The Idea of a Living Language

The Linguistic Fractal

Biologist and Tibetan Buddhist, Francisco Varela, saw language in a broad sense as characteristic of living forms, their nested, transcalar component systems, and their structural organization “all the way down.” His view complements Terence McKenna’s views of the linguistic structure of reality, and Simon Powell’s living, intelligent, linguistic reality process, “the fantastic hypothesis.”
Varela makes a critical distinction between two kinds of descriptions of nature. Operational descriptions (scientific laws) have no need for purposiveness in their descriptions. Symbolic descriptions characterize an organism as linguistically structured, purposeful and communicating between systems and across levels to maintain biological autonomy.



DNA is the language of life, the program executing in every living cell in coordination with every other living cell, system of cells in tissues and organs, and the organism as a whole, revising and transmitting its language from generation to generation. The 64 codons of this language correspond to the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. Origin of life and origin of language theories approach each other in this linguistic view of reality.



Jeremy Narby, in The Cosmic Serpent, relates: “The spirits one sees in hallucinations are three-dimensional, sound-emitting images. In other words, they are made of their own language, like DNA.”1

Both shamans and molecular biologists agree that there is a hidden unity under the surface of life’s diversity; both associate this unity with the double helix shape (or two entwined serpents, a twisted ladder, a spiral staircase, two vines wrapped around each other); both consider that one must deal with this level of reality in order to heal. One can fill a book with correspondences between shamanism and molecular biology.2


Ourobouros, by Zarathus.


When language can describe it/self, and reflect upon it/self (re-entering its own form; in-forming it/self) the idea of a living language emerges. In McKenna’s DMT vision of language where the entities produce linguistic objects out of themselves, the objects turn into living beings, and the beings emit further linguistic objects, the transformational loop between life and language progresses at high speed. The circular connections between language and DNA as the language of life, become a self-enfolding system that accounts for itself.


Intimations of the panspermia or exogenesis hypotheses—the idea that life originated elsewhere in the physical universe and was seeded on Planet Earth—appear in psychedelic experience reports with regularity.

Meteor Shower

DNA is envisioned in this session as an illuminated manuscript.

the mission is the transmission
pay attention to the script

of the trans mission to illuminate the manuscript illuminate o | lumen | ate |the trans-|mission Alien architecture [much unreadable] a script we are this transmission the mission of the scripts making your presence felt felt felt dimensions of trust in the script of the transmission trust now as you stand you under stand the alien dimensions trust—where all was given to the script to the transmission so much so much depends upon finding the script of the transmission (AD_05.03.19, 5 gms dried stropharia cubensis)

An early version of this psychedelic idea is found in the McKenna brothers’ essay, The Mushroom Speaks.3

Psilocybin mushroom spore print.

“I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. . . . the means should be obvious: it is the occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiotes the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and Homo sapiens as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations.”

  1. Narby, J. (1999). The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge. New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher. []
  2. Narby, ibid. []
  3. Oss, O. T. and O. N. Oeric (1986). Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide, Quick American Publishing. []

4 Responses to “The Idea of a Living Language”

  1. I want to leave a comment that I am sure is going to cause much criticism. I am alone in terms of not having people who like these topics as I do in my vicinity. The other day I just commented to my aunt how people find new perceptions of themselves through Ayahuasca and heal; her response was basically “Sure nature moves and the river speaks; those people are crazy, they do not have a natural perception of reality, they just want to escape from work, they should be doing something, instead of being hallucinating and wasting their time”. I was silent for a second and left it at that for I knew no-use of language would get her to see anything positive about these plants. I smiled, gave in and we changed the topic. I live in Ecuador, and most of the people here would resist the idea of conceiving anything good coming from these practices. Ineffable is the only word that comes to my mind. My solace is internet. I live 6 hours away from the jungle, yet, nobody here sees it as good or necessary.

    • Antonio
    • Reply
    • That seriously needs to change. I understand your frustration all to well my friend. Just know that there are others out there who feel just as you do. The Plant teachers will be what transforms our society from the death cult it currently is to the one we all know is possible in our hearts. Stay strong! Blessed Be!

      • gary
      • Reply

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