What Are "Machine Elves," the Hallucinations People See on DMT?

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, AKA DMT, is one of the most powerful hallucinogenics known to man.

A typical dose of DMT will cause people to see fractal patterns and shapes for about 15 minutes. But depending on how it is ingested, some people experience wildly different things on DMT — including mind-bending visions that appear to transcend time and space.

DMT is the main ingredient in ayahuasca, the shamanistic medicine that has been used for thousands of years in sacred rituals and that has more recently become a hot attraction for Western tourists. Ayahuasca can last for twelve hours or more, and it can catalyze mind-blowing visuals and experiences.

One of the most common things that people see on DMT is what Terrence McKenna described as "machine elves." In the 1970s, McKenna and his brother traveled to the Amazon to try ayahuasca, and experimented with the drugs for a series of 11 days. They came away having seen " a universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyperdimensional, and extremely alien," according to McKenna, who described these alien intelligences as "self-transforming machine elves."

According to McKenna, the elves are capable of "singing structures into existence. "What they're doing is making objects with their voices, singing structures into existence," he wrote. "They offer things to you, saying 'Look at this! Look at this!' and as your attention goes towards these objects you realize that what you're being shown is impossible. It's not simply intricate, beautiful and hard to manufacture, it's impossible to make these things. The nearest analogy would be the Fabergé eggs, but these things are like the toys that are scattered around the nursery inside a U.F.O., celestial toys, and the toys themselves appear to be somehow alive and can sing other objects into existence, so what's happening is this proliferation of elf gifts, which are moving around singing, and they are saying 'Do what we are doing' and they are very insistent, and they say 'Do it! Do it! Do it!' and you feel like a bubble inside your body beginning to move up toward your mouth, and when it comes out it isn't sound, it's vision. You discover that you can pump 'stuff' out of your mouth by singing, and they're urging you to do this."

Many other people who have experimented with DMT have also encountered similar "machine elves." Redditor u/duder9000 wrote, "I met them when I smoked — I was lying down and all of a sudden they were there, surrounding a different bed I was lying on. They were super excited and were expecting me. Then before they could tell me anything I shot up into some further dimension (?) and experienced an ego death, which was the most frightening thing I've ever. Let me tell you, there is a very specific 'feeling' associated with dying, and your body KNOWS IT. Anyway, when I saw the 'elves,' I had never seen artistic depictions of them before. But when I did later see machine elf art, it was exactly what I had seen."

Check out some machine elf art:

Machine elvesMachine elvesBoing Boing


Machine ElvesMachine ElvesSoundCloud

In typical encounters with machine elves, the creatures are seen as impish, rakish creatures. They are often portrayed as lovable, though sometimes they appear to be hostile. Psychologist Jennifer A Lyke of Stockton University categorized 149 machine elf interactions and found that they consisted of:

  • Showing/teaching guiding (25%)
  • No interaction (10%)
  • Hostile (10%)
  • Warmth (9%)
  • Welcoming (9%)
  • Reassuring or encouraging (8%)
  • Neutrality or observation (7%)
  • Playful (4%)
  • Power or control (3%)
  • Sexual (3%)
  • Questioning (3%)
  • Unclear interactions (3%)
  • Reminding (2%)
  • Miscellaneous (2%)
Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that the elves often left people with positive feelings and a sense of connection to something greater than themselves. 58% of the participants in that study reported a newfound belief in a god or higher power after their DMT encounters. In addition, "89 percent of respondents said the encounter led to lasting improvements in well-being or life-satisfaction."

What are machine elves?

There are many different theories as to what these "machine elves" might actually be. McKenna theorized that the elves were humans from the future, returning to give us some kind of wisdom or insight.

Other conspiracy theorists have gone down darker paths, with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones theorizing that the elves are aliens who have taken control of world leaders to do their malicious biddings. Jones believes the elves are the true source of the Illuminati, whispering their dark messages into the ears of world leaders.

Another theory says that machine elves are the same creatures that appear in folklore across the ages — elves, fairies, imps, and other magical creatures. Some Celtic people believed that these creatures were spirits of the dead, returned to communicate with the living. Anthropologist Walter Evans-Wentz chronicled this folklore extensively, and in his 1911 book The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, he proposed that these creatures exist "as a supernormal state of consciousness into which men and women may enter temporarily in dreams, trances, or in various ecstatic conditions."

The "machine elves" also bear similarities to other supernatural creatures. The aforementioned Journal of Psychopharmacology study found that ""[DMT]-occasioned entity encounter experiences have many similarities to non-drug entity encounter experiences such as those described in religious, alien abduction, and near-death contexts."

Some people are far more skeptical, such as James Kent, who proposes that we see humanoid creatures in DMT visions because "we humans must have innate evolutionary wetware that forces our senses to latch onto any piece of anthropomorphic data that pops into otherwise randomly uniform data."

So what are the machine elves? Are they random hallucinations, malicious Illuminati members, or visitors from the past or future here to give us the solutions to all of our problems? It's up to you to decide.

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