Citation: Sentia. "A New Perspective on Paisley and Pea-Pods: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp83343)". Erowid.org. Apr 14, 2013. erowid.org/exp/83343
The following is an account of my first encounter with Salvia divinorum. I am a 26 year old, female monkey, of short stature and medium build. I have been a recreational user of various psychoactive substances for about a decade, my main vices being regular (daily) marijuana use, and occasional (parties) dabblings with MDMA, cocaine, speed, ketamine and 4-MMC. Prior to this, my only vaguely psychedelic experiences had been a rather unexpected one with some Night Nurse (which I later found out contained DXM), things going a little wobbly on K, and swirling fractals on my closed eyelids from smoking waaay too much weed. I am, or was, a realist (with the possible exception of my understanding of quantum mechanics), and also generally an optimistic control freak. I have also been through some big life changes, and have quite a spiritual side. I believe that all these factors were instrumental, in their various ways, to my subsequent experience with the Seer Sage.
I had read up a little on Salvia, enough to have a healthy respect for the substance but certainly not enough to prepare me for what was coming. My pet gorilla is more experienced than me in the world of hallucinogenics, and had tried it a few times, but even his stories of stickle-brick spaceships could not convey the magnitude of what I was about to be acquainted with.
I guessed at the dose. I put a pinch of 20x about the size of my thumbnail at the tip of a spliff and brought up the playlist I had created on my laptop. The plan was to listen to some music, watch the visualiser and see what happens. It was about 5pm on a winter's evening and I was sat on my mattress on the floor in the corner of my room, with a small lamp to my left and the Salvia-spliff in my right hand.
I lit the end and kept the flame close as I inhaled a large toke. The first thing I noticed, even before I took the first hit, was the smell. It was unlike anything I had ever smelled before, but strangely familiar. It smelled like incense, like a damp forest, mystical and earthy and green. The smoke was a strange mix of soft and harsh, and the taste was a strange mix of pleasant and nauseating. I held it in for as long as I could, then quickly exhaled and took another hit.
Little golden speckles appeared in the corner of my eye and slowly crept across my vision like dappled sunlight or the speckled pattern of a toad or lizard. As my gaze shifted to the computer screen, it danced a little. The screen appeared much more three-dimensional than usual, and I wondered about this for a second. I desperately wanted to hear a particular song, and I managed to put it on as this reality was replaced with another like reels on a projector.
I was listening to '(Just Like We) Breakdown' by DFA/Hot Chip, which is quite chilled, but with a persistent beat and effected vocals. I had been expecting to be able to have my two hits, put the spliff down safely and get into a comfortable position before the trip began, but I had no such luck. I guess that the whole process so far had taken about one or two minutes, and the song was 8:30 long, which gives me a rough handle on the timing of my trip, but time itself became a rather vague notion for a while. Things got crazy pretty quick. I don't think it's possible to put what happened next into words that another person can truly understand, but I will do my best. I guess if you want to really know what I'm talking about you'll have to see for yourself...
The music was pulsing and my arm was flickering in time as I struggled to put the spliff in the ashtray. It was like I was watching my arm on a jerky video screen, but instead of the image being fuzzy it was crisp and high-definition. I remember that at this point I was still holding my breath, but I don't remember exhaling. It was like I had simply consumed the Salvia, and it had become part of me.
I was suddenly overcome by an extraordinary sensation, as if I was being twisted like a towel being wrung, which forced me to lean forwards onto my elbows as I sat cross-legged on my bed. I remember thinking 'Is this it?' before reality unzipped from a point in the base of my spine and assumed the shape of a three-dimensional paisley pea pod.
The room was a bubble, extending like a hood from behind my head to the opposite wall. The left side was infinitely large, yet round and bounded by the field of my vision. No matter how hard I tried to look to the left, and see more of the room, the room shifted with me, in time to the beat, and beyond the room the universe did not exist. I had no idea what the hell was going on. I simply felt like something momentous was taking place. I was surprised, scared, fascinated, and completely immersed in my new reality. The thought that this was happening because I had just smoked a bunch of drugs never even occurred to me.
Golden light flowed into my universe from the left and swirled around before being sucked into the dark vortex that had appeared to my right. It was the polar opposite of what was to the left of me: a concave tunnel, disappearing into infinitesimally small point of total darkness beyond which there was also nothing. These two extremes at either side were the source of the twisting gravity I was feeling, and everything was melting and streaming with the currents and eddies that permeated the room.
At the same time as being like a glimpse into ultimate reality, what I saw in front of me was also like the inside of some exotic plant. The universe zipped shut over my head, squeezing the room into a slit between my eyelids and then spun around and opened again, so that the wall curled in on itself, enclosing me in a cocoon of green and gold and burgundy. The curtains to my right were like twisted petals and leaves, sheathing the capsule in which I found myself and attaching it to the stalk, which dropped into darkness just out of sight.
'What? How? Why?' I asked the presence I could suddenly feel in the room with me. I had thought I was alone. Where had these voices come from? There were lots of them, childlike and laughing, like they were all in on some big joke that I didn't quite get. 'How did you get in here? I didn't let you in' I thought, and as if they heard me they responded with a chorus of 'Yes you did!' and I could see that the voices belonged to little toad-like imps that were now scurrying around in my mind's eye, trying to lead me towards the twirling tunnel-stalk.
'Where are we going? I'm not ready' I thought, or said, I'm not quite sure. I was struggling against the pull of the invisible vortex and the little gnomes, trying to prise open this pea-pod that had become an antechamber to some otherworldly place. 'Come around, and around, just like we breakdown' they sang, as reality broke down and I broke down and they scuppered through me and around me and into the tunnel. I knew that somewhere at the bottom of that stalk, She would be waiting for me, and I was not sure I was ready to meet her yet. She. The Mother Goddess. The Queen presiding over this amphibious realm. The voices jumped into the disappearing tunnel as I wrenched open my eyes to focus on the computer screen in front of me.
Everything had somehow acquired an extra dimension, while simultaneously losing one. Things that were normally 2D, were popping out in layers, while three-dimensional space seemed to be composed of stacks of two-dimensional layers. The 3D-2D things, like the icons on my screen that were hovering above the background, were subliming from their corners, swirling away into a tiny pinprick through which reality was being sucked away. The 2D-3D things on the other hand, like my laptop itself, were slipping and sliding, peeling and melting downwards to reveal a multitude of layers behind. Each layer contained a new reality, and I had to try to find which one was the one I was used to. I was worried that I would be trapped here for eternity. Part of me wanted to try to get back to the toad-imps, to see if maybe they could explain what the hell was happening to me and how I could get back to being normal, not insane, not dreaming, not fucked. And then I remembered I had smoked Salvia. This was all just a crazy hallucination.
I looked down and saw that I was still holding the spliff. I had smoked two big puffs, and that was it. I was still tripping but I managed to put the rest in the ashtray, and lunged forwards to touch the top of my computer screen, which was bulging open to reveal a flat book of pages, each with exactly the same computer screen squeezed inside. As I ran my hand over the screen the pages slipped beneath my fingers and I began to laugh. I wasn't sure if this was the big joke the frog-elves had been giggling about, but it occurred to me that reality can be all sorts of things, and I found this concept hilarious. I suddenly understood depression, love, insanity. I understood where some of the greatest works of human art and literature came from. I understood what shamans and mystics and saints and psychonauts have seen since time immemorial. The song faded and the dimensions snapped back into place. I was in my room again. Gravity was barely noticeable, beyond keeping me seated on the mattress. My first encounter with Salvia had lasted a total of about 10 minutes.
I felt an overwhelming urge to call my friend. I had invited him over for dinner that week and I wanted to arrange a time, so I rang him. As soon as he picked up I exploded in fits of hysterics, and gabbled about Salvia and elves and giant pea-pods and peeling back layers of reality in order to get to my phone in order to ask him when he would like to come round. We made a date and after he chastised me a little we said goodbye and hung up. I sat for a while, listening to soft music, smoking and contemplating what I had just been through.
The experience resonated with something deep inside me, and made me feel both wise and childlike. It was strange, and also extremely familiar. It has given me a new dimension, a new perspective, and has had a profoundly positive effect on my life. My initial reaction - that Salva was much too potent to ever try again - was quickly replaced by the curiosity of wanting to know what would happen if I followed Her minions and jumped into the tunnel. I have yet to return to the place I visited that day, but one day, I will be ready.
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