Citation: Andreas. "Mind Shattering: An Experience with Salvia Divinorum (ID 36558)". Erowid.org. Feb 9, 2007. erowid.org/exp/36558
I have always been fascinated by psychoactive drugs and have experience with a wide variety of substances. Lately my attention has been drawn to Salvia Divinorum. I've done my research on this plant and have read through a great number of experience reports online. After nearly a year of toying with the idea, I finally decided that the time was right for a direct experience. I ordered 1 gram of 'regular-strength enhanced' leaf from what I concluded was probably the most reputable source available on the Internet. My order arrived promptly. Because it was still early in the week, I decided to wait until the long Labor Day weekend before doing any experimenting.
Being aware of the importance of set and setting in any psychedelic experience, I was conscious of having been rather stressed out for the last couple of weeks. Work had been unusually busy. At home I was engaged in several significant repairs to my old house. All of this in conjunction with trying to keep up with my normal routines was running me ragged.
So Saturday finally rolled around. I was still feeling run down and could barely get off the couch until evening approached. I took another shower, drank some fruit juice and felt invigorated, ready to enjoy my evening. I drove downtown, bought a glass pipe at the local head shop, picked up a pizza, and headed back home. Since I wasn't sure how I'd feel after my upcoming Salvia experience, I first made sure to take care of any evening chores before settling in. After everything had been taken care of and a couple of slices of pizza, I was feeling calm, confident, and ready for whatever awaited me.
Without any hesitation, I began my ritual. I got on my knees and said a prayer to my God. I asked for continuing guidance and to be granted knowledge and wisdom from my experience. It seemed important to thus reaffirm the purity of my intent. I completed my preparation by lighting a sage incense bundle and wafting the smoke around the living room. Finally, I settled back into the couch and began to prepare the leaf.
Earlier in the day, I had reread the Salvia Divinorum FAQ. I knew that a sitter was strongly recommended, especially for an inexperienced user. I had made the decision to forgo this precaution. This was mainly because I no longer run in circles where such experimentation is condoned. So I have become somewhat of a lone wolf in these endeavors. In any case, I decided that my dog would be a sufficient sitter - friendly, familiar, and well grounded. As I will relate further on, this turned out to be a mistake.
As I prepared the pipe, I reflected on my expectations. Admittedly, I was going into this experience a complete skeptic. The wide range of experience reports I had read caused me to entertain the possibility that Salvia might not be psychoactive at all; that instead, the effects might be the result of some kind of bizarre placebo effect or, at best, an 'enhanced' headrush caused by hyperventilating the smoke. On the other hand, there were far too many compelling reports of amazing encounters with this plant for me to dismiss its potential effects outright. In other words, I was prepared for failure, yet at the same time ready for success. Most of my doubts had been centered on the number of reports describing little to no effect or those having to make several attempts to achieve a modest 'breakthrough' experience. But I can state unequivocally that nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.
I fully expected having to take several hits to achieve any results. So I folded up three pieces of stiff paper. Into each crease I poured a good hit of leaf. (By the way, I have not smoked marijuana in over 12 years. So I wasn't sure how my lungs would react to the smoke.) I took one of the papers and poured it into the bowl of my pipe. I noted the time as 8:32 pm. I picked up and lit my lighter, put the pipe to my lips, and inhaled deeply. I did a lung check after pulling in about 3/4 of the bowl. It felt smooth. I reapplied the lighter, sucked in the rest, and held it. Okay. My inner voice told me to put the pipe and lighter on the table NOW. As my hands moved towards the table, it seemed I could no longer feel them. Then I noticed what I can only describe as a slight 'hiccup' in my visual field. At that point, I was no longer certain that I had succeeded in placing my tools back on the coffee table. My last conscious memory was of leaning back into the couch. I felt a vague sensation of exhaling smoke. Before my head hit the cushion I was gone - and I mean GONE!
There are no words to adequately describe what followed. The only way I can even begin to describe it is that I had the sense of being catapulted head over heels through some kind of warp in space or time. I became aware of strange spiral arches that looked a lot like the double helix DNA strands. The coils seemed to be composed of colorful, moving trains and buses. I heard somebody's voice. I cannot recollect what it said. There was also the presence of my mother. Had I become her? Because it also felt as though 'I' was no longer 'me'. All I can say with any real certainty is that I had completely lost any sense of myself in ordinary reality. I was completely disconnected from any physical body and had traveled to God knows where. Despite the overpowering sense that I had travelled backward in time, my first conscious thought was an astonished 'Holy shit, I've been blown into next Tuesday!' This absurd phrase seemed to repeat itself over and over. I became dimly conscious of my surroundings after what seemed a few moments later. I found myself about ten feet away from the couch in the hallway. Whether I was standing or lying on the floor I cannot tell. I began to feel frightened and confused. The panicked thought that I might not ever return flitted through my mind. This was what madness must feel like.
When 'I' started to come back, the realization that the Salvia had actually worked began to dawn on me. I had to remind myself that the effects were supposed to pass quickly. It was then that I found myself facing my kitchen. The walls and floor were skewed at unnatural angles. All I could do was exclaim out loud, 'My God, there's my kitchen!' The realization was both astonishing and a profound relief. Here was a reality I could understand. I remember turning around and seeing my dog still lying on the floor. I shouted a similar exclamation, 'My God, there's my dog!' This turning back and forth between the kitchen and the dog seemed to oscillate back and forth several times. Between each turn I was zapped back into Salvia land and completely lost touch with whom or where I was. It was during one of these oscillations that I remembered that I had been hitting on a pipe. I became anxious that a still burning coal might have spilled out of the pipe and caught something on fire. This anxiety was amplified when I realized that if that were the case, I was in no shape to take any action to put out the fire. The thought of having to call the fire department under these circumstances shot into my brain. It seemed so absurd that I began to laugh hysterically.
Meanwhile each period of oscillation into normal reality began to last longer than the associated period into Salvia reality. I managed to grope my way back to the coffee table through a visual field still consisting of impossible angles. To my relief, I saw that the pipe was indeed still on the table and that nothing seemed to have spilled out and caught fire. That is when the episode with the dog occured.
Apparently my actions had aroused him into a playful mood and he started to jump up on me. I lost it again and when 'I' came back we were on the floor wrestling with each other, chasing each other in an infinite circle. At some point, I began to fear that I was losing control over my dog. I just wanted it to stop. I finally managed to command him to go lay down. The oscillations were beginning to subside and I lay back on the couch.
When I was finally able to look at and comprehend the clock, I saw that less than 15 minutes had elapsed. The time was now 8:45 pm. I was now in a euphoric state. I found myself laughing in utter disbelief at what had just transpired. 'This can't have been real', I would think. Then I'd laugh again when I realized that it had been all too real. The next 10 minutes or so just zipped by.
Close to 9:00 pm, I attempted to take notes on everything that had happened so far. That's when my dog started to freak me out again. He was cowering and barking at something in the middle of the living room. I've not seen him act timid towards people. So his behavior was extremely baffling. I began to entertain paranoid thoughts. Maybe my shouting during the trip had been heard by people outside and they were skulking about trying to look in. I even considered the possibility that I was hallucinating the whole thing. But I was 'together' enough at this point to check the basement and look outside. I found nothing out of the ordinary, and my dog finally calmed down. I did not like the creepy feeling this caused.
I finished my notes and reclined back on the couch trying to relax, recover, and further collect my thoughts. I noted that it was already 9:30 pm. Where had the last half hour gone? I was back at baseline with no ill effects. After watching TV for awhile, I began to feel drowsy. Falling asleep was no problem. I recall vivid and strange dreams near morning. But that is ordinary for me, and I cannot attribute it to any Salvia after-effects.
On Siebert's S-A-L-V-I-A scale, this was definitely a level 5 'Immaterial' experience. It was overwhelming for a first time. I did not expect a single hit of 'regular-strength enhanced' leaf to produce such a transformation.
I am no longer a skeptic. Salvia Divinorum is for real. Its effects are powerful and profound. It is unlike anything I have ever done. I do believe that it might belong in a class of its own. Unlike mushrooms or LSD, no cosmic knowledge was revealed to me. Nor did I transcend language or ego. There were no stages or levels to go through. However, I did learn respect for this plant. It confronted me with one of my weak points, that is, my inability to completely let go.
Last night the Goddess was dominant.
I would have gained more from this experience had I not had to worry about fire. A sitter might have alleviated this concern. Also, next time there will be no dog present. That was an unnecessary and unfortunate distraction. I will also lessen the dose. I'm looking forward to my next encounter.
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