A Strange Psychochemical Experience

    In the autumn of 1999, I took a medication called Remeron for approximately six weeks. Hypnogogic visions (dreamlike experiences that occur on the boundary between wakefulness and sleep) are an occasional side effect of this medication, and they became disturbingly frequent and vivid for me. While half-awake in bed, drifting softly toward sleep, startling images of grotesque, distorted human faces would suddenly flash through my imagination like an endless nocturnal procession of lost souls. They formed, floated evilly, and melted away before my eyes, only to recombine in different and infinitely more horrifying shapes. This lugubrious spectacle played out against a dark, inner Lovecraftian panorama dominated by vast, labyrinthine cities of towering immensity, apparently cast up from the depths by some cataclysmic seismic upheaval; all sinister, brooding, and bewildering in their intricate, asymmetrical geometry, as if conceived and fashioned by demented giants in the throes of some convulsive fever delirium.
    This nightly hypnogogic horror film, flickering like an infernal bale-fire behind my closed eye-lids, provided a source of great wonder for me, but finally became alarming. I  discontinued the medication and the hypnogogic visions faded and finally stopped after several days. But the faces and scenes I saw remain engraved upon my memory forever, like acid scars etched by a demonic lithographer upon neuronal copper plates and synaptic printer's stones. They sometimes rise up again to stalk me through the anxious corridors of nightmare. The following portraits and landscapes are offered here as a kind of exorcism of these disturbing  visions, which were actually the dark heralds of a major depressive episode that overwhelmed me from January until June of the year 2000.
    This isn't a very good endorsement for Remeron, is it? !!!

A Deeper Truth....

    What were these disturbing visions that rose like mephitic fumes from the Oracle's cave to trouble my rest? Who were the frightening beings and where are the terrible cities in which they dwelt?  Obviously, the Remeron (mirtazapine) had produced subtle alterations in the levels of various neurochemicals in my brain, thereby changing my perceptions. But this in no way negates or diminishes the significance of the experiences which I had. The brain is an organ designed to receive signals from external realities, and its range of reception is normally restricted to a very narrow frequency. But different wavelengths may be intercepted by a consciousness that has had its "tuning" readjusted by certain factors, such as stress, illness, and trauma on the one hand, and by meditation, ritual, and special chemical substances on the other. What consciousness perceives during such moments of altered reception/perception are other realities seeking admission into the daylight world of so-called normal awareness. In his Septum Sermones ad Mortuos, Carl Jung relates how he was visited by the spirits of the Dead who sought to express themselves through him. I also believe that spiritual beings (the Dead, elementals, Angels and Demons, call them what you like) visited me in the darkness of my Remeron-induced hypnogogic visions, for dimly understood purposes of their own. Many of the following works are intended to invoke those Beings for others, so that the invisible forces which they embody may be integrated into our world and come to fulfillment.  The working-out of their energies seems crucial in these post-9/11 times, when hidden Dark Forces battle with the Light for the final domination of our Reality, and perhaps a confrontation with these disturbing visions will help establish the Balance of Maat once again.

W. M. M.

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