TikTok Users Are Escaping Reality By "Shifting" into the Harry Potter Universe
Ever want to enter a completely different reality?
According to a new Internet phenomenon (that actually has roots in spirituality and quantum physics), you can — quite literally, and tonight, if you set your mind to it.
"Shifting" is a practice that has grown popular in subsections of TikTok, Reddit, and YouTube. It's about"moving your consciousness into other realities," as one user puts it.
In essence, shifting is a way to get to an alternate universe that seems as real as our own. The specifics of which alternate universe are up to you.
Many Internet shifters have chosen to insert themselves into Hogwarts, My Hero Academia, Avatar, or any number of other popular fictional realms. One of the more popular alternate realities involves carousing with Draco Malfoy.
Yes, Malfoy, the blonde Slytherin of Harry Potter infamy. The Internet is currently overflowing with stories about teenagers projecting themselves into the role of Draco's girlfriend or secret ex. Scroll through the viral hashtag #DracoTok and you'll almost immediately find videos about teenagers who "shifted" themselves right into Draco's pale, velvet-robed arms.
As someone who was obsessed with imagining fictional scenarios involving Draco Malfoy as a preteen, and who also has long been interested in reality-jumping and the idea that our current reality is just one dream in an interlocking web of dreams, it almost feels like I dreamed (or shifted?) this Draco-loving, reality-shifting trend into being.
I had to learn more. For the sake of journalism, I had to try it myself.
What Is Shifting?
The first thing you need to know about shifting is that it involves three Rs, and I don't mean reduce, reuse, recycling. These are your CR, your WR, and your DR.
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The first, the CR, is your "current reality." This is the reality where you have to go to online classes, read hate speech every day online, and deal with all manner of death, chaos, illness, or whatever else is on your mind.
Naturally, humans have always longed to escape our "CRs," and since the days of telling stories around the campfire, we've been inventing alternate realities and altered states to escape (or explain) the tribulations of daily reality. Shifting just takes things to another level.
The goal of shifting is moving out of your CR. This process begins with awareness — in this case, awareness that your current reality is not all there is.
Some background: Most shifters believe in a multiverse and in the idea that each time we think of something new or make a choice, an alternate reality in which we did not make that choice branches out into the ether.
"Every time we complete an action, whether voluntarily or not, we open up another reality where we didn't take that action, or we didn't take that breath," YouTuber Kristeau explains. "There are infinite realities among our own," and "any thought that you've ever thought has become a reality by itself."
Shift Realities: (CLONES, SUBLIMINALS, WAITING ROOMS + MORE)www.youtube.com
By becoming conscious of these other realities that could have been (and therefore do exist elsewhere [or something like that? A little more concrete?] ), shifters say we can then make moves to upgrade our current realities to a state that will allow us to shift. This "upgraded version" of reality that is not yet your desired reality is known as the "waiting room" (the "WR").
Once you've entered your waiting room, you're capable of successfully shifting into your desired reality. "In your desired reality, you can change or alter any aspect of your life," Kristeau continues.
If it sounds insane or impossible, you're not alone in thinking that. But "shifting isn't rocket science," explains Kristeau. "Anyone can do it. We're actually shifting dozens of times in every moment that we're alive, and most of us don't even realize it. Every breath we take is shifting. Every time we blink, we're shifting." Well, when you put it that way…
How to Shift
I decided to shift the night after I wrote the first draft of this article. It turns out there are many different ways to shift — perhaps infinite ways, which makes sense given the whole infinite realities idea. Most shifters agree that, really, there is no one way to shift; and for some people, just believing that you can shift is enough.
For those of us who might need a little more direction, there are some common techniques. First off, if you're new to shifting, you're advised to try it as you're falling asleep. (Apparently, expert shifters can shift in their waking lives, initiating instant dissociation with the ease of slipping into an ordinary mental fantasy).
One common technique involves writing out a "script." To do this, you write out all the characteristics of your DR (desired reality)— everything you want to see and know about it — and right before you go to bed, you look at images of your DR, reread what you wrote about your DR a few times, and repeat affirmations as you fall asleep.
Another method, called the "Alice in Wonderland" technique, involves visualizing someone from your DR running past you and guiding you down a rabbit hole into Hogwarts or wherever you wish to go.
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The most popular shifting method is called the "Raven Method." This involves lying on your back with your limbs splayed out in a starfish position (it's important that none of them are touching); and while lying there, you repeat affirmations to yourself in your head.
Affirmations are like mantras, and they might include the phrase "I am shifting," or they might be specific statements about your DR. You are then supposed to count down from 100 to zero. After you've done this, you start visualizing what you'd like to be doing in your DR. If all goes well, you'll wind up in your DR.
I tried this. It did not work. All that happened was that I became extremely aware that my foot was hurting. At one point, my phone fell off my bed. I tried counting back from 100 twice — nothing.
