In the “new world” of LSD, he heard God and the devil. Now tell it in pictures | Photography

When Sari tried LSD for the first time, at the age of 24, she could hardly imagine that her initial curiosity would open the doors to a new and “supernatural” world for her. “At first I felt it as a divine experience, as if I were chosen by God. Everything was exciting, it didn’t scare me. That changed when the devil started talking to me”, says the Finnish photographer, who now only revisits that world through of photography.

For months, in a long psychotic episode induced by drug use, he saw the reality he knew transform before him. God didn’t exactly have a voice that he could hear, he explains, in conversation with P3. “It was more of an intuition, a feeling that he needed to do certain things, that he received divine signs to do them.” At a certain point, God told him that he should take more LSD, to be part of this world that was now being revealed and where everything was interconnected.

Today, at the age of 31, Sari Soininen does not even consider returning to that place through drugs, for “fear of not returning”. It is in photography that she finds the best way to express what she has experienced, which is why, in recent years, she has collected images that remind her of that experience, now published in the book Transcendent Country of the Mind.

“The title is from a phrase from the book The Doors of Perception, in which Aldous Huxley describes his experience with mescaline. Reading it helped me understand my experience and gave me the words to describe it”, he justifies. “For me, that place is in the deepest part of our mind.”

In addition to the memory of changes in the perception of the world around her, those months also bear the trauma. “I don’t regret it, but there are things I wish had never happened, like getting rid of everything I had. I had gotten rid of myself and been reborn”, she writes in the book published at the end of 2022.

That was the explanation given to the authorities when, after a car accident, they entered his apartment. In the book, the photographer reports a car trip with her boyfriend: the two were under the effect of LSD and believed they were driving towards a “new world”. They lost track when — both with their eyes covered — they tried to enter that imagined country.

“Why did I talk about this so openly? It’s not like I wanted to tell everyone that I took a lot of LSD. But I felt like I needed to be honest. And when I started talking about it in public, it became therapeutic.” , he says over the phone from Helsinki. “It allowed me to let go of this dark past that I had to hide and I felt free.”

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