One Hour That Changed Everything
In a shift pod in the desert, under the influence of an “ally”, fifty years of trauma poured out in a deluge, freeing me from a lifelong cage and returning me to wholeness. This is the story.
Ted was gently insistent. “I felt bad that you didn’t get to have the experience two years ago.”
He was referring to the fact that two years earlier, while on a retreat in the California highlands with 30 other people—after a life-changing evening under the influence of Cambodian mushrooms, followed by a horrific night spent gripped in psychosis, about which I wrote about in a piece called 24 Hours in Hell, and which had landed me in a county lock-up after running through a freezing landscape all night—I had missed out on our third and final “dive”.
5-MeO-DMT—the most powerful psychedelic medicine of all—had been on the menu.
So here we stood two years later in Black Rock City, with Ted—a seventy-something sonorous man, gentle in his demeanor and very experienced—telling me he thought that I could benefit from experiencing “the toad”.
I was nervous.
While two years had passed since my ill-fated psychotic trip, I had no wish to repeat it, nonetheless with something far more potent than the cocktail I’d ingested then.
Having heard of the range of reactions psychonauts had experienced under the toad’s influence, I knew that once the rocketship took off, there was no return. The 15 minutes it typically lasted could—and often did—shatter lives into oblivion.
My friend Jamie, who was with me at Burning Man, and on his own journey, has no such qualms.
Standing under the early morning sun, the morning I was scheduled to experience it, Ted shared that it was best for a trusted friend to be present for the journey—to “hold space” for the traveler. While I demurred, still unsure I was ready for the risks, Jamie volunteered to take my place, and asked me to be that friend, for him.
Relieved and touched, I eagerly accepted.
While the details of Jamie’s trip are private, the stillness I witnessed in him—betrayed…