There's an interesting new series of books out about shamanic plant medicines by Ross Heaven. Each title is about a specific teacher plant and is intended as an introduction to the subject with clear facts on ways the plant is used in shamanic practice, as well as the risks involved.
I picked up the book Shamanic Plant Medicine - Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seersbecause Salvia Divinorum is something I have myself used twice in the past, but found both experiences a bit confusing. I hoped the Shamanic Plant Medicine bookwould help me make sense of what happened.
The first time I tried Salvia Divinorum was many years ago at a music festival. My partner and I bought it at a legal herbal high stall one sunny afternoon when we were in a mood for experimentation, then smoked it in the comfort of my beloved old camper van. The effect - well, we both felt rather disorientated. It didn't last long, but wasn't pleasant either. We both decided it wasn't something we would ever try again.
Except that I did. The situation was entirely different, however. I was at a shamanic workshop on plant spirit allies. Although the plant spirit I was personally getting to know was Hawthorn, the workshop teacher asked us all to inhale the aroma of dried Salvia Divinorum before journeying with our ally. No, we didn't smoke it, drink it, eat it or consume it in any way - we just briefly smelled the aroma of the dried herb. Then our teacher started drumming and, clutching my sprig of Hawthorn by the hand, I was immediately off into the mists between the worlds.
Wow, that was fast working, I thought.
From my limited experience I agreed with what Ross initially has to say about Salvia Divinorum in his new book. He says Salvia has the power of "quickly and intensely shredding the veil which human beings have drawn over the nature of ‘true reality’ (whatever that may actually mean)".
But the case studies Ross covers in the book include far more alien landscapes than I encountered. One person "found herself in the body of a machine in an alien factory, like a giant multi-levelled mangle".
Ross states: "What is interesting is how frequently the same sorts of images occur and, indeed, how often the same type of language is used by people who have in most cases never met or heard the accounts of their fellows. The themes that emerge are consistently ones of alienation, alien abduction, of being part of an experiment which is unknown, unknowable and far bigger than us, of other universes and other dimensions."
I would have to say that I didn't encounter anything particularly alien. In fact, the world I found myself in was more faerylike. However, I had Hawthorne as my ally and guide, and Hawthorne is most definitely a faery tree.
After reading Shamanic Plant Medicine - Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers,I really don't think I would want to use Salvia on its own again. I would, however, recommend anyone who is interested in shamanic plants to read the book before even considering making their own experiments.
Publisher Moon Books says on its website: "The Shamanic Plant Medicine series acts as an introduction to specific teacher plants used by shamans in a variety of cultures to facilitate spirit communion, healing, divination and personal discovery, and which are increasingly known, used and respected in Western society by modern shamans as a means of connecting to spirit.
"Salvia is the shamanic plant of Mexico. It is known particularly for its divinatory powers but it also has the ability to heal and, more extraordinarily, in modern usage it provides access to inter-dimensional travel and the ability to move through time. The shamanic applications of Salvia are currently little known outside of Mexico but, along with Ketamine and Ecstasy, it has become one of the most popular ‘drugs’ on the planet among teenagers who have little or no understanding of how to use its powers in a positive and effective way or the potential dangers of using it recreationally. This book therefore serves as a much-needed introduction to this powerful plant."
Another book in the same series as Shamanic Plant Medicine - Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seersis Shamanic Plant Medicine - Ayahuasca: The Vine of Souls.
Note: This is a book review, not advice. Always consult a qualified medical herbalist before taking any herbal treatment.
Links and previous related posts
Shamanic Plant Medicine - Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers