“[Source] is not an object; it is radical, ever-present Subject, and thus it is not something that is going to jump out in front of you like a rock, an image, an idea, a light, a feeling, an insight, a luminous cloud, an intense vision, or a sensation of great bliss. Those are all nice, but they are all objects, which is what [Source] is not.”
Essence: 1: a volatile substance or constituent, 2: a constituent or derivative possessing the special qualities (as of a plant or drug) in concentrated form; also, a preparation of such an essence or a synthetic substitute.
Spirit 1 : an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms, 2 : a supernatural being or essence: such as holy spirit or soul
A brief and incomplete timeline of contemporary use
Bufo: taken from bufo alvarius (the taxonomical name for the Sonoran Desert toad); often the word used for the secretion of this animal. Sometimes referred to as sapo or toad (not to be confused with rana or frog).
5: taken from the name of the molecular compound, 5-MeO-DMT. Sometimes referred to as the god molecule, 5-MeO, jaguar, and other various monikers. This is predominantly synthesised, however extraction from plants is also possible.
Contemporary use (by smoking the vapour) of bufo began, as far as anyone knows, in the early 1980s. Contemporary use (by insufflation and vapourisation) of 5 began in the 1960s (though it was first synthesised in 1937). Please click here for a better timeline).Generally, the usage was not broadcast very loudly. It was rare to learn about either bufo or 5, though some notable figures knew of one or the other: Terrence McKenna spoke of bufo; Ralph Metzner was a professor at the CIIS and detailed his use of Bufo and 5 throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s in The Toad and the Jaguar, 2013); Sasha Shulgin included his experiments with 5 in his book, TIHKAL (1997); in 2005, the first account of an extraordinarily difficult integration of 5, Darkness Shining Wild, was written by Robert Augustus Masters; in 2006, Stan Grof briefly articulated his first experience with 5 (decades earlier) in When the Impossible Happens; James Oroc’s Tryptamine Palace was published in 2009…. Despite these mentions from some, the use of 5 (and especially bufo) was more or less absent from the discourse on psychedelics.
That changed around the beginning of the 2010s, when two people began to use the internet to share that they were offering bufo to whoever would like to have it. These two individuals are from Mexico and I call that marker in time the Mexican Wave.
This Wave was an unprecedented phenomenon that has contributed to a wider awareness of bufo and, consequently, 5. Remarkably, before the Mexican Wave, the waters were still: not only was it rare to hear about the general usage of either bufo or 5, but learning about dubious practices with them were basically unheard of. The Wave has had a wake behind it. Without digressing, however, I will get into the substance of my writing here.
Spirit vs. Essence
What does bufo have that 5 doesn’t?
If 5 were extracted from bufo, what would it be considered?
The secretion of the toad naturally has many components, not just 5-MeO-DMT. These components and their composition can only be found in this one species of toad, the alvarius (sidenote: the term bufo is a misnomer, since bufo is the genus of all creatures we call toads, and alvarius is the name of the specific species of toad we are taking about). Apparently, 5 is not a component in any of the hundreds of other species of toads, but only in the alvarius. So, the practical difference between 5 and bufo is that the latter has an assemblage of other ingredients.
Put simply, the composition of the various components of bufo are unique: arguably, no other creature possesses such a concoction. Therefore, I recognise that there is a spirit of the toad.
And, if 5 were not one of the components of bufo, no one would be smoking it. Its ‘spirit’, like the spirit of the hundreds of other species of toads, would not be appreciated by anyone in this same way. I have yet to hear anyone use the word ‘medicine’ for the secretion of any other toad.
5, then, is the essential component to this concoction we call bufo. The concoction—a natural blessing, to be sure—hosts the essence.
But why am I not considering that bufo (here I mean the secretion) is the essence of the animal? Because the same ‘effect’ is happening when using 5.
