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Over the last two decades, the hallucinogenic tryptamine DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) has moved from being one of the more obscure psychedelics to being at the forefront of discussions about shamanic experiences. One of the main reasons for this is how the ‘breakthrough experience’ afforded by a DMT trip has the characteristic of what seems like being transported to another realm, in which ‘contact’ with otherwordly/dimensional beings or entities is often reported. This characteristic has led to many people wondering if there is some relationship between endogenous DMT in our own brains, and extraordinary experiences such as NDEs and alien abduction reports.

One of the most referenced descriptions of these DMT entities is that by the ‘psychedelic bard’ Terence McKenna, who noted his encounter with “self-transforming machine elves” – so much so, that it has almost become a staple description of the denizens of the DMT realm. But can these ‘beings’ encountered while under the influence of DMT be so neatly categorized?

The Society for Scientific Exploration has recently been uploading a number of videos from their previous conferences to their YouTube channel, and one of those presentations is an interesting analysis of DMT entity reports by Jennifer A. Lyke of Stockton University that attempts to answer this question.

Lyke used Erowid.org trip reports to investigate the frequency with which DMT users experience various categories of entities and the nature of the interactions users have with these entities during the drug experience. Rather than just simply ‘machine elves’, she found a wide variation in the types of entity encounters:

Content analysis was performed on 149 trip reports posted from 2006 through 2015 on Erowid.com by DMT users (90% male, average age 24.6) in order to characterize users’ descriptions of the entities as well as the nature of their interactions with them. Entities were defined as elements of the experience that appeared to the DMT user to possess independent awareness. Seventy-five percent of reports included a description of at least one form of entity and 37% described more than one entity. There were a total of 180 experiences of entities reported. The general categories of entities that emerged were poorly defined or formless beings (29%); humanoid beings (22%); divine beings (10%); aliens (8%), elves and fairies (7%); animals (6%); geometric objects or machines (6%); voices (4%); faces (4%); and miscellaneous entities that did not fit into the other categories (3%).

Lyke’s analysis also found that the gender of the entities appeared to be an important facet to experiencers, as it was specifically mentioned in 24% of the descriptions of entities. Male participants were more likely to report the gender of entities than were female participants, and entities whose gender was specified were significantly more likely to be female than male.

Furthermore, Lyke also analyzed the nature of the participants’ interactions with entities. In 25% of cases, experiencers reported “showing/teaching/guidance”, 10% of the time the interaction was perceived as “hostile”, another 10% of the time there was “no interaction”. Other reported interactions were warmth or love (9%), welcome/excitement (9%), reassurance or encouragement (8%), neutrality or observation (7%), play or entertainment (4%), power or control (3%), sexuality (3%), unclear interactions (3%), questioning (3%), reminding (2%), and miscellaneous interactions that did not fit into the other categories (2%).

Overall, Lyke reports:

These results indicate that the most commonly experienced, well-defined entities are humanoid and that the most frequent category of interaction involves showing, teaching, or guidance. However, there is no significant relationship between entity category and the nature of the interaction.

Further research planned will now compare previous research on DMT entities, entities encountered using other psychedelic drugs, and entities experienced in alien abduction experiences, near death experiences, and mental mediumship.