Terence McKenna Archives Acquisitions Update (March 7, 2023)

As I work on updating the Terence McKenna Bibliography, I am also acquiring new material for the archive as a reflection of how Terence McKenna’s name and ideas have been (and continue to be) represented. This is a digest of some of the new material coming into the collection at the moment.

Drunk the Night Before: An Anatomy of Intoxication by Marty Roth (2005), University of Minnesota Press

Just because the story of drugs as spiritual degeneration is insistently repeated doesn’t make it true. True and false states of exaltation may not be as different as cultural arbiters claim, since the institutions and images that compose our religious history have been airbrushed by denial, or, shifting to Terence McKenna’s similitude: “There are skeletons in the closet of human origins and of the origin of religion. I would wager that those skeletons are all psychedelic plants.” (p. 86)

Terence McKenna  believes that the “intake of psilocybin by primates living in the African grasslands prior to the last Ice Age may have led to the origins of human language itself.” (p. 156)

The alignment of Wordsworth and Coleridge with water and wine also rhymes with the alternate goals they set themselves in modern poetry: poems of ordinary life as opposed to supernatural subjects that give “the interest of novelty by the modifying colors of imagination” (Coleridge 168). Terence McKenna tries to refine this model further: “Opium was a major driving force on the Romantic imagination–Coleridge, De Quincey, Laurence Sterne, and a number of other writers were creating a world of darkened ruins, abandoned priories, black water sucking at desolate shores–clearly a gloss on the opium state. Then around 1820, Byron, Shelley, and others began experimenting with hashish as well…. [but it] never made inroads into the English literary imagination the way that opium had.”


Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology edited by Gretchen Bender + Timothy Druckrey (1994), Bay Press











In Margaret Morse’s chapter, “What Do Cyborgs Eat? Oral Logic in an Information Society,” Terence McKenna is mentioned several times:

There are certain recurring features in the very limited literature on smart drinks and drugs in how-to books, manifestos, and ads in Mondo 2000: smart nonfood tastes bad–medicinal, in fact; smart drugs are better than nature, once one achieves the right “fit” between brain and chemicals; and they improve performance in mental tasks. To at least one countercultural theorist, Terence McKenna, smart drugs, insofar as they are psychotropic, are in fact Food of the Gods, at once archaic and posthistorical tools toward the next phase of human evolution toward colonizing the stars. (p. 182)

Smart drug “fit” is not based on existing “natural” quantities–neurochemicals are too costly for the body to make in beneficial amounts. However, according to Terence McKenna, nature has offered psychoactive drugs, which are not merely smart but, he claims, have spurred human mental evolution, in abundance. In Food of the Gods, McKenna explains, “My contention is that mutation-causing, psychoactive chemical compounds in the early human diet directly influenced the rapid reorganization of the brain’s information-processing capacities. Alkaloids in plants, specifically the hallucinogenic compounds such as psilocybin, dimethyltrypta-mine [sic] (DMT), and harmaline, could be the chemical factors in the proto- human [sic] diet that catalyzed the emergence of human self-reflection.” McKenna views the fifteen thousand years of cultural history between the archaic period and the present as “Paradise Lost,” a dark age of ego-imbalance to be abandoned, along with “the monkey body and tribal group,” in favor of “star flight, virtual-reality technologies, and a revivified shamanism.” Again, the archaic and the electronic are united.


Out of Character: Rants, Raves, and Monologues from Today’s Top Performance Artists edited by Mark Russell (1997), Bantam Books












In the profile for the artist, performer, puppeteer, and creator of magical objects, James Godwin, Terence McKenna’s books The Archaic Revival and True Hallucinations appear in Godwin’s “Reading List.”












Inward Journey: Art as Therapy by Margaret Frings Keyes (1983), Open Court












This represents a relatively early awareness of and reference to the McKennas based on an encounter with the 1st edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape. It gets some details wrong, such as Mexico v. Colombia.

…if she [a patient] learnt the hard way within the active imagination to overcome the obstacle, she would have also learnt something for outer life. Even if a patient was stuck in active imagination over weeks Jung did not give a helpful suggestion but insisted that he or she should continue to struggle with the problem himself and alone.

In controlled drug-taking this forth step is again missed. The controlling person carries the responsibility instead of the producer of the phantasy. I came across an interesting book by two brothers Terence and Denis [sic] McKenna: The Invisible Landscape. These two courageous young men went to Mexico [sic] and experimented on themselves with a hallucinogenc plant. They experienced according to their own report schizophrenic states of mind, which led to a great widening of consciousness. Unfortunately they could not keep track of the experiences except that they went to other planets and were often helped by an invisible guide who was sometimes a huge insect. The second part of the book contains the speculations which they derived from their visions. They are not different from any other wildly intuitive modern speculations about mind, matter, synchronicity, etc. In other words they do not actually convey anything really new or which the two well-read authors could not have thought out consciously. But what is decisive is the fact that the book ends with the idea that all life on earth will be definitively destroyed in an approaching cataclysm and that we must either find means to escape to another planet or turn inward and escape into the realm of the cosmic mind. Let me kcompare this with a dream which an American student allowed me to use and which is concerned with the same theme…


Soul Seeds: Revelations & Drawings by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld; Foreword by Laura Huxley (2008), Cross-Cultural Communications












And to my mentors and beloved comrades who inspire from beyond the concept of death, Dr. Carl Faber, Edmund Kara, Barry Taper, Freda Taper, Dr. Timothy Leary, Dr. Oscar Janiger, Terence McKenna, Nina Graboi, Dr. John Lilly, William Melamed, and the unmentioned others. (Acknowledgements)

Carolyn is interviewed along with Allen Ginsberg, Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Laura Huxley and others in Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium by David Jay Brown & Rebecca Novick. THE CROSSING PRESS, FREEDOM, CA 1993 (p. 91)

Terence McKenna also wrote a blurb that appears on the back of Kleefeld’s book The Alchemy of Possibility: Reinventing Your Personal Mythology (1998):

“A wonderful mature amalgam of esthetic intention. Congratulations!”

— Terence McKenna, author of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching


How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson (2005), HarperCollins











An interview with Terence McKenna by Hodgkinson appeared in the inaugural first  issue (August, 1993) of his journal The Idler. The Terence McKenna Archives does not currently own a copy of this 1993 publication. If you have a copy that you would like to scan, send, or sell, please get in touch.

In this 2005 book, Hodgkinson sprinkles references to McKenna throughout:

It is precisely to prevent us from thinking too much that society pressurizes us all to get out of bed. In 1993, I went to interview the late radical philosopher and drugs researcher Terence McKenna. I asked him why society doesn’t allow us to be more idle. He replied:

I think the reason we don’t organise society in that way can be summed up in the aphorism, “idle hands are the devil’s tool.” In other words institutions fear idle populations because an Idler is a thinker and thinkers are not a welcome addition to most social situations. Thinkers become malcontents, that’s almost a substitute word for idle, “malcontent.” Essentially, we are all kept very busy … under no circumstances are you to quietly inspect the contents of your own mind. Freud called introspection “morbid”–unhealthy, introverted, antisocial, possibly neurotic, potentially pathological.      (pp. 33-4)

“UFOs, the theory goes, are simply folk like us who evolved on another planet and have a more advanced technology,” the late Terence McKenna once remarked. “It doesn’t straing credulity in the way that hypothesizing that we’re in contact with an afterworld or a parallel continuum challenges our notion of reality.” (p. 187)

Robert Louis Stevenson used his dreams to create plots and characters for his stories. Little creatures which he called Brownies revealed stories to him. He said, “My Brownies do one half of my work while I am asleep.” Stevenson’s Brownies sound a bit like the “chattering elves of hyperspace” cited by Terence McKenna as one of the key elements of the experience of taking the drug DMT: mischievous, scampish, truth-giving sprites and fairies. (pp. 264-5)


Exploring the Labyrinth: Making Sense of the New Spirituality by Nevill Drury (1999), Continuum












Published by the same company that published the first edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape (Continuum was then a subsidiary of Seabury Press), this is not Drury first time mentioning McKenna in his work. This will make a fifth entry for Drury in the Bibliography.





Finally, in an overview that links native shamanism with the New Spirituality, mention must be made of the unique and potentially revolutionary vision of Terence McKenna. One of the most controversial and illuminating figures to have emerged from the counter-culture, and arguably the most obvious spiritual successor to Timothy Leary, McKenna is renowned for his gift of eloquent dialogue. In any of his lectures or media appearances he will, more likely than not, amaze his audience with eclectic references to shamanism, visionary literature, psychedelics, UFOs, alchemy and the mystical traditions. But shamanism itself is central to his contribution to contemporary transpersonal perspectives.

McKenna believes that the shamanic model of the universe is not only the most archaic but also the most accurate we have, and that we should heed shamanic traditions and practices in our efforts to map the psyche. He also believes that since research into psychedelics has been banned by governmental authorities–a consequence both of recklessness of the counter-culture as well as the power politics of the establishment–valuable insights into the potentials of consciousness are in danger of being overlooked at a crucial time in our history.

From pages 143-146, Drury goes on to devote the entirety of his attention to McKenna, concluding with:

For him, shamanism is nothing less than the best map we have of consciousness in the modern era, a map which allows us awe-inspiring access to the very core of our being and to the soul of the planet itself. From his perspective, nothing could be more profound or significant than that.

Drury also includes a brief, fairly standard, bio of Terence on page 201: “McKenna, Terence (1946 – );”

The penultimate entry for today’s acquisitions update (I’ll be back with more soon) is the satirical:

Generation Ecch! The Backlash Starts Here by Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman, Comix by Evan Dorkin (1994), Fireside









Cyberpunk hypothesizes that the new technology is a gateway to God. All these years man has been mystified by the divine phenomenon of speaking in tongues, and it turns out it was just PASCAL. Add some drugs to the mix, and you’ve got an idyll of technospiritualism.

If this scene has a guru, it’s the man Timothy Leary himself has called “the Timothy Leary of the nineties,” writer and self-acclaimed prophet genius Terence McKenna. At fortysomething, McKenna is neither neo or retro in his preaching–rather, he’s an actual hippy, a guy who still hangs out in Berkeley and Big Sur exploring the transcendental self-actualizing utopian possibilities of psychedelic drugs. Unsurprisingly, McKenna’s solution to most global and individual problems is what he calls the “heroic dose” of psilocybin, better known as ‘shrooms dude.

