I've been wanting to reply to your last e-mail for while, it was very
interesting, but I have been very busy. I've also wanted to pull together your
recent accounts into an experience section on the web-site, working title is
'Beauty and the Beast', so hopefully I will get a chance to do that in the not
I don't know how much further you have got with the experience side of
things but your last one has got me thinking. One of the things I have found
with Salvia is that it is a difficult experience to summarise or pin down,
extraordinarily variable. So all I was suggesting in my last e-mail is that
this may call for a variety of ways of seeing and dealing with the it.
You gave an account where you described 'taking charge', and I reckoned,
from what had gone on before, that this was an appropriate strategy in this
case. I didn't mean to suggest that you were avoiding something by doing this.
Only that the Salvia experience is not always the same, and that you may find
yourself in different circumstances in the future, where, despite your best
efforts, you find that you are overwhelmed, and not in full control.
I've had many experiences with Salvia that have been very much to do with
an encounter with something 'other'. I remember a series of encounters, each
of which felt like I was getting closer and closer to the Mind of Nature. I
declared as much to a close friend, and was going into these experiences with
"I wonder what the Mind of Nature will reveal to me this time?" I
remember having that particular thought one evening, but ending up on that
occasion getting, well, ...nothing, the void, a dark, empty and sinister
feeling. This too could have been something 'other', but it seemed somehow
appropriate to relate to it as if it were an aspect of myself, my unconscious,
or my shadow.
I can't quite explain why. Perhaps there is a degree of arbitrariness about
how one chooses to view it, but I think not. I think Salvia is capable
presenting 'other' entities AND it is capable of presenting aspects of the
self. Maybe there isn't always a clear-cut definition between the two, but I
maintain that the capability for both is always there.
Thinking about this some more since your writings, I think we (humans) have
a tendency to model how things work, to come to conclusions about things, and,
once we have a working model, we tend to shoehorn our experiences into that
mindset, - whether they really fit or not.
A good plant ally is capable of overthrowing paradigms.
In my case, introductions to Salvia were eye-opening encounters with the
Mind of Nature. It's not that this was later proven to be untrue. It's just
that when I got to a point where I was starting to associate Salvia, its
leafiness and its greenness, with the Mind of Nature, - to somewhat take it
for granted, it overthrew this by revealing something else, - an aspect of
Salvia has gone on to reveal a variety of tricks since, all of which make
me somewhat cautious about trying to second-guess it.
In your case, I think you initially had another model, close to the
'standard' psychological model, which is bound to view all non-ordinary
phenomena like these as phantoms, projections and aspects of the self. Aspects
which, particularly if they are of an unpleasant nature, are seen as repressed
and hidden parts of the unconscious mind suddenly showing themselves.
This model too is not completely wrong. It's a reasonable psychological
model based on good observation of the human condition. It's useful to deal
with manifestations as recognise them as aspects of the self, if in fact that
is what they are. On the other hand, if they are actually something else, like
free-standing entities, then obviously it's better to deal with them on that basis.
The trouble with getting to grips with this are the staggering
implications. There is no 'standard' accepted psychological model, physical
model, or any such theory to explain such phenomena as anything other than
I've been having some thoughts about psychedelics and psychology
recently. I suggest that the
reason the study of psychology is not generally interested in psychedelic
research is not simply that they are now mostly illegal substances, but they
are substances that can produce effects beyond what standard psychological
models can explain [>...]
Institutionalised research, it seems, is always interested only in doing
work that supports existing theories; nobody wants to be forced to come up
with new ones.
Anyway, I digress, slightly. To close here, I'd summarise by saying that I
think Salvia is capable putting one into a novel space where any preconceived
idea may have to yield.
As you kind of suggested in your conclusion, all one can do if one intends
to explore these spaces is keep one's eyes open, maintain one's courage, and
hope for the best.