2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Psychedelics and Liberation in Aldous Huxley’s Island


Julie H. Noringriis
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Aldous Huxley’s utopian novel, Island, follows the shipwrecked Englander, Will Farnaby, on his extensive tour of the fictional Pacific island of Pala, where he is introduced to the many untraditional customs and values of the Palanese people. A key element of Palanese culture is the moksha-medicine, a native psychedelic closely resembling LSD created from toadstools, which the locals and, evidently, Farnaby partake of. Meant to reveal the deepest truths of religion, enhance one’s experience of reality, and improve one's understanding of the world, Huxley’s portrayal of the Palanese psychedelics and the locals’ religious practice involving them, claims to aid in achieving religious enlightenment closely resembling that strived for in Zen, Tantric, and Mahayana Buddhism. Scholars of religion have critiqued the validity of sacred experiences if encountered through drug-use, but in Island Huxley makes his case for psychedelics’ role in both society and religion.

Keywords: Huxley, Drugs, Island, Psychedelics, Religion, Reality, Liberation, Buddhism

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 205-1
Location: BH 241
Time: 10:15

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