Mushrooms - P. cubensis (Penis Envy)
Citation: JCX. "The Highs, the Lows and the Inexplicable: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (Penis Envy) (exp116529)". Erowid.org. Jul 26, 2022. erowid.org/exp/116529
----- Background -----
I am a 23 year old graduate student who resides in California. Since I wrote and submitted an earlier experience report a couple years ago detailing my first encounter with a psychedelic, LSD, I have had several more experiences with both LSD and psilocybin-containing mushrooms. I also tried smoking DMT once (with some success, but no so-called "breakthrough"). Some experiences were notable, some weren't. I eventually came to the realization that I wasn't gaining anything by consuming more psychedelics, so I decided to take a break from them for about 10 months
I eventually came to the realization that I wasn't gaining anything by consuming more psychedelics, so I decided to take a break from them for about 10 months
before the experience described in this report.
My life changed significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. For better or worse, I realized that I am not a perfect person or emotionless robot. I found myself suffering from serious burnout in my academic pursuits, though I did finish my undergraduate studies on a good note. Over the last couple years, however, I gradually fell down a black hole of self-hatred and anger over things that I have done to myself and other people. Despite my initial denial, this was definitely on my mind going into this experience.
I have been unable to forgive myself for the deeply hurtful things I said to my now ex-girlfriend many years ago. I will not repeat what I said to her, but it was unambiguously hurtful and completely unjustifiable, especially to somebody that I was supposed to love. The racism and misogyny deeply ingrained in me by my time spent on certain websites and from other sources in my life reared its ugly head and led me to forever burn that bridge. Some things cannot be unsaid, and I will have to live with what I did.
This is not to say that all has been bad in my life. I am in an amazing PhD program. I have had the pleasure of meeting some very cool, intelligent people and building relationships with them. I enjoy my research work with all the challenges, ups and downs associated with it. I am really looking forward to the next few years that I will be spending in this program. But I know that I can do better. I know that I am not tapping into my full potential. I want to seek out knowledge and make discoveries that unveil the secrets underlying the very fundamental building blocks of the universe; I see this as my guiding purpose in life.
Besides psychedelics, which I had not consumed for 10 months prior to this experience, the only other substances I occasionally consume are cannabis, alcohol and (more frequently) caffeine. I abstained from the first two for about a week prior to this experience, and I had a cup of coffee several hours before the experience. I ate a hamburger and french fries about four hours before I consumed the mushrooms.
----- The Setting -----
This experience took place at a campground in Yosemite National Park, California, United States, in June 2022. To say that the scenery in this area is beautiful is an understatement. Imagine tall, green coniferous trees, equally tall oak trees, the soothing white noise of a nearby river, chirping birds and mountainous terrain. Although there were other people and cars in this campground, it was easy to walk from my campsite to the river and imagine that they were not there. I will specify that there were tap water and shared bathrooms available nearby. I had stayed in this particular campground four times before this experience.
My brother and one of his friends were also present during this experience. Both of them had prior experiences with psychedelics and were aware of my plans.
----- The Mushrooms -----
I consumed 1.5 grams of psilocybin-containing mushrooms as weighed by a digital scale. These mushrooms were the only psychoactive substance that I consumed during this experience. These were "albino penis envy" p. cubensis mushrooms according to the experienced mycologist that I sourced them from (by pure chance, I met this person at a social gathering a couple weeks before my trip and we hit it off pretty quickly). Unlike other mushrooms I had acquired and sampled in the past, these were apparently freeze-dried. They had a significant amount of blue bruising visible from the exterior. I was informed that this particular strain is "extremely fucking potent," so I opted to start with a much smaller dose than what I would normally take of other p. cubensis strains.
----- The Experience -----
All timestamps are approximate and relative to the time that I consumed the mushrooms. I wore a watch for the duration of the experience so I could keep track of how things were progressing. Please note that I will not remember every little detail, nor can any written report possibly convey what a psychedelic experience is really like, but I will attempt to capture the essence of what unfolded.
--- Part 1: Sunlight, Fire and Satellites ---
At T-1:30, I arrived at the campground after about five hours of driving from my apartment. My brother and his friend drove in a separate car from a different location, and they arrived at the campsite about 20 minutes before I did. For the next hour, we unpacked stuff from our cars and set up camp.
At T+0:00, I consumed 1.5 g of the mushrooms that I described above. I washed them down with a can of soda that I dug out of my brother's cooler. The time was 18:30. The sun would not completely set below the horizon until a little bit after 20:00, although it would set behind a nearby hill at about 19:15.
At T+0:05, I began to feel like something was "different." A tingling sensation of "lightness" began in my abdomen and gradually spread out into my arms and legs over the next 10 minutes. This came on much faster and with a greater intensity than what I had experienced with other mushrooms in the past. Around T+0:20, I began finding it a little difficult to stand, so I sat down in a chair that someone had set out. Over the next 30 minutes, I remained in the chair and took in the natural beauty surrounding me. The green of the pine needles and oak tree leaves became brighter than it had been before, illuminated by the gold-tinted sunlight of the slowly setting sun. The trees and branches gently swayed in a light breeze. The sound of the flowing water crashing over the rocks in the nearby river dominated my auditory input, though I also noticed the distant voices of other people from nearby campsites.
I observed the entangled branches of two tall oak trees tower above where I was sitting in the campsite. A stunningly beautiful green color popped out at me from the backlit leaves of the two trees. I perceived them as forming a protective canopy over myself and the entire campsite. I felt so happy, the happiest I had felt in a very long time. I was so happy to be in an area of such natural beauty, and it brought back many positive memories of when I had visited Yosemite in years past.
From T+0:50 to T+1:00, the visuals started to become much more intense and noticeable. The ground, leaves and tree trunks were all distinctly "wavy" and pulsing as if a liquid of raw geometry had been poured over them. I began to notice more coherent close eyed visuals (complex fractals and rotating triangles with tracers) around this time as well.
At T+1:15, my brother and his friend heated some canned stew on a stove and started a campfire. I joined them, having a small bowl of the stew (which felt very weird to eat) and watching the campfire as it grew. As the flames danced in from of me, I kept focusing on the idea that I need to take better care of my body. Although I had already lost some weight from my peak, I knew that I should work on losing more weight and exercising more regularly. My surroundings were getting noticeably darker at this point, as the sun had set behind the hill and was pretty close to the horizon.
The setting sun at T+1:45 gave way to an array of flashlights moving around neighboring campsites as other people set up their campfires and packed things up for the night. The visuals were pretty developed at this point, with waves of fluid geometry superimposed upon everything I was looking at.
After another 30 minutes of letting my thoughts wander here and there to different nondescript places while watching the fire, I became aware of the stars appearing above me in the night sky. Despite the significant visual distortion of the night sky, I (along with my brother and his friend) could make out satellites whizzing by hundreds of miles overhead. We saw the International Space Station, a train of Starlink satellites, and many others that we did not know the identities of. We saw meteors whizz by, fleeting flashes of light dancing in the night sky. Some of the things that I observed might not have been real, of course, as it can be difficult to tease apart dim satellites from the visuals that dominated my perception.
For the next few hours, we talked. We laughed. We joked. I was somewhat conversational, which is quite uncharacteristic of my previous experiences with psilocybin (I usually find it quite difficult to converse). Eventually, my brother's friend decided to retire to the tent to sleep for the night. My brother and I stayed out by the fire for a while longer, sitting in silence and looking for the occasional satellite, plane, meteor or other interesting thing to pass through the night sky.
Around T+4:00, some children ran into a neighboring campsite that wasn't occupied and sat around the table in that campsite, talking loudly and shining flashlights in different directions. I became a bit paranoid that they were talking about me, but I couldn't really make out what exactly they were saying. Although there was some disagreement between myself and my brother the following day about the facts of what exactly unfolded next, I believe that two armed federal park rangers (law enforcement) drove by and saw the kids in the campsite. Deciding that they were "suspicious" in some way, the rangers stopped, got out of their truck and made contact with the kids. Observing this, I began to express my brand of anti-police sentiments to my brother using phrases such as "fucking pigs" and saying something along the lines of "wow, they really want to get their names into the system at a young age." I prepared to grab my camera and film them, which would have likely drawn their attention to me. However, the situation resolved amicably; the rangers left when it was clear that no criminal wrongdoing was occurring and, most importantly, they didn't bother my brother and me. All was good.
