Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures


Taking a balanced, objective approach, the book depicts a broad spectrum of altered states, from the sublime to the terrifying. Included are fifty narratives about unforgettable psychedelic experiences from an international array of subjects representing all walks of life. Supplemental essays provide a synopsis of the history and culture of psychedelics and a discussion of the kinetics of tripping.

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Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures

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Taking a balanced, objective approach, the book depicts a broad spectrum of altered states, from the sublime to the terrifying. Included are fifty narratives about unforgettable psychedelic experiences from an international array of subjects representing all walks of life. Supplemental essays provide a synopsis of the history and culture of psychedelics and a discussion of the kinetics of tripping.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The bulk of this book consists of 50 first-hand accounts of the authors' experiences on various drugs, including cannabis, peyote, LSD, and Ecstasy. The narrators, drawn from across the globe, include poets, musicians, healthcare professionals, and members of the clergy--not to mention a few librarians. Although many speak anonymously, others, like poet Anne Waldman and journalist Steve Silberman, write under their own names. Several stories recount similar experiences: feelings of unspeakable bliss, a direct connection with God or Nature, a vision of one's own birth or death. There are also horrific experiences like that of Kenny who, high on LSD, burned over 60 percent of his body after jumping into a bonfire. Supplemental essays discuss the basic features of the psychedelic experience and the cultural history of tripping. The author intends the book for "psychonauts" who want to compare notes and for the uninitiated who wish "to vicariously experience the thrills and trauma of the trip." It is the latter to whom the book will appeal most.--William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
... a fascinating journey through the wonders and terrors of psychedelic \ life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140195743
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Series: Compass Series
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 778,586
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Hayes has been a writer/editor for a variety of businesses and organizations, a communications manager for a marketing firm, and a journalist whose work has appeared in The Earth Times and E Magazine. A resident of Westchester County, New York, Charles can be contacted by email at and at his website,

