Citation: Diogenes. "Arrested, then Ostracized: An Experience with Mushrooms, LSD & Cannabis (exp81498)". Erowid.org. May 5, 2010. erowid.org/exp/81498
My narrative involves two separate locales, within a couple of months of each other. My overall negative mindset was transferred between the two incidents. My previous experiences with entheogens had been mostly positive, or at least not explosively bad. These two bad trips were, incidentally, experienced while I was in massive crowds of strangers.
Both trips were a “Plus Three” on the “Shulgin Scale”: I was unavoidably arrested by the psychological effects, and could not escape into “normal” cognitive egotism. The negative effects I experienced were probably due to my overall state of mind, which is sometimes asocial and vulnerable to a lack of self-confidence. Also, within a recent time of the events, I had been paying much attention to the horrors of society and the toll taken by excess self-preservation, materialism, mass political/military murder, and martyrdom by dissidence. These intellectual themes could have caused a subconscious fear of the “authorities” (police, governments). In the end, I believe, these incidents actually helped me by exposing parts of my psyche that needed improvement and allowing me to approach a more mature outlook on life, although, in the process, I lost friends and alienated myself to some within my social circle.
Incident 1: “Don’t Ever Lose Your Co-Pilot”
Outdoor music festival in a city park
Mushroom chocolate (1 cough syrup cup)
The previous night, my friend / “co-pilot” and I had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had not slept, as we had stayed up all night rambling aimlessly downtown, eating ketamine, dancing in clubs, and talking with pleasure. I had no idea of the following day’s consequences, which would sneak up like a tidal wave on my psyche.
We ingested the mushroom chocolate around midday, in a state of one night’s sleep deprivation. We then proceeded to the music festival, which is held at a city park, surrounded by chain-link fence. The inner, grass-covered area is surrounded by a horse race track, which is separated from the grass with a second chain-link fence. I will explain the fence’s significance shortly. The entire festival was thoroughly crowded with people of all ages, both standing and sitting on blankets. I was immediately uncomfortable with the lack of self-expression involved in the proceedings of the festival. I must have been expecting something a little less “family-friendly,” although I was warned earlier, by an older adult, of this atmosphere. I was surrounded by people who were seemingly unprepared for “mysticism,” surrounded by helicopters above, and police outside the gates. Metal barricades marked with police signs guided the massive, cattle-like crowd to its destinations: portable toilets, various stages in front of which to stand or sit motionless, or outside of the festival gates. This was not my idea of an ideal time to “let it all hang out”. But, as I am sometimes known to do, I threw all rules aside in order to let the burning meteor of life take its course.
I was unprepared for the entheogenic properties of the mushrooms. I began to feel paranoid; I was not getting a good “vibe” from the crowd. They seemed outwardly calm, but something was amiss. A strange tension was in the air, and I began to get claustrophobic. The park seemed overly crowded. The first stage show ended, and my friend and I followed the crowd, to where, I wasn’t sure. I threw away my festival map. This huge, slow moving mass of somewhat somber people bothered me; “Shouldn’t we be dancing and smiling, greeting each other as fellow souls on a quest for everlasting peace?” I thought, probably naively. My friend went to the bathroom, and I wandered away from him, lost in the crowd. I began to feel depressed. Was this what people think of as fun? We seemed like cattle being led to the slaughter.
I tried to talk to strangers in a kind manner, but they only looked at me strangely, thinking, “Why are you trying to start a conversation with me?” I saw some beautiful young women trying to cross a mud puddle, and I thought about throwing my shirt over the mud for them to walk over. I noticed there were children present; my shirt was decorated with a nude woman, so I threw it in a trashcan. Around this time, my state of melancholy hit me as a devastating fear, ballooned to massive proportions fueled by the mushrooms. I had naively expected paradise, but was greeted with harsh, muddy, police-barricaded reality. I suddenly felt like a martyr, for whose public murder the music festival had been devised! I thought that I was “supposed” to remove my shoes and clothes, drop to my knees, and signal the time for me to die a gruesome death at the hands of the crowd.
