Citation: Howard. "The Universe is a Fractal: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp69232)". Erowid.org. Jun 4, 2009. erowid.org/exp/69232
I had used psilocybin mushrooms on several previous occasions. They were my introduction into psychoactive substances. Since my initial use I believe I had only used them two times, and had begun to use cannabis occasionally (couple times a month). So at this time I had very little experience with them, although for some reason I felt like I was experienced with them. After my initial experience which was both a bad and a good trip, at some points scaring the hell out of me at other points being very euphoric and relaxing, I was very eager to use them again. It was quite some time before I had access to them again and decided to buy a quarter because they were often hard to find and I knew I would want to use them several times at least before I could get more.
I was a senior in high school at this time and upon my introduction to drugs had taken to skipping school, while my parents were at work, occasionally to use cannabis and rarely other substances (alcohol, a few times psilocybin). This particular day I skipped school and ate the remaining eighth (3.5 grams), having already consumed the previous eighth in two separate experiences. Up to this point I had never taken more than half of an eighth at a time (1.7 grams). I believe I ate this much because my previous two experiences had been pleasant (very euphoric and relaxing) but had not had the full hallucinatory effects that I was interested in experiencing. I was not entirely sure what to expect with this dose, but I did not think it would be too much for me when I took it. I was aware of the dangerous effects psychedelics could have and understood that using a tripsitter was the safest way to take psychedelics, but at the time I do not think there was anyone who I trusted to do this for me. So going into the experience I was slightly worried about losing control, but I would not have taken that amount if I suspected it was very likely.
I remember after taking them thinking to myself 'I should not be out in public while I am tripping, because I may act in a way that would upset people and cause me to get into trouble' and was very decisive that I should remain indoors for the duration of the trip. I took them fairly early in the morning, because I would drive myself to school so as not to arise my parents suspicions, then wait an hour or so for them to leave for work and then come home. So I probably took them around 8:00am or 9:00am and my parents would not be home until around 4pm giving me about 6 or 7 hours which I believed would be ample time to trip and be relatively sober when they got home. I also figured I could avoid them if I was still tripping too hard to be around them (something I was not able to do successfully with later experiences on psychedelics but it was not an issue this time).
I remember sitting at my computer listening to ambient music on internet radio as I began to threshold. I actually heard a song by Biosphere for the first time ever and instantly fell in love with them, feeling it was one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard. Later I bought the album for this reason. I realized while listening to music at the computer that I was thresholding, because I felt a familiar energy. I was a little excited waiting for the experience to begin and was not quite sure if I was feeling the drugs or just anticipation so I would keep getting up and wandering around paying particular attention to my senses looking for some alteration. So when I started to realize I was tripping I got up again and noticed rippling visual effects on the carpet I was standing on. My joints also felt fluid (which is a sensation I typically experience when thresholding on psilocybin) and I was amazed by the feeling of moving my arms (feeling very free and unrestrained).
I believe I listened to music at my computer for a while longer, but was becoming increasingly emotional. I think at one point I was crying at how beautiful the music was that I was listening to, and the depth of the emotional connection I was making with it. I cannot say whether they were negative or positive emotions, I guess they varied and fluctuated, but they increased in intensity until I was compelled by my overwhelming feelings to become active. My memory becomes a little fuzzy here, my most intense psychedelic experiences had memory loss. Even right after I experienced them I was not able to remember everything that I experienced, the exact flow of time for the whole experience, and there were other things that I knew I had experienced, but was aware that I could not understand them outside of experiencing them in the state of mind I was in when I did.
I vaguely recall wandering around my house somewhat randomly, thinking very strange thoughts, slowly becoming more and more confused. At some point I stared out the windows in my front door and was amazed at the color and clarity of the outside world, and was very curious to see what was out there. I reminded myself that I was trying to stay inside to be safe and wandered away again. I became more sporadic running around the house and looking at things very strangely, not comprehending anything the way that I normally would, becoming more and more emotional: a mixture of extreme excitement with occasional anxiousness, worried about what I was experiencing, and wondering what was going to happen to me. I remember coming back to the windows in the front door several more times staring through them, completely fascinated by the concept of the outside world. I think many people believe that psychedelics are best experienced outdoors, and I certainly agree with this, but in my current state of confusion I was probably best not interacting with the general public.
Regardless of my best intentions as the confusion and excitability grew I was unable to even remember that I was supposed to stay inside the house, or even remember that I was tripping on mushrooms. When I finally lost it I became very upset suddenly, due to my random emotions and confusion. I believe by this point I did not recognize my own house. I threw a bookshelf full of VHS cassettes onto the floor and stormed out of the house. I believe I flew out of the door very quickly. I don't remember coming down the street, but I can only assume that I was experiencing intense visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as very atypical thoughts and emotions. I vaguely recall rushing towards a gate in a fence, and upon opening it discovering a shed behind the fence. I opened the shed and slammed the door behind me. For some reason my running stopped at this point and I spent most of the trip in this shed. My concept of time was completely shot by this point, but by piecing together the entire experience I would assume I spent 2-3 hours or so in there. I believe I had a concept that I was running from or to something and when I got into the shed I felt like I had accomplished my goal, but maybe I decided to stay in the shed because I was beginning to peak and was incapable of running further. Maybe this is what was causing me to run, knowing that I was peaking and feeling like I needed to find somewhere safe to do it.
I cannot remember everything that I experienced in the shed, and like much of the trip up to this point, I only have disjointed fractions of memories and sensations. I remember for a while my whole concept of the universe shrank down to that shed, and I was unable to perceive anything outside of it, either spatially or temporally. I could not conceive of a world outside the shed, I could not remember a time before me being in that shed, or conceive of a time after. My concept of time slowly dilated further and further while I was in the shed but would ebb and flow somewhat as well, sometimes feeling like time was stretching eternally and other times almost returning to a sense of normal time. I remember feeling extremely confused and a lot of deep emotions, like depression, frustration at times, at other times intense wonder and curiosity. I had occasionally a sense that something very extreme was happening, like I was on the verge of a great breakthrough in understanding, this feeling at different times would fill me with intense happiness, like it was a real accomplishment, at other times it would be extremely frustrating, because it was a very painful experience and I felt as though if I could make the conceptual leap I was trying to make I would understand everything and my pain would be gone and meaningless. It felt at times like I was trying excruciatingly hard to understand everything in the universe, at other times it felt like I did understand everything in the universe through no effort or fault of my own.
I remember at various times looking around the shed at the lawnmowers and rakes and such things and feeling like everything I was perceiving was vitally important to me, but also like it was very old and had some meaning from past lives that I was incapable of recalling. I felt like I had existed in that shed for the whole of eternity and the vague memories I had of a life outside that shed were simply dreams that I would occasionally wake from and find myself back in that shed, that had always and would always be the only world that I had ever really known. There were wind chimes in the yard outside the shed and they were ringing the whole time, although I did not comprehend while I was hearing them what they were, they just seemed like part of the 'everything'; to this day hearing wind chimes always puts me in a slightly strange state of mind, recalling this experience (not like a flashback, just it makes me feel reflective and recalls some of the ideas and feelings from the trip).
Everything I experienced at this time felt deeply significant like it's meaning was deeper than time and space itself and went beyond anything I had ever experienced before, and it felt like everything I was experiencing then was connected in some way to everything else in the universe in some profound way that I was incapable of understanding. I had very intense deja-vu, feeling like I had experienced all this before, wondering why I was experiencing it again, and feeling like I would continue to experience it again and again forever, although I conceived that other experiences would come intermittently to these.
I recalled many memories, some of which I believe may have been from my early childhood that I was not able to remember during normal day to day life. At one point I heard a sound like a door creaking and suddenly slamming shut at the same time hearing a voice of a child saying 'Mommy?' and a sensation of things shattering. It seemed deeply significant at the time I experienced it and I felt a huge emotional connection to this memory/hallucination as if it defined my whole existence. Along with it went a terrible feeling of fear and something like guilt or shame. I felt as if something had changed and the consequences would be terrible.
The whole peak of the trip was intensely fearful, but the emotion would sometimes be beyond definition, at other times it would phase through all possible emotions. I remember starting to scream at times (or maybe chant or sing) and as I was expressing the overpowering emotion (that I was incapable of holding back, it felt as if I was letting loose all the pent up energy of an eternity) my voice would range in pitch and intensity like going from 'oooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa' expressing a variety of sensations I did not really understand.
During this time I would shift in and out of reality sometimes feeling as if I was stretching into eternity, like my existence was being pulled across the whole length of the universe and time; I suppose it was a feeling of transcendence and ego loss. I would feel as if I suddenly fell through reality and these moments would feel like they lasted forever while I was experiencing them, but just as suddenly I would fall back into reality, with a sharp start like someone waking from a nightmare. The whole time my confusion was paramount and my emotions were very extreme. I believe at times my emotions went beyond any distinction between good or bad. I was crying almost the whole time, snot running down my face.
I would have vague feelings like an intense need to do something, but no understanding what it was that I needed to do. At times it felt as if something like understanding (my sanity in retrospect?) was slipping out of my grip and sometimes it would feel like it was very close to me and I could almost reach out and grab it but I felt paralyzed as if I was incapable to do this and upon realizing this it would suddenly feel like it was thousands of miles away from me. I began the experience wandering around the garage, looking at things with bugged out eyes not understanding any of it. Spitting randomly at some point (I felt confused as to why I had done this). At any rate the more intense the trip became the less capable I was of moving, slowly the very concept of a body disintegrated into a purely conceptual experience, at which point I had curled up into the fetal position on the floor.
Now at this point the feelings of falling through eternity were much more intense and seemed to last longer. I would occasionally have a feeling like 'here it comes again, I better hold on' (inner monologue had ceased at some point during the experience and was replaced only by feelings that I can vaguely translate into words now) like I was going over the hill of a rollercoaster but at almost the same time that I felt a desperate need to hang on to something I realized there was nothing to hang on to, like the feeling I get when I first realize I am falling and wave my arms in the hope that I will grab something.
During the stretching into eternity feelings I would have a sensation like my concept of reality was zooming in and out, from the microscopic to the universal. At some points it would feel like I was looking at the entirety of existence, and it appeared to be a huge swirling fractal. It was more like a 3 dimensional fractal, but thinking back on it now the closest thing I can equate it to is the 2d fractal images that are popular with psychedelic users. All the 'pixels' (or points) of this fractal were moments in time and they were all swirled together in some huge mess which did not make sense in the linear concept of time, but I had a sense that it all fit in some way that was beyond my comprehension and was deeper and more meaningful than linear time or spatial relationships.
Throughout this whole experience I had an overwhelming feeling that what I was experiencing was more real than anything I had ever experienced before, and to this day I am convinced that outside my narrow concept of reality, this is what exists and awaits me (when I die for instance). In fact I had a vague sensation that within the webwork of this fractal were all the lives I had ever lived as well as all the lives I would ever live. It also seemed like everything that existed was represented within this incomprehensible swirling fractal. I distinctly remember thinking 'This is the big picture, this is what everything actually is like'. I talk about it like it looks like something but at this point my sensations were beyond the five senses, there was no distinction between look hear smell taste or feel, all experience was experienced in something like a hypersense, wherein I was acutely aware of every detail, every facet of everything without being limited by seeing it the way we normally sense things (which is always an incomplete picture no matter how accurate). As I was saying before, I would zoom in and out of this fractal, at times experiencing the individual lives and experiences of the universe as if I was living that life, and had no concept of anything outside of that life, and other times zooming back out to the big picture and experiencing all of it again.
