We never really sleep.
A spontaneous flashback came several months after an entheogenic experience I had one night. It was a remembering of the essence of that trip, which had evaded me at the moment, in all its overwhelming and confusing nature. The fact that both events took place at night, a period of time during which we’re usually asleep, is essential to what I want to explore here. What struck me in that sudden reactivation is that the state of extreme awakeness and otherwordly exploration I had gone into, that intoxicated night, was not at all out of the ordinary. We are, somehow, no less conscious at night than we are during the day; it’s only our sense of self that is different. I venture into calling ‘dream body’ that other self we become at night to go through all of the womblike, ethereal, dark yet colorful unconscious processes that characterize that whole third of our lives.
Why would nature design sleep as an integral part of a biological organism’s existence? This pulsing duality that permeates our reality… inhale-exhale, awake-asleep, alive-dead. This constant cycle of opposites has a sacred quality to it.
Understanding the rejuvenating properties of sleep doesn’t answer the primordial Why of its existence in the grand design of life, just as knowing that we have to exhale in order to balance out oxygen and CO2 sheds no light on the process’ raison d’être.
What I gathered is that certain psychedelic medicines, when done at night, allow us to peer into the deeply mysterious mechanisms that go on inside of us when we sleep. The unconscious is made conscious in those moments, the building blocks of our synapses infused with the energy of the connection that remains between our DNA and the earth itself.
The great mother feeds us at night, and we are normally blind to it, the dream self being mostly forsaken by the time we wake up. We rise with a forgetfulness akin to the great amnesia we all suffer as a species, the seemingly inescapable ignorance of our interconnectedness.
Belonging to the whole is an undeniable fact of our existence as organisms. Sleep is but another reminder of the curious cycle we are tied to our whole lives, this dance of opposites. Just as compost acts as a fertilizer, our deaths will propel new life into existence.