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Mystical. Peak. Transcendent. Religious. Whichever term you’ve heard, I’m talking about something exceptional and profound – the type of experience that ranks as one of most the meaningful in life.

“The emotional reaction in the peak experience has a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender before the experience as before something great.”
– Abraham Maslow 

Psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that peak experiences are characteristic of psychological health and play an important role in self-actualization – right at the top of his famous hierarchy. These experiences are typically spiritual in nature and are often followed by therapeutic after effects or dramatic personal growth.

abraham maslow hierarchy needs psychedelic psychology

Planning A Mystical Experience

Psychedelics, AKA entheogens – ancient Greek for ‘generating the divine within’ – can facilitate mystical experiences more reliably than any other currently known method (seeing the earth from space also seems fairly reliable but this is currently even less accessible than psychedelics). There is recent research to support this relationship, though it should be remembered that these trials are done in highly controlled settings – and I believe a methodological approach helps to increase the chances of such an experience.

So this is a guide to set you up for a soul-stirring, therapeutic, sacred, self-actualizing trip. Its a compilation drawn from my own experience and practices drawn from a few sources. You can find a list at the end.

This guide includes:

  • Preparation: Checklist + Weeks and Days Before
  • Navigation: What to do during the trip, and in difficult moments
  • Integration: What to do the day after, how to begin to integrate insights

Dosage
 psilocybin psilocin capsules shrooms magic mushrooms

The smaller the dose, the less likely a mystical experience. Psychedelic research has shown a clear correlation between a larger dose and a more complete mystical experience. They also found that the more complete the mystical experience, the more benefit the recipient had to their psychological wellbeing (on scores of depression and anxiety). However, if you don’t have much experience with psychedelics I don’t recommend going for a big dose for your first time. Better to become somewhat familiar with them and figure out your tolerance and reaction.
For most people a breakthrough dose will be:

4-6 grams dried mushrooms
30-55 grams fresh psilocybin truffles
200-300 micrograms LSD

Check Erowid for peyote and San Pedro.

Preparation

There are two general aims for the preparation of your trip:
1. To have you approach the trip well rested, in good health, and with a positive state of mind.
2. To get you thinking about your life in a larger context.

Checklist

You will need:

  • 2 full days free. One day for the trip + the day after. The day before too, if possible. For the trip day you should be totally free and fine to switch your phone off and effectively disappear from the world.
  • A comfortable, private indoor space (totally private for 1 day). Somewhere you feel safe.
  • Device to play music e.g. ipod, laptop, CD player. (I recommend digital player for ease of use)
  • Good pair of headphones
  • Eye mask or blindfold
  • Photos for ‘picture trip’

The Picture Trip

[The ‘picture trip’ is a technique that was employed by a pioneer of psychedelic therapy, Leo Zeff. This is adapted from the book about Leo and his methods, The Secret Chief Revealed.]

Before the trip you will need to gather some photos. These photos will be a history of your life.

picture trip pictures photos

Pictures To Gather:

  • Yourself, one at age two and one every two years thereafter through adolescence, up to adulthood.
  • Two pictures each of your mother, father and any siblings; one when they were young but you can still remember them, and a recent one.
  • Pictures of any other family members that are or were significant in your life.
  • A picture of your husband/wife, or any woman or man who has had great significance in your life. Lovers, current or past. If you’re married, wedding pictures.
  • If you have children, a picture of them when they were about two years old, and a recent one.
  • Any other significant pictures. Any pictures with an emotional charge.

As you go through your photos to find these, spend some time looking through your photo collection. Spend a few moments with each photo, looking at it and seeing what you feel with each one. If any memories or feelings come up, sit with them and see where they go. When you come across a picture for the picture trip, put it aside. Try to do this no further away than a week before the trip, as close to the time of the trip as you can.

The Sitter

Decide if you want a sitter – someone to keep an eye on you and help you through any difficult periods should they arise. It might be easier to let go completely if you know you have someone there to take care of you, or you may prefer to be alone.

John Hopkins Psilocybin Study

Research setting for a study into the effects of psilocybin at John Hopkins University.

If you decide on a sitter, choose someone you trust. Agree the date with that person ahead of time. You’ll only need them for the trip day, but they should be free from the time you begin until the end of the day. They might not have to do much but assure you of your safety and be there for you.

If for whatever reason you’re going ahead without a sitter, I’d recommend spending more time learning the basics of meditation.

The Weeks Before

Learn the basics in meditation

The ability to relax and let go is key when it comes to the more intense parts of the session and important in maximizing the therapeutic aspect of your trip. For this reason, having some familiarity with some basic techniques of meditation will be enormously helpful – its practice in how to calmly observe your current reality without resistance. It will help you to open yourself to the experience rather than resisting, and go deeper, moving past blocks.

Meditate for at least 10 minutes a day for the two weeks leading up to your trip.

meditate mindfulness

Especially important if you don’t have a sitter as in the absence of someone else to help relax and reassure you, you’ll need to relax yourself. If you have the time and the inclination, a silent course is the best way become well versed with meditation quickly.

Otherwise a good place to start is the free app Insight. There are also other apps and plenty of guided meditation resources online.

Think About Your Intentions

Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish or gain from the experience? Be honest with yourself. Having a clear intention doesn’t mean that it’ll be fulfilled but it’s important in framing the experience.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

journal notepad write notes

Write down 5 things you are grateful for everyday in the week leading up to your trip. It can be as small or profound as you like, from ‘nice weather today’ or ‘a delicious lunch’ to ‘family’ or ‘health’. Sit with the feeling of gratitude that it brings for a minute.

Check medication

If you’re taking medication, make sure there are no possible adverse interactions with these medications and the substance you’re taking. If you’re taking medication for a something that can be managed by lifestyle changes – exercise, weight loss, diet adjustments, quitting alcohol, tobacco, caffeine – try these first to see if some of the medications may no longer be necessary. For these processes, see your doctor.

The Days Before

Prepare your playlist and music player

Generally it’s recommended to use instrumental or world music with lyrics that are unintelligible as understandable lyrics can be distracting and limit the experience. Ambient and classical music are good general recommendations. You can make a playlist for the whole trip, or you can have all songs and albums that you might want ready and easily accessible on your player. Be sure to have at least 8 hours of music ready and allow for passages of at least 45 minutes where you don’t need to change or put on more music.

ipod music phone headphones

Listening to relaxing music in the initial phase is a nice way to help calm yourself when the substance is taking effect and you’re coming up. Save more intense tracks for later.

Links for ideas:
How To Pick Music For People On LSD, From A Scientist Whose Job That Is
Sacred Knowledge: Hopkins Playlist For Psilocybin Studies

Full playlists from the scientists working in psychedelic research:
Mendel’s Kaelen’s Psilocybin Playlists on Spotify: Therapy Playlist 1 | Playlist 2
Mendel Kaelen Psilocybin playlist 1 on Mixcloud
Bill Richards psilocybin playlist | SpotifyiTunes
Kelan Thomas psilocybin playlists on Spotify:  Playlist 1 | Playlist 2

Tidy up loose ends

Pay the overdue bill, send those emails and make those phone calls you’ve been putting off.

Check in with loved ones

Call or go see those most important to you.

The Day Before

Prepare Food
Get some snacks ready. Nuts, seeds and fruits are good as maintaining a steady blood sugar level is ideal. Prepare your dinner and have it waiting for you in the fridge. Simplicity for tomorrow is the aim here.

Walk in Nature
The fresh air and nature will help clear your mind.

walk nature

Understand Your Intentions
Revisit and clarify your intentions.

Avoid alcohol and spicy or greasy food
To ensure good quality sleep and a settled stomach the next day. You don’t want to be dealing with a dodgy belly on the big day.

Clean your space
Hoover, wipe down surfaces, clear away clutter. 

Go to bed early and allow yourself a good nights rest
Follow the common advice for a good night’s sleep – don’t drink coffee late, have a digital sunset. If you usually have difficulty sleeping, consider some form of exercise earlier in the day.

bed bedroom sleep

The Trip Day

Switch your phone off. For all purposes you should be unavailable to the world.

Pre-trip
Have a light, healthy breakfast. Oats or a green smoothie are both good options.

Wear comfortable, clean, and loose fitting clothes. Make any final preparations to your space. Have blankets, water and snacks on hand.

sacrament chalice

Drop Ceremony
‘Ceremony’ doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just make the taking of the substance special in some way. You could wash it down with water drank from a lucky cup, or say a short prayer beforehand. Something to set this experience apart from the everyday. Make it unique.

Meditate – 10-20 minutes.

Waiting
If you are with a sitter, talk with them about your feelings, expectations, and hesitations. If you are alone, take a pad and paper and write them down.

Going Up
When you start to feel the effects, lie down and get comfortable. Put your headphones and eye mask on and start your playlist. Listen to the music and relax.

When you notice yourself tightening up or feeling nervous, relax your body and pay attention to your breath. Use what you’ve learned in meditation.

‘We regain our balance through the proper application of attention and awareness. This is the slowing down, which we can facilitate physically through relaxed, deep breathing and helps release any tension in our bodies. Once we’ve slowed ourselves down and replanted our psychic feet, it is easier to move our consciousness through the resistance or block.’
 – Preparation For The Journey; Inner Pathways To Outer Space

The Trip

The peak of the trip is where you might go through the processes by which psychological healing occurs – projection, transference, abreaction, and catharsis. To do this, be open to the experience:

Trust. Let go. Be open. Breathe. Surrender.

You may experience challenging emotions but know that this isn’t bad – this is the chance to process something you might’ve been holding back.

Remember, difficult is not bad – challenging experiences can wind up being our most valuable, and may lead to learning and growth. Consider that it may be happening for an important reason. Try to approach the fear and difficult aspects of your experience with curiosity and openness.”
– Zendo Project

Coming Down

As you feel the effects start to subside and the peak tailing off. Go sit at a table with the photos.

Picture Trip

Start with the pictures of yourself. Pick up the first picture. Just look at it and see what you experience. Look at it as long as you want to. When you’re through looking at it, put it down. If you are with a sitter you might have something to say. Say it. If not, you don’t have to say anything. Put it down and go on to the next picture.

Through this process you might record a voice memo or write some things down. These notes can be helpful later when you go back and revisit them. They will reconnect you with your whole experience.

Ending The Day

After you’ve gone through the pictures, relax. You might want to sit around and chat with your sitter or listen to some music. You might be hungry and can go and retrieve the food you’ve prepared. You might want to go for a walk outside. Perhaps you’re exhausted and ready for bed. Go, sleep well.

The Day After

This day should be left free. Leave plenty of time for recovery, reflection and integration. Take It Easy.

Sleep well. Lie in. Have a nice breakfast. Meditate. Chill. Go for a walk or listen to some music. Take some time for yourself. Do not rush back into chores or your daily routine, no matter how tempting it is or how pressing those concerns seem to be. They can wait. The return to familiarity might seem appealing but you should have time to relax and process your experience.

When you feel ready…

Write It Down

Take a pen and paper and write about your trip.

  • What did you experience? (You may prefer to draw or paint this)
  • What does it mean?
  • Did you learn anything?
  • Did you experience any insights or revelations?

Hopefully you were able to learn something of value that you can take with you and apply to your life. With any insights fresh in your mind, you can start to…

Look Forward

  • How can you apply them to your life?
  • What can you do to live what you’ve learnt?

Try to think of some actionable steps you can take. Making a plan can be helpful to implement a new attitude or lifestyle change you want to adopt. Whatever it is you need to do, write it down and make a commitment to follow through with it. It doesn’t have to be big or extensive, any kind of framework to help you move forward is good. Starting a course of change can be tough but a plan with small steps will help. When you want to be reconnected to your experience, revisit any notes or voice memos you’ve made. Don’t expect total transformation overnight, go bit by bit.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
– Lao Tzu

I hope you’re ready for the next chapter. The real trip starts now – it’s life.

In the weeks and months following a powerful experience it may be beneficial to have some people you can talk about your experience with. If that’s not possible with people already in your life, it might be useful to find a local psychedelic integration circle or communityI wish you the best of luck.

References & Resources:

Books:
The Secret Chief Revealed – Myron J. Stolarof
Inner Paths To Outer Space – Rick Strassman et al. (Chapter: Preparation For The Journey)
– The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic & Sacred Journeys – James Fadiman

Online:
How To Have A Mystical Experience: A Research Based Guide – Freedom & Fulfilment

The Zendo Project

Finding Psychedelic Community:
Psychedelic.Community
3 Ways You Can Engage With Psychedelic Community – The Third Wave

shroom magic mushroom tea

Eating magic mushrooms high up in the mountains of Oaxaca and enjoying the incredible views there remains one of my most treasured memories. If you’re travelling through Mexico and in search of some exploration via a psychedelic adventure, well good news, you’re in a country with an incredible legacy of psychedelic use that continues to the present day.

As well as peyote to be found in the desert and salvia to be chewed with Mazatec shamans, there are plenty of mushies to be munched.

If its shrooms that you’re after, I wrote this for you.

mushrooms shrooms psilocybin

Where Can I Find Shrooms?

The state of Oaxaca. There are two towns in Oaxaca where you can source shrooms; Huautla de Jimenéz and San Jose Del Pacifico. Huautla de Jimenéz is where Maria Sabina lived and famously gave Gordon Watson his historic first dose that ended up turning on the West. I’ve heard there are many shamans in Huautla and that people might even be greeting you as you get off the bus. I haven’t been myself so I can’t give advice. Here’s a link to an interesting blog post from someone who has been.

Would you like to take your psychedelic use to the next level?
Join R/EVOLUTION, our one of a kind psychedelic course! R/EVOLUTION is a deep dive co-creative experience designed to empower you to find a personalised approach to using psychedelics for transformation and growth. Starts November 1st 2021

San Jose Del Pacifico

San jose del pacifico oaxaca

San Jose Del Pacifico is a small village nestled up in the mountains between the city of Oaxaca and the pacific coast. The views from this village are sublime and watching the sun set over the mountains after a trip is something out of a fairy tale.

There is a tradition of ‘hongos’ – mushrooms in Spanish – in San Jose and they are easy to find and buy. Just ask around once you arrive, a basic level of Spanish will suffice.

san jose del pacifico mexico sunset

Cost

The cost will depend on the season. If you go during the rainy season, July to October, when the shrooms are sprouting, you can find them for as little as 50 pesos ($3) for a pre-packaged dose. The rest of the year, you might pay up to around 300-400 pesos ($15-20) for the same amount, depending on your source.

Dosage

Speak with your seller. They will typically sell you per dosage. Or tell how many doses what they’ve sold you has.

shrooms magic mushrooms mexico

Serving

You can get them served in a tea, dry, or preserved in honey. Depends where you get them from. However you take them, I’d recommend taking them on an empty stomach – to make the most of your dose and to lessen any nausea.

shroom magic mushroom tea

Mushroom tea

shrooms magic mushrooms honey

Preserved in honey

How & Where?

This is of course up to you, but here are a few options. Scroll down for more info on each one.

  1. Go to the woods
  2. Journey in a private accommodation
  3. Find a temazcal ceremony

1. Go To The Woods

woods nature trip mexico

Classic nature trip option. Head up the hill and into the woods. Or off the main road to find a quiet spot. This was my MO every time during my visits mainly because even though I had a private room with a nice view where I was staying, it was kinda noisy cause of the other guests.

If you’re heading out to nature, be prepared: It can be roasting hot in the sun during the day, and very cold in the mornings and evenings. And pay attention to your route, you really don’t wanna get lost in the woods. I wouldn’t fancy an unplanned night out there.

Things to take:

  • Clothes suitable for heat and cold – Like I said, climate can vary wildly.
  • Something to lie on – Though nature is nice, so is being comfortable. Think sleep/yoga mat or blanket.
  • Water and food – Common sense. Nuts and fruit are always a good option.
  • Music – Come on, you’re gonna be tripping.
  • Pen and paper – For drawing or writing.
  • Pre-rolled joints – I wouldn’t recommend if its your first time tripping, but if you’re partial to a smoke, the hash in San Jose is really nice. Your tripping self will thank you for the pre-rolleds later. A highlight of my time in San Jose was gazing at the clouds whilst enjoying a hash joint and listening to JJ Cale. That guy could seriously play.
woods forest nature

My spot for an afternoon

2. Journey In a Private Accommodation

If your own accommodation is relatively quiet and away from distractions, this would be a good option. If it’s with a view over the mountains, even better.

Here I’ll direct you to a post on warrior.do about creating your own mushroom retreat – the post is about doing one in Bali but the advice is excellent and still applies. On the page scroll down to where it says “How To Hold a Mushroom Retreat”.

How To Have A Magic Mushroom Retreat – warrior.do

3. Find a Temazcal Ceremony

I’ve heard that some of the local temazcals (sweat lodges) offer mushrooms as part of a ceremony. I didn’t take part in one of these so can’t comment but it might be worth investigating if you’re interested. If you have experience or information, please post in the comments below.

san jose del pacifico sunset

Safe Travels!

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.

——————————————————

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.

Would you like to take your psychedelic use to the next level?
Join R/EVOLUTION, our one of a kind psychedelic course!

R/EVOLUTION is a deep dive co-creative community experience designed to empower you to find a personalised approach to using psychedelics for transformation and growth. Starts November 1st 2021!

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.

Had your DMT trip, but can’t remember shit?
Read more: How to Integrate a Difficult-to-Remember DMT Experience

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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.