Thanks for engaging with me on this subject, I am more used to
incomprehending silence when I launch on my inner ramblings so I really
appreciate the feedback. ... Before I start – I have been having Salvia
‘flashbacks’ these past couple of weeks (the last time on the tube –
decidedly dodgy) – have you heard of this before?
I get the feeling from your reply that we actually agree on rather more
than perhaps I have led you to believe. However your response has thrown up
some points which I think are as well to reflect back at you – as well as
some interesting avenues worthy of further comment..
Ok – "I usually retain some awareness that I’m ‘having an
experience’, that something is being suggested to me.".
My Salvia experiences are quite distinct from this. If I am to paraphrase
you – my awareness is of immediate experience already there, but
somehow brought into focus and attention with Salvia’s help. With my very
earliest experiences of Salvia my impression was that suddenly the human
part of reality simply peeled away, like an astoundingly superficial
skin, exposing depths underneath, above and behind ‘normality’ which were
always implicit, always there – but somehow always ignored when in human
focus. The human layer seems utterly trivial in comparison, and the
overwhelming aspect of the experience is a raw question of sheer
orientation/navigation – where is this place, just how far does it go, and
will I ever find my way back?. Human reassurances made before Salvia ingestion
take on the aspect of something like a bad joke – as if human words could
ever speak any sanity or reassurance when confronting such actuality. We are a
sliver of attention here, less than a grain of sand on a beach, and our hold
here is precarious and miraculous.
I have never really experienced the ‘dreamscape’ contents that seem so
widely reported with Salvia, I have always found myself in immediacy.
The closest I had to suggestion was my second smoke, when the image I
managed to put together of myself was of being a toilet stuck on the
ceiling of an orange globular universe. I also became the white and blue
toilet mat just before being sucked up and through the membrane and out the
other side into normal space where my toilet mat hands shrank back to normal
size and texture. All the while - a second, calm observer watched all this
happen. (Interestingly the texture of the bedspread I was lying on matched an
old memory of a blue & white toilet mat from my childhood when magnified
I think these differences between our experiences of Salvia owe much to
differences between us as experienced people – different filter, different
report. Also perhaps – different lesson required. I must make this clear to
you, I do not think you are wrong to continue communing with Salvia. When it
is wrong for you to do so, Salvia will make it perfectly clear to you, you
will need no persuasion whatsoever.
"Your point about heading off into infinity being potentially selfish
reminds me of the story of Buddha’s enlightenment. He stands on the edge of
Nirvana, but turns back to this world in order help others."
Well, quite – but there is a difference nonetheless – I was in no way
being selfless in turning back from that infinity, and it certainly didn’t
look like nirvana to me. What more can I say? As I said before, infinity is
here, not ‘out there’, the challenge is where we are, not somewhere else.
I had one experience of a nirvana-like state in the past (after some
pure grass and on the edge of sleep). I found myself perceiving a – well,
bear in mind the slipperiness of words – I was confronted by ‘the gardens
and the living temple of christ’. I knew in that moment the sheer perfection
and joy of that temple, the wordless beauty of the man-god himself – an
ascending spiral of bliss which is quite simply more present and real than
anything that this world has to offer. And it was static. A fixed
certainty. Not really attractive at all – going nowhere. If I had been 10
years younger, or 500 books less educated, or 60% more certain of myself and
my own mental processing and conclusions – I believe I could have become a
born again christian on the spot. As it was I delighted in the afterglow, and
recalled how the conditioning of my past had squeezed a raw experience through
into my consciousness as a story with familiar elements. But the story was
fixed and still – however glorious - and my moving free-will offered me
opportunities that such a blissed-out picture could never match. Tempting
On your friends MDMA experience. Yes, the realms opened up by that
substance are very similar to the bliss I just described – but for me more normal.
Plant or not, the experience can be a powerful teacher – it is ultimately of
course a pattern of energy, just like a plant, and a part of I. I was
taken to the threshhold of death by MDMA, and given the choice, and I decided
that I would let the rest of the world decide. So I counted backwards from 10,
and on 2 an acquaintance of the time kicked me a couple of times, asking if I
was ok. At that point I had been left alone for about 30 minutes. I sat up and
said, ok, I’ll stay then. I have often wondered since if those deaths we
hear of sometimes complete the countdown. I think the plant/artificial
distinction is an entirely rational pragmatic distinction – the artificial
have simply not been tested repeatedly for 10,000 generations, so the
risk/benefit is difficult to gauge.
