This is A WORLD OUT OF MIND, my Online Journal where I explore Consciousness and the Ultimate Nature of Reality by the intentional alteration of my own belief structures, using Salvia Divinorum and additional self-altering meditational techniques drawn from Western Ceremonial Magic.

I always attempt to adhere to the scientific method as much as possible in my explorations, and while I often speak of these experiences as if I knew they were Truth, I always consider the alternative, that it is merely self-deception on my part, and think accordingly. Thus I maintain two parallel world views at once, one aspirational and one a safe fallback into standard materialism.

The more I journey into salviaspace, the more I think the former worldview is the correct one, but there is no objective way to prove that to the world, so I'll let you, the reader, decide for yourselves.

-Saint Brian the Godless

Follow me on Twitter @AWorldOutOfMind

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More About Me And Salvia Divinorum: My First Experience

"It is thoughts of this world, that keep us in this world; silence them and begin your journey"
-Saint Brian the Godless

As a child I remember going to sleep at night and staring at the ceiling, thinking that there must be more to this world than meets the eye. I'd visualize the stars above my house and wonder what lay beyond them. Every single night I would fall asleep with a sense of yearning for something, for some idea of what all of this means. As I grew up, over the years, I found myself drawn to books that offered at least some limited explanation of this reality, so naturally I gravitated toward the sciences, mostly biology and physics. I never did become a scientist, but I did learn that the scientific method is the very best way in which to question most anything. This, I think more than most factors, shaped my growing mind. I saw the value of that method in cutting through self-deception and false expectations. I applied this modality of thought to my Catholic upbringing and it's dogmatic answers to my Important Questions, and immediately found it sadly lacking. I eventually came to the realization that there are two kinds of people in this world; those who believe, and those who reason, and I was firmly ensconced in the latter camp. By this I mean that I needed to question everything, even myself, because I was getting some understanding of the fact that we humans are very flawed beings, and any one of us can be wrong about anything at any time. I observed that believers seemed to lack the ability to question themselves; in point of fact on many important matters they are explicitly forbidden to do so by the dogma of their religion. This is against my nature. I question everything, especially myself. So I became an agnostic. I sometimes call myself an atheist, but only because I cannot bring myself to believe in a Theos, in an anthropomorphic creator deity. Forces and fields, sure, but not a God as it were. Agnostic is a better term, because I strongly felt that logically we cannot be absolutely sure that there is no God, no matter how much our scientific observations seem to contraindicate the need for one. I suppose I remain one to this day, at least in the sense of not being able to believe in a deity as most religions think of one, but I still have hope; not that there is a God, but that there is meaning.

As I grew up, my curiosity about the Universe and reality never waned. As I said, I had no "God-Shaped Hole" in my heart, but I hoped that there was more to reality than a Billiard-Ball Universe with only forces and fields, a cold, dead reality with no deeper meaning to it, however all I had was the hope. Whatever else I was looking for, it wasn't a religion. I was not to be deluded by my religion nor by any of the other various faiths and cults and dogmas. All were equally invalid to me, and many seemed harmful, and frankly still do. I suppose I had formed myself into a materialist, or perhaps a scientific realist. Certainly I was a person that dismissed anything that smacked of mysticism or the supernatural as very highly unlikely to be true.

Then in my thirties I had a series of unusual events happen to me, starting with a lucid dream which precipitated a long series of synchronistic coincidences in my life... and the power and force of those coincidences eventually drove me to consider the possibility that maybe not all answers can be found in the current materialistic/scientific paradigm. The more that I read of quantum physics and various experiments involving solitary particles, and the more I investigated various forms of mysticism, the more I opened my mind to more exotic possibilities such as the idea that thought itself might have a role in reality; even that thought or consciousness in some form could be the very ground of all reality. At any rate, I had developed a strong intuition that "there's more to this sorry place than meets the eye" and I couldn't resolve it.

So that, more or less, was who I was and where I was at when I first tried Salvia Divinorum. It was an appropriate time of my life to encounter it.

My wife heard of Salvia Divinorum from reading a news report about a celebrity who had claimed to be smoking it when a picture of her was taken that showed her with a water pipe. We looked it up on the Internet and found out that it was an hallucinogen and was legal. Legal? Really? Out of a perverse curiosity we ordered some online. It's legal; why not try it? I'd always been curious to try meditation with an hallucinogen to enhance the experience. So here was a legal one. How bad can it be? Simple as that.

We researched it online and found many warnings that one needed to have a "sitter" during the experience, so powerful was the effect; and yet some people apparently do not even feel any effect at all. How convenient. We mostly dismissed all of the talk about how powerful it was as likely to be simply exaggeration or hype; however it still seemed worth a try, once again because it was legal. My wife was on board with it, so I had my live-in "sitter".

