Such theoretical discussions about the magic drugs were supplemented by practical experiments. One such experiment, which served as a comparison between LSD and psilocybin, took place in the spring of 1962. The proper occasion for it presented itself at the home of the Jungers, in the former head forester’s house of Stauffenberg’s Castle in Wilflingen. My friends, the pharmacologist Professor Heribert Konzett and the Islamic scholar Dr. Rudolf Gelpke, also took part in this mushroom symposium.
The old chronicles described how the Aztecs drank chocolatl before they ate teonanacatl. Thus Mrs. Liselotte Junger likewide served us hot chocolate, to set the mood. Then she abandoned the four men to their fate.
We had gathered in a fashionable living room, with a dark wooden ceiling, white tile stove, period furniture, old French engravings on the walls, a gorgeous bouquet of tulips on the table. Ernst Junger wore a long, broad, dark blue striped kaftan-like garment that he had brought from Egypt; Heribert Konzett was resplendent in a brightly embroidered mandarin gown; Rudolf Gelpke and I had put on housecoats. The everyday reality should be laid aside, along with everyday clothing.
Shortly before sundown we took the drug, not the mushrooms, but rather their active principle, 20 mg psilocybin each. That corresponded to some twothirds of the very strong dose that was taken by the curandera Maria Sabina in the form of Psilocybe mushrooms.
After an hour I still noticed no effect, while my companions were already very deeply into the trip. I had come with the hope that in the mushroom inebriation I could manage to allow certain images from euphoric moments of my childhood, which remained in my memory as blissful experiences, to come alive: a meadow covered with chrysanthemums lightly stirred by the early summer wind; the rosebush in the evening light after a rain storm; the blue irises hanging over the vineyard wall. Instead of these bright images from my childhood home, strange scenery emerged, when the mushroom factor finally began to act. Half stupefied, I sank deeper, passed through totally deserted cities with a Mexican type of exotic, yet dead splendor. Terrified, I tried to detain myself on the surface, to concentrate alertly on the outer world, on the surroundings. For a time I succeeded. I then observed Ernst Junger, colossal in the room, pacing back and forth, a powerful, mighty magician. Heribert Konzett in the silky lustrous housecoat seemed to be a dangerous, Chinese clown. Even Rudolf Gelpke appeared sinister to me; long, thin, mysterious.
With the increasing depth of inebriation, everything became yet stranger. I even felt strange to myself. Weird, cold, foolish, deserted, in a dull light, were the places I traversed when I closed my eyes. Emptied of all meaning, the environment also seemed ghostlike to me whenever I opened my eyes and tried to cling to the outer world. The total emptiness threatened to drag me down into absolute nothingness. I remember how I seized Rudolf Gelpke’s arm as he passed by my chair, and held myself to him, in order not to sink into dark nothingness. Fear of death seized me, and illimitable longing to return to the living creation, to the reality of the world of men. After timeless fear I slowly returned to the room . I saw and heard the great magician lecturing uninterruptedly with a clear, loud voice, about Schopenhauer, Kant, Hegel, and speaking about the old Gaa, the beloved little mother. Heribert Konzett and Rudolf Gelpke were already completely on the earth again, while I could only regain my footing with great effort.
For me this entry into the mushroom world had been a test, a confrontation with a dead world and with the void. The experiment had developed differently from what I had expected. Nevertheless, the encounter with the void can also be appraised as a gain. Then the existence of the creation appears so much more wondrous.
Midnight had passed, as we sat together at the table that the mistress of the house had set in the upper story. We celebrated the return with an exquisite repast and with Mozart’s music. The conversation, during which we exchanged our experiences, lasted almost until morning.
— Albert Hofmann, LSD, my problem child, 1979