You are held securely in your resting place by the force of gravity. Your field of consciousness is nestled comfortably into your awareness of it. There is nowhere to fall to. It is safe to explore.

The spiritual aspirant seeks enlightenment; some lofty attainment out there in the future which will at long last make them whole and complete. The pursuer of personal growth strives to be better as an individual with self-help practices and therapy. The philosopher seeks to understand the human condition and formulate a rational approach to it. The psychonaut explores consciousness for its own sake, for no other reason than because it is there.

And indeed, spiritual insights, understanding of the human condition and personal growth are all fruits which may be born of that exploration, but they are not sought after and they are not cherished. What motivates the psychonaut is not a desire to attain or understand, but a simple playful curiosity about the nature of experience and how it is happening.

We may call this playful exploration rabbit holing, and this innocent curiosity is all the invitation life requires to begin opening up rabbit holes to you.

There is no greater mystery than the phenomenon of consciousness. Minds have speculated as to why this continuous explosion of sights, sounds, smells, feelings and thoughts might appear in our field of awareness every morning when we emerge from deep sleep, but none have found any solid answers. What we know about anatomy and neurology doesn’t tell us anything about why there should be any experiential witness to this field of sense, emotion and thought; anatomy could theoretically function just fine as a biological machine with no consciousness witnessing its sensory and neurological behavior. The human organism could use its capacity for abstract thought to out-survive and out-thrive other competing organisms just fine without the phenomenon of consciousness occurring.

What is this strange field of experience arising unbidden from source unknown? What is the nature of that which witnesses it? Is there a self, an “I” there at all witnessing this play of form? What is the nature of the mind? What is the nature of this mind in particular? Is it making any assumptions about self, world, consciousness and reality that could perhaps be examined more closely? What is it like to explore these things deeply? To emote deeply? To see deeply? To smell deeply? What is the experience of beauty? Of happiness? And can I invite them to flower in my life more? Is it possible that the only reason this field of experience is not far more enjoyable is because I have not yet asked it to be?

These and many, many others are all rabbit holes which will open up to anyone who is sincerely curious about how all this is happening.

It is important to keep the exploration in a spirit of playfulness, because seriousness has a gravity to it which will cause aspects of certain discoveries to be clung to instead of letting the adventure flow on its own terms. Since this entire field of consciousness is pure mystery, there is no reason to take any of it more seriously than a sea otter taking an interest in a glint of shiny metal in the water.

Rabbit holes take many forms, but the attitude of playful and open curiosity is the same throughout. Perhaps you will find curiosity drawing you toward some aspect of your field of consciousness and its apparent boundary line that you had never noticed before. Perhaps you will be drawn towards some old childhood trauma and accept life’s invitation to swim around in it for a while. Perhaps the invitation will occur inside the play of forms itself as a new relationship or a conversation with a stranger at the park. Perhaps it will be playing around with a new lightly held belief system and seeing how it changes your perceptual filters. Perhaps it will be the simple appreciation for the beauty and majesty of a piece of garbage in the gutter. Perhaps it will be an urge to create artwork and stare into your own inner emptiness until creative ideas emerge.

Hold playful curiosity about your conscious experience as your sole guiding principle, without concerning yourself if you’re “doing it right” beyond that. When you’ve got no destination in mind, it is impossible to get lost. This vast ocean of consciousness is yours to swim in, so don’t take it for granted. Explore.




If you enjoyed this, subscribe to my website’s mailing list and watch for emails that say “Summa Psychonautica” in the title. This is an ongoing project which will turn into a book at some point in the future. In the meantime, consider buying my first book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

6 responses to “Summa Psychonautica: Rabbit Holing”

  1. Some time ago I was going through a very rough patch and produced deep and sad writing from the rabbit hole. Your perspective of a more playful place, more inquisitive than dark, is encouraging. Thank you, and as always, reading your work is a breath of fresh air.

  2. Some time ago I was going through a very difficult thing and produced some intense writing from the “rabbit hole”. Your playful perspective is much more pleasant and encourages me to write again also. As always, a breath of fresh air!

  3. Thank you, I love the fact that one of my favorite political writers
    is also skilled in pointing out the nature of mind itself, from the
    view point of pure experiential play. How could any of these things
    be seperate? Fragmented? Except as a temporary convenience to indulge
    the limitations of a hyper rational mind that pretends to be ignorant of the bigger
    context in which it arises, it can’t, lol. Not for long, anyway as we are finding out as a species. Holding this view is the ultimate act of rebellion,
    lovingly disruptive to the tyranny of everything from the so called “elite” to our feigned
    lack of curiosity towards or own consciousness, you know, the “one” that’s “just” reading
    these words right now. You might like reading the writings of Longchempa if you haven’t, a bit of a deep dive though, and unlike some of the contemporary authors suggested in these comments he wrote in the 13th century. And thank you for the poetry, i had no idea. Please keep ’em comimg, love it:)

  4. Great stuff. I think you might enjoy,
    If you have not already read them, Irreducible Mind and Beyond Physicalism by Ed Kelly et al.

  5. LuzMilagrosMamaWolf Avatar

    I find myself so entraced by your writing, especially your poetry. This was a little journey away from the insanity to see the world in it’s many planes. It is a reminder to sometimes move away from the storm to see the crocus that has accidentally peeped its green sprouts a little early, or to watch how squirrels play. Thank you for this sweet writing.

  6. C. G. Estabrook Avatar
    C. G. Estabrook

    May I recommend Herbert McCabe, ‘The Good Life: Ethics and the Pursuit of Happiness’ (2010), which draws on the accumulated wisdom of humanity, ancient and modern.

    McCabe writes, “In this book I want, among other things, to talk about the way we praise or blame other people and ourselves, about the way we think of some people as good and others as not so good. So I am concerned with ethics. And I start from the presupposition that praising and blaming is a perfectly sensible activity, that it is not like predicting the future from the dimensions of the great pyramid, or seeking to cure diphtheria by incantations at the time of the full moon, or hoping to defend your country by the use of nuclear weapons (all of which belong to the realm of magic rather than rationality). Praising and blaming (especially blaming) can be carried to excess or indulged in inappropriately. For now, though, I take it that they are ordinary and necessary human activities.

    “We may know reasonably well how to praise and blame without studying ethics — just as we may speak quite grammatically without ever having studied grammar. But the study of ethics, like grammar, is useful for at least two reasons. First, it is always satisfactory to see the reasons and principles and patterns behind what we do. Secondly, even though we speak quite grammatically for the most part, there may be times when we make mistakes or are puzzled about some linguistic form. And a study of grammar will help us to avoid mistakes in these cases. It might lead us to see that, if we are to be consistent with our own general practice, it is this we should say and not that. By the same token, the norms of traditional morality, like those of grammar, are never stable, and never quite adequate to deal with new forms of human behavior. So we need some way of determining what is a growth in our understanding and what is merely a decay, what, in the case of grammar, is a new and linguistic form, and what is mere slovenliness.”

Leave a Reply