This article originally appeared on VICE US in March 2018
The prestigious medical university at Johns Hopkins wants to know if you’ve ever taken so much dimethyltryptamine (DMT) that you’ve broken through reality and met the benevolent machine elves that live in the center of the universe. Researcher Roland R. Griffiths is the neuroscientist in charge of the study and he’s been on the forefront of scientific research into psychedelic experiences for decades.
Participating in the study is anonymous and as easy as following this link and filling out a survey. Specifically, the researchers are interested in, “The experiences of people who have had encounters with seemingly autonomous beings or entities after taking DMT. This anonymous internet survey involves asking about your experiences, including the short-term and long-term effects.”
Some people who ingest DMT—the hallucinogenic ingredient of Ayahuasca—describing breaking through reality and meeting with creatures on the other side. Some describe them as angels, demons, and even elves. It’s a common enough experience that Griffiths and Johns Hopkins want to know more.
The survey takes around 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your answers and how thorough you are. It asks participants to describe their experience in detail, as well and the dosage of DMT and the method of ingestion. “Have you ever taken a ‘breakthrough’ dose of N,N-DMT; that is, a dose that produced very strong psychoactive effects” The survey asks. “By ‘breakthrough’ we mean the experience of passing through an entrance into another world or alternative reality.”
Ten years ago, I smoked what Terence McKenna would have called a "heroic" dose of DMT from a volcano style vaporizer in a cabin in the woods. I broke through and met marble-textured, featureless creatures of vast power. They were scary, but benign. They said hello, remarked that I’d been with them before, then sent me on my way back to Earth.
After sharing my story, the survey asked if I still thought about the entities and if I felt meeting them had any long term impact on my life. I don’t think it did. I’m glad I did it, but I attribute no profound spiritual or personal significance to the encounter. Although, I haven’t touched DMT since and took a long break from psychedelics in general. The survey had room for me to explain all of this.