Tag: psilocybin

The other side

New Image
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.

 

Visiting another world

BREAKING BAD was one of the best series ever to appear on television.

This is my favorite scene.

It’s Jesse Pinkman taking his first dose of heroin. I became familiar with drugs during the period 1995 to 2000, the time between the failure of my second marriage and my move to Mexico.

I’ve never taken heroin and never will. I’ve never used a needle and never will. I doubt I will ever use an illegal drug again. The drugs I took during that period are not addictive: psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus and ecstasy.

I recommend them all to you with some reservations, and I recommend that you never do them alone (exception: ecstasy). Have a sidekick with you who’s got his feet on the ground because things can get weird.

Best at night. Best with music.

What stuck me about the above scene is that it’s extremely realistic. Ecstasy won’t do this to you, but the others can and far more. And whoever directed the scene, or perhaps the actor added it, has first-hand experience. Notice Jesse clutching his heart, something  I have done.

Drinking, smoking, drugs

I QUIT DRINKING on March 30, 1996.

martiniI was never an angry or violent boozer, but I drank every day from age 26 till that March day in 1996, which is a quarter century. The only exceptions were sick days. On those days that I drank, I drank until I was “happy.” Sometimes I went over the happy point a bit, but usually not.

The result of this was that it was difficult to interact with me in any meaningful way in the evenings or in the afternoons on weekends. I started early on weekends. My second wife felt this the most.

I was walking in my father’s footsteps. He did the same thing for almost exactly the same length of time, during the same ages, stopping in his early 50s. The only difference was that he often went far past happy, especially in my childhood. Sometimes he could hardly stand up but, like me, he was not violent at all.

Neither of us let it interfere with our jobs, which were the same jobs, newspapering. We drank — with some exceptions — on our own time, not during work hours.

When I quit drinking on that day in March 1996, it was an incredible revelation. My life and mental clarity did a 180-degree turn. It was like night and day. I was clear-headed 24-7, as they say. Who knew?

* * * *

smokingI quit smoking in 1991, and it was pretty easy because I eased into it. And I was never a heavy smoker in the first place. Years earlier, in the Air Force, I smoked pipes and cigars. I had some really nice pipes. Young fellows look kind of silly smoking pipes and cigars, but I did not know that then.

Later I was strictly a cigarette smoker, but by the early ’90s, I had wearied of it. I read one day of this technique: If you smoke, say, one pack a day, which is 20 cigarettes, do the following: One week, smoke your 20 a day. The next week, 19 a day. The next week, 18 a day. You see where this is going. It’s a very gradual way to stop.

Takes a long spell, but it works.

It was easy till I got down to five or four a day, and then that final week of one a day, but I did it.

Back to my father again. He never smoked. He never drank coffee or tea. Strange guy.

Smoking is an incredibly nasty and stupid habit. Can’t believe I ever did it.

* * * *

mushroomsI am a big fan of non-addictive drugs,* specifically LSD, psilocybin and Ecstasy. I have also tried synthetic ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT. That latter provides an incredibly powerful experience that only lasts about five minutes.

I have not ingested those materials since the late 1990s.

With the exception of Ecstasy, they are great ways to meet God in person — if you’re lucky.

Good books to read about this are The Cosmic Serpent, The Secret Chief and Food of the Gods.

Smoking and drinking are vices. Non-addictive drugs are gifts from the Goddess.

* * * *

* Non-addictive drugs should not be illegal, except for minors.

(TOMORROW: Mohammedans and machine guns.)

Tres aguas

hole

Every year about now, in bone-dry Springtime, we drain the cistern, drop a ladder into its heart and scrub the fine layer of soil from the floor.

Then we reopen the valve to the municipal pipe that sits beneath the cobblestone street out back, and in flows spring water from under the Sierra.

As it fills, I stand above this hole and think, my, that looks sweet. I’d like to take a dip. The water is clear and cool. I never do, of course.

* * * *

Half a century ago, both before and after I could legally pilot a Ford, I’d head through forests and fields of cotton, corn and peanuts till I got to the spot where the swimming hole was hidden just off the road of red clay.

It was southwest Georgia in the heat of summertime.

The hole was a fair size and spring-fed. There was a thick rope someone had tied to an overhanging tree branch, and you could swing from a high bank to plunge into the hole’s deepest part, which was about 15 feet of water.

That water was clear as mountain air and cold all year. Even though it was 15 feet down at the deepest part, you could easily see the floor.

Nothing else was there. No Stop-n-Robs, no gas stations, nobody rented inner tubes. There was nothing, and usually nobody. Just trees, birds and clear, cold water. You had the place to yourself, and it was wonderful.

* * * *

In January 1997, I swallowed LSD and psilocybin a time or two, trying to set myself straight at last, and it worked. I was 52, and it was way overdue.

Later that year, I learned a meditation technique. You need a drumbeat. A cassette will do. Close your eyes and imagine a hole into the earth. It can be any size because you aren’t actually squeezing in.

I usually found a bunny burrow near a boulder in my mind, so I slipped inside to the steady drumbeat sound. And I descended through a winding dirt tunnel. At times there were doors that had to be opened, so I did.

Finally, the tunnel broke out into a wonderful world, and before me was a small lagoon surrounded by tropical trees and soaring artwork birds.

I would step into the water and swim solitary until the drumbeat accelerated, which was the signal to return. At that point, it was necessary to leave the lagoon and rush up the rabbit hole, back into what we call reality.