Heywood, Rosalind - The Infinite Hive - My consciousness fled away into a stupendous inner world
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Rosalind Heywood – The Infinite Hive
To escape feeling self-conscious about my visions I shall not write from memory but from a tape recording made when I was under the drug and from notes dictated before I was entirely back to normal. In that state the experient has no inhibitions about what he describes. I even forgot how embarrassing it is for a more or less sophisticated Englishwoman to talk about Love in an idealistic fashion - quite apart from the variety of phenomena covered by that elastic word.
I was given mescalin in 1952 by a doctor who was studying model psychoses in a search for a cure for schizophrenia. Mr Huxley's book, The Doors of Perception, had not come out, hallucinogens were not yet fashionable, and I had no idea what to expect. Though early training helped me to conceal it, I was in a blue funk.
The basic difference between my experiences and Mr Huxley's is that for him the outer world was altered and transfigured, whereas for me it became extremely drab and boring.
My consciousness fled away into a stupendous inner world where years of experience passed between the utterance in the outer world of one word and the next, where time and space seemed interchangeable and where my surroundings were more ever-moving than the Bay of Biscay in a storm. This is in line with some exclamations made by Mrs Willett when she felt herself drawn into the world of her ostensible communicators.
'I'm all with things flitting past me,' she cried, and again soon afterwards. 'How nothing time is! All human experience is one.'
That sense of oneness was the core of my experience. The doctor asked me if, when I found one thing taking the place of another, I could see the connections between the two; to which I replied contemptuously, 'It's quite simple. They are the same thing. It's seeing from the middle, you see.'
And yet, paradoxically, I found myself in a world of fabulous colour, a thousand times more vivid and varied than a kingfisher's feathers or tropical flowers or the Crown Jewels. The nearest I have seen to it in the outer world is the west window of Chartres cathedral with the afternoon sun shining through it.
The experience of fantastic colour under hallucinogens is well known, and some people who have had ESP-type experiences about mundane matters have had it spontaneously. I did so myself for a fleeting moment when I appeared to climb out of my body up a Chopin Ballade. Under mescalin this phase culminated for me in a blinding flash of illumination, white beyond all colour, and, so it seemed at the time, spiritual as well as aesthetic. But I was soon brought back to earth by the doctor asking, ‘Which were the most pleasant of the images you have just seen?'
Pleasant! What a drivelling little word to use, I thought.
Every time the doctor called me back I had the same sense of diving down from real life into dirty mud that I had had as a girl when waking up from sleep. But then I could not remember what I had left. Now I could.
So too could Mrs Millett when coming out of a spell of dissociation during which she appeared to visit her discarnate friends. 'It's just like waking up in prison when one has been at home' she said.
'Don't you ever walk out of yourself? It's heavenly to be out of oneself - when I'm everything you know, and everything else is me.'
To walk out of oneself - perhaps the most splendid of all experiences. It can happen, too, in the world of sense, to children entranced by a new discovery; to workers in a group and players in a team; to artists transferring a vision to words or notes or canvas; and also to performers, musicians, actors, athletes, whenever the play, the music, the race, the game – the Other - in itself becomes all in all and one's own little self is utterly forgotten. For me under mescalin this experience was at times complete.
My body vanished. My ego vanished. I lived in the things that I became aware of.
That, of course, does not have to be all jam. ….. I had always known what sensitives meant when they said that hatred pierced them like a spear and love was a warm and shining light. Now I knew still better.
(How many children are sensitive in this way? How many feel suffocated by the anger, open or repressed, of their grown ups?)