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awesome psychedelic how to have a good trip

So, you’re taking a psychedelic trip? Great, I’m sure you’ll have a blast. Here are the basics to a successful flight and how to avoid a bad trip, whether it’s with LSD, magic mushrooms, or San Pedro. Follow these and you’re onto a winner.

Interested in a private and legally facilitated 1-1 psilocybin experience? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

Respect The Trip

Sorry to start with a boring one but it needs to be said. Know that psychedelics are powerful substances and be prepared for a strong experience. It can be tough finding yourself in a trip that is more intense than you expected but if you’re prepared for a big experience then you’ll be ready to handle it. Psychedelics are different to other types of drugs so if you think it’ll be like weed or MDMA, think again. Consider your dose carefully.

Clear Your Schedule

Free yourself of obligations and unwanted distractions. Let go of to-do lists. Nagging thoughts of jobs or chores won’t help. Give yourself the whole day free and ideally the next day too. Switch your phone off – I was once with a friend who got a call from an upset girlfriend right as we were coming up and it marred the start of the trip. It was nothing that couldn’t have waited until the next day.

Choose Your Company Carefully

Be with people you trust and like. You’ll feel good in their company and it’ll be reassuring if things start to go south. Avoid abrasive friends, large crowds and others who aren’t also tripping, with the exception of a sitter. If you’re planning to fly solo, do your homework – see links at the bottom of this page.

Be Positive

Psychedelics are fun! Go in with a smile on your face and see it as an exciting adventure and an opportunity to learn. Not to say that there won’t be any difficult moments but this will push you in the right direction. If you find yourself in a tough spot just remember that you are in control and can change the direction of the trip at any time. It normally just takes a deep breath and a smile to bring you back to a good place.

Comfort!

Wear your most comfortable clothes, think loose, soft and warm. Being physically comfortable will help to relax you. If you’re going out, a blanket or something to lie on is nice. If you’re staying in, have a space where you can lie down and stretch out.

Don’t Fight It

You decided to take the substance, you took it, and now you’re having the experience. So don’t now decide that you don’t want it and try to resist, you’ll only struggle and make things worse. Open yourself to the experience and explore! As a wise man once said: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way

A little preparation can make the journey so much more seamless and stress free. If you think you might want to write, have a pad and pen ready. Draw? Paper and colours. If you’re planning to go out for a bit, leave a packed bag by the door. Have some snacks ready. The time on the trip should spent enjoying it, not looking around for things or packing bags. Set it up to be that way.

The same applies with music. Make playlists ahead of time so all you need to do is press play and enjoy – you won’t have to continually play DJ. Navigating spotify and the entire history of recorded music whilst tripping balls isn’t that fun. If you’re tripping with a friend, make a playlist together beforehand. Having a ‘chill’ playlist on hand is always good, you can listen to it at the start for a gentle glide in and you can put it on again…

If It Gets Too Much

If possible, first get your self to a quiet or secluded place.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember, you’ve taken a drug and the effects are temporary, they will wear off. Focus on your breathing and relax your body.

If that doesn’t help, change something. Change the music or switch it off. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re watching a video, try drawing. Go to another room or outside. If you’re with others, try spending some time alone – just be sure to tell them where you’re going and not just disappear. You don’t need to struggle through whatever is happening, just make an alteration to your situation.

If it feels like what’s happening will last forever, write down the time, put on a chill track and listen to it, then look again. You’ll see that time is passing and can reassure yourself that this will end. Things will go back to normal. Until then, enjoy the rest of your trip!

Safe Travels!

Have I missed anything? Leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

Session Games People Play: A Manual For The Use Of LSD – Good one for groups – Psychedelic Frontier
6 Steps For Helping A Friend Through A Bad Psychedelic Trip – Zendo Project
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys – James Fadiman

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If I decide to ingest a psychedelic substance, such as LSD or psilocybin, I am committing a criminal action and risk being punished by law: But why?

  • Are these substances actually dangerous?
  • Is their prohibition to protect the public?
  • Are these laws just?
  • And do they benefit society?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is no, and that current laws which deem psychedelics illegal to be a transgression of freedom. These might sound like big claims, but I’m going to back them up with some help from our trusty friends science and logic. So, I believe a good place to start is to ask…

question mark

Why Are Psychedelic Substances Illegal?

The official answer, from those who created and enforce the law, (the government), goes like this;

“Current drug laws are there to protect citizens. Harmful, dangerous, and highly addictive substances are restricted by law to protect the public. Certain substances are illegal to prevent people from harming themselves and others.”

Sounds pretty logical, right? But if drug laws really exist to protect the public then it would logically follow that the most harmful substances carry the harshest punishments – and the least harmful would be legal. An assessment of harm will be useful here.

Assessing Harm: How Dangerous Are Psychedelics?

Let’s take a look at this chart which shows the results of a 2010 study in which drug-harm experts ranked 20 illegal and legal drugs on 16 measures of harm to both the user and wider society.

Drug Harm Chart

Source: David Nutt, Leslie King, Lawrence Phillips, “Drug Harms in the UK: A Multicriteria Decision Analysis,” The Lancet, Nov. 1, 2010

A more detailed breakdown of the harm analysis can be seen here:

detailed breakdown drug harms chart

The two psychedelics in the list, mushrooms (which contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin) and LSD are two of the least harmful substances. This list may be surprising or even shocking, but just take a moment to consider how our perception of drugs is influenced by hearsay and cultural norms as opposed to actual experience or valid scientific data. An amusing article which illustrates this point can be read on Vox here – Imagine If The Media Covered Alcohol Like Other Drugs

Making The Distinction: Psychedelics Are Their Own Class

If you’ve grown up in the Western world like me then you’ve probably been led to instinctively lump most illegal drugs into the same category – ‘dangerous and to be avoided’. But the truth is that there is an enormous difference between the effects and potential dangers of different illegal drugs. I’m sure you’d agree that heroin is more dangerous than weed, for example.

Psychedelics – like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, and ayahuasca – also known as hallucinogens, are their own class and shouldn’t be confused or lumped in with other categories of drugs. Making this distinction is crucial when considering their harms and understanding the argument for their legalization. Here’s a chart which shows potential for dependence and the active/lethal dose ratio (how close the active dose of a drug is to its lethal dose).

active lethal dose dependence chart drugs

Source: Gable, R. S. (2006). Acute toxicity of drugs versus regulatory status.

Drug Law is Irrational

With all this in mind, it’s clear that the prohibition of psychedelic substances is not based on their potential for harm. The laws that prohibit them are not based on any scientific or logical analysis, and seen in this light can be considered irrational, contradictory, and massively biased towards users of legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol.

So should our governments make alcohol and tobacco illegal, and put the punishment for their use in line with their potential for harm? I don’t think so, seeing as prohibition didn’t and still doesn’t work. Even if it did, this would be the stuff of a nanny state, interfering unduly with personal choice and treating its adult citizens like irresponsible children incapable of making such decisions for themselves.

The fair and logical way forward is to legalize psychedelics – in the interests of good sense and individual freedom. And this is what I believe is at the heart of this debate; freedom.

Psychedelic substances must be legalized in the name of freedom.

That may sound hyperbolic, but hear me out.

Freedom

braveheart freedom

FREEDOM!! But Braveheart jokes aside, current drug policy boils down to this:

I am not free to put what I want in my own body.

That’s it. I do not enjoy freedom over my own body. Think about it. Current law dictates that I should be thrown into a cage for the choices that I make about what I put inside it. The laws that prohibit me from making these personal choices undermine the whole notion of freedom that is fundamental to our sense of what is right and just in the West. I mean, we call ourselves the free world! And this is about more than just the body. It’s also about something just as, if not more, sacrosanct to who I am, an area that I as a free citizen must surely enjoy full sovereignty over: my mind.

Cognitive Liberty

LSD placebo brain scan images

Images showing brain scans from a 2016 study

Psychedelics alter the activity and chemistry of the brain and in doing so they alter consciousness. In other words, they change how we perceive reality at the most basic level. Their outlaw effectively means that we are not free to explore other modes of awareness or perception – we are not permitted to explore the altered states which psychedelics facilitate; states that enable us to plumb the depths of our own minds.

How can it be that we are not allowed to explore a domain so personal to ourselves? And in doing so face persecution, financial penalty and physical restriction? To me this is a crazy situation. These laws fly in the face of any idea that we are truly free. If we are to enjoy genuine freedom then we must be able to make our own reasoned choice as to what we put into our own bodies and in doing so, how we may choose to alter our perception of the world. Without this freedom of choice, we are not in fact free. Fundamentally, if you support freedom, you support the legalization of psychedelic substances.

Statue of Liberty

So where did these repressive laws come from? Surely they made sense at one time, at least when they were created…

The Origin Of The Law

The first country to outlaw psychedelics was the USA. Nixon signed the controlled substances act in 1970 which put most psychedelics on Schedule 1, prohibiting their use for any purpose. The decision to outlaw psychedelic substances was a move by the US government to stifle the anti-war and civil rights movements of the time, with the laws used to persecute, arrest, and make examples of leading figures of counter-cultural protest movements which growing use of LSD was linked with. It was a move the government made to ensure stability, or increase control – whichever way you choose to look at it.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. […] We could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
– John Ehrlichman, Former domestic policy chief and adviser to Nixon

Nixon launched the war on drugs and the appropriate government propaganda was spread to assure the public that these substances are dangerous and that it’s in society’s best interest that they be made illegal. Governments all around the world followed suit and psychedelics have been illegal and demonized in the Western world since. Nearly 50 years later we are still left with these laws, along with the fear and hysteria that surrounds them.

The Law Harms

As I said earlier, prohibition didn’t and doesn’t work, people continue to take drugs because it’s a natural human (and animal) urge to want to change our consciousness. By making psychedelics illegal we are actually making them more dangerous as there is no regulation or quality control of the substances and no designated establishments for safe or supervised use.

pub public house scotland

A pub – a licensed premises and designated space for enjoying a beer or other alcoholic drink

Bad experiences may also be influenced by a level of paranoia that might come when involved with a taboo and illegal activity. The creation of these black markets also means that all revenue from their sale is untaxed – money which could be going to drug education.

The Importance Of Education & Information

Education is a fundamental aspect of harm reduction when it comes to any potentially dangerous activity, not just drugs. This is why we have to get a driving license before we can take a car on the road, or have health and safety briefs or training for adventure activities like scuba diving, bungee jumping or skydiving. By and large, more education means safer. This is true of psychedelic experiences too.

Bungee jumping

Difficult or overwhelming experiences occur largely because someone is unprepared for what they experience or because they’ve taken it in an inappropriate setting. Rather than being a problem inherent to the substance, it’s because most people just don’t know any better.

Consider your own education of psychedelics, at school or otherwise. Now if you were to take LSD, how would you approach the experience? If you weren’t sure, would you feel comfortable asking a family member or work colleague for advice? How would you feel about searching online for advice if you were on a computer in a shared office or where someone might access your browser history? The stigma around the subject is a hindrance to the passing of information on the topic as it means that discussion is hidden and only talked about behind closed doors. You might even have friends or family members who have their own experiences and could offer advice – but as a taboo subject, you might not dare bring it up. The fact of their illegality only adds to the stigma and even those who take these substances will be afraid to share their experiences and knowledge.

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Psychedelics’ illegality and stigma stifle honest and open discussion of them – an informal education that not only reduces harm but can help to maximize the potential benefits of these substances.

Positive Potential Of Psychedelics

Psychedelics show incredible medicinal potential and are currently being studied in research settings for a wide range of treatments including addiction, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and also as a tool for psychotherapy. Early results are very promising. For example, in studies with psilocybin on terminal cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety, 83% of participants reported increases in well-being or life satisfaction.

John Hopkins Psilocybin Study

Research setting for a study into the effects of psilocybin to treat depression and acute anxiety in cancer patients. John Hopkins University.

As well, psychedelics have served as inspiration for some of the greatest minds in history, be they writers, musicians, or nobel-prize winning scientists. The list of psychedelic users who have had a profoundly positive impact on society and the progress of humanity is extensive (link), and many have even credited their creativity and greatest discoveries to psychedelic use.

steve jobs iphone lsd

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life.” Steve Jobs

“What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR? I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”
Biochemist Kary Mullis on his nobel-prize
  • Read more about the positive applications of psychedelic use here

Considering all the possible applications of psychedelics and their potential to improve lives and benefit society, we might even go so far as to consider that their prohibition is a serious hindrance to the progress of humanity.

The Law On Psychedelics Is An Important Issue

I understand that this is a contentious issue but its something I think needs to be talked about. I sincerely believe that it is not only with the interests of harm reduction and justice that this class of substances be decriminalized, but that it is fundamentally an issue of freedom. If you have made it this far and still believe there is good reason for psychedelics to be illegal, please get in touch, letting me know your thoughts and the reasons for your opinion. I’m open to new information and would like to be made aware of any arguments or points of view that I might’ve missed. I genuinely welcome the discussion and would like to believe that I would be willing to reassess my stance if I see that I’ve made a mistake.

