Looping Through Time: The Ultimate Acid Trip

A psychedelic journey through time itself

“Brightly colored urban street art graffiti of cartoon monster mouth and hand” by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

This is my attempt to tell the story of four people who decided it would be a good idea to take waterfall hits of 15x salvia in the midst of a LSD trip. This happened over ten years ago during my heady undergrad days. Please bare with me as I try to convey this journey of a lifetime using the confining restraints of written language.

Around midnight, myself, my friends E, M and P, dropped two sugar cubes of acid each. I am not going to go into details concerning the first 2–3 hours of the trip because the journey really began with the salvia. To give a little background information, E was the only one who hadn’t done acid before, and there were already 3 other people over who had dropped a couple hours prior to us. Furthermore, out of the four of us only E and I had broken through on salvia before (“broken through” means the complete dissolution of the ego)

After spending some time exploring outside on the acid, we came back inside for a smoke-session and P remembered he had some salvia extract with it. Out of sheer curiosity we started talking hypothetically about what salvia would be like on LSD. Well, after awhile the four of us were intrigued and we started steadying our nerves and mentally preparing ourselves. In retrospect, I am unsure whether I would be able to consciously do it if knew what was about to happen but luckily, for the sake of my curiosity and sense of adventure, I’m glad we did it because it because the Trip of a lifetime.

Because the container we were using for the waterfall was so large, we decided that two people were going to share a hit. E was the brave volunteer to go first and I jumped in to go second. E and I arranged ourselves into the tiny downstairs guest bathroom and everyone crowded around watching with anticipation as E prepared the first waterfall jug of salvia. After E took a HUGE rip, I took over the bottle and forced the remainder of the milky smoke into my lungs and held it in with reluctance.

Photo by Luke Besley on Unsplash

What happened next became the catalyst for the entire trip. In the process of stumbling over to the “crash zone” of the couch, E managed to sneeze into an ashtray and get it inside of his mouth and lungs. Those of you who have been unfortunate enough to do the same know the terrifying feeling of disgust, helplessness, and extreme nausea.

Everything slowed down and I watched in horror as E’s face slowly began to rot into this sickening green/gray zombie that is typical of acid’s darker side. I remember looking at E’s face and completely forgetting about the fact that I had taken a massive rip of salvia as well and focused all of my attention on helping E deal with his nightmare of ash-in-my-face-while-breaking-through-on-salvia-during-his-first-acid-trip.

At the time, I was proud of the fact that I could seemingly control the onset of whatever salvia had in store for me and seize control of the situation, calming E down and helping him relax. The incident with the ashtray really left a strong mental impression on E and he was insistent upon cleaning his face repeatedly. It soon became obvious that the salvia was interfering with his ability to rationalize the situation and realize that he didn’t need to keep wiping his face off over the sink. This worried me, but after he started gaining control over his actions I felt comfortable that E was going to be okay.

I then began to think about my own situation and started questioning whether I was going to break through or not. I started talking to everyone else, trying to get a sense of how the others were feeling in relation to myself and-PHOOSH! My consciousness was suddenly jolted out of its attempted analysis and my field of vision completely spiraled in a counter-clockwise fashion. Suddenly E began to re-live his initial nightmare. I stopped him and tried to slowly and calmly explain that he was just tripping and everything was okay.

PHOOSH! Again, my frame of reference to everyone else vanished and I again watched E’s face melt into a rotted corpse of ash again and again. Then it hit me. I was stuck in a loop. It made perfect sense! It explained why E seemed to be experiencing successive flashbacks to the ashtray nightmare. So I tried to explain to my frightened onlookers how we were merely trapped in a time-loop and if we only discussed it rationally everything would be oka-PHOOOSH! It happened again. The very act of rationalizing the loop became part of the loop itself.

“Modern geometric neon bridge architecture at night on walkway, High Trestle Trail Bridge” by Tony Webster on Unsplash

I quickly realized that to everyone “outside” of the loop, our behavior seemed irrational and completely non-linear. The philosophical implications of non-linear thinking enraptured me and I quickly stopped caring about the “Holy shit, are they okay?”-look plastered on everyone else’s face and focuses on enjoying the rare privilege to critically analyze the mechanical working of a salvia trip. Basically the acid allowed us to strip the salvia trip down to its bare framework, analyze it, and re-experience the ego-death over and over, all whilst enjoying the intense acid hallucinations as well.

After 5–6 minutes, P followed us down the rabbithole with a hit of his own, with M right behind him. Their process of getting “in the loop” was much smoother without the ashtray trauma so they were both up to our level quickly. Here is where the trip skyrocketed to the next level. Once M and P began their loops, they immediately synchronized with E and myself.

This synchronization began in the kitchen, and thus became a dominant “cue point” for the remainder of the trip. The four-way loop between us fell into a regular pattern that followed a counter-clockwise pattern in this order: E, M, P, myself, ad infinitum. This is very difficult to put into coherent words so bare with me, I am going to try my best to elucidate the mechanics of our quadruple salvia loop.

The result of taking a hit of 15x extract of salvia while tripping on acid was divine. Instead of the usual mind-fuck that characterizes salvia experiences, the time-dilated loop effect allowed me stop and critically analyze the trip and its implications(as is typical of acid-induced thinking patterns) indefinitely. If I focused on a single thought/object/action/person/sentence/etc, it became a “node” or “cue” for a loop, which we will call loop X.

As long as I concentrated on the cue, my thought process was linear, albeit fairly altered because of the acid (rapid talking, stream-of-conscious thinking pattern, psychedelic/fractal geometric visuals,etc.). The primary influence of acid came from that fact that the strength of the visual hallucinations from the acid/salvia would increase as a function of time over the duration of the X loops. It became exponentially difficult to focus on any one thing and once your attention was “broken” from a cue, the loop-shift would kick in and a new X loop would begin.

Although these X loops were important in the fact that it gave you a chance to mentally ground yourself, they were part of a larger loop that was responsible for the synchronized interaction between the four of us, which I will call loop Y. The event cue of Loop Y would change literally hundreds of times throughout the rest of the trip, often with strongly “imprinted” cues repeating many times, creating a strong sense of déjà vu.

This déjà vu was a significant factor in the profound feeling of connection we all shared with each other. The fact that we were all experiencing completely independent X loops yet still able to be “tuned” in to the frequency of the larger Y loop gave us all a strong feeling of connection with the Transcendent Other.

During the trip, it was difficult to retain the complete explanation of the mechanics of the looping process in my head, so it carried a much bigger sense of the divine. However, the logical explanation for the loop interchange is just as fascinating and was certainly a challenge to get into words. To the best of my ability to understand it, the loop effect from the salvia was a result of our short-term memory being set on a time-delay. This delay is what allowed you to think linearly on X loops because you weren’t distracted by the outside information happening on the Y loop.

However, the salvia only allowed you to stay focused for so long and after the connection with the cue was broken, the captured memories of the Y loop “caught up” with you, and the “missing link” between whatever you were doing during the X loop and whatever was happening during the Y loop lit up in your head like a bolt of lightning; creating the profound sense of together-ness with your “loopin’ bros”, as we came to call ourselves (this was years before I transitioned to female)

Photo by Tine Ivanič on Unsplash

We spent the next 3–4 hours playing with time itself, manipulating the loops in a four-way rollercoaster. Because you did not receive any real-time information updates during the duration of loop X, the sensation of the other three people being just one tiny step ahead of you was very strong.

Using this knowledge, one could initiate a new event on the Y loop by introducing the other people to focus to a particular thought/object. If you could muster enough strength to focus hard enough on your own cue, you could watch the other three people go through multiple X loops, allowing endless opportunity for wackiness.

These attempts to experiment with the ramifications of four people looping simultaneously on multiple levels of “reality” usually ended with you gleefully watching everyone else fall to the ground exclaiming “Holy shit!What the fuck just happened, that was awesome!”. This was immediately followed by whatever event you spawned “catching up” to you, shifting your focus and making you fall to the ground, blown away because you were now unaware that remember started the cue event in the first place!

The very thought pattern of repeated short term memory-loss became lost in a loop of its own. We were able to juggle multiple loops among the four of us, including looped hallucinogenic visuals, OCD-esque rituals that were timely ordered to follow patterns seemingly mathematical patterns, and many psychedelic experiments and conversations. We filled pages, upon pages of writing paper with scribbled loops and jargon as we attempted to piece together the shattered remnants of our ego(s).

We managed to continue getting lost in the loops until sunrise, but eventually the process of our minds being continually blown sapped us of all mental and physical strength. The comedown slope for the salvia trip was extremely gradual and after the loops became shorter and more intermittent, the effect just fizzled out completely, leaving only the final remnants of the acid trip to play out over the next hour or so.

The only negative part of the trip was the difficulty of falling asleep and the fact that I had to get up for a job interview the next day (p.s. I got the job). With that said, this was without a doubt the most profound hallucinogenic trip I’ve had experienced and only makes me yearn more strongly for further connection with Mother Earth and her mystic Truths.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Rachel Anne Williams

Written by

Author & writer, ex-academic philosopher. Author of Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics with @JKPBooks — Out now!

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