Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  

Altered Ego

teafaerie | Musings | Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Altered Ego

The Teafaerie is a superhero. She also sometimes refers to herself in the third person. Mostly it’s just a silly conceit. There’s something behind it, though. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and what it means to be an “I” in the first place; and while I haven’t come to any startlingly original conclusions, I have managed to find a relationship to my self-nature that’s more of an ongoing game than a constant battle. It didn’t used to be that way, so this happy state of affairs represents a sort of philosophical victory for me. Maybe you’ve always known exactly who you are, and if so then you’re either very lucky, very wise, or you simply haven’t asked yourself the wrong question yet. If this is you, consider navigating away from this page right now and finding something safer to read. I’d hate to be the one to confuse you.

Psychedelics have a way of making philosophers of us all. I just looked up philosophy, and Wikipedia says it’s the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Even people who would never think of themselves as philosophical types occasionally grapple with these issues on psychedelic drugs, and those of us who like to over-think things can and often do ramble on about such nonsense late into the night, trying to convey or interpret our unique insights as well as throwing well-worn chestnuts onto the open fire and stirring them around until they pop. One thing that seems to come up again and again is the problem of ego. What the heck is this persistent sense of individual selfness, what does it mean, what is it for, and what (if anything) is to be done about it?

Freud described the ego as the organized part of the personality structure where conscious awareness resides. It’s kind of a patched together composite that seeks to serve the id’s natural drives in a socially successful way, while at the same time trying to live up to the superego’s higher ideals. We are told that our consciousness as we usually know and love it is an emergent effect of that integration processing taking place. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Or rather, the doing of it implies or manifests “a somebody”, and that somebody is the tormented construct that we tend to think of as ourselves. The ego can be said to be our sense of self. Tellingly, the word is most often used colloquially to denote our sense of self-importance. If someone is “full of herself”, that person is said to have an enormous ego. This is commonly understood to be a bad thing. And for the most part it is. Maybe. The ego exists for a reason, though, and I think that it gets an unfairly bad rap generally and in psychedelic culture in particular.

Scorekeepers in the psychedelic locker room are forever asking people if they’ve lost their egos yet, and making them feel like virgins if they don’t say yes. I remember being a little (and not-so-little) virgin myself, and listening to the more experienced girls talk about “losing it” with a sort of jealous trepidation. What did I have to lose in the first place? What might I hope to get in exchange? People gush about “ego-death” as if it were a consummation devoutly to be wished. And then many of those who claim to have had it go on to preside over the wake in what appears to be a fit of acute egomania. Maybe the undead zombie ego takes over or something…

Everybody is always trying to break down the poor old ego, and people who are interested in consciousness expansion seem to be particularly keen to stamp it out. Psychedelics are supposed to dissolve the ego, though I don’t know exactly who it is that supposedly supposes this in the light of psychedelic history. And yes, of course it’s really true. And yes I’ve had a bunch of ego-defying drug experiences ranging from simple unconsciousness to something that I’d ironically be inclined to style as a “plus-five”, if only the Shulgin scale could be expanded to account for its occurrence. I’ve also had drugs cause or play a role in a few episodes of full-blown messianic inflation, complete with delusions of grandeur. I am immensely amused by both ends of the spectrum, and take them both at face value with an economy-sized salt lick on the side. I’m not even sure that psychedelics actually break down the ego at all. What I think they really do is dissolve some of the boundary conditions in which the ego arises, thus deconditioning the lens of awareness from its normal, healthy, survival-promoting fixation upon the here-and-now activities and affairs of the individual, and allowing it to slide more freely up and down the broad continuum of conscious experience. It’s as if we most often see the world through a telescope that’s stuck at a fixed focal length, and psychedelics can unstick it so that it becomes possible to zoom in and out, thereby gaining firsthand experience of processes taking place at levels not normally subject to our conscious observation. At one end of the continuum is the perception of the self-as-god, and way over on the other end you have the perception of god-as-self. Both are equally true, false, and meaningless of course; and in a sense, they’re not all that far apart. I’ve seen trippers toggle back and forth between the oceanic experience and megalomaniacal ravings on more than one occasion. In fact, I tend to associate the two phenomena in my mind, and I suspect that the difference between these apparently opposite states is more a matter of fine-tuning than we might be led to expect.

