The Language of Unity: An interview with Jack Cross about Entheogens, Shamanism and the Geometric structure of the English/Latin Alphabet

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Jack and I met 24 years ago when I owned a small and short-lived company called Shamanismo which organized ayahausca journeys to the Amazon. Jack called one auspicious day to learn more about Shamanismo and mentioned during our conversation that he wrote poetry in his ayahausca journeys. I found that hard to believe because ayahausca is such a powerful and usually nauseating substance, but curious, I asked if I could see a few of his poems, not expecting much. Thirty pages of transcendence later, I called Jack back to invite him to do a journey with me.

This would be the first of many beautiful, intimate and terrifyingly powerful journeys with Jack, who was WAAAY down the Rabbit Hole and taking notes. Jack wasn’t just writing poetry, he was taking apart the Alphabet, he was un-spelling words, un-telling story, and a new story was emerging, and a very old one, a story not about what we say with words, but about what the structure of words say about us, about our consciousness, about the shape of reality.

Lakshmi Narayan:

When did you first see that there was a relationship between the psychedelic experience and language?

Jack Cross:

It was in my very first psychedelic experience, with 5 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, as instructed, a “heroic dose.” I sat on my bed, inside an artists loft in downtown Los Angeles, and melted into the kaleidoscopic wings of a butterfly, and I said, “five grams, in Greek, ‘fi-V-e’ is ‘PENTA,’ a ‘gram’ is a ‘unit of weight’ and a ‘message,’ a penta-gram, a doorway.” And I laughed, for 6 hours, unable to utter a single word. At first, I thought these associations were coincidental and I tried to dismiss them, after all, I was supposed to be hallucinating. But these insights about language kept coming, rapidly, engulfing me, until there was no me, just a Voice made of Geometry.

One very valuable insight I brought out of that first experience though, was to try to push down on my diaphragm with my breath, to try to prevent it from quivering uncontrollably, so I might be able to stop laughing. I was a serious seeker, after all. So the following Saturday night, I took another 5 grams, and sat quietly, just breathing, and not. Things weren’t so funny now. I redefined coincidence and stepped beyond implications. I had wandered into this inner space, with the best of intentions, but, and, words were falling apart, and “I” was falling apart, “I” was being crucified, turned upside down and thrown into an archetypal sky. I was in over my head. I could read the morphemes of hallelujah, and I didn’t even know what a morpheme was.


So from the very beginning, you had this natural poetic impulse to write what you were experiencing in these altered states of consciousness. How or why did you start writing about the spelling of words, and then even more peculiar, the shapes of letters?


That’s a really good question. I could say this in many different ways. When you’re in an altered state like this, you see what you see, you receive what you receive. It’s not like thinking; it’s not deductive or inductive reasoning. You’ve taken too much for that. It’s more like seeing, immediately. It’s like seeing things you don’t know, while having the presence of mind to carefully bring these insights out into the world, to say them out loud, or better, to write them down before they’re lost in the torrent of revelations. It’s a difficult thing to do when you’re nauseous and intermittently throwing up and acutely aware that what you’re doing is illegal, and now you know why.

You’ve jacked into the Theo-within and simultaneously pulled the curtain back exposing a secular fiction, not sacred and not true. You see the relationship between Authority and author-ship and Autor, a Latin word for ‘FATHER.’ You’re Communing within the two hemispheres of your own mind. You have to deal with this, the polarized archetypal imagery hanging from the ‘T’ in motif, and eventually, you have to author-ize yourself to articulate the HIGHEST TRUTH, as perfectly imperfect as you are.

When you’re extremely high like this, everything is magnified. Your consciousness is expanded and you have to deal with the terror of realization. Remember, you’ve lived your entire life under the seamless assumption that you’re a normal person, but now you’re kissing the quaintness of a statistical anomaly swirling in a grateful tear, and you open a dictionary, to verify, and all the words just fall apart in front of you, and letters, like bones, have shapes, and they’re speaking to you.  What’s a poet to do?


I’ve noticed that you seem comfortable with the word hallucination and hallucinogen and you seem to use psychedelic and sacrament and entheogen pretty much interchangeably.


I am. An entheogen IS a sacrament. ‘MENT’ mean’s ‘MIND.’ ‘PSYCHE’ means ‘MIND,’ ‘DELIC’ means ‘TO MANIFEST,’ ‘THEO’ is ‘DIVINE,’ ‘OF GOD.’ To manifest your mind IS, UL-ti-MATE-ly, to manifest, to generate, the Theo-within.

