Citation: Endless Sky. "Set and Setting Mean Everything: An Experience with LSD & Cannabis (exp57989)". Erowid.org. Jun 5, 2007. erowid.org/exp/57989
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Three days ago, my husband, E., and I went up hiking to Muir Woods. My mindset was good to begin with - I was looking forward to a wonderful, mellow trip in the redwoods with the person I love most in the world. I asked E. if he'd mind if I took a 1/2 hit of good blotter because it'd been a long time since I took a 'low' dose and tripped during the day. Ten years, in fact. I tripped quite often in high school (at least twice a week), and since then have also worked with Morning Glory, Mushrooms, opiates, E, crystal…in short, I am an experienced tripper and drug user in general. I was overjoyed to find a small obliging piece of white paper hiding where I thought there was none. E. was pretty much neutral- not happy or unhappy about my taking the dose, so I listened to my gut and chewed my little white piece of joy as we drove through the sunshine, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and up to the woods.
Even though I'd tried this batch before with my usual trip partner, K., I suppose that either storage or the set/setting made what I took particularly potent…I had chewed up my 1/2 tab at around 3:30, and at 4 I realized that it probably wouldn't do anything, so I ate the other half for a grand total of 1 hit.
At about 4:30 it started coming on. E. and I were hiking through the Cathedral grove - a very, very beautiful place. The air was rich and loamy scented. The trees were green. The woods were deep and vibrant and breathing and I felt very safe, and cared for as we wandered through the woods. I had been smoking cannabis earlier on that day to quell nausea and boost my trip. I took several hits of my best Indica while in the woods and it really did feel like the sacred act that it is.
Unfortunately, darkness was coming and the park closed at 5. No more smoking in the woods for me. My husband led me through the darkening woods to the gift shop. I was enchanted- in the middle of the forest was a little pixie house! All lit up! Then I realized we were going in: it was the Gift Shop! I was very much having an awesome time. There were small 'window boxes' in the gift shop which were 3D and had pics of the redwoods. It looked like each individual one had a little TV in it. That was really neat, and something I haven't had acid do to me before. I do believe that had we stayed in the Redwoods, things would have been great…but an hour in the car later, we got home, and the blotter got stronger…which was very unexpected…
I didn't want to leave the woods, but we had to, as the cops came in to clear the parking lot. Unfortunately, I was still coming up, and resigned myself to peaking in the car. The car ride caused me a bit of nausea, but that wasn't surprising to me. After all, anyone who's on a mind-expanding substance really isn't best when put into an enclosed space. I was alright, though - I had brought my I-Pod, and was jamming away in my own mind. E. drove us home, and I happily took in the beauty of the Golden Gate and the full moon which had risen earlier in the day. Riding in the car felt as though I were in an old fashioned horse and buggy, and the cars around us were starting to assume more interesting shapes…I wondered briefly about the strength of the acid, and then shrugged it off, concentrating instead on the musical orgasm that is the Grateful Dead on acid.
Around 7pm, the world was still doing it's 'beautiful glowy' thing, when we got home and I decided to take a walk outside. While walking down the street in the moonlight, I got the odd idea that I should walk out to a dark place and talk to the Dark Goddess (a Diety I believe in and work with on occasion). This of course, I recognized as a Bad Idea on several levels because I was 1.) too messed up and 2.) didn't want the darkness to scare me, so I compromised with a walk out to the beach. My husband and I live 30 seconds from the shore, so it's not a big deal to walk there normally.
When my last trip came around, both myself and my tripping buddy, K., noticed a kind of 'odd' feeling to the high. We both wondered what it was, as we're both fairly experienced with psychedelics…but we just figured it was one of those trip things. As I walked, I felt the feeling again - and it became stronger and stronger.
I was starting to wonder why the acid was so strong. 1/2-1 tab shouldn't really be that large of a trip, but I realized there was nothing I could do and attempted to accept things in stride.
Then, as I was walking, I started to feel like someone was running their nails down a chalkboard- really loudly. This grinding, uncomfortable feeling grew, until I felt the need to pray to calm things down. I dropped to my knees on the side of the road. I was worried because my immediate impulse had been to stay in the road, and I recognized that as Not Good thinking. Under the moonlight, I grounded and centered, and prayed with all my strength. Then, the world shifted.
Somehow - from being on my knees, I found myself walking down the road (again) for what felt like 10 minutes, and upon close inspection, I realized that I'd been walking past the same house, again and again. I knew that this wasn't possible, so I tried to look at 'markers' along the roadside. Well, my subconscious did a hell of a job, because the house I was walking past was the same - from the same mini-van in the driveway to the same street sign in the front. I must have passed it about seven times before I came to the end of the street. This was a worrisome thing. I am nothing if not experienced with fry, and even with pot (of which I hadn't smoked all that much and certainly not recently enough to cause this) my trip was a little on the strong side… I decided to go back to my house because things were getting the potential for hairiness. I wasn't so much afraid at this point as a little concerned. I had experienced the 'mysterious multiplying houses' before while on a 4 hit trip…however, then I had been too messed up to care. At this point, I decided to focus on the positive and go on with my trip. Now, my memory gets a little garbled.
The safety of the apartment was a big relief. My husband and I live in a small apartment by the beach with our big block dog and ferret. I opened the ferret's cage and started to play with him and my dog. The ferret was so happy to be free that he immediately started jumping about and doing what my husband and I call 'bupping'. It's a little 'bupbupbup' sound they make when happy. Well - he was literally jumping all over the place - running up to me, then he'd have a fit of bups which I can only describe as completely hilarious, bite me, then run about two feet away, bup again, then come bite me again. He repeated this process several times. I laughed for ten minutes straight and was unable to respond when my husband asked, 'What's wrong with you?' due to the unstopping laughter.
Suddenly, in the midst of the bupping, I felt a 'psychic scream'. It seemed like nails were suddenly being run down a chalkboard. This was the same feeling from my last trip, but intensified. Again, I tried to ignore it…but this time it didn't go away. I also noticed that the trip was seeming to be getting stronger.
I asked E. if he knew of any reason why the trip should be getting stronger instead of wearing off. Besides pot, he had no idea. I decided to abstain from marijuana for the rest of the night.
I tried to distract myself - I petted my dog, whose coat was now changing colors under my hands, listened to music, and took a shower....but I still heard and felt the Sound. I felt like it would crawl my skin right off my body.
I told E. that things were going badly, and I felt I needed 4mg of Ativan but I knew enough not to let myself near the bottle lest I forget I'd taken the pill already and keep swallowing away until there were none left. Time at this point was extremely distorted. I remember E. telling me that two pills was too much - they were 2 mg pills (I usually take 2-4 mg for anxiety as needed). I, however, disagreed. My memory is foggy…back to the trip. I took the pill and waited anxiously for it to kick in. E. tells me I talked him into letting me have a second one, for a total of 4 mg of Ativan.
At this point, I was standing next to a wall in our kitchen. The world had started to appear to be on a giant merry-go-round, whose music only I could hear. Every few minutes, it would pop and whir and then start to spin again. This popping and whirring sounded very cartoonish and fake, and I didn't like the sound. Forgotten was the fact that I was me. I tried to remember who I was, and a vague flitting of memories about E., K., and my dog came back. I realized that I'd forgotten who I was. This, I knew, for some reason, was not desirable to me at this point in time. I felt like my spirit was being torn away from my body with each repeat of the sound. I was near to breaking, but pretended to be alright for my husband's benefit.
I started drawing, thinking that I'd calm down a little that way. I grabbed a piece of white paper and a red pen. There were 100s of characters on the paper, all un-drawn, waiting for me to give them life. I started tracing them as fast as I could, and actually got a few little cartoon guys down for posterity. After drawing for probably around thirty minutes (two complete pages of LSD doodles), I had noticed that the whir-pop of the merry-go-round world was continuing, and was making me feel like nails were sliding down a large blackboard next to my head. It was horrid. I stood up, knowing I needed to get help, but not really understanding what to ask for. I think I communicated to E. that I was having problems. I remember that I didn't think he understood, as I next called K., right in front of him.
I talked to K. on the phone and told her the state of things. She seemed confused as to why I thought the trip was bad. But it *was* bad - so I thought. I didn't like not remembering who I was. I felt so bad for 'cheating' and taking a trip without her that I think I started crying. She asked me a bunch of questions - I think to get me more grounded in reality, however, that was an exercise in futility. I remember being really bummed that I was soo far gone, as the back of my mind knew that I normally would have really enjoyed myself…and then the whirring sound started up again. I felt as though I couldn't talk on the phone anymore, so I told K. I needed to go. She advised that I talk to E. I sat on the couch and started to think of what to say.
It sounded like the whir of a Star Trek New Gen door opening combined with a metallic clang each time the 'acid merry-go-round' I was on cycled again. Each time, I felt like I was drawn more and more into the trip, experiencing loss of ego and great fear of death. For some reason, I felt that I needed to deal with the fact that I would die someday. And then, sitting on my couch, I aged forward by about 60 years (in my head of course).
I was suddenly very old, and wrinkled, and breathing was labored. I was in my deathbed. I was terrified. I took one last big breath, and it hurt to fight for it. Then, there was blackness in which I felt my heart stop. Darkness pervaded my awareness and fear shook me. This was cause for distress. I felt as though I 'popped' back into my body on the couch. Tears came pouring out of my eyes as I tried to convey to E. what had just happened to me. I had a great sense of dread and fear. This was not right, and I admitted that it was too much for me to handle.
I tried to direct E. to the Erowid vaults to show him what to do in case of a bum trip, but apparently, I didn't communicate this well to him, and gestured at the page futilely for about five minutes. He's been around bum trips before, but never had sole responsibility.
I told him I needed him to hold me, as I felt a strong urge for bodily contact. I was starting to feel 'psychic winds' which were blowing past our house. Each breeze felt like it would tug my spirit from my body and throw it into the Abyss. I held to E. for dear life, pretty much convulsing from the fear and terror of loosing myself. He held me calmly while I ranted at him for some time about how I was *NOT* okay with dying. I protested my fate with hot tears streaming down my cheeks. This seemed to confuse him, and I didn't know why at the time. I remember him holding me, with me looking at this big dark scary hole that was death staring at me in my mind, just waiting for him to release me to it. I started thinking about it. Really, I HAVE to be okay with dying, because it's going to happen. Do I get upset at the rain for pouring? Of course not - it just is. Likewise, I saw that I couldn't be upset about dying, because I already had. The feeling of 'nails on a chalkboard' ceased, and for a moment, things got calm. Yes, I would die. No, that wasn't a problem. For an instant, everything was calm.
I felt right for the first time in years.
Then, my paranoia came flooding back with a shap left hook, 'No! It's not okay to die! Are you just going to allow this? Hell no!' My ego screamed for help. I, sucker that I am, felt bad for me and so got sucked back into the whirlpool. This continued until the Ativan calmed me down. E. continuously tried to get me to not think about death (he figured that if dying was causing me such distress, I shouldn't think about it). I got very upset at this. Of COURSE I should think of death now. In my state of mind I could think of no other logical thing to do. It was, after all, right in front of me, and all around me.
Then, I had another moment in which I saw myself taking his advice and not thinking of death - I still died…but this time it was worse and even more horrifying because I was so scared and unaccepting - unprepared. Back into my body while being held I snapped. I held onto E. for dear life while the Fear shook me.
In about ten more minutes, the Ativan kicked in. The 'evil-merry-go-round' sound had faded. I was so relieved…and then I got pissed at myself.
I *nearly* got over my fear of death, and am very upset at myself for terminating the trip early…still, I know that next time I trip, it's going to be on again, and I've got to face death, but in an odd way I'm looking forward to it.
The feeling of exhilaration and absolute freedom and happiness when I resigned myself to death was amazing. I want it back, and I want to live my life with that freedom, so am preparing myself for another trip. This time, I shall bring K. along, and I will be comfortable taking a larger dose (probably about three tabs). Just to illustrate how potent set and setting are, I tripped with K. about six months or so ago, and had no problems (and a shitload of fun and good revelations) from around five tabs. (We can't be exactly sure…but I think it's closer to six). One tab really kicked my ass a few days ago.
From now on, I will reserve three days for my trip experience as so many who are wise in such matters advise. I shall also be bringing a copy of 'The Psychedelic Experience' along for whomever is sober and trip-sitting. It really could have helped me. This was actually my strongest trip to date, and I really wish I had prepared myself better for it. If I had prepared, I would have come out fine on the other end rather than needing to terminate the trip. Ah well - this is what experimentation is there for. Please, be careful and be safe!!
An odd after effect: As I was meditating last night, I started to feel very altered, so checked my pupils…and they were dilated. This is pupil dilation three days after I dosed. I decided it was a result of the meditation, and continued meditating until I fell asleep. On waking this morning, my eyes were still dilated. Things look a little brighter than normal.
I react in this way to E. too: after falling asleep after a roll, when I wake in the morning, my eyes are dilated and I feel like I'm rolling again for a good few hours. At first I was worried about this, but it seems to be my particular brain chemistry. The dilation has not hurt me in any way, and I still feel wonderful. Blessings to all - may you learn from my mistakes!
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