At one end of the spectrum is a state of superinflation that seems to confirm some people’s lifelong suspicion that the universe really does, in fact, revolve around them after all. My friend Seuss dean has an unsinkable ego. No, really. So naturally (if somewhat paradoxically) he became rather fixated on the quest to obliterate it, at least for a moment, as a matter of pride. I’ll never forget the time I saw him take twelve (twelve!) big cloudy-looking hits of 5-MeO-DMT and then proceed to eat a pop tart while he chatted casually about how lucky we were to have landed such choice roles in the cosmic drama. It was like watching Zaphod Beeblebrox emerge from the Total Perspective Vortex in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The Vortex is a torture device that floods its victim with one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation and the relative size and importance of themselves within it. Zaphod was an egomaniac and the device was intended to destroy him, but because all this occurred in a fake copy of the universe that had been created for Zaphod’s benefit, he saw himself as central and was quite amused by the experience. I’ve had some fairly solipsistic trips myself, come to think of it. I can’t bring myself to take them too seriously, though. If everybody who ever thought that they were the One when they were tripping really was some kind of messiah or something, there would be an awful lot of messiahs running around, now wouldn’t there?

The so-called “ego death” experience defines the other extreme of this continuum, and it’s an interesting topic to explore. I’ve had a few different versions of it, ranging from the utterly forgettable to the single most significant event in my entire life. I assume that the latter is probably closer to what everybody keeps raving about. The thing is, I really don’t remember much of the truly fascinating part. I do recall the vividly felt sense of just having had IT “holy shit for reals this time”, but apparently my memory couldn’t manage to hold onto much of the blessed experience itself. It’s simply not set up to record that kind of thing. Recording implies an observer–an ego, if you will. And mine was shot to shit at the time. There was no film in my internal camera, if indeed it was turned on at all. This is pretty typical in my experience as a trip-sitter as well. I’ve seen something happen quite a few times that, at least from the outside, appeared to be indistinguishable from the canonical “enlightenment” experience. I always try to get audio and video records for the subjects if that’s in line with their battle plans, because I know damned well that they’re probably not going to remember a bit of it. So what’s the point of having the experience in the first place? Many people report that the run up to their ego-loss experiences was more than a little bit frightening, and even those who fall into ecstatic bliss at the event horizon often draw a blank when asked to describe the true core of the mystery beyond to their curious counterparts back home in psycho-spiritual Flatland.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against enlightenment or its near relatives. It’s obvious that when one is properly prepared to receive it, this sort of experience can have real and lasting value. I just don’t think that it’s the end-all-be-all. Or I guess maybe it is. But I’m not particularly tempted to try to move in there yet. I’m not attracted to any philosophy that suggests that life is a trick or a trap. The universe is awesome and I’m thrilled to play my part in its magnificent unfolding. I’ve had it up to my pineal gland with all of all these so-called “spiritual” people who spend most of their time and energy just trying to beat the game and stop the ride. Many of them seem to be attempting to annihilate the observer all together. But the rub is that if they manage to succeed, they–as they understand themselves–won’t really be around to enjoy whatever the perks of enlightenment might turn out to be! If such a perfected one happened to be lucky enough to live in, say, a spiritual community in India, he or she could hope to be propped up on pillows by adoring fans who might at least be counted upon to keep the fresh fruit and incense coming. In America, where I live, someone who lost his ego and then couldn’t find it again (or didn’t choose to look for it), might well end up in the tender care of the mental health system. Which, you know, may be alright if one were enlightened, I guess…

Nevertheless, I know what people mean when they say that psychedelics help them keep their egos in check. To the extent that the ego is the amalgamation of all of our accumulated psychological habits–our minor anxieties and pet peeves, our obsessions, our defenses, our yearnings, fears and kinks (as well as our passions, hopes, and dreams)–psychedelics and empathogens seem like ideal tools to address any imbalances that might arise. Psychedelics are terrific for optimizing processes, sorting and integrating unconscious data, cleaning up old thought loops, and releasing unwanted beliefs and patterns of behavior. I often come away from a good trip feeling like I just had my engine retuned and my hard drive defragged. I think that psychedelics can aid and support the ego in its vital activities and help it to heal when it becomes dysfunctional or unbalanced. But if you treat the ego like a cancer and your goal is just to shrink and weaken it with a sort of psychedelic chemotherapy, you risk throwing the baggie out with the bongwater. You may be wise to want to break down your ego a little bit, but having your ego break down on you is another matter entirely. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not so pretty.

I love who I am when I take psychedelics. I have to. Interdimensional travel can be more than a little bit challenging, and I find that the only constant I can count on is myself. Fortunately psychedelics tend to selectively suppress the parts of my personality that discourage and annoy me, and amplify the aspects of my psyche that I particularly like. At least they do now. It’s been something of a long strange journey, I assure you. The first time I fell in (or “lost my ego”, or whatever), the first time I experienced myself as the continuum rather than as an individual, I had an existential crisis. Like many people, I’d naturally always equated the ego with the soul. I thought of myself as sort of a ghost living inside of my body. This ghost was the source of all of my thoughts, feelings, and personality traits; and I hoped–without much confidence–that it would go on living elsewhere after my death. The experience that I had seemed to reveal the ego as a hacked-together and bug-ridden construct that originated in my brain. My viewpoint suddenly shifted, and I was able to see my persona from the outside. And then it came unmoored all together, and I was at once my cells, myself, my intimates, the entire human race, sentient life in general, and the whole grand scheme of things entire. Which was awesome and all, but I was totally unprepared for that sort of a whammy and it left me feeling more shattered and confused than enlightened. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I worried that I might be a figment of my own imagination. (It turns out that I’m a figment of Seuss dean’s imagination, and he of mine, but that’s a story to be told another time.) I was depressed for months, actually. I stopped believing in myself. It was kind of like the existential revelation about there being no meaning in the universe besides what you choose to apply to it. At first I could only hear the scary part about there being no inherent meaning, and it took me a long time to focus my attention on the liberating part that says you get to define it all for yourself. Not that I’m an existentialist. But I had the same thing happen when I first saw the wiring under the board as far as the ego is concerned. At first it was really scary and depressing, but eventually I figured out that if my self-nature doesn’t just exist as a given, I’m free to tinker with it. That’s when the fun part started.

Psychedelics are excellent metaprogramming tools. Long before I started actively sculpting my psyche, I noticed that certain drugs made me feel “more like myself” than I typically felt when I was sober. I know that it sounds funny, but it still rings true. I don’t really have a good theory for why it works that way. Maybe it has to do with that optimizing of processes that I was talking about earlier. Maybe it’s because I’m better able to tune into my own body, or to other people, environments, or archetypal energies. I kind of feel like it’s a resonance thing–as if various parts of my psyche are chronically out-of-tune, and psychedelics help me harmonize and come into “a chord” with myself. Which is convenient, because I find that maintaining a strong sense of self is fundamental to my psychedelic practice. When my ego is weak I get frightened more easily and I have more trouble navigating. I forget my intention and it’s harder to complete processes. The weaker my personality is, the more likely other energies are to get the upper hand in a scuffle. Besides, if I just dissolve in the first wave of ecstatic bliss that comes along, I end up passing out in the corner and missing all the fun. A shaman needs to have a strong will. Which is not to say that a shaman doesn’t need to be humble and capable of surrender. Sometimes you’ve got to let go. It’s a balancing act, though–especially when there are other explorers who are counting on you for guidance and support. In a cartoon picture of a primitive village, you can always tell which character is supposed to be the shaman because he looks like a superhero. Shamans really are superheroes in a way, even though they don’t always dress the part.