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Read an Excerpt

\ One of the things that prompted this book was the tale of a real Celt of a fellow I knew who worked as a pressman in the inky bowels of one of New York City's dailies, where the paper was printed. One night at a smoky, old-time saloon for "newspapermen," he relayed how he'd taken acid one evening and witnessed his own conception by way of catching his parents in the act of making him. There they were on the living-room sofa, enjoined at the loins, making tender love in the supple skins they wore the night they brought him into this world. He said that he'd just sat there and wept at the shuddering beauty of the scene, the roseate gleam on the lovers' bodies, the sweet desire that moved them to merge so moistly and meaningfully.
The story amazed me. It was as if he'd been granted a glimpse of his own genesis through a sort of umbilical telescope, a once-in-a-lifetime cruise through the sap of the family tree. Still, I wondered about the rules that govern such screenings. "Of course, you're really not supposed to see these things," I thought. It must have been the action of some powerful agent that had pulled some strings to broadcast such a sacred moment.
Visions of this sort are naturally considered forbidden, a violation of the sanctity of parental privacy, akin to unveiling the face of Jehovah Himself -- not to mention the whole rap sheet of Oedipal transgressions inherent in peeking through the keyhole of your parents' love chamber when they're getting it on. It's just not done. If you get caught, you're in trouble, right? But who was there to catch him? Only his conscience, perhaps, but he didn't feel guilty about what he was seeing. Far from it. He was so overcome with joy and tenderness -- and gratitude for being hatched in such a loving, orgasmic reverie -- that he was weeping for the sheer conjugal majesty of it all.
I wondered, "Is there a legitimate spiritual, psychological or emotional purpose for his being shown this vision? Will he be a better person for having spied on his parents in the act of coitus, even if they were doing it to beget him?" Well, spying may not be the word for this, but the sort of act he'd just taken in is not your standard spectator sport. Should his peeping be chalked up to chemical tomfoolery and summarily tossed back into the iridescent spume of the psychedelic sea as so much indigestible Freudian detritus?
Other questions arose. Could there have been any authenticity to the vision? Could it actually have occurred the way he saw it? Or was it a sort of multimedia Jungian-style merging of the yin and yang hemispheres of his subconscious into one orgone-suffused ball of wholesome regenerative energy by which he effectively gave birth to himself? Clearly, the vision had worked its "intended" effect. He was in total rapture and later considered the vision a grace. Still, I wondered, "Isn't there a damn good reason for the erection of the curtain he'd peeked through? And why was he allowed to part the curtain? What made him special? Was it who he was or what he ate? How do you get hold of the metaphysical View Master that holds such phantasmal celluloid in its image wheels? Is it conceivable that a psychoactive drug could be sanctioned for such purposes by the powers that govern human consciousness and our relations with our progenitors?"
The (generic) psychedelic, of course, can also open the hatch at the other end of a life span, when the wick first licked by the flame of creation finally wavers, flickers down, and poof! -- blows out altogether. According to Terence McKenna, perhaps the world's leading exponent of psychedelic consciousness (who, sadly, died of a brain tumor when this book was in production), psychedelic states anticipate the dying process, which can be an inward journey to explore celestial, paradisal, and infernal realms. In revealing that the emperor wears no clothes and that things fall apart, the psychedelic experience decrypts the death bound into all things.
Death is therefore a succinct term for the process of undoing that all our doings must and do lead. Showing us brief, resonant images of aging and decay (e.g., one's own mug on that of a car-crash victim lying on the road, a hallucination one tripper reported to me), and dissolving the boundaries that separate us from the knowledge of life in the next room (the next skin, the next eon, the next incarnation…), the psychedelic is most surely concerned with death, with endings that, if we could only see, become beginnings in other forms.
When the psychedelic first rocked me in my early twenties with shimmering new sensibilities that shook my petty mortal concerns like so many scales from my skin, it struck me that I was being offered a friendly glimpse into the grave. For the first time I had the distinct notion that death was not some stationary finish line or exit door off in the hopefully distant future, but a body of revelation that even now arced back toward the beginning, reaching back to inform, to ready, to greet and to welcome. I saw that my own death could be a lyric memory, that the circular river of time was like a gently flowing menstrual stream from the mind of God, a pregnancy with death the child.
Naturally, there are more terrifying guises of death that the psychedelic can conjure, but these are likely tied to the latent guilt that knowledge of death is a sort of transgression -- along the lines of Jehovah's grave warning that no mortal shall ever see His face. In the frightfully ratiocinative short story by the pre-revolutionary Russian writer Leonid Andreyev, after Lazarus has a taste of the Other World, the salt in this one loses its savor. In the film Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is forbidden to open his eyes to behold the power and mystery of Creation unleashed when the Ark of the Covenant is unduly sprung open by the Nazis. There is invariably at least one story in each of the world's mythologies that admonishes us not to poke around in such realms or crowd the Creator Himself.
Perhaps there are some cosmological scenes that are set off limits to human awareness by the powers of the universe, authorities senior by far to those of family and state. There could be good reason to keep a lid on the cask that holds the mysteries of the Great Beyond, but then again, maybe that's too much to ask of mere mortals. If such a cache can be found, perhaps we owe it to ourselves to open it and have a look. If the voices of the Sirens are so sweet, can't we hear just a verse or two? Maybe the force that forbids us is only fear and not some imperative moral authority after all.
In the belief that glimpses into alternative realities can shed light on this one, and that no encounter with the ineffable is so otherworldly as to be justly forbidden or void of some correlative (if not yet determined) meaning for this life, I set out in 1994 to document psychedelic experiences that were transformational, awe provoking, or otherwise indelible to their subjects. After several years spent digging up willing voices for the project in locations across the globe, and then transcribing their stories, the product of my quest is the compilation of narratives that comprises this book.
My intent in assembling these unusual, often unsettling tales is to create a work not so much of literature but one of document. By rendering into print the astonishing phenomena of psychedelic drugs - as well as their impact on the human psyche - they can be rescued from the stream of ephemera, dried off in the prosaic light of reading lamps, and then ruminated over by a larger population of fellow and vicarious travelers.
The contents of this book are in many ways the stuff of dreams, in this case chemically-induced ones: phantasms seen with eyes that were opened by a foreign agent, a force often so subversive as to undermine one's faith in the reality of things as they generally appear. If dreams conjured in sleep should have any meaning for those awakened by them, then these gathered here, spun out of some keen yet alien wakefulness, might have even more. \ \
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Table of Contents

