Citation: Ben. "The Multiplicity of Being and the Many Mes: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp37338)". Erowid.org. Jun 28, 2006. erowid.org/exp/37338
I smoke a lot of dope, I’ve done shrooms a few times, and I suppose I even drink a little, just like most people (although I’m not a fan of the drink – it hinders my ability to think rather than expanding it). I am an artist – I play guitar and sing (I produce my own material, obviously, or I would hardly be an artist), I write a lot of poetry, and I also do some visual art. I also enjoy philosophy. So, I suppose you could say I’m a ‘stereotypical’ pothead – the type who frequently engages with friends in talks surrounding, “Hey man… are we real?” But in any case, this is about salvia divinorum.
My friend and I, who we will call Norm (although he is far from the norm), had heard about salvia from several friends. We always do our research, so we looked up as much information as we could, and we were especially pleased to see that salvia was frequently enjoyed more by the philosophically minded. So, we went downtown and bought ourselves some salvia. The first time we did it (not the experience talked about here), we bought the 5x stuff. I suppose it kind of looked like a gram of broken up pot, and the lady at the store told us to do “this much” – a small amount she pinched off through the bag was the demonstration we were given.
Suffice to say, we smoked a whole lot of it, using the single heavy hit technique, and got very little out of it. We ended by simply smoking some joints and making a regular night out of it. Salvia, this time, had let us down.
So, yesterday, being a Friday, Norm and I once again went downtown and bought some salvia – this time, the 10x (we had contemplated getting the 20x – suffice to say it’s a good thing we did not have the money to afford it!). We made a stop at the bookstore and bought some good reading for later, and then went back to Norm's. We then headed out, at 8 P.M., to a nearby park. We chose this particular park because it is very beautiful and has a big hill, from which I can see everything – our favourite part of everything being the stars. We brought our acoustic guitars, and I brought a Discman as well, with Dream Theater’s “Scenes From A Memory” held within. We were both relaxed and really looking forward to the experience. We were on no other drugs at the time, or had been for some time, because we wanted to experience the salvia on its own.
Norm loaded up a bowl pretty much full (it is, I suppose, a standard size pipe). He then lit it up, sucked in deep, and passed the pipe and lighter to me. He held it in for an impressively long time, and then breathed out slowly. As he did so, he said, “Oh, my God, I’m feeling the effects already.” This was a big jump from the last time when we barely experienced anything.
Norm began looking around at a lot of things. Suddenly he got scared. He whimpered, and I tried to calm him down a bit with reassuring words: “It’s okay man. What are you feeling?” He put his head between his legs for a minute and was quiet, so I did the same (was quiet, that is… my head was up). After perhaps a minute, he looked up, said “Oh, my god,” a few more times, and then eventually started laughing and asked if he could roll around. I said he could, so he did while laughing quite happily. He explained later to me that he was very happy to be himself. He also explained much of the experience to me, but I would rather go into my own experience as I can describe all the effects and feelings much better firsthand.
After Norm had sobered up, maybe twenty minutes later, it was my turn. I was a bit nervous but still very curious. The bowl that Norm had hit still had some salvia left in it. I hit it and sat back. Not much happened. My heart started to race and I felt like my body wanted to blast off into space. However, I wanted to keep total control of myself, so I said to my body, “No, no, we’re not going into space. Let’s try to think of some concepts and ideas we can work with here.” I closed my eyes and saw some weird “shelves,” each one holding certain symbols, including a face, and a cross. However, I didn’t feel these symbols pertained to me and I was confused as to why I was seeing them. Overall, it just wasn’t happening. So I decided I would hit the bowl again.
And that I did! There was big line of trees a short distance from the hill and I went to go “talk” to them after I smoked the second hit. I was entirely attempting to guide the trip, but once again, nothing happened. I was very relaxed and kind of tired, but other than that, nothing. It kind of felt like a weed high without the senseless laughing.
I finally decided to do it one more time. And this time, we filled up a new bowl. That’s what did it, I suppose – a fresh bowl. I hit it nicely, and as I did so I saw the herb in the bowl in front of me light up and burn with lots of beautiful colours. I vaguely remember passing the pipe away and putting my head between my legs, laughing. That is how quickly it got to me.
At this point, I lost control of the trip. I lost control of myself. I stood up and looked off towards some houses at the base of the hill. Norm told me (later) that I said “That’s brilliant.” I don’t remember what was brilliant specifically, but the trip was entirely themed around one thing, so I suppose it was the beginnings of the theme. The theme being me, in many forms and ways. The multiplicity of being.
I could speculate (and I’m more or less sure of the accuracy of this speculation) that what I saw in the houses was a side profile of my head. They kind of resembled me and then my mind took over and made them look even more like me. The same thing happened with the aforementioned line of trees. At first, this all seemed cool, and I was calm. And then I was everywhere. There were “mes,” hundreds of Bens, making up the grass. They made up the sky. They made the trees, the houses, the very essence of the physical world.
I started to panic. I didn’t know who these replicates of me were, but I had no control over them and no kinship with them. And I definitely didn’t want to be kin with them. The duplicates of me weren’t yet “physical,” they were merely impressions. But something felt very malign about them – I was very uncomfortable. Around this point, some sort of path appeared to me – two glowing yellow lines showing me the way to go. I don’t think I followed the path very long – I think it followed me – but I decided to head for a sand pit in the park. My rationale was that the images couldn’t go there. However, as I approached, the reasoning part of my mind said, “Yes, they can.” Since the sand was a lighter colour than everything else, it was actually worse that the previously experienced images. The sand was almost skin colour, I suppose. Norm was following me, I believe.
He told me later I said, “I’m stepping on their heads,” as I walked through the sand of mes. By this point, I was getting very scared, and I didn’t like it. I wanted it to go away, or be something that was less about me. I’m very comfortable with the idea of sharing in other’s consciousnesses – that’s what I was hoping might happen. Instead, I was falling deeper into myself.
I kept moving and I was out of the sand pit. Norm had come around in front of me. He was telling me we should go back to the hill, where our guitars were. He was very calm and just trying to get me to cool it. But I was still freaking out at the mes. Now, there was a yellow line (the path had morphed into this line) dividing my line of sight. On both sides of the line were more Bens that were quite detailed. They were no longer impressions on things, they were whole people that were there. They looked exactly like me – however it is a me that I always think of when I’m high: a caricature of myself as opposed to what I look like in the mirror.
In any case, these Bens were on both sides of me, and Norm was on my left. The two sides of mes were vying for some kind of control. It was like a tug of war, only they weren’t doing anything, just standing there. In any case, I wasn’t a leader (this is what scared me when I thought about it). I was another one of the grunts, on the side that was in the left part of my vision. I told Norm to stay on my left – he HAD to so my side could win… I didn’t know what would happen if my side lost, but it couldn’t have been good. I think he was confused but he complied. In any case this tug of war episode didn’t last too long, because Norm convinced me to go back to the top of the hill.
On the way back to the hill, I hit what I suppose was the peak of the trip. This is very hard to explain. I reached the corner of the sand pit that I had gone through earlier. There was a wooden lip around the pit that met at a corner at the far end of this pit. The corner formed sort of a triangle in my vision, and this caused a lot of triangulation in my perception. On my left and right, attached to my arms, were more mes, and attached to their arms were more duplicates, and so on into infinity. In front of me, my vision went off into a vanishing point, and was connected to the exact same vanishing point of another point of view – the point of view of the double next to me, and then the double next to him.
Essentially what I could see was what I was seeing, and then the exact same thing right beside it, in a pattern similar to pie pieces or a wheel with a lot of spokes. In each world, there was me, and the hill, and Norm, everything. All these other existences of me were completely real, and they had always known about me as well. However, I was only just realizing their existence. It was very painful because the other mes were trying to make me realize that we were all the exact same and none of us were any more special or unique than any other one. It was like being shown the insignificance of our own lives, being tiny little creatures on a tiny planet in some solar system in one of many galaxies in a humongous universe, but shown in a very strange way. When I tried to move, I would rip the connection that there was on my arms between me and the mes beside me. They got angry at me when I did this and wanted me to do exactly what we were all supposed to do. We were all expected to replicate each other’s actions and slot into the mold, because we all had to do the same thing for the greater good of the “complete Ben,” if you will. However, I didn’t want to listen to these other mes. I wanted to be special and unique. I decided to retaliate against them. At the corner of the sand pit, I began to ‘rip up’ reality. I pulled up what I was seeing, and all that was behind it was a strange, maroon coloured background.
The mes were getting very annoyed that I was doing this, because it was throwing off the entire balance of the “greater Ben” or whatever it was we were making up. Norm then told me that I couldn’t be loud and disruptive (because I was being very much so at the time). However, I took this as “you can’t rip up reality.” I agreed and stopped ripping up reality – I put it all back in it’s place. Then, something even more insane happened.
