The Crystal Highway


One of the active ingredients of Salvia divinorum, salvinorin, can be extracted from the leaves. Valdes and his group at the University of Michigan isolated 1.2 grams of salvinorin from 5.35 kilograms of fresh leaves, which they dried to 674 grams of milled powder. Valdes didn't report how many leaves he started with, but the leaves that I pick average 2.3 grams fresh, and dry to about 0.45 grams. That works out to between 1,450 and 2,350 leaves to yield 1,200 milligrams of salvinorin, or between 500 and 800 micrograms of salvinorin per dried leaf. I crumble up several leaves into my pipe, but never smoke more than a quarter or a third of the pipe, which is about one dried leaf. So, back-of-the-envelope, salvinorin is active at ranges of 500 to 800 micrograms, about twenty times more active by weight than DMT (dimethyltryptamine).

Quantitative experiments by Daniel Siebert, Jonathan Ott, myself and others have since confirmed this arithmetic.


All of the information needed to isolate salvinorin is in Valdes's paper (or, another method, in Ortega's paper). While Ortega and Valdes had to isolate pure crystalline salvinorin quantitatively, simpler extractions would suffice.

But all of this raises some questions. Why do it? On the "Crystal Highway" the ally often shows a more precipitous, and more terrifying, face than she does on the Path [of leaves] or on the Bridge [of smoke]. Many who meet the ally on the Crystal Highway never wish to repeat the experience. The ally is always fast, but on the Crystal Highway she is superluminal. And controlling dosage at the microgram level requires some skill. The raw leaf seems so exquisitely balanced already.



I thought that I had measured out 6oo micrograms. Later it occurred to me that a substantial amount of the solvent had evaporated in storage, and that each drop was as much as doubled in potency

The fast drop. A trapdoor. Like on the scaffold of a gallows. The frightening terror of absolute emptiness.

His head dropped onto the table and his arms splayed out. The cards flew all over. He fell out of his chair, some vases and books and another chair falling with him. Then his body twitched and I watched him turn into a bear. His whole body grew taut. A deep guttural growl sounded from his throat and he began speaking in tongues. His eyes had completely glazed over. None of it was pretend. I saw the strength: two men couldn’t have held him down, if he had run amok.

Trance. Possession. The other side of shamanism, across that terrifying abyss: shape-shifters. There live skin-walkers and werewolves.

Think twice before offering a full moon medicine to a shape-shifter.


Field Report

All of the parallel universes were there. My childhood was there and the death of my son. It was pure terror, all of it swirling through these breaks in time, breaks in what moments are made of. The whole universe was turned inside out. To get back I had to pull it all back through my asshole.

I had to destroy the worlds that I didn't choose to exist in. And some of them tried to stop me from doing that, they kept calling to me, telling me not to do it, that they wanted to exist. We were in the place you are before you are born, and the place you go to after you die. Once you step out of time, once you break through that continuum, all spaces are connected.

That I existed was the most amazing thing. The whole thing was an absurdity, but I couldn't come back unless I accepted it, all of it. All the pain of my life was waiting there, I---s’ death was there waiting, but it was like I had to choose, it took effort. I had to accept all of it in order to return to this particular universe.


- The Crystal Highway’ (as described in Dale Pendell’s Salvia Divinorum chapter in Pharmako/poeia).