Citation: Claxynox. "Dancing With the Rainbow Serpent: An Experience with Peyote (exp101796)". Erowid.org. Dec 23, 2017. erowid.org/exp/101796
Set: Male, Caucasian, 25 (at the time of trip)
Setting: Squamish area, British Columbia. Early-mid November
Me, and a couple of my friends had acquired some psychoactive cacti and had been sitting on it for a while. My and one friend went halfers on a bag of peyote and our other friend bought some Peruvian fire torch. We were to do it all together, ‘Cactus camping’ as we called it. One of our friends was out of the province at the time when the opportunity finally presented itself so me and the Peruvian fire torch (let’s call him torch) holder decided to do it without him. I grabbed my half of the peyote, he grabbed his fire torch, we grabbed a friend to trip sit (let’s call him babysitter) and off we went…
We arrived at a small camping area near a riverside as night fell. Two other camp sites were set up and we decided to camp at a distance from them –save them from our ruckus and us from their curious inquiries. Quickly, we set up our tents and built a fire. We immediately went to work preparing our methods of cactus consumption.
Torch made a crude shake: soda pop, some lemon juice and powderized Peruvian fire torch. He could barely finish it. I tried a sip myself –it was awful, but not quite as bad as what I had in store…
I went with a tea: I brewed the crushed-up peyote with a mixture of water and lemon juice. I boiled it, let it cool off and drank it over the course of about half an hour. It was indescribably gross. Totally disgusting, foul, repulsive. It was bitter and tasted like vomit tinged with lemon. Somehow, I managed to choke most of it down; leaving only some rancid chunks on the bottom (most of which I ate, but couldn’t totally finish).
We stood chatting around the fire for a while. Babystitter and torch make a few drinks; I decline as I was abstaining from alcohol at the time; but I joined in for the tokes of weed that were offered. It wasn’t long until the first vibrations began to tingle up… and with it came terrible nausea. For me, at least. It seemed strangeness had accepted our brazen invitation, and slowly it began to seep into our night…
We decided to set off into the night to explore a bit. No reason or purpose. Just go. Why not? We stumbled into the woods, enticed by bass noise and what seemed to be chanting in the distance. What bizarre cult was at work out here? We go closer to the sound. Definitely chanting. But why? We tried to figure out what the hell they were saying. Than it struck like lightning: patty-cake. They were singing patty cake. We laid down in some sand, laughing and joking. Babysitter definitely had a contact high. Torch even jokingly accused him of ‘stealing his thought’ at one point while we were on the ground there. Many thoughts were ‘stolen’ that night. I believe that telepathy occurs between humans on some level, and psychedelics definitely bring it to the forefront. Now, my conviction is not so powerful and absolute that I am going to run around the streets, wild-eyed and grabbing terrified pedestrians by the collar as I shout the infallible truth of ESP into their faces –but I think there is certainly something there at least worth acknowledging, as silly as it may sound.
After lying on the ground for a short while, we wandered around the brush some more, vaguely and perhaps unconsciously moving towards the sound. At this point I was feeling very nauseous -the peyote wasn’t sitting well. Perhaps I shouldn’t have devoured that discount pizza on the drive over –I knew I would regret it…. With the nausea came some ugly thoughts… In the darkness I seemed to see the outline of a group of stern-faced, square jawed Native Americans staring at me in cold judgement. They were not too pleased with me. Though outwardly I was fairly jovial and I was enjoying myself on at least some level… I couldn’t shake the darkness that was present. I began to think that I wasn’t supposed to exist; that nature had never intended a wretched creature like myself to survive… that I had no will to survive on my own; that I was being carried along only by a vile, corrupted and confused society that allows shameful, pathetic beings like myself to live out of a sense of misplaced pity.
I batted off these thoughts. Fought them away. But they persisted, hiding just beneath my bouts of giggling and joyful hooting. Nasty thought circling like vultures: Would have been left to die if the world was right… mother nature’s unwanted son… No, this is just you’re head. This isn’t real. Pay no attention. Even if it is true, you’re here. You’re right here. You can change everything. It doesn’t have to be this way, he who wasn’t meant to be… Fight on. Strive. Survive. Keep laughing. Keep enjoying yourself…
We went by the patty-cake campers, saying hello as we passed. They were confused, but not alarmed by our presence. We almost went to the heavy bass campers, but it seemed like there weren’t many people there and me and torch almost instinctively went the other way. We eventually somehow looped around back to our camp site following the paths that we had drove in on. In the darkness I saw all sorts of shapes, indeterminable figures… at a few points I thought saw a strange elven creature hiding behind the trees, watching us with amusement. Could it be the mescalito of folklore? Maybe. Maybe it’s just my head.
When we got back to the camp I was feeling very nauseous. We had been wandering around for a while but there was no way of know exactly how much time. The cacti had undoubtedly kicked in full swing by now; there was no going back from here. Musical instruments were brought out. A Djembe. A harmonica. A shaker was made from an empty plastic bottle and beer caps. Torch and babysitter began playing music. I sat out, feeling that I could vomit at any second.
The music they were playing was primal and chaotic… My nausea intensified as the music seemed to build and build. It was almost as if their music was somehow drawing the sickness out of my stomach and up through my esophagus. I tried in vain to hold it down, but eventually I could resist it no more. I lurched over and unleashed a torrent of vomit.
I must have vomited three or four times. I completely cleaned out my stomach contents during the ordeal. The whole episode felt horrible –until I finally got the last of it out. Vomiting seemed to purge my entire being. Gone were all those ugly thoughts; gone the discomfort and nausea. I felt an awesome surge of energy. I leap up, and joined in the music making, sending my new found elation out in waves into the woods by pounding the djembe. I felt refreshed, exhilarated and ready for anything. The night was certain to be good from here.
We play music for a while then calmly sit around the fire. We discuss our condition and other things. The babysitter mentions that he recently began taking yoga classes, and how one exercise involves focusing on the third eye. He mentions that he sees an array of colours and when he does this, and wonders if it has anything to do with his past acid usage. I decide to give my ole’ third eye a glance. I close my eyes. Focus on the third eye. Snails. A field full of them, then a singular snail.
I decide to give my ole’ third eye a glance. I close my eyes. Focus on the third eye. Snails. A field full of them, then a singular snail.
The snail melts into a luminous rainbow, which then takes the shape of a hand. I open my eyes and give a basic description to my friends. I close my eyes again. Now there’s a snake. It is a rainbow snake. I can easily see it in my mind even with my eyes open. It winds around majestically; dancing an intricate ballet. I consciously decide that the snake represents DNA. DNA moving through time, creating all the forms of the world.
We drew pictures of our visions on a white projector screen we had found on our way out in campfire charcoal: I drew a snake with DNA patterns on its back (that was coincidentally shaped in the omega sign – something I hadn’t intended) and torch drew a globe attached to a tree – yggdrasil. The babysitter drew some black circles he called galaxies. I felt like a caveman doing this; it was a very primal and invigorating experience.
Another adventure is proposed. Before doing so, the babysitter downs the rest of my peyote. All bets are off now –anything can happen at this point. We move out, giggling fools wandering into the darkness. We journey through sand, brush and deadfall making silly jokes as we make our way towards our unknown destination. I see the stern-faced Native Americans again; only this time they’re smiling and applauding me. After a while we stumble across the river –maybe we had been heading there the entire time, but it seemed totally random.
At the river we sit and enjoy the view. It is completely dark out at this point, but we can still see enough to appreciate our surroundings. The borders of the mountains seem to take the form of various ridiculous things: Gigantic, leaping mountain goats… Sauron’s tower, bear heads, snakes… Many things seemed to have strange, almost cartoonish animal spirits hiding in them under the influence of peyote. At one point during the trip I was almost totally convinced that a piece of petrified wood was actually a large, sullen toad until I picked it up and examined it.
We rode a bouncing log at the river like a seesaw. I was reminded of childhood and playing. I decided that it was likely that the main reason humans exist is essentially to play. The vicious, dog-eat-dog negative ‘adult’ world was so destructive and sad because it tried to remove this essential element of humanity, tried to reduce us to mere cogs in a machine. The ‘adult’ world pretended that we are here for a serious purpose, and one must button themselves down and box themselves in to serve this unspecified serious purpose, which exists outside of our understanding –and must never be questioned. The ‘adult’ world seemed silly and absurd –totally missing the point. Everything was play: friendship, sex, love, eating and collecting food…. All Play! I was glad to be here, enjoying this with my friends as I should be -Playing with them.
After a while of playing around in the woods we made our way back towards the heavy bass music. The consensus was to go visit this loud campsite and, though I had my reservations, I could think of no legitimate reason not to at least go say hello.
We get to the bass campsite. There are only two people at the site, a couple, both drunk and on cocaine. We had a decent conversation with them and they were friendly enough to tolerate our presence and offer us some beer. I took an offered beer, even though I wasn’t drinking at the time, but did not even get half-way through it. In all honesty, I wasn’t really feeling these people at the time and I could barely get a word in with all of their coked-out jabbering. But they had some funny stories and didn’t seem to mind that we were tripping (which we eventually flat out told them. The guy had even tried peyote for himself, but did not seem to enjoy it) so we stuck around for a while, gave them some of our wood and smoked some more weed. While we were at their fire, the trip seemed to subside, almost disappear. But when we went to retrieve more fire wood to bring over from our site, it came roaring back. I remember one particular mental image from our wood-gathering journey:
Close up of a Chameleon with enormous, bulbous eyes –inappropriately large; totally unnatural. Embedded in the scales surrounding its kneecaps are luminous blue jewels. The chameleon crawls through strange, alien foliage – short bright green grass dotted with plants yet beheld by human eyes. The Chameleon is the same colour as the grass. It moves slowly, methodically beneath the soft glow of an unseen star… The image hangs for a moment and disappears.
Back at the couple’s fire, I even disengaged from the conversations to retreat into inner visions: Luminous, iridescent peacock feathers aligned in wallpaper-pattern… the snails again… snakes again… Nothing seemed to have any context; it was just there.
After a while, we went back to our campfire. We realized we had used all our wood on their fire and returned to it to watch it burn out. I remember seeing humorous faces in the burning wood: a silly Frenchman, a goofy dog, an angry buffoon. Eventually, the fire died and we said our goodnights and headed back.
We sat around for a while in the darkness at the campsite, chatting and joking. More thoughts were ‘stolen ‘and reflections of the evening were shared. I saw more strange things shaping in the darkness: indistinct faces and animals. We star gazed for a while, trying to determine where the constellations were with limited success (we weren’t sure if the stars were even there at
some points!) Eventually, we retired to bed.
I crawled into my tent and wrapped myself in blankets. I’m treated to some particular images as I try to go to sleep:
A grouping of four or five blue eyes suspended in the air encased in diamond-shaped red borders. Inexplicably, parts of the floating eyes and their borders are wooden. The wooden parts totally eclipse the eyes and borders; taking their basic shape but appearing like crudely glued together wood scarps and splinters. One eye floats front and center. It is exactly half wooden.
A relatively featureless person made out of bright rainbows slumbering peacefully in what seems to be a desolate wasteland…
Geometrical patterns… More rainbow snakes…
At some point in my tent (I was unable to sleep for some time) I decide that I am supposed to be an artist, bringing all the strange and wonderful things that pop into my head somehow into the world. I contemplate being a painter. I go through a barrage of artist fantasies where I am quite revered. Silly egotistical junk and vapid wish-fulfilment. But, at the end of it I still feel I should be pursuing some sort of artistic outlet in my life. I never really got on with most of the jobs I had, something was always missing. Ever since I was young working on the family farm, I would always escape the drudgery of work into the limitless realms of imagination. I felt, and still feel, that my life’s purpose –if there is such a thing, is to create. In some way or another. Creation should be playful. Art should be a catalyst for evolution and social change. Create. Evolve the world.
Before finally going to sleep, I think about my dead relatives and cry a bit. I realize that one of my main problems is I think too much and don’t feel enough. I need to let myself feel more. I don’t need to have the distant, stoic masculinity that infects our culture. I just need to be human; to have feelings and play. No more of this nonsense. Embrace yourself. Feelings help us connect, help us play. Don’t let the dumbness of the world drag you down. Appreciate life. Appreciate yourself.
Somehow, I finally drift into sleep. I wake up the next morning groggy and tired; I don’t think I slept a lot that night. In fact, we all look pretty tired. We gather our stuff together and head out. In the back of my mind there is a buzzing: Try to feel and play. Try to create. Life is strange and beautiful. Share everything. Remember the things you learn, never be afraid to make mistakes.
I like to think that peyote taught me some important lessons, but it was not a stern and serious teacher. It was a playful teacher. I personally believe that I got more out of it doing it in nature. But in all honesty, it’s your choice. Just remember:
Life is strange and beautiful.
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