I like Terrence McKenna's term "heroic doses".... which he uses to describe what is necessary for achieving shamanic-level psychedelic visions. This is a clear distinction between "recreational" drug use and "shamanic" or "spiritual" use.
For example, its perplexing to hear people boast of taking Ketemin at a party and then dancing... My few experiences with Ketemin were in Nepal and it was a completely out of body experience-- definitely no chance of dancing or talking.... Perhaps I took a much bigger dose than most people do??
Another interesting tidbit from McKenna that I liked: he mentions that another distinction between recreational and shamanic use is that the neo-shaman approaches the experience with a great deal of respect and awe..... and even dread. This certainly describes the experiments with the salvia extract. It takes considerable time (weeks) to psyche myself up for the session. Though I have never had a "bad trip", I find the power of salvia to be very unnerving..... and the visions are thoroughly bizarre.
So bizarre that I had thought them unique, until I came across an obscure quote from an old colonial anthropologist. He writes that the Indians (in Mexico) who use Salvia regularly cite visions of "spiritual dwarves". Meanwhile, Terrence McKenna writes of "elf-infested space".... yet another parallel to the strange "PeeWee's Playhouse Micro People" that visit every one of my salvia visions.
Just what the hell is going on? McKenna believes that certain plants open a doorway ... that these beings are real and are trying to communicate. I'm reminded of that Richard Gere movie, "The Mothman Propechies", when I read McKenna's comments.
Of course, maybe its all crazed speculation.... probably is. But it is certainly an interesting phenomenon..... and damned more engaging than TV and Wal-Mart.
[At the moment, Salvia is completely legal and can be bought on the internet. Check out the Herbal Shaman link on the sidebar. Also, I highly recommend scanning the Erowid site (see sidebar) and reading about salvia before trying it. I recommend the 10x extract. Finally, use a sitter (a friend to sit with you and assure that you remain safe).]