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The Breakthrough

(Salvia divinorum)

The Breakthrough

PART ONE: The Background

It has been some number of years since the event I am about to describe, for only now do I feel urged to transcribe this call to awakening ere the magnitude and clarity of my recollection depart from me. And just so the matter is clear, while the act about to be described is no longer legally tolerated within the borders of my surrounding environment, their were no such criminal, criminalizing sanctions at the time of my experimentation.

I was seventeen at the time. I was weary of school, weary of life, and growing weary of the various religious philosophies I had hitherto been absorbing myself in to no avail of my particular dilemma. Eager to pierce the veil of the “life” painted before me by my everyday mental faculties, I had taken advantage of my father's disinterest and un-involvement with my existence to acquire a most unusual botanical specimen via the world wide web.

The specimen itself appeared extraordinarily modest, for, disregarding the frailty and lack of health the plant displayed when it arrived, it bore not a single distinguishing characteristic, no natural warning label to suggest the severity of the effect it would have upon my mind. The plant was hidden from my father, at first in my room, afterwords – when the plant had established its roots – I transferred it to the woods outside my house. By the time I had to bring it inside for the winter it had grown to a respectable size, and concealing it from my guardian proved impossible, though he showed little interest in solving the mystery of its appearance. This was, perhaps, partly due to the sage-like and altogether inconspicuous nature of the herb.

For months as the plant grew I would carefully collect and dry the leaves it deemed unnecessary and expelled. In the meantime, I read everything I could concerning my humble botanical companion and dabbled with the extract that had arrived in the same container. I learned that the name of the plant, Salvia divinorum, was meant to mean “sage of the priests”, while, in actuality, it translates as “sage of the ghosts”. But whether one name was more fitting than the other I could not discern. Smoking the extract merely resulted in a brief period of intoxication characterized by motionlessness (or rather a distaste for and difficulty with locomotion) and acute introspection. I could only hope the anecdotes I had read about describing a reverse tolerance would prove true.

PART TWO: The Experience

The night had finally come that I would compare the dried material of my own plant to the inconsequential extract I had tried on several uneventful occasions. Being around the time of 10 o'clock, my father had retreated to his own mental pilgrimage (slumber), and I ventured into the darkness outside my basement door. The underside of the wooden patio overhead shielded me from the prying eyes of the stars above, and the decorative beams that ran down perpendicular to it have always rendered to me the impression of prison bars.

While before I had utilized a crudely fashioned water pipe, I discarded the cumbersome apparatus in favor of a diminutive metal bowl, the chamber of said devise being somewhat smaller than a thimble. Having never tried any other “drug” before, and having only acquired a mild “buzz” from my prior experiences, I wasn't prepared for what followed my inhalation.

From one long breath of smoke the journey began in the fashion I had been accustomed to, only whereas the mild intoxication that had previously manifested as the climax of my adventures now appeared to have been only the first step of an uncountable number. Standing perfectly still and oblivious to my surroundings (or the mere fact that I had surroundings), my consciousness strayed into some vast void full of personalities and philosophical intercourse. Two voices in particular, one recognized as being feminine and the other masculine, engaged me in heavy discourse. I spent an eternity in this meeting of egos and had become fully dissolved in the acceptance of this state for reality, the same reality I surely must have always existed in. However, dissolved in this world as I was, the meaning and very nature of the exchange would shortly be forgotten from pure shock of what ensued.

As the diterpenoids were running their natural course and their influence upon me was being diminished (or so I thought), the female personality offered me the only bit of dialogue I can vaguely recall. The conversations taking place inside my head began to peter out, and the female voice politely told me that it was time to return to being “[my name]”. I was shocked, confused, and at a loss for the ability to imagine any existence other than the state I currently found myself.

[My name]? What is [my name]?”

And then the long breath that had started me on my way came to a close. A piece of smoldering leaf had traversed up the stem of the pipe and affixed itself to the tip of my tongue. The sensation sent my mind scrambling back to the physical body, showing me visions of what I can only guess would be what one might see while sailing through their own arteries at warp speed. Then time regained its normal pace, and I could see a hole of bright darkness before me. It had the appearance of a circular portal made from large, elaborate grey bricks. Through the opening of this portal I could make out what my sober eyes – pharmacologically dissevered from my perception – were gazing upon, so that I had the sensation of standing inside my own head and looking out through the holes of my own eyes as if they were but a screen or a window. Two figures stood before this opening, embracing and gazing out into my world, looking out upon those familiar prison bars. One was a woman, the other a man. They were both dressed in garments that reminded me of those worn by white-collar men and women of the 1960s. Both their complexions and traits were those of a dark skinned African people. My consciousness slid by these figures towards the opening. I met their gaze and then with unforeseen rapidity found myself forced through the window and into sobriety. I was outside my basement door, not an inch removed from where I had stood at the outset of my experiment. The experience itself couldn't have last more than ten minutes; my tongue would be sore for a week.

PART THREE: The Conclusion

Needless to say, the experience left me baffled to make sense of my ingrained notions of reality, although I was in no way incapable of acting the part of my former unenlightened self. 'Though I had sought answers and found only questions, I found myself better suited to face the challenges of the world, having been forced to experience (and cope with) the problems presented by “interpersonal” differences of context, subjectivity, and perception.

Perhaps one day, after I take the final plunge and solve The Great Mystery, I will discover any greater significance this experience might have had (for, due to other events and/or coincidences both metaphysical and concrete, I cannot, no matter how hard I try, shake the feeling that there is some great reason for my vision that transcends scientific explanation).

Shortly after, my father read a piece of sensationalist quasi-journalism that proclaimed Salvia divinorum “LSD in plant form”. The ridiculous absurdity of the article struck perfectly with the ridiculous, absurd character of my father, and immediately my specimen, having been deduced to be as much, was destroyed. I have since become thoroughly engaged in all manner of psychonautic practices; I have no criminal history; I was/am an “A” student; and I am now thoroughly convinced that the “war on drugs” is one of the greatest crimes ever (and still) committed against the human race.

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