Mushrooms - P. mexicana
Citation: Dioscuri. "Terror and Wonder at Stonehenge: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. mexicana (exp45023)". Erowid.org. Apr 26, 2006. erowid.org/exp/45023
This year I attended the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Hampshire. I'd done shrooms quite a few times before, and despite having many glowing experiences, had never had what you might call a mystical experience. I thought the setting would be good, and despite losing one packet of mushrooms on the way, I was thoroughly psyched about the experience as I travelled there on bus, train, and bus once more.
I drank a small bottle (30cl?) of whiskey on the way down while I read Phillip K. Dick's Second Variety (which was very good, but not particularly influential on my experience, I think). I was pretty tipsy when I arrived, but certainly a long way away from drunk and was feeling pretty lucid. In my experience being pissed on mushroom trips is not a good idea - not that it makes for bad trips, but for dulled trips, for me at least. The only thing worrying me was that I was just going down with my girlfriend, who wasn’t doing shrooms, and though we were meeting her friends, I didn’t know any of them so well. Still, I hoped the more isolated nature of the experience would lend well towards it being more mystical. Also, I’d done larger doses and stronger varieties than this before, so wasn’t too worried.
I set up my spot in front of the Henge with my girlfriend’s mates and got comfy, while I finished my whiskey and shared a couple of spliffs. I was definitely merry by this point, but still quite lucid, and after I took the mushrooms (at about 11:30) I abstained from any other substances for a couple of hours. I did use some whiskey to mask the taste however. Stonehenge itself, by the way, was pretty fantastic – a really amazing background – but wasn’t the focus of my trip in any way, other than being something nice to look at.
From 11:30 to 12 I wasn’t feeling any effects – not that I expected any – and continued being my normal talkative self, asking the people around me what they were into, and being a good little socialiser. Then, shortly after midnight, I started rolling a cigarette and kept getting distracted. I was staring into my lap at this point, making a windbreak, and I was getting increasingly annoyed at my uncharacteristic inability to make a bit of paper and tobacco hang together. I looked up at the guys around me, about to tell them this, and suddenly the shrooms hit me, very fast and very hard.
I giggled uncontrollably, and thought to myself about how I always forget what they’re like in between taking them. My ‘mushroom’ persona, in contrast with my normal persona, is very quiet, very unable and unwilling to speak, very absorbed in thought, and very confused by language as a whole. I also, on mushrooms, feel terrified at constructing sentences (they seem like such a commitment, with a beginning, middle, and end) and completely at a loss as to normal social behaviour. This is in contrast to many of my friends who talk uncontrollably and excitedly throughout their trips. These lead me to conclude that above all else, mushrooms affect me as a deconditioning agent, removing all my ingrained responses that I carry out with ease and without thought. All these symptoms hit me at once, at about 12:10, when I stopped concentrating on rolling my cigarette, and blew me away. They were accompanied by the usual enhanced awareness of colours and light.
For about half an hour after this, I sat listening to the people around me, in a state of great mental excitement, thoroughly delighted to have come back to mushrooms once again. At the same time I felt quite awkward talking to people around me – there was another girl there, who I didn’t know at all, who was on mushrooms, and I felt I wanted to tell her everything about my experience, because surely she’d understand. I lacked the verbal faculties to do this however, so contended myself with attempting very basic conversation (“Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, what kind of thing do you listen to”, etc.) with the people around me, though this was more for experimental reasons than desire to be social. I was curious to find out how people – who seemingly conducted conversations without having to worry and scrutinise the words they were putting together, unlike beshroomed me – acted towards strangers speaking to them.
Though this was interesting, it also stopped me concentrating particularly on the trip, and brought me down to earth a little.
Around 1am, my girlfriend returned from a little walk she’d taken, and began talking to her friends. The things she said and the way she behaved I found absolutely hilarious, and couldn’t stop laughing, even though no-one else was. Not hilarious in a bad way, just really extrovert and easy and unafraid of saying personal or potentially shocking things, and all in a really happy excited way. I then realised she wasn’t on mushrooms.
My girlfriend ALWAYS behaves in the above way on mushrooms, and when it occurred to me she hadn’t taken any that night, I was stunned. And then I realised. My prior beliefs about my girlfriend’s behaviour on mushrooms had been less an indication of her behaviour on mushrooms than on *my* perceptions of her when *I’m* on mushrooms (I’d never done them in her company before without her also having taken them). This thought caused me great amusement.
The visuals at this point were mild, and quite non-specific. Colours were bright, faces were interesting, the world seemed (slightly) oppressive but also (very) exciting. I also (as you might expect given shrooms’ deconditioning effects on me) found myself looking at things and trying to work out what they were, as if seeing them for the first time. Patterns on my clothes and on other people’s clothes fascinated me, as if I’d never properly looked at them before.
