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Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum
by D.M. Turner
Salvinorin A Journeys

    My own experiments with salvinorin A began in December 1994, following a highly coincidental meeting with Daniel Siebert. I first learned of salvinorin A when a copy of The Entheogen Review arrived in the mail containing Siebert's article. The following day I went to Los Angeles on business matters and to visit friends, and quite out of the blue was introduced to Siebert by someone I'd just met that day. The occasion of this unlikely meeting gave me assurance that I was meant to work with this powerful entheogen, despite Siebert's numerous reports of those who found the journey harrowingly unpleasant.

    My journeys with salvinorin A (hereafter called salvinorin) are more varied than those of any other psychedelic I've used, and include both my best and worst psychedelic journeys. My understanding and the content of these journeys has evolved with repeated use. Certain ideas and perceptions have become clearer as I've become familiar with the territory, although the entire experience still remains largely incomprehensible, and there exists a feeling of having just stepped over the threshold into an immensely vast dimension. A description of the general framework of most of my salvinorin journeys is given below. followed by excerpts of notes from my journeys. Also presented are reports from other experimenter's journeys, which will assist in offering a more comprehensive view of the realms available through Salvia divinorum.

    My experiences with salvinorin can be divided into three phases or periods, the onset, trance, and return. These periods closely match the unfolding of a smoked DMT experience. Initial effects are felt within 10-20 seconds, with the peak being reached in another 30 seconds or so. I usually stay at this peak, in trance, for 3 to 10 minutes, after which there is a 10 to 20 minute decline to baseline. When used with another psychedelic the duration of a salvinorin experience can be increased several fold. Salvinorin comes on with an irresistibly powerful, spiraling force which is much stronger than that felt on any other psychedelic. During the onset I quickly fall into a trance, while my body feels permeated by "needle-like" anesthetic sensations. Both of these sensations are quite similar to what I feel during the onset of smoked N.N. DMT. Within seconds of this first phase, the salvinorin separates my awareness from my body, similarly to what occurs with 5-MeO- DMT or Ketamine. Salvinorin is quite distinct from Ketamine. however, in that like DMT, salvinorin exudes a strongly life-positive energy, where Ketamine does not necessarily have this predilection.

    Following this, I go on an internal journey while my body is lying down in trance. My experience. or recollection, of this second phase varies greatly. Sometimes I perceive the most cosmic, wondrous, and detailed of universes. while at other times I recallabsolutely nothing- In these moments of recalling nothing, I've often felt as though I only smoked the salvinorin a few moments ago and have retained consciousness the entire time. I then look at a clock and realize five or ten minutes have passed that I can not account for. I've developed a theory for this vast difference in the experiences which I'll discuss later. The amount of time I spend in the trance, and how high I am upon returning to bodily awareness, varies with each journey. It seems that I am normally pulled out of the trance by some type of sound. At home this may be a car passing by, while out in nature it seems that a bird will chirp or a bug will fly around my head. In most instances, the sound which pulls me out of the trance seems like a distraction which is interfering with the experience. It is not surprising that the Mazatecs recommend that it be done in quiet. There is a tendency for awareness to lock onto individual perceptions during the return phase, and for these perceptions to appear to fill the entire universe. This has been particularly noted by Siebert and myself when music was being played during the trip. The portion of the journey immediately following the trance is often the most intense and leaves the strongest impressions.

    While coming out of the trance the bodily anesthetic sensations often persist, and are stronger when I come out of the trance prematurely. These feelings can be compared to the "needles and pins" sensation of trying to move an arm or leg which has fallen asleep. Following one journey I wrote "I must have willed myself to move, and felt the anesthesia sensations gripping me firmly, with an almost cutting sensation. It was not exactly painful. It felt as though I was tightly gripped by millions of sharp fingernails applying minimal pressure, but if I moved I would be cut to shreds." This can also be experienced as a "tearing" sensation over the entire surface of the body. Siebert has described intensified feelings of this type as "various sensations of motion, or being pulled or twisted by forces of some kind." On occasion these sensations have been very pleasant, closer to Pendell's "like soft cat paws pressing, or like a bunch of bird tongues lapping the mind. Or like tiny fingers, the way ivy fingers reach out to climb a wall..."

    The most constant internal experience in my salvinorin journeys is a drastic shift in my sense of identity and conscious perception. At the onset of the experience my identity is completely dislodged from my body and familiar self. Following this I experience myself as existing, but not as a body, human, or personality. I usually find myself in some alternate dimension, which can either closely resemble earth, or be entirely alien. Quite often the worlds visited under the influence of salvinorin do not obey the laws of physics which we are typically accustomed to. The action of the forces of gravity and momentum, the dimension of time, and the geometric construction of these worlds, can be rather bizarre.

    There is also an apparent reduction in boundaries, and the sensation that my "being" can literally enter and inhabit various objects, including inanimate ones. There have been numerous reports from people who have had quite vivid and convincing experiences of becoming objects such as a dresser drawer. As I begin traversing these unusual dimensions I feel driven by forces which I don't fully understand, but which I believe to be influenced by my set and setting. At the point I come out of tile trance, external reality begins making an imprint on my experience and accelerates the return to normal awareness. Some of my more interesting journeys are described below.