As we continued back towards the top of the hill, the mes became more real. There were towers of mes and their own realities, all the exact same as mine, stretching left and right and up and down. Each universe of existence created a tiny speck of colour on the polka dot of a pair of pajamas being worn by a gigantic Ben. I don’t know why it was polka dot pajamas, but it was. And it was scary as hell. The really big Ben was lying down, maybe on a bed or something, or he was pressing against a wall – I could see it in some degree, as I looked up, the giant me leaning against something. And I could feel myself being squished against whatever he was leaning against. Holding onto my concept of self and individuality as hard as I could, I tried to pull myself away from all this, tried to hold onto my friend Norm (figuratively, not literally), tried to hold onto reality.
It was very hard and it really seemed like I almost lost who I was, who I am. At this point I was mostly entirely lost in hallucination – the real world was still there but what I was perceiving more acutely was a giant me and millions of universes that were all the exact same as mine.
Somehow we got back to the top of the hill. The really heavy stuff was over, but I was still far from OK. I wanted desperately to play my guitar or listen to music to calm down, but I didn’t want to touch my things because I didn’t want the other mes (who were still lingering about as impressions on everything) to be able to experience them. I wanted the music and the guitar for myself – I wanted to hold onto what I knew to be unique to me, something I love more than anything else. So for that reason, I sat beside my guitar and my discman but didn’t touch them, and tried to stamp out the lingering effects of the salvia. I was still getting a lot of visuals – I couldn’t look at anything without it gradually morphing to look like me, and I couldn’t close my eyes (which was really no fun because I felt exhausted) because the visuals were even more intense.
I remember seeing a whole bunch of ladders and many images of my face and polka dots, polka dots in the three primary colours, flowing and coming into being and being the only existence there was, before I could open my eyes. I finally lay down on my stomach on the cool grass and looked at the blades of grass and my checkered sleeve in front of me. The impressions got less distinct and started to go away. Finally I felt comfortable enough to play a bit of guitar, and then listen to my discman. I was tired, shooken up, and thirsty. The salvia trip (the real heavy part of it, excluding the first two bowls I did) lasted for maybe three to five minutes. I will also quickly mention that, as for any type of feeling or “body buzz,” I don’t really remember it. The mental experience was too intense – my body just wasn’t important or feeling anything at the time. The only distinct feeling I remember was the “being pushed into something” by the Big Ben, and a sort of detached, warm, smooth body buzz towards the beginning of the trip (the very, very beginning) – kind of like a weed buzz.
Salvia was far more intense than I had ever anticipated. I didn’t just get visuals, but I felt one hundred percent a part of what was happening. It became reality. Near the end of the trip, I even wanted to kill myself because I didn’t think it would ever end – I remember thinking, “How can I face my parents? They’ll be so disappointed.” However, by that time, the rational part of my mind was back in control somewhat and kept me grounded, remembering that it was a drug induced state. I think that that was one of the big problems earlier on – the salvia gave complete control to the passionate side of my mind, so I could only take the information that was presented to me and process it with emotion and not logic or memory. This made it very hard to control the trip.
Now, a few days later, the experience actually seems kind of interesting. The concepts that the trip presented were kind of cool – kind of philosophical, I suppose. I feel it showed a sort of metaphor as to our own insignificance in the large scheme of things, and how, as unique as I think I am, on the grander scale, my specific set of skills and attributes could easily be replaced, and ‘I’ am not important at all. We only think we are so unique and special, we only have this great sense of “self,” because we can’t cope with the idea of complete unimportance – hence, our brains filter it all out. I’d been reading about this sort of thing before I did the salvia, so the trip might have been a reflection of what I’d recently learned and been thinking about.
However, Norm reported similar visions and feelings – he said his spirit was being pulled away from his body, and he saw many people standing in weird positions in a confined area, and he was one of them, and he was going away from himself, which is why he was later on “so happy to be himself.” So, was I.
1) This is a recurring theme of salvia
2) This is reality; or
3) Norm and I are very, very similar in our deepest views of the way things work, and salvia brought this to light.
However, it was still very scary at the time. Even though I may have gained some knowledge out of the experience, I don’t think I’d repeat it very eagerly because of the sheer intensity. It’s possible that, having now done it once, I would be more comfortable with the experience and would be able to let go more and fully experience the trip without resisting the tide of insanity. But, I worry that if I did that, it might be even worse, and I could lose myself – from a medical standpoint, go pretty insane. The way I think I look at it now is that it provides some very in-depth, introspective knowledge, but with quite a painful process. For me, anyway.
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