While in college, I began to experiment with bending things to my Will. I knew I would have to start small, to convince myself that I could make changes. And, as I grew in ability, I would be able to affect bigger things and make bigger changes. The world was a tapestry and I was learning how to weave.
At least, that was the plan.
One night, I began to expand my Will. It started with a cone of incense. I reached out and began to feel the smoke rising from the cone. When I felt ready, I began to push the smoke first one way, then another. I caused the smoke to stream thinly, to billow thickly, and to form rings. Bending smoke was easy and fun and I spent a few hours trying to get shapes to form; lots of wisps -- no shapes but, overall, I was very pleased.
In reading about totems and guardian spirits and Nature, I had grown frustrated that I could never quite get to a point where I could meet a totem spirit and learn even more about shamanism than any book could teach me. I read about using a medium of some sort to bridge that gap: peyote, pot, LSD, ... I was too clean cut to get mixed up in serious drugs but I wasn't above trying something to help out. Amyl Nitrates were popular recreational drugs at the time, easy to find and easy to use. With a bottle in hand, I began to meditate and, when I could go no further, I hit the poppers.
I was able to go further, yes. I won't write much about it, though. The spirits I saw weren't at all what I expected to see, not human at all. When I finally reached The Cave with totem animals, they acknowledged my presence but otherwise would have nothing to do with me. I had gotten there but not 'properly'. I was devastated. I thought I had done what so many others before me had done?
Another night, I decided I would try again. I prepped, I meditated, I reached a point when I thought I was ready. Suddenly, as I raised the bottle of poppers, something hit the window behind me. I jumped and the fluid went up my nose, burning my sinuses badly. That was the last night I tried doing that ever again.
In fact, I haven't headed back for The Cave since then. Once burned, twice shy? Perhaps. But partly I felt like I was trying to forge a path that really wasn't my own. It was fascinating but it felt forced, like something I was supposed to do versus something I was driven to do.