This was only my second time tripping on shrooms. I had
shrooms once before several months ago and ate about an eighth. The trip was
light and somewhat visually stimulating but I wasn’t particularly impressed.
The experience that follows was brought on by ingesting just
one fresh specimen of P.Cubensis, straight out of a fresh batch, drinking a
beer or two, and smoking two bowls a couple of hours into the trip. I have
ingested substantial doses since then but have never even approached a trip of
this depth again.
It begins badly. It begins with no preparation, no
foresight, and only a tentative idea of what to expect. These are our shrooms,
our children, the fruits of our labor. They are the survivors of contamination,
our first and (mostly) failed attempt at cultivation. The decision to trip is sporadic and
spontaneous. It doesn’t feel right, somehow; it feels like I’m about to get
into more than I bargained for. I dismiss this as paranoia. We decide to start
small. Shit, man, it’s just one shroom. What’s the worst that could happen? We
pick out the biggest specimens and ingest one each. There are two of us
tripping, and we recruit a third to monitor.
It is about 9:30pm, and this monitor (call him P) informs us
that he has to leave around midnight. This seems reasonable, considering the
dosage. Besides, we are not going anywhere.
We settle down in the basement of this other dude who’s tripping with me
(call him L) and put on The Transporter 2.
About 20 minutes in, I am beginning to feel an effect. I
experience a growing sensitivity in mood. Things seem to affect me with more
personal depth. The basement is dim and chilly and this is starting to bother
me. I grow increasingly restless and anxious. I feel cold and slightly feverish.
My hands are wet and clammy.
I try to focus on patterns and objects in the basement to
see if I get any visuals, but nothing is happening. I say to hell with it and
try to focus on the movie instead. The movie seems polarized into scenes that
are extremely “trippy” – the action scenes – and scenes that are extremely
boring. Every time the trippy fight scenes come on, I feel a growing sense of
delight and entertainment. I start grinning stupidly and want to laugh. When
the action ends, I feel distressed and annoyed and want to leave the room. Eventually
I get used to this state. I begin to anticipate and control my mood transitions,
and I feel like I can chill there and watch the rest of the movie in peace.
This state of heightened sensitivity encompasses the extent of my trip for
maybe the next couple of hours. At this point, I’m not sure I get what the fuss
is all about, and I begin to feel annoyed that we didn’t take a stronger dose.
L, meanwhile, is paying the price for his lack of
preparation. The set grows increasingly negative as unexpected bullshit keeps
raining down on our heads. First, L’s parents return from work at around 10:00.
They call him from the basement and argue about something trivial for several
minutes. When we resume the movie, he is visibly irate and seemingly tripping
harder than me. I do not envy him.
We watch the movie for maybe another half an hour and
suddenly, completely unexpectedly, people start piling into the basement. It
turns out L had invited some friends over to chill and drink with and he had
completely forgotten about it when we decided to try the shrooms. Neither of us
particularly feels like being around a lot of people right now, but whatever.
At this point, no one except P knows that we’re shrooming. We
all go upstairs and chill on the deck, drinking and talking. I have a few
beers, go through maybe 6 cigarettes, and this seems to mellow me out. I lean
back and zone out to the night sky, a sudden spring of inner dialogue, and the
buzz of conversation around me.
Around midnight, shit goes sour. L has disappeared off the
deck and gone back down to the basement without a word. Meanwhile P decides he
has to leave. He borrows a bowl from one of the people hanging around on the
deck (call him R) and motions for me to follow him. We walk out to the driveway
and get in P’s car to smoke. P tells me that L is acting weird and having a bad
trip. Meanwhile, P’s got to bounce, but he’s told R that L and I are tripping,
so he’ll keep an eye on us.
Now I don’t really feel much like I’m tripping anymore, but
I take a few good hits from the bowl and start to feel really weird. I look at
the digital display on P’s center console and all the numbers seem to bend and
melt into each other. I feel anxious and feverish again. I look at P and tell
him that I think I’m starting to trip balls. P doesn’t seem to believe me. He
tells me he has to go, hands me the bowl and tells me to go return it to R. P
is a really bad monitor.
As P drives away and I walk back towards the deck, the
feeling of anxiety begins to rise rapidly. I think about drinking a beer and
grab one but can’t seem to figure out how to open it. I start panicking and
feeling like I’m losing my mind. I walk over to R and hand him his bowl and tell
him I’m going downstairs. R starts arguing with me and telling me that L is
down there having a bad trip and I shouldn’t be disturbing him, which doesn’t
really make any sense to me.
Meanwhile my anxious feeling is starting to crescendo into a
full blown panic attack, and I am dying to just get the hell out of there and
go back downstairs. R tells me since I’m going down there, I should make sure L
isn’t dying or choking on his own vomit or something. L’s only had one shroom,
so I have no idea what the fuck he is talking about. All I know is I’m getting
more and more freaked out. Finally, I just say the hell with it and rush down
to the basement.
Coming down into the basement creates a massive and instantaneous
mood shift. The dim illumination and chilly temperature that bothered me earlier
is now an absolutely euphoric change from the humid weather and frantic
conversation upstairs. My panic subsides, though I am still fully aware that
smoking that bowl with P has really sent me over the edge.
L is lying down on the couch. He hears me coming downstairs,
looks up and says, “oh it’s you” with palpable relief in his voice. He sounds
like he’s going through some kind of mindfuck and I’m beginning to realize, for
the first time, that this mindfuck is now upon me. We exchange a few sentences
but it quickly becomes obvious that neither of us is functional for
I stumble to an adjacent guest room and shut the door. I
have heard of people having really terrible trips, and I have a distinct
paranoia that I’m about to have one just like that. For a good 10 minutes I
can’t bring myself to turn out the lights. Instead, I whip out my cell phone
and start playing around with the menu. It’s making no sense to me and I have
no idea what I’m doing. The colors, letters, and numbers on the digital display
are morphing into some kind of fluid multicolored background. Looking at my
phone and thinking about what I’m looking at makes me feel like I’m about to
sail over the edge of my own mind.
Slowly but surely I begin to develop a profound sense of
derealization. As moments crawl past with infinitesimal slowness, the feeling
of time’s passing fades away. I stare at the walls, the ceiling, the bed that
I’m sitting on and suddenly everything feels fake, one-dimensional. An aura of
artificiality pervades every object that I turn my focus on. It feels as though
all the world is about to unravel around me as a figment of my imagination.
It takes an enormous amount of willpower to stand up from
the bed and wander aimlessly to the light switch, feeling my feet sink into the
floor with every step. Finally, I shut off the light and collapse into the
Almost immediately, my consciousness is flooded with a
panorama of bizarre objects. There are spinning, luminescent trails phasing in
and out of focus. I notice that by directing my attention to them I can
manipulate them into more complex and interesting forms, but with this
realization comes the dim awareness that to concentrate on them and to play
their game is to part with the last vestiges of reality still busying my mind.
I try, in vain, not to lose myself in this playground that my imagination has
opened for me. But the struggle is uncomfortable and the images are inviting.
Eventually I say fuck it and let go.
The descent begins. There is a pulling from underneath, or a
sinking into quicksand. But it is the mind that is sinking, not the body. My
consciousness seems to fold into itself, as it glides down gently and gradually
into a bottomless abyss, while all semblance of reality slowly but surely
disconnects from my attention. This descent is not like the descent into sleep,
or into unconsciousness. On the contrary, my awareness is sharp, my attention
is roused and demands new focus. Thoughts begin to race through my mind, but
they no longer seem jumbled and incoherent, as they did in the earlier stages
of the trip. They ring with clarity. There is an exhilarating sensation of
acceleration, as though my cognition and imagination have suddenly been
I find memories, situations past, present, and future,
surfacing and presenting themselves to the mind for analysis. It comes with
incomprehensible ease. I turn my focus from one problem to the next, and they
seem to dissolve in a flash. Answers are immediate and intuitive, and they are
accompanied by that sort of deductive certainty that one feels after solving a
mathematical problem. I imagine the people in my life, my family, the people
upstairs, the dude tripping in the next room. Their personalities become
transparent to me – I feel as though I can read their minds.
This scares me. Somehow I feel as though I’m cheating,
accessing knowledge that I shouldn’t, too soon and too easily. I decide to turn
the focus of this mounting cognizance inward, to see what it can tell me about
myself. And here things get weirder.
