November 16, 1946|
Paonia, Colorado, United States
|Died||April 3, 2000
San Rafael, California, United States
|Education||B.S. in ecology, resource conservation and shamanism|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
|Subjects||Shamanism, ethnobotany, metaphysics, psychedelic drugs, alchemy|
|Notable work(s)||The Archaic Revival, Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge - A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise, The Invisible Landscape|
|Children||Finn McKenna & Klea McKenna|
Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American philosopher, psychonaut, ethnobotanist, lecturer, and author. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology and the theoretical origins of human consciousness.
He was called the "Timothy Leary of the 90's", "one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism" and the "intellectual voice of Rave culture". He also formulated a concept about the nature of time based on fractal patterns he claimed to have discovered in the I Ching, which he called novelty theory, believing this predicted the end of time in the year 2012. His promotion of novelty theory and its connection to the Mayan calendar is credited as one of the factors leading to the widespread beliefs about 2012 eschatology. Novelty theory is considered pseudoscience.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Thought
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 Spoken word
- 6 Discography
- 7 Filmography
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Born and raised in Paonia, Colorado, Terence McKenna had Irish ancestry on his father's side and Welsh forebears on his mother's. Introduced to geology through his uncle, he developed a hobby of solitary fossil-hunting in the arroyos near his home. From this he developed a deep artistic and scientific appreciation of nature. He also became interested in human psychology at a young age, reading Carl Jung's book Psychology and Alchemy at the age of 10.
At age 16 McKenna moved to Los Altos, California to live with family friends for a year. He finished high school in Lancaster, CA. In 1963, McKenna was introduced to the literary world of psychedelics through The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley and certain issues of The Village Voice that talked about psychedelics.
McKenna said that one of his early psychedelic experiences with morning-glory seeds showed him "that there was something there worth pursuing", and in interviews McKenna claimed to have smoked cannabis daily since his teens.
Studying and traveling
In 1965, McKenna enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley to study art history. In 1967, while in college, he discovered and began studying shamanism through the study of Tibetan folk religion. That year, which he called his "opium and kabbala phase" he also traveled to Jerusalem, where he met Kathleen Harrison, who would later become his wife.
In 1969, McKenna traveled to Nepal led by his interest in Tibetan painting and hallucinogenic shamanism. He sought out shaman of the Bon tradition, which predated Tibetan Buddhism, trying to learn more about the shamanic use of visionary plants. During his time there, he also studied the Tibetan language and worked as a hashish smuggler, until "one of his Bombay-to-Aspen shipments fell into the hands of U. S. Customs." He then wandered through southeast Asia viewing ruins, spent time as a professional butterfly collector in Indonesia, and worked as an English teacher in Tokyo, before finally returning to Berkeley to continue studying biology, which he called "his first love".
After the partial completion of his studies, and his mother's death from cancer in 1971, McKenna, his brother Dennis, and three friends traveled to the Colombian Amazon in search of oo-koo-hé, a plant preparation containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Instead of oo-koo-hé they found various forms of ayahuasca, or yagé, and gigantic Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, which became the new focus of the expedition. In La Chorrera, at the urging of his brother, he was the subject of a psychedelic experiment which he claimed put him in contact with "Logos": an informative, divine voice he believed was universal to visionary religious experience. The voice's reputed revelations and his brother's simultaneous peculiar experience prompted him to explore the structure of an early form of the I Ching, which led to his "Novelty Theory". During their stay in the Amazon, McKenna also became romantically involved with his interpreter, Ev.
In 1972, McKenna returned to Berkeley to finish his studies. There he decided to switch majors to a Bachelor of Science in ecology and conservation, in a then new experimental section of the same university called the Tussman Experimental College. During his studies, he would also develop techniques for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms with Dennis.
In 1975, McKenna graduated from Berkeley with a degree in ecology, shamanism and conservation of natural resources. Earlier that same year, he parted with his girlfriend Ev, when she left him for one of his friends from Berkeley. Their parting left him "tormented with migraines and living alone." In the autumn of 1975, McKenna began a relationship with his future wife and mother of his two children Kathleen Harrison.
Soon after graduating, McKenna and Dennis published a book inspired by their Amazon experiences, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching. The brothers' experiences in the Amazon would later be the main focus of McKenna's book True Hallucinations, published in 1993. He also began lecturing locally around Berkeley and started appearing on some underground Radio stations.
In 1976, the brothers published what they had learned about the cultivation of mushrooms in a book entitled Psilocybin - Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide under the pseudonyms "OT Oss" and "ON Oeric". McKenna and his brother were the first to come up with a reliable method for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms at home. When the 1986 revised edition was published the Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide had sold over 100,000 copies.
Mid- to later life
In the early 1980s, McKenna began to speak publicly on the topic of psychedelic drugs, becoming one of the pioneers of the psychedelic movement in the west. His main focus was on the plant based psychedelics like; psilocybin mushrooms (which were the catalyst for his career), ayahuasca, cannabis and the plant derivative DMT. He conducted lecture tours and workshops promoting natural psychedelics as a way to explore universal mysteries, stimulate the imagination and re-establish a harmonious relationship with nature. Though associated with the New Age and human potential movements, McKenna himself had little patience for New Age sensibilities. He repeatedly stressed the importance and primacy of felt experience, as opposed to dogma.
In addition to psychedelic drugs, McKenna spoke on a wide array of subjects including; shamanism; metaphysics; alchemy; language; culture; self-empowerment; techno-paganism; artificial intelligence; evolution; extraterrestrials; science and scientism; the web; virtual reality (which he saw as a way to artistically communicate the experience of psychedelics); and aesthetic theory, specifically about art/visual experience as information representing the significance of hallucinatory visions experienced under the influence of psychedelics.
|“||It's clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. These are the two things that the psychedelics attack. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it's not easy.||”|
—Terence McKenna, "This World...and Its Double", 
McKenna soon became a fixture of popular counterculture with Timothy Leary once introducing him as "one of the five or six most important people on the planet" and with comedian Bill Hicks' referencing him in his stand-up act. He published several books in the early-to-mid-1990s including: The Archaic Revival; Food of the Gods; and True Hallucinations (relating the tale of his 1971 La Chorrera experience).
He also became a popular personality in the psychedelic rave/dance scene of the early 1990s, with frequent spoken word performances at raves and contributions to psychedelic and goa trance albums by The Shamen, Spacetime Continuum, Alien Project, Capsula, Entheogenic, Zuvuya, Shpongle, and Shakti Twins. His speeches were, and are, sampled by many. In 1994 he appeared as a speaker at the Starwood Festival, documented in the book Tripping by Charles Hayes. His lectures were produced on both cassette tape and CD.
McKenna was colleagues and close friends with chaos mathematician Ralph Abraham, and author and biologist Rupert Sheldrake. He conducted several public and many private debates with them from 1982 until his death. These debates were known as trialogues and some of the discussions were later published in the books: Trialogues at the Edge of the West and The Evolutionary Mind.
In 1985, McKenna founded Botanical Dimensions with his then-wife Kathleen Harrison. Botanical Dimensions is a nonprofit ethnobotanical preserve on the big island of Hawaii. It was set up to collect, protect, propagate and understand plants of ethno-medical significance and their lore and appreciate, study, and educate others about plants and mushrooms felt to be significant to cultural integrity and spiritual well-being. The 19 acre botanical garden is a repository containing thousands of plants, which have been used by indigenous people of the tropical regions and includes a database of information related to purported healing properties of plants. McKenna was involved until 1992 when he retired from the project, following Kathleen and his divorce earlier in the year. Kathleen still manages Botanical Dimensions as its president & projects director. After their divorce, McKenna moved to Hawaii permanently, where he built a modernist house and created a gene bank of rare plants near his home. Previously, he had split his time between Hawaii and Occidental, CA.
In mid-1999, after a long lecturing tour, McKenna returned to his home on the big island of Hawaii. A longtime sufferer of migraines, McKenna had begun to have increasingly painful headaches. His condition culminated in three brain seizures in one night, which he claimed were the most powerful psychedelic experiences he had ever known. McKenna was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. For the next several months he underwent various treatments, including experimental gamma knife radiation treatment. According to Wired magazine, McKenna was worried that his tumor was caused by his 35 years of smoking cannabis, although his doctors assured him there was no causal relation.
I always thought death would come on the freeway in a few horrifying moments, so you'd have no time to sort it out. Having months and months to look at it and think about it and talk to people and hear what they have to say, it's a kind of blessing. It's certainly an opportunity to grow up and get a grip and sort it all out. Just being told by an unsmiling guy in a white coat that you're going to be dead in four months definitely turns on the lights. ... It makes life rich and poignant. When it first happened, and I got these diagnoses, I could see the light of eternity, a la William Blake, shining through every leaf. I mean, a bug walking across the ground moved me to tears.
On February 7, 2007, McKenna's library of books and personal notes was destroyed in a fire that burned offices belonging to Big Sur's Esalen Institute, which was storing the collection. An index maintained by his brother Dennis survives, though little else.
Terence McKenna advocated the exploration of altered states of mind via the ingestion of naturally occurring psychedelic substances. For example, and in particular, as facilitated by the ingestion of high doses of psychedelic mushrooms, ayahuasca and DMT, which he believed was the apotheosis of the psychedelic experience. He spoke of meeting entities he described as "self-transforming machine elves" which one can encounter in those states. However he was less enthralled with the synthetic drugs stating that "I think drugs should come from the natural world and be use-tested by shmanically orientated cultures...one cannot predict the long term effects of a drug produced in a Laboratory." McKenna also always stressed the responsible use of psychedelic plants saying: "Experimenters should be very careful. One must build up to the experience. These are bizarre dimensions of extraordinary power and beauty. There is no set rule to avoid being overwhelmed, but move carefully, reflect a great deal, and always try to map experiences back onto the history of the race and the philosphical and religious accomplishments of the species. All the compounds are potentially dangerous, and all compounds, at sufficient doses or repeated over time, involve risks. The library is the first place to go when looking into taking a new compound." But he often spoke of taking, what he called, 'heroic doses,' which he defined as five dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms. Believing that it is only when you are slain with the power of the mushroom that the message becomes clear.
Although he avoided giving his allegiance to any one interpretation (part of his rejection of monotheism), he was open to the idea of psychedelics as being "trans-dimensional travel"; proposing that DMT sent one to a “parallel dimension” and psychedelics literally, enabled an individual to encounter 'higher dimensional entities' or what could be ancestors, or spirits of the Earth, saying that if you can trust your own perceptions it appears that you are entering an "ecology of souls." McKenna also put forward the idea that psychedelics were "doorways into the Gaian mind" suggesting that "the planet has a kind of intelligence, it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being" and that the psychedelic plants were the facilitators of this communication. In a more radical version of biophysicist Francis Crick's hypothesis of directed panspermia; another idea McKenna speculated on, was that, psilocybin mushrooms are a species of high intelligence, which may have arrived on this planet as spores migrating through space and are attempting to establish a symbiotic relationship with human beings. He postulated that "intelligence, not life, but intelligence may have come here [to Earth] in this spore-bearing life form" pointing out that "I think that theory will probably be vindicated. I think in a hundred years if people do biology they will think it quite silly that people once thought that spores could not be blown from one star system to another by cosmic radiation pressure" and believed that "Few people are in a position to judge its extraterrestrial potential, because few people in the orthodox sciences have ever experienced the full spectrum of psychedelic effects that are unleashed."
