Alex Greys art to me has always been an inspiration to me since I came across his art for the Tool cover for Lateralus and the music videos he helped create with Tool including one he collaborated with Chet Zar on called Vicarious. The video posted below is Parabola, which has a segment at the end that I remember blowing me away when I was a kid.
It wasn't until later in life that I came across his book Mission of Art that I learned a huge inspiration behind Alex Grey's artwork was his experiences with LSD:
"Twenty-five years ago I took my first dose of LSD. The experience was so rich and profound, coupled as it was with the meeting of my future wife, Allyson, that there seemed nothing more important than this revelation of infinite love and unity. Being an artist, I felt that this was the only subject worthy of my time and attention. Spiritual and visionary consciousness assumed primary importance as the focal point of my life and art. My creative process was transformed by my experience with entheogens."- Alex Grey
I myself never thought I would take LSD, I've always been afraid of getting black market versions of any chemical drug that someone could make in their bathtub but when a friend who had previously given me ecstasy a few weeks ago also mentioned he could get LSD I felt it was trustworthy enough to try with my girlfriend.
It started out with us walking around outside on a nearby trail waiting for it to kick in, we noticed that the lights were beginning to look a lot more cinematic and deliberate as we walked for over an hour but it didn't hit us fully until we got back home. I was completely apprehensive about letting myself go into this experience and I thought for sure there would be a light switch going off in my head and all of the sudden I would be a knife wielding maniac from a 1950s weed propaganda film unable to control my violent urges. This idea got stuck in my brain and made it hard for me to let myself fully go into the experience at first.
I have always been an anxious person and someone who was fundamentally unhappy most of the time. Most of this comes from old traumatic memories from childhood that I won't get into here that have been stuck in my head long after the event has passed and I realized that these emotions had never really been processed when I took the acid. When the experience started to settle in I realized how I didn't feel like I was out of control on acid, I just felt out of control in my normal everyday life. It made me realize that I've kept this trauma alive in me by putting my attention on it.
When I laid down and closed my eyes I remember the physical sensation of falling into a water well and my consciousness was beginning to connect to something greater than me. Except it looked like a network of Wells that went on forever in each direction and gears that turned and moved the world behind the scenes around me. It appeared to me to be the internet network of our minds connecting to one another and I got this overwhelming sense that life is a game the universe is playing with itself and we slip in and out of this realm after death. Death, at least in that moment, seemed perfectly okay and I felt a great sense of peace come over me that when I pass I will return back to this well of love and understanding.
What I found in the trip was not a light switch but a gradual changing of my perceptions and thought processes to the world around me. I became more and more aware of how my perception of things were fundamentally wrong and that I looked at others as enemies to defend against rather than other people who were also connected to this Well of love and understanding. I started to meditate on the sensations that were taking over my body and tried to observe them rather than react to them with fear or longing. I realized that I could focus my attention on fearing the situation if I wanted to but it wasn't going to change the fact that I was going to be in this mind state for the next 8 hours or so.
I'm up to the possibility that this brief experience is completely made up in my imagination and that none of it is real but its not really important to me that this experience is objectively true but only what it meant to me and trying to hold onto what I got out of that experience is hard, it slips through your fingers like any other moment in time and the feeling of total peace and surrender passes like any other feeling in life. Its not something that can be fully explained in words.
My memory is hazy but at some point I remember we took a shower and as I looked into her eyes after we stepped out of the shower I sat down beside her and was overwhelmed to the point of tears at how beautiful she was to me. She seemed to shine with this same well of love and understanding behind her eyes that I had found in myself just a few moments before. Her love was beautiful to me, something to admire.
"Your love is like a fire I come home to warm my soul by at the end of the day and we are all carrying this fire around with us throughout the world and warm the souls of others with it." I told her then that I would write her a story a story that would make her remember the night it is we had together and how special it felt to be with her in this corner of time. It felt like we were two wanders of the world taking refuge in our own cave from the cold and wet world outside, our love keeping us warm and alive.
I cried for most of the rest of the night not just for long held pain leaving me but at my own sense of wonder at what it felt like to feel nothing but love coming from within me and how freeing it felt. I knew then what my art would have to be about, and that I want to show people that well inside of me to inspire them to look for it within themselves. Its crazy to think that LSD or any psychedelic can be illegal when there is now so much medical research showing that it helps with PTSD and depression I wouldn't say my trip was any where near as powerful as what is shown here but I can directly connect to his art in a way that I couldn't have before taking LSD.
After a few days of the trip the effects of well being are still there but its easy to see what can be gained from an experience like that can be lost easily within a few days in the obscurity of memory. Was it really that amazing of a trip? Its too easy for us to get lost in the routine of life and to not be present and if there is anything I took from the experience it is that most of the suffering in our lives is unnecessarily created by ourselves. For whatever reason our minds are constantly trying to get out of the moment we are presented with. It seems so mundane. An unoccupied and undisciplined mind reeks havok on itself because it isn't free to make mindful decisions it can only react to what is going on around it instead of being proactive.
Acid will humble you it will bring you to your knees in wonder at the world around you and your place in it. But just like anything else it passes and its up to us to keep that fire of love alive in our lives rather than letting it be only a momentary high.
Please feel free to share your own stories about LSD in the comments below.