Inner Certainty, Inner Sanctuary.

Originally I took LSD for all the wrong reasons. I was a rebel, wanted danger and was out to impress my cool new friends. I had heard it wasn’t the same strength as that taken in the 1960s and was now mostly used as a party drug – a cheaper, but more precarious alternative to E. It was dicing with sanity, willfully entering a psychotic state. You had to be hard core and fearless. I was neither, but wished I was and wanted others to think of me as such.
I had reservations. Timothy Leary had warned that you had to have a beautiful soul, or you might find yourself trapped in a living hell. I suspected I was rotten to the core but hoped I could wing it. I was used to masquing my emotions – how difficult could it be?
So my new friends scored me a blotter. I swollowed it along with my better judgement. The first thing I noticed (about an hour later) that the guy I was out to impress (over ten years my senior) was leaving trails of eyes and everything he looked at was twinkling with his eyes, thousands of eyes everwhere. Then I was in a Disney cartoon. Swirling colours moved through everything, nothing was still and everything I looked at was internally illuminated. Time fragmented and layers of action were superimposed one upon another.
And everything was absurdly funny. I laughed till the tears came streaming.
I then became the moon. Here my memory fails me. But one of my friends (the ex of the guy I was out to impress)  who was morbidly fascinatrd by Witchcraft, Crowley and the burial customs of Ancient Peoples told me that I literally blew his mind. For the first time, he later said, he knew that Magic was real. Through me the Goddess answered all his questions, including how he would die. (This would come to pass just a few months later.)
The acid did its intended trick. I got laid and felt like I had finally become an adult (I was 21).
I liked tripping so much that I wanted to stay high forever. Much to my surprise I even found that I liked myself. I would go on to try magic mushrooms and had many impossible adventures.
Simon’s trip in Magic By Button is, for the most part, pure autobiography.
One time (not in band camp) I remember biting on the washing line in our back garden in Tottenham and feeling through its vibrations every living being as separate notes in the music of the spheres. Then looking upwards I noticed coloured lights dancing in a huge perfect circle in the night sky above me. But it did not feel like an hallucination. So I called the neighbours out to verify what I was seeing. They could see them too! (I have had similar experiences several times, including in Selfridge’s when going to see Father Christmas with my tripping friend, seeing the best animation ever – except it wasn’t an animation – it was a wood chipped wall. But we weren’t the only one seeing it. Others marvelled “how do they do it?” Till one bemused observer pointed out that it was just a wall.)
But you cannot stay high forever no matter how much acid you take. The trips became less amazing and more sordid. I started seeing the bad stuff too, though I never actually had a bad trip.
The drug had stopped working properly.
Towards the end of my Summer of madness, I remember being in a limbo state between this world and the next and fearing that I would soon be in hell, so I started drumming. Finding my inner rhythm and centre grounded me and kept me calm. It was then I had, what felt like, a major revelation. I learnt who I was. It became clear that the concept of truth had no meaning other than describing the minds I (eye) divorced from all external sensation. As soon as we look outside the self for truth it becomes split into observer and observed and can only be partial.
I was concerned I would forget this so asked for a key. The phrase came, “inner certainty, inner sanctuary” except certainty and sanctuary were fused into a single transcendent word. And I have never forgotten. There is only one truth – the self.
I would not recommend LSD. I have seen friends freak out, one even needed an ambulance, convinced he was dying. And not every one returns.
But when I saw Newscaster John Snow recently freak out on skunk, I realised that Timothy Leary had got it wrong. Hallucinogens work by shattering your illusions. If you think you’ve got your life together, you may be in for a nasty shock. But if, like me, you are traumatised with low self esteem, it may just have some use.

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