Now I don’t think of myself as a shaman, but I do think of myself as a psychedelic superhero, and that perception can really save the day when I’m facing down a swarm of hyper-dimensional clowns or I suddenly need to warp time and space in order to get to the bathroom and back. So I cultivate it. Not just when I’m on drugs, but all the time. Because it helps to be a superhero when you’re facing your boss down, too. Just think of yourself as a character in a massively multiplayer role-playing game called Life. Or rather, think of yourself as the player: design the character that you want to play and commit to it. The fact you know on some level that it’s a construct is a feature, not a bug. It means that you can step into it at will, and set it down without trauma when it’s time to transcend. Seuss dean and I have developed an entire mock religion around this notion. We call it Avatarism, which is a word that our good friend irReverend Alexander made up to describe the process of developing Character while still identifying yourself with the Player, the higher-self, and the seamless ground-of-being. If you know how to build a temple in Second Life, get in touch with me. I kind of think that it could take off on the Internet. That might just be my big ego talking, though.

The ego is like a sharp machete that hangs off of your belt. I can’t remember who made this analogy up, but it wasn’t me. Mighta been my husband. Anyway, you need your machete, right? You’ve got to hack your way through the jungle and defend yourself from leopards and whatever. But you’ve got to make sure that you sheathe it away properly when you’re not using it, or it will slice the fuck out of your leg and you’ll bleed to death from just walking around. The trick to managing the ego is to keep it in perspective and strive to find a healthy balance. Kind of like everything else in life. I think that it’s awesome that a more robust dialogue is starting to develop between Eastern and Western philosophy, because the East seems to have a better grip on the Atman and the collective unconscious, while the West has historically been all about the development of the individual. Both are necessary and important, in my humble opinion. Maybe they’re just two sides of the same coin. We are both the undifferentiated ground-of-being, and the figure that is dancing upon it. We are all One, and yet if there were only one parachute between us we’d be in competition. It’s important for me to be able to tell which one of us I am, because I’m responsible for that person’s credit card bills–to say nothing of her eternal salvation. Besides, without Characters we wouldn’t have any Story. And then where we would we be? Marinating in cosmic bliss, maybe. But we wouldn’t really know it, so it doesn’t really count. So sayeth the Teafaerie speaking ex cathedra from her bellybutton. Ahem.

Play safe kids–and remember: It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an I.


  1. somebody has to be there to open the door when visitors arrive. i love to be greeted by superheros. peace and love 2-u, ziggity winbat

    Comment by larry — June 3, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

  2. Teafaerie: Amen, homegrrl! I couldn’t have said it better myself, although my ego might demand that I try. This article was so true I laughed until I giggled. Thank you for explaining how I felt- how We feel- so accurately. One day we’ll just compile your musings and writings into a book that we hand out like a hitchhiker’s guide to the multiverse, only by then our colloquial American hippie English will have been forgotten except for the outlines of a dead language studied only by scholars, and the straight-simple sense you made to your contemporaries will be garbled into a nonsense noise of mumbling mantras, which will only confuse people terrified by their slipping grip on selfhood. Then they will have to figure it out for themselves and their selves, and another Teafaerie might be born to explain it again in whatever vernacular is spoken in that far future. Thanks for taking the trouble to jot down some truth and share it with the world, -J

    Comment by Jake B. — June 4, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  3. Hey Teafaery,

    I myself have never had problems with remembering the whole trip and what has happened even though i’ve gone way over the ego usual I/me boundaries. Although before I started experimenting with psychedelics I had already started to integrate the habit of taking herbal remedies just to make me more efficient in anything, I have noticed that particularly herb called Gotu Kola (latin. Centella Asiatica) helps tremendously with integrating the psychedelic experiences. My friend who had been tripping for the past 6 years and hadn’t really got too much out of it – just doing it for fun – took gotu kola with LSD. The next week he came to work he was somewhat changed a bit and started almost immeaditely asking have you experienced this this and this.

    The point here that some other plants that are not psychedelic in the words sense can help alot with psychedelics. Even without tripping Gotu Kola seems to make your brain go to quantum speed, if someone comes asks about something that you know, the answer will come without even thinking. Also it seems to overall improve memory alot which is the part of it that seems to help to integrate the psychedelic experiences.

    So if anyone is interested in getting more out of the experiences and possibly even remember all of it even when you dive so deep that the sense of self disappears in the ordinay bodily sense. I suggest trying gotu kola. I haven’t tested it with any other than LSD, but id say it should work with others as well.

    Comment by Retep — June 4, 2010 @ 3:44 am

  4. You know, i often get this feeling reading your creative musings dear Teafaerie, this old familiar feeling of having been shown the deepest recesses of all-that-is, followed with a mind-wiping via some amnesial wand, and then returned to my chair in front of the screen with a little smile at something i can’t quite recall.
    It’s thoroughly delicious, a guided voyage down tunnels of contemplation, with gemstone glints of revelation and dark pits down which it is better not to gaze. Thank you for these trips we’ve shared, and for all your lines, the threads which lead out and back from the tunnels into the open plains of a home realm, mind reeling with possiblity, heart buoyant with mystery, and feet clad in sensible, yet sensitive slippers.

    Ta! May your breakfast be lovely!

    Comment by Nick Cardwell — June 4, 2010 @ 4:37 am

  5. As with anything in Life, you have to keep up with the upkeep otherwise it will descend into a big ol’ mess. A guitar will stay in tune for awhile but you must re-tune it every so often, unless you’re into that whole out-of-whack sort of thing

    Perfect timing with this article as always

    Comment by Alex — June 4, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  6. Yup. I agree. Thanks for the article. The whole ego loss idea confused me enormously in the beginning, and now, about ten years later, I can say that all that those experiences did was making my ego stronger. Being able to differentiate better. I hardly ever lose control anymore, and occasionally I’m feeling kind of nostalgic about the old times, when things always went terribly askew beyond repair, and I was taught to accept and give in the hard way. I even spent three days in a hospital because of it.

    The last trips were like a re-run of an old television series. It was as if the drug said: “what do you need me for? the lesson is over. now go outside and learn something about life.” — so I’m trying not to linger; instead I’m acting more, preparing to make a difference in the world.

    Comment by Leonard Ritter — June 4, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  7. Awesome!

    Gotta become somebody before you can become nobody…

    I can really really relate to all of this. What you said about that existential realization that there is no inherent meaning…. what a bummer that is! It takes a big, bold, daring step to turn that around and see it the other way, as a privilege, not a burden.

    You’re a fantastic writer. Thank you for making sense ;)

    Comment by Keef! — June 4, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  8. Hello Teafaerie !!

    I wanna just say that i’ve just saw you on the nat geo doc about lsd… it was so great to see you ! in the first moment you appeared i guessed it was you hahah

    Nice to have that face of the coin about the subject.

    Greetings to you, from Chile :]

    Comment by Sakyr — June 4, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  9. Love your writings and musings! Thank you for contributing so often. I didn’t realize that was you on the Nat Geo program on LSD, that’s pretty cool!

    Comment by Theophany — June 7, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  10. Dear Tea Faerie,

    When I read of Dr Seuss’ experiences with 5meo-dmt I could feel my heart break for him. I get the impression however that neither you or he sees this tragedy, but his inability to let go of his ego long enough to experience the great mysterium is the real loss. Also, I wonder why there is such a persistent denigration in your columns of all things “spiritual”? I can only guess you had unpleasant experiences around “spiritual” matters during your formative years? I say this because most spiritual adepts I have met in my 50 years of travel have never described the elimination of the ego as either desirable or practical. The ego and it’s healthy development are essential to living a divine life. As I see it the “ego” is God’s way of experience the limited, the unique and diverse set of experiences possible from that veiled form. It’s further expansion and contraction as necessary at will is a useful and necessary tool in the true spiritual path.

