Citation: AIM. "Induced Ego Death: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (exp88082)". Erowid.org. Feb 26, 2011. erowid.org/exp/88082
Ego Death: Perceived loss of boundaries between self and the environment, a sense of the loss of “control,” the loss of the accustomed feeling of existing as a “personal agent” or loose “cognitive-association binding.”
We descended upon the field at Carrigan, the planned destination where we would embark on a spiritual journey out of reality and into the most bizarre and unfamiliar dimensions of human consciousness. Darkness surrounded us as we made our way to the center of the field, our only light derived from a small flashlight that accompanied us on our journey and the white spotlights of Carrigan that pierced the veil of darkness enveloping our company. A sense of anticipation permeated the atmosphere. Solitude became ever-apparent as we reached a comfortable location at the center of the field. The clouds above us held little purpose beyond bearing witness to our strange ritual. Unbeknownst to me, these clouds would later be the handle with which I would pull myself back to ‘normal’ consciousness and reformulate my perception of reality.
We sat in a circle of four, not uncommon to our ritual of substance abuse. The flashlight illuminated our instrument of consumption, a small red and white glass bong containing the leaves of Salvia Divinorum; the “Diviner’s Sage.” ['60x extract'] The order with which we would depart the realm of the physical world was predetermined. I was to go second. Our anticipation grew as time drew us closer and closer to ingesting this strange plant. As my friend raised the bong to begin our exploration, I prepared myself for a trip through my mind purported to be five minutes of intense visual hallucinations and mind-body dissociation. Prior to this experience, I was slightly disconcerted to learn of the short duration of this substance. However, this became something for which I was immensely grateful.
As my friend inhaled the thick, horribly-tasting smoke into his lungs, he coughed the foul substance into the cold night air. A swift breeze swept across the field carrying the cloud of smoke away from our congregation. My friend took another long rip of the bong, this time overcoming the foul flavor of the combusting plant. He held the hit in for the recommended thirty-second duration and then exhaled comfortably into the air. Our group exchanged glances as we waited for our friend’s trip to set in. He muttered a few words to us, coherent words but nonetheless meaningless to us; those who had not entered the other realm. This confirmed our hopes that the plant we had just purchased was indeed as potent as we had anticipated.
I cracked open the purple plastic case containing this mind altering plant and drew the bong closer. As I packed the dark green plant matter into the bowl, I contemplated how strong of a trip I was in for. I grasped the lighter firmly in my hand as I sparked the bowl and drew the familiarly putrid smoke into my lungs. At this point there was no turning back. As I held the smoke in my lungs I began the countdown, each second seeming to creep slowly by. I grew eager as I awaited the inevitable onset of the drug. As that crucial number thirty drew closer in my mind, a tingling sensation began to manifest itself within my fingers and toes. The feeling crept up my limbs and into my body and as my count reached thirty, I exhaled slowly into the air. At this point I knew I was in for a hell of a chaotic trip.
The tingling sensation grew more powerful very rapidly and it began to strike me in waves, pulsating throughout my entire being. I immediately passed the bong to my sober friend who was to begin his journey shortly. My vision began to distort rapidly and dramatically. As my comrades’ presence faded, my friend uttered a phrase which I heard as him insisting that I take another hit. I knew I was well on my way to the other realm and I made my best effort to decline my friends offer. I stretched my hands out to indicate my declination to consume more of the plant. As I peered out in front of me, the pulsating became overwhelming. My distortions and hallucinations would follow the rhythm of this pulsation throughout the experience. Hallucinations began to sweep into my field of vision, initiated in my peripherals and swirling into the center of my vision. The hallucinations had a strange duality symmetric across the center of my visual plane. As the hallucinations swarmed in on me, I felt myself being drawn backwards as if I was receding away from the circle. I was traveling rapidly in reverse, down a tunnel of my own twisted hallucinations.
The hallucinations were penetrating, screaming out at me in sync with the waves that were permeating my physical being. Maybe it was the deepest aspect of my subconscious yelling out at me, scolding me for my indulgence in these expansions of the mind. The pulsating became almost debilitating and I felt myself slowly losing control of my body. As the feeling of recession into the distance faded, I felt my lower body float upwards as if I was rotating backwards onto my back. As I rose up, I felt my body slowly fade away and it was at this instant that I lost any physical connection with my body.
I was just now a consciousness, no physical body to limit my travels or ground me to the familiar world I had just departed. My hallucinations were growing ever more intense. With each pulsation, my visuals twisted and distorted. The pulsation was almost a pounding force at this point. I was so far gone into the deepest stretches of my mind that for a brief period I forgot what it was to exist as a conscious being. I was experiencing a phenomenon common to strong psychoactives, ego death: an absence of the understanding that I even existed.
Amidst the chaos of the strong state of dissociation I was now experiencing, I made my best effort to interpret my hallucinations. My hallucinations were vividly colorful and masked my entire visual field, making it impossible for me to make any visual connections to the normal world. I recall seeing some forms of other beings, the first of which communicated to me. Its words were terse and repetitive and its form changed with every wave of energy I now felt within my senses. In addition to the aforementioned duality of my visuals, they repeated in waves traveling away from me as I continued to move backward through my tunnel of visuals.
It was at this point during the experience that I began to feel a sense of dysphoria unlike any I had experienced thus far. The slightly unsettling sense of no longer existing coupled with the extremely intense and mildly intrusive hallucinations intimidated me. The notion struck me that I was in a realm of consciousness unlike any other. Ignoring my better judgment, I momentarily contemplated what it would be like if I was unable to return to normal consciousness. However, I knew that Salvia is a notoriously brief-acting psychoactive and this knowledge settled my nerves greatly. I held this knowledge at the front of my mind for the remainder of the trip.
The pulsations continued to elevate in intensity to the point where they became debilitating. My instinctual sense of balance amidst the swirling, pulsating surrealism of my visuals caused me to lie down to avoid personal injury and unnecessary embarrassment, despite the fact that I was already sitting on the ground. I was now peering up at the night sky, although the enduring intensity of my visuals prevented me from perceiving this information. The ground was damp; an unfortunate aspect of our chosen setting that would not become an issue until I began to regain my senses.
I now watched as colorful patterns swirled about my vision as if an artist was mixing vibrant paints on the canvas of the night sky. The dampness of the ground seeped into the back of my clothes and the chilly temperature amplified this sensation greatly. My realization of this indicated that I was regaining my ability to feel, a sensation solely connected to my physical being. My visuals slowly began to darken and mesh with the night sky above us. Now that I was coherent enough to realize I was lying on my back; the feeling of descending backward escaped me.
As I peered up at the night sky, the clouds stuck out to me, almost a light purple in color and sharply contrasting the blue of the sky. My vision still pulsated slightly and the three large clouds I could see all appeared to have the same shape and repeated across the sky away from where we were laying. I turned my head to the right where I saw my friend laying in the grass much as I was. This relieved me, for I finally knew that I was again in good company and was rapidly regaining a grasp on my surroundings.
Seeing that my comrades were still laying down as well, I knew that I was not the only one recovering from my experience. As I looked back up at the sky, tracing patterns about the sky as my eyes drifted between the stars, I noticed my friend to my left sit up. He was in the process of talking my third friend into taking another hit, for apparently he had not experienced effects as strong as the rest of us. I tried my best to sit up and address my fellow psychonauts, but as I sat up, the pulsations in my body caused the world around me to sway about wildly and I was stricken with vertigo. I laid back down and listened to my friends’ conversation.
Their words were almost intrusive. I listened as they bickered and their words pierced the silence of the field. As they continued, I sat up to better hear what they were saying. Their arguing became almost painful to listen to and their speech had a strange unfamiliarity as if they were speaking in some wildly foreign manner. At one point, I covered my ears in hopes of a short reprieve. Finally I noticed my friend pick up the bong again to give the magical herb a second opportunity. At this point I stood up since my clothing was now decently cold and wet.
I began to move about in an attempt to warm myself up. I walked around the circle we had formed and stopped behind my friend as he drew in his second hit. As we observed him, it became apparent that this time he held his hit appropriately. He began to stumble about; muttering Salvia induced phrases incomprehensible to us. I reached down to my legs and squeezed my muscles, enjoying the control over my body that I had only recently regained. This marked the end of the experience for me.
We waited around the field a bit until my friend’s trip subsided. I admired his ability to remain standing and mobile during his trip. I lit a cigarette to finish calming my nerves as I stood around contemplating what had just happened. When my friend had regained a comfortable state of sobriety, we departed the field, discussing our experiences as we journeyed back into the company of normal society.
Overall, the experience was decently enlightening. Having experienced the state of ego death, I found myself coming out of the trip with not only a strong appreciation for this substance, but a deep respect simply for my existence and perception. Existence is a strange and complicated thing that cannot be fully understood until a substance removes from you any connection to that existence. Maybe this experience can help us better understand the process of death. Your physical body and perception departs you, your energy is released to the world, and you exist as a presence unbound by worldly restraints.
* At the time of consumption, Salvia Divinorum was an uncontrolled substance in the United States. As a responsible adult, I made the conscious decision to ingest this plant for the sake of exploring its psychoactive properties and I took careful efforts to prepare myself for the experience. I believe that I should govern what I put into my body and I fully accept any repercussions that result from my exploration. This report was written for the sake of informing my fellow human beings about the interaction of one of the strongest natural psychoactives with my mind and body. I do not intend to incriminate myself, but rather share freely with my peers information which I find to be highly intriguing and relevant to the exploration and understanding of the ever-complex human mind.
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