Cacti - T. bridgesii
Citation: Basswood. "Massive Dose of an Extremely Athletic Plant: An Experience with Cacti - T. bridgesii (exp111539)". Erowid.org. Sep 22, 2018. erowid.org/exp/111539
BACKGROUND: I am married, a father, ex military, ex law enforcement, nearly 50 years old, have a drink once or twice a year, haven’t smoked in 7 years, take Kratom daily for chronic pain issues, smoked pot a few times about 30 years ago, and had never taken a psychedelic substance in my life. I did about a year of research on various plant medicines and decided on San Pedro for its gentleness relative to other psychedelics, hallucinogens, and delerients, such as ayahuasca, mushrooms, DMT, and LSD. My intentions with plant were for it assist me in introspection with problems I needed to solve and personal issues on which I thought I needed to work.
PREPARATION: I took 4 feet of what was already known to be a very potent and stressed bridgesii and froze and defrosted it 3 times. Did not remove skin, thorns, or core, just chopped it into 1 or 2 inch pieces and blended it. There was very little moisture in it so had to add about a quarter cup of water while blending. I took a baseball size scoop of pulp at a time and squeezed it through a t-shirt into a bowl; repeated until all the pulp was squeezed dry. Filtered the liquid 2 more times through a clean t-shirt and ended up with about 30+ ounces of nice bright green tea, not dark and brown like it turns when reduced with heat. Kept in the fridge, fasted for two days, and set up tents in a quiet national forest with a fellow drinker on a warm winter day. I planned to keep my phone in my hand in airplane mode in case I felt like listening to music but also as a real physical item to ground me in reality should I need it.
1400: My friend and I each drank 15+ ounces over the course of 15 minutes or so. The bitterness was not nearly as bad as I was expecting and it didn’t taste vomitous like the heated batch I had already taken a sip of a few months prior to see what might be in store for me. It was very “planty,” almost like drinking aloe. We took a short walk through the forest and began to feel slight effects, our thoughts growing foggy, as if drinking too many beers. After about 30 minutes we both felt slightly queasy and decided to sit down by our tents. A nice buzz began to course through our bodies around this same time and we confirmed that our senses had became slightly exaggerated, e.g. the feeling of my feet sinking into the pine needle bedding of the forest floor felt much more mushy, the trees stood out individually from each other much more, and the sound of leaves falling was much more pronounced than it had been 30 minutes earlier. I wondered if this was to be the extent of it and I began to try to focus on my intentions.
1445: A slight nausea overtook me and I thought that maybe if I vomited, some of the fogginess would disappear and I could focus better on what I wanted to accomplish. I walked over towards a loblolly pine and let out several long burps and immediately felt better without having vomited. Looking up, I noticed that the tree had begun to noticeably breath in and out. I turned back towards the tent and saw that the entire forest was now breathing. I laid back down in my tent, looking out into the trees. I turned on some music on my phone and as I flipped through songs, most of the voices and instruments were slowed down comically and drawn out. My friend and I agreed though that neither of us would again leave our tents for the remainder of the trip and we would regularly speak to each other to make sure we were still there and didn’t need help with anything. The colors of the sky behind the trees was turning spectacularly brilliant and sharp and white clouds swirled through the sky like oil in water. I waved my hand in front of my face and a dozen hands trailed behind it. I felt a slight anxiety at these first visions that I had previously only read about and instinctively tried to stop them. As soon as I did this, I closed my eyes and laughed at myself for presuming I had any control at this point and the full effect took hold. Twisting and morphing multicolored shapes with retracting machine-like fingers filled the black void behind my eyelids as I fell into a short sleep.
I don’t know how much time passed, probably just a few minutes, but I awoke to the sound of my friend speaking to someone. I sat up and looked out through blurry eyes to see a very heavy man in a smokey the bear hat sitting in a golf cart. He seemed to look at me with horror and apologized for waking us up. I just laid back down and my friend told me he had said he was camping nearby and stopped by to see if we needed any firewood. Thoughts of him calling the police briefly crossed my mind and I imagined having to explain to my children how I ended up in a prison hospital.
At this time I had begun to feel a strong chill. Nothing I did helped to warm me and I laid on the ground shivering. Soon after, I broke out in a drenching sweat and it doubled the chill I felt. My blue tent, blue sweatshirt, and the blue sky all combined to persuade me that I was entering an arctic landscape and snow flurries began to whirl outside in a howling wind. I was frozen to the bone and curled up in a ball struggling for warmth.
1600?: Still sweating profusely and shivering on the ground, waves of intense vibrations began shooting through me and I noticed my stomach was hurting. I looked outside the tent and saw that it was nighttime. The photocell outside the public restrooms about 100 yards away had been activated by the darkness. I looked at the time on my phone and it displayed 1600. The sun wasn’t supposed to set for another two and a half hours. I called out to make sure my friend was still around and he replied. I could tell by his voice he was having a rough go of it also so I told him the time and said we were doing good.
Waves continued to blast through me again and again and the G forces on my stomach were tremendous. It felt like I was being whipped around and could barely hang on. I understood that it was my clenching to hold on that was causing the pains in my stomach. There were intermittent displays of neon pinks and purples lining everything that I looked at. Each wave was followed by a moment of clarity and I instinctively checked my phone each time. Each time I checked it though, the time had either not changed or had actually moved backward. Eventually it reached back to 1402, 2 minutes after we’d begun ingesting the brew. I regularly called out to my friend to make sure he was still around and to tell him that time was going crazy. I began to recognize that I (we?) was stuck in one of those loops I’d read about and felt slightly reassured in making this observation that my mind was still functioning somewhat normally. It helped mentally but it did nothing to stop the intense waves or lessen the pains in my stomach. I continued to shiver and sweat. Squeezing the phone in my hand reminded me that it was the only link I had back to my wife and children and I held it tight so as not to lose it.
