It is my belief that sixties counterculture icon Timothy Leary was Illuminati. It is not my intention to endorse nor criticize Leary, instead I simply want to provide an accurate accounting of what he stood for and what he was attempting to do. This is important as I think he has a historical significance which is oftentimes foolishly overlooked. There are three questions I need to answer in order to properly address this issue:

  1. What are the Illuminati?
  2. Who was Timothy Leary?
  3. Why should anybody care about Leary’s affiliation with the Illuminati?

1. What are the Illuminati?

To answer the first question, “what are the Illuminati,” the Illuminati are a loosely organized religion. It is commonly recognized as “the occult” by the general public, but it goes by many other names as well, such as New Age, Thelema, Wicca, paganism, hermeticism, Satanism, Sufism, magick and witchcraft. Studying the Illuminati is tricky as these religions deny (sometimes adamantly) that they are affiliated with one another. This is despite the fact that they share many of the same beliefs, practices and holy texts, not to mention that they draw their influences from many of the same prophets.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that there is a schism between the traditional orthodox branches of the Illuminati and the more secular nonorthodox denominations. Without a doubt the most influential orthodox denomination in modern times has been Freemasonry. Freemasonry is known for recruiting influential members of society from every social class. Most population centers, including small towns, have at least one active Masonic lodge.


The square and compass, the universal symbol for Freemasonry.

Freemasons adamantly deny that they are a religious organization, but any serious investigation into their beliefs and practices will reveal that they are not only a religious organization, but that they are Illuminati. Freemasons differ from Christians in that they do not actively try to convert people to their religion. Freemasonry is a selective religion that recruits new members by invitation only. Invitations are only extended to those who have befriended a Freemason, and even then only on the condition that the invitation is approved of by the rest of the lodge. A further condition is that only men are admitted into Freemasonry, however women can be admitted into its sister organization “Order of the Eastern Star.”

Freemasons are secretive and do not share their beliefs and practices with the general public. They only share their beliefs and practices with their own members, and even then only after the members have demonstrated their loyalty to the organization. Beliefs and practices are revealed to members incrementally as they advance through the numerous ranks in Freemasonry. It can take many years, or even decades for a member to advance through all of Freemasonry’s degrees.

Numerous spinoff Illuminati organizations have been created that are organized in a similar manner to Freemasonry. Arguably the most influential of such organizations in modern times has been the Ordo Templi Orientis, although other spinoff organizations could include Argenteum Astreum, Illuminates of Thanateros, The Church of Satan, and Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Church of Scientology is what I would consider to be a quasi-Illuminati organization. Scientology maintains the tradition of withholding their beliefs and practices from members and the general public, however they have shed much of the other orthodoxy that is seen in traditional Illuminati organizations.

Studying the non-orthodox Illuminati denominations is complicated as many of the members do not regard their beliefs as a religion. Instead, many will claim that they are “spiritual, but not religious.” The non-orthodox members oftentimes regard the orthodox denominations with contempt, as they consider them to be corrupt ideologues who are abusing sacred knowledge for their own nefarious purposes.


A modern-day adherent of the Illuminati religion.

Regardless of the denomination, whether they be orthodox or non-orthodox, there are several underlying fundamental principles that form the basis for these religions. On a practical level, the Illuminati hold the belief that humans are manifestations of god and that they can bring themselves closer to divinity by achieving altered states of consciousness. On a spiritual level, the Illuminati believe that it is humanity’s destiny to elevate itself into a god by using technology to radically alter the human species. From there, they argue that the newly formed god will propagate itself throughout the universe, creating a universal utopia that has fully embraced its divine status.

Traditionally, the Illuminati claim to experience divinity by achieving an altered state of consciousness known as a “kundalini awakening.” The Illuminati claim that the kundalini awakening was originally discovered by the ancient Hindus. The Illuminati believe that there are seven energy centers in the human body, known as chakras, which originate in the bottom of the spine and run up to the top of the head. They claim that various techniques can be employed to initiate a kundalini awakening by activating these energy centers in successive order.


A diagram of the seven chakras. Note that in this image the seventh chakra (the “crown chakra”) is represented by the sun.

Some of these techniques are relatively benign and consist of various forms of yoga and or meditation. Other techniques are more controversial and as such are only revealed to people on a need to know basis. Sex magick is one of these techniques. Note that in this case “magick” is spelled with a “k” at the end to differentiate it from traditional stage magic. The Illuminati claim that the energy released during orgasm can be channeled towards initiating a kundalini awakening. The Illuminati have invented numerous sexual rituals for the purpose of achieving a kundalini awakening in this manner. Some of these rituals can become quite intense and may incorporate violence and/or sexual humiliation. They may also require people to ingest bodily fluids, usually semen and/or menstrual blood, but may also include blood, feces and urine. Collectively, these rituals are known as “sex magick.”