McKenna was opposed to Christianity and most forms of organized religion or guru-based forms of spiritual awakening, favouring shamanism, which he believed was the broadest spiritual paradigm available, stating that:
"What I think happened is that in the world of prehistory all religion was experiential, and it was based on the pursuit of ecstasy through plants. And at some time, very early, a group interposed itself between people and direct experience of the 'Other.' This created hierarchies, priesthoods, theological systems, castes, ritual, taboos. Shamanism, on the other hand, is an experiential science that deals with an area where we know nothing. It is important to remember that our epistemological tools have developed very unevenly in the West. We know a tremendous amount about what is going on in the heart of the atom, but we know absolutely nothing about the nature of the mind."
Either philosophically or religiously, he expressed admiration for: Marshall McLuhan, Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, Plato, Gnostic Christianity and Alchemy, while regarding the Greek philosopher Heraclitus as his favorite philosopher.
He also expressed admiration for the works of Aldous Huxley, James Joyce; calling Finnegans Wake "the quintessential work of art, or at least work of literature of the 20th century," the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick who he described as an "incredible genius," fabulist Jorge Luis Borges, with whom McKenna shared the belief that; "scattered through the ordinary world there are books and artifacts and perhaps people who are like doorways into impossible realms, of impossible and contradictory truth" and Vladimir Nabokov: McKenna once said that he would have become a Nabokov lecturer if he had never encountered psychedelics.
During the final years of his life and career, McKenna became very engaged in the theoretical realm of technology. In his last recorded public talk, Psychedelics in The Age of Intelligent Machines, he outlined ties between psychedelics, computation technology, and humans. He also became very enamored with the Internet saying it was "the birth of [the] global mind."
"Stoned ape" theory of human evolution
In his book Food of the Gods, McKenna proposed that the transformation from humans' early ancestors Homo erectus to the species Homo sapiens mainly had to do with the addition of the mushroom psilocybe cubensis in its diet, an event which according to his theory took place in about 100,000 BC (this is when he believed that the species diverged from the Homo genus). McKenna based his theory on the main effects, or alleged effects, produced by the mushroom while citing studies by Roland Fischer et al. from the late 1960s to early 1970s.
McKenna stated that due to the desertification of the African continent at that time, man's forerunners were forced from the increasingly shrinking tropical canopy in search of new food sources. He believed they would have been following the large herds of wild cattle whose dung harbored the insects that, he proposed, were undoubtedly part of their new diet and in turn would have spotted and started eating psilocybe cubensis, a dung loving mushrooms often found growing out of cowpat.
McKenna's hypothesis was that low doses of psilocybin improves visual acuity. Meaning that the presence of psilocybin in the diet of early pack hunting primates caused the individuals who were consuming psilocybin mushrooms to be better hunters than those who were not, resulting in an increased food supply and in turn a higher rate of reproductive success. Then at slightly higher doses, he contended, the mushroom acts to sexualy arouse. This leads to a higher level of attention, a certain level of energy in the organism and can lead to erection in the males, claiming this would make it even more evolutionarily beneficial as it would result in more offspring. At even higher doses, McKenna proposed that the mushroom would have acted to "dissolve boundaries," promoting community-bonding and group sexual activities. Consequently there would be a mixing of genes, greater genetic diversity and a communal sense of responsibility for the group offspring. At these higher doses McKenna also argued that psilocybin would be triggering activity in the "language forming region of the brain" which manifests as music and visions thus catalysing the emergence of language in early hominids by expanding “their arboreally evolved repertoire of troop signals." Also pointing out that it would dissolve the ego and “religious concerns would be at the forefront of the tribe's consciousness, simply because of the power and strangeness of the experience itself.”
Therefore according to McKenna, access to and ingestion of mushrooms was an evolutionary advantage to humans' omnivorous hunter-gatherer ancestors, also providing the first religious impulse in man. He belived psilocybin mushrooms were the "evolutionary catalyst" from which language, projective imagination, the arts, religion, philosophy, science and all of human culture sprang.
Later on this idea was given the name "The 'Stoned Ape' Hypothesis."
McKenna's "stoned ape" theory has not received attention from the scientific community and has been criticized on several fronts. His ideas regarding psilocybin and visual acuity have been criticized for lacking evidence and for misrepresenting Fischer et al., who studied medium doses (not low doses) of psilocybin and found that perception (not visual acuity) was changed. Fischer et al. further state that psilocybin "may not be conducive to the survival of the organism". There is also a lack of evidence that psilocybin increases sexual arousal, and even if this were true, it does not necessarily entail an evolutionary advantage. It may even be a disadvantage in the context of the presumed higher sexual competition in Homo Erectus as indicated by its higher sexual dimorphism relative to Homo sapiens. Others have pointed to civilisations, like the Aztecs, who used psychedelic mushrooms (at least among the Priestly class) and they didn't reflect McKenna's model of how psychedelic using cultures would behave, for example, by carrying out horrendous acts of aggression such as human sacrifice. Although, it has been noted that, the the usage by the Azec civilisation is far removed from the type of usage McKenna was speculating on. There are also examples of Amazonian tribes such as; the Jivaro and the Yanomami who use ayahuasca ceremoniously and who are known for their violence. This, it has been argued, suggests the use of psychedelic plants does not necessarily suppress the ego and create harmonious societies.
