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Some common speculations about DMT
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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: His eyes are closed.

 

~ Albert Einstein

 

During the course of the investigation and accumulation of the scant facts that our society has gathered about the organic tryptamines, there has also undoubtedly been generated far more pure speculation, as DMT and 5-MeO-DMT (in a variety of forms) have continued to developed a mythology uniquely there own. In an effort to separate the fact from the fiction and the known from the unknown, this section considers some common speculations about DMT.

 

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The Pineal Gland as the source of our endogenous DMT

 

pineal glandIn the 1970’s, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT were both discovered to be endogenous to the human body, though their function and the source of their origin remain a mystery. Probably the most commonly misrepresented piece of speculation amongst DMT and ayahuasca enthusiasts is the theory that this endogenous DMT is produced by our pineal gland. While the ancient and mysterious pineal gland has long captured the human imagination having been identified by the Hindu’s as the site of the ‘third-eye’ and more recently said to be ‘the seat of the soul’ by the French philosopher Descartes, there is absolutely zero proof that DMT is produced by pineal gland. This is therefore, pure speculation, even though many people in the psychedelic community often present this theory as if it is a proven fact.

 

The origins of this still-unproven speculation first appear in the mid-1980’s :

 

“During his talk "Psychoactive Drugs Throughout Human History" at a 1983 University of California at Santa Barbara conference, Andrew Weil mentioned in passing, "Dimethyltryptamine [...] is almost certainly made by the pineal gland in the brain." Meanwhile, at U.C. San Diego, Rick Strassman had begun to wonder whether or not the pineal might produce psychedelic compounds. That same year, in his booklet Eros and the Pineal: The Layman's Guide to Cerebral Solitaire, Albert Most claimed that: "A pair of naturally occurring pineal enzymes [...] is capable of converting serotonin into a number of potent hallucinogens." Most stated that the pineal could transform serotonin into 5-methoxy-N-methyltryptamine, and then make that into 5-methyoxy-N,N-dimethyltrptamine. Alas, no references were provided to support Most's description of pineal catabolism. Nevertheless, it seems likely that this general line of thinking - that some psychoactive tryptamine is created in the pineal - was birthed in the early 1980s.”

 

~ Jon Hanna. "DMT and the Pineal: Fact or Fiction?" (Jun 3, 2010.)

 

 

This hypothesis that the pineal gland is the source of our endogenous DMT gained substantial traction amongst the psychedelic community after the publication of Dr. Rick Strassman’s book, “DMT: The Spirit Molecule’. An account of the clinical trials that Dr. Strassman ran on the effects of DMT on human volunteers at the University of New Mexico in the early 1990’s (in the first FDA approved human-trials of a psychedelic since the 1960’s), Dr Strassman’s hypothesis about the source of our endogenous DMT is mostly based on the fact that the pineal gland is know to produce melatonin (which is a tryptamine), and contain the highest concentrations of methyltransferase that would be necessary for the production of DMT. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr Strassman proposed (apparently very convincingly!) that:

 

* The pineal gland produces psychedelic amounts of DMT at extraordinary times in our lives. Pineal DMT production is the physical representation of non-material, or energetic, processes. It provides us with the vehicle to consciously experience the movement of our life-force in its most extreme manifestations. Specific examples of this phenomenon are the following:

 

* When our individual life force enters our fetal body, the moment in which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT. Later, at birth, the pineal releases more DMT. In some of us, pineal DMT mediates the pivotal experience of deep meditation, psychosis, and near death experiences.

 

* As we die, the life force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.

 

~ (pages 68-69, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, 2001). (Jon Hanna/ EROWID (Jun 3, 2010.)


These self-admitted theories in DMT: The Spirit Molecule have been so convincing that many of Dr Strassman’s fans (the comedian Joe Rogan being the worst offender) have apparently not realized that these are unproven hypotheses; perhaps an unforeseen effect of Dr Strassman’s book mixing personal theories with the clinical results of his trials. Some of these admittedly fascinating theories – for example the release of DMT into the fetus at 49 days old (the day it first shows sex) as Dr Strassman proposed – clearly cannot be tested under current scientific parameters, while the fact that Dr Strassman did not find any DMT in the cadavers of the 10 human brains that he looked at has generally been dismissed or ignored. Nor has anyone been able to prove Dr Strassman’s theory of DMT being produced by the pineal in the decades since his original trials.