Something about the whole process triggered my insomnia, and I couldn't fall asleep for more than two hours or maybe more. I ended up watching TikToks.
Some people apparently find shifting much, much easier. Ashley Vasque, a high school junior from New Jersey, says the first time she shifted, she was 13, and it was a complete accident. "I was obsessed with Harry Potter at that point. All of the sudden I felt extremely weird. I woke up, and I swear on my life that I felt like I was at Hogwarts," she said. "It was the craziest feeling."
After doing some research on shifting, Vasque began to practice the technique. Now, she has a tried and true method. "You first lay down in any position that you find comfortable. As you're laying down you close your eyes and visualize your soul," she said, clarifying that you can picture your soul in any form; she sees her soul as an orb.
"As you visualize it, you are going to see a tunnel, a very long tunnel, and then that orb is essentially going into the tunnel," she says. Once she arrives at the end of the tunnel, she imagines her chosen destination — which, in her case, is usually the Slytherin common room. She imagines herself in a bed there and pictures her floating orb-soul sliding into her Hogwarts-universe body. And then she arrives.
The Truth About Shifting
I'll be honest: I'm quite skeptical of shifting and whether it's actually possible (maybe that's what's holding me back from doing it, but…). Regardless, I don't think it will ever be possible for me.
Even though I love the idea of fantasy worlds and alternate realities, when it comes down to the wire, I'm actually a hyper-realist. Plus, I always have trouble even making the transition from sleeping to waking. When it comes down to it, how could I expect to actually jump to another world?
Of course, TikTok's shifting advisory community would say that there is a reality where I can easily shift. I just need to find that reality.
Let's say shifting is real and shifters really are doing it all the time, spending eight-month stretches in Hogwarts or meeting the ghosts of their family in parallel universes. Could this just be a super-advanced form of lucid dreaming?
Most shifters will tell you that shifting is not just lucid dreaming, though it's similar. While lucid dreams are usually cloudy and vague no matter what, when you shift you're supposed to be completely conscious and truly present in your DR. Apparently, when you enter your desired reality, it's like you're actually there. You can feel and touch and smell everything. You know you've shifted out of your home universe, but you can't control the narrative or alter the rules of your new reality as you sometimes can in lucid dreams. Instead, life just happens around you, as it tends to do.
It's worth noting here that shifting bears some similarities to dissociative disorders like dissociative identity disorder and depersonalization-derealization disorder. These illnesses, which often arise as defense mechanisms against past traumas, can involve experiences that seem remarkably similar to shifting; people who suffer from them might detach from reality and slip into alter egos, flashbacks, or derealization (feeling like you're in a dream). Shifting also bears resemblance to experiences of psychosis that can be symptomatic of illnesses like schizophrenia.
Many shifters will say their practice is completely unrelated because it involves voluntarily moving to another reality of their choice. But still, shifting's resemblance to dissociation and other mental illnesses raises questions about its safety and whether or not it might be capitalizing on or related to symptoms of mental illness.
There are few to no studies on the psychological significance of shifting. According to one therapist, Grace Warwick, shifting can be categorized as a "transliminal experience," which is quite different from lucid dreams and dissociation.
These experiences "occur when awake and are most common when the mind is in a soothed state — for example, upon waking and before falling asleep," she explains. "The 'instructions' [for shifting] that abound on social media include being half asleep as a start point. They then introduce repetitive music [or] counting backwards slowly," she says. "All these factors would induce a state conducive to a transliminal experience. An interesting aspect of the techniques is the central part that a prepared 'script' plays — I would liken the role of the script to creating a guided meditation or working with active imagination."
Dr. Susan Martinez-Conde, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, believes that shifting is a new way of using the imagination. "Reading the [Harry Potter] books, we can see these characters in front of us and we can get scared when Voldemort does something evil. We can have these emotions and feelings. We can taste foods that the characters are tasting and hear sounds that they are hearing." Martinez-Conde said. "And we can do that just by the immersive experience that it is to read a book and will not feel the chair we're sitting on because we are immersed in this alternate reality the book offers."
Shifting is just like losing yourself in the events of a book, except elevated to new heights. "If we can experience that just by reading a book, why not while experiencing your own screen, your own book that you're basically writing in your head?" she said. Maybe shifting is just imagination-powered VR.
Another argument posits that at its simplest essence shifting is a particularly powerful form of manifestation. Manifestation (which is in essence the great "secret" of The Secret franchise) is the concept that whatever you think about grows.
By manifestation logic, whatever you put your attention on becomes your reality, so naturally if you're obsessively thinking about negative things, then you'll draw those things to you, and vice versa. When you shift, the idea is that you set your mind upon reaching a different reality, and then you literally are able to go there, spontaneously manifesting it.
Dangers of Shifting
So, after reading this, are you planning on trying to shift?
