What is Salvia?
Salvia divinorum, or Salvia for short, is an entheogen, found in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, that is as potent as it is unique. This extraordinary herb (a member of the sage genus, in fact!) has been used for centuries, and is still in use by the area's indigenous Mazatec people. It's primary use among those peoples is that of Divination.
Salvia Divinorum's effects can be many and varied, especially at different strengths. The effects can include:
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Past memories, such as revisiting places from childhood memory
- Sensations of motion, or being pulled or twisted by forces
- Visions of membranes, films and various two-dimensional surfaces
- Merging with or becoming objects
- Overlapping realities, such as the perception of being in several locations at once
How To Use Salvia
As salvia can come in many forms, including dried leaf, extracts and tincture, there are many methods used to take it. Here is a particularly good article on how to use Salvia Divinorum, weighing up the pros and cons of each method. To summarise, fresh leaf and tincture are both absorbed through the mouth, while dried leaf and fortified extracts are usually smoked with a bong and a very hot lighter. Smoking Salvia brings about a more intense trip, but it doesn't last as long.
The de facto standard for measuring the intensity of the salvia trip is the "SALVIA Scale"; six levels in total, each corresponding to a letter. Here's a rough guide to each level, taken from SageWisdom.org:
- "S" - Level 1
- "S" stands for SUBTLE effects. A feeling that "something" is happening, although it is difficulty to say just what. Relaxation and increased sensual appreciation may be noted. This mild level is useful for meditation and may facilitate sexual pleasure.
Level 1 Experiences
- "A" - Level 2
- "A" stands for ALTERED perception. Colors and textures are more pronounced. Appreciation of music may be enhanced. Space may appear of greater or lesser depth than is usual. But visions do not occur at this level. Thinking becomes less logical, and more playful; short-term memory difficulties may be noted.
Level 2 Experiences
- "L" - Level 3
- "L" stands for LIGHT visionary state. Closed-eye visuals (clear imagery with eyes closed: fractal patterns, vine-like and geometric patterns, visions of objects and designs). The imagery is often two dimensional. If open-eyed visual effects occur, these are usually vague and fleeting. At this level, phenomena similar to the hypnagogic phenomena that some people experience at sleep onset occur. At this level, visions are experienced as "eye candy" but are not confused with reality.
Level 3 Experiences
- "V" - Level 4
- "V" stands for VIVID visionary state. Complex three-dimensional realistic appearing scenes occur. Sometimes voices may be heard. With eyes open, contact with consensual reality will not be entirely lost, but when you close your eyes you may forget about consensus reality and enter completely into a dreamlike scene. Shamanistic journeying to other lands--foreign or imaginary; encounters with beings (entities, spirits) or travels to other ages may occur. You may even live the life of another person. At this level you have entered the shaman's world. Or if you prefer: you are in "dream time." With eyes closed, you experience fantasies (dream like happenings with a story line to them). So long as your eyes are closed you may believe they are really occurring. This differs from the "eye candy" closed-eye imagery, of level 3.
Level 4 Experiences
- "I" - Level 5
- "I" stands for IMMATERIAL existence. At this level one may no longer be aware of having a body. Consciousness remains and some thought processes are still lucid, but one becomes completely involved in inner experience and looses all contact with consensual reality. Individuality may be lost; one experiences merging with God/dess, mind, universal consciousness, or bizarre fusions with other objects--real or imagined (e.g. experiences such as merging with a wall or piece of furniture). At this level it is impossible to function in consensual reality, but unfortunately some people do not remain still but move around in this befuddled state. For this reason a sitter is essential to ensure the safety of someone voyaging to these deep levels. To the person experiencing this the phenomenon may be terrifying or exceedingly pleasant; but to an outside observer the individual may appear confused or disoriented.
Level 5 Experiences
- "A" - Level 6
- "A" stands for AMNESIC effects. At this stage, either consciousness is lost, or at least one is unable to later recall what one had experienced. The individual may fall, or remain immobile or thrash around; somnambulistic behavior may occur. Injuries can be sustained without pain being felt; on awakening, the individual will have no recollection of what he/she did, experienced, or said in level 6. People cannot recall what they experience in this very deep trance state. This is not a desirable level, because nothing can latter be recalled of the experience.
Level 6 Experiences
Sacred Weeds - Salvia Divinorum
Here is the documentary entitled "Sacred Weeds - Salvia Divinorum". This episode on salvia is 50 minutes long, so stop reading this and go put the kettle on. When you're back, sit back and enjoy!