The point of hallucinogenic drugs is to make you see weird stuff. Sometimes that weird stuff is good, sometimes it is the opposite of good, sometimes it is capable of irrevocably changing your perception of reality. Personally, the maddest thing I've ever seen while tripping was a load of flying pink elephants while I was under an extremely strong morphine-based general anaesthetic for a procedure which involved a camera being inserted into my butt (cliché, I know).
For others, tripping experiences have been less quaint and more Fear and Loathing. I spoke to some people about the maddest shit they've seen while under the influence.
Last Halloween, I took a little acid at around 4AM and had a beautiful morning rolling around in the sand on a picturesque beach. Nothing too intense – the acid was a little underwhelming, to be honest. As it wore off I got on with my day, lazing around, nursing a slight hangover. Around sunset, I decided to go for a stroll along the beach and saw one of the resident dogs eating something that had washed up ashore – a dead dolphin. As I stood there in my post-acid, zero-sleep fuzz, a few more local dogs arrived on the scene and started having a go on the dolphin.
Feeling a bit sick and not really able to process what I was seeing, I crawled back into my shared dorm room, where everything went fucking crazy. Out of nowhere, 16 hours after originally dropping the acid, I started tripping the most balls I've ever tripped in my fucking life. The room started melting and pulling me underground, my bed turned into a giant eyeball which I was riding through my own consciousness. I begged my husband to make it stop. I was hallucinating like crazy: I was floating in the sea… a sea made out of dogs, dogs eating dolphins, dolphins eating dogs eating dolphins eating dogs and so on. I got lost in a city of bleeding eyeballs, roaming around for what seemed like a lifetime. My husband turned into a crazy devil clown with a nose like Pinocchio as he tried to calm me down. My whole body started convulsing violently for a while before it became paralysed.
Every 15 minutes or so I came out of it and landed back in the room, where I would catch my breath and briefly hear my husband's reassuring words, only to be dragged back into what I thought would ultimately be my death. After two hours of this hell I accepted my grim fate when suddenly my thinking mind ceased its mindless chatter and was replaced with what I assumed to be my soul or some kind of twisted angel. It talked me through my crazy visions, letting me know that they all hold some kind of meaning and lesson for me. It told me secrets about my future and warned me to stop smoking weed. Finally able to move my body, the visions slowed to where I was only hallucinating with my eyes open, and I managed to fall into a strange "sleep". I woke up the next day feeling truly fucking confused and exhausted, and decided to head down to the beach to soothe my anxiety… just in time to see another dolphin washing ashore and a hungry dog eagerly awaiting his breakfast.
I was at some marsh rave in Suffolk when I was 16. I was doing a pinger, which I'd done loads before, but while we're doing them this guy puts a drop of acid on me and my friend's tongues. At first it was all calm – I was raving next to the speakers and having a good time. After a while, we sat down and started chatting and it all rushed over me at once. I remember it looking like someone had squirted obsidian ink in my eyes, and then it dribbled down, then when that washed away I was in the full-on grip of the acid. It started with me thinking that the pockets of space on the floor where grass wasn't growing were in fact dead bodies that it was imperative I stepped over, then it moved on to us getting the fear and leaving the rave to sit on the beach alone to talk and "get some space".
We just sat there and laughed at the sky for literally hours, not even at anything particular about the sky, just how it looked. At one point I looked at my mate, who had suddenly turned into Crash Bandicoot, like full on cartoon eyes and outstretched comedy marsupial tongue. We kept going and I remember looking at the grass and it had a whole layer of rainbow shimmering tripods neatly stacked on top of it, covering the whole surface. Then I looked at a bush and the leaves started slipping off into snakes, but they didn't have eyes or anything; they were just liquid deep green snakes.
In the end, I had to get a lift back from my mum, and I called my best mate from the back of the car and asked her the classic "am I going to die" question. She told me I’d be fine after I slept: I did, and woke up completely changed – I felt clean in the head. I've been caning trips ever since, really.
I once stayed up all night on 2cb, staring at my friend's cat because its paws had turned into little wheels. I was waiting for it to move so I could see the wheels in action, but it just stood there on its wheels for what seemed like hours. In hindsight, it was probably actually just a few minutes – I can’t imagine a cat would stay still for six hours, but it felt like forever.
I snorted half a gram of ketamine in one line while I was waiting for my friend who had gone to pick up my boyfriend from the station. Disclaimer: this was during the east London K epidemic of 2008, when this monstrous behaviour was completely acceptable. While she was gone I slumped in a chair in her room, staring at the row of bags under her desk, which had all developed faces and were talking to me about their experiences of life as a bag. They all had different personalities and I was having a full-on chat with them in my head. By the time my friend came back with my boyfriend I was in a medium-level K-hole, muttering something about how she needs to be nicer to her red bag.
The first – and only – time I took mushrooms was in Amsterdam when I was 18. Being young and dumb, I decided to eat a whole box of them, and everything swiftly went downhill from there. I started hallucinating the most horrific shit: a poster advertising a Renaissance exhibition turned into an image of hundreds of demon soldiers from hell with pitchforks who were coming to kill me; a man in a bar who was trying to talk to me morphed into a pig with horns; I was 100 percent certain I was losing my mind. My friend had to hold my hand through the entire trip: every time she let go I would start screaming uncontrollably. The whole thing lasted about six hours, despite my efforts to make it stop by drinking like a gallon of orange juice. I still haven't worked up the courage to try shrooms again.