The Essential Psychedelic Guide by D. M. Turner

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Ketamine

The Ultimate Psychedelic Journey

INTENSITY: 10 - Infinity

MATERIAL:

Ketamine is a general anesthetic manufactured by Parke Davis and marketed as Ketalar. It is also distributed by several smaller pharmaceutical companies. The Parke Davis Ketamine comes in a multi-use sealed vial, generally containing 500 mg. Ketamine is also used as veterinarian anesthetic, and occasionally it is sold in powder form on the underground market (where it is often called Special K or just K).

HISTORY:

Ketamine is used clinically as a general anesthetic. It is considered a "gentle" anesthetic and is often given to children and elderly people. Its psychedelic characteristics were discovered after a large number of recipients reported "reemergence" experiences while coming out of the anesthesia. Further experiments showed that a dose much smaller than the anesthetic dose produces a psychedelic experience of incredible intensity.

DOSAGE and ADMINISTRATION:

A 100 mg. dose of Ketamine taken intramuscularly will produce an intense psychedelic experience. The exact dose required will vary with body weight and mental state. Ketamine can also be administered by snorting. One must pour the liquid out on a glass tray and set in an oven at 200 degrees F until the liquid has evaporated. The remaining powder can then be scraped off and snorted.

Many people are understandably afraid of needles, but Ketamine is much safer than "street drugs". Ketamine comes in a sealed pharmaceutical vial and does not contain the impurities often found in "street drugs." Ketamine is routinely administered at a much higher dosage as a clinical anesthetic, and is considered a safe and gentle anesthetic, therefore there is little risk of an overdose. Ketamine is normally taken intramuscularly rather than intravenously. The psychedelic self-experimenter John C. Lilly injected Ketamine in himself 24 times a day for several consecutive months without significant difficulties (see John C. Lilly's - The Scientist). By all means anyone injecting any substance should use only a new, sealed hypodermic syringe and never share with even a close friend. The risk of contracting a disease like AIDS is by far the greatest risk in using a needle. I feel that the Ketamine experience was worth overcoming my fear of needles, although many who have wanted to try Ketamine but can't overcome this fear have snorted it for a less intense experience.

THE HIGH:

Ketamine is the most intense, bizarre, and enjoyable psychedelic I've tried, and this perception is common among the people I know who've used it. The Ketamine high comes on about two minutes after injecting. One should be lying down or reclining at this time, because on a regular psychedelic dose they will be unconscious of their body shortly after this.

Ketamine can be taken in various dosages. A smaller dose will allow one to maintain some sense of identity, memory, and ability to perceive and interact with their physical surroundings. I find that a 10 to 20 mg. dose puts me in a non-psychedelic, disassociative altered state. 50 mg. does little for me psychedelically, putting me in some semi-conscious halfway zone. 75 to 125 mg. will produce the highly desirable Ketamine trip. For the effects of very large doses see the writings of John C. Lilly. I tend towards unconsciousness with too large a dose. The experience I will describe here is for the average psychedelic dose of approximately 100 mg. taken intramuscularly. I've heard reports of people who snort small amounts of Ketamine while at dance clubs. However, the experience produced by this is not even remotely similar to what I've described below.

As the high is coming on there is a break in the continuity of consciousness. Soon after this point I find myself in a swirling psychedelic universe. There is no concept that I am currently high on a drug that I'm going to come down from. Frequently there is no recollection of ever having been myself, been born, had a personality or body, or even known of planet earth. The experience is one of being in total orgasm with the universe. I feel like I'm in hyperspace, simultaneously connected to all things. Billions of images and perceptions are simultaneously flowing through my circuits. I am not bound into three dimensions. In the fourth dimension of time I am not locked into the current moment. I experience backwards and forwards in time as well, with the current moment being the center of intensity. On my first Ketamine experience there was a non-verbal feeling that my entire life up to that point had been preparation, particularly my other psychedelic experiences, and taking Ketamine was like pressing the GO button. It felt as though there had been a major and permanent shift in the "fabric of reality," or the mode in which I perceived the universe. It felt as though the states of mind I had broken through to in previous psychedelic peaks had become the base reality. And this new reality felt better than I'd ever anticipated it could be. My past psychedelic experiences taught me how to release and flow within this type of world. On a Ketamine experience I do not need to "do" anything. Once administered, the experience simply happens. Sometimes I feel like a single atom or point of consciousness adrift in a swirling vortex of energies, like a single cell within a being of galactic proportions. This feeling may shift and I then become the center point through which all these energies pass. The experience is of titanic proportions in the merging of energy, intent, and awareness, yet lucidly articulated to the minutes' spiraling details. All the while I feel very relaxed and at home in this universe. Even though any supports of reality, identity, or stability are being dissolved at the speed of light, I do not experience any fear, as if the one who would experience fear at losing these things is not a part of me. As the waves of experience pass through me I feel a bit like a kid on a rollercoaster. Although he's about to have an exhilarating experience while going over a hill, deeper in his mind he's confident that the rollercoaster will stay on its tracks.

