Natural & Unnatural Language

tttttt ttttttttt
here is the lines the transmission being here ray-diate the dimensional script so words shiver across themselves transmit mitten tran-smitten manuscript script of the full filament (AD_05.03.25 5 gm dried Stropharia cubensis)

The quote above, from my record of psychedelic session reports, gives a sense of natural language morphing into word-play and puns. The letter “t” was written quite large, and the visual pun is of high-powered electrical transmission lines.The effects of various psychoactive substances on perception—visual, aural, gustatory—have been widely studied and noted in the literature, both scientific and in personal experience reports.
The effects of psychoactives on natural language functioning—speaking and listening, reading and writing, have received far less attention.The image below is from my first session with stropharia cubensis, and shows the point where natural language began dissolving into line.


Language dissolving into line. Sea Ranch, 2001. First session stropharia cubensis.


The language used in guiding a psychedelic experience is seen as exceptionally potent to individuals in altered states of consciousness. The language used can program the trip profoundly, positively or negatively; an effect Richard Doyle calls ”an extraordinary sensitivity to initial rhetorical conditions”1
Stanley Krippner cites a particularly vivid and sadistic experiment reported by Masters and Houston:
The subject was told by the psychiatrist that he would have “a terrible, terrible experience” filled with “strong anxiety and delusions.” The drug was administered in an antiseptic hospital room with several observers in white coats watching him. As the effects came on, the psychiatrist asked such questions as, “Is your anxiety increasing?” At the end of the experiment, the subject was in a state of panic. The psychiatrist announced to the group is indeed a “psychotomimetic” substance, which induces psychotic behavior.2


Brion Gysin, A Trip from Here to There, 1958

In terms of the linguistic content of visions, cognitive psychologist and ayahuasca researcher Benny Shanon identifies a category of “Books, Scripts, and Symbols.”

Brion Gysin, detail from "Untitiled"

“Many people report seeing inscriptions of letters, numerals, or other signs. Both in my case and in that of my informants, on some occasions the characters seen were made of, or engraved in, gold or silver. Often these are in scripts or languages that the Ayahuasca drinker characterizes as ones he or she cannot decipher or understand. Some informants say that they do manage to decipher and understand messages in scripts and/or languages that actually are not familiar to them.”3



“It is not I who speak,” said Heraclitus, “it is the logos.” Language is an ecstatic activity of signification. Intoxicated by the mushrooms, the fluency, the ease, the aptness of expression one becomes capable of are such that one is astounded by the words that issue forth from the contact of the intention of articulation with the matter of experience. –Henry Munn4

Anthropologist Henry Munn’s work describes curandera Maria Sabina’s “ecstatic significations” as language brought to a heightened potency, a “curing with words.” And, as Richard Doyle proposes in the ecodelic hypothesis, eloquence is deep in nature as an adjunct to the organism’s—plant and animal—strategy for food (eating and avoidance of being eaten) and sexual selection, the two primary survival activities. These eloquent and highly specific forms of communication often intermix the dual motives of food and sex, as nectar-drinking and flower pollination become part of the same symbiotic act.




Wikipedia defines glossolalia or speaking in tongues as “the fluid vocalizing (or, less commonly, the writing) of speech-like syllables, often as part of religious practice. Though some consider these utterances to be meaningless, others consider them to be a holy language.” These utterances are often associated with ASC, and their interpretation depends on the framework of the interpreter. To the psychologist, they can be heard as pathological, dissociative states; to the ethnographer confronted with the culturally bizarre they have been described as hysteria, frenzy, or “utter gibberish.”
It appears to be a broad, cross-cultural phenomenon of considerable antiquity; the appearance of glossolalic utterances in shamanic cultures relating to communication with spirits would indicate roots in the distant past. The Biblical description in Acts of the original Pentecostal speaking in tongues brought on by the Holy Spirit is another cultural formation of the Other speaking through the entranced person or persons.




  1. Doyle, Richard. (2011) Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noösphere.Seattle: University of Washington Press. []
  2. Krippner, S. (1970). The Effects of Psychedelic Experience on Language Functioning. Psychedelics: The Uses and Implications of Hallucinogenic Drugs. B. A. a. H. Osmond. New York, Doubleday & Company. []
  3. Shanon, B. (2002). The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience. Oxford, Oxford University Press. []
  4. Munn, H. (1973). The Mushrooms of Language. Hallucinogens and Shamanism. M. J. Harner. London, Oxford University Press. []

3 Responses to “Natural & Unnatural Language”

  1. It’s an amazing piece of writing designed for all the web visitors; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.

  2. “…the puberties of the linguistic anatomy (tongue, larynx, brain centers) underlying further meditative/mental maturation begin: simha-asana (tongue-extended “lion-pose” seen in certain goddess images) and nabho mudra (inward-turned tongue, “heaven-delight gesture”) precursors of khecari mudra (tongue curls back in delight above the soft palate), initiating the puberties of the hypoglossal-larnyx, hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal; anahata- nada, known rudimentarily as “speaking in tongues” and resounding in the sacred chantings of numerous cultures, emerge…”

    • Uli
    • Reply
    • I’d like to hear more about this!


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