Potency and safety analysis of hemp-derived delta-9 products: The hemp vs. cannabis demarcation problem

Cadillac Ranch, an example of psychedelic art
Liquid oil projection using a powerful lamp has been used to project swirling colours onto screens since the 1960s

Psychedelia usually refers to a style or aesthetic that is resembled in the psychedelic subculture of the 1960s and the psychedelic experience produced by certain psychoactive substances. This includes psychedelic art, psychedelic music and style of dress during that era. This was primarily generated by people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline (found in peyote) and psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) and also non-users who were participants and aficionados of this subculture. Psychedelic art and music typically recreate or reflect the experience of altered consciousness. Psychedelic art uses highly distorted, surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation (including cartoons) to evoke, convey, or enhance the psychedelic experience.

Psychedelic music uses distorted electric guitar, Indian music elements such as the sitar, tabla,[1] electronic effects, sound effects and reverb, and elaborate studio effects, such as playing tapes backwards or panning the music from one side to another.[2]

A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences including changes of perception such as hallucinations, synesthesia, altered states of awareness or focused consciousness, variation in thought patterns, trance or hypnotic states, mystical states, and other mind alterations.

These processes can lead some people to experience changes in mental operation defining their self-identity (whether in momentary acuity or chronic development) different enough from their previous normal state that it can excite feelings of newly formed understanding such as revelation, illumination, confusion, and psychosis. Individuals who use psychedelic drugs for spiritual purposes or self-discovery are commonly referred to as psychonauts.


The smoking clover, a computer-generated image of psychedelic artwork

The term was first coined as a noun in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond as an alternative descriptor for hallucinogenic drugs in the context of psychedelic psychotherapy.[3] It is irregularly[4] derived from the Greek words ψυχή psychḗ 'soul, mind' and δηλείν dēleín 'to manifest', with the meaning "mind manifesting," the implication being that psychedelics can develop unused potentials of the human mind.[5] The term was loathed by American ethnobotanist Richard Schultes but championed by American psychologist Timothy Leary.[6]

Seeking a name for the experience induced by LSD, Osmond contacted Aldous Huxley, a personal acquaintance and advocate for the therapeutic use of the substance. Huxley coined the term "phanerothyme," from the Greek terms for "manifest" (φανερός) and "spirit" (θύμος). In a letter to Osmond, he wrote:

To make this mundane world sublime,

Take half a gram of phanerothyme

To which Osmond responded:

To fathom Hell or soar angelic,
Just take a pinch of psychedelic[7]

It was on this term that Osmond eventually settled, because it was "clear, euphonious and uncontaminated by other associations."[8] This mongrel spelling of the word 'psychedelic' was loathed by American ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, but championed by Timothy Leary, who thought it sounded better.[9] Due to the expanded use of the term "psychedelic" in pop culture and a perceived incorrect verbal formulation, Carl A.P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Jonathan Ott, and R. Gordon Wasson proposed the term "entheogen" to describe the religious or spiritual experience produced by such substances.[10]


From the second half of the 1950s, Beat Generation writers like William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg[11] wrote about and took drugs, including cannabis and Benzedrine, raising awareness and helping to popularise their use.[12] In the same period Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, or "acid" (at the time a legal drug), began to be used in the US and UK as an experimental treatment, initially promoted as a potential cure for mental illness.[13]

In the early 1960s the use of LSD and other hallucinogens was advocated by proponents of the new "consciousness expansion", such as Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley and Arthur Koestler,[14][15] their writings profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation of youth.[16] There had long been a culture of drug use among jazz and blues musicians, and use of drugs (including cannabis, peyote, mescaline and LSD[17]) had begun to grow among folk and rock musicians, who also began to include drug references in their songs.[18][nb 1]

By the mid-1960s, the psychedelic life-style had already developed in California, and an entire subculture developed. This was particularly true in San Francisco, due in part to the first major underground LSD factory, established there by Owsley Stanley.[20] There was also an emerging music scene of folk clubs, coffee houses and independent radio stations catering to a population of students at nearby Berkeley, and to free thinkers that had gravitated to the city.[21]

