Originally noded as My First LSD Trip:

The Thursday night in the midsummer of 2002 was the fulfillment of my long-term desire to experiment. The previous Sunday I had been offered this possibility by Mindbender; his friend Wanja (from Germany) would be coming from London and I could join them.

On Thursday afternoon at 5pm we first went punting, it was a lovely weather and of course Wanja wanted the traditional Cambridge experience. Despite my punting background I didn't do any better than the guys, but we had a good time anyways. Which was a useful preparation for the rest of the night.

It was probably closer to 7pm when we got to Mindbender's place. There were six drops of LSD left in the vial, two for each (i.e. 200 micrograms) which was a good dose. Dissolved into a glass of water we imbibed its holiness.

I had talked about beauties of the University Botanic Garden before, and we agreed to start the trip there. Normally it might have been closed by that time, but there was a jazz concert that night. Quite a luck! So after paying a little extra we got in. It was nice to have the music in the background, although we didn't go to the concert itself. Preferred walking deeper into the forest and enjoying nature.

Flowers and other plants somehow seemed to exude beauty. The colours were more intense, as were other sensations. One plant had soft hairy leaves not unlike a rabbit's ears.

Solitary trees looked wonderful, giants of eternal wisdom. The patterns on their trunks were captivating, even though we know they had always been there that way. The beauty of small things in nature had gone unnoticed until then. Vast walls of hedges started to look interesting.

I got to the next stage when Mindbender sat under a tree to stare one of the hedges. I was on the other side and looked at the tree. I started to notice the circular and spiral patterns on the ground, centred on the tree trunk. The slight variations in the soil colour were massively amplified. I started looking more carefully, if there might also be some height variations; the ground gradually rising towards the tree. To see this I thought I should defocus my vision, like watching a 3D picture.

Something collapsed sideways in my field of vision.

Suddely the ground was painted with human shapes: athletic, partying, active and happy. The classical psychedelic sugardolls. I realized they were formed of the grass, leaves and other debris on the ground; it was just that my brain interpreted them in patterns I hadn't found before.

The patterns were often changed if I took another look. At one point I could see my own 'shadow' repeated on the ground, moving as I did, of course there was no direct sunlight to make a real shadow. The tree in the middle looked even more wonderful.

I recalled the film A Beautiful Mind, where John Nash started seeing patterns in newspaper text. Later I saw the same effect in some writings at Mindbender's place.

I started seeing sugardoll patterns on grass and other simple textured surfaces. They were wonderful and euphoric to look at. Seeing similar coloured patterns on dull-coloured surfaces like asphalt was quite provoking: the patterns were greatly amplified in colour and they seemed to jump out of the surface. Most of the patterns had cartoon-like human or animal characters interlocked in Escher-style lattices.

Luckily Wanja and Mindbender were there to remind me of other wonderful things to see, like flowers and other individual plants. At some point we concentrated on the clouds and the sunset. When sober, people often find familiar shapes in clouds, but this effect is massively exaggerated when on LSD. They start moving according to your imagination, but your rational mind isn't going anywhere, and just by blinking your eyes you can come back to normal -- if you want. Also, there is no dull or tiring effect like what alcohol does.

Looking back at the ground after a while, the candy people were back, and more hilarious than before. As we weren't alone in the garden, a woman asked us if we'd seen her daughter running around. We told we hadn't, and managed to contain ourselves from telling her what other things we'd just seen :-)

The pattern recognition effects became more apparent with plants that have obvious fractal structures. It normally takes some effort to spot the structure, now the effect was instant and very gratifying. It was easy to see the fractality in other forms which had more randomness in them. This brought to mind Stephen Wolfram's ideas of how the universe can be described in very simple structures that are appropriately repeated. I wondered if he had been on acid when making that discovery. I could certainly see the fractal patterns pervading the universe.

On the other hand, when looking at clouds I often saw sharp lines forming, as if there was a crystalline order within the clouds.

I realized it's my subconscious that wants to see everything in terms of precise geometries.

The same idea was more obvious, when sometimes the pattern that came superposed on textured surfaces, had letters and numbers, which I doubt are inherent in nature; they certainly come from my own mind.

Then again, an old idea of mine came back: we find these certain formulas and models of nature, because we are made of nature ourselves, and therefore our ideas of nature must be right to some extent! It's like nature is trying to tell ourselves something about herself, through our own minds. It's no surprise that this idea was more intriguing to me while tripping, but I was also able to reject it. I can't stress enough how cool it is, that you can retain your rational mind while having these wonderful sensations. In fact, I've read that it's the 'creativity centre' of brain that is most strongly accelerated by the LSD.

Since the most stunning and straightforward visuals came with repeating or random textures instead of macroscopic forms, I recalled the artistic tradition of Arabic cultures, where repeating patterns are favoured over other abstract forms and portraits. Also, while alcohol is banned by the Islamic law, there is a considerable tradition of using other drugs such as opium. Doesn't this make you say Hmmm?

As it got darker, we decided to go to Mindbender's place for a different kind of experience. The walk back there through the streets was mildly annoying, because the bright lights and noises were so strong. I can imagine you could get a bad trip if you stayed in a busy city centre.

While walking through the college grounds, I saw something moving on the grass, I thought this is it, it's getting deeper. Fortunately when we got closer, it turned out it was a real hedgehog. Cute, as some of us had been hogging the hedges just a while ago in the garden :-)

Mindbender's room was the setting for another stage: we dimmed the lights, lay down, and listened to experimental and electronic music. This was a completely different and yet another wonderful experience. The set-up was fruitful for synesthesia: visual sensations from audible phenomena. Not surprisingly I'd already seen the neon-coloured candy folk even behind my closed eyelids, but this was something more. The fractal and crystalline lattices were there as usual, but in addition I saw individual characters: One was a punk, whose nose grew into a long spike, and his hair got spiky as well, and soon he was a smiling blowfish-like head. Also saw Giger-style creatures made solely of flexible tubes/intestines, and they didn't feel frightening at all!

Changing the music and mood, the lights were on at times. The corners of the room seemed warped. The carpeting was an excellent substrate for some more Escher-Paisleys. Donuts and fruit juice tasted amazing, although the latter may have been a slight mistake; I've read that vitamin C can speed up the dissolution of LSD. After that the effects were slightly milder, but it may also have been the natural pace of coming down.

Some of the music was quite intense, and it was a good experiment in hearing enhancement. For a while I used the headphones, and a track of Hux-Flux contained lots of weird stuff that made me giggle. I particularly noted a drilling sound which made me feel like I'm being operated by a dentist :-)

The final destination on our checklist was Grantchester, and it was dark enough then. Most appropriately we listened to Grantchester Meadows by Pink Floyd before departing. It may be they had been on acid or something while recording the Ummagumma studio album.

On the way towards my place, we had to walk through a meadow. It felt like walking in a tight passage in the midst of shoulder-high weeds; yesterday I checked that it was really a wide path among plants barely knee-high :-). We also stopped at several places to marvel at different plants, and clusters thereof.

Grantchester by night on acid wasn't quite as amazing as I'd anticipated. The stuff was wearing off, though in the street lighting I could still feel walking in a candy house. We wanted to lie down and watch the sky, but it was too damp and in the end (around 3am) we lay down in the middle of the path for some time. At one occasion we stared at a distant row of trees; Wanja said it looked like they were passing by each other, and suddenly I saw the same thing. Similar effects of collective hallucination had been there already, for example with clouds.

Once we were approached by a cyclist in a hurry, and I recalled the idea that other people in those conditions could look frightening or weird. At the first sight he looked OK but as I pondered on that idea, I suddely saw that he had a big, green alien head. :-)

Around 4am the trip really started to feel it was over, and I headed home. Took a shower and checked mail and Slashdot (there was a story on "periodicity, patterns and chemicals" :). Before going to bed after 5am, I still noticed the funny glowing patterns on my carpeting. I slept soundly until 10-11am, feeling no extra fatigue. I didn't recall any dreams that night; of course, I'd just had enough REM stage for several weeks :-)

Friday went by in a very meditative and pleasant state. Took long glances at plants, trees and hedges. As Mindbender had told me: "You'll never see reality again like you used to." Somehow, the trip had brought back my usual self which is quiet, pondering, philosophical, and appreciates the beauty of small and simple things; that which I'd partially lost in the busy maze of studies and work. I've now found it very easy to focus and meditate, and I like this state very much and believe it is beneficial.

I felt that everyone should experience LSD once, to remind them of that beauty. But what I had seen could not be generalized; there are many negative-minded people who would probably become much worse with the experience. More importantly, it takes a strong mind to tackle the power of acid. If it's your first time, do it with experienced and trusted friends, in good surroundings and a positive state of mind.

Today (Sunday 23 June) I feel I'm starting to lose the afterglow. It's probably psychological to a large extent, and last night's computing problems which took hours to fix, may have played a role. But of course I haven't lost the general effect of the trip:

There is more than one way of seeing the world. There is more to nature than meets the uninitiated eye. And there's a lot of beauty around us which we often fail to appreciate.

I know most of the structures I saw were products of my own mind. Yet I felt like I was seeing the underlying patterns of the Universe: the code of the Matrix (This is a powerful analogy which I can't stress too much). There may be an apparent contradiction; however, if you think further it may not be so. For the scientific models can never tell how the universe really works, rather they tell about our relation to the universe. Secondly, if the world is a Matrix in the Buddhist sense, it is in fact created by our minds. It is therefore my humble conclusion that our peek into the deeper mind, was equivalently a sneak into the fabric of the Universe.