 

The lack of accurate DMT testing methods, complicated by the legal restrictions against investigating DMT (and especially in live subjects), undoubtedly hinders further research in this field, and much of Rick Strassman’s current work at the Cottonwood Research Foundation is apparently being directed towards developing new ways of assaying DMT levels in the blood. However, even if more time passes by without anyone finding DMT in the pineal and it appears that Dr Strassman’s theory is wrong, the fact will still remain that DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are endogenous; and the search for the origins of their production will continue.

 

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The role of DMT in dreaming

 

Terence McKenna on DMT and DreamingAnother hypothesis that is commonly passed as fact is the hypothesis that DMT is released by the pineal gland in our deepest states of sleep, and that the wild and chaotic dreams we sometimes have (and sometimes have a hard time remembering) are being caused by this internal DMT-release.

 

Since there is no proof that the pineal is producing DMT this is obviously at the very least unproven. However since DMT is known to be being produced somewhere within our bodies, the hypothesis that endogenous DMT is affecting not only our dreams, but perhaps other parts of our consciousness, is apparently scientifically legitimate, and of some interest to the neurological sciences;

 

A biochemical mechanism (was proposed) by the medical researcher J. C. Callaway, who suggested in 1988 that DMT might be connected with visual dream phenomena, where brain DMT levels are periodically elevated to induce visual dreaming and possibly other natural states of mind. A new hypothesis proposed is that in addition to being involved in altered states of consciousness, endogenous DMT may be involved in the creation of normal waking states of consciousness. It is proposed that DMT and other endogenous hallucinogens mediate their neurological abilities by acting as neurotransmitters at a sub class of the trace amine receptors; a group of receptors found in the CNS where DMT and other hallucinogens have been shown to have activity. Wallach further proposes that in this way waking consciousness can be thought of as a controlled psychedelic experience. It is when the control of these systems becomes loosened and their behavior no longer correlates with the external world that the altered states arise.

 

~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine

 

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Glossalia and Visual Language

 

Celestial Kingdom by Amanda SageI had the impression of bursting into a space inhabitated by merry, elfin, self-transforming machine creatures. Dozens of these friendly fractal entities, looking like self-dribbling Fabergé eggs on the rebound, had surrounded me and tried to teach me the lost language of true poetry.

 

They seemed to be to be babbling in a visible and five-dimensional form of Ecstatic Nostatic, to judge from the emotional impact of this gnomish prattle. Mirror-surfaced tumbling rivers of melted meaning flowed gurgling around me. Under the influence of DMT, language was transmuted from a thing heard to a thing seen.

 

~ Terence McKenna describing his first DMT experience in 1966.

 

One of the most common reoccurring themes of the DMT experience is encounters with language – flowing alien codes, runic symbols, information transforming to symbols and than into thoughts, the sense of being “down-loaded”. Participants can also experience “glossolia”, or “speaking-in-tounges” where they spontaneously speak strange languages or make alien sounds, the result of which often influences the DMT “trip” itself.

 

 

This phenomenon has led to various speculations that there is a link between DMT (in the body, and/or in plants) or psilocin (4-OH-DMT, in mushrooms) and the human species acquisition of language. Two of ayahuasca and DMT’s greatest pioneers were apparently influenced by the possibility; William S. Burroughs most famous statement – that Language is a virus from outer space – would later find its extreme extrapolation in Terence McKenna’s hypothesis was that the psilocybin mushroom spore is both an alien intelligence and a spaceship seeding language throughout the Universe.

 

Order with Chaos Letters 2000, by Allyson GreyHallucinogenic plants may have been the catalysts for everything about us that distinguishes us from the other primates, except perhaps the loss of body hair. All of the mental functions that we associate with humanness, including recall, projective imagination, language, naming, magical speech, dance, and a sense of the religio may have emerged out of interaction with hallucinogenic plants.

