Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength - Ralph Sockman
Psychedelics: again the pilgrimage - current experience, high dose
"No man was ever wise by chance." Lucius Seneca
"My house having burnt down, nothing now impedes my bright vision of the moon." Zen saying
Again the pilgrimage/What to bring?/Humility, innocence, curiosity ... /Respect, courage, love ... / Dedication ... of course to/Something so much bigger/Except ... the me and bigger/Are maybe not so separate/ Empty-handed, receptive/Open to learn & to blessing./Then contracting again into this world/A pilgrim with wiser eyes.
It makes good sense, when embarking on a high-dose psychedelic journey, to have a clear intention of why one is going on this pilgrimage. The previous post in this sequence - "Psychedelics: again the pilgrimage - current experience, preparing" - explains how I'm trying to learn more about these high mountains of experience to act as a better guide & advisor for other potential travellers. And for myself there's something here about learning more about love, beauty, gratitude & wonder ... as well as, quite possibly, getting dumped (and then probably learning a lot) in the basement of my subconscious. As Marilyn Vos Savant put it - "To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe."
Three months ago, I took two 44gm psilocybin truffle trips. This is likely to be an unnecessarily high dose when initially exploring psychedelics, so on this Netherlands visit I aimed to take 30gm of truffles (a more classic high dose level to use). I also worked with a different trip sitter (someone to accompany me on the journey and help keep me safe if I hit major problems), and designed my own playlist rather than using one from John Hopkins (as I did last time). Finally, on this Netherlands visit, I wanted also to experience a low-dose trip as well (more on this further journey in the next post).
So this time I took 30gm of truffles ... or more accurately, I took 15gm and then about 70 minutes later took another 15gm. I was using the rather luridly named Cosmic Connectors brand on this occasion. Last time I used the equally technicolour High Hawaiians. The change of brand just went with the change of trip sitter ... I used what they recommended each time. My suspicion is there is probably more variation in psilocybin content from batch to batch within the same brand, than there is routinely variation between different brands. As I wrote on dose in the post "Lessons from current personal experience - suggestions" - "What dose of psilocybin to take? The way I currently see it is that there are at least three factors to keep an eye on when deciding dose. The first is that if one takes the same weight of psilocybin truffles or mushrooms on a number of different occasions, it's very likely that there will be considerable variation in the amount of psilocybin one is ingesting each time. So Pellegrini & colleagues, in their 2013 paper carefully analysing the psilocybin content of truffles, commented "The content of psilocybin was found to vary over a concentration range of 59.3 to 167.8 µg per 100 mg of fresh sclerotia." This is equivalent to a large three-fold range from approximately 6 to 17mg of psilocybin in 10gm of truffle (average maybe 12mg/10gm). Note that Roland Griffiths et al, from the research centre at John Hopkins, used a high dose of psilocybin in their 'mystical experiences' research - 30mg/70kg subject weight equating to an average of 25gm/70kg for truffles. It's worth being aware as well that truffles & mushrooms may also contain other psychoactive substances like psilocin, baeocystin and norbaeocystin (in fact psilocybin acts on the body by being converted to psilocin)."
Lots of variation. So assuming the Pellegrini findings still apply to current truffles on sale in the Netherlands, at the low end of the concentration range the 44gm I took back in March might only have contained about 25mg of psilocybin, while at the high end my 30gm dose on this recent trip could have contained over 50mg. I don't think it's likely that I was at the extremes of the Pellegrini spectrum on either occasion, but it was noteworthy that I actually found my current 30gm of truffles trip more powerful than the 44gm in March. I mentioned three factors to consider when deciding dose. The other two are variation in how individuals metabolise psilocybin (which I suspect would be little different between my March & July trips) and variation in people subjective reactions to the changes psilocybin produces in the body & brain (possibly I was more relaxed & open at this July visit, but again I don't think this was a particularly important variation).
So I suspect there was a surprising difference in psilocybin content per gram of truffles between March & July. That wasn't a big issue, but I was a bit ambushed an hour or so into the trip on a first 15gm dose to find I was in a good deal more turbulence than I had been on the first 22gm dose in March. The turbulence involved strong feelings of pressure in my body and rapid-fire very complex visual images coming at me. It felt a bit like running through thick underbrush with endless branches of leaves continually slapping into my face, or like being on a bucking bronco and only holding on by my fingertips. If this had been my first high-dose experience, I really don't think I would have gone on to take the second 15gm. I did though and I'm very glad I made that decision. Quite quickly I came up into clear air and the trip became extraordinary and immense. What was happening in the turbulence? A metaphor that's been used with psychedelics is a space rocket launch. Coming up through the atmosphere may well be accompanied by much more juddering than when one is free in outer space. Another metaphor is getting caught flying through the treetops rather than being up above them.
A couple of days later when I took a single 15gm dose of the same Cosmic Connector brand (and my brain 5-HT2AR receptors additionally were down-regulated by the high dose I took today), I moved through a more low key version of this same turbulence. With this second lower dose trip, I didn't take an additional further dose but once more by about 80 or 90 minutes I was settling into a much more level serene state. So a likely explanation was simply that at roughly around the hour mark for me on this particular batch of truffles, I reacted a bit to the way my body-mind was being affected at that point in the truffle-absorption journey. Interesting ... and helpful to note that, in this kind of situation, if I just hang in with the difficulty it's likely to change. What I probably could have done 'better' is to have surrendered into the turbulence more, rather than feeling I somehow had to hang onto my sanity. When the ocean tide comes in and lifts us ... float, go with it ... thrashing around typically causes us to swallow more water!
Another difference between the first 44gm trip three months ago and this 30gm trip was that on the first trip I ate all the truffles (and subsequently - post trip - had impressive diarrohea), while on this 30gm trip I took them as a tea (with my gut responding much more comfortably). I think there's an understandable concern that taking truffles as a tea may mean one loses a good deal of their psychoactive effect compared with actually eating the same amount. Again a good learning to experience, if anything, the reverse. This suggests that maybe one loses very little psychoactivity by taking truffles as tea. And actually, maybe the psilocybin is absorbed more quickly from truffle tea than truffle solids. Ah ... this feels more art than science! So to add even another layer of curiosity. There is some suggestion that adding lemon to truffle tea speeds absorption still further ... and I had put a lemon & ginger teabag into my mix.
And what happened?
More to follow ...