Saturday 26th March 2005 Soundtrack Psychedelic Compilation Tape: Plastic Fantastic Lover - Jefferson Airplane Wait Until Tomorrow - Jimi Hendrix Experience Scarlet Begonias - The Grateful Dead She Wandered Through the Garden Fence - Procul Harem Legend of a Mind - The Moody Blues Greatest Story Ever Told - The Grateful Dead (off Steppin' Out.
Saturday 26th March 2005
Psychedelic Compilation Tape:
Plastic Fantastic Lover - Jefferson Airplane
Wait Until Tomorrow - Jimi Hendrix Experience
Scarlet Begonias - The Grateful Dead
She Wandered Through the Garden Fence - Procul Harem
Legend of a Mind - The Moody Blues
Greatest Story Ever Told - The Grateful Dead (off Steppin' Out...)
Peaches en Regalia - Frank Zappa
18th Avenue - Cat Stevens
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
Labio-Dental Fricative - Viv Stanshall
Take a Giant Step - The Monkees
Who Scared You - The Doors
Wasn't Born to Follow (truncated) - The Byrds Space Oddity - David Bowie
1983 - Jimi Hendrix Experience
A Christmas Camel - Procul Harem
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Sugar Magnolia - The Grateful Dead
12:30 - The Mamas and the Papas
Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE - whole album
Here Comes Sunshine - The Grateful Dead (off Dicks Picks Vol 1)
Blues for Allah - The Grateful Dead - Whole album (turned off on title track)
Revolver - The Beatles - following tracks: Taxman
I'm Only Sleeping
She said she said
For No One
Tomorrow Never Knows
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd - whole album
The Beatles (White Album) - All of disc 1
Vespertine - Bjork - whole album
Who is it - Bjork
Having canceling a planned trip two week previously due to insufficient mental preparation and a far too busy karma the previous days we'd had plenty of time to get our moods into the appropriates frames. Upon awakening we were happy that a good night's sleep had been undertaken, our morning moods were healthily apprehensive, but resolute, and the sun was shining. Of all the morning preparations, it was, and recently always is, the walk around the garden, which is the most significant for me, in that I am always drawn to something which visually or metaphorically (or both) influences the trip. We spent a long time wandering around, the glorious bursts of yellow from the wallflowers and daffodils and fresh green of spring a visual treat. However, I found my eyes repeatedly being drawn upwards to the blue sky. I was contemplating the infinite reach of space into the universe, something that had struck me when I had, two weeks previously, gone on the London Eye, overcoming my slight fear of heights. There was a seductive warmth to the concept, which was helping me feel pleasantly clear-headed. This has lead me to feel that more concentration on mentally packing for a journey may be in order for the next trip.
Back inside, after our ritualised meditation and mantra chants, selected crystals in our pockets (mine were for protection on spiritual journeys and converting negative karma into positive) we put the Psychedelic Compilation Tape on and took our usual doses (me 5g, Amy 2g), dried, ground and whisked up in orange juice.
Whilst playing dominoes we sat on the rug idly chatting about all that was about to happen and describing the slight emotional discomfort that began to set in. It hit us both fairly soon, after completing four games of dominos, once our concentration was diverted by the onset of the journey we could play no more and together made a wooden floor type pattern with the domino pieces before sitting back to just enjoy it. It was when Cat Steven's "18th Avenue" started playing that the trip really started to kick in. I was initially worried that it was a bad omen, the song is after all about a 'bad trip', but this was only a minor lapse of unease in a smooth ride into the journey, which through relaxation exercises and deep breathing was entered into with the clearest mind.
Through experience this discomfort (which was the part both of us had the most anxiety/trepidation about beforehand) has become progressively easier to deal with; the breathing, stretching, shaking out the limbs, focusing on the music and reassuring ourselves that this moment will pass brought about the desired results. I made effort to try to keep hold of how these moments felt: It's like time, space and reality are in synch with alternating bursts and slowing down of emotional and physical rushes, these finally breaking into waves that pass through you and all of your surroundings, but it's more that these ripples are in your perception which is also part of the surroundings. Although less visual than previous times this phase was fairly typical, with a light starting to radiate out from inanimate objects like the books on the shelves, a deeper saturation of colour and modulation in the appearance of the surroundings.
After these shifts and phasing in the room, came the familiar successions of deep yawns, an overarching sleepy sensation and need to get comfy. We elected to lie back on the sofa, cuddle and closed our eyes. An intense sensation of emotional warmth 'dawned' on us, a radiantly blissful feeling of welcoming ran through us and the closed-eyed-visuals flowed in.
Mine began with the darkness behind my eyes being filled with opening petals/umbrellas of vivid colour, seeping in and dancing around. After a while I had the sense that some of the shapes (if not all) were those of entities communicating with me, and could fully appreciate how people have had 'alien encounter' experiences whilst tripping (though I didn't and don't view it in quite that manner). These bright images eventually swirled into an organic looking infinite tunnel of magic eye/paisley type patterns, which I felt myself to be tumbling through. Overwhelmed in extremes of feelings of oneness and being part of this I felt the images expand towards, through and into me, so that I was merging, becoming one with it. I was struck with the sense of brushing against the essence/intelligence of the mushrooms and the most over-riding message that both of us were communicating was that we care about the planet.
The compilation tape hit the end of the first side, cutting out halfway through The Byrd's Wasn't Born to Follow and with as much haste as I could manage, in the given state, I proceeded to get up and change the tape over. I had a panicked though that 'I must have music or reality will end'. When I got back to the sofa I looked down at my feet and visually everything was segmenting into tiny blocks, floating and slightly shifting in discord. At about this time the room started to give hints of turning into, what I could only definite later as the incredible melty, aging world of wax, where everything had the appearance of disintegrating (with slight connotations of rotting and crumbling away) or melting like wax.
As Space Oddity started side two of the compilation the CEV's shifted to images connoting rippling water, plant & flower like patterns stretched out over a vast canvas, not unsurprisingly there was also a very space age mood to the cool 'hi-tech' colours. For a moment I had the conceptual idea (maybe even a visual flash) of children holding hands with clichéd alien-like beings. The point in the song "ground control to Major Tom, your circuit's dead, there's something wrong" was particularly pleasing, the drugs connotation of the words amusing me as well as the pleasant progression of the melody. Needless to say all the music by this time sounded beyond crystal clear, as if every pore in our bodies were ears absorbing the complexity of every nuance of each song. The next song was 1983, and for this Hendrix track I was confronted with red kaleidoscopic patterns, which reminded me of lobsters - like the song, this part of the trip was very intense, but beautifully strange, I felt I was certainly heading towards something.
My mind drifted as we let the compilation play on for a while, all I recall was that I felt immensely relaxed.
Knowing there wasn't much left on the tape I suggested putting the SMiLE album on and Amy agreed. When I got up everything around me was starting to become fuzzy, blurry, all looked as if it was disintegrating, melting. After the opening, Heroes and Villains kicked in and was incredibly intense. I don't think it would have mattered too much what music we put on, but next time I think something lighter and mellower is in order.
This was a very abstract, strange emotional part of the trip, I tumbled through experiencing every question, doubt, worry, concern and regret I've ever had (too many things to list really). I had multiple and opposing thoughts. However, throughout it all there was always an emotionally stable core running under it, linked to what I'd been thinking recently about tripping - that the key to navigating is total acceptance of everything that emerges. One train of thought that ran through my head during all this was that for some this point on the ride of a trip can be a stumbling block, to be viewed as a fall from an ecstatic high to a "HP Lovecraft type world of strange looking creatures, that are in fact us" (to quote my thoughts). That we go from the wondrous visions of the union of the universe to the conceptual understanding of everything melting and merging together which is complex and not necessarily, traditionally, aesthetically pleasing.
