Citation: HurghtAttack. "Spiral In, Out & Back Again: An Experience with LSD & Cannabis (exp93133)". Erowid.org. Jul 8, 2017. erowid.org/exp/93133
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The end of Summer has always been a tough time for me, but this year especially so. My girlfriend had moved away, I was falling behind at work, smoking weed every day, and I wasn’t applying myself in any aspect of my life. I was slowly becoming completely numb to emotions. I’d stop talking to people, including my friends and family, stay up all night, and put off indefinitely any plans to help myself get back on my career track. I couldn’t focus on anything, and my bad habits were getting worse. It came as a huge surprise when I got a text from a good friend M saying she’d acquired some LSD for her birthday and wanted to take it the following weekend.
I’d always bought into rumors about LSD; that it would make me think I could fly or that I’d crack my back years down the road and suddenly be tripping again. I thought of it as an unsafe substance, and was very hesitant to reply to M’s invite. I’d been smoking marijuana for the better part of 5 years at that point, but the only other illegal substance I’d ever taken was about a gram of magic mushrooms a few years previously, which hadn’t been so much of a “trip” as a “pleasant, long lasting buzz”. Still, I was intrigued, and spent a good amount of time researching the effects of LSD and the potential dangers of its use. I was amazed to find how benign it seemed, and every positive trip log I read bolstered my confidence. I decided that it was worth a try, if only for the psychotherapeutic nature of the drug, and that it might be a fun weekend activity.
It was a cloudy October morning when M and I decided to embark on our journey to Wonderland. She’d gone through each room of her house and written notes such as “Think happy thoughts!” and “Bon Voyage!” and on the second floor she’d set up a “trip room” complete with a plasma orb, candles, and a surround sound system. We drove to a local diner and had a big breakfast over discussions about what we wanted out of our trip. We decided we would use it for self exploration and meditation, and that we were determined to bring something back from the experience and not just get fucked up. When we got back to her place she performed a banishing ritual to cleanse the room of negative energy, and we each put a single tab on our tongues (we had been warned it was high potency).
I was quite excited, as I never thought acid was something I’d try, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. After about half an hour, we weren’t feeling anything, so we shared a bowl of marijuana and put on a standup special featuring comedian Bill Hicks (incredibly relevant). At about T+1.5 hours, we still weren’t feeling anything unusual, so we split another tab and began drawing pictures with colored pencils and markers. It wasn’t long after this that we realized we couldn’t stop smiling. I wrote out the word “ENJOY” and my drawing was getting quite colorful and abstract. M was reciting beautiful quotes by Terence McKenna and drew an image of the winged serpent Hadit around which she jotted down passages from Thelema’s Book of the Law. I’d never had so much fun coloring before, and I was overcome with feelings of joy and well being.
I put on a pair of amber-tinted sunglasses, and noticed that the colors of the room were growing extremely vivid. We saw the walls meeting at strange angles and pictures on the walls all looked skewed and trapezoidal. We looked down at our hands and our flesh seemed to be pulsating and transparent. I felt I could actually see the dark streams of blood flowing through my veins, and my skin was ultra high-definition. I can only imagine what Albert Hoffman (the first scientist to synthesize and accidentally ingest Lysergic acid diethylamide) must have thought of this! We put down the coloring supplies for a minute and went upstairs, because M wanted to change her shirt. I was very happy with my comfortable clothing while on acid. Loose fitting pants, no shoes, and a soft shirt all enhanced the experience.
It was about 3 hours since we’d taken the initial dose, and we could tell we were starting to peak. We left M’s room and headed for the “trip room”, but collapsed with laughter in the hallway and just stared at the walls and ceiling for what seemed like an eternity. The irony that we were lying in a hallway just feet from the “trip room” hadn’t escaped us, but we couldn’t have cared less. We were literally crying with laughter over the simplest things, and I was overcome with a euphoria I’ve never felt from taking a substance, many times more powerful than the low dose of shrooms. We eventually perched ourselves halfway down the staircase, and began a profound discussion about how all matter on earth had once been released from a massive supernova, and that everything we’d ever seen was made of stardust. Though I felt I’d always understood this concept, my altered state of consciousness made it much easier to comprehend, and I couldn’t help feeling a deep oneness with all the world and its inhabitants. I wondered if each star in the Universe held an incredible hyper-conscience and that when they explode, each individual particle retains some of that knowledge and expression, only to coagulate elsewhere as life.
By this time the weather had cleared up and the sun was shining, so we went outside to sit on M’s back deck. I cannot express enough how wondrous and exciting nature seems on LSD. A gentle wind through the grass or trees will make them seem as though they’re breathing, and even something as simple as an insect landing on my arm was fascinating. In light of our previous conversation, I was reminded of my favorite Douglas Adams quote, “Consciousness is the Universe’s way of appreciating itself,” and this rang truer than ever in my mind. We were about 4 hours into our trip now and the sun was beginning to set, creating glorious golden outlines on the few wisps of clouds floating overhead. They would undulate and change direction like someone was painting them in real time, and both M and I were deeply moved by the atmosphere’s shining splendor.
Our discussion moved to the nature of energy, and how every living thing on the surface of this enormous churning engine we call Mother Earth is fueled by energy from the Sun. We were reminded of a quote from the Bill Hicks special we’d watched earlier, “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is really energy condensed to a slow vibration; that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re just imaginations of ourselves.” Every word of this quote made utter and complete sense to me at this point, and it was as though I could see the energy permeating everything around me. Everything from M’s old dog to the neighbors’ backyard barbecue to the squirrels and the trees they lived in seemed like fountains of energy erupting from the surface of the dense mass that is our world. A warm and exceedingly friendly glow enveloped everything and everyone. This was the highlight of my trip, and I remember it vividly.
At T+5 hours we came back inside, smoked some more cannabis, and continued our drawings. We put on music by The Books and other upbeat, happy songs from M’s collection. We each felt like we were 5 years old again, drawing abstract shapes and colorful patterns and letting the pencil flow across the paper wherever it wanted. I was amazed at how easily I could manifest the images in my head, and how seemingly random lines would form new elements to the drawing. I began to draw a mountain and realized it looked more like the outline of a sleeping panther. When M saw this she laughed out loud, and continued drawing brilliant patterns that filled page after page. We made hot chocolate and decided to have a period of quiet self reflection before finding a new activity. This may have been a mistake, as we didn’t have much to distract ourselves from our own thoughts.
We put on the album 'Lateralus' by Tool (one of my personal favorites), and upon hearing the title track our conversation turned to the nature of spirals and fractals. How so many things in nature from waves to snowflakes and even plant life form according to the golden ratio, and how the more you zoom in microscopically or zoom out macroscopically, you’ll discover repeating shapes and patterns, each piece resembling the whole. In fact, even in my picture spirals began to appear all over the place, whether I meant to draw them or not, and I could tell our set and setting was having a strong influence on my thoughts.
At one point, probably around T+6 hours, M disappeared into the bathroom for a very long time. When she finally came out her entire demeanor had changed. Her eyes were darkened and she looked like she’d been through hell. I asked her what was wrong, and all she could say was “the mirror, man, don’t look into the mirror unless you really have to. I’m serious.” Of course, I had to see what was so special about the mirror, and I was not prepared for what I saw. My face looked aged and pockmarked, I couldn’t find an angle in which I looked like my mental image of myself. It was like looking into the eyes of a stranger who bears only a fleeting resemblance to how I’d always seen me. Furthermore I was completely two-faced. One side of my face seemed to smirk involuntarily, giving my countenance disturbingly asymmetrical features. I was profoundly disturbed by this, and when I emerged from the bathroom M confirmed that she’d witnessed the same thing. We tried to ignore this and continue our drawings but the song “Ticks and Leeches” (the darkest, heaviest song on the album) came on. We’d each heard the song a million times and were mesmerized by drummer Danny Carey’s polyrhythmic assault that intros the song, but at this time the sun had almost fully set and the room was quite dark. The whole atmosphere seemed bleak and evil.
We turned the lights up a bit though not all the way, and though we stopped the song midway through we couldn’t find a new song fast enough. At this point we realized the trip was about to take a turn for the worse. I became silent and introspective as I sat on the floor contemplating mortality, while M wandered into the kitchen where I would later learn she became inundated with every tragic and terrible experience she’d ever had in that house. I suddenly found myself unable to communicate even my most simple thoughts. This inability to form sentences frustrated me greatly, and as my thoughts began to race I realized I was trying to tell M that I’d discovered the reason for living, but that it was impossible to describe. I was so close though, and I tried to draw the mental image I had of this grand puzzle that I’d just solved, but I was stopped at every turn by circular logic, and though I was pouring emotions out onto the page I could only get out one word at a time or scrawl a few random circles. Soon I realized that I must sound and look completely insane, so I laughed and crumpled up the page, which made me feel even more insane. I tried to collect my thoughts and repeat out loud the infinite loop that was swirling around in my head, but all that came out were bits and pieces of coherent language with no link in between. I tried again, and realized to my horror that I was saying exactly the same words as before, still devoid of meaning to an audience. M seemed to understand what I was getting at, and this only encouraged me to try again, but again I unintentionally repeated the same disjointed phrases. I was overcome with frustration at this point, and decided that if I burned this crumpled page of notes, it might end my muddled thought process. I grabbed the page and a lighter and went into the kitchen, burning it over the sink and blowing the smoke out the open window. It didn’t help…
Every minute became a day from the Bill Murray film “Groundhog’s Day.” The same thought process would repeat in my head, I would say the same confounding bits of dialogue about how I had realized the meaning of life but could not express it in words, and each time I would utter the word “recursion” the entire process would repeat. However, unlike in that movie, the time between recursions was getting shorter and shorter, and I felt that I was spiraling down into my own head. It was T+6.5 hours now and we were up in the “trip room” with all the lights out, just losing our grip on reality. I tried to write again, but the only word I could write was “Madness” as I realized I must really be going nuts. All of my thoughts were now stuck in an infinite loop that was tightening with each revolution. I began to recall a forum post about some guy who knew someone who tripped so bad he never came down. This thought was trying to overcome all others, insisting that my life was over. I was somehow able to maintain control of my actions despite the chaos going on in my head, and I gestured to M to put on a happy song or cartoon to distract us. She put on “The Angry Beavers,” the theme song of which is so wacky that I laughed out loud at how perfectly it fit with the insanity in my head. I could not have picked a better soundtrack to my own mental demise, and I just lay there on the floor laughing as I experienced complete ego death.
I was no longer myself or anyone I knew. I had completely frozen in time, and all I could think of was that I had become nothing more than a malfunctioning collection of biochemical processes incapable of self-identity. In other words, the lights were on but no one was home. M called her experienced friend, L from whom she’d acquired the acid, and he did his best to comfort us. He agreed with every ridiculous phrase I managed to mutter to myself, and kept reassuring us that he knew what we were going through. This reassurance did nothing more than convince me that acid was some big joke being played on humanity. As if my life to this point had all been a divine test and I’d failed by putting a tiny piece of paper in my mouth. I was completely solipsistic by now, nothing existed outside the turmoil I was experiencing. I was entirely convinced that I could just as likely be babbling to myself in a straight jacket as sitting upstairs in my friend M’s house tripping balls on LSD.
I sent wild texts to another friend of mine, begging him to reassure me that time was still passing and that it would all be over soon. His immediate reassurance that I would come down and his attempts to distract me with humor, coupled with the helpful advice of the sober L’s disembodied voice over M’s speakerphone finally put the spark back in my eyes. Eventually, each new recursion brought small waves of understanding and reassurance that I was still in control, and I slowly built back up my sense of self, brick by brick. L explained to us that acid has the tendency to take any emotion you’re experiencing and turn it up to 11. I tried my best to ignore the ideas that had gotten me into this mess in the first place, I took deep breathes and assured myself that everything was going to get better and that I’d be ok. We went back downstairs, turned on all the lights, and I explained to M what had happened over and over again, each time able to recount a bit more of my thought process and subsequently feeling that much better. We took turns recalling our bad trips and what we each suspected to be potential catalysts. We decided it was a combination of the darkness, the angry music, and the gravity with which M had described her initial mirror experience. As if I knew what I was doing I walked back to the bathroom mirror to have another look and try to reverse the process that had all started just an hour before. As I approached I saw myself from a third person perspective and it felt as though I were walking backward through knee-deep water. This time I smiled from ear to ear in the mirror and was relieved to see my old humble reflection. I urged M to do the same.
After about 15 minutes or so, we thanked our respective trip sitters, and gave each other a huge hug having just survived the dark depths of our minds. We noticed that our drawings had gotten jagged and malevolent just before this heinous mood shift, and all the black colored pencils were worn down to nubs. I was still irked by the sense that time wasn’t passing, and that my thoughts would continue to spiral around and repeat themselves forever, but turning on the TV really brought me back to reality. Something as mundane and familiar as car insurance commercials were now revealing to me that we were still in the same world and that time was still passing as it should. I suddenly remembered why I love TV in the first place, it’s an excellent distraction from reality. I was now content again to finish my drawing, which at this point had become an epic chronicle of my entire trip.
We smoked some more weed, watched movies, and listened to some more light music until 3 in the morning before deciding to turn in. It had been nearly a 12 hour trip in total, and we were both mentally and physically spent. I felt as though my brain had just run a marathon, and my legs were getting numb. I slept like a rock. The next morning before going out to lunch (we hadn’t eaten since breakfast the morning before save some popcorn) we looked at the artwork from our trip. My word “ENJOY” had become “ENJOY THE RIDE,” which I think perfectly describes the mindset one should be in to get the most out of their acid trip. Do not try to control or suppress the drug, or it will break loose and run wild through your mind. Do not underestimate the drug, as it will show you just what it’s capable of. Simply let it take you where it takes you and try to stay positive, stay in the company of friends, light, and mellow music, and don’t focus on having a bad trip or else you may bring one upon yourself. If you do have a bad trip, change your environment, take deep breathes, and try to find a way to anchor yourself to the real world be it through a distraction such as a movie or TV show, or through a friend who can talk you out of your own circular logic cycles. Start a timer if you have one on hand or on your phone to assure yourself that time is passing linearly.
Overall it was a remarkable journey through my brain. I would equate my experience to visiting Six Flags and riding all the rollercoasters. They all have their ups and downs and they’re each intense and exhilarating, but even though the last one makes you throw up your lunch you can still look back on your day and realize it was worth it.
It is interesting to note that the drug seems to have done wonders for my psyche. T+3 days and I no longer feel depressed or hopeless, I’ve gotten more work done per day than I previously had in a week, and I don’t crave marijuana the way I used to. I’m able to focus and speak my mind, and other than a little cognitive weariness the following day, I experienced not a single ill effect from the trip. LSD is indeed an incredible and powerful drug, and I will surely be using it again. However, for me it seems to have the tendency to “pull back the curtain” and shove reality in my face whether I wanted it or not, and any problems I may have suppressed were right there waiting for me. For now though, I have no regrets and a newfound respect for what I consider both potent medicine and a damn good time.
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