1 LSD — My Problem Child Albert Hofmann Contents Translator's Preface Foreword 1 How LSD Originated 2 LSD in Animal Experiments and Biological Research 3 Chemical Modifications of LSD 4 Use of LSD in Psychiatry 5 From Remedy to Inebriant 6 The Mexican Relatives of LSD 7 Radiance from Ernst Jünger 8 Meeting With Aldous Huxley 9 Correspondence with the Poet-Physician Walter Vogt 10 Various Visitors 11 LSD Experience and Reality LSD - My Problem Child (c)1980 by McGraw-Hill Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company ISBN 0-07-029325-2 Note: LSD, My Problem Child appears in this library under the "Fair Use" rulings regarding the 1976 Copyright Act fo r NON-profit academic, research, and general information purposes. Reader s requiring a permanent copy of LSD, My Problem Child for their library are advised to purchase it from their book supplier.
2 Translator's Preface Numerous accounts of the discovery of LSD have been publishe d in English; none, unfortunately, have been completely accurate. He re, at last, the father of LSD details the history of his "problem child" and his long and fr uitful career as a re search chemist. In a real sense, this book is the insi de story of the birth of the Psychedelic Age, and it cannot a highly candid and personal in sight into one of the most be denied that we have here the signiflcance of whic important scientific discoveries of our time, h has yet to dawn on mankind. Surpassing its historical value is the immense philosophi cal import of this work. Never materialistic of the sciences, advanced a before has a chemist, an expert in the most Weltanschauung of such a mystical and transcende ntal nature. LSD, psilocybin, and the other hallucinogens do indeed, as Albert Hofmann asserts, constitute "cracks" in the edifice of materialistic ra tionality, cracks we would do well to explore and perhaps widen. As a writer, it gives me great satisf action to know that by this book the American reader interested in hallucinogens will be introduced to the work of Rudolf Gelpke, Ernst Junger, and Walter Vogt, writers who ar e all but unknown here. With the notable exceptions of Huxley and Wasson, English and American writers on the hallucinogenic experience have been far less distinguished and eloquent than they. This translation has been carefully overseen by Albert Hofmann, which made my task both simpler and more enjoyable. I am be holden to R. Gordon Wasson for checking the chapters on LSD's "Mexican relatives" and on "Ska Maria Pastora" for accuracy and style. Two chapters of this book—"How LSD Originated" and "LSD Experience and Reality"—were presented by Albert Hofmann as a paper before the international conference "Hallucinogens, Shamanism and Modern Life" in San Francisco on the afternoon of Saturday, September 30, 1978. As a part of the conference proceedings, the first chapter has been published in the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, Vol. 11 (1-2), 1979. Jonathan Ott Vashon Island, Washington
3 Foreword There are experiences that most of us are hesitant to speak about, because they do not conform to everyday reality and defy rati onal explanation. These are not particular external occurrences, but rather events of our inner lives, which are generally dismissed as figments of the imagination and barred from our memory. Suddenly, the familiar view of our surroundings is transforme d in a strange, delightful, or alarming way: it appears to us in a new light, takes on a special meani ng. Such an experience can be as light and fleeting as a breath of air, or it can imprint itself deeply upon our minds. h I experienced in childhood, has remained One enchantment of that kind, whic remarkably vivid in my memory ever si nce. It happened on a May morning—I have forgotten the year—but I can still point to the exact spot where it occurred, on a forest path on Martinsberg above Baden, Switzerland. As I strolled through the freshly greened woods filled with bird song and lit up by the morning sun, all at once everything is something I had simply failed to notice appeared in an uncommonly clear light. Was th st as it actually l ooked? It shone with before? Was I suddenly discovering the spring fore the most beautiful radiance, speaking to the heart, as though it wanted to encompass me bable sensation of joy, oneness, and blissful in its majesty. I was filled with an indescri security. I have no idea how long I stood there spe llbound. But I recall the anxious concern I felt as the radiance slowly dissolved and I hiked on: how could a vision th at was so real and convincing, so directly and d eeply felt—how could it end so soon? And how could I tell anyone about it, as my overflowing joy compelled me to do, since I knew there were no words to describe what I had seen? It seem ed strange that I, as a child, had seen lts obviously did not perceive - for I had something so marvelous, something that adu never heard them mention it. While still a child, I experienced seve ral more of these deep ly euphoric moments on my rambles through forest and meadow. It wa s these experiences that shaped the main of the existence of a outlines of my world view and convinced me miraculous, powerful, unfathomable reality that was hidden from everyday sight. I was often troubled in those days, wonderi ng if I would ever, as an adult, be able to communicate these experiences; whether I would have the chance to depict my visions in poetry or paintings. But knowing that I was not cut out to be a poet or artist, I assumed I would have to keep these experiences to myself, important as they were to me. Unexpectedly—though scarcely by chan ce—much later, in middle age, a link was established between my prof ession and these visionary experiences from childhood. Because I wanted to gain insight into the structure and essence of matter, I became a research chemist. Intrigued by the plant world since early childhood, I chose to specialize in research on the constituents of medicinal plants. In the co urse of this career I was led to the psychoactive, hallucination-causing s ubstances, which under certain conditions can evoke visionary states similar to the spontan eous experiences just described. The most important of these hallucinogenic substa nces has come to be known as LSD. Hallucinogens, as active compounds of considerab le scientific interest , have gained entry
4 into medicinal research, biology, and psychiatry, and later—especially LSD also obtained wide diffusion in the drug culture. with my work, I became aware of the great In studying the literature connected a dominant role, not only in universal significance of visi onary experience. It plays in the creative process in art, literature, and mysticism and the history of religion, but also science. More recent investigations have shown that many persons also have visionary experiences in daily life, though most of us fail to recognize their meaning and value. apparently far from rare. Mystical experiences, like thos e that marked my childhood, are ng for mystical experience, for visionary There is today a widespread strivi breakthroughs to a deeper, more comprehensive reality than that perceived by our rational, everyday consciousness. Efforts to transcend our materialistic world view are adherents to Eastern religious movements, being made in various ways, not only by the who are adopting such profound spiritual but also by professional psychiatrists, experiences as a basic therapeutic principle. I share the belief of ma spiritual crisis pervading all ny of my contemporaries that the spheres of Western industrial society can be remedied only by a change in our world view. We shall have to shift from the materi alistic, dualistic belie f that people and their environment are separate, toward a new consciousness of an all-encompassing reality, which embraces the experiencing ego, a reality in which people feel their oneness with animate nature and all of creation. Everything that can contribute to such a fundamental alterati on in our perception of reality must therefore command earnest attention. Foremost among such approaches are the various methods of meditation, either in a religious or a secular context, which aim to deepen the consciousness of reality by wa y of a total mystical experience. Another l, path to the same goal is the use of the consciousness- important, but still controversia ychopharmaceuticals. LSD finds such an altering properties of hallucinogenic ps application in medicine, by helping patient s in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to perceive their problems in their true significance. Deliberate provocation of icularly by LSD and related mystical experience, part hallucinogens, in contrast to spontaneous vision ary experiences, entails dangers that must not be underestimated. Practitioners must take into account the peculiar effects of these substances, namely their ability to influen ce our consciousness, the innermost essence of our being. The history of LSD to date amply demonstrates the catas trophic consequences that can ensue when its profound effect is mi sjudged and the substance is mistaken for a pleasure drug. Special internal and external a dvance preparations are required; with them, an LSD experiment can become a meaningf ul experience. Wrong and inappropriate use has caused LSD to become my problem child. It is my desire in this book to give a comprehensive picture of LSD, its origin, its effects, and its dangers, in order to guard against increasing abuse of this extraordinary drug. I hope thereby to emphasize possible uses of LSD that are compatible with its characteristic action. I believe that if peopl e would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditio ns, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonder child.
5 1. How LSD Originated In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. —Louis Pasteur Time and again I hear or accident. This is only partly read that LSD was discovered by true. LSD came into being within a systema tic research program, and the "accident" did not occur until much later: when LSD was already five years old, I happened to my own body—or rather, in my own mind. experience its unforeseeable effects in Looking back over my professional career to trace the influential events and decisions that eventually steered my work toward the synthesis of LSD, I realize that the most upon completion of my chemistry studies. If decisive step was my choice of employment substance, which has become known the world that decision had been different, then this tell the story of the or over, might never have been created. In order to igin of LSD, then, I must also touch briefly on my career as a chemist, since the two developments are inextricably interrelated. oncluding my chemistry studies at In the spring of 1929, on c the University of Zurich, I joined the Sandoz Company's pharmaceutical-che mical research laboratory in Basel, as a co-worker with Professor Arthur Stoll, founder and director of the pharmaceutical department. I chose this position because it afforded me the opportunity to work on natural products, whereas two other job offers from chemical firms in Basel had involved work in the field of synthetic chemistry. First Chemical Explorations My doctoral work at Zurich under Prof essor Paul Karrer had already given me one and animal chemistry. Making use of the chance to pursue my interest in plant il, I accomplished the enzymatic degradation of gastrointestinal juice of the vineyard sna chitin, the structural material of which the shells, wings, and claws of insects, crustaceans, and other lower animals are com posed. I was able to derive the chemical structure of chitin from the cleavage produc t, a nitrogen-containing sugar, obtained by this degradation. Chitin turned out to be an e structural material analogue of cellulose, th of plants. This important result, obtained af ter only three months of research, led to a doctoral thesis rated "with distinction." When I joined the Sandoz firm, the staff of the pharmaceutical-chemical department was still rather modest in number. Four chemists with doctoral degrees worked in research, three in production. In Stoll's laboratory I found employment that completely agreed with me as a research chemist. The objective that Professor Sto ll had set for his pharmaceutical-chemical research laboratories was to isolate the active principles (i.e., the effective constituents)
6 of known medicinal plants to produce pure sp ecimens of these substances. This is e case of medicinal plants whose active principles are particularly important in th which makes an exact dosage unstable, or whose potency is subject to great variation, ailable in pure form, it becomes possible to difficult. But if the active principle is av manufacture a stable pharmaceutical prepara tion, exactly quantifiable by weight. With this in mind, Professor Stoll had elected to study plant substances of recognized value Mediterranean squill (Scilla maritima) , such as the substances from foxglove (Digitalis), or Secale cornutum ), which, owning to their Claviceps purpurea and ergot of rye ( instability and uncertain dosag e, nevertheless, had been little used in medicine. es were devoted almost My first years in the Sandoz laboratori exclusively to studying the active principles of Mediterranean squill . Dr. Walter Kreis, one of Professor Stoll's earliest associates, launched me in this field of research. The most important constituents of Mediterranean squill already existed in pur e form. Their active agents, as well as those of woolly foxglove ( Digitalis lanata ), had been isolated a nd purified, chiefly by Dr. Kreis, with extraordinary skill. The active principles of Mediterran ean squill belong to the group of cardioactive glycosides (glycoside = sugar-containing subs tance) and serve, as do those of foxglove, in the treatment of cardiac insufficiency. The cardiac glycosides are extremely active substances. Because the therapeutic and the toxic doses differ so little, it becomes especially important here to have an exact dosage, based on pure compounds. At the beginning of my investigati ons, a pharmaceutical prep aration with Scilla glycosides had already been introduced into therapeutics by Sandoz; however, the chemical structure of these active compounds, with the exception of the sugar portion, remained largely unknown. My main contribution to the Scilla research, in which I participated with enthusiasm, was to elucidate the chemical structure of the common nucleus of Scilla glycosides, Digitalis showing on the one hand their differences from the glycosides, and on the other hand their close structural rela tionship with the toxic principl es isolated from skin glands of toads. In 1935, these studies were temporarily concluded. Looking for a new field of research, I as ked Professor Stoll to let me continue the investigations on the alkaloids of ergot, which he had begun in 1917 and which had led directly to the isolation of ergotamine in 1918. Ergotamine, discovered by Stoll, was the first ergot alkaloid obtained in pure chemical form. Alt hough ergotamine quickly took a significant place in therapeutics (under the tr ade name Gynergen) as a hemostatic remedy in obstetrics and as a medicament in the tr eatment of migraine, chemical research on d after the isolation of ergotamine and the ergot in the Sandoz laboratories was abandone determination of its empirical formula. Meanwhile, at the begi nning of the thirties, English and American laboratories had begun to determine the chemical structure of ergot alkaloids. They had also discovered a new, water-soluble ergot alkaloid, which could likewise be isolated from the moth er liquor of ergotamine production. So I thought it was high time that Sandoz resumed chemical research on ergot alkaloids, unless we wanted to risk losing our leading role in a field of medicinal res earch, which was already becoming so important. Professor Stoll granted my request, with some misgivings: "I must warn you of the difficulties you face in working with ergot al kaloids. These are-exceedingly sensitive, easily decomposed substances, less stab le than any of the compounds you have
7 investigated in the cardiac glycoside field. But you are welcome to try." found myself engaged in a field of study that And so the switches were thrown, and I I have never forgotten the would become the main theme of my professional career. the study of ergot alkaloids, at anticipation I felt in embarking on creative joy, the eager that time a relatively uncharted field of research. Ergot It may be helpful here to give some background information about ergot itself.[For further information on ergot, readers should refer to the monographs of G. Berger, Ergot and Ergotism (Gurney and Jackson, London, 1931 ) and A. Hofmann, Die Mutterkornalkaloide (F. Enke Verlag, Stuttgart, 1964). The former is a classical the latter emphasizes the chemical aspects.] presentation of the history of the drug, while Claviceps purpurea It is produced by a lower fungus ( ) that grows parasitically on rye and, to a lesser extent, on other species of grain and on wild grasses. Kernels infested with this fungus develop into light-brown to violet-brown curved pegs (sclerotia) that push forth from the husk in place of normal gr ains. Ergot is descri bed botanically as a ungus takes in winter. Ergot of rye ( Secale cornutum sclerotium, the form that the ergot f ) is the variety used medicinally. Ergot, more than any ot her drug, has a fascinating histor y, in the course of which its role and meaning have been reversed: once dr eaded as a poison, in the course of time it has changed to a rich storehouse of valuable remedies. Ergot first appeared on the stage of history in the early Middle Ages, as the cause of outbreaks of mass poisonings e illness, whose connection with ergot was for affecting thousands of persons at a time. Th ergotismus a long time obscure, appeared in two characteristic forms, one gangrenous ( gangraenosus ) and the other convulsive ( ergotismus convulsivus ). Popular names for ergotism—such as "mal des ardents," "ignis sacer," "heiliges Feuer," or "St. Anthony's fire"—refer to the gangrenous form of the disease. The patron saint of ergotism victims der of St. Anthony that treated these was St. Anthony, and it was primarily the Or patients. Until recent times, epidemic-like outbreaks of ergot poisoning have been recorded in most European countries includ ing certain areas of Russia. With progress in agriculture, and since the realization, in the seventeenth century, that ergot-containing bread was the cause, the frequency and extent of ergotism ep idemics diminished considerably. The last great epidemic occurred in certain areas of southern Russia in the years 1926-27. [The mass poisoning in the southern French city of Pont-St. Esprit in the year 1951, which many writers have attributed to ergot-contai ning bread, actually had nothing to do with ergotism. It rather involved poisoning by an organic mercury compound that was utilized for disinfecting seed.] The first mention of a medicinal use of ergot, namely as an ecbolic (a medicament to precipitate childbirth), is found in the herbal of the Frankfurt city physician Adam Lonitzer (Lonicerus) in the year 1582. Although ergot, as Lonitzer stated, had been used since olden times by midwives, it was not until 1808 that this drug gained entry into academic medicine, on the strength of a work by the American physician John Stearns
8 entitled Account of the Putvis Parturiens, The use a Remedy for Quickening Childbirth. e. Practitioners became aware quite early of of ergot as an ecbolic did not, however, endur the great danger to the child, owing primarily to the uncertainty of dosage, which when tetrics was confined the use of ergot in obs too high led to uterine spasms. From then on, (bleeding after childbirth). to stopping postpartum hemorrhage It was not until ergot's recognition in va rious pharmacopoeias during the first half of the nineteenth century that the first steps were taken toward isolating the active principles of the drug. However, of all the researcher s who assayed this problem during the first ng the actual substances responsible for the hundred years, not one succeeded in identifyi therapeutic activity. In 1907, the Englishmen G. Barger a nd F. H. Carr were the first to isolate an active alkaloidal preparation, wh ich they named ergotoxine because it produced rties of ergot. (This preparation was not more of the toxic than therapeutic prope kaloids, as I was able to show thirty-five homogeneous, but rather a mixture of several al H. H. Dale discove years later.) Nevertheless, the pharmacologist red that ergotoxine, besides the uterotonic effect, also had an antagonistic activity on adrenaline in the autonomic nervous system that could lead to the therapeutic use of ergot alkaloids. Only with the isolation of ergotamine by A. St oll (as mentioned previously) did an ergot read use in therapeutics. alkaloid find entry and widesp t research, beginning w ith the determination The early 1930s brought a new era in ergo of the chemical structure of ergot alkaloid s, as mentioned, in English and American laboratories. By chemical cleavage, W. A. Jacobs and L. C. Craig of the Rockefeller Institute of New York succeeded in isolati ng and characterizing the nucleus common to all ergot alkaloids. They named it lysergic acid. Then came a major development, both for chemistry and for medicine: the isolation of the specifically uterotonic, hemostatic s published simultaneously and quite independently by four principle of ergot, which wa ries. The substance, an alkaloid of institutions, including the Sandoz laborato comparatively simple structure, was na med ergobasine (syn. er gometrine, ergonovine) by A. Stoll and E. Burckhardt. By the chemical degradation of ergobasine, W. A. Jacobs and L. C. Craig obtained lysergic acid and th e amino alcohol propanolamine as cleavage products. I set as my first goal the problem of preparing this alkaloid synthetically, through chemical linking of the two components of ergobasine, lysergic acid and propanolamine (see structural formulas in the appendix). The lysergic acid necessary for these studies had to be obtained by chemical cleavage of some other ergot alkaloid. Since only ergo tamine was available as a pure alkaloid, and was already being produced in kilogram quantities in the pharmaceutical production department, I chose this alkaloid as the starting material for my work. I set about ergot production people. When I sent the obtaining 0.5 gm of ergotamine from the internal requisition form to Professor Stoll for his countersi gnature, he appeared in my laboratory and reproved me: "If you want to work with ergot alkaloids, you will have to familiarize yourself with the techniques of microchemistry. I can't have you consuming such a large amount of my expensiv e ergotamine for your experiments." The ergot production depa rtment, besides using ergot of Swiss origin to obtain ergotamine, also dealt with Portuguese er got, which yielded an amorphous alkaloidal preparation that corresponded to the aforem entioned ergotoxine first produced by Barger and Carr. I decided to use this less expensive material for the preparation of lysergic acid.
9 The alkaloid obtained from the production depart ment had to be purified further, before it rgic acid. Observations made during the would be suitable for cleavage to lyse purification process led me to think that ergotoxine could be a mixture of several alkaloids, rather than one homogeneous alkaloid. I will speak later of the far-reaching sequelae of these observations. Here I must digress briefly to descri be the working conditions and techniques that prevailed in those days. These remarks may be of interest to the present generation of research chemists in industry, who are accustomed to far better conditions. We were very frugal. Individual laboratories were considered a rare extravagance. with Sandoz, I shared a laboratory with two During the first six years of my employment colleagues. We three chemists, plus an assi stant each, worked in the same room on three nn, who joined Sandoz different fields: Dr. Kreiss on cardiac glycosides; Dr. Wiedema ent chlorophyll; and I ultimately on ergot around the same time as I, on the leaf pigm ith two fume hoods (compartments supplied alkaloids. The laboratory was equipped w ntilation by gas flames. When we requested with outlets), providing less than effective ve that these hoods be equipped with ventil ators, our chief refused on the ground that ventilation by gas flame had sufficed in Willstatter's laboratory. World War I, Professor Stoll had During the last years of been an assistant in Berlin and Munich to the world-famous chemis t and Nobel laureate Professor Richard Willstatter, and with him had conducted the fundamental investigations on chlorophyll and the assimilation of carbon dioxide. There was scarcely a scientific discussion with Professor Stoll in which he did not mention his revered teacher Professor Willstatter and his work in Willstatter's laboratory. The working techniques available to chemists in the field of organic chemistry at that ntially the same as those employed by Justus time (the beginning of the thirties) were esse important development achieved since then von Liebig a hundred years earlier. The most was the introduction of microanalysis by B. Preg l, which made it possible to ascertain the elemental composition of a compound with only a few milligrams of specimen, whereas earlier a few centigrams were needed. Of the other physical-chemical techniques at the disposal of the chemist today—techniques which have changed his way of working, making it faster and more effective, and crea ted entirely new possibilities, above all for the elucidation of structure - none yet existed in those days. For the investigations of Scilla glycosides and the first studies in the ergot field, I still used the old separation and purification t echniques from Liebig's day: fractional extraction, fractional precipitation, fractio and the like. The nal crystallization, introduction of column chromatography, the fi rst important step in modern laboratory technique, was of great value to me onl y in later investigations. For structure determination, which today can be conducted rapidly and elegantly with the help of spectroscopic methods (UV, IR, NMR) and X-ra y crystallography, we had to rely, in the first fundamental ergot studi es, entirely on the old labor ious methods of chemical degradation and derivatization. Lysergic Acid and Its Derivatives
10 Lysergic acid proved to be a rather unstable substance, and its rebonding with basic radicals posed difficulties. In the technique known as Curtius' Synthesis, I ultimately found a process that proved useful for combin ing lysergic acid with amines. With this method I produced a great number of lysergic acid compounds. By combining lysergic acid with the amino alcohol propanolamine, I obtained a compound that was identical to sine. With that, the first sy nthesis—that is , artificial the natural ergot alkaloid ergoba production—of an ergot alkaloid was accomp lished. This was not only of scientific interest, as confirmation of the chemical st ructure of ergobasine, but also of practical lly uterotonic, hemostatic principle, is significance, because ergobasine, the specifica present in ergot only in very trifling quantitie s. With this synthesis, the other alkaloids existing abundantly in ergot could now be c onverted to ergobasine, which was valuable in obstetrics. d, my investigations went After this first success in the ergot fiel forward on two fronts. First, I attempted to improve s of ergobasine by variations the pharmacological propertie . J. Peyer and I developed a process for the of its amino alcohol radical. My colleague Dr economical production of propanolamine and other amino alcohols. Indeed, by substitution of the propanolamine containe d in ergobasine with the amino alcohol butanolamine, an active principle was obtained th at even surpassed the natural alkaloid in gobasine has found worldwide application as a its therapeutic properties. This improved er dependable uterotonic, hemostatic remedy under the trade name Methergine, and is today the leading medicament for this indication in obstetrics. I further employed my synthetic pro cedure to produce new ly sergic acid compounds for which uterotonic activity was not promin ent, but from which, on the basis of their chemical structure, other types of inte resting pharmacological properties could be expected. In 1938, I produced the twenty-fifth substan ce in this series of lysergic acid derivatives: lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD- 25 (Lyserg-säure-diäthylamid) for laboratory usage. I had planned the synthesis of this compound with the intention of obtaining a circulatory and respiratory stimulant (an analep tic). Such stimulating properties could be expected for lysergic acid diethylamide, becau se it shows similarity in chemical structure time, namely nicotinic acid diethylamide to the analeptic already known at that the pharmacological department of Sandoz, (Coramine). During the testing of LSD-25 in whose director at the time wa s Professor Ernst Rothlin, a stro ng effect on the uterus was established. It amounted to some 70 percent of the activity of ergobasine. The research report also noted, in passing, that the expe rimental animals became restless during the narcosis. The new substance, however, aroused no special interest in our pharmacologists and physicians; testing was therefore discontinued. For the next five years, nothing more was heard of the substance LSD-25. Meanwhile, my work in the ergot field advanced furthe r in other areas. Thr ough the purification of acid, I obtained, as already mentioned, the ergotoxine, the starting material for lysergic impression that this alkaloidal prepara tion was not homogeneous, but was rather a mixture of different substances. This doubt as to the homogeneity of ergotoxine was reinforced when in its hydrogenation two di stinctly different hydrogenation products were obtained, whereas the homogeneous alkaloid ergotamine under the same condition yielded only a single hydrogenation product (hydrogenation = intr oduction of hydrogen). Extended, systematic analytical investigations of the s upposed ergotoxine mixture led
11 ultimately to the separation of this alka loidal preparation into three homogeneous ogeneous ergotoxine alkaloids proved to be components. One of the three chemically hom identical with an alkaloid isolated shortly before in the production department, which A. e. The other two alkaloids were both new. Stoll and E. Burckhardt had named ergocristin The first I named ergocornine; and for the seco olated, which had long nd, the last to be is remained hidden in the mother liquor, I chose the name ergokryptine (kryptos = hidden). eric forms, which were Later it was found that ergokr yptine occurs in two isom d beta-ergokryptine. differentiated as alfa- an The solution of the ergotoxine problem was not merely scientif ically interesting, but also had great practical si gnificance. A valuable remedy arose from it. The three hydrogenated ergotoxine alkaloids that I produced in the course of these investigations, dihydroergocristine, dihydroergokryptine, and dihydroergocornine, displayed medicinally useful properties during testing by Professor Rothlin in the pharmacological department. From these three substances, the pharmaceutical preparation Hydergine was developed, a medicament for improvement of peripheral circulation and cerebral function in the has proven to be an effective remedy in control of geriatric disorders. Hydergine geriatrics for these indications. Today it is Sandoz's most important pharmaceutical product. Dihydroergotamine, which I likewise produ ced in the course of these investigations, has also found application in therapeutics as a circulation- and blood-pressure-stabilizing medicament, under the trade name Dihydergot. While today research on important proj ects is almost exclusively carried out as teamwork, the investigations on ergot alka loids described above were conducted by myself alone. Even the further chemical steps in the evolution of commercial preparations remained in my hands—that is, the preparation of larger specimens for the clinical trials, and finally the perfection of the first procedures for mass production of Methergine, Hydergine, and Dihydergot. This even included the analytical controls for s of these three prep arations: the ampoules, the development of the first galenical form at time included a laboratory assistant, a liquid solutions, and tablets. My aides at th laboratory helper, and later in addition a second laboratory assistant and a chemical technician. Discovery of the Psychic Effects of LSD The solution of the ergotoxine problem ha d led to fruitful results, described here only briefly, and had opened up further avenues of research. And yet I could not forget the relatively uninteresting LSD-25. A peculiar pres entiment—the feeling that this substance could possess properties other than those esta blished in the first investigations—induced me, five years after the first synthesis, to produce LSD-25 once again so that a sample could be given to the pharmacological depa rtment for further tests. This was quite unusual; experimental substances, as a rule, we re definitely stricken from the research program if once found to be lacki ng in pharmacological interest. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1943, I repe ated the synthesis of LSD-25. As in the first synthesis, this involved the production of only a few centigrams of the compound.
12 In the final step of the synthesis, duri ng the purification and crys tallization of lysergic a tartrate (tartaric acid salt ), I was interrupted in my acid diethylamide in the form of work by unusual sensations. The following descri ption of this incident comes from the report that I sent at the time to Professor Stoll: Last Friday, April 16,1943, I was forced to in terrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and pro ceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant timulated imagination. In a intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely s dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found th e daylight to be unpl easantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away. This was, altogether, a remarkable experience—both in its sudden onset and its extraordinary course. It seemed to have resu lted from some external toxic influence; I surmised a connection with the substance I ha d been working with at the time, lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate. But this led to a nother question: how had I managed to absorb this material? Because of the known toxicity of ergot substances, I always maintained meticulously neat work habits. Possibly a bit of the LSD solution had contacted my fingertips during crystallizati on, and a trace of the substa nce was absorbed through the skin. If LSD-25 had indeed been the cause of this bizarre experience, then it must be a substance of extraordinary potency. There seem ed to be only one way of getting to the bottom of this. I decided on a self-experiment. Exercising extreme caution, I began the planned series of experiments with the smallest quantity that could be expected to produce some effect, considering the activity of the ergot alkaloids known at the time: namely, 0.25 mg (mg = milligram = one thousandth of a gram) of lysergic acid diet hylamide tartrate. Quoted below is the entry for this experiment in my labor atory journal of April 19, 1943. Self-Experiments 4/19/43 16:20: 0.5 cc of 1/2 promil aqueous solu tion of diethylamide tartrate orally = 0.25 mg tartrate. Taken diluted with about 10 cc water. Tasteless. 17:00: Beginning dizziness, feeli ng of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh. Supplement of 4/21: Home by bicycle. From vere crisis. (See 18:00- ca.20:00 most se special report.) Here the notes in my laboratory journal c ease. I was able to write the last words only with great effort. By now it was already clear to me that LSD had b een the cause of the remarkable experience of the previous Frida y, for the altered perceptions were of the same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was inform ed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle, no automobile bei ng available because of wartime restrictions on their use. On the way home, my conditi on began to assume threatening forms.
13 Everything in my field of visi on wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. ing unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant I also had the sensation of be later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and king my companion to summon our family sound, and I was just barely capable of as doctor and request milk from the neighbors. ondition, I had brief periods of clear and effective In spite of my delirious, bewildered c thinking—and chose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning. The dizziness and sensation of fainting became so strong at times that I could no longer hold myself erect, and had to lie down on a sofa. My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifyi ng ways. Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pi eces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms. They were in continuous motion, animated, as if driven by an inner restlessness. The lady next door, whom I scarcely recognized, brought me milk—in the course of the evening I drank more than two liters. She was no longer Mrs. R., but rather a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask. tions of the outer world, were the alterations Even worse than these demonic transforma ng. Every exertion of my will, every attempt to that I perceived in myself, in my inner bei put an end to the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my ego, seemed to be wasted effort. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will. I was seized by the dreadful fear of going insane. I was taken to another world, another place, another time. My body seemed to be without sensation, lifeless, strange. Was I dying? Was this the transition? At tim es I believed myself to be outside my body, and then perceived clearly, as an outside observer, the complete tragedy of my situation. I had not even taken leave of my family (my wife, with our thr ee children had traveled that day to visit her parents, in Lucerne). Would they ev er understand that I had not sponsibly, but rather with th experimented thoughtlessly, irre e utmost caution, an-d that such a result was in no way foreseeable? My fear and despair intensified, not only because a young family should lose its father, but also because I dreaded leaving my to me, unfinished in the midst of fruitful, chemical research work, which meant so much shape, an idea full of bitter irony: if I promising development. Another reflection took was now forced to leave this world prematur ely, it was because of this Iysergic acid diethylamide that I myself had brought forth into the world. By the time the doctor arrived, the c limax of my despondent condition had already passed. My laboratory assistant informed him about my self-experiment, as I myself was not yet able to formulate a coherent sentence. He shook his head in perplexity, after my attempts to describe the mortal danger th at threatened my body. He could detect no abnormal symptoms other than extremely d ilated pupils. Pulse, blood pressure, breathing were all normal. He saw no reason to prescr ibe any medication. Instead he conveyed me to my bed and stood watch over me. Slowly I came back from a weird, unfamiliar world to reassuring everyday reality. The horror so ftened and gave way to a feeling of good fortune and gratitude, the more normal percep tions and thoughts returned, and I became more confident that the danger of insanity was conclusively past. Now, little by little I could begin to enj oy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes
14 that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kalei doscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, alternating, variegated, opening exploding in colored fountains, rearranging a nd hybridizing themselves in constant flux. oustic perception, such as the sound of a door It was particularly remarkable how every ac handle or a passing automobile , became transformed into optical perceptions. Every sound generated a vividly changing image, with its own consistent form and color. Late in the evening my wife returned from Lucerne. Someone had informed her by ed home at once, telephone that I was suffering a mysterious breakdown. She had return By now, I had recovered myself sufficiently leaving the children behind with her parents. to tell her what had happened. Exhausted, I then slept, to awake next morning refreshed, with a clear head, though still somewhat tired physically. A sensati on of well-being and re newed life flowed through me. Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the s un shone now after a spring rain, everything rld was as if newly created. All my senses glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The wo ity, which persisted for the entire day. vibrated in a condition of highest sensitiv This self-experiment showed that LS D-25 behaved as a psychoactive substance with extraordinary properties and potency. Th ere was to my knowledge no other known substance that evoked such profound psychic e ffects in such extremely low doses, that caused such dramatic changes in human cons ciousness and our experience of the inner and outer world. What seemed even more significant wa s that I could remember the experience of LSD inebriation in every detail. This could only mean that the conscious recording function was not interrupted, even in the climax of the LSD experience, despite the profound breakdown of the normal world view. For the entire duration of the experiment, I had xperiment, but despite th even been aware of participating in an e is recognition of my condition, I could not, with every exertion of my will, shake off the LSD world. Everything was experienced as completely real, as alarming reality; alarming, because the picture of the other, familiar everyday rea lity was still fully preserved in the memory for comparison. its ability to produce such a far-reaching, Another surprising aspect of LSD was powerful state of inebriation without leavi ng a hangover. Quite the contrary, on the day after the LSD experiment I felt myself to be, as already described, in excellent physical and mental condition. I was aware that LSD, a new active com pound with such properties, would have to be of use in pharmacology, in neurology, and espe cially in psychiatry, and that it would attract the interest of concerned specialists. But at that time I had no inkling that the new dical science, as an inebriant in the drug substance would also come to be used beyond me LSD in its terrifying, demonic aspect, the scene. Since my self-experiment had revealed last thing I could have expect ed was that this substance co uld ever find application as anything approaching a pleasur e drug. I failed, moreover, to recognize the meaningful connection between LSD inebriation and spont aneous visionary experience until much later, after further experiments, which were carried out with far lower doses and under different conditions. The next day I wrote to Professor Stoll the above-mentioned report about my extraordinary experience with LSD-25 a nd sent a copy to the director of the
15 pharmacological department, Professor Rothlin. edulous astonishment. Instantly a telephone call As expected, the first reaction was incr came from the management; Professor Stoll asked: "Are you certain you made no mistake in the weighing? Is the stated dose re ally correct?" Professor Rothlin also called, asking the same question. I was certain of this point, for I had executed the weighing and dosage with my own hands. Yet their doubts were justified to some extent, for until then no known substance had displayed even the s lightest psychic effect in fraction-of-a- milligram doses. An active compound of such potency seemed almost unbelievable. Professor Rothlin himself and two of his colleagues were the first to repeat my experiment, with only one-third of the dose I had utilized. Bu t even at that level, the effects were still extremely impressive, and quite fantastic. All doubts about the statements in my report were eliminated.
16 2. LSD in Animal Experime nts and Biological Research s, the substance LSD-25, which After the discovery of its extraordinary psychic effect rther investigation after the first trials on five years earlier had been excluded from fu animals, was again admitted into the series of experimental preparations. Most of the fundamental studies on animals were carried out by Dr. Aurelio Cerletti in the Sandoz pharmacological department, headed by Professor Rothlin. Before a new active substance can be inve stigated in systematic clinical trials with on its effects and side eff human subjects, extensive data ects must be determined in pharmacological tests on animals. These e xperiments must assay the assimilation and elimination of the particular substance in organisms, and above all its tolerance and ports on animal experiments with LSD, and relative toxicity. Only the most important re reviewed here. It would greatly exceed the those intelligible to the layperson, will be ntion all the results of several hundred scope of this book if I attempted to me been conducted all over the world in pharmacological investigations, which have connection with the fundamental work on LSD in the Sandoz laboratories. Animal experiments reveal little about the mental alterations caused by LSD because lower animals, and even in the more highly psychic effects are scarcely determinable in a limited extent. LSD produces its effects developed, they can be established only to above all in the sphere of the higher and highe st psychic and intellect ual functions. It is therefore understandable that specific reactions to LSD can be expect ed only in higher animals. Subtle psychic changes cannot be es tablished in animals because, even if they should be occurring, the animal could not gi ve them expression. Thus, only relatively es in the altered behavior of research heavy psychic disturbances, expressing themselv are substantially higher than the effective animals, become discernible. Quantities that dose of LSD in human beings are therefore n ecessary, even in higher animals like cats, dogs, and apes. While the mouse under LSD shows only moto r disturbances and alterations in licking behavior, in the cat we see, besides vege tative symptoms like bristling of the hair (piloerection) and salivation, indications that po int to the existence of hallucinations. The animals stare anxiously in the air, and instea d of attacking the mous e, the cat leaves it alone or will even stand in fear before th e mouse. One could also conclude that the behavior of dogs that are unde r the influence of LSD invol ves hallucinations. A caged community of chimpanzees reacts very sensitiv ely if a member of the tribe has received LSD. Even though no changes appear in this single animal, the w hole cage gets in an uproar because the LSD chimpanzee no longer obse rves the laws of its finely coordinated hierarchic tribal order. Of the remaining animal species on wh ich LSD was tested, only aquarium fish and spiders need be mentioned here. In the fish, unusual swimming postures were observed, and in the spiders, alterations in web buildi ng were apparently produced by LSD. At very low optimum doses the webs were even bett er proportioned and more exactly built than normally: however, with higher doses, the webs were badly and r udimentarily made.
17 How Toxic Is LSD? in various animal species. A standard for the The toxicity of LSD has been determined toxicity of a substance is the LD , or the median lethal dose, that is, the dose with which 50 50 percent of the treated animals die. In ge neral it fluctuates broadly, according to the animal species, and so it is with LSD. The LD for the mouse amounts to 50-60 mg/kg. 50 i.v. (that is, 50 to 60 thousandths of a gram of LSD per kilogram of animal weight upon injection of an LSD solution into the veins). In the rat the LD drops to 16.5 mg/kg, and 50 in rabbits to 0.3 mg/kg. One el ephant given 0.297 g of LSD di ed after a few minutes. The weight of this animal was determined to be 5,000 kg, which corresponds to a lethal dose of 0.06 mg/kg (0.06 thousandths of a gram per kilogram of body weight). Because this involves only a single case, this value cannot can at least deduce be generalized, but we oportionally very sensitively to LSD, since from it that the largest land animal reacts pr 1,000 times lower than in the mouse. Most the lethal dose in elephants must be some animals die from a lethal dose of LSD by respiratory arrest. imal experiments may give the impression that The minute doses that cause death in an LSD is a very toxic substance. However, if one compares the lethal dose in animals with the effective dose in human beings, which is 0.0003-0.001 mg/kg (0.0003 to 0.001 thousandths of a gram per kilogram of body we ight), this shows an extraordinarily low toxicity for LSD. Only a 300- to 600-fold ove rdose of LSD, compared to the lethal dose in rabbits, or fully a 50,000- to 100,000fold overdose, in comparison to the toxicity in the mouse, would have fatal results in human bei ngs. These comparisons of relative toxicity timates of orders of magnitude, for the are, to be sure, only understandable as es is, the ratio between the effective and the determination of the therapeutic index (that lethal dose) is only meaningful within a give n species. Such a procedure is not possible in this case because the lethal dose of LSD for humans is not known. To my knowledge, es that are a direct there have not as yet occurred any casualti consequence of LSD poisoning. Numerous episodes of fatal conseque nces attributed to LSD ingestion have indeed been recorded, but these were accidents, even suicides, that may be attributed to the mentally disoriented condition of LSD in toxication. The danger of LSD lies not in its toxicity, but rather in the unpredic tability of its psychic effects. Some years ago reports appeared in the sc ientific literature and also in the lay press, alleging that damage to chromosomes or the genetic material had been caused by LSD. These effects, however, have been observed in only a few individual cases. Subsequent comprehensive investigations of a large, statistically significant number of cases, however, showed that there was no connecti on between chromosome anomalies and LSD medication. The same applies to reports abou t fetal deformities that had allegedly been produced by LSD. In animal experiments, it is indeed possible to induce fetal deformities through extremely high doses of LSD, which lie well above the doses used in human beings. But under these conditions, even ha rmless substances produce such damage. Examination of reported individual cases of human fetal deformities reveals, again, no connection between LSD use and such injury. If there had been any such connection, it would long since have attracted attention, for several m illion people by now have taken LSD.
18 Pharmacological Properties of LSD ough the gastrointestinal tract. It is therefore LSD is absorbed easily and completely thr unnecessary to inject LSD, except for sp ecial purposes. Experiments on mice with established that intravenously injected LSD disappeared radioactively labeled LSD have down to a small vestige, very rapidly from the bloodstream and was distributed st concentration is found in the brain. It throughout the organism. Unexpectedly, the lowe ay a role in the regulation of is concentrated here in certain centers of the midbrain that pl cations as to the localization of certain psychic functions emotion. Such findings give indi in the brain. The concentration of LSD in the vari ous organs attains maximum values 10 to 15 swiftly. The small inte minutes after injection, then falls off again stine, in which the concentration attains constitutes an exception. The the maximum within two hours, elimination of LSD is conducted for the most part (up to some 80 percent) through the intestine via liver and bile. Only 1 to 10 pe rcent of the elimination product exists as unaltered LSD; the remainder is made up of various transformation products. en after it can no longer be detected in the As the psychic effects of LSD persist ev active as such, but that it rather triggers organism, we must assume that LSD is not certain biochemical, neurophysiological, and psychic mechanisms that provoke the inebriated condition and continue in th e absence of the active principle. LSD stimulates centers of the sympathetic nervous system in the midbrain, which leads to pupillary dilatation, increase in body temperature, and rise in the blood-sugar level. The uterine-constricting activity of LSD has already been mentioned. cal property of LSD, discovered by J. H. An especially interesting pharmacologi rotonin-blocking effect. Serotonin is a hormone-like Gaddum in England, is its se substance, occurring naturally in various or gans of warm-blooded animals. Concentrated in the midbrain, it plays an important role in the propagation of impulses in certain nerves and therefore in the biochemistry of ps ychic functions. The disruption of natural functioning of serotonin by LSD was for some time regarded as an explanation of its psychic effects. However, it was soon show n that even certain derivatives of LSD (compounds in which the chemical structure of LSD is slightly modified) that exhibit no hallucinogenic properties, inhibit the effects of serotonin just as strongly, or yet more strongly, than unaltered LSD. The serotonin-bl ocking effect of LSD thus does not suffice to explain its hallucinogenic properties. LSD also influences neurophysiological functions that are connected with dopamine, which is, like serotonin, a naturally occurri ng hormone-like substance. Most of the brain centers receptive to dopamine become activated by LSD, while the others are depressed. As yet we do not know the biochemical mechanisms through which LSD exerts its psychic effects. Investigations of the interactions of LSD w ith brain factors like serotonin and dopamine, however, are examples of how LS D can serve as a tool in brain research, in the study of the biochemical processe s that underlie th e psychic functions.
19 3. Chemical Modifications of LSD When a new type of active compound is discovered in pharmaceutical-chemical research, whether by isolation from a plan t drug or from animal organs, or through en the chemist attempts, through alterations synthetic production as in the case of LSD, th in its molecular structure, to produce new compounds with similar, perhaps improved chemical activity, or with other valuable active properties. We call this process a ce. Of the approximately 20,000 new modification of this type of active substan substances that are produced annually in the pharmaceutical-chemical research majority are modification products of laboratories of the world, the overwhelming proportionally few types of active compounds. Th e discovery of a really new type of active substance—new with regard to chemical structure and pharm acological effect—is a rare stroke of luck. effects of LSD, two co Soon after the discovery of the psychic workers were assigned odification of LSD on a broader basis and in to join me in carrying out the chemical m further investigations in the field of ergot alkaloids. The work on the chemical structure of ergot alkaloids of the peptide type, to which ergotamine and the alkaloids of the ergotoxine group belong, continued with Dr. Th eodor Petrzilka. Working with Dr. Franz modifications of LSD, and we attempted Troxler, I produced a great number of chemical to gain further insights into the structure of lysergic acid, for which the American ed a structural formula. In 1949 we succeeded in researchers had already propos correcting this formula and speci fying the valid structure of this common nucleus of all ergot alkaloids, including of course LSD. The investigations of the peptide alkaloids of ergot le d to the complete structural formulas of these substances, which we published in 1951. Their correctness was confirmed through the total synthesis of ergotamine, which was realized ten years later in collaboration with two younger coworkers, Dr. Albert J. Frey and Dr. Hans Ott. Another y responsible for the development of this coworker, Dr. Paul A. Stadler, was largel icable on an industrial scale. The synthetic production of synthesis into a process pract peptide ergot alkaloids using lysergic acid obtained from sp ecial cultures of the ergot This procedure is used to produce the fungus in tanks has great economic importance. ments Hydergine and Dihydergot. starting material for the medica Now we return to the chemical modi fications of LSD. Many LSD derivatives were produced, since 1945, in collaboration with' Dr. Troxler, but none proved hallucinogenically more active than LSD. I ndeed, the very closest relatives proved themselves essentially less active in this respect. There are four different possibilities of spatial arrangement of atoms in the LSD molecule. They are differentiated in iso- and the letters technical language by the prefix D and L . Besides LSD, which is more prec isely designated as D-lysergic acid diethylamide, I have also produced and likewis e tested in self-experi ments the three other spatially different forms, namely D-isolysergi c acid diethylamide (i so-LSD), L-lysergic acid diethylamide (L-LSD), and L-isolysergic acid diethylamide (L-iso-LSD). The last three forms of LSD showed no psychic effect s up to a dose of 0.5 mg, which corresponds
20 to a 20-fold quantity of a stil l distinctly active LSD dose. D, the monoethylamide of lysergic acid (LAE- A substance very closely related to LS 23), in which an ethyl group is replaced by a hydrogen atom on the diethylamide residue ss psychoactive than LSD. The hallucinogenic of LSD, proved to be some ten times le effect of this substance is also qualitatively different: it is characterized by a narcotic pronounced in lysergic acid amide (LA-111), component. This narcotic effect is yet more in which both ethyl groups of LSD are di splaced by hydrogen atoms. These effects, arative self-experiments w which I established in comp ith LA-111 and LAE-32, were corroborated by subsequent cl inical investigations. sergic acid amide, which had been produced Fifteen years later we encountered ly synthetically for these investigations, as a naturally occurring ac tive principle of the Mexican magic drug ololiuqui. In a later chapter I shall deal more fully with this unexpected discovery. Certain results of the chemical modi fication of LSD proved valuable to medicinal research; LSD derivatives were found that were only weakly or not at all hallucinogenic, an increased extent. Such an effect of LSD but instead exhibited other effects of LSD to is its blocking effect on the neurotransmitter serotonin (referred to previously in the discussion of the pharmacological properties of LSD). As serotonin plays a role in allergic-inflammatory processes and also in the generation of migraine, a specific serotonin-blocking substance was of great significance to medicinal research. We therefore searched systematically for LSD deri vatives without hallucinogenic effects, but with the highest possible activity as serotonin blockers. The first such active substance was found in bromo-LSD, which has become biological research known in medicinal- under the designation BOL-148. In the course of our investigations on serotonin antagonists, Dr. Troxler produced in the sequel yet stronger a nd more specifically active compounds. The most active entered the medi cinal market as a medicament for the treatment of migraine, under th e trademark "Deseril" or, in English-speaking countries, "Sansert."
21 4. Use of LSD in Psychiatry Soon after LSD was tried on animals, the fi rst systematic investigation of the substance was carried out on human beings, at the psychi atric clinic of the University of Zurich. Werner A. Stoll, M.D. (a son of Professor this research, published Arthur Stoll), who led his results in 1947 in the Schweizer Archiv fur Neurologie und Psychiatrie, under the title "Lysergsäure-diathylämid, ein Phantastikum aus der Mutterkorngruppe" [Lysergic acid diethylamide, a phantasticum from the ergot group]. The tests involved healthy research subjects as well as schizophrenic patients. The dosages—substantially lower than in my first self-experiment with 0.25 mg LSD tartrate—amounted to only 0.02 to 0.13 mg. The emotional state during the LSD inebriation was here predominantly euphoric , whereas in my experiment the mood was marked by grave side effects resulting from overdosage and, of course, fear of the uncertain outcome. This fundamental publication, which gave a scientific description of all the basic features of LSD inebriation, classified th e new active principle as a phantasticum. therapeutic application of LSD remained unanswered. On the However, the question of rdinarily high activity of LSD, which other hand, the report emphasized the extrao corresponds to the activity of trace substan ces occurring in the organism that are considered to be responsible for certain ment al disorders. Another subject discussed in this first publication was the possible applicati on of LSD as a research tool in psychiatry, which follows from its tremendous psychic activity. by a Psychiatrist First Self-Experiment ve a detailed description of his own personal In his paper, W. A. Stoll also ga experiment with LSD. Since this was the fi rst self-experiment published by a psychiatrist, teristic features of LSD inebriation, it is interesting to and since it describes many charac thank the author for kind permission to quote extensively from the report. I warmly republish this extract. At 8 o'clock I took 60 mcg (0.06 milligrams) of LSD. Some 20 minutes later, the first symptoms appeared: heaviness in the limbs, s light atactic (i.e., confused, uncoordinated) symptoms. A subjectively very unpleasant phase of general malaise followed, in parallel with the drop in blood pressure registered by the examiners. A certain euphoria then se t in, though it seemed weaker to me than experiences in an earlier experiment. The ataxia increased, and I went "saili ng" around the room with large strides. I felt somewhat better, but was glad to lie down. Afterward the room was darkened (dar k experiment); there followed an unprecedented experience of unimaginable intensity that kept increasing in strength. It w as characterized by an unbelievable profusion of optical hallucinations that appeared and vanished with great speed, to make way fo r countless new images. I saw a profusion of
22 circles, vortices, sparks, showers, crosses, and spirals in constant, racing flux. The images appeared to stream in on me predominantly from the center of the visual edge. When a picture appeared in the middle, the remaining field, or out of the lower left field of vision was simultaneously filled up with a vast number of similar visions. All yellow, and green predominated. were colored: bright, luminous red, I never managed to linger on any pictur e. When the supervisor of the experiment emphasized my great fantasies, the richness of my statements, I could only react with a sympathetic smile. I knew, in fact, that I coul d not retain, much less describe, more than a fraction of the pictures. I had to force myse lf to give a description. Terms such as "fireworks" or "kaleidoscopic" were poor and inadequate. I felt that I had to immerse myself more and more deeply into this stra nge and fascinating world, in order to allow le wealth, to work on me. the exuberance, the unimaginab tary: rays, bundles of rays, rain, rings, vortices, At first, the hallucinations were elemen organized visions also loops, sprays, clouds, etc. Then more highly appeared: arches, rows of arches, a sea of roofs, desert lands capes, terraces, flickering fire, starry skies of unbelievable splendor. The original, more simple images continued in the midst of these more highly organized hallucina tions. I remember the following images in particular: A succession of towering, Gothic vaults, an endless choir, of which I could not see the lower portions. A landscape of skyscrapers, reminiscen t of pictures of the entrance to New York harbor: house towers staggered behind and besi de one another with innumerable rows of windows. Again the foundation was missing. A system of masts and ropes, which re minded me of a reproduction of a painting seen de of a circus tent). the previous day (the insi blue over the dark roofs of a Spanish city. I An evening sky of an unimaginable pale had a peculiar feeling of anticipation, was fu ll of joy and decidedly ready for adventure. All at once the stars flared up, amassed, and turned to a dense rain of stars and sparks that streamed toward me. City and sky had disappeared. yellow, and green lights falling through a dark I was in a garden, saw brilliant red, bly joyous experience. trelliswork, an indescriba It was significant that all the images consisted of countless repetitions of the same elements: many sparks, many circles, many ar ches, many windows, many fires, etc. I never saw isolated images, but always dup lications of the same image, endlessly repeated. I felt myself one with all romanticists and dreamers, thought of E. T. A. Hoffmann, saw the maelstrom of Poe (even though, at th e time I had read Poe, his description seemed exaggerated). Often I seemed to sta nd at the pinnacle of artistic experience; I luxuriated in the colors of th e altar of Isenheim, and knew the euphoria and exultation of an artistic vision. I must also have spoken again and again of modern art; I thought of abstract pictures, which all at once I s eemed to understand. Then again, there were impressions of an extreme trashiness, both in their shapes and their color combinations. The most garish, cheap modern lamp ornaments and sofa pillows came into my mind. The train of thought was quickened. But I had the feeling the supervisor of the experiment could still keep up with me. Of course I knew, intellectually, that I was rushing him. At first I had descriptions ra pidly at hand. With the increasingly frenzied pace, it became impossible to think a thought through to the end. I must have only started
23 many sentences. When I tried to restrict myself to specific subjects, the experiment proved most a certain sense, on contrary images: unsuccessful. My mind would even focus, in skyscrapers instead of a church, a br oad desert instead of a mountain. I assumed that I had accurately estimated the elapsed time, but did not take the matter t interest me in the slightest. very seriously. Such questions did no consciously euphoric. I enjoyed the condition, was serene, and My state of mind was took a most active interest in the experien ce. From time to time I opened my eyes. The weak red light seemed mysterious, much mo re than before. The busily writing research supervisor appeared to me to be very far away. Often I had peculi ar bodily sensations: I believed my hands to be attached to some distant body, but was not certain whether it was my own. After termination of the first dark experiment, I strolled about in the room a bit, was I became cold and was thankful that the unsure on my legs, and again felt less well. research supervisor covered me with a blanket. I felt unkempt, unshaven, and unwashed. The room seemed strange and broad. Later I squatted on a high stool, thinking all the while that I sat there like a bird on the roost. The supervisor emphasized my own wretched appearance. He seemed remarkably graceful. I myself had small, finely formed hands. As I washed them, it was happening a right. It was questio nable, but utterly long way from me, somewhere down below on the unimportant, whether they were my own hands. In the landscape outside, well known to me, many things appeared to have changed. Besides the hallucinations, I could now see the real as well. Later this was no longer possible, although I remained aware that reality was otherwise. A barracks, and the garage standing before it to the left, suddenly changed to a landscape of ruins, shattered to pieces. I saw wall wreckage and projecting beams, inspired undoubtedly by the memory of the war events in this region. ng figures, which I tried to draw, but could get In a uniform, extensive field, I kept seei I saw an extremely opulent sculptural no farther than the crudest beginnings. ornamentation in constant metamorphosis, in continuous flux. I was reminded of every possible foreign culture, saw Mexican, Indian motifs. Between a grating of small beams catures, idols, masks, strang and tendrils appeared little cari ely mixed all of a sudden with childish drawings of people. The tempo was sl ackened compared to the dark experiment. The euphoria had now vanished. I became depressed, especially during the second dark experiment, which followed. Whereas during the first dark experiment, the hallucinations had alternated with great rapi dity in bright and luminous colors, now blue, violet, and dark green prevailed. The movement of la rger images was slower milder, quieter, although even these were composed of finely raining "elemental dots," which streamed and whirled about quickly. During the fi rst dark experiment, the commotion had frequently intruded upon me; now it often led di stinctly away from me into the center of the picture, where a sucking mouth appeared. I saw grottoes with fantastic erosions and stalactites, reminding me of the child's book Im Wunderreiche des Bergkonigs [In the wondrous realm of the mountain king]. Serene systems of arches rose up. On the right- hand side, a row of shed roofs suddenly appe ared; I thought of an evening ride homeward during military service. Significantly it invo lved a homeward ride: there was no longer anything like departure or love of adventure. I felt protecte d, enveloped by motherliness,
24 was in peace. The hallucinations were no longe r exciting, but instead mild and attenuated. the same motherly stre ngth. I perceived an Somewhat later I had the feeling of possessing inclination, a desire to help, and behaved then in an exaggeratedly sentimental and trashy manner, where medical ethics lized this and was able to stop. are concerned. I rea But the depressed state of mind remaine d. I tried again and again to see bright and joyful images. But to no avail; only dark blue and green patterns emerged. I longed to imagine bright fire as in the first dark expe riment. And I did see fires; however, they were sacrificial fires on the gloomy battlement of a citadel on a remote, autumnal heath. Once I ude of sparks, but at half-altitude it managed to behold a bright ascending multit transformed itself into a group of silently m oving spots from a peacock's tail. During the experiment I was very impressed that my st ate of mind and the type of hallucinations harmonized so consistently and uninterruptedly. During the second dark experiment I observed that random noises, and also noises e supervisor of the experiment, provoked simultaneous intentionally produced by th a). In the same manner, pressure on the changes in the optical impressions (synesthesi eyeball produced alterations of visual perceptions. riment, I began to watc h for sexual fantasies, Toward the end of the second dark expe which were, however, totally absent. In no wa xual desire. I wanted y could I experience se to imagine a picture of a woman; only a crude modern-primitive sculpture appeared. It seemed completely unerotic, and its forms we re immediately replaced by agitated circles and loops. After the second dark experiment I fe lt benumbed and physically unwell. I perspired, was exhausted. I was thankful not to have to go to the cafeteria for lunch. The laboratory assistant who brought us the food appeared to me small and distant, of the same upervisor of the experiment. remarkable daintiness as the s that the supervisor could pursue his work. Sometime around 3:00 P.M. I felt better, so With some effort I managed to take notes myse lf. I sat at the table, wanted to read, but could not concentrate. Once I seemed to myse lf like a shape from a surrealistic picture, whose limbs were not connected with the body, but were rather painted somewhere close by... I was depressed and thought with interest of the possibility of suicide. With some terror I apprehended that such thoughts were remarkably familiar to me. It seemed singularly self-evident that a de pressed person commits suicide... On the way home and in the even ing I was again euphoric, brimming with the experiences of the morning. I had experienced unexpected, impressive things. It seemed crowded into a few hours. I was tempted to to me that a great epoch of my life had been repeat the experiment. The next day I was careless in my thinking and conduct, had great trouble concentrating, was apathetic. . . . The casual, slightly dream-like c ondition persisted into the afternoon. I had great trouble reporting in any organized way on a simple problem. I felt a growing general weariness, an increas ing awareness that I had now returned to everyday reality. The second day after the experiment br ought an irresolute stat e... Mild, but distinct depression was experienced duri ng the following week, a fee ling which of course could be related only indirectly to LSD.
25 The Psychic Effects of LSD ned from these first investigations was not new The picture of the activity of LSD obtai an alkaloid that had to science. It largely matched the commonly held view of mescaline, the century. Mescaline is the psychoactive been investigated as early as the turn of constituent of a Mexican cactus (syn. Anhalonium lewinii) . This Lophophora williamsii cactus has been eaten by American Indians ev er since pre-Columbian times, and is still Phantastica used today as a sacred drug in religious ceremonies. In his monograph (Verlag Georg Stilke, Berlin, 1924), L. Lewi n has amply described the history of this drug, called peyotl by the Aztecs. The alkaloid mescaline was isolated from the cactus by A. Heffter in 1896, and in 1919 its chemical st and it was produced ructure was elucidated synthetically by E. Spath. It was the first ha m (as this type of llucinogen or phantasticu ecome available as a pure substance, active compound was described by Lewin) to b permitting the study of chemically induced changes of sensory perceptions, mental illusions (hallucinations), and alterations of consciousness. In the 1920s extended d out on animal and human subjects and experiments with mescaline were carrie described comprehensively Der Meskalinrausch (Verlag by K. Beringer in his book Julius Springer, Berlin, 1927). Because thes e investigations failed to indicate any applications of mescaline in medicine, interest in this active substance waned. With the discovery of LSD, hallucinogen research received a new impetus. The novelty of LSD as opposed to mescaline was its high activity, lying in a different order of magnitude. The active dose of mescaline, 0.2 to 0.5 g, is comparable to 0.00002 to 0.0001 g of LSD; in other words, LSD is some 5,000 to 10,000 times more active than mescaline. LSD's unique position among the psychopharmaceuticals is not only due to its high activity, in a quantitative sense. The subs tance also has qualitative significance: it manifests a high specificity, that is, an activity aimed specifically at the human psyche. It can be assumed, therefore, that LSD affects the highest control centers of the psychic and intellectual functions. The psychic effects of LSD, which are produced by such minimal quantities of material, are too meaningful and too multifor m to be explained by toxic alterations of brain function. If LSD acted only through a toxic effect on the brain, then LSD experiences would be entirely psychopathological in meaning, without any psychological or psychiatric interest. On the contrary, it is likely that a lterations of nerve conductivity and influence on the activity of nerve c onnections (synapses), which have been experimentally demonstrated, play an important role. This could mean that an influence is being exerted on the extremely complex syst em of cross-connections and synapses between the many billions of brain cells, the system on which the higher psychic and intellectual functions depend. This would be a pr omising area to explore in the search for an explanation of LSD's radical efficacy. The nature of LSD's activity could lead to numerous possi bilities of medicinal- psychiatric uses, as W. A. Stoll's ground- breaking studies had already shown. Sandoz therefore made the new active substance availabl e to research institut es and physicians as an experimental drug, giving it the trade na me Delysid (D-Lysergsäure-diäthylamid)
26 which I had proposed. The printed prospectus below describes possible applications of this kind and voices the necessary precautions. Delysid (LSD 25) D-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate Sugar-coated tablets co ntaining 0.025 mg. (25 μg) Ampoules of 1 ml. containing 0.1 mg. (100 μg) for oral administration The solution may also be in jected s.c. or i.v. The effect is identical with th at of oral administration but sets in more rapidly. PROPERTIES The administration of very small doses of Delysid (1/2-2 μg/kg body weight) results in fect, hallucinations, depersona lization, reliving transitory disturbances of af of repressed memories, and mild neurovegeta tive symptoms. The effect sets in after 30 to 90 minutes intermittent disturbances of affect may and generally lasts 5 to 12 hours. However, occasionally persist for several days. METHOD OF ADMINISTRATION For oral administration the • sid are diluted with distilled contents of 1 ampoule of Dely water, a 1% solution of tartaric acid or halogen-free tap water. • The absorption of the solution is somewhat more rapid and more constant than that of the tablets. • Ampoules which have not been opened, whic h have been protected against light and unlimited period. Ampoules which have been stored in a cool place are stable for an ectiveness for 1 to 2 days, if stored in a opened or diluted solutions retain their eff refrigerator. INDICATIONS AND DOSAGE of repressed material and provide mental a) Analytical psychotherapy, to elicit release relaxation, particularly in anxiet y states and obsessional neuroses. The initial dose is 25 μg (1/4 of an ampoule or 1 tablet). This dose is increased at each treatment by 25 μg until the optimum dose (u sually between 50 and 200 μg) is found. The individual treatments are best given at intervals of one week. b) Experimental studies on th e nature of psychoses: By taking Delysid himself, the psychiatrist is able to gain an insight into the world of id eas and sensations of mental patients. Delysid can also be used to indu ce model psychoses of short duration in normal subjects, thus facilitating studies on the pathogenesis of mental disease. In normal subjects, doses of 25 to 75 μg re generally sufficient to produce a hallucinatory psychosis (on an average 1 μg/kg body weight). In certain forms of psychosis and in chronic alcoholism, higher doses are n ecessary (2 to 4 μg/kg body weight).
27 PRECAUTIONS intensified by Delysid. Particular caution is Pathological mental conditions may be necessary in subjects with a suicidal te ndency and in those cases where a psychotic affective liability and the tendency to development appears imminent. The psycho- commit impulsive acts may occasionally last for some days. r strict medical superv ision. The supervision Delysid should only be administered unde should not be discontinued until the effects of the drug have completely orn off. ANTIDOTE The mental effects of Delysid can be ra pidly reversed by the i.m. administration of 50 mg chlorpromazine. Literature available on request. SANDOZ LTD., BASLE, SWITZERLAND The use of LSD in analytical psychothe rapy is based mainly on the following psychic effects. d view undergoes a deep-seated transformation In LSD inebriation the accustomed worl loosening or even suspension of the I-you and disintegration. Connected with this is a barrier. Patients who are bogged down in an egocentric problem cycle can thereby be helped to release themselves from their fi xation and isolation. The result can be an improved rapport with the docto r and a greater susceptibil ity to psychotherapeutic influence. The enhanced suggestibility unde r the influence of LSD works toward the same goal. Another significant, psychotherapeutically valuable characteristic of LSD inebriation is the tendency of long forgotten or suppressed co ntents of experience to appear again in consciousness. Traumatic events, which are s ought in psychoanalysis, may then become accessible to psychotherapeutic treatment. Nu merous case histories tell of experiences from even the earliest childhood that were vividly recalled during psychoanalysis under the influence of LSD. This does not involve an ordinary recollecti on, but rather a true reliving; not a réminiscence, but rather a réviviscence, as the French psychiatrist Jean Delay has formulated it. ther it plays the role of a drug aid in the LSD does not act as a true medicament; ra context of psychoanalytic and psychotherapeu tic treatment and serves to channel the treatment more effectively and to shorten its duration. It can fulfill this function in two particular ways. In one procedure, which was develope d in European clinics and given the name psychotytic therapy, moderately strong doses of LS D are administered in several
28 successive sessions at regular intervals. S ubsequently the LSD experiences are worked on therapy by drawing and painting. The term out in group discussions, and in expressi psycholytic therapy was coined by Ronald A. Sandison, an English therapist of Jungian -lysis -lytic signifies the ical LSD research. The root orientation and a pioneerof clin or dissolution of tension or conf licts in the human psyche. In a second procedure, which is the fa vored treatment in the United States, a single, very high LSD dose (0.3 to 0.6 mg) is admi nistered after correspondingly intensive psychological preparation of the patients. This method, described as psychedelic therapy , attempts to induce a mystical-religious experi ence through the shock effects of LSD. This r a restructuring and cu experience can then serve as a starting point fo ring of the patient's personality in the accompanying psychot psychedelic , herapeutic treatment. The term ting" or "mind-expanding," was introduced by which can be translated as "mind-manifes search in the United States. Humphry Osmond, a pioneer of LSD re LSD's apparent benefits as a drug a uxiliary in psychoanalysi s and psychotherapy are ed to the effects of tranquilizer-type derived from properties diametrically oppos psychopharmaceuticals. Whereas tranquilizers te nd to cover up the patient's problems and conflicts, reducing their apparent gravity a nd importance: LSD, on the contrary, makes them more exposed and more intensely experi enced. This clearer r ecognition of problems and conflicts makes them, in turn, more sus ceptible to psychotherapeutic treatment. The suitability and success of LSD in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are still a subject of controversy in prof essional circles. The same could be said, however, of other as electroshock, in procedures employed in psychiatry such sulin therapy, or psychosurgery, procedures that entail, moreover, a far greater risk th an the use of LSD, which under suitable conditions can be considered practically safe. Because forgotten or repressed experien ces, under the influence of LSD, may become eatment can be correspondingly shortened. To conscious with considerable speed, the tr of the therapy's duration is a disadvantage. some psychiatrists, however, this reduction They are of the opinion that this precipita tion leaves the patient insufficient time for psychotherapeutic working-through. The therapeu tic effect they believe, persists for a shorter time than when there is a gradual tr eatment, including a slow process of becoming conscious of the traumatic experiences. Psycholytic and especially psychedelic therapy require thor ough preparation of the patient for the LSD experience, to avoid his or her being frightened by the unusual and the unfamiliar. Only then is a positive interpretation of the experience possible. The selection of patients is also important, since not all types of psychi c disturbance respond equally well to these methods of treat ment. Successful use of LSD-assisted psychoanalysis and psychotherapy presupposes specific knowledge and experience. In this respect self-examination by psychiat rists, as W. A. Stoll has pointed out, can be most useful. They provide the doctors with direct insight, based on firsthand experience into the strange world of LSD inebriati on, and make it possible for them truly to understand these phenomena in their patients, to interpret them properly, and to take full advantage of them. The following pioneers in use of LSD as a drug aid in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy deserve to be named in the front rank: A. K. Busch and W. C. Johnson, S. Cohen and B. Eisner, H. A. Abramson, H. Osmond, and A. Hoffer in the United States; R. A. Sandison in England; W. Frederking and H. Leuner in Germany; and G. Roubicek
29 and S. Grof in Czechoslovakia. The second indication for LSD cited in the Sandoz prospectus on Delysid concerns its tions on the nature of psychoses. This arises from the fact use in experimental investiga that extraordinary psychic states experime ntally produced by LSD in healthy research certain mental disturbances. In the early subjects are similar to many manifestations of days of LSD research, it was often claimed th at LSD inebriation has something to do with a type of "model psychosis." This idea was dismissed, however, because extended comparative investigations showed that th ere were essential differences between the manifestations of psychosis and the LSD experience. With the LSD model, nevertheless, it is possible to study deviations from the normal psychic and mental condition, and to observe the biochemical and electrophysiological alterations associated with them. Perhaps we shall thereby gain new insights into the nature of psychoses. According to al disturbances could be pr oduced by psychotoxic metabolic certain theories, various ment l quantities, to alter the functions of brain products that have the power, even in minima ly does not occur in the human organism, cells. LSD represents a substance that certain let it seem possible that abnormal metabolic products but whose existence and activity could exist, that even in trace quantities could produce mental disturbances. As a result, the conception of a biochemical origin of certain mental disturbances has received broader support, and research in th is direction has been stimulated. One medicinal use of LSD that touc hes on fundamental ethical questions is its administration to the dying. This practice arose from observations in American clinics that especially severe painful conditions of cancer patients, which no longer respond to conventional pain-relieving medicat ion, could be alleviated or completely abolished by LSD. Of course, this does not involve an analgesic effect in the true sense. The diminution of pain sensitivity may rather occur because patients under the influence of their bodies that physical pain no longer LSD are psychologically so dissociated from In order for LSD to be effective in such cases, it is penetrates their consciousness. especially crucial that patient s be prepared and instructed about the kind of experiences them. In many cases it has proved beneficial for either a and transformations that await ychotherapist to guide the pa tient's thoughts in a religious member of the clergy or a ps direction. Numerous case histor ies tell of patients who gained meaningful insights about life and death on their deathbeds as, freed from pain in LSD ecstasy and reconciled to their fate, they faced their earthly demise fearlessly and in peace. The hitherto existing knowledge about th e administration of LSD to the terminally ill has been summarized and published by S. Grof and J. Halifax in their book The Human Encounter with Death (E. P. Dutton, New York, 1977). Th e authors, together with E. Kast, S. Cohen, and W. A. Pahnke, are among th e pioneers of this application of LSD. The most recent comprehensive pub lication on the use of LSD in psychiatry, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research (The Viking Press, New York, 1975), likewise comes from S. Grof, the Czech psychiatrist who has emigrated to the United States. This book offers a critical evaluation of the LSD experience from the viewpoint of Freud and Jung, as we ll as of existential analysis.
30 5. From Remedy to Inebriant During the first years after its disc overy, LSD brought me the same happiness and that a substance he gratification that any pharmaceutical chemist would feel on learning a valuable medicament. For the creation of or she produced might possibly develop into new remedies is the goal of a pharmaceutical ch emist's research activity; therein lies the meaning of his or her work. Nonmedical Use of LSD than ten years of This joy at having fathered LSD wa s tarnished after more uninterrupted scientific res earch and medicinal use when LSD was swept up in the huge wave of an inebriant mania that began to spread over the Western world, above all the s strange how rapidly LSD adopted its new United States, at the end of the 1950s. It wa mber-one inebriating drug, at least as far role as inebriant and, for a time, became the nu as an inebriant was disseminated, bringing as publicity was concerned. The more its use an upsurge in the number of untoward incidents caused by careless, medically unsupervised use, the more LSD became a problem child for me and for the Sandoz firm. It was obvious that a substance with su ch fantastic effects on mental perception and on nd inner world would also arou se interest outside medical the experience of the outer a ected that LSD, with its unfathomably uncanny, profound science, but I had not exp effects, so unlike the charact er of a recreational drug, woul d ever find worldwide use as an inebriant. I had expected curiosity and interest on the part of artists outside of medicine—performers, painters, and writers—bu t not among people in general. After the scientific publicati ons around the turn of the century on mescaline—which, as already those of LSD—the use of this compound mentioned, evokes psychic effects quite like nts within artistic a nd literary circles. I remained confined to medicine and to experime had expected the same fate for LSD. And indeed, the first non-medi cinal self-experiments with LSD were carried out by writers, pain ters, musicians, and other intellectuals. LSD sessions had reportedly provoked ex xperiences and granted traordinary aesthetic e new insights into the essence of the creative process. Artists were influenced in their creative work in unconventional wa ys. A particular type of ar t developed that has become known as psychedelic art. It comprises crea tions produced under the influenced of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, whereby the drugs acted as stimulus and source of inspiration. The standard publica tion in this field is the book by Robert E. L. Masters and Jean Houston, (Balance House, 1968). Works of psychedelic art are not Psychedelic Art created while the drug is in e ffect, but only afterward, the ar tist being inspired by these experiences. As long as the inebriated conditi on lasts, creative activity is impeded, if not completely halted. The influx of images is t oo great and is increasi ng too rapidly to be portrayed and fashioned. An overwhelming visi on paralyzes activity. Artistic productions arising directly from LSD ineb riation, therefore, are mostly rudimentary in character and deserve consideration not because of their arti stic merit, but because they are a type of
31 psychoprogram, which offers insight into the deepest mental structures of the artist, was demonstrated later in a large-scale activated and made conscious by LSD. This experiment by the Munich psychiatrist Rich ard P. Hartmann, in which thirty famous Malerei aus Bereichen des painters took part. He published the results in his book Unbewussten: Kunstler Experimentieren unter LSD [Painting from spheres of the unconscious: artists experiment with LSD], Verlag M. Du Mont Schauberg, Cologne, 1974). LSD experiments also gave new impetus to exploration into the essence of religious and mystical experience. Religious scholar s and philosophers discussed the question whether the religious and mys tical experiences often discovered in LSD sessions were genuine, that is, comparable to spontan eous mysticoreligious enlightenment. This nonmedicinal yet earnest phase of LSD research, at times in parallel with was increasingly overshadowed at the medicinal research, at times following it, beginning of the 1960s, as LSD use spread with epidemic-like speed through all social classes, as a sensational ineb the inebriant mania in the riating drug, in the course of drug use, which had its begi United States. The rapid rise of nning in this country about twenty years ago, was not, however, a cons equence of the discovery of LSD, as superficial observers often declared. Rather it had deep-seated sociological causes: easing urbanization, materialism, alienation from nature through industrialization and incr lack of satisfaction in professional employm ent in a mechanized, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in a wealthy, sa turated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philoso phical foundation of life. The existence of LSD was even regarded by the drug enthusiasts as a predestined coincidence—it had to be discovered precisely at this time in order to bring help to people suffering under the modern conditions. It is not surprising that LSD first came into circulation as an inebriating drug in the United States, the country in which even of agriculture, are most broadly industrialization, urbanization, and mechanization, led to the origin and growth of the hippie advanced. These are the same factors that have movement that developed simultaneously with the LSD wave. The two cannot be dissociated. It would be wo rth investigating to what extent the consumption of psychedelic drugs furthered the hippie movement and conversely. The spread of LSD from medicine and ug scene was introduced psychiatry into the dr and expedited by publications on sensational LSD experiments that, although they were carried out in psychiatric clin ics and universities, were not then reported in scientific journals, but rather in magazines and daily papers, greatly elaborated. Reporters made themselves available as guin ea pigs. Sidney Katz, for example, participated in an LSD experiment in the Saskatchewan Hospital in Canada under the supervision of noted psychiatrists; his experiences, however, were not published in a medi cal journal. Instead, y Twelve Hours as a Madman" in his magazine he described them in an article entitled "M MacLean's Canada National Magazine, colorfully illustrated in fanciful fullness of detail. The widely distributed German magazine Quick, in its issue number 12 of 21 March 1954, reported a sensational eyewitness account on "Ein kuhnes wissenschaftliches Experiment" [a daring scientific experiment] by the painter Wilfried Zeller, who took "a few drops of lysergic acid" in the Vienne se University Psychiatric Clinic. Of the numerous publications of this type that have made effectiv e lay propaganda for LSD, it is sufficient to cite just one more example: a large-scale, illu strated article in Look magazine
32 of September 1959. Entitled "The Curious St ory Behind the New Cary Grant," it must sion of LSD consumption. The famous movie have contributed enormously to the diffu star had received LSD in a respected clin ic in California, in the course of a the Look reporter that he had sought inner psychotherapeutic treatment. He informed peace his whole life long, but yoga, hypnosis, and mysticism had not helped him. Only trengthened man out of him, so that after the treatment with LSD had made a new, self-s three frustrating marriages he now believed himself really able to love and make a woman happy. The evolution of LSD from remedy to inebriating drug was, however, primarily promoted by the activities of Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert of Harvard speak in more detail about Dr. Leary and my University. In a later section I will come to meetings with this personage who has become known worldwide as an apostle of LSD. Books also appeared on the U.S. market in which the fantastic effects of LSD were e most important will be mentioned: reported more fully. Here only two of th Exploring Inner Space ace and World, New York, 1961) and My Self by Jane Dunlap (Harcourt Br by Constance A. Newland (N A.L. Si and I gnet Books, New York, 1963). Although in both cases LSD was used within the scope of a psychiatric treatment, the authors addressed their books, which became bestse llers, to the broad public. In her book, Frank Record of One Woman's Courageous subtitled "The Intimate and Completely ug, LSD 25," Constance A. Newland described Experiment with Psychiatry's Newest Dr in intimate detail how she had been cured of frigidity. After such avowals, one can easily imagine that many people would want to try the wondrous medicine for themselves. The mistaken opinion created by such reports— that it would be sufficient simply to take LSD in order to accomplish such miraculous eff ects and transformations in oneself—soon led to broad diffusion of self-expe rimentation with the new drug. nd its problems also appeared, such as the Objective, informative books about LSD a The Beyond Within (Atheneum, excellent work by the psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Cohen, New York, 1967), in which the dangers of car eless use are clearly exposed. This had, however, no power to put a st op to the LSD epidemic. As LSD experiments were often ca rried out in ignorance of the uncanny, unforeseeable, profound effects, and without me dical supervision, they frequently came to a bad end. With increasing LSD consumpti on in the drug scene, there came an increase in "horror trips"—LSD experiments that led to disoriented conditions and panic, often resulting in accidents and even crime. The rapid rise of nonmedicinal LSD consumption at the beginning of the 1960s was also partly attributable current in most countries did not to the fact that the drug laws then include LSD. For this reason, drug habitués ch anged from the legally proscribed narcotics to the still-legal substance LSD. Moreover, the last of the Sandoz patents for the production of LSD expired in 1963, removing a further hindrance to illegal manufacture of the drug. The rise of LSD in the drug scene caused our firm a nonproductive, laborious burden. National control laboratories a nd health authorities requeste d statements from us about chemical and pharmacological properties, stabil ity and toxicity of LSD, and analytical methods for its detection in confiscated drug samples, as well as in the human body, in blood and urine. This brought a voluminous correspondence, which expanded in connection with inquiries from all over the world about accidents, poisonings, criminal
33 acts, and so forth, resulting from misuse of LSD. All this meant enormous, unprofitable Sandoz regarded with disapproval. Thus difficulties, which the business management of it happened one day that Professor Stoll, managing director of the firm at the time, said to me reproachfully: "I would rather you had not discovered LSD." n assailed by doubts whether the valuable At that time, I was now and agai ffects of LSD might be outwe ighed by its dangers and by pharmacological and psychic e manity, or a curse? possible injuries due to misuse. Would LSD b ecome a blessing for hu my problem child. My other preparations, This I often asked myself when I thought about Methergine, Dihydroergotamine, and Hydergine, caused me no such problems and difficulties. They were not problem children; lacking extravagant properties leading to misuse, they have developed in a satisf ying manner into therapeutically valuable medicines. high point in the years 1964 to 1966, not only The publicity about LSD attained its with regard to enthusiastic claims about the wondrous effects of LSD by drug fanatics and hippies, but also to reports of accidents , mental breakdowns, criminal acts, murders, and suicide under the influence of LSD. A veritable LSD hysteria reigned. Sandoz Stops LSD Distribution In view of this situation, the manage ment of Sandoz was forced to make a public statement on the LSD problem and to publis h accounts of the corresponding measures that had been taken. The pertinent letter, da ted 23 August 1965, by Dr. A. Cerletti, at the time director of the Pharmaceutical Depart ment of Sandoz, is reproduced below: Decision Regarding LSD 25 and Other Hallucinogenic Substances More than twenty years have elapsed since the discovery by Albert Hofmann of LSD fundamental importance of this discovery 25 in the SANDOZ Laboratories. Whereas the . of modern psychiatri c research, it must may be assessed by its impact on the development be recognized that it placed a heavy burden of responsibility on SANDOZ, the owner of this product. standing biological properties, apart from the The finding of a new chemical with out scientific success implied by its synthesis, is usually the first decisive step toward profitable development of a new drug. In the case of LSD, however, it soon became clear that, despite the outstanding properties of th is compound, or rather because of the very nature of these qualities, even though LSD was fully protected by SANDOZ-owned patents since the time of its first synthesis in 1938, the usual means of practical exploitation could not be envisaged. On the other hand, all the evidence obtai ned following the initial studies in animals and humans carried out in the SAND OZ research laboratories po inted to the important role that this substance could play as an investig ational tool in neurol ogical research and in psychiatry. It was therefore decided to make LSD available free of charge to qualified experimental and clinical investigators all over the world. This broa d research approach
34 was assisted by the provision of any necessary technical aid and in many instances also by financial support. An enormous amount of scientific documents, published mainly in the international biochemical and medical literature and systematically listed in the "SANDOZ ogue of Literature on Delysid" periodically Bibliography on LSD" as well as in the "Catal edited by SANDOZ, gives vivid proof of what has been achieved by following this line of policy over nearly two decades. By exer cising this kind of "nobile officium" in accordance with the highest standards of medical ethics with all kinds of self-imposed precautions and restrictions, it was possible for many years to avoid the danger of abuse lified), which is always inherent in a (i.e., use by people neither competent nor qua compound with exceptional CNS activity. In spite of all our prec autions, cases of LSD abuse have occurred from time to time in e control of SANDOZ. Very recently this varying circumstances completely beyond th and in some parts of the wo danger has increased considerably rld has reached the scale of affairs has now reached a critical point for a serious threat to public health. This state of ead of misconceptions of LSD has been the following reasons: (1) A worldwide spr caused by an increasing amount of publicity aimed at provoking an active interest in laypeople by means of sensational stories and statements; (2) In most countries no adequate legislation exists to control and regulate the production and distribution of substances like LSD; (3) The problem of av ailability of LSD, once limited on technical grounds, has fundamentally changed with the advent of mass production of lysergic acid by fermentation procedures. Since the last patent on LSD expired in 1963, it is not surprising to find that an incr easing number of dealers in fine chemicals are offering LSD from unknown sources at the high price known to be paid by LSD fanatics. Taking into considera tion all the above-mentioned ci rcumstances and the flood of requests for LSD which has now become uncontrollable, the pharmaceutical management of SANDOZ has decided to stop immediately and distribution of all further production LSD. The same policy will apply to all derivatives or analogues of LSD with hallucinogenic properties as well as to Psilo cybin, Psilocin, and their hallucinogenic congeners. For a while the distribution of LSD a nd psilocybin was stopped completely by Sandoz. strict regulations concerning possession, Most countries had subsequently proclaimed sicians, psychiatric c linics, and research distribution, and use of hallucinogens, so that phy institutes, if they could produce a special perm it to work with these substances from the respective national health authorities, could again be supplied with LSD and psilocybin. In the United States the National Institu te of Mental Health (NIMH) undertook the distribution of these agents to licensed research institutes. ecautions, however, had little influence on LSD All these legislative and official pr consumption in the drug scene, yet on th e other hand hindered and continue to hinder medicinal-psychiatric use and LSD resear ch in biology and neurology, because many researchers dread the red tape that is connected with the procurement of a license for the use of LSD. The bad reputation of LSD—its depiction as an "insanity drug" and a "satanic invention" - constitutes a further reason why many doctors shunned use of LSD in their psychiatric practice. In the course of recent years the uproar of publicity about LSD has quieted, and the consumption of LSD as an inebriant has also diminished, as far as that can be concluded
35 from the rare reports about accidents and other regrettable occurrences following LSD ingestion. It may be that the decrease of LSD accidents, however, is not simply due to a decline in LSD consumption. Possibly the recr eational users, with time, have become more aware of the particular effects and dangers of LSD and more cautious in their use of this drug. Certainly LSD, which was for a time considered in the Western world, above the number-one inebriant, has relinquished this leading role all in the United States, to be to other inebriants such as hashish and the habituating, even physically destructive drugs like heroin and amphetamine. The last-m entioned drugs represent an alarming sociological and public health problem today. Dangers of Nonmedicinal LSD Experiments LSD in psychiatry entails hard While professional use of e ingestion of ly any risk, th this substance outside of me supervision, is subject to dical practice, without medical on the one hand, in external circumstances multifarious dangers. These dangers reside, other hand, in the peculiarity of LSD's connected with illegal drug use and, on the psychic effects. e of LSD and other hallucinogens base their The advocates of uncontrolled, free us drug produces no addiction, and (2) until now no attitude on two claims: (l) this type of danger to health from moderate use of hallucinogens has been demonstrated. Both are true. Genuine addiction, charac terized by the fact that psychic and often severe physical disturbances appear on withdr awal of the drug, has not been observed, even in cases in which LSD was taken often and ove r a long period of time. No organic injury or death as on has yet been reported. As discussed in a direct consequence of an LSD intoxicati al Experiments and Biological Research," LSD greater detail in the chapter "LSD in Anim c substance in proportion to it s extraordinarily high psychic is actually a relatively nontoxi activity. Psychotic Reactions Like the other hallucinogens, however, LSD is dangerous in an entirely different sense. While the psychic and physical dangers of the addicting narcotics, the opiates, amphetamines, and so forth, appear only w ith chronic use, the possible danger of LSD exists in every single experiment. This is be cause severe disoriented states can appear during any LSD inebriation. It is true that through careful pr eparation of the experiment and the experimenter such episodes can largel y be avoided, but they cannot be excluded with certainty. LSD crises resemble psychotic attacks with a manic or depressive character. In the manic, hyperactive condition, the feeling of omnipotence or invulnerability can lead to serious casualties. Such accidents have occurred when inebriated persons confused in this way—believing themselves to be invulnerable—walked in front of a moving automobile or jumped out a window in th e belief that they were able to fly. This
36 type of LSD casualty, however, is not so co mmon as one might be led to think on the exaggerated by the mass media. Nevertheless, basis of reports that were sensationally such reports must serve as serious warnings. 1966, about an alleged On the other hand, a report that made th e rounds worldwide, in murder committed under the influence on LSD, cannot be true. The suspect, a young man in New York accused of having killed his mother-in-law, explained at his arrest, immediately after the fact, that he knew nothi ng of the crime and that he had been on an LSD trip for three days. But an LSD inebriat ion, even with the highest doses, lasts no longer than twelve hours, and repeated ingest ion leads to tolerance, which means that extra doses are ineffective. Besides, LSD ineb riation is characterized by the fact that the person remembers exactly what he or she has experienced. Presumably the defendant in this case expected leniency for extenu ating circumstances, owing to unsoundness of mind. reaction is especially great The danger of a psychotic if LSD is given to someone trated in an episode without his or her knowledge. This was demons that took place soon after the discovery of LSD, during the first i nvestigations with the new substance in the Zurich University Psychiatric Clinic, when people were not yet aware of the danger of d slipped LSD into his coffee as a lark, such jokes. A young doctor, whose colleagues ha the winter at -20!C (-4!F) and had to be wanted to swim across Lake Zurich during prevented by force. There is a different danger when the LS D-induced disorientation exhibits a depressive rather than manic character. In the course of such an LSD experiment, frightening visions, death agony, or the fear of becoming insane can lead to a threatening psychic breakdown or even to suicide. Here the LSD trip becomes a "horror trip." The demise of a Dr. Olson, who had b een given LSD without his knowledge in the course of U.S. Army drug experiments, and who then committed suicide by jumping from a window, caused a particular sensati on. His family could not understand how this quiet, well-adjusted man could have been driven to this deed. Not until fifteen years later, when the secret documents about the experime nts were published, did they learn the true the United States publicly apologized to the circumstances, whereupon the president of dependents. an LSD experiment, with little possibility of The conditions for the positive outcome of a psychotic derailment, reside on the one hand in the individual and on the other hand in the external milieu of the experiment. The in ternal, personal factors are called set, the external conditions setting. The beauty of a living room or of an out door location is perceived with particular force because of the highly stimulated sense organs during LSD inebriation, and such an amenity has a substantial influence on the cour se of the experiment. The persons present, their appearance, their traits, are also part of the setting that determines the experience. The acoustic milieu is equally significant. Even harmless noises can turn to torment, and conversely lovely music can develop into a euphoric experience. With LSD experiments in ugly or noisy surroundings, however, there is greater danger of a negative outcome, including psychotic crises. The machine- a nd appliance-world of today offers much scenery and all types of noise that could very well tr igger panic during enhanced sensibility. Just as meaningful as the external milieu of the LSD experience, if not even more
37 important, is the mental condition of the expe rimenters, their current state of mind, their ce, and their expectations associated with it. Even attitude to the drug experien unconscious feelings of happiness or fear can have an effect. LSD tends to intensify the be heightened to bliss, a depression can actual psychic state. A feeling of happiness can deepen to despair. LSD is thus the most inappropriate means imaginable for curing a rous to take LSD in a distur bed, unhappy frame of mind, or in depressive state. It is dange a state of fear. The probability that the e xperiment will end in a psychic breakdown is then quite high. structures, tending to psychotic reactions, Among persons with unstable personality LSD experimentation ought to be completely avoided. Here an LSD shock, by releasing a ce a lasting mental injury. latent psychosis, can produ so be considered as unstable, in the sense The psyche of very young persons should al hock of such a powerful stream of new and of not yet having matured. In any case, the s engendered by LSD, endangers the sensitive, strange perceptions and feelings, such as is still-developing psycho-organism. Even the medicinal use of LSD in youths under eighteen years of age, in the scope of psychoa nalytic or psychotherapeutic treatment, is rcles, correctly so in my discouraged in professional ci opinion. Juveniles for the most part still lack a secure, solid relationship to reality. Such a relationship is needed before the dramatic experience of new dimensions of reality can be meaningfully integrated into the world view. Instead of leading to a broadening and deepening of reality consciousness, such an experience in adolescent s will lead to insecuri ty and a feeling of being lost. Because of the freshness of sens ory perception in youth and the still-unlimited eous visionary experiences occur much more frequently capacity for experience, spontan r this reason as well, psychostimulating agents should not be used by than in later life. Fo juveniles. Even in healthy, adult persons, even w ith adherence to all of the preparatory and ment can fail, causing psychotic reactions. protective measures discussed, an LSD experi to be recommended, even for nonmedicinal Medical supervision is therefore earnestly LSD experiments. This should include an exam ination of the state of health before the experiment. The doctor need not be present at the session; however, medical help should at all times be readily available. Acute LSD psychoses can be cut short and brought under control quickly and reliably by injection of chlorpromazine or another sedative of this type. The presence of a familiar person, who can request medical help in the event of an emergency, is also an indispensable psychological assuran ce. Although the LSD inebriation is characterized mostly by an immersion in the individua l inner world, a deep need for human contact sometimes arises , especially in depressive phases. LSD from the Black Market Nonmedicinal LSD consumption can bring dangers of an entirely different type than hitherto discussed: for most of the LSD offered in the drug scene is of unknown origin. LSD preparations from the black market are unreliable when it comes to both quality and dosage. They rarely contain the declared qua ntity, but mostly have less LSD, often none
38 at all, and sometimes even too much. In many cases other drugs or even poisonous substances are sold as LSD. These obser vations were made in our laboratory upon om the black market. They coincide with analysis of a great number of LSD samples fr the experiences of national drug control departments. The unreliability in the strength of LSD preparations on the illicit drug market can lead ten proved to be the cause of failed LSD to dangerous overdosage. Overdoses have of physical breakdowns. Reports of alleged fatal experiments that led to severe psychic and LSD poisoning, however, have yet to be confirmed. Close scrutiny of such cases invariably established other causative factors. The following case, which took place in 197 0, is cited as an example of the possible dangers of black market LSD. We received for investigation from the police a drug a young man who was admitted to the hospital powder distributed as LSD. It came from in critical condition and whose friend had also ingested this preparation and died as a result. Analysis showed that the powder cont the very poisonous ained no LSD, but rather alkaloid strychnine. contained less than the stated quantity and If most black market LSD preparations often no LSD at all, the reason is either deliberate falsification or the great instability of this substance. LSD is very sensitive to air and light. It is oxidatively destroyed by the oxygen in the air and is transformed into an inactive substance under the influence of especially during the light. This must be taken into account during the synthesis and Claims that LSD may easily be prepared, or production of stable, storable forms of LSD. that every chemistry student in a half-decent laboratory is capable of producing it, are untrue. Procedures for synthesi s of LSD have indeed been p ublished and are accessible to everyone. With these detailed procedures in hand , chemists would be able to carry out the synthesis, provided they had pure lysergic acid at their disposal; its possession today, strict regulations as LSD. In however, is subject to the same order to isolate LSD in pure crystalline form from the reaction solution a nd in order to produce stable preparations, however, special equipment and not easily acq uired specific experience are required, owing (as stated previously) to the great instability of this substance. Only in completely oxygen-free ampules pr otected from light is LSD absolutely stable. Such ampules, containing 100 μg (= 0.1 mg) LSD- tartrate (tartaric aci d salt of LSD) in 1 cc of aqueous solution, were produced for bi ological research and medicinal use by the Sandoz firm. LSD in tablets prepared with additives that inhibit oxidation, while not absolutely stable, at least keeps for a l onger time. But LSD preparations often found on the black market—LSD that has been applie d in solution onto sugar cubes or blotting paper—decompose in the course of weeks or a few months. With such a highly potent substance as LSD, the correct dosage is of paramount importance. Here the tenet of Paracelsus holds good: the dose determines whether a substance acts as a remedy or as a poison. A controlled dosage, however, is not possible with preparations from the black market, w hose active strength is in no way guaranteed. One of the greatest dangers of non-medicinal LS D experiments lies, th erefore, in the use of such preparations of unknown provenience. The Case of Dr. Leary
39 Dr. Timothy Leary, who has become known worldwide in his role of drug apostle, had an extraordinarily strong influence on th e diffusion of illegal LSD consumption in the in Mexico in the year 1960, Leary had eaten United States. On the occasion of a vacation the legendary "sacred mushrooms," which he had purchased from a shaman. During the mushroom inebriation he entered into a st ate of mystico-religious ecstasy, which he described as the deepest religious experience of his life. From then on, Dr. Leary, who at the time was a lecturer in psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated himself totally to research on the eff ects and possibilities of the d Alpert, he started use of psychedelic drugs. Together with hi s colleague Dr. Richar psilocybin, isolated by us in the university, in which LSD and various research projects at the meantime, were employed. The reintegration of convicts into society, the pr oduction of mystico-religious e clergy, and the furthera experiences in theologians and members of th nce of creativity in artists and writers with the help of LSD a nd psilocybin were tested with scientific y, Arthur Koestler, and Allen Ginsberg methodology. Even persons like Aldous Huxle ations. Particular considerati on was given to the question, to participated in these investig what degree mental preparation and expectati on of the subjects, along with the external nce the course and character of states of milieu of the experiment, are able to influe psychedelic inebriation. tailed report of these st udies, in which he In January 1963, Dr. Leary sent me a de enthusiastically imparted the positive results obtained and gave expression to his beliefs in the advantages and very promising possibili ties of such use of these active compounds. At the same time, the Sandoz firm received an inquiry about the supply of 100g LSD and 25 kg psilocybin, signed by Dr. Timothy Leary, fr om the Harvard University Department of Social Relations. The requirement for such an enormous quantity (the stated amounts illion doses of psilocybin) was based on correspond to 1 million doses of LSD and 2.5 m igations to tissue, organ, and animal studies. We made the the planned extension of invest supply of these substances contingent upon th e production of an import license on behalf of the U.S. health authorities. Immediately we received the order for the stated quantities for $10,000 as deposit but without the of LSD and psilocybin, along with a check is order, but no longer as lecturer at required import license. Dr. Leary signed for th Harvard University, rather as president of an organization he had recently founded, the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF). Because, in addition, our inquiry to the appropriate dean of Harvard University had shown that the unive rsity authorities did not approve of the continuation of the resear ch project by Leary and Alpert, we canceled our offer upon return of the deposit. were discharged from the teaching staff of Shortly thereafter, Leary and Alpert Harvard- University because the investigations, at first conducted in an academic milieu, had lost their scientific character. The e xperiments had turned into LSD parties. The LSD trip—LSD as a ticket to an adventurous journey into new worlds of mental and physical experience—became the late st exciting fashion among academic youth, spreading rapidly from Harvard to other un iversities. Leary's doctrine—that LSD not only served to find the divine indeed was the most potent and to discover the self, but aphrodisiac yet discovered—surely contributed quite decisively to the rapid propagation of LSD consumption among the younger genera tion. Later, in an interview with the monthly magazine Playboy, Leary said that th e intensification of sexual experience and
40 the potentiation of sexual ecsta sy by LSD was one of the chief reasons for the LSD boom. After his expulsion from Harvard Univer sity, Leary was comple tely transformed from the messiah of the psychedelic movement. a psychology lecturer pursuing research, into He and his friends of the IFIF founded a psyc r in lovely, scenic hedelic research cente surroundings in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. I received a personal invitation from Dr. Leary to s, scheduled to take place participate in a top-level pl anning session on psychedelic drug there in August 1963. I would gladly have accept ed this grand invitation, in which I was offered reimbursement for travel expenses and free lodging, in order to learn from personal observation the methods, operation, and the entire atmosphere of such a psychedelic research center, about which cont radictory, to some extent very remarkable, reports were then circulating. Unfortunately, kept me at that professional obligations moment from flying to Mexico to get a pi the controversial cture at first hand of did not last long. Leary and his adherents enterprise. The Zihuatanejo Research Center xican government. Leary, however, who had were expelled from the country by the Me now become not only the messiah but also th e martyr of the psychedelic movement, soon millionaire William Hitchcock, who made a received help from the young New York manorial house on his large estate in Millbr ook, New York, available to Leary as new home and headquarters. Millbrook was also the home of another foundation for the psychedelic, transcendental way of life, the Castalia Foundation. On a trip to India in 1965 Leary was converted to Hinduism. In the following year he founded a religious community, the League for Spiritual Discovery, whose initials give the abbreviation "LSD." Leary's proclamation to youth, condensed in his famous slogan "Turn on, tune in, drop out !", became a central dogma of the hippie movement. Leary is one of the founding fathers of the hippie cult. The rop out," was the challenge to last of these three precepts, "d escape from bourgeois life, to turn one's b ack on society, to give up school, studies, and the true inner univers e, the study of one's employment, and to dedicate oneself wholly to with LSD. This challenge above all went own nervous system, after one has turned on beyond the psychological and religious domai n to assume social and political significance. It is therefore understandable that Leary not only became the enfant terrible of the university and among his academic co lleagues in psychology and psychiatry, but also earned the wrath of the political au thorities. He was, th erefore, placed under surveillance, followed, and ultimately locked in prison. The high sentences—ten years' xas and California concerning possession of imprisonment each for convictions in Te LSD and marijuana, and conviction (later overturned) with a sentence of thirty years' at the punishment of these offenses was imprisonment for marijuana smuggling—show th only a pretext: the real aim was to put under lo ck and key the seducer and instigator of youth, who could not otherwise be prosecute d. On the night of 13-14 September 1970, Leary managed to escape from the Californi a prison in San Luis Obispo. On a detour from Algeria, where he made contact with Eldridge Cleaver, a leader of the Black Panther movement living there in exile, Lear y came to Switzerland and there petitioned for political asylum.
