Posts

lsd acid identity psychedelic

lsd acid identity psychedelic

Identity

Reality has seemed so petty at times afterwards. The feeling I had transcends the heights and limits of beauty and truth, at once amplifying them and making them seem ridiculous at the same time, or so normal they seem ridiculous. For example, the classical music seemed so beautiful and made so much sense as existing. It was as if every note had existed in that order before anyone ever composed it and, ironically, this also made it seem more everyday/pedestrian, whilst also being beautiful. When someone looks at the ceiling of the Cistine chapel, they may well feel in awe of the craftsmanship and even intimidated by the scale of the talent required to produce it. It may make one feel insignificant. However, if looking at Michaelangelo’s creation on acid, one might feel as if it had always had to look that way, a feeling of natural inevitability, like one could enjoy it’s simple beauty, the colours and shapes and meaning, and not the words of the tour guide. Acid can provide an appreciation of things that is free from the influence of cultural/historical factors long ingrained on the minds of most western industrialised psyches.

The stripping of cultural identity from contemplation, that acid provides, left me feeling that I was not the self that I knew and not even the self I thought I had become, but an empty vessel, a being of energy stretched into a strange shape, as we all are. All the qualities or details that I use to describe myself to people or how I classify myself in my own mind (white, middle-class etc.) appeared to become meaningless, just semantics. I felt sad at first thinking of myself as just space matter; it’s like the film we are the star of in our own heads (and the character we play) never getting to the production phase, forgotten. However, this was also liberating (again, circularity of thought –both sides); the feeling of cosmic insignificance relieves anxiety over status, self-consciousness, social expectations and materialism. The more sombre thinking on mortal insignificance has also, at times, boiled over into a numbing nihilism, but that might just be there naturally(!). I’ll explore this further in the concluding parts…

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.

realisa.jpg

Epic Realisations

It seemed to me different personalities within my friendship group displayed different reactions to LSD. I would consider myself a classic mix of loner and extrovert which meant at times whilst tripping I was very boisterous and silly and at other times I was withdrawn and a bit out there. My perception was that Chris seemed quite controlled (as he admitted after, very often he was fighting the drug) and went about his trip in a fairly orderly manner, Alex seemed quiet and thoughtful but earnest in trying to go along with the experience, and John was loud, crazy, excitable and highly suggestive and malleable – to me these all correspond with their personalities, almost as if the acid caricatured us. Because of this, the personal nature of the trip seemed to be more so for Chris and Alex as it was harder for me to gauge ostensibly what they were feeling, whereas with John, it was hard to ignore.

At one stage of the trip, I’d just had a freak out, mainly physical. I was coming up hard and had lost all sense of physical being which was scary; “Chris” I appealed, “I feel weird mate”. “It’s OK” he said, “you’ve taken drugs”.

I immediately calmed down and went back to drawing with my crayons. Just then, as if he’d been invisible for centuries I noticed John was lying flat out on a sofa, headphones in, staring up at the ceiling, clutching our acid diary notebook as if he was hanging onto the edge of a cliff. As the psychedelic band Tame Impala whirred through his head he seemed to writhe and convulse rigidly, wriggling feverishly in the sofa as if each contortion brought with it a sublime mixture of agony and ecstasy, revelation and destruction.

Suddenly, my freak out seemed minor. I wanted to be where John was, seeing the truths he was seeing. This feeling was reinforced by his constant cries of; “Epic realisations! Oh my word! Epic realisations!”. What insane mysteries were being unfolded to him? Part of me thought he was hamming it up as he would do sober, but that didn’t seem to matter when perception is all and reality is nowhere. “It all makes sense” and phrases like it kept coming out of John’s mouth. At one point, the craziest his face looked throughout, John sat up, his hair askew on the side that had been continually nuzzled into the sofa during the course of Tame Impala’s back catalogue; “It’s all just a game” he laughed insanely, “It’s all just a game and it goes round and round and round and round.”

It seemed that the real truth lay within each of us. I wanted to experience what John was because of my desire to feel real truth, cosmic truth, whatever that is. After all, trippers are all explorers, cosmonauts, we do it because our minds are hungry, but I knew I couldn’t because any time we tried to impart information to each other it was distorted by perception like cosmic Chinese whispers.

The real world is the same except we have constructed semantics as a short cut to understanding; if someone says they want to eat lunch you assume they want to eat lunch because that is the prescribed thing to say – but this is not necessarily so in acid land. John’s epic realisation was about himself fundamentally, the realisation was his own reaction. More broadly I think the trip showed me how alone we all are as human beings. Understanding that someone wants lunch is one thing, but when the tricky matter of expressing feelings romantically or passionately or seriously in deeper contexts emerges it is far more worrying. How do we ever really know if someone has understood us or whether we really understand what we are trying to impart to others? We think we know, but then we sometimes see something from a different angle. With less change and experiences that offer new perspectives in one’s life, the more hardened, dogmatic, stale and self-affirming/deluding we become, and this role giving/labelling allows society to function, everyone playing the role they believe is theirs, a self-ascribed role.

However, more positively, John and I did have a moment that did seem wonderfully pure and symbiotic. After John’s revelations were subsiding, Chris and Alex de-camped to Alex’s room to do some drawing and chill out. John and I racked the balloons up with nitrous oxide and got into giggling fits, John was now writhing all over the mattress in the centre of the room and laughing his tits off. I joined him on the mattress and noticed we hadn’t tucked into one of the many delights of confectionary that John had brought along for the trip; Head Squirters – it sounds like an 80’s horror B-movie, I know. Head Squirters, or Mr. Head Squirters, more accurately, is a small plastic figure (Sponge Bob-esque) with a removable head (lid), and legs that when twisted proceed to make a greyish blue goo ooze out of a plastic mesh on the figures head, presumably representing his brains; a concept quite representative of an acid trip in itself.

Anyway, after a lengthy investigation into how to actually get some fucking goo out of the thing, John and I marvelled in the product’s novelty, fingering the indeterminate goo into our mouths like creatures lapping it up out of the primordial swamp, laughing hysterically like children. Neither of us seemed to know why this was so funny, possibly because of the silly nature of the product, but it was joyous; I felt free and alive and we both laughed in the moment as if that goo was organic matter itself, ready to evolve in our stomachs. There was something so liberating and vital and plain hilarious about that moment, which genuinely did feel shared as opposed to the moments of solitude I’d experienced. After this, I ventured into Chris and Alex’s den and told them Mr. Head Squirters wished to pay them a visit – they declined to interact.

colorado nature mountains

LSD: The Aftermath

While preparing to write this, a eulogy to an acid trip and its consequences, I have wrestled each day with thoughts that sometimes seem to increase in intensity and complexity with time, rather than dissipating. Even in trying to write this, the introduction, I feel like I am writing a conclusion, the feeling of circularity is palpable. As soon as articulation in the mind begins to inform the fingers, the thought chain has skipped ahead to some presumably logical next level. Sometimes, this confusion can halt writing altogether. Any discussion on human existence or understanding will always carry with it the pitfalls of the unknown, making descriptive or definitive statements difficult to conjure. Whether LSD or similar substances are just chemical tricks that have nothing to do with real truth or whether they are the root to some deeper understanding is not important, the important thing is that the experience can change one’s perception of reality long after the event, possibly forever. Because this subject requires a discussion on the nature of reality, I can only describe the view from my island, which seems natural, except, I’ve only just arrived myself.

Return To Reality

Considering the day directly after the trip was a blur, I see my real return to a sort of normality coming the day after that. I remember feeling miffed that while my friend and fellow voyager John’s return train journey home to a weird little place like Leamington Spa would be direct, I would have to get off at East Midlands Parkway and take a coach the rest of the way to Leicester (a slightly bigger, weird place), adding an hour and forty five minutes to my journey.

Another of my fellow voyagers, Chris, walked me up hill to the bus stop and left me with a solitary BLT in my hand from the local shop. Having not been out in the daylight for a few days I suddenly felt exposed to the world; the afternoon was grey and blustery, the wind whipping in at me. I stood at the bus stop with my holdall between my legs and two coats on, bleary-eyed and unshaven, the pillow I had brought with me placed on top of my bag. The pillow at my feet brought with it the visual suggestion I was some sort of drifter or vagrant, and standing perched on that hill at the bus stop I did begin to feel different, like I was a drifter, but I wasn’t drifting from town to town, I was drifting through states of consciousness.

This feeling manifested itself as I looked at the dreary street of local shops around me, the grey light was almost tangibly embedded in the air, like a cloud of gas seeping into my pores and allowing me to actually feel the mundane, pithy nature of that afternoon that dragged me back into reality. However, just as I began to feel deflated, I caught myself and remarked in my own head: ‘it’s all just a trick, a game’ and suddenly felt some weight lift off my shoulders. In itself, this wasn’t a remarkable statement, many phrases carry a similar message (with or without reference to a drug experience) like ‘that’s life’, for example. What differed in this instance was my thought process – it felt different. Almost everyone has times when they shrug off a bad mood or thought by telling themselves not to worry, but on this occasion I meant it more deeply for the first time. I had often told myself ‘that’s life’, implying that you win some and lose some, but this time I seemed to find comfort in the fact there is no winning or losing. After my come down was initially hardened by the feelings of mediocrity that the provincial street scene filled me with, I’d very quickly felt my new consciousness intervene and felt liberated, if only for a moment. As I stepped on the bus finally, pillow in hand, I thought; ‘Am I a different person now?’

I was worried I would miss the train as I was cutting things fine, but as the bus turned the next corner I found myself at the apex of a hill with Sheffield spread out below me and sunlight suddenly flooding in through the windows. I looked at the view, the city below didn’t look scary or large. I didn’t think of all the little lives going on down there, it appeared irreverent and flippant, almost like it was just a shape itself. I then closed my eyes and saw that bright dark you see when the suns on them. I saw interlocking patterns in different colours. I didn’t magically see geometric patterns because of the after effects of LSD, I saw the same shapes we all see when we scrunch our eyes up, except this time I saw them differently – I laughed and felt joyous. It was a different me now.

To heighten my feelings of being a solitary mystic wanderer on my journey home, I rebelliously sat in first class on the train (without a first class ticket). The ticket collector told me it was fine that I sat there as there were hardly any passengers on the holiday service but that normally she would have to move me. Why did she have to add a warning of a hypothetical future scenario? It was merely to assert some sort of pithy authority in the face of a rule flouter. This immediately heightened my thoughts of reality, and these were the first inklings I had that my mind would be going to strange places far more frequently than usual over seemingly commonplace happenings post-trip. The ticket lady had created another reality in her head to add to the current perception of the reality we were supposedly sharing – the present moment. This showed me how natural the feelings you have on acid are, even in ‘normal’ reality we as humans are constantly inventing slightly altered past and future versions of events that do have an effect on present sets of circumstances. In this instance, it’s that I would now probably be less likely to chance sitting in first class.

After this musing I remembered that I had a BLT and devoured it ravenously, enjoying the simplicity of it and again feeling like I was appreciating it differently now; I felt less self-conscious about the way I was eating. This could be perceived as rude -to eat like a pig – but it gave me a strange thought. People who suffer serious head trauma in accidents sometimes become more sexually explicit in their language or behaviour. Perhaps this is just them returning to a more natural state of humanity and it is only our societal blushing that makes this behaviour seem odd because we have devised ways of talking about sex and attraction – scientifically, with puns etc. Devouring the sandwich and ignoring rules of proper ways to eat, was I in a more natural state?

These questions of perception came to a head once I got off the train and made it on to the coach. I sat at the back so I could relax and wrestle some more with the questions in my head. Unfortunately a big group of middle-aged guys came and sat at the back too. Their conversations seemed intensely banal after the experience I’d had. On the way home, one of the group was chomping on a marmite cereal bar and saying out loud the names of business signs the coach happened to pass. As we went through the less than picturesque town of Loughborough I heard in the corner of my ear: ‘Sandicliffe Ford’- ‘hmmm’, ‘Bartley’s Bakery’ – ‘oh’ and ‘Abdul Jalfrezi House’- ‘right’. I felt like telling him to shut up, it seemed like the very epitome of closed thought – reading out company names just to say them out loud. At that moment, the sun came flooding through the windows and blurred the faces of the group. With no facial features they seemed like shells, imprints that were melting into the landscape as if they were just matter – it made me feel content again; ‘it’s just a trick’. As I looked out at a stunning sunset, I was filled with a sense of beauty and peace and wanted to cry. I hoped those guys, even from their island, could see it too.

When I finally got back to the family home, I had a bacon sarnie, a cuppa and an early night. The next day seemed virginally bright like the start of a new era, and everyone I walked past in the street didn’t know what I had – I had a higher knowledge which was an inexpressible feeling. Some must know, and from now on I will see people as in two camps – those who have understood this experience also, and those who haven’t – those who care about the hum drum, the petty, are swallowed up by the game we’ve created for ourselves in the societal mind: not the true game, the true mystery.