Citation: crackityjones. "Like I Expected, Though Very Different: An Experience with Psilocybin Mushrooms (exp43711)". Erowid.org. Jun 28, 2005. erowid.org/exp/43711
Because of the variety of experiences I encountered on my first psilocybin mushroom experience, I thought it would be clearer and more helpful to break them down into categories. While many drug trip accounts sound like stories, I thought this approach would help anyone simply trying to understand what effects may occur on a psilocybin trip.
A friend and I both took three stems of psychoactive mushrooms of an unknown strain at about 7:10 p.m. last night (June 7). My friend had taken mushrooms about three times before -- at least five years ago -- and this was my first trip. My friend is 29, and I'm 24. We walked to a nearby park where the drugs began to kick in. We spent about two hours in the park, then returned to my place to sit, talk, listen to music and relax as we both peaked. All total, my trip continued to some degree through 2 a.m. -- a fairly long time frame based on other accounts I've read.
I've been interested in psychedelics for at least the past three years, when I read Tom Wolf's 'Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.' One thing that struck me about that book was the variety of experiences reported by its subjects -- though hippies get lumped in with a lot of unsophisticated thinking styles (they're often considered self-serving, irresponsible, overly feeling-oriented thinkers) I found Ken Kesey to be a fascinating character with a real depth of understanding.
I'm now 24 years old. My psilocybin trip was my first experience with a strong hallucinogen. Before this time I've had experience only with fairly high-grade marijuana, which I have smoked more or less daily for the past 18 months or so (not to mention occasional drinking). I don't smoke tobacco regularly, but enjoy a rare, occasional cigarette with smoker friends.
To prepare for the mushroom experience, I've been reading lots and lots of psychedelic trip reports, including an anthology from a local library called 'Tripping' edited by Charles Hayes. From my reading, I was able to enter the experience with a much more solid impression of what to expect.
I also took about five minutes to consider what kind of trip I would like to have, and to think positively about the upcoming foray into the unknown.
To prepare the actual ingestion of the shrooms, I bought dipping chocolate from my local grocery store's produce section. The mushrooms were dipped after microwaving the chocolate, and consumed soon after.
For me, a few of the things I read stuck out as I experienced my mushroom trip.
--Bright lights, big trip: A few people reported seeing blurry lights as a sign that the trip was about to strengthen. Though my entrance into the trip was very gradual and smooth, I also noticed blurring lights.
--Nausea = good: Others reported nausea as a sign of coming up on mushrooms. I also felt more acute nausea just as the strong signs of hallucination set in.
--Easy on the dosage: I had also read experiences in which people took a small dose of mushrooms their first time, felt nothing, and soon consumed more because they worried they wouldn't feel a high from the amount they'd consumed. I figured, based on the reports, that this was a BAD IDEA most of the time -- which my experience seems to confirm. For me, it was helpful to see a diagram of how a mushroom trip peaks -- very different from marijuana. It requires some patience because it's taken orally, and if I had taken a stronger dose I think it would have been too intense for my first experience.
I was especially encouraged to try more this time, despite my reading, because my friend was tripping sooner than I was. I feared because I'm heavier than he is that my dosage was insufficient. But I'm very glad I waited through the hour to experience the effects.
--Sing: I also read a Terence McKenna interview in which he advised that a lot of negative experiences are brought on by lack of oxygen. He said to belt out a few songs if you feel like you aren't breathing properly. I tried this once or twice (though my trip was very positive overall) and found that it was fun and calming.
--Relax: Maybe the best advice I've read is to just enjoy what the trip offers you, direct your thinking when you can, but don't get too stressed if the drug takes over a bit -- it is a mind-altering hallucinogen, after all.
Though I read extensively, there are some things you just can't prepare for ahead of time. Since I've only tripped once, I have no idea if this experience will be repeated the next time I trip, but here are the things I expected that turned out to be wrong.
--Bad taste: Though I'm sure the chocolate helped greatly, I perceived absolutely no negative taste from the mushrooms I ate, even though I chewed them thoroughly. This doesn't mean some don't taste bad, but the ones I tasted were fine. If they tasted bad and the chocolate masked the taste, I couldn't tell.
--Bright Lights = painful: Because your eyes dilate, I thought seeing bright light would be really uncomfortable. Though I didn't stare directly into any light sources, I didn't find bright lights particularly uncomfortable.
--Relentless thoughts: I expected, partly because I've read a lot of high-dose trip reports (including DMT and acid experiences), that the effects would cause my mind to focus relentlessly on various topics. That wasn't the case for me at all. I found that I could consider a tremendous variety of topics, but could easily shift my thinking if I felt that was called for.
--Avoid uncomfortable scenarios: While in the park, my friend and I encountered a couple arguing loudly and passionately. The woman was crying, the man was yelling and avoiding her. It sounded like a painful breakup. I've heard that experiences like this can 'kill' your experience by bringing you to depressive thoughts or through some other way. I found this to be personally untrue. My friend and I considered the woman (though felt like we needn't intervene) and talked about our experience watching the couple fighting and what it may have meant. I found that by being open and honest with my friend, the situation passed without any greater turmoil resulting from the drug than would be experienced sober.
--Complete reality distortion: While many aspects of my perception of reality changed during my trip, I always knew I was tripping. And I wasn't taken away to some dream world that exists only in my mind, though I can see why people sometimes liken psychedelic trips to lucid dreaming. I'm sure with a higher dose things like this are possible, but I also see more clearly how reality remains intact during a psychedelic experience.
I experienced some of the effects I read about, though in a way that was significantly personal.
--Hallucinations: For the first time, I experienced genuine hallucinations during my mushroom trips. My friend told me he doesn't really have visual hallucinations, so I didn't expect this for my low-dose trip. But in the park, I looked down at the ground. Though the grass was being moved by the wind, I saw another movement that looked as though the ground was somehow bubbling up or 'breathing.' This was not frightening at all -- I knew something like this could happen, and I clearly recognized it as a hallucination. But it was amazing all the same. I didn't know if it would happen again, but every time I looked down and considered the ground for a moment or two, I could see the ground moving. The most surprising thing about this confirmed hallucination, for me, was the prism/kaleidoscope effect I experienced. I had seen hallucinations from movies that looked almost exactly like this --but this hallucination took over my entire field of vision, which made it all the more 'real' to me.
--Deep thinking: I like to ponder big ideas and philosophic texts, and I found that shrooms altered my consciousness in a way that allowed me to think more completely about one topic. I'm fairly good at concentrating on a subject already, but I found this concentration came somehow more naturally. The mushrooms did NOT change the way I thought about things -- they only intensified my concentration. They also helped me reveal some subtle details in those thoughts. EXAMPLE: About 6 hours into the trip, I watched an extreme, zealous man on the Trinity Broadcasting Network -- a televangelist network. The man (in reality) wears a pink cardinal outfit and rants about Russia and communism (I think it was filmed in the 60s.) This guy is absurd in many ways, but one thing that struck me on mushrooms was the level of FEAR in his face as he warned of the coming Russian invasion and a communist take-over. It was as though the facticity of history was laughing through his overblown consciousness. I perceived much subtler shifting in his eyes, and realized what people meant when they called someone 'shifty-eyed' -- it means the person is gripped with a certain type of fear.
--Harmony: I've always been turned off by the 'global beat' idea wrapped into mushroom lore -- it's just not the way I perceive the world. I don't believe in the metaphysical or any supernatural group consciousness (though I'm not shut off to the idea from a physical perspective). That said, I definitely felt like I was in close communion with my friend. There was a strong sense that we were united in some way. Part of that is the sharing of any intense experience (we could be stranded on a life-raft in the ocean and feel that way, too). Part of it, though, was the way we were able to communicate on the drug. Shrooms facilitated really honest, really clear thinking. I also felt a sort of harmony with many people I was not with at the time. My girlfriend, my mother, and other close friends came into my mind at various times. I regretted some negative experiences, but was also filled with optimism that I could make those relationships stronger and better by applying myself to the people I care about.
OUT OF THE BLUE:
I think the hallucinations felt on mushrooms are over-reported, and for me the most profound aspect of the trip can be found in the 'harmony' section above. But there were some fascinating sensory effects I had not expected that I'd like to share.
--Strange smells: I read up on hallucinations and found that many, many Americans experience taste and smell hallucinations without the aide of any hallucinogen. So it didn't alarm me when I briefly smelled strong, somewhat alcoholic scents at one point during my trip --though no alcohol was around. The scent wasn't quite like alcohol, but sharp like alcohol. It was nothing I'd ever smelled before, and was almost definitely a hallucination.
--distance distortion: While I had read a bit about distorted distance perception, it's an entirely different thing to experience it. In particular, as I brushed my teeth I looked into the mirror -- it felt like I was zooming into and away from the mirror in certain ways --not a frightening way, but in a very unexpected way. It's hard to describe, but I had recognized a similar perception sober at some intense mental states -- like during sex. This may be very unique to me, but it was something that became acute and kind of crystallized on mushrooms.
--Color distortions: While in the park, the sun was setting. The birds were out, plants were blowing in the wind. It was beautiful, with or without drugs. But with drugs, colors became exaggerated in interesting ways. For me, the mushrooms didn't make the colors garish or loud, but somehow enhanced and strengthened the distinction, say, between a subtly yellow weed and a subtly green weed. Sober, I may have seen the weeds as more or less the same color, but on shrooms, the colors stood out more directly.
I tried to avoid thinking about federal drug policies during my trip, but I was regularly hit with the perception that drug laws are not only short-sighted, but also mean-spirited. I tried to avoid thinking about them not for fear of ruining the trip, but because I wanted to think about the politics of drugs in a clear head. But I actually felt a certain pervasive clarity through a great portion of my trip. But as I was saying, the federal (and state) mushroom laws in this country at this time became, to me, a very clearly outmoded relic of an old age influenced by the biased and fearful reactions of power-hungry men. When I realized that I could safely and reasonably do basic things (like find my house keys and say hi to a stranger), I realized that the drugs power has often been made extreme, exaggerated by powerful people who recognize the capacity a mind-altering drug can have to shape consciousness outside of the mainstream view. But in other ways, I also became less resentful of the system that outlawed this relatively innocuous drug. It became easier to perceive the mindset of a career politician with a wife, some kids, and maybe a retirement home somewhere tropical. I saw the outlawed drug as just another outgrowth of a general tendency toward accumulation. It also seemed that these people are trying their best to remain responsible to an early notion of humanity, while those taking drugs become taken by a newer notion of humanity (or one that's much, much older). In other words, I think I was understanding Hegel's thesis/antithesis/synthesis theory on a perceptual/intuitive (rather than cognitive) level.
Based on my first experience, I would say that I am definitely interested in trying this drug again, and possibly others like it. I would also say that this can't be an every-day kind of drug for me. I would hate to dampen the power of the experience I've just had by repeating it too frequently. Also, I've been given some things to do and things to think about that I'd like to finish up before I try this drug again. I've read a lot about the spiritual vs. recreational psychedelic drug use argument, mostly from people who believe the only appropriate way to consume these drugs is to heighten their 'spiritual' experience, but I've found my trip to be both therapeutic and helpful, as well as fun and 'recreational.' And I personally think that attributing actual, supernatural powers to the drug could be damaging in a way by giving the drug more power than it deserves. Of course, that's a lot to extrapolate from one experience, and further trips may show a change of thinking on this issue.
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