Terence McKenna. Biography and books

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Terence McKenna. Biography and books
Terence McKenna. Biography and books

Ethnobotanist, mystic and philosopher Terence McKenna has spoken and written on topics including enterogenic plants and psychedelic drugs, shamanism and philosophy, culture and metaphysics, alchemy and technology. He has been called the "intellectual voice of the bliss culture", "the leading authority on the fundamentals of shamanism", and the "Timothy Leary of the 90s".

terence mckenna


Terence McKenna was born on November 16, 1946 in Paonia, Colorado. Poor eyesight and poor he alth limited communication with peers. The boy spent a lot of time alone, enthusiastically exploring the nearest ravines and gullies in search of fossils. The uncle shared his knowledge of geology with Terence, and the interest in the further study of nature was born in the child.

At the age of ten, the boy became interested in psychology and read C. Jung's book "Psychology and Alchemy". His parents wanted to give him the best education, so they sent him at the age of sixteen to California, to Los Altos, to their friends, with whom McKenna lived for about a year. Antelope Valley High Schoolgraduated from Lancaster in 1965.

I was introduced to the world of psychedelics in 1963 through articles in The Village Voice and Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, Heaven and Hell. In an interview, Terence McKenna said that his first psychedelic experience with Morning Blue morning glory seeds showed that there are plants in nature that need to be explored in many ways.

terence mckenna books


In the summer of 1965, Terence moved to San Francisco and entered the University of Berkeley. In the same year, McKenna wrote about himself, he tried marijuana and LSD. Terence, as a freshman, was admitted to Tussman Experimental College, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in ecology. After graduation, McKenna travels to Japan, where she teaches English for several years.

Terence travels through South Asia, and in 1969 comes to Kathmandu, where he studies Tibetan languages ​​and folk shamanism. In the same year he is smuggling hashish in Bombay. One of the shipments was detained by customs and the FBI put Terence on the wanted list. He hastily leaves for Southeast Asia. Terence McKenna recalled how he wandered through Java, Malaysia, Sumatra in fear, hunted rare butterflies in the jungle, and always had a volume of his beloved Nabokov in his backpack.

In 1971, Terence sets off on a journey through the Colombian Amazon in search of herbal psychedelics. In La Chorrera, he allowed experiments on himself with plants containing psilobicine, began to promote plant hallucinogens and became a popular figure. supporterof the archaic revival, which is based on the intuitive application of psychoactive plants, he attracted attention with his pioneering work.

terence mckenna biography

Consciousness and psychedelics

The first book Terence co-wrote with his brother Dennis is perhaps comparable to an alchemical text. Just as science and magic were closely linked in the seventeenth century, so in the book The Invisible Landscape, the author, relying on research in ethnobotany, molecular biology and schizophrenia, thoroughly studies psychedelic philosophy and shamanism.

The ideas and concepts discussed in the pages of Terence McKenna's book are highly specific. This is an attempt by two brothers to understand the psychedelic effects of "mushroom revelations". Dennis was primarily interested in the process itself - molecular and cellular changes. He suggested that the many ways people use to achieve this state involve the same organic process.

Given that Dennis is a scientist, doctor of psychopharmacology, and Terence is a philosopher, one can understand the style of writing: one fragment is presented in a simple, understandable language, and the other is accessible only to a person with a degree. The book begins with philosophical postulates, based on which the brothers began their research, and ends with the fact that they managed to draw the final conclusion, express it in a mathematical model and create a computer program.

In general, the book is interesting and, in a sense, unique. Here the adventures of their little expedition inthe upper reaches of the Amazon and surprisingly intertwined modern science and ancient magic. A lot of new things have been written about the origin of shamanism, about how access to the “unconscious” is opened, about the art of healing in the world of aborigines, about their rituals and traditions.

American philosopher Terence Kemp McKenna

Revival of the archaic

In the book "Food of the Gods" the author presents his version of the origin of man. McCann suggests that plant psychedelics have taken place in world history and have had a direct impact on the formation of man. They have the ability to accelerate the thought process, which ultimately led to the development of consciousness, speech and the formation of culture.

In proof of his original idea, the author gives examples that “consciousness-expanding” plants have been used since ancient times - Indian tribes used ayahuasca “to communicate with spirits”, ancient Iranians used haoma for religious rites. The prohibition of laboratory experiments with psychedelics does not allow to fully explore this area, the author regrets.

According to Terence McKenna, herbal psychedelics are conceived by nature itself for the human body. Terence moves on to drugs that enslave the mind. These include cocaine and heroin, alcohol, tobacco and coffee, chocolate and sugar. In his opinion, sugar is much more harmful than mescaline. The history of mankind, which the author draws through the prism of mind-destroying substances - the opium wars, slavery on sugar plantations - is very curious.

In general, historical andthe biological parts of the book are quite entertaining. Only the author's practical suggestions - the return of intimacy with nature, are likely to cause difficulties. Humanity has gone too far, and it is unlikely that it will be possible to turn back to its original state. Even the legalization of psychedelics will not change anything.

Other works

  • "Pure hallucinations" is rather a detailed chronology of the La Chorrera experiment. The author writes in the preface that something amazing happened in those places. The mushrooms he met there prophesied about a general change in consciousness. Under the influence of “talkative mushrooms”, the original thinker saw everything that had happened to him twenty years before, but learned even more about the future. Was it collective insanity or schizophrenia? Psychosis caused by psilocybin? In any case, the metamorphoses of consciousness that McKenna describes deserve close attention.
  • Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide McKenna co-authored a guide to growing mushrooms with his brother. The book was published in the early seventies, so in the first edition the technology of growing "magic mushrooms" is captured in black and white photographs. In 1992, McKenna revised the manual to include more modern cultivation methods.
  • Synesthesia - co-authored with Timothy Leary and published in 1992.
  • Also published in 1992 was Trialogues at the Edge of the West, a book co-authored by McCann with mathematician Ralph Abraham and biologist Rupert Sheldrake. In 2001edition has been corrected and supplemented.
  • In the same composition, three great minds published the book The Evolutionary Mind in 1998. A revised edition was released in 2005.
terence kemp mckenna

Botanical Garden

The main project in Terence McKenna's life was Botanical Dimensions, which they founded in 1985 with their brother Dennis and wife Kat. The non-profit organization collects and studies plants used for food, medicine and clothing. Much attention is paid to ethno-medical plants, that is, those that are used to treat or prevent illness.

Plants used in medicine are endangered. The main objective of the Botanical Dimensions project is the protection of wild and cultivated crops. The ethnobotanical garden in Hawaii contains a collection for plant research and conservation. They maintain a similar garden in Peru, have educational functions in California, maintain a database, and publish a PlantWise bulletin.

In principle, the collection of Botanical Dimensions plants and the knowledge gained about them are unparalleled. The American philosopher Terence Kemp McKenna himself, to some extent, is unique in building hypotheses - one more original than the other. An ardent opponent of drugs, he devoted his entire life to the study of psychedelic plants. Even when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, he was concerned that it was caused by psychedelic use.

McKenna spent his last years in an ethnic reservein Hawaii, where he died of a brain tumor on April 3, 2000, at the age of fifty-three.

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