Psychic Darts: Mystics and Scientists Really aren’t that Different

We recently attended a panel on Psychedelic medicine, we attend many of these panels to help us expand and learn. This panel was particularly interesting as it included traditional ayahuasca practitioners as well as clinical therapists. It was a panel of both Mystics and Scientists. This gave the audience a chance to hear the same ideas expressed by the more spiritually inclined practitioners and the scientifically inclined therapists and doctors.

Psychic Darts: All the artwork on our site is courtesy of stable-diffusion
The trouble with language

On this panel terms kept coming up from the spiritual side that had to be explained to the scientific side. Terms like “Psychic Darts”, “Sorcery” and “Imprinting”. These seem like kooky mystical terms at first, their use however common in South American shamanistic traditions, feels anachronistic to our modern ears. Why is that?

Our modern society is very much built on science. Through the atomic age, and into modern times the pace of scientific advancement is always increasing. This exponential growth is too fast for most of us to keep up with. Instead we start think of it almost like magic, that’s not an entirely wrong approach either; getting grains of silica dust to create paintings would seem like magic to pretty much anybody from 100 years ago or more.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (revised edition, 1973)

To explain the magic of our current technology, that we have computers capable of painting any image a human can conceive of and more, would require some creative language use wouldn’t it? We might have to describe it as having “learned to paint”, but that isn’t really true is it. What really happened is we refined a huge set of parameters using regression on a sufficiently large set of data for a sufficiently long period of time. Nobody will understand that, so “It learned how to paint” is the shorthand we use instead.

This is the trouble with language. We can use a simple term that anyone can understand to describe a complex topic. Once we know enough about that topic to really understand it, the simple terms start to feel wrong. They don’t really explain what is going on, and at some point using the simple term becomes a problem as the technology progresses and no longer fits that simple definition.

Peruvian Plant Persuasion
The peruvian plant Persuasion

Now take yourself back 1000 years, or 2000 years to ancient Peru. Your tribe is having their monthly ceremony and the shaman has drank the mystical brew. The shaman starts purging and writhing on the ground, they scream about being attacked by evil spirits. How else would you explain a situation like that in this era? Nobody there knows about neurons, serotonin — they won’t even grasp the intellectual concept of emotion yet.

If you are the shaman you need to explain what is going on somehow, you need words to convey these things. The idea that a person who goes into a psychedelic journey with one goal and comes out with a completely different goal is well explained by having a sorcerer cast a spell on them, or tag them with a psychic dart.

Lets focus on that one, the Psychic Dart, called a Tsentsak in the shamanistic tradition. If you read the wiki you can see that there is a whole mystical tradition set up, spanning 1000s of years of evolution, to explain this idea. Energy stored in particular places, released in certain ways, this is an example of black magic, voodoo, sorcery — right?

The psychopath with his psychic dart
The psychopath and the psychic dart

Sometimes we see people coming into the psychedelic community get turned off by this type of language. “It’s just mystical crystal healing with extra steps”, and they walk away from what could be life changing medicine for them. We’re hoping to show that attitude is misplaced. These “mystical” terms are describing very real things that happen to real people, they are just doing that using shorthand. The same type of shorthand we used above to explain computers making paintings.

As we’ve written about before, we identify as a functional psychopath. This identity helps us to manage whatever our real condition is, so it is useful to us even if not 100% clinically accurate. When we hear the term “Psychic Dart”, we understand exactly what this means. But it is a complicated concept so we also understand why this shorthand is used, in fact we started using the terminology ourselves! We never had shorthand to really explain this process before.

To us the psychic dart is the final step in a long process of emotional manipulation, sometimes self inflicted. Just like a child knows to wait for their parents to be in a good mood before asking for a favor, the psychopath is acutely tuned into the subtle emotional responses of the other person. We use those responses to develop a pattern of desired behavior over a period of time, sometimes weeks. At the right moment we can then “strike” as it were with whatever manipulative thing we’re trying to achieve.

That strike is hopefully the only thing the other person notices, if they noticed any of the earlier manipulation then we’ve already failed. To us it is not surprising that a person would make a sudden shift in life goals while in a psychedelic state. The person really didn’t, they made this decision days, weeks or months before the experience. It’s just at the experience is when it finally strikes, the psychic dart hits home and they change their mind.

Mystic and Scientist working together

Hopefully we’ve convinced you that the mystical language sometimes used in psychedelic communities does not have to be a dividing factor. We don’t have to fall into tribes, the scientists on one side and the mystics on the other. We’re all saying the same things if we take the time to understand each other. Further, we can learn from each other. The mystics have 1000s of years of experience with these medicines that science is only just coming around to in recent centuries.

Keeping an open mind should be the bare minimum price of entry to a psychedelic community. If you find yourself rejecting certain people, or certain speakers, because of the language they are using — maybe do some meditating on that feeling. Why are you so opposed to the use of mystical language? It’s just shorthand for deeper scientific concepts, we don’t always have to spell everything out the long way.

Psychedelic Money?
Calls For Support

While we’ve got you here we’d like to remind you that there are many great organizations fighting this fight that need your help:

MAPS: These are the frontline operators. When legalization happens it will be because of their great work.

EROWID: Throughout this dark period of prohibition Erowid has been a shining light of knowledge.






2 responses to “Psychic Darts: Mystics and Scientists Really aren’t that Different”

  1. […] Practitioners of buddhism learn about this idea, it is central to most eastern religions. But it is mystical, it relies on believing in things like magic and gods, these ideas are difficult for the western […]

  2. […] Everybody, and Tell the Truth”. This one comes directly from Maharajji themselves. Mysticism will be […]

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