McKenna has said that the magic morels speak to him, but the revelations he experienced while drooling in dark corners under the influence are not exactly original. For one thing, they told him to take a .45 and go kill Stacy Moskowitz. Son of ‘Shroom! But seriously … the talking toadstools actually delivered the shocking information that the ecosystem is in trouble! Or perhaps Al Gore was plugging his book Larry King Live while Terence was tripping.

The anthropomorphic fungi have also told him that the way to solve the world’s environmental crisis is to take more ‘shrooms. Cool! It beats composting.

In the wee small hours of the morning, the disciples of cybercrap and McKennan catechism can be found at abandoned warehouses and isolated meadows, where, garbed in Day-Glo rain gear, enormous bell-bottoms and Cat in the Hat chapeaus, they harmoncially converge at futuristic be-ins known as raves. Bearing fluorescent pacifiers ’round their necks and backpacks crammed with Yodels, Silly String and VapoRub, they get juiced on nootropics and find sustenance in the nourishing sugar and caffeine of Jolt cola. Other nutritional requirements are fulfilled with large colorful hanfuls of crunchy yummy Flintstones vitamins. Unapologetically escapist, fatuously optimistic and barely sybaritic, these festivities meld digital technology and New Age posturing with elements of previously viewed youth culture: disco’s party! party! mentality, the frenzied spasmodics of punk, psychedelic pspirituality and that old favorite, the Dionysian bacchanal. (pp. 166-8)


And, finally for today’s post (see you next time):

Big American Trip by Christian Peet (2001), Shearsman Books


This collection of fictional postcards, as you no doubt anticipate, includes a mention of Terence McKenna:

Says the Alien Terence McKenna:

“The starships of the future, in other words the vehicles of the future, which will explore the high frontier of the unknown, will be syntactical. The engineers of the future will be poets.”

[Addressed to:] NASA/DOD, Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA 94035



Opiated References, Or Memetic Scholarship & the Perils of Uncareful Citation

Wherein is Explored an Uncareful Tradition of Commentary on the Antiquity (or Lack Thereof) of Knowledge of Opium Addiction


While working on updates to my analysis of Terence McKenna’s bibliography for Food of the Gods, I encountered a consistently repeated mistake in the literature on the history of opium. This page details the nature of the mistake and offers a correction to that literature. This, then, is a post about historical myths. Precisely because the case itself is of relatively low stakes, it offers a useful case study for how such historical myths (almost inevitably) develop out of uncareful transmission chains, like a game of citation ‘telephone’; the case study is therefore instructive in thinking about potentially more consequential accumulated historical errors.

Early 17th Century Travel Literature

In 1613, as the European seagoing powers jockeyed for power on the now-global stage, an Essex-born, Cambridge-educated pastor, Samuel Purchas (pronounced “Per-kiss”) (1577-1626), who would become the chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury the following year, published a popular volume of travel literature that would sell well enough and quickly enough for him to produce two revised editions in as many years (and a fourth edition a decade later). Purchas took advantage of the ongoing spate of sea voyages to exotic lands and his proximity to the Essex shipping town of Leigh-on-Sea to gather together and narrate what amounted to a pastiched bricolage of other people’s travel narratives–Purchas himself had never left England or traveled within a few hundred miles of Essex.

While much of the opium literature that cites Purchas as an early source of information about cultural habits and perceptions only mentions the short title of his book, Purchas His Pilgrimage, it is worth repeating the full subtitle (and extended frontispiece), if for no other reason than that these long, and now sadly out of style, British subtitles are delightfully evocative, often offering a much clearer sense of an author’s overall perspective and goals than the more concise titles in style at present. In this case, the full frontispiece of reverend Samuel Purchas’ 1613, 800-page, travel collage, dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury, reads: Purchas His Pilgrimage, Or Relations of the World and the Religions Observed in All Ages And Places Discovered, From the Creation Unto the Present–In Four Parts–This First Containeth A Theological And Geographical History of Asia, Africa, and America, with the Lands Adjacent. Declaring the Ancient Religions Before the Flood, the Heathenish, Jewish, and Saracenicall in all Ages Since, in those parts professed, with their several Opinions, Idols, Oracles, Temples, Priests, Fasts, Feasts, Sacrifices, and Rites Religious: Their Beginnings, Proceedings, Alterations, Sects, Orders and Successions. With Brief Descriptions of the Countries, Nations, States, Discoveries, Private and Public Customs, and the Most Remarkable Rarities of Nature, or Human Industry, in the Same.

A Memetic Tradition Begins

Authors outlining the history of opium have consistently pointed to this 1613 publication by Purchas as the first published account of an awareness of the addictive potential of opium. The apparently prototypical exposition of this in the opium literature, by the Oxford-trained British author Alethea Hayter, looks like this (the exact details of the quote, and those that follow, will be important):

The mythology of opium flowed into Europe in the stories of returning travellers from the East, who told of the endurance feats of the Tartar couriers, and even of their horses, when both man and beast were fortified against fatigue by opium; of the Turkish soldiers who took the drug to nerve their courage before going into battle; of the travellers in Africa and Asia who valued it because, as Purchas puts it, “they suppose I know not what conjunction and efficacie both of Mars and Venus therein; but being once used, must daily be continued on paine of death,” though some escape by taking to wine instead.

This awareness that opium is addictive is rarely found so early as 1613, when Purchas his Pilgrimage was published.

(Alethea Hayter, Opium and the Romantic Imagination, 1968, pp. 21-2)

Hayter cites (in her endnotes) the 1613, first edition, of Purchas’ book. It is worth noting, about this passage, that Hayter’s direct quoting of Purchas concludes at the words “paine of death;” her comment about the use of wine is her own paraphrase and not a direct quote from Purchas–this will become relevant as we proceed. In all likelihood, she was not in possession of Purchas’ 1613 text or else she would have realized that no such line is to be found there. The quote is actually from the revised 2nd edition (1614) and is absent in the first edition (1613). This is, no doubt, a relatively minor correction in the overall scope of the history of opium. However, what it does that is more important is to underscore that once an attribution is in print, it can be very difficult to correct, and later authors often come to rely on the authority of those who have come before. It shows how easily a misattribution can become “truth” as it continues to be communicated. Thus, despite the absence of this passage in Purchas’ book (as cited), nearly all future authors who have written on the subject have repeated Hayter’s misattributions (of which the dating of the text is not the only instance).

For example, a 1973 British heroin policy book, Heroin and Behaviour: Diversity Among Addicts Attending London Clinics follows Hayter’s lead and cites her influence, although changing Hayter’s “rarely found so early” to a more definitive “the first mention”:

The addictive quality of opium was known and the first mention of this seems to be by Purchas writing in 1613. Of travellers in Africa and Asia who used it he wrote “they suppose I know not what conjunction and efficacie both of Mars and Venus therein; but being once used, must daily be continued on paine of death.”

(p. 23)

In Martin Booth’s Opium: A History (1998):

Inevitably, with such an extensive application of opium for a huge range of illnesses, addiction was common, yet it was hardly ever addressed and was generally accepted as the price one paid for the relief of pain. One reference to the hazard of addiction may be found in Purchas’s volume, Purchas His Pilgrimage, published in 1613:

“…they [travellers in Africa and Asia] suppose I know not what conjunction and efficacie both of Mars and Venus are therein; but being once used, must daily be continued on paine of death.”

(p. 30)

We have the development of a tradition within the opium literature. The same meme is being repeated and misunderstandings accrued, apparently based on secondary imitation rather than primary research.

Again in Peter Lee’s Opium Culture: The Art and Ritual of the Chinese Tradition (2006):

…Western physicians seem to have been generally unaware of the drug’s addictive potential until the early seventeenth century. In 1613, Samuel Purchas made the observation that “being once used, must daily be continued on pain of death, though some escape by taking to wine instead.”

(p. 7)

By this point in the extended game of telephone, the “observation” itself is now being attributed directly to Purchas, whereas in reality Purchas was simply reporting what he had read or heard in the reports of others. Further, and tellingly, Hayter’s extended paraphrasing of Purchas (“though some escape by taking to wine instead”), has been concretized as if it were part of Purchas’ original statement, and her attribution of the statement to “travellers” has become parenthetically inserted into Purchas’ own quote. It is somewhat ironic that Lee has misquoted Hayter’s misattributed citation and done so without crediting or citing Hayter–a form of plagiarism belied by the compounding of mistakes that reveal both his reliance on, and his misread mimicking, of the earlier source that he failed to attribute.

Two recent histories of opium, Milk of Paradise: A History of Opium by Lucy Inglis (2019) and Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned Our World by John Halpern & David Blistein (2019), omit the anecdote entirely. Inglis’ book mentions the more common anecdote about Purchas, also described in each of the books mentioned so far, that it was a dreary, opiated Samuel Taylor Coleridge who fell asleep while reading a copy of one of Purchas’ “pilgrim” books. It was during this slumber that his poem Xanadu came to him fully-formed in his opium dream, which he was only partly able to scrawl down before losing the fading dream memory of the rest. That is another interesting story altogether and would be a distraction here.


This brings us finally back around to Terence McKenna and his (1992) book Food of the Gods, whose citation led me down this path in the first place.


On page 194 of Food of the Gods (Chapter 12: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: Opium and Tobacco, note 4), Terence quotes Hayter (1968) as part of a general argument about the distinction between ancient and modern perceptions of opium:

Though opium’s habit-forming quality was mentioned by Heraclides of Tarentum, in the third century B.C., this was something even physicians were generally unaware of until nearly two thousand years later. We who have been raised with the notion of addiction and disease may find it hard to believe that chemical dependency upon opiates was not noted or described by medical authorities until early in the seventeenth century. Samuel Purchas, writing in 1613, observed of opium that “but being once used, it must daily be continued on paine of death, though some escape by taking to wine instead.” Alethea Hayter comments that “this awareness that opium is addictive is rarely found so early.”4

It is noteworthy that, because of the way he breaks up his citation here, Terence also partly plagiarizes Hayter’s research–and does so in a way that causes him to perpetuate her dating error–even though he doesn’t attribute the comment about Purchas to her. The endnote 4 that concludes the paragraph only cites Hayter’s direct quote from page 22 of her book (“This awareness…is rarely found so early”), although Terence also borrows the directly preceding quote from Purchas and the attribution to the year 1613 from Hayter, which begins on (her) page 21 (a page not included in his citation). In other words, the only attribution Terence gives Hayter here is for what he puts in quotes, making it appear as though the quote from, and details about, Purchas were part of his own original research. Indeed, if you look at pages 21-22 of Hayter’s book, the extra borrowing (and misattribution) by Terence is clear:


As in the case with Lee (above), it becomes clear that Terence borrowed the information, mostly uncited, from Hayter, that he did not read or cite Purchas himself, and that he misread the boundaries of Hayter’s direct quoting vs. paraphrasing of Purchas and as a result included her paraphrase of Purchas (about wine) as though it were a direct quote from Purchas. Indeed, Terence appears to be the first to have made this mistake, which could mean that Peter Lee was plagiarizing Terence who was plagiarizing Hayter (although, to be fair to Terence, he does at least cite her at all–which is what allowed me to sort this all out).

In 1992, Terence writes “Samuel Purchas, writing in 1613, observed of opium…,” and in 2006 Lee writes “In 1613, Samuel Purchas made the observation that opium…” Lee copies two of Terence’s mistakes: 1) attributing Hayter’s paraphrase about wine directly to Purchas, and 2) attributing the observation directly to Purchas rather than having Purchas acting as a reporter of the observations of others. Lee compounds this by making no reference at all to Hayter who he apparently doesn’t realize that he is quoting by proxy; he doesn’t cite Terence either.

At this point, things are getting rather sticky. Each step along the way is adding another small layer of distortion from the original publication, which each author claims to be directly representing, but there is no evidence that anybody in the chain has directly checked what Purchas himself wrote….even Hayter. This seems like a good time, then, to turn to Purchas himself.

Return to the Source

As you will see, in Purchas’ original text, which is part of a chapter on the “Creatures, Plants, and Fruits of India,” there is no specific reference to travellers at all. This seems to be part of the tradition added by Hayter, who very well may, herself, have been borrowing from another source quoting Purchas. This seems likely, given that the 1613 edition that she cites doesn’t contain the passage in question and that, where the passage does appear, in later editions, “travellers” are not the users mentioned by Purchas. This makes it unlikely that Hayter had the source to hand and suggests the possibility that she, too, is plagiarizing an earlier source quoting Purchas while pretending, with her citation, that she had consulted the original. It is perhaps noteworthy, in that sense, that Hayter doesn’t provide a page number citation in Purchas’ (1613) text but only cites the whole book.

Purchas’ original full quote about opium that is being drawn on here is not found in the 1613 first edition of Purchas His Pilgrimage but rather in the 1614 second and revised edition. In it, the expanded Chapter XII on “Creatures, Plants, and Fruits of India” contains the following (and full) commentary on opium:

Opium is the juice of the heads of black poppy being cut – a dangerous drug, used much in Asia and Africa, which makes them go as if they were half asleep: they suppose I know not what conjunction and efficacy of both Mars and Venus therein: but once used, must daily be continued on pain of death, which some escaped in Acosta’s company by the help of wine.

This is directly preceded by a description of olive trees and directly followed by a mention of bhang (“of like use, especially with slaves and soldiers, made them drunk, merry, and so to forget their labor.”) and so represents the entirety of Purchas’ passage on opium.


Several things are of note here:

1) Purchas describes travellers’ reports of opium being “used much” in Asia and Africa rather than writing that it is the travellers themselves who use opium. This is notable because the memetic tradition of writing about this has picked up on Hayter’s, rather than Purchas’, identification of the opium users as “travellers,” and it is her description and not Purchas’ that has been repeated subsequently in all of the cases mentioned– although in each case, the claim is attributed directly to Purchas rather than Hayter, often without even citing Hayter or anyone else, making it seem as though this were each author’s own research.

This is the real irony that I see here: authors failing to properly cite their resources, and, in doing so, perpetuating the errors of the sources that they are simultaneously relying on, and sometimes failing to cite at all, or citing without actually checking the source cited or, if checked, misreading it.

2) In her treatment of Purchas’ quote, Hayter chooses to paraphrase the concluding remark about wine to make it more general (“…some take to wine…”), thus eliminating Purchas’ quite specific reference to a single specific report, by Acosta, about the use of wine among his company, to temporarily alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of opium. Other authors, notably Terence McKenna, have perpetuated Hayter’s generalized paraphrase, even going so far as to cite it directly as Purchas’ own language. However, the original passage makes clear that it is a specific reference rather than a general claim. This is further evidence that Hayter did not consult Purchas directly but was cribbing another uncited source.

3) Perhaps more importantly in this tradition of telling the history of opium, the original passage also makes clear that Purchas was not the first to describe the addictive properties of opium but, rather, that Purchas himself was simply reporting what he had read in another book and therefore was not making a novel “observation” of which he was the earliest known author. Thus, Hayter’s claim that Purchas was the earliest to mention this association is belied by Purchas’ own text. Had any of the writers in this tradition of opium history-telling checked Purchas’ books, it would have been abundantly clear that Purchas was not the earliest reference, since Purchas himself cites another author (Acosta) as the source of his information.

The Portuguese physician and natural historian Cristóbal Acosta‘s book (written in Spanish) is Tractado de las Drogas, y medicinas de las Indias Orientales, con sus Plantas debuxadas al biuo por Christoval Acosta medico y circujano que las vio ocularmente, En el qual se verifica mucho de lo que escriuio el Doctor Garcia de Orta, Dirigido a la muy noble y muy mas leal ciudad de Burgos cabeca de Castilla y camara de su Magestad (Treatise on the Drugs and Medicines of the East Indies, with its plants drawn by eye by Cristóbal Acosta, a doctor and surgeon who saw them with his own eyes, in which much of what Doctor Garcia de Orta wrote is verified, Addressed to the very noble and most loyal city of Burgos, head of Castile and chamber of His Majesty) was published in 1578, thirty five years ahead of Purchas’ first edition, and based, in part, on Acosta’s own direct experience, which Purchas was only reporting–and, Acosta himself cites earlier authors on opium, including the Garcia de Orta whose writings are claimed to be verified by this text.

Within a whole chapter on opium in Acosta (Chapter LXVIII [68], “Del Opio”), we find the passage that Purchas had read and referenced and which Hayter omitted Purchas’ reference to, spawning some of the confusions in the historical tradition being considered in this post:

(Opium. Chapter 68)

(bottom of pg. 313)

Y que supiesse, que solo este remedio a uia para les quitar el uso, y falta del aunque era remedio para ellos muy duro, y enojoso, porsen contra suley: mas q pues necessidad de la vida tanto les costrenia que era por fuerca suffrirlo. Y afsiyoles yo les fuy dando el vino por la orden del dicho Turco, y ninguno dellos murio, y antes de un mes no quisieron el vino, y no les hizo dano la falta de opio: y acometendole por vezes con vino, y tentando a uno con un poco de opio, que yo tenia enla botica, que en la naue lleuaua para curar a los enfermos, ni opio ni vi no quisieron.

[And he knew that only this remedy was available to take away their use, and lack of it, although it was a very hard remedy for them, and annoying, because it went against their law (author’s suggestion: perhaps against their nature or habit?): more than the necessity of life would cost them so much that it was by force to suffer it (author’s note: in other words, they had to be forced to undergo abstinence). And afterwards I gave them wine by order of the said Turk, and none of them died, and within a month they did not want the wine, and the lack of opium did not harm them: and accosting them at times with wine, and tempting with a little opium, which I had in the pharmacy, which I brought in the ship to cure the sick, they neither wanted opium or (even) to see it.]

Part of the irony here is that had Hayter done due diligence and checked Purchas’ first edition (1613), she would not only have found an earlier published source (1578)  describing awareness of opium addiction and noticed that the passage she was interested in was only added in later revisions but would have actually found that the addictive potential of opium was addressed in the 1613 first edition after all….just not in the passage that she quoted–which, as we now know, didn’t exist in that edition and wasn’t added until the subsequent revision, a year later.

Back in Purchas (1613), we find the following passage that, until now, seems to have eluded the tradition of historical scholarship on opium and which serves as an actual reference to opium addiction in Purchas’ first edition. In this sense, the tradition has been correct that Purchas’ 1613 text contains a reference to opium addiction (although that same tradition has elided Acosta from that history, despite allegedly describing European, rather than simply Anglophone, awareness). However, the tradition has been accidentally correct, quoting the second edition while citing the first. What they could have quoted from the first edition is the following, in “Chapter 7: Of Cambai, and the neighbouring nations”:

Chapter 7, pg. 407

“This Machamut deserveth mention for one thing, wherein the Sunni hath fierce beheld his like. He so accustomed himself to poisons, that no day passed wherein he took not some: for else he himself had died, sayth Barbosa, as it fareth with Amfian, or Opium, the use whereof killeth such as never took it, and the disuse, such as have.”

But, had the historical record included this reference, it would have complicated things further, since here is not only a clear reference to “the disuse” of opium killing those who have started using it, but also another reference to an earlier source on opium addiction on which Purchas is relying rather than innovating, namely “Barbosa.”

Duarte Barbosa (1480-1521) was a Portuguese officer, pastor, scrivener, and travel writer in Portuguese India. His circa 1516 Livro de Duarte Barbosa (Book of Duarte Barbosa), roughly 70 years prior to Acosta’s text, and published in English in 1918 (used in image and quote below), offers another even earlier reference to awareness of the addictive potential of opium also, as the others, focused on “Cambaya/Cambaia” (modern Khambat in Gujarat, India), and clearly the source of Purchas’ 1613 statement:

“… And he could never give up eating this poison, for if he did so he would die forthwith, as we see by experience of the opium¹ which the most of the Moors and Indians eat; if they left off eating it they would die…”

“¹ Opium. This account of the practice of opium-eating, and its gradual effects, is very accurate. The Portuguese word used, “amfiam,” is taken from the Arabic afyūn which is itself derived from the Greek . Ramusio also uses the Portuguese term and explains it by the Italian oppio.”

