Despite having taken about a dozen very powerful trips this year, I've fallen far behind on my public reports. However, this doesn't mean I haven't been writing. On the contrary, I've been using every moment I can spare to work on a large essay that will consolidate a massive ongoing download from my closest companion--the good Spiritus Fungus. Today I've decided to take a short break from that essay to write about a more recent experience that left me feeling abysmal and disintegrated yet, perhaps for the first time in my life, joyously liberated.
Shortly after I started taking mushrooms seriously and more or less "got my shit together", I was very explicitly instructed to inform my mother and father about my mushroom habit. To my surprise, my confession was not initially met with hostility, but only minor suspicion and concern for my safety. I did my best to provide context for my pursuit, providing information about recent clinical studies and the implications of ubiquitous indigenous shamanic traditions. This confession was completely contrary to my previous mode of operation, which was to hide away from them all those naughty things they were sure to disapprove of (which sometimes felt like almost everything). In the family household, drugs and sex in particular were strictly taboo, sinful in fact, but naturally these were the two things that enraptured my adolescent mind above all. Since drugs were much easier for a timid bookworm to acquire than sex, I dove headlong into a rocky relationship with alcohol, cannabis and tobacco that lasted through most of my teens and twenties. That mushrooms helped to completely eradicate those addictions was good evidence to support my case.
Of course, my inebriated liaisons had to be kept hidden from my overlords, because the paranoid religion they imposed upon me denied the normal sane pleasures of life. So I tiptoed around their ostentatious home at night, contrived all sorts of methods to rid myself of tell-tale odors and washed my tobacco-stained fingers until they were as pink as Proust's dick. My tiny Altoids tin of pot was hermetically sealed inside of several ziploc bags and stuffed deep into my sock-drawer. To sixteen-year-old me, nothing could be more exciting than to lay perfectly still under my covers in my darkened room, saturated with gin and immersed in a rhapsodic wormhole of weed. On the handful of occasions when I got caught engaging in my favorite outlawed pastime, I was subjected to long-winded maniacal lectures about the fate of my sin-drenched soul if I didn't abandon my hedonic ways and be washed clean with the holy blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save the world from Satan and his evil minions.
With a head full of Camus, Kierkegaard and cannabis, this Jesus garbage just didn't make sense anymore. I knew that if I was to keep up my pursuit, I had to escape from this absurd narrative. I spent two summers as a construction laborer scraping together enough money to buy a van, and as soon as I graduated highschool I flew the coop and found my own nest in a faraway tree. My parents made it very clear that if I left the family home, I was entirely on my own financially. I gladly accepted this stipulation and embraced my newfound independence wholeheartedly.
Not a whole lot has changed since I ran away from home all those years ago. My now-shameless passion for vegetative contemplation in the dark has grown steadily. For several years I've operated my own small construction business, just to pay the bills and keep up appearances for my parents, to whom "success" is measured out in dollar signs. I've had a few unsuccessful romantic relationships, embarked on many adventures, and formed several strong loving friendships with equally alienated personas-non-grata. For the most part my life feels quite full, aside from a lack of time, the absence of an occupation that makes use of my potential, and a dull nagging desire for romance that grows fainter as my hormone engines steadily lose steam. I want for no material possessions aside from a warm bed, good books, my little beater pickup truck, and my bedroom fungi garden. Sometimes it makes me a little sad to live in the most beautiful place in the world with scarcely the time or money to enjoy it. The summers go by quickly when I'm working in the hot sun, and admittedly I feel a slight sting of envy when I see all the beautiful tanned rich kids driving to the beach, living out their robotic trust-funded lives which they take completely for granted. But I really can't complain, my life is very pleasant and the only suffering I endure is consciously, willfully self-inflicted through periodic mushroom work, which helps to keep me grateful and able to listen and empathize with others more effectively.
I've made my best effort to maintain some semblance of a relationship to my family since, after all, they did give me life and fed me good food. My older sister's family and my folks both live in suburbia, only a few minutes drive away from each other. My sister is the golden child, having married a millionaire and fulfilled her dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom, just like our mother. I make the two-hour journey to their hometown to see them as often as I can, which is rarely. Of course my two little nieces occupy my family's attention more than anything else, and their ability to nullify the effect of my absence has been very relieving. The less I have to associate with the family the better, as it is almost never a pleasant experience. However, they do occasionally request my presence, so I put a smile on and do my best to be pleasant, grateful and kind.
Last weekend I reluctantly sojourned to the homeland to pay my respects to the ancestors. Initially I had planned to attend a sweatlodge ceremony that was to take place in their city, but sadly due to the wildfires and extremely dry conditions, a fire ban prompted the organizers to cancel the event. My plan was to visit with the nieces for an afternoon before the sweat, but now I was on the hook for a full weekend reunion extravaganza. My truck had been giving me some trouble and I didn't trust it to make the journey, so I woke up at the crack of dawn and hopped on the Greyhound bus. My father met me at the station in his brand-new Tesla electric supercar, which he bought as a means of justifying his four other automobiles, personal airplane and his otherwise unnecessarily opulent lifestyle. It was immediately clear that he wasn't overjoyed to see me, his failure of a son.
The drive back to the house was mostly silent, as is the norm. He takes no interest whatsoever in my affairs, so after asking him a few rudimentary questions about the nieces, his work, and his new luxury RV (questions to which he gave pained, dismissive answers), we both retreated into our own heads. A few blocks away from the house, I spotted a small black cat in the middle of the road, which looked freshly killed. I pointed it out, allowing ample time for him to swerve and avoid the carcass, but instead he pressed the accelerator and ran right over it and desecrated the poor thing. Of course, due to the fact that I have a soul, I was completely shocked; I turned a ghastly look his way to see him chuckling to himself; "Oops", he said, wearing a smug grin that made me feel queasy.
When we pulled into the driveway at my folks' place, their elderly neighbor was outside watering her garden. I hadn't met her before, so I introduced myself before she and my father exchanged a few courtesies. Just as we were turning to go inside the house she proclaimed: "Oh yes, and the neighbor's little black cat went missing this morning. If you see it, do let them know". We both hesitated for a moment to process what we had just heard, then closed the door behind us.
Apart from this one disturbing event of the morning, the first day spent with my parents was actually quite pleasant. We went out for breakfast and had a nice conversation about the absence of healthy gut bacteria in the modern North American diet. I presented my theory that the Mazatecs of Oaxaca insist that mushrooms be eaten with the dirt on because it helps contribute to healthy gut flora and supports the metabolism of the mushroom's constituent compounds. Unsurprisingly this resulted in an immediate subject change.
My parents live very near a small idyllic lake, so after breakfast we put on our hiking boots and went for a stroll around the perimeter trail. Before heading out the door, I selected two little Psilocybe Cyanescens mushrooms that I had stashed in my backpack, and popped them in my mouth. Blackberries and salal berries grew in abundance alongside the path, so I paused often to gorge on these miraculous sacred purple offerings. The presence of a little psilocybin in the blood makes berry-picking a truly delightful activity. I guess I got a little hyper-focused on what I was doing because my folks had to tell me several times to quit dawdling, which was a reoccurring theme throughout my youth. They're always on the move... no time to enjoy the journey, only the unattainable illusory destination is important to them.
In the evening we made dinner together and laughed at videos featuring an eccentric man whose hobby was to hand-raise wild crows and ravens, who freely flapped around his apartment while he lectured the audience on the foolishness of keeping ravens as pets. Later on my mother and I had a conversation about the current state of the world, which she saw to be descending into moral decay. On a whim she selected a short podcast in which the speakers discussed C.S. Lewis' book "The Abolition of Man", a work that I've leafed through a couple of times. When the clip was over, I commented that the present state of the world reflected the European renaissance, which was catalyzed by several factors that mirror to a large extent what the world is experiencing today. This is by no means an exhaustive list:
-The proliferation of information by means of the printing press.
-Renewed interest in ancient tradition and Greek philosophy, natural law and polytheistic myth (the cartography of the soul).
-Patronage and altruism by wealthy philanthropists.
-Encounters with foreign cultures and the realization of social conditioning.
-The weakening influence of the Catholic church (due in large part to their handbook being made legible to underlings).
-Dietary modification through the importation of novel foods and drug plants.
I was trying to suggest that, despite that things look grim sometimes, there are many good things happening in the world. Our unfettered access to information permits independent learning and the healthy sharing of ideas, which may lead to social equilibrium, creativity and a time of peace and prosperity. She said she agreed with everything except for the "drug plants" part. My father didn't chime in, but his behavior suggested that he was feeling disgruntled.
All in all, it was a pleasant day, and I was mostly happy to be with my family. The positivity and relative openness of our conversations would make the events of the following morning all the more shocking to me. My sister and my nieces were scheduled to arrive for breakfast tomorrow and I had been up very early that morning, so I said “goodnight” and descended to the basement to sleep.
I woke up again at the crack of dawn and attempted to make myself a decaf coffee by pressing a coffee-cup-shaped button on my parents' fully-automated espresso machine. After a bizarre profusion of clacking and wheezing noises it ironically produced only one tiny drop of brownish translucent fluid. I pressed the button again, and thirty seconds later another sad little drop appeared in the bottom of my mug. Feeling intrigued but unsatisfied, I abandoned the mission, boiled the kettle and brewed a cup of strong mint tea. No matter, coffee isn't a friend of the mushroom anyway. As I tiptoed my way into the living room to crack open my book, my mother emerged from the dark of the hallway and said "good morning" in the way she always does, with a forced smile that almost resembles a smirk. This face she makes reminds me of an awkwardly grinning taxidermied yellowfin tuna that I once saw mounted on the wall of a backwoods fishing lodge in rural Ontario. It didn't occur to me until much later that it must have traveled a very long way to get to Ontario. Much to my relief, the nieces were sick and wouldn't be joining us. My sister is an obsessively suffocating helicopter mom; the sound of her rotor blades barking quickly sets my mind on edge, so I was pleased that I might have an opportunity to read my book in silence instead.
Unfortunately the silence was destined not to last. My father emerged from his hibernation earlier than usual, and for some reason he was very eager to talk at me this morning. I say "at me", because when it's time for my father to unload the contents of his unconscious, there is no point even attempting to slip a word in edgewise or otherwise. I'm often slow to gather the words to form a response that reflects how I truly feel, so I've been conditioned to simply bear the burden and listen until it's all over, or I'm at last provoked to anger. Today he wanted to gloat about the foolishness and laziness of the millennial generation, which turned out to be a roundabout way of accusing me of being foolish and lazy. Allegedly he employs only foreign workers because of their subservience and grateful willingness to work for a pittance; he doesn't employ white kids because they're entitled snobs who think they deserve the world on a silver platter. Sorry Pops, in no-man's-land everyone is a "foreigner", and exploiting minorities' stockholm syndrome to maximize profits is not something to be proud of.
I managed to barely squeak in my perspective by suggesting that perhaps millennials were struggling to find meaning in their lives due to ever-increasing poverty and the absence of healthy social tradition in our culture. I explained that cultural identity, which was systematically robbed from indigenous peoples all over the world, depends on a closely maintained relationship to the land, that initiatory systems involving plant sacraments were ubiquitous until very recently in the course of human evolution and should therefore be reexamined for their integral purpose as carriers of cultural memory. As usual, before I could complete my thought he rudely interjected with his opinion that "drugs" are gateways to demonic realms and both he and my mother (he often speaks on her behalf) were concerned that I had come under the control of an evil spirit. Just as had occurred in my youth so many times before, I was subjected to a torrent of asinine and hurtful accusations; I am corrupted by sin, and in order to be forgiven I must be cleansed with the holy blood of Christ who died on the cross for my wrongdoings, etcetera.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Even though I had heard it all before, this time it felt like it must be an elaborate prank. Only a month prior to this, I had my parents over for lunch and I showed them my flowhood and custom fruiting chamber which, as luck would have it, was full of happy Psilocybe Mexicana mushrooms looking very pretty basking under their blue light. Being a distinguished medical scientist, my dad isn't totally immune to cool sciency stuff. In fact, he at least pretended to be a little intrigued and open minded about it, even proclaiming that he might consider trying to eat some one day. He had read about the silicon valley Smeagols who microdose to enhance their programming brujeria, and felt that he too could benefit from such a creative boost. That encounter left me feeling truly hopeful and elated, perhaps my father would come around after all, maybe there was some hope of having an emotionally mature parent in this lifetime. Alas, reality caught up to me as I returned to the present moment, in which my father was now looming over me exorcist style, almost foaming at the mouth while calling on Jesus to help cast out my demons. If I did not accept the blood of Christ, I was doomed to burn in hell for all of eternity. He actually said these things to me, over and over again. Yeah, right... I'm the one possessed by a demon.
The irony of the situation was so thick; it was as if the reality hologram crashed for a moment and there before me stood an artificial intelligence bugging out of control, system failure immanent. While being scapegoated for the repressed paranoiac fears of a fifty-nine-year-old man-child, I was being told that in order to be forgiven, I must accept the blood of some other scapegoat who may or may not have been crucified over two-thousand years ago under very similar psychological circumstances. Several times I politely asked him to leave me alone, but it was no use. I couldn't help but let out a chuckle as I held my face between my palms, which were trembling uncontrollably from the adrenaline surging through my veins. I immediately regretted it, but I couldn't help blurting out: "Do you realize that right at this moment, you are persecuting the one you claim to worship, and that the blood of Christ is nothing but a metaphor for a psychoactive plant sacrament?". This completely scrambled his circuits, and of course only furthered his rage. He never wanted to hear about psychoactive plants again in his household, I was possessed by demons, I was going to burn in hell; around and around spins the static feedback loop of the profane mind.
When I felt I had suffered more than enough of this insanity, I closed my book about the history of the druids and heretical Christians, picked myself up out of my chair and looked at my father in the eyes. I began to speak with all the cool composure I could muster: "You coward. I'm your son. I'm your fucking son!" With that, I walked downstairs, gathered my belongings up into my backpack, his taunting remarks now raining from above until I calmly walked through the door where, just beyond the threshold, freedom awaited me with wide open arms.
I spent the rest of the day downtown breathing sea air and trying not to grieve. I lazily browsed a few bookstores and watched big red crabs scuttle bravely out of their traps, allowing the weight of the morning's events to slowly sink into my soul. I found a very cool mushroom cultivation book circa 1966 which contains lots of fascinating information about the history of European mushroom growing techniques, with particular emphasis placed on the early days of cultivation in France. I was shown that I am a microcosm of history; my whole life is a resonant episodic reflection of the past compressed into a scintilla, a codon.
My doctor-dad is the rational scientific paradigm personified. He had a brief stint as a backwater hippy and dabbled a little in psychedelics, but gave them up when his own shadow scared the shit out of him. As child I was the guinea pig for his dietary supplements which he developed to exploit others' misfortunes for profit. Much to his credit, he battled head-to-head with the grim reaper during his days as an ER surgeon. While working for the coroner he cut open corpses to determine how material causation supposedly gives rise and fall to consciousness. My mother has never worked a day in her life, instead she devotes all of her time to the service of her husband, her diseased theology and the perfect execution of classical compositions on the violin. She is a living museum, a sad lost girl trying to impress her daddies. And I, the aborted son, am too much in love with death and the truth it harbors to be acceptable to them who have only been taught to flee from it in terror, or in my father's case, to literally combat it with surgical tools. “It's not their fault...” I told myself, “...but it certainly isn't mine either”. No one is to blame for reality, It exists only for Itself.
If I sound macabre and ungrateful, that is understandable. However, mine is a perfectly normal cathartic reaction to being disgraced and scapegoated by one's progenitors because of a hereditary archaic delusion. Inside of their souls lives a vacuous parasite that, unbeknownst to me, fed on my gentleness, tolerance and patience for years and years. All I ever wanted from them was their love and respect, to experience the virtues espoused by their own precious doctrine. Instead I became conditioned to believe that it was normal to feel empty and abandoned, because I had never known anything different. Now, at last, the parasites will have to find another source of nourishment.
Yes, for seventeen years they clothed and fed me; all of the material comforts were provided, but I never felt as if they knew me, or even wanted to. They never looked deep enough to see the treasure I was crafting in my inner world, deep within the forge of my soul. Even during my days of service as an unwitting member of their cannibalistic cult, my Sunday best was never good enough for them. I always have been, and always will be a heretic. And by that I mean, one who is able to choose. If I'm demon possessed, so be it. The devil who possesses me may as well be Sam-I-Am, the gastronomically deviant protagonist of Dr. Seuss' “Green Eggs and Ham”, a book that I gave to my little niece for her very first Christmas present. I hope that it will help her learn to vanquish the vile spirit of indifference that surely lies waiting in her future.
I caught the bus back to my hometown and arrived after dark. During the walk home from the bus station I spotted several Amanita Phalloides mushrooms bathing under the glow of a street lamp in the same patch of grass where I see them every fall. Emperor Claudius came to mind, and I felt deeply ashamed at the pleasure that thought provided. I sat down on the curb, put my face in my hands and wept. When I sensed something approaching from the sidewalk to the left of me, I looked up and felt the cool breeze on my tear-soaked cheeks; a small black cat was trotting my way. It rubbed up against my leg and purred softly while I stroked its immortal charcoal coat.
That night I had two dreams. They were what I call “big dreams”, the kind of dreams that aren't dreams at all, but are actually “real”, in the sense that everything else is said to be real. In the first, I found myself peering into a small white windowless room in which two young orthodox Jewish men wearing yarmulke and sideburns sat at a table writing assiduously. Alerted to my presence, they craned their necks around to face me and stated in unison: “Shalom. We have two words for you: Mushroom. Holocaust." And that was all. In the next dream, my father was chasing me down an empty early-morning street under an overcast sky. Everything was gray and we moved in slow motion. My father was berating me and provoking my temper, so I stood my ground, turned to face him and began to beat him mercilessly with my fists until all signs of life had disappeared. An exposed, light-colored region of his lacerated face revealed not the bone-ivory of a skull, but rather what appeared to be electronic components.
And that, folks, is what an Oedipus complex looks like.
Mom and Dad and God - Suburban Lawns
Edited by DonShadow, 06 September 2018 - 11:56 PM.