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One of the most interesting experiences I've ever had was to do with the psychedelic drug 'mescaline'. The first time I tried it, it wasn't my original plan to do so. My good friend DM had just moved into his first apartment. It was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I drove to Hattiesburg with the ingredients to brew 'Ayahuasca'- or at least what was supposed to have been- I had had numerous problems with the website I ordered it from. I also had what was to the best of my knowledge an extract of Calea Zachetechichi- a dream inducing herb- and a bag of Wild Dagga.
D and his twin brother, Sl, another good friend of mine, were not in Hattiesburg when I arrived. They were on their way back from Tampa Bay, Florida, picking up yet another high school friend, B. So B2 met me at Starbucks and led me to D's apartment to wait on them to get back.
While I waited on them I brewed the Ayahuasca tea, which took somewhere around six hours to boil to a drinkable amount. Still, I was terrified to actually drink the sludge that resulted. I hadn't eaten in over a day, knowing that a fast was required before doing Ayahuasca. I smoked a good bit of the Wild Dagga while I waited, too. It seemed to speed my heart rate and make me slightly paranoid.
When D and the rest of the guys finally arrived they also had with them B B, a beautiful girl that had gone to my high school until the 11th grade, when she transferred to the Mississippi School for the Arts. Too afraid to drink the black goo that I had brewed, we just smoked weed the first night there-" Afghan Kush" according to Sl.
The second day B and I went to B B's apartment and picked up a bottle full of mescaline that Sl had paid for.
B, D and I all took a mescaline tablet that night, while I just let the Ayahuasca sit in the fridge and Sl and Sa (his girlfriend) restricted themselves to marijuana. We all smoked more of the marijuana while we waited the eternity for the mescaline to take effect. I had had one burger in the past 48 hours so my body was practically empty, which I believe contributed to the intensity of the experience that followed.
Around four hours after we had taken the tablets we all started feeling the effects of the mescaline. I began smoking the Calea Zachetechichi with marijuana once the mescaline started affecting me. While I don't recall precisely the first thing that I noticed, the next twelve hours were nothing short of incredible.
My body began to react first: my limbs tingled and I felt weightless. Of course the marijuana had to have added to these feelings of ecstasy running through my body, but this was quite different. I didn't feel sluggish at all- just blissfully calm. From what I have read about MDMA, the feeling sounded most similar to it as compared to other substances. I did not feel at all impaired, and ordinarily mundane tactile perceptions became entirely interesting and enjoyable; everything I touched took on a new and intriguing texture, sparking curiosity and wonder.
Not long after the body effects set in my thought pattern and disposition began to alter also. This too was very similar to that of MDMA; everything around me felt almost as though an extension of myself, and myself an extension of everything around me. Feelings of awe, empathy, connection and new understanding overtook me with everything I perceived.
Still though, I had not yet experienced any sort of thing I could have called "tripping". So, I went away from the rest of the people there (D, B, Sl, and Sa) into the back bedroom to try to meditate and think until the psychedelic aspect of the drug began to take effect; I hoped this would maybe help speed up the process- and I believe it did to an extent.
I lied down on the mattress, which felt more like a warm, comfortably stable ocean than a mattress, and watched the ceiling fan through barely open eyes as I counted deep, slow breaths. That's when I began to notice the ceiling, along with the ceiling fan, slowly descending three to four feet then ascending back to its original position.
Around the same time Sa came to the room to make sure I was doing okay. She asked me what I was doing and I explained to her basically the same thing I just wrote. She (as she always does) seemed really interested in what I had to say. I went with her back to the living area in the front to rejoin the rest of the people.
While B seemed much calmer than usual, only speaking when spoken to, sitting on the couch with a dreamily content demeanor, D had reached the point of "tripping balls". We all listened intently as he told us about all the fantastical visions he was having: the antique charcoal sketches that had belonged to his late mother came to life, animated and three dimensional, but remaining in their frames; "little men" would occasionally walk through the living room then disappear from sight.
I had begun seeing more general, broader visions such as the walls appearing to quiver and vibrant halos surrounding people and furniture, but nothing I couldn't write off as a trick of the light.
I can't remember the exact thing that sparked the idea, but I believe it was the all around fascination with the dilation of D's pupils that led us to go to the bathroom to look in the mirror. This was when I first noticed unquestionable psychedelic imagery.
As D and I stood looking into the mirror we both became completely transfixed with the utterly bizarre tone this simple activity took on. At first I noticed a very bright, sparkling halo surrounding my face; this fascinated me for some time. The longer I stared the more I began noticing my face morphing into slightly different shapes and sizes- nothing too dramatic, but only subtle, interesting changes that made my mirror image look more like some unknown, distant cousin than myself. At times I would come to look more similar to some sort of man that had evolved more from a tiger than the primates. My skin had an orange tinge and my lips and cheeks looked swollen to favor that of a cat's. This theme of the tiger continued to recur.
The most intriguing part of my adventure into the mirror actually wasn%u2019t a visual shift, but more of an overall shift in perspective. It began to seem more and more to me, and to D, that the image in the mirror wasn't so much a reflection of myself, but a puppet of my body that I was omnipotently looking in on, controlling with my thoughts. I had no soul. I was a soul. I had a body.
