Youre Going to Take LSD
Get Me Out of
Have an Orgy
I Have All
Us Against Them
Call It a Day
A Few Tips
Youve Had LSD
Appendix on Other
Psychedelics and Dosage
The need for a practical manual for the use of
LSD has become increasingly apparent to those concerned with
psychedelic issues over the past four years. With more and more
laymen taking LSD and similar drugs, and with the supposed
experts having nothing more instructive to say than
dont, the beginning user often has nowhere to
turn for the most fundamental information. Miserable sessions are
often the result of not knowing basic rules, even so prosaic a
fact as how long a session lasts.
What limited literature there is on the conduct
of LSD sessions is usually directed to the professional guide,
experimenter or therapist. This manual is directed to the
consumer himself. Just at present, advising the user to
find a qualified guide is rather fatuous. Competent
guides, available to run sessions for other than close friends,
do not exist. I cant think of anyone, anywhere, to whom I
could send the stranger at my door to be guided in an LSD
session. And it is the rare person who is willing to wait on the
faith that one can eventually be found. It is to be hoped that
this state of affairs will not long continue, but with no change
immediately in view we must deal with the problem as it exists
today. In future years, when we can hope there will be
psychedelic centers, staffed by experienced guides, a manual such
as this will still be useful, because the LSD experience,
personal and subjective as it is, is affected more by the
individuals attitudes and behavior than by anything another
can do for him.
The remaining literature available to the
layman dwells heavily on poetic descriptions of the LSD state or
interpretations of it in terms of oriental mysticism. I have been
struck by the number of people who take LSD after reading these
books and then get trapped in some ugly little situation that
anyone with three sessions behind him could have warned them
about. This book is then no tourists guide through
paradise, but a down - to - earth discussion of the sorts of things
that can go wrong in an LSD session and how to prevent them. For
those who want a loftier view I recommend Alan Watts The Joyous Cosmology
and Timothy Learys Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao Te
I apologize to my hippie readers
for the old-fashioned (1963 vintage) word session,
realizing that the current term is trip.
I learned to
call them sessions under Leary and Alpert at Harvard and never
have gotten used to thinking of the LSD event as a trip, which
suggests going away, whereas for me LSD means an intensified
being Here and Now. Simultaneously I must apologize to my
non-hippie readers for the occasional use of such slang terms as
high, turn on, bringdown, and hung up in places where more conventional language
would be stilted. I trust the meanings will be apparent in
context, and have tried not to overdo it. High is a
somewhat misleading word for being under the influence of LSD,
but I use it for brevity.
SO YOURE GOING TO TAKE LSD
So youre going to take LSD. Youve
got some, hopefully from a reliable source. Youve heard a
variety of reports about it, some of which must have attracted
you. You have an idea of the kind of experience youre
looking for, but youre apprehensive lest you have a
What you may not realize is that the kind of
session you have depends very much on you. Perhaps you have a
friend who is experienced with LSD to guide you. This is good,
but nevertheless, no matter how good a guide your friend is, you
will have to do most of the work yourself.
Work? Can getting high be work? Yes, a
psychedelic session is very hard work, although you may do it
sitting quite still and quiet. You may have to do an overhaul of
your whole philosophy of life, including areas that you
havent examined for years, if ever. You may be faced with
choices or decisions which will be difficult to make. Your way of
life, your habits, your relationships with others will all come
under scrutiny. By the time the session is through you will be
Is LSD then no fun? Is it not enjoyable? You
have heard that it is an ecstatic experience. So it is, or can
be. But this is a very different kind of fun from any that you
know about, from ordinary recreation or other sorts of drugs.
Going into an LSD session with the idea that it will all be a
lark, a carefree high, is a mistake that leads to
some bad session games.
Should you take LSD at all? This book does not
answer that question, not knowing the answer, and suspecting that
you have your mind made up anyhow. There is no physical or mental
condition known to be a definite counter-indication to LSD in all
circumstances. I would not want to turn on (a) a person under 18
or (b) a person with a history of psychosis, but I would not
dogmatically say that such a person could not have a good session
I do believe that a healthy adult can have a
safe and beneficial psychedelic experience, provided he knows
what to do and his expectations are not unrealistic. Some of the
common unrealistic expectations are: (1) that LSD will cure
something; (2) that LSD will give you psychic powers; (3) that
you can have a super sex experience on it; (4) that your LSD
experience will be like your friend Joes, or like some
experience you have read about; (5) that it will be like
marijuana, only more so; (6) that if you dont like it you
can always take a tranquilizer and shut it off; (7) that LSD will
improve your memory or I.Q.
If you are approaching an LSD experience with
any of these notions as baggage, get rid of them now. LSD is not
magic. It will not make you smarter, or give you any special
powers. Your experience will be your own, and not like any you
have heard of. LSD gives you a new perspective on your life for
several hours, and since it is your life you will be looking at,
it will not be like anybody elses session. LSD is not much
like marijuana at all, potheads boasts to the contrary
notwithstanding. The session may or may not help cure
some of your psychological problems, but you cant count on
In fact, its best to set aside all
expectations as much as possible. LSD will almost certainly be
different from anything you might expect, so why not go into it
acknowledging that it is unknown territory. This may have the
advantage of rescuing you from the self - defeating game of How
High Am I? Like the proverbial watched pot that never boils, some
people manage to hold themselves down by continually looking for
symptoms and trying to see whether they are high yet. Since you
dont know what the LSD state is like, there is no point in
trying to figure out whether you have gotten there. Assuming it
is genuine LSD, and you have taken enough of it, it will do its
part. If you must know how high you are, look at the clock. The
time schedule of an LSD session goes something like this:
Before you take LSD, make a graph like this,
putting your starting time in place of 0, and the subsequent
hours in place of 1, 2, 3, etc. Then if you ever want to know how
high you are, just check your graph with the clock. This may seem
like a quaint idea, but it can actually be very useful. It can
keep a session from breaking up too soon (the game of Lets
Call It a Day). It can also save you from spiritual one-upmanship
games, in which people worry about whether they have achieved as
high a level as their friends. I have known people to
take too much LSD because they feel that they have not yet
achieved an ego death or a first bardo.
