Saturday, August 23, 2008

Psilocybin On The Horizon

Well, it feels like I’m past due on adding another blog entry. My number one fan and number one critic has been indicating that my blog posts are too long for normal human consumption. She’s probably right but that doesn’t mean I’ll be successful in getting any shorter.

Sitting down to do this without anything in mind to write about can make this difficult. So why not just talk about what I’ve been thinking about or what I’ve found interesting lately. That is actually pretty easy and can be summed up with one word: Psilocybin. No, that is not a prescription asthma medication.

This is a topic that some may find disturbing or upsetting but bear with me here. This is something that I’ve been vaguely interested in for a number of years. Blame Carlos Casteneda, Aldous Huxley,native American culure, my own curiosity for interior exploration, and now…Johns Hopkins University. The last one might just be the one that tips the scales on this for me.

Okay without further ado let’s get to what the hell I’m talking about. The latest thing to pique my interest on this subject is this article here (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=long-trip-magic-mushrooms). If you can, read that before reading the rest of this blog entry.

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in – and God I hate saying this – “magic mushrooms”. Over the past few weeks I have done a ton of research into psilocybin and mushrooms, mostly sparked by this latest study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and I am absolutely struck by how similar the after effects and psychological changes evoked by psilocybin are to what I have experienced through years of meditation. It’s uncanny. There’s the whole oneness with the universe thing, and the feeling of being smack in the middle of eternity, the inter-connectedness of all life, the importance of love, and much much more. This “drug” seems to, in general, have an enormously positive effect on people. It’s true that’s not always the case but there are a number of factors that are involved that can determine how a psilocybin experience will go.

Before moving on let me just state for the record that I have never personally taken a psilocybin journey.

Yes, it’s illegal; which, after what I have learned is pretty absurd. But then again I think it’s absurd that marijuana is illegal. (And I hate marijuana.) If you look back on the history of psilocybin in America it’s easy to see why they outlawed it. Let’s just say the hippies might have ruined it for the rest of us. Folks, I’m glad you busted us out of the hypocrisy of the status quo but life is sure about a hell of a lot more than just ‘feelin’ good’. With that being said I’d like to also thank the hippies for all the great music and the very real contribution they made to human development in America and possibly worldwide. There was most definitely some good there.

Sidenote: My number one fan and number one critic thinks I’m a hippie. No thank you. I have no desire to run naked through the woods tripping on LSD. And Alan Ginsberg? I’ve tried but I just don’t feel it. Must have been one of those things where you had to be there. I don’t know.

Some interesting facts about psilocybin: It is physically impossible to become addicted to it. By any reasonable standard it’s impossible to overdose on because you’d have to eat like 16 pounds of mushrooms to get poisoned. (16 pounds of anything would kill you.) It’s significantly less harmful to the body than alcohol, nicotine, and tobacco. It’s been used in spiritual/religious ceremonies by Indian and other native cultures for thousands of years. Most of the participants in the Johns Hopkins study report that their experience was one most meaningful of their lives and still report positive changes in their sense of well being 14 months later when they were questioned in the follow up study. Also, psilocybin is currently the only thing offering any significant relief to these horrible headaches that dwarf the discomfort of a migraine called cluster headaches.

In my own personal research I’ve read hundreds of “trip reports” and have been amazed at what I have found. Very powerful and life changing psychological breakthroughs seem to be quite common. People have stopped the use of drugs or alcohol completely as the result of a mushroom experience. They’ve reconciled with their parents or other estranged loved ones, realized their innate worth as a human being and discovered the importance of compassion and the beauty of life.

Personally I’m starting to think that we ought to hand this stuff out to kindergarteners. (Just kidding)

It is true that people occasionally have “bad trips” that are terrifying and stay with them for a long time. It’s also sad but true that a lot of the people who would do this kind of thing are just your average druggies looking for a cheap thrill or escape from reality.
But…there is a positive aspect to this substance than cannot be ignored or feared out of ignorance. I am open to the possibility that it may very well play an important role in our journey but there are some major caveats to that. Primarily it’s that something like this would only be approached after a great deal of preparation and with a tremendous amount of respect and the right mind set. I think it could be useful for a sincere seeker who has a desire to dive deeper into themselves and the meaning of life.

I’ve searched high and low on the internet and cannot find one incident of someone being hospitalized or damaged in any lasting way by ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. In fact it’s really hard to find anything bad about them other than the risk of picking the wrong mushrooms and getting sick. Yet another absurdity arises to me that this is illegal and yet alcohol, cigarettes, prozac, and high fructose corn syrup are not.

I’ll wrap it up for now but will probably post a follow up on this subject at some point along the way.

5 comments:

john said...

Hi Ben
Over here we have Pscilocybe semilanceata which is probably different to what you may be considering. You seem to have done a lot of research which is helpful but just in case i have a few things to pass on, bearing in mind that i haven't done them for a while.
Don't do them alone, do them with someone who is experienced.If you haven't done these before it is best to have someone that you really trust and like around either to do them with you which is best as you can share what you're experiencing or to just keep an eye on you to make sure you don't do anything too daft. Personally i would reccommend getting as far out of town as you can as you won't be disturbing other people and it is just much better to be out in nature.I like to walk quite a lot of the time (when it is possible)as i like the outer journey and discoveries as well as the inner ones. when you start coming up on them don't try and fight it in any way cos you can't, you have to go with it. Tripping can be a pretty messy business physically and it is likely that you will laugh rather a lot so you will be covered in tears, snot and sweat and possibly vomit, none of which you will be too bothered about. You may also get stomach cramps and muscle spasms.
I don't know what sort of mushrooms you are thinking of taking but if you haven't done any before it might be a good idea to go for a very small dose to see if it will agree with you , it will give you some idea of the way it is going to go. If you go for a large dose straight away it is going to blow the top of your head off which means that you won't be walking anywhere for quite along time and it will be more internal. Don't do it if are not in a good relaxed frame of mind or have a lot of worries, insecurities or problems. They are certainly life changing but it can be in ways that are not easy to predict, you can see things in yourself and others that you may not like. Depending on how large the dose is the initial rush can be a real rollercoaster where you will find yourself just hanging on but this does pass. The interesting part for me comes after this. It is common here to have a few glasses of cider to loosen up a bit beforehand. There are probably other things which i have forgotten to mention, i'm sure others can help here.Check out Bill Hicks if you haven't allready(seems unlikely). What sort of stuff you take in with you will determine what you get out of it. Good luck and best wishes from us here.

Ben There said...

Wow John, Thank you for all of the good advice. There definitely seems to be a common theme in the information that I come across and what you are saying is right along the same lines as what other people say.

If/when I decide to do this I'd be thinking more along the lines of psilocybe cubensis. You say "over here" several times; do you mind me asking where that is?

john said...

Hi Ben, no i don't mind, i'm in england or the dis-united kingdom or great britain whatever that is or used to be. Mushrooms have always been popular here as they are free and easy to find. It is quite common in autumn to see teenagers out in the country laughing ther heads off and falling over a lot, i'm sure you will have a great time and it won't be anything you forget in a hurry. i don't know about cubensis but i've got a feeling that a lot of mushrooms out there are powerful and best treated with a good degree of respect.The good thing about picking your own is that they are fresh and you can gauge the dosage yourself though i realise that this is not possible for everyone.

Ben There said...

The thought of a bunch of teenagers laughing alot and falling down out in the English countryside conjures up some pretty funny images in my head. Thanks again for the input and for stopping by. And greetings from the United States Of Israel, um, I mean America.

Candycane said...

16 pounds of anything would kill you. LOL