No, the title of this post is not meant to imply that the strange things witnessed around the world are purely artifacts of our inner consciousness, nor is such a statement intended to disturb the faithful.
However, we must from time to time consider what kinds of things--often strange in their own right--can "trigger" paranormal experiences that do stem from within the mind.
What got me thinking along these lines was the fact that, while scanning my usual news sites this morning (always keeping a watchful eye cast toward the potential for anomalous occurrences), this particular Monday morning scan was turning up few "hits," at least with regard to the really weird stuff I tend to gravitate toward. And yet, although lacking somewhat the entertainment value, maybe I should have kept my dismay at bay, since the world, it seems, is trending more and more towards ideas that involve inner consciousness and the way our mind and bodies work in tandem to produce spiritual effects within... and as some would argue, even outside the body.
My book Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule focuses a good bit on this very sort of thing, from the perspective that things like mirrors, meditation, and entheogenic plants used by native tribes in various locales can cause abnormalities (which, historically speaking, appear to be quite normal, to the contrary) that transpire within ourselves. However, sometimes these things also occur in our daily lives, though we would seldom recognize them as being such.
Take for instance the unusual account of a bout with delirium described recently in the New York Times, which dealt with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Justin Kaplan, 84. Kaplan described seeing “Thousands of tiny little creatures... some on horseback, waving arms, carrying weapons like some grand Renaissance battle,” that fought to turn people into zombies, led by a woman with a hole in her throat, rather than a mouth. The distinction could easily be made, some would argue, that a sudden hallucination in a hospital along these lines is hardly anything anomalous... but the curious fact worthy of closer study here is that this phenomenon is beginning to happen with greater frequency. Why?
A variety of reasons are cited, among them procedures and tests which may elicit anxiety. Some medications may also do the trick. The greatest incidence is, somewhat predictably, among elderly patients... but not always. Considering that anxiety, medications, and related factors can cause these sorts of things within the walls of a hospital, is it too much of a stretch to consider whether they could happen elsewhere?
Trying to learn from such episodes, I've brandished some odd theories over the years, ranging from the notion that close proximity to a high output source of electricity--whether that be an array of electric pylons, or a large electrically-powered UFO craft--might cause hallucinations (which may explain some of the dream-like experiences described by abductees), to the chemical similarities between mood altering enzymes like tryptophan and serotonin, when compared alongside their close chemical cousin, the highly psychoactive dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Furthermore, often disregarded (and perhaps even more often misdiagnosed) conditions such as Hashimoto's encephelopathy could lie at the heart of conditions like schizophrenia, which in the opinion of a few in the academic community, is a condition itself caused by DMT... a hallucinogen produced within the human body, and yet, ironically, illegal to buy and sell due to its intense characteristics.
What other factors in our environment could be capable of triggering occurrences within our psyches that elicit spiritual experiences? Do they truly elicit anything worthy of the definition "other worldly," or is there much more to the greater pie than even that? How far-thinking will we have to be as a species before we can reach that coveted position we refer to as "outside the box?"