Forget all about levels. They are pretty meaningless.
You will learn what the LSD state is for you, after several
sessions. Dont worry if it isnt like somebody
elses description. You cannot compare how high you are with
how high Joe is. So go by the clock. If nothing remarkable has
happened after an hour and a half, you got gypped.
One hears a lot about preparation
for the LSD experience. You may wonder what sort of preparation
you should undergo. Actually you have been preparing all your
life, and those many years of preparation will outweigh anything
you can do in a short time before the session. Being told to
prepare for a session is a little like being told to
prepare to meet your Maker a few hours before you are
going to be shot.
If there is any last-minute preparation for the
LSD experience, it would be in the nature of refreshing in your
mind the things that are dearest and most sacred to you.
Dont plunge into oriental philosophy, unless you are
already a lover of it. The psychedelic state is no more eastern
than western. Think about the things you care about, the people
you love, the things you hope to do with your life. Try to clear
your mind of negative emotions resentments, jealousies.
Say something nice to your mother-in-law, or whoever fills that
place in your world. A good conscience is the best preparation
you can have.
On the technical side, preparation consists in
making sure that the physical and social conditions of the
session are as they should be. Decide well in advance who is
going to participate in the session. You should all know, like
and trust one another. The more you have shared of life in common
with your session - mates the better. Until you are very
experienced you should avoid taking LSD alone, and also avoid two - person sessions. This is especially true for unmarried
couples, no matter what their sexual relationship. A two-person
session is very difficult, because it puts the whole burden of
social interaction on the two people. Talk is difficult on LSD.
This is no problem in a group, since the group can sit quietly
and nobody will be embarrassed. But in a two-person group a
silence becomes awkward. Unhealthy hang - ups on what the other
person is thinking and games of Mind Reader result. A
relationship can be badly strained when two inexperienced people
take LSD together. For your first several sessions stick to three
or four member groups. Groups larger than five are to be avoided
as to distracting.
If none of you are experienced it is a good
idea to have a friend along who does not take any LSD.
Throughout this book there is frequent mention
of being experienced in the use of psychedelics. When
are you experienced enough to take LSD alone or to do the other
things beginners are warned against? This is a function of
responsibility and maturity as well as the number of sessions.
You should have had at least four, and have satisfied yourself
that you can get through a session all 16 hours of it
without panicking, becoming confused or unduly depressed,
or becoming burdensome to others. You should be aware of what is
going on at all points in a session and be able to act on your
knowledge as rationally and efficiently as if you were not high.
You should be able to carry out the plans made at the start of
the session. You should be able to carry on a normal conversation
should the need arise. In other words you should be at home in
the psychedelic state.
All participants in a session should get
together beforehand and agree on the time and place, and
composition of the group. All should agree to stay together for
at least ten hours. All should have enough knowledge about LSD to
be able to avoid bad session games, and should agree not to play
The place chosen for the session should
preferably be someones home, if possible a place that is
familiar to the members of the group. Make sure you can stay
there undisturbed for at least 16 hours. It should be clean,
attractive and comfortable. Clutter and mess should be cleaned
up. It is a good idea to have mattresses and cushions enough for
everybody to have a place to lie down if he wants to (though
sitting up is best for most of a session). Blankets and kleenex
should be provided. There is no need to import objects of art or
special things to look at unless they are particularly meaningful
to one of the participants. Otherwise the simpler the better. If
music is wanted it should be quiet, melodic music, nothing loud
or weird, and it should not be played during the second through
fourth hours. Privacy is essential if the home is one at
which visitors are accustomed to drop in, a Do Not
Disturb sign on the door or something of the sort is called
for. Nobody should be allowed to come in or go out during the
session. It should be possible to go to the bathroom without
venturing into public territory. Telephones should be
disconnected to prevent both incoming and outgoing calls. A
country or suburban setting is best, where you can see something
green out of the window and get some fresh air when you open it.
If you live in New York City you asked for it.
Do not hold a session on a beach, in a field or
woods, unless, again, you are very experienced. There is too much
opportunity for disorientation, fear occasioned by meeting
strangers, physical discomfort and games of Wheres Harry?
By staying in a familiar room you have the physical environment
taken care of and you dont have to concern yourself with
it; confusion and distraction are minimized.
You should arrange to have both
the session day and the day after it free.
In addition to providing a suitable setting for
the session, and approaching it in a tranquil state of mind, you
should know how to avoid certain pitfalls. These are such that
one might not be aware of them without knowing something about
what sessions are like. Almost everyone sooner or later slips
into one of these traps, but if you have been told about them in
advance you can get out quicker. I have called these
things-to-be-avoided Session Games (with apologies to Szasz, Berne, Leary, and others whose specific definitions of
game I have not bothered to adhere to). This then is
a primarily negative manual, in that it tells you what not to do.
Given good preparation and a knowledge of what not to do, what to
do should not be a problem.
When told what not to do in a session, many
people ask, Why is it dangerous? Most of these
games, with the possible exception of Get Me Out of This, are not
likely to be dangerous. I advise not playing them, not because
they will hurt you, but because the session will probably be
pleasanter and more rewarding if they are avoided.
Some people will probably feel
this manual is too negative. They will say that by discussing all
the things that can go wrong in a session I am giving people a
lot of things to worry about. That is not my intention, so let me
state clearly: it is altogether possible that you will not be
tempted to play any of the games this book warns against. It is
altogether possible that your session will be a delight clear
through. I hope that it is so. In that case you will not need a
manual, but it wont do you any harm to have read this one.
ME OUT OF THIS
is the worst of all session games. In its most
severe form it can turn a session into a nightmare for everyone
involved. But you dont have to play it, if you make up your
mind not to.
It is very common that sometime during the
onset of a session, between ½ hour and 1½ hours after ingestion
(that sharp rise on the graph), you may feel scared,
uncomfortable or confused. This may not happen, but if it does,
it doesnt mean that somethings wrong its
just part of the process of getting high for a great many people,
especially inexperienced ones. Just why this is so is not easy to
explain, because it is a peculiar subjective feeling. It may take
the form of a feeling of losing control, of not being able to
keep track of your thoughts, or the idea that something is going
on that you dont understand. The sense of losing control is
in part illusory: you are actually in complete control of your
body, if you had to use it, which you usually dont, since
you only have to sit there. You may not be quite in control of
your thoughts. Actually, of course, you never are, even when
youre not on a drug, but on LSD you seem to have more
thoughts, going faster and less logically. Your thoughts easily
go off on a tangent, so that you may lose the sense of
continuity, and moment seems to follow moment without the usual
thread of sense connecting them. This can be bewildering, but it
is not bad or dangerous, and can actually be quite fun if you
dont fight it.
The reason you can control your body while your
thoughts are racing on this way is that your body moves so much
more slowly than your mind. For instance, if you were to get up
to go to the bathroom you would think of a great many unrelated
things while crossing the room, but when you came to take each
next step you would remember what you were doing and take it. To
you it would seem as if you were taking an incredibly long time
to cross the room, but to an observer you would be moving at
about your normal speed. Its important to remember that the
sense of incompetency is an illusion, and if you do have to do
something, to go ahead and do it, without worrying about the
excessively long time that it seems to be taking.
But to get back to the game of Get Me Out Of
This there may come the time, early in the session, when
you feel uncomfortable. At this point you may think: Why did I
ever get into this? I was happy enough the way I was. I
dont want to get high! I want to come down!
Now the one thing you must not do is holler
Get me out of this! Because the more you fight it,
the harder it is to shift gears and go with it. Furthermore, by
trying to enlist other people in the fight, you make the problem
much stickier. You see, anything you do that affects the world
outside your head is a lot harder to undo than the things you
only think. (Like many other aspects of the LSD experience, this
is an intensification of what is true in ordinary
life.) If you think Get me out of this you can
quickly remember that this is the wrong way to go, and correct
yourself. But if you yell Get me out of this!
youll upset all your companions, and have them solicitously
buzzing around you and you dont want that, believe
If you persist in this game, it can snowball.
Youll feel worse and worse, want even more to get out of
it, provoke more anxiety in your companions, causing you to feel
even more confused and helpless, and so on. This can end in
screaming scenes and frantic calling of doctors. Thats
whats called a freak - out. You may hear
freak-outs talked about as though they were something
that just happened, but actually they can be prevented and
the person who can do the most to prevent them is you, by not
playing the wrong games.
You see they cant get you off
LSD before it runs its natural course. Asking your friends to
bring you down is as practical as asking your fellow passengers
on a transatlantic jet to stop the plane and let you off in
mid-flight. I dont advise stocking so-called
antidotes. These are hardly ever effective when taken
by mouth. To terminate a session prematurely requires massive
doses of a sedative given by injection, and amateurs are not in a
position to provide this. Taking a tranquilizer or sedative
orally can do more harm than good, by to pin your hopes on being
brought down hopes which are not fulfilled, and which keep
you in your bind of fighting the experience. Once you have
started an LSD session you have got to go all the way through it,
come hell or high water. If you cant make up your mind to
do this beforehand, dont start.
What should you do then, when you start to feel
scared or unhappy? Well what would you do in a non - drug situation
that was scary and unavoidable? Youd try to be as brave and
cheerful as you could be, and to keep up your companions
spirits as well as your own. The same approach can work wonders
in the LSD session. Holding hands around the circle is a good way
of communicating courage and support. In the LSD state you can
change your mood very quickly. Here, as with physical action,
there may be an illusion of incompetency. You may think
youre so frightened or so depressed that you couldnt
possibly smile, or get to like the experience. But just try for a
moment to take your mind off your own anxiety and think of your
friends around you, and youll be amazed how quickly
youll feel much better. This sounds like a platitude from
Sunday School, but somehow those Sunday School truths are truer
on LSD than just about anywhere.
If youre simply not up to
being brave, the other thing you can do is Collapse. Just put
your head in your lap, and abandon yourself to whatever-it-is.
You cant go wrong that way and youll soon find
out that whatever-it-is isnt going to hurt you at all.
* * * * *
At this point it may be useful to debunk some
of the ideas that make people think there is something to fear.
