The Peyote Experience
Of a Man
Who Lost His

It was 1962, just before I put KRAB on the air. Some of the other radio people and I had been experimenting with uranium power, a highly concentrated fuel called peyote.

In those days, it was all quite legal, so I ordered up a hundred buds from Lawson's Cactus Gardens of San Antonio, Texas. The peyote came, along with a refund of $4.11 and a crabbed letter from Mr. Lawson explaining in detail how I had paid too much. The whole was franked with a Texas Department of Agriculture seal of approval.

My friend Julie --- who claimed to have a PhD in Dopeology from Ken Kesey University in Palo Alto --- showed us how to take the buttons, cut off the grey fur, and cook them at 250 degrees in the oven to dry them out. After 24 hours, we ground them up, the stinky little nasty shrivelled things (they looked just like shrivelled monkey-cock) and stuffed them in Double-O gelatin capsules. When take-off time arrived, we swallowed them down with lemon juice to counteract the alkalinity and Pepto-Bismol to make our stomachs stop revolting.

The first time, Julie, Warren and I sat around for a few hours, waiting for something to happen. After awhile, I said that this was pretty dumb, since all it did was to make me feel like puking. I looked over at my friend Warren for agreement, but he had turned into Prince Hamlet. Which was pretty silly, since there was no dramatic performances called for in the evening's script. I turned back to Julie to complain about this play-acting, and she became the great pink warm Gaia mother-of-us-all. She began to intone,

Round and round it goes, and round;
Where it stops, there it will round
In the roundness of knowledge,
back into itself.

"Where in God's name did she get that one," I said. She was a goddess, and I never knew it before. Not only was she a goddess --- she was profound. "Holy-Moly," I said (by this time, I had turned into Captain Marvel). I looked around me, shifting my muscles under my cape, overwhelmed by it all, the colors, these colors that had started leaking out of the woodwork, from under the door, down through the skylight, colors turning, twisting, slowly, a fog of glorious dark colors invading the room.

Like pain, or religious conversion, or love --- drug visions are peculiar to the individual. The knot-holes in the walls of the house began to speak to me, in my own voice. Captain Marvel flew out the window. An army of marching Chinese came through the living room, shuffling through, on their way out the door, into eternity (for all I know, they are still there, shuffling through). They were followed by a noisy (but large) herd of baying hounds, the Hounds of the Baskervilles.

I looked down. As I did so, my eyes made a great swiveling sound --- can't you hear it? --- because I had turned into Gargantua. My face was as big as the moon; my eyes were as huge as Jupiter's Moons.

My hand! What had become of it? Remember that saying, "I knew it like the back of my hand." Well, I can now tell you that's a very foolish thing to say, because I now know that no-one knows the back of their hand. I certainly didn't recognize mine.

It had became the hand of the colossus! Strange that I had never noticed it before. Those fingers, those folds, the bends, the veins, the shape of it --- David's hand, Blake's hand, God's hand. I held it up, and like a great snake, it bent and turned and moved and twisted before me.

It was time to make a journey, a great journey, a long journey, and a difficult one --- one little different from The Odyssey. It was time to go to the bathroom.

After a few years, I rose and passed though the great, solid door of the bathroom. The floor of the shower, rough concrete, had turned into a mass of miniature volcanoes, puffing up little smoke-rings. As I pissed, the commode began to be filled with a hundreds of tiny, red-string snakes. "How beautiful this void," I said to myself. I was afraid I was offending the toilet by what I was doing, but then it turned out that it was a friendly old man --- friendly Mr. Toilet, mouth wide, ready to accept anything I chose to give him.

When I looked in the mirror, there was this stranger glowering at me from behind the glass. The more I looked at him, the more ominous he became, but then his face began to melt like an ice-cream cone; I looked down in the sink, and there he was, tutti-frutti. As I turned away he disappeared, completely, into the void. "Wow!" I said. "!"

Well, after a century or so, I managed to find my way back to the other room (not without many alarums and excursions), and I stood there for a long time, watching Hamlet and Gaia motionless on the floor. I opened my mouth, but before I could say anything, this noisy stranger chimed in: "You know, I know, at least I think I know, or know I think I know (pause for a week --- they didn't notice) I know I've taken this pee before." It was very queer: that stranger --- the one I thought I had left behind in the bathroom --- right here, talking just like me, probably thinking he was me. "There's someone missing," I thought.

I wondered if Hamlet or The Gaia noticed the change in my face, the fact that I had aged so much in the last eon between the time I was with them on the floor, and the time I had gone and come back from the bathroom. I looked at my watch on the bedtable. It was huge, stuffed with minutes, days, hours. Time was moving so slowly they didn't have time to get out.

Hamlet was no longer there, nor was Julie. The two of them had turned into the Himalayas. It was time for me to go to Tibet, I thought --- time to make the slow journey up the tortuous mountain passes, to find the master, the perfect master I had been seeking all my life. I lay down next to the mountains, to prepare for my great journey, upwards, to find the truth, on the snow-capped peaks growing all about me.

§     §     §

Everyone has stories like this, and although the nightmares of some subsequent journeys made me give it up forever, the god of the peyotl plant taught me one thing. He (or she) (or it) taught me that what we call Reality is an Agreement, and nothing else.

We make a contract with ourselves, and with the world --- that says that walls will be walls and people will be people and universes will be universes.

Whenever we choose, however --- and one can choose through madness, self-analysis, meditation, or peyote --- whenever we choose, we can break this agreement, about Reality, turn it away, or upside down.

I know now why peyote, LSD, and all these gentle drugs are the subject of so much propaganda and villification on television and radio, in the press, by the politicoes.

If people were to learn that what we call Reality depends on such a very fragile agreement --- an agreement made between one's self and the universe --- then I suspect too many of our operating systems (institutionalized fear, human isolation, economic competition, social hostility) would disappear.

Thank god so few people know about it.

--- P. P. McFeelie

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