The First Time
Know What You Are Getting Into
The first time you go on a psilocybin trip is always a life-changing experience.
Psilocybin is the psychoactive compound (or, the bit that makes you trip) within magic mushrooms and magic truffles. Maybe you know this. You are an experienced shroom-head, and have gone on many rides through the cosmos of your mind. Maybe you’ve never taken magic mushrooms and truffles, and have only heard second-hand stories from friends or the media.
Either way it is always good to remember that a psychedelic trip is not to be taken lightly. It can be fun, exhilarating, enlightening — but there’s always the chance it could be a challenging experience too. This is why you should read this tripping guide, whether you’re a newbie or an old-hand. This way you can both understand and be fully equipped to deal with what is happening to you during those few hours in wonderland.
For many people, a magic mushroom or truffle trip is the first time that they experience a different state of consciousness other than waking, sleeping or dreaming. Some people may have experienced similar transcendental states through an out of body experience (OBE), deep meditation, yoga, sports or through another spiritual experience.
The out-of-this-world seeming processes that are triggered in our brain by shrooms or magic truffles (but also by LSD, XTC, 2CB, DMT, etc.) are actually quite natural. These substances bind to, and enhance substances already made by our own body, such as serotonin. And, when we say enhance, we mean enhance a lot. One of the only things that might be comparable to a shroom trip is falling head-over-heels in love. It’s all in the serotonin!
The first time you see the world change, your perspective waver and your consciousness open up, and you can feel very unprotected and vulnerable. This expanded view into reality and and this breaking down of psychic walls might stay with you for the rest of your life. So bear this in mind before you decide to trip. Prepare yourself well, take the necessary time and space and, above all, only do it because you want to, and are ready. Not because you feel pressured to by anyone else.
Set & Setting
Diving into the ocean of your subconscious is best done when in a positive spirit, good conditions and in a nice atmosphere, and if there are people around — make sure they’re ones you like and feel comfortable with.
The thing to remember is the two S’s: Set and Setting. If you have these worked out, it’s an insurance policy for your whole trip.
‘Set’ is about your mindset’. How you feel in your mind and in your guts. If something is troubling you or you have unaddressed issues bubbling under the surface, these could come out under the influence of psilocybin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth considering if you don’t think you’re quite ready to take these things on yet. Go with the ‘flow’ as much as possible. If you are open to the experience, it is sure to be smooth as well as enlightening.
‘Setting’ is your environment. As we said above, it’s about whether you feel comfortable in your surroundings or not. A familiar place is best, and you can make it all the more trip-friendly by adding cosy touches like fairy lights, blankets, cushions and a relaxing soundtrack. Many people swear by tripping outdoors, as psilocybin enhances your connection with nature (and trees look amazing waving in the breeze when you’re high!) but this is of course weather dependent, and you still have to ensure it’s safe. No cliff edges or deep sea swimming. But that’s common sense whether you’re tripping or not, really…
So basically, before you do anything else, check in with both your inner and outer environments.
Your Support Network
Although this should also be part of your ‘settings considerations, it is really worth focussing on your support network for your trip as a separate thing too, especially if it’s your first time.
The highest level of ‘support network’, would probably be having a trip sitter with you during your trip. A trip sitter is basically like the designated driver for psychedelics. Someone who will stay sober and keep an eye on their tripping friends. Ideally it is someone who is experienced with magic mushrooms or other psychedelics themselves, and can relate to what their charges are going through — say the right things, anticipate their needs etc.
If you don’t have a trip sitter on standby or just don’t really fancy using one, it’s still important to let a trusted person know what you’re up to. Let a friend know that you plan to trip that day, and there’s a small chance you might give them a call if you need some support. Let your housemates (if you have them) know what’s up, and make sure that you turn off any notifications from work. It’s best not to be disturbed by responsibilities from the ‘real’ world while you’re exploring your mental cosmos.
What Are Your Intentions?
‘Why?’ is a question you have to ask yourself before you set out on a trip.
The wrong motivation, such as using it as an ‘escape’ from reality, or a distraction from unresolved issues will rarely end well. It is important to remember that your trip will end, it is not an ejector seat from your problems.
This is why it is good to question your intentions. By ‘intentions’ we mean what you aim to learn or how you aim to grow from this trip. What is your purpose? Do you want to think about your spiritual side — explore your beliefs? Do you want to imagine where you want to be in the future — break your mental boundaries and discover how to unlock your potential? Do you want to feel real self love — have a moment just for yourself? Maybe you just want to have fun! As long as you have reasons that are for yourself, and not to please anyone else, or escape, you are likely to get a very positive experience out of your trip.
Your Journey To Innerspace
We’ve said it before, but it’s always worth saying again — a magic truffle or mushroom trip is not to be taken lightly. Even if you have prepared thoroughly, you always need to expect the unexpected. In indigenous cultures, psychedelic trips are used as a tool for healing, celebration or discovery. Treat your own trip with the same respect — you too are experiencing the gift of an ancient natural magic. Make sure there is plenty of time around your trip, you don’t want to be rushing around before or after, under physical or mental strain.
If you want to ensure you feel good in your body, try and eat well in the days before, don’t be hungover or strung out. Some people like to take a good shower or bath before they take their trip, for a fresh and clean energy. Whatever makes you feel the most you.
On The Day of Your Trip
If you have thought of some intentions for your trip, just before you take your dose, it could be an idea to put them down in writing — both to really solidify them in your mind and to have them to refer to during your trip. It might sound strange to consult a ‘plan’ during a trip, but it can really help to ground you if things get too much!
When Should I Take My Shrooms?
As a rule, we suggest taking your magic mushrooms or truffles in the morning or by midday, as the trip can last between 3- 6 hours. Additionally afterwards, you’ll need some time to recover or just ‘be’, and absorb your experience. If you take it later you could risk a sleepless or disturbed nights sleep.
Most people tend to keep food pretty light before a trip, some preferring a totally empty stomach. The onset of a trip can cause nausea, so eating a big meal beforehand is generally a big no-no.
Prepare your cosy trip space if you are tripping inside, and check the weather forecast if you are tripping outside. Make sure you have everything you may need — snacks, water, a sweatshirt, colouring pens (if the creative urge strikes!), your music player, etc.
Check in with your support network, or if you’ve got a trip sitter — offer them tea or coffee! It’s only polite 😉
Wear comfortable clothes, set up some snacks and drinks in case you fancy them later, and make sure everything is in its right place. This way you have nothing to worry about once your trip starts.
Speaking of worry, fear or even just some butterflies in the stomach are totally normal. Acknowledge your worry, don’t shut it out. This way you prepare yourself against it, and can move past it.
How To Take Your Magic Truffles or Shrooms
There are different ways to ingest the magic mushrooms and truffles. You can divide up your dose(s) and munch them down as they are, chewing the mushrooms or the truffles thoroughly to speed up the digestion process.
Or, another popular way to take your dose is by making tea with your magic mushrooms or truffles. Boil water and then let it cool slightly (boiling water decreases the potency of psilocybin). While it’s cooling, chop your truffles or mushrooms into small pieces. Let them steep in the hot water for 10-15 minutes — you can also flavour it with some real tea or citrus if you fancy! Drink your tea, and eat the shroom pieces left over in the bottom of the cup.
If taking your trip as a group, the brewing and drinking of the tea can be a nice bonding exercise prior to your trip. Sip it slowly together and enjoy the warmth.
Onset Of The Trip
After 15-30 minutes you will likely feel the first waves of your trip. It is important to relax and let them wash over you, instead of asking that age old question ‘am I feeling it yet?’
When you start to feel it, you will definitely know.
Pay attention to the muscles in your body, unclench and unwind, lie down if you feel like it — that’s what those cushions were for! You probably don’t need any external stimuli like bright tv or loud music, the sensations you are feeling are probably overwhelming enough.
Feelings of Nausea
Some people feel nausea or sickness at the beginning of a shroom trip. This, although unpleasant, is very normal and won’t last for long. Breathe deep, relax and if you do need to be sick just let it happen, if the shrooms want to come back up they will. You will still trip.
Soon you may find you have the uncontrollable urge to giggle. Everything seems ridiculous! The way your friend is sitting, the leaves of your pot plant, your own hands! Enjoy it — laugh till your belly hurts — this is part of the joy of the natural magic of shrooms.
Mental and Emotional Exploration
After the physical onset of the trip, feeling of heaviness in your body, the giggles etc you will migrate to a more cerebral plane — i.e. of your thoughts and emotions. This is when people usually do their spiritual wandering, ponder different perspectives, and contemplate things from new angles.
This is generally positive and ushers in feelings of love, gratefulness and enlightenment, but occasionally it is possible to get caught in a ‘control loop’ of negative thoughts, or what some might call a ‘bad trip’. It is important to remember these are only temporary and most people after a less positive experience are still glad they did it. Often it is just a symptom of your boundaries or perceptions changing. Many people look at supposed ‘bad’ trips as good ones retrospectively. The important thing is to press ahead with your journey.
During this more psychological phase you may also experience hallucinations. This is what many refer to as ‘wonderland’. Colours and sounds become more intense and beautiful, you may see fractal patterns with your eyes open or closed. Things seem to vibrate or multiply. Its magical! So engrossing are these sensorial experiences you can redirect your whole trip by focusing your attention on something new, because everything is both fascinating and distracting at once. Colours and images may even make you feel overwhelmed, emotional or awestruck.
Everything seems connected, and you are warmed up by your love for the world. Some people cry because they feel so grateful, others cry because they never felt so happy or free before. Remember you are allowed to just be quiet and let everything wash over you. Just go with your gut.
If you have taken a high enough dose (best for experienced trippers) you may experience ego death, which is parallel to Enlightenment. It is the transcendence of your earthly self, the realisation that everything is connected, and that you are part of the bright, vibrating world. It is cited by many psychedelics users as one of the most important moments of their lives. Afterwards nothing will ever be quite the same. This is also called a mystical experience.
Even if you do not hit ego death, you will still peak and you will still have perspective altering and euphoric experiences that will stay with you for a long, long time.
Although it may not feel like it sometimes, you are at the helm of your trip. And you can trust that the shrooms and truffles are not out to get you — they are our natural earthly cousins after all! Thoughts and images may come and go through your head, and sometimes these may be scary or unpleasant. Remember you are in charge of this movie! Think of something else. Focus on a new subject or idea. Maybe try to recall your intentions.
Most of the time however, the voyage is a fascinating exploration of the depths of your mind. You can feel free to let it unfold. It’s all coming from your own subconscious after all!
You can continue to focus inwards for the rest of your trip, or here is perhaps when you may choose to have an outward experience. To go somewhere or look at some things. A small walk around wherever you are tripping, another room in your house, or maybe go and look at a tree or watch clouds if you are outside. You could put on some music and dance around. Get some pens and paper and go crazy. Whatever you can handle. If you want to stay eyes shut on the sofa, do that instead!
The End of the Trip: Coming Down
So, you’ve climbed the heights, to the peak of your trip, and taken in the view. Maybe you’ve seen and felt life-changing things, maybe you just have had a good giggle. However your trip was— and of course, this depends on whether you are a newbie or an old hand, and the strength of your dose— the ‘comedown’ from shrooms is a vital part of the experience.
Due to this, it can be a nice idea to set out a plan for the comedown, as you might for the trip itself. Firstly, the term ‘comedown’ can be a little misleading sometimes, as it is usually associated with the discomfort felt after a particularly hard-partying night with various illegal substances. However, in this case we simply mean the softening of the effects of shrooms as they wear off. For many people this is a pleasant experience, as they float back into reality. Your senses become sharper, and you can begin to digest the thoughts and revelations you had more rationally.
If your trip was slightly unsettling, it can be nice to feel the warmth of normality returning. Remember, a trip is a journey, and you have traveled (in your mind at least!). You may be tired, and in need of home comforts. Now is when you can start to ‘unpack’ your experience. Did you leave anything behind on your travels? Did you pick up any souvenirs?
Your high may be gently decreasing, but you probably still have some ocular effects and sparkles in the edges of your vision. As you start to feel more ‘down to earth’, it can be nice to go for a walk, especially if you’ve spent most of your trip inside. If you’ve been tripping as a group, suggest the idea— it can be nice to feel as if you are going out as a team — a little adventure together. If you are tripping alone, it can be a real opportunity to feel your own individual connection with nature. The breeze on your face will refresh you; trees swaying in the wind and ripples in water will vibrate and pulse as your high ebbs away.
If you started your trip in the daytime, you are most likely coming down after dark. This is a perfect opportunity to do some moon-gazing. If it’s chilly outside, pull a comfy chair up to the window and peep at the stars from there. But, if it’s a warm night, you can do some moon-bathing! The glow of the moon can be hypnotizing at the best of times, but twinned with the departing waves of your trip, it can take on a new and spiritual dimension.
Refuel Your Body
A large appetite for food is not usually associated with a shroom trip. But, eventually, hunger will make its re-appearance and you will need to refuel your body. Here, it is really personal preference what you fancy eating, but if you want to get a bit scientific with your choices, you should chow down on a good source of tryptophan. After your trip, your serotonin levels might be feeling a bit depleted. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that, as luck would have it, aids the production of serotonin. As serotonin is the neurotransmitter triggered by psilocybin, stocking up on tryptophan is almost like having ‘hair of the dog!’
Here are some sources of tryptophan for you to feast on:
Eggs— Also a great source of omega 3 and proteins!
Dairy Products— Milk, yoghurt… perhaps a 4 cheese pizza?
Nuts— A source of healthy fats, and a good snack if you don’t feel ready to eat a meal yet.
Tofu— A great source of tryptophan for veggies and omnivores alike.
Salmon— The fish with the highest tryptophan!
Pineapple— Refreshing and full of vitamins.
Bathe in Your Experience
Showers and/or baths often figure in people’s experiences with shrooms. Some people find the feeling of drops hitting their skin during a trip transcendent, and see rainbows refracted in the water. Additionally, many people use baths or showers to centre themselves when experiencing a difficult trip, feeling as though they are literally ‘washing away’ any worries.
Equally, on a come down bathing can help you reconnect with yourself. It can be a good time to reflect on what you may have experienced and how it will now figure in your life. You could add bubbles or scented oils for a really relaxing experience, and, if you fancy (literally) going overboard, why not listen to some whale song?!
A great way to come back to reality gently can be through watching or listening to something:
You could try watching some psychedelic inspired films, but, often when coming down you might want something more comforting. Lots of people enjoy Disney films, as for many they hold a strong sense of familiarity and a connection to their childhood (also you can count on a happy ending!). Other good choices are Pixar or Studio Ghibli movies— for similar reasons, but with visuals that will really compliment your remaining ocular vibrations!
As with tripping, nature porn is a good option. It will help to ground you, but also wow you with it’s sheer beauty. Feel safe and protected under your duvet while watching the big wide world— obvious examples being anything David Attenborough— Blue Planet or Planet Earth will do just fine. For something a bit more unusual you could try some Werner Hertzog documentary films, such as ‘Into the Inferno’ or ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’.
Sometimes, if you are feeling a little sensitive, watching something might not be so appealing. In this case you could listen to something instead! Play your favourite artist, or go for music without lyrics such as classical or ambient, so you can hear your thoughts.
Another nice choice can be audiobooks or podcasts. Guided meditation podcasts can be very effective at this time, as you stand on the border between your psychedelic journey and reality, making you more open to taking on advice and teaching. Popular apps such as Headspace or Calm have a variety of different features that focus on different aspects such as breathing or soothing you to sleep. Which brings us to…
Some people have difficulty sleeping after a psychedelic trip. Despite the mind being exhausted they just can’t drift off. If this is you, don’t panic! Sleep will arrive eventually, and it’s best not to try and force it. If none of the ideas listed have helped soothe you, maybe it’s good to just wait it out and remember ‘This too shall pass’. Plump up your pillows, taco yourself in your duvet and focus on existing in your body.
Curling up with a loved one can be one of the nicest things while you are coming down, especially if they have been tripping too. Even if you cannot currently sleep, their presence will be a calming influence on you. Enjoy the closeness you feel with another person.
Integration: The Next Day, and Beyond!
You may feel changed or different after your trip. If you kept a journal during it, you can look back on the highs and lows you recorded. Perhaps you had some personal revelations, or simply thought of some goals you wish to achieve in the near or far future. If you experienced ‘ego death’ maybe you got to know your real self for the very first time?
The question is, how do you integrate this into your everyday life?
By ‘integrate’ we mean apply it to your daily routine, or even change your daily routine or habits because of your trip. To actually internalise the things you may have felt, rather than brushing them off as an isolated experience.
Remember how you felt during your trip. Were you attracted to nature? Maybe this implies you should make more effort to be outside, go on a trip to the countryside, or even just plant some seeds. Perhaps you enjoyed your introspection and want to incorporate meditation into your daily life. You can do this by taking classes or setting aside some time just for yourself everyday. Ditto with exercise or creative pursuits. To start yourself on the right track you could make a schedule: e.g. 20 minutes of meditation before bed, or learn a new tune on the guitar every week.
Most of all, do not put pressure on yourself to be ‘different’ or ‘improved’ straight away. These things take time, especially if you are changing your long held habits. Continue to keep a journal; this way you can trace how you feel over the coming days and weeks, and chart your progress.
When you get back from a holiday, it takes some time to acclimatise again, but you keep all the good experiences with you. Perhaps you can treat this ‘trip’ the same way.