Michael Harner (1929-2018)

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

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

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

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

The Search for the Violet Psychofluid

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

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

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

February 28, 1971

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

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

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

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

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

Terence goes on telling the story…

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

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

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

[T:] “Ideas? What sort of ideas?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, what the hell! Here’s part of it:

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

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

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

From Chapter 6: An Experiment at La Chorrera:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Items of note here are:

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

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


1976 Review of ‘The Invisible Landscape’ in Marilyn Ferguson’s Brain/Mind Bulletin

Today’s post is a nice example of some of the different kinds of work that I do as archivist for the Terence McKenna’s Archives. If you’d like to skip straight to the 1976 review, you can skip to Step #6:

Step #1: A Lead to a New Source Appears

Following the publication of the 1st edition of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching in late December of 1975, in a bid to convince the book’s editor at Seabury Press/Continuum that more resources should be poured into advertising and public relations for the book, Terence McKenna mailed a copy of a review of TIL that appeared in the Brain/Mind Bulletin newsletter, which he hoped would help to demonstrate sufficient public interest in, and enthusiasm for, the book if it were brought to the attention of the appropriate audience.

Brain/Mind Bulletin (1975-1996) was a newsletter founded and edited by Marilyn Ferguson, who is often seen as a formative influence in the development of the’Human Potential’ and ‘New Age’ milieus, her most well-known contribution being her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s. Ferguson’s newsletter was devoted to what it called the “frontiers of research, theory and practice,” which certainly converges with how Terence conceived of the material described in The Invisible Landscape.

Step #2: The Search

So, from Terence’s letter to his editor, I know that there is a very early review of The Invisible Landscape in an issue of Brain/Mind Bulletin from when it was first released and the McKenna brothers were an unknown, a review that I hadn’t known about until now. The next step was, of course, to find that review and to add it to the archival collection as, at least, a digital scan if not a physical copy of the publication.

Nothing directly useful on Google (no dedicated website or online archive for Brain/Mind Bulletin).

For a moment, I think “Interlibrary Loan” could be useful here, but quickly realize that I don’t know which issue of the 24 issues, from the entire year of 1976, contains the review I’m looking for, and that it would be a bit rich to put in a request that would require a library employee at some distant location to scan through a year’s worth of newsletters to, hopefully, find and scan one book review.

WorldCat has been a life saver, time and again, for locating rare items for the archive. Among its many virtues, it provides information about which major libraries hold (practically) any item of interest. In this case, I was delighted to see that my own university’s library held a collection of Brain/Mind Bulletin from v. 1, no. 1 in 1975 up through v. 16, no. 7 (Apr. 1991). I requested to have the materials collected and held for me at Special Collections, and, the following week, I was sitting in their reading room with my camera phone ready to snap the photo of the review, only to find that several of the issues from 1976 were missing from the collection including, of course, the one that I was looking for. At this point, it seemed like I might have to just wait until I was on the road visiting another library listed on WorldCat and hope that their collection wouldn’t also be incomplete in just the wrong way.

Now, armed with a better idea of what I was and wasn’t looking for, I found a seller on eBay with a listing for a “Lot of 1970’s BRAIN MIND Mailer Bulletins” but with no details about how many issues or which issues…something the seller also didn’t know upon contact. I decided to make the gamble, knowing that, either way, $20 was a very reasonable price for a lot that would provide a window onto a rich slice of counterculture history even if the issue with The Invisible Landscape review was missing.

So, I took the gamble and made the order…

Step #3: Acquisition

Today, I received the box containing my issues of Brain/Mind Bulletin and was pleased to find a nearly complete set of the first several years of the publication, including Vol. 1 No. 12 (May 3, 1976) with the The Invisible Landscape reviewed by Marjorie Schuman. I will very happily, and admittedly unexpectedly, now, add a physical copy of this very early review to the Terence McKenna Archives collection. This, then, so far as I know, would be the second published review of the book, appearing only two days after one in Library Journal.

Step #4: Scanning into Digital Archives

Step #5: Preservation

Vol. 1 No. 12 of Brain/Mind Bulletin will get slid into a plastic sleeve and stored with other periodicals and loose-paper items in the collection. Following our first major crowdfund campaign (starting in February 2018), all storage for this kind of item will be upgraded to high-quality archival storage boxes.

Step #6: Sharing with the Community

This step, along with the thrill of the hunt and the acquisition of new information, is a big part of what makes the effort worthwhile. Enjoy!

…the McKennas ‘tested’ their complicated hypothesis by ingesting a mixture of ayahuasca and psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

For almost a month, they experienced a “sudden and immediate migration (toward) schizophrenia or classic shamanic trance”–a “shared shamanic journey of return from the ends of space and time.”…

According to this model, “all phenomena are at root constellated by a wave form which is the hierarchical summation of its constituent parts, morphogenetic patterns related to DNA.”

The reader who perseveres…will be impressed by their thorough researching…

Their ultimate hypothesis…is farfetched to say the least. Still, we may remind ourselves humbly that truth has often seemed bizarre. ‘The Invisible Landscape’ is worth reading for those who, like the McKennas, are fascinated by psychedelics, interested in science and receptive to far-out theories.

1976 - Brain-Mind Bulletin - The Invisible Landscape Reviewed by Marilyn Ferguson 011976 - Brain-Mind Bulletin - The Invisible Landscape Reviewed by Marilyn Ferguson

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:


The Invisible Landscape Reviewed in Library Journal in 1976

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

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

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

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

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


Journey to the Mayan Underworld – John Major Jenkins Interview Item #2

This is the second item in the series of annotations to my interview with John Major Jenkins.

51qLHmdd7+LAfter 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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.



Weekly Terence McKenna Archival Haul (6/11/17)

Another mellow week at the Terence McKenna Archives. Here’s what we took in this time around:

  1. I received the other three issues of Psychedelic Monographs & Essays–I received and mentioned the first ordered issue last week only to note that there was not much to be found in its pages related to TM. Well, the same is largely true of the remaining volumes of PM&E, although there are a few mentions that I will note. In #2, there’s nothing. In #3, there is a citation for both The Invisible Landscape and the original audiobook of True Hallucinations (before a published book ever existed) as part of an article on Rupert Sheldrake and his ‘Hypothesis of Formative Causation’. The McKenna’s are cited among a group of observers who have noted “past life remembrance” with psychedelics. In #4 there are a few more citations: in an article on ‘Meditation and Resonance Effects’ by Philo Stone, the ‘Organismic Thought’ chapter of The Invisible Landscape is cited and in an article on ‘The Mushroom Entheogen’ Terence and Dennis are cited under their Oeric & Oss pseudonyms for their book, Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide. Terence also shows up in an advertisement for an event in honor of Albert Hofmann at which he would be a featured presenter to take place on October 2, 1988 at the Scottish Rite Temple in Los Angeles and is listed on the subsequent page as among the board members for the Albert Hofmann Foundation. Finally, there is an advertisement for Terence’s talks, via Kat Harrison’s Lux Natura catalog, which appears near the end of the volume located next to an advertisement for Botanical Dimensions.

2. Exposure magazine from October 1990 included a dual-article with pieces written by both Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna. This is a fairly rare and little-known (and quite large) item. I am only aware of one other copy currently available online going for about $60.

3. I received a hard copy of an issue of SPIN magazine from April 1991 that I featured a couple weeks back in the weekly haul as a set of digital images. One thing that I failed to mention last time that I will highlight now is a curious mention of a government document that is supposed to reference Terence as a way of pointing to the potential dangers of virtual reality. I would be GREATLY obliged to anyone who might be able to help me track down that document…

At the end of McKenna’s talk, Debbie Harlow rose with a concrete warning: she and Jaron [Lanier] had recently received a newsletter put out by the criminal justice department of the state of Hawaii that quoted McKenna and Mondo 2000 on virtual reality and alerted judges to the possible dangers of this new “drug.”

4. The April 1995 issue of Yoga Journal featured an interview with Ralph Abraham, which mentioned Terence in passing as a collaborator.

I also spent a few hours in the Image Resource Center on campus scanning photos from Chip Simons’ early 1990s shoot at the house in Occidental. I will be able to offer these very high-quality photos as part of the forthcoming crowdfunding campaign and am excited to eventually show them.

And, finally, once again, I will also include a final section with books that came in this week that don’t mention Terence (or weren’t represented in his library) but that nonetheless might be of interest: