Citation: Clyde_H. "My Journey Into the Spirit World: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp104682)". Erowid.org. Jul 16, 2018. erowid.org/exp/104682
Good day, reader. I would first and foremost like to start off by thanking you for even taking the time to consider reading this tale of endeavors, as that seems like the most logical place to start. I’m writing this nearly a year following my experiences, in a deep, retrospective state. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Clyde H., and on the outside I was your average nineteen year old male. If you were to pass by me on the street you wouldn’t even give a second thought about me. I certainly didn’t look like anything special. I didn’t drive an expensive car or dress like a rock star. I was just one more lost and tortured soul lost in a sea of millions, wondering around aimlessly while I desperately attempting to find my place in this universe, trying to answer questions that no one else had ever been able too. How foolish I was.
Perhaps I was delusional about what life truly was about. Not that anybody could pass judgement on my philosophies, or how I had chosen to live my life. After all, who could honestly say they understood the meaning behind life? We all do our collective best. At the end of the day, we as individuals still have no criteria to base another’s life on except our own, not that I’m one to lecture about judging people. Perspective is everything. While trapped in our own consciousness, we abide by the same universal rules and laws as the Universe watches over and protects even the most tortured of souls, even if this is unforeseeable and incomprehensive to us at times.
I’m from a rather small town where, in my humble opinion, the majority of the population is very closed-minded. They seem happy enough living secluded off in their own little worlds, as long as nothing disturbs they perfect balance of things; at least that’s how they seen themselves. I used to believe that at the heart and soul of every single person there must be a desire for enlightenment and self-transcendence, but the older I get, the more difficult I find it is to believe that.
In this so-called ‘modernized,’ western world, we all seem to have this certain image about ourselves that we’re unconditionally open-hearted and tolerant. As a society, we’re delusional that we’re welcoming to virtually anybody; that we’re open to all races and religions. What a load of shit. Discrimination is still clearly evident throughout many parts of this great land. Race, religion, and gender are just a few areas of discrimination, across a long list. Anyone with different opinions from the group of majority in power, anyone caught deviating from the social norm, and those from different socioeconomic classes are always treated unfairly.
I’ve lived in poverty practically my entire life, and growing up, I faced many difficulties that those from higher-class families will never even contemplate. And I’m still a virgin. We might as well get it out of the way early on here and move along. That alone has really fucked with my mind, and I’ve faced more discrimination than anyone will ever realize. I’ve always been on my own. I’m quite certain I’ve lost my mind. But please don’t confuse this simple presentation of facts as a rant or list of complaints. The past twenty two years of my life have made me into the person I am today. I’ve always strongly believed that everything happens for a reason.
Growing up I was as clean and straight as could be. I focused solely on academics, athletics, and when the time came, a job. My attention was directed on my studies and I made a point of staying out of any kind of trouble that would upset my mother, who had raised me and my sister all by herself since day one. I didn’t even have a sip of beer until I was sixteen, one night at I bar. I would say that I had quite a sheltered childhood. As I reflect back on it now, it seems like I’ve gone through peaks and valleys of self-confidence my entire life, depending on where I was living and who I know during the time.
Sorry if this sounds like I’m getting sidetracked, but just bear with me for a moment or two. It won’t take me long to say what I need to say. To put a rumor to rest, when I was twelve years old I did get a handjob from a girl in class under the desk. My point being that I understand confidence is merely an illusion, and just because I’m a virgin, well… I digress. My mother vowed to protect me from everything, and that would ignite a rebellious spark in me. I vowed to drink as much as I could, do as many drugs as I could, and have as much sex as I could just as soon as I got the chance, to make up for all the lost time.
My coworkers at the time were really the first people that I knew who smoked cannabis regularly at that time, not because nobody was smoking it, but just because I never really associated with them. I hadn’t been the most popular kid growing up, and rarely went to parties in high school, and so I missed out on a lot of experiences that my peers were having. I like to blame the schools, the government, the media for feeding me all the hate-propaganda geared towards drugs, but the truth of the matter is I do have to accept some responsibility myself as well. I had let myself belief the lies I’d been told without really making an informed decision for myself. But as far as I was concerned, my entire life had been built on a foundation of lies adults, teachers, politics; it seemed like just about everybody was in on it.
I had been made to believe that marijuana was this harmful drug that could ruin lives, not enrich them. I suppose that just the fact that it was illegal alone caused me to see it as something dangerous. I associated it with foolish things such as firearms or cocaine, which today, after all this time, couldn’t seem any more ridiculous. Hell, these days even firearms, cocaine, or prostitutes don’t sounds all that bad to me. But I saw this as proof that the lies, propaganda and deception that those in authoritative positions were feeding us, seemed to be influencing me the exact way they wanted it to.
Thankfully it’s gradually getting better. Slowly but surely, the marijuana legalization movement continues to move forth. I would’ve never thought that the United States would have legal, recreational marijuana before Canada, even if it’s not on a federal basis yet. But I fully expect Justin Trudeau will be elected as Canada’s prime minister in 2015, and then it’s only a matter of time before the drug’s made legal here too. Fortunately for me, through some new friends, I finally had my eyes opened to how ignorant I had been while I was midway through high school.
I realized that these people weren’t criminals as the media had depicted them to be. In fact, as it turned out, they were a few of the most accepting people I had ever met, showing me significantly more respect than any friends or classmates. I slowly began to realize how much we had all been lied to over the course of our childhoods. Here was a completely natural, life-changing herb, which had virtually endless medical uses. It’s never claimed a single life and the main side effect is euphoria. It probably didn’t help that I was also completely fascinated at the time with biology and drugs, and learning how they affect the individual’s mind and body. Eventually shit hit the fan with that first job of mine and we were all asked to leave, though I still remained in touch over the years with the friends I had met there. They had already gone on to do more for me than the majority of people I would go on to meet throughout my lifetime.
As time progressed, we all ended up going our separate ways. I tried to remain as close to my friends as I could, but the comfort and security we had attained while attending school or working together felt as though it had been shattered. At last, after many months of making preparations, it came my turn to move on to bigger and better things, and I left for university, embarking on my quest of a higher knowledge. I remember I arrived in Oshawa where I would be attending university for the next four years on the fifth day of September, 2010. It was a Sunday, and my father helped me move into my dorm room which I would call home for the next eight months.
I immediately met my roommate, Evan, and the two of us quickly started getting to know each other and our surroundings. The first week spent there was our ‘orientation week’ before classes started, and there had been multiple activities organized by the school-student committee. I remember distinctively at one point they held a college-wide dodgeball game to help bring everyone together, and it was there that I would ultimately meet Peter, Zulian, Nicholas, and Mike – four others that would go on to become very good friends of mine during the course of my time spent there.
After the dodgeball game there was a free lunch held at the campus pub and grill, E.P. Taylor’s and Evan and I sat with our new friends, all getting to know each other a little bit more. The next night, the pub was hosting a dance and Evan, Nick, and I had decided to attend. Of course, as fate would have it, while we were there we would encounter Peter and Zulian again and the six of us just sort of naturally started to spend progressively more and more time with each other. By the end of the first week we had already spent several drunken nights amongst ourselves and had learned a lot about one another quite quickly as we all embarked on this new chapter of our lives. University life was a brand new atmosphere for us all, but I felt like with the help of my friends, I was making the transition easily enough.
Despite whatever bitterness I feel towards them now, there’s no denying that the people I would meet there went on to have a greater impact on my life than I could have ever imagined possible. The friends I met at that school meant the world to me, and I meant nothing to them. But I’ll get to that later. Our orientation week was concluded with a concert that Friday evening, headlined by Lights and Down With Webster, but my friends and I left early to drink back at our dorm rooms. Unfortunately I can’t recollect much else from that weekend, though I believe it was spent playing cards and drinking alcohol for the most part, an if memory does serve me at all correctly, then I believe that may have also been the same weekend I first met Kayla Jones.
Over the course of the next three weeks or so, I tried getting myself at least somewhat settled into a routine of sorts. I was paying tens of thousands of dollars to be there, and actually attended all of the lectures I was paying so much money for. I had applied and been accepted to the Criminology program, with the initial intent of training to become a police officer someday. In hindsight, nothing could seem more ridiculous now. But I found my classes interesting, and enjoyed being taught by experts in each different field of study for a change. I kept on top of my homework religiously, determined to get the most out of my time there. As roommates, of course I constantly saw Evan, and I saw the others quite often as well, and we drank every weekend. Here, at university, nobody knew me. I felt well-liked and almost, dare I say, popular for the first time in my life.
I managed to live that way for nearly a single month before throwing a curveball into the equation. If I knew back then what I know now, I very well may have made very different decisions. But such is life – we live and learn. We move on. But I digress. I feel like I’m diverting from the main plotline. The first day of October, 2010…the day that would ultimately prove to be life-altering. It was a Friday, which had started out like any other: I woke up, showered, got dressed, and went to classes all day, looking forward to returning to residence and drinking with my friends later on that night, although fate would have something a little different in store for me.
Nick was in the same classes as myself, which were held at a downtown campus. When they were finished for the day, sometime around three o’clock that afternoon, he and I caught the city bus back to the main campus and our dorm rooms, where we met up with Evan, Peter, Zulian, and Mike and then bussed back downtown to the liquor store. At least during the school year, shuttle busses were scheduled to run from the main campus to the downtown region every seven minutes, and all students got free transportation so I really can’t complain. At the liquor store, we each stocked up on what we thought we would need for the night. I got myself several beers and a bottle Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. Then it just took one final bus ride back to the school again, where we would finally be able to start drinking!
Once all of our running around was done and over with, we were back in Peter’s and Zulian’s dorm room with our alcohol by about five o’clock, with the vast majority of the evening still ahead of us. Peter had ducked out of the room for a moment or two, but I hadn’t really thought much of it. He re-emerged a moment or two later with a smile on his face, allowing the door to shut fully behind him before he spoke. “I found us a nickel bag for the night!” His roommate, Michael Zulian seemed excited but the rest of us were lost.
“What’s that?” I forced myself to ask.
“Five bucks worth of weed,” Peter explained and I instantly felt a surge of anticipation and excitement.
Before I go further, I feel like there are a couple coincidental points to mention regarding my group of friends. With the exception of Nick and I, the others had all attended the same high school in Newmarket, Ontario – Sacred Heart. Peter Chalmers and Michael Zulian had known each other almost their entire lives, but besides that, apparently none of them had really known each other or socialized in high school. The second fact that I found a little peculiar was the way our birthdates seemed to match up and correspond. Peter’s date of birth was a single day after my own, and Zulian’s date of birth was a single day after my roommate, Evan’s.
The instant that Peter told me he had weed, I told him truthfully that I had never tried it before, but that I really wanted to and he replied by telling me that I was more than welcome to share the small supply he had, and he would try to roll and joint or two for us a little bit later. We needed to make one last trip first, just quickly across the street to a drug store, to pick up mix for the liquor. I remember a large group of us walking over, and I was completely wound up, unable to calm myself down. Two girls walked with us – I can’t remember their names or where we had even met them now; I don’t think they stuck around long. My roommate had a video camera and I tried to record the whole evening. Actually I’m sure there’s still footage of that night lying around somewhere.
Anyways, we got to the store and got the drinks we needed, quickly making our way back to the dorms to start drinking. My memory of that night is hazy to say the least, so I’m limited on how many details I have to share with you now. But I do remember we all drank and wondered from room to room around the residence hall for several hours before we got to the main event of the evening. If I had to guess, I would say that the first joint came at around nine o’clock. I remember I was already extremely intoxicated, and Evan and I had stopped back into our room for a brief second. I asked him what he thought about the drugs, but as I recall he was strictly against it. I didn’t want to miss out though, and hurried out of our room down to Peter’s, passing a window and seeing him, Zulian, and a few others already outside. Irritated that they weren’t even willing to wait for me, I raced down the rest of the stairs as fast as I could and out the back doors, joining everyone in a circle.
