Citation: Keith Fonda. "The I of the Storm: An Experience with Mushrooms & Cannabis (exp92318)". Erowid.org. Oct 15, 2011. erowid.org/exp/92318
The long-anticipated day had finally arrived! Myself and my dear friend ‘R’ had been planning this experience for what seemed like forever, and seeing him turn up at the train station finally cemented it in both our minds; we were finally going to have the experience we’d wanted for so long.
The plan was quite simple really. We intended to head from London down to Bewl Water in Kent, pitch our tent and each eat 15 grams of Atlantis Truffles, aiming to return to London the next evening. Bewl Water is a large man-made reservoir in the south-east of England, although the scenery surrounding the water gives no hint of the fact that it is artificial. When we arrived at the campsite at 7pm we knuckled right down to pitching our dull brown tent from the mid eighties. We were trying to take as little equipment as possible; a tent, a stove (since we were not allowed campfires), two guitars, a propane lantern and a pair of sleeping bags. This was because we both wanted the experience to be an affirmation of everything true and beautiful in nature, and did not want to clutter it with creature comforts. Since we’ve both been at university in west London for the past two years, neither of us have the opportunity to spend much ‘quality time’ with nature. The closest we’d been able to come to this experience in the past 3 months or so was a series of walks around the greener parts of our campus whilst buzzing our faces off on MDMA.
This was R’s second experience with truffles, and his second psychedelic experience full stop. For someone who had only tripped once before, I feel he had a good idea of what to expect and how to make the most of it by losing his expectations of what the drug would do to him. I often talked to him about my experiences with these wonderful drugs and he always listened with eager ears. I had used psychedelics very heavily a few years before, and eventually scared myself off of them. In the past 4 or 5 months I felt I had finally matured enough to appreciate exactly what a psychedelic experience could offer me, rather than just a series of funny colours and incomprehensible thought patterns. I can’t begin to describe the enormous and very positive changes I had been through recently which I believe were precipitated by my recent drug use.
Once the ancient-looking ridge tent had been pitched, we got inside and started rolling our joints for the evening ahead. Both being heavy stoners, it is worth mentioning that we don’t roll joints with normal format papers. A typical joint for us is approximately 6½ inches long and a half inch fat. With six fatties pre-strapped and stashed in the empty cavity of R’s flashlight, we decided to sit down and play our guitars for a while. We were very conscious of not making the nights experience solely about drugs. We wanted to have what would have been a wonderful experience anyway, and just let the drugs enhance them in what ever way they saw fit.
A group of kids sat down around us to listen to us play Otis Redding’s ‘Dock of the Bay’. Neither myself or R particularly like talking to children so after jamming an instrumental version of CCR’s ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’ we decided to clear off and head down to the waterfront, but only after making an important decision; we did not want any way of telling the time for the duration of our stay. This was important to us because living in the city entails a religious following of the clock, and we wanted to make a point of escaping that for our trip. We wanted to act on what we felt we needed to do at the precise moment in time that the decision was made. No planning for the future, no waiting for time to catch up with us, just pure unadulterated existence.
The walk to the reservoir was a great experience in of itself. Most of the time was spent negotiating the rough paths between hedges separating farmers fields. We noted already how looming the trees seemed, and we began to feel a sense of anticipation as to how we would perceive this walk when it was dark and when we had a head full of psilocybin. The branches seemed to reach right out and interrupt the path. This was going to be a veritable maze later on!
When we arrived at the reservoir (about a 15 minute walk), the scenery took our breath away. There were still at least 30 minutes of daylight left, although the sun had disappeared below the level of the clouds that were sitting just above the horizon. The sky above us was perfectly clear, so the evenings sunset was absolutely spectacular.
We walked about 500 feet along the shore to a tree stump which would become a site we visited often the next day. Sitting down and sharing a cone was exactly what we both needed. It had been a solid week since I had last smoked up (an extreme time between joints for someone who usually smokes every day), so the first one seemed to settle into my brain heavier than I was expecting. For the first time in a long time, I really felt like a truly appreciated what a joint was doing to me. I find it quite easy to smoke a lot and begin to blur the lines between sobriety and being high, but this time my mind completely recognised the buzz. It was beautiful.
