I began to notice an odd thing: Timothy looked younger than he had in the


Tim led the interviewer to ask about the strange design on his prison uniform. “This is Starseed,” Tim said, proud as a new father. The emblem was that strange miniature infinity design, the nucleotide template formed as DNA imprints messenger-RNA to start a new growth program.

Starseed, however, was not just any nucleotide template. It was the one recently found on a meteor which landed in Orgeuil, France, when scientists examined the rock microscopically. It is the first chemical proof that the mechanism of chemical “intelligence”—the building of life programs (RNA) out of information-codes (DNA)—exists elsewhere in the universe.

Starseed, Leary enthusiastically told the interviewer, proves that cellular intelligence is not exclusively earthly. It therefore increases the probable grounds to believe many forms of life and intelligence exist in space-time.

Other cons in Folsom, after Leary left, picked up the Starseed symbol, carved it on belts, painted it on sketch pads, sewed it on clothing, and formed bull sessions to rap with Hal Olsen (life-termer, illustrator of Leary’s Terra II) and Wayne Benner (“the Tuxedo Bandit” and one unit in Leary’s four-person telepathy experiments) about the possibility of Higher Intelligence and the transcendental implications of modern science.

I meanwhile went on researching Sirius. I was quite moved, as you will readily understand, when I found the following in O.T.O. Grand Master Kenneth Grant’s new book, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God:

Crowley was aware of the possibility of opening the spatial gateways and of admitting an extraterrestrial Current, into the human life-wave…

It is an occult tradition—and Lovecraft gave it persistent utterance in his writings—that some trans-finite and superhuman power is marshalling its forces with intent to invade and take possession of this planet…. This is reminiscent of Charles Fort’s dark hints about a secret society on earth already in contact with cosmic beings and perhaps preparing the way for their advent.1

This sounds more than a little sinister and was especially eerie for me, since I

had already incorporated into Illuminatus a variation on the Lovecraft mythos. Lovecraft has written several stories and novelettes in which the “Cthulhu cult” or some other secret society was aiding the schemes of hostile Aliens; I had attached this theme to the Illuminati as a kind of deadpan put-on and laughed like hell at the thought that some naive readers would be dumb enough to believe it. Now here it was being proclaimed by Kenneth Grant, who alleges that the Ordo Templi Orientis was formed in the 1890s by amalgamating P B. Randolph’s Hermetic Brotherhood of Light with the original Bavarian Illuminati. I thought for the first time (as I was to think again, many times, during the Watergate Scandals), “My God, can’t I invent any preposterous paranoid fantasy that doesn’t have some truth behind it?”

But Grant goes on to cheer us up, if we are willing to trust him at this point:

Crowley dispels the aura of evil with which these authors (Lovecraft and Fort) invest the fact; he prefers to interpret it Thelemically, not as an attack upon human consciousness by an extra-terrestrial and alien entity but as an expansion of consciousness from within, to embrace other stars and to absorb their energies into a system that is thereby enriched and rendered truly cosmic by the process.

And then he adds, quite nonchalantly again, that one star is especially important:

The Order of the Silver Star is thus the Order of the Eye of Set, “the Sun behind the Sun.” … The Silver Star is Sirius.


In October 1973, I finally received permission to begin corresponding with Dr. Leary at Folsom Prison. I started out with a letter about the general philosophical implications of tuning the nervous system to higher fidelity of signal-reception and very carefully did not mention my July 23 experience with Sirius. (I was fairly sure that my July—August impressions that Timothy was doing telepathic experiments had been accurate, but I had no

idea yet that he was attempting interstellar telepathy.) Tim’s answer was full of characteristic humor:

The prison administration is perfect. They act as a Van Allen belt protecting my privacy, screening out distractions … The people they refuse visiting privileges are exactly those people who come to exploit me or whose love for me is flawed.

