha, or the Akashic library or record which was this energy that the Hindus believed permeated the universe and was the source of all knowledge and information. It’s basically the same idea, this field is constantly receiving the information of our existence, as the universe evolves and all the various entities of matter in the universe generates a field, the zero-point field is basically a repository of everything that ever happened, everything that ever will happen, the distance between potentiality and reality that is our existence. We are the actuality, if you like, in a sea of potential. I think that compounds like 5-MeO-DMT immediately cause you to question consciousness, “What is consciousness, how does it work, what is its source?” And you realize that we don’t know very much about consciousness meaning that we have learned many things over the past two centuries but consciousness has been kind of ignored. There are two main ideas that have existed in history: one is that we are all matter and consciousness is a phenomena of matter, and the other way of looking at it, which is the way that the Hindus have always looked at it, is that everything is consciousness, and matter, is a phenomena of consciousness, and I think our scientific paradigm is beginning to shift to the idea that consciousness is actually more important than the physical universe and not the other way around. If we actually continue in this paradigm shift, it’s going to change the way we view our universe.

So if someone wanted to try 5-MeO-DMT, how would you suggest they prepare themselves?

If you’re going to try any serious entheogen, entheogen being a compound that generates God within, in its literal term, I think it’s almost impossible to prepare yourself for a brush with the divine, these things really happen, it’s not something you can prepare yourself for and it’s not something you can chase – I think the whole idea of looking for visions can often preclude you from actually having them. I think the culture revolving around DMT and ayahuasca, especially on the West Coast, is a little too looking for it as an answer to something. None of these visions are answers, but they certainly are very powerful tools for exploring your own consciousness or spirituality if that’s the path you’re on, so I would say the best way to prepare yourself for any entheogen is to really know yourself and having been interested in finding out the most about yourself, your consciousness, and your spirituality that you can find – be open to the experience and don’t try to go into it with too many preconceptions. If you’re a person that does a lot of unhealthy things, then some of these substances won’t jive with what you’re doing, because it’s better to be healthy, have a clear mind, It’s very unfortunate that entheogens get lumped into the same category as every other drug, because for example, there’s a world of difference between DMT and crystal meth. They are on opposite sides of the universe as far as I’m concerned but they get lumped in as the same kind of thing. A lot of it has to do with your own mindset and 5-MeO-DMT especially will produce better results for a better prepared mindset – meditation, yoga, on the beach or in the country, calming yourself down is probably the hardest thing. I’m at the point where I’m lucky if I can do it once or twice a year.

At your most frequent experimentation, how often were you doing it?

After I discovered it, I went through a very heavy stage of doing it probably two or three times a week for several months, when I was living at my home in the Caribbean, and I didn’t have a lot of distractions. After a series of increasingly powerful experiences, that caused me to drastically cut down my consumption, but I think that’s pretty common of most DMT users. You really need to think about your experiences, and that’s part of it, if you have these experiences, you really need to sit back and read and absorb and try to understand some concept of what’s happening to you. I got an email recently from someone who had been in Peru doing ayahuasca for a number of months, and he had come back to the United States and found himself very disorientated and adrift really, in society, finding modern America very difficult to handle. Someone gave him a copy of Tryptamine Palace, probably at Burning Man, and he sent me an email thanking me, because he said that I had showed him that there are many realms of our own knowledge that he had ignored, he had been looking for ancient knowledge and he had ignored our own modern knowledge, and there’s a lot of modern knowledge that can shine light on the entheogenic experience, so I think it’s important to balance mysticism and alchemy with things like physics, and it’s fine to read about shamans, but also mystics, and it balances out our view. I think we tend to rush towards ancient technologies without recognizing that any type of technology we evolve will be a Socratic one, modern technologies as well as ancient technologies, I think that’s part of what we’re living in, the point where you know most chaps living in America these days don’t have the same mindset as Peruvian Amazonian Indians, so they shouldn’t really expect that ayahuasca would have the same effect.

What do you think is the value of Burning Man to society at large?

Well for me, Burning Man is an art movement, and I think this is something that is not really well understood: the idea for the first twentieth century art movement, taking pop art to its final conclusion, making art that only lasts for a week, and you have to be there to be part of it, to enjoy and experience it truly amazing art that exists on the Playa for that week, you cannot take it away from the artists that actually create it. Without the art it would only be a music festival, and I think a lot of people view it as a big rave, where a lot of people who go to Burning Man don’t even go to the dance domes at all, I think it’s their artistic sense that’s spreading out through the Burning man community at large, more and more projects all over the world that have the same effects that Burning Man has, creating art out of lost objects and just a whole new way of integrating art into our lives. I was very proud to write my book and gift it on the Playa, I think it was the first book that was written as part of the Burning Man movement. And that was my intention at the time, to give something back to the Burning Man community. Now I’m quite surprised to see it coming out a few years later, from a proper publisher, but really, Burning Man is all about art, and there’s BM offshoots now, the community is spreading out globally, more and more it’s kind of spread out, a good example of that is the PEX festival held over July 4 – it’s become a much more international event, a lot of the energy is fading in the Bay Area, and now coming from New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Europe, there are as many non-Californians at Burning man as there are Californians by now, people that bring all their shit all the way from the East Coast, putting a lot of energy into it and I think it should be more of an international movement.