There were several cigarette smokers and others stoners with pipes or joints of their own, but as far as our little cypher was involved, the only ones actually smoking were Peter, Zulian, myself, and a one Andrew Ruda who was apparently attending the school but lived off-residence, and had just decided to stay for the night and make himself at home wherever he could. But he would go on to become a good friend of ours over the years as well. I remember the others all trying to tell me how to spoke properly by inhaling deeply and holding the smoke in my lungs for as long as I could. I had only smoked a cigarette or two prior to that, and so I really didn’t know what I was doing. But when it was all said and done, we all had gotten our fair share of hits off the hand-rolled marijuana cigarette and then collectively made our way back inside to keep drinking. I had heard a large percentage of people agree that they hadn’t gotten high they’re first two or three times smoking, so I was unsure of what to expect. As I was so inebriated beforehand, the joint just seemed to put me in sort of a haze, and I’m unsure as to whether I was actually high or not.
We all continued to drink slowly and about two hours later, I remember Peter rolled a second joint, but even after that I wouldn’t be able to decisively say if I actually took the hits properly or under the influence of the drug. But I decided I wouldn’t worry about it, and ended up passing out on the floor of Peter’s and Zulian’s dorm room as I often did. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a slight hangover the next morning, but it was actually rather tolerable compared to some I had felt. I just felt a little tired and slow to respond to others, but I felt more reflective. I sensed that there had been this change that had taken place in my life, but I thought back on how much I had achieved already – that could never be taken from me, regardless of any changes that occurred. I spent the day with my friends and that night we drank some more and then tried the process again. Thinking back on it, I don’t know how Peter ever got three full joints out of one single nickel bag, but he always was conservative and efficient with his weed.
I’m prone to say that I did end up getting high that night, even if I didn’t realize it right away. I base my conclusion on the fact that I ended up eating an entire bag of chips myself, and then passing out on my friend’s bed while a movie played on the television in the background. Maybe about an hour later I squinted my eyes open to see these shadowy figures standing over me. In my state of mind, I immediately freaked out, forgetting where I was and thinking that crystal meth dealers had come to kill me. I panicked and fell off the bed, drawing everybody’s attention before suddenly remembering where I was, causing me to laugh.
After that weekend, I started smoking marijuana quite regularly. It was almost every weekend at first, and I even felt like that was too often. I’ll be honest – I don’t know why, but I had a bit of a guilty conscience every time. Soon enough Nick got into smoking as well, and by Christmas, I was already smoking every day. I was certain that I had a newfound insight and pleasure in life. I loved my friends, my family, and my own life more than I would have ever imagined possible. Also, for someone with insomnia, I personally found no better sleep-aid.
I do believe that marijuana is the only drug that I’ve abused too recklessly. I know there are a lot of people out there who flat-out refuse to believe that’s possible, and part of the beauty of the drug is that it’s not chemically addictive like so many others. Even I don’t worry too much about addiction anymore, even though I continue to smoke daily. I’ve taken breaks, up to a year at a time at some points. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot since my time in college, when I insisted on having drugs every day. That’s still the way I prefer to live my life, but now if I don’t have the drugs, I just accept it and make do without. Embrace the darkness, and face the demons.
Nevertheless, I still feel like maybe I should have limited my drug use from the start, but I guess it’s too late for that now. I’ve been able to maintain control on everything else, even opiates. But marijuana has always been a weakness, ever since that first weekend I tried it. It seemed to unlock visions within me of a perfect world. I felt like my mind had been shattered; like everything I had been taught to know up to that point in my life was a lie.
As far as I was concerned, drugs were a key part of the formula for me right from the start; it was all just a matter of time. I had always been curious about how various drugs affected the body, and even to this day I will spend hours reading countless drug reports. I can’t say enough about my mother or ever give her the credit she deserves. She’s given me more than I can ever describe, but she was also very strict with my sister and I when we were growing up, and I can’t help but feel as if she was slightly more strict with me…or at least protective. I watched many of my friends and peers go through significant changes in their lives while I never felt like I really did much of anything outside of school.
Once I grew up I was going to do everything I had been missing out on excessively in order to make up for the missed time. I suppose that should have been a sign. I had always been curious about drugs. My intrigue for hallucinogens and psychedelics had dawned on me long before I ever used any illegal drug. I had researched LSD and psilocybin extensively online. I wanted to know as much about them as I possibly could, and became more and more interested as I discovered how powerful they could really be, and now I would add mescaline to that list as well. I think Hunter Thompson described it best in Fear and Loathing, when he recounts his night spent at the Matrix, during “the great San Francisco acid wave of nineteen-sixty eight.” He takes LSD in the bathroom with a fellow acid-freak, when a man in a business suit walks in, pauses and stares at them before turning and leaving.
With a bit of luck, his life was ruined forever. Always thinking that just behind some narrow door in all of his favourite bars, men in red woolen shirts are getting incredible kicks from things he’ll never know.
I think that was the part that astounded me the most about the psychedelic experience: its ability to really open one's mind and set one face-to-face with their subconsciousness. Upon doing excessive research and investigation on the topic before my first use, I felt like that businessman. I realized I was forced to accept there may be great potential for us to explore in these substances, but would our government, or those in charge ever admit this? I had a hard time believing it. These substances could provide us with deeper insight and allow us to change the way we feel. But I suppose it would be naïve to think everyone would use these chemicals for good, and I find it extremely foolish to try and make universal generalizations anymore. I can’t say psychedelic drugs will benefit everybody, because I can only speak on my own behalf, and say how they’ve affected my own mind.
But for the fraction of open-minded people who did use these drugs wisely, there was an unyielding bond created by them, and I wanted to be part of that fraction. We’re all different, but we really are all one in the same of a greater, overall consciousness. I wanted to feel something that words couldn’t describe. At least, I thought I did. Timothy Leary once said that four thousand years of known philosophy meant nothing after spending eight hours on acid. I felt these misjudged chemicals had the potential to teach us much. Unlike the businessman in Thompson’s masterpiece, I was still young. I still had time to depart on this pursuit of enlightenment, and I could only hope fate would be generous towards me. Thus, my keenness towards the subject was born and I was changed from then on.
A few months after I began smoking marijuana, I was introduced, once again by my friend, Peter, to Salvia Divinorum, laying the foundation for my next psychedelic experience past cannabis. I thought salvia would be the perfect start; a light introduction to the world of hallucinogens due to its short duration. When smoked, the onset is virtually immediate. As the overpowering effects take hold, the user is then pulled from their own state of personal consciousness and transported to a completely different dimension, which exists in a dreamlike state, composed entirely of jigsaw-resembling shapes and fear-provoking perceptions of Nature in its Totality. While rare, pleasurable experiences are possible with the drug. After a couple of low-dose, ‘trial runs’ with my friends, I concluded I would gain the most out of it if I did a breakthrough dose in complete isolation. I felt confident in my ability to take control of the trip if I could put on some gentle music and just lay own with my eyes closed. However, things would not turn out the way I had expected.
In my mind, the short duration made salvia the ideal solo-tripping drug. So on one weekend afternoon while I was alone in my dorm room, I packed the bowl of my small, silver steel pipe to the rim with the fine, black, 40X extract and began to play the song I am the Walrus on my laptop. With that, I sat on my bed and sparked a lighter, moving it to light the plant matter, inhaling deeply. Then, holding in the smoke, I carefully set my lighter and pipe to the side before I was yanked from reality, feeling the fast-rising vibrations behind my eyes.
Under its influence, I found myself unable to move, feeling the pressure of the entire universe; of all known existence and humanity and science and art since the beginning of time all bearing down on me as I fought against it, trying to lie down in my bed in order for the pleasant experience to begin. When I came to I was drenched in sweat. After ten to fifteen minutes the peak effects start to subside, and in this state I was finally able to shake off the insurmountable weight pushing against my back and bring myself to lay down flat. As soon as I did, I realized the absurdity and hilariousness of the situation, and a warm wave of euphoria and peacefulness washed over me as I slowly began to regain my surroundings. The afterglow is similar to that of a cannabis high, but somehow different. For me it provided a simple, pleasant feeling of ease with both the universe and myself. The first thing I did when I found myself in a coherent stage again was turn off the music, which had certainly not helped. The fear I had felt during the peak was unlike that which I had ever felt before, and after that I vowed I would never smoke salvia again.
Part One – The Preparations
Terrance McKinnon said, “I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience is like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.” After thinking and analyzing this quote endlessly for years and years in my own mind, I’m still not sure I would necessarily agree with it. I personally would say that discovering your sexuality is a much greater thing, and should be the top priority in everyone’s life, but I suppose that also may just be me. I can understand what McKenna was trying to say; the only way to every truly understand either act is through a firsthand experience.
The very first time I acquired psilocybin mushrooms, I remember feeling an almost unique sense of power. I would never wish to place myself on a level above that of my friends. I’m far from a perfect human being. I think it was more so just the fact that I now had access to provide us with a magical experience none of us knew. I had something brand new to us and potentially life-changing. I had to provide us all with a chance to see something no one else would ever be able to imagine, even in their craziest, most vivid dreams.
Purchasing the product had been a spur-of-the-moment decision. I had gone to see my regular dealer one night for a routine marijuana pick up. “Do you want to try mushrooms?” Dwayne, my dealer, asked me while I was at his house.
“Yes,” I nodded, without thinking twice.
“I picked them up for a friend who wanted them for New Year’s Eve,” Dwayne explained to me. “I still have some left over.” Without the slightest hint of hesitation I agreed to buy a gram of the mushrooms from his as well. I didn’t know when I wanted to do them, but I had decided that I definitely wanted to at some point in my life, so I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity. I couldn’t help but think about HST’s quote regarding LSD: “Jesus man! You don’t look for acid! Acid finds you when it thinks you’re ready.”
We made the transaction and then I thanked my dealer, bid him a good evening, and then left his house, the drugs secured safely in my jacket. It seemed like right away I noticed an alteration in my subconsciousness. Generally, after obtaining alcohol or marijuana I would be in a rush typically with anticipation to return home and immediately consume whatever I had just purchased. However, I found that wasn’t the case this time. I understood what I held in my pocket was a tool, meant to be treated with great respect, and just because I’d been given the chance to obtain such a perception-shattering chemical, didn’t necessarily mean I had to take it before I was prepared to.
I had to be responsible, I felt, as there were many precautions to take into consideration. Of course there was an underlying urge in me – I didn’t want to wait too long, but it was also something I was unable to do on impulse. It would take time to carefully prepare for something like this. One thing that worried me at the time was what I would do if word got out that I had the drug. I didn’t want that attention surrounding me. At the time, the laws regarding psychedelic drugs in Canada were ridiculous, and I remember hearing that if you were caught with something like a quarter ounce of mushrooms, you could face a sentence equivalent to a manslaughter charge. So I vowed that for the present time I would keep this little secret to myself, and I just prayed that Dwayne wouldn’t bring up the topic in conversations with any of our mutual friends. This anxiety simply came from the fact, again, that I hadn’t decided how or when or why or who I wanted to take them with. I felt like if my friends were aware of my possession, they would try to acquire some as well so that we could all do them together. However, this was something I was expecting to only try once, so I wanted that one time to be perfect. I desired the ability to tap into and unleash the full potential of this mystical plant, and initially I felt I may have a greater chance if I were to do so alone.
Before ever taking a new drug, I always make sure I fully dedicate and involve myself to doing as much learning and research as I possibly can beforehand. For those of you who have yet to experience this drug in its entirety, here’s the breakdown. Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound which can be found in several hundred different species of mushrooms. Once ingested, the acids in the stomach begin to breakdown the product, and as it’s metabolised by the body, the psilocybin in the mushrooms is converted to a chemical known as psilocin, the active ingredient which produces the famous effects, similar to those of LSD or mescaline. These effects vary greatly, of course, depending on set and setting and amongst users, and even throughout the course of a single trip.
However, generally there are still many shared effects, which may include such things as the overall sense of euphoria; visual, auditory and perceptual hallucinations; a distorted sense of time; and at large doses, out of body experiences and contact with the Higher Entity. Intensity and duration of the effects, or the ensuing, ‘trip,’ as it’s called, are also extremely variable, conditional to such things as the user’s personal, inclusive body type and gender, past experiences with psychedelics, and the dosage and strength of the mushrooms, which varies greatly between batches depending on how they were cultivated and the species of the mushrooms. After the body converts the product and the psilocin becomes active, it reacts with the serotonin receptors in the brain. In all, it takes anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes following ingestion for the chemical to fully take effect. By the second hour, or at least halfway through the third, the user’s peak experience should be well underway, and ideally they will have comfortably settled in to their environment.
Duration is largely dose-dependent, and in total a trip can last really anywhere from two to twelve hours. The average user will typically peak for about four hours, and then come down to baseline during the following hour or two; however, to the user under the influence, this may feel like lifetimes passing by. The drug has a phenomenally low toxicity level. In fact, LSD and psilocybin both pose a ‘median lethal dose,’ (or LD50) which is lower than that of marijuana. That is, in short, the amount of a substance needed to kill somebody, measured in milligrams and based on the user’s body weight. That means these traditional psychedelics are some of the safest drugs on the planet, presenting a much lower risk for dependence than substances such as nicotine, amphetamines or methamphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol…even cannabis. These traditional psychedelics are also virtually impossible to overdose on.
While still highly illegal around most of the world today, psilocybin has gained publicity and popularity as an entheogen and is currently being tested in science by medical professionals who’ve found it may harness the potential to treat mental diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism, cluster headaches, or anxiety. Recent studies from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine have actually found that roughly two thirds of those who’ve used these ‘magic mushrooms,’ undergo positive life changes, which last up to a year following the experience. It is, then, with little surprise that evidence suggests psilocybin has been an essential element of our world for thousands of years, often used for spiritual and divinatory ceremonies. Early recorded use of these psychoactive mushrooms dates as far back as nine thousand years before the Common Era, with indications on murals found in the Sahara desert which depict such visions as horned beasts dancing, clothed in eccentric, geometrical designs and grasping at mushroom-like objects. Aztecs used to refer to the sacred fungi as teonanácatl, which translates roughly to, “God’s flesh.” Modern day views have been drastically changed due to promotion in the mid-nineteen hundreds, as influential figures such as Albert Hoffman and Timothy Leary laid the foundation and paved the way for the counterculture movement and hippie era, becoming more involved with experimenting with these psychedelic compounds. Under the control of Leary, Harvard University actually became a testing ground for chemicals of such sort throughout the nineteen-sixties.
The effects of a psychedelic experience are highly variable and dependent upon the mindset of the user. Everything which plays an influence on the atmosphere: location, time of day, people involved, music, lighting, even the user’s recent experiences. It all comes into play to create the term referred to as set and setting. Leary and his colleagues at Harvard in the early sixties conducted countless experiments to determine how the set and setting ultimately influenced a trip. Also bear in mind this was during a time when the U.S. army was experimenting with LSD as a truth serum.
In one particular study, after administering psilocybin to a hundred and seventy five volunteers, those with prior experience to the drug were found to generally report a more pleasurable experience than those who were new to it. Such things as the size of the research group, the dosage, the preparation, and the expectancy of the effects were found to act as considerable dynamics which could drastically alter the outcome of a user’s experience. During these ludicrous studies, Leary found that smaller groups (those with fewer than six individuals), were found to be more supportive, and these patients generally reported a more positive reaction to the drug. Leary concluded that psychedelic drugs could greatly heighten sensitivity and make individuals more receptive to external stimuli. Upon ingesting the substance, the user may feel a wide range of effects, varying anywhere from feelings of disorientation, lethargy, giddiness, euphoria, joy and depression. Approximately thirty percent of Leary’s test subjects reported feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
At lower doses, the drug may lead to ‘intensification of affective responses, enhanced ability for introspection, regression to primitive and childlike thoughts, and activation of vivid traces with pronounced emotional undertones.’ As dosage increases, open-eye visuals may start to manifest themselves within the user’s field of sight, and these can actually become extremely intricate and detailed, though often distinguishable as a hallucination. Amongst the drug community, the commonly accepted incremental scale to distinguish the intensity of a psychedelic trip, in terms of weakest to strongest, is as follows: enhancement of mental visualization; partially defined imagery; fully defined imagery; partially defined breakthroughs; and finally, fully defined breakthroughs. Obviously the deeper one becomes involved in a trip, the stronger the visual aspects become. Common visuals include walls ‘waving’ or ‘breathing,’ objects melting, trails and tracers behind moving objects and lights, shifting colors, synesthesia, and many other effects.
The peak of a full breakthrough dose can be both hellishly frightening and unimaginably beautiful to the user stuck in the trip. At this level, all internal perceptual hallucinations and closed-eyed visuals overlap vividly with the real world, manifesting themselves as very intricate and detailed entities. To outsiders, the person tripping may appear to be completely incoherent or asleep, and those who’ve never experienced the drug firsthand before have no real comprehension how their words and actions can influence the user. For the record, I certainly do not recommend or condone taking a breakthrough dose of any psychedelic. A couple hours in a rotten trip can feel like an eternity and leave the user with an entirely different life.
Physically, the effects of psilocybin are weak and considered to be insignificant by most. Grogginess or a drunk-like state may be felt to some degree during the trip, though most of the time the user is too perplexed to even consider this. The most common physical reactions include: pupil dilation, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, changes in stretch reflex, tremors and dysmetria. Studies have found that, on average, a little over a quarter of users experience vomiting or nausea after ingestion, though this is believed to be caused by the fungi themselves and not the chemical which they contain. Perceptual distortions are vast and vary greatly between users, affecting each and every person in their own unique way.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there are absolutely no similarities. Psilocybin is known to commonly influence the subjective passage of time. Users may feel as if time has slowed down, resulting in the delusion that minutes run on for hours, or that time is standing still or repeating itself, stuck in an endless loop. As part of this, paranoia may set in if the user believes that the trip may never end. I certainly experienced this once or twice while experimenting with psychedelics and I have to say, when you’re stuck in a trip, that’s one of the worst feelings in the world.
I should mention as a side note here, if possible, it is always a good idea to keep benzodiazepines on hand while tripping. I sometimes have difficulty acquiring them, but they can certainly help to quickly pull the user from a bad trip. These include sedatives and downers; drugs such as Valium or Xanax. I can’t say that I approve of feeding more drugs to somebody who’s already having a negative drug reaction, but it can save lives in the event of a psychedelic crisis. In all fairness I don’t feel like I can say that these drugs will end a trip completely, but the vast majority of users agree that it helps calm nerves and anxiety, coaxing the user out of their personal hell. In lieu of benzodiazepines, opiates may work as a substitute for some people to help ease their minds and kill the intensity of their trip.
I personally have only used drugs to interfere with a psychedelic trip once, when I had no other choice, and there have been some instances where I would’ve liked to have that choice, but didn’t have any access to sedatives. What I’m trying to say is that I only do this as a last resort. With experience, users may actually learn how to help guide a trip; there’s several tricks that a turn a trip around in a hurry, either way. This goes back to set and setting. If you or someone you know starts to feel uncomfortable during a trip, it may often just be something minor that you’re neglecting because you’re so caught up in the trip at hand: change the light; change the music; change rooms or go outside; have a drink of water, or some fruit; use the bathroom.
But I digress. Back to the commonly accepted similarities of the drug, euphoria is often reported, as is feeling connected more to others and to the universe. Psilocybin, like most psychedelic drugs, also emphasizes whatever thoughts, feelings, or emotions the user already has – I cannot stress this point to you enough. Before I ever did the drug for myself, I thought I may be able to cope with tripping alone on it, but I would strongly discourage this idea. There’s nothing worse than feeling completely alone in this world when you’re fried out of your mind on conscious-altering chemicals. That’s why the right sort of mental preparation is key, and many experienced trippers recommend spending at least two or three days fasting and meditating prior to the experience. In my opinion, if there’s any doubt whatsoever, than it’s not worth doing.
I have nothing but the upmost respect for psychedelic compounds, probably more so than anything else on this planet. Under the proper discretion, they can lead to some of the most beautiful, introspective and thought-provoking places throughout all time and space. However, they can also be linked to some adverse psychiatric effects, especially in those with a predisposition to underlying psychological issues. If the user feels an exceptionally difficult time letting go of the experience afterwards, it is best recommended they consult a doctor as quickly as possible, as this may be an awakening to some unknown illness. Unless taken in extreme doses, the full effects of a trip should be over within a single day (or night), and the user will feel back to baseline after a full, eight hour sleep. It’s normal to feel an ‘afterglow,’ for the following day or two, which many people say they find uncomfortable. I agree the experience seems to drain the user mentally, and it is best to have nothing planned for at least a couple of days after dosing.
If there’s anything too noticeable that persists after this, then it really is best to consult a doctor. In my experience, it’s best to avoid over-preparing for a trip as well, especially for new users, because there’s simply never any way of knowing what to expect (though coincidentally, personal experience seems to suggest that a lot of people enjoy their first experience). However, one thing that can be counted on is that the experience will be life-changing, for better or for worse. Once it’s over and done with, it’s going to be impossible for the user to forget about it completely. In my case, I just tried to accept and embrace the experience for what it was worth and move on with my life, but don’t take it lightly. Adverse experiences can leave lingering mental effects for weeks or even months on end, and in the worst-case scenarios, lifetimes even.
One must not rush the experience! One should ensure they have adequate time to clear their mind of stress and confusion. Allowing oneself as much time as one needs, and once again I reiterate, if there’s a single shed out doubt in the mind, I think it’s best not to proceed. Extended hikes through nature was something I found worked well for me. Break away from the normal work cycle of my day to day life if I have to. Plenty of water and fruits and vegetables leading up to the experience has always proved to be beneficial in my experience as well. These drugs are more powerful than any single human can withstand, but generally speaking if the user respects the drug, they will reciprocate that respect back during their trip.
Obviously, the location of the experience will play an exceptional factor. A familiar, secure, clean location with no one unexpected is ideal. Typically, a person’s own home in a good place for them to start, as opposed, to say, some hotel room in an unknown town. University in general seemed to me like the ideal tripping atmosphere. We had to look out for one another as students and these drugs helped us do that. Feeling at ease in your surroundings while on psychedelics cannot be stressed enough.
Preferably, the user should be somewhere they can come and go at will without the fear of being interrupted by others. The outdoors and nature in general can be a very enthralling and a divine-like experience while on psychedelics, and the indoors can quickly grow dull and boring. The onset of a psychedelic experience is unlike anything else. Taken orally, the first twenty minutes is all waiting, and any effects felt are nothing greater than a placebo. At the thirty minute mark, depending on dosage and substance, and if the user hasn’t eaten anything else, the first subtle effects may start to become noticeable, but mushrooms rarely act this quickly. I would that the come-up on mushrooms lasts sixty to ninety minutes, on average.
The initial effects tend to be subtle at first: enhancement of colors; heightened appreciation for music; perception of detail or textures (for example, focused-in on carpets or popcorn ceilings); and euphoria seem quite common. During my first mushroom trip, the instant that I began to notice these preliminary effects, I immediately understood the characteristics of psilocybin visuals. As the high gradually came on, I found it easy enough to settle into the rhythm and pace of the trip. Especially with my friends right there, it seemed like we were all able to keep each other in check. I don’t know if others would disagree, but as far as my personal experience goes, I find that the onset of a psilocybin high is actually quite fun and pleasurable, and I feel like most users are able to gauge their reaction to the drug rather quickly. As soon as I felt the first effects, I surrendered myself entirely, knowing any efforts to fight the experience were futile. The chemical takes over the user’s body and mind, inducing an almost hypnotic, dreamlike state.
Again, with experience one can learn how to help guide a psychedelic experience, but anybody, even the most seasoned veterans, can still sometimes lose a handle on their thoughts if caught up too deeply in a trip. However, for the most part at pre-breakthrough doses, the user retains a sense of reality and wise decision-making skills. It didn’t, for example, make me believe I could fly like so many smear campaigns use to try and prevent drug use. Some experienced trippers disconnect their doorbells or turn off their phones prior to trips. I’ve tripped many, many times, both with friends and alone. After all these years, I maintain that unless you’re certain you know what you’re doing, tripping alone is never a good idea. Only trip alone if you’re 110% certain, and maybe not even then. But for those of you out there who blatantly disregard this message, please for the love of God at least let someone know what you’re doing ahead of time. Have a friend or someone you trust on-hand; someone you can call or possibly visit with if the trip does turn sour.
I’ve heard stories of brave souls tripping on airplane flights. I’ve never really considered myself claustrophobic, but I don’t think I would never be able to do that. I’m sure if I could muster up the courage then it’d be one hell of an experience though. Maybe that’ll be my next idea for a book. I just feel like the very understanding that there’s no escape if something did go wrong would be enough in and of itself to cause a disturbing trip. Thousands of feet above land isn’t exactly an environment I would call relaxing, but that’s just me.
A lot of people like to have a designated room for tripping, and this can be an excellent idea if the user has the means to do so. It can act as a base point and familiar, comforting area during trips. Trippers who have these types of rooms will often have them decorated with posters, stickers, neon colors, flags, beads, curtains, blankets, and of course lights. The possibilities for lights seem nearly endless: black lights; LED and stringed lights; strobe lights; lava lamps; and of course, black lights. Also, as a little tip, pick up some glow sticks before tripping. Incense or other such things can provide an improved atmosphere and experience as well.
Most users agree that they don’t find themselves very hungry during the psychedelic experience, as they are too caught up in the trip. However, I recommend stocking up on at least some light snacks ahead of time, and bottled water. The textures of food can be extraordinary while stoned on psychedelics, and in my experience fresh fruits tend to be the best snacks available. As for apparel, it’s best to wear something comfortable and loose-fitting which can be slipped on and off effortlessly. Remember, there’s probably a likely chance you’ll fall asleep in what you’re wearing.
I find it best to do something during the onset that will help to distract me and take my mind off the drugs. One thing you want to avoid is spending all night questioning whether or not you’re actually high. Some of my favorite activities include writing, drawing, playing guitar, or just watching some animation. If you choose to stay indoors, in my personal opinion the most is gained from a trip by removing all external distractions (all lights, computer, television, etc.) and surrendering entirely to the void during the peak. Nature is phenomenal on psychedelics, and the outdoors can provide a truly surreal experience.
The music selection for a trip is one of the most important decisions there is as well. There is literally no way of describing how emotional and powerful music can feel to a person under the influence of these conscious-shattering drugs. I would say that it’s useful to have a playlist set before the experience begins. Don’t rush the choice of songs, and if you plan on tripping with friends, make sure you all agree on the decisions. How to describe the sound of music during a psychedelic trip? This is tricky, but I would say it can be scary as all hell, or soothing enough to bring the user to a place of eternal paradise. We all know how much music has the potential to influence our feelings even when we’re sober, and the main side effect of these chemicals is that they amplify whatever the user’s already feeling.
Over the years, several different styles of psychedelic genres of music have come and gone, and music selected should reflect the result the user wishes to experience. The best music seems to be that which isn’t too loud, or fast, or noisy, or confusing; something calm and peaceful works the best. Something unstructured that can stay on in the background, if desired. Ambient music seems like the best choice, or psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd, my first choice of music when on psychedelics. Ethno music from different cultures also tends to be a popular choice, as some users feels as if it allows different cultural spiritual insights to occur. Other sound effects can be fun to experiment with too, like the sound of raindrops, but of course nothing beats the plain silence which can induce the deeply intense visions and awareness.
During the trip itself, it is often unrecognized but crucial to remember that the user does have the ability to directly control the course of the trip themselves. The intense, abstract thoughts and visuals that come and go leave in user in a sense of awe. They may feel like they are simply following some mystic, preordained pathway through an abyss of the unknown. However, as I’ve mentioned, with experience comes the knowledge of how to guide a trip, and changing the course of a psychedelic experience is easy, provided the user doesn’t forget it’s possible. It is recommended that the user decides and focuses on what they wish to see and where they wish to go before the experience. This can be why meditation proves helpful.
Above all, if one ever find oneself trapped in an uncomfortable trip, they should try to remember that they are merely on a drug, the effects will eventually subside, and do not panic. Sometimes this can be difficult to remember onerself though, which is why it’s always a good reason to have a sitter or friend tripping also. Again, tips for trying to improve an unsatisfying trip: try eating something or having a glass of water; use the bathroom; go outside or change rooms; turn the heat or light on or off accordingly. Often any of these minor changes may be more than enough to shake the feelings of unease. If these tricks don’t work, then there may be a real problem, and the best thing the user can do is try to rationally trace the anxiety back to the root cause.
If a trip does turn truly bad, there’s really not much the user can do except sit back, fasten their seatbelt, prepare for the ride, and pray that they come out alive on the other side, preferably with their sanity intact, but not necessarily. It’s important to understand that, considering the duration of a full-length trip, most experiences are not entirely positive or negative – both typically go through waves; ups and downs; highs and lows. However, negative trips or negative aspects of trips are generally categorized into three main groups: mild, moderate, and extreme. The characteristics of an extreme bad trip include: uninhibited terror; unresponsiveness to any verbal or physical communication; foetal position or extreme behaviour (running around screaming or taking off clothes); incoherent speech; lack of logical content to sentences; yelling or screaming; intense preoccupation with delusions; and no regard for their personal safety. These may be experiences that the user will never be able to fully recover from.
In exceptionally bad cases, the user may find themselves in a terrorized, panic-stricken state of mind while under the influence, leading to persisting violence, aggression, homicidal and/or suicidal attempts, prolonged schizophrenia-like psychosis, and convulsions in a small percentage of users according to the medical community says. Other adverse effects that have been reported include paranoia, confusion, derealisation, disconnection from reality, and mania, and the user may also feel a temporarily induced state known as depersonalization disorder. As with LSD, flashbacks are possible long after the active effects of the psilocybin has worn off. These flashbacks may include spontaneous recurrences of previous psychedelic experiences, causing the user to, suddenly and unexpected, feel as though they are once again under the effects of psilocybin. As with any psychedelic compound, continual presence of visual disturbances may occur. This unique phenomenon is known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, and may include things such as a permanent susceptibility of seeing certain, minor open and closed eyed visual distortions or patterns, and is generally described by the patient as almost pleasant or fun.
Mushrooms and acid will open your doors of perception, and once open, you can never truly close them again. These are more than a purely recreational drug.
Following ingestion, the initial effects of the psilocybin may be felt after ten to twenty minutes. Some users insist that when it comes to mushrooms, holding them in your mouth longer causes a faster onset. Unusual thought may enter and leave the mind rapidly. The user may find themself feeling very relaxed or hyper. I’m not so sure about this, but mushrooms that are swallowed without being chewed finely may take up to ninety minutes to become fully active. In most cases, the user should be notices subtle changes within the first twenty minutes. If it’s your first time tripping, it’s recommended to take the drug on an empty stomach and limit the amount of moving you do during the onset, as this can help reduce almost all nausea. Most users who experience it say that it doesn’t last very long anyways. I can’t speak from experience, because I’ve never really felt any nausea on psilocybin.
Less food in one's system also correlates to a more powerful trip. After forty minutes, the psychedelic experience slowly begins to draw the user into its embrace. The first real signs are simple, close-eyed hallucinations of sorts, such as little, coloured floating pixels. About sixty minutes in, the more powerful effects begin to take hold. The body may begin to feel heavy and drowsy at this point, and visual hallucinations may begin to occur. Two hours in and onward marks the peak of the experience. No moral words are able to recapture or describe this part. It is, truly, just a remarkable experience. Even negative trips have the ability to teach more than anything else we can imagine.
About five or six hours after the ingestion of most doses, the user reaches the deceleration or comedown phase, as the effects slowly begin to fade. In this stage, one may start to remember the concept of traditional reality, and feel like getting something to eat or drink. Often there will be an overwhelming urge to talk to someone and share what the user has just experienced as they come gradually back down to their pivotal point of consciousness. This drug shatters the mind into thousands of shards and then pieces them all back together one at a time. This can feel very overwhelming to the user at the time, and would be yet another reason I recommend tripping with a friend. It seems to help if I have someone who I can relate with.
After six hours, most effects should have disappeared and sleep is possible. Most scientists and psychonauts seem to agree that sleep is needed before the mind is fully back to baseline. Personally I hate trying to sleep while coming down from a trip. I’m so alive with energy from what I’ve just seen and experienced and learned, the last thing I want to do is sleep. However, once I do finally calm myself enough to sleep, I usually get some of the best sleeps of my life following psychedelic trips. I’m just so filled with understanding and peace; my sleep’s not disturbed by minor day to day worries like it normally is. The afterglow of the experience may persist anywhere from a few days to several of weeks, and what one learns may change their life forever.
A battle raged on in my head for weeks as I tried to decide who I should take the drugs with, if I should even take them at all. I refused to be tempted to ingest this powerful psychoactive substance until I knew in my soul the time was right. I was unsure when that would be, but felt like when the time came, I would simply know. Fortunately, I had found while doing my research that dried mushrooms stayed edible for years, provided you keep them out of the light, heat and moisture. While researching the drug, I managed to find several reports from people who had admitted to have taken it alone the first time, and I was still even considering that option myself. I would indeed have to be strong minded to succeed in such a feat.
On one hand, I knew that my first experience with psilocybin would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and an introduction to a completely new world. I knew that being with close friends who were also tripping for the first time would cement us as one with such a unique milestone and bond. Those experienced in the field of psychedelia describe experiencing such phenomena as reading each other’s thoughts and being on the exact same wavelength as their fellow trippers. The virtually omnipotent connection to everyone and everything is a highly regarded, accepted influence of the drug. I had heard that such experiences could form friendships unmatched by anything else. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Amidst my circle of friends, we all knew each other posed an interest in experimenting with these harder psychedelics and originally we had to take them together if the right opportunity ever presented itself. Also, from reading stories of other’s experiences, I felt like if I did decide to trip alone, I would have wished I had chosen otherwise once in the intoxicated state. This drug was a gift meant to be shared. On the other end of the spectrum, I felt that tripping alone could be a truly remarkable experience, allowing me to ponder all the crazy introspection at my own rate. Tripping alone, I’d be able to ensure I was completely comfortable, doing whatever I wanted to do most. At the time, I thought my ideal trip consisted of lying in bed, listening to Pink Floyd in the background and watching intense closed-eyed visuals in awe. Once I found myself actually doing this under the influence however, I could only endure it for maybe ten or fifteen minutes at the most, which felt like hours before I became too frightened or uncomfortable.
I understood and respected that this drug was much riskier when used alone, and if a bad trip were to result there’d be no telling what would happen, especially with no one else there to talk me back to reality. A bad trip could quickly spiral out of control, especially for a newcomer. I knew that if I did choose to trip alone, I would be taking a foolish gamble with my own sanity, but felt like I’d be able to handle it in the end. I had grown accustomed to feeling isolated over the course of my entire life, and I had almost completely convinced myself that I enjoyed it. I suppose that, deep down, I knew myself well enough to know this wasn’t honestly the case. I still had nothing but love for my friends, and it wouldn’t be right to keep such a gift from them. Hell, I still hadn’t even fully decided if I was going to do the drug yet.
I was trying to get my mind in the proper state for the experience, as I knew the drug had the potential to cause underlying mental problems to come to the forefront of the user’s consciousness. Looking back, I probably should have known that my life was too unorganized to proceed with tripping, but then again, if I hadn’t of tripped, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And it had been shown to have a long term, positive personality change in the majority of users, I kept telling myself. In the end, I concluded that I would want to tell my friends about the experience once it was over, and I didn’t want them to feel excluded.
Part Two – The Test Phase
I took heed of the multiple warnings I had read while conducting my pre-psychedelic experience research. This was not a substance to abuse or take lightly. It had the potential to unlock the unique depths of the subconscious which most people would never get the chance to experience. Psilocybin, and psychedelic drugs in general, right from classic cannabis all the way up to ego-obliterating DMT were mind-expanding chemicals that will treat you with respect if you treat them the same way. After initially obtaining the mushrooms, I safely packed them away, patiently waiting for whenever the time seemed right, may it be days, months or years down the line. I just knew that I would know when the timing was right.
Originally, I considered dosing on my upcoming spring break, when I would have several consecutive days off, roughly three months after I had made my first purchase from Dwayne. I kept the idea in the back of my mind, but kept reminding myself to wait until I was certain the time was right. This wasn’t something I could control; it was fate. You don’t find psychedelics; they find you when they think you’re ready. As weeks passed, my curiosity continued to grow. I continued to hold on to the idea of tripping during my spring break, as there seemed to be no better excuse to use them sooner. I had, however, determined that I would like to take the opportunity experience a, ‘trial run,’ of sorts by ingesting a small dosage about a week or so prior to my full-blown trip, simply to gain an idea of how I would respond to the chemical, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
While I had the mushrooms stored away, questions were endlessly running through my head: how would I know when the time was right; should I do them alone, or find someone to act as a sitter; if I did need a sitter, who on earth did I trust enough to look out for me while I was in such an incoherent state? They seemed to go on forever. For about a full month after the purchase I didn’t mention it to anybody. Then finally, one fateful night, on January 24th, 2012 I was sitting at home, relaxing in my bedroom when my two close friends, Peter and Zulian, dropped in to get high. They were two of the most popular students on my campus, and had been the two who had originally introduced me to weed, and they would always have that place in my life.
I had remembered reading that tripping with close friends proved to be a significantly better experience than tripping alone, particularly if it was the first time for all parties involved. The three of us were sitting around watching television, stoned out of our minds in silence. I gave my following course of action much thought. It was much sooner than I had originally expected, but something told me the time was right, in the presence of these good friends. These were the people I wanted to explore the spiritual realm of eternity with.
“So…” I eventually brought up the topic really casually. “Dwayne had mushrooms.” I decided to gauge their initial reaction first.
“I think he still has some,” Peter said.
“Does he?” I asked, rummaging around in my stash box. A second later I retrieved the magical fungus I had been hiding, concealed tightly in a translucent, yellow, plastic dime-bag. I held it up to the light and began to examine its inner contents as Peter and Michael continued smoking, passing a pipe back and forth.
“We should see if we can get some,” Peter continued, before he eventually glanced up to notice the small bag I was holding. “Those are nice buds too,” he said, mistaking the contents at first through the dark plastic. I nodded and smiled, just waiting for it. I could tell he was inspecting the bag closely and it only took a moment or two before it dawned on him. “Or are those mushrooms?” he eventually asked, with a certain sense of shock in his voice.
“Yeah,” I nodded, tossing the bag over to him. In a single instant we could all feel the collective atmosphere in the room change. My two friends sat in disbelief for a brief moment before they ripped the bag open and examined the strange fungus, smelling it and inspecting it closely in the light. I was suddenly excited about sharing this new substance that could only be described as magical; a special gift crafted by the hands of the gods themselves and passed down for humans to enjoy, but only for the select, privileged few. I was now unsure of the dosing, as I had purchased only a single gram, thinking it may be enough for an individual dose. However, spaced out between two people, it would be an ideal dose to use for my test run.
Neither of my friends said anything, as they sat in silent contemplation for a long moment. Michael was the first one to speak again. He asked Peter what time he was supposed to catch the bus home for the night. “Ten fifteen,” Peter answered. “But if I do ‘shrooms I’ll be staying here tonight.”
It suddenly became apparent to me how serious this had become so quickly. From my research I knew that half a gram was nowhere near enough to actually experience a full-on trip. But it was surely enough to feel some minor effect, and I was unsure how strong they would actually become. It really depends upon the user, but generally psychedelic drugs aren’t a spur of the moment decision. I had thrown a challenge at Pete in his mind, and he accepted without question. I was trapped in my own course of action now, and there was no way out.
I began to grow nervous, though I had no doubt I wanted to do the drug, and that it would be better with my two good friends than anyone else. Again, the room fell silent. Peter sat back, facing the same internal conflict and debate that I was. His leg was shaking and I could feel my palms growing sweaty. This lasted for a while, and the two of us thought about the consequences of our impending actions.
Once in a while somebody would speak up. Zulian had made it clear he wasn’t going to dose with us, but was more than happy to sit for us. Occasionally I would pipe-up, stating one or two things that I had learned about the drug over the course of my research which I felt may be beneficial for them to know before heading into the experience, but these feeble attempts at conversation were usually greeted with little enthusiasm or response as each of our minds raced, all far too caught up in our own thoughts. After a long time, Peter finally came to the decision that he would do a small dose of the drug if I did some too. I agreed, stating we could always eat more mushrooms later on if we really wanted to, however that’s not entirely true. Like a lot of other psychedelics, tolerance builds quickly and so the initial dose is essentially all the user will feel, unless of course they take an outrageous amount.
Michael took a whiff from the bag of mushrooms before passing it to Peter, who poured a small amount out onto the table and ate one immediately. “Okay,” said Martin, exchanging looks with him. Fuck, I thought, and with that quickly scooped one up off the table, placing it in my mouth. Between the two of us, Peter and I quickly finished off the modest pile. I had heard all sorts of hype about how awful psychedelic mushrooms tasted, but I didn’t think it was anything too terrible. I can recall Peter complaining of the foul taste though.
He tapped a second pile, equally as large as the first, onto the table once again before resealing the bag and handing it back to me. It was consumed just as quickly as the first, and Peter told me to pour out one last, small bit. I emptied the remainder of the bag onto the surface, and soon it, too, was gone. Of course we had no idea what to expect, and, despite such a low dose, I had still grown excited with the anticipation of a possible psychedelic experience. In the end, we were ultimately disappointed with the lack of effects, although, as it turned out, there was still much to be learned, even from this trial.
Thirty minutes after ingestion, both of us still felt nothing and we concluded that we hadn’t taken enough. After sixty minutes there was still nothing. I tried my hardest to convince myself I was off baseline, but knew I wasn’t feeling anything more than placebo effects. Eventually we just grew tired; Zulian went home and Peter went to sleep on my couch. As I lied in bed, I still stayed awake for a short period of time, still filled with traces of anticipation in undying hopes that the drug might yet still sneak up on me, but to no avail.
The next morning, I felt a certain sense of peace within me, a commonly reported after-effect of the drug. I knew it certainly wasn’t the afterglow that would come with the full experience. Perhaps it was no more than my mind playing tricks on me once again, psychologically feeling wiser at its discovery of something new. Whatever it was, it was there and it was something positive so I tried to hold on to the feeling for as long as I could. I tried to allow myself to stay more open-minded.
Peter and I both agreed that this test run had been the perfect way to remove any fear or anxiety we were feeling the first time, which would prove to benefit us during the full-blown trip. As with any new substance, it’s only common sense to start with a low dose and work your way up. Of course, it’s impossible to try and predict how any trip would go anyways. After discussing it further, we both agreed we’d like to try it again, and that we would try to obtain more of the drug for the full experience the following week, if we weren’t busy.
Part Three – The Experience
Little did I know that only two days later, I would be experiencing the intrinsic depths of this mind-bending phenomenon to a much fuller extent. The morning following my trial run, I received text messages from each of my friends who had been with me the night before. They informed of a live concert by the Sheepdogs taking place the following night at a local venue, and asked me if I wanted to get tickets to go with them. Naturally I did, so come the following day, I only had one short class, then was off until the following Monday – a perfect stretch of downtime. My mind was focused solely on the concert, and the rest of my afternoon was wasted in a rather improvident manner; I didn’t feel like doing anything, and passed away the time by smoking weed.
I picked up a ticket for the concert the next day and the next day, a couple of hours before the doors opened, Peter sent me a message asking if I wanted to do mushrooms at the show. I replied right away with a, “yes.” It hadn’t even been a question. I could feel this was the right time. I had the following three days off and was ready to see what kind of magic and secrets the drug had locked away, or so I thought. I called my friend and we made arrangements for the night.
I departed from my house to meet him and Michael. It was a cold and rainy January 26th. I still had a little bit of the drug left over from our previous, botched attempt, but knew I would still need more to be sure I got the experience I wanted. I stopped in at a local gas station near the campus, where all the students went to buy cigarettes and blunt wraps and pipes and withdrew a twenty dollar bill from the automated teller machine before continuing down the street to meet up with my friends. I arrived at my friends’ house and briefly visited with everyone for a minute before leaving with Peter to our dealer’s house. We kept the walk and the deal itself as concise as possible, grabbing what we needed, exchanging the money, and then heading back to the house to regroup.
Once we got back, Peter proceeded to roll a large joint for us to smoke at the concert, and we each took a couple of preshow hits from Zulian’s pipe. Peter and I then took a seat at the table, the focus of everyone’s attention as we broke out the bags of powerful hallucinogens we had just acquired. “Time for desert,” Peter laughed as we tore open the bags, indulging in the substance. For the record, our official time of dosing somewhere around the 7:30 p.m. mark. I knew the drugs would take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour to kick in, and while I knew I was generally able to control myself while in public, the only thing that caused me some anxiety was the thought of the security and coat check we had to go through when we arrived at the bar, our minds already obscured under the influence of these mind-altering chemicals I had never experienced before.
Since Peter and I were already on drugs, it somehow became logical that it was Michael’s responsibility to smuggle the joint into the show, which he willingly accepted. The walk to the bar and the waiting in line to get in were nothing out of the ordinary – it was still too early for any noticeable effects, and we were each rather quiet, eagerly awaiting the live music. We were delayed, and the doors didn’t end up opening until about half an hour later than they were originally supposed to. I was simply trying to keep myself in reality, which was still easy for the time being. I was excited though, ready for the onset at any minute.
At last, the doors opened and, after several minor disruptions, the three of us finally made it inside with the joint intact. We found a table and took a seat, each with a free beer in our possession that the staff had been handing out. We still had about thirty minutes before any of the bands began to play, and both Peter and I still felt relatively sober. I just wanted to smoke the joint, as I had heard that often helped bring on the start of a trip. As we sat in the booth, drinking our beers, we kept a close watch over the smoker’s area outside, trying to determine if any smokers or security guards were present.
We took our time, and wanted to be as cautious as possible, so we held back and each took two more free beers. As we drank them, Peter and I could each definitely feel something unknown reacting with the alcohol in our systems. The atmosphere of the bar was a prime first example of how set and setting laid the foundation for a psychedelic experience. It was still far too early to notice many deeper effects, still no visuals, but our levels certainly were off baseline and I could feel a certain sense of frivolity, and Peter agreed. However, I maintained my annoying level of comprehension for the joint which Michael concealed in his jacket pocket.
I knew it would spark the effects of the already-working psychedelic chemicals being processed in our bodies, but Michael continued to insist we wait until later, once it was less busy. I probably should have listened. Regardless, we inspected the smoking area to find that, for a brief moment, it was empty and we proceeded outside where we huddled in an isolated corner. Peter lit the joint, and we each had the chance to take a couple of hits before two security guards started making their way from the front entrance, over towards us. We were completely fucked. As one guard approached us, the joint had found its way back to Peter’s hand.
“You’re going to have to leave,” we were told, sternly. I had nothing to say. Michael stayed silent as well. Peter talked to the employee for a moment, making a feeble attempt at pleading with him to let us stay, but they weren’t listening to us. Our coat-check tickets were collected while we stood waiting out in the cold. We turned and left in a defeated manner once our coats had been returned.
I apologized profusely, and since my house was the closest, invited Peter and Michael back there to smoke more. I felt bad, more so for my friends than for myself. I couldn’t help but feel they had been much more heart-set of seeing the band perform than I was, although I must admit the experience would have been unmatchable while on this drug. As we made our way back to my place to smoke in peace, Peter commented once or twice on the sudden increase of effects he felt, and admitted I had been right in my hypothesis that smoking would surely help quicken the pace of the onset. As we entered through my front door, he crashed to the floor in an incoherent daze as we both started laughing. “If this is what shrooms are like, than I fucking love shrooms!” laughed Peter.
“I fucking love shrooms!” I repeated, shouting throughout the house. I cracked the window, retrieved my bong and began to grind a modest amount of weed. We settled in for the peak of our trip. I still wasn’t feeling much, but a couple hits from the bong resolved the issue completely. We spent the next few hours in our childlike regressions, watching animated video clips online, safely inside. Personally, I was too caught up in my mental state to even be concerned with what was on the screen. I just tried allowing myself to enjoy this powerful yet incredible experience with those closest to me.
As the substance took hold of my brain, the colours in the animation seemed to stand out, becoming much more vivid. I appreciated every line drawn in all forms of art so much more, and felt as if I could finally understand everything completely: the arrangement of colours on the screen, the fictional characters’ dialogue, and my friends and I here in this time and place in the universe to see it. Colourful patterns stood out, and it was as though I could tell which colours fit together. I understood my companions were probably lost in their own thoughts, and we continued like this in relative silence. Not much needed to be said.
The first time trying this drug is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I was just thankful to have such accepting friends with me, along for the ride. At one point I distinctively remember looking over at Michael. I thought to myself how much he would enjoy and how much he would gain from such a rare opportunity. “Man, someday…” was all my mind was able to bring myself to articulate to him in that moment, as my thoughts trailed off again instantly. I had intended to speak again, but as I was trying to find the right words, I recall Michael spoke up before I had the chance.
“Someday,” he replied, knowing exactly what I was trying to ask.
Gradually my friends grew tired, or perhaps just wanted a change of scenery. Either way, I agreed that the time had probably come to go our separate ways. They had a five minute walk back to their house and at the moment, a walk outside while tripping sounded pretty fun to me, so I choose to go with them, at least part way. It had turned colder since we had been kicked out of the concert, and had begun to heavily rain as well, but I didn’t mind one bit. I loved being out in the raw elements of nature.
We soon arrived at their house. I didn’t stay long – just long enough to get warm and dry off from the rain a little bit. We laughed about stories from earlier that evening and prepared to say goodnight. I forget why now, but I do remember that he refused to tell Michael’s other roommates that we got kicked out of the concert, and when we did get back to the house and were asked how it was, we just pretended we had been there all night. I was moving at a slow pace, and was completely lost in thought, caught up in the beauty of just about everything that was going on around me. After a short moment, I bid my friends farewell, then left, embarking on the lone journey back to my house, feeling pretty tired and starting to come down, but definitely still experiencing a state of more fluid, abstract thoughts than usual.
I felt as if I was experiencing all the magic of the universe firsthand. Perhaps this was too much for my mind to handle. I began to consider that, perhaps as mortals, there’s a certain limit on how much we’re supposed to know and see – in fact, I can guarantee there is. I slowed my pace as I walked down the dark, quiet street alone, stoned out of my mind. I contemplated my existence and thought about how I always seemed to find myself in a rush, always looking ahead to the next place I was supposed to be – out of the rain; the next promotion or house or girlfriend. A vast proportion of that stemmed from the culture that I had been raised in, based on schedule and order, instead of freedom and love and life.
As I approached my house from down the street, I could hear the faint sound of an acoustic guitar that grew louder as I drew nearer, yet continued to resonate the same soft, smooth tune. It was coming from one of my roommate’s bedrooms. There is no way to describe how I felt at that moment. The emotions were overwhelming and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility with my personally-constructed, surrounding universe. All energy flows according to the whims of the great Magnet. I got home and sat outside, lighting up a cigarette on my patio with the sound of the raindrops falling in the background, contemplating what I had experienced over the course of the night, and how I could use it to help better myself.
Drugs are always a double-edged sword. They may have the potential to unlock great insight or allow the user to feel great joy, but these benefits don’t come without a price. I felt as if I could finally understand why people smoked cigarettes. I had smoked on and off for years and never found any difficulties with controlling my use of tobacco prior to that night. As I sat there, strung out of my mind on the psilocybin, the cigarette in my hand which occasionally greeted my lips was absolutely mesmerizing.
It seemed to have no taste. No matter how many drags I took, it refused to grow shorter, not that I’m complaining. I watched the smoke dance off the end, and the embers shifting in hue as they softly glowed, from oranges to yellows and reds. I had no concerns. No fears or anxiety or responsibilities. I was simply one with the universe in my life.
As the cigarette burnt to its end, I decided to have another one, but retrieve my laptop from my room first in order to listen to whatever music I wanted. On the way up to my room, I ran into one of my roommates, Emil, and proceeded to pause to have an interesting conversation with him. This drug was incredible for conversations. The way it amplifies emotions truly provides a way to connect with others that’s just not possible otherwise. Something crucial to remember about drugs is that once an individual has tried a drug, that will always be part of their life regardless of what they do in the future.
The thing is, as humans we’re constantly changing – our thoughts are constantly changing; our bodies are constantly changing; and our outlooks and perspectives on life are constantly changing. That’s true whether an individual’s high on drugs or not. And while some people may think or act or respond differently on different substances, or learn lasting lessons from certain drugs, I don’t believe it’s right to judge someone based on what drugs they use, though some drugs, predominantly psychedelics, do certainly seem to help unlock mental gateways; doors of perception, as Aldous Huxley called them. And that evening, I was feeling an indescribable connection and sense of love to everything around me. I didn’t want to hurt anybody.
After taking the time to talk to Emil, I ran upstairs, grabbed my laptop, and headed back outside once again, lighting a second cigarette to the Pink Floyd song Time. Over the years that song truly laid the foundation of my personal philosophies, and was one of my favorite pieces of music ever created. I thought about my personality traits and how uptight I could be, always in a rush and I had to accept that time had no meaning. As I finished the cigarette and headed back inside, I noticed that one of my other roommates, Nick, was still awake. He had been the one who had been playing guitar when I had first returned home.
The two of us had been fighting a lot recently, and I could feel this was the time, granted to me to make amends. After all, it wasn’t every day you get to apologise to somebody while tripping on drugs. He opened his door and walked out of the room just as I was approaching to knock, greeting me face to face. I embraced him in a hug and said that I was sorry for all the animosity. He thanked me and with that I headed to bed, scribbling while watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas played in the background before eventually passing out around three o’clock that morning.
Part Four – The Afterglow and Lead-Up to a More Powerful Experience
The following morning, I awoke in my bed around seven o’clock, after only three or four hours of sleep. Nevertheless, I still felt incredible with an amazing afterglow, similar to that which comes in the days following the first time trying marijuana. All of the feelings from the night before were quickly fading, but still remained within me, clearly warping my mind in an enlightening, permanent way. Whether this change would prove to be for the better or for the worse, it was still impossible to say. On one side of the scale I could feel my mind more opened and I felt a certain underlying, empathetic characteristic towards others. On the other hand, however, all of the bitterness and anger; loneliness and angst had all been emphasized equally as much.
Either way, in the end I acknowledged that it was an experience I could learn much from. These renewed feelings of tolerance, open-mindedness, peace and acceptance towards other gradually faded over the course of the following week, but as it would prove, would cause a more substantial, long-term impact on me than I could have realised at the time. Still, as time passed I became caught up in the day to day struggle of my own personal world once again, and I still heard a voice that whispered from deep within the back of my mind to dive even further down this proverbial rabbit hole and, no more than a month later, Peter and I were at it again, trying to obtain the sacred fungi.
The following is the first draft I scripted in the wake of my second successful experience with psilocybin. It has been copied the way I originally documented it, unedited, in order to capture that same essence in which it was written.
I contacted my dealer at around four o’clock in the afternoon, asking if I would be able to come by to purchase some mushrooms. Sixty minutes and twenty dollars later and I was walking back from his house, three grams of the magical fungus concealed safely in my pocket, my body physically exert with the anticipation and excitement of what my night held in store. Initially, I had intended to go home and eat all of the drugs by myself, eagerly awaiting my return to that mystical realm which this drug unlocked. Looking back now in retrospect, that probably would have been an absolutely horrid idea. I was still very inexperienced, and my dealer had informed me that these were a potent batch of powerful mushrooms.
I was told two grams was a lot of fun, and that three grams could get intense. I didn’t care. I was naive and ignorant. I was out in search of the intense trip. I got home and debated what to do as I cleaned up my room so that I’d have a more comfortable environment to trip in. Almost immediately I received a message from my friend, Peter. Earlier that day he had stopped by my house to pick up some mushrooms I had been holding onto for him, and at that time we had arranged to trip that evening.
I continued debating for a long while over what I wanted to do. I continued thinking with the mentality that to understand the full potential of this drug, one should trip by themselves, which, after all this time, couldn’t seem like a more foolish idea. I also wished to conceal the amount I was taking from Peter, as I knew he only had two grams he would be taking, and I wanted us both to be on the same ‘level,’ so to speak. Finally, I decided it would be best for both of us if I just waited. I knew he wanted to trip, and wouldn’t want to alone, so I invited him over and sat around, anxiously awaiting for what seemed like an eternity.
This is where things may begin to get fuzzy. I eventually decided that I should write this as soon as possible, so that I may remember as much from that fateful night as possible, though sadly it seems as if I’ve already forgotten so much. I had thousands of thoughts running through my head each and every second while under the influence, and each one seemed so new and tasteful and wise. But I’m getting ahead of myself. After waiting and cursing Peter for not showing up sooner, he arrived at my door a little after seven that night. Within five minutes of his appearance, I was eating my stash of mushrooms and Peter was boiling water, to prepare for the tea he was going to make.
The onset would be much quicker through his method, or so I had read, so I had to dose first. Once Peter had finished brewing his tea, and I had ingested my fill of my own psychedelic dinner, we adjourned from the kitchen, making our way upstairs to roll a joint in my room. He rolled it while slowly sipping away at his mug with the heated concoction of water, honey and mind-shattering drugs. Once he finished it we waited an additional twenty minutes, relaxing and listening to the music while we let our systems process the compounds, before heading outside to smoke. The joint was absolutely incredible.
I wasn’t yet tripping, but I could certainly feel the undertones of deep magic beginning to rise over me as I stared deeply into the dark, starry night sky, watching the clouds slowly drift past in a universally corresponding way. We finished off the joint, then returned to my room to continue smoking from my bong while listening to music. The psilocybin was definitely beginning to kick in now, subtly at first, and I didn’t even feel the need for anymore cannabis as I could instinctively feel another world about to be unveiled before my eyes. I was just allowing myself to mellow out and enjoy the feelings as I had the first time. There wasn’t anything too noticeable yet, but euphoria was setting in along with an undeniable, consistent rising feeling. Thankfully we were in a comfortable, if not one of the most ideal settings possible – my college home that I shared with my three other close friends; no parents, no authoritative figures; just a sanctuary where we could rest and regroup. Peter spent the ensuing thirty minutes playing with a toy Nerf gun, before suddenly looking up at me and laughing.
“I didn’t even think I was high, then I just realized what I’m doing,” he said, and we both broke out in laughter. At that moment we were joined by Nick. We had agreed to play a video game with him earlier, but now were simply too stoned and lost in our thoughts. I was too intrigued by what I was seeing behind my closed eyes.
About sixty minutes in, the effects of the psilocybin were well underway, and Peter and I opted to go exploring outside during our peak, as the indoors had grown boring. We inquired with Nick, who was still entirely sober at this point, asking if he wanted to go for a walk to the woods behind our university and smoke a joint. He declined at first, but gradually Peter and I were able to convince him to at least accompany us. We collected bottled water and a partial bag of chips from the kitchen, then headed out. It felt like a relief, for me at least, to finally outside.
It filled me with a sense of awe as I contemplated how endlessly vast the world and universe really were, and how little we knew of it all. The cool, night air felt refreshing against my face. This was what life was about –close friends constructing memories in time without a care in the world. In the words of a wise man: ‘ripped; twisted; good people.’ I reminded Peter to savor this walk as he maintained a distance a couple paces ahead of me on the narrow path across campus, towards the back where the forest lied.
After a while we finally reached the edge, coming to a familiar stone monument, where we would often to go smoke marijuana during our first year. The sight of the living forest while under the influence of psilocybin was sheer breathtaking, and unlike anything I had ever seen before in my life. I took my time retrieving the joint from its place in the cigarette pack in my pocket, eventually passing it to Peter. We all held our hands over it as he lit it, partially to block out the wind and partial to commemorate the occasion. He held it up to his mouth and took the inaugural hit.
“That was magical,” I said, laughing. He smiled and nodded. Like the instance I had witnessed with Michael during my prior experience, it felt as though the two of us were on the exact same mental wavelength, as we tapped in to the greater, collective conscious. I was having deep thoughts, long before the joint. We were, indeed now, in the eye of the storm, with nowhere to go and no choice but to follow it. As the joint was passed around, hardly anything was spoken. After a moment I looked over at Peter. “There are no words,” I mumbled and he just shook his head in agreement with my statement.
Now, it’s a generally regarded notion amongst those who are part of the drug culture that any psychedelic trip can be greatly exacerbated or intensified, almost to a frightening degree when combined with cannabis, even amidst the most experienced veterans. There’s a synergizing effect between the two chemicals on the mind, and during psychedelic experiences, marijuana is often used in one of three main ways: either during the onset, the help ‘jump start,’ the experience as fast as possible; during the peak to intensify the experience; or after the peak to help ease any adverse side effects of the comedown. Cannabis is not recommended to those who are already experiencing a difficult trip.
As the marijuana from our joint slowly took effect, and began to synergize with the powerful chemicals already in my head, I personally found myself escalated to a place of sheer beauty and utopia, as I found myself quite pleasantly content with my place in the universe. I was close to having a complete out of body experience – if I didn’t. I felt as if I could see my friends and I, standing there and smoking the joint, the two of us completely out of our minds on these estranged mushrooms on the edge of this forest, from an outsider’s point of view. At that moment, it was almost as if I was able to recapture the essence, and see and feel all the friends who had done this before us, and all those who would come to do so after us. In the moment, nothing else really seemed to matter or make sense.
I really began to contemplate and understand how each and every one of us as individuals makes up our collective humanity as a whole. We really are each one in the same, and many more people may be able to understand this concept if they could simply be granted the chance to experience this magic firsthand for themselves. After a little while we turned away from the edge of the forest to make our way back to my house. We were rapidly growing cold, and the walk back seemed even longer than the initial walk to the back of the campus. We all staggered back to the house, lost in our own states of mind. I remember feeling as though I was taking everything my friends were saying far too seriously. I, personally, was in no state of mind to try and converse with anybody.
As we neared my house I spotted an unfamiliar vehicle in the driveway, and grew anxious as I wondered who would possibly be visiting my house at that time of night. We made our way up the driveway and front steps as I tried to mentally prepare myself for whatever was about to be thrown my way. As it turns out, it was just the pizza delivery man, passing us on his way out. My roommate, Emil, greeted us but headed off to bed after a short moment. Peter and Nick were talking about something but I was too distracted to pay attention. I could feel the drug had shifted phases on me, and I fell into a deeply introspective state, too focused on my own mental state to realize what my friends were saying as I took a seat on the stairs.
After a couple moments, Peter came to join me, sitting on a step slightly further down than the one I was on. Nick, meanwhile, had made his way upstairs to his bedroom for a minute or two, and now stood at the top of the stairs above us. Peter and I sat in silence. I was analysing and reflecting on my own personal lifestyle choices and could tell Peter was doing the same. I felt as if I could see absolutely everything across all of time and space so clearly.
My house felt like the most peaceful place in the world at that moment. Peter was my best friend. Nothing had to be said or done. All of my choices had already been made for me, whether I knew it yet or not. I couldn’t defy the Universe’s fate, and plan it had in store for me, I decided. The two of us simply sat there on the stairs together, exchanging thoughts in a telepathic sense. Everything just made sense.
Nick was a very rare smoker, and I remember thinking how high he must have been off the single joint we had smoked. I had turned to Peter and muttered something along the lines of, “Beginner’s tolerance…” He seemed to understand what I meant as we watched Nick in a reminiscent tone at the tone of the stairs.
He overheard me and replied. “What does that mean?” I stared at Paul and he returned the look. He knew I wasn’t trying to patronize Nick. I spoke out of a state of reflection. Everything just seemed to make sense while under the influence. I felt as if I understood all the secrets to life. It was a feeling that took me back to the early days of smoking weed again, only better. And I liked it.
Peter and I talked back and forth about the feelings we had under the influence for a few moments in our mushroom-induced stupor. If you had been sober and listening in on our conversation I can almost guarantee it wouldn’t have sounded like much more than a series of grunts and mumbles, yet we could understand each other perfectly, as if we had the ability to read each other’s thoughts. Finally I remember speaking again, saying something this time like, “‘Shrooms are really fun.” We both fell quiet for a brief second, before I quickly added, “But…apart.” Instantly I could feel the atmosphere throughout the room change, and I could feel something drop in the put of my stomach.
Peter and I both exchanged looks as I had instilled the same, threatening idea into each of our minds, off such a simple, brief, two-word phase. This is exactly how we had each started out with marijuana before so recklessly losing control. The haunting silence of our looming, shared thought seemed to stretch on into eternity. At last, we made eye contact again, sharing the same look as if to just say, “Well, fuck.” I slid down a couple of steps so that I was on the same step as Peter. I needed physical contact, and to feel the security and reassurance that there was some sort of external presence out there in the world besides my own, inner being.
As the stairwell grew progressively more uncomfortable in my constantly altering state of mind, I suggested we move to the couches in the living room and the others agreed. We talked for a little while, at least as much as we could comprehend; I remember not saying too much. Eventually Emil returned to the living room and found us in there. I remember being weary at first, as he was a real upstanding, straight shooter-type, never even having smoked weed in his life, although I don’t use that against absolutely anybody. Having not started myself until relatively late at the age of eighteen, I understood that there were many out there who were still ignorant of the ‘drug culture,’ but this didn’t give them any less of a right to be heard or listened to.
Indeed, I felt as if our planet could benefit as a whole from these substances, but I still understood and respected those who didn’t want to be subjected to them. It wasn’t their fault. Even though I feel we continue to make progress as a society, all the negative government hype and media attention that still exists even to this day is sickening. Politicians can no longer hide behind the lies they’ve previously been clinging onto for years. As the great, inhuman, Voice of Protest, Bob Dylan once sang about, the times, they are a-changin’.
As it would turn out, amongst our small group of friends that night, everyone would end up confiding in and enjoying each other’s company. Peter and I were found we were able to hide the fact we were mind-bent on these alien chemicals when interacting with Emil. We were each still lost deeply in worlds of our own, and I really couldn’t contend with the others. I remember looking towards Peter at one point and saying something like, “We need girls…then, everybody.” My friend replied very excitedly right away, but I kept my gaze fixated on the ground, still spaced-out in a time and place entirely of my own, and my friend was able to quickly recognize this. Peter calmed down and didn’t pursue the subject any further. The words echoed inside my brain as I considered the seriousness of them.
All dialogue had taken on such a new, profound meaning. The words continued to slowly reverberate in the back of my mind, causing to me think of my drug abuse. That proved to be the first time I would truly consider how far I might take this lifestyle, how reckless my actions would soon become, and the long-term repercussions and consequences of the mistakes I had made. I felt a striking resemblance to Timothy Leary, and felt as if I could certainly understand where he had been coming from, all those years ago when he ran his drug-induced experiments; his helpless, unsuspecting prey, convinced he was doing good by, as Thompson put it, crashing around America, selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a second thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all those people who took him seriously… all those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy peace and understanding for three bucks a hit. But to me, and in moderation, this was an amazing gift that provided a direct route to incredible insight that some would never achieve. It allowed me to seek out a world that may have never been perceived without these drugs.
As the psilocybin continued to shift gears, I could feel my surroundings growing hostile, and needed a change of atmosphere. I bid goodnight to everyone, and was waiting for Peter to do the same. Several minutes earlier, when we had each been sitting on the stairwell, we had each sensed a mutual change in atmosphere and feeling of connection when I had scooted down the stairs in order to sit beside him. He seemed to take forever in saying goodnight to everybody. I remember as I grew impatient I finally just grabbed my laptop, which I had brought down for music, and ran up the stairs to my room with it, the chords being yanked from the outlets in the wall as I made my move, dragging behind me.
Once upstairs and in my bedroom, I placed my laptop safely on my desk. I then retrieved the blankets and pillows from my couch, turned out the light and chose an open spot on the floor to drop them. I then lied down and curled up under my thick, fleece Toronto Maple Leafs blanket, resting my head on the pillow. I left the second pillow aside for Peter to use at will. He took another minute or two while he finished saying goodnight to the rest of my roommates: Nick, Emil, and Tyler. After a moment, he joined me in the dark room and lied down on the floor next to me.
We were still high out of our minds and I was trying my best to piece together the parts of my thoughts from the night. The end of the trip actually seemed to grow the most intense, at least for myself. Psychedelics come over you in waves. There’s often several times during a single trip where the user may feel like they are coming back down to baseline, only to be thrown right back up and out into the void of the drugs. In the stage I was in now, I felt as if I was starting to come down, but I couldn’t tell if this was purely psychological or not.
I questioned myself much over the course of the next couple hours as I laid there. I wondered if I would ever come back down and feel sober again. Initially when I was joined by my friend, I felt like the two of us had still been on the exact same mental wavelength, as we had been for the previous six hours, and we both began to laugh as we laid there in the darkness and silence. A certain feeling came over me that I simply cannot describe. We were enlightened and happy.
We understood the sheer simplicity and meaning to life. We just understood. Others would never know this feeling. I knew it. He knew it. We both knew the other knew. Nothing more needed to be said. There was an overall feeling of peace and unfathomable insight and wisdom. Here was someone who could possibly relate to my thoughts and feelings in this bleak, heartless world, and there was a sense of hope in that fact alone, if nothing else.
After a long while I was still awake and contemplating the experience. Unsure whether or not Peter was still awake or not, I moved from my spot on the floor beside him and onto my bed. Lying there, I began to take notice to every breath Peter took, which someone seemed to correspond with my own. It seemed like every time Peter exhaled, I would inhale and vice versa. Suddenly I felt this incredible, indescribable feeling come over me. I contemplated how powerful and comforting the sound was – the sound of someone else simply breathing. It was a simple reminder that I wasn’t alone in this cruel universe.
Find your love. That seems to be the resounding theme from that evening. I was overwhelmed, it seemed, in that moment. I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized the importance of sharing a greater connection with a loved one. Life is hard. No matter how many times I’ve attempted to describe how I felt in that moment, all words fall short of accurate. Life is hard, and enough cannot be said for finding one single person; one person to love; one person to share a chemistry with; and one person to come home to at the end of each day.
At that moment my feelings for Jade were once again renewed as I thought about the mess I had allowed my life to end up in. I would never again be able to shake these feelings of isolation, depression, and hopelessness. As I continued to trip I actually grew frightened that this newfound insight might be too much for me to handle in the future. What effect would it have on my mentality and psyche over the course of the next year? I thought. Over the next ten years? The next twenty?
It felt like I laid there on my bed thinking for an eternity. Just find the people you love. That was the real meaning in life. Love each other. Is it really that simple? I remember the words continued to repeat over and over again as my mind continued racing. I was filled with a mixture of excitement, renewed love and hope, and growing frustration for a vision of the future world that could never possibly come to fruition. I sighed heavily and tried to ease and comfort my own mind so that I could get some much-needed sleep. I thought back to the generally agreed upon notion that sleep was required before the user would feel back to baseline, and I was worried I would never stop tripping if I couldn’t get to sleep.
