A Tryptamine Expedition
. . . a note from underground
by "Gracie and Zarkov"
Copyright © August 1985 by Gracie and Zarkov Productions. We believe that
in a truly free society the price of packaged information would be driven
down to the cost of reproduction and transmission. We, therefore, give
blanket permission and encourage photocopy, quotation, reprint or entry
into a database of all or part of our articles provided that the copier
or quoter does not take credit for our statements.
This paper is about the strangest trip that we have ever had.
Furthermore, in our discussions with other experienced heads it became
clear that this trip was one of the more peculiar trips that we have even
heard of! That in and of itself might not warrant an article. However,
the possible implications of this trip are such that we have decided to
write about our experience to add to the store of "stubborn empirical
facts" that make up psychedelic phenomenology.
We are also aware that this trip was outlandish enough that its retelling
may cause our readers to believe that we finally have either lost it or
are resorting to creative writing. We would like to assure our readers
that what you are about to read happened exactly as described (within the
limits of our powers of observation).
In this paper we give a description of the trip, our beliefs concerning
the phenomenology, and our tentative conclusions regarding our
experience. It seems impractical to reproduce the entire trip narrative
written right after the experience since it runs to twenty typewritten
pages. Therefore, this paper is a highly condensed version of the trip
The weekend prior to our strange experience, Gracie had decided to take 5
grams of potent stropharia mushrooms by
herself. While it is common
practice for us to trip together, Zarkov's high dose mushroom trips have
been uniformly negative ever since he established contact with certain
insectoid creatures who claimed to have engineered the mushroom for their
own purposes. (See, High Frontiers, Issue no. 2 and Note no. 8).
Gracie was going in alone to perform reconaissance. After ahout an hour and
one half of arguing with the voice and being unable to see any visions, she
began to "interview" the voice which seemed quite amenable to
questioning. Gracie called in Zarkov and together we interviewed the
voice in Gracie's head for about two hours. One of the raps was that
Gracie had trouble entering the vision state because she hadn't practiced
enough visualization and was afraid to leave her body.
Now it is true that despite how much talk there is about how hard it is
to get into the far-out mushroom states, Zarkov would just 'fall down the
rabbit hole' on any dose over 3 grams without knowing how he did it,
while Gracie had much more elusive contact with the mushroom vision
states even at doses in the 10 gram range. However, given Gracie's
consistent ability to see the "visible language" on
DMT (which Zarkov has so far only briefly
glimpsed) and her other visionary experiences on
DMT, this rap seemed rather unlikely.
But, the mushroom voice held cut hope. Gracie should practice building a
fantasy world in her head and maybe, if we both took mushrooms together,
she could "show" her fantasy world to Zarkov. Zarkov was extremely
skeptical of the whole rap. It seemed very enticing and very unlike his
experiences with the mushrooms. That week Zarkov went to the East coast
on business and left Gracie to work on her fantasy world.
Upon Zarkov's return on Friday, Gracie announced that she had worked
diligently on her fantasy world and would like to show it to Zarkov that
weekend using mushrooms. The only description she gave of the world was
that it was a barbarian bronze age planet run by Goddess-worshipping
group of priestesses and that he was cast as a high-tech off-worlder.
Zarkov was apprehensive, since he didn't want another "alien space wars"
trip on the mushroom. The experimental protocol that we agreed on was to
do a DMT shot at noon on Saturday and if the
experience seemed positive, to take the mushrooms later in the day. The first
shot was inconclusive because Zarkov didn't get off but he did get a terrific
case of the tryptamine giggles. He decided to take another dose. The visions
in the noontime sunlight were exquisite. Over the next half hour, we each
consumed betweeen 100 and 150 mg of
DMT in four separate "trips". The experience for
Zarkov had been glorious. His relationship with the
DMT over the last four months of regular usage had
been uniformly positive even when it had been terrifying. The idea had came
into his head (from where?) that by presaturating himself with the
DMT, his previous problems
with the mushroom could be avoided.
We had fasted since Friday night and had been especially careful with our
diets all week. At 2:00 PM, we both took 5 gms of potent stropharia
mushrooms. We washed down the 'shrooms with ginger ale. We stayed in the
bright sunlight until the closed eye visions began to come on strongly
(about 30 mlnutes). We then went into our darkened trip room.
The Trip: Content and Comments
The basic phenomena of the trip were as highlighted below.
- Gracie saw none of the visions described below. In fact, she
saw no visions during the trip. She was high and the trip
roam took on a beautiful jewelled quality. She had no
tendency to drift into a trance even though she had taken the
same dosage of DMT and mushrooms as Zarkov.
- Zarkov could not resist the trance. Strangely, he could talk
with ease but could not maintain any other semblance of
contact with reality. Any attempt to do so resulted in
overwhelming stomach cramps, full body shivers, vertigo and
throbbing headache. All of these body symptoms went away if
he paid attention to the trance state.
- Zarkov's first vision was a stadium full of hostile giant
insect creatures that he was familiar with from previous
mushroom trips. However, immediately the
creatures floated in and sang this message, "Aren't they a
dull and pompous bunch! But don't worry, they can't get at
you because we are here." These "banshee" creatures were a
common occurance in Zarkov's DMT trips.
- The next series of visions were of various aliens that seemed
to be trying to sell Zarkov various visions. The banshees
continued to accompany the visions and offer comment.
- At about the chemical peak of the trip (one hour), the house
had a rash of poltergeist phenomena that were jointly observed
by both of us. Furthermore, the cats noticed them and
followed them as they made their way through the house. The
banshees advised Zarkov not to worry about them because
"things like this happen." This was the last point in the
trip where Zarkov could maintain contact with ordinary
- The banshees formed a gate next to an alien selling visions
indicating that Zarkov should "buy into" this vision.
- By "going" through the gate, Zarkov found himself someplace
- This some place else was another world. It no longer seemed
like a psychedelic vision, but rather it seemed like a real
world. The sun felt warm; when it went down Zarkov felt cool.
To move around it was necessary to walk. Wherever he looked,
there was a realistic amount of detail. No insubstantial
visions, just a real world wherever Zarkov looked. He could
eat, walk, swim, fuck and talk to the other characters.
- The world was Gracie's fantasy world. Even though she
couldn't see it, Zarkov's verbal description matched her
world. She could give instructions to Zarkov that he could
follow to get around.
- The world was a bronze-age city. In the background were green
and fertile mountains. The architecture was of massive
granite blocks with a poured concrete look about them. The
style was neoclassical crossed with Minoan with a touch of
Jack Vance. The mise-en-scene made sense and did not appear
contrived. The aesthetic sensibility, while of the wretched excess
school, was coherent. It was the most beautiful place Zarkov had
ever seen, in shades of pink, mauve, purple and gold.
- The story line was that of the wierdest heavy metal video ever
designed. There were barbaric artifacts and luxury items all
over. The world was inhabited by buxom, bottom-heavy,
voluptuous nymphos. Zarkov found himself in an elaborate
caped outfit, somewhere between Darth Vader and Ming the
Merciless. His entourage was a group of cretinous,
long-haired sleazos in heavy metal dress and carrying guitars.
The trip consisted of a tour through the city from the wharf
to the main temple where a three-day orgy took place.
- The world somehow seemed like an isomorphic metaphor to
Gracie's personality structure.
- The world was coherent and consistent. It had internal rules
as inexorable as the "natural laws" on earth.
- It had its own linear time. Subjectively, Zarkov spent three
days in the world. Yet this voyaqe was encompassed in a
normal six-hour mushroom trip. Furthermore, any attempt to
reestablish contact with earth left huge gaps in the story
since the world proceeded at its own pace, even if Zarkov
wasn't paying attention.
- It did not seem like telepathy or a projection from Gracie's
head. Rather, we believe that somehow the fantasy world was
lifted from Gracie's head and placed in the tryptamine
"library of all time and space" where Zarkov "read out the
- The only psychedelic aspect to the world was the continual
presence of the DMT banshees, albeit they were
"disguised" as a sort of observer/chorus as bats, orchids, etc., throughout
- The DMT acted as a tuner of some sort for
the mushroom experience. Certain aspects of the vision seemed
characteristically DMT, like the banshees, the
extreme time dilation, and the bejewelled colors. The mushroom contributed
the epic quality, the exfoliating details and the practical
joke quality of the whole set-up.
- Such an experience, if controllable, would be extremely useful
to a shaman trying to treat mental illness. He could walk
through the streets of his patient's mind without the verbal
filter of analysis. It might even be possible to make changes
in the landscape to effect a cure. The demons lurking in the
shadows would be a constant danger, "You might not come back."
Zarkov has not attempted to repeat the experience. Gracie, however, has
used the DMT predose before a lower dose of
mushrooms (3 grams) and found
herself in an irresistible trance with a series of faint visions. This
was outdoors at night with a friend who did the same mix and also found
herself in a trance, although her visions remained state-bound.
We don't know what Zarkov's vision means or how he got there, but we
encourage anyone with visionary tendencies to try exploring these modes.
Other pages of interest:
The Sputnik Drug Information Zone