Birth of a Psychedelic Culture

A conversational memoir presenting an intimate portrait of the founders of the psychedelic movement.

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By Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner

264 pages  8 ½ x 10 Illustrated with Rare Photographs


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Conversations about Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties

Introduction by John Perry Barlow

No understanding of the history of the sixties could ever be complete without a grasp of the work of Leary, Alpert, and Metzner, the cultural resistance to their experiments, and the way in which psychoactive drug use became a part of contemporary society. Next Generation Independent Book Awards Finalist, Birth of a Psychedelic Culture shines a bright light on these experiments and their cultural milieu through never before seen photographs and the personal accounts of authors Ralph Metzner and Ram Dass, who vividly recall descriptions of particular “trips” as well as conversations with luminaries such as Aldus Huxley, Charles Mingus, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs and others that appeared on the scene.

Ram Dass, (formerly Dr. Richard Alpert), is a world famous spiritual teacher and author of the best-seller Be Here Now. He is well known for his journeys to India and his association with the guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Alpert is the founder of several organizations dedicated to expanding consciousness and awareness. Including the Lama and SEVA Foundations.

Ralph Metzner, author of many books, practices psychotherapy and is Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Involved in consciousness research for over 40 years, including psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and shamanism, he is co-founder and president of the Green Earth Foundation, a non-profit educational organization devoted to healing and harmonizing the relationship between humans and the Earth.

Gary Bravo is the Chief Psychiatrist for Sonoma County Mental Health in Santa Rosa, CA. He has written numerous articles on psychedelics, psychiatry, and transpersonal psychology.

Available in the U.S. from Baker & Taylor, New Leaf Distributors and direct from Synergetic Press.

The Erowid Review


2 reviews for Birth of a Psychedelic Culture

  1. 5 out of 5


    What a treasure of a gift this is! Psychedelics may not be addictive, but this book is, and I read it compulsively. There is something about what you three guys did that had a massive loosening-up effect on so many. You opened our minds and your book demonstrates that the party goes on. I found the honesty of your sharing profound; the way you were able to be so critical of one another, and yet still uphold each other. Thank you for having fearlessly mapped out a cultural history from which a lot of people, both knowingly and unknowing, now live and are touched by.

    – Alastair McIntosh, environmentalist, activist, and author of Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power

  2. 5 out of 5


    This entertaining and firsthand account of those heady days of the sixties sheds light on the intentions, dynamics, trials and errors of the utopian movement led by Timothy Leary and his chief lieutenants, Richard Albert (later Ram Dass) and Ralph Metzner.

    A clear evolution is painted: from the carefully controlled scientific explorations and academic background of the early phase beginning at Harvard; to the middle years in Mexico and at Millbrook in upstate New York where LSD became a key element of experiments in group living; to the disintegration of the movement under the influence of ego battles, family demands, a trend to indiscriminate drug use, and the inevitable crackdown by officialdom.

    Along the way we hear live interviews and conversations with Ram Dass and Metzner, interspersed with written excerpts from Leary and some of the other notable consciousness pioneers. Overall the book serves not only as a fascinating chronicle of a unique period of social and cultural history, but also as a tale about the testing of the limits of human potential – the boundless and universal truths accessible with the aid of psychedelics, and the counterbalancing forces of ego and social constraint – the range of possibility we continue to confront half a century later.

    Alternative Culture

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