He Craved Lucidity.

As HIAB-X.COM evolves and fills with more content, I’ll be dedicating more of my writing to  experiences with altered states of consciousness. I haven’t deliberately meddled with my perceptions for many years now although the historical legacy of my adventures during my twenties still has a very profound impact on my world view today. I’m not ashamed of where I’ve taken myself, I sought answers to questions that couldn’t be adequately be answered by anyone else’s written accounts, I had to see things and experience them for myself.

During the period of my twenties, probably somewhere around 1996, I began taking an interest in the phenomenon of lucid dreaming. I’d read a fair amount about the subject and felt a natural gravity towards experimentation with techniques suggested to induce one.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it’s pretty straight forward. Ordinarily, everyone dreams, you may not always remember it but it’s a hardwired biological fact. If, like me, you are fortunate to have good dream recall, it logically follows that all dreams as most of us experience them, are events that occur in the night, where the dreamer remains completely unaware of the condition of being in a dream until awakening in the morning. At this point, the awareness of the dream is that of a collection of fragmented, recollections of what had happened in the dreamers mind at night.

Happy with that definition? Good.

OK, a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer’s critical faculties kick in and conclude  with the general notion “Oh, this must be a dream!” or thoughts to that effect. Most of us have experienced this also. From my own experiences and speaking with countless friends about it, many people gain this brief insight during uncomfortable dreams and nightmares only to awaken from the dream a moment later. The dream is lost and we are safely back in the reality of being in bed in the dead of night.

There is another way of going about it, the one in which the dreamer gains the self awareness of the situation at large and remains in that awareness as the dream continues.

This is the proper art of lucid dreaming and at best, it can be very tricky to attain this state either regularly or for any significant duration.

The Nineties was an exciting era for technological innovation, particularly for the emergence of gadgets that suitably fell into the niche category of ‘Techno-shamanic devices’. These were things like the early Mind machines and creations like Stephen LaBerge’s ‘Nova Dreamer.‘ I’ll cover Mind machines in other post, for now, I’ll keep on topic with the Nova Dreamer.

The Nova Dreamer was a device designed to be worn during sleep and resembled a slightly over sized eye mask.It contained a small computer situated above the centre of the eyebrows which had infrared sensors in place just above the eyelids. What it it did was very clever, it would detect when the sleeping wearer was going into REM sleep (The mental state where dreams begin to occur, then it would gently flash tiny LED lights just above the eyelids which in turn would appear as a light orientated visual cue within the dream. The cue of the lights would not last long but the theory was, that the will and attention of the wearer, hoping to have a lucid dream, would be sufficiently invoked to a point where the cue was understood and lucidity could begin.

A certain degree of mental preparation was also involved, simple daily practices such as keeping a dream diary, employing critical thinking to discern the multitude of ‘unlikely’ occurrences that might suggest that ordinary linear reality was not being experienced.

There was also the practice of ‘reality checking’ whereby the would-be lucid dreamer should take pause during certain random points during the waking day and perform some brief mental tests to ascertain that a dream was either occurring or not occurring.

I’m pretty certain that nothing much has changed in the routines and practices of the budding lucid dreamer. I was particularly interested in using the mask as it seemed like a good shortcut to lucid dream induction. Although effort was involved, there was also a little bit of electronic help at hand. I briefly had access to a Nova Dreamer which I’d obtained on a trial basis. Unfortunately for me, I found the mask incredibly uncomfortable to go to sleep with, as it was quite rigid and felt like a clunky facial object. I’d wake up every morning with it somewhere next to me in bed and no recollection of having experienced a lucid dream. Even though I’d followed all the instructions that accompanied it, including a rather in depth course in lucid dream induction, I just couldn’t get on with the mask. Within the safe period of my trial, I repacked it and sent it back to the company who’d supplied it.

Irony ultimately ensued, on the day I returned my briefly owned Nova Dreamer, I went to bed and experienced my first ever lucid dream.

The Dream.

It began with a false awakening, I remember sitting up in my sofa bed and feeling a momentary disorientation. I was in the right bed but it had somehow shifted position within the bedsit I was living in. I just couldn’t fathom why this should be and promptly decided to try a reality check, I took a look at my hands. (As suggested in the lengthy procedures outlined in A Course in Lucid Dreaming) I was immediately surprised to see that I held a tube of Colegate Toothpaste between my hands. This immediately began the realisation that I was in fact experiencing a dream.

