Bicycle Day: The Psychedelic Experience, God, and the Future of LSD

What’s all this got to do with LSD? I’ll get to that in a minute.

Men have forgotten God

The old anti-communist Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn said of the Russian Revolution,

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.'”

Of course as a Libertarian Marxist I do not share Solzhenitsyn’s crude anti-communism, but I nonetheless agree wholeheartedly with his general sentiment that “Men have forgotten god”. Nietzsche was right when he prophesied the death of God and the horrific effect it would have on our collective civilization. His famous quote on the “death of god” is quite well known:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

More people are atheists today than ever before in all human history, and religious fundamentalism I claim is as much to blame for this as the largely progressive secularization of society. People’s conception of God today is as bourgeois as it was feudal in the middle ages. Those who claim to worship and adhere to the ideas of a man who said “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” today openly promote the “virtues” of capitalist decadence and defend the leadership of a billionaire President whose actions and words stand intrinsically opposed to the entire doctrine of Christianity. Instead of opposing the excesses of bourgeois society they embrace them, opposing rather what aspects of modern society are antagonistic to their own socially conservative views. This to me is an utter betrayal of Christianity, a bastion of hypocrisy and conscious or unconscious submission to the ways of the world, in truth the opposite should be true!

Rosa Luxemburg’s condemnation of Christian capitalism is as valid today as it was in hers:

“But it is in vain that you put yourselves about, you degenerate servants of Christianity who have become the servants of Nero. It is in vain that you help our murderers and our killers, in vain that you protect the exploiters of the proletariat under the sign of the cross. Your cruelties and your calumnies in former times could not prevent the victory of the Christian idea, the idea which you have sacrificed to the Golden Calf; today your efforts will raise no obstacle to the coming of Socialism. Today it is you, in your lies and your teachings, who are pagans, and it is we who bring to the poor, to the exploited the tidings of fraternity and equality. It is we who are marching to the conquest of the world as he did formerly who proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Secular society and the technological, cultural, and social progress it has brought about is one of the best things to happen in the world. The issue here is something else entirely. I have to agree with Dr. Cornel West who claimed that “if my conception of God was what I found in so many modern churches, I would probably be an atheist”. Today as Christian fundamentalism stands in such strong opposition to scientific fact, no one more undermines the existence of the Christian faith than Christian Fundamentalists themselves. No one is better at turning people away from God than those who claim their God dictates that the earth and the universe at large is only 6000 years old, that evolution and the Big Bang are “fake”, that dinosaurs were placed in the ground by Satan to turn people from their faith. The Devil does not need to sway people from God, your modern bourgeois Christianity does that for him. As the radical theologian Thomas Müntzer identified the Catholic Church and the feudal order it endorsed in his day as the Beast of Revelation in his illustrated translation of the scriptures, so too must we today identify the actions of the Devil with modern Christianity’s fervent apologism for the Kingdom of Mammon.

In my mind so many horrors of the past 250 some odd years since the French revolution can be boiled down to the simple fact that “people have forgotten God”. But the prognosis is far worse than this, the cynical saying of the deposed French clergy in 1793. I mean this in a much more fundamental way, that the ethics of Christianity has been subjugated to, and been used as weapons of subjugation by, unjust social systems of coercion, class domination, hierarchy, oppression and exploitation for the past 1600 years. I say this not in the sense that we ought to return to feudal despotism or some late pre-capitalist notion of Christianity but rather that we should transcend capitalist Christianity altogether. The practices of the early Apostles as described in the Book of Acts were ardently communistic. If they had to embrace any social order it would have to be a state of free communism, the opposite of our modern bourgeois society, rejecting both what is often the dogmatic atheism of traditional Marxism and the totalitarianism of Stalinist despotism at the same time. In my mind only a genuinely open society in the form of a free and democratic socialism can do this. Once again the burning question, “yes you’re rambling on about religion but what the hell does this have to do with LSD?

Several years ago I considered myself like so many young people an ardent atheist, that is, until I took a particularly strong LSD trip that shook the foundations of my atheistic convictions (I have written about this previously). I saw, heard, and felt things of an entirely other dimension. The experience alone was not enough to sway me, it was the impossible things I learned and later confirmed that swayed me. I encountered mysterious entities of another plane of existence and learned things about them, their appearances, functions, names, and essences, information that I later found in an obscure, esoteric medieval grimoire I had never heard of or read called the Ars Goetia, a book allegedly written by King Solomon as a manual for the control and conjuration of demons. The ascertainment of this impossible knowledge propelled me to research this book and ultimately led to the rekindling of my faith in God. To this day I am convinced that God used the Devil for his own aims in restoring my faith in him. Of course there are varying interpretation of such an experience, did I merely conjure up some personified part of the collective unconscious? Was this really real? I do not know, but it was enough to kick me off my high horse and accept the possibility that everything I thought I knew was wrong. Isn’t that, after all, why Terence McKenna said psychedelics were illegal in the first place?

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

I also believed that what happened to me can happen to other people, as it often does in far less infernal forms. I am convinced that without this experience, without seeing something impossible or at the very least extremely difficult to rationally explain, without something making me question everything, I would still be an atheist to this day. I accredit this to God, but moreover I feel that LSD and psychedelics in general truly are a substance capable of opening the doors of perception to a greater reality. Whether that reality is something out there or merely a truly logical and objective point of view I cannot say. But in my mind the psychedelic experience has the ability to restore people’s faith in God, religion, and spirituality in a progressive, anti-dogmatic, open-minded way. Nothing, I claim, is needed more in our world than this today.

Bicycle Day and the Psychedelic Experience

On this day, April 19th, I make this most startling prediction: that in 40 years Bicycle Day will be recognized almost universally as an official holiday. That in those days, it will be a custom for a minority of those comfortable and of sound mind and with safe set and setting, to publicly declare their intention and aim of freely going out into the natural world to trip on low, moderate, and even large quantities of LSD.

Bicycle Day isn’t as well-known as the holiday that immediately follows it: 4/20. But 4/19 is also a drug holiday, a commemorative holiday where people the world over take LSD and ride on bicycles as the inventor of the drug Albert Hoffman did, accidentally, for the first time on April 19, 1945.

It is a stereotypical “druggie” notion that psychedelic drugs “like, (cough) expand your mind dude”. Of course, the origins of this claim go back thousands of years, and more recently lie in the claims of scientists, neurologists, and psychologists who do indeed support the notion that the filter placed on the conscious mind by the subconscious mind is removed by these substances. LSD is known for its use by the hippies, but originally its use was more confined to researchers and scientists. It was originally a drug for people with PhD’s rather than for stereotypical stoners. The “Harvard Psychedelic Club” is a famous example of such use.

The psychedelic experience, and LSD specifically, has been accredited by great minds for countless incredible scientific and technological achievements the world over. From discovering the shape of the double helix as the shape of human DNA in an afternoon after countless months of mental crunching and dead-ends, to the personally accredited successes Bill Gates and Steve Jobs attribute to the substance, and to the countless other contributions to the cybernetic revolution, LSD was there to lift the psychological filters we humans place on our everyday reality, to show the mind a larger piece of the unfiltered thing. As anyone who has taken psychedelic drugs knows, there in that warm, bright, awestruck, electrical substance we call enhanced reality, genius finds expression.

Having experienced this for myself, I have to say that it is my firm belief that the many advances brought about by the psychedelic era of yesterday still hold merit today, and that a new era necessitates the use of these substances yet again. As for potential of these substances, not only medicinally but recreationally, socially and culturally, I claim society has seen but the faintest tip of the iceberg.

On the day the use of these drugs are, in the not too distant future, accepted into our culture, legalized and regulated, on that day innovation and revelation, enlightened evolution and revolution, will overtake all parts of our society with a force hitherto unseen in all human history. Timothy Leary was right in this regard. The emancipation of labor from capital on a libertarian basis will undoubtedly see an explosion of individual innovation and culture, but with the emancipation of the human mind from the fetters of the subconscious filter I say this will be doubly so.

I predict that many of the problems our species faces, indeed perhaps even the enigma of cold fusion and the energy crisis, “faster than light” rocket propulsion, the levels of plastic in our oceans, the still unknown cure for cancer, and the very problems of society itself, I claim, will potentially be solved in the span of a decade, or at the very least the progress of such research will be substantially accelerated when LSD is accepted again and used as a tool by those who dedicate their lives to trying to understand and fix these problems. The scientists and researchers who toil away trying to solve these great problems and others, will find that what they needed all along was a fresh pair of eyes capable of seeing complex patterns where the sober mind only sees static, and better yet an informed pair of eyes unlimited by the confines of traditional thought. LSD provides exactly that. The callouses we form around our existence are, for those who trip, peeled away from time to time. Such a thing can be equally marvelous and terrifying, though necessary for a society to heal itself of its wounds and really progress into the future. Even something as simple as a color is seen as if through a child’s eyes for the first time, but in an even more profound way with all the knowledge an adult carries with them from the long gone cradle of childhood.

The psychedelic experience is not to be taken lightly, it is not like any other drug induced experience. Conventional drugs intoxicate, whereas psychedelics do the exact opposite– though the nature of the question of “intoxication” in regards to the psychedelic experience is itself, riddled with contradictions. Hallucinations, certainly, are common. Such a state of mind can of course bring profound hallucinations. But the hallucinations are often not mere fictitious constructs of the mind but rather a means for it to reveal a deeply hidden truth, to reveal patterns and greater truths not really yet understood in full by the conscious mind. Patterns never seen before become apparent, one is awestruck at the complexity of the simplest of objects, colors too are as a profound revelation.

On low to moderate doses, I would argue that while the psychic defenses usually up for our own evolutionary survival are down, so too are the filters our subconscious minds places on reality. In many ways, I think those filters are survival mechanisms inherited from our distant past, for the terrain the mind treads in those 12 hours cannot be permanent if one is to live and breathe as a sane modern man. But those 12 hours can be, if one is prepared, wonderful and life changing.

The nature of humanity is not transfixed, but ever changing and evolving into a higher form. This affirmation of evolution I believe, does not contradict my faith in God but rather it affirms it. From our ape-like ancestors to modern man, and from modern man to an entirely new being that I hope will take with it the best of us, while negating the worst aspect of our nature. But it is at the same time, for us today, a state of being trapped halfway between apes and angels. Man’s self-domestication and his construction of a society created in his own image (i.e. civilization) is a step away from barbarism and away from the primal nature of the past, it is a step towards the next phase of human evolution. The psychedelic experience lifts man’s consciousness to a higher level, beyond the confines of traditional human consciousness. I claim that this higher level of being will be, to a certain extent, how our distant descendants perceive reality. Without the filters our primitive minds place on reality, our future children may find a way to perceive reality in much the same way as one on psychedelic drugs, perhaps even more so, without sacrificing one’s own sanity or experiencing overwhelming emotions and such fragile states of mind.

For us, we are allotted a mere 12 hours, and that 12 hours for anyone who has taken this miraculous substance is often life-changing. The mechanisms that allow the psychedelic experience to happen are written into the human brain itself. I believe it is not a sinful intoxication as is often the case with alcohol, but a sacred enlightenment that is the nature of the psychedelic experience. Alcohol suppresses the human soul. Spiritually as well as physically, it is toxic. Alcohol suppresses reality and one’s own inner thoughts. Psychedelics on the other hand are reality-affirming and thought-affirming in such a profound way that they seem to transcend the limitations of the conscious mind.

Language and thought, if you are lucky enough to experience it, lose their marriage to one another, and pure thought, divorced from what one finds to be the constricting, limiting vestiges of language, expresses itself wonderfully and in such a way that challenges many of the conceptions of orthodox Kantianism. Such an effect for me has not been confined to this one trip, but I find when my mind wanders that I now have learned from this trip, the ability to do so whenever I like, even whilst fully sober (this effect I gained from psilocybin as opposed to LSD, but note that I have found a somewhat involuntary effect several days after such a trip, where written and spoken language appears alien and more difficult to comprehend than under normal circumstances). This sort of “skill”, I have found, allows the human brain to think in a way much faster and more efficiently than traditional thought.

Reason takes entirely different forms during the psychedelic experience. Whereas the sober mind goes from A to B to C, the psychedelic mind can easily and in a seemingly miraculous yet logical way go from A to B to Z, or from A to Z to B. In some cases, abstract thought can be delusional in nature, as the mind is not used to such a state of consciousness. But through altered neural pathways the mind can, because parts of the brain that don’t normally talk to each other are talking to each other, reach phenomenally logical and reasonable epiphany and “eureka” like realizations at the same time, such realizations and ideas flow unconstrained from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind like a river, sometimes thousands in the course of a few seconds. I remember such moments with extreme clarity, and many of these realizations have been life changing and life-affirming.

A thousand brilliant ideas flow through the conscious mind in a single moment. Riddles and enigmas so complex and unsolvable are in such a state, seemingly solved in the blink of an eye. Space, time, and even one’s own ego becomes meaningless. But the psychedelic experience magnifies ones own inner feelings, be they of harmony or turmoil. For that reason one should not take such a substance without much understanding and thought. One does not take LSD to escape their problems as one takes alcohol, should one do this LSD will magnify the psychological extent of their problems and force them to confront it. That alone moves the status of LSD from being a so-called “recreational drug” to a sacrament. In my view, the world today needs one big Bicycle Day. If everyone of sound mind and without a family history of psychosis or mental illness, for one day took 150ug of LSD, I claim the world would change overnight. All this of course must sound completely absurd to someone who has never taken a psychedelic drug. “What nonsense is all this!” they might say. To such a person I would encourage that they cast aside their preconceived notions, do their research, talk to their doctor, and take a few grams of mushrooms or a tab or two of the real thing, and then come back to me.

What else is there to say of LSD? The military stopped testing its soldiers with the drug because nearly all of them came to their senses and quit the army after taking it! What other drug can make pacifists out of battle-ready soldiers? Religion certainly can, but even that today is distorted to serve the powers that be, war-ready and all. “Think for yourself and question authority”, Leary liked to say. Maybe this is what society needs today.

But the psychedelic experience can likewise plunge those already miserable or in terrifying places into a literal hell, this is especially the case when one ingests a substance sold as LSD that was not, in actuality, LSD. The prohibitionist (I say ridiculous) “coalition for a drug free world” makes the truly absurd claim of LSD that “When things go wrong, which often happens, it is called a ‘bad trip,’ another name for a living hell.” The issue I have here is the term “which often happens”. When one has a good set and setting and is adequately prepared for the experience psychologically, the odds of a bad trip are generally astronomical. Generally I would say that at most bad trips are one in a thousand, and even those who have had the misfortune of experiencing one (myself included) often claim that they learned something valuable from the experience and are better people for it. LSD itself is a remarkably safe chemical. There have been no reported fatalities attributed directly to LSD, and the LD50 for the substance is truly astronomical. The same is true of cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms. A simple look at aggregated research from the Lancet and other sources confirms this fact.

drugchart2

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Make Sure It’s The Real Deal: A Cautionary Tale

Psychedelics are at the same time, extremely powerful substances. Years ago I had the misfortune of taking a drug I thought was LSD that turned out to be something else entirely. It was the only time I had not preformed a test-kit on the blotter to make sure that it was LSD. I trusted my source, and that was a mistake. What I took was not LSD. After 3 hours, I assumed I had been ripped off (I never hold a grudge), so I continued on with my day, not leaving the house or driving to be safe. LSD usually kicks in within 45 minutes to an hour, but this was not LSD.

After 3 hours of sobriety colors suddenly appeared exceptionally vibrant, and I knew at once that I was tripping on something I had not intended to take. The trip was like LSD but unpleasantly different, my muscles were tight and I grew increasingly anxious and sad. The trip lasted almost 24 hours and I fell asleep while tripping (something you can never do on LSD). Knowing I had taken what was likely a DOx compound (I suspect DOB) with no real established safety profile, panic and terror set in. I can only describe it as the “raw energy of terror”, and a period of 24 hours felt like weeks. In hindsight I grew from the experience and decided to wait 10 years before attempting another trip, but in those early months after the trip I required psychiatric intervention as the after-effects of the drug had destroyed my perception of conscious reality. Nothing felt real, like I was watching myself in a movie. It was absolutely terrifying. Anxiety let to this derealization, and the anxiety caused by the experience only amplified it in self-perpetuating panic attack. While not an LSD trip, I can say that the psychedelic experience itself is as wondrous as it is dangerous. I am convinced that LSD would not have given my such an experience that day. Having read the horror stories of people who had ingested these “research chemicals” I understood the dangers only all too well. The lesson here is simple: 100% sure that what you are taking is the real thing, pay the 100$ to send it into a lab, or at the very least buy a 20$ test-kit. To not do so in an era of prohibition is reckless in the extreme. For real LSD if one has a good set and setting, and a trusted trip-sitter to be sure, they have practically speaking, nothing to worry about.

Prohibition 2: This Time It Will Work

The ill-informed media likes to report on “fatal LSD overdoses” from time to time. Of course, like cannabis, the LD50 for LSD is millions of times higher than a recreational dose, and as such, such a large quantity of the stuff must belong only to those who synthesize it or their immediate colleges. No one “accidentally” takes a gram of LSD. Since that is the case, it’s hard to believe a 19 year old kid took a gram of pure LSD crystals (a truly priceless amount) before dying, especially when it is reported they took “tabs”. In nearly all cases, the poor kid took, knowingly or most often unknowingly, what is called a “research chemical”, something with a chemical composition similar to another psychedelic drug such as 1P-LSD, or different altogether such as 25i-NBOMx or DOx, that was sold as LSD. Such deaths then, are not the result of LSD but of its prohibition. Contrary to popular belief LSD, like cannabis, is a non-addictive substance (see above image). Not only is it non-addictive, but in many ways it is even anti-addictive. Alcoholics Anonymous in fact, used to use LSD as part of the twelve-step program when the substance was legal! Addicts in the United States and Canada often travel to Peru to participate in Ibogaine and Ayahuasca ceremonies that boast an exponentially higher success rate for treating addiction than the traditional 12 step program alone. Like the MDMA trip that one should take only once every 3 months at most (for serotonin levels to return to normal), a very high LSD tolerance builds up rapidly after a single dose. One has to wait 2 weeks for the same dose to have the same effect. If one even could take multiple doses consecutively I do not envy them, the mind is much too fragile an object to do something so reckless.

Having described the subjective effects of the psychedelic experience and the extreme harm of prohibition I must plea for Liberty in our own era. What business is it to authority what substance a free and informed person chooses to put into their body? It is none at all! The war on drugs has been a disaster since the day it was started. It has created a death toll for substances that are impossible to overdose on, all because there is no regulation or laws ensuring that what people buy is what they get. It has destroyed lives and families by locking people up for non-violent crimes, turning honest citizens into criminals by putting them into prisons- the universities of crime. It has shut down any attempt on the part of drug users to self-regulate the exchange of drugs, reduce violence and enforce the quality control of psychoactive drugs by shutting down and arresting the people who run darknet markets such as the Silk Road. It has deprived the individual of their liberty and hindered the pursuit of happiness. It has perpetually destabilized the South American continent, concentrating what should be social wealth into vast crime syndicates that know no morals or social utility. It has led to far greater rates of addiction, death, disease, and use rates among both adults and minors than if it were legal and strictly regulated. It has led to the social popularity of truly destructive drugs such as alcohol and tobacco while much safer alternatives remain illegal. The addict not only cannot often afford treatment, but is afraid to seek it. What good is incarceration for getting sober when one finds more drugs inside of prison than outside of it?

The only way out of this crisis is the inevitable future legalization and strict regulation of all psychoactive drugs, public harm-reduction initiatives and free universal healthcare and addiction treatment. Decriminalization is a necessary first step, but decriminalization without universal healthcare is heartless. While LSD is not an addictive substance, or one nearly as harmful as most other drugs, I claim that the only solution lies in legalizing and regulating all drugs. Inevitably less harmful drugs will become commonplace over more harmful ones. I predict that cannabis will work to gradually replace the widespread use rates of both alcohol, tobacco, and opiates, and such a replacement will be long overdue.

As for psychedelic I have to reiterate my agreement with what Terence McKenna once said of psychedelic prohibition:

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

My dream is that in 40 years time Bicycle day will cease to be a social taboo, and will become something worthy of that great chemical compound Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Legal disclaimer: I am, of course, saying “take a few grams” of portobello “mushrooms” and “tabs” of drug-free blotter paper. I totally wouldn’t encourage people to break what are fundamentally unjust laws or anything like that.

One thought on “Bicycle Day: The Psychedelic Experience, God, and the Future of LSD

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