Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Could Psilocybin Be the Next Caffeine? A Microdosing Report / disinformation / Thad McKraken

Well, this is an odd one. Typically if you were going to read an article of mine about psychedelics, it'd be about telepathic communication with higher dimensional forms of insectile intelligence or plants or some shit (which I continually pontificate about on Facebook, friend me). That's just sort of how I roll and, as a matter of fact, I just participated in a research study for John Hopkins University in regards to that exact topic. So it's not sounding so crazy anymore, is it? But, as with most bizzarro endeavors I find myself engaged in, I am but a talking monkey guided by means of mostly unseen synchromystic entanglement.
Last fall, I tossed up a post about the Hypnotikon psychedelic music festival in Seattle. After writing about it, I thought to myself, "hmmm, maybe I should try microdosing for this thing." It's something I'd read about, but hadn't truly considered experimenting with a whole lot before then. The closest I'd come to microdosing in the past was a result of accidentally taking bunk acid on several occasions in college during my early 20's.
The protocol there was typically that if you took acid and it didn't really kick-in after a couple of hours, you just used it as an excuse to drink yourself silly. Why alcohol and LSD go so well together is rarely discussed but Hunter S. Thompson loved to go on and on about it lest we not forget. Why do so many acid heads eventually evolve into total drunks? (I'm looking at myself for most of my adult life here, as well—not pointing fingers.) But even with the weak acid on these accidental excursions, I typically had enough to catch a pretty substantial perma-grin body buzz, just without the overwhelming and otherwordly tactile hallucinations. Microdosing is the act of taking a small amount of psychedelics so that its effect is barely perceptible. Most of the articles I've encountered about microdosing talk solely about using LSD. Anyway, as I was considering giving it a whirl at Hypnotikon, I was still on the fence. Then the very next article that appeared on Disinfo after my post was about, you guessed it, microdosing. Sold. I think it would have been impossible for me to resist such an obvious sign given the circumstances.
Fact is, it was probably the concept of trying such a thing with acid that was throwing me off a bit in the first place. Good acid's hard to come by these days and so I wasn't really feeling the idea of wasting any of my precious supply (which is now sadly long gone). But mushrooms, lord, those grow everywhere in the pacific northwest. In most cases, before I ever even start looking, they almost always find me first somehow. Seriously. As a matter of fact, I had a bag in my freezer that had been sitting there for a while. Truthfully, I only really try to take higher doses ritualistically these days, typically to reward myself for some sort of auditory accomplishment. At that rate, I didn't even really know if I'd get through them before they went bad. So before I went to this show, I ceremonially broke off an incredibly tiny piece of stem and swallowed it down with my vitamins. Seemed appropriate. Pretty much instantly, I ran into one of the potential problems in engaging in this sort of illegal experimentation, though. It's fairly impossible to gauge the dose you're getting just by look. Either there's a compounding effect with repeated use and I hadn't done them in a while, or I got a bit too much for a true microdose. I certainly went into super happy funtime 'shroom euphoria terrain for the entire evening. Now, I'm not complaining at all. I was at a psychedelic music festival and as such it was the most appropriate high imaginable. I wasn't out of my skull to the point where I couldn't talk or anything like that (which is what happened the year before). In fact, I just felt fucking amazing and shared bowls with a bunch of freaky tripster people. The downside is that, because of the intensity of the buzz, I had one or two more drinks than I should have and was a bit hungover the next day. I only mention this as a downside because for the last few years this is exactly the sort of shit I've been trying to avoid. As a matter of fact, I was scolded in my dream states pretty harshly for losing control just afterward. Those transdimensional, future-me assholes.
It was a two day festival and the next night I took, from what my perspective was, the exact same dose. It wasn't nearly as encompassing, just soothing and mildly pleasant in all actuality. I didn't have any problems drinking too much and conversely realized fairly clearly that I absolutely shouldn't, like I was a bit more in tune with my body than normal. Set and setting have a lot to do with the efficacy of higher dose trips, but in my mind these things are maybe a bit more testable with a lower dosage. I will say that the trippy music and visuals certainly brought on a sense of connection and familiarity with the timeless presences I've felt in higher states, and that this feeling vanished the second the music stopped. Another way of putting that would be to say that there was a deeper ocean-of-madness vibe I couldn't feel while microdosed that was activated by the external stimuli and not necessarily the drug itself. So, if I wanted to commune a bit deeper with the hive mind, all I'd have to do is focus a bit, but if I didn't want that, totally cool.
Interesting. The most perplexing thing about the two night experiment had to do with why the first night was so much more intense than the second. Again however, it's not like the first night was over the top out of this world either, it's just that if I were to say, looking to get a bunch of stuff done, that level of bliss might hinder the process a bit. It was more of a party high for sure. I was, of course, rather intrigued by all of this, and so I just had to explore further. A couple of times on the weekends, I again just threw an incredibly tiny piece of stem in with my vitamins. Very mild effects but not unnoticeable. I never did return to the heights of microdose number one, but it wasn't like nothing was happening either. After doing this now three or four times, as best as I could tell, the drug I could compare it to the most would be caffeine, surprisingly enough. There seemed to be a subtle, internal energy source generating free love at secret levels deep within me. As a matter of fact, I typically have an afternoon cup of coffee, and yet I didn't need one after microdosing in the morning. What else? Just an incredibly mild sense of euphoria really. So it's a bit like a sustained cup of coffee with a hit of Prozac. Well, if Prozac or caffeine also intensified the effects of alcohol and sex. Yeah, that'd be the other thing, because it was the weekend when I was doing this, I typically had a drink or two in the evening and can resolutely confirm: microdosing goes quite well with booze. I can also say that after that initial night, I have not once lost any degree of control drinking whatsoever because of the psilocybin. This means, of course, that microdosing might have had nothing to do with my overdoing it on the first night either. Just pointing out that I can see how this could potentially be a problem. Oh, and the sex, nothing out of this world mind blowing, but certainly a detectable bump in the intensity of the experience. But, this shouldn't be surprising to, well, anyone who's ever done psychedelics.
After giving microdosing a couple of whirls, I ended up playing a show on a weeknight and was like, why not? I'm staying up way later than I normally do and typically drink an extra cup of coffee or take a nap to make that happen these days. Let's test this theory of mine that psilocybin can work like caffeine. What I found was that while incredibly understated, it certainly seemed to do the job at hand. I figured if I was dozing off at 10pm after the first band, I could run up the street from the venue and grab a cup of joe. I felt exactly zero need. I ended up making it until nearly three in the morning, played our set no problem, and yep, even felt a mild boost in awareness at work the next day. Did I mention we ended up playing this show under the carapace of multiple paper mache mushrooms? Yeah, we did. Man I'll miss the Josephine.

A month later, I realized that the entire Occult film my band made is designed to put the viewer in touch with these insectile alien weirdoes I encounter in higher doses, but that' s another story I'm sure you'll hear me talking mad shit about here soon enough. What's more important is that I've probably experimented with microdosing now roughly ten times or so in the last four months, and it's been pretty much the same experience each time. Mild sense of euphoria coupled with an understated yet continually sustained energy plateau. Zero problems sleeping whatsoever. There was one other time I accidentally took maybe a bit too much. Weirdly, this was totally fine because I was planning on working out and then taking my dog for an extra long walk in the sun. Come to think of it, here's a picture of lil Zekers because I'm fairly sure there aren't enough adorable animal pictures on the internet.

Anyway, after getting back from the walk I was going to get some pressing interneting done, but there was sort of an uncomfortable twinge in the periphery of my consciousness. I was having trouble sitting still and focusing and was sort of annoyed about this. Immediately though, I came to the realization: wait, the exact same shit happens when I drink too much caffeine. I get so up that I can't sit still, which is why I rarely have more than I can handle on that front, and I can't honestly handle a lot. I normally drink half caff. No, really. I'm a Seattlelite who admits to this. So the slightly higher dose was great in promoting physical activity but not so much mental focus. The solution to this was a glass of scotch which sent me into mellow bliss territory and did, in fact, aid my concentration. I only had one more, didn't lose control at all, just felt way fucking better than I ever should have from drinking two glasses of scotch on the rocks. Music also sounded beyond amazing in this state, I might point out. Same deal, if I wanted to tap into the psilocybin high a bit more, all I had to do was focus internally on the music. It gets better though. The entire next day I still felt this understated euphoria pervading the outskirts of my consciousness. Pretty much right up until I went to bed, again skipping my typical afternoon cup of coffee. In the ten or so times I've now engaged in this experimentation, have I once detected any sort of negative side effect other than slight restlessness? Nope. Hangover? Not at all, in fact, seemingly the precise opposite. I felt better the next day.
And thus concludes the most boring trip report in history, but being dull is, of course, the point as the philosophical implications are fairly odd. A few weeks ago in a deranged ganj-i-tational state I was told that working soulless corporate day jobs had driven me a bit "schizo-frentic," which is a term I'm now probably going to throw around until the day I die. I need to learn to slow the fuck down and you know what, so does everyone the fuck else. I always thought psychedelics were a way to help completely detach yourself from the psychotic rat race mentality that pervades our bullshit monoculture, but again, the complexity of the situation actually seems to be quite a bit stranger. Maybe taking minor amounts of magic mushrooms can quite possibly HELP you fit into our culture. Good god, how much money does Starbucks make? Hey, corporate America, this shit sells itself and that'd be the fucking thing, as mentioned, there's even seemingly an amazing synergy with booze here, which is freaking everywhere I might point out. How much money do energy drinks make? Vitamin water? Jesus you fucking suits, wake up already. Let me throw a few marketing slogans at you "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Back In." Okay, don't like that one? How about "Stay up! With the hidden power of insectile telepathy!" Why can't you pay off the government to legalize this shit rather than low testosterone pill addiction marketing schemes? Yep, when I look around at our culture I'm always thinking, you know, there's just not enough testosterone. Christ, how long and how much money does it take to develop a ridiculous new chemical compound like that in the first place? Psilocybin would require zero development and, by my count, my eighty dollar bag held roughly a hundred and fifty microdoses.
I can see it now: low dose psilocybin pills at every truck stop, gas station from here to hell. But the more interesting question is, how does this stuff work exactly? Is it dangerous to do this sort of thing daily like I drink coffee or would I eventually drift into a permanent state of near overwhelming euphoria? Would the transdimensional daemon lords start manipulating me in positive and near imperceptible ways? Would I turn into a bug? I have zero clue, which is why I'll probably never go all in and try such a thing for any extended period. Also, and most significantly, it seems to be unleashing energy from deep within your mind somehow, which is a bit different than how things like caffeine and speed work, to the best of my knowledge. These are the meditational secrets the mystics have been telling us about for centuries. I've always felt the buzz that I can induce with sober inner focus on that front is amazingly similar, albeit milder and well, more like a microdose than a full on psilo-psychic invasion. How does all this work exactly? Finding these sort of answers will turn the very way we view the universe completely topsy turvy, which is why it terrifies the squares so. They've got holy wars to fight, after all. Until we quell our primal superstitions in regards to the supreme dangers of shamanism and the potentiality of shamanic chemical compounds, we'll probably never know the answers to these questions. Though, we really should at this point in history. Maybe the solution to the drug war is and always has been simply: better drugs. Occultist out.
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