When I was in my late teens, I had my first–and last for a long time–experiences with LSD and mushrooms. Some friends of mine and I did LSD one night at a hippie retreat of sorts in the early 80s. We danced in a group setting, laughed, saw pretty colors and, overall, had a lovely time. Then one night, out in San Francisco, we drank mushroom tea and walked around, again laughing, seeing pretty colors and having a good time.
But that time in my life was also a time when the center of me, my equilibrium, was not something I knew how to find with ease. And after a number of years of drinking, generally wild behavior and finding myself in all sorts of situations, many of which weren’t terribly safe or self-respecting, I felt it was time to chill on all of that a bit. With that change of mind, out went any interest in psychedelics.
Then, a good 30 years later, at Burning Man and walking with our whole camp over to the Man Burn, a camp member turned to me and said, “Do you want some acid?” And my internal guide resoundingly, and surprisingly, said YES!
The timing was great. I’d popped the acid-laden Sweetart in my mouth, and soon after, I noticed as the fireworks shot in the sky and the Man burn started, that everything was remarkably more beautiful. And it got just prettier yet. That night I danced, laughed, saw pretty things, had some rather dark moments, saw the sun rise for the first on the desert horizon at Burning Man and, essentially, felt that I had opened a door through which I wanted to walk and explore beyond.
I was, at 48, a novice in the world of psychedelics, curious with a healthy dose of wariness.
My second experience that helped me fall in love with psychedelics was at a Burning Man regional festival with friends. I knew a particular friend of mine did mushrooms and such, but she never seemed wacky or whacked out, which was my overwhelming concern with these substances. I was afraid I’d be so lost that I wouldn’t be me.
One morning, she offered a small group of us at the camp a cookie, one of her specialties. An “edible” in cannabis parlance: A tasty cookie made with cannabis butter. We sipped Bloody Mary’s as the effects of the cannabis came on, went exploring, took some molly at some point, had some chocolates infused with mushrooms, did whippets and had a little more molly. Perhaps my order of the events is off. It was a while ago.
The main thing I experienced — besides thoroughly enjoying my day — was that I didn’t get sloppy. I wasn’t out of control. I was having an intensely enjoyable experience but I never went overboard, nor did I crash and burn. It was, I felt, a very adult, mature, balanced experience with psychedelics and other drugs.
This made me more curious, more trusting, more ready.
I knew that I had developed my center more deeply since my late teen days, that I could traverse greater territory mentally, physically, emotionally and psychedelically, and that I could find my way back to me.
I also realized that a lot of the judgement I had in years prior about drugs — and particularly psychedelics — was really my own fear about my own imbalances and lack of centeredness. Now, I welcome the opportunity to explore. I welcome the opportunity to expand. I welcome the opportunity to know myself better through the gifts of psychedelics in many forms.