Divination Card

Dale Pendell

But you can dry the leaves, thats the easiest thing to do. The dried leaves carry the smoking-ally.

First off, the plant is not at all obscure to her people. They know her and love her, or know her and dont love her (some think the plant devilish). Most of our (our meaning Western literate culture) current knowledge aboutSka Pastoracan be traced back to the visit of Gordon Wasson and Albert Hofmann to Maria Sabina. Most of our plants are also from this transmission. Several particulars of the Wasson/Hofmann/Sabina meeting account for some of the plants recessive reputation. For one, Maria Sabinas primary ally was the mushroom: she only used the little leaves when the children were out of season. But there are othercuranderoswho prefer the leaves to the mushrooms. Don Alejandro says that taking the mushrooms too often will make you crazy, but that the Virgin, who speaks through the leaves, is more gentle.

The poison has entered the Word. Words become stepping stones, a floating walkway to cross the chasms between.

from Sardis to DelphiWhy would someone want to consult an oracle? Why would someone seek a vision? Or its like talking to a therapist, to a counselor–the leaves are like thekalyanamitra, the spiritual friend. They can tell you things.Or make you eat your words.It is difficult to speak.

The best technique is to use the Val Salva maneuver, beginning by emptying the lungs of air and then layering the smoke until the lungs are completely full. Then hold the smoke in as long as you can. Release gently.

Completely unknown.Salvia divinorumrepresents an entirely new class of entheogen. A Novascreen receptor site screening sponsored by David Nichols discovered no binding inhibition for the forty reference compounds tested, covering all major known receptors.

The Ally:Questing for the muses spring, up some cold canyon,

It seems likely thatska Pastorawas once much more widespread than it is today. Cultigens generally have long histories, andSalvia divinorumis probably no exception. What is not clear is whether the decline of the plant began with the Spanish Conquest, or whether it was already in decline, and, if so, if the reasons were religious or political, or something else.

Holographic. Even a very tiny amount of smoke can reveal the whole panorama. Dimly, to be sure, but all there, just the same.

Its like heavy zazen, like after a very long period of sitting, the place you can get to there. Its changed my life, turned my life around. Things are really going well.

The leaves. The stems can be juiced.

Gordon Wasson speculated thatSalvia divinorumwas thepipilzintzintli, the Noble Prince mentioned in Aztec codices. One problem with this identification is that pipilzintzintliwas said to have both male and female varieties while ourska Pastorais, botanically speaking, perfect. The Aztecs were skilled botanists and surely knew the difference between male flowers and female flowers. But it is also possible that the reference to gender is metaphorical, relating to nonanatomical properties of the plant, rather than to dioeciousness. There are some known examples of such use of gender, so Wasson may indeed be correct. It would be extraordinary if a plant of the power and stature ofska Pastorawere not well known to the Aztecs.

It just gives you where you are. Wherever you are, that is what you get. If you are in darkness, you fly through darkness. The light and the faces you see are the faces that you always carry, the mental faces, lit by the glow of mind. If you are with your lover, the plant is an aphrodisiac.

flesh, rhythms surging in the darkness–

Its not like being high, its more like being practical.

If your shoot is already rooted, or if you live in a humid climate, you can go ahead and plant it directly. Plant it in shade or scattered light, the leaves dont tolerate a lot of direct sunlight–Ive had some plants do well with almost no sun at all. If you live in the arid interior, you may have to mist the leaves regularly, or protect them with a humidifier.Ska Pastoraloves the redwood country, where it gets fog.

The dried leaves may be smoked. A large-bowled pipe, like a tobacco pipe, is about right. Rolled cigarettes are less satisfactory, because it is difficult to get a deep lungful of the smoke. Hold the smoke in. One to three lungfuls are enough.

An epic poem on plant humours, an abstruse alchemic treatise, an experiential narrative jigsaw puzzle, a hip and learned wild-nature reference text, a comic paen to cosmic consciousness, an ecological handbook, a dried-herb pastiche, a counterculture encyclopedia of ancient fact and lore.

If you would like information on ordering this book, please gohere.

There were things you didnt tell me. It took me a while to learn how to use it. I had to find the right dose. At first I was taking too much, six or seven lungfuls. Two or three is about right.

Ska Pastorais not a hallucinogen. That is not to say that it does not share some of the characteristics of classphantastica, it does. But there are also differences. The true hallucinogens all act on the 5-HT2 receptors. While the receptors of diviners sage have not been discovered, the experiential evidence points to some new receptor, or to some holographic inundation of mind. And while many hallucinogens will help ones golf game (or, as Dock Ellis proved, ones major league pitching), a certain muscular discoordination accompanies the sage inebriation.

There is something very pagan about it. I dont think you should tell anybody about it. Sex is fantastic. It sensitizes the skin. And it makes you want to go exploring. And sleep is great, Im sleeping much better. A. said that it relieved her menstrual cramps. And her attitude.

It is not uncommon for the Mazatecs to wash the leaves down with a swig of tequila. The tequila cleanses the palate and may aid in the final absorption.It lights up the mouth like a rainbow,

The effects are different, depending on how the plant is ingested, on whether you meet the ally on the Path of Leaves or by crossing the Bridge of Smoke. And also depending on whether the plant has accepted you. Thats metaphorical. Or is it? What neurochemical explanation could account for a threshold that, once breached, will still be open a year later, with no exposure to the plant intervening? Besides, neurochemical explanations are also metaphorical.The plant is self-concentrating.

Contrarily, sometimes the ally rolls over and crushes a person without warning, first visit. And a few people seem obdurately immune.

to see what it is like to program computers.The Plant:

Dale Pendell reactivates the ancient connection between the bardic poet and the shaman.

Its very intense, I call it a reality stutter, or a reality strobing. I think that having been a test pilot, and flying in that unforgiving environment with only two feet between our wingtips, helped to prepare me for this kind of exploration.

its like a pastel sunrise breaking in the east.There are strict taboos to keep for several days after eating the sacred leaves, such as not having any sexual contacts. It is also important to be ritually mindful when collecting the leaves, and also in cleaning up after the ceremony.

Hey, all of a sudden that stuff got strong! I used to use it for writing, but I cant do that anymore, its too strong. But it helps me with some of my business dealings: like it told me how to talk to the producers I had to meet with the next day. I smoke it with my girlfriend. We call it the balancer.

On the matter of intention, to quote Lao Tzu: Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak. Most sage people would rather not have their beloved ally spotlighted, or scheduled, or even much heard of or spoken about.This is the sneaky one.

Its anti-escapist, the opposite of escaping. Its not likely to be popular. It can be empathogenic, but its more telepathic than emotional. It lights up a persons soul: we hear/know what they really think, what they really want, what they really have done. Its ideal for couples work, for keeping in touch.

One intrepid researcher calledSalvia divinorumthe best-tasting psychedelic plant hed ever eaten. Good point.

Staggering. Lurching. But not like drunkenness: the mind is completely clear. The effect is reminiscent of kava.

the soldiers that serve the priests.

It is when you are really stuck, when you really dont know what to do, when you are nearing the edge of funk and self-destruction, that the leaves are the most powerful and the most precise. And symmetrically, for one not seeking engagement, for one seeking diversion, the plant is not much fun. Outside of her sacred context, la Pastorahas surprisingly little to offer.Its not a spectator drug.Indeed.

just-grows-and-grows sageEffects, (field report: a man, poet and writer):

Salvia splendenscontains salviarin and splendidin, both diterpenes, and we should expect more from other species. No psychotropic activity has been reported for those but that does not close the case–I heard background whispers of placebo effect for years when talking about the powers of driedska Pastoraleaves!

Diviners sage, ska Pastora, hojas de la Pastora, seers sage, la Maria.The Just This Plant. The Emptiness plant.Related species:

Six to ten or more leaves are chewed into a bolus and kept in the cheeks. The absorption is through the buccal membranes. Sieberts experiments (Siebert 1994) with the juice of the leaves demonstrate conclusively that most, if not all, of the power of the leaves is deactivated in the stomach. In Sieberts experiments, those who swallowed the juice quickly and then rinsed out their mouths with water experienced no entheogenic effects, while the group that simply kept the juice in their mouths and never swallowed it were all affected strongly.

On thePharmako/Poeiamandala, I put the little leaves on the path betweenphantasticaandinebriantia, and name itexistentia. Byexistentia, I do not mean anything Cartesian, nor even David Bohms separate-from-self implicate order, but mean that which precedes essence.Its a personal thing. Existence.

She has many epiphanies. Not all of them are shy, and not all of them are she. One person encountered the Ally as a giant(an immeasurably ancient giant wearing a belt of human skulls. The giant looked directly at this person. The giant wanted to know why he had been summoned. The giant did not want a trivial answer.

Unknown until recently, and still far from understood. In 1982, Alfredo Ortega and his associates isolated a bicyclic diterpene, C23H28O8, from material gathered in Oaxaca and named itsalvinorin. Another group, led by Leander Valdes at the University of Michigan, independently isolated the same compound and named itdivinorum. Because Ortega published first, the namesalvinorinhas precedence. Neither author tested salvinorin for human activity, but recent tests by Daniel Siebert and others, myself included, have proved the psychoactivity of salvinorin beyond further doubt.

Salvia divinorumcontains no alkaloids. In screening plants for psychoactivity, plants that do not contain alkaloids are routinely thrown away. Clearly that approach is too hasty.

I smoked it every couple of days for two months. I hate to say this about a plant, but Im in love with it. Its remarkable. It took six or seven tries before anything happened, almost like it was laying down pathways or something.my rootlets, my neural rootlets . . .Then, all of a sudden, a big whallop, and I mean big. Scary even. Its just remarkable. It is so present, so clear. My life has changed. It has shifted dramatically, and its because of the plant.

do nothing with such clarity!The Plant:

The ally loves the darkness. Light can interrupt and suspend even wildly cosmic and disembodied states, seamlessly returning the petitioner to the mundane. Sometimes it is necessary to turn on the lights to attend to something or someone, a child perhaps. What is amazing is how immediately the interdimensional space reasserts itself when the lights are again put out.The essence of the Path of Leaves is just a few friends sitting around in a dark room, perhaps drinking a little beer or tequila. Some talking. Maybe some singing or chanting. To how many people does that sound like a good time?What a joke! No wonder some people cant stop laughing.Or maybe the darkness is to keep others from looking in.It may always have been a cultish plant, something on the edges.La Maria is shy. She needs the darkness to illuminate the Logos.Or maybe the nighttime tradition is to avoid interaction with the rootless. The Ally will take you beyond the little social games that sustain the daylight. You will see the rigidity, but you may not see the importance of sometimes playing along. An uncompromising insistence on the absolute could get quickly boorish.Besides, daytime you have a job and have work to do.Effects:

One of the active ingredients ofSalvia divinorum, salvinorin, can be extracted from the leaves. Valdes and his gr

There are rumors that the seers sage may grow wild on some of the less accessible plateaus in Oaxaca, but this is unconfirmed. Her people grow the plant beneath coffee trees, or along streams in ravines. They reportedly do not grow it next to their homes.at night, it might envelop the house . . .The plant is very patient.

It is so much what it was, unequivocal. It wasnt like it was a high, its just Mind. Its so honest! I feel like I was recruited, like I was enlisted.heh, heh, heh, . . .It has to do with specificity, the differentiation of form. Every form is filled with its own luminosity of detail. And this is true emotionally also, of my own emotions. Even the days in between the days I smoked I still felt I had this direct access. Its like the feeling after a meditation retreat, the post- sesshin feeling.

Effects: (field report, a man, sculptor):

Effects (field report: a man, inventor and painter):

I still prefer chewing and swallowing, if only from a sense of tidiness and tradition. Chewing with your cheeks full keeps the material in motion and insures that all parts of the mucosa are constantly bathed with sage leaf. More than once it has seemed to us that it is the stems, those chewy, chewy stems, that finally push it all over the edge.

Dale Pendell has graciously agreed to share this, thechapter from his extraordinary book:Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft.Published by Mercury House, San Francisco, 1995. There is a tremendous amount of depth in this piece of writing. Every time I read it I discover something new. Pendell has distilled the essence of theexperience into a vessel of poetry.

I mean maybe Im making all of this up. Maybe it was just oregano, but I call it my sweetheart.

Other compounds in the fresh leaves may act synergistically in creating the extraordinary and variable effects of this plant, perhaps by inhibiting the lytic action of an enzyme or of the digestive juices.

Effects: (field report, a woman, painter and poet):

The main barrier to fertility, according to Reisfield, occurs after the pollen tube reaches the ovary. But he was unable to determine whether the infertility was due to inbreeding depression, a condition not uncommon among plants with a long history of human relationship; hybridity; or some delayed-action effect of self-incompatibility. IfSalvia divinorumis indeed a hybrid, the parents are long lost in poisonous prehistory–Reisfield knows of no two sages that would account for the morphological features ofla Maria.

have consciousness, but no souls. For some of them,

That such an ordinary looking plant, kind of succulent and without any alkaloids, can be as subtle and effective as the seers sage is, causes one to wonder about other green plants–that perhaps there are other such, sisters to this sage, waiting for someone to give them the time and attention they deserve.

Contrary to written loreon Salvia divinorum, the leaves can be dried. If you grow the plant, you may only have enough leaves for fresh ingestion in the summer and fall. I cut my plants back in the wintertime–in case it freezes. I have had little success with freezing the leaves, or juicing them and freezing the juice. Maybe it would work. I just find the juice harder to use than the leaves.

Frequently people experience little effect from the leaves in their first meetings. The power of the leaves seems to slowly build toward a climax with successive ingestions. Diaz was the first to comment in print on this phenomenon. He drank the juice of the fresh leaves six times and noticed an increased awareness of the plants effects each time.

Suddenly I felt completely disoriented. What a fool I was to be out in public. How did I think I could handle going to a movie? The question How high does it get you? is meaningless. Its nonlinear. Only the threshold was significant, and the threshold could be so subtle!

But just because the plant is not a party-goer, is not harmful, and is not abused anywhere in the known world does not mean that it would not be persecuted by those who rule by fear, if they knew of its existence. So in summation we will reiterate the early assessments of the plant and agree that it is a minor psychtropic of well-deserved obscurity.Now say mum.Mum.

We like some of those animal things, like mating.

Salvia sonomensiscontains a camphorlike substance that is a mild stimulant when smoked.Salvia officinaliscontains thujone, constituting in some varieties over fifty percent of the essential oil.But those plants dont really have anything to do with me.True.

With the leaves there is no place to hide. That is why it is good for finding lost objects or for identifying thieves. It is a poison that illuminates poison: use it to find dis-ease.

The plant will thank you for some feeding. She needs water, lots, but be careful about root-rot in pots. Also, the plants wither if they get root-bound. Protect them from frost.

Its like a mirror with no frame: some dont see it at all; some do, but dont like what they see.Its like cat paws, soft cat paws pressing, or like a bunch of bird tongues lapping the mind. Or like tiny fingers, the way ivy fingers reach out to climb a wall . . .Some say it is a sensual and a tactile thing. Some say its about temporality and dimensionality–that its about time travel. Some say its about the Root Energy Network, or that it is about becoming a plant.Bird tongues lapping the mind. We timed them: they hit four or five times per second. It may be the theta rhythm.How Taken: The Bridge of Smoke:

Recent studies by Aaron Reisfield (Reisfield 1993) demonstrate thatSalvia divinorumis not completely self-sterile, as had been assumed: the plant can produce viable seeds, though very infrequently. Nor did Reisfield find any significant difference in the production of viable seeds from flowers pollinated from the same clone and those pollinated by plants collected from different localities. It is of course possible that there is little genetic difference between any specimens ofS. divinorum, even those that today grow in widely separated areas in Oaxaca.

Some people experience hyperthermia, a warming of the body. Nausea is rare, though by the eighth swallow of the leaves the gag reflex becomes overwhelming. Still, except for the swallowing part, almost nobody gets sick at the stomach.

Your body is the alembic.Smoking the dried leaves produces immediate effect. The effect of eating fresh material, while slower to come on, is a deeper and more sustained experience, often with strikingly colored visuals. Drinking tea made from dried leaves falls somewhere in between. (Salvinorin is practicably insoluable in water. The best way to ingest dried leaves is to soften them with some hot water, then keep the leaves in the cheeks just as with fresh material.)

Square-stemmed, winged margins, the stems hollow and succulent. The stems will grow to over eight feet if supported. Commonly they fall over, rooting where they fall. Axillary branches easily sprout from the nodes. The plant flowers when the days shorten: long graceful racemes of fragrant white flowers, the calyces deep lavender. I sprinkle the flowers into salads.

Salvia divinorumcontains a diterpene, salvinorin. SomeColeusspecies are rumored to contain similar compounds, but this is still unconfirmed (bioassay reports are mostly negative).

It seemed that as long as I left the quid in my cheek it kept getting stronger. I spit it out about one-thirty. Had an amazing time typing at my computer: it was like the typewriter from the movie Naked Lunch. M. drove me to the beach. I felt pretty much back to normal. Late in the afternoon we decided to go to a five oclock movie. We had some time before the movie and I strolled through a used book store. A couple of poetry books were on the display shelf. Picked up Tagore. How vacuous! All those high-sounding words but no substance. He had only read about it, thought about it. It was all lies! It was so clear. The book next to it was A. E. Housman. Dense, but legitimate. It was there. He did it through clues.

This plant is the great secret of our tradition.Not secret anymore!Few have heard of it. Fewer know what it looks like. Fewer still have ever met the sagely ally, yet the alliance forms invisible links wherever it goes, across continents and across oceans. The Ally blesses some, eludes others.

What we really are is a web of interconnections, the summation of all of our relationships, all the people we know and those we are still to meet. Its not that we are in the web, the web is what we are. Vowel sounds change the colors; pitch and tone alter the shape of the enclosing space; semantics create texture. Sentences become palpable things, they take visible and tactile form, flying or sinking.

of anything at all, but how many plants

In all of our Pharmako/Poeia, this plant is the hidden pearl. Poets, like vintners, love such surprises, and seek them out beyond their better known brothers and sisters: an unknown poet found in a faded chapbook with light in his verses, an obscure vintage the reviewers missed, dust-covered, but filled with mouthfuls of delight. The little leaves, hiding off in the mountains, have successfully avoided the front pages for four centuries.A Taoist sage, in another range of mountains, after many years of studying the secrets of alchemy with his master, feeling fully accomplished, descended the mountain to move into the world. When evening approached, he stopped at an inn. The people at the inn marveled at the light that seemed to hover about him–a sort of magical glow. The sage was chagrined, realizing that his studies were only half completed, and returned immediately to his teacher.To visit thehojas de la Pastorais to visit an oracle, and she should be approached with the same reverence.Caravans of gold, threading their way

stormdrain, up bloodvessels, canyonwalls of

Because of the quantity of material that must be ingested for diviners sage to be fully active, it occurred to me in a light moment that any plant would be entheogenic if one ate twenty-six whole leaves at a sitting. Thats a joke, but you cant really get the point until you eat diviners sage yourself.It is bitter, my brothers.Effects, Physical:

Reisfields observations strongly suggest thatSalvia divinorumis a hybrid. The pollen grainsof Salvia divinorumhave low viability, indicative of disharmonious parental genes. But low pollen viability is only part of the reason thatSalvia divinorumrarely sets seed. Even with hand pollination only 2 or 3 percent of the nutlets mature. Further exacerbating the problem of reproduction, in Mexico, the plant only flowers sporadically. Flowering seems to require more sun than is optimal for vegetative growth, so it is only plants growing on the margins of its normal habitat that flower at all.

People ask, If its really so good, why is it so obscure, why havent more people heard of it? The answer partly has to do with history, and partly with intention, and perhaps partly with the intrinsic nature of the plants effects.

the home of the leaves, their nest within

The plant is endangered by the forces of imperialistic religion, and has been for four hundred years, possibly longer.Her real name must not be told–

Consciousness has to do with energy and light. It is really very simple. Neither animals nor people have consciousness. It is plants that have consciousness. Animals get consciousness by eating plants.We like to walk around sometimes, and to see new places.

I used the Bridge of Smoke, laying out the cards. I had smoked lots of times before but this was the first time it really happened. An abyss opened. History opened. The manipulation of the cards by my hands seemed to amplify the effect. The cards fell perfectly. Each one revealed the details and development of my story with a uniqueness that was hair-raising. Then I remembered how Crowley had said that you have to get to know the cards as people. The instant I thought that, the bottom dropped out of the cards, the background of each card became a hole in the table, like an open grave. Then the little figures on the cards moved a little. They shook free and started floating about an inch above the top of the table. They were all standing up and looking at me, waiting for me to ask them something.

the soul: even consciousness needs a soul. The plants

Five or six small tokes do not produce the same effect as one large inhalation. The reasons for this are not clear. Perhaps the brain responds to salvinorin within seconds, with neurochemical defenses.

But all in the minds eye, not in the eyeball: an interactive lucid dream accessible to the will.I saw where thoughts come from, visually. Some were just forming–were seething in a kind of liquid surface, some of them went on and blossomed, became people and conversations . . .Poesis:

A true sage, like cooking sage. Mint family. There are a thousand species in the genus, and five hundred species in the Neotropical subgenusCalosphace, to whichSalvia divinorumbelongs. Many temperateSalviaspp. are adapted to xeric conditions, such as the black sage (Salvia mellifera), white sage(Salvia apiana) and purple sage(Salvia leucophylla) of the California chaparral.Salvia divinorumis a hydrophyte.

If you can just stop thinking about it.Salvia divinorumis what you get by crossing an entheogen with an atheist.

Thirteen pair of leaves, the stems all facing the same direction, are rolled into a cigar and eaten. That is the traditional way, the way of the Keepers of the Plant, the Mazatecs. The leaves are used the same way mushrooms are used, with candles (which are later put out), prayers, and singing. The ceremony is performed at night, in a darkened room. The darker the better. And the quieter the better: both light and noise have a way of dissipating the experience.

The Plant:Its faster than the mushrooms, and older.An extremely rare cultigen, found only at a few locations in Oaxaca. There are specimens in botanical gardens, and in a few private collections, but lack of genetic diversity is a concern.

sometimes its like it doesnt do much

I had heard that it was going to be mild, so I took a lungful and held it in, and was expecting to have to take many more to feel a mild tingle. But it just overwhelmed me. It was so intense, so immediate. I had tunnel vision, I couldnt see anything except this tunnel in front of me, like I was going to pass out. Everything enfolded. I didnt like it. It was too abrupt, too scary. I recall feeling that if someone had walked into the room I wouldnt even have been able to talk to them. It is not subtle.

that isnt enough.How Taken: The Path of Leaves:

Second, when Hofmann returned to his laboratory at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, he had brought some juice from theSalvialeaves back with him, preserved in alcohol. When this juice was deemed by self-experiment no longer to be active, Hofmann abandoned his intention to analyze the juice for its psychoactive principle(s). Hofmann reported that the unknown active ingredient must be unstable. This belief was incorrect but tended to inhibit further research for some years. My own reports on the effectiveness of smoking the dried leaves were dismissed by a number of my colleagues.

for almost five hundred years.Lastly, I think that some of the plants obscurity is intrinsic and will endure. How many really want to see? Most people are after the side effects, and in the matter of sensual side effects the little leaves are indeed a little sister to such a giant asCannabis.

Effects: The Bridge of Smoke:Over a period of several weeks, everything around me gradually became more intelligent.Pharmacology:

The Ally:There was no me, but there was no not-me.The most Zen of any plant ally excepting rice.

Her real name is closer to Medusa than to Mary.

For you, if you wantska Pastora,you will have to get it the same way everyone else has for the last two thousand years: from a cutting from someone who grows it.

The Ally:Once you see it, you know it

She can be shy. Sometimes she has to get to know you for a while, before she will come out and say hello. But once she appears, are there any who are more direct?

Note that while the dosage by ingestion is ten to thirty leaves, the smoking dose amounts to one or two leaves.Its the immediacy, the seamless immediacy . . .

Leave a Reply