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"Come gather 'round me, you little monkeys, there's a story I'll tell.

"Come gather 'round me, you little monkeys, there's a story I'll tell...about a brave young primate, outer space knew him well..."

This Level 3 Trip Report describes the freakiest natural light show I have ever seen. I've watched the Aurora Borealis at different levels of intensity on several occasions, but never while on mushrooms (it's in the cards, though!). Granted, a good display of Northern Lights on shrooms may very well outdo what I'm about to describe in terms of sheer trippyness...but, up to now, this particular time holds the top spot on my personal list.

On a brisk October day a few years back, my older brother Bill and I decided to take a little camping trip (nudge, nudge). The moon was coming around to full that weekend, and the weather forecast predicted varying clouds overnight, but little chance of rain. That afternoon, we drove down a long, narrow road through the woods. We travelled up a sloping grade and topped a rise, and arrived in a wide-open, grassy clearing, nice and far away from town, lights and noise of any kind. After we had set up camp and gotten a nice fire going, we relaxed in our reclining lounge chairs, drank a few beers, and waited for night to fall. After awhile, during purple twilight, a big yellow moon began to rise above the treetops on the opposite side of the clearing. The minute it began to peek through the treeline, we broke out the Liberty Caps and, if I recall correctly, ate about two grams each (leaving more in the bag for later, if needed).

We sat for awhile, listening to the crackle of the campfire, cold beer at hand, enjoying the darkness of the woods. Gradually, the moon climbed higher in the sky, not yellow any longer but shining white, hanging there in the sky like an ornament. The night was cold, but very still and bright. In retrospect, it seems almost green-tinted; our shadows were sharp and black on the ground from the glow. I re-arranged my seat so I was facing it, and felt the first familiar stirrings of the psilocybin beginning to cycle up. Some interesting cirrus-style clouds had begun to drift in from behind us on the left. I looked around and noticed an airplane (smaller craft from the airport in town) approaching from the right, leaving behind it a puffy-grey exhaust track. We sat watching it with anticipation as it made its way toward the moon's edge. Would it pass above or below? Or, if we got really lucky, right across the surface? Hell, it might even go behind! The plane actually cruised slowly past the bottom, and we laughed at our groovy good fortune. Bill made me laugh by saying, "Get the cell phone out of the truck and order us up another plane, pronto." We got our wish shortly after...about twenty minutes later, another plane was leaving its trail right below the moon, just like the last one. Through binoculars, we were treated to an amazingly detailed view of the exhaust trails, suspended there, just sort of...floating in time. It was very cool. They were illuminated by the moonlight directly beyond them, and small, wispy plumes of vapor would slowly rise from them as they broke up in the calm sky, and gradually dissipated into the atmosphere. A number of planes flew by that night, necessitating a look through the binoculars each time. Half-drunk and having fun, we'd hoot and yell, wanting them to pass right in front of (or crash right into!) that Big Pizza Pie. We even made a bet or two. And not long after, we noticed two things: that the mushrooms we had ingested were beginning to take effect in a more visual way, and that a large white halo was beginning to appear around the moon.

I couldn't remember ever seeing this phenomenon before, but it's actually a fairly common occurrence (Bill, on the other hand, was like "Cool, a moon ring"). A lunar halo can appear when high, thin clouds containing millions of tiny ice crystals cover much of the sky. Each ice crystal acts like a miniature lens. Because most of the crystals have a similar elongated hexagonal shape, light entering one crystal face and exiting through the opposing face refracts 22 degrees, which corresponds to the radius of the halo. To our great advantage that night, this particular ring was increasing in clarity and brightness as the moon floated higher into the sky - and as we floated higher in our seats.

More odd-looking clouds were drifting in from behind us on the right and the left...they now looked like scales on the sides of huge headless fish, cruising through the sky like airships. The halo became steadily brighter. The campfire was doing some funky things as well, as my thoughts and visual conceptions were definitely taking on a giddy, heart-pumping bend. The clearing was intensely bright; it was like wearing night vision goggles. I could see far down the road where we drove in. I could see into the trees, the entire shape of the area, the grade of the land, everything. To intensify this, Bill produced the "shroom bag," and we ate more. After a little while, we sat still and let the sensations do their thing. With my chair reclined, I began to stare intently at the moon in the center of the ring. After a bit more time went by (who can ever say how much), and with this new dosage on top of the first one, the entire halo began to take on the appearance of one massive circular object. The outer edge of it was sharp and well-defined, a huge, brilliant disc hung against the backdrop of the black sky. With Bill temporarily forgotten (he was actually in his chair about ten feet away, on the other side of the campfire, but off on his own wacky trip altogether), and with no stars inside the ring to spoil the illusion, it of course began to look like the underside of an alien spacecraft, ethereal, hovering perhaps a hundred feet overhead. I could almost make out the convex surface of it through the blazing light. (Are you familiar with the visualizations for Windows Media Player? I'm reminded of this particular trip every time I see "Ambience: Bubble.") It now seemed to me that the bright core in the center was no longer the moon, but a hole emitting a dazzling white radiance...an entrance located on the bottom of that thing. A hatchway. The portal by which someone could conceivably board the vessel...if they were ever fortunate enough to encounter it. I began to entertain thoughts of being "beamed up." Of who or what I might encounter inside it when I got there. I let my mind ponder the general possibility of extraterrestrial life, of contact, and of the sheer size of space...concepts that are ceaselessly amazing to me even when I'm not riding the waves of some mind-warping psychedelic! It's weird to describe it now, so long after the fact...but it definitely felt palpable that night, and I savored the feeling, and went with it: Sitting in a white plastic chair in the woods, cranked up on shrooms, with that strange and beautiful pulsating disc in the sky filling up my field of vision.

Bill appeared beside my chair again, and we marvelled at the luminescent object floating before us. I remember mumbling, in my whacked-out, half-drunken state, "It's like some all-encompassing orb," to which Bill replied in a loud voice, "You mean ya only got the one?!" This caused "the giggle valve" to open up and start seeping gas like crazy, and the gut-wrenching laffs soon set in (you know how it is). The rest of the night went on from there, and was a real hoot. The clearing remained bathed in that freeky moonlight for the rest of the night, but eventually the shroom buzz took a back seat to some heavy beer consumption, and we passed out.

We did some bird hunting the next day, and the next night the moon rose over the trees again, slightly less full than before. The halo was there, but it was very faint. It was actually comforting to see some evidence of it, as the previous night was the first time I'd ever seen (and almost been abducted by) one of 'em!

You've heard of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens on camping trips? I like to think they simply took the same sort of trip that I did, in one form or another, but found themselves far past Level 3...lost, wandering in the otherworldly dreamscapes of Level 5...

And beyond...

- Wicky


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