(A cautionary tale--why one should have a sitter)

by John

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It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center
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Daniel Siebert

How do I explain this journey…and where do I start…

I began by looking at this minute substance, barely larger than the end of an eraser when spread out flat. Trying to determine consumption of half or the whole. Not truly understanding the journey I was about to embark. I had researched this to some degree and having had psychoactive experiences in the past, decided on the whole, as I felt that if I were going to experience whatever lay ahead I must go all the way. I’m thinking now that my personality trait is probably one of “all or nothing.” It began in my den on the second floor of my home. Me being alone for the evening in a very comfortable and familiar setting. This going against the warning supplied with the substance, but again giving in to my strong will. I lit the substance at the end of the pipe convinced that there would be minimal if any effect. Hoping but not expecting.

As I inhaled and held the smoke in my lungs I moved 3 feet over to the couch and began to wait. Did I say wait…wrong term…the effect was IMMEDIATE, no more than 30 seconds after ingestion. I immediately lost contact with my surroundings. At first all went dark and I had the sensation that the couch was getting bigger and I was sinking into it, but quickly realizing I was dissolving into the couch. At this point it was only sensation with no visual context of what was happening. It was then I realized this would be a trip unlike anything I had experienced before. As I began to focus I found myself in a very surreal surrounding. It seemed I was on the second floor of a house looking out at the landscape (for lack of a better word) much like you would look into a child's dollhouse, only I was inside looking out. No walls to define the house, only the immediacy of my close surroundings. There was no horizon to speak of, yet there was depth perception. If only for several yards? The colors were very few and very basic…light brown, black, dull blue and white, which seemed to allow for contrast. There was nothing that I could recognize, the closest I could come to a description is maybe like a moonscape, very desolate and foreboding. I also had a very strong sense of being in a prone position, wanting to get up but being entirely incapable. My hands and legs seemed to be trying to grip tightly, as if I felt I might fall off whatever I was on. As I looked out I saw what would become the basis of the entire episode. It was very clear that everything I saw in the distance, which really didn’t look like anything but which was solid began to dissolve, much like if you poured water on a fresh watercolor and all the colors ran together and dissolved into a pool. And it was coming my way. Just as if you were looking from a distance at a shockwave coming at you and the surroundings began to give way to this enormous force. Or maybe as if you were looking across a vast expanse of desert and you saw the ripples from the heat wave…only it is coming to you. I could not rise, I could not move, my hands refused to release their grip. And I wanted very badly to get away. As it came to me I watched in horror as my feet and then my legs and progressively the rest of my body began dissolving. I think I let out some guttural, primal scream as this enveloped me, at least the sensation was one of screaming. I saw the skin melt away from my face and exposed the jaw and teeth beneath it. Immediately at this point it occurred to me that everything I had experienced in my life--growing up, marriage, going to a ballgame, mowing the lawn--were really just a dream and that someone pinched me and woke me up to reality…this reality I was experiencing, and I would remain here for eternity. So there was no waking up from my nightmare in cold sweats as our body mechanisms do to protect us. Reality as you know it was the dream and where I now existed was my reality.

At some point I again found myself back in my “landscape,” body whole again but going thru the same experience of the surrounding area melting and closing in on me, much like the movie “groundhog day,” where Bill Murray is destined to relive the same day over and over again. But this time I was able to make out, or maybe it was just a sensation, I really can’t tell, that I was on some stairs. As I began to melt away again I couldn’t move but it seemed like I was trying to roll over, away from impending doom. Again I melted away.

But this time I did not revive back in the other world. Very slowly my vision began to focus on what seemed like familiar surroundings, only the perspective was all wrong. I was still physically incapacitated but second by second I began to focus in on things. At first a rail on the stairs, then a wall, then a ceiling, my ceiling. I began to hope that I was returning to my dream and away from my reality…Remembering that it still was not possible to distinguish what was real from what was not. As I slowly pitched out of my stupor it became apparent that I was somehow on the bottom section of stairs with my head below my feet and my hands tightly gripping the stair rails. At that point I did the only thing I knew…to seek sanctuary upstairs in my den..a place I was comfortable in, a place that contained memories of things I enjoyed in life, a secure haven. Was this a survival instinct, quite possibly, for I still had no firm grip on reality. I could not walk, I could not crawl on my hands and knees, so I began to drag myself along the carpeted stairs slowly. Inch by inch I made my way up, then across the hallway and finally to the floor beside the couch, the place where this all began. Not daring to get back on the couch I lay on the floor for what seemed like several minutes. That fact that I was now aware of the passing of time gave me hope that my journey was coming to an end. But did I want it to? I lay there breathing heavily and sweating profusely until I could actually rise up on my feet. At this time I began to feel that my mental faculties were returning faster than my motor skills. So I was amazed when I looked at the clock and it was only 9 minutes from when I began this journey. Only 9 minutes, but it seemed endless as I had no concept of time while I was away. I felt a sense of confusion and exhilaration all at the same time. I had to contact somebody, as if to assure myself that I was where I should be, so I immediately called my brother, whom I knew had past experiences like this, and to whom I was sure could relate to everything I was about to tell him. And I did…and he did…