Like I said, there is a schism between the orthodox and non-orthodox Illuminati denominations. I suspect this schism has always existed throughout the history of the religion, though I do believe that it has become more exaggerated in modern times, with the non-orthodox denominations seeming to have the upper hand. I credit Timothy Leary with helping to grant the non-orthodox denominations this upper hand.


Aleister Crowley, arguably the most influential Illuminati prophet of the past century.

Aleister Crowley was the spiritual progenitor of Timothy Leary. Crowley, who lived from 1875-1947, is famous for writing “The Book of the Law,” supposedly under the direction of a spiritual entity named Aiwass [1]. Crowley claimed that by writing of The Book of the Law he was causing humanity to enter a new spiritual age. This is where the term “New Age” comes from. As such, The Book of the Law is treated as a Bible of sorts by many modern-day Illuminati. Crowley is also famous for revealing many sex magick techniques, which until that point had been largely hidden from the public [2]. This caused Crowley to gain the scorn of many orthodox Illuminati denominations, but also caused him to gain many non-orthodox followers in the process. Crowley’s impact on the Illuminati is of such a significance that he is commonly regarded as the most influential Illuminati prophet of the past century.

2. Who was Timothy Leary?

Now it is time to answer the second question: who was Timothy Leary? Leary, who lived from 1920-1996, made a career in academia after earning a PhD in psychology. Leary had numerous accomplishments throughout his career, but he was most known for advocating for the recreational and spiritual use of the drug LSD. LSD was a central component of the sixties counterculture, and as such Leary became the de facto leader for this movement. For those who are not aware, the sixties counterculture was a youth-led social movement that focused primarily on Vietnam War protests, civil rights, and alternative religious movements.


Members of the 1960’s counterculture participating in a protest.

LSD is a powerful psychedelic drug that is capable of invoking religious experiences which are accompanied by hallucinations. A typical LSD trip lasts approximately 10-12 hours, with the drug usually taking 1 hour to produce any noticeable effects. LSD is quite potent and can get someone high with as little as 100 micrograms. LSD is almost exclusively administered by ingestion. LSD is not addictive, but this does not mean it should be underestimated. Many people regard their first LSD trip as being one of their most significant life experiences. The act of taking LSD is known as an “acid trip.” People who experience their first acid trip are said to be “turned on,” meaning that their minds have been opened up to a new way of experiencing spirituality.

Hippies are generally recognized as the propagators of these alternative religions. Many people regard the hippies as a one-time occurrence while failing to notice that their fundamental beliefs were based on Illuminati teachings. People also fail to notice that Leary was continuing Crowley’s work of promoting the Illuminati religion while shedding much of its traditional orthodoxy.


A hippy covering up one eye with a peace symbol. Note that the act of covering up one eye is a gesture which is generally recognized as having an Illuminati connotation.

Leary introduced a paradigm shift in the Illuminati religion by promoting LSD as a means of achieving enlightenment over the traditional routes of yoga, meditation and sex magick. Numerous other drugs belong to the Illuminati’s pharmacopoeia, including DMT, psilocybin, mescaline, salvia, MDMA and cannabis. Leary also abandoned the Illuminati tradition of keeping enlightenment confined to secret societies. Instead, he used his influence within the psychological community to advocate for the use of LSD. Leary explicitly stated that his intention was to get as many people as possible to try LSD. He attempted this by proselytizing primarily to college students under his famous slogan, “turn on, tune in and drop out.”

Throughout the course of his career, Leary came to believe that he was the spiritual successor of Crowley. Leary’s one-time associate Brian Barritt described in his autobiography, “The Road of Excess,” the event that led Leary to believe that he was carrying on Crowley’s work [3]. Barritt claims that he and Leary had a particularly meaningful acid trip in the Algerian desert of Bou Saada. They ascribed even more significance to their acid trip when they realized that it had occurred in the same location as where Crowley and his assistant Victor Neuburg had once performed a magical ceremony while under the influence of the psychedelic drug mescaline. Leary and Barritt became doubly surprised when they realized that Crowley and Neuburg were performing a magical ceremony that was created several centuries prior by the famous Illuminati John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley.


Leary’s one time assistant Brian Barritt.

I need to explain why this event was of such significance to Leary. The Illuminati believe that there is a spiritual significance to events which they call “synchronicities.” A synchronicity is an unusual event that is too specific to be considered a coincidence. Barritt made the following statement about this synchronicity in his autobiography:

What’s the chance of us tripping by accident in the same location as Crowley and Neuburg? Of all the acid houses in the world we have to trip out in this one? Play it again Aleister!

I remind him of the manuscript I saw during our trip and the name Dr. John Dee, we look at each other in double amazement. The book says that the manuscript that Crowley used for his conjurations was composed by Dr. John Dee! Tim and myself tripped for the first time together in the same area in which Crowley and Neuburg dropped mescaline and performed a magical ceremony using Dr. Dee’s script!

Leary made the following statement about the synchronicity in his book, “Confessions of a Hope Fiend:” [4]

We touched base at Bou Saada. We did not realize until Brian Barritt told us months later that we were following exactly the route which Aleister Crowley took on his search for desert illumination. The eerie synchronicities between our lives and that of Crowley, which were later to preoccupy us, were still unfolding with such precision as to make us wonder if one can escape the programmed imprinting with which we are born. At times it seemed so Oedipally prepackaged.

Leary’s longtime associate and fellow sixties counter culture icon, Robert Anton Wilson, also came to the conclusion that Leary was carrying on Crowley’s work. Wilson made no secret of the fact that he was heavily influenced by Crowley.


Leary’s one time associate Robert Anton Wilson.

Wilson expanded upon the alleged synchronicities between Leary and Crowley in his 1977 book, “Cosmic Trigger.” [5] Wilson describes a text known as “The Starseed Transmissions,” which he claims Leary created as part of a four-person team engaged in telepathy with spiritual entities. He summarized the Starseed Transmissions as saying the following:

It is time for life on Earth to leave the planetary womb and learn to walk through the stars.

Life was seeded on your planet billions of years ago by nucleotide templates which contained the blueprint for gradual evolution through a sequence of bio-mechanical stages.

The goal of evolution is to produce nervous systems capable of communicating with and returning to the Galactic Network where we, your interstellar parents, await you.

Life on planet Earth has now reached this halfway point, established itself, and evolved through larval mutations and metamorphoses to the seven brain stages.

At this time the voyage home is possible.

Assemble the most intelligent, advanced, courageous of your species, divided equally between men and women. Let every race, nationality, and religion be represented.

You are about to discover the key to immortality in the chemical structure of the genetic code, within which you will find the scripture of life. The time has come for you to accept the responsibility of immortality. It is not necessary for you to die.

You will discover the key to enhanced intelligence within the chemistry of the nervous system. Certain chemicals, used wisely, will enable your nervous system to decipher the genetic code.

All life on your planet is a unity. All life must come home.

Total freedom, responsibility and interspecies harmony will make the voyage possible. You must transcend larval identities of race, culture and nationality. Your only allegiance is to life. The only way you will survive is to make the voyage home.

The Japanese people are the most advanced race on your planet and will give protection to the company.

We are sending a comet to your solar system as a sign that the time has come to look to the stars. When you arrive back home you will be given new instructions and powers. Your sperm ship is the flower of terrestrial life. As soon as the company is formed and the voyage begun, war, poverty, hatred, fear will disappear from your planet and the most ancient prophecies and celestial visions will be realized.


Come home in glory.

Wilson noted the striking similarities between Crowley’s “Book of the Law” and Leary’s “Starseed Transmissions:”

It seems clear that the Starseed Transmissions acquired a rather heavy Timothy Leary flavor in passing through the Leary nervous system, just as the “Book of the Law” took on an undeniably Crowleyan aroma in passing through Aleister’s neurons; but the underlying message is hauntingly similar.

3. Why should anybody care about Leary’s affiliation with the Illuminati?

Even if it is fairly easy to establish that Leary was Illuminati, that still leaves the third question: why should you care about Leary’s Illuminati affiliation? The reason you should care about Leary’s Illuminati affiliation is because he set into motion events that continue to reverberate throughout our society.

You have to keep in mind that Leary was attempting to get as many people as possible to take LSD. He even went as far as to advocate that college students should be required to take LSD as part of their curriculum. Also keep in mind that Leary was not the crackpot his opponents make him out to be. He was actually an accomplished member of the psychological community who lectured at prestigious institutions such as Harvard. There was a realistic possibility that Leary could have been successful in making LSD a required part of higher education. This would have resulted in massive social changes as LSD is a potent drug that can radically alter a person’s personality, even after one trip. Leary was attempting to initiate what would have arguably been the most significant revolution in human history.

