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“So long as the root of wickedness is hidden, it is strong. But when it is recognized, it is dissolved. When it is revealed, it perishes…. It is powerful because we have not recognized it.” – The Gospel of Phillip (Gnostic Text)

One of Phillip K. Dick’s most famous Gnostic theories was that of the Black Iron Prison (BIP), which he described as an invisible complex life form (organism) that was a criminal virus and self-perpetuating.

Its human representatives were the fake people and inauthentic human beings who were its unwitting slaves. They were the army for the Roman Empire, which he claimed never ended, they just went underground.

Think of the Black Iron Prison as a synonymous term to the Matrix to describe our world and the hidden realities which govern it as it exists today. Dick shares through his novels and his own personal story about being a prisoner trapped within it.

According to Dick, those people who do not believe in this world are the victims of its illusions and the people who believe in it are its victims.

Both are slaves but neither is free.

Both must endure its suffering without hope of release or reprieve, because there is no escape from this world.

We are all trapped – unable to break free from the hidden chains of our own enslavement because we have been conditioned to believe we live in freedom.

Dick writes, “We are in a kind of prison but do not know it. The Black Iron Prison is a vast complex life form (organism) which protects itself by inducing a negative hallucination of it.”

He says,  “The criminal virus controls by occluding (putting us in a sort of half sleep)…. The occlusion is self-perpetuating; it makes us unaware of it.”

As if this “living organism” is a immortal in that it perpetually self-generates until we manage to break its spell.

Dick writes, “the very occlusion itself prevents us from assessing, overcoming or ever being aware of the occlusion.”

This self generating organism has the ability to insert itself into our thoughts without us ever knowing it is there. A type of mind virus or parasite creating thought-disorder.

Dick says, “There is some kind of ubiquitous thinking dysfunction which goes unnoticed especially by the persons themselves, and this is the horrifying part of it: somehow the self-monitoring circuit in the person is fooled by the very dysfunction it is supposed to monitor.”

When we have fallen under its spell or its control, we are completely unaware and appear to be normal, but we often have the sense that we are no longer ourselves.

It’s as if we have been highjacked by something alien to ourselves as it exploits the hidden aspects that control our reality such as the neuro circuits of our brain, our gastrointestinal tracts, and our central nervous systems.

All the while, we are asleep to the fact that this organism that constitutes that Black Iron Prison has commandeered our very bodies and brains by exploiting the unconscious systems of our minds making us all its unwitting slaves.

It’s goal is to use us humans as its host to not only harvest our energy and our thoughts, which this living organism feeds upon, but to use its victims to control the planet making us a type of android or zombie slave for its cause.

Dick says that it warps us into micro-extensions of itself. This is why it and its slaves are so dangerous.

He writes; “This is the dread thing it does: extending its android thinking more and more extensively. It exerts a dreadful and subtle power, and more and more people fall into its field, by means of which it grows.”

In fact, Dick claims there is collusion between us and the Black Iron Prison and “we’re sources of psychic/psychological energy to it: we help power it.”

It is interesting that he describes that the more people who fall under its field, it makes humans a micro-extensions of itself by which it gains power and grows larger.

There are some key traits and human characteristics that he points out are signs that a person is no longer themselves and has fallen under the control of this organism that becomes a defacto prison guard for our souls.

For Dick, “Android or robot like thinking,” i.e., group-think or sheeple like behavior (with no creativity),” is one of the main qualities proving that the immune system and mind has been officially highjacked making us its slave.

He had said, “This is a sinister life form indeed. First it takes power over us, reducing us to slaves, and then it causes us to forget our former state, and be unable to see or to think straight, and not to know we can’t see or think straight, and finally it becomes invisible to us by reason of what it has done to us. We cannot even monitor our own deformity, our own impairment.”

Dick continues, “It is as if the immune system has failed to detect an invader, a pathogen (shades of William Burroughs: a criminal virus!). Yes, the human brain has been invaded, and once invaded, is occluded to the invasion and the damage resulting from the invasion; it has now become an instrument for the pathogen: it winds up serving as its slave, and thus the ‘heavy metal speck’ [i.e., the BIP] is replicated (spread through linear and lateral time, and through space).”

He says, “We may not be what we seem even to ourselves.

“A usurper is on the throne.”

A spiritual coup d’état upon its unwitting victim and even nations who become its unwitting puppets.

Dick rants;

“We’re a fucking goddam “Biosphere” ruled by an entity who—like a hypnotist—can make us not only quack like a duck on que, but imagine, to boot, that we wanted to quack.”

He describes the mind that has been captured as having a mental illness that is dead and becomes fossilized:

“This section died. It became fossilized, and merely repeats itself. This is scary; it is like mental illness: ‘one day nothing new ever entered his mind—and the last thought just recirculated endlessly.’ Thus death rules here…The BIP is the form of this death, its embodiment—of what is wrong, here.”


According to Dick, the Black Iron Prison was not just a living parasitical organism that could commandeer our minds and bodies to make us its puppets, it also had also managed to weave its filamental web into a totalitarian world government ruled by an elite consisting of powerful corporations and individuals who have enslaved most of humanity for thousands of years.

The Black Iron Prison was first coined by Dick in his 1974 essay “The Android and the Human” and was developed further in his novel VALIS (1981).

In 1974, he wrote about how our lives were controlled by technology:

“You know what I mean when I say that we have become slaves to machines? We look at them as our masters, but they are more than that: they are our gods.”

In Dick’s novel VALIS, the protagonist experiences a series of events that lead him to believe that he has been trapped in an alternate reality created by an entity known as VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System).

He later learns from VALIS itself that his perceptions are accurate — that he has indeed been imprisoned inside what appears to be our own universe but is actually a simulation created by a higher intelligence for unknown purposes.

VALIS told him that the world was in fact a kind of prison for humanity, with its population divided into four classes: slaves (who work), soldiers (who protect), priests (who control) and rulers (who decide).

The rulers live in opulence while everyone else lives in squalor. They send out light signals to keep their subjects docile so they won’t revolt against their oppression.

It is referred to as “the Empire”, with its emblem being an eagle holding lightning bolts in its claws.

He says that humans are unable to comprehend the universe because they are trapped inside their own minds, which he calls “a kind of straitjacket or force field.”

In his novel VALIS, where Phil’s alter ego Horselover Fat (known as Phil) has an encounter with God who shows him visions from his own past life.

These visions show Phil how his present life and reality are actually an illusion created by an evil demiurge that wants to keep humans enslaved by their own ignorance and fear.

This demiurge creates a world that appears real but isn’t real at all – it’s just another form of control over us.

Philip K. Dick wrote;

“Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison, but set in the far future.

So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant.

Everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it.”

In an interview with Laura Huxley in 1974 he said: “The Empire (Roman) never ended”; we are living in a kind of continuation of the worst of the Roman Empire, a Black Iron Prison.

In other interviews, he described an oppressive society where people were controlled by machines. He believed that technological advances had created huge corporations which were run for profit rather than for people’s benefit. This made it difficult for ordinary people to make their voices heard when things went wrong.

The History of the Black Iron Prison

The Black Iron Prison is a concept that has been around for quite some time and has been used by many different people throughout history to describe different aspects of the human condition.

For example, there is the ancient concept of the archons, who are deities or evil spirits in Gnosticism, who rule the material world. They are called “archons” because they have dominion over us. They rule over us, they control our lives, they keep us ignorant, and they prevent access to the divine knowledge that is within all of us.

The term archon is derived from the ancient Greek ἄρχων (arkhōn), a ruler, leader, chief (cf. Latin rēx “king”). The word was used to refer to political leaders or governors in general in Ancient Greece.

Like Dick, the Gnostics believed that we could escape from their prison by overcoming these archons through secret knowledge or Gnosis revealed by Jesus Christ or other enlightened beings.

In the New Testament, God’s enemies, who are called principalities and powers when the Apostle Paul in his epistles uses “archon” in a transcendental context (Ephesians 2:2 and Colossians 2:15 are two examples).

Paul alludes to the Black Iron Prison when he describes his world as one filled with suffering and pain, saying that we are all “in bondage to decay.” (Romans 8:19) and that we are “prisoners of hope” (Romans 8:24).

In Buddhism there is a similar idea known as samsara, or reincarnation. The Buddha taught that we are trapped in an endless cycle of suffering because we cling to false ideas about reality.

George Gurdjieff once said, “Before you can escape from prison, you must first realize that you are in prison”.

In modern times, we have the infamous radio show host Alex Jones with his “Prison Planet” and the war for your mind, Info Wars.

