A number of years ago, I had a trip on Salvia Divinorum, that I was not likely to forget. I had been researching Salvia for some while. It is an entheogen, originally used by the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico, in healing and divination. Salvia is a member of the ‘sage’ family and is often loosely translated as “diviner’s sage” or “seer’s sage”. The main psychoactive ingredient is a diterpenoid called salvinorin A; which is a potent κ-opioid and D2 receptor agonist. Because of the legal status of this psychoactive substance Salvia Divinorum, is legal in the UK and can be purchased from head shops.
I bought an extract of Salvia, which was described as x50 strength. This was an elixir produced through the process of adding “salvinorin A” to the crush leaf of the plant making available something fifty times the strength of the leaf.
I sat down with a friend one night prepared to ingest this x50 extract. It is smoked in a bong or a pipe, and for my trip I borrowed a bubble bong – which looked something like this:
I warned my friend that it might be a strong trip as he was intending to have a go as well. I filled the bowl of the bong with the extract, lit it and drew back on the pipe. I never even got to finish the bowl. As soon as the smoke entered my lungs, the Salvia Divinorum, kicked in and took hold. I blacked out immediately – when I came to, I lunged and stood up. I was then standing over my friend staring at him wildly. At first I didn’t recognize him and then gradually his name returned to me. The problem was though, I had no idea who I was. Everything had gone – my name, my identity, everything about me had dissolved. I was stood there staring at him. I vocalized all this – to his great amusement. Eventually, my identity began to return and I started coming back to consciousness – at which point I felt a sharp pain in my thumb – I was still holding onto the smoldering bowl of the pipe. I lunged again falling over on the other side of the room while screaming in agony – the water and the contents of the burning bong spilling on the carpet. It took me a little while to recover – it had been an intense experience but only lasted a quarter of an hour.
After the experience had worn off sufficiently, I started discussing what had happened. It was a surprising event, to actually lose my name and with it my identity – it was horrifying. The trip felt like everything had been stripped away from me. Along with my internal dialogue – the description of who I was simply was not there. Don Juan in the books of Castaneda describes how our world and perceptions are created and upheld by an internal dialogue. He also considered everything in our world to have a proper name. The naming of things was intrinsic to upholding and maintaining this internal dialogue. So, for me when my name was no longer available neither was my identity.
When we are in the state of the unborn, we are without identity. When we enter the world we come with a gender. The first thing we are then given is our name. As life progresses, we are then subsequently given attributes as our roles develop. The imprinting continues all our lives and we become enmeshed in our world, indivisible from it. The stripping away that the Salvia, experience had on me was a returning me to this original state. This place of innocence was fundamentally without need for identity or labeling of any kind. For a brief moment I was in the place of pure consciousness and being. Considering its legality Salvia Divinorum, is a powerful drug and should be treated with respect. Having said that the plant showed me something of the truth about the nature of reality and about the nature of myself.