I thought I was dead.
It's now been just over a month since I had my first encounter with Salvia Divinorum. I've spent the last five weeks trying to put my thoughts together on this experience, which has not been an easy task. My experience was truly profound, enlightening, and utterly horrifying. Coming to terms with exactly what happened in those 6-7 minutes of my life in this human form is difficult as I'm left now with nothing but my human perceptions and recollections of the event. I understand that this is a feeling common with the drug, and I write this with the certainty that only those others who were on the same stuff truly understand, now enlightened. The following account is my recollection of the experience.
I was spending New Years with some college buddies in my home state of Georgia. One of my friends offered me the chance of trying some salvia, having tried it once and shared it with a few others. I was at the time under the impression, as many still seem to be, that it would be something similar to marijuana, which I've become very familiar with over the past few years. Maybe this is due to its legality, which is absurd considering the paranoia of being a pothead, which is completely taboo nowadays. Anyway, I was curious and I'll try anything once. Understanding the environment is essential to understanding the events which unfolded, so the important things are these: We had just finished smoking a joint of high-mid marijuana, I was peaking on this while myself and three friends present were talking while listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall.
Of the three others present, two had taken the drug previously, one being the friend in possession, the other a housemate who had only achieved mild visual affects. I am still uncertain as to the level of hallucination (horrible term, forgive me) achieved by my provider, if he broke through as I did. However, remember that at this time I had absolutely no idea what was to be expected from this drug, having been misinformed as to its nature.
Since I was the most experienced smoker, I suggested we use a water bong as to dilute the harsh taste of the plant. I henceforth proceeeded to load the bowl about half full (the suggested amount, also an incredibly large dose) with 13x Salvia Divinorum extract. In the kitchen sink, I filled the bong with water, and proceeded to hold the flame to the bowl as a muddy light brown smoke filled the chamber. With my very excited friends just behind me, we quickly skipped our way back into the bedroom. My friends began to speak with raised voices, instructing me, 'Huff it... you have to take it all...,' 'the whole thing...' I told them to start the record and I took the biggest breath that I could, inhaling almost all of the contents in the bottle. I coughed, but it wasn't too intense... I prepared to take the rest as my ecstatic friends yelled at me, 'Take the rest! Do it!' I finished the rest in the second hit, but my friends weren't satisfied, still instructing me to take even more from the bong. Just to satisfy them, I breathed in on more huge breath of dirty air, now tasting the bitterness of the extract, and vomited...
Luckily, there was a trash can right in front of me, but needless to say, there was some excitement over this, but I was at this moment distracted... Almost as soon as I started to feel an intense tingling running up my body (and out of my mouth), my sitters and I all recognized that the drug was taking effect. I sat down trying to relax, a little embarrassed, as my friend said, 'This is it...'. I remember little more at this point as in a few seconds, I was gone.
This is the difficult part of the account where I attempt, as many others have before me, to describe the end of life and identity, the ego-death. There nothing but a sensation at first, not of being ripped apart but of having been ripped apart. I couldn't say that I had been ripped apart, as in a million pieces—there were no pieces because there was nothing the pieces would consist of... I had no physical body. The sensation now gave way to awareness, and I had a sense that I HAD BEEN something with a physical body which was suddenly extinguished by a strong force pulling to the right. There was a sort of two-dimensional plane which I was pushed through rightward, and as I went through I lost all perceptions, memories, and sensations of my life in human form on this earth. There was no pain, it was instantaneous. But still, I was only conscious in the most basic sense... aware, not consciously thinking these thoughts, but perceiving them. It is not unlike the state of waking up from a dream with the memory of it still very present as the body adjusts to the state of waking life... except my life was the dream, and as I was suddenly 'awakened' all sense of that life was gone.
Death and Hell:
Within the void I soon began to see an image, that of my three sitters looking at me, smiling... very hazy at this point, and there is a green aura present. I recognize them, but they have no names to me. I cannot identify them, but I know them... and I can sense that they know me. They are sentient beings and they are communicating with me... and they are me. Rather, we are of the same existence. Here in this void there is nothing and everything, everything that is, ever was or will be is perceived, and seen for what it is. I was now existence in its purest form—a part of everything that exists, and time was irrelevant. The entire history of human existence is, in reality, just a moment in time. I was now seeing this first-hand, and time was revealed as the illusion that it is. Here, in this moment, there was all the time that had ever occurred... and I felt it... I KNEW it. Some of you understand... but for those who don't, think of something you know to be true, and someone trying to convince you otherwise. If someone told you “You don't have a hand” you'd think them silly... You look at your hand, you move it... You KNOW it's there, what it feels like to have it...
The image of my three sitters became increasingly clear... There was just this image... moving... spinning... And soon the image expanded and was not just an image, but an actual moment in time which I was perceiving. I came to understand that this was an impactful moment, bearing some significance. What was it? I tried to concentrate on exactly what it was but I could not put together a single thought. I was still in a state of total perception, gaining information as if being SHOWN and not by conscious thought. I became aware that this image was from a time I had spent in a life which no longer existed. This was accompanied by an immense feeling of guilt, that I had somehow been foolish for living as I did. However, I still had no recollection of life or why I should feel this way, but I did nonetheless. At this point, as this one moment expanded, I was becoming quite rapidly aware of my state—I had lived this moment... and I was living this moment. I was contemplating this fact when I became aware that I was contemplating, and that I WAS. I realized that I was me, or that I had been and wasn't anymore and the first crystallized human thought came to me... I DIED.
I tried to speak this thought, forgetting that I didn't have a mouth, and I found that although I couldn't form the words properly, I could communicate to the these smiling faces before me what I felt. My friends would delight in telling me later that what I actually said was, “I died-ded.” It was very hard to communicate this because as this moment occurred it was only a moment, and it was repeating itself over and over... and over. As soon as I could crystallize a thought and attempt to speak the moment would revert back again and I was stuck. It was not simply feeling like time isn't passing... It was like NOTHING ELSE IS HAPPENING... Just this... over... and over... THIS IS IT. It was accompanied by the intense fear of never being able to experience anything else ever again... This is the closest thing to Hell I've ever experienced. It is the most intense deja vu, which cannot be described in words. It's as if you're reading a book when you're really tired, and you can't help it but you keep reading the same line over and over again and you can't help it but you keep reading the same line over and over again and you can't help it but... understand? Some of you do.
It is interesting to note that at this time, Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb was playing on the turntable, with the haunting guitar solo screaming out as the moment of my death stretched out into forever. With each harmonic chordal change in the music, the moment in time began its repetition. My friends were at the time telling me to relax, that I didn't die. I was not getting any of this, except the knowledge that these people who appeared as friends which I knew in that life wanted me to feel ok... that there was nothing to worry about. At this time I thought that what I was experiencing was a sort of fleeting memory of life, one that would soon vanish as quickly as it came when I was hit by the freight train to oblivion. But the moment continued expanding, growing longer with each repetition and each time, revealing more to me.
I felt as though I was coming back from a future point in time... back to where I was me in this life. I was remembering more and more what it was like to be me and the thought of having lost it all was heartbreaking... I had not DONE anything, not referring to how it ended, but to my life as a whole... My whole life was nothing if not just a grain of sand in an endless desert, and I couldn't believe it: I was coming back. There was a sense of relief (not being dead, go figure) but I had trouble convincing myself of my own existence. The place that I was coming back to was the same place that I had left... The bedroom, the music, my friends looking and smiling as if nothing had happened. But something had happened and I then realized what—Salvia Divinorum. Until now I had completely forgotten about taking the drug. I had to do something... something to change my settings... to make something ELSE happen... I had come back, but to when? I felt my body again, I ran my hands over my chest, feeling again for the first time. When did I come back to? Where is the vomit? Didn't I throw up? Is this before that happened? These were all actual thoughts I was having...
I moved over to the bed... I had to leave the spot where I sat... I had to see something ELSE. I asked how long I was gone... just a few minutes. As I sat there, watching my friends delight in watching me freak the fuck out, I harbored horrible thoughts... That my friends KNEW what had just happened, that I would experience what I did. I had the sense that they had known this all along, and it was terrifying. It was as if by taking this drug I had become aware of some huge cosmic dark secret, one that was truly horrible and yet totally ironic... The joke was in being forced back into this reality after having it stripped completely from you... Forced back into nothing but limited human perception, and the delusion which it is. I was completely in shock at this point, and I looked at my friends expressing something like, “Why did you show me that?... I didn't want to see that.” Although I harbored these hostile feelings (especially towards the provider) for a couple hours afterwards, I now understand that this is a common symptom of salvia. As the effects of the drug slowly wore off over about 15 minutes, I tried to talk about it and tell my friends what had happened to no avail. All I could get out for awhile was... “I thought I died...”