FAVORITE USE(S): For the induction of powerful, visionary dreams.
FAVORITE TIME(S): Early in the morning, before breakfast
This amazing South African plant is one of those dream herbs that is only recently beginning to come in to the public eye. I stumbled across it when researching other dreaming herbs, and unfortunately have not been able to find all that much information about it since. I was able to find out that this beautiful plant, and its root are regarded by the Xhosa people of South Africa as a holy teacher plant. They call the root undlela ziimhlophe (which translates to ‘white paths’ or ‘white ways’), and they use it to induce vivid and prophetic lucid dreams, especially during the initiation ceremonies of shamans.
One of the things I found most interesting about this root, and about other African roots that are said to induce lucid dreaming, is that it is specifically linked with communication with the ancestors. Perhaps this is because it appears that many African indigenous peoples believe that the ancestors are best contacted through the dream state. What really surprised me, though, was the number of reports from Western people working with the plant who indicated feeling some level of connection to their past and their ancestors when working with Silene capensis.
Actually, my personal experience with S. capensis did eventually end with a similar sort of dream! I started working with S. capensis on a daily basis, taking it before breakfast, as it takes the alkaloids a very long time to travel through the blood stream. At first I didn’t notice much at all, maybe a few extra vivid dreams here and there, but nothing spectacular. However, after a week or so I started to notice a marked increase in lucid dreaming. I didn’t feel any sleepier than normal, or more lethargic, and if anything, I was sleeping more soundly and consistently than before I started working with the root. However, it seemed as if my dreams were becoming deeper and more vivid with each passing night. I remember one particular evening I dreamed that I was having a conversation with my grandfather, who has been dead some time, and I was asking him for advice about what direction I should take my life in. He provided me with answers which, when I woke up, I found to be very meaningful. So, perhaps there is something to be said for the ability of Silene capensis to connect one with the ancestors through the dream state!
The chemistry of S. capensis is unknown, but it appears to contain saponins, which would explain both the unique reaction it has with water, and its dream inducing effects. The Xhosa say that if one keeps a question in mind before gong to bed, one of the ancestors will appear in a dream and provide an answer. From my experience, and from other reports I have read, the effects of S. capensis seem to be at least as strong as those of Calea zacatechichi, and that there are no negative side effects, unlike the ‘hangover’ some individuals seem to experience with other dream herbs. I definitely found that working with this root improved my sleep over time, made it much easier to remember my dreams, and made them feel more vivid and prophetic. The results of working with this root over time are very, very powerful, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in exploring vivid and lucid dreaming.
HOW TO PREPARE/RECIPE: To this day, it appears that the Xhosa prepare Silene capensis by powdering the root and drinking the powder with water on an empty stomach. I have found that about 200 to 250mg of powdered root is sufficient for inducing vivid, divinatory dreams.
There are several methods that I have used to preparing S. capensis for consumption. The first method of Silene capensis preparation is to mix a half of a teaspoon of dried Silene capensis powder with a half a cup of water. This should be taken early in the morning, before breakfast. Once you feel hungry, you can eat as normal. The second method is to mix a heaping tablespoon of dried root powder with two cups of water and blend until a froth forms. I then consume the froth until I feel “full”. I have not found that either of these methods is particularly superior to the other, although I did find that drinking froth was quite a bit more entertaining. The taste from either preparation is not particularly noticeable or negative, so I have never found it necessary to sweeten my S. capensis beverages.