Citation: Zen Priest. "The Hellraiser Leaf: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp57297)". Erowid.org. Nov 10, 2006. erowid.org/exp/57297
“Little sally-D sits at the right of DMT 100 times old LSD… “
I would apologize in advance as this report seems the length of a Quantum Physics discourse, yet put yourself in my place and I promise it to be anything but boring.
The Salvia experience – as anyone who has ever been totally thrashed on ‘The Lady’ will confirm – is difficult to convey at best. Its realms are beyond description or belief to the uninitiated.
I’m (now) an almost weekly salvia user. I use ‘Her’ solo (i.e., all alone with no sitter) but in only modest amounts. I generally stick to premium leaf and maybe 5x, - never anything stronger (20x) and never on top of tincture. Keeping the dosages to relatively “mild” amounts I love it for its deeply contemplative potential and instruction.
But as to the road I foolishly took to reach this point…
I’m 47 years old and until recently had considered myself quite the cocky Psychonaut. Since age 14, I have had mushrooms 6 times, DMT twice, Ayahuasca, and LSD well over 150 times (this last probably a low-end guesstimate).
Looking back on my younger years, the only mid-life crisis I ever experienced was at age 25, when I found myself incomprehensibly shocked that I had actually made it to that age alive...but life can itself turn around. I now have two Masters Degrees and am a (fully Ordained) Rinzai Zen Buddhist, (more than a few friends from the bad old days would shake their heads in disbelief at this…) with over 20 years experience in various forms of meditation as well as being a meditation instructor and lecturer on dream recall/analysis. Hence I nonchalantly believed my philosophical, psychological and spiritual strengths to be well above the norm. But as will soon be divulged my only worst enemy was my own self-righteous arrogance, which almost never failed to get me deeply in shit. I’ve also always had an obsessive interest in primitive tribalism (i.e., Shamanism), and looking back find it very strange that I had never heard of Salvia divinorum considering the vast info on the net...
My long time Buddhist friend Richard who is a Biologist with a specialty in Botany (how appropriate) calls me up to say that he has 6+ grams of primo Psilocybe subcubensis, which is pretty rare around here lately or so he claims. Not that I would know as I haven’t touched any hard entheogens in over 20 years. I'm thinking that after 20 years cold turkey a good mushroom trip would be a totally awesome birthday present to myself. I am getting more and more psyched obsessing about it and not two days later Rich calls back and my answer is yes, yes, YES!
So it’s late Tuesday evening and we are both at the Zen hermitage where I conduct practice, assured that we would be totally alone and undisturbed till well into Wednesday. We arrived after 10:30pm, and I can't wait to open that little bag of veggies at exactly the midnight hour. We’re somewhat mellowed out after having 30 minutes before ingested a hefty gram of Kratom powder (15x) each, which I might add is for me (the tea, that is) one of the most vile tasting substances yet – the more I indulge the nastier it gets (although ayahuasca - depending on the mix - can be far worse).
Rich says to me “I brought something really special for a kickoff', pulling out this miniscule zip-lock of what looks like the tiniest most pathetic gram of black pot I have ever seen, his 2-chambered wooden pipe, tiny measuring spoons and small dropper vial of something he called 'Emerald Essence' (a sublingual tincture form of Salvia)...
“Seems you’re a little short, pal!” I laugh, pointing at the “pot”, which had never gotten me off past a mild buzz in the zillion times I've smoked it years back.
“Not that! The juice is for you, Bro.”
Stupidly I chose to ignore him telling me that this was not pot, but about a hefty 1/3 gram of 20x Salvia which he had left and of which he and only he would take a small pinch of, for I was not ready for that yet.
“What are you fucking kidding?” I’m picking at the envelope which he grabs away.
“That’s ‘purple-sticky’ astronaut Sally D, brother! Forget about it. Just put 3 droppers full of the juice there in your mouth and hold it under your tongue and don’t swallow. It’s a little uncomfortable but keep it in best you can. She’s the Teacher Plant, and Bro… you’ll be more than a little amazed… ”
I’m more than a little pissed at his suggesting that I can’t handle some tiny wisp of weed.... Maybe she can teach me to stop swearing.
He starts blabbing, as Richard always does: 'It's a total kick/ lasts so short a time but will take you places/ It'll be a great shroom intro/ can’t believe you never heard of this/..Ohh yadayadayada blahblahblah”. I’m not really listening until he starts in with the I’m-not-ready lecture again but I’m determined to keep my 'set and setting' on a nice calm, even keel and not let him spoil my kratom haze and so veg’d back with, 'yea whatever…”
FIRST BIG MISTAKE: Looking back my “Set & Setting” were anything BUT optimal:
1.) That day everything was wonderful, but over the long run, aside from the normal, routine family stresses, I had been dwelling acutely on my mother’s long-time battles with cancer.
2.) (The worst) I was subconsciously hiding deep-seated guilt that I was using a Buddhist Zen retreat where I have key responsibilities to “cloud my Mind” (i.e., take hallucinogens). I was about to break one of the key precepts (commandments) of Buddhist practice, and for my digressions would be suitably rewarded.
Richard is all fired up like some excited 10 yr. old who just won’t quit and keeps on about Salvia being 'kinda like 15 minute acid but different' etc. etc. At one point he’s telling me how once on Salvia he “spent ‘a lifetime or so’ as a garden hose up against a house, observing a whole family pass through each individual stage of their entire lives” (is this to convince me? oh, Yea, ‘cause that’s always been one of my fucking goals’).
I seemed not so much leery as skeptical especially after he tells me this stuff ('she's his ‘Velvet Princess’'...) is totally legal in all but 5 states. (And even now as I write this am still in totally befuddlement at this little fact! How our Gestapo-DEA ever missed this one...) But I just laughed, and chalked it up to thinking poor Rich has been spending just a little too much time with his plants and that this is just one of his bullshit New Age relaxing-herbs/ no wonder I never heard of it and so I mentally shrug him off, dwelling only on the shrooms I have been dying for and that will soon invade my being but are still in his possession so I will behave
SECOND BIG MISTAKE: My total lack of proper investigation and respect to the preternatural power (what a weak word in this case) of “The Diviners Sage”.
We proceed to settle in: I’m sitting lotus on my zabuton (meditation cushion), Rich choosing a small sofa across from me we’d moved into the library (perfect setting!) from the front greeting hall. I'm comfortable, yet more than anxious as I light 3 sticks of Japanese incense to set the mood and then put Lustmord’s percussive “The Place where the Dark Star hangs” CD on low (a serious miscalculation that!)
I am set to go and reach for his precious tincture. He warned me to “just take 3 drops” so naturally I squeeze out a fast 6 droppers-full quick under my tongue. Damn this FUCKING SHIT BURNS but I manage to hold it in like I half remember his ramblings about not swallowing, proper oral absorption, etc.
“There!” I slur. ”You happy now!” This sucks, as saliva is pouring into my mouth and it’s all I can do not to gag and throwup much less not swallow.
“Don’t talk! Hold it in! Oh, man you took way too much… we might hav’ta wait awhile on the shrooms now!” He’s ranting but the look I flash conveys he better forget that thought and get that shroom tea cooking! He starts pacing like some Nervous Nellie wondering what to do next as he was against this entire idea of using the Zen center in the first place and I’m trying my best to not get aggravated. He is such a compulsive worrier over every little thing and his drama is getting old.
We’d set up a small timer so I can count off 8 minutes before swallowing but I can’t bear much more of this. The tincture is frying the underside of my mouth, it feels like I’m holding acid under my tongue! I’m gonna have vicious cankers tomorrow...
“Almost! Just a couple more minutes! You ok? Man, I don’t know Jon, I just don’t know about this. Hold on a sec I’ll be back,..”
He leaves the room mumbling to himself and he better be checking on those shrooms and after a good 4 minutes I’m feeling somewhat ‘muddy’ and my right arm is getting very heavy. The music starts to sound very far away, almost like it’s in another room on another floor. I hear the toilet flush. 5-plus minutes and shit I'm done waiting, and though I’m expecting a big Nothing from this aside from a mild time-killer, I’m feeling rather “playful” and increasingly lightheaded (the kratom kick-in sure is helping too). I spy his pipe the selfish bastards’ got all nicely set up and decide to torch it myself before he wanders back. So its fuck him and I swallow the nasty crap that’s been under my tongue long enough, my eyes tearing as I fight the overwhelming urge to vomit. Rich is one of my closest friends, but breaking his balls lately has become one of my favorite pastimes, especially considering all the hassle it took coaxing and then practically dragging his sorry ass here tonight. I will hit-up his entire teeny stash of salvia-pot just to bust’im, a suitable revenge for all his little irritations.
LAST HUGE MISTAKE (...and the biggest in my entire life):
He’s got a piece of some leaf (salvia?) already packed in the bowl in place of a screen, and what looks like only 2 or3 tiny grains at most of his “astronaut” shit on the leaf…always the wimp. So I tap out the rest of the entire small envelope of his salvia on top – it looks like pulverized blackish-green cigarette tobacco and there’s not much there to talk about - barely a dusting. Or so it would seem to this dupe as I hit the flame.
“I’ll show him!...”
First big toke deep as I possibly can. Like riding a bike…one never forgets technique. Managed to hold it in a full 25 seconds at least – and that was some accomplishment ‘cause man this stuff burns hot!
There’s something...I think for a sec I’m hearing muted voices, someone talking loudly but through a pillow and I assume it must be from the street but it’s different, very odd (so friggin’ dizzy!). And weird red-green flashes in my head, like having a quick high blood pressure rush, and my jaw is feeling numb, but I’m sure that’s from just holding in a lungful of heat as I haven’t smoked anything in years.
I'm trying for a second big rip as deep as I possibly can right down hard past my gut which is proving quite difficult as when I exhaled the first hit I got the biggest head-rush of my life ever. Felt like someone right in front of me just reached forward, wrapped their hands around the back of my neck and pulled me forcefully forward… Whoa!
Rich comes back holding a small tea kettle. He’s all grins until he looks at me and I wave at him and give him a wink, pointing to his precious glowing pipe on the floor (floor? How the hell did it get there? Don’t remember dropping it, that could prove dangerous...). I’ve never seen such a look on anyone’s face like that before and it’s all I can do to keep from cracking up but I can’t ‘cause I’m fighting this new feeling of something forcefully pulling my lower jaw right down to the floor and its all I can do to keep my head leveled. Everything is getting real “choppy”, my thoughts growing more and more nonlinear and fractionated….
'Hey, MAN THAT’S 20X! What the FUCK!?' Grandma scolded. It’s funny because he never swears and looks really foolish staring at his empty envelope but the only fool in the room is me and he just stands there, looking down at me with this blank look on his face.
Rich told me days later a college of his - a routine, daily Salvia-tripper (daily!?!?…shit, I can’t even imagine there are such creatures...) practically burst a nut laughing at how much I’d done my first time out).
I’m thinking (thinking?) on one last big toke but my hands are empty and I can’t seem to find my fingers anyway. I suddenly start laughing hysterically but can’t really understand why as this is less than enjoyable. I’m getting more and more confused and my crossed legs feel like they’re getting pressed into the floor like some reverse wishbone and my right arm is now so heavy I can’t budge it. There are sharp electrical-like pins running all up and down my left arm (“Oh,Oh!! heart attack!!”), and this just makes me laugh even more but WHY I don’t know as I am now not enjoying any of this and it’s funny there’ll be no smoke for Poor Ol’ Rich....
(“Look at you...can’t even take a friggin’ joke…”) I wanted to say but I couldn’t remember how to form any words and what the fuck that’s weird… now I can’t do anything but stare over at my blue Temper-pedic “eye-mask” wondering why the hell it was here (I’d brought it to assure a shroom trip in total darkness). I guess I meant to slip it on before but why? What? What!! is going on now I’m starting to sweat – I mean immediate buckets are running down my forehead, neck and chest and it feels like I just passed through a wall of hot steam. And the music.. That’s not the CD I put on! It’s like...stuck at one throbbing drone note - an ‘infinite repeat’ delay that can’t catch up to the rest of the sounds...Those voices are getting louder too, and it must be the stereo but the Lustmord CD has no vocals... and where is Rich…
This is fucked! I’m starting to get really scared and I can’t think! (or should I say there are so many images rushing through my brain I can’t slow any one down long enough to make any sense of anything)…Something really …he might actually have some major shit here but I don’t like it and want this to end. End Now. And this mask, why did I want that blue thing, it’s…and last thing I was conscious of before IT happened was some guy squatting next to me and I’m dreaming voices: “relax, Jon, your in for… big …just go with it man …let the Lady sweep you in…..if you rela… let go!” and he puts this thing over my eyes for me that’s so nice of you Who Are You Who Is Jon...
...And somewhere in a distant past I'm still connecting with the thought of shrooms but then I can’t remember what shrooms are exactly.
And it was the last normal thing before the world broke apart. . . .
THE NEW ROOM AND WHOSE GOT THE RAID:
Funny but even with my eyes covered I can still see. I don’t even have a second to think how the room seems different before all hell broke loose.
The floor below my cushion started to swiftly ripple out into dense grey wave-like patterns, undulating forward and engulfing the entire room, as if someone “behind” me (I was sitting in lotus with my back against the wall) had leaned down and was hosing the floor down with bucketsful of grey paint.
At the exact same moment the entire left side of the room took on a bright, glimmering, greenish-red luminescence. As this was happening those damned humming voices steadily grew into staccato-like, grinding pulses. The pulses gave way to a hammering in my head so intense as to take on an almost physical force. If I wasn’t sure it was all in my head I’d swear the entire hermitage would come crashing down around us (no doubt the Lustmord CD had kicked in to serenade the salvia). The voices seemed so loud but yet very muddled, soft and indistinct. (How does one even begin to put this madness into English language!?!?)
”HEY! Hey pal…Don’t you FUCKING HEAR THAT!” I can’t find my voice but wanted to scream at the top of my lungs to this guy now sitting across from me but with his back turned, seemingly oblivious to the screeching throb overhead that I thought threatened to topple the entire house. He was hunched over, ostensibly intent on something that looked from the side like an antique typewriter but there never was a desk there before (?!!). In what seemed like a second or 100,000 years later “Richard” did not even register, and for that matter I could not even remember HOW I had gotten to this place, WHERE I was, and most importantly had no idea WHO “”I”” was.
Then I was being suddenly pulled downward and to the left – progressively dragged by what seemed to be an invisible, malicious entity attempting to rip my body in half if I didn’t succumb and go willingly to the corner side of the room. I say “rip in half” as strangely enough my right side remained placid, still and upright on the cushion. Half my body remaining ‘normal’ as a solid, the other half started to stretch out like a piece of old stuck gum that you’d pull off a school desk bottom. All this was happening in such rapid succession that my mind couldn’t catch up fast enough to register what the hell was happening – or that Hell was happening. I strained forward against the magnetic pull and pleaded in a voice I couldn’t seem to raise above a whisper.
“Please! Hey buddy! Help me,..what..” and I could SEE my voice /words disintegrate as they left my mouth along with part of my lips and cheek – like those high speed freeze-frame photographs you see of the guy sneezing and you see his saliva droplets flying across the room in a 2 foot mist. That was my voice. My flesh. Riding along with ego-death my physical self had now started to particularize. (the friggin’ guy in front of me was still tap/ tap/ tap typing totally oblivious to the Armageddon around us.
Now on acid one might have brief moments of lucidity (“Damn! There’s a bad-boy comin’up...the drugs...”), a brain lifeboat, if you will - that could ground your sanity somewhat. And I have had a few bad trips, except they were trips. The problem here was that THIS WAS MY NEW REALITY. Though somewhat “dulled” there was nothing that made me stop and reason that is was anything but a new actuality ripped from the old...and I was fucking DISINTIGRATING! Forget the old acid rule “just go with it and expect the unacceptable“, because I couldn’t remember taking or smoking any drugs or doing anything prior to just existing for all time and place in this Hellroom. I must have broken some sanctified cosmic rule of some sort and can’t stop thinking that all this is somehow my fault…!
At this point the zabuton started to join in. I looked down and the cushion was now “reaching up” and attempting to attach itself to my calves, thighs and hips, grabbing me like a huge black glove and holding me still while the entire floor sucked downward in a steady, slow-motion vacuum into and under the floorboards. White, unadulterated panic had finally managed to catch up to events as – in direct conflict to the rooms blinding green kaleidoscope – a creeping blackness was forming on the ceiling to the far right. Black as ink and spreading lazily downward it approached me from its corner in a languid, foreboding manner. For what ungodly reason I found this much more threatening than the zabuton-suction that was turning me into a human pretzel against the fucking persistent alien-gravity pulling and stretching against my left side.
I was filled with a fear so raw as to be almost palpable. If anything I could NOT let this black”foam” reach me. I couldn’t make sense of it but I knew that if it did all would be lost, which seemed pretty ridiculous considering everything else happening around me. As it descended ever downward I kept trying to lift myself up against the straining cushion swallowing me into the floor while gravity tugged to the left. It now had my lower body pulled into and between the floors to waist level. I wanted to scream, but now had no mouth! (Dorothy’s spiraling during the W.o.OZ hurricane had nothing on me…).
In this tug-o-war with insanity I was somehow able to wrench loose long enough to skid face forward into the sinking hardwood, my nose to the floor as I pushed hard with my forearms in an attempt to rise upward against the gravitational sink. Doing this I slipped forward as my pressed palms started ‘melting’ right into the wood, (just as if you’d run a crayon across the surface of a hot stove). The floor started to widen further and I could see that what was pulling me now was not the cushion itself but arm-thick blackish green ‘vines’ that had broken through the fabric and had entangled themselves securely past my shins and around my lower legs and waist.
I flipped out. Wanting to scream I could only wheeze. I was beyond a terror so primordial that any rationalization or bargaining power I had over my psyche was in shutdown. It would be easy to admit “I’m just a raving OD looking for an asylum”, except this was my real world with nothing drug-induced or I-know-this-is-all-a-dream- about-to-end reassurances about it.
And the room ...The room seemed to be possessed with a life all its own. It had started to ‘tilt’ back and forth at slow 45o angles pendulum-like, while folding into itself with the floor the center of a singular, evolving vortex getting smaller and smaller by degrees until all would be sucked right out of existence - a sort of Flying Dutchman among rough waters - with both this guy in front of me and I its insignificant, unwelcome guests. Nonetheless I believed somehow that if the room disappeared we would not – that we’d remain floating in an endless void of cold nothingness. Richard – or the person that no longer registered as such – was unmindful to any of this, just sitting there.
(“What IS he typing!”)
What does one do? I looked across at my beloved statue of Buddha serene in his corner and knew I’d get no help from him (what audacity on my part to even entertain that possibility!). So I found the voice of my innocence and with it returned to the source of all nurturing, starting to beg, whimper, cry and finally shrieked for my mother like the most helpless child. Yes, and far from ashamed of the fact. My friends and colleges would have scoffed at this little display and mother would have been quite impressed. It would be embarrassing to even hint at never mind admit in writing if it all wasn’t as real as concrete.
(“concrete”…yes, more about that soon…)
“MA!! MA HELP ME”. Cries of mother were all that were called for here. Nothing less would have sufficed. “I’m Dying. Ma I’m dying please!! GodBuddhaMama PLEASE!”
And then – just what I needed – the thing before me shifts and rises from its small desk and in rising it is 20 ft. tall if it’s a foot, and in turning it is not a man or Rich or even human. I am faced with what feels like (visuals still as I mentioned somewhat hazy but yet distinct in their conceptions) a giant roach/beetle thing. Stooped it practically touches the ceiling and shuffles toward me on thin, spindly “legs” bent back at reverse 90o angles peeking out from beneath a black body wrap - somewhat like a topcoat. I can now make out insect features and its wearing round rimless glasses just like my friend Rich (Who?). It has just about reached me when it stops and holds an index finger against what I guess would be defined as lips and shushes me with mild disapproval, oblivious to my choked pleadings and agitated no doubt by all the noise I make bawling like a baby and it probably can't concentrate on its all-important typing or the melodies playing around us...
…And grant me why should I find this any more bizarre with all the other normality raging around me? And what does a massive roach/beetle thing type? I just wanted to know before it reached out for what I’m sure was The Kill. Funny how our priorities shift - the questions we feel MUST be answered before what we truly believe to be our last precious seconds of life are extinguished.
And it rolled forward, not by bending straight over but by a kind of undulant, snake-like downward advance. I feel almost at peace…a relieved resignation. Finally I’m dead.
Practically touching my face, its syrupy, mandible drools fell into my lap and hands and it spoke soothingly.
“Shhhush…Quiet now…you keep up that racket and you’ll disturb all the workers…”
(Richard later divulged that during most of this I barley moved, just sat slumped over the whole time salivating a lot of green tincture/drool over my interlocked fingers and grunt or mumble occasionally. He came forward twice during what he cheerily called ‘my mama episode’ and raised the eye-fold for a quick curiosity check (“You were a sitter’s dream, just...gone.') and then reset the mask back into place. He made sure there were NO extraneous noises that could “upset” my little trip – even having shut off the CD player - and only once did I make a futile attempt to flail my arms and point and then almost fell over sideways. All I seemed to do consistently was groan.)
And then, from out of the green-red glow an octagonal wheel had now materialized in the far upper left corner, a spinning glass-like orb that is rotating and slowly accelerating. In sharper detail it is stretched out past its portal of entry creating an octagonal “tube”, like the top of a giant ice-cream cone in space. Did I just not notice this before? It seems so close I can almost reach out and touch it although it hangs suspended a good 20 feet away. Out of the orb a face appeared, then the upper half of a torso, in contrast hazy and opaque but clear enough that I was able to make out its of a small boy of about 8-10 yrs. old (!). And he looks so familiar…
'Come on! You gotta hurry come on quick!' he giggles delightedly and leans forward, his hand sticking out toward me like he was emerging out of a picture frame. He waives, beckoning for me to reach up and join him inside this flashing, spinning wheel - the only portal to safety whose risks seems far preferable to the madness of my other guest before me and the enveloping, flesh-oven floor beneath.
'Go away kid, ya' bother me!' the Roach yells up with enraged annoyance.
The boy grabs me and I'm lifted forward effortlessly as if I’d weighed nothing (and after all I was disintegrating). He looks right at me – we are nose to nose but even still his features are vague yet unsettling. I feel I know this kid, but can’t place him. He reminds me of that kid in the Dutch-boy paint commercials (?!?) He attempts to pulls me through the portal and I’m about to ask HOW as it’s getting smaller by degrees and I can’t possibly fit but all he does is cackle and first thing I feel is my right arm being stretched up and around my face, jaw and throat like a piece of wet silly putty before I‘m just folded clean backwards – halved at the center of my spine with my stomach protruding, the back of my head level with my calves. It was as if I was made of jelly and there was not a solid bone in my body, somehow completely painless yet no less horrified that I can now be so easily accordioned like a folded sheet of paper, a completely flattened, 2-dimentional version of my ’self’... halved and shelved for some new torment.
(Richard referred to this as the infamous “Salvia gravity” or “The Oxaca ‘Bends’” ... and it can be the worst experience, especially your first time out not knowing what to expect! I’m still trying today to fruitlessly get used to this. Like he always assures me: “The salvia realms are mysterious and varied...but the ride getting there is usually uncomfortable”. Try imagining 30 people or so jumping up and down and stomping their feet excitedly all over you – because you have become a Ferris wheel. The word “uncomfortable” seems to be interchangeable with “salvia” when discussing these experiences, no argument there…).
And for a microsecond I am up on the ceiling looking down at myself on the ground! Looking down as this body-on-a-cushion reaching up to me-who-was-no-longer-there because I am in multiple dimensions at once! Like being simultaneously actor and audience at the same time gauging each others performance.
I hear the kid whisper in my ear: “We’re going from the place no one wants to go…”
And then I'm suddenly alone. The kid is gone. The room is gone. Imploded? Just disappeared? It is all just a great empty, void as if the black ooze from the room had caught up to me during my exit and had won. I am no longer conscious of inhabiting a physical body but only of pure disembodied thought being stretched out– flattened and extended out over eons at a billion miles per second. I felt a communication of some sort telling me, that not only was I disconnected from all that I had known before, but that the world I came from, my friends, my family, my previous life hadn’t really existed…ever! It felt like I had just woken up from a slumber, a warm cozy comfortable sleep, only to realize that what I had thought was physically real had been but a dream. The deities had played a terrible trick on me. Now I can acclimate to the cosmic idea of total obliteration and death (after all I am a Rinzai Buddhist), but to be somehow consciously and for all eternity AWARE of nothing but vast nonexistence - the totality of infinite abandonment - this was far and beyond the terrors of any previous concept of Christian purgatory.
FROM SIDEWALKS TO PETTYCOATS:
From the black wherever I am now lying naked in the sidewalk off the busy Mass.Ave. Intersection not two miles from my home. That's right, not 'on' the sidewalk but half-buried directly in concrete...my head, neck, and upper chest are the only body parts above ground level. I was stuck fast, immobile as half of me lies beneath and held fast into the street surface. Below lies absolute nothingness, and all I can barely manage is to swivel my head, my vision limited to the periphery.
My entire lower half lies suspended limply in what I was sure was another world or that I had not quite returned from the previous Void to this latest stop in this infinite nightmare... once again half in-half out of 2 entirely different dimensions, stuck in the middle (so to speak). When I tried to swing my legs or move my hands no feeling registered whatsoever, with the ominous realization that I had no physical connection below the surface at all. All of what was previously 'me' was now above street level, my appendages merely a superfluous outgrowth of the street surface. I was now part of a fucking sidewalk! Better to have gone back to being a flattened plain of disembodied consciousness than this.
Accessing my immediate surroundings I had been dropped off in a time-dimensional cube that seemed to be no larger than the circumference of one city block, for beyond that relative distance all I could make out was a wall of white emptiness, like the city had run head on with an enormous cloud. Also this new piece of a World was perceptibly turning ever so slowly, revolving vertically a full 18Oo but at a barely discernible rate – and through the slow, relentless spinning the traffic, pedestrians, and everything around me held fast, with no gravitational recourses.
(It seems that on salvia EVERYTHING is forever turning, churning or spinning...)
Traffic would speed by, and as soon as it passed would shrivel and blur out into the blankness, leaving subdued tracers of faint green gold as they passed. Only the buildings in my direct vision, and the vague outlines of pedestrians were visually sharp – facial details were once again blurred. And the traffic...
Traffic of not only modern vehicles as we know it zipping past at 30 or so mph but also an equal number of 1800’s type horse & buggies plodded by in this bi-dimensional time warp.
And I am not alone.
Standing directly next to me - I was literally 'at their feet' - were two women, a man and a little girl whispering pensively amongst themselves and occasionally looking down at me with barely discernable interest. The women seemed drawn and severe looking, one in particular seemed to give me the most resentful look. The man... the man in contrast had a green, cartoonish-face and towered over the other 3 by at least a foot. All wore period clothing, the women in hoop skirts and holding parasols, the man in Edwardian top hat and black tailored jacket. Only the vacant little girl – expressionless in a long flowered dress - seemed fixated at the half-interred man prostrated before her.
They stood next to Ace Wheelworks with its huge plate-glass window and were studying a rusted bicycle before them, the type you see in those old movies where the front wheel was massive and the back no bigger than a kids tricycle training-wheel. But this bike was slightly different. In place of plastic peddles it had furred goat hooves.
The Green Man turned his attention from the “bike” to me. “Nothing seems to work anymore… It can’t be helped” he shrugged.
I was about to call out and plead to them when at that precise moment there was no cause for further alarm or complaint - for I was now the little girl staring down where “I” had previously held my place in the ground. I turned around AS THE GIRL, looking at the reflection in the glass and then back down but there was no other body below - just an empty sidewalk and the flowing, hurried traffic...
When I turned and looked back up at my new mother I lived with new eyes, for I was Now, Then and Forever her only little girl…
Thoughts and projected memories reeled like I was experiencing a childhood and living it in flash-frame succession all the way from pre-adolescence to motherhood to old age all in a matter of mille-seconds. I had rapid-fire visions from playmates, friends and lovers up to what would be my three children not yet born. From marriage to old age to death, with no memory whatsoever to the thing that had previously lain at my tiny feet.
It was NOT like I was standing there reminiscing...I was actually LIVING THESE YEARS as I stood and gazed at the empty street before me. 70 years? 75? 80? It did not measure in exact time but then what did anymore? I would freeze in the moment and then barrel off to another lifetime(s).
(Getting this? Cause I wasn’t. The ability - the sheer magnitude of trying to not only comprehend but communicate this borders the impossible. I’m supposed to be a big expert on dreams and the subliminal, and after all this all I can do is stammer…
But… I know that all you salvia-orians out there will somehow understand...)
'Aaahhh Hah Hah Hah!”
On the corner by the K.F.C. side street The Little Dutch Boy has returned, pacing there, watching and laughing hysterically and slapping his knee while pulling a small Red Ryder wagon along with the other hand.
'I thought you were going HOME!' 'Hah Hah' Come ‘on I'll take ya now!”
On closer inspection the face sure didn’t match the voice, which was that of a mischievous brat, but given his size and wizened, craggy features he looked more like an old troll or leprechaun. He turns and reaches down, picking up a fluorescent orange ball from the wagon and holds it forward towards me with both hands. And I'm suddenly staring directly up in front of his face and he is now holding me with both hands squeezing my ears. I’m not an orange ball but once again the head and shoulders attachment that was formerly concreted, teleported from the street directly into his hands. Guess my stint as a little girl is over…
He keeps squeezing the sides of my head tighter and tighter, the pressure radiating downward and I’m again having this heavy tugging feeling like I remembered from another time and would hurtle straight down and to the left if he wasn't supporting me.
Again, all these impossibilities of Physics are painless…
(If I was at this point lucid I would have to say these Salvia-beings – if not this whole experience borders closely on that I experienced on DMT, except for the fact that DMT was much “clearer and cleaner” but NO LESS fantastic and far less threatening.)
'We can go home now!' a high pitched sing-song and he spins around and deposited my head/chest into the Red Ryder wagon and never stopped laughing as he ran forward with 'me' jarring in tow behind him.
THE GAUNTLET OF GUILT:
And then Paint-troll gone. Wagon gone. Mass.Ave. gone.
This time I’m running (got some legs back!) in black woods and it’s so, so black. Night was never this black. Running, running all this fucking running but the weird thing is I’m also running on a stairwell platform, or should I say attempting to outrun the stairs themselves, for they were dissolving both in front and behind me with each step taken. I started to outrun them faster and faster but the stairs would keep pace creating a disappearing cube no larger than the width of each step. Steps would materialize as I ran forward, and then disintegrate as I stepped off no matter how fast I ran. The world started spinning and churning once again and in no time I was running upside down, sideways, and at diverse 90 degree angles without ever falling, losing place – or making any kind of headway at all in this E.M. Escher pursuit to nowhere.
And then for the briefest instant my entire surroundings exploded into what seemed like some colorless celestial realm, with this monstrously large, intensely bright face covering my entire line of vision. The face before me felt comforting and maternal, and though I could not place it was for once unafraid, and I can make out just enough objects around me to see that I am momentarily back in the hermitage library I was in a zillion years ago. “Maybe I’m cresting…” I catch myself thinking and then it flashes for the first time that I am ON A DRUG. Shrooms? I’m thinking maybe shrooms but I remember smoking… I ‘m trying to look closer at this increasingly familiar face but the light is so damned bright and I have no time at all to assimilate it to my surroundings or ground myself mentally as to what has happened - or even calm myself and possibly go with the end experience in a relatively calmer manner. I’m starting to gather thoughts and then suddenly all is black once again and there is no time for any rationalization or reason…
Cut back to running, never having stopped. To either side of me there are these ashen, phantasmal strobes accompanied by a pitched hum that softened to a low throb as the strobes rapidly decelerated to where they now revealed themselves as minuscule bodies with exaggeratingly enlarged heads. Swollen to at least 10 times the comparative size the heads looked like huge cartoons, like those stupid spring-neck bobbing figures people insist on placing in their back car window for the tailgaters’ entertainment. But as the faces continued to slow and materialize they were anything but funny. I clearly recognized most, although a few – if not immediately familiar - struck cords of nostalgic recognitions...
There were no strangers.
A gauntlet of the loved and lost.
And with each and every face flashed an instant memory where I had hurt, disappointed, or let each down in some deeply personal, irreparable way or another. I have led a diversely tainted past, but the last 20 years were exemplary ones of fond memories, reconciliations and contentment... but this little cosmic parade only proved once again that in each and every one of us are buried gilts so deep that they never recede - always lurking beneath the folds of our subconscious. On and on they went. The visions would just saunter by and I would remember and lament the lifetimes of irretrievable regrets. My angling body skittered forward on this stairway of self torment now trying to outrun these vaporous intrusions to my long worked for inner peace, trying not to look up as I could not keep up with the endless stream, and therefore had nothing to say, nothing to offer but my own hell-racked conscience that may be forgiven but could never be appeased in my own heart.
So all I could now and forever do was continue forward, and it seemed like above all else THIS was My Final Frontier. There would be no more stops along the way. This was my end, and worse than any enormous bugs, body-moldings or concreted fresh. This was the very definition of eternal punishment. Hell is the unreserved, profound despair and regret at the pain we have caused to those we love…
And then, though in only somewhat of a state of dazed comprehension, it was like I never left. The “gravity pull” was gone, replaced now by an almost pleasant feeling of sinking into cocoon-like slumber. (Like a good kratom buzz if everything else had been left well enough alone!) I just wanted to enjoy a few moments of this brief peace before I raised my head and why are my hands all slimy... thoughts just starting to clear. It’s gotta be morning... I expected the room to look like a monsoon and I’ve got a lot of explaining to do when the caretaker arrives probably any minute from now (and with the head priest tagging along with my luck!) and Man it’s all over for my ass in this place!
But the room has held fast and is once again its own silent, contemplative self. I look toward the picture window and its still pitch dark out. And I hope to Buddha/God I didn’t damage up my eyesight permanently. I thought of a buddy of mine that once ate 30 datura seeds and how his eyes were totally fucked for three days and the hell he went through. (I can’t wait to tell him about this little evening…).
But everything seems so quiet, unambiguous and … normal.
“Helloooooo .... Bro.” the voice from the corner of the room
Here I go all over again, me fooling myself into thinking that it was all over and now thinking this could never end.... but its just good old Hippie-Rich (not Rich-Roach) smiling over at me. And I just wanted to grab that long ponytail of his and hug’m!. Am I really normal again? My eyes I’m so worried about my eyes…I want to believe everything really is ok, and I just want to go home and go home NOW.
“Rich. I’m sorry I’m always such a shit…how do you put up with me…” and I don’t know where the hell that came from and my voice sounds like it belongs somewhere else.
He just smirks and stares intently – studying me, I felt like now I was the bug under his microscope. He scoots forward and just keeps staring at me and as soon as he was certain I was at least lucid enough to warrant conversation the sonovabitch started right in without the decency to allow me my bearings, raving like he never did before. He’s just one continuously manic, pacing rant…
“Oh man if you coulda just now seen you! Biiiig tough guy …I must say you’re The Man even with your Mommy!” He makes mock terror-faces and throws punches at the air. “Ugh! Ugh! Ohhhhh! Ma! Ma!!! I coulda pissed myself, it was so priceless!”
“Hey!... Tough guy! You there?” he’s waving his arms, looking ridiculous.
“You shoulda seen you… what I woulda given for a video camera the last forty-five minutes…”
Not countless lifetimes. Not a million years. Not even all night.
Just 45 minutes!?
“So...wha’d you see? Anything? I mean anything other than your ‘Mama’ (laughs). Did you see Her? Did you see this/that/ blahblahblah..' and starts in about it serves me right smoking a years worth of his salvia and he’s once again unstoppable. Mr. Comedian looks real pleased with himself, rambling tangents as he always does - proving to me above all else that everything is back to normal.
I’ve never before in my life felt so bewildered, numb and relieved all at once. I can only sit there and stare at him. I’ve got nothing to say…
I’m still worried and obsessing about any long-term affects to my vision…
'Does this cause brain fry Rich!? Christ, please for once just STOP and tell me!'
'No, no way, Jon believe me. Most just feel really humble their first time out but I'm sure that'll pass real quick in your case...' But it takes a more than a few assurances from him once he grew serious before I can let this dread go…
And this guy still wants to do shrooms!!… Is he for real!?... I just want to hit him.
I can’t listen any more to any of this. I am DONE. I tell him he can put his shrooms on a fucking pizza for all I care. I tell him in no polite terms I’ve had enough entheogens for another 20 years, and that if and when I ever did indulge again I would opt for something slightly mellower… like say an 18 hour full throttle acid trip, as no other drug ever came even close to something like this!
Acid?... If you ask me compared to The Sage you gotta be kidding…
DMT? DMT was just a Sunday afternoon practice run(well, maybe definitely not... can’t beat those aluminum-foil Keeblers. ..,-)
Fast forward past the next 15 minutes of arguing and “make-sure-you-lock-up-behind-you and Thank You and Fuck You for everything”...
I just needed to be alone…I can’t believe…
My mind is on fire!
It’s only 3 miles to my home from the Zen center, but it was the longest walk of my life. Now that it was all over I just keep checking my bearings and catch myself snickering nervously. My confidence is rapidly returning in increments. It seems like every 2 minutes and at every corner I gotta just stop and grab on to something - a signpost, piece of fence, car hood.... anything to make sure it is all once again solid, and I’m not going to be shwooshed off to some new Outland at any second. Holy Shit what a RUSH that was! The Fear is gone, replaced now by a state of vast awe. Right before I reach the corner of M- ave across from a Chicken restaurant I wonder if I’ll be greeted by ladies in parasols, bikes with feet (me in concrete!) or the sounds of troll laughter and then find myself laughing. I’m starting to feel so good maybe I should go back with funnyman and do those shrooms after all...!!
I can’t stop thinking, thinking, thinking…
And Rich tells me later that was considered a long time for a salvia experience!
The enormity… the Possibilities!
Just after 2:00am I get home and pause to collect myself one more time before going upstairs to explain to my wife how 'the overnight retreat' was cancelled and I just did my own thing (boy did I) for a few hours before returning. I crept downstairs to the den for the last few hours before daybreak. Like I was even gonna try sleeping! I stop for a second – What if I’m STILL TRIPING! – about to be pulled back once again into Salviaspace and this is just a dirty Rich-Roach trick to take one or all of my family along with me. (This is what it must feel like to live life as a paranoid schizophrenic!)
Then I just start laughing again. I don’t know why but I feel so... invigorated somehow. I could’ve just drunk 10 espressos I feel so pumped up. I want to just wake up the entire world and say, “Salvia!!!”
My own private alter, Buddha and zabuton are set up in the corner not 2 feet away and no way I sitting on THAT! I’m laughing so hard now I’m sure to wake up the wife and boys. All those reports about people feeling a lift after salvia? They sure weren’t kidding, this would sure beat Prozac (“here you go sir, just hit this pipe and…”)
God I just can’t stop laughing...
It’s a damned good thing I had the next day off from work, as for the next 12 hours I was on auto-pilot, still completely bewildered and trying to assimilate the whole experience in my brain. The Diviners Sage had definitely put me in my place and I was and am humbled beyond all words for it. It’s now been 4 weeks, another 5 salvia journeys and counting as I transcribe this tome. I had never been so relentlessly unnerved by anything in my life, but the initial wonderment and terror have been replaced by a sense of complete veneration to the plants contemplative and Shamantic potential!
My second trip was another disaster. I did it with another friend, and he only smoked a half a leaf and spent the next 5 minutes running around his apartment looking for his head, which he assured me “they stole and it was somewhere in Chicago”. But I am nothing if not persistent, and the last four journeys since then have been some of the most positively rewarding mind-experiences of my life. I have paid my dues royally and can finally say ‘She’ is now – to quote Richard – my own Velvet Princess. Not that I would ever think of using the word “fun” in these endeavors…
It's like those Hellraiser flicks. I’ve seen all 8 of them and love them, but could never figure out - until now - why those people always came back for more... reaching out yet again and again when offered that puzzlebox from Pinhead (i.e.,'The Box... you called.. WE came!'). Now I got my own puzzlebox, if you will. I’ve recently invested enough money in leaf, extract(s) and tincture from a number of on-line suppliers that even if it goes ‘Schedule 1’ I possess enough of the sage to last me the rest of my natural life.
I can just see myself at 80… easing back on my LazyBoy recliner and taking out my
teeth before loading up the old water bong, with Richard forever (worrying) by my side…
(”Gather ‘round children, in just ten minutes Uncle will have some tales to tell…!”)
I remember in my initial haste assuring Richard that night on my way out the zendo door I would never go back to Her, that he was crazy as a loon to do THAT shit more than once…Well, here I am. After wrapping up this last paragraph I’m hitting the pipe yet again for this, Trip # 7 and counting... but carefully unlike before, with total respect and the deepest reverence – and probably always scared shitless.
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