Yesterday I wrote about psychedelic sessions that are focused on one specific theme. However, sometimes it’s nice to be more flexible and take an open-ended approach, without any fixed plans for the session.
That said, it can still be nice to have some options available to us, rather than going in completely empty handed. That’s when a session menu can be helpful.
What is a session menu?
A session menu is a list of activities that are available to you during your session. At a glance, it gives you options for things you might like to do.
Remembering things can be hard when high. A menu is useful in that you don’t have to remember your options during the session. It holds them all in one place for you. The menu can act like a butler, who asks you ‘what would you like to do now? Do any of these options interest you?’.
Depending on your tastes and the day, menus might look very different to different people.
Here is an example of a menu:
consult I Ching
Listen to new Tame Impala album (I often save first album listens for sessions)
brainstorm dreams and goals
Other items I have seen on friends menus have included: take photos, dance, have sex, watch documentary.
Really, you can include anything. I have a friend who likes to look at profound quotes during his trips. Another likes to draw a tarot card. In both these cases, they find that they are able to connect more deeply to the meaning and message .
Creating a Menu
Writing up a menu can take as little as two minutes before starting a session, and you then have it there for your reference throughout. Depending on the items on your menu, you might need a little extra time to ready any necessary materials before the session starts. Once settled into your session, you can take a glance at the menu and see if anything takes your fancy.
You might also have menus for different purposes. Here is an example of a chill out menu I made in the form of a deck of cards. I have it around in case I or others feel uncomfortable or agitated.
I use menus on various kinds of sessions: both solo and with friends, introspective and recreational. I find them to be very useful and a nice reminder to check in and think: ‘what would I like to do now? Where do I want to go next?’.
On one session with a friend, after riding the stormy come up and settling into an LSD and MDMA session, we gathered ourselves, then sat down and looked at our menu together. We had a list of fun activities for us to explore together before our eyes. I looked at him and said;
‘Is there anything here you’d like to do? We have the whole day ahead of us’.
Smiling, he took a moment, ‘you know, this is actually quite a nice situation to be in.’
Free time, with a friend, enjoying the wonders of life, and a beautiful psychedelic menu in front of us. All that was left to do was pick one and enjoy!
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/psychedelic-menus-options-for-session.jpeg14401920John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2021-07-22 12:12:502021-07-23 12:21:08Session Menus: Having Options for Your Altered Explorations
Something I find very interesting is how perspectives change on a collective and societal level. At our current point of incredible and accelerating global change, many societal shifts are underway, and this is happening with attitudes towards different types of drugs too.
Very taboo ones, like psychedelics, are becoming more accepted, championed even, and party drugs like MDMA and ketamine are gaining respect as therapeutic treatments.
Perhaps the most obvious example of how quickly a collective attitude towards a drug can shift from negative to positive is that of marijuana. Not so long ago it had fairly firm connotations of lazy people and potheads, and now in the States, it is a legitimate and respected medicine prescribed by doctors, with that reputation making its way worldwide.
In the other direction, older ones that have long been accepted like alcohol are dying down. Many people are cutting back, or quitting altogether, and the young generation are not drinking nearly as much as those gone before, even as recent as the youth of 20 years ago. A great example of this trend is the rise in alcohol free beers.
Sugar is another one that seems to be on the decline, something that people seem to be more conscious of in their use. The fact that many people now even view sugar as a drug is notable and this is something I think we will continue to see.
Another one which is beginning to be viewed more as a drug is caffeine. More and more people seem to be cutting back on coffee and keeping an eye on their caffeine intake. The idea that people have coffee addictions would have seemed very strange to me just 10 years ago. Now it seems totally normal, and also totally understandable due to the jitters and anxiety that a high intake can bring. I myself am currently doing a 30 day coffee break this month (yes another 30 day challenge, I know ).
What is Shifting Awareness and Social Acceptability of Drugs?
Awareness around mental and physical health is growing in general, as can be seen by the rise in the term ‘wellness’ which is at least in part as a response to rising rates of mental health problems. Also a big contributing factor is lots of good science and solid data, combined with thoughtful researchers and writers.
Recent examples that spring to mind are Michael Pollan’s best seller How To Change Your Mind, and The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. Pollan’s book tells us before we even begin, through its subtitle, that psychedelics have something to teach us across a wide variety of topics, and Taubes title sets the tone, with the book basically concluding that sugar should be a controlled substance.
New Categories Of Drugs
Another type of drug which is on the rise, and whose category bleeds into that of enhancer or supplement, is the nootropic. Nootropics are riding the wave of the rising trend of human performance and optimisation, and is linked to health as well as productivity. The category of nootropics is not that specific and could generally be termed as cognitive enhancers. As such it is wide ranging and includes things like medicinal mushrooms supplements, vitamin pills, and ‘study drugs’, such as modafinil. Because of its wide ranging term, it also includes drugs from other categories, such as coffee and microdoses of psychedelics.
What’s The Difference Between Drugs and Food?
An interesting discussion point made by both Terence McKenna and Michael Pollan is that of the distinction between food and drugs. Both affect our neurochemistry, our mood, health, energy, and sense of wellbeing. Both are consumed, as an external item into the body (this is where you would exclude exercise, for example, as a drug). Previously, one might have said that what is made in a lab is a drug and what is grown on land is food but the lines are blurring.
Some examples to consider the distinction:
Processed food. Factory farmed meat.
The very idea of ‘organic’ food
Are mushrooms food or drug? If they have a psychoactive effect, do they stop being a food? If diet affects mood and how our mindbody organism operates, is food a drug? If standard coffee is a drug, is decaffeinated coffee not? If our food is created in a lab or factory, is it still a food?
I find this to be a very interesting topic and I think the changing attitudes to drugs are intertwined with changing trends and increased focus on nutrition and diet. This can be seen with the huge rise in veganism, and also in new ideas of diets, such as gluten free, lactose free, paleo, keto etc. In general we are paying much more attention to what we are putting in to our bodies and the impact it has on us.
Where will be in 20 years?
I think that psychedelics will continue to rise, as both a means of self exploration and a science backed response to the mental health crisis, and I’d also suggest that veganism will continue to rise, as awareness rises of the appalling conditions of exploited animals, and seeing as the environmental problems we are facing don’t seem to be going away any time soon.
As for the others, I really am not sure. Perhaps nootropics will usher us towards the next stage of our evolution and we will merge with tech in an transhuman stage of life on earth. Really, its anyone’s guess.
Taking drugs is widely considered a cool and badass thing to do. Wild, crazy, indulgent, rock’n’roll. Certainly not something that should be done in a nerdy way. But, (and thats a big ass but) I would like to tell you why taking drugs like a nerd is actually a very good, nay, a great, worthwhile, and even honourable thing to do.
I will present my argument in two parts:
What it means to ‘Take Drugs Like a Nerd’
Outcomes of Taking Drugs Like a Nerd
What It Means To Take Drugs Like A Nerd
In the simplest terms, it means honouring your inner research scientist. Donning a metaphorical lab coat and experimenting with your mind and experience through the means of first person large scale bioassay.
Here is what it means in more concrete terms:
Taking them in a comfortable and controlled environment
i.e. at home (as opposed to a party, club or festival), being very selective of company, wearing comfortable clothes.
Taking a well considered and accurately measured dose That means using a set of scales, rather than eye balling it. And choosing the dose based on what you are looking for from the experience.
Following a set procedure foringestion
AKA taking the drugs in a particular and conscious way
E.g. putting on certain music and stating out loud your aim (much as toasting a “cheers” is a way of expressing good intentions before drinking)
Logging and tracking ingestions Making a note every time you consume, including substance, quantity, route of administration, and time of ingestion.
Taking notes on inner experience
Occasionally writing down your thoughts and feelings as they come to you, with timestamps.
Not mixing with booze or continually boosting Not taking more doses to increase or extend the high through the night.
Having certain rules for the session
Such as no breaking things or calling exes.
Doing a simple evaluation the next day
To improve the future sessions. Evaluation on how the session was conducted rather than the introspective content. Can be done using a simple WWW-EBI-AN structure (what went well, even better if, additional notes).
Filing your records of experiences and evaluations This will be useful for integration work.
Outcomes of Taking Drugs Like A Nerd
A More Comfortable Experience
Drugs by their nature change the landscape of our reality. Via physiological and neurochemical manipulation, they change our perceptions, feelings, and ultimately our experience of being a human in the world. To varying degrees, depending on the substance and the dose, they can trigger quite radical and rapid shifts.
At its best, this can be exciting and awe inspiring, but at its worst, overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable.
Taking drugs like a nerd helps to counter the possibility of negative outcomes that can sour an experience and make it not only less enjoyable, but even have long lasting negative consequences.
Increased Access To Insight
Ah insight, that juicy stuff that helps us gain deeper understanding. Deeper understanding of ourselves, others and the realities we live in. Why is insight a good thing? It can help us to navigate the journey of our lives, make better decisions, be better people, and have a deeper sense of appreciation for the richness and complexity of the great mystery of the universe.
Improving How You Take Drugs
The notes you’ve taken and evaluation will help you refine your protocol and how you use drugs. You’ll glean useful info on things like how long it takes the drugs to hit you and how different doses effect you. Over time you’ll also notice patterns on how your sessions vary with different kinds of music, company and activities.
Taking care when taking drugs means taking responsibility for your own safety and wellbeing. Family and friends who know about your hobby don’t need to worry about your safety, and neither do you. By doing geeky things like time stamping ingestions, you won’t prematurely take a booster and end up overdosing. You also won’t end up in hospital and place extra strain on the health service of your country.
Minimise Damage and Disruption
Being nerdy and so controlled about taking drugs means that occurrences like knocking things like glasses or lamps over are less frequent. It could also be that someone is hyped up and decides it would be fun or somehow necessary to smash or destroy things. (I mean tbh, it is fun, but dealing with the consequences isn’t). If you think that sounds crazy, well, powerful mild altering substances are crazy. Tao Lin deciding to smash his laptop whilst on shrooms because he felt the evil of technology (documented in his book Trip) is a perfect example which springs to mind.
Geeky drug taking can also mean minimising disruption to your non-drug taking self. To illustrate, lets begin with a typical day-after scenario of a Saturday night MDMA sesh.
You wake up tired and groggy late in the day, still dressed in the now smelly clothes from the night before and in desperate need of a shower. You instinctively know that you’re not only running behind and missing one of your precious days off, but at a distance that you can’t make up. You also have the added bonus annoyance of figuring out how the hell you’re going to resync your sleep schedule so you don’t feel like total shit at work on Monday.
Let’s contrast this with the end of a nerdy session and the day after.
After having enjoyed the wonders and magic of your chosen substance, the effects begin to subside and you land gently, helping your body to recover with a nutritious meal that you’ve already prepared. You put on a JJ Cale album to listen to whilst you clear up your space and then run a nice warm bath. Finally, upon leaving the tub, you stick on a movie to snuggle down to as you drift off to sleep. Boom, you wake up the next day refreshed with a cheeky and knowing inner wink. You can enjoy a leisurely brunch and coffee in the sunshine whilst you consider your plans for the Sunday. Life is difficult as you have two equally good options of catching up with a friend or sticking on an episode of Midnight Gospel.
Depending on your substance, dosage and length of session, you may even be fit to go to work the next day. Imagine that, the joys of drugs on a weeknight with no negative consequences. It’s a beautiful thing 😉
Geeky drug taking is geared towards self betterment and becoming a more connected and healthier individual. And healthy not in spite of fact that you use drugs, but actually because you do.
By being a responsible consumer of drugs you are contributing to changing the cultural and public perception of a drug user. Through your example, friends and acquaintances’ image of a drug user will begin to shift from that of a reckless and unhealthy burden on society to that of a thoughtful and responsible, well-functioning individual . Through your example, you will gently tug at the thread of the negative and deeply ingrained culturally conditioned stereotype. Through your nerdiness, arguments for decriminalisation and legalisation become stronger and we will get closer to sensible drug policy. Legalisation would mean easy access to quality controlled drugs – yes, imagine that.
Take Drugs Like A Nerd… With Me!
I’ve been taking drugs like a nerd since 2011 and it is my no.1 tool for personal growth. I believe it could be the same for many others and enjoy sharing knowledge and offering guidance on how to best utilise these incredible tools.
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IMG_9509.jpg8001200John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2020-06-03 11:13:362022-10-22 12:55:48Taking Drugs Like A Nerd
Rausch is a documentary series by photographer Robert Funke which chronicles the present day use of psychoactive substances in society. Through Rausch, German for intoxication, Robert explores the myriad uses and settings of drug ingestion, including scientific, spiritual, therapeutic and recreational, and a wide range of substances, from LSD and other psychedelics to alcohol, heroin and cocaine.
Redecorated hospital room used in LSD studies at Imperial College London.
Rob has been collecting these photos over the last few years and I find the series provides great insight in to the relationship humanity has with drugs and altered states of consciousness. Drug use is as old as civilisation itself and this series explores the topic widely, offering a broad perspective of what can be considered ‘drug use’. Rausch also gives us an opportunity to visually visit some striking and surprising, lesser known settings.
I first met Robert online, and through an unwinding course of events, we are now flatmates and good friends. It brings me great pleasure to be able to present his work here on Maps Of The Mind.
In this post I present a just a few of my favourites. You can find the full collection on his website.
Enjoy the exploration.
Santo Daime church ceremony in Germany’s Harz region. The sacrament of this syncretic religious community is Ayahuasca, a brew made out of psychoactive rainforest plants. The potion is used during fixed rituals for divine experiences, to heal and to strengthen the community.
Goa-Festivals, like the OZORA in Hungary, are comparable to huge trance-rituals. Music and decoration imitate the neurologic effects of LSD. After hours of dancing to monotonous rhythm in combination with psychedelic substances, people get into a trance-like state.
Another of the redecorated hospital room used in LSD studies at Imperial College London. This is where for the first time computer tomography scans were used to record brain activity while under the influence of LSD, and the impacts of music on therapy were investigated.
In Poland a group meet with the intention of using psychoactive substances therapeutically. Under the supervision of therapists, doctors and experienced attendants, they take Mescaline, MDMA and 2-CB on two consecutive evenings.
The active compound psilocybin, which occurs naturally in psychedelic mushrooms, is being researched at Maastricht University. Brain scans and cognitive tests are used to find out whether this substance can boost creativity and help change learned behavior patterns.
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ozora.jpg12351500John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2019-10-15 12:03:282020-07-25 19:06:51Rausch: A Photo Series on Psychoactive Drugs in Society
Planning a trip to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, or even just Europe, and want to make an inner journey too? This guide to taking magic truffles is for you.
What Are Magic Truffles?
Magic truffles, AKA psilocybin truffles, are a type of fungus that contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is the naturally occurring psychedelic molecule that is found in ‘magic mushrooms’ and is what gives them their psychedelic effect and ‘magic’ title.
Truffles are at an earlier stage of fungal development than mushrooms but effectively the same thing. The only real difference is that the amount of psilocybin per weight is lower in truffles than mushrooms. More on dosage below.
Psilocybin has been shown to have an impressive range of positive effects. It can trigger lasting personality changes, improve mood and alleviate depression, reduce anxiety, catalyze creative insights, and reliably occasion mystical experiences. Psilocybin has been shown to be safe, non-addictive, and non-toxic.
There are only two countries in the world where psilocybin is legal: Jamaica and the Netherlands. You can find magic mushrooms in Jamaica but there are a lack of quality vendors.
In Holland, magic truffles are fully legal. Truffle production has reached a commercial level; you can walk into a store, choose from a variety of truffles that have been vaccum packed and refrigerated, and ask staff questions before making your purchase. These types of stores, often called ‘smart shops’, are plentiful in Amsterdam, which is a short journey from any major city in Europe.
Where Can I Buy Magic Truffles?
There are many smart shops in Amsterdam where you can find magic truffles. One place is Azarius at Kerkstraat 119. Azarius is a smart shop with an impressive range of goodies. They have friendly staff who will answer your questions and give you information and advice about magic truffles.
Generally, you can buy per dose. I recommend you to get advice from the staff in the shop you buy your truffles from; tell them your experience with psychedelics and what type of experience you are looking for, and ask them any questions you have.
Truffles are sold fresh in shops, so if bought, then kept for a long time and dried out, the equivalent weight will be significantly lower. As a rough guide here are dosages with fresh truffles, as sold.
5 – 10g Low dose. Those with a higher tolerance may not feel anything at 5g. 10 – 20g Medium dose. Could be strong for a first timer. 20 – 30g High dose 30g + Very high dose – Potential spiritual or peak experience. Not recommended to do alone or if its a first psychedelic experience.
I have 4 options for you:
1. Eat them plain 2. Make a truffle tea 3. Make a truffle smoothie 4. ’Lemon Tek’.
Eat them plain
Eating them as they are straight out of the packet is the least appetising way but the simplest. Truffles don’t taste good and are crunchy in a bad way, but straight up chomping them will still get the job done. Chew well.
2. Truffle Tea is probably the most distinguished way to consume your truffles.
To make your truffle tea:
Crush your truffles up well and put them in a mug or other container.
Bring water to boil and then remove it from the heat. Let the water sit and cool off for a few minutes – you want it to be hot, but not boiling. As long as it is cool enough to drink, that’s okay.
Optional step: Whilst your water is cooling off, add some fresh ginger. The ginger adds a nice flavour and can help to lessen any nausea. You can also add another type of tea.
Once the water has cooled slightly, pour it over your crushed up truffles.
Give it a good stir and let it infuse for for 10 minutes.
