NOW SERVING Psychedelic Culture

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The following is excerpted from The Hermit: Enlightenment from the Gutter by Gabriel D Roberts, published by Rubedo Press. 

 

 

Clear golden light
from the source.
Good fortune.
I-Ching, hexagram 30, line 2

The sun began to set as I descended from the hills into the great expanse of the Los Angeles area. That flat, overpopulated, piece-of shit city never looked so good. I made my way to Pasadena, where my friends Albert and Macy awaited my arrival. When I got there, I received a king’s welcome. I walked in and greeted their kitten who had grown much bigger than last time I saw him, gave Macy a hug, and handed Albert a hash ball the size of a large marble. His eyes turned big and he smiled like a Cheshire cat as he hurriedly grabbed his smoking equipment. I told him about the strain of weed I had been working with, how it was soothing and soft rather than the normal buzzing and frenetic high that so many other strains delivered. He took a hit and smiled in agreement. I had the good shit. We spent the remainder of the evening drinking wine and smoking my fine variety of ganja and I shared my tales from the road. When I mentioned that I had some LSD, they both agreed that we all should do it together. So we decided to go to a Huntington Gardens in Pasadena where we could roam and explore and feel confident that we might do this without too much trouble from others.

The next day came and we were all filled with the nervous excitement that comes before almost any psychedelic event. I might have been the most nervous since I had never done LSD before and was concerned about the length of time that it lasted. Sure, I had been on many trips that are reportedly much more intense than acid, but one must never approach an experience like this with terse erudition unless one is willing to get a psychic reprimand from the forces that seem to work within the psychedelic realm.

We left the house around eleven AM and got bagels from a local shop. After we had eaten, we each took two hits of the acid and I saved two more for later. I had assumed that it would take a while to kick in, as mushrooms normally do, but I almost instantly felt different. As we drove, we reassured each other we would be kind above all things and never fuck with each other while we were high. We said our “I love yous” and found parking outside of the park. It was by this time that I began to feel strange and euphoric. Sounds began to take on a different life, color began to twist and brighten. The very first clear indication of a change in awareness came as I followed Macy along the path that led us into the park. She stepped in a puddle that had formed from the sprinklers watering the grass and as it splashed it became the only thing I noticed, but it was strange and wonderful. Instead of just a splash, it was the primordial birth, an echo of a bigger bang, the cry of a baby ocean, and the song of water.

A soft, but tenuous suspicion arose over me as we passed a lurching, aged security guard whose sickly coiffed grey hair and oversized clothing lent to the idea that he was both mischievous and villainously looking for those who might try to Scooby Doo their way into his park for acid fueled hijinx. We had all been in enough situations collectively to approach this kind of suspicion with grace and psychonautical confidence, leaving this towering lackluster man in blue unaware of our inner workings. When we made our way to the admissions gate we were beset on all sides by white and purple haired elderly rich women, affluent Asian mothers, and overly tanned out of shape Pasadenians. The park was essentially a zoo with out any animals, expansive and confusing, but also full of intrigue.

There is little mystery in how I looked, following Albert and Macy like a puppy with a cartoonish grin that I had already begun to battle as we slinked into the vast park. As if running in an obstacle course, we were confronted by yet another daunting task, which was to accept a park map from a chatty man just past the entrance. He began to speak with Albert about where to go and what to do and so on, but what really interested me was the fact that I could hear the five conversations going on with anyone in earshot and could articulate the goings on of all of them. It was as if I had become momentarily omnipresent and capable of superhuman perception. This to me was far more interesting than the burdensome conversation of locations of things that Albert was forced to engage in with the chatty fellow. As we finally broke free I giggled to myself and told Albert and Macy about what I had been experiencing. “Oh yeah, it’s pretty wild!” Albert replied as if it were as common to him as peeling a banana, or making coffee. Macy, like myself was a newcomer to LSD and so we took a certain amount of kinship in that notion of exploring the unknown together.

We made our way through a path along a wooded area, but in the periphery I could hear the whooshing of exercise pants behind me. I tried to ignore it, but had to look and saw a small Asian woman with a sun visor and oversized glasses making her way along a parallel path. Again, I could not help but think that perhaps she was some sort of alien observer who was monitoring our progress as we Forest Gump’d our way through the pathway. For one reason or another, there was an inordinate amount of Asian people there that day. I say this with no malice, but there is a certain way that some behave that has a sort of sneakiness about it. A run is never a run, but more of a walk that is not totally committed to running. A walk is never just a walk, but a meticulously observed scissor- like execution of leg movement that takes one purposefully from one objective to the next. The camera-clad curiosity with which many of those there carried themselves filled me with a dread of discovery, like I would be found out and properly documented with all of those cameras. I did my best not to make broad-stroked characterizations like this, but I could not help but notice this tendency as I goofily capered behind Albert and Macy.

We settled in a big open field and enjoyed the sunshine and people watching. We saw a feature in the grass where a spiral had been formed with raised grassy knolls and fancied that we might lay in the ruts, but to our disappointment the ruts were a point of attraction for thousands of gnats which swarmed overhead. Considering our mental state, these gnats took on a special significance; their dancing and swarming had rhythm and a method, which made them more like dancing molecules than tiny creatures. The heightened edge detection that psychedelics provided made this beyond High Definition to almost a trans dimensional degree. Even so, they were disgusting and might make us prone to some hallucinatory freak out that none of us were interested in trying out, so we opted for a bench at the edge of the field where we could be ridiculous with little interruption or suspicion of tripping.

We sat and lay there on a blanket watching the grass and looking at one another as if we had never seen a human so beautiful. Albert’s black full beard grew from his face like the regal roots of an ancient tree, while his oversized smile reassured of safety. Between the three of us, there was this sense of absolute love and solidarity; almost like a force field that protected us from the rank and obscenely jejune world that bombarded us daily with its sullen tones and fragrant permeation of bullshit. As I looked at Macy, her eyes seemed to glow with a holy light that filled the open air with an azure radiance that aped the magnificence of a clear Mediterranean sea. She was and is always beautiful, but in that time and space, I understood what holy feminine radiance was, so far beyond sexuality and brute attraction that it filled me with a sense of divine awe. This again mirrored the radiance that Albert in all of his manly prowess and grace had exuded in that time and space.

We lay there observing the surroundings and the nonsensical seriousness with which we approach the everyday world. Our daily life gone on unnoticed and unobserved became a laughable festival of idiocy, blind consumerism and hollow faith, while we little laughing Buddhas took a judgment-free respite from these hang ups and enjoyed the nonsense for what it really was. For that couple of hours, we became detached from the intoxicating delusion of what we were normally convinced was “real”.

Off in the distance, I observed a woman pushing a baby in its carriage. She stopped and ornately laid out the blanket onto the perfect grass and pulled the baby from its holster. I couldn’t help but be fascinated, as she appeared to fold the helpless creature into the grass, as if the grass itself could be wrapped around to swaddle the little fat-faced human larvae. It was then that I mused out loud how the baby felt at that moment, being helplessly plunged from the comfort of the rolling anti-coffin and left to flail vigorously in the open field while mother ruthlessly took photos of it. I could only imagine how she felt and what she was thinking, “Oh I am going to send these photos to everyone and they will love the baby and will love me! They will congratulate me for having received sperm and nine months later producing this new creature!” I tried to whisper these thoughts as they came and narrated these ideas to Albert and Macy who both were unsuccessfully trying to withhold giggles and short outbursts of horror that we might be overheard and found out as balls trippers. On the periphery, the visored whooshing lady walked by again.

Without warning Macy blurted out, “Eww,this grass looks really dead!” Albert and I looked at the grass and looked at each other, seeing the lush surroundings and considered that maybe Macy had a stronger dose than us. Albert gently reassured her that it was beautiful and that maybe we should take a look around. At this point, standing up, looking at people, speaking, holding hands, not holding hands, or virtually any action we could perform might be suspect. I can only be utterly thankful that Albert and Macy would so graciously come with me, this giant goofball that I had further become under the influence of Hofmann’s mystic elixir. It seemed that nothing I could do or say would be perceived as normal, but I did my best to hold it together. This was easier said than done.

As we explored the grounds we came across a pond with lilypads, water-bound flowers, and an abundance of koi fish. These fish were quite large, the biggest ones reaching about a foot and a half in size. As we approached the pond the koi came to the edge and extended their heads out of the water, no doubt hoping that we had food to throw at them, but what I saw was absolutely shocking. These fish seemed to cry out to me as if they were humans trapped in the bodies of fish. Their flesh took on a human tone as the heavenly whites and too orange for oranges swirled over their bodies as they shimmered and writhed at the water’s edge. Their mouths extended out like a mute fool’s hand begging for money, for food, for mercy. It was then that I felt that I myself was no different from those fish as they wriggled desperately for something that they did not even know of, or understand, they only knew that they wanted it and it seemed ever out of their reach. I was the reach of their mouths, their destitution of meaning, the limbless, rubber reactionary spasms, mindless and hungry, fumbling in the void, grasping for the ineffable. This was that mad feeling I had so strongly felt when I first left LA, now dancing before me as a swarm of desperate fish. I revealed my insight into these humanoid fish to Albert and Macy, but my description was too much for Macy, and she begged us to move on.

 

We came to a small bamboo forest full of dense, tall shoots in the deepest of greens. Walking along the path in the bamboo forest felt wonderful, mystical, and soothing as the color and cool air of the shade calmed us. As I came around a corner in the path I looked and saw a giant statue of a baby and exclaimed without warming, “You guys, there’s a giant fucking baby at the water’s edge!” Macy laughed and gave an Oh my God as she and Albert turned the corner to investigate my claim. Just as I had said, there was a giant statue of a baby at the water’s edge. We all burst into laughter at the ridiculousness of somebody being commissioned thousands of dollars to make that baby statue and feature it here in this people zoo that we found ourselves in. We laughed hysterically for a moment before trying to calm ourselves enough to make it to the bathroom.

The bathrooms were across a clearing and we felt a bit like deer in the wild, unsure of the presence of predators, but we all gave each other a pep talk and began to make our way across the field. There were two bathrooms and so Albert and Macy went first, leaving me to my own devices in the field. As I sat there, the visor-clad Asian woman whooshed across a nearby path, and I dared not look right at her lest she stop and stare voiceless at me. I sat there giggling to myself trying to not look suspect, but it was futile. I was wearing a black sweater in seventy-degree heat and was sweating profusely, red faced and gleeful. After what seemed a torturous eternity Albert and Macy reemerged from their respective potty dens and reported their findings. “The blow dryer is terrifying in there!

Just wipe your hands on your clothes after you wash them!” Macy exclaimed. Just then, as I approached, a female groundskeeper pulled up on a four-wheeler and tended to one of the bathrooms. It now left me with the foreboding realization that whatever I did in that bathroom would be closely monitored and heard by this would-be assassin.

I walked in as cool a manner as I could muster, being oafish and sweaty, opening and closing the door in a mechanical fashion. I made my way to the urinal and went pee, trying not to look at anything in particular since having my genitals exposed in this condition added to my sense of vulnerability. I didn’t flush, fearing the roar, but washed my hands and walked out with a secretive and hurried walk. Albert and Macy stood there smiling and giggling. I was highly giggly as well and was having trouble taking in everything that I was receiving without commentary, or overt expression of wonder.

Albert led us around the corner to the southwestern garden that featured innumerable cacti of all varieties. It was as if we had been thrust into an alien landscape. There were many people there, which especially put Macy on high alert. She doted upon my every action, warning me not to touch the cacti, but I couldn’t help it. These living creatures that stood still were like squid that lived on land. These pokey and spindled beings were cephalopods that you could touch and observe for long periods of time. My nonsense was becoming too much though, and the place was just too exquisite for me to handle without outbursts of wonder and amazement.

As we made our way out of the cactus garden, a water fountain beckoned me, but it was close to several groups of Asians taking pictures of cacti and sage and talking boisterously. As I approached the water fountain, I had that all-too-common stoner thought of “I have to look like I’m not high and it’s funny that I’m high and maybe people don’t know it but I’ve got to play it cool, but fuck, I’m going to burst into laughter, oh god don’t burst into laughter keep it cool, man!” Albert and Macy had gone on autopilot and were making their way back to the field without noticing that I was stuck trying to sneak my way to the fountain unnoticed by the throng of Asian camera people. I took one drink and then two and then tried to fill my mouth with water so I could escape like a hungry seagull from the potential dangers that surrounded me, but the thought was too humorous to me and I spat out the water and burst into tearful laughter in front of the throng, who looked at me in that perplexed and astonished way that only a group of camera-clad Asians might. I ran like a child who had shit himself to Albert and Macy, who both covered their faces in laugh-filled horror at the spectacle I had just created. It was after this that it became painfully clear that we needed to return to the safety of our home base at the edge of the large field in which we had settled previously if we were to remain in the park without further incident.

We had made it back unscathed from the water fountain debacle and just looked around. I laid myself down on the blanket on the grass and closed my eyes in silence. It was then that a moment I had been desperately waiting for finally came. With my eyes closed and the sun beating through my eyelids, the red glow of sunlight fell like love upon me and filled me from head to toe with spectral warmth that perhaps only the womb had given me before. A plural telepathic voice, quiet and feminine spoke to me.

“Gabriel, we brought you here so that you would get here. We told you to come to the wilderness and gave you this hunger so that you would come. If we had not given you the call and the hunger, you would not have ever gotten where you want to be, where you are destined to be. Do you understand? Did you think that this quest would end after forty days with a dimensional portal opening and you escaping this plane of existence? You did, we know. We know that you desire the other, you desire us, but we are not as you are and you are not ready for us, but you are going as we have called you and we will be with you and have never been far from you since the day you were born. This is only the beginning, not an end”.

I understood. I knew that the visions I had last year that called me to spend forty days in the wilderness were real, that this kind of prophetic calling was real. For here I was on the other side of forty days in the wilds of Northern California a new man, a different one. That is, not to say perfected, but better, stronger, and keener to the voice of that divine wisdom that lives in the place between sleep and waking, coitus and death, meditation and psychedelic vision. That collective spoke to me as one voice, as the Gnostic Sophia, as Green Tara, one and the same. And there lying in this living euphoria, this Pauline vision of the divine, the blood vessels and flesh made an impossible hybrid vision of stained glass made of my own flesh and blood. It was what theologians traditionally refer to as a theophany, but in feminine guise. I had received another kind of sight, one that had nothing to do with physical vision, but that of the visionary.

The grass rose and fell like the earth was breathing in and out. The softness beneath me was like an earthen bed, supple and natural. As we observed the trees they waved at us like a thousand women doing Tai Chi in unison, and all of creation sang the song of wind and the danced the dance of trees, flowers, and birds. We were breathlessly in awe as we clamored and explored under that clear deep blue sky. As we made our way to the exit we passed a bridge and a waterfall. It astounded me with beauty and I called to Albert and Macy to stop with me there. “Do you hear it guys? The waterfall is speaking with legion tongues with a message from space”. We all stood transfixed at the audio-visual miracle that endlessly unfolded before us as if it were the answer to everything.

We walked across another field and I looked to Albert and Macy walking in the honey golden sun, the scientist and his starlet, arms across each other’s shoulders as they walked. The miracle of love and beauty that exploded from them was so strong it blinded my loneliness. Its ample brilliance blotted out my sins of love and gave me a glimpse of what is, could be, and might be again. In a way, that moment might have been all I really needed to see in this life to have hope.

We successfully made it out of the park and a wave of relief and accomplishment swept over us, only to be followed by a new concern, especially on Macy’s behalf. “Albert, are you okay to drive like this?” Albert replied with a Dawkinsian level of certitude, “Babe, I’ve done this a million times. I could drive on acid with my eyes closed!” I could tell this didn’t reassure her, but she literally went along for the ride. We were nearing the Los Angeles rush hour and the roads were jam-packed with a diaspora of attractions from the invading and mundane world around us. The joke was everywhere, on the faces of the frustrated drivers, the oversized ads for the local gym, the fat fellow in the pink cowboy hat riding along the crosswalk on a BMX; it was all ridiculous and all too normal for everyone but us. Albert drove naturally and we were put to relative ease, till all of the sudden a woman backed her car out of her driveway without looking and at full speed. Albert slammed on his brakes and yelled out, “No, don’t mind me! I’m just tripping on ACID!” After the initial shock of almost being in a wreck, we carried on home and settled down in front of their fireplace.

The LSD came in waves. We thought we were out of the woods, but then it would come back. On those lulls there was this sensation like metal wire was running through my veins and it was as uncomfortable as it sounds. This led Macy to go from waves of quiet pain to joyful exuberance. Being home livened her up and allowed her to express herself without the worry of prying eyes. It was during one of these high tides that she insisted that we all do DMT. I knew that they had some and that they had done it many times before, but it is not a trifle; it is in fact the most astonishing thing I think can be done. The tone of the room grew grim as Albert and I had the sobering realization that we might have to take that big leap, the blast into lightspeed and machine elf mystery. The look on Albert’s face is something I’ll never forget, his eyes big as saucers gazed at the floor as if he had just gotten death-sentence test results.

Macy in an uncharacteristic fit of boldness asked me again if I really wanted to pass up going through it. I couldn’t say no, I wanted to go for it, but I tried my best not to think about it until the time actually came. I went to the bathroom and watched the walls breathe in and out as I had a pee. I washed my hands on the swollen towel that took on the likeness of the carcass of a cookie monster slain and walked to the couch where Macy and Albert had prepared the wax bong. They lit it and put the DMT in, I breathed in as long and deep as I could and held it.

As the LSD and DMT met, they dissolved my body into a hundred-thousand electric bees and with the Snap, Crackle and Pop I was thrust into a giant domed structure the size of a sports stadium. And there in that vast expanse where I was alone the walls and ceiling shimmered with diamonds, rubies, bone, ivory, emeralds, sapphires and every other precious thing in blinding shades of white. Then she arrived in the corner of my mind’s eye, her, she, the Divine Feminine. I yelled out in the physical, “It’s her! It’s her!” She was the one from my first big trip in my Queens apartment, she was the serpent in the center of the earth who called me to the desert; it was HER!

She said to me as she tread across the roof of the dome, “Of course it’s me, dummy! I’m she who dances to keep the world full of splendor”. Without her dancing, all beauty in the universe would disappear and be lost forever. I was not allowed to see her, only the imprint of her foot as it tread, like the wind leaves its imprint on dunes. As she tread across the dome, the roof rained fine jewels like floating feathers, pearls dripping like milk. She had spoken to me earlier in that day, but it was like I was in the Holy of Holies, and she had me as a captive audience in a reality that is more real than any I had ever known. The vision waned and I returned to my LSD state, which was beginning to fade and told Albert and Macy about my experience.

I went to bed glowing from the majestic experience, but feeling the bitter bite of the comedown, which in honesty felt very painful and chemical. The next day I told David Metcalfe and Dr. August about my experiences and was shocked to hear that my experience with the Divine Feminine was a dead ringer for visions of Tara:

 

O Tara white as the autumn moon,

Milk of a hundred lunations

Treasure of Clarity, flowing with Wisdom.

Light of a thousand galaxies.

 

Goddess All-Knowing, Red Kurukulla

Your mantras fill the three realms;

Seven worlds crumble beneath your feet,

Your magic attracts every being.

 

O Goddess Fortuna, dripping with jewels,

Crowned by the bright crescent moon

The primordial Buddha of infinite light

blazes from your high-gathered locks.

 

O Mahashanti, luminous bliss,

From the fields of absolute peace,

By the mantra Svaha and the primordial Om

You dissolve the deepest of fears.

 

Dr. August informed me that visions of Tara involve jewels dripping from her feet. I was absolutely floored that I hadn’t just had some random hallucination, but had quite literally had an encounter with the divine feminine, the resplendent rainbow serpent, the Gnostic Sophia, it was her!

***

Hermit-Front-Cover-Final

The signed, deluxe edition of The Hermit is exclusively available through Rubedo Press:

Hex-Cover

 

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