Citation: tauri. "Out in Infinite Waters: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp99107)". Erowid.org. Oct 13, 2020. erowid.org/exp/99107
The Brink: A journey to the seam of life and death.
This is a report of my first mushroom experience. This report is quite long and detailed, probably full of information you don't care about, but it was such a powerful experience to me I wanted to share it and hopefully it will be helpful to anyone interested in trying mushrooms or understanding the psychedelic experience.
Sometime ago, four friends and I took a trip to the Appalachian mountains for a week. And with us we brought 12 or so grams of magic mushrooms. Aside from Salvia, I have never tripped on anything so I was quite unaware of what to expect. The day we ate the mushrooms was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring and everything felt right. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 70 degrees F. The sun was brightly shining, the birds were singing and there was a gentle caressing breeze.
Only three of us partook in the 'shrooms. I took about 4 grams. As we sat down to eat them, the large pile of stems and caps sitting before me was only made more daunting by the taste of the first mouthful. The gluey texture of the chewed mushrooms stuck against my molars was disgusting in the true sense of the word. By the time I finished eating them, I had developed a bad stomach ache. It was difficult to tell the origin of the pain: the mushrooms or the fact I hadn't eaten much or very well in the past couple days. At this point, my anxiety was growing and it was not helping my stomach ache at all.
About 15 minutes after ingestion I began having very strange thoughts. A few minutes later, we took a walk on a path near our cabin and it started to set in. I began to feel like I do when I smoke a lot of cannabis. Colors started to appear more vivid than usual and I felt very heavy. At some points I felt like I was “seeing through the cracks”, as if our reality and field of vision was a trick of the light. I could see everything normally, but I also could see things “behind” my field of vision. I had the thought I was seeing past the illusion and seeing part of the apparatus creating the illusion. I am reminded of Plato’s Cave.
We decided to drive to one of the many beautiful national parks, so we began getting ready and locking up. A short time later, I physically felt anxiety rising in my stomach. I knew this feeling all too well. I went to the side of the porch and vomited 4 times. It was like the vomit scene from The Exorcist, purely projectile. I have never thrown up as violently. I felt very peaceful after throwing up but I was still anxious as shit.
Getting ready to leave, I really could feel the mushrooms kicking in. I was seeing very interesting visuals on the walls and when I closed my eyes. My thought processes were becoming absolutely ridiculous and indescribable. I couldn't help but find meaning in absolutely everything, as if my life were some divine narrative. It was taking me far longer to lock up the cabin than it should have. I started to think about determinism and fate. I was wondering if there was a reason I had the keys and the responsibility it brings. I felt myself becoming engulfed in these thoughts and I had no doubt it was taking hold. As I walked down the gravel drive to the car, I was becoming inexplicably scared and anxious, and a thought echoed through my head,
'Dear God, what have I done to myself?'
We got in the car and headed to the park with a sober friend driving. The place we were staying was quite a drive from anything. I am not sure how long I was in the car, but by this point, time had become essentially meaningless so it doesn't matter. Being in the car was uncomfortable at times with cramps and the lack of leg room, but very interesting at other times. I could feel how fast we were driving. Looking at the rolling hills on the horizon I began to feel the Earth under me and felt it feeling me back.
We were listening to music the whole car ride, but I hardly remember any of the music from the first hour or so. But anytime I hear a song now that we listened to at the time slams me back to that day and I can remember. The album Harvest by Neil Young will forever hold a special place in my heart after that day.
I felt myself fading away. Everything sounded as if I was very far away. I was having a hard time understanding anyone because I could not hear them very well. As I began to drift away, I was expanding. I was feeling the ground underneath me, the car, the trees and the mountains in the distance. I had the strangest feeling like my head was blooming or exploding in directions I cannot communicate.
But one of the most interesting sensations was of being in my friends minds. Not that I could read their thoughts or anything, but I felt as I was swimming around in their heads. It was very peaceful. I felt in communion.
At this point I am gone. I was seeing myself from above now. Then my stomach dropped when I questioned how I could be out of my body. And for the first time I wondered if I was dying... I remembered I ate mushrooms and I wondered if perhaps we ate poison mushrooms.
I began to think about existence and my own place in it. At the time it was undeniable that the world was a product of my brain. I am the animal that is the universe, exploring myself for whatever reason in this form currently. The Big Bang and everything that has happened in the mean time was all for this moment.
The world runs by cause and effect. Once the Big Bang happened, I was inevitable and nothing could stop this moment from happening.
With this realization, I saw the universe a massive entity or structure. A great huge piece of art of which we all are a part.
I could not fucking believe what was happening inside of my brain…. That a chemical could do this to me... Total obliviation.
I realized I am a product of purely physical mechanisms, that my brain was doing this to me. It was almost disturbing to think how real the moment was. That all I am is emerging from this brain and my brain will one day end (maybe right now). I am only the witness suffering to the mercy of the world. I have no control. I am called out from the depths of absolute nothingness and presented with this moment called here and now. There has to be a reason there is a here and now, and not a void. I thought, deep down, I am a “here and now”, not a person or a soul. Everything external is an extension of my brain or mind. I live in my mind, my sky lies inside my skull.
As I approached the peak, I was the most fucked up I have ever been, like my mind had broken. My inner monologue was no longer in words. My mind was racing, my stomach clenched, I was panicking that I was dying. It had become hard to enjoy the beautiful landscape all around me. And all began to get dark until I remembered to breathe. It seemed breathing was no longer involuntary, so for some time, I was fully concentrating on breathing so I wouldn't die. All the while, my stomachache had not ceased, further convincing me I ate poison.
I had the strongest urge to close my eyes and just go to sleep and wait for this to be over. I was suffering. Since I was consciously concentrating on my breathing, I seriously thought if I went to sleep I would probably die. But after a while, putting my mind on my breathing calmed me down. I was done struggling and suffering. I was tired of worrying and I let go. I surrendered to death and welcomed it with open arms to end the pain and expected it at any minute.
I didn’t tell any of my friends I thought I was dying. I was embarrassed to what I had done to myself. They would find out when they found me in a seizure or in a curled up heap, asphyxiated on my own vomit. At the time, my death seemed so inconsequential. The only thing I felt concerned about was the big deal everyone was going to make about trying to revive me and calling the paramedics and the attention I would receive, which I didn’t want.
Having accepted death was a very freeing sensation. Besides death, what else is there to fear? I could begin to relax and enjoy the scenery a bit more. The visuals were astounding. Statues were moving around, walls and trees seemed impossibly high. The whole mushroom experience up this point felt very visceral, very animal, but strangely familiar. I can't quite put my finger on the reason why it felt so familiar. I almost felt like I had been there before a million times.
The Lashing of the Ego:
We then started to pass through a tourist trap town and got stuck in traffic. The juxtaposition of this shitty consumerist town in the arms of this magnificent mountain was making me feel sicker. I felt guilty. I made eye contact with a few people walking around on the side walk and their gazes felt so sharp and judging. I’m not sure if I hallucinated that, but I’m sure I looked fucked up and my pupils were probably huge. I was wishing I brought my sunglasses so I could hide behind them, but instead I was so exposed. For some reason I knew they knew what I had done to myself and they were disgusted.
I often went to this town with my family as a child and I remembered I had a family. I thought about how they would feel if they saw me like this and I felt even more guilt. I was the world’s biggest loser, zapped out of my mind, perhaps dying from poison mushrooms. I felt the cold disapproving stares from pedestrians, they were wondering why I wasn’t at work, making something of myself. Through their eyes, I had no business to be wasting time. I was screaming inside of myself, 'What do you want from me?'
I am existing as the observer inside of this human body. As far as I know, I didn't ask for this, but I am here. I felt so burdened. Everyone has expectations and desires for me; those random people walking, my friends, my family. But I just want freedom and to live my way. I can't quite describe this in words, and I know it seems so silly now, but it was one of the most powerful experiences of the trip.
One of my sober friends was trying to talk to me about something that seemed completely inconsequential to me in my cosmological state of mind and I had to inform him I was not here at the moment, which I felt guilty about because he genuinely wanted to talk to me and that echoed within me.
For the first time, I really felt I am not the only person that cares about me. It was as if I realized for the first time my friends and family truly love me and actually care about what I think and they enjoy my company. While it wasn’t the first time I have realized it, for the first time did I truly feel it.
There was also a Santa Claus convention in town the day we were passing through. It was beyond trippy because there were so many walking around and I couldn’t tell if they were real. It was even stranger because the image of Santa echoes back to my earliest memories, somehow convincing me even further I was dying.
My mind was still a vortex, though I had already peaked. I was starting to get uncomfortable because it felt like I wasn’t coming down and I was STILL confined in the back seat of a car. I was finding it hard to think. The best simile I can come up with is it was like I was unsuccessfully looking for a place to plant my consciousness so I could start to think normally again. I was reaching out for something to hold on to but I couldn’t quite grasp it. That doesn’t make much sense, but I’m sure those of you who have tripped will get it.
Soon after passing through town, we finally arrived at the park. I had never been happier to get out of a car. I stumbled out of the car liked the fucked up lunatic I was and couldn’t for the life of me walk straight. And I began looking at the other people there any many of them were wearing tie-dye shirts like I was wearing and it was very scary at first. Again, I realized how fucked up and obvious I must look. But, when I looked at these people, they didn’t seem nearly as angry as the people in town. They smiled when I looked at them and I smiled back. Our eye contact was genuine and deliberate. Maybe they saw how messed up I was, but I saw them as fellow voyagers in life. I felt very open to them. There were also more Santa’s out walking around on the trail for whatever reason and it was fucking with me.
I’m still quite out of my mind at this point, I still haven’t really remembered my name or why I was here, I was just following these people called my friends. I was trying to think too much, worrying about getting lost or losing my other friends that were tripping, but again, I remembered the futility of it all and just surrendered. I had to just wait.
In close proximity to one sober friend, I sat on a rock in silence and I couldn’t think about much of anything. I’m not sure for how long. Existence was scaring me again. I couldn’t find a reason for why I was here and once again got lost in the paradox of something rather than nothing. I couldn’t think and I had no purpose. It was the most boring thing I ever felt. So I just observed. I looked at the beautiful trees, this coursing stream and this magnificent machine called nature.
And sooner or later I was back in my head. And soon enough my friends who had disappeared were back. I felt so relieved and safe. Not only because my friends were safe and that we together, but that I had control over my mind again and could formulate thoughts and sentences. And I realized there probably is no point to existence outside of pure sensation and experience. This is like sandbox mode of a video game. With our amazing hands and enough willpower, we can literally do any-fucking-thing we want! And we sat on a bench in relative silence living in THE MOMENT, the only real one, absolutely enjoying life. I could have sat on that bench in the sun, in the breeze all day, greeting passer-bys and I would have been happy.
With my newfound sense of self and relief, I was euphoric, yet feeling remarkably sober. I could not stop talking now that I could form ideas. It was like someone removed my talking filter. I spoke everything on my mind.
I was so happy I was alive, to be sharing this beautiful day and beautiful world with such great people. My stomach ache was finally gone as well. We drove around a bit more and looked at some truly beautiful mountains and they were blowing my mind with their size and absolute beauty. We drove back to the cabin and I was just in absolute acceptance of everything. Everything was perfect, everything was going to be ok and there is nothing to worry about...EVER. I was in awe of the world and everything was blowing my mind.
The sensation of the sun and wind on my face made me feel so alive. I felt like someone who had faced death and returned to the land of the living. And the conversations we had in the car were great. I felt a strong connection and such love for everyone I was with and I was especially thankful for our sitter who was driving and watching out for us. I wouldn’t have made it without him. It was amazing me that he cared that much about us.
Passing back through the town that was so hellish on the way to the park, I saw the place completely differently. Looking at everyone out there walking around, I was consumed by love for humanity and every human being. I’ll never forget when I happened to look out the window and meet the gaze of a little girl on the sidewalk. I was staring at her staring at me and I smiled and she smiled back and then we drove away. It was like setting up two mirrors to each other. It was the recognition of myself in another, and another in myself. With that, it felt like a circle had come to its close. I don’t think I can or need to say much to describe its significance to me.
We returned to the cabin and I felt great. Visuals persisted for a couple hours and we watched The Matrix. I was very contemplative for the rest of the day, trying to make sense of what happened to my mind. It absolutely changed my life. I am now certain death will not be my end. I saw it’s possible to exist as something else, the inside of the mind goes forever inward.
Looking back on the experience, I am still trying to make sense of it. Was everything I experienced just drug induced mental garbage? Or was it something far more real than this world?
When I am totally engrossed in a movie or video game and the picture and sound starts to lag, I am slammed back to reality and remember that I am only watching a movie. I think something similar is going on with psychedelics. They disrupt the functions of the computer that is the brain and I can see the glitches and get a truer glimpse of what is really going on here.
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