New book uses AI to picture entities encountered during DMT experiences

Researchers mapped recurring entities being shown to users of DMT. With new techniques that extend the experience under the psychedelic drug, it might be possible to understand more about them

Lidia Zuin
6 min readMay 10, 2023


Planned for publication in 2024, The Illustrated Guide to the DMT Entities is a book written by the researcher David Jay Brown and the artist Sarah Phinn. Their objective is to map the entities with which DMT users have encountered with the help of illustrations created with the generative artificial intelligence application Midjourney.

The project adds up to an increasing number of researchers that have been mapping these psychedelic experiences. Last year, for instance, the study Phenomenology and content of the inhaled N, N-dimethyltryptamine (N, N-DMT) experience analyzed 3778 reports shared on Reddit, finding that 45,5% of them included encounters with entities. These are mostly seen as female (24,2%), divine (17%), alien (16,3%), reptilian or insect-like creatures (9,2%), as well as mythological beings such as mechanical elves (8,4) and jesters (6,5%).

It is no wonder why DMT has been called the “spiritual molecule” and that it is also found in religions such as Santo Daime — after all, ayahuasca (the root used to brew the tea drank during their rituals) has DMT and harmine in its composition. The curious part is that almost half of the users have experienced encounters with entities and that they repeat over the reports, to the point that it’s possible to create a “bestiary” of them and find intersections with existing cosmologies.

Since the foundation of Santo Daime in the 1930s, the religion was already sincretic enough to include references from Catholicism and Spiritism, as well as other esoteric manifestations, shamanism and enchantment, and African-Brazilian religions. This becomes more evident in the hymns sung during the rituals, especially the hymn “The Cruise” written by Master Irineu, the founder of the religion.

As described by Gusman Neto in “A inserção da Umbanda no Santo Daime” (The insertion of Umbanda in Santo Daime), the hymns show the presence of “elements originated from symbolic universes that supports the analogies with Umbanda”, such as it is the mention to entities such as the “Old Father and Old Mother”, “caboclos” and the Water Mother which are compatible to the Umbanda’s cosmology. On another hand, Catholic saints such as Saint Mary are also found in the narrative of Daime.

In the case of the DMT users, these encounters happen after they are for at least 5 to 10 minutes under the effect of the drug, a feat hard to be achieved only through inhalation. For this reason, researchers have been trying to extend that effect by injecting the substance and thus allowing that these encounters become more frequent and longer, so there is more opportunity for interaction.

For now, most of the reports account for positive experiences in which the users are well received by the entities. However, since these encounters are quick, it is hard to establish a deeper conversation, which leads to the findings of this research that most of the time communication is unilateral (that is, only from the entity’s end). For the researcher David Jay Brown, extending these encounters can be especially important in case these entities decide to share information with us, such as blueprints on how to create advanced technologies.

Even if you don’t believe that it is really possible to contact entities through the use of DMT or if it’s just the chemical stimulating the brain to generate insights that would not pop up as easily when one is sober, this is a very interesting proposition that has been visited for decades. Maybe the best person to summarize that idea was the psychoanalysis Carl Jung with his concept of the collective unconscious and in the formulation of the archetypes.

Jung proposed in his work that all humans share the same imaginary (or unconscious) in which certain images repeat no matter where someone comes from or when they were born in time. And this goes way beyond the correlations with religion, such as it is in the case of Christianity and the inclusion of pagan entities and celebrations in its cosmology. Jung also proposed the concept of synchronicity — that is, the proposition that a same idea or concept can be prompted by different people, in different locations, even in different times, though they never had exchanged information among them.

From then on, one could take the path towards theories such as the Ancient Aliens (yes, that one spread by the ufologist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos) and other sects such as the Ashtar Command, previously mentioned here. But I want to take another path here, the one that takes us to the 8-circuit model of consciousness proposed by the scientists Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson.

The model suggests that certain substances or practices (such as meditation) could help us achieve new levels of consciousness and, this way, we could, for instance, be able to contact entities. Coincidently or not, the most advanced level of consciousness can be achieved with the use of DMT, high doses of LSD, near-death experiences or through the use of any dose of ketamine.

After achieving this level of consciousness, the authors argue that one could communicate with those entities which they describe as angels or extraterrestrial beings. Curiously, the same research Phenomenology and content of the inhaled features 281 testimonials (16,3%) which mention encounters with aliens, celestial and extraterrestrial beings.

While some people use psychedelics for religious purposes, others may find them to be a catalyst to new beliefs. In this research, for example, participants that previously identified as atheists changed their opinion after using DMT to become agnostic.

In other contexts, the same substances can also be used simply for entertainment or even for corporate ends. Besides the popular acknowledgement that Steve Jobs microdosed to get more creative insights, more recently the same practice became widespread in Silicon Valley.

An article published on Wired showed how, in 2016, tech workers of the Bay Area were using psychedelics to ignite their creativity and productivity, thus generating more pitches of products, services and technologies that wouldn’t come up as ideas only with the help of caffeine. In the Netflix documentary Take Your Pills, we can see how common that can be in these corporate and academic contexts, as much as the use of drugs such as Adderall.

The fact that Brown and Phinn are using a product of these universes (Midjourney) to create illustrations that map these entities encountered in DMT trips is, at least, uroboric. For future reference, we should see how the publication will be received by readers, if the curation done by Phinn in partnership with Midjouney was able to portray these collective experiences.

For now, both authors believe that these entities have much to do with the Jungian archetypes which, by their turn, are a combination of different cultural references. In Atlas Mnemosyne, for example, Aby Warburg tried to create an imagetic encyclopedia for these archetypes that are seen throughout human culture. By taking that in consideration, The Illustrated Guide to the DMT Entities could thus become a new iteration of this effort to map the images of the collective unconscious, as well as an attempt to rebrand the use of psychedelics as a magic experience.

If we consider the work of historians such as Carlo Ginzburg, for example, we see that magic and sorcery in the Middle Age weren’t literal practices, but knowledge about plants and substances that could induce people to altered states of consciousness which, by their part, would generate shared images, such as the sabbath.

In Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath Book, Ginzburg argues that there weren’t really groups of witches (covens) that reunited in the forest to dance around a bonfire, but that people were using psychedelics to experience such altered states of consciousness.

Similarly, it could be the case that we are entering a potentially magic and technologically enhanced future when the use of chemical substances can open the doors to an imagery curated by artificial intelligence or even showcased in virtual reality, in case we want to believe that this technology could one day be rather mental than cybernetic.



Lidia Zuin

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD in Visual Arts. Researcher and essayist. Technical and science fiction writer.