From 1964, the Merry Pranksters, a loose group that developed around novelist Ken Kesey, sponsored the Acid Tests, a series of events based around the taking of LSD (supplied by Stanley), accompanied by light shows, film projection and discordant, improvised music known as the psychedelic symphony.[22][23] The Pranksters helped popularize LSD use through their road trips across America in a psychedelically decorated school bus, which involved distributing the drug and meeting with major figures of the beat movement, and through publications about their activities such as Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968).[24]

Leary was a well-known proponent of the use of psychedelics, as was Aldous Huxley. However, both advanced widely different opinions on the broad use of psychedelics by state and civil society. Leary promulgated the idea of such substances as a panacea, while Huxley suggested that only the cultural and intellectual elite should partake of entheogens systematically.[citation needed]

In the 1960s the use of psychedelic drugs became widespread in modern Western culture, particularly in the United States and Britain. The movement is credited to Michael Hollingshead who arrived in America from London in 1965. He was sent to the U.S. by other members of the psychedelic movement to get their ideas exposure.[25] The Summer of Love of 1967 and the resultant popularization of the hippie culture to the mainstream popularized psychedelia in the minds of popular culture, where it remained dominant through the 1970s.[26]

Modern usage

A retro example of psychedelia; the dancer combines 1960s fashion with modern LED lighting.

The impact of psychedelic drugs on western culture in the 1960s led to semantic drift in the use of the word "psychedelic", and it is now frequently used to describe anything with abstract decoration of multiple bright colours, similar to those seen in drug-induced hallucinations. In objection to this new meaning, and to what some[who?] consider pejorative meanings of other synonyms such as "hallucinogen" and "psychotomimetic", the term "entheogen" was proposed and is seeing increasing use. However, many consider the term "entheogen" best reserved for religious and spiritual usage, such as certain Native American churches do with the peyote sacrament, and "psychedelic" left to describe those who are using these drugs for recreation, psychotherapy, physical healing, or creative problem solving. In science, hallucinogen remains the standard term.[27]

Visual art

Replica of Eric Clapton's "The Fool", a guitar design which became symbolic of the psychedelic era

Advances in printing and photographic technology in the 1960s saw the traditional lithography printing techniques rapidly superseded by the offset printing system. This and other technical and industrial innovations gave young artists access to exciting new graphic techniques and media, including photographic and mixed media collage, metallic foils, and vivid new fluorescent "DayGlo" inks. This enabled them to explore innovative new illustrative styles including highly distorted visuals, cartoons, and lurid colors and full spectrums to evoke a sense of altered consciousness; many works also featured idiosyncratic and complex new fonts and lettering styles (most notably in the work of San Francisco-based poster artist Rick Griffin). Many artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s attempted to illustrate the psychedelic experience in paintings, drawings, illustrations, and other forms of graphic design.

The counterculture music scene frequently used psychedelic designs on posters during the Summer of Love, leading to a popularization of the style. The most productive and influential centre of psychedelic art in the late 1960s was San Francisco; a scene driven in large measure by the patronage of the popular local music venues of the day like the Avalon Ballroom and Bill Graham's Fillmore West, which regularly commissioned young local artists like Robert Crumb, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin and others. They produced a wealth of distinctive psychedelic promotional posters and handbills for concerts that featured emerging psychedelic bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company,[28] The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Many of these works are now regarded as classics of the poster genre, and original items by these artists command high prices on the collector market today.

Contemporary with the burgeoning San Francisco scene, a smaller but equally creative psychedelic art movement emerged in London, led by expatriate Australian pop artist Martin Sharp, who created many striking psychedelic posters and illustrations for the influential underground publication Oz magazine, as well as the famous album covers for the Cream albums Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire.[29]

Other prominent London practitioners of the style included: design duo Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, whose work included numerous famous posters, as well as psychedelic "makeovers" on a piano for Paul McCartney and a car for doomed Guinness heir Tara Browne, and design collective The Fool, who created clothes and album art for several leading UK bands including The Beatles, Cream, and The Move. The Beatles loved psychedelic designs on their albums, and designer group called The Fool created psychedelic design, art, paint at the short-lived Apple Boutique (1967–1968) in Baker St, London.[30]

Joplin's Porsche 356C in "Summer of Love – Art of the Psychedelic Era" at the Whitney Museum in New York City

Blues rock singer Janis Joplin had a psychedelic car, a Porsche 356. The trend also extended to motor vehicles. The earliest, and perhaps most famous of all psychedelic vehicles was the famous "Further" bus, driven by Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters, which was painted inside and out in 1964 with bold psychedelic designs (although these were executed in primary colours, since the DayGlo colours that soon became de rigueur were then not widely available). Another very famous example is John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce – originally black, he had it repainted in 1967 in a vivid psychedelic gypsy caravan style, prompting bandmate George Harrison to have his Mini Cooper similarly repainted with logos and devices that reflected his burgeoning interest in Indian spirituality.


The fashion for psychedelic drugs gave its name to the style of psychedelia, a term describing a category of rock music known as psychedelic rock, as well as visual art, fashion, and culture that is associated originally with the high 1960s, hippies, and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California.[31] It often used new recording techniques and effects while drawing on Eastern sources such as the ragas and drones of Indian music.

One of the first uses of the word in the music scene of this time was in the 1964 recording of "Hesitation Blues" by folk group the Holy Modal Rounders.[32] The term was introduced to rock music and popularized by the 13th Floor Elevators 1966 album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.[32] Psychedelia truly took off in 1967 with the Summer of Love and, although associated with San Francisco, the style soon spread across the US, and worldwide.[33]

The electronic dance music scene is strongly linked to the consumption of psychedelic drugs, particularly MDMA. Drug usage in the EDM scene can primarily be traced to British acid house parties and the Second Summer of Love, which marked the beginnings of rave culture; these movements, however, were distinct from and mostly unrelated to 1960s psychedelia.


Psychedelic Festival in Brazil

A psychedelic festival is a gathering that promotes psychedelic music and art in an effort to unite participants in a communal psychedelic experience.[34] Psychedelic festivals have been described as "temporary communities reproduced via personal and collective acts of transgression... through the routine expenditure of excess energy, and through self-sacrifice in acts of abandonment involving ecstatic dancing often fueled by chemical cocktails."[34] These festivals often emphasize the ideals of peace, love, unity, and respect.[34] Notable psychedelic festivals include the biennial Boom Festival in Portugal,[34] Ozora Festival in Hungary, Universo Paralello in Brazil as well as Nevada's Burning Man[35] and California's Symbiosis Gathering in the United States.[36]


In recent years there has been a resurgence in interest in psychedelic research and a growing number of conferences now take place across the globe.[37] The psychedelic research charity Breaking Convention have hosted one of the world's largest since 2011. A biennial conference in London, UK, Breaking Convention: a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness[38] is a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness. In the US MAPS held their first Psychedelic Science conference,[39] devoted specifically to research of psychedelics in scientific and medical fields, in 2013. In Australia, Entheogenesis Australis has been hosting the world's longest ongoing conferences around psychedelics and ethnobotany since 2004.[40]

See also


  1. ^ New York folk musician Peter Stampfel claimed to be the first to use the word "psychedelic" in a song lyric (The Holy Modal Rounders' version of "Hesitation Blues", 1963).[19]


  1. ^ Rubin, Rachel, 1964– (2007). Immigration and American popular culture : an introduction. Melnick, Jeffrey Paul. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-1-4356-0043-0. OCLC 173511775.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Hicks, Michael, 1956– (1999). Sixties rock : garage, psychedelic, and other satisfactions. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02427-3. OCLC 38504347.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Nicholas Murray, Aldous Huxley: A Biography, 419.
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, September 2007, s.v., Etymology
  5. ^ A. Weil, W. Rosen. (1993), From Chocolate To Morphine: Everything You Need To Know About Mind-Altering Drugs. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 93
  6. ^ W. Davis (1996), "One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest". New York, Simon and Schuster, Inc. p. 120.
  7. ^ Janice Hopkins Tanne (2004). "Humphry Osmond". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 328 (7441): 713. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7441.713. PMC 381240.
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 22, 2004). "Humphry Osmond, 86, Who Sought Medicinal Value in Psychedelic Drugs, Dies". The New York Times. p. 1001025.
  9. ^ W. Davis (1996), One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest. New York, Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 120.
  10. ^ R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and, Carl A.P. Ruck, The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (North Atlantic Books, 2008), pgs. 138–139
  11. ^ J. Campbell, This is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001), ISBN 0-520-23033-7.
  12. ^ R. Worth, Illegal Drugs: Condone Or Incarcerate? (Marshall Cavendish, 2009), ISBN 0-7614-4234-0, p. 30.
  13. ^ D. Farber, "The Psychologists Psychology:The Intoxicated State/Illegal Nation – Drugs in the Sixties Counterculture", in P. Braunstein and M. W. Doyle (eds), Imagine Nation: The Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s (New York: Routledge, 2002), ISBN 0-415-93040-5, p. 21.
  14. ^ Anne Applebaum, "Did The Death Of Communism Take Koestler And Other Literary Figures With It?", The Huffington Post, 26 January 2010.
  15. ^ "Out-Of-Sight! SMiLE Timeline". Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  16. ^ L. R. Veysey, The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth-Century America (Chicago IL, University of Chicago Press, 1978), ISBN 0-226-85458-2, p. 437.
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  19. ^ DeRogatis 2003, p. 8.
  20. ^ DeRogatis 2003, pp. 8–9.
  21. ^ R. Unterberger, Eight Miles High: Folk-Rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock (London: Backbeat Books, 2003), ISBN 0-87930-743-9, pp. 11–13.
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  23. ^ Hicks 2000, p. 60.
  24. ^ J. Mann, Turn on and Tune in: Psychedelics, Narcotics and Euphoriants (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2009), ISBN 1-84755-909-3, p. 87.
  25. ^ Wilson, Andrew (2007). "Spontaneous Underground: An Introduction to Psychedelic Scenes, 1965–1968". In Christopher Grunenberg, Jonathan Harris (ed.). Summer of Love: Psychedelic Art, Social Crisis and Counterculture in the 1960s (8 ed.). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. pp. 63–98.
  26. ^ "The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD – it was the start of modern individualism". The Conversation. July 6, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  27. ^ "Drugs World". Informationisbeautiful.net. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  28. ^ Mark Deming. "Big Brother & the Holding Company: Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  29. ^ Organ, Michael (2018-07-03). "Confrontational continuum: modernism and the psychedelic art of Martin Sharp". The Sixties. 11 (2): 156–182. doi:10.1080/17541328.2018.1532169. ISSN 1754-1328. S2CID 149680436.
  30. ^ "Beatles APPLE BOUTIQUE". Archived from the original on 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  31. ^ M. Campbell, Popular Music in America: And the Beat Goes on (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 3rd edn., 2008), ISBN 0-495-50530-7, pp. 212–3.
  32. ^ a b M. Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions (Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000), ISBN 0-252-06915-3, pp. 59–60.
  33. ^ V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), ISBN 0-87930-653-X, pp. 1322–3.
  34. ^ a b c d St John, Graham. "Neotrance and the Psychedelic Festival." Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, 1(1) (2009).
  35. ^ Griffith, Martin. "Psychedelic Festival to Attract 24,000 Fans", The Albany Herald, September 1, 2001. Accessed on July 22, 2011 from Google News Archive.
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  37. ^ Labate, Beatriz Caiuby; Cavnar, Clancy (2011). "The expansion of the field of research on ayahuasca: Some reflections about the ayahuasca track at the 2010 MAPS "Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century" conference". International Journal of Drug Policy. 22 (2): 174–178. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2010.09.002. PMID 21051213.
  38. ^ Aman, Jacob. (July 9, 2015) "Breaking Convention: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness", Breaking Convention 2015 Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  39. ^ "Psychedelic Science", Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies: MAPS Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  40. ^ "History of Entheogenesis Australis". Entheogenesis Australis (EGA).

External links