Joe Atwill and Jan Irvin – Manufacturing the Deadhead


In 2012 Jan Irvin made an important discovery.  In the course of re-publishing The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by the Dead Sea Scrolls scholar John Allegro,[1] Irvin had been researching the letters of one of Allegro’s most prominent critics, Gordon Wasson, at various university archives (including Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and the Hoover Institute at Stanford) when he came across primary documents – letters actually written by Wasson – showing that he had worked with the CIA.[2]

Though Gordon Wasson was both chairman for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Vice President of Public Relations for J.P. Morgan Bank, he is most famous as the individual who “discovered”, or more accurately popularized, magic mushrooms. An article in Life magazine described fantastic visions and experiences Wasson claimed to have had while under their influence (see Life, May 13, 1957 – Seeking the Magic Mushroom). Wasson’s claims were the first description of the effects of psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms presented to the general public.

Irvin saw troubling implications in his discovery. He was aware, of course, of the CIA’s infamous Project MK-ULTRA, in which the organization had given LSD to unsuspecting U.S. citizens. He also knew of the many conspiracy theories claiming that the government has been somehow involved with the creation of the ‘drug culture’. He was also aware of Dave McGowan’s research on the drug and music movement that had come out of Laurel Canyon in the 1960‘s, which showed that many of the ‘rock idols’ who created it were the children of members of military intelligence.[3]

So the fact that a member of the CIA had also been involved with the discovery of Psilocybe mushrooms fit into a large collection of troubling linkages between the American government and the drug culture that emerged during the 1960’s. Irvin decided to do further research into the government’s involvement with the ‘psychedelic movement’.  An obvious question he hoped to answer was: Had Wasson been somehow involved with MK-ULTRA?

During this research, Irvin came in contact with another scholar, Joe Atwill, author of Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Atwill’s research into the origins of Christianity had led him to conclude that Rome had invented the religion. Further, he believed that the Caesars had deliberately brought about the Dark Ages. They had used Christianity as a mind control device to give slavery a religious context intended to make it difficult for serfs to rebel.  Like Irvin, Atwill had become suspicious of the U.S. government’s many connections to the psychedelic movement, which reminded him of the Caesars’ intellectual debasing of their population to help bring on the Dark Ages.

When comparing the results of their research, Irvin and Atwill developed a theory about the origin of the psychedelic movement of the 1960’s: The ‘counterculture’ had been developed by elements within the U.S. government and banking establishment as part of a larger plan to bring about a new Dark Age; or, as it was marketed to potential victims, an “archaic revival.”[4]

In 1992 Terence McKenna published in his book The Archaic Revival:

These things are all part of the New Age, but I have abandoned that term in favor of what I call the Archaic Revival—which places it all in a better historical perspective. When a culture loses its bearing, the traditional response is to go back in history to find the previous “anchoring model.” An example of this would be the breakup the medieval world at the time of the Renaissance. They had lost their compass, so they went back to Greek and Roman models and created classicism—Roman law, Greek aesthetics, and so on.[5] [emphasis added]

~ Terence McKenna

In another chapter regarding his timewave theory, he states:

Within the timewave a variety of “resonance points” are recognized. Resonance points can be thought of as areas of the wave that are graphically the same as the wave at some other point within the wave, yet differ from it through having different quantified values. For example, if we chose an end date or zero date of December 21, 2012 A.D., then we find that the time we are living through is in resonance with the late Roman times and the beginning of the Dark Ages in Europe.

Implicit in this theory of time is the notion that duration is like a tone in that one must assign a moment at which the damped oscillation is finally quenched and ceases. I chose the date December 21, 2012 A.D., as this point because with that assumption the wave seemed to be in the “best fit” configuration with regard to the recorded facts of the ebb and flow of historical advance into connectedness. Later I learned to my amazement that this same date, December 21, 2012, was the date assigned as the end of their calendrical cycle by the classic Maya, surely one of the world’s most time-obsessed cultures. [6] ~ Terence McKenna

Notice that the date McKenna chose – 12-21-2012 – was earlier falsely claimed to be the date of the Apocalypse foreseen in the Mayan calendar by professor and CIA agent Michael Coe in his 1966 book The Maya[7], although it was changed by McKenna in 1993 from Coe’s 2011 date to December 21, 2012.[8] Moreover, McKenna sees this date as resonating with the beginning of the Dark Ages. If, as the authors believe, the psychedelic movement was part of a general plan to usher in a new Dark Age, this suggests that McKenna’s promotion of a drug-fueled “Archaic Revival” was also a part of the plan.

 I guess am a soft Dark Ager. I think there will be a mild dark age. I don’t think it will be anything like the dark ages that lasted a thousand years […][9]

~ Terence McKenna

Most today assume that the CIA and the other intelligence-gathering organizations of the U.S. government are controlled by the democratic process. They therefore believe that MK-ULTRA’s role in creating the psychedelic movement was accidental “blowback”. Very few have even considered the possibility that the entire “counterculture” was social engineering planned to debase America’s culture – as the name implies. The authors believe, however, that there is compelling evidence that indicates that the psychedelic movement was deliberately created. The purpose of this plan was to establish a neo-feudalism by the debasing of the intellectual abilities of young people to make them as easy to control as the serfs of the Dark Ages. One accurate term used for the individuals who were victims of this debasing was “Deadhead,” which is an equivocation for a “dead mind” or “a drugged, thoughtless person”.

Aldous Huxley predicted that drugs would one day become a humane alternative to “flogging” for rulers wishing to control “recalcitrant subjects.” He wrote in a letter to his former student George Orwell in 1949:

But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. [emphasis added] [10]

~ Aldous Huxley

Decades later, one of the CIA’s own MK-ULTRA researchers, Dr. Louis Jolyon West, while citing Huxley had this to say on the matter:

The role of drugs in the exercise of political control is also coming under increasing discussion. Control can be through prohibition or supply. The total or even partial prohibition of drugs gives the government considerable leverage for other types of control. An example would be the selective application of drug laws permitting immediate search, or “no knock” entry, against selected components of the population such as members of certain minority groups or political organizations. But a government could also supply drugs to help control a population. This method, foreseen by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World (1932), has the governing element employing drugs selectively to manipulate the governed in various ways.

To a large extent the numerous rural and urban communes, which provide a great freedom for private drug use and where hallucinogens are widely used today, are actually subsidized by our society. Their perpetuation is aided by parental or other family remittances, welfare, and unemployment payments, and benign neglect by the police. In fact, it may be more convenient and perhaps even more economical to keep the growing numbers of chronic drug users (especially of the hallucinogens) fairly isolated and also out of the labor market, with its millions of unemployed. To society, the communards with their hallucinogenic drugs are probably less bothersome-and less expensive-if they are living apart, than if they are engaging in alternative modesof expressing their alienation, such as active, organized, vigorous political protest and dissent. […]

The hallucinogens presently comprise a moderate but significant portion of the total drug problem in Western society. The foregoing may provide a certain frame of reference against which not only the social but also the clinical problems created by these drugs can be considered.[11]

~ Louis Jolyon West

The idea of drugs for control seems to be an ancient one. Italian professor Piero Camporesi, writing on Medieval Italy in his book Bread of Dreams, says:

 Adulterated breads had been put into circulation by the untori of Public Health: criminal attacks orchestrated by the ‘provisionary judges’ who were supposed to oversee the well-balanced provisioning of the public-square.

On the 21st, a Sunday, with Monday approaching, Master … [blank in the manuscript] Forni, Judge of provisions in the square of Modena, was arrested, along with the bakers, for having had forty sacks of bay leaf ground to be put into the wheat flour to make bread for the square, where it caused the poverty to those who brought it to worsen, so that for two days there were many people sick enough to go crazy, and during this time they could not work or help their families.[xii]

Camporesi later continues:

 It would be wrong to suppose that one must wait for the arrival of eighteenth-century capitalism, or even of imperialism, in order to see the birth of the problem of the mass spreading of opium derivatives (first of morphine and then, today, of heroin) used to dampen the frenzy of the masses and lead them back – by means of dreams – to the ‘reason’ desired by the groups in power. The opium war against China, the Black Panthers ‘broken’ by drugs, and the ‘ebbing’ of the American and European student movements (supposing that hallucinogenic drugs were involved in the latter, as some believe), are the most commonly used examples – we don’t know with what relevance – to demonstrate how ‘advanced’ capitalism and imperialism have utilized mechanisms which induced collective dreaming and weakened the desire for renewal by means of visionary ‘trips’, in order to impose their will.

The pre-industrial age, too, even if in a more imprecise, rough and ‘natural’ manner, was aware of political strategies allied to medical culture, whether to lessen the pangs of hunger or to limit the turmoil in the streets. Certainly we could laugh at interventions which are so mild as to appear almost surreal, amateurish or improvised; but we must not forget that both in theory and in practice the ‘treatment of the poor man’, cared for with sedatives and hallucinogenic drugs, corresponded to a thought-out medico-political design.[xiii]

~ Piero Camporesi

A key element in the creation of America’s drug counterculture was “The Grateful Dead”, a rock band that passed out LSD to people attending its concerts in the 1960’s.  At their concerts listeners were encourage to take LSD and to “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” An expression that instructed the LSD takers to abandon the modern world and join what McKenna coined the “archaic revival”.













Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *