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Terence McKenna 1993 interview by Mark Kenaston for the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Book review magazine

Mark Kenaston: How did you first become interested in psychedelics?
Terence McKenna: I first became explicitly aware of psychedelics when reading Aldous Huxley’s the Doors of Perception. I had an early interest in the novels of Huxley, William James, and Thomas Hardy—I was especially interested in their style. When I started reading Huxley I came upon The Doors of Perception and I realized that in all my born days, I had never entertained such a notion as that there could be these chemicals in cactus that would sweep you away to jeweled landscapes haunted by mythological creatures, phosphorescent maidens and the ruined architectonic geometries of who-knows-what. The psychedelic experience is like that.
 
In addition, I had also read a lot of magic and science fiction. I regard science fiction as the entry drug into the psychedelic world. If by nine, ten, eleven or twelve, you’re reading science fiction, then you’re probably lost to normality.
 
MK: Did you begin to experiment with LSD at this time?
TM: Oh no, LSD came much later—at this time I didn’t have any drug experience at all. Turning from Huxley’s novels to his essays, I realized that he was basically my mentor at that early age. I’ve always been interested in the exotic or the extravagantly romantic. The outlandish. The etchings of Gustave Doré to illustrate Paradise Lost and the Inferno were fascinating to me as a kid.
 
The interest in Huxley and mescaline and the psychedelic state led to an interest in psychology, starting with Havelock Ellis, because I then read of his accounts, or his experiences, with mescaline. William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experiences led me into Freud which I found titillating as a kid, but not very intellectually satisfying.
 
Eventually I moved on to Jung and thought this, this is really something. I think Jung was a cantankerous and peculiar old bird for sure, but he had an incredible insight into certain dimensions of the psyche that I consider psychedelic. He didn’t take or have anything good to say about psychedelics, but he must have been far enough imbedded in the unconscious that he saw how it works. I should say that I think that it’s the later Jung that’s interesting, Mysterium Coniunctionis and the alchemical essays were very interesting.
 
MK: What did your mother think of your interests? Did she think my kid is off his nut?
TM: Well, she was a Huxley fan. But you see, the great paradox of Huxley was that he sold guns to both sides. Brave New Worlds is what really gave Huxley his reputation. Have you read it?
 
MK: Yes, although it was some time ago.
TM: Well you see, it’s a dystopia, a pharmacological dystopia. People are completely disconnected from their emotions through the overuse of this drug called soma. Everyone resorts to it rather than have any social conflict or any thought about their dilemma, and it was presented as this nightmare vision of the future.
 
Then in the middle of his career Huxley wrote Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, which are basically his wonder and amazement at discovering these things. His last coherent work was Island, which I find inferior as a work of literature, but he was clearly there, pointing to various psychedelics and a vision of kind of archaic revival. I mean he anticipated the archaic revival because the world of Island is essentially an archaic-technical world.
 
MK: So how did you make your entry into the world of psychedelics?
TM: With morning glories. Let’s see, it must have been the summer that I was fifteen or sixteen. There were articles in the paper saying that the Heavenly Blue morning glory being sold in horticulture shops was this magical morning glory of the Mexican Indians, like LSD with alkaloids in it. So I began experimenting and it was true.
 
MK: What is the morning glory psychedelic experience like? I would guess that it’s not as strong as some other psychedelics.
TM: Well it is if you push it, but I didn’t. We’d grind up a couple hundred of these things and take them in a banana milkshake and wander out into the sagebrush. By this time I was living north of L.A. on the Mojave desert in a place called Lancaster, where I finished high school. Wild things would happen our among the Joshua trees, mostly this incredible clarity of vision and then rushing of thought.
 
I discovered Cannabis in my last year of high school and from then on I was just riveted by it. It seemed to me obvious, I don’t know, like I was astrologically set up for it.
 
This is very, very important. This brings together all the rest of it—all the poetry, the art, the mathematics—it gave meaning. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. In fact, my life’s career is attempting to explain what I mean by “this is important.” It’s not the “back of the eyelids” things, it’s not the irrelevant reveries of poets here, it’s actually the engines of history.
 
MK: Western society tends to brush off the psychedelic experience as being fictional. Because the psychedelic experience takes place in the mind, it’s considered merely imagination and is therefore discredited as not being an authentic religious/spiritual experience.
 