All the while, I was aware that this was all an illusion and was able to soberly examine these phenomena; the word "amazement" comes short of describing the intense fascination brought on by these brand new perceptions.
We went back to the living room and relaxed for a spell, just enjoying these new feelings of insight and awe. I watched in ecstasy as the walls took on the consistency of play-dough and became a play-dough like yellow color. When I would look at one of my friends they sometimes took on cat-like characteristics- seeming to have whiskers and round, puffy cheeks and lips and the light orange tint of a tiger- just as I had earlier appeared to myself in the mirror.
I continued to just relax on the arm of the couch when Sloan, standing in front of me to my left, started smiling at me. I smiled back as Sl's appearance became more and more like that of a baby: his eyes became large and round and his head grew out of proportion with his body. I was just beginning to laugh at this as Sloan jerked his head towards me and configured his face to what I guess was what he believed to be his most serious and menacing. While in a sober mind I would have thought this juvenile, his attempt to scare me more than succeeded in my altered state. This was the point at which the anxiety first set in.
Sl's face had gone from comical and baby-like to grotesque and horrifying instantly. I was genuinely terrified; and before I could collect myself had jumped from the couch and ran down the hall to the bedroom, screaming "FUCK!" along the way. Once I made it to the bedroom I collected myself and was embarrassed at what I had just done. Nonetheless I wanted to stay in the bedroom a little while to calm down.
After I felt that I had sufficiently calmed down I went back to the living room and explained what had happened. They seemed to be understanding. At that time Sarah and Sloan went outside to smoke in the fresh air. In the mean time D and I sat across from each other not saying much. Neither of us can remember any details of what we were doing, aside from sitting across from each other, staring at either each other or something else- we can't be sure. Neither of us spoke, not knowing what the other was thinking, feeling, or seeing. But, as we were soon to find out, we were both entranced by something- what something we never found out- but something we felt sure was outside of anything that could be written off as a direct effect of the mescaline. This sensation, however, is of course one of the reported effects of these types of drugs.
It was when Sl and Sa reentered the apartment that the still silence was broken and D and I simultaneously snapped out of whatever trance we had entered and looked at each other, asking at the same moment, "What%u2026 was that?"
Awestruck at whatever it was, and convinced that IT was something, something that we both experienced individually, yet, somehow together, we began to try to explain the happening to Sa and Sl. Seeing as how the event was so out of the ordinary, even out of the scope of spoken language, our explanations were not in the least descriptive. For whatever reason though, both Sa and Sl agreed that the room had taken on an eerie feel. B, who had sat silently to the side the whole time, also agreed that whatever it was he had also experienced it.
Of course, being a naturalist, I consider all of it to have been an effect of the mescaline- albeit a very strange, very intense effect.
Feeling that something strange and uncomfortable was pervading the room we all stepped outside onto the balcony to get some fresh air. It wasn't long after we went outside, however, that I began to feel uncomfortable out there too. I began to see things like blinds moving and shadows creeping about. I also thought I saw something similar to a tiger (again with the tiger%u2026) prowling along the roof of another apartment. I grew increasingly anxious at all of this and went back inside hoping to sleep it off. As I entered the hallway towards the bedroom I heard and felt the change in my pocket buzzing and vibrating very intensely. The change had become a small swarm of bees, frustrated with being trapped in my pocket, trying to sting me. Panicking, I grabbed everything in my pocket very tightly and jerked it out, still clenching it in my fist. The contents of my pocket continued to vibrate violently, at which I began to scream and finally threw it all to the floor.
Horrified by how incredibly realistic what had just happened was, and by the event itself, I just stood there staring at my friends, near trembling. Stuttering, I hurriedly explained what had come over me and retreated to the dark bedroom, wanting sleep more than anything.
When I would close my eyes the effects were different from time to time; sometimes I would think I was finally drifting off to sleep when brilliant colors and patterns would erupt behind my eyes, injecting me with wakefulness. This happened more at the beginning. After an hour or so of trying to fall asleep the auditory hallucinations began. It seemed as though my mind had started battling itself, me on both sides, arguing for and against my permanent sanity. Whenever a sober evaluation of this internal dialogue would creep in, the side arguing against my sanity would take a large advantage. This gradually led into true auditory hallucinations, wherein I would have to sit up and look around to see if other people really were present. I heard (in my ears, not deep within my mind) dozens, then hundreds of different voices whispering, some louder than others, "He's insane." "He's insane." "He's insane." thousands of times over.
I don't recall when all of this finally came to an end, or if I ever did fall asleep that night. But, I do remember looking at my cell phone when the sun had come up and seeing the brightly lit background photo on it as a three dimensional, beautifully detailed array of color.
The next day, after the mescaline state had ended, all I could feel was anxiety and excitement. I was dumbfounded, simply blown away by the overwhelming power that little capsule had held inside it. I drove home as soon as I could say my goodbyes, weary for the comforts of home and desperate for the mundane.
The anxiety passed within a day or so. That first mescaline trip was undoubtedly the most intense experience I had ever gone through. I did mescaline once more, not too long afterwards, when D made his way to my home town. The second trip was much more comfortable, easy, and enjoyable.
In a way, that first, horrifying trip was more insightful, giving me much more respect for the power of these kinds of substances, leading me to be much more calculated in my approach to mind-altering substances as a whole.