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11. Visualizing

For some people it is easy to visualize; they think about an apple, close their eyes and they can see one. For others it is more difficult. But it seems that magic mushrooms are helpful for nearly everyone; you imagine the most beautiful images and you really see what you think about. A shroom voyage can be a real discovery in this respect, you can watch and learn how to deal with it, and you can try it later without taking anything.

Visualization is an age-old technique, which we are slowly rediscovering. In ancient religions this has been used extensively and if you have a deeper interest in, for instance, Buddhism, you will come upon it in different exercises and meditations. Buddhas and complex but symmetric images, often painted on silk (Tangkhas), are used in meditation practice. Circular mandalas also appear in other cultures and it can be very insightful to draw something similar during a trip. To reproduce the images with the eyes closed is an exercise in visualizing and that can turn out to be a very magical experience; according to the ancient Masters it is possible to influence reality or to impose your will on the material world. Maybe this sounds a bit weird, but during a trip you are definitely on magical grounds. You don't need to think about witches or similar, but there is little doubt that there is a very particular relation between that what you make up in your mind or visualize and the outside reality, even scientists now take that serious.

Religions and spiritual schools all over the world use these techniques, but so do the management-gurus and happiness-peddlers. There is always a deep core of 'visions' and inner experiences at the heart of a tradition. There still exist people that adhere to the old earth religions and work specifically with imagination and visualization. They call themselves Wicca or Craft and also Voodoo in South America. Apart from other techniques they use visualization to strengthen their will. They do work with objects and totems, but these are merely ritual supports for what they plot in their heads. In most cases there is no bad intention, in this way one effectively seeks a positive spiritual dimension.

You can either visualize spontaneously - which is also possible without magic mushrooms - or you can use an external support. This can be a tape or a CD with suggestions (Egosoft Amsterdam has many). You can buy it or make it yourself, or you ask someone to help you. Some people are very good at that, they guide you, so to say, on the journey to the self. This is called `guided visualizations'; someone who as a guide helps, gives directions and stimulates you. The intention and the duration of such visualization is of course different. Everyone has different projects, problems, and wishes. In general there is a relaxation phase (induction), in which you relax, listen to music, and with the suggestion that, for instance, you are lying on a comfortable bed in nature, you listen to your breathing and relax all your body-parts. A possible suggestion: feel a warm colored light radiating on your feet and going upwards. The next phase is becoming active in your dream world. This can be a journey to the underworld, into your personal subconscious, via stairs to the basement, where you often encounter your parents or relatives, into a dark space where you can make peace with these deeper feelings, projections and thoughts. If you fly upwards, - the name fly agaric for Amanita muscaria was not so far-fetched - then you go to the overworld. Of course the guide can't see these worlds for you, but it is good to search for a safe spot, a secret cave and take a look at what you keep hidden there. You can also visit your parents and other people (perhaps through messengers or gifts). A whole repertoire of archetypal symbols exists. They appear in all kind of legends, the journey of the young hero through the woods, the grotesque opponents, the castle with the stairs, the strange animals that threaten him, and eventually the princess - sometimes there is a frog to be kissed - and the new role in the world. This pattern is the same in all cultures.

Building your dream castle

A special technique, also used by the Arica Institute, is the building of your own dream castle through visualization. You can build this step by step; you start with a case for the things that you want to get rid off, you imagine a chair, a cabin and you start enlarging it step by step; eventually you build a whole dream castle, counselors included. Without support you will need several sessions, but some psychedelic stimuli help you to build faster. The idea behind this is that you can keep visiting your imaginary dream castle at a later time, to contact your deeper self. If this truly becomes part of you then you can ask for counsel or find solutions for problems. Although it requires some effort, it is a nice and powerful technique. It is not new, we know that St Augustin used a similar approach as a tool to memorize things and so do Tibetan monks.
Remember to close off nicely at the end of each visualization; to consciously return to where you were, to thank your guide; you won't like to have some unfinished business haunting you. It is good to then get up for a while, do something different, have a drink and continue your trip.

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