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The Terence McKenna Wiki
words and wit of the alchemical bard
Pages and Files
An Interview By James Kent
Before and Beyond History
Gaia, Eros, and the Archaic Revival
Gaia, Psychedelics, and the Archaic Revival
Having Archaic and Eating it Too
Leprechauns, Elves, or Dead Souls?
Making and Unmaking History and Language
Morphogenic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences
Mushrooms, Sex and Society
Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines
Terence McKenna's Trip
The grammar of ecstasy — The world within the word.
(aka This Counts, Somehow it Matters & A Higher Dimensional Section of Reality)
A Better World (Toward The End Of History)
A Conversation with Terence McKenna and Ram Dass
A Necessary Chaos
A report on crop circles with Abraham and Sheldrake
Add "All Pages"
aka Suggested Reading List
aka Suggested Reading List
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
Audio Link (Psychedelic Salon)
At each of these weekends we usually update people on, uh, books on the subject that are available. One of the things that people don’t do enough of when they do psychedelic work is, uh, spend time in the library. I mean, there’s a great deal of published literature on these things - historical, chemical, so forth and so on. And uh, it’s good to be informed. I know that I often- I use reference books; I use Schultes’
The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens
for those aspects. Peter Stafford’s, uh,
is good for a kind of social history overview. Um, Marlene De Rios has a book called
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Hallucinogens
. Probably one of the books that I recommend most to people is Michael Harner’s anthology
Shamanism and Hallucinogens
, where he gathered a bunch of very good articles together there. Hoffer and Osmond’s old classic
even though it was last updated in '68 still, on the major hallucinogens, is the best source. And in addition to those, which I just mentioned but don’t have here to show you, I want to show you some of the newer or more interesting stuff in the field.
This is a book that has not been widely distributed at all. This fellow might be a candidate for teaching at Esalen, I don’t know. Uh, it’s
The Science and Romance of Selected Herbs Used in Medicine and Religious Ceremony
by Anthony Andoh. And Andoh has, uh, his own institute in San Francisco; he runs a nursery on Taraval. He's, uh, judging by this book, an extremely knowledgeable person with a worldwide education in herbs and a special stress on, uh, on folk usage. So there are for instance, here’s, uh, a piece- an Egyptian illustration of Sennefer, the royal garden- gardener and his sister Merit. There’s a lot of plant lore in here that you just don’t get anywhere else and, uh, another book like that is William Emboden’s book
. Terrible title but a tremendous amount of information that doesn’t seem to appear anywhere else. Uh, Macmillan is the publisher. So he’s a Bay Area resource that we certainly were not aware of until very recently and maybe some of the rest of you were not aware of him either. This is some- this guy should- he's one of us. He should be part of the party.
Then in terms of publications, the publications on psychedelics that you may be familiar with, such as High Times and High Frontiers are sort of addressing this, uh, trying to restart the youth rebellion or, uh. Anyway, it’s not a full spectrum or deep look at psychedelics. This magazine, which was previously called
and has been renamed
Psychedelic Monographs and Essays
. [chuckles] Are you a psychedelic monograph, Eric? Oh you’re an essay?
It’s published out of Florida and, uh, it’s very, very lively. It has a huge letter section. Everybody you know seems to write one letter per issue in and, uh, for instance, this issue has articles on psychedelics, a woman’s rite of passage, Earmarks of Psychedelic Spiritual Experiences, also by a woman. Psychedelics and lucid dreaming, door ways in the mind, also by a woman, and Tom Riedlinger who some of you may know from Chicago, an article by him on psychedelic schooling. Uh, this is simply printed but it’s from the heart, it’s scholarly it's uh, the tone I think is very good. I would actually urge you to support these people by subscribing. We have nothing personally to do with it; it’s just that they’re, uh, on a good trip. I’ll hand this around and you can get addresses off of them if you want.
This is Rupert’s new book. Rupert is, uh Rupert Sheldrake. It’s just begun to be distributed. He is going to make a revolution in thinking about, uh, resonance and form and it has an aspect in it that is very kind to our concern. The psychedelics are much more centrally important to understanding in a morphic resonance theory of nature. So, uh Rupert is just a brilliant writer, even more brilliant than he is a talker and, uh, this is a delicious book to just read ten or fifteen pages at night, uh, before you go to bed.
This is a reference, uh- I'll send this one this way- this is a reference book that in terms of getting a lot of information between the covers of one book with a massive amount of color, uh, illustration - uh, this is Richard Evan Schultes, the leading light of Ethnobotany. He spent over fifteen years in the Amazon and, uh, has, uh lead hundreds of graduate students into careers in Ethnobotany and really, uh has put the field on the map and his co-author is Albert Hoffman who invented LSD. In terms of one book about psychoactive plants that is in print and readily available, I would go with this one I think.
[Audience] – Alfred Van Der Mark?
Van Der Mark, I guess, did this edition. It was originally done by Macmillan. This is Riane Eisler’s book,
The Chalice and the Blade
. It may not immediately appear to have anything to do with psychedelics but it has to do with, um, re-visioning society by looking at ancient models of how men and women, uh arranged social structure in the past. And like Rupert, this is a book with a secret agenda. This book, uh, is a tracking horse for a new respectability for psychedelics because when you begin asking the question, why was there a partnership society for so long and why did it give way to a dominator culture, the answer lies, I think, in changing patterns of plant utilization and a changing relationship to the psychedelic experience. This is a wonderful book; maybe the most important book for archeological scholarship in the last ten years or so. Riane lives in Carmel Valley. She is a local person and a great, uh resource and I’m sure that you’ll be seeing more of her, uh in the Esalen catalogue and around. She speaks very well if you- if you have a chance to hear her speak, I would urge you to do it. Send that this way...
This is just to remind you of our little book on cultivating mushrooms. I don't think that- if you have the time and the focus, this is really the way to do it shamanically - to get out of the ‘dealing’ cycle and the ‘not knowing what you’ve got’ cycle. And also, as I’ve said earlier, this trains you to punctuality, cleanliness, attention to detail - all of these qualities which I- I, in fact, I used to say to people once you’ve grown the mushroom, you know you’re ready to take it because it has imbued in you the qualities you need to take it through the act of growing it. Don’t be fooled, it isn’t easy and it isn’t that the process is difficult. It’s that you have bad habits that will get in the way of the process. Habits like leaving your apartment occasionally. [audience chuckles] You can’t do that any more if you do this….
And it's, it’s definitely much more than a grower’s guide. It contains a lot of, as Kat mentioned, a chronology and a lot of discussion about what the mushroom is. It also is the first place to- where these images from the African Plateau, the Tassili Plateau in Algeria, have been reproduced from and they are strong evidence for the use of mushrooms in Neolithic Africa. This is evidence which Wasson did not include in his books; new evidence and, uh both of the major, uh, the major, uh, rock paintings that argue for this point of view are in here. The next issue of revision will have a drawing by Kat on the cover and an article by me about mushrooms and the goddess. An article-it will be a psychedelic issue. Everything in it will be psychedelic so you might watch for that.
And then last and just sort of as a fun thing, in case you’re not aware of this book, some people aren’t. It’s called the S- the
and it is written in an unknown language. It contains hundreds and hundreds of color drawings and since it’s written in an unknown language, it’s impossible to figure out what it’s about because the drawings are all of objects which don’t exist in this world. So it’s, uh, great fun, it’s stimulation for the imagination. It shows, I think, uh, one person’s response to the psychedelic, uh experience. And this book was originally published at $75.00. It’s obviously a labor of love. It could not have been conceived of as a money making proposition. Consequently now it’s being remaindered in most places. You can pick one of these up for 19 bucks, at least at Moe’s in Berkeley and probably any other large volume, uh, bookstore like that. You can spend hours with this thing. It’s more than you can take in at one, uh, go.
Well, I thought this morning because we don’t have too much time and I have- several people have asked me to talk about our personal visions and some people specifically, the Time Wave and all that. I’ll sort of work my way into it. I did want to take account of the fact that today is Easter. There are workshops who would have fallen upon the coincidence of Easter with themselves as an excuse for an orgy of oval ceremonialism but, uh, somehow it slipped past here. But I, I will, uh, Well, it’s an excellent excuse for me to talk about what seems to me one of the most mysterious of all passages in the New Testament. I’m not a New Testament scholar but I’ve puzzled over this passage for years and years and I think it relates to what we’re doing.
