Memento Mori: What a bad trip on marijuana taught me about the fear of death

momento mori bad trip and marijuana and fear of death
An amazing photo from:

There is a hot discussion that has been going on since a longer time concerning the legalization as well as the pros and cons of consumption of marijuana. On the one hand, there are those believing that legalization may lead to more control and transparency in marijuana’s trade while its usage may alleviate the pain and other symptoms associated with an array of illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, those against the legalization of the substance point out that marijuana is not as harmful as it is sometimes presented. In fact, they insist, if it becomes legal it will facilitate its spread to younger ages. This may further lead to further complications

The purpose of this article is not to take sides in a rather complicated issue. However, it is a fact that, among other problems that it may cause, cannabis can trigger the emergence of psychotic events. As put in this article:

“Regular use of marijuana can hasten the onset of psychotic illnesses. In fact, high-dose THC – one of the most widely studied molecules in the marijuana plant – has been found to cause acute/transient psychosis.

- -


In the language of drug consumers, this is called a bad or horror trip. And it is a true story. Weed can lead to delusions, hallucinations, disorientation and loss of time perception, disorganized thinking and speaking or even suicidal tendencies.

We know of course that psychedelic experiences with drugs such as opium, marijuana, LSD or MDMA have been inspirational. The pop and rock culture was all inspired while poets and authors such as Baudelaire, Huxley or Kerouac experimented with drugs as well. Even the German conservative writer Ernst Jünger dedicated a large book to his experiments with alcohol and drugs called “Approaches: Drugs and Ecstatic Intoxication” (originally written in German: Annäherungen: Rausch und Drogen). His comparison between witchcraft and drugs is interesting even if we may disagree:

“In those days [Middle Ages], witchcraft was treated as a capital offense. Apparitions were more worthy of faith than reality. For Faust, the “realm of the spirits”, although largely reduced to the “spiritual world”, is “never barred”, but he is only concerned with the success of thespell. He is no longer tormented by religious or moral scruples.

Similarly, in our time, the spiritual man who is a friend of the Muses asks what drugs have to offer him. By virtue of his nature, he cannot be interested in the dynamic accentuation of his vital forces, or happiness, or the absence of pain. For him, it is not even a matter of enhancing or refining the visionary faculty; like Faust in his study, what he is looking for is something that “supervenes””

Psychedelic music

The list of songs that have been associated with psychedelic drugs is long. Even it was never admitted, “Purple Haze” of Jimi Hendrix may have referred to this sort of experience.

Remember our recent article about Dead Can Dance and listen to their beautiful sond called “Opium”

We guess the “oh me” by Meat Puppets sung hier by Kurt Cobain was not irrelevant:

I can’t see the end of me

My whole expanse I cannot see

I formulate infinity and store it deep inside of me

Psychedelic rock to trance are well known in music industry, so you see how thw hole thing goes.

A bad trip on marijuana

But the negative effects cannot be neglected. And they seem to be able to give rise to dramatic and traumatic experiences with longstanding consequences.

In Internet, there are many personal reports about bad trips. Still, once a bad trip occurs, one should be able not just to narrate their story but to interpret it and use it in order to become wiser and stronger.

Therefore, I asked a friend to speak about his own experience. His testimony is valuable because neither idealizes nor refutes what he experienced.

Confronting death

“It was some years ago when I was invited with my girlfriend to spend some days by some friends in another city. The day before a party would take place the guys there decided to bake a “space cake”. I was left alone in my room for some time while in the huge apartment there was only one more guy. Since I was hungry, the smell of the freshly baked cake captured me. So, I dropped by the kitchen to pick up a piece of space cake.

Bad decision! Actually, I am not a smoker and I am not into drugs anyway. I actually have only a minimal experience with some substances, but I still prefer moderate booze to any other recreational activity of that kind. That means that my body was not at all prepared for what it was about to come.

At the beginning, I was expecting to get a bit high, like after having smoked a couple of joints or having drunk some beers. Besides, getting high in the expectation of a great party would only be relaxing. After eating the cake, I went back to my computer work, when I gradually started feeling a bit dizzy. The first 15 minutes I could still feel fine, just a bit stoned. I even texted my girlfriend, telling her “hey, I think I am stoned, lol!”.

