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I beleive we lose a lot by not having rituals. When I was younger, I'd raid my mother's herb cabinet and my back yard, trying to make a potion or a philter, seeking my ignorant perception of enlightenment. After vomiting several times, and being trapped inside my bedroom, my mother thinking I was sick since I didn't dare tell her what I was doing, I stuck to burning dry mixes or grinding them up with the mortar and pestle my grandma gave me, and mixing them with cheap lotion. I never went anywhere, never achieved my goal, but I had a lot of fun. I still, in a strange way, crave rituals. When I was younger this sent me headlong into Wicca and the like, but those didn't quicte jive with me and my world view... I realize now nearly everything is a ritual. The candles I light before Owen and I make love on the fifteenth of every month, the day we first slept together, is a small ritual. The rose petals I leave on my grandfather's grave, and on the shelf in front of my two cremated uncles, that's a ritual. Even the way I mope and cry on day every fall, to mark the biggest lost I've ever expierenced, is a ritual. There's no grave marker, not even a name. I don't think finding out where medical waste goes and going there every year is a good idea, it bothers me terribly that, as far as the hospital was concerned, the tiny bean of life is the same as the blood and matter that flushed it out, against my will. Medical waste indeed.
I sat in the circle to the right of E-, on a couch cushion like everyone else. He explained to the four others what we were about to do while everyone took a piece of bread soaked in habanero pepper sauce that had been prepared before they came into the room and ate it. A glass bottle of water with the words "love" and "harmony" was passed around the group. E- began our chant, a deep, relaxing hum underneath a steady clapping. We had all experienced salvia divinorum before, but this time, we wanted to ritualize it, partly out of reverence for the plant's power, partly to help facilitate the kind of trance that helps one gain the most insight while under its effect, and partly... well, we'd rationalize it later. We were artists, philosophers, and friends, and the last thing that anyone expected to hear was someone calling out the ritual for being silly or pointless. The hot sauce was supposed to flush our minds with endorphins and give each of us a metaphysical landmark to help our navigation. However much awareness we had of the burning in our throats would be an indicator of how close or separated we were from our physical bodies.
E- started us off, smoking from one of the two grams of 10x extract that had been bought earlier that day from a store downtown and passing the pipe back to me to repack it, as I did for everyone. We continued chanting while E- immediately lost lucidity and starting laughing at his failed attempt to orchestrate a solemn salvia ritual. As the pipe was passed clockwise, everyone came to the same realization that the experiment was ill-conceived, though the giggling and frantic incoherant babbling didn't betray any regret on the part of the experimenters. "What were we thinking?" We knew how salvia worked. You have to receive as little stimulation as possible from the outside world as your mind breaks down and forms a new reality to explore. Even as little as an acknowledgement that someone's watching you can keep your mind tethered to the mundane world and unpleasantly mangled by the pull of the trip, so a gallery of drooling and babbling friends kept anyone from attaining enlightenment. Nonetheless, everyone took another hit and stumbled into the living room, though their minds were stumbling halfway in and out of bizarre worlds. The salvia was too strong for anyone to remain sane, but overstimulation was too prevalent to allow for a deep, meaningful trip within the ten minute window that salvia opens. Next time, it will be in silence, and each person will be left alone while they trip. People have a tendency to forget how things like gravity and language work on a hard salvia trip. How the fuck did we expect people to remember the etiquette of a 'ritual', much less adhere to it as our bodies became clumsy marionettes hanging from our very distracted and confused minds? Fuck that.
I remember moving, three dimensional fractals that took on the familiar shapes of American life. Cars, houses, picket fences, smiling faces, and all composed of hundreds of shimmering, colorful, oversized atoms that were vivid enough to be counted. But each vision was stretched out and repeating, slightly different each time, as if I were viewing it from outside of time, like unrolling a film reel to see the individual frames that make up a movie. It wasn't like when I was alone in a forest and smoked salvia. I wasn't spoken to by trees that told me the secret to life. It wasn't like when a shifting, sentient mass of water tried to tell me something important about my brother, and I could almost understand it if it weren't for the fact that it was talking so goddamn fast. No, this time all that I could grasp in the trip was familiar concepts entangling together as they were stretched out in the infinity of my mind. And in time, my perceptions shifted to a pattern, just as real and vivid, but static and cold. I shifted and felt my forehead rub against the carpet that I was staring at. I uncurled from the fetal position and became reacquainted with the room that I was in, which just a moment ago seemed as much of a fantasy as anything else that was manifesting in my mind. Then I ate a bunch of bagels, played a little guitar with E-, ran a roleplaying game, went to three parties, got drunk off of cheap wine, danced like mad with a crowd of college kids in a dimly lit basement, smiled at an endless sea of attractive girls, talked politics with a random dude at the top of my lungs while music was blaring, helped a random girl with her relationship problems, and slept in my coat on a friend's couch. It was a pretty good day.