“You own your own creation!”

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When Marilyn heard I was going back to Oakland to visit my family, she suggested I go for a reading at the Berkley Psychic Institute. In 1987 I was read by two young people in their twenties. There was a man in the back doing a chart. A young woman sitting ten feet in front of me began my reading by saying this;

“You own your own creation. You died!”

The room filled with a light, and after a long silence, the guide said;

“Are we in heaven? Is this proof there is a heaven?”

I looked at the readers, and the smiling guide. I had this vision of us being infants in our crib, we in a glowing light as we look at one another in a knowing way. We were so – new!

Suddenly, we heard someone rushing upstairs. She burst into the room and said;

“You can’t stay in this place. You have to move on!”

She looked alarmed. We wanted her to go away. When I closed my eyes, the guide said;

“Don’t close your eyes!”

In 1966 Tim Scully hooked me up to his Bio-Feedback machine while I was on a dose of his LSD. In a couple of months I would meet the man behind Owsley and Scully. He procured the raw materials for making LSD. He was a child genius. He became my art patron. He bought me all the art supplies I wanted. His brother delivered LSD to hippies in England, including the Beatles.

When I was living with Nancy and Carol on Pine Street, I met Stanley Augustus Owsley. He became Nancy’s lover. We tried conversing, but he was very into himself. He sensed I might be as powerful as himself. When he took a kick at Tadger, Nancy’s little dog, I almost clocked him.

“You’re a little shit, aren’t you! What is your problem?”

“I hate dogs! I’m a cat person.”

I watched him go into Nancy’s bedroom to get some pussy. Sometimes he would stay the night. I recall Carol and I sniggering as we lie in bed listening to their loud love-making, we understanding this was, historic.

This morning I looked at photographs of the Jefferson Airplane to see if I could identify the two members we used to party with on Pine street. There were two Swedish Airline Stewardesses down the hall they were fucking. We traded drugs. We had the best LSD.

One evening I see these Airplane guys hanging out Nancy’s bedroom window. I asked them what is going on. They turn their faces to me, and their eyes are black saucers!

“Look! We just caused an accident with out minds!” says one.

“We wondered if we could move matter while on LSD!” says the other.

After taking them in, and looking at the chaos and pain down below, I said;

“You two are crazy!”

I believe one was Paul Kanter, and the other Bob Harvey, who might have been let go by the band, because he was into black magic with LSD. He was not alone. There were some very magical people, then, there were those who would do anything to own personal power.  Last night I read once more the account of Owsley’s freak-out.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2015

Running out a side door during his freakout, Owsley leaped into his car, gunned the engine and promptly ran into a ditch. When he finally returned to his physical body and found it mostly intact, Owsley was horrified by the way Kesey and the Pranksters were messing with people’s minds. “Kesey was playing with something he did not understand,” Owsley says. “I said to him, ‘You guys are fucking around with something that people have known about forever. It’s sometimes called witchcraft, and it’s extremely dangerous. You’re dealing with part of the unconscious mind that they used to define as angels and devils. You have to be very careful, because there are all these warnings. All the occult literature about ceremonial magic warns about being very careful when you start exploring these areas in the mind.’ And they laughed at me.”…


  During the years when I was making LSD, I was very concerned with the likelihood that the authorities would make raw materials completely impossible to obtain at some point. I felt that we were in a race with time to garner enough raw material to make enough acid to turn on the world before it became impossible. I think others shared this view and labs scaled up as rapidly as raw materials and resources permitted.

— At the time, we fantasized about various free distribution methods. One unrealized fantasy was to buy one of those postcard advertising inserts for a mass-market magazine such as LIFE and, after publication, tell everyone that there was a dose of LSD hidden on each postcard. But we never had the wherewithall to make that happen.

Out of curiosity, I’d also like to know how long you stayed on The Merry Pranksters’ Bus ? According to Acid Dreams you helped them install the sound equipment, is this right?
— I designed and built sound equipment for the Dead, lived with them and worked as a roadie for about the first 6 or 7 months of 1966. Then when the Point Richmond lab started up, the Dead wanted Bear and I to move out, so we did.



A correspondence with Tim Scully

In 1966, Tim Scully lived with and built sound equipment for the Grateful Dead. He is also known as the sidekick of Owsley “Bear” Stanley, perhaps the most well-known manufacturer of LSD in the 1960s. The two set up a lab in Point Richmond, California, and started making acid together. Scully and Owsley parted company at the end of 1967 when Owsley was arrested. Scully set up his own lab and during this time he was briefly associated with The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, an organisation that was using LSD as a religious sacrament and distributed Scully’s acid. A year later he set up a third lab with Nick Sand, another chemist making psychedelics. Scully’s persona as one of the major acid manufacturers of the hippie era finally caught up with him, and he spent several years in prison in the 1970s.

In 2003, I got in touch with Tim Scully. Back then, I was making research on The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and my main reason for getting in touch with Scully was to learn more of his days with the organization. We corresponded by e-mail. The the text below is an edited version of these messages.

Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain’s Acid Dreams tells us their story of The Brotherhood, and also frequently mention you. The book gives the impression that you once were a very devoted man, with a firm belief in the inherent spiritual qualities of acid.
— I can’t speak for everyone. Although when we took LSD we felt that we all understood each other and agreed on some deep level, I now think that feeling was sometimes an illusion.

— When I took LSD, the experience was so magical that I wanted to share it with everyone and make it available to everyone who wanted it. I believed that this would make the world a better place, at a time when it was very troubled, e.g. the war in Vietnam . I believed that others would have experiences similar to those I had, if they tried LSD, and I believed that such an experience would make people gentler, more caring, more conscious and at one with the universe. I thought of LSD as an entheogen , though that term was not in use at the time. I also believed that this is what the Brotherhood [of Eternal Love] members believed.

— Now, in hindsight, it appears that LSD doesn’t carry a specific message with it. I like the model presented in Acid Dreams, that LSD is an amplifier. Given the proper set and setting it can be a powerful entheogen. But with different set and setting it can be an interrogation aid for the CIA or a party drug or any number of other things. So I think a good cultural context is needed for entheogens to function, such as in Huxley’s Island or as in primitive cultures.

— I have also learned that although many idealists were drawn to make and distribute LSD, that this scene was and is also a magnet for con artists. I think Ron Stark probably was a world class example. I’m currently skeptical of the theory that he was a CIA agent, by the way.

— I only had close contacts with a few brothers during the time I was making acid, for security reasons. And the years I was making acid were from 1966-1970, with only the period from late 1968-mid 1970 overlapping with the Brotherhood. My main contacts were with John Griggs, Mike Randell and Ed May. I believe they were all sincere in sharing my beliefs. Of the three, only Mike Randell is still alive now. Since then, I have seen the testimony of several former brothers who became informers. I have read of the alleged involvement of some Brothers in dealing hard drugs. I don’t have any personal knowledge of the accuracy of this last allegation. I was always of the opinion that forcing entheogens into the same channels as other drugs would corrupt some people, and that certainly happened to some people. It is too bad we weren’t able to give them away.

— I have met many people who took LSD. The vast majority believe they benefited from the experience. A few obviously did not and I feel bad about them. I think a higher percentage of the people who made or sold LSD were harmed by doing so.

— With regard to the accuracy of Tendler and May’s book [The Brotherhood of Eternal Love], in many areas I am impressed with the research they did. I hope the Tendler and May book was inaccurate in saying that in later years the Brothers lost their idealism. Since I wasn’t in touch with them, I don’t know.

You say that you only were in close contact with three of the Brothers. I understand your position as a major acid chemist was unique and that the security you mentioned was of great importance, but did you see yourself as a “Brother” or just somebody helping them doing a righteous thing?
— Many people shared the goal of turning on the world in the ’60s. There wasn’t nearly as formal an organization as the government seemed to believe. Nick [Sand] and I cooperated in obtaining raw materials, for example, but were in many ways working completely independently. Nick, Bear and I all got some help from Billy Hitchcock, but again, this was a very loose arrangement and not at all the kind of organization that most folks imagine. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as a community of common interests or a network.

— I don’t have a clear sense of how formal the Brotherhood was, but I suspect that it also was pretty informal, with various “members” doing their own thing but sharing resources. They made me an honorary member, giving me a necklace with a symbol which the members would recognize. But it was an extremely loose association.

The psychedelic counterculture of today is now an underground phenomena and probably very different from what it was in the Sixties. It is more likely that people pick up a book by Terence McKenna rather than reading Timothy Leary’s manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. McKenna made a big impact in the 1990s, but instead of LSD opting for the use of Psilocybin mushrooms and also DMT, saying LSD simply isn’t very spiritual in nature. McKenna’s view on acid as less spiritual seems to have become somewhat established.

Could this shift in attitude possibly have anything to do with the degradation in the quality of acid? There are recent reports showing that the LSD of today is much weaker and also of inferior quality, while your Orange Sunshine was said to be even purer than that of the Sandoz laboratories.
— Yes, Bear and I both made every effort to make the purest possible LSD. We aimed to get 3600 doses per gram of pure crystalline LSD. We always dispersed it on tribasic calcium phosphate which was thereafter diluted with lactose. In the earliest period, Bear put the resulting mixture in #5 geletin capsules. Later we switched to tablets, either tablet triturates or compression molded, depending on the equipment we had available. The tribasic calcium phosphate had a strong affinity for the LSD and kept it evenly distributed throughout the tablet or capsule. This protected the labile LSD from decomposition due to exposure to UV light, extreme Ph, etc. Tablets were harder to counterfit or adulterate.

— There was one small batch of acid which Bear combined with 1mg of STP as an experiment. He concluded that STP was a bad idea and reverted to pure LSD.

— I gather from reading on the web that modern acid is usually distributed on blotters, a cheap but very bad distribution method since it leaves the acid vulnerable to rapid decomposition, and that a typical dose is not 50 micrograms. I don’t have much information yet on the purity of present-day street acid, though I’m looking for published reports.

He dropped out after a semester, took a technical job at KGO-TV, and began producing LSD in a small lab located in the bathroom of a house near campus. His makeshift laboratory was raided by police on February 21, 1965. He beat the charges and successfully sued for the return of his equipment. The police were looking for methamphetamine but found only LSD, which was not illegal at the time.

Stanley moved to Los Angeles to pursue the production of LSD. He used his Berkeley lab to buy 500 grams of lysergic acid monohydrate, the basis for LSD. His first shipment arrived on March 30, 1965. He produced 300,000 hits (270 micrograms each) of LSD by May 1965 and then returned to the Bay Area.

In September 1965, Stanley became the primary LSD supplier to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. By this time, Sandoz LSD was hard to come by, and “Owsley Acid” had become the new standard. He was featured (most prominently his freak-out at the Muir Beach Acid Test in November 1965) in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a book detailing the history of Kesey and the Merry Pranksters by Tom Wolfe. Stanley attended the Watts Acid Test on February 12, 1966, with his new apprentice Tim Scully, and provided the LSD.

Stanley also provided LSD to the Beatles during filming of Magical Mystery Tour.[10

Stanley and Scully built electronic equipment for the Grateful Dead until late spring 1966. At this point, Stanley rented a house in Point Richmond, California. He, Scully, and Melissa Cargill (Stanley’s girlfriend and a skilled chemist, introduced to Stanley by Susan Cowper, a former girlfriend) set up a lab in the basement. The Point Richmond lab turned out more than 300,000 tabs (270 micrograms each) of LSD dubbed “White Lightning”. LSD became illegal in California on October 6, 1966. Scully therefore decided to set up a new lab in Denver, Colorado. The new lab was set up in the basement of a house across the street from the Denver Zoo in early 1967. Scully made the LSD in the Denver lab while Stanley tableted the product in Orinda, California. Here, the psychedelic DOM, better known under its street name STP, was also produced.




About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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