TM: Well, the twin horrors or twin problems of Western society are ego and materialism. And they’re linked together in a naïve monotheism. This creates toxic cultural conditions if you allow the engine to run for a thousand years, which it now has.
 
The real unspoken problem now is that capitalism—which we have spent the past hundred and fifty years perfecting in the West—is now perfected. The dilemma is that it’s a real Frankenstein, it can’t be stopped and all it wants to do is turn everything into products to sell to impoverished masses, and it won’t work without an endlessly expandable frontier which no longer exists, therefore the whole thing has gone into some kind of malignant state.
 
Jobs, free trade, they say—these are the battle cries of this malignancy that wants to level all cultures an turn everything into a commodity. And it’s not being examined and halted. How can you halt it when it’s paying the bill for people? It’s on a hugely exploded level.
 
Take the dilemma or the closure of the military bases. You have the spectacle of the most liberal members of the Senate whining and pleading that fleets of Strategic Air Command bombers continue to be kept on alert, armed with mega-tonnage to be delivered to the heart of Asia. I mean, they don’t know what to do with themselves. So the toxicity of capitalism is the real issue.
 
[W]hat I call the Archaic Revival…places it all in a better historical perspective. When a cultural loses its bearing, the traditional response is to go back in history to find the previous “anchoring model.” An example of this would be the break up of the medieval world at the time of the Renaissance. They had lost their compass, so they went back to Greek and Roman models and created Classicism—Roman law, Greek aesthetics, and so on…So the important part of the human potential movement and the New Age, I believe, is the reempowerment of ritual, the rediscovery of Shamanism, the re-cognition of psychedelics and the importance of the Goddess. There must be and authentic religious mystery driving this. Psychedelics puts you in touch with something that is both real and immediate—the mind of the planet.
 
This is the oversoul of all life on Earth. It’s the real thing. The Gaia hypothesis, which begins by proposing that the entire planet is a self-regulating system, has now been brought to the level where people are saying “It’s almost alive.” But I would go much further than that. Not only is it alive, but it is “minded.”
            –from The Archaic Revival
 
MK: Is this “maxing out” on capitalism going to be the catalyst for the archaic revival?
 
TM: Well I don’t know, there are many factors.
 
MK: At some point, even the most ardent capitalists will see that consumerism is a cultural end is rather empty.
 
TM: Capitalism is incredibly inventive. And when threatened will be especially inventive. One of the things that interests me is what used to be called “virtual reality” and is now called immersive technology.
 
MK: Is that what they’re calling it now?
 
TM: Yes, they’ve finished virtual reality. The concept there being that products are okay, but they should just be made of light—not matter—that somehow we have to back out of the materialization of this, the matter of the manufacturing cycle. So what we’re going to sell is images, software, code, assembly language. It’s all going to move through this organo-metallic coral reef of connection that’s going to be created.
 
As far as an archaic revival goes, I think the key thing—if the rave culture wants a political agenda—in the “one woman-one child” idea. You have to sort through mountains of sociological and demographic data trying to figure out what’s happening, that’s like the acupressure point in the dying body politic.
 
If we were to begin to talk about the one woman-one child option, I think we mean that explosively and exponentially spread because it’s not complicated like the psychedelic thing. Anyone in any language can understand in ten minutes that if every woman had just one natural child, in 45 years the population would drop in half. And no matter what anybody says rhetorically, what is really holding women back is that they are still tied into the biological cycle of child rearing.
 
So what we’re talking about here is an earthquake-style shift where women confine their child rearing activity to one child for 15 years, only a percentage of their productive life-span. Woman would take this enormous step forward in self-empowerment, while the whole Earth’s ecosystem-resource-raw-material production system and everything else undergoes this massive series of feedback changes. Because, you see, a child born to a woman in an upper class, high-tech society uses 800 to 1,000 times more resources than a child in the third world.
 
And these are the women you’re more likely to reach because they’re well educated, media savvy members of global society. And you just say to these people that you can have vastly expanded leisure-time, increased disposable income, and true status as a hero in the trenches in the fight to save the planet. This is the most politically enlightened and correct thing you could ever do, and as the planetary systems begin to feel the loosening of strain, you could institute social policies so that any woman that would do this would be guaranteed cradle to grave health care, or something like that and just begin to pump the society that way.
 