 

Our society more than others will find this theory difficult to accept, because we have made pharmacologically obtained ecstasy a taboo. Sexuality is a taboo for the same reason such things are consciously or unconsciously sensed to be entwined with the mysteries of where we came from and how we got to be the way we are.

 

~ Mushrooms and Evolution, Terence McKenna (1988).

 

Today, heavily influenced by McKenna’s ideas, there is an emerging field that is attempting an scientific investigation of this phenomenon which it calls Xenolinguistics – the study of non-human intelligences. Numerous speculations have also be raised around the concept that Everything is language, a common intuition to many DMT users. The DNA sequence which is the basis of all life that we know of is a complex language or code, and anthropologist Jeremy Narby proposes in his book The Cosmic Serpent  (about ayahuasca) that DMT allows shamans (and us) a visual encounter with this DNA ‘library. While at the quantum level, all physical reality is in fact an exchange of information in the form of energy … a seething maelstrom of possibility waiting to be born into form that some would argue mirrors the intense mental fluctuations of the DMT experience.

 

 

One recurring motif that is very interesting to me is the hyperdimensional language. On DMT one hears a language that is very faint and far away, and, as it gets louder and louder, without ever going over a quantifiable distinct transition, it becomes a phenomenon not of the audible field but of the visual field. It is, in fact, a fully evolving hallucination of extremely realistic and utterly bizarre proportions. It is an Arabian maelstrom of color and form, and one sense some how the Sistine Chapel, the Kaaba, and konarak. A hyperdimensional infundibulum, if you will. There is alien information deployed everywhere in that other space. The really astonishing thing is that human history and art reflect so little of it.

 

~ A Conversation of Saucers. An Interview with Terence McKenna

from Revision (1989). Reprinted in The Archaic Revival (1991).

 

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DMT and Alien Contact

 

XaviMeeting with ‘Aliens’ whilst under the influence of DMT has been a pervasive theme of DMT reports since the wide-spread use of the compound first began in the mid 60’s; numerous positions on this phenomena have evolved since it was first noted, with no single theory gaining common credence. Judging by certain examples of the current ‘Visionary Art’ the contact between these strange beings and DMT users is obviously continuing!

 

William S. Burroughs and Alien Intelligence

 

Yage is a space-ship.

~ William S. Burroughs, The Yage Letters.

 

William S. BurroughsIn his letters written to Alan Ginsberg in 1956 about his ayahuasca experiences (later published as The Yagé Letters) William S. Burroughs first suggested the idea that the ayahuasca experience is actually an access to some kind of an alien reality. Thus it could be suggested that the inspiration for both one of his most famous statements – that language is a virus from Outer Space – as well as the hallucinatory alien-filled world of Interzone in his most famous work Naked Lunch, in fact come from his pioneering experimentation with both ayahuasca and DMT.  The existence of this ‘alien reality’ would continue to be a prevalent theme in Burroughs work throughout the rest of his life.

 

 

William Burroughs’ reference points were outside most of ours. Like any explorer, he searched for the highest peak for a better point of view. If he could establish some sort of connection with non-human intelligence, he may have thought he could finally crack the hard shell of what he called the “Nova Conspiracy”: one of his models for the drive that makes some humans seek total control of others. Burroughs was apparently convinced that this meme was so dastardly that it had to be due to an outside influence, namely what we would sometimes call “aliens.” It probably did not matter to him if the contact was with “good” or “bad” aliens. He could glean information from either source.

~ from William S. Burroughs, Whitley Strieber, and U.F.O.'s

 

Terence McKenna and Alien Love

 

The feeling of doing DMT is as though one had been struck by noetic lightning. The ordinary world is almost instantaneously replaced, not only with a hallucination, but a hallucination whose alien character is its utter alienness. Nothing in this world can prepare one for the impressions that fill your mind when you enter the DMT sensorium.

~ Terence McKenna

 

William S. Burroughs pioneering ideas and explorations would remain unreplicated for nearly a quarter-century before reappearing in the speeches and writings of Terence McKenna, whose first book (The Invisible Landscape, written with his brother Dennis) was also about going to Colombia (unsuccessfully) in search of ayahuasca (yage).

 

Following the death of his mother in 1971, Terence, his brother Dennis, and three friends traveled to the Colombian Amazon in search of oo-koo-hé, a plant preparation containing DMT. Instead of oo-koo-hé they found various forms of ayahuasca (also known as "yagé") and gigantic psilocybe cubensis which became the new focus of the expedition. In La Chorrera, at the urging of his brother, he allowed himself to be the subject of a psychedelic experiment which he claimed put him in contact with Logos: an informative, divine voice he believed was universal to visionary religious experience.[The revelations of this voice, and his brother's peculiar experience during the experiment, prompted him to explore the structure of an early form of the I Ching, which led to his "Novelty Theory”. These ideas were explored extensively by Terence and Dennis in their 1975 book The Invisible Landscape - Mind Hallucinogens and The I Ching.

~ Wikipedia.org

 

Terence McKennaThere can be no doubt that when the true history of the rediscovery of entheogens is written, the McKenna brothers Colombian expedition of 1971 will be recognized as a water-shed moment in modern spirituality, if only for the fact that upon returning from Colombia the two brothers were largely responsible for introducing the psilocybe cubensis spores to the United States and subsequently published the first enormously popular “Magic Mushroom Growers Guide” (under the psydenoms O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric). These actions helped to establish psilocybin (or “magic”) mushrooms amongst the psychedelic culture as a ‘natural’ alternative to (synthetic) LSD, with psilocybin mushrooms becoming the first of the ‘traditional’ entheogens that were made widely available. Their universal popularity, combined with Terence McKenna’s extensive advocacy of both psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca, were the catalyst for the continuing large-scale rediscovery of the use of natural plant-entheogens, and for the subsequent current widespread interest in indigenous shamanism.

 

Terence McKenna’s own influence on post-60’s psychedelic culture certainly does not stop there however, for it seemed like he was indeed a ‘mouth-piece for the Logos’. Over the next nearly 40 years before his premature death, his fertile mind both generated and revisited an extraordinary number of brilliant and unusual ideas, many of which have since had a noticeable impact on our underground culture. Much of that cultures current interest in shamanism, post-modern tribalism, and the reputed Mayan End-of-Time date of Dec 21st, 2012, originate in Terence McKenna’s written and spoken advocacy of ayahuasca  and psilocybe mushrooms.

 

Terence McKenna on the AlienAfter emerging as the primary voice in the post-1960’s psychedelic culture, McKenna became a popular speaker throughout the 1980’s, especially once he was embraced by the emerging electronic music culture where his ideas on the intersection between technology and psychedelics found a ready and willing audience. The majority of these ideas were published in short-succession in the early 1990’s in McKenna’s two major works – Food of the Gods, The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, his magus opus on the unrecorded history of psilocybin mushrooms that expands on Gordon and Valentina Wasson’s theory that Mankind first conceived of God after accidently consuming some kind of entheogenic mushroom; and The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History, a collection of his essays and speeches that is arguably both his most radical, and increasingly most influential, work. It is in this book (along with the assertion that the mushroom spore itself is a spaceship capable of inter-stellar travel) that Terence elaborates most eloquently on his ideas about the Alien, or the Wholly Other.

 

It seems to me that with the tryptamine hallucinogens in general and with psilocybin in particular we actually experience a state of mind that is very similar to the state of mind reported to accompany UFO contact. Shamanic states of mind and UFO contact can, somehow, be mapped into each other. At active levels, psilocybin induces visionary ideation of spacecraft, alien creatures, and alien information. There is a general futuristic, science fiction quality to the psilocybin experience that seems to originate from the same place as the modern myth of the UFO.

 

~ A Conversation of Saucers. An Interview with Terence McKenna

from Revision  (1989). Reprinted in The Archaic Revival (1991).

 

Terence McKenna proposed that the transpersonal dimension of the Wholly Other that one can experience on psilocybin or DMT/ayahuasca, is in fact, the true Alien, and that Humanity was approaching an event-horizon where we were increasingly making contact with this ‘alien intelligence’ in the psychedelic realm of pure information. For Terence McKenna, the UFO – the shiny disc in the sky – is actually an object from the Human Unconscious, from ‘this murky region, beyond the end of history, beyond the end of life’ that is a premonition of the arrival of this singularity, the Eschaton, and the realization that the Alien was Us all along. A transformational event that – according to the Timewave software developed on Terence’s ideas – will occur in mid November 2012, or December 21st, 2012, if you prefer.

 

The saddest thing about this extraordinary prediction is that Terence will not get to see it; he died on April 3rd, 2000 of brain cancer. It is more than possible that we will never have a spokesman with quite the same connection to the Logos again; and there probably will never be another quite as original.

 

Dr. Rick Strassman: Aliens in the Lab?

 

As fantastical as many of Terence McKenna’s ideas may appear to be, it is interesting to note that many of his ideas regarding the similarities between the Alien Contact Experience and the Psilocybin/DMT experience actually replicated themselves when they were reproduced in a clinical environment during Dr. Rick Strassman’s human trials with DMT at the University of New Mexico in the early 1990’s.

 

I was not at all familiar with the alien abduction literature before beginning the DMT study. Neither were any of our volunteers. I knew almost nothing about it, and had little desire to learn more. It seemed much more “fringe” than even the study of psychedelic drugs! However, once we began hearing so many tales of entity encounters, I knew I could no longer plead ignorance to the larger phenomenon. Despite my better judgment, I now feel compelled to weigh in my opinion regarding the experience of contact with “alien-life forms.”


Let’s review the popularly reported “alien-abduction” experience. We will see the striking resemblance between these naturally occurring contacts and those reported in our DMT study. This remarkable overlap may ease our acceptance of my proposition that the alien abduction experience is made possible by excessive brain levels of DMT. This may occur spontaneously through any of the previously described conditions that activate pineal DMT formation. It also might take place when DMT levels rise from taking the drug on the outside, as in our studies.

 

~ Dr. Rick Strassman. DMT: The Spirit Molecule; A Doctor’s Revolutionary

Research Into the Biology of the near-Death and Mystical Experience.

 

DMT, Aliens, Elves, & Jungian ArchetypesStrassman goes on to list many fascinating similarities between his own volunteers reports of their clinical DMT experiences, and the accounts of the Alien Abduction experience as related in psychiatrist John Mack’s books Abduction and Passport to the Cosmos. They included:

 

1. Consciousness is disturbed by a bright light, humming sounds, strange bodily vibrations or paralysis. Many UFO abductees report a sense of high frequency vibrations, which may cause them to feel that they are coming apart at the molecular level.

 

2. Abductees find themselves on some type of examination or operating table.

 

3. Experiencers are absolutely under the aliens control. No matter how bizarre and unexpected the environment, there is no doubt in their minds that it is happening – it is ‘more real than real’.

 

4. Reports of rapid transferences of information (between the Alien and the Abductee). Aliens that communicate using a language of universal visual symbols rather that sounds or words.

 

5. Visions of energy-filled tunnels, and cylinders of light.

 

6. The collapse of space/time perception, a sense of entering other dimensions of reality or universes.

 

7. Along with reports of ‘typical’ (Hollywood) aliens, there were also reports of reptiles, mantises, spiders, and “human-alien” hybrids.

 

8. A message that the Earth is in danger.

 

9. Many abductees no longer feared death, knowing that their consciousness would survive the body’s death.

 

 

Nick Sand on Aliens

 

Nicholas Sand in As might be expected, not everyone agrees with the idea that DMT is responsible for alien contact! The following is a response to Dr Strassman’s commentary from the man who has arguably had more hands-on experience with DMT than probably anyone else, the former underground chemist (and the man who realized that DMT could be freebased) Nick Sand.

 

 

 

 

 

First off, DMT is not a re-run of the X-Files. There are no aliens squiggling through psychospace to do experiments on us. That idea is just plain silly. It is fine to wonder how these perceptions occur, but it’s another matter to jump to conclusions. Wouldn’t it make sense to first examine the environmental design rather than look to alien origins? Over and over, Strassman’s subjects describe being examined by numerous strange beings in highly technical environments during the visual phase of their DMT experience. They are being examined, discussed, measured, probed, and observed. They are in high-tech nurseries and alien laboratories. There are 3–4 people moving around operating machinery according to some design or agenda. Now lets look at what the physical surroundings are. These experiments are being done in a hospital room. There are a number of people in attendance, helping the one who is in charge, Dr. Strassman. He has an agenda and an experimental scientific viewpoint based on intellectual assumptions. There are people from NIDA, a government agency overseeing these experiments. They are labelled “Mr. V.” and “Mr. W. ” It seems clear to me that these individuals are the “aliens” represented in many of the experimental subjects’ trips. The elements of the experimental environment seem to be cropping up in the trip world that the subjects are experiencing. Why haven’t other environmental designs been considered?

 

~ Moving Into the Sacred World of DMT, by ∞Ayes (Nick Sand)

The Entheogenic Review, VOLUME  X,  NUMBER  1,  2001.

 

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DMT and the mystical/near-death experience

 

The NDE (near-death experience) may climax with a merging into an indescribably loving and powerful white light that emanates from the divine, holy, and sacred. This leads to a mystical or spiritual experience in which time and space lose all meaning. Those who undergo a NDE feel embraced by something much greater than themselves, or anything they previously could have imagined: the “source of all existence.” There’s a certainty that consciousness exists after death. Those who reach the mystical level of the NDE emerge with a greater appreciation of life, less fear of death, and a reorientation of their priorities to less material and more spiritual pursuits.

 

The sense of reality of what near-death experiencers see and feel is undeniably certain, and it’s common to hear expressions like “it was more real than real”. It is difficult for those “coming back” from and NDE to describe it: they often say it is “beyond language.

 

~ Dr. Rick Strassman. DMT: The Spirit Molecule; A Doctor’s Revolutionary

Research Into the Biology of the near-Death and Mystical Experience.

 

DMT and the Near-Death ExperienceWhile numerous commentators have pointed out the apparent similarities between high-dosage DMT experiences and the near-death experience (NDE), Dr. Rick Strassman was the first to suggest a biological reason why.

 

In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Strassman proposes the hypothesis that the pineal gland floods our brains with DMT when we die, and that this wave of DMT is the vehicle that allows our consciousness (or spirit) to leave the physical confines of the body. According to Dr Strassman’s hypothesis;

 

 

The consequence of this flood of DMT upon our dying brain-based mind is a pulling back of the veils normally hiding what Tibetan Buddhists call the bardo or intermediary states between this life and the next. DMT opens the inner senses to these betwixt states with their myriad visions, thoughts, sounds, and feelings. As the body becomes totally inert, consciousness has completely left the body and now exists as a field among many fields of manifest things. The spirit molecule has outlived its usefulness as a scout for these realms. It has led us to the other shore, and we are on our own

~ Dr. Rick Strassman

 

The Spirit MoleculeThe search for a biological explanation for both the near-death experience and the mystical state was the major goal for Dr. Strassman’s clinical DMT trials, and a small number of his volunteer subjects did in fact report experiences that were similar to ‘classical’ NDE or mystical experiences. The subsequent publication of DMT: The Spirit Molecule has created a great deal of discussion and pure speculation on this point; and while the fact that there is are entheogens endogenous to the human body that are capable of replicating the near-death experience should seem to be of obvious importance, it should be noted that to date there is still no proof that the pineal gland does in fact produce DMT – this is only Dr Strassman’s hypothesis. And Due to the draconian laws that virtually deny all research into these clearly important compounds, there is currently no ongoing research into DMT or 5-MeO-DMT.

 

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