July 16, 2013
Psychedelia A-Z index
Now Playing: Black Country Gang

Been a couple of months since the last time, so here's a pointer to an extensive (19 pages) A-Z index to my Psychedelia book. It's in PDF format and can either be used on-line, or printed as a hardcopy and inserted into your book.


Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 16:18 MEST
July 11, 2013
"Peyote To LSD", 2008 documentary
Now Playing: Soundsations LP on Phalanx

This seems to be a TV production for the History Channel, but is available as a commercial DVD. I'm not sure what its production history is but it looks like it might have been a confused one. The bulk of it is a documentary based on Wade Davis' celebrated biography of the great ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Both Schultes and Davis are given plenty of space in my Psychedelia book, and there is indeed much of value in their respective stories, particularly for those with a penchant for Amazonian entheogens. A camera team follows Davis as he traces Schultes' steps from a Kiowa peyote ritual to daredevil exploits in the remotest part of the Amazon rainforest. The various psychedelic plant drugs that Schultes discovered or documented are shown in vivo and as used in rituals, while Davis professes his admiration for the great teacher.

This is all shot in a 'point and roll' manner, like a news feature, and there is no ambition whatsoever to engage the viewer in anything more than listening to Davis and watching natives. It's somewhat like the old education reels shown in class in high school--information adequately summarized. In addition to a bit of creative flair, the movie would have been served by drilling down in a couple of the native drug scenes encountered, instead of moving onwards after just a few introductory minutes. Davis arranges for rituals with various plant drugs, yet we are not shown or told anything about what goes on, instead in the next shot he's already getting into a jeep somewhere else.

Comments from Andrew Weil, Jonathan Ott, John Halpern, Jeremy Narby, Ralph Metzner and a few others are heard, but except for Weil it's just brief soundbites that could have been uttered by anyone, and the purpose is presumably to demonstrate Schultes' high standing in the psychedelic community. The greatest problem to me is the strange way that the DMT aspect is botched. There are several minutes about ayahuasca, but despite the recent production year the movie fails entirely to deal with the Western resurgence of DMT use, along with the increasingly strong ayahuasca wave of the past 20 years. I'm not even sure DMT or dimethyltryptamine was mentioned, which seems extremely odd in a documentary about a man who spent decades wrestling with the mysteries of ayahuasca. Conversely, much is made of Schultes' involvement with peyote research, a brief, early enterprise where the main scholarly responsibility soon fell upon Weston LaBarre, who is mentioned only in passing. A balanced view would reverse the time slots awarded to peyote and ayahuasca, or better yet, expand the ayahuasca segment to three times its length and included modern-day research, the Terence McKenna factor, and so on. From my view, the movie seems to have been edited by someone with a very poor understanding of the subject.

The Schultes/Wade backbone runs a little over an hour, but should have been longer. Instead a 90 minute playtime is created by inserting at various unstrategic points the standard story of LSD and the psychedelic 60s and all that crap you've heard a hundred times before. Any notion of the radical developments within the psychedelic field during the 1990s and 2000s seem to be unknown to the creators of this documentary, who instead summon up the dead horse of MK-Ultra experiments and Tim Leary's maverick ideas for another flogging. I actually had to double-check the '2008' production year because these "contextual" segments look to date from 1988 or so. A sequence of Albert Hofmann turning 100 finally convinced me.

How is it possible to make a psychedelic documentary in 2008 and not be aware of the massive wave of entheogenic awakening in progress since the late '80s? Who today needs to hear ancient info about "acid" and "the sixties" when a much broader and more profound exploration of psychedelic drugs, both organic and synthetic, is going on around the Western world?

I doubt Wade Davis is to blame for these uninformed and clichéd segments. If I were to guess, I'd say someone took a documentary that was almost exclusively about Schultes, cut out some plant drug stuff that should have been left in, and added a bunch of dated shit about LSD and hippies in order to make the movie easier to sell and promote.

I wish someone could hook up with Wade Davis for a real Schultes study, with camerawork, audio and editing that makes you feel the realness of the jungle and the madness of the yagé, passing along vital bits of info on the great man while the creativity uses its psychedelic theme in the proper manner.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 20:27 MEST
June 26, 2013
Psychedelic Poles
Now Playing: Brazil-Uruguay in Confederations Cup

A blog editor in Poland sent me a bunch of intelligent questions related to the Psychedelia book, which I answer to the best of my ability. Check out the brand new interview at the Magivanga blog.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 22:47 MEST
June 8, 2013
Merry Prankster Trip on DVD
Now Playing: Bureman & O'Rourke

Anyone reading this is likely to have seen the 2011 documentary Magic Trip already, so I'll spare you the full disclosure. It took two experienced docu film makers to figure out how to handle the technical problems with the Further bus trip footage. As Jane Burton laments in the voice-over (actually an actress reciting Burton's words), a major problem with the Merry Pranksters was that they believed that just because you wanted to do something, you could also do it--as though there was no learning curve. So when they set out to make a movie, they didn't know about the most fundamental things such as using a clapper for audio/visual synchronization, or shooting recurring establishing shots that made the location and situation clear. The 40 hours were an out of synch mess, which the remaining Pranksters worked decades to sort out. The video material released in the late 1990s was the first truly watchable version, but it revealed other problems with the material, such as most of the audio being incomprehensible, even if now more or less in synch. And there was still no narrative framework, making it acceptable mostly to fans who already knew the story in and out.

What was done with this new, professional documentary was to allow the Pranksters themselves provide running commentary to the images seen on the screen, using either existing recordings, or adding new recordings with Pranksters and actors. This is much more effective than the modern intro provided with the circa 1999 self-released VHS movies (in 2 parts), and it gives both context, narrative thread and a professional feel. With these fundamental problems solved, the viewer's focus is directed where it should be long, which is the beautiful and often spectacular footage from the coast-to-coast bus trip. Shot with 16 mm cameras much of the footage is in remarkably good quality, some of it so pristine it looks brand new and therefore slightly surreal (same effect as the Jim Morrison 'HWY' footage inserted into People Are Strange). In addition, there are several minutes of never-before seen footage from the return home leg through Canada, including a beautiful communal trip on JT 191 by a rural lake. And so finally, after almost 50 years, the film that shows the Pranksters' search for the Kool place has been packaged in a lasting format that can be consulted when anyone wants to learn about Further and Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. I wish it could have been even longer than 100 minutes, but that's the fan-boy in me speaking.

So, the DVD version. The bonus material includes a half-dozen omitted scenes, all of which were worth seeing, if brief. The most remarkable was a parachute flight including footage of the bus from above; although shaky and fuzzy, it's unique and surprising enough that it should have been included. There was a brief visit to Las Vegas that is hardly ever mentioned in the Further chronicles, and one wishes the band would have stayed there a day or two and kept the cameras rolling. A few other snips follow, including one that shows the bus being towed into a parking spot after the trip, and some surprising footage from Mexico 1966, with the core Pranksters joining Kesey. They are seen at a bull-fight, but not much more. Ditto for the highly interesting Berkeley Vietnam Day prank which Kesey calls one of their best efforts, which is what I've always felt too. They were decades ahead of their time here... in fact people still haven't understood the importance of this message. You do not win over an opponent by opposing him with his own tools on his own arena; the only thing you do is strengthening him. Ralph Metzner said much the same thing in a 1967 interview. The acidheads know, some day the rest will follow.

Finally, there is a 50-minute audio recording from Kesey's first hallucinogen trip at Menlo Park, an item of extraordinary historical value, and pretty funny too, in parts.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 22:05 MEST
Updated: June 8, 2013 22:18 MEST
June 3, 2013
"Psychedelia" reviewed in Flashback magazine
Now Playing: Stud LP from Texas

The new British magazine Flashback featured a lengthy review of Psychedelia in the most recent (#3) issue. Written by Gray Newell, the review is both enthusiastic and psychedelic in its own right.

"This groundbreaking examination of humankind’s long relationship with psychedelic drugs ensures [Lundborg's] place in psychedelic history. Based on over 20 years of original research, it outlines a new thesis that overturns many commonly held misconceptions of the phenomenon. The volume’s scope of is remarkable, covering such a range of subject matter that every page seems crammed with both esoteric facts and illuminating insights..."

"...Encyclopaedic in its coverage and enlightening in its message, Lundborg’s treatise deserves to be the catalyst for a new generation to turn the key and unlock the mysteries of the universe. His achievement is to draw so many seemingly disparate strands together into a cohesive whole, without overwhelming or breaking his narrative thread. Visionary artist Anderson Debernardi’s suitably striking cover painting makes it a very handsome volume, and the colour plates (reproducing rare items from the author’s own collection) perfectly compliment the text. Psychedelia is a milestone, and unhesitatingly recommended to anyone with even the slightest interest in the subject."

Thank you Flashback and thank you Gray Newell, whose own contributions to psychedelic musicology have enlightened numerous souls!

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:33 MEST
May 27, 2013
The Joyous Cosmology
Now Playing: Justice label mix-CDR

Review by Patrick Lundborg 

It is a pleasure to observe the continuing interest in Psychedelia around the world, the latest sign of which is a new edition of one of the early classics, Alan Watts' The Joyous Cosmology. Originally published in 1962 this has been out of print for decades, while the interest in Watts shows no signs of declining; on the contrary. During the 2000s, Watts has become probably the second most sampled voice heard on psychedelic ambient and downbeat electronica tracks (after the omnipresent Terence McKenna). Watts' thoughts, and the Joyous Cosmology in particular, was also a primary source text for my recent book Psychedelia, as will be shown below. Prior to that, a bit of background on the great man. 

With a mind both open and agile, Alan Watts (1915-1973) examined a wide range of esoteric traditions. The fruits of his studies he passed on to curious Westerners in a variety of formats, beginning with radio shows in California, but also through books, lectures and recordings. The latter produced the now-legendary 1962 LP This Is IT which today is considered a vital prototype for the eruption of psychedelic pop culture in the mid-'60s. At the time Watts' interest in psychedelic drugs was at its peak, and he diligently experimented with the major hallucinogens and observed his reactions. This period of mind expansion was documented in The Joyous Cosmology, a slender volume which stands as Watts' most important work today, and a given inclusion in a library of psychedelic source texts.

The Joyous Cosmology resembles Huxley's The Doors Of Perception to some degree, and the classic work of Watts' fellow British ex-patriate may have served as inspiration for his ruminations. While comparisons aren't entirely meaningful, one might observe that Watts' conclusions are just as useful as Aldous Huxley's, perhaps even more useful from the perspective of a modern reader. Watts contemplated the psychedelic state for a longer and more variable time than his colleague, allowing him to formulate viewpoints that are less anecdotal and less private.

At the same time, Watts' intelligent and slightly trickerish personality is much in evidence throughout the book, and his substantial training in the spiritual traditions of the East clearly allowed him to accept the often ambiguous and contradictory flow of psychedelic cognition. If at certain turns the LSD experience seems to reveal itself as meaningless, then so be it; so, too, does the Buddhist path at some points in that journey. Watts' conclusions on the psychedelic state and the workings of the mind are valuable, but he is equally able to drill down into the here and now of a trip through Innerspace. His detailed recollection of listening to classical music on LSD is one of the very best replications of the strange state of confusion and euphoria, and melancholy and brilliance, and numerous other moods that one experiences during the trip. It works as an excellent chapter for non-acidheads to find out what it's like to be on LSD, and it also proves that psychedelic trips can be described in words, despite some people's claims.

The Joyouos Cosmology was a significant source text for me when developing the psychedelic philosophy described in my book Psychedelia--An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way Of Life (2012). Watts' readiness to discuss the hallucinogen trip as a spiritual experience in itself, rather than as a metaphor or gateway into something else, offers a useful model in general terms, but there was also a direct, specific influence. What Watts ultimately found in his LSD and psilocybin trips was the notion that life could be approached as purposeless play. As I point out in Psychedelia this phrase comes from John Cage, but Watts appropriated it for his own purposes. What he seems to mean is that the quest into the essence of psychedelic ideation does not produce a distinct answer about existence in the traditional Western scientific sense; it is more like a cat chasing its own tail. Yet there is great joy and stimulation in the psychedelic activities, and Watts finds in this a satisfactory result of the series of trips he took. It could be described as a Taoist-like position, and falls well in line with Watts' overall spiritual orientation.

The phrase 'purposeless play' also works as a bridge across traditions otherwise far apart. As discussed in Psychedelia, the way Watts phrases his conclusion is reminiscent of ideas presented by the German phenomenologist Eugen Fink, who in the notion of 'play' found an acceptable representation of a metaphysical conundrum otherwise out of reach for the human reasoning mind. When engaged in 'play' we are able to come closer to the actual nature of the world than through any other activity, according to Fink.

Further aspects on the matter are discussed in my book, to which I refer for a complete explication of this psychedelic philosophy (or psychedelic phenomenology). Suffice it to say that Watts' book provided me with one of the key pieces when putting together the large psychedelic puzzle presented in Psychedelia. Most appropriately, I was engaged in a discussion about Alan Watts and this very book just the other day, when being interviewed for an upcoming podcast about psychedelic culture.

Alan Watts and The Joyous Cosmology have always been held in high regard among psychedelicists, yet one might argue that its full potential as a canonical work hasn't yet been properly realized. To this end, this new edition from New World Library appears perfectly on cue, beautifully designed and given an updated context in a new introduction by noted psychedelic researcher Daniel Pinchbeck. The original foreword by Tim Leary & Dick Alpert, written when the two were unknown researchers at Harvard Psych, is retained and shows the reader how much, and how little, psychedelic culture has changed in 50 years.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:46 MEST
Updated: May 28, 2013 20:27 MEST
May 14, 2013
Let's Have A Luau
Now Playing: Paul Page

I finally found some spare time to go through and file the stacks of books, records and paraphernalia I've assembled over the past year. One thing that I've only given a cursory look before is this rather wonderful songbook featuring the late, great Paul Page.

There is a paragraph or so in the Psychedelia book devoted to Page, who was one of the most persistent and unswerving visionaries in the field of Exotica. Although he couldn't really sing he wrote plenty of songs paying tribute to the Polynesian islands and the Pacific Ocean, and recorded many of them for his self-released albums, using top-notch Hawaiian session men for backing. Page elegantly solved the problem of his non-vocal ability by adopting a half-spoken, half-sung style much like Eden Ahbez, who may in fact have inspired him. Paul Page has become a cult name among Exotica aficionados today, and rightly so. While no drugs except maybe Coconut Rum were involved, an album such as The Reef Is Calling transports the listener to a beatiful, joyous, inviting place, just like Eden's Island, and like much of the best psychedelia.

Paul Page is also discussed at some length in the Exotica 'Special Feature' in the Acid Archives Second Edition.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 21:59 MEST
Updated: May 14, 2013 22:03 MEST
May 1, 2013
Psychedelia on the air
Now Playing: Bolder Damn

After connecting with noted writer/researcher Erik Davis a couple of months back, Erik invited me to appear on his recurring radio show on PRN, The Expanding Mind. Together with his co-host we spent an hour discussing the psychedelic experience and psychedelic culture based on topics raised in my book. I am not too experienced with live Q & A situations but I think it came out fairly well. You can hear the whole thing here:

As I mentioned to Erik, some of his writings from the early 2000s had inspired me, since he managed too understand the field of psychedelic research while still analyzing it objectively, a much-needed and surprisingly rare position. Many of you reading this probably already know who Erik is, if not I urge you to check some of his writings out.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:16 MEST
April 30, 2013
The real Woodstock nation
Now Playing: Ricky Miller "Meet Ricky Miller"

These were going round back in 1983 -- look familiar?

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 21:38 MEST
April 17, 2013
Dear Albert

It was 70 years ago today
Albert Hofmann taught the world to play

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:28 MEST
April 15, 2013
Interview with Shindig magazine
Now Playing: Ishq "Orchid"

The hip faces at Shindig! magazine are launching a snazzy web presence which, among other things, includes a long interview with yours truly, waxing irresponsibly on dangerous and illegal substances. Thanks to Jeff Penczak who not only read my Psychedelia book (see review at Ptolemaic), but took the time to contemplate and raise a number of highly valid questions within its domains. Here's Jeff & me:

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 22:12 MEST
Updated: April 15, 2013 22:38 MEST
April 5, 2013
The A-Z index
Now Playing:

Seems the time is right for another round with the A-Z index for the Psychedelia book. As indicated in the book (contents page) we decided to put the index online rather than having to expand the already sizable tome with another 32 pages. This is the more eco-friendly solution!

Here's the index as it looks today, from Aaronson to Zukav:

The new version is considerably expanded vs the earlier one. You can either use the PDF as a digital file stored online/tablet PC/smartphone, or you can print a hardcopy and insert it into your copy of the Psychedelia book.

I feel that this post does not conform well to the ideals of Purposeless Play. Perhaps this image can offer some compensation:

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 00:01 MEST
April 2, 2013
MOJO working
Now Playing: The 49 Minute Technicolor Dream (Bam Caruso)

Inside my Easter Egg was a special surprise gift in the form of a rather friendly review of Psychedelia in the mighty Mojo magazine. I didn't see this coming but maybe I should have, in view of their helpful support for the self-published and obscure Acid Archives book long ago.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 19:12 MEST
Updated: April 2, 2013 21:19 MEST
March 31, 2013
Easter Everywhere !

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 00:42 MEST
March 28, 2013
Exhibition of drug-influenced art

Sous influences, arts plastiques et psychotropes
15 février - 19 mai 2013

A French connection tipped me off about this rather sizable exhibition of art created under the influence of drugs, including plenty of psychedelics. I won't make it there but secured a copy of the catalog which displays a large number of very interesting works from famous and less famous artists of the past 150 years (the catalog is in French).

The venue is "The Red House" in Paris:

la maison rouge
10 boulevard de la bastille
75012 paris france

Featured artistes: Adel Abdessemed ( 1971 ) , Pablo Amaringo ( 1943-2009) , Antonin Artaud ( 1876- 1948) , Art Orienté Objet ( 1991 ) , Jean-Baptiste Audat ( 1950) , Aurèle ( 1963) , Martine Balata & René Jullien (1947 et 1947), Edson Barrus (1961), Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960- 1988), Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), Hans Bellmer (1902- 1975), Bruno Botella (1976), Lilian Bourgeat (1970), Tania Brassesco & Lazlo Passi-Norberto (1986 and 1984), Jean-Louis Brau (1930- 1985), Nathalie Brevet_Hughes Rochette (1976 and 1975), Mathieu Briand (1972), David Brognon & Stéphanie Rollin (1978 et 1980), Jiri Černický (1966), les Frères Chapuisat (1972 et 1976), Jean-Philippe Charbonnier (1921 -2004), Jean-Martin Charcot (1825- 1893), Larry Clark (1943), Lucien Clergue (1934), Jean Cocteau (1889- 1963), François Curlet (1967), Luc Delahaye (1962), Hélène Delprat (1957), Jeroen de Rijke & Willem De Rooij (1969 et 1970-2006), Hervé Di Rosa (1959), Léo Dohmen (1929- 1999), Jean Dupuy (1925), Miguel Egaña (1952), Erró (1932), Esther Ferrer (1937), Robert Filliou (1926- 1987), Henri Foucault (1954), Michel François (1956), Alberto Garcia-Alix (1956), Nan Goldin (1953), Raymond Hains (1926-2005), Gary Hill (1951), Damien Hirst (1965), Carsten Höller (1961), Irvin Penn (1917-2009), les Iconoblastes, Mati Klarwein (1932-2002), David Kramer (1963), Yayoi Kusama (1929), Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux (1950), Joris Lacoste (1973), Isabelle Le Minh (1965), Jean- Jacques Lebel (1936), Pierre Leguillon (1969), Claude Lévêque (1953), Guy Limone (1958), EliLotar (1905- 1969), Robert Malaval (1937- 1980), Alberto Martini (1876- 1954), Batan Matta (1943- 1976) , Philippe Mayaux (1961), Fiorenza Menini (1970), Henri Michaux (1899- 1984), Takashi Murakami (1963), Youssef Nabil (1972), Helio OIticica (1937- 1980), Nam June Paik (1932-2006), Frédéric Pardo (1944-2005), Antoine Perpère (1949), Francis Picabia (1879- 1953), Gabriel Pomerand (1926- 1972), Daniel Pommereulle (1937-2003), Frédéric Post (1975-), Markus Raetz (1941), Arnulf Rainer (1929), Martial Raysse (1936), Eugène Richards (1944), Gianfranco Rosi , Ben Russell (1976), Bernard Saby (1925-1975), Bryan Lewis Saunders (1969), Jeanne Susplugas (1974), Fred Tomaselli (1956), herman de vries (1931), Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885- 1939), Pierre Leguillon (1969), Tony Bouilhet