Some 30 minutes to an hour into the experience I come to an apex. At this point I have felt that my will determines whether or not I exist, and whether or not the universe exists. And I could toggle between existence and non-existence many times within a second. I've even had the impression that I could cause the universe (which is quite fluid in the moment) to crystallize in whatever format I desired although I haven't had the impetus to actually try this.

After this comes the return to regular consciousness, which begins with one perception out of each million seeming like it's within my familiar perceptual structure. These "personal perceptions" increase in frequency, one every 100,000, one every 10,000. Soon I remember my previous identity. I've never felt this moment as disappointing, as I frequently feel when coming down from ecstasy. When I realize I'm coming back it feels more novel like "Wow, I'm coming back, I wonder what life is going to be like after this experience." Although there is a feeling that the ride's almost over this part of the experience is quite interesting, with part of my mind still running circles around the cosmos, and another part reintegrating with my identity. Often I experience the return portion of the Ketamine Journey as an alien rebirth experience. Upon returning to the body, visuals will continue for a while with eyes opened. These can be quite spectacular and hallucinatory, and bear more resemblance to DMT visuals than other psychedelic visuals.

45 minutes to an hour after injecting the Ketamine I'm back though there remain some strange bodily sensations. I tend to feel light (anti-gravity), slightly dizzy, have poor motor coordination, and a bit nauseous if I move around. For a couple of hours after the experience I find it best to just relax, lay in bed, listen to music, etc. until the recovery period has passed.

One problem I find with Ketamine is that the experience is difficult to bring back and reintegrate with routine reality. Memory of the experience is even difficult. Within hours after coming back, 99% of the experience is inaccessible to my current conscious mind. The Ketamme experience is so bizarre and otherworldly that a normal mind can't even conceive of experiencing in this manner. It feels as though some part of the mind protectively closes off access to the dimensions experienced on Ketamine. I've recently found a method that is proving effective at solving this problem. This is to take Ketamine while already high on 2C-B. This seems to provide a "bridge" between the ego or identity, and a state that is ego-less and without limitations.

I've observed a fairly mixed response in others I know who have tried Ketamine. It seems that people either love it, and think it's the greatest stuff in the universe, or feel uninspired by it. From speaking with numerous people who've tried it, it's clear that most have had experiences similar to what I've described, while others describe much less fascinating results. After taking Ketamine some 100 times I've noticed that it's fairly easy to miss the mark, and wind up with an experience that is nothing like what I've described above.

The main trick to hitting the mark with a Ketamine trip is taking the correct dose. Too small an amount will not obliterate one's self-awareness, and will fail to admit one into the realm of pure awareness. Too much will bring one towards unconsciousness, giving one the vaguest impressions of having traveled somewhere. Many have had successful journeys by starting with 75 mg., and increasing the dose by 15 mg. on each separate occasion until the desired experience is reached. If one takes Ketamine while already high on a psychedelic, such as 2C-B or LSD, the "dosage window" for achieving a spectacular Ketamine journey is significantly wider.

Another important factor in the quality of the Ketamine experience is one's "set" or personality. Dr. Igor Kungurtsev, a Russian psychiatrist, was involved in administering an experiment treating alcoholics with Ketamine. An article on his work was published in the Fall 1991 issue of The Albert Hoffman Foundation Bulletin. One of his findings was "the correlation between the type of personality and the type of experience under the influence of Ketamine. People who are very controlled and have difficulties letting go, or who have problems with relationships, often have negative experiences with Ketamine. For them the dissolving of the individual self is horrible. For other patients who are more relaxed and able to surrender, who have a deep capacity to love, the experience is usually blissful, even ecstatic."

Kungurtsev also found that Ketamine produced spiritual experiences, as well as long term changes in the spiritual outlook, of most of those who tried it. "It is interesting that many people who never thought about spirituality or the meaning of life reported having experiences that one might read about only in spiritual texts or Eastern teachings... For many patients it is a profound insight that they can exist without their bodies as pure consciousness or pure spirit. Many of them said that as a result of their experience, they understood the Christian notion of the separation of the soul and the body, and that they now believe some part of them will continue to exist after death. There were several cases where people reported contact with God, but this is usually not an anthropomorphic figure. They describe an ocean of brilliant white light, which is filled with love, bliss, and energy."

