In addition to books, magazines, and other print media related to Terence McKenna, I have also been developing a modest collection of art and photography.
Philip Meech (Photographer)
Most recently, I acquired two press photos of Terence taken while he was in the U.K. in 1994 by photographer Philip Meech. The photos appear to have been taken as part of an interview that Terence did with the London-based writer, editor, and translator Susan de Muth as part of her regular “In Bed With…” column in The Independent, which I have previously written a separate blog post about. The photos had been culled from a press archive where they had been languishing, and, of course, use the not uncommon “Terrance” misspelling. They are relatively large photos at approximately 10.5 x 7.5 inches (plus border).
Chip Simons (Photographer)
And, of course, I have the full set of 17 spectacular light photography photos from Chip Simons’ 1991 photo shoot (all of which are on offer through the crowdfund). Chip was kind enough to send me the original photo positives, which I was able scan at the university at a very high quality, and which he graciously offered me to allow to offer for donation to support the archives.
Matthew Scott Lawrence (Tattooist/Artist)
In addition to these photos, I have slowly been acquiring a modest collection of Terence McKenna art. The archives currently owns (I believe–I hope I’m not forgetting something) three original pieces of art along with several prints.
Most recently, the tattoist and artist Matthew Scott Lawrence actually stopped by the archives while on a long road trip to drop off his original drawing of Terence McKenna, created with marker and colored pencil in 2014, which had been following him around from tattoo shop to tattoo shop until it found its way into the archive here. Check Matt out on his instagram page.
Here’s Matt and some of his other work, including another artistic homage to Terence and his butterfly collecting. Matt also has his own relevant tattoos: Terence’s iconic face and “Archaic Revival” written across his back.
Matthew Scott Lawrence
Matthew Scott Lawrence
Self portrait using Procreate with an iPad Pro
Drawn on April 3rd, 2017 to commemorate Terence’s day of passing
Matthew’s art transferred to a different medium…the human body.
Adam Sturch (Artist)
I was also, happily, able to acquire Adam Sturch’s original, untitled, 2019 drawing of Terence based on early (Amazon), middle, and late career images.
By far the largest original artwork that currently exists in the archives is Aaron Raybuck‘s (48″ x 24″) canvas painting ‘Shamanistic Explorer’.
Other work by Aaron:
Dim Media (Art Collective)
In addition to the few original art pieces in the archive, I am pleased to have high-quality prints of several other art pieces. The Dim Media collective from the Twin Cities were kind enough to send me the last available canvas print of their 2010 florescent and non-florescent acrylic painting ‘Terence McKenna: Fractal Hippy’ which is part of their Wizards, Blasphemers, and Aethernauts series and has been on display at Turbo Tim’s Anything Automotive in NE Minneapolis for many years.
And another blasphemer from the series:
I also have high-quality prints of the following artworks:
Jeff is also highly prolific and accomplished. Here’s just a small taste:
Finally, I have several (too many to represent here) large prints of Mesloes‘ delightful digital drawings of Terence McKenna, which she delivered personally to the archives when she visited from the Netherlands. Mesloes has also graciously designed The Terence McKenna Archives logo! Mesloes is the creator the Five Dried Grams graphic novelty meme, the McKenna Cafe series in Utrecht, and so much more.
The academic quarter has just ended, and I finally have half a moment to breathe. In doing so, I took a portion of that moment to begin organizing and cataloging some of the acquisitions I have made for the archives over the last year or so. Here are a few semi-randomly selected items that have somewhat recently found their way into the Terence McKenna Archives. I have a few other more focused, historically-oriented posts planned for the near-future, if I can squeeze out some time over the winter break. But, in the meantime, I figured that I should at least share some of what’s been coming in. Enjoy!
1. This first item has been on my list for a very long time and has taken me quite a while to find. Eventually, after years of looking, one came available on eBay, and I was delighted to add it to the collection. This issue of Los Angeles magazine from August 1988 contains a nicely detailed description of the author’s visit to the Ojai Foundation in Southern California to participate in a workshop with Terence McKenna and Riane Eisler.
2. This is another magazine that I have been looking to acquire for many years, but it wasn’t until some of the crowdfund donations came in that I felt justified spending the cost for this magazine plus the international shipping that came along with it (about $50 total), especially given that the actual content has been available online as a jpg (still, rather obscurely) for some time. Despite that, it was a great pleasure to add this well-preserved copy of i-D #107 (The Artist Issue, August 1992) into the archives. It’s a large magazine and was just slightly too big for my home scanner, but I was able to get the important parts in.
