I’m Grateful To The Healing Power of Psychedelics: I Would Not Be Alive Today Without Them

Photo: Courtesy of Linnae Ponte


by David

on August 11, 2014

I can honestly say that I would not be living today if it was not for the powers of psychedelic medicines. They are called drugs commonly and just like any drug they can be abused. But if you are sick, inside in the soul, their use can be positively miraculous.

My first experience with psychedelics started in my high school years with cannabis and LSD. I experienced both good and bad times with them usually depending on the people and setting. I was just experimenting and had some fun but never really experienced much more than colors, munchies, giggles, distortion and trails visually. Maybe a few prescient moments of unity or clarity but it was fleeting and forgotten.

My background and childhood was full of abuse and neglect as many others would have experienced growing up in America. You can say I was taught to be fearful and distrusting of other humans. So much so that when push came to shove around college financially, I was eager to join the military and had no qualms about being trained to kill.

My short lived military career ended early after a few years with an honorable discharge for medical reasons related to a training accident while parachuting with the Airborne Infantry. Shortly after returning to the “civilian world and failing miserably to re-integrate in college life, I became deeply mired in depression and, eventually, worse. The pain and isolation I felt was also accompanied by an intense trained alertness and anxiety, not to mention a load of guilt. I had a few intense weeks of suicidal crisis. I said to myself nightly, “I can’t take this pain anymore. “ With a loaded shotgun in one hand and bottle of whisky in the other I told myself: “One or both of these is going in my mouth tonight to make it stop.”

Great fortune smiled upon me in the chance meeting of a new friend. This new person must have seen I was a wreck, but he was also a well-connected drug dealer in the LA underground rave scene. The game I played with myself called “How many days will I go without anyone talking to me” was interrupted with invitations to come out with him to parties. Nearly every night I was being led into events, VIP like a rockstar, and playing body guard to my friend while he dosed everybody and stuffed his pockets full of cash. The scene wasn’t into the “hard” drugs like meth, coke or heroin etc. It was about P.L.U.R. back then (Peace Love Unity and Respect). People were focused on drugs that made you feel more of the experience and connect to others: MDMA ecstasy, LSD/acid, psilocybin mushrooms, GHB, ketamine, nitrous oxide / whippets and, of course, lots of weed.

I never really understood “dancing” before, except for slam dancing to hardcore punk in the ’80s. I was afraid and thought people would mock me if I was to show emotions on the dance floor.

Now that I had regular access to good quality psychedelics and an incredibly vibrant and caring scene to experience them in, I began to change. I started to open up and to make new friends. I started to share myself with others and gained a new social confidence. This was just the staging ground or pre-flight training I needed to shed my suicidal tendencies and begin the path to heal myself.

One night I went to an outdoor event in mountains outside of LA at an old abandoned Santa’s Village. It was here that I met others that were holding their own underground events, but they were different. These events were way out in the Mojave Desert. They were free “gatherings” not parties. They were invite only, due to the potential of thousands of people arriving and causing a crisis. They were kept small and exclusive. Society has created sub-cultures for us to filter out the people who aren’t “like us” –– and with a multi-hour journey and a secret location, the filter was tight. If you made it out to the event, you were greeted as family. This was a prototype community of techno hippies. I was greeted with unconditional acceptance and a strong hug. I was called “brother” and offered food, shelter and most of all, love.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I now had the magic combination of factors that would provide the fertile grounds where I could heal myself.

1. Quality psychedelic / ego dissolving substances in quantity
2. Expansive natural environment to explore and remind yourself of your place in the world
3. People near me who I trusted that cared for me and understand my journey

Taking psychedelic drugs for most people is an experiment or recreational party experience. They take a dose that is just a shallow exposure. It may be very intense and last a long time but they are still mentally and physically one person. They have fun and party and wake up mostly the same as they were.

When you have that trifecta of factors, it’s like having a net to catch you. You probably will never need the net, but knowing it’s there will give you the strength to step out on the wire. You can take a dose that is what I call “non-recreational” or medicinal. A dose that is sufficient to release you from the physical and bring into the Space of No Ego or Truth or, as some fear, a mental death and a dissolving of ego.

I began to take larger doses and challenge myself to face my fears. Fear is very powerful and the experience of fear under intense psychedelics creates in some the dreaded “bad trip.” I believe most people experience the typical bad trip because they have taken a sufficient dose to go see the spirit world but still cling to the physical in fear and desperation. “I just wanted to play and have fun, not take a space ship to the center of creation.”

I didn’t deliberately set out to, but when I took mushrooms for the first time and I steadily nibbled myself into a new state of being. I was slowly realizing I could not understand people and couldn’t speak coherently. My thoughts were coming too fast. I was overwhelmed by information. Sounds and sights were distracting and I had great difficulty moving or organizing the simplest of tasks. Fear began to take over and I was feeling panicked. Instinctually I walked away from the gathering and people and out to the rocks under the full moon. I didn’t want to be a burden on others and to have to be “that guy” who couldn’t hang. I walked away and sat with myself, the rocks and the moon.

