This is a travel piece about Amsterdam’s banning of psychedelic mushrooms in 2008 and the resulting rise of a new industry offering truffles inoculated with psilocybin.
Meeting with the affable and opportunistic “Truffle Brothers,” this HAMILTON’S PHARMACOPEIA episode traces the recent history of magic mushrooms in the Netherlands, questions the dubious claims that lead to their banning – including the murder of a dog with a pair of kitchen shears – and illustrates the entrepreneurial tuck-and-roll that finds former mushroom marketers emerging as truffle traders.
As a bonus, here is a truffle trip diary I found online. It’s hilarious. Enjoy!
2.5 grams (dried) – P. tampanensis
2.5 grams (dried) – P. tampanensis
T+0:00 – I start munching, using orange juice to mask the not entirely-unpleasant taste; M and I have decided we will chew them in our mouth for a few minutes until it turns to a paste before we swallow. M is in the same room; he’s occupied in some way—that I can’t recall—that is causing him to delay dosing. I make a note that the truffles are cracker-dry compared to how they were the night I began drying them.
T+0:05 – M starts to munch. I’ve already got about 9/10ths of mine swallowed.
T+0:20 – M has finished his, and he’s loaded a bowl of cannabis. I’m starting to feel something by now, but I can’t place my finger on what it is; perhaps just placebo effects kicking in?
T+0:40 – I’m tripping, and my eyes are mildly dilated (they never get dilated when I trip—it’s weird). M is starting to feel something. His eyes are definitely dilated, so we’re wondering why he’s not starting to trip yet.
T+0:90 – Okay, M and I have started to peak. Visuals out the hoohaw. We decide to go outside and eat some kiwi because I’m feeling tired: M says kiwi and being outside will give us energy. The kiwi is amazing, but being outside has completely engulfed me at this point. I’m in a very dreamy state. Then I remember reading a trip report, of P. tampanensis, where the guy started seeing mushroom men crawling into his yard from under the fence. For some reason, this caused me to “notice” the horde of little green gnomes, only about a foot tall (as if physical measurements had meaning at this point), playing in my friend’s backyard. They were running about like a group of little kids with a lot of energy.
Time is no longer perceivable at this point.
M and I migrated from outside to the house and back several times over the next 10 minutes. At one point, we were in his kitchen doing our best to draw. M’s wasn’t half bad, but mine looked like a work of Picasso. So that’s how I signed it. Eventually, we found ourselves outside again. I was enjoying some fruit punch-type drink, and perhaps because of the kiwi I had earlier, it tasted very tart and sour, yet incredible and delicious also. I offered M a taste, and he was amazed with it as well.
It was getting cold at this point so we went to the door and twisted the knob. Nothing; twisting it the wrong way? Other way… still nothing. “OH SHIT!” we thought to ourselves. “Did we just lock ourselves out, right after the peak began?” We looked at each other, taking note of the growing panic accumulating on one another’s face. “Don’t even, dude… don’t even go into a bad trip. It’s gonna be fine,” M said to comfort me (and himself, as well, I’m sure), “I’m pretty sure the front door is unlocked,” he said confidently.
We trudged around the side of the house, a place I’ve never been before. My mind was racing with all kinds of crazy thoughts as the peak was building momentum. The setting of the neighborhood at this point seemed very unfamiliar like I had never been there before.
Up to the door… It’s locked too! We have locked ourselves out of the house just after starting to peak! One word to describe what we felt for the next moment can only be: PANIC. Not external, but internal. Emotionally.
As it began to seep in that we were indeed locked out, chaos began to ensue. What are we gonna do?! “Alright, let’s think this shit through,” one of us said. “We’ve locked ourselves out of the house, we’re peaking on some truffles… it’ll be alright.” And about this time my head started to fill up with all these stories I’ve read over the years of trips gone bad. Emergency rooms. Cops. Parents. I began to edge toward a bad trip.
But I wouldn’t let myself, or M. We were in this together, and there had to be a way out. “Let’s go around back and think for a second,” I declared.
So we went back around. Visuals were very apparent at this point, making critical thinking a hard task indeed. Then M remembered his neighbor had a key to the house for emergencies just like this. He was apprehensive. But who wouldn’t be? His pupils made him look like a cat on mescaline. His eyes had “trauma” written all over them. Any sane person would know he’s under the influence of something. “You can do it, man. Everything will be alright. Just go over there and tell her what happened—that you locked yourself out by accident—and you need the spare key,” I reassured him. He asked me where I wanted to go: with him; the front; or stay there in the back. Going with him would have been intense, interacting with sober people and all; going to the front would have exposed me to everyone like a fish display at Wal-Mart; but staying in the back would be crazy, all alone and such. “I’ll stay here,” I muttered before I could stop myself. Great.
Moments after M left for the neighbor, terror set in. What had just happened began to sink in: we were locked out of the house, tripping our gourds off. Where had M gone? It’s already been a while, I kept telling myself. Did something happen to him? Then recollections of reports of trips-gone-bad revisited me. I thought for sure he had wandered off, and now he’s halfway to the other side of town. I started to panic and walk to the other side of the house.
I looked around. “M?!” I whispered helplessly. Then after what seemed like ages, but at the same time only seconds, out from nowhere he popped out at me. By the expression on his face I knew he didn’t have the key, but I was so happy to see him in good condition it didn’t phase me.
We finally decided to “wait the trip out” in his truck, which was unlocked. Sounds were all around us, from people working, to the garbage truck, to dogs barking. But M’s truck was a safe haven, an antidote for my paranoia. M looked at me and said, “We’re going to spend an eternity in this truck… you know that right?” I agreed; I knew we were in for a long ride. I stated that whatever was to happen in the next few hours, I’d have more respect for myself when it was all over.
It turned out we didn’t spend an eternity in the truck. A few moments later we became restless, and we noticed that one of the windowpanes was knocked out of the garage door. Was it a light at the end of the tunnel? I boosted M through the window. I seriously felt like I was a robber breaking into a house. Paranoia began to revisit me. Then the garage door came up, and I felt relief. We darted to the doorway into the house. But it too was locked!
Oh well, at least we could wait the trip out in the garage as opposed to a damned truck. We found some seats, and tried to enjoy the trip. The aforementioned garbage truck was right outside at this point, gathering M’s trash. It was making all kinds of weird diesel truck noises before my mind perceived it as some sort of future android coming to arrest us for altering our consciousnesses. (Ever see that movie, Equilibrium?) But it was interesting. I tried to imagine what the garbage men thought of our absurd psilocybin-induced conversation.
We noticed an attic-door on the ceiling of the garage, so we opened it up and climbed up inside. It was pitch black and I was having intense visuals. There was insulation everywhere and one of us joked that it was asbestos or something. We sat in the doorway for some time, thinking to ourselves and each other.
It was around this time that I finally found out the ‘answer’ to life’s ‘mystery’: It is I who is God; and I have fabricated a perpetual illusion of reality to entertain my infinitely-alone self. The realization was immensely intense and mildly disturbing, like some twist ending to a book that catches you off-guard, thinking, “I never would’ve thought this is how it ends.”
I told M about my realization and he chuckled. “God locked his ass outside,” he said snickering. I noted that I understood why they call these Philosopher’s Stones, and M agreed. We eventually found a light, and that brought us up considerably. We were beginning to enjoy being locked out.
Since this part of the trip–while we were in the attic–was so philosophical, it’s very hard to put into words. I, in all seriousness, lived an eternity (being God and all) while we were up in that attic. I’m still not certain, but others have told me (based on what I have told them) I tasted ego death in that attic. Looking back, having tripped once more since then, I agree. There were times where the physical realm fused into the metaphysical realm. I remember M and I referring to what was happening as “This.” because neither of us could conjure up the words to describe what we were both experiencing. Everything began to melt together: I could no longer differentiate between myself, my thoughts, M, the content of my visual field, or other perceptions I had. I was simply experiencing *myself*, because indeed I was everything.
M noted that the manner in which we were conducting ourselves at this point (i.e., two people tripping on mushrooms, sitting around talking while peaking) was how the Native Americans have been doing it for ages. I felt good when I acknowledged that.
The peak began to fade. We agreed that the situation we had been dealt was exactly the type of situation that has a potential to cause train-wrecking bad trips, and that we had held it together pretty well. I think we both gained another level of respect for ourselves and each other during this part of the trip.
We eventually decided to go see if M’s neighbor was home yet, so we could get the key. I wasn’t too worried anymore about being locked out at this point, but as soon as I saw M running back with the key I felt ecstasy. Absolutely one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt; ‘infinitely-intense relief’ can only describe it. We were finally inside, *just after* we began coming down from the peak, and I found that odd.
We felt like lab rats being locked up our whole lives and then being set free in the wild. There was so much we wanted to do–smoke some bowls, listen to some music, use the restroom, etc.–we really couldn’t decide on what. Once the realization that we were no longer locked outside set in, we swear we began to peak once more! It’s like the universe was making up for locking us outside and was gonna give us another peak as compensation or something.
We smoked a lot of pot and watched a Hunter S. Thompson documentary until the meaning of time came back to us. Probably the best trip I’ve had thus far. Being locked out of the house while peaking should have put us into a bad trip (and it almost did a few times), but instead we turned lemons into lemonade and now my friend and I are a lot closer and have more respect for one another and ourselves than we did before.
I’ll definitely be doing magic truffles again.