Citation: The Nephologist. "Maiden Voyage and an English Muffin: An Experience with Mushrooms (dried) (exp73875)". Erowid.org. Dec 1, 2009. erowid.org/exp/73875
Two years of questing came to an end yesterday. What can be said of the mushrooms, except that they are beautiful, and full of power. I will attempt to record what I can of the experience.
The day before, Tuesday, I spent in perperation. I ran in the morning, ate a small bowl of cereal, and fasted until eating a light dinner. I went to sleep, full of nervousness and apprehension. I remember clinging to [my wife], wondering what transformations might take place the next day, wondering if this was the end of all the good things I’ve worked hard to create, ended because of my curiosity…
…What was I afraid of? Change of personality, loss of cognitive function, damage to my relationship with [my wife], I suppose. That, and the unknown…
I woke early that morning, showered & left before [my wife] was awake. Some foreboding, but mostly excitement and eagerness to start on the journey. I met Jacob and drove back to his place, talking of this & that.
In his apartment, we examined the bag – a few small caps, a few small stems, and a lot of loose, broken material. Upon seeing it, I have to admit that I was unimpressed, and figured that we were in for an underwhelming experience, if anything at all. I made peanut butter & marmalade sandwiches out of ¾ of a piece of bread to consume the mushrooms with. The small pieces of mushrooms stuck to the marmalade and peanut butter and oozed out the side of the sandwich. Jacob packed his bag and we headed off to the metro, on a beautiful day in late summer.
As we rode out, the train began to empty. My nerves were replaced with the happiness of the journey, with the excitement of the unknown, and my first psychedelic experience.
We found the trailhead at 10am and stopped by a small bog (!) to get our sandwiches. Mosquitoes were swarming around me and I was impatient to begin so I simply plunged ahead with a quick toast ‘To Life’.
The sandwiches nicely disguised the taste; only the occasional sharp shard of dried mushroom served as a reminder that the sandwich was a singular one.
We hiked for 15 minutes or so, chatting about placebo effects and life in general. I told Jacob Shulgin’s placebo story from PiHKAL. The day was cool, but the sun provided warmth. Every so often Jacob checked in with me, asking if I was feeling anything yet. Jacob was starting to notice sounds and other minor alerts. I was not sure. I determined to keep on hiking, and not worry about whether the mushrooms were coming on or not.
I started to really enjoy the day, the conversation, and the walk. Perhaps some half hour to three quarters of an hour after eating the sandwiches, my attention was arrested by the interplay of several shadows on the path – three types of leaves were casting shadows onto the soft dirt, moving gently in the breeze. We admired it for a moment and moved on. At this point I was willing to admit that something, indeed was happening – a feeling of elation, and the first hints of a strange, strange feeling running through my body – a lightness, perhaps, some tingles, swooping stomach – but these don’t begin to describe what was a truly unique feeling.
The onset continued as we kept on walking. We were able to pick up the trail we had lost which took us up to a rocky area with a nice view. I stretched, feeling the sunshine warm my body and savoring the lovely morning.
Near the crest of a small hill in a heavily wooded area we encountered a short man foraging for mushrooms. He came out of a low-lying area off the trail, carrying a basket and a stick. He stopped to say hello and I admired his hen-of-the-woods.
‘Oh, I don’t know what they are, I just eat them,’ he yelled in a sort of rustic, deaf kind of way, showing yellow and rotting teeth.
We spoke for a moment about foraging and rainfall and then bid him good day.
I believe it was then that I began to feel nauseous, and decidedly odd, with a weakness pervading my limbs. We stopped at the top of a small hill in a heavily wooded, moister area, and I threw my pack down at a not particularly comfortable area infested with mosquitoes and started to worry. The trail was steep and I couldn’t find myself a position that didn’t put my body at a strange angle.
Jacob took a seat on a log and started to nod, rubbing his thighs slowly as he took stock. I forced myself into a strange, half-sitting half-lying position and felt pretty forlorn. Trees in the distance became oddly close, and I began to feel a little seasick.
Some people went by – a family on bikes, walking up the steep and rocky trail. It took a long time for both of us, I think, as we were experiencing some pretty heavy time dilation.
Jacob was still in a pretty good mood, talking me through it. I could tell he was starting to groove and grok on the forest and the sensations in his body. “Yeah man, definitely you’ll feel a little weird, maybe a little upset. Definitely feeling some feels, you know?’
I began to despair. I had nothing but several hours of spun out, horribly nausea and distorted vision to look forward to. Why did I do this to myself? I began to feel surges of a strange, alien feeling in my body, that was accompanied by the mental image of a clump of mushroom surging up through me. Mosquitoes bit my legs, and I watched them with a remarkable amount of clarity of vision, noting details on their individual wings & probosces.
It was at this point that I realized I had to get up. Keep moving. Find a good spot. The original plan had been to find a nice spot with a view, put down some blankets and stay put for the day, but as we put our packs on and began to hike again, we both began to feel the elation again, feel as if we had control over our trip.
A little while later found us back in the sunshine, safe from the mosquitoes, tired but happy once more.
Jacob paused to ask me a complicated question about the geology of the area in which we were hiking, but boiled down to his wondering if there were other rock formations in the vicinity.
I had despaired of understanding him, but as he began to finish, lo! behold! we communicated! We let out whoops of joy and hugged, happy to share even the most simple thoughts.
Everything was going to be alright.
From this point forward my recollection of the trip is decidedly non-linear.
TO THE WATER & WHAT HAPPENED THERE
Jacob and I walked through the forest, resting when needed and talking with remarkable clarity and insight about everything.
One reoccurring theme was that society and many of the people in our lives tend to force every decision into a false dichotomy, when often the best course of action is the middle path that isn’t directly offered. We can use illegal drugs, have jobs, relationships, while pursuing mystical experiences, and wild, mad days in the wilderness.
We were completely lost by this point, but I was happy and light with a head full of strange mushrooms. They would make their presence known every so often by filling my body with their alien presence. I found that swaying while sitting was a good outlet for the bizarre sensations in my body.
We came to a like which shone and resonated in the sunshine. I clambered down some rocks and put my feet in the water. Never was a feeling so purifying. I paddled my legs up and down, watching the water in the lake pulse in response.
I was reaching a state of manic excitement, so desperate was I to share the moment with Jacob, who always takes a long time to do anything, particularly when on mushrooms. He made his way down as I stretched and moved around, still channeling the restless, strange energy inside.
We spoke about the lack of mysticism on this trip. Where were the pulsating energy orbs, the all-in-one Eyes of alien gods and singing trees?
Two things became apparent: the first was that none of the thoughts or feelings that I was having were novel – that is, I believed then (and still do now) that mushrooms are simply one vehicle to take a seeker to enlightenment, and that such states are independent of the substance, although we were also left with many questions and uncertainties about the possible existence of a Mushroom Spirit or entity.
The second revelation was that today, as usual, we were choosing the middle path once again.
Was it all in my mind, or was I in contact with some ineffable, non-material realm or spirit or plane? That was the question I was hoping to answer by taking the mushroom, and I am afraid I am no nearer the answer now.
We put on our boots and started to move on. Jacob asked for a few moments to collect himself, so I wandered on along the shoreline. I had been carrying my harmonica, an enormous, double reed harp a friend of mine had given me which I always take with me on adventures. I had attempted to play it several times during the morning, but always felt inhibited and knew the time wasn’t right.
But then, I felt it vibrate and quiver in my hand, and heard it start to sing as the wind blew through it. I raised it to my lips and without hesitation poured out a beautiful, enchanting song that sang of all my thoughts and dreams and worries and essence and breathed gilded hope into them and back into me.
And I asked…myself? the universe? god? the mushrooms?...I asked:
When will I know? What happens after death? When will I know the ineffable?
And the answer came from… myself? the universe? god? the mushrooms?..., and the voice spoke, and I was one tiny, infinitesimal sliver away from knowing it as God:
And I was left, smiling and happy and sad, knowing that I still had work to do, and that today was not the day that the Great Mysteries would be revealed to me.
Jacob wanted to smoke a joint so we walked up the side of a wooded hill by the lake and I talked a little about the experience. I remember thinking to myself that I was the one in charge of the expedition now, since I was more or less comfortable with my headspace and Jacob’s joint could potentially send him off the deep end. We made our way back down to the trail and I glanced at my watch…it was about 2:00, I determined, after a considerable amount of effort. It was time to start thinking about heading home, since, like an idiot, I had a dance lesson to go to with my wife at 6:00!
But we were lost. Fucking lost. No hope of ever, ever finding our way out again. Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me at all, of course, but at this point I started to become concerned that 1) we would never find our way back, 2) I would never be the same again, and 3) both of these things would destroy my marriage.
And so began my suffering. It is difficult to describe, but I think a state of silent, cacophonic chaos would be closest. Every last shred of joy, confidence, harmony, pleasantry and hope left my body and I was the most forlorn, shroomiest, most miserable creature on the planet. I recall looking down at my body while walking, feeling pity for myself as I wallowed in absolute misery and despair.
I asked Jacob a couple of times to speak to me, but he was obviously enwrapped in his own thoughts.
We kept hiking, wandering aimlessly among the many trails.
I tried Lord, oh! how I tried to regain some happiness. Over the past few years I have been able to conquer my depression and live in a state of near constant happiness and good cheer, mostly through exercising my will during difficult times – forcing myself to ride out the bad times, knowing that the goodness would return eventually. The Aleuts have a saying, the wind is not a river (meaning that eventually the cold wind will stop blowing). But I came so close to giving up. I never thought I would escape the torment.
I began to riff about dosages, that there were certain anchorable facts in life – you take a drug, it lasts for so many hours, it leaves your body. This would end, I knew that.
Jacob began to talk to me, after I told him nearly in tears that I was having a hard time. “Think about how happy you will be to see [your wife],” he said.
And I knew that I had to continue, for her sake. That there was more work for me to do in life, to have children, protect the earth, do good works.
And somewhere around that time, we found the trail again, and were able to walk back along the ridge, in the sunshine. The sun saved me on more occasions that day than I care to recount.
I ate a little food, forcing myself to break my fast and eat an apple, which ended up being delicious, even though I felt no hunger. I also ate an English muffin, which was the strangest, most bizarre rubbery white mass I have ever put past my lips.
We ended up walking too far the wrong way on the trail, but with a supreme act of willpower and reason, I realized that all we had to do was turn around and we would eventually find our way back to the trailhead.
We retraced our steps and fell back into the easy, happy, carefree conversation we had started with; the whole day took on a symmetrical dimension. We laughed at how high we had been crossing a road near a playground close to the beginning of the trip – we had ran across the road, laughing at how ridiculous the experience was, to see such a thing as a car.
We talked about relationships, the meaning of life, the shrooms, and everything in between. I felt as if everything that I included in my concept of life – my identity, my philosophy, my body – had been tested and came out whole, renewed. The clarity we had returned to us.
I felt sober enough to turn on my phone, have a little connection to the outside world. I had several missed calls, the first of which apparently was from Satan. Strange, disturbing noises came from the phone. I deleted the message. The second started playing a deep, terrifying voice issued from the phone at the same time a stick dropped from a tree onto my neck. I screamed and threw the phone down and took the stick off, and regained my composure….
…When I listened to the message again, a few moments later, it turned out to be my father, who was in an airport and wanted me to go to his house because the alarm had gone off and the police were there.
I told Jacob this and we both began to laugh. The very concept of me talking to the police or catching burglars was utterly hilarious. I had barely regained my humanity!
We had two consensus reality checks on the way back; the first was when Jacob asked me to write down an insight I had in my notebook, which proved impossible much to our surprise. The other was when the two shroomed cavemen attempted to load film into a camera, as if our reptilian brains could comprehend the workings of such an intricate machine.
I made it to the dance lesson, still mildly tripping, which is a story in and of itself. We had drunk all of our water but serendipitously found a smoothie stand at the top of the metro station, which was odd since Jacob had been looking for a “water store” for the past 45 min. By God, it was amazing. We tried to guess the flavors since we asked the small, gnomish woman to surprise us. She was oddly like the man we had met starting off on our trip who had been foraging for mushrooms. A mushroom spirit visitation, perhaps, guarding the gateway between the two worlds? Who knows.
In the subway, the models in an advertisement peered at me and moved their heads slightly, whispering something which I steadfastly refused to listen to – I was set on trying to return to reality.
The afterglow continued until the next morning, when I felt the mushrooms leave me around midday. I was left with a sense of sadness, which faded quickly; I then felt myself return to center, to the place I was in before the trip.
The difficult portion of the experience was not necessarily negative; to me, hard lessons like that make normal life easier to navigate. A perfect, perfect day. Perfect setting, perfect friend, perfect dosage.
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