There are a few experiences in life where there’s a definite difference between the way you lived your life before the experience, and the way you choose to live your life after the experience. These experiences are so huge and perspective altering that they change the entire way you view, move through and experience the world itself. For me, these experiences have been:
- at age 15, discovering surfing
- age 31, becoming a mother
- age 32, discovering kundalini meditation
- age 38, doing a 5 gram mushroom journey
It has taken me a whole year to pluck up the courage to publish this post. It’s been sitting in draft mode on this blog since I did my journey on the 7th of May 2021, and slowly over the months it’s become what it is today – a very long post about my mushroom journey.
Before I did my journey, I went on an internet mission to read all the mushroom journey blog posts and watch all the videos about people’s different experiences, but that really gave me zero perspective at the end of the day, because it’s such a personal journey and everyone experiences something different.
Be warned; this post is long and I go into the highs and the lows, if you don’t want to know too much going in, then probably don’t read this. And if you don’t yet know what a mushroom journey is, watch Fantastic Fungi on Netflix.
Enter: The day of the mushroom journey – 7 May 2021
Curiosity got me and I just had to go in. I’d been playing with the idea for about 2 years, but eventually, it felt like I could not continue in life, not knowing what else there was for me to learn. Kundalini meditation had changed my life, I had learnt so much from reading books, following mentors online, listening to podcasts, and my all time favourite therapy of all – staying high with my good old friend marijuana.
She was my faithful. My constant. No matter what the setting; anxiety, sadness, loneliness, happiness, joy – she would make it all better, or take me higher, that place where I liked to live. She would bring me back to the light. I believed in her. But… there was still that curiosity. What else is out there beyond her? There must be something because there are films being made, books being written and lots of conversations happening. What has psilocybin got on marijuana? I had to know.
“Here we go my love, once you drink this, there’s no going back. 6 hours, you ready?” she asked.
“So ready, let’s do this.” And I swallowed every last drop, with full commitment and intention to see everything I was meant to see.
I’m going to try and recount this journey in the best way that words can. But please know that there are no words that can do this experience justice. Anyone who has done it will know. When you know, you know.
We had moved my mattress to the lounge, in front of the fire. Closed all the curtains and made it super cosy. The first 20 minutes were really easy, I felt very relaxed and started playing some guitar, chatting away, lots of hugs with my guide, who just happens to also be a bestie. She was so happy for me, overcome with emotion, and she told me how proud she was of me.
“You’ve got 2 minutes more babe. Let’s lie you down and get you cosy. I’m going to blindfold you now and give you some music to listen to. 3 rules:
1. Don’t take your blindfold off without my permission.
2. Don’t look at me.
3. If you feel like you need the toilet during your journey, I will help you, but do not look at your vagina.
Everything else is okay.”
Got it. A bit freaked out on the vagina thing, but got it. I trust her with my whole heart. From here, time starts to get fuzzy. I remember my body started shuddering and I felt as if I was somehow taking off. Reality felt like it was breaking apart, but I felt no fear. She held me firmly and guided my breath as I breathed into the beautiful music playing in the headphones. As I trusted her and followed her breath, the shaking slowed down and I remembered to surrender – advice from everyone else I know who has done this, just go with it, let go fully and surrender. I let go, and all of a sudden, there we were…
Physically, I was still in my lounge, blindfolded with music playing in my ears, but visually, I was standing up and as I looked over to my left, there she was, my guide – L, sitting on the most beautiful dragon I have ever seen! (I know!) L looked like she was dressed in some sort of amber gold body suit, that was actually her skin, and she was just glistening. I was just like WOW, you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. She looked at me and confidently said; “let’s fly!” (Quick pause here and I just want to say that I have watched the movie Avatar like 10 times so I’m not sure if my brain was like, listen if we’re taking 5 grams of mushrooms, we’re flying dragons… I don’t know!)
And off we went, in an instant she was flying her dragon and I was flying with her, next to her, I watched her fly gracefully and powerfully for a few seconds, in absolute awe, and then I wondered what my dragon looked like. As I looked down, expecting to see a dragon, I realised, THAT I DIDN’T HAVE ONE… and here we go. That is where it all began.
“Where is my dragon? How am I flying? In fact, where is my body?” In that moment I expected I would fall from the sky, but no, I just quietly slipped dimensions to somewhere else. And I felt this most sacred, feminine, all encompassing presence. She stayed with me for my entire journey. When I say words cannot explain from here on out, I truly mean it. The rest of this post is just me doing my best to give you some sort of perspective. But it’s all the size of an ant compared to what was actually experienced.
Time became nothing. It did not exist. There was just now. Which was infinite. I had been removed from anything earthly. I knew that earth still existed but that I was currently very, very far away from it. Everything was energy. I could hear it. I was it. It was me. Everything was everything, yet strangely, also separate yet divinely connected and unable to be separate. All working in unison. It danced and breathed together. I felt peace like I’ve never experienced peace before. I think that was perhaps the effect of no time. With no time present, there is no past, and no future. So there is nothing to worry about. Worry is not a possible feeling here. There is just being. It was magic.
As I write this today, just knowing that that place exists, somehow brings me back to that peace. It’s like I have this energetic umbilical cord that has been reconnected. It’s also oddly not a state of mind, but rather a destination. That all that is, comes from there, and will return to there. And what is the rush? I am now so aware of what a gift it is to be a human. I recently came across the concept that being human is the short pause between two different destinations. I totally get that now.
So how do I explain this beautiful place. I still see it so clearly in my mind but it’s so hard to bring to words. I also realise that every person’s journey will be relative to what their human experience has been, where they’re at, what their past looks like, what their present looks like and what they truly yearn for their life to be like – mush that all up together and then add 5 grams of mushrooms and your deepest, truest version of yourself will guide you and show you what you need to see – not your ego. So just know that my experience will not be yours.
We all get exactly what we need, and exactly what we’re ready to handle. Because, if you think about it, it’s yourself, giving it to yourself. I know – it’s mind bending! It reminds me of a sentence in the book, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra; “The universe is just the universe experiencing itself, over and over again.” Confused yet? 😉
So this place, it looked like all the colours of the chakras, from a kundalini perspective. It was an enormous 3D spiral that started out massive and wide at the top and then spiralled all the way down to a central point of light at the bottom. This light was like, the source of everything. And inside the airy walls of this most colourful spiral was the understanding of everything in life, from a deep mathematical perspective.
It was almost like if you look up at the sky on a starry night and you see thousands of stars, and then you trace little lines between all of the stars. And each star was like an information point, a library full of knowledge. Whatever I wanted to learn about, each star had it all, except the stars were more like symbols, that were illustrated with thread like lines and represented things like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. If I put my concentration on one element, I would somehow weirdly be able to feel my eyelids in deep REM flickering, and I would download so much wisdom at the speed of light, but it was like only the understandings that I needed to answer the questions that I had, nothing more, nothing less. And then I would be done with that and I could zoom out and see something else. It was fucking spectacular. Super cerebral. That after a while – and I have no concept of what a while was, I would need to take a break.
A break, would be my presence moving to the top of this spiral and there, at the top of this spiral was this strange bubble that I could move inside and it was like a safety bubble for taking a break from learning. And inside there was L, and another person from my human life whom I have great trust in, D. They were sitting inside this little bubble and I could go back to them whenever I wanted and we’d just laugh and we’d talk about how great this world is. And they’d give me the little joy break that I needed and then I’d have to go back and explore more.
At this point you’re probably like, oh wow this is sounding amazing, what a beautiful experience. Well, I thought so too. Until I stumbled onto my dear friend, marijuana. “Oh hi Mary Jane, it’s nice to see you here, I’ve been wanting to thank you for all the stability and joy you bring to my life. Thank you for being my constant…” BOOM. I was shut down very quickly.
Without words being spoken, I felt this message loud and clear, from that ever present feminine energy. The message was; “Shannon. Stop trying to lead the way here. Be quiet and learn.” And this was not said with kindness. It was said with sternness and discipline, like if you don’t shut the fuck up right now, I will literally end you. I wasn’t scared, but I was pulled to attention – energetically, and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that feeling before.
Have you heard of ego death? I had, but was pretty sure I had had one in the human world. I was like, I’m a great human. I have compassion, I have empathy. I help people. My friends tell me so. They love me. I got this ego under control… Lol. And I never say lol.
The next hour, maybe 2 hours, were the most challenging hours of my entire life. It hurt, so much. To have to see it all and take count of the reality of how I was actually using marijuana to escape so much of my pain. It crushed me, I fought it, so much. I tried to say no, I will not take this, but it wouldn’t let me. It forced me to look at it all, and when I did, I broke. I got angry, I felt betrayed, by the one thing I thought I could count on, my medicine of choice, which was natural and from the earth. It wasn’t an anti-anxiety chemical based tablet, it was a plant.
And then this presence made me understand, “Yes, she is a plant. And she is beautiful. She is medicinal. She is all powerful, when used in the right way. What you are doing is not using, you are abusing. You are cheating life, and that is not allowed. That is not what you chose. That is not why you are human. You are here, to have a human experience. Otherwise, you would not have come to earth as a human.” I got more angry as I fought it more and tried to fight this all knowing power off.
“Fine, burn it, burn it all, drugs are so bad!” I remember screaming this out loud, even though I’ve never before referred to marijuana as drugs. I opened my eyes, I was an emotional wreck, I still remembered the rule not to look at L, but I told her, “Get it all, get all the weed out of that corner cupboard and burn it all in the fire.” I kept saying to myself in my head, “Drugs are so bad, drugs are so bad, drugs are so bad…,” while I sat outside in my garden and held myself and rocked. But then again, the mushrooms were not done with me. “Marijuana is not a drug. It is a medicine. You are abusing the medicine. Marijuana is NOT the problem.”
And there it was. I had to admit complete defeat or I was not getting out of this story. All I wanted was to go back to that beautiful place again. I knew I had another choice and that choice was to walk to my bathroom, stick my finger down my throat and vomit out all the medicine so I could escape this hell, smoke a joint and get back to my ‘safe’ place. But I also knew what a defeat this whole day would be if I did that. How could I leave this experience, knowing what I knew now. I just couldn’t.
And so I accepted it. In an instant I changed my belief about this all powerful me that had full control over this plant, and I surrendered completely to the fact, that I had no control over this habit anymore and things had gotten out of control. All the anger dissipated and I just cried. I held onto L so hard and for a few minutes I was a totally sober human again. I remember crying to her, “How am I going to do this, I don’t know how I am going to remember this. This is so hard, I’m so dependant on it. I don’t know how I am going to do this.” And she said to me, “I promise you, it’s going to be easy to remember. And if you need me to, I’ll remind you every day.” That was enough, I trusted her. And I cried some more.
We went inside, I lay on my mattress and curled up into a ball. Feeling completely empty inside, but at peace. I thought I would be able to rest at that point, but I was not done. The weed was still burning in the fireplace (it’s one of those fireplaces with a glass door so no we weren’t hot boxing the lounge, haha everyone asks that!) and as I closed my eyes, I had more learning to do.
I remembered the words that I, and some of my friends, had once spoken about someone we know who is a serious drug addict, addicted to heroine, and has basically ruined his family’s life. We said, “It would be better if he would just overdose and die, there is no hope for him.” How awful. I felt the cruelty and lack of compassion in my words.
I felt myself explode in my own humanness and I as I lay in that foetal position on my mattress, I was shot down to a cave that felt like it was thousands of years in the past. It was just me, no other humans anywhere nearby, in almost total darkness. As I opened my eyes to try and move my body and look around, I realised I could not get up. I was paralysed by drugs inside my system. I looked down and I had a needle hanging out of my arm and it was not my body. I was a drug addict, dying, alone in a cave. I could feel absolutely everything a drug addict feels, all the despair, the lack of any ounce of hope and the total aloneness in a death like that. The knowing that this was going to be a slow and horrible death and that nobody was coming to save me.
I can’t really put into words how I moved from that cave to this next phase of the journey, it was like the dimensions and time just warped and transported me, but my actual being was exploded into a million particles again, like in a way that I would not be traumatised by this experience because I had learnt my lesson and was now free from the belief that I ever had to rely on a substance to find my way, nor would I ever cast judgment on anyone who was under the grips of addiction again. I learnt so much about addiction. Before this journey, my addiction was an absolute blind spot to me. I really didn’t think I had a problem.
