Today, I received a copy of the June 1998 issue of Magical Blend magazine. I was hoping that it would contain a review of John Major Jenkins’ book, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date (Bear & Company, 1998).
Terence McKenna wrote the Foreword to Jenkins’ book, and, from what Jenkins has said elsewhere, the reviewer for Magical Blend also discusses Terence’s contribution and ideas. All I know, however, from Jenkins, is that he and Terence wrote written responses to the review that appeared in an issue in “Fall 1998.” Since the magazine was published monthly, it’s unclear exactly which month in “Fall” he was referring to. So, when I saw an inexpensive copy of the June issue show up on eBay, I thought it might be a good candidate for the issue that contained the initial review that prompted their “Fall” rejoinders.
Alas, the June 1998 issue did not contain what I was looking for….however, it did contain a fair bit more Terence McKenna than I had expected, in the form of a range of advertisements for events & products.
I’m not actually sure yet which of these Whole Life Expos Terence spoke at in 1998.
The book ‘A Magical Universe’ features an essay by Terence McKenna (there are a few copies left available through our crowdfund).
Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ The New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998
Terence was popular enough in the pages of Magical Blend that they created a special Terence McKenna issues specialty set that readers could purchase.
(Bottom Right) – The Psychedelic Sourcebook: “The most complete, focused and subversive psychedelic resource list in print.” -Terence McKenna – A psychonaut must!
(Bottom left) – Better decisions, better relationships. Visit the authentic Oracle of Changes online. Absolutely FREE. “Cool, very cool.” -Terence McKenna – http://www.ICHING.com
Terence McKenna in Hawaii @ New Millennium Institute, May 24-30, 1998
After mentioning (6:11) that he cites The Invisible Landscape in his 1989 book Jouryney to the Mayan Underworld (“for the shamanism”), he mentions that it was through seeing an article by (or interview with) Terence in Magical Blend magazine during the same period when he was writing that book that he realized that this “put [Terence] on the map as some kind of cultural icon or something, a real guy that was out there, because of course, [in] the late ’80s, you couldn’t just go on Google and look people up.” This realization led to their eventual contact through an I Ching mailing network that they were both members of.
There are a couple of annotations to be made here.
The first is that the Magical Blend article that JMJ refers to is almost certainly the ‘New Maps of Hyperspace’ article from issue #22 (April, 1989) that was featured in an earlier blog post. Since Jenkins refers to the period of “1988, maybe early 1989,” and since this is the only Magical Blend appearance in those two years, it seems likely. It seems even more likely, given that JMJ cites that very article in his (2017) revised edition of Journey to the Mayan Underworld. Without seeing his original (1989) manuscript, it’s difficult to know what changed (it’s clear that there have been significant revisions).
The second is the specific nature of the reference that JMJ makes to The Invisible Landscape. I have to say, given his qualifier in the interview with me, that he was mostly interested in the shamanism, his actual use of The Invisible Landscape is actually more of an attempt to extend their argument about the “electron spin resonance” (ESR) of drug molecules and DNA storage of memories. This eventually does get back around to shamanism but only at the very end of the discussion, where he finally speculates that “shamanic journeys to the ‘spirit world’ may have access to these [ESR patterns fundamental to human DNA], resulting in the abstract art seen at Mitla, as well as the Sacred [Mayan] Calendar which reflects the same pattern.”
Since Jenkins passed away, I have attempted to fill in my collection of his work and have also tried to (very respectfully) be in touch with his family to discuss assistance with archiving and preserving his work and substantial amounts of historical documentation. The new edition of Journey to the Mayan Underworld (2017) is among those items, and it is also now one of the new items in the Terence McKenna Archives.
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 story 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):
I found out yesterday that John Major Jenkins, an important figure in the development of the 2012 phenomenon and a friend and collaborator of Terence McKenna’s, died of cancer on July 2, two days ago relative to this post. For me, it was rather unexpected, and the first thing I did was to relisten to the interview that I recorded with JMJ at his home in Windsor, Colorado in April of last year while on a roadtrip through Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado (during which I also visited Terence’s & Dennis’ hometown of Paonia). While I wasn’t planning on publishing the interview anytime soon, since I expected to have plenty of other opportunities to follow up with John and am also gathering quite a few interview with people about Terence, and since I plan to do something with them collectively. However, in light of his sudden passing, I thought it appropriate to share that conversation with you all.
The interview covers a range of historical information about JMJ, his awareness of Terence and his ideas, his interactions with Terence over the years, a variety of personal synchronicities between the two, and a final reflection on Terence’s legacy and significance (as well as absence) in the present world.
My primary recording device was dead at the time, and I had to record on my phone. So, I apologize in advance for any moments where either of us lean away from the table where the phone was sitting and the volume goes down.
John and I have a had a complex relationship over the years, often going back and forth between cordial sharers of information of mutual interest to antagonistic intellectual opponents. In the end, I’m incredibly glad that we met (for the second time) at his house last year, where he was a very kind host and offered me a place to stay for the night on my road trip. I certainly didn’t know it would be the last meeting would we have. As I’ve done for Terence (and for Jose Arguelles), I’m hopeful that I can be among those who help ensure that JMJ’s significant historical documentation (you’ll notice his very specific recollections, references, and references to documents he owns in the interview) can be preserved for future researchers. What John really wanted in life was for people to take his ideas seriously.
And, without further ado, here’s my interview with John Major Jenkins, about Terence McKenna, from April 11, 2016:
Here’s my library of John’s work (I do keep archives of more than just Terence). I’ve got a lot more than this, but can’t find some of it just now and have a lot stored digitally:
Annotations to the John Major Jenkins Interview:
(0:08) JMJ originally states the date as “August 11th” and then corrects himself to “April 11th.” This may seem innocuous but shows how much time he spent with his head in the Maya Long Count calendar. August 11th is (one of the candidates for) the base-date of the Long Count calendar, August 11, 3114 BC.
(6:11) After mentioning that he cites The Invisible Landscape in his 1989 book Jouryney to the Mayan Underworld (“for the shamanism”), he mentions that it was through seeing an article by (or interview with) Terence in Magical Blend magazine that he realized that this “put him on the map as some kind of cultural icon or something, a real guy that was out there, because of course, [in] the late ’80s, you couldn’t just go on Google and look people up; where are these people? I don’t know, they don’t have a Facebook.” This realization led to their eventual contact through an I Ching mailing network that they were both members of.
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.
The big dome at the Synergia Ranch (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Dennis McKenna (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Dennis McKenna’s presentation (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Dennis McKenna (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Rick Doblin presenting at Synergia Ranch (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Rick Doblin’s presentation at Synergia Ranch, April 2016 (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Ralph Metzner’s presentation at Synergia Ranch, April 2016 (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Ralph Metzner @ Synergia Ranch 2016 (Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Panel #1 @ Synergia Ranch 2016 (Dr. George Greer?, Rick Doblin, Dennis McKenna, and Ralph Metzner)(Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
Panel #2 @ Synergia Ranch 2016 (Allan Badiner, Gay Dillingham, Valerie Plame Wilson, Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, and Michael Garfield)(Photo credit: Kevin Whitesides)
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.
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.
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)
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).
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.
Food of the Gods (to the left)
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’sDrugs 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.
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.