    As one truly develops a healthy ego, which includes permeable boundaries, one experiences the connectedness and unity of all things. Having done 5meo myself, as well as guided dozens of others on this most sacred journey, there is no paradox of the ability to experience this great unity without an ego. The entire Tibetan tradition is focuses on this very thing, and says that as one develops themselves, they will be able to enter and re-enter the great Clear Light with full awareness, memory and knowledge. I have found this to be true of all psychonauts who have progressed similarly. If you can’t remember the wisdom of these ego loss experiences, then I suggest beginning a contemplative practice of some kind.

    Taking on “grandiose” personalities, such as being a superhero, a god, avatar, or other manifest incarnation are part of the wonders of the divine expression. I can only hope for your sake and those around you however, that you don’t mistake the “superhero” as “you”. It’s a seductive trap that will always and without fail end badly for that “ego”.

    Peace to you,


    Comment by RJ — June 7, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  11. The problem with all of this ranting against the unfortunate quest for ‘ego-death’ is that all your surrounding information and its implied motivations are gleaned from derivatives of derivatives, and so on – often much more than twice removed from the source. And yet it seems everyone is all too willing to fudge the facts simply to make a point, or to express their own personal and emotionally invested opinions.

    Its a bit like saying “well, I dont really know what it is or what it is like, but I guess it may be like so-and-so, and that is horrible! so its definitely bad… ok maybe I dont really know… (but Im too invested in the infallibility of my own world view so Im gonna go ahead and believe Im right anyway)..”

    So how much of that parenthetical thought is sub-conscious and not fully conscious? Thats part of the problem. Its much less about the ideas and 2nd-hand information that you heard from someone who heard from someone, and much more about the actual personal experience of reality, and the structure of the mind itself.

    Its all too easy to place every person working in a traditional system of spirituality or wisdom (or whatever) into a pile of hapless idiots who just cant understand that life is so awesome, like you can. But there isnt really much else to do when you just dont know anything about what you are talking about (regarding the quest for ego-death). Really the only thing you can do is draw from what you do know. It certainly gets worse when any kind of assumption comes into play, regardless of which direction it goes.

    [[[[[ “I just don’t think that it’s the end-all-be-all. Or I guess maybe it is. But I’m not particularly tempted to try to move in there yet. I’m not attracted to any philosophy that suggests that life is a trick or a trap. The universe is awesome and I’m thrilled to play my part in its magnificent unfolding. I’ve had it up to my pineal gland with all of all these so-called “spiritual” people who spend most of their time and energy just trying to beat the game and stop the ride. Many of them seem to be attempting to annihilate the observer all together. But the rub is that if they manage to succeed, they–as they understand themselves–won’t really be around to enjoy whatever the perks of enlightenment might turn out to be! “]]]]]]]

    Unfortunately that is a guess and a very poor one. Your ideas that certain philosophies espouse that the universe is just a trick or a trap is so reductionist and simplistic because it is 90% guesswork. If you’ve never eaten an apple before, then you wont know what an apple tastes like – no matter how many times someone describes it to you, and no matter how many words you can write on the subject. If you have never eaten an apple before, you just dont know. But can you admit that? Or is that too difficult when you find others talking about apples?

    Its just unfortunate that so many people consider themselves above “all this enlightenment business and its unfortunate effects on the happiness and productivity of people”. Its a denigration of an aspect of the human mind which has been investigated for thousands of years – with the equivalence of knowledge gained from a fortune cookie. Its only because the topic is so poorly understood by the common man that such thoughts actually attain veracity among the public at large. People say “well, I dont know anything about it really, but at least you have made me feel like I am better than all that crap anyways”.

    Really it comes down to the basics of exploring consciousness. Do you really know the motivations behind your actions? Can you really tell where your instinctual impulses end and your “ego” begins? Can you tell where the ideas gleaned from your environment ends and the ideas generated by your own mind begins? Are you conscious of being conscious?

    These kinds of questions are much less explored by the common man because they dont really allow a person to stake a claim on something and be “right” about it. There is less definition and more grey area, less solidity and more empty space. Its not a comfortable thing.

