home / Tori Stories
Tori talks about drugs
The first drug I took was pot. I was 12. I guess that seems young, but this was a different time. We're talking 1974-75. Led Zeppelin were kicking! It was a different time! When I was 12, I was smoking weed at a friend's house and my father came to pick me up early. And we'd smoked so much. I'm like reeking. I lied my ass off. I told him my friend and her brother had been doing stuff. But not me. Then we had to go out to dinner with someone from the local church and his son. Halfway through, the son, who was about 18, took me to one side and said, 'You are sooo stoned'. Still, I got away with it.
The drug which had a big effect on me was ayahuasca. It comes from a vine in the Amazon and you ingest it. You know that stuff they take in The Emerald Forest? It's like that. I was hanging around with some medicine women and they suggested I try it. I was very lucid, but felt like I was walking around Fantasia, having a conversation with myself. It isn't like acid. It's more emotional, more mental. But it can grab you by the balls and just shove you up against the wall. I've been in a room with a woman who was literally trying to bite her own arm off. And this lasted for 15 hours. I wasn't scared - just scared that I'd make a fool of myself. The funny thing was, I kept laughing and laughing, rather than sitting in the corner being intense. Then every so often, I'd say, I'm in a really rough patch. And one of the medicine women would come over and reassure me that everything was going to be alright. But it would keep on getting deeper. In the end, though, it was an educational experience. I learned a lot about myself. I haven't taken it in a couple of years now. You can only really do it once in a blue moon. But the wild thing is that sometimes I only have to smell something and I'm right back there again, high as a kite. It just happens.
I'm really into moderation. Too much of anything will harm you in the end. Too much sugar. Too much pasta. I'm into drugs as a teaching tool, which is why I only take hallucinogens. I mean, it's not like I've never done cocaine, but, on the whole, if I can't see dancing elephants then I'm not interested. [Q - May 1995]
My mother is an Indian, and once there was a time when mankind did respect the plants and the earth as a great vision, and when they neither abused the plants nor the earth. Today that has changed substantially. Even the Indians have started to make abuse due to their situation. If you visit a reservation today, and I have lived in one for many years, you will find many alcoholics there, which is very tragic. But many think, that this is an escape, but it makes them unable to think. It is bad to see what became of many great people. Today drugs mostly serve as an escape from reality and you are able to experience other levels of consciousness and to reach other dimensions.
I took drugs in a controlled way in the past to reach other dimensions, smoked pot, while listening to Jimmy Page and hoped that my father wouldn't catch me, but I think, that this is a part of your teenage days, especially when you lived in the sixties and the beginning of the seventies. That was a completely different time, the revolution of many young people against the bourgeoise normal. An outbreak from the aims that once were given by the parents. They try to change something. Aims like humanity, the emancipation of the woman and also the equality of men, like it was shaped by Martin Luther King. And today? It seems as if these people have given up, these aims are just caricatures of themselves. The women have not reached their aim, humanity is a foreign word in today's society and hate for blacks and foreigners is stronger than ever. And then you see the abuse of extasy in London and recognize that this generation has not grasped the whole conflict. What sense does it make to load yourself with drugs so much that you are not noticing anything anymore? [Visions (German) - September 1992]
I find it [the truth] especially when I'm in an altered state. Music can put me in an altered state. So can hallucinogens. I have used hallucinogens and I do sometimes still use them to journey to another space. I don't use them to escape, but as a tool. And they have been helpful, but only because I have been working with people who have been in the Amazon and learned how to have visionquest. It's the idea of going into your psyche and knowing it more deeply. It's a complete wealth of information in there. [On the Street - January 29, 1996]
Um... the most influential journeys I have had have been with ayahuasca, the vine from the Amazon, the combination of that and mushrooms. It's very much a medicine woman, medicine man's journey drug, where you go inside. It's not a social thing. It's an internal experience. I experiment with things that are usually an internal experience, because that's just what excites me. And yes, it does sometimes give me visions. But my intention when I am doing it is very different than recreational. I don't do it recreationally. I do it to go do inner work, and I'm very clear before I do it what I'm searching for. That way, there's no abuse suffered and I don't rely on it. It's just one more tool that I use sometimes. [Michael Pearce interview 1994]
Ayahuasca is a vine in Brazil in the Amazon - I've had it freeze-dried a few times - but the point is that it gives the medicine men vision down there, and I'd like to think that my concerts are like a journey you get from ayahuasca; that you go through an emotional journey. [Jam - July 22, 1992]
My problem with hallucinogens is that I want to take a booster. The problem with the booster is the speed aspect gets accentuated, not the good weirdy stuff. With Ecstasy it's like, oh no, I got that bit of it. I've taken it but not on the dancefloor, much more with a group of people. I've done it with a few women friends I think you can talk about things maybe you couldn't always talk about. 'I've been keeping this secret for six months but I gotta tell you now!' [Deluxe - May 1998]
Used any hallucinogens recently?
Not very recently. I have Datura in my garden, but my gardener told me that some people over-steep it in water and then it's poison and you die. I did a few 18-hour trips with a Shaman in the canyons in LA in the '80s. I'm glad I did it. And I'd do extasy journeys with women friends, Things are said that I couldn't have heard or have said over a cup of coffee.
Wine is a passion of mine - that's my hallucinogen now. [Esquire - October 1999]
Performing is the best high there is and I hardly do drugs any more. I've experimented like most people - a bit of acid here, a bit of Ecstasy there - but there is nothing like when you plug in on stage. I don't know what it does but it feels like having an affair with 5,000 people. Or like 1983 Margaux is flowing through my veins. That's my scene these days. I'm really into good wine. And I have to look after my health. It's a bit unglamorous crawling to the bathroom after some of those drugs. [The Times - September 21, 1999]
I'm not an addictive personality, and being a drug addict or alcoholic is just not me. I'd rather read a book. But I have taken journeys over the years that have been -- how would you put it? -- potion-induced. [Blender - November 2002]
t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive