Third Eye Exercises – / Magazine (Jun ’05)

This is the first piece I did for / Magazine (the magazine for the extra-observant) from Savannah, GA.

Ok, I was given a small sample of what was only described to me as “hey, I found a new drug”. The instructions were a little more complicated than usual: use a butane lighter because you have to keep the embers hot, and smoke it through a pipe, you won’t need much, but do it all. And so I set off with a taste of Salvia Divinorum to entertain my senses. I was informed that it would be a pretty intense body buzz and I might hallucinate, and that the only real side effects were that I might have trouble sleeping. So, armed with this new information, I made a quick call to an experimental friend, a kind of scientist if you will, and inquired as to the whereabouts of: “a butane lighter. You know the flamethrower type for crack pipes. Yeah, I’ve got a new drug for us to try. Its not crack though”. And we set off.

Oh yes. I didn’t mention the best part. This drug is legal. Just a plant (like most other drugs), but available for purchase as an “herb”. Excellent.

Salvia divinorum is used as a sacred medicine by indigenous shamanic healers living in the mountainous Sierra Madre Oriental in the northeastern corner of the Mexican State of Oaxaca. It is used to induce a kind of shamanistic, meditative trance state that is sometimes accompanied by visions and/or hallucinations. Think of it as somewhere between mushrooms and peyote, but in a much smaller interval of time.
The whole experience would require a bit of preparation. Aside form the proper tools and the measuring of dosages, we had to ensure that the environment was appropriate. The right music and the right visual stimulation would be essential… or so we thought.

The hit was almost instantaneous. I turned around to blow the smoke out the window and was stupidly giggling with an ohmygod rush as the rollercoaster crested for the free-fall. Everything was immediately disjointed and rushing at the same time as if all me sensations were being poured into me from a large bucket. I basically forgot everything that was going on, and was in the process of completely ignoring my partner in experimental chemical stimulation as he tried desperately to get the pipe away from me in order to latch onto whatever seemed to be pulling me away in its current. I sat back and was immediately uneasy. In my opinion there was way too much going on. Waves of undefined motion were passing around the television and along the floor. What was on the screen became completely meaningless. Every time I tried to follow the plot of the film, it seemed to float farther away. The external world was being blotted out and replaced by something from within.

All of my own movements seemed to be in time with this motion, which made walking very difficult as I got up to let my girlfriend in the other room know that everything was all right. But it wasn’t. Walking across the kitchen was like moving through a crowd. Each step had a bit of wobble to it as if the ground was all slick mud or snow-covered ice.
And then there was a sustained moment of fear as I considered trying to communicate our situation to her. I had a strange vision of her sitting peacefully in one room, candles and music, reading a book, while right next door, some grotesque transformation was taking place – that the whole room was degenerating into some kind of dense jungle of our psychological projections. I was afraid we were turning into animals, and would soon get loose. She seemed far less concerned than I imagined and I returned to our madness.

Sitting back down on the couch and fumbling with the remote, trying to decide whether the volume was actually really loud (which it was not at all), or if all the noise coming from us. Neither was the case. All the chaos I was experiencing was coming straight from my head. To the outside viewer, what was going on in the living room would have seemed like two people in a state pf peaceful introspection. But to me, it was nothing less than Fellini’s Satyricon.

We seemed to experience the let-down of the drug rather quickly, yet gently. And soon we were both feeling quite relaxed. Within the hour we were in the kitchen sipping scotch and conversing quite casually with my girlfriend as if nothing had happened. The whole experience feeling more like a ride at an amusement park than any other previous psychedelic experience. Very short lived, and yet very intense during the entirety of its effect.

2 days later

Being much more prepared for the immediacy of its effects, my second turn with Salvia Divinerum was swaddled in precaution. “Have anything you need close at hand. Remember to set the pipe down and relax as it creeps up. Keep breathing. And remember, it only lasts for 20-30 minutes so just ride it out.” Preparing for the experience was beginning to feel a bit like tracking an endangered species through the Amazon. All anticipation and heightened awareness, knowing full well that something was out there.

Unlike the first time, where everything seemed to be rushing towards me, I was now experiencing something like drifting on top of a current that was flowing out from the couch on which I sat. There were even moments when I felt like my body was light enough to actually float, or that I was being picked up from my seat. When I closed my eyes I could feel the energy of whatever was affecting my body passing through me. The body buzz was most intense, and everything in the room had an effect on my physical perception by altering the waves of motion that were all around me. There was even a point when I felt like someone was standing at the doorway as if to instruct me on my trip. All weird thoughts and drifting focus that kept playing out the possibilities of my mind.

As the buzz began to fade a bit, I was able to relax enough to drift in and out of the sensations. Almost like being conscious inside a dream where you can bend reality in order to make it interesting. Slowly but surely, more of an effort is needed to retain focus on these different possibilities. And then I just kind of sat up, as if waking and feeling slightly refreshed, got up and went about my day.

From what I gather, this drug is not entirely what you would consider recreational. Rather, the experience has a meditative quality, or at least a highly intensified sense of introspection and self-awareness that is both horrifying and soothing. Immediately after coming down from the trip, I felt completely relaxed and calm, but not in a sluggish stoner-fog kind of way. I am waiting for warmer weather in order to try this out in an open field with nothing but natural surroundings to distract me. I can only assume the experience will be reminiscent of all the great acid/mescaline trips that have shaped our artistic world since the mid 1950’s. Consider this research, or at least an experiment with the world’s most receptive guinea pigs: humans.

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3 Responses to “Third Eye Exercises – / Magazine (Jun ’05)”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Finaly some non-biased article about salvia, thanks

  2. Buy Salvia D Says:

    Keen concepts noted here and I enjoy your take on things. One thing I’ve noticed is what we think about is exactly what we become. We create our own reality.

  3. Niko Says:

    I am really interested in which function Salvia is used with the Shamans. It seems to be fairly intense ride which is a little discouraging since most of the true spiritual experiences are a lot less saturated and but more profound and in some way comprehensive.

    Anyone has any response?

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