Note: My partner's name is Carina. Because we cannot travel to other places in the world during the pandemic, we chose to travel in a different way, in our own backyard, yesterday. This is a report written of the experience this morning, while it was still fresh and afterglowing in my mind.
After much postponement and preparation, Carina and I decided upon Friday, May 1st as our day to ingest psilocybin. The forecast looked like clouds leading to clear skies in the evening with occasional sun throughout. We laid a rug and blankets out on the grass with snacks and colored pencils close by. I cut up 3.5-4 grams (7 caps, 7 stems) while Carina cut up 2-2.5 grams (4 caps, 7 stems). Once a coarse powder, we set them in the strainers of our tea pots, poured hot water over them, and closed the lids. A 30-minute steep, just to be thorough. Meanwhile, Carina had been mincing ginger root and setting it to a long boil so that we would have reduced ginger brew with honey as a chaser. We set our yoga mats on the back porch with little relics and sage. We were ready.
We sat facing each other, cross-legged, with the tea pots resting between us. We poured ourselves a cup, cocked it back and chased with ginger brew. Poured another, and chased. Then I took a large spoonful of the dun mushrooms and swallowed it, chasing with more ginger. We then waited for 30 minutes. I began feeling a creep almost immediately but did not identify it as seperate from endogenous excitement. 20 minutes in, it had a distinctly “other-excitement” feeling to it and I knew it was taking hold. 30 minutes in and I described to Carina a feeling of, “someone slowly turning a crank to load the springs”.
At 30 minutes, I had the last of my pot. My body now able to know what was coming, gave a little revolt yet allowed the tea to sink down my throat. I then suggested to Carina that we move to the blankets and pillows in the grass before it got to be too strong. At this point I could tell that Carina was indeed feeling the effects take hold as well.
At about the hour mark, laying there on our backs, the anxiety was at its peak. I was beginning to feel true pressure in my temples and Carina was getting heavy waves of nausea. I assured her that the nausea was part of the experience and that it was good. However, I felt my ability to communicate receding as my faculties for perception were becoming heightened. The sky was a mixture of cumulus clouds, wisps and blue skies, with intermittent beams of heavy, hot sun.
When the sun bathed us, it was almost a fearful bliss. Such heat could not be truly coming to us on this supposedly fair day. I closed my eyes. Emerging from the salmon and pink of my inner-eyelids, were, at-first elusive, but later apparent, geometric shapes, cycling kaleidoscopic ROYGBIV. As best I can recall, the shapes most apparent were elongated hexagons, primarily saturated in the aforementioned salmons and pinks of my eyelids but when I brought my attention to the color values of what I was perceiving, the secondary colors would take over as primary colors. Plums and buttercup-yellows. One aspect of my closed-eye visuals that did remain consistent was at the fringes of perceived shapes; like a 3-bar venn diagram, primary-colored ribbons encased and expanded each object. I began to feel a profound curiosity for what I was seeing that persists even now in the retelling. Opening my eyes was sobering. Closing my eyes was hypnotizing, intoxicating.
Carina had transformed before my eyes. All I can say was it was not an external change except for a few features. Her usual semblance was the same, except her cheeks were impossibly flushed and vivid and it looked as though her child-like soul was pouring heedlessly from her eyes. She was mesmerizing to behold. Squirming and giggling was met with intensely silent stares, followed by more giggling and squirming. I tried to assure her that everything was ok but my words took on a different tone to my ears. My voice felt like another man’s voice, slightly insincere. I tried to suggest she lay down and remain still but stillness did not fit the journey she was now on. She kept popping up to look around while I felt deeply centered laying flat on my back. I closed my eyes again.
The geometric shapes returned but this time, like a camera slowly zooming out, it was revealed to me that the hexagons made up the backside of a semi-translucent dragonfly that zipped away from view. It was not an object on its own, however. My visuals began as hints towards objects, but they were not independent, or in-and-of-themselves, hallucinations. It was not until the initial geometric hints were met with my feeble intellect that the object was brought into fruition. Even then, it was not Object; it was thought-object.
Although, these geometric hints did feel powerfully parental. It was as though their designer could anticipate my intellect’s eventual participations. I would describe every hallucination as more of a collaborative effort between my mind and the psilocybin than a self-evident event. Like a sherpa leading me up the mountain, the mushrooms were conjuring the route and I was actively taking the steps. However, it was as though the sherpa knew I would follow in just the way I did. I saw a dragonfly, I said to Carina. I asked her if she saw shapes in her closed eyes. She did. This was about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Proceeding this phase, the chronology of things is too difficult to recall with steady accuracy. I do remember that I was capable of open-eyed visuals at the point. I would set my attention to the waxy reflection of the leaves of the persimmon tree, but with a subtler attention to the limbs behind the leaves. I would breath deeply and the breeze would filter through the tree with such intent that Carina and I both remarked how the leaves were dancing; that the tree’s vitality was starkly obvious. It was as though the plants were elders on the outside of a bonfire, quietly laughing at us children chasing each other around the fire. I felt as though there was an acknowledgement, a nod so to speak, between the trees, the wind, even the clouds (but less so)...a nod between entities of nature and the mushrooms. The trees were not so much communicating to me but communicating to what was inside of me and I was the go-between, of less importance. My consciousness-faculties were the host by which enhanced communion could be achieved between mushroom and nature. I was a mere witness, but not unimportant or unloved. My ego seemed to be slipping. I closed my eyes again.
The salmons and pinks slithered into a thick, desert snake. Each time I breathed, I saw the interior of the snake’s boneless skeleton breath, like a massive tunnel made of batwings.
I felt an incredible feeling of capacity; that if I were to remain still, with my eyes closed and every muscle relaxed, I could travel somewhere else through the geometric mesh that had now become familiar and safe.
I opened my eyes and the sobering effect occurred but with less efficacy. She talked of how she was protecting me from the dark clouds, that she had become the fleet of clouds moving from the north and she was going to push away to keep me in the sunlight. She was confused though. Was it the ambient music we played that brought the dark clouds? Or was she bringing the darkness? She was unsettled and I held her and comforted her but this was a very hard time for my sweet and I was a silent man with old hands. She was a sprite, a nymph; her child-like spirit burst forth as though she had never opened her eyes before. Our energies felt yin and yang but linked in an opposite symmetry.
Once Carina took my full attention, I found my self-image morphing in my minds eye, as well as my connection to Carina. I saw her in a thick, white and blue shawl. She sat on the back of my ox as we climbed a snowy slope. The frigid wind violently batted our 3-foot long hair. We were Mongolian nomads. But then I saw her as a leader of women; a wise woman; a curator of feminine power and youthful girls, indigenious to prairielands. A falcon sat atop her shoulder. I saw her in the desert, squatting by a fire, working with her hands on something that would aid me in battle, and I was down a ways, near a dried up creek, descending a sage-freckled desert slope, looking up at an odd angle, at the sky? No. Those men were not me, and those women were not Carina.
Or were they?
In my mind’s eye, I came face to face with the man in the desert. He saw me through a portal in the sky and I looked down to see him. We were both aware of each other but more curious about who was orchestrating this interfacing. We both had an awareness that there was something that linked one another but that we were different, and most notably, that there was a transfering taking place from me to him, him to me. While I was being injected with the soul-qualities of this man (stoicism, strength, plainness, warriorism), he was being given knowledge of future events, of the persimmon tree, the sound of cars driving by, of kids laughing, of mowers droning. But it seemed like even something deeper was being transferred for a wholly unrelated purpose and both he and I were merely conduits for that purpose. A time-independent upload and download for a third-party.
I came away from this feeling as though I had seen who I can become if I slough off the conditioning of modern life. I also came away feeling profoundly connected in time with Carina. She and I on this blanket were only the latest iteration of our bond. The mongolians, the praire-natives, the desert indians were other iterations. Past lives. Now, when I looked at my lover, it was as though I was able to love her with the caress of time. That time itself validated our union. We were woven into the fabric of history. Just as the fringes of thought-objects were made fuzzy by primary colors, it felt as though our meetings and our eventual departures from one another were illusions of the ego; that we have always been together. Purpose is a circle, I said.
