Tag: entheogens

The other side

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Art of Alex Grey.

(I have mentioned my history with entheogens before, primarily on my previous website, the now-defunct Zapata Tales. A time or two since, readers have asked for details, most recently this week, so here they are. By the way, I don’t do this anymore because there is no need.)

* * * *

I WAS REARED an agnostic. My parents never went to church and never mentioned religion at home.

And I remained an agnostic till January 19, 1997. That was when I first ingested entheogens, first psilocybin mushrooms and, two days later, a mix of mushrooms and LSD.

Why did I do that? I was trying to make some sense out of my life because at that point, age 52, it seemed not to have any. My life, sense. My second divorce was two years behind me, not something I initiated, and it had thrown me into a massive tailspin.

In the space between ages 50 and 52, I had not found any equilibrium. I was drastically adrift, grasping at any semblance of a grounded straw. I looked at dreams. My daughter mentioned a psychologist she knew who was well-versed in dream interpretation.

He lived outside Tallahassee, Florida. We did a phone session about dreams, which was interesting. As the call wound down, I asked if he knew someone with access to peyote because I thought it would help me.

He then said he could help me in that way. I drove to Tallahassee.

len
The double doors at the bottom left led to my bedroom. The puma’s den.

And this is what I found out in the woods, a beautiful home where my new friend lived alone, a lifelong, handsome bachelor and truth-seeker, so to speak. A private practitioner with a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

We got started before dawn the next morning. He gave me ecstasy, which had no effect whatsoever, which was revealing. Getting nowhere with that, he mixed a brew of psilocybin mushrooms that he cultivated himself.

Bingo! That did the trick.

I was lying on the living room sofa with my eyes covered with a sleep mask. I descended into a massive cavern where native people danced. The music came from a CD player, but I did not know it at the time. It was The Serpent’s Egg by Dead Can Dance.

Music is an excellent assist to entheogens, a term I prefer over drugs, which is a wider category that usually carries bad connotations.

Entheogens are not addictive.

After the cavern, I fell further into a world so extreme and astonishing that putting it into words cannot be done. About eight hours later, the effects begin to wear off. What remains is the knowledge of having seen the “other side.” It is not an hallucination.

A good book to read is The Secret Chief by Myron J. Stolaroff. The author believes this, and I agree with him: We are born with a faucet connected to our minds, and that faucet is shut tight because if it weren’t, we could not function. Taking entheogens opens the faucet temporarily.

Imagine yourself sitting on the stage of a theater in the round. The curtain is closed, and then it begins to open all around you, and you see for the first time beyond the stage which is your everyday world.

You see what’s really out there.

When the entheogen effects begin to wear off, the curtain starts to shut again till it’s closed entirely, and you’re back to “normal,” sitting on that stage of everyday life. But you remember.

My new friend recommended a recess, which I took the following day, driving around the rural, wooded area of the Florida Panhandle.

* * * *

One more time

As dawn arrived the day after that, I was ready, I thought, for Session Two, which was a combination of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. People with experience say it’s important to state your intention before going on these expeditions. This is true.

For this second event, my intention was that I wanted to dance with love. What did I expect with such a notion? Here’s what I thought would happen based on my experience two days earlier. I thought a beautiful woman would appear, and we would dance.

But the Goddess has her own ideas, so that did not happen. What happened was this: There was no vision. I saw absolutely nothing, but what I felt was stunning. A feeling of extreme caring embraced me. It was like nothing I had ever experienced or imagined.

* * * *

The puma and the woman

Hours later, around midnight, I felt relatively normal again, and I was sitting in my new friend’s living room facing him. I thought it was over, so I told him to go to bed, and I would do the same. He went upstairs.

bed
The bedroom on a later night. The light is my camera flash.

My bedroom was on the ground floor right off the living room, a short walk. I went in, undressed and lay atop the sheets. The lights were off, and it was the sort of darkness you find in the forest on a moonless night.

Lying there, I turned into a woman. Just like that. I could see nothing due to the lack of light, but I turned into a woman. I felt it. It’s quite different from being a man. I felt an unfamiliar, strong need to be cared for.

catAnd then I turned into a black puma. I moved my long tail from one side to the other at the foot of the bed. My whiskers twitched. I felt incredibly powerful.

And then it ended. I went to sleep.

That episode was about the only one that I recall fairly clearly. I suspect that is due to its happening near the end of that night’s experience. I was not totally under the influence but in a twilight zone.

* * * *

Going home, buckets of blood

My new friend offered a third night of this therapy or whatever you’d call it, but I told him no. I was overwhelmed. I drove back to Texas.

But I returned nine months later for LSD. The second night of my first visit had entailed a mixture of both psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. The psilocybin effect had been the more powerful by far.

I knew this later, not then.

The LSD experience was very different. Psilocybin is softer than LSD. Here’s what stood out about the LSD, the only thing I remember: Buckets of blood. I was under a waterfall of blood that poured over me. A voice told me it was time to grow up, to become a man.

This sounds horrible, but it wasn’t. It was a shove I needed.

Many hours later, after the effects had diminished, my friend told me that I had been laughing loudly, something I was unaware of during the experience. I’ve felt immensely better since that night.

lake
View from the back of the house.

Entheogens have been used for direct religious experiences through human history and beyond. Primitive art shows it.

Indeed, since verbal descriptions of what happens can be next to impossible, art comes into play.

ART
A different sort of Heaven.

In 1999, I attended an entheogen conference in Palenque, Chiapas. That was a year before I moved to Mexico. Amusingly, one of the attendees was a New York Port Authority cop. Another attendee was a dentist from Tennessee who gave me a dose of 5-MeO-DMT.

dmt5-MeO-DMT provides an experience similar to LSD but it comes on far faster, instantaneously, and only lasts about 15 minutes.

I sat on a bed, smoked it, and collapsed backwards. About 15 minutes later, I was back to normal. It’s the only time I tried 5-MeO-DMT successfully.

In 2000, about eight months after moving to Mexico, I flew to Atlanta, rented a car and drove back to the Panhandle of Florida to participate in a group session in which the entheogen was a chemical analogue of ayahuasca. And that was the end for me.

I was told — you do hear voices — that I didn’t need to do that sort of thing anymore, so I haven’t. By the way, group sessions are far from ideal. Stick to solo sessions with an experienced helper.

* * * *

Recreational drugs

Many, probably most, people who take psychedelics do it for fun. I take a neutral stance on this matter. There is a consciousness out there — God if you will — and she will let you see her if that is your wish.

However, if your desire is recreational, she will not let you see her, or perhaps not to the same degree. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never done this for fun. Your mindset matters very much.

* * * *

Conclusion

I was an agnostic for most of my adult life. I am not anymore. It would be next to impossible to experience the things entheogens provide and not realize there is something far beyond our daily consciousness.

* * * *

Good books to read

  1. The Cosmic Serpent — DNA and the Origins of Knowledge.
  2. Food of the Gods — The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. A radical history of plants, drugs and human evolution.
  3. DMT, The Spirit Molecule.
  4. The Way of the Shaman.

 

The silk scarf

JAECI MASHED the mushrooms into the river water with a smooth stone, and he drank.

He was wearing a white silk scarf he’d found years back in the jungle near where he sat this evening on a rotting kapok trunk astride the border between Brazil and Peru.

With the scarf he looked as if he’d be sitting in a P-51 cockpit instead of atop the old kapok as night fell.

He waited.

Moments later, he fell off the tree trunk and thumped to the ground as an unseen hand pushed the throttle forward, and he rumbled down the taxiway.

On reaching the far side, he veered left or right, saw the runway straight ahead as the throttle touched the end stops. The engine roared, but it was not a P-51 after all.

It was an F-22.  As it rose off the runway, Jaeci felt the tires fold into the wheel wells, and he smiled. The silk scarf whipped in the wind.

If only he possessed a pilot’s license.

He felt a stag beetle creep across his left leg just seconds before he became a black-winged heliconius.

Vista, 2015

october

PLACES, LIKE people, change over time. I climbed the circular stairwell today to take this year’s roof shot. The one I posted recently in black and white on Mood piece was a photo from a couple of years ago.

The horse shot was fresh though.

We’re off to Palenque, Chiapas, for a week later this month. Will be my first visit since 1999 when I flew down there from Houston to attend an entheogen conference. It’ll be interesting to see the jungle again.

It won’t be interesting to sweat, but there’s no avoiding that.

On returning we’ll start some work here at the Hacienda. The driveway up from the street, behind the stone wall and not visible in the photo, will be renovated with a nice mosaic design. The windows looking out to the upstairs terraza need lots of work and varnish.

There’s a weed-filled dirt strip that runs the width of the property between our back wall and the street surface that we’re going to fancy up with rock and cement even though it’s not our land. Community service.

toiletAnd we will replace the toilet downstairs. The current johnny was purchased in the talavera capital of Dolores Hidalgo in 2002. It has a painted desert scene all over it.

Though interesting and lovely, it’s a bit undersized and has never been very practical. We’ll replace it with something modern from Home Depot, and the old toilet will start a new life as a planter in the yard.

No one has thought of that before.

The therapy generation

therapy

I’VE DONE THERAPY, and I’m not a fan.

The people who get into that line of work, in my opinion, are troubled people, which is why they get into it in the first place. Their true motivation is understanding themselves, not others, but you can make a living at it, so many do. Kill two birds.

Win, win. Endless fixation on one’s self while having others pay you to fix them too. If only you could. Most men are not inclined to therapy. It’s primarily a female thing which folds nicely into their endless talking and reading self-help books.

Men who submit to therapy, I believe, are usually coerced into it by a woman, or they are questionable fellows like Woody Allen. I was in the first category. Maybe the second too.

The therapists to whom I refer are not psychiatrists. I’m talking about psychologists and other lesser lights with therapy “training.” There are lots of options available. Psychiatrists are just physicians who want those big doctor bucks but who faint at the sight of blood.

My sister is a therapist. My first wife is a therapist. My daughter was a therapist until she married very well and became a woman of leisure. The man who picked up my pieces and put me back together in the late 1990s, when I was a basket case, was a therapist, a psychologist.

But his tools were entheogens, not the endless chatter of usual therapy.

I was first hauled into traditional therapy in 1994. My second wife was the hauler. The therapist was a woman, a scandalously expensive marriage counselor in the Galleria area of Houston. Her suite had multiple rooms. At first we sat on a white leather sofa, my seething wife and I.

Basically, it was a gang-bang, and I got hosed, strapped naked atop a grimy mattress on the floor of a dank, stinky basement. The gang-bangers were, of course, the therapist and my wife.

They had their way with me, over and over, and they didn’t even use protection.

My last clear memory of the final session was this: We went into another room of the suite where there were various instruments of torture, or perhaps they were just therapy aids. The shrink had me lie on my back atop a huge inflated ball, basically bending me backwards, which was uncomfortable.

She leaned over me, looked right into my face and asked (I am not making this up): How old are you now?  I’m 50, I accurately responded, but I don’t think that’s what she wanted to hear.

In the parking lot, I vowed not to return, so my wife tossed me out in the cold shortly thereafter.

I do think that in some cases, what I call chatter therapy can do some good, mostly in relationships. Sometimes, but even then I have my doubts. When deeper issues are involved, things buried far below the surface of the psyche, the troubled soul, you can talk till your jaw falls off, and it will have done nothing of use. Our deepest conflicts care naught for conversation.

artAt best, those devilish conflicts might be excavated with some sticks of dynamite. Entheogens can be sticks of dynamite when administered with care.

Therapy as we know it started in the 20th century. There were therapists long before, of course, and they were called priests, ministers, pastors and shamans.

I prefer the old ways of therapy.

A shaman would never have bent me over a big, inflated ball and asked how old I was.

He would already have known. The jungle would  have told him.