by Nick Sun
I didn’t mean to take that much Peyote, but I feel things transpired in such a way to engineer this whole episode happening the way it did, because if I knew that after eating six peyote balls the whole universe was going to break loose on me, cracking my head open like a kinder surprise containing everything and nothing that had ever been, consensus reality collectively breaking down into a pile of weeping diarrhea forming ever-shifting galaxies of abstract petroglyphs that seemed to contain the source code for the underlying superstructure of the cosmos that were so profound that they brought me to the very edge of madness, I probably would’ve said, ‘Get those fucking things the fuck away from me.’
It was the final day of the retreat and I was expecting to have a nice relaxing day sitting around the camp, having a laugh with everyone and integrating the past eight days on a mild dose of cactus. Sometimes one approaches initiations knowingly, with plenty of premeditation and preparation, while other times the initiations take you by surprise and before you know it, you’re balls deep in Crazy Land screaming, ‘Where did all those scary faces on the inside of my eyelids hide my pants?’
‘One ball is meant to be one dose but I took three balls and barely felt anything… Just kind of hungover.’ Plant Leader Man told Taurus and I.
Completely forgetting that Plant Leader Man was a mutant whose standards could not be applied to other people, I decided to eat four balls to start off with. I cut them into swallowable chunks. The last time I ate Peyote I’d eaten maybe 18 teaspoons of the powdered stuff and it was great. In the words of the last Peyotero I’d worked with, another Magik Man who went by the name of Peyote Man — named because if Peyote was ever incarnated as human, he would of looked like Peyote Man. I mean even his head was shaped like a peyote cactus.
‘Some people say that ‘less is more’, but I say ‘More is more’!’ Peyote Man had told me that night, shoving the bowl in my face and grinning. And so with that piece of advice hanging in my mind, I figured the more you ate, the better it would get…
I felt it as soon I had swallowed the first ball. My vision went very bright and very clear.
Eat more. I heard a voice in my head that wasn’t mine say.
‘Sure thing, strange voice in my head that isn’t mine.’ I said to the other voice in my head that wasn’t mine, which in retrospect should have been a pretty major clue that shit was about to go down. I thought nothing of it and ended up necking the 6 balls in total within about half an hour.
As soon as I closed my eyes while we were doing a group debrief, I began to see a carnival of these spectral faces that kept morphing into one another. They changed from photo-realistic to cartoon-like, from real-life animals and humans to total fantastical creatures that I could not of made up. They all seemed to be smiling at me, but not in a pleasant way, in a mischievous almost taunting manner, as if to say, ‘Boy, you have no idea what is about to come next, do you?’
I watched a Native American warrior face turn into an African Zulu mother’s face turn into a giggling Coyote’s faces turn into a sneering Chucky Doll’s face turn into a Zombie cartoon bunny’s face with it’s jaw ripped off, with streaming rivulets of blood pouring from it’s wounds while the whites of its eyes rolled around in it’s gaping sockets…
Uh oh. I thought. I was only a half hour in and I was already seeing shit like this. This was not a good sign. Everyone was talking about their previous night’s experience. I couldn’t handle it. I needed to lie down somewhere before the whole world overtook me. I headed towards my tent where I could stare at the mutant demonic faces harassing me in a waking hell realm in peace. I lay down in my tent to die. The faces began to increase in speed, so fast I could barely even fix on any specific form.
Then the voices began. I kept thinking there were women outside whispering through the walls of my tent. I sat up and poked my head out. Nobody there.
Hmmmm. Maybe this is just the hard come up and things will chill out a little in a bit. I thought to myself. The voices began to get louder but I could never quite make out what they were saying.
‘Speak the fuck up ghost bitches! No comprende!’ I shouted, before remembering that vital piece of advice that the shaking man had once told me that one rainy night at the bus stop:
‘The trick with hearing voices is to never answer back, otherwise you will go mad and end up like me! SHUT THE FUCK YOU SHIT-STAINED WORM! NEVER!!’
Things started to slow down but speed up at the same time. It was a confusing feeling. I thought about the chemical constituents of Peyote. Aside from the mescaline, it also contained many other chemicals that had contradictory effects. Some were tranquilisers, others were stimulants, some were hypnotics, others were….
Why are you trying to chemically analyse how out of your mind you are right now? Said a cave painting of a half-bird, half-monkey therianthrope as it made its way across the horizon of my eyelids.
Whatever the hell else was in Peyote, the combined effect in the doses that I had taken seemed to be very similar to total madness.
I decided to go for a swim in the crocodile-infested river nearby to chill out. Maybe that would relax me. A good swim had brought me back from many heavy trips in the past. I walked towards the river in the hot sun. I heard the sound of a slide guitar play a Western-inspired riff somewhere in the distance, come to think of it, I did feel like I was in a Western… Some kind of surrealist Western… Like Jodorowsky’s El Troppo or something. In that scene in the desert when that zombie rabbit with its jaw ripped off spewing blood starts attacking me with the rosary everytime I close my eyes and… What? Oh the river. I was here now. Plant Leader Man and Changa Queen are laying down by the banks having a lively chat. Plant Leader Man says something about how he travelled all the way to the remote Mexican desert town of Real De Catorce to get these peyote balls off a frightened old Mexican lady in a shady taxi deal and how the peyote balls were concentrated down from cooking a lot of plant material and not just straight powdered cactus like the regular peyote I had taken in the past…
Oh. I remember someone thinking, someone who seemed to be a lot like me but wasn’t me anymore.
Plant Leader Man had mentioned this detail to me before I necked the balls, but it had slipped my mind. This meant the way I’d judged my dose was completely wrong.
Epic, epic fail. I heard a distorted voice say, accompanied by cackling maniacal laughter.
Or perhaps if I got out of this with full control of my bladder and the ability to talk without compulsively slobbering mucus-laden gibberish, it would be ultimate, ultimate success?
Only time would tell.
I heard more ominous laughter echoing in my head. I dunk my head in the stream to get rid of it, to bring me back. Usually this does the trick. If things are getting heavy during journeys, the old dunking the head in the water wipes the etch-a-sketch mind screen clean. I surface and open my eyes. I notice no difference as the faces behind my eyes continue to taunt me. They seem to be laughing at me. I suddenly realise that all these faces are really just one face. Mescalito’s face.
He is a shapeshifter after all…
Oh what you don’t believe in shapeshifters? How unscientific. He giggles. I can’t tell if his laughter is malevolent or benevolent. He is hard to pin down. He beyond good or bad. A cosmic trickster, older than morality itself.
Hmmm what a comforting thought to know that I am now possessed by a plant spirit that is beyond good and evil.
I get out of the river and lie down on the bank in the dirt. I listen to my friends idly chat about something I can’t really understand because words now sound like sonic gibberish devoid of any meaning, squiggles in the sand, eroded by the tide of noise, background noise growing in my brain like a loud hum, high pitched tinnitus that wipes out half of my hearing capabilities. On top of that, my friend’s voices keep increasing and decreasing in volume, as well as dropping down an octave. Changa Queen’s voice sounds like a deep cubist baritone. I drag my attention away from it and shut my eyes and try to relax. When I close my eyes though I see a wormhole, a vortex straight out of a sci-fi film. The inside is decorated with many spinning spirals. I have never seen such visuals like this before. They have a 3-dimensional quality and the kind of realism that makes me wonder if they are indeed real.
Of course they are real.
I open my eyes out of the fear of epilepsy and the wormhole is still there, just slightly fainter and overlaid with the thin veneer that is consensus reality.
Consensus reality is a conspiracy created to keep everyone from being free… And permanently insane HAHAHAHA! The voice laughs.
I close my eyes again. Mescalito is showing me the wormhole in great detail from multiple angles. It seems to be moving in super high speed before suddenly slowing right down into super slow motion with a jarring dubstep flanging bass sound accompanying it’s sudden speed changes. Mescalito then rotates the wormhole on its side and shows me how that different longitudinal sections of the wormhole move at different speeds. I think Mescalito is trying to teach me about time. How malleable it actually is, and subject to distortion from other forces.
‘Time is cylindrical, it’s like a sandwich folded in on itself! Don’t you see?’ Peyote Man had told me during the last peyote ceremony. Back then I thought maybe Peyote Man had just eaten too much Peyote and was crazy, but now I kinda understood what he meant.
The wormhole then multiplies into about six or eight more, I am now too confused to really count.
Holy shit. Carlos Castaneda didn’t make this shit up at all. I think.
Choose one and go into it. I hear Mescalito’s voice say.
No thank you, I don’t really want to lose my mind. I reply.
It’s too late for that HAHAHAHA!
I hear some laughter and one of the wormholes from the far top right approaches me so quickly that my entire field of vision is filled and before I know it, I’m peering into it. I can’t really see anything on the other side other than the black expanse of space. I lean in for a bit of a closer look and suddenly I am sucked into the vortex and instantly transported to Jupiter, flying past it at an incredible speed. As I pass by one of Jupiter’s Moons, which is tiny by comparison, and I am able to grok the sheer scale of the solar system.
Holy fuck this shit is huge. I think. I had always intellectually grasped the sheer scale of the planets, but experientially, this is a whole different level of grokking. And I am grokking the fuck out.
I keep flying through space, exiting our solar system and am now just travelling through the deep black nothingness of the outer rim of our galaxy and into the wider universe. As I am flying at light speed, I experience centuries within moments and yet I still don’t see anything other than the vacuum of space for what seems like an eternity. The magnitude of it all fills me with a sense of terrible awe and a longing for the familiar, for home.
What the fuck is the point of showing me this? I ask.
To show you what happens when you eat the right amount of peyote. I hear the mischievous voice giggle.
After many thousands of light years experienced in super high speed, I come to a second wormhole. Again it is pulsating, moving in hyperspeed and then slowing down to super slow motion, making those weird flanging dubstep bass sounds again. I figure I may as well go into it as it might lead me back home quicker than going back the way I came.
I enter it and suddenly I am rapidly pulled out of this universe entirely. I see our universe contained within a magic mirror/goldfish bowl type structure, and there are these two Ancient Architect beings pulling strings, shaping things, building things, their long spidery fingers interpenetrating all aspects of existence.
Are they the ones who created the universe? I ask.
Why do you want to know?
I have a few criticisms I’d like to share with them so they can do a better job next time around. Do they have a comment card box around here at all?
Mescalito chuckles at me. I feel like I’m being teased by an infinitely older being, like a puppy being harassed by a senile great grandfather for his own entertainment. This seems beyond any healing, beyond any Earthly realm. This is purely transpersonal.
Mescalito points to the Architects.
If they are the creators. Who created them? He asks. Suddenly the camera lens is pulled back even further until the architects and our universe are within a larger superstructure being constructed by even more abstract beings. Before I can even grapple with that image, the perspective is then pulled back even further to reveal that this entire scene-within-a-scene-within-a-scene is contained within an atom somewhere back on planet Earth.
At this point my brain broke and I decided to open my eyes before I saw too much and lost my mind forever.
The mystery never ends! Mescalito laughs.
The mystery ends when you go crazy. I reply.
Plant Man and Changa Queen are heading back to camp. I decide I should probably head back as well before I fall down another wormhole.
I stumble back to camp, hallucinating wildly. Reality has never been so tenuous, so unreal. I keep seeing spectral figures out of my eyes watching me, laughing mockingly at me and then I’d turn and there would be a tree stump or a rock, or sometimes nothing at all. The high-pitched background whine had increased even more now and I was now mostly deaf. I couldn’t understand any of the noises in my head now. I hear the soprano voice of a woman singing an opera somewhere in the distance, an aria so exquisite, I stop in my tracks to listen to it.
Where the hell is that divine music coming from? I wonder. I scan the sky for descending angels. Something irritates my ear and I swat a gnat away and the soprano woman stops singing abruptly.
Snatches of whispering voices keep filling my ears. I tried to discern what they are saying…
This is what schizophrenia feels like. They tell me.
You took too much man, took too much.
You took just the right amount HAHAHAHA.