(My gratitude towards the prison warden must not be misunderstood. They are too possessive and jealous—terrible states to be in. Their love and dependence on me are too restricting. They are terrorized that I might leave them … in the lurch, so to say. This is unhealthy for them…)2

I wrote back, but remained mum about Sirius. Instead, just for the hell of it, I used my official Discordian Society letterhead. The stationery bears the imprint of the Joshua Norton Cabal, this being a Cabal of the Discordian Society located in the Bay Area—other Cabals including the Tactile Temple of Eris Erotic in Los Angeles, the Colorado Encrustation in Denver, the John Dillinger Died for You Society in Chicago, etc. Timothy, however, seems to have thought Joshua Norton Cabal was the name of a living person. Actually, Joshua Norton—or Norton I, as he preferred—was a San Franciscan of the last century who elected himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Bay Area historians still argue as to whether Norton was a psychotic or a clever con man; in any event, he was “humored” by the citizenry of the time and, in effect, lived like an Emperor. As Greg Hill, co- founder of Discordianism, has written, “Everybody understands Mickey Mouse. Few understand Herman Hesse. Hardly anybody understands Einstein. And nobody understands Emperor Norton.” (The Discordian Society, we repeat again, is not a complicated joke disguised as a new religion but really a new religion disguised as a complicated joke.)

Timothy replied:

Dear Bob,

Quick response … to indicate that transmission is working form this galaxy to yours.

Your stationary amazed me… could you explain any of it? Like ODD3140Aft11bii? And who is Joshua Norton Cabal?

Actually the Warden here is very protective of me. He is like a gruff Zen abbot. He doesn’t want me to be bothered with visits or correspondence which would bring me down, slow up my scientific work, etc. As long as I sit in my cell and write science fiction books … everyone is happy.

Yes. G. I. Gurdiieff is my direct successor. I have never doubted that his baraka was transferred to me … perhaps by some intermediary. I love Him and I resonate to his wisdom more than anyone else’s.

Crowley… the coincidences-synchronicities between my life and His are embarrassing. Brian Barritt and I had a visionary experience Easter Sat— Sun in Bou Saada, the Algerian town where C. had his. Etc.

The Libertarian wrote back discussing the odd links between Leary’s work and that of Crowley and Gurdjieff, and mentioning the evidence that the latter two were both taught certain advanced techniques of consciousness expansion by the Sufi lodges of the Near East. He also mentioned that Rasputin might have had the same sort of Sufi training during his wanderings.

Leary’s reply blew his mind:

Dear Bob,

Loved your letter …

Are you in touch with teachings methods, teachers, etc. that transmit Higher Intelligences. That you are totally hooked into?

If so, would you tell me?

I don’t believe in secrets …

I believe that Higher Intelligence can be contacted and have described how to do it and what They transmit, etc. Have you contacted Joanna? Ask Her to send you a copy of Terra II.

You mention that Crowley, G. and Rasputin may have had contact with

some Sufi lodge. Do you think this “lodge” actually exists in the human sense of Masters in the Middle East who send G and C and R out as emissaries? This is the most exciting idea I’ve puzzled over for ten years.

I have seen what can be transmitted through one unit. The one that I belonged to. Where are the others? …

I am amazed that you haven’t contacted Michael Horowitz.

Mike Horowitz, a thin, intense, brilliant guy, is Director of the Fitzhugh Ludlow Memorial Library in San Francisco—a psychopharmacological archive full of rare literature on drugs—scientific, propagandistic (government), literary, or just journalistic. When the Investigator got in touch with Mike Horowitz, he heard, for the first time, about the Starseed Transmissions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leary was shifted from Folsom to Vacaville and communication with him temporarily shorted-out. Once again, I had to apply for permission to correspond, fill out the right forms when they were finally mailed, and then wait for the new warden’s decision. The Libertarian felt increasingly like one of the scholars of the Middle Ages, trying to keep up communication with a fellow investigator while the Holy Inquisition created as much static as possible.

It should be remembered, in evaluating the Starseed signals, that, a few months before this experience, three government psychiatrists testified (at the escape trial) that Dr. Leary was perfectly sane and possessed a high I.Q. Since so many extremists of Left and Right have impugned Dr. Leary’s sanity, it should also be entered in the record that Dr. Wesley Hiler, a staff psychologist at Vacaville, who spoke to Dr. Leary every day (often to ask Tim’s advice) emphatically agrees with that verdict. “Timothy Leary is totally, radiantly sane,” he told me in a 1973 interview.

As recounted in Terra II, during July—August 1973, Dr. Leary had formed a four-person telepathy team in an attempt to contact Higher Intelligences elsewhere in the galaxy. (This was in the middle of the “dog days,” when I was having my first (real or hallucinatory) Contacts with Sirius.) The persons involved were: Dr. Leary and his wife, Joanna; fellow prisoner Wayne Benner; and Wayne’s girlfriend, a journalist who prefers to be known as


The Starseed Transmissions—“hallucinations” or whatever—were received in nineteen bursts, seldom in recognizable English sentences, requiring considerable meditation and discussion between the four Receivers before they could be summarized, eventually, into the following message:

It is time for life on Earth to leave the planetary womb and learn to walk through the stars.

Life was seeded on your planet billions of years ago by nucleotide templates which contained the blueprint for gradual evolution through a sequence of bio-mechanical stages.

The goal of evolution is to produce nervous systems capable of communicating with and returning to the Galactic Network where we, your interstellar parents, await you.

Life on planet Earth has now reached this halfway point, established itself, and evolved through larval mutations and metamorphoses to the seven brain stages.

At this time the voyage home is possible.

Assemble the most intelligent, advanced, courageous of your species, divided equally between men and women. Let every race, nationality, and religion be represented.

You are about to discover the key to immortality in the chemical structure of the genetic code, within which you will find the scripture of life. The time has come for you to accept the responsibility of immortality. It is not necessary for you to die.

You will discover the key to enhanced intelligence within the chemistry of the nervous system. Certain chemicals, used wisely, will enable your nervous system to decipher the genetic code.

All life on your planet is a unity. All life must come home.

Total freedom, responsibility and interspecies harmony will make the voyage possible. You must transcend larval identities of race, culture and nationality. Your only allegiance is to life. The only way you will survive is to make the voyage home.

The Japanese people are the most advanced race on your planet and will give protection to the company.

We are sending a comet to your solar system as a sign that the time has come to look to the stars. When you arrive back home you will be given new instructions and powers. Your sperm ship is the flower of terrestrial life. As soon as the company is formed and the voyage begun, war, poverty, hatred, fear will disappear from your planet and the most ancient prophecies and celestial visions will be realized.


Come home in glory.

In the following months, Comet Kohoutek, as predicted in the Transmissions, arrived in the solar system and sped inward toward the sun, while astronomers announced an unprecedented spectacle and Leary’s disciples chortled at the confirmation.

Then the comet fizzled, leaving us wondering.


In 1904, in one of the most extraordinary magical experiences of his life, Aleister Crowley contacted a Higher Intelligence named Aiwass, who dictated to him The Book of the Law. In what follows, we will show some imagistic links between this Book and the Starseed Signals—but first, a few details about how Crowley received this strange document:

Aleister and his first wife, Rose, were in Cairo, Egypt, when Rose began going spontaneously into trances and muttering “They are waiting for you,” and similar urgent but unintelligible phrases. Crowley did not like this at all, since it is typical of the uncontrolled, quasi-hysterical trances of spiritualist mediums (whom he despised) and lacked the elements of willed concentration and rational control that he demanded of his magick experiments. Nonetheless, despite his attempts to banish the phenomenon, it kept coming back, and finally, in one of Rose’s trances, Crowley set a series of tests for the alleged communicating entity. He asked Rose, for instance, to describe the aura of the being, and she said “deep blue”; he asked the character of the being, and she said “force and fire”; he asked her to pick the being from drawings of ten Egyptian gods, and she picked Horus. She also identified Horus’ planet (Mars) and so forth for a series of similar questions. Crowley then calculated the odds against her being right in all cases—for instance, guessing Mars had a 1/9 probability, there being nine planets, picking Horus out of ten drawings had a 1/10 probability, etc. The chance of her guessing right on the whole series by chance was, mathematically, 1/21, 168,000. (The long-suffering skeptical reader may resist the “reality” of Horus by accepting the less bizarre theory that Rose was simply reading Aleister’s mind.)

The next day Crowley took Rose to the Boulak Museum and asked her to

identify the communicant from the statues and paintings there. She walked past several depictions of Horus—the ever-cynical Aleister watching, he says, in “silent glee”—and then stopped at a stele showing a dark woman bending over a winged globe, a hawk-headed god and a human male. “This is the one,” she said, pointing to the hawk-headed god, Horus. The stele was numbered 666 by the museum officials, and that was a synchronicity that got Aleister’s immediate attention. He had been using 666 as his own magick number for years.3 So Crowley decided to cooperate, and back at his hotel accepted a light trance in which The Book of the Law was dictated to him in a “rich baritone” by an invisible being. The book opens: