Monday, June 3, 2013

Burning Man 2008 mushroom trip - part 1

At Burning Man 2008, I had a mushroom trip that forever changed who I am.  I saw visions of aliens that stayed with me afterwards. 

It was a double dosage for me: an eighth of an ounce of dried material.  A double dose of psilocybin cubensis mushrooms was more than I had ever attempted, and this was to be a roller coaster ride.  I had gifted some legal salvia divinorum X60 extract to a friend and in exchange, was lucky enough to receive the dried fungus.  The week of Burning Man flew by with little chance in sight to use them, always seeming to have another obligation.  Finally, Saturday rolled around and this was my last chance to dose, as we were packing up the next day.  That night was scheduled the climactic burning of the man.  The dust storm had been predicted to be bad that day, but rather than rest, I crunched down the mushrooms with some water and prepared to trek out into the storm.  My plan was to hike across the city to the other end of the Esplanade where I hoped to check out the art galleries at Entheon Village.

I set out into the dust storm, having strapped on my protective gear for the dust.  My gear consisted of a dust mask over my nose and mouth, swim goggles to protect my eyes, my prescription glasses that I need to see, sunglasses over my glasses, and a bandanna and hat with chinstrap.  All these layers of glass and plastic covering my eyes tend to cloud up with dust and need to be wiped off frequently.  Also, due to the heat of the day and my warm moist breath held against my face by the mask, my swim goggles eventually puddle up with sweat until it gets in my eyes, a salty alkali dust mixture.  So, I need to duck into a shelter periodically to empty my goggles and wipe them down.  Of course, this necessitates taking off all the gear and starting over. 

The dust wasn't so bad on the street, the wind being blocked by the tent city, and, sensing that I could easily withstand this half-hearted blow, I goaded the wind, egging it on and challenging it to blow harder.  My wish was soon manifested, as I reached the open plaza around the center camp, where the wind was blowing hard and the air was white.

As the mushrooms began to kick in, with a feeling of dread and slight nausea, I was approaching Center Camp, where I had planned to reconnoiter.  Approaching the building, feeling my trip coming on, and staring down at the whiteness of the path in front of me, I started to see a round shape emerge that became clearer as I stared.  Knowing it was an artifact of the mushrooms' effect on my senses didn't lessen the effect, as it came into focus and I was staring at an image of the Mayan calendar.  This was vague, but unmistakeable as it appeared before me in the whiteness. 

Soon I was inside the Center Camp Cafe, a large circus tent with a coffee bar, art installations, performance spaces: a hub of culture and expression.  On the floor in the center of the round tent was a map of the city that I had planned to consult, as I had lost my own map which I'd been given at the gate.  In the center was an open space where dancers, jugglers, hula hoopers, etc, would perform, stretch, socialize, rest, and what-have-you.  There was a yoga ball with covering of stuffed Pooh bears that I had seen there before, which was a favorite of the kids, but which wasn't being used.  I flopped down on it, belly first, and used it to steer around the large playa map.  I had the sensation a little of flying out of my body as I cruised the playa symbolically on this map.  Sure enough, I located my destination, Entheon village, at 2:30 and A.  No problem.

Rising off the ball, I exited the cafe on the side.  The wind was daunting, and the air was a haze of dust.  A young woman flagged me down as I was walking and tried to recruit me to help the Lamplighters with their nightly ritual.  I asked what it involved, and she told me it involved cleaning and filling lamps, carrying them and hanging them on posts.  I regretfully told her that I was too high to handle that right then, and she kind of gave a start like she'd touched something hot.  She understood, though and was soon off recruiting others who were more enthusiastic.  As a side note, I did serve as a Lamplighter in 2010.


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