The ‘H’ of ‘hallucination’ is an ‘aspirate,’ a breath, and the ‘AL’ morpheme is a pictogram of a compass and square, followed by a ‘LU’ morpheme, meaning ‘LIGHT.’ The compass and square are ‘instruments of measurement,’ to measure the ‘MENT,’ the ‘MIND.’ Interestingly, the compass and square are tools ‘belonging to a carpenter.’ Got wood?

Inside the so-called “hallucination,” we measure our mind with instruments of measure-ment belonging to a carpenter. You can think about the implications of that, out here, for awhile. Is the Theo-generated-with-en an il-LU-sion, a de-LU-sion? Is ‘entheogen’ a misnomer? This is what it’s all about, what is real and what is a hallucination?


So the linguistic part of what you’re saying is that words have meaning because of the presence or structure of morphemes?


Generally speaking, that’s true.


Can you define what a morpheme is for me?


Of course. A morpheme is defined as “the smallest unit of letters that have intrinsic meaning.” ‘Morph’ is ‘FORM’ written backwards, where the ‘P’ and ‘F’ transliterate and the ‘H,’ again, is an ‘aspirate,’ a breath, and ‘PHEME’ means ‘TO SPEAK.’ A morpheme is ‘FORM-SPEAKING.’ Also, ‘intrinsic’ means ‘INWARD’ or ‘WITHIN’ and ‘tri’ means ‘THREE.’

This is what Shamanism is about, primarily, healing and meaning. Interestingly, in Mathematics, ‘mean,’ the base of ‘mean-ing,’ means ‘MIDDLE,’ and spatially, middle has no meaning without a set of coordinates.

In the morphing of morphemes we see ord-er in chaos, and in the Geometric patterns that are the foundation of, in our case, of all things, even English, this so-called “bastard language” that we’re speaking. We c-LA-I-M it.

The ‘LA’ morpheme of LA-nguage, as I have previously e-LU-cidated, is a pictogram of a compass and square and the ‘NG’ morpheme which follows means ‘GNOSIS,’ the ‘personal knowledge of.’ The ‘G’ of g-nosis transliterates to ‘K’ in k-nowledge. The ‘LANG’ of ‘language’ is the Gnosis or Knowledge of the ‘LA’ morpheme, of the Compass and Square.

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Can you explain this idea of measuring the mind a little further? How would that translate to me or you finding the Middle Way? Can you give an example?


The Middle Way isn’t a metaphor, or an amorphous ambiguity, it’s a spatial koan, a directive. It points the mind to the middle OF WHAT, and then to, OF WHO. To locate one’s position in space, one needs three ordinates, location, location, location. Three’s a charm. Something used in magic spells.

The ‘MED’ of ‘meditate’ and ‘medicine’ means ‘MIDDLE.’ ‘Mean’ means ‘MIDDLE.’ Middle has no meaning, spatially, without a set of coordinates.

A SA-[y]-man, the middle-CIN-man, of the, breat-H… AL-LU-CIN-ation, is an in-T-er-MED-iary, in a cross, in the middle. Spell SA-in-T.

We measure and trans-LA-te with an ‘LA’ morpheme, which I SA-y are pictograms of a compass and square. The ‘L’ is the upper-right quadrant of a cross, created by S-qu-in-T-ing at ligh-T, and the ‘A,’ not to be confused with the hard head of an Ox, is a pictogram of the human pine-AL g-LA-nd, the CON-e of CON-SCI-ous-ness. The ‘SCI’ means ‘TO KNOW,’ on-T-o-logically.

In AL-T-er-ed states of consciousness, we psyche-logically self-crucify, to reconcile our consciousness, ON coordinates made of ligh-T, inside our own mind, and we find the Carpenter’s Tools, the Compass and Square and Pen. We re-AL-ize.

The J-ourney is A-rchetypal, of the First-Type, ec-ST-atic, transc-END-en-T. What are the fin-AL implications of integrity and integration? Who can measure? With what?


What does “reconcile our consciousness” mean?


I’m referring to internal conflict, mostly, and hopefully, with practice, we fully comprehend and integrate our internal processes and bring them out into our external lives and share them with our human tribe. They don’t call it a peace pipe for nothing. And we don’t smoke a ‘J’ for nothing. We are not on a J-ourney for no etymological or Geometric or metaphysical reason. We’re J-oining, binding, the two hemispheres of our mind together, and in doing this, we are Communing with our HIGHER SELF, name it what you will. There’s a ‘MED’ in comedy and ‘co’ means ‘TWO.’ No J-oke.


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