Citation: Big Chief. "A Spiritual Chill and an Invasion: An Experience with LSD & Cannabis (exp70489)". Erowid.org. Jan 10, 2013. erowid.org/exp/70489
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My third acid trip (and third psychedelic experience in general) was a strange one. At only a single hit, it wasn’t intense enough to be a bad trip per se, and only at times was it difficult, but it was consistently uncomfortable, frustrating, and unfulfilling. Prior to this, in addition to two other acid experiences, I had been smoking cannabis for two years or so, and had experimented with DXM and salvia, both of which were largely unsatisfying. What I have learned throughout my fairly limited drug experience is that I am not one to enjoy getting fucked up or confused, and even weed can be unpleasant for me if not used in the right context.
What I perceived to be my set and setting before dropping were very different from what the trip revealed to me about my mindset, so I’ll revisit this later on when I analyze the trip. This took place during my spring break, Freshman year of college. The year had been good to me; I had wonderful friends, a great girlfriend, countless fond memories, and for the first time in quite a while, I felt that I was in a very good place psychologically. I was in a cabin in the Smokies with my nine closest college friends (my girlfriend was not present) and was enjoying myself immensely. The day before had been spent drinking, smoking weed, and enjoying the scenery and company. The day of the trip was lazy and unhurried. I had smoked a bowl in the morning, but by the time I dropped around 1, I wasn’t feeling anything. Other than that, there was no alcohol nor any medications in my system.
In my past acid experiences, the body high came at roughly the same time as the onset of the psychological effects, so I was surprised and a bit worried when just seconds after placing the hit under my tongue, the bitterness from the acid spread to my neck, back, and jaw and I started to feel the familiar cold tension. I tried to push the feeling out of my mind, but after a few minutes I grew worried and swallowed the hit to soften the onset. On my last trip, because the body load and the hallucinations hit at about the same time, I was too amazed by the trip to notice the uncomfortable feeling. This time however, I had nothing to think about except the body high for quite some time.
About 20 minutes after dropping, I went with a few friends to a small creek across the street from our cabin. I realized that my eyes must have dilated somewhat, because the light outside was very intense, and while I wasn’t hallucinating yet, everything had taken on a certain presence and glow. After a few minutes of sitting by the stream, I noticed that I was feeling quite anxious. This will pass, I thought - it’s normal to feel anxious when waiting for a trip to start. While my friends were hopping across the rocks to the other side, I felt incapable of jumping out, and moved slowly with excessive caution along the side. The cars that occasionally passed by also made me nervous. Though they presented me no threat, they were too close and too alien. Wishing to calm myself down, I crossed the street and climbed our steep driveway back up to the cabin.
Sitting on our porch (probably at around 35-40 minutes, but all times after this are estimated), I asked my companions if they were feeling anything yet. Most shook their heads or muttered something about the brightness, and I got the impression I was hit harder than anyone else. Looking over the railing of the porch, I saw the patterns on a rock shift slightly. Did I just get a visual? I looked at it again, and found it moving gently. I looked to my friend E. “Are you getting any visuals yet?” “No, are you!?” she responded with a grin. I nodded, but didn’t share her enthusiasm. I was having an extremely difficult time ignoring the body load. My long hair falling around my neck, combined with the typical neck tension of LSD was producing a crawling sensation all around my neck and back. In addition, I felt very cold, with a certain emptiness in my chest, as though the warmth I needed would have to come from the inside.
For the next few hours, all of the people tripping (8 in total, 2 of my friends had declined because of recent difficult trips) moved back and forth between the porch and the driveway. For the most part, the group acted as a unit, unanimously deciding every once in a while that the current location had ceased to be entertaining and that it was time to move. By this point I was well into my trip. The experience was mild enough for me to stay on top of my anxieties, but I couldn’t get over the discomfort of the body high. I was confused and frustrated, and kept waiting for the moment when I would break through and start rolling with the trip instead of fighting it. Because of this, I was usually a few minutes behind the movement of the group. When they would giddily migrate to another spot, I would remain with J, who was on two hits instead of one and so was less inclined to move, or talk to the two who weren’t tripping.
Whenever I did join the conversations of the larger group, I always perceived that the conversation was turning morbid. When I asked about this afterwards, few people remembered clearly what they had been talking about, and few recalled any particularly dark conversations, so I think this was mostly in my head. At any rate, when I tried to join the group, the topic (or what I perceived to be the topic) would invariably turn to something that caused me great anxiety. Not wishing to talk about death or ugliness or whatever it was I thought they were talking about, I would leave and try to find a more comforting conversation. For a little while, I talked with T, who wasn’t tripping, about what I felt. I told him that I wasn’t just feeling the typical acid cold, but a sort of spiritual cold. He was understanding and helped talk me through it, but when I realized that he was a little drunk, I got anxious and left.
I spent little time in the interior of the cabin, because it set off my hallucinations too much. The bare wood grain of the walls crawled about in an overwhelming way. The faux-rustic theme of the cabin meant that everything was intensely textured, so there was nothing in view that wasn’t moving or pulsating in some way. In addition, the geometry of the building was confusing to me. While it had felt comfy the day before, the layout seemed awkward while tripping.
At one point, maybe three hours in, T challenged me to a game of checkers. At the time, I thought a friendly game would be perfect to take my mind off my anxieties. After a few moves, I was relieved to find that the basic idea of the game was still familiar to me, though planning into the future was a somewhat alien concept. Then, after a foolish move on my part, T got a double jump. This was too much for me. His army was advancing too fast. My black pieces were no match for the unstoppable assault of his reds. In retrospect, it’s really quite funny that I got so worked up about a simple game, but in my addled state I had no choice but to concede and flee to the comfort of the porch.
There, drawing closer to my peak, I found myself in a thought loop that would shed some light upon the whole trip. There are things that still need to be taken care of, I thought to myself. There are things that still need to be taken care of. I had the overwhelming sense that the carefree attitude shared by my companions in our mountain paradise was false – that there are real issues that we were missing in our celebration. It would be weeks before I was able to dig into the real meaning of this through discussions with my friends. I’ll get into that later.
I moved back to the driveway where the majority of the group had landed once again. It was commonly felt that we were peaking. My friends were in ecstasy, staring at the clouds and the trees overwhelmed by awe. I felt detached, like I couldn’t get myself on the same wavelength, like I was having an entirely different trip. Suddenly, a large black truck pulled into our driveway. I took us all a moment to realize what was going on. Our cabin shared a driveway with another, and these were our neighbors arriving for the first time. At the time, they were purely alien – invaders that encompassed every idea of “other.” We panicked. With a steep drop off on one side of the drive and a steep incline on the other, there was nowhere to go but up. We scrambled in utter confusion to the door of the cabin as 4 other cars, all black, followed the first.
Jesus Christ! Who are they!? Do they know we’re tripping? What are they going to do to us!? Why can’t they leave us alone? I have often found that whatever one experiences during the peak of a trip defines the subsequent reconstruction of the psyche; for the remainder of the trip, everything would hinge around the moral dichotomy I formed around US and THEM - the invaders, the aggressors, the others. I fled into the cabin. Fuck! Are they following? Are they in the house!? I made my way back to the porch where all of the trippers had congregated. Though I was by far the most stunned of the group, everyone was babbling about THEM. We found ourselves in a collective thought loop, with the topic of conversation recursing upon itself every few minutes. The focal point of the loop was the concept of US and THEM.
My friend A, an experienced tripper, put on some Carlos Santana and told us not to worry about THEM. All that mattered was US, we should just pretend that THEY don’t exist and focus on the music. This worked for a while, and I had the first of a few brief moments of peace during the trip. I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the rolling percussion and joyous improvisation I heard. Wrapped in an old blanket that I had brought along - the only relief I could get from the chemical chill of the acid - I shook a tiny maraca to the beat with childlike joy. I also reached a point in the trip that was familiar with from last time – the point at which the hallucinations start to make sense. Yes, this is what acid is supposed to look like, I thought. The shapes and colors had a distinctively “acid” theme as opposed to the overwhelming collage of motion and distortion I had experienced before.
We sat there on the porch listening to music for several hours. I took some comfort in knowing that the peak had passed and that I had managed to keep The Fear in check. The body load was still very uncomfortable, but I got the feeling of stoic endurance, as when one goes through a whole day with a somewhat painful but bearable injury. There were also some really funny moments during this time, mostly due to the antics of the non-trippers, who were by this point quite drunk. When I compared the pleasurable moments of this trip with the good parts of my last, however, I was troubled. While the joy of my last trip was in the pure wonder and absolute awe at the magnitude of my experience and its spiritual/philosophical implications, this trip offered only hysterics. Certainly it was fun to cackle with hilarity at my friends, but there was little for me to think about or remember about it.
I also smoked another bowl during this time. I didn’t notice much about the combination, only that it seemed to pull some of the haziness of the cannabis high over the clarity of the acid high. The remainder of the gradually declining trip had this blunted quality to it, but few other elements that I associate with being stoned. The night proceeded fairly uneventfully. As the trip faded, we all grew hungry and somehow managed to make some good rice, though I was pretty useless in the cooking process. Afterwards we watched a movie and I went to bed early because fighting the body load all day had really taken it out of me. I wasn’t very tired because of the acid, but I desperately wanted to be in bed, to be alone in a quiet, comfortable place.
Looking back on this trip, it is clear that the main reason for my anxiety was the body high. Some of my friends attribute this to bad acid while others insist that there is no such thing. One friend speculated that on one hit, I never broke through and achieved the immersion that would have allowed me to ignore the discomfort. As for the thought loop – there are things that still need to be taken care of – I have drawn several conclusions that shed a lot of light on my life as a whole. I learned, partly with the aid of this trip, that failing to fulfill my obligations is one of my biggest anxieties in life. I also realized that as a 19 year old college student, it is often difficult for me to discern exactly where my responsibilities leave off and where my caretakers’ responsibilities begin. What should I have to do for myself? What am I justified in expecting of my parents? The blurred, ever-shifting line between needing to take care of myself and needing things to be taken care of for me is something that this trip really opened my eyes to. I also realized that set and setting can only be used to predict a trip insofar as one truly understands them. The tripping perspective on one’s situation can be so radically different from the sober perspective that what seems like the perfect time and place to trip may not be at all.
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