Citation: Flickering. "Confronting the Blur: An Experience with LSD & Cannabis (exp92657)". Erowid.org. Jan 3, 2012. erowid.org/exp/92657
Fresh from my second experience with LSD and still beaming with the afterglow, I find myself back in the ‘real world’ of work and taxes and congested transit lines once more. The Australian bush, serene and simple, is an ideal place to trip on this beautiful substance, and I wish I could have stayed forever. But there will be another time, already eagerly awaited, to share this experience again with wonderful friends who understand exactly the joy and wonder of opening your mind to the beauty of natural creation.
What can I call this trip but my final inauguration into the world of psychedelics? I’ve had a rocky start on this journey, bad trips and major let-downs that have filled my mind with doubt and anxiety. Now I feel LSD has taught me the fundamental rules of psychonautics, the same lessons more experienced psychonauts have tried to instil in me, only this time, the sheer power of those hours under the night sky broke through my stubborn expectations and showed me. As they say: life-changing.
First, a little background. I started out with dextromethorphan, but discontinued after a third plateau trip that left me feeling like a broken soul who didn’t really exist. I then moved on to mushrooms, starting with a two gram trip of a potent species, and it all went well enough until I encountered something so horrific, it shattered my resolve to use hallucinogens as tools for self-discovery, and had me traumatised for a week. In the wake of the four worst hours of my life, I spent the next two months piecing together just what had gone so, so wrong. Did I have some neurological disorder that prevents me from having an experience that isn’t an acute psychotic episode? If I continued dabbling with these substances, would I lose my mind for good? If not for my desperate need for answers, I would have walked away at that point, and I often felt a wiser person would have done just that.
Bear with me as I describe this nightmare of a bad trip. Imagine yourself walking about, ruminating on ever more confused and less sane philosophy about being God, when suddenly, all your senses warp into a confused mess. Everything you see, hear and feel no longer makes the slightest sense, as your room transforms into a mesh of colours and you lose the ability to distinguish sound and touch from emotion and thought. It is to find yourself catapulted out of this human existence into some other place where nothing is solid, there is no time, sanity dissolves, and amid the absolute disorientation there is only one clear thought: Oh. Fuck.
I have just fucked up my life.
It’s impossible to say how long this lasted, perhaps a minute, perhaps an hour. The only awareness I had of the outside world was that it must still be there, and that my friends and family must be so horrified that I destroyed my mind on drugs. As it began to clear, and the connections between percept and concept re-established, I looked around the room with only slightly less confusion. What was this place, who was I, what was I? I had no idea. I spent the rest of the trip gradually working through the confusion to find myself again. I awoke next morning to severe depression and a conviction that I would never, ever touch drugs again.
The night had been so confusing that it was only when I took acid two months later that I remembered this disconnect between my perceptions and my ability to interpret, the dissolution of boundary between thought and senses. All I had was vague memories of a hellish experience that felt like serious brain damage. But acid has a unique way of enhancing my imagination, and now that I understand just what happened, I’ve come to know it as ‘the Blur’.
I tried san pedro, only to find the specimen was inactive. I tried weed for the first time at four hits, and it triggered a minor flashback of the Blur, which I no better understood, but it left me feeling that continuing hallucinogen use would be a sure one-way ticket to that psychotic state. But at the urging of experienced psychonauts, I gave it one more shot and dropped half a tab of acid. The result was a beautiful night of euphoria and clear-headedness I’ve never known before, a brilliant mental stimulant for an introspective mind. I still harboured anxiety that a full tab might tip me over the edge, but resolved to try it anyway.
Now, set and setting. I drove several hours out of the city with two friends, M and G, to a campsite where we’d spend the next three days. It was M, a tripper seasoned with four decades of substance use, much of it at this very site, who supplied the acid. G, who sampled ecstasy and was currently enjoying pot every day, only had one psychedelic experience to his name, and it was on LSD some six years earlier. He’d taken two tabs and ended up in a mental ward for the next few months. G is the most genuinely happy and accepting person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and as an enthusiast of consciousness study, he felt ready to give it another try with good company and a beautiful environment. So it was that we set up camp, spent Friday acquainting ourselves with the sunlit groves and acacia fields, the crystalline river and the tens of thousands of datura plants lining its bank. By Saturday, I felt relaxed and peaceful, and ready to plunge into my first full-blown, not-horrible, psychedelic experience.
