Posts

trees woods pisac

sacred valley pisac peru

It’s eight o’clock in the morning and the panorama of a bend in the Peruvian sacred valley of the Incas is majestic under the days early rays. From the patch of grass outside our mountainside room I can see Pisac off in the distance down below: a Peruvian village an hour or so from Cusco and situated on the Willkanuta river, now something of a draw for spiritual seekers due to the local plant medicine scene. The thick bitty lime green liquid I’m choking down for breakfast is bitter as hell, but then I’m not drinking it for the taste. The mixture has two ingredients; water, and powdered San Pedro – a hallucinogenic cactus native to the Andes and the chemical key to my adventure today.

I force down the mix in the company of two friends; Chris, an old school buddy with me for the Peru leg of my American tour, and our host, Vik, a Danish friend who I’d met in Buenos Aires a couple months earlier who’d introduced himself by telling me he was in the continent to drink ayahuasca- we subsequently hit it off and became good friends, exploring the cultured capital together amidst discussions of all things psychedelic.

My mix contains 33g of the mescaline containing cactus, one full dose, and I’ll take that again in an hour or so once I reach the eucalyptus trees down below. Vik seems to obtain a perverse pleasure from watching me struggle to get it down – he’s had his share in the weeks prior and despite being a fan of the cactus’ psychoactive effects and therapeutic qualities, knew just how bitter and stomach wrenching it was. So much is his aversion to the taste he’s actually trying to figure out a different way of ingesting the substance for future journeys.

san pedro wachuma cactus powder

Three bagged doses

My venture today is a solo one, so after finally getting the mix down as fast as my gag reflex will allow- a good 15 minutes of interspersed gulps- I say adios to the boys, heading down the rugged mountainside on a jagged path to the base of the valley, across a small road, away from town and into nature, through a field towards the river and the woods of eucalyptus trees.

pisac

As I make my way upstream I pass an old gringo with a white whispy beard in full Bolivian patterned wear. He merely looks grumpy in response to my cheery greeting and it throws me off, his bad vibes make me feel a little uneasy. I second guess my decision and consider that its maybe not the perfect situation and surrounding for me to be undertaking this journey, but then I also think that if you’re continually waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity to do something, it may never come. Sometimes you just have to take the chance and go for it. Today will be a good judge. Anyway, I’ve already choked down a full dose, so its a bit late for second guesses now.

Settling In

After a few minutes of walking through the woods I veer off the path and settle down in what seems to be a good spot; a flat area just set back from where the river is noisily crashing over rocks in a mini-waterfall. I set down my stuff, unroll my sleeping mat, and pull out another 33g bagged dose of the powdered cactus, mixing it in a bottle of water and chugging it down.

Within ten minutes the nausea starts setting in. I’m prepared for this and pull out the joint I’ve pre-rolled that morning. It works a treat and the nausea disappears as I slip into a more dazed feeling. I lie on my mat and begin writing in my pad which eases my nerves and soon I feel pretty good – I’m in the Sacred Valley! Feeling settled by writing, I set a timer for a 5 minute meditation, and lie back, closing my eyes.

Visual Distortions

The meditation relaxes me further and I roll on to my front, gazing up at the mountain across the river. The rocky surface is luminescent orange under the sun’s unchecked rays and as I’m gazing up the whole thing gently shimmers. It’s as if the image of the mountain is being projected onto a huge sheet and something has just shaken the top, making the the whole thing and all of its details ripple. ‘It’s starting’ I excitedly think to myself as I lie back to enjoy the view.

About an hour and a half after the joint, the nausea creeps back. I can’t believe I don’t have another J ready to go- by now I really should know to have a handful pre-rolled and ready for my convenience- but due to slack preparation I’ve failed to show up with any more so, mustering focus and steady hands, I craft another. It works wonders and the nausea disappears again, this time for the remainder of the trip, giving me the all clear to strap myself in for what’s to come.

The Spirit Arrives

Lying on my back, gazing up at the trees and sky, I slip into a more contemplative state and start questioning why I am actually there, drinking ground up hallucinogenic cactus on my own in the woods of a third world country… what am I searching for?! Thoughts begin to build steam and I feel like a receiver rather than originator of thoughts that appear in my mind.

The contemplation leads to thoughts of my life, I see it as if it were complete in that moment with nothing more to add. Thoughts of death come to me, about dying there that day, that very spot in the valley where I lie. The morbid thoughts become dark and intensify and I feel increasingly fearful. I sense this episode as a kind of game of thoughts; I perceive it as a playful action from somewhere outside me – as if some demonic spirit is messing with me and sending me these thoughts to spook me. I consider that perhaps this is what others have called the spirit of Wachuma and in that very moment I see it in the top reaches of the tree growing up beside me, in the faintest but seemingly deliberate movements of the uppermost leaves and branches. They twinkle lightly, playfully, as they’re tickled delicately by the breeze. My sense of gravity has flipped and its as if I’m staring down rather than up, the trees and plants around me hanging by their roots, the top branches reaching as if out and down to a sky below. Loosened and open, I’m struck by the beauty of what I see before me, my attention drawn to the top of the tree which has its roots closest to me.

trees woods pisac

Ineffable Beauty

The scene is rich in texture and colour, layer upon layer of detail is revealed in the magnificent tree and its surroundings. I observe in awe as the tree bobs and weaves with the breeze, gently making circles in my view. I become aware of the most utterly minuscule movements – of every pore of every leaf of every branch – of an intense and unspeakable subtlety.

Utterly majestic.

The movements of the tree are the epitome of effortless grace, the embodiment of the Taoist principle of wu-wei – what we admire in world class performers, whether musicians, sportsmen, or dancers; in the zone with zero contrivance, totally tuned in, in the moment. Overcome by awesome beauty, euphoria sweeps over me.

A simple reflection comes to me; nature is incredible. When you simply watch it as it is, not just seeing, but actually watching – just pure simple nature is magic.

The scene subtly begins to transform, the details merging and forming intricate patterns within a vast multitude of colours above. I lie spellbound, I can hardly believe that I’m looking at a tree. Inside the patterns are small shifting movements that appear like alien insects crawling around a fluorescent ants nest. The subtle shifts in the scene are flowing and smooth, but – also like an ants nest – mechanical in some way. The colourful movements are slow and continuous. The whole thing appears otherworldly. The range of what I’ve seen within the tree is so ridiculous that I genuinely begin to wonder if its going to show me my life.

Writing Resistance

I’m compelled to roll over and write some notes in an attempt to document and bring some of this magic back with me. This proves to be fairly challenging as the act of holding the pen steady requires a serious effort of concentration and composure but, though a little tricky, I’m able to hold the experience at arm’s length sufficiently to get some words down. It’s like when trying to stay awake despite being so tired that you could fall asleep in a second- you can resist, but only for so long before the inevitable pulls you under – the inevitable here as altered and surreal as the land of dreams. I feel the action of mental resistance mirrored within my body, a tense tightness throughout, as if every cell is waiting and willing me to release myself back into the experience – the cactus gently tugging at me, pulling me back in. With some notes scribbled, I drop the pen with relief and roll back over onto my back.

Surrendering myself to the experience, my consciousness continues to shift and I fall deeper into an increasingly immersive trip, continually spellbound, rolling through ever novel experience and widened perception.

From time to time I’m struck by the incredulity of what I’m experiencing and decide I must make more notes – it seems crucial that I document such an experience. Each time I do this the physical feeling of my body synchronises with my mental action; resistance – heavy and burdensome, or surrender – light and relaxed. Each time I roll over and pick up the pen, I feel like that same heaviness pulling me back, as if telling me that I’m not allowed to leave mescaline land for too long.

Time increasingly dilates and experience is fairly intense throughout, even when I ‘pull myself out’ to make notes. Anticipating how much deeper I’m going to be pulled under, I wonder whether that double dose was a good idea – I might be in for more than I bargained for! I take it in good spirits and smile to myself, relishing the adventure that I’ve undertaken. I know the best thing to do is to relax, and again I consciously surrender, once more losing myself in the utter beauty of the trees and the clouds and the sky. I’m falling, falling, just floating in endless beauty.

Dropping Physical Worries

A high pitched whistling sound pulls me out of my beatific awe, it’s some cheery trekker in the vicinity making a tune with their lips. It triggers a touch of paranoia and some niggling worries resurface. Who is it? What if they come over and start speaking to me? What will they think of me here sprawled on my back? I catch myself worrying, made aware of it by the accompanying physical discomfort. This constant mirroring of the physical and mental is making a point – the two are inextricably intertwined. Science has proven this, but now I’m not reading about some research study, I’m comprehending the truth through direct experience and see that expressions like ‘just drop it’ and ‘mental baggage’ aren’t simply metaphorical. Resistance, clinging, craving, worrying – all can be understood as physical sickness too.

I realise there is no use in me carrying the worry about the stranger and compose myself to willingly drop it. But even with the knowledge that it doesn’t serve me, I feel a reluctance to let go – a strange resistance to let go of resistance – now aware of the usually subconscious urge to cling to what I know, feeling it as physical weight. If I can just stop worrying I can be totally light, but I hesitate. It’s like so many things in life – like ending an amicable but ultimately unsuitable relationship, or jumping into water on a hot day – the transition is what unnerves us even when we know the change needs to be made.

Telling myself to let go, it’s like I’m hanging on to the edge of a cliff, bracing myself to drop into the unknown. I forcefully peel my own fingers off the ridge, finally dropping myself off to fall…

Lightness… I’m falling, falling, falling, and then… still falling. There is no bottom – no crush, no death, no oblivion – the experience is just continuous falling, ever unfolding experience without grasping. I sense a wonderful liberation. I’ve dropped myself off only to find that I’m still there. That weight, those worries and stress – I carry it all in an unconscious effort to retain my sense of self, out of fear of losing myself – but it’s not who I am, and when it’s all dropped, the awareness continues, without the physical weight. Perpetual, changing, naked existence.

What I’ve released was a part of the sense of a separate self – ego, role, identity – all a great trick. Both science and Buddhism are right – it’s no more than illusion and hallucination. I am the universe. ‘I’ is consciousness. I think how strange a physical sense of self is, how bizarre bodies are! I feel as if I’m undergoing purification, floating weightless with all excess parts stripped away.

Humbling

Feelings of humility arrive to fill the void I’ve opened up, and I lie awed and humbled to my very core. I see myself from above, my body lying there on the ground, and then I float up and away from myself, up over the valley. As I go up into the clouds I lose sight of myself beneath the trees. My vision of myself shrinks, I see myself and place as the trees and river. It’s a visual representation to what I’m feeling – my ego and self-importance shrinking away as I see the bigger picture and my place in the universe. I understand that the significance of my existence is nothing, and with that I experience a deep and unstirring peace.

Waves Of Gratitude

The calm humility morphs, and I feel sweeping waves of energy flowing and crashing through me, rinsing my insides with an essence of gratitude. I see detailed kaleidoscopic close-eyed visuals, but they are only a symptom and sideshow of the experience; the significance is in the the sense of total and utter gratitude, in the deep and resonant waves reverberating throughout my being. The waves are blissful and euphoric, the antithesis to every feeling of heaviness or worry. I am truly, profoundly, and utterly grateful.

There’s nothing in particular that I feel grateful for; I don’t think about family, friends, my health or anything else. It’s a bizarre sense of gratitude, gratitude with no object, just for it’s own sake. I am not a receiver of it; simply, I am gratitude.

Be grateful. This is the teaching of today, learnt from experience, direct from the source. I’m again reminded why psychedelic experiences are so esoteric, words could never explain this.

I lie, bathing in feelings of gratitude, euphoria and bliss, coated and entirely submerged in them, soaking them in.

Return To Reality

Some time later, my alarm rings. Its signifying that I should be making my return trip out of the woods. I’ve set the alarm for roughly an hour before sunset to give myself a decent amount of time to make it back in daylight and avoid a tricky and likely very confusing walk back through the woods in darkness. The problem is that I’m still exceptionally high and hardly feel in my body. Of course euphoria and beauty wouldn’t typically be considered a problem, but I’m conscious of the real world responsibility to look after myself and get back to town, and this is hardly the ideal frame of mind to be organising my stuff and figuring out the route. I know I’m inappropriately high to be making the journey, but compose myself; one step at a time, I tell myself. Easily, gently, one step at a time.

Rising to my feet, I stagger around as I gather my things, pack my bag, and roll up my sleeping mat. Everything stuffed inside and ready, the zip decides to break in that moment. Perfect. I laugh to myself at the timing of this. I sling it round to my front and hold it closed with my hand, looking up to assess my surroundings and figure my way back out of the woods. As I look around, every direction looks exactly the same, of course it does – it’s the woods. My flights through consciousness have done nothing for my sense of direction, I don’t recognise anything and a few steps in any direction makes me worry I’m going the wrong way and I’ll only have to backtrack later, losing what are now precious minutes of daylight.

I remember something Vik said to me on the mountainside that morning: ‘Stay by the river’. Now I know exactly why. Following the sound of running water, I find my way back to the mini-water fall and regain my sense of direction. I can’t walk alongside the river as there is no path and the terrain is clustered rocks and trees, so I head away, but with an idea of the direction I should be going and aim to stay as close as I can whilst still heading downstream.

Nothing looks familiar, of course, even though I must’ve come this way in the morning. ‘Trust your gut’ – a nice expression but right now my gut doesn’t trust anything. In every direction, it tells me ‘this doesn’t seem familiar, it can’t be the right way’. I stick to logic, a trusty friend that’s gotten me out of a few tight spots in altered states, and cling to the knowledge of where I’ve just seen the river, and steadily push on on the basis of that. I come upon some houses, half expecting some local to come out yelling something to the tune of ‘get out of my garden’ in Quechua, and walk quickly on, heading back towards where I calculate the river should be.

Sure enough, I see running water and recognize where I am from my walk in the morning – I’m less than five minutes from the road. I have just enough time to breathe a sigh of relief before I hear a faint call just about audible over the gushing water. I turn around and recognize Vik and his friend Kelsey a way back up the path. It’s a welcome and charming surprise, and they head over, having been meditating in the woods. ‘I am really high’ I confess, and they take me under their wing and back into town where we spend the remainder of the evening. Though lingering effects from the cactus are with me late into the evening – experiencing Pisac lit by night as a world of wonder – the real trip and adventure ended as I left the woods, and no more stark revelations or powerful sensations will come. At least until the next time.

lsd acid tabs psychedelic
lsd acid tabs psychedelic

The fateful tabs


The Ego Strikes Back

As I’ve already stated, acid is a reflection of our own mind, not one in itself. With this in mind, I’ve already made a classic mistake in writing this, I forgot about the golden rule; personal perception. Even with all my evidence for espousing support for ego-death theory earlier, I must redress the balance now.

Although, generally loss of ego/subjectivity with LSD is recognised as a universal feeling, I have still made huge assumptions on what others may have felt and made the biggest donut of this whole series of memoirs. Who’s to say the egotistically bereft acid vets Jack met weren’t expressing their personalities? Perhaps they were vague and bland before acid. Similarly, my slip into nihilism and numbness from acid thinking may have just been due to my own personality, I’m just articulating this through a recent drugs experience, whereas before I would have defined the same feelings through a different lens. Also, just as those who take acid like beer (let’s get fucked!) could be looked down on for missing the point, so could the more philosophical cosmonauts like Leary and Huxley. Ultimately, after the experimental phase, people usually do drugs for enjoyment purposes (assuming there’s no addiction involved), but due to LSD’s effect, the experience can be interpreted as highly revelatory or deep to the right mind. This is why, increasingly, it seems the self does exist strongly and does affect even one’s feelings of losing the self.

An example of this self-influenced objectivity trick is the fact that open-minded or unorthodox thinkers seem to have more gratifying or deep experiences on LSD compared to those who take the drug with a pre-perceived prejudice or try to fight its effects. So either there is a pure feeling of objectivity and only some people are “getting it” and others not, or the feelings of “oneness” are a societal creation by liberal westerners who take acid. However, too many people seem to confirm similar feelings of unity and infinity when they take acid so this may be more universal. Once again, the trick of circularity trips us up though, as soon as we believe the ego has been smashed by objectivity we see our perception mushroom into different layers and we start to think of the chains of causality affected by people’s ego/personality/interactions that cause us to research, organise, and then take acid in the first place, so suddenly it seems even our ego requires release.

In this post-acid funk I’ve been in recently, at once positive in one breath and existentially tortured in another, my attentions have increasingly been affected by a recent bout of clinical depression my brother has gone through. Leaving work for a month my brother moved back home for support and we ended up having many long philosophical talks whilst walking around our neighbourhood in the evening, an attempt in talking things out. My brother is closer to middle-age than me which made me wonder if perhaps I would feel the same in the future, it is common to at a certain stage in life. However, when my brother told me about the anti-depressants he had received from the doctor, it made me think. He described the effects of the pills; nausea, a strange light-headed feeling, then a weird buzz, where eventually you end up just not feeling negative. To me, this sounds kinda similar to some illegal drugs and caused me to ask my brother if he would ever try acid again, having done so once many years before. After initially laughing at the suggestion and saying that acid was the last thing he needed he has actually come round to the idea in a big way and it makes sense. Acid helps one to look at existing problems in a new and constructive way, accept flaws in life and oneself as natural and inevitable and to appreciate the simple beauty of all life. These all sound like pretty good strategies for dealing with depression to me. Again, my bro is not a weed smoker, but the dead end the depression put him in made him acquire a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude with that too and he started having the odd spliff with myself and found that it took the edge off the depression and also allowed his mind to relax and think without the pressure of insecurity. We haven’t planned the trip yet, but I hope to do a glorious summer one with my bro and hopefully it will be a really big positive revelation for him. He said to me that he wants to be in a good mindset before he does it which I agreed with, but I reminded him that his mindset was all up to him. Again, this is why acid is good for treating depression, it allows one to realise their own agency and control in life. Even just talking about alternative modes of thought and experience seemed to broaden and brighten my brother’s outlook. My bro’s story just proves to me even more that LSD and other drugs should be legalised or atleast de-criminalised because the treatment doctors provide is either unsuitable or is trying to mimic the effects of drugs anyway. It also makes sense that when my brother began to feel like he had gotten trapped and stale in the repetitious nature of life, a drug that gives the soul a spring clean would appeal. This also reinforces the idea that LSD itself seems to have a natural connection and applicability to human cognitive understanding that is very important. Drugs like coke may be bottomless in the desire they create for more, taken just to want more, but acid is bottomless in its inspirational potential.

We still look for order, meaning and logic whilst on drugs, just in a different conception; we aren’t necessarily free on acid, we’re still the same machines computing the same data, but in a new way. Acid can make the old conventions we live by seem silly, but it does not always provide alternatives. The world view acid gives is ultimately unknown, it is elusive, it teases supple minds and leads us up circular pathways because ultimately, this is the nature of existence and acid (good as it is) is not going to change this. To me, this makes me see acid as a tool I can use in my future life to develop my identity (which comprises superficial and more deep-rooted elements) but not something that will provide answers. Personal perception is all, this is what acid says to me; ‘you are malleable, change, adapt, make the world easier on yourself – enjoy it mate, rather than chasing the lost city acid teases you with, because you’ll never get there’. Acid is regulation of the self, the BB contestant vs. acid vet example I used earlier shows the dangers of a reckless lack of self-analysis which allows ingrained, unexamined (often illogical) personality traits to run amuck for years and finally become completely assimilated vs. a complete gutting of one’s mental landscape leaving it empty, formless.

I think acid taps into areas of our brain that can meld feelings of creativity and flux with concepts of order, logic and harmony – chaos and order. This is why those who have studied philosophy have been said to get more out of acid immediately. I am a former philosophy student myself. It is a way of thinking, a logical thought tool – this is why any argument requires a valid premise and a clear definition to be taken seriously, words are weighted with meaning, not like an opinion piece or restaurant review; it is an attempt at semantic mathematics. This way of thinking requires one to 1) think of topics/concepts in their largest perceivable context and 2) pursue conclusions free from the influence of environmental factors on thinking. In this sense this is why LSD thinking and the philosophical method are so similar. LSD opens the mind up to see situations or ideas from a new angle in a bigger picture and in doing so, removes pre-conceived ideas of truth and understanding to facilitate this process.

However, just as with LSD, this thinking can be liberating and debilitating. My experience of philosophy was exactly like this; I felt free to ditch certain prejudicial or silly opinions I had held onto over the years (like believing in God) and it gave me the confidence to question bigger assumptions in the world and in my own life. Also, when debating with people, I found it easier to step back, be objective and analyse their points more logically, often making for much better arguments from myself. However, just as with acid, initially this feeling of being an epistemological nomad was comforting because I felt I had shed certain ignorant ways of doing things, I had learnt something, but the same problem of nihilism crept in again. Soon I was analysing everything philosophically and trying to catch people out – ever vigilant in case their argument didn’t fully stack up. Moreover, I had to start dispensing with some of my own opinions or having to over-correct sentences at the moment of utterance if they assumed too much. While this is a good method for winning arguments, it isn’t very fun and even the open-minded can find it wearing. Plus, even with the logical analysis approach, it won’t always be successful because of course no one knows everything, which is also partly the dichotomy in philosophical discourse – it was created as a logical, scientific method for explaining the unexplainable. To me, acid presents the same teasing possibility – the possibility of crazy massive answers when what it boils down to understands the opposite – the basic values in oneself and how to augment them to find happiness (assuming happiness is the aim of most people).

Timothy Leary said you’ve got to do acid every weekend and smoke weed every day to keep sane. Leary said he was living the life of another statistic, over the hill with less and less creativity, until he took acid. But what is the alternative? Do drugs all the time? I have to now re-evaluate odd people I’ve met in the past, what they were saying wasn’t necessarily weird now I think about it, those late-night crazy chats in bars or raves, now I see those who are called mad as the sane ones.

My conclusion is that there is a concentration on immediacy and easy-gratification in our culture and this is the case with drugs too. Why is cocaine far more popular than LSD? Because it enables one to feel physically stimulated, but within the realms of reality and within societal convention to a point; someone coked up is just more hyper or chatty or adventurous, it puts a sheen on your view of reality. Acid, however, opens up so many possibilities people are sometimes not sure what has happened to them because there is nothing to weigh the experience against, and hence they prefer drugs that enhance existing desires/ambitions, rather than open up areas with no easy answers. This is why I firmly believe in taking more acid until one becomes more lucid and comfortable and able to analyse the self and the world. This can be used for many projects – recreation, dealing with trauma, working on creative or academic solutions etc. These things all represent time, subtlety, patience, understanding; things modern people don’t have time for. This is why acid is often misunderstood as a drug, so often the more salacious effects are focused on in popular culture that we as a society have lost sight of its serious potential. Of course any good cosmonaut knows that more research should be done with acid and is increasingly being done, but would be far more effective and prolific when public perception is changed too. LSD is an integral part of the human experience and to date, to my knowledge, no one who has tried it has seriously recommended it be made illegal or criticised it, doesn’t that tell us all something? Or does it? It’s up to your own perception my friend, but I tell you what, it made me feel fucking great and anytime you feel yourself sleepwalking into a life of passivity, monotony, drudgery, unhappiness, conventionality, insincerity or banality just remember, you’ve got a choice; you can be brave and you can ignore the doubters and be free, not just with LSD but with the philosophy it encourages too.

Whether it is the perceived effect acid has or not, I feel that from now on I will never get as indignant about things as I used to, and as long as I can keep childish enthusiasm for things in spite of this, that’s okay. For me, a lot of negative or (formerly) conspiratorial notions I had about this whole being human thing have been confirmed by acid, but that’s always been in me, as long as I can remember. That that part of me may never be satisfied or quelled and I should look instead to the possibility and suggestibility acid- thinking creates, and hopefully life can be that little bit less harsh and that little bit more enjoyable in the coming years. Also, it has freshened my creativity and encouraged to remember the joy of playing an instrument and composing music, the whole process feeling fresh. I don’t think I need to end on a Bill Hicks quote or anything – you only live once, try it.

lsd acid psychedelic trippy meaning

lsd lysergic acid psychedelic trippy meaning
Nihilism & Loss of Meaning

LSD is clearly not a drug for everyone, it is unwieldy and requires a certain mental attitude at the outset of ingestion to enjoy its properties fully. However, when I first took it, I didn’t really have any idea what it would do (!). My research prior to taking acid was zero. Of course I had a cultural history of it in my head, knowing major figures in the drug’s subculture; The Beatles, Aldous Huxley, 1960s groups etc. I was also aware of the stereotypical stories about its effects and all the ‘hippy’ and ‘spiritual’ connections applied to it. Having said this, it’s only now that I’m beginning to understand the drug properly, which is exciting but also worrying.

So, why isn’t everyone taking or discussing LSD if people like myself feel the need to document the experience, am I wildly different to others? No, I believe this is partly down to ingrained social attitudes and drugs laws, as well as a lack of education about the drug and research in to it. Being such a limitless and bizarre place, the human mind is not always an attractive area of study for scientists or governments, not as appealing as something physical, easy, like strength for example. What I’m saying is, even if society were to test and investigate the many positive applications LSD has and could have, it would require labyrinthine research and time and investment because its effect on the human mind is so sprawling and subjective. Sure, governments invest in mind-control (which they’ve unsuccessfully tried with LSD), but that is subtly different, and means treating the drug and the test subject like a means to an end, rather than a being of potential. Regardless of the status-quo’s stance against the drug and laws against it, I genuinely believe that more research is not done on LSD because ultimately it is a mystery. Even the great thinkers who have taken it and written on it draw conclusions that although insightful always seem to shine the torch on one element, thus leaving others in the dark. Put simply, depending on who you ask, an LSD conversation could really end up on any topic.

My friend John who created this page was telling me about John Lennon’s comment that at the height of his LSD use, he began to feel a complete death of ego. Further to this, Lennon said that after a few years of not taking the drug so extensively he began to feel like himself again, replete with all the idiosyncrasies and cantankerous qualities that had made him an individual in the first place. Moreover, my friend mentioned some veteran trippers he had spoken to, who seemed to have suffered a sort of ego-death also. He said they seemed fairly aloof and vague when answering questions on their LSD experiences, nowhere near the level of philosophical debate the experience had sparked in my friend and I. Obviously this is just speculation, but this could suggest that the liberation acid provides from self-consciousness could boil over into losing a sense of one’s self, which I have already alluded to in this memoir previously. If these vets have nothing to say, why are they doing acid so often? Why do they like it? What do they think about? This really intrigues me because acid is not like beer, you don’t take it merely to get inebriated – when tripping you can’t help but think, although perhaps a trip can become more pedestrian and beer like after taking many tabs. For me personally, at times my relationships have been skewed by acid thinking. I have felt very distant and lonely in my outlook, distant from my parents and old friends. Something has changed – become less real and simultaneously more real – e.g. the everyday conversations about the weather take on new disturbing meanings because I’m analysing the human interaction taking place rather than just going with the flow. Obviously, I have talked to some people about the experience explicitly in a relaxed way, but at the end of the conversation (although they’ve been attentive) the listener seems to switch back to auto-pilot while I’m left still reeling with concepts in my head. Again though, perhaps this existential gulf in human empathy has always been in our communication, regardless of drugs, and it’s just perception. This time though, it feels more lonely, like what I’m dealing with will forever be a source of personal madness and not alleviated by love or understanding. However, we must remember that this is all perception and acid is not a mind in itself but a reflection of our own. Basically, I feel there is a level of mundane social interaction I barely tolerated before, but now I’ll only meet with grunts.

Personally I’ve had to talk about it because I’ve been ready to explode at times. I myself have definitely felt I have partly forgotten older ways of being and have seen myself in a more pluralistic manner, but I have also tried to remember the things I enjoy, specific things I like. Put simply, if you look at everything in an objective unbiased manner, it can create a feeling of meaninglessness; nothing is above anything else in importance or differentiation. For me personally, this has turned into nihilism at times. Again, this could be blamed on a number of other factors in my life specifically, not just acid philosophy, but this kind of thinking has felt tripish. For example, I have increasingly started to have moments in conversation when interest seems to leave my mind immediately, and the context I’m existing in seems hollow or ridiculous – without gravity or importance. Of course, if this slips into ones’ perception of everything it can become debilitating, for example; reading any book or watching any film or doing anything and thinking there’s no point because it represents a mere fragment of existence and will in time be forgotten absolutely like myself. Now, this isn’t necessarily untrue, but that doesn’t mean thinking that way will make you happy either.

Recently, my friends and I played golf, I hadn’t played for years and neither had they. As we ambled around the pitch-and-putt course it really felt good to be focused on something so human, so eccentric – the clubs, the little balls and scorecards, the terms -bogey, over-par, birdie etc. something that represented the micro, not the macro – staring down at the tee, not up at the clouds for once. This reminded me that to get through life I couldn’t just expand my mind indefinitely, we can only comprehend so much and we must still live in the physical world. Sure, I could have questioned the meaning of the golf, putting the ball in the hole will change nothing for example, but I never even thought about it – I just enjoyed it. Acid reminds us to enjoy the simple pleasures also and this is the balance we must strike. My enjoyment of golf does not mean I advocate submitting to every micro-element of conventional society to be happy either, indeed, I still smoked a couple of joints before I picked up a club. I see the two extremes of this area manifested at the one end with a Big Brother contestant (ultra-reality) and at the other with an acid veteran (dead-reality) similar to the ones John talked to. The BB contestant reacts with OTT, caricatured, predictable emotional reactions to the slightest social or atmospheric happenings, whereas the LSD vet reacts to nothing because nothing is meaningful, no emotions are conjured, as if the top has been blown off the marquee and nothing is big enough to fill the hole. I think common LSD fuelled themes like circularity and seeing two sides to everything certainly seem to support the idea of balance, which is difficult to achieve.

Considering how much more there is left to learn about LSD, I feel the need to do a lot more of it, discover, learn to control it and try and apply it in different ways to expanding my mind further as a method of self-development. However, I do not want to turn into a soulless veteran, not even knowing or being able to articulate what they experience anymore as the drug has become so all-encompassing.

lsd acid tabs psychedelic

lsd acid tabs psychedelic

Flashbacks & After-Shocks

On a slightly lighter topic, I’d like to talk about some physical/mental after effects I’ve felt from acid. These could best be described as flash-backs, very brief, almost instantaneous thought. Also bear in mind that this has only happened a few times and most of those seem to have been helped along by smoking weed, it seems to be a catalyst for me. I’ll start with the coolest…

One dark night I was walking home, I’d smoked a few joints with some friends and was quite high. In the distance, tall lights lined the park and heavy dark grey clouds hung overhead. Just for a second the clouds seemed to flash purple, not bright, but perceptible and physically it felt like a little shiver and I just thought of the trip. Now it wasn’t the colour purple that took me back to the acid trip, I just felt it.

Thought is a very subtle process so I may sound crazy, but it felt like I was taken back just for a second to the trip, like the trip had punctured my reality briefly. It wasn’t a mystical vision or anything like that, if anything it felt mechanical, like a little twitch; I perceived it all at once. I didn’t see anything specific like the room we were in at the time, but that split second flash of purple just felt tripish. I’m no scientist, clearly, but I would be interested to know more about the relationship between weed and acid. For me, it seems like weed is a less potent stepping stone (once you’ve taken acid) for reminding your mind where it was when it was on acid, like it opens the door ajar again for a second. This could also be something physical like muscle memory, the acid just bubbles up in your system every now and then.

Other noticeable effects weed has had is perceptible morphing and contortion of vision. Looking at colourful geometric patterns- on curtains flowing in a breeze in my case- have seemed to provide some visuals and again memories of the trip. Another time I was watching someone fill a balloon with air on the television and I felt once more, a slight spasm as I was reminded of the laughing gas balloons we did on our trip and therefore the trip itself. More clearly, that particular flash was triggered by seeing something connected to the general trip, rather than randomly like the first I described. Also, that time the feeling was like a slight shiver through my face and a bleeding feeling at the back of the head, like the feeling you get when your heads congested and you swallow. It wasn’t a horrible feeling, I didn’t feel crazy or like I wasn’t in control, just slightly strange. Further to this, a similar flashback happened when someone said something specific that reminded of the trip, I can’t remember what now, but again implying it is akin to a physical response; it is so instantaneous.

