How Popular Are Psychedelics In America? Survey Says ~30% Have Tried

The psychedelics industry is gearing up for a massive debut, and opinions on the compounds are changing for the better. How popular are psychedelics in America right now? New survey results show that these compounds are not unknown to the American public, and that close to 30% of respondents, have already tried them.

With the psychedelics boom underway, we now ask the question, just how popular are psychedelics in America? A recent survey has some interesting results on this matter. Welcome to out completely independent news publication focusing on cannabis and psychedelics reporting. We offer the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to provide regular updates for readers, along with some top notch deals on all kinds of products including smoking paraphernalia, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds like the uber popular Delta 8 THC, and HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists to check out offers, and make sure to only purchase the products you are fully comfortable using.

The psychedelics revolution

100 years ago psychedelics weren’t a thing yet, at least not in Western medicine. Though they’ve enjoyed a wide and long-ranging tenure in different cultural traditions, their use as a recreational or medicinal drug in today’s modern, Westernized world, was still far off 100 years ago. 50 Years ago, legislation to get rid of psychedelics from society in general, already went through. Yup, in just a 50 years period, drugs like LSD were discovered, found to have great therapeutic properties, and then were promptly illegalized, both by the US government, and the UN.

What started blossoming out as a beautiful answer to issues of mental health and addiction, was snuffed out in favor of the pharmaceutical antidepressant market, which was never effective, so long as you never listened to pharmaceutical reps, or paid-for research, which is a significantly bigger issue than most people realize. And it happened so fast, that most people never gained awareness of the benefits these compounds provide. In fact, psychedelics existed mainly as a black market for recreational purposes, and were roundly associated with hippies and the anti-war movement of the 1960’s.

So, it’s a major change in climate to go from scare-tactic videos showing people jumping out of windows (part of my DARE program in high school), to news articles blaring about how quickly drugs like magic mushrooms and ketamine help with treatment resistant depression. It’s even more eye-opening that Oregon passed legislation to legalize psilocybin mushrooms, and that Washington, California, Michigan, and Colorado are working toward legalizations as well. And lets certainly not forget that the US government actually did legalize a form of ketamine in 2019 (esketamine) for depression, though in a very quiet manner.

Beyond treatment resistant depression, psychedelics are being studied in earnest for their ability to help with addiction issues, pain management (particularly ketamine), obsessive-compulsive issues, and post-partum depression. In fact, ketamine is already being openly used for all of the above in a clinic system that allows its prescription, because of its place as an approved anesthetic.

With the line changing from ‘psychedelics are dangerous’ to ‘psychedelics are good for you’, it’s not that surprising that such compounds already have a relatively high use rate in a place like America. How high? Different surveys give different estimates, but one says that psychedelics are already so popular in America, that about 30% of the population has already tried them.

How popular are psychedelics in America Latest survey

How popular are psychedelics in America right now? It’s hard to get concrete answers to questions like this because its hard to survey the entire country. Surveys take representative measurements – where a small portion of the population is questioned to represent a greater population, and they come with a lot of issues, particularly when samples are small, or not collected to reflect a greater population. Having said that, since polling every individual for opinion is not possible in a country the size of the US, surveys are about the best we have to go on.

A recent survey conducted by YouGov, a British internet-based data analytics and market research company, found that almost 30% of Americans already tried psychedelics at least once. Now, this survey has massive limitations. For one, only 1000 people were questioned, and though they were picked to represent the US, they unlikely did in a comprehensive way. It should be expected that this particular group is not representative of the US at large. Even so, when it comes to this topic, there’s not much to go on, so this is what we’ve got.

According to the report, the sample was weighted “According to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as news interest and 2020 Presidential vote (or non-vote).”

The survey, conducted between July 22-25 of this year, showed that of the seven psychedelics asked about (LSD, magic mushrooms/psilocybin, MDMA/ecstasy, DMT, mescaline/peyote, ketamine, and salvia), 28% of respondents had already tried at least one. Of those drugs, LSD was the most popular psychedelic in America according to this sample, with 14% of respondents having tried it. Second was psilocybin, which 13% had tried. MDMA was third with 9%, ketamine was done by 6%, DMT also by 6%, and salvia by 5%.

Psychedelic mushrooms
Psychedelic mushrooms

Though the survey has plenty of holes, it does show something for sure; that psychedelics are accepted and popular enough for a good chunk of this sample to already be familiar with them. Psychedelics are Schedule I controlled substances, with the exception of ketamine which has Schedule III approval as an anesthetic, and its half-brother esketamine which is also Schedule III for depression. It says a lot about how people see them, and the lessening fear associated with them, that so many in the survey had already done them.

What does other research say?

Obviously, its cool to see the results of the survey mentioned above, because it shows how popular psychedelics are in America, despite years of smear campaigns against them. But, how much can these results be generalized to all of America? Let’s take a look at other research done in the last decade on psychedelic use in the US.

One interesting study, which came out in 2013, called Over 30 million psychedelic users in the United States, looked to establish an “estimated lifetime prevalence of psychedelic use” by using data from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which sampled 57,873, 12 years and older. The study specifically looked at LSD, magic mushrooms, and mescaline, and found that as of 2010, there were over 30 million people who had used psychedelics in their lives. The greatest use category was for 30–34-year-olds.

In a study like this, whether results are liked or not, it should be remembered that all data is taken from other data sets which were not collected for the specific purposes of this study, and that study investigators had no way to control for confounding factors (a confounding factor is anything that can influence the outcome outside of what is being investigated). In the study, the authors state, “This study was exempt from review by our Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics because all data are available in the public domain without any identification of personal information.”

Researchers were also specifically estimating, meaning they weren’t taking direct outcome numbers, but using direct outcome numbers to form estimate numbers via the online Survey Documentation Analysis, which comes from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Even with these limitations, being able to estimate that nearly 1/3 of Americans have tried psychedelics, certainly says a lot for their general prevalence.

Let’s look at just LSD now. According to a DrugPolicy report from 2017 using already collected 2014 survey data, in the age group of 12-17 year-olds, .3% of the collected 16,875 respondents were current LSD users. That percentage was also relevant to the group of 18-25 year-olds, for which there were 11,643 data points. In terms of actively using adults aged 26 and above, .1% of the total 33,750 sampled, were active users. Active use in this case means used within the last month. This is different from looking at surveys that establish whether someone has ever done a drug in their lifetime, which helps explain the lower numbers.

Psychedelics acid

Another study also looked at just LSD. This study from ScienceDirect, entitled Trends in LSD use among US adults: 2015–2018, used a secondary analysis of National Survey on Drug Use and Health data from 2015–2018. This involved the use of data from 168,562 adults ages 18 and up, which means this study also only took from previous data compiled for different research projects, in which the investigators could not control for anything.

According to results, use of LSD rose 56.4% between the years of 2015 and 2018. It showed that usage for the age group 26-34years of age increased to 31.1% from 19.6%, and that for the age group 35-49, there was an increase to 8.82% from 2.73%. The oldest age group of 50 years and up also saw an increase in use to 2.66% from 1.83%.


How popular are psychedelics in the US? Popular enough that nearly 30% of a US sample have already tried them. Popular enough for their use to come full circle from their initial rise to popularity in the 60’s and 70’s, and popular enough for individual states to begin to legalize them. With legalizations in place, or on the way, it should be expected that these numbers will only rise in the future.

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10 Steps to Becoming the Perfect Trip Sitter

Every hero has their sidekick. Every protagonist needs an assistant. Every train needs a driver. Just like Frodo had his Sam, Harry had his Ron, and Luke had his R2D2… a tripper needs a sitter. A psychedelic trip can be the most amazing experience of someone’s life, full of beautiful hallucinations and euphoric feeling.

However, it can also be horrifically awful, riddled with unwanted thoughts and scary sprites. A trip is always in the balance and could always go either way, and that’s where a trip sitter comes in. Being the perfect trip sitter is challenging, important and it takes time. That’s why we’re going to go through a few integral steps that should be taken when becoming a trip sitter, to ensure the safety and well-being of the person you’re watching over.

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What is a Trip?

For hundreds of years our species have used psychedelic drugs as a way to enter into alternative realities. Ayahuasca is used by indigenous people in South America, LSD was used by the Beatles to inspire their music, and Ratafarians commonly use cannabis in their religious ceremonies. But why do people do it? Well, to understand why people trip, we first need to understand one crucial part of humanity: humans have always searched for more. It’s part of our DNA. When the first tribal communities spread themselves across more land and across vast oceans, they were searching for more. When man first landed on the moon in 1966, they were searching for more. When people turned to psychedelic drugs for an alternative way of looking at the world, they were also searching for more. Not only that, but a trip can allow a person to delve deep into their subconscious and deal with someone they’ve unlocked in their mind. In fact, hallucinogens are becoming more popualrly used in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Many report feelings of clarity and contentment after experiencing a trip. That’s not to say that trips are always good things. Nonetheless, a trip is an experiential journey. Here To Help writes:

“When a person says they are “tripping,” it means they are experiencing the effects of hallucinogens. Hallucinogens are psychoactive (mind-altering) drugs that significantly alter our senses and perceptions. Some common ones are magic mushrooms, LSD and ecstasy. Cannabis can also cause hallucinogenic effects at high doses.”

