Welcome to the second part of this LSD Chronicles entry examining the occult dabblings of the CIA and how they relate to the Company's experiments with LSD. In the first part of this series I noted the origins of the CIA's concept of 'psychochemical warfare' in the Ahnenerbe, the research of arm of Nazi Germany's notorious SS. Eerily, the CIA's ventures into mind control was initiated on April 20, 1950. April 20th was Hitler's birthday and a holiday in Nazi Germany. There are some rather unnerving implications in the name of the CIA's first mind control project, as shall now be examined. That project was called BLUEBIRD.
|the logo of the Ahnenerbe|
Historian Peter Levenda presents a rather compelling explanation for the name BLUEBIRD in the first book of his great Sinister Forces trilogy. Levenda argues that the BLUEBIRD moniker was inspired by a play called The Blue Bird by Belgian playwright and poet Maurice Maeterlinck. Maeterlinck, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, was quite popular in the first half of the twentieth century and his play inspired the phrase "the blue bird of happiness" then in use. Levenda believes that the name of Project BLUEBIRD, and possibly much more, was inspired by this play.
"In this play, first performed in the Russian language in Moscow on September 30, 1908 and later in English in London and New York, two children set off on a search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. This search leads them on many adventures --a kind of initiate quest for the Grail --and the author was startled to realize that many of the motifs of Maeterlinck's play are repeated in the CIA's search for a Manchurian Candidate, a search that began with Project BLUEBIRD. It is this strange set of correspondences that leads the author to the opinion that Sheffield Edwards's agenda itself was more profound than simply a search for a truth serum or a psychological defense against it, or that at least Edwards understood the implications of what he had set out to do in BLUEBIRD...
"The story, which begins on Christmas Eve, involves two children --Tyltyl and his younger sister Mytyl --who set out on a quest to find the Blue Bird of Happiness. Impoverished children of a woodcutter, who live across from a great house with very rich children, they understand that they are too poor to receive Christmas presents that year. They go to sleep with the lamp out. Then, in the middle of the night, a light shines through their house from outside, the lamp lights itself, and the children awake... There is a knock at the door, and an old woman --who later introduces herself as the Fairy Berylune --asks them if they have 'the grass that sings, or the bird that is blue.' It appears that Berylune has a sick daughter who will not get well unless the Blue Bird of Happiness is found. The children, eager to help, then set off on a quest for the mysterious Bird... and to visit their dead grandparents, with the Fairy's help. in order to visit the dead, however, they have to pass through the Land of Memory which is on the way to the Blue Bird.
"Tyltyl is given a magic hat. On this hat is a diamond, set squarely in the center. If he passes it, he will see 'the Soul of Things'; if he turns it to the right, he sees the past; to the left, the future; and as long as he wears the hat, it is invisible.
"Those who read Eastern mysticism will no doubt grasp at once that the diamond is the 'adamanite substance' and its position on the hat is a reference to the Third Eye, which, when opened, gives the devotee access to secret information and occult powers. The search for the Blue Bird will give Tyltyl these powers as he walks through the Land of Memory, the Place of Night, a Graveyard, and an enchanted Forest, meeting his dead grandparents on the way. Eventually, of course, the children arrive back at their home on Christmas morning where they discover that the Blue Bird of Happiness has been there all along; Maeterlinck's homely moral, which was embraced by many at the time. Few sought to delve any deeper into the tale to discover the esoteric elements of necromancy and treasure-quest. That the children --virgins --are the idea seers according to occult texts of the Middle Ages... goes unnoticed."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 188-189)
There's a lot to take in here. Tyltyl's hat, with its reference to the Third Eye, eerily predates the psychedelic counterculture of the latter half of the twentieth century that believed such substances opened said eye, for instance. The Third Eye of the hat could be seen as symbolic of a substance or technique that opens it. Certainly drugs are not the only option --the CIA found that both hypnosis and remote viewing could be used as well, but more on that later. The drug angle is, however, further reinforced by the appearance of the Fairy Berylune. Fairies have a very long association with mushrooms, some of which produce hallucinations akin to LSD, as chronicled before here. Some may think I'm stretching, but remember Maeterlinck had a known interest in the occult and at times worked this into his plays and poems. If Levenda is correct, and the play The Blue Bird inspired the name of Project BLUEBIRD, and an occult interpretation was behind this inspiration, then this is a rather unsettling foundation for the CIA's ventures into the human mind.
Veteran conspiracy researchers have probably already noted the similarities Maeterlinck's play has to an alleged CIA project known as Monarch. An obscene amount of blogs out there claiming to expose this operation have already written extensively on this project so I shall be brief. It is alleged that Project Monarch uses an elaborate combination of drugs and ritualistic abuse against children that eventually leads to multiple personalities. These alternative personalities are then trained to become spies, drug mules, prostitutes and assassins for the powers that be.
It seems rather obvious at this point that Project Monarch is one of the great hoaxes played on the alternative media by the US Intelligence community. I have read rather extensively on the CIA's ventures into mind control and I have yet to see a single credible source give any credence to Project Monarch. Don't misunderstand me --the CIA most certainly did invest a great deal of time and money into exploring the possibilities of a programmed assassin or 'Manchurian Candidate' in various projects, but nothing solid has yet to emerge concerning Monarch.
But even though Project Monarch is almost surely an elaborate piece of disinformation does not mean that there are not a few grains of truth hidden in the conspiracy theories. A common theme many Monarch proponents proclaim is that the physical abuse the children in this project are subjected is administered along the lines of occult rituals. Satanic ritual abuse has long been linked to Monarch narratives. If Levenda is correct and Project BLUEBIRD was partly inspired by an esoteric interpretation of The Blue Bird then does this also mean that the occult played heavily into then CIA's future mind control programs? What's more, was some type of ritualistic sex also employed in conjunction with drugs?
Based on my research, this is almost certainly the case --the CIA was as riddled with occult dabblings at the height of the Cold War as the Ahnenerbe was in the midst of the second World War. But before examining the more overt occult projects of the CIA and other US Intelligence agencies, let us first consider the major mind control projects themselves.
Many with even a passing knowledge of the CIA's mind control ventures are aware of the big three --Project BLUEBIRD, Project ARTICHOKE, and MK-ULTRA. It is generally assumed that all three projects were the same thing and that the CIA kept changing the names in order to cover their tracks. This is not, however, the case. All three projects were separate and at times in conflict with one and other. Sidney Gottlieb, the TSS man who oversaw MK-ULTRA would insistent in 1977 during a Congressional hearing that ARTICHOKE and BLUEBIRD were under other authorities.
"Project names like ARTICHOKE and Bluebird have been mentioned in the press, associated with my name. My remembrance is that project ARTICHOKE was managed by the Office of Security and that I had no direct or indirect responsibility for it, although I became aware of its existence and general nature over the years. Project Bluebird, as I remember it, was also an Office of Security concept, possibly never actually realized, which later evolved into a TSS-sponsored activity looking into brainwashing, and ultimately included the Society of the Investigation of Human Ecology."Obviously there was a great amount of overlap between these projects, which has further added to the confusion. Many researchers, including Albarelli and John Marks lean towards BLUEBIRD 'evolving' into ARTICHOKE, but this is not certain. What is certain is that ARTICHOKE and MK-ULTRA were separate projects that operated at the same time of each other, contrary to the common perception that ARTICHOKE became MK-ULTRA. There were other projects involved in mind control research as well.
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, pg. 569)
"In 1964, MKULTRA became MKSEARCH, with all active sub-projects carried over. The next year, the Human Ecology Fund was dissolved. According to the CIA, no files from MKSEARCH are available because most, if not all, were destroyed in 1973 along with most MKULTRA records. MKNAOMI, the joint CIA-SOD Camp Detrick project, operated until 1970. Former SOD researchers say that some MKNAOMI files were maintained, but nobody, including anyone at the CIA or Army, will disclose where they are."There was also the mysterious Project MK-DELTA as well.
(ibid, pg. 307)
"Prior to approving MKULTRA, the Agency, under the codename MKDELTA, had already embarked on some research in the development and use of biological and chemical weapons. The name MKDELTA, however, was not retired and it continued to be used to track the operational use of MKULTRA techniques and weapons. Nearly all MKDELTA files, along with those of MKULTRA, were destroyed in 1973."
(ibid, pg. 282)
Given how much of the documentation of these projects has been destroyed it is likely we will never know the true relationship between all of them. From what has survived we can determine that there was a thoroughly occult aspect to many of these projects that went well beyond the use of psychochemical drugs. The early CIA had quite an obsession with the occult as Albarelli makes clear.
"Several heavily redacted CIA documents reveal a keen interest in the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon's Temple, and the 'peculiar apparatus reportedly witnessed by Ezekiel. 'Ezekiel's Vision' is a biblical passage extremely important to Jewish mystics. It has also long been a source of fascination and mystery to any in the UFO community. Biblical passages about the 'rock at Horeb' led the CIA to investigate the science of dousing to locate 'concealed springs and water' and 'other hidden sources of valuable natural resources...
"Another document speaks of 'the need to be ever vigilant in our pursuits' and the 'need to verify whether these claims are real or are embellishments that have taken on a life of their own over the decades.' One fragment outlined the possible use of cats as couriers because they 'are highly magnetized animals' and could be utilized for the covert delivery of unidentified items.
"For some time, TSS researchers were especially interested in the work of psychic Edgar Cayce. According to one document, in the early 1960s, consultants acting covertly were employed to spend time at the Association for Research and Enlightenment, housed in Cayce's Virginia Beach, Virginia headquarters. Related to these esoteric and occult explorations is another CIA-requested task... : 'an examination and explanation of certain of the Masonic designs and architectural incorporation into the Federal City.' Among those listed for examination were 'the Capitol complex, the zodiacs of the Library of Congress, Meridian Hill Park, and the recently  installed Mellon Fountain.'
"... the work of Dr. J.B. Rhine at Duke University's Parapsychology Laboratory in North Carolina was of special interest to the CIA's Security Research staff. One former CIA official has reported that the writings of Martin Ebon on parapsychology and the paranormal were likewise of special interest to the Agency, and that many of Ebon's books originated in studies conducted by the CIA's SRS and TSS branches. Ebon wrote over twenty-five books on subjects such as life after death, communication with the dead, ghosts, and exotic ESP. Born in 1917 in Hamburg, Germany, he emigrated to the United States in 1938 and worked as managing editor of the Foreign Language Division of the Overseas News Agency. During World War II, Ebon joined the staff of the U.S. Office of War Information where he became an expert on the Soviet Union. After the war, he became closely aligned with the Parapsychology Foundation of New York, and was executive editor of the International Journal on Parapsychology.
"An examination of Ebon's extensive writings reveals that he was nearly always at the forefront of paranormal studies, an that often his writings paralleled the secret research of the CIA. Ebon has written authoritatively about Faraday cages, ESP, telepathy, bio-energy, hypnosis, remote viewing (well before it became all the rage), electromagnetic waves, and out-of-body experiences. In one of his books he revealed details of a three-year CIA program designed to make 'a serious effort' to advance ESP research 'in the direction of reliable applications to the practical problems of intelligence.'"
(ibid, pgs. 264-265)
I've already tackled a few of these subjects: More information on the CIA's ventures into hypnosis can be found here and here; for CIA and military pursuits into remote viewing, check here and here. These are just to two of CIA's more arcane endeavors --As noted above, there were a rather wide range of occult and paranormal topics CIA invested a considerable amount of time and money into. As such, there are most certainly strong shades of the SS and its research arm, the Ahnenerbe. I've often wondered if elements of the Ahnenerbe were conscripted into the academic pursuits of CIA. If the CIA had use for thousands, possibly tens of thousands of former SS men in various clandestine operations then is it out of the range of possibilities they also made use of the 'expertise' of the Ahnenerbe?
Regardless, even the CIA's early ventures into mind controlling drugs were framed within the context of the occult. As noted above, the very concept of 'psychochemical' warfare has its roots in the psychedelic research conducted by the Ahnenerbe on behalf of the Nazi regime. There's even a possibility that LSD itself was commissioned by the Nazis, as I speculated before here.
This connection with the occult and mind controlling drugs would continue throughout the early years of the CIA (some would argue it never really ended). The CIA's assassination manual features an introduction describing one of the myths surrounding Hassan-i-Sabbah, the legendary founder of the Medieval Islamic sect known as the Hashshashins. They seemingly believed that he had used drugs to create an army of programmed killers.
"A 1952 draft version of the manual describes a man named Hasan-Dan-Sabah who used the drug hashish to 'induce motivation in his followers, who were assigned to carry out political and other murders, usually at the cost of their lives.' Hasan-Dan-Sabah's credo with his closet initiates and skilled assassins was: 'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.' States the CIA's manual, 'Assassination is a term thought to be derived from 'Hashish,' a drug similar to marijuana.' it is certainly intriguing, for a number of reasons, that the Agency included this reference in its assassination manual. First and foremost is the nexus among Hasan-Dan-Sabah (also known as The Old Man of the Mountain_, Hassan-I-Sabbah, an Iranian born in 1056 near modern-day Tehran, and the Kinghts Templar, a legendary group that nearly all of the CIA's founders and earliest employees openly admired and sought to emulate."
(ibid, pgs. 263-264)
"On the esoteric side again, one MKULTRA project, funded in 1957 through the Human Ecology Fund... The MKULTRA program funded drug experiments conducted by Alesiter Crowley, a controversial and some would say depraved, practitioner of the 'black arts,' and considered a 'high priest' of occultism. The World War II 'truth drug' research conducted by Stanley Lovell's OSS department had briefly examined Crowley's experiments with drugs, but had discarded them because OSS scientists found Crowley 'simply to difficult to fathom.'
"Nonetheless the CIA took a second look. Here it is worth noting that Crowley, according to writer Richard B. Spence, was a lifelong intelligence operative for the British government... what seemed to attract the CIA's scientific attention was Crowley's use of drugs such as datura, called the 'juice of the Vedic Soma,' and a hallucinogen sometimes called Raziel's Sapphire' that was used by Native Americans in Florida. Crowley variously combined these drugs with sexual practices and wrote of his experiences in lurid detail.
"Apparently, this tied into safe house experiments that George White, Dr. James Hamilton, and John Gittinger were conducting, first in New York and then in San Francisco. Gittinger would say years later:
" 'Yes, we were interested in the combination of certain drugs with sex acts... we looked at the various pleasure positions used by prostitutes and others... this well before anything like the Kama Sutra had become widely popular. Some of the women, the professionals, we used were very adept at these practices...'
"...This would have fit neatly with Crowley's practice of 'sexual magick' and drugs. Grant writes that Crowley 'used them [drugs] all in his research for the mysterious elixir potent to unseal the gates of the invisible world. He also wished to compare the states of consciousness induced by their use with those resulting from madness. obsession and mystical exaltation...'
"Another fascinating SIHE (Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology) project, funded through MKULTRA, involved 'analysis and assessment' of Dr. Carl Jung's 'phylogenetic unconscious,' later called the 'collective unconscious.' The CIA appeared especially interested in the 'autochthonous revival of ancient myths and signs' in the minds of individuals unaware of and uneducated about such ideas and theories. Again, it appeared that the drugs LSD and mescaline were somehow linked to the project, but how, specifically, is not revealed in the scant materials documenting the project..."
(ibid, pgs. 288-290)
|Crowley (top) and Jung (bottom), two influences on the CIA?|
These are all very chillings questions to consider. It says much about the early CIA and its eerie overlaps with the SS and Ahnenerbe that these questions must even be asked in the first place. But perhaps the most unsettling question not yet raised is when, or if, these types of projects ended? It is of course impossible to know as many of the CIA's post 1970s records were pretty thoroughly destroyed. We have some inclination of what went on in the early days, but not so much after the late 1960s.
And with these questions, I shall end this piece.