Drug: Peganum Harmala & Mimosa Hostilis
Dose: 3,5g P. Harmala and 10g Mimosa
This is a report detailing my and Viaticus’s first Ayahuasca experiment from my point of view.
Ayahuasca is something I’ve wanted to try ever since I first heard of it, since I’ve wanted to experiment with dimethyltryptamine, but Yopo has only left me with a bunch of so-so experiences and I’ve yet to find pure extracted DMT. The unusually long and most likely succesful – not necessarily positive, but succesful – DMT experience promised by the descriptions of this potent South American dream potion sounded like the best way to discover and examine the state this particular psychedelic inflicts upon people to its fullest extent, and the shamanistic nature of both the concotion of the drink and the ritualistic preparation of ingestion by near-mandatory dieting and fasting appealed to me as a way of readying oneself to experience “the other” with an open mind. Both me and my tripping partner H. prepared for the experience as well as one could hope to. We read as many usage reports as we could find, scoured the net for information on monoamine oxidase inhibitors, read through a bundle of recipes and sought different approaches to the ritual of ingestion, all of this so that we could both brew the concotion and ingest it in a way that would be safe and comfortable for us, but also respectful towards the drink itself.
Ayahuasca itself, for those who do not know it, is a relatively simple concept. It is a combination of two plants, one containing the abovementioned monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and the other containing dimethyltryptamine. Both plants are boiled like tea, with some acidic compound added to the water to help the alkaloids part from the plant material, and then drunk either mixed together or separately. For our ‘huasca, we chose to boil the Mimosa Hostilis (the DMT component) three times, for thirty-fourty minutes per boiling, in 0,5 liters of spring water with slightly less than a full tablespoon of vinegar added to it. After each boiling, we poured the liquid through a cloth set in a sift. Then we gathered and scraped the plant matter sludge from the sift and the cloth, poured it back into the pot we used for the brewing, added the next 0,5 liters of water, then boiled it again. To be exact, we never actually let the brew boil, but instead tried to keep it at a temperature as near as possible to boiling without doing so. After the three boilings we poured all the water gathered during the process back into the pot and simmered it until the water level went down to about 0,3 liters. This was done because the less you have to drink of the stuff, the easier it will be to drink it. The syrian rue was boiled for 15 minutes in only a few deciliters of water.
The tripping room was to be my livingroom, the same comfortable space we had used for my first mushroom run. The agreed upon date of the ritual was Saturday 14th 2006, and the plan was for H. to come directly after his Friday night shift to my residence. We had paid attention to our food intake for the last three or four days, eating only vegetables and trying to stay away from any tyramine-containing foods. Alcohol and strong spices were also banned, as well as any kind of sexual behaviour for the last two days before the 0-hour. When I got out of work on Friday, I decided to make the final modifications to the main tripping area in order to maximize the comfort it could provide. I removed the livingroom table, setting it aside in an adjacent bedroom. Then I rolled up the carpet, wanting to have it away from any location where it might have vomit land on it, and in its stead spread two thin mattresses on the floor. I also set two buckets beside the mattresses so that when the (most likely) inevitable purge would come, we wouldn’t have to clean the room later. As planned, H. came to my apartment straight from work. After a curt exchange of howdoyoudos we ate a small bowl of rice each, the last meal for the next 24 hours, and discussed about the coming event for a while before going to sleep.
We woke up at 7am and began the final preparations. We had decided that a shower and a sauna would be a perfect final touch to the purification process started by switching to the MAOI diet several days earlier, so we took turns bathing and watching the Mimosa brew we had begun boiling as soon as we got up. After two hours, the brew was ready, as were we. We quickly boiled the Peganum seeds H. had crushed in a mortar and then poured the brews into four cups, measuring an equal dose of each for the both of us. We took the cups into the living room and decided that without further ado, it was dreaming time.
Our planned method of drinking was to quickly gulp down the P. Harmala brew, then sit down on the mattresses and wait in silence and contemplation for fifteen to thirty minutes. After a time we felt was sufficient would pass, we would get up to fetch the cups containing the Mimosa tea and once again sit down and drink, but instead of chugging it down like the P. Harmala, we would try to sip slowly over time, having heard that this method may alleviate the nausea.
