Today might be Good Friday, but it’s also Bicycle Day – the celebration of the first deliberate acid trip.
On 19 April 1943, intrigued by ‘a peculiar presentiment’ and ‘excercising extreme caution’, chemist Albert Hofmann ingested 0.25 mg of lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate – ‘the smallest quantity that could be expected to produce some effect’. Or so he thought.
Hofmann recorded the details of his experiment in that day’s lab journal:
4/19/43 16:20: 0.5 cc of 1/2 promil aqueous solution of diethylamide tartrate orally = 0.25 mg tartrate. Taken diluted with about 10 cc water. Tasteless. 17:00: Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh. Supplement of 4/21: Home by bicycle.
What followed was a remarkable descent into horror and beauty, confronting demons and angels, and finally an experience of death and rebirth. 0.25mg of LSD, it turned out, was a pretty big dose.
The next day, Hofmann writes:
A sensation of well-being and renewed life flowed through me. Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the sun shone now after a spring rain, everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created.
For more about the discovery of this remarkable compound, read Hofmann’s autobiography, LSD – My Problem Child, available online, for free. The story of his first self-experiment begins on page 11.
Happy Bicycle Day!