Level Definition and Introduction

Graeme Carl

The following series relates my attempts at describing some of the more notable of my experiences with psychoactives. In just over seven years I have "tripped" around 60 times. During this period I have been paying careful attention to the effects of various dosages and have come to the conclusion that the dosage-response curve for both Psilocybin (mushrooms) and LSD is non-linear. This non-linearity is different from person to person but the essential shape of the graph is consistent. The following ascii diagram is an attempt to portray this information:

  5 I                                 ooooooooo
  4 I                          ooooooo
L   I
E 3 I                   ooooooo
V   I
E 2 I            ooooooo
L   I
  1 I     ooooooo
   0      2      3      5      13     20      
             D O S A G E   (in Fresh Mushrooms)

I have scaled the X-axis in mushrooms, since this is a known quantity, whereas attempting to scale it in terms of micro-grams of LSD would not be possible without accurately knowing the dosage contained in paper trips. (Yes I can hear many of you proclaiming that the dosage uncertainty of mushrooms is much higher..... but read on!) The essential shape of the graph is all I want to get across here, since the actual dosage varies from person to person sometimes by a factor of two.

Unfortunately the variation of LSD content in trips is very wide, but for a while, there was quite a few consistently strong trips going around called "Clear-Lights" (This was about 5 years ago) I would guess that two of these would place most people near the realms of level 5. In terms of trips available at the moment, I would guess that 4 or 5 would be necessary. All this is purely subjective of course.

The mushrooms in question are:
Psilocybe subaeruginosa (Victoria Australia)
CAP: Up to 5 cm in diameter, conical when young but later convex and umbonate, edge inturned when young, smooth, a pallid biscuit brown when dry but darker when wet.
STEM: To 10 cm long, rather slender but often a little swollen at the base, somewhat mealy above, with a cobweb-like veil when young, which sometimes leaves a trace of a superior ring, but this is often lacking, whitish with grey stains and often blotched and greenish blue.
GILLS: Adnate to adnexed, deep, close, pallid smoky brown becoming blackish.
SPORES: Purplish brown in print, ellipsoidal, with a germ pore, 10-15 x 5-9 um.
DISTRIBUTION: Solitary or in groups on soil in forests. ACT, NSW, SA, Tas., Vic.
Gutzman and Watling (1978) suggested that this species consists of four very closely similar species, which differ in the characteristics of the cystidia on the gills. (See Gutzman G. and Watling, R. (1978) 'Studies in Australian Agarics and Boletes. I. Some species of Psilocybe', Notes from the Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 36, 199-210.)

On a personal note: They do have a faint but distinctive mushroom smell, and eating them raw really lets you know how bad they taste!

In order to further standardise the dosage for testing, large numbers of mushrooms were picked (300-600) at a time. These were then dried at a constant temp, crushed and mixed to ensure they were homogenous. This was done to avoid the sometimes vast differences in potency that exist between single mushrooms.

The following list is my attempt at explaining the various levels and how to recognise them. I felt that Shulgin's "3 plusses" system was designed more for measuring the general level of effect, rather than specifically locating ones' consciousness on an accurate scale and hence I felt it necessary to define the following:

Note that this is only an experimental "pigeon-holing" of my own 60 or so trips from 1986 to the present (October 1993)

Level 1:

This level produces a mild 'stoning' effect, with some visual enhancement (ie. brighter colours etc) Some short term memory anomalies. Left/right brain communication changes causing music to sound 'wider' ["El cheapo" paper trips or 2 or 3 mushrooms]

Level 2:

Bright colours, and visuals (ie. things start to move and breath) some 2 dimensional patterns become apparent upon shutting eyes. Confused or reminiscent thoughts. Change of short term memory leads to continual distractive thought patterns. Vast increase in creativity becomes apparent as the natural brain filter is bypassed. (*) [3 - 5 mushies]

Level 3:

Very obvious visuals, everything looking curved and/or warped patterns and kaleidoscopes seen on walls, faces etc. Some mild hallucinations such as rivers flowing in wood grained or 'mother of pearl' surfaces. Closed eye hallucinations become 3 dimensional. There is some confusing of the senses (ie. seeing sounds as colours etc.) Time distortions and `moments of eternity`. Movement at times becomes extremely difficult (too much effort required) [5 - 13 mushies]

Level 4:

Strong hallucinations, ie objects morphing into other objects. Destruction or multiple splitting of the ego. (Things start talking to you, or you find that you are feeling contradictory things simultaneously) Some loss of reality. Time becomes meaningless. Out of body experiences and esp type phenomena. Blending of the senses. [13 - 20 mushies]

Level 5:

Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. Total loss of ego. Merging with space, other objects or the universe. The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation. The earlier levels are relatively easy to explain in terms of measureable changes in perception and thought patterns. This level is different in that the actual universe within which things are normally perceived, ceases to exist! Satori enlightenment (and other such labels) (**). [20 - 40 mushies]

Notes to the above:

*In order for the human entity to survive, it must learn from an early age how to shut out (or filter) the masses of information reaching the brain. This process of selective filtering allows us to become centred on a single thought. (Imagine being completely aware of all the signals coming into your body at the one moment, imagine being aware of every square inch of your skin and how it felt. Imagine being eternally aware of your tounge in your mouth, that itch on the end of your nose or the sound of the airconditioning hissing softly in the background. I believe that tripping brings back those awareness that have been shut out ever since we were three.

Have you ever noticed children walking into a shopping mall? If you notice next time, they appear to be tripping, staring wide eyed at all the amazing colours, walking along looking up at the ceiling and and watching themselves in the mirrored surface. As childred age, they gradually learn to shut out the onslaught of information, they no longer seem to notice the world as their younger siblings do! By the time adulthood is reached, these sensations are even lost to memory. Perhaps this explains why so many first time trippers, seem to feel a strange sense of familiarity, a feeling that the trip reality is somehow more real than their straight reality.....

**Satori enlightenment, instant Zen, Nirvana etc etc. You may find many of these Eastern terms used in conjunction with Ergot derivative drugs. In my (humble) opinion, true Zen enlightenment is reached only when the ego has been completely overcome, only when the 'ox' has been tracked, tamed and ridden back to town. This, unfortunately cannot be achieved in the altered reality of the tripping universe. The 'flashes' of Satori which may be experienced by the fortunate whilst tripping, are perceived as momentary periods of absolute peace and calm, periods where for a short time, the ego is so diffused, that the mind is no longer enslaved by many of the passions that normally arise.

I dont believe that true enlightenment can be attained by the use of drugs, but I do believe that exposure to such experiences can be very valuable indeed, and may provide the encouragement for further study that otherwise may not have been attainable.

I have spent the majority of my trips at levels 3 & 4 and have now achieved level 5 twice! The first instance was mostly spent in level 4, but I had a few flashover experiences, where I jumped momentarily up to level 5 then down again. This state occurred with a dosage equivalent to 20 large fresh mushrooms (It was actually 40 dried mushrooms which has about the same potency)

Two days ago I consumed the equivalent of 30 fresh mushrooms (60 dried or about 12 grams of dessicated mushroom) This dosage caused me to spend about 3 hours of real time (years and years of subjective time) inside level 5.

In the following series of posts I will attempt to relate some of my experiences to you and classify them in terms of the Levels I have defined. I have attempted to be as objective as possible, hence the reason for the somewhat "clinical" style of the first two documents.

Those of you wishing to "jump to the good bits" should read the post on LEVEL 5 or "Journey out of the Universe"

Please comment on the above theories. I will be interested to hear your opinions and criticisms.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this series.....

Read on:


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