Hey Disinfonauts, I think I’ve mentioned this before, but everyone should absolutely check out this Divine Spark book that Graham Hancock just put out. It’s a great roundup of essays exploring the mind’s limitless imaginal potentiality as presented to us by the psychedelic experience (I’m pretty sure that sentence makes sense). The fact that psychedelic research is finally gaining more mainstream acceptance is, much like marijuana legalization, not something I ever thought I’d see in my lifetime. Back in my early 20’s I got popped for acid possession and was scoffed at for wanting to study these things as a psychology student. As bleak and out of touch as the world can seem at times, there are some deliciously weird things afoot. Let us never lose sight of that, or harp on the fact that this essay already appeared on the site a few years back. Is there ever a bad time to re-read through my stuff (or to read my book which you can grab super cheap)? No, no, there isn’t, and since this appears in The Divine Spark (which you can purchase here and should), now seemed like as good a time as any to re-tell the tale of why I only take psychedelic drugs like once or twice a year anymore (well, outside of microdosing) and increasingly do so ritualistically. And since I’m such a great guy, there’s even some additional commentary at the end for the heads. Also, if you haven’t already friended me of FB for magick updates, now’s the motherfuckin’ time as space is limited on that front.
I feel like I should start this off by saying that I’m never going to stop doing psychedelic drugs and to say that I don’t do them very often anymore would sort of ignore the fact that I get high almost every day. In my mind weed’s a bit more of hallucinogen than most people like to acknowledge, it just takes a bit more focus to be used in that capacity and people are lazy. Things like acid and mushrooms come right into your headspace and impose their essence into the very fiber of your world. They’re the only reason I’m writing this weird shit for you today. I took mushrooms when I was 18 and saw a universe of transcendent shape shifting mutant space art that no one will ever be able to explain to me with conventional thought. One of the more mind blowing aspects of randomly experimenting with psilocybin as a teenager had to do with reading people like Carlos Castaneda shortly thereafter. Whatever you think about the guy’s work, I can absolutely say that I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of sorcery or shamanism until that exposure. Most of us tune it out. I wasn’t crazy. People had been basing their spiritual beliefs on the ritualistic use of entheogens ever since we can remember there being people, and yet, we’ve outright rejected this philosophy in western culture. I just can’t figure out why everything’s fucked. I just can’t figure it out.
The sensory fireworks of psychedelic high strangeness eventually lead me into the even freakier spectacles of astral projection and chaos magick. I can say with all certainty that these things have lead to more coherent cosmic informational downloads than psychedelics ever have. Hands down. The psychedelic experience is almost too powerful. You get a constant invasion stream of more than you can take, which is why it’s so awesome, but it’s also easier to process the information more effectively in alternate formats like sex ganj-i-tation and dream analysis. It typically takes me months to process a single trip, but there was a time when I didn’t take them so sparingly.
The problem is the drug war. Set and setting largely dictate the resulting imprint of any ethneogen voyage, and in this day and age, your average teenager dives into them like they would any other illegal substance. You could argue that the majority of our spiritual beliefs are backhandedly diluted shamanism when you get down to it. This is some powerful shit. And most of us just throw ourselves into it as if it’s no different than choogling cheap beers and trying to get laid. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I first tripped out. It was a Friday night, I was looking to party. What happened changed me forever. Not many people are going to tell you that’s a possibility. The psychedelic experience has never really grown up past its frat boy party phase in western culture. I’m still not of the mind that going to a crowded concert or festival is the best way to get something profound out of them, as hyper rad as that can be. Optimally I think sex should be involved, but that’s another story.
What I’m really getting at is that I sort of find psychedelic culture embarrassing to a certain extent. I remember reading about research done back in the sixties that indicated that without the implementation of an alternate spiritual practice, the long term effects of a given acid trip on an individual’s behavior were often negligible. I’ve known a crap ton of people who have taken a bunch of psychedelics, and very few of them have adopted any sort of alternative spiritual discipline whatsoever. It usually seems to be about, again, taking drugs as a means to escape life’s bullshit and little more. A lot of times it almost turns into a pissing contest sort of “I can handle more than you can” competition. Granted, I know a lot of other people who use it to inspire art, and that’s a spiritual discipline unto itself, but very few people I’ve known take on even basic things like regular meditation or intentional dream manipulation. For most casual trippers, it doesn’t change them much at all in the long term. If I were to put a finger on why this is, I’d wager it has something to do with the set and setting in which we take them, which is typically “at a party or party environment” under the impression that “they’re just drugs fucking with your head”. That’s a pretty good set up for a failure to learn anything. Basically, just edit out all the freaky shit to the best of your abilities because there’s no reason to pay much attention to it anyway. That’s the attitude a lot of us our launching ourselves heavenward with.
God, the dumb shit I did in my youth. I have multiple stories of being drunk at like 3am at some random party and one of my friends finding acid. Yeah, let’s take that, right now, after 17 beers. It’s not like it wasn’t fun. I had the free time and I used to be able to handle these shenanigans. On the other hand, it’s also kind of stupid. I knew one girl who took mushrooms and had to be forcefully evacuated from a concert because she wigged the fuck out. I knew another guy who on several different occasions ate ‘shrooms and wound up in a mental institution not really having any idea how he got there. He lost a couple of jobs because of that. Right after high school I sold a dude some and he went home and took them by himself. Ended up freaking and his mom took him to the hospital in the middle of the night to get his stomach pumped. That has to be one of the worst trips on record and I still sort of feel bad for selling him those. Why doesn’t anyone say obvious shit about psychedelic drugs? Why is it always just GOOOOOO TEEEAAAAMM DRUGGGGGSSSS!!!!!?
No seriously, I’m about the biggest advocate for the stuff imaginable, but if someone who’s never tried them asked, I’d tell them to try weed first. If you can’t handle what that does to your brain (and a lot of people struggle with it) you really have no business going any further. Try smoking pot and meditating and if you like that, by all means proceed. If you have a predilection to things like manic depression, schizophrenia or spontaneous schizophrenic experience, taking acid or mushrooms might just push you way over the edge, which we’ve seen time and time again. When you do try them, take a small dose and wait for a couple hours. If you want more, take more but increase the dosage in small increments to test what you can deal with. I so did not take this advice or think this way when I was younger. Even when I took mushroom chocolates with my wife who had never done them years back, I accidentally gave her way too much because I’d never tried that batch and had no idea how strong they were. As a result, she had a rough first few hours (although she learned a few things) and I had to put in a bit of effort to pull her out of it, which worked. You’d think I would have figured the protocol out by this point, but it’s not like you learn it in schools or on TV. They tell you to party.
The other important point is: don’t do them all the freaking time. I’m of the mind that Timothy Leary’s idea that you can take these things weekly without frying your brain is one hundred percent off. When I read about the sixties it never ceases to amaze me how large they went on that front. There is absolutely no way that wouldn’t have made me go all Syd Barret batshit, which is quite depressing I might point out. And it’s not like I’ve never gone over the edge tripping balls too much like those guys did. When I moved out to Seattle twelve years ago I arrived with a half sheet of acid in tow. On top of that, mushrooms just kept finding me. This of course lead to some of the most transcendent sexual experiences of my life but eventually an eerie communication started reverberating through the ether of psychic waves. I kept seeing the exact patterns repeating themselves over and over again. Nothing new was piercing the veil of novel experience. It wasn’t just that, but as with everything telepathy, I was starting to understand that the repeating feedback loop was meant to tell me something, and I’ll try and translate it into English for you:
“Hey, Thad, it’s us, the mutating hive mind super gods. Yeah, we dig you too. I get that you like making us do this little trick we do, but guess what. We’ve shown you everything we can little guy. Go out and like, accomplish something with your life before you summon us again. Impress us and we’ll impress you. Thanks for leaving us alone until you do.”
Of course I didn’t really listen to all that because back in the day I was actually quite a bit denser than I am now, which is hard to believe. I did slow it down a bit though, but of course I suppose a true lesson had to be imparted for them to get through to me. That happening took some of my most irresponsible drug behavior ever. I got promoted into this new management gig where I had to be on call and carry a pager regularly. The very first night that I have this responsibility, I show up at home and my girlfriend at the time is cutting up lines of coke. We bump those and then at like two in the morning decide we’re going to do the ecstasy we have lying around. That gets weird and really sort of fun and emotional. We talked about a lot of repressed things we’d never touched on before. I actually answer a call from my work no problem despite being completely out of my head. Then when the E wore off at like six in the morning we had the brilliant idea of taking the last bits of acid we had in the fridge. This is the problem with thinking about psychedelics as party drugs in a nutshell.
Now, it should be noted that before this happened, we’d done this stuff a few times and it was super weak, which is what influenced the decision. We thought it’d just put a permagrin on our faces which is what it did before. An hour later though, while we were walking around the park it somehow came on fiercer and more sinister than anything I’ve ever had creep up on me. The next ten or so hours were the most daemonic horror show invasion type vibes that have ever slipped into my micro-verse. They spirits were fucking pissed. Now the message was:
“Hey, dipshit. We told you! WE TOLD YOU! What the fuck are you doing with your life? Jesus Christ, get a fucking hold of yourself. Go out and do something to impress us or never summon us like this ever again.”
