HOFMANN’S ELIXIR: LSD and the New Eleusis


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Talks and essays by Albert Hofmann and others

b. 11 January 1906 – d. 29 April 2008

Published by The Beckley Foundation, 11 November 2010 at £14.99

No other human discovery has so precisely delineated the crossover between matter and spirit as the LSD created by Albert Hofmann. A few millionths of a gramme suffice fully to alter human perception of reality, matter, and the world; few substances have so powerfully influenced culture, society, spirit and science.

Published here for the first time is the last interview Hofmann gave, aged 100, before he died, aged 102.

It is published, together with a series of Hofmann’s talks and essays on his life and work, translated here for the first time into English. Hofmann worked with and befriended many of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. These essays provide a record and a recollection of his experiments, and conversations with writers such as Ernst Jünger and Aldous Huxley, which explore a direct experience of human consciousness and its implications for theories of perception.

These are followed by original essays written for this book, by friends and colleagues, illuminating the scientific, cultural and personal contexts of this astonishing chemical breakthrough.

In his talks and essays Hofmann illuminates the story of his chance synthesis of LSD in 1938, and the centuries-long history of medicinal, pyschotherapeutic, creative and spiritual use of similar substances worldwide. It recounts personal records of the experience of taking LSD, and, most importantly for Hofmann, the nature of the perceptual shift it offers.

HOFMANN’S ELIXIR examines key issues and ideas which are still powerful today, such as how do we explore the true nature of reality?  Having cogently argued the likely chemical relatedness of LSD and the sacrament at the heart of the Eleusian mysteries of Ancient Greece, he goes on to argue for its re-introduction and controlled use in therapeutic and neuroscientific research. And, of key spiritual importance to Hofmann, he invites us to consider what part intelligent use of LSD can play in the art of living fully and dying well.

Albert Hofmann was a founding member of the Beckley Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. This book, which he saw shortly before his death and warmly approved of, is dedicated to his memory.

HOFFMANN’S ELIXIR, ISBN 780954 805494.

Media Contact: Annabel Huxley PR; Tel: 020 7586 0932 Mob: 07828 130 664



1. Hofmann first synthesised LSD in 1938 while worked as a chemist at the Pharmaceutical-Chemical Research Labs of Sandoz AG in Basel. He was investigating the remedial properties of ergot-alkaloid derivatives, used for centuries by midwives, and in obstetrics, therapeutics and geriatrics, hoping to obtain a circulatory stimulant. However, as the work elicited no response in animals, further tests were discontinued. On a hunch, Hofmann resynthesised LSD-25 in 1943, and by chance absorbed a small amount through the skin on his finger. It prompted an experience which reminded him of the mystical experiences of his youth.. The discovery of the powerful psychoactive effects of miniscule doses of LSD became an overnight sensation in the world of science, and started what has been called a ‘golden era of psycho-pharmacology’.

2. BECKLEY FOUNDATION: Amanda Feilding, who edited and contributed to the book, established the Beckley Foundation in 1998 which initiates and directs neuroscientific research into consciousness and its altered states, and also works to bring a rational perspective to global drug policy by hosting high-level seminars and publishing academic reports.


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