Hippies and the Psychedelic Movement: Exploring the Counterculture of the 1960s

Psilocybin mushrooms, alternatively known as “magic mushrooms,” are currently classified as a Schedule I prohibited substance in the United States under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. 

This indicates it has “no recognized medicinal purpose and a high potential for abuse.” 

But, in the past, top medical researchers in America considered it for its medicinal capabilities, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s. 

Harvard University even had several pieces of research on the beneficial applications of psilocybin mushrooms. 

Now, its potential is being investigated again as a remedy for mental illness and other existential issues.

The Hippies and Their Impact on the Psychedelic Movement

The psychedelic movement focused on exploring altered states of consciousness through drugs like LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).

While there are many theories about why these drugs were so popular among hippies, one reason was that they provided an escape from reality for those who had grown up during World War II or in Korea.

Exploring the Counterculture of the 1960s

In the 1960s, this counterculture movement emerged in the United States, with anti-establishment, anti-war, and anti-materialism sentiments. 

The proponents of this culture built it around the ideals of peace and love, and those who participated in it were known as hippies.

They were against many things, like the Vietnam War and racial segregation. Still, they also embraced new technology, such as rock ‘n’ roll music and psychedelic drugs like LSD.

Hippies believed everyone should treat each other equally regardless of race or gender. They also thought that we could all achieve peace if everyone just stopped fighting and got along better with one another.

hippies during the 60s

Examining the Influence of Psychedelic Drug Use on Creativity in the Sixties

Given the radical potential of magic mushrooms, it’s no surprise that it drew the interest of writers, painters, and musicians.

For example, Allen Ginsberg, the famed Beat poet of the 1950s and author of the epic poem Howl, addressed a letter to Leary in 1960, inviting him to join him in his psilocybin studies at Harvard. 

Timothy Leary is a Harvard Psychology Professor and “prophetic shaman” who became fascinated by Wassons’ experiences with magic mushrooms.

His fascination led him to explore Oaxaca, Mexico, with fellow psychology professor Richard Alpert and their main goal was to unearth the possibilities of magic mushrooms for psychology and psychotherapy.

Since then many young American tourists have visited Oaxaca since 1962. 

This demonstrates the extent of interest in magic mushrooms in American youth culture since the Wassons’ participation in the event only a few years before. 

Moreover, musical icons from 1960s America, including Bob Dylan and John Lennon, are said to have visited Oaxaca in pursuit of magic mushrooms, but these rumors were never confirmed.

Whether they were for or against these new psychedelic medicines, the media was captivated by their possibilities.

Yet, there is evidence that these musical personalities were interested in magic mushrooms and other psychedelics

These musicians were the most influential figures in popularizing magic mushrooms in 1960s America. 

For example, The Beatles became the world’s most famous band after appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. 

Yet, it was in 1965 that they first experimented with psychedelics in London, describing the event as “gaining hundreds of years of experience in barely 12 hours.”

The Role of Art in the Psychedelic Movement of 1965-1970

The psychedelic movement was a subculture within the hippie movement that used hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, to expand consciousness and explore inner experience. 

1965 can be considered the year that magic mushrooms entirely escaped academia and entered the popular consciousness. 

The role of art in the psychedelic movement was to express the ideals of the counterculture through visual imagery. 

Artists could create artwork that expressed the ideals of this counterculture and explore their inner experiences.

In reality, the use of drugs in art was not new at all. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison used drugs to expand their minds when writing song lyrics, adding another dimension to their music.

These artists’ music affected their fans; other musicians who listened to them performed live or heard them on records or radio stations nationwide. 

Their music influenced people’s thinking about politics, religion, society, and personal views.

Their music tried to answers regarding life and asked existential questions such as:

  • Are we free? 
  • Are we happy?
  • Do we have any control over our lives?
hippies outside a van waiting

A Look at Gender Roles in the Psychedelic Movement

The psychedelic movement had its unique gender roles. 

Women often wore long skirts and dresses or jeans with headbands or bandanas. Men wore loose-fitting pants with shirts or sweaters and sandals or boots. 

But both genders wore flowers in their hair or clothing to signify peace and love for nature.

Analyzing How Young People Adopted a ‘New Age’ Mindset During This Period

During this time, many young people adopted these new ideals to explore alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. 

They wanted to break free from traditional living forms to find more meaning in life.

Exploring the Role of Religion and Spirituality in Guiding People Toward Psychedelics In The Sixties

The 1960s was a time of great political and cultural upheaval in the United States. A growing concern for social justice led to the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. 

The counterculture movement was also gaining momentum, with hippies rejecting mainstream culture and favoring communal and alternative lifestyles.

In this context, there was a strong interest in spirituality among young people exploring alternative ways of living. 

This interest was not limited to Eastern religions like Hinduism or Buddhism but extended to Western religions.

While some may have turned toward Christian churches for guidance in their spiritual pursuits, others looked elsewhere for guidance.

The movement had a unique take on spirituality, often including psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. 

Many believed these drugs could provide access to altered states of consciousness where they could experience higher awareness and insight into themselves and the world around them.

How did magic mushrooms become associated with hippies?

Magic mushrooms and hippies are often associated because many believed that psychedelic drugs could lead them to new levels of awareness about themselves and their place in the world.

They hoped these drugs would give them access to wisdom lost in modern society.

Many also believed that psychedelics could help them transcend material reality and break free from societal constraints so they could live freely without being bound by social conventions or expectations.

What’s A Hippie Flip?

Hippie flipping is a term that describes the practice of combining two or more psychedelic drugs. “Flipping” comes from the idea that you are flipping between different states of consciousness.

Over the years, there has been a revival in combining psychedelics to create an enhanced experience.

While there are many reasons why people hippie flip. Some people like combining drugs to get high or have fun while tripping on one drug. 

Others take multiple drugs for a deeper spiritual experience than just one drug alone.

Others do it because they believe the combination of drugs will produce unique effects not found in consuming it alone.

And some people do it because they think it’s cool.

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