It was absolutely brutal and one of like only two bad trips I’ve ever had. I remember at one point actually having sex with my quite gorgeous girlfriend and just stopping. I wasn’t even into sex. That’s how nuts it was. Eventually she had the quite brilliant idea of giving me a bunch of Benadryl which finally ended the ordeal and knocked me out. Thank god no one else paged me. It should be noted that it wasn’t nearly as negative a vibe for her and I had way more experience with acid at that point.
After that I didn’t do hallucinogens at all for like two and half years, and I, you know, actually sort of accomplished some things with my life. I got into magick. Then next time I took them was again, at like one in the morning when I was sort of drunk with the same girl, who called me out of nowhere. Ended up being one of the better trips I’ve had and I’ve actually written about it fairly extensively. They were pleased with me again. There sure is some potent psilocybin in the Pacific Northwest. The trip started with this kitten on a calendar someone gave me shooting psionic neon red lazer beams out of its eyes and into my eternal structure. Hadn’t seen that trick before.
In the seven or so years since, I usually embark on one or two cosmic voyages a year max. I typically do it to reward myself for some sort of accomplishment, which for me typically involves the completion of an album that I ritualistically listen to. I’ve been increasingly trying to plan these things out and hone the ritualistic element more precisely. This is all honestly new. I did a 2012 audio acid ritual that quite quickly pointed out to me what the next step in my magickal evolution is, communion with my Holy Guardian Alien. Abduction basically, but from my body, not of my body. I’ve got a long way to go as far as mastering that goes, but until then, further figuring out how to maximalize the set and setting of the psychedelic experience is sort of what I’m up to.
On that note, part of the reason I’m talking about all this is because I took a chocolate and went to the first Hypnotikon psychedelic music festival in 2013. Aces. Just top shelf psychic residue spewing forth from that camp. I was peaking in the front row while an unholy Night Beats freak out was going down. Amazing. Like going on a hyper color great space roller coaster. Did I gain any real new spiritual insights? Not really, but it certainly was mind blowing in epic proportions. So mind blowing that my head wasn’t entirely back to normal for four whole days afterward. Christ I’m getting old. It used to take me like a day to bounce back from that kind of madness overload. On the other hand, just kind of verifies my point. You probably don’t want to be doing this sort of thing too often, but rather, ritualistically and with respect. The term acid casualty exists for a reason. Let us not forget that.
Update: Over the last few years I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of my time bullshitting about psychedelics and magick on social media, and it wasn’t until after I wrote this that I noticed a similar pattern going down in a lot of the stories that were being relayed to me. In fact, it goes right in tune with precisely what I was talking about in this particular essay. The story goes like this: the person starts taking psychedelics and has amazingly mind blowing experiences, but as time goes on, and they keep blasting their minds into hyperspace recklessly, the hallucinations become increasingly sinister and foreboding. So, you know, exactly what happened to me when you get right down to it. The compelling thing is that Terrence McKenna even talked about this in regards to his increased usage of DMT.
Here’s where it gets odd, last week I wrote about the influence of Carlos Castaneda on my writing, and in re-reading A Seperate Reality a year or so back, I had a ganj-i-tation experience where it was explained to me that I have an ability to “hear” what hallucinogens are telling me. This apparently isn’t a super common aptitude among westerners. If you were going ask me where I developed it, I’d have to tell you in some distant past life rather than this one. So whereas the increasingly unpleasant nature of the telepathic communication going down after continued use of psychedelics came across to me as the universe telling me to accomplish shit with my life before I continued to experiment, I seem to be the only one I’ve chatted with that was able to decipher that particular code. Most people just gave up on taking hallucinogens entirely. In fact, when I mentioned my experiences to several of the people who messaged me, most of them ignored what I was telling them all together. Some wanted to believe in the true nature of supreme evil and perceived their visions to be evidence of this reality.
I’m just going to stand by it though, if you keep doing entheogens with zero spiritual purpose other than just to kill time, you’re likely going to run into similarly unpleasant shit. This is the psychedelic gods way of telling you: “Hey, quit summoning us for no reason, you jackass!” Only an increased amount of research into these compounds will ultimately tell whether or not I’ve stumbled on anything objective with these channeled communications, but there is one thing I can tell you about psychedelics for sure: don’t expect any sort of easy answers and don’t be surprised when it’s not all fun and games. They are no panacea. They are but a window to another world, and it’s up to you to find the door. Spirituality ain’t easy, in fact, Graham Hancock’s essays about his encounters with seemingly sinister trickster entities under the influence of Ayahuasca are one of my favorite parts of The Divine Spark. One of the primary thoughts I had while reading them was: wow, that’s way more tripping in an incredibly short period of time than I would ever engage in at this point in my life. Occultist out.