Cacti - T. pachanoi
Citation: Little Shulgin. "Water Waves of Light: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi (exp73444)". Erowid.org. Mar 25, 2009. erowid.org/exp/73444
This Report is written to describe as clearly as my memory may permit my experience after having consumed one liter of San Pedro tea. The experience largely took place at a University in suburban San Diego and ran from 3:30 PM to 12:00 AM Saturday, February 16.
Personal background: 38 year-old male. Former military experience. College graduate. Recovering alcoholic. I have no history of drug addictions, but have experimented with most drugs with exception to the psychedelics. I have had a brief history of panic attacks when under the influence of cannabaloids, which would explain why I never developed a marijuana habit. Up until now I have not had access to any psychedelic drug.
History with San Pedro tea (“tea”): I tried on two previous occasions to extract mescaline from the San Pedro cactus, both 18” specimens I bought from an on-line supplier. Neither attempt succeeded. I attribute this to an improper acid/base extraction technique and the over-boiling of the product.
Set: I am relaxed and very eager to drink the tea. I have no appointments and am under no short or long-term obligations or stresses. I have no anxieties or apprehensions related to the tea, mainly because I convinced myself that I’m too mature and have had enough “life experience” to be anxious about a psychedelic experience, despite my terrifying experience with cannabaloids back in my high-school years. “Besides,” I tell myself, “If things get bad, I can always end it with a walk to a liquor store…”
Setting: Pleasant, fair afternoon in suburban San Diego. The bulk of the experience takes place on a University campus on a sedate Saturday afternoon/evening.
T = 0.0: It’s 3:00 PM. I have one liter of tea. I drink two-thirds of the tea as I wait for the trolley that will carry me to San Diego State University, a large University in a suburban setting.
T = 0.35: I consume the rest after arriving at the University. I use some on-line resources on the campus to occupy my time as I wait for the tea’s effect.
T = 1.0: No effect noted whatsoever.
T = 1.5: No effect noted whatsoever. I grow impatient!
T = 1.6: The very first effect noted, at last! While sweeping my hand across the computer screen displaying a financial stock chart, a pronounced visual artifact (“tracer”) of my hand’s movement is observed, followed by a moderate surge of adrenaline as I think to myself, “The tracer proves this stuff is working! Hold on, because we’re in for a wild ride…” I get up from my computer and walk around the campus to shake off the anticipatory anxiety. No further effects noted, with exception to seeing all objects persist or ‘smear’ into each other with any movement.
T = 2.0: I sit down. What follows is the beginning of my very first psychedelic experience.
I am sitting outside in the middle of the campus. The sun has about two hours of life left before it sets. To my left is the campus library and to my right stands some assorted administration buildings. All of which are built in a lush, well-manicured environment. I sit on and look down at a wide concrete slab that edges a large concrete and brick courtyard which separates the aforementioned buildings.
Upon looking down, a trance-like state of mind takes over and I am utterly swept away by a ‘breathing’ effect of the ground. First, part of the concrete breathes profoundly upward, while ripples or waves run through the other part. The breathing quality then migrates to a different part of the concrete, while the brick inlay begin to subtly shift sideways. Then they shift back. Then the breathing waves over while ripples slowly run across the bricks as if the bricks and concrete were a liquid rather than a solid. The visual effect is altogether very similar to water waves on the surface of a large lake or ocean. The unrelenting and slow breathing, undulating and rippling of that concrete and bricks takes my breath away!
T = 2.15: I stroll to the Engineering department. I sit down and try to write down this experience as best I could on some loose paper I found there. Here is what I wrote:
(begin)“T=4:45 PM: Tracers seen while surfing [the internet]. First proof. “T=5:30: Very intoxicated – tracers; wavy, undulating, moving, breathing, back-and-fourth like I’m on the ocean. Definitely psychedelic now, with things in peripheral moving up and down. Electrifying! Colors – bright [ultraviolet]; the glowing stitches on my shoes [I was wearing Doc Martens at the time]. The [ultraviolet] reflection off my hand! [I was writing this on blue and pink paper] Images persist heavily (“visual artifacts”). Constant wavy, breathing motion, as if I’m on a boat and none of the objects are tethered down. T=5:30, T=5:45, T=6:00, 6:15 6:30 all report the same thing! Wavy, moving, undulating. I now know how to break through! By relaxing completely and trusting in God! Non-stop rhythmic motion. What’s the underlying rhythm to it all?' (end)
A student walking out of the Engineering building breaks the trance-like state I’m in; And with it, the color and movement. As he leaves the area, my mind effortlessly and naturally slips back into this trance and with it, the return of ceaseless motion and color. It is around this time that I am getting this recurring and nagging feeling that this new experience is somehow familiar – that is to say, that this new altered state is the real reality I have always been living in and always has been with me; That this new reality just needed mescaline to replace the old reality. I find it very difficult to express this ‘sensation’, if you would call it that, first, because I am inebriated. And secondly, because this feeling seems to return with force as if something is trying to tell me something. I noticed it on my way to Engineering, and it returns now. It’s as if this experience is not the altered state; That being sober is the altered state! There are those rare times when we dream. And in that dream, it becomes clear to us that it is a repeat of a previous dream – that everything that had been dreamt becomes patently familiar to us. This sensation I am experiencing is a lot like that, only I have never had a psychedelic drug before. Strange. I get up from Engineering and stroll throughout the narrow corridors and convoluted pathways that define the environmental architecture of this campus.
T = 2.25-2.50: There are a number of thoughts and observations I make but cannot bring them to memory with enough force to recount them in this report. I think to myself, “This is too intense, but I bet I will not remember it…”
I desire rest from walking, as I want to experience the visual and the emotional as best I can. Strolling to the Arts and Letters building, I am struck with awe the architecture of this building; in its grandeur, there it stands with a high, exposed terrace that’s defined by a long strip of red. A deeper appreciation for all architecture sets in and remains. I find a bench at the edge of the Arts and Letters courtyard. The bench I am sitting on is on the side of a large, sunken courtyard that graces the entrance of the building as if the courtyard were designed for royalty. The courtyard itself is made of a black tile infused with a crystalline substance that tends to sparkle as one walks over it. This black tile (30’ X 30’) is perimetered by white concrete.
T = 2.50: While looking across this courtyard from my bench, the light that illuminates the courtyard’s surface seems to emanate from the light-posts in waves – waves that flood the ground and slowly propagate outwards toward my direction (“Water waves of light,” I thought.) First, light waves of yellow, followed by very peculiar-looking light waves of bronze that flows outwards from the posts as if I’m looking at a bizarre scientific experiment from the Optics laboratory. Three subtly superimposed images of the courtyard form over one another and make the impression that the courtyard tile is actually made of hundreds of glass sheets stacked on top of another; the top sheet the surface of the tile with hundreds of translucent sheets underneath it.
Moments later, the glass sheets become an infinitely thick window showing a distant part of the Universe never seen before by telescope. Bright light shines outward from the cracks in between tile/sheets of glass, while the crystalline substance converts the light from the light-posts into an awesome display of multi-colored stars. My attention shifts, then I re-focus on the courtyard; my mind effortlessly resuming its trance-like state. And with that, the “infinite depth of hundreds of glass sheets”, followed by a wandering of the mind that took me back to a long-forgotten thought I had as a child. The waves from the light sources are more intense now, with a very peculiar form of darkness that sweeps over the light in waves. The ‘darkness’ is unique in that it’s not really darkness, but rather “a darkness that happens to be a component of visible light.” – A very difficult “wavelength” of light to describe, indeed.
My mind sets on thoughts of anger and tiny white pebbles appear to be thrown from the tile cracks; A distinct impression that there are several unseen spotlights shining a sweeping light as if in a dance club; Patterns of delicate complexity impress themselves on all vertical surfaces, then spin slowly and rhythmically, then radiate prominent reds and yellows that slowly yield to a refined, complex fractal pattern. Looking again at the light striking the walls from the lamp-posts shows the area being ‘drenched’ or ‘flooded’ with very bright yellow light, an absurd form of bronze or copper “light”, the “dark but light” light and reddish-orange light, all in waves. These waves are so pronounced they could be easily mistaken for the real. A very intense white light seems to come from above; I look, but see nothing; intense waves of color shifted to the orange of the spectrum move down two corridors at the speed of water waves. Looking now down at a section of concrete, and the black spots on the concrete turn into the centers of wondrous and fantastically delicate spiral-fractals that slowly turn, then begin to illuminate ‘from underneath’ deep, dark greenish-blue hues that seem to project in three special dimensions; Smaller particles embedded in the concrete radiate light-points from the extreme violet of the visible spectrum to the near-infrared, all the while the spotlights continue their sweeping in my peripheral vision. These breathtaking visions continued relentlessly and fantastically.
I turn to inward thinking. The Arts and Letters building was actually built by “ignorant white man” on an ancient Native American burial ground and thus white man, in his ignorance, unknowingly built a shrine to honor the dead; The perceived movement of white pebbles on the ground represented an alcoholic, like a moth to a flame, on his way to a liquor store where he will die in his alcoholism (?); Discomforting revelations about myself and this society we live in were mitigated and lessened by remembering the teachings of Jesus I read in the Bible. I get up from the Arts and Letters building.
I drift into the several buildings that make up the art classrooms on the campus. On my way there, I see a woman walking in my direction, yet cannot discern her age (“She looks like she could be 18. No, wait – she’s in her 60’s. No, definitely in her 30’s…”)
T = 3.30: I find myself in an unexplored nook where there’s a metal sculpture. To my left, there are native trees and bushes. Off in the distance stands the “Shrine” (Arts and Letters building). To my right -- the earthen pathway that led me here. And my journey continues to evolve. Sitting down on a bench, I look down at a concrete surface that has a rough texture. A pattern in the concrete – not unlike the pattern of a spider web – keeps trying to assert itself on my mind (very hard to describe). Tiny pebbles set in the concrete take on the appearance of little, beady spider eyes. Glancing upwards at a nearby bush and the leaves vaguely define the grimacing teeth of many threatening animals of mutated species clustered together. Looking back on the ground and this ‘spider web’ keeps trying to appear (?).
I then panic, thinking things are taking a turn for the worse, but I then concluded that my consciousness must somehow be asserting itself on the experience. I see, after some confusion, an insect crawl along the concrete. Then the many pockmarks impressed in the concrete begin to move. I am utterly surrounded by and am on top of thousands of moving, crawling insects! The green, rough texture on the base of a large plant pot generates distinct Aztec-like designs – dotted triangles, squares, lines of various lengths radiating outwards. Slowly, this texture gives way to ants – thousands of them. Knowing full well that only my ‘ego’ can create organized concepts such as animals with grimacing teeth or thousands of insects in orderly movement, I “let go;” And with that, indifference.
T = 4.0: I get up from that place, and then found what must have been an empty, dark classroom where art students work on their paintings. Glancing down on the floor gave way to a splendid display of swirling dark-greens and blues, followed by the swirling being punctuated with many subtly-yellow dots that left trails even as they moved. Even in the near-darkness the visual rhythm is with me! But this time, desiring to radiate a deeper, darker significance.
Stepping outside of the classroom and I am met by a very peculiar arrangement: A concrete trash can packed full of trash and empty cans. Ordinarily unremarkable, the cans were held strangely erect, as if I was observing the effect of gravity for the first time. I was downright confused as to why the cans were positioned erect; I just couldn’t figure it out! What exactly is It? I still don’t know! The reader cannot comprehend this kind of observation fully until he ingests mescaline himself.
T = 4.5: I leave the area and as walk, the sensation or feeling that I was in a very vivid dream sets in.
T = 4.75-5.0: There are insights and visions I make but cannot bring them to my consciousness with enough force to recount them in this report. Again, I think to myself, “This is too intense, but I bet I’ll not remember it tomorrow…”
T = 5.0: I float back to the botanical garden I was at at the beginning of the experience. As I glance up from the sand, a cactus of unidentified species captures my interest. It was an interesting specimen, with nearly perfectly arranged groups of needles. It had the menace of one of those metal posts that hold electrified barbed wire one would expect to see circling a State prison. I approach the cactus and stare at it, now mesmerized. What struck me first was the near-perfect; almost mechanically perfect arrangement of the needles. I then slip into my trance again, and with it, motion. One of the cactus arms begins to peel back on itself, hard to describe but seen before in cinema – the end of Terminator II Judgment day -- when the shape-shifting android was dropped into the motion steel at the end of the movie. The ‘peel-back’ effect of one scene could very crudely be likened to the dynamic movement of this cactus arm, while the whole plant shifted from color to color and from hue to hue.
First, an intensely bright yellow drenched the plant, followed by an indescribable copper hue that looked like brushed aluminum. Then by that “dark blackness that’s bright light”, followed by immediate growth and movement of all rows of cactus needles. The ‘lips’ on the cactus arm continue to fold back on itself, revealing a new, pinkish-red outgrowth that then shuts and returns to bright yellow. This absurd spectacle continued unabated until I could take no more, and I left the area, or “floated away” from the area, to be more precise, with a profound appreciation for that plant. As I type this, I long to return to it to see how it is doing.
T = 5.5: It’s now five and a half hours into this altered state when I decide to take a walk to a store, if for no other reason than to see how a walk to a busy store and an even busier intersection would impact the experience.
Mescaline has the unique ability to ‘detach’ the mind from the body, which gives the impression that I can walk or otherwise engage in aerobic activity without feeling the least amount of physical exertion. As I walk to the store in a dream-like state, my body feels no fatigue whatsoever. The effects begin to lose their intensity.
T = 5.75: I step into a convenience store with the intention of buying a Coke. What was once a store I shop in on a regular basis turned into a different store altogether. Some displays I could recognize, but overall the place looked as if management did some rearranging of the place. First, there was a refrigerator that carried the soft drinks that seemed as if it was moved by about 10 feet, it hadn’t been moved; It was where it always is. Looking at where I thought the refrigerator should be stood the coffee maker. I grab my Coke and walk towards the cash register that looked as if it was 20 feet away from me (it wasn’t; It was only five).
I leave the store and walk down an alley to the back of a two-story restaurant where I used to sneak my beer. As I walk up the stairs, I am once again reminded of how dream-like everything seems! As I go to sit down, I look at my surroundings and am stunned by how unfamiliar everything seems. The feeling is exactly like seeing and remembering things as if I were in a deep state of REM sleep. “I think I can remember seeing that stair rail before – it’s so vaguely familiar! The open door to the 2nd story of the restaurant could have been the door that was always there, but it looks so different; so nebulously familiar.” The door seemed farther away; the paint on it a different shade of green. The kitchen noise emanating from it seemed more purposeful; more intense. And all of it in dreamy distortion.
I sit down and the patterns and rhythm return, beginning first with progressively overlapping images of the floor, together with a progressively increasing state of mindlessness. Again, the can of Coke in my right hand continues to be supersaturated in waves of texture and light. Text on the can disappears, and then reappears in light silver, then black. Then the black is replaced by a very queer blend of black and a deep reddish-blue color that has never been seen before, but could be if Optical Scientists were to look at the visual spectrum hard enough. Then the mouth of the bag the Coke is in begins to curl outwards on itself. Then partially ‘melts’ (if you will), then curls back inwards in waves of color. All the while delicate fractal patterns in exaggerated color and depth swirl on the floor.
T = 6+30: As the effects of the mescaline wane at the speed at which they arrived, I head back to the campus. It is now around 11:30 PM and I decide to use the same computers I did eight hours ago before this unforgettable journey began. I stop in to use the restroom, and after washing my hands I straighten myself in a full-length mirror that’s in there. My reflection stares back at me, but this time, my pupils are completely black, as you’d expect to see with a frightened cat! My dilated pupils automatically draws me closer to the mirror, where my right eye suddenly looks as if it was shifted an inch, as if in a Picasso painting. I blink, and while this returns my eye to its rightful place, my complexion turns a pale-green, with a small cluster of red lesions appearing on my forehead.
Blinking again and my whole face takes on the appearance of an elf’s – slanted eyes, gracile features and all. Blinking again and my complexion turns a bright, angry red, as if I’ve been holding my breath and forcefully exhaling at the same time. Blinking yet again and my eyes seem to protrude from their eye sockets as if high-pressure air in my skull is forcing them to bulge out. Eight hours of this absurd, fantastic, wondrous and out-of-this-world experience and I’m through! I leave that restroom, go to the computers and resume my usual practice of analyzing stock charts.
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