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:
Today’s random item from the archives is from the San Francisco Examiner newspaper from December 14, 2000, eight months after Terence McKenna’s death. It is a listing in the ‘Daily Datebook’ section of the paper for an event the following evening (Dec. 15) with the band Lost at Last, with special guest Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, held in memory of Terence’s passing. In addition to the Examiner listing, this post includes details about the event, Lesh’s announcement of Terence’s death, an audio recording of the entire concert (including Phil Lesh reading Robert Hunter’s poem ‘Words for Terence’), videos of related performances with Lost at Last, and information about a follow-up event 11 years later.
Lost at Last had performed several times with Terence raving alongside. At least two of those, one in San Francisco and one in Hawaii, were recorded and are worth viewing:
For his part, Phil Lesh had also been a long-time fan of Terence’s work, penning this blurb which appeared on Terence’s book True Hallucinations:
“How the Magellan of mentats put his mind and body on the line and discovered the source of consciousness, the end of history, and the factors that govern the ingress of novelty into our world. If you’ve been there, this book will take you back; if you haven’t, get ready.” –Phil Lesh, The Grateful Dead
Today we have lost our dear brother. A tremendous warrior. A voice that spoke the language of the universe. The language of the Overmind. Speaking all tongues and from the heart of the Eschaton, Terence will always be rembered and loved.Almost one short year ago, at Mountain Airre, Phil Lesh asked the crowd to take a moment of silence to reflect love and healing light unto those in need. A voice called out Terence’s name. My friends and I had not known that there was anything wrong with Terence until that moment.The full moon that night shown with a curious glow. An eerie feeling touched some of us, even pondering the possible lose of Terence.Now he has past. Before the great 2012 event or in preperation? He leaves us a wealth of enlightening information and awe-inspiring theories and insights into the great psychedelic Other that goes unparralled.What he did best was explore the realms of consciousness. Now his words and spirit will forever continue to shape humanity’s greater Mind. He plays in that band now, with Jerry, celebrating a life on earth that was as golden as all eternity’s love. We will miss you Terence.
‘Countdown to 2012 – Celebrating the Life and Logos of Terence McKenna’. On December 15, 2000, in San Francisco, the tribe gathered for a memorial ceremony for Terence McKenna and to celebrate a new commitment to the evolving group mind, commUNITY, love and expression.The event featured 2 rooms of art, multimedia and music, including a performance by Lost at Last with a very special guest appearance by PHIL LESH, eulogy readings, invocation and decorations by many friends and loved ones of Terence’s, multimedia presentations by visual artists Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffman, mind expanding grooves of DJ FANOE and DJ JONAS, masterful visual ‘Gel-o-tronics’ by Vince D’Onofrio, and other blissful multimedia by Scott Davies, and the debute performance of Tinsel Tilde (joined by friends Daniel Paul and Diva Priyo of Lost at Last). Proceeds from the event went to help provide for expenses incurred during Terence’s illness.
Although Dennis McKenna (Terence’s brother) could not attend, he sent these words along and helped sum up what we were all feeling: “This gathering is an affirmation of HOPE, and a statement that however dark things may seem in these times, we have the faith and belief that the future will be more marvelous than we can even begin to imagine… Until that moment, we must somehow keep on keeping on…When the countdown finally gets down to the end and we make the COLLECTIVE crossing, in whatever form that takes, we will find Terence waiting for us there, bemused smile on his face as always, saying something like ‘Well, I told you it was gonna happen: what kept you?’…This gathering and celebration is a message to the world that we are up to the task ..Go forth, celebrate the future, life, ideas and hope: be as good as you can be to each other, and know that Terence is with us now, and will be with us at the ESCHATON, whenever and whatever that is…
There was a new sense of cummUNITY and magic felt by all present at the event. We were especially treated when Phil Lesh joined Lost at Last for a most appropriate version of Lost at Last’s jam ‘PEYOTE’, followed by OTHER ONE, DARK STAR, and FRANKLIN’s TOWER. To cap it off, Phil read Robert Hunter’s ‘Words for Terence’ written exclusively for the event.
A subsequent, follow-up concert, also dubbed ‘Countdown to 2012’ was held 11 years later in December, 2011.
The event also once again payed tribute to Terence McKenna – author, speaker, visionary, and overall psychonaut – who created the infamous Time Wave Zero Novelty Theory which postulates that “the universe has a teleological attractor at the end of time that increases interconnectedness, eventually reaching a singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously.” Dennis McKenna participated by appearing via a special Skype video message. Sadly, Terence died in 2000 as result of the deadly brain tumor Glioblastoma. In memory of Terence and on behalf of Countdown to 2012 and 13:28 Productions, a portion of postproduction proceeds were donated to the National Brain Tumor Society and information and literature was made available to help raise awareness of this deadly cancer.