1700?: After what seemed like years of being stuck traveling through time, the time on my phone moving between 1400 and 1600 countless times forward and back, the display finally broke 1700 and I felt free of the loop. Time did, however, continue to crawl painfully slow each time I checked for the remainder of the trip. The perception of nighttime persisted.
My friend and I continued to call out to each other during brief moments of clarity to make sure we hadn’t wandered off anywhere. Sometimes we were both able to poke our heads out of our tents and I’d laugh at the look of him. He looked like a woodchuck to me. The tone in his voice however began to grow increasingly stressful and my focus for the remainder of the trip came to be on his well-being. As I tried to talk him through it every time a wave had passed, I found that he was stuck in a thought loop, and he asked repeatedly over and over for hours how we were ever going to get out of this. As my focus shifted solely onto my friend, I realized that no matter what effects were happening to me, visual, auditory, or physical, my mind had rooted itself completely back in reality. I KNEW that I was tripping and I knew that no matter happened between now and the end, that none of it was real, that I was not in any danger. All I had to do was wait it out, it was going to end at some point. As this epiphany rooted in my mind, I looked up at the sky outside and threads of darkness began to unravel in spots. I shouted out to my friend that everything was going to be okay, that we were doing it, and soon it would be over. Unfortunately, he remained stuck in his loop and he was actually going further downward into his mind. He began saying that we were dead. Eventually he was even mimicking the sound of a ghost and stretched out all of his words and my name into long haunting moans. The tiny spots of blue that were breaking through were quickly sewed back shut by black threads in the sky. I was not going to be able to turn the sky blue again as long as my friend was struggling. Sometimes he would snap out of it for just a moment before falling back in. I told him that I was done tripping and that I would be there with him to the end. Though I continued to visually trip and curl into the fetal position during the smashing waves, I was no longer astonished by it and would laugh and say, “here comes another one!”
I recall several times during these hours hearing the sound of a vehicle driving nearby with the sudden flash of headlights lighting up the tent but never looked outside. I was able to occasionally stick my head out of the tent to look outside and was always comforted by the few lights from the direction of the public restrooms. Once I thought I saw beavers running through the trees. I recall also drinking water from my camel-pack every chance I got.
Several times I strongly felt the “presence” of another intelligent entity near me, including the moment when the full-on psychedelic experience started. Never did it speak or indicate any type of feeling, not threatening or protective, it is was just there standing over me. Several times, my hearing also became super sharp and it seemed I could hear every single creature in the forest moving and breathing.
2100?: Time continued to slog painfully on but at least it had ceased to go backward. Finally, when it passed 2100, I felt confident that we were nearing the culmination. I only remember checking my phone once more and telling my friend that he was doing great and that soon we would be done and laughing about it all. I looked outside the tent again and all the trees were glowing with a pink blush. Sharp laser-like points of red, white, and green lights were sparkling in the woods. I ducked back in and fell asleep.
2200: I opened my eyes and sat up and looked outside. It was darkly quiet and beautiful. I knew immediately that there were no more waves coming. I called out to my friend, “Hey, it’s over.” It seemed his trip had ended exactly at the same time mine had also, both at exactly 8 hours. We climbed out of our tents and sat down in some chairs. “What in the fuck are we supposed to learn from that?” we said and laughed.
“What in the fuck are we supposed to learn from that?” we said and laughed.
A few minutes later I had grown coordinated enough to start a nice fire. I remained freezing cold though. For the next 2 hours, the visual auras and fairy lights gradually decreased. By midnight, neither of us were seeing anything abnormal anymore. Time, however, continued to drag on painfully slow. I remained awake all night, strangely refreshed while at the same time exhausted but still too wired and too cold to sleep. At the crack of dawn we were packing up our gear and heading out.
CONCLUSION AND THOUGHTS: As we tried to make sense of what had happened, my friend thanked me for talking to him throughout the trip and reassuring him that he was doing a good job. He said he would have lost his mind had I not kept letting him know I was there. As I thought about it, I realized that my taking care of him had actually been a real grounding force for me also and I wasn’t sure I would have made it through so successfully had he not been there in need. Our trips were not just similar in length and events but also in the way we complemented each other’s experience.
My friend had taken LSD and shrooms often when he was young and thought he was going to ease just fine into the San Pedro experience. He was completely blindsided by how San Pedro had made him struggle. Despite what would seem to be considered a “bad trip” for him, he remains positive that his experience was beneficial and he was extremely glad he did it. He said he had a lot more issues than he previously thought before drinking it.
This experience was not remotely what I had planned on and I never was able to focus on the internal reasons for which I had begun it. I am still absorbing everything that happened and can’t stop thinking about it, wondering if any answer lies within it somewhere. Whatever the answer, I have noticed a tangible feeling of being glad to be alive. Not in the sense that I am relieved that the experience didn’t kill me but in a real sense that I feel there is something to live for. I haven’t identified where that comes from yet.
Since the trip, time still seems to be running much slower for me and I am finding myself stunned at looking at the clock and realizing that only 2 minutes had passed since I last checked the time. Perhaps there is something I need to understand in this.
In the aftermath, we both were adamant that we didn’t see a need to have to do this again anytime soon, if ever. However, as I continue to go over it all in my head, I keep thinking about the mistake of taking such a massive dose of such verifiably athletic cactus, and if I’d only taken half as much, that things would have been more clear for me. I may not be done yet.
ADVICE: I was told that it was going give me the chills. I was not prepared to convulse as if I’d just been fished out of a frozen lake. Wear thermals and several layers of clothing that you can add to or remove as needed.
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