Introduction to Salvia divinorum
originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and has been cultivated and used
for centuries by the Mazatec people for healing and religious ceremonies. It
is a powerful visionary herb, or "teacher plant", in shamanistic terms. When
ingested properly, and under the appropriate conditions, it produces in the
user a state of "divine inebriation". Salvia divinorum is in a class by
itself, so it is difficult to compare it with other psychoactive substances.
It is a unique and mysterious visionary herb.
Salvia divinorum is a
type of sage (genus Salvia). Approximately 1000 species of sage are known to
exist. However, Salvia divinorum is the only type known to induce visions.
It is of the very large Labiatae family of plants. Although the effects of Salvia divinorum are vastly
different from those of alcohol, it profoundly impairs one’s ability to
drive and decreases coordination. Do not
drive or operate machinery under the
influence of Salvia.
Salvinorin-A is the
chemical substance responsible for Salvia’s psychoactive properties. It is
not an alkaloid; it is a neoclerodane-diterpenoid. Therefore, it is not
chemically related to any other psychoactive compound. Although
non-addictive, pure Salvinorin is extremely potent. It is the most potent
naturally occurring psychoactive substance. There may be a reverse tolerance
phenomenon, in which repeated use results in decreased dosage requirements.
There are no known heath risks associated with using Salvia. Salvia is not a
stimulant, sedative, narcotic, or tranquilizer. Like other entheogens, it
can induce visions, but it works very differently from every other known
entheogen. Until recently, it was not known exactly how Salvia affected the
brain, as Salvinorin-A does not have any actions on the receptors
responsible for the
activities of classical hallucinogens. Salvinorin-A has now been identified
as the first known naturally
occurring nonnitrogenous opioid
selective agonist. Salvinorin-A is chemically unique, and is not a
chemical analog of any known substance.
Salvia is a
consciousness enhancing herb that can be used for vision quests and healing
rituals. Given the correct setting, it allows one to experience visions. It
is an herb with a long tradition of sacred uses; among these is deep
meditation. It is best when taken in a quiet, dark room, or a peaceful,
secluded outdoor setting. It is taken in silence, or perhaps with soft,
soothing music playing. Anything grounded in this world will only prove a
hindrance for those who are serious about their journey with Salvia.
Distractions such as television, or idle background chatter from others
present in the room, are not favorable to the Salvia experience.
Salvia journeys range
in intensity from very subtle to intensely powerful. This is true whether
smoking or chewing the leaves. The strength of the session will depend upon
the way one takes it, the quantity taken, and one’s unique body chemistry.
Salvia experiences differ from those caused by other visionary herbs and
drugs and choosing Salvia over these has many advantages. The primary reason
among these is that no one has ever experienced a fatal or injurious
overdose of Salvia. Furthermore, one needn’t worry about becoming addicted,
or the journey lasting too long. Salvia will almost never produce adverse
side effects or hangover.
Because Salvia alters
perception and behavior, it should never be used in public. Make sure that a sober
"sitter" is there to insure a safe and comfortable experience. When
smoked, the effects of Salvia are felt quickly, in less than one minute.
When chewed, the first effects are felt after about 15 minutes. After about
30 minutes, the full effects should be realized. Typical Salvia experiences
last 5 to 10 minutes on average, with noticeable after-effects lasting up to
1/2 hour. The only reported hangover symptoms from an experience are mild
headaches. Sweating during the experience is also commonly reported. If
smoked, it is likely to irritate one’s lungs; although Salvia’s smoke is
mild when compared to that of tobacco.
A water-pipe may
be used to smoke the dried leaves, which must be smoked hot (vaporized). The
smoke must be inhaled quickly, and held deeply in order for the Salvinorin-A
to take full effect. Salvia should not be smoked in cigarette form because
Her leaves need to undergo combustion by means of a much hotter flame than
an ordinary cigarette lighter. For this, we have found that an
electrically charged, butane "torch" type lighter
To smoke Salvia
correctly, hold the flame directly over the leaves of a medium sized bowl of
a short pipe or water pipe. Draw it down into the leaves, igniting them for
the entire duration of the inhalation. The amount used will vary from person
to person. General starting guidelines are:
- Raw leaf – 3 to 4 inhalations
- 5X – 2 inhalations
- 10X + – 1 inhalation
guidelines will need to be adjusted to each individual’s preference and
tolerance. Make sure that a sober person is in attendance, particularly
during the first session, since during the experience, one could drop the
pipe or lighter, causing burns or a fire. About 5 or 6 minutes after smoking
Salvia, the effects will gradually begin to subside. The total duration of
the experience is approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour, if the lingering
feeling of relaxation is included in the total time.
A sitter should
remember, foremost, that no matter how unusually a Salvia user is behaving,
Salvia journeys are relatively short-lived. Don’t panic if someone is having
a difficult experience. Just keep the person safe from harm and wait it out.
Strive to keep the matter private. Within an five to ten minutes, the
effects will start to wear off, and the person will return to their usual
self again. It is reassuring to hold onto this knowledge if things seem to
get complicated. It’s a fair certainty that having experienced Salvia
divinorum for oneself will enhance one’s ability to supervise others during
their vision quest. Experiences with other visionary chemicals or plants
will only be partially helpful. Remember, again, that Salvia is very
different from any of these.
These guidelines have
been designed for maximum safety and minimal confusion and are intended both
as an educational tool and as a convenient reference for those who desire a
safe and fascinating meditative aid. Please respect our wish that Salvia
divinorum be approached with caution, appreciation, and wisdom and may
Salvia, Herself, respect all those who partake of Her leaves and guide them
along their own spiritual path.
Mazatec Garden describes the common
uses of many herbs. This is for informational purposes only, as we are not
advising or prescribing herbs for any specific medical condition or for any
specific use. Distribute this information freely.