By Maven Cade Leary
Art by Kristjan

Salvia Divinorum is without a doubt the most intense forced consciousness expansion I have willingly submitted myself to so far.

With the right combination, I’ve momentarily lost touch with reality, for sure. But even in those extremes where I am not certain I would qualify as the same person by a standard personality test, I still always knew I was more or less human. Not so with the sage of divination. One moment, you’re there, a part of the world as you know it, the one almost everybody alive agrees on. The next moment, well, it’s something else altogether.

It’s a weird beast, that one. An endemic creature native to the cloud forests of Southern Mexico, apparently never observed to grow flowers or seeds in the wild. It would seem the damned things “reproduce” when they are broken and mashed back into the earth to take root.

In captivity they give flowers and a few seeds. It is said behind hushed doors that this particular plant, the seer’s sage, is a sacred species mutated by a centuries old shaman guarded by an army of pygmies, but such could be hearsay, much like the belief that the spirit of the Virgin Mary inhibits the buzz.

Still legal in many parts of the world, this stuff will straight out take you places. Sold in concentrated form, a small dose, burnt at a high enough temperature, is certain to give you an experience in fear and loathing of the most meaningful variety.

Not everyone seems to agree, but there is a definite soul-searching happening in those moments, and it tends to be about the things one is most afraid of. It’s almost as if, sent barrelling down a narrow tunnel with no light at either end, the mind has to construct something out of the darkness. And much like the swimmer imagining the giant freak fish that simply MUST be down there somewhere in the abyss, the constructed reality is of that particularly vivid nightmarish quality of which only you could do to yourself.

Your private boogeyman, on demand.

So I take a puff of this stuff, and I’m holding it in, when suddenly the world starts to oscillate and a very intense vibration complete with a kind of a hum begins at the base of my spine. Before I really know what’s happening the big twisted ball of nervous energy just zooms up and out the top of my head. I had a moment where I remember trying to ask if I had let out my puff yet, but feeling like I was failing miserably in my communication.

Turns out I did ask the question, I was later told. But as far as I was concerned, I was literally nothing more than a floating consciousness surrounded by a yellow light, much like the colour of our sun.

This light was all around. And it was all balanced, equal, even. There was a great sense of peace. Human, alive, time, body, these things meant absolutely nothing to me. My frame of reference was a simple snapshot of existence, held in harmony by a total and complete balance, a lack of anything out of place. I didn’t feel warmth, exactly, but I felt like those wonderful first few days of spring after a long winter, where the light shinning down onto your closed eyelids seems to freeze time.

And then everything started to shift. At first it was barely a sight thing and more of a feeling thing. The entirety of “space” started to spin. Somewhere up in the distance the spin was intensifying into a ball of denser light, spinning and sucking everything in.

All of space, the whole god damned fabric of this weird reality, seemed to be connected and stuck together, so that when the space around me moved, so did I. Suddenly, I could feel a surface coat of my “substance” getting ripped off and pulled along, like on some weird conveyor belt. Piece by piece, layer by layer, I was getting sucked in. It was violating, even though I had no clearly defined boundary

I knew in that moment it was death I was staring at.

Apparently. I was at this same moment falling forward in my chair, obviously under the influence of that big mozza ball of doom, so my cousin comes up to me and holds me back, presumably preventing me from face-planting.

What I saw was a complete tear in my reality. The top right corner of my vision, and only the top right corner, is suddenly my apartment. And there’s this fat bastard holding me down, literally telling me that everything is ok, that it will all be over in a moment.

Except I still don’t know who or what I am. I got no clue what an apartment is, and I definitely got no idea who this son of a bitch is. But I do know one thing. He’s in on the whole thing. He’s gonna hold me down until this thing off in the distance has had a chance to drain every last bit of my metaphysical essence and turned me into nothing more than a part of it’s infinite density and zero entropy…

I was 100% certain in that moment that I was currently in the process of dying… And so I am! Goddamnit! my greatest fear, actualized, condensed and resumed for me in a nice tight little package, with a bow and name tag and everything.

Suddenly, I began to question the lack of coherence, the duality of being in two worlds at once. And the Salvia world, the one I sometimes think is more real than this Maya, fractured and cracked in a million little pieces, shattering like a mirror. A thing of beauty, overlapping my “real” vision, fading away into a dream.

And so I am left sitting there, thoughts, names, things, everything suddenly coming crashing down on me. This is the world we live in… ok. Takes a minute to adjust.

I got up, told everyone present I needed time alone and spent the next little while in my room going over the whole thing, realizing that it was my greatest fear, death, and getting held down by people that are said to be your family, but are really just people that share your blood.

I have a fair amount of nervous energy training, and in the weeks that followed my Seer’s Sage experience I felt a very obvious looseness in my nervous system, a kind of a lack of viscosity.

I have smoked the concentrated stuff on a few other occasions, but never again have I obtained anything other than a very real nervous energy buzz. It’s like all my nerve endings suddenly reverse polarity, like my sodium/potassium channels go haywire and start to flush my nerves down and outwards instead of in and up to my brain.

And there’s a very real feeling of the spinning. That’s there too. I remain visually in and of this world, but in those moments I can feel my very substance get stripped away, following the current that once I saw, but now just feel.

If I were to speculate, I would oddly enough say that it kind of flushes out your nervous system, getting rid of tension and built-up hindrances to the natural flow of the nerves. It would explain the intense vibration and my undeniable sensation of something going up my spine when it first hit me. I was no longer of this world, because all my nerves, thus my senses, were overstimulated and preventing me from gaining any real sense of my spatial dimensions. And the other thing is the pronounced sense of calm that comes every time and lasts for a few weeks. I constantly felt similar to how I feel after an hour of meditation.

A friend was kind enough to give me a plant once upon a time, and the pure leaves are without a doubt my favourite substance in the whole world to smoke. LSD is clearly, hands down, my favourite substance, but I’d rather smoke Salvia than even weed. Others I have given Salvia did not seem to notice the buzz as much or feel the same way about it when they did, but for whatever reasons, for me, it’s all of the good feeling of belonging that a perfect dose of mushrooms can offer, without any of the disgusting body buzz and out of control sensory perceptions.

From the legit out of body experience of my own mortality, to a barely detectable sense of being in that perfect zen state where the universe is exactly where and how it should be, I can say Salvia Divinorum is at the top of my list. I have yet to try Ayahuasca or Peyote, but I assume I would love those too.

I’ve seen a few people buzz on this shit. Some of em it’s cool, some not so cool. I have had to physically restrain someone one time who was going frantic and would have hurt themselves had I not been sitting in on their experience.

One thing is certain, you wanna face your inner demons, you want to see how your mind reacts under pressure, then this is your stuff. If you are willing to work through that, than peace, tranquillity, and purpose will follow.

Or at least, it did in my case.