All at once I realize that I’ve abstracted myself from the
present experience, and suddenly I am observing myself tripping, observing
myself observing myself and drawing inferences about myself and my personality.
There is a dizzying mental vertigo, an abrupt brain zap and a wave of euphoria
washes over my body. There are two parallel streams of consciousness running
here, in the nervous system of this human animal, having experiences that are
at once incommensurable and synchronized. Then there are three. Then there are
more. The illusion of a central, unified Self is washed away.
Still, I continue to think, I continue to feel. But the
referent of “I” here is no longer a metaphysically discrete subject, but simply
the narrative voice of the story that the brain tells itself about itself. My
consciousness continues to fragment and splinter, and realizations of momentous
gravity wash over me in waves, each accompanied by that distinct sense of
algorithmic validity. There is the sensation of holding my own ego as a puzzle
box in my hands, and working it rapidly, and as if possessed by some superhuman
intellect, into a desired configuration.
Eventually the fragments of consciousness begin to
reintegrate into a coherent whole again, and as the visual carnival fades away,
a scene presents itself to the mind’s eye.
I am gliding across the motionless surface of an endless
black ocean. The water is clean but all I see beneath is pitch black. I am
apprehensive of the void below; something horrible seems to lurk there and I am
not ready for it. I turn my attention upward and see a glimmering night sky. As
I rest my focus on the faint luminescence above, it seems to resolve itself
into a shifting fractal pattern of incomprehensible complexity. There is
another zap, and another wave of euphoria. I drift, surrounded by layers of
breathing, oscillating dynamic structure. It floods my senses in a wave of
synesthetic ecstasy. I see it and I hear it; it sings to me and occupies my
entire visual field with its noise. I start laughing out loud. I think I repeat
“this is so fucking cool” several times.
I feel omniscient. I feel like I might be a god. Visions of
great scientists and eccentric geniuses race through my mind. I feel as though
I am in on a great secret with them, and they are now my company.
Simultaneously comes a feeling of being watched. I am
something’s focus. Its attention has turned to me. I feel it called across an
unfathomable distance, and in an instant it is there with me. The Voice (I
imagine it to be McKenna’s Logos) has no visual representation in this
mindspace; I simply feel its presence. I am aware of a question, or a dare,
that seems to originate somewhere beyond myself. It is asking, something with
the form of “now that you are here, what will you do? What will you do with
this knowledge?” It is daring me to be, to change, to wake up tomorrow and live
a new life.
Immediately the answer comes to me. I feel a maddening
curiosity, a hunger, a desire to live every experience, to learn every fact,
and to better myself as much as possible in the process. I project this hunger
as my answer. This answer seems right somehow; it comes with that feeling of
certainty. And the Voice seems pleased, maybe surprised. Perhaps the answer is
selfish, and I do not feel any particular altruism at the moment, but it seems
as though it is the answer it wanted to hear.
The Voice seems to communicate through a kind of “event
language”. If it wants me to feel something, to be in a certain cognitive
state, it puts me in that state and I am in it. It projects its thoughts into
my own mind. But it is not authoritative. If am meant to learn something, or to
figure something out, it guides my attention and constructs my environment,
then waits for me to draw the appropriate inferences. This method of communication
does not flow both ways. I do not feel any access to the thing’s mind; rather
it seems to be intruding into mine. It is firmly in control of the encounter.
Of course, the obvious question occurs to me. I have never
been any sort of spiritual person and I have never taken religion (particularly
Western monotheism) very seriously. But obviously at some point in the
developing exchange I ask the Voice if it is God. I am immediately struck with
a feeling of profound irony. The Voice seems to laugh mirthlessly, perhaps to
scold me. It does not answer my question one way or another.
Still I persist in asking the wrong things. I hypothesize
that there are many others like it, or perhaps not like it. But certainly
throughout the experience there is an overwhelming impression that there are
things out there much smarter than people, and that here I am faced with one of
them. It dismisses the question, as though to say “that does not matter. I am
here now and I have your attention.” This line of inquiry is irrelevant.
I feel now as though the exchange is not going terribly
well. I am no longer being shown any fundamental truths about the nature of the
universe. The Voice seems content to merely to display itself and its method of
communication. There is a vague apprehension that the Voice is mocking me, that
it is fucking with my mind for its own amusement. It seems benevolent, and even
though it is clearly the voice of a massive superintelligence that has my
sanity in its grasp, I feel no fear. Still, its motives are inscrutable.
At this point the Voice disconnects. I do not feel the
distance that I did upon its arrival, but I no longer feel its presence. The
shimmering fractal pattern is again lost somewhere above me in the night sky,
and I am back at the surface of the ocean. I begin to sink into the alarming
There is a mounting panic as I feel something nasty tugging
at the periphery of my consciousness. Hideous and terrifying images begin to
seep into my mind. I feel a second and distinct presence, and instantly I am
aware that it poses a physical threat. Suddenly I am again aware of the
physical sensation of my body and it feels extremely uncomfortable. My blood
pressure and body temperature begin to rise. I break into a sweat. My breathing
becomes erratic. Meanwhile my mind conjures surrealistic images of hell that
seem to remind me of something I once saw in an art history class. I remember
horror movies that scared me as a kid, nightmares that I had years ago, and all
kinds of twisted, horrible shit. I begin to understand what a bad trip is, and
I realize that I’m having the mother of them.
Perhaps more unnervingly than any of that, I begin to lose
control of my cognition. My thoughts seem to be racing in a loop. Random words,
phrases, and fragments of half-conceived thoughts get stuck in my
neurocognitive machinery and run circles around themselves.
As I try frantically to break out of the loop, calm down and
stabilize my body, the thought occurs to me that this is how people with
catatonic schizophrenia must feel. Somehow this thought acts as a key, or
catalyst. I launch into another fugue of parallel consciousness, and suddenly I
am watching myself, completely detached from the chaos that was flooding my
mind just moments ago. I feel a strange and unexpected sensation that occurs
alongside the terror and confusion. I feel profound boredom.
I realize that something is fucking with me on a completely
primal and emotional level. My intellect is not engaged in the least, and yet
the shrooms have kicked it into overdrive and it is starving for information.
It is bored with this primitive cacophony of horrors. The thing, the presence
beneath the surface suddenly seems terribly dumb. I mock its stupidity, I pin
clown hats and drop anvils from the sky on the nameless monsters summoned by my
imagination. The thing releases its clutches and retreats, and I burst out
Immediately I am aware that the Voice from before is
laughing with me. It is laughing with approval and it is saying “good job,
that’s how you do it. Look how stupid it is!” I wonder if it is testing me, but
do not pose this as a question. It seems somehow inappropriate, and anyway the
Thing that was trying to pollute my mind seemed like an altogether distinct
I emerge from the ocean with the clear knowledge that I can
go back down there and explore its depths and its depravity at no personal
peril. Finally, I feel like I am ready to ask the Voice the question that it
wants to hear. I ask the Voice if it is mine.
The feeling of forming this thought is successful, somehow,
but it lacks the sense of deductive certainty that accompanied some of my prior
conclusions. The Voice receives the question encouragingly but gives no clear
answer. I am left with the feeling that I am not wrong, and yet I have less
than a fraction of the puzzle. For the first and last time in this experience,
a visual representation of my interlocutor appears to me. It is, without a
doubt, an image of myself. And yet the expression on its face is decidedly not
one that I have ever worn. It bears an animalistic, lupine, predatory aspect.
Its eyes sparkle with a diabolical intellect far beyond any I could ever claim
to posses. The figure is intimidating, maybe even frightful, but not
I become aware at once that I am being shown some metaphor
of monumental significance. I realize immediately that to grasp its
significance is to be enlightened. But I can’t. I am hurled against the wall of
my own limitation and the answer eludes me. The Voice scoffs and mocks my
pretensions. It tells me that I am not ready. The image dissolves and the
I am alone again in the room, and I can feel myself starting
to come down. The last thing that I remember is a mental toy, a weird and
impossibly complex machine bouncing and oscillating in front of me, reminiscent
in some way of the fractal structure I saw when I was peaking. The geometry of
this thing is completely out of wack and it seems totally out of this world,
and yet I am able to manipulate it and its bizarre assortment of parts by
focusing my attention. I cannot figure out what the machine does, or even if it
does anything, but I play around with it until my mind slowly returns to its
normal velocity. The impossible machine fades out of my consciousness and I
realize that I’m back.