The archaic revival
His notion was that western society has become "sick" and is undergoing a "healing process", in the same way that the human body begins to produce antibodies when it feels itself to be sick, humanity as a collective whole (in the Jungian, sense) was creating “strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease” and trying to cure itself, by what he termed as "a reversion to archaic values.” McKenna pointed to phenomena including: surrealism, abstract expressionism, body piercing and tattooing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, rock-n-roll and catastrophe theory, amongst others, as his evidence that this process was underway.
In differentiating his idea from the "New Age", a term which he felt trivialized the significance of the next phase in human evolution, McKenna stated that: "The New Age is essentially humanistic psychology '80s-style, with the addition of neo-shamanism, channeling, crystal and herbal healing. The archaic revival is a much larger, more global phenomenon that assumes that we are recovering the social forms of the late neolithic, and reaches far back in the 20th century to Freud, to surrealism, to abstract expressionism, even to a phenomenon like National Socialism which is a negative force. But the stress on ritual, on organized activity, on race/ancestor-consciousness - these are themes that have been worked out throughout the entire 20th century, and the archaic revival is an expression of that."
Novelty theory and Timewave Zero
Novelty theory is a pseudoscientific idea that purports to predict the ebb and flow of novelty in the universe as an inherent quality of time. Proposing that the universe is an engine designed for the production and conservation of novelty. Novelty, in this context, can be thought of as newness, density of connection or increased interconnectivity.
The basis of the theory was originally conceived in the mid-1970s after McKenna's experiences with psilocybin mushrooms at La Chorrera in the Amazon led him to closely study the King Wen sequence of the I Ching.
In Asian Taoism philosophy the concept of opposing phenomena is represented by the Yin and Yang. Both are always present in everything, yet the amount of influence of each varies over time. The individual lines of the I Ching are made up of both Yin (broken lines) and Yang (solid lines).
When examining the King Wen sequence of the 64 hexagrams, McKenna saw a pattern. The first hexagram contains six solid lines. Hexagram number two has six broken lines. Hexagrams 3 and 4 appear to be similar pairs that have been rotated 180 degrees. The same is true for most of the other hexagrams – they are pairs in which the second hexagram has been rotated 180 degrees. McKenna wrote that sometimes, when a hexagram was supposed to be rotated, the rotation would not change the configuration. This is the case with eight hexagrams; 1, 2, 27, 28, 29, 30, 61 and 62. When this happens there is a different rule that applies, the following hexagram is exactly opposite (the yins become yangs and vice versa.) McKenna then focused his attention on the number of lines that changed in each subsequent hexagram, moving from the first to the sixty-fourth. From hexagram 1 to 2 there were six changed lines, from hexagram 2 to 3 there were two, then four, and four again.
When he plotted these changes on a graph, he saw the extreme left and right of the graph contained a saw-tooth pattern. He copied the graph, rotated it 180 degrees and superimposed it on the original graph so it meshed. To incorporate the six lines, McKenna repeated this new graph six times and superimposed it on the single plot. To incorporate the phenomenon of "pairs" of hexagrams, he repeated the pattern two times and superimposed it on the other two graphs. Eventually he arrived at a complex shape containing all three graphs. McKenna believed that his final graph contained the "fingerprint" of change contained in time with the peaks in the graph representing habit or stability, and the valleys representing novelty.
During 1986-1999 Peter Meyer, in collaboration with McKenna, studied and improved the foundations of the theory and developed the Timewave Zero software to illustrate and explore this theory. On the computer they combined the peaks and valleys and arrived at an average graph which McKenna stated represented the change of the 64 hexagrams and, McKenna believed, revealed the secret encoded in their original design. The graph was fractal. The entire graph, representing the beginning and end of time, was duplicated in smaller spans of time. As the Timewave pattern moves through time, the fractals become smaller and smaller. A pattern which took eons of time to complete next time takes only thousands of years, then hundreds of years, then days, then minutes, then seconds et cetera. So as the graph approaches the zero point on the grand Timewave, waves of novelty and habit change more rapidly. According to novelty theory , the pattern of time itself is speeding up. The Timewave plots the move from one direction to the other. According to McKenna, moving up indicates a gradual increase in stability and organization while a downward curve shows that some new factors are influencing change.
When McKenna had finally arrived at the ultimate shape of his graph, he then superimposed it over historical events. He placed the beginning of the wave at the theoretical beginning of the universe, more than 15 billion years ago. Here, the Timewave graph began at zero and spiked up to reach a high degree of organization. As he plotted the wave he realized that it eventually reached zero at the end. Further more, according to this positioning of the Timewave, the end was in the year 2012.
