Friday, December 10, 2010

The Use of Salvia Divinorum to Facilitate Lucid Dreaming

An Experience:

The previsionary state begins to take hold. As usual, I find myself in what appears to be a dark room, illuminated only by what I would best describe as a subtle black light effect. I do my best to relax and let my subconscious drive the ensuing lesson and experience. My visual perspective begins to rotate counter clockwise in a wide arc. When this rotational effect ends, a more developed scene manifests. I am in a room with three walls. The walls, floor and ceiling have only a rough outline to them and are glowing a cool bright white. There seems to be a profound sense of energy and well being associated with this coloration. It's a safe place and highly personal. I have a strong visual sense but no perception of physical form. I suppose one would say I am disembodied? What would normally be the rooms fourth wall is missing. In its place is a hole into outer space. Nothing more than blackness and stars as far as one can see. This scene remains stable for the next several minutes as my visual perspective then slowly shifts clockwise. The scene begins to dissolve. I remain in this heightened state of awareness for several more minutes before fully breaking from the scene and re-engaging consensual reality.


This was a recent experience I had with the magical herb Salvia Divinorum. Yes, you can read descriptions like this all day long on erowid if you have the time and motivation. But that is not the purpose of this article. Fundamentally, this is a site focused on dreaming and dream lucidity and I will not stray far. In fact, I will try to link the topics of Salvia and lucidity in a manner that I have not seen discussed by others. But first some necessary background.

I have used this herb in a responsible and exploratory way for about 4.5 years. The best source of information on the subject in general would no doubt be Daniel Siebert's sagewisdom site. I will forgo a summary of his key points and opinions. I will only reiterate that Salvia is to be respected. It is not fun, relaxing or socially facilitating in any sense. Many who try it dislike it immediately, considering the effect to be uncontrolled, frightening or just plain confusing. Others claim to be somewhat immune to the effect. Yet others find it to be a great aid in personal exploration and the generation of creative ideas. Still others, like myself use it to explore the bounds of human consciouness itself. Interestingly, this seems to be evidence that she chooses you and not the other way around. What does the experience "mean"? Frankly I am still forming my own opinions. I am not convinced that it's possible to draw a firm conclusion in that regard. If it is possible, it would probably take a lifetime. It truely is a complex experience.

I have been lucid dreaming regularly for a little over 4 years. I put a fairly significant amount of time and energy into reading on the subject of lucidity as well as a number of related areas. I am also quite knowledgable about lucid dream supplement theory and use it to great advantage. These efforts and focus are rewarded with maybe 20-30 lucid dreams per month. Some wonderful and others mundane. But at the core of this effort is my use of Salvia. It was responsible for motivating me to get back into lucid dreaming and it continues to play a role in my success. I am sure of it. It's actually fairly shocking to me that little work has been done linking salvia to lucid dreaming. After all, a full blown salvia vision can be quite similar to a lucid dream, or perhaps more precisely an out of body experience.

But how does Salvia support lucid dreaming? There are three main aspects to consider. Two facilitate awareness training. The other is a broad, rather heuristic claim I will make.

WILD Practice:

The first thing which should be striking about salvia is the nature of the transition from a wakeful state to a visionary one. In lucid dreaming, we are all familiar with the concept of a wake initiated lucid dream, or WILD. Frankly speaking, WILDs are tough to pull off. I can induce WILDs, but they almost always require a bias in my acetylcholine levels (e.g. by taking a mix of galantamine and choline). Even then, most of my WILDs would be characterized as OOBE's, with a vibrationary state followed by an entrance to my dreamspace in which it's a replica of the real life scene I just left (e.g. my bedroom). But of course there is the case of WILDing based on hynagogic imagery (HI). As many have experienced, the twilight state between awake and asleep is often preceeded by hynagogic flashes and even auditory hallucinations. It's quite natural, normal and does not require psycho actives to induce. One only needs to pay attention to their closed eyes field of vision when drifting off and perhaps try to stay alert during the process. But there in lies the key. Staying alert. Maintaining a balance between consciously aware and drifting into formal sleep. This should ring a bell so to speak with the process of drifting into salvia space. Now I refer more to the process of consuming 1-3 hits of a high potency standardized extract. My personal choice would be a 20X extract standardized to 72 micro-grams of salvinorin A per gram of leaf material. Large hits should be consumed as thoroughly and as fast as possible due to the short half life associated with this method of consumption. Have you used salvia and smoked it in this manner? Did you go from 0 - 60 in about 3 seconds? Hard to maintain control and focus right? A little hard to relax and just let your subconscious drive? Well isn't that process and those attributes much like a WILD transition based on HI? Now let's go back to WILDing. Even getting to the hynagogic state and transitioning to REM generally requires that one engage in this exercise later in their sleep cycle. Hopefully, the reader is aware that WILDs are almost impossible early in the evening due to the propensity to move between stage 1-4 sleep with little REM (stage 5) in between. So practicing WILDs becomes difficult. It's hard to get to the hypnogogic state and such practice is best done in the middle of the night. But practicing awareness, relaxation and subtle control of the salvia ramp up is possible on demand. I maintain that learning to control that ramp up, helps one negotiate the WILD transition. In fact, it probably helps with both HI based and vibration based WILDs. If this idea intrigues you, start experimenting. Try to master the wakeful/alert to salvia space transition. Leverage this mastery to improve upon your management of WILD transitions.

Control and Recall in a Non-Wakeful State:

Think about the dream state. It's driven by our subconscious. It's unpredictable. It is hard to control or apply logic in. It can be very hard to remember dreams upon waking, even though we were quite in the moment while still in the dream. Do these attributes sound familiar? Can we make the same claims about the salvia induced visionary state?

Much like salvia can be used to master WILD transitions, I maintain that it can also be used to create a greater intimacy and level of control with the dream world. It allows you to experiment with different visionary levels. First, practice using a small enough dose such that you get visuals, but also maintain full awareness and keen recall once you leave the vision state. Once that dose is mastered, step it up a notch. A larger dose and additional practice in maintaining awareness, mental clarity and recall once the experience ends. At some point, you will hit a dose where you begin to lose these abilities. From my experience, the first to go is full recall of the experience. It's essentially an amnesiac state. But over time, you should be able to better negotiate control, awareness and recall. You should be able to maintain these attributes for larger and larger doses. This practice should positively impact your ability to apply focus, logic and recall of the dream state.

This suggestion is not completely disimilar to the practices of Tibetan Dream Yoga. In dream yoga, the goal is to master lucidity, destroy negative karmic threads and improve ones overall mental accuity and condition during dreaming. It is believed this focus and ability can be carried with you upon death. At death, the mental training one has undertaken is expected to help them maintain focus, and in principle provides the ability to influence their reincarnation. They are not caught up in the fantasies associated with the bardo's of death. Rather, their mental training spills into this state. A similar though somewhat more mundane analogy would be the use of reality checks. Doing reality checks repetitively during the day improves awareness while awake, which hopefully creates the habit of awareness while dreaming. Same fundamental concept.

Mastering control, focus and recall in the salvia induced visionary state, should spill into other mental states, including the dream state. Again, practice with an open mind and sense of purpose.

Poking Holes in the Wall:

Well, figuratively speaking anyway. Why don't we lucid dream as part of our standard operating procedure? Why can't we pick up on PSI information with greater reliability? What are the b

arriers involved? Evolution I suppose? I can make arguements as to why neither is particularly productive toward the survival of the species in general. But what about the small p

ercentage of us interested in exploring the bounds of this reality?

However one chooses to conceptualize things, there appear to be certain barriers or walls in place that only facilitate certain states and information transfer in general. Let's model the problem as such. Let's form a mental picture. A first wall-A divides the conscious and subconscious minds. A second wall-B divides the subconscious and supermind. Info at the supermind level needs to travers two walls to get to the conscious mind. Here, I use the term supermind in the spirit of Robert Monroe. It is the impermanent portion of your mind. It transcends death. It likely has access to all psychic (M-band) information. It is represented by the dreamspace itself.

From a life experience perspective, it seems to me that wall-A and wall-B are filters. They let in some info, but not all. Information bubbling up from your supermind would have to cross two full layers to get to the conscious mind, in the form of a visual imagine, stray thought, gut feeling etc ...

I maintain that the use of salvia chips away at both of these walls. It creates a temporary merging of all three aspects of your mind. For that matter, lucid dreams yield the same effect, a merging of the different components of your mind. I would conjecture that using salvia weakens these walls, and has an effect on both the conscious reception of PSI information, as well as the cooperation of the conscious, subconscious and superminds. It helps to create a closer relation between these processes and in doing so facilitates lucidity. Lucidity itself, strengthens ones ability become lucid in future dreams and if one challenges themselves, becomes a stepping stone for deeper exploration. These pursuits compliment one another, and stengthen the overall experience. It forces us to deepen our interpretation of the salvia experience. It becomes one big counter dependent loop. One which strenghtens and becomes more complex and deepens over time.


So in summary, we've discussed three possible ways in which to use salvia to enhance lucid dreaming. But like all lucid dream facilitators or induction methods, people will have varying degrees of success experimenting with the methods herein. As with any method, give it a fair effort and period of time before you draw conclusions, positive or negative. If you choose to explore the use of salvia in this manner, please be responsible. This wonderful herb has received enough bad publicity and is poorly understood at best. But for those willing to take the time to work with it and explore its use in an intelligent manner, the rewards can be quite substantial. Only you will know when you get there.

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