The pineal gland has a romantic history, from pharaonic Egypt, where it was equated with the eye of Horus, through various religious traditions, where it was considered the seat of the soul, the third eye, etc. Recent incarnations of these notions have suggested that DMT is secreted by the pineal at birth, during dreaming, and at near death to produce out of body experiences. Scientific evidence, however, is not consistent with these ideas. The adult pineal gland weighs less than 0.2 grams, and its principal function is to produce 30 micrograms per day of melatonin, a hormone that regulates circadian rhythm through very high a nity interactions with melatonin receptors. Very minute concentrations of DMT have been detected in brain, but they are not sufficient to produce psychoactive effects. Alternative explanations will be presented to explain how stress and near death can produce altered states of consciousness without invoking DMT.