Citation: i. "Deceptively Subtle: An Experience with Calamus (exp107019)". Erowid.org. Sep 17, 2019. erowid.org/exp/107019
I've hunted all summer, in any swamp or river within reach for some Calamus; with absolutely not a single sighting! I kept being fooled by pale young cattails or pre-flowering irises (be careful!). But I finally ended up running into Calamus at a local botanical garden, where a very friendly attendant was happy to slice me off a couple feet worth of fresh root from his giant patch!
So for the last week I've been getting to know this new plant-ally, and here's my findings so far (fresh-root chewing/saliva swallow method):
-The aroma/flavor: The biggest frustration in hunting this plant was the overly vague or contradicting descriptions of what its crushed leaf is supposed to smell like. Now I know. If it smells at all like grass, even strong grass, its not Calamus. The smell IMO is very citrus-like, leaning heavily towards the aroma-profile of Rhubarb's flavor - With no notes of grassyness that I can detect. As for the taste of the fresh root, it's unmistakably shocking at first-contact; something like rhubarb's very 'planty' brand of sourness but skewed harshly towards bitter. As I get used to a chewing session there's a sort of cold-heat that coats my tongue and down my throat, very similar to the feeling of anise. This sort of minty effect even lingers softly the next day, if I don't brush my teeth or anything. More subtleties of the flavor come out over a long chewing session. Overall a very interesting rainbow of unfamiliar plant signatures; I like it!
- Subtlety: One has to really 'listen' to calamus to feel its effects. I was already well-warned about this thanks to the great reports by others, and I only found it to be true. So far I haven't felt any 'hard' effect that made me think 'Wow this stuff is kicking in!' The keyword here is 'background effect'.
The keyword here is 'background effect'.
It's more noticed in those little moments of pause in daily life, like after finishing lunch and having a few quiet minutes of staring into space only to realize 'Wow my mind is a still pool of water right now...' A very noticeably reduced rate of 'unnecessary brain chatter', definitely.
- Focus : Now here's one of the big things I was after with this plant. When people said 'focus' I was hoping for some kind of 'sharpening' of my senses, keener awareness or mental process: Noticed none so far! What HAS happened is an increase in CLARITY in daily activity, that is to say the above mentioned 'still pool of water' effect in ones mind definitely leads to a kind of silent-focus. A focus that comes from stillness rather than sharpness. A very interesting, subtle lesson there!
- Energizing/Relaxing : More than focus, this is the dual-effect I was REALLY chasing here. I drag myself through days with a lingering drowsiness lately, and wanted something to perk me up! Again I've found the effect to be different than expected. I have felt no 'rush', no 'buzz', no 'high' yet with Calamus. The relaxant effect on the other hand has been clear and pretty amazing. From the way I walk, to how much my head bobbles on a bumpy car ride, to various nuances of social behavior and even sleep, relaxation has been definite. So I was ready to declare the 'stimulating' part false, until I ran into my dad in the middle of effects one day and found myself noticably 'speedy' once I started talking with him. He even pointed it out 'Jeez you're awfully peppy today', which was strange because I internally felt no peppier than usual ... But I was on some kind of caffeine-rush with absolutely no sensation of it! So for now, my conclusion is - Stimulating, but I won't feel it because of the 'chill' it brings with it. Yet another subtlety I'm quite appreciating. I also found myself taking care of a lot of little lingering chores in life, and noticed I'm much quicker to jump-up and take care of them as soon as I notice one.
- Hallucinogenic? : The verdict is still out for me, as I've been quite conservative on my dosing (trying to stretch the stash). However, when combined with my usual marijuana sessions, I have noticed unexpected hints in 2 instances. 1: Going to sleep one night, had a really clear audio-hallucination of a little girl impishly giggling just behind my head for a few seconds! 2: Just today, some very interesting micro-visuals, for a split second each time I closed my eyes. Nothing pattern-like, more like some glowing thin red lines around the edges of my vision, which also traced a sort of geometric shape. Hard to describe without illustrating, but it was something clearly new.
- Sleep-aid : I've slept much better on nights with a chew near bedtime. This is definitely due to its anti-brain-chatter effect.
- All in the flavor? : I've been toying with the idea that much of its sort of 'snap into the moment' effect may be a symptom of simply tasting 'strong bitterness'. When you think about it, bitterness is something we don't often sample, especially in strong doses. So the sensory impact alone will sort of send a shiver through me, shake my brain to alertness... Sort of like smelling-salts for the tongue... This simple mechanism I'm sure is at least partly responsible for its grounding effect I've noticed. (I mean the tongue-jolt immediately grounded a fresh Marijuana buzz in one case
the tongue-jolt immediately grounded a fresh Marijuana buzz in one case
- Conclusion : A very interesting plant that's a joy to discover. Very nuanced and subtle. Definitely approach it as a relationship; be in it for the long-haul and get to know its spirit! Most importantly, LISTEN! Give it some moments of stillness to speak to you. This plant is a meditator/nature appreciator's friend - At least it has been to this guy. It's failed to meet the many expectations I had for it, yet met them anyway in unexpected ways. After just a few days, I'm already worried about 'When I run out of it'!
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