But my situation was drastically deteriorated: after circa 30 min. I noticed I was unable to focus on the screen of my smartphone or on anything else. I wrote to my girlfriend, writing to her that I am not feeling ok. “Please come back soon” I typed with great difficulty.

The next minutes got just worse. I was feeling increased heartbeats while I was sweating. I lay down on the bed and I tried to relax. But then it was the moment when the idea of death crossed my mind. And it was there to stay.

The hours of agony

The thought of death and its dread was realistic: I knew I was on a bad trip, even if it was the first time I was experiencing something like that. But when the idea of dying appeared, there was no way to think logically any more. My heart beats were literally killing or, at least, I had a very intense feeling that the end of life is approaching.

Seriously, this is not funny. There was a point that my mind sank into darkness. “Is this how the end looks like?” I thought. Despite my situation, I tried to make sense from this, but the negativity got a grip on me. I would never realize my dreams, I would never see the beloved faces of my family and friends back home and even my girlfriend would arrive too late.

Suicidal thoughts

There was a periodization in these thoughts, like tide, coming and retreating, appearing and disappearing. At a moment, I knew I had to react, I told myself it is just the effect of the weed and it will fade away again. I stood up on my legs. Then I looked on the window. “What if I just jump right now out of it? If I could not resist the urge to die?”

This thought scared me “to death”. I pulled myself together and I moved to the next room when another guy was also stoned. “Look, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think I am dying. I do believe it”. He told me to calm down since nobody ever dies by weed (although later I came across reports that showed thatthis is not the case. There have allegedly occurred weed-induced incidents of suicide and murder). I decided to sit there next to him. At least he would call an ambulance if I would collapse and he could stop me if I would approach the window and decide to jump.

After an hour I was more aware of my situation. I watched a film or something like that with the guy. Actually, I could barely move. While I was sitting on an armchair,  I felt all parts in which I had injured in the past aching. This was an interesting feeling, since it showed me which parts of my body are still sore. Then, I felt like I am getting older. I knew this was a hallucination, but it was a vivid one. It was like I could foresee my future. I was getting older, I could not move my limbs. And along with that, I experienced a bitter taste of solitude. How it would be to be dying alone.

Vanity and Depression

When my girlfriend arrived, we spent the evening together. The worst phase was behind but sadness was overall my body. I was distressed, and I regarded everything as being caught deep in vanity. There was no love, no communication, no aspirations to be realized.

Even during this state of mind, I tried to draw an interpretation of what has happened to me and to navigate mz mind through the trip. Given that I consider myself to be a religious and spiritual person, I was shocked to have been confronted with a nihilistic side of mine that whispered in my ear that death is the very end of my existence. Afterwards, I could say that this was a dissolution of my ego. Nevertheless, it was terrifying and bitter.

Memento Mori

If I would go back to the marrow of the whole event, I would say that life is about fulfilment. Death is an inevitability and there is nothing that could change this. But what we can achieve is to lead a life which may end without remorse, without bitterness and regrets.

I would not say that I am traumatized from this experience. Yet, I do not want to go through it again and I will avoid marijuana fron now on. But it was a lesson about life and its importance and also about death and its importance. Death defines life. And this is something we should always have in mind. Memento Mori: Remember that you are going to die!”

Philosophy is the study of death

The narration above and every single one we can trace in Internet is revealing of the following points:

  1. Drugs, like marijuana, do not enhance your abilities. They reveal good or bad aspects of our psychosynthesis, but they are definitely not recommended for any practice of self-improvement. It is much better to work on self-fulfillment through mediation and positive magic.
  2. If you are down, drugs are definitely not going to assist you. They will either narcotize your consciousness or deteriorate your psychic disposition. It is far more useful to practice good magic and disperse negative energy cast upon you than to try to “drown” it under a sea of substances. Neglecting the causes of a misfortune will not lose a problem, it will just hide it for some time.
  3. The Greek Philosopher Plato described Philosophy as “the study of Death”. Bearing that in mind will remind us of how vain our obsessions and fears and efforts may be. Nothing will last forever. Therefore, we should invest our time and energy on good goals and benevolent acts.


- - -