Citation: loopster. "Infinite Progression of Obstacles: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (Salvia) (exp70066)". Erowid.org. Oct 25, 2016. erowid.org/exp/70066
This was my first experience with salvia.
After doing a substantial amount of research, I purchased 1/2 oz. of Sage Wisdom Emerald Essence from a website, plus 25 mg of 'Extra Strength' leaf. Having read about the intensity of the reports, I decided I would go the sublingual route; 'gentler' and 'longer-lasting' seemed more my style. Background: regular marijuana smoker; some experience with mushrooms (approx. dozen times) and LSD (approx. half-dozen times), though no hallucinogen use in several years prior to experience described below.
I tried using the tincture on a Friday night, just after 11:00 pm – kids in bed; wife serving as sitter in adjacent room. Even diluting the tincture, the stuff really scorched the bottom of my mouth. Sad to say, that was the most noticeable effect. I waited, relaxed, waited some more. Felt some effects... a sense of “drag” on the right side of my body, a sensation of “waves” underneath and around me. (This likely had something to do with my trip soundtrack, a CD of ocean waves, which seemed like the calmest, most relaxing and reflective thing I could put on.) But that was it… no visuals, no perceptual alterations, no insights, save for: Jesus, this stuff really does sting like a motherfucker.
Next night, I tried again (same time, same circumstances), this time taking one more dropperful (0.75 ml), and staggering the dose (as suggested in the instructions) into three partial doses. This was more manageable, as holding the one big dose in my mouth had been a total hassle the night before; I kept struggling not to swallow, and dribs and drabs occasionally escaped the corners of my mouth – yech. But the effect, or lack thereof, was pretty much the same. Some “wavy” and “draggy” sensations, but otherwise, nada.
This was a real disappointment to me. I really tried hard to follow all instructions… brushed my soft palate and rinsed with Listerine prior to dosing, diluted with hot water, took doses rapidly in succession and everything. I still like the idea of a longer-lasting, gentler experience, but this tincture business just didn’t work for me. Maybe a quid, somewhere down the line…
So after writing off tinctures, I decided to smoke what leaf I had. Loaded up my bong with ice & water, and put a fresh screen on the bowl. I dumped in the teeny-tiny “enhanced” 25 mg dose and fired it up, using a standard cigarette lighter. Held it in for as long as I could, and exhaled.
Right away, I knew I had something. The sensation was similar to what I’ve noted in several other trip reports. A very “cartoony” feel, more in terms of audio than visuals, and very intense. I felt I could sense some presences – mischievous and sprite-like. They were excited, or perhaps just excitable. While they didn’t speak English, exactly, the sense I got was of a great bustling around, and the dominant sensory metaphor was one of transportation; if there was a message, it was akin to: “Hurry up! The train is leaving the station!”
I felt as though I was on a kind of conveyor belt, taking me head-first into some kind of other realm, with these sprite-like presences as conductors, of a sort. There was a sense of the world kind of folding in over me… not scary, exactly, just apprehensive.
I was pretty impressed. I tried lifting my arm, and found that I could. That caused the hallucination to recede and paved my entry back into the real world. The whole thing didn’t last longer than a minute or so, and to be fair, that’s what it felt like. I didn’t have the sense of time distortion that others have reported.
But this was encouraging. The next day, I went to a local smoke shop and bought a gram of 5x leaf and a butane torch lighter. Given that I’d spent a bundle on the tincture (including shipping), this was a relative bargain. This was Sunday, Easter Sunday in fact. I didn’t use any salvia that night, not because of any religious reason, it just turned out to be a real dog of a day – wife was sick, and I exhausted myself with egg-related activities and cooking a big involved dinner that ultimately didn’t turn out well. Plus, in the final moments as I was making my decision (salvia or no salvia tonight?), my son rose from his bed and promptly vomited all over the place. Bad omen. No salvia tonight.
So we come to Monday night, last night. Loaded up the bong, a nice, medium-sized bowl. Polished it off in one hit with the butane lighter, and waited to see what happened.
This was something. Like my previous smoking attempt, but longer lasting, and more intense. Again, the sprite-like presences – I could make out the “language” more distinctly… lots of n’s and m’s, short a’s, long e’s. (Tried speaking aloud what I heard, but it tended to disrupt the hallucination.) But more than anything, there was a sense of immense familiarity, even though I didn’t precisely recognize anything… it was almost as though I was in the middle of a dream I’d had when I was 4 or 5 years old. For some reason, I kept flashing on my maternal grandparents’ house, again, even though it wasn’t as though I was “there.”
Spatially, things were very distorted. Sometimes, I had the sense of high walls all around me, a little castle-like, with tunnels going through them. In retrospect, it had something of the sense of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, when the trolley would take you to the land of make-believe. (I’m put in mind of a salvia video I saw in my research, some college kid taking a big hit, after which he can only say “The streetcar! The streetcar!”)
Again, it was overwhelming, but I felt reasonably safe. I have to say, it feels a little misplaced, referring to castles, my grandparents’ house and Mr. Rogers when none of these things explicitly appeared – by any stretch – in my experiences. The predominant sense was just of constant motion, of shuttling around this dreamlike plane of existence, but always with that weird sense of familiarity.
The whole thing took maybe 3-5 minutes… maybe some time distortion, but not a lot. After I’d regained my senses, I decided to try it again. I packed another bowl. Being an idiot, I did this by attempting to “scoop” the salvia out of the inconveniently tiny baggie with the bowl of the bong, succeeding only in managing to wet the salvia down with bongwater. (Are you *sure* you’ve done drugs before, loopster?) This would have been a disaster, save for the genius of the butane torch lighter, which proved impressively adept at igniting the soggy salvia even so. (Side note: Wet salvia – not a pleasant smell.)
Second bowl: very much like the first. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of this one, due to the overwhelming experience of Bowl #3.
Third bowl. After struggling with the wet salvia, I managed to cram what must have been a sizable wad in there. Torched it up and took it in. As I exhaled, I decided to turn out the light, to see what effect the darkness had on it, and whether less light might encourage more open-eye visuals.
Bad idea? You be the judge. I don’t remember how long I was lying there, just that at some point, I had to get up and get out of the room. The result was genuinely nightmarish. Movement was extremely difficult; I had the sense that I was clambering over or navigating through an infinite series of scenery flats – the thin, framework/canvas walls and doors that compose stage or movie sets; I also have an image/sense of “flattened cereal boxes” in there somewhere. It was incredibly hard going – frustrating and very scary.
This was the first and only time so far that I had the experience that others have reported: that I had completely forgotten that I had smoked salvia, that time was extending, that this experience was absolutely real, and that this was 'reality' from now on. Most poignantly, even in my panic, I could remember that things weren’t always like this, and I was powerless to bring them back. But it was truly horrible, stumbling around through the dark through this infinite progression of jumbled flats and obstacles. The best analogue I can thing of is Marcel Duchamp’s painting “Nude Descending a Staircase,” but sort of reversed; instead of the figure (me) being broken up into this rigid, stop-motion progression of shapes, the rest of reality was broken up that way. Nightmarish is the only way to describe it.
Side note: To be fair, my room is pretty damn cluttered, and navigating around it in the dark, even when not under a powerful hallucinogen, is dicey at best. If Duchamp had been present, he might have gotten to work on “Doofus Stumbing around his Bedroom.” In addition to the basics of salvia use & abuse – have a sitter, calm environment, etc. – I’d contribute: Clean up your room.
So allow me to join in the chorus: Have a sitter present. My distress was evident enough that my wife came to the rescue, put an arm around me, and told me that everything would be okay. And it was. (According to the wife, I was calling out “What the hell is going on?” in as scared and plaintive a voice as she’s ever heard from me, and doing it loud enough to wake her up from where she was dozing on the couch in our den.) The scariness receded, in precisely the way that a bad dream does when you awaken.
Thus consoled, I lay back down on the bed in the dark and just drifted. I don’t remember much on either side of the nightmare interlude, though I was still out of it enough to wonder, quite sincerely, if I’d imagined the whole thing, including my wife’s ride to the rescue. Gradually, I came out of it, and went in to report back to my wife and let her know I was okay.
Initial conclusions: This is serious stuff, this salvia. Even given the nightmare sequence of Bowl Three, I’m certainly expecting to do more experimentation. (Though maybe not, y’know, tonight.) Specifically, I’m curious to see if I can push myself towards a more reflective kind of experience; these were a little heavy on the invisible-muppets-chattering-in-an-invented-language to inspire much reflective thought. I’m also very interested in the temporal hallucinations that some have experienced, and believe that whatever impulses I felt in the “grandparents’ house” direction might be a useful starting point for that kind of exploration. I also have an intuition that outdoor use might yield some unique benefits.
Not that anyone asked, but: I have to believe that by 2011, salvia will be illegal in the United States. Watching the YouTube videos that college and especially high-school kids have made of themselves (and each other) taking salvia and tripping out, I think that the day isn’t far off when some upper-middle-class teenager does salvia and runs out into traffic after being messed with by his asshole friends, thus setting off a national panic. Seriously, looking at the appalling way these kids are using the drug — in a social setting, with the user mostly as an object of mockery to be fucked-with — I could see it happening tomorrow.
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