Copenhagen: Anarchy, Existentialism & Magic Mushroom Day
Hey, I’m back. September has been jam-packed. What have I been doing? Well for one I spent a week in Copenhagen. Here’s what I got up to in Denmark’s capital.
On my first day I visited Copenhagen’s counterculture haven: Freetown Christiania – a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district in the borough of Christianshavn. An abandoned military base that was taken over by squatting hippies in the 70’s, around 1000 people live in the area making up a community that has its own rules and where decisions are made through meetings.
It was my second time to visit and on arriving at ‘pusher street’ I was taken back to my first visit, 5 years ago, by the pungent smell of hash that fills the air there. Yes, weed and hash are openly sold and smoked there. It reminded me of Uruguay with people freely toking in public. Pretty cool.
I love the ideas and values that Christiania represents so it was great to be in that environment. I walked by the canal, got some green from a friendly seller, smoked a little too much weed and then walked around Neuhavn slightly paranoid before returning to Christiania to meet a friend for a veggie dinner. The food was great, paranoia less so. Ha. All good in the end.
On the Friday I attended a tripsitting workshop (yes, that’s a thing now), spent Saturday and Sunday at the Psychedelic Symposium, and on Monday I went to see Daniel Pinchbeck talk about Social Ecology at a gallery in Christiania. These were all awesome and warrant their own posts – more to come.
Kierkegaard & Existentialism
On Tuesday I visited the graveyard of Søren Kierkegaard. Born in Copenhagen, Kierkegaard was the founder of the philosophical school of existentialism and I took the opportunity to explore some of his ideas whilst there. I’m really glad I did, taking time for philosophy is always rewarding. Very briefly, here are some ideas from him I enjoyed that I thought would be fun to share.
“Truth Is Subjectivity”
Kierkegaard didn’t believe in the utmost importance of objective absolute Truth, but rather of personal truth – how one relates oneself to Truth – and what you experience subjectively: feelings and emotions. 4+4=8 may be an objective truth, but is it as important to your existence and experience of life as how you feel today? Maybe you’re nervous for a first date, or pissed because someone cut in front of you in line. These feelings are crucial to how we experience life, and are what make up our existence – they are ‘existential’. They are our lived truth.
“The Crowd Is Untruth”
At odds with the prevailing intellectual norms of his time, Kierkegaard was a loner and what we would now call a non-conformist. As a social critic he challenged many widely held beliefs of his time and told us that just because an idea is broadly accepted does not give it a sense of credibility – it actually points to the probability that it is an untruth. The individual should never defer one’s personal responsibility to the crowd – he must think for himself.
Naturally then, Søren emphasised the importance of the individual. He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely, or “authentically”. He highlighted the importance of personal choice and commitment. Here are a couple of quotes I enjoy that this brought to mind:
“A sensitive and honest-minded man, if he’s concerned about evil and injustice in the world, will naturally begin his campaign against them by eliminating them at their nearest source: his own person. This task will take his entire life.” – Fernando Pessoa
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self” – Aldous Huxley
Yes, I love quotes. Here’s one more from Kierkegaard himself which I think is totally relevant today:
“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
Yep. Think about that for a minute.
9/20: Psilocybin & Hash
My last day in Copenhagen was Wednesday 20th September, or 9/20 – Psilocybin mushroom day. Not as celebrated as 4/20 or bicycle day yet but of course, I was down.
I tried ‘Lemon Tek’ – mixing dried ground shrooms with fresh lemon juice and letting them soak for 30 minutes before knocking it back. Lemon Tek is supposed to intensify the trip but the shrooms I had were quite weak so I can’t really comment on that. I will say that it was a nice way to consume them though.
3g and a hash joint sent me into a spacious, thoughtful, and analytical headspace as I lay in bed listening to ragas by Ravi Shankar. My stream of thoughts was moving quickly and I used the time to think some things through that have been on my mind recently – related to my personal life and my life’s direction – with a nice level of insight and novelty. I didn’t plan on this type of session going into the trip but it naturally went there so I went with it. This main part of the trip was very mentally stimulating and felt productive, though there has since been a level of amnesia that I suspect came from the hash.
There were too, of course, ventures into some broader themes. ‘One must be capable of standing alone’ is a note I have scrawled in my pad from the session – Kierkegaard’s emphasis on the individual and how it relates to independence clearly came through. I love when an idea really hits home like this, it’s so satisfying.
As the thought-spurring effects of the hash faded off, I tuned in more to the music. Some of Ravi’s sitar lines just seemed to embody the essence of ‘play’. I could almost see the music as a child dancing. Very fun.
Three takeaways from the trip:
- When taken with a low dose, hash is good fuel for a thinking, analytical trip. Probably good for a problem solving session or making a plan of action.
- Noise cancelling headphones are the shit.
- Ravi Shankar’s The Spirit Of India is awesome.
Celebrating Mushroom Day – A 9:20 Event
After coming down I had a cup of tea with a couple of friends and we cycled to a massive old shipyard-warehouse for an event celebrating International Mushroom day. Outside of the city to the East, we pulled up to the container leaking flashing lights and pumping music. Upon entering I was greeted by a friendly Norwegian guy who straight up told me he had some mushrooms I could eat for free. Ha. I told him thanks and that maybe I’d find him later.
The warehouse was a huge indoor skatepark that had been separated into different areas. In the main area was a DJ and dancefloor, psychedelic visuals projected onto a wall, and an organic smoothie and tea bar. The event was alcohol-free and I guess this might have played a part in the nicely balanced ratio of guys and girls. The atmosphere was chilled and friendly though I can’t say much for the Danish climate at that time of night – a little too chilled.
There was a foam pool (the kind that skaters can practice tricks into) that people were swinging from a rope into, another area showing documentaries on psychedelics with mattresses for people to lie down on, and an outside area with a fire for people to sit around and chat whilst passing doobs. Having not yet truly partaken in mushroom day, my friends got into the spirit of the event and we ended up staying for a while and settling by the fire before finally heading home in the early hours. Overall it was a fun event and I hope to go to more like it in the future.
The cycle home was littered with stops to ‘appreciate the beauty’ and by the time we’d arrived home and said our goodbyes I had just enough time to pack my bag and have a coffee before heading to the airport for my morning flight home.
What a week. Copenhagen, thank you!
Hello 🙂 it is a great post, may I ask where is the place for celebrating 9/20?
Hi Carlos, thanks 🙂 Are you looking for somewhere to celebrate in Copenhagen this year?
Yes I am 😀 I think it is a great coincidence that I stumbled here before the september 20 and I just arrived to Copenhagen
Hi Carlos, a friend told me about this event, could be good, have a good one 🙂
Thank you very much John,I also stumbled upon it in the morning 🙂