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Confessions of a Salvia Sorcerer
by Brother Harmonious
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Spoon, 7/30/2010

Confessions of a Salvia Sorcerer offers a new twist on the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”: it literally has no covers. It begins with a seven-page Prologue that lays out the context for the subsequent series of journal-style experience reports organized under “Ten Years of Mind Travel”.

If one looks past the curious lack of book-like features (in addition to no covers, it also lacks a publisher name, publication date, conclusion, colophon, etc.), some irrelevant name-dropping, and the history and editorializing in the Prologue, Confessions reveals itself as an articulately written collection of experience reports with a smattering of illustrations scanned out of the author’s notebooks.

This PDF is advertised on eBay, as “purportedly the diary of a Gnostic monk who goes by the name of Brother Harmonius, who embarked on a path of sorcery using a little-known Mexican hallucinogenic mint called salvia divinorum. The diary includes secrets on how to use the salvia divinorum plant to perform such magic as how to kill at a distance, how to get into another person’s thoughts, and how to communicate and negotiate with spirit entities from other worlds. While there is a growing body of literature on the history and botany of salvia divinorum, we have seen nothing at all like this unique manuscript. This diary takes sorcery and psychic power to a new, unprecedented level. The manuscript is 45 pages, with numerous hand-drawn illustrations, made by Brother Harmonius, himself.”

OK, so there’s a little bit of exaggeration here—if one seeks out Confessions for its lessons on “killing at a distance” or its “”numerous illustrations”, one will be sorely disappointed. However, in a style similar to Zoe Seven’s descriptions of uncompromising solo explorations and far-out mind spaces, Harmonious unfurls a compelling corpus of 3-star and 4-star trip reports, replete with vivid metaphors, descriptions of entities, and insights into his inner journeys. The experience report section is clearly where this writer’s talent lies; history is not really his strong suit. And the drawings—though too few—are a fitting complement to the text.

If you are a geek for reading about psychedelic experiences and unusual juxtapositions (Comparing salvia space with the effects achieved from huffing aerosolized cooking oil… PAM, anyone? Or, tripping in a chicken coop?), and especially if you loved Zoe Seven’s books, give this one a whirl. If you hate trip reports, or if you are attached to having an “eBook” that at least pretends to be formatted like a book, consider pocketing your five bucks and looking elsewhere.

Excerpts from Confessions of a Salvia Sorcerer:

I very briefly engaged in an email conversation with Owsley on the aesthetics and functionality of a web site I tried to start in 1998. One of his suggestions was to get rid of the ugly bear on my home page. I was a little hurt, since I drew the bear from my memory of living among the black bears of Massachusetts.” (p. v)

And what happened to me just now? My entire being was pulled and kneaded like saltwater taffy. My insides were massaged like pizza dough to my exterior, while my skin was folded back into my vertebrae. I had become a living lava lamp, a viscous glob of protoplasm. My head is rolling backwards, like the tentacles of an octopus curling inward. Yes, octopus, tentacles, this sensation is like my body is turning into writhing octopus tentacles. Even my head, my neck had become a tentacle.

I must let go; I must allow myself to go deep. I could never have imagined this sensation! Is this some kind of lycanthropy? Can I use salvia to shape-shift? I want to go as deep as possible. I will let it do this thing to me, so that I will know. If I must turn into an octopus to learn its secret, then so be it.” (p. 1-2)

I have never encountered war in the salvia world. I have never encountered violence. My paranoia is something I brought ‘through the door’ with me; my fears do not belong in salvia space. As I write this thought I also realize it is a lesson in finding peace. We bring our fears with us, wherever we go. When we don’t bring our fears with us, then the world we enter is naturally peaceful.” (p. 12)

“…my will was insufficient to orient myself in the tumultuous undercurrent. It was like being whipped around in the surf, pummeled into the sand, legs and arms flailing uselessly. However, with time I have grown accustomed to the peculiarities of entry and ride, so that now I can at least form a fair degree of concentration and focus. Imagine the difference between being that body surfer tossed in the waves, to mastering staying upright on a surfboard, and riding the crest of the wave.” (unnumbered book page / PDF p. 37)

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