Citation: Martyr Logarius. "Too Much - Ego Death Horror: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (extract 10x) (exp111909)". Erowid.org. Jun 15, 2018. erowid.org/exp/111909
Too Much Salvia 10x - Ego Death Horror
Two days ago I had my first, and likely last, experience with salvia divinorum. I'm writing about it here to help me process and understand what happened, as it was one of the most powerful and terrifying experiences of my life. I also want to caution first-time users around dosage.
First, I should say that in younger days I took a fair amount of LSD, mushrooms, mescaline, etc. Probably 50-75 trips altogether, and I never once had an unpleasant experience. These days I stick mostly to weed and beer, with the occasional opiate here and there. I've always said 'I never met a drug I didn't like' although angel dust would probably come closest to receiving that honor.
Anyway, I came into possession of 10x salvia extract and decided to do it on a quiet Sunday. I was careful enough to do this at a time when I had no responsibilities, and nothing really stressful going on in my life. I turned off the lights, sat on the bed, and tried to get myself into a peaceful, meditative state. Set and setting.
Two big mistakes, however: I (1) did this without a sitter and (2) made a serious dosage error, packing the bowl with about 1/2 gram of 10x extract. This was entirely an accident: I was reading from a dosage chart, and the table I was reading was for non-fortified leaf rather than 10x fortified. So essentially I packed about 5-10 times the amount for a 'normal to strong' dose (about 400 mg instead of 40 mg).
I heated the bowl with an ordinary butane lighter, took as much in my lungs as I could, held it in for 30 seconds, exhaled, then started taking another pull. Next thing you know... The floor dropped out from under me--actually, it felt like multiple levels of floors falling away from me--and I blacked out. I don't know if I laid back down on the bed or not. When I came to, my body was standing, frozen, in the next room, and I was mentally outside my body, hearing myself saying, 'what the fuck is this? what the fuck?' Here's the part that's hard to explain: in that moment it was clear to me that I had never existed, that my 'self' was sort of a cosmic joke, an illusion, or random construction and that there wasn't anything really 'real' there. I heard my name pronounced by a deep voice (not female) in an almost mocking tone, almost as if to say: 'you really think THAT LIFE happened?' I had completely lost my sense of identity and had no idea who or where I was. I had the impression of being just molecules or matter or energy in the universe, in that room, with no organization or structure.
I had the impression of being just molecules or matter or energy in the universe, in that room, with no organization or structure.
Which sounds liberating and eye-opening, but it was quite terrifying. I don't know how long this period of time lasted, but I think it was likely quite brief. Panic kicked in almost immediately; at some level, I was just conscious enough to be very worried that I couldn't go back. I spent the next 10 or 15 minutes fighting the drug, in a psychotic state, filled with sheer terror.
I know that I ran up and down the stairs twice, like a cat who's been spooked. (I'm amazed I didn't fall down the stairs actually.) I got on my hands and knees and rolled my head around on the carpet trying to get the stuff out of me. I heard myself saying 'no, no, no, no' and then later 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again, I learned my lesson' etc. -- although I have a feeling that a lot of that probably came out as gibberish. At some point I took off my shirt and jumped into bed, thinking I could sleep if off. But that made it much worse, like I was trapped, and I immediately broke out in a fever sweat. A little splash of water on my face seemed to help a little. Eventually I could function again. I kept saying, 'that was horrible. that was fucking horrible'.
In the end, I will say that the experience was incredibly interesting, but also by far the scariest thing I've ever felt. Of course the dose was too high, especially for a first-time user. But salvia definitely produces a totally unique effect -- I'm not sure how well previous experiences with hallucinogens can really prepare anyone for such a rapid onset of dissociation, combined with the extreme dysphoria felt from an overly strong dose. (This is substantiated by my reading up on the chemical activity of KOR agonists, along with viewing many horrific YouTube videos of kids ripping 100x bongs.) To complicate things, not only did symptoms come on so quickly, but I didn't seem to know that I was on salvia, at least not for the first few minutes. I've had out of body experiences before, and more than one near-death experience, and none of them were particularly *scary*.
I've had out of body experiences before, and more than one near-death experience, and none of them were particularly *scary*.
This was a sudden and complete shattering of the self.
People sometimes say that you have to be at peace with yourself and in a good place to undertake this journey, but ironically I feel like if you have all that, you may be in the worst place, because you don't want to leave it behind. I have a lovely wife, two great young adult children, a house and a good job. I am an ardent atheist and humanist: I believe in the value of life in the here and now. The perception in my brain that all of that was false, a dream, that it never happened, felt in the moment to be conveyed rather cruelly. (People who like to personify the salvia 'goddess' would say 'you didn't respect her and she kicked your ass.' In this case, that's another way of saying 'you took too much.')
Intellectually, I already believe that consciousness and identity are merely constructs, that we are just collections of tissue, electrical signals and stored memories and thoughts, etc. But to experience this reality firsthand didn't really 'teach' me anything new, it just shoved it in my face in a kind of petrifying immersion.
After much reflection, I have managed to find some silver linings in this harrowing trip. First, I've gained a renewed appreciation for this life, for my good fortune in the things that I do have and love. Second, I have respect and wonder for the marvel that is human consciousness. It's such a complex, remarkable and precariously balanced feature of a living organism. At the same time it can be surprisingly robust: I am amazed that my sense of self was able to reassemble itself after being flattened so forcefully.
Finally, I really do have new sympathy for humans who are naturally, incurably, permanently insane. Especially schizophrenics. Now when I see, say, a street person muttering nonsense, cursing at nobody in particular, swinging awkwardly at invisible demons, lurching suddenly in random directions, etc., I will be able to say: 'I went through something like that once. And it's terrible.' I do wonder what it would have been like to have taken a more moderate dose, but I think I have to let some time pass before I might consider trying it again.
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