My anxiety was in full rage and I could barely breathe. Suddenly in flash I had a feeling of peace come over me. It came from the rocks I was sitting on. I was shown the vast expanse of time that the rocks had been exposed to the harsh desert. These rocks are some the oldest known formations on the planet and I was informed that whatever I was going through was just fine. The rocks lent me there strength and enveloped me as a child. I relaxed and breathed deep.

Shortly after sitting I realized that I couldn’t get back up. I was “floored” and I was filled with thoughts and visions of my past. All the things people had said to me that hurt, the issues in my life I had avoided, the guilt and regrets all rushed at me. The terms facing your demons would make sense in this case. I won’t lie, I was terrified. I was unable to escape it. The fear eventually manifested into an ebony black carved witches mask like ones you see in a Balinese museum, with black hair and a long nose. It was staring me down and would not leave me. I remember asking, “Why won’t you leave me alone?” The mask just stared and hovered closer.

I was in a space that is impossible to describe unless you have been there to feel it. My conscious mind was completely humbled and I was physically incapacitated. Helpless really. It was in this “truth space” where I could not even lie to myself, that I experienced something new. I somehow was able to see myself from another perspective. As if I was standing ten feet or so away from myself. But this other self, he had no fear about what he saw. Only compassion and strength. After a few minutes this other self had gathered the courage to confront the witch. I, or it, walked up to the mask and looked behind it only to discover the mask was empty. I looked through it and saw only myself on the other side. I realized now that I was projecting that mask. The mask was my protector from others. I wore that mask to scare others away from me before they could hurt me. After this epiphany the mask was gone and I was able to see the beauty of my natural surrounding again.

Next I was presented with a task. I can’t say why or how, but I was given a set of imaginary cards like a Tarot deck. I sat on the rocks and examined the cards. They were visual representations of the “makings” of my life. Each card held powers, memories and experiences. Some were deemed positive and useful and I was grateful for them. Others were negative and destructive to me now and I wanted them to be gone. The only problem was, in order to get rid of a card, I had to replace it with a new one. I slowly pondered my choices and reconfigured my deck for the maximum positive I could muster. I left behind a lot of suffering, anger, guilt and pain. When the cards left the deck, they dissolved into the sands below me. I then manifested the new cards to replace them and slowly started to come back to the Mojave and eventually was able to stand and return to the gathering. I danced and rejoiced with a reborn soul. I cried with joy at the sunrise and the beauty of my surroundings.

This would be just the first in a series of deliberate and ritualistic experiences that later I created for myself. I dubbed them “Thank You Rituals” because afterwards, that’s the most common thing that would fill my thoughts. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” After the initial rounds of demon slaying, I could dance and be happy and rejoice with others in gratitude. I found that creating a situation most supportive to healing and growth was based in preparation and intention.

After healing myself first, I would then send my love, thoughts and prayers to others. I used the moon as a focus. I know that the moon is a reflector. Its light is not its own but is reflected from the sun. I could send my prayers to the moon and it would shine down to the whole world and when others saw it they would be in its light and receive my love and gratitude.

These experiences are not recreational or easy by any means. However they seem to be needed in a semi-regular basis to shed the layers of sediment that life deposits upon us all. I am by no means “cured” from the negative experiences of life. But I was personally transformed for the positive. I look back at photo albums from before the experience, and after. The difference is shocking and obvious. Prior to my experiences, I took photos of buildings, sculptures, and landscapes. Afterwards my photos are full of people. Happy, smiling, friendly people. I went as far as taking Polaroids so I could share them. (Remember the world before digital photos?) I made several books I later called “Happy Books” that I could use to remind myself of how I love humanity now.

Before, I was fine with jumping from airplanes at night to shoot at strangers and throw hand grenades at them. I now know firsthand that the there is a higher power that exists in the universe. I know that that higher power or consciousness expresses itself in an overwhelming unconditional love for me and others. I learned that there is thin veil of reality that can be breeched into what some would call the Spirit World. One of the ways that humans get there is through drugs that come from plants that are made illegal by most governments.

The recent testimonies of Amber Lyon and the others here at Reset.me have inspired me to share my experiences. Healing is a process and I still have issues that I want to resolve, both new and old. I liken us human beings to a piece of sticky candy. If you drop it in the dirt and pick it back up, the candy is covered and all you see is dirt. This dirt can be the daily grind and insecurities we all experience or more serious trauma. Regardless, it can be removed and or mitigated. These healing psychedelic experiences allow us to shed our layers and be closer to the compassionate, conscious person who we are meant to be, instead of the dirt life’s traumas have covered us in.

I hope that my word describing my own personal journey can be of help to others. Others describe an ability to reach these healing states in other ways. Fasting, yoga, dance, etc., seem to trigger our bodies own way of generating this chemicals within our own system. I can personally attest to the healing / spiritual properties of the compounds present in cannabis, MDMA, MDA, DMT, mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, and salvia divinorum. Taken in the right dose and setting, you can generate the compassion to forgive yourself as well as others. You can experience an altered perspective to find solutions and insight into your life to unwind from a downward spiral into oblivion and discover that this world we live in is beautiful and worth living in.

Happy and safe travels.