Non-lucid, semi-lucid and lucid dreams are all facets of the same experience. A lucid dream is one in which you realize you are dreaming, and are fully conscious of the experience even though your body is asleep. In what I call semi-lucid dreams, I am in full possession of my faculties (as much as I ever truly am, whether awake or asleep) I just don’t have that “aha, I’m dreaming” moment. Some of the most powerful and transformative dreams of my life have been semi-lucid dreams, in which I am compelled to live the dream as I would a waking reality experience.
I do not take any lucid dreaming supplements, such as Galantamine. I had never even heard of them when I began lucid dreaming. After two years of lucid dreaming naturally, I experimented with a little Galantamine a handful of times, but did not like how drained I felt the next day. There was also a different quality to my lucid dreams; they were not quite as richly rewarding, and the stimulating nature of the drug often translated into strong sexual desire in the dream state, distracting me from other intents. Yet it was tempting to think I could become lucid more often, so one night in a lucid dream, I asked a man I encountered on the moonlit grounds of an old university, and who I felt was a professor there, if it was okay for me to do Galantamine now and then in order to induce a lucid dream. He replied firmly, “No, no. We are all hard workers here.” I asked a second time, and received the same emphatic response. I got the message, and gladly went back to lucid dreaming naturally.
Lucidity vs. Hallucinogens
I knew from my experience experimenting with LSD as a teenager that at first it appears to be a short cut into other dimensions, but that, in truth, it offers only superficial and physically draining glimpses into our spiritual nature.
Anais Nïn, who participated in a controlled experiment in which LSD was given to creative writers and artists like herself, wrote after her experience with the drug: “LSD’s value is in being a shortcut to the unconscious, so that one enters the realm of intuition unhampered… The chemical did not reveal an unknown world. What it did was to shut out the quotidian world as an interference and leave you alone with your dreams and fantasies… But the drug effect does not strengthen the desire to turn the dream, the vision, into reality. It is passive. I have to go on in my own ways… seeking wholeness not by a passive dreaming that drugs give, but by an active, dynamic dreaming that is connected with life, interrelated… which we can enjoy with the awakened senses.”
Anais Nïn was speaking of the creative process, but her words can be applied to lucid dreaming, which is indeed “active and dynamic”, offering us not merely a shortcut but direct access to the unconscious. And just as with LSD, what each person experiences in a lucid dream is mysteriously related to their waking reality thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Yet unlike an acid trip, which only seems to transform the world, a lucid dream infuses us with energy by fully immersing us in our innate creativity, where we also consciously encounter more than our self.
I had always believed in the Divine unity of everything, but one night tripping on acid in Tropical Park, Florida when I was nineteen years old, I actually experienced a beatific sense of wholeness I didn’t have to make any effort to defend from my modern, too often cynical reason; the drug’s energy destroyed all doubts like a laser beam and I felt as though I had become my real self. “It’s all so simple!” I flung my arms around my date’s neck, an action I kept repeating because our embrace was the heart of the night to which I naturally returned as the tide ebbs and flows. I would run off to enjoy the playground, skipping down the asphalt path as if it was the yellow brick road, then fly back to rest against his chest and feel his arms around me as the whole marvelous universe. “It’s so simple!” I kept repeating. “Why, how have they complicated it so much?!” I could not for the life of me understand how mankind had managed to mess the world up so badly when life is divinely simple.
When I saw a Volkswagen with ears and a tail attached to it belonging to a fumigation company, I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time. It seemed such a perfect symbol of how ridiculous modern men could be, driving a mouse around, vitally cowards deep inside despite all their superficial sophistication. As we walked through the vast park, completely deserted at that time of night, I was torn between my date’s golden-haired smiling warmth and a deep, deep love for my shadow. There were no words to describe it, I just knew it was the real me. I thought, ‘I should always think like my shadow. It is absolutely pure and fearless, and it’s me, the real me!’ I could ignore my jeans, sagging like old flesh, and my earth-brown boots, because I was truly that slender darkness dancing on the grass with no worries, no problems whatsoever.
I stood for a long time before the calm, luminous beauty of water. Tall thick blades of grass rising from a lake evoked the columns of an ancient temple, and I imagined that in its youth, humanity had perceived reality more like I was doing now. When I threw in a stone and made a wish, the deep water universe gave birth to galaxies of light.
My date (who was perfectly straight) drove us to Key Biscayne. Street signs were ahead of us and then behind us in a heartbeat. When we began ascending onto a freeway, spiraling up and up, I felt as though I was floating as a single cell into the stream of lights surging swift as blood through an eternal and endless body of darkness. We parked the car directly in front of the ocean and lay on its hood staring up at the sky. Soft black clouds wafted around the full moon like furs slipping off a woman’s smooth white shoulder. My breathing was one with the rhythm of the tide, the living space of my chest rising up into the earth’s atmosphere. The whole world was my body…
When I sat up, my date began massaging my shoulders and back. I closed my eyes, and the pressure of his thumbs and fingers caused three-dimensional scenes to flash behind my eyelids. In white honey-comb like walls composed of countless tiny “stage boxes”, I perceived vividly colorful, crisply focused landscapes and furnished interiors, in some of which I glimpsed people. These “walls of life” emerged and receded in rhythm with the pressure of his fingertips digging deliciously into my skin. It was as if my flesh and bones were composed of tense bands of energy containing everything in the world.
Later, we leaned against the car kissing. I was wearing a long necklace from which hung a row of little golden fish. I dangled it in front of his face teasingly, and without thinking about it declared, “These are the keys to the kingdom. Will you come with me?” To which he replied, pressing his body against mine, “Sure, let’s go.”
It wasn’t until I had my first lucid dream decades later that I experienced a comparable feeling of union with my environment inseparable from a sense of absolute, timeless freedom. In lucid and semi-lucid dreams, I possess the ability to interact with the dream space and influence the experience in a living relationship and that really is the key. Tripping was essentially passive, the result of my brain’s chemistry temporarily altered by other chemicals. When I lucid dream, the opposite happens… something inside me sparks my awareness of being in a dream—part of the dream itself—and offers me the opportunity to thoughtfully engage with it.