If you are, remember that messing with reality is never a totally safe bet. Many shifters will quickly remind you that you should never shift without knowing where you want to go, otherwise you could fall into a reality that is disturbing or dangerous to you. In a world where traumas abound and nightmares often unveil alien evils within us, it makes sense that shifting could, too.
While you cannot be harmed or truly traumatized in your CR no matter what happens in your DR, and while you should always be able to easily return to your reality, you should always have a code word that will help snap you out of your DR in case you fall too far into it.
Yet the truest dangers of shifting are, of course, located in the CR. An app called Amino was blacklisted in the wider shifting community when it became toxic (shocking, something on the Internet became toxic).
Apparently, in a very Black Mirror-esque twist, some users began advising people to commit suicide in order to shift. For a while, Amino was locked, and today you have to put in a request to join their primary shifting forum.
As with anything in this realm, conspiracy theories about shifting and its powers abound. Some shifters say that shifting was actually a tactic invented by the CIA through their "Gateway Experience" program. This military program was, in essence, a process whereby the CIA attempted to teach people to harness their electromagnetic fields through a special kind of meditation.
This was supposed to enable them to control their brain waves, to transcend their consciousness, and ultimately to escape the confines of time and space. Using quantum and theoretical physics and brain wave entreatment, the process would apparently lure people into a state between waking and sleeping — the very same state in which "shifting" is said to be possible. The process included a (gasp) affirmations, visualizations, and protective measures.
According to Army Commander Wayne McDonnell, who proposed what would become the Gateway Experience, "Our universe is one large hologram of unbelievable complexity. This hologram consists of interacting energy fields in motion and at rest, as well as all phases of time, past, present and future." If all phases of time exist in one large hologram composed of energy waves, doesn't it make sense that with a little training we could simply switch to the next tab?
Most shifters will tell you that shifting has absolutely nothing to do with the CIA's consciousness experiments. But I've seen a few videos that claim connections, and even more videos say that previous videso concerning the overlap between the Gateway project and shifting have been "taken down."
Still, even if it has no connection to any CIA endeavors, shifting raises interesting questions.
For example, scientists were recently able to make contact with lucid dreamers; could they do the same for shifters? Does this mean we can communicate in between dimensions? Could we communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences or people in the past and future?
And if we're capable of shifting into Hogwarts, why not shift into other realities? One thing that differentiates shifting from religious and philosophical traditions of the past is the fact that shifters often seem to want to go into fantasy worlds — worlds that are frequently violent, chaotic, or otherwise not quite ideal. (Some shifters have even tried to go into the world of The Hunger Games).
And one last burning question: Why Draco?
Shifting to Hogwarts
One of the interesting things about shifting is that, right now, it's such a youthful phenomenon. This is not the life's work of a monk; it's about kids trying to shift into their desired fantasy worlds.
It is intriguing to me that Hogwarts is the destination of choice for so many shifters. Through the years, sniveling sadboy Draco Malfoy has continued to maintain his chokehold on the youthful libido, and now people are trying to literally shift into worlds where they can be with him.
HOW I SHIFTED TO HOGWARTSwww.youtube.com
What is it about Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter that is so alluring? Well, of course we love Draco; he's the ultimate misunderstood gorgeous blonde proto-emo bad boy, the Zuko of the Harry Potter-verse, and what do preteen girls love more than loving people who can never love them? (I still love you, Draco. Some things never die).
Hogwarts, in general, does feel like a kid's escapist fantasy haven — it is for one kid, in particular: Harry Potter,who begins as a lonely kid under the stairs in his abusive family's house.
There's a conspiracy theory that says Harry imagined or hallucinated all of Hogwarts — that it was a kind of alternate reality he invented as he went mad in his bedroom under the stairs. In this alternate reality, he was literally the Chosen One. He was able to avenge his parents, find glory, and become powerful beyond measure.
One has to wonder, perhaps Harry was actually shifting, imagining himself at a Hogwarts so vivid that he was able to find a door between his world to the magical one. By the logic of shifting, that Hogwarts — in Harry's head, or in J.K. Rowling's, or in ours — is just as real as our own.
Thinking about all this, I realized that even though I can't actually shift, in some ways I've always been shifting. I have just always done it through writing.
I've always written stories, since I learned how to write (before that I would think about them and imagine myself inside of them). Even as a child, whenever I wrote these stories, I'd fall into them so deeply that they seemed real, and it seemed they were writing themselves through me — happening naturally.
Maybe I'll never actually shift, but I can shift in an instant on the page. And there's a comfort to the logic of shifting and to the idea that these fantasy worlds we love might be real, if only off in some other dimension, and that we could go there, or open doors so others could go there.
Reality may be a cupboard under the stairs. There may be no way out of this reality, no reason why we exist, and only pure chaos dictating what happens to us.
But, perhaps to cope with this reality, we humans tell stories. We use those stories to create worlds, and we build cults around those worlds and pass on legends of those worlds, and maybe sometimes we even shift to those worlds.