Updated: Oct 18
From Magic Mushrooms to Lucid Dreams: How I discovered objective truth from the subjective experience
By guest author: James S. Bray
Searching For Answers
The first time I tried magic mushrooms felt like a revelation. I had, up to that point, spent more time than I’d care to admit searching for answers and meaning in varying religions and esoteric concepts, to no avail. Much to my dismay, no ancient books or new age ideas held any water. All of my questions had remained unanswered and, as a result, I had made a realization which pushed me over the tipping point from curiosity about psychedelics into a full-blown necessity to have a psychedelic experience. I stood at a precipice. Behind me was conquered ground; I was still relatively fresh out of high school, my life had changed from the structure of school into the drudgery of 9-5 and, although things had changed drastically, I remained much the same. In front of me were about seven small Psilocybe Cubensis, dried for consumption, totalling about 3.5 grams. My high school sweetheart was to my side, the same amount in front of her. There was a tension in the air as the moment unfolded. I began the task of chewing the mushrooms, putting them in one after another. By the time I had finished, all that was left to do was wait. I stood at the precipice and I had jumped.
The Journey Begins
First, I began to feel a slight mood elevation. After a while, this turned into full-blown euphoria. At this point, I made my way to a mirror to get a glance at my pupils. This task did not disappoint; my eyes were basically black, save for a thin rem of brown that had once been my iris. It was then that I realized something was coming at me. The future was on its way and I knew not what it would hold. My face didn’t quite seem to be my own, every detail was sharp and bright but the features were not of a recognizable proportion. As I walked back to the common area, my skin feeling damp and ill-fitted, the memories of earlier in the day became alive in the space around me. Sitting back on my familiar floral loveseat, it too seemed to be alive. The individual flowers swayed, stretched, shrunk, and even seemed to make their way off of the fabric from time to time. As memory became more tangible, I found myself playing back pleasant interactions with my friends that had occurred in the room from weeks prior. As I did this, I could see them quite clearly in my mind’s eye—although what was defined as “mind’s eye” was becoming ever more free-form. It was a sense that, by recalling these memories, they began to occur in the same physical space that I occupied. Suddenly, the room was not merely the two of us, but it was a focal point where time converged and was occurring all at once. Each moment, each memory, seemed to be right there in the room with us.
Honestly, as intriguing as all this might sound, my first trip was really nothing to write home about. As far as mushroom experiences go, mine was relatively standard, save for a pretty good conversation I had with a lawn gnome that I kept in the loft area. There was also a notable experience of true empathy; a feeling I had not realized the potency of until my experience. This moment of empathy occurred when my then girlfriend had asked me to put a damp cloth on her face. As I did so, her eyelids closed over her resplendent pupils and the most satisfied smile I had ever seen spread itself out across her face. She remarked that she had never been happier and I, seeing the bliss shining from her, had never felt happier from observing happiness of another person. The sun shining in the windows had illuminated the space, seeming to make colors brighter, and the present moment unfolded for about five solid hours. I tried to grasp the passage of time, but was unable to do so; for every moment felt like the same stoic and immortal presence during that time. Still, the direction of the light rays passing through the blinds changed at a snail’s pace, a time lapse of a thousand years, until it disappeared and I found myself sobering up at twilight.
Tripping into Lucidity
The trip was nice, to say the least. I would easily put it in the top five best experiences of my life. While the effects of the entheogen had disappeared, I could no longer say that I felt the same. Something had fundamentally changed. I had jumped off a cliff and landed in the calming waters below, but to say that I expected what happened next would be a boldfaced lie. It turned out that my journey had not come to a close, but it had not even begun at all. After an excited debriefing of what had happened over a light meal, I settled into bed to have my first taste of what would, unbeknownst to me, become a lifelong passion. The mushrooms were not themselves the journey, though they had seemed to be; they were merely the opening of a door, which was first entered upon falling asleep. It was in the midst of my slumber that I realized something was amiss. I found myself in the downstairs of my house, passively looking at the objects around me. I moved through the doorway from the dining room to the living room and found myself staring at the darkened television screen. As I stood there, I realized two things:
1) I was not walking, but floating without a body. 2) I was asleep in the room above me.
As these facts occurred, I woke up in bed with a start. What was that? To my mind at the time, I had just had my first out-of-body experience. I returned to sleep, still drained from the excitement of the day.
Sometime later, I again found myself in my living room. The lights were all off, but I noticed a light source coming from one of the walls. As I looked, I saw a bit of parchment paper nailed to the wall, with a dim blue light emanating from it. I walked up to the paper and tried to read what was written, but I could not make sense of the strange symbols on the page. It was at this moment that I had finally made a proper assessment of my situation; I was dreaming. Upon achieving lucidity (though I had not known what to call it at the time), I began to marvel at everything that was around me. Everything seemed so right. Everything was in its place and had a sharpness of detail that I didn’t think was possible in a dream. The only oddity was how well I could see in the dark. I walked around the downstairs area of the stunning replica of my house and couldn’t find anything out of place. At this point, it occurred to me that I was in bed sleeping in the rooms above—this I just had to see. I made my way to the stairs and looked up to find that a light was on upstairs. The light poured down the staircase in high contrast to the darkness behind me. I took every step consciously, not knowing what to expect.
Would I be there in bed? What would it mean if I were?
As I rounded the corner where the staircase turned, my expectations could not have prepared me for what I saw. A rope was hanging from the centre of the ceiling and, impossibly attached to the end of it, was a human skull. Its ominous vibes radiated towards me, making me feel quite uneasy. It was then that I took a moment to reason. If I was, indeed, in my dream and aware of it, then surely I was able to have some say of what occurred. Granting that small leap, I was left with no other option but to try. I told the skull to become the first harmless thing that came to mind, which happened to be a flower. Still, the skull remained and my gaze caught its eyeless sockets. It was too much of a distraction to look at it, so I held out my hand and blocked the view. Again, I told the skull that it was a flower, with intent. It’s just a harmless flower and nothing more. I removed my hand and, to my surprise, saw the beautiful head of a sunflower, with fuchsia petals. With one disaster averted, I turned my attention to the left at the door to my bedroom.
The door was cracked slightly open and I could see nothing but darkness in the next room. This was it. This all seems quite dramatic, but imagine that you were standing outside of a doorway and knew that you were sleeping in the next room. Your body in the next room is an empty shell, for your experience of what it is to be you is completely outside of what you ordinarily consider yourself. Your body is there, but you are here. That was, at least, how I perceived the situation. Of course, this is one of the little quirks of the dreaming mind that, if you are lucid, your expectations become your reality. I was completely unaware of this fact at the time and was simply trying to make sense of what was happening. I cautiously pushed the door open, with a small creak, and stepped inside. There I was in bed and here I stood at the foot of it. This was all so strange and confusing. Is this an illusion? There was only one way to find out. I walked to the side of the bed and looked into my sleeping face. Slowly, I held out my hand toward him, his chest moving up and down on each breath, and touched his arm. It was then that all bets were off. As soon as I touched him, I was instantly teleported into the body, with one major difference; my head was at his feet and I was facing the bed instead of the ceiling. It was as if my experience was from the point of view of the back of his heels. Or, more accurately, it was as if my spirit was upside down and backwards in my body; I felt both bodies at once. After a moment of this, the dream collapsed and I woke up in bed, normal once more.
Waking Up to a New Reality
Needless to say, this was a rather eerie experience to have had and completely outside of what was expected, even during the day before. I had no idea magic mushrooms could make such things possible, especially after their effects had seemed to wear off. Of course, I was no longer under its effects, which became abundantly clear in the recurrence of more unintended lucid dreams throughout the next several weeks. It became almost a nightly routine that, at least once, I could expect to have a lucid dreaming experience, no matter how brief. Some of these experiences were embarrassingly short; if the dream had been aware it would have sighed and asked “Is that all?” Other lucid dreams were incredibly long and vivid, leaving the impression that my dreams might just be a completely separate space of objective reality. But, slowly, the dreams occurred less and less until I realized one day that I hadn’t had a lucid dream in over a week. It was then that I was forced to learn the practices from the ground up. I knew there was something more to be explored in them. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but I had to know what else was possible. After I had integrated the regular lucid dreaming practices into my life—the dream journal and reality checks—they began occurring again in just a few short weeks.
Of course, there was quite a lot that I had to learn beyond those two devices, and even beyond all of the induction techniques. Further still, beyond stabilization; there was a lot more to be learned. The questions posed from my experiences led me down a rabbit hole that took years to make any rational sense. That journey began about 8 years ago now. My first mushroom trip had been everything that I had hoped it would be and more. It had, as the most gracious stroke of luck, given me a set of experiences that far surpassed what had been on offer. As a consequence, I had found a lifelong passion and a means to explore the deeper side of what it means to exist as a human, on the surface a tiny bubble in the vast expanse of the universe. My experiences not only gave me further questions to explore, but these detours actually provided me with a way to answer the ones I had been asking for years, without success. I had, through the trivial decision to decide to take a psychedelic, discovered a means of exploring the nature of what I thought might be some external existence beyond what we can ordinarily perceive. With time, experience, and heavy documentation, I was able to come to terms with the meaning that I had so desperately needed in life.
By probing my dreams with the scientific method, with experimentation and documentation, I was able to conclude that all of the ancient texts and new age esotericism were trying to get at the same thing. That thing is the possibilities within the subjective experience. When we talk of meaning and purpose, some think of a god or of some sort of unifying force underneath it all. We want peace, joy, and a good future; we look for these things in the traditions of old, but these traditions fall short. I tested the bounds of my own subjective experience in lucid dreams throughout the years and found that out-of-body experiences were misunderstood lucid dreams. I found that the tales of old gods and the powers that be existed within a space of mind, not a space of objective reality.
I found that the answers that books like the Bible tried to explain were merely thoughts; an appearance of profundity in consciousness. These profundities could be explored to the fullest in lucid dreams. I could meet face-to-face with gods and devils and I could cast them away just as quickly as any other thought. They do not exist. I exist. We exist. Consciousness is capable of so many wonderful, life-changing experiences, merely by interacting with itself in a space all its own. Through these experiences, I was uncovering facts about what it means to be, far better than any book could ever express. I found my subjective truths in the space of lucid dreams and, in waking life; I found objective truths in further capabilities of the mind. I discovered more and more facts that we humans had uncovered about reality, brick by brick, by utilizing the scientific method. The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how lucky we all are to have consciousness and intelligence. We have a means to understand existence far better than any of those who came before us, because of the work of all of those who came before us.
I discovered the missing puzzle piece that opened up reality like a good book that I hope will never end, and I did it all by standing at the precipice and plunging into the unknown, by way of the psychedelic experience. I have no doubt that I was incredibly lucky for things to occur as they did, but I am by no means special. We all, as humans, have the ability to explore the very depths of being through lucid dreams. How I came into it might be different, but it is a skill that can be learned. So, dear reader, it is now that I appeal to your sense of adventure. If you are hungry for answers, as I once was, I implore you to learn about lucid dreaming and to apply the principles to your own life. What you encounter will not only surprise you, but it will change you in ways you cannot yet understand. I wish you good luck on your journey. May it bring you the same, much-needed peace that brought me. Happy travels.
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James S. Bray has been a practicing oneironaut for nearly a decade and an active participant in the online lucid dreaming community for the past five years. He began creating lucid dreaming related videos, reviews, and tutorials on his YouTube channel in 2012, under the pseudonym SpaceTimeBadass. James is also a member of Team Lucid Dream.
You can find James on all social medias @SpaceTimeBadass.