Citation: Nowhereman. "Reflections in the Obsidian Fountain: An Experience with 4-AcO-DMT, Ketamine & Psilocin (exp71909)". Erowid.org. Jul 8, 2008. erowid.org/exp/71909
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I tap the barrel of a Bic against the barrel of the syringe and watch the bubble dislodge from the surface of the black plunger on its mark at ~110 insulin units.
Should I do this or just go to bed? Am I just trying to escape boredom and a vague depression? Last week definitely added a new element to the repetitive but endlessly intriguing odyssey of my 4-ho-DMT and ketamine combination trips, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most prolific pair of drugs I’ve ever held a telepathic trialogue with. I’ve experienced psychedelically simulated birthing and birth accompanied by symbolic and entirely automatic body movements under their direction. On two separate occasions I asked a question out loud that was immediately and unexpectedly followed by a spasm of poetic automatic speech that actually answered the questioned asked. These drugs have provided a forum for the expression of an inner non-conscious intelligence unlike anything I’ve encountered in 10 years of psychedelics use. The uniqueness and profundity of these experiences obligates me to pursue them further—though obviously some might arrive at the opposite conclusion! Anyways, I already sucked 7mg of 4-AcO-DMT into my sinuses to lay the foundation for tonight’s dose 30 minutes ago.
Enough convincing myself—I look back at the plunger, burp the barrel, get set, and go.
14mg of synthetic psilocin and 55mg of racemic ketamine sinks into my upper right thigh and spreads through my muscle like the venom of a newborn god.
I begin to feel the ketamine within 30 seconds of starting to press the plunger. I finish the syringe, take off my clothes and climb in bed. Within a couple of minutes the psilocin bites down hard. It’s just a generalized tryptamine tension at first, but by six minutes after injection it’s obvious I’m in for it.
Twice the entire field of my vision warps to the left, like the tracking on my eye screens needs tweaking—I don’t think that’s happened before. I start the approximately 50-minute playlist I’ve prepared as the soundtrack of the trip and lay back. I worry for a moment that the mild depression I started into this with might bend the wild tangent I’m planning to take out of my head irretrievably askew. But by about eight minutes in the ketamine is providing me with enough dissociative distance from the day that I can’t even recall what a vacant feeling in the chest is like.
Relief gives way to euphoria, and the euphoria breaks into tangible waves that splash moiré patterns throughout the air. These tangible waves are one of a few special signs for me. The 4-ho-DMT and ketamine combination is always extraordinary, but there have been a few times before—even on just 4-ho-DMT or 4-AcO-DMT, and to some degree independently of the dose—when my head gets especially heavy, like it is now. During the onsets of these special times, when I know I’ve invited a hidden part of myself to wake, if I walk I must do so literally hunched over, and when I close my eyes I see a vision of myself sleeping. I see myself sleeping.
When I open my eyes they feel as though they’ve been dashed with sand. This is one of the other symptoms that signify I will be entering a certain unmistakable “realm” during a 4-ho-DMT and ketamine trip. Sleep tingles spider walk across the roof of my mouth and down my throat (I always think I have a hair in my mouth), and sand continues to fall into my eyes. My corneas subsequently feel as though they’ve lost their pressure, like the soggy skins of deflated grapes.
From the beaches of my eyes, between their green shores and the ceiling lamp, I see a sea of spiritual substance. I don’t even believe in the existence of an incorporeal soul, but I’m soaked in soul substance. I am the substance.
I reach out shakily and run my hand in a wide arc, sweeping the surface of the spectral waters. As I wave my hand back and forth, I’m suddenly jarred to feel myself hurled up into the barrel of the resulting wave! I tumble for a moment and come crashing down into an abyss of memory.
My feet slip out from under me as I lose traction and fall. I grasp frantically at an exposed root while stumbling down the eroding sands of an island arroyo.
I’m confused. This has happened before during a camping trip. It is exactly that memory from two years ago! The re-experience of the event is utterly transporting, and its immediacy is alarming.
I’m startled out of the vision and back into my bed. For a moment I’m confused that I should even find myself lying here. Thrilled at the barefaced physicality of my amplified memories, I take a ravenous draft from what I understand is the very life water of sentience, in whose translucent juts and jags I now find myself afloat.
