Cacti - T. pachanoi
Citation: The Brothers Grimm. "14 Hours in Fairy Land: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi (exp47219)". Erowid.org. Jan 28, 2006. erowid.org/exp/47219
A few weeks ago, I procured 4.5 feet of Trichocereus pachanoi cuttings from a local Ebay-style website. The cactus was on average just under 4 inches in diameter, and was very hydrated and mossy / lime green. I wanted to experiment with some, so I chopped some parts up to callus in order to grow more from, and put about 2.5 feet aside for ingesting. Fortuitously, I came across 3 more Pachanoi plants in a hardware store, and I bought another 4 feet from the guy I got the original batch off. He recommended I use about 1.5 foot of the original cactus, but indicated that the second lot I bought off him was more potent. My brother gave me the money for 1.5 foot, and we set aside a Sunday to ingest the cactus.
We ended up using about 2.7 feet from the original batch [3.5 inches diameter], which had been kept in a dark dry cupboard and pricked with a knife in some kind of vague attempt to stress the plant into producing more alkaloids – altogether these pieces sat for about 3 and a half weeks. We also added a thick piece about 4 inches long from the supposedly stronger cactus, which had just been freshly cut.
On Friday we chopped, de-spined and peeled the cactus, which only took about 45 minutes with two of us working. We chopped it into pieces about 5 or six inches long, sliced the spines off in shallow strips, which we kept aside, and then peeled the skin, which was quite easy after the strips had been cut off from where the spines were. Then we sliced into the cactus lengthways along the part where the spines had been, up to the core, and chopped down around the core, leaving 5 or 6 inch sticks falling off. These pieces were chopped up a bit more and placed in the freezer on high overnight, along with the pieces of skin with the spines on it in a separate container. Altogether this process took less than an hour.
The next day we pulled the pot out, poured water into it and set it on the element to boil with the juice of 3 lemons. While it was boiling we thawed the strips of spiny skins, and now that the cells had burst, the dark green flesh was easily scraped away with a knife and added to the pot. We occasionally added a little water, and after about 3 hours we poured off most of the water into a smaller pot, which we put on another heat ring to begin to reduce. Fresh water and the juice of a couple more lemons was added to the flesh, and this was allowed to boil for another 2 hours. We again poured the water off into a third pot, and allowed this to reduce on another heat ring, added some more water to the flesh, let it boil for about an hour, and then poured the water off and squeezed the flesh through a pillowcase after cooling it down in the freezer. All three amounts of water were poured back into the big pot, and boiled down to about 440ml of thick, greenish-brown sludge with the consistency of fudge sauce, which was poured evenly into two cups, covered with glad wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
Sunday arrived, and we were both a little anxious about drinking the stuff, which tasted like some kind of horrible alien battery acid. I tried squeezing some through the pillowcase to try to make a smoother consistency, and it separated into a clear viscous liquid and a fine green chalk. As both tasted mouth-numbingly bitter, I didn’t strain any more, because I didn’t want to lose any alkaloids.
The ingestion session began just before 12pm for my brother, and 15 minutes later for me. By the time I joined him, he had already downed a third of it after mixing with honey, swallowing while holding his nose and following with liberal doses of orange juice. I followed his technique and managed to get a few sips down. He drank his over the course of about 35 minutes, while I took closer to an hour. Before I finished, he started getting hit by pretty intense nausea, and went into the garden to chill out. I went out to join him, coming inside occasionally to gag down small sips. My nausea was fairly mild, and I think this may have been due to the fact that I had smaller amounts over a longer period. By the time I had swallowed the last bit (we both only managed to get down about 190ml each, equivalent to perhaps 15 inches), my brother was feeling very nauseous and a bit trippy, and then a strange thing happened – the dog decided to start vomiting in the garden. Well, we both moved quickly away to avoid throwing up ourselves, but the sudden movement must have set my brother off, because he kept walking when I stopped, commenting that the dog was tripping out on its own plants, and continued to the other end of the yard where he proceeded to hurl.