    That is why the wisdom traditions that speak about these things are considered WORK. They are not a recreational activity, or just a way to cop an ecstatic buzz while riding an astral unicorn through a haze of incense smoke. There is actual growth and evolution involved with these traditions, that is their focus and that is why they have survived since the dawn of time. They are a further point, not some nihilistic oblivion. Some of these traditions have gone hand-in-hand with psychoactive plants, and that is why the modern psychedelic culture embraces the concepts derived from them.

    However, we all know that by the time a particular idea reaches the pop culture level its already been diluted to various degrees – and especially when considering aspects of ancient traditions from another culture entirely… the dilution is almost guaranteed to be complete.

    So if you really want to know what all the fuss about “ego-death” is about, you should try investigating the source of the concept and its why it has even gained usage amongst the community. And no, it doesnt begin with Freud.

    But, perhaps you would rather not know. After all, it might entail actual work – or worse.. you may end up being WRONG!

    Or perhaps thats what its all about in the first place…

    Comment by solar particles — June 7, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  12. Dear Teafaerie,don’t be so glib,
    about the ineffable,please don’t tell fibs,
    don’t seek to demean or to trivialise,
    those joyous epiphanies that often change lives,
    to be sardonic and jaded about ego death,
    tells me you’ve missed the point, I guess,
    been there,seen it,done it,wrote the book,
    Says you’ve gone there blind unable to look,
    to seek enlightenment with a fool for a guide,
    it’s hardly surprising you you merely got a carnival ride,
    the wisdom traditions seem to have bypassed you,
    and all the rest of your ego tripping crew,
    the reason I can say,and I seem to know,
    is a secret that I rarely choose to show,
    cos you see I’m a faerie too,
    fired up on own endogenous brew
    Bipolar flying on 1Wheel,my colour is pink,
    It’s down to the toad venom in my head I think,
    a veritable factory producing DMT,
    and all it’s varieties are produced within me,
    epiphanies,& wisdom are there to be found,
    but rarely when you’re partying and fooling around,
    rather when you’re meditating,and sitting still on the ground,
    they’re easy to miss flying around in your brain
    it’s your need to contemplate you need to train
    that quiet wisdom is easily missed,
    seek it when you’re sober not when you’re pissed.
    all the luck of the faerie folk,I’m wishing your way,
    And I think that’s all I’ve got to say.
    Lots of luv 1Wheel (AKA the Pink Faerie)

    Comment by 1Wheel — June 10, 2010 @ 5:15 am

  13. Now that’s a word I’ve had problems substantiating in my life experience. Yes, I’ve read the definitions and it does make sense to some degree. But the interweaving of consciousness seems to be much more fluid, even complex and intrinsic than these labels permit. I first came into contact with the term through psychoanalysis literature and repeatedly found it mentioned in trip reports. And too wondered how the so called “ego-death” could be applied in terms of experience. I perceive at least two major applications for the word ego, one which attends to a selfish nature, someone who places individual satisfaction and necessity superiorly to the concerns or interests of others, and, as described above, the most accessible level of consciousness by which we organize everyday living. Truly one can have a strong sense of self-awareness without necessarily having “a big ego”. My unsuccessful attempts to interpret, even identify in my conscious structure these fixed psychoanalytic models led me gradually disuse the terms altogether. Though I have experienced and contributed to the psychedelic literature what felt to me as an ego-death experience. And it is clear, for obvious reasons, I never stopped being me, but as this so called “me” is in direct link with what goes up in my head, for some blessed reason certain chemicals make “me” go “wee!” or “who me?”, not that I wouldn’t ask that question on a normal setting as well. But as my name, my likes and dislikes, the activities that occupy my day and many other aspects of characterization defragment into psychedelic scrabble, what’s left for consciousness to achieve self-identification but the ripples of energy that pulses us to life and indivisible words like “everything” and “nothing”. Clearly characterization is the delimitation of… character: I do this, I like that, speak in a certain manner, react in a certain way and psychedelics can sometimes strip that apart and diffuse individual perception into the collective apprehension, as in feeling in one’s own nature, human nature and the nature of life in its entirety, or even, to one same indistinguishable output profound grief and profound joy, as paradoxes melt away in the light of coherence: comes down to one word: liveliness, intensified and expanded.