I must stop here to clarify: I do not know how this horrible mindset descended on me so quickly. There must have been psychotic tendencies in wait that I had no idea existed. My confusion caused my newly reiterated fears of societal imperfection to turn inward, and mingle with my deepest insecurities, as I had not been hardened to the experience of tripping in a huge crowd.
At least I kept my pants and shoes on. Within fifteen minutes or so of the mushrooms taking effect, I had thrown away my festival map and schedule, ticket, and shirt, left my companion. Within minutes, I became overly self-conscious and fearful that the societal mass would bring my ridiculous self onstage for a public execution. This insane thought was not helped by the excess of police, helicopters, brightly-colored “no entry” signs, hand rails, barricades, and fences. I began to wander aimlessly, in a looping fashion, at the edge of the park’s surrounding fence, with the other cattle-like patrons. I wanted to go “home,” but I had no idea how to get there.
I began to form a mental dichotomy: those who continued to celebrate the stages became the “love crowd,” who would be soon executed with a large bomb by the evil authorities, and those who I mimicked, more somber people who shuffled towards the exit and complained of their experience, would be ushered onto a train bound for a concentration camp. Obviously, my rebellious mind had been paying too much attention in history class. I did not feel worthy of staying with the “love crowd.” I called my co-pilot / friend on my cell-phone, got no answer, and in the fear of death, called my father, also with no answer. Lesson one: “Don’t ever lose your co-pilot.” Someone had told me this long ago, but I hadn’t realized what it meant.
I decided that my fate lay on the concentration camp train. I resigned myself to a likely death. At the park gate, I passed an older gate-keeper woman. It was then that I decided, in my insecurely looping train of thought, to turn around and re-enter the inner fence of the festival. I had not yet fully exited the park, but upon my turning around to re-enter the inner fence, the woman said something to the effect of, “You can’t go back in, sir.” This obviously seemed ridiculous, so I jumped the fence, and in my mental state, half expected to be able to fly over it, as if in a dream. I let myself go and ran, yelling and jumping over a couple of police barricades and almost toppling over some unprepared children. Someone uttered, “That’s why there are human limitations.”
This is when I realized that I truly had to leave. I was beginning to act out in a childish fashion, as my fear was still escalating. I hope you can see the trap I had set for myself: have fun or die. But I was too scared of death to have fun! So I exited the same way as before, and when I passed by the gate-keeper, I sat down in her chair in order to make another phone call. She summoned a police officer, and the best explanation I could come up with was that I was lost and was unable to reach anyone on the phone. I am still confused as to why exactly I was arrested. Apparently, I appeared so confused that I was almost immediately handcuffed. Disturbing.
At this point, I thought I had to come up with an act, so I told the officer that I was drunk, and that I would “swear on the Bible in court.” He looked at me like I was insane, which I pretty much was. I was obviously not drunk, as my senses were cruelly keen. He put me in the police car. My hallucination of a government plot to blow up the crowd continued, and I decided that my place was to die with the rest, who were inside the festival. I tried pulling one of my hands out of the handcuffs, uncaring as to whether I ripped off my own thumb. Thankfully, the police officer was watching from outside the window, and yelled at me to stop. He told another officer, “He’s on PCP or something.” It was then that I accepted my arrest; I couldn’t escape now.
Strangely, I felt somehow safer from myself now that I was under arrest. I began to sober up. I was transferred to another car, with two different officers. I told them that I was a misled youth who needed to go home and get his act together. By this time, I was truly sorry for acting like a fool, and I regretted wasting these people’s time and energy on a confused kid like myself. I thanked them for what they had done. At one point, I actually entertained the notion that they might let me go free. However, they brought me to jail. I was charged with “trespassing” (even though I had bought a ticket) and “public drunkenness,” released free of bail, and the charges were later dropped because of a “get out of jail free pass” for everyone arrested at the festival. I must not have been the only “drunk” there.
Incident 2: “That’s It For The Other One”
State fair-style music festival, larger (200,000 people)
Mushroom chocolate (1 cough syrup cup), a few bowls of marijuana (smoked)
later, at peak: 2 pot brownies, 1/4 oz. marijuana (eaten), some blotter acid
This time, the music festival setting was four days long, and involved camping. I arrived with the same friend and another, and we met up with six people who I was not acquainted with. If something went wrong this time, I would have to deal with the consequences for a few days with no escape. I was still in an overall negative mindset (wary of the “authorities”), so I decided to try not to ingest entheogens during the festival. However, I ended up tripping anyway; it was just unbelievably easy to get drugs there: multiple people would walk by our campsite and ask if we wanted to buy anything. This bad trip experience shook me to the core. I am still debating whether I should ever eat mushrooms again unless I am alone and at home.
Again, I thought that I could stay sober for the duration of the four-day festival. This hope proved futile on the first night, when we were offered enough drugs in one day to make us all feel like rock stars. This was a bacchanal too good to pass up, so I ate some mushroom chocolate and went to a Grateful Dead cover band show. It was amazing, and I contained myself with an ecstatic and awed mind. Eventually, my companions moved forward in the crowd, and I stayed in place. I began to remember the fact that I had wanted to stay centered and not get in trouble, so I decided to take the “safe” route and go back to my tent.
This was a worse idea than I expected. It became very difficult to find my tent, in the dark, among the other tents that housed 200,000 other partiers. I ended up asking for directions from an official looking person, while very close to my tent, and then stumbling around to finally find it. I am not sure if I stood out as a strange fool to the festival employees and nearby police, but that is likely, as everyone else was attending the music performance. But I found my tent and sat down to relax.
Eventually, my camp-mates returned. I felt strange for leaving the performance so early in the evening without telling my companions, and I needlessly tried to keep the outward appearance of being at ease. I didn’t really know these people well, and I didn’t want them to think me strange, so I blurted out an excuse that I was “tired.” This was another bad choice. Obviously, after eating mushrooms, there is no way I could have become sleepy. I tried to keep up with my camp-mates’ conversation, but I felt somehow estranged. One of them said something sadly insulting, directed at me: that I thought of them as “just another autonomous being” or something to that effect. Suddenly I felt despised by the group. I was almost incredulous, almost speechless. I had always thought I was fundamentally a good person. Now someone put forth the proposition that I was uncaring and empty-headed. I felt like I was a young child again, among uncaring others, and I gave in to an instant sadness, rather than defend myself. I entertained the thought that they were right. I wanted peace, not conflict. My heart fell out from under me.
My memory is hazy at this point of the night. I am not sure if it is selective amnesia, hallucination, if the peak simply took over my body and I was incapable of any logical thought, or if I remember everything perfectly and merely want to believe that I imagined parts of my experience. I will probably never know. But I know that I had forgotten what it feels like to be fearful and alone, among those who dislike you, as open and raw as a young child, wanting the world to be kind and seeing it as an unforgiving executioner. If you, reader, did not know already, when you make cutting remarks to a sensitive mind on mushrooms, it can be devestating. Perhaps that was the intention. I was the “other one” who had to “die.” Why leave someone dead in the grass? Why not lift them up like a newborn and bathe in the glory of the kinship of our collective consciousness? Perhaps I did it to myself, as well. Reality is a two-way mirror.
The other camp-mates verbally scrutinized my now depressed and confused behavior, saying things like, “Who would want to sit slumped over like that?” One of the kids was berating and insulting me, and I couldn’t really keep up with what he was saying. I was unable to speak coherently, from what I remember, and I could not walk or move very easily. I kept sipping water, mostly so I didn’t have to talk. The others continued to scrutinize me, and I took to laughing softly. But I laughed in pain. I didn’t know that was possible. I “lost it,” so to speak. I couldn’t speak, only laugh. This must have seemed strange to those who I felt now despised me.
