Some people say that marijuana is a "gateway" drug, leading to harder and more noxious substances, and this is why you should never smoke pot - not because cannabis is so bad on its own, but because of the company it introduces you to. But what if your first "intoxicating" substance were psychedelic mushrooms? Well, that was my case, and no one can say to me that this or that drug was my bait leading to harder and stronger chemicals. This is because my first experience into altered states was my strongest. Except for maybe salvia divinorum, but that's another story and not nearly as interesting of an experience as were my psilocybian adventures. I must have ate between a half- and a full-ounce of dried shrooms my first time out. That's what was in the brown paper bag - I didn't know what I was doing.
I was 16 and had never smoked a cigarette, been drunk, or gotten high. My friends were experimenting with LSD and I wanted to get a taste of what they were describing to me, but I felt that shrooms were more "natural" and a good first encounter. I ate these crunchy aliens on the 4th-of-July, many moons ago, and life was forever, um, different. As twilight settled in and the first fireworks were popping off in the horizon, I sat on the stoop of my childhood home and noticed that the world was changing right before my eyes. Innocence lost. The first wave was rolling in, and as I submerged under it I was seeing everything as if for the first time. A crazy night ensued, and then a wild life afterwards which is still unfolding and fractating and becoming. Since that night, I've been on many a psychedelic adventure, often with dosages that most mortals don't dare approach. Although the trips are few and far between as I age and have to handle adult responsibilities I am adamant that these experiences are among the most valuable a human can encounter.
My first psychedelic readings were books lent to me by my magical childhood friend Kai - books written by Timothy Leary. The Politics of Ecstasy and all that. A fine starting place, but it was Terence McKenna that really grabbed my attention later on. Foods of The Gods. True Hallucinations. And the early internet had audio and video of this elf-like creature mesmerizing his audience with a voice and cadence that are unparalleled. A one of a kind. I was in a hot-tub in Florida, year 2000, when I was told that he had passed away. Dang. I felt loss. The guy really made an impression on me and millions of others. He started the obsession over the whole 2012 thing. He created the underground psychedelic mushroom movement. In fact, in the 90's I ordered a spore-print (a microscope slide with Psilocybe cubensis spores on it) from the company he co-founded called Botanical Dimensions. Back then the spore-syringe method was not known to the masses and to grow your own shrooms you had to conduct some amateur scientist operations. The full instructions were outlined in the book he wrote with his brother Dennis under the pseudonyms O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric - Psilocybin: A Magic Myshroom Growers Guide. Thankfully, later on clever monkeys developed what was known as the P.F. Technique, and shroom cultivation was made much easier.
Before my first trip into pyschedelia, before initiation, I had no idea of how varied the conscious experience of being human could be. Sure, sometimes you get tired, or happy, or sad, or whatever, but normal consciousness is basically one flavor of mental state. Unless you are clinically-diagnosable in the DMV (the handbook which details the various mental "diseases"), waking thought does not diverge so much as it can when under the trance of mind-altering chemicals. Even if you meditate in a cave for years or dance for 24-hours straight to jungle drums or melt in a sweat-lodge, you will likely not reach the levels of weirdness attainable with things like shrooms, or with DMT - another of Terence's favorite thought vehicles. But here's the kicker - we all DO enter enchanted and malleable mind-environs in dreams. And for those of us who lucid dream, we have discovered a magical, if personal and solitary, world of possibilities that are even unmatched by most any drug grown from the earth or lab-manufactured. And even the hero of psychedelia - Terence McKenna - never got to experience this most unusual terrain. According to the man himself. That is a crazy thought to me: This champion of the weird and impossible never got to experience what you and I can do tonight! He would have loved it. Maybe you can evoke an avatar resembling Terence McKenna in one of your lucid dreams and share this experience with his likeness. After all, in dreams, the dead are not barred.