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b. 1972
cognitive scientist, human/computer systems designer, Webmaster
resides in West London
born and raised in suburban Manchester, England


Emanations from the untouched altar cloth

              I took about 250 mics of strong acid with seven friends and walked around the city of York on a warm and sunny spring day. It had rained earlier and the whole world glistened fresh and clean, an iconic ideal of how the world is supposed to look. The edges of objects wavered in a haze of half images, shifting in and out of focus.

            We walked around the ancient city walls, over the gate which had been bombarded during the English Civil War, where many so long ago had stood just there fighting for their lives. Intense rushes of tingling awareness spread slowly through my body -- the emotions of the souls engaged in the ancient conflict as well as a profound sense of my own place in the continuum of history. I could have stayed there all day, soaking up the emanations of history as I was vibrating with morphic resonance, but there was more exploring to be done.

            We cruised into McDonald’s for a “Ronald on acid” moment. It was incredible. The place was a theme park. The Hamburgler winked from the wall and when we opened the styrofoam pods, the burgers themselves appeared like steaming plastic -- just like the backlit illustrations on the wall menu. I looked at the people happily consuming, seeing into their lives for a few moments. We were in the ancient historical city of York, but we could have been anywhere in the world at all, McDonald’s is a bit like the Internet -‑ you can access the same Big Macs in any major city on the planet.

            When we left, it felt as if we’d been there for hours, though it had only been about thirty minutes. Returning to the open air and bright sunshine was like waking up from a sterile dream. We strolled up Stonegate, a merchant street since Roman times, and into a pub. The eight of us were packed in tightly around a table stacked with pints of ale. I was claustrophobic in the crowded public place, but felt comfort from the others, with whom I didn’t have to use a full sentence, but just look in their eyes and utter a knowing "Ahh" to register understanding.

            It started raining as we continued up Stonegate towards the Minster, walking against the tide of shoppers who were hurrying along, heads down against the rain. For a second I too flinched against the pelting precipitation, and then I just relaxed. Why scurry? You get just as wet and it feels quite nice anyway.

            We reached the Minster, a huge medieval cathedral with stained-glass windows and a vaulted roof of intricately-carved stone. Mirror-topped tables are provided so that visitors can see the ceiling without straining their necks. Looking into them was like gazing into a deep pool from which the stained glass was glowing warmly. I was moved by the sheer beauty of the place, the soaring ceilings that sheltered so much history, the tombs and memorials of the powerful throughout the centuries of English history.

            We decided to troop up to the top of the tower. It was a long climb up a spiral staircase and we were all hallucinating strongly. You have to walk along a pathway on the roof to get to the tower. There's a two-hundred-foot drop to the ground, which I kept uppermost in my mind as we walked. From the top we could see across the Vale of York and the whole city laid out before us. It was a magical scene. Rainbows shimmered in every direction. Our guide started chatting about the ancient city walls I'd seen earlier. I was keeping up my end of the conversation, but he looked like a Picasso painting. I saw fluid pulsing through his veins and his face morph slowly into other people’s. It was rather distracting.

            I returned to the floor of the Minster and walked through the rood screen, an ornate wooden panel on which the organ stands, and then into the chapel. Although the Minster was crowded, I was the only person in the chapel itself. I was so connected to the place that my perception of time had become fine tuned. A mere second was now a significant period of time. I could see shards of polychromatic light as if they were sliding through a rainbow, shining out from the jeweled altar cloth. I walked toward the altar and these rays of light gracefully emerged at the rate of a foot per second.

            I felt an amazing presence and power focused upon the altar and radiating from it, which gave me a rush or warmth and knowledge. "Oh wow," I gasped and groaned about five times, unable to think of anything else to say. A warm power  buoyed the center of my chest, an all-encompassing life force which made a sweeping, breath-taking assurance that life was sweet and beautiful. Was this a manifestation of the Christian God? I don't know, but at that moment, there was no doubt that a powerful force was present.

            The closer I got to the altar, the more I took heed of two thoughts that finally stopped me in my tracks before I reached it.  The first impulse was "You shouldn't put your hand on the altar cloth, because it’s not supposed to be done.” Social functioning had kicked in. The other idea was the knowledge that I was hallucinating, that the revelation of the higher power was drug-induced.

            But that did not neutralize my appreciation of this encounter or taint its spiritual and intellectual fruit. It was a very invigorating and liberating experience. The force that surged through my chest was love.


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