Mushrooms - P. semilanceata
Citation: Nowhere Girl. "A Late Beginning: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. semilanceata (exp95565)". Erowid.org. Jul 29, 2020. erowid.org/exp/95565
At first I thought not to submit my report – I'm very happy about having had this experience, but I don't consider it so special or very deep. However after two days I thought otherwise – maybe it is
indeed „special”, because it can emphasize the importance of having a good guide. Thanks to my guide, I was able to have a very positive experience – albeit also very mild – despite having clearly not an optimal starting point.
Thanks to my guide, I was able to have a very positive experience – albeit also very mild – despite having clearly not an optimal starting point.
Therefore I will have to write a long introduction about my „set” and the whole history of my fascination for psychedelics. I remember this story very well because I have been keeping a diary since the age of 9.
I'm a 30 year old woman, but my interest in psychedelics first sparked when I was less than 13. Since that day, I have been waiting for my first trip for 18 years and 10 days. The story of that first day of desire in brief: for already some months prior to that day, I had already been experiencing some temptation for drugs. Reading made me grow up – or maybe rather feel like growing up – too quickly. I was reading a review of a 1977 album by Aerosmith (at that time my favorite band), „Draw the Line”, and the review said: „Even the title shows that the drug period in the band's career is starting”. I didn't know what this phrase meant, so I decided to ask my mother, who yet spoke English better than I did, hoping she won't notice that this subject feels tempting to me. She also didn't understand the phrase, however she tried guessing what could it mean and so she said something that would come to influence my whole life: „I'm not sure, maybe it's about that drug that produces visions? How was it called? LSD?”. At that moment I knew: yes! how can I be curious about speed when there is something like this
... This moment came to be so important that years later I still tried several times to describe that feeling. „It is like sexual orientation: you don't have to try anything to realise”. Or: „These words that produce visions”. Or: „Sometimes you don't choose your desires and interests – a sudden flash, a discovery that some area of life exists, and you are hooked, desire is building a nest in your heart...”.
I wrote that I had been waiting for my first psychedelic experience for „18 years and 10 days”, but it doesn't mean I immediately realised I was waiting for something. I was as influenced by the predominant beliefs that taking any „drugs” is wrong, as most people are. At that point in 1994 I experienced my temptation as something disturbing, something I have to resist. In 1996, after a calm period, this feeling got so strong that I swore „never to try drugs” – not „officially”, I'm not into organised spirituality and other groups where you can make such a promise and be praised for that – but still I treated it very seriously. The problem was that the temptation remained very strong – I was actually trying to prevent myself forcefully from taking any drugs. In 1997 I started reading Tom Wolfe's „Electric Kool Aid Acid Test”, one of the two books related to psychedelics I had at that point (yes, I knew perfectly well it's hypocrisy to swear not to take drugs, but keep reading such positive texts about them). It seems that was the first source that made me learn that psychedelics can be used for more than „fun” or „lovely images”, that many people were using them for purposes of spiritual experience or self-discovery. I kept fighting my desire for several more months, already „out” about my problems to closest friends.
A breakthrough came in August, at the age of 16. Maybe it was too much despair, maybe I arrived at a point where the only choices left would be suicide, madness – or this breakthrough. Within just a few days I went from my struggle to a complete enthusiasm and belief in the deeper meaning of psychedelics. I convinced my closest friends to the same opinion and my first conscious waiting period began, because I decided to try a psychedelic after I turn 18.
Three months before my 18th birthday, in March 1999, reading Romantic poetry brought another breakthrough: I decided to pursue a mystical experience – but without „external help”. My pride made me do it. I wrote something like „Maybe in face of such experiences pride vanishes in the sun of the Spirit
, yet I want to achieve this experience without helping myself”. I never did – I had something reminiscent of a deeper spiritual experience, but later I also got more interested in other topics, such as politics, sport and my studies (literature). And so I spent six years almost completely without the desire to try psychedelics. Sometimes I referred to it in my diary with irony or with a certain „respect for the revolutionary spirit”, but actually taking a psychedelic remained far outside the scope of my plans.
In 2005 the desire suddenly came back after seeing an exhibition by a certain Polish artist, who also presented video documentation of his psychedelic experiments. I kept struggling again for some months – now with a different reason, the belief I may be predisposed to a mental illness – but in 2006 the decision was already „yes”. And so the last period of my waiting began: the period when I wanted this experience so much, but felt I don't have a chance, simply said – an „opportunity”.
However, any time I got closer to having an opportunity, I always felt that I'm scared, that maybe I have been waiting too long, that maybe I subconsciously want to wait forever. In 2008, through forum comments to an article about the death of Albert Hofmann, I came to know K., who would later become my friend and guide. It still took a few years – at first because he didn't trust himself enough to act as a guide (now he turned out to be an excellent guide), later because he wanted me to be sure or because he doesn't „deal with supply” and I couldn't find a „source”. Yes, maybe I indeed used it as a perfect explanation for prolonged waiting...
Now about my mental state. I don't have any genetic predisposition to a mental illness – in fact I'm psychologically so different from pretty much everyone in my family that I could have thought I was adopted if I didn't look very much like my father did (he died 10 years ago). However, some aspects of my behavior should raise concern. I'm very withdrawn, sometimes spending whole days, when I don't have professional obligations (I work as a translator), just alone at home, playing old games and writing or reading my diary. I tend to move between extreme introvertism and extreme extravertism, as if I was desperately trying to establish contact with someone when I find an opportunity. I have problems controlling feelings like anger and frustration – sometimes, when I simply miss a bus, I find myself, for a while, shouting things like „How could I have thought I had a right not to be late!!”. However, I never consulted a psychiatrist – out of my hostility for this profession and plain fear that I could be forced to take some medication „if the diagnosis found something”. I even have some level of distrust for psychologists and have never formally consulted a psychologist since my high school period – also because I felt that his or her reaction to my desire to try a psychedelic would be all too foreseeable... (In 1997, right before my breakthrough, a friend told me that maybe I should „find a good psychologist who wouldn't tell my parents and try doing something to stop wanting this experience” – and at that point, in so much despair, I already felt: „No, I don't wan't to lose this desire, I feel I would be poorer without it!”.) So I have always tried to deal with any psychological problems I may suffer from mostly by myself.
I also have a good starting point for developing psychological blockages. On the other hand – these are things I can't consider pathological and it's a political
decision: more precisely, considering asexuality a valid orientation/choice. I feel psychologically unable to have sex and I strongly believe the most important thing is that I accept it, I have no desire to change it. I have never had a strong libido, but I also admit, when pressed, that I probably identify as asexual partially due to some level of not accepting my body (I rather say I have to feel anger towards my body) – obesity and, first of all, quite severe and uncurable allergy. But, as I wrote in my diary last year, „Life gives us a chance through various circumstances, positive, negative and in between. We can't change some presumptions, but we have a chance to make use of them in the best possible way”.
I'm also a decided feminist, quite obsessed with cultural and social presence of women. It is also able to complicate my experience: I always felt to some extent troubled by the question „Why are there so few female psychonauts?”
I always felt to some extent troubled by the question „Why are there so few female psychonauts?”
, I felt I have to prove that we are not afraid too – a rather hopeless task when you are
Something else: through all these years spent waiting I have written much (mostly in my diary) about „psychedelic theory”. This experience, so far always absent, has already influenced my life to a very high degree. It surely has a positive aspect: even before my first psychedelic experience, I was already able to integrate some psychedelic insights as theory. An important declaration I wrote (again, in my diary, but I read and rewrote it to some people): „There are practically only two possibilities. Either my way of experiencing the world is absolutely Alien, my sensations are unsurpassably Different Sensations and the society has every right to call me insane. Or we all experience this mad intensity of the world, infinite diversity of moments and this is THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN HISTORY. Billions of lives! (...) And all of this – forgotten, without cultural or historical meaning! An infinite ocean of temptations and terrors, visions and vanities, winters and warms
, a true Universe within! This is what history is made of, not of sterile actions, not of abstract thoughts! (...)”. Maybe I easily adapted some aspects of psychedelic discourse – and maybe I did something much worse: I plunged into psychedelic theory without any emergency exit, without knowing what to do if the Experience would come to be a total, painful disappointment. „It would be as if a huge piece of my life was torn away from me”, I wrote. Luckily, it was not the case, but maybe taking a psychedelic when having such feelings is reckless. Altogether, it's clear to see that I'm a very complicated person, often unable to come to terms with myself, torn between conflicting thought-feelings.
Now I can finally get to describe my set directly before the trip. But yet something more: I have hardly any real experience with milder psychoactives. I'm quite a heavy tea drinker, but it's mostly for taste – some are caffeine-free herbal teas (however, I always drink black tea or yerba mate in the morning). I never drink coffee – I simply dislike the flavour. Other caffeinated drinks – quite rarely; once, after an energy drink, I felt stimulated to the degree of feeling unpleasant, I discovered I couldn't stop talking and never tried such beverages again. I have never tried tobacco (apart from sometimes being, unfortunately, forced to be a passive smoker – but I always avoided it the best I could due to my allergy). I have tried various alcoholic beverages, but have never been drunk. In Poland it's not illegal per se to let a minor try a bit of alcohol – as long as the child doesn't get drunk or get into trouble, it's rather up to the parents' discretion. So quite early I was allowed to try a bit of wine, beer, champagne, eggnog, and able to decide I definitely dislike the taste. Probably the last time I tried alcohol was at 19 – I tried cognac, couldn't draw a breath for a while and decided that I really hate the taste of alcohol, I scorn it as a psychoactive and I'm proud to remain an abstinent.
At the age of 14 I tried ether once – I had access for a short time, found it too tempting to resist and took a whiff – yes, this was enough to feel altered for a few minutes. I almost got caught by my mother and later didn't dare to try it again. I tried cannabis a few times, but it never really worked – even when I took it orally. Many people find it hard to get high for the first few tries, so it's not that untypical – the really untypical thing is to have a mushroom trip without even having experience with cannabis. No experience at all with other drugs; I'm scared of depressants and avoid any sleeping pills despite some sleep disturbances. In the last few years I „discovered” the idea of „drug orientation” and thought: yes, that's it, even though I'm a theoretician, my drug orientation is psychedelic.
I spent last New Year's Eve alone, felt depressed and finally told myself to call some common colleague of K. and myself and ask him whether he could help me „find” some mushrooms – I just couldn't stand the thought of perhaps spending another year waiting in vain. Two weeks later he gave me the telephone number of some other person, whom I visited. I bought some mushrooms, also received a few coca leaves meant as a source of spiritual energy and we also had quite a nice conversation which helped my prepare myself, too. As for the number of mushrooms: it's hard to say, because the mushrooms had been picked last year, some of them had already been consumed and what was left were mostly stems with quite few caps (well, not „just a few”, but clearly less). R., who sold me the mushrooms, said he will count two stems like one whole mushroom – altogether I bought about 45-50.
Later I called K., told him I have the mushrooms and in March we decided the vernal equinox should be a good time. Here it showed again that the closer I get, the more I am afraid. I could call it the third struggle: after the struggles between sacrifice and desire (1996-1997), between supposed contraindications and desire (2005), this was the final struggle between fear and desire. I feel I have to emphasize it, even risking presenting myself as a reckless and immature person, because it shows even more the importance of guiding – as I wrote, it turned out to be possible to have a good trip even with such bad preparation. Anyway, on the last day before the trip I felt terribly frightened, felt I have pretty much no positive reasons to try, only negative reasons not to give up (such as: it will be even harder to try again, I may never be able to really prepare myself...). In the evening I prayed for confidence and woke up next morning feeling subtly better: still quite nervous, but not scared. However, as the evening approached, as I was leaving for K.'s home, I felt worse again, I thought repeatedly, even though not fully seriously, of turning back and going home.
K. is an experienced psychonaut. He started with a bad yet profound high-dose LSD trip, but later went on to have mostly very positive and spiritual experiences with substances such as salvia, cannabis, ayahuasca, San Pedro, a few research chemicals and – only once – mushrooms. I was very sure I want to try mushrooms as the first psychedelic because I consider them the perfect start: they are relatively short-acting, easier to dose (you know how much you're taking) and to prepare, well-studied (at least compared to some of the newer discoveries such as most psychedelic phenethylamines – still I would
try them, but not right now) and don't have very strong physical effects such as nausea. Actually in my case the physical effects were quite strong, but I didn't experience them as too unpleasant or frightening.
Setting: just an apartment – with some disorder typical for a home that hasn't been cleaned in the last few hours, but also a makeshift altar on the floor. Some syncretism typical for psychonauts, „new-age'ists” and other people who don't care about being accused of „supermarket spirituality”. Later K. also turned off all electric lights, leaving only two candles as light sources.
I still felt very insecure when I came in. K. turned on some music – Tibetan monks singing. At this point the music sounded very gloomy to me – I'm noting it to show how much would change later. Also encouragements felt uncomfortable at this point, as if I was being pressured to try and had to stand up and leave if I decided to give up. But again – these encouragements just worked.
Preparations: K. laid the coca leaves on the altar and kept singing mantras over the mushrooms, candles, incense, „entrusting the traveller to their power”. Around 8:10 pm he went to the kitchen to boil some water for the mushrooms. When it cooled down a bit, he poured all the mushrooms into the water (we were a bit worried not to lose the active chemical. Theoretically Psilocybe semilanceata
contains mostly psilocybin and just a little psilocin, and psilocybin molecules shouldn't be damaged by heat, but in the experience of K. and his friends, a high dose of boiled mushrooms wasn't really so intense).
At this point the rituals seemed to start working: I was less anxious and asked K. to give me the cup. However, I was still afraid to take all the mushrooms. At this point I probably took no more than 30 mushrooms and around 2/3 of the water from the cup. K. told me to chew them well and I did, which probably accounts for quite fast onset of effects. I swallowed the mushrooms with some pure water and, after going to the bathroom, went back to sit on the mattress and wait for the effects. K. also ate a bit of the mushrooms, but rather „symbolically” – it was too little to feel any effects; however he said that for the whole day he felt somewhat altered, maybe because of the equinox time.
I'm not sure what time it was because I took off my watch, there was no clock on the wall and K. encouraged me to leave problems such as time behind. I think it must have started around 9 pm. At first I felt some tingling of the fingers and feet. I was a bit worried if it may be allergic (I have had an acute allergic reaction four times in my life and it's one of the most terrible things I have ever felt), but K. told me not to think about negative things. Probably at this point he gave me a crystal to hold and asked me to touch my forehead when I would know it was beginning. The tingling feeling indeed started turning into something else, into shivers, mostly of the legs. I found it hard to keep sitting and had to lie down under the sleeping bag. I asked K. to give me my eyeshades and I wore them.
At first I wasn't sure if it was it, I was having a bit of normal afterimages from the candle flames and street lamps outside, but later something else started to appear. At first some simple, symmetrical pattern in shades of gray, then a red and green mesh. It was really a magical moment, something unique – in that moment I knew it had really started „and I was in for a ride”. This „inner space” had a third dimension, it was as if this little world before my closed eyes had turned into a dome, with images appearing and shifting inside it. These visions were rather simple patterns, very delicate, even volatile. They never turned into more complex images, but it was so new – so first – so unknown! I think at that point I took off the eyeshades again – even out of sheer curiosity, to see how the outer world looked like. Changes weren't very pronounced – it was a bit hard to concentrate on a particular object, everything seemed quite more detailed (even the rather ugly dirty-brown sleeping bag – the fabric was really shiny, later, after „landing”, I wrote: „it seems colorless again”), I wasn't sure if some little details had been there before – but nothing spectacular. At that point I found it hard to speak, but I muttered something like: „And I was so scared...”. And: „It's really hard to say what is really the Change”. K. answered: „Yes, that's it, that's what it's about!”. When thinking about this experience now, I could say: I do believe in the Word, in the possibility to tell even things usually described as ineffable – not necessarily directly, maybe through metaphor, poetry... But all the trip reports (and, as a long-term theoretician, I have read hundreds of them before I took my first trip) are usually quite good at describing what happens. What is really hard to say – is how it feels
I think at that time I decided to go to the bathroom before the effects get stronger. I found walking a bit awkward (immediately I also realized I wouldn't feel able to write; I wrote down the diary version of my report after coming down) – some weakness in my legs and maybe even a little sensation as if the floor was moving. However, when in the bathroom, I found out I'm still able to almost „switch off” the effects when necessary. Everything looked ordinary, my reflection, apart from dilated pupils, was normal too. Later, when I was already coming down and went to the bathroom again, I had a funny little hallucination (?): I saw a small black spot moving across the bathroom rug. I'm still not sure if it was some little insect or a hallucination.
Back in the room, I immediately laid down again. I felt so fascinated that I'm finally having this experience, however there was also some uneasiness. In the beginning I was a bit scared when looking at K., his face looked somewhat different. I strongly felt I have to get used to this new world, I was a bit worried what will be when it gets stronger. But the experience remained mild all the time. Later I felt some regret over not taking the full dose, but it's surely better than being nervous about having taken too much... I already wrote how scared I was despite wanting this experience so much, so I just wouldn't dare to take more, even if now I know better... However I soon felt there's nothing to be afraid. There was some feeling of astonishment over all that led me to this moment – arriving at K.'s home, all my nervousness of the previous week, even the „18 years and 10 days of waiting”. It all seemed so far away...
As for the sensory effects, auditory and tactile sensations were most enhanced. I was still having those shivers, my legs were trembling with the rhythm of the music. It felt as if some unknown power had taken control over my body, yet it wasn't frightening. (I have a feeling that when you are able to shed your fear – or simply not to be afraid – almost everything can be fascinating and non-threatening, just by being so different from everyday experience.) Music sounded different – very spacey, three-dimensional – and no longer frightening. It would be too much to call this feeling mystical, but there was something mysterious, something significant about this experience. With my eyes closed I wasn't sure what was happening around me, where K. was. Sometimes I had the feeling there must be someone more in the room. And, first of all, my body felt very different. The feeling of blurred edges, as if I could no longer tell where I was beginning and where ending, the sensation of sinking into the mattress... Consciously I knew everything was in its place, but still there was some feeling of surprise when I for example rubbed my feet against each other and discovered they were still there.
Most of the time the feeling that I „can't lift off” remained, however I must also have resisted on some subconscious level. I guess it's not easy to really let go when it's the first time, when you are only getting used to „how it feels” and learning that – at least at this point – there's nothing to be afraid of... Later I thought boosting might help, so I took that little bit of mushrooms that was left. I think the total dose was at most 40 mushrooms, likely closer to 35. Anyway, the extra dose didn't have much effect. I think at that point I was already starting to come down, even when I didn't know how much time had passed.
K. encouraged me to look at some mandalas he had. Again, I wouldn't call this sensation mystical – rather captivating. I remember him saying things like „Attentiveness. Joy. Love!”. The experience never became truly spiritual, but was first of all beautiful and happy. I feel purified from all that fear and bitterness that had accumulated with my waiting.
The experience never became truly spiritual, but was first of all beautiful and happy. I feel purified from all that fear and bitterness that had accumulated with my waiting.
I remember that later K. asked me, half-joking: „So, how does sex look like from this shamanic point of view?”. I answered something like: „It isn't necessary. These energies exist anyway and one only needs to be able to realize it”.
I „landed” around half past 1, so the trip lasted about 4,5 hours. We spent about an hour talking and then K. went to sleep in the other room and I wrote the report down in my diary before also being able to sleep for some time. I woke up shortly after 7 a.m. and went back home. When still waiting for the tram, I called another friend and told her that I've had this experience and „haven't gone crazy or jumped out of the window, as you can hear”. I felt strange, but in a positive way – again, it seemed so far away that just the previous evening I was travelling the same route in the opposite direction, feeling so scared... I wanted to speak about this experience – at least to people I trust, so I called the persons who helped me get the mushrooms to say thanks to them. Now... at times it again seems so far away, so unbelievable that it really was there... I think that after years of waiting and writing – hundreds of times – things like „maybe I'll never try”, it's hard to get used to not having to yearn anymore.
The trip was far from a mystical experience, yet the feeling I now sometimes get reminds me of something I have read in Huston Smith's „Cleansing the Doors of Perception”: „In the Ch'an/Zen tradition, early texts (...) tend to cite satori as the goal of training. (...) When satori first arrives, its momentousness is likely to make it seem ultimate, the be-all and end-all of existence. (...) At this point enters the realization that comes to be stressed increasingly in later texts. In those texts satori is not the goal; it is the first major hurdle in the unending endeavor to work the satori experience into the fabric of one's daily life until one's entire life takes on a satoric quality”. This is something I will have to think about. I will have to learn to really be more attentive, not to have the whole experience of life pass me by.
I also want to try a psychedelic again, this time a higher dose – but I realize I will have to think all those things through anyway. The first time was a bit as if K. had done all the work for me, but a truly fruitful experience doesn't come for free.
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