Citation: Holfield. "A Foolish Double-Dose: An Experience with LSD (exp115635)". Erowid.org. Dec 20, 2021. erowid.org/exp/115635
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A Foolish Double-Dose of Richard Kemp LSD
One evening in the middle of a very cold period in the winter of 69, we were in a notorious Cambridge pub called The Bun Shop, just off Downing Street, and long since pulled down. It was a very lively dive, lots of young town people and some students (though it was too rough and sleazy for most Cambridge undergraduates) and inevitable, there were drugs to be had.
We heard there was some very good LSD just arrived, and each duly took a single tablet. An hour later, as nothing was happening, we bought another two and swallowed them.
This is of course highly illogical, and risky….if after an hour the stuff is showing no effect it MAY be because it’s not LSD, but it may also be because it can take over an hour to start to show any effect anyway. It depends on what’s in the digestive tract and when and what was last eaten…..so it’s more sensible to wait. If after two hours there’s no effect, it’d be a waste of money taking more, as it clearly ‘doesn’t work’, you’ve purchased some ersatz LSD,….but if after only an hour you take another dose, you risk having taken a double dose of something of unknown potency…..and this was in fact exactly we had unwittingly done! The obvious solution to this is, if you think the supply is probably good but momentary, buy 2 doses, but wait 2 hours between using….
It turned out that, as we’d been told, this was indeed very strong LSD…..
Initially I thought all was well….we walked back to the house, where Caro must have been still living in the flat, and the snow was a magical sea of lime-green rippling waves. We sang a silly song about walking on the icing of a Christmas cake while walking beneath the spreading chestnut trees along an avenue leading to Midsummer Common, which bounded the river...all seemed love and light. 'Twas not to last….as we approached the parental home, my apprehension began to mount.
How on earth was I going to deal with talking normally with parents or siblings? I felt a mounting panic arising, but it was way below zero so we needed to find cover….luckily we got up to my room at the back of the house without incident.
I lit the small gas fire, and we both got as close as we could to the little glow of heat that was doing battle with the breath-condensing chill in the room.
I became aware of a distant drumming….it was coming from somewhere not of this world. And it was not coming through the usual channel either. That is, I could still hear the fire hissing, and make out what Caro was saying, but it was as if another channel was being gradually turned up.
I realised this somehow menacing deep thrumming was some kind of background signal generated by the cosmos itself, or by the whirling atoms, neutrons and electrons which make up matter. I was becoming aware of sensory signals I’d never guessed existed. This auditory dimension was in addition to the strange shimmering we’d noticed as a luminescent acid-green overlay on the snow.
Soon, to my consternation, the room started to be invaded by wild flows of strange small geometric signs, zig-zag lines, dots, and symbols I’d not come across before. They were erupting from somewhere, directly into my visual field, and the background drumming was building, building…...along with the sense of menace. This was unlike anything I’d ever imagined possible….my sense of control was seriously under threat, there was something wholly alien about the sensations I was feeling, and now an overwhelming, surging tsunami of swirling, blazing bright fractals had taken over my open- eyed visual field, and the unexpectedly sudden emergence of dangerously entrancing multi-dimensional geometric crystalline objects, whispering to me in inhuman voices, threatening the very existence of the soul I now feared was actually, against the underlying remains of old belief systems, indeed at the centre of this shred of organic matter which was my body and brain.
This visual display wasn’t something I could turn down, turn off, or ignore….it had by now replaced the normal outer reality of the Owl room completely, and I couldn’t see Caro, or my own body or the familiar room at all. With eyes shut, it was the same as with them open!
With eyes shut, it was the same as with them open!
‘I’ seemed to flash into a state of suspension, looking down to deep troughs in the shifting, rippling surface of the 4 dimensional fractal seas…..the vast, interdimensional wave was still building though, beyond and above my detached floating eye, while below me the surface receded into a vertiginous Abyss. The top of the wave was towering somewhere way above the ethereal eye that was ‘I’, threatening to crash over and smash my miraculous (fragile) point of awareness so I would have nothing left with which to identify.
Next moment it would all change instantly, and I’d be confronted with a group of the dancing crystal objects, who, if I looked closer at some of the iridescent alien detail of their surfaces, would suck me in to a mental maze, questions would loom in my inner soul, undreamed of by the philosophers, the surface detail proving to be another fractal gateway leading ever deeper.
Then, the wild, highly coloured imagery receded, temporarily, and I found I was standing in the middle of the room, looking into the full length mirror...I realised I looked very strange….wild eyed, staring, and as I looked, I started to feel increasingly different…..firstly this was internal….I realised there seemed to be a stream of bits of information which I saw spiralling away into the visionary abyss….this I realised was bits of my personal identity...my memories of who, and what I was, memories of my life to this date, my very identity was being stripped away by the irresistible unknown.
I despairingly realised I was powerless to stop this terrifying process of disintegration. It made no difference whether my eyes were open or shut, the heaving sea of alien patterning was always in vision now…... I saw to my horror that the process was being repeated to my physical form...starting with what I could see in the mirror, I was confronted with the unlovely vision of my flesh being stripped away from my bones, my arms and legs floating away, in pieces, the bones separating out, becoming part of the re-surfacing fractal storm….I sensed my now bare bones becoming pulled into the maelstrom….
I was no more, I had been absorbed totally, meaning meant nothing, nothing at all. I was lost, and as far as I was capable of still formulating such a thought, I had given up hope of ever getting back to my familiar life.
Was I in fact dying, or already dead?
An atom of awareness which was left after everything which made up the identity I thought of as myself was sucked up in a current of relentless power….the fractal storm receded, and I have a sense, now, of this central spark being whisked away in a corridor of force... Away from the earth, seeing the solar system becoming vanishingly small, the Milky Way becoming a toy galaxy, ever accelerating toward a heart of darkness….honestly, this terminal stage is difficult to be at all sure of, memory is strained to the limit, I know (from Caro) that in the physical, familiar reality, I was apparently huddled in a foetal ball up against the corner of the room, on the bed, perhaps vainly wishing and hoping, in the odd lucid moment (if I even had any...I certainly don’t remember any) that if I could do what I was in the habit of doing in the bed, sleeping, I could escape this terrifying nightmare. Vain hope...
I have since felt I came into the orbit of a presence of some vast power and intelligence, not hostile, probably indifferent to my fruit-fly-like presence….but as I have said, I can’t be certain that this isn’t a construct I applied to the experience….though it is contemporaneous. I must have stayed in that state for many more hours, but any further developments are a total blank. Recently I talked with a Slovac writer who described a vision she’d had on a shaman supervised Ayahuasca session in Peru, and though her experience was far less menacing and terrifying, the ultimate central image she described rang a bell…..and recalled a tiny fragment of this blank period of my LSD inter-dimensional voyage
Ultimately, after about 12 hours, I found myself back in the Owl room, where Caro was still with me, she seemingly in perfectly good shape. I’d been sick during the night.
Something else happened during that session which she has always refused to reveal…..
I was completely basculated, lost at sea, for months. I seemed easily able to think simultaneously in multiple different directions, or different levels, slipping into deep contemplation on the meaning of meaning, the origin of consciousness, the evolutionary impulse, time, space, the ‘spirit’ reincarnation, all the imponderables.
The ‘real world’ I’d come back to seemed now to be thin gruel, a colourless kindergarten construct of a possible other- dimensional reality which I didn’t understand, but which seemed to underlie the quotidian consensual rote reality we are normally accustomed to.
Everyday transactions seemed to be a shadow-show to keep the sleepwalking bit players, my fellow Britons, indeed the whole global human population, occupied and above all, not asking difficult, serious existential questions, or rocking the boat. I felt a vast rift between the quotidian newspaper reality of global politics and the world of this recently glimpsed other reality. The inner Reality’ had it’s own ‘political agenda’ which I was still accessing to a certain extent.
I didn’t have any sense that this unfortunate consensual reality level state was the result of any sort of deliberate action by any human group or agency, but simply that we had, en masse, ‘lost our way’, slipped into a sort of sleepwalking dream-state, we were blindly living a fraction of our potential, and creating legislation which would ensure that we would never have the opportunity to develop methods and institutions which would allow us to correct this blinkered shuffling toward the Abyss.
It was only six years since we, as a family, had lived through the incredibly tense days of the Cuban missile crisis, when the world stood on the brink of all-out nuclear war. This had certainly profoundly affected me (it was around the time I took the 11+) and doubtless anyone who had been glued to the rolling radio coverage, and seen the grim monochrome images of missile laden Russian ships steaming towards the island of Cuba, and the aerial footage taken by spy-plane in the upper atmosphere of the Russian missile silos already installed on the island.
This gratuitous flirtation with the Angel of Planetary Death had done little to convince anyone that “everything is under control” and “Business as usual.” It had brought home to humanity just what a dangerous situation it had created for itself, and this shadow in the collective unconscious must have had a negative effect on countless experiments with, in particular, LSD, Life’s Secret Doorway.
The uninitiated may imagine that these entheogenic drugs are ‘escapist’, but in fact you can’t escape your own fully justified fears, be they relentlessly thrust below the normal surface of waking awareness…..they are there, under the surface, like monstrous sharks. This sort of semi-submerged fear is quite enough to distort a psychedelic experience from ‘heaven’ to its opposite, or so I rationalised many years later.
For now, I was suffering the raw psychological wounds of the aftermath of a profoundly heavy-duty full-blown LSD induced Shamanic initiatory experience, a major Mystical vision of the greater design, while having had no prior knowledge of the existence of such a thing, and of course no preparation for it.
Things were very difficult for some months, then I found the old patterns of dealing with the everyday world resurfacing.
Things were very difficult for some months, then I found the old patterns of dealing with the everyday world resurfacing.
I seemed to be processing the alien experience and life became less difficult to cope with. I learned to file the memory away somewhere, not to try and forget it, but so I could see the consensual world, with its responsibilities, duties, social niceties and all the familiar stuff without having the Otherworld and its mysteries (and worrying sense of urgency) overlaying the front of my mind and confusing things.
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