Citation: SacralChakra2. "The Gold of Incremental Dosing: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp114060)". Erowid.org. Feb 17, 2020. erowid.org/exp/114060
In this retrospection I will give my observations on seven Salvia trips, which I experienced in the course of roughly three months. I choose to write a single report because the seven journeys had almost equal set, setting, substance source and administration. I structure the report following Erowid's template (Hanna J, Erowid Editors. "Communicating Experience". Erowid Extracts. Jun 2006;10:20 https://erowid.org/experiences/exp_info5.shtml
* Basic Details
I am a 36 year old male with deep interest in self-development (bodywork, breathwork, meditation) facilitated by plant medicines and psychedelics. I suffer from a complex developmental trauma (C-PTSD). I consider myself as mentally stable, with manageable anxiety and occasional insomnia. I do not take any medications. My previous experiences involve psilocybin, Ayahuasca, synthetic phenethylamines, LSD and MDMA.
* Previous Experience with Salvia
I had consumed Salvia once or twice before (orally, brew). The effects were very subtle, characterized by a meditative mindstate. I felt an an invitation to dive deeper into the Salvia space.
* Drug Identification and Administration
I bought the drug in a country where it is sold legally in coffee shops and online stores. To date I have not heard any concerns about the purity of the material obtained this way. On a milligram scale I prepared a dose of 15-10 mg of leaves from a 40x extract. This dose constituted a single "hit". It turned out to be a very convenient dosage unit, allowing me to gradually enter the Salvia experience by slowly taking successive hits.
I took a first hit, observing the effects, adapting and opening my mind, then I took a second one (after few minutes). After 2-6 hits I experienced a deeper lesson and I decided to stop smoking, enjoy the after-effects and integrate. I used a water mini-bong. I lit the herb using a torch lighter, inhaled the smoke and tried hard to hold it for 10-30 seconds.
* Preparation + Context
Before the ingestion I prepared a small ceremonial space with a yoga mat on the floor to lay down safely. Sometimes I started smoking Salvia immediately, sometimes I meditated or did breathwork before the ingestion. My intention was to ask Salvia to give me a wider perspective on my life, to introspect, get a deeper contact with my body and unconscious parts of myself. There was also a lot of curiosity for exploring this unknown, fantastic, bizarre, surreal, colorfully decorated, mystical and beautiful world of the Salvia space. I did the ceremonies always in the evening in my apartment.
I did the ceremonies always in the evening in my apartment.
Unlike with classical psychedelics, I did not experience amplification of my emotional setting upon intoxication. I experienced the sessions alone, without sitters. Salvia experience was quite sensitive to the music. I found the silence to be the most frightening. A gentle meditative music worked the best for a positive experience. The music did sound better, deeper, wider, than normally. Yet, there was no deeper emotional resonance with the songs, as with classical psychedelics or MDMA.
* Effects Progression
I saw that the smoked Salvia experience progresses in four stages.
1. Come-up (max 30 seconds)
The first thing I felt was the well-known Salvia gravity, a sensation of heaviness in my extremities. I understood it as an invitation to surrender. Keeping the eyes open felt somehow tiring and I readily closed my eyes and laid down. Forcing to sit keeping the eyes open brought feelings of anxiety.
2. Peak (about 2 minutes)
This was the Salvia dimension, a hallucinatory state, which I describe below.
3. Descent (half an hour)
When the hallucinatory effects wore off and my identity returned back to me, I still felt the sedating gravity in my body. The control over the body was restricted and voluntary movements (walking, loading the pipe) felt cumbersome. Walking lacked balance, it was better to stay down on the mat. Yet in this phase it was possible to consciously engage in an activity (like yoga).
When most cognitive and body effects returned back to normal, I sensed an increased appreciation for beauty of the surroundings (wall art, plants, decorations) and the beauty of my life. There was a mild euphoria, which did not feel forced and empathetically warm (like on MDMA), but felt naturally like returning home to my own life from a journey to the other world.
* Body-Related Effects
Body effects were calming, there was no disturbing nausea, migraine nor tinnitus. I felt lowering of temperature.
* Cognition-Related Effects
In a normal state, I feel identified with my thoughts, I am my thoughts. In the Salvia experience, the thoughts were almost like an independent stream of consciousness and something in me was observing them. The thoughts eventually disappeared in higher doses. With closed eyes, the mental space had a unique synesthetic content, blending visual and auditory hallucinations together with emotional inputs, and fragments from the memory into one landscape. This experience was not static, but I observed it as unfolding of a complex fractal or by progressively zooming out that inner landscape.