Between skipping stones over the still water, and talking about how much more we wanted to have these experiences, we began to practice ‘trancing-off’ for later that night. We consider this a form of open-eye meditation which greatly enhances our drug experiences. I always find that focusing your vision on an object while you are tripping reduces your awareness of your peripheral vision which is often where the most fun happens. All we do to achieve this state is stare off into the middle distance and focus half of our attention on breathing and the other half on the full extent of our visual field, whilst trying to remove the inner monologue that otherwise seems endless. In this headstate you can begin to see the ambiguity in the world even when sober. Shadows are not necessarily perceived as shadows but as darker patches of your vision, and the brighter parts seem to jump out and grab your attention.
In this way we were able to look out over the still water and see both the reflection of the sky and the sky itself at the same time. This gave us a weird ability to ‘invert’ our vision. We were able to feel as though gravity had been reversed, that we were sitting on the ‘ceiling’ and that although we felt the right way up, we were in fact upside down. It is always fun to play with your head in this manner. After the sun had fully disappeared and the land became darker, we transferred the remaining joints to R’s pockets, put the batteries back into the flashlight and headed towards camp; it was time to break out the truffles!
The journey back was a verification of how wonderful an environment this was to trip in. Even with the flashlight on we could only ever see a narrow tunnel of our visual fields. Walking in this manner took a bit of learning. We had to accept that we were only able to see 6 maybe 7 feet in front of our faces, and that if we just carried on walking we would eventually get back to camp. This means of travelling would kick-back somewhat when we were on the way back to the reservoir.
Back at the tent, we split the 30 grams of truffles into two even piles and began chewing them up, washing them down with orange juice. I believe orange juice is a wonderful gift to people who like mushrooms. The flavour masks that of the fungus wonderfully (maybe even compliments the flavour of truffles?), and the niacin and vitamin C go a long way to promoting a feeling of wellbeing.
With the contented knowledge that a good dose of psilocybin was slowly working its way towards our brains, we grabbed the propane lantern, a relatively thin poncho and we headed back to the lake.
We noticed that for the first time that night we had become more ‘internal’. We’d stopped speaking to each other so much and we both recognised this. Not because we had become bored of talking to each other, quite the opposite. We both felt the urge to talk about something, as we always enjoy each others conversation, but our minds were thinking so fast that it almost seemed pointless talking about anything because we were so taken with the thoughts we were having. Walking was beginning to get harder. We used the flashlight and the propane lantern continuously and yet we still managed to get lost! We suddenly realised that we had walked further than we intended into one farmers field. We were just beginning to feel our minds slip when this happened so our feeling of ‘being completely lost’ was a gross overstatement. We only needed to walk about 600 feet back up a hill, but with the time dilation coming on strong it seemed as though we would have to walk for hours to get back on track.
On the way back up the hill, a figure seemed to run directly towards us a great speed. Both me and R jumped out of our skins (one of the few times in my life I can literally say ‘jumped’). Oh… Turned out it was a rabbit. How embarrassing… These truffles are obviously beginning to have a real effect! I wondered how much further out of our heads we would go.
Back on the path between the trees, we began to feel as though we were going ‘down the rabbit hole’. The trees gave us this wonderfully warped feeling of being in wonderland. It was not a scary experience by any stretch, but that edgy adrenaline-like sensation of a mushroom come-up was giving us lots to think about! When we finally arrived at the lake we decided it was time to sit down and smoke another one.
‘Jeez’ I remember thinking. ‘These truffles are seriously beginning to knock me for six!’
‘I know what you mean’ R replied.
Wait… I thought I thought that? I obviously didn’t… That was weird. I could have sworn I didn’t even hear my own voice! By this point we were both beginning to trance off hard. The world was beginning to burst into these tessellating hexagonal pixels that seemed to grow in size and whilst doing so removed the level of detail I could perceive in the world. The pressure behind my eyes was beginning to build. My brain felt alive with activity. The pixilation was beautiful.
It never fails to shock me how normal this all feels when you are on mushrooms. It is so easy at times to forget that you are tripping at all. It is hard to tell how long we remained in this location, but in ‘trip-time’ it felt like an hour. This was mostly spent in silence with the occasional interjection when something particularly interesting happened.
After a while we decided to move further along the waterfront for a change of scenery. We walked for what was in reality about 5 minutes, but it had felt like a good 20. When we stopped to look back we were surprised at how short a distance we had travelled. None the less we sat down again as the body buzz really began to take over.
We decided to smoke another joint. At this point I pulled out R’s Peruvian flute. This is a very simple six hole flute (more like a western recorder than a flute) which gives a very soft, pure and slightly spacy sound. I had never played it before but quickly figured out a minor scale and began to let my brain play the instrument rather than my fingers. This helped us both reach a very peaceful and contemplative state. One can never underestimate the power of a simple instrument when tripping.
I handed the flute to R, and after a bit of persuasion I taught him the minor scale and he began to play. I think the feeling of having produced a melody from this flute for the first time really elated him. After a few more minutes of silence pierced only by the sweet sinusoidal sound wave from our instrument, we lit the propane lantern up again and headed off around the lake.
During this walk I repeatedly asked R to turn off the flashlight which he was holding. I tried to explain that we didn’t need the flashlight if he would keep it off and let our night vision adjust to the level the lantern was putting out. Whether it was that he was so outside of his own head he didn’t really take in what I was saying, or whether his nerves forced him to keep the flashlight on I don’t know but it took several sharp reminders before he kept it turned off!
After walking for what felt like at least an hour (in reality it can only have been 10 minutes or so, time dilation was enormous) we got to the point where we did not have the drive to walk any more. It was now pitch black and beginning to get much colder. I knew that the low that night was only going to be 16°C, but it felt as though it were closer to freezing! We each took a seat on a rock and slowly drifted into complete silence. From here time lost all meaning. We did not move from this position for what felt like so long that any attempt to make an estimate would be futile. The peak was a series of half-remembered memories; vague ideas of what happened, but no idea of when they happened or why, although their insightfulness was not lost.
We both remember getting a lighter out, staring at it intently whilst it was lit then letting the world plunge into darkness when it went out. We were also entertained by the floaters it burned onto our retinas. By complete fluke we both saw the floater at one point as a strand of DNA; quite unusual given the number of different forms it could have taken. The CEVs we were having by now were wild. I remember seeing cascading fractalised rainbows inside my eyes. When I opened my eyes these semi-annular rainbows seemed to drift through the night sky. Occasionally they would turn into tunnelling fractals which met at a point where there was this tessaract-like 4D object which looked somewhere between a sphere and a cube (almost impossible to describe in more detail). It seemed to rotate and morph between these two forms. By this point the experience felt transcendental. At the high end of a +++ experience on the Shulgin scale.
At some point I had changed seating position and found myself lying down in front of the rock I was previously sat on. As I recognised this I went from a state of being completely comfortable to freezing cold almost instantaneously. I stood up and said to R (who was also lying down by now) that it was too cold to stay out and that we were hours away from the campsite, but he didn’t reply. He was clearly having an equally profound and all encompassing experience.
At this point I sat back down. The poncho I was wearing draped like a tent over me. I tucked my chin into my chest, pulled the neck-line up to my forehead and closed my eyes. I felt so intensely cold that I could not stop shivering. I didn’t like this at all, but decided that I had the ability to ignore the sensations of cold. I knew we were in no danger of hypothermia because it was a summer night, and it bothered me that I had let my shivering get out of my control.
I closed my eyes and focused all my meditative attention on the sensation of being cold. Slowly the shivering stopped and I was rewarded with this strange mix of feelings: I knew that I was cold, but I could either sit there and feel sorry for myself or I could learn to enjoy the bodily sensations it gave me. I had done it. I was cold, but I didn’t feel cold! The sense of achievement was profound to say the least. I felt as though I had melted into the sea of human unconsciousness, and instead of drowning in it I had used meditation as a surfboard to propel myself across its vast expanse. I felt power, reverence and an incredible empathy all at the same time.
R then interrupted this state to tell me he was freezing cold and that he wanted to head back. I shared my experience with him and encouraged him to stay and use the opportunity to gain an understanding of how he might be able to deal with the cold. He sat back down, somewhat reluctantly. We lit up the lantern and both commented on the wonderful glow it emitted. It felt so homely. In this coldest of nights, just the light itself seemed to warm us from the inside out, even if we could feel no heat coming off the lamp. R seemed slightly more relaxed now, and so he began to meditate with me.
Now that I had mastered the ability to remain comfortable in this environment, my mind began to wander. I felt this incredible wave of calm wash over me, unlike any other feeling of peace I have ever had before. I felt privileged to experience it and wondered how different a place the world would be if others could experience this pure tranquillity. This is where the entire trip seemed to manifest itself in a vision. I saw a giant storm, the shape of a hurricane. The dark, turbulent and electric clouds were representative of people all over the world interacting with each other in a destructive and chaotic manner. No one was working together, but perpetuating this wretched atmospheric system by constantly battling one another in every interaction that took place. My focus was then drawn to the eye of the storm. Here I saw myself, seated in meditation. The eye itself appeared to be a lens which magnified the image of me and of those I interacted with. This centre point emitted the aura of calm that I was experiencing. As I (the eye of the storm) drifted through the tumultuous atmosphere, I realised I had the ability to project this calm onto the people immediately around me. If I were able to project this in the right way, their portion of the hurricane would begin to settle into a peaceful state.
This was a profound metaphor. It was my mind showing me that I have full control over my actions, and that every decision I make will somehow affect people around me, even if neither party realises it. If I can learn to exist in this calm state, and encourage others to join me, the entire hurricane could potentially dissipate. All the chaos in the world would be gone. All the destructive interactions would stop, and the world would be at peace. This vision is cemented in my mind as a tool for spiritual guidance in my life; only by accepting peace will the world begin to revel in it.
I sat in the glow of this vision until R again asked to return to the camp. After discussing what we had both been through we started walking back. Well as it turned out, it only took us about 15 minutes to walk back to the start of the footpath back home. We realised the time dilation we experienced on the way out there was enormous! Far beyond anything we had predicted until that point! We thought we would be walking for at least an hour until we got back, but we made the entire journey in about a half hour. This walk took on the wonderland demeanour again, although this time the entire experience was far more peaceful; there was not a hint of menace in the trees.
Back at camp we realised we had made the entire journey back with the lantern on the lowest setting we could manage, and yet of the three trips in the dark it was by far the easiest. It just goes to show that if you let your night-vision adjust and not ruin it by using bright flashlights, you are able to move through the landscape with greater ease.
Once we were back at the tent we lit up our final spliff and continued to reminisce on the evenings events. After eating some biltong and washing it down with a cup of hot tea, we finally went to sleep.
I woke the next morning to find R having a cigarette just outside. After some breakfast we headed back down to the lake. The afterglow from this trip was a treat. It was a glorious day. The sun was shining so bright, and swimming around in the clear water was wonderful. The baby fish close to the shore were fun to chase around. We felt an almost child-like innocence return to us that we hadn’t experienced in years. We spent hours down at the waterfront discussing how wonderful it was to be free from city life. Everything seemed so much simpler now. We ate when we chose, we smoked when we chose and the rest just didn’t matter.
After lunch we walked into the woods to have a smoke. We decided that during the day we should be a little more discreet as those kids from the campsite would probably come across us if we were smoking by the waterfront. The first joint seemed to help us get back to a headstate where we were able to see the trees in front of us as kaleidoscopic fractal images, infinite in detail and infinite in brilliance. The ripples in the pond below us were stunning. The world seemed to shimmer in that way which only mushrooms facilitate.
Later that day, given the completely clear sky, we decided we had to witness the sunset from the lake again, and that we should stay an extra night just so we could experience it. We went back down to the tree stump, built a campfire and waited for the sun to sink low in the sky.
The view of the setting sun reflecting delicately off the water, with ripples of blue and white playing across the surface was awe-inspiring. The perfect campfire we had built just added to the experience. After building an inukshuk to mark the location of one of those moments in life that will be engrained in our memories, we sat in quiet contemplation, breaking it only to collect more wood for the fire. We both noticed how little worrying about the future helped. Existing in this state where all that mattered was putting more wood on the fire at the right time seemed like we had tapped into some previously unknown primal state. Some hours after the sun set, and once we had finally run out of wood, we returned to the tent to go to sleep.
The effects of this trip for me were profound. From this experience I feel I have a greater appreciation for everything natural and peaceful that was beyond anything I could have possibly anticipated. The important thing here was not the drugs, however. Without meditation I believe this experience would have been relatively tame. It is only through challenging oneself (dealing with the cold) and contemplating in a pure state of receptivity that the most important lessons were learned. The level of openness my mind reached in this trip was not something I had experienced before. It just goes to show that you can have years worth of trip-time, but you may never learn a single thing until you are objective with your experiences, and learn not to run from them. As a final note, where it is possible to do so, I would strongly urge you to trip without any time-keeping piece with you. It seemed to make the entire experience more infinite in length and allows you to experience the passage of time in a completely different way.
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