In the hallowed history of the psychedelic experience, there is little as revered as the ‘heroic dose’. The term, coined by Terence McKenna, refers to the act of taking a very high dose of magic mushrooms, and, basically, blasting off.
McKenna’s iconic instruction was (say it with us!)

5g of dried Psilocybe cubensis, taken alone in a dark room — eyes closed!

Currently, there is a huge focus on microdosing — the act of taking a tiny, sub perceptual dose of shrooms. This is now known to impart improved mood, creativity, productivity, and even treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression while you get on with your day, uncompromised. The heroic dose is at the other end of the psychedelic scale. Before you start, ensure all responsibilities are handled. Nothing is more intense than conversing with your neighbor about fixing their sink while on a heroic dose!

A ‘Heroic Dose’ is Not To Be Approached Lightly

You see, a heroic dose — if done properly, is not necessarily all fun and games. In fact, it can be an intense, harrowing, and soul-searching experience that should not be approached lightly. Y’see a standard ‘high’ dose of dried P. cubensis (the most popular shroom) is a comparatively modest 3.5g — and that can still be a totally immersive, mind-blowing trip. A heroic dose is 5g+ (25g+ of fresh magic truffles) So, taking it is a very serious decision. These kinds of trips are associated with emotional and spiritual breakthroughs, ego death, and often, very convincing hallucinations. Many people find this experience life-changing, and often a defining moment of their lives.

Taking a Heroic Dose: What Should You Expect?

Since psychedelic literally means “To manifest the mind”, and no two minds are the same, that means that no two trips will be the same either. The main factors that will shape what kind of trip experience you have are your “Set” and “Setting”.

“Set” refers to your mindset and emotional state. The way you view the world and what it means to you. Your “Setting” is your environment and the people you are with, the situation you are in.

Ensuring a comfortable set and setting is vital to having a positive experience.

And, at a heroic dose you can expect between 4 and 8 hours of intense and all-encompassing psychedelia. There will be waves of euphoria, hilarity, and love. There will be hallucinations — perhaps spiritual guides will appear. Ego dissolution may have you rebirthed with a whole new perspective and understanding of life. You may find yourself opening your eyes to the web of creation, nature, and the universe — and your place within it. You may just have a really, really, really, weird time. 

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 Often, with a heroic dose — to paraphrase The Rolling Stones — you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you’ll get what you need. Even if you weren’t consciously aware of what that actually was before going in. 

Why is it Called a ‘Heroic Dose’?

The term ‘heroic dose’ isn’t named as such because you’re some kinda awesome superhero for taking it. Even though, yeah, it’s pretty brave. It’s a reference to the ‘hero’s journey’. This is a stalwart concept of mythology and traditional storytelling — the hero leaves home, faces challenges or crisis, prevails, and comes home again having learned and grown. This classic journey of transformation is reflected in the experience of a heroic dose trip. However, it all takes place in one’s own mind. 

How to Heroic Dose Safely

Learn Your ‘Psychedelic Persona’

If you’ve thought long and hard, and think that experimenting with a heroic dose is for you, then it is imperative that you learn how to do it safely. 

Work your way up, from smaller doses, medium doses, to higher doses, over time. Do not rush this! If you are not already experienced with shrooms, you cannot just skip to the end. Additionally, spread apart these trips, so as not to build up tolerance and form an incorrect idea of how dosages affect you. Based on these experiences you will build an idea of your psychedelic persona — are you Introspective? Are you joyful? What sort of environment do you prefer to be in? Etcetera, etcetera. By knowing how magic mushrooms affect you, you can lessen any likelihood of a bad trip, and optimize to have the best experience possible. 

Don’t Mix With Other Drugs

This is always our advice, but when it comes to taking a heroic dose we cannot stress enough: do not mix your shrooms with any other drugs. For a start — you definitely don’t ‘need’ to. And secondly, a heroic dose is serious enough — you don’t want any more uncontrolled variables. 

Be Plan-tastic

Plan, plan (and for those at the back), PLAN! Firstly, read our guide on How to Trip for the First Time. Even if you do have extensive magic mushroom experience, it is best to think of a heroic dose as being the ‘first time’ all over again — because you will have experienced nothing like it before. 

Clear your day, and potentially the next. Let people know you won’t be contactable that day — you don’t have to explain why! You just need to ensure you will not be getting any unexpected guests or phone calls during the period in which you plan to trip.  

Make your space cozy and comfortable, with blankets, cushions, and soft lighting. Ensure you have everything you might possibly need: water, snacks, a journal, music. Wear comfy clothes that you can stretch out in. 

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Put some insurance practices in place in case you feel overwhelmed. Familiarize yourself with calming breathing exercises, have a relaxing playlist on hand, and/or best of all…

Get A Trip Sitter

Having a ‘trip-sitter’ is one of the most common and effective methods of harm reduction during a psychedelic trip. A trip sitter’s role is to be like the designated driver of the psychedelic experience — as in, they are sober, and they know the roads. Having a trip sitter can help you make the most out of a shroom trip as their presence can help you to feel more at ease; and they can be a person to talk, to or shoulder to cry on, should the mood take you. 

The best candidate for a trip sitter is someone who has their own experience with magic mushrooms, with a disposition and aura that makes you feel calm. Ideally, before your trip, you should discuss with your trip sitter your previous psychedelic experiences; how shrooms affect you, what’s going on in your life, and what any triggers might be. This way they can be prepared and have an idea what to do if things get challenging. And, next time you can repay the favor by trip sitting for them!

Don’t let the time play tricks on you!

High dose psychedelic trips often bring about a distortion of time, where it can feel either elongated or compressed. While some suggest having a timekeeping device, like a clock or the progression of a favourite movie, to anchor oneself, opinions vary on its effectiveness. Some argue that constantly checking the time might heighten anxiety and disrupt the surrender to the experience. Experiment with different approaches to find what suits your comfort and enhances the trip positively.

It can be helpful in preparation for a heroic dose to practice saying these things to yourself, for example: “I know it feels like time has stopped, but I’ve ingested a psychedelic drug that effects perception, so its most likely that.” It may seem silly, but having something like that ready to tell yourself can be a huge help in the moment. Analyze how your mind works during these novel experiences, and remember, no matter how strong the trip, and how impossible it may seem that you will be back to normal in a few hours, this is always the case. the trip will always end, your body will process the psilocybin until its gone and you will come back to earth.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Heroes Always Integrate

After a heroic dose, be gentle with yourself. You may not have traveled physically, but in your mind you will  have covered light-years. Take time to rest and think, write about your experience in your journal, or talk to a friend. This is all part of integration. Integration refers to the act of making sense of and applying the insights and experiences gained during a psychedelic trip to your everyday life. Integration is a key part of the post-dose experience. It can helpful to express any ideas you had during the experience that may be hard to put into words through another medium, such as art or music. This way you can begin to make sense of the things you felt, saw, and heard; to harness the vibrations that the mushroom sent through you.

After all, isn’t that what the heroic dose is all about?