We dropped the tabs at 3p.m. on Saturday. M felt it would be best to start late afternoon, as the night ambience and starlight is beautiful on acid. We both took one tab, while G took a half. There’s no way to be sure, but I estimate their strength at 80µg, and though I’m interested in heavy experiences down the road, I don’t see myself ever taking this particular substance at more than 120µg, nor using it more than once a year. Beautiful though it was, I also think I may be one of those rare people who appreciates low-dose acid, perhaps in conjunction with another substance, for its unobtrusive consciousness expansion and creative mindset. On this night, though, the one tab was perfect.
As we started feeling the effects, we left the campsite and took a walk off-road into the sunburnt gullies and the hills abundant with kangaroos. Some describe the acid come-up as hard and ‘pushy’, but I think it’s wonderful. I soon had a big smile on my face and not a care in the world. The LSD was tweaking my consciousness and we were laughing at the stupidest things, yet my thoughts became crisp, unburdened. And then less than an hour in, something happened that almost derailed the experience.
I was looking at the dirt as I walked... and I had an experiential flash of another state of mind that made me think... “What if, as I’m walking along, everything I see, hear, taste and smell, and all of my thoughts and feelings, blur into a total incoherent mesh? ... Oh, shit. That’s exactly what happened on shrooms, isn’t it.”
In an instant, my euphoria was gone. I was starting to get very worried. LSD truly gives me amazing imaginative power, and I couldn’t help but imagine exactly what it would be like if the Blur struck right then. It would propel me into a state of total schizophrenia. I would be walking alongside my friends and reality would just disintegrate, and that would be the end. I might never recover. I might be trapped in that other world, that horrible Blur, forever. And that’s the price I pay for taking too much LSD – those people who encouraged me to go for it were wrong, this really is going to destroy my mind.
I was shaken. Simply by imagining it, I seemed to be invoking the fucking thing, just by the sheer vivid power of my imagination.
My friends knew my history. I could never in good conscience trip with people and not tell them I’d had less than stellar experiences with psychedelics. But I kept my mouth shut and resolved to get through this alone. If I told them something was wrong, their carefree air might turn to concern, and that would only make things worse. Besides, if the Blur was going to happen, it would happen, there was no stopping it. I knew I was wavering on the edge of another bad trip just by inviting that doubt into my mind, so I gritted my teeth, anchored myself in reality, and resolved to endure my own anxiety. Acid is such a powerful substance; it only takes one wrong thought pattern to make it all go to hell. I knew this, and I’d learnt enough from my previous bad trips to not fall for the tricks my mind was playing on me. So there I was, in limbo between good trip and bad, wrestling to keep it together. Had I taken more, I probably wouldn’t have been able.
The sun was almost setting as we made our way back to camp. My main concern by now was whether I actually had any control over whether the trip went well or not. After all, I pondered, how does this work, exactly? People take acid with good set and setting, and sometimes it goes wrong anyway – is that a random chemical fluctuation, or do they just give in to scary thoughts like the ones I’m having? Am I in control here? I parted from M and G, who I later found out were wrestling their own demons, and laid down in the grass to focus my attention on the river and calm down.
This was where I got my first visuals. The cliff face across the water began to morph. The longer I stared at it, the more it twisted. It was a subtle, slow process, and as soon as I looked away, it became solid again. I looked up at the trees above the cliff face, and the entire hillside they rested on started bending, so it looked like the landscape was bowing to me. Quite different from mushroom visuals, which are more electrical and remind me of Alex Grey’s artwork. What they share in common is that the transformation goes deeper the more you stare at the object.
I remained nervous and my anxiety seemed to permeate the air, like a presence in the valley. For the next while, I felt that whatever I was doing, I really ought to be doing something else to get a grip, before this anxiety became the dark and terrifying presence of a bad LSD trip. I thought chatting with my friends might work, but found it stressful to keep a happy composure around them. I found being too far away from them didn’t help either, because I’d be on my own and might get lost if things went bad. You’d think the middle ground of being in their vicinity would work, but it didn’t. So what saved me? Laughter.