The sheer thrill and excitement of this awareness began to destabilise the dream, I could feel the room around me beginning to fade and vibrate as if it were a bubble about to pop. Fortunately as I was quick enough to realise this, I returned my gaze to my dream hands and felt a general calming down of my surroundings. A sense  of stability descended and I hoped out of bed.

I was struck initially by the appearance of my bedsit in its dream form. It looked like the place I actually lived in, the layout was almost the same yet all personal objects decorating the abode were other worldly and unfamiliar. I briefly took notice of a black pyramid ornament sitting on top of my TV set. The object resonated faintly glowing red lines that looked like drifting parallel laser beams. I was fascinated yet at the same time hungry for further experience of my environment, I wanted to see what the outside world looked like and promptly left the bedsit via the exterior kitchen door. I was incredibly unprepared for what I would then discover.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=intJbX4OUR4&feature=youtu.be’]

In reality, my back garden was nothing special; some compacted soil and a horrible little Hawthorn tree.

Until that point, I'd never given fairies serious thought.

In my dream reality, the garden was the same scale but had now gained two rows of parallel trees evenly spaced on opposite sides of the garden to each other, i think there were six trees in total and they were swarming with flying life forms that looked like fairies from folklore. The only noticeable difference with these fairies was that they had  flickering lights glowing from their backs, the lights appeared to fan and had a fluttering wing like appearance. The beings took no notice of my presence, my dream jaw was on the dream floor at the sight of them but then I was distracted by yet another surprise; I felt a warm air current breeze over my bare arms. It caused me to look around and notice the radiant sun. It was a beautiful, non blinding giant orange orb hanging in a golden sky. Vivid to behold, probably four times greater in size than the brilliant sun of reality. I was noting as I witnessed this, the vivid hyperreality of the situation, everything before me stood in vibrant, tangible,infinitely detailed form. This observation appeared to occur in my head as a thought processing the perceived world before me.

I looked down to check my body was still there, I felt quite unbothered by the fact that I seemed to be naked. I briefly focussed on my left nipple and I decided as this was all happening in a dream, that perhaps I could shift form. Was there any reason why not?

No. I willed my body to shift gender and it immediately responded. I could hear a noise like air filling a balloon as I watched my chest suddenly inflate into two hairless, perfect female breasts. In retrospect, I regret that I didn’t explore further below but I was reeling in psychological awe at the simple effectiveness at willing the transition. I reflect repeating the phrase over and over to myself “This is a dream, this is a dream…”

I looked up again to see over to the corner of the garden, I noticed that there was an open gate that wasn’t normally there, I took steps towards it and briefly recognised a distinct similarity to the garden gate of my best friend’s old house, even the paving leading into this other garden looked the same… I started to walk through and would have continued my exploration had it not been for the sense of physically acute sensitivity in my left nipple. I looked down and saw that it had become erect, in a perfectly female way so that it was a little fleshy raspberry shape. I couldn’t help but touch it with my fingers, It felt solid, utterly tangible and full of sensation. I started to laugh, a proper belly laugh, at the absurdity of the experience, and that unfortunately, was all it took to wake me up.

Waking up was a strange and heady mix of excitement, the continuity of being conscious from the state of lucid dream to ordinary consensus reality was practically seamless and so on a very rare occasion for me personally, my waking mind was sharp and supercharged. I felt like some kind of time traveller or super human with the ability to jump from one universe to another. The memory of the experience rocked my world for the rest of the day, and in many respects the rest of my life until now. I cannot adequately convey the extraordinary other worldliness of walking through a dream with present awareness perfectly intact.

Since that fateful day in 1996 I have had several other lucid dreams, mostly occurring spontaneously. A few of them were clustered around that original episode. I remember watching Inception the movie when it came out and thinking how accurate the scene was when the streets of Paris reached into the sky then folded over to make a curved reflection of the city.

Around 1996 or 1997 I’d experienced another lucid dream where I looked across the dream city of Bristol, thought of travelling to another part of it and seemed to will a large urban swathe of the cityscape to come rushing towards me as if on rails, my dream feet never walked a step.