If you’re not convinced either way or feel some resistance to the ideas that I’ve presented here, I ask that you consider at least some of what I’ve said might be true, and to then make your own investigation into the matter. There is increasing amounts of information about these substances online, including recent scientific research, their medical applications, and also the wider discussion of drug policy and reform. I’m not going to feed you any more sources, I’m sure you know how to do a google search 🙂

That’s it! Thanks for reading.

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spinning lights

Salvia Divonorum. The freaky batshit cousin of the psychoactive family.

If I had to describe salvia as a character it’d be the cosmic joker. He’ll flip you upside down inside out, pull your pants down and then whizz you on a merry-go round tour of the freakshow corners of the cosmos. He’ll suck you through a swirly straw to his lair, scream in your face, lick your ass crack and then spit you back out whilst he cackles in the background.

Sound weird? It is.

Amongst my experiences, the only things that have matched salvia in terms of brute intensity and weirdness are DMT, and nitrous oxide when combined with LSD and MDMA.

Salvia divinorum Herba de Maria

The salvia plant

Not Fun

I’ve smoked salvia a few times in my life, and like 99% of people who try it, did not find it a fun or enjoyable experience. As such its not one that most people really feel drawn back to. This is also true for myself yet I’ve returned a few times purely for reasons of psychonautic curiosity. Here I’m going to recount my first and most intense experience, now many years ago, which was also my first ever truly powerful drug experience (whilst salvia is a hallucinogen, its not a psychedelic – it’s a dissociative).

Background

I was in my final year of university, some of my housemates had bought an at-the-time legal drug called salvia from a local head shop. I had no idea what salvia was or what it would do. None of us did. But I thought sure, why not? I’m curious and like new experiences. A couple of friends had smoked it before me up in one of their rooms, taken small hits and felt a slight head high. They came down and one of them told me I should take as big a hit as possible. Two factors led me to the freaky ass experience that would totally kick my ass; the first was that I listened to my friend’s advice, the second was that being in the prime stoner era of my life, I was completely fluent in bong use and had the lung capacity for huge hits (a skill that would serve me well years later for breaking through on DMT). So with a few friends sat around my room watching, I filled my lungs, and held it in ’til I could hold no more.

spinning lights

Hysteria —> Reality Shattered

As I exhaled I felt reality caving in at the sides. I lifted my right hand up in front of me and my fingers grew out long like Mr. Stretch, extending and flopping about. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I started laughing, I was amazed that this was possible.

Then it happened; I got the baseball bat in the face that salvia will knock you out with.

The room collapsed in on itself, the walls merged and I went to some dark place with white lights spinning around me – this place wasn’t governed by any of the same laws or principles of physics or gravity that I was accustomed to, I saw lines of light in shapes that were inverting like the double rotations of a tesseract –  it was totally weird. I felt like my brain had been turned inside out and I’d been spun around a million miles an hour. My perception became hazy and confused, scattered all over the place – I was fucked. I don’t really remember more of what happened here but my friends told me that after my initial giggles I began to laugh hysterically like a total madman. Apparently I was laughing so hard that it didn’t even sound like someone laughing anymore – I was shout-laughing ‘HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!’. Then in a split-second, I stopped laughing, and a look of panic came onto my face.

lights circle spinning

Total Confusion

Salvia had smashed me so hard that at this point I’d completely forgotten that I’d even smoked anything. I wasn’t even really aware of who or where I was. Salvia had stripped me of my identity and memory and then tossed me back into the room dazed and confused. Salvia will do this – it will let you have your memories and identity back, but not immediately, only slowly- gradually filling in the blanks over a few minutes. Spat back out from Salvia’s whirlwind I was aware that I was a guy with some friends in a room, but not much else. Instinctively I was trying to make make sense of my situation, to fill in the blanks and find some context. Sweating a little, I felt paranoid – they all knew something that I didn’t (which was true, they all knew what was actually going on). These guys were all sat down and looking at me. I realised that I was the only one standing up.
‘You guys are all sitting down’ I said, recognizing a pattern. ‘Can I sit down too?’
They told me I could and I took a seat. Then it came back to me that the room we were in was my bedroom. ‘Actually this is my room, isn’t it? Yeah, this is my room. Get out, this is my room, get out!’
And as my confused friends started leaving the room I added…

‘….except for Paul, cause he’s recording guitars’. Around that time I was recording songs on my laptop with Paul, and by some weird quirk that knowledge had vaguely re-entered the back of my mind.

I sat down again and over the next few minutes everything came back to me – who I was, where I was, and most importantly, the missing piece of the puzzle that made everything else make sense – that I’d smoked some crazy ass drug that had completely fucked me over. If someone had told me that earlier I think the whole experience would’ve been less confusing. I went back out and invited my friends back into my room and we all had a laugh over the ridiculous episode.

Back To Earth

earth in space

After the relief of knowing what the hell was going on again and calming down, I was still totally blown away by the whole experience. This was my entry into extreme non-ordinary forms of consciousness and I had well and truly jumped in at the deep end. While the trip wasn’t enjoyable in itself, it was still mind blowing. I couldn’t believe how smoking an obscure plant could alter my perception of reality so much. For the next hour I was hyped up and couldn’t stop talking about it.

Notes on Salvia

My subsequent smokes of salvia, whilst not matching my original in terms of intensity, do share a few common attributes.
– Being so caned that I forget that I’ve even taken a drug
Confusion – very foggy and unclear perception, unsure of what’s actually going on
Distorted sense of gravity (& other fundamental laws of physics)
– Salvia signature – there is a weird ‘salvia-ness’ to the feeling. Inexplicable, but I think the strong distinctive (and horrible) taste of salvia adds to this, its like the backdrop to the whole thing.
– Did I mention, freaky? (Great strange trip report on reddit here)

Parting Advice

If you are smoking salvia, be prepared, it’s pretty full on. It you want your return to be a little more comfortable, I suggest having a friend there to remind you that you’ve taken salvia, reassure you that you’ll be fine and return to normal, and so in the meantime – dive into the experience and see what you see.

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Have you smoked salvia? Let us know your thoughts on this bizarre herb in the comments below.

colour universe

Smoking DMT was one of the single most intense and insane experiences of my life. Going in I figured that it would be bigger than I could possibly imagine and boy was I right. Here I will attempt the impossible: to describe the experience in words.

To summarize, it was:

  • Overwhelming – Monumental scale
  • Utterly bizarre – As I said during the trip – ‘just fucking absolutely insane’
  • Unimaginably complex – Mind. Blown.
  • Interdimensional travel – I didn’t get ‘high’, ‘fucked up’, or ‘wasted’. It was as if I was zapped through a wormhole to a different universe.

Preparation

I approached the experience with great curiosity and respect. I wanted a full breakthrough experience and did my homework on the technique. I had a friend sit for me in a quiet, empty apartment and spoke with him about my expectations beforehand. I meditated directly before. And I filmed the whole thing, so I could get a sense of timeline, see myself through the experience, and so I could start talking about the experience as soon as possible and have my thoughts captured – it is well known that the experience slips away very quickly and becomes hard to recall, like a dream. It worked, so I’ve written this with the aid of notes and the video footage.

Smoking

smoke universe

I took the first huge hit, things started feeling wobbly. I took the second and my vision started becoming warped and I could tell it was really kicking off. I handed the bong to my friend because I could tell it would be difficult to hold for much longer. McKenna’s advice ran through my mind, that even though it really doesn’t feel like you need anymore, you need to push for the third hit to fully break through. My friend held the bong and lit for the third hit while I inhaled. I lay back and closed my eyes.

Blank

At this point I can’t remember what happened. Total blank. Here there is a period of 3 minutes that are unaccounted for and missing from my memory. The video shows me lying with my eyes closed and still breathing just as if I were asleep. The next thing I became aware of was an uncomfortable sensation. I wasn’t sure what it was or where it came from and it took me an eternity to think of what I needed, and then as I opened my eyes, the word that I was looking for came to me. With much struggle I faintly mumbled the word ‘water’ – my throat was dry as hell. My friend jumped up and handed me a glass of squash, at which point I threw up into my mouth, but I was still on another plane – brilliant streams of luminous colour shot out like lightning as I vomited. My buddy grabbed a bowl and held it in front of me while I spewed. It was quick and I lay back again. It was from this point that I again became aware that I had taken DMT. As I lay back and closed my eyes, I entered another universe.

Weird, Intense, Beyond Comprehension

Completely insane. Utterly alien. Wholly bizarre. So far removed from any other type of experience I’ve ever had. Next level freaky. This was interdimensional travel to a parallel universe, another tunnel of reality. Everything was of colours I’ve never seen before and at an unfathomable level of complexity and detail. I was entirely overwhelmed by the scale of what I was experiencing. It was information overload and then some. This wasn’t a human experience, humans aren’t capable of perceiving this much information.

