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!]

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.

Translations 002

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.

Translations 011Translations 012Translations 013Translations 014Translations 015Translations 016

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.

Translations 003Translations 001Vere Alucinazioni 003Vere Alucinazioni 008Vere Alucinazioni 002

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.

Translations 019Translations 020Translations 021

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”).

Translations 004Translations 009Translations 010

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

Translations 006

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

Translations 008

Translations 022

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.

Translations 023

Translations 017

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”

Translations 018

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 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…


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


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.


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 #36 – R. U. Sirius Reviews ‘Alien Dreamtime’ for Wired Magazine

Today’s random item is a brief review of the Alien Dreamtime VHS video, produced by Ken Adams and Brit Welin as Rose-X Media House (not the audio CD, which was edited by Jonah Sharp, aka Spacetime Continuum for the Astralwerks label–there are some differences between the two aside from the fact that one includes video). This review, by none other than our friend R. U. Sirius (aka Ken Goffman, if you must), appeared in Wired Magazine for its issue of May 1994. [This item is from the digital archives, meaning that there is no physical copy of this magazine yet in the collection. We do have a copy of the Alien Dreamtime VHS, though.]

“Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him.”

wired9405 Zippiessiriustumblr_o58176Kb8r1uyoa2mo1_1280RUTMAD001RUTMAD002

Sleeping with the Aliens
The Alien Dreamtime video, produced by Rose-X Media House, is Terence McKenna’s “Greatest Hits,” spoken to the rhythm of the rave, live in San Francisco. Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him. In this video, Terence gets off the basic themes outlined in his three books: True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, and The Archaic Revival (updating McLuhan, McKenna claims that postindustrial cyberculture is leading us back into the future toward archaic prepatriarchal modes of living – witness the rise of Modern Primitivism), the oppressiveness of “mono” culture (“monopoly, monogamy, monotony”), and the place of tryptamine hallucinogens in human evolution (“the psilocybin mushroom is the catalyst of human evolution and language”).

Alien Dreamtime is the second video Rose-X has produced with ethnobotanist McKenna. (The first, Experiment at Petaluma, was a 30-minute rap on the possibilities of visual language.) Rose-X’s two-person team – Britt Welin and Ken Adams – cut their special effects teeth on visual effects for San Francisco’s Toon Town Raves. Alien Dreamtime stretches the duo’s psychedelic computer effects to new limits, and Stephen Kent’s didgeridoo adds a note of primitive intensity to the techno-rave soundtrack. The high point of the 60-minute Alien Dreamtime is the entrancing dance and sway of psychedelic love goddess Kim Kyle. The presence of the feminine form in all of its grandeur provides a humanizing touchstone amid the abstract imagery. (In fact, my only complaint about this video is that we should have seen more of her. But that’s a minor quibble.) Fans of a good psychedelic rant must run out and purchase this video right away!

–R. U. Sirius

Dale Pendell (1947-2018)

I’m very sad to hear, today, that one of the great poets of the psychedelic community, Dale Pendell, is no longer with us. I had the pleasure of seeing Dale read his poetry on several occasions, and he made an immediate impact–he’s not the kind of person you’re likely to forget. We’ve lost another irreplaceable wordsmith. Terence said of Dale’s original masterpiece, Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft:

“Dale Pendell reactivates the ancient connection between the bardic poet and the shaman. His Pharmako/Poeia is a litany to the secret plant allies that have always accompanied us along the alchemical trajectory that leads to a new and yet authentically archaic future.”

Robert Forte remembers:

“Dale’s trilogy, Pharmako/Poeia, Pharmako/Dynamis and Pharmako/Gnosis are among the very best… There is no better writing or writer on plants and consciousness. We have lost a wise man and I another beloved Friend. My greatest literary achievement is an acknowledgement in his first book for reading the manuscript and telling him: ‘Don’t change a word’.”

Every plant is a teacher
But as in every crowd
There are always
A few loudmouths

–Dale Pendell

The Rime Sparse

So many are grabbing for the money, so many
Want a free lunch, or are cynical and settle
For entertainment, that the world has adopted
Shallowness as its habit, and what was once

Our birthright is now considered deviation.
So squandered is our natural wisdom, that he
Who seeks the source of the flowing itself,
—the Muse’s spring—is thought a fool:

Who really desires laurel, or myrtle either?
“Goddess-lover, go, in the rags you deserve!”
Is what they’ll say, themselves pursuing

More material gains. You’ll find few comrades
On your chosen path; but for that reason I pray
All the more that you will not falter.

–translation by Dale Pendell

He mentions Terence, here, in his discussion of building up to taking DMT:

“I wasn’t anxious to meet Terence’s elves.” -Dale Pendell

The writer, and editor of Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh, who goes by the name Gyrus, in reviewing Pendell’s work made an interesting comparison with Terence:

“Like Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods, Pendell’s trilogy promises to unravel your preconceptions about the role of plants in human life. Unlike McKenna’s brilliant but inevitably flawed work, which re-visions our image of history around our interactions with plant chemistry to create a bold new emphasis that is bound to falter in its details, Pendell works in a more carefully particular, less declamatory mode. He has the open-hearted suspicion of the modern world that marks all good poets, but his occasional attempts to sketch coherent images of history, seen through the lens of our alliance with plants, are most often pithy asides, wry quips. That plants are significant powers is drawn out clearly; but there’s little presumption to grasp the total shape of their projects. McKenna walked a tightrope between humanist exuberance in the power of our species and animist deference to the larger system of nature. Pendell—while being very, very far from lacking exuberance or concern with power—sides with the animists, it seems. For a book on plants, this is a greater boon than anything else.”

Here’s Dale doing a reading from just a few months ago. The first poem, about dust, seems particularly poignant:

“There is only one truth: this dust comes home to us.”

Dale Pendell’s website has much to explore. Here is a post from this past November (2017): Those Who Still Have Bones.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #30 – Bruce Eisner’s Dedication to Terence McKenna

Today’s random item from the archives comes from an issue of the magazine (no longer in production) Psychedelic Island Views, which was edited by “long-time and notorious member of the psychedelic community,” Bruce Eisner. The issue itself has a bit of an identity crisis: the cover lists it as “Volume 3, Issue 1,” while the footer at the bottom of DSCF8479each page inside the magazine says “Volume 2, Issue 2.” To compound the schizophrenia even further, in Eisner’s own dedication to the volume (and to Terence), he refers to it as “this second issue of Psychedelic Island Views.” How a “second issue” could be either “Volume 3, Issue 1” or “Volume 2, Issue2” is still a bit beyond me.

Indeed, as Walt Whitman sings of himself (and each of us by extension):

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


The relevant part of this multitudinous magazine that I am sharing with you today is Eisner’s Dedication to Terence McKenna, which opens this 1997 issue…..whichever issue it happens to be.


There is actually a lot in this dense ode, including some interesting data points for those who are paying particularly close attention to Terence’s timeline. As an example, Eisner mentions having met Terence in July, 1982 at a party that was affiliated with the Colloquium II: The Future of Consciousness conference. He doesn’t make clear whether or not Terence was a speaker at the conference or not, but if he was, this would have been one of his very earliest public talks. If Terence didn’t talk at the conference, it’s still an important meeting point between him and other major figures in the psychedelic community. If anyone attended this conference and has photos, recordings, or memories of the event, please do contact me and let me know what you recall.

Here’s a photo of Eisner’s dedication to Terence, followed by a transcription of the text:


This second issue of Psychedelic Island Views carries on our tradition of honoring individuals who have contributed to psychedelic cultural experiment, proposed first by Aldous Huxley. We dedicate this issue to Terence McKenna, the bard and philosopher who has during the past decade been responsible for a resurgence of interest in the psychedelics and the experiences they engender by men and women around the globe.

I first met Terence McKenna during a party surrounding a conference, Colloquium II: The Future of Consciousness, in July 1982 at U.C. Santa Cruz. The conference featured a wide assortment of speakers including Stanislav Grof, Stanley Krippner, Timothy Leary, Frank Baron, Ralph Metzner, Elizabeth Rauscher and many others. The event was a follow-up, 3 years after we had presented Albert Hofmann in the same venue at a mega-meeting called LSD–A Generation Later, the first and only psychedelic conference of the ‘Seventies.

I had read Invisible Landscape in its hardbound form and was fascinated by Terence and his brother Dennis’ account of their Ayahuasca experience in the South American jungle, which Terence later exfoliated in his first spoken book and later written book, True Hallucinations. When I met Terence, he was a quiet figure in the background, doing a kind of Carlos Castaneda and quietly publishing books about the psychedelics that he held sacred. A second book authored by his brother and Terence under the pseudonym Oss and Oeric called the Psilocybin Mushroom Grower’s Guide had done a great deal to make available to the public important psychotropic fungi which previously had only been read about by most of our community.

Terence and I had an instant “connection.” What I didn’t know when I first met him, aside from the lively conversation we had at the party that night, was that along with Timothy Leary, this was another Irishman who had kissed the Blarney Stone. Since that night, Terence has lectured around the globe, holding audiences mesmerized by his talks on a variety of unusual topics.

