An Episode of Magic Mushroomery by Peter Bergson
Seventy magic mushrooms of the strand known as Liberty Cap, or Psilocybe Semilanceata, is considered a high dose for one man. But as the limit considered potentially fatal is proximate to a dose outnumbering a million, fear is not of death but of another undiscovered country – a country inhabited by foreigners occult, angelic, insectoid, alien, absurd, animal, and generally outrageous. This report is a travelogue.
On quite an empty stomach I ingested the seventy apostles, 'sending them forth as lambs in the midst of wolves' – as a gospel would have it. After twenty minutes my pupils had already dilated to saucer proportions and my body seemed to weigh a third less than usual. As this effect affected me so soon, anxiety set in. But this time I quickly objectified it, trying to observe rather than suffer it. And thereafter it left me alone to enjoy what was to come.
I began to stare at a plain yellow but large lampshade. Its duotone texture organised itself into a depth of some inches with streams or vegetation twirling therein. I then noticed faces, most memorably of a goat or nasty demon peering through to me. Then I noticed another area of the lampshade where stood a bearded fisherman in a factory before a conveyor belt. His arms were outstretched to the belt, but what I considered to be particularly funny was his look: one of wide-eyed shock. I laughed uncontrollably as if I were mad – but I was mad. Certainly a third person watching me stare at a plain lampshade and laugh hysterically would agree with that diagnosis. I do not know why I saw him as a fisherman as there were no boats, sea or fish associated with him, but a fisherman was he.
My body weight now seemed to match that of a lunar walker, my mind of a lunatic. I floated to the sofa where my real space trek was to begin. I closed my eyes and covered them with my hands. Though the visuals one has with eyes open are certainly bizarre here, the visuals with eyes closed go beyond the bizarre to the sublime. The concept of the 'sublime', as often compared to the 'beautiful', especially in Enlightenment-era literature, is one that is felt often when under this magic spell. Immanuel Kant's notion of the sublime is that of a feeling of magnitude when confronted with vast expanses that overwhelm the mind. In usual reality, our country, such feelings accompany the perceiving of the starry heavens, the open ocean, and other such things.
An incident of the sublime began on that sofa: I (metaphysically) was softly falling through a gigantic tunnel that had a diameter of miles, a tunnel that was filled with golden cloud somewhat reminiscent of candyfloss. Next to the tunnel was a similar but smaller tunnel that was somehow to the upper left of my vision. Certainly I experienced the sublime but it was combined with a feeling of supreme warmth and bliss. I felt as if I were in a channel that transported people between the different celestial cities found in a heaven. Although not a theist by trade, I received more religious imagery than this transportation infrastructure. At another point in time – time which had slowed down, broadened out, gone backwards and returned to me again later in itself – an imposing cliff face, or something similar, had violently cracked open two crevices which formed The Cross. It was an aggressive display of power, as if one of my strong doubts had manifested itself after years of neglected abuse. The vastness of this cross was again sublime but threatening. A Christian would indubitably see this as a sign of his creed's truth. I did not as I was to see many other creeds' symbolisms as well. Their mutual exclusivity barred any single interpretation from certitude.
More noteworthy to me was a sturdy ram's head forcing itself into my total periphery of vision, a ram who did not quite dare face me, as if the beast were somewhat shy despite his power. He had spiralling horns which were not at all of the type of moving psychedelic spirals I otherwise often saw. Soon though the ram becomes more sinister, I see The Baphomet: the occult diagram of the dark lord, the devil, with goats-head, wings, human torso and goats' legs hooved encircled by the inverted pentacle. I try to communicate with this deity, but to no avail, he was silent. I felt no fear, only wonderment.
Apart from awe-inspiring visions of immense magnitude and complexity, another experience of note was that of encountering a number of feelings or emotions that I had never before experienced. These feelings were overwhelming but as they are not common to mankind no words exist which refer to them. They were neither pleasant nor unpleasant; they were distinct from these feelings but nonetheless overbearing. I cannot even remember them as I have no concept to use for retrieval, but I do remember having them. Perhaps the feelings we commonly have are fit for evolutionary and daily purposes, but it is possible these are not at all exhaustive of what are possible for our minds.
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