The last harmonic of the wave has a duration of 67.29 years, marked again by some dramatic event at the onset of the pattern. At first McKenna placed this event with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This worked out to the graph reaching zero in mid-November 2012. When he later discovered that the end of the 13th baktun in the Mayan Calendar had been correlated by Western Maya scholars as December 21, 2012,[Note a] he adopted their end date instead.[Note b]
McKenna saw the universe, in relation to Novelty theory, as having a teleological attractor at the end of time, which increases interconnectedness and would eventually reach a singularity of infinite complexity. He also frequently referred to this as "the transcendental object at the end of time." When describing this model of the universe he stated that: "The universe is not being pushed from behind. The universe is being pulled from the future toward a goal that is as inevitable as a marble reaching the bottom of a bowl when you release it up near the rim. If you do that, you know the marble will roll down the side of the bowl, down, down, down - until eventually it comes to rest at the lowest energy state, which is the bottom of the bowl. That's precisely my model of human history. I'm suggesting that the universe is pulled toward a complex attractor that exists ahead of us in time, and that our ever-accelerating speed through the phenomenal world of connectivity and novelty is based on the fact that we are now very, very close to the attractor." Therefore according to McKenna's final interpretation of the data and positioning of the graph, on December 21, 2012 we would have been in the unique position in time where maximum novelty should have been experienced (i.e. everything possible happening simultaneously.) An event he described as a "concrescence", a "tightening 'gyre'" with everything flowing together. Speculating that "when the laws of physics are obviated, the universe disappears, and what is left is the tightly bound plenum, the monad, able to express itself for itself, rather than only able to cast a shadow into physis as its reflection...It will be the entry of our species into 'hyperspace', but it will appear to be the end of physical laws, accompanied by the release of the mind into the imagination."
Novelty theory is considered to be pseudoscience. Among the criticisms are the use of numerology to derive dates of important events in world history, and the apparent adjustment of the eschaton from November 2012 to December 2012 in order to coincide with the Mayan calandar. Other purported dates do not fit the actual time frames: the date claimed for the emergence of Homo sapiens is inaccurate by 70,000 years, and the existence of the ancient Sumer and Egyptian civilisations contradict the date claimed for the beginning of "historical time". Some projected dates have been criticised for having seemingly arbitrary labels, such as the "height of the age of mammals".
One expert on drug treatment attacked McKenna for popularizing "dangerous substances". "Surely the fact that Terence McKenna says that the psilocybin mushroom 'is the megaphone used by an alien, intergalactic Other to communicate with mankind' is enough for us to wonder if taking LSD has done something to his mental faculties," Judy Corman, vice president of Phoenix House of New York, a drug treatment center, said in a letter to The New York Times in 1993.
Others had trouble with his self-consciously cosmic literary style. "I suffered hallucinatory agonies of my own while reading his shrilly ecstatic prose," Peter Conrad wrote in The New York Times in a 1993 review of Mr. McKenna's book True Hallucinations.
But some praised his "scholarly" approach. Biologist Richard Evans Schultes, of Harvard University, wrote in American Scientist in a 1993 review of McKenna's book Food of the Gods, that it was; "a masterpiece of research and writing" and that it "should be read by every specialist working in the multifarious fields involved with the use of psychoactive drugs." Concluding that "It is, without question, destined to play a major role in our future considerations of the role of the ancient use of psychoactive drugs, the historical shaping of our modern concerns about drugs and perhaps about man's desire for escape from reality with drugs."
With John Horgan in a 2012 blog post for Scientific American also commenting that, Food of the Gods was "a rigorous argument...that mind-expanding plants and fungi catalyzed the transformation of our brutish ancestors into cultured modern humans."
His outpouring of unique thoughts was a marvel to many. "To write him off as a crazy hippie is a rather lazy approach to a man not only full of fascinating ideas but also blessed with a sense of humor and self-parody," Tom Hodgkinson wrote in The New Statesman and Society in 1994.
And some found his writing captivating. With Mark Jacobson saying, of True Hallucinations, in a 1992 issue of Esquire Magazine that; "it would be hard to find a drug narrative more compellingly perched on a baroquely romantic limb than this passionate Tom-and-Huck-ride-great-mother-river-saga of brotherly bonding," adding "put simply Terence is a hoot!"
Wired called him a "charismatic talking head" who was "brainy, eloquent, and hilarious" and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead also said that he was "the only person who has made a serious effort to objectify the psychedelic experience."
- McKenna, Dennis; — (1975). The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. New York: Seabury. ISBN 9780816492497.
- McKenna, Dennis; —; under the pseudonyms OT Oss and ON Oeric (1976). Psilocybin - Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide. Berkley, CA: And/Or Press. ISBN 9780915904136.
- The Archaic Revival. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco. 1992. ISBN 9780062506139.
- Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge - A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution. New York: Bantam. 1992. ISBN 9780553078688.
- Synesthesia. Illustrated by Ely, Timothy C. New York: Granary Books. 1992. ISBN 9781887123044. OCLC 30473682.
- Abraham, Ralph H.; —; Sheldrake, Rupert (1992). Trialogues at the Edge of the West: Chaos, Creativity, and the Resacralization of the World. Forward by Houston, Jean. Bear & Company. ISBN 9780939680979.
- True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco. 1993. ISBN 9780062505453.
- Abraham, Ralph H.; —; Sheldrake, Rupert (1998). The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination & Spirit. Monkfish Book Publishing. ISBN 0974935972.
- History Ends In Green: Gaia, Psychedelics and the Archaic Revival, 6 audiocassette set, Mystic Fire audio, 1993, ISBN 1-56176-907-X (recorded at the Esalen Institute, 1989)
- TechnoPagans at the End of History (transcription of rap with Mark Pesce from 1998)
- Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1999) video
- Conversations on the Edge of Magic (1994) (CD & Cassette) ACE
- Rap-Dancing Into the Third Millennium (1994) (Cassette) (Re-issued on CD as The Quintessential Hallucinogen) ACE
- Packing For the Long Strange Trip (1994) (Audio Cassette) ACE
- Global Perspectives and Psychedelic Poetics (1994) (Cassette) Sound Horizons Audio-Video, Inc.
- The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge (1992) (Cassette) Sounds True
- The Psychedelic Society (DVD & Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- True Hallucinations Workshop (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Vertigo at History's Edge: Who Are We? Where Have We Come From? Where Are We Going? (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Ethnobotany and Shamanism (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Shamanism, Symbiosis and Psychedelics Workshop (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Shamanology (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Shamanology of the Amazon (w/ Nicole Maxwell) (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Beyond Psychology (1983) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Understanding & the Imagination in the Light of Nature Parts 1 & 2 (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Ethnobotany (a complete course given at The California Institute of Integral Studies) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Non-ordinary States of Reality Through Vision Plants (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Mind & Time, Spirit & Matter: The Complete Weekend in Santa Fe (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Forms and Mysteries: Morphogenetic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences (w/ Rupert Sheldrake) (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- UFO: The Inside Outsider (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- A Calendar for The Goddess (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- A Magical Journey: Including Hallucinogens and Culture, Time and The I Ching, and The Human Future (Video Cassette) TAP/Sound Photosynthesis
- Aliens and Archetypes (Video Cassette) TAP/Sound Photosynthesis
- Angels, Aliens and Archetypes 1987 Symposium: Shamanic Approaches to the UFO, and Fairmont Banquet Talk (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Botanical Dimensions (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Conference on Botanical Intelligence (w/ Joan Halifax, Andy Weil, & Dennis McKenna) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Coping With Gaia's Midwife Crisis (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Dreaming Awake at the End of Time (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Evolving Times (DVD, CD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Food of the Gods (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Food of the Gods 2: Drugs, Plants and Destiny (Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Hallucinogens in Shamanism & Anthropology at Bridge Psychedelic Conf.1991 (w/ Ralph Metzner, Marlene Dobkin De Rios, Allison Kennedy & Thomas Pinkson) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Finale - Bridge Psychedelic Conf.1991 (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Man and Woman at the End of History (w/ Riane Eisler) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Plants, Consciousness, and Transformation (1995) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Metamorphosis (w/ Rupert Sheldrake & Ralph Abraham) (1995) (Video Cassette) Mystic Fire/Sound Photosynthesis
- Nature is the Center of the Mandala (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Opening the Doors of Creativity (1990) (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Places I Have Been (CD & Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Plants, Visions and History Lecture (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Psychedelics Before and After History (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Sacred Plants As Guides: New Dimensions of the Soul (at the Jung Society Clairemont, California) (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Seeking the Stone (Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Shamanism: Before and Beyond History - A Weekend at Ojai (w/ Ralph Metzner) (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Shedding the Monkey (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- State of the Stone '95 (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Ethnobotany of Shamanism Introductory Lecture: The Philosophical Implications of Psychobotony: Past, Present and Future (at CIIS) (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Ethnobotany of Shamanism Workshop: Psychedelics Before and After History (at CIIS) (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Grammar of Ecstasy - the World Within the Word (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Light at the End of History (Audio/Video Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The State of the Stone Address: Having Archaic and Eating it Too (Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- The Taxonomy of Illusion (at UC Santa Cruz) (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- This World ...and Its Double (DVD & Video/Audio Cassette) Sound Photosynthesis
- Trialogues at the Edge of the Millennium (w/ Rupert Sheldrake & Ralph Abraham) (at UC Santa Cruz) (1998) (Video Cassette) Trialogue Press
- Re : Evolution with The Shamen (1992)
- Dream Matrix Telemetry with Zuvuya (1993)
- Alien Dreamtime with Spacetime Continuum & Stephen Kent (2003)
- Prague Gnosis: Terence McKenna Dialogues (1992)
- The Hemp Revolution (1995)
- Terence McKenna: The Last Word (1999)
- Shamans of the Amazon (2001)
- Alien Dreamtime (2003)
- The Alchemical Dream: Rebirth Of The Great Work (2008)
- Cognition Factor (2009)
- DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2010)
- 2012: Time for Change (2010)
- The Terence McKenna OmniBus 2012 (2012)
- a Most Mayanist scholars, such as Mark Van Stone and Anthony Aveni, adhere to the "GMT (Goodman-Martinez-Thompson) correlation" with the Long Count, which places the start date at 11 August 3114 BC and the end date of b'ak'tun 13 at 21 December 2012. This date was also the overwhelming preference of those who believed in 2012 eschatology, arguably, Van Stone suggests, because it was a solstice, and was thus astrologically significant. Some Mayanist scholars, such as Michael D. Coe, Linda Schele and Marc Zender, adhere to the "Lounsbury/GMT+2" correlation, which sets the start date at 13 August and the end date at 23 December. Which of these is the precise correlation has yet to be conclusively settled. Coe's initial date was "24 December 2011." He revised it to "11 January AD 2013" in the 1980 2nd edition of his book, not settling on 23 December 2012 until the 1984 3rd edition. The correlation of b'ak'tun 13 as 21 December 2012 first appeared in Table B.2 of Robert J. Sharer's 1983 revision of the 4th edition of Sylvanus Morley's book The Ancient Maya.
- b The 1975 first edition of McKenna's The Invisible Landscape refers to 2012 (but no specific day during the year) only twice. In the 1993 second edition, McKenna employed the 21st of December 2012 throughout, the date arrived at by the Mayanist researcher Robert J. Sharer.
- Znamenski, Andrei A. (2007). The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. Oxford University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780198038498.
- Horgan, John (2004). Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 177. ISBN 9780547347806.
- Brown, David Jay; Novick, Rebecca McClen, eds. (1993). "Mushrooms, Elves And Magic". Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press. pp. 9–24. ISBN 9780895946010.
- Partridge, Christopher (2006). "Ch. 3: Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Contemporary Sacralization of Psychedelics". Reenchantment of West. Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture 2. Continuum. p. 113. ISBN 9780567552716.
- Jacobson, Mark (June 1992). "Terence Mckenna the brave prophet of The next psychedelic revolution, or is his cosmic egg just a little bit cracked?". Esquire. pp. 107–38. ESQ199206.
- Krupp, E.C. (November 2009). "The great 2012 scare". Sky & Telescope. pp. 22–6 (25).
- Bruce, Alexandra (2009). 2012: Science Or Superstition (The Definitive Guide to the Doomsday Phenomenon). Disinformation Movie & Book Guides. Red Wheel Weiser. p. 261. ISBN 9781934708514.
- Normark, Johan (2009-06-16). "2012: Prophet of nonsense #8: Terence McKenna – Novelty theory and timewave zero". Archaeological Haecceities (blog).
- Pinchbeck, Daniel (2003). Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism. Broadway Books. pp. 231–8. ISBN 0767907434.
- Kent, James (2003-12-02). "Terence McKenna Interview, Part 1.". Tripzine.com. Retrieved 2011-06-29.[unreliable source?]
- Gehr, Richard (1992-04-05). "Omega man: A profile of Terence McKenna". The Village Voice.[copyright violation?][reprint verification needed]
- McKenna, Terence (Unknown (c. 1985)). Under The Teaching Tree (Speech). Ojai Foundation, Upper Ojai, California. [verification needed]
- Martin, Douglas (2013-09-10). "Terence McKenna, 53, dies; Patron of psychedelic drugs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- Brown, David Jay; McClen, Rebecca (April 1992). "The High Times Interview Terence McKenna". High Times.[copyright violation?][reprint verification needed]
- McKenna 1992a, pp. 204-17.
- McKenna 1993, p. 215.
- McKenna 1993, pp. 55-58.
- McKenna 1993, pp. 22-3.
- "Terence McKenna; Promoter of psychedelic drug use". Los Angeles Times. 2000-04-07. p. B6.
- "Terence McKenna". Omni 15 (7). 1993. pp. 69–70.
- McKenna 1993,[page needed].
- McKenna 1993, pp. 1-13.
- McKenna 1993, p. 23.
- McKenna 1993,[page needed].
- McKenna 1993,[page needed].
- Horgan, John. "Was psychedelic guru Terence McKenna goofing about 2012 prophecy?" (blog). Scientific American. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
- McKenna 1993,[page needed].
- McKenna 1993, p. 3.
- McKenna 1993, pp. 205-7.
- Hancock, Graham (2006) . Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind. London: Arrow. pp. 556–7. ISBN 9780099474159.
- McKenna & McKenna 1976, Preface (revised ed.).
- Wojtowicz, Slawek (2008). "Ch. 6: Magic Mushrooms". In Strassman, Rick; Wojtowicz, Slawek; Luna, Luis Eduardo et al. Inner Paths To Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. p. 149. ISBN 9781594772245.
- Toop, David (1993-02-18). "Sounds like a radical vision; The Shamen and Terence McKenna". Rock Music. The Times.
- Sharkey, Alix (2000-04-15). "Terence McKenna". The Independent (Obituary). p. 7.
- Dery, Mark (2001) . "Terence McKenna: The inner elf". 21•C Magazine. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- McKenna, Terence. "The Invisible Landscape". futurehi.net (lecture). Future Hi. Archived from the original on 2005-10-16.[verification needed][copyright violation?]
- McKenna, Terence (1993-09-11). This World...and Its Double. Mill Valley, California: Sound Photosynthesis.[verification needed]
- Leary, Timothy (c. 1992). "Unfolding the Stone 1" (MP3). In Damer, Bruce. Psychedelia: Raw Archives of Terence McKenna Talks (Introduction to lecture by Terence McKenna). Event occurs at 2:08.
- Hicks, Bill (1997) [November 1992 - December 1993]. "Pt. 1: Ch. 2: Gifts of Forgiveness". Rant in E-Minor (CD and MP3 ). Rykodisc. Event occurs at 0:58. Track 8. OCLC 38306915.
- Gyrus (2009). "Appendix II: The Stoned Ape Hypothesis". War and the Noble Savage: A Critical Inquiry Into Recent Accounts of Violence Amongst Uncivilized Peoples. London: Dreamflesh. pp. 63–6. ISBN 0955419611.
- Hayes, Charles (2000). Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. Penguin. ISBN 9781101157190.[page needed]
- Abraham, McKenna & Sheldrake 1998, Preface.
- Abraham, McKenna & Sheldrake 1992, p. 11.
- Rice, Paddy Rose (ed.). "The Sheldrake - McKenna - Abraham Trialogues". sheldrake.org.[unreliable source?]
- "Botanical Dimensions People". botanicaldimensions.org.
- "Botanical Dimensions Plants and People". botanicaldimensions.org.
- Nollman, Jim (1994). Why We Garden: Cultivating a Sense of Place. Henry Holt & Co. p. 181. ISBN 9780805027198.
- Davis, Erik (May 2000). "Terence McKenna's last trip". Wired (8.05). Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- Davis, Erik (2005-01-13). "Terence McKenna Vs. the Black Hole". techgnosis.com (Excerpts from the CD, Terence McKenna: The Last Interview). Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- Frauenfelder, Mark (2007-02-22). "Terence McKenna's library destroyed in fire". Boing Boing (group blog). Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- Stamets, Paul (1996). "5. Good Tips For Great Trips". Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780898158397.
- Rick Strassman, M.D. (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences. Inner Traditions Bear and Company; Later Printing edition. p. 187. ISBN 0892819278.
- Pinchbeck 2003, p. 213.
- McKenna 1992a, p. 43.
- Pinchbeck 2003, p. 193.
- Pinchbeck 2003, p. 247.
- Trip, Gabriel (1993-05-02). "Tripping, but not falling". New York Times. p. A6.
- Shamen (1992). "Track 10: RE: Evolution". Boss Drum (CD and MP3 ). Epic. Event occurs at 4:50. OCLC 27056837.
- McKenna, Terence. "The Gaian mind". deoxy.org (cut-up from the works of Terence McKenna).
- Pinchbeck 2003, p. 234.
- Rabey, Steve (1994-08-13). "Instant karma: Psychedelic drug use on the rise as a quick route to spirituality". Colorado Springs Gazette - Telegraph. p. E1.
- Drury, Neville (1990). "Prejudice Against Psychedelics". salvia-divinorum-scotland.co.uk (Extract from a Terence McKenna interview in Nature and Health magazine).[copyright violation?]
- McKenna, Terence (c. 1992). "Unfolding the Stone 1" (MP3). In Damer, Bruce. Psychedelia: Raw Archives of Terence McKenna Talks (lecture). Event occurs at 17:30.
- McKenna, Terence (1990's). "SurfingFinnegansWake" (MP3). In Damer, Bruce. Psychedelia: Raw Archives of Terence McKenna Talks (lecture). Event occurs at 0:45.
- McKenna, Terence (1991). "Afterword: I Understand Philip K. Dick". In Sutin, Lawrence. In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis. Underwood-Miller. ISBN 9780887330919. "Convenience copy". sirbacon.org.[verification needed][copyright violation?]
- McKenna, Terence. "Psychedelics in The Age of Intelligent Machines" (You Tube video).
- McKenna 1992b, pp. 56-60.
- McKenna 1992b, p. 54.
- Fischer, Roland; Hill, Richard; Thatcher, Karen; Scheib, James (1970). "Psilocybin-Induced contraction of nearby visual space". Agents and Actions 1 (4): 190–7. doi:10.1007/BF01965761. PMID 5520365.
- McKenna 1992b, p. 57.
- McKenna 1992b, p. 59.
- Znamenski 2007, pp. 138-9.
- Pinchbeck 2003, p. 194.
- Woolfe, Sam (2013-05-28). "A Critique of Terence McKenna's 'Stoned Ape Theory'" (blog).
- Hayes, Charles (2000). "Introduction: The Psychedelic [in] Society: A Brief Cultural History of Tripping". Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. Penguin. p. 14. ISBN 9781101157190.
- McKenna, Terence. "The Importance of Human Beings (a.k.a Eros And The Eschaton)". matrixmasters.net.
- Spacetime Continuum; McKenna, Terence; Kent, Stephen (2003) . "Archaic Revival" (DVD, CD and MP3). Alien Dreamtime. Visuals by Rose-X Media House. Magic Carpet Media: Astralwerks. Event occurs at 3:08. Track 1. OCLC 80061092. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Eden, Dan. "Terence McKenna's Time Wave Theory". Viewzone.[unreliable source?]
- Jenkins, John Major (2009). "Early 2012 Books McKenna and Waters". The 2012 Story: The Myths, Fallacies, and Truth Behind the Most Intriguing Date in History. Penguin. ISBN 9781101148822.
- Meyer, Peter. "Terence McKenna's Timewave Zero Theory".[self-published source]
- Abraham, Ralph; McKenna, Terence (June 1983). "Dynamics of Hyperspace". ralph-abraham.org. Santa Cruz, CA. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
- Defesche, Sacha (2008-06-17) [January–August 2007]. "'The 2012 Phenomenon': A historical and typological approach to a modern apocalyptic mythology" (MA Thesis, Mysticism and Western Esotericism, University of Amsterdam). Skepsis. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- McKenna, Terence. "Timewave Zero and Language". The Sputnik Drug Information Zone. firstname.lastname@example.org.[reprint verification needed][copyright violation?]
- McKenna, Terence. "Approaching Timewave Zero". Magical Blend (44). Retrieved 1994.[reprint verification needed][copyright violation?]
- McKenna 1992a,[page needed].
- Schultes, Richard Evans (1993). "Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge by Terence McKenna". Life Sciences. American Scientist (Book review) 81 (5). pp. 489–90. JSTOR 29775027.
- Matthews, Peter (2005). "Who's Who in the Classic Maya World". Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Van Stone, Mark. "Questions and comments". famsi.org. Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
- Coe, Michael D. (1980). The Maya. Ancient Peoples and Places 10 (2nd ed.). London: Thames and Hudson. p. 151.
- Coe, Michael D. (1984). The Maya. Ancient Peoples and Places (3rd ed.). London: Thames and Hudson.
- Morley, Sylvanus (1983). The Ancient Maya (4th ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. p. 603, Table B2.
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