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AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.
AIKEN, John W.

AIKEN, John W.

Explorations in Awareness [and related materials]

A small grouping of materials comprising most of the published output of John W. Aiken, founder with his wife Louisa of The Church of the Awakening. The Aikens hold an interesting if largely overlooked place in the early history of the psychedelics movement. After the tragic deaths of both of their adult sons, the two physicians turned away from their traditional Christian faith to found The Church of the Awakening, which is widely credited as the first non-American Indian church to utilize psychoactive sacraments, primarily peyote and mescaline. The church was incorporated in 1963, and in 1967 engaged in a protracted legal battle in an attempt to receive a religious exemption from FDA drug laws. The court ultimately denied the request, noting that a favorable ruling would have set a dangerous precedent for other psychedelic churches (namely Art Klep’s Neo-American Church) which the government perceived as being out of control.

This grouping including the following three items:

(1) Explorations in Awareness. Socorro, NM: The Church of the Awakening, 1966. First edition. Signature-bound in printed wraps. Octavo, 8 x 5.25 in. 83pp. Signed, dated, and inscribed “with love” by Aiken on the title page. A couple of water spots to the rear cover, else a fine copy.

Aiken’s sole book, which deals with the question of self-realization both generally and with regard to the role that entheogenic substances play in spiritual awakening; a thoughtful approach to mystical drug experience, largely free of the hyperbolic cant that would come to characterize most drug literature of the late-1960s.

(2) An eight-page interview with Aiken, “The Psychedelic Experience as a Religious Sacrament,” off-printed from the periodical Explorations (No. 2, June-July, 1965). Light toning and a crease at the head of the saddle-stapled pamphlet.

(3) The May 1963 issue of Fate magazine (Vol. 16, No. 5; Issue No. 158), which contains a five-page article by Aiken, “Can Drugs Lead you to God?” A near fine copy, with some minor splitting to the paper at base of spine.
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