A tall humanoid figure wearing a white cloak
|Name||Dosage||Route of Administration|
|Salvia divinorum||2 bowls of 20x extract||Smoked|
A little more than three years ago, I was hanging out with some friends and the topic of Salvia came up. A couple of my friends, who were younger than me, had smoked it before. At the time I had been smoking cannabis regularly for two years and also had experiences with psilocybin mushrooms, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine. I knew that Salvia was much more intense than almost any other substance, but I had to see it for myself. One friend’s (“friend B”) description of his trip made me decide to buy some; he said every time he laughed, his head felt like it was made of pieces of Lego which were falling apart. This intrigued me.
We went to our local headshop and I purchased one gram of 20x Salvia Divinorum. It came in a plastic Ziploc bag with a sticker-label on it, and the stuff looked like crushed spider-legs. The girl behind the counter gave her mandatory spiel about using it in a safe environment, with a trip sitter, etc., but as you will read later we didn’t exactly follow her instructions. After procuring the Salvia, the four of us headed to our friend’s house nearby. We’ll call him “friend A”. Our biggest problem: Friend A’s mother was an addictions counselor and wouldn’t be pleased with us smoking dissociatives in her basement. Thankfully, via some sort of kismet she had plans to go see a movie, so we sat on the couch and packed a bowl of Salvia mixed with a bit of weed into a bong while we waited for her to leave.
Soon enough, we heard the front door open and her car pulled out of the driveway; we were good-to-go. since I’d paid for the Salvia I had dibs on the first bowl. I pulled slowly and deeply, making sure to burn the whole bowl. My friends stared with bated breath. I held the smoke in for about 5 seconds then exhaled, which elicited gasps of dismay from two friends.
“You’re supposed to hold it in man, now it probably won’t work”, they advised. However, within a few seconds, I could see things beginning to change; my friends’ faces looked like some kind of blurry plasticine. I sunk into the couch and clutched its armrest with anticipation. They could see my expression changing quickly, and remarked that I was obviously starting to trip. I looked at the TV across the room and was shocked that I could see the entire TV. It was like I could see all six sides of the TV unfolded before me, including its wiry innards. My mouth gaped as I took all of this in.
Friend C (A’s sister) abruptly tried to grab a sweater I had been sitting on. When I felt the tug under me, I looked down. The space between the sweater and the couch was a void. A deep, black void that wanted to suck me in. I clutched the sweater into my arms and tried to stretch it back over the void. “I need this!” I hissed. She laughed awkwardly and remarked that she was cold, but didn’t try to take the sweater.
And then suddenly, I heard a familiar sound. Like the slamming of wood and metal, but I couldn’t understand it. Then, from out of the six-dimensional TV, came a woman’s voice. It shouted my Friend A’s name and I saw my friends reel with terror. I realized that was not a hallucination; my friend’s addiction-counsellor mom came home. “Fuck! What’s she doing home so early!?” Friend A remarked. Then I stupidly decided to try to speak, “But… she can’t yet. I’m on the… the thing. Um. Salvia.” I mumbled flatly. I heard the basement door open.
“Shut up! Don’t say that word! Fuck, man!” Friend B hissed. I tried to process this.
“But… I’m… Salvia.” I retorted. Upon hearing her footsteps and voice in the basement, it clicked in my head that speaking was not going to help me. I continued staring at the TV (which was off the whole time).
Friend A’s mother sniffed the air. “It smells down here… have you been smoking in here, A?” Waves of trepidation. Every word she said seemed to come out of the TV, although she was actually behind me.
Thankfully A had not smoked yet and had prepared an excuse, “No I was burning incense. I mean, that’s obviously not the smell of cigarettes or anything, right?” A stroke of genius; how would she know what Salvia smelled like?
His mother glanced us all over. I continued staring into the morphing TV, refusing to make eye contact. After a few uncomfortable moments, she remarked that she had forgotten her wallet and was now late for her movie. She hurriedly left the house and we all sighed in relief. My visuals started to subside.
We waited for a few minutes to calm down, then packed another bowl. This time it was Friend C’s turn, at 16 she was the youngest of us all and I don’t think she had experience with anything other than cannabis and alcohol. Therefore, we packed her a comparatively smaller bowl. Having seen my mistake, she knew to hold the smoke in until the effects started. Within seconds of smoking, I saw her eyes well with tears and an uncomfortable grin spread across her face. She laid back in her seat and put her hands in the air as if she was on a rollercoaster. Soon, she was laughing so hard she was crying. It sounded like she was trying to speak but could not stop laughing, she was in complete hysterics. We all watched and laughed along with her as she screamed with laughter. Within a few minutes, she was wiping the tears from her face and explaining that she actually was on a rollercoaster, and ice cream cones were the passengers. She couldn’t elaborate more than that. This seemed like a very light-hearted and fun trip compared to what I had seen with the TV. In light of her hilarious trip, I decided I would re-try.
I packed the bottom of the bong with weed, then filled the rest with Salvia and sprinkled a bit more weed on top for flavor. Looking back, I think I put about 1/4 of the gram into that bowl. I cooked the bowl much faster this time since I was aware of just how short the bioavailability really is.
I held the acrid smoke in and saw the same plasticine-face effect as my friends looked at me. But this time there was a very strong rush. It felt ominous and there seemed to be a “woosh” sound, like when one puts one’s ear to a seashell. I could tell this was going to be intense, and once again I laid back and clutched the couch. Then blackness.
I opened my eyes, to see that I was standing on the edge of a plateau. The ground beneath me was powdery and orange-red, like Mars. The clear sky was a similar color, but more reddish. There were wisps of white clouds, but not many. I took a few steps toward the edge of the cliff. Far below me was a vast orange desert-badlands sort of area. The ground was cracked and dry. I heard the woosh again and looked upward; several creatures were flying overhead. They were shaped like manta rays with very long dragon-like tails. They were dark shades of purple and blue, with bumpy leathery scales. I spoke their name, which to the best of my recollection was something like “Quixocitolix” (no, not Quetzalcoatl). It was as though I had seen these creatures before. They did not seem dangerous, but they were worthy of my respect and appreciation.
I made my way down the steep cliff-face and into the badlands. With the creatures flying overhead, and a vast plain before me, I walked for what felt like two years. I felt myself age and grow weary but I did not stop walking. Eventually, I reached a small white hut. It was somewhat like a mushroom; fat, short and round with a wider dome-like roof. It had a rounded entrance with no door and seemed very welcoming.
I don’t recall entering the hut, but my next memory is inside the hut. Everything was stark white. When I looked around I could not see an exit, despite the fact the entrance had no door. Behind a white rectangular counter stood a tall humanoid figure wearing a white cloak. It was like a burka, I could not see the figure’s face. I slowly approached the counter.
The figure finally acknowledged my presence with a laugh. “So… what do you think?” Its voice was neither masculine nor feminine. It simply spoke English words, in their truest form, with no special voicing or accent. Despite that, it seemed to have an echo. I stammered “What? Think of what?”
It laughed very loudly and mockingly. “The Salvia! What do you think of Salvia?”
I reeled with confusion. Salvia? This word seemed so familiar. I tried to recall how I had gotten into this room, and briefly remembered smoking with other humans in a small room. I could not remember my friends’ names or faces.
The humanoid was aware of my confusion, it seemed to thrive on it. I gained momentary confidence and tried to voice my opinion on Salvia. But I could not use my mouth. The cloaked figure focused on me even more intently and began laughing louder and louder. It knew I could not speak.
I felt a physical barrier between my words and my mouth. I raised my hands to the corners of my mouth and pushed forward. As I moved the block-like barrier, I heard my answer escape from my mouth; “NO!” The creature’s eyes widened and I saw the hut-room rocket away from me; when I pushed the barrier away from myself, I had seemingly pushed myself into the realm of that “block”.
I looked at the block I had pushed off of my mouth, it was labeled with the word “No”, the same word I had been trying to say. It was about arm-length away from me, and when I looked around I could see other similar blocks with different words on them. It slowly started to move away, and it appeared to be a wall of keyboard-like blocks, all with different words or ideas. I started to float backward, faster and faster. It wasn’t a wall, it was a floor. No. It wasn’t a floor, it was a plain. My mind reeled as I tried to take in all the ideas on these blocks. As I floated away I saw the full scope of the block-wall; it was a planet. I screamed. A planet made of thoughts, ideas, and words, all arranged like a keyboard. I was still floating away from the planet, into the blackness of space. “NO NO NO NO NO!” I continued to scream endlessly, to no avail. Then it occurred to me, if I pushed the planet away by saying the wrong word, perhaps I could get back to it by answering the white humanoid’s question properly. I shouted out loud my answer to its question, I could not hear my own voice but I felt my mouth moving. Then I felt the gravity of the planet pull me back in, and I heard that familiar whoosh. I had reconnected to the ideas that made up my reality.
For a few brief moments, I felt as though I was waking from a deep sleep. There was a blur of colors as I opened my eyes, and the basement slowly started to fade in. I recognized the people sitting around me, they all looked very sedate. I turned to Friend B, who was sitting next to me on the couch. His eyes were half-open and I could tell he was still under the effects of Salvia. It occurred to me that I had been speaking while tripping, but I couldn’t remember those “magic words” I had said to bring me back to reality. I asked my friends, still somewhat slurred and hazy, “What did I just say?”
They turned to me abruptly, apparently, they hadn’t realized I was sober again. “What do you mean?”, they asked. “When I was tripping I was speaking. What did I say?”
Friend A replied, “Well you spent most of the time screaming your fucking head off which wasn’t cool.” His disapproval seemed inane since I didn’t even know I was on the same planet as him, let alone in the same room.
“But at the end, you looked really serious and shouted “OH GOD WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN”.”
I broke out in laughter. Those were my “magic words”? Well, it did seem to sum up the Salvia experience pretty well, and I suppose it appeased whatever part of my mind was represented by that cloaked figure.
I asked my two male friends what they saw since I already knew what C had seen because she tripped before me. Friend A told me that all the walls seemed to “peel back” to reveal a layer of streaming numbers beneath. I suppose you could compare that to The Matrix. Friend B, despite being the largest of us all, had a particularly low tolerance for most drugs I had seen him take. He regularly “tripped out” when smoking weed, in his own words. This low tolerance seemed to factor into his Salvia experience because he said it was very intense but he also could not remember anything.
After stepping outside for some fresh air, I managed to slowly recall my entire trip and recounted it to my friends. They seemed hesitant to believe that I could have seen so much in only ten minutes, but I reminded them that I had smoked much more than they had.
Conclusion / Aftermath
All-in-all, despite the overwhelming intensity and the ensuing HPPD which I have been living with, I look back on this trip fondly. It was certainly a breakthrough, and the most intense trip I have experienced to date. The fact that it felt like two years in the span of ten minutes is mind-boggling. I tried to smoke the rest of the Salvia a few weeks later with a friend, but neither of us experienced anything. I would consider doing Salvia again, but only in a much more controlled environment, and with sober trip-sitters.