Once my girlfriend arrived, the socialising continued, but I took more of step back and got a proper opportunity to look at normal behaviour without having to commit myself to conversations. Eventually, around 1am, conversation settled down and people started to huddle up (it was very cold). At this point, I noticed a glint in my girlfriend’s eyes – the normal kind of glint I get from light reflecting off a shiny surface. I looked at this harder, and the first truly impressive visuals of the trip began. As I gazed at the glint, it turned into a wide circle, that seemed to expand as I looked at it. As I looked into this circle, I saw complex 2-dimensional structures, that looked somewhere between biological and man-made: circles passing rapidly along straight tubes, circles made up of a gridwork of other circles and of lines, the kinds of thing I might see under a microscope, except they were changing very rapidly and also looked very well finished off and clearly delineated – hence not entirely biological. They resembled some closed eye visuals I’d had before, except I was able to focus on them and watch them very closely with my eyes open and in good light. They seemed to be partly on the surface of my eyes however, and were filled with radiant colours.
I demanded my girlfriend sit still in the same position with her eyes open while I did this, which she quickly bored of, and despite my pleas to remain in the position, she lay down and went to sleep between my legs.
Though these visuals may not sound so impressive, they beat pretty much every other visual I’ve had on mushrooms (except possibly one time in Amsterdam when I went out into a hotel corridor and the whole thing collapsed into a homogenous very rapidly moving mass all around me). They were so clear, so complex, and look so ‘other’ – not like the distortions of normal objects and blending and moving of patterns I’m accustomed to on mushroom trips. I was very upset when my girlfriend went to sleep, but I understood she was cold, and was still trying to get to grips with what I’d seen.
As my girlfriend went to sleep (around 1:30), I rolled another small spliff, and took a few tokes every few minutes. This seemed to potentiate the visuals around me, and I started to see a marvellous ‘blending’ as people passed between the little hairs hanging down in front of my eyes (I have quite long hair). They seemed to move past these hairs not walking, but ‘morphing’, seemed to expand until they were on the other side of the hairs, at which point the body still left behind would contract to catch them up. It seemed like an effect I’ve seen on many films and TV shows, but unfortunately I can’t remember any specific examples.
Another way to describe it might be that their bodies seemed to lose specific surface features as they moved past the hairs interposing my line of vision towards them, becoming a blend of their colours rather than their shapes, and definitely stretching out until they were fully past the hair(s) in question, contracting again once they reached the other side. This was accompanied by a feeling of fear, as this was a very powerful hallucination, and one that was uncontrollable (unlike the powerful hallucination from my girlfriend’s eyes, which required my focus).
This feeling of fear made me panic a little. I’ve never developed a full blown panic on mushrooms (though I have on weed, funnily enough) and my friends have been warning me repeatedly that I would develop one sooner or later. I now began to probe at the various worries and niggles that had been on my mind prior to the trip. They weren’t particularly huge, and were quite paranoid one, and didn’t bother me excessively in my normal life - if I’d had any serious problems on my mind, I wouldn’t have done shrooms till they were sorted out. So I probed the weaknesses of my contentment like poking a mouth ulcer, keen to flush out any potential panics in a ‘controlled’ fashion.
Unfortunately, and predictably, this had the exact opposite effect. I quickly started to have new, paranoid thoughts about all my little worries, and given there was no-one there who was awake who I could talk to, I had to deal with them on my own. Being eminently suggestible on mushrooms, I quickly convinced myself of various nightmare scenarios. Every time this would happen, I’d force the ideas out of my head, dismissing them, without taking the time to rationally explain to myself why they were ridiculous. Initially, this pushing away seemed to work just fine, but pretty quickly the paranoia started to gain the upper hand, as my paranoid half kept challenging myself to properly prove why they were ridiculous, which my ‘reassuring’ half kept failing to do (out of a worry that it wouldn’t be able to), and so kept pushing them out of my head whilst thinking ‘ridiculous, paranoid, mushroom induced’. They were of course, but I needed to actually convince myself of this rather than just explaining why I was doing it.
As the paranoid worries started to gain the upper hand, and people around me started to ‘morph’ ever more violently, I finally let the reassuring and suppressing half of myself surrender – ‘whatever is coming, let it come’, I thought and prepared myself for a wave of panic and the full-blown fear.
