LSD Symposion - Albert Hofmann’s 100th Birthday

a review

Date: Jan 19, 2006
Views: 4668

Date: Jan 19, 2006

LSD Symposion / Albert Hofmann’s 100th Birthday

Last weekend about 2000 guests from all around the world celebrated Albert Hofmann’s 100th Birthday and met for a weekend of psychedelic knowledge, talks and culture. They met for maybe the biggest convention that ever happened to discuss psychedelic culture!

I was walking through the ice-cold town of Basel, Switzerland and arrived to the congress center that was decorated with a big illuminated Sign saying “LSD-Symposion” - a nice view right in the middle of a swiss city. On the other side of the street a small group of people demonstrated against the event, against LSD - “Strange” I thought, normally WE are the demonstrants! But Basel seems to be the right city for an event like this. Just recently the swiss border town had 80 coffee-shops (grass-shops) - more than bakeries! But this is the past as France and Germany were using their political power to close them down.

The congress center is highly official, just the visitors are not. Freaks, scientists and other psychedelic professionals are filling up the place. For three days the creme-de-la-creme of psychedelic etnologists, scientists, lawyers and others are holding lectures in about six rooms simultaneously. The subjects are wide spread and often it’s hard to decide whom to listen to. May it be Alex and Ann Shulgin who are talking about how they made their 4000 drug tests and created 200 new drugs. Or Alex Grey talking about the effect of LSD on psychedelic art. Or Hans Custo refering to techno and drugs and beeing high in general. And last but not least Albert Hofmann himself: Dressed properly and giving us some of his visions and philosophies. An amazing appearance for a 100 year old man. However on the question if he got 100 by talking LSD he’s moving to another subject and a friend says: “It’s because he’s eating two raw eggs every day!”.

On Saturday night the congress hall morphes to a concert hall. First of all Akasha Project from Braunschweig, Germany is transforming the molecular structure of LSD to music. After this Start Sounds Orchestra are interpreting the birthday of LSD (April 19, 1943) musically. They are starting with spheres of sound but when the beat jumps in one after another of the sitting guests are standing up and starting a wild shamanistic party right in the congress room. I wouldn’t be suprised if many of these were actually on LSD (a later poll by video-artist Omananda evaluated that 80% of the visitors already took LSD in their life). The room gets more and more wild although the bar is closed and smoking prohibited. The evening ends with the psychedelic rock legend Guru Guru from the 60’s/70’s. All grandpa’s but still highly psychedelic!

It’s three days of psychedelic spirit, a unification of psychedelic protagonists worldwide to clap each other on the shoulder and resume what have been acchieved (or what not). But the more lectures I visit the more I feel jumping back in time to the 60’s/70’s. There’s so many stories of what has been cool back then and how the first steps were done. Revolution! But 30 years ago... The 80’s, 90’s and today barely seems to exist. Has the movement lost it’s energy? In a podium discussion about “Ways to modern drug politics” the content doesn’t consist of ideas to meet the subject or calls on what we can do to get there. It’s rather a display of what did fail in the past and of the present resignation.

But who cares... We’re all here beeing happy that our culture got so big and that we’re a little bit accepted – at least in Basel, Switzerland. We met for talks – not only for beeing stoned. We’re making contacts, exchanging ideas and thinking about when we will meet again. Even if this congress was not that progressive it still have been a good start of a new psychedelic “union” talking the idea further and getting more organised! Big respect to the organiser Gaia Media Stiftung from Basel Switzerland that did make this event come true!

The event ends with an avalanche of thanks in the main congress room with 2000 people. First of all to all participants and then – of course – to Albert Hofmann. “The father of our tribe” as psychedelic bunny Christian Rätsch resumes. The thanks to Albert last for at least half an hour. From people of all ages, all professions and all countries. Until Albert closes the ceremony with the words: “Maybe this event has made my ‘problem child’ a ‘wonder child’!”.

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