I was now lying in a sort of shell, that was breathing life back into me, revitalising me through a root system that was connected to my body and my veins and I could feel life coming back to me. It was THE BEST, most peaceful place I could have asked to be, after what I had just gone through in that cave. It felt like I had lost all connection with the lifeblood of the earth, and the earth was now reconnecting me back to my true self, which is the source of all. It was so sacred. And so feminine.
Eventually, I awoke, and I was so filled with joy and gratitude and laughter. I felt okay to look at L, and I looked at her and just said, “Wow, that was amazing, I can’t even believe what I just experienced. I need to go make a wee now.” She asked if I felt okay to walk to the toilet, and I said yes.
As I turned to go into the bathroom, I saw my cat, lying on her back, legs in the air and she just went “meow!” And I was done. It was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard, and she was the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. Fluffy AF and so cute and warm and cuddly. She’s generally the most evil cat in the world, so this was a whack experience.
I lay down with her on the floor and thanked her for her presence in my life and she even let me rub her belly, risky business! I realised how much she had been through with me and I just had so much gratitude for the role that animals play in our lives. A while later, I have no idea how long, L poked her head into the toilet and found me sitting on the loo, and she said, “Be careful not to get stuck on the toilet, I’ve been stuck on the toilet for an hour before.” And she helped me back to my bed.
From here on, I got to play. I could stay in the real world if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to go back. I lay down, covered myself in my duvet and closed my eyes and back there I was. It was like I just had this instant connection back to this mushroom world inside my head now. It was mad. I played with it, if I opened my eyes I would be in my house, which looked like some out of tune TV channel, and if I closed my eyes, here I was in this other realm, fully.
A lot more work happened in there. I revisited marijuana and tried to learn more about the right way to use it, through fabrics, topical use, CBD oils, and I envisioned how I could set more positive pathways for myself with regards to how I related to it. I took a deep look at the structure of my business and life as an entrepreneur. And then I did some really deep emotional healing work surrounding my birth experience with my son, which was very traumatic. I went further back into my teen years and my 20’s, a very volatile and violent time of my life, and I got to witness events from a birds eye view, almost like a movie of someone else. I got to understand these events from all perspectives with love and compassion for everyone involved and I got to let go of resentments and lack of understandings.
Anxiety has been a big theme in my life, and I got to pinpoint the exact event that brought it on. And you think this would be obvious but for some reason it has been a total blindspot in my life up until now. At 15, I had a near death experience, where my heart stopped beating and I had to be shocked back to life in hospital by a defibrillator. Looking back now, I realise how I just totally misunderstood this event at such a young age, and so I disassociated from it.
From having this understanding, I’ve been able to slowly unravel and deal with my anxiety from a place of awareness, and creating new neuropathways for my brain around this event, to the extent that I have gone from waking up with crippling anxiety every morning, to waking up in complete peace with joy that I have another day ahead of me to connect with other humans and gratitude for the ability to witness the beauty of a sunrise.
I just want to say here that the mushroom journey was no magic bullet – there was a ton more integration work that came after, through my dreams, sessions with my therapist and other healers, but I have been in therapy for years and never have I been able to move through and understand myself so quickly than after this journey – it’s like I’m able to zoom out and observe situations so much more easily now.
Once I had gotten to the near death experience in my journey, we were around the 6 hour mark and I should have been coming back to life properly by now, but I wasn’t. The near death experience was paralyzing me, physically, because it felt like I was both there in that space and time – (at 15 years old where I was paralyzed by anaesthetic that the doctors had given me in a standard procedure, but it turned out I was allergic to), and then here in this space and time, and I physically was now unable to move my legs again, almost like my brain was confused between the two different timelines I was experiencing.
L needed to get going now to her son’s Mother’s day concert, but she couldn’t go yet because of my state. I knew exactly what was happening because I’ve used mushrooms recreationally before and I know the trickery it can play on the mind. I asked L to call one of my best friends from across the road to come and be with me until I felt okay to be alone again and she did.
It was the best, seeing another person I could trust, a new face, in that space. It was so great. We hugged, we cuddled, we chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked her to put another log on the fire, because I was still paralyzed in my legs. She couldn’t work out how to open my fireplace door (it’s a little tricky) so I decided to use my arms to kind of drag myself up and go and help her. All I needed to do was move my body again and then within a minute my legs were back to normal. Another few minutes, and everything was back to normal. As if I had never taken the mushrooms. Except, I felt like a new human.
My hair was a birds nest and I had been sweating and crying all day. But my goodness I felt amazing. Like a whole new human. On top of the world, ready for anything life swung at me. ANYTHING. I told my friend she could go home, as she had guests coming over soon, and that I would be totally fine waiting alone for another friend to arrive who was coming to sleep over. And I was. I felt more in tune to life than I had ever been. I began cleaning up my kitchen and just sorting myself out again. My friend arrived and we chatted for hours. We had the best night together, I had so much to tell her, and I talked her ear off. I struggled to fall asleep that night, and only slept for about 4 hours.
The day after
The next day was pretty weird, I felt super strange being back in my body and not being high on weed. For reference, I’d been smoking weed very frequently from the age of 15 to the age of 36, and then from age 36 to 38 – I would smoke at least a gram of weed a day. Because I’d been so used to ‘high’ being my baseline, it was a very strange feeling to experience life sober. Being high, had been my sober for the last 2 years. I was living a fully functional life like this, as I know many people who do. But clearly, for me, this wasn’t working, because somewhere deep down, I must have not felt good about it, or my experience would not have been my experience.
By 4pm, I was famished, and put a frozen pizza in the oven. I could barely eat it, because everything just seemed so strange not being high. By 5pm, I was curled up on my Fatsak in the lounge, listening to Alanis Morissette and crying my eyes out. Balling. For hours. I had so much to release still, and it was so hard. So hard to do that without being able to soothe my human with weed. Fk, I cried. By 9pm I was an empty shell and I just went to bed. My sleep was disturbed, by beautiful dreams, that I had to wake up from and write down, more learning, more processing, just. so. much. The next two weeks were brutal. Brutal. I had no vice. It was so hard. But I also had this intense knowing that I could do it, and that nothing could compare to how hard it was to go through what I did in that journey, and that it was not all for nothing.
I also knew something to be very true. I was addicted. Past tense. Not ‘I am addicted.’ I would not be defined by a label. That was not for me. We can be addicted to technology, to porn, to drugs, to alcohol, to sex, to love… maybe the human condition is to be addicted and it’s just our choice to decide what we’re addicted to.
I decided that from now on, I was going to be ‘addicted’ to myself, to my own journey of healing, but also, to change the word addicted, to committed.
I am so so grateful for my journey. Although the theme was definitely addiction, I learnt so much more that could ever be put into mere words. This post, is me trying to help you understand how much really happens inside a guided hero dose journey and how much you SHOULD NOT go into any psychedelic journey lightly. Your life will be different afterwards. You will see the world through new eyes. (It’s the best! No matter the journey, the result always seems to be the same.)
Your guide is important. Probably the most important part of your journey. Don’t go with just anyone. And deeply consider if you want to do it in a group. A group setting, I know after my experience, is definitely not for me.
The other thing to note is the strain of mushrooms you take. I found out after my journey that L had given me ‘Azzies’ – their full name being Psilocybe Azurescens, and these babies pack a punch. “While the well-known Psilocybe cubensis contain .14-.42% psilocybin, Psilocybe azurescens are packed with 1.78% psilocybin.”
I also remember this strain being mentioned in Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind – and I quote “Azzies are organisms of the ecological edge. Look at where we are: at the edge of the continent, the edge of an eco-system, the edge of civilization, and of course these mushrooms bring us to the edge of consciousness.”
Dear friends, if you made it this far, thank you for reading. If you’re considering a journey, then they say that journeys are experienced three times: when dreamed of, when lived, and when remembered. And if you’re already dreaming then your journey has already begun… and I can’t wait to hear about your experience! See you on the otherside! ✨🤍
June 2023 Update: As a qualified NeuroEmotional Coach with The Center for Emotional Education I have incorporated supporting people through their journeys into my coaching practice. I offer pre-journey preparation sessions leading up to your journey, as well as post-journey integration sessions.