Citation: Turning. "Many, Many Lives: An Experience with Salvia Divinorum (20x Extract) (exp63497)". Erowid.org. Mar 17, 2008. erowid.org/exp/63497
In the last year, I have developed a real interest in Buddhism, conducted a great deal of reading and began to meditate every day. For some reason, I stumbled across Salvia on line and read thru many accounts of its use. When I read about how it was supposed to be conducive to meditation and may lead to insight, I decided that it might be helpful to give it a try.
I had a fair amount of experience with psychedelics during college. However, since that time I have given up all recreational substance use, including drinking in this last year. In the past, I had always found hallucinogens very interesting and only had one minor bad experience with them. I’m a 39 year old senior professional in an industry that tests for drugs and was very, very clean.
At a head shop near our beach house, I bought some 20X extract, a glass bowl and butane torch cigar lighter since I had read that high heat would be needed. My wife would most definitely not have approved and neither would any of my friends. So, I decided that I would try it without the safety net of a sitter when my wife traveled on business. In all my past experience with hallucinogens, I had never really felt out of control, so I didn’t consider going it alone much of a risk. Plus, it was supposed to be a very short trip. I could manage it.
The night that I had the house to myself, I came home and began to get ready. I got in comfortable clothing and relaxed for a while. I packed a half bowl with the 20X extract, since I didn’t want to go overboard and went up to the bedroom. I put the bowl and lighter on the windowsill by the bed and I took a moment to get myself mentally ready and meditated for a bit.
When I felt comfortable, I sat on the edge of the bed, facing directly out the window so that I could exhale the smoke outside. I looked over at the digital clock that read 9:59, lit the butane torch and took a long hit on the pipe. I could feel the dense smoke rushing into my lungs. I held the hit for a count of 20 and then exhaled out the window.
I don’t remember putting down the pipe and lighter. I think that I lost all consciousness for a while.
In fact, all that I remember is a kaleidoscope explosion of thousands of pinwheel patterns. Like thru a kaleidoscope, if I looked at the individual pieces of the pattern, I could recognizes that they were the steeple of a church that I lived next to when I was 5 years old and hadn’t seen for over 33 years.
I became aware of the fact that I could travel into the edges of these steeples and it would lead to a whole new reality and an entirely different life. As I peered into these edges, it was like a video would play snippets of the scenes in a life – knees, hips, a room, faces. There were thousands of millions of lives. At the end of some scenes, a deep authoritative voice would say, “Wrather, wrather, wrather”. I did not understand the word at first (or the idea of language), but then realized that it was saying “would you rather”.
Somehow, I knew that I could go into any of these realities and it would become my own and would begin to make sense as a full world to me. I understood that if I chose any of these, it would become my new life – memories would return to me from that life and I would simply “come down” there and pick up living that life.
In fact, I did not know where to find my old reality. It was somewhere lost in the countless lives flashing in front of me. I couldn’t even remember which one was my reality. I couldn’t remember who I was or what my life was like – I had no idea if I would recognize it any better than any other reality. “Wrather, wrather, wrather, wrather”
Suddenly, I became really scared and began to understand that I could really hurt myself if I fell into one of these realities. Looking back, I am frightened that if I did, I would have jumped out of the third floor window that I was sitting directly in front of in this reality. Perhaps the kaleidoscoping forms were the frames of the window. It was like an intense fear of falling took hold on me and I lurched away from the pattern.
But, the pattern just kept on coming. It was like I had moved to the side of it now. The pattern was flipping at me like the pages of a book with more and more lives on rubbery orange sheets. I was completely lost. I began to panic that I was never coming down. I was panicked that could not find my old reality. Every image had something familiar for me to latch onto. I knew that I could assume any of these lives before me and it would come to feel completely normal.
Finally, I latched onto something that looked familiar and comforting. I had to fight my way back into that reality to see what more was there. It was a struggle to stay in that reality with more and more lives flipping at me from a book that was so full of lives that it was round like a rolodex. I saw more familiar things and then lost them again. I fought back and saw more.
Finally, I saw the clock and understood it as a clock. It read 10:10. I was unsure that this was the reality that I left. But, as I spent more and more time recognizing the things in this reality, I began to reorient and some memories of them returned. This reality was beginning to take hold.
(Even now, the next afternoon, I am not entirely sure that this was my old life or if I chose a new one during this experience. I am sure that if I saw something that looked familiar in any of the lives that I was shown and fought to go there like I fought to come here, I would be there now and it would all make as much sense, be full of memories and be as normal as this reality. There is no essential self.)
In this reality, only 10 minutes had passed and I was, somehow, pacing around on the other side of the room. I had no memory of moving away from the window. I was drenched in sweat. As the memories of this reality flooded back and things began to make more and more sense to me, I just wanted to turn on the light and get back to normal.
However, the book of lives kept on flipping at me in the back of my mind. Sometimes, visuals of it would come back. I became afraid that I would hurt myself and that I would not move from where I was pacing safely back and forth until it was 10:15 and I came down a bit more. The next 5 minutes passed like an eternity as I began to remember this whole life. Thinking back on what I saw, I started saying to myself over and over, “Many, many, many, many, many.”
Slowly, I was becoming more capable of rational thought and understood that I had been catapulted into a terrifying vision of Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death. I was looking at my origins, my future and the whole of the endlessly and violently changing universe. There is no such thing as the essential self. There is nothing but everything, every form is temporary and endlessly changing. So, what was “I” could assume any part of the universe, any life and play that role perfectly normally. “I” was only here in this reality for a while and then I would go back to this wheel and assume another reality some day.
With this, I breathed and realized that there was experience outside of this cycle – that I could pull away from it a bit. I could not see what was outside of the wheel, but I realized that the vision didn’t need to completely occupy my experience, at some time, I could turn away from it and see else was there.
The vision of the violently turning wheel of Samsara slowly subsided and my surroundings became more and more familiar. It felt good to come home after being so far away for such a long time. I finally trusted myself to turn on the light, pet the dog and go downstairs for some tea.
According to the clock in the room, only 25 minutes had passed.
Be very careful with this stuff - it’s no joke. In retrospect, this was incredible, terrifying, insightful and valuable, but this reality could have easily ended with my jumping out of that window last night.
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