April is an amazing month. Not only is it the first full month of spring, it contains a few high holidays for the counterculture. While 4/20 gets much of the love, we can’t forget about 4/19 – better known as Bicycle Day. Yes, while the 20th is all about the sticky-icky herb, the 19th is dedicated to the trippy-hippie drug of choice, LSD.
A Breakthrough to the Other Side
Lysergic acid diethylamide was accidentally discovered by Albert Hofmann in 1938 while studying the fungus ergot for possible pharmaceuticals. The project was set aside for five years, until Hofmann decided to take a second look at the substance. While re-synthesizing the drug, he mistakenly absorbed a bit through his fingertips. He left work feeling a little bit different.
“At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away.”
Two days later, Hofmann decided to take the first intentional acid trip on April 19, 1943. Little did he know that this solo experiment would unleash a cultural force. Hofmann dropped 250 micrograms of the substance. An amount that Erowid classifies as a “heavy” dose.
Just an hour later, Hofmann was feeling uneasy. The effects hit him suddenly, which forced him to ask his lab assistant to escort him home (although even asking was a struggle). Fortunately, Hofmann didn’t and couldn’t drive due to wartime foul restrictions. Instead, the two made the journey by bicycle.
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and sound, and I was just barely capable of asking my companion to summon our family doctor and request milk from the neighbors.In spite of my delirious, bewildered condition, I had brief periods of clear and effective thinking — and chose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning,” he writes.
The family doctor examined Hofmann and could detect no physical ailments beyond dilated pupils. This was something a relief to Hofmann who thought that he may have been poisoned by the LSD and that his next door neighbor was a witch.
“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?”
The anxiety and craziness eventually subsided, and Hofmann was left in awe of his discovery.
“Slowly I came back from a weird, unfamiliar world to reassuring everyday reality. The horror softened and gave way to a feeling of good fortune and gratitude, the more normal perceptions and thoughts returned, and I became more confident that the danger of insanity was conclusively past.”
He thought the drug could be used for psychological therapies (a “medicine for the soul”) and admits he never thought anyone would want to try the drug recreationally. Perhaps this is why he labeled acid “my problem child.”
This moniker seems apt not only for the drug, but the culture it inspired. LSD fueled the rebellious spirit of the 1960s and continues to expand minds and free wanton spirits.
Hofmann never walked back his support for the drug. In 2006 – two years before his death – he spoke at a symposium commending his 100th birthday.
“LSD wanted to tell me something. … It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation… When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don't turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist.I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD … It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.”
So, in honor of 75 anniversary of Bicycle Day, Kusheen Magazine has created the perfect playlist for your achem, extracurricular activities. Check out these tunes to expand your mind and reach deep into your superconsciousness. Enjoy responsibly!
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PS: Check out Dancesafe for test kits!