Which turned out to be a good thing.

The 35X salvia arrived in the mail, and that very night I resolved to try it. That evening my wife and I were in our bedroom, and I set up the apparatus. I had chosen a water pipe and a torch type butane lighter. I'd decided that smoking it was my best shot at actually feeling anything from it, since my reading had indicated that smoking an extract was far more powerful than either chewing or smoking the plain leaf. I half-filled the small bowl with powdered salvia divinorum leaf, enhanced with salvia extract to what is termed 35X, or thirty-five times the potency of the plain unenhanced leaf. With my wife at my side, I sat on the edge of the bed, and inhaling as I did so, flamed the bowl. The powder vaporized in a very bright and hot flame.

What I was expecting, was somewhere between nothing at all, and perhaps some tingly sensation, or at most mild visual effects. What happened next changed my entire outlook on life.

I inhaled, holding the smoke deep in my lungs. I held my breath for perhaps twenty seconds, then exhaled. And then I honestly thought that I was having a stroke. Strong sensations of fast-traveling numbness throughout my body, along with a dimming of my eyesight with radiating concentric green and red visual effects like one has when one holds their breath too long. A tingling feeling as if there was a strong electric current running through me. I had the brief thought that I was having some violent reaction to something toxic, and that I'd better make peace with the idea that I was in the process of dying. However, I didn't have much time to contemplate my mortality for in the next instant, the far wall decided to rush me. It came at me like a freight train and absorbed me. I had no body. I didn't even recall ever having one, for that matter. I felt like I was a disembodied point of view in an infinite cavern of moving bands and indescribable shapes of intense rippling color, with something like a vast wheel or maybe more like a gigantic Rolodex near me, flipping through sheets that passed through me one after the other. I had the strong impression that these were universes, if that makes any sense. This lasted for what seemed like an hour, with many variations that I can no longer recall.

Then some "body sense" returned but I next found myself suspended in space bent over backwards, helpless, in that cavern of moving colors. I could not move. I felt the strong sensation of deja-vu throughout this experience. I'd been here before. After what seemed like another half-hour it all changed suddenly to a scene of a vast mountain, a huge mass, but made of beings somehow, or perhaps of the thoughts of many beings all massed together. A mountain of consciousness. I was physically imbedded in the side of this mountain, and I knew somehow that I could not ever get out of it, that I was a permanent part of it, like some barnacle stuck to a rock. It was as if the top of my body stuck out, but the bottom part from the waist down, was somehow integrated into this huge mass of consciousness, involved with it as a component of it. I thought that I had died, and that this was the afterlife. (I'm still not sure that it wasn't!) I had this odd thought that I needed to wait for my parents to come and get me out of it. However, the parents that I thought of did not seem to me to be my actual parents that I grew up with. I also had this very strong sense of what can only be called nostalgia; I'd been here before, but a very long time ago, and my real parents would surely find me here eventually. And throughout this entire experience, there was this quality of actuality, of rightness, of this experience being more real than my regular waking life. It was my regular life that was the dream, not this; this cannot be doubted. But this was horrible! Was I really some sessile blob of consciousness stuck in a mass of other consciousnesses, only dreaming that I had a life in a reality where I was mobile and an individual? How very disturbing!

I slowly came out of it, returning to a jittery consciousness, and opened my eyes to see my wife in full panic mode. She told me that I'd taken the salvia, said 'Oh God,' and then froze. She had thought that I was joking until I started to drool. Relief didn't begin to describe her feelings as I finally came back to myself. Total elapsed time, perhaps twenty minutes. Just about ten minutes before my wife was planning to call 9-1-1. Yes, she was that panicked, and I can't say that I blame her.

The first thing that I said to her was "Get that stuff out of this house; it's evil!" I was shaken to the core. It had been a very difficult experience, one that I hadn't even been sure that I would survive. Almost a psychic rape.

Then I thought about it. There was something about it that sparked my curiosity. The sensation of familiarity. The feeling that I'd been there before, even that that was my natural state somehow. The very strong sensation that it was somehow more real than my waking life. No, despite my initial reaction of strong aversion, I needed to explore this more. There were things to be learned here.

My subsequent experiences on salvia were far less disturbing. I'd been warned. I'd even been slapped. This was not just some drug that gave you a buzz, or made you feel silly, no, this was much more than a mere drug. This was a doorway. I've never felt anything like it. It leaves me awestruck every single time. I respect it as I do no other substance. It has the feel of a sacrament somehow, and I'm not even religious.