Enter the Remee.

A chance conversation with an old friend on Facebook recently reminded me of dream machines, which in turn sparked a reminder of the frustrating Nova Dreamer. I hadn’t forgotten it in spite of its clunky and uncomfortable liaison with my head, I loved what it represented and admired the ingenuity of its design. I never liked the price tag however.

In thinking of it again, I decided to see if time and technology had perhaps refined the design, and I was initially disappointed to discover that it appears to be a discontinued product. I checked the Lucidity Institute’s page on the device and noted that they mentioned that someone else has devised a similar device called ‘The Remee’. Following the link took me to the Remee homepage, and I was thrilled to see that some guys have developed a superb looking sleep mask that operates on the same principles as the Nova Dreamer, even better still, at a very accessible fraction of the cost.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03ouH9Pw_sk’]

I haven’t had a lucid dream for about a year, when I last had one it was frustratingly short, my mind has been generally unprepared for things like reality checks etc so I have found that I tend to reach lucidity briefly before slipping back into a non self conscious state of ordinary dreaming. Needless to say, I’d very much like to acquire a Remee in the near future.

As a dream artist, such a tool will be an invaluable investment, as an adventurer into altered states of consciousness, a chemical free solution into really travelling to the wild side of reality makes this too good an opportunity to ignore. The general demands of day to day living have really tempered my former psychedelic exploration down to a base line of zero activity for at least sixteen years, I’ve had opportunities but generally passed them up in favour of keeping the rest of my life on track and running smoothly as possible. My general muse and drug of choice for creativity has been my fortunate ability to recall most of my nightly excursions in dreams. If Dr Rick Strassman is to be believed, then, these nightly visions I (we all) experience, are largely thanks to naturally occurring DMT released in the Pineal gland. Once again, to use technology to make the most of this wonderfully quirky side of neurochemistry is too good to miss.

When I’ve acquired a Remee, I’ll update these pages and start posting my written and visual results. In the meanwhile, I’ll post some links for you relating to points I’ve mentioned earlier in this post.

Lucidity Institute

The Remee

Dr Rick Strassman

Walking Through The Morse Code Rain

I could tell you that I was trapped on the top deck of an abandoned old double decker bus somewhere on the promenade of Brighton. Yelling through a little sliding window to passers-by below.

“Help! Help! I’m trapped on this bus”

I was alone and a group of Japanese tourists just sauntered by as if my escape pleas were some sort of live entertainment. Everything about this situation was just wrong. Quite a few people passed but nobody looked up to see me in my desperation.

There was a commotion from the lower deck.

People.

I clambered down the stairs to see a group of teenage boys in scruffy school uniform piling on the bus, the doors were now clearly open.

I suppose you could say the boys looked a little like Etonian toffs on a day trip.

“How did you get in?!”

I asked.

“Duh! I pressed the manual door button,stupid.”

Said one of them.

I didn’t get off the bus because one of the boys had started driving it. That is how the brief transition occurred, that I was now in a darkened cinema, watching a film, an abstract animation of an old red double decker bus parked in a vast landscape with a red cloud formation swelling up in the sky to the left field. An audio waveform pulsed away in the top of the screen and began to rain lines of black ink and morse code across the expanse of the rest of the screen. A solitary man walked in the dash-dot droplets, devoid of concern for how linguistically drenched he might become.

Neatly transitioning to the arrival at an peculiar old factory standing like a giant cube of decaying bricks ,steel and concrete within a wasteland of extinct industry.

The boys got off the bus, which they’d parked in a cargo bay within the building’s interior.

I was immediately taken back by the gigantic installation of a suspended cuboid structure bearing down on all of us in a central hall area. It appeared to be made of brushed steel, glass and electric blue neon lights clustered in geometric formations similar to Bismuth crystals. I whipped out my phone and pointed it at the formation.
“Bloody Hell! These pictures will take themselves! However I point the camera, the photos are going to be brilliant”

(Or words to that effect)

Some of the steel cubes appeared to have spherical glass objects attached to them, these too glowed electric blue and reminded me of images I have seen of marine bacteria from electron microscope pictures.

