Psilocybe Cubensis. A psychoactive mushroom, oftentimes found growing out of cow manure. Contains the chemicals Psilocybin, which metabolises to Psilocin in the body and loves to act on the serotonin receptors in the brain. Often called "magic mushrooms". Now, of all places to locate a large paddock of cows, with opportune growing potential for these fungi, why the hell did they put it at the back of a large all-boys boarding school? I don't know, but me and my mates sure were appreciative. Maybe at times a bit too appreciative.
Let's talk about my bad trip.
Now, it was the first or second night back in boarding. Grade 10 I think. I had returned from holidays with my first psychoactive experience fresh in memory. As far as I knew, these mushrooms brought only boundless joy and euphoria to an individual, and no bad could come from their repeated and frequent use.
Boy, was I about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.
My friend "The Bird" had been harvesting mushrooms that day, and as the afternoon came he approached me with five or six large golden-top mushrooms. I was eager to begin tripping, and downed them as fast as I could. You see, I was yet to learn the golden rule of psychoactives: set & setting.
Set refers to your mindset. With psychoactives being a mood enhancer, one quickly learns the right mindset for tripping. If one is in a good mood, they will be in a better one, if one is in a bad mood, then will be in a worse one. Easy to understand, yeah?
Anyways, setting refers to where you actually are. Usually to trip you want a nice relaxed atmosphere, with not too many people around and nothing to stress you out. Therefore, a person can have a fun or relaxing trip.
Well uh, my set and setting wasn't the best. My set: just gotten to school, slightly homesick, worried that I was going to get caught on mushrooms. Setting: in a dormitory, with supervisors and rules ever-present.
Within half an hour of eating the mushrooms, I was tripping balls. Sitting in the dining hall, all I could see was my spaghetti twirling around on my plate, like a bunch of worms fighting for territory in the earth. Drinking green cordial made me imagine of slime, dripping down my throat like the sloppy excrement of a Steven Spielberg creation. Pudding, chocolate mousse. Need I say what that reminded me of?
Once I finished dinner, I practically ran to our smoking spot, with the ground swaying beneath me like some sort of nightmarish roller coaster. Upon lighting a cigarette, I could imagine every individual molecule of poison and tar making it's way into my lungs and bloodstream, coagulating and forming pits of cancerous cells in my body.
This wasn't going well.
When I returned to the dorm, I realised I had a roll call. Jesus Christ, I thought to myself, this was fucking brutal. A mindfuck on a scale that I couldn't even comprehend anymore. Sitting down in the common room, the floor rushed up to meet my face. An eerie orange hue appeared to coat everyone around me, like a bad fake tan, reminiscent of the Jersey Shore cast. But I was still my normal colour, what was happening to me?
The worst was yet to come.
Sitting in my room during the allocated study period, I pulled myself together. A bit. I decided to do my homework, where I had to write a detailed description of what a ritual is. Let's just say, I found my schoolbook outside my window the next day with the words "A ritual is a certain set of practice-fuuuuuuuck this brooo, I'm tripping balls fuck this." with several "sad faces" and weird Escher-esque drawings underneath. Last time I try homework on shrooms.
After study, I raced out again for another cigarette. By this point in time I was convinced that I was the last sane person on the planet after a semi-apocalyptic situation where evil spirits had found their way into people's heads and turned them into zombies. Everyone was my enemy, so I had to move in the shadows to avoid detection. Once I got back to my bed I hid underneath the covers for about 3 hours in order to protect my brain.
If you've never had a bad trip, it's impossible to imagine what it's like. It's like every bad feeling you've ever experienced, any amount of grief, anger or loss, comes back and is concentrated into a few hours in your brain. The terror is indescribable. While trying to hide myself under the covers of my bed from the evil spirits flying around my room, this was going on in my brain. Eventually, I decided I needed another cigarette.
Walking through the dorm with just the eerie glow of the emergency exit lights showing you the way is a very strange experience while you're tripping. The whole time I was walking, I was calm and in control. But suddenly, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, as if I could sense someone or something watching me. I turned around and looked along the corridor, and saw a... thing, a shadow, a spirit, whatever you want to cal it - racing towards me. I stood there in shock while it just raced into me, and as it hit me all I could feel was cold. And with the cold came sadness, a wave of emotions racing over me like the shadowy blackness of whatever it was I had seen. So I continued on out to the verandah and rolled a cigarette.
And while I smoked, I cried. I cried and I cried, for everything and anything I'd ever done wrong. For the people I'd hurt, deliberately or not, I cried. Until there was not a tear left, I cried.
It's an odd experience, crying on a whim like that. But the next morning when I woke up, I knew I wasn't the same, but I definitely felt better. I felt like I had acquired some form of greater knowledge, maybe not in academic terms, but in life terms. After that night, I knew more about myself than I had ever imagined.