Cacti - T. peruvianus, MDMA & Cannabis
Citation: Hypersphere. "A Truly Divine State of Consciousness: An Experience with Cacti - T. peruvianus, MDMA & Cannabis (exp66733)". Erowid.org. Dec 3, 2007. erowid.org/exp/66733
This report details two experiences, one year less a day apart, with a very special combination: Peruvian torch cactus (Trichocereus peruvianus) and MDMA. The setting for both trips is a large (5 day and about 10,000 people), outdoor electronic music festival. I am male, 120 pounds, and was 21 at the time of the first experience (2006) and 22 at the time of the second experience (2007). I am experienced with a range of psychedelics and other substances.
First experience: Re-introduction to phenethylamines
A whole lot of bizarre stuff happened to me right before I went on this trip, so I’ll have to include a little background info here:
I had taken ecstasy before, but only three times, and only one of those times did it feel like clean MDMA. That one experience, mind you, had been a truly divine plus four. So I had this kind of idealist view of the power of ecstasy. I believed it to have an amazing healing potential, but I was scared to take it in case of getting something else. The other two times I had taken ecstasy I got MDA in one case and some kind of weird mixed pill rumoured to contain mostly MDE in another. Neither of which was I interested in trying again. However, a couple days before a very respectable looking gentleman who looked to be in his thirties had come by our camp offering chocolate mushrooms and gelcaps of pure MDMA. Even though I hadn’t really intended on taking ecstasy ever again, the sight of white powder in a gelcap and the reassuring feeling I had from talking to this guy encouraged me to buy a couple along with some of the chocolate mushrooms. He didn’t know exactly how much was in them, but in retrospect I would estimate they were 100 to 120 milligrams.
So it had been three years since taking MDMA, and my only prior experience with peruvian torch had been a very low dosage (8 grams) more than two years previous. That dose had given me just a tiny hint of the body buzz and euphoria, and the visuals that I could expect from mescaline. Most of that trip was spent with three people huddled together in a tiny tent, as huge raindrops pounded there way right through the fly and thunder and lightning crashed all around. I had scored the dried and powdered cactus (as well as some more chocolate mushrooms) for this experience from this awesome pink hippy van.
Earlier in the day, I had gone swimming with my friends. For some reason I got this urge to jump in the river, which I did, and when I came back out my glasses were no longer on my face. The river was deep and swirly and there was no hope of finding them. I guess the universe wanted me to learn to see in a different way! Without my glasses I am quite short-sighted. I thought about things, and decided to eat some mushrooms, listen to some funky grooves and just forget about it.
Later in the day, right after my happy shock at finding the peruvian torch, I ran into my recent ex-girlfriend. It had actually been her who had got me my ticket to this festival, originally we were going to go together. Now she refused to even speak to me, putting her arms up crossed in a warding away gesture and avoiding eye contact. She was dancing like one possessed, flailing violently, looking way more fucked up than anyone else on the dance floor. All I wanted to do was say hello and mention that she had sent her tent and bag of clothing and stuff up with us, so was she ever going to come by our camp and get it? But apparently she didn’t even want to speak to me. This fucked with my head a lot, I got kind of upset, walked around smoking some hash and getting myself back in a good mindstate.
I put twenty grams of cactus, some water and the juice of a couple lemons in a pot and set it to heating. Dick came out of his tent after his afternoon nap (it was dark now), and when the tea was ready I gave him about half a cup and drank a full cup myself. He commented that it was a “ten out of ten on the rankness scale.” Yes, slimy, bitter, disgusting indeed. Dick went back to bed, and the next day reported extremely colourful vivid dreams involving rainbows and care bears, and shortly thereafter Gemini surfaced from his tent. I fed him about half a cup of tea too, and drank a full one myself. Then I finished the slimy dregs filled with lumps of powdered cactus. In total I think I ingested about 15 grams worth of cactus, the rest going to my two friends.