Probably the fear itself is caused by something deeper than
misinformation, but the rational mind has a way of fastening onto
certain bugaboos and making of them reasons to go on being
The commonest fear is of not being able to come
down. As I have pointed out, it is true that you cant come
down for several hours, but some newspapers and magazines have
done a great disservice by circulating the belief that some
people who go on an LSD trip never come back. This
nonsense is responsible for much unnecessary terror. Of course
you come back. This is just common sense. LSD, like other drugs,
has a time-schedule of action. There is no more chance of you
still being high on LSD a week after taking it than there is of
your still being under the influence of alcohol, caffeine, or
benzedrine a week after a single dose of one of those drugs. The
typical duration of an LSD session is 12 to 18 hours, plus four
to eight hours to sleep it off perhaps a little longer if
an excessively large dose is taken. Even people who freak out
come down on schedule, feeling like fools for having made such a
People having their first session are
especially susceptible to the belief that they will not come down
this goes for those who are having ecstatic experiences as
well as for those who are scared. Probably this is because they
have not learned to take into account their altered sense of
time. This is part of the reason why a clock is a useful thing to
have in the room.
Another common fear is of dying. There are
various reasons why people get the idea that they are dying
during a session, but you need not get hung up on this if you
just remember that nobody has ever been known to die of LSD
and its been around for more than twenty years and
has been taken by hundreds of thousands. No lethal dose for
humans has been found, even though people have taken as much as
ten times the usual full dose.
Some people worry about losing their control
and doing something wrong or crazy. This is an illusion. The
actuality is just the opposite that it takes a certain
amount of will power to do anything at all. You dont have
to worry about what youll do. The easiest thing is just to
sit there, and in most cases, thats exactly what you should
do. Since LSD has been heralded in the press as a producer of
temporary insanity, we will probably be seeing criminals use it
as an excuse for their crimes. The jury may buy it, but this is
just nonsense. LSD doesnt take away your knowledge of right
and wrong or your control over your actions.
As long as LSD is an illegal or semi - illegal
drug in some states, users will worry about being arrested. This
shouldnt be a problem if you keep the following things in
mind: (1) you should not let anyone in who is not a part of the
original group; (2) if despite plans you do come into contact
with an outsider he will not know youre high. Its not
obvious to him the way it is to you you dont have to
make explanations; (3) even if he suspects youre high he
cant prove it; (4) simply being high is not grounds for
arrest. If it will make you feel safer, make sure there are no
drugs in the house.
A fifth thing people worry about in sessions is
whether their companions are playing some sort of trick on them.
These are the paranoid feelings you hear about: you
may think your friends are looking at you strangely or that their
words have hidden meanings. The knowledge that you have chosen
your session - mates from among people that you trust, and that the
paranoid feelings are a common occurrence on LSD should be enough
to keep you from getting too embroiled in these fantasies. Think
of something nice about your friend and he will look nicer
and less menacing.
What it comes down to is that there is really
nothing to be afraid of in the session. This will be clearer if
you analyze the situation as follows: Suppose you didnt
take LSD, but just decided to get together with a few friends and
sit and think for 16 hours with occasional conversation. You
might get bored, but youd be in no special danger. Now in
the LSD session, the external situation is just the same
as the one described. The only difference is in whats going
on in your nervous system. Your body chemistry has been changed
in such a way that for 16 hours you will experience and think
very differently from the way you usually do. But that cant
hurt you. The next morning you will wake up pretty much your old
self except that a very unusual 16 hours will have been added to
your store of life experience.
So you dont need to get out of it. And if
you refrain from trying to do so you will have averted the worst
thing that can go wrong.
If one of your session-mates is playing Get Me
Out of This do not tell him you will bring him down, and do not
offer to get him a doctor or an antidote. Do remind him that the
experience is transient if thats what hes worried
about, and do assure him of your support. But dont make a
fuss or try to be a psychoanalyst. Its usually useless to
ask whats wrong, as he probably cant explain. Given
your trust and confidence, he can work through his own fears.
I have been discussing the game of
Get Me Out of This as it occurs early in a session. Occasionally
it is also played around the seventh hour, during the
re - entry period. Here the problem is less likely to
be fear than to be physical discomfort, tiredness, depression or
disappointment at coming down. These problems are seldom severe
if youve done what you should during the earlier hours, and
if you stay where you are and dont play Lets Call It
a Day. The rule is the same: dont try to get out of it.
This phase too must proceed at its own pace. If your muscles are
tight, a little Librium or marijuana can help relax you. Alcohol
and heavy eating are to be avoided.
THIS ONE DOESNT COUNT
is a game played whenever you take a
psychedelic for any trivial or unearnest purpose.
The commonest instance is when taking a drug
whose potency you are uncertain of. So you try a little to see if
it works. And it does. And then you discover that you are going
to have to go through the whole thing, and you really hadnt
planned on it.
Then there are sessions entered into for the
purpose of testing some impersonal scientific hypothesis about
the effects of the drug. Lets take some LSD and see how
fast we can memorize nonsense syllables or how big our pupils
There is nothing wrong with testing scientific
hypotheses under LSD, but this is best left until you are
sufficiently experienced to do these things without losing your
grip on the spiritual nature of the experience.
An LSD session will always be an
intense encounter with reality. Every session counts. If you
remember this foremost when going into a session, you will be
able to keep other purposes in their place.
