3.2.11 Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum #

Binomial / Botanical Name Salvia Divinorum
Street Names Salvia; Sally; SallyD
Major Active Compound Salvinorin A.
Indigenous Source Sierra Mazatec Region of Mexico
Form Plant Material Extract
RoA Smoked
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale +++


My experiences with salvia divinorum bore little resemblance to those of the shamans, as reported in literature. This is surely due to the fact that they chewed, whilst I smoked. Indeed, I smoked extracts on each of my three trips, rather than the raw plant itself, and these were of the order of 50x.

These forays were not pleasant. Each time I was overwhelmed, largely by fear. This was despite the fact that on the last two occasions I thought I had it nailed.

The first trip took me completely by surprise: I do mean completely, given that I thought I had purchased some sort of cannabinoid. For the second I was better prepared: I lay on a bed in the dark to contemplate. For the third, I had a sitter. Regardless of circumstance, however, I felt myself leaving my bodily existence and hanging on, or trying to hang on, in abject terror.

Colour became bright, edges became extremely sharp, and everything seemed to be morphing in a terrifying manner, stacking into an infinity of two dimensional layers. None of this was helped by the fact that I was inexperienced: these were amongst my earliest expeditions into the deliriant /psychedelic world

During each trip I had the curious notion that I was in a realm from which I could see different timelines unfolding and inviting in front of me. Also, that there was some form of intelligence there, which was aloof, and which was not necessarily benign. Indeed, the undertones were sinister.

I felt at the time that I got nothing out of these, at least in a positive sense. I now realise that the long-term value of the insights and perspectives I gained from them was in fact significant, even if the experiences themselves were traumatic (see the train metaphor described in Section 2.2).

The three trips were recorded as follows:

TRIP #1 #

I took a single hit of my apparent cannabinoid in the garden, from my small portable bong. I then walked slowly through the kitchen towards my office, when it struck me: suddenly.

Rather than a mellowing and glowing relaxation, there was sharpness to edges, and there was a transposed repetition of objects like they were stacked behind each other multiple times. There was the immediate understanding that I was gripped by something and it wasn’t a cannabinoid!

Yes, I was terrified, as I stumbled into the office. Sinking to my hands and knees I crawled, and somehow pulled myself up into my chair.

Everything on the computer screen presented the same stacked manifestation, with each window being repeated behind itself into the distance. I hit the keyboard in panic, obviously to no effect.

How long would this last? Had I permanently damaged myself? Had I really done it this time?

I was overcome by the fear that I might never return to normality.

Eventually, I did start to return, to my enormous gratitude and relief. I managed to walk back into the kitchen. As I stood I felt something very strange. I felt connected to others, not through memory but through some strange sense; a sense that was in fact focused through a lens of compassion. This passed quickly, and could have been related to the overwhelming sense of relief that I was still feeling, but I distinctly recall it to this day.

Of course, as soon as I was able, I researched salvia divinorum via the Internet, and the cause of this apparent derangement became clear.

TRIP #2 #

On the second occasion I planned the experience carefully, and I thought I was ready. I drew the curtains in my bedroom and lay on the bed. I was fearful of walking and hurting myself so I blocked the door.

Unfortunately, the preparation and anticipation did not mitigate the shock. It was still harrowing. The same sliced manifestation of reality occurred, with the same infinity of 2D layers morphing before me.

I sensed some other entity, possibly hostile, and had to suppress the urge to negotiate and plead for my safe return.

The experience was again other-worldly. I felt as though I was being sucked out of this reality, into some other. Perhaps this is why some of the people in those YouTube trip videos appear to pull against some invisible non-existent force.

This feeling induced panic. I didn’t want to go, and I sensed that the anomalous presence was not benevolent. I swore myself to be a force for good, as I felt like I was bargaining for my life.

Fearing that I was leaving this realm for ever, I thought about my family, and all that I valued. I felt a primal need to fight to stay: I got off the bed and pushed my way out of the door.

As I lurched onto the landing, I thought momentarily that I was recovering, but I wasn’t.

I found myself looking up the stairs to the third floor, and again, the notion occurred that I was looking at alternative timelines, or parallel worlds. The thought that I might return to the wrong one suddenly struck me, as my usual surroundings felt so alien and unfamiliar. In some of those worlds, it seemed that the house even had the wrong number of floors.

Things still didn’t seem to be right as I shuffled down the stairs, but I was slowly emerging and returning to normality. When I came round sufficiently, I called family and friends, just to connect and to make sure that all was well and that I had found my way back into the correct slice of the continuum.

TRIP #3 #

This was a chicken trip; meaning that I barely inhaled. I did, however, smoke enough to skirt around the experience and semi immerse.

The same feelings were prevalent, but having someone present gave me a firmer anchor of this reality. I was still scared, very scared, as I stared into the threatening space which enveloped me, and I recall that again I tried to open dialogue, through panic.

As this slowly wore off I swore that I wouldn’t put myself through it again.

Despite all this, if I ever find the opportunity to engage this interesting plant through its traditional and shamanic oral route, I will probably take it. Otherwise: no chance!


As I approached the counter in the head shop, a young man, perhaps 20 years of age, was stood directly in front of me, dithering. He pointed at a colourful packet which sat on the display, and mumbled words to the effect that he and his friends wanted to have “a blast”.

The sales attendant couldn’t help or advise, and would only respond to his questions with the legally prescribed mantra: “It’s not for human consumption”.

I then noticed that our young test pilot was pointing at a sachet of salvia divinorum (60x extract).

This rang alarm bells: his mates were clearly hiding around the corner outside, and they were likely to smoke this stuff somewhere in the street, with no idea at all of the effect they would be inducing.

Salvia wouldn’t give them a blast; it would detonate the unexpected trauma of an out-of-body experience, potentially in a packed street, potentially on a busy road. I felt compelled to intervene.

I tried to explain, but the guy had clearly been drinking alcohol.

What to do?

I looked for the safest bet on offer on the presentation stand, and referred him to a well known stimulant. I explained that this was a terrible idea (given his alcohol consumption), but that snorting a stim would on balance be more likely to give him a good time, and less likely to lead to a nasty accident in the middle of the city.

He bought my logic, and purchased.

The assistant then smiled at me and said “Well done. Are you his dad or just a good Samaritan?

Then it took a turn for the worse.

The kid returned, and asked for the salvia instead. It appeared that the scare story had appealed to his foolhardy mates. So off he went, armed with his blast, to take him directly to la-la land.

I am pretty certain that one toke on the salvia joint (which is how they planned to smoke it) will have demonstrated that my every word had been correct. I sincerely hope that their lesson was learned in a park or somewhere quiet, rather than in a place of potentially fatal danger.

You can’t win ‘em all.