Citation: Temicxoch. "The Leaves of the Virgin: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp2165)". Erowid.org. Jun 26, 2000. erowid.org/exp/2165
Let not the printed word enslave you.
Think for yourself
before you act on the thoughts of others.
[The author hereby finds the doctrines of intellectual property to be so patently absurd that laughter peals from every orifice of his body.
Please, copy rightfully. All Fool's Day, 1995.]
In the autumn of 1962, in the rural hills of Oaxaca, Mexico, Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of the entheogenic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide, and R. Gordon Wasson, the father of ethnomycology, travelled by mule in search of one of the flowery dreams of this subtropical landscape. The object of their expedition was a specimen of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae/Labiatae) used by Mazatec curanderas to summon healing visions. From the plants collected by Hofmann and Wasson, Linnaean taxonomists deemed this species theretofore unidentified and christened this plant-teacher /Salvia divinorum/, the Sage of the Diviners. To the Mazatec, it was known as Ska Maria Pastora, the Leaves of the Virgin Shepherdess.
Thirty-two years later, during October of 1994, five clones of the plants gathered by these two great explorers came into my possession. By providing these specimens with high humidity, indirect light, and adequate nitrogen fertilizers, I soon had a robust collection of these plants to provide me with an ample supply of leaves with which to explore its teachings.
As an entheogenic connoisseur, I had long been intrigued by what I had read concerning Ska Maria Pastora. From my first knowledge of the plant (gained when I was fifteen years old from a little book by Richard Evans Schultes), I found myself desiring its teachings. For a decade and a half thereafter, I casually sought more information about the species. The works of Leander J. Valdes III have been invaluable in my education. Valdes has done a remarkable job of pursuing the chemical, pharmacological, and cultural facets of this plant-teacher. Without the guidance provided in his writings, I would probably have never encountered this remarkable entheogen.
About the same time I acquired my specimens of the plant, Daniel J. Siebert published some remarkable findings in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology concerning the psychoactivity of Ska Maria Pastora's entheogenic molecule, salvinorin A. When smoked, this compound is active in doses of 200 to 500 micrograms, making it the most potent naturally occurring phantasticant known, comparable to lysergic acid diethylamide in strength.
If vaporized and inhaled, full effects are felt in thirty seconds without a transition period into the experience. The most intense effects last five to ten minutes and then gradually lessen over the next twenty to thirty minutes. The experience can include a sense of metamorphosing into inanimate objects, seeing two dimensional geometric patterns, remembrance of things past, loss of physical and mental identity, sensations of extraordinary motion, uncontrollable laughter, and simultaneous existence in different times and places. With dosages above one milligram, out of the body experiences occurred frequently. Siebert's subjects who were experienced users of entheogens all agreed that the forces of Ska Maria Pastora were fundamentally without parallel.
I began my explorations of this plant's powers before I had become acquainted with Siebert's research. I first experienced this entheogen by administering it in one of the traditional Mazatec ways: I chewed on a quid of fifteen leaves. Lying in the darkness, I felt light-headed, cool in my extremities, and giddy, all lasting less than an hour. The leaves were profoundly bitter, and some attendant nausea colored the encounter.
My next few meetings with the plant-teacher were through smoking some of the dried leaves. Smoking intensified the experience, and a strange other-worldliness hovered about my thoughts for close to twenty minutes. Time seemed disjointed, its passage perceptibly notable even in its most infinitesimal increments. All in all, my curiosity had been more than piqued; indeed, it had been goaded.
After reading some Usenet posts alluding to the chloroform extract of Ska Maria Pastora (and still before I was familiar with the research of Siebert), I decided to experiment with preparing a snuff from the plant. Taking thirty-three leaves, I chopped them finely and soaked them in 100 ml of acetone for four hours. Decanting off 80 ml of a brilliant emerald liquid, I evaporated the solvent mixture a tablespoon at a time on a Pyrex plate over a steam bath. I then scraped the residue from the plate using a razor blade and was left with two substantial lines to take as a snuff. Retiring to my chambers, I used a straw to inhale a line into each nostril and deep into my nasal mucosa.
