Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (2)

Concerning matter we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.

Albert Einstein


This iconic painting by Monet shows very accurately how I perceive the “physical reality.” Putting aside the fact that I am shortsighted, this blurry vision can be better explained by referring to Jung’s psychological types. I am introverted and intuitive, which in Jung’s typology means that my vision is directed inwards, towards the world of the archetypes, while the outside world of “hard matter” is often mysterious, hazy and hard to navigate.

Without getting on the high horse (OK, maybe a little bit), I felt avenged when I encountered the ideas of quantum physics and of the mystics of various epochs. What they all seem to claim is that hard reality is not the actual reality. The universe is vibration, and the constantly changing energy fractals weave our space together. We are surrounded by a timeless world of waves – solidity is an illusion. We may speak of the sound and the dance of the universe. External forms, seemingly solid, are in a state of constant flux, they are transient, shifting, transforming, moving about. The god Shiva is a cosmic dancer, the lord of the dance who orders the universe with his graceful movement. He dances out the creation of the world. With his drum he beats the rhythm of creation.


Shiva Nataraja, The Lord of the Dance

In my last post ( I introduced the subject and addressed the ethical concerns of LSD research. Today I am focusing on the shortest chapter of Grof’s report, where he describes the initial stages of the LSD procedure. The author himself dismisses this part as not so important and rather superficial, which is quite surprising to me because I found it extremely significant.

In short, the first thing that often happens after taking LSD is the experience of the animation of the visual field.

Occasionally, the colourful and dynamic mosaic of the entoptic field can be perceived as indistinct and fleeting images of fantastic and exotic scenery, such as visions of mysterious jungles, luscious bamboo thickets, tropical islands, Siberian taigas, or undersea kelp forests and coral reefs. (Grof, Realsm of the Human Unconscious)



Subjects frequently reported seeing abstract geometric designs such as mosaics or arabesques that were accompanied by dynamic colour transformations with the colours described as bright, penetrating and explosive. Very characteristic was “ornamentalization and geometrization of human faces, animals and objects.” Objects ceased being solid but they fluctuated, transformed and vibrated. These were real “orgies of visions,” as Grof puts it.


Alhambra, via


Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Wilhelm Uhde


Louis Wain, Progression

Another common experience was hypersensitivity to subliminal sounds accompanied by synesthesia (hearing colours, for example). A lot of subjects claimed to have been able to really hear music for the first time in their lives.

What I gather from all this is that LSD gave the participants an inner eye vision, enabling them to see the true nature of reality; as if the veil had dropped and the universe was revealed to them as a pulsating, vibrating, throbbing field of energy that is all there is. When Shiva grows tired of dancing, he lapses into inactivity and the universe falls into chaos. What follows is destruction, followed by creation, followed by destruction in an endless cycle. The initial stages of the LSD experience seem to show the collapse of the illusory solid structures that our minds erect; it takes us back to the initial stage of creation where the building blocks of reality are floating in the primordial ocean. Change and transformation become possible when rigidity is overcome and fluid consciousness is acquired.


Stanislaw Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research

Rachel Storm, The Encyclopedia of Eastern Mythology

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44 Responses to Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (2)

  1. ¡Bravo! Another perfect article, it feels so good to read this in the morning before going to work, it’ll inspire me the whole day, thanks! I hope you continue sharing this Cartography… saga.


  2. I’m sure you are familiar with Alex Grey – a visionary artist who uses entheogens as a sacrament. His experience leading up to his painting called ‘Transfigurations’ is quite remarkable, describing the body as a glowing sphere of jewel like chakras.


  3. Don says:

    I find this profoundly interesting. Speaking about art, I have experienced this in looking at the art of Vincent Van Gogh. I just don’t experience it as being solid and I had a strange experience in the National Gallery while looking at one of his paintings – I hadn’t had any LSD. Great post.


    • Also, it is interesting how along with our new knowledge about the nature of reality art started to change and become less ‘solid.’


      • Don says:

        Absolutely. Another classic example is aspects of the work of JMW Turner, the English artist, and he belongs way back in the context of the 18th and 19th centuries. When I look at some of his paintings I often wonder how he experienced reality, in many cases certainly not solid.


      • I absolutely adore Turner. Another introverted intuitive type.


  4. Stuff Jeff Reads says:

    Great post! Reminds me of the quote from William Blake, which inspired Jim Morrison to name the band The Doors: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”


  5. Soul Fields says:

    Were these visual etc experiences only positive and high? As what I read elsewhere they not always are. (Needed to introduce myself with some basic LSD facts as I don´t know much about it. There is no distinction between heavy or light/mild drugs to me. I´ve seen the worst tragedies relating to them. They really challenge my objectivity relating to this issue, but my personal disinterest in even the so called light/mild drugs has been there from the beginning before seeing these tragedies). Did Grof define what is a hallucination and what is more “real” (or is that even possible)?


    • Deelia, I share your concerns, as I said in my previous post. I also have never tried anything. The chapter I referred to today did not describe any negative experiences. The whole interpretation of the experiences and all the references to Shiva are entirely mine. Grof himsrlf called these experiences hallucinations, distortions, etc, but I thought that they related nicely to quantum theories and eastern philosophy.


      • Soul Fields says:

        Yes, i understand your perspective. And it sounds like there is a link to everything being energy/vibration. Many of those experiences, like seeing “abstract geometric designs”, “dynamic colour transformations” and sensory experiences being heightened, sound similar to those that many, including me, experience during meditations (and even more much can be seen, experienced). Not everything is pure on the “etheric planes “, that was another idea that came to my mind, if using LSD one might need to be prepared to that as well. Just musing on the subject…

        And it is only good that my objectivity is being challenged, as that is how I want to look at things. Not to be emotionally clouded in my perceptions. A mirror to me to notice that I was challenged. 😀


      • I am always interested to hear about such experiences and I am much happier when they are achieved thanks to meditation. Not everything is joyful and pure on the “etheric plane” – this is certainly a fair warning.


  6. very illuminating for one who does not do drugs – the truth is so diverse from solid to energetic, both true – i wish i could thus flow into the field – but not yet for me – i need to evolve – but i know its there – thanks


  7. An another Introverted intuitive type, I prefer my inner world to ” reality”, yet I find when I am in a good place emotionally, I can better appreciate what appears to exist outside of me. My own artwork is very ” trippy” and I gravitate towards works that dazzle with color, texture, and plays with light. Whenever I can, I like to decorate the outside world so that it becomes more palatable. I use decoration here metaphorically, meaning I like to introduce music, color, scent, candles, etc to the environment, Even better is when I am feeling ” high” ( naturally or otherwise) and notice people, places, and the landscape enfused with a golden glow. This has occurred mostly during the throes of a mystical experience. Fortunately I do not need drugs to see differently and have not done acid ( as mentioned before). My past substance use was very expansive in terms of creative thoughts and insights however, and mainly featured extreme spells of laughter, the ubiquitous munchies, dreadful paranoia, and drowsiness!

    The images you chose here are stunning, especially the Alhambra, the bamboo, and the Monet. In summary, I think that all we sense is energetic anyway, filtered through our various ” bodies” and that solidity is an illusion. But my love of commenting here is not an illusion lol!


    • Linda, I really love to read your comments here. I do touch your Moon in Gemini, don’t I? 🙂 Sadly, I have no artistic talent whatsoever, so cannot paint or draw. But like you, I need to decorate and beautify my environment on a daily basis.


  8. Isa Ritchie says:

    I’m also intuitive and introverted. I’m also quite interested in psychedelics. Like any journey it always pays to be prepared and to have the tools to navigate. The only negative experiences I have heard of are from those who were in a situation they were uncomfortable and were not self-aware enough to navigate their own or collective subconsciousness.


  9. Debra says:

    “Without getting on the high horse (OK, maybe a little bit), I felt avenged when I encountered the ideas of quantum physics and of the mystics of various epochs.”

    Yes! Although I don’t like placing too much importance on the typology groupings (probably stemming from personal resistance to concretizing my identity), but I swing from INTJ to ENTJ depending on the day. Intuition is definitely a force to be reckoned with and sometimes I worry that it makes me a bit lazy when it comes to learning the cold hard facts.
    But yes, upon reading what little quantum physics I have read, the idea that the seemingly hard stuff of life is better understood as having an ambiguous sense of both substance and energy, or as Alan Watts calls them, wavicles (particles and waves at the same time), is perhaps the best way to imagine “thinginess” that accounts for both the motion and transforming of any given substance.

