Psychedelic experience induced by flickering light- LUCIA N°03

Johanna Kemmerer

is a psychologist (M.Sc.), nurse for psychiatric care, and a member of the MIND foundation.

Edited by
Jennifer Them
Lucca Jaeckel

Published November 2018

Header photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

“Everything that helps us progress could be a good thing to do, even if it scares us at first: as does everything, that’s big and new”  

–  Engelbert Winkler1 

There are many ways to alter your consciousness and encounter a psychedelic experience. Ways besides psychedelic substances are for example deep meditation, breathing techniques, music, ecstatic dancing or flickering light – to mention just a few. 

We as MIND provide experimental workshops and self-experiences in which altered states can be explored, legally and safe. In our first experimental offer we use the induction of altered states with flickering light. The light device we use is the Lucia N°03, which is a combination of stroboscope and halogen light bulbs that can induce a hypnagogic experience, an altered state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. The effect of Lucia N°03 can also be described as Flicker Induced Hallucination (FIH). In 1819 the physiologist Purkinje2 was one of the first who scientifically described this effect which he induced by facing the sunlight with closed eyes and making shadows with his hands. In 1963 the Neurophysiologist W.G. Walter3 described this phenomenon in a scientific way after stumbling upon it during a diagnostic session for epilepsy. His patients described patterns and colours appearing in front of their closed eyes3. Based on his findings the poet and painter Brian Gysin invented the Dream Machine in the 60s as Meulen, Tavy and Jacobs described in 20094. 

In 2009 psychologist and psychotherapist Engelbert Winkler and psychologist and neurologist Dirk Proeckl invented the Lucia light, based on findings from research into near-death experiences and hypnotherapy and their use of stroboscopes and halogenic light in their practices5. Since then it is used by artists, in wellness facilitations, and by therapists to mention just a few. 

In March, MIND started to offer the light experience to everybody who is interested. Lying on a massage chair, with their favourite music playing in the background, those interested are safely guided through the experience by one of our ‘Light Attendants’. Lying comfortably with the eyes closed, the psychedelic experience begins as soon as the light turns on. Each session begins with a two and a five-minute-long demo-session with different intensity after which the light traveller decides what program the Light Attendant will pick as there is a large variety in programs. Every session with the Lucia light is highly individual and depending on the person and also on the whole set – the mood, the attentiveness and the playfulness, curiosity and openness to the experience. What the experiences with the Lucia light usually have in common is an intensity, which is hard to put into words, however some tried.  

Here are some user remarks (translated by the author from German into English):  

I saw my favourite colour, super intense and it came in a pattern which reminded me of my mother’s sewing machine. I feel like I want to be in a sewing factory and tailor clothes with all those beautiful patterns.”1 

“I felt like I was dreaming or sleeping, I’m not sure I was awake the whole time. But I can remember beautiful patterns moving towards me, three-dimensional and it felt like I could see 180°. I feel very calm now.”1 

“What is it good for? Well, to hold up with the beauty in life, what else?”1

For more information and for booking requests please contact to our Light Attendants:

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References:

1. Winkler EJ. Streben nach Sein – das Sonnenspiel: Die Entwicklung des heliotropen Atmens für Therapie, Selbsterfahrung und Psychonautik.  Santler H, editor. Textmaker; 2016.

2. Purkinje J. Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Sehens in subjectiver Hinsicht [Internet]. Prague: Vetterl; 1819. 176 p. Available from: http://echo.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/MPIWG:DFKXMEUG

3. Walter WG. Das Lebende Gehin – Entwicklung und Funktion. München/Zürich: Knaur; 1963. 246 p.

4. ter Meulen BC, Tavy D, Jacobs BC. From Stroboscope to Dream Machine: A History of Flicker-Induced Hallucinations. European Neurology. 2009;62(5):316–20.

5. Light Attendance GmbH. Statement zur Wirksamkeit von Lucia N°03. [Internet]. 2015. Available from: http://www.gesund-im-licht.at/downloads/2015%20Statement%20zur%20Wirksamkeit%20Lucia%20N03%2020150823%20engl%20dt%20www.pdf