Mushrooms - P. azurescens & Cannabis
Citation: Pendragon. "Avoiding A Bad Trip: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. azurescens & Cannabis (exp61384)". Erowid.org. Nov 7, 2007. erowid.org/exp/61384
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First, let me note that I never take any perscription drugs and rarely do I take over-the-counter drugs. At the time of the experience report, I had not recently taken any drugs besides the p. azurescens and the weed. I smoke weed every day, as Dr. Dre exhorts me to do, and I take small doses of mushrooms about 4 times a year.
Over Christmas Break, my brothers and I cruised down to the Oregon coast to conduct our second annual hunt for psilocybe azurescens and cyanescens. We were quite successful, harvesting some two-hundred p. azurescens mushrooms from the dune-grasses, three to four times as much as the previous year. Because of our bountiful harvest, we decided to experiment with larger doses. This would prove to be a foolishly confident move on my part, resulting in my most difficult drug experience to date. On the night in question, I had been mentally preparing to take mushrooms, but I was expecting something more in the vein of my previous experiences. What I encountered, I was not prepared for at all.
Out of respect for the holidays, we waited until all of the family 'squares' were asleep before beginning our journey. This was probably my first mistake. It was a dark, cold, rainy night, so our options were fairly limited in terms of what we could do. We couldn't really take any walks if we got restless, and we had to be quiet and sneaky about the whole thing so as not to alarm our relatives. The circumstances formed an anxious and reluctant mood in me, but nothing that I thought would ruin my experience at the time. After all, I usually entertain a little healthy paranoia to keep me from doing anything terribly stupid. This was more than paranoia, though, a sort of foreboding. But I ignored it, assuming the kick-ass trip would outweigh the anxiety.
[T - 0:00-0:10] - We took about 24 of the little devils (6 each) and cut them up into smaller pieces, placing the pieces into about 40 oz. of boiling water and letting them steep with teabags for about 20 minutes. I find that fruity teas, especially orange teas, mask the bitter flavor of the mushrooms most completely. We split the liquid up four ways: one for me, one for my wife, and one for each of my brothers. As always, the tea had a very pleasing, earthy taste and was no trouble to ingest. Anxious for the experience, we had all finished our draught before 10 minutes had passed. While we waited for the mushrooms to kick in, we watched some American Dad cartoons.
[T – 0:25-0:30] - Within about 15 minutes of finishing our tea, my brothers reported that their trips had started. At the time, I only felt a tightening of my stomach and my chest, but a lingering dread began to creep into my thoughts. I began to wonder what, if anything would happen. Had I taken enough? For that matter, was I even sure that I had picked the right mushrooms? Maybe the discomfort in my stomach was only the beginning of my death by mushroom poisoning. Could I confuse a poisoning with a trip? Sure. Was I being poisoned? 'Probably not,' I told myself, 'Don't head-trip yourself into a bad place.' I began to feel restless and worrisome, so I decided it was time to smoke a little weed to ease my nerves.
[T – 0:30-0:40] - Once again, out of respect for our relatives, we smoked outside in my brother's car. Normally, I would totally advocate smoking weed, especially if you are a regular smoker like I am. But the setting of our pot-smoking was so damned creepy that it was a horrible place to 'come up' on mushrooms. It was raining, and it was dark. The car felt kind of like an underwater casket on wheels. My sense of dread growing stronger, I asked my brother to put on some music. He chose DMX's collaboration with 50 Cent and Styles P, entitled 'Shot Down,' an ultraviolent gangsta rap anthem with an ominous and dark beat. Usually I am a big fan of rap, and I have listened to 'Shot Down' plenty of times before and been unaffected. This time, however, the grisly imagery bore a hole into my brain. For example, 'If your head ain't hanging off of your shoulders, you ain't got shot, Nigga, just nicked. Cause if my chrome hit a piece of your bone it gon' do more than chip, Nigga.'
