Hofmann’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD

title card

In 2002, a film called Hofmann’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD was born. Written and directed by Connie Littlefield and produced by Kent Martin for the National Film Board of Canada, this was one of the first documentaries to delve into the little known early history of the world’s most notorious psychedelic.

Long before Timothy Leary urged a generation to “tune in, turn on and drop out,” lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, was being used by researchers trying to understand the human mind. This film is a fascinating look at the story of “acid” before it hit the streets.

Featuring interviews with many LSD pioneers, ‘Hofmann’s Potion’ is much more than a simple chronicle of the drug’s early days. With thoughtful interviews, beautiful music and stunning cinematography, it is an invitation to look at LSD, and our world, with a more open, compassionate mind.

The film features interviews with the following:
Albert Hofmann
Myron Stolaroff
Stanislav Grof
Humphrey Osmond
Abram Hoffer
Duncan Blewett
Ralph Metzner
Ram Dass
Laura Archera Huxley

You can view ‘Hofmann’s Potion’ at this site: NFB: Hofmann’s Potion

See the awesome photo collection at the facebook page for the film!

Reviews of Hofmann’s Potion

Dr. Albert Hofmann wrote this letter after viewing Hofmann’s Potion at his home in Switzerland. It read, in part:
Dear Connie, how I could enjoy this grand work. My heartfelt congratulations to you for your main contribution to the success of this unique documentation of my problem child.
With warm greetings
Yours – Albert Hofmann

“Documentary filmmaker Connie Littlefield delves into the little-known early history of the world’s most notorious psychedelic concoction with a series of excellent interviews with early psychedelic researchers. Highly recommended!”
– – Rick Doblin, President of MAPS

“Dear Connie,
Yes we received the film and we think it is exquisite…. just as we imagined some sweet intelligent truthful inquisitive person might possibly birth the story. Thank you and your whole crew Connie. What a sweet child you have made. We cried as we saw us all, older slower, afflicted with God knows what, all so absolutely certain after all these years that the answers that were gifted us with this ‘accident’, LSD , were still valid right across the board. Sweet Richard Ram Dass, dear Humphry the toothless, Duncan ever beautiful, all never doubting we had all been given a key that we had used and treasured for this life time.
Thank you thank you thank you.
All our best smiles and hugs to you. Duncan is just fine and sends his love…… June.”
– – Dr. June Blewett

“‘Hofmann’s Potion’ is an elegant, deftly constructed piece of filmmaking Connie Littlefield brings an intelligent and compassionate eye to her aging, highly engaging subjects. She brings us this gem of a film on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the invention of LSD — just in time for a widespread revival in interest in the clinical and spiritual benefits of consciousness-enhancing substances.”
– – Mark Achbar, Co-Director, Manufacturing Consent & The Corporation

“Your film is easily the classiest, most intelligent and best made of all documentaries on LSD.”
– -Tom Lyttle, Publisher, Author, Archivist

“I use “Hofmann’s Potion” in my Foundations of Psychedelic Studies class. It’s one of my favorites and the classes’s too.

It is a well-composed video both in content and artistically. It starts with an interview with Albert Hofmann and shows him walking along an beautiful field and forest. To my delight, it contains historical footage of the early LSD treatments in Canada for alcoholism and interviews with Osmond and Hoffer. I had no idea such footage existed.

Duncan Blewett’s smile and sparkling eyes comment on Al Hubbard’s dynamic warmth even more than his words. Other psychedelic pioneers appear too, including footage (I had no idea it even existed) of Stan Grof administering LSD to addicts during his early career in Prague. Myron Stoloaroff, who also knew Hubbard

Beautiful shots of the prairie, water reflecting light, and other nature scenes raise the tape an artistic step above the usual documentary.

Connie Littlefield, the director, deserves a big “Congratulations and Thank You” for this fine film/tape.

I recommend it for personal interest and as in introduction to psychedelics for college classes and other groups who are unfamiliar with psychedelic’s history and possible uses in addictions, alcoholism, and psychotherapy. It should be in university video libraries.”
– – Thomas B. Roberts, Prof. of Educational Psychology, Northern Illinois University

“A remarkable film and the first truth-telling treatment of LSD’s
therapy potential since the landmark CBS production in 1965: ‘LSD:
The Spring Grove Experiment.’ In the spirit of education, I am proud
to see that UC (my Alma Mater) is distributing this!”
– – Richard Yensen, Ph.D., Director, Orenda Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

Quotes from Hofmann’s Potion

I was walking on beautiful May morning. Suddenly I stopped and I had the feeling everything had changed. The woods was beautiful. I had the feeling that I now saw the woods as it really is. I had the feeling I would be included by it. I had a feeling of happiness I never had before. And this gave me the security that if you had open eyes you may see the world in a different way. I mean in you see it as it really is – wonderful.
— Albert Hofmann

The effect is somewhat like looking through a microscope. Suddenly when you look threw a microscope you discover that there is an invisible world around you that you hadn’t known about. The same is true about the psychedelic drug. You are aware of processes that going on inside your own brain. You are aware of the exchange of energy going on between your sense organs and the ones around them that you weren’t aware of before.
— Timothy Leary

For myself these experiences have been most strange; most awesome. And in their own way, amongst the most beautiful, in my life. A sense of spacious significance began to invest everything. Everything was brilliantly sharp and significant. If I fixed my attention on a flower, I felt I could spend all day contemplating it. Phrases such as “I’ve seen with the eye of the world, the new eye of the newborn on a new day sprang to my town, apparently without construction.” A plain wooden chair was invested with chairiness no chair had ever for me before.
— Humphry Osmond

In a good LSD experience you resolve your inner conflicts, and the loads and the barriers that have developed. You begin to reach down into the depth of your own being. You see more and more levels of being. More and more levels of understanding. Often we like to blame our feelings on other people. And what they are doing to us. But if I feel that it’s my feeling and I’ve produced it, then I’m the only one who can resolve it. And fortunately, these substances allow you see and recognize this. And resolve it.
— Myron Stolaroff

Aldous and I would give a session to a friend, or someone who wanted it and the preparation for a session, was very, very careful. The day before we didn’t do anything. We just fixed the house very quietly. The day of the session there was nothing except that, and even the day after. To Aldous the session was a gratuitous grace – something that was given to you for nothing. Not that you merited it. You are just lucky in getting it. It’s what you do with it afterwards, that counted.
— Laura Huxley

I wasn’t born as Richard Albert. I was just born as a human being. And then I learned this whole business of who I am, and whether I’m good or bad, or achieving or not. All that’s learned along the way. You see all those learned things separate. You become is a point of awareness. That’s all that is left. I remember the first time this happened to me, as professor went, and middle class boy went, and pilot went, and all of my games were going off into the distance. I got this terrible panic, because, indeed, I was going to cease to exist. And I got the panic, which is the panic that precedes psychological death. Because indeed Richard Albert was dying.
— Ram Dass

We all want to expand our consciousness, we alter our consciousness all the time. We cycle through waking and dreaming and sleeping. It’s natural– consciousness naturally varies. I mean, I took a consciousness expanding drug this morning: I had a cup of coffee. That was a psychoactive, it got my brain going. Probably most people do that.
We interact with psychoactive substances and plants all the time. And the point is to do it in a conscious way, a discriminating way, a purposive way, to choose it.
— Ralph Metzner

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