I’ll try to explain it by way of analogy. Imagine your brain is plugged in to a machine that feeds you every single living person’s experience of the world, at the same time. So you are plugged in to 7 billion pairs of eyes and ears, every thought, emotion and feeling – receiving all that information as it is happening in real time. As well, you get a live feed of every single computer that is running, plus a direct download of the entire contents of the internet- every page, video, photo- every last piece and byte of information. You then make connections between all of this information and how it all relates to build a real time, continually shifting picture of reality in an immersive experience. DMT is on that level in the informational sense, and more bizarre than I can think of a way to describe.

Getting past the initial shock I began to come to terms with the experience and drew long deep breaths. I lay there and admired the DMTverse in awe.

colour universe

The DMTverse

It was a grand expansive space – dark but shot through with brilliant colours. The fabric of everything was made up of incredible and perfectly mathematical patterns. I had a panoramic view of some kind of organic factory, I saw massive cogs made of an earth-like substance churning. The whole scene was forever subtly shifting, metamorphosing and with absolute synergy between all things – everything moved in accordance with everything else and energy seemed to be flowing symbiotically between all things. Everything was overflowing with life and energy. I saw inscriptions of letters from an alien alphabet that seemed to have been made by intelligent life. And then I was in a…

City Of The Future

Everything was so advanced. I’m not talking flying cars or impressive gadgetry or any technology that we might imagine humanity might ever possess. I’m not even talking how it might be if we were to time travel and show a smartphone to a caveman. The jump in the level of complexity was like the gap between the first formations of atoms in the earliest stages of the formation of the universe, through the birth of stars and the formation of solar systems, to when molecules combined to create living organisms. Entropy over 9 billion years, then. It’s hard to fathom how anyone could even experience this, but that’s the mystery of DMT.

“It may be that DMT makes us able to perceive what physicists call “dark matter” – the 95 per cent of the universe’s mass that is known to exist but that at present remains invisible to our senses and instruments.”
– Graham Hancock

Somehow Sober

What’s interesting is that I maintained a sober cognition and consciousness throughout the experience. It was unique to other drugs in this regard. For example, when I drink alchohol I get inebriated and my cognition gets sloppy, with MDMA I feel euphoria and more loved up, when I smoke weed I get stoned or high and sometimes anxious, with salvia I’ll get confusion. However, with DMT, there was no ‘druggy’ effect, not dazed, confused, fucked up – it was just like I had been zapped through a portal into a parallel universe. Like my consciousness had just been picked up by a cosmic deity and thrown out into a world that was wholly other. Whereas other drugs enhance our existing reality – dulling it, numbing us to certain sensations, or amplifying it, making colours more vivid or lines more wavy – this was just transition to a different reality.

If you’ve ever seen the 90’s movie Contact, that’s a great analogy. You really do go through the wormhole on that inter-dimensional journey that Jodie Foster goes on. In fact I felt so much that that part of the movie was the perfect analogy for the experience that I googled it after to see if anyone else had made the same connection, and sure enough, loads of other people had commented the exact same thing.

Real?

Is the experience real? I don’t think anyone can really answer that question but I can say how it felt. It felt absolutely real. It felt more real than anything else I’ve ever experienced – including my experience of typing this at my computer right now. This is where you start to go down the rabbit hole. I’ve had hallucinations from other drugs, like mind-movies, but this was nothing like that. Like I said before, it was as if I were just in another place. It wasn’t as if I was observing pictures or patterns, but that I was IN another universe, which is actually a deeper level of reality – deeper in the sense that it’s truer than the one we normally inhabit.

Plato’s Allegory Of The Cave plato allegory dmt

If it really is a deeper level of reality, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is the perfect analogy. The world as we understand it in a normal waking consciousness is the cave, a normal person is the prisoner, and DMT is what drags the prisoner upwards and out of of the cave. I see the part of my trip which is blank in my memory as the part in which the prisoner is blinded by the radiant light of the sun and is unable to see even one of the things now said to be true.

This fits in with the DMT experience being far richer and more detailed than our everyday experience.

No Contact

People often report contact with other entities and beings. To be clear, nothing like that happened to me. Everything seemed to be teeming with life and energy but I didn’t have any communication or contact with beings of any kind.

Ineffable, Unimaginable

DMT is the definition of ineffable. Trying to describe it seems akin to trying to describe colours to a blind person. That’s why I’ve used so many analogies and said things that don’t totally make sense here. That’s DMT for you. There is simply no imagining what it’s like. If you want a peek behind the cosmic curtain you’ll just have to go see for yourself.

san pedro wachuma cactus powder

My experience of drinking San Pedro in the Sacred Valley was an incredibly powerful, humbling and beautiful experience. I would seriously recommend it to anyone inclined to such experiences. It was a highlight of months of travel in South America and so in the spirit of sharing information, I’ve written this guide to taking San Pedro in Peru.

Interested in experiencing psychedelics in a legal and private setting? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

What is San Pedro?

San Pedro is a species of psychedelic cactus native to the Andes – scientific name Echinopsis pachanoi. Also known as Wachuma, the cactus contains the psychedelic compound mescaline, also found in the peyote cactus and the source of inspiration for Aldous Huxley’s classic ‘The Doors Of Perception’. The Spanish name San Pedro (Saint Peter) came after the Spanish conquest and refers to the disciple from the bible who holds the key to heaven – the cactus named after him as it’s believed to allow users to reach heaven whilst still on earth.

Echinopsis pachanoi san pedro wachuma cactus

Echinopsis Pachanoi AKA San Pedro

Why in Peru?

If you’re interested in taking San Pedro, Peru is a great country to do it. The cactus has a history of use in Andean traditional medicine going back thousands of years and is a part of the native culture. Like ayahuasca, it is not viewed as a ‘drug’ in the same way that it is in the west, but rather as a plant medicine, an ally, or a teacher. The same stigma doesn’t exist around it as in western countries and this makes it a great place to do it; where it is an honoured and proud part of the culture. For this reason San Pedro is completely legal, and therefore openly and readily available.

Where Can I Buy San Pedro?

calle san pedro cusco

Head to Calle San Pedro

You can find San Pedro in the medicines aisle of Mercado San Pedro, Calle San Pedro in Cusco (San Pedro Market, San Pedro Street – should be fairly easy to remember). It is sold in powder form, after the cactus has been dried and ground. I’m sure there are many others places to get it seeing as it’s legal, but this is where I got it and buying it at the market was as easy as anything. It was very cheap and excellent quality. Just go to the medicines aisle and ask around for San Pedro. You can buy in batches of 33g – one standard dose.
Cost
When I went one standard 33g dose cost 10 soles ($3 / £2)

mercado san pedro cusco

mercado san pedro cusco hierbas medicina

Head to Seccion Hierbas Medicinales

Dosage

1 standard dose is 33 grams. The general advice is to start by taking one dose and if you don’t feel anything after 2 hours, then drink more. If you are going to have a strong trip, typically you will start to feel effects before the two hour mark. Be sensible with your dosage!

san pedro wachuma cactus

Three bagged doses – 33g in each

Serving

One you have the dust, all you need to do is mix it in water and then drink it. No special preparation or boiling needed. It’s bitter as hell and not the easiest thing to get down, but then you weren’t drinking it for the taste were you?

N.B. My advice would be to drink on an empty stomach. This will help with the absorption of the San Pedro into your body, and will also lessen nausea, a common side effect of the cactus.

Pisac

Pisac, a town about one hour from Cusco, has grown into something of a magnet for the hippie/alternative crowd, unsurprising considering the many ayahuasca and San Pedro retreats and ceremonies available there or in surrounding areas. I arrived into town the day before my trip and had passed all sorts of interesting characters and places as I walked through the narrow streets – there’s even an ayahuasca art cafe.

Where and How To Take It?

This is really up to you, but here are a few options as to where and in what manner you take San Pedro. Scroll down for more info on each one.

Option 1: Go to nature
Option 2: Find a guide or facilitator
Option 3: Organise your own gathering / hike / ceremony

Option 1: Go To Nature

This was the option I went for and in many ways the most straightforward. I wanted to be alone and in nature so it was perfect. Peru is abound with incredible nature so finding a place should be easy. Staying in Pisac, I just left town and went out into nature, through woods and by a riverIf you are going alone, pay careful attention to where you are going and be prepared. When deciding where I would go I asked a friend who I was staying with for suggestions. He’d been living in the area a little while and had done some organised Wachuma hikes there. He advised me an area of woods and told me to stay by the river. That was important advice as when heading back the woods were like a maze and appeared identical in all directions. Luckily, I was able to locate myself in relation to the river and follow it back towards town.

What to take?

Basically the normal stuff you’d take for a typical day out – water, shades, suncream etc. Here are some other specifics I’d recommend:

Clothes suitable for heat and cold
On my trip the temperature varied massively depending on the shadow of clouds – it was scorching under direct sunlight, then pretty damn chilly under the shadow of a large passing cloud. I changed clothes, switching between jeans and shorts, putting on and removing layers, a few times throughout the trip. Ideally find a spot in shade.

Something to lie on [e.g. sleeping/yoga mat, sleeping bag, picnic blanket]
During your trip you may well want to lie down. I took a sleeping mat for my trip and certainly made use of it, lying on it for a good 6 hours. You can of course just lie on the ground but I think its nice to have something to lie on. Depending on where you are it may or may not be easy to find a comfortable spot. I highly value physical comfort during a psychedelic experience and think it can make a big difference to the experience itself.

Water & Food 
It may well be the case that you’re not hungry at all, but I think it’s best to be prepared, especially as you’ve just fasted, and also just in case you get lost and it takes you longer than anticipated to make it back. On my trip I took some snacks and ended up not eating anything. I had plenty of energy and was OK to walk into town before I finally ate a meal at a restaurant in the evening – around 24 hours since I’d last eaten, and 12 since drinking the San Pedro. Even then I wasn’t hungry but felt it would be a good idea to eat some nourishing food. Indeed it’s common that people have plenty of energy purely from the cactus.

Anything else is optional and additional. If you are in nature I don’t think there is much you will be left wanting; you will have the trees, the mountains and the sky!

What else you take depends entirely on you and what you would like with you. Here are some suggestions;

Pad & Pen – Personally I like to take a pen and pad with me and wrote a lot throughout my wachuma trip. At times I found writing in it was like talking to a friend, giving me a sense of company.

Music & Headphones/Speaker – I didn’t actually listen to anything but imagine it could be pretty awesome.

Marijuana – The nausea can be quite bad and weed can certainly help this. I smoked one joint as the nausea started to come on, about an hour after drinking, and felt immediately relieved. The nausea came back again a couple hours later – I smoked another small joint, and that was the end of the nausea for the entire trip!

Final note: Drink early
I think it’s a decent idea to make your way back out of nature before sundown – the cold will set in and the dark will make finding your way harder. Drinking early will mean you peak earlier in the day and then be ‘down’ to consensual reality earlier, making the return trip easier. Also I think it’s nice to have the whole day and trip in the sun. Another option would be to camp out in nature.

If you’re not with a friend and don’t fancy being alone, consider options 2 and 3.

Option 2: Find a Guide or Facilitator

There are plenty of guides and facilitators around the town of Pisac offering Wachuma hikes and different types of ceremony. Just google search ‘San Pedro Pisac’, check the facebook group Spirit Events Sacred Valley, or ask around when you arrive to Pisac. There are all kinds of events – from hikes in nature to ceremonies with mantras and sacred songs. If you do this you will be paying a fee and the price will include the san pedro so you don’t need to worry about buying any beforehand – you can just show up and your facilitator will give you the dose. If you go this route you should speak with your facilitator and clear up any queries you may have beforehand – procedure/schedule/dose etc. If you find shamanic or new age ceremonial type things to be a bit cringe or just not to your tastes, a hike would surely be preferable, or…

Option 3: Organise Your Own Gathering / Hike / Ceremony

Another option is finding some others and organising your own ceremony. This is more easy than it sounds. Many travellers’ and spiritual seekers can be found in Pisac and when I was there I met others who were just getting together and doing their own ceremonies (often ‘ceremony’ might be as simple as drinking a cactus mix sat around a campfire). The day after my own experience I was invited by an Argentinian to join a ceremony she was organising with her friends a few days later. Some others were also organising trips to Machu Picchu with a San Pedro stop en route. Needless to say you should feel comfortable with everyone who you plan on doing this with.

Safe Travels!

San Pedro can have powerful effects on the taker so I wouldn’t recommend taking the decision to drink lightly. However, if you do decide to you may well be in for an ineffably beautiful and potentially life-changing experience. I am still awed at what I experienced, and would absolutely drink again when the right opportunity arises. I’d love to hear how your journey with San Pedro is, so if you journey, please share in the comments. Safe travels!