Immediately, I suffered an extreme burning sensation in my nose and throat, and my eyes watered profusely. Within a minute, the discomfort had totally passed. For another minute, I rested quietly in my well-lit room. Then, I grew light-headed and broke into a clammy sweat. I felt both warm and cool. The colors about me intensified in their depth and brilliance. I was enveloped by the peculiar perception of micropsia, wherein I felt to be physically smaller than I actually am. The sensation of conflicting body temperatures became so extreme that I disrobed in one instant and wrapped myself in a quilt the next. Four minutes had passed.
And then, quite simply yet quite extraordinarily, my doors of perception were wrenched from their hinges.
I sat on the floor of my bedroom. I stood in my bathroom and looked at my distorted face in the mirror. I felt extremely cool in my limbs and climbed under the blankets on my bed. I found the light to my disliking and turned it off. Mundane occurrences all, except for the fact that I carried them out simultaneously. I perceived my existence as phase space. The envelope of the present was extended to where I glimpsed that what are normally seen as sequential actions occurred all at once in the here and now. Time was not a cycle or a wave or a line. Time, all of it, was a point, a singularity.
I had a sense of sleep-walking. The experience was somewhat similar to the hypnagogic state, that space between wakefulness and sleep when the surreal swarms the mind. An uncertainty of the reality of my situation pervaded my thoughts. I was uncertain if my recent actions had occurred or not, and I felt as if I might be compulsively repeating them. The effect was not unlike my sole experience with the Panther Amanita. With Ska Maria Pastora, as with that mushroom, I could not tell if what I was doing had happened, was happening, or was going to happen. My mental milieu mirrored the state of anterograde amnesia (a dissociative phenomena wherein there is a loss of memory of events as they are experienced, with the individual forgetting continuously from moment to moment what she has just been thinking, feeling, and doing).
Lying on my bed in the darkness, I closed my eyes and lost all sense of my physical self. I roared through a void. I was surrounded by a space of myriad expanse, yet there was nothing there. I was exploding in all directions at once, expanding, twisting outward, yet there was nothing through which to be moving. I flew, I floated, I flourished. The dark matter which filled me and which I encompassed sang with energy. Just as the abyss about me had a form, so its silence was an ecstatic polyphony. My senses rang with delight.
And while all of the preceding transpired, the long arm on my clock had swept but a third of its way around the wheel of an hour.
Over the next sixty minutes, I gradually returned to the homeostasis of waking consciousness. In addition to still feeling light-headed and retaining peculiar temperature sensations in my extremities, my pulse rate was a strong, steady 60 beats a minute, leading me to believe that salvinorin A is a potentiator of vasodilation, perhaps of the sympatholytic variety. Siebert's study found on the basis of one particular type of receptor site screening that salvinorin A is not a significant inhibitor of neurotransmitter binding sites. This conclusion is not particularly surprising considering the infinitesimal weight of a dose necessary to initiate the substance's powers. Coupled with this entheogen's short duration of action and its powerful effects on emotion, memory, and time, my informed intuition leads me to believe that the drug initiates some sort of cascade reaction in the hippocampal and amygdalar regions of the brain (particularly in snuff form, where a neural pathway exists between the olfactory bulb and the limbic system). From here, the cascade could very well proceed along fiber tracts running through the cerebral cortex of the frontal lobe.
Indeed, based on salvinorin A's molecular similarities to forskolin (a vasodilator originally extracted from a coleus plant, also in the Mint Family, and which acts on the release of adenylate cyclase) and on my experience's similarity to my encounter with the Panther Amanita, I would say that Ska Maria Pastora could easily tap into those channels of the mind where adenylate cyclase acts to potentiate the release of acetylcholine. Of course, this is all wild conjecture. However, no matter what the neurophysiology involved, all thought is flesh.
I look forward to preparing a smokeable extract of this plant-teacher. This entheogen has opened new vistas for me that I had not yet encountered in my fifteen years of psychonautic voyaging. I have found this to be a plant with which not to trifle. I do not foresee this as becoming a 'recreational drug,' or, to use Jonathan Ott's much preferable term, a ludibund drug. Its effects are too drastic for it to lend itself to casual social situations. However, I do look for it to become a tool for the entheogenic exploration of consciousness among those who feel that such endeavours are worthwhile. Until the political repression of psychognizance through entheogen use is overcome, we must continue to practice our alchemies and seek out new plant-teachers. And by spreading word of what we have learned, we will hopefully raise the consciousness of those who stand against us.
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