Zombie Parties and Phantom Cigarettes
Strange Phenomena in the Realms of the Unexplained
The psychoactive realm of the Nightshade family truly stands in a league of its own. There is nothing more powerful than tropane alkaloids when it comes to inducing vivid hallucinations. The hallucinogenic experience under the influence of these compounds are described as extremely real. Sometimes they can be crazy trips where the person is overloaded with frightening imagery (mainly when misused and abused; not respected). Other times it can take a much lighter note with the user having imaginary get-togethers with old friends and strangers, sharing many laughs, deep conversations, and phantom cigarettes. There is no telling which direction it will go if you are to just start consuming it like this. The type and range of interaction in these realms is exceptionally various.
But here’s where it gets tricky. The hallucinations can be a 360 degree change of scenery, or even just partial change of scenery blending into the scenery we are really in. People show up and look just as real as anyone who is physically there with them. You lose the ability to distinguish the real from the unreal in this realm. She can be quite cunning in this respect
There is also some very strange phenomena that seem to happen when under the spell of tropanes. Among some of the most common themes that seem to repeat themselves are:
- Phantom Cigarettes:
The smoking of imaginary cigarettes that many times seem to fall out of their hands on the floor leaving the user to look frantically around for the burning cigarette only to realize later that they were never actually smoking one!
- Imaginary parties and get-togethers:
Seeing old friends and people they haven’t seen in a really long time. Spending hours together laughing, drinking, smoking, socializing, only to find out later that no one was ever at the house and the people from the experience were nowhere near the vicinity at the time.
- Interaction with the deceased:
Reports of dead friends, relatives, and pets interacting within the experience, sometimes bringing closure, and sometimes leaving a disturbing memory to haunt them from there on out.
- Functioning in the same hallucination as other users with them and telepathic communication
reports of users functioning within the same framework of hallucination passing cigarettes to each other, seeing the same imaginary people involved in the same conversations. At times there have even been reports of users being able to hear each others’ calls between a far distance or without verbal communication.
Many users had no knowledge of the common phenomena among others’ experiences before the experience. The ways a hallucination can interact on such similar terms and on multiple users at once within the same hallucination calls many things about the framework of reality and our understanding of the hallucinatory experience into question. Most users leave Lady Nightshade’s arena with a vivid memory of something extremely powerful and “not of this world”.
First time users greatly underestimate the power and potential of these powerful compounds. Keeping themselves under wraps in a public setting or at home around family members becomes almost impossible. Most of these reports end up in hospitalization because of the user’s bizarre behavior. Family members are freaked out by the delirium of their teenager, unaware that they have consumed something of this magnitude. Essentially, they are living in a dimension of their own (or perhaps a very real dimension we cannot see from this one- like the dreamscape while physically awake) all the while ignorant of the dimension of real world reality. A few cases end up with police involvement and come out facing charges. This is greatly due to the fact that They had no idea how out of touch with this dimension they would become while on that much of the drug, so when confronted by police or medical staff users have been known to be aggressive and sometimes violent.
But again please keep in mind that this is the result of abusing a powerful plant. This is the result of not respecting a powerful force and for that you really can’t put all the blame on the plant here because she is so much more than what the negative results of irresponsible minds do with her… I mean lets face it kids like to get in trouble.
So lets take a look at some of the reports of recreational use and government research. We will see a very strange but very common phenomena experienced in Lady Nightshade’s court:
Zombie Parties and Friends from Way Back
Reoccurring in many of these trips is the sudden appearance of company that appear into one’s trip. Friends they ‘haven’t seen in a really long time’ and strangers alike magically appear and walk into the house. The user is oftentimes happy to join in and mingle with his guests:
“I looked at the foot of my bed and my two best friends were standing there. I started laughing hysterically at the fact that they would stop by and wake me up at such a late time. I preceded to have a little party in my room with them. They came up and sat on either side of me and we had a great time passing joints and smoking cigarettes. I paused the little shindig and went to the bathroom. I used the bathroom and while washing my hands I looked into the mirror and my face contorted into an impossible shape and I shook myself off and splashed some water on my face, still none the wiser to what was happening. I walked back to my room where at my door my mother was standing. I greeted her and informed her that my friends had stopped by for a late night visit. She gave me the weirdest look I think she has ever given me. I re-entered my room and my friends were nowhere to be found.” –Late Night Parties and Everlasting Cigarettes
You can imagine the feeling of fully accepting the fact that you have just held on to a vivid hallucination as though it was fully functioning reality. This where the effect of the drug can play the trickster.
“So began a series of hallucinations. In the house’s second bathroom, I saw Jenny standing next to me, looking at me. I turned to her and resolved to muster a reassuring smile but when I turned I realized that what I had been looking at was my own reflection in the mirror. I was very alarmed and thought “this is madness,” but my reflection was wearing the placid smile I had put on for Jenny and my calm expression was somewhat reassuring.
From that point on I was very messed up and was moving around, bumping into things, hallucinating and tormented by mental confusion. I had minimal short term memory and at one point noticed that I had left the bathroom sink running full tilt for an unknown length of time. Colors and sounds were amplified. There were times when there were lots of people in the room, having a party. When I tried to talk, they’d stop and listen, realize I was incomprehensible and then ignore me and continue their conversations.” – This is Madness
” Just then there was a knock at the door, it was my girlfriend wondering where i was, she had brought three friends with her, all people I had went to school with in earlier years and had moved away, this did not seem odd to me at the time. I invited them in and we started talking about something. I can’t remember exactly what, I reached in my pocked for a lighter light a cig my girl had given me, but when I looked up they were gone. I mean VANISHED.” –Strongest Thing I’ve Ever Taken
Another says of his girlfriend who had drank tea made from belladonna foliage:
“I asked her about her ‘trip’ and she said that after we left all sorts of people she hadn’t seen in a long time showed up at our apartment, and there was a big party. She actually thought that both my friend and I had come back at some point during the night. She said she had a lot of fun.
We later contacted virtually everyone she saw (some were unreachable as she hadn’t been in contact with them for years) and none of them had come over, most of them were not within 200 miles from our apartment at the time. When she was at work that day she thought that I had come to visit her (she worked alone most of the day as a screen printer in a big shop) and that we talked all day long. She said her boss came in a few times and asked who she was talking to, and anytime he did, she explained that she couldn’t exactly remember. Only shortly after he left did I reappear and she did not at the time (both when it was happening, and again when she was explaining it to me) seem to understand how illogical this was.” – The Manson Family Killed on this Plant
Some people seem to have glowing experiences in her kingdom for reasons that are vastly unclear:
“I remember walking around my dorm thinking that I was naked, and there were at least 10 people in every room. I didn’t know any of them, but I was able to talk to quite a few of them. They seemed to ignore my nudity, and I understood this to be a sign of friendship. In my room there were four people I’ve never seen before, my little brother, and a hallucinated version of my sober [sitter] friend (who was actually trying to help the other guy [likely in another dorm] tripping on the floor). We talked for what seemed like years, discussing many things from the Roman empire to how butterscotch was made.” –Entering Insanity
One thing is certain, She sure has a sense of humor about Her when She isn’t so sinister to those few folks who aren’t cut out for her realm..
In Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, James S. Ketchum gives us an invaluable resource during his time as Colonel in the U.S. ARMY. at Edgewood Arsenal in the late 1960’s. These same themes were described in trial runs given to ARMY volunteers during research into the effects and uses of incapacitating agents like synthetic atropine-derivative, 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, also known as BZ:
“…With regards to persons in his vicinity, recognition may be accurate for individuals whom he has met prior to testing, such as the doctor or nurse; other people may erroneously be greeted as old friends from his outfit, or even relatives. At times, he may react to large objects possessing a vertical shape as if they were people. One subject tried to provoke a fight with a simulated gun mount; another said “Excuse me, Sir” to the water fountain when he accidentally brushed against it. In more extreme states of confusion, he may even initiate conversations with hallucinated individuals. He conducts these one-sided conversations in such a natural, unstudied manner that acting is out of the question…”
Phantom Cigarettes: Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
The hands down most common phenomenon that users report is smoking phantom cigarettes. The user thinks they are completely real until it either vanishes into thin air or falls on the ground never to be found again. It will be some time before they realize that they had never been smoking one to begin with! It is quite comical because it usually occurs indoors in one’s home so they are tearing their room apart because they don’t want to burn the house down. She sure enjoys playing the role of trickster in scenes like this. It is also interesting to note that tobacco is also in the nightshade family
It really makes you scratch your head when trying to make sense of such things. Why this ‘phantom smoking’ would be such a commonality reoccurring and not only that but disappearing to involve the user in this wild goose chase looking for it when it disappears!
“Again, like so many before, I found myself searching for dropped cigarettes… but they were burning through and sliding under the sheets. I could feel the burnt holes and heat coming off them, feel the cigarette roll away from me under the sheets. And then it hit me that I never lit a cigarette, but i sure needed one. Forget that I was just thrashing around like a wild man for imaginary cigarettes. it was time for the real thing. I actually smoked the same amount as I normally do (30 to 45 min apart). But I always felt like I had one in my hand. Many times my index, middle fingers and thumb would meet as I spaced off and that would induce a frantic cigarette hunt. It was mostly happening in my left hand which I don’t even smoke with. this is the aspect I am most curious about of all my experiences.” – I’m Eating at McDonalds
“Before I could give a second thought I found myself sitting on the ground of what seemed like the park and I was smoking cigarettes that just kept falling out of my hand or just float away. This little scenario kept repeating itself for most of my memory… …Finally, I woke up in my bed the next morning wondering how I got there and feeling like everything I had just witnessed was nothing more than a long vivid dream. I also realized I was smoking a cigarette and and that I dropped it on my blanket, but when I went to fetch it, it was nowhere to be found, no smoke no burns, nothing.” –The Living Dream
“I lay there for sometime just thinking and soaking everything in. For some odd reason I always had a cigarette in my hand that would never go out or need to be ashed… …So my attention went from the mirror to my hand where a freshly lit cigarette sat waiting to be smoked. This made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I smoked and smoked and smoked and again the cigarette never burned down any.” –Late Night Parties and Everlasting Cigarettes
Another bunch decided to stock up before the event and roll a bunch of cigarettes for the experience. Little did they know…
“Four of us decided to do it together in an abandoned coca cola bottling factory we were squatting. We set up two mattresses on the ground, some rugs, and rolled a ton of cigarettes because we figured we would be too messed up to want to roll cigarettes… [Later during the trip]: …At some points we are all awake, talking, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer together, passing them around to each other. Sometimes someone drops a cigarette or drink and its gone as soon as it hits the floor. We look around for it but it can’t be found… The next day when we get up around 2 pm we all feel pretty sober. We realized that no one had come over, we hadn’t drank anything, and that all the cigarettes we had rolled were still there waiting.” –Lucid Dreaming
“Next thing I know I whip out a cigarette that I distinctly remember leaving behind my ear. I begin a quest in search for a lighter. I continuously search over and over the same square feet of carpet in front of me for a lighter but I don’t find one. Magically I realize that my cigarette is already lit. ‘Duh!’ I think to myself, and begin smoking it. Moments later it falls on the floor and I start searching for it, but it’s gone. Wtf! WHAT THE FUCK? Take a wild guess what I do next? I reach behind the same ear and find another one; however this doesn’t strike me as slightest bit unusual. I just go on smoking it. Oh… of course- without a lighting it first.” –Delerium in Perdition
It can also be further noted that not all the people that experienced the ‘phantom cigarettes’ phenomenon even smoked cigarettes:
“Around about this time, Cal took a draw of and passed me an invisible cigarette, of course I had read about this in other reports, finally it had kicked in! I had not mentioned the phantom cigarette phenomenon to Cal before, nor had he read about it, this is also surprising because he doesn’t smoke. The seeds weren’t fake. I told him he passed me nothingness & he said “No way, I must have dropped it” –Not Quite What I Had Expected
This next exhibit is from a piece the news did warning of the dangers of jimsonweed. Below you can see these two being filmed at the police station. They are passing these ‘phantom cigarettes’ to each other flicking them. and it looks as real as a mime acting out his routine. However, they really are smoking in their minds. It is interesting to point out these two are functioning within the same hallucination. If the theory that hallucination is just taking place in the person’s mind, how do you explain two separate minds in the same hallucination? It makes me think about how physicists today talk about many dimensions that share the same space but at a different vibration. Have they tuned themselves to this vibration and opened up the ability to view and function within these other dimensions?
The phantom cigarettes were also confirmed again in James S. Ketchum’s Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, while administering BZ to the volunteers. He stated:
“Hallucinations seem to dominate the field of awareness, and real objects and persons are generally ignored or ludicrously misinterpreted. Touch seems to become the most important sensory system. , and the hands are ceaselessly active, exploring clothing, bedding, walls, floor and crevices of the environment. Smoking and drinking of phantom cigarettes and beverages are very common.”
In one chapter he describes play-by-play each hour of one volunteer’s experience under BZ:
18:35 – Nurse asked the aid man how to spell ‘convenienced’ and subject responded “CONVENIENCESHIT!” Smoking imaginary cigarettes. Sitting cross-legged on floor.Picking at ARMY blanket. “Let us spray” (sic)
20:15 – Once again stated that his hands and feet were very red. Stated that he had eggs for breakfast, and talked of his field jacket. “It isn’t mine and don’t push me brother! Smoking an imaginary cigarette.
40:55 – Stepping very cautiously about room. Dropping pillowcase over back and round shoulders. Appears to be putting on pack. “Go ahead take it (Blood pressure) while I play with the kittens. Nice kitty.” Fed ice cream. “Gordan will build them if anybody will.” “This country better hurry up or we’ll be in another depression.” “When in doubt, blow it out.” Standing at window smoking imaginary cigarette.
47:30 – Lays down with much insistence to vital signs. It is very difficult to get the subject to do anything at this point. “I’m not sorry I’m married to you I’m really not.” “Here comes Caroline.” Smokes imaginary cigarettes. Talks to imaginary people. While standing, looking at the wall, grabbed nurse’s cap while she was sitting on stool. Twisted stethoscope around her neck. “Oh, I thought you were a truck driver.” walked over to window. “I hope they don’t have this damn door locked.” “Hey a pack of cigarettes, if you can read Mexican.”
You can’t buy comedy like this in the real world. But it certainly leaves one with more questions than answers. Does the drug activate something in our mind that deals with habitual daily activities thereby creating these imaginary ‘phantom cigarettes’? And Then how do we explain the whole aspect of the cigarette’s cat-and-mouse game with the user. Is this the spirit and antics of Lady Nightshade playing pranks on these users for kicks?
Conversing with the dead: Closure and Chaos in a Strange Land
One of the less common re-occurrences but highly worthy of study is the appearance of deceased friends and relatives. There have been reports describing closure after seeing late friends, surrounded by their energy and later coming to understand that they still existed, just in a different form. Perhaps death is not the end of existence:
“I also continuously heard voices calling to me, usually calling my name, and I know that I experienced them during my first ‘trip’. However, this time around there was a much more personal connection; about the half the time that I heard my name being called it was the voice of my dear friend Jul, who died this past winter. Every time I heard it I knew it was him, and I could feel his presence all around me. This reminds me, I also heard my aunt’s voice during my first experience; she died a couple of years before, and was my closest relative outside of my nuclear family (in emotional terms). Before either of my trips I read many reports because i am highly interested in the specific effects of every plant or chemical I try, and because it is necessary to my survival. I am now convinced that when this Nightshade doesn’t kill you, it offers access to the land of the dead. I must stress this is not an experience that everyone is ready for, or even meant to have…
…I have grown from both of these experiences [belladonna]; especially the latter, as I was shown that my friend is happy where he is. I am an atheist, but I believe that our bodies are energy, and with death that energy must move somewhere. I was shown that he is living everywhere, but that he was very much living in me, especially due to the energy I put into my love for him. I had a dream in the days afterwards, in which I was chasing my friend. I got to a point where I was so close to catching him, and a man stopped me; he held me by the shoulder and only shook his head slightly. But I could tell just by looking in his eyes that I wasn’t meant to go forward. I was filled with a sense of understanding and happiness, and it was like a weight was being lifted from me.” –The Land of the Dead
Other times, however, the experience with the deceased was not so pleasant and brought more trauma than closure:
“I appear in my old house in Tampa and my friend that died like 2 years ago is there and I’m a ghost and we take for a while and he is real mad at me and said I killed him but I didn’t and he casts me to hell. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS BAD. I’m in a room where the corners of the room are flashing bright red and every time they flash it hurts a lot. And I cover my eyes but nothing I can do stops the light and I can see it in the same spot no matter what I do and my friend’s parents are there yelling at me and crying saying that I killed their son and hitting me with those glow wands from Demolition Man.” –World of Pain
“After this I found myself at my friend Jessie’s old house where she moved away from some time ago, yet there she was along with her grandfather who had passed away about a year ago. I remember that he spoke in the most horrifying, miserable voice and I couldn’t bear to hear it.” –The Living Dream
Our deceased pets even tend to show up in some reports:
“A dog ran out in front of me, it was my old dog, which had long since passed away. For some reason I thought this was real, it seemed so real. My head was full of static noise as I followed my dead dog down to the park where I had originally taken the deadly nightshade into my eye. As I walked my legs would fall out from under me causing me to go crashing into the road, but my dog would always wait for me.” –Screaming Voices
“I reached over to pet my dog, which is strange considering my dog died when I was twelve.” –Strongest Thing I’ve Ever taken
