Cacti - T. peruvianus
Citation: S.V. Houten. "Control Euphoria Introspection and Visuals: An Experience with Cacti - T. peruvianus (exp87893)". Erowid.org. Dec 6, 2012. erowid.org/exp/87893
---( Substance )---
33g dried T. Peruvianus (Peruvian Torch) cactus.
---( Prior Experience )---
This was my first experience with mescaline. I have occasionally used cannabis. I have taken mushrooms, salvia, ecstasy and ketamine a handful of times over the past 10 years. I had one LSD trip 10 years ago.
---( Preparation & Consumption )---
Obtained 100g in pot-pourri form, which was ground down to a fine powder in an electric grinder. The powder was split into 3 equal 33g portions using electronic scales. I had read a lot about the revolting taste of the cactus. The approach I used to eat it turned out to be unpleasant but tolerable. I gradually moistened the 33g of powder with spoonfuls of warm water. This formed a paste, from which I fashioned about 10 slimy 'pellets'. Each one was just the right size to be swallowed whole with a gulp of water. I ate them on an empty stomach (had eaten 10 hours earlier), over the course of about 30 minutes, finishing off with a minty anti-indigestion pill and some chewing gum. Getting the right amount of moisture in a pellet was crucial: too dry and it felt like swallowing a lump of fetid sand, too soggy and it ended up slopping around in my mouth before I could swallow it. Do everything you can to avoid prolonged contact with taste buds: the stuff really is foul. I recommend not combining it with other food, unless you want to be put off of that other food for life.
---( Setting )---
I was lucky to try the substance in an ideal environment. I was with two close friends (“Luann” & “Kirk” - not real names), spending a weekend in a hut in an empty camp site in rural England. The hut was surrounded by woods and hilly fields. The autumn weather was cold but sunny and not too wet. My only regret was not planning more free time for the come-down / afterglow period: I took the substance on a Saturday morning and had to return to work on the Monday.
---( Experience Summary )---
Strong effects from T+01h00 to T+08h00, with significant effects noticeable until T+16h00, followed by one night of insomnia. Effects included calm euphoria, a strong sense of connection/satisfaction within a natural environment, a sense of fun/adventure in all thoughts and activities, deep introspection, moments of intense anxiety, a general feeling of control over my mind, and awesome visual hallucinations.
---( Timeline & Effects )---
T+0h00: Woke up & began eating the substance.
T+0h30: Finished eating the substance. Luann & Kirk were still eating it (they started after me). Went for a stroll in the woods alone. Saw some deer bouncing about in the fields just beyond the woods, which made me unreasonably happy - pretty sure I was already off-baseline within 1h.
T+1h00: Headed off for a shower. Felt nauseous but happy, with early stages of a 'warm & fuzzy feeling” reminiscent of mushrooms or mild ecstasy. The nausea got stronger in the shower; considered vomiting, decided to hold back. The hot shower was very pleasant.
T+2h00: Wandered around in the woods, enjoying waves of oblique, relaxed joy that felt much more calm and controllable than those brought on by mushrooms. Sunlight amplified the happiness. Took lots of photos of trees and wild mushrooms. Bumped into Luann and Kirk near the hut, and noted that I was still able to hold a conversation. Found out that Luann had vomited but was beginning to feel positive effects nonetheless. Kirk, who had a bit less experience with psychoactive substances, was feeling cold and very uncomfortable stomach-wise, but had not vomited. He had not yet felt anything positive or interesting. I tried to say/suggest things to help, but failed. We each wandered off our separate ways for a bit.
T+3h00: I have little recollection of the concrete events from this point onwards, but spent it mostly exploring the woods and fields, or lying in the hut. I remember being mesmerised by the complexity of trees, the shadows of clouds on the hills, the feeling of the wind and the patterns it made in the long grass, the way cows stared at me, the way rabbits and deer stopped to examine me. I remember toying with different emotions, whilst feeling - for the most part - very much in control of my mind (much more so than on mushrooms). I felt playful and adventurous.
I did get some sinister, distorted flashbacks to childhood, which was not dissimilar to my experience on LSD 10 years ago (but not as “harsh” or ”angular”); these interesting fears seemed to be triggered by the realisation that I was walking too far out to the edge of the campsite and risked reaching civilisation, and therefore bumping into strangers. This made me nervous, as I am a loner at the best of times, and definitely did not feel able to hold a conversation with a stranger by this point. I also slid into deep introspection around my 'purpose', the value of my life, loneliness, and the details of some big challenges I'll have to face in the near future (I'll soon be changing job & moving continent). I had some significant negative thoughts and fears/anxiety about work (NB: when I am sober, those are the thoughts towards which my mind naturally gravitates).
Four notes from “The Best of Times” by Sage Francis resonated repeatedly in my head (to be exact, the four clarinet(?) notes that are played in quick succession around 1:48-1:52). I didn’t mind too much, because it’s a pleasant song, but given that it’s about the struggle to enjoy life faced by an introvert, I identified with it strongly and this made me nostalgic/sad. Sometimes it felt like the emotional vertigo of introspective anxiety and sadness was beginning to spiral out of control, but by focusing on the aesthetics of nature rather than on myself, I quickly began enjoying the ride again. In my notepad, I scribbled: 'focus on PICTURES, not on WORDS!!!'.
