As I´ve mentioned before, I had a very special guest over at my house a few weeks ago, as well as another special visitor who joined us later on. Yes, everyone´s favorite anime crossover actually happened. What did we do when we met up? I showed my guest around town and took him into the forests I have grown so fond of ever since I moved to this small Dutch town. Unfortunately, the forests were suffering from a severe drought, but this drought has hopefully come to an end now, as we have finally had some rain yesterday. Of course, nobody will be very surprised to hear my guest was offered some psychedelics too. A Leprechaun jumped through my chimney and offered him a choice between LSD and a big Peruvian torch, one of the many different mescaline cactuses out there. My guest chose LSD and the Leprechaun disappeared in a puff of smoke again. I didn´t take the LSD myself, because I´m slightly hesitant when it comes to everything synthetic out there, but me and my guest had a good time out in the forest.
This left yours sincerely with a big Peruvian torch, impatiently waiting in my closet until it could enter my stomach. Yesterday I finally saw an opportunity to give the cactus a try. Rain had fallen and led to a sudden drop in temperatures, freeing me from the scorching heat that made me hesitant to give my spiny friend a tour of my intestines. Everyone seems to have his own method for ingestion. The method I used is as following: To start with, I removed the needles a week in advance and cut the cactus into pieces. I then put the pieces into my freezer. Yesterday I made some strong ginger tea, with lemon and mint. I drank some of the tea in advance, ate the cactus, then drank more of the tea.
What followed was an immensely intense experience. The effects of the cactus lasted fifteen hours, with some minor effects lingering for another three hours afterwards. The cactus was stronger than I had anticipated, but I overall consider the experience a positive one. Why was it so much stronger than I had anticipated? There are two main reasons. To start with, I ate the white part of the cactus, in addition to the green part. Most people claim the cactus tastes disgusting, but for me it was fine, it resembled a bitter cucumber more than anything. Estimates are the white core of the cactus contains two thirds of the active alkaloids, so my dose would have been higher than for most people who take this cactus. In addition, the Ginger tea I made suppresses nausea. This has two effects. To start with, by not vomiting, I expose myself to more of the active substance. Finally, the Ginger binds to the 5HT3 receptors where Mescaline and other alkaloids normally trigger nausea, leaving those alkaloids free to bind to other serotonin receptors in your body. The cactus I had would probably have been better suited for two people, when consumed through the method I use.
Why would you do these sorts of crazy things? Why would I tacitly encourage others to do such things? Well, to start with, it´s simply fun. It´s fun in the same way as climbing a mountain or jumping from an airplane is fun. As you jump out of the airplane you feel afraid and wonder why you ever exposed yourself to this insanity. Then as the initial shock wears off, you begin to remember why you felt like trying it. As you notice that you´re going to be alright, you feel a sense of amusement. Then as the effects start to wear off, you look back at the experience as a positive and healing one, but probably not one you´re going to try again anytime soon.applies
The second reason I encourage this sort of stuff, is because it´s simply good for you. An average young man who occasionally takes psychedelics will be in better mental shape than he would be if he never takes psychedelics. This applies for Mescaline cacti too. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability today, affecting 330 million people worldwide. At this point, we have a good collection of systematic scientific research, demonstrating that occasionally taking psychedelics leads to improved mental health. Is there a chance that I might be one of those people you hear about on the news every once in a while, who jump out of the window of their Amsterdam hotel room after eating too many mushrooms? I´m sure the risk exists.
There´s a much bigger risk I´m afraid of however: Becoming depressed, or losing my cognitive potential in another manner, perhaps by becoming a religious fundamentalist who thinks he should live his life in accordance to the rules of archaic institutes that have brought us nothing other than generations of misery. These are the sort of risks that really frighten me. Abstaining from taking psychedelics throughout your life increases your risk of falling victim to such conditions. I have acquaintances, who are too depressed to simply go out and show up to play board games with their friends. Those are the sort of risks that do frighten me.
Scientific studies have shown that Psilocybe mushrooms work better for treatment resistant depression than any other therapy we´re familiar with. Based on the evidence we have, any lifetime exposure to psychedelics is associated with a 60% reduced risk of suicidality in Canadian sex workers. In contrast, when it comes to the conventional medical arsenal, we still don´t know for sure whether SSRIs beat a simple placebo. These substances peddled by the pharmaceutical industry take weeks before having an effect and once the user stops taking them, their mental health takes a rapid plunge, below their original baseline. The stereotypical school shooter is a kid who was on SSRIs but stopped taking them a few weeks before carrying out his massacre.
When it comes to me personally, I´m not depressed or suicidal. I am however, feeling angry and frustrated. This anger and frustration comes from seeing all sorts of things around me that don´t function well and having no ability to address them. Why are we spending 0.3% of the world´s electricity on a payment protocol that doesn´t function properly? Why don´t we treat severely depressed people with psychedelics? Why do we harvest fish in the ocean with bottom trawlers, only to then feed the fish as animal fodder to factory farm animals, animals that are in turn consumed by people who would be healthier and happier if they ate more vegetables and less of these animals? To be interested in the world around you, means running into continual frustration.
However, it’s important to understand the circumstances we live in. Being worried about climate change and similar issues if you’re not a politician or a billionaire is a bit like being a monkey in a cage who feels guilty when the Titanic crashes into the iceberg he already saw up ahead. If your lot in life turned you into a monkey in a cage, your primary responsibility is to get yourself out of the cage first. Nobody listens to a monkey in a cage and you can’t turn the steering wheel yourself if you’re stuck in the cage. Even in my own line of work I feel effectively powerless, because the policy decisions made by the owners of the company prohibit me from carrying out my job effectively, as most of us on the workfloor have come to comprehend by now.
Factors outside of our control turned us into monkeys in cages. If we wore human clothing and demonstrated a willingness to steer the Titanic directly into oncoming icebergs, we might be released from our cages and promoted to helmsman of the ship. This is something that has to be understood: Seemingly unnecessary destruction and misery is to some degree intrinsic to our way of life. Attempting to address that misery and destruction has the effect of marginalizing you. An American president who wants to ¨splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds¨ ends up murdered in broad daylight. A Bitcoin developer who wants to reduce the electricity consumption of Bitcoin would be marginalized. A politician who wanted to implement effective carbon taxes wouldn´t be reelected. The people who run our society, run our society because they have the kind of personality that leaves them perfectly comfortable carrying out dumb policies.
When it comes to my Peruvian torch adventure, I think I have learned to make peace with the stupidity that surrounds us and the finality of everything. Everything around us goes through cycles of birth, death and eventual rebirth. I don´t think we live on the only planet where tool-using bipeds abolished the ecological conditions that gave birth to them through a failure to reign in their own greed. In fact, I´d say our current mistakes probably go a long way when it comes to explaining the Fermi paradox: The kind of animals who maintain ecological stability of their planet don´t have the degree of resource consumption that allows them to demonstrate their existence to the rest of the universe for very long.
For me personally, I have come to the conclusion that my first priority will have to be to liberate myself from the cage I was born into. I believe I am able to do so, in a manner that rhymes with my goals and ambitions in life. As an example, I can short sell energy-intense unsustainable speculative bubbles. By doing so, I accelerate their demise and thereby reduce the eventual carbon footprint of the endeavor. Simultaneously, I can invest the proceeds in projects I do consider worthwhile. When I focus my energy and attention on the things I can do, an interesting side-effect occurs: The range of things I can do begins to expand, until eventually I wake up one day and realize the cage I was born into is nowhere to be seen.