Citation: Experimenter. "Death Is to the Left: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (leaf & 5x extract) (exp14439)". Erowid.org. Mar 29, 2005. erowid.org/exp/14439
I decided to experiment with Salvia over the course of a long weekend spent alone with no pressing concerns of any kind. After reading many accounts of Salvia ingestion, I decided to start with the dried leaf and work “up” from there to discover any personal sensitivities in the spirit of “the prudent mariner”. I fashioned a bowl from a tobacco pipe and foil making a shallow depression to hold the leaf. I had read in Ott (Pharmacotheon) that six large “hits” in rapid succession are considered threshold for any significant effect – so I began with three. Setting was evening, dark, no music, and a comfortable couch. The first perception was one of pressure directed downward and backward – neither pleasant or unpleasant. Any movement seemed to result in the perception of every hair follicle involved. I was suddenly captured by a deep, thoughtless contemplation in which the content of the realization can only be described as “ANCIENT”. I remember softly whispering that word as the realization came to full awareness. It was not a question of what is ancient, rather more a realization that All is ancient in an evolutionary proto-particle sense in which nothing has really changed. Appearances change but that which underlies them never does, although somehow this knowledge coexists with the knowledge of evolution over vast time. “Awesome” is a poor descriptive.
Any attempts at further contemplation/meditation resulted in familiar relaxed and present mind. There were no visuals. The “peak” was short-lived and there were no apparent after-effects other than residual awe in the massiveness of what I had just “understood”. This “understanding” is related much more directly to knowledge of Being and existence as opposed to understanding a concept about something (forgive the interpretation here). I say this so that these words may have less chance of fostering a fixed concept in the reader.
The next evening I decided to proceed with a 5X extract of leaves. I used a very small amount of leaf as a bed for the powdered extract. I took two large hits figuring that this should be roughly equivalent to ten bowls of the leaf (ten bowls would be rather hard on the breathing apparatus and difficult to do quickly). Set/setting were the same as the night before. The onset of the experience was much the same. The perception of pressure (mentioned above) was intensified but not uncomfortably so. There was a sense of physical inebriation manifesting as a loss of balance and coordination but, again, not uncomfortable or aggravating. Mind remained clear and uncluttered. Again I was captured by a deep, thoughtless contemplation as my head and visual field were drawn to the left. In this position and mind I realized (much as before) that physical death is indeed on the left. I never understood this insistence of Castenada and other Shamanic lore. This was more “a matter of fact” than any explosive realization - possibly having to do with the “dance to one’s death” in the last moments of physical existence.
In any event, I think I can shed more light on this. I have read some accounts of visions in which the subject is unable to turn and face a particular direction in which various manifestations are taking place in awareness (regardless of which way she/he attempts to turn, the same content presents itself). In other words, direction in the spiritual realms has an entirely different meaning than that in the physical. Something like the direction one faces is determined by predilections associated with one’s most deeply held beliefs about oneself and the world. Swedenborg (16th century author) goes into great detail about this characteristic of existence in the spiritual realms. So this “death is on the left” has something to do with a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. I highly recommend a read of some of Swedenborg’s works for a better understanding of the nature and implications of this. We may have much more freedom of direction in the spiritual realm while we are still “alive” in the physical, reflecting an ability to discard fixed beliefs/concepts – an ability that may be lost upon physical death of the body. Thus the reminder that death is always on the left.
Again, the “peak” was short-lived with no after-effects. I decided to follow this up with three bowls of the 5X extract (hopefully approximating 15 bowls of the leaf). For this I decided it best to retire to the bedroom (with king size bed) with soft music playing on the upstairs stereo. After taking the three hits, the (familiar by now) pressure returned. Again, I was captured by the same deep, thoughtless contemplation. The best way to describe what happened next is to say “the roof came off” (this is the wordless impression I had at the time). The perception of separative existence was overwhelmed by a deeper (more real) perception/knowledge of the continuous unity and connection of All (need I say including the author?). Awesome, fearsome, and beautiful at the same time. It arrived with a feeling of immense responsibility. It was obvious that what appears to be the case is only an appearance and that the Real (if there is such a “thing”) extends far beyond any appearance. And yet appearance of separation and unity in Being seemed to exist side by side (albeit at different levels). Words are, indeed, useless (in this description) since they are born of the concept of “things” (with assumed independent existence). Ineffable as a self-negating concept certainly applies. Suffice it to say that I have since thanked Salvia more than a few times for these “experiences” as wordless reminders of what This is really all about. In a sense this is thanking myself – not the me that has a name and leads a limited life on a spec of a planet called Earth – but the Me that is Nameless, truly One without a second.
I wish for the Reader a Peace that has no bound.
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