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Observations placeholder

Watts, Alan - A pool of dazzling flame



Type of Spiritual Experience


I don't know which, of the three drugs mentionned, he was using at the time as he experimented with all three


A description of the experience

The Joyous Cosmology – Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness – Alan W. Watts and Timothy Leary

I find myself looking down at the floor of a vast courtyard, as if from a window high upon the wall, and the floor and the walls are entirely surfaced with ceramic tiles displaying densely involved arabesques in gold, purple, and blue.  The scene might be the inner courtyard of some Persian palace, were it not of such immense proportions and its colours of such preternatural transparency.  In the centre of the floor there is a great sunken arena, shaped like a combination of star and rose, and bordered with a strip of tiles that suggest the finest inlay work in vermilion, gold and obsidian.

Within this arena some kind of ritual is being performed in time with the music.  At first its mood is stately and royal, as if there were officers and courtiers in rich armour and many coloured cloaks dancing before their king.  As I watch the mood changes.  The courtiers become angels with wings of golden fire and in the centre of the arena there appears a pool of dazzling flame.  Looking into the pool I see, just for a moment, a face which reminds me of the Christos Pantocrator of Byzantine mosaics and I feel that the angels are drawing back with wings over their faces in a motion of reverent dread. 

But the face dissolves.  The pool of flame grows brighter and brighter and I notice that the winged beings are drawing back with a gesture, not of dread but of tenderness – for the flame knows no anger.  Its warmth and radiance – tongues of flame infolded – are an efflorescence of love so endearing that I feel I have seen the heart of hearts

The source of the experience

Watts, Alan

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Taking drugs


Cannabis and marijuana