In my previous posts, I've looked at a lot of potential medical applications of Salvia; but now I want to return to the consciousness-altering effects of the plant. After all, when this entheogen was first discovered, it was being used in a religious context by the Mazatecs of Central America (Valdes et al. 1983). Salvia divinorum was grown in highly guarded groves, with shamans and their initiates drinking it in a tea and chewing the leaves. These highly religious rituals were intended to induce visions of angels; hence the local name for the plant, "ska Maria Pastora", meaning "leaves of Mary the shepherdess". Modern recreational use of Salvia, commonly through smoking dried leaf, is often motivated by a desire to explore an altered state of consciousness or induce a spiritual epiphany (Baggott et al. 2010). This means that people separated by generations, cultures and continents have used Salvia for its consciousness-altering properties.
Salvia's effects on consciousness are so profound and unusual that scientists have started using them to study the nature of consciousness. Here I'll give an overview of a popular theory of how consciousness is organised in the brain, and how the effects of Salvia on consciousness lend support to this theory.Read More