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The Land of the Lotus Smokers

The Land of the Lotus Smokers

By Tao Jones (© Copyright 2001)
(first published in The Entheogen Review. Printed here with permission by the author).

When I was in school and we were studying the classics of literature, one of the authors we studied was Homer, who produced such famous works as the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the Odyssey, which deals with the attempts of the Trojan warriers to return home, the trip took 20 years due to one of crewmen accidentally unleashing every foul wind and bad weather spirit contained in a bag given to them by a sorceress.

If the evil spirits were kept sealed in the bag it would have guaranteed them a safe journey home. As it was they were blown all over the seas and found themselves out of food and water and with an unknown island on the horizon. They decided to put into the harbor and try to find food and water. Men are sent ashore to secure food and water, but they do not return to the ship. More men are sent to find out why the first group did not return; they do not return. Ulysses then decides to go ashore himself to determine the cause of the problem. He finds his men in a village partying with the inhabitants. They are all insensible to his demands they return to the ship. They have been eating Lotus flowers with the local people and will not pay any attention to him. They look at him and smile and refuse to leave. They are completely happy and want him to eat the flowers and remain there with them.

He returns to the ship, gathers up his most trusted men and goes ashore and forcibly removes the vehemently protesting-but not resisting-crew members back to the ship where they are tied up until they come down in a few days and return to normal.

In school we were taught that Lotus was a metaphor, and that Homer really meant Opium. This did not seem right to me as there was no reason to use a metaphor, and so I determined, one day, to try Lotus flowers. I obtained some flowers and smoked them on several occasions, sometimes by themselves and other times mixed 50/50 with cannabis tops.

The following is a recounting of the experiences from notes taken at the time and from memory:

Lotus flowers alone: I rolled a cigarette containing dried and crushed Nelumbo nucifera (Sacred Lotus) flowers and smoked it. This produced a clarity and euphoria which was quite pleasant and slightly similar to cannabis but without any body load or mental dullness.

None of the inertia present when smoking the flowers with cannabis was noted, but I still found myself less inclined than normal to be productive.

I am reminded of the effects of smoking Nymphaea caerulea flowers but without the empathogenic component. However, as I was alone during all of these experiments I may have missed noticing any empathogenic effects. I would not be at all surprised to find them when using this material in the company of others.

The effects seem primarily cerebral, but are quite noticeable and very enjoyable. There is a feeling of joy that permeates the whole body, emanating from every cell. This is delightfully wonderful and lasts for some time. I feel perfectly content to sit in the sun and do nothing. This is very unusual for me. I have a compulsion to keep busy and be creative but this is noticeably diminished by the effects of smoking these flowers. I feel light and airy, almost weightless, and this feeling leads me to try more and see if the effects become any stronger.

After a second cigarette, a slight dizziness is noted, but this soon vanishes and leaves one in approximately the same place as after the first cigarette. I noticed no increase in effects, but the dizziness I tentatively attributed to aporphine alkaloids, the active principles in Nymphaea caerulea flowers. I have not yet been able to conclusively demonstrate that this is indeed the cause of the effects, but they are similar enough N. caerulea to allow me to speculate. The effects lasted a total of approximately four hours. The flowers I smoked were probably two years old so they may have lost considerable potency. I am obtaining fresh flowers and will update this report when they have been assayed.

Lotus flowers mixed with Cannabis (note, the author lives in Canada and holds a medical permit to use cannabis):

The first thing I noticed was a sharpening of visual detail. Patterns, textures, and weaves were more noticeable and colors were brighter, but with a subdued intensity that was quite unusual.

I felt completely relaxed and content, that the universe was functioning perfectly and needed no assistance or attention from me. I felt like I had a completely empty day off in front of me; nothing needed to be done and I could just forget about everything that normally concerns me.

This was a wonderful, calm (but not sedating) feeling. I experienced an exquisite sensation of full-body cellular euphoria. Every cell in my body was singing for joy and I felt a radiant energy beaming from each one. The sense of fullness, completeness, was like a thick blanket of joy enveloping me. I was in a state of total peace and complete satisfaction. I was astounded by the quality and quantity of the euphoria. There is much more going on here than can be expected from just the effects of Cannabis. Amazing thoughts and ideas welled up into my brain but I was too euphoric to act, thinking instead to write them down later when I was not feeling so wonderful. I just did not want to interrupt the experience for anything so trivial.

Of course, when that time arrived I could not remember most of the revelations and ideas that had impressed me so. The inspired thought processes did not include memory enhancement, unfortunately.

I realized after some time that I had been sitting in one position, unmoving, for a long while. My body was totally pain free, relaxed and untired. I was content to remain in one position for some time after realizing this. I did not get stiff, but remained relaxed with no muscle cramping although I did not move for probably two hours. I had no sense of passing time; I was totally swept into the moment.

I had two different types of experience when trying to write down what was going on; In the first one it was easy to move from passive to active and write down thoughts and feelings. In the second it was impossible to even consider writing until the euphoria abated somewhat. These were interspersed all during the course of the event. After four hours I took a nap and awoke two hours later refreshed and still very much aware of the Lotus effect. I was very happily lazy and got absolutely nothing done the rest of the day. It was very easy to identify with Homer's crew who wanted to do nothing but enjoy the Lotus and not be bothered with anything else. It was very difficult to accomplish the simplest task without first debating the pros and cons in my head, and usually the cons won.

I tried the combination again the next Sunday, but started in the middle of the day when I was already tired and consequently fell asleep. When I awoke all the euphoric effects had passed but the lack of motivation and unconquerable inertia were still present. This made the whole day go like dragging oneself through waist-deep water in order to accomplish the easiest things.

The two things that impressed me the most about these experiences were the euphoria and the inertia. Usually I find euphoria quite the stimulus for getting things done and being creative. Here it was exactly the opposite. It was alright to do nothing. It was almost required.

The next day I felt fine with no hangover, though during the experience I was certain the effects were strongly narcotic. Lotus flowers followed by Cannabis: Cannabis tops smoked at approximately three hours after smoking the Lotus flowers amplified the effects, but did not change them otherwise. The Lotus effects were not replaced or overlain by the Cannabis. The Cannabis effects were primarily unnoticeable except as accentuating the effects already present from the Lotus flowers. A slight body load was noticed that had not been present prior to smoking the Cannabis, primarily manifesting as a feeling of being flushed in the face. Upon looking in the mirror no flushing was visible.

The inertia that was first noticed when combining the Lotus flowers with Cannabis does not seem to be present when Cannabis use follows Lotus use by an interval of a few hours. The light and airy feeling from the Lotus remains the dominant note. Smoking Nymphaea caerulea flowers combined with Cannabis did not produce an inertia similar to the one experienced with the combination of Lotus flowers and Cannabis. No inertia was experienced at all with this combination.