But the question is: what does a trip feel like? Trips can vary depending on which drug you take, but almost always there are certain similarities between trips. When someone is experiencing a trip, it’s almost always due to them taking a hallucinogenic drug. More euphoric drugs like heroin and ecstasy, are not usually considered to cause trips. It is a very specific experience; here are some of the common feelings: 

Positive Feelings

  • Euphoria
  • Beautiful hallucinations 
  • Sensory enhancement 
  • A sense of love towards your surroundings 
  • Giggliness 
  • Sounds and smells become better
  • Mental clarity

Negative Feelings 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Scary or sad hallucinations 
  • Dissociation 
  • The world can seem cruel 
  • Existential dread

A psychedelic trip does not need to be a negative experience, but it can be. Like with anything, there are certain preparations that should be put in place before you decide to go on a psychedelic journey. One of these preparations is ensuring you have a perfect trip sitter. 

What is a Trip Sitter?

A trip sitter is an important part of the psychedelic experience. Although many people go on a trip without assistance, if it’s your first time then it might be worth getting one. Double Blind Mag writes:

“A trip sitter is a sober person you trust to keep you safe while you’re under the influence of a psychedelic, and having one along for the journey can make the difference between a meaningful and challenging trip. With a supportive presence, you’re much more likely to release your control…and have an insightful, perhaps even transformational experience.“

With a trip sitter you can feel more comfortable and safe letting yourself go and giving into the full potential of the psychedelic experience. In other words, you won’t need to keep one eye on your well-being and the other eye on having a good time. The trip sitter can look after you. That’s why it’s obviously very important to choose someone you trust and someone you know has your best interests at heart. 

So, assuming you’ve chosen that special someone or perhaps you yourself are about to be a trip sitter, let’s delve into how to be the perfect one. 

The Perfect Trip Sitter

Here are the crucial steps to consider in order to become the perfect trip sitter. Remember what Sam said to Frodo: “I can carry you”.

Step 1 – Research The Substance

The first step is to research the substance that your partner on this voyage will be taking. Is it LSD? Is it acid? Is it magic mushrooms? Although many trips are similar, it’s important to understand that all drugs are different and have various effects. If you haven’t taken the drug yourself, then research online the common positive and negative experiences of the selected substance. This will help you understand fully what your tripper is going through. 

Step 2 – The Psychedelic Experience by Tom Leary

The Psychedelic Experience is a popular book by Tom Leary and it’s, sort of, like a trip bible. Becoming aware of its contents could be useful to you when being a trip sitter. Leary splits trips into 5 categories, highlighting the various extremities of psychedelic experiences. Level 1 might include slight sensory enhancement, whilst level 5 will consist of complete dissociation from reality. This book can be used as a dialogue between you and your tripper. It will help you understand.  

Step 3 – Free As A Bird

Step 3 is ensuring everyone has the space and time to complete the trip. You can’t leave and go to work halfway through, and neither can your tripper. Most trips can take up to 6-10 hours so make sure the day is free and time is not at the essence. 

Step 4 – The Perfect Place

Next thing to consider is where this trip will take place. Not only must you ensure it’s safety, but also the correct atmosphere. You don’t want the location to trigger a bad trip. Nature is always a safe bet, although you cannot always trust the weather. Alternatively, indoors with soft surfaces, nice colours, warmth and comfortable blankets is also a good option. Speak with your tripper and decide on the ideal location beforehand. 

Step 5 – Essentials 

Experience a trip can make you hungry and thirsty. But it also can make you forget about drinking and eating all together. That’s where you come in. Ensure that there’s plenty of liquids and tasty food around, so that your tripper does not get too hungry or dehydrated. 

Step 6 – No Judgement or Questions

It’s important to ensure the surroundings are perfect for the trip, but it’s also important to remember how to speak to someone who’s tripping. Avoid judgemental comments and avoid asking too many questions. ‘How are you feeling?’, ‘why are you doing that?’ or ‘you’re acting weird’, these are definitely not good things to say. Instead, be open and allow the tripper to lead the conversation. Be calming and do not encourage fear or too in-depth conversation (unless they need to delve into this). 

Step 7 – Guide Don’t Dictate

A trip sitter is not a trip dictator. Don’t lead the experience, simply guide it. If you feel that the trip is becoming sour or dangerous, lightly try and change the atmosphere and mood of the trip. Encourage playing some games, or looking at some fun lights. Maybe even try giving them some sugar as that can slightly ease the intensity of the experience. 

Step 8 – If A Bad Trip Begins

What if a trip becomes really bad? Sometimes trips can take a dark turn and encouraging games or showing the tripper some cool lights isn’t necessarily enough. In this case, remind the tripper that they’ve taken hallucinogenic drugs and that this won’t last forever. If they keep trying to delve into bad thought patterns, speak to them on their level and help them through their negative thoughts. If the trip is out of your control and you fear the tripper could be in real danger, then don’t be afraid to call someone professional. 

Step 9 – Be Empathetic 

A crucial tip to remember when being a trip sitter is to be empathetic and loving. This trip isn’t about you. It might get boring and it might be longer than expected, but don’t let this turn you into a sour trip sitter. It’s integral that you personify a loving entity for your tripper. This will help them through the experience. If they feel you’re lacking in patience or that you’re getting agitated, this will manifest itself into their trip. Be kind and loving. 

Step 10 – The Aftermath

As the trip comes to a close it’s important not to ease off on your perfect trip sitting abilities. When the drugs wear off, your sitter may start to feel down or introspective. Ensure you’re still being empathetic and non-judgemental. Also, take some time to speak to your tripper about their experience if that’s what they want. It might be the first time they’re able to properly discuss it from an outside point of view. The aftermath is just as important as during when it comes to creating the perfect trip.


A psychedelic trip can be a beautiful experience and one that human being’s have been enjoying for centuries. However, it doesn’t always go to plan. The trip sitter can be the difference between a positive and a negative trip, and that’s why being the perfect one is so important. Hopefully these 10 steps will help you be just that.

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post 10 Steps to Becoming the Perfect Trip Sitter appeared first on CBD Testers.

The Beatles and Hallucinogens: The Band that Searched for Something More

“LSD was the self-knowledge which pointed the way” – John Lennon.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star all made up the 1960s band: The Beatles. Described as the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful pop music band in history, these four guys from Liverpool changed the music scene forever. They released 21 studio albums, 63 singles and won four major awards. However, what started off as 4 talented and well-mannered boys from the UK, soon became something else as they began experimenting with the world of psychedelics. The Beatles became disillusioned by fame and were a band that searched for more, with hallucinogens. But how did this affect their music, image and future? 

Artists, celebrities, and eclectic types have been using psychedelics to enhance their art forms for decades. The counterculture of the 1960s was especially known for this type of progressiveness. For more articles like this one, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter. We’ve got great deals for delta-8 THC along with delta-9 THCTHCVTHCPdelta 10HHC & THC-O, so go ahead, and check out our always-updated selections.

The Beatles

The Beatles started out as 4, average, boys from Liverpool. The name of the band came from the teenagers combining the words ‘beetles’ and ‘beat’, which may have sounded ridiculous at the time but now can be looked back on as pure genius. The one thing that was never in doubt about these boys was their talent. A recent documentary, ‘Get Back’, made by Peter Jackson, shows the band rehearsing a gig in 1970. The sheer musical talent and improvisation abilities is spellbinding. Anyway, after doing the rounds of smaller gigs in the 50s, the band made a name for themselves through doing shows in Hamburg. It was then in 1962 that they signed their first musical contract with Brian Epstein’s outfit and the rest is beautiful history. It’s important to note that the Beatles adapted their sound in each of their albums, and yet consistently kept their same innate charm. Their music will be played and covered for generations to come. 

What are Hallucinogens?

It was in 1965 that the Beatles first came into contact with LSD, but first it’s perhaps important to understand what psychedelics are. Drugs are commonly split into four categories. 

  • Depressants – including alcohol and GHB.
  • Stimulants – including cocaine and meth.
  • Opioids – including heroin and oxycontin.
  • Hallucinogens – including LSD, PCP and DMT.

There are overlaps with these drugs, and some would argue that cannabis – for example – fits into all 4. However, when it comes to hallucinogens, there’s something rather particular about them. To put it simply:

Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings as well as their own thoughts and feelings.”

Hallucinogens, like LSD, are known for their world altering effects and hallucinations. It’s a hard experience to describe unless you’ve tried it yourself. Words on a page don’t come close to capturing the true nature of a hallucinogenic drug, or any drug for that matter. All that can be said is that LSD can open up your mind, and show you your subconscious. Show you a different reality to the one you know. 


An LSD trip can last anywhere from 6-12 hours. You can see images, colours and even people that aren’t really there. It can trigger feelings of euphoria, deep thought and sometimes depression if you’re already in a bad mental state. The way that LSD reacts on the brain and causes trips are still, to an extent, unknown. Nonetheless, the effects of LSD have been utilised by people in the arts for generations and will be used for generations to come. 

The Beatles & LSD

Any famous musician, especially to the standard of the Beatles, has to be referred to as a genius. In other words, the extraordinary nature and talent of the Beatles leads us to believe that their minds worked differently to the average person. Michael Jackon, the Beatles, Elvis, Dylan – all of these incredible artists are rare and, as such, were most likely wired differently in one way or another. In a sense, it’s no surprise that the Beatles turned to LSD. They’d already imagined a world for themselves so unimaginable when they were young aspiring musicians, that an LSD trip was probably nothing out of the ordinary for them. Plus, with the search to constantly evolve as a band and think of new, fresh and innovative sounds, LSD was a chance for them to write revolutionary music. It’s without a doubt that some of the Beatles music was definitely inspired by their experiences with hallucinogens. John Lennon said:

“I was suddenly struck by great visions when I first took acid. But you’ve got to be looking for it before you can possibly find it. Perhaps I was looking without realising it. Perhaps I would have found it anyway. It would have just taken longer”

This is a great example of the beautiful unity of talent and acid. It shows here that Lennon was searching for something and found acid to be an assistance. However, that’s not to say that acid creates talent, it simply helps people to see in a different way. 

But when did it all start for the Beatles and acid?

The Dental Experience of 1965

In 1965, the Beatles were a well-acclaimed band and had a thriving career. However, something was about to happen that would change their music forever. It began, oddly, in their dentist’s house. Riley (the dentist) invited John Lennon and George McCartney to his house for a small gathering, which then became their first acid experience.

“On the mantelpiece six sugar cubes had been carefully lined up. The cubes, each of which contained a dose of LSD, were slipped into the guests’ coffees.”

After that experience, George and John spoke about feeling closer than they ever had. It’s thought to have brought them together; like brothers. George and John’s relationship is what made the Beatles what they were. Perhaps some of that is to do with the closeness they felt after intimate drug experiences. George Harrison wrote this about the trip:

 “It was something like a very concentrated version of the best feeling I’d ever had in my whole life.”

After this, the Beatles opened up their minds to the world of hallucinogens and started letting it inspire and affect their music – including the albums Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. 

The Beatles Changed Their Image

The Beatles were turning from British respectable lads, to drug experimentalists. They were changing their world-wide image

“​​The frequent trips gave the Fab Four a new sense of mindfulness and freedom, one that not only poured itself into their music but also made them more honest with the press in the process”

When asked if he felt he had a responsibility to be anti-drugs due to his power and fame, John Lennon famously said to Hunter Davies in 1967: 

“I never felt any responsibility, being a so-called idol… It’s wrong of people to expect it. What they are doing is putting their responsibilities on us… If they were worried about him being responsible, they should have been responsible enough and not printed it, if they were genuinely worried about people copying”

Interviews were only the peak of the iceberg, the real evidence of the Beatles love for acid was coming through their music. Throughout the whole of the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper albums are countless references to acid and psychedelia. In fact, in the song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, the lyrics written include quotes from Richard Alpert’s cult-favourite book The Psychedelic Experience.

Their Trip to India of 1968

In 1967, the Beatles ended their consistent relationship with LSD. Instead, they decided to spend time finding an alternative high or trip. However, this one they found from natural causes. This all came with their trip to India and new-found love for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s system of Transcendental Meditation. Whilst out there they experienced new, natural trips all triggered by deep breathing and meditation. In fact, this trip potentially had the same or even more effect on their music than acid had done. During their 2-3 month stay they wrote 48 songs and the majority of the White Album

John said: “I was in a room for five days meditating…I wrote hundreds of songs. I couldn’t sleep and I was hallucinating like crazy, having dreams where you could smell. I’d do a few hours and they you’d trip off, three- or four-hour stretches. It was just a way of getting there, and you could go on amazing trips.” 

George said: “The meditation buzz is incredible… I get higher than I ever did with drugs. It’s simple … and it’s my way of connecting with God.”

It’s as if LSD had worn off the Beatles and they were now searching for something more, something natural, something real. Even LSD wasn’t enough for the Beatles, who were constantly searching for more, and searching for a new way to experience the world. 


The Beatles were one of the best bands to ever live and their music was both revolutionary and beautifully simple at the same time. They weren’t afraid to evolve and adapt, letting the world affect their sound. It was this that let hallucinogens into their lives, and that could be responsible for some of their best ever music. However, as Harrison himself said, acid does not create talent, it simply helps you find the way.

Hello and welcome! Thanks for stopping by, your #1 web source for cannabis and psychedelics-related news, offering the most interesting stories of today. Join us frequently to stay on-top of the quickly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and remember to check out The THC Weekly Newsletterto ensure you’re never late on getting a story.

Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post The Beatles and Hallucinogens: The Band that Searched for Something More appeared first on CBD Testers.

Meet the Mushrooms – Health Benefits of Various Fungi  

Mushrooms are widely regarded as a superfood because they taste great, add richness and can elevate most meals, and are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that translate to incredible health benefits for consumers. If you’re looking for one type of food to add to your diet that could really make a difference in your overall health, fungus is truly where you get the most bang for your buck.  

From common grocery store types like creminis, to incredibly rare psychedelic varieties, all edible mushrooms are extremely beneficial. Remember that some are poisonous, so don’t go running around the woods eating unidentified fungi. But do try to incorporate more healthy mushrooms into your diet. Whether you’re adding shitakes to dinner once a week or microdosing with liberty caps, you’re sure to experience some positive changes. Remember to subscribe to The Psychedelic Weekly Newsletter to learn more about mushrooms and the psychedelic industry as a whole.  

Why mushrooms are amazing  

In addition to being considered a gourmet food, mushrooms are one of the most nutritious foods on earth. They’re a low-calorie source of fiber, protein, potassium, and antioxidants, known to have the ability to mitigate (or completely heal in some instances) many serious health conditions. The list of ailments that can benefit from mushroom consumption is vast but includes: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, cancer, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure.  

Not only can fungi help treat existing conditions, but they can make you healthier overall. The anti-inflammatory effect of fungi is proven to greatly improve immune function and efficiency. The anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system. Numerous studies have found that mushrooms help stimulate macrophages in the immune system, amplifying its ability to fight disease.  

In that same vein of general wellness, research indicates that mushrooms, when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices like regular exercise, are key to weight loss and maintenance. Mushrooms have low calories, no cholesterol, and no fat, so they’re a great way to get the recommended amount of dietary protein for building muscle, without all the unnecessary compounds that can make you gain fat.  

Another interesting feature of mushrooms, one that was only recently discovered, and by accident, is that they can produce antibiotic compounds for a huge range of bacteria. If exposed to certain bacterium, mushrooms will create metabolites to kill that pathogen. This discovery could be pivotal in changing the way we treat antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.  

Fungus as a healing superfood is a somewhat new concept in the western world, but they’ve been utilized in eastern medicine and nutrition for centuries. The oldest official record of medicinal compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating from the 29th century BC, lists several mushroom species. In recent years, they’ve become a popular meat substitute as we’ve seen a steady rise in vegetarianism and veganism across the globe. They’re also being discussed with increased frequency in the realm of mental health, especially psilocybin mushrooms.  

Lion’s Mane  

Hericium erinaceus is an edible mushroom hailing from the tooth fungus group. It’s native to three different continents, North America, Europe, and Asia, and they resemble of clump of long spines growing on various hardwood trees. They can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, or steeped in soup and tea. They have a strong seafood/shellfish flavor, like crab or lobster. Lion’s mane extracts are commonly found in health supplements, and Asian countries like China, India, Japan, and Korea have been using these mushrooms medicinally for ages.  

Research has found that lion’s mane mushrooms contain high levels of two compounds that can aid in brain cell regeneration: hericenones and erinacines. These compounds can also prevent neural damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which are abnormal clusters of protein fragments built up between nerve cells; commonly found in the brains of people with Alzeihmer’s.  

Lion’s Mane mushrooms are also known to be extremely effective in fighting cancer. This theory has been tested and proven numerous times over with several different types of human cancer cells in test tubes. Liver, colon, stomach, and blood cancer cells have been studied and Lion’s Mane was successful in destroying them all.  


Cordyceps are not quite mushrooms, but rather a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on insect larvae. The fungi attacks the host and replaces its body tissues with stems that grow on the outside of the larva’s body. Over 600 species of cordyceps have been discovered all over the world, although most are concentrated in Asia and medical literature has focused heavily on two types: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris 

The remnants of these infected insects have been harvested, dried, and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations to treat inflammation, fatigue, low sex drive, kidney disease, and many other illnesses. Formal research on this fungus is limited, but anecdotal evidence is abundant.  

Additionally, cordyceps are believed to increase the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), source of cellular energy for muscle contractions, nerve impulse propagation, and other physiological functions. In Eastern cultures, cordyceps are often used by the elderly for the anti-aging properties – attributable to their high levels of antioxidants – as well as to battle weakness and fatigue and improve their sex lives.  


Ganoderma lucidum, also known as Lingzhi or Reishi, is a reddish-brown colored, polypore fungus with a banded cap and peripheral stem. Fresh reishi look soft and flat, and they grow at the base of deciduous trees, particularly maples. They can be eaten fresh, dried, in tinctures or extracts, or in powdered form that can be added to smoothies or drinks. 

Reishi mushrooms contain a bunch of different compounds that are beneficial to human health, such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides and peptidoglycans. Although many mushrooms lack the scientific literature to back up their benefits, that is not the case with reishi. As a matter of fact, over 3,300 research papers published on these mushrooms in the US National Library of Medicine alone.  

Although all mushrooms are believed to have positive effects on immunity, reishi mushrooms are especially known for this. Studies have found that reishi mushrooms can affect the genetic makeup of white blood cells, making them more effective immune system agents.  


Morchella, or true morels, are a genus of edible sac fungi that can be found in temperate regions around the world including North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan. They are a prized ingredient in many types of cuisine, especially French. Cultivation of these mushrooms can be tricky, so harvesting wild morels has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. 

It’s important not to confuse true morels with false morels, a term loosely applied to describe Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa bohemica, and other species morel lookalikes. Although some false morels can be eaten safely, the ones in my area and many others are extremely poisonous. So toxic in fact that even fumes from cooking the mushrooms can cause dizziness and nausea. When cut down the middle, true morels have a hollow cap and a stem that connects at the bottom of the cap, whereas false morels have a thick fibrous stem that runs through the entire cap and connects at the top. Check the photos on this page to learn more.  

