Strange Brews: Psychedelic Cocktails & Multi-Drug Effecting|
Chapter 13 : Psychedelic Information Theory
Now that we know a little about some different types of psychoactive drugs and how they work, it is time to talk about something which is possibly the most widely under-reported aspect of psychedelic therapy and experimentation today: multi-drug combinations, or the use of psychedelic "cocktails" to achieve a wider range of altered-mind states. I feel it is essential to discuss multi-drug combinations for two reasons: First of all, according to what we can piece together, traditional witches brews, visionary drinks, and other shamanic potions typically consisted of one or more psychoactive plants mixed together for maximum visionary effect, so there is a long history of psychedelic cocktailing in the human exploration of religion and medicine; Secondly, I feel it is important to point out that the most powerful trips, the ones that go completely off the map, are the ones where there are numerous psychoactive drugs taken in concert. Although there are inherent dangers in mixing drugs of any kind, it has been common practice throughout human history to devise ever-stronger, more potent combinations of the most extreme intoxicants we could get our grubby little hands on, and the humans of today are no different. In the late 20th century the ancient technology of shamanic brewing gave way to the underground sciences of basement chemistry and recreational psychopharmacology, and the race to produce and consume the most drugs fastest was on. Thanks to curious grad students armed with copies of the Shulgins' PIHKAL and TIHKAL, a whole new era of extreme multi-drug experimentation and psychedelic cocktailing began.
This was just this last decade, in case you missed it.
But to get some perspective, lets take a look at some traditional brews to see how the cocktails of the past stack up to the classic combos of our day in terms of chemical make-up and intoxicating whammy.
Soma, Hoama, and the Drink of the Gods
In the beginning, there was Soma. All the way back circa 10,000 BCE the Rig Veda and other occult religious texts across the cradle of civilization begin to make mention of a divine substance known as Soma, a drink that would allow the gods to manifest themselves in human form. Through the drinking of Soma (called Hoama in Persia), the priests could channel the energy of the gods and spirits, see into the future, possibly even achieve immortality. This practice was widespread across ancient India and Persia (the area known today as Iran), and remained popular until somewhere between 650BC and the rise of Christianity. During this time Zoroastrianism was at it's height, and the notion of monotheism began to trickle from Judaism into Persian religions, making the pagan ritual of drinking brews and cavorting with lesser gods a profane practice. It is believed that both Zoroastrian and Hindu priests began substituting non-psychoactive plants in the Soma/Hoama ritual around this time, and the original recipe for the brew (though still hinted at in ancient scripture) was intentionally destroyed by the monotheists and lost forever to the sands of time.
There have been many attempts to divine the ancient recipe for Soma, some focusing only on the available texts, others coming from archeological and ethnobotanical perspectives. In the course of trying to figure out the secret formula, many plants and substances have been postulated: Fly Agaric mushrooms (amanita muscaria); Syrian Rue seeds (Peganum harmala); cannabis; ephedra; opium; psilocybin mushrooms; ginseng; Belladonna; alcohol; and others. We may never know what Soma actually was, but given that all of these plants and substances were available in the area at the time, and that decent academic arguments can be made for any one of these substances as Soma, I'm more inclined to say that Soma was most likely a preparation of any one or more of these substances mixed together. Maybe recipes were localized and specialized, and the same priest could use both ephedra and cannabis for an energizing Soma, or Fly Agaric and opium for a dreaming Soma, etc. This is the way it is with the ayahuasca brews of South America, I don't know why the tribal cultures of ancient India and Persia would be any less inclined to mix "whatever they had on hand" to make their ritual drink. But other than knowing that Soma existed and was drunk in mass quantities, we can only speculate what was actually in it.
Eleusis, Kykeon, and the Mysteries of the Greeks
Here is another psychedelic mystery lost to the ages: the secret formula for Kykeon, the ritual brew of the ancient Greeks, consumed at the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremonies for the widely influential cults of Demeter and Persephone. These ceremonies started in Greece around 1500 BCE, and continued for nearly two-thousand years, growing in popularity until they were broken up around 400 BCE by Christian monotheists attempting to stomp out the remnants of the pagan cults. And though the Mysteries of Eleusis lasted for thousands of years, and the sacred Kykeon was consumed by thousands and thousands, the secret to it's psychoactive power was totally lost.
According to archeological evidence, Kykeon is supposedly made from a mixture of barley and pennyroyal, and was consumed at the end of a day long fast, just before the divine "secrets" were revealed to the initiates in the Telesterion temple in Eleusis (which was built specifically to hold thousands of participants). Because of the divine and revelatory mind states the mysteries were said to produce, it has been speculated that parasitic ergot fungus on the barley may have produced LSA, a crude LSD precursor, which may have been the actual psychoactive component of the drink. However, modern attempts to reproduce a psychoactive beverage from the historical components of Kykeon have failed, which leads one to think that the secret formula may have been missing something, or was deliberately changed by the priests at some point (like Soma), to hide the real ingredients. Either way, given that initiates were sworn by penalty of death not to speak of the "revelations" found within the Telestrion, it is hard to say how powerful this potion actually was, and if it was psychoactive at all. I'm guessing that Kykeon would probably be considered mild when compared to your typical ayahuasca brew, but I could be wrong. The secret to Kykeon could be psilocybin mushrooms, Belladonna, and Syrian Rue (an Indo-European Datura-huasca mix), but since the formula was kept a secret in its day and was meant to be erased from history by its oppressors (who did a very good job), we will most likely never know.
Mayan Mushroom Meads
The indigenous inhabitants of Central and South America were fortunate enough to have an amazingly diverse plant ecosystem from which to choose their ritual intoxicants: The Jungle. Many books have and will be written on the tremendous variety of psychoactive compounds to be found in the rich flora of the equatorial Americas, and over the centuries every possible combination of these plants has been put to use by industrious priests, shamen, and curanderos looking for the new secret formula to magical success.
Archeological evidence indicates that the Mayan high priests (circa 0250 - 0900 CE) were very fond of psilocybin mushrooms (psilocybin), morning glory seeds (LSA), as well as cacao (chocolate), coca (cocaine), and coffee (caffeine), so it is not a stretch of the imagination to assume the "highest" of the Mayan priests might consume a potion containing all of these things and more. Drop in a pinch of crushed Datura leaves and seedpods and you've really got something there. Is it any wonder the Mayans were so fascinated with celestial visions? The Mayan civilization was isolated by water and jungle, and flourished for less than a millennium, but their accomplishments in writing, mathematics, archeology, and astronomy were as advanced as those of the ancient Egyptians at the cradle of Western civilization. The mysteries of Mayan culture - their rapid rise, fall, and ultimate disappearance - have fascinated many scholars and amateurs around the world. The fact that Mayan culture rose so far, so fast, and under the rule of high priests perpetually stoned on psychedelic mushrooms (and fond of human sacrifice) is a testament to something, though I'm not sure of what. Perhaps what I am trying to get at here is the root of a kind of celestial/mystical/demonic "organizing principle" which emerges in cultures under heavy psychedelic influence. We will pick up on that theme later, sufficed to say that the Mayans we're freaking on some heavy-duty stuff, no doubt.
Amazonian Ayahuasca, and other Visionary Rainforest Brews
Further south, in the Amazon basin of South America, rainforest tribes managed to unlock the secret of yage, the magical vine which is the primary ingredient of any good ayahuasca brew. The yage vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) contains harmine and harmaline, which are MAO inhibitors (MAOi), and serve to slow the metabolism of psychoactive amines in the body. By itself the brewed tea of the yage vine is psychoactive, but it is not psychedelic. To create your typical psychedelic rainforest brew, the shaman would also need a plant containing DMT, such as the leaves of the chacruna bush (Psychotria viridis). This simple yage/chacruna mix (pounded, boiled, and simmered) would be enough to pack a heavy visionary punch, but it does not stop there. A rainforest ayahuasca may also contain Datura (scopolamine, atropine), mushrooms (psilocybin), toad venom (bufotenine), tobacco (nicotine), morning glory seeds (LSA) and any number of secret herbs, flowers, hot peppers, spices, leaves, barks, roots, powders, seed pods, and preparation techniques needed to give each shaman's ayahuasca mix its signature "kick".
