The following personal description of the psychedelic experience was provided one of Synthesis‘ participants who joined one of our retreats in December 2018. He wanted to share his full description of the experience, which we are happy to provide here.
“On December 9th 2018, I took a high dose of psilocybin in a retreat near Amsterdam, accompanied by 14 other participants and 7 facilitators. Shortly after noon, I ate 30 grams of truffles, followed by a 15 gram booster two hours later. After consuming the truffles, which looked and tasted somewhat like walnuts gone sour, and the accompanying ginger tea, I put on my eye shades and lied back.
It all started very mildly, similar to the state right before you fall asleep, with some subtle shapes emerging in the dark. The colors were interesting but also predictable, with rainbow spotlights lighting up the darkness, the color scheme taken straight from the Dark Side of the Moon album cover. The oriental background music induced Buddhist and Hindu themes. I felt like being inside, in one of those dark boat rides in a theme park, floating from scene to scene, gliding through an Indian market place. It was all very subtle though, and I started to worry that the experience would be less profound than what I had hoped for. This feeling got worse when the person next to me started to giggle. Clearly, she was having a better experience than me, and I got distracted by hearing her laugh, for a while I even felt like it was preventing me from going deeper into my own experience. But later in the trip I felt a much stronger connection to her and to the people who were comforting her, while she was crying for what felt like hours.
There were a few times where it briefly felt like things were finally kicking off, where I suddenly moved up in the sky, moved outside. But it stayed very abstract, and I desperately wanted the experience to get more lucid, tangible, and concrete. I wanted to meet someone, relive a memory, experience a clear, vivid hallucination rather than this atmospheric state of floating. It was around this time that the disintegration of the ego started. The first sensation was that my hands weren't really my hands anymore. I had them folded on my abdomen underneath the blanket, and suddenly they appeared to belong to someone else. That felt promising. Then it became all about my eyes, and the duality of being inside versus outside. Whether my eyes were open or closed underneath the shades became a very important issue. Part of me wanted to close my eyes, and part of me was afraid that I would fall asleep and miss out on the whole journey. This struggle then turned into a struggle of whom these eyes belonged to, and it ended up feeling like two external forces were fighting for the eyes to be open or closed, and it somehow made me think of yin and yang. At this point the ego started to fight back. First the left side of my face became paralyzed. Then my face started to melt, and the eyes, nose and mouth fell off. None of it felt scary though, I was still aware that it was all part of the trip. Then there was a moment where my mind completely disconnected from my body, like a ghost image, and pivoted around the shades, so it was now floating right above me facing down.
The next thing I remember is waking up the gods. Suddenly something lifted the veil, and I instantly went from being the puppet to being the puppeteer behind the curtain. This felt overwhelming, like a sudden realization of living in a simulation, like being pulled outside of the Matrix. During this first encounter with the presence, it got annoyed, like I was disturbing its peace. I sensed that this was not a benevolent being, but it was clearly very powerful, bigger than life. Then it spoke to me. "Oh you puny little human, did you really think you could trick me with a bit of music and truffles?". It peeked through the veil as it adopted the shape of Shiva's head, and briefly the separation between our physical reality and the other side became a blur. There was this strong realization that we were not supposed to be eating these truffles, that we shouldn't be cheating reality like this, and I felt the urge to share this revelation later on with the facilitators.
Then I drifted back, and I remember feeling concerned that I might be too far out when the opportunity was offered to take a booster, because I still couldn't shake this feeling that my experience was not as profound as I had expected. I hadn't encountered any spirit animals, hadn't revisited any childhood memories, hadn't met any lost loved ones. When they did offer the booster, I told them I thought I wanted to go a bit deeper and assured them I hadn't experienced anything scary yet. They proposed another full dose, but I couldn't imagine being able to chew that many truffles again, so I asked for a little less. I ate the truffles, swallowed the tea, used the restroom, and put my shades on again.
This was when things started to get more interesting. Right away, the hallucinations were more vivid than before. Still abstract, but clear geometric patterns, arabic motifs pulsating from the centre outwards like a kaleidoscope. It felt cliché but also pleasant. I started to feel much more closely connected to the music, and whenever the facilitators passed by spraying around strong smells like lavender and palo santo, I breathed in through my nose like my life depended on it, and started smiling uncontrollably. This phase of the journey was very enjoyable and sensory oriented, but nothing compared to what followed.
All of a sudden, my right eye focused on a beam of light that shone right through the shades. I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed this obvious construction flaw before. And suddenly the presence was back, in the left bottom corner of my peripheral vision, bigger than before, but calm. It took on a silhouette shape, black against a black backdrop, with a rainbow border. And we weren't sitting inside the shades anymore. We were sitting in the absolute void, the centre of the universe, at the beginning of time. During this second encounter with the presence, it was less hostile, more all-knowing than all-powerful. I felt like I was presented with a choice, and I needed to decide whether I really wanted to go through with this or not.
The next thing I remember is how the veil ripped right open. Suddenly I was traveling at the speed of light through a stream of pure white heat. I was no longer seeing, smelling, or hearing, but perceiving the universe around me at a level far beyond those human senses. The feeling was overwhelming, but all I had to do was completely surrender to it. The booster had kicked the doors of perception right open, and all the sensory filters were now turned off, the reducing valve shattered into a million pieces. But comparing it to how a small child perceives the world didn't make sense at all. This was not a blooming, buzzing confusion. This was raw, violent, powerful, dangerous, and there was no way a child would be able to deal with this. In this state of pure delirium, I realized that I had uncovered the secret, that this alternate state of consciousness, this level of superhuman perception was what it was all about. This felt like an epiphany, and I kept repeating to myself, "Now I know, now I know, now I know". Again I felt the need to share this with the facilitators, to let them know that they could just skip all the questions now, or take me straight to whoever was really in charge, because I was one of them now. Now I knew the truth, and this truth was bigger than life itself.
Now that I had finally surrendered and reached this state of ecstasy, I started analyzing the experience. I realized how silly it had been to be disappointed by the lack of tangible, concrete hallucinations at the start of my journey, rather than aiming straight for the ever more abstract, for the divine. At this point the dissolution of the ego was complete. The idea of revisiting a childhood memory seemed ridiculous, because this would be the memory of one tiny little human being, and we were visiting the whole universe instead. Similarly, questions like whether I still loved my wife and children, or whether I could ever go back to my regular job, or whether this would classify as one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, all seemed completely irrelevant, because they all pertained to this one individual, and this truth I had uncovered was bigger than all of humanity. Of course this person still loved his wife, and of course this was by far the most significant moment of his life, but it was infinitely more than that.
In analyzing the journey, I also started to shape it. I realized that I hadn't experienced the feeling of oneness yet, and suddenly the oneness revealed itself to me, though it was less warm and harmonic than I had expected. I understood that all living creatures are connected in the sense that they are all part of this uniform veil that shields the raw reality underneath and that I had now torn open. I briefly wondered if I felt a stronger connection to nature itself, but then I dismissed this idea, because this universal power couldn't be contained by a single planet's ecosystem. Next I wondered whether this journey would classify as a genuine mystical experience, and suddenly that is exactly what it turned into. I felt as I touched god itself, and had reached the sanctum sanctorum, the holiest of the holy. I was surrounded by a white glow and it was all bliss and gratefulness. The music that was playing at the time was also purely divine, and the chanting visualized as being sung by a rotating cluster of Brahma heads. I simply couldn't believe that this music had been composed by mere mortals. It seemed clear beyond a doubt that whoever had created this music also knew the truth.
And just as I thought I couldn't possibly get any higher, the veil burst open again and I had my third encounter with the presence. Now the angels were having a bacchanal party in a sea of white fire and invited me to join them. It was a party of love, but it was a violent love. It was The Doors rather than The Beatles. For just a few seconds, I was riding high in the sky with the angels, it was the absolute peak of the journey and the happiest moment of my life. There were two of them now, and they took on the shape of soft, smiling Buddha silhouettes, pure white against a black sky, with rainbow sparkles around the edges. Afterwards I continued floating through the galaxy at the speed of light and lost all track of time.
After a while I felt that I needed to urinate, but I didn't want to step out of the experience, and besides, it wasn't me who needed this, it was this human body lying there while my mind was in a completely different space and time. But an hour or so later, it got more urgent and I took off the shades to go to the restroom. The face in the mirror was still me, but the eyes were not of this world, these eyes had seen the truth. I went back and put on my shades, but after a while, I realized I didn't need the shades anymore. My eyes were wide open, and the unfiltered reality was still streaming right through them. I understood that I hadn't so much opened a door to another reality, but I had become the door itself, and the door was wide open, as my eyes were wide open, and the angels were right there at the other side, and if you looked right into my eyes you would be able to see them. I wanted to yell out, "The angels are here! Can't you see they are right here?!", but again something stopped me from sharing this revelation, and I stored it for later recollection instead.
An hour or two later the experience started to fade in and out in waves, and I realized I was slowly starting to come down. The return of the ego was a struggle at first, because it seemed so utterly pointless to go back to living the rest of this mere human life, knowing what I now knew. This feeling of sadness was compensated by the bliss of the afterglow. At one point, I sat up and spend half an hour or more looking at a large ancient statue in the room, just enjoying the visual hallucinations, the shifting of shapes and colors, the interplay of matter and anti-matter, of space and negative space, with everything bathing in this warm, orange-pink glow. As I became more aware of my surroundings, I felt a particularly strong connection to two of the facilitators, a strong sense that they also knew the truth, that they had been there before, that we had even been there together. I felt that they also understood how serious this all was. This was no laughing matter, no light hearted business. No matter how positive the whole journey had been, I realized that knowing the truth would also be a burden.
I travelled all the way. I went into this experience, not just believing there is nothing beyond life itself, but knowing it, deep inside me, without a shadow of doubt. And I returned from this journey, not just believing in something else, but knowing it's there, right underneath the veil, breathing in all its glory.
I wrote down my key revelations immediately afterwards, and spent most of the next day writing out the notes above. I felt a strong need to record what happened, as a way to hold on to the experience. In the following days, there were brief moments of a more subtle afterglow. On my way to the airport, I saw the most beautiful, vivid rainbow I had ever seen, and the sky above was split with the darkest clouds on one side and the brightest sun on the other. Some colors seemed brighter, certain people appeared to glow, and the patterns behind my closed eyes were more vivid than usual. I started hugging my wife more often, and it became easier to feel empathy for certain colleagues at work. But the second night after the experience was long and scary. My sister had made a comment about how she hoped I hadn't gone psychotic, and after waking up in the dark, a hint of afterglow started to feel more like a flashback, and I started to fear for my own sanity of mind. But the next morning I went for a run in nature and it made me feel more alive than ever.
Later that day, I was trying to find out more about the statue I had been looking at during the trip. I came across an image of a different statue, a 16th century depiction of Xōchipilli, the Aztec flower prince, god of love, music and flora. This caused a shock of recognition, because he was sitting in the same position I had been sitting in during the trip, and he was wearing a mask with hollow, open eyes, and there were psilocybin mushroom caps pictured on his knees. I felt humbled by the idea that people at the other side of the world, 500 or even thousands of years ago, had experienced something so similar to me, and it helped me understand how this sacred journey truly transcends all space and time.
I didn't suffer from any addictions, but I ended up changing quite a few habits right after the experience. There was this sense of detachment that made it a lot easier to say no to eating meat, or to drinking alcohol, or to sugar and candy, or to eating more than I needed. It didn't require any effort at all. In a way, this was another way to hold on to the experience. The sense of detachment that allowed me to say no felt like a subtle after image of the ego death I had experienced.”