Sarandon leads Burning Man memorial for LSD guru Leary

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Timothy Leary's still dead, but some of the LSD guru's remains apparently made a trip to the "Burning Man" counter-culture festival in the northern Nevada desert.

Long-time friend and actress Susan Sarandon says she brought some of Leary's ashes with her to be burned as part of the celebration last week 100 miles north of Reno.

The former Harvard professor urged people to alter their consciousness with the use of psychedelic drugs during the 1960s. Most of his ashes were blasted into space by friends a year after he died in 1996 at the age of 75.

But Sarandon told the Reno Gazette-Journal ( she kept some and decided last year he would have "loved the chaos" of Burning Man.

Sarandon placed the ashes in a chest and led a procession to a temporary church built as an art installation called the "Totem of Confessions" before it was set on fire over the weekend in the Black Rock Desert. The chest was placed next to a photo of Leary and a sign reading, "Gone fishin."

"I think he'd be so happy," Sarandon said. "And all these people honoring him with LSD."

Leary said he was fired from Harvard for advocating drug use and later jailed after the legal drug that he helped popularize — lysergic acid diethylamide — became illegal.

The Moody Blues sang about him in their 1968 song, "Legend of a Mind:"

"Timothy Leary's dead. Oh, no no no. ... He's outside, looking in."

Sarandon worked this year as part of the Burning Man building crew for Michael Garlington, an artist and Northern California-based photographer who built the makeshift temple. Other artists who attended the memorial included Orgon Hunter, who said his Burning Man piece entitled, "High Witness Tower 1963," was inspired by Leary's time living in Mexico.

"I feel so privileged to be here. This is a great opportunity," Hunter said. "Tim is someone I respect a lot. He was a great thinker, just really great, genius. This would have brought him great joy."

Most of Leary's ashes, along with those of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and others, were placed in a canister that was attached to the final booster stage of a rocket that launched a commercial satellite in 1997.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal,