The Haschischins Club

The Club of Haschischins in the XNIXXth century: between trip, art, literature, science and medicine

The Club des Haschischins was a French club of hashish consumers in the XNUMXth century that was dedicated to exploring drug-induced experiences, and mainly with resin from the cannabis plant, hashish. For Honoré de Balzac, the plant is revolutionary, for others like Baudelaire, the experience was a nightmare… In addition, Doctor Jacques Joseph Moreau, member of the club, is the first psychiatrist to explore the effects of drugs, and of cannabis with a rather special hashish, dawamesk. The Club influenced future research on medical cannabis, particularly in the cure of mental illnesses.

The Haschischins Club

The club was founded around 1844 and included members of the literary and intellectual elite of Paris. The monthly sessions were held at the Hotel Pimodan (now the Hotel de Lauzun) in the rooms of Fernand Boissard, painter and musician of the nineteenth century who was considered the figurehead of the club.

The Hashishins Club

Charles Baudelaire, poet and translator of the work ofEdgar Allan Poe, also lived in Pimodan in a rented apartment upstairs. Théophile Gautier also rents apartments there.

Club members

Membership in the hash club was freeand people would join or retire at will. Among the participants in the meeting, in addition to Baudelaire, Theophilus Gautier and Dr.Moreau, there was also Gérard de Nerval (major figure of French Romanticism), Eugène Delacroix (romantic painter) and Alexandre Dumas (one of the most popular French authors).

Victor Hugo, with probably the most famous of the French novels, "Les Misérables" and "Le hunchback of Notre-Dame"; sometimes participated.

Some of those who have visited the club have recorded their impressions. After Gautier's first visit, he wrote an article entitled "Le Club des Hashischins", which was published in the " Revue des Deux Mondes In 1846. Here are some excerpts:

“To enter was to go back two centuries; time, which passes so quickly, did not seem to have elapsed in this house, and like a casually unwinding clock, its hands always bore the same date. "Hashish ends up replacing champagne," Gautier said provocatively. “We believe we have conquered Algiers, and it is Algiers who conquered us. "

Other personalities come from time to time in the club as painters Honoré Daumier or writers like Gustave Flaubert...

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The trips of Balzac and Théophile Gautier

Participants also reported that after taking the green paste, they experienced "dazzling hallucinations." Moreau noted that it produced a sort of "intellectual intoxication"

Many club users have reported that their senses have intensified and they have become voracious (munchies…).

They also had hallucinations or heard voices. For example, the novelist Honoré de Balzac tried it once in 1845. He reports having heard celestial voices and seen divine paintings ...

Gautier has also heard and seen strange things ...

Gautier "from outer space"

"A few minutes after swallowing some of the preparation, a sudden, overwhelming sensation took hold of him. It appeared to him that his body was dissolved, that it had become transparent - the hashish he had swallowed, in the form of an emerald, from which sprang a thousand small sparks -. Her eyelashes were elongated indefinitely, and rolled like gold threads around ivory balls, which turned with inconceivable rapidity. … From time to time he saw his friends who were around him disfigured - half men, half plants, some with ostrich wings, who were constantly trembling. … In the air there were millions of butterflies, confusedly luminous, shaking their wings like fans. Gigantic flowers with crystal reflections, large peonies on beds of gold and silver, rose up and surrounded it with the sonorous crackle that accompanies the explosion in the air of fireworks. His hearing has acquired new power; it has grown enormously. He heard the sound of colors. Green, red, blue, yellow sounds hit him in waves. A glass thrown away, the creaking of a sofa, a low spoken word, vibrated and rolled in him like thunderclaps ”.

Baudelaire and cannabis ...

Although most of the members got "stoned"; Not everyone shared such enthusiasm for cannabis.

For example, Baudelaire, who had the reputation of being a debauchery and of loving the exotic… found cannabis repugnant; and haven't tried it more than a couple of times.

In 1860, he writes in the book Artificial paradise »Describing the influence of hashish and opium on his thoughts ...

He preferred wine, hashish presented him with many disadvantages, such as isolating its user and making the person antisocial… While wine drinkers were for him, deeply human…

The research of Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau

At the beginning of the 19th century, the troops of Napoleon come back from their campaign in Egypt and bring with them the habit of smoking hashish ...

Between 1836 and 1840, Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, psychiatrist, makes a long trip in the East and discovers for himself the effects of hashish.

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At the time, he and other psychiatrists believed that events before a person with a mental illness became depressed could provide clues that would enable him to resolve the mental illness.

Because hallucinations often preceded mental illness, Moreau wanted to experience them without experiencing mental depression. He also thought that if he understood psychotic states, he might be able to better help or heal the mentally ill ...

The prescriber of the club

Moreover, as Moreau already knew hashish. He knew he was hallucinating, he seemed like the perfect substance to test his theories.

He discovered that cannabis (high-dose and ingested) distorted time and produced hallucinations.

However, he felt that his experiences were too subjective… And that in order to get an objective opinion, he had to observe other people who would agree to take his dawamesk (hash)… He then started looking for volunteers to observe them. .

And, soon after, he became the Hashischins Club's drug distributor ...

Dawamesk: Dr. Moreau's hash ...

According to Gautier, Moreau was there and very enthusiastic about what was going to happen.

“It was also Moreau who distributed the individual doses in the form of a green paste. Each dose was approximately the size of an inch and came from a gold and silver spoon that participants ate with a meal or mixed into strong-tasting Arabic coffee. "

Members reported that the hashish looked like jam or marmalade… The dawamesk recipe may vary. But, it usually contains a mixture of hashish, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange juice, butter, pistachio, sugar or honey - and sometimes cantharides (Spanish fly).

The influence of the Hashischins Club

Thanks to his experiences and because he was able to observe; Moreau became the first psychiatrist to work systematically on how drugs affect the central nervous system.

He also cataloged, analyzed and recorded his observations. In addition, his experiments with hashish led him to publish in 1845 “ Hashish and insanity »

The nineteenth-century French read Moreau's works with varying degrees of interest. And, many readers have reported his descriptions to be disturbing. They opened up a new method of understanding the medical effects of cannabis ...

As for the Hashischins Club… It collapsed in 1849. But, Moreau's scientific objectives having been achieved and his book published… Thereafter, cannabis had become a common drug, until prohibition and the "war on drugs" ...

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