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Psychedelic Book Club (December)
December 16, 2022 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm PST
“Saint Peter’s Snow” by Leo Perutz.
A novel published in 1933, which describes the isolation of a hallucinogenic drug from an ergot-type fungus. It remarkably predates the discovery of the hallucinogenic properties of the ergot-derived alkaloid lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) by ten years. It also identifies ergot as the secret psychoactive sacrament of the ancient mysteries forty years before this hypothesis became a matter of academic and scientific investigation. In the novel, a central character plans to use an ergot-derived drug as an agent of popular religious renewal, prefiguring the New Age religious revival initiated by the popular use of LSD. The story involves the mass testing of a hallucinogenic drug on the unsuspecting inhabitants of an isolated village almost twenty years before the Pont St Esprit incident of 1951, which has been ascribed to the CIA’s plans for experimental dosing of unsuspecting civilians with psychoactive drugs. This article investigates how the author could have managed to foresee these future events in such prophetic detail and reveals the sources that were available. In this article, the history of psychoactive drugs is set in the context of the political, scientific, literary, and philosophical culture of the interwar period and shows that the cultural history of psychoactive drugs is enhanced by such context.
- Saint Peter’s Snow
- Pollan, Michael. How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin, 2018. (Audible)
- Pollan, Michael. This is your mind on plants. Penguin, 2022. (Audible)
- Jay, Mike. Mescaline: a global history of the first psychedelic. Yale University Press, 2019. (Audible)
- Hatsis, Thomas. LSD—The Wonder Child: The Golden Age of Psychedelic Research in the 1950s. Simon and Schuster, 2021. (Audible)
- Hofmann, Albert. LSD: my problem child. Oxford University Press, 2013. (Audible)
- Minutaglio, Bill, and Steven L. Davis. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD. Twelve, 2018. (Audible)
- Grey, Allyson. Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing. Simon and Schuster, 2019. (Audible)
- Jarnow, Jesse. Heads: A biography of psychedelic America. Hachette UK, 2016. (Audible)
- McKenna, Terence. True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradis. Harper Collins, 1994. (Audible)
- Davis, Erik. High weirdness: Drugs, esoterica, and visionary experience in the seventies. MIT Press, 2019. (Audible)
- Hatsis, Thomas. The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic. Simon and Schuster, 2015. (Audible)
- Holland, Julie. Good chemistry: the science of connection, from soul to psychedelics. HarperCollins, 2020 (Audible)
- Muraresku, Brian C. The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name. St. Martin’s Press, 2020. (Audible)
- Leary, Timothy, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner. The psychedelic experience: A manual based on the Tibetan book of the dead. Citadel, 2022. (Audible)
- Shulgin, Alexander Theodore, and Ann Shulgin. PIHKAL: a chemical love story. Berkeley: Transform Press, 1995. (Audible)