Citation: Giggidyman. "Coming to Terms with the Impossible: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (10x extract) (exp53605)". Erowid.org. Oct 28, 2006. erowid.org/exp/53605
Attempting to explain the effects of Salvia is hard. I find with mushrooms that I retain the ability to process and analyze my experiences in the lulls between trip episodes, Salvia offers no such break. It is fast—very fast—and indescribably powerful, even overwhelming. That said, I will try to recall the bits and pieces of the process.
Salvia causes intense time dilation: the entire journey, which supposedly only last three minutes on the physical level, felt like eternity was passing by during the trip. In fact, I could say that time was one of the first sensations to vanish altogether. It is therefore hard to give an adequate time scale of the experience. The visuals are also quite unlike anything ever perceived, though I have felt, to a much lesser degree, early signs of these visuals while on magic mushrooms, when incredibly stoned, or when in deep meditation. Still, it is like trying to describe the entirety of an iceberg by what I see above the surface. Visuals and time become so strongly correlated with the emotional state to the point that all are so deeply intertwined that categorizing each seems to cheapen the experience, akin to drawing a three-dimensional cube on a piece of paper instead of actually having one before me.
Words are inadequate but sadly the only means of communication we can use on this level (that being the current physical/spiritual spectrum in which we reside). The best way I can describe something is through the means of analogy—many things are described as “like this” or “feeling like”—but please be aware that these are merely attempts to explain the inexplicable. If I say that I saw a shiny metallic ball with faces painted all over, I mean a few things:
1. The actual visual manifestation most closely resembled that, but the image conjured by those words is far from sufficient of the actual vision,
2. Each word is being specifically chosen to represent unique properties of vision that could all equally be expounded upon—i.e. “shiny” including radiant light coming from within and being reflected from without, “metallic” representing the physical sensation of being near the object (hot/cold, smooth/rough, etc.), the general texture of the object, the properties with which it moves, etc., “all over” meaning not just from your current perspective (as how our three-dimensional word has “backside culling,” or our inability to see behind a physical object) but literally in all senses (that the faces permeated every aspect of the object while retaining their own unique position),
3. The words are also to be read from the standpoint of the emotional state evoked by the meaning of each word, both independently and in context with everything else around it. In fact, that’s the closest way that I can describe how input is filtered through Salvia. You’ll see what I mean.
I began by sitting on the couch at my friend’s condo. Acting as a trip sitter, he prepared the bowl of Salvia 10x with the instructions to pull deep and fast, hold it in, and then relax, trusting him that it will only last three to five minutes and that everything will be fine. My brief research beforehand revealed that it is an incredibly powerful psychoactive, chemically unlike the other psychoactives on the market, and causing sensations largely regarded as overwhelming and unpleasant by users. The fact that most people only tried it once was a bit alarming and did not help ease my apprehension beforehand, which probably contributed to the difficulties I encountered during the ramp-up period. Nonetheless, I settled in to give it a try.
The lights were turned low, the television was off, and low-key guitar music played in the background. If I were prepping for a mushroom trip, I would say that it was an ideal setting, with the exception of the video camera bent on filming the process. Josh held the torch lighter, I held the bubbler, and I drew in deeply as he torched the Salvia. The inhale was quite harsh, far more in-my-face than my average toke of weed. I knew that there was a strong chemical in my body almost immediately. It took all the concentration in the world to count to myself and hold it in.
I could feel a burning sensation course through my lungs, connecting the network of lung sacs to the bloodstream. My vision swam. I had to focus with all my strength to finish off the bowl, hold it in, and release. The fire coursed into my blood. I could feel this insane tingling sensation as it was pushed around my body, literally experiencing where the chemical was in my bloodstream as the heart pumped the blood, each body part receiving its dosage. I felt it course through the veins up to the heart, get sucked in through the heart’s massive siphon, and then…
Explosion. My heart sent the chemical into the rest of my body with one fierce thrust. I felt myself falling quickly, heat and cold rushing around me, gravity pulling and inertia resisting my movement, light and darkness spiraling around. I had the terrifying sensation of being pulled backwards through the couch. What appeared to be a light of pure white cropped up in my vision: infinitesimally small, at least at first, directly in the center of my sight. Ripples radiated outward in a perfect spiral around this point and my normal vision swam over these ripples, almost like staring down a long tunnel of water toward light upon which the sights my eyes would normally see were painted on the sides. I was being pulled faster and faster down this tunnel, the spirals increasing in speed and intensity, rippling up my normal sight until it was unrecognizable.
The colors began to take on great variations and depth. What was once a little blue light on the CD player now became a dense cloud of particles reflecting this color blue. All the colors were independent clouds of energy yet they all emanated from the same source of white, like seeing a rainbow across a cloud of water mist, only it was something far more tangible than a rainbow at the same time. It was akin to little nebulas of energy across the great spray of energy, like staring into the night sky and seeing individual stars but also the expanse of the Milky Way, millions and millions of stars, making up nothing more than a formless yet distinct cloud. Light was disassociated from the physical objects of the plane in which we live. A pen wasn’t a “pen,” it was just clouds and clouds of light and energy that, when focused at a particular wavelength, took on the form, shape, and mass of a pen. But it was really nothing more than energy.
Other sensations also took on this property. Sound wasn’t just an invisible sensation: it had its own waves of movement through these clouds of light. I could see little shiny balls suspended before me, each one containing its own unique piece of the electromagnetic spectrum: spinning at a very specific speed, rotating at a very specific angle, reflecting, absorbing, and emitting light at a very specific frequency (color). Yet these balls were connected by ripples between them, these little trails of translucent white smoke that undulated like infinite waves in a measureless ocean. Sound traveled on these waves, as did gravity and electromagnetic forces. Balls would move around each other in impossible complex yet perfectly symmetrical and identifiable patterns, and each pattern composed part of a greater pattern and was composed of infinitely smaller unique patterns.
I could focus on any of these patterns and travel down it, finding more and more unique patterns. It felt like I was falling into an infinitely deep abyss and yet rising up and out of the universe at the same time.
My body was nothing more than highly organized, insanely complicated patterns of in these clouds. My consciousness shattered. I was no longer one single sentient entity, one single voice of reason in a so-called “soul.” The light I was seeing from which everything else was streaming: that was the central hub, located so infinitely far away yet immediately tangible. From that hub I could feel fierce streams of energy coursing into other realms of existence, dictating what to do not through force, but through the natural rise and fall of the waves of energy colliding with the concentrated energy balls. This hub told other forms how to act, how to move, dimensions far higher than me moving and in turn telling the dimensions far below them how to move, until I reached a level I found familiar, the core of my earthly mind, which then sent out ripples along a network through my nerves, energy impulses rippling through organs, striking cells and changing them, rippling through the micro cellular structure, colliding with the individual organelles and their parts, rippling through the chemical bonds, striking individual atoms, scattering protons, neutrons, and electrons, rippling through their subatomic parts, like infinitely tiny strings all connected to a master puppeteer so infinitely far above us. My conscious was the vast sum of all this, yet my conscious was just a tiny organelle in something so much more massive.
Not being concentrated in one spot was terribly frightening. The eyes of my soul were opened and it was so beautiful that it scared the hell outta me. I could feel my physical body, so many dimensions below me and yet part of all that I am, moving with the same terror and wonder that I felt coursing from that source. A message was being relayed up from that lower organelle (my physical body) that it was panicking and was doing things physically stupid, that it was rebelling against this infinite beauty that my higher conscious was aware of, yet my conscious duly recorded this as being “what’s supposed to happen,” much like disregarding a stubbed toe. Life and death was no big deal. Hell, life and death was involved in a dimension far below the grand scheme of things. It was a concern only to those of who chose to limit themselves by living in that realm. I knew why.
The full scope of All That IS was far too much. I was so scared, feeling so naked in front of it all. I didn’t want anyone to see how scared I was. I didn’t want to feel so insignificant before it all. I was nothing at all in the scope of eternity. Nothing.
Then, I floated. Just for a while, infinity above and infinity below. I could keep going up, but there wasn’t any reason to leave. I could fall down, but for now I could just look around. I could just be. I was. I am. Just part of it all. One wave in a vast, measureless ocean in all directions. I was flying over fields and seas of these shiny metallic balls connected by energy, each one something very specific: here, an atom, there, a human, over there, a planet… yet all on the same level. They rippled with energy from every part of the spectrum, each giving to and taking from each other. I could see in the ripples an image of the physical world I had left, so far below me, yet silhouetted against the background of this space. My friend in the condo would speak, but it wasn’t as if a human bearing my friend’s name was speaking next to me. Instead, it was a ripple of sound emanating from another conscious so far away from me, yet distinctly close, and though we were two separate conscious beings on one level, we were just branches off a tree from that great source, and in that way we were the same.
I began to fall back into “reality”, the dimensions cascading around me. It was beautiful and peaceful. I could stop off and look closely at other entities from all around, things that were, are, and will be. When I heard words or recalled memories, I felt it course through the full network of all that is connected to that idea, like a massive web of energy lighting up to the full emotive connotations and connections. I tried to steer off and explore other areas for a time… other planets, perhaps, that I would see whizzing by, or to talk to other sentient forms that I perceived somewhere else, or to perhaps land on an island somewhere, or in the desert, or back or forward in time. I tried to focus on a place that I would really like to go—I saw my girlfriend in her university dormitory 8000 miles away and tried to go there—I was hoping that I could just enter another place, that when I finally “came down” I would materialize somewhere in the physical realm other than Josh’s apartment. But every time I tried to push against where I was going, a gentle wind, a natural energy, would guide me back to the right path. I had no choice but to settle back into the body, slowly regaining composure of the world around me, the visions undoing themselves, dimensions fading away, conscious vision and sensation slowly regaining.
I was starting to have active conscious control of my body again, intentionally moving hands, rhythmically breathing, coming back, and then I was there, but still with bits and piece of my mind and soul open to the realm beyond. It was like a dreamworld, there but not there, just barely outside that which we call “reality.”
Would I do it again? I hesitate to give a definitive answer, for life is long and filled with the unexpected. Right now, no. Was it worth it? Yes, though I question its necessity.
Ultimately, I cannot decide, nor do I feel that decision is necessary. If we dress it up with the language of science in terms of neurochemical reactions, it still fails to explain why the particular images I saw were conjured. Likewise, mystical or psychological language cannot directly address the physical reality of the act of introducing a foreign chemical to my body. The language is not important. The experience is real, powerful, and yes, even overwhelming.
Four hours have passed since I took my first breathe of smoke and my mind is still scrambling to make sense of it all. The video recording my friend made during the trip portrays me as proclaiming inane gibberish, reacting violently towards his dog, having full-body tremors, and ultimately entering a near-catatonic state. I actively remember none of this. It is not a “recreational drug”, I did not approach it as such, and even then I was unprepared. From experiences I have read of those who approached Salvia with a more cavalier attitude… well, I will let their disasters speak for themselves.
I wrote this as a memo to myself nine months ago. Reading these words for a second time with the benefit of hindsight, the trip seems even more vivid and meaningful experience. Not a week passes where I don’t ponder some aspect of the trip. My persistent ponderings regarding the aforementioned two possible explanations for Salvia led to my current enrollment in a PhD program in Cognitive Science.
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