Devices - Mind Machine, Nutmeg, Salvia divinorum (10x extract), LSD & Nitrous Oxide
Citation: T. Brown. "Into the Ganzfeld: An Experience with Devices - Mind Machine, Nutmeg, Salvia divinorum (10x extract), LSD & Nitrous Oxide (exp70438)". Erowid.org. Jul 8, 2008. erowid.org/exp/70438
About 3 weeks ago (this was edited again 6 weeks after the event) I set aside a weekend night to be devoted to some experimentation with a combination of LSD, nutmeg, nitrous oxide, and my newly arrived salvia divinorum 10x extract I was eagerly waiting to break into. (I did not originally intend to use the Ganzfeld sensory deprivation set up I had previously assembled for use with DXM, although it ended up playing perhaps the most important role in the course of my night.) The nitrous and salvia were the most important to my main mission of the night, which was to be an attempt at total ego annihilation and body disassociation. This was to be obtained through a “loosening” of my hold on the world with nutmeg and LSD, and then brought on fully through an intake of both salvia extract and nitrous oxide in quick succession. I had previously experienced ego loss in varying degrees on a variety of substances, and body disassociation as well (most often with DXM), but had yet to ever find myself in a fully dissociative state, completely unaware of the existence of my body, or in a state of ego loss so profound that my fundamental concept of the “I” was ever truly obliterated the way I had read about in many experiences with smoked DMT and Salvia.
The nutmeg I had decided on due to being unable to procure any decent cannabis, and because the low quality cannabis that was available was extremely overpriced. Since nutmeg has always given me a high very similar to low quality marijuana I decided it would be a decent substitute for my purposes. I took the nutmeg, 3 heaping spoonfuls, at around 6 PM. Within an hour I began to notice some increased visual snow, phosphene like apparitions, in my field of vision, but little else. At about 9 PM after coming back from the gym I took my tab of acid and took a shower, getting giddy as I eagerly awaited the come on of the LSD and nutmeg effects.
I spent the next few hours coming up into a very pleasant if mellow trip. I listened to music, jammed on the guitar a bit, did some charcoal sketches and drew a big psychedelic mural on a cardboard board I had lying around with markers.
Around 1 AM I decided it was time for the main course of the night, which was to come in the form about a 10th of the gram of 10x salvia extract followed immediately by a hit of nitrous oxide from one of the whipped cream cans I had ready in my refrigerator. As I began to get everything set up for my big trip I started to feel a good deal of anxiety build up. My brain recoiled in fear of the ride it was about to go on. I put some low-key music on, Bob Marley I think, and dimmed the lights, in an attempt to get myself properly relaxed before I took the plunge. I took the salvia via vaporizer, heating it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I laid myself out on some couch cushions on my floor with the vape next to me, unwrapped the can of whipped cream, and waited for a minute or two, taking deep breaths to relax myself, to get ready before the plunge.
I affixed the vaporizer tube to the vape, took four large hits, which I held for a count of 30 seconds each. With each inhalation I felt myself, my perceiving being, pushed farther and farther from things I had always closely associated with concepts of self, and began losing consciousness of, and sense of control of, my physical body. I was being pushed away from my memories and personality, my “ego” if you will, although I would say I still possessed a strong sense of a self, although a much degraded self. At this same moment a sort of “special gravity,” seemed to kick in. This is an experience common to all my strong salvia trips, I felt the strong pull of gravity on the back of my head, and more so deeply within my being, dragging my consciousness backwards into my skull with a sensation not unlike that from the plunge of a rollercoaster drop, although without any of the adrenaline or deep stomach panic feelings. Realizing I was quickly losing control of my functions I hit the off button on the vape, who’s colored lights were already strobing considerably, and lifted the whipped cream can to my mouth.
The nitrous hit took immediate prominence in my attention over the rising salvia effects. I felt like my head was a balloon being poured full of helium and rising on its string, floating to the top of the room. The sound in the room coming from my speakers began to climb in pitch and became totally unrecognizable as music, although not at all unpleasant. The music, which now manifested itself to me as a pleasant and intricate buzzing sounded as though somebody had hooked up a wah pedal to the input chord of my brain and was rocking it back in forth in steady rhythm.
My vision at this point, while I still recognized the room and objects within it fairly well, became very chaotic, with very strong green, red, yellow, and blue colored spider’s web patterns overlaying everything. The room also began to have a very pronounced spin, much like that produced by heavy alcohol intoxication, although I experienced none of the nausea common with alcohol. Body disassociation was almost complete, and while at this point my name and much personal information had long since checked out of being, a definite sense of self as a being still remained.
I could feel the nitrous effects subside as the salvia continued to build. The fuzzy headed upward floating was again replaced by the salvia special gravity sinking. Knowledge of my body returned completely, although ability or want to use it was nonexistent. As the salvia effects continued to build up the open eyed patterns became more intense, taking on more filled in geometric schemes. The erratic and nondescript spider’s web patterns took on a more mandalesque, shape based form, reminding me both of pre-Columbian Central American art and eastern Hindu and Buddhist art, although the general impression was much more of the former. Faces began to appear in the pattern. Not clear faces, because the pattern was still very much merely an overlay of material objects in the room, but the perception of faces began to manifest itself within the pattern. The overhead light at the center of my room took chief hold of my attention. It seemed to be a being in itself, or more so a half being, for I recognized it well as a simple light, but also as an entity. At the time however, this duality did not seem at all odd or contradictory to me. Although the light did not speak to me in any clear sense, I got the distinct impression from it that “I would need to try harder in the future to get what I was looking for.” Staring at the light it seemed to take on an arachnid character, with thick black leg lines growing from it and twisting around it with the spin of the room. Despite the visuals persisting in intensity, I began to feel more and more the presence and importance of my body, and the many scattered facets of my ego began to fall soundly back into place. Most importantly, the idea that this was all the effect of a drug became concrete once more, pulling me out of the aimless trance state I had been in. I realized that my goal of total ego and mind/body dissolution had not come to fruition; however I was very excited. There was, as the spider light had suggested, more I could do. The idea of the sensory deprivation Ganzfeld fell immediately into my mind.
I was almost overwhelmed with excitement to begin, but for the moment was still far too intoxicated to start setting up, so I laid back for a while closing my eyes and enjoying the intricate patterns forming on the backs of my eyelids.
The salvia effects subsided for the most part soon after, though given my already altered LSD and nutmeg induced state I would say my trip had been kicked into overdrive by the recent experience both as respects a far more noticeable “high, and fogging of the mind, as well much more prominent visuals and patterning. Setting up the Ganzfeld, especially with all its parts scattered around my apartment was, to say the least, difficult in my current state and took a good hour and a half. This making it approximately 2:30 AM, 6 and a half hours after I first took the LSD, about 5 hours since I began to feel its effects.
I had a television covered in a blanket creating white noise for my head phones, 2 lamps with low watt red bulbs in them set up over my head, and the pingpong balls with adhesive already affixed to them ready to put on over my eyes. The only downside of my set up is that the TV had a 15-20 minute auto shut off timer when it was playing static. I actually kind of liked this though because I figured it would keep me from being there all night and into the morning when my roommate might come home early and find me obviously in some sort of weird drug fueled ritual. (One thing I feel I should make clear about my personal experience with the Ganzfeld is that unlike float tanks that induce darkness like effects, it causes one to simply cease to process visual stimuli. For me this has represented itself as loss of all sense of visualization, making it quite a bit different from darkness in which I’ve found visual hallucinations actually increased. In this way it is for me more of a true deprivation then what comes from sensory deprivation tank. Meanwhile, with white noise, I find the sense of sound remains very prominent, unlike with noise canceling, making sound take of a greater role in Ganzfeld experiences then in sensory deprivation tank ones, and likewise vision becomes of much less, if any importance.)
Figuring out how to hit the vape and the whipped cream without being able to see was quite the challenge. I loaded the vape with the salvia from last time, figuring it might have some active chemical left in it that had not been vaporized and added another 8th of a gram of extract, intent on really blasting off this time. Being effectively blind did little to ease my anxiety about the coming trip, but I was so eager to really break through that I was able to spur myself on, despite images of Frankenstein type disaster floating through my mind. Vape tube in one hand, whipped cream in the other, I took in and held several hits of the salvia (I do not recall exactly the number, but I would put it between 5 and 8), experiencing the same rising cloud of confusion and removal of aspects of self as last time, along with the special gravity beginning to move me back into my skull. This time though the effects, due to taking more hits with more salvia in the vape, and the Ganzfeld, built up quite quickly. I felt I was barely able to get off the nitrous hit while still able to function. I inhaled and leaned back into the floor.
With no build up, within an instant, it was all of it, everything, like nothing I had ever experienced before-
I was falling back into my imploding skull
Back back back
And it is all eternal nothingness and I’m all gone, all but my tongue and my teeth, they are my everything- tap the teeth with the tongue- “what is that?” What is? Then the tongue and teeth disappear and there is no body, just a wisp of I, cart wheeling in the engulfing nothingness. Then nothing…
Gravity in the back of my head.
Gravity sucking in everything.
A black hole in my skull,
My vision and hearing shut down entirely and I lost all sense of my body, though I had the distinct feeling of being “something” through powerful sensation of rushing backwards I felt. The white noise faded into a cascade of unchanging sensory waterfall that became a sonic pulsing of my entire being. For an indeterminate amount of time I simply was not. Then out of it I became aware that I was, and had begun quite recently to be. As I continued to be I felt myself expand out of nothing, I began to grow. This feeling was akin to a sense of birth and then growing up and maturing in life. I felt a strange sense of removed pride in my expansion, not unlike that which comes from beating a level of a video game that hasn’t fully captured my interest. This continued for a while and I continued to grow, expanding into the nothingness. After a time my parents appeared to me in a blurred conceptual form. They were thoroughly chastising me for being so amazingly high, so altered. Although my sense of sight had shut down I saw them, as if in a dream, as large hulking cartoon bears towering over my expanding, but still small child entity.
I tried to get away from the chastisement, picking up on their suggestion that I was just “high,” and tried to look around me, hoping to reestablish contact with reality, only to be met with a featureless field of dull red infinite. I fell back into nothingness.
A whirling phantasm- an “I am, I am. I am. I, I, I. I. I.” No I. An eye simply! An eye was all that was left of “me,” pure perception, zero introspection. Internal monologue, which had ceased to exist, began again, but was degraded into single word-concepts repeated again and again as my flailing ego sought vainly to lay hold on some semblance of recognizable thought- some foothold of cognition, to reassert itself on.
Just as one experiences the tip of the tongue phenomenon, able to recognize a concept or thing but not the words for it, so was I able to vaguely guess a word and concept but unable to lay firm hold to either. The words, experienced as both as concept assertions and audible stimuli were repeated again and again to me, quickly degrading in understandability and meaning with repetition and trailing off into infinity before blending into the omniechoing static and being replaced.
I then fell into a very distinct and detailed memory of being about 6 years old and playing with my next-door neighbor and best friend in my neighbor’s basement. I was going up their stairs to go outside into the fresh summer air, totally caught up in the game of imagination we were playing. Then suddenly I fell out of the vivid memory and was bodiless again. Then another one of my oldest friends, Mike, came to me in bodiless concept form and tried to put me at ease as to what was going on, telling me to relax. Next my friend Dave appeared to me laughing hysterically and asking me “why I was so fucked up?” I could not rightly give him an answer but began to find my current state very funny as well.
I came too with the static of the TV chiming off. In a heavy fog of confusion I lifted the ping pong balls off my eyes, turned the TV back on, hit the vape again, replaced the eye covers, and fell back into total ego loss. Whether there was any active chemical left in the salvia that had been left in a vaporizer at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so, I don’t know, but lying back into the Ganzfeld was enough to blast me off yet again. The phenomena of coming vaguely back, taking a vape rip, and falling back into nothingness again happened a few times. I felt like I was coming up for much needed oxygen each time and then diving back into the deep enveloping sea of unsurpassed beauty and wonder that was total disassociation. On the last time I “dove” back into the Ganzfeld I began to feel terrified as my ego drifted away once again. I thought I would never be me again, that I was doing something incredibly dangerous, that I was dying. I had no anxiety up to this point, but now- Adrenaline- deep stomach terror, shot through my body as I opened my eyes wide and saw nothing. I tore off the ping-pong balls, gasping for air as I sat up. I quickly relaxed at seeing the world appear again and realized I had nothing to worry about. I replaced the eye coverings and drifted off again.
When the TV kicked off again I made the decision that it was time to come back to myself. It was a slow and difficult process. I felt amazingly drained and tired. I had spent almost 30-40 minutes in a state of total ego and body disassociation. I felt like an infant. I’d move my head up, look around the room, and then drop it and close my eyes trying to gather the gravity of what had just happened and reassert myself into the world. All my concepts of the world as it was, all my hard earned objective philosophy, all my Nietzsche, and Heidegger, all my things in and of themselves, all my memories and concepts of self, they were all of them blown to total shit.
I sat in complete wonderment of the fact that I had a body, of the idea of bodies and being themselves. That simple thought brought to me such exquisite joy. I sat in rapture at being again while at the same time basking in the ecstasy that had been nonbeing. It was as if both were infinitely enjoyable and I was now on to enjoy the treats of being after a good time- a measureless time- of ecstatic nonbeing. When I had the energy to stand I wavely walked around a bit as I gathered my thoughts. I got naked and began to admire my body and the wonder of having a body. My thoughts were at this point still highly frazzled and everything in the dim red light seemed to be breathing heavily. I laid back down for a time simply basking in what had just happened.
“And I came back in a body that knows how to play guitar.” This was a wonderful fucking revelation. I grabbed my electric lickty-fucking split, not caring to plug it in, and began to play away to my great joy. My fingers flashed around the fret board, great trails of bright blue streaming off them and into the dim red surroundings with each note I plucked. After a bit I walked upstairs to my room, purposely avoiding the mirror, I wanted to wait a bit to look at myself for the first time, and sat down with my acoustic on my bed and tried to reflect on just what the fuck had happened. It seemed amazing to be so absolutely separated from all things human. The utter difference of my experience from all else I had known blew my mind.
At this point I began to get extremely excited about my prospects in life. I truly felt my previous self had died, and though I grieved him, the new me had been born through his death, and he had to live. And live he would! How easy everything would be! No tiredness would hold me back, no anxiety. Everything was possible! I could go out and meet all sorts of new people daily, bring them joy and love. I could work on my guitar playing, on my art, on making those closest to me happy with three fold efforts. I could practice meditation more as I had always meant to, I could start keeping a good dream journal again and work on my lucid dreaming. And yes! I could at some point in the future use substances as tools to lose myself in the ecstasy of nonbeing once again. A shaman born! A shaman born was I, one who could choose to not be. “To be or not to be?”, was no longer the question, no longer a question at all, it had become a choice! Existentialism is everything, and as Sartre said, existentialism is humanism, but I could become unhuman. I had overcome existentialism? Overcome existence?
I almost could not wait to begin running around meeting and helping and loving people, even if it was 4:00 AM at this point. Looking in the mirror for the first time occupied a good half hour as I admired my physique and got happy about being “placed into such an adequate body.” I decided to take a shower, which felt amazing. Towards the end I switched the water to as cold as it would go and stood under it as long as possible before jumping out. At this point I may have creeped out my neighbors through our thin walls by yelling “I’m alive wooooo, I’m alive,” and wooping around the apartment.
However it wasn’t all sunshine in the hours following the experience. There were birthing pains to be had. The next hour, as I was still tripping to a large degree, unfolded into “who man I? Am I me? Who was me? I’m not him, have I killed him?” I had to stop myself from thinking a few times, pull and E brake on my thoughts, because I felt myself going right off the deep end into a total freak out. At this point I began to realize the risk of running such a heavy trip without a tripsitter. At the same time I think a tripsitter could have negatively affected the experience at many points, especially my coming out of the Ganzfeld, where in my weakened and confused state I would have been very embarrassed to have a person watching me. I’m not sure what good a trip sitter might have done at this crisis point anyhow. I probably would have rambled to them, apologizing for killing their friend, which might have driven me further over, where as being alone I was able to decide “fuck it, whatever,” with all the “I don’t give a fuck,” years of minimum wage jobs and pointless American high school had taught me so well.
I have Mondays off, and this had been a Sunday night. At around 9, as the first wave of people were taking the bus down to class. I decided to go out with them and get myself a nice fruit drink. Not that I didn’t have drinks in my refrigerator, but I felt the need to mingle with my fellow humans, to start right away meeting and sharing love with the whole human race. Dostoevsky was right, “understanding is forgiveness”, and I understood and forgave all that was human!
This turned out to be an absolutely terrible fucking idea. I had expected everyone to be as bright eyed and enthusiastic about life as me and I was met with bleary eyed, tired, and pissed off looking people on all sides. Noise was incredibly loud to me and I felt awkward for my own breathing as I sat silently on the bus. The buses movement also made me extremely motion sick, and I found myself getting off at an early stop to walk home rather than risk my LSD weakened stomach. It was being self-conscious for the first time all over again and it sucked.
The way home from the bus stop I got off by a cemetery, which I decided to walk through. My thoughts at this moment on death were odd. On the one hand I loved life intensely and never wanted to die, and yet, death, nonbeing, was infinitely better and more powerful than anything I had ever known. How were those souls beneath the ground faring? How was it not to be ever again? The morning was crisp and warm and the sun on my face felt amazing. I was still getting slight visuals and the morning sky dotted with lightly breathing clouds looked picture perfect. I walked further into the cemetery, paying respects in my mind to those who were once like me yet now no longer were, were never to be, and walked out of sight of the road and into a copse of trees. There I sat down and I cried.
I’ll end the narrative there although I had many similar, if less intense experiences over the next few hours before going to sleep and to a degree the next day. I can say that this trip definitely has affected me in what seems to be a permanent way, although not to the extent I originally thought it would. It has made me change my views on perception-based reality and the ridiculousness of objectivity in any sense. I’ve abandoned to a degree my faith in any amount of rationalism or empirical organization to make things clear to me when perception can be so radically altered. This was a mystical experience in every sense of the word, and although it instilled in me no spiritual revelation as respects organized religion or any set beliefs, it made me realize I was fool hardy in casting spirituality aside, and I now strive to embrace it and break down the protective walls I had built up around myself against spirituality that had masqueraded as “philosophy.” I realize my entire epistemological theory had been flawed. I had been totally caught up in knowing, maybe sometimes realizing, but I never “felt” truth. That night I felt the truth of being as only nonbeing could make me truly feel it. A truly philosophical lesson.
Over the next week I made efforts to tell my parents and all close to me how much I loved and appreciated them. I put myself forward in new social situations and attempted to help and love as best I could. My resolve in this faded disappointingly quick though, especially as regards branching out socially. Fatigue, which I was sure I could cast off as a regular part of life continues to be a problem and I find myself being too tired to put all my best efforts forth in most things most of the time. Still, self-improvement is a long road and I use this experience as a drawing point for motivation towards progress.
The other lingering effect of the trip is that I still feel as though I am not fully the same person I was when I left that night, although much less so then when I first came back to myself. It feels like a chapter of my life ended that night and a new one has begun. It is much like how I feel the day after a heavy DXM trip, the difference being that with DXM that sensation lasts a day or two and this has lasted 6 weeks. I haven’t used any psychedelic drugs since despite having friends trying to get me to trip with them on spring break. I feel I need to digest this last trip quite a bit before returning to anything of that sort and get me well rooted in me. I still feel a bit wispy ego wise!
Anyhow- not to be too long winded, hope you liked it.
As a post script, if this hasn't already become a bit long, I would like to comment on the philosophical implications of this experiences as regards my view of perception based reality. I had before this taken, perhaps a bit grudgingly, that reality is perception based, and ultimately subjective. I was a postmodernist, but only because I couldn’t find a way around postmodernism. I however, drew the conclusion, erroneously, that somehow because a given perception schema I've come to hold is more persistent then others, that it is more consequently more important, and more importantly, more 'real.' This was a grievous mistake in valuation, perhaps brought on by my fears of succumbing to postmodernism and loss of valuation grounding. Nevertheless, this eye opener has helped me cast this off. I don't see my experience then as fake, I don't just a total loss of body and self brought on only by drugs, that really it was just me lying on the ground with ping pong balls on my eyes tripping my brains out, rather I see a duality of reals, in which non-existence, my total non-existence, stands out as more palpable.
For a better example, I think of my first girlfriend. When I was with her I thought myself thoroughly in love. Now I hardly see that as even possible. And yet how can I challenge the reality of previous perception based on what persists just due to its persistence? What evidence is there that the persistence of perception is equal to its reality? I've adopted a quite Hegelian idea of epistemology, seeing knowledge of being as a flower, it must first be a bud before it can bloom into greater things, and must be a flower before a fruit, but all are real knowledge of being that must be cultivated. Knowledge in improved by synthesis and possesses inherit dualism between immediate and persisting perceptions.
Hegel applies the idea of the flower bud to mankind as a whole, and I think this is very suiting. How we as a race viewed the world years past is totally different from our 'real,' now with big bangs and atoms and such. It is much like my being in love before. Was I not really in love because this image has not persisted? Was spirituality, as Nietzsche thought, all mere escapism from the threat of death just because the evidence from which spiritual conclusions were drawn have not persisted? Will not our current scientific mold of reality, and our current hypo-deductive epistemology not seem ridiculous to future humans? Will it be as much a myth as dead and denied love? Will we deny the big bang ever was if we find evidence somehow to the contrary? In the great chain of history it is easy to side with the present and give yess and nos to these questions, but given the essential duality found in perception as it must apply to how we judge real, relying on persistence to understand reality it ultimately foolish.
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