One lecture I was invited to, that was sponsored by Mondo 2000, concerned a theme which has remained constant with Terence, his theory that there is a fractal harmonic based on the I Ching, which when combined with predictions found in the Mayan Calendar points to the ending of history as we know it in the year 2012. He even has developed a software program which allows us to explore rises and falls in “novelty” of events as we approach the “rotating object, which hovers at the end of time.”

The latest predictions are incorporated into his beautiful World Wide Web site Hyperborea (http: http://www.levity.com/eschaton/hyperborea.html), which begins, “You have entered an Alchemical Garden at the Edge of Time. There is haze upon the distant hills; spreading Acacias bend low over reflecting pools. The air is filled with an all-pervasive hum; these are the reveries of the Proustian bees. Your guide will be gardener/curator, Terence McKenna.”

Master Web Artist Dmitri Novus has also created a rich Terence McKenna space as part of his The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension (http://www.deoxy.org).

Another lecture I attended was about Terence’s theory that the magic mushroom was a much-used part of our tribal past. This view is expressed in his book Food of the Gods, McKenna believes that our past several thousand years have been a fall from our Dionysian, tribal, psychedelic past and that we are headed for an Archaic Revival, the subject of a series of essays and interviews in a book by the same name.

McKenna is also a close friend with Chaos Theorist Ralph Abraham, a professor of mathematics at my alma mater, U.C. Santa Cruz, and has conducted wide-ranging discussion with him and English biologist Rupert Sheldrake that was published in another recent book, Trialogues.

As you can see, Terence has indeed filled our ears and eyes with many words in the 15 years since we first met. Not content to rest on his laurels, he has published a number of recent articles about the link between the Internet and the psychedelic experience and is currently working on a new book about the future. At the same time a poet and a scholar. We are proud to dedicate this issue to one of the most significant spokesmen of a new generation of leaders of Island’s community of like-minded folk in search of a new culture.

Bruce Eisner

And a few advertisements that I found throughout the rest of the issue:


Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #27 – Terence McKenna at Bodhi Tree Bookstore & Phoenix Bookstore

Today’s random item is a rather brief one, so I’ll spice it up a bit with some related additional material at the end…

The Daily News of Los Angeles newspaper from Sunday, April 19, 1992 listed two forthcoming bookstore appearances in the L.A. area over the next week. This was very shortly after Food of the Gods was published. For anyone who is keeping a Terence McKenna timeline (or, for anyone who wants to help keep our timeline up to date at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project), these are useful data points.


The first, on Monday, April 20 (er, 420), was at the famous New Age hotspot, the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood:


The second, on Friday, April 24, was at the (now out of business) Phoenix Bookstore in Santa Monica:


If any of the people involved with either of these bookstores has any further information about these events, flyers, newsletters with event calendar, photos, recordings, correspondences with Terence about the event, etc., please do let me know. I would also just be interested to talk with anyone who was at or involved with the event (or any other similar event). If you represent Bodhi Tree or Phoenix Bookstores, please contact me at terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com.

As a further archival bonus, on the topic of Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Terence was also interviewed in an issue of the Bodhi Tree Bookstore magazine (#5, Spring 1993). The TM Archives does not currently possess a physical copy of this and haven’t been able to find one for sale online, so if you have a copy and would like to donate it to the archives or know of how the archives can acquire one, please do get in touch. The interview (by Mark Kenaston) is, however, available online, so you can read it yourself here.


I had never entertained such a notion as that there could be these chemicals in cactus that would sweep you away to jeweled landscapes haunted by mythological creatures, phosphorescent maidens and the ruined architectonic geometries of who-knows-what.

I regard science fiction as the entry drug into the psychedelic world. If by nine, ten, eleven or twelve, you’re reading science fiction, then you’re probably lost to normality.

MK: What did your mother think of your interests? Did she think my kid is off his nut?
TM: Well, she was a Huxley fan. But you see, the great paradox of Huxley was that he sold guns to both sides. Brave New World is what really gave Huxley his reputation. Have you read it?  …he anticipated the archaic revival because the world of Island is essentially an archaic-technical world.
MK: So how did you make your entry into the world of psychedelics?
TM: With morning glories. Let’s see, it must have been the summer that I was fifteen or sixteen.
I discovered Cannabis in my last year of high school and from then on I was just riveted by it. It seemed to me obvious, I don’t know, like I was astrologically set up for it.
The twin horrors or twin problems of Western society are ego and materialism. And they’re linked together in a naïve monotheism. This creates toxic cultural conditions if you allow the engine to run for a thousand years, which it now has.
TM: Since we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of LSD, I suppose it would be appropriate.
MK: Is Sandoz throwing a party of some sort?
The best trips I would have with LSD was when I would smoke a lot of hash—by itself, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I had this romantic vision from reading Huxley and Havelock Ellis, and by god, I wanted to see ruined desert cities and jungle ruins of strange civilizations and hear the phosphorescent maiden play her daemon song upon the dulcimer. In other words, I wanted vision and LSD wasn’t exactly like that for me. But, Psilocybin was, and DMT certainly was.
Well, I really believe that this connection to the Gaian Mind that Paleolithic shamanism exploited is the basis of our ideas about deity. The idea of and overwhelming, guiding, creating force comes out of all of that. Religion and mystical practice without psychedelics are derivative, I think, and late. It’s an accommodation to class structures and community need for control, and that sort of thing, that basically came with the invention of agriculture.
I tend to assume that chaos is unavoidable and that it’s like living on an island chain in the Pacific Ocean, and the issue is to sail or not to sail, and that nobody can guarantee calm seas.
MK: Where do stand today on the subject of mysticism?
TM: The bottom line for me is that I absolutely believe that the world is magical. I have seen violations of physics that satisfy me. But also my position is, “show me,’ because that works. Out of 10 minutes of my life, the ‘show me’ position has delivered 10 minutes of truly miraculous stuff.
The best method is to be very rational and rigorous about evidence, but to press the edge.
I’m basically a rationalist, totally committed and believing in the power of the irrational. But some people have tried to put me in the New Age, I just have contempt for all that because those people are just flaky. They believe anything. All you have to do is lower your voice and start raving and they think they’re in contact with a mogul lord of the sixteenth millennium. I mean I just don’t understand that level of woo-woo.


Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #25 – Food of the Gods for Young Readers

The second short newspaper post today is from The Buffalo News (New York), February 14, 1993. There’s not a whole lot to say here…or a whole lot to see. But, it is….interesting, at least, that Terence McKenna’s book Food of the Gods is here listed, though not actually reviewed, under books “for young readers.”

FOTG for kids

And, some unrelated images…just for fun.


This Week’s Terence McKenna Archival Haul (5/27/17)

This week’s intake at the Terence McKenna Archives was much more modest than last week’s substantial haul. The only hard copy publication that arrived just came in today:

  1. Disinformation’s Book of Lies.

The Book of Lies, as most of these large Disinformation Guides, consists of dozens of chapters by a smorgasbord of authors from a wide swath of the countercultural milieu, this time ‘focusing’ on “Magick and the Occult.” The small section on “Chemognosis” contains only two chapters (it’s the heading with the least number of contributions in the volume), one of which is an edited transcript of Terence McKenna’s first talk at Esalen during the Lilly/Goswami [that’s John and Amit] Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’. There seems to be some dispute about when this conference actually took place. Anyone who was there or has a photo or scan of an original catalog can help with this. Both The Book of Lies and Jeffrey Kripal in his book, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion describe the event as taking place in December 1983. However, as you can see here, the actual tape (not published by Dolphin Tapes until 1997) lists it as taking place in 1982, as does Erowid, though citing the Dolphin Tapes published version. I have tended to favor the 1982 dating, though I can’t now remember all of my reasons for doing so (most, like Jesse Jarnow and Graham St. John, have gone with the 1983 date–it would be great to clear this up, as, historically speaking, it’s not entirely insignificant when this took  place–you can see this same issue playing out on the Psychedelic Salon page for the talk).

Even though this is among Terence’s most well-known and most-published talk, I thought it would still be worth including some of the selected quotations for your edification and amusement:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2. This week, in a conversation with R. Michael Johnson (one of the movers behind the excellent RAWilsonFans website–you can read a good chunk of his introduction to the brand new edition of Robert Anton Wilson’s Email to the Universe by Hiliritas Press on Amazon), he took me through his list of a great many places where he knew Terence cropped up in various literature. Most of the items he mentioned are already represented in the archives, but he definitely gave me several significant leads that I hadn’t had on my radar (thanks, Mike!). The most embarrassing of the items he mentioned was Robert Anton Wilson’s Everything is Under Control, because it has been sitting on the same bookshelf as most of the McKenna archive for quite a long time without my realizing it contained both an entry on Terence himself as well as an even longer entry on Food of the Gods (which is distinct from RAW’s review of the book which appeared in his Trajectories Newsletter #10, 1991 and is reprinted in Chaos & Beyond: The Best of Trajectories).

3. Beyond that, I rediscovered that Google Books allows you to also search through magazines (whichever ones they have in their database). This caused me to come across some magazine articles that mentioned Terence which I hadn’t encountered before as well as a whole slew of advertisements.