Inside Terence McKenna’s mind

"The first place you go, when you're going to take a new drug, is the library." This advice by Terence McKenna is from 1982. Nowadays, the internet saves you a trip to the library. And those who are interested in the psychedelic experience will find these words by McKenna everywhere.

Terence McKenna gets to know psychedelics for the first time during his adolescent years in California. He reads books by Aldous Huxley and has his first trip using morning glory seeds. Adventurous trips to Jerusalem, Nepal, Indonesia and Japan, among many, kindle his interest in old civilizations. He studies ecology, resource management, and – characteristically – shamanism.

In 1971 his life takes a defining turn. With his younger brother Dennis he travels to the Amazon area in Colombia. The goal is to find oo-koo-hé, a mysterious brew with hallucinatory properties, the use of which dates back thousands of years. They don’t find it, but the two siblings do gather a wealth of psychedelic experience, tripping on mushrooms and ayahuasca.

Their trips in the Amazon create a fertile feeding ground for a life devoted to the psychedelic experience. On their return, they publish The Invisible Landscape, a philosophical and mystical book. They also publish the Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide, a book that is every bit as practical as the title suggests.

In the early eighties, Terence finds himself a popular speaker. His characteristic voice and captivating knack for language lets him shine in this new role. Terence speaks, in a style that comes across as spontaneous and off the cuff, about the psychedelic experience and everything even remotely connected to that.

Terence unfortunately couldn't witness the new millennium and explosive growth of the internet. In April 2000 he dies as a result of a brain tumour. It’s the time of downloading mp3’s with Napster. The first mobile phone with camera has yet to be announced. And it will take 5 more years before YouTube lets us all share movie clips.

In 1995 McKenna orates: "Internet is going to be a technology for showing each other the inside of our heads. For showing each other our dreams." He’d be pleased to see his work thrive on today’s internet. All recorded lectures are easily available. And parts of his talks are presented in bite-sized clips, remixed with footage and music.



What is your favourite bit of McKenna?

Lectures: Archive of Terence McKenna talks
Podcast: The Psychedelic Salon Podcast
Clips: Ultimate Terence McKenna playlist
Biography: Brotherhood of the screaming abyss