Ok, forgive me for this, but I need to quote you fully because it is the
key thing that struck me in your email, and I need to reflect on it directly.
"These realms are by no means easy to navigate. We agree that we are
not really equipped to deal with such experiences. That’s part of what makes
it so terrifying, but I see our inability to deal with it as having more to do
with our lack of preparedness and our conditioning." …
Absolutely right – and look, if a neonate could write, do you not believe
that this is exactly what they would say? We are born raw, a blank slate –
in my terminology we are born having forgotten everything. We are frightened
and dazzled and shocked. Remember my ‘toilet’ trip – I later realised
that this could just as easily have been a prenatal memory – being
attached to the wall of the cosmos. Except it was immediate of course. So
energetically, perhaps as we thrust through into entirely novel realms, where
we have no ‘preparedness’ and ‘conditioning’ and ‘memory’ – we
start all over again. – you then write..
"When I think about what I have experienced in these altered states, I
realise that nothing that I have been taught, by my parents or at
school or by organised religion or that I can find in any political ideology,
is really of any use to me there. But my conclusion about this (coupled with
the fact that I choose to continue to explore these spaces) is that I see all
these worldly institutions as having failed me, not that I have no
place in those realms."
Well, to be honest, I can relate to every word you write here. But my sense
is that your conclusion of having been failed is actually a
hindrance for you. For me, it is not that I have no place in those realms –
in a fundamental sense I am those realms. What you write as a
conclusion sounds basically alienated – not specifically from the
institutions and conditioning (though that is true of course). But more
specifically – you seem alienated from the recognition that these worldly
institutions which have failed you – actually are you. This is the
impossibility of the ontology that Salvia reveals isn’t it? The world is
me. I experience myself throughout time and space in a zillion disguises and
then return home, and then – off we go again.
So my sense is that you really feel you have failed yourself. Well, of
course when you analyse reality as strung out and separated into parts in time
and space – then your teachers, parents, institutions – they all fucked
you over and left you out there without any means of coping with these spaces.
But when you take the total view, your real adventure is working through the
splinters of your vision and bringing them all together into ONE.
So it is not that you have no place in the Salvia realms (they are already
here and you), it is just that the main game in town really is this game you
are born into, that you live and breath on a daily basis – this really is
infinity, and it has not let you down, it is a game in progress – and the
outcome is up to you. In a sense, these words that I am writing to you, are
ultimately words that you are writing to yourself – just at this particular
juncture in the game we are divided into our separate lives and parts.
Now I share your pessimism regarding the rest of the human race, but I have
to acknowledge that what the rest of the human race actually is, and what it
is capable of – is largely a concept I have produced by my own conditioning
and training. So I cannot condemn us all just yet. What I can effect, can do
– is do what I can. Good you don’t buy Nike – but it doesn’t stop
there does it. Like with ‘altered’ spaces – God is in the details. Every
concrete action of yours is followed by worldly consequences. Follow as many
as you can conceive, and tidy up. It is not the small task you seem to be
saying. It only starts with everything you consume. Let the rest of the human
race take care of itself, you take care of yourself – and perhaps the world
that flows on from your actions will turn out to be rather less a failure
than the one you believe you started out in.
My actual instinct with regard to your shipping Salvia across Europe is
that it is probably a very good thing, but my instinct is not decisive here.
If on examining yourself, you believe you should carry on – then do so. Same
with communing with Salvia – only you can decide. I do have to add here that
I occasionally make a typing error with Salvia – she becomes Slavia all too
easily – I wonder…
As a parting thought let me quote your own finale – that the effect of
power plants - "evaporates all ideologies and I think it is at the
heart of why Salvia really is so scary. Maybe when it ceases to be so it will
be time to stop doing it."
I realise there is subtlety in this remark, yet still it occurred to me
that ‘sitting on a hot stove hurts like hell.. maybe when it ceases to be so
it will be time to stop…’. Are you so sure that fear is always a signal to
re-confront the source of the fear? Does not fear sometimes simply say – get
out of here, now. It may seem less urgent to you if it is subtle psychic
energies which are being hurt with fear – that this just says ‘confront
your fear, push yourself’. But what if you are actually damaging subtle
psychic configurations whose fear is a result of not really being dealt with
and adequately incorporated into your present life-game? Maybe the answers are
closer to this corner of infinity than you have led yourself to believe. Only
you can answer that, not I nor anyone else.