3. This next item includes a somewhat curious, passing, and unimportant reference to Terence that stood out to me primarily because the author, Jeffrey Toobin, is now a rather prominent CNN legal analyst. Here, in this short article from The New Yorker from December 2004, Toobin reviews a legal case pertaining to religious freedom around the use of ayahuasca for the U.D.V. (for more details on the specific case, by the same Jeffrey Bronfman mentioned in the article, see this and this) and, in passing, Toobin makes reference to reports of the felt experience of DMT by citing both Terence McKenna and Alan Watts before dismissing both in favor of a comparison to what I can only presume is Mr. Toobin’s choice tipple.
Terence McKenna, a Berkeley-educated ethnobotanist who is an authority on DMT, has written that using such a substance brings a person into contact with entities that he calls “self-transforming machine elves”; for Alan Watts, a cohort of Timothy Leary’s, using DMT was like “being fired out of the nozzle of an atomic cannon.” At any rate, it’s no Chivas.
4. This next item is another long-sought-after acquisition that became available on eBay after many years of searching in vain. References to Terence McKenna are scattered throughout this 1996 (1st edition–there is a 2000 2nd edition that I still need) of Ayahuasca Analogs and Plant-Based Tryptamines: The Best of the Entheogen Review,1992-1996, edited by Jim DeKorne.
First, Terence is used to introduce the concept of an ayahuasca analog [from “Ayahuasca and Its Analogs–Autumn, 1992”]:
Ayahuasca is exotic stuff — few of us are able to travel to Amazonia to experience its effects, and the plants from which it is traditionally compounded are tropical species which do not thrive outside of the rainforest. Terence McKenna has perceived this problem and suggested its resolution:
Probably only a synthetic duplication of ayahuasca compounded with the correct percentages of DMT and beta-carbolines will ever make the experience available outside where it is endemic. [cited from “Among Ayahuasquera,” Gateway to Inner Space, Prism, Great Britain, 1989, pg 202]
This is precisely the concept of an “ayahuasca analog.”
Later, his description of a mushroom trip (not mentioned as such) is compared with a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita, which itself is already being compared to the DMT experience [from “Smokable DMT from Plants–Winter, 1993” (this is, perhaps, worth comparing with the next archive item in this post, which quotes Terence in the service of connecting shamanic ritual intoxication with the Hermetic tradition–while both sources use Terence’s descriptions of his own psychedelic experiences to support religious texts of their choice (the Bhagavad Gita and Corpus Hermeticum, respectively), as complements they both evidence and service the generalized perennialist orientation that is predominant in psychedelic culture from Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts onward]:
The numinous nature of the DMT experience recalls some verses from the Hindu scriptures: In chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna to show him his visva-rupa, or “universal form” —
4. If You think that I am able to see Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that universal self.
Krishna responds to Arjuna’s request by saying:
8. But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes, so that you can behold My mystic opulence…
Whatever Krishna does to open Arjuna’s eyes, it obviously precipitates a profound alteration in consciousness. Anyone who has experienced a full-fledged DMT flash might see a parallel here. At any rate, Arjuna is deeply disturbed by the vision he receives:
24. O all-pervading Visnu, I am unable to keep the equilibrium of my mind! Seeing Your radiant color filling the skies and seeing Your mouths and eyes, I am afraid.
25. O Lord of lords, O refuge of the worlds, please be gracious toward me! I cannot keep my balance seeing thus. Your blazing, deathlike faces and awful teeth. I am bewildered in all directions. [for those with a historical interest, the specific version cited is Bhagavad-Gita As It Is (Swami Prabhupada), The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, NY, 1972]
Compare this with Terence McKenna describing a psychedelic trip:
I even have conversations in the hallucinogenic spaces where I say, “Show me what you are for yourself.” And then it starts like an organ tone that begins to lift velvet drapery. After about forty-five seconds of that I say, “That’s enough of what you are for yourself. Let’s go back to dancing mice and little elves and, you know, the happy, nice stuff! This is scaring the socks off me!” … It always cloaks itself. It’s not an entirely honest encounter. It knows that you actually couldn’t handle it … It can accept as many projections as we can put onto it. It literally is beyond the power of human imagining, so whatever image we lay onto it, it can take that and give it manifestation. The mice, the elves, the alien abductors. [citation to a 1993 interview in Green Egg magazine]
With the DMT experience now available to anyone willing to extract this endogenous (you’ve got some in your pineal gland right now) entheogen from any one of the scores of different plants (many of them common North American “weeds”), it seems that the fools and angels among us are being offered “divine eyes” for seeing the “universal form,” or something like it. Given the historical context of this sudden gift, I cannot help but feel that McKenna’s “ingression of novelty into time” is about to go into overdrive. May the force be with us. — Jim DeKorne
In another place, DeKorne nods to the overall impact of McKenna’s voice on the psychedelic ideosphere [from “Phalaris Update–Fall, 1994”]:
The discoveries now emerging from the ER network regarding Phalaris grass are nothing short of incredible. It is as if a Trans-Personal Intelligence were revealing data deliberately designed to create the widest possible opportunity for the mass expansion of consciousness. Having been exposed for years to Terence McKenna’s ideas about global changes in awareness, the “ingression of novelty into time,” and the “end of history” a scant 18 years away, I can’t help but feel that it is all happening on a scale too large and at a pace too rapid for comfortable assimilation. To really understand McKenna, you have to go where he’s been and that’s becoming easier all the time.
