Crowdfund Acquisitions #1 – Gnosis Magazine (First Issue, 1985), Review of ‘True Hallucinations’ Talking Book

This post will be the first in a series where I share the fruits of The Terence McKenna Archives crowdfund campaign.

I have just acquired the first of two major purchases with the money derived from our ongoing crowdfund. Over the weekend, on my way to a conference in Berkeley, I stopped in San Francisco, at the apartment of Jay Kinney, who was the editor of Gnosis magazine (1985-1999). Terence McKenna appeared on the pages of Gnosis numerous times over the course of its history and he and Kat were among its earliest subscribers and supporters (as you’ll see later in this post). Jay also tells me that Terence was instrumental in helping Gnosis to acquire its first, game-changing, high-end laser printer, for a substantial discount, via Terence’s Timewave programmer, Peter Meyer.

I purchased a full set of the entire run of Gnosis magazine from Jay and will be making posts on Terence McKenna-related material that appears within individual issues as I work my way through the collection.

I’ll start, here, with Gnosis #1 (Fall/Winter 1985)

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Terence and Kat were among the earliest ‘Helping Subscribers’ (donating $20 in addition to a $15 subscription), which helped allow The Lumen Foundation to publish 5,000 copies of this first issue.

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By 1985, Terence had only previously published The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, which wasn’t widely distributed and would have been out of print, and Psilocybin Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide, which did sell widely, was authored under a pseudonym, O. T. Oss (both books co-authored with his brother Dennis), and his public speaking career was relatively fresh. The True Hallucinations talking book had, however, just been produced and was positively reviewed, in this first issue of Gnosis, by Ted Schulz.

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This is a book about the kind of revelatory mystical experience that is induced by psychedelic substances. It’s also a book about an exotic expedition undertaken by five friends bound together by a mutual inquisitiveness, especially about subjectively-experienced ethnopharmacology. And it isn’t a book at all, but an eight-cassette “talking book” with fine production quality and effective use of modest sound effects and music.

In 1971, Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis, along with three friends, all young American middle-class intellectuals, set off on a journey into Columbia’s Amazonian wilderness, seeking out the remote area inhabited by the Witoto Indians, a tribe noted for its use of certain psychoactive substances. There, according to plan, they entered the equally lush and far less understood jungle of psychedelic consciousness, as they experimented with ever larger and increasingly frequent doses of the locale’s plentiful psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Terence in particular had prepared for this inner journey, having devoted a number of years to the study of revelatory mystical experience and having pursued a variety of spiritual teachings in exotic locations around the globe. This preparation notwithstanding, he and his brother returned from their experiment changed men, to spend perhaps the rest of their lives constructing theories about that overwhelming experience, as they continue to ask “What happened?”

The McKenna brothers proposed their rigorously phrased answer to this question in their work, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching (1975, Seabury Press), a serious and carefully constructed cosmology that synthesized their Amazonian revelations. But it is in True Hallucinations that Terence has chosen to tell the human side of the story, in all the untidy detail of a sincere quest made by faltering and confused seekers-after-truth. Normally, the thought of spending nine-and-a-half hours listening to a psychedelic veteran recount his most memorable trips would leave me cold, but McKenna pulls off the feat of entertaining in the process. the backbone of his narrative is an account of the party’s voyage along the Putumayo River, of their difficult overland trek, and their surroundings at their destination, La Chorrera, and it is to this linear ground that he continually returns after flights into psychedelic theory and cosmic philosophy. The story has much of the appeal of an adventure travelogue, with the curious twist of an unusual cast of characters with an even more unusual purpose. Along the way, the intrepid band meets a number of eccentrics, including the leader of a cult of displaced Americans who divines with a Ouija board and is accompanied by a monkey that is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ; and a cocaine-crazed, paranoid, and megalomaniacal anthropologist who has fallen victim to the excessive habit of the tribe he meant to study.

In McKenna’s wry recounting, the dynamics between the five members of this amateur ethnopharmacological expedition are, in the lighter moments, diverting in the manner of a New Age soap opera. At other times they take on the aspect of allegory, reflecting the diametrical human reaction to the power of the psychedelic experience as the group ultimately splinters intro two factions. On the one hand, three people, Terence, his lover, Ev, and his brother, Dennis, continue to ingest copious quantities of the mushrooms, convinced that they are working toward a goal of ultimate importance — the creation of a literal, physical doorway to a higher dimension. On the other hand, the two remaining members of the group back off, alarmed at what they perceive as pre-psychotic behavior in the McKennas. It is, in fact, Dennis McKenna’s extremely crazed behavior that finally precipitates the group’s premature departure from their jungle base and their return to civilization, but it is also through his brother’s behavior that Terence McKenna is stimulated into some of his most meaningful breaks into higher reality.

McKenna describes instances of telepathy, clairvoyance, materialization of lost objects; glimpses of alien beings and higher dimensions; of disembodied voices speaking portents. he describes UFO/flying saucer symbolism and visions, culminating in his climactic and life-changing encounter with an alien craft.  Did these things have an objective reality outside the drug experience? McKenna treats this issue with intelligence and bemusement, and this is what elevates his account from mere psychedelic theory-mongering into a genuine, candid inquiry into the nature of the psychedelic experience and of the solutions to the existential questions the experience intimates. I’m left with an impression of McKenna honestly and humbly seeking the truth through psychedelics, and receiving for his answer an outpouring of mysterious symbology.

Now, some fourteen years later, McKenna is in a position to tell this retrospective tale, and to distill the wealth of enthusiasms and revelations in a way that only the leveling of power of such a span of time can provide. This is an important and enjoyable contribution to the lamentably small body of literature of psychedelic understanding.

–Ted Schulz

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #41 – Transpersonal Psychology Research Review: Psychoactive Substances & Transpersonal States

[Please help support The Terence McKenna Archives by donating to our ongoing crowdfund campaign. We need to raise our first $3,000 before March 15 in order to secure a very rare and expensive art book that Terence McKenna collaborated on with artist & bookmaker Timothy Ely among other timely acquisitions. So our first challenge of the crowdfund (CHALLENGE #1) is to reach the goal of $3,000 by March 4th (March Forth!), the famous date of the McKenna brothers’ “experiment at La Chorrera.” If we reach this goal, I will post on YouTube, free to all, a rare radio debate that Terence did with a member of the Young Republicans National Federation (YNRF). It’s a lively debate that hasn’t been previously available, and I will happily share it with the community as incentive to donate sooner rather than later to help this important collection to grow and build its web-presence so that everyone can share in value of the archive. Donations can be made directly on our crowdfund site: https://www.gofundme.com/terencemckennaarchives & you can download or view, here, a full catalog of the incentives: https://terencemckennaarchives.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/tma-crowdfund-donation-menu4.pdf]

Today’s random item from The Terence McKenna Archives digital collection comes from The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology Vol. 22 No. 2 (1990). The article is essentially a 40+-page annotated bibliography of all relevant research known to the authors at the time on the topic of the relationship between psychoactive substances and claims of experiences of transpersonal states. The article includes several references to work by both Dennis & Terence McKenna, and the comments about Terence are particularly worth noting. It will be worth sharing the first several pages of the article to see how the literature review is organized and how the authors conceive of the terms ‘psychoactive substance’ and ‘transpersonal states’.

You can scroll past these introductory pages if you want to skip straight to the McKenna material…

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Research by Dennis McKenna is referenced several times:

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However, it is the references to Terence McKenna that are of most interest to me here, in part, because there are references to recordings and studies that I have not seen appear anywhere in the public sphere of the 21st century McKenna milieu. I would be greatly obliged to anyone who has information about Terence’s 1984 talk called “Ethnobotany,” which apparently involves a discussion of a Lux Natura questionnaire of psilocybin experiencers completed by several hundred respondents. (see first image directly below)

Questionnaire

McKENNA, T. (Speaker). (1984). Ethnobotany, (Cassette recording).
Berkeley, CA: Lux Natura.

Following in the tradition of Tart’s (1971) classic study on the
experiences of marijuana smokers, the author designed a questionnaire
on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms and administered it to
370 mushroom spore print customers. The experience of hearing an
audible voice was found to be a dosage-related phenomenon. The
threshold varied among individuals with one-half of the respondents
reporting hearing a voice after ingesting 8 grams of dried mushrooms.

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The Terence McKenna Archives does own copies of the rest of the publications mentioned:

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And, finally, the authors offer an extended analysis of Terence McKenna and his career as fitting within what they call the ‘heuristic approach’ to exploring psychoactive substances and their potential relation to transpersonal states:

Terence McKenna, an author and speaker about hallucinogenic drugs, whose work represents this quality of deep personal immersion with the experience. His quest began after ingesting DMT, a synthesized form of a natural plant compound which brings on a short but intense hallucinogenic experience. “I said, ‘This isn’t a drug, this is magic! This is a dimension to reality that most people never even suppose exists … raising all kinds of issues about what is reality, what is language, what is the self, what is three-dimensional space and time, all the questions I became involved with over the 20years or so.”

Following this conversion experience, Mckenna, who started college at UC Berkeley as an art history major, began his research by traveling to Nepal because he saw some correspondences between his imagery during psychedelic sessions and Tibetan art. This led him to study with Tibetan shamans who were still actively involved with psychoactive substances, and then to the Amazon for further research on “botanical shamanism.” Despite formal training limited to a bachelor’s degree, McKenna combines knowledge of neurochemistry, ethnobotany, anthropology, history, linguistics, transpersonal psychology, and chaos theory in his work. He has self-experimented with virtually every form of psychedelic substance, engaged in introspection and self-reflection, dialogued with others about their experiences, and read extensively in the neurochemical, ethnopsychopharmacological, and art history literature. In the span covered in this review, he has contributed to the archaeopsychopharmacology and ethnobotanical research as well as publishing an investigation of literary description of mushroom experiences (abstracted above). Together with co-researcher “and wife, Kathleen, he also founded Botanical Dimensions, an organization dedicated to collecting living ethnomedicinal plants from around the world and their associated lore. As McKenna’s research career illustrates, the heuristic method is inherently cross-disciplinary, but the research is  always brought back to bear on the researcher’s own experience. In his attempt to “define the self in the hallucinogenic dimension.” McKenna has particularly focused on the psilocybin mushroom (he co-wrote with his brother, Dennis, a grower’s guide which sold 100,000 copies) and the Amazonian hallucinogenic plant brew ayahuasca.

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Michael Harner (1929-2018)

I’m very sorry to have to post another notice of someone’s passing so soon after Dale Pendell’s.Michael-Harner

On February 3, Michael Harner, who was instrumental in the revivification of both the academic study of shamanism and its interest among the public, “passed peacefully out of this world.” Harner, who has been called “the world’s foremost authority on shamanism,” founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in 1979, and it will continue to carry on its mission in his absence.

The Foundation has produced a documentary on Harner’s legacy, which you can view on their website, or below:

As for connections between Terence McKenna and Michael Harner….it was a curious mis-citing of Harner’s work that, in a very direct way, launched Terence’s career. I think that’s the story I’ll choose to tell on this occasion, as it is both amusing and formative on the careers of both McKenna brothers as well as involving Harner’s early influence on the study of ‘psychedelic shamanism’.

The Search for the Violet Psychofluid

When Terence and Dennis McKenna (and some friends) arrived in the Colombian Amazon, they were not looking for the psilocybin mushrooms that came to be the focus of their attention and which, one might say with only minimal exaggeration, launched their careers. During their “experiments” at the tiny mission site of La Chorrera, combining the beta-carboline alkaloids deriving from the Banisteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca) vine with the psilocybin-containing mushrooms that they found plentifully in the surrounding pastures, it was Dennis who seems to have recalled an article by Harner, from which he recalled mention of a magical fluid that shamans produced from their mouths.

In the following passage from True Hallucinations, Terence describes being at La Chorrera and reading Dennis’ personal journal:

…I suggested to Dennis that, rather than arguing with people about the nature of the experience, he should go off by himself and write down all that he thought about the strange sound that he had made. He accepted this advice and made his way back up the hill to the knoll house to be alone and to write:

February 28, 1971

“I approach these pages with a peculiar sense of urgency as a man might who had confronted an unexplainable phenomenon as some impossible creation of dreams or unaccountable natural principle…

Before going further, something tells me that I must consider who I am. Twenty-four hours ago, I thought I knew — now this has become the most perplexing question I have ever been confronted with… These may be the last characters of a crude language that I will ever apply to the description of anything…”

When I read this prologue later, it seemed to me both grandiose and alarming, but Dennis had an aura of calm certitude that seemed to command respect. I felt that the Logos was struggling with the vocabulary of its newest vessel. He seemed to be making more and more sense, to be on to something. I read on:

“Since any phenomenon is, to a point, describable in empirical terms, so too with this one. It has to do with controlling one’s body chemistry in such a way as to produce very specific vocal and audial phenomena: the state becomes possible when highly bio-dynamic vegetable alkaloids, specifically tryptamines and MAO-inhibitors, are introduced into the body under carefully regulated parameters. This phenomenon is apparently possible in the presence of tryptamines alone, though MAO inhibition definitely helps trigger it by facilitating tryptamine absorption. The phenomenon has now been triggered by two people within our group: Terence has been experimenting with vocal phenomena under the influence of DMT for some years now.

Until last night, when I triggered and experienced this sound wave for a few brief seconds under the influence of nineteen Stropharia mushrooms, Terence was the only person I knew who claimed ability to perform this sound…”

Terence goes on telling the story…

Later that afternoon, Dennis came back down to the edge of the river looking for me… There we sat and talked. It had been about sixteen hours since the previous evening’s episode with the strange sound. Dennis said that the writing exercise had been very useful.

[Terence:] “Great! And so what have  you come up with?”

[Dennis:] “I’m not sure. I’m very excited, but whatever it is that’s the cause of my excitement is also developing ideas in my mind nearly faster than I can write them down.”

[T:] “Ideas? What sort of ideas?”

[D:] “Funny ideas. Ideas about how we can use this effect, or this stuff, or whatever it is. My intuition is that it is related to the psychofluids that Michael Harner reported in the July 1969 issue of Natural History and to what happened to you in Boudanath. Remember how Harner implied that ayahuasqueros vomited a magical substance that was the basis of their ability to divine? This is like that, some sort of translinguistic stuff made with the voice.”

We talked at length by the river’s edge, ranging over the options and the possibilities. He was insistent in linking my experience in Nepal with a very strange phenomenon that occurred in Jivaro shamanism in Ecuador. The people take ayahuasca after which they, and anyone else who has taken ayahuasca, are able to see a substance that is described as violet or deep blue and that bubbles like a liquid. When you vomit from taking ayahuasca, this violet fluid comes out of your body; it also forms on the surface of the skin, like sweat. The Jivaro do much of their magic with this peculiar stuff. These matters are extremely secret. Informants insist that the shamans spread the stuff out on the ground in front of them, and that one can look at this material and see other times and other places. According to their reports, the nature of this fluid is completely outside of ordinary experience: it is made out of space/time or mind, or it is pure hallucination objectively expressed by always keeping itself within the confines of a liquid.

Harner’s work among the Jivaro did not stand alone. Since the beginnings of ethnographic reporting out of the Amazon there have been rumors and unconfirmed reports of magical excrement and magically empowered psychophysical objects generated out of the human body using hallucinogens and song. I recalled the alchemical observation that the secret is hidden in feces.

[T:] “Matter that is hyperdimensional and therefore translinguistic? Is that what you mean?” I asked Dennis.

[D:] “Yes. Whatever that means, but something like that, I suppose. Gad! Why not? I mean it’s pretty nuts, but it’s also the symbol system we brought with us running into the shamanic magic that we came here looking for. ‘This is what you shipped for, men, to chase the White Whale over all sides of  ocean and both sides of earth till he spout black blood and roll fin out.’ Isn’t that your rap?”

The resort to Melvillian rhetoric was unexpected and not like him. Where did he get this stuff? [T:] “Yes, I suppose.”

[D:] But here is the thing; if there is something weird going on, then we should observe it and see what it is and try to reduce it to some coherent framework. Granted we don’t know what it is that we are dealing with, but on the other hand, we know that we came here to investigate shamanic magic generally, so now we have to go to work on this effect, or whatever it is, and just hope that we know what we are doing and have enough data to crack it. We are too isolated to do anything else, and to ignore it might be to squander a golden opportunity.”

Okay, so the above is the setup for the story. Terence and Dennis…in the Amazon….twenty-something….eager to uncover the secrets of psychedelic shamanism……and armed with past experience and a lot of literature on the brain.

The mention of Terence’s experience in Boudanath, Nepal, which Dennis considered comparable to Harner’s description of the shamanic psychofluid is in reference to what has come to be know as the ‘Kathmandu Interlude’ (due to its place and function in True Hallucinations, which involves a sexual encounter between Terence (on LSD) and a woman (on datura) who both smoke DMT and……well, you’d better just listen/read (p. 55) yourself! …Needless to say, there is a psychedelically-derived psychofluid involved…

Oh, what the hell! Here’s part of it:

Then we made love. Or rather we had an experience that vaguely related to making love but was a thing unto itself…

Reality was shattered. This kind of fucking occurs at the very limit of what is possible. Everything had been transformed into orgasm and visible, chattering oceans of elf language. Then I saw that where our bodies were glued together there was flowing, out of her, over me, over the floor of the roof, flowing everywhere, some sort of obsidian liquid, something dark and glittering, with color and lights within it. After the DMT flash, after seizures of orgasms, after all that, this new thing shocked me to the core. What was this fluid and what was going on? I looked at it. I looked right into it, and it was the surface of my own mind reflected in front of me. Was it translinguistic matter, the living opalescent excrescence of the alchemical abyss of hyperspace, something generated by the sex act performed under such crazy conditions? I looked into it again and now saw in it the lama who taught me Tibetan, who would have been asleep a mile away. In the fluid, I saw him, in the company of a monk I had never seen; they were looking into a mirrored plate. Then I realized they were watching me! I could not understand it. I looked away from the fluid and my companion, so intense was her aura of strangeness.

The article of Harner’s that Dennis had recalled on that day in La Chorrera actually appeared in the July 1968 (not 1969) issue of Natural History and was titled “The Sound of Rushing Water,” now considered among Harner’s iconic contributions…and, you can find it cited in the first edition of The Invisible Landscape (1975), the messy nature of the real-time referencing in the Amazon cleaned up for publication, as the sole reference to the ethnographic literature on shamanically-produced psychofluids.

From Chapter 6: An Experiment at La Chorrera:

During the course of our investigation of the shamanic dimension, our attention was drawn to a report of ayahuasca usage among the Jivaro (Harner 1968); the shamans, under the influence of potent monamine oxidase-inhibiting, harmine- and tryptamine-containing Banisteriopsis infusions, are said to produce a fluorescent violet substance by means of which they accomplish their magic. Though invisible to ordinary perception, this fluid is said to be visible to anyone who has ingested the infusion. Ayahuasca is frequently associated with violet auras and deep blue hallucinations; this suggests that ayahuasca may enable one to see at ultraviolet wavelengths, and that this substance may be visible only in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. We also had occasion to ingest synthetic tryptamines and had observed as a regular feature of the tryptamine intoxication a peculiar audile phenomenon…Individual reports of the subjectively perceived phenomenon exhibit a high degree of similarity.

Our desire to pursue the investigation of this audile phenomenon at greater depth, combined with the curiosity and incredulity which Harner’s report had aroused, led us to travel, in March of 1971, to the tiny mission settlement of La Chorrera, 43 minutes south, 73 degrees west, on the banks of the Rio Igara-parana in Comisaria Amazonas, Colombia. We felt that here we could carry out firsthand observations into the phenomenology of the tryptamine dimension.

It was Harner’s article, then, that provided a significant portion of both the impetus for, and the interpretation of, the experiences that the McKenna brothers were experimenting with and trying to explain…

The irony of all of this is…….Harner’s article contains no mention of this phenomenon whatsoever!! Go ahead, read it yourself….(Harner does mention magical darts but nothing resembling the sort of fluid described by Dennis or Terence for which they specifically cite Harner’s 1968 article on multiple occasions).

I have uncovered a partial recording (previously not available online) in which Terence, in the presence of learned colleagues, discusses this in more detail and admits the flub:

Persistent is the idea that these ayahuasqueros vomit or produce out of their bodies some kind of substance, a magical substance, that is the basis of their witchcraft. And, you know, your attitude toward this can be that it’s sleight of hand or that it’s lying or that it’s absolutely true…

Uh, Dennis, in 1970, came across a reference to this in some piece of literature. I confess that I have occasionally cited it as Michael Harner’s article ‘The Sound of Rushing Water’, which appeared in Natural History magazine in 1967 [it’s 1968]. Just to confirm Marlene [Dobkin de Rios]’s opinion, if you actually read that article, you will discover there is no reference to this in there. Uh, I couldn’t find a reference in the literature until years after our investigation of the phenomenon was pretty much wrapped up. I was amazed to discover that our supposition that such a thing existed actually is supported in the literature. Luis Eduardo Luna…has talked about this in numerous of his more scholarly publications. What is claimed is that there are, among very unacculturated people, a habit, when intoxicated on ayahuasca, of vomiting a material, and then, what’s said of it is that it’s blue, that the shamans use it to accomplish all of their magic, and that when you spread it out on the bottom of a flat bowl that you can see the future in it or the past in it.

So, there you have it……Michael Harner’s non-existent contribution to the careers of the brothers McKenna.

Thanks, Michael, for making the world a more interesting place, as a result of both your real and imagined contributions!

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Terence McKenna Birthday Raffle Acquisitions (2017)

For Terence McKenna’s birthday this past year (Nov. 16, 2017), the Terence McKenna Archives held a raffle for a set of photos of Terence. The first-prize winner, Graham St. John, won the full set of photos, and runner-up Jeff Lerue won a single photo of his choice. Everyone else who participated received an email thanking them for their contributions, which included a unique document compiled by the archivist with details about the locations of copies of a rare art book which Terence collaborated on.

I had also promised that I would make a blog post detailing which items I was able to add to the collection with the profits from the raffle. This is that blog post. Thanks, again, to everyone who contributed! You’ll be glad to know that we were able to make bargains with some of the sellers, which allowed us to save $70 on the total cost of the items.

Here is what you helped to add to the Terence McKenna Archives:

1. All 4 issues of ‘Towards 2012’ magazine (edited by Gyrus)

Towards 2012 was a magazine produced in the late 1990s that was partly inspired by the work of Terence McKenna. From 1995 to 1998, the series editor, Gyrus, created five well-produced, and now very difficult to find, issues (the final two issues were housed in a single magazine, making four volumes in all). Within the volumes there are several articles which refer to, comment on, or reconsider Terence’s ideas, a transcribed version of Terence’s Tryptamine Hallucinogens & Consciousness talk (his first-ever talk at the Esalen Institute), an interview with Sasha & Ann Shulgin where some differences with Terence come up, some interesting Terence-related art (I particularly like the ‘stoned ape’), and several ads for Terence-related material, including his website. Of particular note for the archive is an advertisement for a “hefty zine” called Heads and Tales, which lists “Terence McKenna” under the contents for Issue #1. If anyone reading this has any further information about this zine or if you have a copy that you would like to scan, send, or sell, please contact terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com. This is a publication that is not represented in our physical or digital archives.

This is a finite project, created to take a close look at the transmutational possibilities that lay before homo sapiens as we approach the millennium… At the heart of the project is the intuition that the human race is fast approaching a catastrophe cusp point – a phase transition period… 2012 CE is a date that may as well have been singled out arbitrarily for the title of this journal. As it happens, it is the date that ethnopharmacologist Terence McKenna points to as the precise location of the ‘catastrophe cusp’ in the temporal dimension; it is the date beyond which futurologist Robert Anton Wilson has stated that he is unable to project possible futures; and it is the end of a Great Cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar system. We are facing the end of the world as we know it, because it has outlived its viability.

March Forth!

Now, perhaps, the ‘archaic revival’ proposed by Terence McKenna, and the term ‘modern primitives’ popularized by the Re/search body art manual, can be seen in an evolutionary context. The prime characteristics of rave culture – the use of psychedelics, the utilisation of percussive music for altering consciousness, its neo-tribal structure, the rise in nomadic lifestyles, the popularity of body-piercing and tattooing – may be seen as a cultural return to a more primitive model. From this point, having regressed back beyond the cultural and social blind alleys of recent human history, a “creative leap forward” may be made to escape WoMan’s over-specialization.” -Samuel Lawson

Sasha Shulgin: I was listening to Terence McKenna years ago at Esalen. He was talking about how if a drug comes from nature it’s okay, but if it comes from a lab it’s suspect. Suddenly he realized that I was sittin gin the audiences (laughter). In essence, I said, “Terence, I’m as natural as they come…”

It is interesting, then, that around Dionysus…we find so much debate about whether his worshippers’ sacrament was wine or mushrooms… Most scholars…conclude that Dionysus’ rites involved both intoxicants. Astoundingly, McKenna does not pick up on this symbolic psychoactive cross-over, but clearly recognizes the importances of Dionysus as a transitional one. -Gyrus

Psychedelic experiences and dreams are chemical cousins, they are only different in degree. -Terence McKenna

 

2. 5 issues of ‘TRP: The Resonance Project’ and 1 issue of TRIP magazines (edited by James Kent–it can’t be said that the editorial staff didn’t have a sense of humor), including relevant interviews with Terence McKenna, Dennis McKenna, Rick Strassman, and D.M. Turner, articles mentioning TM, reviews of books that have contributions by TM, and more.

3. ‘Bookways’ magazine #8 (1993)

This journal which is dedicated to the art of bookmaking includes a review, by Barbara Tetenbaum, of the 1992 collaboration of Terence McKenna with artist and bookmaker Timothy Ely. The Terence McKenna Archives will be holding a major crowdfund campaign early in 2018, in part in order to acquire a copy of this book, called Synesthesia, from a private owner who is making a copy of this rare item for the archives if I can raise the funds by early March. Tetenbaum has kindly donated her review to the crowdfund effort for a document that I am creating to offer to donors. Here is just enough to give a hint…

 

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4. ‘boing boing’ magazine #10 (1994)

This is a volume that has long been on the list of items to acquire for the archive but has usually been unavailable. Fortunately, a reasonably-priced copy became available at the same time as the raffle. I knew that there was both an interview with Terence and a review of his Timewave Zero software, both of which made it a high-priority item. So, it was a pleasant surprise to also find references to Terence in two other places in the magazine: in Thomas Lyttle‘s interview with Peter Stafford and in D’Artemis Hart(wo)mann’s article reflecting on the role of prostitutes in religious history. There was also an unexpected review of the Experiment at Petaluma video project produced by Terence’s friends at Rose X Media and an ad (one I’ve never seen before) for a company, Fringeware, selling Terence’s Timewave software.

 

5. ‘High Times’ magazine #385 (July 2001)

This is another item that has been on the acquisitions list for some time. It is an issue of High Times magazine from July 2001 containing a letter from Dennis McKenna offering some words on Terence’s passing and making readers aware of the Journey Through the Spheres tribute album produced by The Novelty Project.

Terence was a complex person, blessed with a restless mind and curiosity that led him down many little-traveled pathways of thought and speculation. As his brother…I can testify from experience, it was a long, strange trip indeed. -Dennis McKenna (via Internet)

6. ‘Utne Reader’ magazine #53 (1992)

This issue of the Utne Reader from 1992 contains an excerpt from Terence’s book Food of the Gods, which had just been published by Bantam. The excerpt in the magazine appears under the heading ‘Just Say Yes: Rethinking our Relationship to Psychoactive Plants’.

The time has come to rethink our fascination with the use of psychoactive drugs and physioactive plants… [W]e cannot simply advocate “Just say no” any more than we can advocate “Try it, you’ll like it.” Nor can we support a view that wishes to divide society into users and non-users… The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life are intimately and causally connected… As a consequence, the maladaptive social styles that encourage overpopulation, resource mismanagement, and environmental toxification develop and maintain themselves… We pursue a business-as-usual attitude in a surreal atmosphere of mounting crises and irreconcilable contradictions… The government not only restricts research on psychedelics that could conceivably yield valuable psychological and medical insights, it presumes to prevent religious and spiritual use of them as well… [E]ncounters with psychedelic plants throw into question the entire worldview of Western culture… We are killing the planet in order to keep intact wrongheaded assumptions.

