On a farm outside Milwaukee, a little group gathered on a treeless hillside. A hillside just coming out the Northern deep freeze, grass blanched and pressed by the snows but starting to lean into real spring. You could smell soil again. Puffy luminous clouds marching along in the warm breeze waiting like an expectant audience, to be a witness to our drug adventure. Could the silent, muffled clouds make a sound. These soon would. Three were old hands, ready to be tossed into the maelstrom, open to the adventure. I was glad of the company. Me…I was a trembling wreck, could I pass the test? Marijuana which I had learned to enjoy only after being rescued from a “freak out” by hearing Otis Redding on the radio singing Try a Little Tenderness—which became my initiation into the kinesthetic magic of the theatre of the mind. One only needed to stand fast to pass the firey winds of a lion-guarded gate. But Pot was only intense for an hour or so and any freakout only lasted a few minutes, Acid? They said it could go on for 12 hours appended by the notorious Flashback. Did I want to “play Russian roulette with my mind”?
Well, I guess I did. I was in the embrace of copacetic friends and it was a fine day in a lovely setting, and I was about to leave school to join the world, and besides, we had Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience, (co-edited by Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and Ralph Metzner) his guidebook for the tripper based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. We were set to journey into the wilderness land of the mind. The Tibetan instruction for the journey of the dead seemed essential as the nature of the acid experience was “Ego Death” As the drug took hold I found myself digging away the waste of last years grass to open a slit revealing the black soil of Wisconsin. I had come to love soil as avidity for gardening had taken hold of my life. I was a sculpture major but my required minor (most took up some kind of history) found me at the AG school learning soil science vegetable production, etc. in preparation for the “Back to the land” fantasy many of my fellow counter-culture-ites entertained— I took a deep draw of the dark furrow I’d scratched and the odor smelled like the skull cap of my newborn’s head. Mmmmm… I looked up as the drug was beginning its mind sweeping and what came washing ashore and Laura who was our designated driver began reading the text: Oh, nobly born…the book began directly quoting the original Tibetan Book of the Dead