How do we escape the Black Iron Prison?

According to Phillip K. Dick, “To see it is to see the ailment, the complex which warps all other thoughts to it.”

He claims that when “we begin to see what formerly was concealed to us, or from us, and the shock is great, since we have, all our lives, been trading (doing business) with evil.”

Dick believed that lies and anything fake or false was how this living organism was using its slaves – inauthentic humans to carry out its mission in creating fictitious realities to keep us distracted from the true evil that lurks beneath our skin and all around us.

Dick wrote; “the bombardment of pseudorealities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly [in his words ‘spurious humans’]. He says, “it has grown vine-like into our information media; it is an information life form.”

He continues, “Fake realities will produce fake humans. Or, fake humans will produce fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves.”

He compares this to the figure of Satan, who is “the liar.”

Dick believed that an authentic human, “cannot be compelled to be what they are not.” He elaborates, “The power of spurious realities battering at us today—these deliberately manufactured fakes never penetrate to the heart of true human beings.”

Did Phillip K. Dick Escape the Black Iron Prison?

For Phillip K. Dick, the Black Iron Prison is eternal and ubiquitous. It has been around for thousands of years, and it will be around for thousands more.

It is the controlling force behind all governments, religions, and systems of authority on Earth. The Black Iron Prison is a system designed to keep us from knowing our true nature as divine beings who can create our own reality through thought.

The reason why we don’t know about this system is that it operates on an unconscious level — it’s designed to work below our conscious perception so that we don’t notice it operating in our lives.

One of its prisoners was Phillip K. Dick.

A man whose mind will be forever known as one of the best science fiction writers who ever lived.

However, while in prison, his body in chains suffered from his eternal incarceration with a dangerous drug addiction, depression, and schizophrenia. After several neurological problems during the 1970s that resulted in brief hospitalizations, Dick began experiencing extreme paranoia and hallucinations.

He suffered from a heart attack in 1976, which led him to believe that his life would soon end; as such, he instructed his wife not to revive him after death if there were any problems with resuscitation attempts on him later down the line.

In 1982, Dick was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California home, having suffered a stroke. On February 25, 1982, he suffered another stroke in the hospital, which led to brain death.

At only age 53 on March 2, 1982, Philip’s family pulled the plug on the Black Iron Prison and disconnected him from life support.

He died four months before the release of Blade Runner, the film based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

In the end, Dick decided to make his final escape from the Empire or did he?

Was it Dick who pulled the plug on his brain via stroke or the very Black Iron Prison sending one last shock to take him out for his METH addiction that plagued him all his life.

A kind of crypto death penalty for transgressions against the unseen.

I will leave you with one of his prophetic quotes to ponder if he was a genius, Gnostic, madman, or all of the above.

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore.

Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.” (Philip K. Dick)

In typical Dicktopian prophetic fashion, he was right…

One thing is for sure, the Black Iron Prison certainly likes its Gnostic prophets.

No matter how mad the unauthentic world may think they are.


Solar Lottery, 1955.
A Handful of Darkness (short stories), 1955.
The World Jones Made, 1956.
The Man Who Japed, 1956.
Eye in the Sky, 1957.
The Cosmic Puppets, 1957.
The Variable Man (5 short novels), 1957.
Time Out of Joint, 1959.
Dr. Futurity, 1960.
Vulcan’s Hammer, 1960.
The Man in the High Castle, 1962.
The Game-Players of Titan, 1963.
Martian Time-Slip, 1964.
The Simulacra, 1964.
Clans of the Alplhane Moon, 1964.
The Penultimate Truth, 1964.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, 1965.
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got A long after the Bomb, 1965.
Now Wait for Last Year, 1966.
The Crack in Space, 1966.
The Unteleported Man, 1966.
Counter-Clock World, 1967.
The Zap Gun, 1967.
The Ganymede Takeover (with Ray Nelson), 1967.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968.
The Preserving Machine (short stories), 1969.
Galactic Pot-Healer, 1969.
Ubik, 1969.
Our Friends from Frolix 8, 1970.
A Maze of Death, 1971.
We Can Build You, 1972.
The Book of Philip K. Dick (short stories), 1973.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, 1974.
Confessions of a Crap Artist, 1975.
A Scanner Darkly, forthcoming.
Deus Irae (with Roger Zelazny), forthcoming.

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