“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment, and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream, and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
– Terence McKenna
Terence McKenna has arguably had a greater influence on the world of psychedelics than any other single person. He is even more renowned today than he was at the height of his career because he gained a second life through the internet. According to Hamilton Morris, “he is able to articulate all of the ill-formed, half-baked ideas that you may or may not have had that feels so beautiful and compelling that there is a reason he is so beloved by all.” He also believes that the problem with McKenna is that people take his theories too literally. Hamilton argues that it is poetry and not meant to be taken as anything else. “These are ideas that are intended to make people think about the world.”
“Terence Kemp McKenna was an author, lecturer, philosopher and shamanic explorer of the realm of psychedelic states. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He has been described by some as being “so far out, nobody knows what he’s talking about”, and by others as “the most innovative thinker of our times”.” (taken from here)
McKenna, born in 1946 in Paonia, Colorado, captured the attention of the post-1960s counterculture and is most known for being an activist for using psychedelics to better society. The first time mushrooms made themselves known to him was through R. Gordon Wasson’s Time Magazine article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” when he was a young boy, but it was not until much later that he tried them.
“My interest in drugs, magic, and the more obscure backwaters of natural history and theology gave me the interest profile of an eccentric Florentine prince rather than a kid growing up in the heartland of the United States in the late 50s. Dennis had shared all of these concerns, to the despair of our conventional and hardworking parents.” – Terence McKenna
After completing his undergraduate at the Tussman Experimental College at the University of California, Berkeley, “Terence lived and traveled in South Asia for around a year, studying the Tibetan language and smuggling hashish. Late in August of 1969 one of his Bombay-to-Aspen shipments was intercepted by US Customs. Terence’s reaction, from True Hallucinations: “I went underground and wandered throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia, viewing ruins in the former and collecting butterflies in the latter.” (text from here)
Terence was very known for his travels, which included Tokyo, British Colombia, San Francisco, and the jungles of the Amazon (to name a few destinations).
In 1976, five years after “the experiment at La Chorrera,” an intriguing book, Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide by O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric, appeared. The McKenna brothers, under pen names, wrote the book. In less than 100 pages, it provided “precise, no-fail instructions for growing and preserving” Stropharia cubensis, “the starborn magic mushroom.” (text from here)
By the mid-1970s, he married Kathleen Harrison, with whom he had two children. They were married for 17 years before divorcing and founded a nonprofit ethnobotanical preserve in Hawaii called “Botanical Dimensions.”
Terence McKenna has been arguably the person to raise the most awareness about psychedelics, and more specifically, DMT. As a matter of fact, McKenna was one of the ardent supporters of introducing DMT into society. Along with psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca, McKenna believed that DMT was the ultimate deification of existence.
Due to a rare brain cancer and a resulting brain seizure, Terence died on April 6, 2000, at age 53.
Watch Terence’s True Hallucinations to learn more about Terence and his brother, Dennis. This film is about their chaotic experiment at La Chorrera in the Colombian Amazon: