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Salvia Divinorum Experiences

    After that first mind-boggling salvia experience, I was intent on trying it again. It was too strange to ignore. I got back to California and took my new boyfriend, Mark, up to Alum Rock Park, in the dead of night, to try it. He had a lot of experience with other plants- but never salvia. He thought it would be a piece of cake.

We set up a blanket in the middle of an open field which was overlooking the city below. Beautiful scene. I loaded the pipe- I was going to go first, and them him right after me. I took a big hit- and the heavy laughs took control over me. I still had my eyes open, and everything changed- all the physical-ness of the world around me seemed fake- an illusion. It wasn’t real. I then closed my eyes, fell back onto the blanket, and began traveling the stars. The same lady came. I again was in my parents backyard as a toddler. The language words kept repeating over and over in my mind recirculating. Lots of swirling colors. There was no me. There was no such thing as thought or thinking. No recollection of me being a person in a body on a planet called Earth.  I was just swirling energy. Separating and reconvening. This was real. And this was all there was.

I slammed back into my body. Opened my eyes, looked up to the brilliant stars and the hovering moon shining its light onto our bodies. A feeling of absolute wonder took over. Who was I? I mean, I intellectually “knew” I was living in a body in a girl called Megan- but this was not the fundamental truth of “who” I was, and I could feel that very strongly.

I looked over to Mark. He started saying “turn off the lights! Hurry, turn them off!” There were no lights on, and his eyes were closed. I laughed and cuddled him. He came back. Just as confounded as I was. He described it as entering a inverse bubble of reality that’s not normally there. Like pressing down on a plastic bag and waiting for it to return to it’s normal shape. He felt perturbed that he had no “control” over the experience. How you can control something, when there is no “you” present?

The next morning, he woke up and wanted to do it again.(Note- it is very rare for anyone to ever want to smoke salvia after the first time, because it can be such an unpleasant and jarring experience).  He wanted to “figure it out”, and “conquer” it. I watched him inhale, and I watched him go.

His body stiffened. Tightened up like a corpse. His breathing became focused and heavy. His brow furrowed. All of a sudden he opened his eyes, turned his head toward me, and said in a very unusual voice “They’re not going to take Mark away again, are they?”

Holy shit. That was just a little bit freaky.

I smoked it about five more times- each time presented with the lady, language, early childhood scenes. One time I even was able to bring a word from the language back- “gesticadibidabrae” . Really bizarre! But I began to get a feeling that smoking it was “wrong”. Returning from the trips, I would feel an ominous energy in the air. All desire to further explore the plant was gone, due to the increasing unpleasantness of the experiences, and I abandoned the idea of more experiments.

THOUGHTS ON SALVIA DIVINORUM TODAY

It’s been years since I’ve smoked salvia. My take on salvia now: It still confounds me, but so far what I have personally deciphered from it: I think smoking salvia is a very quick and precise teacher. It automatically shows you, usually in an unpleasant way, that you are not really “you”- that there really is no such thing as a separate individual distinct from the universe- you are everything, and everything is you. We are normally so embedded in the illusion of separateness that suddenly having this jarring merging of all reality taking place is extremely uncomfortable. I think it must also bring one to an “in between” realm of some sort. I can’t put my finger on it.  It unpleasantly brings to attention the sort of “hollowness” of physical reality- that the physical is not ultimate truth. Living in a hologram. Almost like a video game, in a place governed by certain rules and laws of existence. I think it also shuttles the consciousness to enter into a stage known as the “dark night of the soul” (for more information on this, refer to Daniel Ingram’s book “Mastering the Core Teaching’s of the Buddha”)

Although I do feel I have benefitted from my relationship with Salvia, I don’t recommend anyone smoke it.  I have a sense that the plant wants to be chewed, not smoked- especially not smoking a strong extract of it. I have spoken with many other people who have smoked salvia that get the same sense that she doesn’t want to be smoked- almost like the plant is mad at them for smoking it. Salvia is very straightforward. Intense. She feels a little bit like a trickster, too. Smoking it for the reason of “having a good time”, or using it as a party drug, it NOT a good idea, in any instance. This is a powerful plant that commands utmost respect when approaching her. If you try to seek a relationship with her with the wrong attitude, chances are you will be scared shitless during and after the experience. You can also get flashbacks from smoking it. These can be extremely unpleasant.

A couple of years ago,  I was participating in a faetio, which is the activity of picking medicinal plant leaves and making into a tea called ayahuasca. It is a tradition to drink some of the plant medicine before picking the leaves. The medicine can be very strong- it shows you that everything is vibration and energy, among many other things.

The medicine was soaked up by my body in a pleasant way. I felt wonderfully connected to the earth, my bare feet gripping down into the sun-warmed mud. I knelt down picking the chacruna leaves, humming, happy. Suddenly, out of no where, I felt the left side of my body being pulled into what felt exactly like a salvia trip. The salvia language began circulating through my mind. I felt like I was fighting to keep my consciousness from exiting out of the left side of my body. It was frightening and a heavy, ominous feeling weighed over me. I looked over to my friend Josh, was about to tell him what was happening, when he exclaimed,

“Hey, look! That’s a salvia divinorum plant right there!”, pointing down to my left, at a plant which was entangled in the leaves of the charuna tree which I was picking from.

All I could do was smile, and quickly move away from the plant. Lady Salvia taught me a lot, but I had no desire to enter into her world anymore.

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Spiritual Curiosity Piqued Again

I felt freed- emancipated- like the whole world was open to me. There was nothing I couldn’t do! I took my newfound freedom and started experimenting with some of the activities that were considered “sins” as a Mormon- drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and marijuana (What!? Why the hell is this illegal but alcohol legal? Doesn‘t make sense), and had some fun with alcohol.

Soon after I left the church, I went to Wyoming for the summer to work in a lodge. It was an amazing experience. I would stay up all night with my new friends, going for midnight skinny dip swims in the freezing lake, pulling pranks, laughing.

Everything was pretty quiet on the spiritual home front of my mind, until one day some friends approached me.

“Hey Megan,” (in his southern accent) “You wanna smoke some uh this salvia I got here?

“What the heck is that? I’ve never heard of that.”

“It’s a plant from Mexico- it’ll just make you real giggly for a couple uh minutes. It’s completely legal. ”

   Sounded intriguing, so I consented.

I was slightly alarmed that Zach seemed surprised and excited I had agreed to try it, and yelled out for everyone to hear “Hey guys! Megan’s bout to smoke some salvia in her room! Come watch!” After the group of people had congregated in my room, I sat on the floor across from Zach, as he loaded the pipe for me. He instructed me to take the biggest hit I could, and hold it as long as I could.

I wasn’t nervous.

I did as he instructed.

Next thing I knew, “I” was up in outer space, surrounded by stars and planets. I was greeted by a lady who had dark hair and was wearing a red dress, holding a basket full of strawberries. She spoke to me in a bizarre language, intently, as if she was trying to tell me something. Her eyes were sharp and piercing, locking into mine, reaching down to the depths of my soul. I was absolutely, completely, utterly astonished. Words can’t describe how astonished I was. I began understanding pieces of the language, it seemed very familiar, as if I had spoken it in another life. I saw flashes of scenes of my life from the eyes of when I was a toddler, sitting on the patio in my parents backyard, the tiles and bricks vivid and swirling.  Suddenly the lady said (in the language):

“Okay- it’s time to go back to your body- for now”,

and she proceeded to “zip” me back up into physical reality and my body. I opened my eyes. I was laying on my back, and I was laughing hysterically. Laughing had never felt so good, so full and complete.

I started researching salvia. I learned it’s called “salvia divinorum”, and has been used by the Mazatec Indians sacramentally for thousands of years. However, they traditionally chew the leaves into a quid, rather than smoking it. I also discovered that there was a personality attributed to the plant- dubbed “Lady Salvia”, and people frequently see a lady with dark hair during their salvia experiences. She is said to be the personage of the plant in form for humans to understand and relate with.

In my researching, I stumbled across Terence McKenna. Terence was a ethnobotanist (the study of plant usage within cultures). He died in the year 2000, but there was multitudes of audio recordings and you tube videos of him available to watch. I began listening to him, and was very excited. This was the first person I had ever heard who was able to articulate so well things I had recently felt. He was all about viewing reality objectively- and freeing oneself from the cultural assumptions we possess. He was a major proponent of using consciousness-altering plant medicines for this purpose. He introduced the idea that all our minds are running on different operating systems- the operating systems being the culture/religion that we each experience. He purported that using psychdelic, or entheogenic plants, would essentially “deprogram” your mind from the ideaological realities that were previously imposed upon it.

This had been no doubt the most BIZARRE experience of my life. It had lasted less than five minutes, but it had felt like I was gone an eternity. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it-  I mean, come on! I continued mulling it over in my mind. It had seemed so real- that my actual consciousness had left my body and traveled to some distant corner of some alter universe.

I started looking at culture and society objectively,  like I was an alien who just landed on earth. I found it funny how much our culture shapes our personal views about reality and the life we experience. I realized that if I was going to continue on this path of “seeking truth”, I would have to wipe the slate of my mind clean, and let go of all preconceived notions. So I did- and I let the universe take me for a ride.

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Poems

She’ll Stay the Same

Body numb

Frozen by the stillness

The mind wandering far and wide

Crawling and scampering

Prying at the sides

Trying to escape the dream she’s living in

Days and days gone by

The ridges of her life

Keep her safe from hurt

And distant from love

While strangers in the café stare

Wonder what she’s doing there.

A pretty girl.

A tiny corner she inhabits

Uncomfortably bored.

But she won’t have this

There’s something wrong

She talks, but doesn’t speak

This happens all the time. Happens all the time.

The past is a wound

It always bleeds

The gray skies don’t help,

Nor the stares past the window pane

The void eats up all ambition

Tears illicit no change

She’ll stay the same.

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My Mormon Past, Short Stories

Alcohol Virgin Tale

After forgoing my self-imposed label of being a “Mormon”, I decided the proper progression of events was to finally try alcohol and see what all the fuss was about. I had never touched a drop my entire life (except when my high school friend cleverly tricked me into taking a swig of her “juice“ during class). It was a pernicious nectar of Satan, after all.

My husband and I took a weekend trip to Carmel, to stay at a fancy inn, where the planned debauchery would take place.  We walked down the street hand in hand to the local grocery store, me silently nervous about losing my alcohol virginity . I tried to play it cool, but was overwhelmed strolling the alcohol aisle- beers, different kinds of wines, hard liquor, fruity mixed cocktails- so many options!

We settled on a chardonnay. I wanted to feel classy, I suppose. Sophisticated. I imagined it being bubbly (I think I got it mixed up with the idea of champagne), sweet and crisp tasting. We meandered back to the hotel room and slowly poured each other a glass. I made a toast- “To being free to do whatever the hell we want!”.

Bringing the glass to my lips and taking a cautious sip, I was suddenly horrified. “Ugh God, this is what chardonnay tastes like? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Who would want to drink this shit?” (I had newfound affection for swear words. They still felt awkward rolling off my tongue). I imagined battery acid would leave a better taste in my mouth. However, I was determined to get “drunk”, so I drank three glasses. Nothing seemed to be happening. On the fourth glass, it finally hit me. I became dizzy and a tingling warmth enveloped my body and mind. I chuckled to myself, “So this is why people drink!”. I staggered  around the hotel room, catching my reflection in the mirror, chuckling at the girl who stared back. I barely recognized myself- I had chopped off all of my long blonde hair into a short pixie style- sort of as a self-statement of “starting over”.   I raised my glass to the reflection and murmured, “Damn, do you look good!”.

Over the next few months, I began regularly experimenting with different alcoholic beverages. The next drink I tried was Mike’s Hard Lemonade. “Cheerleader drinks,” my husband referred to them as. I enjoyed the sickeningly sweet taste, but didn’t enjoy the fact that I drank about five and couldn’t feel a thing. “Fucking cheerleader drinks!” I moaned, belly swollen and sloshing with liquid, no hint of the buzz I was after.

I tried beer, but thought it was revolting. Fermented urine flavor. I wanted to like it so I kept taking sips of it (It would take about six months until I actually enjoyed the flavor.)

Apple martinis were a go- and all it took was one or two for me to act embarrassingly raucous.

As soon as I tried Hornsby’s hard cider, I knew that would be my go-to drink for a while. And it was. Until I decided I liked beer more.

I bought coconut flavored rums, whiskey, vodkas.

Once the news got out that I had stopped being Mormon and had started drinking, I had old friends calling me up, asking me to “grab a drink” with them at the bar. Sitting at the bars with these old friends, stupidly drunk together, musing over the irony of the situation. It was the first time in ages I had felt “myself” around these friends. I was me again. We laughed, hard. Laughing at the past, excited, and just a little scared- for the future.

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