My first experience with the Mushroom. Along with two friends of mine, (both first-timers) I backpacked two days into a coastal wilderness area we had never been to before. Beach hiking on a black sand beach under sunny skies was a treat those first two days. We felt lucky to be travelling under such nice conditions since it was quite early in the season and rain was a likely event. On the evening of the second day we set up camp by a river, pitching our tent on the sand back by the green edge of the lush forest. The plan was to dose the next morning. We did not discuss the upcoming experience much but our fire-lit faces betrayed flickers of anticipation. My expectations coming to this point were unambiguously positive. I had much history with marijuana (which I have a peculiar sensitivity to) and had patiently prepared myself for an eventual encounter with mushrooms. In hindsight, I see two misconceptions I took into the trip with me. First, I think there is a general opinion that, in the spectrum of common entheogens, mushrooms fall immediately above marijuana. Having not heard any detailed account of the possible range of effects, I carried the notion in my head that I was in for something only slightly more intense than a very strong marijuana high. The second fallacy I brought with me was that pot would only make a mushroom trip come on quicker. I wasn't aware of the possibility of a synergistic effect. When we awoke at sunrise on the third day to dark gray skies, drizzling rain and cold wind, I should have perhaps treated it as an omen for the trip ahead.
We ate a small breakfast of granola and soy milk then huddled beneath a small driftwood shelter. Each of us ingested 3.5 grams of psilocybe cubensis, commenting on the extremely foul taste. We cleaned our camp up then waited for the effects to make themselves known. I split from my friends who wanted to go out near the ocean. The rain had increased to a light shower and I retreated a little ways under the shelter of the trees. I was aware of a stony effect and heightened interest in the lovely greenery around me. I bent down close to a small patch of tiny plants, moss and ferns. As I came down into this miniature scene, the delicate lifeforms seemed to swell into grand and beautiful versions of themselves. There seemed to be an entire world happening down in the bushes. I began to hear a strange music coming from, it seemed to me, the tiny plant system and my immediate surroundings. The sound of the rain dripping and circulating through the green botanical city made an almost digital-sounding high pitched oscillation. To my ears came plant music, oddly electronic. The scene took on a strange, futuristic light, as if I was looking at a small hydroponic grow-tank with artificial light shining from above and the sound of computerized sprayers hissing in the background. The plants themselves seemed half-artificial: genetically designed experiments or even computer-generated images. This imagery brought with it some cognitive development along a similar theme of artificial reality. The mushrooms seemed to slightly distance my awareness from my sensory perception and I began to think of reality as a fearfully complex game of virtual reality. Each plant seemed merely to be the physical expression of the algorithm for a plant. Every aspect of reality was simply programmed to look and behave with certain properties, just as a programmer would code a 3D world with plants, trees, running water, etc. The intention of an ideal virtual reality is to be absolutely convincing; and it obviously was. But things looked the same as they always had; these were internal ponderings rather than experiential awakenings. I was pulled out of this mind trip however, approximately an hour after dosing, due to the now severe case of nausea that had been creeping up since the beginning. The acute sensation brought me into a darker, grouchy emotional state as I stalked through the forest looking for a place to throw up. I had stamped about for about ten minutes wondering what to do when my friends appeared on the look out for me. They were also experiencing nausea and suggested we go smoke some pot to kill the feeling. It sounded like the best idea to me.
We smoked a bowl under the shelter and that is when time, space and my mind joined hands for a final ring-around-the-rosie. My friends walked off to explore while I stared out at black sky, black rain, black sand, pounding black ocean. The digital water music I heard before exploded into a thunderous techno of crashing bass waves and a million glassy raindrop tones. I was cold and wet and decided outdoors in a downpour was the last place I wanted to be. I headed for the small three-man tent, pulled my shoes and jacket off at the entrance and crawled into the bright, cocoon-like interior. "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down," and I landed hard. For the next few hours, two fundamental mindsets fought for control of my consciousness. The first mindset was my ego-sense: the opinion that I was a human named Josh with some 20 years worth of memories who had consumed a psychedelic substance and was experiencing a corresponding trip. That part of my mind suffered a terrifying emotional roller coaster in the tent, beating myself up for being so stupid as to ingest a substance I was not, it seemed, the least bit prepared for. The effects at this point were more intense than I could have possibly imagined. I rolled around in my sleeping bag alternating between hysteria and tears. I saw the red-edged tent door flapping in the wind and thought it was the blood-soaked image of a demon tormenting me. The cause of all this suffering was the emergence of another fundamental mindset.
To the frightened Homo sapien in the tent, it was total reality loss. Very simply, I became aware that the universe is a dream, infinitely long, endlessly varied and eternally cycling. This awareness came in the form of anamnesia, that is a re-remembering of what was once forgotten. I "remembered" the true nature of reality and time with absolute certainty. I remembered the last time I had been on this beach in this tent scared shitless. I remembered it from the previous rotation on the wheel of time. Consciousness and reality merged into what amounted to a pure and continuous déja vu. My terrified ego desperately relived memories of my life and recent past as evidence of their existence but all these images were fading invisibly away as dream memories soon do upon awakening. Alone in the tent, solipsism (the belief that only the self creates reality) reined supreme. I stared at the brand names of my shoes and sandals, baffled that I could come up with such realistic names. In a very real sense, I realized *I* was the cosmic programmer who had carefully designed and created a totally convincing experience made of props (trees, animals, buildings), characters (family, friends, lovers), and a plotline (joys, sorrows, etc.) Up to this point, the current episode of the cosmic life-game had been sort of a coming-of-age number maybe transitioning into a love story. I was the writer, the director, the star, the audience. Of course, in order to be really interesting, the last step in the setting in motion of this vast, cosmic drama was the removal of my memory of having created it. (A dream is, obviously, the perfect model for what I am describing.) As I figured it, the mushroom was merely a unique key planted in reality as a mechanism for waking up from the dream. In my current state, I was out of time, in a singularity of sorts, where I could see the universe for what is truly was.
One of my friends returned, soaked to the skin through his entirely waterproof outfit. He joined me in the tent and I puzzled over who this person really was. I didn't know if we were sharing the experience and he had discovered the same ultimate truth that I had, or if he was part of the dream. After acting distant and being rather incommunicative, I finally started a conversation that seemed to perfectly justify the first possibility. It seemed that everything my friend said was confirmation that he had had the same awakening. The same singularity that made my solitary hours seem like an infinitely repeating nightmare, now made our conversation go in loops. The same five minute period of time seemed to loop over and over again as we made identical comments and identical gestures. Again, déja vu.
Eventually my other friend returned to the tent after running all over the area. It was about four or five hours after we had dosed and we were all coming down. At some point I had reconnected with consensus reality and was left only with a great relief that I was back. We smoked some more bud and it only relaxed me further. I don't think I discussed the intensity of my trip until some days later. We waited out the downpour and came out to clearing skies that evening. I felt very refreshed and peaceful after such a tumultuous day. We hiked all the way back the next day.
While under the influence of the mushrooms I swore that I would never touch them again. Afterwards, having returned to my previous state, I questioned the experience critically. My main obstacle was in discarding my two misconceptions about mushrooms. In comparing my trip with those of my friends and everyone else I've talked to, my experience was unique and infinitely more intense. At that time, I couldn't reconcile what happened to me with what "should" have happened. Through experimentation in later trips, I've determined that it is the mixing of marijuana and mushrooms that produces this mind-blowing trip. Due to my abnormal sensitivity to pot, psilocybin actually activates the *marijuana*. Since that first shroom, I've recontacted that singularity from just pot alone. Without any bud, I have the standard shroom trip. Beautiful, inspiring, unambiguously positive. I wonder if I'll ever have the courage to intentionally mix psilocybin and THC to have that intense trip again. Even though it was a terrifying experience of ego-death, it has been a fundamental force in my life and spiritual thought processes. In the terms of William James, this experience continues to be absolutely authoritative over me. That is, even after returning to ordinary reality, I know that what I experienced was true and is still in effect at this moment. I know I will inevitably find myself back there again on the beach as time plays ring-around-the-rosie into the infinite future.