Heard, Gerald (1889–1971)
Gerald Heard, a mystic, counterculture theoretician, and pioneer
in consciousness studies, was born Henry Fitzgerald
Heard in London. As a youth he decided to become a priest in
the Church of England and to that end entered Cambridge
University. However, during his college years he discovered
that he was no longer a Christian. He dropped out and moved
to Ireland to work with the Irish Agricultural Cooperative community.
While there he came into contact with the Irish theosophists
A. E. Russell and magicianpoet William Butler Yeats.
When he returned to London several years later he became active
in the Society for Psychical Research and acquainted with
Julius and Aldous Huxley. Through Aldous Huxley, he met
Swami Prabhavananda, a swami of the Vedanta Society, and became
his disciple. In 1937 he moved to New York and then on
to California where the Swami lived.
In Los Angeles, Heard opened Trabuco College, an experimental
school built around a curriculum in comparative reliHealing
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gion and emphasizing spiritual practice. The experiment
failed. Through the 1950s he explored a variety of subjects on
the cultural fringe. He wrote one of the first books on the new
phenomenon of flying saucers and explored his own homosexuality
as a member of the Mattachine Society. He speculated on
what he considered the unique spiritual and cultural reality of
gayness and developed the concept of the ‘‘isophyl,’’ an individual
who was biologically, psychologically, and spiritually distinct
from the majority, and explored the unique social life that
would be suitable for them, eventually suggesting some form of
communal life. While initially developing the concept to explain
his own gay orientation, he later expanded it to include
others.
In the 1950s, along with his friend Aldous Huxley, Heard
also became one of the first to explore the spiritual potentials
of LSD and for many years served as a spiritual guide to people
who began experimenting with it. He introduced LSD to psychiatrist
Oscar Janiger, who pioneered LSD research in the
United States and introduced the drug into the Hollywood
community. Heard was instrumental in introducing LSD to a
number of intellectuals including philosopher William Ernest
Hocking and Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray. He believed
that the LSD experience heralded a new revolution in
consciousness that was coming to save the West from its dead
mechanistic culture.
Heard came to believe that consciousness interacted with reality
to create our map of reality. LSD was a means of making
us conscious of that process and then reconstructing the map
(or maps) we used to put together our worldview, an idea later
championed by Timothy Leary. Heard also came to identify
the Greek god Pan as the symbol of the new world of consciousness
into which humanity was entering.
Heard left behind a vast literature exploring his many interests.
Many who have encountered his work on a single subject
are quite unaware of the vast spectrum of his contributions.
Sources
Heard, Gerald. Is Another World Watching The Riddle of the
Flying Saucers. New York Harper & Brothers, 1951.
———. Mysticism for the Millions. Los Angeles Sherbourne
Press, 1965.
———. The Recollection. Palo Alto, Calif. Stanford UniversityJ.
L. Riddle, 1944.
———. Third Morality. London Cassell & Co., 1937.
———. Training for a Life of Growth. San Jacinto, Calif. Wayfarer
Press, 1959.