The war on drugs started by the US government was in large part a direct response to Leary and the sixties counterculture. From the perspective of the US government, Leary was a subversive person who was attempting to corrupt the populace through drugs, despite the fact that he knew they were in the process of being outlawed. From Leary’s perspective, he was a law-abiding citizen who was being persecuted by the government for using his first amendment rights to practice his religion [6].

I do not agree with a lot of the things Leary was trying to do, but I have to admit that he made some good points about how the US government was behaving hypocritically during the war on drugs. The US government was cracking down on LSD on the grounds that it was dangerous, despite the fact that the CIA was using LSD on unwitting US citizens for the purpose of developing methods of mind control. [7]

The CIA’s mind control experiments are not a minor issue, in fact they are one of the greatest scandals that has ever rocked the US government and scientific community. These mind control experiments were so horrific that most good people have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that they occurred. As a scientific researcher I am reminded of this scandal on a regular basis. Today’s scientists are required to gain approval from an independent third party of scientists, known as an “institutional review board,” before they are allowed to perform experiments on people and or animals. The purpose of IRBs is to ensure that scientists are behaving in an ethical manner when they perform these experiments. It is unfortunate, but many young scientists do not realize that these standards were implemented as a direct response to the abuses that were occurring within CIA-funded experiments.

The conflict started between Leary and the US government is at what I consider to be a stalemate. LSD is still outlawed and carries a stiff penalty for those caught in possession of it. However, despite dying in 1996, Leary’s legacy continues to live on. For those who desire to use it, LSD is widely available from underground networks of drug dealers. I cannot say that my experience is normal, but as a US adult from the conservative Midwest I have been offered LSD on multiple occasions, despite never expressing any overt interest in using it. My point is that despite it being outlawed, one could argue that Leary still accomplished his goal of making LSD widely available to the masses.

But even this is not telling the full story. There is a certain culture in these underground networks of drug dealers that is markedly different from that seen for other drugs. Dealers for drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine tend to be motivated purely for profit and show little remorse for the negative effects these drugs may have on the lives of their clients. Dealers for LSD tend to be different in that there is an ideological motivation behind their drug dealing. They see themselves as crusaders who are heroically standing up to the corrupt establishment by distributing enlightenment to the masses. Whether or not they are actually improving the lives of their clients is another topic of discussion.


LSD dealers have markedly different appearance and mannerisms from that seen with other drug dealers.

Aside from that, the culture of LSD dealers tends to have a strong Illuminati flavor, albeit without much of the traditional orthodoxy. I suspect that there is a large degree of overlap between the people from these networks and the clientele from the New Age section of your local bookstore. One thing I find interesting is that prior generations of Illuminati justified their use of secret societies on the grounds that they were being persecuted by the establishment for their religious beliefs. Today’s Illuminati seem to be following in that tradition by operating in underground drug dealing networks. They may have shed the orthodoxy seen in prior generations, but these networks are still secret societies.

I believe that Leary’s legacy continues to live on in ways outside of underground drug dealing networks. This is a topic of discussion for another day, but the transhumanist movement seems to have picked up where Leary left off. They have further shed the traditional Illuminati orthodoxy while still pursuing the overall goal of elevating the human species to god status. However, unlike Leary they do not want to accomplish this by using drugs, but by using technology to transform humanity into a new species.

In Conclusion

Hopefully I have succeeded in educating people about the Illuminati and transhumanism. More importantly, I hope I have cleared up some of the numerous misconceptions about the Illuminati. In my opinion these are two of the most important issues facing humanity, so I find it troubling that they are not being discussed in any mainstream forums.

I know that this article has low production values, but understand that this is the best job I could do with my limited resources. My intention behind writing this article is to try and eventually open these issues up for discussion in mainstream academic forums. I believe that academia is one of the few places that has the resources to properly evaluate these issues. My fear is that if they are not properly evaluated, the stalemate between Leary and the government could flare up again in a destructive manner, except this time it would involve transhumanism, which is far more potent than the drugs Leary was promoting.


[1] Crowley, A. (1904). The Book of the Law (also called “Liber AL vel Legis”).

[2] Sutin, L. (2000). Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley.

[3] Barrit, B. The Road of Excess: A Psychedelic Autobiography.

[4] Leary, T. (1972). Confessions of a Hope Fiend.

[5] Wilson, R.A. (1977). Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati.

[6] Greenfield, R. (2006). Timothy Leary: A Biography.

[7] Marks, J. (1979). The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control.

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