Do you think that psychedelics experience leads people to greater spirituality?

Yeah I think there’s no doubt of it, I think it’s even been scientifically proven since Walter Pinke’s experiment saying that experiences with psilocybin have produced lasting spiritual effects in their users. I think that a lot of the things in the 60s that came out of the psychedelic movement like the eco-movement, the concept that earth is actually a living organism that we need to nurture – these are all common intuitions to people who have done psychedelics. They definitely affected our societal view whether we admit it or not.

Do you think resurgence in spirituality is necessary in order for people to confront our environmental crises?

In my book I talk about a concept called extinction denial, and I honestly believe that our society is born into it, we’ve all been born into an exponential experience of change so dramatic that we don’t really understand it because it’s all we’ve ever known. Through the historical record you begin to realize what a tremendously bizarre time it is that we are living through, I picked up the latest issue of National Geographic and there’s a great big article about food and the numbers in there are absolutely staggering concerning the amount of food we will need to produce versus the population, versus the depleting sources that are being created because of how we’ve treated the land all these years… Twenty years ago, these ideas were extreme, now they’re really commonplace. Still, we just go about our daily lives and there’s not one politician out there who’s talking about population and the problems that this planet is really facing. I think the machine is just going to chug along until something really dramatic happens, and what that is, is hard to say, unless we can gain rationality back in our thinking, we’re pretty much on a one-way trip towards a mass breakdown of our society.

I found, with my own spiritual epiphany, that I cared to do something about it. I think one sign of a true spiritual epiphany is that you take on a sense of responsibility, I think it’s how Jung said “enlightened consciousness is like a burden of guilt,” and once I believed I had a real spiritual epiphany, one of the reliefs was a sense of responsibility and a feeling that I had to try and do something. Whatever it was I could do, I had to try to do something, and that’s what this book has been about, this year of promoting the book, getting out and talking to people…. Yeah, I think we have been conned, because spirituality is a very personal thing and we’ve bought into a society that is telling us that spirituality is a superstition or a myth, things that educated people don’t believe in, and I think there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary, and that getting back in deeper touch with our spirituality would definitely help clean up the planet.

How is the 5-MeO-DMT created synthetically different from the toad venom?

Bufo toad venom is up to 15% 5-MeO-DMT by volume, and there are a lot of other things in the venom as well. It produces an amazing amount of 5-MeO-DMT, so the molecule would be pretty much identical as well, molecular engineering is creating – one of the big misconceptions of organic versus synthetic, is most of the DMT available is an extract from plants, for a little while these research companies were making 99% pure 5-MeO-DMT by a laboratory process, just as Sandoz would have made LSD back in the day. I think it’s no longer available anyway. If you can find 5-MeO-DMT these days, it would probably have been extracted from a plant, but I have never seen it.

In your opinion, is the fascination with the 2012 end time a detrimental phenomenon within the counterculture?

Well, I think unfortunately it draws a line in the sand that we’re just going to get to, and then everything is going to change, there is a very good book called The Prophet and the Astronomer, by an Italian, Marcello Coradini, who is a cosmologist and the book is about comets and stars and their appearance throughout human history, about how there have been many, many, many apocalyptic viewpoints, many, many predictions about the end of time, and none of them have ever come true. So I find it a little difficult to believe that any society could predict such a thing because I think none of these things are set in stone – the possibilities and the probabilities are constantly moving and changing. I do believe that within the next 25 years we have far too few resources on the planet and far too many people, and that’s a paradigm shift that we are not going to be able to avoid, so whether or not 2012 is a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t really know. There’s an end coming, I agree with that, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be in 2012, if it’s twenty years later, does it make that much difference? We went through the same thing with the Y2K thing – everybody wants something to happen, then, nothing happens. We don’t really do anything, we wait for the next thing, we need more action at the moment, and there are people …. I think we’re going to wake up with a hangover in 2013 and things aren’t going to be that much different. People want change, it’s easy to feel like something needs to happen, so no grasp on anything…

Do you smoke cannabis?

Yes, I have enjoyed cannabis plenty in various countries around the world, it seems like it is the one thing that is every where I go and I have been to quite a few places in the world over the last 25 years! It’s amazing how weed just pops up everywhere you go— this was actually the premise for my first book of short stories, Passport to Argotia. I wrote these more than 10 years ago, but they have just being reissued and are available on Amazon. All the short stories in this collection involved cannabis in one form or other, and I took a quotation from Terrence McKenna’s book Food of the Gods in the front of my short stories, where Terrence points out the lingual connections between rope making, which of course was one of the original uses of the cannabis plant, and the equally ancient art of story telling. How we, “follow the thread of a story, weave a yarn, spin a tale etc.” So weed is the center thread thru all these tales in my own youthful collection. It’s a fun book, and in truth I prefer to consider myself a fiction writer – I have been writing a novel for a number of years – and Tryptamine Palace was an unintended foray into the world of non-fiction. But in The Art of the Novel, Milan Kundura says that every writer has to write the book that only he can write, and Tryptamine Palace is undoubtedly my story and no one else’s.

Can you explain to our readers how the zero-point field works?

The best way to visualize the ZPF, is to imagine a square box 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet that has all the matter sucked out of it until it becomes a vacuum and then has its temperature lowered to Absolute Zero. According to the laws of Newtonian physics, this box should be devoid of any energy, since it is (according to Newtonian physics) perfect empty space. But what we have discovered is that in this ‘vacuum’ there are still tiny fluctuations that when added up amount to a maelstrom of energy which far exceeds the amount of energy in our “known” universe of matter. The physicist Richard Feynman estimated that there is enough energy in our hypothetical box to boil all the oceans in the world! So what we are talking about here is vacuum energy, the energy contained in what we have previously been told is “empty space.” Physicists have known that this energy has existed for years, but they “normalized” their own equations by simply zeroing it out … saying that this energy didn’t affect the world of matter. But it does … in fact now, the cutting edge of physics believes that EVERYTHING in our universe comes in and out of this vast underlying field of matter … both the energy to hold physical structures together and the organization to allow complex structures to evolve.

In Tryptamine Palace I put forth the theory that the entheogenic experience also originates from this field of energy and information, which is itself the mechanism for Carl Jung’s ideas on the collective unconsciousness, and to my surprise I discovered that Ervin Laszlo, the systems theorist, and Stanislav Grof, the transpersonal psychologist who has done more approved work with entheogens than any other man alive, agree with my theory. Which is one of the things that I think makes Tryptamine Palace unique within its own genre of books … I went looking for answers to my experiences and I think I actually found some.

In a lot of ways I think this paradigm shift that is going on physics and many of the other sciences relates to these two opposing views of reality, whether reality is the world of matter and consciousness is simply an off-shoot phenomena of little consequence, or whether consciousness is primary, and the world of forms is merely a construct of the power of consciousness. In the old Newtonian view, everything was about particles, single points of matter with very predictable trajectories and behavior … but as we move into the new paradigm of quantum physics, we now are beginning to recognize that the universe is not made up of solitary particles, but of vast fields which can cross over both time and space. Now predicting the behavior of fields is much more complex than predicting the behavior of particles, and some physicists now believe that the particles themselves are simply ‘aberrations’ or ‘occurrences’ within the fields themselves … so the primacy of matter is being superceded by the realization of the existence of pre-existing fields that are presumed to carry both energy and information … and from there it’s not too much of a stretch to recognize that these fields themselves could be forms of consciousness. And that the universe is, as one famous cosmologist put it back in the 1920’s, “more like a thought than a machine.”

Do you have anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Firstly I would like to state that I believe that God Consciousness is real, and that it is within the capability of every human to find his or her own personal transcendental dialogue with God. Our society has taught us that such a concept is archaic and superstitious, but the reports of mystics are virtually the same regardless of their age or location, and there is just as much a need for a mystical understanding of man’s place in the universe as there ever has been, perhaps more than ever.

I also believe that the more people that can find the deep and reverent spiritual current that runs through life by experiencing the transcendental recognition of the reality of this “God Consciousness,” the greater chance that some of us may have of surviving the inevitable melt down that is coming in our lifetimes. And while the link between these two things may seem tenuous, all I can say is that in my own experience, having a personal vision of God that I can believe in has released an incredible amount of energy into my own world, and produced a great deal of positive change, so I can only hope that if this phenomena can affect enough of us, then when can direct that energy towards significant societal change as we confront an uncertain future.

The illegal nature of many entheogens is in itself a religious persecution, and it is very ironic that our control-orientated World Government considers the very plants that can teach humanity so much about the nature of God so dangerous. Allegiance to organized social structures that interpret God’s word for you are compulsory, but let’s not have any personal knowledge of the Numinous … for look at the agents for social change that this has produced! They didn’t nail Jesus up to a cross because his message was popular … but We are all the Children of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed located within.

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