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The Infinite Ambivalence of the Overmind
Salvia divinorum (5x extract)
Citation:   Duchamp. "The Infinite Ambivalence of the Overmind: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (5x extract) (exp383)". Erowid.org. Jun 13, 2000. erowid.org/exp/383

100 mg smoked Salvia divinorum (extract - 5x)
Setting: My darkened NYC apartment on a cold winter night. No music. Wife (an experienced voyager) present as sitter, along with sleeping dog.

Set: I had not consumed any other psychoactive substances since a heroic dose of home-cultivated psylocibe cubensis three weeks prior. I was feeling rather listless, and I was very excited to try this plant, despite several friends' failure to have a breakthrough experience with Salvia over a period of several weeks.

Dosage: 100mg (accurately weighed), smoked in a water pipe.

Experience: Loaded the bowl with 50 mg, and placed the other half of the dose in a folded rolling paper beside the pipe. With sweaty palms I fired the bowl until the leaves glowed cherry red, filled the chamber and took in all the smoke (which was quite pleasant, actually). While holding in the smoke I reloaded the bowl, then exhaled and repeated the process. I recall glancing up at my curious-looking wife, then opening my mouth to exhale and tell her about the curious taste and the beginnings of a prickly, heavyweight body load, then...

Liftoff. There was virtually no transition: the room broke up rapidly into hard-edged, earth-toned (green and yellow) patterns, and my conscious ego was instantly erased. I had no idea whether my eyes were open or closed, and I had absolutely no recollection that I had, just seconds before, smoked something. In fact, there was no sense of self whatsoever; rather, I felt as if my body had atomized (this was, I think, due to the initial prickly body load, as if my molecules were merging into those of the sofa) and I was part of the swirling mass of universal matter. Plainly put, I felt like I had died, and it was the most exquisite terror I have ever experienced. I was strongly aware of an Other, an ambivalent observer who was, I felt, chastising me for what I later realized was disingenuous motivation: the desire for a thrill. The Other was a kind of cosmic trickster, who seemed to be saying: 'You want to know what this is? I'll show you, and I don't think you're ready..!
.' I cannot think of any analagous experience, drug-induced or otherwise. The feeling was almost unbearably intense, and I felt utterly alone, merged with a kind of universal energy stream beyond our earthly dimension, a kind of agnostic reincarnation detached from any religious significance.

This phase lasted about 90 seconds, according to my wife (my head was lolling on the sofa, eyes were open but unfocused). Over the next 2 minutes or so, my ego began its self-defensive reconstruction, and I was gripped by an incredible existential horror: I began to remember that I had once been someone, a being with physical form from a wonderful place, and I desperately wanted to get back to that place. The room began to reappear, but in pieces; at this point I stood up and began to stumble around the living room, trying to find my way back. It was all a big joke, this reality thing - I knew that it was all illusion, a shabby movie set of our collective devising. I saw my wife but didn't recognize her...I just wanted to be back.

When I returned I was standing in the bathroom doorway, grabbing the doorframe and sweating profusely. I stripped off all my clothes and paced about the room. My wife was fairly horrified, and I began giggling and saying 'Oh my god oh my god oh my god...' like a madman. At T +15 minutes I was more or less 'normalized', but still perspiring heavily. Vision slightly blurred until T +40, at which point I was able to recount the whole experience to my wife. Slept incredibly well that night, with unusually vivid, pastoral dreams.

Observations: Salvia is an almost unbearably powerful teacher plant. I can say without exaggeration that it seriously altered my worldview, and I am now, two months later, still pondering the signifance of my encounter. I am not a recreational drug user, but I think that my cavalier attitude towards the salvia experience resulted in a trip that was perhaps more intense than it might have been had I approached things with a more respectful attitude. Also, I'd been reading a lot of pop science (James Gleick's 'Chaos' and Brian Greene's 'The Elegant Universe'), which I think tinged the experience with a distinct materialist/agnostic feeling, although I certainly can't explain the presence of the Other/Overmind. It was neither good nor evil, but rather profoundly ambivalent. I have since begun a reassessment of my thoughts regarding religious experience and the afterlife.

Recommendations: A respectful attitude is essential, as is a sitter: I could have very easily stumbled out of my apartment and into the street while trying to 'find my way back'. Prior psychedelic/entheogenic experience strongly advised.

Exp Year: 2000ExpID: 383
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given
Published: Jun 13, 2000Views: 21,525
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Salvia divinorum (44) : Small Group (2-9) (17), Mystical Experiences (9), First Times (2)

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