Turning on, Tuning in, and Desperately Wishing You Could Change the Channel

[Editor’s note: This is a work of fiction. We here at Traditions of Conflict do not endorse the use of any illegal substances.]

My mom had died about six months ago and I decided I wanted to try LSD again. I had experimented with ‘mushrooms’ a couple years back—as an aside, I am not sure what species they were, though I want to believe they were P. cubensis—and the mushroom trip was my first and only unambiguously positive drug experience. Colors were bright and I could ‘see’ music in the air when it played. I kept telling myself I gained some deep insight into the human condition as well, or whatever, but looking back it’s possible that’s bullshit.

Anyway, a couple months after the mushrooms, I had my first experience with LSD and it was a giant disappointment. I took a tab my roommate procured for me, and after about 40 minutes I felt really hot and my heart started beating uncomfortably fast, and this lasted for maybe an hour or two, but that was about it. I did see some cool swirly patterns in the headboard of my bed for about 15 minutes, though. I figured it was a bad batch, or me and my roommate got swindled or something.

I suppose the Salvia trip is also worth mentioning. I smoked a bowl of high-potency stuff once (maybe 200x, I think. Extreme shit.) and it was a mercifully brief nightmare. About 10 seconds after the hit I already forgot I had taken the drug. I felt like I was strung vertically on a rotisserie, slow rotating as my body gradually disappeared, starting with my legs and moving upwards, as I heard some malicious entity in the background laughing at me. By the time everything but my head had disappeared, and I started panicking, the laughter had stopped and I quickly came out of it. Apparently right after taking the hit I stood up and started slowly spinning around while my roommate was sitting on the couch laughing at me. Once it became clear I was flipping out he stopped laughing and steadied me grabbing my shoulder. Good guy, my roommate (let’s call him Brian).

Back to the LSD. The problem was neither Brian or I knew anyone who was able or willing to get us any. Nor could we find any mushrooms. We weren’t the most popular guys around (at least, I wasn’t) so we decided to consider alternatives.

The thing about LSD is that it is an ergoline derivative, and you can find similar, naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloids in a variety of flower species. We decided to use seeds from a species of the morning glory flower and make a tea out of them, just as the Aztecs used to. You can even read a description of the effects of consuming the drug in the Florentine Codex, where it is written that, “It makes one besotted; it deranges one, troubles one, maddens one, makes one possessed. He who eats it, who drinks it.”

“This reproduction of one of the murals depicting the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan from the Tepantitla apartment complex located at Teotihuacan is in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.” Archaeologist Peter Furst  argues  that the mural depicts the morning glory vine.

“This reproduction of one of the murals depicting the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan from the Tepantitla apartment complex located at Teotihuacan is in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.” Archaeologist Peter Furst argues that the mural depicts the morning glory vine.

Anyway, Brian and I went to down to some flower shop I can’t remember the name of and purchased the morning glory seeds—in this case I do indeed remember the exact species we chose, but will keep it vague as I would rather reduce the likelihood of anyone attempting to replicate my method here.

Though I suppose some description is probably necessary: we were concerned about pesticides so we washed the seeds thoroughly, then put them in an empty pepper grinder and ground up about 1000 or so seeds and made the tea. There was a bit more to it than that, but I’ll leave it here.

Brian didn’t drink any of the tea (he was the less reckless one between us), but I did not hesitate. After drinking it I went into my room alone and lied down on my bed, waiting for the trip to start.

I can’t remember how long it took but the first sign I was tripping was exactly the same as it was with the LSD: I started feeling really hot and my heart started beating really fast. I stayed calm and soon I started having this intense feeling like I was dreaming, even though I knew I was awake. It began to feel like a bunch of noise was moving around inside my head in the form of a giant wave. At first, I found it fascinating and exhilarating, despite having little understanding of what was going on.

Gradually though the wave become louder and more aggressive, and I realized it was the voice of my mother screaming incomprehensibly at me inside my head.

I knew this was impossible, not necessarily because another person cannot scream at you inside your own head, but because she was dead. All I could think about at this point was the fact that she was dead, and she was screaming at me, and I didn’t understand what she was saying, and she wouldn’t stop. I remembered how hot I felt and how fast my heart was beating, so I took my clothes off and ran into the shower, blasting the water as cold was possible. I stood there under the cold water for maybe 10-20 minutes uncomprehendingly listening to my mom screaming and feeling like the water was barely cooling down my burning skin.  

I’d step out of the cold shower, feel excessively hot again, and step back in the shower again, and I think did that three or four times.

At some point I realized the only time I didn’t hear the screaming is when I took deep inhalations. I frantically smoked the rest of the weed from my pipe, and then puffed the cigar we had planned to break down for a blunt, but this only offered minor and temporary alleviation. (Anecdotally, this experience made think there is perhaps something to this idea).

Anyway, about two hours into the trip and my heart still feels like it’s beating out of my chest. I’m not hot anymore but now I can’t stop shaking, and the screams continued unabated. I was panicked and delusional and thinking maybe it would be a good idea if I walked out into the street and got hit by a car, if only to stop the screaming.

I’m not even sure how much it was the screaming itself so much as the fact that I couldn’t understand her. She was in and out of psychiatric hospitals when I was a kid and we were somewhat estranged before she died. I wanted to know what she wanted to tell me.

I went into the living room, told Brian I was flipping out, that my heart was racing and I couldn’t stop shaking—though I did not mention the screams—and he said he would drive me to the hospital. We went to his car and by the time I was seated and we were rolling I already felt like I was coming down, I was no longer shaking and the screams had subsided, but my heart was still beating excessively fast and I was paranoid enough to continue on to the hospital.

Of course, by the time I got to the hospital and they checked me out it was clear I was perfectly fine. I just lost it and embarrassed myself. I’m pretty sure even the shaking was just due to me standing under freezing water for like 40 minutes. The condescending looks and lectures by the nurses and doctor were well-deserved. I didn’t have health insurance at this time either. A few weeks later I got the four-digit bill. A thousand dollars to be told you’re fine and you’re an idiot.

Nonetheless I learned a valuable lesson: in any endeavor you decide to undertake, first consider the response you may receive, and ask yourself if it is worth it.

Because you may hear the disappointed cries of those you failed and will never see again.

Although, to be fair, the “never see again” part is not quite true, is it? Because I have seen my mom, multiple times, since that trip. But only in Los Angeles. That’s a topic for another time, though.

Anyway, this happened six years ago, and I still think about it every day.

[To be continued in Chapter 2]