    I would describe my LSD experiences as smeary. Senses would run into each other and at times it seemed that the entire universe could be seen, heard, felt and understood by looking at the most mundane object, like the weave of a carpet. I remember saying to myself, “why, of course, the same patterns repeat in all of nature, why did I never notice this before?” The Lou Wain Progression above shows this wonderfully. Although the memories of what I sensed while “tripping” remain, I don’t think I gained much in the way of healthy personal transformation from the experiences.

    I do respect the fear around using these substances, even if I have no regrets for using them myself. It was a brief period of my life and I have never had the slightest inclination to use them since that time. But, as well, I abhor the indiscriminate use of psychotropics and think that there is much more abuse of legal substances today than the illegal ones.

    Years after dabbling with psychedelics, I dabbled with pretty intense forms of meditation through the church of Ananda. Again, that practice turned my world upside down, but in a very different way. Some emotional barrier that I didn’t know I had completely broke down and I cried everyday for a year. But, that led to having a kundalini energy experience that to this day I would say was more powerful than the psychedelics or the meditation. That would be another interesting thing to study up on, I think.

    Since having the Kundalini experience I feel different on every level of “feel.” It’s as if the barriers between myself, others and the things of the world have softened. The more I can remain open to the openness, the more compassion, love and beauty I am aware of. The conformity of clearly defined self/otherness does not seem as necessary or attractive as it once did.
    Sorry, long response again Monika!! I love this topic and reading your and everybody else’s insights is inspirational.


    • Debra, I really appreciate the time you invested in writing this, thank you so much. It is so illuminating on many levels.
      With much love and gratitude,


    • About Jungian types, I am not a fanatic, astrology is much finer a tool. I am an INFJ, which makes sense to me.


      • ptero9 says:

        Glad to see my comment made it here! Something went wrong when I was posting it and it seemed to disappear! I thought, well, it was kind of long anyway 🙂
        Yeah, I can see INTJ for me too. My boss is really into typology and she strongly encourages our team to take the test. We have had a lot of fun with it without taking it too seriously.
        Love your work here Monika, you really inspire me to think and write (as you can see :))


      • I am so happy to hear it!


  10. Wonderful! Are you familiar with the research on/with DMT (the spirit molecule)? There are free videos on it that fit well with what is being described. Similar to the understanding now that there is no solid form, equally it is understood that we are wired for ecstasy and bliss, beauty and the profound. Equally, our brain produces the juice that supports the experiences. Practiced meditators simply train to sustain the alchemy, thus transform patterns of thought from form-bound to form-less free.

    I look forward to more!


  11. MartsArts Poetrypictures says:

    As yourself and other commenters I’m also not positive about using drugs myself Monika. I think it only blurs our senses more than they already are and doesnt help for spirtual growth. Maybe it only helps to relativize our ‘normal’ way of interpreting a bit, which would be okay.
    I feel more challenge to get open for deeper meanings and energies with a fresh mind. Love ‘blurred paintings’ for that! (Maybe addicted a bit 🙂 ).


  12. Each “experience” or condition is unique unto ones’ self. When explained and transferred to another something will be lost. This is the limitation of language.

    Your most outstanding article was a delight to read Symbol Reader. So much research both individual and medical has gone into LSD (and other mind altering drugs) you would think we would have all there is to “know” about it. The mind is so deep that such is not the case nor could it ever be. Of coarse, continued research is the only answer.
    thank you once again for this great post!!


  13. Pingback: Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (3) | symbolreader

  14. shreejacob says:

    This is such an engaging post! So glad I’m doing catch up so I can just continue to read Part Three! 😀


  15. Pingback: Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (4) | symbolreader

  16. I was immediately struck by the similarity between Shiva and sychronicity. Such a great way to explain the mechanisms of synchronicity in a story.


  17. Pingback: Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (5) | symbolreader

  18. Pingback: Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (6) | symbolreader

  19. Pingback: Cartography of the Deep Human Psyche (7) | symbolreader

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