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January 4, 2014
McKenna Mushroom Redux
Now Playing: Small Faces

In an earlier post I philosophized at length about the implications of Terence McKenna's reported bad trip on psilocybin and how it caused him to stop taking mushrooms entirely, even as he was travelling the globe preaching their wondrous effect. There was quite a bit of activity on the psychedelic circuit after this revelation from brother Dennis, and you can read more about it here:

What needs to be added now is the fact that Dennis withdraws his claim that Terence gave up psychedelics. The presumed bad trip, as a distinct event, is looking increasingly dubious too--instead Dennis offers vague general talk of 'midlife crisis' and 'doubts'. So basically the whole drama has fizzled out, and if Dennis had been a little more cautious in how he phrased this aspect of his brother's biography, it needn't ever have happned. Unfortunately I think we're going to see half-informed bozos and anti-Terence people restating the "bad shroom trip" saga for many years to come.

So just for the record: Terence McKenna did not stop using psychedelic drugs, including mushrooms, in the 1990s, and if and when he had a bad experience in the late 1980s is unknown beyond hearsay.

Let's stick to what Terence did do and did say instead. This guy, Martin W Ball, had quite a lot to say about that. It's kind of harsh and biased and egocentric, but still worth reading. Ball brings up the idea that the singing machine elfs that Terence saw in DMT space were in fact hallucinatory mirror images of himself, the great eloquent orator and trickster, singing objects in existence; a possibility that I too pointed towards in the McKenna chapter in my Psychedelia book. Ball has more to offer on St Terence, most of it negative or even contemptuous on a strangely personal, ad hominem level.

His theory or Entheogenic Paradigm is pretty interesting however, with a marked buddhist flavor rather than the shamanic perspective that tends to dominate today. Along the lines of higher mahayana teachings, Ball suggests that content-bearing visions, such as persons or places, are hallucinatory mirror images of lingering parts of the ego, meaning that visions of formless, ego-transcending, non-dual energy fields will come once the psychodynamic matter has been fully cleansed. His ideas have grown out of experiences with 5-MeO-DMT and Salvia, which contributes to his different point of view. Except for the unpleasant tone, an interesting essay: Terence on DMT: An Entheological Analysis of McKenna’s Experiences in the Tryptamine Mirror of the Self


Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 21:25 CET
Updated: January 5, 2014 01:04 CET

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