Psychedelics: How to steer a trip wherever you want
The first "serious" psychedelic experience usually follows this pattern: Unconscious contents emerge on the conscious mind, and you must confront them. Once you’ve defeated your inner enemy, you’ll reach a profoundly placid state of mind. From then on, the trip will slowly fade. Well, that is, if you've succeeded in defeating this inner enemy: Otherwise you might have a bad time. However, this is very unusual. It usually happens to people who have lots of unconscious stuff that are too overwhelming for them to deal with.
Fortunately, psychedelic distortions of reality do not just affect your perceptions. They also greatly increase your ability to overcome your conditionings. Therefore, it becomes quite easier to get rid of these traumatic contents in your unconscious and reach this "clean state"e; in which it feels like you were experiencing the world for the first time.
Sometimes this process feels like a superfast psychotherapy session. We can deeply change through psychedelics. We become able to reconsider our own life from radically different points of view. Since we become able to deconstruct both ourselves and our environment, we can truly deal with our concerns and reconsider the way we’re running our lives. This is also a little risky. Questioning your whole life experience and realizing you don’t actually want the life you have, can turn into quite an earthquake. You might end up changing your whole life course.
Getting rid of our unconscious garbage is very healthy. Every year there’s new scientific reports telling us the psychedelic cure works spectacularly well against problems like depression. Yet there’s more to psychedelics than just being an useful medicine for the mind.
An important feature these substances have is that they stimulate and solidify imagination, to a point that anything we can imagine might become as real as the things we normally perceive through our senses. In the deepest levels we may have visions that totally occlude standard reality. We may feel our body and identity transform and dissolve. We could explore impossible realities or otherwise unknown strata of reality… Possibilities are endless, and ultimately driven by the machinery of our unconscious mind.
And there we have the key to steer this kind of experience: It is built by our unconscious mind
This also means that we can program our trip if we manipulate our unconscious mind.
How can we manipulate our unconscious mind? If you are used to magick, you already know the answer. A simple and effective method are those sigils you use in Chaos Magick. You encode your will and make a symbol out of it, then insert this symbol in your unconscious. Now afterwards, when you take your psychedelics, they’ll feed upon the sigil contents (because they feed upon your unconscious!).
When I trip, I do at least some basic banishing (LBRP) and meditation as I create the sigil. Then I consume the substance -usually psilocybe mushrooms- in a ritual context. Finally, either I wait for the substance to act, or otherwise I proceed with further ritual in order to ensure I enforce my will and strengthen the effect.
A lot of years ago I took Ayahuasca with this shaman who did something similar. He asked us to consider our intentions for the trip, and to keep our aim in mind once we were tripping. Also, we did some kind of dynamic meditation before the trip, keeping our aim in mind there. I'm pretty sure that’s what pushed said aim into our unconscious mind.
However, it is not necessary to keep the goal in mind while tripping. Our imagination will build a reality according to the suggestion we've put in our unconscious mind. In fact, it often happens that our unconscious mind gives us whatever we asked for, but in an unexpected way. Which is good, since we probably wouldn’t learn so much from a foreseeable experience.
All in all, the most important thing here is that our commands to our unconscious mind on what we want to explore reach it and stay there.
Our state of mind when we take the substance is important as well. When shamans say that gods or spirits inhabit some plants, it isn’t just some primitive belief: If you treat the substance as if it was sacred, this attitude will bring you to a mental state that is truly helpful to your experience.
The psychedelic trip as a magickal or sacred experience (instead of just ludic) can become an extremely strong experience. We shouldn’t however be afraid of the bad trip, since the experiences that are really demanding are also those from which you can learn the most.
Even if you’ve correctly programmed your trip, you could end up visiting some other places. This happens for example, if you have already reached your goals, but the substance is still active (which isn’t unusual at all when trips last for several hours). You might also keep traumatic contents in your unconscious that really need to be dealt with, and which might even eclipse your sigil programming. This is a symptom there’s work you should do, dirt inside yourself you have to clean before you work with the deeper stuff.
Magick itself demands a lot of serious internal work. If you don’t deal with your trauma, you could end up even more unbalanced. This often happens to people who abuse psychedelics in a magical/spiritual context. The ego swells, since the users confuse their altered consciousness abilities with their deteriorating set of "normal" abilities.
Psychedelic substances are amazing. They can open you doors you’d have a really hard time to open without them. However, there’s another side to the story: You must work after the trip and bring down to earth what you’ve experienced. If you systematically skip the afterwork, you might end up losing control.
If you need a clear example about this, you might want to read “Breaking Open the Head” from Daniel Pinchbeck. There you can see how the author loses it as he consumes more and more but he doesn’t really know how to deal with his experiences (and ends up taking them literally).
Final advice: If you do not have enough experience with a specific substance, it is better to trip with someone else who would remain totally sober (ground control). It is also a good idea to have some antidote at hand so you can stop the trip; even if you never use it, it will make you feel more confident. Also try to confirm your intention is appropriate. Tarot (or any other divination method) is a good idea here: Ask if your intention is going to bring anything good, ask if you should do it the time you’ve scheduled for it, ask on the consequences of the trip. If the divination results make you doubtful, don’t try to find excuses: Leave it for another day, or at least reconsider your goals and ask again.