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1gm of psylocibin
Guidance through music
My last psychedelic experience was almost 30 years ago. It was a strange one. Intense, beautiful at times, mostly terrifying. It led to considerable instability in my mental health for several years afterwards. Ambushed by dark and cold and negative thoughts. Suddenly attuned to the human craving for power and capacity for exploitation. I didn't have the understanding or the self-control to remain detached from these feelings and intuitions. To recognise them as shadow. It was a scary time. I gave up all psycho-actives - no more cannabis; I became quite afraid of psychedelics; I began to rely heavily on alcohol.
But time passed and a decade later, I got back into using marijuana, and another decade after that, I somehow found that I had kicked the booze. Then at some stage over the last few years, I became intrigued with the idea of trying psychedelics again.
I found some liberty caps while out for a walk in the countryside and dried them out. I waited for an evening where I had the house to myself (Sat-29th Oct 2022) and I made tea from the 35 or so of the mushrooms I had gathered. I sat at the table and quickly and unceremoniously drank the tea. 5 minutes later I ate about half of the residue of rehydrated shrooms. And 10 minutes later I ate the rest. I believe this smoothed out any phase transition, though I do remember one particular moment where I felt that sting of the deeper universe, that sense that new patterns were to be found, that old ones could be laid to rest.
I play guitar. I love my guitar. While I waited for the effects of the tea, I spent the time strumming and improvising. I found a simple riff that spoke of home and grounding. The music flowed out into the space of the room and I felt that connection, that circuit of creating and receiving that is goes with the joy of making music. After repeating the riff a few times, it found its way to closure. Often, especially when high on marijuana, I feel an urge to leave my guitar down after a movement finishes in a satisfying way. Things are better now, best leave them that way. And I felt a sense of this as the mushrooms began to take effect. Normally, I would stop at this point. But instead I noticed that my fingers had moved to a higher position on the fretboard and I started again experimenting with a different riff that it happened I'd been playing around with a few days before. Minor chords with a lot more tension; with a lot less resolution. I felt surprised, almost alarmed, at this change from the safety of the fuller root notes. I pushed on. My attention became absorbed in the technique, on the importance of correctness. There was a thrill to it, an edge, an element of risk. I repeated the new riff, but all the while a dull yearning for the wholeness of that first riff stuck with me. Nothing excessively demanding, but just something like a patient waiting. Almost as though I was curious of my own absence from it. I followed through the sequence of the higher chords several times, until they grew less interesting, or until perhaps, I grew less interesting to them. I knew I had to move to something new. A concern grew. I wanted to return to the earlier riff, the home, the harmony, but I knew it was too large of a gap. Something would tear, something would be lost. I remembered a variation of the group of higher chords that fell somewhere closer to those early harmonies. I tried for it. I dropped down the fretboard. Thankfully my fingers supported the idea. Just two/four chords. But they felt like a door opened. I stayed with them for several minutes. Varying the rhythm. Varying the emphasis. Taking the heat out of that second, higher riff. I felt the urge to move again. To release some more of the tension. I touched down to the root notes for the space of one chord - just one strum. They were still there. Still waiting patiently. You can come back, they said. I felt gratitude.
After I left up my guitar, I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich that tasted like a gift of nature. Then I left the house, I had tickets for a gig, I wanted to listen to some music and to be among people. On the walk, the lights were vibrant, but soft. I felt an odd sense of control, of confidence, a lack of fear. I was too early for the gig. I'm always too early. I stood around and read some junk on my phone to help pass the time. People were in Halloween costume. The mood was upbeat, a little cheeky. At times I observed negativities being broadcast by some of the people in the venue. I have a tendency where I sometimes feel it's my duty to take ownership of these kinds of negativity. To offer myself as a target for it. There's some kind of insecure heroic impulse there to assume responsibility. I felt more able to deflect this. Not in an uncaring, uncompassionate way, but just in a more measured way. Some people are like that. There are reasons for these things. Life is messy. Everyone's story is different. There are times when it's important to help, but you can't help everyone all of the time.
The band kicked off, and in no time they found their way to full swing. A bawdy troupe of 8 or 9 citizens. Bellies and beards, guitars and drums, a violin and a mandolin and a sax - rock and folk and ska - a flood of sound. Each tune had a different flavour to it. I found I was moving - my legs were weaving and overall there was an atmosphere of revelry. The night flowed in and through. Towards the end of the set, about 3 hours after taking the shrooms, I felt a noticeable descent. Like a landing. But some time soon after there was an interrupt. I felt an unsettling shot, a flash of the old cold and dark. A cynicism and misery and guilt-will. A condemnation of mine and our enjoyment. Did it come from within me, or was it transmitted from outside me somehow? It's hard to say. Years ago, something like that could have capsized my mood, could have sent me into a spiral of distrust and self-interrogation. But. I have learned to respect power, even when I don't agree with it. I stepped aside and allowed myself to appreciate the understanding that what I was doing was not for everyone. That there are personalities, in my life perhaps, and elsewhere who would actively condemn my choices. And that my potential to change their opinions is negligible at best. I did feel a certain curiosity at the alien of it, but also a recognition of distance. I let it pass. I allowed it to pass by me.
In the few days since, I've found that I'm sleeping more heavily. It takes me longer to get up to speed in the mornings. Meditation helps with this. I find I'm less easily irritated by small things, by behaviours that I might register as microaggressions. I find I'm more interested in people - in understanding what's going on with them. And I feel less anxious that they might be interested in what's going on with me.
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