Add honey or a sweetener if you’d like to sweeten it.
Drink your tea and then eat up the truffles left in the bottom of your mug.
Extra note: If you prefer not to eat the truffles, pour over another round of tea, letting it sit for another 5-10 minutes and drink again. This will ensure that most of the psychedelic goodness makes it into your brew. If you want to be 100% certain that you don’t waste anything and get maximum effect, you should eat up any leftover truffles in the bottom of your mug.
3. Truffle Smoothie
This can be a nice yet simple way to mask that truffle taste. Chuck them in a blender with some fruits or juice, then enjoy. Throw in some slices of raw ginger to help with the nausea.
4. Lemon Tek It has been claimed that the ‘lemon tek’ method will make your trip come on faster and harder. I can’t neither confirm nor deny this claim, but I will say that the lemon flavour helps to mask the taste of the truffles.
To lemon tek:
Crush your truffles up well and put in a glass. The more crushed up, the better. You can also use a coffee grinder if the truffles have been been dried out.
Cover your truffles with freshly squeezed lemon juice, enough to cover them, so they’re bathing in it.
Let sit for 20-25 minutes (not longer), stirring every 5 minutes.
Drink the whole mix. It won’t taste beautiful, so you’ll probably want to get it down fast.
N.B. Whichever method you choose, I’d recommend taking them on an empty stomach – to make the most of your dose and to lessen any nausea – a common side effect.
Where To Take Them?
The setting of the trip will influence the experience so it’s worth considering. Here are a few options. Scroll down for more info on each one.
1. Private apartment / AirBnB 2. Find a natural setting 3. Go on a psychedelic retreat
If you’ve got access to a private place, this is a nice option. One way is to find a nice place on AirBnB. You can set the place up to be cosy and clean and get some nice playlists ready to guide your experience. You also don’t have to worry about speaking with strangers or dealing with other similar unforeseen circumstances.
Having a private space allows you to have a controlled environment and this can help to relax. I would recommend this if you are inexperienced with psychedelics and are planning a deep experience. Have enough food at base so that once your appetite returns, you don’t need to go out in to the big scary world if you don’t feel like it.
This can be a great way to connect with the beauty of the natural world. If you’re gonna do this, I’d recommend going further than finding a park in the city and finding nature that is out of Amsterdam, at least out of the city centre. Forests and beaches are nice. Better still, go camping. There are a couple of nature options in a blog post written here.
If you are planning this, be well prepared.
First, check the weather forecast. If it looks like weather you’re happy to be tripping in, pack well but also don’t overdo it.
Here’s some things to take:
• Suitable clothes – Fairly obvious but can be overlooked. Don’t forget your sunnies for good weather and a raincoat if there’s a chance of showers. If you’ll be out after sunset, make sure you have enough clothes to keep warm. • Something to lie on – Though nature is nice, so is being comfortable. Think sleep/yoga mat or picnic blanket. • Water and food – Common sense. Nuts and fruit are always a good option. • Music/speakers – Come on, you’re gonna be tripping. • Pen and paper – For drawing or writing. • Pre-rolled joints – I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ve never smoked before but if you do smoke weed, your tripping self will thank you for the pre-rolleds later; trying to roll a joint whilst tripping hard can be a difficult and tedious process. Having one or two ready is nice even if its just for the end of the trip to relax. Plenty of good weed and hash to be found in Amsterdam.
3. Go on a psychedelic retreat
The unique legal status of psilocybin truffles in the Netherlands combined with increasing interest in psychedelics has lead to a rise in retreats. Now there are a few and you have a choice if you wish to have a psilocybin experience on a retreat.
The context and container of the experience – how one is prepared for it and the company and environment in which it is held – plays a large part in the experience and how it will effect you, so a retreat can play a huge role in maximising potential benefits. Different retreats can vary on many factors, including length, focus, cost, comfort level etc., so I’d recommend looking through and getting a feel for the different options, before making a decision on one which most closely aligns to what you are looking for.
Come on retreat with me! New Moon Retreats is a psychedelic retreat I’m co-creating which integrates meditation and mindfulness practices. We have a small yet amazing team working towards our aim of increasing access to psychedelic experiences in a way which is designed to maximise benefits and help people on their journey. You can find out more and apply here.
Magic truffles can have powerful effects so I wouldn’t recommend taking the decision to take them lightly. However, if you do decide to and prepare well, you may be in for an ineffably beautiful and potentially life-changing experience. I’ll leave you with some basic guidelines found at Azarius below. Safe travels!