This not only takes evidence of European awareness of the addictive properties of opium back into the early 16th (rather than 17th) century but also points us, along with a series of potential etymologies, toward yet another even earlier source of writing about opium: Ramusio.

Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557), Italian geographer and travel writer, was something of an Italian proto-Samuel Purchas. While he, himself, traveled little, his book Navigationi et Viaggi [Navigations and Travels] (Volume 1, 1550) compiled the first-hand accounts of those who had. Ramusio was perhaps the first to have done so and so set a precedent that would lead to Purchas’ own Pilgrim books. Among other firsts, Ramusio’s text contains the first European literary reference to tea, in its section on China.

Interestingly, in light of the current analysis, Ramusio’s account of of the Indies was, itself, based on the work of an even earlier author, whose unpublished work he had acquired but whose name he did not know. We now know that this author was the Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires (1465-1524 or 1540). Pires’ Summa Oriental que trata do Mar Roxo até aos Chins (Summary Text on the East, from the Red Sea to China) was never published and was presumed lost (until located in an archive in 1944); it was based on his travels, beginning in 1511, accompanying the Prince of Portugal as his “factor of drugs” to India and was composed between 1512 and 1515.

In the text, Pires speaks of the king of the Deccan, “called Sultan Mahamud Xaa…” This is presumably the same ruler, of the same name, spoken of in the previously cited passages by other authors, and says of him that he is “addicted to opium and women and spends all of his time in this way.”

Purchas, in his text, glosses Idalcam as a kind of “captaine” to the king, the title, he says, derives from the Persian Adel-ham, meaning “King (or Prince) of Justice.” In other words, the king is addicted to opium and women, and so are his officers or courtiers or officials.

This analysis, then, pushes back literary reference to awareness of opium addiction, in European sources, back a century beyond what is currently reflected in histories of opium published since the latter half of the 20th century. More poignantly, it uncovers and excavates the contours of a previously unnoticed tradition of historical mythology through which successive authors have borrowed from each other (sometimes without attribution) in ways that have both obscured and distorted the original sources from which their claims ultimately derive. While the historical tradition ends up being accidentally correct in their attribution of awareness of opium’s addictive potential to Samuel Purchas in the first edition of Puchas His Pilgrimage (1613), it has done so by repeatedly (mis-)attributing to him a passage that was only subsequently added to later, revised, editions. This oversight occurred, and was repeated, despite that a passage on opium addiction does, in fact, appear in the earliest edition. Both passages, however, indicate the existence of earlier texts that historical scholarship should have picked up on and included in their chronologies. That they didn’t do so is good evidence that this historical tradition (beginning at least with Alethea Hayter) was developed in absence of any direct interaction with Purchas’ texts, despite direct citations to him.

Terence McKenna played a role in this tradition by way of uncareful citation; his misleading citation of only part of what he borrowed from Hayter, and his misreading of what he did borrow, uncited, seems to have influenced others who picked up his mistakes, carried them forward, and extended them further. This analysis hopefully serves as a partial corrective to this particular historical tradition but more fundamentally offers a venue for considering the broader phenomenon of historical mythology of which it is an example and provides an opportunity for reflection and a reminder and goad to do better. No doubt, and perhaps inevitably following Muphry’s Law (yes, Muphry’s!), in my attempt to correct the record, I have made my own mistakes and am initiating further traditions. In that regard, for the most part, I don’t necessarily blame most of the authors treated here for their oversights and am very acutely aware that we can each only perform so much due diligence without having to eventually cross-reference the whole cosmos.

[Please, correct me, on points fine and broad, if you are able–and, if you can improve any of my translations, don’t hesitate to comment!]

Launching the New Terence McKenna Bibliography!

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of the Terence McKenna Bibliography!

Terence McKenna Archives 2 from Ken Adams / Dank Mesa on Vimeo.

Librarian Chris Mays spent over a decade (2000-2013) compiling the largest extant bibliographic catalog of references to material by and about Terence McKenna. It is an astonishing resource for assisting McKenna research. The existence of the Terence McKenna Archives (and the scope of its contents) owes a great debt to the existence of Chris’ expertly compiled database. Chris has since retired, both as a librarian and from maintaining and updating the bibliography. Having worked closely with Chris for many years (particularly helping him update the music portion of the bibliography), and Chris having seen the care with which I have developed the archives, he was kind enough to entrust the care of the bibliography to me. It has taken quite a lot of effort to import all of the old html files and re-format them for this WordPress site, and I’ve already begun to update it, having added nearly 100 entries above and beyond what already existed in Chris’ last version….and with plenty more that still needs to be cataloged (mostly in the “Books and Articles About” section). And, so now it is time to make it available to everyone!

After having been absent a home on the web for many years, the bibliography will be permanently accessible via the main menu at the top of every page of the Terence McKenna Archives website. It will take some time to get all of the hyperlinks re-established (especially in the indexes), as each needs to be reconfigured individually. But, this unparalleled resource should now be fully available to access for public benefit.

You can use this link (or just click “Terence McKenna Bibliography” on the menu at the top of the page): https://terencemckennaarchives.com/terence-mckenna-bibliography/










Of course, I will need all of your help to be sure that I’m keeping the bibliography updated with the most recent (and the most complete) information possible. While I always have my eyes and ears attuned to new-to-the-bibliography content, and have plenty on the back burner to fill in gaps in the existing catalogs, I can’t be aware of everything and very much welcome tips and pointers for identifying new entries to add to the bibliography. If you come across a book, an article, a podcast, a video, a film, a comic book, an artwork, a meme, anything that makes reference to Terence McKenna, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Over time, I will be creating categories in the bibliography for media not currently represented.

Alternately, if you are yourself an author, musician, artist, etc. and would like to see your Terence McKenna-related content represented in the Terence McKenna Bibliography, please let me know and I will add your content. Even better if you are able to send me a copy of your work to include in the archive itself. Your work will be preserved for posterity along with the rest of the archival holdings.

And, keep an eye out for more forthcoming archives content in the coming weeks and months! There will be more announcements, historical blog posts, archival holding spotlights, and other content forthcoming…

Terence McKenna Art & Photography

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).

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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.

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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.

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Matthew Scott Lawrence

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Matthew Scott Lawrence

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Self portrait using Procreate with an iPad Pro

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Drawn on April 3rd, 2017 to commemorate Terence’s day of passing

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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.

Sturch 001

Adam is prolific in his highly-competent style. Check him out on instagram.

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Aaron Raybuck (Artist)

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:

Raybuck 001Raybuck 002Raybuck 003Raybuck 004


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:

Joanna Sasso


Joanna Sasso also has a counterculture figures series:


Lucy Hannah Barritt

Lucy Hannah Barritt‘s chalk, bleach, and acrylic ‘Terence McKenna’ is unique and stunning, and I’m very pleased to have a large, quality print of it in the archive.


Lucy’s art is ever-evolving, and it’s always a pleasure to see what she’s up to lately:

img006-e1541360689501carnival-jpgLucy 001


Jeff Drew

Jeff Drew‘s highly detailed digital rendering of Terence’s revisioning of human history ‘from monkeydom to starshiphood’. I was able to print this one myself due to the kind offer by Jeff Drew to allow me to make prints available as part of our ongoing crowdfund (for which many of the other artists mentioned on this page have also donated prints).


Jeff is also highly prolific and accomplished. Here’s just a small taste:

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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.

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Terence McKenna Archives Acquisitions Update

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.i-D No 107 August 1992 001

i-D No 107 August 1992 002i-D No 107 August 1992 003i-D No 107 August 1992 004

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.

New Yorker (Dec 2004) (Jeffrey Toobin) 001CaptureCapture2Toobin-dmt

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.

Ayahuasca Analogs 001

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.

Emerald Tablet

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 #46 (April 1995) 00120191216_143553

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.


Terence McKenna and the Secret Chief (Crowdfund Acquisitions #4)

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).

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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.

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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.

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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].”

[Terence reads a selection from ‘Letter Three’ of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, and mentions its importance to Zeff]

“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 Books in Translation

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.

Thanks, in particular, to Castellarte, the publisher of the Spanish translation of True Hallucinations Alucinaciones Reales: Relato de las Extraordinarias Aventuras del Autor en el Paraiso del Diablo (2001). They were kind enough to send me two beautiful copies for the archival collection. It is produced in the style of the original HarperSanFrancisco edition.

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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.

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Of all of the translated editions of True Hallucinations, my favorite, aesthetically remains the Italian translation, Vere Allucinazioni, published by Shake Edizioni Underground and abundantly & skillfully illustrated by Matteo Guarnaccia. I have an entire previous blog post on this edition.

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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.

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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”).

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We also have some copies of foreign-language books or translations that include contributions by, or interviews with, Terence McKenna.

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This heady German volume includes a translated 3-page extract of Terence from a conversation with musician b-Eden, called “Psychedelische Erfahrungen” [Psychedelic Experiences]

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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.

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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”

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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)!

Terence McKenna Ads in Magical Blend Magazine (June 1998)

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). Magical Blend June 1998 001

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.

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I’m not actually sure yet which of these Whole Life Expos Terence spoke at in 1998.

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The book ‘A Magical Universe’ features an essay by Terence McKenna (there are a few copies left available through our crowdfund).

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Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ The New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998

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Terence was popular enough in the pages of Magical Blend that they created a special Terence McKenna issues specialty set that readers could purchase.

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(Bottom Right) – The Psychedelic Sourcebook: “The most complete, focused and subversive psychedelic resource list in print.” -Terence McKenna – A psychonaut must!

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(Bottom left) – Better decisions, better relationships. Visit the authentic Oracle of Changes online. Absolutely FREE. “Cool, very cool.” -Terence McKenna – http://www.ICHING.com

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Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998

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Terence McKenna, Entheobotany Seminars & Sierra Madre Talks

[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 2018-08-29-01-41-09.jpgthe 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’).

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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:

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Crowdfund Acquisitions #3 – In Memoriam: Terence McKenna (April 3, 2000) – Excerpts from Esalen 1999 in ‘Green Egg’ Magazine

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: