The Secret Chief - Epilogue by Sasha Shulgin

Table of Contents | Prologue | Tribute | Foreword | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Epilogue | Appendix I | Appendix II | Acknowledgements

The Last Trip:
Peaceful Closure for Jacob

My first memories of Jacob were back in the early days of the Berkeley scene, during the time of the free speech vigor. No, my first meeting with him actually preceded all of that, and even preceded the Berkeley Barb being peddled by bearded hippies on every street corner all the way up Telegraph Avenue from Dwight Way to Sather Gate. As I remember, it even preceded the tear gas and the helicopters of law and order. Pre- People's Park. Pre-Doctor Hippocrates. Pre-Mario Savio. Jacob and I would agree to meet at our favorite cafe on the Avenue and share an espresso (a new fad just introduced from Italy) and discuss just how to get the pink color out of crystalline MDA. I had no idea, and had never asked, where the MDA had come from, nor why it was pink. Jacob never told me. But I suggested washing it with ether containing a bit of acetone, and the pink color apparently went away. This was in the pre- MDMA era, when MDA (the "Mellow Drug of America," sometimes called the "love drug") was very much the favorite of the therapists and the psychedelic explorers of the time. It had been kosherized, after all, by being promoted by one of the largest pharmaceutical houses in the United States (Smith, Kline and French) after having been discovered and espoused by an eminent Professor of Pharmacology (Dr. Gordon A. Alles, from UCLA).

I was not particularly interested in MDA, as I had my own acaulescent world of phenethylamine relatives that was going in all directions at once. And Jacob was not particularly interested in my manic and broad diffusion of new compounds as he had his MDA which was a familiar and, for him, completely predictable tool. A decade or two later, I caught his attention with the material MDMA, but that story is the stuff of a chapter in another book. I would, here, rather talk about quite a different material, mescaline. This remarkable alkaloid demands a special place in my notes as it was the first psychedelic I had ever tried. And, it commanded an equally special place in Jacob's notes, as it was the last of his experiences.

I, and a number of my friends, had found a time for communion and exploration, and mescaline was the chosen vehicle for the day. Jacob accepted 300 milligrams of the sulfate salt in water solution, wished us well, and drank it down. As did we all. In a half hour he retreated towards the bathroom (nausea is a rather dependable companion under such circumstances), then he chose to lie down by himself in a back bedroom. I searched him out in another hour, but he indicated that he wished to remain alone for a while yet.

An hour later he rejoined us, with a humorous yet wistful smile on his face, and told us that he had pretty much decided that this was it. He had had it. "Too much nausea?" I asked. "No," he replied. "It isn't until I have gotten sick and urped that I know I have turned on." "So what is this 'it' that you have had it with?" I asked him.

He sat down in a soft, comfy chair, and looked at me, and smiled. "I think that I have found my place of peace. I know that I will live until I die, and I don't have to rush it, and I don't have to keep proving that I still have piles of life left to explore. I'm getting too old to try to demonstrate to others that I'm young and still learning. So I'll just let things be. What's to prove?"

He sat there for the next couple of hours, watching all the others exchanging dynamic interplays of ideas, opinions and clever conversation. All this was not directed towards him, but was simply cast adrift in the air about him. He listened, and that infinitely peaceful smile never once left his face. I suddenly realized that some day I, too, would be an observer of the passing scene rather than a participant in it.

A few hours later, as we all sat around a fabulous chicken casserole with some acceptable white wine, I asked him if he had had a rewarding trip today. He told me he had, indeed, been "out there" for a while, and that now he was back with us he thought he would probably stay here, in this reality, for his remaining days. He had closed his circle. He was together.

I hope that someday I will experience the completion and the integration that I saw, that day, in Jacob's face. At that future moment, I just might discover that I too have become a complete person.

Alexander T. Shulgin, Ph.D.
Lafayette, California

Table of Contents | Prologue | Tribute | Foreword | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Epilogue | Appendix I | Appendix II | Acknowledgements