An ill-conceived experiment from my youth provided me with some of the most profound experiences of my life.
In my early twenties I did all sorts of things that now seem stupid, painful or impossible. I was an exercise in excess running a constant study in the limits of my own consciousness. Working in headshops and living in a particularly infamous house of hyperbolistic hedonism provided the perfect landscape for such measures.
First let me back up a bit. My first LSD experiences at the age of 19 produced a few bad trips. There were several factors that contributed to that, but in the end it was the inability to comfortably introvert deeply that produced the most anxiety. Especially since we were mixing it with lots of cannabis. The combination of those two things can send you spiraling so far into yourself that it can be difficult to comprehend and bear. It creates a sort of noise which is easy to mistranslate as ‘something is wrong’.
The result was that my first round of psychedelic experimentation left me a bit wary of the experience, but not so much that I was ready to give up entirely.
When I tried it again regularly a few years later, I was also drinking a lot of the time. I was doing whatever I could, whenever I could, while still holding down jobs, paying my debts and being a decent human being. But alcohol sort of accompanied everything to various degrees. When I discovered that drinking would shorten the comedown by allowing sleep sooner, I began to push the mixture further.
Unlike cannabis, alcohol added an extra element of extroversion to acid trips. It made group camping trips where we gobbled up half a sheet in a night that much more fun. So me and my friends freely mixed the two, noting that it was almost impossible to get drunk while peaking on the acid.
That eventually led me to challenge these findings, and attempt to out-drink the effects of the acid. One night I not only managed to become undeniably drunk on four hits of good acid, I actually passed out.
While I slept I dreamt of a race of beings called Dandrites who evolved from a fleck of skin off of my head. In that dream I watched the entire evolution of a species, its rise and fall, beginning to end. When the Dandrites expired and went back to the great head and shoulders in the sky, I awoke.
I was in the enclosed rear porch of a friends house and it was sunrise. Between the alcohol, the acid and the wariness of awakening – my vision was completely bonkers. I was seeing in impressionism. And as I looked out upon the world it was beautiful and perfect. So I did what Albert Hoffman did on the first acid trip ever, and rode my bike home.
Both the acid and the alcohol still held firm purchase on my consciousness and perception. When I got home I began listening music and was profoundly touched by its beauty. The Queens of the Stone Age Song ‘In the Fade’ seemed like the most potent truth I had ever heard.
“You live til you die.”
I realized for the first time how terribly finite and impermanent my ego was compared to my consciousness. I understood the ridiculousness of the human ego in ways I had never even gotten close to, on both an intellectual level and in a transcendent way that surpassed my ability to describe using normative language and concepts.
Based on these observations I started writing up what became the basis of a religion I created called The Official Church of Expertise, which mocked human authority. Not on the basis of another kind of authority, but on the basis of the futility of human exceptionalism and absolute knowledge. I was also reading lots of Robert Anton Wilson at the time. I can still remember the churches motto, which eventually just became mine.
“I agree that nonsense makes perfect sense and that I am the Dungherder.
I can put my foot right in the pile and get my slice-o-the pie.”
Something that I didn’t realize to be so profound at the time was that tripping in an unconscious state had removed the existential fear of introversion and the ego-crushing revelations it entailed. I had actually enjoyed them and found them enlightening. I had learned to go deep into my own mind without fear.
Over the next few years I slowed down my experimentation with drugs. It seemed I had a lot of other learning to do in other ways in order to understand the experiences I had already had, so I worked on that.
A decade later I began to experiment with acid and other entheogenic drugs again. By this time most of my friends had ‘grown up’ and there were no wild drug parties to experiment within, so I took them in solitude. Usually I would spend the first few hours trying to maintain some connection to the outer world, but inevitably let myself fall into a state of deep introversion.
My trips began to take place with my body in a state of rest and my external perceptions shut off, entering a state of pure mind. It was much like dreaming, except these were not dreams. During these episodes I was able to form a rudimentary connection to the state of consciousness from which individual consciousnesses emerged. I was able to enter a realm in which the programs for reality were written from the subconscious beliefs of all living things, and was able to experience them from the obtuse perspective of language-free information.
Eventually I began to call these experiences ‘conversations with the logos’ referencing obscure narratives of a higher consciousness which produced and connected all minds within itself. I was able to deduce the most likely paths of humanity and see the benefits and pitfalls of them. I gained an inside view of reality that was able to help me see shadows of the future. Of course, this seems highly unbelievable, and I will completely understand if you dismiss my perceived knowledge as dopey-delusions. You can’t know what you don’t know.
These days I am wary of psychedelic experiences. Their effects on me are too profound to visit casually. And since they induce a tendency towards anti-social vision quests it is frightening to consider using them with others who may take my extreme introversion as a slight, or shake me from my reveries.
Experimenting with acid and alcohol made me go from fearing introverted consciousness experiences to being limited to experiencing it only in this way. And on one hand it has made my psychedelic experience far richer than I could have initially imagined, but on the other hand they have made me incapable of being the psychedelic guide I was once reknown for among my circle of friends and associates.
So while I am glad to have opened up new doors through reckless experimentation, I am also concerned that I am now unable to fulfill shamanic roles in group psychedelic experiences comfortably. My current interest is in opening up a middle path, where I do not have to compromise my experience in order to enrich that of others. And who knows where I will find it, but perhaps in a new combination of mind-altering substances that allow me to escape the velocity of my own uninvited stubborn momentum.
Got any suggestions?
Please DO NOT take this writing as advice to do what I have done. Since acid can make you seemingly immune to the effects of alcohol, it is very easy to drink yourself into alcohol poisoning. I was lucky, not smart.