If you imagine a witch standing over a simmering pot muttering, "Deadly nightshade, toadstools, a pinch of broom, eye of newt, skin of a lizard..." and so on, you begin to realize that all of these fairy tale icons - poison mushrooms, poisonous reptiles, poisonous plants, magic potions - are secretly embedded ingredients for the Indo-European "visionary brew" passed down through folklore. But in the rainforest, the unadulterated recipes are still floating around, passed down from shaman to apprentice, generation to generation. But with the creeping destruction of the rainforest and the displacement and acculturation of indigenous rainforest tribes, the secret of ayahuasca could have been doomed to vanish like all the visionary brews of the past. Fortunately, ayahuasca was still in popular use when the psychedelic explosion hit the West, so it has been scrutinized and analyzed in a way that eludes the mysteries of Soma and Kykeon. And what modern analysis has shown, more than anything, is that the ayahuasca mix can vary from tribe to tribe, shaman to shaman, week to week. The essential visionary elements of the brew have been identified as the MAOi/DMT mix, but that does not mean we have found the one and only "true" ayahuasca recipe. Jonathon Ott's exhaustive field work in Pharmacopeia and Ayahuasca Analogues has shown that the sheer number of psychoactive plants and combinations of visionary plants in the equatorial Americas alone is staggering. A shaman with ready access to that many psychoactive plant sources would obviously be tailoring his or her "brew" with whatever was handy, was easy to identify, was local, and whatever worked best. Every shaman finds the plants that work best for them to creates a "magical garden" of the heavy hitters essentials for their trade, and the strange brews to be found in the bubbling pots of Amazonia are as distinct and varied as the shamen who craft them.
Psychedelics and MAO inhibitors
Through chemical analysis of ayahuasca it quickly became clear that the secret ingredients which made the DMT orally active were the betacarbolines harmine and harmaline, the MAO inhibitors which allow the DMT to circulate freely through the bloodstream. But MAO inhibitors do more than slow the metabolism of psychoactive tryptamines like DMT, they also slow the metabolism of basic neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making the supply of these essential messengers higher than normal. When scientists finally figured out that MAO inhibitors actually increase the available supply of seratonin and dopamine, this class of drugs was hailed as a possible cure for anxiety and depression, and MAO inhibitors are still prescribed as anti-depressants today. Perhaps the most common pharmaceutical MAO inhibitors are Moclobemide, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate, but there are many others.
With the popularization of ayahuasca brews in North America in the late 20th century, it was only a matter of time before explorers started working with their own MAOi cocktails, combinations, and visionary brews. With both plant and pharmaceutical MAO inhibitors to choose from, adding a pinch of MAOi to a mushroom, LSD, or other tryptamine voyage became a common - if somewhat dangerous - practice. Catchy terms like "shroomahuasca" and "pharmahuasca" were or "5-MeO-huasca" were invented to describe these new ayahuasca-like combinations. In addition to making DMT orally active, an MAO inhibitor can increase the potency of any psychedelic tryptamine by at least two-fold, and by far some of the weirdest, most powerful, and most "out there" psychedelic experiences and reports I have come across have been in the presence of an MAOi/tryptamine combination. I credit this to the amazing synergy between these two compounds, and that people most-likely over-estimate the dose they are taking when ingesting tryptamines in combination with an MAOi. The result is often something like an overdose, a somatically overwhelming trance state where reality totally dissolves and bends into a liquid reflective dream space. The MAOi not only allows the psychedelic molecule to move freely and act longer, it also keeps the brain supplied with a larger-than-normal quantity of seratonin and dopamine to catapult the psychedelic state into new territory. This is not beginner territory here, this is the heavy stuff.
There are very real dangers with using MAO inhibitors, particularly the risk of seratonin syndrome, which is when the body's supply of seratonin becomes so high that the user's blood pressure spikes to life-threatening levels. This risk is most acute when using an MAO inhibitor with an empathogen like MDMA, or with a pharmaceutical SSRI like Prozac, both of which can sharply increase the supply of seratonin in the brain (MDMA more dramatically than probably any other drug). Sufficed to say, experimenting with MAOi combinations can be very dangerous indeed, and anyone trying an MAOi combination should take extreme care to use lower-than-normal dose ranges to minimize the chance of overdose. Also, MAO inhibitors tend to work best with psychedelic tryptamines. Using an MAOi with a non-visionary entactogen can also boost the power of that particular substance, but that does not guarantee the experience will be visionary or in any way pleasant. To echo my warning from earlier, you should not be overdosing on a non-visionary entactogen or empathogen if what you want is a visionary psychedelic experience, the risks and dangers only become more acute when you are forced to take more of a substance or cocktail with an MAOi to achieve the desired psychedelic effects, so be careful and make sure you are using the right drugs and not mixing into unknown territory. And whatever you do, don't mix MDMA with an MAOi expecting to get a visionary "Ecstacy-hoasca" mix, you will almost surely wind up in the emergency room or dead.