MK: What chance do you see us doing that? I wonder how much real change is possible.
 
TM: You’re right. You’ve got religious and economic forces that wouldn’t like this.
 
MK: You’ve got multi-national corporations who don’t care about these problems and have a vested interest in promoting the status quo.
 
TM: Well, yes, this is the real issue. How are we going to deal with those who are making a living off practicing what are essentially predatory and anti-human practices? No, I think it will probably be a hell of a fight, and looking at places like India, where my assumption is that the battle has been lost, it will probably be lost everywhere, in which case we will live in a truly Orwellian hell—managed low class, I mean, ugh. Bad. Democratic values are very fragile.
 
It’s so disturbing, because there’s no management. You know, everybody’s so exultant over Bill Clinton. My god, he certainly stays away from any global vision or and end-of-the-millennium vision. They don’t talk about scaling down world military expenditures or controlling arms production. They don’t even seem that interested in nuclear non-proliferation. They’re not al all far-seeing as far as I can tell. Their ideas are to hold inflation down and micro-manage things.
 
MK: Could we hop back a bit and have you describe for us some of the characteristics of psychedelic travel? I imagine many of our readers haven’t tried hallucinogens.
 
TM: Since we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of LSD, I suppose it would be appropriate.
 
MK: Is Sandoz throwing a party of some sort?
 
TM: Well there’s going to be parties worldwide. It will be called Bicycle Day and is going to be held on a weekend in the middle of April—in Frankfurt, Basil, London, San Francisco and Los Angeles there will be celebrations of some sort. My book is coming out that weekend, although that was just coincidental.
 
Okay, I took LSD the first time in the summer of 1965, in San Francisco. And it was Sandoz LSD. I had been looking for it for months and it was absolutely astonishing. It must have been an enormous amount of LSD—it was absolutely boundary-dissolving.
 
MK: If it was Sandoz, I assume it was pure. Do you remember how much you took?
 
TM: Well, they said it was 500, but who knows? It was a whole universe that polarized itself into two concepts. One was like God, it was profound. It was that organ tone in the Bach B minor Mass. So that was happening, then the other thing was hilarious and absurd and caused me to bust up hysterically for long minutes. I spent an hour and a half in this place just ricocheting between things so awesome that I felt like a flea in God’s bedroom.
 
Then I remember wandering out into the streets and somehow making my way up California street to Grace Cathedral and having some sort of preprogrammed Aldous Huxley/Alan Watts/Tim Leary type of epiphany there with the rose window. The Masonic Auditorium was just across the street, so then I wandered over there to these enormous doors and walked into this huge elevator. Nobody seemed to be around and I just pushed this button and was whisked up to the 3rd floor. The door whooshed open and I was in this enormous auditorium with these red velvet upholstered seats, and there above the stage, draped in red velvet, was this enormous letter M, and it was just like—gee, you shouldn’t have! And I was connected so the modalities of the real. And so I made my way back to the street with this cosmic epiphany or synchronistic reassurance or whatever it was.
 
The best trips I would have with LSD was when I would smoke a lot of hash—by itself, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I had this romantic vision from reading Huxley and Havelock Ellis, and by god, I wanted to see ruined desert cities and jungle ruins of strange civilizations and hear the phosphorescent maiden play her daemon song upon the dulcimer. In other words, I wanted vision and LSD wasn’t exactly like that for me. But, Psilocybin was, and DMT certainly was.
 
MK: I’m really interested in what you have to say about DMT.
 
TM: You cannot imagine a stranger drug or a stranger experience. That’s the bottom line—you just can’t imagine. It’s impossible to imagine because it’s the confounding of reason. It masquerades as a drug, but what it is is an experience, which is the one experience that I think we fairly quickly, as we live our lives, assure ourselves can’t happen. It’s the impossible thing and it has to do with seeing beyond appearances into wha is really going on. What it’s about is how all of this is somehow not real. It’s some kind of—I don’t wont to say some kind of test, I don’t want to say simulacrum, but it’s like we’re imprisoned in some kind of construct. It’s artificial, all of this stuff.
 
With this DMT, this fact might have eluded you unto death, except that you just smoked DMT an now you’re just punched through, and you’re saying, ‘This hole in reality, what is this? And what does it imply about reality, and what does it imply about me that I’m finding this out?’ It’s like, this clearly is not meant to be known. And here it’s happening in front of you and it’s a funny thing. There is a self-erasing mechanism in it. I have the feeling that you find out something there that is so contra-intuitive that you literally cannot think of it sitting here. So as you go from there to here, there comes a moment where it slips below the surface of rational apprehendability.
 
MK: Maybe if one was able to recall it, it5 might get in the way of functioning properly in the world.
 
TM: If it didn’t go away you would just sit there, and if it really didn’t go away for a long time, I suppose eventually . . ..
 
MK: You might get institutionalized.
 
TM: Well what would it be like to be in that place? To try to get a drink of water, for example. Or make a phone call.
 
MK: It probably wouldn’t happen.
TM: Well it’s hard to say because it’s not a state of unclarity. It’s as though—I tend not to like this metaphor, but it’s somewhat useful when describing DMT, it’s an old occult metaphor—there’s another vibrational plane, and you’ve just ratcheted yourself to VHF. Now everything is in VHF and you’re in VHF and you don’t know what it is exactly. You have the feeling that you can walk through walls, or spring sixty feet at the wink of an eye. You’re not exactly a human being any more and the wold isn’t exactly the world anymore. And, of course, this raises the question, ‘Am I dead?’, which is the reasonable expectation. And then it’s hard to tell if you are, because you didn’t think death would be like this.
 
MK: Eastern religions have used the process of meditation to set aside the ego. Can you explain how shamanic religion has employed the use of hallucinogens for this same purpose?
 
TM: Well, I rally believe that this connection to the Gaian Mind that Paleolithic shamanism exploited is the basis of our ideas about deity. The idea of and overwhelming, guiding, creating force comes out of all of that. Religion and mystical practice without psychedelics are derivative, I think, and late. It’s an accommodation to class structures and community need for control, and that sort of thing, that basically came with the invention of agriculture.
 
What happened with agriculture was the ability to symbolize, and hence, depotentiate, reality. And so you symbolize religious acts, you symbolize relationships—you symbolize everything. And you get a hold on it, you’re not quite so at the mercy of it. But when you symbolize deity rather than experience it, then shamanism becomes a peripheral phenomenon.
 
MK: In other words, for shamanism to be vital, it needs to employ psychedelics?
 
TM: Yeah, I think so. This remains a big fight in anthropology, where Mircea Eliade says what he calls ‘narcotic shamanism’ is decadent. But the fact that he uses the word narcotic shows he’s very naïve about drugs and I think it was an ill-considered judgment. He was Romanian, educated in France, he was successful in the United States, and his autobiography makes clear that he was very enamored with yoga—he did the classical Eastern tours seeking a master. But I think that Gordon Wasson and the people that took his position were much closer to the truth, and that is that shamanism without hallucinogens is probably decadent.
 
But there are other ways. There is sonic drumming, abstinence, fasting, sexual practices maybe—who knows, although it would be fun to find out. All these claims are made, but what I can tell you is that psychedelic plants and chemicals do exactly what all these other religious traditions are claiming is important to do—dissolve boundaries, experience the unity of creation, disassociate from the ego, and transcend cause and effect.
 
MK: I’ve heard two main criticisms about the psychedelic experience as a path. One is that true spiritual growth occurs as a result of practice, in other words, you just don’t get something from nothing. Secondly, there’s a chaos attached to the use of psychedelics that is beyond one’s control and they are therefore dangerous. What do you think of that?
 
TM: Well the first point: you didn’t deserve it if you didn’t earn it is an idea that John Calvin would be proud of. The other objection is more interesting, that there’s chaos about it. I tend to assume that chaos is unavoidable and that it’s like living on an island chain in the Pacific Ocean, and the issue is to sail or not to sail, and that nobody can guarantee calm seas.
 
The shamans I have known have been very cautious people and often the stories they tell are the stories of overdose and mistake and miscalculation and how much they learned from them.
 
MK: Where do stand today on the subject of mysticism?
 
TM: The bottom line for me is that I absolutely believe that the world is magical. I have seen violations of physics that satisfy me. But also my position is, “show me,’ because that works. Out of 10 minutes of my life, the ‘show me’ position has delivered 10 minutes of truly miraculous stuff.
 
MK: Can one access this ego dissolving mystical experience without the use of hallucinogens?
 
TM: I’m not really sure, I guess that’s what I’m saying. I’m not sure there’s anybody who understands how it works, but it is true that miracles do happen and then the question as to whether anybody has gotten there ahead of us. I don’t know. No group or no teacher that I’ve heard of seemed to me al all interesting. They seem to be fulfilling some completely different function, a sociological function, giving people something to believe in.
 
The best method is to be very rational and rigorous about evidence, but to press the edge. What can you show me? And if they say you’re not ready, then you need to take them off the list because the world is full of people who will tell you you’re not ready. Well you want somebody who’s ready, an then eventually something will come down the pike. That’s where you get this hint, you see, that the world’s not made by the laws of physics, that that’s some wild fiction. Behind it lies the laws of deconstructive magic or something.
 
So I’m basically a rationalist, totally committed and believing in the power of the irrational. But some people have tried to put me in the New Age, I just have contempt for all that because those people are just flaky. They believe anything. All you have to do is lower your voice and start raving and they think they’re in contact with a mogul lord of the sixteenth millennium. I mean I just don’t understand that level of woo-woo.
 
MK: One tends to become rather critical of these groups who promise the world if you swear your allegiance and cough up a few bucks. I think that we’ve seen everything.
 
TM: Fire walkers, whale talkers, crystal healers, breatharians, who knows?
 
MK: One thing that you talked about in Archaic Revival that I found interesting is you talked about the vegetable mind and the Gaia hypothesis.
 
TM: Well, it’s kind of a reductionist explanation for the influence of spirit in the psychedelic experience. I mean, why does the psychedelic experience send us scurrying back to our mystical models? I think it’s because boundary dissolution has to be taken seriously, and when you dissolve your boundary with psychedelics, what you discover then is the interspecies community of awareness. Something like that. Or Gaian mind, or vegetable mind, or mind of the planet, or the Oversoul.
 
But it doesn’t matter what you call it, the important thing is that you notice that it exists, and that it’s kind of reassuring. It’s well beyond what is called the Gaia Hypothesis, which is simply the idea that the planet is self regulating.
 
Life is a billion and a half years old on this planet. Human intelligence seems to have emerged out of an animal in less than five million years. Well, you know, what unimaginable circumstances have arisen and faded away in the billion and a half years that life has been on this planet. There well could have been some strange form of intelligence, but there is some necessary unity to life in that it’s an artifact of our language and our perception to be so species-conscious. And that really it’s all flesh, it’s grass, you know, its all amalgam of life. Shamanism is tapping into this and using it as an affirmation for life as a source of energy for curing, as a source of information that is slightly paranormal.
 
What a discovery it would be for materialist science to actually have to face the fact that we’re embedded in some kind of thinking organism. It’s almost like a return to a rebirth of the medieval notion of God—that the planet is alive, that there are consequences to your acts. But it’s with a Buddhist kind of sensibility, it’s an ecological sensibility where the highest value is not God in His Heaven but the Earth as a Goddess.
 
MK: When you talk about being in a psychedelic experience, you lose that separation. It seems to me that, particularly in the West, I think it’s the nature of the mind that is dualistic—a kind of us and them sort of thing. It seems to have become a structure of the psyche.
 
TM: Well, it’s an artifact of our language, and is almost like part of the structure of reality, but it’s a very, very bad habit that has been reinforced by other bad habits. It’s the bad habit which psilocybin miraculously corrects. And if you’re willing to be vaccinated fairly frequently, you can overcome….
 
ML: How frequently do you think?
 
TM: How about once a month from age 14 to 24.
 
The following are short reviews of Terence McKenna’s publications:
 
Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess and the End of History by Terence McKenna, Foreword by Tom Robbins (288 pp.)
            A student of Tibetan shamanism, virtual reality, and the botany of the Amazon, McKenna is a legendary raconteur, adventurer, and proponent of the use of the psilocybin mushroom who claims that hallucinogenic plants are a key to our evolution as a language-using species.
In these essays, interviews, and narrative adventures, Terence McKenna takes us on a mesmerizing journey deep into the Amazon as well as into hidden recesses of the human psyche and the outer limits of our culture, giving us startling visions of the past and the future.
 