The plan held together remarkably well until we begun drinking the Mimosa. The Harmala brew had tasted bad, but not in a particularly horrible way, the closest description of it probably being water-diluted bile, which is to say that it wasn’t completely disgusting but uncomfortably remniscent of the act of vomiting. The Mimosa was another matter entirely, something akin to bitter, bad coffee with micrograin sand mixed in it. It dries your mouth up something awful and the taste would be an award winner only for people accustomized to eating shit. In retrospect, H. got the mug with more plant matter sludge in it (we tried to keep it out but some got through), which maxed out the terrible taste (at least if his reactions to the tea are compared to mine: nearly puking versus manageable discomfort), but also fueled his trip more. In the future, we will brew the plants the night before the ritual, allowing the teas to sit in the fridge overnight. This technique should help us get rid of most of the sludge as it settles down at the bottom of the container, and the resulting drink should be easier to quaff.
After the less than fun ingestion experience, we once again settled down, becoming quiet as we waited for the first signs of the oncoming trip to manifest. While waiting in anticipation, my stomach stated its disapproval of the teas, but there was no real nausea present. I sat there for about fifteen to twenty minutes, alternating between eyes open and closed, playing the guessing game of “is this feeling a part of it”, when suddely during a meditative eyes closed moment, the spirit of Ayahuasca came calling. First I was in a normal, relaxed state of mind, then unexpectedly I found myself in hyperspace with a myriad of shapes, colours and spaces around me, all accompanied by a peculiar feeling of being propelled forward. The shift was very abrupt, but not frightening at all. Periodically I opened my eyes to see if there were any OEVs present. There were but they were very mild compared to the universe of astonishing beauty I saw every time I closed my eyes. At some point I noticed H. starting to feel very ill. I also felt a bit queasy, but thought I could control it.
H.’s attempt to hold down the brew ended very quickly with him announcing he would go to the bathroom before he had to retch, getting up, then turning around and diving to the nearest bucket just in time before the purge hit him. I observed his purging, asking if he was able to breathe, and after receiving a confirming nod, resumed my journey which seemed to be gaining intensity as I was propelled into higher levels of the unfamiliar and amazingly complex universe. H. got up to visit the bathroom, and while he was away, my slight bodily discomfort turned into a very ill feeling. Instead of regular nausea, this was something far worse, more like a malady that tried to force my voyaging mind back into my body, bringing with it a new emotion: fear. Right then I started doubting whether I could handle what was to come.
I understand that the fear of something going wrong is a big factor in bad trips, and I’ve always wondered why anyone would give in to it. After all, fear will not stop the experience, it will only make things worse. Ayahuasca provided me a very blunt response to the question with an immense body load that made me feel sick to the bone. I felt the questions creep in. “What if I can’t handle this?” “What if this never ends?” I tried to keep the panic out by rationalising that whatever happens, I cannot die and nothing really bad can happen to me as long as I stay on top of things and won’t let the fear ride with me. There would be around four more hours of the trip left, and the idea of spending that time as a gibbering wreck was not very appealing, so I resolved to go with the flow. Unfortunately, while I managed to mostly deal with the terror, the body load kept smashing me down from the incredible heights of ecstasy the potion was driving me into.
Then, from nowhere, almost as if I had been told, I knew I was going to vomit. I opened my eyes to reach towards the bucket I knew was nearby, but the task was nearly impossible since hyperspace followed me from behind my eyelids into the livingroom, displacing everything I saw with kaleidoscopic textures. Just as I positioned the bucket in front of my face my whole field of vision was shattered as the strange spherical things, the geometric patterns and the particle clouds became all I saw. Then I vomited, and the act grounded me, returning my vision to normal.
I had been reluctant to discuss about anything prior to the grounding purge, but afterwards I found myself able to focus on H.’s voice again, and a brief discourse followed. He told me of the wild OEVs he saw during my purge, which to me was surprising since he had purged at least ten minutes before me, and while his run didn’t seem to effect the trip that much, mine brought me down noticeably. After a moment of talking, we both wanted to resume dreaming and once again I closed my eyes to be greeted by the beautiful alien universe. So far the trip had been much less out of my head than my mushroom experience, which left the spiritual dimension of the voyage lacking, but also left me more capable of forming logical thoughts and communicating them.
