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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 10. 1969.


So you're going to take LSD. You've got some, hopefully from a reliable source. You've heard a variety of reports about it, some of which must have attracted you. You have an idea of the kind of experience you're looking for, but you're apprehensive lest you have a "bum trip."

What you may not realise is that the kind of session you have depends very much on you. Perhaps you have a friend who is experienced with LSD to guide you. This is good, but nevertheless, no matter how good a guide your friend is, you will have to do most of the work yourself.

Work? Can getting high be work? Yes, a psychedelic session is very hard work, although you may do it sitting quite still and quiet. You may have to do an overhaul of your whole philosophy of life, including areas that you haven't examined for years, if ever. You may be faced with choices or decisions which will be difficult to mke. Your way of life, your habits, your relationships with others will all come under scrutiny. By the time the session is through you will be very tired.

Is LSD then no fun? Is it not enjoyable? You have heard that it is an ecstatic experience. So it is, or can be. But this is a very different kind of fun from any that you know about, from ordinary recreation or other sorts of drugs. Going into an LSD session with the idea that it will all be a lark, a carefree "high", is a mistake that leads to some bad session games.

Should you take LSD at all? This article does not answer that question, not knowing the answer, and suspecting that you have your mind made up anyhow. There is no physical or mental condition known to be a definite counter-indication to LSD in all circumstances. I would not want to turn on (a) a person under 18 or (b) a person with a history of psychosis, but I would not dogmatically say that such a person could not have a good session under guidance.

I believe that a healthy adult can have a safe and beneficial psychedelic experience, provided he knows what to do and his expectations are not unrealistic. Some of the common unrealistic expectations are: (1) that LSD will cure something; (2) that LSD will give you psychic powers; (3) that you can have a super sex experience on it; (4) that your LSD experience will be like your friend Joe's, or like some experience you have read about; (5) that it will be like marijuana, only more so; (6) that if you don't like it you can always take a tranquilizer and shut it off; (7) that LSD will improve your memory or I.Q.

If you are approaching an LSD session with any of these notions as baggage, get rid of them now. LSD is not magic. It will not make you smarter, or give you any special powers. Your experience will be your own and unlike any of which you have heard. LSD gives you a new perspective on your life for several hours, and since it is your life you will be looking at, it will not be like anybody else's session. LSD is not much like marijuana at all, potheads' boasts to the contrary notwithstanding. The session may or may not help "cure" some of your psychological problems, but you can't count on it.

One hears a lot about "preparation" for the LSD experience. You may wonder what sort of preparation you should undergo. Actually you have been preparing all your life, and those many years of preparation will outweigh anything you can do in a short time before the session. Being told to prepare for a session is a little like being told to "prepare to meet your Maker" a few hours before you are going to be shot.

If there is any last-minute preparation for the LSD experience, it would be in the nature of refreshing in your mind the things that are dearest and most sacred to you. Think about the things you care about, the people you love, the things you hope to do with your life. Try to clear your mind of negative emotions — resentments, jealousies. A good conscience is the best preparation you can have.

On the technical side, preparation consists in making sure that the physical and social conditions of the session are as they should be. Decide well in advance who is going to participate in the session. You should all know, like and trust one another. The more you have shared of life in common with your session-mates the better. Until you are very experienced you should avoid what their sexual relationship. A two-person session is This is especially true for unmarried couples, no matter what their sexual relationship, A two-person sessions is very difficult, because it puts the whole burden of social interaction on the two people. Talk is difficult on LSD. This is no problem in a group, since the group can sit quietly and nobody will be embarrassed. But in a two-person group a silence becomes awkward. Unhealthy hang-ups on what the other person is thinking and games of "mind reader" result. A relationship can be badly strained when two inexperienced people take LSD together. For your first several sessions stick to three or four member groups. Groups larger than five are to be avoided.

If none of you are experienced it is a good idea to have a friend along who does not take any LSD.

All participants in a session should get together beforehand and agree on the time and place, and composition of the group. All should agree to stay together for at least ten hours. All should have enough knowledge about LSD to be able to avoid bad session games, and should agree not to play them.

The place chosen for the session should preferably be someone's home, if possible a place that is familiar to the members of the group. Make sure you can stay there undisturbed for at least 16 hours. It should be clean, attractive and comfortable. It is a good idea to have mattresses and cushions enough for everybody to have a place to lie down if he wants to (though sitting up is best for most of a session). Blankets and handkerchiefs should be provided. If, music is wanted it should be quiet, melodic music, nothing loud or weird, and it should not be played during the second through fourth hours. Privacy is essential. Nobody should be allowed to come in or go out during the session. It should be possible to go to the bathroom without venturing into public territory.

Do not hold a session on a beach, in a field or woods unless again you are very experienced. There is too much opportunity for disorientation, fear occasioned by meeting strangers, physical discomfort and games of Where's Harry. By staying in a familiar room you have the physical environment taken care of and you don't have to concern yourself with it; confusion and distraction are minimized.

You should arrange to have both the session day and the day after it free.

In addition to providing a suitable setting for the session, and approaching it in a tranquil state of mind, you should know how to avoid certain pitfalls. These are such that one might not be aware of them without knowing something about what sessions are like. Almost everybody sooner or later slips into one of these traps, but if you have been told about them in advance you can get out quicker.

When told what not to do in a session, many people ask, "Why — is it dangerous?" Most of these "session games', with the possible expection of "Get me out of this", are not likely to be dangerous. I advise not playing them, not because they will hurt you, but because the session will probably be pleasanter and more rewarding if they are avoided.