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 21:35 MEST
Updated: March 28, 2013 21:44 MEST
March 19, 2013
Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss
Now Playing: Velvet Underground "Who Loves The Sun"

As I mentioned in the earlier post about Terence McKenna and his legacy, Terence's brother Dennis has written a book about their shared past, titled "Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss" (2012). I'm going to lame out in terms of doing a formal review, there are plenty of such at anyway. While checking out the amazon feedback, be sure to read the few negative or lukewarm comments, as they bring up a couple of vital points one needs to know before diving into the book.

Subtitled "My Life With Terence McKenna" the book gives the impression of being the story of their shared experiences over the decades, the hallucinogenic aspects in particular. The initial marketing suggested that the book would reveal lots about Terence and the experiment at La Chorrera that wasn't previously known, which certainly had me interested enough to drop $100 in the Kickstarter offering plate.

Having read the book, I think both marketing and subtitle are misleading; it's basically a book about Dennis McKenna, with some chapters about his brother. It is by no means a biography of Terence McKenna, and its value for someone writing such a biography is surprisingly limited. We never get inside Terence's head, in fact we barely come close enough to look into his eyes, and despite a number of previously undocumented details, the book reads like someone trying to describe an old childhood friend who they fell out of touch with long ago. The bulk of the book, however, does not deal with Terence at all, but rather with the McKenna family, including uncles and grandgrand parents, and with Dennis academic career.

It's not sufficient to be interested in Terence McKenna to get some milage out of this book--you need to be interested in Dennis McKenna. Due to his lifelong involvement with psychedelic plants, I am personally interested in Dennis McKenna, but I think the vast majority of prospective readers have this book on their radar screen because of the Terence factor, and this difference is why I feel unfit to review it properly. I will say this though; Dennis trip report from an ayahuasca session in Brazil is one of the best and commendably detailed I have read in quite some time. And it's interesting to note that he remains ambivalent about the La Chorrera experience, dismissing it as "nonsense" at one point, yet clearly unable to let go of the old experiment and its ideas.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 01:53 MEST
Updated: March 19, 2013 01:55 MEST
March 14, 2013
Terrascope review
Now Playing: Rick Saucedo LP

Terrascope on-line, the digital mutation of the renowned psychedelic publication Ptolemaic Terrascope, recently published the longest and most detailed review of Psychedelia so far. Kudos to reviewer Jeff Penczak for his commitment to the task, which led to an excellent understanding of several vital aspects to the book.

 " addressing almost every walk of life, Lundborg has in effect created The New Psychedelic Bible... an early candidate for Book of The Year, one which I will return to often to feed my head, re-energise my mind, and rejuvenate my consciousness."

Right on! Here's the whole Terrascope trip.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:07 MEST
March 12, 2013
"Psychedelia" reviewed at Psypress
Now Playing: Donovan "Jersey Thursday"

The fine Psypress website has been going for several years now, and I recall promoting it back in my Eternal Now daze. It's been expanded with several contributors and a professional look, while the contents feature a mix of academia and lysergic anarchy that I enjoy. An illuminated review of the Psychedelia book appeared in late February, courtesy Henrik Dahl. Check it out!

" impressive and highly enjoyable contribution to the expanding field of psychedelic literature."

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 23:25 MEST
March 4, 2013
McKenna reconsidered
Now Playing: Terence McKenna "Tryptamine Consciousness" (1982)

A dozen years after his untimely death, our perception of Terence McKenna is still up in the air, still very much in a formative stage. Very little has changed in the way Terence is revered (frequently) and criticized (rarely). His person and work are treated as though he was still alive, an impression no doubt strengthened by how hundreds of his hypnotic lectures are broadcast around the globe 24 hours every day. In addition, no new figure-head has emerged within the field to extend, update or replace St Terence's gospel. For reasons like these, the psychedelic underground has clung to the McKenna that he himself designed and presented, with very little in terms of clarification or questioning.

When Terence's brother Dennis in 2011 announced via Kickstarter that he was embarking on a book project that would tell the "actual" story of his life with Terence, including unknown details about the La Chorrera experiment, the excitement was obvious. Many people including myself contributed to the funding of Dennis' writing project, which reached fruition via the book Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss published in late 2012--amusingly, very close in time to Terence's famously prophesized 'end of history'.

Prior to this, updates leaked out from the ongoing project, most notably via an Esalen Institute event that was also podcast at the Psychedelic Salon in July 2012. The fallout from the sharing of this book excerpt and the related conclusions drawn by presenter Bruce Damer were more dramatic than those involved may have expected. Many psychedelicists popped up to comment on the information revealed, some notably hurt or even incredulous. While this response may not have been the main reason, the most crucial paragraph was ultimately removed from Dennis McKenna's finished book. In other words, this information can only be gathered from the Esalen event and the subsequent debate. Even this podcast was temporarily removed from the internet, but it is now available again, presumably without any editing of 'sensitive' passages.

So what, precisely, caused this brouhaha? Here is what Dennis McKenna wrote and later removed from his book manuscript:

"Terence's pivotal existential crisis came abruptly. Sometime in '88 or '89. Everything that happened after that event was fallout. I don't know exactly when it happened and I don't know exactly what happened. I am piecing it together from what Kat has told me and she has volunteered few details and I am reluctant to probe. It happened when they were living for a time on the Big Island and it was a mushroom trip they shared that was absolutely terrifying for Terence. It was terrifying because, for some reason, the mushroom turned on him. The gentle, wise, humorous mushroom spirit that he had come to know and trust as an ally and teacher ripped back the facade to reveal an abyss of utter existential despair. Terence kept saying, so Kat told me, that it was, "a lack of all meaning, a lack of all meaning." And this induced panic in Terence and probably, I speculate, a feeling that he was going mad. He couldn't deal with it. Kat's efforts to reassure him were fruitless. After that experience, he never again took mushrooms and he took other psychedelics such as DMT and Ayahuasca only on rare occasions and with great reluctance."

Those well familiar with Terence McKenna's career will appreciate the loaded nature of this revelation. In case one fully does not realize the implications of it, Esalen speaker Bruce Damer goes to some length to high-light how Terence's terrifying shroom trip affects the impression of his last decade. What has upset and troubled many Terence fans is the realization that while the man travelled around the world advocating the use of 'heroic dose' psilocybin trips for crowds of thousands, he himself had been scared so badly by a mushroom trip that he gave up shrooms altogether. And this double book-keeping went on for 10 years. Privately Terence would question the value of his teachings and his role, but in public there is no notable shift whatsoever in his message before the terrifying trip in the late '80s, and after it. A person with a critical mindset could draw strongly negative conclusions from this, and even through the most benign lense, it is a troubling revelation.

But there is another aspect to this recent information that I personally find more troubling than the masquerade that has caused Terence fans to feel confused or betrayed. From a few additional comments made at the Esalen gathering, it appears that the theme of Terence's dramatic bad trip dealt with his emotional involvement with other people, a private conundrum which brother Dennis in his book traces back to an event involving their father in Terence's childhood. While charming and extrovert in his role as a bardic performer, Terence apparently strove to avoid any deeper private relationships, and the mushroom 'spirit' (or his own subconscious) presumably took him to task for this unfulfilled aspect of his life. This would be a fairly typical admonition towards self-improvement to receive under psychedelics, and any experienced psychedelicist--and this would certainly include Mr McKenna--knows that there's nothing to do but roll with the punches when you're getting roughed up for your shortcomings as a human being. Yet it seems that Terence could not accept or handle this one, and instead he did the classic beginners mistake of rejecting the warning message. Rejection, denial or other defensive responses will unfailingly trigger the negative spiral of a bad trip, at the end of which one may find an existential abyss like the one described above.

The crucial point of this scenario isn't that Terence had a bad trip, but that he couldn't handle the criticism that Innerspace levelled at him. Such a reaction is not something you would expect to find in a person with 25+ years of heavy psychedelic trips behind him. The psychodynamic cleansing of inner wardrobes and private skeletons is something you tend to deal with at the beginning of the psychedelic career, not towards the end. The question being raised, and this is what troubles me, is whether Terence McKenna had gone through all his psychedelic adventures without ever actually facing an inner confrontation of personality, defenses and hang-ups that is crucial to further spiritual growth on the path of the trip. Is it even possible to chew down 5 grams of dried Cubensis for two decades and never having to pass the rough crash course in self-improvement referred to as 'Gnothi Seauton [Know Thyself] 101' in the Psychedelia book? 

Terence McKenna repeatedly rejected LSD due to what he called its 'abrasively psychoanalytic' nature. I never quite understood what he meant, but the new information from brother Dennis & co suggests that what Terence referred to was not some intrinsic flaw in LSD, but rather that the acid kept bringing him to doors that he was not interested in opening. To whatever degree these things can be generalized, it seems that LSD per se offers a structured progression in which the psycho-dynamic baggage must be dealt with in order to reach further heights, or else it will be a meaningless experience of funny colors, emotional stalemate, or even a bad trip. The beloved Psilocybin and DMT however, while they insist on self-improvement just as strongly, will still offer plenty for the mind to work with, even if the door to Gnothi Seauton 101 remains closed. The Mushroom Voice ('the Logos') and the various entities will still be there and happy to impart wisdom and dialogue which has no bearing on the inner emotional imbalances of the tripper: even without cleansing there will be a show. And Terence, the self-confessed 'vision freak', was all about the impersonal presentations in Innerspace, from the sight of gigantic spaceships to conversations with little elfs about the future of language.

Is it possible that someone, a person of a brilliant mind, could spend 25 years in the farther reaches of Innerspace and never once face the forceful demands on inner cleansing and self-improvement? If this was the case with Terence McKenna, and it does seem to match the new insights that have emerged, then a plate loaded with food for thought has just been served. Not just concerning the man himself and the nature of his personality, but also about the long-term relationship between psychedelicists and Innerspace, the supposed aquisition of wisdom from these experiences, and the possible need for a more directed or explicit model for beginning acidheads. It is vital to go through Gnothi Seauton 101, the earlier the better, and the longer you try to evade it, the harsher it will ultimately become. As Terence McKenna seems to have learned the hard way.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 17:13 CET
Updated: March 4, 2013 21:21 CET
March 3, 2013
Magic mushroom advise
Now Playing: Trees "Garden Of Jane Delawney"

This subject recently came up elsewhere and reminded me of something that was scheduled for inclusion in the Psychedelia book, but dropped in the final editing. It addresses a familiar problem that anyone home-growing mushrooms will face; which is the wildly uneven ratios of psilocybin and psilocyn in different 'flushes' (harvests). Not only that, but even within one flush there will be large differences in how potent the individual shroom specimens are.

This inserts an unwanted element of hazard into the sacred mushroom culture. You simply cannot be sure what the right dosage is, and once you've made the decision and chewed the little devils down, there is little in the way of turning back. However, there is a way to handle this dilemma which is particularly fitting for those handling larger volumes of psilocybian matter. As follows...

To work around the dosage problem that is inevitably there with mushrooms, do as follows; first cut and grind the entire stash into a pile of tiny, crumb-size pieces, and mix and turn the pile over thoroughly. Using appropriate household tools, you then stuff these ‘mushroom crumbs’ into clear plastic capsules, preferrably 00 size. Make sure that each capsule is jam-packed with shroom. You now have a number of psilocybin capsules of (statistically) identical strength. To determine what that strength is, you eat one of the capsules, i e: you take a trip. Prepare yourself carefully for the experience, as always. Take note of the effects during the trip, i e; how stoned am I? After coming down, you should be able to judge whether you need 1, 2 or 3 capsules to get the high you desire, and the dosage will be the same each time. The larger batches you use, the more advantage you will have of this method. The capsules are also convenient for long-time storage in the freezer.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 22:35 CET
Updated: March 3, 2013 22:36 CET

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