by R.U. Sirius
Tripulations 1968 – 1969
A Brief Return to Berkeley During “The Revolution”
Tim’s first impulse, upon being released from the Millbrook hive, was to take Rosemary and Susan (Jack had already left a year earlier, joining the great migration to the streets of the Haight Ashbury) back to his old stomping ground of Berkeley, California where he still owned the family home. By now, Berkeley was a buzzing center of the international counterculture. But Tim was not attuned to Berkeley’s late ‘60s culture of protests, riots and apocalyptic revolutionary rhetoric so his stay in Berkeley would be brief.
The Brotherhood of Eternal Love
At the invitation of a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the small Leary family unit made its way south, to the sunny climes of Orange County, just outside of LA.
In 1966, a notorious working class gang of tough marijuana dealers from Orange County invaded and ripped off a Hollywood party over a pot deal gone bad. Among the items they grabbed was a bunch of LSD. They didn’t even know what it was — except that it was obviously a drug. One day, the gang leader, John Griggs tried it. “This is it!” he told his followers. “A religious experience.” He threw his gun into the ocean. In nearly an instant, the Street Sweepers gang became a religious psychedelic commune. And the skills they’d learned smuggling marijuana from Mexico… well, that still fit the profile. They added acid and hashish to their sales repertoire and became such a successful underground operation that they would eventually get dubbed “the hippie mafia.”
Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao te Ching became a sort of holy book for the Brothers and Leary a guru. Being at loose ends anyway, the Leary family unit was happy to head to Laguna Beach and be glorified and feted by their high-flying friends.
The Brothers were the ultimate ecstatic warriors of the psychedelic revolution. They were following the logic (such as it was) of ‘60s psychedelia — this was the idea or vibe that the more people consumed psychedelic substances, the closer we would get to an advanced enlightened society… even if there was some freaking out, fucking up and weirdness along the way. What do you think?
The legend of the Brotherhood and the Laguna Beach scene is the subject of numerous books and articles, the best one being Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schau.
High Priest & Politics of Ecstasy
1968 saw the release of Timothy Leary’s first semi-autobiographical book, High Priest. This book bravely, poignantly, poetically and hilariously tells the stories of fifteen psychedelic trips taken during the Harvard years (plus the nervous breakdown/breakthrough in Spain in 1959)— the trips that turned Timothy Leary into the legend of a mind. Many of the adventures I’ve already described are included. If you’re going to read one Leary book about the psychedelic experience — with the emphasis on actual experience and not on the insights inspired by them — this is the one for you.
Later, 1968 saw the release of a collection of Leary essays under the title, The Politics of Ecstasy. Much more a product of its time than High Priest, Politics of Ecstasy crackles with its effervescent, confident and whip smart explication of how psychedelic experience intersected with generational politics and a demented war mongering repressive sociopolitical structure to create the mad countercultural explosion that was, in fact, peaking heavily that very year. Read more “Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time”