It is undeniable that the modern psychedelic culture owes its existence, to some degree, to the great bard, Terence McKenna.

According to James Oroc, in his new book The New Psychedelic Revolution, McKenna was one of four people who helped usher in the psychedelic culture as we know it today. Along with Sasha and Anne Shulgin, and Alex Grey, McKenna contributed to the bolstering of interest in psychedelics (primarily DMT and psilocybin) in a time where the disappearance of available LSD jeopardised the movement as a whole.

Regardless of McKenna’s particular role in modern psychedelic history, his work has become a cultural force to reckon with to in the modern era of internet psychonauts. His eloquence, intelligence, and far out ideas can be found in hundreds of hours of audio and video (and thousands of clips) across the internet. Ideas like ‘five dried grams in silent darkness’ (#5DGISD), ‘cultures is not your friend’, and ‘DMT machine elves’, have become nearly ubiquitous psychedelic memes. His ideas sit in the upper echelon of pop-psychedelic culture. He has become an icon and a role model for many people in that culture, and a frequent entry point for young psychonauts. (Including myself.)

With such an incredible influence, it is vitally important that we think critically about his ideas and the context from which those ideas were born. This, however, is rarely the case in most pop-media subcultures and the psychedelics scene around Terence McKenna is no exception. In turn, some of his ideas, like any unchecked ideas from quasi-scientific spiritual philosophers, have become dangerous. Mitigating that danger means thinking critically, even with (perhaps especially with) our cultural role models.

Terence McKenna played a considerable role in my journey with psychedelics, both for good and for the not-so-good, and I want to honour that role.

In this video, I explore some of the criticisms of him that have been showcased on my podcast, as well as my thoughts on McKenna. He was an incredible man, with an incredible mind, deserving of respect and gratitude for all that he contributed to the modern psychedelic world. This includes the respect granted in honest (and loving) criticisms.

**** Featured image, as well as the YouTube thumbnail, is courtesy and copyright of Mesloes. 
She’s fantastic; check her out here.


Clips featured in this video:

Liberation Through Unknowing | Martin W. Ball – ATTMind Ep. 5 (podcast interview)
James Kent On Ketamine Addiction, Terence McKenna, and Going Off The Rails (YouTube video)
Daniel Waterman’s Open-letter to me re: McKenna’s feature in my Top 5 Psychedelic Books video (facebook post)
Top 5 Books On The Psychedelic Experience (YouTube video)

Ayahuasca & I: Not Your Typical Trip Report (essay mentioned)
🍄 Decomposing The Shadow (my book on working with psilocybin mushrooms)

Dennis McKenna – The Screaming Abyss – PART 1/2 | London Real (YouTube video)


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2 Comments

  1. Hi James! Great post!

    At the end, Terrence was a human after all! 🙂

    I’m Luis from London Real and I’m honoured you quoted us in your video! You can find this clip I did when Dennis was in the show… More or less , I’m talking about the things you are addressing in the post!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kakyht8G3wg

    Thanks for your work see you soon!

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