Citation: Big Chief. "At One With the Mud: An Experience with Mushrooms, Diphenhydramine & Cannabis (exp70925)". Erowid.org. May 22, 2008. erowid.org/exp/70925
Yesterday was my first experience with psilocybin mushrooms. I am a 19 year old male, 140 pounds, and I have taken LSD three times in the past and smoke cannabis maybe five days a week. I had heard mixed reports about mushrooms from my friends. Some insisted that acid is the more profound drug, and that mushrooms are just fun by comparison. Others maintained that mushrooms are crazier, like poison for the mind, while acid is cleaner and happier. Still others insisted that it is mushrooms that are the more profound drug, and that everyone should experience them at least once. Despite the conflicting descriptions, I was intrigued by psilocybin, eager to experience Terence McKennaís drug of choice and a psychedelic more ancient than I can possibly imagine.
Having been told by the dealer that the mushrooms were the best he had ever eaten, we expected liberty caps. When we discovered them to be common cubensis (albeit big, tasty looking cubensis) we assumed it was just a selling ploy. Our money situation, however, mandated that we only buy a half eighth each. I was so thoroughly convinced that a low dose of cubensis would be mild, that my fears about mushrooms were almost completely assuaged. On a sunny Friday morning, two friends and I ate 1.7 grams each in peanut butter sandwiches along with a pill that B told me was Dramamine to ease the nausea. In fact, it was Benadryl, which B had mistakenly assumed to be the same chemical (itís actually diphenhydramine, where as Dramamine is dimenhydrinate). This was mistake number one, though we didnít know it until after the trip. We were all in high spirits and comfortable, and expected nothing but a fun time. We also had an experienced sitter that I felt was perfect for the job Ė comforting, spiritual, and extremely familiar with mushroom trips both good and bad. We set out for a grassy hill by the river around noon.
My trip came on slower than the others, because I had eaten some soup beforehand. My companions began to notice some mild visuals after about 30-40 minutes, while mine came on after an hour or so. We laid on the hill for a while and I played my harmonica. After a few minutes, when we were all sure that we were tripping, at least mildly, we walked down to a muddy beach on the bank of the river. I felt immensely connected to the mud, letting it wash around my bare toes. I intently observed the patterns it made as it flowed into the stream. I recalled the final chapter of Walden, in which Thoreau muses on the notion that the same principles which produce geometric patterns in nature are at work in the human body, and I imagined that I was formed in much the same way as the mud flow. We splashed about in it like children, examining the plant life along the shore, giggling and declaring that all of the flora and fauna were our friends.
Eventually, we crawled back up the hill to lay in the grass. I felt that I was melting into the dirt. The diphenhydramine was coming on at this point, though I didnít know it. It made me feel extremely hazy and lethargic. My speech became slow and my thoughts were especially silly, though I donít know how much of this to attribute to the psilocybin. I placed my head close to the ground, peering through the grass like it was a forest. I became convinced that it was a whole world just under me. I was starting to experience some ego dissolution as I became startled by how big my arm was compared to how big I thought I was. How can I be an inhabitant of the dirt if Iím so huge? That must be someone elseís arm, Iím a worm. I giggled at the thought of being a worm, and living in harmony with the ants and the grass and the fungus. I felt intensely earthy, as though underground was where I was meant to be. I wanted to be dirty and primitive. I recalled the Tom Waits lyric, ďThereís a world going on underground!Ē I felt that this world could only be the mushroom world, and itís where I wanted to live. At one point an ant scuttled from behind a blade of grass I was studying. At first I was startled, but then I laughed and greeted it, ďHello, friend!Ē
About an hour into the trip, roughly two hours since eating the mushrooms, we decided to smoke a spliff I had rolled the day before. I was a bit apprehensive, but since my trip had been fairly mild so far, with only a few subtle visuals, I decided enhancing it slightly could do no harm. This was mistake number two. Almost immediately after my first hit, I watched the spliff melt in my hand. This was entertaining for a moment, but after a few more hits, I became nervous. I was falling into thought loops in which I would think about thinking about thinking and so on ad infinitum, until my mind was consumed by thoughts about nothing spiraling out of control. I also began experiencing CEVís. These maintained the earthy theme for the most part, consisting of an organic, pulsating, spiraling mass of mud, flesh, plants, and mushrooms, with Alex Grey-like eyes peeking out from the crevices. The whirling and morphing of this structure seemed to echo the spiral logic of my thoughts in an extremely unpleasant way. For a while, I played my harmonica again, and the CEVís changed. I felt that I was diving into the harmonica itself and my visuals changed to red and orange lights playing across my eyes. This comforted me momentarily, but if I stopped playing, the thought loops and the fleshy, muddy CEV would return.
At this point, we glanced around us and found the hill becoming quite crowded. A woman that we hadnít noticed earlier had laid down very close by, another girl sat on a bench not too far off and walkers and bikers of all sorts passed by on the bike path just a few feet away. We grew intensely paranoid and decided to walk back to campus. The college campus in the spring time is a total zoo. Hundreds of people enjoying the weather were walking about, throwing Frisbees and laying in the sun. Upon seeing them, we grew even more paranoid and slumped against a tree trying to calm ourselves. We babbled incoherently as words had largely lost their meaning for us. My vision was so scrambled that I was completely overwhelmed by the mass of people around me. Eventually, we fought through our lack of control over the English language and determined that we needed to go inside. We stumbled to Tís room and collapsed on his bed.
For B and I, the trip had by this time turned extremely dark. T was having a difficult time, but kept it in check. Our sitter was in over his head, especially now that he was quite stoned. I panicked at the thought of my last liaison with the real world being under the influence, even though he was nowhere near as messed up as I was. I had completely forgotten what sobriety felt like. When I tried to recall, I would superimpose the trip mindset onto my memories. This led me to believe that I would never come down, that I was permanently falling into insanity. At one point, B decided against the insistence of our sitter that he needed to be alone. When he left, I panicked even more. Slumped on Tís roommateís bed, I began to imagine images of burnouts and scum. This is it, I thought. I have fallen too far into the drug culture. I took a powerful drug and lost my sanity. I am no better off than junkies and meth heads. Eventually, someone will have to tell my friends and family what Iíve done - that the Eric they know is gone forever and in his place is the fried, scared shell of a man.
I hadnít made a sound for some time. Our sitter told us that he needed to go check on B, and apologized that he couldnít stay with us. T was still with me, doing much better than I was, and the sitter instructed him to keep telling me comforting things. Once we were alone in the room, things turned even darker. What is life? I thought to myself. Life is the time between birth and death, nothing more. It can only end in death, there is no other option. When will death come? Death will come when my mind and body stop working. Jesus Christ, I am dying! I have eaten a poison. I will fall deeper and deeper into insanity and leave myself no other option but to wait for the mercy of death! My CEVís turned from brown and green to a sickening red. I felt light headed, and believed I was about to faint and never wake up. I started to flail and convulse and almost fell off the bed. T didnít know what to do with me. I calmed myself momentarily. ďTell me what itís like to be sober, I asked him.Ē ďI donít know,Ē he replied. ďIím sorry, I forgot a long time ago.Ē I fell back into panic and twitched uncontrollably. I was sweating bullets.
I am filth! I thought. I live in filth, I came from filth, and when I die I will decompose into filth! Being at one with the mud took on a new, more twisted meaning. No longer was I an inhabitant of the silly, lovably dirty mushroom world. I was an inhabitant of the shit-filled bowels of the earth, surrounded by death and decay.
Relief finally came with the bizarre sensation that all of my bodily sensations were directly related to the purging of psilocybin from my body. My sweat was psilocybin seeping from my skin. The numbness in my fingers was psilocybin being pushed out through my hands. My twitching was my body battling against the mushroom demons. GET OUT OF MY BODY, GOD DAMN YOU! I screamed silently in my mind. I sat bolt upright, believing that I needed to purge. Vomit never came, but I felt some small semblance of clarity returning to my mind. Did I win? Did my body fight off the mushroom invaders? No, not yet, but I am better. At that moment, B and our sitter appeared at the door. B had been crying and thrashing, was covered in sweat and had sickening circles under his eyes. He looked like a man returning from a fight. He too was winning, slowly but surely.
It was 4:30. We had been tripping for under 4 hours. It felt like a lifetime.
Now reunited, the four of us made our way outside to smoke a pipe (far more pleasant than cigarettes, we decided). The world seemed more beautiful than I could possibly imagine, but my brain was still piecing together its reality. Nothing made sense, everything was overwhelming and alien. We sat in the center of the quad, caring little about the fact that we all looked like hell and were babbling nonsense. The pipe felt good even though I didnít notice much of a nicotine buzz. We realized that we were supposed to meet some friends in another part of campus some time ago, and decided to make the trip to where they were. I really had no idea what was going on, but I concluded that the only thing to do was roll with it, and walking was as good an option as any.
For the remaining two hours or so of the trip, I felt intensely primitive, like a caveman. The psilocybin had effectively purged my mind of all its extraneous constructs, leaving only the bare essentials for life. I confronted the mushroom gods, and they taught me that I am not smart, I am not philosophical or clever. I am an animal. I wallow in the mud and all I really want to do is eat, sleep, poop, and fuck. From my new, somewhat more sober perspective, I realized that this is not a bad thing. There was a certain macabre beauty in the nihilistic worldview that the mushrooms had imparted to me. I was reminded of the philosophy in the book Fight Club, that only when one hits rock bottom do they feel totally alive. I lost a fight to the mushrooms, but in doing so I felt reborn as a simpler, stronger person. Having lost control of my life, I cleansed it of all unnecessary fetters, and for that I regained control of what was really important. Everyone I saw glowed with a sort of dirty sexual energy. People are disgusting, I thought, and people are beautiful for their grossness. I loved their fat and their sweat and their body hair. I felt united with the Id and no longer afraid of it. I am a caveman! Why shouldnít I live as such, only concerning myself with true needs? For the remainder of the day, even after the last of the mushroom glow faded, I felt totally in control of my life. I have simple needs, I realized, and I possess all of the tools I need to fulfill them.
Never again will I take diphenhydramine with mushrooms, nor will I smoke weed when I feel that I am tripping hard enough, but I will never forget the lessons that this trip taught me.
After some research I am certain that the mushrooms I ate were in fact cyanescens, as they had thinner stems and broad flat caps.
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