I’m in the middle of a very interesting book titled, prosaically but accurately, How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. The subtitle is What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.
Apparently, psychedelics are making a comeback or at least coming out of the shadows where they never really went away after being made illegal decades ago, in no small part due to the endless antics of Dr. Timothy Leary.
There are indications of legal openings for some uses of these incredibly therapeutic materials.
Leary’s main thing was LSD, a chemical compound developed in the first part of the 20th Century, but entheogens — my preferred term for the various mind-expanding compounds — have been known and used for centuries in various cultures around the world.
If you know little of entheogens, I highly recommend this book.
I dived right into the sea of entheogens in 1997, and I swam around for a spell. It helped me immensely in the wake of a divorce that left me in an exceptionally bad place.
In 1997, I ingested psilocybin mushrooms twice and LSD twice, all under the guidance of a kind psychologist who lived in the woods outside Tallahassee, Florida. I have written about this previously, but many years ago. Perhaps this is a different take.
Between 1997 and 1999, I also took Ecstasy five or six times alone in my Houston condo. Lovely material.
And during an entheogen conference in Palenque, Mexico, in 1999, a year before I moved south, I inhaled vaporized 5-MeO-DMT. My final entheogen experience happened in Florida about a year after moving to Mexico. I was up for a visit.
That time I drank a chemical analog of ayahuasca.
During the ayahuasca experience, a voice spoke to me loud and clear: You don’t have to do this anymore. And I haven’t.
All the experiences were stunning, but it seems that some of it, important parts, had faded from my memory over the two subsequent decades. Pollan’s book brought them back.
Here are three
First: Dancing with love. This took place during the second psilocybin experience. If you state an intention before doing these things, it often will affect the experience. I said I wanted to dance with love, something I was feeling an immense lack of in the wake of my divorce.
What I imagined would happen was that a loving woman would appear to me, and we would dance. But that did not take place.
I saw nothing. There were no visuals, quite the opposite of what had happened during the first psilocybin excursion when the visuals were incredible. Instead, a sea of love enveloped me. It was sheer feeling and nothing like I had ever experienced in my life.
It was how you might imagine being embraced by God.
Second: Sea of blood. This one was a mix of LSD and psilocybin taken simultaneously. After the experience ended, the psychologist told me I had been laughing the entire time, which was strange considering what happened. A flood of blood from above had poured all over me.
Think the final scenes of Carrie.
While this sounds horrifying, it was not. Quite the contrary. While this happened, a voice told me it was time to grow up and become a man.
Third: The black panther. I remember this best of all, perhaps because it happened after I thought the experience had run its course. I was with my helper in his dark living room around midnight. It’s ended, I told him, and I decided to go to bed.
I felt totally normal.
I went into the bedroom, got undressed and lay on the bed in the dark. And I turned into a black panther. Just like that. My tail swished. My whiskers twitched. It was real. An incredible feeling of power. I don’t know how long it lasted, but then I became a woman.
I felt an extreme need to be cared for. I don’t know how long that lasted either, but then I drifted off to sleep.