It is time for change.

-Terence McKenna

7. The Shamen – Hystericool: The Best of the Alternative Mixes CD (2002)

Terence’s hit song with the British band the Shamen is remixed here by the geniuses of psychedelic electronica, Future Sound of London. Listen here.

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8. Psiconautas: Exploradores de la Conciencia (edited by Juanjo Pineiro) (2000)

This book contains Spanish-language interviews with an exciting swath of the psychedelic community, including a 20-page interview with Terence McKenna. Anyone who wants to volunteer to translate this interview into English, please contact terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com.

 

9. Bang Pudding by Steve Taylor (1995)

Terence read this book and, “at several points,” “burst into real laughter” at this work that is “steeped in the unutterably Other” and “alarms, even as it amuses.”

10. Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge by Kevin T. Dann (1998)

In his analysis of the phenomenon of synesthesia, Kevin Tyler Dann, touches down on Terence’s ideas at several points.

 

11. Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity by Georg Feuerstein (1997)

George Feuerstein is notably disdainful of Terence and the ‘chemical path to ecstasy’.

12. The True Light of Darkness by James Jesso (2015)

Jesso’s autiobiographical account includes his encounters with the ideas of Terence McKenna.

13. Sacred Mushroom of Visions, Teonanacatl: A Sourcebook on the Psilocybin Mushroom by Ralph Metzner (2005)

Ralph Metzner’s sourcebook on psilocybin mushrooms includes several passing references to Terence, mostly showing his major linguistic influence on how people interpret their psychedelic experiences.

14. The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination, and Spirit by Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake, and Terence McKenna (2005)

An edition of this book that I’ve hoped to add to the archive for some time but has simply not taken priority up until now over other, harder-to-come-by, items. A very welcome addition, though. Eventually, we’d like to have copies of all editions (and translations) of Terence’s books represented.

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15. Heavenly Highs: Ayahuasca, Kava-Kava, DMT, and Other Plants of the Gods by Peter Stafford (

Peter Stafford’s book mentions and quotes Terence throughout, including a couple of brief comments by Susan Blackmore in her Afterword.

16. 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect: A Revolutionary Spiritual and Physical Survival Guide for 2012 – 2020 (Discovered by Bob Thiel, Ph.D.) (2009)

This one I actually just randomly found at a thrift shop and thought I’d include it here. The Timewave is invoked here (via Robert Bast) among a string of expectations for 2012. At some point, I have plans to make a whole extended blog post about the occurrence of Terence’s name and ideas in the rise of 2012 literature after his death. You’ll notice quite a few ‘2012’ books in the physical holdings of the TM Archives.

17. The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalists Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments by Eliezer Sobel (2008) (Paperback)

….a few mentions of Terence here, too.

 

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #38 – The McKenna Brothers in Metascience Quarterly (1979)

Today’s random item took me a very long time to acquire a copy of, and, when it did become available, came from an interesting and unexpected source. A few years back, the library at Edgar Cayce‘s (in)famous Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Florida, was selling off portions of their collection. Among other significant items that I acquired from their listings on eBay (including a near-complete set of ReVision journal with several contributions by Terence) was this copy of Metascience Quarterly: A New Age Journal of Parapscyhology. The copy that is now in the archives is the only copy that I’ve ever seen available online or anywhere else.

Metascience Quarterly was a research journal devoted to the study of the paranormal. I’m not sure if it lasted beyond the first three issues, which the A.R.E. had conveniently bound into a single, hard-cover, volume for their library, and which now exists as part of The Terence McKenna Archives. It is the very first issue of the journal that contains an article by “Terrence” (the extra “r” seems to be the most common misspelling) and Dennis McKenna, which is actually a chapter from The Invisible Landscape (1975), called ‘Towards a Holographic Theory of Mind’.

Items of note here are:

1) The early date – so far as I know, this would have been only the second published work of Terence (and Dennis) in their own name. The first was the full first edition of The Invisible Landscape (1975), a chapter of which is reproduced here in Metascience Quarterly Vol. 1 No. 1. Their 1976 book, Psilocybin Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide was published under the pseudonyms O. N. Eiric (Dennis) and O. T. Oss (Terence) [‘oneiric’ means having to do with dreams and ‘otiose’ means idle or impractical, serving no useful end–Terence occasionally confessed: “I am otiose (/O.T. Oss)”].

2) The fact that in his biographical description, Terence describes himself as “currently engaged in establishing a botanical farm in Colombia.” One wonders (and I probably have means of finding this out) how far the process of establishing a Colombian botanical preserve was carried through. It seems likely that the founding of Botanical Dimensions with Kat Harrison in 1985 was a further evolution of this goal. Kat still runs Botanical Dimensions–please give them your support!

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #33 – High Times Report on the 1991 Bridge Conference on Psychedelics

In 1991, there was a major conference held on the campus of Stanford University on the past, present, and future of psychedelics. Presenters included Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Bruce Eisner, Rick Doblin, Dennis McKenna, Charles Grob, R. U. Sirius, Stephen Gaskin, Debby Harlow, Peter Stafford, Ralph Metzner, John Lilly, and, of course, Terence McKenna. Some of the appearances by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson can be viewed online. A noteworthy segment of Terence McKenna’s provocative “plain talk” conclusion to the conference can be heard here (and is well worth a listen).

Dan Joy reported on the conference for High Times magazine for their issue of June 1991 (HT #190).

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The Invisible Landscape Reviewed in Library Journal in 1976

On May 1, 1976, Library Journal published a review of a book written by brothers Terence and Dennis McKenna. This is, so far as I know, the first-ever published review of the McKenna brothers’ first book, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, and is the only proper ‘review’ of the first edition (1975) of this book (as I mentioned in a recent post, Robert Anton Wilson also devoted several pages to a treatment of “the McKenna theory” in his 1977 book, Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati).

As I’ve also mentioned in a previous post, Library Journal was created in 1876 by Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System, as a trade publication for librarians. All of Terence’s books and a few of his published talks have been reviewed in Library Journal over the years (and will eventually be featured here in the archival blog).

This 1976 review, by Nathan Schwartz of the New York Association for Analytical Psychology is among the more positive of the reviews of Terence’s work that appear in Library Journal and is notable particularly because of its early date when Terence (and Dennis) would not have had any other reputation. This is essentially their first public exposure, a positive public exposure, and in a well-established and highly-circulated publication. Finally, it is also worth noting that The Invisible Landscape is, here, reviewed under the heading of ‘Science/Psychology’ (also, the ‘experiments’ were with psilocybin mushrooms and banisteriopsis caapi, not ayahuasca as Schwartz states, as I’m sure you know–it’s very important in Terence’s life story that the experiment was with mushrooms). Here’s Schwartz’s review:

A unique work, difficult in subject matter yet well worth the reader’s effort. Using data from their experiment at a tiny mission settlement in the Upper Amazon Basin with the drug ayahuasca, the authors embark on a tour de force of quantum mechanics, biochemistry, psychiatry, holography, and then the I Ching, with the purpose of demonstrating that “‘thought’ or ‘consciousness’ has its physical basis in quantum mechanical phenomena.” It is a “free-wheeling series of speculations” indeed, but a process that is witness to the vast internal resources of the archetypes that the authors tapped through their drug-induced experiences. This new consciousness has its fruition in a novel understanding of the I Ching, and through this an approach to the mathematics of form. The book breaks new ground, and casts much that is known in a new form. Important for psychologists, chemists, and physicists.

–Nathan J. Schwartz, New York Assn. for Analytical Psychology

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #7 – Terence’s Published Books

Today’s item comes along with something of an apparent synchronicity that seems, intuitively, to be statistically unlikely: the item that was selected by the random number generator was an item that I had only just pulled out of the mailbox not fifteen minutes previously. [If you’re interested in a reflection on why this apparent synchronicity is, perhaps, less unlikely than it at first seems, I’ll say a bit more about that at the end of the post]

The item in question today is the first edition (1998) of The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable by Trialogue Press, a book made up of a selection of transcripts from the series of ‘trialogue’ workshops at the Esalen Institute, which featured more-or-less freeform discussions among the triad of Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, and Rupert Sheldrake. You can get access to all of the recordings through Rupert’s website (and the Evolutionary Mind recordings are on Ralph’s website, too, just so as not to appear to be lopsided in my hyperlinking). However, I figured, rather than posting Terence’s books, one at a time, as they come up in the random number generator, it would be better to just post a photo of all of the books for which Terence is either an author or a co-author that are currently held in the TM Archives. I’ll follow that with a written list of those books as well as a list of those (editions of) Terence’s books that are not yet represented in the archive. Here’s what is in the archive at present:

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The following are the books shown in the photo above (those that exist in the archive):

  • (1975) – The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching (Seabury Press) (1st edition, hardcover)
  • (1976) – Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (And/Or Press) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1991) – Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (Quick American Publishing) (4th edition, paperback)
  • (1991) – The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, The Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, The Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History (HarperSanFrancisco) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1992) – Trialogues at the Edge of the West: Chaos, Creativity, and the Resacralization of the World (Bear & Company) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1992) – Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Bantam Books) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1993) – True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise (HarperSanFrancisco) (1st edition, hardcover)
  • (1993) – The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching (HarperSanFrancisco) (2nd edition, paperback)
  • (1998) – The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable (Trialogue Press) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1998) – True Hallucinations & The Archaic Revival (2-books-in-1) (Fine Communications) (1st edition, hardcover)
  • (1999) – Illuminatus (Art by Robert Venosa, Text by Terence McKenna) (Craftsman House) (1st edition, hardcover)
  • (2001) – Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness (Park Street Press) (Revised edition of Trialogues at the Edge of the West, paperback)

The following are other editions of Terence’s books that the TM Archives does not currently own hard copies of…if you would like to donate to help the acquisition process, you can use the “Donate” button at the top of the Terence McKenna Transcription Project website, or if you would like to send a copy of any the following books (or any foreign language translations of TM’s books) for us to add to the archive’s holdings, please send an email to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com.

  • (1983) – Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (And/Or Press) (2nd edition, paperback)
  • (1986) – Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (Lux Natura) (3rd edition, paperback)
  • (1992) – Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Bantam) (1st edition, hardcover)
  • (1993) – Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Random Century–British edition) (paperback)
  • (1994) – True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise (HarperOne) (1st edition, paperback)
  • (1994) – True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise (Rider–British edition) (hardcover)
  • (1997) – The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable (Dakota Books)
  • (1998) – The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable (Aerial Press, Inc.)
  • (1999) – Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Rider–British edition)
  • (2005) – The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination, and Spirit (Monkfish Book Publishing) (Revised edition of The Evolutionary Mind, paperback)

If there is anything that you think I’m missing on either list, let me know.

[And, here’s that final note on apparent statistical unlikelihood, for those who were waiting in eager anticipation for me to finally stop talking about Terence McKenna and get on to a cognitive readings of our (typical) intuitive statistical naivete–Why does it seem so uncanny that I opened a package containing a book, added the book to the archive’s catalog, and immediately derived a number from a random number generator which corresponded to that very book which I had just received? There’s no doubt that, in gambling terms, it’s a somewhat unlikely happening. The odds of any single item being selected by the random number generator are (to use a round number) 1 in 600. Those odds, of course, don’t change just because the item is new to the archive. The new item has a 1 in 600 chance, just like every other item in the archive. In fact, narrowing it down by date makes it potentially even more likely that a particular item will be called. In other words, I actually received three items for the archive in the mail that day–that means that the odds that one of the items that I had received in the mail that day would be selected by the random number generator was actual 3 in 600 (or 1 in 200). So, the odds suggest that it was actually much more likely that one of the items I received in the mail that day would be selected as compared with the odds for any other single item in the archive being selected. Don’t get me wrong — hitting a 1 in 200 chance is nothing to scoff at, and, perhaps more importantly, the psychological effect is certainly still potent. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to consider that the potency of the psychological effect doesn’t necessarily always match the statistical significance of the event itself–or, at least, that’s one way to tell the story.]

Accessing Hyperdimensions in Santa Fe: Terence McKenna invades Meow Wolf!

Last summer (2016), I had the pleasure of attending an event called Earth Consciousness & Lore of the Amazon at the Synergia Ranch in Santa Fe. Presenters included Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin, Allan Badiner, Ralph Metzner, Valerie Plame Wilson, Michael Garfield, and Gay Dillingham (Don Lattin was also present). I had already been on a long road trip from Santa Barbara, stopping through the Blythe Intaglios on the way to present at the American Academy of Religion/Western Region conference in Tucson, then winding through Tombstone, Alamogordo, and Roswell on my way to Albuquerque to do archival research at the University of New Mexico in their Frank Waters collection…and would be headed onward through Chaco Canyon and Taos up toward Boulder where I would be doing further research at Naropa University, interviewing John Major Jenkins about his relationship with Terence McKenna, and, finally, heading back through Paonia (Terence’s and Dennis’ hometown) to familiarize myself with the feel of the place and to locate the places where various antics described in Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss and many of Terence’s talks and writings took place (I will write a separate blog post about this trip rather than try to squeeze it in here). So, the Synergistics event was a nice midway point in the overall journey. It was also a great opportunity to finally connect with Dennis, Terence’s brother, in person after previous conversations by email and Skype. I was also able to score a late-night interview with Rick Doblin about his remembrances of Terence and perceptions about his legacy.

However, that event is not the focus of this post…it is only the proximal cause for the circumstances leading up to the topic of this particular blog post. Following the event, I was intending to head back to Albuquerque for more research in special collections at UNM the following day. It just so happened that one of the presenters needed a ride to Albuquerque in the morning to catch a flight, and so I stayed the night at the ranch near Santa Fe and made my way back to Albuquerque in the morning, recording another engaging dialogue during the car ride. After a day of successful document scanning (relating to Frank Waters’ role in the development of the ‘2012 Phenomenon’), I checked my Facebook and noticed that my wife had posted an article on my wall about a place in Santa Fe that had just opened called Meow Wolf.

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The article made it seem like the ultimate psychedelic, interactive, mystery play house… walk into the refrigerator of a two-story family home and exit into a crystalline hyperdimension (as one example). It would take too much space for me to express how impressive the full-scale virtual reality that the creators of Meow Wolf have built actually is. I would recommend that you read articles such as this one (and this brand new windfall) to get a clearer sense of what this installation, funded by George R. R. Martin, in a refurbished and extended bowling alley in Santa Fe consists of. But, more importantly, if you’re ever in Santa Fe, you should just go!! Even the bathroom is a trip…

One of the features of the storyline at The House of Eternal Return (the name of the world that you enter) is that some of the family members have learned how to use a combination of drugs and sound to get access to travel between dimensions. You have access to their entire house, including the individual rooms and offices of the family members, a living room, a kitchen, etc. They actually built an entire house that you can walk around and inspect every detail of–you can read their mail, watch their videos, pull books off of their shelves, read diaries, check the files on their computers, root around in their medicine cabinets…and, more significantly, find the hidden portals into other worlds even more expansive than the house which is the entry point.

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Once you arrive at the house, it’s entirely up to you what you explore and where you end up–it would take days (maybe weeks) to find everything. But, it’s definitely a case of “the further in you go, the bigger it gets.” (Apologies for the poor quality of the photos–I took most of them with my phone)

The soundtrack throughout is spectacular, by the way, and there are several areas that are delightful chill spaces that one could easily just kick back for a while (including a fog-and-light-filled room with a laser-harp).

To finally come closer to the point of the blog post, there is definitely an aspect of the cultic milieu spread throughout the experience even beyond the general “trippy” nature of the whole thing (much more so than I can get across here). One of the most obvious places where this shows up (for those capable of noticing) is in the personal libraries of the family members. One office in particular has a metaphysical and conspiratorial bent (you can see that I spent some time rooting through the desk drawers).

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And, on the bookshelves were a couple of familiar friends…Food of the Gods and (though it may be difficult to read the spine in the photo), a first edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape. Terence McKenna is part of the set decoration at Meow Wolf, and, in fact, his work definitely thematically ties into the story.

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Food of the Gods (to the left)

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1st edition of The Invisible Landscape (middle-ish)

And, in the bedroom, near the device that creates the tones that, in concert with drugs, one uses to enter other worlds, there are even more subtle hints at what we are to understand is on the minds of our protagonists in the House of Eternal Return… Solomon Snyder’s Drugs and the Brain is out on the desk and on the bookshelf is a 2nd edition of The Invisible Landscape adjacent to Jim Fadiman‘s Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide and near Tim Leary‘s Your Brain is God, among other evocative titles.

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After having spent hours wandering through the alternate reality of Meow Wolf and realizing that I had only just scratched the surface of a fully-interactive creation chock-full of ‘easter eggs’ for someone with an eye for the esoteric, I suddenly found myself back in the dining room of the house staring at its large fireplace when suddenly I noticed someone crawling out of it from the inside. To my complete shock, this emerging fireplace gnome suddenly stood up and turned into Ralph Metzner. I had already succumbed to the strangeness of the world I was inhabiting, but for 1960s psychedelic pioneers to suddenly and unexpectedly manifest out of the interiors of fireplaces seemed somehow beyond incredulous. I came to find out, as I greeted Ralph and made my own way into the bowels of the hearth, that the house was now crawling with psychedelic luminaries who had, unbeknownst to me, also made their way down from the Synergia Ranch to check out the new local feature. It was a surreal experience that I will not soon forget, that I’m eager to repeat (there’s so much that I missed/didn’t find), and that I recommend to anyone of any age. And, as I made my way through the House of Eternal Return, it was a great pleasure to find that Terence was already there waiting to greet me.

This Week’s Terence McKenna Archival Haul (5/19/17)

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series of ‘Weekly Haul’ posts showing off materials that have been added to the archive over the course of the preceding week. This week’s intake has been particularly noteworthy, including quite a range of TM-related literature for the archives, among which are a couple of incredibly rare items. Here’s what came in this week:

Let’s begin with a pair of books by Mark Jacobson:

  1. Teenage Hipster in the Modern World: From the Birth of Punk to the Land of Bush: Thirty Years of Millennial Journalism (2005)
    • Jacobson reprints his well-known interview with Terence that appeared in Esquire in 1992, but in his book, he amends the title, taking dispute with the tongue-in-cheek but somewhat derogatory title that Esquire assigned to the interview in the magazine, which was ‘Is Terence McKenna the Brave New Prophet of the Next Psychedelic Revolution, or Is His Cosmic Egg Just a Little Bit Cracked?’ 

    • As part of my effort to write this blog post, looking back at the original Esquire piece, I was fortunate to come across several other relevant issues of the magazine that contained material related to TM.
      • The September 1992 issue included a couple of curious reader responses to Jacobson’s interview with Terence that had appeared in the June 1992 issue. 

      • The April 1991 issue included an article on Virtual Reality that contained a description of an event called Cyberthon, at which both Terence McKenna and Timothy Leary spoke. The article describes part of Terence’s talk. 

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      • The November 2006 issue includes a cheeky article about apocalyptic expectations and includes a rather mean-spirited jab at McKenna as one among many misguided prophets calling him a “drug-eating dead man.” 

  2. Gojiro (1991)
  3. Terence’s bibliographer alerted me to a copy of a rare zine called Light Times: A Random Periodical (1988) that was for sale online. I had long been aware of its existence but over the years (and after a lot of searching) had never seen a copy for sale anywhere, and the UCSB Interlibrary Loan department was not able to find a single copy available in a worldwide search of libraries (though there does actually appear to be a copy in Special Collections at the University of Michigan if anybody is in the area and wants to check it out). The hand-printed and stapled zine includes an edited version of one of Terence’s talks that was originally a KPFK/Botanical Dimensions co-fundraiser sponsored by Roy Tuckman (aka Roy of Hollywood), under the title Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature (which is interrupted by a letter to the editors from Timothy Leary under the pseudonym Irving Blum), as well as an article by underground psychedelic icons Gracie & Zarkov (who have a great, unpublished interview with TM), titled Gracie’s ‘Visible Language’ Contact Experience, which makes several mentions of TM, including one of my favorite analogies for the Taoist concept of wu-wei

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    [Note for the super geeky: It’s not entirely clear to me how often Leary used the Irving Blumenthal pseudonym. On a quick search, I could only find two clear references to it as Leary’s alternate name. Antero Alli references it here, and there is a reference to another letter under this name in Michael Horowitz’s extensive Leary bibliography, in 1981, listed under C118. Horowitz’s bibliography was published in 1988, the same year this zine, and, as such, the latter does not appear in the bibliography. Horowitz does list another (1982) reference to a publication called Light Times under J433, though it’s not clear that the two publications are related. If you have any further information about Leary’s Irving Blum pseudonym, please do leave a comment.]

     

  4. Andy Roberts’ Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain (revised edition, 2012) doesn’t devote much time to Terence McKenna, but he is listed as among the guest speakers at Fraser Clark‘s London Megatripolis club. Here’s a song from a Megatripolis compilation CD that sample’s McKenna’s voice (and another). And, here’s Terence talking at Megatripolis. Here’s a nice clip of Terence talking about the difficulties of being a club-scene philosopher (and mentions Megatripolis). 