I took a few shots and watched as the boys then left the main hall by ascending an old iron staircase. Curious, I followed and arrived in a darkened room with a glowing blue screen situated on the rear wall. I could see quite a few people at at a long modern rectangular table running along the length of the screen, they were all silhouetted, It looked like some kind of modernist rendition of The Last Supper (and another photo opportunity for my camera) Just as I was about to capture the scene, I crashed unexpectedly into Saturday morning. Concluding my adventure at 7:50 a.m

Broken Hart

It took the wind out of my sails, returning to the House of Bannerdown, seeing the works carried out in my absence.

I noted that the pillared porch had been assembled incorrectly so that they stood several meters away from the house itself, built in a discordant fashion, so that the head of the porch had been positioned half way down the columns making an improbable ‘H’ shape. Clearly this was architectural incompetence.

Rory’s business partner appeared somewhere nearby and struck up polite conversation. I noted with interest that his T-shirt bore the motif of the Cross of Lorraine ; my banker mark and symbol of choice. Curious.

I mentioned that the relinquishing of my services had failed to make any sense in the days that had passed since our parting of ways and I was keen to really know why.

He gestured to a transparent polythene bag filled with old books and said in a flat voice.

“Rory didn’t like the way you had stolen the library books.”

I immediately protested that I’d never seen the bag of books in my life.

 I asked whether that had been the only reason, he then said

“Rory didn’t like the fact that you disagreed with our suggested working methods.”

Feeling more impassioned, I began to blurt about how those methods would have delivered a catastrophic effect on the decaying stonework of the house, that those window mullions would just disintegrate upon the first frost of Winter.

 “The Mullions would disintegrate?”

He said, keeping his impartial,and somewhat doubtful flat tone.

In a melodramatic moment I went on to say how the phone call in the pouring rain, where it was established that we would not be working together any more broke my heart and that I’d really loved working with them.

Neither of which was true. Replace ‘broken heart’ with disappointed and ‘loved’ with enjoyed, it would be a more accurate but this was in the heat of the moment.

The partner just repeated the words “Broken Heart?” like a terminally bored business parrot.

His Cross of Lorraine T-shirt kept drawing attention to itself and I began feeling silly for sounding so melodramatic, something about his angelic appearance was unnerving and I couldn’t shake the feeling that his repetition of certain phrases was some kind of verbal ploy to illustrate the unlikelihood of my own garbled sentiments.

All in all, I felt quietly relieved when I finally opened my eyes.

 

The Book of the Future

Boba Squat got off from work early and came to meet me in a dusk zone. He seemed a little bothered, somewhat grumpy. I asked him what was up but he declined to comment.

“Here…” he said “Take a look at this book.”

He handed me a coffee table style publication, it was one of those DK guidebooks and this one was full of Star Wars and futuristic cities.

Boba said “Look at this; did you know that H.R Giger was a planet designer in Star Wars until Lucasfilm went bust?”

There on the page in question, were fantastical illustrations of alien cities , weird enough to make a jaw drop.

“Lucasfilm went bust…” I muttered, registering the unlikely nature of the statement. Before I could contemplate this point further, I turned another page to see a different kind of city. This was a sprawling campus of technological magnitude that was matched equally by its highly creative denizens, it seemed to go on forever. So much so, the details in the imagery extended beyond the pages in my hands and surrounded me completely until I was immersed in a corridor, standing on a glowing glass floor  and gawping at the fractal etched tubular panelling that extended in front and beyond me.

I’m not sure where my friend was at this point, too many other distractions to contemplate. Narrations drifted past my ears like information in whisper form…

“These objects revolutionised immersive entertainment…”

“The creative team wanted to make a world that felt as real as possible for the players…”

“Once you were in, for the duration, it was impossible to tell that you were actually playing…”

A portal door in the tube wall beside me slid open, I stepped through into a cavernous room and recognised the hostess who had come to greet me.

“Blimey, you’re that actress who played Henry the Eighth’s wife!” (Tamzin Merchant) I proclaimed. She was quite beautiful.

It turned out that she actually  hadn’t played anyone. She was the hostess, it was just a quirky detail that I’d projected her face into the experience of remembering in the first place. This was getting confusing. Mandelbulb objects drifted around the hostess’s head like alien satellites, while she waited patiently for me to ‘get it.’ She sighed and said

“What you are experiencing is technology, the most advanced technology there is, just relax there’s no need to understand it yet…” There was a geometric, glowing glass shape in her hands, It was really starting to catch my attention…

Then suddenly I became aware that It was that thing I keep calling ‘morning‘ again.