41 Meeting with Timothy Leary Dr. Leary lived with his wife, Rosemary, in the resort town Villars-sur-Ollon in Dr. Mastronardi, Dr. Leary's lawyer, western Switzerland. Through the intercession of contact was established between us. On 3 September 1971, I met Dr. Leary in the railway ng was cordial, a symbol of our fateful station snack bar in Lausanne. The greeti relationship through LSD. Leary was medium-si zed, slender, resiliently active, his brown face surrounded with slightly curly hair mixed with gray, youthful, with bright, laughing eyes. This gave Leary somewhat the mark of a tennis champion rather than that of a former Harvard lecturer. We traveled by autom obile to Buchillons, where in the arbor of the restaurant A la Grande Forêt, over a m eal of fish and a glass of white wine, the dialogue between the father and th e apostle of LSD finally began. I voiced my regret th at the investigations with LSD and psilocybin at Harvard University, which had begun promisingly, had de extent that their generated to such an continuance in an academic milieu became impossible. eary, however, concerned the propagation of LSD My most serious remonstrance to L refute my opinions about the particular use among juveniles. Leary did not attempt to dangers of LSD for youth. He maintained, howev er, that I was unjustified in reproaching him for the seduction of immature persons to drug consumption, because teenagers in the United States, with regard to information a comparable to adult nd life experience, were Europeans. Maturity, with satiation and inte llectual stagnation, would be reached very early in the United States. For that reason, he deemed the LSD experience significant, useful, and enriching, even for pe ople still very young in years. In this conversation, I further objected to the great publicity th at Leary sought for his LSD and psilocybin investigations, since he had invited reporters from daily papers and magazines to his experiments and had m obilized radio and television. Emphasis was thereby placed on publicity rather than on objective information. Leary defended this publicity program because he felt it had been hi to make LSD known s fateful historic role worldwide. The overwhelmingly positive effect s of such dissemination, above all among America's younger generation, would make any tr ifling injuries, any regrettable accidents as a result of improper use of LSD, unimportant in comparison, a small price to pay. During this conversation, I ascertai eary an injustice by ned that one did L indiscriminately describing him as a drug apos tle. He made a shar p distinction between psychedelic drugs—LSD, psilocybin, mescalin e, hashish—of whose salutary effects he was persuaded, and the addicting narcotics mo rphine, heroin, etc., against whose use he repeatedly cautioned. My impression of Dr. Leary in this pe rsonal meeting was that of a charming personage, convinced of his mission, who defended his opinions with humor yet uncompromisingly; a man who truly soared high in the clouds perv aded by beliefs in the wondrous effects of psychedelic drugs and the optimism resulting therefrom, and thus a man who tended to underrate or completely overlook practical difficulties, unpleasant facts, and dangers. Leary also showed carelessness regarding ch arges and dangers that concerned his own person, as his further path in life emphatically showed. During his Swiss sojourn, I met Lear y by chance once more, in February 1972, in Basel, on the occasion of a visit by Michael Horowitz, curator of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library in San Francisco, a library specializing in drug liter ature. We traveled
42 together to my house in the country near Bu rg, where we resumed our conversation of the dgety and detached, probably owing to a previous September. Leary appeared fi momentary indisposition, so that our discus sions were less productive this time. That was my last meeting with Dr. Leary. year, having separated from his wife, Rosemary, He left Switzerland at the end of the rt-Smith. After a short stay in Austria, now accompanied by his new friend Joanna Harcou where he assisted in a documentary film about heroin, Leary and friend traveled to Afghanistan. At the airport in Kabul he was apprehended by agents of the American back to the San Luis Obis po prison in California. secret service and brought After nothing had been heard from Leary for a long time, his name again appeared in the daily papers in summer 1975 with the a and early release nnouncement of a parole in 1976. I learned from his friends that he from prison. But he was not set free until early of space travel and with the exploration was now occupied with psychological problems nervous system and interstellar space—that of cosmic relationships between the human is, with problems whose study would bring hi m no further difficulties on the part of governmental authorities. Travels in the Universe of the Soul Thus the Islamic scholar Dr. Rudolf Gelpke entitled his accounts of self-experiments with LSD and psilocybin, which appeared in the publication Antaios , for January 1962, and this title could also be used for the fo llowing descriptions of LSD experiments. LSD s are comparable in many respects. Both trips and the space flights of the astronaut preparations, as far as measures for safety as well as enterprises require very careful objectives are concerned, in order to minimi ze dangers and to derive the most valuable in in space nor the LSD experimenters in results possible. The astronauts cannot rema to earth and everyday reality, where the newly transcendental spheres, they have to return acquired experiences must be evaluated. The following reports were selected in order to demonstrate how varied the experiences of LSD inebriation can be. Th e particular motivation for undertaking the experiments was also decisive in their selection. Without exception, this selection involves only reports by persons who have trie d LSD not simply out of curiosity or as a sophisticated pleasure drug, but who rather experimented with it in the quest for expanded possibilities of experi ence of the inner and outer world; who attempted, with the help of this drug key, to unlock new "doors of perception" (William Blake); or, to continue with the comparison chosen by R udolf Gelpke, who employed LSD to surmount the force of gravity of space and time in the accustomed world view, in order to arrive thereby at new outlooks and understandings in the "universe of the soul." The first two of the following research records are taken from the previously cited report by Rudolf Gelpke in Antaios. Dance of the Spirits in the Wind
43 (0.075 mg LSD on 23 June 1961, 13:00 hours) be considered average, I conversed very After I had ingested this dose, which could animatedly with a professional colleague until approximately 14:00 hours. Following r bookstore where the drug now began to act this, I proceeded alone to the Werthmülle most unmistakably. I discerned, above all, that the subjects of the books in which I rummaged peacefully in the back of the s hop were indifferent to me, whereas random appeared to be details of my surroundings suddenly stood out strongly, and somehow "meaningful." . . . Then, after some ten minutes, I was discovered by a married couple nvolved in a conversation with them that, I known to me, and had to let myself become i admit, was by no means pleasant to me, though not really painful eith er. I listened to the ay. " The things that were discussed (the conversation (even to myself) " as from far aw conversation dealt with Persian stories that I had translated) "belonge d to another world": ss myself (I had, after a world about which I could indeed expre all, recently still inhabited it myself and remembered the "rul es of the game"!), but to which I no longer possessed any emotional connection. My inte rest in it was obliter ated—only I did not dare to let myself observe that. After I managed to dismiss myself, I strolled farther through the city to the marketplace. I had no "visions," saw and hear d everything as usual, and yet everything was also altered in an indescribable way; "i mperceptible glassy walls" everywhere. With every step that I took, I became more and more like an automaton. It especially struck me that I seemed to lose control over my faci al musculature—I was convinced that my face was grown stiff, completely expressionless, empty, slack and mask-like. The only reason on, was because I remembered that, and how I I could still walk and put myself in moti e farther back the recollection went, the had "earlier" gone and moved myself. But th more uncertain I became. I remember that my own hands somehow were in my way: I put them in my pockets, let them dangle, entwined them behind my back . . . as some burdensome objects, which must be dragged around with us and which no one knows quite how to stow away. I had the same reaction concerning my whole body. I no longer knew why it was there, and where I should go with it. All sense for decisions of that kind had been lost . They could only be reconstructed laboriously, taking a detour through memories from the past. It t ook a struggle of this kind to en able me to cover the short distance from the marketplace to my home, which I reached at about 15:10. In no way had I had the feeling of being inebriated. What I experienced was rather a gradual mental extinction. It was not at all frightening; bu t I can imagine that in the transition to certain mental di sturbances - naturally disper sed over a greater interval—a very similar process happens: as long as the former individual the recollection of existence in the human world is still pres ent, the patient who has become unconnected can still (to some extent) find his way about in the world: later, however, when the memories fade and ultimately die out, he completely loses this ability. Shortly after I had entered my room, the "glassy stupor" gave way. I sat down, with a view out of a window, and was at once enraptured: the window was opened wide, the diaphanous gossamer curtains, on the other ha nd, were drawn, and now a mild wind from the outside played with these veils and with the silhouettes of potted plants and leafy tendrils on the sill behind, which the sunlight delineated on the curtains breathing in the breeze. This spectacle captivated me completely. I "sank" into it, saw only this gentle and incessant waving and rocking of the plant sh adows in the sun and the wind. I knew what
44 "it" was, but I sought after the name for it, af ter the formula, after th e "magic word" that I ce of the dead... This was what the wind knew and already I had it: Totentanz, the dan and the light were showing me on the scre en of gossamer. Was it frightening? Was I cheerfulness infiltrated me, and I heard the afraid? Perhaps—at first. But then a great music of silence, and even my soul danced with the redeemed shadows to the whistle of the wind. Yes, I understood: this is the curtai n, and this curtain itself IS the secret, the "ultimate" that it concealed. Why, therefore, tear it up? He who doe s that only tears up hind the curtain, is "nothing.". . . himself. Because "there behind," be Polyp from the Deep (0.150 mg LSD on 15 April 1961, 9:15 hours) Beginning of the effect already after a bout 30 minutes with strong inner agitation, trembling hands, skin chills, taste of metal on the palate. 10:00: The environment of the room transforms itself into phosphorescent waves, running hither from the feet even through my body. The skin—and above all the toes—is as electrically charged; a still constantly growing excitement hinde rs all clear thoughts... rrent condition. It is as if an "other" complete 10:20: I lack the words to describe my cu bit by bit. Have greatest trouble writing stranger were seizing possession of me ("inhibited" or "uninhibited"?—I don't know!). This sinister process of an advancing self-estrangement aroused in me the feeling of powerlessness, of being helplessly deliver ed up. Around 10:30, through closed eyes I saw innumerable, self-intertwining threads on a red background. A sky as heavy as lead appeared to press down on ever ything; I felt my ego compressed in itself, and I felt like a withered dwarf... Shortly before 13:00 I escaped the more and more oppressing atmosphere of the company in the studio, in which we only hindered one another reciprocally from unfolding completely into the inebriation. I sat down in a small, empty room, on the floor, with my back to the wall, and saw through the only window on the narrow frontage opposite me a bit of gray - white cloudy sky. Th is, like the whole ssly normal at this moment. I was dejected, environment in general, appeared to be hopele to me that I had not dared (and on this day and my self seemed so repulsive and hateful even had actually repeatedly desperately avoi ded) to look in a mirror or in the face of another person. I very much wished this inebri ation were finally fini shed, but it still had my body totally in its possession. I imagined th at I perceived, deep within its stubborn oppressive weight, how it held my limbs su rrounded with a hundred polyp arms—yes, I actually experienced this in a my ontacts, as of a real, indeed sterious rhythm; electrified c imperceptible, but sinister omnipresent be ing, which I addressed with a loud voice, reviled, bid, and challenged to open combat. "It is only the project ion of evil in your self," another voice assured me. "It is your soul monster!" This perception was like a flashing sword. It passed through me with redeeming sharpness. The polyp arms fell away from me—as if cut through—and simultaneously th e hitherto dull and gloomy gray-white of the sky behind the open window suddenly scintillated like sunlit water. As I stared at it so enchanted, it changed (for me!) to real water: a subterranean spring overran me, which had ruptured there all at once and now boiled up toward me, wanted to
45 become a storm, a lake, an ocean, with millions and millions of drops—and on all of these drops, on every single one of them, the light danced... As the room, window, and sky came back into my consciousness (it was 13:25 hours), the inebriation was certainly not at an end—not yet—but its rearguard, which passed by me during the ensuing two hours, very much resembled the ra inbow that follows the storm. onment and the estrangement from the individual Both the estrangement from the envir body, experienced in both of the preceding experiments described by Gelpke—as well as the feeling of an alien being, a demon, seiz ing possession of oneself—are features of LSD inebriation that, in spite of all the other diversity and variability of the experience, already described the possession by the LSD are cited in most research reports. I have demon as an uncanny experience in my first pl anned self-experiment. Anxiety and terror se at that time I had no way of knowing that then affected me especially strongly, becau the demon would again release his victim. The adventures described in the followi ng report, by a painter, belong to a completely t visited me in order to obtain my opinion different type of LSD experience. This artis understood and inte rpreted. He feared about how the experience under LSD should be that the profound transformation of his pers onal life, which ha d resulted from his experiment with LSD, could rest on a mere delusion. My explanation—that LSD, as a biochemical agent, only triggered his visions but had not created them and that these visions rather originated fr om his own soul—gave him conf idence in the meaning of his transformation. LSD Experience of a Painter . . . Therefore I traveled with lley. Up there in nature, I Eva to a solitary mountain va thought it would be particularly beautiful with Eva. Eva was young and attractive. Twenty years older than she, I was already in the middle of life. Despite the sorrowful consequences that I had experi enced previously, as a result of erotic escapades, despite ted on those who loved me and had believed the pain and the disappointments that I inflic in me, I was drawn again with irresistible power to this adventure, to Eva, to her youth. I was under the spell of this girl. Our affair indeed was only beginning, but I felt this seductive power more strongly than ever befo re. I knew that I could no longer resist. For the second time in my life I was again ready to desert my family, to give up my position, to break all bridges. I wanted to hurl myself uninhibitedly into this lustful inebriation with Eva. She was life, youth. Over again it cr ied out in me, again and again to drain the cup of lust and life until the last drop, until death and perdition. Let the Devil fetch me later on! I had indeed long ago done away w ith God and the Devil. They were for me only human inventions, which came to be ut ilized by a skeptical, unscrupulous minority, in order to suppress and exploit a believing, naive majority. I wanted to have nothing to do with this mendacious social moral. To en joy, at all costs, I wished to enjoy et après nous le deluge. "What is wife to me, what is child to me—let them go begging, if they are hungry." I also perceived the inst itution of marriage as a soci al lie. The marriage of my parents and marriages of my acquaintances s eemed to confirm that sufficiently for me.
46 Couples remained together because it was more convenient; they were accustomed to it, and "yes, if it weren't for the children . . of a good marriage, each ." Under the pretense rashes and stomach ulcers, or each went tormented the other emotionally, to the point of ving to love only one his own way. Everything in me rebelled ag ainst the thought of ha rceived that as repugnant and unnatural. and the same woman a life long. I frankly pe Thus stood my inner disposition on that porte ntous summer evening at the mountain lake. At seven o'clock in the evening both of us took a moderately strong dose of LSD, some e lake and then sat on the bank. We threw 0.1 milligrams. Then we strolled along about th ng wave circles. We felt a slight inner stones in the water and watched the formi restlessness. Around eight o'clock we ente red the hotel lounge and ordered tea and ling jokes and laughing loudly. They winked at sandwiches. Some guests still sat there, tel us. Their eyes sparkled strangely. We felt stra nge and distant and had the feeling that they would notice something in us. Outside it slowly became dark. We decided only reluctantly to go to our hotel room. A street without lights led along the black lake to the distant guest house. As I switched on the light , the granite staircas e, leading from the shore road to the house, appeared to flame up from step to step. Ev a quivered all at once, frightened. "Hellish" went through my mind, and all of a sudden horror passed through my limbs, and I knew: now it's going to turn out badly. From afar, from the village, a clock struck nine. Scarcely were we in our room, when Eva threw herself on the bed and looked at me with wide eyes. It was not in the least possible to think of love. I sat down on the edge of the bed and held both of Eva's hands. Then came the terror. We sank into a deep, indescribable horror, which neither of us understood. "Look in my eyes, look at me," I imp lored Eva, yet again and again her gaze was oud in terror and trembl averted from me, and then she cried out l ed all over her body. There was no way out. Outside was only gloom y night and the deep, black lake. In the public house all the lights were extinguish ed; the people had probably gone to sleep. What would they have said if they could see us now? Possibly they would summon the till much worse. A drug scandal—intolerable police, and then everything would become s agonizing thoughts. We could no longer move from the spot. We sat there surrounded by four wooden walls whose board joints shone infernally. It became more unbearable all the time. Suddenly the door was opened and "something dreadful" entered. Eva cried out wildly and hid herself under the bed covers. Once ag ain a cry. The horror under the covers was yet worse. "Look straight in my eyes!" I called to her, but she rolled her eyes back and forth as though out of her mind. She is beco ming insane, I realized. In desperation I seized her by the hair so that she could no longer turn her face away from me. I saw dreadful fear in her eyes. Everything ar ound us was hostile and threatening, as if everything wanted to attack us in the ne xt moment. You must protect Eva, you must bring her through until morning, then the effects will discontinue, I said to myself. Then again, however, I plunged into nameless horro r. There was no more time or reason; it seemed as if this condition would never end. The objects in the room were animated to caricatures; everyt hing on all sides sneered scornfully. I saw Eva's yellow-black stripe d shoes, which I had found so stimulating, appearing as two large, evil wasps crawli ng on the floor. The water piping above the washbasin changed to a dragon head, whose eyes, the two water taps, observed me
47 malevolently. My first name, George, came in to my mind, and all at once I felt like Knight George, who must fight for Eva. Eva's cries tore me from these thoughts. Bathed in perspiration and trembling, she fastened herself to me. "I am thirsty," she moaned. With great effort, without releasing Eva's hand, I succeeded in getting a glass of water for her. But the water seemed slimy quench our thirst w ith it. The two night- and viscous, was poisonous, and we could not table lamps glowed with a st range brightness, in an infe rnal light. The clock struck twelve. This is hell, I thought. There is ind eed no Devil and no demons, and yet they were perceptible in us, filled up the room, and tormented us with unimaginable terror. Imagination, or not? Hallucinations, proj ections?—insignificant questions when confronted with the reality of fear that was fixed in our bodies and shook us: the fear The Doors of Perception came to alone, it existed. Some passages from Huxley's book me and brought me brief comfort. I looked at Eva, at this whimpering, horrified being in her torment, and felt great remorse and pity. She had become strange to me; I scarcely recognized her any longer. She wore a fine golden chain around her neck with the medallion of the Virgin Mary. It was a gift from her younger brother. I noticed how a benevolent, comforting radiation, which was connected with pure love, emanated from this necklace. But then the terror broke loose again, as if to our final destruction. I needed n Eva. Loudly I heard the elec my whole strength to constrai trical meter ticking weirdly outside of the door, as if it wanted to make a most important, evil, devastating announcement to me in the next moment. Disdain, derision, and malignity again whispered out of all nooks and crevices. There, in the midst of this agony, I perceived the ringing of cowbells from afar as a wonderful, promising music. Yet soon it became silent again, and renewed fear and dread once again set in. As a drowning man hopes for a rescuing plank, so I wished that the cows w ould yet again want to draw near the house. e threatening tick and But everything remained quiet, and only th hum of the current meter buzzed round us like an invisible, malevolent insect. Morning finally dawned. With great re lief I noticed how the chinks in the window shutters lit up. Now I could leave Eva to herself; she had quieted down. Exhausted, she eply sad, I still sat on closed her eyes and fell asleep. Shocked and de the edge of the bed. Gone was my pride and self- a ssurance; all that remained of me was a small heap of misery. I examined myself in the mirror and st arted: I had become ten years older in the course of the night. Downcast, I stared at the light of the night-table lamp with the hideous shade of intertwined plastic cords. All at once the light seemed to become brighter, and in the plastic cords it began to sparkle and to twinkle; it glowed like diamonds and gems of all colors, and an overwhelming feeling of happiness welled up in me. All at once, lamp, room, and Eva disa ppeared, and I found myse lf in a wonderful, fantastic landscape. It was comparable to the interior of an immense Gothic church nave, with infinitely many columns and Gothic arches. These consisted, however, not of stone, but rather of crystal. Bluish, yellowish, m ilky, and clearly transparent crystal columns surrounded me like trees in an open forest. Their points and arches became lost in dizzying heights. A bright light appeared before my inner eye, and a wonderful, gentle voice spoke to me out of the light. I did not hear it with my external ear, but rather perceived it, as if it were clea r thoughts that arise in one. I realized that in the horror of the passing night I had experienced my own individual
48 condition: selfishness. My egotism had kept me separated from mankind and had led me not my neighbor; loved only the gratification to inner isolation. I had loved only myself, ction of my greed. I that the other offered me. The world had exis ted only for the satisfa erefore, had signified that: egotism and had become tough, cold, and cynical. Hell, th lovelessness. Therefore everything had seem ed strange and unconnected to me, so scornful and threatening. Amid flowing tears, I was enlightened with the knowledge that true love means surrender of se lfishness and that it is not desires but rather selfless love fellow man. Waves of ineffable happiness flowed that forms the bridge to the heart of our through my body. I had experienced the grace of God. But how c ould it be possible that it was radiating toward me, partic ularly out of this cheap lampshade? Then the inner voice answered: God is in everything. has given me the certainty that beyond the The experience at the mountain lake imperishable, spiritua l reality, which is our ephemeral, material world there also exists an true home. I am now on my way home. For Eva everything remained just a bad dream. We broke up a short time thereafter. year-old advertising agent are contained in The following notes kept by a twenty-five- The LSD Story by John Cashman (Fawcett P ublications, Greenwich, Conn., 1966). They were included in this selection of LSD reports, along with the preceding example, because the progression that they describe—f rom terrifying visions to extreme euphoria, a kind of death-rebirth cycle—is char acteristic of many LSD experiments. A Joyous Song of Being My first experience with LSD came at the home of a close friend who served as my guide. The surroundings were comfortably fa miliar and relaxing. I took two ampuls (200 micrograms) of LSD mixed in half a glass of distilled water. The experience lasted for close to eleven hours, from 8 o'clock on a Saturday evening until very nearly 7 o'clock the next morning. I have no firm point of co mparison, but I am positive that no saint ever saw more glorious or joyously beautiful visions or experienced a more blissful state of transcendence. My powers to convey the miracles are shabby and far too inadequate to the task at hand. A sketch, and an artless one at that, must suffice where only the hand of tte could do justice to the subject. I must a great master working from a complete pale apologize for my own limitations in this feeble attempt to reduce the most remarkable experience of my life to mere words. My supe rior smile at the fumbling, halting attempts of others in their attempts to explain the heavenly visions to me has been transformed into a knowing smile of a c onspirator—the common experience requires no words. My first thought after dr s having absolutely no effect. inking the LSD was that it wa They had told me thirty minutes would produ ce the first sensation, a tingling of the skin. There was no tingling. I commented on this and was told to relax and wait. For the lack of anything else to do I stared at the dial light of the ta ble radio, nodding my head to a jazz piece I did not recognize. I think it was se veral minutes before I realized that the light was changing color kaleidoscopically with the different pitch of the musical sounds, bright reds and yellows in th e high register, deep purple in the low. I laughed. I had no
49 idea when it had started. I simply knew it had. I closed my eyes, but the colored notes were still there. I was overcome by the remarkab le brilliance of the colors. I tried to talk, and luminous colors. Somehow it didn't seem to explain what I was seeing, the vibrant folding over on top of important. With my eyes open, the radiant co lors flooded the room, one another in rhythm with the music. Suddenly I was aware that the colors were the ng. Values, so cherished and guarded, were music. The discovery did not seem startli the colored music, but I couldn't. I was becoming unimportant. I wanted to talk about reduced to uttering one-syllable words while polysyllabi c impressions tumbled through my mind with the speed of light. The dimensions of the room were changing, now sliding into a fluttering diamond if someone were pumpi ng air into the room, shape, then straining into an oval shape as expanding it to the bursting point. I was ha ving trouble focusing on objects. They would melt into fuzzy masses of nothing or sail off into space, self-propelled, slow-motion trips that were of acute interest to me. I tried to check the time on my watch, but I was unable to focus on the hands. I thought of asking for the time, but the thought passed. I was too busy seeing and listening. The sounds were exhilarating, the sights remarkable. I was completely entranced. I have no idea how long this lasted. I do know the egg came next. The egg, large, pulsating, and a luminous green, was there before I actually saw it. I bout halfway between where I sat and the far sensed it was there. It hung suspended a wall. I was intrigued by the beauty of the egg. At the same time I was afraid it would drop to the floor and break. I didn't want the eg g to break. It seemed most important that the egg should not break. But even as I thought of this, the egg slowly dissolved and revealed a great multihued flower that was like no flower I have ever seen. Its incredibly exquisite petals opened on the room, spraying indescribable colors in every direction. I felt the colors and heard them as they pl ayed across my body, cool and warm, reedlike and tinkling. The first tinge of apprehension came late r when I saw the center of the flower slowly eating away at the petals, a black, shiny center that appeared to be formed by the backs of a thousand ants. It ate away the petals at an agonizingly slow pace. I wanted to scream for it to stop or to hurry up. I was pained by the gradual disappearance of the beautiful petals Then in a flash of insi ght I realiz ed to my as if being swallowed by an insidious disease. er and this foreign, horror that the black thing was actually devouring me. I was the flow creeping thing was eating me! I shouted or screamed, I really don't remember. I was too full of fear and loathing. I heard my guide say: "Easy now. Just go with it. Don't fight it. Go w ith it." I tried, but the hideous blackness caused such repulsion that I screamed: "I can't! For God's sake help me! Help me!" The voice was soothing, reassuring: "Let it co me. Everything is all right. Don't worry. Go with it. Don't fight." ifying apparition, my body melting in waves into I felt myself dissolving into the terr the core of blackness, my mind stripped of ego and life and, yes even death. In one great crystal instant I reali zed that I was immortal. I asked th e question: "Am I dead?" But the question had no meaning. Meaning was meaningl ess. Suddenly there was white light and the shimmering beauty of unity. There was lig ht everywhere, white light with a clarity beyond description. I was dead and I was bor n and the exultation was pure and holy. My lungs were bursting with the joyful song of being. There was unity and life and the exquisite love that filled my being was unbounded. My awareness was acute and
50 complete. I saw God and the devil and all the saints and I knew the truth. I felt myself ted beyond all restraint, liberated to swim in the blissful flowing into the cosmos, levita radiance of the heavenly visions. ous new life and sense and form, of the joyous I wanted to shout and sing of miracul ness. I knew and understood all there is to beauty and the whole mad ecstasy of loveli know and understand. I was immort al, wise beyond wisdom, and capable of love, of all loves. Every atom of my body and soul ha d seen and felt God. The world was warmth and goodness. There was no time, no place, no me. There was only cosmic harmony. It was all there in the white light. With ev ery fiber of my being I knew it was so. I embraced the enlightenment with complete abandonment. As the experience receded against the encroachme I longed to hold onto it and tenaciously fought nt of the realities our limited existence were no longer valid. I of time and place. For me, the realities of had seen the ultimate realities and there would be no others. As I was slowly transported petty hatreds, I tried to talk of my trip, back to the tyranny of clocks and schedules and of it. I must have been babbling like an my enlightenment, the horrors, the beauty, all idiot. My thoughts swirled at a fantastic rate, but the words couldn't keep pace. My guide smiled and told me he understood. The preceding collection of reports on "t ravels in the universe of the soul," even though they encompass such dissimilar experien ces, are still not able to establish a spectrum of all possible reac complete picture of the broad tions to LSD, which extends from the most sublime spiritual, religious , and mystical experiences, down to gross ssions have been described in which the psychosomatic disturbances. Cases of LSD se stimulation of fantasy and of visionary experience, as expressed in the LSD reports assembled here, is completely absent, and the experimenter was for the whole time in a state of ghastly physical and mental disc omfort, or even felt severely ill. Reports about the modification of sexual experience under the influence of LSD are also contradictory. Since stimul ation of all sensory perception is an essential feature of LSD effects, the sensual orgy of sexual intercourse can undergo unimaginable bed, however, in whic h LSD led not to the enhancements. Cases have also been descri anticipated erotic paradise, but rather to a purgatory or even to the hell of frightful extinction of every perception and to a lifeless vacuum. Such a variety and contradiction of r eactions to a drug is found only in LSD and the related hallucinogens. The explanation for this lies in the complexity and variability of the conscious and subconscious minds of peopl e, which LSD is able to penetrate and to bring to life as experienced reality.
51 6. The Mexican Relatives of LSD Teonanácatl The Sacred Mushroom Late in 1956 a notice in the daily pa per caught my interest. Among some Indians in southern Mexico, American researchers had discovered mushrooms that were eaten in religious ceremonies and that produced an inebriated condition accompanied by hallucinations. Since, outside of the mescaline cactus found also in Mexico, no other drug was known at the time that, like LSD, produced halluci nations, I would have liked to establish to learn details about these hallucinogenic contact with these researchers, in order mushrooms. But there were no names and addr esses in the short newspaper article, so that it was impossible to get further in formation. Nevertheless, the mysterious mushrooms, whose chemical investigation w ould be a tempting problem, stayed in my thoughts from then on. eason that these mushrooms found their way into As it later turned out, LSD was the r assistance, at the beginni ng of the following year. my laboratory, with out my Through the mediation of Dr. Yves Dunant, at the time director of the Paris branch of Sandoz, an inquiry came to the pharmaceutical research management in Basel from boratoire de Cryptogamie of the Museum Professor Roger Heim, director of the La National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, asking whether we were interested in carrying out the chemical investigation of the Mexican hallucinogenic mushrooms. With great joy I declared myself ready to begin this work in my department, in the laboratories for natural product research. That was to be my link to the exciting investigations of the Mexican sacred mushrooms, which were already br oadly advanced in the ethnomycological and botanical aspects. For a long time the existence of these magic mushrooms had remained an enigma. The history of their rediscovery is presented at first hand in the magnificent two-volume Mushrooms, Russia and History (Pantheon Books, standard work of ethnomycology, can researchers Valentina Pavlovna Wasson New York, 1957), for the authors, the Ameri and her husband, R. Gordon Wasson, played a de cisive role in this rediscovery. The following descriptions of the fascinating history of these mushrooms are taken from the Wassons' book. The first written evidence of the use of inebriating mush rooms on festival occasions, or in the course of religious ceremonies and magi cally oriented healing practices, is found among the Spanish chroniclers and naturalists of the sixteenth centu ry, who entered the country soon after the conquest of Mexico by Hernando Cortés. The most important of these witnesses is the Franci scan friar Bernardino de Sa hagun, who mentions the magic mushrooms and describes their effects and th eir use in several passages of his famous historical work, Historia General de tas Cosas de Nueva Espana , written between the years 1529 and 1590. Thus he describes, for example, how merchants celebrated the return home from a successful busine ss trip with a mushroom party:
52 Coming at the very first, at the time of feasting, they ate mushrooms when, as they said, it t yet did they partake of food; they drank was the hour of the blowing of the flutes. No only chocolate during the night. And they at e mushrooms with honey. When already the mushrooms were taking effect, there was da ncing, there was weeping... Some saw in a vision that they would die in war. Some sa w in a vision that they would be devoured by wild beasts... Some saw in a vision that they would become rich, wealthy. Some saw in a vision that they would buy slaves, would become slave owners. Some saw in a vision that they would commit adultery [and so] would have their heads bashed in, would be stoned to death... Some saw in a vision that they w ould perish in the water. Some saw in a vision that they would pass to tranquillity in death. Some saw in a vision that they would . . All such things they saw... And when fall from the housetop, tumble to their death. . [the effects of] the mushroom ceased, they conversed with one another, spoke of what they had seen in the vision. In a publication from the same period, Diego Duran, a Dominican friar, reported that eat festivity on the occasion of the accession inebriating mushrooms were eaten at the gr to the throne of Moctezuma II, the famed emperor of the Aztecs, in the year 1502. A passage in the seventeenth-centu ry chronicle of Don Jacinto de la Serna refers to the use of these mushrooms in a religious framework: And what happened was that there had come to [the village] an Indian . . . and his name was Juan Chichiton . . . and he had brought th e red-colored mushrooms that are gathered in the uplands, and with them he had co mmitted a great idolatry... In the house where everyone had gathered on the occa sion of a saint's feast . . . the teponastli [an Aztec percussion instrument] was playing and singing was going on the w hole night through. After most of the night had passed, Juan Chic hiton, who was the priest for that solumn eat, after the manner of rite, to all of those present at the fiesta gave the mushrooms to pulque to drink. . . so that they a ll went out of their heads, a Communion, and gave them shame it was to see. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, these mushrooms were described as teo- , which can be translated as "sacred mushroom." nancatl There are indications that ceremonial use of such mushro oms reaches far back into pre- Columbian times. So-called mushroom st ones have been found in El Salvador, Guatemala, and the contiguous mountainous districts of Mexico. These are stone sculptures in the form of pileate mushroom, on whose stem the face or the form of a god or an animal-like demon is carved. Most are about 30 cm high. The oldest examples, according to archaeologists, date back to before 500 B.C. y, that there is a connection between these R. G. Wasson argues, quite convincingl mushroom stones and teonanácatl . If true, this means that the mushroom cult, the magico-medicinal and religious-ceremonial us e of the magic mushrooms, is more than two thousand years old. To the Christian missionaries, the in ebriating, vision- and hallucination-producing effects of these mushrooms seemed to be Dev il's work. They therefore tried, with all the means in their power, to extirpate their us e. But they succeeded only partially, for the Indians have continued secretly down to our time to utilize the mushroom teonanácatl , which was sacred to them.
53 Strange to say, the reports in the old chronicles about the use of magic mushrooms remained unnoticed during the following centuries, probably because they were considered products of the imagin ation of a superstitious age. All traces of the exis tence of "sacred mushrooms" were in danger of becoming obliterated once and for all, when, in 1915, an American botanist of repute, Dr. W. E. Safford, in an address before the Botanical Society in Washington and in a scientific publication, advanced the thesis that no such thing as magic mushrooms had ever existed at all: the Spanish chroniclers had taken th e mescaline cactus for a mushroom! Even if the attention of the vertheless to direct false, this proposition of Safford's served ne scientific world to the riddle of the mysterious mushrooms. It was the Mexican physician Dr. Blas Pablo Reko who first openly disagreed with Safford's interpretation and who found evidence that mushrooms were still employed in medicinal-religious ceremonies even in our ti me, in remote districts of the southern mountains of Mexico. But not until the year s 19338 did the anthropologist Robert J. Weitlaner and Dr. Richard Evans Schultes, a botanist from Harvard University, find actual mushrooms in that region, which were us ed there for this ceremonial purpose; and only in 1938 could a group of young American anthropologists, under the direction of Jean Bassett Johnson, attend a secret nocturn al mushroom ceremony for the first time. of the Mazatec count This was in Huautla de Jiménez, the capital ry, in the State of Oaxaca. But these researchers were only spectators, they were not permitted to partake of the mushrooms. Johnson reported on th e experience in a Swedish journal ( Ethnological Studies 9, 1939). Then exploration of the magic mush rooms was interrupted. World War II broke out. Schultes, at the behest of the American gove rnment, had to occupy himself with rubber production in the Amazon territory, and Johnson was killed after the Allied landing in North Africa. e married couple Dr. Valentina Pavlovna Wasson It was the American researchers, th and her husband, R. Gordon Wasson, who again took up the problem from the ethnographic aspect. R. G. Wasson was a banker, vice-president of the J. P. Morgan Co. s a pediatrician. The Wassons began their in New York. His wife, who died in 1958, wa Jiménez, where fifteen years earlier J. B. work in 1953, in the Mazatec village Huautla de Johnson and others had established the con tinued existence of the ancient Indian mushroom cult. They received especially valuable information from an American missionary who had been active there for many years, Eunice V. Pike, member of the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Thanks to her knowledge of the na tive language and her ministerial association with the inhabitants, Pike had information about the significance of the magic mushrooms that nobody else possessed. During several lengthy sojourns in Huautla and environs, the Wassons were able to study the present use of the mushrooms in detail and compare it with the descriptions in the old chronicles. This showed that the belief in the "sacred mushrooms" was still pr evalent in that region. However, the Indians kept their beliefs a secret from strangers. It t ook great tact and skill, therefore, to gain the confidence of the indigenous population and to receive insight into this secret domain. In the modern form of the mushroom cult, the old religious ideas and customs are mingled with Christian ideas and Christia n terminology. Thus the mushrooms are often spoken of as the blood of Christ, because they will grow only where a drop of Christ's blood has fallen on the earth. According to an other notion, the mushrooms sprout where a
54 drop of saliva from Christ's mouth has mo istened the ground, and it is therefore Jesus Christ himself who speaks through the mushrooms. The mushroom ceremony follows the form of a consultation. The seeker of advice or a or sick person or his or her family questions a "wise man" or a "wise woman," a sabio curandero or curandera, in return for a modest payment. Curandero sabia, also named unction is that of a ing priest," for his f can best be translated into English as "heal physician as well as that of a priest, both be ing found only rarely in these remote regions. In the Mazatec language the healing priest is called co-ta-ci-ne , which means "one who knows." He eats the mushroom in the framewor k of a ceremony that always takes place at night. The other persons present at th e ceremony may sometimes receive mushrooms curandero as well, yet a much greater dose always goes to the . The performance is executed with the accompaniment of prayers and entreaties, while the mushrooms are incensed briefly over a basin, in which copal (an incense-like resin) is burned. In ile the others present lie quietly on their complete darkness, at times by candlelight, wh ng, prays and sings before a type of altar straw mats, the curandero, kneeling or sitti bearing a crucifix, an image of a saint, or some other object of worship. Under the influence of the sacred mushrooms, the curandero counsels in a visionary state, in which even the inactive observers more or less participate. In the monotonous song of the curandero, the mushroom teonanácatl gives its answers to the questions posed. It says whether the diseased person will live or die, which herbs will effect the cure; it reveals rson, or who has stolen the horse; or it makes known how a who has killed a specific pe distant relative fares, and so forth. The mushroom ceremony not only has th e function of a consulation of the type described, for the Indians it also has a meaning in many respects similar to the Holy Communion for the believing Chri stian. From many utterances of the natives it could be n the Indians the sacred mushroom because inferred that they believe that God has give they are poor and possess no doctors and medicines; and also, because they cannot read, in particular the Bible, God can therefore speak directly to them through the mushroom. The missionary Eunice V. Pike even alluded to the difficulties that result from explaining the Christian message, the written word, to a people who believe they possess a means— the sacred mushrooms of course - to make God's will known to them in a direct, clear manner: yes, the mushrooms permit them to see into heaven and to establish communication with God himself. The Indians' reverence for the sacred mu shrooms is also evident in their belief that on. "Clean" here means ceremonially clean, and they can be eaten only by a "clean" pers that term among other things includes sexual abstinence at least four days before and after ingestion of the mushrooms. Certain rules must also be observed in gathering the mushrooms. With non-observance of these commandments, the mushrooms can make the person who eats it insane, or can even kill. The Wassons had undertaken their first expedition to the Mazatec country in 1953, but not until 1955 did they succeed in overcoming the shyness and reserve of the Mazatec of being admitted as active participants in friends they had managed to make, to the point a mushroom ceremony. R. Gordon Wasson and his companion, the photographer Allan Richardson, were given sacred mushrooms to eat at the end of June 1955, on the occasion of a nocturnal mushroom ceremony. They th ereby became in all likelihood the first outsiders, the first whites, ever permitted to take teonanácatl .
55 In the second volume of Mushrooms, Russia and History, in enraptured words, Wasson describes how the mushroom seized possession of him completely, although he had tried to struggle against its effects, in order to be able to remain an objective observer. First he aracteristics. Next saw geometric, colored patterns, which then took on architectural ch followed visions of splendid colonnades, palaces of supernatural harmony and magnificence embellished with precious gems, triumphal cars drawn by fabulous creatures as they are known only from mythology, and lands capes of fabulous luster. Detached from the body, the spirit soared timelessly in a realm of fantasy among images of a higher reality and deeper meaning than those of the ordinar y, everyday world. The be on the verge of being unlocked, but the essence of life, the ineffable, seemed to ultimate door failed to open. This experience was the final proof, fo r Wasson, that the magica l powers attributed to were not merely superstition. the mushrooms actually existed and to scientific research, Wasson had earlier In order to introduce the mushrooms ogist Professor Roger Heim of Paris. established an association with mycol Accompanying the Wassons on further expeditions into the Mazatec country, Heim conducted the botanical identifi cation of the sacred mushroom s. He showed that they were gilled mushrooms from the family Strophariaceae, about a dozen different species not previously described scie Psilocybe. ntifically, the greatest part belonging to the genus Professor Heim also succeeded in cultivating some of the species in the laboratory. The mushroom Psilocybe mexicana turned out to be especially suitable for artificial cultivation. Chemical investigations ran paralle l with these botanical studies on the magic mushrooms, with the goal of extracting the hallucinogenically active principle from the cally pure form. Such investigations were mushroom material and preparing it in chemi carried out at Professor Heim's instigation in the chemical laboratory of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and work teams were occupied with this problem in the United States in the research labor atories of two large pha rmaceutical companies: ican laboratories had obtained some of Merck, and Smith, Kline and French. The Amer thered others themselves in the Sierra the mushrooms from R. G. Wasson and had ga Mazateca. As the chemical investig ations in Paris and in the United States turned out to be ineffectual, Professor Heim addressed this matter to our firm, as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, because he felt th at our experimental experience with LSD, related to the magic mushrooms by similar act ivity, could be of use in the isolation attempts. Thus it was LSD that showed teonanácatl the way into our laboratory. natural products of the Sandoz pharmaceutical- As director of the department of chemical research laboratories at that time, investigation of the I wanted to assign-the magic mushrooms to one of my coworkers. However, nobody showed much eagerness to take on this problem because it was known that LSD and everything connected with it were scarcely popular subjects to the top mana gement. Because the enthusiasm necessary for successful endeavors cannot be commande d, and because the enthusiasm was already present in me as far as this problem was c oncerned, I decided to conduct the investigation myself. Some 100 g of dried mushrooms of the species Psilocybe mexicana, cultivated by Professor Heim in the laboratory, were ava ilable for the beginning of the chemical
56 analysis. My laboratory assistant, Hans Tscherter, who during our decade-long collaboration, had developed into a very cap able helper, completely familiar with my nd isolation attempts. Since there were no manner of work, aided me in the extraction a clues at all concerning the chemical propert ies of the active principle we sought, the isolation attempts had to be conducted on the basis of the effects of the extract fractions. But none of the various extracts showed an une quivocal effect, either in the mouse or the dog, which could have pointed to the presence of hallucinogenic prin ciples. It therefore became doubtful whether the mushrooms cultivated and dried in Paris were still active at all. That could only be determined by experi menting with this mushroom material on a human being. As in the case of LSD, I made this fundamental experiment myself, since it is not appropriate for researchers to ask anyone else to perform self-experiments that they require for their own investigations, especially if they entail, as in this case, a certain risk. In this experiment I ate 32 dried specimens of which together Psilocybe mexicana, weighed 2.4 g. This amount corresponded to an average dose, according to the reports of curanderos Wasson and Heim, as it is used by the . The mushrooms displayed a strong psychic effect, as the following extract fr om the report on that experiment shows: Thirty minutes after my taking the mushroom s, the exterior world began to undergo a strange transformation. Everything assumed a Me xican character. As I was perfectly well aware that my knowledge of the Mexican orig in of the mushroom would lead me to imagine only Mexican scenery, I tried deliber ately to look on my environment as I knew it normally. But all voluntary efforts to look at things in their custom ary forms and colors proved ineffective. Whether my eyes were closed or open, I saw only Mexican motifs and colors. When the doctor superv ising the experiment bent over me to check my blood pressure, he was transformed into an Aztec priest and I would not have been astonished if the seriousness of the situation, it amused me he had drawn an obsidian knife. In spite of of my colleague had acquired a purely Indian expression. to see how the Germanic face At the peak of the intoxica tion, about 1 1/2 hours after inge stion of the mushrooms, the rush of interior pictures, mo stly abstract motifs rapidly changing in shape and color, reached such an alarming degree that I feared that I would be torn into this whirlpool of form and color and would dissolve. After about six hours the dream came to an end. Subjectively, I had no idea how long this c ondition had lasted. I felt my return to everyday reality to be a happy re turn from a strange, fantasti c but quite real world to an old and familiar home. This self-experiment showed once ag ain that human beings react much more sensitively than animals to psychoactive substances. We had already reached the same conclusion in experimenting with LSD on animal s, as described in an earlier chapter of material, but rather the deficient reaction this book. It was not inactivity of the mushroom capability of the research animals vis-à-vis such a type of active principle, that explained why our extracts had appeared in active in the mouse and dog. Because the assay on human subjects was th e only test at our disposal for the detection of the active extract fractions, we had no ot her choice than to pe rform the testing on ourselves if we wanted to carry on the work and bring it to a successful conclusion. In the self-experiment just described, a strong r eaction lasting several hours was produced by 2.4 g dried mushrooms. Therefore, in the se quel we used samples corresponding to only one-third of this amount, namely 0.8 g dried mushrooms. If these samples contained the
57 active principle, they would onl y provoke a mild effect that impaired the ability to work for a short time, but this effect would still be so distinct that the inactive fractions and those containing the active principle could unequivocally be diffe rentiated from one teered as guinea pigs for this series of another. Several coworkers and colleagues volun tests. Psilocybin and Psilocin With the help of this reliable test on human subjects, the active principle could be isolated, concentrated, and transformed into a chemically pure state by means of the newest separation methods. Two new substanc es, which I named psilocybin and psilocin, were thereby obtained in the fo rm of colorless crystals. These results were published in March 1958 in the journal Experientia , in my colleagues Dr. A. Brack and Dr. H. collaboration with Professor Heim and with Kobel, who had provided greater quantities of mushroom materi al for these investigations boratory cultivation of the mushrooms. after they had essentially improved the la A. J. Frey, H. Ott, T. Petrzilka, and F. Some of my coworkers at the time—Drs. Troxler—then participated in the next steps of these investigations, the determination of the chemical structure of psilocybin and psilo cin and the subsequent synthesis of these lished in the November 1958 issue of compounds, the results of which were pub . The chemical structures of these mush room factors deserve special attention Experientia in several respects. Psilocybi n and psilocin belong, like LS D, to the indole compounds, the biologically important class of substan ces found in the plant and animal kingdoms. Particular chemical features common to both the mushroom substances and LSD show that psilocybin and psilocin are closely related to LSD, not only with regard to psychic es. Psilocybin is the effects but also to their chemical structur phosphoric acid ester of psilocin and, as such, is the first and h itherto only phosphoric-aci d-containing indole compound discovered in nature. The phosphoric acid residue does not contribute to the ee psilocin is just as activ activity, for the phosphoric-acid-fr e as psilocybin, but it makes the molecule more stable. While psilocin is readily decomposed by the oxygen in air, psilocybin is a stable substance. Psilocybin and psilocin possess a chemical structure very similar to the brain factor serotonin. As was already mentioned in the ch apter on animal experiments and biological research, serotonin plays an important role in the chemistry of br ain functions. The two mushroom factors, like LSD, block the effects of serotonin in pharmacological experiments on different organs. Other pharm acological properties of psilocybin and psilocin are also similar to those of LSD. Th e main difference consis ts in the quantitative activity, in animal as well as human expe rimentation. The average active dose of psilocybin or psilocin in huma n beings amounts to 10 mg (0.01 g); accordingly, these two substances are more than 100 times less activ e than LSD, of which 0.1 mg constitutes a strong dose. Moreover, the effects of the mush room factors last only four to six hours, much shorter than the effects of LSD (eight to twelve hours). The total synthesis of psilocybin and ps ilocin, without the aid of the mushrooms, could be developed into a technical process, wh ich would allow these substances to be
58 produced on a large scale. Synthetic produc tion is more rational and cheaper than extraction from the mushrooms. Thus with the isolation and synthesis of the active principles, the demystification of the magic mushrooms was accomplished. The co mpounds whose wondrous effects led the Indians to believe for millennia that a god was residing in the mushrooms had their chemical structures elucidated and coul d be produced synthetically in flasks. Just what progress in scientific knowledge was accomplished by natural products ll is said and done, we can only say that the research in this case? Essentially, when a mystery of the wondrous effects of teonanácatl was reduced to the mystery of the effects of two crystalline substances explained by science either, —since these effects cannot be but can only be describe. A Voyage into the Universe of the Soul with Psilocybin ffects of psilocybin and those of LSD, their The relationship between the psychic e evident in the following report from Antaios, visionaryhallucinatory character, is of a psilocybin experiment by Dr. Rudolf Gelpke. He has characterized his experiences with LSD and psilocybin, as already mentioned in a previous chapter, as "travels in the universe of the soul." Where Time Stands Still (10 mg psilocybin, 6 April 1961, 10:20) After ca. 20 minutes, beginning effects: sereni ty, speechlessness, mild but pleasant dizzy sensation, and "pleasureful deep breathing." 10:50 Strong! dizziness, can no longer concentrate . 10:55 Excited, intensity of colors: everything pink to red. 11:05 The world concentrates itself ther e on the center of the table. Colors very intense. 11:10 A divided being, unprecedented—how can I describe this sensation of life? Waves, different selves , must control me. Immediately after this note I went outdoor s, leaving the breakfast table, where I had eaten with Dr. H. and our wives, and lay down on the lawn. The inebriation pushed rapidly to its climax. Although I had firmly resolved to make constant notes, it now seemed to me a complete waste of time, the motion of writing infinitely slow, the possibilities of verbal expre ssion unspeakably paltry - measured by the flood of inner experience that inundated me and threatened to burst me. It seemed to me that 100 years would not be sufficient to describe the fulln ess of experience of a single minute. At the beginning, optical impressions predominated: I saw with delight the boundless succession of rows of trees in the nearby forest. Then the tattered clouds in the sunny sky rapidly piled up with silent and breathtaking maje sty to a superimposition of thousands of layers—heaven on heaven—and I waited then expecting that up there in the next moment
59 something completely powerful, unheard of, not yet existing, would appear or happen - ation remained, the presentiment, this would I behold a god? But only the expect I moved farther away (the hovering, "on the threshold of th e ultimate feeling." . . . Then n in a nook of the garden on a sun-warmed proximity of others disturbed me) and lay dow wood pile—my fingers stroked this wood with overflowing, animal-like sensual affection. At the same time I was submerged within myself; it was an absolute climax: a d happiness—I found myself behind my closed sensation of bliss pervaded me, a contente and at the same time in the "center of the eyes in a cavity full of brick-red ornaments, universe of consummate calm." I knew everything was good—the cause and origins of everything was good. But at the same moment I also understood the suffering and the rstanding of ordinary life: there one is never "total," loathing, the depression and misunde lit up into the tiny fragments of seconds, but instead divided, cut in pieces, and sp e one is a slave of Moloch time, which minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years: ther devoured one piecemeal; one is condemned to stammering, bungling, and patchwork; one must drag about with oneself the perfection and absolute, the togetherness of all things; the eternal moment of the golden age, this original ground of being—that indeed nevertheless has always endured and will endu re forever—there in the weekday of human existence, as a tormenting thorn buried deeply in the soul, as a memorial of a claim never fulfilled, as a fata morgana of a lost and pr omised paradise; through this feverish dream "present" to a condemned "past" in a cloude d "future." I understood. This inebriation was a spaceflight, not of the outer but rather of the inner man, and for a moment I experienced reality from a location that lies somewher e beyond the force of gravity of time. As I began again to feel this for ce of gravity, I was childish enough to want to 6 mg psilocybin at 11:45, and once again 4 postpone the return by taking a new dose of nd in any case not worth mentioning. mg at 14:30. The effect was trifling, a Mrs. Li Gelpke, an artist, also participat ed in this series of i nvestigations, taking three self-experiments with LSD and psilocybin. Th e artist wrote of the drawing she made during the experiment: Nothing on this page is consciously fashione d. While I worked on it, the memory (of the experience under psilocybin) was again realit y, and led me at every stroke. For that reason the picture is as many-layered as this memory, and the figure at the lower right is really the captive of its dream... When books about Mexican art came into my hands three weeks later, I again f ere with a sudden start... ound the motifs of my visions th I have also mentioned the occurrence of Mexican motifs in psilocybin inebriation during my first self-experiment with dried Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms, as was described in the section on the chemical i nvestigation of these mushrooms. The same phenomenon has also struck R. Gordon Wasson. Proceeding from such observations, he has advanced the conjecture that ancient Me xican art could have been influenced by visionary images, as they app ear in mushroom inebriation. The "Magic Morning Glory" Ololiuhqui
60 After we had managed to solve the riddle of the sacred mushroom in a teonanácatl in the problem of another Mexican magic relatively short time, I also became interested . Ololiuhqui is the Aztec name for the seeds drug not yet chemically elucidated, ololiuhqui that, like the mescaline cactus and the (Convolvulaceae) of certain climbing plants peyotl teonanácatl mushrooms, were used in pre-Columbian times by the Aztecs and gical healing practices. Ololiuhqui is neighboring people in reli gious ceremonies and ma es like the Zapotec, Chinantec, Mazatec, and still used even today by certain Indian trib Mixtec, who until a short time ago still led a genuinely isolated existence, little mote mountains of southern Mexico. influenced by Christianity, in the re An excellent study of the historical anical aspects of ololiuhqui , ethnological, and bot s, director of the Harvard Botanical was published in 1941 by Richard Evans Schulte entitled "A Contribu Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is tion to Our Knowledge Rivea corymbosa, the Narcotic of the Aztecs." The following statements of Ololiuqui derive chiefly from Schultes's monograph. [Translator's ololiuhqui about the history of ololiuhqui " is a more precise orthography note: As R. Gordon Wasson has pointed out, " than the more popular spelling used by Schultes. See Botanical Museum Leaflets 20: 161-212, 1963.] Harvard University The earliest records about this drug were written by Spanish chroniclers of the sixteenth century, who also mentioned and teonanácatl. Thus the Franciscan friar peyotl Bernardino de Sahagun, in his al Historia General de las ready cited famous chronicle Cosas de Nueva Espana, writes about the wondrous effects of ololiuhqui: "There is an herb, called coatl xoxouhqui (green snake), which produces seeds that are called ololiuhqui. These seeds stupefy and deprive one of reason: they are taken as a potion." We obtain further information about these seeds from the physician Francisco Hernandez, whom Philip II sent to Mexico from Spain, from 1570 to 1575, in order to Ololiuhqui " of his monumental study the medicaments of the natives. In the chapter "On work entitled Rerum Medicarum Novae Hispaniae Thesaurus seu Plantarum, Animalium Mineralium Mexicanorum Historia, published in Rome in 1651, he gives a detailed ololiuhqui . An extract from the Latin text description and the first illustration of Ololiuhqui, accompanying the illustration reads in translation: " which others call or snake plant, is a clim coaxihuitl ber with thin, green, heart-shaped leaves... The flowers are white, fairly large... The seeds are roundi sh. . . . When the priests of the Indians wanted to visit with the gods and obtain inform ation from them, they ate of this plant in order to become inebriated. Thousands of fantastic images and demons then appeared to them..." Despite this comparatively good desc ription, the botanica l identification of ololiuhqui as seeds of Rivea corymbosa (L.) Hall. f. occasioned many discussions in specialist circles. Recently preference has been given to the synonym Turbina corymbosa (L.) Raf. When I decided in 1959 to attempt the isolation o the active principles of ololiuhqui, only a single report on chemical work with the seeds of Turbina corymbosa was available. It was the work of the pharmacologi st C. G. Santesson of Stockholm, from the year 1937. Santesson, however, was not successf ul in isolating an active substance in pure form. Contradictory findings had been published about the activity of the ololiuhqui seeds. The psychiatrist H. Osmond conducted a self-experiment with the seeds of Turbina corymbosa in 1955. After the ingestion of 60 to 100 seeds, he entered into a state of
61 apathy and emptiness, accompanied by enhan ced visual sensitivity. After four hours, there followed a period of relaxation and well-being, lasting for a longer time. The results of V. J. Kinross-Wright, published in England in 1958, in which eight voluntary research subjects, who had taken up to 125 seeds, percei ved no effects at all, contradicted this report. rdon Wasson, I obtained two samples of Through the mediation of R. Go ololiuhqui seeds. In his accompanying letter of 6 August 1959 from Mexico City, he wrote of them: . . . The parcels that I am sendi ng you are the following: . . . otherwise known as A small parcel of seeds that I take to be Rivea corymbosa, "la semilla de la Virgen." ololiuqui well-known narcotic of the Aztecs, called in Huautla This parcel, you will find, consists of two litt le bottles, which repres ent two deliveries of seeds made to us in Huautla, and a larger batch of seeds delivered to us by Francisco Ortega "Chico," the Zapotec guide, who himself gathered the seeds from the plants at the Zapotec town of San Bartolo Yautepec... The first-named, round, light brown seeds from Huautla proved in the botanical correctly identified as Rivea (Turbina) corymbosa, determination to have been while the Ipomoea violacea olo Yautepec were identified as black, angular seeds from San Bart L. While Turbina corymbosa thrives only in tropical or subtropical climates, one also finds as an ornamental plant dispersed over the whole earth in the Ipomoea violacea temperate zones. It is the morning glory that delights the eye in our gardens in diverse varieties with blue or blue-red striped calyxes. The Zapotec, besides the original ololiuhqui (that is, the seeds of Turbina corymbosa , which they call badoh ), also utilize badoh negro, the seeds of Ipomoea violacea . T. MacDougall, who furnished us with a second larg er consignment of the last-named seeds, made this observation. My capable laboratory a ssistant Hans Tscherter, with whom I had already carried out the isolation of the active principles of th e mushrooms, participated in the chemical investigation of the ololiuhqui drug. We advanced the work ing hypothesis that the active principles of the ololiuhqui seeds could be representatives of the same class of chemical substances, the indole compounds, to whic h LSD, psilocybin, and psilocin belong. Considering the very great number of other gr , like the indoles, oups of substances that active principles of were under consideration as , it was indeed extremely ololiuhqui improbable that this assumption would prove true. It could, howeve r, very easily be tested. The presence of indole compounds, of course, may simply and rapidly be determined by colorimetric reactions. Thus ev en traces of indole substances, with a tense blue-colored solution. certain reagent, give an in our hypothesis. Extracts of ololiuhqui seeds with the appropriate We had luck with on characteristic of indole com pounds. With the help of this reagent gave the blue colorati colorimetric test, we succeeded in a short time in isolating the indole substances from the seeds and in obtaining them in chemically pure form. Their identification led to an astonishing result. What we found appeared at first scarcely believable. Only after repetition and the most careful scrutiny of the operations was our suspicion concerning the peculiar findings eliminated: the active principles from the ancient Mexican magic drug ololiuhqui proved to be identical with substan ces that were already present in my laboratory. They were identical with alkaloids that had been obtained in the course of the
62 decades-long investigations of ergot; partly is olated as such from ergot, partly obtained through chemical modification of ergot substances. Lysergic acid amide, ly sergic acid hydroxyethylamide, a nd alkaloids closely related to . (See ololiuhqui them chemically were established as the main active principles of the alkaloid ergobasine, whose synthesis had formulae in the appendix.) Also present was constituted the starting point of my investigations on ergot alkaloids. Lysergic acid amide ololiuhqui and lysergic acid hydroxyethylam ide, active principles of , are chemically very de (LSD), which even for the non-chemist closely related to lysergic acid diethylami follows from the names. Lysergic acid amide was described for the first time by the English chemists S. Smith and G. M. Timmis as a cleavage product of er got alkaloids, and I had also produced this e investigations in which LSD originated. substance synthetically in the course of th ted that this compound Certainly, nobody at the time could have suspec synthesized in the as a naturally occurri flask would be discovered twenty years later ng active principle of an ancient Mexican magic drug. After the discovery of the psychic effects of LSD, I had also tested lysergic acid amide in a self-experiment and established that it likewise evoked a dreamlike condition, but only with about a tenfold to twenty-fold greater dose than LSD. This effect was characterized by a sensation of mental emp tiness and the unreality and meaninglessness of the outer world, by enhanced sensitivit y of hearing, and by a not unpleasant physical lassitude, which ultimately led to sleep. This pi cture of the effects of LA-111, as lysergic acid amide was called as a research prep aration, was confirmed in a systematic investigation by the psychiatrist Dr. H. Solms. When I presented the findings of our investigations on ololiuhqui at the Natural Products Congress of the International Uni on for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) colleagues received my talk with skepticism. in Sydney, Australia, in the fall of 1960, my me persons voiced the suspicion that the In the discussions following my lecture, so ololiuhqui extracts could well have been contaminated with traces of lysergic acid derivatives, with which so much work had been done in my laboratory. There was another reason for the doubt in specialist circles concerning our findings. The occurrence in higher plants (i.e., in the morning glory family) of ergot alkaloids that hitherto had been known only as constituents of lower fungi, contradicted the experience that certain substances are typical of and re stricted to respective plant families. It is indeed a very rare exception to find a characte ristic group of substances, in this case the ergot alkaloids, occurring in two divisions of the plant kingdom broadly separated in evolutionary history. Our results were confirmed, however, when different laboratories in the United States, Germany, and Holland subsequently ve igations on the ololiuhqui seeds. rified our invest Nevertheless, the skepticism went so far that some persons even considered the possibility that the seeds could have been infected with alkaloid-producing fungi. That suspicion, however, was ruled out experimentally. These studies on the active principles of ololiuhqui seeds, although they were published only in professional journals, had an unexpected sequel. We were apprised by two Dutch wholesale seed companie s that their sale of seeds of Ipomoea violacea , the ornamental blue morning glory, had reached unusual proportions in recent times. They had heard that the great demand was connected with investigations of these seeds in our
63 laboratory, about which they were eager to l earn the details. It turn ed out that the new groups interested in hallucinogenic drugs. demand derived from hippie circles and other seeds a substitute for LSD, which was They believed they had found in the ololiuhqui becoming less and less accessible. lasted only a comparatively short time, The morning glory seed boom, however, ces that those in th e drug world had with evidently because of the undesirable experien this "new" ancient inebriant. The ololiuhqui seeds, which are taken crushed with water or another mild beverage, taste very bad a nd are difficult for the stomach to digest. , in fact, differ from those of LSD in that the ololiuhqui Moreover, the psychic effects of euphoric and the hallucinogenic components are less pronounced, while a sensation of mental emptiness, often anxiety and depression, predominates. Furthermore, weariness and lassitude are hardly desirable effects as traits in an inebriant. These could all be the morning glory seeds has diminished. reasons why the drug culture's interest in the question whether the Only a few investigations have considered active principles of could find a useful application in ololiuhqui medicine. In my opinion, it would be worthwhile to clarify above all whether the strong narcotic, sedativ e effect of certain ololiuhqui constituents, or of chemical modifications of these, is medicinally useful. My studies in the field of hallucinoge nic drugs reached a kind of logical conclusion with the investigations of . They now formed a circle, one could almost say a ololiuhqui magic circle: the starting point had been the synthesis of lysergic acid amides, among them the naturally occurring ergot alkaloid ergob asin. This led to the synthesis of lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD. The hallucinogenic pr operties of LSD were the reason why the hallucinogenic magic mushroom teonanácatl found its way into my laboratory. The work with teonanácatl , from which psilocybin and psilocin were isolated, proceeded to the investigation of another Mexican magic drug, ololiuhqui , in which hallucinogenic amides were again encountered, including principles in the form of lysergic acid ergobasin—with which the magic circle closed. In Search of the Magic Plant "Ska Ma ría Pastora" in the Mazatec Country R. Gordon Wasson, with whom I had maintained friendly relations since the magic mushrooms, invited my wi investigations of the Mexican fe and me to take part in an expedition to Mexico in the fall of 1962. The purpose of the journey was to search for another Mexican magic plant. Wasson had le arned on his travels in the mountains of southern Mexico that the expressed juice of the leaves of a plant, which were called hojas de la Pastora or hojas de María Pastora, in Mazatec ska Pastora or ska María Pastora (leaves of the shephe Mary the shepherdess), were used among the rdess or leaves of Mazatec in medico-religious practices, like the teonanácatl mushrooms and the ololiuhqui seeds. The question now was to ascertain from what sort of plant the "leaves of Mary the shepherdess" derived, and then to identify this plant botanically. We also hoped, if at all possible, to gather sufficien t plant material to conduct a chemical investigation on the hallucinogenic principles it contained.
64 Ride through the Sierra Mazateca On 26 September 1962, my wife and I accordingly flew to Mexico City, where we met Gordon Wasson. He had made all the necessary preparations for the expedition, so that in two days we had already set out on the next le g of the journey to the south. Mrs. Irmgard on, a pioneer of the ethnographic study of Weitlaner Johnson, (widow of Jean B. Johns the Mexican magic mushrooms, killed in the Allied landing in North Africa) had joined us. Her father, Robert J. Weitlaner, had emigrated to Mexico from Austria and had likewise contributed toward th e rediscovery of the mushroom cult. Mrs. Johnson worked at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, as an expert on Indian textiles. Land Rover, which took us over the plateau, After a two-day journey in a spacious along the snow-capped Popocatépetl, passing Puebla, down into the Valley of Orizaba with its magnificent tropical vegetation, then by ferry acro ss the Popoloapan (Butterfly epec, we arrived at River), on through the former Aztec garrison Tuxt point of the starting our expedition, the Mazatec az, lying on a hillside. village of Jalapa de Di environment and among the people that we would There we were in the midst of the come to know in the succeeding 2 1/2 weeks. There was an uproar upon our arrival in th e marketplace, center of this village widely who had been squatting and standing around dispersed in the jungle. Old and young men, shops, pressed suspiciously yet curiously about our Land in the half-opened bars and Rover; they were mostly barefoot but all wore a sombrero. Women and girls were nowhere to be seen. One of the men gave us to understand that we should follow. him. He led us to the local president, a fat mestizo who had his office in a one-story house with a corrugated iron roof. Gordon showed him our credentials from the ci vil authorities and plained that we had come here to carry from the military governor of Oaxaca, which ex who probably could not read at all, was out scientific investigations. The president, visibly impressed by the large-sized documents equipped with official seals. He had lodgings assigned to us in a spacious shed, in which we could place our air mattresses and sleeping bags. s of a large church from colonial times, I looked around the region somewhat. The ruin which must have once been very beautiful, ro se almost ghostlike in the direction of an ascending slope at the side of the village s quare. Now I could also see women looking out of their huts, venturing to examine the strangers. In thei r long, white dresses, adorned with red borders, and with their long braids of blue-black hair, they offered a picturesque sight. who directed a young cook and two helpers. We were fed by an old Mazatec woman, She lived in one of the typical Mazatec huts. These are simply rectangular structures with thatched gabled roofs and walls of wooden pol es joined together, windowless, the chinks between the wooden poles offering sufficient op portunity to look out. In the middle of the hut, on the stamped clay floor, was an elevate d, open fireplace, built up out of dried clay or made of stones. The smoke escaped thr ough large openings in the walls under the two ends of the roof. Bast mats th at lay in a corner or along the walls served as beds. The huts were shared with the domestic animals, as well as black swine, turkeys, and chickens. There was roasted chicken to eat, black beans, and also, in place of bread, tortillas , a type
65 of cornmeal pancake that is baked on the hot st one slab of the hearth. Beer and tequila, an liquor, were served. Agave Next morning our troop formed for th e ride through the Sierra Mazateca. Mules and of the village. Guadelupe, the Mazatec guides were engaged from the horsekeeper familiar with the route, took charge of guiding the lead animal. Gordon, Irmgard, my wife, and I were stationed on our mules in the middle. Teodosio and Pedro, called Chico, two young fellows who trotted along barefoot beside the two mules laden with our baggage, brought up the rear. It took some time to get accustomed to the hard wooden saddles. Then, however, this eal type of travel that I know of. The mules mode of locomotion proved to be the most id followed the leader, single file, at a steady pace. They required no direction at all by the rider. With surprising dexterity, they s ought out the best sp ots along the almost impassable, partly rocky, partly marshy paths, which led through thickets and streams or onto precipitous slopes. Relieved d devote all our attention to of all travel cares, we coul nd the tropical vegetation. There the beauty of the landscape a were tropical forests with gigantic trees overgrown with twining plants, then again clear ings with banana groves or ees, flowers at the e dge of the path, over coffee plantations, between light stands of tr We made our way upstream along the broad which wondrous butterflies bustled about... riverbed of Rio Santo Domingo, with brooding heat and steamy air, now steeply ascending, then again falling. During a shor t, violent tropical downpour, the long broad ponchos of oilcloth, with which Gordon had equipped us, proved quite useful. Our Indian guides had protected themselves from the cloud burst with gigantic, heart-shaped leaves that they nimbly chopped off at the edge of the path. Teodosio and Chico gave the impression of great, green hay cricks as they ran, covered with thes e leaves, beside their mules. Shortly before nightfall we arrived at the first settlement, La Providencia ranch. The patron, Don Joaquin Garcia, the head of a large family, welcomed us hospitably and full of dignity. It was impossible to determine how many children, in addition to the grown- in the large living room, feebly illuminated ups and the domestic animals, were present by the hearth fire alone. Gordon and I placed our sleeping bags outdoors under the projec ting roof. I awoke in the morning to find a pig grunting over my face. After another day's journey on the backs of our worthy mules, we arrived at Ayautla, a Mazatec settlement spread across a hillside. En route, among the shrubbery, I had delighted in the blue calyxes of the magic morning glory Ipomoea violacea , the mother plant of the ololiuhqui seeds. It grew wild there, whereas among us it is only found in the Garden as an ornamental plant. We remained in Ayautla for several da ys. We had lodging in th e house of Doña Donata Sosa de García. Doña Donata was in charge of a large family, which included her ailing husband. In addition, she presided over th e coffee cultivation of the region. The collection center for the freshly picked coff ee beans was in an adjacent building. It was a lovely picture, the young Indian woman and girls returning home from the harvest toward evening, in their bright garments adorned w ith colored borders, the coffee sacks carried on their backs by headbands. Doña Donata also managed a type of grocery store, in which her husband, Don Eduardo, stood behind the counter. In the evening by candlelight, Doña D onata, who besides Mazatec also spoke Spanish,
66 told us about life in the village; one trage dy or another had alrea dy struck nearly every surrounded by this paradisiacal scenery. A one of the seemingly peaceful huts that lay man who had murdered his wife, and who now sits in prison for life, had lived in the house next door, which now stood empty. The husband of a daughter of Doña Donata, rdered out of jealousy. The president of after an affair with another woman, was mu we had made our formal visit in the Ayautla, a young bull of a mestizo, to whom afternoon, never made the short walk from his hut to his "office" in the village hall (with the corrugated iron roof) unless accompanie d by two heavily armed men. Because he exacted illegal taxes, he was afraid of bei ng shot to death. Since no higher authority sees to justice in this remote region, people have recourse to self-defense of this type. Thanks to Doña Donata's good connections, we received the first sample of the sought- after plant, some leaves of hojas de la Pastora, from an old woman. Since the flowers and roots were missing, however, this plant material was not suitable for botanical ecise information about identification. Our efforts to obtain more pr the habitat of the plant and its use were also fruitless. The continuation of our journey from Ayau tla was delayed, as we had to wait until our boys could again bring back the mules that they had taken to pasture on the other side of Rio Santo Domingo, over the river swollen by intense downpours. ssed the night in the high mountain village of After a two-day ride, on which we had pa San Miguel-Huautla, we arrived at Rio Santia go. Here we were joined by Doña Herlinda Martinez Cid, a teacher from Huautla de Jimé nez. She had ridden over on the invitation of Gordon Wasson, who had known her since his mushroom expeditions, and was to serve as our Mazatec and Spanish-speaking interpreter. Moreover, she could help us, through her numerous relatives scattered in th e region, to pave the way to contacts with curanderos and curandera s who used the hojas de la Pastora in their practice. Because of our delayed arrival in Ri o Santiago, Doña Herlinda, who was acquainted with the about us, fearing we might have plunged dangers of the region, had been apprehensive down a rocky path or been attacked by robbers. Our next stop was in San José Tenango, a settlement lying deep in a valley, in the midst of tropical vegetation with orange a nd lemon trees and bana na plantations. Here the center, a marketplace with a half-ruined again was the typical village picture: in ree stands, a general st ore, and shelters for church from the colonial period, with two or th horses and mules. We found lodging in a co rrugated iron barracks, with the special luxury of a cement floor, on which we could spread out our sleeping bags. In the thick jungle on the mountainsid e we discovered a spring, whose magnificent fresh water in a natural rocky basin invited us to bathe. That was an unforgettable pleasure after days without In this grotto I saw a opportunities to wash properly. hummingbird for the first time in nature, a blue-green, metallic, iridescent gem, which whirred over great liana blossoms. The desired contact with persons skilled in medicine came about thanks to the kindred connections of Doña Herlinda , beginning with the curandero Don Sabino. But he refused, for some reason, to receive us in a consulta tion and to question the leaves. From an old curandera , a venerable woman in a strikingly magnificent Mazatec garment, with the lovely name Natividad Rosa, we received a whole bundle of flowering specimens of the sought-after plant, but even she could not be prevailed upon to perform a ceremony with the leaves for us. Her excuse was that she was too old for the hardship of the magical trip;
67 she could never cover the long distance to ce rtain places: a spring where the wise women sparrows sing, and where objects get their gather their powers, a lake on which the names. Nor would Natividad Rosa tell us wher e she had gathered the leaves. They grew ant, she put a coffee bean in valley. Wherever she dug up a pl in a very, very distant forest the earth as thanks to the gods. We now possessed ample plants with fl owers and roots, which were suitable for botanical identification. It was apparently a representativ e of the genus Salvia, a relative of the well-known meadow sage. The plants had blue flowers crowned with a white dome, which are arranged on a panicle 20 to 30 cm long, whose stem leaked blue. Several days later, Natividad Rosa brought us a whole basket of leaves, for which she was paid fifty pesos. The business seemed to have been discussed, for two other women brought us further quantities of leaves. As it was known that the e xpressed juice of the therefore contain the active principle, the leaves is drunk in the ceremony, and this must stone plate, squeezed out in fresh leaves were crushed on a a cloth, the juice diluted with asks in order to be studied later in the alcohol as a preservative, and decanted into fl work by an Indian girl, who was accustomed to laboratory in Basel. I was assisted in this dealing with the stone plate, the metate , on which the Indians since ancient times have ground their corn by hand. On the day before the journey was to continue, having given up all hope of being able to attend a ceremony, we suddenly made another contact with a , one who was curandera ready " to serve us ." A confidante of Her linda's, who had produced this contact, led us after nightfall along a secret path to the hut of the curandera , lying solitary on the mountainside above the settlement. No one from the village was to see us or discover that we were received there. It was obviously cons idered a betrayal of sacred customs, worthy of punishment, to allow strangers, whites, to take part in this . That indeed had also been alers whom we asked had refu the real reason why the other he sed to admit us to a leaf ceremony. Strange birdcalls from the darkness accompanied us on the ascent, and the barking of dogs was heard on all sides. The dogs had detected the strangers. The curandera Consuela García, a woman of some fo rty years, barefoot like all Indian women in this region, timidly admitted us to her hut and immediately closed up the down on the bast mats on the stamped mud doorway with a heavy bar. She bid us lie floor. As Consuela spoke only Mazatec, Herlinda translated her instructions into Spanish for us. The lit a candle on a table covered with some images of saints, along curandera with a variety of rubbish. Then she began to bustle about busily, but in silence. All at once we heard peculiar noises and a rummag ing in the room-did the hut harbor some hidden person whose shape and proportions co uld not be made out in the candlelight? Visibly disturbed, Consuela searched the room with the burning candle. It appeared to be merely rats, however, who were work ing their mischief. In a bowl the now curandera copal kindled , an incense-like resin, which soon filled the whole hut with its aroma. Then the magic potion was ceremoniously prepared. C onsuela inquired which of us wished to drink of it with her. Gordon announced hims elf. Since I was suffering from a severe stomach upset at the time, I could not jo in in. My wife substituted for me. The curandera laid out six pairs of leaves for herself. She apporti oned the same number to Gordon. Anita received three pairs. Like the mushrooms, the leaves are always dosed in pairs, a practice that, of course, has a magical significance. The leaves were crushed with the metate , then squeezed out through a fine sieve into a cup, and the metate and the contents
68 of the sieve were rinsed with water. Fi nally, the filled cups were incensed over the copal Anita and Gordon, before she handed them vessel with much ceremony. Consuela asked e ceremony. After they their cups, whether they believed in the trut h and the holiness of th bitter-tasting potion was solemnly imbibed, the answered in the affirmative and the very candles were extinguished and, lying in dar kness on the bast masts, we awaited the effects. After some twenty minutes Anita whispe red to me that she saw striking, brightly bordered images. Gordon also perceived th e effect of the drug. The voice of the king, half singing. Herlinda translated: sounded from the darkness, half spea curandera Did we believe in Christ's blood and the holin ess of the rites? Afte r our "creemos" ("We curandera lit the candles, moved believe"), the ceremonial performance continued. The onto the floor, sang and spoke prayers or magic formulas, them from the "altar table" the saints-then again placed the candles again under the images of silence and darkness. Thereupon the true consultation began. Consue la asked for our re quest. Gordon inquired after the health of his daught er, who immediately before hi s departure from New York had to be admitted prematurely to the hospital in expectation of a baby. He received the comforting information that mother and child were well. Then again came singing and the "altar table" a nd on the floor, over the prayer and manipulations with the candles on smoking basin. When the ceremony was at an end, the curandera asked us to rest yet a while longer in prayer on our bast mats. Suddenly a thunders torm burst out. Through the cracks of the beam walls, lightning flashed into the da rkness of the hut, a ccompanied by violent thunderbolts, while a tropical downpour ra ged, beating on the r oof. Consuela voiced apprehension that we would not be able to leave her house unseen in the darkness. But the thunderstorm let up before daybreak, and we went down the mountainside to our sible by the light of flashlights, unnoticed corrugated iron barracks, as noiselessly as pos by the villagers, but dogs again barked from all sides. Participation in this ceremony was the climax of our expedition. It brought confirmation that the hojas de la Pastora were used by the Indians for the same purpose teonanácatl and in the same ceremonial milieu as , the sacred mushrooms. Now we also had authentic plant material, not only sufficien t for botanical identification, but also for the planned chemical analysis. The inebriated state that Gordon Wa sson and my wife had experienced with the hojas had been shallow and only of short duration, yet it had exhibited a distinctly ha llucinogenic character. On the morning after this eventful night we took leave of San José Tenango. The and Pedro appeared before our barracks guide, Guadelupe, and the two fellows Teodosio with the mules at the appointed time. Soon packed up and mounted, our little troop then moved uphill again, through the fertile lands cape glittering in the sunlight from the night's thunderstorm. Returning by way of Santiago, toward evening we reached our last stop in Mazatec country, the capital Huautla de Jiménez. From here on, the return trip to Mexi co City was made by automobile. With a final supper in the Posada Rosaura, at the time th e only inn in Huautla, we took leave of our Indian guides and of the worthy mules that ha d carried us so surefootedly and in such a pleasant way through the Sierra Mazatec. Th e Indians were paid of, and Teodosio, who also accepted payment for his chief in Jalapa de Diaz (where the animals were to be returned afterward), gave a receipt with his thumbprint co lored by a ballpoint pen. We
69 took up quarters in Dona Herlinda's house. A day later we made our formal visit to the María Sabina, a woman made curandera famous by the Wassons' publications. It had been in her hut that Gordon Wasson became the first white man to taste of the sacred mushrooms, in the course of a nocturnal ceremony in the summer of 1955. Gordon and Marí a Sabina greeted each other cordially, as old friends. The lived out of the way, on the mountainside above Huautla. curandera The house in which the historic session with Gordon Wasson had taken place had been burned, presumably by angered residents or an envious colleague, because she had to strangers. In the new hut in which we found divulged the secret of teonanácatl ourselves, an incredible disorder prevailed, as had probably also prev ailed in the old hut, curandera in which half-naked children, hens, and pigs bustled about. The old had an intelligent face, exceptionally changeable in expression. She was obviously impressed to confine the spirit of the mushrooms in when it was explained that we had managed serve us" with these, that is, to grant us a pills, and she at once declared herself ready to " consultation. It was agreed that this shoul d take place the coming night in the house of Doña Herlinda. In the course of the day I took a stro ll through Huautla de Jiménez, which led along a main street on the mountainside. Then I accompanied Gordon on his visit to the Instituto Nacional Indigenista. This governmental organization had the duty of studying and helping to solve the problems of the indigenous population, that is, the Indians. Its leader told us of the difficulties that the "coffee po licy" had caused in the area at that time. The president of Huautla, in collaboration with th e Instituto Nacional Indigenista had tried to e coffee prices favorably for the producing eliminate middlemen in order to shape th Indians. His body was found, mutilated, the previous June. Our stroll also took us past the cathedral, from whic h Gregorian chants resounded. Old Father Aragon, whom Gordon knew well from his ear lier stays, invited us into the vestry for a glass of tequila. A Mushroom Ceremony As we returned home to Herlinda's house toward evening, María Sabina had already arrived there with a large company, her two lovely daughters, Apolonia and Aurora (two prospective curandera s), and a niece, all of whom brought children along with them. Whenever her child began to cry, Apolonia would offer her breast to it. The old curandero Don Aurelio also appeared, a mi ghty man, one-eyed, in a black-and-white patterned serape (cloak). Cacao and sweet pastry were served on the veranda. I was reminded of the report from an anci ent chronicle which described how chocolatl was drunk before the ingestion of teonanácatl . After the fall of darkness, we all pr oceeded into the room in which the ceremony would take place. It was then locked up-that is, the door was obstructed with the only bed available. Only an emergency exit into the back garden remained unlatched for absolute necessity. It was nearly midnight when th e ceremony began. Until that time the whole party lay, in darkness sleeping or awaiting the night's events, on the bast mats spread on the floor. María Sabina threw a piece of copal on the embers of a brazier from time to
70 time, whereby the stuffy air in the crow ded room became somewhat bearable. I had curandera through Herlinda, who was again w explained to the ith the party as interpreter, s of mushrooms. (The pills contained 5.0 mg that one pill contained the spirit of two pair synthetic psilocybin apiece.) tioned the pills in pa irs among the grown-ups When all was ready, María Sabina appor present. After solemn smoking, she herself took two pairs (co rresponding to 20 mg psilocybin). She gave the same dose to D on Aurelio and her daughter Apolonia, who . Aurora received one pair, as did Gordon, while my wife curandera would also serve as and Irmgard got only one pill each. One of the children, a girl of abou t ten, under the guidance of María Sabina, had ve pairs of fresh leaves of hojas de la Pastora prepared for me the juice of fi . I wanted to experience this drug that I had been unable to try in San José Tenango. The potion was said to be especially active when prepared by an innocent child. The cup with the expressed juice was likewise incensed and na and Don Aurelio, conjured by María Sabi before it was delivered to me. All of these preparations and the fo llowing ceremony progressed in much the same way as the consultation with the curandera Consuela Garcia in San José Tenango. e candle on the "altar" was extinguished, we After the drug was apportioned and th awaited the effects in the darkness. Before a half hour had elapsed, the curandera murmured somethi ng; her daughter and Don Aurelio also became restless. Herlinda translated and explained to us what was wrong. María Sabina had said that the pills lacked the spirit of the mushrooms. I discussed the situation with Gordon, who lay beside me. For us it was clear that absorption of the active principle from the pill s, which must first di ssolve in the stomach, occurs more slowly than from the mushroom s, in which some of the active principle cous membranes during chewing. But how already becomes absorbed through the mu such conditions? Rather than try to explain, could we give a scientific explanation under we decided to act. We distributed more pills. Both curandera s and the curandero each received another pair. They had now each taken a total dosage of 30 mg psilocybin. the spirit of the pills did begin to yield its After about another quarter of an hour, wn. The daughters, and Don Aurelio with his effects, which lasted until the crack of da ed the prayers and singing of the curandera . Blissful, deep bass voice, fervently answer between singing and prayer, gave the yearning moans of Apolonia and Aurora, impression that the religious experience of the young women in the drug inebriation was combined with sensual-sexual feelings. In the middle of the ceremony María Sabina asked for our request. Gordon inquired again after the health of his daughter a nd grandchild. He received the same good curandera Consuela. Mother and child were in fact well when he information as from the returned home to New York. Obviously, however ts no proof of the , this still represen prophetic abilities of both curandera s. Evidently as an effect of the hojas , I found myself for some time in a state of mental sensitivity and intense experience, which, however, was not accompanied by hallucinations. Anita, Irmgard, and Gordon experienced a euphoric condition of inebriation that was influenced by the stra nge, mystical atmosphere. My wife was impressed by the vision of very di stinct strange li ne patterns. She was astonished and perplexed, late r, on discovering precisely the same images in
71 the rich ornamentation over the altar in an ol d church near Puebla. That was on the return visited churches from col onial times. These admirable trip to Mexico City, when we churches offer great cultural and historical interest because the Indian artists and ggled in elements of Indian style. Klaus workmen who assisted in their construction smu Die kunstlich gesteuerte Seele [The artificially steered mind] Thomas, in his book (Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart, 1970), wr ites about the possible influence of visions from psilocybin inebriation on Meso-American Indian art: "Surely a cultural-historical comparison of the old and new creations of Indian art . . . must convince the unbiased spectator of the harmony with the images, form s and colors of a psilocybin inebriation." The Mexican character of the visions seen in my first experience with dried Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms and the drawing of Li Ge lpke after a psilocybin inebriation could also point to such an association. and her clan at the crack of dawn, the As we took leave of María Sabina curandera said that the pills had the same power as the mushrooms, that there was no difference. ent authority, that the synthetic psilocybin This was a confirmation from the most compet ting gift I let María Sabina have a vial of is identical with the natural product. As a par psilocybin pills. She radiantly explained to our interpreter Herlinda that she could now give consultations even in the season when no mushrooms grow. How should we judge the conduct of María Sabina, the fact that she allowed strangers, white people, access to the secret ceremony, and let them try the sacred mushroom? To her credit it can be said that she had thereby opened the door to the exploration of the Mexican mushroom cult in its present form, and to th e scientific, botanical, and chemical investigation of the sacred mushro oms. Valuable active substances, psilocybin and psilocin, resulted. Without this assistance, the ancient knowledge and experience that was concealed in these secret practices w ould possibly, even probably, have disappeared borne fruit, in the advancem civilization. without a trace, without having ent of Western From another standpo int, the conduct of this curandera can be regarded as a profanation of a sacred custom-even as a betr ayal. Some of her countrymen were of this venge, including the burning of her house. opinion, which was expressed in acts of re d not stop with the scientific investigations. The profanation of the mushroom cult di The publication about the magic mushrooms unl eashed an invasion of hippies and drug seekers into the Mazatec country, many of wh om behaved badly, some even criminally. Another undesirable consequence was the beginning of true tourism in Huautla de Jiménez, whereby the originality of the place was eradicated. Such statements and considerations are, for the most part, the concern of ethnographical research. Wherever researcher s and scientis ts trace and elucidate the remains of ancient customs that are becoming rarer, their primitiveness is lost. This loss is only more or less counterbalanced when the outcome of the research represents a lasting cultural gain. From Huautla de Jiménez we proceeded first to Teotitlán, in a breakneck truck ride along a half-paved road, and from there went on a comfortable car trip back to Mexico City, the starting point of our expedition. I ha d lost several kilogr ams in body weight, but was overwhelmingly compensated in enchanting experiences. The herbarium samples of hojas de la Pastora , which we had brought with us, were subjected to botanical identific ation by Carl Epling and Carlos D. Jativa at the Botanical Institute of Harvard University in Cambridge , Massachusetts. They found that this plant
72 was a hitherto undescribed species of Salvia Salvia divinorum by these , which was named authors. The chemical investigation of the juice e laboratory in Basel of the magic sage in th was unsuccessful. The psychoactive principle of this drug seems to be a rather unstable substance, since the juice prepared in Mexico and preserved with alcohol proved in self- chemical nature of the active principle is experiments to be no longer active. Where the concerned, the problem of the magic plant ska María Pastora still awaits solution. So far in this book I have mainly descri bed my scientific work and matters relating to my professional activity. But this work, by its very nature, had repercussions on my own life and personality, not least because it brought me into c ontact with interesting and important contemporaries. I have already mentioned some of them—Timothy Leary, Rudolf Gelpke, Gordon Wasson. Now, in the pa ges that follow, I would like to emerge from the natural scientist's re serve, in order to portray en counters which were personally meaningful to me and which helped me solve questions posed by the substances I had discovered.
73 7. Radiance from Ernst Jünger express the influence that Ernst Jünger's literary work Radiance is the perfect term to of his perspective, which stereoscopically and personality have had on me. In the light comprises the surfaces and depths of things, the world I knew took on a new, translucent splendor. That happened a long time before the discovery of LSD and before I came into personal contact with this author in connection with hallucinogenic drugs. My enchantment with Ernst Jünger began with his book Das Abenteuerliche Herz [The ain in the last forty years I have taken up this book. Here adventurous heart]. Again and ag lightly and lie closer to me than war and a more than ever, in themes that weigh more r's earlier books), the new type of human being (subjects of Jünge beauty and magic of Jünger's prose was opened to me-descriptions of flowers, of dreams, of solitary walks; thoughts about chance, the future, colors, and ab out other themes that have direct relation to our personal lives. Everywhe creation became evident, in re in his prose the miracle of the precise description of the surfaces and, in translucence, of the depths; and the uniqueness and the imperishable in every human being was touched upon. No other writer has thus opened my eyes. Drugs were also mentioned in Das Abenteuerliche Herz. Many years passed, however, before I myself began to be especially interest ed in this subject, after the discovery of the psychic effects of LSD. My first correspondence with Ernst Jünger had nothing to do with the context of drugs; rather I once wrote to him on his birthday, as a thankful reader. Bottmingen, 29 March 1947 Dear Mr. Jünger, As one richly endowed by you for years, I wished to send a jar of honey to you for your birthday. But I did not have this pleas ure, because my export license has been refused in Bern. The gift was intended less as a greeti ng from a country in which milk and honey still flow, than as a reminiscence of th e enchanting sentences in your book Auf den Marmorklippen (On the Marble Cliffs), where you speak of the "golden bees." The book mentioned here had appeared in 1939, just shortly before the outbreak of only a masterpiece of German prose, but World War II. Auf den Marmorklippen is not also a work of great significance because in this book the characteristics of tyrants and the horror of war and nocturnal bombardme nt are described prophetically, in poetic vision. In the course of our correspondence, Erns t Jünger also inquired about my LSD studies, of which he had learned through a friend. Thereupon I sent him the pertinent publications, which he acknowledged with the following comments: Kirchhorst, 3/3/1948 . . . together with both enclosures c oncerning your new phantasticum. It seems indeed that you have entered a field that co ntains so many tempting mysteries.
74 Your consignment came together with the Confessions of an English Opium Eater, that e translator writes me that his reading of has just been published in a new translation. Th Das Abenteuerliche Herz stimulated him to do his work. As far as I am concerned, my practical studies in this field are far behind me. These are barks on truly dangerous paths, and may be experiments in which one sooner or later em considered lucky to escape with only a black eye. tances to productivity. What interested me above all was the re lationship of these subs It has been my experience, however, that creative achievement requires an alert r the spell of drugs. On the other hand, consciousness, and that it diminishes unde conceptualization is important, and one gain s insights under the influence of drugs that indeed are not possible otherwise. I consider the beautiful essay that Maupassant has an insight. Moreover, I had th e impression that in fever one written about ether to be such also discovers new landscapes, new archipelagos, and a new music, that becomes completely distinct when the "customs station" ["An der Zollstation" [At the custom Das Abenteuerliche Herz station], the title heading of a section in (2d ed.) that concerns the transition from life to d eath.] appears. For geographic description, on the other hand, one must be fully conscious. What productivity means to the artist, healing means to the him that he sometimes enters the regions physician. Accordingly, it also may suffice for senses have woven. Moreover, I seem to perceive in our through the tapestries that our time less of a taste for the phantastica than for the energetica—amphetamine, which has even been furnished to fliers and other sold iers by the armies, belongs to this group. Tea is in my opinion a phantasticum, coffee an energeticum—tea therefore possesses a disproportionately higher artistic rank. I notice that coffee disrupts the delicat e lattice of light and shadows, the fruitful doubts that emerge during the writing of a sentence. One other hand, the thoughts climb genuinely exceeds his inhibitions. With tea, on the upward. So far as my "studies" are concerned, I had a manuscript on that topic, but have since burned it. My excursions terminated with hashis h, that led to very pleasant, but also to manic states, to oriental tyranny... Soon afterward, in a letter from Ernst Jünge r I learned that he had inserted a discourse about drugs in the novel Heliopolis , on which he was then work ing. He wrote to me about the drug researcher who figures in the novel: Among the trips in the geographical and meta physical worlds, which I am attempting to describe there, are those of a purely sede ntary man, who explores the archipelagos beyond the navigable seas, for which he uses drugs as a vehicle. I give extracts from his log book. Certainly, I cannot allow this Columbus of the inner globe to end well-he dies of a poisoning. Avis au lecteur. The book that appeared the following year bore the subtitle Ruckblick auf eine Stadt [Retrospective on a city], a retrospective on a city of the future, in which technical apparatus and the weapons of the present time were developed still further in magic, and in which power struggles be tween a demonic technocracy and a conservative force took place. In the figure of Antonio Peri, Jünger depicted the mentioned drug researcher, who resided in the ancient city of Heliopolis .
75 He captured dreams, just like others appear to chase after butterflies with nets. He did not s and did not frequent the taverns on Pagos travel to the islands on Sundays and holiday beach. He locked himself up in his studio for trips into the dreamy re gions. He said that all countries and unknown islands were woven in to the tapestry. The drugs served him as keys to entry into the chambers and caves of this world. In th e course of the years he had gained great knowledge, and he kept a l og book of his excursions. A small library adjoined this studio, consisting partly of herb als and medicinal reports, partly of works by there while the effect of the drug itself poets and magicians. Antonio tended to read developed. . . . He went on voyages of discovery in the universe of his brain... In the center of this library, which was pillaged by mercenar ies of the provincial governor during the arrest of Antonio Peri, stood neteenth century: De Quincey, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Poe, and The great inspirers of the ni e ancient past: herbals, Baudelaire. Yet there were also books from th necromancy texts, and demonology of the middle-aged world. Th ey included the names Albertus Magnus, Raimundus Lullus, and Agrippa of Netteshey m... Moreover, there was the great folio De by Wierus, and the very uni Praestigiis Daemonum que compilations of Medicus Weckerus, published in Basel in 1582... In another part of his collection, Antonio Peri seemed to have cast his attention principally "on ancient pharmacology books, formularies and pharmacopoeias, and to have hunted for reprints of journals and annals. Among others was found a heavy old volume by the Heidelberg psychologists on the extract of mescal buttons, and a paper on the phantastica of ergot by Hofmann-Bottmingen..." In the same year in which came out, I made the personal acquaintance of the Heliopolis author. I went to meet Ernst Jünger in Ravensburg, for a Swiss sojourn. On a wonderful fall journey in southern Swit friends, I experienced the zerland, together with mutual radiant power of his personality. Two years later, at the beginning of February 1951, came the great adventure, an LSD trip with Ernst Jünger. Since, up until that moment, there were only reports of LSD experiments in connection with psychiatri c inquiries, this experiment especially interested me, because this was an opport unity to observe the effects of LSD on the artistic person, in a nonmedical milieu. That was still somewhat before Aldous Huxley, from the same perspective, began to experi ment with mescaline, about which he then reported in his two books The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. In order to have medical aid on hand if necessary, I invited my friend, the physician and pharmacologist Professor Heribert Konzett, to participate. Th e trip took place at 10:00 in the morning, in the li ving room of our house in Bottmingen. Since the reaction of such a highly sensitive man as Ernst Jünger was not foreseeable, a low dose was chosen for this first experiment as a precaution, only 0.05 mg. The experiment then, did not lead into great depths. The beginning phase was characterized by the intensification of aesthetic experience. Red-violet roses were of unknown luminosity and radiated in portent ous brightness. The concerto for flute and harp by Mozart was perc eived in its celestial beauty as heavenly music. In mutual astonishment we contemplat ed the haze of smoke that ascended with the ease of thought from a Japanese incense stick. As the inebriation became deeper and the
76 conversation ended, we came to fantastic reveri es while we lay in our easy chairs with splay of oriental images: I was on a trip closed eyes. Ernst Jünger enjoyed the color di among Berber tribes in North Africa, saw co lored caravans and lush oases. Heribert be transfigured, Buddha-like, experienced a Konzett, whose features seemed to me to breath of timelessness, liberation from the pa st and the future, blessedness through being completely here and now. The return from the altered state of consciousness was associated with strong sensitivity to cold. Like freezing travelers, we enveloped ourselves in covers for the good dinner, in which landing. The return to everyday reality wa s celebrated with a Burgundy flowed copiously. This trip was characterized by the mutuality and parallelism of our experiences, which were perceived as profoundly joyful. All thr ee of us had drawn near the gate to an experience of mystical being; however, it did not open. The dose we had chosen was too low. In misunderstanding this reason, Ernst Jünger, who had earlier been thrust into e, remarked: "Compared with the tiger deeper realms by a high dose of mescalin mescaline, your LSD, is, after all, only a house cat." After later experiments with higher doses of LSD, he revised this estimation. Jünger has assimilated the mentioned spect acle of the incense stic k into literature, in Besuch auf Gotenhotm his story ich deeper experiences of [Visit to Godenholm], in wh drug inebriation also play a part: Schwarzenberg burned an incense stick, as he sometimes did, to clear the air. A blue plume ascended from the tip of the stick. Mo ltner looked at it firs t with astonishment, then with delight, as if a new pow er of the eyes had come to him. It revealed itself in the play of this fragrant smoke, which ascended from the slender stick and then branched out into a delicate crown. It was as if his imagination had created it-a pallid web of sea lilies in the depths, that scarcely trembled from th e beat of the surf. Time was active in this creation-it had circled it, whirled about it, wreathed it, as if imaginary coins rapidly piled up one on top of another. The abundance of space revealed itself in the fiber work, the nerves, which stretched and unfolded in the he ight, in a vast number of filaments. Now a breath of air affected the vision, about the shaft like a and softly twisted it dancer. Moltner uttered a shout of surpri se. The beams and lattices of the wondrous flower wheeled around in new planes, in new fields. Myriads of molecules observed the harmony. Here the laws no longer acted under the veil of appearance; matter was so delicate and weightless that it clearly reflected them. How simple and cogent everything was. The numbers, masses and weights stood ou t from matter. They cast off the raiments. No goddess could inform the initiates more boldly and freely. The pyramids with their weight did not reach up to this revelation. Th at was Pythagorean luster. No spectacle had ever affected him with such a magic spell. This deepened experience in the aesthetic sphere, as it is described here in the example of contemplation of a haze of blue smoke, is typical of the beginning phase of LSD inebriation, before deeper alte rations of conscious begin. I visited Ernst Jünger occasionally in the following years, in Wilfingen, Germany, where he had moved from Ravensburg; or we met in Switzerland, at my place in Bottmingen, or in Bundnerland in southeas tern Switzerland. Through the shared LSD experience our relations had deepened. Dr ugs and problems connected with them
77 constituted a major subject of our conversa tion and correspondence, without our having riments in the meantime. made further practical expe We exchanged literature about drugs. Er nst Jünger thus let me have for my drug library Die Narkotischen Dr. Ernst Freiherrn von Bibra, the rare, valuable monograph of [Narcotic pleasure drugs and man] printed in Nuremburg in Genussmittel und der Mensch 1855. This book is a pioneering, standard work of drug literature, a source of the first order, above all as relates to the history of drugs. What von Bibra embraces under the designation "Narkotischen Genussmittel" are not only substan ces like opium and thorn apple, but also coffee, tobacco, kat, whic h do not fall under the present conception of narcotics, any more than do drugs such as coca, fly agaric, and hashish, which he also described. Noteworthy, and today still as topical as at the time, are the general opinions about drugs that von Bibra contrived more than a century ago: h, and then runs fran The individual who has taken too much hashis tically about in the streets and attacks everyone insignificance beside the who confronts him, sinks into numbers of those who after mealtime pass calm and happy hours with a moderate dose; and the number of those who are able to ove rcome the heaviest exertions through coca, yes, who were possibly rescued from death by starvation through coca, by far exceed the few coqueros who have undermined their health by i mmoderate use. In the same manner, only a misplaced hypocrisy can condemn the vinous cup of old father Noah, because individual drunkards do not know how to observe limit and moderation. From time to time I advised Ernst J ünger about actual and ente rtaining events in the field of inebriating drugs, as in my letter of September 1955: . . . Last week the first 200 grams of a ne w drug arrived, whose investigation I wish to take up. It involves the seeds of a mimosa ( Piptadenia peregrina Benth,) that is used as a stimulating intoxicant by the Indians of the Orinoco. The seeds are ground, fermented, and then mixed with the powder of burned snail shells. This powder is sniffed by the Indians with the help of a hollow, forked bi rd bone, as already reported by Alexander von Humboldt in Reise nach den Aequinoctiat-Gege nden des Neuen Kontinents [Voyage to the equinoctial regions of th e new continent] (Book 8, Chapte r 24). The warlike tribe, the Otomaco, especially use this drug, called or cojoba , to an extensive niopo, yupa, nopo degree, even today. It is reported in the monograph by P. J. Gumilla, S. J. (El Orinoco Ilustrado, 1741): "The Otomacos sniffed the powder be fore they went to battle with the Caribes, for in earlier times there existed sa vage wars between these tribes... This drug robs them completely of reason, and they frantically seize thei r weapons. And if the women were not so adept at holding them back and binding them fast, they would daily cause horrible devastation. It is a terrible vice... Other benign and docile tribes that also sniff the yupa , do not get into such a fury as the Otomacos, who through self-injury with this agent made themselves completely cruel before combat, and marched into battle with savage fury." session one day niopo would act on people like us. Should a niopo I am curious how come to pass, then we should on no account se nd our wives away, as on that early spring reverie [The LSD trip of February 1951 is m eant here.], that they may bind us fast if necessary...
78 Chemical analysis of this drug led to is es that, like the ergot olation of active principl indole alkaloids, but which were already alkaloids and psilocybin, belong to the group of described in the technical literature, and were therefore not investigated further in the principles of are DMT (N,N- note: The active Sandoz laboratories. [Translator's niopo dimethyltryptamine) and its congeners. DMT was first prepared in 1931 by Manske.] The the particular manner of use fantastic effects described above appeared to occur only with as snuff powder, and also seemed to be relate d, in all probability, to the psychic structure of the Indian tribes concerned. Ambivalence of Drug Use Fundamental questions of drug pr oblems were dealt with in the following correspondence. Bottmingen, 16 December 1961 Dear Mr. Jünger, eat desire, besides th e natural-scientific, On the one hand, I would have the gr llucinogenic substances, also to research chemical-pharmacological investigation of ha their use as magic drugs in other regions... On the other hand, I must admit that the fundamental question very much occupies me , whether the use of these types of drugs, namely of substances that so deeply aff ect our minds, could not indeed represent a forbidden transgression of limits. As long as any means or methods are used, which r aspect of reality, surely ther provide only an additional, newe e is nothing to object to in such means; on the contrary, the experien ce and the knowledge of further facets of the reality only makes this reality ever more real to us. The question exists, however, whether here will in fact only open an additional the deeply affecting drugs under discussion tions, or whether the spectator himself, the core of his window for our senses and percep being, undergoes alterations. The latter would signify that something is altered that in my opinion should always remain intact. My c oncern is addressed to the question, whether the innermost core of our being is actual ly unimpeachable, and cannot become damaged by whatever happens in its material, physical -chemical, biological and psychic shells-or whether matter in the form of these drugs displa ys a potency that has the ability to attack the spiritual center of the personality, the self . The latter would have to be explained by the fact that the effect of magic drugs ha ppens at the borderline where mind and matter merge-that these magic substances are themselv es cracks in the infinite realm of matter, in which the depth of matter, its relati onship with the mind, becomes particularly obvious. This could be expressed by a modifi cation of the familiar words of Goethe: "Were the eye not sunny, It could never behold the sun; If the power of the mind were not in matter, How could matter disturb the mind." This would correspond to cracks which the radioactive substances constitute in the
79 periodic system of the elements, where th e transition of matter into energy becomes the production of atomic energy likewise manifest. Indeed, one must ask whether represents a transgressio n of forbidden limits. ws from the possibility of influencing the A further disquieting thought, which follo highest intellectual functions by traces of a substance, concerns free will. ces like LSD and psilocybin possess in their The highly active psychotropic substan chemical structure a very close relationship with substances inherent in the body, which are found in the central nervous system and play an important role in the regulation of its functions. It is therefore con ceivable that through some disturbance in the metabolism of the normal neurotransmitters, a compound like LSD or psilocybin is formed, which can determine and alter the character of the indi vidual, his world view and his behavior. A trace of a substance, whose production or nonproduction we cannot control with our ch biochemical considerations could have wills, has the power to shape our destiny. Su led to the sentence that Go ttfried Benn quoted in his e ssay "Provoziertes Leben" [Provoked life]: "God is a substance, a drug!" On the other hand, it is well known that substances like adrenaline, for example, are houghts and emotions, which for their part formed or set free in our organism by t determine the functions of the nervous sy stem. One may therefore suppose that our material organism is susceptible to and sh aped by our mind, in the same way that our intellectual essence is shaped e first can indeed no better by our biochemistry. Which cam be determined than the question, whether the chicke n came before the egg. In spite of my uncertainty with regard to the fundamental dangers that could lie in the use of hallucinogenic substances, I have contin ued investigations on the active principles of the Mexican magic morning glories, of which I wrote you briefly once before. In the ololiuhqui seeds of this morning glory, that were called by the ancient Aztecs, we found as active principles lysergic acid derivatives chemically very closely related to LSD. That was an almost unbelievable finding. I have all along had a particular love for the morning ew myself in my little child's garden. Their glories. They were the first flowers that I gr first memories of my childhood. blue and red cups belong to the I recently read in a book by D. T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, that the morning glory plays a great role in Japan, among the fl ower lovers, in literature, and in graphic arts. Its fleeting splendor ha s given the Japanese imagination rich stimulus. Among others, Suzuki quotes a three- line poem of the poetess Chiyo (1702-75), who one morning went to fetch water from a neighbor's house, because . . . "My trough is captivated by a morning glory blossom, So I ask after water." The morning glory thus shows both possible ways of influencing the mind-body- essence of man: in Mexico it exerts its e ffects in a chemical way as a magic drug, while in Japan it acts from the spiritual side, through the beauty of its flower cups. Wilflingen, 17 December 1961 Dear Mr. Hofmann, I give you my thanks for your detailed letter of 16 December. I have reflected on your central question, and may probably become occupied with it on the occasion of the
80 revision of An der Zeitmauer [At the wall of time]. There I intimated that, in the field of are beginning to develop procedures that are physics as well as in the field of biology, we hed sense, but that rather intervene no longer to be understood as adva nces in the establis t of the species. Cert ainly I turn the glove in evolution and lead forth in the developmen inside out, for I suppose that it is a new worl d age, which begins to act evolutionarily on the prototypes. Our science with its theories and discoveries is therefore not the cause, ution, among others. Animals, plants, the rather one of the consequences of evol atmosphere and the surfaces of planets wi ll be concerned simultaneously. We do not progress from point to point, ra ther we cross over a line. considered. However, it exists in every aspect The risk that you indicated is well to be tor appears now here, now there. of our existence. The common denomina crack. In mentioning radioactivity, you use the word Cracks are not merely points of discovery, but also points of destruction. Comp ared to the effects of radiation, those of the magical drugs are more genuine and much less rough. In classical manner they lead that to some extent. Wine has already us beyond the humane. Gurdjieff has already seen manity with it. But wine is to the new changed much, has brought new gods and a new hu substances as classical physics is to modern physics. These things should only be tried in small circles. I cannot agree with the thoughts of Huxley, that possibilities for transcendence could here be given to th e masses. Indeed, this does not involve comforting fictions, but rather realities, if we take the matter earnestly. And few contacts will suffice here for the setting of courses a nd guidance. It also transcends theology and rily entails entry into a new house, in the belongs in the chapter of theogony, as it necessa can be satisfied with this in sight, and should above all be astrological sense. At first, one cautious with the designations. Heartfelt thanks also for the beautiful pi cture of the blue morni ng glory. It appears to be the same that I cultivate year after year in my garden. I did not know that it possesses e case with every plant. We do not know the specific powers; however, that is probably th key to most. Besides this, there must be a central viewpoint fro m which not only the chemistry, the structure, the color, but ra ther all attributes become significant... An Experiment with Psilocybin Such theoretical discussions about th e magic drugs were supplemented by practical experiments. One such experiment, which served as a comparison between LSD and psilocybin, took place in the spring of 1962. The proper occasion for it presented itself at the home of the Jüngers, in the former head forester's house of Stauffenberg's Castle in Wilflingen. My friends, the pharmacologist Pr ofessor Heribert Kon zett and the Islamic scholar Dr. Rudolf Gelpke, also took part in this mushroom symposium. The old chronicles de scribed how the Aztecs drank chocolatl before they ate teonanácatl . Thus Mrs. Liselotte Jünger likewise served us hot chocolate, to set the mood. Then she abandoned the four men to their fate. We had gathered in a fashionable liv ing room, with a dark wooden ceiling, white tile stove, period furniture, old French engravings on the walls, a gorgeous bouquet of tulips
81 on the table. Ernst Jünger wore a long, broad, dark blue striped kaftan-like garment that he had brought from Egypt; Heribert Konzett was resplendent in a brightly embroidered on housecoats. The everyday reality should mandarin gown; Rudolf Gelpke and I had put be laid aside, along with everyday clothing. Shortly before sundown we took the drug, not the mushrooms, but rather their active esponded to some two-thirds of the very principle, 20 mg psilocybin each. That corr Maria Sabina in the form of Psilocybe strong dose that was taken by the curandera mushrooms. ons were already very deeply After an hour I still noti ced no effect, while my compani in the mushroom inebriation I could manage into the trip. I had come with the hope that to allow certain images from euphoric mome nts of my childhood, which remained in my memory as blissful experiences, to come a live: a meadow covered with chrysanthemums mmer wind; the rosebush in the evening light after a rain lightly stirred by the early su storm; the blue irises hanging over the vineyard wall. Instead of these bright images from my childhood home, strange scenery emerged, when the mushroom factor finally began rough totally deserted cities with a Mexican to act. Half stupefied, I sank deeper, passed th I tried to detain myse lf on the surface, to type of exotic, yet dead splendor. Terrified, concentrate alertly on the outer world, on th e surroundings. For a time I succeeded. I then , pacing back and forth, a powerful, mighty observed Ernst Jünger, colossal in the room strous housecoat seemed to be a dangerous, magician. Heribert Konzett in the silky lu Chinese clown. Even Rudolf Gelpke appeared sinister to me; long, thin, mysterious. With the increasing dept h of inebriation, everything b ecame yet stranger. I even felt strange to myself. Weird, cold, foolish, deserted, in a dull light, were the places I traversed when I closed my eyes. Emptied of all meaning, the environment also seemed nd tried to cling to the outer world. The ghostlike to me whenever I opened my eyes a drag me down into absolute nothingness. I remember how I total emptiness threatened to seized Rudolf Gelpke's arm as he passed by my chair, and held myself to him, in order not to sink into dark nothingness. Fear of death seized me, and illimitable longing to to the reality of the world of men. After timeless fear I return to the living creation, and heard the great magician lecturing slowly returned to the room . I saw uninterruptedly with a clear, loud voice, about Schopenhauer, Kant, Hegel, and speaking about the old Gäa, the beloved little mother . Heribert Konzett and Rudolf Gelpke were already completely on the earth again, while I could only regain my footing with great effort. For me this entry into the mushroom worl d had been a test, a conf rontation with a dead world and with the void. The experiment had developed differently from what I had ounter with the void can also be appraised as a gain. Then expected. Nevertheless, the enc the existence of the creation appears so much more wondrous. Midnight had passed, as we sat together at the table that the mistress of the house had set in the upper story. We celebra ted the return with an exquisite repast and with Mozart's music. The conversation, during which we exchanged our experiences, lasted almost until morning. Ernst Jünger has described how he had experienced this trip, in his book Annähenngen—Drogen und Rausch [Approaches-d rugs and inebriation] (published by Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart, 1970), in the section "Ein Pilz-Sym posium" [A mushroom symposium]. The following is an extract from the work:
82 As usual, a half hour or a little more passed in silence. Then came the first signs: the out flashes. It was time for leaving work; flowers on the table began to flare up and sent brush strokes invaded outside the streets were being cleaned, like on every weekend. The the silence painfully. This shuffling and brushing, now and again also a scraping, ses and is also symptomatic, like pounding, rumbling, and hammering, has random cau Again and again it also plays a role in the one of the signs that announces an illness. history of magic practices. ed darker. That was By this time the mushroom began to act; the spring bouquet glow corners, as if they sought form. I became no natural light. The shadows stirred in the uneasy, even chilled, despite the heat that em anated from the tiles. I stretched myself on the sofa, drew the covers over my head. Everything became skin and was touched, even the retina-there the contact was light. This light was multicolored; it arranged itself in strings, which gently swung back and forth; in strings of glass beads of oriental doorways. They formed doors, like those one ains of lust and danger. The wind stirred them like a passes through in a dream, curt of dancers, opened and closed themselves garment. They also fell down from the belts with the swing of the hips, and from the beads a rippling of the most delicate sounds fluttered to the heightened senses. The chime of the silver rings on the ankles and wrists is already too loud. It smells of sweat, blood, tobacco, chopped horse hairs, cheap rose essence. Who knows what is going on in the stables? It must be an immense palace, Mauritanian, not a good place. At this ballroom flights of adjoining rooms lead into the lower stratu m. And everywhere the curtains with their glitter, their sparkling, radi oactive glow. Moreover, the ri ppling of glassy instruments with their beckoning, their wooing solicitatio n: " Will you go with me, beautiful boy?" Now it ceased, now it repeated, more importunate, more intrusive, almost already assured of agreement. vox humana, Now came forms-historical collages, the the call of the cuckoo. Was it the whore of Santa Lucia, who stuck her breas ts out of the window? Then the play was ruined. Salome danced; the amber necklace em itted sparks and made the nipples erect. ranslator's note: "Joha nnes" here is slang What would one not do for one's Johannes? [T er."] -damned, that was a disgusting obscenity, for penis, as in English "Dick" or "Pet which did not come from me, but was whispered through the curtain. The snakes were dirty, scarcely alive, they wallowed sluggishly over the floor mats. They were garnished with brilliant shards. Others looked up from the floor with red and green eyes. It glistened and whispered, hissed and sparkled like diminutive sickles at the sacred harvest. Then it quieted, and came anew, more faintly, more forward. They had me in their hand. "There we i mmediately understood ourselves." Madam came through the curtain: she was busy, passed by me without noticing me. I saw the boots with the red heels. Garters cons tricted the thick thighs in the middle, the flesh bulged out there. The enormous breas ts, the dark delta of the Amazon, parrots, piranhas, semiprecious stones everywhere. Now she went into the kitchen-or ar e there still cellars here? The sparkling and whispering, the hissing and twinkling could no longer be differentiated; it seemed to become concentrated, now proudly rejoicing, full of hope. It became hot and intolerable; I threw th e covers off. The room was faintly illuminated; the pharmacologist stood at the window in the white mandarin frock, which had served
83 me shortly before in Rottweil at the carnival. The orientalist sat beside the tile stove; he tood; it had been a first round, and it would moaned as if he had a nightmare. I unders soon start again. The time was not yet up. I ha d already seen the beloved little mother under other circumstances. But even excrement is earth, belongs like gold to transformed matter. One must come to terms with it, without getting too close. These were the earthy mushrooms. More light was hidden in the dark grain that burst from the ear, more yet in th e green juice of the succulents on the glowing slopes of Mexico. . . . [Translator's note: Jünger is referring to LSD, a derivative of ergot, and mescaline, derived from the Mexican peyotl cactus.] The trip had run awry—possibly I s hould address the mushrooms once more. Yet indeed the whispering returned, the flashing and sparkling—the bait pulled the fish close behind itself. Once the motif is given, then it engraves itself, like on a roller each new melody. The game did not get beyond this beginning, each new revolution repeats the kind of dreariness. I don't know how often this was repeate ell upon it. Also, there d, and prefer not to dw are things which one would rather keep to oneself. In any case, midnight was past... senses were still height ened and the Doors of We went upstairs; the table was set. The from the red wine in the carafe; a froth Perception were opened. The light undulated surged at the brim. We listened to a flute co ncerto. It had not turned out better for the others: How beautiful, to be back among men." Thus Albert Hofmann. The orientalist on the other hand had been in Samarkand, where Timur rests in a coffin march through cities, whose dowry on entry of nephrite. He had followed the victorious long stood before one of the skull pyramids was a cauldron filled with eyes. There he had that terrible Timur had erected, and in the multitude of severed heads had perceived even his own. It was encrusted with stones. A light dawned on the pharmacologist when he heard this: Now I know why you were was astonished; I knew I wasn't dreaming. sitting in the armchair without your head-I is detail since it borde rs on the area of ghost I wonder whether I should not strike out th stories. The mushroom substance had carried all four of us off, not into luminous heights, rather into deeper regions. It seems that the psilocybin inebriation is more darkly colored in the majority of cases than the inebriati on produced by LSD. The influence of these two active substances is sure to differ from one individual to another. Personally, for me, there was more light in the LSD experiment s than in the experiments with the earthy mushroom, just as Ernst Jünger re marks in the preceding report. Another LSD Session The next and last thrust into the inner universe together with Ernst Jünger, this time again using LSD, led us very far from ev eryday consciousness. We came close to the ultimate door. Of course this door, according to Ernst Jünger, will in fact only open for us in the great transition from life into the hereafter.
84 This last joint experiment occurred in February 1970, again at the head forester's house ere were only the two of us. in Wilflingen. In this case th Ernst Jünger took 0.15 mg LSD, I took 0.10 mg. Ernst Jünger has published with out commentary the log book, the notes he made during the experiment, in Approaches, in the section "Nochmals LSD" [LSD once again]. They are scanty and tell the re ader little, just like my own records. after breakfast until darkness fell. At the The experiment lasted from morning just the concerto for flute and harp by Mozart, beginning of the trip, we again listened to which always made me especially happy, but this time, strange to say, seemed to me like the turning of porcelain figures. Then the in toxication led quickly into wordless depths. When I wanted to describe the perplexing al terations of consciousne ss to Ernst Jünger, no more than two or three words came out, for th ey sounded so false, so unable to express the experience; they seemed to originate from an infinitely distant world that had become strange; I abandoned the atte mpt, laughing hopelessly. Obvi ously, Ernst Jünger had the same experience, yet we did not need speech; a glance sufficed for the deepest of sentences on paper, such as at the understanding. I could, however, put some scraps ter, upon regarding e xpensively bound books in beginning: "Our boat tosses violently." La the library: "Like red-gold pushed from within den luster." Outside to without-exuding gol it began to snow. Masked children marched pa st and carts with car nival revelers passed by in the streets. With a glance through th e window into the garden, in which snow patches lay, many-colored masks appeared ove r the high walls bordering it, embedded in an infinitely joyful shade of blue: "A Breughel garden—I live with and in the objects." Later: "At present—no connection with the everyday world." Toward the end, deep, comforting insight expressed: "Hitherto conf irmed on my path." This time LSD had led to a blessed approach.
85 8. Meeting with Aldous Huxley In the mid-1950s, two books by Aldous Huxley appeared, The Doors of Perception dealing with inebriated states and Heaven and Hell, produced by hallucinogenic drugs. The alterations of sensory perceptions and consciousness, which the author experienced in a self-experiment with mescaline, are skillfully describe d in these books. The mescaline experiment was a visionary experi ence for Huxley. He saw objects in a new light; they disclosed their inherent, deep, tim eless existence, which remains hidden from everyday sight. These two books contained fundamental observations on the essence of visionary experience and about the significance of th is manner of comprehending the world—in cultural history, in the creation of myths, in the origin of religions, and in the creative process out of which works of art arise. Huxl ey saw the value of hallucinogenic drugs in that they give people who lack the gift of spontaneous visionary perception belonging to to experience this extraordinary state of mystics, saints, and great artists, the potential into the spiritual world of these great consciousness, and thereby to attain insight creators. Hallucinogens could l ead to a deepened understandi ng of religious and mystical content, and to a new and fresh experience of the great works of art. For Huxley these drugs were keys capable of opening new doors of perception; chemical keys, in addition to other proven but laborious " door opene rs" to the visionary world like meditation, isolation, and fasting, or lik e certain yoga practices. At the time I already knew the earlier wo rk of this great writer and thinker, books that meant much to me, like Point Counter Point, Brave New World, After Many a Summer, Eyeless in Gaza, and a few others. In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Huxley's newly-published works, I found a meaningful exposition of the experience gained a deepened insight into my own induced by hallucinogenic drugs, and I thereby LSD experiments. I was therefore delighted when I recei ved a telephone call from Aldous Huxley in the laboratory one morning in August 1961. He was passing through Zurich with his wife. He invited me and my wife to lunch in the Hotel Sonnenberg. nd noble appearance, who A gentleman with a yellow freesia in his buttonhole, a tall a exuded kindness—this is the image I retain ed from this first meeting with Aldous Huxley. The table conversation revolved mainly around the problem of magic drugs. Both Huxley and his wife, Laura Archera H uxley, had also experimented with LSD and psilocybin. Huxley would have preferred no t to designate these two substances and mescaline as "drugs," because in Eng Droge in lish usage, as also by the way with German, that word has a pejorative connot ation, and because it was important to differentiate the hallucinogens from the other drugs, even linguistically. He believed in the great importance of agents producing visi onary experience in the modern phase of human evolution. He considered experiments under laboratory conditions to be insign ificant, since in the extraordinarily intensified susceptibility a nd sensitivity to external impressions, the surroundings are of decisive importance. He recommended to my wife, when we spoke of her native place in the mountains, that she take LSD in an alpine meadow and then look
86 into the blue cup of a gentian flow er, to behold the wonder of creation. , as a remembrance of this meeting, a tape As we parted, Aldous Huxley gave me recording of his lecture "Visionary Experien ce," which he had delivered the week before ongress on applied psychology in Copenhagen. In this lecture, Aldous at an international c Huxley spoke about the meaning and essence of visionary experience and compared this type of world view to the verbal and intellect ual comprehension of r eality as its essential complement. appeared, the novel In the following year, the newest and last book by Aldous Huxley is an attempt to blend the achievements This story, set on the utopian island Pala, Island. of natural science and techni cal civilization with the wi sdom of Eastern thought, to achieve a new culture in which rationalis m and mysticism are fruitfully united. The moksha a mushroom, plays a significant role in medicine, a magical drug prepared from the life of the population of Pala (moksha is Sanskrit for "release," "liberation"). The drug life. The young men on Pala received it in could be used only in critical periods of d to the protagonist of the nove l during a life crisis, in the initiation rites, it is dispense scope of a psychotherapeutic dialogue with a spiritual friend, and it helps the dying to relinquish the mortal body, in the transition to another existence. ady learned from Aldous Huxley that he would In our conversation in Zurich, I had alre in his forthcoming novel. Now he sent me a again treat the problem of psychedelic drugs copy of Island, inscribed "To Dr. Albert Hofma nn, the original discoverer of the moksha medicine, from Aldous Huxley." The hopes that Aldous Huxley placed in psychedelic drugs as a means of evoking visionary experience, and the us es of these substances in ev eryday life, are subjects of a letter of 29 February 1962, in which he wrote me: . . . I have good hopes that this and similar work will result in the development of a real xperience, in all its variations, determined by differences of Natural History of visionary e physique, temperament and profession, and at the same time of a technique of Applied Mysticism—a technique for helping indivi duals to get the mo st out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the "Other World" in the affairs of "This World." Meister Eckhart wrot e that "what is take n in by contemplation must be given out in love." Essentially this is what must be developed—the art of giving out in love and intelligence what is taken in from vision and the experience of self- transcendence and solidarity with the Universe... Aldous Huxley and I were together often at the annual convention of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS) in Stockholm during la te summer 1963. His at the sessions of the academy, through their suggestions and contributions to discussions form and importance, had a great influence on the proceedings. hed in order to allow the most competent specialists to WAAS had been establis consider world problems in a forum free of id eological and religious restrictions and from an international viewpoint encompassing the whole world. The results: proposals, and thoughts in the form of appropriate publications , were to be placed at the disposal of the responsible governments and executive organizations. The 1963 meeting of WAAS had dealt with the population explosion and the raw material reserves and food resources of the earth. The corresponding studies and proposals were collected in Volu me II of WAAS under the title The Population Crisis
87 and the Use of World Resources. A decade before birth control, environmental catchwords, these wo rld problems were protection, and the energy crisis became r their solution were examined there from the most serious point of view, and proposals fo zations. The catastrophic events since that made to governments and responsible organi time in the aforementioned fields makes evident the tragic discrepancy between and feasibility. recognition, desire, Aldous Huxley made the proposal, as a continuation and complement of the theme "World Resources" at the Stockholm conven tion, to address the problem "Human Resources," the exploration a hidden in humans yet unused. nd application of capabilities A human race with more highly developed spiritual capacities, with expanded consciousness of the depth and the incomprehe nsible wonder of being, would also have e biological and material greater understanding of and better consideration for th foundations of life on this earth. Above all, for Western people with their hypertrophied rationality, the development and expansion of a direct, emotional experience of reality, unobstructed by words and concepts, would be of evolutionary significance. Huxley considered psychedelic drugs to be one means to achieve education in this direction. The psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond, likewise participating in th e congress, who had created the term psychedelic (mind-expanding), assisted him with a report about the use of hallucinogens. significant possibilities of my last meeting with Aldous Huxley. His The convention in Stockholm in 1963 was severe illness; his intellectual personage, physical appearance was already marked by a however, still bore the undiminished signs of a comprehensive knowledge of the heights man, which he had displayed with so much and depths of the inner and outer world of genius, love, goodness, and humo r in his literary work. Aldous Huxley died on 22 November of the same year, on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. From Laura Huxley I obtained a copy of her letter to Julian and Juliette Huxley, in which she reported to ster-in-law about her her brother- and si husband's last day. The doctors had prepared her for a dramatic end, because the terminal phase of cancer of the throat, from wh ich Aldous Huxley suffered, is usually accompanied by convulsions and choking fits. He died serenely and peacefully, however. In the morning, when he was already so weak that he could no longer speak, he had written on a sheet of paper: "LSD—try it—intramuscular—100 mm g." Mrs. Huxley understood what was meant by this, and i gnoring the misgivings of the attending physician, she gave him, with her own hand, th e desired injection-she let him have the moksha medicine.
88 9. Correspondence with the Poet-Physician Walter Vogt My friendship with th e physician, psychiatrist, and write r Walter Vogt, M.D., is also among the personal contacts that I owe to LSD. As the following extract from our nal aspects of LSD, important to the correspondence shows, it was less the medici s on the depth of the psyche, of interest physician, than the consciousness-altering effect to the writer, that constituted the theme of our correspondence. Muri/Bern, 22 November 1970 Dear Mr. Hofmann, to tea in a cafe by a friendly family in Rome. Last night I dreamed that I was invited This family also knew the pope, and so the pope sat at—the same table to tea with us. He was all in white and also wore a white miter. He sat there so handsome and was silent. And today I suddenly had the idea of sending you my [Bird on the Vogel auf dem Tisch table—as a visiting ca rd if you so wish—a book that remained a little apocryphal, which n translator is firmly convinced that is upon reflection I do not regret, although the Italia so an Italian. So it goes. ...) my best. (Ah yes, the pope is al you. It was written in 1966 by an author who at Possibly this little work will interest that time still had not had any shred of expe rience with psychedelic substances and who read the reports about medicinal experiment s with these drugs devoid of understanding. However, little has changed since, except th at now the misgiving comes from the other side. I suppose that your discovery has caused a hiatus (not directly a Saul-to-Paul rk (also a large word) - and indeed, that conversion as Roland Fischer says...) in my wo realistic or at least less expressive. In any which I have written since has become rather case I could not have brought off the cool realism of my TV pi ece "Spiele der Macht" ts attest it, in case [Games of power] without it. The different draf they are still lying around somewhere. Should you have interest and time for a meeting, it would delight me very much to visit you sometime for a conversation. W. V. Burg, i.L. 28 November 1970 Dear Mr. Vogt, If the bird that alighted on my table wa s able to find its way to me, this is one more debt I owe to the magical effect of LSD. I could soon write a book about all of the results that derive from that experiment in 1943... A. H. Muri/Bern, 13 March 1971 Dear Mr. Hofmann, Enclosed is a critique of Jünger's Annahenngen [Approaches], from the daily paper, that will presumably interest you... It seems to me that to hallucinate—to dream —to write, stands at al l times in contrast to everyday consciousness, and their functions are complementary. Here I can naturally speak only for myself. This could be different with others—it is also truly difficult to
89 speak with others about such things, because people often speak altogether different languages... However, since you are now gathering autographs, and do me the honor of incorporating some of my le tters in your collection, I en close for you the manuscript of y joyous invention of my "testament"—in which your discovery plays a role as "the onl the twentieth century..." W. V. dr. walter vogts most recent testament 1969 I wish to have no special funeral only expensive and obscene orchids innumerable little birds with gay names no naked dancers but psychedelic garments loudspeaker in every corner and nothing but the latest beatles record [Abbey Road] one hundred thousand million times and do what you like ["Blind Faith"] on an endless tape nothing more with a halo of genuine gold than a popular Christ and a beloved mourning congregation that pumped themselves full with acid [acid = LSD] till they go to heaven [From Abbey Road, side two] one two three four five six seven possibly we will enco unter one another there most cordially dedicated to Dr. Albert Hofmann Beginning of Spring 1971 Burg i.L., 29 March 1971 Dear Mr. Vogt, You have again presented me with a l ovely letter and a very valuable autograph, the testament 1969... Very remarkable dreams in recent times induce me to test a connection between the composition (chemical) of the evening meal and the quality of dreams. Yes, LSD is also something that one eats... A. H. Muri/Bern, 5 September 1971 Dear Mr. Hofmann, Over the weekend at Murtensee [On that Sunday, I (A. H.) hovered over the Murtensee in the balloon of my friend E. I., who had taken me along as passenger.] I often thought of you—a most radiant autumn day. Yesterday, Sa turday, thanks to one tablet of aspirin (on account of a headache or mild flu), I expe rienced a very comical flashback, like with mescaline (of which I have had only a little, exactly once)... I have read a delightful essay by Wasson about mushrooms; he divides mankind into
90 mycophobes and mycophiles... Lovely fly agaric s must now be growing in the forest near you. Sometime shouldn't we sample some? W. V. Muri/Bern, 7 September 1971 Dear Mr. Hofmann, ll you what I have done outside in the sun, on the Now I feel I must write briefly to te es about our visit in Villars-sur-Ollons dock under your balloon: I finally wrote some not (with Dr. Leary), then a hippie-bark went by on the lake, self-made like from a Fellini film, which I sketched, and over and above it I drew your balloon. W. V. Burg i.L., 15 April 1972 Dear Mr. Vogt, Your television play "Spiele der Macht" [Games of power] has impressed me extraordinarily. I congratulate you on this magnificent pie ce, which allows mental cruelty to become way as "consciousness- expanding", and can conscious, and therefore also acts in its higher sense, like ancient tragedy. thereby prove itself therapeutic in a A. H. Burg i.L., 19 May 1973 Dear Mr. Vogt, Now I have already read your lay sermon three times, the descrip tion and interpretation of your Sinai Trip. [Walter Vogt: Mein Sinai Trip. Eine Laienpredigt [My Sinai trip: A lay sermon] (Verlag der Arche, Zurich, 1972). Th the text of a lay is publication contains sermon that Walter Vogt gave on 14 November 1971 on the invitation of Parson Christoph Mohl, in the Protesta nt church of Vaduz (Lichten stein), in the course of a series of sermons by writers, and in addition contains an afterword by the author and by the inviting parson. It involves th e description and in terpretation of an ecstatic-religious experience evoked by LSD, that the author is able to "place in a distant, if you will of Moses." It is not only the "patriarchal superficial, analogy to the great Sinai Trip e descriptions, that c onstitutes this analogy; atmosphere" that is to be traced out of thes there are deeper references, which are more to be read between the lines of this text.] Was deed, to choose such a notorious event as a it really an LSD trip?... It was a courageous a lay sermon. But the questions raised by drug experience as the theme of a sermon, even hallucinogenic drugs do actually belong in the church—in a prominent place in the church, for they are sacred drugs (peyotl, teonanacatl, ololiuhqui, with which LSD is mostly closely related by chem ical structure and activity). I can fully agree with what you say in your introduction about the modern ecclesiastical religiosity: the three sancti ousness (the waking oned states of consci condition of uninterrupted work and perfor mance of duty, alcoholic intoxication, and sleep), the distinction between two phases of psychedelic inebriation (the first phase, the peak of the trip, in which the cosmic relati onship is experienced, or the submersion into one's own body, in which everything that is, is within; and the second phase, characterized as the phase of enhanced comp rehension of symbols), and the allusion to the candor that hallucinogens bring about in consciousness states. These are all observations that are of fundamental im portance in the judgment of hallucinogenic inebriation.
91 The most worthwhile spiritual benefit from LSD experiments was the experience of the the physical and spiritual. "Chr ist in matter" (Teilhard de inextricable intertwining of Chardin). Did the insight first come to you also through your drug experiences, that we must descend "into the flesh, which we are," in order to get new prophesies? A criticism of your sermon: you allow the "deepest experience that there is"—"The kingdom of heaven is within you"—to be uttered by Timothy Leary. This sentence, quoted without the indication of its true source, could be inte rpreted as ignorance of one, the principal truth of Christian belief. or rather One of your statements deserves universal recognition: "There is no non-ecstatic religious experience."... Next Monday evening I shall be interv iewed on Swiss television (about LSD and the Mexican magic drugs, on the program "At Firs about the sort of t Hand"). I am curious questions that will be asked... A. H. Muri/Bern, 24 May 1973 Dear Mr. Hofmann, to write about it expl icitly, I really do not Of course it was LSD—only I did not want know just why myself... The great emphasi s I placed on the good Leary, who now seems to me to be somewhat flipped out, as the pr ime witness, can indeed only be explained by the special context of the talk or sermon. I must admit that the perception that we must descend "into the flesh, which we are" actually first came to me with LSD. I still ruminate on it, possibly it even came "too late" for me in fact, although more and more I a dvocate your opinion th at LSD should be taboo for youth (taboo, not forbidden, that is the difference...). The sentence that you like, "there us experience," was is no nonecstatic religio apparently not liked so much by others—for example, by my (almost only) literary friend Marti... But in any case, we are practically never of the and minister-lyric poet Kurt ng, we constitute when we occasionally same opinion about anything, and notwithstandi communicate by phone and arrange little activities t ogether, the smallest minimafia of Switzerland. W. V. Burg i.L., 13 April 1974 Dear Mr. Vogt, Full of suspense, we watched your TV play "Pilate before the Silent Christ" yesterday evening. ... as a representation of the fundame ntal man-God relationship: man, who comes to God with his most difficult questions, which finally he must answer himself, because God is silent. He does not answer them with words. The answers are contained in the book of his creation (to which the questioning man himself belongs). True natural science deciphering of this text. A. H. Muri/Bern, 11 May 1974 Dear Mr. Hofmann, I have composed a "poem" in half twilight, that I dare to send to you. At first I wanted to send it to Leary, but th is would make no sense.
92 Leary in jail Gelpke is dead Treatment in the asylum is this your psychedelic revolution? Had we taken seriously something with which one only ought to play or vice-versa... W. V.
93 10. Various Visitors The diverse aspects, the multi-faceted em anations of LSD are also expressed in the variety of cultural circles with which this s ubstance has brought me into contact. On the scientific plane, this has involved colleag ues-chemists, pharmacologists, physicians, and mycologists—whom I met at univ ersities, congresses, lectures, or with whom I came into association through publication. In the literary-ph ilosophical field there were contacts reported on the relationships of this type with writers. In the preceding chapters I have that were most significant for me. LSD also provided me with a variegated series of personal acquaintances from the drug scene and from hippie circles, which will briefly be described here. Most of these visitors came from the United States and were young people, often in transit to the Far East in search of Eastern wi sdom or of a guru; or else hoping to come by s sometimes the goal, because LSD of good drugs more easily there. Prague also wa there. [Translator's Note: When Sandoz's quality could at the time easily be acquired patents on LSD expired in 1963, the Czech pharmaceutical firm Spofa began to manufacture the drug.] Once arrived in Europe, they wanted to take advantage of the man who made the famous LSD bicycle trip." opportunity to see the father of LSD, "the a visit. There was the desire to report on But more serious concerns sometimes motivated personal LSD experiences and to debate the pur port of their meaning, at the source, so to speak. Only rarely did a visit prove to be in spired by the desire to obtain LSD when a visitor hinted that he or she wished once to experiment with most assuredly pure material, with original LSD. Visitors of various types and with di verse desires also came from Switzerland and become rarer in recent times, which may other European countries. Such encounters have be related to the fact that LSD has become less important in the drug scene. Whenever possible, I have welcomed such visitors or ag reed to meet somewhere. This I considered to be an obligation connected with my role in the history of LSD, and I have tried to help by instructing and advising. Sometimes no true conversation occurr ed, for example with the inhibited young man who arrived on a motorbike. I was not clear about the objective of his vi sit. He stared at me, as if asking himself: can the man who ha s made something so weird as LSD really look so completely ordinary? With him, as w ith other similar visitors, I had the feeling that he hoped, in my presence, the LS D riddle would somehow solve itself. Other meetings were completely di fferent, like the one with the young man from Toronto. He invited me to lunch at an excl usive restaurant—impressive appearance, tall, slender, a businessman, proprie tor of an important industria l firm in Canada, brilliant intellect. He thanked me for the creation of LSD, which had given his life another direction. He had been 100 percent a busin essman, with a purely materialistic world view. LSD had opened his eyes to the spiritua l aspect of life. Now he possessed a sense for art, literature, and philosophy and was deeply concerned with religious and metaphysical questions. He now desired to make the LSD experience accessible in a suitable milieu to his young wife, and hoped fo r a similarly fortunate transformation in
94 her. Not as profound, yet still liberating and rewarding, were the results of LSD me with much humor and fantasy. He experiments which a young Dane described to came from California, where he had been a houseboy for Henry Miller in Big Sur. He ng a dilapidated farm there, which he, a moved on to France with the plan of acquiri skilled carpenter, then wanted to restore hi mself. I asked him to obtain an autograph of his former employer for my collection, and after some time I actually received an original piece of writing from Henry Miller's hand. A young woman sought me out to report on LSD experiences that had been of great pursued all sorts of significance to her inner development. As a s uperficial teenager who entertainments, and quite neglected by her pa rents, she had begun to take LSD out of curiosity and love of adventure. For three y ears she took frequent LSD trips. They led to an astonishing intensificati n to seek after the deeper on of her inner life. She bega meaning of her existence, whic h eventually revealed itself to her. Then, recognizing that LSD had no further power to help her, without difficulty or exertion of will she was able to abandon the drug. Thereafter she was in a position to develop herself further without artificial means. She was now a happy intr insically secure person—thus she concluded her report. This young woman had decided to tell me her history, because she supposed that I was often attacked by narrow-minded persons who saw only the damage that LSD sometimes caused among youths. The immediate motive of her testimony was a conversation that she had accidentally overheard on a railway journey. A man complained about me, finding it disgraceful that I had spoken on the LSD problem in an interview published in the newspaper. In his opinion, I ought to denounce LSD as primarily the devil's work and should pub licly admit my guilt in the matter. Persons in LSD delirium, whose conditi on could have given rise to such indignant condemnation, have never personally come into my sight. Such cases, attributable to LSD ces, to overdosage, or to psychotic consumption under irresponsible circumstan l or at the police st ation. Great publicity predisposition, always landed in the hospita always came their way. A visit by one youn American girl stands out in my memory as an example of the tragic effects of LSD. It was during the lunc h hour, which I normally spent in my office under strict confinement—no visitors, secret ary's office closed up. Knocking came at the door, discretely but firmly repeated, until eventu ally I went to open.it. I scarcely believed my eyes: before me stood a very beautiful young woman, blond, with large blue eyes, wearing a long hippie dress, headband, and sandals. "I am Joan, I come from New York—you are Dr. Hofmann?" Before I inquired what brought her to me, I asked her how she had got through the two checkpoints, at the main entrance to the factory area and at the door of the laboratory building, for visitors were admitted only after telephone query, and this flower child must have been es pecially noticeable. "I am an angel, I can pass everywhere," she replied. Then she expl ained that she came on a great mission. She had to rescue her country, the United States; ab ove all she had to direct the president (at the time L. B. Johnson) onto the correct pa th. This could be accomplished only by having him take LSD. Then he would receive the good ideas that would enable him to lead the country out of war and internal difficulties. Joan had come to me hoping that I woul d help her fulfill her mission, namely to give LSD to the president. Her name would indicat e she was the Joan of Arc of the USA. I
95 don't know whether my arguments, advanced with all consideration of her holy zeal, were no prospects of success on psychological, able to convince her that her plan had sad she went away. Next day technical, internal, and extern al grounds. Disappointed and asked me to help her, since her financial I received a telephone call from Joan. She again resources were exhausted. I took her to a fr iend in Zurich who provided her with work, and with whom she could live. Joan was a teacher by profession, and also a nightclub pianist and singer. For a while she played a nd sang in a fashionable Zurich restaurant. The good bourgeois clients of course had no idea wh at sort of angel sa t at the grand piano entertained them with sensitive playing and a soft and in a black evening dress and sensuous voice. Few paid attention to the word s of her songs; they were for the most part hippie songs, many of them containing veiled praise of drugs. The Zurich performance did not last long; within a few weeks I le at Joan had suddenly arned from my friend th disappeared. He received a greeting card from her three months later, from Israel. She had been committed to a psychiatric hospital there. For the conclusion of my assortment of LSD visitors, I wish to report about a meeting in which LSD figured only indirectly. Miss H. S., head secretary in a hospital, wrote to ask me for a personal interview. She came to t ea. She explained her visit thus: in a report description of a condition she herself had about an LSD experience, she had read the experienced as a young girl, whic possibly I could help her to h still disturbed her today; understand this experience. She had gone on a business trip as a comm ercial apprentice. They spent the night in a mountain hotel. H. S. awoke very early and left the house alone in order to watch the sunrise. As the mountains began to light up in a sea of rays, she was perfused by an unprecedented feeling of happiness, which pers isted even after sh e joined the other morning service in the chapel. During the Mass everything participants of the trip at ural luster, and the feeling of happiness intens ified to such appeared to her in a supernat an extent that she had to cr y loudly. She was brought back to the hotel and treated as someone with a mental disorder. r later personal life. H.S. feared she was not This experience largely determined he completely normal. On the one hand, she feared this experience, which had been explained to her as a nervous breakdown; on the other hand, she longe d for arepetitionof the condition. Internally split, she had led an unstable life. In repeated vocational changes and in varying personal relati onships, consciously or unconsci ously she again sought this ecstatic outlook, which once ma de her so deeply happy. I was able to reassure my visitor. It was no psychopathologi cal event, no nervous breakdown that she had experienced at the tim e. What many people seek to attain with the help of LSD, the visionary experience of a deeper reality, had come to her as spontaneous grace. I recommended a book by Aldous Huxley to her, The Perennial Philosophy llection of reports of spontaneous (Harper, New York & London, 1945) a co blessed visions from all times and cultures. Huxley wrote that not only mystics and saints, but also many more ordinary people than one generally supposes, experience such blessed moments, but that most do not recognize their importa nce and, instead of regarding them as promising rays of hope, repress them, because they do not fit into everyday rationality.
96 11. LSD Experience and Reality Was kann ein Mensch im Leben mehr gewinnen Als dass sich Gott-Natur ihm offenbare? What more can a person gain in life Than that God-Nature reveals himself to him? —Goethe the deepest impression upon me in my LSD I am often asked what has made experiments, and whether I have arrive d at new understandings through these experiences. Valious Realities the insight that I atta Of greatest significance to me has been ined as a fundamental understanding from all of my commonly takes as "the LSD experiments: what one n individual person, by no means signifies reality," including the reality of one's ow something fixed, but rather something that is ambiguous—that there is not only one, but that there are many realities, each comprising also a different consciousness of the ego. One can also arrive at this insight thr ough scientific reflections. The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a cen tral concern of philo sophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experien xperiment was therefore so ce. The first planned LSD e reality and the ego experiencing it, which deeply moving and alarming, because everyday I had until then considered to be the onl y reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations. Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receive r, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, re gistered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank. If one continues with the conception of reality as a product of se nder and receiver, then the entry of another reality under the influence of LSD may be explained by the fact that the brain, the seat of the receiver, becomes bi ochemically altered. The receiver is thereby tuned into another wavelength than that co rresponding to normal, everyday reality. Since the endless variety and diversity of the uni verse correspond to infinitely many different
97 wavelengths, depending on the ad justment of the receiver, many different realities, e ego, can become conscious. Th ese different realities, more including the respectiv the correctly designated as different aspects of reality, are not mutually exclusive but are complementary, and form together a portion of the all-encompassing, timeless, transcendental reality, in which even th e unimpeachable core of self-consciousness, which has the power to record th e different egos, is located. The true importance of LSD and related hallucinogens lies in their capacity to shift the evoke alterations in reality wavelength setting of the rece iving "self," and thereby to consciousness. This ability to allow different, ne w pictures of reality to arise, this truly cosmogonic power, makes the cultish worship of hallucinogenic plants as sacred drugs understandable. What constitutes the essential, character istic difference between everyday reality and tion? Ego and the outer world are separated the world picture experienced in LSD inebria in the normal condition of consciousness, in everyday reality; one stands face-to-face with the outer world; it has become an obj ect. In the LSD stat e the boundaries between the experiencing self and the outer world more or less disappear, depending on the depth of the inebriation. Feedback between receiver and sender ta kes place. A portion of the rld, into objects, which begin self overflows into the outer wo to live, to have another, a deeper meaning. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer worl d and consequently also with its fellow beings. This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the univers e. This condition of cosmic consciousness, which under favorable conditions can be evoked by LSD or by another hallucinogen from the group of Mexican sacr ed drugs, is analogous to spontaneous ca. In both conditions, which often last only religious enlightenment, with the unio mysti is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental for a timeless moment, a reality reality, in vihich universe a nd self, sender and receiver, ar e one. [The relationship of spontaneous to drug-induced enlightenment has been most extensively investigated by R. C. Zaehner, (The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1957).] Mysticism Sacred and Profane Gottfried Benn, in his essay "P rovoziertes Leben" [Provoked life] (in Ausdnckswelt, Limes Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1949), characterized the reality in which self and world are separated, as "the schizoid catastrophe, the Western entelechy neurosis." He further writes: . . . In the southern part of our continent th is concept of reality began to be formed. The Hellenistic-European agonistic principle of victory through effort, cunning, malice, talent, force, and later, European Darwinis m and "superman," was instrumental in its formation. The ego emerged, dominated, fought; fo r this it needed instruments, material, power. It had a different relationship to ma tter, more removed sensually, but closer formally. It analyzed matter, tested, sorted : weapons, object of ex change, ransom money. It clarified matter through isolation, reduced it to formulas, took pieces out of it, divided it up. [Matter became] a concept which hung like a disaster over the West, with which the West fought, without grasping it, to which it sacrified enor mous quantities of blood and happiness; a concept whose inner tension and fragmentations it was impossible to dissolve through a natural viewing or methodical insight into the inherent unity and peace
98 of prelogical forms of being . . . instead th e cataclysmic character of this idea became e, a social organization, a pub lic morality, for which life is clearer and clearer . . . a stat provoked life, cannot economically usable life and which does not recognize the world of stop its destructive force. A society, whose hygiene and race cultivation as a modern ritual is founded solely on hollow biological statistics, can only re present the external viewpoint of the mass; for this point of view it can wage war, incessantly, for reality is simply raw material, but its metaphysical background remains forever obscured. [This excerpt from Benn's essay was taken from Ralph Metzner's translation "Provoked Life: An Essay on the Anthropology of the Ego," which was published in Psychedelic Review 1 (1): 47-54, 1963. Minor corrections in Metzner's text have been made by A. H.] As Gottfried Benn formulates it in thes e sentences, a concept of reality that separates vely determined the evolutionary course of European self and the world has decisi object, to which man stands intellectual history. Experience of the world as matter, as tural science and of the Western opposed, has produced modern na technology—creations mind that have changed the world. With their help human beings have subdued the world. Its wealth has been exploite d in a manner that may be ch aracterized as plundering, and l civilization, the co the sublime accomplishment of technologica mfort of Western industrial society, stands face-to -face with a catastrophic dest ruction of the environment. Even to the heart of matter, to the nucleus of the atom and its splitting, this objective intellect has progressed and has unleashed ener gies that threaten a ll life on our planet. A misuse of knowledge and understandi ng, the products of sear ching intelligence, could not have emerged from a consciousness of reality in which human beings are not as part of living nature and the universe. separated from the environment but rather exist e damage through environmentally protective All attempts today to make amends for th measures must remain only hopeless, superfic ial patchwork, if no curing of the "Western entelechy neurosis" ensues, as Benn has characterized the objective reality conception. Healing would mean existential experience of a deeper, self-encompassing reality. an environment rendered The experience of such a comprehensive reality is impeded in great cities and indus trial districts. Here dead by human hands, such as is present in our the contrast between self and outer world b ecomes especially evident. Sensations of alienation, of loneliness, and of menace aris e. It is these sensations that impress themselves on everyday consciousness in Wester n industrial society; they also take the upper hand everywhere that technological civi lization extends itself, and they largely determine the production of m odern art and literature. xperience arising in a natural environment. In There is less danger of a cleft reality e field and forest, and in the animal world sh eltered therein, indeed in every garden, a at is infinitely more real, olde r, deeper, and more wondrous than reality is perceptible th everything made by people, and that will yet endure, when the inanimate, mechanical, and concrete world again vanishes, becomes rusted and fallen into ruin. In the sprouting, growth, blooming, fruiting, death, and regerminat ion of plants, in their relationship with the sun, whose light they are able to convert into chemically bound energy in the form of organic compounds, out of which a ll that lives on our earth is built; in the being of plants the same mysterious, inexhaustib le, eternal life energy is evident that has also brought us forth and takes us back again into its wom b, and in which we are sheltered and united with all living things.
99 We are not leading up to a sentimental en thusiasm for nature, to "back to nature" in ich sought the idyll in nature, can also be Rousseau's sense. That romantic movement, wh explained by a feeling of humankind's separatio n from nature. What is needed today is a mprehensive reality all living things, a co fundamental reexperience of the oneness of develops spontaneously, the more the consciousness that ever more infrequently primordial flora and fauna of our mother earth must yield to a dead technological environment. Mystery and Myth The notion of reality as the self juxtapos ed to the world, in confrontation with the outer world, began to form itself, as reported in the citation from Benn, in the southern portion ty. No doubt people at that time knew the of the European continent in Greek antiqui t reality consciousness. The Greek genius suffering that was connected with such a clef tried the cure, by supplementing the multiformed and richly colored, sensual as well as deeply sorrowful Apollonian world view crea ted by the subject/object cleavage, with the Dionysian world of experience, in which this cl eavage is abolished in ecstatic inebriation. The Birth of Tragedy: Nietzsche writes in ic potions, of which all primitive peoples and It is either through the influence of narcot races speak in hymns, or through the powerfu l approach of spring, penetrating with joy all of nature, that those Dionys ian stirrings arise, which in their intensification lead the individual to forget himself completel y... Not only does the bond between man and man come to be forged once again by the magic of the Dionysian rite, but alienated, hostile, or brates her reconciliation w subjugated nature again cele ith her prodigal son, man. The Mysteries of Eleusis, which were cele brated annually in the fa ll, over an interval of approximately 2,000 years, from about 1500 B.C. until the fourth century A.D., were intimately connected with the ceremonies and festivals in honor of the god Dionysus. These Mysteries were established by the goddess of agriculture, Demeter, as thanks for the recovery of her daughter Persephone, wh om Hades, the god of the underworld, had abducted. A further thank offering was the ear of grain, which was presented by the two goddesses to Triptolemus, the first high priest of Eleusis. They taught him the cultivation of grain, which Triptolemus then dissem inated over the whole globe. Persephone, however, was not always allowed to remain with her mother, because she had taken der of the highest gods. As punishment she nourishment from Hades, contrary to the or had to return to the underworld for a part of the year. During this time, it was winter on the earth, the plants died and were withdrawn into the ground, to awaken to new life early in the year with Persep hone's journey to earth. The myth of Demeter, Persephone, Hades, and the other gods, which was enacted as a drama, formed, however, only the external fram ework of events. The climax of the yearly ceremonies, which began with a procession from Athens to Eleusis lasting several days, was the concluding ceremony with the ini tiation, which took place in the night. The initiates were forbidden by penalty of death to divulge what they had learned, beheld, in
100 the innermost, holiest ch amber of the temple, the (goal). Not one of the telesterion of Eleusis has ever done this. Pausanias, multitude that were initiated into the secret Plato, many Roman emperors like Hadrian a nd Marcus Aurelius, and many other known itiation. It must have been an illumination, a personages of antiquity were party to this in visionary glimpse of a deeper reality, an insigh t into the true basis of the universe. That can be concluded from the statements of initi ates about the value, about the importance of the vision. Thus it is reported in a Homeri c Hymn: "Blissful is he among men on Earth, who has beheld that! He who has not been ini tiated into the holy Mysteries, who has had no part therein, remains a corpse in gloomy darkness." Pindar speaks of the Eleusinian ter having beheld this enters words: "Blissful is he, who af benediction with the following on the way beneath the Earth. He knows the e nd of life as well as its divinely granted beginning." Cicero, also a famous initiate, likewise put in fi rst position the splendor that fell upon his life from Eleusis, when he said: " Not only have we received the reason there, that we may live in joy, but also, besi des, that we may die with better hope." on of such an obvious occurrence, which runs How could the mythological representati into the earth, dies its course annually before our eyes—the seed grain that is dropped there, in order to allow a new plant, new life, to ascend into the light—prove to be such a deep, comforting experience as that attested by the cited reports? It is traditional furnished with a potion, the kykeon, knowledge that the initiates were for the final ceremony. It is also known that barley ex ingredients of the kykeon. tract and mint were s of mythology, like Karl Ke renyi, from whose book on the Religious scholars and scholar Eleusinian Mysteries (Rhein-Verlag, Zurich, 1962) the preceding statements were taken, and with whom I was associated in relation to the research on this mysterious potion [In the English publication of Kerenyi's book Eleusis (Schocken Books, New York, 1977) a e opinion that the was mixed reference is made to this collaboration.], are of th kykeon with an hallucinogenic drug. [In The Road to Eleusis by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck (Harc ourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1978) the possibility is di kykeon could have acted throu gh an LSD-like preparation scussed that the of ergot.] That would make understandable the ecstatic-visionary experience of the DemeterPersephone myth, as a symbol of the cycle of life and death in both a comprehensive and timeless reality. When the Gothic king Alarich, coming from the north, invaded Greece in 396 A.D. and destroyed the sanctuary of Eleusis, it was not only the end of a religious center, but it also signified the decisive downfall of the ancient world. With the monks that accompanied Alarich, Christianity penetrated in to the country that must be regarded as the cradle of European culture. The cultural-historical meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries, their influence on European intellectual history, can scarcely be overestimated. Here suffering humankind found a cure for its rational, obj ective, cleft in tellect, in a mystical totality experience, that let it believe in immortality, in an everlasting existence. This belief had survived in early Chri stianity, although with other symbols. It is found as a promise, even in particular passages of the Gospels, most clearly in the Gospel according to John, as in Chapter 14: 120. Jesus speaks to his disciples, as he takes leave of them: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
101 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither elleth with you, and shall be in you. knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dw I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. At that day ye shalt know that I am This promise constitutes the heart of my Christian beliefs and my call to natural- scientific research: we will attain to knowle dge of the universe through the spirit of truth, and thereby to understanding of our being one with the deepest, most comprehensive reality, God. nity, determined by the duality of creator and creation, has, Ecclesiastical Christia however, with its nature-alienated religiosity largely obliterated the Eleusinian-Dionysian legacy of antiquity. In the Christian sphere of belief, only special blessed men have attested to a timeless, co in a spontaneous vision, an mforting reality, experienced experience to which in antiquity the elite of innumerable generations had access through unio mystica the initiation at Eleusis. The of Catholic saints and the visions that the representatives of Christ ian mysticism—Jakob Boehme, Meister Eckhart, Angelus Silesius, Thomas Traherne, William Blake, and others—describe in their writings, are nt that the initiates to the Eleusinian obviously essentially related to the enlightenme Mysteries experienced. cal experience, for the recovery of people in The fundamental importance of a mysti Western industrial societies who are sickened by a one-sided, rational, materialistic world view, is today given primary emphasis, not only by adherents to Eastern religious movements like Zen Buddhism, but also by leading representatives of academic psychiatry. Of the appropriate literature, we will here refer only to the books of Balthasar Staehelin, the Basel psychiat rist working in Zurich. [ Haben und Sein (1969), Die Welt als Du (1970), (1973), and Der flnale Mensch (1976); Urvertrauen und zweite Wirklichkeit rlag, Zurich.] They make re all published by Theologischer Ve ference to numerous other authors who deal with the same problem. Today a type of "metamedicine," "metapsychology," and "metapsychiatry" is beginning to call upon the metaphysical as an experience of a deeper, duality- element in people, which manifests itself surmounting reality, and to make this elemen t a basic healing principle in therapeutic practice. In addition, it is most significant that not only medicine but also wider circles of our society consider the overcoming of the dualistic, cleft world vi ew to be a prerequisite and basis for the recovery and spiritual renewal of occidental civiliza tion and culture. This renewal could lead to the renunciation of th e materialistic philosophy of life and the development of a new reality consciousness. As a path to the perception of a deeper, comprehensive reality, in which the experiencing individual is al so sheltered, meditation, in its different forms, occupies a prominent place today. The essential differen ce between meditation and prayer in the usual sense, which is based upon the duality of creatorcreation, is th at meditation aspires to the abolishment of the I- you-barrier by a fusing of object and subject, of sender and receiver, of objective reality and self. Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time. It has replaced the eccles iastical-Christian and mythical-Apollonian
102 world view. But this ever broadening factual know ledge, which constitutes objective reality, need deep enough, it inevitably leads not be a desecration. On the contrary, if it only advances to the inexplicable, primal ground of the universe: the wonder, the mystery of the crocosm of the spiral nebula; in the seeds divine—in the microcosm of the atom, in the ma of plants, in the body and soul of people. e reality, at the farthe st point yet reached by Meditation begins at the limits of objectiv mean rejection of objective rational knowledge and percep tion. Meditation thus does not ons of reality. It is reality; on the contrary, it consists of a penetrat ion to deeper dimensi not escape into an imaginary dream world; rath er it seeks after the comprehensive truth of objective reality, by simultaneous, stereoscopic contemplation of its surfaces and depths. It could become of fundamental importan a transient fashion of ce, and be not merely the present, if more and more people today w ould make a daily habit of devoting an hour, a result of the meditative penetration and or at least a few minutes, to meditation. As ntific world view, a new, d eepened reality consciousness broadening of the natural-scie would have to evolve, which would increas ingly become the property of all humankind. sity, which would not be based on belief in This could become the basis of a new religio on perception through the "spirit of truth." the dogmas of various religions, but rather What is meant here is a perception, a reading and understanding of the text at first hand, "out of the book that God's finger has wr itten" (Paracelsus), out of the creation. The transformation of the objective world view into a deepened and thereby religious reality consciousness can be accomplishe d gradually, by continuing practice of r, as a sudden enlightenment; a visionary meditation. It can also come about, howeve ound, blessed, and meaningful. Such a mystical experience. It is then particularly prof experience may nevertheless "not be indu ced even by decade-long meditation," as Balthasar Staehelin writes. Also, it does not happen to everyone, although the capacity the essence of human spirituality. for mystical experience belongs to Nevertheless, at Eleusis, the mystical vision, the healing, comforting experience, could be arranged in the prescribed place at the appointed time, for all of the multitudes who were initiated into th e holy Mysteries. This could be accounted for by the fact that an hallucinogenic drug came into use; this, as already mentioned, is something that religious scholars believe. The characteristic property of hallu cinogens, to suspend the boundaries between the experiencing self and the outer world in an ecstatic, emotional experience, makes it possible with their help, and after suitable internal and external preparation, as it was accomplished in a perfect way at Eleusis, to evoke a mystical experience according to plan, so to speak. Meditation is a preparation for the same goal that was aspired to and was attained in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Accordingly it seems f easible that in the future, with the help of LSD, the mystical vision, crowning meditati on, could be made accessible to an increasing number of practitione rs of meditation I see the true importance of LSD in the possibitity ofproviding material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the esse nce and working character of LSD as a sacred drug.