1 – The First Time
2 – Set & Setting : purpose
3 – Journey to Innerspace
4 – Visualizing
5 – Coming Down
1 – The First Time
To just ingest fresh or dried mushrooms can be a strange, maybe enchanted, maybe an unpleasant experience. If you only take a few then the effects are usually (apart from some nausea) pleasurable and can be compared with the feeling you get from using marihuana. If you are unprepared then a higher dose can have confusing effects.
If all goes well, it can be a thrilling experience. For many it is the first time that they experience a different state of consciousness apart from wake, sleep and dream-state. Others have a feeling of recollection because they have had a similar kind of trip through an out of body experience (OBE), meditation-technique, yoga, sports or through another special encounter or experience.
The processes that are triggered in our brain by the mushrooms (but also by LSD, XTC, 2CB, DMT, etc.) are actually quite natural. The substances involved are also made by our own body: like serotonin. Except that during a trip the effects are stronger. One can have similar experiences without drugs. Fasting, meditation, sports or simply falling in love have essentially the same function: to take you to paradise.
It will be clear by now that it is something out of the ordinary, so it would be good to get some more information about the effects of the magic mushroom. Reading this book can help you, but what also helps is discussing it with more experienced people, asking for advise in a Paddo-shop, consulting some more books, searching on the Internet or asking others (friends, parents?) about their opinion. Unknown is unloved, open communication is much better and it really reduces the risk of an unpleasant experience, because by being well informed a large part of the fear will be taken away.
It is just like making love: there is only one first time and this experience never repeats itself.
Be prepared and don’t waste your psychedelic ‘virginity’.
The first time you see the world change, your perspective waver and your consciousness open up, and you can feel very open and vulnerable. This view into what Dante called ‘The Divine Comedy’ might stay with you for the rest of your life. So be aware, prepare yourself well, take the necessary time and space and, above all, don’t let yourself be seduced into taking a trip too soon because you don’t dare to say no or because you are afraid to feel excluded from the group.
Be conscious that your life can take a different turn through the psychedelic experience. Not only so-called psychedelici, like Tim Leary, but also musicians, scientists, doctors, priests and many spiritual people took a `peek into the other world’ with the help of magic mushrooms or other substances. They became interested in the `altered’ and it would be stupid to label people like Deepak Chopra, Philip Glass, Huston Smith, Ram Dass, Terence McKenna, Aldous Huxley, Robert Anton Wilson, Hans Plomp, Luc Sala, or Simon Vinkenoog, as druggies.
2 – Set & Setting : purpose
Diving into the ocean of your subconscious is best done when in a good spirit, in good condition, in a nice atmosphere and with some nice people around. For minimal risks and the most beautiful and the best trip it is important to be in a good “Set and Setting”, as all the experts say. If you just swallow some mushrooms when you feel lousy and have nothing to do, then you may be asking for problems. You might encounter hidden corners of your mind, forgotten traumas or experience a frightening peek over the threshold between sanity and paranoia.
Apart from this it is important that you ask yourself why you want to make a mushroom-trip. The motives can range from a need for a change in your life to just pleasing your lover in going along. Are you just curious? Is it the first time? Haven’t you got anything else to do or do you join because you don’t want people to think that you are a square? You will have to make some conscious choices, like why you trip on your own, or why together with this specific person or that group. Consider these and the following questions carefully.
Where, with whom, with what, why?
Where you do it is important. And we don’t mean it to be just warm and cozy, it is also important that you will not be disturbed, that there is help available or at least one person who knows you are tripping (a back-up is important, only the thought that you can call someone you know can have a soothing effect) and that it is safe. You can leave a note for the people that live in your house or ask a friend to call a few hours afterwards to check if everything is okay with you. Also take into account that strangers (police, FBI) may come by, because you don’t want them to find you with a bunch of shrooms next to you. This is especially true outside of Holland, where the authorities are less tolerant and friendly.
With whom or with what , not only means what kind of mushrooms or in what form you eat or drink them, it is also about the whole environment and the people around you (or maybe with no one around).
Ask yourself, if you are in a group, if `sitters’ are available, who don’t take anything themselves and can watch over you. Are there some people in the group that take it a little sooner or a little later, do you help each other, do you choose a buddy before a trip, and how far are you prepared to go. Be clear! Don’t let issues like sex hang in the air, they will very likely come up, and it is much better to be clear about them beforehand. Later in this book we will write a little more about this subject.
It might be important to discuss and become aware of the bonding-effects, an invisible tie with some of the people of the group. You will see them when they are vulnerable and that might move you to open your heart for them. Often they stay in your life; that can be wonderful, but maybe it is not exactly what you want. So be careful if you take a trip with people you don’t know.
Why is a question you have to ask yourself before you set out on a trip. The wrong motivation, like wanting to escape from something or forget something unpleasant, can and probably will cause quite some trouble and in some cases a bad trip or worse. But then, if you do it to learn about yourself, about your relation with others, about your body or if you want to come in closer contact with your spiritual or mystical side, then this will undoubtedly surface too.
Although you can take mushrooms for many reasons, and having some fun or the sheer lust for adventure are as good a reason as any, one should at least consider the purpose of the trip.
Don’t do it to impress anybody, to get back at your parents, to escape the bad world. That might easily backfire and most psychiatrists we asked about this confirm that the amplification process of a psychedelic trip is not exactly what you need if you are ill, depressed, angry, unhappy or borderline schizoid. The bad trips and accidents can usually be traced back to a pre-existing situation or state of mind.
There are positive reasons to choose such an experience. Maybe at a time of indecision, to help you make up your mind about a relationship, a new job, or a career decision. Some even advice to take a psychedelic trip when checking out a guru or holy man, you can spot the impostors more clearly.
A celebration or anniversary might be a good reason, in the old days the seasons, special constellations of the sun and moon and celestial movements were often used for such endeavors and rituals.
To ingest magic mushrooms is not a kid’s game, you will quickly learn what “tripping” means. The best trip is one where you are prepared a bit, where you make it a `conscious trip’, even though you have to expect the unexpected. Please see chapter 5: Set & Setting for some more advice. We will discuss here the different stages of a trip.
A good preparation is no guaranty for a good trip, but it is certainly helpful. As mentioned earlier, it is important that you feel at ease in your body. This is what the first preparation is about and it starts already a few days before. Rest; don’t traumatize your body with things like bungy-jumping or heavy workouts. It is also beneficial to stick to a light diet a few days, or at least one day before. Some people stick to a total fast, others eat the previous day only light meals like fruits or vegetables. Of course everybody has his own way to feel at ease, some like to be in nature, to take walks, some like to get inspiration from books, meditation or watch some television. It is particularly important to avoid stress. The wisdom of the indigenous people is that after traveling (jet-lag) it is better to wait a few days. Taking a bath or shower before is a good thing, getting rid of the day’s energy and dirt, feeling clean and ready.
Take your time; plan
Apart from a purpose (see chapter 5) some structure, maybe even planning is needed. This is helpful if you venture into the unknown or strange territory of the psychedelic experience and the reason why this is often done in the form of a ritual. You can provide this structure by making things clear for yourself – or better still – to put them in writing; to make a kind of agenda about what you want to do. Do you want to direct your attention inside or outside, do you want to investigate your relationships with others or know more about certain physical aspects? Are you interested in darkness, sound, silence, light-effects, sex; be sure to be clear about this in advance and share that with the others.
Set time apart, make sure you have at least a day to recover and don’t take the mushrooms too late in the day, the experience will keep you (and others) awake well through the night, reckon with a 4 to 8 hour period and some to recover.
On the day itself, be especially attentive about the place where you are going to take the trip. If you do this outdoors, then select a spot where you feel safe and bring all the practical things you might need (blanket, water, food, music, writing- and drawing-material, etc.). Something to cover you is needed, as you will at times feel cold, even in the summer. Having a bag you can lock will maybe ease your mind; bicycle chain locks can be helpful to make sure your stuff stays in place and safe.
If you take it at home, do a thorough cleaning and add some things that will inspire you or give a nice feeling, like cushions, flowers and candles. Avoid visitors, disconnect the phone and wear loose clothing. Provide for some drinks like juice, water or herb tea and maybe a light snack (no cheese). You might want to take a shower or a bath, so be sure that you can reach this `safely’. Take into account that you might start worrying after taking the mushrooms and right before you really feel the effect. You might want to go through everything, do you know where your keys are, is the door locked? Better arrange for this now to feel sure everything is safe. Some insecurity at this stage is quite normal and healthy; so don’t panic if you can’t find the keys. A contract
It maybe sounds a bit too serious, but if you have any doubts about your own deeper motives, maybe hidden suicidal tendencies, now is the time to come clear. When you are with other people it really helps to discuss the rules of the trip. What is acceptable, what not. Is sex part of the agenda or definitively not, is massage acceptable (quite a treat in the sensitive state you will be in), how loud can you be, are there limits to where you can go, can you take a bath or shower, would your kind of music be a traumatic downer for others (Gregorian chants are great for some, a nightmare for others). In general try to discuss the playing field and make some rules. You don’t need a formal contract, but it sometimes makes things easier if you write something down. Especially if there is the slightest whiff of someone `stepping out’, being tired of life and its burden, do make a verbal contract that nobody will get lost in the inner wilderness. By making this clear to one’s normal consciousness there is less danger of someone actually giving up at a subconscious level. At many group-events this is a standard procedure, minimizing the risk for everybody involved. Even if one believes that one has full authority over one’s own life, a bad trip or worse is not a nice thing to do to your friends and fellow-psychonauts. Even if you trip by yourself, it helps to make this clear, write it down or say it out loud. “I will come back, sound and sane!”
Before the trip starts and sometimes at the onset of the actual trip, for many people there is a certain fear, a shivering uncertainty about this entering in what could be seen as a dark and forbidden realm. Such fear is not unhealthy, in fact one should be careful and a bit of fright is an honorable thing, only fools walk blindfolded into the unknown. So don’t be ashamed, but share that fear with others. The ritual aspects, which are described in greater detail later, are important here. Don’t push others into joining the trip if they don’t feel like it, maybe for them being with you as a `sitter’ is a valuable experience in itself. They will usually pick up a `contact-high’ anyway, the `hitchhiking’ effect is well known as one picks up a little bit of the energy of those being `high’.
Sitters: designated helpers
It does make sense to have one or more ‘sitters’. These are people who don’t take anything and are there to help, assist, get you home safe afterwards, drive the group to some nature spot, answer the phone or doorbell etc. Sitters could be therapists or just someone with a little more experience or maybe someone who just wants to see how it all goes. It is an experience in itself to be with tripping people, one can learn a lot about human nature. It is fun to be a sounding board for all those crazy ideas, a reality check!
To start the trip
There are different ways to ingests the mushrooms: raw, cooked or as tea. In the previous chapter we listed a few. Sometimes it is fun to prepare them together with the people that you’ll be tripping with. To stir or mix well is important. First of all this takes care of an even division of the active substances in the different doses and secondly you put some of your own energy in the shrooms. In this way you can also make a meaningfull ritual and add your own personal wishes and spells. Eat the mushrooms slowly, careful, with respect and chew them well; that is better for an even absorption of the active substances. It may strengthen the group-feeling and ease the trip to sit together now and share things like possible fears, expectations or something else that might bother you.
Onset of the trip
In the beginning of the trip it is best to just relax, maybe lie down and wait for what is going to happen. The sounds around you are very important. This can be silence, the usual noises of the surroundings or ‘natural’ music. You become very sensitive to music and the moods and the emotions that it can evoke. Look for music which is calm (ambient or new age), not too fast or too hectic and preferably not the music you listen to everyday. For deeper experiences by the so-called ethnic music of didgeridoo, Buddhist chanting or shamanistic drums can be very suitable. For some, drumming yourself can be wonderful, others will find it easily irritating. Anyway, now is the time to relax. Ready for take off, you have ingested the magic mushrooms and are curious about what is going to happen. You might have been reading about the “Doors of Perception” and wonder if they will open.
Discomfort: let it be
About ten minutes to one hour after the ingestion of the mushrooms you will start noticing the effect (this depends on the dosage, how well you have chewed and how empty your stomach is). Maybe some funny, unexpected or strange thoughts will pop into your head. This stage is characterized by the question: “Do you already feel something?” This often shows insecurity, you don’t realize it yet, but your defense-system is under attack and so you may start worrying. Is the door locked? Do you still have your keys? and so on. You may get nervous tics, you smell the fear that has not yet surfaced. If you now take your time and try to feel your body, as you listen to your breathing and your heartbeat, then you may notice how tense you are, maybe you jam your jaws together, your posture isn’t correct, or you don’t allow enough breathing space. Shake it all loose! Most people experience this stage, where the active substances must settle down in the body, as not particularly pleasurable.
During this phase you become conscious of your body, you can feel cold or nauseous or have a stomach-ache. This can be a bummer, some people get really sick for a short time. But if you have only eaten a little and don’t move around too much in this stage you’ll get less sick and in most cases this won’t last long. In rare cases people have to throw up. Let that happen, don’t try to keep the mushrooms in, if they don’t want to.
After about an hour the body will start feeling heavy, while you feel more free and happier and your ego (defense) will evaporate, become lighter and less noticeable. Body-awareness
When the initial physical effects of uneasiness pass, the focus will usually shift. First you will experience your body in a slightly different way. Most people become aware of the tension in the muscles. That is a valuable experience, as you realize that in normal life your face, your neck and shoulders are held in an unnatural position all the time, that you wear a mask and a posture that are not relaxed. As the drug helps you to feel your normal defense system, you become aware of those tensions, shields, defenses and can let go of them. There is usually a moment, that you feel how tense you are and how your muscles hurt, how tight your back is, your normal grin puts strain on your face and neck. A good time to become aware of energy-points and blockades in your body. Feeling is healing, notice this and try to remember later. Here a photograph or video-recording can help you. Looking at your face when it really did relax can help you do the same without the help of mushrooms.
The paddo-trip is often referred to as the giggle-experience. Many people have spontaneous outburst of giggles and laughter, sometimes hardly controllable and in general are more sensitive to the ridicule of what `normal’ people take so serious. On a mushroom-trip you look at what others do, at the way something is arranged, at your own hands and find that irresistibly funny, hence the giggle. Note that laughter or giggling is a very natural way to cope with something strange or frightening. If you don’t want to accept it, ridicule it! So the humor of the trip is partly just that, an altered and maybe less inhibited view of the world, but it also prevents you from really feeling what is there. When you laugh about the funny way someone lights a cigarette, holds the phone, maybe that is because you recognize your own clumsiness, mask or tic. That becomes clearer when looking at a video of a trip, mostly boring shots of people’s grimaces and giggles, although the deep understanding you feel in the trip is later mostly reduced to silly remarks. There is usually a core of truth there, so don’t dismiss your discoveries too soon. Many of the poems in this book came forth from psychedelic experiences.
Clarity but sometimes control-loop
In the trip you will, after the physical phase, become more aware of the emotional and mental plane. You will slowly become more conscious of things which you took for granted; looking at your hand, a flower or a painting, seeing the form as fluid, less stable and more of a subtle energy; you get a new perspective on things. This gradual process of sinking towards a more direct contact with your deeper senses, with your subconscious, can be accompanied by feelings of happiness, love, gratefulness or religious experiences but also by depression and despair. Especially at high doses negative feelings can surface as `what did I do to myself’, a feeling of insecurity or a total loss of the concept of time. Here you can start to panic and end up in a repetitive chain of thoughts, a `control-loop’, a cyclic process where you don’t dare to surrender and desperately try to keep things under control. This can last for hours and could be called a `bad trip’. But in fact you are working on shifting of boundaries, and the more you invest in this, the more openings and solutions you will find. Afterwards, bad trips often appear to have been good trips in retrospect; you learned something and you did not loose yourself in the rush. Once you are in the roller coaster it is virtually impossible to get out. The best is to accept the journey and try to enjoy it, often fear is the cause of a bad trip for mind and body. If you really can’t take it then the best is to start moving, or focus on ordinary things, like taking a shower, peeling potatoes, or cleaning. Try to stay in a pleasant environment, where you feel at ease. Going out and mix with people is not always a good idea. If you feel like throwing up, just do it, this will help you to get rid of the undigested alkaloids. Often your body knows best what is the right dose. Because magic mushrooms are very yin you can counteract the effect by taking some yang food, like some salted soup. An Aspirin can help too, it relaxes you and it is at least something, the placebo effect works great when tripping.
If you want to get out of the `control-loop’, relax, watch something beautiful like a flower, put on some music, call a good friend (or your mother, if you dare) and just admit that you are scared, that helps. And scream or cry, even if it was only because you realize that you have been the prisoner of your own fear for such a long time. Not daring to surrender in a trip is something, which happens in real life too, only there you often hide it.
You are now, slowly but surely, entering a magical world, noticing that things look different, that perspectives are shifting, the normal world gets distorted but in a interesting, fascinating way. You are out of the ‘Snellian illusion’, the way we have learned to see as if through an optical lens, you can have unlimited depth of field and even multiple focal points, so you can see your hand and something at a distance sharp at the same time. The things that you perceive around you, images and sounds, get more intense and wonderful, often surrounded by colorful rainbows. If you wave your hands, you see a kind of trail, like a video-effect. The colors make you feel as if you are in a Gothic church, maybe those people knew a bit more than we give them credit for! This is when the slightest turn, a bit of pressure here, focusing your attention on some minor detail will redirect your trip. What seemed fascinating a moment ago is now forgotten as you suddenly see the energy patterns of your hand, smell something that brings you back to childhood, this is wonderland. You’ll see – also with eyes closed – patterns that you recognize from Persian carpets or etched windows, but with colors that are way out of the normal range. That by the way might be how some birds or animals see the world all the time. If you go and sit in the dark or close your eyes you might start hallucinating. You see or hear things that can’t be there, a simple shadow is interpreted as a whole world, the painting you know so well is now a three-dimensional portal to a strange world. You feel like Alice in Wonderland, in an enchanted world that is vaguely familiar but strange in its immediate changes, like a lucid dream but more sensuous, more vivid. Your pupils have widened, this is also noticeable for others. In this phase you can feel very emotional and it is easy to focus on problems, memories or feelings. You might realize things about the roots and underlying traumas of your emotions, about the way you live or would like to live and about your relation with others, which up till now you were not able to see in a clear perspective.
Be quiet for a bit
When in a disco or on a party, one can easily suppress and ignore the enhanced body-awareness, kind of cover it with frantic dancing or movement. This disregard of the signals of your body could be the cause of overexertion and muscle pains afterwards. Now dancing or expressing yourself otherwise during a trip is a good thing, but when you do not listen to your body’s protest, you could end up with sore muscles or even worse, symptoms of dehydration or other physical problems. The feedback mechanism, that is so beautiful sensitized during a trip, is easily silenced, so take a break once in a while, find a chill-out spot and listen to the dance inside.
Then your ego, your stamp on what you perceive is no longer there, you can let go of the reality check. The world turns inwards and a moment comes that you see as much with eyes closed as with open eyes. Try to hold on to that, that moment where inside and outside are nearly identical. But then let go again!
Now the most beautiful phase of your trip is happening. You enter a world with doors, halls, patterns and images which you recognize from a church or a temple in Mexico, Egypt or Greece. Tunnels and doors, caves and spaces, portals and stairs; you fly from one color and sphere into another. Turn a bit and you fly from the one extravagant Indian palace to the next Arabian harem, from a rollercoaster to a beauty spot in nature.
The normal perspective is non-existent and it seems that your energy follows your attention. If you open your eyes you might think that they swapped the corners of the room; you feel estranged from the normal reality. But it is above all beautiful, fantastic, weird, fascinating, unusually colorful and vivid. You find out where artists (consciously or unconsciously) get their inspiration, you experience that these archetypal symbols, from crosses and circles to mythological figures, are also part of your dream world.
Let the mushrooms guide you during the trip. You can trust the `little brothers’ as such, or maybe realize that these are natural processes and that the subtle consciousness is always more right than the more coarse reality on the surface. Thoughts and images come and go in a continuous movie you watch in awe, and you are watching as well as starring as well as directing it. To enjoy the trip is the best, sometimes there are fears and scary images, but usually this passes quickly. See this as a magnifier of your mood, reactions and emotions. A slight stomach ache, because of some undigested food, might feel terrible. A pain here, a sore muscle there, your kidneys protesting, the system lets you know what’s wrong. Try to understand that also in real life you get similar signals, which your body handles while you are not aware of it. Now you are really sitting front row in your own theatre. So watch closely, the show is yours!
It is possible to be your own guide, the helmsman of your trip. The only thing that you need to do is to concentrate strongly on something you encounter or to go into the direction that you choose in the beginning. This can be a question about the past, the present or the future, a strong fear that you want to know more about, or a shamanistic trance voyage. Usually something will remind you of your agenda, but why not write it down beforehand. Use your fantasy: everything is possible!
Remember, you have the choice between the inward voyage, to continue dreaming with closed eyes, or the outward experience, to stay present, to look around and maybe do something. It may help to have certain objects nearby that inspire you. Depending on the purpose, these could be photos of people (alive or deceased), drawings, paintings, tarot cards, illustrated books (of other countries and cultures, animals or plants) or objects that have a symbolic or emotional value. Pick up a mirror, light some candles and take a good look at the one you see in the mirror; a lot of people and faces are part of you! You can just concentrate on any object and watch your own thoughts. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration. Allow it to happen… It is often fun to have some drawing or painting material nearby. Marvelous creations may happen! Silence, on your own
Quiet rest is an essential ingredient of the set and setting. Take time for yourself, apart from the attention you have for others or for external things. Of course it is beautiful to be in nature and to discover the world in all this new attire of colors, forms, influences and awareness, but also turn inwards. With eyes closed and without music, noise or other disturbances, listen to the music playing within yourself, to your breathing and your heartbeat, take off on an inner voyage to the inner depths. A solitary trip, totally on your own, can be very enriching, but some experience is needed. If this can be done outdoors, without interference from others, then you will rediscover nature, as it shows itself anew. Especially so-called power-spots (hills, volcano’s, a special creek, a well, a holy place) let you share in their exuberance and you will notice the diversity of forms and varieties at such locations.
Your body: healing
Often your sensitivity for physical sensations heightens. You are more aware of warmth, cold, a cool breeze, but also of the smell of your blankets or of the electric field of an apparatus. Your senses get magnified. Because often we are not very friendly towards the body, you can take advantage of the trip to get to know it a little better. This is possible by simply putting your attention on the different body parts. A suggestive tape with energy- or chakra-meditation is helpful and also allows you to feel the chi-energy. With a little practice that can also be felt afterwards and used in your ‘normal state’. This kind of tapes can be bought or you can make them yourself, just record some affirmations like “I am OK, I love myself, I have a place in this world”. Also try to listen to a tape with your parents’ voice on a trip or watch a video of them, you may notice unsuspected messages, a caring tone of voice, bringing back memories from the past. You can enjoy or at least experience your body through massage or body-work, this can be an unforgettable and very healing. In the special state of consciousness that you reach with psychedelics `becoming whole’ is a very interesting item to put on your agenda. When you have health problems that may be the main purpose of the trip. Many times you will discover that physical complaints are the anchors, the signals for emotional problems that you have to solve. We could write a book on this subject alone; how by visualization, the directing of your chi-energy and other exercises you can get information about the deeper causes of certain diseases or disabilities and if something can be done about them.
It is good to notice that the effect and direction of a trip may be quite different for different people. This is because of weight, digestion, sensitivity or simply because of one’s mood. The active substances influence your own personal filters, your defense mechanisms and ego-barriers. This depends on your state of mind, but also on your disposition and your type. Although everybody is unique and different, there are several ways to group and classify people. Here the idea of personality-types is useful. There are a few such personality-typologies, some very detailed, but an easy one is to divide people in head-heart-body types, each with their own personality-traits. This can help you to understand why others – also during a trip – behave differently. If you happen to be a head-type, somebody who is always concerned (thinking) about what can happen, then the trip will help you to overcome this and it will feel like a great rest in your head; the fears and thoughts don’t run rampant anymore. If you are an emotional (heart) type and normally vulnerable to the (negative) emotions and projections of others – understandably defensive about them – then it will be easier to make contact, you feel more open, more concerned with others and the world around you without feeling threatened. For body-types, who react from the body on instinctive and intuitive impulses, know anger and display a fight or flight-syndrome, the trip can smooth this out. They will easily get access to the very deep layers, where mystical experiences and the feeling of oneness, are possible. It is not so simple to know what kind of type you are; someone who is active in sports is not necessarily a body-type, but can be a head-type, overcompensating the lack of contact with the body by jogging or aerobics.
Many people experience a trip as a mystical experience. They feel a deep wordless contact between them and the world around, the universe in all its dimensions and manifestations. This is sometimes called the Unio Mystico, where the separation between inner and outer, self and other, heaven and earth is resolved. Not as a concept, but as an experience in the realm, where words have little meaning. Many scholars in this respect don’t make a big distinction between a chemically induced trip and a meditative trance, yoga or rituals, drumming or chanting. Some people will – during a mushroom trip – remember that they have had similar experiences before, as a kid, during traumatic experiences, accidents or in what some describe as `past lives’. For others this is really a new and unknown thing, it can shock them severely as this is not something that you are taught in school. It can come as a revelation, suddenly one’s whole concept of reality is changing. If this happens and a feeling of loneliness evolves, it helps to go back to the books, poems and music of the real masters. This unitive state is what people like Rumi, Kabir, Meister Eckhardt, Blake, Ginsberg, Watts talked about, and for that matter, Jesus or Buddha.
Not from outside
What we experience during a trip comes from inside! Despite external stimuli and a greater sensitivity to the energy, colors, sounds of things, people or animals, we color the experience ourselves, with our own subconscious beliefs, symbols, images and projections. The peaceful as well as the fearful images are creations of our own mind; what we experience during a trip is our own interpretation. Of course there exist a relation with the deeper, true reality, but how real is that, and how does this present itself, is it the truth or only our truth? Nobody can answer this question, at best we can believe in a certain form of ultimate reality at the core of the universe. During a trip it is possible to get the impression that the world is either hell or heaven, but realize that it is your own projection of reality, which can not easily overcome the duality of good or evil. We have a different, more sensitive filter in the psychedelic state or maybe we don’t have a filter anymore; we have come to our senses!
You can learn from a trip that inside and outside, heaven and hell, up and down can be very close to each other. Maybe then you will recognize one of the most important lessons of the little brothers, the sacrament of (self)-realisation: “Thou art That” (whatever you experience around you is what you yourself are), a teaching that has been written down, thousands of years ago, in the Vedas of ancient India. And maybe that was what Shakespeare really meant with ‘to be or not to be that, is the question’.
What you remember mainly afterwards are not the images, although you will now recognize certain geometrical patterns, figures and art from the sixties (and historic buildings) as psychedelic art, but the sensation of clarity; your thoughts were direct, clear, undisturbed. The ego disappeared, the veil of projecting could be lifted, ‘naked’ reality perceived.
The end of the trip: coming down
The so-called peak can last from one to four hours. Afterwards you have the feeling of coming down. You will become, step-by-step, more conscious of `normal reality’. If you feel like getting up in a hurry, don’t rush; try to remain calm and relaxed. Some think that this is the moment to eat or drink something or to talk with your fellow travelers. Maybe it is, maybe not, but maybe another person needs some more time, allow them a gradual re-entrance. That word is appropriate, as you really come back to earth from another world, as a psycho-naut from a strange planet. In any case do it gently, coming down is as important for the integration of the experience as the peak of the trip. (See the chapter Coming down). If you are in the company of others then it is fun to end the experience together in your some way. This can be done by sharing your experience or by silence, a ritual, a song, etc.
In about six to nine hours the effects will have disappeared and is it possible to sleep or to go home. Be careful driving for a while, your vision, sense of place and equilibrium are usually a bit distorted. Don’t drive while tripping: it is dangerous and illegal. If you took the magic mushrooms in the morning (the best time is around noon) you might not feel like sleeping afterwards. Enjoy your ‘clear’ head. Be sure not to have any obligations for the rest of the day. Bestow some tender loving care on yourself: take a nice shower or a bath, rest in the hammock, listen to music, write, read, walk, sauna, etc. Be sure to rinse off the sweat, it contains lots of toxins. If you took the trip in the afternoon or evening, then have a light snack at the end of the trip – you can be sure you’ll get hungry if you have been fasting – and afterwards you’ll probably get some sleep. The next day you’ll probably feel clear upon awakening and with less disturbing thoughts in your head. This is pleasant, but still, take it easy, you have borrowed energy from your body. Especially if you went dancing or so then it is easy to overstep your boundaries and to exhaust your reserves – energy that you need to replenish. Apart from this your body won’t give you much trouble, if you started out in a good physical condition. With continuous heavy use of mushrooms, without a resting period in between, you might get bothered by redness in the eyes, your skin may start itching and you will need more sleep.
For some the trippie feeling comes back after a while or happens as a series of waves, the reason for this may be some undigested pieces of mushroom in the stomach, but there is also a possibility of a kind of flash-back. The flash-back experience is not very well researched and some doubt it even exists for indole compounds such as LSD and psilocybin, but we do notice some after-effects that could be described as flash-back. In general if you hold on to the experience of the trip, keep it alive in your memory banks, it will be easier to bend reality, for instance, if you look deep in someone’s eyes. You’ll notice that the psychedelic state is also naturally there, maybe you don’t really need the chemistry of the magic mushrooms.
The chemical effects of a Paddo-trip can show up for about a week, but not in your urine. The Amanita does, in Siberia drinking of the urine of rich people taking the drug made the poor also enjoy it. The deeper – psychological – effect of the trip can still be felt after a few weeks and even after a few months. That what you saw and learned about yourself, others and the world can change your life. There is the risk that you will feel depressed for some time when you discover what you have been doing wrong during your whole life. Give yourself some time to integrate this discovery and be grateful that you still have a life in front of you to do better. Afterwards you will often think about these experiences and it is not always easy to deal with the overload; you’ll easily get an overdose of insights that you can’t really absorb. There is no need to deal with them immediately; it is good to let everything settle down. Some of the insights and ideas that you got will fade slowly away and get lost again in your subconscious. Others will stick and be a more clear inspiration. Undigested experiences (from the trip, or from your life) can linger on and be the cause of projections, therefore it is good to let go of them by writing them down, by working them out or by discussing them with others. Reliving past experiences helps, even if it sometimes painful, to get a new perspective on things. You get more or less rid of the problems and things you dealt with, they won’t influence your emotions or thoughts anymore; you let go of the emotional deadweight.
For some people it is easy to visualize; they think about an apple, close their eyes and they can see one. For others it is more difficult. But it seems that magic mushrooms are helpful for nearly everyone; you imagine the most beautiful images and you really see what you think about. A shroom voyage can be a real discovery in this respect, you can watch and learn how to deal with it, and you can try it later without taking anything.
Visualization is an age-old technique, which we are slowly rediscovering. In ancient religions this has been used extensively and if you have a deeper interest in, for instance, Buddhism, you will come upon it in different exercises and meditations. Buddhas and complex but symmetric images, often painted on silk (Tangkhas), are used in meditation practice. Circular mandalas also appear in other cultures and it can be very insightful to draw something similar during a trip. To reproduce the images with the eyes closed is an exercise in visualizing and that can turn out to be a very magical experience; according to the ancient Masters it is possible to influence reality or to impose your will on the material world. Maybe this sounds a bit weird, but during a trip you are definitely on magical grounds. You don’t need to think about witches or similar, but there is little doubt that there is a very particular relation between that what you make up in your mind or visualize and the outside reality, even scientists now take that serious.
Religions and spiritual schools all over the world use these techniques, but so do the management-gurus and happiness-peddlers. There is always a deep core of ‘visions’ and inner experiences at the heart of a tradition. There still exist people that adhere to the old earth religions and work specifically with imagination and visualization. They call themselves Wicca or Craft and also Voodoo in South America. Apart from other techniques they use visualization to strengthen their will. They do work with objects and totems, but these are merely ritual supports for what they plot in their heads. In most cases there is no bad intention, in this way one effectively seeks a positive spiritual dimension.
You can either visualize spontaneously – which is also possible without magic mushrooms – or you can use an external support. This can be a tape or a CD with suggestions (Egosoft Amsterdam has many). You can buy it or make it yourself, or you ask someone to help you. Some people are very good at that, they guide you, so to say, on the journey to the self. This is called `guided visualizations’; someone who as a guide helps, gives directions and stimulates you. The intention and the duration of such visualization is of course different. Everyone has different projects, problems, and wishes. In general there is a relaxation phase (induction), in which you relax, listen to music, and with the suggestion that, for instance, you are lying on a comfortable bed in nature, you listen to your breathing and relax all your body-parts. A possible suggestion: feel a warm colored light radiating on your feet and going upwards. The next phase is becoming active in your dream world. This can be a journey to the underworld, into your personal subconscious, via stairs to the basement, where you often encounter your parents or relatives, into a dark space where you can make peace with these deeper feelings, projections and thoughts. If you fly upwards, – the name fly agaric for Amanita muscaria was not so far-fetched – then you go to the overworld. Of course the guide can’t see these worlds for you, but it is good to search for a safe spot, a secret cave and take a look at what you keep hidden there. You can also visit your parents and other people (perhaps through messengers or gifts). A whole repertoire of archetypal symbols exists. They appear in all kind of legends, the journey of the young hero through the woods, the grotesque opponents, the castle with the stairs, the strange animals that threaten him, and eventually the princess – sometimes there is a frog to be kissed – and the new role in the world. This pattern is the same in all cultures.
Building your dream castle
A special technique, also used by the Arica Institute, is the building of your own dream castle through visualization. You can build this step by step; you start with a case for the things that you want to get rid off, you imagine a chair, a cabin and you start enlarging it step by step; eventually you build a whole dream castle, counselors included. Without support you will need several sessions, but some psychedelic stimuli help you to build faster. The idea behind this is that you can keep visiting your imaginary dream castle at a later time, to contact your deeper self. If this truly becomes part of you then you can ask for counsel or find solutions for problems. Although it requires some effort, it is a nice and powerful technique. It is not new, we know that St Augustin used a similar approach as a tool to memorize things and so do Tibetan monks.
Remember to close off nicely at the end of each visualization; to consciously return to where you were, to thank your guide; you won’t like to have some unfinished business haunting you. It is good to then get up for a while, do something different, have a drink and continue your trip.
5 – Visualizing
Experienced trippers know that coming down in a gentle way is very important. During the trip one lets go of the defense mechanisms, part of the whole ego is disappearing. That in itself is a great experience, as the world can be seen and felt as fresh and new, reality is let in anew.
When the peak of the trip is over and normal awareness takes over again, the world assumes its former shape and color, but you are for a while quite unprotected. The normal armor of insensitivity, ego and masks is not yet in place. This can be a great feeling and you would probably like to stay in that state for as long as you can, but then the world moves in. The telephone starts to ring, you switch on the television, run to the shop to get some food before they close, you die for a cigarette, feel the need to share your experience with those that are close to you but are also the ones that push your buttons, in short reality knocks!
Try not to give in too soon. Many a bad trip wasn’t a bad trip, but a badly managed coming down. In that sensitive, special state you are like a newborn baby, don’t spoil that. Taking time to relax, to integrate the experience in a nice and gentle way is the best gift you can give yourself and others. That way the positive discoveries, the newly discovered feedback-loops, the sense of wonder you had during the trip stay with you longer and may even remain a permanent part of your personality. People are, in that coming down phase, usually very nice, sensitive and sympathetic. You can recognize the really experienced trippers and psychonauts because they seem to have integrated those qualities. In that respect they resemble monks and spiritual people; those who, in different ways maybe, through meditation, isolation and exercise have wandered in the same space as the one you experience in a mushroom-trip. The process of gradual re-entering the normal perceptual state is, maybe even more than the trip itself, a chance to gently change your personality, alter your defense-mechanism, to let go of patterns that are no longer useful to you. A good metaphore is to see a psychedelic trip as similar to putting a bar of iron in the fire. As it heats up, it become soft and pliable, it can be bent in any form. That is what a blacksmith does, and as he takes it out of the fire he can use his hammer to form (and strengthen) it until it is cooled down and hard again.
The same with your personality, in the trip it is soft and even pliable. One can gently change it a bit. These changes however become cristallized and solid in the coming down stage and therefore one has to be extra careful. A too harsh exposure to the old patterns, having your buttons re-activated by people around you, phonecalls from parents, etc., is not so good. In this vulnerable state try to come down slowly and consciously. Ask yourself if your reactions to outside events really have to be as they were before. The whole concept of chill-out rooms at parties is in this respect really very good. One has understood that people taking all kinds of substances need a safe, quiet and comfortable place to come down from their high, whether that is induced by drumming, dancing or chemicals.