A unique thing of Salvia was a strong ego deconstruction by ego morphing. Initially, in the come-up, this was manifested by weakening the sense of self. In this state I could feel void, or I found it very easy to concentrate on a particular thing, like a sensation in my body or my breath. In a deeper level of the peak I started feeling ego morphing, becoming something or someone else. This effect is entirely different from traditional psychedelics, in my experience. There I experienced ego loss as a result of a painful purification and emotional catharsis. Unlike that, in the Salvia experience, the ego loss progressed linearly and effortlessly (of course, if there was no resistance to this in me). I found the ego deconstruction was very useful for my emotional growth, as I experienced seeing some of my deepest fears and belief systems in an emotionally detached way (see below).
* Emotional effects
The Salvia experience did not have the cathartic emotional intensity of classical psychedelics.
The Salvia experience did not have the cathartic emotional intensity of classical psychedelics.
In the come-ups, I found myself rather emotionally withdrawn from what I was experiencing. The peak experience did have an emotional undertone, which I found impossible to grasp cognitively and put into words. There was a sensation of familiarity in them, as if they were part of a memory, with a nostalgic air from the sunny days of the childhood. However, at the end of the peak, I usually found myself with an emotion which I was able to grasp straightforwardly. It was as if Salvia wanted to show me: "Look, this is your fear." or "This is your shame". The emotion was real and felt in the body, yet gentle, compared to experiencing it in real life situations. When the peak effects began to wear off, I felt the ego reconstructing back from the scattered fragments that it had become. In this phase I got cognitive insights, which came with a sense of surprise of being myself again.
In the descent phase I enjoyed meditation or body-work. I found that the slow pace of yin yoga was the most enjoyable. The weakened ego allowed me to better accommodate to the poses, without the need to do them perfectly, without the urge to stretch deeper and prove myself anything. The mind was more peaceful and apparently thought-free and the exercise became very enjoyable.
* Visual effects
I experienced the visual hallucinations only with closed eyes. The visuals were very beautiful, plant based, with a fractal depth. They escaped any attempts to understand them. Qualitatively the most similar ones I had on psilocybin.
* Sexual effects
My libido was not suppressed, except in the deep hallucination at the peak. I found that Salvia was quite useful when working with sexual energy. The orgasms were more intense, and it became possible to direct orgasmic energy through the body, circulate it, as in Tantra or Tao. I had it possible to overcome some sexual and energetic blocks.
* Retrospection on some impactful voyages
Perhaps the most intense insight came from the following peak state: I felt myself morphing into a sense of tightness. Literally, all that remained from my identity was a sensation of tightness. In successive steps I felt my identity reconstructing from the tightness. First, I realized I am a cushion in a tight container. Then my identity widened again: I got a broader view, seeing the cushion placed in a wooden cabinet with seven compartments (too tight for the cushion). Finally, I felt the sensation of tightness actually in my shoulders. This was a felt sense stored in my body. When further returning to myself, I saw how much energy does my work take from my life. I saw it taking too much from me. The seven compartments were seven days of the week. And each day was filled completely by my job, there was no space left.
When I came to myself fully, I felt identified with this vision, the insights and the interpretation. I decided to change the role of work in my life. The experience is still impactful after two months. Somewhat similarly I felt myself morphing into just a couple of numbers on my identity card in another Salvia journey. The interpretation that came to my mind when "recovering" myself was attachment to institutions and fear of loosing my false self via loosing these attachments.
* Personal Salvia myths and conclusions
I feel that the Salvia plant has its own spirit, akin to what I feel about Ayahuasca and psilocybin. The essence of the spirit is female, representing a powerful archetype of a queen. Her beauty is disempowering and paralyzing, although her core is loving and kind.
I used to enter the ceremony with a specific intention. Paradoxically, Salvia took the intention away from me. In particular, the part of my intention which says "I want, I need..." was deconstructed and taken away. I feel that the single most useful intention for the peaks of the journey is to surrender completely and open up for all that comes. Under lower doses and in the descent, a useful realistic intention is to experience some activity in an ego-free manner. For example, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, bodywork.
Surprisingly, I did not experience the terrifying mindfuck, that is often reported with this substance. My experiences were meaningful for my personal development, and I think that the key lies in the stepwise incremental dosing, as the Mexican shamans do.
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