I started being interested in psychedelics as an adolescent. The desire to alter my consciousness took root around the age of sixteen, probably thanks to my first girlfriend who had already ingested some and talked about it on occasion. I did not know where to buy any, however, so the experience remained inaccessible to me. I think the first book to catch my eye on the subject was LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann. From that moment on I was determined to try LSD, but I still did not know where to get my hands on some. I was a young introvert cartoonist with few friends, and none of them had even tried drugs. But I kept my ears open and found out that a classmate was going to take some at the Quebec Winter Carnival. I asked him if I could come along and buy some at the same time as him because I was desperate to finally quench my thirst for that sweet elixir of consciousness. So I followed him, breathless for this long-awaited moment when I would finally buy LSD. The dose was so small, however, that I felt almost nothing. It was only late that night when returning home that the snow began sounding different underfoot and I felt a strange lightness… but no more. I had to be extra attentive to feel a barely perceptible shift in my perceptions. To be honest, my first experience left me hungry for more. So I promised myself to try again as soon as I could.
In the quiet suburb where I lived at the time, you could buy tiny pills that were said to contain 75 micrograms of LSD. I knew very little about psychedelics, so it never occurred to me to take more than two at a time. I crept along, guided by my intuition and my curiosity. Subsequent experiments were better structured and usually took place in my room with my best friend. I painted my bedroom blue in honor of the color of those pills. I have nostalgic memories of those moments of communion as we re-listened to our favorite music, perceiving it in a whole new light. I finally had the feeling I understood groups like Pink Floyd, The Doors, etc.
At that time we contented ourselves with one ceremony a month, which gave me time to gather art books, to choose the music I wanted to listen to, and to prepare the ceremony to ensure comfort and that I would not have to leave my room or talk to my parents – who suspected nothing. We patched together 3D glasses by exchanging lenses between red and a blue sunglasses we wore at raves or to look at pictures. Sometimes we went outside and ran around the house to increase our blood flow to increase the intensity of our experience. Once we even dove in the pool. What an oceanic experience! We were daring but our safety was never compromised; I was already responsible and my revelations leaned towards the intellectual and artistic. A happy teenager with a passion for comics, I did not take these substances to escape my problems because I did not have any. Innocent, curious and open, I already sensed that there were more subtle and fantastic levels of reality than that of our daily lives.
While still living with my parents, I experienced with small doses repeatedly. Being reserved and shy, I had little interest in gangs and much preferred my drawing table. I was not invited to parties where young people used drugs of all kinds and drank alcohol to excess. My solitary temperament and precocious artistic vocation kept me from falling into the abuse trap or having bad experiences. I knew no one capable of teaching me the deeper spiritual or shamanic aspects of the psychedelic experience. I had no idea what I was to discover at twenty-eight when I had my first mystical experience.
I moved to Montreal when I was twenty-four. Because the dealers in the city did not inspire trust, I consumed few psychedelics until the age of twenty-seven. I did begin reading compulsively at twenty-five, however, after I had a revelation: I was not cultured. I am thankful for having undertaken this challenge, otherwise I would have found myself empty – ignorant in a society of ignorance. Thanks to the valuable advice of my girlfriend at the time – a highly educated woman, thank God! – I rolled up my sleeves and got down to the business of acquiring some culture. Because I was unemployed, I had all kinds of time to devote myself to this task I felt I needed to be a good artist, and above all a whole being. I began with literature and followed it up with philosophy, psychology, history, music, etc. Inevitably I ended up with psychedelics, which were to allow me to corroborate the knowledge and integrate it.
Timothy Leary’s Flashbacks and Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan set fire to the powder. From that moment on I had only one desire: LSD-25. One thing led to another and I finally found some – or it found me – because in this situation synchronicities are fundamental. So it was with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning that I took, at age twenty-eight, the archetypal LSD on Mount Royal on a beautiful sunny day. Eureka! At last! The experience was similar to those described in the books I had devoured with a passion. I took the equivalent of 100 mg, therefore the experience was mainly visual and sensory. Being in a public place I was not drawn into my inner worlds and lived rather an experience of communion with Leary, life and nature. The colors were spectacular, plants seemed made of satiny velvet. I was happy and content.
I then discovered the Psychonaut shop, which had just opened in Montreal. At the time, the ethnobotanicals they offered were unfamiliar to me, but they were legal. So I tried them. The people working there were solicitous for my safety and well-being. I had previously smoked Salvia Divinorum, the divine sage, on three occasions. It is a powerful psychedelic available in several shops in Montreal, but Salvia did not leave me with a good impression. So, instead, I purchased with heightened anticipation pieces of dried San Pedro, the Peruvian Torch. It took me a few tries before finding the right dose and the right way to ingest this foul-tasting cactus. I first tried boiling it and drank the gooey green tea I extracted from it. This cactus has the most disgusting flavor of anything I have tried in my life, and even today when I think of it, I get chills. Then I refined my technique. I ground the cactus to a fine powder and added a little water to make small sticky balls that I could swallow with a little water and not have to taste them. My desire to experience them was stronger than my repugnance. With a quasi-superhuman will I swallowed this disgusting substance and bravely resisted the nausea that overpowered me the first hour. I had no idea it would allow me to reach the most sublime ecstasy which was given me to experience. This was one of the most important moments of my life, because with 40 grams of dried San Pedro, I awoke to the spirit. At that moment, Psychedelic Master was recalled to life.
Extract from The Psychedelic Master