Monday, November 28, 2005


I'd read a lot about this special plant--a perfectly legal member of the mint family--while researching shamanic practices. One night while websurfing during a particularly heinous bout of insomnia I read that folks have found relief for sleeplessness using the Diviner's Sage, and I figured I'd take the plunge.

Whoa, Nellie. Do not take this glorious plant lightly. I ingested a small amount of leaves as a quid (similar to a cheekful of chaw) last Friday, holding the saliva in my mouth for a good half-hour before swallowing the mass, and experienced an interesting voyage featuring brightly-colored red and lavender dancing lights. The plant kept me up really really late because my own guitar playing became curiously fascinating and I could not stop improvising. Then I slept for 7 hours, not waking once until 11am Saturday. I haven't slept so profoundly in months.

Sunday late I decided to smoke some, and packed the leaves into a small pipe. I exhaled as much air as possible, applied a lighter, and inhaled deeply. And forgot to exhale. I was in a rocking chair in the library upstairs, listening to gamelan music from Bali on CD, and leaned back as far as I could with my eyes closed. After what seemed four or five minutes I thought Man, I can hold my breath forever! There was none of that pressure or anxiety I normally associate with holding air in my lungs for an extended period. I started counting slowly and got to 80 before deciding I should just let the smoke out because I was worried some narcotic effect was masking my need for oxygen.

Then things went haywire. I opened my eyes just a tiny bit and could barely make out in the dim light the ceiling, which had become the underside of a pool. Each melodic and sensuous strike of the gamelon formed a ripple that spread slowly across the ceiling and down the walls. Ok, hold on a minute, I thought. Either the spirit of the plant will accept me or reject me. Curiously, while thinking such strange things I felt completely not stoned-out-of-my-fucking-mind. The ripples on the ceiling became snaky vortices of energy that twirled out of the walls toward me like tiny tornados; as they approached I closed my eyes and I felt them in my flesh. First they buffeted me vertically in two directions, then horizontally, as though I were on a cross. Something very powerful was exploring every fiber of my body, and every bit of consciousness. Then the vortices turned to electric plant fronds and began sweeping through me with an insistent force. Ok, I'm ready, I pleaded with the plant. I accept.

I was lifted slowly toward the underside of the ceiling, which still rippled like water to the music, and just as my nose approached the plaster I had a momentary doubt that I was prepared for this. Immediately I was back in the rocker and sitting up. There were no after-effects and I was of entirely sound mind. Total time elapsed, less than 3 minutes.

A lot of folks who try this have freaked out, and I can see why. The initial punch is quite surprising, as potent as any hallucinogen I did as a youth. Without past psilocybin/acid experience I might have been scared to death by my short and powerful vision as well.

Presumably my experience would have been longer had I not feared what the "spirit of the plant" had in store. Again, I slept like a zombie through the night.