Albert Hofmann is a bit like Neil Armstrong. He wasn’t the first in psychedelic space, but he did take the most iconic step. The chemist synthesised LSD and was the very first person to take an acid trip. How did he think about tripping?
Today it’s exactly nine years ago since he left this earth, a good moment to commemorate.
A little boy in the mountains
The road to LSD was not an easy one for Albert Hofmann. He was born in Baden, Swiss, in 1906 as son of a craftsman. Not the type of family that gave birth to scientists, back in the day.
His parents were both religious, as was common in those days. His dad was roman catholic, his mum protestant. The young Albert, around the age of 8 started to question it.
“I said that I didn’t believe, but that there must be a God because there is the world and someone made the world,” he said. “I had this very deep connection with nature.”
He played a lot outdoors in the hills around Baden and on the ruins of the Habsburg castle Stein. During this awesome youth he had an experience he later recalled as his first psychedelic moment.
“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,” he wrote in ‘LSD: My Problem Child’.
“As I strolled through the freshly greened woods filled with bird song and lit up by the morning sun, all at once everything appeared in an uncommonly clear light. It shone with the most beautiful radiance, speaking to the heart, as though it wanted to encompass me in its majesty. I was filled with an indescribable sensation of joy, oneness and blissful security.”
He followed his passion and studied chemistry in order to investigate nature on its most elementary level. This led him to the Basel laboratory where he created LSD. (This story you can read in our article on bicycle day.)
Tripping for a more sustainable world
Albert described LSD as a powerful psychotropic drug. Far from harmless, respect was definitely required. But apparently worth the risk, as he didn’t confine himself to one journey: Albert went for hundreds of acid explorations.
He also travelled to Mexico to join shamanic ceremonies. Furthermore, he succeeded in synthesising the active ingredients of Mexicana mushrooms and morning glory seeds, the latter one actually very similar to LSD.
Ahead of its time, he proved himself an advocate of sustainability. According to him LSD was a substance that could get human being closer to nature, and could make use more aware of our impact on the environment, in order to avert our way into self-destruction.
“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” Dr. Hofmann told the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof during an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”
Wrtitten by: Steek