I clumsily scoop the air of my bedroom with my hand and throw it back into my face, or perhaps this act itself is part of the vision, I cannot tell. The “water” is sharp and icy cold as it pelts my skin.
I’ve fallen again, this time into two-foot-deep Wyoming powder from when I was on a ski trip four weeks ago. I look up in a daze. The sun on the mountain is bright and I must cover my eyes, and as my hand eclipses the sun I find myself returned again to the darkness of my bedroom.
I pause to consider my situation and feel a sense of great caution. I worry that I’m splashing around in some erstwhile hidden reflecting pool of my life. Until now its still image has been held undisturbed in somber reverence, long framed by the contours of this deep well of self—and here I am being reckless.
No sooner does this notion enter my mind than an ominous bubble is felt freeing itself from the water’s depths. It bends my vision across its gurgling surface as it rises up through me. I feel distorted and sick as the bubble passes through my chest and up through my head.
I need to stop moving if I’m to regain composure. I literally cross my arms and hold them in place, sarcophagus-like, allowing myself to slowly sink below the surface. With every second of my descent my awareness of my bedroom grows further obfuscated by the dark leagues of distance now looming above me. Dimmed dreams of staircases—permanent fixtures in the architecture of my sleep—are vividly visible now in the contrasts of the deep. The stairs appear in a succession of memories of past dreams. Many of these memories are from dreams I only now, for the first time, remember are from dreams I’ve even ever had. It’s strange to remember something both never known and so long past for the first time; it’s so ephemeral and distant, yet in this state I recognize both their content and their status as departed dreams clearly and in context. They’ve been here, sunken in the well. And now they’ve spliced themselves into a spiraling route I feel I could take forever downward.
But the descent ends. The experiential distortion first broadcast from the wake of the “bubble” finally stills and its contours sharpen, its warp and woof pulled taught now, as smooth and subdued as black glass. The well is dark except for the slow roil of a fast-diminishing fountain at the water’s surface, which appears to me now framed at the center of a vision.
The fountain too, finally bubbles down and stops, and for a moment everything is dark and still. I feel suspended in a timeless quiet, skating across black glass through life unaware…
The silence is disturbed by a portentous shift somewhere in the impossibly deep space of my chest. There’s something unbearable there. Elemental. It’s been loosed by a tectonic shift and can’t be contained. I recognize in a furry of alarm and self-estrangement that these terrible vibrations are in fact the first pounds of an awakening heart. Its power is tangible and growing. I can’t place its location, but I know it’s nearing me. I can almost feel my teeth rattle as the quake bounds through my chest, hurtling my ribs on its path to face me.
I wrench my attention back into the blackness, to the grave of the dying fountain. An awesome force is condensing there. I don’t understand it entirely, but I know that what is forming there is the very substance of my life.
Then, propelled by an unfathomable energy, a tendril composed from the well water itself heaves upright through the darkness.
It’s presence is magisterial, and its vigor absolute. I don’t see it. It isn’t an image. It is an experiential meta-form: I feel my whole life tearing through its veins, it flexes my experiences in its muscles and its skin is composed of the moods and textures of my past.
It shifts shape and grows with fierce power and precision, redrawing vast swaths of both my recent and childhood memories every time it billows outward. The exactitude of its violence is sublime. The growth pangs of its ecstasy threaten to burst my skin.
“Self constructor,” I hear myself gasp out loud as tears flow past my ears and blot the pillow.
From here I find myself pulsing through the veins of the tendril, hurled through various channels of my life’s experience with a speed exceeding some definite but unknown limit. But I never feel confined to just one channel. It’s as though I am looking into a single facet of a prism, with my immediate experience playing out in the largest and most central frame of the kaleidoscopic scene but with innumerable other experiences of my life felt flitting like flames around its edges. Everything is so present, so clear.
Like before, when the memory of falling and gripping the root on the island during a summer kayaking trip was followed subsequently by falling from my skis and into snow, the channels of my memories remain networked through associationistic nodes.
A string of prayer flags snapping in the wind over a Nepalese mountain expanse becomes psychedelically spliced into the cable line of a tramcar leading down from Rio de Janeiro’s Sugar Loaf peak. A tunnel maze beneath the floor at Chuck E. Cheese’s I crawled through during a childhood friend’s birthday party opens out into a blizzard-battered night framed by the mouth of a snow tunnel dug out at age nine along my parent’s street.
I travel between waking life memories and memories of dreams thought forgotten forever with equal facility. In this world constructed of life experiences and held together by associations, dreams bear loads as heavy as those from waking life.
And I’ve dreamt of this moment, this experience itself, too, vaguely even as a child. I’ve harbored a desire only brushed against at the far edge of those callow dreams, which I thought impossible to sate: to clothe myself in any texture of experience at will, to sink into its tangible moods, and to tumble through life’s wardrobe naked and laughing. A ridiculous dream, but here I am triumphant in spite of it, laughing.
Through all of this my body contorts beyond my control in strange and symbolic ways that seem integral to the experience. My head cranks up and to the left and I careen down through a trap door into a forgotten phantasmagoric nightmare. My right arm flicks like a switch in quick angular movements as I vacillate in my choice of routes through the phenomenal labyrinth.
Periodically my knees will draw up to my chest and my back will arch sharply. My neck cranes back and my face contorts into the expression of a wailing infant. As it has during certain heavy experiences with 4-AcO-DMT and 4-ho-DMT in the past, this episode ends with me choking in a fully tangible pool of warm amniotic fluid.
Whether this is a relived memory of my birth or entirely a hallucination I don’t know, but I actually feel the wetness (and always worry that in reality I’ve pissed myself!) Symbolic body movements accompanied by visions of giving birth to, and being born from, myself have been a constant in this union with my unconscious mind since the second time it happened—an extremely disconcerting event at the time*. This however, is the most complete and astounding of the six re-birthing episodes I’ve gone through, all courtesy of 4-AcO-DMT or 4-ho-DMT—but not from any of the many other powerful psychedelics I’ve used during this time.
From this position on my back, my legs swing upward forming a “< >” shape, similar to a spider’s rear legs as it descends from is web, which is the vision present to me now. My feet bend inward and my toes point toward each other, and I start to feel the sides of my feet brush past one another on alternate sides as my legs swing at my hip joints and move like the blades of a scissors. I feel them sewing some warm visceral substance as they move in this kind of quick repetitive pinching motion.
My arms begin a kind of angular dance, and I have a vision of myself in the skunkworks of a vast mandala, as the central operator of a process I generate but do not understand. Every movement, as I perform it—as symbolized by the content of the mandala vision—is seen as integrated into the mechanics of the conscious experience of the movement itself. Though the limb movements feel integral and functional to the happenings of the vision, I conclude they are made only as communicative and symbolic gestures, as I have to doubt that amputation would excise the essence of such a core experience.
I next begin to feel mild electric jolts at my hips. The sensation alternates between my left and right hip every second or two and my whole field of vision bounces between the jolts. It takes me a moment to realize what’s going on and look down toward the foot of the bed for confirmation. I’m walking! Or rather my legs are making the motion of stepping out onto and walking on some invisible surface that runs perpendicularly to the mattress and extends up toward the ceiling. Every second or two my heels send reverberations through the box spring as they batter down on the sheets, sending waves traveling through my line of sight.
I cannot recall the circumstances of the trip’s narrative that led to the walking motion. There was simply too much going on to keep track of. I resolve to pay special attention to see if I can’t find out what exactly happened in the visions to initiate it next time, if anything did at all.
At this point David Lynch slinks his way into my mind. I recall the only clue he gave to the audience for understanding his film at the premier of “Inland Empire.”
Lynch recites from the Aitareya Upanishad: “We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.”
With every step across the network I myself have woven my spider’s foot plucks the threads, sending out reverberations and shaking sticky moods from the web that transduce into the chords of melodies whose progressions I can only track because I’ve lived them.
A memory so simple as exiting work and retrieving a snack from my car a week ago I discover to have its own “mood”—a seemingly pre-linguistic, pre-imageable feeling that is absolutely unique and precisely this-event-in-my-life’s own. I’m not certain whether this mood or impression or atmosphere—or whatever—is a gestalt of the sensory experiences that compose the memory, if it is truly primary to those sensory experiences, or if it makes even sense to make such distinctions. I only know my bewilderment is beautiful.
No sooner have I started to come to grips with the new episodes of the trip than an orange light soaks though my eyelids and drenches the visions with an eerie hue. Though I still feel the press of the mattress at my back, I have a strong sense of having come into a new space. The light seems very real, and I expect to see the kitchen light on as I open my eyes. The only visible light is from the nightlight that shines the way to the bathroom, but that lays in broken green shards scattered against the wall.
The kitchen switch has not been flicked, but the light is not just another ornament of the visions either. With my eyes open, a warm orange glow illuminates the wall directly to my right from a source that appears to be behind my eyes or below the bed. But I feel momentarily paralyzed and cannot sit up to turn around.
I experienced this light for the first time one week ago during my last 4-ho-DMT and ketamine trip. It is another fantastic new addition to these journeys, and it is the main reason I am using the drugs again so soon (I’m usually a once a month person.) It’s a truly unique phenomenon in my more than a decade of psychedelic visual experiences, and has a character quite unlike other open eye visuals, which for the most part have always bored me. But it will remain mysterious. The light fades and does not return.
I continue to writhe in a kind of searing ecstasy that would probably look like agony to any in witness as the playlist begins its third repetition. I had forgotten I was listening to music at all.
This has been going on for nearly two hours, about double the duration of my usual intramuscular ketamine and 4-ho-DMT trips. Though the doses of each were at least 10 percent higher than usual, that alone cannot account for this radical extension of time. It must be due to insufflating the longer lasting 4-AcO-DMT beforehand. I’ll have to remember that.
Knowing that, at two-and-a-half hours past injection, it will be ending soon, I predictably begin to plead with “you,” the unseen force I imagine is somehow me and is orchestrating the experience. .
“How can I find my way back?” I ask desperately, secretly hoping I’ll somehow be granted a course I can follow through the landscapes of future dreams and hypnagogic visions.
But of course there’s no answer. That is fine. I am grateful for what I was shown: a higher self that spins the threads of the very life I walk upon and the web of memory and mood that gives that life shape, performing its sacred work in the nidus of a deeper heart.
To have re-lived my past through the eyes of this higher self confirms its secret presence even in my youth, and all but guarantees its witness to my future. It has been with me since early on and will always be.
It is indeed heartening to my faith to have worn the hands that shape my life as gloves, to have gathered the forever-flow of mental magma and shaped it as it hardens into an obsidian sculpture of my life at this one point in time. I look on that sculpture now with reverence and satisfaction, and bask in the warmth of its radiance as it cools into the black glass that reflects everything and nothing at all.
As I return to sobriety the warmth leaves me and my faith begins to dissipate. The exact details of my visions slip away, but the memory of the strange movements that seized my body remain in focus. These automatic movements are very intriguing.
I consider the idea that my belief that the movements have some kind of psychospiritual function or meaning is fallacious—that in my interpretation of the events I’ve been playing sobriety’s old game even after the deck has been shuffled and new cards have been dealt by the drugs.
That may be, but whatever speculative meaning I assign to the subtleties of these movements, one thing is for certain: they aren’t wholly mistakes. This is no Thorazine shuffle or degenerating dopamine axon terminal twist. These aren’t the stereotyped movements of a drug-simulated disorder, and their furtive flexions will not be found diagramed in the steps to any dance of chance. A diverse repertoire of repeated, rhythmic, symbolic, and well-orchestrated body movements that enact themselves without conscious direction is not something that manifests itself in error or that I can dismiss with a shrug. Whatever the characters and details of its plot, there is a deeper story here. I’ll read on.
* I hadn’t read of Grof’s “re-birthing” sessions with his LSD patients in the 60s at this time. It was a great relief to me when I did a few months later. To this day I believe that if I had not had the experience myself I would have probably dismissed Grof’s work entirely as an unlikely amalgam of hypnotic psychedelic trance and psychoanalytic suggestion. It was good see at least some of what I experienced had been recorded before. I was so disconcerted when it happened because I had never heard of anything like this and thought that I had broken down a barrier important to my safety and sanity. I considered that automatic movements might continue beyond the length of the trip, or even occur spontaneously while driving. Thankfully, they’ve remained confined to psychedelic experiences.
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