I’m not sure, I believe it’s in Matthew when the women come to the tomb on Easter morning looking for Christ – now I think the two, the two Annes and Margarets- it’s Mary Magdalene who comes first and she’s alone I believe – and Christ is there, she sees him. It is the two Margarets who come later. She starts toward Christ because she thought he was dead and she sees him standing by the tomb. She starts towards him and he stops her and he says ‘touch me not, for I am not yet completely of the nature of the Father.’ And I’ve always thought that this was just a fascinating passage because, uh, what is being said here? What’s going on here? He see-Christ seems to be indicating that though he is now alive, he has resurrected, he has come through the crucifixion, nevertheless in some sense he is not yet completely transubstantiate and it suggests, uh, a process, a physical change in the body that requires time to complete itself.
So, this morning I thought I would talk a little bit about time and, uh, insights into it that have come to me out of, out of psychedelics. What I always hoped for out of the psychedelic voyaging was to bring back something. I always felt and still feel that that is the attitude with which you should go into these things – to bring something back. I mean it could be something – a personal insight into a personal dilemma or a more generalized idea. Because I really think that the, uh, that the psychedelic realm is the realm of ideas and that ideas which change the world come first from, uh, from that place. And I’m always a little reluctant to get into this because when I speak about my own ideas, I feel much more, um, how much I’m asking from you as an audience. In other words, it’s like an ego trip because it’s
ideas and why spend an hour on my idea instead of talking about all these, uh, facts, careers and, uh, established, uh, concerns? But you asked for it so, uh…
In the-in 1971, when we went to the Amazon to look into DMT and all of these things, we really had no clear conception of what we were after. We just knew that we wanted to get more time in that dimension, more hands-on experience. Well, if any of you have read T
, you know that my brother conceived of a certain kind of project where he thought that the psychedelic molecules could actually be bonded in to the physical body, into the DNA using sound and that they could be made briefly superconducting, and it’s interesting that that was a word that no one knew what it meant back then. He predicted room temperature superconductors, uh, in 1971 at La Chorrera. Well now room temperature superconductors are a huge concern of a vast part of the scientific research establishment. A whole new technology is promised by this stuff.
Uh, he had this notion that you could bond psychedelic molecules into the DNA and that then the trip would sustain itself indefinitely and could be analyzed as a kind of, uh, waveform signature of the totality of the organism. In other words, he felt that the ordinary psychedelic trip is a fleeting photograph, an almost an X-ray, you could say, that comes into the mind when the psychedelic molecules occupy these bond sites and then flash to the higher cortical processing area of the brain, a kind of gestalt of the state of the organism. And he felt that if you could stabilize and permanentize this that, uh, it would be worth doing. I mean, it wasn’t clear whether he thought he would become a Taoist sage or turn into a flying saucer or what it was. I mean it was a shifting image of totality that he was projecting.
Well I was very skeptical of this and, uh, because it seems unreasonable and basically I’m a reasonable person. But on the other hand, going to the center of the Amazon Basin had been our purpose and here we were and now somebody seemed to be coming up with something very interesting so we let the experiment run since it seemed to me it would either work as he said it would work or it would fail utterly. Because what was proposed was that you saturate your body with psychedelic molecules then sing in a certain range and in a certain way. And I thought either nothing will happen, 99 chances out of a 100, or since he’s so impassionately convinced something will happen, the thing he is convinced will happen, will happen.
So we performed this experiment and if you’ve listened to
, you know what a riot it was and what chaos it set off. And I won’t really review that except for those who haven't- who didn’t read
: what he said would happen didn’t happen but on the other hand my expectation that nothing would happen was completely frustrated and instead he seemed to initiate what at first brush looked like a psychotic break. He became unaware of the people around him. He would talk right through other people’s talking as though he couldn’t hear them. He began to make less and less sense. He lost motor control and, uh, and every-and everyone assumed that he was slipping into some kind of psychosis.
What complicated this was I, who had been cast in the role of the skeptic and the witness, had noticed that the moment he had forged the joint (as he called it), something began to happen for me. Something very unusual. What it was was the teaching voice familiar from psilocybin experiences but with none of the ambiguity and difficulty of connection that I had associated with the psilocybin experiences. Instead it just came on and appeared to be locked in place and he was saying, that’s it, we’ve succeeded. Uh, this is what it is. And, and all the hallucina-I wasn’t even on mushrooms. He had taken ayahuasca. There were no hallucinations. There was no feeling of being stimulated or depressed – there was nothing but this voice and it was talking at such a speed that I would walk these jungle trails like this: uh-huh, uh-huh, yes, I se-yes, yes! At that speed, not for minutes but for months, you know?
And, and what it was concerned to convey is what I now call the Time Wave and, and I will attempt, without blackboards or mathematics or being boring I hope, to explain what this is. And that's a formidable problem because this is an idea as rigid as the kind of ideas that run subway trains and send submarines back to their bases. I mean it's a, it’s a formal, tight idea. But the way it was taught to me was in a steady process of self-amplifying parables or teachings, you could almost say. So how it began was it said to me: have you noticed that every day is like every other day, somewhat? I said, yes I’ve noticed that. 'And have you noticed that every week is like more or less, like every other week?' Yes, I said. It said: ‘well did you know’ – and this is a typical mushroom construction – ‘this did you know, I’ll bet you
know’ (and then the whammy) ‘that every day has a relationship to four other days. And they are not the four days preceding it, they are scattered back through time. One of them may be six months in the past, one of them may be thousands of years in the past but each day is actually an interference pattern caused by the, uh, resonant, uh-the coming together of the resonances of other times. ‘
And so I-it never occurred to me. It never occurred to me that that was a possibility. So then it said, uh, ‘go get your I-Ching’ and I went and got my I-Ching and it said ‘we’re going to look at the first order of difference.’ I said, ‘what’s the first order of difference?’ It said, ‘oh, you don’t know that the first order of difference is. The first order of difference is how many lines change as you go from one hexagram to another.’
Now, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with I-Ching but I assume most somewhat. Right? Ok, the I-Ching is composed of structures, which have six levels called hexagrams. They are either broken or unbroken lines. The first one, called the creative, is all solid lines. The second one, called the receptive, is all broken lines. Who can tell me the first order of difference between the first and second hexagram? Here’s a clue, it’s the number of lines that break.
It’s six. I don’t know why you’re not leaping forward with this. It makes me wonder how far we can go. Six. Anyway, to try and shorten this story, what this teaching voice was concerned with was structure in the I-Ching; previously hidden structure. So I-it said, ‘we can’t go forward with this conversation until you get some graph paper because this is going to be not only conversation, this is going to be diagram.’ So I got graph paper and it said, ‘draw the hexagrams in a descending line in the King Wen sequence and then make a graph of the first order of difference – the number of lines that change as you go from hexagram to hexagram.’ I did this and I got a wavy line obviously.
You can tell that, uh, the values will lie between one and six. In some cases six will change, in some cases only one. Never none because each hexagram is different. I was puzzled as to why an Amazonian mushroom wanted to talk about the archaeology of ancient China. And so what that this resonance calendar existed but then it said, ‘no, no, you don’t understand. We have just- we are now in the atrium of what it is I want to reveal to you. [audience chuckles] I want you to go back and look at the first order of difference wave and I want you to understand that’- and I already knew this but I hadn’t done much with it. The reason the I-Ching is based on 64 is because 64 are the number of codons that DNA runs on. The I-Ching is not an arbitrary construction. It is something that comes out of a deep, formal inspection of what the human organism is. The human organism is a molecular machine that runs on an iterative program of 64. And our-the proteins that compose our bodies are like this, so forth and so on.
And then I said, ‘well, I understand about DNA, I understand how the I-Ching mirrors that, but I don’t understand how then it’s also a calendar’ and the voice said, ‘well don’t you see – perception can be only organized out of the matter which composes it. Time appears to you in your psychological perception of it in the way that it does because time is a property of matter that is being amplified by biology into the theater of awareness.’ So in other words- and this is now me speaking, not it- my interpretation of what it was saying was, life is a phenomenon of quantum mechanical amplification and because we are organized on the blueprint of this quantum mechanical pattern that is very deep at the sub-molecular level of matter, then all our institutions, languages, religions, love affairs – everything has this pattern as the base embedded in it, almost like these fractals which give rise to endless amounts of a certain kind of beauty but if you were to see the equation which generates the fractal, you know, it has six terms. It can be written, uh, in fifteen seconds.