Fragment #2

In the hinterland I begin to realise that my feet are equally at home in this world and another.

Fragment #1

“After I’d entered the art gallery – come cafe, my attention was quickly drawn to the flowery woman sucking my big toe. For fucks sake! Why was she sucking my bloody toe ?! How inappropriate.”

Johnny Juice.

*Judith Kirkland’s Little Emporium of Surreal Ephemera seemed to be doing well, located in the shade of St.Andrew’s  in that fine city of Norwichsmouth. A small brass bell tinkled as I strolled through the front door and saw her beaming skeletal smile as a first point of greeting. The shop’s interior was a dark affair in spite of it’s mainly glass door and display window. The contents were a combination of things that you would love to own but would never buy for the generally unlikelihood of their existence. My attention then turned to Judith. Five ft tall, quite scrawny, hair in a Cleopatra bob, slightly native American features with large neat white teeth that somehow  reminded one of the skull that was home to  them.

It had to be said that Judith was looking at least twenty years younger than when I’d last seen her in the common world. With  a loud Yankee voice that could launch a thousand migraines , she shrilled

“OH-MY-GAWD-MAAAAATT!!!!”

before flinging her overly enthusiastic spindly arms around my shoulders and planting a smacker on my lips. I chose to ignore the fleeting brush of her probing tongue as it lasted a split second, although the incident was mentally noted with a concealed  mild disgust.

“Judith, you’re looking really well….no, you’re looking great!”

I said whilst focussing on the positive. She drawled

“Thank you honey, my secret is in this jarrrrrrr”

(Deep breath)

Judith whipped up a small , slightly ornate glass pot containing a watery substance with a pinkish tinge and a pearly glob of something floating in it.

“Go awwwwn. try some” she said as she thrust the container  towards me.

“Um, what’s In it Judith?”  I asked cautiously.

“Welll honey, it’s got some Rose water…”

“Uh-huh, what else?”

“and It’s got some soda water…”

“Yes, Judith but what else does it have?”

“It’s got some… Johnny Depp’s spunk.”

The End of the Line.

I found myself lying in an surgical operating theatre. Looking down the length of my body I could see that I had become bones, like some excavated remains from an archeological dig spread out in order on a metallic table. How could I have reached this point? To my left the theatre double doors swung open and my surgeon Dr Sharp strolled in nonchalantly.

“I’m afraid there’s no alternative…” he said. “I’m going to have to saw away your Femur just above the right knee. This will cause you to go into cardiac arrest and then you’ll die. Don’t worry, you’ll be breathing in plenty of gas while it happens and you won’t feel a thing.”

His surgical ‘matter of fact’ tone did nothing to comfort me as my poor heart reached a terrifying rhythm of utter despair.  His words became pictures, my skeleton lay there helpless, the beeping  sound of the  heart monitor accelerated as I watched the bone being cut…I could hear the flatline noise as everything faded to black.

(Fade to black)

A little while later, still lying on the operating table, I regained consciousness. Everything seemed cold, sterile and grey in there. I looked down my skeleton body again and it seemed that  my Femur had somehow re-joined itself. For all the good that would do me! I called out for someone, anyone to come and help me. I was so alone and afraid. The silence of the theatre was almost tangible.

Nobody came.

Eventually someone did come along, I thought it was another doctor, he looked like he should be, he wore  the standard white hospital doctors coat, he had that whole air of ‘consultant’ about him.

I told him I was glad he was there and asked if anyone was coming to fetch me out of here. His response was smirkingly arrogant and cold.

“Of course nobody’s coming to fetch you, you died, you’re DEAD. Dead people don’t get fetched.”

He took his arrogant little face out of the operating theatre while my corpse lay stunned and motionless on the cold metal table it had just died upon. I don’t think I’d ever felt so alone.

I think it was around then that I began to sob uncontrollably. Somehow through the blur of my dead tears I transitioned from the hospital to the edge of a rail network. I knew this place, I’ve been here several times throughout nocturnal life. It’s the  rail station for all souls. All lines begin and terminate here and the tracks you can see radiating out from this place stretch so far and wide that one begins to see infinity at the sight of it all.

I didn’t want to go there. NOT NOW! In desperation, between racking sobs, I blundered around at the edge of the tracks before spotting a solitary train line disappearing into a small arched tunnel.

Without thinking too greatly about what this meant, I staggered inside and began my journey away from the station. The solitary track by my feet started to look decayed after wandering down for a few meters, then I noticed that the lights above my head were dimming…taking a few steps further, I became aware that the tunnel before me was becoming black and lightless. I could hear rats scurrying around in the dark. I muttered to myself

“This way madness lies.”

My dead heart sunk further, for I knew I must turn back, I knew that my options now had narrowed down to one. I had to go to the station.I have no recollection of the steps I must have taken when turning back, nor do I recall any of the landscape, literal or emotional that led back to the central station, yet I found myself somehow at the heart of it all… White tiled tubes like the London Underground, hundreds of souls passing me from every direction, moving with purpose and intent, each on its own journey.

I noticed the glass window of a ticket booth in the wall adjacent to me. I approached it to see a slightly rotund middle aged looking woman with thick black rimmed spectacles and her hair in a bob gazing at me dispassionately.

“I think I need to take a journey.” I said.

“You’ll need to give me your identity and all your experiences.” she replied in a terse manner.

I felt tears welling up in my vision again and the sense that my dead heart was being ripped from my chest via my lungs.

“If you take my name  and all my experiences and from me, then I will lose everything I’ve ever known and loved!” I cried.

The ticket lady gave a disgruntled sigh then responded.

“Oh come on, don’t make such a fuss, you’ve done this how many times before?”

(Fade to white)

Blue Fluffy Mouse, Towering Victorian House.

My wife in the throes of passion didn’t see the view beyond her shoulder of the field mouse scurrying across the bedroom floor.

Nor did she notice when later,when I cornered the rodent using a transparent tube. She probably would have screamed when the mouse shot up the tube and started spinning like a little Tasmanian devil. My fist shuddered with the gyroscopic forces of the Mus musculus doing its turns. If it then escaped, well, then I’d have some explaining to do!

There was only one thing for it, I walloped the rodent on the skull with a wooden back-scratcher to slow it down. The mouse turned bright blue and fluffy, dazed and visibly concussed. I suddenly felt shame. What had I done? Would the little fella survive such an unkind thwack?

I carried him in the tube out to my garden and watched as he groggily wobbled out of the tube and sluggishly crawled away into the undergrowth. Oh dear.

As I lifted my head to observe the rest of the garden, I became fully aware of how it stretched out so much further than I’d previously noticed. I then noticed a Victorian house of magnificent proportions, it must have been at least fifteen storeys high. Punctuated with  black cast iron  drain pipes, and balconies, it’s splendour was in its sheer scale.

“Oh Tanya would love to live in this.” I thought, but then I quickly reminded myself that the bills in such places can be horrendous. I then started to walk out of the garden and around the towering house into a busy street in the city of Bristath. Day had turned to night and I became aware that while I’d badly dealt with a small blue fluffy creature, and contemplated for a moment living in a building beyond my means, I’d also neglected to tell my wife where I’d gone.

She wouldn’t be happy.

The Spider Under The Bed.

“Look at that spider!”

“Christ it’s big.”

“I’ve never seen one that size in this country before.”

“Quick! Get it before it goes under the bed!”

“Shit, too late.”

“Oh my God, that was only the male, you should see the size of the female….”

“She’s under the bed too.”

The female emerges looking strangely like an angry shopping trolley…with big sharp fangs. Luckily I have steel tongs that are bigger than her mandibles, they lock around her, keeping her hissing venomous form safely away from mine.

I cut her a deal, If she and her mate go away, to the single bed in the middle of the nearby woods, no one will ever bother them again. The bargain is struck.

Later, a teenage boy and his girlfriend are seen sneaking into the woods to make-out and smoke crafty cigarettes. There is a sense of dread, my sight flashes and panics its way to a gruesome scene; the girlfriend has been eaten and her boyfriend has fused with the female spider now slowly disappearing under the mattress of a dirty, damp, decaying bed.