To explore the impossible boundaries of the mind, hidden from consciousness, author and intellectual Aldous Huxley began experimenting with psychoactive substances. He said that in the universe there are things surpassing human understanding, and that human senses don't process said information in order to “protect us.” Hallucinogenic drugs tore down these protective barriers to reveal reality as it truly is. This metaphor was taken from William Blake who wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”
Huxley used LSD as a tool. While it didn't reveal any secrets of the external universe, at least it allowed him to leave behind a book that was based on this belief. He was far from being a hippy; in fact he discussed the hypocrisy of “love and peace.” Although he would not see this in the future, his writings would inform some debased human beings, who would worship his literature in a somewhat corrupted fashion and take the drug to far more unscrupulous ends.
Much of the hippy movement was not as idealistic as it is perceived in the popular imagination. Following Huxley's lead, in the fifties and sixties hundreds of fans would use the excuse of “opening their minds” to commit illicit acts and, in fact, lose all contact with reason and reality on exorbitant amounts of acid. So who is to blame, the guru or the followers?
Once the doors of perception were opened, the moment known as the so-called “Summer of Love” arrived in history, wearing a disguise of brotherhood and companionship. From the beginning, the reputation of the hippy movement was questioned simply because drugs were a constant feature. One way to tell the story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is to say it was made up of merely a group of young junkies; however, it was a fanatic mafioso cult that became the biggest drug trafficking organization in the United States, to the point that they were at one time listed by the CIA as public enemy number one.
“The story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is an example of human decadence that was despised by hippies. They wanted peace, while in the dark they introduced illegal substances and promoted armed violence.”
Their story began with a group of young Californians that were dedicated to armed robbery. Some were surfers and other bikers, without any goals in life. One day, the leader of the group, John Griggs, assaulted a Hollywood producer who had brought among his belongings a considerable amount of LSD. John and his closest friends went to the forest to try it and to achieve a mystical experience. The drug altered their perception of reality, and they experienced the biggest epiphany of their young lives. Huxley was right: there were hidden things in the universe and drugs were needed to perceive them.
This is how Griggs and his friends developed a psychoactive cult at unconscious levels. Their philosophy followed a formula: they needed LSD to enter into contact with the universe, and since the drug is prohibited, then they would have to smuggle it themselves. Here is where the mysticisms went beyond the limits of experimentation and transformed into common drug trafficking.
In the book Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love and Acid to the World by Nicholas Schou, the author goes into detail about the organization and how it evolved into a religious sect. Schou’s research shows that through LSD, bikers and surfers joined the hippy movement. A short time later, these new junkies formed the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which in 1965 became the Church of Eternal Love.
That same year, the psychedelic drug was prohibited in the US, and to maintain with their cult they began a drug trafficking network across the country. The Brotherhood became the most important organization for the importation and distribution of LSD and hashish on the west coast. At that point the CIA named them the "hippy mafia."
For more than twelve years, the fanatical group consumed psychoactive drugs with the excuse of wanting to further open the doors of perception. They were Aldous Huxley's secret soldiers, false acolytes of their own religion that only promoted addiction. Finally in 1972, the activities of the Brotherhood culminated in an anti-drug raid in California, showing once again that the hippy movement lacked a solid ideology and only sought a pretext to take drugs.
The story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is an example of human decadence so much despised by other hippies. They wanted both peace, while out of sight they distributed illicit substances and used violence. In the end, it all culminated in individualism and indifference towards the social conflicts of the time where the true hippies stood on the front lines.
Translated by Joseph Reiter