KLAAS’S GUIDE TO TRIPPING
PSYCHEDELICS AS INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL TOOLS
Imagine a dream where a space alien gives you a pill to eat. The pill causes you to get slightly nauseous and disoriented and then WHAM, you’re launched at the speed of light into a strange galaxy, where some of the greatest mysteries of the universe are unveiled through a telepathic connection to an ancient and wise consciousness that is both beautiful, terrifying, loving, and insane, all at the same time.
Sounds like a trip right? And that’s not even half of it. Psychedelics are fucking crazy, no doubt about it, but they are also gateways into the unexplored depths of the mind. Uncovering those depths is the wet dream of every philosopher, so if you’re looking to find out who you really are, your own truth, or even ‘the’ truth, I know of no method that can take you farther than psychedelics. Unless you’re willing to spend forty years sitting alone in a dark cave.
But you’re not here to listen to me rant. You’re here because you want to know how to use psychedelics to get that insight into yourself, to get those revelations about reality, and to be initiated into a state of consciousness that can only compare to that of a god.
This is my quick guide to tripping as an intellectual and spiritual tool.
Kinds of Trips
What kind of trip are you interested in? Why are you going to trip? What is your goal? Depending on your own intentions, as well as a number of other factors I’ll describe, there are different kinds of trips you can (try to) end up in.
(Please note that I’ll be talking mainly about psilocybin (magic) mushrooms or LSD trips, because that’s my realm of expertise.)
- The Party Trip: Having a good time at a party or concert; seeing kaleidoscopic colors.
- The Energy Trip: Exploding with physical energy.
- The Inner Trip: Eyes closed self-reflection, seeing patterns in your behavior and identity.
- The Nature Trip: Everything feels alive, part of a vast field of sentient energy.
- The Synchronistic Trip: When everything that ever happened has come together right now. It’s all happening at once, here and now. Also a telepathic trip if you’re with others.
- The Zen Trip: Feeling like all is well and as it must be; confidence and completeness.
- The Death/Rebirth Trip: Entering utter darkness and suffering, only to be released into a feeling of euphoria and oneness with the universe. Note: sometimes people get stuck in the Death trip.
- The Vision Trip: Why am I here? The answer to this question appears before your eyes.
- The God/Immortal Trip: Becoming the archetype of archetypes. The creator, the destroyer, and the trickster. Rewriting (or metaprogramming) your normal self.
Do you want to dive into the depths of your mind and reality? Do you want to investigate yourself? Or do you mostly want to commune with your friends or strangers in a spiritual way?
If you know in a general sense what you want, then there are steps you can take to facilitate your trip. It’s not an exact science, so you might not get what you hoped for, but you can try. And keep in mind that these are some of the most powerful substances known to man; please do not underestimate psychedelics, ever.
Kinds of Psychedelics: Soft Touch or Battering Ram
There are many, many kinds of psychedelics and I can’t say I’ve tried more than a few. So far, I’ve stuck to different varieties of psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, Salvia Divinorum, and ayahuasca. They were all very different.
Generally, I would classify these psychedelics into a few different groups. You’ve got your short-lasting ones and your long-lasting ones. You’ve got your deep learning ones and your sudden upheaval ones. There’s synthetic ones, organic ones, and extracts. And there’s velvety soft ones and full impact, remorseless ego killers that aren’t for the faint of heart.
Salvia Divinorum and pure DMT (dimethyltryptamine) fall into the short-lasting category. Smoke a hit, get launched into a different dimension, and return within a few minutes – hopefully with your sanity intact. I haven’t tried DMT (yet), but I’ve no interest in trying Salvia again; it was insanely powerful and unpredictable, but without imparting any wisdom or insight. After the sudden upheaval in your consciousness, it’s over too quick to really learn anything meaningful for your life. And I’ve seen people have very frightening experiences with it which seriously impacted their psychology. In other words, I don’t recommend Salvia if you’re looking for spiritual or intellectual growth.
Shrooms, LSD (lysergic acid diethalymide), and ayahuasca fall into the long-lasting category. A good trip can last anywhere between about 5 and 10 hours I’d say. These substances take you on a protracted journey with different phases, giving you time to (relative to Salvia and DMT) to process and embrace the experience. In those few hours, you can learn more than you did in a lifetime. To me, the long-lasting ones are therefore also the deep learning ones.
Many people have spoken of the soft, feminine quality of ayahuasca. How it lovingly guides you through your psyche, without forcing any difficult experiences on you. I agree. Shrooms, on the other hand, are what I would call a battering ram: a relentless and merciless onslaught on all the inner layers of bullshit that you’ve heaped up in your lifetime. I used shrooms intentionally for this purpose, to lay bare my blind spots, and they certainly obliged. For me, that makes shrooms the ultimate tool for deep learning and seeing through the illusions of my mind. While ayahuasca, perhaps wisely, is more commonly used as a healing tool for people with emotional and psychological traumas.
(Potentially) Negative Effects
I’m not an expert on the full dangers of psychedelics use. You should do some research on that elsewhere to get a better picture.
In my own experience, the dangers of psychedelics have been limited. I was relatively careful and thoughtful in my approach, making sure I wouldn’t have to be out of my comfort zone while dealing with the dissolving of my comfort zone. As in, I didn’t go to places or hang out with people I didn’t like while my mind melted.
What I did experience was this: during several of my mushroom trips, the first few hours were marked by a mix of physical unease (nausea, coldness) and mental anguish (anxiety, depression, and a feeling of losing my mind). I paid all the darkest corners of my mind a visit, and experienced great suffering while empathizing with all the pain in the world. And lastly, I felt fear before many trips: fear of losing control. This fear is kind of like stage fright, for me. Once I eat the shroom, or place the tab of LSD under my tongue, it makes way for determination, commitment, and excitement.
I’ve had a number of so-called bad trips, where my mind and my whole universe were enveloped in darkness and existential suffering. I wasn’t quite suicidal, but there were moments where I wanted the universe to be extinguished because it seemed so rotten to the core. It can happen. What I did in response was to investigate these feelings, to find out why something hurt, or why I was afraid; to search for the origins. In the end, I came out of this darkness and was transformed by it. The ‘bad trip’ phase was an integral part to the trip, because it ended up leading to the most incredible ‘good trips.’ As if the road to heaven leads straight through the depths of hell.
Finally, there’s the so-called LSD flashbacks. I’ve never experienced this myself, but there are people who say they experience sudden LSD trips, usually the visual phenomena, even though they haven’t taken anything in months or years. Obviously that can be dangerous, but it seems to be a rare occurrence.
How Much Do I Take?
How hard do you want to trip?
If it’s your first time, try a relatively small dose. For fresh mushrooms, that’s around 5-10 grams. For an intermediate trip, take 15 grams. And for a big trip, take 30 grams. If you’ve got dried mushrooms, take about 1/10th of that. With LSD, you can dose according to the amount of tabs you take, or if you’ve had the tabs tested, and know how much LSD there is in each one, you can determine how much you want based on personal experience or online dosage charts.
Once you’re more experienced, upping the dose can mean getting deeper, farther, and higher in your state of consciousness. Take into account what you want to achieve: if you want a party trip, stick to low doses. If you want a God trip, take a lot. I’m afraid there’s not much more of a science to it than that, as there are many factors which determine the potency of your experience. The strength of your substance, the time of day you take it, who you take it with, what you’ve eaten that day or the day before, when the last time was that you tripped, what your general state of mind is, etc. Take time to practice, experiment, and find out what works for you.
Who Do I Trip With?
This question, to me, is as important as how much you take of your drug of choice. The energy that results from your interaction with other people can be defining for your trip and the way it develops.
Personally, I was lucky enough to know people close to me who were somewhat experienced psychedelics users. Moreover, I trusted them fully. They accompanied me on my first trip and helped me sense the changes in perception, reminded me to close my eyes every once in a while, and warned me not to look in the mirror (I looked anyway. What a trip.). They also had food and drink and music ready so all I had to do was sit back and relax.
The second time I ate mushrooms I was alone in my apartment. Well, alone except for my computer. I felt prepared for this, having tried it once with friends, having read up on psychedelics, and generally having a strong background in philosophy and metaphysics. Being alone allowed me to dive into myself without any distractions. Once I did, and broke through the first mental barriers, the first thing I wanted to do was to contact the people I’d tripped with the first time. My main question to them was full of surprise: “Why didn’t you make me do this before!!?”
Since then, most of my trips were done either with one or two other people, no more. One time I drank ayahuasca in a group setting with about eight people and two professional guides, but that wasn’t really my thing: everyone was heavily into their own trip, looking for spiritual or psychological healing.
But tripping on mushrooms with others has turned out to be the best for me. After engaging myself in internal dialogue at breakneck speed, I could learn to understand my insights better by talking about them with others who were going through the same thing. People who knew what I was talking about.
This brings me to another important part of the trip: the aftermath. In most cases your life just picks up where you were before. But I’ve found that talking or writing about the experience is nearly as important as tripping itself. You don’t forget everything you learned during the trip, but like any memory it does fade. Talking about it makes sure that you look for the right words to describe your new vision. This way, the lessons are integrated into your daily life. Try to find people who have tripped too to talk about it, otherwise there’s no way they’ll understand you and they’re unlikely to be able to help you understand it either.
Writing down your greatest impressions is also valuable. When you read over your notes later, the memories can come right back, as can the higher perspective. And if you trip multiple times, you can read back and see what kind of development you’ve gone through.
If you’re experienced, you can also choose to be a guide or initiator for others. A tripsitter. My main advice for this would be: try not to impose your trip on others. Facilitate their experience, leave them alone unless they ask for you or need you, and take care of their basic needs.
In sum: begin by tripping with other people, preferably one or more people who are experienced and who you love and trust. Tripping with strangers can turn out nice, but might not facilitate a deep introspective search. Decide what kind of trip you want, and choose your friends, professional guides, or solitude accordingly. And remember that during your trip, different phases might get you wanting different things. Once you’re in the sweet spot, you might enjoy being with others instead of alone.
Where Do I Trip? “Set and Setting”
Choosing where to trip can also define the kind of trip you’ll have. The main factors I try to consider are these: staying inside or going outside, tripping during the day or during the night, in winter or summer, in a familiar place or in a new setting, with music or without, and with eyes closed or open.
Generally, night time, winter, and indoors tend to lead to a more introspective trip. A combination of day time, summer, and the outdoors tend to lead to Nature Trips, Energy Trips, and Zen Trips. Some of my greatest trips have been at midnight in a nature reserve near the beach, lying on my back staring up at the trees and the stars, with no other humans around for miles; and yet, tripping in a tiny computer room at home has been equally powerful.
One thing that I find very reliable to induce a deep introspective trip is to close my eyes. Psychedelics are famous for their hallucinatory effect; you see funky colors and patterns with your eyes closed, and sometimes with your eyes open too. But you can also see strange vistas; far away planets, mythical creatures, gods and goddesses, or meaningful symbols. I’ve also spent half an hour looking at a loony toons cartoon in my head, sped up by a factor of 100. It was not my most intelligent moment.
For me the core is to find what’s best for me depending on what I want. I usually stick to places that I know well, with people who I know well and love. Daily concerns like shopping, cleaning, phone calls, and so on can be very distracting and challenging, so I try to prevent dealing with them by planning ahead. But I also know that a trip can’t be predicted accurately. Sometimes I don’t want music after all, sometimes I want to be alone, or rather to go outside and see people and plants and the sun or the stars. And sometimes nothing happens at all; the psychedelic was a dud. It happens.
When you’re going tripping, whether alone or in a group, make sure there’s somebody you can call who knows that you’re tripping, as a possible source of help or comfort if needed.
How Do I Take It?
A good trip requires preparation.
Traditional use of psychedelics is usually preceded by some form of fasting. Ranging from a day to days or weeks of eating no meat, drinking no alcohol, taking no medications or other drugs (especially psychoactive ones), eating or drinking no dairy products or chocolate, eating no candy or other sources of sugar, abstaining from sex and masturbation, spending time in meditation, and so on. My own preparations are usually not quite that rigorous, but I do make sure at the very least that I don’t eat anything heavy in the hours before taking the psychedelic. Always try to have an empty stomach. And in the first hours while coming up, or while feeling the onset of nausea, I meditate with my eyes closed. It helps me to listen to my body and really go along with the transformation of my mind.
Mushrooms can be eaten several different ways. Fresh mushrooms are usually big, and they taste like fungal mud. Chomping your way through them is a great test of your will and your determination to undergo a massive mental upheaval. For an easier start, dry your mushrooms first and then eat them, either straight or by slicing them into little bits and putting them in a tea, a small bowl of soup, or on a slice of bread with some natural peanut butter (without added sugar of course, of course).
LSD is perhaps the easiest psychedelic to ingest. It’s usually soaked into paper blotters, which you then hold under your tongue for a few minutes to let the chemical seep into your bloodstream. There is no taste, no smell, nothing.
In my experience, most psychedelics lead to some level of nausea or physical discomfort in the first hour or so after ingesting them. While you’re “coming up,” the often mildly toxic chemicals are wreaking havoc on your system, so it makes sense not to feel so good at the start. For me, this physical discomfort sometimes causes mental or emotional discomfort too. I usually find a way to deal with it, either by getting up and moving to another space, or by sitting down and meditating with some breathing exercises. Eventually, the discomfort will pass. After about two hours the peak of the trip will hit. You’ll know when. If the nausea persists, or even if it doesn’t, the best way I know of dealing with it is to smoke or vaporize some cannabis. It not only mellows out the discomfort, it can also add focus to an otherwise chaotic psychedelic mind and both prolong and heighten the duration of the trip.
After a good long trip you might get hungry. My favorite is to have some fruit lying around. Most things will taste absolutely delicious, like you’ve just been rescued from starvation on a raft in the middle of the ocean, but processed foods definitely seem inferior to organic materials. Eat whatever you want. But understand that eating will bring you back down again to your normal state of mind.
If you’re not interested in a massive trip, there’s also microdosing. Taking tiny doses of psychedelics. LSD is easy to microdose; all you have to do is cut a tiny piece off a blotter. I’ve used this, for example, to slightly alter my self-perception during a normal day; or to change the way I understand group dynamics amongst people I know. Normal and familiar situations and habits can suddenly become apparent, and I learn how these patterns operate. Having gained this insight, the next step in daily life is to change the things I don’t like or to improve the ones I’d like to do otherwise.
A final suggestion I’d like to give you when taking psychedelics: please do not combine them with alcohol. I haven’t tried this myself, but the stories I’ve heard are not pleasant.
Why Do I Trip?
My main mission at the start of my psychedelic quest was this: to discover my true self. “Who am I, really?” After finding out in my first trip that I was wearing some sort of mask, and reading about things like “lifting the veil” and “seeing through the illusion,” I wanted to find out what was behind the mask. I discovered lots more masks behind the first one. Endless masks. Everything from a hundred different Klaas Pieter masks, to a cosmic mask, a satan mask, god mask, ancient prophet mask, an animal mask, and so on. I tried them all on, learned to love and accept them, and in the process I learned who I am.
That is why I trip: to learn about myself. To see myself from outside myself, like an out-of-mind experience, where there are no more secrets, mysteries, or blind spots. Just the god awful divine truth of my mind. Usually, I have a central question before each trip, something I want to explore. The question doesn’t always get answered, but I feel like my intent helps determine what kind of trip I end up in.
