Terence McKenna spoke and wrote about psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness.
McKenna said that one of his early psychedelic experiences with morning glory seeds showed him “that there was something there worth pursuing”, and in interviews he claimed to have smoked cannabis daily since his teens.
After the partial completion of his studies, and his mother’s death from cancer in 1971, McKenna, his brother Dennis, and 3 friends traveled to the Colombian Amazon in search of a plant preparation containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT). They found various forms of ayahuasca, or yagé, and fields full of gigantic Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, which became the focus of the expedition.
Terence McKenna advocated the exploration of altered states of mind via the ingestion of naturally occurring psychedelic substances. During McKenna’s studies, he developed a technique for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms with Dennis and in 1976, the brothers published what they had learned in a book entitled Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide. In the early 1980s, McKenna began to speak publicly on the topic of psychedelic drugs.
McKenna soon became a fixture of popular counterculture with Timothy Leary once introducing him as “one of the five or six most important people on the planet.” McKenna spoke on a wide array of subjects including; shamanism; metaphysics; alchemy; language; culture; self-empowerment; techno-paganism; artificial intelligence; evolution; extraterrestrials; science and scientism; the web; virtual reality and aesthetic theory or art/visual experience as information.
In mid-1999, after a long lecturing tour, McKenna returned to his home on the Big Island of Hawaii. A longtime sufferer of migraines, McKenna had begun to have increasingly painful headaches. His condition culminated in three brain seizures in one night, which he claimed were the most powerful psychedelic experiences he had ever known. McKenna was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. McKenna died on April 3, 2000, at the age of 53.
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