Reflections on Salvia Divinorum, Danger, Morality and Prudishness
It’s been a couple of days since I took the recommended dose of salvia divinorum (2 inhalations of salvia smoke, ten times) and recorded the results for a podcast (part 1 | part 2). I’ve been thinking about it in the back of my mind since, and have just a few reflections upon it that I’d like to share.
Salvia divinorum is clearly not absolutely safe. If I had taken the salvia in a highly public place, I could have been taken advantage of. If I had tried to drive, I would have wrecked the car. If I hadn’t been marking off the hits I’d taken as I went, I could have taken too much and gone a bit around the bend. You could say exactly the same things about alcohol.
The effects of salvia divinorum I felt were mood enhancement, distraction, and sensory distortion (some added sense of depth, a feeling of lift, some sense of immobility, and interesting colors appearing around the edges of objects). You could say exactly the same things about alcohol — except for the sensory distortion. So if you wanted to slip on a virtual reality helmet (or play video games) and drink a few Coronas, you’d be in a similar (if not the same) state.
There is not a big moral movement against people drinking a few Coronas and using virtual reality helmets or playing video games. There is a big moral movement against people taking hallucinogens. Why? With regard to consistency, I have no clue. Tossing considerations of consistency aside, I — no, I still have no clue. It might be that people in this country have a problem with other people messing and tinkering with their perceptions of the world around them. But, then, why no problem with virtual reality helmets? It might be that people in this country have problems with departures from the empirical reality we commonly perceive, to an experience in which what one person sees as real is not what the rest of us see as real. But, then, why were so many people willing to swallow Bush’s patent malarkey? Why do so many Americans participate in organized religion?
When it comes down to it, I don’t understand what the big deal is about someone smoking a bit of (legal) weed. I can’t fit it into any part of the American moral sensibility, except that part promoted by the Puritans and the Prudes: Joy is bad. Fun is bad. Glee is bad. Exploration is bad. You are a bad dog. So slap that glum face back on and get to work, because The Lord is watching.
Is that it? Are we just a nation of hopelessly constipated Prudes?
Or am I unable to see the obvious reason why such experiences are a Bad Thing, to be avoided or, if engaged in, to be whispered about in shame? If so, help me out. Explain to me why I am such a Bad Dog.