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My First Salvia Trip: Clinging to the Underbelly of Reality

Alexander E. is a writer based in New York City. As a long-time psychedelic enthusiast, his primary interest is in transcendental psychonautics.

I was 23 years old and living in Columbus, Ohio. Over the prior years my psychedelic interest had been exclusively in LSD and psilocybin, so this was my first trip with salvia divinorum. It was an autumn night in my dimly-lit studio apartment with only the noise of the fan in the window.

I measured out 100 mg of 10x salvia extract and scraped roughly half of it into a brand new pipe with a metal screen lining the bowl. With the salvia ready to go, I put the pipe aside and meditated for thirty minutes in order to prepare my mind, concentrating on my breath and simply absorbing the atmosphere of the room. Then I took my first hit: I inhaled as deeply as I could, held in the smoke and counted to ten before exhaling.

I could feel the effects almost immediately. There was a tingling sensation flowing throughout my body, and my vision took on a kind of distorted clarity similar to the effect of mushrooms. While in this state I loaded the rest of the salvia into the bowl and took another ten-second hit. Then I lay back on the bed and closed my eyes.

I immediately felt an intense gravity pulling me backwards. I was vaguely aware of my body lying on the bed, yet internally it felt as though my awareness were being sucked backwards out of my body. The closed-eye visuals were unlike anything I had ever seen with other psychedelics: I was yanked into what seemed like a fluid, all-encompassing membrane that flowed with distorted geometric patterns. There was an overall creepy and surrealist vibe manifesting itself accompanied by a feeling of enveloping heat as if I could feel the friction of my blood circulating. This continued until my physical awareness dissipated entirely.

Time ceased to exist: there were moments where I could recall smoking the salvia as well as other short-term and long-term memories, yet all of this felt very distant and alien. It felt as though this strange, volatile membrane that held me flowed beneath all of my prior thoughts and experiences, and that I had somehow always been connected to it. Within the trip it was as though I were a bodiless awareness that had shed the skin of an individual consciousness, and attempting to reflect on everyday ideas and experiences seemed utterly ridiculous. My mind raced between emotions, unable to stay put within a single perspective for longer than a few seconds at a time. All the while, the patterns of the distorted membrane shifted violently and tugged my awareness along like a tennis ball being tossed by river rapids. An intense desire to escape the rapids would surface, followed quickly by an intense feeling of relief and connectedness to this underside of reality I had discovered.

This continued for an indeterminate amount of time. It ended up being twenty or thirty minutes, but within the trip it felt like I had been there for hours or days even. At some point I realized that I was aware of the persistent sound of the fan in the window, and that the patterns of the membrane were pulsating and dancing to this noise like a high-speed mental sound visualizer. However, with the awareness of the fan I slowly came back to reality: the visualization dissipated, my sense of having a mental self and physical body returned, and I eventually opened my eyes. The room had an overly bright aura and extremely intricate colors like an HDR photograph. I was covered in sweat and felt as though I were emerging from a fever dream.

Overall, the experience was very disorienting, far more so than my experiences with psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. Following my trip, I researched deeper into the history of the plant, and read that the Mazatec shamans of southern Mexico, where salvia divinorum is native, ingest it by placing a bundle of fresh leaves in their mouths and gently chewing it for roughly thirty minutes before spitting it out. Ingesting salvia this way brings on a very different trip compared to smoking extract: the experience is prolonged and not nearly as intense, but also far less disorienting, and therefore more pleasant and insightful. In light of this, I would recommend this oral ingestion method to first-time salvia users and newcomers to psychedelics.


If you liked this story check out some of the other Salvia experiences here.