The four games that follow: Baby, Couch, Drunk,
and Lets Have an Orgy overlap to some extent and have at
their common root an attempt to evade responsibility in the
session. Probably we all play various games to avoid
responsibility in our daily lives, some of which LSD tends to cut
through and expose to us. Some people, in an effort to avoid the
discomfort of being exposed to themselves, plunge into a number
of distracting games which seem to be attempts to prove that they
are really drugged, irresponsible and dont know what they
are doing; or they may try to become completely dependent on
someone else, like a child. Alcohol parties are the prototype for
this kind of game in our culture. Be cause alcohol, in large
doses, really does cloud consciousness and impair functionality,
there is some truth in the claim that a drunken person is not
fully responsible. This gives the game players tremendous
latitude to make fools of themselves, excusing it later on the
grounds that they were drunk.
On LSD there is no such excuse.
Consciousness is heightened, not clouded, and there is no
particular impairment of muscular coordination, beyond, perhaps,
some initial dizziness. if you get into any of the following
games you'll know it's your own fault, whatever you may let
A young man I know who has just passed his
first birthday has a standard procedure whenever he sees
something interesting or pretty. He grabs it and gleefully pulls
it to pieces. Some people in sessions are almost like this. They
go about digging their fingers into things, crushing things, and
dropping them any old where. They throw soap suds or kleenex
around the floor. Now ordinary objects can be very fascinating
when youre high, holding some of the newness and wonder
that they must hold for a small child. But do be gentle.
Dont destroy what you appreciate. Otherwise you will have a
gruesome re-entry, as you come down to a room that is a complete
mess. And youll have to clean it up or youll
never find your shoes.
Another variant of Baby is where a
session participant acts helpless and expects others to look
after him. He communicates only in monosyllables or meaningless
noises, wants others to pay attention to him and fetch him food
and water. I suppose Freudians would call this regression
to the oral stage, but I call it playing Baby, as a
reminder that it doesnt just happen to a person, but is
within his control. If you play Baby, you will miss the joy of
sharing the experience with your friends. Besides, you will feel
like a fool later, and nobody is likely to want to turn on with
is a game where you decide the session was made
for your personal psychoanalysis and start telling whoever will
listen all about your childhood traumas and current neuroses.
Now a degree of self - exposure in a session is
good. As you see through some of your phobias and hang - ups you
feel elated and want to tell somebody, and you often find that
your friends have been hung up on the same petty thing that you
have, and you laugh over it together and enjoy the feeling of
Playing couch is another matter. Pouring forth
your entire stream of consciousness out loud is not honesty,
its an attempt to monopolize attention, and it also tends
to keep your mind in a rut, shutting out new ways of looking at
People who play Couch are terrible
bores. Of course its different if you are turning on with a
psychoanalyst, and thats what he wants you to do. I
cant imagine wanting to turn on with a headshrinker, but
theres no accounting for tastes.
The person who plays drunk tries to avoid any
existential encounter in the session by reducing it all to
silliness. He knows that anything he may be experiencing is
only the drug so hes not about to let it move
him. He giggles and snickers incessantly, moves with exaggerated
clumsiness, and generally acts the buffoon.
Like Baby and Couch this is a case of carrying
to extremes something that is a normal element of the session.
There is an aspect of absurdity and humorousness to ordinarily
serious things which is one of the delights of the LSD
experience. It would be a strange session in which nobody
The trouble with the guy who plays
Drunk is that he wont leave room for anything else. Nothing
can be sacred to him. He cant say anything sincere without
immediately qualifying it with a nonsensical or cynical remark.
Often he shows that he thinks of his indulgence in
LSD as a dissipated or naughty thing to do. In other words he
does everything he can to shield his little ego from the impact
of LSD by pretending that he is just on a drunk. He cheats
himself and brings his companions down.
Lets Have an Orgy
is like Drunk, only worse. In one of my first
morning glory sessions there was a boy who kept stamping the
floor nervously and insisting, Lets put on some
records and have a fuckn party somewhat to the
confusion of others who, just feeling their way into this new
state of consciousness, were not at all in the mood for a party,
but wondered whether they were being party-poopers for not going
along with these demands.
Some people, faced with the strange and
disquieting initial effects of LSD, respond by flinging
themselves into a frantic pursuit of sensual pleasure. It is a
kind of way of playing Get Me Out of This without the screaming.
And like Baby and Drunk it draws on the cultural association of
drugs with irresponsibility and wild behavior. To help convince
himself, the player usually tries to draw his companions into the
game. The forced nature of this behavior is obvious when you
realize that LSD actually decreases, at its peak virtually
eliminates, physical cravings. Loud music, food, sex games,
jumping around, can do little to comfort the person whose real
problem is that he wants to drown out his thoughts.
If one of your session-mates is
playing this game, do not feel that you have to play it with him
in order to be a good sport. Sit quietly and encourage him to do
the same. The real pleasures of the session, including the
sensory, come without seeking them, without straining, without doing
is a game most often played around the fifth
hour of a session, though it can crop up any time.
You think youd like to wander off from
the group and go do such-and-such (eat supper, see what Harvard
Square looks like when youre high, visit Joe, etc.). If you
slip out on a pretext of going to the john nobody will notice for
a while. You feel confident that youll be OK. After all,
its your session, dont you owe it to yourself to see
all the things you can while you have a chance?
You do not. In the first place its very
inconsiderate. Your companions will notice your absence very
soon. Time passes slowly for them even a ten minute
absence can seem like an hour. You are in a state where you are
easily distracted. Once you wander off theres no telling
when youll get back. And all the while your companions can
think of little else than Wheres Harry? Is he all
right? Shouldnt we send somebody to look for him and make
You may feel that of course youre all
right and its silly for them to worry. Nevertheless they
will, and this is quite natural. There is still a certain amount
of distance between you and the un-bedrugged world. Your friends
arent sure but that you could get into some kind of
trouble. It seems as though youve been gone for an awfully
In the second place, you are confusing
categories if you think that seeing as much as possible during a
session means wandering around and seeing as many physical places
and things as possible. The trip is internal. Moving around and
seeking a large variety of external stimuli is only a
A third reason is that people who are going
through a session together form a small community. Staying
together helps keep everybody turned on, by mutual reinforcement.
You would find that people outside are not so easy to communicate
with, not having been through this very intense experience with
you and your friends. Your friends need you to help maintain the
group feeling, and you need them. So stay together. This
doesnt mean you should shut yourself off from your non-psychedelic friends but there will be time enough to
see them when youre not high.
If another member of the group
pulls a Wheres Harry? on you, do not send a person
whos high after him, as this will just change the game into
one of Wheres Harry and Bill? If there is someone there who
hasnt had any LSD, you can send him to find Harry and try
to persuade him to come back, or at least make sure hes OK.
The feeling that you know just what is going on
in somebody elses mind, or that they are thinking the same
thing you are thinking, often occurs in sessions. Sometimes
youre right and sometimes not. The question whether actual
telepathy takes place during sessions (or at any other time) is a
controversial one. But one thing is certain: at least sometimes
when you think you know what your companion is thinking, you are
Verbal attempts to establish whether your
effort at mind-reading has been successful are most
unsatisfactory when conducted during a session. This is because
verbal exchanges under LSD consist of about one-tenth words and nine-tenths innuendo. Unfortunately, the innuendo which the
speaker intends to communicate, or things he has communicated, is
often very different from what the listener thinks he meant. The
result ranges from hilarious confusion to paranoid suspiciousness
Facial expressions are not an adequate
indicator of thoughts either, because you can see them distorted,
and can project your own feelings onto them.
An unfortunate byproduct of the game of Mind
Reader is that the player may feel let-down and betrayed when his
companion fails to act on the understanding which the Mind Reader
erroneously thinks has been reached. Or the Mind Reader may
become paranoid when he thinks he perceives hostile thoughts in
his companions. Also, he may confuse his companions if he adopts
an I know what youre thinking or You know
what I mean attitude. The companion wonders desperately how
to respond in this situation where he is in the impossible
position of not knowing what his friend thinks he knows his
The rules to follow in order to avoid these
hang-ups are: (1) Dont assume that you know what your
companions are thinking, even if it feels that way; (2)
Dont assume that they know what you are thinking; (3) Avoid
extended conversation during the peak of the session. Do not try
too hard to make sure that you understand what one another are
saying; if this effort becomes too involved, give it up and have
a period of silence; (4) When you do speak, speak literally
rather than figuratively, in brief concrete sentences; (5) If
asked a question, give a literal, straightforward answer.
If you wish to experiment with ESP
during a session, this should be agreed upon by the members
beforehand. Like other scientific tests, this is best postponed
until you have had several experiences with LSD.
I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS
Novices in LSD sessions sometimes become
convinced that they know the answers to all the mysteries of life
and the universe. The very people who are most dogmatic about
this are often the most confused and perplexed around hour seven
when they are returning to ordinary consciousness.
Go lightly. There are valid insights to be had
in the psychedelic state, but their value lies in their
applicability to daily life. Remember that you are in a transient
state, and think of how you can put your insights to work to help
you lead a better, richer life in your ordinary consciousness. Do
not force your ideas on your consciousness. There is nothing
wrong with expressing your thoughts, but you should respect the
fact that your companions have thoughts of their own.
If you ever feel that you have all
the answers you may be sure that you dont no matter
how many sessions you have had.
The Messiah player not only has all the
answers, hes going to tell the world about them. He runs
out into the street or grabs the phone and tries to call the
President. Anyone who interferes with him is preventing the
salvation of the world and is put in his place.
One cant help sympathizing a bit with
this guy. The world does need saving. If only it were so easy.
Alas, the insights of LSD, vivid though they may be to you, are
not readily communicated. Being essentially nonverbal, they are
not even easily remembered. You will be batting above average if
you can save yourself.
The urgent message you have to
convey to those outside, if it is really communicable and worth
communicating, can be conveyed tomorrow, more effectively because
you will be in a state of mind nearer to that of your audience.
Write it down.
There is something about LSD revelations that
makes them seem so obvious you cant figure out why you
never saw them before. This tempts some people to jump to the
conclusion: Its Them. They (the squares, the Establishment
or what have you) dont want people to know this.
Theyre keeping it secret.
Now this doesnt make much sense, because
They would have to take LSD Themselves to have this particular
secret to keep and They dont. But the legal
restrictions on psychedelics add impetus for many to leap to this
implausible hypothesis, and to build on it a view of society
divided into the Good Guys and the Bad Guys.
There are two separate questions here: Why are
the psychedelics banned? and Why do you not ordinarily have the
degree of illumination that you have when youre high? I
doubt these questions have any connection with one another,
because the people who ban LSD dont know much about the
nature of the experience. Politicians who make laws are usually
motivated by a complex mixture of the desire to promote the
public welfare and the desire to promote their own careers,
conditioned always by what they know and what they dont
know. Some undoubtedly sincerely believe that LSD is dangerous,
and that passing a law can reduce the harm. Others may not give a
hoot about LSD, but see a chance to make political capital out of
the issue. What is extremely unlikely is that a group of evil men
in a smoke-filled room conspired to keep some cosmic secret from
the public knowledge.
The reason why you do not have a certain kind
of consciousness without the aid of LSD is probably just that
your nervous system doesnt work that way. Should it
work that way? Is the psychedelic state the natural state, which
you have been deprived of by your particular kind of upbringing?
I dont think so. There is no evidence
that any culture, anywhere, ever produced a race of permanently
turned-on individuals. The psychedelic state, which is suited for
contemplation and for overviewing the universe, is probably not
well suited to the kind of daily work that produces the
necessities of life. Remember that the psychotics and Holy Men
who are (somewhat romantically) supposed to have attained a
permanent high generally have to be supported by others.
Does this mean that you can take nothing of the
experience back with you? Obviously this is not so, since
psychedelic experiences seem to make such a profound impression
on those who have them. Any insight which you can formulate
verbally can be brought back, and will continue to be useful even
though it no longer has the emotional immediacy of the session.
Some of the ecstatic glow can be remembered, but only dimly; and
you will realize when you have a second session how much you had
forgotten. The effort to bring back and apply to your life what
you have learned from LSD is a continual challenge.
It is to be hoped that you will
not go back with an arrogant view of humanity that divides the
world into We who have Been There and They who have not. A sense
of community with your fellow LSD users is natural and good, but
if you sever your relations with non - users and look down on them
as squares you will become irrelevant, and your message will not
LETS CALL IT A DAY
is the commonest of session mistakes, and
perhaps the one least deserving of being called a game, since it
so often results from ignorance, rather than from any dishonesty
or evasion. It is simply the attempt to terminate the session too
An LSD session lasts at least 12 hours, more
often 16. But as you can see from the graph, there comes a time
between the fourth and sixth hours when the intensity of the
experience drops sharply and the remaining hours are a kind of
leveling out. This time has sometimes been called the
re-entry period. The re-entry period retains the
accelerated thoughts of the earlier parts of the session, with
somewhat more visual distortion and somatic sensations, and less
of the euphoria and flexibility of mood. It feels a lot more like
the normal state than the earlier hours, but it is not the normal
state. Most people who have not been told otherwise assume that
the session is over when they reach this point around the fifth
hour and try to go back to everyday activities, go out, eat
dinner or try to sleep.
This is a mistake, because rushing back to
everyday activities tends to dissipate the insights of the
session, and it also tends to be depressing or a
bringdown. Sleep is impossible, and premature
attempts usually make you uncomfortable. Eating too early in the
session can make you feel sick.
Actually some of the most valuable
work of the session can be done during re-entry. This is the time
when you can think over the insights of the session, from a
vantage point somewhat closer to your usual state. In fact
whether your experience is merely an isolated event or is
relevant to your life as a whole may depend largely on how you
use your re - entry time. Stay in one place, together with your session - mates. You can talk more now than you did before, but
periods of silence are still helpful. Sit quietly and meditate;
dont become distracted. This takes patience, because re-entry hours pass very slowly. By the eleventh hour it
is OK to eat a light meal or to go off by yourself if you want
to. After sixteen hours you should go to bed and get some sleep.
If you have difficulty sleeping at this time a light dose of
Librium or phenobarbital will help. You will be somewhat high
until you go to sleep.
A session is tiring enough without
staying up all night. Get a good nights sleep and start in
Shun mirrors. On LSD you probably
look awful to yourself in the mirror, probably because your
pupils are dilated, and you see all your pores. You dont really
look that bad.
Dont stare at a companion,
just because his face is changing into a multitude of different
forms. He doesnt know why youre staring.
Respect the undrugged state
you have to live in it. Write your memoranda in a form that will
make sense to you tomorrow.
To avoid bad session games:
Stay in one place
Dont talk too much
Be considerate of your companions
SO YOUVE HAD LSD
First of all, if you havent
had several hours sleep since you took the LSD, youre on the
wrong page. Go back to the page headed Lets Call It a
Day. Come back to this section tomorrow morning.
* * *
So youve had LSD. It was your own unique
experience. You may be wondering whether various aspects of your
session were typical or not. Undoubtedly some were and some
werent. Since you are a unique person, your experience was
not quite like anybody elses. If in the coming weeks you
find, talking it over with your friends, that something happened
to you which nobody else is expressing, that, at any rate, is
For the next several days you will experience a
mood which is a little different than your usual one. If the
session went well, youll probably feel better than usual.
But if the session was disappointing you may be depressed. If so
you should be aware that this is an after-effect which will go
away within about two days. The experience of an altered mood
after a session lasts about as long as the physiological
tolerance to LSD and may quite possibly have a physical, as well
as a psychological basis.
You may be wondering whether you should take
LSD again, and if so how soon? I advise waiting at least three
months. Why so long? Well hopefully this session has given you a
lot to think about. You should have time to work on integrating
what you have learned into your everyday life. After you have
lived with it for several months you can come back to LSD from a
new point on your life path and find new messages and new
meaning. But if you take LSD too frequently it can become a
disruptive force: instead of gaining strength and understanding
you may only become more confused. Also the experience may lose
its profundity, may become commonplace and ineffectual. In
general I find that the longer I wait for a session the more
meaningful and helpful it is.
(If this talk of meaning leaves you cold
because your experience wasnt very meaningful, it may be
that you got gypped on the dose, or it may be that your state of
mind kept you from letting go. Id still recommend waiting a
few months before trying again.)
I think most people, just after a session,
realize intuitively that they should not turn on again soon
but sometimes they forget how they felt and do it anyway.
Therefore you should make a decision now about how long you are
going to wait and stick to it.
If you do take LSD again, your next session
will be different from the first in fact each following
session will also be different. There is something very special
about a first session which is never quite repeated. Do not try
to repeat or relive past sessions, but be open to what each new
experience has to add to what you have learned.
Now that you have had this experience, why do
you do about it? People have been asking this question ever since
psychedelics were discovered, and it has never really been
answered. Do you go turn on everyone that you can (hoping that
maybe theyll figure out what to do about it)? Do you
emulate the hip crowd, adopting their psychedelic
fashions and jargon? Should you become a monk? Take up Buddhism
or astrology? To whom should you turn for advice?
A complicating factor is that at the present
time of writing (early 1967) the word psychedelic
seems to be an adjective that sells soap. A great deal that has
little relevance to the LSD experience goes under the name
psychedelic. Dont be hasty to plunge into what
somebody else calls psychedelic if it doesnt
make sense in terms of your experience. Suspend judgment on it
and see what sort of people are involved in it and where it is
leading them. The same goes for cults that other LSD users may
belong to. Cults and fads are transient. Try to distinguish them
from that which is of lasting truth in your experience.
Because the use of LSD is a controversial
social issue you will have to decide what part you will play in
the social and legal conflicts over this issue. It may be my own
bias, but I feel that everyone who owes something of value to LSD
should take some part. There is something eroding to
ones integrity about keeping silent and doing secretly what
others are going to jail for. Of course you do not want to go to
jail yourself and thus curtail the good you can do. It is
necessary to learn the law in your area (from the statutes, not
from rumor) and to learn for what people are prosecuted and for
what they are not. One is not, for instance, prosecuted for
writing or speaking out about his experience or the LSD issue in
general. Some may choose to be prosecuted in order to make a test
case, but this course of action is not for everyone, and if you
are considering something of the sort you should plan it very
carefully with the help of a lawyer.
The ways in which people incarnate
their vision are as individual as their lives, and this book can
go no further in telling you how to do it. You will find some of
the answer in your sessions and in your life experiences between
sessions. It may be as simple as living, or as difficult.
ON OTHER PSYCHEDELICS AND DOSAGE
What this book says about LSD goes also, in a
general way, for peyote, mescaline and psilocybin, and sometimes
for morning glory seeds and baby woodrose seeds, although these
latter dont seem to work for everybody. The main difference
is in timing.
While LSD takes effect within an hour,
mescaline requires a little longer, and peyote and morning glory
seeds take from three to four hours. The duration of the
experience is a little shorter with mescaline or peyote. I have
not taken psilocybin, but I am told that its effects last about
half as long as those of LSD.
When using peyote, mescaline, or seeds, there
is often some nausea. For this reason these substances should be
taken on an empty stomach, and a travel sickness pill such as
Dramamine taken along with them. If nausea occurs, lie down and
keep still; do not vomit before three hours have passed. Usually
the sickness will go away as you get higher. Nausea hardly ever
occurs with LSD; if it does it is all right to vomit, because the
LSD will no longer be in your stomach.
The psychedelic dimethyltryptamine
(DMT) has exceedingly brief effects (half an hour or less). For
this reason it seldom has the philosophical impact of the other
psychedelics. The quick-and-easy quality of DMT sometimes leads
to its over-frequent use and resultant cheapening of the
psychedelic experience. This drug should be used no more often
The beginner should take a full dose, if
anything one that is a bit on the large side to help overcome
resistance. Later you may find that a smaller dose is adequate
for you. There is no reason to take a larger dose than is
necessary to induce the psychedelic experience, as these excess
quantities are probably just wasted. Adequate starting doses are
LSD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . 200 to 400 micrograms
Mescaline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. 500 to 800 milligrams
Psilocybin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . 40 to 60 milligrams
Peyote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . ½ to ¾ oz. dried peyote
Morning glory seeds (Heavenly Blue or other
common blue or white varieties) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 to 400 seeds ground
fine (or about 2 table spoons ground seeds)
Baby woodrose seeds (Argyreia nervosa) .
. . 10 to 18 seeds (ground)
Never take a partial dose of morning glory
seeds or baby woodrose seeds, as this usually causes sickness
and little else. With other psychedelics it is possible to use
small doses for lesser experiences or to accompany someone who is
taking a full dose. Quantities of LSD as small as ten micrograms
have a noticeable effect; probably 25 micrograms is an adequate
small dose for most people. The duration of the session is about
the same as with a full dose.
It is appalling, but true, that one who buys
LSD today often does not know what he is getting. The cap that is
said to contain 500 micrograms may contain only 100, or it may
contain amphetamine or other adulterants. This is because of the
elimination of open competition that results whenever a commodity
is forced underground. There is no remedy except to boycott
dealers who cheat, and the amateur often has no sure way of
knowing whether he has been cheated. As a minimal precaution, I
advise boycotting any so-called LSD that comes in a
capsule. Because of the extremely small quantities of LSD that go
to make up a dose, the logical and most convenient way of
distributing it is to put it in liquid solution; the solution can
then be dripped onto a sugar cube or absorbent paper. Putting it
in a capsule is inconvenient, and the only motivation for doing
so that I can think of would be to add other, bulkier drugs to
the mixture, which, because of their greater volume, could not
easily be dissolved in a few drops of liquid. If you buy cubes,
paper, or liquid solution, you may be short-changed, but at least
you will not be consuming unknown drugs. It is not true that the
cubes degenerate rapidly. Any reasonably pure LSD
that is shielded from light should remain potent at room
temperature for at least a year.