Gratefully Carina, had moved passed her nausea, which she said had the effect of browning everything she viewed. She was in a better place now, but when she was in it, she said it felt as though a snake was coming up her chest and that the leaves would dry and curl and begin to die off and the clouds would darken, but if I smiled, or spoke, or the music changed, the sun would come out. She said my smile was the sun and the tips of my hair would light up.
In her better place, Carina dropped in to a wonderfully verbal eloquence. She spoke of Georgia O’Keefe. How, in the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago, there was a distinctly different affect that O'Keefe paintings had on space. She said that perhaps many museum goers didn’t even recognize O’Keefe because the paintings bestowed such a silence to the space that they acted very much not like paintings but like quiet observers over space and people. Such a quintessentially strong feminine quality of soft but sure colors. I said, my hands are shaking.
She said she liked that my hands shake because I am a mountain. I am so strong. Endlessly strong. But that my hands shake. And it is her role to hold my hands when they shake. Not to stop them from shaking, but to hold them so that no one can see them shake. In fact, her role is to hold my hand so that I can shake and be weak as much as I need, but that I will feel safe because no one will be able to see it.
I am your Iliad, Carina said (we later found out she meant that she was my ilium; the wing shaped bone of the hip. But it turns out Ilium is another word for the city of Troy in Homer’s The Iliad, another reference to wars and battles). I am your Iliad, I am here to cup you, so that you can curl in to the shape of me, like the hip bone. I will protect you. You are strong. You are a warrior. I see you as a great warrior but I will protect my great warrior because I am your Iliad.
I felt an echo of us in ancient Greece and Rome but it was not fully formed.
We lay there for some time, queen and king, completely at peace. The rain came and went and we were ok with it. We laughed that some go sun-bathing but that we go rain-bathing.
Eventually I decided to act. I gathered all belongings and returned them to the back porch. I came back to my queen and a time later, we brought our bodies up to the back porch.
Blue corn chips, plantain chips, southwestern foods resonated with us.
We were back in our bodies and in our words. The most intense parts of the trip were over but the sparkles were still intense. Carina looked (and still looks) transformed. At one point she said, it turns out my inner child is actually an inner child.
She also said, laugher keeps me afloat.
I said, even if you stop laughing, you will not sink.
That made her try to reword what she meant. She said that laughter is the releasing process. Laughter lights up neural pathways that allow for all the gunk to move out. She had made me laugh so hard with her quick observations and psychedelic reelings and I agreed that not only had she broken through much of what blocked her at the beginning of the trip, but that she had facilitated the same in me by making me laugh.
My jaw and forehead are sore from laughter.
It was a wonderful dance of lightness and depth for me. For Carina, it was pure lightness after moments of paranoia and confusion. She had come in to her Self. She was resonating. She looked more beautiful to me than ever before, and though the absurd vividness has receded some, she still looks measurably enhanced from the experience. I cannot wait to see how we move forward with this.
Upon returning inside, I realized just how ravenous I was. I had not eaten much at all and so I set to gorging on corn chips, salami, sourdough-tomato-basil-olive-oil sandwiches that Carina made for me, I at energy balls, crackers, cheese, and then doubled back for more and more until my stomach was round with feast. It felt as though I had returned from a great battle and was eating not only for myself but for my past selves. Lastly, at one point I found myself telling Carina that, while I adored her body and her mind, those were only secondary adorations. It was a crystal of light that I loved. A crystal of light in the middle of her mind that generated my love. The light was pure and even at the occurrence of darkness, the crystal drank in such darkness as nourishment for more light. It optimized all misery into joy and all joy into more joy. This was her essence. It was the reason why I loved her, or why, beyond my own faculties for choice, I was continually brought back into communion with her. When the crystal would send out ripples of energy through her mind and body, the ripples would translate in to thoughts and actions. Of course my body and mind responded to these things with love, but this was not even close to the whole story.
There is a different kind of love that does not fluctuate or change with time. A kind of soul-light that bonds us, mountain and iliad ever-back together. I was engaged to a warrior queen. A leader. A healer. A shaper of feminine power. My protector. My source of strength and the sole reason for fighting.
She is both my sword and my shield. And yet, she is the pacifism of joy and wonder. Pure sunlight and laughter, and if there was a battle being fought, it was already won, long ago.