I see things from different angles and have a wider range of perceptions more now also, I’ve seen a tree in the dark that made me think of a piece of black barrier reef; like the way we muse on what clouds look like, because they are less solid in form, more open to perception, that is how I now see other, sometimes solid objects, but more often nature. ‘But you know a tree still looks like a tree?!’ I hear you ask in consternation; yes, but it depends what I’m thinking about when I look at it is all I’m saying. Again, I was high when I felt this, but it felt tripish. I’ve also had slight feelings of paranoia whilst high on weed that have taken me back to when I felt scared on acid on the hard come-up. A still from a TV show we were watching when my trip hit a peak has briefly flashed back into my head whilst feeling paranoid on weed. The still is not properly perceptible; it’s a man sitting on a game-show style chair, it could be nothing like what we were actually watching at the time, but I know it references when I felt bad so that’s why it flashed into my brain. I find analysing this kind of thing fascinating because it may turn out I’m just remembering the acid trip now and again like you would remember any random happening and I’m making myself believe it is something more. I can only go on my perception however, and the examples I have given, did feel different to say, remembering the time you ate a McDonalds any time you see a Big Mac, or just thinking of a Big Mac randomly. There was a jolt, like the feeling was transient, physical and mental. I would be interested to know what others have felt on this matter; indeed some people, often musicians, have been driven mad by more vivid flashbacks!

Part of me feels acid has left an imprint on me that will possibly prove troublesome, but I see any after-effects just as delineations of one particular path, and every path has its pitfalls.

lsd acid paranoia trippy

lsd acid paranoia trippyParanoias

Before this trip I had done acid once before on my own, I had an enjoyable experience – albeit with some insecurities and guilt coming to the fore in the hairier moments. Being in a group for my second and much more profoundly affecting trip made me think more about how acid changed the nature of reality.

My first trip gave me shimmery visual effects and a lot of personal psychological analysis but not much musing on the wider universe and my place in it. This may be down to the acid being stronger in my second trip and opening my mind more, or perhaps the group dynamic; it could also have been all the MDMA we boshed before and after we’d dropped those paper tabs onto our tongues!

My experience of a group trip had pros and cons. Pros included the reassurance that if anything went wrong I’d have some sort of help, and there were new ideas being brought to the table e.g. Jack brought sensory stimuli like pens, crayons, furry books etc. – sounds silly but, simple pleasures and experiencing the highs and wonder together.

However, the cons for me did include a degree of paranoia, which I didn’t feel tripping alone because there was no perceived threat from anyone else. Some examples from, you guessed it- the height of my trip, include:

1. On being presented with genuine ‘smelly’ pens by my friend to draw with, I believed at the time they were actually normal pens and everyone was in on this except me. So, when asked to smell a ‘strawberry scented’ picture by the lads I believed they were experimenting with a mind trick trying to see if the suggestive power of LSD would make me think I was smelling strawberry and not ordinary red pen. I believed the ultimate aim of their experiment was to prove that group suggestion could outweigh an individuals’ reason and logic. This was a weird experience, but I got over it.

2. Once some paranoia creeps in it can then become a theme. At another stage of the evening we ambitiously went about moving the living room table and replacing it with a mattress. This was tricky whilst bombed already, and the paranoia came back again. Jack said ‘moving men’ because myself and two others were repositioning the table and this made me believe that Jack, camera in hand, was filming footage for a punk’d style show called ‘moving in men’ and that I again, was the dummy being duped. I believed the fantasy show ‘moving in men’ consisted of getting people boshed on acid and then convincing them that they were moving furniture that was actually stationary- to the hilarity of the studio audience – Bizarre. I had a partial hallucination at this point as Jack holding the camera, the table and my peripheral vision all blurred into one and when I sat down I also half-believed we had never moved the table and a feng-shui trick had been played on my eyes.

3. Over the course of the trip the nitrous oxide balloons we were caning were extremely enjoyable and at times blissful. However, the paranoia crept in again and I started to think that my friends were filling the balloons with air and again seeing if I would make myself think that I was doing gas when it was actually plain air or seeing if at the least I was pretending to go along with the group. This didn’t stop me smashing double balloons everytime they were going of course.

The paranoias I experienced seemed to tap into personal insecurities and display me at my most raw individual state balanced with my role in the group. This was unpleasant at the time but never crippling, because I knew there was no real threat from any of the perceived deceit. In the end it may not even be anything to do with my character, it just may be the way LSD made me feel at the time, who knows, it made me feel like I was just a vessel influenced by its surroundings rather than inherently a certain way. Don’t get me wrong either, these paranoias did pass after the height of the trip and I had a lot of great experiences. I feel I know myself and my place in the world better now.