Psychedelics and Dissociatives
While not as widely discussed as the psychedelic/MAOi combination, the psychedelic/dissociative combination has gained popularity since at least the late 1960s when the joys of LSD and the anesthetic gas Nitrous Oxide were first explored in great detail. By itself Nitrous Oxide (also known as laughing gas) is a very short-acting full-body dissociative that totally numbs the user's body and makes their head thrum and ring with a throbbing "wah-wah-wah" freeze-frame of environmental noise that spirals up and off into infinity as the user fades in and out of consciousness. This three-minute head-trip is typically inhaled from a balloon, and is often called "hippie crack" as it can be done over and over and over (and over, and over) again all night until you pass out with blue lips. Now if you take Nitrous Oxide and introduce it into an LSD or mushroom trip, what you get is an instantaneous warping of reality through recursively looped filters of increasing absurdity, hilarity, and profundity until everything bends into a swirling epiphany of white noise. This LSD/Nitrous combo is by far one of the "monsters" of modern psychedelic exploration, an experience so extreme it can barely be described in words. However, this combination does not seem to pose any immediate health risks, as long as the Nitrous Oxide is mixed with the occasional breath of fresh air to keep the user from complete oxygen deprivation (the lips turning blue are a good first sign to watch for). And, of course, you should never use Nitrous Oxide with a bag over your head, or put a bag over your head for any reason. Yet despite this obvious piece of advice, I have known more than one person who has wound up dead this way, and it is a wonder to me that this "accident" still happens. In my mind, if you put a bag over your head and fill it with Nitrous, you are expressing a death wish that will most likely come true.
Besides Nitrous Oxide, psychedelics have been frequently used in combination with other dissociatives, such as Ketamine, DXM, ether, and others. Although these combinations are in wide use, I'm guessing they are under-reported in the underground literature as they are not considered "social" combinations by any means. When a longer-acting dissociative is applied to a psychedelic trip, it generally serves to knock that trip into the far edges of the Peak: a somatically overwhelming, sensory isolated lucid dream state. In practical terms, I would say that LSD and Ketamine combinations are common, and I've even heard of ayahuasca/Ketamine combinations, and for the most part I have not heard of any extreme pharmacological dangers in either case. The one real danger is, of course, the fact that you will most likely be completely wasted and passed out while under the influence of a psychedelic/dissociative combo, and attempts to move around and/or interact with other human beings are likely to be fraught with hazard. Having a safe place to get prone and "ride it out" if the trip becomes too "heavy" is key to minimizing danger here.
Psychedelics and Anticholinergics
Ah yes, the psychedelic/anticholinergic mix is the territory of the waking dreamer, the Bizarro shaman. As we discussed earlier, the anticholinergic dream space is something no shaman takes lightly; it is a real brush up against (and over) the boundaries of life and death into an alternate space so real you will have no trouble believing it actually exists. Add this experience to the middle of an already raging ayahuasca (DMT) experience, and you can see how crazy the rainforest shamen who drop Datura into their brews actually are. In some sense this is an almost perfect combination for those daring psychonauts who really want to leave their body and go walking in the alternate realities of the void. Through the pharmacological mix of the MAO inhibitor (from the yage vine), the DMT (from the chacruna leaves), and the tropane delirients (from the Datura plant), the user is exposed over the period of a few hours to an experience that starts in the hellish (initial discomfort, purging), moves into the divine (the magical working of the DMT), then explodes into the fully immersive concrete spaces of the waking dreamtime (the anticholinergic boomerang effect). In experiential terms, the thematic arc of this visionary experience could not be programmed better, each new phase of the journey being ushered in by a specific compound acting to "raise the bar" on the immersion level of the visions until they become all consuming. However, in physical terms this is a dicey path to walk, and working with this particular combination takes restraint to keep it from becoming completely overwhelming. This "datura-huasca" combo can be re-created with pharmaceutical sources (as opposed to plant sources), but again, knowing your dosage and knowing the best ways to mix and consume the various drugs are very important here. If done wrong it could lead to severe derangement, convulsions, stroke, and death. If done right it could be one of the most effective ways to engage the elusive "liminal space" we've already discussed in some detail. Again, this combination is not for beginners, and any work with tropane alkaloids and other anticholinergic delirients is done at very real risk to your brain and health.