“SOME DMT QUOTATIONS” [from “5-Methoxy and Purple/Green Spit–Fall, 1996”]:
Yet however much we may be hedonists or pursuers of the bizarre, we find DMT to be too much. It is, as they say in Spanish, bastante, it’s enough — so much enough that it’s too much…One of the interesting characteristics of DMT is that it sometimes inspires fear — this marks the experience as existentially a fool or that one has taken a compound that paralyzes the ability to be terrified. Terence McKenna—Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness
And, finally, a curiously curated quotation from Wired magazine (no further citation given) calling into question the efficacy of DMT and, by extension, Terence’s credibility [from “THE FINAL WORD ON DMT–Summer, 1996”]:
There have always been close ties between the high-tech and psychedelic drug communities. A vocal cross-over, author Terence McKenna has long championed alien languages, the holographic mind, and DMT, a short-acting but powerful hallucinogen. Well, DMT is now on the streets. Only, it’s a major disappointment. After sucking on smoke that tastes like burning plastic, you discover that McKenna’s singing elves are a lot like the stars you see when conked on the head. Suddenly, his theories about the future singularity look a little less likely. –Wired Magazine
5. In Dennis William Hauck’s The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation (1999), we find Terence thrice-referenced. Hauck attempts to use Terence’s words to help him in his own effort to synthesize the experiential dimensions of shamanic and Hermetic practice into a normative ontology of transformation.
The Emerald Tablet…is a living document that speaks to each of us directly about our personal transformation. “It is the cryptic epitome of the alchemical opus,” says Jungian analyst Dr. Edward Edinger–“a recipe for the second creation of the world.” Ethnobotanist and guru Terence McKenna says that the tablet of Hermes presents “a formula for a holographic matrix” that is mirrored in the human mind.
…if these or similar drugs were known and used by the alchemists, they kept it a secret and no direct references to such compounds have ever been found. Certainly, had the alchemists used psychoactive compounds, they would have approached them in the sacred way of shamans traveling to nonordinary reality in search of spiritual truth and not in the “recreational” use we see today.
“According to this viewpoint,” says ethnobotanist Terence McKenna of the shamanic experience, “the world has a center, and when you go to the center–which is inside yourself–there is a vertical axis that allows you to travel up or down. There are celestial worlds, there are infernal worlds, there are paradisiacal worlds. These are the worlds that open up to us on our shamanic journeys, and I believe we have an obligation to explore these domains and pass that information on to others. At this time in our history, it’s perhaps the most awe-inspiring journey anyone could hope to make.” [citation to The Archaic Revival, Ch. 17]
It is not surprising that the hidden world the shamans have discovered is the same one described in the Emerald Tablet. Though the shamans call him their “ally,” it is really Hermes, once again, who is their guide. Hermes’ Seven Steps are the levels of consciousness through which the shaman journeys, and the Emerald Tablet is his roadmap for a safe trip.
Psychonaut Terence McKenna believes we will return to the stars together, as a species. He heard this from the mouth of Hermes himself, which for McKenna is the Psilocybe Cubensis mushroom, a true entheogen or independent intelligence that he believes is actively promoting human evolution. In a recent interview, McKenna described a prophetic encounter he had with this Hermetic ally in which the mushroom deity said clearly: “When a species prepares to depart for the stars, the planet will be shaken to its core.” McKenna elaborated: “All evolution has pushed for this moment and there is no going back. What lies ahead is a dimension of such freedom and transcendence, that once in place, the idea of returning to the womb will be preposterous. We will live in the imagination.” [citation to interview in Omni magazine]
6. While Terence was a regular on the pages of Magical Blend, this issue (#46, April 1995) doesn’t have any interviews with or essays by him. Instead, it includes an interview with Douglas Rushkoff where Terence is mentioned (and, I would argue, partly misconstrued) as well as some advertisements for Sound Photosynthesis, FS Book Co, Big Sur Tapes, and for Spacetime Continuum’s excellent post-Alien Dreamtime album, Sea Biscuit.
Magical Blend: It seems that now, more than ever, writers of science fiction like William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick [sic], and Terence McKenna should be known as the prophets of the future. Do you think they’re correct in their views?
