Charles Rammelkamp

Psychedelic

The Canadian psychiatrist, Humphry Osmond,
coined the phrase in 1956 –
over half a century ago, 
but it doesn’t seem that long;
four years after I was born.
Used it in a letter to Aldous Huxley,
the guy to whom Timothy Leary brought acid
on his death bed –
died the day Oswald shot JFK –
so Huxley could die tripping.

Comes from the Greek words
for “mind” and “reveal” –
psykhē and dēlos, the root of which
means “to shine”: dyeu,
which also informs the words “adieu,” “adios,” 
“diety,” “divine” and more. 

Osmond used the word in a scientific paper
only a year later:
“A Review of the Clinical Effects
of Psychotomimetic Agents,”
in which he discussed therapeutic uses
of LSD and mescaline for the mentally ill.

In his 1956 letter,
Huxley had written to Osmond:
“To make this mundane world sublime,
Take half a gram of phanerothyme.”
Osmond wrote back:
“To fathom Hell or soar angelic,
Just take a pinch of psychedelic.”

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