A vivid trip involving multiple substances

Well, I tripped this weekend and went too far even for me. Psychoactives included approximately 360-400mg DXM HBr, 150-200ug LSD, regular use of fluoxetine (dosage not recalled), cigarettes, and possibly a bit of leftover harmaline from a previous night's experiment. My body mass is 80kg.

It started with dinner at Z. and B.'s; B. made black bean burritos and I ate two (mistake number one). Then we all dropped; I took three hits, at I'm guesstimating 150-200ug (these weren't particularly strong hits of acid). Then shortly after I drank about one half of an 8oz bottle of RoboMax (yes, I know I should really be extracting the shit). This was a combination I had done before, at lower levels, and I had been quite impressed with the results. I also took a Coenzyme Q10 in an attempt to prevent any metabolic insult to my posterior cingulate and retrosplenial cortex, a matter about which I have recently become somewhat paranoid as a result of Olney's findings.

The first 30 minutes were uneventful. Alert came at maybe 35-40 minutes in to the experience. I felt a slight stiffness in my shoulders, or perhaps a need to move around. Within 15 minutes I started feeling gastrointestinal distress. I took 4mg loperamide, thanking the chemistry gods that it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier.

At about dose+1hour, I started feeling the DXM kick in. I remember sitting in the bathroom, looking at the wooden door. As I sat there without moving, the patterns in the wood transformed into a fluid sculpture, then into a waterfall and finally into an incredibly beautiful place, with a waterfall, small rapids, delicate ferns and plants, and life all around. At this moment I knew something different would happen tonight.

For awhile after I honestly don't remember much (for reasons that will become clear later). I started feeling a little uneasy in the tummy, and tried more than once (unsuccessfully) to go to the bathroom. I finally ended up wandering outside ... and then I saw the moon.

The weather here occasionally takes on a particular form, in which delicate, wispy, and probably low-lying clouds are blown rapidly across the sky. In the night, under the full moon, this took on the appearance of an Aurora Borealis. Music was playing inside, and the rest of my companions were for the most part inside playing with trip toys, but I had come face to face with such incredible beauty that I could do nothing but stare in rapture, weeping.

As I regained consciousness of my more ordinary surroundings, I tried to smoke a cigarette. It tasted terrible and I could *feel* the natural world around me, almost as if it had a consciousness. It, or they, seemed puzzled that I would waste my time (and life) on such a boring and trivial drug, and I found myself having visions of how tobacco was originally used (when fresh, it is a strong hallucinogen and far too powerful of an experience to become addictive).

I began to look around me. I felt suddenly shocked that with such incredible beauty and energy around us, we as humans choose to spend our time in sterile and unnatural surroundings. It felt as if a black veil were dropping from my soul, or perhaps as if an evil spell were being banished. I could sense the life and joy around me in the trees, the clouds, the skies, and even the stars. There was life all around me, and I could suddenly see the pattern to it.

I realize now that this sounds hopelessly new-agey, but unlike some I have never had the belief that nature and the spiritual worlds are some safe, harmless playground and that all entities (physical or not) are basically here to love us. I began to realize that I as an individual, and we as humans, are just one thread in a much larger fabric, and that Nature (either as a collective or as her individual parts) wouldn't shed a tear if I were to vanish from life forever. Yet somehow that made me feel all the more important, to be a part of some greater construct.

I began to wonder about the nature of consciousness. What if what regard as consciousness (perhaps awareness of onesself and the ability to exert will to change onesself or ones surroundings?) was a feature of many collective entities, such as insect colonies, weather patterns, or even the entire ecosystem? Or, perhaps what we *regard* as conscious behaviour is simply a result of a complex, chaotic system which encodes (and "decides" based on) a great amount of state information kept as a feature of the nonlinear dynamic algorithm?

Perhaps we as humans were unique among animals in that we truly did control our *own* destiny as individuals. Maybe that was what the Fall of Man was all about -- we became conscious as individuals, rather than our "consciousness" (or more complex decision-making behaviours) residing in collective myths (spirits and deities). And perhaps, in these earlier times, our "higher" decision-making systems, those that are now essential for consciousness, propagated complex decision algorithms via song, myth, and shared belief in gods. But with a continuous interplay between the decision system and the observer system, consciousness became possible. Perhaps with this constant interplay of awareness and observation, everyday life, common aches and pains, boredom, depression, and ennui are possible because we are constantly *aware* of them, i.e., they have constant emotional (or generally, internal state state) significance. A fall from paradise indeed! Then again, I had recently finished reading Jaynes, and was looking for potential explanations for the transition from bicameral to unicameral mind.

Chronology becomes difficult at this point. I remember looking at my surroundings, lifting my point of view above, and then seeing the entire scene in three dimensions. Three dimensions then expanded into four, and the realm of history and future stretched into a complex, four-dimensional fabric. Different possible futures (and occasionally different possible pasts) superimposed themselves like ghost-images. The entire thing morphed into a tremendously complex weaved fabric in state-space, each thread being a sliver of consciousness or spirit, but more fluid. The "threads" were like rivulets of energy; they broke apart, combined, swirled around chaotically. I felt as if I could reach down and pluck one of the energy ribbons, move it out of place, but I saw in my mind how shock waves would ripple out from the point of my contact, and potentially have unforseen consequences.

I became aware that all four of us were in our own ways grasping this loom and changing the patterns around us. I could hear Z. playing his guitar, I think (or maybe I just imagined it). It seemed as if he were using this instrument to make changes, both in us (and our consciousness) and in his own reality (and, so it seemed, ours as well).

Anyway, by this time I had started to feel a great deal of energy. The others came outside and Z. started to play his flute (I think I have the chronology correct here). The faint lights that were in the trees (which I have seen before sober, although only out of the corner of my eyes) started to grow in intensity. I noticed that the shadows were starting to move, and at first I suspected that a car was passing by (or a helicopter was flying overhead from the hospital; it was a sufficiently windy night that I thought someone might have run into a downed power line). But I realized that the shadows were changing too fast and too irregularly. As I looked into the sky, I thought at first I saw meteors, and then for a moment had a vague and somewhat paranoid thought that bits and pieces of meteorite were falling from the sky. Then I truly saw them, the dancing lights, some tiny and sparkly, others like glowing, hazy balls of mist. They seemed to fly in complex yet significant patterns, perhaps following the contours of some imaginary clouds or field lines.

Then as I watched I heard them sing. They were singing to me, to us, and I heard them calling to me. A door opened up ahead of me -- not in realspace, but a spiritual door, one that I could not assign an image to but was aware of nonetheless. I reached forward for it with my mind and the world was flooded with light.

I became aware of other entities with me. The world changed and took on form, although I felt it was more for my benefit than that of the entities with me. Strangely enough I pictured myself in an ordinary-looking classroom, and the entities had become professors and were telling me that I was free to take the test if I liked, but that the price would be dear if I failed.

Awareness of my surroundings returned suddenly and I felt a gradual but steady buildup of energy. With it came a sudden nausea, and I managed to make it to the sink before puking my guts out. In my mind came the thought that there was a *reason* people often puked on psychedelics (at least the natural ones), and that somehow having food in one's system during this sort of experience was a bad idea. I still felt bad for puking in B.'s sink though.

After puking my guts out I sat and felt miserable for a few minutes in a fit of self-loathing. I felt terrible for having taken essentially my own trip rather than participating with my friends and my wife, all of whom I love and care about deeply. I felt selfish, and yet I remembered the dream I'd had the night before where I was told I was to learn an important lesson and that all would be made clear to me. I don't often put stock in this sort of thing, but I figured I'd be better to say, what the hell, I'll try, rather than ignore a potentially useful message from my subconscious (or wherever).

The energy buildup continued more quickly now. I felt that the food had been holding me back somehow. My entire body began to vibrate in a new way, not necessarily in any of the three dimensions we are accustomed to. A part of it was time-vibration (I felt as if I were vibrating forward and back in time very slightly, so that the net effect was alternating rapidly between sudden jumps forward in time and pauses). And a part of it was something entirely different. The vibrational states seemed quantized in that there were sudden jumps from one frequency and mode to another, rather than gradual transitions.

Eventually I noticed that I was twitching and then starting to shake along with the music (didgeridoo). The entire world was turning into pure light and color, and everything was dissolving into increasing power. I saw again the entity (or entities) I had seen before. They were gentle, like parents almost, and they seemed to be telling me something fairly complex. As near as I could tell, the message was that, if I truly wanted to be able to grasp the fabric of reality directly and learn how to shape it without unexpected consequences, I must first learn how to let the energy flow through me without it overloading me.

The energy suddenly turned up and I felt like I had just plugged my spinal cord into a light socket. Every experience became excruciatingly painful, all sensory input was maximal in intensity. It was beautiful, profound, overwhelming, and terrifying. I felt an increasing throbbing in my head and increasing intestinal pain, and my skin felt like it was being constantly shocked. I remembered then about the potential for serotonin syndrome from this particular combination (given the Prozac I was taking) and started to become truly afraid.

The entities returned. I got another empathic message, that if I expected to be Awakened I'd have to risk my life to do it, and I realized that perhaps I'd gotten myself into more than I'd expected. Normally I do not have a great fear of death, but somehow I felt like the penalty for failure wouldn't be death per se, but something infinitely worse. Brain damage sprang to mind.

I decided at this point I was ready for the trip to stop. I couldn't take the amount of sensory input, my psyche was overloaded, and while I felt I had come to some very important point, I didn't think I was necessarily ready (or that the Prozac was a good mixer in this cocktail). I took a clonazepam, dreading the thought but nonetheless definitely ready to finish the trip even if it meant slamming into a wall. The entities told me that it wouldn't really help me anyway, that the duration of the test was unimportant, but by then I'd already taken it.

The next hour or so (and it felt like twenty) was a constant struggle to keep full control of my mind and soul. I felt like I had to hold myself together by sheer force of will, and I came in contact with countless hidden parts of myself, little pieces of my character, soul, thoughts, and memories, that I'd never faced before. And suddenly I had to hold them all together. I tried to make a very few simple changes to the overall pattern, strengthening my will in particular areas and perhaps hoping that out of this would come a new ability to shape my own behaviour, but I wasn't hoping for much.

Gradually I regained control and the trip ended. Like I'd predicted, it was like slamming into a brick wall at lightspeed. My soul felt ripped out of my body and shoved into a hole, and the glorious energy and life drained out of me. Looking back on it I wish I hadn't taken the benzo, but I don't think I anyone was sober enough to be my spirit guide at that moment and I wasn't very coherent either. The rest of the night I struggled to stay awake, and began to get confused as a result of the benzo, but I managed to hold on to most of the bits and pieces. I still regret not having been able to stay with my friends, though, and I think I'd have been better off to just drop acid and save the cocktail for some other time when I was ready.

Looking back on it all, I have found that, if nothing else, confronting death that directly has changed my outlook on life. Although it is not terribly powerful yet, I have a growing feeling that I can make changes in my life and in my behaviour that will last. In some ways it's like a part of childhood is over.

-Shostiru



1998 The Third Plateau
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