The Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #40 – The Flight Into Egypt by Timothy C. Ely (Foreword by Terence McKenna)

Today’s item randomly selected from the collection is the book The Flight Into Egypt by Timothy C. Ely, which includes a Foreword by Terence McKenna. The two had met in New York and quickly came to collaborate on a rare and unique hand-made art book called Synesthesia [our upcoming crowdfund will be, in part, an effort to be able acquire one of these from a private owner who has accepted an reasonable offer so long as I can get the funds by mid-March–keep your eyes peeled in the next week or so for the crowdfund launch]. In the process of their interactions,


Timothy C. Ely & Terence McKenna

Terence had a chance to see the original, unique, one-off The Flight Into Egypt book. Ely is an artist and bookmaker and has a history of making unique books…and by that I don’t mean books that standout as different as a result of their own distinctive style (although this is also true of his work), but rather that he only makes one of each…unique…they are not commercial items. The Flight Into Egypt was one such book, perhaps the only such book to eventually make it out in a commercial version–a sometimes bittersweet process that makes an artist’s work available in a way that it wouldn’t otherwise have been while simultaneously reducing a unique object of depth & texture and flattening it to a smooth, 2D rendering that can be endlessly reproduced as exact copies of each other. Yet, for those of us who might have never had the opportunity to see the original face-to-face, it is still an opportunity for us to enter into a visionary mind that we might not have otherwise had access to. For comparison, here are photos of both the original and the commercial reproduction:

Nonetheless, even given that the commercial reproduction can never match the embodied experience of the original, it is still more than a delight to interact with, and Terence’s 3-page Foreword is wonderfully imaginative and playful! It’s been a great pleasure of mine to get to know Tim by email correspondence over the last couple of years. He’s a very thoughtful individual, and I hope to share more of his story and thoughts with you over time.


There will be several used copies of The Flight Into Egypt available in the imminently forthcoming Terence McKenna Archives crowdfund campaign (along with some other relevant material that I think you’ll enjoy). Here’s some of what Terence had to say about it:

It was with great pleasure and anticipation that I accepted [the] invitation to provide an introduction to this, the first printed edition of Timothy Ely’s masterpiece The Flight Into Egypt: Binding the Book. I was familiar with Tim’s bookmaking accomplishments, had even published in collaboration with him, but in spite of our association I had never experienced the actual presence of the original Flight Into Egypt until that moment, when alone, in good light and suitably activated by the lighter esters of delta six tetra-hydrocannabinol, I removed the brass screws from a heavily insured wooden packing crate, lifted away the top, and gazed upon the work. Reality outran apprehension at last, and the thing lay before me…

In the act of opening the book, my anticipation of otherness bordered on the Borgesian.

And then there it was, the open tome–part book, part journey, part secret doctrine, part jewel. The heavy pages must be turned carefully; the aura of magical craft is inescapable… There is text, but little is recognizable. Most is cryptoglossia, the rare written equivalent of spoken glossolalia… Automatic writing, cryptoglossia especially, carries us into the realm of intent toward signification without any culturally contrived meaning, toward the radiance of the Neoplatonic idea of the One…

…one cannot help but be immediately struck by the insectile glyphs so scrupulously and cryptically written everywhere. They are tracings made with a conscious alien intent… What is beheld, what is intended, literally cannot be spoken of. To understand it is to enter into a confraternity of silence, along with bookmakers, mystics, mathematicians, musicians, and assemblers of mosaics.

To gaze upon these images is to be swept on a pilgrim’s journey into a phantasmagoria of hashish and occult dreaming…

And what is it that is being charted, measured, graphed, and mathematically expressed as we make our way deeper into the analogical engine of the work? I believe it is the magma of posthistorical time, which moves beneath the carefully charted landforms of Ely’s mental Egypt. The rupture of planes is sure to occur when the transubstantiated object raises its protean form from beneath the desert sands, where it has been sleeping for uncounted aeons…

In Tim Ely’s world, we meet the book as artifact, as concrescence of cognitive process… The Flight Into Egypt…is intensely aware of itself as both object and enterprise…

Words, signs, maps, and the presence of hidden energies all combine into a course of visual epistemology. This is a grimoire for our times, a book of angelic conjuration… The Flight Into Egypt is ultimately accessional and alchemical. To experience it leads to a rarefaction and an internal integration that is the essence of art and life.

–Terence McKenna

Foreword to ‘Maya Cosmogenesis 2012’ – John Major Jenkins Interview Item #1

As I listened through the interview that I conducted with John Major Jenkins at his home in April 2016, I realized that there are a lot of very specific references layered into the interview, each of which would make a good post on its own. So, what I’ll do is go through the JMJ interview and create a series of annotations as individual blog posts, creating a link for each at the bottom of the original interview page, so that there is one page with the interview and links to each of the annotations.

The first reference, only 35 seconds into the interview is perhaps the most salient for people who know the connection between John Major Jenkins and Terence McKenna, namely that Terence wrote the Foreword to JMJ’s book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: the True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date (1998). Jenkins tells the A1nNahe94HLstory of how this came to be elsewhere in the interview. The short version is that the two had been corresponding since the early ’90s about material related to the Mayan calendar, as well as the I Ching (both had been members of an I Ching mailing list). Terence was giving a talk in Colorado in 1996, and JMJ went to the venue and ran into Terence who gave him a pass to the talk and the two ended up at lunch where JMJ asked about publishers for his book, and Bear & Company came up (with some reservations) as they had published the Trialogues at the Edge of the West book that contained transcripts of some of Terence’s conversations with Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham at the Esalen Institute. As JMJ entered negotiations with Bear & Company, he suggested the possibility of having Terence write a Foreword, and the idea was met with enthusiasm. Although Terence and JMJ both wrote about 2012 and mutually influenced each other, there ideas were fairly different (particularly in that Terence placed the fulfillment of the eschaton in a single dramatic moment at the end of the Timewave, where Jenkins offered a 36-year window, “Era-2012,” that would be a slow passage and an cosmic opportunity for transformation and renewal). Nonetheless, because of Terence’s contribution to JMJ’s book, their views have often been conflated, to the point that Terence had to publish a written response distinguishing their views. Nonetheless, it was, in part, Terence and Dennis’ suggestions in The Invisible Landscape that led to Jenkins’ interests and it was also, in part, Jenkins’ research in the mid-to-late ’90s that strengthened Terence’s convictions that he was onto something significant. So, despite the differences in idea, they were important collaborators and co-contributors to the spread of the idea that there was something significant about the year 2012 that was somehow built into the clockwork of the cosmos.

Here’s Terence’s Foreword to John Major Jenkins’ Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, written in January 1998 (screenshots from Google Books):

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #8 – “Good Grief is McKenna Gassy”

Today’s random item from the Terence McKenna Archives is a book review of The Flight Into Egypt by artist and bookmaker Timothy Ely. The book has a Foreword by Terence McKenna. The review itself is written by George Myers, Jr., the staff book critic for the The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) and appeared in the October 30, 1995 edition of that newspaper. Obviously, while Myers was quite taken with Ely’s work and the production efforts of Chronicle Books, he was clearly not a fan of Terence’s writing style. Here’s the relevant section of the article…


Several copies of the commercial edition of Ely’s book, with Terence’s Foreword, will be available as incentives as part of the forthcoming TM Archives crowdfunding campaign.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rancorous and Contumacious

Reviewers are often not amused by Terence. It’s clear that many are unfamiliar with his work and find themselves caught off-guard by the boldness of his advocacy. I received a copy today of one such review. The review is of the 2nd edition of Richard Glen Boire’s excellent Sacred Mushrooms and the Law booklet and appeared in Mushroom: The Journal of Wild Mushrooming Vol. 16 No. 4 (Issue #61, Fall 1998). The reviewer, Harley Barnhart, an amateur mycologist and accomplished mushroom photographer, found much to praise in the concision and thoroughness of Boire’s treatment of the legal formalities and ambiguities of the relationship between mushrooms and the psychoactive chemicals which some of them act as “containers” for. Barnhart, however, had no such praise for McKenna’s Foreword. Indeed, he offers much derision, noting a “rancorous” tone and a “contumacious” attitude. As a career military man (Barnhart spent more than three decades working for the U.S. Air Force, from 1943-1974), perhaps it’s not surprising that Terence’s willful disdain for authority was particularly salient for our straight-and-narrow reviewer. That said, Terence’s antinomianism is not particularly hidden, either. The very first words of his Foreword, quoting Charles Dickens, read (all in caps): “THE LAW IS AN ASS.” He goes on to offer Boire’s booklet as a “manual” for “anyone caught in the Kafkaesque danse macabre of ‘preparing for defense’.” He castigates the “underbelly of American justice” and its “moronic response” to drug use, a system which he finds is too “eager” to “trample rights” and to “extinguish forms of religious expression outside the ‘Christian family’.” For McKenna, the “constipated judicial mind” with its “absurd prosecutions” has produced a “folly” composed of “contradiction” that is symptomatic of “social decay.” It is perhaps, then, not entirely surprising that someone (Barnhart) who committed his entire adult life to fulfilling his role within a system of governmental authority might not find McKenna’s appeal particularly compelling.1998 - Mushroom - Harley Barnhart Disses TM 01

1998 - Mushroom - Harley Barnhart Disses TM 03

“This book is written with a…