"The Farm", Sasha, & Ann
On an unassuming hill in Lafayette, California, on the grounds of a former almond orchard, sits a 200-square-foot chemistry lab unlike any other in the world. These four walls housed the intrepid research and playful explorations of Alexander T. “Sasha” Shulgin, a chemist now credited with creating over 150 novel psychedelic compounds. With classical music on the radio, he often worked well into the night next to a crackling fireplace, pondering chemicals with known and unknown properties—existing always in the possibility that something new could arrive in his mind that, when created by his own hands and ingested by a human subject, would illuminate a new facet of our humanity.
Anyone who has been to the lab cannot help but notice the infectious look on the faces of the newcomers. The alchemist’s workplace, with its corner of dusty brown bottles, glimmering beakers, and slivers of psychedelic cacti, has a strange beauty. It exists both as a symbol of independent research and freedom of thought and as a living, changing space where Sasha’s collaborators at the Alexander Shulgin Research Institute follow the breadcrumbs he left behind by exploring the potential of the substances he invented and continuing to develop new compounds.
The scientific discoveries made here would be enough to secure its place as a historic and hallowed site, but the land reverberates with a particular warmth—what some call Shulgin-ness—that would never have existed if Sasha had not entered into his greatest collaboration: a decades-long partnership with his wife, Ann Shulgin. Ann was a writer, artist, and fellow adventurer of the spirit who authored one of the earliest guidelines on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, which she used as a tool in her work as a Jungian lay therapist.
At the Farm, Ann and Sasha tasted new compounds in thousands of psychedelic journeys, logging meticulous trip reports of their effects and convening a research group of their most trusted friends to do the same. Through cautious protocols and an abundance of love, they kept themselves and their friends safe in uncharted waters, and built a community of chemists, psychiatrists, and brilliant thinkers who continued to walk up the hill and be changed there. They risked legal repercussions and social sanctions in their conviction to uncover and share the revelatory capacity of psychedelic compounds, publishing their findings and psychedelic recipes in giant tomes—PIHKAL and TIHKAL—with the intention to ripple, to be bigger than themselves. Perhaps this is why you can feel their presence even in their absence there.
The Farm has been a psychedelic gathering place for over forty years, home to the ritual seasonal gatherings that saw such guests as Leonard Pickard, Paul Stamets, Amanda Feilding, and even astronaut Buzz Aldrin. It is an ever-fresh birthplace of new thought and a pilgrimage site for anyone curious about the capacities of the human mind and our ability to heal one another and solve intricate problems through psychedelic experiences. In preserving this place, we acknowledge that we are sitting on the shoulders of the elders who were brave before us, that they made the way for us, and that we will not forget them. To honor the lessons and protocols of Ann and Sasha, the alchemist and the artist, we continue the legacy of the Farm as an extraordinary site of healing and discovery.
Alexander T. (“Sasha”) Shulgin was a visionary chemist credited with creating over 150 new psychedelic compounds and with identifying the unique psychological properties of MDMA, well-known as the prototype for a class of drugs named “empathogens” (sometimes called “entactogens”) for their abilities to generate feelings of empathy, compassion, and enhanced communication with other individuals. He is known to some as the “Godfather of Ecstasy” for being the first person to describe MDMA’s therapeutic potential. For years, his DEA license allowed him to work with scheduled psychedelics in his small, independent laboratory and after he surrendered his license in the wake of increasing publicity about his work, he continued to invent new compounds. Each time he created a compound with a seemingly psychedelic nature, he first tested its effects by ingesting it himself.
“That very first taste. That very first amount you take has an extraordinary feeling of excitement and an extraordinary feeling of fear coupled into the same phenomenon. It’s a marvelous combination.” - Alexander T. (“Sasha”) Shulgin
Ann Shulgin was a writer, artist, and Jungian lay therapist who was among the first to use MDMA and 2C-B with clients in psychedelic-assisted therapy. As part of this work, she authored an early, crucial set of guidelines for working with MDMA in therapeutic settings, leaving an indelible mark upon the history of psychotherapy. She was passionate about exploring the exiled and repressed parts of oneself through the concept of the Shadow and, along with Sasha, conducted psychedelic experiments by ingesting novel and existing chemicals and cataloging their effects in trip reports. She co-authored the cult classics, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, making public the recipes for hundreds of psychedelic compounds and the love story at the center of their community, evidence of their work as not just a matter of the mind but also of the heart.
"These are not escapist tools, despite the pleasure one can feel and the wonderment. These do open the doors to your own terra incognita." - Ann Shulgin
The Shulgin Mission
Our mission is to preserve “The Farm”—Ann & Sasha’s home and groundbreaking chemistry lab—as a site for education, research, and programs and events that promote cross-pollination of disciplines within the field of psychedelics.