In my reformed state, I actually began to consider the absurd possibility that those who find their soul mate may never truly sleep. I thought that perhaps, they may just find a certain sense of deep peace in listening to their corresponding breathing patterns, taking, and giving life to their one true love, one breath at a time; an inspired will to live, so to speak. I was still extremely high and, after what felt like a lifetime, I was eventually able to talk myself out of this sort of logic. I attempted to reason with myself using sound logic. No matter how far gone or disconnected I was from my surroundings, I still knew humans needed sleep to survive. It had been a natural process every single day since I’d been born, and nothing could change that.
In retrospect I can now understand that some of the thoughts going through my mind were ridiculous – nothing more than drug-induced delusions that would never make sense to a coherent mind. The fear and paranoia that came along with the thoughts of never sleeping again and tripping forever was a foolish and immature way of thinking. The greatest thing about traditional psychedelics like LSD, mescaline, or magic mushrooms is the lack of physical damage they present to the human body. The user can go into every trip knowing they’re not going to overdose or die from the drug alone. The only physical danger stems from the decisions made by the user while under the influence.
Now, a full-blown psychedelic crisis is unlike anything that can be imagined, and something that I would never wish on my worst enemy. The fear; the paranoia; the uninhibited terror; it’s the worst goddamn feeling in the universe. That’s not to say that those who experience this deep, dark abyss cannot learn anything from the trepidation. Sometimes if the user can manage to maintain their sanity when it’s all said and done, these experiences can be the most insightful and the user must learn to view these fears stemming from much deeper, psychological problems. Unfortunately, many users become far too caught up in the trip and feel a desire for an immediate way out, and this is when problems arise. This is why I would always recommend having a sitter.
But there was no way of explaining the ongoing connection I continued to feel every single time my friend took a breath; to every beat of his pulse. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I really did begin to understand how there is something greater than we individually are; not something that can necessarily be seen, but rather just felt and experienced firsthand. While spiralling through the peak of my trip in the woods a couple hours earlier, I had definitely felt a certain, inexpressible sense of maturing and growing up as I reaccepted the fact that there are some things as individuals we will never know: things about each other; things about the afterlife. We have been crafted as mortal beings. I had learned much from this night, but the experience had also provided me much to think about, and had raised many questions in my mind about the future. I concluded at the time, in the mindstate I was in that life comes down to the same basic underlying needs and desires amongst us all: food, sleep, sex and drugs. One single word stood out in my thoughts above all else: Laugh.
As my night came to its conclusion, I once again fell to an overbearing, bittersweet sensation. I felt truly happy and at peace, yet insurmountably discouraged at the same time. I felt this drug could be a great tool if properly utilized to help solve certain issues amongst all of humanity… if only people could understand. If only others had the ability to see and hear and think and feel what I had. This did provide a gateway to happiness and understanding, for those who took the correct, responsible route. But there would still always remain those who would never be able to truly understand. If only they knew the possibilities which these substances could offer – for example, finding happiness in the simplest places and forms, such as a safe house with a warm blanket, comfortable pillow and a close friend.
Part Four – The Aftermath and Conclusion
It’s been nearly three full years now since that fateful night I spent with my good friend, Peter Chalmers. In that time I have indeed done much more learning and growing - enough to probably cover an entirely new book on its own, in fact. I would actually end up tripping on psilocybin one final time after that night with Peter. It came about a month later, and may have come at a pretty critical cost to my mental health.
Foolishly, I opted to dose on the mushrooms alone that night, prepared in tea concocted with lemon juice and honey. I still didn’t fully understand this powerful chemical’s capabilities or truly respect the full power of psychedelics. I’d had the notion that, for some reason, I’d experience the most enlightening, mind-expansive trip achievable if I could be left completely alone with my abstract thoughts to study and analyze them. Little did I realize how long an eight hour psychedelic experience could feel when the user’s all alone the entire time. Fortunately, I would not trip for eight full hours that night.
The method through which I had used to prepare the mushrooms provided both advantages and disadvantages for me in my situation that night. Due to the high pH value and acidity of the lemon juice, it replicates the digestive process of the stomach. Normally, when the user eats the mushrooms, they must first be broken down by the stomach acids which process and convert the psilocybin in the mushrooms into psilocin, the active form of the drug which is then slowly absorbed by the body over the course of the digestion process. When soaked in lemon juice prior to dosing, however, the acid in the juice simulates this procedure and begins converting the psilocybin in the fungi into the active form of the compound prematurely. This provided two major distinctions for me compared to when just eating the mushrooms raw.
The first difference could be viewed as either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the person and the situation, but when prepared beforehand with lemon (often referred to as the ‘lemon TEK’ method) the total duration of effects is shorts – the onset comes on quicker, the peak doesn’t last as long, and the full experience is over in a matter of maybe four or five hours. On this particular evening when I was tripping by myself, I felt like this was absolutely an advantage, no questions asked. The much faster onset was something I had never experienced before, and therefore the rise and emphasis of senses and thoughts and feelings occurred at a much faster pace, feeling uncomfortable and unnatural to me. For the record, this was not one of my prouder moments – taking unfathomably powerful, mind-bending chemicals all alone and via a different method of ingestion than I was used to. Then, just to top it all off, about twenty minutes following the initial dosing I decided that I still wasn’t on the level I needed to be on for some serious, in-depth consciousness exploring, so I decided to go outside and try smoking a joint to myself.
In the past, that had always made the full effects come on almost immediately and this time was no exception. I slipped out into my quiet, residential backyard, which lied just behind the main college residence hall’s parking lot. Feeling at ease as I stared up into the star-filled void of the moon-illuminated night sky, I sparked the end of the joint. To reiterate again, in no way, shape, or form do I condone the use of psychedelic drugs alone. The possibility of losing your mind is much, much greater.
About five minutes later the joint was done and I went back inside. I could feel I was in trouble, as the cannabis had already begun to synergize with the psilocybin in my mind. I tried to keep my own personal vibrations light and playful by dancing and laughing to myself, and distracting myself in whatever other ways I could find, but this does indeed prove to be quite the challenge when all by one’s self. I made my way up the stairs to my room, softly shutting the door behind me. College really can be the most ideal place for a psychedelic experience, if you’re smart about it. The lack of rules and parents and authority can really help set the mind at ease. There’s a comfort in this fact alone, and automatically allows in many scenarios for a much more peaceful trip. It certainly lessens the chance of feeling trapped, which is never fun to feel while out of your mind on drugs.
I sauntered over to my laptop which sat on my desk, and somehow remembered the password which granted me access. Music was all my mind could process. All I knew was that I had to listen to music. I scrolled through my electronic collection of albums, looking for something suitable and appropriate for the current occasion. I eventually came to settle on the choice of Pink Floyd – indeed a classic band while high on these drugs. Or at least, you would think so. As my speakers started to broadcast the sinister and chilling sound waves of their song, Pow R. Toc H. throughout the room, I found myself unexplainably fear-stricken.
I knew there was nothing to worry about at the immediate moment, but the menacing tones put me on edge. The loneliness, which I had become so used to over the years, now felt emphasized to an infinite degree, and I soon starting attempting to get in touch with friends who lived close by to come over and join me, but to no avail. I hadn’t told anybody I was going to trip that night. Reluctantly, I found a series of short cartoons online and set them to play in the background while I slumped down on my couch, shutting my eyes. I allowed the world in front of me to erupt from the darkness with bright, vivid, contrasting colours which took on a series of endless, ever-changing fractals and kaleidoscopic patterns, filled with all the most intricate details I’d ever seen, in a semi-conscious state of mind, not much different than a dream, which I had some slight form of control over, but not much.
At first I thought I’d be drawn in and entranced by these powerful images shifting in front of my very eyes, as if I could watch and learn some special secret as the patterns drew out some sort of personalized, hidden message. I soon realized how absolutely ridiculous such a notion was, and all my personal, haunting realities began to sink in, taking on a life of their own and clearly appear all around me. Here I was, a nineteen year old male, having done virtually nothing with my life, sitting alone and watching fucking cartoons while the world went to Hell around me. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I forced my eyes open, launching my mind back to reality as it tried to recover from its own manifested nightmare that it had just endured.
I opened my eyes and looked up at the computer. Only a couple minutes had passed since I had last looked at the clock, but to me it felt as if it had been hours already. Now I was growing frightened as I was unsure how I would respond to the rest of the night now that I was peaking. And still, the amplified feelings of loneliness remained. I tried to tell myself to just relax, that I was just tripping, and that there was no immediate threat to my livelihood, but I still couldn’t fully convince myself of those reassurances. I needed someone else there to reassure me.
Finally, I reached up the courage to ask my roommate, Nick, to keep me company. Our other roommate, Tyler, had gone out to the pub for the night. I felt like he may have been able to relate to what I was experiencing to a somewhat greater degree, but then again, maybe not. Regardless, I had run into him earlier that evening and he had already informed me that he would be out of the house, so I had been well aware of what I was getting myself into ahead of time. Nick had been a good friend of mine as well. I had met him the very first day I was at college, and we had become good friends right away.
He immediately agreed to provide his assistance and I ended up periodically surfing the internet on my laptop (at times when I found it possible), while simply sitting back and listening to him play on the guitar. I really took on a whole new appreciation for music that night, purchasing my own, brand new Epiphone acoustic guitar the following day. As my friend had continued to play, I could hear the echoing as every single individual note seemed to reverberate forever in the back of my mind on the steel guitar strings. No words or feelings or scenes can reproduce the magic of that softly weeping sound of Nick’s guitar that night. After only about a hundred and twenty minutes I could tell I was still incredibly high, but the peak was definitely starting to finally subside and I bid my roommate a good evening.
One last feature of this trip, which I think is worth mentioning, as it is quite fascinating and I hadn’t experienced it up until this point was the visualization of ‘breathing’ which is commonly reported by users when tripping, but not quite in the standard sense of walls melting or waving. Mirrors are an often discussed topic amongst the drug community, and after this trip I can definitely understand why. I used the bathroom one final time before finally crawling into my bed for the night, and when I looked into the mirror I was immediately taken back. My face looked completely distorted and disproportional, as if it was constantly contorting. My right pupil would appear to zoom-in, causing that side of my face to appear much larger than the other. Then, in a single instance, the right pupil would zoom-out and the left would zoom-in, causing the same effect on the opposite side. This effect went back and forth between both my eyes constantly, and there’s really no clear way to describe it without it sounding like complete gibberish and nonsense, but I’m sure anybody who’s looked into a mirror on psychedelics can relate.
That last trip always stands out in my mind as an interesting one, as the dose was too low to really experience too much deep, abstract, introspective thinking, yet it did play a crucial role in reminding me how powerful psychedelic drugs can be and how we must be sure to respect them. But more importantly, the experience also reminded me how important it is to have good friends, and how deeply I valued my own. I also vowed that night that I would never take psychedelics alone again, though only time will tell if that agreement holds true. As I said, it’s now been nearly three full years since my last psychedelic experience and much has happened in that time. I have grown up and learned much.
What I learn in the aftermath of a psychedelic experience is almost comparable to that insight which I gain while physically under the active effects of the drug. I was always told that the wiser we grow as humans, the more we accept we don’t know. About six months after the experience, I realized I may have pushed the outer regions of my consciousness too far, and I would be forced to accept that from then on I wouldn’t know how my life would have been different had I never used these drugs. My full-blown trip with my good friend, Peter, had also made me view my cannabis usage in a different light. It’s difficult for me to explain now; nobody else can possibly understand, can they? The future looks grim indeed, but I continue to get by for now with these drugs and with this pencil. It’s just what I do. Perhaps someday I’ll finally convince the world to see things from my perspective. Or maybe I’ll grow up and learn that it doesn’t really matter. Either way, this is my element, and this is what I will continue to do.
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Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.