(Jason Louv) These four gadgets are some of the most potent occult technology for
altering consciousness ever created. Check out what we’ve got for you…
Since the dawn of history, human beings have been trying to alter their consciousness, with every conceivable means, from fasting to sleeplessness to psychedelic drugs and many, many more ways. It’s like sex: If there’s any conceivable way to do it, somebody’s tried it. In the 20th and 21st centuries, however, we’ve gotten some incredible new occult technology for pushing our minds out of their usual ruts and into unexplored territories:
1. The Dream Machine
The Dream Machine, created by Brion Gysin, Ian Sommerville and William S. Burroughs, is an occult technology that creates flicker patterns behind the closed eyelids of a person staring at it. These flicker patterns subtly alter the viewer’s brainwaves, creating waking hallucinations that can be incredibly, shockingly vivid. It’s made from three things: a cardboard cylinder with slats in it to generate the right flicker pattern, a 78 rpm turntable upon which the cardboard tube sits, and a single lightbulb dangling from a cord into the turntable. The turntable spins the tube, creating the hallucinatory flicker pattern.
Gysin, the device’s primary inventor, was a gay surrealist painter and author who fled the bitchy, backbiting Paris surrealism scene to seek the frontiers of Extreme Experience in Morocco, delving headlong into the occult and the libertine atmosphere of Tangiers; Burroughs would later join him, and the two would embark on a legendary magical partnership, exploring the outer ranges of operative sorcery and sanity itself.
Burroughs wrote about Dream Machines extensively in his novels, where he depicted them as a weapon for the freedom of consciousness in the eternal war against Control. The author spoke highly of his friend’s invention, saying: “Subjects report dazzling lights of unearthly brilliance and color… Elaborate geometric constructions of incredible intricacy build up from multidimensional mosaic into living fireballs like the mandalas of Eastern mysticism or resolve momentarily into apparently individual images and powerfully dramatic scenes like brightly colored dreams.”
The machine was officially unveiled in 1962, at the Louvre’s Museé des Arts Decoratifs, to a fascinated public and press—but Gysin, unsatisfied with a small art audience, dreamed of mass production. He turned first to business magnate Helena Rubinstein, who was taken with the device and exhibited it in her shop windows, but then refused to pay for it. Next Gysin tried the Philips Corporation—a representative of the company, while visiting Gysin at the Beat Hotel, slipped on dogshit in the hall; the deal was cancelled. Later, Colombia Records wanted to market the Dream Machine as a lamp. Meeting with Colombia executives in 1965, Gysin (ever the magician) told them that vinyl records would soon be obsolete, replaced with optical discs that were read with a ray of light. He was not well received.
Gysin died in 1986, the cause of the Dream Machine having been taken up by his protégé Genesis P-Orridge and the loose occult and media subversion network the Temple ov Psychick Youth. TOPY both propagandized the Dream Machine and distributed information on how to make your own, using Gysin’s original plans.
Commercial Dream Machines are expensive—but luckily, you can build your own.
Below, check out an incredible, mind-blowing documentary on Gysin and the Dream Machine, “Flicker,” which you can buy here.
2. The Sensory Deprivation Tank
Invented by the psychonaut John C. Lilly, the sensory deprivation tank is designed to do one thing: Completely shut off your senses, so that your mind can be totally free to roam or astrally project. The tank is full of epsom salt-saturated water which is heated to exactly 93º F, with exactly the right salt condensation to keep you floating weightlessly without your eyes and mouth submerging. It’s also sound proof and totally dark. That means that, after getting situated and comfortable, you now get to experience what it’s like to be weightless, with no sensory input.
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