A Change of scenery and telepathy
Some of the reports will involve being in a completely different landscape than the one they were physically functioning in. These are tactile hallucinations (with emphasis on touch and feeling). You could physically be in your living room but experience yourself at say, a beach:
“I swear I remember [in the trip] when I was at the beach and I really felt like I was there. No messin’ around I’m serious. What I’m sayin’ seems to be hard to believe but I was actually trippin’ that hard… ….I kept getting memory lapses and thinking I was at the beach again. I actually remember stepping on the sand and feeling the sand.” –Not Doin This Shit Again
“[user is at hospital psyche ward] …From this point onwards, things get real fucking weird. I get up off my bed and search through all my drawers on my study desk in my room at home in search for my glasses. No luck. So I turn around and rummage through through my bedside table. I can’t find them anywhere. All of a sudden I realize that I am actually standing in front of the wall in the hospital ward.” –Delerium in Perdition
Later on this same user, along with two of his buddies also admitted to the psyche ward, are separated from each other in different wards. They each experience the same hallucinations and one of the buddies hears his friend yelling from his solitary confinement, even though they are in separate wards and too distant to hear him:
“I think that I have done some seriously bad crime (eaten the bad fruit) and this was my punishment: solitary confinement for the rest of my existence, which to me at the time- meant eternity. Those thoughts made me angry, so I yelled for a while until I felt tired, and eventually settle into bed… …I lay down and stare at the clock on the other side of the room. It says 4:30… …I take a step back and look at the clock on the wall. But it’s not there anymore… …Next delusion- my hospital band strapped around my wrist becomes a Falls Festival wrist band (a yearly 3 day music festival that everyone in Tasmania goes to)… …[after released] I rendezvous with the other fools from my share house. They all look exhausted, and majorly fucked. Funny thing was, all three of us shared some same hallucinations, even though we were put in different wards, and I was confined in a solitary room. C, B, and myself, all imagined the wristband was a Falls Festival band, and also saw that same white clock on the wall that said 4:30. Quite scary actually. C also mentioned that he receives messages telekinetically, and heard me yell out to him and his friend B, even though there was no possible way of him being able to hear me from that afar. Strange. Strange.” –Delerium in Perdition
Mirror Realities: The Taste of Fear
My personal feeling on the difference of experience is found within the person. The kind of personality and character you have will more or less reflect your embracing or fearing life. Those of us who do not face our fears, work through our mental and emotional baggage, will be face to face with them in these realms. And as they manifest in similar ways within our dreams as nightmares, perhaps those same manifestations of fear and negative clutter will also be true in this landscape.
The first account user seems to have a much more accepting and embracing view on life than the second. I would say the second has a lot of hidden emotion and it is making itself known in his experience with these plants. This is not set in stone however, because even though we think we have worked through many of our fears, there is still much below the surface. But I would venture to say that it would be more likely to work in your favor than not.
Another thing to consider when we are using an entheogen is, what are we taking it for? When we use any substance for a spiritual purpose, it’s important to understand that the experience alone is not going to bring us enlightenment or answers. A substance is only a means to carry out works, meaning we have to do the work ourselves, the plant is only a channel to work through, and certainly not the only channel.
But looking at how similar these reports are and what they mean challenges many things about our understanding of the reality of other worlds. But at least now physicist have been recognizing this possibility of a multidimensional universe. I believe that we are essentially crossing frequencies. Using a plant like datura or belladonna acts as a key or gateway for inter-dimensional travel. You are open to its rate of vibration and yet you are still within the physical realm you operate from originally. When we die, it would make sense that our consciousness changes it’s rate of vibration as we are removed from the body we used. So it might be safe to assume that should we fail to work through that mental and emotional baggage from our time here, we will be face to face with them when we die. This would be a close description to the Hell of various religious mythology.
This is why I believe it is extremely important to use our time in this life wisely and work through whatever challenges and fears we face here. Stop running from your problems. They will catch up to you. Perhaps Lady Nightshade is only reflecting that side of us we hide from ourselves. Those inner fears that we spend our whole lives running from. It certainly makes you wonder…
All trip reports courtesy of erowid.org
Ketchum, James S. Chemical Warfare Secrets Almost Forgotten: A Personal Story of Medical Testing of Army Volunteers with Incapacitating Chemical Agents during the Cold War (1955-1975). Place of Publication Not Identified: James S. Ketchum, 2006. Print.