My muscles seemed slightly tense, or perhaps I just felt their normal tension more clearly than usual; I had slight back ache and stomach ache, but was able to ignore the mild pain. Every aspect of my surroundings - from forest to field, insect to deer, sunny/cloudy sky to campfire - seem deeply pleasant, fascinating and exciting. I wanted to experiment with my surroundings, with textures, with light and shadows, and with my own thoughts. While wandering around, I occasionally encountered Luann and Kirk. I felt quite chatty but couldn’t express myself very well. Luann's experience appeared to be, on the whole, similar to mine. Kirk was suffering muscular cramps and stomach pains, and understandably seemed upset/concerned. He acknowledged that his discomfort was probably in large part psychological, and wanted to 'snap out of it' but could not. Again, I failed to help. I was worried about him, but reminded myself that there was no concrete danger: while it was a shame he wasn’t having a good time, whatever he was feeling would be over in a matter of hours. I was aware that there was no genuine threat. Luann and Kirk tended to stick together, I tended to wander off alone.
I must attempt to describe the visual hallucinations. They were amongst the best I have ever experienced, bordering on the 'stereotypical' psychedelic visuals you see in films that try to portray acid trips. I saw trees with infinitely fractal fingers reaching out towards me. I saw thousands of wise, winking faces, scrolling around tree trunks. I saw streams of vivid, fluctuating colours pouring down from the sun, weaving within the patterns of the bark. Every time I blinked, I saw dazzling geometric shapes smoothly rotating behind my eyelids. When I opened my eyes, the same shapes were encrusted into the trees, gently cycling around the trunks and branches. All the while, my mind was clear enough to “step back” and enjoy the hallucinations like an impossibly immersive film.
At some point (roughly T+06h00), I headed back to the hut and ate a bit. The nausea had subsided completely. Food tasted good, in particular some interesting varieties of apple that Kirk had bought at a farmer’s market. I was able to light a fire whilst being very aware of necessary safety measures, which was a pleasantly rewarding little adventure/challenge. I booted up my laptop to watch an episode of South Park, but was highly distracted by intense trail vision I experienced as I moved the mouse and windows. Eventually, I managed to start playing the video. I quickly decided I didn’t want to watch it after all. Everything was so interesting and exciting that I couldn’t focus on a single task for more than a couple of minutes. The effects were diminishing by this point, but very slowly. I was still getting occasional waves of strong sensations and visuals. I was concerned for Kirk, who continued to suffer cramps and was explicitly asking to “make it stop”. Occasionally, he burst out laughing and made statements suggesting that he wasn’t suffering too much after all, but he certainly wasn’t happy. I failed to be of help yet again, feeling like there was little I could do. I kept my self busy by wandering around some more, chatting with Luann, tending to the fire, eating. I still felt unusually joyful, calm, satisfied, fascinated, easily distracted by my surroundings.
T+10h00: Started to feel a little miserable / worried about the future. I cooked some eggs and sausages in the hut, glad to have a concrete task to undertake. It was slightly difficult to focus, but the task was sufficiently easy that I’m confident the effects of the drug had significantly diminished - although I was still absolutely not yet sober.
T+14h00: Effects by now were weak, but still present. I spent significant amounts of time staring at the stars and moonlit tree trunks. What a fantastic place and beautiful night. There were still occasional mild hallucinations (bright colours flickering between the stars, pulsating tree trunks), but nothing like as intense as before. I lay in the hut with Kirk and Luann, keeping warm with a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag. Kirk was still uncomfortable; surprisingly, he was still feeling strong effects, and was fearful that they might not stop for many more hours. Nonetheless, he stayed in good spirits and distracted himself (and us!) by telling amusing stories about chess-playing magical cats with bow-ties, time travel, and his experience of being witness to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. I am deeply impressed that someone with relatively little experience of psychedelics was able to handle his unpleasant trip so well.
T+16h00: Settled down to try to get some sleep. I could relax, but could not fully switch off. Therefore, while I did get some rest, I did not sleep at all.
T+24h00: Time to get up and face reality at 9am. We had to vacate the site by 10am. I felt tired but otherwise sober, quite depressed, and sad the whole experience was over... Not at all ready to confront work the next day. I really regretted not having another couple of days of free time to recover. Left the campsite in subdued silence. Spent a little more time with Luann and Kirk, watching TV & generally reconnecting with reality, before heading home.
T+36h00: Having felt quite anxious, lonely and devitalized all day, I finally fell into a deep sleep. On waking up on Monday morning, I felt suitably refreshed and was able to begin my working week pretty much as normal.
---( Conclusions & Lessons Learned )---
This is a wonderful substance and I will definitely try it again. I highly recommend taking it in an open, natural environment. As usual, beware of the variability of the effects: different people will react completely differently, and feel under the influence for different amounts of time. Don't underestimate the length of the trip (can last well over 12h), and make sure you have sufficient worry-free time planned after the trip for a comfortable come-down.
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