That said, I personally love morels. You can’t really find any in grocery stores but I’m blessed to have them growing in abundance in my yard in Indiana. I live in the woods near some small creeks and a large lake and find them frequently in open fields along the forest edge, near oak, elm, ash, and aspen trees. 

Like all mushrooms, morels have many benefits but one thing that makes them unique is that they have one of the highest amounts of vitamin D out of any edible mushroom species. Only 100 grams of morels (less than 1 cup) will provide you 34% of the daily required levels of vitamin D. They’re also loaded with potassium, vitamins, copper, and antioxidants.  

Turkey tails  

Turkey tails, also known as Coriolus versicolor, Polyporus versicolor, or Trametes versicolor (meaning ‘of several colors’) is a common polypore mushroom that grows in humid areas all over the world. They are technically considered to be inedible, only because they harden when cooked and don’t taste good, but they can be turned into powders, tinctures, and extracts for use in various products.  

Like reishi mushrooms, Turkey tails are also revered for their immune-boosting abilities. Turkey tails contain Polysaccharopeptides, which are protein-bound carbohydrates that block inflammation and activate beneficial immune cells. Because of this, Turkey tail mushrooms are used in combination with pharmaceutical treatments to enhance their efficiency. For example, a review of 13 studies found that chemotherapy patients who were consuming 1-4 grams of Coriolus versicolor had a greater chance of survival than those who did standard treatments alone. Overall, Turkey tails contributed to a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality.  

Another unique benefit of Turkey tails is that they can help regulate your gut bacteria, which plays a pivotal role in overall health. Many health conditions stem from an imbalanced gut microbiome. A study of 24 healthy volunteers found that this strain of mushroom contains prebiotics that suppressed the growth of harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. Outside the digestive system, Turkey tails can prevent the growth and spread of Staphylococcus aureus.  


Chaga, formally known as Inonotus obiquus, is a parasitic fungus from the Hymenochaetaceae family. They grow on a lot of different trees but have an affinity for birch. Chaga mushrooms have been used medicinally for hundreds of years in Siberia and other parts of Asia. They’re not pretty compared to other mushrooms and resemble an irregularly-shaped clump of burnt charcoal, but they’re one of the more popular species on this list and are becoming better-known in the Western world as well.  

Chaga mushrooms contain a wide variety of different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as B-complex vitamins vitamin D potassium rubidium cesium amino acids fiber copper selenium zinc iron manganese magnesium calcium. The extract from this fungus is commonly used to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.  

During a 2-month study of lab rats on chaga, the extract was found to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Experts believe the high antioxidant content in chagas are responsible for this. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that eating chaga mushrooms regularly can reduce oxidative stress and lower blood pressure and greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.   


Grifola frondosa, also known as Hen-of-the-woods or Maitake (not to be confused with shiitake) is a polypore mushroom found in Japan, China, Europe, and North America. It grows at the base of trees, mainly oaks, and can be found in late summer to early fall. The word “maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. As the story goes, people were so elated when they found this mushroom in the wild that they ‘danced for joy’… and no, it’s not psychedelic.  

Although Maitakes are sometimes used in recipes, they are considered a medicinal mushroom and more often utilized in therapeutic settings. Maitake mushrooms are what’s known as adaptogens, or non-toxic plants that can be used to regulate body systems, both physical and mental. They’re one of the best mushrooms to use for ‘resetting’ the body and creating homeostasis. Maitakes have shown more promising results in treating and preventing various health conditions than other mushrooms.  

A 2015 study also discovered that maitake mushrooms can be effective in treating type 2 diabetes, which is on the rise. Statistics show that lifestyle choices (like diet, lack of exercise, and obesity) are responsible for up to 85% of new type 2 diabetes cases. In the study, maitake mushrooms had a positive impact on rats with this disease.  


Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, mushrooms or shrooms, are a polyphyletic, informal group of fungi that includes Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe. Psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound in these mushrooms, is actually found in over 100 species around the world.  

Psilocybin is a classic hallucinogenic compound produced by over 100 species of mushrooms across the world. It has a strong effect on serotonin receptors in the brain, including some in the cerebral cortex and thalamus regions. Although mushroom use – casually referred to as “shrooming” – is commonly associated with hippies, artists and others that tend to live a more alternative lifestyle, their consumption actually dates back thousands of years. Historically, they’ve been used to aid in religious ceremonies and are still considered a gateway to some very profound spiritual experiences.  

Psilocybin mushrooms also have some powerful therapeutic benefits, and have already been decriminalized in a few locations around the world as researchers dive into their potential to treat numerous disorders. Areas of interest include conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and substance addiction. 

Unlike other mushrooms on this list, there is an issue of legality with psilocybin mushrooms, meaning that they are still illegal in most countries. In the United States, their active ingredient is listed as a schedule 1 narcotic, and so they are illegal. A few pockets of the world are changing these laws though, as the public becomes increasingly aware of their health benefits.  

Final thoughts 

The mushrooms listed above are just some of my personal favorites, but you can benefit from even the most common species out there. Adding some baby bellas or white buttons to your meal plan a couple times a week can have amazing wellness benefits, while microdosing with magic mushrooms on a regular basis could be a game changer for your mental health. As long as what you’re eating isn’t poisonous, you really can’t go wrong with any type of mushroom, they’re all incredible!   

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Good Trip Guaranteed: Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using Psychedelics

Psychedelics can be mind-opening, life-changing portals that propel you into another reality of introspective thought, deep connections, and beautiful discoveries… but if used incorrectly, they can be scary and borderline traumatizing. That said, they don’t need to be avoided or prohibited, as entheogens have been a part of human culture for millennia. Responsible and informed use of these compounds is crucial – just be sure that when prepping for your psychonaut adventure, you respect their psychedelic plant power and avoid some common mistakes that can make or break your trip.

Psychedelics are fun, but if you make any of the following mistakes before or during your trip, things can get too crazy, really fast. Make sure to follow our guide to ensure a positive trip, and to learn more about rapidly-growing psychedelic industry, subscribe to The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter.

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelic drugs, also referred to entheogens, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter perception. The term entheogens come from Greek and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The high produced by these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include various types of visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip can vary dramatically based on the specific compound and dose consumed. Sometimes, a user will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spirituality, and euphoria.  

If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means they had some type of negative side effects or maybe even scary hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to: irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Dosing and setting, among other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure an uplifting and beneficial high.

Are They Safe?

Psychedelics are generally regarded as safe. According to the results of a Global Drug Survey that polled 120,000 regular drug users, magic mushrooms were the safest recreational drug, along with cannabis. Their method at determining user safety was by comparing the drug used to the amount of required emergency room visits. Only 0.2% of the nearly 10,000 mushroom users surveyed had ever required emergency care, compared to the 1.0% of those using harder drugs like ecstasy or cocaine.

Furthermore, new research suggests that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and numerous other mental health disorders. “The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” says Michael Pollan, author of the new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”

Good Trip Guaranteed: Common Mistakes to Avoid on Psychedelics

Again, just because psychedelic drugs are typically safe that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a perfect experience with them. When partaking, it’s very important to set the mood beforehand to make sure everything goes smoothly and reduce your likelihood of having a bad trip. Avoiding the following mistakes will ensure that your experience with psychedelics is a positive one

Pick the right setting

Psychologist and author, Timothy Leary, could not emphasize it more… “set and setting” are of utmost importance when it comes to having a happy and therapeutic psychedelic trip. The general consensus is that it’s best to avoid unfamiliar situations, especially if you’re a novice user, and you should do everything possible to construct a safe and relaxing tripping environment BEFORE you start your adventure.

Make sure you’re in good company

At best, being around bad company or people that make you uncomfortable can be awkward and unpleasant. At worst, hanging out with the wrong people while tripping can become a literal nightmare complete with terrifying hallucinations. I don’t know about you, but for me, vibes are everything. If I get bad vibes from someone when I’m sober, you had better believe those negative feelings will be amplified if I’m on psychedelic drugs. To make sure you have a peaceful experience, you absolutely must surround yourself with people you trust and feel completely safe around.

Do NOT Use Hallucinogens with Other Substances

Psychedelic drugs are best used alone, unless of course you choose to smoke a little bit of cannabis along with them, which can have positive effects. Harder drugs and alcohol can be dangerous as they can magnify disorientation and physical symptoms associated with bad trips (nausea, chills, etc.), and some believe that combining these types of substances with entheogens can lead to violent thoughts and hallucinations.

Your Mood Impacts Your Trip

If you’re in a bad mood beforehand – feeling anxious, nervous, stressed, scared, or going through some sort of existential crisis – you might want to hold off on the psychedelics. Sure, when used therapeutically in a clinical setting, they can change your thoughts for the better. But if you’re inexperienced and grappling with dark thoughts, hallucinogens can amplify these and put you in a dangerously negative state of mind.

Don’t Rush

When planning your trip, it’s important to keep in mind that certain hallucinogens – mushrooms and LSD, for instance – can produce highs that last for up to 8 hours. Make 100 percent sure that you have enough time to complete your trip and come down from it properly without any type of activity or responsibility getting in the way. If you feel like you’re rushing and have too near of a cutoff time before getting back to reality, you could end up with a veil of dread and anxiety over your experience.

