In Salvia's Defense
On Monday the New York Times posted a piece about the Arizona shooting suspect Jared L. Loughner and his link to the legal psychedelic substance known as Salvia Divinorum. Although the Times started the piece by clarifying that they are not suggesting that his use of the hallucinogenic herb had any direct correlation with his violent mental breakdown, they did make it easy to draw such conclusions.
To blame the herb itself while ignoring whether our culture even utilizes the plant in a "correct" way by taking it out of its sacred and serious context, and polluting it with foreign chemicals to "enhance" its effects, is leaving out half the story. In the case of Saliva, when used in a native setting, the plant is moist with life, not dried out like in U.S. production. Its green leaves are chewed or made into a tea by the Mazatec shamans (which the Times did care to report). These are people who have incorporated the uses of the plant in a ritualized context, and are working with the plant, exploring and nourishing their souls and expanding their consciousness. But such acts require work, and this practice is extremely difficult to come by in the U.S., where typical usage stems from a polluted and stigmatized point-of-view, so much so that it is difficult for true work to be distinguished from recreational play, where fear is amplified and such actions are vilified.
In this case, let us recognize the fact that an individual caused this horrific act, whether or not he was motivated by other forces, and in this regard, by seeing our shadow, we can live in an interconnected light as individuals.
Image: "Healthy Saliva Divinorum" by Halcyon_Daze- on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet