Psychedelic Stories

hosted by CSSDP McGill, CSSDP Concordia, & Psymposia on Sept. 19, 2015

Mathis Harpham, CSSDP Concordia organizer

The doors of Caravane Cafe opened at 7pm to welcome students, scientists, psychonauts, and laymen alike. Pamphlets and 920 stickers were laid out on the CSSDP table in the entrance, and the adjacent Psymposia table displayed an array of books on psychedelics by Stanislav Grof, Rick Doblin, and Rick Strassman, and others. Artist Hannah Hackney sold delicate mandala and line drawings to the other side of the CSSDP table. As binaural music played in the background, people got seated while the kitchen bustled with cooks and helpers preparing food for the break. The seating area, with dozens of chairs in the centre, couches lining the walls, and color-shifting lights bathing the room, helped attendees get comfortable to enjoy the ride of the fantastic stories to follow. Adida, a Montreal-based artist, began live drawing a 920 tribute piece on canvas which would later be raffled.

Lex Pelger, the host, introduced the first speaker. Pol, a transformational coach, went on stage and described his personal experience with psilocybin mushrooms, his original goal having been to disprove the theories from the psychedelic literature that he had read and found preposterous. Then ensued a life-changing trip after which he redefined his professional life, his relationships, and to a certain extent his personality. He quit his job and found a new partner, but also developed problems including agoraphobia and extreme anxiety. The audience laughed at his dry humor but was hanging onto every word. Pol described living in the Amazon for four months, partaking in Ayahuasca ceremonies, and relearning and reintegrating the necessary knowledge to function normally in society when he came back, stick-thin and unrecognizable. Overall he says his personal transformation spanned 5 years. He is now a coach, using his background in finance and his psychedelic experiences to help emerging entrepreneurs.

Up next was Jean, who read in French. A writer and filmmaker, his was a mind-bending psychedelic story involving a tribe looking for a citadelle.

Following was Danji, a musician and artist from Maine whose story concerned his father, an episcopalian priest. As the story goes, Danji’s father was offered LSD by a narcotics officer whose marriage he had blessed, and tripped to some well-chosen Beethoven music. The story gave an interesting viewpoint on an officer who knew about the positive aspects of LSD and found an LSD session to be an appropriate gift to thank Danji’s father for marrying him. A very rich story, considering narcotics officers are often demonized in the psychedelic community.

Jennifer Dumpert was up next, telling the audience a story involving her experience being at work on LSD.

As the host announced a break, everyone rose from their seats to snack, mingle, look at Adida’s progressing piece, or step outside for some fresh air.

When the break was over, Spiros Antonopoulos took the stage to share his psilocybin experience. He was legally injected with psilocybin in New Mexico and had a native american themed trip. Many questions involving the reasons for such research to be sanctioned by the government started coming to his mind and he eventually wanted to get out of the lab as soon as possible.

Lex then provided historical background from the 60s. At that time, the American government was looking for a truth serum and gave the CIA carte blanche for a project called MKUltra which turned out to be inconclusive and harmed and even killed several unwitting test subjects.

Edgar was the next speaker, who read a poem and a surreal delirious story involving a main character named Attila.

Up next was Brett, who works in a cannabis laboratory and is also a musician. He talked about the psilocybin mushroom having its own intentions, and then went on to describe an Ayahuasca experience. After ingesting the brew, he unfortunately ended up alone outside the tripping room, because he was in the bathroom while they sealed the doors, so no one would come in and disturb the ritual. Brett, who is himself Jewish, then experienced sheer terror and horrifying visions as he experienced the Second World War, in the Nazis’ perspective. Being Jewish, he saw himself and his people as parasites to be eliminated. He did not know what to make of the experience, and he had a similar experience during a trip on psilocybin mushrooms. This other trip ended with him being convinced that it had to rain; he did a rain dance while chanting and summoning a storm. There not a cloud in sight and he gave up in frustration, but a few moments later, him and his friend were warned by two people on a golf kart that a storm warning had just popped out of nowhere. Without settling for one particular explanation, Brett ended his story with an interesting reflection on reality, which he sees as the convergence of what we think it is and what happens to us.

Brett’s story was followed by a more light-hearted one by Jesse, a journalism student who described a hilarious experience visiting a sex museum on psilocybin mushrooms in Amsterdam.

The following storyteller, Brian, described the first time he took LSD. He ended his story on a cautionary note, explaining how important it was to have a sober trip sitter and to prepare the set and setting appropriately, something he did not do which resulted in a frightening experience.

Having finished his art piece, Adida was the next one to share his psychedelic experience. He had found himself taking psychedelics because he wanted to impress his friends. Wandering through the streets, he had several epiphanies about modern life and the way humans beings live, and, in his own words, “Things have never been the same since.”

As a perfect and cheeky conclusion, Lex, read a delightful poem by Shel Silverstein: “The Perfect High”.

Enchanted by tales of adventure and discovery, all in attendance got up and started mingling and the afterparty began.