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The Birth of 'New Age' America

Timothy Leary addresses the crowd at the "Human Be-In," which he helped organize, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Jan. 14, 1967. Leary told the crowd to "Turn on, Tune in and Drop out." (AP)

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Half a century ago this year — fall 1960 — psychologist Timothy Leary ate psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico and had what he would call “the deepest religious experience” of his life.

He came home to promote psychedelics as the path to revelation, revolution. Richard Nixon called him the most dangerous man in America. Much of the 1960s danced to his tune.

My guest today tells the remarkable story of how a tiny band of seekers and psychic explorers ended up changing the culture of a nation, and its very understanding of mind, body and spirit.

This hour, On Point: The psychedelic roots of New Age America.

Guest:

Don Lattin covered religion for the San Francisco Chronicle for two decades and is author of “Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today.” His new book is “The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America.”

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Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

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Apr 24, 2015
Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plans Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
Apr 24, 2015
The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

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