  5. Most of you have probably heard Terence’s several interviews with Fortean shock jock Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM (now hosted by George Noory). Well, Art also included some of Terence’s ideas in at least one of his books, The Source: Journey Through the Unexplained, co-authored with long-time pulp paranormal writer Brad Steiger. I added both a first edition (1999, hardback) and second edition (2002, paperback) to the archives.
     

  6. Sometimes, I stumble upon really great Terence McKenna material unexpectedly. I ordered a copy of Cam Cloud’s Acid Trips and Chemistry (1999), because there was a cheap copy available and I had a coupon at Thriftbooks. When it arrived, even though I assumed that since it was a book about LSD, it probably wouldn’t have any relation to TM since LSD wasn’t one of the psychedelics substances he went out of his way to promote (though he certainly had plenty of experience with it, having explored it “quite occasionally” among his youthful endeavors, often waiting until the peak of the acid trip to smoke some DMT). Nonetheless, despite my assumptions, I flipped to the back of the book (as I do) looking for an index in order to locate the letter “M.” Frustratingly, as is often the case in these matters, an index was absent, but a brief bibliography was present, which, to my surprise, did, indeed, include a reference to The Archaic Revival. So, I flipped through the pages hoping to locate where TM showed up, expecting maybe a passing quotation and was genuinely non-plussed at what I found. There is a “famous” photo, by Chip Simons, of Terence that appeared in the April 1992 issue of High Times as part of an interview conducted by David Jay Brown (and has been muchmemed). In Cam Cloud’s book, there appear to be further photos from that same photo shoot that I’ve never seen before. I have contacted Simons to see if he still has the originals, which would be professional color photographs rather than the black-and-white scans in Acid Trips and Chemistry. But, regardless, it is still fairly exciting to find out that there was a whole series of photos from this shoot at his home in Occidental, California….and that they are so creative! Keep an eye out for more on this front in the future.  [Update: Simons is going to find his originals from the shoot and send me scans!]
     

  7. Alt.Culture: An A-to-Z Guide to the ’90s–Underground, Online, and Over-the-Counter (1995–the title pretty much explains it) includes an entry on Terence, which begins by describing him as “ethnobotanist, philosopher, historian, and Nabokovian know-it-all.” Lodged between ‘McJob’ and ‘media moguls’, he is praised by authors Steven Daly and Nathaniel Wice as “one of the world’s greatest rhetorical ravers.” I think they like him.
     

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  8. Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World (2007), edited by J. P. Harpignies, contains material that, so far as I know, has not been represented in any other collections and does not exist in the online YouTube/mp3 corpus collected and distributed by the TM fan-base. The slim volume contains quite a few chapters of interest, including a transcript of a talk that Terence gave at the Bioneers conference in 1993 and a transcript of a trialogue from the following year that he had with his brother, Dennis, and the esteemed ethnographer and ethnobotanist Wade Davis. All of the material in the book comes from the Bioneers conferences from 1990 to 2004. The chapter list is fairly impressive and includes presentations by and discussions with Kat Harrison (Terence’s ex-wife), Paul Stamets, Dale Pendell, Luis Eduardo Luna, Jeremy Narby, Francis Huxley (who died in Dec. 2016), Alex Grey, Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, Charles Grob, and others. 

  9. In Ayahuasca: The Visionary & Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul (2003), Joan Parisi Wilcox includes just a passing mention of “intrepid psychonaut Terence McKenna” in her entheogenic travelogue. While introducing a chapter where she allows her ayahuasca-drinking companions to tell their experiences in their own terms, she quotes TM from The Archaic Revival, saying “What we need now are diaries of explorers. We need many diaries of many explorers so we can begin to get a feeling for the territory” (of course, this was before Erowid’s Experience Vaults manifested this kind of database). 

  10. Spirit Matters is a memoir by Matthew J. Pallamary that includes several interactions with Terence in the years leading up to his death. I’ll be meeting with Matt when he comes to town next month to teach at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, so I’ll keep this entry relatively short in anticipation of a future post after our meeting. In Spirit Matters, Pallamary recounts his journey to the Maya ruins of Uxmal to meet Terence in 1998, his meeting with Terence, his gift of a short story collection, how he was turned on to TM by a “sweet little old lady who had sent [him] tapes of his lectures,” an experience on thirteen Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds combined with “what Terence McKenna would call a ‘heroic dose’ of nine grams of mushrooms that nearly killed [him],” a second meeting with TM the following year in Palenque (including a 5-MeO-DMT trip), and a delightful story about a successful attempt (see photo below) to get the “very first copy…from the very first print” of his novel, Land Without Evil, to Terence at the 1999 AllChemical Arts Conference in Hawaii (the last place that most people saw him). Pallamary returned to the 2000 Entheobotany conference, but Terence was too ill at this point to attend; he recounts a conversation with Lorenzo Hagerty (who you’ll know as the host of the Psychedelic Salon podcast) where they reminisced about Terence’s absence, noting, “we all knew that if it hadn’t been for Terence, most of us would not have come to the tribe.” Look back for another post after I meet with Matt in June. 

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  11. It’s not often that I encounter explicit support for (or even mention of) Terence’s argument (in Food of the Gods, Chapter 7), against R. Gordon Wasson and others, that the soma plant of the Vedas, ritually consumed by the ancient ṛṣis (“rishis”–Vedic seers) was a species of Psilocybe mushroom (Wasson, of course, argued that it was an Amanita muscaria). However, in an endnote to his bestselling The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, Ian Baker does just that. [Here’s a short clip of Terence talking about soma and its potential relationship to the Zoroastrian haoma, which is identified as the harmaline-containing Peganum harmala (aka Syrian Rue); and here’s a talk by Baker that some may find interesting on the use of mercury among alchemical practitioners in present-day Burma.] 

  12. In Acid Christ: Ken Kesey, LSD, and the Politics of Ecstasy, Mark Christensen offers one of the strangest McKenna quotes to date (an idea that just seems patently wrong on its face, on all accounts, no matter how I spin it). 

  13. Ok, we’re getting near the end…. Penultimately, I received another very rare and hand-bound publication directly from the artist/editor (published in a series of 200), which includes an interview with Terence from 1996. I’m hoping to do a series of email dialogues with both of the editors soon, so won’t say too much now in anticipation of a future blog post entirely devoted to this. However, I thought it worth at least including in the record of the week’s haul. In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Ken Weathersby and David Keith, founding editors of Hootenanny, which includes details about the unique nature of the publication and some reminiscences of their meeting with TM. 

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  14. And, finally, for this week, I received a copy of Paul Krassner‘s Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities. Krassner includes the same piece, “Further Weirdness with Terence McKenna” (under the section heading “Several Dead Friends”) that also appears in his books Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs and Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders (although the edits do appear to be slightly different each time and the latter two books include an extended Q&A session (“in person and by e-mail”) that is not included in Murder at the Conspiracy ConventionIMG_0604IMG_0605IMG_0606

Whew! That was quite an intake for the Terence McKenna Archives for the week. As always, if you have any materials that you would like to contribute to the archive, please send an email to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com, and if you would like to donate to help assist with the acquisition effort, for now, use the Paypal link at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project website (and include a note with your donation that says “for archival acquistion” or the like). In the coming months, there will be a crowdfunding campaign for the Archive. So, please do follow this blog to keep up-to-date on even further weirdness with Terence McKenna…