I was sitting in the caravan, trying to write down trip notes. G was saying how impressed he was that I could write anything at all, because he, on half a tab, couldn’t manage more than one word. (Incidentally, everything I wrote was quite coherent and legible, but I soon gave up because there was too much happening and writing by hand is sooo slooow on acid.) Anyway, I was having trouble concentrating on what he was saying, so at one point I nodded and said, “Mm... that’s right... Excuse me. I need to go outside and watch some rocks morph.”
We spent the next five minutes laughing hysterically. The rest of the trip was awesome.
It was far from the last funny thing that happened – indeed, our conversations became a strange mix of philosophy, rating burps out of ten, and the most profound fart humour possible... more philosophy, and puns so bad we had to laugh, or occasionally so great we... had to laugh. I was doing most of the philosophy, and I felt an overwhelming need to share it. LSD is very expressive, for me. On the half tab the week before, I’d written seventeen pages of things I felt needed to be said, in three hours. Here, I was saying things like, “Solipsism can be practical. Embrace self-centredness, but don’t let it absorb you.” G thought this was brilliant, and insisted I return to the caravan and write down every such thing I said. “Every experience I have, with all the existential subtleties, the nuances of feeling – all of it is so unique and how else could I, God, experience it, than to not know I am immortal?” M was there to bring us back to reality, and we spent as much time taking the piss out of ourselves as we did legitimately pontificating, until the two merged into one and I announced: “The real Zen master knows that Zen is bullshit.”
Yes, acid is a very thinking drug, and I return to what I said before about low doses. Thirty or forty milligrams would be ideal if you need a lateral solution to a problem.
Periodically, I left the fire we’d built to stand alone under the stars. Here, I became melancholy. I thought about my problems, the chronic dissociation in my life that makes it impossible to even want to be part of human civilization. I felt bitter that LSD wasn’t helping me find a way to heal that, as I’d hoped it might. I thought about death and non-existence, what an incredible waste it is, and how stupid it is that we’re supposed to find any consolation in one day not experiencing reality. “Fuck you,” I said to the beautiful face of the Goddess that formed in the sky. She was there everywhere I looked, a serene face of many forms composed of the million stars in the clear night sky. I gave her the finger.
Later, I wandered about and reflected on my bad mushroom trip, and how I’d felt close to slipping back into it before. What had that all been about? It was the Blur, I realised. At last I could remember just what had happened, how my brain had stopped making sense of my every perception and, not being in any way prepared for it, I’d panicked. That trip didn’t necessarily have to be a bad one. I just didn’t have the experience to handle it. And the reason I’d spent the rest of it having a ‘psychotic episode’ wherein I alternately believed I was God, a patient in a mental hospital, a prisoner in my room for eternity, etc. was because I had no idea what to do with something like that. It had completely thrown me. There’s a knack to this tripping thing, that’s why more experienced users can take high-dose DMT and hold it together.
What was it they’d told me? Whatever happens, don’t fight it, you have to ride it out. I’d had trouble believing that before. Surely if you don’t fight the real psychotic thoughts, that’s when you break down and end up in a mental ward, like my friend G on his first time. But now it made sense. Even the ones who do lose it, they’re not still tripping when they’re in hospital. They’re just insane. There was no danger of the Blur ever lasting for my entire life; I would always come down from it, and the only way lasting damage could occur would be if, indeed, I resisted it, and believed I was losing my mind. Because that is traumatic, and a powerful enough blast of it would be enough to unhinge anyone, the same way watching your lover get tortured, raped and murdered would be enough to send someone over the edge.
Therefore, the solution was always to ride it out, and have an anchor. If I find my ego blasted to the four corners of reality, I need only hold on to one thing: This is a trip. It is not real. It will pass. And I could have done that, even during the Blur. But I gave in to the fear that I’d just lost my mind for good, which was exactly how it felt, and it had destroyed me.
Still, a doubt lingered. How could I be sure about this? And then, I had my answer.
I went back to the fireplace, and asked M and G to give me some weed.
“Just one hit,” I said, and explained what I was trying to do. Last time I smoked, it had invoked the Blur in a mild shroom flashback. At the time, I had interpreted it as psychosis. It hadn’t been as intense as the full thing, but it was still scary and highly uncomfortable, so I decided never to smoke pot again – basically, I decided to run away from the problem. Now, I was turning volte-face and confronting it. This would be my test. My initiation into the world of tripping. And if I was wrong, I would probably lose my mind.
I took a good deep hit, laid back to watch the fire, and waited.
Marijuana and acid have wonderful synergy. You feel heavy and incredibly relaxed, yet far from incapacitated. Conversations drift off in a hundred tangents, yet you always come back to what you started with and you never forget what you were saying. The dynamic of our little group was simply perfect, three misfits of varying ages figuring out the meaning of life in our own ways, feeling we’d glimpsed enlightenment. It was incredible. I’m a lightweight with weed, and the acid seemed to potentiate it, so pretty soon, I was pleasantly stoned. And then, just like I predicted, the Blur crept into the fabric of my consciousness about an hour in.
At first, it was very subtle. I noticed some confusion about the tea I was drinking, how the sensation of warm liquid going down my throat didn’t seem to make sense. How could it be happening in space and time when it was just a sensation? Sensations don’t have dimension. (Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar on drugs; if not, you probably won’t be able to follow.) Gradually it intensified. Our campfire conversation became a far-away mesh of meaningless percept. Yet I held fast to my goal. I did not panic. Whenever I felt I’d gone too far out, I reminded myself I was tripping, and endured it. The dissociation from self and identity, the blurring of the line between thought and the external world, sunk into my consciousness. But the warm glow of acid helped me through it. Everything felt right, even the atemporal, non-spatial stomach cramps I was having. All in all, on Blur scale, it reached a three or a four out of ten, and I was still able to hold conversation despite the powerful dissociation. My last experience on weed might make a five on that scale, and on mushrooms, where everything got obliterated, a ten. I didn’t need a five or a ten. This preview of it was enough to know that next time I encounter it, I’ll be ready.
And the weed slowly wore off, and we started coming down from the acid.
We spent the rest of the night until 3a.m. playing music from the caravan, and eating campfire food and chocolate. Music on LSD is not as good as on DXM and definitely not as good as mushrooms, but it still gels with the everything-is-just-right glow of acid. Food, however, is transcendentally awesome. Fruit explodes in your mouth. The texture of dark chocolate cracking apart into sweet chunks, the salty potatoes disintegrating on your tongue with hot butter, the onion and (non-psychedelic) mushrooms rich with oil... perfect. We shared previous experiences on drugs – G insisted I write down my description of DXM: “Feeling like you’ve lost 30 IQ points, and good riddance.” We stood under the stars again, and this time the Goddess turned into a vampire goth chick, and we all spotted geometric connections between the brighter stars. Visuals had mostly passed by this point, but we continued to notice how the stars looked like little lanterns hanging a few hundred metres overhead instead of thousands of light years away, and how the tin foil around the potatoes looked like breath-taking crystal skulls, or the heads of a Terminator or Optimus Prime. Finally, M fell asleep, and me and G retired to our tent.
Unfortunately, I found it impossible to sleep, and spent the next hour tossing and turning. I was getting faint closed-eye visuals, much like what I picture from a very weak hit of DMT. At first they were slow-moving geometric patterns and shapes, morphing smoothly in dreamlike fashion. But as I got more frustrated, they turned into rotten teeth and hideous dinosaur skeletons. Eventually, I realised that with my last, half-tab experience on acid, what I’d interpreted as a hangover had in fact been the trip continuing. That day, I’d remained dissociated even the next night at work, and I was still having trippy thoughts and a generally altered perception. This time, I’d taken more, so it was stronger. My conclusion: for some reason, I peak normally, but I continue tripping for a long time on acid, perhaps about thirty hours. It was impossible to sleep while tripping, so I woke M up and asked for some Valium. It knocked me out mid-sentence in conversation with G.
The next day was glorious. We wandered the national park and I was in love with everything. All so warm and colourful and orgasmic! I felt proud of my decision to face the Blur and my victory over it, and I was looking ahead to my future psychedelic experiences. I think I will try san pedro next, and then ayahuasca and DMT, if I feel up to the incredible mind-fuck. This had been my best trip so far and certainly I took a lot away from it. I have an enhanced appreciation of life, even though I still struggle with what seems to be a mild form of derealisation disorder, and I have hope now that with the help of psychedelic drugs, I’ll one day find the answers I’m so desperately looking for. Psychonautics is a legitimate psychospiritual discipline for those who want to use drugs that way, and hopefully one day, society will recognise that. A legitimate path for those who seek self-discovery. Trip on and may you all find the peace I had when I sat before that fire and glimpsed, just for a few hours, perfect contentment.
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