SAFETY FACTORS:

Ketamine is extremely different than other psychedelics when it comes to safe use. Since injection is usually involved, the purity of one's material, and safe use of needles is paramount. Equally important is that one not undertake any bodily activity that could be dangerous while on Ketamine. A psychedelic dose of Ketamine moves one towards a state of unconsciousness where a surgeon could operate on them. The normal reaction abilities that prevent us from accidents and death are suspended while on Ketamine. When I take Ketamine I'm always lying down, and do not get up until the tail end of the experience. Even for a few hours afterwards I will not go outdoors where potentially lethal traffic is passing by. However, for people who do not "program" themselves to spend the Ketamine experience in a comatose state, it may be possible to get up and walk around while quite high.

One of the safest methods of taking Ketamine is to have a friend or "sitter" present when one takes it. Since I frequently take Ketamine while alone, I take precautions such as extinguishing all candles in my room. Were I to accidentally knock over a candle and start a fire, I probably would not have the presence of mind required to extinguish the fire or move myself to safety.

A major concern regarding safe use of Ketamine is its very high potential for psychological addiction. A fairly large percentage of those who try Ketamine will consume it non-stop until their supply is exhausted. I've seen this in friends I've known for many years who are regular psychedelic users and have never before had problems controlling their drug consumption. And I've seen the lives of several people who developed an addiction to Ketamine take downward turns.

After about two years of once-per-week Ketamine use I even found that I had developed an addiction. Although it was less severe than what I've described above, it took considerable effort to break the cycle of repeatedly using it, even though I was aware of detrimental effects that it was causing. Since that time I've used Ketamine only occasionally, but find that I must continually exercise a high degree of will power to prevent myself from falling into a pattern of regular use. Amongst those I know who use Ketamine, I've seen very few who can use it in a balanced manner if they have access to it.

One of the most remarkable things I experienced in becoming aware of and breaking my Ketamine addiction was the intervention of the tryptamine drugs, psilocybin and N,N-DMT. The DMT provided insights into the negative effects Ketamine was having on my life: a reduction in ambition; a reduction in healthy mortal fears, such as the fear of death; as well as a reluctance to confront fears or difficult tasks and situations directly. Frequent use of Ketamine can lure one as an escape since a blissful and fantastic state of fearless, disembodied consciousness is so easily available.

In my early expirimentation, when combining Ketamine with psilocybin I normally had good experiences and virtually bypassed the bodily discomfort of the recovery period. However, while I was addicted to Ketamine I could no longer have a good mushroom trip if I planned to take Ketamine during the experience. I remember one experience where the visuals were complete static, and after taking the Ketamine I returned in a lethargic, uncoordinated, low-energy state. This was a complete contrast to my previous experiences with this combination. During these times DMT proved to be a strong ally, teaching me to be a dragon, and offering encouraging glimpses of what my experiences could be like if I defeated the addiction.

Another factor to be aware of when using Ketamine is that much of the life energy, known as Chi or Kundalini, departs the body during the journey, normally returning along with one's awareness. While I've often experienced a wakening of this Chi energy as it reenters my body, with less care and indiscriminate use I've returned to find my body drained of this force. It is not uncommon to feel slightly drained of energy or lackadaisical after a K trip.

COMBINATIONS:

Ketamine can be combined with most other psychedelics. However, after much experimentation I've decided against using it with any natural psychedelics. While I did have some positive experiences with such combinations early on, eventually I began seeing many negative effects, and felt that it was inappropriate, or at least that I was not ready, to combine substances of these types.

It seems as though the "entities" of the natural psychedelic realms are adverse to having their realms polluted by people combining them with K. I also feel these entities frown on excessive or indiscriminate use of Ketamine by itself.

The reversal in my experience of combining Ketamine with psilocybin was one factor that has led to my current position. But the most intense message came when I tried combining Ketamine with mescaline. When one takes a natural psychedelic like mescaline, they often come into contact with age-old entities of that realm. With mescaline I find that I become a branch of a living entity, often called "Mescalito," who has existed at least since humans first ingested psychoactive cacti. Mescalito can be viewed as being a conglomeration of the experiences of all mescaline users. It feels as though when taking mescaline I become an "eye" of Mescalito, and that he experiences through me. Mescalito has experienced much during his 3000+ year life time. However, my introducing him to a powerful synthetic anesthetic/psychedelic left him shocked, stunned, and confused. It was a serious insult on my part to force this experience on Mescalito, especially since omens were telling me I should not do it.

I've found Ketamine to combine best with 2C-B This produces an enhanced K journey as well as reducing the negative effects during the recovery period. Limited experimentation with some rare synthetic phenethylamines, including 2CT7, 2CT2, and DOB, have also produced good results. I find no enhancement of the K journey when combining it with ecstasy, however, this does reduce the discomfort of the recovery period. Combining K with LSD produces an enhanced K journey, however the recovery period can be a serious drag.

See the Multiple Combinations chapter.

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