Citation: Quantagy. "Waves, Time Travel and the Other: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (10x extract) & Cannabis (exp89016)". Erowid.org. Mar 15, 2011. erowid.org/exp/89016
After spending some time reading up on Salvia, I decided last week to finally try it. I purchased a gram of “Club 13” 10x strength extract from a local head shop. At home, I prepared my living room for the experience: laying down blankets, pillows, lighting incense, candles, etc. While I always savor music on psychedelics, I kept the volume barely above a whisper. I should mention that prior to this I had smoked anywhere between 3 and 5 bowls of cannabis through a vaporizing pipe over the course of 4 hours.
Of concern to me was the fact that I did not have a sitter. On the one hand, I consider myself fairly adept at navigating different states of consciousness, and felt I would be able to remain safe. On the other hand, I’ve read enough accounts of experienced people losing their grip on this stuff, and warning not to do it alone. Because of this I smoked a very small amount, about 1/8 of a gram, from a glass piece to start with, just to wet my feet a little.
This initial experience was curious. It began with a faint light-headedness followed by a soft, somewhat furry numbness beginning above my eyes and gradually cascading downwards, tailoring off around the top of my chest. This was followed by a slight vision distortion, in which everything I looked at appeared as though it were painted on the surface of the ocean. Images, structures, and to a small extent spatial depth itself took on this undulating, almost 2-dimensional quality. I began drawing, and was tickled to find that despite the ebb and flow of my pen and paper I could still stay within the lines. After approximately 10 minutes of this, the sensations lessened and finally dissipated, and I could sense a sizable headache coming on-to what extent this was due to the Salvia, the cannabis, or the combination I am uncertain.
About 3 hours later I decided to take an effective dose (1/6 gram, according the package instructions). Earlier I’d constructed a gravity bong, per the recommendations of Terence McKenna (“This does not fail”). I positioned myself such that after taking the hit I could easily lay backwards onto the pillows. I readied the bong, lifted the liter soda bottle until it was full of smoke, then removed the bowl and took the full hit, holding it in my lungs for the prescribed 30 seconds. Upon exhalation I reclined back onto the floor pillows and closed my eyes. Again, it began with the lightheadedness followed by a numbing sensation, only this time it spread down over my body. I became acutely aware of the interface between my body and the earth’s gravity: the image that arose was being “stuck to the skin of the stone”, and I felt as much upside down as I would normally feel right side up.
Beneath my eyelids visualizations of a vegetative texture revealed themselves. It was as though I found myself inside a tunnel—if I focused straight ahead it was mostly blackness, with sharp edged olive leaf-like objects climbing along the tunnel’s periphery. Also, if I remained focused forward, there was no sense of motion—all was still. However, if I shifted my focused to the side, suddenly I would realize that I was in fact moving at a terrific speed, as evidenced by the rapid transitioning growth of the vegetation. This vine-like texture appeared to be the sides of the tunnel, whizzing past me. However I only needed to return to focusing “forward” to cease all sensation of movement, as there I could only sense an oddly liquid blackness punctuated by occasional dots, blips, and other rather common, every day closed eye phenomenon.
I soon discovered that if I focused on the sides of the tunnel long enough, eventually the rapidly growing vegetation would begin to part, and I would feel myself moving forward and “peeking in”. What I found there was most extraordinary and curious: past events of my life, more than mere memories were there to be witnessed. I say “more than memories” because our memories are always subjectively colored; this was an objective rendering of the event. For example, seeing myself being playfully chased after by my dad at the end of a backyard kickball game when I was 8 was presented with a third person perspective and without any emotional, nostalgic, or contemplative depth. I continued to “poke my focus” in and out of the vegetation at random, and continued to revisit an amazingly random set of pictorial memories—some that were vaguely familiar, and others completely forgotten about until just at that moment.
Eventually, I looked in and saw a recent memory involving my 2 year old daughter. This delighted me, and without conscious intent I leaned my focus even closer into the picture of this memory. I was astonished to find that by moving closer, I was now able to access some of the more subjective aspects of the event—positive emotions, gratitude, wonder. Also now accessible were recollections of textures in the environment, smells, and sounds. I want to clarify that I was not exactly “re-experiencing” these phenomena as I was remembering the experience of them.
This struck me as a completely realized form of time travel. That with practice, one may be able to localize and touch upon desired memories for all kinds of different purposes. From a therapeutic standpoint, there would be enormous potential for developing a more sophisticated, integrative understanding of difficult past events, without the risk of re-living an experience so as to cause further distress. It was this last idea that hinted at what I felt was an important characteristic of the Salvia—a professor-like indifference to the emotional aspects of the experience. This is not to mean that I was without emotion, only that the process of this plant did not seem inclined to reveal any disposition to me one way or the other. This kept any emotion I experienced in check. Whether I was delighted or terrified, the vines speeding along through time responded with a somewhat distracted “whatever.”
As the experience lessened in intensity I opened my eyes. Roughly twenty minutes had passed, and that seemed very short to me considering what I’d gone through. I smoked some more cannabis and contemplated this experience, and it struck me that as involved as I was, at no point was there any sense of being out of control or utterly enveloped by the process. I always felt that at any point I could have opened my eyes and shaken it off. Also, at no point did I forget I’d smoked the Salvia. These two aspects were very different from most of the strong trips I’d read about.
This brings me to the third and last time I tried it. This was the next evening. I was drawing again in my living room, and had not yet taken any substances into my body. I was about to smoke some cannabis when I instead decided to smoke a smaller dose of the extract. My thinking was I wanted that “wavy” experience again for the part of the drawing that I was doing. So I sprinkled a little less than 1/6 gram into a regular glass piece, and walked over by the open window to smoke it before returning to the drawing. I inhaled, and held for 30 seconds.
The next thing I experienced was sudden and sharp. The metaphor that fits it most accurately is that, upon exhalation, it was as though a giant, invisible viper bit me directly upon my lips. My entire body went suddenly numb and an icy cold rush flooded my face and throat. I tasted the plant more distinctly then the previous two times. I staggered back from the couch, and at that moment felt my consciousness “flip”. By flip, I mean there was a physical sensation of something within my center quickly turning upside down, and my familiar sense of “me” “slid off” and what “slid on” was the consciousness of some other being. This being was now observing me from about 2 feet away, and this was the view I was being afforded. I watched myself quickly put down the glass piece and sit back down on the carpet in front of my drawing. Meanwhile, the “other’s” thoughts were my thoughts, and I heard them say:
“Oh, he did it. He did it for real. This time he did it and he’s at home and there he is. He really did it.”
I saw myself (my body) look up to the space where this other was, where my perspective was currently embedded within. In other words, I watched myself look up at me (but I wasn’t me).
I (the other) watched my body take a deep breath and then there was another “flip”. Suddenly I was looking down at the drawing in front of me. I was back in my body. I looked up and saw something, and “something” is really all I can call it. It was a blurred part of space, as though someone had tried to wipe clean something from my field of vision with a dirty eraser. I looked away from this image and focused on my drawing, and began chanting a mantra to assuage the fear that was coursing through me. Visually, the drawing was unchanged; however the periphery of the thing, of my vision in general, was snaking and twisting like the vegetative tunnel sides from the night before. After about 10 minutes I felt normal enough to stand up and throw water on my face.
It is now several days later and I’ve been thinking a lot about these experiences. I’m wondering if it took those first two sessions for my body to get prepared for what happened the third time. I recalled long ago when the first five or six times I smoked cannabis, it was effective but in no way overwhelming. Then suddenly it took on a whole new nature and I’d be totally loaded.
What these experiences have left me with is a deepening curiosity about what this plant is here to teach us. I am hoping in the near future to have the opportunity to try higher doses with a sitter present.
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