Finally all that disgusting liquid was down. Gemini and I went for a bit of a walk and some food down by the beach, and then Gemini two was tired and headed off to bed. By this time I could feel a mild energizing sensation, tingling limbs and a tightness in the stomach. Everything had taken on a sharp, pixelated look (remember, I don’t have my glasses, so “sharp” is unexpected!). The cactus was clearly having some effect. The last thing Gemini said to me, knowing I was still upset from having this girl refusing to speak to me, said “Just don’t take MDMA tonight, okay?”
“Yeah” I replied dully. Then I immediately went into my tent, found one of the capsules of MDMA and bit off half of it, washing down the bitter white powder with some water. I grab my glowsticks and water bottle and head out into the night-time craziness.
I am wandering around in a forest of trees, paintings hanging above and everything lit up by blacklights. Suddenly I find myself beginning to come up on the MDMA. This woman somewhat older than me, brown skinned and with a red dot on her forehead making me think of India, calls me over saying to give her a hug, her eyes caught by my black-light reactive cape. We embrace and then stare deeply into each other’s eyes, hers are a deep brown with hidden depths. As I stare her face seems to change, becoming almost animalistic, it’s a little scary because I feel I’m putting myself in such a trusting, open position. But I continue smiling at her and she smiles back at me. “How are you feeling?” She asks gently.
“Good, but I’m on things right now that I don’t normally take…” Now I am sitting next to her, my head on her shoulder, feeling very happy, and soon I was lovingly embraced with her, our cheeks touching, my face in her neck and hair. Physical contact felt amazing. Another girl comes over and joins us, we talk a little and then part ways. The Indian woman comes over and kisses my cheek before leaving. I think she knew I was coming up and just wanted to start my experience out the right way.
I sat pondering my state for a few moments, then wandered over to the pumping bass of the nearest stage. I ran into and of course hugged a few friendly faces, and along the lines somewhere ate the other half of the MDMA capsule. One girl who I’d met a couple nights before thanked me for helping her out of a bad spot when she was coming up on mushrooms. I felt so grateful and glad that my interactions with other people could create such a positive effect sometimes.
The second rush of MDMA came on a little less lovey-dovey and a little more energizing. I spent the rest of the night pretty much just dancing and smoking innumerable bowls of hash out of my little glass pipe. Thoughts swirled through my head, I found I was finally accepting certain things that had happened to me. I thought a lot about meeting my ex earlier that day. The main message I kept getting was just to let it all go. I had tried hard to just be friends with her and it clearly was not working. I had to let go my obsessive emotional attachment to her.
I saw a path to change the way I loved. No longer could I love one person to the exclusion of all others, including myself. That’s silly, it sets me up to let that one person I love control my happiness. I wanted to be able to control my own happiness. In order to do that, I had to learn to love myself. That was the basis for it all. If I love myself I am content and happy being myself, expressing freely who and what I am.
From a base of loving oneself the capacity to love others seems, if not infinite, then much larger. Loving becomes more of an affirmation of each other’s being, that it’s good to be alive and appreciate each others company. True empathy is being able to love the stranger just as much as your close friends. I do realize there are many degrees of love, the love for a stranger is not as deep and lasting as love for a friend, and when sex and attraction enter the equation a whole new array of emotional attachment becomes involved.
What I had been involved in, till recently, felt somewhat more like an addiction than how true love should be. I was not happy with myself, but sought happiness through loving someone else. So when that someone else rejected me, it only reinforced my worthlessness. I felt strongly that I had to love and accept myself if I was to form healthy long-term relationships with those around me. This was the new me, emerging from a cloud of darkness and depression into the light again. Seeing things the way they really are. It has been said that one experience with MDMA or a psychedelic drug can prompt as much individual change as years of conventional psychotherapy, and certainly I was feeling the therapeutic potential of these substances tonight.
Eventually the MDMA must have been wearing off, but it was very hard to tell because the cactus kept coming on stronger at the same time. Sometimes I would stop dancing and just stand and stare in awe at the lights, at the patterns they were making, feeling extraordinarily high. Tingling rushes would go up my spine, the back of my head, out the top, making me close my eyes and feel like I was disintegrating or merging into the air around me. All of the above I would attribute to the cactus, and quite a bit of visual shifting and swirling was noticed during these moments. In between patches of tripping out I would get rushes of energy and dance. By the time light was leaking back into the sky I had probably smoked a gram or two of very potent bubble hash, so this immense marijuana body stone and dreamy mind state smoothed out any rough edges from the MDMA or the cactus.
All told I was high for twelve hours or more. When I finally tired of dancing I didn’t have too much difficulty falling asleep, although waking up in an overheated tent three or four hours later I wasn’t feeling too chipper. I wasn’t sure if it was a feeling of being burntout, or still high. Maybe a bit of both. That evening I took a hit and a half each of acid and MDMA, but that’s a different story.
Experience 2 (364 days later): Peruvian torch and high-dose MDMA
I explained my idea for today to Star: Mescaline, in the form of peruvian torch “balls”. I had prepared the balls by boiling 60 grams of very potent ground peruvian torch cactus in three washes of water acidified with white vinegar. The combined extracts were reduced, skimming off all this nasty white and sometimes brown mucous-cactus-slime the brew would produce. I evaporated as much water as possible with low heat, then let the molasses-textured and coloured tar sit a few days evaporating residual moisture. The substance was completely unworkable (very sticky and stretchy), so I mixed in about 12 grams more dry peruvian torch till I had formed a hard putty-like substance. This was divided up and rolled into about thirty little cactus balls.
The idea behind this method was to have a nice little round ball to swallow easily without tasting too much bitterness, while at the same time reducing the quantity of plant material needing to be consumed. The cactus balls were definitely better than either cactus tea or putting powdered cactus in capsules (too many capsules!). We split the balls up between five people, myself, Dante, Star, Elaine and Sparrow. Each of us had extract equivalent to an approximately 15 gram dosage of dry cactus, enough for a mild to moderate trip without too much nausea (actually no one experienced any nausea during this trip). So we took the cactus with some food sometime shortly after noon, and headed down to the beach to bathe. We planned to go back to camp in the afternoon and take some MDMA before heading down to one of the stages for an “ecstatic dance” workshop in the afternoon.
We bathed in the icy cold water, and then sat around in the sun for awhile, smoking a few bowls. I could feel a very mild sensation from the cactus, just enough to let me know it was in my body. I could only recognize it from my previous experiences with cactus, and everyone else who had taken it said they didn’t feel anything yet. A very subtle sensation, but I was encouraged knowing that it takes a good five or more hours to peak on peruvian torch. As I said to Star and Elaine, when it’s been another twelve hours and you are still high, that’s when you will know it’s the cactus!
It was a scorchingly hot day and the level of nudity on the beach was increasing. Mostly just a lot of topless girls, some of whom had painted elaborate patterns across their chests, but a few hardy men and women were completely naked. The idea of stripping off all my clothing was quite appealing, but I thought I’d probably get an enormous hard-on at the first topless girl I saw, and it would all be downhill from there. Best leave the shorts on for now! But hat’s off to anyone who does want to be naked, go for it!
Everyone was getting a little sun-stoned and dehydrated, so we went back to the nice shade treed area where we were camping. Eight of us were dosing MDMA that day, including all five who were already on the peruvian torch. Star likes to put a lot of intention into his trips, and so we all drew rune stones from a bag to see what kind of trip we would be having, and went around the circle reading to each other the descriptions of the stones drawn. Star was in the tent weighing out the dosages. We had decided to all do the same amount, a high dose, exactly 222 milligrams of MDMA (there was some numerological significance to this, but I can’t remember what it was). Anyway, Star assured us that this would put us into a very comfortable and high-as-a-kite place.
I had never before taken a dosage of MDMA higher than 200 milligrams, and that was having the dose spaced out over about an hour. So taking this large of a dose all at once was new territory for me. I was excited to be doing the mescaline/MDMA combination again, as last year when I took these two substances together it was one of the most beautiful and healing experiences of my life. The runestone that I drew was #22, interesting in the numerical relation to our dosage, and also I was 22 years old at the time. Runestone 22 was “Breakthough”. Hmm, how appropriate, I think to myself. I’m going to breakthough, cool!
So Star came out with eight little balls of tissue paper full of white powder, warning us to try and parachute them without having it break open in our mouths to avoid the bitter taste. Once everyone had swallowed their dose, we got in a circle, arms around each other’s shoulders, foreheads touching, and did a group OM. Three times we together breathed in deeply and sighed out “Auuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmm”. Each time the power of the vibrational built, and after the third OM the intensity was so great it was expanding outwards to the rest of the festival grounds in concentric circles. We all burst apart backwards, saying “Wow!” to one another. What a nice powerful little ritual this was, to link us all as a group going in to the trip.
Now it was time for us all to quickly head down to the water line before heading to the ecstatic dance workshop. I could feel the MDMA coming on with a power I’ve never felt before. I felt like I was swaying and moving in an ocean, it felt somewhat dizzying but not in a bad way. I was reminded of coming up on a strong dose of syrian rue, this dizzying feeling. As we were walking down the main road to the water taps, I saw the most incredible patterns of life, channels of energy flowing, shifting and merging through the ground. I could feel where this trip was heading and knew it would be a very beautiful space to arrive in. I was seeing the life force in the very earth beneath my feet, it can only get better from here!
Getting to the water line I saw a good friend in line ahead of us and so I ran up and hugged her and told her what I was on. She seemed to disconnect from me slightly, a bit of worry in her eyes as she said “That’s not good for you!” Yeah, I know, I’m the one always telling you why high or frequent doses of MDMA are not good. But I’m in such a good space it’s very difficult to interpret anything negatively right now. Some guy comes up and interviews myself and Star for the radio, I didn’t know what I was going to say but as soon as I opened my mouth the words just slid out with great enthusiasm. I was in a state of total ecstatic bliss, and it seemed like only moments had passed and we were already at the front of the water line! I swear this is the most fun I have ever had standing in line in my whole life. We all filled up our bottles and headed over toward the music. On the way over everyone is completely loved up, connected to the group, hugging and laughing. Elaine gives me a kiss, a beautiful exchange of energy. It has been said that ecstasy is sensual, not sexual, which I would definitely agree with. MDMA breaks down our emotional barriers and we can express the love of cameraderie and friendship freely.
The ecstatic dance workshop had just started when we got there. The music had a good trance beat going, and the sounds of the way you were supposed to breathe (breathe in two quick fast breathes, then out forcefully, repeat), as well as the admonition “close your eyes.” I tried dancing this way a little while but I kept opening my eyes. They had people at the entrances coming over to tell you “this is a workshop, you have to dance with your eyes closed!” Okay, fine. I try again. Try to dance and direct my focus inward, but I just can’t, it feels all wrong. The energy doesn’t want to go in, I am fighting so hard not to open my eyes. It is actually very uncomfortable directing the energy in, all I want to do is look around me and connect and socialize. I decide this whole ecstatic dance thing isn’t for me, at least right now, so I open my eyes, edge out and leave.
I recognize that a lot of people are here with a serious intent to look inside themselves through dance, and that my presence here is a disturbance to that intention. I don’t belong here, that’s why I feel uncomfortable. I think for a moment about whether my friends will worry about me if I just disappear, but I had been clear from the outset that I might go off on my own and trust them to realize what I left, and that I will find them later. It turns out the rest of them weren’t feeling the vibe there either, too much introspection going on. They all abandoned the workshop shortly after me, and Star assured them that I was in a comfortable space and doing fine.
Doing fine I was, indeed. I followed my feet, followed the music, as they pulled me towards the funky reggae groove issuing from the towering speakers of another stage. I climbed up on one of the overlooking balconies, sharing some of my water with a guy next to me who was clearly just as high on ecstasy as I was. We blabbed a bit about how great the music was and how great we were feeling yada yada.
The girl on the other side of me was only moving her body a bit, looking slightly conflicted. She looked like she really wanted to let loose but wasn’t quite sure how, wasn’t quite comfortable and unsure if she really belonged here. Is it strange that ecstasy makes me think I can see into the hearts and minds of those around me, just by observing their expressions and posturing? Or does it really open us up and sensitize us to the subtle body signals we might otherwise miss?
I gently touch her shoulder and smiling ask if she would like a hug. Her eyes light up and I hold her close for a long time, feeling the energy flow back and forth between us, merging our beings, trying to let her feel what I am feeling in this moment, here and now. After we finally part she looks so much happier, more alive, and I notice she is dancing more to the music. I think she really appreciated this simple gesture of acceptance, because the next time I saw her was a couple days later, she came running across the dance floor with a big grin crying “YOU!!!” and asked for another hug.
When my water is empty I make my way back to camp contentedly. Another friend (the girl who’d refused to speak with me last year) is there at camp, I’m a bit surprised to see her. She’s been very disconnected the past year, having trouble communicating with others, even trouble finishing simple sentences. I can’t help but sit her down for a little heart-to-heart talk. I tell her that all her friends are worried about her, worried that she cannot communicate with others. I try to ask the right questions to understand how and why she is on the path she is on, why she thinks this is the right way. I try to tell her my point of view, that all experiences need to be properly integrated back into her life, and that she needs to be able to communicate with others. Eventually I have to leave, because her energy or aura or whatever just makes me feel strange, anxious, and off when I’m around her, it’s very draining. I am glad I had this conversation with her though, and the chance to express to her clearly what a lot of us have been trying to say. I just hope it helps some and that she can find a better path.
Walking back towards camp I soon run into Star, Elaine, Dante and a few others. We swap stories on what we’ve been doing, go back to the camp and smoke a few bowls. Star asks if anyone else wants a top-up dose, which I agree to. Star says he will just split up however much of the MDMA is left evenly between the seven of us (one person did not want to redose). He comes out with more little tissues containing a dose of 230 milligrams of MDMA (I know, I know, a second steep dose after the first one? Insanity?). We wash the doses down with a sip of water out of a singing bowl that had been charged with a kyanite crystal. The scene reminds me vaguely of the sacramental administering of wafers and wine in a Catholic church.
It is nearly dark now and we head down to the beach stage, catching the end of DJ Tipper with some excellent down tempo beats. The group decides to head back to the stages that play psytrance and more “sacred” tribal influenced music. This girl Kali is with us, not on MDMA but she’s been eating tons of mushrooms over the course of the night and is getting the love-vibe from all of us, so she’s pretty much in the same mindstate. Her and I keep hugging and kissing each other, almost loosing the rest of the party due to getting lost in each other. A geodesic domed tent has some great music playing, sacred tribal influenced trance. In the back of this tent is a little area where you can just sit or lie down, and drink a cup of tea. They give me some chamomile tea. I’m pretty tired from dancing and staying up so much, so I lie down for a little bit, resting and talking with a couple people I know.
Sparrow and Dante and I run into each other and hang out a while in a chill-out tent full of loved up couples and with a nice alter in the middle full of crystals, incense, offerings of poppy pods and ganja. Sparrow is dressed as a fairie and radiates an aura of fun and love she raises the spirits of everyone else around her. There is a girl in the chill-out tent who passes around a crystal, asking everyone to charge it with good thoughts and she wants to give it to her boyfriend. After going most of the way around, the crysal disappears. The girl is very upset, she breaks down and cries a little bit and Kali and I try to comfort her. After some time she seems a little better and comes to accept that maybe the crystal is not meant for her boyfriend. She says “I hope whoever has it needs it more right now” which was a pretty powerful statement to hear her say, when she was so obviously upset. Dante and Sparrow head off, and I say I’ll meet up with them later.
I wander around for awhile, not finding Dante or Sparrow but I do find Kali sitting outside one of the tents. We start kissing again, and eventually head back to the chill-out tent, just to melt into each other for awhile. I find it kind of funny that of all the girls I know and am interested in at this festival, I’m instead making out with a girl I’ve just met and barely know anything about. But the moment is beautiful and I just flow with it, feeling no guilt and no regrets. All we are doing is making each other happy, enjoying the merging of energies, and there is nothing immoral or wrong in such an exchange. I knew it was just a moment, just here and now that we had this connection, but that was enough. Kali herself says to me “I love you in this moment, here and now” so we seem to be in agreement.
Eventually Kali is tired and I walk her back to camp to go to bed. There is an unspoken awareness between us, neither of us is interested in sex at this stage. We have shared enough energy, anything else would not feel right and natural. We part ways and I head back into the night, still very high and not going to sleep anytime soon! I meet and talk with several random people, feeling very social but not wanting to dance much by now.
Just before 5 AM I head down to the beach area as Bass Nectar is scheduled to play a down tempo set there. The sun isn’t up yet but a little bit of light is beginning to creep into the sky. By now the second dose of MDMA is wearing away, but the mescaline is still running strong. Every light I look at has developed beautiful patterns around it, spreading outwards softly and gently into the dark. I feel very earthy, very grounded out. There is a deep richness and intensity to peruvian torch, this sensation of the life force in everything. I can see everyone’s aura’s glowing around them. Many people shine with shades of blue, or green, or mixed blue and green. Others are oranges, reds, yellows. A few people have gray or black shadows over them, sinister, dark and disconnected. These individuals I intuit as being on speed or coke, these drugs seem to dim their life glow.
The feeling of the mescaline and the MDMA have been flowing together so smoothly and seemlessly all night that it’s really quite difficult to tell which is which. These two substances are meant to go together, they complement each other’s effects perfectly. The mescaline adds an intense meaningfulness and depth to the MDMA experience, which on its own can seem a bit shallow and short lived. The mescaline cradles you gently back after coming off the MDMA, no hard crashes, just a long slow drop off over hours and hours. I feel spiritually cleansed, awakened, renewed.
Bass Nectar starts his set and immediately blows out the speaker system with too much bass. Takes a few moments to fix this up and then he’s off again. I am looking around trying to find my friends, we had said we would all meet up at Bass Nectar, but to no avail. Everybody seems to be down on the beach right now, it is packed, I run into a few other acquaintances but no one from my camp. The beginning of Bass Nectar’s set I didn’t like that much, but luckily I stuck around for awhile and the music got better and better as time went on. Everyone is just waiting for the sun to peak over the ridge. The air is chill enough to see your breathe. Waves of love and connection between myself and the earth I am dancing on remind me of the Peruvian Torch and its lingering presence.
Now the sun just lifts its edge up, a wave of warmth and light hit the dancers, Bass Nectar steps the intensity of the music up a notch, playing the crowd well. I wait till his set is over, then go over to the food court area, getting some blueberries to eat for the antioxidants, and a green yerba mate to wake up. Walking back towards camp I run into Star and Elaine who are still up and awake, although everyone else seems to have passed out. Back at camp we eat some granola bars, smoke some pot, share our trips of the night that has just passed. We all agree that the peruvian torch added a very special touch to the night, that MDMA on its own is not the same. A truly divine state of consciousness.
Some retrospective commentary:
I would recommend taking the cactus, waiting an hour or two until you can feel it kicking in, then take the MDMA. I think it’s best to take a low to moderate dose of cactus and a moderate to high dose of MDMA for the best experience. I don’t want to take so much cactus that I end up vomitting all over the place and are unable to walk around during the peak, for instance. Both my experiences involved about 15 grams of cactus getting into my body, in future I might up this somewhat but probably would not go over 30 grams. In my first experience I think the dose of MDMA (100-120 mg) was too low, in the second it was probably too high (total 452 mg), and the redosing strategy was not very effective.
Ideal timing and dosages for this combination might be:
Peruvian torch 20-25 grams ingested slowly from T + 0:00 to T + 0:30 (reduces nausea)
MDMA 150 milligrams @ T + 2:00 (or whenever you can feel the cactus but aren’t too nauseous) plus a 50 milligram supplement around an hour an a half later to extend the plateau.
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