The Rose of Paracelsus: On Secrets & Sacraments is something of a rare find when it comes to books on psychedelics. Described by its author, former Harvard and UCLA researcher William Leonard Pickard, as a “literary experiment,” his 2016 debut is an intriguing exploration of altered states of consciousness from an esoteric perspective. The book highlights spiritual and altruistic motives for manufacturing LSD, and should be of particular interest to those looking to understand the drug’s continuing presence in our culture.

After four years of writing and editing, an “Advance Reader’s Copy” of the book was finally unveiled in December 2015. Dense like an Art Nouveau painting, The Rose of Paracelsus is a complex work that demands careful reading. In fact, the author himself encourages the reader to approach the material in a slow manner. While psychedelic literature has been blessed with a wide range of literary expressions, few books have been as artistically ambitious as Pickard’s 655 page volume.

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