“A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of spacetime dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures.” – The Psychedelic Experience
This is an extension to my earlier post Psychedelic Mushrooms and You, which covered the process of finding, identifying, drying, and storing magic mushrooms found in the wild. That guide was written with the intention of making psychedelics more readily available to those seeking it with the hope that the information might open doors for those who were wanting to explore different planes of consciousness and not just get high for kicks. It also served the purpose of helping others become more capable in avoiding poisonous lookalikes, thus avoiding potential unnecessary deaths. Psychedelics can be a real game changer as far as your life is concerned; they can be fun, exciting, playful, weird, tense, frightening, expanding, contracting and everything else on the spectrum. At times taking psychedelics can be like putting your mind under under a microscope, or plugging it into an amplifier – it can and probably will confront you with yourself, and this can either enlighten or frighten the shit out of you depending on your level of preparation. It is for this reason that it is important to treat psychedelics with a great deal of respect, and one way of doing this is to mentally prepare yourself for the experience before you have it.
Note: a lot of the photos in this post were taken on an amazing mushroom trip I had in the spring of 2012, whilst road ‘tripping’ with two close friends through the great alpine road in a rented winnebago, which we affectionately named the ‘dojo’.
- Page 1 – Planning a session (the page you’re reading).
- Page 2 – Choosing a psychedelic that’s right for you.
- Page 3 – Preparing for takeoff.
- Page 4 – Floating downstream.
Many guides have been written before this one, and most have been written with the same intention of aiding others on their own psychological or spiritual journey, but before the rise of the internet and the open sharing of information they mainly existed in the physical form as shamans, yogis, and psychotherapists. It is important to have the insight and support of such persons when embarking on any type of psychedelic voyage, but as these people are not so easily available to most people, written guides have emerged in their place as alternatives. This manual is in no way going to be hugely comprehensive, or even contain anything that you might not already know; it is simply an extra trail of breadcrumbs that I am offering to the internet, in the hope that it may help someone find their way home. The guide will integrate information from various sources, particularly Timothy Leary’s ‘The Psychedelic Experience’, and fuse it with my own personal history with psychedelic drugs, in particular psilocybin mushrooms, which I have (literally) grown to love.
1. Planning a Session
Before you even think about experimenting with psychedelic substances it is important to become conscious of your reasons for doing so. Maybe you haven’t given it much thought, and if that’s the case now is a good time to brainstorm. Just like you are supposed to have a query in mind before you consult the I Ching, so too should you have a goal outlined before you consult a psychedelic drug. If you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish beforehand then you are more likely to achieve it. Hinduism suggests four motives for pursuing any activity, and the list works within the context of this guide.
- For increased personal power, intellectual understanding, sharpened insight into self and culture, improvement of life situation, accelerated learning, professional growth.
- For duty, help of others, providing care, rehabilitation, rebirth for fellow men.
- For fun, sensuous enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure, interpersonal closeness, pure experience.
- For transcendence, liberation from ego and space-time limits; attainment of mystical union.
Consult the above list and decide which is the main force driving your desire to experiment with psychedelics. If you will be with a group of people then it’s important to all agree on a motivation for the trip, or at the very least be aware of each other’s personal motivations. It should also be decided whether one wishes to have an introverted or extroverted psychedelic experience. An introverted experience involves the self being involved with internal phenomena such as thoughts, closed eye hallucinations, energy patterns, vibrations, biological forms etc, while an extroverted experience draws its attention towards external objects such as nature, people, open eyed hallucinations, perception warps etc. To have an extroverted trip it’s useful to bring certain items that will help guide your awareness to the external world, things such as candles, pictures, fruit, or better yet just bring yourself to nature. For the introverted trip try to eliminate all external stimuli, objects, sounds, movement etc. Close your eyes and meditate. If your companions are not aware of your motivations then they might unintentionally get in the way of you having a good time and vice versa.
Now before I continue with the guide I will list the pros and cons of psychedelic drugs as outlined in Ram Dass’ book ‘Be Here Now’. Ram Dass, before pursuing the spiritual trip in India, was a psychotherapist who had ingested various psychedelic substances over 300 times, he also co authored Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience. So I guess you could say he is a bit of an expert on the subject. Note that these pros/cons are specifically for individuals using psychedelics for spiritual or psychological/introspective purposes, not for recreation.
“The ‘pros’ of psychedelics are as follows:
- For a person deeply attached to any finite reality which he takes to be absolute, the psychedelics can, under proper conditions, help him to break out of the imprisoning model created by his own mind.
- The use of psychedelics can provide experiences which in the short term strengthen your faith in the possibility of enlightenment sufficiently to pursue systematic purification (which ultimately will, of course, include giving up psychedelics). They often serve this function even though the glimpse they give may only be of a low astral plane.
- Carefully programmed psychedelic sessions can have significant therapeutic value in providing new perspectives for areas of strong attachment. That is, for a person who is caught, for example, in strongly learned oral or sexual habits, a psychedelic session can provide a moment of transcending these habits, and thus experiencing the possibility of alternative reactions. This experience will be temporary, for you are merely overriding the desires which feed the habits in the first place. However, the experience may give leverage to your work with these strong drive areas.
- The deepest psychedelic experiences allow one to transcend polarities and thus get beyond fears of death, or entrapments in the guilt created by attachment to the polarity of good and evil.
The ‘con’s of psychedelics are as follows:
- You still come down. The experience is not permanent. Coming down brings despair.
- Because the psychedelic agent is external to yourself, its use tends to subtlely reinforce in you a feeling that you are not enough. Ultimately, of course, at the end of the path you come to realize that you have been Enough all the way along.
- The intensity with which the psychedelics show you ‘more’ makes you greedy to be done before you are ready. This attaches you to the experience of ‘getting high’ which, after a period of time, becomes a dead end. The goal of the path is to BE high, not GET high.
- Many people who use psychedelics primarily experience astral planes where their ego is present. Thus they often attempt to use the powers that are available in such an astral plane in the service of their own ego. This creates additional karma for them – for it is action which comes out of attachment. Many messianic trips are of this nature. Sometimes such individuals get stuck at one or another astral plane and lose contact with the gross physical plane. In the West such beings are usually hospitalized until they find their way back to the physical plane. Of course, what in fact has happened is that they have not gone far enough. For the psychiatrist is attached to the physical plane (denying the reality of other planes) in the same way that the patient is attached to the astral plane (denying the reality of other planes including the physical). The only true reality includes all these planes and is beyond them all at the same time. This is know as the paradox of Mahamudra – the paradox of two-in-one.
- Using violent methods as one’s upaya (method), such as strong psychedelics or kundalini yoga, severe fasts etc., lead to an uneveness in the individual’s vibrations. This creates waves in the environment because the person is not quite able to keep it all together. You should be able to remember your zip code even as you drift in intergalactic ecstacy. Keeping it all together is hard.
- Psychedelics are, for the most part, illegal. This means that in order to use them you must break the law. Breaking the law involves risks which create anxiety and paranoia. Anxiety and paranoia are not good states of mind in which to pursue one’s sadhana (spiritual work). Furthermore, breaking the law means that you must function within the polarity of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Only a very advanced being can do this without attachment.”