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Vale Albert Hofmann.

LSD wanted to tell me something. It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation.

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Incredibly sad news today, with the passing of Albert Hofmann, “the father of LSD”, aged 102. Unconfirmed reports had been swirling for a few hours, but MAPS have just posted official confirmation on their website:

Albert Hofmann, the father of LSD, passed away at 9AM CEST on Tuesday April 29, 2008 at his home in Basel, Switzerland. Cause of death was a heart attack; two caretakers were there with him at the time. MAPS President Rick Doblin said, “[Albert and I] spoke on the phone the day after the Basel conference and he was happy and fulfilled. He’d seen the renewal of LSD psychotherapy research with his own eyes, as had [his wife] Anita. I said that I looked forward to discussing the results of the study with him in about a year and a half and he laughed and said he’d try to help the research however he could, either from this side or “the other side”.

Hofmann’s shadow looms large over the 20th century, with his synthesis of the psychedelic compound Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) not only inspiring the counter-culture of the 1960s, but also breakthroughs and cutting edge creations by scientists, technology pioneers, musicians and artists: DNA researchers Francis Crick and Kary Mullis are said to have been inspired by their encounters with the compound, Apple pioneer Steve Jobs once described taking LSD as “one of the two or three most important things” he ever did, musicians from the Beatles onwards were heavily affected by the new vistas of creativity they experienced under the influence of the drug, and Alex Grey (among many others) brought the psychedelic realms to life after being inspired by Hofmann’s “problem child”. Stop to really think about the events that followed from Hofmann’s “peculiar presentiment” and infamous bicycle ride, and you soon realise what an impact the man made upon human history.

Beyond discovering a strange compound and setting historic wheels in motion though, Hofmann was – quite simply – a gentleman. A quiet, inspired, creative and intelligent man, Albert Hofmann was held in high regard by all that met him and spoke with wisdom on the use and abuse of entheogenic compounds. He always maintained that LSD, and other psychedelic compounds, could be powerful allies if used correctly, despairing at the indiscriminate usage of the drug simply for ‘fun’. You can read his book LSD: My Problem Child online, which offers some excellent insights into the history of his discovery, and his thoughts on how LSD should be utilised.

In addition to his discovery of LSD, he was also the first to synthesize psilocybin, and also researched numerous other aspects of humanity’s deep historical involvement with psychedelics, from speculation on their use in the ancient mysteries at Eleusis, through to investigation of Salvia divinorum and Ololiuqui in the Americas. Hofmann was also credited with other important medicinal discoveries throughout his career.

A giant of history; a gentleman. Let’s hope that he’s continuing his exploration of those realms still.