Outside of my guesstimate of how long this experience lasted I had no concept of time, and while I was experiencing it it felt like forever, but also the experience was so intense that anything like a concept of time was incomprehensible to me for most of it. At any rate I slowly ebbed and flowed back to reality. The storm had passed and I felt like I had been through some kind of beating that was beyond my understanding at that (and this) time. I was completely emotionally and psychologically drained, and still very confused. I think I started to wonder where I was, and this thought was tied to the idea that there was in fact some reality outside of this shed. I had no memory at this point of entering the shed, I had no idea how I got there, or that I had taken a hallucinogenic substance and that was the reason for what I had just experienced. I was just beginning to remember that I was a human being and along with it came concepts such as space and time.
I think right about this time (maybe what brought me back to my senses) I could hear a car door slam and someone walking around. I was able to comprehend that this sound was another human being, but my concept of reality and my memory had not returned enough for me to know what to make of this idea. I felt as though I had not seen another human being in an eternity, having a sensation like I had been born again and this was a brand new life. I thought to myself 'Should I interact with this person? Are people friendly in this reality? Is it safe?' I think wondering these thoughts brought back more of my previous understanding of my life and reality because I had a sensation like 'Maybe it would be best to avoid people for now'. I emerged from the shed and peaked through the gate (I was in somebodies backyard) and it felt like I had never seen this place before and I did not understand why I was there or where I was. When I saw that the person had gone into their house (it seemed she was carrying groceries into the house) I left the backyard and began walking down the street. At this point I recognized my neighborhood and realized that I should probably head towards my house. I think I almost had an idea that I was tripping but it didn't exactly click it was more like 'something weird is going on, let's get away from people so I can feel safe'.
The grade schoolers were just getting home at this point and a school bus drove by me and it's dimensions warped fluidly, growing from microscopic to humongous and rippling in reaction to the shifting. The houses on either sides of the street were doing the same thing; their dimensions were warping in some waving pattern. My spatial perception was extremely relative. I had little problem walking down the street however, I was only slightly disoriented by the warping proportions, it seemed like I was able to understand that what I was seeing was not real and I could understand the reality that was behind this hallucination. My friend's brother who lived across the street from me had just gotten off the bus and was walking back to his house. He looked at me and said 'Are you alright?' not so much like he was concerned but more like he was confused. At this point I realized that my appearance must be very strange, having just gone through some very intense emotions and confusion, I probably looked very haggard. I believe I just brushed the comment off saying something like 'Yeah'.
Anyway I returned to my house and found the front door wide open and the bookshelf I had thrown onto the floor, and rearranged this and closed the front door behind me realizing how dangerous it was to just leave the front door wide open like that for several hours. I don't remember anything from the rest of the day, but guess I just went about my business not thinking about it too much, subconsciously integrating the experiences as best I could and just getting on with my life basically.
In retrospect I feel it was very dangerous for me to trip that hard without a trip sitter, within such close proximity of the general (unsympathetic, non-understanding) public. I don't know if I have a low tolerance for mushrooms (maybe my relatively low body weight) or maybe what I hear from other people about them having no problems at higher doses is not accurate. Maybe I have underlying issues that make me more emotionally sensitive to psychedelics. At any rate I feel like it is a small miracle that I was not arrested or something. I cannot imagine what would have happened (how they or I would have reacted) if the owners of the shed I tripped in had stumbled upon me while I was peaking and acting like a mad man.
This was probably the most intense psychedelic experience I have ever had, and it's the one I think of most often. It gave me a lot of food for thought. At the time I was experiencing it I wished that I wasn't and it was excruciatingly painful, but I still feel as if I would like to explore psychedelics further. I know many people have one particularly intense trip and then they no longer wish to use psychedelics, but I do not feel this way yet. As strange, horrifying and incomprehensible it all was, I still feel like I got a whole lot out of it, and I feel as though it was the most complete understanding I have had of reality up to this point. I feel as though many of my spiritual beliefs were confirmed by this experience and I feel as though some deeper understandings of reality were formed, which I do not completely understand or know how to verbalize. At the same time I feel like my respect for and fear of psychedelics and reality were greatly deepened by this experience. I always looked at drugs as being potentially dangerous and not something to play with or to be taken lightly (although I do not always act accordingly) but this experience definitely drives that point home more than any other drug experience I have had.
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