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge – A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna (336 pp.)
            First published in 1993, this is the critically acclaimed counterculture manifesto by the wildly popular McKenna.
"Deserves to be a modern classic on mind-altering drugs and hallucinogens".–The Washington Post.
            Why, as a species, are humans fascinated by altered states of consciousness? Can altered states reveal something to us about our origins and our place in nature? In this book, ethnobotanist Terence McKenna’s research on man’s ancient relationship with chemicals opens a doorway to the divine, and perhaps a solution for saving our troubled world. McKenna provides a revisionist look at he historical role of drugs in the East and the West, from the ancient spice, sugar, and rum trades to marijuana, cocaine, synthetics, and even television—illustrating the human desire for the “food of the gods” and the powerful potential to replace abuse of illegal drugs with a shamanic understanding, insistence on community, reverence for nature, and increased self-awareness.
A journey to some of the Earth’s most endangered people in the remote Upper Amazon . . .a look at the rituals of the Bwiti cults of Gabon and Zaire . . .a field watch on the eating habits of “stoned” apes and chimpanzees . . .and a learned but startling provocative historical study of man’s use of mind-altering drugs—these adventures are all a part of ethnobotanist Terence McKenna’s extraordinary quest to discover the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It’s an odyssey of mind, body, and spirit that makes Food of the Gods one of the most fascinating histories of consciousness ever written.
 
The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching by Terence McKenna & Dennis J. McKenna (256 pp.)
            “During 1970 our thinking coalesced to a point where we felt that a basic reconstitution of culture, while theoretically possible through an archaic holo-cybernetic revolution, was practically impossible, given the intransigence of power elites and the lack of direction evinced by putative revolutionaries. Our interest then centered upon primitive societies where a connection with the timeless world of the unconscious is maintained through the office of the shaman, the technician of the sacred. We believed that the widespread use of psychedelic drugs in modern society was somehow rooted to the intuition that exploration and reassimilation of so-called magical dimensions was the next valid step in humanity’s collective search for liberation. Our studies centered upon the tribal peoples who had a highly refined tradition of shamanism and the use of psychotropic substances. Practical experience indicated that entry into the “separate reality” or the “non-ordinary reality” of the shamanic cosmology was most easily achieved through the use of hallucinogenic tryptamines. To investigate this assumption, we organized, early in 1971, an expedition to the upper Amazon Basin to locate sources of organic tryptamines and to explore their possible relevance to the search for liberation into eschatological time.”—from the Introduction to the book
            The authors began the book with an investigation into shamanism showing it to occur in virtually every culture abut remaining “eminently individualistic, idiosyncratic, and enigmatic, standing apart from organized ecclesiastical institutions while still performing important functions for the psychic and religious life of the culture.”
 
True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise by Terence McKenna (256 pp.)
            Like a lovely psychedelic sophist, Thomas McKenna recounts his adventures with psychoactive plants in the Amazon Basin. Either a profoundly psychotic episode or a galvanizing glimpse into the true nature of time and mind, McKenna is a spellbinding storyteller, providing plenty of down-to-earth reasons for preserving the planet.
            In March 1971, Terence McKenna, his brother Dennis, and a small gypsy-like band “bound by friendship, extravagant imagination, naiveté, and a dedication to travel and exotic experience” set off on an expedition to the Amazon basin in search of the mythical shamanistic hallucinogen of the Witoto, oo-koo-he.
            What ensued was perhaps the most bizarre experience in ethnobiologist McKenna’s already bizarre life and the germination of McKenna’s theory that psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in the Stropharia Cubensis mushroom, is the missing link in the development of human consciousness and language.
            True Hallucinations is the mesmerizing, fast-paced, and surreal account of this intellectual odyssey and the planet-shattering secret it revealed, culminating in the Experiment at La Chorrera, a small settlement along the Rio Putumayo in Colombian Amazonas where “the loquacious mushrooms . . .spun a myth and issued a prophecy, in quite specific detail, of a planet-saving global shift in consciousness.” It is here that Terence’s brother Dennis, becomes possessed by the idea that the mushroom is the doorway to the Planet Earth’s “bonded complex of superconductive harmine-psilocybin-DNA.”
            After encountering a cast of remarkable characters—including a mushroom, a flying saucer, pirate Mantids from outer space, and appearance by James and Nora Joyce, and translinguistic matter—McKenna’s band discovers “that the universe is stranger than we can suppose” and reverently “genuflect[s] before the weirdness of it all.”