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The Ecstatic Adventure

  Reports of Chemical Explorations of the Inner World

    Chapter 21 — The Eyes of Wonder


CHARLES IS TWELVE, Arnold is nine. Both boys live in a community of about thirty adults and fifteen children, Charles with his mother and nine-year-old brother, Arnold with his mother and father. The community is strongly oriented around the taking of psychedelic drugs for spiritual purposes. There is a "meditation house" in which members of the community spend twenty-four hours at a time alone or with a guide on a trip. The adults of the community are engaged in work of various kinds—gardening, printing, writing, painting. Both boys go to school, as do the other children in the community.
    Psychedelic drugs are regarded as sacraments, and sessions are taken seriously, though not solemnly. Mrs. Soames explained that the children themselves asked repeatedly to take LSD, and that she only permitted it after considerable soul-searching on her part. Very little was known about the effects of LSD on children, although there was not the slightest reason to expect any harmful consequences. LSD had been used successfully by Fisher, Bender, Simmons, Freedman and others in the treatment of childhood schizophrenia and autism, in children as young as four years old.
    Mrs. Soames pointed out that Charles' unusually highly developed spiritual understanding was not attributable only to LSD, since for about a year prior to coming to the community they had been meditating together daily. She felt the main effect of the LSD sessions was the more rapid development of independence and self-confidence in the boys. Of course, one cannot generalize from one or two cases; nevertheless, the potential of LSD for facilitating the transition to independence was recognized by Aldous Huxley, who in Island, his final, psychedelic utopia, describes a rite de passage for adolescents, involving the moksha medicine. If Marshall McLuhan is right that we are returning to a tribal culture, we may soon see the revival of adolescent tribal transition rites, which, as in the immemorial tradition of the American Indian, involve the solitary vision quest, the search for the God within.
    Describing a session she had with her two sons, Mrs. Soames said: "I experienced them not as my children but as very special souls that had come into those particular bodies, through my body, for a special reason. A feeling of not being their 'mother' in the game sense, but that they belonged to another reality, another consciousness that's actually taking care of all of us. And that I'm simply a vehicle to help them have experiences that they need to have, in order to grow on the soul level. For me it was good that I had that vision, because it's made me much less possessive and less eager to impose my own value system on the children. Out of that has come more of an ability on my part to allow them to be themselves."

