In the darkness of my closed eyes, I saw fear-inducing and grotesque imagines. Although I understood that these images were meant to be scary (or could be scary), I observed them in a calm and detached manner. I found myself lying on a train track face up. 

As the train passed over me, menacing faces and horrific images of death and destruction flickered past from the underside of the train. I felt I was being tested. My subconscious mind was throwing everything it had at me to prevent me from entering. I smiled to myself as I knew these efforts were futile. I enjoyed the show.

I was proud of myself for remaining calm and weathering the storm. A younger me would have struggled to handle it and would have most likely fallen down a rabbit hole of fear into a bad trip. As the gruesome parade finally passed over, a brief period of peaceful calm remained in its wake. Sensations in my body increased. My Like a flurry of butterflies, flapping their delicate wings in every capillary. It was a wonderful sensation. Embodying static on the radio, I lost all sense of self-awareness.

The trip then shifted directions and confusion set in as the mushrooms presented me with a memory that I had long forgotten: as a 5-year-old, I ‘sexually experimented’ with another boy. I parenthesized sexually experimented because we were very young, wholly unaware, and lacked understanding, of what we were doing. The vivid recollection left me wondering why I was being shown this. “What was the importance of this in the here and now?” I wondered, as I had not thought about this in almost twenty years. I did recall though, long ago in high school, the feeling of not knowing what to make of the experiences. I must have shut the memories away, pushing them into the depths of my subconscious mind. 

This is the power of psychoactive substances. There is no hiding when under their influence. They have the ability to pry open the subconscious and unlock the mind.  They can change one’s perspective on deep-rooted, hardened beliefs. But beliefs are like stiff clay and psychedelic compounds, like those found in magic mushrooms, are like the strong hands of a sculptor. They knead the clay, softening it up and reshaping it into something new. 

I began to experience feelings of sadness for the other boy: “Was he harmed in any way by our actions?” I thought. I hoped not, as the encounters were consensual from what I could remember. Even so, I offered a heartfelt apology to the universe, and the other boy (now a man like me). I asked for forgiveness if I had hurt him in any way. I also asked for my forgiveness, as I was once ashamed of this part of me. So much so that I pushed it away and locked it up for so many years. 

At this point, the trip seemed to stall and I grew frustrated and impatient. I was eager for this voyage into the unknown to continue. I didn’t understand why nothing else was happening. I examined these feelings and something told me: 

let go of expectations and the need to control the journey. 

At the same time, an overwhelming feeling that I needed to tell someone of the previous recollection flooded my body. In this state of consciousness, the perception of time shifts. Images, thoughts, and emotions overlap and arise in an instant. It’s almost as if there were multiples of me, standing shoulder to shoulder, processing their own individual experiences. All the while, the many mes, connected by an emotional thread, shared those experiences with their other versions, in real-time. 

My wife, who had agreed to trip sit for me, was sitting close by in the dim light of our converted attic. I decided to tell her about my experiences as a young boy. It was a challenging topic to approach, as I had never told anyone and had kept it a secret for 33 years. I am grateful for her response. She reassured me that there was nothing wrong with those experiences, that they were more common than I realized, and that she accepted me for who I was. I love my wife very much. Her ability to accept and understand others is inspiring. 

We snuggled together for some time in the low light of the room. An overpowering and intense sense of love for my wife and family came over me. A true and all-encompassing love, unlike anything I had felt before, flowed outward into the abyss of existence and touch all things.

I settled back on my mat as this feeling gave way to another wave of psychedelic experience. I repositioned my eye shades and headphones in preparation to ride out the rest of the trip. Before my covered eyes, I saw a beautiful array of colours and geometric patterns dancing about. The shapes would move in and out of each other, transforming into patterns of endless beauty. The dazzling colours blended into one another in endless synchronicity. I felt my existence begin to meld into the world at large. I could still sense myself as an individual but I felt a greater connectedness to the universal presence composing our reality.

It is very challenging to find the right words to describe these images and feelings. I can only imagine this all sounds quite trite and cliche. Even so, I experienced visuals and sensations like never before. I’m not sure how long this stage of the trip lasted but in time, the technicolor light show subsided. I removed the eyeshades and headphones and looked around the room. The room appeared to be breathing. Everything around me expanded out, paused, and contracted back in. I could sense a breeze in the air and hear a faint whooshing with each ‘breath.’ 

It was then that I caught a glimpse of myself in a large floor mirror next to where I was now sitting. I knew it was me reflected in the darkness but something was different. I moved towards the mirror for a closer look. In the reflection, I did not have a face but instead, a gyrating, blurred mass where my face should have been. This startled but also intrigued me and I continued to move closer until I was but an inch from the glass. The blurriness cleared and I locked eyes with my reflection. A strange sensation came over me: I was not where I thought I was. Looking into the mirror, I saw myself across from me as one usually does with a mirror, except I, as in my physical body, wasn’t the looker. I was being looked at, by my reflection. I was now the receiver of the looking. My consciousness, removed from my body, was now in the reflection in the mirror. I could see myself, outside the mirror, as if I was actually looking out at myself, instead of in at my reflection. This scrambled my understanding of who I was. “Where am I, truly located, if not in my body?”, I wondered.

I continued to stare into the mirror and my reflection began to change, shapeshifting into faces I didn’t recognize. I found myself accompanied by unfamiliar individuals, some grotesque, looking back at me from inside the mirror.  More faces continued to morph and appear, and they began to resemble me. My reflection toggled between many versions of myself: fat, skinny, old, Asian, young, tanned, Black, bald, bearded, sickly, muscular, Arab. There seemed to be an infinite number of versions of me inside the mirror. I stared with intent, and I was drawn to my right eye, which had grown in size and twitched sporadically. Inside, I could see the glimmering of stars, galaxies, and the greater universe. Transfixed inside my eye, I could see my reflection in my peripheral vision. I grew old, died, and decomposed, revealing a skull with a marble-like eye, gleaming with the soul of the universe. Transfixed on what was inside my bulging eye, something told me, an intuitive knowing of sorts, that:

all I needed was inside. I was the universe and the universe was me.

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