I don’t blog much about using entheogens in my practice, but it is something that I’ve been doing more of recently. Specifically, flying ointments. I own three jars of different flying ointments, all made by Sarah Lawless (The Witch of Forest Grove) and sold at her store, the Poisoner’s Apothecary.
I’ve used the Witches’ Ointment and the Mandrake Ointment with no ill-effects. Last night I decided to try Porta’s Ointment, which contains belladonna, datura, and henbane (as well as mandrake).
I put on a vinyl glove before using my finger to apply a very small amount to the inside of my left arm. The only medication I’m on right now is Zoloft, and so far as my research tells me there are no adverse interactions between Zoloft and the active chemicals in belladonna, datura, henbane, or mandrake.
I sat on my bed and got out my journal and started recording my experiences as they happened. I’ll relate the ones that are legible for you below (verbatim).
- instant sort of dry, desert lime/eucalyptus/mentol feel in back of throat
- warm at application spot
- taste chocolate on tongue tip
- tingling in feet
- tasted mint?
- i can hear all my body’s processes; or see them; or just — know
- hearbeat slowed? or more paranoia?
Sometime soon after that I fell asleep. Possibly not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I was exhausted and I’d fallen asleep before while under the effects of the Mandrake Ointment, with no problems. What, as they say, was the worst that could happen?
At this point in the story I’d like to make abundantly clear: none of this is Sarah Lawless’ fault. I do not point any blame nor responsibility her way, and that is not what you should take from this post. Her products are trustworthy and probably the safest flying ointments you’ll find for sale online. I did not suffer an overdose of belladonna; I simply had an adverse reaction to it. (Or the datura or henbane; I’m not actually sure what it was that caused my symptoms.) I also have adverse reactions to morphine, and they’re quite similar to what I went through last night and today. I think there may be a connection there.
I’d also like to note symptoms from earlier in the day, before I tried the ointment. Ache in left arm and neck, possibly from repetitive motion strain or sleeping on it wrong, and diarrhea, for no fucking reason. I’ve been having that off and on for a few weeks now. No clue what’s causing it; doesn’t seem to be any one type of food.
I woke up after three hours of sleep. I felt too warm, I needed to pee, I was having trouble breathing, and my heart was beating too fast. The ache in my arm and neck had spread and become worse; instead of being a sometimes thing that twinged when I moved wrong, it was now constant; instead of being localized to the joints, it was now all up and down my arm. There was also an ache in my upper abdomen, on the same side.
I decided to get up and at least relieve my bladder. It hurt to move. I felt disoriented. My dreams had been vivid and strange, and I of course can’t remember a thing about them now. I felt dizzy, and nauseated.
After the bathroom, I decided to stagger out to the living room, where my laptop was, so I could Skype the Ogre. My paranoia was freaking out; I was convinced I was going to die and was a heartbeat away from dialing poison control or 911. I called the Ogre because my boyfriend is a Vulcan, and I knew I could count on him to give me rational, logical advice.
We talked. I told him my symptoms, clearly and detailed, he did research for me and determined that I probably wasn’t dying, but if symptoms persisted and/or got worse that I should call poison control and/or the nurse’s hotline and/or 911. I agreed to this.
Then I vomited five times and shit myself. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to bring a bowl with me to the living room.
After getting myself cleaned up (which is so fun after that sort of event, let me tell you), I realized I felt a lot better. I still had most of the symptoms, but they had lessened.
I stayed awake, chatting on Skype with the Ogre, for several hours. I ended up sleeping for another three hours, between 10:30am and 1:30pm, and woke up with the aches and pains worse again. I’ve discovered the best way to ease the pain is to sit in my recliner and have my arm tucked up to my side and my neck slightly tilted to the left. I may have to sleep this way.
I’ve had several glasses of water — probably working on my third Brita filter jug by now — and I’ve avoided fatty foods as much as possible. I’ve pretty much been eating bread when I get hungry. The bowl remains by my side. My vision is sort of blurred, and I’m exhausted.
Even though this was probably one of the worst self-inflicted experiences I’ve been through, I’m grateful for it. It taught me something important about myself.
It taught me that I really do want to live.
When I was lying in bed, having just woke up, and thinking Oh gods, this is it, I’m going to die, the thought terrified me. I thought about never being able to hug Tyee the wolf-dog, or my mom, again, and it shook me to my bones. I thought about leaving the Ogre behind, and I wanted to cry. Half the reason I got up and called him was so that if I was dying, I’d be able to talk to him one last time.
This may not be a revelatory experience for anyone else, but for me it was. After battling depression and suicidal thoughts, feelings, impulses, and attempts for just under two decades, learning that you do really want to live is…well, life-changing.
I’m not truly ready to die. I always thought I was, but I learned for sure last night — I’m not.
I offer my thanks to the spirit of belladonna, for teaching me that.
And I retire my jar of Porta’s ointment. I’ll stick to the mandrake and thujone/mugwort ones from now on.
Note, pre-emptively: I really don’t want the comments on this article to fill up with “Well that was stupid!” or “Drugs are bad, mmm’kay” or anything else similar. I’m an adult, I accept the consequences of my actions, and I don’t need lectures from anyone. Thank you.