Journeying the Sixties: A Counterculture Tarot     index     <prev     next>


"And I am the last millionth infinite tentacle of
the spiderweb, a worrier
lost, separated, a worm, a thought, a self . . .
I Allen Ginsberg a separate consciousness
I who want to be God . . .

--Allen Ginsberg "Lysergic Acid" 1959

The Magician brings the tricks. Like The Fool he finds comfort in the essential ambiguity and disorderliness of living. But he wants something to come of it. He is inspired to forge a transubstantiation of the most ordinary things into objects or experiences of delight and wonder.

Dr. Timothy Leary was the magician who provided the Fool boomers their first Counterculture gift: delysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a drug that offered a primary experience outside the self, masked as a thrill but with the presumed power to germinate spiritual individuation and ecstatic comprehensions. Leary's optimistic confidence in LSD was contagious and the "acid" he promoted easily available. And as it spread quickly, it became-along with other psychedelic drugs like marijuana, peyote and magic mushrooms-a required passage into the culture, not just a transcending magical madness but the measure of awareness, the test of conscious presence. The passage from "before" to "after" was unmistakably apparent. Had you been "high," you knew the magician's secret and, if not, you did not. The psychedelic sacrament promised to weave out of each individual psyche a penetrating new awareness of its constituent capacities and place in the universe. It created a common experience affirming the inner journey as the legitimate alternative to living an ordinary life. It influenced art and music and gave rise to a "psychedelic" look and sound that was, like the experience proffered by Leary, distinct and palpable.