DMT and the Machine Elves

People who take hallucinogenic substances often experience visions based upon their own thoughts and personal experiences. Sometimes, certain substances will produce the same effect regardless of who takes it, such as the Hat Man. One such instance was first discovered by psychonaut Terence McKenna and later corroborated by others who reported not only seeing something, but interacting with strange entities when using the substance known as Dimethyltrypamine, or DMT.

The chemical makeup of DMT

DMT is a hallucinogenic drug found in certain plants in the Amazon in South America, and is usually prepared in two forms: one is to boil the DMT into a very potent brew, and the second is ground into a powder. When DMT is used it tends to be smoked, although it can be snorted and drank as well. As to why people take DMT, the answer is obvious: to experience hallucinations, or a “trip.” Unlike other substances, the experience produced by DMT is more comparable to an entirely alternate reality than regular hallucinations. For example, certain individuals report seeing the face of God, while most report visiting other worlds although some users claimed that they thought they’d gone to Hell. Another common trip revolves around the user visiting a desert which is populated by numerous large grey owls who speak to the user in an unknown language. Unlike many other substances, the trip caused by DMT tends to start almost immediately (within 10 to 60 seconds) and is considered to be just about as intense as possible, although it ends just as quickly.

In the Amazon and particularly Columbia and Peru, travelers are sometimes offered a beverage called ayahuasca or yage which can contain DMT. This drink is commonly used in tribal ceremonies as a means for entering the “spirit world” or for healing purposes. It is possible to overdose on ayahuasca, as some individuals have died during ceremonies in which the drink was utilized, although on regular occasions ayahuasca tends to make to consumer pass out for up to six hours.

Terence McKenna
Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna, a renowned psychonaut, philosopher and ethnobotanist, became the first individual to become widely known for experimenting with and documenting the effects of DMT. According to McKenna, if a sufficient amount of DMT is smoked by inhaling deeply three times, anyone is guaranteed to come into contact with entities he refers to as the “machine elves,” which have also come to be known as “clockwork elves,” “fractal elves,” and “Tykes,” although others consider them aliens.

According to his own personal experience, McKenna stated that he saw something like an orange and yellow chrysanthemum that was spinning, and that he felt pushed from behind so that he fell through the chrysanthemum which felt more like another place entirely as opposed to simply a different state of mind. It was in this place that McKenna described domed walls with strange geometric hallucinations and indirect lighting, although he states that describing the place accurately with words is impossible. However, it was here that he first encountered the machine elves:

“What was happening was that there were a lot of beings in there, what I call self-transforming machine elves. Sort of like jeweled basketballs all dribbling their way toward me. And if they’d had faces they would have been grinning, but they didn’t have faces. And they assured me that they loved me and they told me not to be amazed; not to give way to astonishment.”

Artist's interpretation of a Machine Elf
Artist’s interpretation of a Machine Elf, by quixoticmystic on DeviantArt

McKenna states that once the individual enters this space, the entities seem to cheer or say “hhyyyeeeaaahhh,” and that they come towards the individual. Supposedly, the machine elves are engaged in some kind of communication, although it is described as being a “visual language.” However, happy as they are to apparently see the individual, they warn not to become overwhelmed with astonishment. In McKenna’s own words, it’s possible to die at this point from astonishment due to the sheer amount of information being thrown at the person, although he mentions DMT doesn’t affect the mind, or what makes you “you.” It’s merely the effect of being placed in such a strange environment with such strange entities so suddenly that affects the user, and it is true that while DMT does not cause any physical damage, users may have trouble sleeping for a few days or have anxiety simply because they cannot stop thinking about their trip.

Meanwhile, the machine elves, aside from trying to calm the individual, will then try to ensure that the person is paying attention to what they’re doing, at which point they proceed to “sing objects into existence,” similar to their visual language described above.

“They proceed to sing objects into existence. Amazing objects. Objects that are Faberge Eggs, things made out of pearl, and metal, and glass, and gel, and you, when you’re shown one of these things, a single one of them, you look at it and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, in the moment of looking at this thing, that if it were right here, right now, this world would go mad. It’s like something from another dimension. It’s like an artifact from a flying saucer. It’s like something falling out of the mind of God – such objects do not exist in this universe, and yet, you’re looking at it. And they’re clamoring for your attention.”

Bardo Thodol, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead
Bardo Thodol, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Aside from making new objects, some of these things become new entities, which then proceed to sing objects of their own into existence, which then become beings themselves. This is described as being a very active stage of the trip, which McKenna compares to a Looney Tunes cartoon as the elves act extremely “zany” and silly. In fact, this is why they are referred to elves. Even though they do not have a very stable appearance (let alone one comparable to an elf), they act in such a mischievous way that is reminiscent of the elves of folklore.

However, McKenna has suggested that these entities aren’t entirely benevolent, or without a hidden purpose. He has compared the experience of interacting with the machine elves to a time when he was bartering for hashish in a marketplace in Bombay with a group of Arab traders. The traders surrounded him acting in a friendly manner while trying to cut a deal, which McKenna said is almost the exact same feeling he got from interacting the elves. He states that their sense of humor is just plain weird, and even though they seem to be showing the person sights of wonder and astonishment, he also feels that they are attempting to cut some kind of deal with the person. He also states that you “should not let them get behind you,” since their intentions are not particularly clear and that their humor may not be nearly as enjoyable for humans. It is also said that the machine elves are able to easily jump through people, and that by doing so they transfer innumerable amounts of information to the person which can lead to trauma, exhaustion, and confusion.

In fact, McKenna believes that the entire environment which DMT transports the user to is some kind of safe or comforting place. It is similar to a womb or a playpen, in that it is supposed to make the person feel warm and safe and secure, and that the elves created it to be suitable for humans. The objects that the elves sing into existence are similar to toys placed in a playpen for a child to entertain themselves with, and that the objects are for the person to be able to get their bearing in that place.

A Faberge Egg, similar to the objects described by Terence McKenna
A Faberge Egg, similar to the objects described by Terence McKenna

Oddly, while beings similar to the machine elves have been reported in native African, Australian, and American cultures, McKenna stated that he took some DMT to Tibetans, who promptly told him “This is the lesser lights, the lesser lights of the Bardo. You cannot go further into the Bardo and return. This takes you as far as you can go.” However, when he took some to shamans in the Amazon, they stated that “It’s strong- but this is, these are the ancestors. These are the spirits that we work with. These are ancestor souls. We know this place.” Bardo in Tibetan means the “intermediate state,” which is basically the state of existence between one’s death and one’s next birth in the cycle of reincarnation. It seems odd that two different cultures from different parts of the world associate a heavenly or spiritual realm with a trip attainable by using DMT.

Today, using and possessing DMT is illegal in the United States, although it is manufactured synthetically in the United Kingdom. One individual, Alex Jones, believes that the global elite use DMT in order to make contact with aliens to help establish the New World Order which led to some renewed interest in McKenna’s research. Even though it is impossible to study the machine elves without personally taking DMT (which would be highly inadvisable), it is strange that so many different people would see the same things which indigenous cultures associate with their spirit realms.

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