When I was much younger—the last few years of high school, I think—I used to have a lot of dreams about mazes. Corn mazes, unruly hedgerows, stone passages filled with steam and strange noises, carnival fun-houses, Wal-Mart aisles: if it was a structure that led itself to confusion and disorientation, I inflated it in my dreams to be a tortured tangle of passages and avenues. What frightened me most about Kubrick's version of The Shining wasn't the descent into nightmare, it was climax in the Overlook Maze.
Which, I have to admit, may influence my dislike of snow.
It doesn't take much to see how these dreams are a reflection of the confusion I felt during those years, and during the early stages of my experimentation with psychedelics, I wanted to darken my dreams enough that these sorts of fine-grain details were lost. I wanted to lose so much.
My first experience with Ayahuasca was terrible. It blew away all the darkness I had covered myself with and dropped me deep in a maze filled with crawling symbols. There were alien stencils painted on the walls; on the rocks half-buried in the ground, green and yellow lichens grew in the shape of single letters; the scattered bones of large animals were all inscribed with tiny black script, as if an army of tiny faeries had swarmed the dead bodies with hummingbird quills and inkpots; and the mist that drifted through distant intersections curled in corkscrew letters.
I was convinced the secret of the maze lay in deciphering these messages: if I could figure out the cipher key to the lines of script on the walls, I would find my way out; if I could find the beginning of the story laid out on the bones, I would understand the way of the maze; if I could arrange the rocks in their correct order, I would understand the secret of the alphabet. If . . .
The experience should have broken me. It should have been a free pass through the front door of the nearest asylum, where I would have been a happy patient for the rest of my life. Happy and malleable as long as the doctors kept dosing me from their latest batch of free industry-supplied pharmaceutical samples. The Ayahuasca trip should have . . .
No. "Should have" doesn't imply insanity, it doesn't mean that I've constructed some elaborate lie to cloak myself. Nor does it imply that I am somehow beholden to the person who introduced me to this strange and surreal world of the Oneiroi. I simply mean that, based on my psychological history, the statistics would suggest that such an overwhelmingly claustrophobic trip should have made a permanent rift in my psyche. Usually one's demons devour you when you are sent to slay them. Most of us don't fare well when faced with the Abyss.
Nietzsche also said, "The great epoch of our life comes when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." My fear was—and still is, let's be honest—immense. But if I let it define me—if I let that tangle of symbols and paths become the obsessive focus of my desire—then what am I?
Nothing more than the Blind Idiot God, tangled by my own creation.