I blocked my ears, because I knew I’d throw up if I heard it, and I started getting a bit anxious – I have an irrational fear of vomiting, and haven’t thrown up for about 12 years. I went inside, and my wife helped me to chill out a bit (she was our sitter for the day), then Josh came in, by this time looking pretty happy and starting to trip out quite a bit. I was getting hot and cold flushes, and couldn’t decide if I wanted to sit in the sun or shade. I actually started getting pretty panicky as I felt the alkaloids beginning to work, but I think most of it was caused by the nausea, which was at its height. I should mention here that in the past I have been prone to anxiety and panic attacks, and so none of this was particularly surprising. One of the reasons I wanted to try mescaline was to overcome my fears. Well, I wimped out and took 2mg of Ativan (a fast acting Benzodiazepam, also an anti-emetic), and then another 1mg ten minutes later… this got me calm and took the nausea away in about twenty minutes, and by this time I could definitely notice the effects of the mescaline as a feeling of unreality and a bit of a body high.
All three of us decided to walk down to a little garden by a river that is nearby to feed the ducks, so we grabbed some bread, put the dog on a leash and set off. As we approached the river, I chilled out more and by the time we got there I was feeling pretty good – the nausea had gone and as we entered the garden, which looks like a magical fairyland even when straight, I started to trip in earnest. People took on the strange quality that they do on acid, and I found myself staring at them in wonder. After a few minutes of wandering around, we decided to sit down on a secluded bank of the river and watch the ducks. My wife and brother fed them bread as I watched them swimming around, and I started to see them as if for the first time – they seemed like quite amazing creatures, and seemed to fit their environment so perfectly. As we watched, a huge magical looking fish swam right up to us, and then disappeared, and it seemed as if it was shimmering with reds and greens, although my wife told me a couple of days later that it looked quite dull to her. My brother lay back in the flowers and started laughing and told me to look up at the trees, and so I lay back and was overwhelmed by the immensity and magnificence of the trees and sky above us.
Everything seemed to be moving slowly, the sun was catching in our eyes and I started having some pretty intense open-eyed visuals, which were much more psychedelic than I had expected – similar in intensity to the visuals I have had on acid, but somehow more fluid while retaining a sharp geometrical structure. Surprised and delighted by the power of the visuals, I lay there for some time just laughing and soaking up the sun – my brother and I agreed that it seemed as if the sunlight was providing the raw energy that the visuals fed on. I thought back to how I had reacted with anxiety a little while before, and it suddenly seemed so silly. I started to wax philosophical, and pictured the fear as an aspect of my personality that had inhibited me in so many ways for so long, and kept me from enjoying life and achieving my goals, or even believing that I could. I realized that if I continued to let this ridiculous, cynical and cowardly part of myself have power, it would eventually cripple me and I would become a very small, fearful caricature of myself. I hated that aspect of myself for what it was doing to my life, and decided I would not let it rule me anymore.
I suggested we walk across to the botanic gardens, but my brother was hesitant because it involved crossing a main road and a golf course which he went through every morning on his way to work, but with a little cajoling we were off. As we were leaving the garden, my brother compared it to Eden, and asked what it was that had happened there, although he knew the story of Genesis as well as I did. The allusion to the forbidden fruit seemed comparable to our eating the cactus, and this made me slightly uncomfortable. The large rock sitting at the edge of a bed of yellow and purple flowers caught my eye, the reason being that it seemed that the colors of the garden were captured by the rock and reflected back at us – it was like a massive jewel filled with a myriad of shifting color, and somehow seemed to be a part of the energy of the garden, capturing and reflecting the color life of the entire garden. As I stepped closer to examine it, the surface of the rock appeared to erode and then reform before my eyes – an effect which seemed completely convincing. In reality, the rock had a drinking fountain embedded on the opposite side, and the colors were actually caused by a smattering of multi-hued moss on the back of it, but to us it was some kind of magical obelisk, and captivated us for some time. I think my wife and any other onlookers must have been quite bemused at the sight of a couple of guys staring in wonder at a drinking fountain.
We eventually got moving and crossed the road into the golf course, and followed a path to the botanic gardens. Everything seemed small and somehow compressed, like we were giants floating across the park, and the movement of every blade of grass was evident. It was as if everything was pulsating in time with a slow moving, rhythmic energy.
We arrived at the botanic garden, and got a little bit uncomfortable because there was so many people, but as we went inside, it was as if we could see the life force of everybody – some people had a kind of sad stillness, others seemed bouncing and joyful, whilst others seemed intense and miserable. If I looked long enough at any one person, I would sometimes see a colorful aura moving around and through them which matched the type of energy they exuded. A pair of lovers who came bouncing past hand in hand emanated a golden androgynous, playful light which seemed to pass between them.
We decided, rather appropriately, to visit the cactus greenhouse, and proceeded inside. What met us was a buzzing flux of life that held my brother and I spellbound for about half an hour – we literally stood leaning over the handrail stroking various cacti in mute appreciative silence. It was like we could tangibly feel their life force – they somehow seemed wise and at the same time sad, as if being in such an artificial environment had sapped them of some vital force. They reminded me of caged animals in a zoo. All of them appeared to be moving and vibrating and whispering to us and to each other – I got quite a few spines in my fingers as I stood there stroking and marveling at them, and we must have provided quite a spectacle to the people milling about us.
A group of guys came in, and they seemed to be reeking of a violent, aggressive energy, and indeed they started watching us and making sly remarks. Well, we took the hint and headed out, only to be followed by them. I said to my brother that they seemed like wildcats, spoiling for a fight, and was glad when they stayed behind as we walked off.
We got home and then the psychedelia really began – while we were gone our home had been transformed into some kind of fairytale gingerbread house, replete with creatures crawling over the walls and ceiling, and magical colors dancing all around us. It seemed as if people and things were covered with sparkling fairy dust, and more than once It tried brushing it off my brother’s face. We stumbled around, marveling at this enchantment, and playing with our three cats. It was like I saw the cats for the first time, and really felt sorry for them – they seemed depressed and stunted, and looked really ragged and skeletal, although in reality they are quite sleek and well-fed. This was similar to the empathy we felt for the cactus at the botanic gardens, and I suppose it is what people refer to when they compare the effects of mescaline to MDMA, although I have never tried it.
My brother went out into the garden to play his didgeridoo, and after a while he excitedly called me out – he was saying that it was like the didge had life trapped inside it, and indeed, as I looked at the smooth, glossy wood, I could see the grain shifting and swirling inside. As he played it, he said it was like the life of the didge was mingling with his breath, and returning to him in the vibrations, corresponding to the circular breathing techniques he employed to make the sound.
We moved back inside and stumbled around the house a bit more – everything was shifting color and anything with even the slightest pattern crawled with movement. People seemed narrower somehow, and faces would distort with movement, similar to effects I have had whilst peaking on acid. Sometimes my wife and brother were even better looking, and sometimes they looked a lot uglier than they actually are – a similar thing was happening with the animals. If I stared at any point for long enough, the hallucinations would grow much more intense, and become all encompassing to the point that it was as if I was somewhere else, looking at something completely different.
I urged my wife to play the electric piano, switched it to organ, and I hit a couple of notes in the lower register while she responded higher up the scale – the sound was completely amazing and transporting. Before long, I felt like I was in an elven glade, and my wife looked like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. The music seemed to be causing something like water to flow down and over the piano and the keys, and it was like the whole thing was an energy field which my wife was expertly coercing music from, deftly stroking and pulling the keys.
Josh and I decided to listen to some music on the headphones (we don’t have any speakers), and I put on The Doors, which instantly escalated the psychedelia, interacting with closed and open eyed visuals and transforming everything into a warm velour wonderland bursting with pure 60’s energy, which had us in fits of laughter – you could tell these guys took a lot of mescaline. My brother laughed so hard I thought he was crying.
This was probably about 6 or 7 hours since we’d drunk the cactus mixture, and I think we had been peaking for at least 4 hours. Slowly, slowly, we started to come down, and begun discussing some of the ideas that were occurring to us – mostly sort of pscychoanalysis regarding our family and our parents and how we fit into it. While we were talking, I watched my brother’s face change into my sister’s face, and then to another brother, and another sister, finally culminating in some kind of family composite which incorporated elements of everybody. I really hadn’t expected such powerful visuals, especially so far into the trip.
The come down was very gradual and gentle, as others have noted, and I was still getting a lot of visual effects for a maybe 2 or 3 hours after my brother had almost completely returned to normality, which we related to the fact that he had thrown up while I hadn’t.
We watched the Matrix, ate some soup and fruit, my wife went to bed, and I eventually managed to sleep myself, although I was still pretty tripped out 14 hours after I’d eaten the cactus. I spent the next day in a very peaceful reflective mood, which was spoiled the following day by me flying into a fit of rage over some inconsequential annoyance, however, this loosening of self control, coupled with a black mood, is something that I have experienced within 72 hours after taking Ativan (which I had at the beginning of the trip). It spoiled the afterglow of the mescaline somewhat, and I am looking forward to trying it without the sedatives, which I never want to use again if I can avoid it.
Altogether, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly intense trip, definitely the most powerful I have ever experienced on any drug, although I should say I have never experimented with ‘heroic’ doses of acid or mushrooms.
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