TrippingNote to the Reader

Part I: Introduction
The Psychedelic (in) Society: A Brief Cultural History of Tripping

Basic Features of the Psychedelic Experience

Methodology and Perspectives Used in the Making of This Book

Part II: The Narratives
Aaron: Trawling the ghost stream

Alice Dee: Highway to the sky: The road seen only by the dreamer

Anne Waldman: Point and Click: Icons in the window to the ancestral manse

Brendan: Pealing Faces

Bruce Eisner: Dazed in the desert at the end of time

Carl: The wat of the world

Charles Hayes: Eat the moment (and other stories)

Charlie: That's when I realized I was out of my senses

Clark Heinrich: Heaven (and another story)

Daniel: I realized I was dead

Dennis: They don't show you all this on the top of the mountain just to destroy you on your way down

Fiona: Unbridled

George: Saved by the belle (and other stories)

Gregory: Sinister toys and the Internet of souls

Henry Bass: Hallucinating the horror of sobriety

Herbie Greene: Ride the snake and break on through (or) Crashing the snake dance

Jack: The pinball machine I could play without feeding it coins

James: Hell's den and Pan's glen (and another story)

Jarl: An early absolution

Jason: The orgasm death dance (and other stories)

Jeremy: The schlomus: The price of a moment's doubt

John Perry Barlow: My first trip

Julian: An awakening from within

Kate Coleman: Then the emotions started happening

Keely Stahl: The menacing orgasm that almost melted me away

Keith: First communion with life

Kenny: How can I die if I'm not here? (and other stories)

Kevin: To either die or come

Lena: I've definitely been psychotic

Leonard Gibson: Portals of flame, petals of the lotus blossum

Leonard Mercado: Psychedelic terra firma

Malcolm: The Psychedelic is the Center

Marcel: Is this a trap or a welcome?

Mark: Sounding the black box of the subconscious

Mark Fischer: Over the spillway

Matthew S. Kent: Maha maya: The V in my path

Megan: A blink of rabbit fur

Paul Devereaux: Do I want to be seeing this?

Peter: Everything else was normal (and other stories)

Philip Cooper: The Cathedral of San Pedro the Divine

Reverend Marianne: The vision made it real (and other stories)

Robert Bell: I had a theory who I was (and another story)

Robert Charles Wilson: The Immigrant's landing

Ruth: The apostate's homecoming

Sarah: Our Lady of the Eastern Star

Stephen Kessler: The initiate

Steve Silberman: the organismic display monitor

Steven Martin Cohen: A thousand cruise missles pointed straight at my brain stem

Terry: Loosing the hounds of war

Tim Page: Memoirs of an acid-salved war photographer

Part III: A Conversion with Terance McKenna
Appendix: A Concise Index of Psychedelic Substances

Bibliography and Resources

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2001

    The truth about tripping

    There should really be more books similar to this one. As a 17 year old just venturing into a new world filled with drugs and choices to make about them, I was helped by this book. Because I read detailed stories both good and bad, I feel that I am more prepared to make the decision and to be ready to have an experience like any of the ones I read about.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2000

    Spread Your Wings and Fly!

    'Tripping' by Charles Hayes is a tantalizing glimpse into the reality of the LSD experience. It is a very welcome antidote to the anti-drug hysteria which passes for objective reporting. This collection of stories is a delight to read because each tale is as unique as the teller, and the reactions run the gamut from intense joy, to sadness, to spiritual bliss, to terror, to hilarity. Enjoy them all! Besides being so refreshingly honest and good to read, the book is also a valuable reference source, since Hayes has included some thoroughly researched scholarly material. Definitely a winner!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2000

    Psychedelic field work

    Hayes gives us an excellent collection of reports from the field, a primary resource for rational discussion of the impact of hallucinogens on our culture. The stories cover the whole scope of the experience--the hilarous, the horrible, the transformative and the ineffable. Most importantly they reveal the intensely individual nature of tripping. You won't find here the hysterically monolythic picture generally given. Read this book now!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2000

    What a Great Idea!

    Finally someone has brought together in one book a collection of awesome tripping accounts. What it's really like to trip? What is it like? Well, this book will give you as good an idea as you can get without actually tripping. The truth is so incredible and infinite. Go f

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

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