What happened next is the trip’s mystical component. As I finally surrendered, my train of thought was suddenly filled by myself explaining everything. Not pushing away, or suppressing, but explaining exactly why I’d been pushing away and suppressing, why I’d been worrying, and encompassing everything about my fear in about 10 seconds of thought. I wasn’t thinking these ideas for myself – I was fucked and scared, and in no place to be rational. It was ME having these thought, it was MY train of thought, yet a different part of me, a wholly calm, wholly rational, wholly truthful part of myself, which interrupted my ability to think while its words washed over me, every one of them entirely true, entirely explaining the way I’d been thinking and behaving, without putting forth an argument or trying to convince myself of anything – a synthesis to the thesis/antithesis, worry/reassurance game I’d been playing for the last forty five minutes.
It felt like it could not have come from me at all – its tone could not have been more removed from my mindstate – and as the words came into my head they seemed in themselves – beyond their actual meaning – overwhelmingly soothing and reassuring, but in a way that eliminated worry by encompassing it.
I wasn’t thinking verbally during this ten seconds or so, just feeling and responding, but my first verbal thought was SOPHIA. Truth, divine wisdom, whatever you want to call it, yet intrinsic to consciousness and thought itself. Yet this act of naming interrupted the flow – though reassuring seems too crude, it felt almost like it came as Sophia was passing away –and the reassuring words slowly ebbed away, though their last signified was that the reason they were doing so was my return to normal thought, the thought based on thesis and antithesis rather than synthesis, dialectical rather than holistic understanding. Thus the retreat of this wisdom did not frighten me.
I was left for a while trying to digest this experience. I was tremendously excited, knowing that I had had my first full blown mystical experience on hallucinogenic drugs, and wondering how this could possibly fit into my general belief system. My belief system is heavily based on my passion and area of study – philosophy of mind – and whilst this isn’t the time or place to conduct an exegesis, there were aspects of the experience that seemed entirely coherent with my ideas, yet incoherent at the same time, and not only in different topics of my belief system. In particular, my belief system is inevitably a thesis, a proposition, an argument, yet the words that I heard could not have been more obviously removed from a particular point of view – they seemed to embrace all of them.
The rest of the trip was unspectacular. One thing to note is the time dilation – it felt like hours had passed, and I was convinced it must be four or five. At this point a very powerful chill descended, and I realised I was absolutely freezing. My girlfriend woke up at the cold, and we began walking around very briskly, my teeth chattering frantically, and my body shaking in the cold. Then, briefly, a ridiculous but primordial panic hit me. Thinking it was about four or five, and having heard shouts a few moments earlier, I thought the sun was about to rise. But as we walked around, and it seemed to get colder, the thought flashed through my head – ‘what if it doesn’t rise?’. Ridiculous, but quite probably the deepest fear of man for many centuries prior. This fear lasted a few seconds, however, and when I checked the time, it was only 2:30. 2:30!!! How could it be? But this reassured me – it was one of the coldest parts of the night, and the sun wasn’t about to rise for a couple of hours.
Feeling like I wanted to restore my senses and digest the experiences I’d had, I decided to eat some food and smoke some tobacco, and this began to bring me gently out the trip, and I found myself talking quite naturally to strangers around me, though there was still the open-mouthed amusement and confusion of mushrooms. The next couple of hours seem to blur into one, but when the sun did rise, it was spectacular. First came a little sunlight, illuminating the deep and thick mist surrounding Stonehenge on all sides, and then as the sun rose, it seemed to boil this mist away before my eyes. It was a beautiful view for anyone, but the mushrooms enabled to actually sit and watch for a long time without getting bored.
I was still very cold and a little damp, as was my fair lady, so we left quite early and climbed into a warm bus on the way home, sleeping on the way. The journey back was very peaceful, warm, and comforting, and as I nibbled more food on the way home, I felt a great sense of contentment and happiness, as well as a growing *confident* curiosity about the night before, rather than the goggle-eyed Alice in Wonderland curiosity of the trip.
So – conclusions. I won’t go into my thoughts on the ‘mystical’ component other than to say it was the most overwhelmingly positive 10 seconds I’ve ever had on mushrooms, though even that wholly fails to do it any kind of justice. The setting as a whole was a bit cold and uncomfortable It was certainly a factor in my ‘fear’, even though it was probably also a factor in inducing the mystical component of the trip.
y mindset beforehand was good, and I think if I had been feeling seriously worried about commitments I had in the near future or actual problems looming over me, then the fear might not have been averted. The setting was very pretty. Being surrounded by strangers certainly didn’t help, nor did the fact that I knew well no-one else there on mushrooms. Still, the solitary nature of the middle part of the trip probably helped the mystical side – but it would have been better to be alone with my girlfriend asleep, and no-one else there, than lots of people I didn’t know at all. It certainly made the whole thing a lot more intense.
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