I also had the thought that if I were tripping, this is the sort of thing that could freak me out, then realised, "hang on, I am tripping". One of my key lessons came during this point, the realisation that surface worries are just that and are not deep-seated emotional problems, which I don't have. My main paranoia before tripping has often been that something unpleasant about myself, deeply buried, hidden within me will be revealed, it was a blessed relief to learn otherwise, and to finally let go of this irrational fear.
Once the emotional turmoil had been resolved I opened my eyes and looking around, chose to, wanted to watch the world turn inside out. Everything was shifting in perspective and proportion, all started overlapping on top of on top of on top of etc everything, but it was too much for my eyes to take, so I had to close them. Behind my eyelids was a swirling tunnel of colours completely off the scale of description. A white dot in the centre got larger and large until it consumed me.....
......and I was out the other side.
As we drifted down from the peak, still lying cuddled on the sofa, I fetched water from the table, but didn't remember putting it back which lead Amy, when asking for more water a little later, to ask "How did the water get back over there?" Amy had a moment of panic, stating "I'm FREAKING OUT!" which I quickly combated by complimenting and telling her that she could deal with this, that it's okay to freak out, why'd you think Zappa's first album is called Freak Out. I remarked that there seemed to be too many pillows and Amy proceeded to tumble down the mountain range they made on the sofa.
Actually speaking coherently was difficult at this point; the typical prouncement "words" to indicate my incapacity for speech and word's uselessness in term of summing up what was going on gave way to more coherent utterance. Although, whilst knelt by the sofa (before returning to where I wanted to be, cuddled up with Amy) I did stumble over my words, saying that language had escaped me, that I'd have to speak to the people who dealt with that, Amy adding that I'd have to have words with them, which made us both crack up. All in all, once I regained the power of language, I must have talked non-stop for the next couple of hours, and when Amy called me on this, I pointed out that words were like worms, that they wriggled and that although silly they were fun to play around with.
We moved to sitting on the rug and I had a slight post peak slump, thinking for a short while that the trip was not as good as the previous time, countering this with telling myself not to compare then realising that the trip had been so much more intense and was in fact the best we'd ever had. As a visual adjunct to this, I saw groups of spinning coloured lights flying around, telling Amy, somewhat jokingly "Hmm, they look a bit cheap, I think I'll complain to those responsible....Only Kidding" ending with mock apologies to the mushroom intelligence, for want of some definition of what/who I was speaking to.
For here on the rest of the trip was buoyed with the comforting feelings of emotions that were like enormous comfy chairs that we joyfully reclined into.
I had changed the music to the live version of Here Comes Sunshine on the Grateful Dead album Dicks Picks 1, I was discussing what other music to put on, strangely I was against having Hendrix, stating "no, I don't want too much Hendrix", perhaps because 1983 had been very intense, Amy was so tripped out she didn't remember who the bands even were saying "who are The Dead?" She did eventually state that we hadn't had any Pink Floyd but when I mentioned titles of the albums she said she didn't know the difference between them, choosing DSOTM, which was a perfect choice for background music - both of us cracking up at the end line "there is no dark side of the moon, in fact it's all dark", due to the regional accent in which it is intoned.
Gabbling on I had what I acknowledge as a Viv Stanshall moment, of enjoying the stream consciousness the conversations were trundling along. I said, "Don't let words make a point just let them wander off of their own accord - that's what life is like". I had a very strong thought, based on an idea for the opening of a story I had previously thought up, that a full stop might look like an ending, but if you look closely it's really an opening. I started to laugh but initially my laughter sounded disturbed, like that of a mental patient, it soon resolved into full blown hysterics and belly laughs. Lot's of silly things occurred; I kept saying "yum, yum, yum" in appreciation of how, well, "yummy" Amy was, and pretended to bite into her and eat her. Amy sat on my lap, she pointed out that our reflections made us look like a totem pole, I started massaging her chest and went into a monologue, rhapsodising about boobies.
Amy seemed far more gone than me, in moments of conceptual alteration, I kept telling her that she was "soooo tripped out", her response "yeah, and you're not" was countered by the fact that rolling about on floor, telling me that she couldn't tell the difference between up or down. She slumped face down on the rug, and I desperately needed to go to loo, but not wanting to leave her there, begged her to move, tugging at her belt. I warned that I'd pee down my leg, to which she replied "Oh go on, (pause) no don't actually".
After going to the loo I opened the curtains and the sparkling, shimmering sun light, beat through the net curtains, the holes in which seemed to break the light into a multiplicity of beautiful shards. When the clouds covered the sun later on I held my hands up and commanded for it to return, and, as if I were controlling the weather, it swiftly did.
I had a wonderful realisation, linked to my previous worry about deep seated problems being revealed to me, that my main concern is that, having been a tremendous one in the past, that I am still a liar, especially to myself. With a significantly forceful vigor I was delighted to assure to myself that I had learnt during the peak that I am not a charlatan, I am a very changed man who is spiritually pointed in the right direction.
Walking out of the bathroom, after going to the loo, Amy's hair rippling with energy, a supernaturally positive karmic glow emanating from her, she looked radiant. I realised the truth of how I perceive her, both viscerally and cerebrally, and told her that she is in my mind the most beautiful woman in the world/that I have ever seen. I however, looking in the bathroom mirror looked exactly like Bill Murray, perhaps due to having acquired my tripping hat (a blue, red and purple striped beanie which Amy knitted last year) by this point, which reminded me of his hat in The Life Aquatic. We both agreed that I needed the hat again to "compensate because Amy's hair is so beautiful". Not sure if it was at this point but whilst having a pee Amy called out to me and asked "Are my socks the same colour" to which I replied "Yes...No...How could they be" going on to explain that as they are totally separate things of course they are different.
Whilst eating an apple in a cup (I deemed this the best container), delicious peanuts and pieces of a lovely sugar-free cake, hearing the crystal clear and wonderful sounds of birds outside the window, I noted that I was still having strong hallucinations, but had to concentrate. I stared at the carpet and swirls and patterns formed. We were about 3/4 of the way into the trip and I was telling Amy to savour what was left of it, pointing out that she should look at the air. I first started looking at the trails of smoke from the burning incense, I had earlier caught my reflection whilst waving a stick from side to side looking a complete idiot but not caring, the streams of smoke hung in beautiful cloud formations. Actually looking at the air in front of me was profound, there were waves and structures visible (I saw such an intricate MC Escher type pattern at one point), and Amy pointed out that of course there were anyway naturally, we just can't usually see them.
Just before the time we finally got ready to go outside, I had been quite insistent that we venture out whilst still (what I called then) "twinkling" but Amy had been too wary for a while, we both saw a bird flying across the ceiling of the living room and out through the window. Still slightly apprehensive at the front door Amy followed me out, both of us with the usual 'my god the world's still here' feelings.
In the garden, despite the lack of sunshine I became totally overwhelmed by the beauty of everything, almost to the point of tears. I enjoyed just sitting and staring at the wallflowers, and, concentrating, I was still able to make everything in shift in 'panels', morph in size and proportion for a while. Watching Amy skit about the garden picking up leaves and looking at the toad spawn and keeping and eye out for the amphibians who have made the pond their home delighted me, looking like an album cover or picture from a 70s children's book. The work we've both done on the pond, and the life now in it, pleased us especially and I pointed out how we're all part of the cycle, and we're (especially Amy) helping the natural life cycles.
Throughout it all the key was the acceptance of whatever was happening, which made the journey so smooth and perhaps the most intense learning experience of all the trips I've had. Letting go of regrets resounded in my thoughts before sleep and in dreams for the following nights, reconciling me with the past and having some objective distance. I also seemed to have been able to fully shrug off the petty paranoias and fears that used to plague me. An invaluable journey.