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.

ReVISIONing the Archaic Revival (1987-1989)

Terence made three contributions to a publication called ReVISION: The Journal of Consciousness and Change in the mid-80s. During the time that his pieces appeared, the executive editors of the journal were Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, and Huston Smith, each among the pioneers of American psychedelia. Terence’s appearances in ReVISION would have been an important outlet for his work to certain important segments of the counterculture at this formative stage in his career. In Vol. 10 No. 1 (Summer 1987), an essay called ‘Temporal Resonance’, written by our own TM, appeared next to other articles by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham (his co-conspirators for a popular series of trialogues that took place as workshops at the Esalen institute, some of which were later edited and published as books), Ralph Metzner, and physicist Nick Herbert.

In Vol. 10 No. 4 (Spring 1988), in an issue whose cover bears Kat Harrison’s now iconic drawing of the ‘bee-faced mushroom shaman’ from Tassili-n-Ajjer, another essay by our protagonist appeared with the title ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Evolution’ alongside other essays by Albert Hofmann, Robert Forte, and, again, Ralph Metzner. At the end of the issue, there is also an advertisement for the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference, whose theme for the year was ‘The Transpersonal Vision: Past, Present, and Future’, which lists “Terrence McKenna” [sic] as a speaker.

Finally, in Vol. 11 No. 3, (Winter 1989), in a discussion (roughly) on the subject of UFOs, Terence talks with an unnamed interlocutor in an interviewed dubbed ‘A Conversation over Saucers’. And, following up on the previous advertisement, a new ad for the recordings from the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference appeared in this issue, including Terence’s talk called ‘Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants’.

All three of these ReVISION pieces were eventually republished under the same names in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival (except the word ‘Hallucinogenic’ was removed from the title of the second piece to render: ‘Mushrooms and History’). Here, the previously unnamed interviewer was finally identified as Will Noffke, radio host and owner of the Shared Visions bookstore in San Francisco which had a history of hosting Terence for talks and book signings.

(Note of interest: my own bound set of ReVision volumes came to me from the library of the Association for Research & Enlightenment, or A.R.E., in Virginia Beach, which was founded by Edgar Cayce to support his research and whose legacy is carried on there by his family. They were selling off some of the items from their library, so I purchased their set of bound ReVISION volumes).