EROWID - The Expanding Mobius Strip - Chad
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Expanding Mobius Strip - Amanita muscaria by Chad
My one and only experience with the fly agaric mushroom occurred approximately 6 years ago but I’m inclined to share it after noticing astonishingly similar reports within these vaults. I hope my account lends credence and authenticity to the experiences previously shared here. I was a junior in college at the time and quite familiar with the standard, readily available American psychedelic repertoire: marijuana, LSD, and psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Intrigued with the potential of a more introspective, less recreational experience, I purchased 30 grams of dessicated Amanita muscaria mushroom caps and set them aside for an upcoming weekend.
Weary of Internet information regarding potency and my research being cursory at best, I decided to eat 1 medium sized cap (~1-2 grams) as a starter dose which I ingested at a party after a day of drinking at a college football game. The dried cap had the texture of a thick stale potato chip and a distinct earthy mushroom flavor: hardly flavorful but easy enough to eat. This produced no perceivable effect. The next night I ingested about 2-3 times as much cap material (~2-6 grams) and within an hour I felt a heavy drowsiness. I sat on my couch and tried to watch television waiting for any additional effects while nodding off to sleep from time to time. Staying awake was difficult. After about an hour of this I concluded the attempt a failure and retired to bed. The next day was Sunday and frustrated with the heretofore weak experiences I decided to consume the entire remains of the bag (~25 grams) in a last ditch effort which I began doing shortly after nightfall. Please forgive my rough temporal estimations as this experience occurred about 6 years ago. As I said before the caps tasted like stale mushroom-flavored potato chips and were easy to eat when they were few. Eating several small caps and the broken remains left in the bag was a more trying task. Since the caps were very dry I had to chew them a lot to break them into pieces small enough to swallow and the taste began to make me nauseous.
I chased each bite with some juice and in a matter of 10 min finished the whole bag. I remained in my bedroom for the duration of the experience because my two roommates were unaware that I consumed the mushrooms and I wanted to keep it that way for reasons that are not worth divulging here. During the first hour the nauseous feeling persisted and only grew in intensity. Along with it the drowsiness increased as well. During this onset period I made frequent trips to the bathroom to vomit and diarrhea – I say “frequent” because I can’t remember exactly how many as my recollection becomes hazy at this point. Over the first hour the desire to crawl into bed and sleep got stronger by the minute and eventually I succumbed. At no point before I fell asleep did I experience hallucinations, visual or audio distortions, or any other hallmark of recreational psychedelics, i.e. LSD or psilocybin. The overwhelming feeling was that of gastrointestinal distress and sleepiness.
What occurred next can best be described as an intense confusing epiphanous dream. The only clear part of the dream was flanked by (what felt like) hours of forgotten dream sleep bespangled with trips to the toilet. Since I can’t remember much of those flanking regions of time I will attempt to describe the central clear spot. The dream was furiously fast and likened to a loop, a cycle, even a Mobius Strip. Within each section of the loop I was presented with some scene, or slide, like a frame on a strip of film. Each scene which unfolded wasn’t very tangible or definable; but that didn’t seem to be the point. The point was the significance of each scene and its apparent effect on my emotional state which was becoming that of a rollercoaster ride. I would react with the most intense horror or ebullience I’ve ever felt. This intensity of emotion felt truer than ever before – like all my feelings in my normal sober waking life were soft betrayals of what I really felt inside, emotional misdemeanors I unconsciously perpetrated against myself .
With each repeat of the loop a new “scene” would be added at the end and I assumed the role of investigator trying to solve the mysterious loop. And as each new scene was added I felt like I became more and more aware of what I was being taught, of what the point of the whole thing was, and I began to feel that the loop was a revelation of some beginning – the beginning of time, or biologically-defined life, or the universe – the whole loop unveiled a history in reverse chronological order. As I became more and more aware with each time around I began to anticipate the last scene with simultaneous anxiety and hope that the last scene would settle all my doubts and fears of God (akin to finding out when you die you will ascend to heaven) or that mankind is doomed to fail miserably and forever remain outside the good graces of God. The last scene came. The final card was turned over. The secret was revealed. I rejoiced in ecstasy. This was the peak of the strange journey.
No more scenes were added to the loop and it began to vanish from my focus. I don’t remember anything more until I woke up late on Monday morning. I felt extremely disoriented. I was in bed and covered with a putrid funk I later concluded was sweat since its olfactory qualities bared little resemblance to any other secretion of the male human body. I could hear what sounded like strange children’s voices outside my window but when I checked I saw no one outside. I was aware that I missed my early class but I could still make my writing class so I decided to get up, shower, get dressed, and go to class. This whole time however I was still very distracted and perplexed about the vivid dream I just had. Thinking about it was hard though, like I just completed a mental marathon and my cortex needed rest. I was functioning on autopilot. I had no problem getting on the bus, walking on campus, or attending class but my real faculties were elsewhere: like they hadn’t returned from the mysterious epiphany yet. One thing I should mention is that before I left for class I spoke to one of my roommates briefly and he later described me as very despondent. The following day I was completely back, 100% normal.
My interpretation of the Amanita experience is undoubtedly shaped by my own religious and scientific preconceptions. Unlike many psychedelic space cadets I don’t have any delusions that drugs will necessarily expand my mind or grant me license to talk to God or enable me to heal or see the future. My interest in biological science since college had led me to pursue a PhD in neurobiology so I have a background in how many psychoactive substances exert their effects on the brain. Sensory derangement has always been a subject of great curiosity for me. With that being said I’m also a practicing Roman Catholic with a traditional view of faith (though my attitude towards mend-bending drugs may cause one to argue otherwise!). As I reflect on my experience I can’t help but wonder if my preconceptions helped shape the experience and its interpretation; in other words maybe I saw what I wanted to see. If a Siberian shaman 2000 years ago chose to eat Amanita mushrooms in order to heal his tribe I can see how he may interpret his experience as one of learning. This is evident in my inability to recall specific events or scenes in the dream but rather how the dream made me feel: like some great important knowledge was being bestowed upon me. Conveniently the actual knowledge remains obscured but the ride of receiving it is indelible.
In conclusion the fly agaric mushroom is not for the casual psychedelic user. Its effects are hardly recreational and the gastrointestinal distress it causes is enough to prevent me from using it again. I admit the introspection was interesting but dubious as well. I’m not convinced my experience was genuinely spiritual. Upon reflection the great knowledge imparted to me remains esoteric though I see the potential to romanticize this type of experience and understand its fascination.