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Observations placeholder

Consciousness Undulated - Capsicum spp. & Alcohol – EROWID



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Consciousness Undulated - Capsicum spp. & Alcohol – Hard - by Fer SOURCE EROWID

We traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to participate in the 2004 Mind States conference and I wrote this report a couple weeks after we returned home for the November 2004 issue of Erowid Extracts newsletter.

I drank a lot in Oaxaca, and that meant eating a lot of peanuts. As a standard practice, bars serve free plates of salted Spanish peanuts mixed with garlic and whole dried chiles, accompanied by wedges of lime to squeeze on top. I enjoyed one of my first plates of peanuts sitting in the zocalo (main square) on the eve of Mexican Independence Day, a festive unto chaotic free-for-all of rowdy partiers blowing cardboard horns and spraying shaving cream.

With eight of us crowded around a table meant for two, I launched into my third hearty glass of mezcal, reaching again for the peanuts but instead picking up a chile. I examined it closely-- whole, dried, red, seeds still intact--and touched my tongue to its surface--ouch! Wow, that’s hot! Then I nibbled the end. Wow, damn! That’s really hot!

Chalk it up to the mezcal, or the riotous atmosphere, or the siren song of the altered state, but that’s when I determined to eat the entire chile. Another small nibble, and sweat began to bead on my forehead. A third, and a fourth, in quick succession, crazy spicy capsaicin heat spreading through my mouth, rendering me unable to speak. My friends noticed I’d started to drift off into some distant world of my own, realized my intent with the chile, and laughed heartily at the red-faced shock into which my face had contorted. My mouth on fire, tongue numb, lips burning, water only a reminder of the lava-like intensity permeating my entire consciousness, I realized that the only path toward achieving my goal lay in quick, decisive action. And so--chomp, chomp, chomp--I finished the thing off before my reasoning mind took hold.

Everything shimmered, the world a chimera, like watery looking heat rising off midsummer too-hot-to-walk-on concrete. My consciousness undulated painfully, and the raucous, festive scene, my friends’ conversation, and the bustling restaurant faded into the distance, there but not there. With the edge of my awareness, I knew that my friends watched and laughed, knew the revelry continued around me, knew a world existed outside the inferno in my mouth.

Sitting as still as I possibly could, lips rounded, I blew quickly in and out, attempting to circulate air through the fiery tidbit of hell I’d created, that action and the shimmer of internal heat my only points of existence. After several minutes (or was it years?), I felt the outside world returning in slow, pulsating, burning waves. Almost as painful as leaving my body, returning meant feeling the chile’s full force again.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Sensory overload


Chili peppers