I started experimenting with lower dosages of the extract, even plain leaf, to ease myself into salvia space rather than diving in with both feet. Over the subsequent three years I've partaken of it regularly, almost every evening. It's a relatively short experience, but always a very profound one. I learned that lower dosages left me with more control but still often produced interesting effects, often with me still conscious of my surroundings, so at first I confined myself to those, but after a while I strengthened the dosage to once again be immersed totally and completely in the bizarre world that is salvia space. And once I had some control of even those immersive experiences, which did not come easily, I began to really enjoy them. And those deeper experiences had much to teach me.

One is never prepared for that first experience of salvia. It comes at you from a direction that you are not aware exists. It takes you forcibly and suddenly and throws your entire consciousness into a blender, before you even can realize that you're starting to feel it. Many different kinds of experiences are possible, but there are some common themes, which I will discuss here later. With a lot of practice one can in effect partition one's mind so that one retains a measure of waking awareness through some of the experience, but one thing is clear: Much of each experience does not come back with you. It's as if as you come out of salvia space, you have to pass through strata or layers of consciousness, and at each level memories of the experience that you just went through are stripped away. It is possible to carry one or perhaps even a few memories back with you, again only with practice, but one is also aware that much more is lost than is remembered afterwards. It feels like some of the knowledge that is gained there, you are not allowed to return with. I can remember knowing things that completely changed my view of reality, making me want to shout it to the world, and then a moment later feeling the knowledge just leak out of me, leaving me with only the distinct memory of having known it, and yet nothing of what it actually was.

I had had some previous experience with altering my own consciousness through meditation, concentration and ritual which was of some value, and I knew how alcohol affected me, and had some experience with marijuana, but really, nothing prepared me for the intensity of salvia space. I have since read several experiences of others that were used to other hallucinogens such as psilocybin or LSD, and then had tried salvia, and the consensus was that the salvia experience is far more immersive and intense, albeit much shorter. On LSD, you see things around you, alterations of existing things or visual illusions, but you are still in your body. Salvia rips you out of your body. You have no body. You can no longer see the real-world objects around you; you are wholly immersed in a very dynamic and profound dreamlike state. I'd personally prefer to think of it as a vision. It seems like a doorway to one's deepest level of awareness, and yes, even beyond that to an awareness of the underlying structure of reality. Of course this may all be illusory; I never fool myself that what I am perceiving is definitely real. That's how you get religion. However, one thing is definite: It feels more real than anything in my regular day-to-day life does.

Think about that for a moment. The experience seems more real than your regular life does. So much so that in fact, it feels like you are witnessing Ultimate Reality, as if you are awakened from the dream that is your regular life, and finally can see reality as it actually is. And it's amazing.

In salvia space (for lack of a better term) one does not only see, one apprehends directly. You can see a shape in front of you for instance, and at the same time feel it, as if it were made out of your body. In this manner you can experience a very complex phenomena and grasp it intuitively by how it feels. The problem with that is two-fold. First, remembering it. That is a battle. But if you can recall it, the next difficulty is being able to describe it. Much of what you experience in salvia space, we simply have no language for. It is quite literally indescribable in any language. The experience has almost nothing that you can compare it to. It is too complex and immersive. The mind is seemingly able to perceive in more dimensions than it normally can. In some instances it seems that your normal mental state is divided into a plurality, more of a group mind than a solitary individual one. You will see that I frequently say things like 'it feels like' or 'it seemed like.' This is not indicative of any inaccuracy or 'fuzziness' on my part; rather it is instead due to the near-impossibility of describing these states.

The "Salvia Space" experience feels holy somehow, sacred, and also has a flavor of extreme antiquity to it. It is not like you are experiencing something new; it is an experience that feels as ancient as the dawn of time. It is an experience that you strongly feel like you've had many times before, even the very first time that you try it. At least I did, and have read that others have noticed this as well.

I should mention that I do not recommend salvia for everybody. It is a very profound experience that can hurt you if you are not prepared for it, and perhaps even if you are. I've seen people use it in videos posted to the Internet where they have come out of it screaming in terror. Some of the experiences that I've had while in salvia space would I think have had a very negative effect on people with a propensity for mental illness; I would even say that it should be avoided by anybody too attached to reality, if that makes any sense.

If you are determined to try it, don't do what I did; take it seriously and start with lower dosages. I'd recommend no stronger than 5X extract if you're smoking it. Take baby steps and explore it with caution; I had to learn to do that the hard way. And at least in the beginning, always have a sitter.