‘Woah are you okay?’ Changa Queen asks me in her newfound deep baritone, staring at me with concern.
‘Really out of it… Need help…’
Suddenly I realise that if I was going through this, so was Taurus. He’d taken just as much as me.
‘Find… Taurus… Bring him… To me… So… We can die… In the dirt… Together… As brothers…’ I sputter, crawling towards the inflatable mattress under the tree.
I want it to stop. I find my haape pipe and take a huge wallop of snuff. I don’t even feel it at all.
I shake a rattle around my body to try and bring me back a bit, to no avail. I stick my fingers down my throat to try and force vomit. Nothing comes out. I even begin to beat myself with some branches of leaves till I can no longer remember why I am doing it.
You’re not getting away from this one boy. I hear Mescalito’s voice echo.
Pure delirium. Taurus is being helped over to my area. He collapses in a heap next to me.
‘It’s trying… To pull me… Out… Of my… Body.’ He slurs.
‘Too late… For me… He just did… Trying to get… Back into… Body.’
As we lay there dying, every time I look up, I see eagles circling me. Or were they vultures? Were they even real? I feel like a man who’s been wandering lost in the desert for days, mad from thirst. Suddenly I realise that this would be going on for a very long time. Mescaline containing cacti have a long duration of effect. The thought of being in this state for up to 10 hours suddenly fills me with an incurable sense of dread and before I know it I am stuck in a negative loop.
Peggles comes over. ‘Just let go. Surrender.’
Easy for you say. My ego reacts. I’d surrendered plenty of times on the other medicines. I thought I’d know how to do this by now? But this, this was a different game. This was a deeper level of surrendering. Like the Mystery, apparently the Surrendering never ends either. Fuck.
‘How to… Surrender? How to… Let go? Can’t… Remember… What to do.’ I ask her. I’d completely forgotten the basics of Difficult Tripping 101.
‘Breath, remember to breathe.’ Ahh I remember now. Don’t focus on the lies your mind tells you about what was going to happen, that only make it worse. Focus on your breath and your body. Don’t think.
Brain bad. Breathing good.
‘Don’t worry… There’s this… Cheetah spirit… Circling around us… Protecting perimeter.’ Taurus said.
‘Not sure… I find that… Comforting.’
‘And a Gnome…. There’s a Gnome standing… Right next to me… Has a Fly Agaric for hat… Don’t know… What the fuck his deal is…’
‘Don’t know… If morally ambiguous… Gnomes are… Any more comforting than… Cheetah spirits.’
‘And… All these… Fucking… Whispering voices.’
‘Don’t worry… Only ten… Hours to go…’
‘Unless… We are… Like this… Forever… Then Forever… Forever… Forever… Forever… To go… To go…’
‘Shut… Shut up… Just… Shut up…’
Peggles leaves us to our own devices despite my request for a back massage, but she knows this is an initiation of sorts and it’s best to leave us be.
At this point Mescalito begins to show me just straight up hardcore pornography. I can’t really go into the details but yeah for a good half hour, I’m just watching certain people who I cannot name, fucking on the inside of my mindscreen.
Well at least it’s not cartoon bunnies with blood pouring out of it’s mutilated face.
‘Man… All I’m seeing… Right now… Is… Porno.’
‘Yep... Me… Too...’ Taurus confirms.
We both continued to watch peyote pornography for a while in silence. I don’t mind this so much. Although a lot of the scenes end in a vaguely disturbing way. In one of my memories, I remember seeing the camera slowly panning up a lithe woman’s body, revealing it bit by by, but when I get to the head region, crudely cut and pasted onto the neck is my own head staring back at me.
‘Ah!’ The head that looks like mine yells.
‘Ah!’ I scream in surprise.
The head that resembles me on the body of the woman smiles back and I realise it’s just Peyote messing with me again. It feels like he is really just fucking with us, keeping us entertained while deeper level healing and restructuring is going on…
They’re just dudes, I’ll give’em some porn and that’ll keep them occupied.
Taurus reports seeing a humanoid pig lady, repulsive in appearance, presenting herself to him and exposing her pooching rectum as an invitation to enter.
‘It’s not pretty but it will feel good.’ She tells him.
What the hell does that mean?
The stream-of-consciousness visions continue. I cannot recall all that I saw but it’s very humorous and absurd, as if to keep my conscious mind distracted from what’s going on a more unconscious level. I watch the Eagles circling above me and suddenly I am presented with an image of an eagle driving a car. It’s super realistic and shows me where it’s feet touch the brake pedals and how it would grip the wheel with its wings.
What the hell? Why are you showing me this? You were showing me wormholes and the structure of the universe just before, now you are showing me an Eagle driving a car?
How did this Eagle even get this car? Mescalito interrupts me.
I don’t know… Maybe he stole it? Nah Eagles wouldn’t steal… I guess he probably got a job or something to pay for it…’
Instantly the Eagle is now dressed in a suit and a tie and a hat, driving along the freeway to get to work in the office to help support his Eagle wife and Eagle children.
I feel a hand on mine distracting me from this idiotic imagery.
‘Do you want a massage?’ I hear a voice ask. It’s Birdlady, looking even more bird-like than ever, to the point where I can see feathers forming on her skin before my eyes.
‘You were a bird in a previous life… Many previous lives…’
Did I think that or did I say that?
I stare at her as she gently begins to massage my wrist. Her Avian features are illuminated by the afternoon sun behind her, blessing her with some kind of solar corona. Liquid golden light pours forth from her outline bathing my twitching form. She looks like some kind of bird-headed angel, ultra-real, something so recognisable yet out of this world, come down to Earth to take me back home.
You look so beautiful right now. I think to myself.
Why don’t you tell her. Said Mescalito.
I’m off my fucking face and I don’t want her to take it the wrong way.
‘You ummm… Look so… So beautiful… Right now…’ I mumble, staring at her morphing therianthropic form, whilst twitching, shaking and sweating so much that I severely doubt the compliment will be returned.
‘Thanks.’ She says smiling shyly. Feels like I’ve been with her for twenty years in that single moment. To be honest it’s probably kind of fucking creepy, but there’s only so much you can say to an glowing half-bird, half-woman therianthrope when you’re on high dose peyote before you start to scare the shit out of them, so I decide to keep my mouth shut, partly for her own sake and partly because I am now drooling all over myself and so find it difficult to speak. I’m not worried though, I have enough surrealist pornography in my brain to bribe the gnome with the Fly agaric hat to be my spokesperson if need be…
The medicine is beginning to taper off… Dread is replaced by relief.
It takes us another several hours for us to come back and even then, I still don’t feel quite right. I keep catching myself staring into the fire with some kind of mad grin on my face, the kind of mad grin that makes me feel like Mescalito is grinning through me. He’s still inside of me. Hell after today, he always will be, he will always be me and I will be him.
‘The wormhole only gets deeper and wider.’ Plant Man tells us that night.
Great. And there was no going back. I could not unsee what had been seen. I was a Jedi now. The only way was forward, forward into the pig ladies anus to break on through to the other side, to Assfinite and beyond.
‘Break on through to the other side!’ Jim Morrison had urged us back in the 1960’s, but he never actually told any of us what you were meant to do once you got there. What happens after we break through Jim? Do we just sit there on the other side, sitting and weeping in puddles of our own minds and urine? Do we set up a nice organic cafe and start building a clientele base in the surrounding area with plans for future franchise expansion? Do we devote our spare time to studying permaculture techniques to try to make the other side a bit more habitable than the side we came from or should we just mine the shit out of it like everywhere else?
I used to be afraid of that story you’d hear about that guy who had taken too much and had never come back, but after this experience, I now realised that I was that guy and it wasn’t actually that bad. Where had I been trying to get back to anyway? Just some kind of illusion as unreal as the all the hallucinations that had assaulted me at the peak of the experience. The world that I’d left behind was as fake as anywhere else in these lands of shapeshifting quantum sands of time where I’d lost my blackhole watch.
But at least, now, I could never be late.
Full story at https://medium.com/@nicksun/carlos-castenada-was-right-high-dose-peyote-initiation-81ba630d2d9b