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Observations placeholder

Carbogen visuals



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Amazing Closed Eye Visuals - Carbon Dioxide & Nitrous Oxide - by James McGuigan SOURCE EROWID

[Erowid Warning: Breathing high levels of CO2 can cause respiratory or circulatory failure and death.]

I came across the idea to try CO2 from a brief mention by Aldous Huxley in his book 'Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell'.

While Huxley used a breathing mask and a 30% CO2 / 70% Oxygen mix, I had to fall back on C02 whippits in a balloon, using a whipped cream dispenser.

When you hold your breath, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs. The body does not detect lack of oxygen as such, but rather the build up of CO2 to tell you that you urgently need to breath. With a high enough level of CO2 in the lungs, the body starts shutting down parts of the brain as an emergency form of protection against lack of oxygen. It is this shutting down that causes the psychedelic effects, which seem consistent with Huxley's theories on the brain being a filter and the historical use of underground CO2 vents for divination.

My first attempt was a single CO2 whippet in a balloon. As soon as I took my first sip of a breath, I suddenly felt I could not breath in any more (as if my lungs where already full). I breathed fully out and consciously forced myself to breath in on the balloon. It has an acidic taste, comparable to getting bubbles from a fizzy drink up your nose. The body's first reaction is to panic, to breath out and then gasp for air.

To make it easier on the lungs and the body, I took another balloon and filled it 50/50 with CO2 and nitrous oxide (as a mixer). This was easier to breath in and hold. The body still tries to panic though, and possibly hyper-ventilate. With the right frame of mind and mental focus it is possible to mostly calm the body. The most difficult thing about doing CO2 is simply keeping the stuff in my lungs for long enough.

When doing a nitrous oxide balloon for 2-3 minutes, I tend to fade off into a dream/vision world, which builds up from the darkness of my closed eyes but is always colorless.

With CO2, within 10-20 seconds I start to fade off not into darkness but into amazing colors and patterns (on a background of intense white light). I could visualize symbols and objects ahead of me, a skull, a goddess in lotus position and even the scene from the Matrix where they load the construct program and the camera flies towards two people in an empty white room.

For others I have introduced CO2 to, it can take quite a lot of effort and willpower to hold in the CO2 in for 10-20+ seconds and most do not get that far. The effects of CO2 below that required for a visionary state are comparable to a quick sharp adrenaline rush, caused by the body suddenly going into panic mode.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Inhaling nitrous oxide