So then there was, there were-years passed and a great leap had to be made because I was like non-functional. Because I worked with this wave, I felt I had the signature of the universe, that a great gift of truth had been given to me but when I tried to tell people, they just backed to the wall and said, you know, 'get help. Now. Now get help!’
Here’s where we separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the wheat from the chaff. The conclusion that I reached was that this universal wave, which has been operating for several billion years, will reach its maximum concrescent, uh, state of enfoldment, uh, at dawn on the 22nd of December 2012 A.D.. This immediately puts me in the nut category. This is what’s called messianic delusion. Millenarian, uh, uh, grandeur, so forth and so on. Nevertheless, it’s a persistent intuition of most religious ontologies. Perhaps not the Buddhist, but the Hindus, the Jews, the Muslims, the Christians, all appoint an end to their world. And uh, I really, I’m a little shy about this because I-it’s so personally mine. Nobody has ever made a contribution to this idea that was substantial. I just, it seems to be mine alone and welcome to it and yet, I want you and historians and paleontologists and primatologists, and people who are experts on time in different, uh, sizes to look at this wave. It’s working ladies and gentlemen. It does in fact describe the ebb and flow of this thing called novelty.
Now when I questioned the mushroom about this, it, it almost makes it trivial. For it, it’s an ‘of course.’ Of course you are made of DNA, DNA is made out of matter, matter has to have time as a precondition of its existence. The signature of time embedded in the atomic structure is amplified to the molecular structure, then is amplified to the organismic structure, then – and that’s called a human life well lived, then it’s amplified to the societal structure – that’s called the birth, growth and senescence of empire. And then it’s magnified to the global structure and that’s called the coming of the hyperspatial object at the end of time. It’s also a theory of resonance. It’s saying that large scales of time have their themes and concerns condensed and revivified in the smaller components.
Now this is somewhat hard to understand but rich enough to pursue. It’s this idea.
Now I’m going to use James Joyce’s classic example. Joyce wrote a book called
is a book about a man who rises on a morning, a bright morning day in June in 1905 or 6; he wants to fry some kidneys for breakfast so he gets his wallet and heads out into Dublin to score some kidneys to bring back and he has all these adventures. But Joyce understood that this man on this day was also Ulysses with his brave component of men journeying to the end of the Mediterranean laying siege to Troy for nine years, winning the Trojan War and returning their homelands. In other words, he understood that in each of us, we are acting out larger and larger scales of time that give color and precision and depth and interest to our being. So if you find yourself on a Saturday night in a place in San Francisco called Hadrian’s Hamburger Joint, it has something to do with the emperor Hadrian and his conquest of Britain and his effort to hold back the barbarians. Life carefully examined is actually a form of allegorical literature of a- with a very tight constructional grid laid over it.
Um, this is a rich idea and as I say, I’ll be giving a five-day workshop on this only because this is the only psychedelic idea I’ve ever brought back other than, you know, idiotic realizations such as – ‘everyone’s little finger precisely fits their nostril.’ [audience laughs] You know – there’s no market for that. But this, this would actually create a re-visioning of time and had we more time this morning, I would tell you how it could be turned into a calendar of the Goddess. How, by living with a solar year, that always puts Christmas with the same slant of sunshine coming in, that we have locked ourselves into a paternalistic, uh, masculine dominated structure.
What the universe is, is flux. Nothing lasts. Nothing abides. Everything moves on. Women know this. Men don’t and we’re living under a solar masculine calendar. The reason our ideas and I-by our ideas I’m now speaking of the entirety of the new age and all of this stuff – the reason our ideas meet resistance is because the framing around the entire discussion of the spirit and feminism and transformation, the frame is always the masculine solar time frame. As long as we operate under that calendar, we will have a very difficult time advancing ideas. This is-the Chinese understood this. This was why when great reforming emperors arose, the first thing they did was change the calendar. If you want food for thought, look at hexagram 49. It’s revolution. You open it up expecting sage political advice; it talks only about the calendar and it talks about the magician as a calendar maker. In fact it says the magician is a calendar maker.
So I think that, uh, what this teaching that came out of this experience in the Amazon was all about was, it was a totality symbol. Dennis had thought that the flying saucer would emerge out of his body as a spinning violent disk of trans-linguistic matter that would become showerhead, pizza or Mercedes, depending on what you needed at the moment. He thought it would become matter in the act of appropriate activity. Instead what emerged was a totality symbol. And Jung talks about how in the individuation process, you always hope that the patient or the client will generate a totality symbol but he usually means a kind of individual and wavering totality symbol like a mandala or a, a, a cohesive structure or something. I think we got, and I try to say this without hubris because I felt like I was nothing more than the vessel into which this thing was being poured – what we got was
totality symbol in a complete version, not- certainly not a totality version because I don’t think the human mind can encompass the total version, but we got a skeletal blueprint of what totality is in the world.
What it is, is knowing how things happen. Knowing that all processes, the firing of a nerve, the culmination of a love affair, the fall of an empire – has a, a, a pattern. And if you know the pattern, you will be at ease with any process in all or any of its stages. Because you will just say, ‘ah this is the time of resistance. It will soon be followed by the time of foreword motion. That will be followed by the time of re-enfoldment.’ And what this does is – it eliminates anxiety ultimately. That’s the bottom line. Our anxiety about death and our anxiety about the future and our relationships and money – all this stuff can be boiled down to anxiety about the unknowable aspects of the future. If we could assimilate a model like this we would be Taoists. The future holds no terrors for a person who knows how process inevitably unfolds. They are always right and with it in each moment.
So I, I think that we’ve always talked about the I-Ching and Taoism and all this sort of thing as short for the culmination of mysticism but to make it a living faith in our own lives, there should be nothing mystical about it. And I maintain to you, there
nothing mystical about it. It’s simply that we are at such a primitive stage of culture that we haven’t yet understand-understood what time is.
A hundred years ago we were at such a primitive stage at culture that we didn’t understand what time was. Einstein had to come along and say, you know, time is not an abstraction necessary to have a place to put objects that you want to examine. Time itself is an object. It is curved in the vicinity of massive gravitational fields. It has a topology. It has a surface. I think what we need to understand out of this idea, ultimately what the psychedelic experience is teaching, ultimately what Taoism is trying to say – is that time is a topological manifold. It is a surface. Events flow across it like water over land and like water flowing over land, when the land is flat; the water becomes reflective and moves slowly. When the landscape becomes disrupted, the water moves faster and chaotic attractors appear and new kinds of activity emerge and out of that new activity, then comes the new states that define the future.
Well, uh, I’m going to stop there. I haven’t shown you a graph or written a number or drawn a hexagram and I think that’s remarkable. [audience chuckles] This is the feeling the feeling tone; this is the good stuff that you get if you go through those graphs, numbers and time on at the computer. But this is the totality symbol that I was able to get out of living a psychedelic life and I believe that there are as many of these kinds of totality symbols as there are people willing to trip. And each one of them is different. You know, we create them for each other, they complete our lives, they assuage anxiety and they give us a tremendous appetite, then, for the adventure of being rather than the ordeal of being. And they arise out of using psychedelics to amplify and inspect the quantum mechanical and subconscious and superconscious portions of the human mind. This is why the psychedelic experience and psychedelics are so important. It’s because they are tools for understanding and re-visioning the reality in which we all live. The personal growth is a wonderful thing and will naturally follow along but it’s more important than that. It’s a way to make a new world that is Taoistic, feminine, free of anxiety and in great anticipation of further stages of completion laying into the future. That’s, uh, that's where the mystery, the transcendental object, the pot of gold at the end of rainbow is waiting and I think that’s the job of each of us – to show our best toys and our best tricks that lift us and our friends to higher and higher levels. And there is no end to this bootstrapping process. The future of the human mind and body and the future of humans together is, uh, endlessly bright.
Keep the faith! Recognize each other and maybe I should close with a little line from Gary Snyder if I can remember it. He said, uh, ‘learn the flowers, travel light and stay together.’ [audience chuckles, claps]
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