Final Thoughts

All in all, taking psychedelics successfully is not complicated or daunting in any way if you avoid making the above mistakes. Just be sure to keep a few things in mind, get your setting and company right, and don’t mix psychedelics with stronger drugs, and you can almost guarantee that your trip will be open, joyous, and transformative; rather than the complete opposite. Have you ever had a bad trip on psychedelics, and if so, was it related to any avoidable mistakes? We’d love to hear your thoughts, drop us a line in the comment section below!

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Biggest US Drug Loopholes: Delta-8 THC and Magic Mushrooms

Every country has its own set of drug laws, and nearly every set of drug laws comes with some sort of loophole. This is true for the good ole US of A as well. In fact, there are some very interesting US drug loopholes, namely delta-8 THC, and magic mushrooms.

What’s better than good old-fashioned US drug loopholes? Not much! Luckily, with current legislation still in gray area, delta-8 THC is available to the masses. And this is great. Not only does it give alternate benefits to standard delta-9 THC – like less psychoactive effect and a more clear-headed highbut it also causes less anxiety for users. Delta-9 is still federally illegal, but delta-8 is not completely, and that means we can bring you the best delta-8 THC deals, so you can give it a go for yourself.

What is a legal loophole?

A basic definition for a loophole is “…a technicality that allows a person or business to avoid the scope of a law or restriction without directly violating the law.” In other words, laws do exist, but either the laws don’t cover everything, aren’t specific enough, or exist alongside contradictory laws that call into question general legality. No matter what the exact reason is that the initial law doesn’t hold, a loophole demonstrates the ability to get around it. Before getting to US drug loopholes, let’s take a look at non-drug loopholes. Here are a couple examples of existing/recently-closed loopholes in America, to give an idea of how loopholes actually work.

• The legal drinking age in the US is 21, right? Well, in Wisconsin, this can be gotten around. According to Wisconsin state law, a parent is allowed to give a child an alcoholic beverage, so long as the parent has a proper ID. This drink can be administered not only in a private residence, but in a bar or restaurant as well. The parent must order the drink first, and be served it, before passing it onto their child. This law exists under Chapter 125 of the Wisconsin Statutes, in the department of revenue, and states: “An underage person accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse of legal drinking age may be sold or served alcohol beverages in any licensed premises.” There are questions as to whether this could apply to a child between 18-21, as the parent is not technically a legal guardian anymore.

• Murder is illegal, right? Well, according to a loophole in Colorado, this isn’t always the case. Colorado’s Make My Day law actually states that “any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling….”. This isn’t terribly different than self-defense laws that exist almost anywhere, but Colorado’s law was used in court by inmates claiming their cell was their home, and that they had a right to murder to defend it.

US drug loopholes

In 2011, Antero Alaniz and Aaron Bernal killed 3rd inmate Cleveland Flood in the Sterling Correctional Facility, when Flood entered the cell of the other two prisoners. Alaniz and Bernal successfully used the Make My Day law as their defense to have the charges thrown out in 2014, by saying the cell was their home and they had a right to defend it. In April 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an update to the legislation that bars it from being used further in the prison system, effectively closing the loophole.

US drug loopholes: delta-8 THC

There are plenty of US drug loopholes, but two of the most interesting ones relate to schedule I substances. The first is delta-8 THC, although how effective the loophole is, is certainly questionable. According to DEA Criminal Code 7370, all tetrahydrocannabinols are illegal, expect those that fall under the definition of ‘hemp’. The definition of hemp includes the flower itself, and products made from it:

“…the plant Cannabis Sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

This definition does not include any synthetics, only naturally occurring derivatives of hemp. Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring derivative of delta-9, formed through the oxidation of delta-9 when it comes into contact with oxygen. This process produces only minute amounts of delta-8 however, and in order for people to use it as a product, the delta-8 must be sourced using human processing help. As there is not a clear answer as to what constitutes a synthetic – and if human processing help puts it in this category, delta-8 falls into legal gray area about this definitional point. An Interim Final Rule put out by the DEA, and reinforced by the recent USDA Final Rule on hemp, does nothing to clarify this point.

This isn’t the only factor that effects delta-8 THC legality though. The 2018 US Farm Bill, which legalized the cultivation of hemp, and production of hemp-based products, and which uses the aforementioned definition of hemp, stipulates that it must be sourced from plants with not more than .3% THC in order to qualify as hemp. This would indicate the ability to source any amount of delta-8, so long as the delta-9 being used, came from hemp.

However, specifications to this law have pointed out that not only does the hemp plant need to have .3% THC or less, but it must retain this standard through the entirety of processing, as well as for the final product. Does this mean delta-8 is actually illegal? No. But it does make some rather stiff requirements for how strong a delta-8 product can be, essentially stating that the finished product also can’t have more than .3% THC. As the definition of hemp includes derivatives, and delta-8 is a derivative of delta-9, it does not get around this point.

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US drug loopholes: magic mushrooms

The second of the US drug loopholes has to do with mushrooms. Magic mushrooms are psychedelic fungi that can grow in the wild or be cultivated. Mushrooms that fit into this grouping contain psychoactive compounds like psilocybin and psilocin. These compounds are serotonergic hallucinogenic compounds, meaning they effect serotonin receptors in the brain, and are known for altering perception, mood, reality, and time for the user, while promoting feelings of euphoria, overall well-being, spirituality, and connectedness between people.

This loophole exists globally because of two opposing factors. The first is the inclusion of psilocybin, psilocin, and derivatives found in magic mushroom plants, in the Schedule I of the UN’s Convention on Psychotropic substances, an international treaty that denotes the legality of certain psychoactive drugs worldwide.

However, the plants themselves are not under any scheduling treaty globally. This means, that though there are laws outlawing what’s in the plants, there is no law against the plants themselves. This was emphasized in 2001, when the independent organization monitoring the implementation of UN drug treaties, the International Narcotics Control Board, made a statement to the Dutch ministry of health, in answer to a question about mushroom legality. It states:

“As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention.”

As can be seen in the answer, it is not simply the mushrooms themselves that are not under any global UN control, but nor are the preparations made from them, which would put this in direct contrast to the illegality of the active components. However, this is an international treaty, and not US law. When it comes to US law, the Controlled Substances Act from 1970, and the Psychotropic Substances Act of 1978 outlaw: “any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, substances which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, or which contains any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation”, with both psilocybin and psilocyn mentioned.

Depending on whether the terms ‘material’ and ‘substance’ account for plants, this definition does seem to illegalize magic mushrooms…albeit, with room for debate since the mushrooms themselves are still not mentioned.

magic mushrooms loophole

Notwithstanding states that have legalized (Oregon), or locations that have decriminalized (Denver) mushrooms, does this make magic mushrooms entirely federally illegal? No, it doesn’t. Though the US goes further than some countries which leave a wider loophole, the US does allow for certain things. And the biggest one, is the sale of magic mushroom spores. In fact most – but not all – states allow spores to be sold so long as the intention is not to ingest them. This, of course, is as silly as outlawing all cannabis, and then allowing hemp to be grown.

The reason for this, is that the spores themselves don’t contain psychedelic compounds, making them exempt from federal law. Technically, they aren’t meant to grow or be consumed, but the law allows them to be bought and sold, making the ability to grow and consume them, very possible in the USA. Another thing to consider, related to a Florida Supreme Court case from 1970, is that, if a person is arrested for mushrooms, but doesn’t know they are magic mushrooms (or can make a court believe this), they will likely not be held responsible for what they are not expected to realistically know.

It probably also bears mentioning, that the US’s FDA made the designation of psilocybin as a breakthrough therapy for major depression in 2019, a term meant to expedite the testing and development of medications. Funny for a government agency to work to speed along medications for a schedule I compound. Says a lot for how magic mushrooms are actually viewed by the US government.


The whole idea of a loophole, is that it’s not exactly legal, it’s just not 100% illegal either. I also include circumstances where there is illegality, but it doesn’t mitigate access. As one of the biggest current US drug loopholes, there is a mess of confusion currently around delta-8 THC, and though it seems more and more like the loophole available, doesn’t really cover everything, it’s also not officially illegal either.

For magic mushrooms, once again, the mushrooms aren’t stated as anything more than a ‘material’ or ‘substance’, which might make it arguable in court. But more importantly, their spores are completely legal in most US locations, making the availability and ability to grow them, not only possible, but pretty freaking easy!

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places which are always mentioned, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.

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Desert Tripping – A Closer Look at Peyote: Spiritual, Medicinal, & Controversial

There’s something about those vast desert landscapes – overflowing with emptiness, hostility, and a unique style of beauty – that seem to trigger deep and introspective spiritual experiences in many of us.

It’s a fact that since ancient times, humans have gravitated toward the artistic and transcendental nature of the desert. This phenomenon can be noted throughout different periods of time, from desert theology in the Old Testament, to Jim Morrison’s “lizard king” adventures in New Mexico, to the droves of artists and free thinkers currently flocking to the Mojave. If there’s one thing that can be said about desert landscapes, it’s that they are truly magical – in their own rugged, untamable, and dangerous type of way.

All that magic, wonder, and spiritual freedom also leads to curiosity and, more often than not, an urge to become more connected to the surrounding environment. Where can I go to be even more alone? What else is out there? What kind of plants can get me high and boost my meditative experience? All valid questions, but let’s focus on that last one.

Most deserts have some type of hallucinogenic plant, but not all psychedelics are created equal. For example, in my neck of the woods (Joshua Tree) you’ll find Jimson Weed everywhere, a beautiful white flower which can certainly get you high… but it’s usually a bad trip that ends with illness and sometimes even death. No fun. Now, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Chihuahuan desert a bit further east, you’ll find a small cactus that doesn’t look like much but is world renowned for the emotional, spiritual, and physical experience it can provide – Peyote.

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Peyote:  A botanical overview

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloids, the main one of interesting being mescaline. Peyote is a Spanish word derived from the Nahuatl peyōtl meaning “caterpillar cocoon”. It’s native to Mexico and southwestern Texas, and some parts of southeastern New Mexico. It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan desert and Sierra Marde occidental regions.

The Peyote cactus grows among thorny shrubs in the high regions, mainly between 330 and 4,920 ft, although in some rare circumstances, it has been found at elevations as high as 6,200 feet. It’s a very hardy plant that can grow in many different types of increment weather conditions, mainly, it just needs that dry desert air. It’s common to find it growing on or near limestone hills.

Peyotes are small, round, and somewhat flat, earthy green in color with tiny pink flowers at certain times of the year. It looks very similar to a green gourd with little flowers. The flowers bloom throughout spring and early summer, mostly from March to May, but can continue into September if conditions are ideal.

French botanist Charles Antoine Lemaire first identified the species as Echinocactus williamsii in 1845. A few decades later, it was recategorized in the newly established genus Lophophora by American botanist John Merle Coulter in 1894.

More about mescaline

Mescaline is a naturally occurring, plant-based psychedelic protoalkaloid belonging to the  phenethylmine class. It’s known for its powerful hallucinogenic properties, comparable to those of LSD and psilocybin. In addition to Peyote, mescaline can be synthesized from a few other cactus species as well such as the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), the Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana), and others.

A common dose for peyote is roughly 200 to 400 mg, depending on the person’s size, level of experience with the plant, and other factors. This translates to about 10 to 20 grams of dried peyote buttons, although potency can vary considerably between plants. The effects of mescaline last about 10 to 12 hours and can trigger very rich visual and auditory hallucinations.

Mescaline binds to virtually all serotonin receptors in the brain but has a stronger affinity for the 1A and 2A/B/C receptors. It’s structurally similar to LSD and often used as a benchmark when comparing psychedelics. Proper brain function is dependent on accurate signaling between these receptors.

Spiritual and cultural history

Cacti containing mescaline have a long history of use in Central and South America. Peyote, specifically, has been documented use dating back about 5,700 years, but it was likely being utilized way before then. Many Native American religious ceremonies included the use of peyote, and this was first noted by European settlers in the 1500s.

Although peyote use was widespread at the time, misguided Spanish conquistadors, banned the act in most regions. Yes, they went to a country that was not theirs and prohibited acts they knew nothing about. That said, religious persecution confined peyote usage to a few select areas near the Pacific coast and up to southwest Texas.

However, by the 1800s, peyote use began to spread away from those area, north into Central America. This was credited to a “new kind of peyote ceremony” initiated by the Kiowa and Comanche people. In 1920, these religious practices were written into United States under laws established to protect the beliefs and rituals of the Native American Church.

It has since spread throughout the United States and as far north as Saskatchewan, Canada. To this day, peyote is LEGALLY used in religious tribal ceremonies. Although it is federally prohibited for most U.S. citizen, there are exceptions in place for members of the Native American Church.

In traditional peyote preparations, the top of the cactus is cut off, leaving the large tap root along with a small, green photosynthesizing area where new heads can grow. These heads are then dried to make disc-shaped buttons. The buttons are chewed or soaked in water to make a beverage. Peyote is extremely bitter though, so, more contemporary users will usually grind the dried buttons into a powder and pour into capsules to consume.

What does the science say about Peyote?

In various indigenous cultures, peyote is used medicinally as well. For example, it has been used to treat various ailments and illnesses including snake bits, diabetes, skin conditions, general pain, hormonal issues, viruses, and even blindness. Aside from mescaline, peyote also contains an alkaloid called peyocactin, or hordenine as it’s more commonly referred to. In numerous studies, hordenine has been shown to assist with athletic performance and weight loss.

Peyote’s powerful effects on the serotonin system makes it a promising option for treating depression, PTSD, addiction, and other mental health disorders. In fact, research indicates that mescaline can increase blood flow and activity in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain regulates our ability to make plans, solve problems, control our emotions, and monitor our behavior. Low activity and poor circulation in this brain region has been linked to depression, anxiety, and subsequently, addiction and other disorders. All problems that psychedelics, including mescaline, have been used to alleviate.

Furthermore, following a peyote high, many users experience something known as the “afterglow”, that can last up to 6 weeks after a trip. During the afterglow period, users report feeling happier, less anxiety, more empathic, less prone to cravings, and more open to communication. These afterglow effects can increase the efficiency of therapy sessions while allowing the patient/user to feel some clarity and peace. Despite all being anecdotal, this information does have some obvious implications for future psychiatric treatment options to relieve depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

When it comes to side effects, especially long term, the research is extremely limited. It’s is considered a generally safe substance (depending on who you ask), and a lethal dose has not yet been identified. Meaning, there are no documented deaths from a peyote overdose.

Some studies have found a correlation between certain mental health problems and bad trips, although that is subjective as a bad trip can be triggered by many different external factors. However, in a 2005 study of Native American ceremonial use, there were no indications of any negative, long term health effects from regular peyote use. According to the research, “peyote appears to present little risk of flashbacks, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).”

What to expect

Should you decide to try peyote for yourself, you can expect to start feeling the effects coming on in about 30 minutes. Typically, you will experience some mild physical discomfort such as sweating or feeling bloated, but that subsides pretty quickly, eventually giving way to feelings of calm, peace, and acceptance.

You will peak, or feel the maximum psychoactive effects, at around two to four hours into your trip. Many people describe it as mystical, transcendental, profound, and eye-opening. They feel deeply connected to themselves, their thoughts, and the world around them. Visual distortions are also common – colors can seem more vibrant, patterns can looks like they’re moving, and you might see walls or other inanimate objects that appear to be breathing. Some believe they’re seeing the actual energy or lifeforce in everything around them.

Bad trips, or negative highs, are also a possibility, but they’re more likely to occur when a user overlooks the importance of setting the stage before they get high. It’s important to make sure you’re somewhere safe with people who you feel comfortable around. Any anxieties about your immediate environment have the tendency to result in a bad trip.

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a natural, therapeutic hallucinogen that is deeply rooted in Native American shamanic culture, look no further than the peyote cactus. It’s a powerful psychedelic, endemic to the Chihuahuan desert, that is still used in religious ceremonies to this day.

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High Times Greats: Aldous Huxley

Author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley was born on July, 26 1894 and died on November 22, 1963—exactly 56 years ago today. In his memory, we’re republishing Jay Stevens’ article from the January, 1988 issue of High Times, originally titled “Door to Perception: Huxley Drops Mescaline,” which was excerpted from Stevens’ book, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream.

He was born Aldous Leonard Huxley on July 26, 1894, in the county of Surrey, England, the third son of Dr. Leonard Huxley, educator, editor and minor literary figure, and the grandson of T.H. Huxley, eminent biologist and one of the most famous men in Victorian England. Known as “Darwin’s Bulldog,” T.H. was the man who had demolished Bishop Wilberforce in the famous Oxford debates over Darwin’s theory of evolution. He personified the scientific rationalist, and he eloquently argued its case in newspapers and magazines, and from lecterns throughout the English-speaking world. His collected essays, filling nine volumes, began appearing in the year of his third grandson’s birth, and just a few months before his own death at age seventy.

“Clear, cold logic engines,” were what T.H. demanded from his son and grandsons. As Aldous’s older brother, Julian, once defined it, the Huxley tradition was one of “hard but high thinking, plain but fiery living, wide intellectual interest and constant intellectual achievement.”

Huxley’s mother, Julia, came from equally impressive stock. She was the niece of poet Matthew Arnold and granddaughter of the moralist and educator Dr. Thomas Arnold, one of the eminent Victorians later eviscerated by Lytton Strachey in the book of that name. Julia Huxley was an educator who founded Prior’s Field, a girls’ school just a few meadows away from Hillside School, where young Aldous received his first education.

He was, by all accounts, a brilliant, unathletic, aloof student, whose capacity for detachment unnerved his peers. “Aldous possessed the key to an inviolable inner fortress,” said his cousin Gervas, who also attended Hillside. “Never can I remember his losing his control or giving way to violent emotion as most of us did.” He “possessed some innate superiority and moved on a different level from us other children,” according to his older brother, Julian. He was always thinking, measuring, comparing, assessing. Once his godmother, after observing him staring fixedly out a window, asked what on earth he was thinking about and received the single word skin in reply.

So he was an odd child, even a little scary. Some years later the English science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon published a book called Odd John, which was an attempt to imagine what an intellectual superman, a true Übermensch to use Nietzsche’s much debated term, would really be like. The resulting portrait bears a striking resemblance to the adolescent Aldous Huxley, with the profound qualification that Odd John was never tested by personal tragedy the way Huxley was. Beginning with his entrance to Eton, Huxley’s detachment was shattered by three tragedies. When he was fourteen his mother died. When he was sixteen he contracted a streptococcus infection that destroyed the cornea in his right eye and left the other clouded to the point of blindness. The condition was so serious that Huxley was forced to learn Braille, which he shrugged off with the wry joke that now he could read with impunity after lights out. He was also forced to give up his dream of studying biology, in preparation for a medical career. Adapting a typewriter with Braille keys, he began tapping out poems and stories.

Finally, two years after his blindness lifted and a year after matriculating at Balliol College, Oxford, in the same August that saw the beginning of World War One, Huxley’s middle brother, Trev, committed suicide.

“There is, apart from the sheer grief of the loss, an added pain in the cynicism of the situation,” Aldous wrote to cousin Gervas. “It is just the highest and best in Trev, his ideals, which have driven him to his death, while there are thousands who shelter their weakness from the same fate by a cynical, unidealistic outlook on life. Trev was not strong, but he had the courage to face life with ideals—and his ideals were too much for him.”

This was not a mistake Aldous intended to make. At Oxford he buried his idealism under a cloak of aesthetic dandyism, affecting yellow ties and white socks, and instead of the usual classical reproduction above the fireplace, installing a poster of bare-breasted bathing beauties—French of course. He moved a piano into his room and began banging out American jazz. And he started spending weekends at Garsington, a manor house some six miles from Oxford that Phillip and Ottoline Morrell maintained as a country retreat for the Bloomsbury crowd. A typical Garsington houseparty mingled the likes of Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Bertrand Russell, the Woolfs—Leonard and Virginia—with assorted other aristocrats of the artistic and intellectual beau monde. Young Huxley held his own amid this galaxy of wits, and was considered by them an intellectual comer and promising poet. When he published a chapbook of poems entitled The Defeat of Youth in 1918, tout Garsington joined in his praise.

Garsington was also where Huxley met his future wife, Maria Nys, a waifish Belgian war refugee who was one of Lady Ottoline’s charges. Besides being more than a foot shorter than her future husband, Maria’s temperament—intuitive, magical, sensuous—was the exact opposite of Aldous’s clear cold logic engine. Igor Stravinsky once said of Maria: “knowing nothing, she understands everything.” And one of things she understood was people. Maria had great psychological acuity, something her husband was almost totally without. Aldous called her his “personal relationship interpreter,” and he used to quiz her thoroughly about the people they met at Garsington.

Their partnership—they began living together in 1919 and were married a few months later—produced one child, a boy, Matthew, and at least eight novels. The first of these, Chrome Yellow, was published in 1921, and was followed at two-year intervals by Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves, and Point, Counterpoint. Opening the boards of that first book, none of Huxley’s friends could have been prepared for what they found inside. The gentle, abstracted poet of lines like

No dip and dart of swallows wakes the blank
Slumber of the canal: —a mirror dead
for lack of loveliness remembered

turned into an assassin when he wrote fiction. (“I have done an admirable short story,” Huxley once wrote to his brother Julian’s future wife. “So heartless and cruel that you would probably scream if you heard it: the concentrated venom is quite delicious.”) Sure the writing sparkled and the plot unfolded with professional ease, but there was something acid and unsettling about the way the stories portrayed the emptiness, the artistic and moral pretences of the very friends who were now reading the book. The only thing that saved Huxley from the anger that later greeted Evelyn Waugh’s similar lampoons was the fact that Huxley dissected his own pretensions with equal ferocity. He never stinted on himself.

Huxley dealt with his angst by moving frequently, living in Belgium, France, Spain, and Tunisia, and Italy, where his wife Maria and he became friends with D.H. Lawrence. As the Twenties drew to a close they semipermanently established themselves at a villa in Sanary, France, among the mix of artists and idle rich lucky enough to live on the Côte in the years immediately preceding the Crash of ’29. From Marseilles to Antibes, the Midi was an expanded version of a Garsington weekend. It was familiar fauna, and one might have expected a continuation of what the London Times described as “the many-toned wit… the learning, the thought, the richness of character.”

But Huxley gave his readers instead the anti-utopian Brave New World. Brave New World was Huxley’s first stab at themes that would occupy him for the rest of his life: the gap between technology and human wisdom; the misapplication of evolution; the failure of education to create a whole man; the increasing centralization of power, with its elevation of ends over means. It was also his most savage book, consigning the human species to the trash heap, albeit a comfortable, pleasureful trash heap. In a world in which science allows you to customize the ultimate in bread and circuses, argued Huxley, the concept of coercion becomes meaningless. One of the brilliant elements of Brave New World, indeed the one that made the whole vision of state-controlled euphoria plausible, was the drug soma. In terms of pharmacological reality, soma was a combination of three different kinds of mind drugs: on one level it was a pleasant and entertaining hallucinogen, on another a tranquilizer like Librium or Valium, on a third a sleeping pill. There was nothing coercive about soma use: diehard individualists had the option of relocating to several offshore islands.

But soma was only a symptom of Huxley’s larger theme, which was the machining of human nature. The genius that had allowed the smart monkey to tame the natural world was beginning to focus on itself. And unless something was done to alter the monkey’s fundamental psyche, the consequence was going to be a scientific hell that called itself paradise.

Huxley’s intellectual companion during these years, and perhaps his mentor, was a London literary boulevardier named Henry Fitz Gerald Heard—Gerald to his friends. In 1937, the two moved to America, eventually settling in Los Angeles, where they became a familiar presence on the local spiritual scene, studying Vedantic Hinduism at an ashram in Hollywood. The ashram was under the supervision of a canny, charismatic teacher, Swami Prabhavananda, who some years earlier had been ordered to Los Angeles by his teacher to fulfill the larger karma of introducing the inner disciplines of the East to the materialistic West. To leave not only his native land, but the contemplative solitude of the ashram, for Hollywood, California—it was not a task Prabhavananda had welcomed. But he had come and prospered, confirming the shrewdness of his teacher’s foresight.

The ashram, in classic Southern California fashion, was shaped like a miniature Taj Mahal, and was surrounded by lemon trees and young girls meditating in saris. Prabhavananda was fond of tea parties, during which he would debate Huxley and later Alan Watts, on various doctrinal points. The swami counseled asceticism in all things, including sex.

“But Aldous, what if we don’t like him? What if he wears a beard?” was Maria’s comment when Huxley announced that he had invited an unknown chap named Humphrey Osmond, a psychiatrist no less, for a visit. The offer of room and board chez Huxley was a rare ticket; even Julian, when he was in town, stayed at a local hotel.

The possibility that Osmond might be a tedious bore hadn’t occurred to Huxley, and after a few moments’ thought he arrived at a simple solution. “We can always be out,” he said.

Osmond, some three thousand miles away, was having similar fears. What if he couldn’t play in Huxley’s intellectual league? What if he came off as a tedious bore? “You can always arrange to stay late at the APA,” his wife said.

He need not have worried. The thing Huxley prized most in a fellow conversationalist was intellectual breadth, and Osmond had plenty of that. Like Heard, he could turn on a conversational dime and launch into a disquisition on, say, scurvy, that was so vivid one would almost swear he had shipped with Da Gama when half of the gentleman’s crew perished. Maria, watching Aldous warm to the younger man, confided to Osmond: “I knew you’d get along. You’re both Englishmen.”

Huxley accompanied Osmond to several APA sessions, which he found deadly dull, and amused himself by genuflecting whenever Freud’s name was mentioned. The subject of mescaline didn’t arise until two days before Osmond was to leave, and then it was Maria who broached the subject, having decided that the famous British reticence was going to prevent the two men from discussing what was certainly uppermost in Aldous’s mind. Osmond admitted that he had brought some mescaline with him; while Huxley conceded that he had borrowed a tape recorder to preserve a record of the experiment.

The next day, May 4, 1953, Osmond dissolved some mescaline crystals in a glass of water and nervously handed it to Huxley. Outside it was one of those perfect LA mornings, blue and warm, with just a trace of smog hanging over the San Bernadino valley. What if the drug worked too well, Osmond thought to himself. Although Smythies and he had begun to appreciate that there was more to the mescaline experience than simple psychosis, that didn’t diminish the possibility that the next six hours might be absolutely hellish. And Osmond didn’t relish the possibility that he might become infamous as the man who drove Aldous Huxley crazy.

On the other hand, what if nothing happened? It was beginning to dawn on Humphrey that Huxley had some rather idiosyncratic notions about what he hoped to achieve in the mescaline state. Nowhere was this more explicit than in the letter Osmond had received confirming his invitation to stay with the Huxleys while at the APA. After the usual pleasantries, Aldous had launched into a critique of what he called the Sears & Roebuck culture:

“Under the current dispensation the vast majority of individuals lose, in the course of education, all the openness to inspiration, all the capacity to be aware of other things than those enumerated in the Sears-Roebuck catalogue; is it too much to hope that a system of education may someday be devised which shall give results, in terms of human development, commensurate with the time, money, energy and action expended? In such a system of education it may be that mescaline or some other chemical substance may play a part by making it possible for young people to “taste and see” what they have learned at second hand, or directly but at a lower level of intensity, in the writings of the religious, or the works of poets, painters and musicians.”

Osmond was using mescaline as a mimicker of madness; Huxley wanted to incorporate it into the curriculum.

The minutes passed slowly—too slowly for Huxley, who told Osmond he expected to enter what he called the Blakeian world of heroic perception. What actually happened was much more mundane. The lights danced. The inside of his eyelids dissolved into a complex of gray squares that occasionally gave birth to a blue sphere.

Then, ninety minutes into the experience, Huxley felt himself pass through a screen, at least that’s what it seemed like, and suddenly he was seeing “what Adam had seen on the morning of creation.” It was as though, born myopic, he had just put on his first pair of glasses. The colors, the shapes, the sensuous mysteriousness of his flannel trousers. Later Aldous would pun that he had seen “eternity in a flower, infinity in four chair legs, and the Absolute in the folds of a pair of flannel trousers.”

He kept murmuring, “This is how one ought to see.”

Mescaline, Huxley decided, intensified the visual at the expense of the temporal and spatial. There was a pronounced loss of will, which gradually expanded into a loss of ego. And as the ego relinquished its grip, all sorts of useless data, biologically speaking, began to seep into the mind.

From the house, with its suddenly cubist furniture, they wandered into the garden. For the first time Huxley felt the presence of paranoia, and beyond that, madness. “If you started the wrong way,” he told Osmond, “everything that happened would be proof of the conspiracy against you. It would all be self-validating. You couldn’t draw a breath without knowing it was part of the plot.”

“So you think you know where madness lies?” Osmond asked.


“And you couldn’t control it?”

“No, I couldn’t control it,” Huxley said. “If one began with fear and hate as the major premise, one would have to go on to the conclusion.”

But then the shadow passed. From the garden they moved to the street, where a large blue automobile touched off gales of laughter. Fat and self-satisfied, it seemed to Huxley that the car was a self-portrait of twentieth-century man; for the rest of the day he giggled whenever he saw one. Aldous was having a wonderful time. After years of theorizing that each of us carries a reserve of untapped vision and inspiration, he had suddenly stumbled across it at the advanced age of fifty-eight.

It was a little like that classic moment in children’s literature when the hero walks outside one morning and discovers a door, where yesterday there was only blank wall. And beyond that door, a garden of infinite dimension, infinite adventure.

Huxley was jubilant.

Mescaline was “the most extraordinary and significant experience available to human beings this side of the Beatific Vision,” he cabled his New York editor, Harold Raymond, adding that he was working on a long essay that would raise “all manner of questions in the fields of aesthetics, religion, theory of knowledge.” He planned to call this essay The Doors of Perception, after Blake’s observation that “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything will appear to man as it is, infinite.”

Destined to become the most famous volume on the psychedelic bookshelf, Doors took Huxley a month to write, and when he was done he had a blow-by-blow account of that afternoon with Osmond—events like the Dharma body of the Buddha manifesting itself in the garden hedge—tempered by liberal speculation as to what it all might possibly mean in terms of human psychology.

What it all meant, Huxley thought, was that Bergson and the English philosopher C.D. Broad had been correct when they suggested that the brain operated as a vast reducing valve, “shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.” Like the Freudian ego, this reducing valve was constantly beset by the raging tides of Mind at Large, which was what Huxley called Jung’s archetypal unconscious plus Freud’s pathological unconscious plus Myer’s treasure house plus all the other unconsciousnesses yet to be named. And like Freud’s ego, this reducing valve was not watertight: its seal was susceptible to pressure.

“As Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve,” he wrote, “all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen. In some cases there may be extra-sensory perceptions. Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence…. In the final stage of egolessness there is an ‘obscure knowledge’ that All is in all—that All is actually each.” Which was why bookjackets gleamed with godliness and an innocuous canvas chair in the garden “looked like the Last Judgement.”

There was nothing unique about Mind at Large: the smart money had been vacationing there for millennia—the number of hit or miss techniques could’ve filled a small booklet. But suddenly, with mescaline, mankind had lucked upon a technology. For the first time a science of the Other World was possible. Perhaps.

The Doors of Perception was published in the spring of 1954 to generally perplexed reviews. Had anyone else written a book recommending mescaline as “an experience of estimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual,” declared The Reporter’s Marvin Barrett, it would have been dismissed “as the woolgathering of a misguided crackpot. But coming…from one of the current masters of English prose, a man of immense erudition and intellect who usually demonstrates a high moral seriousness, they deserve more careful scrutiny.” Barrett called around until he found some Lab Madness researchers who were using mescaline as a psychotomimetic. They were “less enthusiastic than Dr. Huxley and the Indians,” he reported. “In controlled experiments they have found that mescaline more often than not produces symptoms unpleasantly similar to those of schizophrenia.”

The critical response to Doors was almost an echo of the British Medical Journal’s condemnation of Havelock Ellis for his enthusiastic endorsement of peyote. In effect, Huxley’s knuckles were rapped, and another black mark was added to the “whatever happened to Aldous” column. “How odd it is that writers like Belloc and Chesterton may sing the praises of alcohol (which is responsible for about two-thirds of the car accidents and three-quarters of the crimes of violence) and be regarded as good Christians and noble fellows,” Huxley complained, “whereas anyone who ventures to suggest that there may be other and less harmful short cuts to self transcendence is treated as a dangerous drug fiend and wicked perverter of weak-minded humanity.”

But Doors sold, slowly but steadily. Someone was reading it.

Maria died in February 1955. During her last hours, “with tears streaming down his face and his quiet voice not breaking,” Aldous read to her from the Bardo Thodol, interweaving the ancient Tibetan text with lyrical descriptions of their shared past. With Lawrence in Italy. Summers at Sanary. The weekends at Garsington when they had first met while the rest of the world was falling apart on the Somme. Their trips to the California desert. The white snowcapped mountains of the Sierras. “Go toward the light,” Aldous kept murmuring. “Those last three hours were the most anguishing and moving of my life,” Matthew Huxley later wrote to his wife; while for Gerald they were proof that Aldous had indeed come back through the Door a changed man; that he was able to cope with Maria’s death so calmly was wholly attributable, Gerald felt, to the wisdom he had gained from mescaline.

The fall of 1960 was an equivocal time for Aldous Huxley. His lectures on visionary experience were jammed. And not just by students. The public ones at night caused traffic problems more appropriate for the Harvard-Yale game. Huston Smith, who taught religion at MIT, considered it the crowning moment of Huxley’s career as a public philosopher. Huxley was less sanguine. For twenty-five years, ever since he had joined Gerald Heard in support of Dick Shepperton’s Peace Union, he had been chipping away at his loathing for the public soapbox; in the last twenty years he had addressed everyone from rotarians to nuclear scientists; so by the time he reached MIT he was in top oratorical form. But he found he had little to say. “It’s a bit embarrassing,” he confided to Huston Smith, “to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘Try to be a little kind.’”

It was the sort of gentle resignation one might expect from a man who had recently been diagnosed as having cancer of the throat.

Health problems, which he blamed on his stringbean lack of robustness, had always been a complication in Huxley’s life; his letters are peppered with self-mocking references to his hypochondria, his blindness, his lack of stamina. But cancer was Maria’s disease, there was a finality to it, which may be why Aldous told no one except Humphrey Osmond, whom he swore to secrecy.

With death on his mind, Huxley redoubled his efforts on his recalcitrant utopian novel, which now bore the working title Island. Every morning he wrestled with the literary problem of how to portray a psychedelic utopia without boring the reader. “It may be that the job is one which cannot be accomplished with complete success,” he confessed to his son. “In point of fact, it hadn’t been accomplished in the past. For most Utopian books have been exceedingly didactic and expository. I am trying to lighten up the exposition by putting it into dialogue form, which I make as lively as possible. But meanwhile I am always haunted by the feeling that, if only I had enough talent, I could somehow poeticize and dramatize all this intellectual material.”

It was a losing battle. Despite his best efforts, Island was becoming a thinly fictionalized anthology of final thoughts on topics that had occupied Huxley for forty years: on education, psychology, metaphysics; on the place of art and creativity in life, and the role of psychedelics in exploring the mind’s potential. To dramatize this last theme, he had invented a new mind drug, which he called moksha, “the reality revealer, the truth and beauty pill.”

The crab, in remission since 1960, had come creeping back, and by autumn it was touch and go. Huxley checked into a Los Anbgeles hospital and tried to ignore the disease that was ravaging his throat. He was unable to write because of the pain but he did have a dictaphone and in lucid moments he worked on an essay on Shakespeare. Although his condition was obviously grave, he refused to acknowledge the possibility of death. Did he know he was dying? It was a question his second wife, Laura, couldn’t answer:

“We read the entire manual of Dr. Leary based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He could have, even jokingly, said: “Don’t forget to remind me when the time comes.” His comment instead was directed only to the problem of “reentry” after a psychedelic session. It is true he sometimes said things like, ‘If I get out of this,’ in connection with his new ideas of writing, and wondered when and if he would have the strength to work. He was mentally very active and it seemed that some new levels of his mind were stirring.”

But on the morning of November twenty-second, 1963, a Friday, it became clear the gap between living and dying was closing. Realizing that Aldous might not survive the day, Laura sent a telegram to his son, Matthew, urging him to come at once. At ten in the morning, an almost inaudible Aldous asked for paper and scribbled “If I go,” and then some directions about his will. It was his first admission that he might die. Soon after he murmured, “Who is eating out of my bowl?” When Laura asked what he meant he dismissed it as a private joke. “At this point there is so little to share,” he told her, a statement that she interpreted as meaning no questions. Around noon he asked for the pad of paper and scribbled

LSD—try it

In a letter circulated among Aldous’s friends, Laura Huxley described what followed: “You know very well the uneasiness in the medical mind about this drug. But no ‘authority,’ not even an army of authorities, could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous’s room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give the shot—maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, ‘No, I must do this.’”

An hour later she gave Huxley a second 100mm. Then she began to talk, bending close to his ear, whispering, “light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willing and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully—you are going toward the light—you are going toward the light—you are going toward a greater love…. You are going toward Maria’s love with my love. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.”

All struggle ceased. The breathing became slower and slower and slower, until, “like a piece of music just finishing so gently in sempre piu piano, dolcamente at twenty past five in the afternoon, Aldous Huxley died.

And it was only then that Laura Huxley really had the time to fathom the other great tragedy of the day, the assassination of the President in Dallas.

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