Citation: Samanthe. "30 Hours Back to Baseline: An Experience with LSD & Mushrooms (exp9764)". Erowid.org. Oct 4, 2001. erowid.org/exp/9764
Background: This was my first session with a career psychedelic sitter. Twelve days before, I had participated in a group ayahuasca session
. A friend and I were attended by the sitter and her co-sitter, as if we were having solo sessions, but we were in the same room (setting: bedrolls, eyeshades, music in the style of holotropic breathwork). I anticipated this was going to be my first full-on high-dose ego-death session. Two days later, we were to participate in a group ayahuasca session. We met with our sitters for dinner the night before:
We talked a little bit about the work we would be doing the next day and then on Saturday, with Grandmother (ayahuasca). I felt, 'this is right and good,' i.e. it was going to be safe and right for me to journey the next day with these sitters. Fast forward for a moment -- in retrospect I see that comments that were said at the table became reassuring features of the following day's journey. For example, in discussing methods for self-growth, one sitter said 'look at [such-and-such experience] as something for your toolkit.' This was a metaphor that really worked for me. A toolkit represents preparation (having all your tools ready in one place), discernment (the right tool for the right job) resourcefulness and self-reliance, all things that I value. [This may seem like a detail to which I'm attributing too much importance but it's been an important metaphor for me in processing the huge volume of information I got over the next couple of days]. The sitter suggested to us that the addition of mushrooms to the LSD grounding for an otherwise more mental journey (this is how I interpreted it, at least.) We were told to not eat anything after 9 a.m. and to be where we needed to be for our session at noon.
That night, I had a frightening dream. I dreamed that I was partying with friends, in a casual setting. We were in front of a stage, but some ways away from it. In the dream, Panyin (my closest friend and co-tripper for this session, she is sometimes a companion in my dreams, too) went and did cartwheels on the stage. She was up there doing cartwheels and she fell and hit her head on a piece of machinery that was behind the curtain of the stage. She went unconscious -- the blow had been so hard that I was alarmed and had a distinct feeling that it could have been a fatal blow. I became quite concerned at what the right course of action would be -- should I call 911 immediately or should I go consult some of our medical insurance papers? (we had just received papers about a feature of our insurance that lets you call a nurse for advice over the phone). I was busy trying to decide this. And at the same time my intuition was telling me this was a dire emergency and she very well could DIE and she would be gone and that would be it. I woke up very upset. It was so disturbing that I didn't tell C when she woke up. Then I forgot about it, we ate breakfast and drove to our session. [in retrospect -- I remember had had a dream similar to this before, 7 years earlier, that deeply imprinted on me]
We get to our session. The sitters have prepared comfortable bedrolls for us on the floor and are arranging the music details. Panyin and I do some stretching. I feel very serious. We sit down to have tea with our sitters and one of them asks if we had any dreams the night before. My eyes tear up. I tell my dream, feeling anxious. The sitter tells me in a matter-of-fact tone that what will probably come up for me during my journey is the ego-death stuff, 'getting out of my head' (as in getting hit on the head and going out like in the dream). I have a sinking feeling as when faced with the inevitable.
When we are given mushrooms (2.5-3 grams) to hold in our hands and pray on for our intention, that sense of inevitability is even stronger. I am surprised at how much I am holding in my hand and awed at what I am about to do. I remember that my setting is perfect. I try not to think too much about it and just go with it.
Someone has found a stuffed animal to put on my pillow. This is reassuring -- I had mentioned the night before that I had forgotten my own teddy bear. The sitter tells us the Rules and tells us some things we can remember to help us navigate:
1) there is a beginning, a middle and and end.
2) we all hold space on this planet -- sometimes you're in a difficult place, but it's just you're turn to be there in the 'hot spot' for a while, that's all.
3) If you find that you're lost of confused, pick an element of the music and just follow it, it will carry you and keep you moving so you don't get stuck. (now in reading this later, I don't think my sitter was a Deadhead, but this certainly sounds like a familiar message...)
We sip our tea and then take the 250 mcg LSD. We lay down and put on eyeshades and earphones. I feel a little anxiety but not outright fear.
Now the rest is a little hard to re-construct from my own memory. I remember not getting a whole lot of visual imagery until quite late, after the time that Panyin took a booster. It may have been about T+4:00 or so.
My session's 'work' was focused on a difficult place I reached at around t+4:00 or 5. What happened before it is harder to remember; I remember listening to the music and feeling my Observer commenting on how the choice of music can affect the place a traveller is in; in retrospect I had not surrendered to the experience, nor was I resisting it, I felt deeply in it but not very very deeply. I had some insights at this phase, one was that lessons don't have to be sternly imposed; we can learn lessons by being shown things (this related to ideas about parenting and my relationship with my parents, i.e. the archetypes of Father who gives punitive lessons vs. the Mother who shows by gentle example). I had to get up and go pee at one point and I kept my eyes closed the whole way to the bathroom (lead there by one of the sitters) because I in fact wanted to stay 'inside'. But when the sitter asked me if I wanted a booster I had trouble connecting with whether I felt 'yes' or whether I felt 'no' and giggled at the prospect. I didn't know, and because I didn't know I felt a little disappointed. The thought also briefly went through my mind, 'shit, I can't take more, I'm a coward.' [in retrospect, I can understand the thought, but I don't think I can ever be that hard on myself again] I imagined I was going to slowly come back to the straight world without bringing back much, while Panyin continued to trip next to me. But then I realized I didn't feel like more LSD was what I wanted to do. I suppose I lay back down then and put the eyeshades back on, maybe out of a feeling of resignation.
The chronology of the rest of this trip is completely pell-mell because I got into timeless moments and linear time went to the background for a long while. I started to panic and it snowballed. At one point I even tried to run from the room and had to be physically restrained! I had taken off my eyeshades, and the sitter was ok with that, but after a while she suggested I put my eyeshades and said, 'there's nothing out here, go back inside.'
I took notes two days later and the next few pages are derived from those notes:
I was calling out loud to Gaichi (boyfriend) and to Panyin because I was in a space where I had no reference points and I really didn't know who 'I' was, all classic 'bad trip' stuff. I was trying to call to him (Gaichi) so there would be someone who recognized me and who could in turn call me back to myself. This was a difficult place where I really was seeking reassurance -- I kept asking the sitters, 'Is it OK?' and was told 'you're doing just fine, just keep breathing,' and I was having trouble remembering to do that. Then I got fragmented and confused and all this stuff was happening at once -- I couldn't remember what I was doing there in the room or why or anything. I had a vague recollection that I had taken something but even that was unclear because there was no past in that moment. I vaguely wondered 'does it look like I'm having a bad trip?' and I kept moving on past that thought because my setting was one where 'bad trip' doesn't exist [good thing, too!]. But I would wonder, 'am I supposed to try and snap out of this?' I wondered if the people around me wanted Samanthe to come back and should I comply, I couldn't tell what they wanted but I was vaguely concerned about it (my 'trying to please people' programming going strong).
Panyin just couldn't stand my anguish without doing something so she came over to be with the sitters attending me. She appeared to me to be looking at me very worriedly and that scared me a little, because if *she* looked worried then there must be something wrong (this reminds me of the dream I had the night before, where I looked down worriedly at Panyin after she fell and went unconscious). I wondered if the neighbors could hear me and I clapped my hand over my mouth ('don't want to impose, don't want to do something that's bad or wrong'), because I screamed twice, as if something really big had smacked into me or shot through me. It felt like birthing, and orgasm, and dying, all at once. I didn't have a choice about it. I felt like I was cycling in and out of consciousness in microsecond intervals. At one point, when I called to Panyin, the sitter gently reminded me 'Panyin is having her own trip.' This kind of brought me back to the current time-space, but I was still confused, and I was worried that I wouldn't pop back up in the same 'place' (i.e. Samanthe, my ego self, my familiar personality) the next time I went 'unconscious' but maybe there was a chance I would pop up somewhere different on the karmic wheel, like a beggar in the streets of Bangladesh.
I hallucinated that my sitter growled at me, 'come on, you can't let us down now, we've put so much work into you,' which made me slightly paranoid. I imagined that another mentor friend was in the room in spirit and that I needed to 'come back' or I would really be letting her and everyone down (as in everyone else who values this work). I saw a brief image of papers, like scientific papers with citations at the bottom, and it didn't make sense to me, they didn't seem important to me, because I had no sense of the past. I vaguely reminded myself of all of the books that have been written and the other physical manifestations of human existence that I was imagining as my anchor or trail of crumbs back to 'my' 'life.' I also had a vivid impression that reality was all inside the room where we were, and that I would be there forever. I realized we were all women in the room and I felt a twinge of embarassment that I had called out to my boyfriend, as if it were improper to not stay in the present (the present trip being, 'you are here with two woman sitters, no need to call out for anyone not already here'). It was like a lesson about being where you're at, relating to the people in your presence, and not being somewhere where you're not, relating to people in your head, if that makes sense.
I think the sitter did say to me at one point when I called out for Gaichi, 'Gaichi's not here, he's in your head,' and that was at first bewildering but made perfectly good sense.
I don't remember if the messages in the following three paragraphs came through before or after the difficult part of the session. Even though they were not original in content -- in fact they were pretty archetypal -- I experienced them *viscerally* which had a bigger impact than mere 'book learning':
I realized my mother and my father are not my only teachers and parents -- I am the child of everyone I have ever met and not met, and my parents are also brother and sister and children to me. It was a clear message that my parents aren't really my 'parents' -- as if I unlearned the conditioning about what parents 'are.' Basically, they were my portal into this world and I also happened to have learned many things from them. They are not gods. I was seeing from a broader (less unconsciously child-like) perspective what they really are in my life.
I reviewed the crucial nature of storytelling -- the stories and myths we tell and
listen to create us and create the world, and the art that artists make creates the world. Artists are sacred and to be revered because they show us things that *can* be and that have been and should be remembered. If we forget stories we forget who we are -- *remembering* is very important. If we don't do that we lose ourselves. I thought of great writers (interestingly the ones who came to mind were all women) and imagined how crucial their work is to the process of remembering. Because the stories we tell wind throughout 'time' and create it, the result is that time really is non-linear. Our ancestors are not just in the past -- they are here and now. I also realized the importance of telling our own stories to other people -- of speaking out instead of just keeping it all inside, of finding one's voice and having the courage to use it.
It is really essential to be nice to oneself, to pamper oneself, to seek out quality and beauty for oneself in order to create a beautiful and true existence. This message came in at the end and throughout the next day when I started to interact with the world again.
Things that kept me going through the experience:
- there's a beginning, a middle and an end (said just like that, by the sitter)
- Prayer: 'How may I best be of service, how may I serve thee God.' (this may sound awfully conventional and I don't even really pray to 'God' but in the midst of my intoxication it provided some comfort)
- Sometimes you're in a difficult place, but it's just because it's your turn to be there.
When Panyin and I were back at our room for the night (at about T+8:00, following a simple meal of soup prepared by the sitters), I tried to go to sleep. But my mind was flooded with thoughts, mainly variations on the theme of karma. I wondered if perhaps I had fulfilled the duties of this incarnation and might pass away in the night and be reborn somewhere else in my sleep. This was disconcerting. I thought about my life's work and my primary relationship and the family of humankind and my mind was exhausted with the bigness of it all. I didn't become frustrated, I was patient, and this was because the context for all this was a good one.
We are all one -- the many faces of God -- each person carries in them a seed of all archetypes. Just because we are born to a family doesn't make that our only family -- sometimes our birth family is not even our family at all. So, it's important to not be hung up on the family trip, however, it's very important to honor parents and grandparents on the principle that they have come before us and are also participating in this trip/dance. It is also important to honor and speak to other archetypes in parents and grandparents (i.e. brother, sister, lover).
(end of notes)
I had so many thoughts that night. I thought a lot about money and other types of currency (words are a major currency -- the meanings we attribute to currency of any kind allow us to co-create our reality) that we exchange as we dance the human interaction dance/flow and create our world. I thought about 'trips' -- each persons has their trips. And we can choose to perceive them or not, and participate in them or not; ultimately it's up to us (I was getting lots of lessons on 'free will.') I saw the fragility of life, how unpredictable our lessons can be, no matter how carefully we plan, and that is awesome. Because of the fragility of life, it's foolish to overdevelop one relationship at the expense of others because ultimately you rob yourself -- if that person dies, you have missed out on all the other interactions (this thought probably related to my perceiving my parents as codependent). If you also are developing relationships with other people and a principle in your life dies, then you carry them with you forever and you also have other people there to help you grieve. All of the 'stuff' that was coming through and the observations above were understood on a deep deep visceral level, even if at first glance they appear trite or self-evident.
The next day, I was not very grounded, and I couldn't drive. I could barely talk. I reminded myself to be really nice to myself. It was then that I decided that I would not be participating in a group session with ayahuasca the next day. I had a lot of things to process and had no use for another day of 'churning the waters.' Too much to integrate already. At 2 pm or so (T+25:00) I finally took 4 mg of Valium because I craved some respite. I was *so* grateful for it. I slept for 2 and a half hours and when I came out of it I was *still* totally spacey. Panyin and I went to see a movie. I estimate it took my about 30 hours to get back to baseline.
The next day, I sat with eyeshades during everyone else's experience. I felt my chronic shoulder pain acutely. After about an hour, I was telling myself over and over again, 'be gentle with yourself.' I felt the pain shift and diminish. It came back, and I just reminded myself, 'be gentle with yourself.'
After many hours, I fell asleep. When I woke up on Sunday, I wrote the things above. I also took notes while another woman shared her notes, because her words spoke to my experience and stimulated my thoughts: Embodiment -- learning self-affirmations through the body (movement & breath) -- assures that those lessons will stay with us and be with us when we need them... Men are subtly taught that their bodies are less valuable than women's, that theirs are expendable (mainly through wars). This erodes their humanity and their nurturing. They really need nurturing, and so do women. Healing ourselves is our gift to the world. Work with the plant to learn things, different aspects of the Self. We need Sanga--community--to share, to become ourselves, because living among people not of our community can become confusing. Be gentle, develop beauty. Do not delay pleasure that can be felt now. Connecting with the same gender is important, to become human, to learn to avoid playing roles which don't fit us. We are what we take in--it is divine. We are the Creator, being created, and creating. Respect each other's truths--it is all part of God/Universe.
Notes, 2001: It's really enjoyable to re-read what I wrote, and flesh it out, with the perspective of two years. It feels good to see I've applied some of what I learned, and that what I haven't yet applied, I still see myself doing in the future. This trip feels like a part of the fabric of my life. It was incredibly difficult to endure. And it felt like I endured it -- I am learning that I want my life to be about experiencing, not about enduring. I can see now how I was imagining that the 'right' way to trip was to do a high-dose LSD session, and I dutifully followed the imperative even though I was terrified. I'm a little better about not being so hard on myself these days. I'm not sure if I would go to that fear space again -- I think probably not. But I don't feel like repeating LSD or mushrooms like that again -- I prefer ayahuasca. The LSD felt too mental for my taste, and mushrooms feel just plain weird. But I am so grateful I went where I did with this trip!
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