Citation: Hubert Cumberdale. "Goodbye Reality, Goodbye Universe: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp86484)". Erowid.org. Nov 26, 2011. erowid.org/exp/86484
So I’ve been meaning to write this down for some time but haven’t had the time nor clear mind to do it. I had an experience on Salvia that was, is, and remains incomparable to anything I have ever experienced in my life – and it’s still affecting me in a very big (and negative) way.
I was pretty new to smoking cannabis, I had done it a couple times in high school but it’s only been in the past couple months that I smoked it regularly (and by regularly I mean aprox. three times a week). At first it was a sort of time-stretched feeling that I liked and then it became more introspective, more self-examining experience and I usually didn’t like what I saw. Anyways, fast forward a couple more weeks and I decided I wanted to try acid for the first time, took 2 hits and had a great trip, visuals weren’t too crazy, but it was a mindfuck for sure, words started to lose their meanings and musical phrases seemed just as valid a form of communication as a verbal phrase.
Anyways…. my buddy tells me he’s got salvia, I’d heard of it and at this point I was really interested in trying any drug I could get my hands on. Essentially my mindset was this: “hey, I’ve done LSD, I can do any drug.” They only drug I knew that would be “stronger” then acid was DMT. I knew all drugs created different reactions in different people, but I honestly didn’t expect much from Salvia because: 1) it was legal, 2) everyone I knew who took it told me they thought it was “like weed.” Harmless enough, right? As I get to my friends place, he tells me that he had a crazy dreamlike trip where he was hang-gliding over Kansas or something the night before, and it scared him so he didn’t want to repeat. Hang-gliding? Shit, I’ll hang-glide.
So he gives me the pipe, fills it with Salvia, lights it for me and as I inhale, he tells me to breathe it in deep and hold. I do as I’m told and hold the smoke in for at least 15-20 seconds. Zeppelin’s No Quarter in the background, I’m ready to have a cool trip.
Now let me interrupt for a second. I didn’t know what extract it was, it really didn’t matter in my mind. I guess what most people smoke is about 5x, 10x, 20x. According to my friend, who got it from another friend, this was 90x. (I know there’s some debate about extract levels and potency, but this is all I know about the salvia I personally smoked). Needless to say, I had no clue I was in store for a level 5 trip into another fucking dimension.
Then, out of nowhere, the second I exhaled, I felt like someone had punched me in the face. The air left my lungs, and I was in the most vulnerable state in my entire life. For some reason, the dark texture of the salvia reminded me of poison, and suddenly I felt like I had just smoked lead or something. Almost immediately, extremely venomous looking kaleidoscope patterns filled most of my vision. They were fractal shaped patterns that covered most of vision. The only thing I could make out was my fucking phone on the table. I struggled to breathe, I could hardly speak but all I could muster was “get that out of here” as I pointed to the phone, its led screen shining through the fractal shapes. I think at that point I didn’t even know what a phone was, but for some reason it needed to go. My friend took it and put in the back room. When he returned, I was a soulless shell.
I felt the most intense feeling of déjà vu as all sense of self died. I had been here before! Now why the fuck would I ever return? The idea of taking this drug recreationally seemed as naïve, foolish, and immature as anything you could ever imagine. It was like hell, honestly, in the sense that you could have never imagined something so horrifying and evil that it really is ineffable, it’s purely impossible to explain - but you’re there, and you’re definitely experiencing it. There is nothing in this dimension to relate it to. Quite literally, there are no words to explain what I felt other then complete and utter despair and fear. Reality just broke apart and I was left in this fractal void. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t feel any part of my body, ideas broke down to the point where I couldn’t think for myself, the images I was seeing were more intense then I could even register, so much so that the entire experience was sort of like sensory overload overdriven to the max. I guess my eyes were open and I was just sitting there with a stupid look on my face, but I was in a completely different dimension.
I can remember a couple parts of this extremely confusing and disorienting experience, but like I said earlier, it’s hard to put it in words. My friend asked me something like “you tripping”? But it just kept skipping, like “you-you- tri-trip-trip-trip-trip-tripi-trippi”, suddenly the words lost their meanings and it became really sloppy sounding, the visuals skipped with it, and it was like everything in the room started to pull apart and I started to see layers within everything. It was kind of like the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma,” but everything was losing its detail and gaining new detail. The visuals were kind of like if you could imagine flying through an image or maybe traveling through two mirrors facing each other and just having the pattern of what you’re seeing fall into itself and then reform and repeat. Now, this sounds cool and all, but at this point I had no clue I was under any kind of drug, I didn’t know who I was or where I was, I just had this feeling, an extremely overwhelming feeling, that I had caused this disaster. I somehow did something extremely bad that caused the universe to collapse on itself. Now, this was an extremely personal experience and I felt no connection to any other life forms at all, I was a prisoner in my own mind, I built reality in my own mind, and now I accidentally did something that just brought everything crashing down. It was a devastating solipsist experience.
I remember the feeling that within the fractal quickly evolving matrix was a choir of cartoon-esque objects created in the kaleidoscope pattern that were singing to me about the trip, ushering me in, I remember seeing twisted pictures of my friend’s face, but nothing was disjunct, or cut up like a film; it was all a fluid evolution from one thing to another, but it was so complex and overwhelming that my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. Everything was alien, nothing was real or even tangible, I could see it clearly, and yet it somehow was so intense, so bizarre, that it eluded my mind’s ability to process it all. Oh and all the while, I was listening to Zeppelin’s “The Ocean”, the constant beat and Robert Plants “Ah-hah” playing in the background, but I didn’t even remember it until weeks later under weed listening to the same record.
I felt gravity’s pull, but it was pulling me sideways. I felt an extremely strong tug downward, and this intensified as the trip became more and more intense. Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t grasp what I was seeing anymore. Not that I could before, but before I felt like I was a slave to the hallucinations, I couldn’t think for myself, I couldn’t reassure myself that I was on a drug, my mind was spent – completely. I “felt” like a vegetable, who couldn’t even grasp what he was seeing. Now, my mind was trying to grasp it, but it couldn’t, I felt my mind desperately trying to grab at ideas but it couldn’t quite reach. This inability to grasp the I trip, coupled with unbearable pins and needles and an extreme downward pull, started to create some sensation of self (or a body) – but I felt like it was stretched out over the entire field of my vision: I had become the 2 dimensional image of this warped and constantly moving alternate dimension. Suddenly it began to fall apart and I felt like I was freefalling through this picture… while I was the picture.
As my field of vision was warped and reassembling and being pulled apart, I felt my own body falling apart. Now, while this was all happening, I suppose I got up, started stumbling across the room, knocked a bunch of shit over and then fell back and almost broke my friend’s table. Needless to say, all the glass pieces were knocked on the floor and I was stumbling around like some kind of village drunk in some old irish novel. Suddenly, as I was fighting for my life, trying to climb out of the layers of reality that were falling around me, I saw my friend’s girlfriend’s face trying to hold me. Apparently, they were trying to subdue me for some time, but being that I was racing for my life in another dimension, falling to my death through millions of layers of reality; it was a little hard to get through to me. But the second I saw her face, I suddenly realized that I was a human, that I had taken a drug, even that I was a sentient being. All of that went out the window with just a little bit of some good old Salvia, my only instinct was to attempt to climb out of this racing, descending, swirling, fractal picture.
I was drenched in sweat, to the point where my clothes were dripping, my heart was racing at a thousand beats per minute, and I could hardly speak as my friends placed me in a chair, asking me what I saw. I told them to give me a minute to regain my composure. Much of the room was knocked over, but I was surprised the whole room wasn’t completely destroyed because I felt like I must have been clawing away at reality, desperately trying to escape from my personal hell. The only way I can honestly describe how I felt falling was down and to the right, the 3 dimensional world fell apart and I could only perceive things in a 2 dimensional light.
Jesus Christ, my entire perception of reality was annihilated under the drug. The term ego death doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt, but there was nothing to be gained from where I was. It was pure insanity to the nth degree. I had gone in expecting some kind of spiritual experience or something meaningful that I could come away with, but there was none of that in salvialand; this was pure, unfiltered madness to a degree I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Alright, this is where I started having problems. Right when I came back from salvialand, my friends let me lie down and watch a movie with them, I was shaking so hard - I just wanted to lay down and relax. They encouraged me to smoke a bowl. I felt like I was mid-way through an acid trip, and the weed just made is stronger. As we watched the film, I felt like the people on screen were really strange looking and as we ate some food, I felt myself falling back into the salvia, not in the sense that I saw visuals, but my mind was falling back into that strange place and I could “see” in my minds eye, exactly what I hours earlier.
The next couple times I smoked weed were similar: intense flashbacks to salvia, to the point where it truly disturbed me. Then one day, another friend smoked me out with some hash he smokes daily. Suddenly, I had acid-like thoughts and I had to backtrack just to realize I was in the room with him. Time to go, I thought, and went back to my car, but it was too strong to drive, I could barely talk thanks to the cotton-mouth. I tried calling a friend, but could barely communicate. Since then, I’ve been getting stronger and stronger reactions to weed. When I first started smoking after salvia (first couple weeks), I would feel the salvia-sensation: extreme pins and needles and I would feel like I’m being pulled downward. I could play with my depth perception, but sometimes if I stared at something too long, I got the sensation that there was no depth perception, that I was looking at a 2 dimensional image that covered my entire field of vision and then I could see little parts of that image moving and falling apart (like a much less intense version of what went down in salvialand). People’s faces also seem to be hovering over their face. When I’m stoned around my friend who was my salvia trip-sitter, if I look him directly in the face, the rest of the room (or my perception of everything in my peripheral) creates this kind of tunnel effect that leads straight to his face – another thing I think I remember feeling under Salvia, but I’m not quite sure I remember it. Pictures start to dance just like a low-level acid trip… calling it strange is a more then a colossal understatement, weed has been taking me to a weird twisted version of the normal world, something it never did before. When I’m sober, floaters and white specs really dominate my vision; it gets kind of distracting when I look up at the sky.
The reason I’m putting this out there is because the day before yesterday was the worst, I felt anxiety and fear unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I started to question my own reality; the way objects look on weed began to look extremely disturbing, people started look disturbingly alien (as if it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on a human before), I felt as if I was realizing something humans aren’t supposed to realize. I was beginning to see things working behind the scenes, and it was frightening as hell. It’s kind of like that splinter in your mind that reality isn’t what you’ve always thought it to be, and now that you know the truth, it will haunt you forever. I have trouble even relating to my memories, my past, my identity, who I thought I was and who I wanted to be. For the first time in my life, I feel afraid. Of what, I have no idea. But it’s this feeling, its deep within me. I think I might have to stop all drugs for good if I ever want to feel normal again. Its depersonalization and derealization to degree that really frightens me, I’ve never felt so alien, I never knew anyone could feel so alien and alone. I never felt much emotion throughout my life, never was afraid of much, never cried over anything, never was very emotionally attached to anybody or anything. But now I’m scared of something I can’t even put into words, and I’ve broken down a couple times trying to explain it to people. Difficult experience is right.
My biggest fear now is that when I’m not feeling this intense and overwhelming panic, I can’t even relate to it in the slightest bit, and all that’s on my mind is, “I feel fine, hey, I’m ready to do some more drugs”.
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