Eventually, I felt like the intensity of the effects was winding down. Around T+6:00, my brother informed me that he was tired and wanted to retire to the tent. We then packed the food up that we had set out earlier and doused the campfire with a lot of water to make sure it was completely out. Once we were satisfied at the state of our campsite, we both went into the tent and crawled into our sleeping bags.
--- Part 2: The Terror Trip ---
Since things seemed to be winding down, I thought crawling into the tent and trying to sleep was the best course of action. However, around T+6:30, things began to take a turn that I wasn't anticipating.
I lost track of time inside of my sleeping bag in the tent. The next thing I remember is a distinctly uncomfortable sensation across my entire body. Imagine all of your skin crawling with something. I became quite concerned by this development. My thoughts became extremely chaotic and disorganized as I desperately sought some anchor of stability in the impending storm of insanity that had suddenly blown in. I believed that I had become infested with parasites. I was sick. My death was imminent. Inevitable. I would leave everyone and everything behind. I would lose everything. I was alone.
I stared up at the stars through the tent netting above me, shivering in the cold, as I felt my grip on myself slip further away. Surely, I was dreaming whilst awake. Everyone else in the world was asleep, except for me. I was a creature of the night, a mere afterthought projected from a different dimension, doomed to forever roam the land of shadows and darkness with the other outcasts. I believed that I had permanently broken my mind and that I would never go back to being normal. This was my doom. This was how things would end for me.
For a while, I became trapped in this thought loop where I fixated on myself committing unspeakable crimes and becoming a prisoner. I believed that it was my ordained destiny to destroy people's lives, be caught, be locked up and live a lifetime in prison, a resident of my own personal hell. This fate surely awaited me the moment I stepped out of the tent. I saw myself as a monster, a predator among people, a bringer of harm.
Then I had what I believed to be an amazing, earth-shattering insight. Humans were machines of consumption. We take items of low entropy, consume them, and make them into higher entropy things of less thermodynamic value. Life is endless consumption and conversion. Life is a cycle of this consumption and conversion. Death simply closes this process and loops it back around. It is an inevitable consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. Everything is consumption. Everything is reducible to the relentless increase of entropy. Everything good eventually fades into oblivion.
After this flashed through me, I focused on death for a while. The recent, violent, untimely death of a family friend in a motorcycle accident came to mind. All of the pain that her death had caused me and the people around me was dragged into the spotlight. I placed myself into her lifeless position and experienced the grief that my death would cause to everyone who knew me (despite my beliefs otherwise, I realized there were people who actually cared about me). I perceived this as an inevitability. I was dying. This hellscape was my death, and I would bring pain to everybody who knows me.
I was insane. The flashing lights and voices I believed were outside the tent couldn't be real. They were hallucinations. I thought that I had broken my mind and given myself schizophrenia. This is what schizophrenia must be like. I had become pure anxiety and paranoia. Reality wasn't real. None of this could be real.
I was paralyzed by this sheer, gripping terror. The visuals, which I thought were winding down, had actually lost none of their intensity from when I had entered the tent earlier. I gripped the 3.25 inch switchblade that I had brought with me on the trip. I held it against my chest like my life depended on it.
I dwelt for some time on what I had done and said to my ex-girlfriend (which is something that I will not go into detail about here). The insecurity. The racism. Everything ugly about myself and everything that I had done to destroy that relationship many years earlier. All of the regret. All of anger. All of the hatred. I looked into places filled with things that I did not want to see, and I saw myself for who I really was: a selfish, hedonistic monster who always destroys any meaningful relationships he has with other people and sabotages his future for a few moments of pleasure.
The guilt. The anger. The hatred. The self-loathing. The fear. I couldn't hold onto all of this anymore. I had to release it. For my health, my sake, my future, I had to let it all go.
I became aware of a pressure inside of my body at some point. I realized that I needed to urinate pretty badly. To take care of this would require leaving the safety of the tent, but I knew that this needed to be done. And so I decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an odyssey to be remembered through the ages. I put my shorts back on, slid out of my sleeping bag and began to unzip the main entrance to the tent. I did not bring a flashlight. Once I got out of the tent, I found myself incapable of putting on shoes. Figuring that my socks would suffice, I stumbled down in the direction of the river and relieved my bladder. I also believed that I had shit myself (this turned out to be an elaborate hallucination), so I stumbled to the campsite bathroom. Once I realized that I had not in fact shit myself, I drank some water from the bathroom faucet (I felt deathly thirsty), splashed my face with cold water and stumbled back outside. I was confronted by someone holding a flashlight, presumably another camper making a trip to the bathroom. I gave them a quick nod and continued my epic adventure back to the tent.
I eventually stumbled back to the tent, opened the main zipper, stepped inside, closed the zipper behind me, removed my shorts and slid back into my sleeping bag. It was now T+8:00 (2:30).
--- Part 3: Anew ---
Shortly after reentering my sleeping bag, I felt much, much better than I had felt just minutes earlier.
It's hard to explain. It was an inner peace. Serenity. The calm waters after the storm. A clear canvas, reborn, free of the guilt, the anger, the hatred and everything else negative that I had carried with me into the campsite. It had all been washed away in the great storm. For the first time in a long time, I truly felt free, unshackled from all the negativity and self-hatred that I had been carrying around with me for years.
I put on my headphones, connected them to my phone and put "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" by Moby on a repeating loop. I have listened to this song thousands of times since my father introduced me to it in my childhood, but it took on a new meaning as I listened to it this time. As the piano danced in my head, I finally understood what this entire trip was about. The things I did not like about myself did not need to define me.
I finally understood what this entire trip was about. The things I did not like about myself did not need to define me.
My destiny was uncertain, but my future was mine to shape. It was my story to write, limited only by the laws of physics and the conditions I placed on myself. We all make mistakes and we all fall down sometimes, but those moments do not need to forever define us. Hyperfocusing on those moments and reliving them on a daily basis does not change the past and is not constructive. I must learn from my failures and make conscious efforts to change myself to prevent them from happening again.
I also felt an urge to apologize to everybody that I had hurt and wronged in my life. This urge was not born of a selfish need for the forgiveness of those who I had hurt and wronged, but rather of a pure desire to express that I was wrong for what I had done. Whether they wanted to express forgiveness to me or not was of no concern to me; that would ultimately be theirs to give as they would see fit.
The music continued to fill my ears as I drifted off to sleep.
I slept for a few hours. I woke up around 8:00 and felt completely refreshed. I put clean socks on, slipped my shoes on and stepped out of the tent. My brother and his friend had woken up earlier and had already cooked breakfast. I sat next to the campfire they had started and silently reflected on the events of the previous night while sipping on coffee and eating pancakes.
----- Aftermath -----
It has only been a few weeks since this experience at the time I am writing this. In my opinion, integrating the insights of a psychedelic experience into my daily life is easily the most difficult part of the entire experience arc. It is something that I have not been able to pull off with much success after my prior experiences with psychedelics. It takes a substantial amount of conscious effort to truly effect the changes I want to make to myself as a result of psychedelic insights.
To this end, I have continued to make dietary changes and exercise more frequently in an effort to lose more weight. I have also reached out to a couple people to apologize for things that I said and did to them in the past. I have not attempted to contact my ex-girlfriend yet; I am still thinking about if I should do that and the best way to express myself if I do.
I still have a few grams of these mushrooms left. I am unsure of when or how much of them I want to consume next time, given the sheer intensity of the experience I had with just 1.5 grams. I feel like there is more junk for me to dig out of my subconscious mind and confront at some point, but I have plenty of work to do for now.
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