Mushrooms (possibly P. azurescens)
Citation: Jez. "Stepping into a Spiritual Realm: An Experience with Mushrooms (possibly P. azurescens) (exp77528)". Erowid.org. Nov 22, 2009. erowid.org/exp/77528
It's worth mentioning, before I begin, that I am a very spiritual person. I don't adhere to any one religion or set of teachings, but I hold a reverence for all life and nature, and maintain basically animistic beliefs: that all things, animate or not, have spirits and are essentially spiritual. I'm sure my spiritual beliefs influenced this experience to a great degree.
At the end of my local Renaissance Festival's season last autumn, I had my first opportunity to try mushrooms. It was around 10pm, and the sky was a brooding gray with huge clouds that threatened rain. I was not intending to have a psychedelic experience of any kind that night, but as fate would have it, one of my fellow Festies happened to have a bag full of blue shrooms which he felt obligated to hand out. He asked me if I would like one, and after a moment's hesitation (I hardly ever trip or smoke) I withdrew a small dry mushroom from the bag. The cap was a weathered blue, like old faded denim, with a bone-white stem. It seemed so small and insignificant, that I thanked him and ate it without giving it too much thought.
About 45 minutes after consuming the shroom, I still felt no change in my perceptions or thoughts, so I assumed the trip would be insubstantial. I noticed the jousters were beginning the ritual burning of their broken lances nearby, so I ran over to join them. The blaze was so high and huge that it looked (from a distance) like a building must have caught on fire. I spent about twenty minutes with the jousters (at a safe-yet-roasting distance of about thirty feet), and was feeling very happy and content, but not experiencing any perceptual changes. I noted a level of elation which seemed a little unusual, but other than that, nothing. As the fire slowly burned down, I assumed that I had experienced essentially the extent of the trip (probably due to a low dose), and that I should retire to my tent and finish packing. I had no idea what I had coming to me.
As I turned away from the warmth of the fire and headed back towards the campground, cutting through the festival grounds on the way, it began to rain. It was as though, at the very moment the first drop hit me, I was transported utterly into a different world. As the first drops of rain hit my face, the joy I had felt earlier surged to new heights, and I laughed in the most carefree way. No-one was around, so why not enjoy the moment? The rain felt SO good! I sank to my knees in the soft earth, and lifted my head and palms to the sky. It opened up and let a flood of rain down on me, and I soaked it up. I felt utterly refreshed, cleansed, new, and filled with joy. I shook out my hair, which was getting drenched, and stood back up. Suddenly, what had seemed like a dreary, chilly, sad night seemed brimming with possibilities and beauty.
I saw one of the small gardens nearby, and I decided to go visit it. Stepping under the vine-covered trellis at the entrance, moving slowly the garden path, it seemed that every plant was infinitely more alive than they normally were -- like the regular breathing of fellow humans lets you know they're alive -- and they were capable of motion, thought, and communication. In the flowers and leaves, I saw faces and figures -- spirits of the plants. I was so amazed at seeing them, that I felt very humble and greeted each of them in turn. In response, I received images, ideas, and emotions from them, like a sort of telepathic communication. Such joy! I felt a different presence around me then, deity-like in scale. The words “nothing is too small to be worthy of consideration” came to me. I was awash in reverence for the living things around me. The scope of my universe widened even as my attention focused in on its many small residents. All things were sacred; nothing had ever been more clear to me than that was at that moment.
I slowly made my way through the garden, and when I came to the exit, I breathed deeply, inhaling the wondrous scents of fresh rain and wet earth. The world suddenly made sense to me. I thought to myself, “even if this is all I get to experience tonight, even if this is it, I'll be content. I feel blessed.” That, however, was only the beginning.
Through the rain and the darkness, I felt the draw of the forest on the edge of the festival grounds. I had felt and seen so much in only a small garden, and I wondered what would I encounter surrounded by huge trees instead. In a moment, I was off down the deserted lane, walking past deserted shops. The darkness felt alive, too, and it swept around me, drawing back, lurking, hiding, following me; it didn't feel malicious or particularly frightening, but it made me feel small and timid. Devoid of the bustle of people it usually held, the festival grounds seemed taken over by nature, in all its wild, ruthless beauty. To use Anne Rice's term, it felt like a dark night in the Savage Garden of creation. I felt as though I was an emissary of mankind -- the only member of the human race to enter this sacred realm adjacent to the “real world” -- and that I needed to bring something of the human race with me as I journeyed; I knew that, to hold on to who I was and not be consumed by the Savage Garden, I had to somehow express my species as I went, what we were gifted with. So, being a musician, I began to softly sing. Soon, a short melody coalesced; it seemed to carry both hope and joy in the first part, and ominous caution in the second. In such a dark night, and with such overwhelming surroundings, I think this melody helped keep me sane and kept my experience positive. It would have been so easy to sink into fear of the unknown, to be mentally and spiritually destroyed by the presence of ancient nature, and have a nightmarish trip.
I sang my melody to the forest as I approached, as though to greet the trees within and let them know I was coming and that I meant no harm. It was meant to both prepare them to encounter me unexpectedly in their realm, and to protect myself through a buffer of humanity. I made my way along the small, winding path much as I had in the garden; I greeted the largest of the trees and was even more humbled by them; instead of being in a small area of contained nature in a human village, I was a small area of contained humanity (my buffer) in an immense and probably rather hostile forest. The festival grounds themselves are built alongside a quarry-- vast forested land rent apart and gouged out of the Earth, then hauled off-- so of course any spirit in that place wouldn't like humans much. I tried to show that I was different. I apologized for the actions of my kind countless times, grieving with the land and the trees. Though they were rooted in the ground, stationary, they conveyed that they had a close bond with many of the trees which had been killed. This new form of communication was a little overwhelming.
While I believed wholly that I was outside of the normal spiritual plane humanity exists on, I was still able to objectively observe and consider my situation while tripping. I made observations of the alterations in my perception and mental processes, and thought through my plan for the rest of the night. When I reached a clearing which held a bridge over the edge of a marsh, I took a break from my journey. I was supposed to get a ride with a friend that night, which was obviously not a high priority anymore; I decided it was far more important to complete the experience I was having, so I called her on my cell, and told her to head back to the city without me, and that I would find a different ride the next day. It was bizarre -- using my phone was like a pocket back into the normal world. While I was talking, in the clearing, consciously taking a break, I could feel the edges of the spiritual realm a short distance away all around me. As soon as I hung up, turned my phone off, and made the decision to return, I was immersed in the spiritual realm again.
I spent at least twenty minutes longer there, talking with the trees and occasionally with the deific force I had heard earlier. They told me of the devastation wrought by the miners, of course, but they also explained many natural processes. They showed me images of beings who directed the growth of the area, tall entities of colored light who walked easily throughout the land. They were on a higher plane than other humans were, and that I was on in my altered state. Theirs was farther from the physical -- too far to influence it directly -- though they could interact with the nature-spirits easily enough. I learned much in that short time.
I slowly made my way out of the forest, encountering a couple glowering, hostile guardian spirits on the way out. They were silent, not sending any images or clear thoughts, but it was obvious they wanted me gone from that place. I sang my melody to them, tried to convince them too that I was peaceful, but they were not swayed in their emotions. I obliged by their wishes, and followed the path out of the forest.
In a similar fashion to how I approached the forest, I left it, walking back through the deserted festival grounds. It was about this time that one previously-ignored fact occurred to me: I was thoroughly wet. Although my mostly-waterproof wool cloak had kept parts of me mostly-dry, the majority of my clothing was soaked through. I decided to head to the pub-tent set up on the grounds near the campground entrance, where the diehard Festies who were staying to the next day were busy bantering and drinking. While my sopping condition seemed to raise a few eyebrows, I was mostly left to my own devices. I recognized my friends there still, and I grasped what they were saying and was able to respond appropriately, but I felt like I was removed from them. I still felt like I was in a spiritual plane next-door to our physical one, and that this ability to talk to my fellow humans was highly unusual. It was possible, but it felt very wrong. I didn't say a whole lot about my journey to them that night, but it was obvious from the few things I did say that they didn't comprehend a word of it or why it was important to me. I left them after only a few minutes, and went back to my tent.
When I got there, I lay down on the deliciously wet wooden platform my tent was setup on, and stared up at the trees around me. Forest or no, nature was inescapable. Instead of conversing in that strange language of pictures and impressions, though, I just stared at it. I began to see a complex pattern in the normally-random branches. They webbed out in regular geometric shapes, forming an almost crystalline network of shape and form. I was so dumbstruck by it, that I simply watched for at least half an hour. It took many shapes, spanning like a spider's web, and rising like an impressive cathedral, among others. I felt I was seeing through the physical form to the underlying pattern which all things are connected through. It was like Pi, though so much more important; it was the formula which explained existence itself.
It was around this time that I started to come down. I began to feel cold, very wet, and actually rather miserable. My clothing was soaked to the skin. I crawled inside my dark tent and fumbled around till I found the flashlight; it was then I realized that there was a leak in the roof, that my sleeping bag and blankets were underneath it, and that they were damp. I stripped off my wettest layers, threw on a dry hoody from my waterproof backpack, and crawled under blankets to keep warm as best I could. I felt utterly wretched, like a wet rat. But worse, my awful state got me contemplating my own mortality. It seemed to me that everything was so wet and cold that it could never be warm, dry, or anything good ever again. I thought about how it got there, and came to this conclusion: all things are slowly breaking down, falling apart, decomposing-- including us. Including me. We spend all our lives trying to fight against the meaninglessness of oblivion and that inevitable point when it's all too much and we are swallowed whole by the slow force called death.
Lying there, my universe having shrunken to the dark, cold, damp tent around me, I felt despair. I had no-one and nothing good or warm or dry in all the world, and I never would. I had lost the ability to objectively analyze my situation -- to make the obvious conclusion that soon enough morning would come, the clouds would break, the sun would dry out the world and chase away the dark once again. I crawled over to my backpack, found my iPod, and listened to music to try and calm myself. It was scarier not being able to hear what was going on around me (namely, the constant, unchanging sound of rainfall), but eventually I shut my eyes tight, got myself lost in the music, and drifted off to sleep.
I woke up very early the next morning quite cold, but with no remaining effects of the shrooms that I could tell. I was in a strange and philosophical mood the rest of the day, but that probably just came from trying to digest all that I had experienced. It wasn't the easiest trip I have ever had, but it was definitely the one which imparted the most wisdom. I have recently acquired a quantity of Amanita muscaria
extract, and when the weather gets a little warmer I have every intention of having another outdoor trip in the woods -- though perhaps not in the middle of a rainstorm this time!
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