Two Bwoggers report on a disturbing journey to the center of the mind…

Our reasons for doing Salvia had as much to do with irony as they did with recreation. Free of associations with the 1960s counterculture, the perfectly legal psychoactive escaped the social retrenchment our nation experienced during the 70s and 80s. So while Salvia gets you high on one of the most powerful hallucinogens known to man, it also gets you high on contradiction: going by our current standards (you know, the ones that don’t let you drink ‘til you’re 21), there is no conceivable justification for keeping this stuff legal. None. It’s like hypocrisy you can smoke.

I, however, was a bit confused when my co-experimentalist first floated the idea. A visit to Wikipedia turned up the following information (here I paraphrase):

Salvia divinorum is a naturally occurring herb related to mint and capable of producing strong psychoactive effects for a short amount of time when smoked and inhaled. Its twenty-minute trip has characteristics of both weed and stronger drugs, like shrooms. Salvia’s Latin name means “sage of the seers”; the word salvia is related to salve, used by the ancient Romans to mean “hello,” “be well,” and possibly ““care for a smoke?.”

After digesting this new knowledge, I thought for a few seconds, reveled in the narcissism of enlightened drug use, and replied: “Sure, why the hell not?” After all, I was in need of a psychoactively novel experience, and I didn’t see myself making it down to the Navajo Nation any time in the near future. So a few weeks later he and I, after pushing through throngs of hipsters and goths on St. Mark’s Place and purchasing our wares in a seedy yet comforting headshop (Addiction NYC, for the curious), found ourselves loading surprisingly odorless, fine brown leaves into a knobby and voluminous bubbler.

Unlike many drugs, the use of Salvia is governed by a more or less rigid set of guidelines: while pot can be vaporized, spliffed and even ingested whole, Salvia is wasted if it isn’t smoked out of a waterpipe and held in the lungs for as long as is physically possible. It can’t be smoked casually, partly because of its potency, and partly because its potency can only be unlocked if you give the thing the respect and attention it deserves. Like a late-night Spicy Special run, a Salvia trip is an event.

So lights were dimmed, the lighter lit, smoke inhaled and held until every synapse thirsted
for oxygen, before being exhaled in cumulus formations above the coffee table–at once the warm aura of an near-instantaneous and profound high washed over my being, and I told a stupid joke. From what I could surmise from my friend’s jittery, cackling reaction to said joke, he was feeling pretty much the same.

I munched on a cookie; the texture was transcendental. We took another hit, or two or three. For about a minute I felt myself ascending to unprecedented heights of highness. Then a most jarring paradigm shift took place: my entire world existed only within my visual field, and my brain began to segment it into windows of arbitrary size. My body tingled with entheogenic glee; my cognitive processes whirred and reeled.

I fixated inexplicably upon the orange Nalgene atop the table, which I promptly deified and worshipped as a symbol of something greater; the smaller green Nalgene right next to it became its divine consort. But no sooner was my new religion established than it began to fade away. The world came back into focus and I gradually came to the realization that there were a couple of people sitting next to me. The few thoughts I had were still obscured by an opaque mental haze, and after kicking my fellow psychonauts out of the suite, I crashed in bed and awoke ten hours later, still a little foggy but no worse for the wear.

My tripping partner now has about a half-gram of the leafy black powdery shit perched on his bookshelf. This is enough to make five people trip once, or, conversely, for he himself to trip another five times. He tells me that the mysterious, foggy-orange glass tube does tempt him–but he adds that one mind-bending, socially-hypocritical joyride is probably more than enough. After all, Salvia is a novelty both for its legality and the fact that it offers a vaguely psychotropic experience without exacting any major commitments in energy and time. But inevitably it is little more than that–a strange and discomforting novelty, albeit one that’s legal and considerably less scary than the alternatives.