Citation: Samanthe. "Left-Handed Sword Wielding w/ Flaming Octopus: An Experience with Mescaline (exp11250)". Erowid.org. Dec 26, 2001. erowid.org/exp/11250
This experience was part of a series of guided group psychedelic sessions that I did in 1999. See my other 1999 experiences if you want to read about the bigger picture.
I had never tried mescaline before. The main sitter to whom I had entrusted my mind and body at the time administered mescaline in three doses spaced 45 minutes apart, to minimize stomach discomfort. I took 280 mg in three doses of roughly 94 mg each, starting at 1 PM.
It was the first time that I was tripping with this group of women, and only knew one of the 10 of them well. We were all set up in an airy high-ceilinged room in a giant secluded house, each with her twin-size foam mattress, little bucket in case we needed to vomit, headphones, eyeshades, and comforter. There were three sitters. At 28, I was the youngest person. The other tripping ladies and sitters were in their late 30s through their 60s.
It was a bit of a tense time, because everyone had recently learned that Terence McKenna had a brain tumor, and we are deeply affected by this. A shrine to his healing was set up at the end of the room.
As is part of a pattern with me, I was largely “spaced out” as I was going up with the material. My body felt suffused by a phenethylamine energy. All it says about this trip in my journal is, “The medicine was mescaline. I felt a lot of fire energy. I used mudras to surf it. I got kind of bewildered at one point, but was also much more grounded this time, as I had intended.” (The “much more grounded” probably referred to back to how **un**grounded I felt during a trip a month earlier, where it took me 30 hrs to get back to baseline.)
Our main sitter had shown us a series of nine mudras, or hand/arm positions, to perform for different functions, like, “humility”, “detachment”, “courage” (I used this one a lot), and “serenity”. I found myself cycling through these in my effort to flow with the intense energy, and not let myself get stuck with it. It felt like surfing because it was a balance, and at any moment I could wipe out if I didn’t pay attention. The mudras gave me something to do with my body, instead of just giving way to mind machinations. I paid attention to my breath, and repeatedly got a message of, “I have to strengthen my body to be able to channel this kind of energy, to be a better conduit for it.” I felt like a wire that grows red when electricity is coursing through it. I felt like my body was being pushed by this heat and energy, but I never felt like I was having a medical emergency. This “message” is in line with my day-to-day experience of not being in the best of shape. It’s two years later now as I write this, and I’m finally applying the lesson of “strengthen your body.” There seems to be a lag-time like this for me so far, between the time I “get the message” to the time I apply the information from my tripping in my life.
I lay down during most of the way up, but when I was peaking, I sat up, and then later I crouched and stood up, as well. I found it hard to handle just lying prone. At one point, about when I was peaking, I felt like my left arm and hand (I’m right-handed) were part of a “warrior” subpersonality (an archetype I haven’t generally been in touch with), like I was wielding a big heavy mental sword around. I remember wondering, “What do I do with this? What am I supposed to wield this sword for?” As my eyes were still eyeshaded, I didn’t feel self-conscious practicing waving my “sword” around. In this impressionable state of intoxication, I projected or transferred my warrior identity on Terence, and felt, “Oh, I’m supposed to help men like Terence do the work they do in the world.” At this stage, I was still seeing my power as one contingent upon and in service to others’, rather than simply autonomous and in a dance with others. I was doing a mild ego-inflated trip. Good to have one like that under my belt, and take it out and examine it periodically.
During this sword-wielding phase, where hot-colored sword-like visions were hovering before my eyes, I also saw a flaming multicolored psychedelic octopus swimming around. The visuals didn’t become too prominent until I saw the octopus. Then I felt a big, “whoa!” and got kind of swept up in the intensity, and with the intensity I got that (unfortunately) familiar, “losing control, fear!” feeling. (As if I’d fallen off the “surf board”.) Typically I haven’t enjoyed intense visuals during my tripping (which made me prefer 5-MeO-DMT to N,N-DMT, for example) because they startle me and offer up too much stimulus for me to process at once. I feel overwhelmed in some cases. As an aside, this may have to do with the fact that I don’t have stereoscopic vision and seeing things close-up kind of spooks me anyway in non-tripping world, but this is entirely speculative.
So the grip I had on this journey flagged a little after the octopus appeared, and I got a bit lost like I sometimes get. I got really hot and had to shed some of my layers of clothing. I got out of whack with my breathing, got ungrounded, and it felt uncomfortable. Fortunately my serenely poised and talented sitters knew what was up. One of them came to me and whispered, “Put your hands and feet flat on the ground, let the energy go there.” When that didn’t quite settle me out, she picked me up and got me to move around a little in time to the music, to dance. It was just a question of figuring out **what to do with the energy**. What do I ever have to do in my life, not just during my tripping, than figure that out? What feels good? Putting my feet and hands on the ground felt good. The dancing felt pretty good, but I couldn’t quite get into it. I was restless. When I can’t figure out what to do like that, I sometimes get frustrated and sad. So I did the sad thing for a little while, judging the style in which I was tripping. A lot of self-judgment, like a bad habit, like mental nail-biting. Obsessing on “why can’t I just relax and enjoy myself?” instead of just, well, relaxing and enjoying myself.
Meanwhile, the other women were starting to emerge from their tripping, gliding towards baseline, even the one that had been sobbing for hours. And I was floating around still, high as hell. I was still learning how to “surf” it, how to come back to shore. Since the dose wasn’t too intense, I was not so high that I thought I would stay high. So I started to gather up the pieces of “me” again. I made the mistake of trying to talk to the sitter about my internal process, which confused me and I felt embarrassed I couldn’t express myself coherently, and what I was hearing myself say sounded trite and barely intelligible. Apparently I attribute a lot of importance to expressing myself well and when I couldn’t do it high I had the unrealistic expectation that I wasn’t measuring up. Fortunately, these sitters asked us beforehand to observe objective silence for the remainder of the day and night, until the next day at lunch, so I had that to remind myself, “oh yeah, I don’t need to try and talk.” I was still processing what had gotten churned up. Thank goodness for set and setting, for a “container” or context within which to trip. Otherwise I’d get utterly tangled up in my thoughts. And thank goodness for the experienced sitters, who would probably just graciously reply, “oh really?” if I explained to them I’d seen a flaming octopus.
As I came back to baseline, it was dinnertime, and a light dinner of chicken soup and bread had been prepared for us. This food further helped ground me. It was at dinner that I discovered a peculiar after-effect of my trip. As I poured myself water, I reached for it, **with my left hand** as naturally as if I were left-handed. But I’m right handed. Remember how I had a vision of wielding a sword with that arm? It felt as if a new circuit had gotten activated. I later read a story published in MAPS
about a similar “activation.” Before, the left side of my shoulder and back had typically been aching most of the time, because of muscular weakness from my scoliosis. But with this new-found strength or assertiveness of my left arm (which felt good!), I think that weakness has been improving. I also attribute this change to a renewed commitment to my “right brain” or creative side (if you believe in that right-brain, left-brain thing; I do). Working it out physically has a correspondence in my thinking. In fact, the next week, I woke up from a vivid dream, in which I came up with a creative solution for a problem that I was facing.
Overall I’m glad I had my first mescaline experience with a modest dose.
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