In this edition of heroic doses we ask the burning philosophical question, can a sufficient dose of psilocybin mushrooms cure someone of atheism? Not a topic I’d considered personally at length until it happened to a friend of mine. Well, let’s face it, I’ve always thought something like this was possible. One thing that annoys me about a lot of hard science wired people’s attitude toward matters such as alien contact and inner godhead freak outs is that I see a lot of, well, if something’s in your head, we can’t quantify data on it, so it’s pointless. Horseshit. Behavior is a physical thing and it’s incredibly easy to study.
Take me for example. As a teenager, after ditching Christianity I can’t say I had much of an interest in spirituality at all. I was more into guitars, basketball, not getting laid, and other typical young guy crap. I will say that smoking weed maybe got me thinking about matters of the soul a bit more intently, but not seriously. What I can definitively say is that after taking mushrooms once when I was 18, this all changed. Of course, it wasn’t only the one time I took them by any means, but one time was all it took. All of a sudden I started reading countless books about alien phenomenon, sixties counter culture, remote viewing, shamanism, etc. I started dabbling in astral projection. Never would have bothered without the insectile ‘shroom hive mind forcing the issue. It should be noted that there was something else that went all weird after my first psychedelic encounter that I still have a hard time wrapping my head around in retrospect. For a week or so after the trip, I had this odd feeling of bi-location that I’ve never felt since in a waking state. I was going through my daily life as a college student, but I was also simultaneously hovering above my head and looking down on myself from a third person perspective. None of this felt odd or out of place either, which made the whole charade that much more peculiar.
So whereas ridiculous claims like these can’t be substantiated by anyone other than me, the fact that I basically turned into another person can be. You could check my library records, my purchase histories. I went from having zero interest in alternative spirituality to that being my primary focus in life, instantaneously. If you would have asked me why at the time, I would have told you straight up. The same sort of thing happens with supposed UFO contactees. Behavior goes from one thing to another. It can be verified by multiple witnesses. Whether you believe in the reality of unknown forces lurking behind the scenes and shaping the world you live in, you should probably get used to it. They’re called thoughts and you can’t see any of them, but they’re sure as hell shaping everything. Welcome to the wacky world of the Occult.
Last week I relayed an anectdote about playing in a band with three other atheists, which was a particularly odd when the band is writing songs about crap like astral projection and Dick Cheney being sodomized in the afterlife (seriously). Most fascinatingly, my next band (I have no idea why I can’t keep a band together for more than 4 years) had the exact inverse make up as far as spiritual beliefs. Three guys completely on board with fringe metaphysics and one proudly hard nosed atheist, or scientific reductionist as he’d sometimes refer to it. This is with me, another guy who had maybe taken maybe a bit too much blotter in his heyday and openly talked about the presence of insectile men in black pushing micro dot sheets behind the scenes in his hometown of L.A. My brother was also in the project, and although he’s not nearly as hardcore as me, his comment on Graham Hancock’s Supernatural was something to the effect of: “The problem with reading that book, is that you know whatever you read next isn’t going to be nearly as cool. It’s a bit of a let down”
Perfect environment for a psychoactive super freak like me, with the exception of the lone atheist dissent. I must say though, it was rather satisfying for this perspective to always get quickly beaten down in a conversational setting for once. I was used to being told I was nutter, now it was the exact opposite perspective getting mocked. Good times. What wasn’t good times was the fact that the guy didn’t understand the whole I-am-the-inhuman-king-of-drugs vibe I was trying to conjure forth. As a matter of fact, on one occasion he randomly decided to re-write the press materials for our one album for me. What’s weird about this, is that he wouldn’t come clean as to why he was doing it. He’d make up excuses about the grammar or whatever, and after a while I had to call him out and be like, dude, I know, you’re an “atheist” you’re not cool with what I’m doing here, but it’s my fucking band so I don’t give a shit. If you’re not comfortable with it, quit.
This actually kept coming up from time to time even though I thought it was settled. So, after three and a half years of this passive aggressively vaguely confrontational crap, a supremely unexpected turn of events went down. Namely, and I have no idea why he did this, but he decided he was going to intentionally take an incredibly massive dose of mushrooms. He’d been unemployed for a spell, so one weekend he used his excess of free time to go to Arizona and trip the fuck out with a college friend. It was his entire intent to take way too much. It should be noted that this wasn’t the first time he’d taken psychedelics at all. I’d actually done them with him at the album listening party for our first studio album. It admittedly wasn’t super strong stuff, but we ended up jamming for a while and laying down the framework for what became the project’s last song.
None of these lower dosage trips led him to any kind of spiritual insights however, and he was hell bent on changing that. Did it work? Weeeelll, the dude came back from Arizona talking about telepathic communication and spontaneously reliving moments he’d forgotten about his childhood from different perspectives, then contemplating how this related to his adult life for weeks. What else, some sort of interface with electronic devices if I’m remembering correctly, but basically just other proto-typical tripping the fuck out fare. It was incredibly unpleasant and challenging, but he didn’t regret it a bit.
And heeeere’s the kicker. He was no longer an atheist. Not only was he no longer an atheist, but he denied ever being one. It was the most surreal thing ever. He’d sit there and explain to the three of us that he was always more of an agnostic and we’d be like, dude, we’ve had this drunken conversation a hundred times over the last 3 years, do you not remember these conversations? Apparently he doesn’t. We do. So somehow, this drug encounter was so profound that he actually blacked out the fact that he had ever subscribed to the infallibility of scientific reductionism in the first place.
I ran into him a few months back at a show, asked if I could write about this transformation and he was cool with it. He then basically professed to the reality of telepathic phenomenon and the potentiality of between mind communication. We’re all tied together, we need to figure out a way to harness these abilities, he argued. I’m on it (friend me on Facebook for high strangeness). But there was something else, for the entirety of the time I was playing in a band with the guy, he took prescription anti-anxiety medication and because of this re-awakening, he’d voluntarily taken himself off. He even went through some serious withdrawals in doing so, which is something the pharmaceutical companies love to downplay. Was this a good idea? You got me, only time will tell I suppose. What I do know is that I played in a band with a professed atheist for 3.5 years. His spiritual perspective then quite suddenly flipped on a dime exactly after heroically dosing himself to eternity on psilocybin. That’s a fact.