I have sex and drugs mixed up in my head. I’m not sure exactly how it happened. My erotic imagination was always very vivid, even when I was a little kid, but I rarely actually fantasized about the conjunction of body parts as such. From the dog-eared pages in my grandma’s romance novels, I learned that sex was a telepathic communion that delivered its celebrants into all-consuming ecstasies and bound their souls together for eternity. I was always more turned on by the pseudo-mystical descriptions of the effect than I was by the biological details, which mostly confused and disgusted me. As an eleven-year-old, I would have preferred to eat a live worm than to get boy spit in my mouth (Ewww!). I can remember jilling off to the psychedelic sequences in Dune when I was in like 4th or 5th grade, though, and as an adult I flip through trip reports the way some people surf for porn.
Sex and psychedelics have a lot in common. Both can be sacred, heart-opening, and life-affirming in some contexts, and both can also be cheap, dirty, and dangerous when they come from a sketchy source or you don’t put enough love into your practice. Both are boundary-defying experiences that challenge the distinctions that most of us draw between pleasure and pain, body and soul, and even self and other. I’ve always said that to be allowed to share in or observe a psychedelic session is an honor no less profound than that accorded to a lover. This is true even if, as is often the case with lovers, the atmosphere of the experiment is predominantly fun and casual. To trip with someone is an act of trust. It means that you are willing to be physically, psychologically, and possibly spiritually vulnerable in that person’s presence. I was attacked by a boyfriend when we were both on acid once, and it was probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. We did finally manage to get on top of the situation, but the aftermath involved a visit to the emergency room. Not fun. Another time I had a “shaman” try to put the moves on me during an ayahuasca session, which could have been traumatic if I’d been in a slightly different mental space. Even leaving aside for the moment the specter of violence or unwanted advances, one never knows what one might say or do whilst under the influence of a strong psychedelic, and it’s always possible that you’ll overshare or make a spectacle of yourself. Or you might end up with one of those so-called buddies who thinks it’s funny to fuck with people’s heads. Being toyed with on psychedelics is not necessarily a bad thing if you share your tricksy co-pilot’s sense of humor, just like sex games can be fun if you share a kink. Not so amusing when you find out about someone’s little games after it’s too late to consent, though. Also some drugs are kind of telepathic, at least in my experience, and I’m as picky about who I let into my head as I am about who I let into my bed.
Sex and drugs both imply a certain amount of risk, and combining them can compound that risk. Some drugs can negatively modify your judgment checks, and there is potential for both tragic flukes and intentional abuse. Alcohol, for instance, can be a terrific social lubricant in moderation. I know a lot of women who have occasionally used it to anaesthetize themselves into doing sexual things that they felt funny about, though. Worse, some people (mostly men) intentionally use drugs or alcohol to attempt to soften the resistance of potential partners or victims. My rule for myself when I was single was to never make decisions about sex whilst under the influence of anything. If a situation looked like it had that kind of potential energy, I decided beforehand how far I’d be willing to go if the opportunity came up, so to speak; and then I’d make myself stick to my guns, even if it meant passing up a temptation to have a real good time. It’s better to regret the one that got away than it is to regret the one that beat you up, gave you cooties, got you pregnant, and broke your heart. Believe me. Impaired judgment has also been known to lead to occasional breaches in the prophylactic protocol and so forth. If you don’t do the safe thing when you’re high, then sex and drugs don’t mix for you.
The emotional dangers inherent in High Romance are another matter worth considering. I know a guy who got engaged to his ex-girlfriend whilst under the influence of six or seven different chemicals. He was going for the Psychedelic Decathlon patch, which means that he was trying to get ten mind-altering substances active in his system at the same time and then (any asshole can take ten drugs) he was supposed to try to name all ten in the order that he took them without skipping or repeating anything. It’s stupid. Don’t do it. You could end up dead. Or you could end up engaged to your ex-girlfriend, which in this particular guy’s case took several years to sort out. I also knew a couple who had sworn a vow to take Ecstasy any time they felt like breaking up and they just kept on getting back together until their friends eventually had to stage an intervention. Well-run empathogenic therapy sessions for couples can be powerful and effective, but if good medicine is poorly applied and a serious illness is treated superficially, it will only break out all the worse later on. The risk of falling in love with the wrong person is never higher than when your boundaries are unusually diffuse and you feel simultaneously vulnerable, inspired, empathic, super-sensitized to beauty, and caught up in the subtle machineries of a mythic fate. Apparently flooding your brain with enormous quantities of hormones like oxytocin is kind of like hitting yourself upside the head with a huge gunnysack full of The Dust of Broken Hearts that the brownies in the fantasy movie Willow had. In other words, drugs like Ecstasy can transform you into the proverbial duck in a barrel, as far as Cupid is concerned. I really don’t think that there’s such a thing as “fake love”. I think love is partly a resonance effect, and psychedelics and empathogens can help people tune into identical, harmonic, or consonant frequencies, thus amplifying all of the signals involved. There’s nothing fake about it. It’s just that you might not be a near enough match to just fall into resonance when you don’t have super tuning powers turned on and all of your normal inhibitions are in place. Everything that happens can seem pregnant with import when you’re high, and maybe in some sense everything that happens is indeed that upon which the fate of worlds depends, but after you get a lot of experience under your cape you start to be able to really tell the difference between a meaningful connection that happened to be made on drugs and a potent but ephemeral moment in the woods that deserves to be properly cherished and released before moving on. [...]
I could write a whole book about my experiences with psychedelics and polyamory. In fact, I’m working on one. For now, I’ll just say that empathogens, particularly Ecstasy, really helped me open to the possibility that I could love more than one person at a time. It also helped me to access my love for other women. I’m not necessarily talking about sex here, which isn’t particularly facilitated by MDMA in my experience; but I am talking about a sort of romantic love where you see a person for who they truly are and it’s so beautiful that you want to write sappy poetry about how awesome it makes you feel just to be around them and stuff. I never really had that for a female until I started taking Ecstasy with other women in my thirties. I’m sure they’ve always been mysterious and compelling creatures worthy of awe and adoration. At least the boys around me have always seemed to think so. But for some reason I was always a little bit afraid of girls, and so I guess I was kind of blind in that spectrum until I got my third eye squeegeed a few times. Which is emphatically not to say that I think taking Ecstasy or psychedelics can fuck up your pair bonding and sexual orientation software. Drugs can’t make you gay.(Or straight!)I do think that they allow more people to experience latent aspects of their personality without judgment, though, and I do think that under some circumstances empathogens can trigger deep heart-opening experiences between friends. This kind of experience is a regular part of the social fabric in, say, the ecstatic dance community, and it’s interesting to see the effect that it’s had on that subculture’s openness to alternative lifestyles. One of the science fiction stories that I want to get around to writing someday explores what might have happened if someone with a time machine brought a huge amount of Ecstasy back to 1967. Think about it. They didn’t have Ecstasy in the Summer of Love. Not at all. It didn’t exist as a social drug yet. Maybe that was exactly the one last nudge they needed, you know? Of course it’s possible that it might backfire somehow and destroy the fabric of space and time, but every worthwhile enterprise involves a certain amount of risk.
As far as what drugs mix well with erotic exercise, tastes range all over the map. I don’t really know much about psycho-erotic chemistry myself, so I asked my friends what drugs they use to enhance their sex lives, and I and got a wide variety of responses, mostly discouraging. The Pill is an obvious one, but its effects are more relevant to social politics than they are to the flavor of the sexual experience itself. Alcohol, as mentioned, has a well-deserved reputation as a sexual disinhibitor, even though it’s actually a depressant rather than an true aphrodisiac. Pot turns some people on, but other people say that it takes them right out of their bodies and shoves them up inside of their heads where they bounce around in a paranoid stupor for a few hours. So that one strikes me as kind of a crap shoot, or at least as a matter of rather finicky personal chemistry. Amyl nitrite, or “poppers”, apparently relax the sphincters around the anus and give users a sort of huffy head rush at the same time; some of my gay friends have tried it once or twice to amusing effect. They don’t recommend it for casual encounters, though, because it can lead to bad judgment calls. Apparently it can also leave users with one hell of a headache, at least if my single reporting source is typical. MDMA, as I mentioned, is awesome for loving people up, but if you manage to remember what you’re trying to do for long enough to actually get down to business, you may find that you’re thwarted by the old amphetamine shrivel. It’s sometimes possible to beat this with Cialis or something, but then you’re swallowing the spider to catch the fly. Everything that can possibly be marketed as a love drug, even by the remotest stretch of the inflamed imagination, has been trumpeted as the next sexual revolution in pill form at one time or another, and so far nothing seems to have really stuck to the wall. A few grudgingly accepted good tries have managed to garner enough cultural cachet to remain widely available, but nobody I know seems to be very into using them all that often, which leads me to believe that most of what’s out there must be either ineffective, hard to get, or burdened with unwanted side effects. More the pity. Someday we’ll have better drugs, I promise.
I like to have sex on hard psychedelics, myself, but I don’t recommend it unless you have a partner that you know and trust very, very well, indeed. Sex and psychedelics each bring up primal energies and latent personality complexes. Mixing them can release some big juju. Sex and drugs have both been known to auto-boot the bonding and imprinting programs, for instance. On the other hand I’ve got to say that in my personal experience, really diving into the Vortex with someone who I love is kind of the best thing ever. So much so, that in my own case I have to take care not to fetishize it. I likes me a little chocolate spice and all, but I wouldn’t want to let it ruin my taste for vanilla. The first time that I ever had sex also happened to be the very first time I ever took mushrooms, and I was relieved and delighted to discover that against all of my cynical expectations, intercourse actually did live up to the hype after all. I felt that I was somehow telepathic with my partner and also with the masculine principle as some sort of a godform that moved inside of him even as a tidal wave of alien beauty poured through my awestruck soul. In the end, I basically turned into an ecstatic ball of living fire endlessly orgasming into the enfolding Void. Or something else equally indescribable. It was like an actual literalization of all that euphemistic New Age softcore I grew up on. The downshot of which is that I was pretty disappointed when I found out that it wasn’t always like that. Not that I could really handle a steady diet of that sort of thing. I’m pretty much satisfied with the frequency with which I can cajole one or the other of my lovers into at least being the Faerie’s special sitter. And I’ve taken to keeping a pair of those magic flashing strobe light glasses in my grown-up toy box, which I can’t recommend enough if you happen to share my proclivities.
PIHKAL and TIHKAL relate that one of the ways Sasha and Ann Shulgin would test their brand new baby compounds was to try to make love on them and see what happened. It’s a good way to tell if a substance is in harmony with the body’s natural energies, and it also sheds some light on the various effects that the new drug might be having on the system as a whole. I wish more people would write thoughtful trip reports about sexual synergies, and not just because it amuses me in a special way to read that kind of thing. I think most people feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual practices. I’m feeling kind of overexposed right now myself, but I think dismantling the social barriers that prevent us from talking meaningfully about our most profound and intimate experiences is totally on mission. If we’re ever going to have an open-minded dialogue about psychedelics, we’ve first got to break down our collective fear and hatred of the body and its energies. Negative messages about the body’s natural drives are so pervasive in our culture that millions of people report that they’re actually turned on by shame itself. Which makes the Faerie cry. The human organism is beautiful and sacred to me, and nowhere is it more fascinating than in its ecstasies and devotions, in its passionate explorations, and in its yearning for communion. There are already some great sex reports out there, of course; I just think they’re under-represented, and I hope that if I can inspire a few more people to share their experiences it will embolden yet others and we can start to build a more robust model of the whole mind-body-spirit phenomenon. Sometimes really weird stuff happens, like for instance in Terence McKenna’s Kathmandu Interlude, in which a crazy psychedelic sex session apparently produced a “violet hyperfluid” that could be used as a kind of a window. Terence called the substance Luv and I’ve always wanted to make some, but so far no luck. Heaven knows I’ve tried.
I do know how to make the regular kind of love. By which I mean to say I know how to fill myself to overflowing with the feeling of pure true universal love any time that I want to. I cannot begin to express the infinite value that this represents. For a psychedelic explorer, love is like a suit of armor (except kind of the opposite). I spent something like an hour a day for more than a year drilling this neural channel in so that I can always find it when I need it, and when conditions are amenable, I still practice tuning in to it on a daily basis. Best thousand hours I’ve ever spent, no contest. I think I developed my system on acid in Thailand, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, I’d like to leave you with a description of the way the Teafaerie makes love, in case you ever need to whip some up in a hurry. I call it the Meta-Metta meditation, and it goes a little something like this: I usually sit down and adopt a comfortable but focused posture–although lately, I’m starting to think it’s even better when I dance with it. So long as I can stay present with my breath, it’s all good. Then I start close to my center and work my way out. First I love the Teafaerie until I can really feel it. Sometimes that takes up the whole hour I have blocked for this exercise, but it’s important not to just cheat and move on. Then I try to love anyone who I might be harboring dissonance with. Again, sometimes I can’t do it and I just spend all the time trying unsuccessfully to love my enemies. Not very often though, because I’ve gotten pretty good at loving people. Next I love my husband and my other partners, and then my family, my close friends, and so on, until I’ve loved everyone I can think of, including the whole teeming world full of strangers. When I feel like I’ve included everyone I’m going to be able to encompass, I just try to hold as much of it in my heart as I can take, and then lean into a feeling of excitement–like the thing we’ve all been waiting for all of our lives is just about to happen. The curtain is rising, a new day is about to dawn, and our hearts are full of bright hope and wild joy–this is it, this is it, this is IT!!! Yes, yes, YES! Then I try to hold the crescendo as long as possible, before I white out. I know some people think it’s not really meditation if it turns you on, but fuck those guys.