Cacti - T. pachanoi & T. peruvianus & Cannabis
Citation: An Architect. "Middle-Aged Man's Singularity: experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi & T. peruvianus & Cannabis (ID 71781)". Erowid.org. Sep 5, 2008. erowid.org/exp/71781
This is to record a pair of singularly amazing experiences S. and I had up at his cabin recently. I should explain a bit about us. We're both in our late thirties and have worked together as chip designers for many years but had recently both hit a mid-life burnout and left our jobs to take stock. The nature of our jobs requires a pretty firm understanding of math and physics, but beyond what we needed to know we both have a fairly compulsive inquisitive side that likes to wrestle with problems wherever they might lead. Of all the people I've worked with over the years, I'd say that S. is the closest thing I've come across to a brother, we even look and act something alike.
In terms of past experience, S. had used a number of other substances (pot, shrooms, LSD, salvia) on a somewhat regular basis, while I had only ever tried pot and salvia on a handful of prior occasions. I would say that my spiritual background went from a childhood of catholic sunday-schooling and mindless belief, through an existentialist young adulthood of strict mechanistic atheism, to a much more open but still highly skeptical adulthood. Throughout my life I've also had a mystical and intuitive side which wrestled with my dominant rational analytical side, somehow forming a strong synergy of viewpoints despite the various things I've convinced myself I believe at one time or another.
I had been living overseas for the year prior to our first experience, so S. invited me to come visit and catch up on what had happened in our lives. I assumed we were going to do some hiking in the Sierra foothills and maybe smoke up by the fire while we talked, nothing too serious. It turned out that S. had ordered some San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cacti cuttings after reading about them online. For our first journey, he boiled a little over a foot of the San Pedro down with lemon juice, producing about three large cups of foul-smelling olive-green brew. After I arrived and saw all of this preparation going on, I naturally had a lot of questions which he did his best to answer.
We got to his parent's mountain cabin around 2:00pm after shopping for some supplies and promptly started choking this stuff down. The taste was strangely familiar to me, but still utterly foul, heavily alkaline and bitter, with a disagreeable vegative salty/sweetness. We used smaller cups to drink from, each drinking two full cups over the course of an hour or so, about 4/5ths of the total amount, taking sips of cranberry juice between sips of cactus juice to cleanse the palate. At one point I very nearly threw up when a particularly large sip managed to swirl around my mouth, but mostly I managed to keep each sip in the center of my tongue and get it down quickly enough not to taste too much. Breathing in before each sip and then breathing out while sipping seemed to keep the smell to a minimum.
Overall the drinking process took about an hour, during which time we were catching up on what had been happening to us in the past year and laughing about whether this was going to work or not. Once the horrible stuff was down, I started to have a somewhat unpleasant heavy feeling in my guts, as if I were carrying around a large stone inside there somewhere. Other than this feeling, which unfortunately lasted the whole night, I can't think of a single bad effect either during or after.
The cabin was very nice and cosy, three levels surrounded by pines on the side of a hill with a small pond within easy walking distance. Inside it was full of all this weird gingham and frills stuffed Americana knicknackerry, with lots of kids toys and a strong western/horsey theme. About a half hour after draining the last of the juice we decided to go outside on the deck and enjoy the spectacular late-summer afternoon with the sun streaming through the pine needles. At this point I think I noticed the first effects, a slight strobing as I panned my head back and forth. We were both feeling pretty good despite the slight stomach upset, but after a further half-hour talking on the deck we started to suspect the whole experience was going to be a bust.
S. suggested we hit up the cookie jar, so we wandered back into the cabin to search for a place out of the neighbors' sight where we could smoke in peace. We decided the basement was best after a quick look around, and headed down there. This was to be the last point during the day where anything like normal conscious processing was going on. Almost immediately after smoking a pipe of some of S.'s very strong pot, we were launched into what S. and I have come to call creation space. At the time I was utterly unprepared for the change, with nothing from my 'normal' life short of a few fleeting, consciousness-expanding moments of satori I had experienced after meditating on particularly tough existential problems (while completely sober, I might add) even coming close. This was like those moments, but amazingly I could live, interact with S. and stay in that moment for as long as I liked, rather than having the first outside distraction to come along bring me back to 'reality'.
Almost immediately we started talking, seemingly unbidden, about the underlying possible mathematical structures which could make this particular reality we inhabited possible. One of us said the word 'fractal', which seemed to have a powerful effect on us as we thought about the implications. We both became very focused on the idea that all of reality could be formed from an infinite-dimensional hypersphere, somehow seeing/being/creating that concept at the same time. Amazingly enough, when I later googled infinite dimensioned hypersphere I found they had both zero area and zero volume, and yet an infinite number of points on the surface, seemingly confirming information acquired in this altered state. There was a very strong sense of both of us being profoundly connected to a deeper intellect which was universal and able to provide answers to any questions we could formulate.
It is very hard to explain the events that took place because some of them were not in linear temporal order from our experience frame. I have definite memories of the same event from different perspectives, for example. The most powerful thing about this cannabis-potentiated mescaline trip is that it appears that whatever I think about or desire to happen, can happen. We were propelled into god-space, limited only by our inventiveness and courage. During this first experience S. said that in his opinion I had had a somewhat higher dose of the cactus juice than he did, but also that he was afraid to follow where I was sometimes over-enthusiastically leading. I should also point out that one of the very nice features of the trip was this seeming rip-cord to reality that you could pull at any time, gently snapping back to normality if things got too intense. At the same time if I wanted to go deep, I was only limited by my intention.
One of the most amazing and comforting aspects of our journey was the shared sense of two old friends meeting at a retreat, taking a moment from their busy lives to share some time together. There was a sense of connection, of all of the atoms and structures of our bodies supporting this amazing consciousness, and this consciousness expanding outwards into an infinite potential that we are all part of. The awareness of sub-atomic particles making atoms possible, which make chemistry and the function of our cells possible, and of how those cells work together to make our brains possible, and how we just knew and understood that our brains work together to make the implicate order possible, the over-mind which in turn creates the mechanistic universe which it arises out of possible, this knowledge filled both of us with its awesome beauty and simplicity.
We dwelt for a timeless infinity understanding every part of that oroboros which is existence, and it was good, and everything was as it should be. We were both creator and the created, both central to and one of a countless infinity of creation events. We laughed about this later, coming up with the concept of a middle-aged man's singularity to help understand this asymptotic approach to the godhead. It was both joyous and funny, and why shouldn't the creation of all that is have one start as a joke between old friends tripping balls by the lake? There were many moments of amazing exploration and childlike glee during this experience.
At one point I wondered aloud whether it was possible to truly share the point of view of another, and bingo, S. and I were in a shared headspace, thinking each other's thoughts and finishing each other's sentences perfectly, as if it were a game to see if we could do it. The very meta-idea of having an idea became something tangible, and 'we' experienced concepts first-hand, being the infinitely recursive idea of a platonic reality were all possible things exist as their perfect forms. Time and space became playthings, at one point I decided to try having a conversation in non-temporal order, and so easily did it that it made me laugh, and amazingly part of the non-linear conversation about whether it was possible to have a non-linear conversation took place during our second trip together, months later!
Later that night we had walked down to the little pond and lay on our backs in the pitch dark about 15 feet apart, watching the milky way and commenting on the amazing fractal patterns the stars and dust made, when I silently adjusted my head to be more comfortable. As the stars slid across my visual field, I heard a loud gasp from S.. He described seeing the exact change in perspective from 15 feet away, despite lying utterly still at the time! All kinds of weird synchronicities like this were happening to us throughout the night.
While the vast majority of the experience was a deeply intellectual and spiritual one, a trip through headspaces rather than anything particularly visual, I did repeatably have the experience of seeing all the possible S.'s blurred together, as if many different versions of us had come together from across the multiverse to their particular versions of this cabin by the lake, and decided to all trip together. I found this blurring effect somewhat disconcerting, because after checking that I was still indeed wearing my glasses I noticed that nothing else in the room seemed blurry, it all seemed utterly normal, as a matter of fact. By the simple act of imagining that I could select among the various S.'s and hold one still for inspection, I found that indeed I could do so, and spent a lot of time while we were talking about other things letting his face switch from one form to another, now a baseball-cap wearing trucker-looking dude, now a wise old man with a grey beard, now clean-shaven, now with glasses, now without. At no point was there anything hallucinogenic about seeing these different versions of S., they each looked clear as day and I had a deep sense that I knew and loved as a friend each one of them.
Interestingly during this first trip I was unable to see myself from this multiversal perspective in the bathroom mirror, but on the second trip something in me was more relaxed and I was able to see the different quantum me's. Indeed I noticed that anything I cared to look at could be examined from this perspective, but it seemed easiest with iconic images laden with symbolism.
We spent two months back in our everyday lives, integrating the experiences and finding many bits of amazing supporting evidence that we had somehow accessed something bigger than ourselves during this first trip, when we had a chance to try pretty much the same thing again with a foot of San Pedro and a foot of Peruvian Torch mixed together. This time S. apparently had a slightly larger dose than I did, yielding a pleasingly symmetric leader/follower relationship compared to our first trip.
At first we went down to a nearby meadow to play Frisbee and await the effects, but after an hour of only feeling connected and noticing how beautiful the pine trees and clouds looked, I suggested that we try potentiating with pot once again since we didn't seem to be breaking through into the same space as before. After returning to the cabin and sharing a bowl, I immediately noticed that I couldn't read the writing on a can of paint thinner on the shelf in front of me, the letters were morphing as though different realities were blending together.
I should point out that launching into this creation-space has a disconcerting aspect, an abrupt shift as though some filter or impediment is falling away and I am being reunited with a much larger part of yourself, almost like being possessed, though I never lost my sense of the smaller part of me still being there. I can imagine that for some people this would be terrifying enough to keep them from taking the plunge and embracing the full effects, but somehow S. and I took to it very naturally. Even so, there are still many aspects of the experience which I have not yet been able to understand or get anything useful from, for example things S. and I said to each other which make no sense to me now, as if we had been engaging in some conversation at too high a level of abstraction to apply to this reality or make sense in my limited slice of life.
The second trip was more creative and artistic in nature, listening to music, drawing, reading aloud some poetry that I had written, something I highly recommend given the power of words in this state, playing guitar together and watching in amazement as S. seemed to be granted godlike skill. We came up with the idea that the artist literally creates space on every level, from the small cosy feeling we get from enjoying music to the grand structure of the universe unfolding around us. On a whim I had brought The Flaming Lips DVD V.O.I.D., and while watching we engaged in a three-way conversation between the lead singer and ourselves, with lyrics dropping into our conversation too perfectly to be coincidence.
The DVD as a whole seemed to be a mystical protest against god and the injustice and pain of our reality, and S. and I became both god on the witness stand, prosecutor, and therapist trying to heal what seemed to be a flaw in the way things were unfolding. I'm not sure what good (if any) we did, but in the process we were both moved to tears several times. I intuited the concept of a 'blurry god', a god who deliberately creates separations and confusion in its own mind both to increase the complexity and beauty of reality, but also to afford some place to hide from the incredible lonesomeness of omniscience. We feel existential despair in this life not because we are all alone as separate individuals, but because we are in reality all the same singular being, hiding from itself. I think in the end, while exploring these states is fascinating and rewarding in itself, this insight has given me more appreciation for how amazing our lives (illusion or not) really are.
Even though a lot of time has passed since we've tried the cactus, we still both talk of it often. Both of us had a deep sense that we had done this together many times and would do again, and that this coming together was in fact a necessary feature of the functioning of the over-mind. I did have some sense, unclear though it was, that we were all (as a species) heading toward some kind of more coordinated singularity, a grand coming together, and that our personal singularity (and the others like it that we could both sense) were in effect the fractal outliers of some more central complexity which is approaching.
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