Mushrooms - P. cubensis (Golden Teacher)
Citation: Freak of Nurture. "Refractions From the Prism of Self: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (Golden Teacher) (exp116938)". Erowid.org. Jan 12, 2023. erowid.org/exp/116938
“Do you ever find yourself talking over your thoughts? You get an interior monologue going, it gets too much, and you just say something aloud to steal the internal guy’s thunder? ...I’ve got serious bipolar brain right now.”
This trip took place towards the end of October 2022. I’d grown my own golden teacher mushrooms and harvested the first batch back in July, and by now I was eager to continue my sporadically indulged psychedelic explorations. Over the past decade, these had consisted of doses of psilocybin, morning glory seeds, cannabis in smoked and edible forms, and salvia. Although I’ve always been highly intrigued by altered states of consciousness, I tend to be an infrequent user of substances, outside of caffeine.
I also tend to be a chronic ruminator and an overall anxious person. Leading up to this experience, contemporary news events, apocalyptic on both a regional and international scale, had left me feeling extremely edgy, and this had caused me to postpone my trip several times. Eventually, I reasoned that nothing catastrophically awful was likely to occur in the short term regarding these events, and I allowed my enthusiasm for psychedelics to take hold, aware that my anxious mentality would pose certain risks.
I had three requests for the shamanic Santa: in particular, I wanted this trip to help forge a healthier equilibrium between my internal state and what I see as the increasingly unstable and chaotic external world.
I wanted this trip to help forge a healthier equilibrium between my internal state and what I see as the increasingly unstable and chaotic external world.
More modestly, I was motivated by the urge to explore my subconscious mind, and to stimulate a blissful state of potential therapeutic value. For this, I’d curated a playlist in advance, consisting of ambient electronic music (Steve Roach, Aphex Twin), new-age ambient/modern classical (Popol Vuh, Gorecki, Philip Glass), and a miscellaneous range of atmospheric guitar and rhythm-based tracks (Herbie Hancock, Neu!).
Around 11 p.m. on this Friday night, I began to steady my mind with some gentle spiritual and nature documentaries. Shortly before midnight, I ingested approximately three grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms with a black cherry yogurt. The yogurt masked the pungent taste of the mushrooms, and consistent with all my other trips to date, I experienced zero nausea on the come up. I would experience mild cramping as the trip progressed, but nothing debilitating.
Approximately 30 minutes after dosing, my cat, undeterred by my closed-off body language, insisted on sitting on my lap for petting. I was slightly nervous during the come up, and I found myself absent-mindedly indulging her for just a few minutes. I did notice, however, that there was a quality to her fur that felt more ‘raw’ than normal, its texture more piney, and this triggered some rather antic associations of undergrowth and dampness.
Shortly after, I laid back in bed, put on a blindfold, and started my playlist. As the opening ambient tracks played, I began to perceive shifting monochromatic visuals in my mind’s eye, consisting of whirring assembly lines, which appeared to be sketched, chalklike, across a dark screen. These hallucinations spawned out of the near darkness and stimulated a degree of anxiety due to their strange hybrid mechanical and organic nature – I sensed that the assembly line was a sort of biological lifeforce. I’d anticipated seeing beautiful, free-flowing visual architecture, as generated by Steve Roach's spacey soundscapes, yet these visuals struck me as alien and cold, two-dimensional both emotionally and spatially. Retrospectively, I can see how this slightly unpleasant part of the trip might’ve been spurred by my impressions of dampness minutes prior, paired with the synth-based soundtrack.
A presence presided over these visuals, and I recognized this as the alkaloidal interloper itself as it entered my system. This entity appeared mushroom-like and bipedal in form, and it was somewhat static in the context of my hallucination, appearing as a kind of sentient hieroglyph. I got the implicit sense that this figure embodied certain trickster or jester-like qualities, which made me feel a degree of trepidation. A sense of duality emerged between me, the subject or host of the trip, and the mushroom, as a foreign body or guest. I had given this potentially mischievous tenant the master key to the tenements of my psyche, and for the next few hours I would be in thrall to this monolith as it coursed through my system.
However, the biological assembly line continued to churn, and I got the rather arcane impression that my guest was a fan of cosmically inane joke shop humor, of the sort that wasn’t going to cause me appreciable psychic injuries. I considered that the entity might plant a few stray whoopee cushions in the corridors of my mind, yet nothing substantial would come of this – besides, it appeared that the entity wasn’t very concerned with me at all. From this point, I began to relax into the trip.
Roughly 90 minutes into the trip, I reached what felt like a pivot point. The claustrophobia-inducing imagery dispersed, and I began to perceive a narrow range of colors in my mind’s eye. A split screen effect emerged, and I felt myself gently tilting, as if taped to a two-way mirror, towards what felt like another reality or universe. I perceived the ‘entry point’ of this world as a room, akin to a library, consisting of scarlet tones and coffee table hues. I felt acutely situated in the present moment, yet I was being offered the chance to sidestep the reality of my bedroom and enter a different world. Despite the emergence of this novel vista, my senses remained grounded in the world of my bedroom. The music piping through my headphones seemed to serve as a bungee cord, tethering me between a pre-game loading screen for some simulated world beyond the reach of my normal waking consciousness, and the corporeal world of my bedroom. As this was my first serious foray into psychedelics since 2020, I was happy to skirt along the surface of both worlds, rather than endure a more immersive and potentially perilous experience.
My wife was now stirring restlessly in bed, and as tends to happen in marriages, this interfered with my ability to meaningfully communicate with apparent other universes. The choice to venture deeper or not had been made for me, and I snapped out of my trance. Had I dosed higher, I might’ve segued automatically into a more immersive, internalized visual state. After a slight struggle, I set up my desktop computer in the corner of the bedroom and reclined into my swivel chair.
Before ingesting the drug, I’d intended to listen to a carefully curated 5-hour playlist front to back, yet the idea of doing so, in a strictly linear fashion, struck me as dogmatic. A new duality emerged, this time between my sober and tripping self. In the process of cultivating my playlist, I had designed certain peaks and troughs to guide the intensity of the experience, yet in the ebb and flow of my trip, this struck me as somewhat patronizing, as if my sober self was playing Rollercoaster Tycoon with my tripped-out psyche. My sober self had envisioned a three-gram mushroom trip as akin to segueing into a montage-like state, where I would feel a disconnect from my surroundings. Instead, I felt very lucid, preternaturally immersed in the present moment. I put my blindfold aside and began to manually skip through my playlist. I tended to gravitate towards the new-age, acoustic and classical sides of my playlist. I found the music of Neu! and Herbie Hancock overly repetitive and static, poorly conducive to my unravelling state of mind.
I played two tracks from Popol Vuh’s album ‘Hosianna Mantra’ in succession. I found myself totally immersed in this beautiful chamber music, with its serene, fluid instrumentation and expressive female vocals. As a personality, I tend to be somewhat inexpressive and reserved, not given to big emotional displays, but as I connected with the music, tears began to stream. I hadn’t cried like this for years, if not since childhood, and it felt good. Although the visual side of my trip had already peaked, my mind’s eye continued to generate a steady stream of closed-eye visuals, which now consisted of opaque, lava-like flows of yellow and orange molten hues. I found myself halfway between my bedroom, planted on my chair somewhat awkwardly, and cocooned within some obscure inner place, transfixed by feelings of bliss and awe.
A further splintering of self took place. The analytical, rationalizing side of my personality re-emerged, to observe from on high the adverse emotional weather events as they flowed through me. I could observe my physiological response from a slightly removed perspective, and I felt a simultaneous union and disconnect between the purposeful, analytical, seemingly ego-led side of my personality, and the more expressive and instinctual human-animal/biological machine under the hood. I realized, in a felt, visceral sense, that in the process of being someone who tends to ruminate and overthink, I tend to neglect and overlook the more subterranean and instinctual sides of my being, perhaps to my detriment.
This upwelling of emotion felt refreshing, as if my body had moved to purge itself of some residual stuff that had been lying dormant. I felt a deep connection with my physiological processes, as if I was in communion with a quietly sentient being within myself. Apparently, this instinctual lifeforce, my body’s own IT maintenance guy, had stepped in to release a few high-pressure valves and execute some commands on my behalf. I was the operating system, chiming away in my usual fashion, yet I was being given the chance to observe the troubleshooting process in real-time.
I went into the bathroom to observe the body owner of these me-adjacent personas. The bathroom was dimly lit by a single LED bulb, and the subtle yet alluring effect of the outside exterior lighting stood out as it shone onto the glass of the front door across the hall. Satisfyingly, the mirror reflected back my pure and unadulterated physical self, and I began to investigate this figure in the near dark. I felt extremely light and agile, and I began to enjoy the body high sensations of the drug more explicitly. I felt compelled to sway and move rhythmically, and this seemed to emphasize, in a visceral way, the contact I’d made with the human-animal-machine apparently residing behind my egoic sense of self. The noetic qualities of the trip, which had been a barrage at times, temporarily receded and gave way to the simple pleasures of hip swaying and hair swishing.
So far, I’d come up against the hard wall of my ego – in turn, I’d been temporarily relieved of some of its constraints. I’d observed, in both an analytical and a felt sense, certain aspects of my psyche as reflected through a series of polarities. In the last quarter of my trip, this shuffling of perspectives would continue, albeit in a more impersonal vein. Despite this, I would remain tethered to my sense of self. The figurative bungee cord I’d fitted a few hours back had slackened somewhat as I’d moved around the house, not merely content to sit passively and listen to music. I noticed that the stream of closed-eye visuals had abruptly stopped. Instead, now I could see pictorial impressions relating to my thought processes. Naturally, these internal polaroid pictures lacked the dynamism of the rolling torrents and molten forms I'd experienced during the trip’s peak.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this trip report, I’d been struggling with certain anxieties prior to tripping. As I started to come down, these concerns began to invade my consciousness once more – although not in the specific way I’d feared. I’d inserted a Russian choral track into my playlist, titled ‘Alleluia, Behold the Bridegroom’, and as I listened to this mournful yet otherworldly music, I began to think about the Ukraine conflict. The choir of male and female voices, lugubrious sounding and perceptibly worn, emanated a stoicism that was incredibly powerful. These voices, in unison and singly, represented, in a grandiose sense, the resilience of all human beings who find themselves under the cosh.
Specifically, I began to think about the countless maternal and paternal figures whose lives, throughout human history, have been suddenly upturned by despots. Whereas in my sober mindset, I might have considered this train of thought in an analytical vein, underpinned by a degree of anxiety, under the effects of psilocybin, I found myself deeply moved, in a full-bodied, emotional way, by the resilient acts of ordinary human beings. The nurturing impulses of the totemic parental figure, and his/her attempts to preserve the vestiges of normal domestic life amid a war zone setting, inspired feelings of empathy and awe. I found myself contrasting this impulse with the solipsistic qualities of certain powerful human beings, who put stock in abstractions, such as their place in the history books, at the expense of human lives.
This new duality presented itself in the form of a particularly vivid psychodrama, where I zeroed in on the perspective of a maternal figure situated in a dusty war-torn desert setting. Apparently, this woman was dutifully picking up pieces of debris and human shrapnel in a decimated neighborhood. I sensed that this act was being performed in a mood of stoical resignation, which relayed to me the petty, ephemeral qualities of individuals who perpetuate wars of conquest, as contrasted with the perennial suffering of subjugated populations. Soberly, I reminded myself that this cycle continues to perpetuate itself today, with increased stakes in the nuclear age. Whereas this thought process could’ve spun off into a bad trip, I remained open to these visualizations, thoughts and emotional projections, which seemed to anesthetize me from their potentially nightmarish qualities.
I segued back into my bedroom somewhere around 4 A.M. I had been staring a few million miles past the wall, adjacent to a window. The chinks of light that penetrated my shutters were not the blinding, annihilating light of a nuclear blast, but the friendly municipal lighting on my street.
I came away from this experience with the sense that I had tapped into aspects of the self both familiar and subliminal to my conscious mind. I feel I was able to integrate apparently oppositional parts of my psyche, and this had a replenishing effect, both bodily and mentally. Several aspects of this trip continue to provide me with food for thought, including the transpersonal aspects of tripping. At the time of this trip, for example, I had no conscious awareness of Carl Jung’s ‘trickster’ archetype.
My subscription to a predominantly materialist worldview has been somewhat discounted following this trip. The ability of these drugs to emphasize an egalitarian, pro-social view of the world strikes me as inherently valuable. Although these experiences are simulations, the brain processes them in an experiential and dynamic way – such is the novelty of psychedelics. As such, we can prospectively augment lessons learned from these trips into our ‘normal’, sober lives.
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