I was trying to be patient and calm myself down. I took a rip from the bong each time it was passed to me, smoking about an entire bowl of pretty potent weed, more than I would need to get high from sober. Finally, I asked my brother if we could listen to some Bob Marley or Pink Floyd and he grudgingly accommodated me with some Marley. At this time, I began to notice that the stereo face seemed to be moving toward me. I became transfixed upon it for what seemed like a few minutes, and it seemed to somehow reach out to my eyes as my eyes reached out for it. I came to notice a complicated network of lines, a pattern that seemed to be interacting with the moving numbers indicating the track time.
At this point, I was sure that my trip had begun, and I knew immediately that it was something different and beyond what I had experienced in the past. I looked at the smoke-filled car around me and saw the pattern superimposed on everything I tried to look at. It was especially creepy to look outside the car into the dark, because it seemed as though the pattern of lights and lines was approaching me slowly and smoothly, but at the same time relentlessly. I knew I could not escape it because it was happening within me, and this started to scare me. I told everyone that I needed to go back inside, because the experience was becoming too much for me.
[T – 0:40-1:00] - Inside, I felt better, but my trip was just beginning. I thought I would try lying down with my wife, who was a bit further along in her trip, but also having difficulties with the larger dose. I found that I got frightened when I looked at her face, because it seemed contorted and distorted, so I tried closing my eyes. With my eyes closed, it seemed like the visions started coming on even stronger, so I got back up and tried to keep calm. The whole time, I was restless and anxious but also excited and even joyful. Joy gave way to anxiety and vice versa in ebbs and flows.
[T – 1:00-1:30] - Concluding that the bed was not the right place for my restless body and my racing mind, my wife and I got up and joined my brothers in the kitchen. I noticed that some objects seemed to be simultaneously farther away and closer than they should have been. Space seemed to be meaningless. I pondered and examined this curiosity for awhile, feeling better up and around. Someone, perhaps my wife, called my attention to the fact that the décor of the house was largely purple or periwinkle in color. Once my mind turned to “looking for purple” I began to find purple assaulting me from every angle. Purple was spreading from objects that contained no purple previously, until finally I could smell, taste, and feel the purple all around me. Once again, I could not control my sensations and I began to feel panicked about it.
[T – 1:30-5:00] - In an attempt to try to ground myself in reality I began eating, but I had neither the patience nor the sobriety to cook myself anything. I think I ate a carrot and some Doritos. But the more I ate, the further “down the rabbit hole” I fell. I kept getting scared, wondering whether I would recover from my trip. With little to do, my brothers began watching cartoons again, and I curled up into the fetal position and watched along from the floor. My wife served as a kind of an anchor to hope for me, as she was past the discomfort, enjoying herself. But my experience for the rest of the night was the same.
The cartoons seemed to take on deep significance, as though they were realer than any world I had ever lived in. The situations provoked in me more existential worrying and a deeply disturbed feeling from the “darker” humor. I wish I could say that things improved before I came down, but I was pretty much fighting off the “bad trip” in one form or another for the rest of the night. We watched about 3 hours worth of cartoons, which ranged from provocative to creepy to horrifying. By the end, I finally felt like my body was calming down, but only insofar as the trip was gone. Most of the night, I spent with my head buried in my wife’s lap wishing that I hadn’t taken the mushrooms. We may have smoked another bowl of weed at the end, or I may have just crashed. My memory is fuzzy on that point.
I relate this story in order that one might learn the importance of set and setting. Since that “bad trip” I have taken mushrooms again three times, and each time was an incredibly joyful and awesome experience. The difference: I paid closer attention to my feelings and planned for the right type of environment. It is awful to feel limited and constrained in the context of a mushroom trip.
ON DOSAGE CONTROL
To control my experience to a greater extent, I now grind the dried mushrooms up into a powder, so I can easily measure out repeatable doses from the powder, which is of uniform potency. This is far superior than taking an approximate dose each time based on “caps” or grams although the strength of the powder will vary depending on the mushrooms I put into it.
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