If you’ve been keeping up with our reports you know that our last attempt at a shared trip didn’t go exactly as planned. Aunty more than made up for that by giving us a wonderous solo trip at home. Yet it never feels quite right unless we’re in it together. It took a few months but we managed to make our way back up into the mountains this weekend. The universe had something truly magical to share with us; ghost trees, thunderstorms and moonbeams.
Our trip reports aren’t written in the traditional way. We aren’t trying to describe a narrative of what happened, that is mostly a pointless activity. Rather, we use these report to help ourselves integrate the experience into our normal lives, and share some wisdom and themes with all of you.
setting the intention
Before you try to achieve any kind of psychedelic state it is imperative that you form an intention. Without an intention it will be difficult to control the shape of your trip. The intention becomes an echo throughout the experience that keeps things on the right track. An intention also helps you to integrate and rationalize what happened after the fact.
For this trip, we set a simple intention: positivity. We’ve been suffering from depression these past few months, along with most of the world. We wanted to use this trip to help break that cycle and get us back on the path to becoming a happier person.
Notably our intention was not to cure our depression. We’ve found that setting specific intentions like that will lead to frustration. The psychedelic state is not easily controlled as the ego is weakened or erased entirely. Trying to solve a problem or fix some issue with yourself will prevent you from experiencing what the universe has to teach. Don’t try to stay sober while tripping.
The music changes
We use music to help us control our trips and mark specific timings such as the come-up, peak and come-down, as well as filler songs for bathroom and water breaks. Aunty is mysteriously good at arranging our playlist. She has a 6th sense for how a song will sound in the psychedelic state, and how various songs flow together. She spends many hours each week digging through piles of candidate songs to find the true gems.
We’ve been doing this type of thing for quite a long time now, over 20 years, and have accumulated a lot of musical baggage in that time. What we mean by that is there are certain songs that have tremendous meaning to us, either personally or as a couple. These songs have been on our playlist for such a long time that their meaning is washing away, we keep them more out of habit than anything.
The universe does not like habits, loops, it wants to experience new things. People who stop seeking new things, stop growing, will become numb to the world. The same thing can happen with music, no matter how important a song is to you it will become boring with enough repetition.
Knowing this, Aunty is constantly updating our playlist. So much so that she now has over 16 hours of incredible content. Trips shouldn’t last that long though, and we don’t have time for boring songs. Songs like Don’t Call Me Baby, Southside and Better Off Alone have been with us since our early days raving the nights away. While these tracks are excellent, they no longer fit with the vibe we’re trying to build. It’s time to update things.
We love to trip in nature, it helps us to reconnect with who we really are. The idea of tripping with a blindfold on, as is often done in clinical settings feels wrong to us. We’d rather explore our inner mind through meditation and self reflection, not the psychedelic state. Psychedelics take away your ego, they break your separation from nature, being in nature will amplify those feelings.
Aunty calls the new music she’s bringing into our trips “Nurturing” music. This is in the sense that mother nature nurtures the earth to form trees and flowers. Or the sense that parents nurture their children. She is looking for music that builds on that theme, music that helps us nurture the universe within us.
Artists like Banco de Gaia, Ambar Lucid, Eluvium and Tokimonsta are slowly creeping into our playlist. This was the first trip where we got to hear many of these songs as they were meant to be heard. These artists produce a wide variety of music so choosing the right songs is so important, and that is what Aunty excels at.
Banco de Gaia’s Obsidian for example sounds like basic spa music while sober, under the influence however this track will shatter the universe before your eyes and put it back together in an entirely new way.
While we love Puggy’s music, specifically Lonely Town and Anything for You. These songs have always been challenging for us, while beautiful, they make us cry and often change the tune of the trip entirely. Aunty did something truly incredible for this trip, she repaired the emotional journey in this set of songs. By placing Kintsugi, again by Banco de Gaia, between them the trajectory changes. Rather than a heartbreakingly sad song, Anything for You transforms into a glorious celebration of love.
While music is clearly important to us, being with nature is even more important. For this trip we visited a home high up in the mountains, positioned on a ridge overlooking a deep valley. Being later in the season the weather was turning colder, this produces a powerful fog that rises from the valley and covers everything. The fog moves with the wind in swirling lifting patterns, you can imagine what a treat is it to sit and watch this display.
We always follow Aunty’s guide while preparing to trip. To really experience this you must shed the “skin” of this world, it is the only way to remember who we really are. We are not trying to hang onto our egos, in fact quite the opposite. To help with that we need a buffer between normal life and the trip. This buffer comes in the form of spending the first day sober and exploring the physical world we plan to trip in.
To kick off the weekend, we hiked a trail we knew, and watched the sunset, we stopped and picked acorns to plant back home. We also walked the property the house was built on, exploring every corner, every tree, every rock. We try to guess which of these will be meaningful during the trip.
The ghost tree
Both of us guessed that a large tree near the edge of the ridge line would be that all star. Something about its size and shape, and its isolation as the only large tree in that area would make it special. Little did we know just how special it would turn out to be.
We knew before we arrived that the weather might turn to rain during our stay, however the reports were always changing. We’d check one day and it would be all clear, the next 90% chance of rain. This type of weather produces even more fog in these mountains, so much that you will not be able to see anything more than 20 feet away from you. It’s truly white-out conditions.
The fog is not a solid wall, it moves as the wind shifts. During rainy or stormy weather the wind will shift often moving the fog closer and further away from you. We call this tree the ghost tree as it would disappear into the fog. A massive, majestic tree and it just vanishes, completely hidden in the fog. Then minutes later it fades back into view, sometimes a dark silhouette of itself and other times bursting with color.
We grew up in the Midwest United States, as did Aunty. Our childhood was marked by thunderous storms and mighty lightning strikes. We grew to love the sounds and energy of these storms. Where we live now it barely rains, much less storms, we can’t remember the last time we’ve had a real storm in this area.
We’ve never tripped in a thunderstorm before. The idea may sound frightening to you, however consider that without an ego you will not have a perspective from which to be scared. You will be the storm and the storm will be you. So we were hopeful that a storm would hit, but accepting that it is impossible to time such things. How wrong we were.
As we sat and watched the amazing dance of the swirling fog and the ghost tree we noticed the sky getting darker. We knew there was a chance for a storm, however we never thought ourselves lucky enough to witness one in the daytime. Then, right at the peak of our trip the thunder started rumbling in the distance.
At first we couldn’t tell if it was real, this is often a problem as you may know, however at some point thunder becomes impossible to second guess. When the lightning started there was no denying it, the universe was giving us a storm. And we needed it. We remembered how dry and parched the land was while we were walking the trails and around the property. It was as if the mountainside was screaming out for rain in a way only we could hear.
Rain was delivered, torrents of it. The home had windows on all sides and skylights throughout the ceiling. This gave us the ability to stand in the middle of a storm and experience the true power that nature can bring. With each crack of lightning or boom of thunder the house trembled and the fog lit up like a laser light show. We danced for joy in the center of the room, this was a dream come true for us. Hitting our peak at the moment the storm broke out was a gift only the universe can give.
We have no idea how long the storm lasted, time has little meaning in these states. It lasted through what would have been a sunset. While the sun was hidden by clouds, being so high in the mountains means you can see a long way. You can see all the way to the cities below. Cities produce a surprising amount of light at night. Through the fog the cities below produced an almost second sun’s worth of light. We were able to see clearly for many hours after what should have been sunset, despite the ongoing storm.
This effect was mind boggling to us at the time, so we took many photos to try to make sense of it. We remember running around the house worried that we had left some bright light on. Aunty was taking photos of the lights through the fog, but we couldn’t make sense of what we were seeing and still aren’t entirely sure where all that light was coming from.
As night fell, the sky cleared. We took a long bath, an important ritual at the end of a trip to help cleanse the body, but also to wash away those parts of yourself that you don’t want to take back home with you. Feeling nice and warm, we braved the cold outdoor air to do some star gazing.
The universe rewarded our bravery with a light show that still seems surreal to us, despite the numerous photos we have proving it happened. The foggy air, not as heavy as before but still present produced true moon beams through the tree branches. This was awe inspiring in us, and helped to cap off what was easily the best trip we’ve taken together. That is saying a lot coming from us.
While we love the mountains, the trees, the smells, the silence — this was our fourth trip in a row up there. Each time we visit a different area to experience another aspect of those forests. Still, this trip felt so good that we think it was a sort of a crescendo from the universe. Having a thunderstorm hit at the peak of a trip is a difficult experience to top.
We will always feel at home in the mountains, and may move there ourselves someday, but for our next trip we need to find something new, something different. Just like with our playlist it is important to keep exploring, keep learning and growing.
Maybe next time we’ll head back to the ocean, somewhere tropical perhaps? If we could experience a thunderstorm over the ocean, that would be an entirely new high for us. Universe, if you are listening, let’s make it happen!