I’m devoted to increasing my intelligence, compassion, wisdom, and love for myself and the world. Psychedelics help me do that. They also provide me with a vision; a direction in life, so that I know what I really want and what I can do to get there. It’s as if I’m standing on a mountain, and I can scout ahead to the valley of infinite possibilities that lie ahead of me. I like having that overview, and that’s another reason I keep coming back to psychedelics every year; to climb a new mountain, to look back at the last one and to spot the next.
Let me warn you though: if you trip right, as I’ve tried to describe it here, you will change. There’s something posthuman, or transhuman that gets revealed to you, and it can easily become one of the top things you’ve experienced in your whole life. As for me, with the help of all my writings and journal entries before, during, and after my trips, I was transformed from being a generally cynical person with no hope for having a meaningful adult life, to being someone who simply loves life and existence. I’m fully devoted to it, to feeling it and experiencing it, to saving humanity and the environment, to bringing others into the same revelations that I had, to increasing the world’s intelligence and compassion, and so on. I changed.
What’s Tripping Like?
I can try to describe to you something you’ve never experienced for yourself, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ll succeed. Even for myself, knowing what I’ve gone through, my metaphors and descriptions of the trips change because none of them seem to be good enough. But let me walk you through some of the basic physiological and mental changes that can happen during a typical trip. (Note: there’s no such thing as a typical trip.)
In the first hour after eating the usually nasty tasting mushrooms, I start to feel a strange electrical buzzing sensation in my brain, and nausea in my stomach. My world sort of collapses into my body. There’s just me and this weird transformation I feel. My thoughts start to race, at breakneck speed and in all directions. I feel excitement mixed with anxiety. What’s happening to me? Why did I do this? Oh god…
As I try to relax, sitting with my eyes closed, breathing calmly, I observe the flow of toxic, powerful energy in my body and my mind. It’s out of control. Chaos.
Gradually, my body starts to feel fine, and I get used to the mental speed. I see things I didn’t see before; hear things I didn’t hear before. And I think things I didn’t realize before. Everything intensifies, and becomes magical, alive. As if I’m seeing it for the first time. I feel bonded and connected to the world; and paradoxically, I feel separate from my thoughts and beliefs. As if they’re just happening by themselves, independently, and I can observe them from a distance. I stop being just Klaas Pieter, and become something else, something more all-encompassing. I become the universe itself. I feel immense love and gratitude, and something I can only describe as ultimate wisdom. Nothing can touch me; and everything I touch, I touch deliberately with joy and compassion. I’m like a fountain of energy, a holy man walking around in a t-shirt and jeans. Eventually, this feeling wears off, either because I go to sleep, or eat a lot, or because I rejoin the concerns of daily life in the following days. But the memory remains; I know that there is such a thing as a higher state of consciousness, and that memory is enough to change the way I look at life forever.
I like to describe tripping with metaphors too. One of my early ways of describing the trip was like this, using the eye in the triangle from the US dollar bill. The pyramid represents knowledge; all the world’s philosophies, religions, sciences, and so on. You climb the pyramid, reading and researching in search of greater or higher knowledge. If you persist, you may reach the top. But the top isn’t quite the top; the world of human knowledge isn’t enough. Language isn’t enough, and nobody knows the ‘real’ truth. And so you stumble upon a magical plant at the top of the pyramid, where a little leprechaun promises you that it’ll make you fly to the mysterious eye above the pyramid. Curious, you eat it. And now you make a giant leap off the pyramid, and into the eye that floats above it. From here, you see everything; you are the all-seeing, all-knowing eye of god, beyond knowledge and beyond words. It’s enlightenment. But eventually, after a few hours, you drop back down again. You’re back on the pyramid, because for some reason you can’t stay “high” forever. But you’re changed somehow, and as you come back down the pyramid again to share your insights and experiences, you choose a new route. New words, ideas, and images to explain the world as you know it now.
That’s how I used to describe it, and I still like that metaphor. But recently I’ve come to prefer the metaphor of the ocean. Imagine the unconscious mind as one giant ocean, an ocean that goes on forever without meeting any shores. You swim at the surface, trying to breathe and not drown, while most of your body is underwater. When you trip, you dive – or are sucked in – to the deep, the unexplored, pitch dark depths of the ocean. And as you dive, your body and your mind disintegrate. Conscious and unconscious reality merge, and you become one with the ocean. It’s total bliss. Eventually, you begin to surface again, because something from your body or identity did remain. And as you surface, you see all the bits and pieces that made up your ‘self,’ your mind, and you reconstitute yourself in a slightly, or even radically different way. You leave some pieces out, put new pieces in, and change the order and placement of the parts, such that when you eventually surface, you are still you, but you’re also not. You changed, man, you changed.
How Often Do I Trip?
It’s been ten years since my first trip at the age of 21. In the beginning, I tripped two or three times in the space of six months. In the year after that, I graduated college, quit my job, and spent nearly a year tripping almost once a month in a disciplined, planned, and well-recorded manner. Since that year, I’ve tripped no more than once or twice a year, mostly to reignite the perspectives that I gained during my year of intense, monk-like spiritual tripping.
Psychedelics are a funny thing: as amazing as they are, the experience is not something you’ll want to repeat every night like you do a cigarette or a beer. Especially if you’ve had a deep experience, it’ll take time for your mind to integrate the lessons and insights. But physically too, your body builds up a tolerance or resistance to the substance, so that you can’t or can barely trip within the first days after another trip. Body says no. Both of these mechanisms, the mental and the physical, as well as the chemical (on which I’m no expert), make it impossible to become addicted to psychedelics. That’s not to say that you can never take too much of them; but that limit is something you’ll have to find for yourself, hopefully with the help and feedback of your friends and loved ones.
In summary: try not to trip more than about once a month, especially if you’re going in for mind-splitting, death-rebirth immortality trips. Not good; you’ll overload your mind, and quite possibly cause temporary or even lasting damage to your ego and mental health. Go slowly, steadily, and take time to process your trip because it’s what you do with your insights in the aftermath of a trip that determines how valuable it will be to the rest of your life.
Can I Abuse It?
There are most definitely ways to abuse psychedelics. Take too much, too often, or combine it with the wrong drugs (*cough* alcohol). Wreck your ego and then get so full of fear that you can’t reconstruct yourself, and then keep living with that fear until your ego gradually recovers… My main advice is to treat psychedelics with respect, if not reverence. These plants, fungi, and chemicals are insanely powerful tools. Treat your trip like it’s something sacred, something special, not like a bag of chips during lazy hour in front of the TV.
When I was nearing about a year of monthly trips, the 10th trip gave me a distinct feeling that I’d had enough. I listened to my intuition, and I’m glad I did.
Is Tripping Similar To Getting High?
Cannabis and psychedelics are both agents of consciousness change. They perturb your brain chemistry. But the effect of cannabis is not quite psychedelic, and not quite as powerful. If cannabis is to normal consciousness as driving a Ferrari is to walking, then psychedelics are to cannabis what a space ship is to a Ferrari.
See my Guide to Getting High for more info on cannabis. I also recommend cannabis as ‘practice’ for tripping, and to use at the right moment during a trip to enhance it.
If you want to know more about psychedelics and tripping, there’s a lot of info online at sites like Erowid.org or shroomery.org. You’re also more than welcome to ask me questions. If tripping is nothing new to you, consider getting into the philosophical and linguistic ideas of writers like Robert Anton Wilson, which are some of the closest I’ve seen to approximate and reflect the psychedelic states of consciousness. A new vision demands a new language, and I’ve done my best to provide that language in my own books as well.