Entoptic Imagery and Altered States of Consciousness

I would like to include a quick note on the definition of entoptic imagery :  In their discussion of paleolithic cave imagery, Lewis-Williams and Dowson define entoptic imagery as visual experiences arising from anywhere within the optic system, which includes the eyes, the occipital lobe of the brain, and the many other portions of the neural cortex that process visual stimuli.  This definition comes from the Greek translation of entoptic meaning “things perceived within vision”, and is commonly used by anthropologists and archaeologists (Williams & Dowson 1988).  On the other hand, in most medical literature, entoptic imagery is defined as imagery which only originates from within the eye itself.  Given the Greek meaning of the word entoptic, I prefer the anthropological definition of the term.  Therefore, for the purposes of this article, ‘entoptic’ indicates imagery that arises from anywhere within the visual system, from the eyes to the neural cortex.


In 2011, Genevieve Von Petzinger mapped out the Geometric Patterns of the Paleolithic world, identifying 26 distinct shapes.  She then looked for patterns of continuity and change over time and space.  She found that at an early age we already see 70% of the patterns being used, and that there is a high degree of repetition of a limited number of shapes, with some being replicated throughout the 20,000 year time span of the study.  This suggests that these symbols were not created at random, but that they were intentional and symbolic. Von Petzinger believes that the abstract nature of these signs is some of the best proof we currently have that these images were not being made purely for their aesthetic qualities, and she suggests that these markings were symbolic attempts to communicate ideas that were not so easy to depict in a physical form.

This theory goes directly in line with the theory of Lewis-Williams and Dowson.  If these images are, in fact, depictions of entoptic imagery seen during trance, and if these images are consistent across individuals and types of trance state, it would make a great deal of sense that we see these images in so many different parts of the world and that they are consistent throughout a very long period of time.  If the trance state and the brain itself does not change significantly across individual and method of trance induction, there would be no reason for the images to do so, either!


Entheogens delivered by strobe ! what do phosphenes look like?

these are actually all animations you can see here:

Entoptics coloursThese entoptic moving shapes are just some of the psychedelic patterns we try to describe after a Pandorastar lucid strobe light session.. I have researched the history in Ophthalmics and Physics from Jan Purkinje and Helmholtz from the 1820s who called them ‘Shadow Patterns’ and ‘Form constants’ . They made illustrations of the types of patterns in categories commonly shared amongst experiencers inducing them by simply waving their fingers over their closed eyelids with a gaslamp behind them ( could also be done with the sun )

In ophthalmology, eye floaters are generally regarded as harmless vitreous opacities. They are “entoptic phenomena”, viz. optical phenomena which are caused by certain conditions of the human visual system. Entoptic phenomena, whose appearance can be manipulated by selectively induced changes of consciousness states, are objects of interest for both science- and spiritually-oriented researchers. As physical and neurological symptoms, they belong to the physicians’ area of study; as subjective light phenomena they are likely to gain spiritual meanings for some people. While the Western medical study of entoptics has a tradition of a couple of hundred years, the interpretation of entoptic phenomena like floaters as spiritually significant perception in connection with altered states of consciousness possibly originated in the early days of human art.

The diagram below from Lewis-Williams and Dowson in the 1980s further shows the similarity with San Rock art engravings in caves and the more modern archetypal forms we know from Kluver and Smithies mescaline research in the 1920s-1950s


Exploring Stereo peripheral ‘Dreamachines’ no:3 with Luciana, Hypnagogic Art action

21248292_10155675591773637_1551709977843715443_oTonight’s exploration ( originally from a sketch ) ; I am with two Dreamachines, 78rpm and 45rpm for dual asynchronous peripheral flicker, Alpha-Theta brainwave stimulation: undulating relaxation .. entrainment with eyes closed. Entraining the analogue way. Respect to Brion Gysin, Ian Somerville for their design intuitively and synchronously created the same time as Dr Grey Walter described the hallucinations and visual side effects of ‘flicker’ and ‘form constants’ seen behind closed eyes.

What I do

11865135_10153552825528637_4945803293770152292_oLuciana Haill is concerned in esoteric ways of accessing ‘The Visionary’. To do this she explores and measures brainwaves during liminal stages of sleeping and specifically focuses on ‘Lucid Dreaming’ and further entraining brainwaves associated with ‘The Hypnagogic’ state experienced as we drift off. This stage is marked by a decrease in Beta and an increase in Theta brainwaves, so she sets about emulating this in fully awake participants who experience her art. She is artist in residence in the Department of Psychology in Greenwich University London, and her artworks are research-led, developing following encounters and (where possible) training with pioneers in her field. Her participatory installations, talks and performances have taken place internationally including Mexico City, Hawaii and Slovenia. Her techniques involve Neurofeedback with EEG (passive, surface mounted brainwave monitoring) –  a training process using technology to provide you with more information about what your brain is doing. and interviewing participants about their experiences. She researches the neural correlates, and creates stimulating contemporary sensory light and sound entrainment devices in installations expressing the surreal psycho-phenomenological characteristics preceding an Altered State of Consciousness, such as within a vivid / lucid dreaming in her Fine Artworks.