Then, I heard an amplified voice from a distance, saying something like, “We will search!” The cavalry had arrived to find the drugs! Great timing. I was almost too paralyzed with fear to get up from my chair and go to my tent, but I eventually managed, and ate the rest of my purchases: 2 pot brownies, 1/4 oz. of marijuana, and some blotter acid. What a waste. And now, the fear was unbelievably intense. I stayed in my tent, hiding. I thought I heard a couple of people walk up to my group and ask if they had seen “someone with a [something about Jim Morrison] walk and a shit-eating grin,” talking about me. Had I brought the police to my camp by merely asking directions? I had probably looked foolish, but that seemed hours ago. I thought about being arrested again, and that this time, I’d spend a long time in jail; no “get out of jail free card.”
Eventually, when it seemed safe, I ventured out of my tent to see my camp-mates still sitting in their chairs. Then things got really strange. I saw a light in the sky. I had an impression that it was some sort of flying machine that contained a camera, pointed at me. There was also an amplified heart monitor beeping sound (like in a hospital). As I looked up at the light, the heart monitor beeped regularly, the sound of life beating, and I tried to smile for the camera. My smile faded, and the heart monitor changed to a continuous tone, like a dead heart. It seemed to go on a bit too long to be funny. I turned to my friend, who said something like, “They went too long with that.” Did I imagine all of this, or was it a huge practical joke to get a “rise” out of me? Is it even possible to hallucinate these sorts of things?
I must have disappointed the viewing audience. Eventually I became exhausted, tired of feeling hated for my depressed state, and someone said, “You can go to sleep now.” Yes, the same camp-mate who had originally derided me was now giving me permission to go to sleep. This I didn’t imagine, and it now seems utterly ridiculous. Somehow, I was able to get a light sleep around sunrise.
The next day, I didn’t want to wake up, but did, and was too afraid to mention the previous night, or even ask if it was real. For the remaining three days of the festival, I took to not talking very much, and felt abandoned by my companions. My silent, somber appearance didn’t help the matter. At one point, someone told me that I “don’t talk much,” and I responded, “Not always. I just don’t feel like it right now.” Then someone else said, “He’s evil.” After this, I basically gave up on trying to speak. I felt like an unwanted orphan.
I managed to enjoy myself and eat more acid on the next two nights, although the second night I was left behind with one camp-mate, who may have merely felt pity for me, and the third night I was alone. By the fourth day, I was ready to leave and was tired of being nice to the people who obviously, and somewhat childishly, hated me.
On the second night, in the midst of an out-of-place good trip, I saw, lying on the festival grounds, what looked like a large, functional, metal flying machine! This was absolutely real. At the top was an orb, like an eye with closed lids. The body had what looked like steering fan intakes. I stopped for a moment and laughed.
The following day, I noticed that the folks in the camp next to ours had walkie-talkies that made their voices sound exactly like the ones I had heard saying “We will search,” the voices I had thought were police. I still don’t know exactly what happened that night...
The people mentioned in these narratives, I felt, had “disowned” me for my weakness. I ceased communication with my friend / co-pilot, partly as what I interpreted as his desire, and partly not to bother him and his friends who I felt had suddenly and fickly come to despise me. I do not have ill will to them though, and wish them the best.
In conclusion, I feel that these were experiences that opened me to my own weaknesses and imperfections, not merely the cruelty of the world. After these fearful experiences, I realize that I have good intentions, and I am not a bad person. In order to function in the sight of everyone, we wear a mask, and I had attempted to remove mine. I wasn’t strong enough; I still needed to cling to some form of my ego construct in order to appear “sane” to the “authorities.” If only it were a perfect world, we could all exist as what we could be: perfect, creative children, brothers and sisters in an atmosphere of love and altruism for all mankind. But evil and the desire for power exists, and ruins it for everyone. So I will concede and recede, reevaluate myself in order to help others and be discerning with my sensitivity. When I ingest entheogens / hallucinogens again, it will be in a much less public setting.
Conversely, I had created the bad trips: it is not entirely what we experience that forms life’s narrative, but how we react to what we experience.
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