Amanita Muscaria. I had managed to eat 30 grams of this highly toxic species of mushrooms. Initially, I had consumed little less than half, which was having some potent effects upon my consciousness. I remember staring into a mirror and seeing different faces inside my own—it was in the reflection of my eyes where the magic took place. It was like gazing into the eyes of another being. And I was mesmerized by what seemed to be an entity other than myself. The mirror had opened a portal into the realm of the unreal. My face was continuously transforming, becoming the faces of many strange and unfamiliar people. They looked nothing like my own—they appeared to be from another time, perhaps they were the faces of my ancient ancestors. Some expressions were diabolic. There was a presence.
In the back of my mind a tempting desire to eat the rest of the mushroom was growing inside. I contemplated whether or not I should. The desire to go further grew strong.
I ate the rest… it tasted sickening. I had already vomited once. Washing the remains down with water, I put Jimi Hendrix on my record player; the spell was being cast. The last song I remember was “Voodoo Child”; the sound waves coming from the speakers transferred a powerful, throbbing energy into my ears. I felt my being undulating within the violent explosions of Jimi’s guitar. What was I looking for? Death? Very soon, I began to have an allergic reaction. Uncontrollably, I started salivating and spitting into my bathroom sink. I recall sitting naked on the toilet, dripping violently with sweat, watching puddles forming on the bathroom floor. Something horribly wrong was creeping on me. My vision blurred so that I was almost blind. I remember panicking, running downstairs to lock the doors, and grabbing a kitchen rag drenched with cold water to soothe my forehead.
I decided to take a shower because I thought it might cleanse away the madness; I hoped it would keep me from losing my mind. Unfortunately, the shower made things much worse; the hot steam was sickening, and I grew dehydrated. Afterwards, I put clean clothes on.
Things were getting absolutely out of control. My head was spinning, I could hardly see. The horror intensified, inflicting itself upon me with devastating acceleration. I had entered into a complete state of delirium; my whole being was possessed by a terrible madness. It was at this point that I experienced an intuition that I was not going to make it, and yet I was too incoherent to call for help. I felt myself dying.
During these moments, I don’t remember what happened. A period of time elapsed, about an hour or two, which I cannot account for. The next thing I remember is my friend Evan, along with three of his friends, came into my room. They found me under the covers of my soaking bed, with wild staring eyes. Apparently, I was having some kind of revelation. When he approached I jumped out of bed, and began talking to him. My mind was in a phenomenal state of delusion, and I remember saying a few words in which there seemed to be a manifestation of profundity and meaning within each word. The first word I spoke was my older brother’s name, “Nathan”; I believe I was trying to communicate something of severe importance to my brother. Evan actually told me weeks later that I was speaking to him as if he was my brother. I then proceeded to speak the following words (after each word followed a short pause in which there was a breath-taking moment of profound meaning and understanding): “Jesus” (pause, understanding, realization, enlightenment), “Hell” (pause, understanding…), “Infinity” (pause…), “God… Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God…” and I lost consciousness, collapsing in Evan’s arms.
“Infinity”, the true concept of infinity became manifest in my mind. The sound of the word infinity echoed an infinite amount of times, and I understood the limitless fact. It had a spiraling effect in which I was in communication with a higher realm, or being. In other words, a deeper comprehension of the significance and understanding of infinity penetrated me like a lightening bolt. There was a blackness, a nothingness, a light of excruciating understanding exploding beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. As these words were spoken, I was under the impression that others in the room understood them the way I did, or at least something other than myself, a presence was aware and sharing my experience. I think perhaps I was experiencing something that occurs after you die, an experience outside of Time, in which a single moment is eternal, infinite.
The last word I said was “God”. And then I realized something terrifying, and as I was realizing this I suddenly became aware of death—that I was dying. I began saying, “ Oh my God” over and over again. With each “Oh my God”, I became more aware of something completely horrifying, yet essential to the meaning of existence. The mystery of life and death was unraveling and being revealed to me. And I continued to gasp: “ Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God…” and I knew I was dying. There was no way out. To the others I was simply losing it, going mad. There was no way for them to understand the profundity of my realizations.
It was like being in two worlds at once: the world of the living and the other world. Evan and the others existed in the world of the living, where my physical body was included among them. However, the words I was speaking probably didn’t make any sense to them, and the world in which my words echoed and blossomed into the most essential realizations of truth, they were unaware of. The realm I encountered was overwhelmingly breathtaking; it was like waking up inside the blinding light of God. A presence so powerful, so brilliant, so extraordinary, that it still makes me shudder to remember. I encountered something eternal during those moments, something much deeper than we experience in our everyday lives, a timeless moment, an encounter with the eternal Ground of all Being.
When I awoke in the ICU two days later I was filled with an overwhelming sensation of still being alive. Waves of emotion palpitated through my body as tears streamed down my face and I made eye contact with my father and mother. I cried for some time. Unable to speak because a device was inserted into my lungs helping me breathe, the nurse gave me a notepad to write something. In tears, and unbelieving I had survived, I scribbled the words I had spoken before losing consciousness: Hell, Infinity. God… they were still fresh in my awareness. I was alive.