At some point, the potion itself seemed to suggest that I partake on the cannabis H. had generously provided as a trip trapping. He himself could not smoke it at that time for undisclosed reasons, but had told me to use it as I wished. I decided to follow ayahuasca’s advice and head to the balcony with a loaded bong. The smoking was a welcome break to the exploration, and when I came back inside and sat down, I noticed that Mimosa and Mary, being both divinely pretty and intelligent, were planning on a threesome I would be very happy to be a part of.
Sitting down on the mattresses I closed my eyes and went back to dreaming. This time the hyperspace seemed less cramped, somehow more open, and suddenly I began to hear a sound. For a moment I had been concentrating on the background music I had chosen for today (Sigqan by Troum, a wonderful three-track hallucinogenic drone CDR) wondering how I could make it fit my mood even better, and somehow the act of thinking brought out a musical piece that started playing in my right ear. It was a beautiful drone composition, but randomly the slow progression of synth walls was broken by sudden glitches. White noise, brutal pitch bends, resonance whines, vibratos and a whole cascade of different sounds kept interrupting the piece for .1 to 2 second intervals. The sound was quite interesting and I made a mental note of trying to replicate it with my gear sometime. After the drone track faded away, I was visited by another composition, this time one with aggressive breakbeats, distorted and cut up in almost Xanopticonish way, with constantly varying distortion effects laid on top, the final product sounding very catchy, technical and absolutely brutal. As if these wonderful new ideas were not enough, Mimosa and Mary were kind enough to show me how to make such music step by step on what little gear I have.
After the musical phase passed, I began to receive other ideas. The way ayahuasca worked to bring them out was marvelous by itself. Instead of presenting me some fully cooked crackpot theory, it only gave me a fragment of an idea, and I had to think about it in order to see its full potential, at which point the thought unfolded visually before my eyes. Many of the ideas had a lot to do with universality and communality, which is fascinating since the whole feeling I got from the brew was that it is best taken with someone, not alone. I would not want to be shroom tripping with more than two or three other people, but ‘huasca is different. I would jump at the chance of being able to discuss with many dreaming people at the same time.
One particular thought I remember very well. It was a mental/visual representation of the spreading of innovations. If you’ve ever read marketing theory (that’s a sin that’ll have me paying karmic debt for the rest of my life), various graphs representing different ways of adapting to novel ideas or items is probably nothing new, but the way I saw it was that every innovation a single human makes is not made by choice, it is made as a part of a process that encompasses the whole of our species. Like a bee finds new flower pastures for his hive to ensure its survival, we create new ideas to not only survive, but evolve ourselves, and it is crucial that these ideas spread. We attribute important ideas to the people who brought them out into the open, for example the atomic theory is attributed to Einstein and the theory of gravity to Newton, but instead of being individual innovations, the people who devised them are only channels for the information, not its source. A novel idea is like a plant that grows from a seed until it is big enough to encompass all of humanity. This plant lets its pollen drift away in the wind until it settles down on another individual, from whom a new plant might grow. We infect others with our ideas in a very viral scheme, but there is nothing bad about it. That is what we are meant to do, and it is not something to take pride in, because we are only nature’s automatons performing a collective task which is too great to comprehend. Graciously we have been awarded individuality so that we could believe in freedom of choice because we believe to be in charge of our actions, but a singular human is insignificant from the perspective of whatever set us to this task.
At some point, a clear comedown was evident. When the dreams started to fade I began to talk with H. about our experiences. Clearly, his trip had been stronger and more introvert as he told me that when the potion’s effects first manifested, he felt like he was slapped in the face with a sack of his own problems in the manner of “this is your shit, deal with it!” My trip had been more peaceful and exploration-oriented. He also told me that he had briefly encountered someone in the hyperspace, a man approximately 30 to 40 years old, slightly overweight, looking like your typical hippie. They did not have a conversation, but I thought the experience was fascinating, and in fact before he told me this I had been walking around in the same dimension thinking that it would be awesome to meet someone here. Another thing worth noting was that we had both experienced very strong glitches in our hearing at some point of our trips. The glitches were like powerful static or electrical noise that for less than a second at a time muffled over every other sound in the room.
The sum total of our first ayahuasca journey was definitely positive. It was a powerful experience, but one we want to do again sometime, with the real Vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi) instead of P. Harmala. In the mean time, I think I want to study the communal aspect of hallucinogens further, since it seems ripe with all kinds of interesting possibilities.