THE OTHER SIDE
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Considering myself to be an old hand at exploring psychedelic states of consciousness, I chose to forgo a sitter. That was a mistake. I had the leaf in my van and had pulled up to my driveway, a wooded setting in Marin County. I decided that now was as good a time as any, and lit up my pipe, took a long deep pull on it, coughed and pulled again. Somehow I managed to hold in the unexpectedly harsh smoke. The next thing I knew I was struggling to get up off the floor of the van. I was extremely stoned and disoriented. I was struggling for my LIFE. The reality of the immediate environment had been altered and had taken on an incredible life-threatening character. It is nearly impossible to describe it. It was as if all of my familiar reality was made of a flimsy, spongy fabric that was somehow being pulled into the teeth of a set of gigantic symmetrical enmeshed gears rolling together and drawing EVERYTHING into its teeth. And on the other side of these gears side was another reality, a separate reality, and I was terrified that I would never come back to this reality. I was truly struggling for my life and the interior of the van was caving in around me as it was drawn into the gears. I could see the door upholstery and the windshield stretching, elongating as they were pulled into the vortex-like pull of the gears. It was a claustrophobic experience to see the interior of the van getting smaller and smaller as it was ground into the teeth. In terror and desperation, I smashed the passenger side window with the palm of my hand and made my escape. It was difficult to walk, I was reeling under the influence of this powerful reality-shattering (exposing?) substance. As I stumbled to the front door of my house, I was still afraid of falling into the maw of those terrible gears. I saw that all my life had been an artifice. My parents, the home I was raised in, my friends, my entire life history was just dream...and I had fallen under the illusion that it was real. I was simply in awe of this realization, and terrified of the implications. I was to die, irrevocably, and there was no way around eventual death. Perhaps for the time being, I would avoid it, but one day, all would be taken from me, my wife, my daughter, and me. Total oblivion for my beloved ego, which had never even been real to begin with. Above all, I felt truly insane. Gradually I got a grip on my familiar reality. I had survived, with the utmost respect for the entity behind this substance. For I had felt a presence; a powerful, detached observing presence. For the next few weeks I was a humble man. I was content, attentive and curious; and not easily moved by career ambitions and the pursuit of materialistic success. And I loved my family in a much deeper way...I felt a deeper than usual compassion for all people. But the most impactful idea was a question: PERHAPS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GEARS IS AS REAL AS THIS PRESENT REALITY."