I should also say that from what I've learned, my experiences are not the norm in all instances. From what I've learned, while different people can and do have vastly different experiences on salvia, it seems that mine are more often than not atypical, although in many ways there are some commonalities to be found. Many users of Salvia have for instance, reported experiences wherein they meet with and communicate with other beings or other people. Others report visiting the realm of the dead, in one way or another. I have not directly met other beings or people in my visions, at least not clearly, nor have I met with anybody among the deceased. There have been times when I sensed someone else present or heard a voice not my own, or seen others at a distance or even briefly up close, but no meetings and discussions with anybody or anything have occurred. I also have a lot of experiences wherein I am not unaware of my surroundings, and in those I have eyes-open visions overlaid upon and even interacting with my actual view of reality around me, such as my bedroom. It is in many of those type of visionary experiences that I have discovered the most interesting things about myself and my reality. From what I've read, others seem to not have many such experiences, and usually either report vague tingly feelings and such while remaining conscious, or total immersion in salvia space without any ability to perceive their actual surroundings at the same time.

I credit some of these differences to my having developed the ability to retain some control on salvia through sheer practice, and also perhaps to my having had hypnagogic hallucinatory experiences as a young child of about seven years of age, perhaps due to some epileptiform ailment that went undiagnosed. I had seizures, which were eventually attributed to an allergy to the family cat, which promptly disappeared. (My parents basically took it to the pound, I later discovered.) My parents didn't believe me when I told them that I had these (very bizarre) visions overlaying my regular sight of the world around me and credited it to an active imagination. I know differently, because frankly they terrified me, so they're etched indelibly on my memory. Not only that, but in reduced intensity, they persist to this day as spinning 'starfields' that I see all the time, more noticeably in dim light, which I tend to ignore. I recently realized that my present salvia visions are very similar to these past hallucinations of mine, even to the predominant color scheme, which incidentally is generally in hues of green and red. So perhaps due to these things, my visions are atypical for the substance in some regards.

I am also quite relaxed in my language here and throughout these discussions on this site; I speak of what happens and how it seems, how it feels, and draw seemingly definite conclusions from it, but these conclusions are not necessarily true or correct just because I have experienced them as such. I am not so proud as to assume that my experiences on a powerful hallucinatory drug reflect actual reality, although they well might and certainly seem to. You will note that I often speak as if they do, but I must here acknowledge that I have no proof of their veracity other than my own subjective experiences, and if there's one thing that I've learned in this life it's that anybody can be wrong no matter how certain they are that they're not, and oddly enough that it is those who are the most certain that they are not wrong that usually turn out to be.

So in my uncertainty, which is unavoidable considering how I gleaned this type of knowledge and how inherently unprovable it necessarily is, I find myself holding a dual world-view now, in that I must still trust in and adhere to science and materialism and must admit that they may well be right and these sort of perceptions taken from visions may well be totally invalid and only seem to point in certain directions, all the while still being compelled by curiosity to investigate this more consciousness-oriented view of reality in which these visions may be a clue to the very structure of creation. For the purposes of these discussions I will often speak of the experiences and my conclusions as if they are real and true, in full knowledge of the fact that there is no concrete, non-subjective way to prove it.


  1. Extremely well written introduction to the effects of smoking salvia divinorum.

    I keep getting this vibe that salvianauts are like 'seeds' in hyperspace. There aren't many of us around, but we're here on this corner of bloggerworld.

  2. Your experiences and much of your worldview mirror mine so's almost eerie. I know it takes a certain type of personality to be drawn to things like Salvia, so naturally there are going to be commonalities between salvianauts. But man...a lot of what is written here is very much how I approached Salvia, even the hallucinations as a child...

    I've found another Salvia brother, no doubt. :) I'd like to thank burningmouth for created his blog in the first place, which is what brought us three together.

    The three amigos...I'll be Martin Short if you want St. Brian. :D

  3. Very good description of a salvia 'baptism,' Brian, and in many ways duplicates my own. Thank You!

    1. You're welcome! Please stay in touch, I'd love to hear details!

  4. Brian,

    I have encountered other humanoid beings in Salvia space. I have also had instances of communication with them. But what makes my case extraordinary is what happened AFTER those communications. I began receiving communications BACK in the waking world, in the form of emails, over the course of many years. The sender of those emails presents himself as an "Interdimensional Correspondent". What's interesting is that he is able to convey detailed information about my life and my salvia experiences. Yes I know, that seems totally impossible. But then again, is anything ever _totally_ impossible?

  5. I would very much like to talk to you about this. Please write back again, on whatever is the current page of this blog!

  6. Wow, that was really detailed, and you gave great advice on what to do with Salvia the first time you try it. I'm @Beccakirby2000 from Twitter, by the way. (: