Huxley, Aldous Leonard

Aldous Leonard Huxley, (1894–1963) – English author, poet, and philosopher, perhaps most famous for his utopian novel Brave New World (1932b) and such important nonfiction as The Art of Seeing (1932a), The Perennial Philosophy (1946), and The Devils of Loudon (1952); grandson of Thomas Huxley and brother of Julian Huxley. An account of Huxley’s experiments with the drug mescaline is published in The Doors of Perception (1954), with rich and celebratory descriptions of the hallucinations and detailed analysis of the mystical and social implications of his experiences. The follow-up volume Heaven and Hell (1956) balances the positive experiences with what have since been termed “bad trips” and contributes descriptions of the effects of LSD. In Brave New World, the drug “soma” serves as a major tool of the totalitarian state, while in Island (1962), Huxley’s last major work, the drug “moksha” is central to the doomed utopia of Pala—and both of these novels likely draw on Huxley’s own experiments with entheogens. Huxley’s work has had a major impact on psychedelic audiences—Jim Morrison’s band the Doors took its name from Huxley’s 1954 book—and his work continues to have an influence on many neo-shamans. The fact that Huxley requested an injection of LSD on his deathbed lends greater weight to his status as a visionary and shaman among neo-shamans.

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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