musings, ramblings, stories about bikes, cats, dope, all kinds of stuff...
Monday, August 6, 2018
A Vein of Fire
A Vein of Fire
the brew in the jar took several days’ work. The brew is just over two pounds
of peeled cactus flesh, and half a lemon reduced to 16 ounces of opaque green
medicine tastes awful. In this case, awful would be a vast improvement. The
brew looks like a jar of olive drab paint, and it’s just about as appetizing.
The juice is slightly salty, and so intensely bitter that it causes your tongue
to recoil. Only the acid bite of the lemon allows it to get past the gag reflex.
It is nasty stuff.
It was 3:00 when I took the mason jar out of
the refrigerator, and set it on the kitchen table with a bottle of Italian mineral water, a
fresh baguette, and a big container of sliced mango. The quart jar was half
full, and I had to shake it a little to stir the sediment. I poured four ounces
of the bitter green liquid into a measuring cup and took it down in two gulps.
into the kitchen. She was on her way out
to spend some time with her brother’s family. “Well”, she asked, “How was
I shudder a
little, “It was awful. Not that bad, really. I’ll be able to do this.”
Mary gave me
a kiss. “You have fun.”
Not many 65
year old guys are into this kind of thing, and fewer have wives who tell them
to “have fun” on their trips. I am richly blessed.
I ate a small slice of mango, and a little
bread. Ten minutes later I swallowed the next four ounces. I chased each gulp
with a swallow of mineral water, a mouthful of bread, and some mango. I knew
I’d purge, and I wanted something for the belly to expel, so I wouldn’t dry
heave. The jar was empty at twenty to four.
Nothing to do now, but wait. Of course, I’m
nervous, full of anticipation, a little apprehensive. I walked around the
house, checked the computer, went out front, watered the yard a little. I was planning to just enjoy the afternoon at
home, in familiar surroundings. Maybe later on I’ll walk to the park for a
smoke, or take the bike for a ride.
wave of nausea bubbled up around 4:00. I knew I had to keep the juice down for
about an hour, but I doubted if I was going to make it. By ten after four I was
heaving. I drank some mineral water to cleanse my mouth and ate a mango slice to
settle my stomach. I still felt a little sick. Soon I was pacing aimlessly
around the house- a good sign that things were under way. By 4:30 there was no
on hard. Holy cow, this is going to be big!
A soft electricity is streaming
through my body, ringing in my ears like a sustained chord from some windstring
instrument. It is strangely pleasant, but mostly- just- strange. I’ve never
felt anything like it. And I know this
is just the beginning. The voltage on that soft electricity is creeping upward,
the chord growing ever louder, and more intense. How intense will this get?
Somehow I’m neither frightened, nor worried about it. This powerful body
humming feels good.
But I gotta’ barf again. Again, a little
mango, a little mineral water. I’m sitting in the big green chair in the living
room, sliding into this hazy soft drowsiness. Things are becoming dreamlike. Strange
electric spasms charge up the back of my legs and into my groin. My pelvis
involuntarily thrusts forward. This power bursting through my loins! A sleepy,
soft dreaminess is slowly filling up my head. I fade into a slow trance, and
then pop awake, and start sinking again. Then I’m restless, up pacing the room
until the dream fades me out, and I return to the chair.
By 5:30 I’m full of restless
energy, and I decide to walk around the block. I barely make it to the curb
before I have to run back in the house and barf again. But mineral water and
mango, and I’m out the front door and I’m walking and it’s a relief to move,
but I want to get back home, and it’s a long block, but I make it back. And so
the cycle repeats. Sit, fade, dream, pace, sit, fade, dream, pace.
6:00, and the dream trance is growing more and
more hallucinatory. Things are suffused with the light of their own perfect
essence. Wood grains are flowing; patterns and images drifting through the
stucco ceiling. Sunshine like orange fire pouring down in the yard. My artwork coming to life on the breathing
walls. But I gotta’ puke again. I realize and accept that this is just going to
be part of the experience. After this one I feel OK.
returns in huge waves of sensation. Energy fuses with lethargy in the strangest blend of opposing forces. By
now I’m dreaming all this. But I’m
restless again, and I need to walk. I’m in this sort of looping pattern where I
sit in the chair, feeling like I’m falling asleep, but I don’t fall asleep. I
fall adream, and begin sinking down into a trance… and the electric muscles
pull me up on my feet. I stand up, pace
the floor, maybe barf. Sit down, and begin to fall adream… And the buzzing in
my ears is getting louder. The soft electricity charging through my body, the
dream trance embracing my consciousness grows thicker, and deeper, the
hallucinations more pronounced. This is another world, a floating world, and it
is wonderful, wonderful.
I need to
walk. So I close up the house, and go out front. Once more, I barely make it to
the curb before I have to barf again. So we go through the loop: barf, mineral
water, mango, pace, sit. But now I’m OK. At least now…
I’m OK! Holy cow, am I OK! Euphoria surges into
the dream. The electricity powers me forward. I step into the glowing solstice afternoon, and I am
weightless. My body moves without effort; the neighborhood is washed in sunshine
mellow gold, and energy flows through every living thing, and they all
celebrate the pure and perfect essence of their being- the tree-ness of trees,
the flower-ness of the flowers is all aglow in the dreamlight.
But my sense
of pattern recognition is gone. I glide down my street, but the neighborhood is
not familiar; it’s all new, somehow. I reach the end of the block, and wait. I know where to go, but I don’t feel it. It is
unfamiliar. I’m worried about getting lost out here.
In the midst
of all this I realize that I did one thing right- I didn’t have anything else
going today. I’m almost totally incapacitated. Getting up. Sitting down.
Walking around. These are all great and difficult undertakings. There is no way
I could socialize, or do anything else but be stoned. Take the bike out? No
way. Walk to the park? Too dreamtired sleepy, I’d get lost.
And I am
very. Very. Just. Plain. Stoned. I am as stoned as ever I have been, and that’s
saying a lot. The full-body humbuzzing, the glowing haze in my brain is as
powerful as anything I’ve ever felt. It is not drunkenness, but I would be less
intoxicated if that jar had held 16 ounces of moonshine.
I‘m flying at full capacity. My thought stream
is murky, the inner dialogue reduced to
vague murmurings, moodclouds, and shapeless feelings rather that articulated
thought. I had been angry over some unpleasant business from this morning. As I
round the block the discontent flows into the stream. It takes a thick, slow
effort to steer my path away. I am not
safe from anger here in the dream. The ugly thoughts are quicksand traps. I can
feel the danger of wading into one.
down quickly; I feel the wind pass through my T-shirt. The breeze swirls around
my skin, and it feels like a full body tickle. Only cold. I’m skinny, and I
chill easily. Round the corner and head back toward the house; it’s getting
just in time to be sick again. Now I feel it. There’s a devil in my stomach. A
black nasty squirming thing, and He needs to be expelled. Heave and heave
again. I pitch out a lump, and he’s gone. I’m on my knees at the bowl. Thank
God for Mr. Mango. He’s been such a friend through all this.
water. I need warm. Warm water comes from the bathroom. Takes too long in the
kitchen. But there’s no cup in the bathroom. The cup is in the kitchen. So that
means I have to go to the kitchen and get the cup, then take the cup into the
bathroom. I can do this. I get the cup. I take it back. I fill the cup, but I
have to take it back to the kitchen to drink. Warm water on my stomach. Oh, my
God. Nothing in the entire experience of the whole human race feels as good as warm water. Surely God loves the universe if
He created warm water. I am so very grateful for this gift.
Back in the
living room I’m sweating, feeling washed out and a little weak. Sitting in the
green chair, the electricity charging up the back of my legs and out the groin.
The living room floating in the haze. Am I falling asleep or just awakening?
Always falling into the dreamawake. Again and again the pelvic thrust, and I
see my legs looking so, so thin in my loose jeans. A surge in the voltage
brings me to my feet.
flows into the stream, this amorphous yearning for God. That God so loved the world… I think of the Christ, and say the
Lord’s prayer aloud. The sound of my voice is startling. The Word rolls through me like thunder, and at
once I know in the depth of my bones that I am old. Old and thin. This body.
This thin frail body that I’ve ridden so hard for so long. I am desiccated, withered
as a mummy, a thin, dry chip of a man. I am a vein of fire at the center of a brittle
husk, and I know that soon this husk will
crumble and return to the earth. Only the fire will continue. Somewhere.
I know beyond all shadow that my time is mostly gone. I know that death is
immanent in all. This is not horrifying. This is not frightening. This is Truth and I
I stand at
the sliding door looking out into the back yard. The bottle brush tree shines neon
green, and scarlet fire in the deep late sun. It sings beauty for the sheer glory of life. I am rapt in
an infant's joy, a memory from the time before speech, and the days before words. I feel the
Grandmother’s love radiating from the colors of the foliage. This is what I
came here for. The sickness doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter at all.
It occurs to
me, even in this dream trance, that it is the same sense of divine love that I
felt from the Salvia so many years ago.
night, and Mary is getting home. The peak has passed, and the visuals faded. I’m
glad she’s back. She asks me how the
trip has been, and I try to explain, but it’s too hard to form coherent
thoughts, and I drift out mid-sentence... But the mescaline! How very strange.
me some broth and egg, and I sipped it spoon by spoon while she went to bed.
Now there was just the humming in my
ears, the all over soft current still flowing in every cell, the drowsiness,
and the restlessness. Sleep seems so
near, but too much energy in the loins, and still slow dopey. This waking dream
I so wanted to
sleep. But there would be no sleep that night, just a slow winding down of the
cycle. I didn’t want to spoil Mary’s night, so I stretched out on the couch, tried
to breathe deep, and relax. The body slowed, but my mind sank only 99% asleep,
and dangled above the darkness like Tantalus craving water.
So I’d get up, drink a little water, sit on
the futon in the den, relax, breathe deep, and again I’m so close to sleep. Each
breath draws me halfway there but I never quite arrive. Blessedly, my mind was
still and quiet. Eventually I just gave up and sat in the living room.
the Limbo hours: no stream of thought, no metaphysical speculation, no deep and
profound pondering of anything, no recounting the troubles and worries of daily
life. Just a dull gray fog. I could
vaguely acknowledge that the insomnia was frustrating to madness, but I was
neither frustrated, nor mad.
limbo, a blank and empty place, soft,
gray, and effortless. A mercy from whatever spirits rule this world. It sort of
makes up for the barfing going in. (Not really.)
was dark and cool, the sliding door open. I sat on the sofa looking at shadows,
listening to quiet, and feeling time drip by. Now and again Littlecat came in
to check on me. She’d bounce into the living room, rub against my ankle, want a
pet and a scratch and then dart off into the night again.
hour, the night ticked on, my body winding down, my headspace blessedly empty.
be no sleep all the next day, either. I could nibble at food, and sip water, but
that was about it. I’d been beaten pretty hard, and by 3:00 that afternoon even
the merciful sense of limbo was gone. All I could do was lie there and crave
sleep. I could still feel the buzzing 24 hours after drinking the brew. All in
all I was awake for about forty hours,
and on my ass for two days following.
It was a tough,
and amazing journey into the mescaline dream, like climbing up the roughest
mountain to get to the most wonderful view imaginable, and crossing endless
miles of flat featureless desert to return. You understand that the rough climb,
the amazing view, and the desert are all parts of the trip.
The nausea, the insomnia, the sheer level of
intoxication all sound awful. I won’t sugar coat things and say that the
sickness did not spoil much of the trip. But the buzz was wonderful, and sickness and
insomnia were integral to the experience. Just part of it. That’s all. Consider,
that there was no time in the trip where I felt regret, panic or terror. Even
during the sickness I never thought, ‘Please make this stop!’ Even though I was
tripping at my limit, I never wanted out. Even during the long empty hours I
simply understood that this, too, was a
part of what I had asked for, and that it would pass eventually. All in all it
was a magnificent experience.
I decided to
revisit the world of psychedelics a little over a year ago, but like a lot of
things, I sat on the decision for some months, and actually chickened out the
first time I had a chance to get some LSD. When I set out I didn’t expect
mescaline to be on the menu. Glad that it was. So what was I looking for? And
did I find it?
can’t teach you anything that you don’t already know, but they can show you
what you didn’t know you knew.
Psychedelics aren’t religion, but they can facilitate a religious
I see these substances as
natural wonders, strange awe-inspiring
places to visit like the Grand Canyon,
are here for a reason. We can only speculate as to why God saw fit to create
them, just as we may wonder that the Creation itself is suffused in beauty.
wanted the experience for its own sake.
I wanted a transcendent event. The Achuma gave it to me in spades, and for that
I am grateful. Sickness and all. But it’s no game for an old man. If life is a book, then the thick part of this
volume is in my left hand. At this point I think I may have finished a chapter.
But I always say that…