Mushrooms - P. cubensis & St. John's Wort
Citation:   Garuda. "Catharsis: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis & St. John's Wort (exp100356)". Sep 28, 2022.

30 g oral Mushrooms - P. cubensis (fresh)
  1 cup oral St. John's Wort (tea)
This was a difficult trip—I hesitate to call it a “bad trip” because it was actually pretty cathartic for me, and I ultimately benefited from the experience. Others may disagree, however.

In terms of set and setting, I did pretty much everything wrong when it comes to the conventional wisdom regarding setting oneself up for a productive trip, which is one reason I think this trip report is interesting enough to share. I was under a great deal of both short-term and long-term stress and the trip happened under sudden and extremely distressing circumstances in which my ability to make a living had been called into question. It was generally not what would be considered by most to be an opportune time to trip.

First, some background:

I had been attempting to grow P. cubensis for the first time, with a lot of problems and very little success. I used too many modifications for a first time grow and failed to keep it simple, and I paid the price in the end. Even the circumstances surrounding the grow itself were pretty counter-productive.

My wife had left me a year or so before, but I was just about to move out of the apartment we had shared and into a temporary arrangement on-campus where I worked. I was under all the stresses attached with having a long-distance relationship for the time being. Needless to say, our relationship was strained anyhow. I had a small window of time before I would be moving into a situation in which I knew for sure that mushroom cultivation would be out of the question, but it was something I had always wanted to do—I literally had just about enough time to do one grow before I would have to pack up and put it behind me, and that was assuming things would go really well (which they didn't). The grow was rushed from the beginning and my intentions were severely questionable.

Just as I started getting somewhere with the grow, a person with whom I had unwisely discussed my growing project took it upon themselves to tell my employer about the grow. This resulted in a long meeting with said employer, in which I openly admitted what I was up to and why. I had a good personal and professional relationship with my employer, and respected her tremendously. I refused to lie to her, but knew that her knowledge of this situation did not bode well for my life and my future prospects within the organization that I worked for. It certainly threatened to destroy my chances of being able to move into the open apartment on campus where I worked, which in turn threatened to ruin all of my plans for my life and for getting back together with my wife. I quickly reached the conclusion that there was only one viable course of action for me to take: I needed to go in the next morning and tell her that I had decided to terminate the grow and to put it behind me. And that needed to be true. This was not something she had put me up to—she had urged me to reconsider but wished me the best when I indicated that I intended to grow the mushrooms and experiment with them. However, I knew that she had lost some respect for me. Making the decision to end the whole thing would help me gain some of that back.

But course, after all the trouble I'd gone to, I was damn well going to trip if I could. Right?

Eyeing the PF cakes in my terrarium, I estimated that there was probably just enough fruit material on them to trip on. It was pretty much all pins and aborts, with one fully-formed but very small mushroom. The process of picking all of those tiny pins was a testament to how desperate I was to experience the fruits of my troubled labors, and I felt kind of pathetic as I worked at it. In the end, I weighed it all out at 30 grams fresh.

Set and setting being what they were, what on earth could possibly go wrong?


In order to help things along, I decided to drink some St. John's Wort (a mild MAOI) tea in order to help potentiate the trip. I don't know how effective it was but given the nature of my situation I felt that any little bit would help. That being the case, I drank a cup of the tea and waited half an hour before ingesting the mushrooms.

I ate the pile of tiny little pins and aborts in one mouthful. I actually found the taste and texture of the fresh mushrooms pleasant, despite the opinions of many to the contrary. Intending to document the trip as it happened, I opened up Notepad and sat at the computer with some music on, reading as I waited for the trip to come on.

After about 45 minutes, the first signs came. I felt giddy and “energized,” a palpable charge running through my whole body, and everything I read, watched or thought about touched me much more deeply, right down into my heart. Everything was so much more beautiful and fascinating. In many ways, I felt like I was a kid again, seeing everything for the first time. I sat reading the same sorts of articles online that I read every day, but with my mouth hanging open and a sense of awe, wonder and deep appreciation coursing through me. My body language changed accordingly. I sat with my hand on my cheek, like people do when hearing a story they can't quite believe, for example, and also rubbed my head a lot. Normally I am not nearly so animated, especially when sitting at my computer.

An hour and a half or so into the trip, however, the other side of the coin began to emerge. The sensation of breathing changed for me—the feelings associated with it were much more intense. I could feel each breath coursing through my whole body, a sensation I would get quite used to later in life while practicing pranayama. It was rather pleasurable, however, the intensity was just barely—infinitesimally, but just noticeably—too much for me, almost like good music turned up just a sliver too high so that it hurts the ears. The act of breathing began to “chafe” the inside of my lungs, in a way; that is to say, this slight intensity began to wear on me after a while.

This “chafing” effect soon spread itself to the immense joy and rapture I felt about everything. The music was so intensely beautiful that it kind of hurt—and by hurt, I mean emotionally, I suppose. That's the closest I can come to describing it, anyway. It sounded too beautiful for this world, like something we mere mortals are not supposed to hear. Like being graced with the soft caress of a feather, but one with the slightest of razor edges, leaving superficial wounds in the skin, just too minute to actually bleed but just deep enough to sting a bit even as its caress soothed and tingled the nerves—except that I felt this at a soul level. Before long this phenomenon grew to encompass everything I experienced—every physical sensation, every thought and emotion, every perception.

This paradoxical state was hard to sit with and I grew increasingly agitated by it. The abrasive beauty and elation soon gave birth to frustration, which blossomed into full-blown anger—but without detracting from the beauty and elation, either.
The abrasive beauty and elation soon gave birth to frustration, which blossomed into full-blown anger—but without detracting from the beauty and elation, either.
I experienced both poles of every emotion simultaneously. All at once, I felt depressed and ecstatic, tormented but pampered. I was helpless and omnipotent, compassionate and wrathful. I turned the music up and changed it to Orbital's Blue Album, which amplified all of this and synergized so well with it that I was sure I had discovered my soul's song.

I turned off the lights but turned on a purple lava lamp, and soon found myself on my hands and knees on the floor, ecstatically pounding out, with my hands on the floor, a rhythm inspired by the music. I was able to fit this same rhythm into every song on the album. Something about the rhythm itself felt so personally sacred and wonderful to me. At this point I had been tripping for about two hours and this is what I would call the peak of the trip.

The intensity of the paradoxical emotions within me just kept building. I turned the music up really loud and totally let myself go. I laughed and cried at the same time, so hysterically that I was drooling profusely, mucus pouring from my nose. Bouts of laughter wove seamlessly into gasps of anguish and back again. At times I would stop pounding my rhythm and just spin, roll and writhe on the floor, running my fingers through my hair. I was in agony, like my life was over, and yet this was beautiful and hilarious to me. Perfect. Necessary.

I would look back on this later and realize that what was likely happening was the emergence and expression of emotions that I had been bottling up, probably for a great deal of my life. Even now, I would never say it was a bad experience despite the horrendous pain I felt—because it was finally leaving me, and that was a good thing.

Few of the emotions that came up felt personal in nature. On the contrary, they reflected an inner anxiety I live with about the state of the world we live in, and what we as a human family are doing to it. I saw this period in our history as violently transformative, painful and beautiful, like childbirth. I felt as though I was in contact with powerful catalyzing energies, serving as a conduit for them to pour into the planet, and I played this role happily as I laughed, cried, writhed and squirmed in emotional pain so pronounced that it bled over into physical pain after a while. I felt as though I was able to radiate these energies outward from my body, like some form of light that abides outside the spectrum of our everyday existence, yet still informs it. As my emotions intensified, this light seemed to do so as well. The energy felt healing, though it might manifest the healing in seemingly painful ways--like the way it hurts to get stitches.

By the end of the album, I was exhausted and my voice was hoarse. For quite some time, I simply lay on the floor, breathing and coming back to myself.

Eventually, I stood up and decided it was time to dispose of the PF cakes sitting in my terrarium. I put them all in a plastic shopping bag, grabbed my mp3 player, picked some music, and walked out the door. I had decided to go to a nearby park and to throw the cakes into the pond there. I had actually gotten the water that I used in mixing up the substrate for the cakes from that same pond, so it seemed symbolically appropriate to give the cakes back to the pond, as if putting them where they belonged.

I didn't live in a very good neighborhood and indeed had lived in some pretty scary places all throughout my life, and of course I was feeling very raw and vulnerable after what I'd just gone through--so when I saw a big Cadillac rolling slowly towards me in the parking lot, all of my internal alarms went off. When the car stopped right in front of me and the window started rolling down, I was really nervous. The guy driving the car was dressed like many of the gang bangers I'd known throughout my life and this made me very apprehensive. Nonetheless, I pulled one of my earphones out to hear what he wanted to say, bracing myself for trouble.

It's amazing how our past bad experiences can imprint us and form our prejudices. The guy turned out to be really nice. He was just driving around passing out leaflets for an upcoming hip hop show his group was going to be headlining. Once I started talking to him, he seemed really peaceful and warm, like a big teddy bear. I talked about some hip hop that I liked, and he turned up the music he was playing (his own, as it happened) so I could listen to it with him. After a while, I said goodbye to him and moved onward toward the park, with a self-deprecating grin plastered on my face. What a jackass I was, right? Getting all freaked out at a big car rolling up. Reacting instinctively, like a scared animal. That was the part of my nature I had been coming from. I reflected on how that is unfortunately the part of our nature that many of us in the world primarily come from. What self-defeating idiocy. Why the hell couldn't we all just set that fear aside and open our hearts? I deeply yearned at that moment to make that a reality. It seemed perfectly obvious and also easy to act upon at that moment.

Sobriety was returning and my paradoxical rawness was subsiding. Soon I was at the park, and that is when the only visual effect of the evening occurred. The sky over the pond flashed repeatedly, like lightning was flashing, but I knew it wasn't lightning. There were certain discrete, sparkling points almost like fireflies, but there were no fireflies out.

I launched the PF cakes into the pond one by one, feeling lighter on the inside with each splash that echoed through the night. In getting rid of them, I was setting down what amounted to a heavy emotional burden, as well as a demanding personal attachment. And I decided not to stop there.

I was carrying with me a folding knife that I had carried with me very often since I had been a teen. As I said, I'd lived in some pretty scary places, and it always felt important to have that knife on me for protection. I'd been through a lot with it, in a way. But that night, in the afterglow of a psilocybin trip and having been inspired by my encounter with the rapper in the parking lot, I decided it was time to set that burden down too. I would not be needing it anymore. So I threw the knife far overhead and into the water. More important than the actual knife was the inherent meaning in this act—the internal shift that my readiness to let go of the blade had signaled. Letting go of defensiveness is a process that began in earnest for me that night. It was by no means over but that was the turning point.

In this and other trips, I have found psilocybin to be a very valuable catalyst for healing of the psyche, for growth and for personal change, if it's used with that intention. Every time I have tripped, I have come away with valuable insights and have been enabled by way of receiving first-time emotional experiences of profound open-heartedness to open myself up gradually and help mend the damage that has been done to my mind and emotions throughout life.

Needless to say, I would never suggest that anybody take psychedelics in a similarly stressful life situation, as things could have been much worse. I am a fair bit more resilient to traumatic experiences than many people I know and this kind of experience could possibly damage a person. This trip was extremely reckless and impulsive, done for all the wrong reasons. That being said, and speaking here only for myself, if I could go back and do things differently knowing what I know now, I wouldn't change a thing.

Exp Year: 2010ExpID: 100356
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 27
Published: Sep 28, 2022Views: 1,207
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St. John's Wort (142), Mushrooms - P. cubensis (66) : Combinations (3), Difficult Experiences (5), General (1), Alone (16)

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