Lysergic World #1 – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the First LSD Trip in 1993 (“White humans?!”)

Between April 16 – 19, 1993, communities in three distant locales (San Francisco, Basel, and Tokyo) coordinated a series of events intended to celebrate the semicentennial (or 50th anniversary) of the discovery of the psychoactive effects of LSD by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in his lab at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel (there was also a large event at Hyde Park, London and probably elsewhere–if you know of celebrations elsewhere in 1993, please do leave a comment). Although the event was organized around that moment of discovery that led to Hofmann’s famous ‘altered’ bike ride home, it was, of course, more importantly, the chain of history that followed in the wake of Hofmann’s discovery–the potent effects of the chemical on the minds of others the world over–that was really being commemorated. Had his unintended experiment been a one-off event that never moved beyond Basel and the confines of his own mind, we would not be paying attention. But, as an origin story, it’s a fairly compelling one–everyone can get into a bike ride, and people like to imagine themselves in his, unexpectedly stoned, shoes. Indeed, for the Basel celebration, a select 25 lottery winners actually got to participate in a bike ride along the exact route (see image below) that Hofmann is supposed to have taken on that fateful April day in 1943. In commemoration of the worldwide coordination of events, a newspaper called Lysergic World was created.

IMG_0664

The newspaper contained a variety of LSD-related features for its readers, including a world map of locations of important events in the life of LSD (created, in part, by Kat Harrison), an essay by Madonna about a “24-hour orgasm under LSD,” a list of slang terms, a horoscope for the birth of LSD, a cartoon history, and bios of important figures:

Lysergic World also included a list of recommended music with the list topped off by Terence McKenna’s Re-Evolution track with The Shamen:

And, in a section documenting a variety of views on LSD, Terence McKenna is quoted:

IMG_0698

Terence also appeared at some of the events that took place in the Bay Area over the weekend. There was also a video message from Dr. Hofmann who was in Basel:

There’s a part of the newspaper, however, that I am a bit at a loss to explain and hope that somebody can account for. I would very much like to know exactly what it means that an anthropomorphized LSD molecule welcoming readers to the publication says “I’m very happy that you white humans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of your ‘discovering me” [emphasis mine]. How are we supposed to interpret that? Where did it come from? If a typo, it’s a rather odd one….if a purposeful entry, it’s something that needs some explaining!

 

IMG_0745[1]

ReVISIONing the Archaic Revival (1987-1989)

Terence made three contributions to a publication called ReVISION: The Journal of Consciousness and Change in the mid-80s. During the time that his pieces appeared, the executive editors of the journal were Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, and Huston Smith, each among the pioneers of American psychedelia. Terence’s appearances in ReVISION would have been an important outlet for his work to certain important segments of the counterculture at this formative stage in his career. In Vol. 10 No. 1 (Summer 1987), an essay called ‘Temporal Resonance’, written by our own TM, appeared next to other articles by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham (his co-conspirators for a popular series of trialogues that took place as workshops at the Esalen institute, some of which were later edited and published as books), Ralph Metzner, and physicist Nick Herbert.

In Vol. 10 No. 4 (Spring 1988), in an issue whose cover bears Kat Harrison’s now iconic drawing of the ‘bee-faced mushroom shaman’ from Tassili-n-Ajjer, another essay by our protagonist appeared with the title ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Evolution’ alongside other essays by Albert Hofmann, Robert Forte, and, again, Ralph Metzner. At the end of the issue, there is also an advertisement for the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference, whose theme for the year was ‘The Transpersonal Vision: Past, Present, and Future’, which lists “Terrence McKenna” [sic] as a speaker.

Finally, in Vol. 11 No. 3, (Winter 1989), in a discussion (roughly) on the subject of UFOs, Terence talks with an unnamed interlocutor in an interviewed dubbed ‘A Conversation over Saucers’. And, following up on the previous advertisement, a new ad for the recordings from the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference appeared in this issue, including Terence’s talk called ‘Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants’.

All three of these ReVISION pieces were eventually republished under the same names in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival (except the word ‘Hallucinogenic’ was removed from the title of the second piece to render: ‘Mushrooms and History’). Here, the previously unnamed interviewer was finally identified as Will Noffke, radio host and owner of the Shared Visions bookstore in San Francisco which had a history of hosting Terence for talks and book signings.

(Note of interest: my own bound set of ReVision volumes came to me from the library of the Association for Research & Enlightenment, or A.R.E., in Virginia Beach, which was founded by Edgar Cayce to support his research and whose legacy is carried on there by his family. They were selling off some of the items from their library, so I purchased their set of bound ReVISION volumes).