Douglas Rushkoff: Sometimes I get the feeling that they all lack faith in human nature. McKenna says we’ve gone down a dead end, and we need to back up and go out the way we came in. I say absolutely not! We need to push through. McKenna believes there’s a bottleneck effect, and people who have had the DMT experience and other realizations are going to make it through the attractor at the end of time, while the vast majority will not. The way I see it, either we all make it or none of us will. It’s one organism, one thing. Dick and Gibson say that technology is going to change and get better, but human nature is going to stay the same. In other words, human nature is bad, and we’re just going to use our new technology to do mean things to each other. I just don’t believe that’s true. Human nature changes, and I believe that it’s basically good, not bad. Technology is inherently liberating, ultimately. Renaissances don’t happen overnight.
7. This rare and long out-of-print volume is only the penultimate of 10 volumes of The Psychozoic Press that were originally edited by Elvin D. Smith. Issue 9 (Autumn 1984) brought in Tom Lyttle as co-editor, and, following #10, the title of the publication was changed to Psychedelic Monographs & Essays. This is the only of the Psychozoic Press volumes that I have been able to find a physical copy of. Fortunately, scans of volumes 1-9 are available on Erowid. This volume includes part of an interview with Terence (that appears scattered across the issues) as well as a review of the “psychedelic bedtime stories” that make up the 8-cassette tape audio version of True Hallucinations.
8. The April 2001 issue of Mean magazine (#13), which, from 1997-2001, was primarily a music zine and alternative magazine, contained something like an obituary or reflection on Terence’s life and work by Blake Nelson. As part of his research, Nelson spoke with an anonymous friend of Terence’s who shares a posthumous dream appearance. The photograph that accompanies the piece (the multi-armed psychedelic Terence light-photography) is one of the shots by Chip Simons from their late-1991 shoot. Check out our crowdfund catalog, if you’d like to order a high-quality print of this or any of the other photos from the shoot. Chip sent me the original photo positives to scan and has given me exclusive permission to offer them for donations to the archive.
According to his website, “Terence McKenna joined the ancestors at 2:15am Pacific Standard time, April 3, 2000.” According to history, he joined a long list of charismatic prophets destined to be absent for the events they predicted.
I spoke with an acquaintance of McKenna’s, who wished to remain anonymous, while researching this article. According to this individual, McKenna was optimistic in his quest to “reach” friends and loved ones from the great beyond. In fact, he was convinced that the same communicative tools he discovered through hallucinogens would be accessible in the next world. Telepathy was a cornerstone in McKenna’s theories regarding hallucinogenic trips… The individual I spoke with related a personal experience shortly after McKenna’s death in which McKenna appeared clearly to him in a dream. The encounter was described as a vision of McKenna amidst lush jungle surroundings, covered by ancient Indian tattoos. He was full of warmth and spoke candidly, promising to honor his pledge as friend and teacher.
9. A quote by Terence McKenna is paired with a quote by Albert Einstein to open the chapter “Marijuana and the Power of Imagination” in Sebastián Marincolo’s book of essays on cannabis intoxication, What Hashish Did to Walter Benjamin (which is also the title of one of the essays). Thanks to one of my friends at rawilsonfans.org for alerting me to this.
“The imagination is the golden path to everywhere.” Terence McKenna, philosopher, psychonaut, ethnobotanist, 1946-2000
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
I’ll leave it there for this post. There’s lots more to share, though. Thanks for your attention! Keep an eye out for more posts in the near future.
This item is one that I had long held-off on spending archives money on simply because I knew I could eventually get it, and I had previously chosen to use the limited funds available in order to acquire rarer and more pressing items for the collection. Thanks to your kind donations to our ongoing crowdfund effort, however, I’ve since acquired a 1st edition copy of Myron Stolaroff’s The Secret Chief: Conversations with a Pioneer of the Underground Psychedelic Therapy Movement (1997).
Stolaroff’s now classic and important book addresses the life and underground work of a man only identified in the text as “Jacob.” Jacob was a U.S. soldier who became a Jungian psychotherapist, discovered what he deemed to be the therapeutic value of psychedelics, and never turned back, administering them to his patients and sharing them with other therapists while they were still legal, and continuing to do so, underground, after their use was criminalized.
In particular, Jacob is substantially responsible (opinions sometimes vary on exactly what that responsibility entails) for the significant proliferation in the use of MDMA among psychotherapists in the late-70s and early-to-mid-80s with some close to him speculating that he delivered the method–and, of course, often the MDMA–to more than 4,000 therapists. The book, published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), is based on interviews that Stolaroff and his wife conducted with Jacob in 1981 at the behest of Ann & Sasha Shulgin who had originally introduced him to MDMA in 1977 (the same individual who is called “Jacob” in Stolaroff’s book is referred to as “Adam Fisher” in the Shulgin’s own book Pihkal). Following this initial encounter, Jacob became a quick convert and is credited with coining the nickname “Adam” for the substance to indicate his conviction that the experience stripped away the ego’s self-defense mechanisms, anxieties, and inhibitions and returned one to a psychological state of primordial innocence. Jacob’s efforts to popularize MDMA, ironically, both carried it out to thousands of people and, also, in part, resulted in therapeutic access to MDMA being more restricted once it was finally criminalized as a result of that rising popularity.
Terence McKenna claims to have taken a very quick liking to Jacob when they first met in the early 1980s and, in fact, it is Terence’s nickname for Jacob that became the title of Stolaroff’s book. It was Terence who called Jacob, “the secret chief”…..and, Myron, with Terence’s permission took it for the title of his book.
Eventually, with the permission of Jacob’s family, Stolaroff produced a revised edition, The Secret Chief Revealed (2004), in which he finally identified “Jacob” as Leo Zeff.
Zeff’s part of the MDMA story appears briefly in the delightful Trick Publications pamphlet (modeled after the classic evangelical Chick Tracts) called ‘Adam & Evil?!’:
Zeff died in 1988 and Terence McKenna attended and spoke at his memorial on April 17 offering an thoughtful and heartfelt remembrance that includes his application of the name “the secret chief.”
“I’m Terence McKenna. I knew Leo the last five years of his life. I feel deeply honored to be asked to speak at this occasion.”
“I felt, when I stood near Leo, that I was standing next to a giant; and what the experience of standing near a giant was was the experience of the wisest, kindest, gentlest, funniest man that I’ve ever had the privilege to know.”
“When I first met Leo, I was so impressed by his vitality [that] after the public meeting at which we met, I cornered him in private, and I said, ‘Leo, I want to ride in your canoe. I don’t care where you’re going. I just want to be in your canoe.’ And, he said, ‘You’re always welcome in my canoe’.
And, I felt that his saying that to me inducted me into a group of people that I think of as Leo’s Tribe, Leo’s People–and for Leo’s Tribe, Leo was our chief…he was the secret chief. He had no theory to push, he had no axe to grind.”
“In his chosen field, which was psychology and the healing of the soul, he understood better than anyone I’ve ever met that it’s a matter of letting the psyche grow and flower according to its own rules. You stand present, you stand ready, and then you do as little as possible. And, everyone who has ever had Leo sit for them knows that that was exactly how he worked.”
“One of the goals of Leo’s life was the search for the perfect high [much laughter], and he inspired many of us to follow in his footsteps [more laughter]. I trust that he has found that perfect high [even more laughter].”
“Sometimes when Leo would sit with people, they would come out of their reveries and want to talk with him about what they were learning and seeing, and Leo would listen for a few minutes, but he, then, would always say, ‘That’s fine. That’s good. Now return to the music.’
And, I think — I like to think — that Leo has now returned to the music.
And, someday, so shall we. And, to whatever degree we follow his example, life here and the passage to whatever lies beyond will be made much easier.
Leo showed the way, because Leo knew the way. And, I salute him for that. I say, for all of us who were his tribe, ‘Goodbye to the secret chief. Goodbye to the man who saw most deeply. It’s now for us to do as he would have had us do.”
Terence McKenna’s published works have been translated, over the years, into more than a dozen languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Estonian, Bulgarian, Italian, Dutch, Slovenian…and, no doubt, others that I am unaware of). The Terence McKenna Archives holds a small selection of these translations. Some were acquired recently as a result of donations to our ongoing crowdfund, others were in the collection prior to the crowdfund, and some have been kindly donated. If you have a translated copy of a work by Terence McKenna that is not pictured here (or if you represent a publisher of such a work) and would like to donate a copy to The Terence McKenna Archives, please do send an email.
Another edition of the same book that is produced in a similar style is the Japanese edition published by Daisan Shokan: 幻覚世界の真実 (Genkaku sekai no shinjitsu) (1995). [Google Translate provides a rough translation of “The Truth of the Hallucination World”]. Some of the primary differences between this and the English and Spanish editions derive from the different ways in which Japanese is read (the book opens from what English readers would identify as the “back” cover, for instance, and the text reads from right to left). I am particularly enamored of the vertical, columnar orientation of the Table of Contents and the marbled, malachite-green hard cover beneath the dust jacket.
The Japanese translation of Food of the Gods, also published by Daisan Shokan, is called 神々の糧 (ドラッグ) : 太古の知恵の木を求めて : 植物とドラッグ、そして人間進化の歴史再考 (Kamigami no doraggu : taiko no chie no ki o motomete : shokubutsu to doraggu soshite ningen shinka no rekishi saiko (1993). [“Drugs of the Kami” is an interesting translation of Food of the Gods]. It’s another hardcover that looks very nice on a shelf and has a wonderful cover design.