    R.M.: Charles, how old are you now?
    CHARLES: I'm twelve; I'll be thirteen in about a month.
    R.M.: When was the first time you took LSD?
    CHARLES: I can't remember exactly, but it was last year around September, I think.
    R.M.: How many times have you taken it?
    CHARLES: Seven.
    R.M.: Could you describe the most recent trip that you had?
    CHARLES: Let's see; I took it by myself in the meditation house. I took a fairly low dose; it was 100. I discovered a couple of things. I discovered that what I really want to do is take more LSD trips and learn and explore and experience. I think that going to school and getting an education is really important, because you'll have more background and knowledge that you can use to relate to certain things that you discover and encounter on your trips.
    R.M.: Did you feel that you went, when you took the LSD, that you went outside of yourself?
    CHARLES; At times, yes. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I go inside, and then Once I've gone inside, I'm out of my body, except I'm really experiencing inside.
    R.M.: Are you still aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you?
    CHARLES: Well, sometimes. If something happens outside, it can bring me out, you know. Like maybe a bird chirping outside, or if something falls. If it's really quiet I can shut off hearing. It depends on what the surroundings are. On my last trip that happened to me a couple of times; a dog scratched on the door, a couple of small disturbances that kept me from shutting off the outside world.
    R.M.: Have your experiences made any difference to the way you relate to other people, like your mother, your brother, your friends?
    CHARLES: Well yes, I think so, because I found that there's no point, there's really no point at all in conflicting with other people. I discovered that also everybody is just about the same, they react to things in just about the same way. I've also found a peace. I used to always fight with my brother. Now I don't anymore, because I just love him more. I just want to love him so much. I guess I found out what love really is.
    R.M.: Have you and your brother taken it together?
    CHARLES: A couple of times, yes.
    R.M.: Did you find that you were able to communicate?
    CHARLES: Yes. I can't really describe it, because it's hard to put into words. LSD has given me the power to see where a person is at, you know, so I can be friends and know what to say, and be friendly with them.
    R.M.: How has it affected your school?
    CHARLES: Well, at first I was kind of rebellious because all my classmates were sort of gamey and talked about things that simply didn't interest me. I didn't see any point in talking about them. But now, I try to accept it, because my classmates—they just don't know. I think LSD has given me the edge on them, because I can—I don't know, it's improved my schooling a lot.
    R.M.: Has it made you more interested in different things?
    CHARLES: I can see how all this knowledge that I'm collecting is going to help me later in life, as I grow spiritually and mentally and physically. It's going to help me a lot when I grow up.
    R.M.: Have you ever had any trips where you became scared or confused?
    CHARLES: I guess I never really freaked out, but about my fifth session I started hallucinating different things that I just didn't like. Since it was the first time that I ever had any trouble I didn't know what to do—didn't know whether to accept them or try to shut myself off from them, you know, or something like that. But now whenever I come into that sort of thing I just tell myself that it's part of myself and just forget them and that whatever it is, it's not bad, because, you know, everything is God and whatever God does through me can't be bad. So now I just try to love them. I guess I haven't really had a lot of trouble because I haven't really taken that high a dose.
    R.M.: Do you think other children of your age could benefit from taking LSD?
    CHARLES: Some—it depends on the individual. Some children are brought up in a place where the mother and father don't really love them, they're just one of the flock, you know. Some children are well loved and well taken care of, and I think LSD could help a lot of children like it's helping me. Depends on the individual, how they're brought up. I was brought up being loved and I was very fortunate. I guess it all led up to coming here and taking trips. Some children that are well balanced could take trips and not freak out, and it still might not help them.
    R.M.: As a result of your experiences, what kind of idea do you have about God?
    CHARLES: Well, before I started taking LSD, God was something—well, I knew a lot of people believed in Him and He created the earth, that sort of thing. Now I really know that He's taking care of me and everything else that He created, and He's aware of everything in His own way; I don't know how He does it, but He just does it. I've become more aware of His love for everything—I just realized He's taking care of me, and now I feel Him more closely. I know He's always been close to me but I haven't been aware of that.
    R.M.: What do you like to do most? What interests you most?
    CHARLES: Well, I like music a lot, and I like to play the guitar, and I've got a trumpet, I play that. And I'm also occupied with taking trips and learning. But other than that, music is my main interest.
    R.M.: What do you like to do most? What interests you ever had?
    CHARLES: I think it was my first session, because it was an altogether new thing and the only thing I knew—it was so intense that the only thing I knew was that I had a guide, and he was guiding me and I was on a trip. And I think it was mainly a trip of discovery, discovering LSD. I think the reason it was the most powerful was that it was the first. I think also the reason it was so intense was because I didn't know too much about it. I wasn't aware of where God was at really, and I discovered a lot about Him in that session,
    R.M.: Try to describe to your best friend or brother, or someone close to you, what LSD is like and what it can do.
    CHARLES: It's like going into the future. Everything is speeded up, really going fast. Everything is constantly changing, your sense of hearing and taste are greatly magnified. Sounds that you normally can't hear, now in the session you can hear them. Things you taste have an altogether new taste. Whatever comes, just let it come, and let it go.

