Cacti - T. pachanoi
Citation: cactguy. "Empathy and Connectedness: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi (exp113009)". Erowid.org. Mar 30, 2019. erowid.org/exp/113009
This trip report documents my first experience with mescaline (in the form of San Pedro tea) that took place a few days ago.
I am a 23 year old male with experience in psychedelics. I have experimented with the following hallucinogens at various dosages throughout the past couple years: LSD, psilocybin, 2C-B, DMT, and cannabis. I have also dabbled into other drugs to a lesser extent, but I do not really enjoy stimulants, and depressants and opiates scare me too much to use often.
The characters involved in this story shall be referred to as B, N, and myself. We have known each other since childhood and have tripped together more than 10 times. The trip was to take place at a camp on a lake owned by B. This has been our preferred tripping spot for the entirety of our tripping careers. The weather was looking to be a beautiful sunny day in early March in northern New England. Despite the temperature being 40+ and sunny, the cold of the week leading up to the trip ensured that the lake would be frozen solid, allowing us to enjoy some spectacular views of both trees and stars. All in all, a sublime setting for a trip.
As mentioned, B, I, and I have tripped at this location many times before. This helped to alleviate a significant amount of the nerves that come with tripping. Despite that, I personally still had a few things on my mind. First, I have recently quit my job to move out west with no job lined up and few prospects. I went in confident in my decision, but it would be a lie to say that I was not worried that seeing things from a different perspective might trigger some regret. Second, this was my first time making cactus tea and I had what I assumed to be a small amount of cactus for 3 people (2.5 10-12 inch cuttings, or 29 inches of San Pedro Cactus. This weighed out to 3.3 kg fresh). From what I read online, this seemed like a decent amount of fresh cactus weight, which assuaged some of my fears, however I was still concerned that we would go through the trouble of making the tea and endure the infamous taste only to be disappointed with the results.
3.3 kg of fresh San Pedro cuttings was purchased legally from a reputable online vendor and stored in a cool and dark basement for a few weeks. The night before the trip, the cacti were sliced in stars and diced up into small pieces. The spines and the waxy cuticle were not removed. The diced cacti were put into 2 separate crockpots and covered with 3 parts water and 1 part lemon juice. The crockpots were set to low and a thermometer indicated that the liquid mixture was between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. After 2 hours, the liquid was removed from each crockpot and replaced with the same ratio of water and lemon juice. This was left in the crockpots overnight and the liquid was removed in the morning. The cacti were combined into a large pot on the stove and more lemon juice and water were added. This concoction was then simmered on low for an additional 2 hours to ensure maximum alkaloid extraction. Meanwhile, the liquid that had been removed from the first two pulls was combined in a separate pot and boiled down on the stove on a low simmer. Once the cacti had finished boiling, water was removed using a strainer. The cactus pulp was placed in a t-shirt, which had the neck and arms tied, and wrung out to remove all of the liquid. All told, approximately 3 gallons of tea was boiled down to around 36 ounces of liquid, which was split evenly into 3 12 ounce cups.
*Note: I had read reports that the smell of the boiling tea was almost unbearable. I did not mind it at all. The taste, however…
*Note #2: I do not record times while tripping as this tends to be counterproductive. Therefore, all times are estimates based on the fact that time was determined at trip onset and again around 9 pm (+10 hours).
The glasses of the mescaline concoction were consumed over the course of about 20 minutes (10:40 am-11:00 am). Peppermint tea was used as a chaser and to alleviate stomach discomfort. The taste was horrific, but bearable due to the small amount of tea that we had to consume. The album Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was selected to establish a buoyant attitude for the come-up.
At the conclusion of the album (+00:40), it was decided that the three of us would take a walk around the frozen lake. A little while into the walk (+1 hr), I started to feel off baseline for the first time, but it was subtle.
A little while into the walk (+1 hr), I started to feel off baseline for the first time, but it was subtle.
No visuals, but perhaps a slight mental expansion and lightness. By the end of the walk (+1:30), this was accompanied by a tension in the back of the mouth and throat that is characteristic of my psychedelic experiences. I was also experiencing a significant amount of gastric discomfort, but I was never in serious jeopardy of vomiting. Neither B nor N experienced any digestive discomfort. At this point, all of us were a little disappointed at the lack of intensity of the experience. I was aware that mescaline has an extensive come-up, but it was hard to take this to heart.
As we sat outside at a picnic table (+2 hrs), visuals started to come on. The visuals of the trip are difficult to describe. 2C-B has always provided me with complex fractals, acid visuals have been characterized by intense tracers, and mushroom visuals can be best described as “wobbly”. The word I would use to most aptly describe mescaline visuals is vibrant. The trees were breathing with me, in that they expanded with my inhales, and contracted with my exhales. Every outline was imbued with colorful psychedelic highlights. The intensity of the visuals at the peak of the trip were comparable to about 200 micrograms of acid. During no part of the trip did I experience auditory hallucinations like I do on acid, but music was greatly enhanced.
At around +2:30, we went inside, and things started to get interesting. We decided to listen to a Grateful Dead album (I can’t remember which). I went to lay down to alleviate some of the stomach discomfort. A few minutes into the album, I came to the realization that I was having very insightful thoughts and complex closed eye hallucinations.
Order of events gets a little convoluted here, but I would say the real trip started at this point (+2:50). The peak portion of the trip lasted from here until somewhere around 6 pm (+7 hrs) when the sun went down, with maximum intensity being somewhere around the +4 hour mark. Due to the nature of the psychedelic experience, the more intense portions of the trip are ironically the most visionary and simultaneously the most difficult to hold on to after the trip is done. I will try my best to recount our experience. The actual activities performed are not of paramount importance, but we alternated between listening to music, sitting on the picnic table enjoying the sun, and walking around the lake.
The truly incredible part of the experience was our ability to articulate our insights. My general experience with psychedelics is that the insights are typically useless because my brain is moving far too fast to be able to hold on to or explain any one thought chain. By the time I have reached an interesting conclusion, I am so far removed from where I started that explaining my reasoning is impossible. Furthermore, by the time I decide to attempt conversation, my brain is already on to the next subject. With mescaline, we were all able to allow ourselves to plunge down the rabbit hole of the psychedelic, but only as far as we desired to go, before gently extricating ourselves and then clearly articulating what we wanted to say. It is an understatement to say that this was a psychedelic revelation for myself. Because of this unique nature of mescaline, I was able to remember a great deal more of the topics that we covered, and the logic behind our conclusions. These conclusions ranged from straightforward (B and N both work corporate jobs, and we talked briefly about the house of cards that is the hierarchy of corporate America. An executive is looked at by everyone in the company as a powerful figure, but his/her power is solely based on the belief that this power exists. Like I said, simple, but things like this can be quite interesting to ponder on psychedelics) to the more complex.
We kept coming back to two unrelated (well maybe related, but we couldn’t connect them) thoughts. First, the interconnectedness of all life was immediately apparent. Even in the depths of a Maine winter, life was everywhere. Fallen leaves covered in a white, powdery mildew, birds scavenging for food, coniferous trees with their needles standing at attention to receive the Sun’s energy. All of it was connected, and all of it relied on the immense power of the Sun. If the entirety of Earth’s biosphere is intimately connected, is there another level, we wondered? Is there a universal biosphere? Later in the trip, after the Sun had set and we sat looking up at the night sky, this thought returned. Since we were able to experience this light from other stars, many of which likely provided the energy necessary for life in their own solar systems, it did feel like the entirety of life in the universe was somehow connected, if only by a thin thread.
A consequence of this thought (the interconnectedness of everything) is the question of where our “self” fits in. We love to think of the self as some permanent and entirely unique entity. There is everything else, and then there is “I”. During one stage of the peak, I went in to a room alone to meditate. I do not know if I would call what I experienced ego death, but I was able to entirely let go of my sense of self and exist only as an impartial observer. It is interesting how desperately the self resists attempts to be dissolved. I also find it fascinating that I can logically conclude that my “self” doesn’t truly exist, but I must come to know it viscerally, rather than through logic, for the knowledge to be valuable. I will continue to meditate in order to not be reliant on psychedelics for this type of insight.
Another perception that was discussed was the frequency of the time in which we all run on autopilot. It is almost sickening to think that, despite the limited amount of time we have on Earth, we spend a good portion of our day totally unconscious of what we are doing in order to get through the day more quickly. Most of this is attributable to reflecting on the past or thinking about the future, or creating gnawing wants whose only purpose is to give us something to fulfill. During the peak, N commented “I feel like I do not want anything right now, and I don’t understand what is stopping me from feeling like this all the time”.
“I feel like I do not want anything right now, and I don’t understand what is stopping me from feeling like this all the time”.
This is a great way of articulating what we were all feeling. Being present and mindful is likely the way to maintain awareness of the current moment, which will in turn remove the need for creating artificial problems that cause suffering.
After the peak started to wind down, we sat together and discussed our experiences and continued to have insightful conversation. One other aspect of mescaline that we noted was how much it seemed to increase our empathy relative to other psychedelics. We all typically do not feel like interacting with other people on psychedelics, but mescaline was the opposite. We would have loved to include other people who were not tripping and who we did not know into our conversations simply to add another perspective and source of wisdom. In B’s camp, there is a log book where people who have visited the camp over the past 30 years chronicle their experiences. Due to the increased empathy, it was beautiful to read some of the entries. This was especially true for the entries from B’s parents that chronicled the growth of B’s family and their time spent at the camp. I left an entry in the book so that I could become part of the wonderful history of the camp.
By about 10:30 pm (+12 hrs), all of us were quite mentally exhausted and ready for a break. Turning off the lights and laying down provided a very nice bit of sensory relief. At about 11:00 pm, we settled down to sleep. I usually have great trouble falling asleep on psychedelics, but I was able to fall asleep by around midnight (+13 hrs) and sleep until 7:00 (+20 hrs). I awoke feeling very peaceful. I did not experience any sort of hangover. The next day, colors were sharper and imbued with a slight psychedelic undertone. It was a wonderful experience.
I should also note that at no point did I experience a single negative thought. I was entirely reassured about my decision to quit my job and move being the correct thing to do, and never felt any anxiety about it. Not only that, but I have a lingering sense that everything will work out, and that the universe is a benevolent place. Only time will tell.
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