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An Encounter With Teonanacatl
Mushrooms - P. cubensis
by Navi
Citation:   Navi. "An Encounter With Teonanacatl: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (exp6909)". May 17, 2001.

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3.0 g oral Mushrooms - P. cubensis (dried)

I have compiled an account of today's psilocybin experience. As will become apparent, the encounter was intensely personal, intensely emotional. But then, why do we poison ourselves so, if not precisely for these effects? I include those parts here in the interest of science, that the virtue of these sessions can be understood. This is in the face of prevailing hysteria over the issue of 'drugs', which informs national public policy, and which is based largely on stereotypes and ignorance. I do not advocate casual use of these substances. On the contrary, they demand the utmost respect, as I have learned today. But read on.

The main text (in bold) was written while under the influence of approximately 3 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms. The surrounding commentary was added later. This experiment took place in my apartment, on a Sunday afternoon. After consuming the mushrooms, with orange juice, I did some Yoga stretches to relax into a more receptive mode. I then sat cross-legged on the floor, the lights out, earplugs in (I live in a noisy city, okay?), quieting myself. The effects came on in about 25 minutes. I did not begin writing for some time.

When I did this with S., we both cried. We weren't sure why. Now it seems that, perhaps, it was that we had been shown the impermanence of things. That is cause for sorrow and joy -- or neither: it is the way of the cosmos.

My previous mushroom experience, with this same batch, was conducted with my girlfriend, in her apartment. We each found ourselves crying, for reasons we could not explain. Today's adventure sheds new light on that.

Life is a miracle! Others have said it. But let me now be counted as one who has said it, too. It is miraculous that this flesh, which someday shall stiffen and fall, could move, could feel, could think.

I find myself looking at my hands, imagining how someday they would harden in death. They look pale, plastic, the fingers a bit too long. But they seem distinctly features of a living system. I am fascinated by the rough edges of the cuticle, the frayed edge of growth, the uncertain tip of becoming.

I am the entire history of the planet. The present is all there is.

Contemplating the evolution of life on Earth, I see myself as the ongoing product of all the lives that preceded me. Visions of the sea come before me, of life struggling on coastal rocks, of birds overhead. The present is the moving summation of all that has gone before; all things are interrelated. I understand myself as the continuing culmination of the evolutionary process.

We are scared, inside. Fear eats at us from all around. We appear, as it were naked, given into this world, told we have parents, who love us... But I am telling my story here.

The anxiety begins. The ego's defenses are being stripped away, and I see myself as a fragile, transient disturbance in a realm of infinite complexity. I am losing the illusions which I hold onto to feel secure. We are not the people we assure ourselves daily of being, but frightened children, grasping for assurance. We are terrified of death, so we deny it. But when truly confronted with our own impermanence, the games we play and the crutches we lean on do seem to fade! Still, I count my blessings, feeling thankful for having such loving parents and friends. Many others are not so lucky.

Those who tell us not to do psychedelics fear confrontation with the essential anxiety of being.

We live in a society which denies death, and in so doing, denies life. Entheogens force us to confront essential issues of life, death, and identity. This is, really, what people fear about them. They fear it so much that they would stop others from investigating these mysteries.

We cried at the realization of what we are. Or what we are not.

Another reference to the previous trip. Self-realization, self-revelation, can be a profoundly disturbing experience. But does it therefore follow that ignorance is preferable?

I have to attend to the matter of my life. It is like a plant, or a garden, which must be tended. There does seem to be an integrity to those who work with the earth, [who] rely on it.

Sensing the reality of my eventual dissolution, I feel the urgency of cultivating a life that is meaningful and beautiful. Too often I take the safe and habitual route. The metaphor of the garden presents itself: life as an organic phenomenon. We do not create our destiny outright, but like a gardener we can plant seeds and tend them. It occurs to me that growing plants is in many ways an alchemical project. Gardening involves all the ingredients of self development: discipline, intelligence, love... Like alchemy, it is a microcosm of spiritual evolution.

Whatever happened to 'striking out to find one's fortune,' like in all the old stories? The things that we take for granted hold us back.

Many tales begin with the youth setting out from home, seeking his destiny. There was the implication that destiny would, in fact, find him. None of this pre-fab future, with everything planned out from school to nursing home. That is a denial of destiny. The more we take for granted, the less sensitive we are to the prompting of opportunity, and the more vulnerable when our foundations crumble...

If these mushroom experiences are not euphoric it is because I am a sad person at heart.

But then, few aren't.

I must make changes in my life. I want to farm, to live off the land, to work with my hands. But what is happening to us? What is this history going on all around us?

Perhaps living in Manhattan makes me overly nostalgic for the 'simple life', that pastoral idyll of intimate communion with the land. But I think it holds up to scrutiny. To live off one's own harvest is to rely as much upon one's self as on the earth. But is it really what I want to do? The close of the Twentieth Century seems to herald astounding changes in the nature of human civilization. Can I afford to be isolated, not to contribute?

It just occurred to me that history is intimately bound up with communications media. I mean, if things seem to be moving faster, it is, in part, because we are so informed about so much.

Superficially, this is obvious. But I am talking about the perception of history. Perhaps the sense that things are speeding up is in part an illusion created by all the information that bombards us. Is it that more is happening, or that we just know more about it? Of course, there is a feedback loop at work here. Information does not passively circulate, accumulating in manageable puddles. It changes what it touches, affecting in turn the flow of occurrence which it describes. I remain convinced of the acceleration of historical currents.

I am an historical creature. Is there a part of me that is not? If I have seen it, it went unrecognized.

I do not stand outside the world, looking in. I am a part of it, a feature of the universe, the product of all that is and has ever been. Not just my body, but my mind, my sense of self. There is no sign here of the angelic component of the Self which so many mystics report. Or perhaps I am overlooking something that is right under my nose.

The fact is, I am depressed. I did not want to admit that to myself, but it now seems unavoidable. I am sad. Is this 'the Human Condition?' Or can something be done about it?

This sadness surprises me. I consider myself an optimist, one who is well-adjusted -- without being too complacent. But there has always been a melancholy streak, a sobriety in the midst of all my laughter. The things I need come easily, but what of the things I value? It is unclear whether this melancholy derives from the facts of my own individual existence, or if it is a fundamental sadness in the human soul. We are eaten up with a longing for... for what? What is this thing within us, driving us forward, calling our name from the deepest Abyss?

Everything is so complex. It becomes overwhelming. I am a sad monkey, trying to keep up.

I am being shown many layers of meaning simultaneously. I am seeing myself from the inside out and the outside in, a sweep which encompasses the whole vastness of the universe. It is too much -- how could we ever hope to understand anything?

Intensely sad. Is it the fungus? It seems to bring this with it. And yet the sadness is within myself.

The behaviorist interpretation of all this is that the mushroom itself caused me to be depressed: I ate it, and became sad. But is it 'just the drugs'? None of this seems like whacked-out raving to me. It still makes sense, the next day, though I no longer feel the sadness. Actually, I feel really good now, having passed through the ordeal.

Do I want to study? Graduate school? It is an abstraction.

One of the major issues facing me now. It is often talked about, but I don't understand what kind of commitment this is.

I am experiencing the wrath of Teonanacatl. He shows you what you are, and there is no way to run from it. Far from 'special effects' and amazement, what I am being shown is the banality of my life. Why live in New York City? Why live in any city?

Teonanacatl: the Aztec name for the mushroom. It means 'the flesh of god.' All this soul-searching feels very much like a lesson I am being taught by a stern disciplinarian, but for my own good. This is real knowledge, it is what I came here for; it is what I am getting. I am being taught about myself -- not superficial curiosities, but things that are of ultimate importance to me, normally avoided for fear of change. I continue to reevaluate my current living situation.

I have to make some decisions. I have to figure out what I really value and what I do not. And though it is painful, I must face it, and do so alone.

But will the resolve keep in the light of day?

I find myself looking at my life: we make decisions about who we are. Student? Farmer? What do I want to do? We do not need parallel universes; this one is strange enough. The mushrooms, this weekend, alone, has precipitated some sort of emotional crisis. It is as though all the issues that I defer and file away somewhere are now reintroducing themselves to me, demanding acknowledgment, demanding payment.

And regardless of who let them in the front door, they are quite real.

All this talk of globalism -- the world is still a much bigger place than we usually care to admit.

Worldwide communications, the death of nationalism, new paradigms -- let none of this be confused for adequate knowledge of the world. Surprise lies potent at all levels of reality.

Immense sadness. Who am I? Am I this collection of habits, compromises?

The thought is harrowing.

The mushroom brings with it whatever lessons it feels are appropriate. Knowledge of self is not an easy thing.

This truly sums up the experience. Most people would consider this a 'bad trip.' I was intensely nervous, shaken to the core, biting my nails, my lips, standing in the middle of the room gazing in horror into empty space, peering out the window, hoping for relief, near tears. At no point did I regret what I was doing. I recalled accounts of the shamanic experience, wherein the self is torn apart by the ancestor spirits, so that it may be constructed anew. This wasn't quite so intense, but the elements were there. Such a crisis is the source of strength, if properly understood. The mushroom demands trust; otherwise, all is madness.

LATER: Almost back to baseline. The mushroom is a tool for introspection. It holds up a mirror and forces one to gaze upon it.

It is an ontological catalyst. Whether the experience is ecstatic or terrifying depends, in part, on the kind of information one needs. This is not a path which everyone should take. Not everyone wants to see themselves revealed, unpeeled and pinned to the board in front of them. Self-knowledge is not a checklist of niceties and foibles, it is a furnace where the impurities burn. And the more fuel, the hotter the blast.

I cannot overemphasize the value of this experience for me. It is not what I expected, and yet surely it has changed me. How can anyone, reading these words, dismiss this as hallucination or delusion? I invite them to try it themselves, and then tell me why I should be considered irresponsible -- or a criminal -- for doing what I have done.

Exp Year: 1996ExpID: 6909
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given 
Published: May 17, 2001Views: 52,498
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Mushrooms - P. cubensis (66) : Alone (16), Mystical Experiences (9), Difficult Experiences (5)

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