Psychedelics and Cannabis
The history of cannabis is so long and colorful it would be impossible to cover within this text, sufficed to say that it has been part of the global human pharmacotheon for many thousands of years now. The use of marijuana is so widespread and commonplace it is difficult for me to imagine a modern setting where psychedelics and cannabis are not used together. On a typical LSD or mushroom trip, cannabis may be smoked when coming up to ease the transitional effects, during the peak to enhance and extend the effect, and while coming down to ease that transition as well. Since cannabis itself can be mildly psychedelic at high doses, it is no wonder that it can help push the psychedelic state from a gentle Plateau into a more immersive Peak state. Experientially cannabis tends to make the visual aspects of a tryptamine experience more fluid, and if you look close you will find that many reports of the most intense LSD and mushroom "Peak" states are actually reports of these drugs taken in concert with smoked cannabis. The cannabis smoking is so commonplace in the underground it often seems like an afterthought to even report it, but there is no doubt that tryptamines and cannabis go together hand in hand.
I have had this discussion with a lot of people in the underground and the general consensus seems to be that cannabis does play a large role in shaping the course of many psychedelic trips. Many people often report that a plain old LSD or mushroom session without cannabis are actually "missing something," and that the experience is somehow diminished, less rich, or less full without cannabis along for the ride. This is not true for everyone - some people have very negative reactions to cannabis - but for the great majority of psychedelic users I have met, cannabis has always been an essential element of the visionary journey.
The synergy between tryptamines and cannabis becomes even more pronounced when the cannabis is consumed in concentrated forms like hashish, which is the THC-rich pollen of the cannabis plant pressed into a hard lump. When hashish is smoked in the course of an LSD or mushroom trip, it throws the visual activity of the trip into an entirely different gear. Transient geometric visuals suddenly begin to crystallize into shapes and scenes, and then begin to animate themselves in ways that pulse and ooze with an entirely new rhythm. Cannabis also greatly enhances the fluidity of audio-to-visual synesthesia in the psychedelic state. I can only speculate as to why this is, but I am guessing that cannabis acts as a dopaminergic agonist, and thus enhances the synchrony of neural firing across the entire cortex, thus making the transient liminal states of pure visual imagination more stable over a longer duration, allowing fully-formed "visual ideas" to solidify within the morphing psychedelic fields of fractalline geometry. I'll talk about this in more detail when deconstructing the different types of psychedelic visuals and how they are formed in the mind's eye, but the idea of "synchrony" is very powerful talking about focusing your brain on the sustained task of turning imagination into visual thought. Cannabis helps immensely in this regard. Smoked cannabis also increases heart-rate, respiration, and cranial blood flow, supplying the brain with the extra resources it needs to sustain the high-overhead recursive neural feedbacking processes of the fully psychedelic state. Whatever the "magic trick" of cannabis is, it is safe to say that psychedelics and pot are a tried and true combination for beginners and experts alike, and if you are okay with both psychedelics and cannabis, then matching them should be a natural. But be careful though, things may get a little freaky...
Psychedelics and Tobacco
Now I must admit that I am not a big fan of tobacco. Of all the dirty stinky drugs one can wrap themselves up in, this one seems to be the worse (to me). And yet, when I am coming down from a strong psychedelic session often there is nothing I want more than a smoke. And I'm not talking about a hit of cannabis, I'm talking about a jolt of a different kind, a nice long introspective session that can only be kindled with tobacco. Nothing keeps you focused on the fleeting temporality of the now more than a cigarette slowly burning away in your hands. And the dim warmth of the smoke and flame can feel soothing to a body that is wrung out and shaky, attempting to re-integrate into reality. In traditional Native American ceremonies tobacco is a key element: it is used in almost every step of the preparation of the sacrament to bring the blessing of the spirits; it is used to "open the sacred circle" of participants with a ritual sharing of smoke; it is used by the shaman to regulate various aspects of the trip; and finally it is used to "close the sacred circle" with another sharing of smoke when the ceremony is over and the sacred space is officially dissolved. But beyond pure ritual invocations of spirits or sacred spaces, the placing of nicotine at the opening of the circle and the closing of the circle demonstrates that it is useful in establishing an immediate emotional baseline that all participants can share. The sharing of tobacco is an extremely social act that focuses the group mind and aids in placing everyone in the same ritual head-space. With a simple passing of tobacco, the participants are brought fully and solidly to the fore, and they become actively engaged in sharing the moment with the rest of the group.
The timeline of action on nicotine is such that a small group engaged in a ritual can pass a pipe (or cigarette) around and all enjoy and share the warmth of the "buzz" for few minutes, everyone riding the same wave. This is not the case with cannabis, where a sharing of the pipe often leads to people drifting off into their own separate reveries; nor is it true of Nitrous Oxide, where the high is so brief that it moves around the room like a crashing wave, each person getting to share the tail end of the cosmic joke with the next person on their way up. Tobacco is just the opposite. Tobacco is in your face, it says, "I'm real, damn it. Deal with me now." It is also said that of all the ritual drugs (alcohol included), tobacco is craved most by the "spirits." I don't know if this is just a tribal euphemism for the fact that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs known, but if the spirits actually crave it, then you know it's addictive. I could say, "The auto mechanic's ritual use of tobacco is essential to the good engine overhaul," and I would not be straying far from the truth. Whatever kind of label you want to put on it, the ritual use of tobacco is essential to many things when you are addicted to it.
Pharmacologically, nicotine acts as an agonist at the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and causes an increase in the production of adrenaline. It also increases heart rate, respiration, and alertness. Smoked tobacco also increases dopamine levels, which indicates that it has a great utility for "focusing" or "fine tuning" awareness in the brain. All of these things have made tobacco an essential tool in the shaman's kit for centuries if not millennia. And while I personally do not like smoking tobacco, if you must smoke I would recommend that you find tobacco that is untreated with ammonia and whatever other noxious stuff the corporate tobacco companies use to make cigarettes extra "zingy" and addic-terrific. Under the influence of psychedelics the body can tell the difference between good smoke and bad smoke. Good smoke comes from freshly cured organic tobacco, bad smoke comes from industrial coffin nails. And when you have the highly sensitized palette of a person on a strong dose of psychedelics, there is no contest between the two. Natural tobacco wins. Packaged cigarettes just seem... freakish.
Psychedelics and MDMA : The Flip
While I am not a big fan of candyflipping (taking LSD and MDMA in combination), I must include the combo because of the popularity it took on in the late 1990s. MDMA (or Ecstasy) was literally the fuel of the underground dance movement that took over the world with loud techno music and huge warehouse parties called "raves". These parties were (and to some extent still are) the front-line of designer drug cocktail experimentation, and many popular combos (like the candyflip) were discovered in this heady environment. Some might argue that the candyflip was invented specifically for staying up all night and dancing to loud techno music. LSD parties were popular in the '60s, but back then people were taking large doses of LSD and freaking out like hardcore. In the '70s and '80s people began taking "disco hits" - roughly one-quarter to one-half of a '60s-size hit of LSD - which acted more like stimulant and an entactogen than a full-on psychedelic. The disco hit worked well for a while, but when Ecstasy hit the underground there was no comparison between the two. Not only did Ecstasy act as a stimulant and an entactogen, it also made people feel really good. Unlike LSD, which can turn into a bummer and leave one feeling clinically isolated, MDMA delivers a warm euphoria of happiness and contentment every time. No bummers, only butterflies.
The advantages of MDMA over LSD in recreational group settings is obvious. MDMA is a stimulant and a positive mood shifter, but it is not a psychedelic. It floods the brain with seratonin, making the user feel blissful and content and open to the feelings of others. There is no wonder this drug is so popular, and no surprise that it took about a minute and half before people started mixing it with other drugs. First there was the candyflip (LSD/MDMA), then there was the hippy-flip (mushrooms/MDMA), then there was the bee-flip (2CB/MDMA), then there was the K-flip (Ketamine/MDMA), the robo-flip (DXM/MDMA), the G-flip (GHB/MDMA) etc., etc., etc. I doubt you can find a drug out there that hasn't been "flipped" with MDMA in one way or another. But seriously, as we've already discussed, mixing MDMA with SSRIs (like Prozac) or MAO inhibitors can lead to life-threatening consequences, so make sure you understand drug compatibility before "flipping" yourself into a brain aneurism. Really.
Now for those of you who feel trendy being on the front-line of the whole MDMA thing, I must tell you that the whole "flipping" thing is somewhat scorned by the serious students within the community. The psychedelic/MDMA cocktail may produce pleasant effects, but some people feel that the use of MDMA in a psychedelic session creates a synthetic or artificial "happiness" buffer that may be blissful and wonderful in the moment, but is unfulfilling and unrewarding in retrospect. I'm sure the throwaway nature of the experience is why the LSD/MDMA combination got the name "candyflip". Compared to LSD, MDMA is so mild that the old hippies compare it to candy: full of empty tricks that only kids would find fascinating, but not spiritually nourishing. This may seem overly critical of the MDMA experience - which has many wonderful and positive aspects - but I believe it is a fair characterization. The E crowd of the '90s was overly fascinated with the synthetic, the shiny, the candy-colored, the flashy, the trashy, the glam, the gadgets, the empty fix, etc. As a recreational brew goes MDMA is the ticket, but as a ritual sacrament to build a "scene" around it went bust. MDMA has upsides, but it also has some problems, the main one is the tendency for users to "bottom out" and become depressed after taking too much of it. And then it no longer works like it used to, and only gives you diminishing returns. Ultimately I would say it is wise to be sparing with your MDMA use. It can be very powerful, but when reduced to the level of party brew it comes with some very serious downsides. This one is for the pure hedonists, but don't overdo it. You know who you are.
Um... I remember sitting on a curb in the parking lot of Greatful dead concert, I don't remember if it was before or after the show, I don't remember what city I was in, but I was counting on my fingers. I was mumbling something like, "LSD, mushrooms, pot, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, nitrous oxide..." and some greasy looking dude in a tie-die walks buy and yells "Tits!" to distract me, and when I realize he's just messing with me I go back to figuring out why I am holding up seven fingers. Seven. I was on seven drugs at the moment, not including tits. I think to myself, Does chocolate count? Does sugar count? Does that make nine? I'm running out of fingers...
Nine drugs. A buffet of nine drugs snacked down in the course of a few hours, and I felt like I was restraining myself. I wasn't snorting coke or smoking opium or shooting ketamine, though I could have been doing all three. But at that specific time I was more worried about how I was going to get back to the planet I lived on, and how I would find my car, and how I would keep it from floating into the air on the drive home. Yet when I remember that night, I don't remember being on nine drugs, I remember being on acid. Everything else that happened that night (including the show) seemed secondary to the fact that I was on acid. But I have never had an LSD experience quite like the one I had that night, and I have always chalked it up to the fact that every batch of LSD is a little bit different. But it makes me wonder, was it the LSD that was different, or was it everything else on top of the LSD that made that particular experience unique?
What I'm getting at here is that often, in a modern context, psychedelics are consumed almost haphazardly in combination with many other drugs, and the effects of a multi-drug psychedelic trip are very different in tone and texture than the effects of a single-drug psychedelic trip. A person may have an intense experience one time on LSD and a lackluster experience the next, and they may not be able to put their finger on what it was that made the difference, but there was something. Maybe it was the pot, or maybe the coffee, or the cigarettes, or the juice, or something else they consumed that acted like an amplifier for the trip on one occasion, but was noticeably absent in the other. The point I am trying to make here is that a lot of "psychedelic trips" as reported in modern context are often in reality "multi-drug psychedelic trips" that are misreported. I stress this fact because in the next chapters we will begin exploring the experiential phenomena of psychedelics in greater detail, and in the course of my deconstruction some may say, "Hey, I've taken psychedelics before, but I've never had an experience like that." You can try to blame the disparity between the potency of psychedelic trips on many things - diet, health, fasting, ritual, environment, focus, genetics - but often it all comes back to purity of the drug, dose, and the ad-mixture drugs you take on top of it.
Even something as simple as burning sage - which is not considered to be classically psychoactive - can dramatically alter the tone and intensity of a trip. Beyond the ritual element of burning sage, the scent opens up a wide range of responses in your body; the plant's essential spirits penetrate your thoughts and give you an immediate connection to the natural beauty of the Earth. Compare and contrast this with the rave practice of inhaling Vicks VapoRub to enhance the effects of Ecstasy on the dance floor. One experience (burning sage) is primal and rooted to the Earth, delivering a pleasant soothing effect. The other experience (huffing VapoRub) is mired in industrial ooze and delivers a synthetic rush. Neither sage nor the aromatic oils eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor (from VapoRub) are considered psychoactive, yet all of these essential plant oils will dramatically enhance the psychedelic experience when inhaled. Should sage and VapoRub be considered admixture drugs in the shaman's brew? Why not? If they produce the desired effect without putting the body in jeopardy, more power to you...
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Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2005-06-14 00:00:00