Is that true, one asks? What about that entourage or bouquet effect that occurs due to all those other components…. While the answer to that will most likely always be subjective, I will rely heavily on this one likelihood: no one would smoke bufo if it didn’t have 5 in it.
5 is essential. 5 is the essence.
Quintessence: 1: the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form, 2: the fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies
Let’s take, for example, coffee. Coffee is generally consumed because it has caffeine in it. The caffeine isn’t the only component to what we call coffee. It is, however, why we use it. Smoking bufo without its essence may be analogous to drinking de-caffeinated coffee. In the case of bufo, then, ‘de-fived bufo’. Or, a coffee substitute, like chicory for example, may be like smoking the secretion of another species of toad. It’ll have spirit, like the chicory surely has, but not the essential thing we’re looking for. Caffeine, following this train of thought, is the essence of coffee.
Different people report different things in their findings with both bufo and 5. I suggest that it is impossible to objectively know if the entourage of components that make up the spirit offer anything to the essential experience that characterises 5. The word ‘different’ seems to be the common denominator. Your subjective experience is your individual truth. My guess is that individual truth evolves in many ways throughout a lifetime. Is it possible, then, that there is an evolution in moving towards what is essential?
Whether with bufo or 5, essentially, it is. All. (t)here.
What characterises this essence?
Essence: from Middle English essencia, from Latin essentia, from esse to be — more at IS
The unique function of 5-MeO-DMT is its efficacy in revealing the source of All. All what? Well, everything. Even nothing.
Often, the potential peak experience (what I often call a ‘full release’) with 5-MeO-DMT is related to the non-dual teachings of the most robust bodies of wisdom, ie. Taoism, Vedic texts, etc., as well as many modern ones (i.e., Mooji, Rupert Spira, et al). Without getting into what the words non-duality, or, singularity, attempt to describe, I often use the word ‘Source’ to underline the idea that all binaries, polarities, dualities have a source. That source can only be One. The word ‘Spirit’ (with a capital S) is sometimes used in the place of Source, for instance by modern non-dual thinker/philosopher Ken Wilber (quoted above). Indeed, the ineffable—paradoxically yet understandably—has many names and words; humans have always tried to ‘eff’ it.
My purpose for cursorily delving into such an immense tangent here is that there is a characteristic of 5-MeO-DMT that is seemingly unlike any other substance: that it reveals this One—this source of All—so effectively that it would seem to be its very function.
If the source of All is indeed revealed by both 5 and bufo alike, then one could say that spirit is not necessary for the revelation to occur. Spirit—in this case the entourage of components that make up bufo—is non-essential. But what is essential? Is the potential peak experience the modus operandi of 5-MeO-DMT?
That question, I suggest, is certainly of the essence.
To be continued….
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Excellent piece with such-needed clarification for observers and newbies. By experience with organic toad was the single most profound experience of my life (including all psychedelics) and brought me into being the white light, which is itself a metaphor for something beyond words. Note that you may wish to clarify one further matter: I’ve noticed a lot of confusion in the “scene” due to “sapo” being the Spanish word for toad (so far so good) but also being the alternative name for the South American medicine Kambo, which comes from a frog (not a toad) but which is confusingly sometimes called “Sapo.” So I’ve found myself sometimes beginning to talk to someone about my experience with sapo as the “toad medicine” or 5-MeO-DMT, and had them say, “Oh, I’ve heard about that frog medicine, where they burn holes in your skin.” Of course, the latter is an entirely different experience, in which the poisonous secretions of the Green Dart frog are prepared and smeared on small holes carefully burned in the skin, to trigger an immune system response that has healing qualities. So let’s all be clear: there’s the toad 5-MeO-DMT experience (organic or synthetic vapour that’s inhaled) and there’s the frog Sapo experience of secretions smeared on skin.
Indeed, in my own experience, English-speakers often conflate the words frog and toad about as often as Spanish-speakers conflate the words rana and sapo.
as always, you are wonderfully interesting, articulate and informative ~ gracias