The Terence McKenna Archives collection also has German and Polish translations of Trialogues at the Edge of the West under the titles Denken am Rand des Undenkbaren & Zdążyć Przed Apokalipsą (which Google Translate renders, respectively, as “Thinking on the Edge of the Unthinkable” & “Make it For the Apocalypse” or “Be in Time for the Apocalypse”).
We also have some copies of foreign-language books or translations that include contributions by, or interviews with, Terence McKenna.
This heady German volume includes a translated 3-page extract of Terence from a conversation with musician b-Eden, called “Psychedelische Erfahrungen” [Psychedelic Experiences]
published by Stampa Alternativa, this is an Italian book (translated ‘Psychedelic Heresies’) that includes an interview with Terence McKenna called “Sacri Antidoti,” mostly about Buddhism.
German translation of ‘The Gateway to Inner Space: Sacred Plants, Mysticism, and Psychotherapy: A Festschrift in Honor of Albert Hofmann’, edited by Christian Rätsch, which includes a chapter by Terence McKenna, called, in English, “Among Ayahuasquera”
However, there are far more translations that are not currently represented in The Terence McKenna Archives collection….(it’s actually nice to still have plenty more work to be done)!
Today, I received a copy of the June 1998 issue of Magical Blend magazine. I was hoping that it would contain a review of John Major Jenkins’ book, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date (Bear & Company, 1998).
Terence McKenna wrote the Foreword to Jenkins’ book, and, from what Jenkins has said elsewhere, the reviewer for Magical Blend also discusses Terence’s contribution and ideas. All I know, however, from Jenkins, is that he and Terence wrote written responses to the review that appeared in an issue in “Fall 1998.” Since the magazine was published monthly, it’s unclear exactly which month in “Fall” he was referring to. So, when I saw an inexpensive copy of the June issue show up on eBay, I thought it might be a good candidate for the issue that contained the initial review that prompted their “Fall” rejoinders.
Alas, the June 1998 issue did not contain what I was looking for….however, it did contain a fair bit more Terence McKenna than I had expected, in the form of a range of advertisements for events & products.
I’m not actually sure yet which of these Whole Life Expos Terence spoke at in 1998.
The book ‘A Magical Universe’ features an essay by Terence McKenna (there are a few copies left available through our crowdfund).
Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ The New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998
Terence was popular enough in the pages of Magical Blend that they created a special Terence McKenna issues specialty set that readers could purchase.
(Bottom Right) – The Psychedelic Sourcebook: “The most complete, focused and subversive psychedelic resource list in print.” -Terence McKenna – A psychonaut must!
(Bottom left) – Better decisions, better relationships. Visit the authentic Oracle of Changes online. Absolutely FREE. “Cool, very cool.” -Terence McKenna – http://www.ICHING.com
Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998
[My apologies to everyone for a long hiatus in posting on behalf of The Terence McKenna Archives. It’s been an excessively busy summer thus far, and I just haven’t had the time to keep up on regular posting. After having finished a rigorous teaching schedule for a summer course, I now hope to be able to return to a more regular posting schedule]
A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to visit the pleasant foothill community of Sierra Madre, just north of Los Angeles, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest along with Bruce Damer (whose continued work on the problem of the origins of life on Earth has received renewed attention in a recent special issue of Scientific American).
The reason for our visit was to talk with Ken Symington, who, among a range of other noteworthy life-achievements that are not the focus of my immediate attention, was the co-founder (along with Terence McKenna, Rob Montgomery, and Jonathan Ott) of the Entheobotany Conferences that took place every year from 1994 to 2001, often held at Chan-Kah resort near the Maya archaeological site of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico–here’s a short video of Terence being interviewed near the hotel pool during one of these conferences in January, 1996:
(From Left: Ken Symington, Jonathan Ott, and Christian Rätsch at Hotel Chan-Kah near Palenque)
Of the four founders of the Entheobotany Conference, Terence died in 2000, Rob Montgomery, sadly, died last year (2017), and word from Jonathan Ott has been sparse since the tragic burning of his home in Mexico by arson in 2010. Ken, then, at 86, is the only major available source of organizational information about these seminal psychedelic conferences. Ken is the founder of the Botanical Preservation Corps, which the Entheobotany Conferences were produced under the banner of. He also translated Cesar Calvo’s The Three Halves of Ino Moxo: Teachings of the Wizard of the Upper Amazon among other projects and has recently self-published Hypomnemata: Stories, Fables, Memories (which he kindly signed a copy of for me). Ken was a very gracious host and wonderful story teller…
And, importantly for purposes of The Terence McKenna Archives, Ken had kept a folder of material from the history of the Entheobotany conferences, which he kindly allowed me to photograph.
I’ll post a few of the highlights from the folder below. Before doing so, however, I’d like to highlight another aspect of the visit to Sierra Madre, which was the adjacent small theater where some of Terence’s talks were hosted (including ‘In the Valley of Novelty’ & ‘The World and Its Double’).
Bruce Damer in the Nature Friends theater in Sierra Madre
Here is one of Terence’s talks that took place here:
And, here are some of the highlights from Ken’s Entheobotany Conference folder:
Eighteen years ago today, April 3, 2000, Terence McKenna passed on as a result of a rare brain tumor. In it’s May/June issue of that year, the pagan-oriented magazine Green Egg published a full-page memorial that mostly consisted of a standardized description of Terence’s bio (similar to what appeared on his own books). However, it begins with a set of excerpts by Terence from Esalen in December of 1999, only a few months before Terence’s death, which I thought would make an appropriate object of attention for our remembrance…
“Everything is a blessing and everything comes as a gift. And I don’t regret anything about the situation I find myself in. If psychedelics don’t ready you for the great beyond, then I don’t know what really does. And we’re all under sentence of ‘moving up’ at some point in our lives.
“I have an absolute faith that the universe prefers joy and distills us with joy. That is what religion is trying to download to us, and this is what every moment of life is trying to do — if we can open to it. And we psychedelic people, if we could secure that death has no sting, we would have done the greatest service to suffering intelligence that can be done.
“And I feel that death is close, and I feel strong because of the (psychedelic) community and these people and plants that it rests on, and the ancient practices that it rests on, and I am full of hope, not only for my own small problems, but for humanity in general.”
-Terence McKenna (Esalen, December 1999)
I’d also like to re-share Robert Hunter’s all-too-little-known poem ‘Words for Terence’, written on the occasion of Terence’s death and read aloud by Phil Lesh at a memorial:
Another item that has been added to The Terence McKenna Archives as a result of our ongoing crowdfund campaign is Vere Allucinazioni (1995), an Italian translation of Terence’s “talking book” (1984) and eventually paper book (1993), True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise.
What makes this volume particularly valuable and noteworthy, aside from the significance of the affordance for Italian speakers to be able to read Terence’s work, are the copious and excellent illustrations (dozens scattered throughout the text) by Matteo Guarnaccia.
Dozens of Guarnaccia’s drawings litter the pages and often mesh unbelievably well with the contents of the book — I’m only showing a fraction of them here. This is an edition of Terence’s work that is worth having, even if you can’t speak Italian, for the incredibly competent and compelling psychedelic art alone.
This post will be the first in a series where I share the fruits of The Terence McKenna Archives crowdfund campaign.
I have just acquired the first of two major purchases with the money derived from our ongoing crowdfund. Over the weekend, on my way to a conference in Berkeley, I stopped in San Francisco, at the apartment of Jay Kinney, who was the editor of Gnosis magazine (1985-1999). Terence McKenna appeared on the pages of Gnosis numerous times over the course of its history and he and Kat were among its earliest subscribers and supporters (as you’ll see later in this post). Jay also tells me that Terence was instrumental in helping Gnosis to acquire its first, game-changing, high-end laser printer, for a substantial discount, via Terence’s Timewave programmer, Peter Meyer.
I purchased a full set of the entire run of Gnosis magazine from Jay and will be making posts on Terence McKenna-related material that appears within individual issues as I work my way through the collection.
I’ll start, here, with Gnosis #1 (Fall/Winter 1985)
Terence and Kat were among the earliest ‘Helping Subscribers’ (donating $20 in addition to a $15 subscription), which helped allow The Lumen Foundation to publish 5,000 copies of this first issue.
By 1985, Terence had only previously published The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, which wasn’t widely distributed and would have been out of print, and Psilocybin Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide, which did sell widely, was authored under a pseudonym, O. T. Oss (both books co-authored with his brother Dennis), and his public speaking career was relatively fresh. The True Hallucinations talking book had, however, just been produced and was positively reviewed, in this first issue of Gnosis, by Ted Schulz.
This is a book about the kind of revelatory mystical experience that is induced by psychedelic substances. It’s also a book about an exotic expedition undertaken by five friends bound together by a mutual inquisitiveness, especially about subjectively-experienced ethnopharmacology. And it isn’t a book at all, but an eight-cassette “talking book” with fine production quality and effective use of modest sound effects and music.
In 1971, Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis, along with three friends, all young American middle-class intellectuals, set off on a journey into Columbia’s Amazonian wilderness, seeking out the remote area inhabited by the Witoto Indians, a tribe noted for its use of certain psychoactive substances. There, according to plan, they entered the equally lush and far less understood jungle of psychedelic consciousness, as they experimented with ever larger and increasingly frequent doses of the locale’s plentiful psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Terence in particular had prepared for this inner journey, having devoted a number of years to the study of revelatory mystical experience and having pursued a variety of spiritual teachings in exotic locations around the globe. This preparation notwithstanding, he and his brother returned from their experiment changed men, to spend perhaps the rest of their lives constructing theories about that overwhelming experience, as they continue to ask “What happened?”
The McKenna brothers proposed their rigorously phrased answer to this question in their work, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching (1975, Seabury Press), a serious and carefully constructed cosmology that synthesized their Amazonian revelations. But it is in True Hallucinations that Terence has chosen to tell the human side of the story, in all the untidy detail of a sincere quest made by faltering and confused seekers-after-truth. Normally, the thought of spending nine-and-a-half hours listening to a psychedelic veteran recount his most memorable trips would leave me cold, but McKenna pulls off the feat of entertaining in the process. the backbone of his narrative is an account of the party’s voyage along the Putumayo River, of their difficult overland trek, and their surroundings at their destination, La Chorrera, and it is to this linear ground that he continually returns after flights into psychedelic theory and cosmic philosophy. The story has much of the appeal of an adventure travelogue, with the curious twist of an unusual cast of characters with an even more unusual purpose. Along the way, the intrepid band meets a number of eccentrics, including the leader of a cult of displaced Americans who divines with a Ouija board and is accompanied by a monkey that is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ; and a cocaine-crazed, paranoid, and megalomaniacal anthropologist who has fallen victim to the excessive habit of the tribe he meant to study.
In McKenna’s wry recounting, the dynamics between the five members of this amateur ethnopharmacological expedition are, in the lighter moments, diverting in the manner of a New Age soap opera. At other times they take on the aspect of allegory, reflecting the diametrical human reaction to the power of the psychedelic experience as the group ultimately splinters intro two factions. On the one hand, three people, Terence, his lover, Ev, and his brother, Dennis, continue to ingest copious quantities of the mushrooms, convinced that they are working toward a goal of ultimate importance — the creation of a literal, physical doorway to a higher dimension. On the other hand, the two remaining members of the group back off, alarmed at what they perceive as pre-psychotic behavior in the McKennas. It is, in fact, Dennis McKenna’s extremely crazed behavior that finally precipitates the group’s premature departure from their jungle base and their return to civilization, but it is also through his brother’s behavior that Terence McKenna is stimulated into some of his most meaningful breaks into higher reality.
McKenna describes instances of telepathy, clairvoyance, materialization of lost objects; glimpses of alien beings and higher dimensions; of disembodied voices speaking portents. he describes UFO/flying saucer symbolism and visions, culminating in his climactic and life-changing encounter with an alien craft. Did these things have an objective reality outside the drug experience? McKenna treats this issue with intelligence and bemusement, and this is what elevates his account from mere psychedelic theory-mongering into a genuine, candid inquiry into the nature of the psychedelic experience and of the solutions to the existential questions the experience intimates. I’m left with an impression of McKenna honestly and humbly seeking the truth through psychedelics, and receiving for his answer an outpouring of mysterious symbology.
Now, some fourteen years later, McKenna is in a position to tell this retrospective tale, and to distill the wealth of enthusiasms and revelations in a way that only the leveling of power of such a span of time can provide. This is an important and enjoyable contribution to the lamentably small body of literature of psychedelic understanding.
Today’s random item from the archives is another in the line of Terence McKenna’s work reviewed in Library Journal. I’ve already covered the Library Journal reviews of The Invisible Landscape (in 1976) & Alien Dreamtime (in 1993) and will eventually get around to reviews of Food of the Gods (book), History Ends in Green (audio), True Hallucinations (book), and Global Perspectives and Psychedelic Poetics (audio) also from the same publication. These are primarily useful as focused instances of reception of Terence’s work as well as to see how he would have been portrayed to the audience of this widely-dispersed trade publication.
Here, in Vol. 117 No. 7 (April 15, 1992), Gail Wood, from Montgomery College Library in Maryland, briefly reviews (and recommends) Terence’s anthology of essays and interviews, The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History. The book is listed under the category ‘Parapsychology’, while Food of the Gods was reviewed as ‘Social Science’ and True Hallucinations as ‘Anthropology & Customs’.
McKenna has been exploring the “Wholly Other” for 25 years. In this spiritual journey, he ponders shamanism, buddhism, and ethnopharmacology. By the phrase “archaic revival,” McKenna refers to a return to shamanism, which he believes can be enhanced by current scientific practices. The next level of spiritual transformation, he explains, is achieved by the intelligent use of psychedelics and should be performed only by thoughtful explorers rather than experimenters, scientific or otherwise. The ideas presented in this collection of interviews, speeches, and articles are radical even now, and will challenge the reader. There are many insights on current spiritual movements such as goddess worship, deep ecology, space beings, and virtual reality. Recommended. —Gail Wood, Montgomery Coll. Lib., Germantown, Md.