Father of Psychedelic Culture: Albert Hofmann at 101

“Throughout history people have used mind-expanding substances to explore consciousness and enhance their lives. Our purpose at the Albert Hofmann Foundation is to gather the records of these endeavors and to further the understanding and responsible application of psychedelic substances in the investigation of both individual and collective consciousness.” — Mission statement from the Albert Hofmann Foundation

Psychedelic culture began in 1943 with the discovery of LSD-25 by Dr. Albert Hofmann. A seminar in Basel, Switzerland celebrating this discovery was held in January 2006 to mark Dr. Hofmann’s 100th birthday. The following is a small excerpt from Rak Razam’s paper Tripping the Light Fantastic:

Dr Hofmann walks slowly on crutches into the cavernous “San Francisco” seminar room to thunderous applause from the thousands of “psychonauts” that his chemical has spawned.He carries an air of quiet dignity about him as he takes to the stage, guided by colleagues and overseen by a Swiss guard. He looks incredibly ancient, like Mr Burns come to life, sans the malice. The body is frail but his mind is preternaturally sharp. There’s an energy and vitality in his eyes, a hint of the mystic, the alchemist that turned on the world.

“A chemist who is not a mystic is not a real chemist,” he says with a smile, alluding to the idea that science must look within, as much as without, for answers. He has, he admits, taken LSD in his old age, in very minute, sub-psychedelic doses. It was originally intended as a circulatory agent, and maybe that, along with the heightened sense of oneness with nature it can bring, has kept him young. Or maybe it’s just the Swiss air.

The symposium is awash with psychedelic folklore as new heads meet old heads and trade stories about their underground mythology. They are like neurons bonding in a collective brain, transmitting the idea of themselves to the world.


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