    R.M.: Hi, Arnold. How old are you, Arnold?
    ARNOLD: I'm nine.
    R.M.: How many times have you taken LSD?
    ARNOLD: Twice.
    R.M.: Do you remember how much you took?
    ARNOLD: I think the first time 100, and I forget how much I took the other time.
    R.M: Do you want to try and describe what happened?
    ARNOLD: Well, on my first session I was out on Ecstasy Hill on the property with Bill and Jane, my mother and my father. We were going to stay overnight and so we—at first I was a little afraid of what was going to happen; because I didn't know if I should take it or not. So my mother said it'll be okay, so I took it in some tea and then we all went to sleep out on the field, and it was in the fall. And so, after a while I woke up, except I couldn't move because I felt very weak, I just felt like I was flowing away. So then finally I got up and I looked at my mother and I just kept on looking at her and then I looked at Bill and I kept on looking at him. And Bill looked at Jane, and then we all started laughing. And I got up and started to walk. When I walked it sounded like I was stepping on long tubes, it sounded like I was just crunching down a forest or something. And I took another step and the same thing happened. And then I got used to it, and I walked over to a pear tree and I bit into a pear and it sounded like a storm inside my mouth. I don't know how to describe how it tasted, but after that we just... I just kind of explored the grass and the trees and everything. We didn't talk for a long time. We went into this tree and I was looking at the tree and the tree started moving and it looked like giant arms were coming around to grab me, but I just started, you know, kind of laughing and climbed up the tree and it was still all moving and Bill was moving and Jane was moving. And then Bill said that he thought it was a yogi tree. And I said, "Maybe it is, you know, because the branches are all curvy and coming down at me." And then we got down and it was getting dark and we made this little shrine out of tuna-fish cans and a candle and we started looking at it and after a while we heard, I heard, lots of bells and whistles, and then we started eating, except we didn't have a fire. So we went to bed and there were still lots and lots of doorbells. We got up and we went to look at the stars. There were so many things in the stars that I can't describe all of them. The Big Dipper turned into a lion. And I saw lots of things in the sky. And we fell asleep. Next morning we woke up, and this time I wasn't on my trip anymore. But I went out and got some wood and I made the fire for breakfast. And then we went back to the house.
    R.M.: What about your other trip?
    ARNOLD: That was a group session. It was in Martin's room at the house, and when we first took it, we had the Haunted House record, so I heard that. And there are things like funny yells and bridges crashing. Me and Charles and Alan were laughing and laughing and rolling all over the bed and laughing, we just couldn't stop laughing. And then, after that, I was looking at my mother once in a while, and I'd look at her and she'd turn into some kind of wolf or something and go "grraugghh"—and I couldn't look at her. It seemed like she wasn't my mother, but she was some enemy or something. And so I tried to look at her again, and then she was my mother again. But the first time I looked at her, I just couldn't look at her. After that S. brought up some punch and I got up and Martin started playing the Alice in Wonderland record. And I looked over across the room and I saw this little white rabbit that I pictured in my mind from the record, and so it ran across and jumped in the punch bowl, because someone took a cup of punch and I thought there was the rabbit jumping into the punch bowl. I went over and stood on a chair and I looked down in the punch bowl and I was just about to fall in it and Martin stopped me. I just kept on looking for a while and then he changed the record and I went down looking for a rabbit. Martin was sitting on this big kind of throne thing, and before the trip he gave me the glass and he said, "Arnold, here's your enlightenment, have a good session." So I went out and I remembered that and I went and looked at him, and he said, "Kitchen yogis, this is your enlightenment," and he held up an egg.... So after a while I started to dance, I was dancing around and getting dizzy, nearly falling down. And then Martin and S. said, 'Why don't you bring us up something to eat, some meat and other things." Everybody else that was on a trip thought he was just kidding, you know, about meat and all that. But I didn't think it was a joke and I got some pork chops and hot dogs and sausages and something else and some eggs, and I brought them up and I said, "Here." And Martin looked just shocked, you know. He said, "I didn't expect you to bring up all this, you know." So then, after that, me and Charles and Alan went down and baked a cherry pie. By this time we were just about ending the trip. So we ate the pie and about that time my trip was over.

    Chapter 22

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