Citation: rvpigeon. "Flatland: An Experience with Salvia Divinorum (exp71882)". Erowid.org. Nov 26, 2011. erowid.org/exp/71882
This was my first time trying salvia. My mind is still coming to terms with everything that happened during the trip, and I think this will be on my mind for a long time. If asked to give a review of my experience, I wouldn't be able to say thumbs up or down. It was hands down the most intensely unsettling experience of my life. I don't regret it because it was also the most unique... 'thing'... I've ever experienced, and it has given me so much to think about it. I didn't really find the trip enjoyable at all... I actually found most of it terrifying. The enjoyable part of the experience was coming down, feeling the relief of being real, and thinking about everything I had just experienced. I'm still thinking about it.
Being in a generally positive and consistent state of mind the previous couple of months, I decided to buy some hallucinogens. I bought the 10x standardized Salvia extract (along with Yopo and San Pedro, which I haven't tried yet). I hadn't been planning on trying it the night I did, but I was at my friends' house and I mentioned to them that I had bought some, so two of us decided to try it. I went first, at midnight. First I put on music, Portishead. I put a mesh filter in my pipe, measured out a packed-down 1/4 teaspoon of 10x extract (too much!), burned it all up with a butane torch lighter, inhaled it all, held it for what was probably fifteen seconds, then released the smoke.
I'll try to tell this beginning part of the story from the point of view of my sitters, because my version of it is so inconsistent with reality. I had just taken the hit, sitting on the bed. A few seconds later, a was lying down, completely slack-muscled, waving my arms around in a funny dance like motion, talking gibberish. I got up from the bed, walked into the living room where I lay down on the rug for a moment, then got up and opened the front door. I was being followed closely by my sitter. I wanted to walk outside onto the patio, and she let me. I wanted to walk down the stairs, and we both decided that was too dangerous (haha). I then sat down on the couch in the living room, huddled in the corner while my sitter pet me. That was around the twenty minute mark.
Those first twenty minutes were unbelievably intense. Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced during that. These memories are still very vivid, which probably indicates how much they disturbed me. I realize now that none of these stories can really explain what it feels like to completely lose time, because this story is told in time, but there was no time or personal narrative where I went. The story also doesn't match the experience, because I have interjected metaphors to clarify the experiences, but I had no way of creating these metaphors during the experience. That is probably the main thing I didn't know about Salvia, and wish I had beforehand: that my brain wasn't capable of understanding what was happening to it. So this story is mostly the product of many days spent trying to understand and deal with the raw and visceral existence that was the actual trip. That was the meat; this is the easy-to-digest meal.
Here is my version of the first twenty minutes: I exhale the smoke. I feel completely normal for a few seconds, and I am worried that nothing will happen. I consider smoking more, when I notice that the shape of the side of my sitter's face is repeatedly pulsating towards me, to the beat of the music. The shape seems like a hexagon to me. For a few seconds as I begin to lie back on the bed, I understand that the Salvia is working. I feel myself rapidly sinking into the bed, and my thoughts begin to disappear. After an indeterminate amount of time, my mental 'restart' button is pressed; at least that is how I have rationalized the experience in retrospect. I lose everything: time, space, identity, setting, perception, completely gone. I am so far gone, I still can't remember the beginning of the trip. It is like my existence has been reset, and I am 'reborn' with no memory. Somewhere in the middle of that area of the trip, I see a face; lots of yellow; I am sitting on what might have been a school bus; sitting in my childhood bed with my stuffed animal; at a lego display with giant legos of only primary colors. Before I know what is going on, not that I ever did, these images begin rapidly accelerating, as though the world consists of rhythmically shifting 3D polygons, each one a segment of a perception, or maybe a feeling.
This is where the panic begins setting in. I still have no idea who I am or what I am, or what existing is normally like, but I am grasping at an understanding of the new world I have just been born into. As far as I could understand, this was the only world that had ever existed, and it would always exist. Maybe, in retrospect, I can attribute that 'grasping' to my brain beginning to function again at a very low level after being dosed with the Salvia. The understanding of the world that I come to is one filled with anxiety, panic, and infinite looping (which fits into my understanding of myself, in many ways). My world begins to solidify, and seems to me as though it has always been there. My sense of touch is distributed into a 3D puzzle that is shifting through dimensions. I understand myself as a number of cubes inside of something like a massive spacially-abstract (four dimensional?) Rubix cube that contains a god-like narrator (the voice of the vocalist in the song mixed with my sitter's voice, as I understand it now). The 3d polygons that I am calling cubes in the rubix cube, are parts of my self. I feel like I am being torn apart, my body (that I was unaware existed) is randomly segmented, and being jerked around on this extremely uncomfortable rollercoaster-like existence. My sense of vision was totally confused, as I was trying desperately to orient myself in this shifting complex of shapes. Occasionally I was looking down on the scene, sometimes from sideways angles, mostly I was wrapped in the middle of it, my vision being thrown around with the rest of my dispersed body parts. The polygons were legos, objects from my childhood, part of my sitters face (I didn't know who she was, but I thought she was the narrator, the voice telling me I was going to be here forever, I had always been here, this was all there was to life), many other objects, colors, and ideas. The terrifying part was, despite the fact that it might seem like I should be comforted by the presence of another being, this narrator-being was something akin to discovering that god is a tape-loop, repeating some meaningless joke of a message. I was also a similar being, in that i was 'on loop', and I could feel it because I couldn't think critically, and because I was being physically looped around, and because I was intertwined with this being. I didn't feel any strong sense of identity; I was the whole world. The sound made it incredibly intense, there was a kind of pulsating wailing female voice, that sounded like it was both desparate and taunting me. It sounded like a muffled and inhuman crying banshee-thing, that didn't want to keep being pulled around on the eternal merry go round; at the same time my feelings about the situation were completely confused with the voice, and so the voice was also telling me that these were the facts of reality forever with no death. I guess, in summary: it was like being born into a room where the meaning-of-life message is looping on a record player, and at the same time discovering that you are the looping motion, and that you embody it.
As a side note, I had a strong sensation of aching/burning in my mouth for the whole experience, even though I didn't know what a mouth was at the time. Anyway, I can't remember how long this went on for, but this 'vision/experience' was the peak of my trip. The come down for me was extremely shaky. I was sitting in the corner of the couch at this point (where I ended the last section). It took me a long time to understand that my experience wasn't what I would normally call real. I found it comforting to try remembering things about my life, and found myself listing off things I remembered about my life to bring myself back into 'reality'. This was nice, because it brought up so many random memories from my childhood and other parts of my life. It made me think of some of the most surreal moments in my life that were the closest to the trip. For example: i thought about how I had picked out a time when I was 6 or so when reality suddenly seemed much less real, as if that was the moment I attributed to my learning about the subjectivity of my experience, and first thought of myself outside of my body at that moment). I was just in such disbelief at how real the experience was, and how uprooted I felt from reality.
The best analogy I can think of is the story 'Flatland', where a two dimensional being, the Square, on a two dimensional planet, is suddenly tossed into the air by a visiting 3 dimensional being, the Sphere. I can only imagine that the Square's experience was similar to mine. I am a human with a basically 'objective' view of reality (I understand my world as 'the' world, at least I did in this low functioning state), and I was tossed into a realm of multiple subjectivities, more subjectivities than my two-dimensional brain can handle. Then I landed, confused.
After about 20 or 30 more minutes of being on the couch, I started to really enjoy the after effects, and the feelings of being back. I couldn't believe that I had come back, or that what had just happened to me was because of a drug. I touched my hands a lot, I spent a lot of time looking at my face in the mirror. I remember being extremely happy about my face, I couldn't criticize anything about it (I usually am really critical of my image). I kept smiling at myself, and smiling back, and smiling back.... I half knew what was going on, but I was just enjoying the feeling of being able to smile back at myself harder and harder, like a silly smiling contest that could in theory go on infinitely, but my face wouldn't allow it and I knew that. Maybe I was just trying to feel the gravity of my normal reality again by doing this. I hung around the house for a while longer, watched one of my sitters try the salvia. She had a fun time, and it made me laugh. Having smoked the salvia at midnight, I walked home at 3am. It was a beautiful walk, because I was slightly chilly, and the cool air was a reaffirming sensation for me. Also all of the things I could look at outside of the apartment, was very reaffirming of my usual reality. I looked at the trees, the lights on the houses, the rodents in the street, and thought about my experience. In twenty minutes, I was home, and fell asleep.
In retrospect, the idea of myself being the whole world ties into some of my spiritual views of the world. Maybe they are things I believe by default, even though I know I can't really prove them, but my upbringing and personal experience leads me towards them. I guess I am talking about my personal form of pantheism: everyone has their individual consciousnesses, and that leads them to generally think they are isolated, but if you want to talk about god or objectivity in any way, the only way I imagine talking about it is as the totality of the world and all experience, and these spiritual ideas have led me to think of this as a detached connectedness to other bodies, other minds, other objects, everything. So my views are kind of reflected in the fact that I actually became everything during my trip, because I was so loosely attached to my own consciousness (although in retrospect, this isn't what actually happened: I was so wrapped up in my consciousness that it became my entire world).
It took me a really long time to get over the experience. I had class at 9 in the morning the next day, felt severe depression, severe anxiety, and was unsure of reality for a few days. Really similar to getting over a traumatic experience. It has taken me lots of time spent thinking to understand all of the subtleties of what happened. I have also spent a lot of time trying to relate the experience to all the details of the setting I was in, just to confirm that the experience was actually related to reality. For me this was the most important aspect of 'coming back' and feeling secure with reality. I would call this the integration stage, and it has involved mentally reliving the feelings, sights, sounds, and emotions of the trip, and trying to understand them in terms of both my personal psychology (my past, my experiences, my identity) and the random elements that were in the room at the time (music, posters, lighting, etc.). The way salvia mixed those two elements was incredibly interesting to me. The sounds of the trip came back to me vividly about 4 days later, and I was amazed at how my brain had preserved the memory, and the feelings it evoked. A week later, I still have moments of panic about being uprooted from what I think is the real world. For example: imagining hearing a 'sitter' talking to me from outside of my experience, in my head, when i really just hear someone with a distinct and low voice talking in a crowd. Today this has only happened once, and mildly, so I'm pretty sure the effects are going away. My recommendation is to only do this drug if you have lots of time to get over a potentially disturbing trip! But I am glad I did it, even though some people might call it a bad trip.
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