The first time I ate mushrooms a Papua New Guinea shaman showed up

The following story appears in The Psychedelic Anthology: Volume I as There and Back. 

The gathering was held at my mother’s home while she was away on vacation. The majority of our party had always been curious about hallucinogens but we never had the opportunity to experience them until now.

We soaked the mushrooms in heated water to extract the chemicals into a blueish brew and served it in my mother’s blue and white China teapot set I’d given her last Christmas. Each with our own cup, we drank the strange concoction and wished ourselves luck for the journey. After half an hour of waiting with no immediate response, we decided to drink more of the tea and then decided to finish off the remaining mushrooms in the shopping bag, just to be sure.

We all sat in my mother’s living room, which was decorated with family portraits, a large record collection and a high ceiling with paisley patterns. It was around this time that I started to get the giggles. I felt fuzzy and a slight tingling sensation came across my body. The colors and patterns of the room slowly began to increase in vibrancy and I saw that the others were feeling the same.

I turned to my friend Harvey, who was sitting next to me on the couch. He was leaning his head back, staring at the ceiling with the facial expression of complete awe and wonder. “Hey Harvs, are you feeling it?” I asked him.

“Duuuuuude,” he said, “The ceeeiling is moooving!” In response, I too decided to look at the ceiling to see the paisley patterning beginning to morph, twist, and fractal out around the room. I became fascinated with the intricate patterns on the couch’s cushions. It seemed to project out letters from various alphabets, like when a smoker blows smoke rings. Walking along the kitchen table, I felt as if I was standing on the edge of a cliff face, with each step carefully placed to prevent myself falling into the fabricated abyss.

I moved from the living room into the bathroom to relieve myself, all the while adamant to remain focused on the task at hand, as to not make a mess. I turned the tap to wash my hands and was startled to see not water flowing out as I had expected, but jigsaw pieces filling up the bathroom sink. My first reaction was to attempt to put these liquid jigsaw pieces together and solve the puzzle. I was in that bathroom for a good half an hour splashing around with the water aimlessly, until my attention was finally alerted to the living room by the sound of familiar music.

I returned to the rest of the party who were all laughing and giggling, each having their own unique perception of reality altered and expanded. I sat down in a comfy beanbag chair and closed my eyes. On the speakers, Tool’s “Rosetta Stoned” started to play; a track I am very fond of. It was at this time I said to myself, “Hey, I’ve always seen pictures of hippies in the ‘60s sitting down with their legs crossed and eyes closed; I wonder what will happen if I do that, too.” Keep in mind that I had never meditated before, had never had mushrooms before and had no idea what was next in store for me.

Behind my eyelids, I saw an intricate and beautiful mandala pattern; spiraling and fractaling with a small, bright white light in the center. I began to hear a sharp tone slowly increasing in volume. The spirals spun faster and faster, the bright white light got brighter and brighter until it engulfed my entire being in a blinding bright white light… and suddenly I felt a distinct “POP!”

I slowly opened my eyes and as my vision began to return and adjust, I realized I was no longer sitting on a beanbag chair in my mother’s living room surrounded by my friends—I was standing on top a giant sand dune in a golden desert under bright blue sky with not a single cloud in sight. I slowly turned myself a full 360 degrees to take in this entire scene change. There was nothing else in sight except scorching hot dunes of golden sand and clear skies reaching out to the surrounding horizon. Suddenly and without warning, a traditionally-clad 7-foot tall Papua New Guinea shaman materialized in front of me. He was covered in paint, wearing a simple tunic with long black dreadlocked hair, feathers decorating each lock, face tattoos, and piercings, leaning on a tall tribal spear.


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Together we stared into each other’s eyes, not saying a word, feeling the wind blow against us and the sun’s hot rays on our skin. We stood like this, eyes locked for what felt like an eternity, but not at any moment did I feel threatened or strange about this interaction. To me, it felt as normal as us breathing, like he and I had done this many times before. After what felt like an infinite amount of time, the 7-foot tall tribal shaman began to make a deep, low basso rumbling sound with his voice, like roaring thunder. I can no longer recall what his message was and why this was happening, but I felt the sensation that this shaman had already prepared to meet me in this realm.

The rumblings continued until he finally said, “Ohwaaaaaaaa – Lars, Lars, Lars, Lars, Lars…” and repeated my name over and over again. The desert began to fade away, the shaman vanished, and like a dream, I woke up on the beanbag chair in my mother’s living room with my friend Luke softly shaking my shoulder, repeatedly calling out my name… I had returned from whatever alternate dimension I had occupied.

To this day, several years later, I can still recount this experience to those who wish to listen. It truly was an incredible first encounter with psychedelics and fueled my endeavors to research the mind, igniting the flame of awakening in my heart and soul.

Design by Russell Hausfeld

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