    There is nothing crazier than the truth
    But truly crazy
    Are those who truth do not wish see

    Comment by halion — June 11, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  14. Having read the ‘Teatime Musings’ with great interest and pleasure for the past several months, I’ve come to look forward to this part of Erowid’s monthly e-mail. I must say, though, I find this month’s the least impressive of the musing so far. I agree with the last two comments, particularly this part:
    “…the wisdom traditions that speak about these things are considered WORK. They are not a recreational activity, or just a way to cop an ecstatic buzz while riding an astral unicorn through a haze of incense smoke. There is actual growth and evolution involved with these traditions, that is their focus and that is why they have survived since the dawn of time. They are a further point, not some nihilistic oblivion. Some of these traditions have gone hand-in-hand with psychoactive plants, and that is why the modern psychedelic culture embraces the concepts derived from them.”

    Have a look at Sufism.

    Comment by McD — June 13, 2010 @ 6:21 am

  15. The ‘ego’ as in ‘ego death’ has nothing to do with Freud’s concept of ‘ego’ as in ‘superego and id’. the ego that dies during an intense trip is the self-controller homunculus that holds the steering wheel in the brain. This article contains very little accurate information about ego death, it ought to mention Michael Hoffman’s cybernetic theory of ego death.

    Comment by Max Freakout — June 14, 2010 @ 3:12 am

  16. Hay! Thanks for that great write-up. I think you did a wonderful job, and in a humorous way too. It made me want to experience some of the things you wrote about.

    Comment by TheSoulofAmerica — June 21, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  17. lovely writeup my dear :)~ fond memories of sailing across the playa on La Contessa without my I and no patch to cover the whole… you’re an excellent writer and i look forward to more of your musings and perchance seeing you and your husband on the black rock desert ~

    Comment by core — July 2, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  18. Teafaerie, regarding your point:

    “… my memory couldn’t manage to hold onto much of the blessed experience itself. It’s simply not set up to record that kind of thing. Recording implies an observer–an ego, if you will. And mine was shot to shit at the time. There was no film in my internal camera, if indeed it was turned on at all. This is pretty typical in my experience as a trip-sitter as well …”

    I once found myself in a very unusual state of consciousness, which following many discussions, I’ve come to believe is quite rare. I wandered the streets for hours, with no understanding of who or what I was … my sense of self was nothing but an extremely vague, distant and confusing memory, independent of time and space. I did not exist, and never had existed. I was nothing and yet I was all things and all things were me.

    Despite this profound state of consciousness, my ability to reason was intact, however altered, and I spent much of my time, albeit in a state of terror, experimenting with the material world around me in a desperate attempt to determine what ‘I’ was … biting rocks to see if I could bite through them, walking in front of moving vehicles to see whether they would drive through me … cutting myself to see whether I would bleed … ultimately I ended up in the nut-house for the night. But despite having no framework from which to understand my own existence (ego), my memory of the incident is quite clear, my physical coordination was quite good, and my observer was at least partially intact throughout the experience. And so, I’m not sure whether it is correct to suggest that ‘an observer’ and ‘an ego’ could be interchangeable terms.

    Comment by Cyclops — July 13, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  19. Note: This article is now part of a synchronicity wave of change upon which a messiah rides.

    Comment by דניאל — August 29, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  20. You Rock Tea Fairie!! :) I think that on an adventure we move through all sorts of different myths and legends. I think perhaps the idea of self as some sort of reincarnation is a result of hundreds of years of discussion about those individuals being somehow more important or profound than the rest! I’m sure Buddah’s friends said some good stuff too like, “lighten up buddah..” :D And then, some other ideas of being some past mythological figure I think are a result of violence and fear. Years and years of entire civilizations acting like there was some sort of heirachy to the sacred nature of existence.

    before i go,, a poem..
    What A Mess!
    ..who’s gonna clean this up?!..:D

    Comment by eyorca — September 22, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment